Thursday, January 28, 2010

Homemade Pizza Night

I used to make homemade pizza on Friday nights.  Then my family got larger (they eat fast and they eat a lot), which made it hard to keep up with homemade pizza production.  After getting The Pioneer Woman Cooks, I am finally able to make homemade pizza for my family again.  The pizzas bake very quickly, so we can have several done in a shorter amount of baking time.  My kids are also older now, which makes them better at helping with the pizza assembly.

Here is her delicious crust recipe (this makes 2 generous pizza crusts):

1 1/2 c. warm water
1 t. active dry yeast
4 c. flour
1 t. salt
1/3 c. extra virgin olive oil

Pour the water into a med. size bowl and sprinkle the yeast over the water. Let it sit.
Combine the flour and salt in a mixing bowl. 
With the mixer on low speed, drizzle the oil into the flour/salt.
Gently stir the water/yeast mixture and gradually add it to the mixing bowl with the flour/oil.
Mix until the dough forms a ball. 
Drizzle a little oil into a clean bowl.  Turn the ball of dough in the bowl to coat with oil.
Cover the bowl with a moist towel and let it rise in a warm place for 1-2 hours.

To make the pizza:
Preheat oven to 500 degrees.
Divide the dough in half--1 piece for each pan. Lightly grease the pizza pans.
Using your hands, stretch the dough to edges of the pans, pressing with your fingers.
Layer on the toppings and bake for 8-10 minutes.

This dough may be wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and kept in the fridge for up to 3 days, or frozen for up to 6 months.  (I haven't tried either yet. I usually double the recipe and  make 4 pizzas, in hopes of lunch leftovers. The pizzas in the picture above were made with the recipe doubled.)

We like to make chicken/bacon/ranch pizza.  We use ranch dressing in place of pizza sauce, then layer cooked chicken, crumbled bacon, and thin sliced tomatoes.  We top it with shredded co-jack cheese.
My family loves this crust--make it and enjoy!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Another blizzard, seriously?

Today my kids had a 2 hour late start for school.  And an early out--at 11:00.  Yeah...they went to school for an hour from 10-11 am.  (The homeschooled kids had a normal school day, minus writing. We don't take snow days, we take spring days.)
Our weather forecast was for 1/2-1 inch of snow overnight and very windy conditions.   We woke up this morning to 4 inches of snow and it was still snowing.  The late start was a surprise we didn't expect.  As the morning progressed, several schools went ahead and cancelled.  Our school did not. After the kids left for school, the wind really picked up.  I mean REALLY.  I got a text an hour later that they were going to be home soon.
Here are some pictures of what it looks like around here.

No travel recommended, I-35 closed north of Ames.

Wind, snow, driveway and sidewalks drifted...again.

Extreme boredom (She likes to go to school. The girl, not the dog.)

Teenage boys playing video games. (Oh yeah...and asking me for food.)

Believe it or not, we don't have to count this as a snow day.  Apparently 1 hour of school counts as a day.  It's the only good thing about having a late start and an early out.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Happy Birthday to You!

Today is my niece's birthday.  She is the cutest thing.  I wish we could celebrate with her today.

We love you Jessie! Hope you have a wonderful birthday!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Colorado Ski Trip -- part 3

Just had to share a few more pictures.

This cracks me up because they are wearing boots and swimsuits.  (Oh yeah, and then there's the snow in the background.)

The pool had steam coming off of it.  They felt great in the water.  When I told them it was time to go,  they got out of the water and were freezing and shivering immediately!

Walking around in the village:

After the Chris Thile and Punch Bros. concert:

The beautiful Rocky Mountains:

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Colorado Ski Trip--part 2

This is our fourth year to come to Colorado to ski in January.  My family loves to ski.   I love to read books by a warm, crackling fire, while my family skis.  And I love to drink hot chocolate with my darlings when they need to warm up.

The first year we came to Beaver Creek in Avon, Colorado, my family looked like this:

And this...      
(look at these baby faces)

Jan. 2007
Ellyn (12) and Brandon (14)
Meggan (6) and Ryan (8)

Now they look like this:

and this...
Ellyn (15)     Meggan (9)     Ryan (11)     Brandon (17)
Jan. 2010

Today is their last day to ski.  I am sorry to report that Byron woke up with a pounding headache and could barely eat breakfast.  He had to go back to bed...on the last day of skiing. The kids were stunned and sympathetic.  After lounging around for a while, Brandon, Ellyn and Meggan got their gear on and left to ski.
Ryan picked up his book.  He didn't care if he didn't get to ski anymore.  Byron does care--he wanted to get an early start, since it was the last day. I hope he can make it out at some point today.

update:  Byron made it out to the slopes after lunch and enjoyed an afternoon of skiing with Brandon and Ellyn. Yay!

Tomorrow we will get up early and eat breakfast on the run.  We will spend the day in the van and feel very happy when we arrive home.


On another note...a musical note, that is...

Brandon, Ellyn and I get to see Chris Thile and the Punch Brothers tonight in the impressive concert hall here in the village.  We have seats 11th row center.  (Christ Thile is a mandolin player/singer/song writer extraordinaire and overall musical genius, who played with the acoustic trio Nickel Creek before they parted ways.)  He formed this new band with four other extremely talented musicians, and they play a blend of bluegrass-folk-classical-jazz.  I can't wait to hear them.  We are so excited!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Beaver Creek -- Avon, Colorado

Ellyn would say this is her favorite place on Earth. 
It's easy to see why--this is my view out the back door of our condo.  If I would get out of my slippers and pj's, I could give you even more spectacular views. 

The only thing that could make it better would be if our dog Mandie was with us.  We miss her terribly when we come here (some of us more than others), but we leave her in good hands.  (Thanks, Mitch and Lindsey!) 
Did you know her ears feel like velvet?

The drive here is very long. We leave at 5:00 am or before, depending on the weather.  Everyone is in good spirits, since we are on an adventure.  We watch movies, eat, take turns driving, play tons of music from our ipods, read books, and sleep. 

This kid barely makes a peep for most of the drive.  He's always been a great traveler.

This kid asks "how much longer" over and over.  She's always been a terrible traveler.  (This is Meggan with our friends' dog Bear.  She dresses him like a girl whenever she gets a chance.  Sorry Jeff and Travis.)

Then in the afternoon, after hours and hours in the van, someone notices something on the horizon:

Within minutes everyone gets very excited, because we have reached the mountains.

From this point, we still have about 2 hours to drive before we reach Avon, CO.  The rest of the drive is strikingly beautiful as we drive through the Rockies.  It seems to go fast, unless it's snowing and the driving conditions are slow and stressful.  This year our drive was uneventful.  The weather was great, so Byron had Brandon drive through the mountains.  He did a great job.  (Better than I would have done, because I would have been a nervous wreck.  All that down shifting so you don't burn out your brakes...  yikes.)  I took the stretch in western Nebraska.  Talk about uneventful.  The only excitement is if you get stopped for speeding.  (I didn't this year.)

Before long, we pull into Ellyn's favorite place on Earth--Beaver Creek.  It is a favorite for the whole family.
(Ryan would say not true for him. He's too much of a homebody.) 
I'm still not sure which family member loves skiing most--Byron, Brandon or Meggan. 
They are all crazy for skiing; and Ellyn just loves the entire package of this trip.
And me...I like to go almost anywhere with the whole family.
And I love to take pictures of beautiful places, especially while in my slippers and pj's.

 More tomorrow...

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Old Lockers

In December, Meg Duerksen wrote a post on her blog Whatever about painting old lockers red and using them in her craft room.  It was love at first sight for me.  I kept thinking of all the sewing and craft supplies I own, and how fun it would be to stash all that stuff behind cute red locker doors.  I really wanted to find lockers.  On a whim, I checked Craig's List and got lucky--an antique store in my area had some lockers!  My devoted husband agreed to drive me over the very snowy roads so that these beauties could be mine:

You might be thinking that they aren't all that beautiful... but in my eyes, they were a treasure (and they were cheap).  I saw so much potential.  I knew they were meant to be mine, and I couldn't wait to give them a good home. They were neglected and needed some love, and my gallon of barn red paint was waiting to be used.  Byron and the shop owner loaded them up.  They fit in our van (barely) after Byron removed one of the seats.

I saved the painting for after Christmas.  After completing this project, I have two recommendations:

1.  ANY graffiti/permanent marker on the fronts of lockers should be covered with KILZ stainblocker/sealer.  It should be covered with KILZ first, not after trying several coats of paint first.  Marker will bleed through paint.

2.  After using the KILZ (which is white), follow it with a coat of gray primer--not more red paint.  Do not try to cover white paint with red paint.  Red paint won't cover white paint...not even 3 coats of red paint.

I finally finished painting them and I love how they turned out.  They are already full of my craft goodies and they look so much happier.

                  I'm sure you can see the happiness too...

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Pioneer Woman's Cinnamon Rolls: I finally did it!

I have never made cinnamon rolls.  I love to bake, but I have never made cinnamon rolls...until NOW.
 I always wanted to know how to make a big, delicious pan of cinnamon rolls to serve to my family for Christmas breakfast.  Delivering a pan of warm rolls to friends or neighbors seemed so appealing.  I finally did it! I made them two days before Christmas.  The recipe is in Pioneer Woman's cookbook and was easy, delicious, and made a lot (about 45-- I used 6 round foil pans).  My family enjoyed them right out of the oven--we just couldn't wait until the next morning for breakfast.  We also gave a couple of pans to friends and froze 3 pans (which traveled to Missouri) for Christmas morning breakfast.  It may not seem like any big deal, but I have ALWAYS wanted to be able to do this.  It feels great to cross it off my list.  I think I will make some more this weekend. : )

Thursday, January 7, 2010

While it still feels a little bit like Christmas...

I'd like to post some of my favorite Christmas pictures, before the new year gets away from me.  Right now I'm still in Christmas mode.  The snow storms and snow days contribute to the mood!  I can't even bring myself to take down the Christmas tree, because I am enjoying this slow-paced, crafty, relaxing, yummy-baking, postChristmas mood around my house. (and yes, I am still playing Christmas music too.)  Love it!

Here are some of my favorite pics from December:


BINGO game after opening gifts with my side of the family.

Meggan learned to make giant snowflakes.

Our Christmas tree
Brandon and Ellyn at their band concert.

We went bowling Christmas night, and Ryan
won big at the arcade.