Thursday, December 31, 2009

Week 36-Retrospective

Tuesshredded beef and potatoes
Wedschicken fingers and sweet potato fries
Thurs steak, shrimp, cheeses, munchies
Fri lentil soup
Extras pizza; homemade tortillas for chip plate
It's the last day of the year, so I'm offering a "retrospective" of the week's menu, since no plan was ever made. End of the year, time to clean the cupboards and work through the holiday left-overs. Enjoy the night (complete with a Blue Moon), and happy cooking in the new year.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Oatmeal for dinner

We spent this afternoon and evening driving back from family Christmas celebrations in Iowa. We made a mid-afternoon fast-food stop, and snacked on some party mix en route. By the time we got home the kids were ready for a warm bath and I was ready for a bowl of hot oatmeal. Simple, warm food to get us ready for bedtime and help soothe stomachs full of rich holiday fare.

Made me feel like I was in a Quaker Oats ad. I guess the house couldn't be chock-full of unpacked luggage, bags, boxes and new toys for that little illusion of contentedness to work. Anyway, for now the kids are all nestled snug in their beds and giggling their heads off about something or other. For my part, I'm going to go make a nice hot tea. Happy holidays.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Week 35-Ready for Christmas

MonAu Jus French Dip (4-ingredient slow-cook recipe from HyVee cookbook)
TuesLeft-over lasagna
WedsChicken Noodle Soup (Deceptively Delicious cookbook)
Thurs Oyster Stew
Fri tbd (Christmas!)
Extras Chicken Fingers
Somehow everything from last week's menu plan did eventually get made, so I picked some less involved items for this week. Have a bit to do before Christmas and I don't want extra time in the kitchen. I am planning to make a Blueberry Swirl Cheesecake that I made for a bake sale, but have never actually tasted for myself. I have a great aunt visiting who celebrated her 90th birthday this past weekend and want to have a nice dessert on hand. Otherwise, there's a Christmas party for tonight, then putting together our final cards for the mail by tomorrow. Good luck with your preparations this week, and happy cooking.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Cookie Time!

My 4-year-old and I had fun decorating some cookies earlier this week. She vastly preferred the taste of the canned "squirty" frosting to the Royal Icing I made. Youth! Anyway, it made for nice variety when we decorated -- especially after I chilled out and let us both enjoy the festive mess.

As a side note, she did her decorating while topless, sporting a Superman cape. Wonder if that would pass muster in professional bakeries for food prep. The baker wears a hair net, but no shirt. Maybe if s/he's not otherwise hairy? Hmm.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Week 34--What was I thinking?

MonRed Lentil Soup (Le Creuset recipe I sampled at Cook's on Grand last week)
TuesTurkey pot pie (Taste of Home)
WedsMaple glazed meatloaf (newspaper recipe)
Thurs Rotisserie chicken with mashed potatoes and veggies
Fri Goulash and biscuits
Extras Cuban rice (rice w/tomato sauce
Made this menu plan on Saturday when it seemed like spending a couple hours making dinner each night this week would be simple. Wrong! So here I am at Wednesday and I haven't followed the plan too closely. At any rate, I'm showing what I planned, and these items will probably show up for the next couple weeks until I actually get them all made. As for last night, I ended up just frying chicken tenders with lemon pepper seasoning, making a side of rice and heating up a pre-fab (store-bought) Indian side dish. Lovely. Happy cooking.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Caveman Cooking

This just tickled my funny bone. The ultimate kitchen tool!
Photo courtesy of ThinkGeek.

By the way, I did make a menu plan way back last Saturday afternoon. I've just not made an online appearance with yet. Suspense is becoming almost intolerable out there I know.

I'm going to go pound some steaks now.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Parker House Rolls & Banana Cream Cheesecake

I'm showing the rolls I made for Thanksgiving, primarily because this site is in desperate need of some eye-candy. The kids gobbled these up, I think in part because of the fun croissant shaping. The recipe is from my "Beard on Bread" cookbook, for Parker House Rolls. Lots of raising time required, but they were fun and turned out well.

I also made a Banana Cream Cheesecake. I had been looking at pie recipes on epicurious but didn't have the time to pursue one of their typical 2-day cheesecake recipes. I gave this one a try from Taste of Home and thought it was excellent! Better than your usual banana cream pie.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Soothing Snibble

I've been casually attempting to learn to knit over the past month, not very successfully. Until tonight.

I found a knitting movie that had tremendous promise just by nature of the site design. Deliciously tacky. Then I played the video.

I didn't so much watch the video as let the comforting grandmotherly voice that used words like "snibble" roll over me. Within a few minutes, I had successfully knitted for the first time. So what does this have to do with cooking and kids? I wonder if this is about knitting at all and is more about defining a state of mind.

I feel like testing the effect of this video on some other tricky task. Oven repair? No problem honey. Let me grab my knitting video first. 12-hour, 3-day Epicurious birthday cake recipe to make? I'll do it while polishing my toenails and reading to the kids -- just as long as I've got the knitting audio on.

Who knows. Some people pray. Some people meditate. This ranks somewhere...

Week 33 - Extra! Extra!

MonRed Lentil Soup (Le Creuset recipe I sampled at Cook's on Grand last week)
TuesRavioli with ham and peas (Taste of Home)
WedsPancakes/French toast
Thurs Spaghetti & meatballs
Fri Chip plate w/refried beans, avocados, tomatoes, cheddar, etc.
Extras Sweet potato fries/mash; salmon patties; turkey & cheese melts on tortillas; turkey, peach jam, cottage cheese, cheddar wraps on tortillas; jelly, banana & cream cheese wraps on tortillas; veggie burgers; smoothies; go on a freezer expedition
I'm solo parenting for a few days this week, so this menu plan involves a lot of extras I can use depending on what the mood dictates for lunches, snacks, or dinner. I'll let you know if I end up just serving cereal those nights in reality. Happy cooking.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Monday, November 30, 2009

Falafel update

Casbah brand is my new favorite. In the organic section at Cub, and probably at many other stores w/organic mixes. They don't fall apart, and the flavor and texture is excellent. Bliss.

Week 32 - Au Jus!

MonAu Jus French Dip (Hy-Vee Cookbook)
TuesChicken stir-fry
WedsWild rice soup (Hy-Vee Cookbook)
Thurs Lasagna
Fri Alfredo w/chicken and broccoli
Alt chicken and sweet potatoes
Anyone who has been a teenager in non-rural Iowa (ha ha, yes, that's more than 10 of us thanks much) has probably worked at Hy-Vee grocery stores. That's where a couple recipes are from this week. Made the Au Jus tonight and it's a keeper. I'll include the recipe below since it was so easy and good. Happy cooking!

Au Jus French Dip - from HyVee Cookbook
1 can cream of onion soup
1 can or equivalent beef broth
1 can beer
3-4 lb beef roast

Put all in a crock pot on low for 8 hours. Shred meat and serve on hoagies.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Week 31 - Cupboard Clean-out Days

MonDirty rice (Chachere's box)
TuesRigatoni Isabella
WedsFalafels (trying Casabah brand this week)
It's Thanksgiving week and we'll feast on left-overs post Thursday, so that leaves just MTW to plan. Plan, we did not. Borrowed unmade and alternate items from last week and bought a spare gallon of milk over the weekend to get us through. Will have to pick up some groceries mid-week for the dinner rolls I'm bringing Thurs and a dessert yet to be chosen. Nice break from the routine. Happy cooking, hosting, or visiting this week.

Sunday, November 15, 2009


Ok, I made these weeks ago, but thought I'd finally post a picture of what they looked like.

These were really fun and easy to make, even for a pot-sticker novice such as myself. I ate half of them in one sitting, none too disappointed that they did not suit the kids' tastes. "Don't like them sweetie? Ok. Here, have some more cheese and crackers." [insert photo of me inhaling the remaining bits]. Mmm.

Here's a link to the recipe if you're interested in trying them. I didn't change anything, though think the dipping sauce could be modified to different tastes/options.
Shrimp pot-stickers

Week 30 - Chili moves up the ranks

MonRotisserie chicken
TuesLeft-over chili from freezer on oven baked potatoes
WedsFalafels (trying Casabah brand this week)
Thurs Rigatoni Isabella
Fri Chicken fingers and sweet potato oven-fries
Alt dirty rice; pizza
After 3 weeks of consecutive appearances, chili finally moved from an "alternate" to an actual meal plan this week. I've noticed a personal trend lately toward insta-menu planning. If a shopping window appears, I scribble out a list and go! Doesn't matter how creative or well-planned it is sometimes, just having some ideas (and ingredients) in place makes me feel less stressed about the inevitable "What's for Dinner?" question. Happy cooking.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Week 29 - Dizzy Dogs and more

MonDizzy Dogs w/mashed sweet potatoes (Cooking for Kids)
TuesWild rice stuffed chicken breasts (Von Hansen's meat shop)
WedsTortilla soup (Rival Crock Pot Cookbook)
Thurs Greek meatloaf (Opaah! from last week)
Fri Steak, potatoes, collard greens
Alt falafels; frozen left-over chili
The "dizzy dogs" were my son's pick after he saw a picture of them on the cover of a cookbook. You take the hot dog of your choice and wrap it in store-bought refrigerated bread stick dough so the dough spirals around the hot dog. Put a little egg white on the dough and sprinkle with poppy seeds. Bake for 12 min. They were pretty tasty. Happy cooking.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

New Addition

My husband's enthusiasm was unstoppable. After a call from my brother today offering a portable dishwasher for the taking, we have a new addition in our kitchen. For those of you that have been in my kitchen, you may be wondering the obvious: WHERE would it go?

This was my hesitation over the whole deal. 32" high counter tops right next to the modern-height dishwasher. It interrupts the window. It blocks access to some infrequently used cupboards. It has to be rolled across the room to be used. Net effect: It looks homeless.

7 hours into it, I have to admit I see glimmers of possibility. Sure, we'll revamp our kitchen one of these decades, but in the meantime, I did enjoy loading it up tonight and abandoning the kitchen sink. This just might work out. By the way, Matt is really excited about the fruit bowl being located on top of it. Note the empty counter space to the right where it used to sit. I'm a little baffled, but to each his own.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Week 28 - Soup, Souffle, Spaghetti

MonRoast tomato soup over couscous w/cheese melts (Crock-pot cookbook)
TuesSpinach souffle (Mom Barb's recipe)
WedsBarb's spaghetti (makes extra to freeze)
Thurs Greek meatloaf (Opaah!)
Fri Chicken, snow peas, mashed potatoes
Alt falafels; frozen left-over chili
My sister-in-law had tomato soup and grilled cheese for dinner with her family last week. Then I was out with friends and the subject of tomato soup came up (canned? from scratch?). I think it's been almost 10 years since I've enjoyed that meal, so thought I'd try a new tomato soup recipe this week and see how it goes over.

I ended up making an ultra-simple dish for the potluck last week, courtesy of my Mom's kitchen. My mom is the ultimate short-hand cook. The less time in the kitchen, the better! She suggested buying some chicken wings and legs (thank you Sam's Club for the 800 pounds of leg and wings now filling my freezer), and pouring a bottle of barbeque sauce over them. Normally you can just cook them in your crock pot that way, but we put them in the oven until they were done to make sure they cooked through in time. It was so easy and good! Did I actually "cook" anything? I don't think I did. Wouldn't have done that 5 years ago, but I didn't mind at all last week. There were 3 dishes of chicken enchiladas there, so I guess it's good I didn't opt for that recipe. So many other good things I tasted for which I wish I had recipes. Happy cooking.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A Note on Falafels

This is a picture of sand. It could also pass for the spitting image of the falafels we made Monday night.

It was around a hot cauldron of boiling oil in Hurgada, Egypt that my husband and I developed a keen taste for falafels. Our kids haven't exactly developed it yet, but we keep trying and figure one of these days it'll take. Or maybe we'll just have to head back to Egypt and let some experts do the convincing.

I've made falafels from scratch a couple of times. My favorite from-scratch version is Bon Appetit falafels with cilantro yogurt, if you want to try it. Usually, though, I buy boxed mixes that only require water. The problem the past few years has been finding a consistent source that carries the brand I like.

Monday night we tried a new brand (Fantastic Foods). The flavor was excellent, but the product itself fell completely apart no matter what variations in cooking and ball-making we tried. It was so bad that we resorted to making little open-faced pitas with cucumber sauce and crumbs (the falafel) sprinkled generously on top. They simply wouldn't keep their form. So, I was surprised when a review I came across tonight included that brand among the favorites. Hmph. Maybe I need a hot cauldron of oil?

The most consistent brand I've found is Manischewitz. They know how to make a tasty falafel that holds together with minimal skill or effort. Cub (my local grocery) no longer carries them, and the other markets I've tried have other brands I don't like as much. Alas. Near East is a passable second, but they tend to have tiny hard chunks (chickpea, presumably) that make the texture less pleasant. Know a source for Manischewitz in the Twin Cities? Let me know!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Week 27 - Van Plan

Mon rigatoni isabella
Tueschili con carne (HyVee cookbook)
Thurs coffee-braised short ribs with ancho chiles (Bon Appetite, Oct '04)
Fri preschool potluck (still need to pick what to make)
Alt rotisserie chicken; breakfast
Had a busy weekend of camping, getting kids' pictures taken, and unpacking. We talked over a menu while driving from pictures to music class. While the boys were at music, my daughter and I ran to the store for a quick weekly grocery trip. Worked splendidly! Helps that we still have 2 recipes left from last week that went unmade, and have Friday night out. Any potluck favorites you can recommend? Happy cooking.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Cool Halloween Treats

Just saw these ideas on the Taste of Home website and thought the strawberry ghosts and ogre eyeballs in cocoa were too cool.

Photo from Taste of Home website.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Inspiration Shopping

I've been in a lunch-rut with my kids, so I opened myself to "inspiration shopping" at the grocery store Sunday night. "Inspiration shopping" being: look at items on the shelf with the idea that it might offer a new lunch possibility. This probably strikes some of you as obvious, but I tend to slavishly follow the list barring major sale items, so it felt mind-expanding to me.

With the help of my preschooler, here's what we came home with in addition to our pre-planned ingredients:

- can of chicken noodle soup (soup is not usually a big hit w/my kids, but she was fascinated by it coming in this form)
- veggie dip to increase the appeal of fresh-cut veggies at lunch
- frozen burritos and ingredients for fresh-made tortillas/burritos
- deli turkey (recalling we enjoyed "oven melts" for a time w/turkey and cheese)
- raspberries (they're not just for breakfast anymore!)

We had the veggie dip today. I loved it, my preschooler preferred the veggies without it, and my 2-year-old ate ONLY the dip, using the veggies as a scoop. We covered all the bases!

Week 26--Pasta and Beef

Mon goulash
Tueschicken enchiladas (Better Homes and Gardens)
Wedspasta puttanesca (Viva Italia)
Thurs coffee-braised short ribs with ancho chiles (Bon Appetite )
Fri chili con carne (HyVee cookbook)
Alt spaghetti and meatballs; cuban rice
Matt made the plan this week on Sunday afternoon. A nice mix of familiar and new, fast, and more involved. Happy cooking!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Fast-Food Fixation: Cured, for the moment

Bad-food admission: For the past month I've packed more fast-food into my kids than they've had in their entire lives. We visited McDonald's, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Wendy's, whatever was close at hand at least once if not twice a week for quick snack fixes. Did three times ever happen? I hope not. Rarely a full-on meal, but I'm sure that happened too at least a few times.

This week it fell apart for me. We stopped for some very tasty chicken poppers (KFC--way better than nuggets for my tastes) for an add-on to the foods I had prepared for our morning out. I finished the snack, and felt like I didn't want another bite of fast-food for the foreseeable future. Considering we usually only eat the stuff on road trips or a rare treat (shots at the doctor? how about a McD's playland!), this isn't usually an issue.

The question now is, have I now destroyed their taste for real food? I hope not. Part of my binge was inspired by needing more lunch-time inspiration. The good news is, I think I've found renewed motivation, at least for my own palette.

Any good easy lunch ideas your kids like? Share! My husband just read a story about a McDonald's burger that was found a year later in a pocket, looking oddly similar to when it was purchased. Maybe my kids will age more slowly based on this month's diet. Yikes.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Week 25 - Hibernation = Experimentation

Monpumpkin ravioli (Oct/Nov issue of Taste of Home)
Tuesglazed shrimp and asparagus (Oct/Nov issue of Taste of Home)
Wedsbeef stew (Oct/Nov issue of Taste of Home - can't find link)
Thurs pepper lime chicken and wild rice (Better Homes and Gardens)
Fri dirty rice (Chachere's box)
Alt shrimp pot stickers (Oct/Nov issue of Taste of Home)
It's happened. Cold weather is upon us and I'm once again happy to spend more time in the kitchen. I picked a handful of recipes from my newest Taste of Home that looked interesting. I tried the "alternate" shrimp pot stickers recipe this afternoon and loved them. Highly addicting. I'd never made pot stickers before, so was happy that they came together easily. More on that in the next day or two -- I have pictures! I have a banana bread baking in the oven right now. Ahh. The smells of a cold weather kitchen are in the air. Happy cooking.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Week 24-Chicken, Fish, Pasta

Monchicken fingers & squash
Tuesfish, potatoes and greens
Wedsrigatoni w/sausage & peas (from Viva Italia)
Thurs black bean & pumpkin soup w/ginger (from Once Upon a Tart)
Fri spaghetti and crusty bread
Alt burgers & oven fries
Something's happened where menu planning has taken approximately 4 minutes the past few weeks, including the time it takes to write the grocery list. I've been relying on lots of familiar recipes, adding only 1 or 2 new recipes a week which helps. I love it when you actually become more efficient (certainly not lazier/sloppier) at something. How often does that happen?

I also have a recipe from "Once Upon a Tart" this week, which is my favorite cookbook that I hardly ever cook from. Once Upon a Tart is a fun little bakeshop/cafe in NYC I used to go to occasionally for lunch or afternoon treat. I'm impressed the owners were willing to publish their recipes. They probably figured that no one in NYC cooks anyway, so no risk of losing customers that way. Nice resource for those of us that no longer have access to their cafe. Happy cooking.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Wednesday Afternoon Cook-A-Thon

My youngest took an unexpectedly long nap Wednesday afternoon, and my preschooler and I took to the kitchen.

We spent 2 hours chopping, smooshing, toasting, mixing, steaming, and baking. Here's what we ended up with:

- roasted pumpkins for pumpkin pie
- toasted pumpkin seeds (yum!)
- chicken mole
- guacamole
- 4-year-old doing the dishes (yesss)

The most fun I've had in the kitchen in weeks. Bliss.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Breakthrough Moment

It's small, I know. But when my kids dove into the rigatoni-butter-parmesan noodles I prepared like it was the best thing to happen to lunch in weeks, I was thrilled.

Last week I'd made another box of weekly mac and cheese (various brands and noodle styles tried), only to have none of it touched. They must have just gotten burned out on the stuff, even though we don't have it THAT we?

Small victories with small stomachs is always a satisfying thing. When it's a homemade meal that took possibly less work than tearing open a box of mac and cheese, it's even better.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Week 23 -- Cupboard-Cleaning

Monchicken mole with chipotles (Bon Appetit "International Cooking" from last week)
Tuesfalafels (Bon Appetit "International Cooking")
Wedsburgers and homemade oven-fries
Thurs stir-fry with beef
Fri some sort of soup...
Alt pizza; chip plate w/refrieds and garden toms
Looking at the cupboards, there are a lot of good candidates for meals this week. I just have to pick up some stir-fry ingredients and a few basics that we're lacking. I love ending the month on a cheap, fast grocery trip. Oddly satisfying.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Week 22 - International Mood

MonDone...but we had a goulash made of garden toms and random left-over noodles from the cupboards
Tuesgrilled salmon and asparagus
Wedsburgers and homemade oven-fries
Thurs chicken mole with chipotles (Bon Appetit "International Delights")
Fri Chinese cashew chicken (Crock Pot Book left-over alternate recipe from 2 weeks ago)
Alt BLTs; pizza
Finally made it to the grocery store this morning. The kids were oddly excited to go (the lure of a "rocket-ship cart" carries enormous weight), so I seized the moment. I quickly put together a menu and shopping list then took advantage of grocery-store specials to round out specifics (e.g. "fish" was on the list--I picked up salmon based on prices; ice cream was NOT on the list, but was such a good deal that it had to be purchased).

There was a desperate scene as I finished bagging groceries. We were all pretty hungry, so I tore open the deli turkey and they ate slices while I finished bagging. Then I got out apples and we snacked on those as we rolled out to the car. Sort of a refugee-lunch, but I think they ate more that way than they usually do sitting at the table at home. Happy cooking.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Chef or Cleaning Crew?

Back from a blissful week of no cooking or cleaning, where my most challenging daily dilemma was choosing a restaurant for dinner, I am confronted this Sunday night with a familiar question:

If given the choice between having a chef at home every meal, every day, or a cleaning person (lady, man, whatever sex gets the job done), which would I choose?

Right now, I'd have to say the chef. This is assuming they're making the menu, buying the groceries, and doing at least a somewhat considerate job of not trashing the kitchen (to ease clean-up since in this scenario I am the cleaning lady).

Sure, cooking is the more creative pursuit, but if I think about how much time I spend each day cleaning vs. cooking and prepping meals, cooking is the hands-down more time consuming task. Ask the dust bunnies in my house. They will answer. And they will agree. They're hardly disturbed in the average day around here!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Week 21 – Food-tainment

Spaghetti and meatballs w/crusty bread
We're home one meal this week, so the bulk of my menu-planning focused around foods that would be entertaining and at least moderately nourishing to my kids on an airplane. I'm flying alone with them, leaving at 5:20 at night, arriving about 4 hours later. I can't imagine a much worse time to travel alone with 2 young kids, so I did what any mom in a similar position would do. I went to Target.

You can see the results of my trip in the picture. The apples, matchbox car and monkey stickers do not appear, but are key ingredients as well.

I picked foods that were different than what they'd usually get (e.g. instead of Archer Farms fruit strips, I grabbed some slightly overpriced Cliff fruit twists that look fun). I'm going to break this stuff up into little packets so there's not quite the sugar-overload that appears here. I'm packing a mini veggie-dipper mix as well to make sure something that actually grew in soil reaches their palettes.

I spent way too much time staring at ingredients lists on those nifty single-serve drink mix flavors. I don't care for the taste of aspartame or sucralose, so ended up with Koolaid. I'll fill a couple travel mugs with water once we're past security and shake in a bit for a tasty surprise.

For those of you doing so this week, happy cooking.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Week 20 – Family Choice

MonPasta Puttanesca w/crusty bread (Viva Italia)
TuesMeatballs Avgolemono (Opaah!)
WedsSteak and mashed w/corn on cob
Thurs Chicken fingers (Epicurious)
Fri Tilapia fillets w/asparagus
Alt Chinese cashew chicken (Crock Pot Book)
I put the menu out to the family this week. As in, "What do you want to eat this week?" I picked the fish and cashew chicken, and the other selections are from my husband and kids.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Menu Planning Circa 2019

I've been talking with siblings and friends who have teenagers, and am trying to picture how my own family's evening meals will look 10 years from now. For now, I can hardly comprehend what they're talking about. Some examples:

"My son isn't usually home until around 7:30. By the time he's done with school, then football practice, it's late. He has money to get a pre-practice snack or something if he needs it."


"My husband and I aren't usually home until 7 or 7:30 from our jobs. The kids usually take care of heating up their own meals."

What??? In this time of teaching them to not put their food in the milk, sit at the table when we eat, and obsessively figuring out if they've gotten their servings of veggies for the day, these kinds of comments are almost incomprehensible. I suspect that all too soon the evening meal will be marked by how many boxes of frozen pizza or cans of spaghettios we find in the trash, consumed at some unknown hour when we were lost in a book, pruning in the tub.

Shh. I think I hear someone raiding the fridge.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Lizard Cakes II

I tried a from-scratch white cake recipe I found on epicurious for the dino cake. It was a bit dry to me. The cupcakes were made from my favorite go-to cake recipe, found in Deceptively Delicious. They have pumpkin and yogurt in them and always have good moisture and flavor. Now we're enjoying the leftovers!

(2 posts be/c this silly format won't let me post more than 1 image!)

Lizard Cakes I

Here's how the birthday cakes came out. The t-rex cake rated high on drama, as it was tearing into the cake before we even had the candles in. The crocodile cake was based on images I found online. My son said, "That's pretty cool!" when he first saw it. I had to agree, even though I couldn't take credit for the idea.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Week 19 – Tomatoes!

MonBarb's spaghetti (Happy Birthday Oscar!)
TuesBLTs w/avocado
Wedstomato quiche
Thurs pasta puttanesca (Viva Italia)
Fri burgers and sweet corn on the grill
Alts chip plate; pizza
Our garden is giving us a handful of fresh tomatoes daily now. Friends and family have recently brought more to our door. Hence, the theme of this week's menu. My mom also brought some fresh sweet corn from Iowa. Mmm. Will be enjoying that a few days this week as well. Happy cooking.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Green Lizard Things

We're deep in birthday-planning mode as our two kids' birthday weekend is coming up. One wants a tyrannosaurus cake, the other wants crocodile cupcakes. Not sure how it happened, but edible green lizard-like creatures are all the rage.

Looking for ideas to make cool croc cakes led me to the images shown at this Coolest Cakes site. Inspiring to see what people have come up with! I think green food coloring is in my near future.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Week 18 - Buns and Birds

Monturkey cutlets w/sweet corn (Viva Italia cookbook)
Tuesveggie burgers and carrots
Wedsbrats and beans
Thurs rotisserie chicken with mashed potatoes and veggies
Fri lasagna (Parent's Mag recipe from Aug '09)
Alts steak; pizza
I'm still looking for turkey cutlets, so will shop tomorrow and substitute chicken if I strike out. We got a Sam's Club membership over the weekend and I just came across some bulk shopping recipes. I'll have to see if I can put together some ideas and do a bit of cooking ahead for once (2 lasagnas for the freezer? a couple batches of Grandma Barb's spaghetti?). Happy cooking.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Fancy Fast Food

Nevermind how I came across this site. It's hilarious. Probably won't get any usable cooking ideas, but it is undeniably brilliant.
Fancy Fast Food

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Week 17–Gen X Menu

Monturkey cutlets w/sweet corn (Viva Italia cookbook)
Wedsbeef tacos
Thurs rigatoni w/sausage and peas (Viva Italia cookbook)
Fri pizza
Alts salmon and greens; breakfast
Tacos, pizza, pasta. Things I didn't have often as a child, but consider essentials in my kitchen. I wonder what our kids will make as adults? Happy cooking.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Lazy Weekend

Time to pack for a trip to Grandma's. Will do some planning for next week's menu when we're back. The only thing jotted on my kitchen chalkboard for now is for a Friday pizza night since we have a coupon for $5 pizza that day. Can't go wrong!

The picture is here to show what our garden is currently producing. Should have more carrots to harvest by the time we're back. The grassy pieces are actually leeks that I think will never mature before fall. The greens are tasty though.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Watching Dough Grow

The kids had fun measuring how bread dough grows while making a pizza with Dad this weekend. They recorded the start time, then drew circles for the 2 subsequent raisings. Cool!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Week 16 - Easy Summer Cooking

MonBLTs (never had them last week)
Tuesburgers and sweet potato fries
Wedswild mushroom and beef stew (Crock Pot cookbook)
Thurs stir-fry chicken with coconut milk and garden veggies
Fri steak with squash kabobs on the grill, beans
Alts homemade pizza; alfredo chicken w/broccoli
We're technically only half-way through, but lately I've felt like summer will be wrapping up soon. To combat this nonsense (it's only August 8 after all) this week's menu will celebrate simple summer food. Ok, there's one crock-pot stew recipe. Call it the Freudian slip of the week. Happy cooking.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Fish Heads

Here's a portrait of the tasty trout we made this week. We caught fish during our vacation, but were in catch-and-release mode. I think there were only two that approached pan-size anyway. The trout you see here are from the fish market down the street. Aren't they lovely?

I had never cooked fish with heads still attached before, so that was a fun experience. Very easy, although they came off when I flipped the fish. Apparently they need to be fairly supported.

I wasn't sure how the kids would react, but we decided to dive in and present it as a cool, fun thing. Fortunately, it went over well. Our 3-year-old was thrilled to cook fish this way, and ate an entire one for herself. She kept saying, "I love it!" Our 1-year-old didn't touch any of it. He's likely more interested in seeing them swim than fry at this stage.

I used a recipe from an old Bon Appetit and mistakenly added all of the Cajun seasoning to the vinagrette, not dividing it as the recipe indicates. Fortunately I tasted it before using the sauce and realized my mistake. Had enough ingredients left to remake the sauce and it came out nicely. I backed way off on the seasoning for the fish to make it less spicy for the kids.

Here's the menu if you're curious: Trout w/Tropical Fruit Salsa and Mixed Greens

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Menu-plannning = Cheaper groceries (for me)

I have a theory based on the cooks I know that the less reliant you are on following recipes, the better you are at making good use of your pantry ingredients.

I'm a recipe-follower to a fault. This may be why when I started making weekly menu plans, my grocery expenses went down noticeably. I have less stocked in my cupboards at any given time than I used to. In fact, by the end of the week sometimes they echo. It also means if unexpected company arrives, it might be great (there's a plan), or an excuse to order a pizza (i.e. "Old Mother Hubbard").

Tracking our grocery expenses for nearly 10 years now, there's been an unscientific drop of at least 20% in our grocery bill for the average month since I started shopping from a menu-oriented list. Sometimes more. It's contrary to what I've read about stocking up on bulk items or sale items to save money.

That brings me around to my conclusion that if you can look at the cupboard and invent, no doubt you'll save money shopping in bulk. It doesn't work that way for me. Now where's my list?

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Week 15 - Gone Fishin'

Monturkey meatloaf (leftover from last week)
Tuesfalafel w/pita
Wedschow mein with crunchy noodles (leftover from camping)
Thurs BLTs
Fri trout with mango & pineapple salsa (Bon Appetit, Sep '03)
Alts homemade pizza; breakfast (pancakes/french toast)
We're spending the next few days at my uncle's on the lake ("up north" to ye fellow Minnesotans). In honor of the event, trout will make the menu this week, as well as some cupboard-cleaning menu items since I/we won't have time to do a serious shop.

I'm excited about possibly fishing this weekend. I rarely do it, but know it's a cultural essential living in this state. I had a client actually say he "got out in the fishbowl" everyday during his recent vacation. Fabulous. For those of you NOT out in the fishbowl this week, happy cooking.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Dinner guests, no entree

I invited my sister-in-law and her kids over for dinner last week. She was alone with the kids for the week and needed a change in scene. I wanted to keep it simple since we were just back from vacation and not in the mood to do any serious cooking.

Everyone came over at about 5:15, which was great. I had the mashed potatoes rolling, salad ready, and was going to run to the store a couple blocks away to grab a couple rotisserie chickens. I show up at the store, and the chicken guy is handing out little slips of paper. Seeing no chickens on the rack, I say as calmly as possible, "When's the next batch coming up?" He responds, "Friday or Saturday. Want a raincheck?" As luck would have it, the chicken truck didn't arrive this morning.

Now what?

I don't feel like running all over town, so quickly browse the store for inspiration and find a sale on salmon. Fast to cook, everyone likes it (I hope). I get to the check-out and the clerk asks me if I found everything I wanted. I quickly recant my tale, and he says, "Yeah, it's such a shame we've gotten to be so known for our chickens." I scan the multitude of swag he's wearing, covering everything from loving plants, trees, bugs and other living things, to veganism, and manage to suppress a sigh. My charming clerk, we are clearly leading very different lives at this stage.

Home. Broiler on. Dinner 15 min later. I find out my nephew hates salmon, but he politely eats it anyway. I give him extra dessert.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Week 14 - Little Italy

MonLinguini w/carrot ribbons (unmade alternate from last week)
Tuesfalafel w/pita
Wedsspaghetti and meatballs (compromise: I'm making the meatballs, buying the sauce this week)
Thurs T-bone steaks w/parmesan (Bon Appetit, Sep '03)
Fri Italian meatloaf (from Deceptively Delicious)
Alts homemade pizza; chip plate
Got groceries w/both my kids this morning which I rarely do, but my husband needed a way to clean the bathroom and floors to prep for a dinner party without small assistants. Amazing how a "rocket ship" grocery cart and a doughnut in their hands can get you through the aisles so peacefully. Stuffing kids with sugary treats that haven't been paid for yet...haven't I read about these nightmare parents somewhere? Trip: success. Happy cooking.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Corn on the Cob Over Open Flames

I made a fun and tasty discovery on our recent camping trip; something possibly familiar to ardent state fair attendees.

We were cooking a meal over the fire: brats, can of baked beans. I had some corn on the cob I wanted to cook as well. I decided to just lay the corn (still in the husk) directly on the grill which was being actively licked by flames that were 2-3 inches above the grate in spots.

I've grilled corn before and had it turn out very well, but this heat source was less even—I think hotter. The immediate singeing of the husks was a little scary. I'd rotate them every few minutes (not too diligently as my kids were tearing around the campsite and they needed as much tending as the corn). After maybe 8-10 minutes I pulled a piece off to try.

I couldn't believe how tasty it was! It was perfectly cooked from top to bottom. I'm still not sure how that happened since the heat was so uneven. Maybe the husk provides some insulation that helps steam the corn all around.

This is how I'll make corn when camping from now on. I think it would be hard to mess up based on how blackened and untended mine was.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Week 13 – The menu is in

MonBroccoli chicken over mashed potatoes (pulled from freezer)
TuesTake-out pizza w/cake & ice cream
WedsStir-fry with beef, snow peas, and carrots
Thurs Rotisserie chicken (Thurs special at local Whole Foods) w/mashed sweet potatoes
Fri Chicken fajitas (use leftovers from Thurs)
Alts Linguini w/carrot ribbons; Lamburgers (from Grampa Murray)
Made a menu plan while the kids finished lunch and Matt picked up groceries this evening. Bliss.

As an aside, whoever responded that their kids eat their dinner without issue most nights has a formal invitation to take over menu-planning this blog. Happy cooking.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Week 13 – Menu, anyone?

We're back, but a menu plan? Please. Next window for a serious grocery trip might be Monday night. The fridge is an echoing chamber of milk and butter, and I think a stalk of celery. Project deadline Wednesday, husband starts a new job tomorrow, house full of unpacked camping gear. Ah, how much simpler life would be if we didn't have to eat.

Might be a lot of pancakes, grilled cheese and pizza this week. Oh! And ants on a log. I think we have peanut butter and 10 raisins left. Happy cooking.

Friday, July 10, 2009

On the road

We're on the road this week, but the Corral will be back in action with a fresh menu plan and news of how the camping meals went on or about July 20. Just picked up some shelf-stable milk tonight. Thanks for the tip, Sylvia!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Week 12–Camping Food

Breakfasts (3)Instant oatmeal; pancakes; fruit cups
Lunches (3)Goober sandwiches; chunk canned turkey, cheese, crackers; Nutella+ banana sandwiches; misc chips, pudding cups, granola, fruit chews, soy milk boxes (these don't have to be refrigerated)
Dinners (3)La Choy Beef dinner w/crunchy noodles; sausages over the fire w/beans; chicken a la king over instant mashed potatoes
Over-the Fire Treats – Jiffy popcorn; s'mores
We're spending the next week on the road. The first half is relatively civilized, spent in hotels with most dinners out. The latter half we'll be camping. We plan to cook most of our meals when we camp, and I want to have a large part of the meals planned and packed before we leave. We can buy some groceries on the road once we leave the hotel (e.g. buns, butter, fresh fruit). Nice opportunity to check out some farmer markets we might see on the way too (Wisconsin=fresh cheese curds). I made the plan last night, went to Target and fit everything into a box. Neat to see your "rations" quantified that way. Family of 4 + 4 days outdoors = one box of food.

Camping is one time I go easy in the extreme when it comes to meal-prep. Open can, heat! Or cook on a stick. This is fun (and fascinating) for all ages. Anyone have camping meals they enjoy? I've found some helpful family camping tips at Pete's Family Camping for other campers out there that are getting back in the swing of things. Happy cooking.

Monday, July 6, 2009

"More, please!"

I made chicken fingers for dinner tonight, served with honey for dipping, a side of blackberries, cubed cheese, and some edemame pods. I served it on little plastic lunch trays outside on the kiddie picnic table.

When my 3-year-old saw the meal, she looked up at me with big round eyes and said, "Thanks, Mom." Like it was the first decent meal I'd made her in weeks. At any rate, the thanks was appreciated.

My toddler had the innovative idea of dipping his blackberries in the honey. I tried it and was surprised at how good it was. Could see drizzling a dish of berries with honey or a good maple syrup for a brunch side or light dessert.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Week 11--Crocked

MonStir-fry with beef, snow peas, and carrots
TuesCream-cheese chicken with broccoli (Crock pot cookbook)
WedsPhilly cheese-steaks (Crock pot cookbook)
Thurs Pasta con aceto balsamico (Italian cookbook)
Fri Creamed spinach and tortellini (Italian cookbook, for crock pot)
Alts Steak and potatoes; blts w/avocado
Grabbed the crock-pot cookbook this week, so have a few recipes I'm trying from that. Otherwise, there's a strong slant toward red meat and the grill. Must be summer. I've been debating serving ALL our meals outside, from breakfast to dinner. Clean-up is so much easier with little kids when it's left to the ants. Happy cooking.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

The annoyance of "eww"

We all know it's frustrating to have spent time fixing a meal only to have your kids not eat it. But what about when it's YOU? You make the meal, glad that you've once again managed to work a minor miracle and get a home-cooked meal on the table. Then you taste it. You don't want to eat it, let alone getting the kids to eat it. Then, the leftovers! Tuck them in the back of the fridge until they've been rendered inedible? Feed them to the dog? Head for the disposal right away and substitute cheetos and ice cream? Better luck tomorrow. I'm off to do some dishes.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Week 10 -- Hot Weather Eats

MonMojito chicken with corn salad (Not instant recipes, but flavorful and easy. Salad will feed 8-10, or cut recipe as desired.)
TuesGrilled pizza (per Mark Bittman's recipe, cooked on the grill. 3 burners on high, approx 8 min).
WedsChilaquiles (Surprisingly good recipe from the back of a chip bag. Here it is: 1 c cooked shredded chicken -- left overs from Monday -- 1 c chicken broth, 1+ cups salsa verde. Put all in frying pan, bring to near boil. Layer tortilla chips on top, stir gently until softened. Serve w/sour cream and cilantro.)
ThursFish Tacos (Recipe in yesterday's post)
FriBBQ Pulled Pork with coleslaw (This is the best thing I know how to make in a crock pot. Pork recipe follows, from "Best-Loved Slow Cooker Recipes.")
1 boneless pork shoulder or butt roast (3-4 lbs)
1 t salt
1 t ground cumin
1 t paprika
1 t black pepper
1/2 t ground red pepper
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 bell pepper, cut in strips
18 oz bbq sauce
1/2 c light brown sugar
Serve on hot cooked rice or sandwich rolls
Trim excess fat from pork. Combine salt, cumin, paprika, and peppers in small bowl. Rub over roast.
Place onion and bell pepper in crock pot. Add pork. Combine bbq sauce and brown sugar, pour on top.
Cook on low 8-10 hours. Trim off remaining fat, shred pork with 2 forks. Looks dry going in, but will be incredibly juicy when done. This will make left-overs that freeze well, or snack from the fridge well, and you'll look forward to!)
Lots of recipes included this week as they're either really easy, or typically turn out well for me. Happy cooking.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Fish Tacos

We love Mexican food this time of year. Fresh limes, spices, and simplicity are great when the weather is hot and you want to spend less time in the kitchen.

Made a nice batch of fish tacos tonight from the cookbook Simply Mexican. It's going on my wish list based on reader reviews (e.g. authentic, not ingredient-intensive, easy family meals) and how well the recipe came together. Certainly not based on the cover photo. I'll include this as a menu item in next weeks' list.

Margarita, anyone?

Friday, June 19, 2009

Finding Efficiencies

The book above, Lian xi bu, was a gift from a friend, brought back from Japan. I think it's a school notebook for a child. I tried translating the title online, and got "lian xi bu" as an answer. So as far as I know, it means "the chickens are hungry," or maybe even "menus." Which is what I use it for.

From the conversations I've had, a lot of us like to vary the weekly menu, but sometimes you just don't have the resources to constantly reinvent the wheel. It occurs to me that if I'm going to be dedicated to the task of weekly menu planning, I should try to gain as much from it as possible from a time-saving standpoint. Hence, the menu log.

On weeks when it seems like the meals all came together well, there was nice variety, and most everything was liked, I enter the menus into this slim notebook that I keep by my recipe books. It's a good resource on weeks when I don't feel like searching for new recipes. When I'm feeling a little, you know, Lian xi bu.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Week 9 - White & Yellow & Brown all over

MonEgg and cheese toasted sandwiches
WedsChicken alfredo
FriCurry chicken (using a jar of pre-made curry sauce to keep it fast)
Altsout for pizza; Cuban rice (rice/tom sauce from jar/fried egg on side)
It's starting to get warm out, and I notice we're craving lighter evening meals (and lots of ice cream or freezer pops). We haven't hit any farmers markets yet, but I'm already looking forward to good fresh tomatoes, beans, and the like. Happy cooking.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Cursed Cake, Trip to the ER

A few weeks ago and several posts back, I showed a picture of what cheesecake looked like after 4 hours in the oven. I fell asleep and didn't wake in time to turn the oven off when making my husband's birthday cake. Well, here we were 3 weeks later and my husband tried his hand at the cake. He was pulling it out of the oven when our 21-month-old came in from behind him and laid his hand on the hot oven rack.

Screaming child. White charred skin from fingertip to palm. Cold water. Call to the doc for advice. The next 2 hours in the ER. Poor guy ended up with his hand wrapped like a mitten to protect it. Fortunately the burn was 2nd degree (not 3rd as initially suspected), and he will be fine within just a couple days. Kids finished up the evening laughing and playing with improvised glove-balloons in the treatment room, so obviously he was recovering quickly.

As for the menu that night? The accident happened just before we were going to eat, so they were stuck with what was available in the diaper bag as we waited to be seen. They annihilated a bag of Goldfish and a handful of raisins. It was probably the most they'd eaten for dinner in weeks.

Just a reminder from my little one to all of you using your ovens tonight: "Oven HOT! Stay back."

Friday, June 12, 2009

Week 8 - The Man's Plan

MonGrilled brats with oven fries
TuesLinguine with carrot ribbons (Like a bowl of fruit loops. Stick to their ingredient list, pair with crusty bread and it's a fresh, sweet summer meal.)
WedsBeef stir-fry with soba noodles (great source of iron)
FriFreezer follies: leftover dolmates from a couple weeks ago
AltsPancakes; pizza
Matt planned this menu list and got groceries as I was busy with freelance this week. Delightful to go to the fridge and see that, yes, in fact we DO have fresh ginger. It's a little disorienting to have someone else do the planning since we haven't swapped for awhile. Not all bad. Happy cooking.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Food Project

My daughter made lunch for us today, which was an exciting endeavor since she's 3. She made mini-pizzas on english muffins. She split the muffins, scooped the sauce...the works. I was relegated to "prep chef," grating cheese and wiping up crumbs.

Some say that getting your kids involved in cooking makes them more likely to eat the resulting meal. In my experience, there is so much ingredient-sampling that takes place during preparation that no one is hungry enough to eat the finished product. The exception to that might be when cookies are the end result. All good fun.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Week 7 - Short week

TuesMeatloaf (from the freezer)
WedsOven-baked chicken fingers (usual Epicurious recipe)
ThursGrandma Barb's Spaghetti (freeze half of sauce)
FriChicken burgers with corn soup
We're off on vacation for a few days, so less menu planning for the coming week. Happy cooking.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Rhubarb is in!

Bliss. Pulled, cut, and froze 12 cups worth this week. Made a blueberry rhubarb coffeecake for breakfast with the fresh crop. My husband said if he died by drowning in this mix, he'd be ok with it. It's pretty good. Here's the recipe:

Rhubarb Coffeecake

From Barb Celichowski (Thanks Mom!)

1 stick butter
1 1/2 c sugar

1 egg

1 c buttermilk

1 t salt

1 t soda

1 t vanilla

2 c flour

2 c rhubarb (or mix with other berries to equal 2 c quantity)

3/4 c sugar

1 t cinnamon

Mix all ingredients. Fold in rhubarb. Pour into 9x11. Sprinkle topping on. Bake 350˚ for 45-50 min.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Week 6 - Viva Italia (+ Fajitas)

Chicken Fajitas
TuesSalmon and Collard Greens
WedsLasagna (freeze 1/2)
FriRigatoni w/Sausage and Peas
AltsPizza (Luce!); Popple (Jody's recipe in comments a couple postings below)
I'm still pondering the results of last week's poll. Ye hearty poll-participants appear to be unanimously prep-chef AND clean-up crew in your households. Why is this? How can it be? Passion for more time in the kitchen? Fear that no one else will wash the spoons as well? Spouse convinced (told, even) that this is not their place? Fascinating. I would be a miserly bat wielding a rolling pin of bitterness. We all sort out how to deal with the hectic balance of parenting, working, and running a household, don't we? Happy cooking (and cleaning).

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

This is what cheesecake looks like after 4 hours in the oven.

Found a new recipe to try for my husband's birthday for Toffee Crunch Caramel Cheesecake on Epicurious. I got a late start, going for groceries at 10:30PM. Went to 2 stores to get the ingredients I needed, then popped it in the oven at around 1AM. I asked my husband to set the alarm for an hour later. Something went amiss and we both woke up around 4:30 wondering if the other had gotten the cake out.

I think we were spared the hideous burning odor because it baked partially submerged in water. There was probably a good amount of time where the water was just evaporating off and things weren't starting on fire.

A bit of a scramble the next day and I came across a recipe from Magnolia Bakery that we used to enjoy in NYC. We'll try the cheesecake another day.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Format is Everything

We made corn on the cob this week which usually goes over well with the kids. For some reason, my 3-year-old decided she did not want it on the cob. Very well. So I cut it off. This, unfortunately, also proved unacceptable. In a last-ditch attempt to make it somehow appealing, I offered "corn chips." I cut it from the cob, but cut deeper so the kernels stayed together in pieces she could pick up with her fingers. She loved this. The pictures show the progression (digression?). Anyone else have unusual food-prep preferences going on with kids? I'm thinking there could be a book behind this for any out-of-work food stylists out there. Maybe it's not even about being fancy, just having a cool name.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Week 5-Catching Up

TuesDinner out (so far, I'm loving this week)
WedsGrilled brats and asparagus
Thurs1-pot spaghetti (BH&G recipe I made when first learning to cook.)
FriStir fry beef
AltsTomato quiche (will tackle on the weekend when I have more time); "Popple" with hashbrowns, eggs, sausage, cheese suggested by a reader. Will either experiment with what I remember of her description, or make a last-minute call to confirm what to do. Jody, if you're out there, leave the recipe in the comments so we can make it!
I think "stir fry" has appeared for 3 weeks running. I have yet to make it. We have a birthday this week so will enjoy a mid-week night out. We also have a rarity in our house after this weekend's cooking -- leftovers! Usually they're devoured at lunchtime, but the fridge needs emptying out. I'm getting a wide range of stories about how many of you all handle menu planning which I'll share later this week. For now, happy cooking.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Great, Easy From-Scratch Pizza Dough

My husband usually treats us to homemade pizza on weekends, but he was busy hauling dirt and wood chips this past Saturday, so I thought I'd try my hand. Not sure of what recipe to use, I looked in a reader's suggested cookbook: "How to Cook Everything" by Mark Bittman. The result was fantastic.

I was suspicious about the lack of kneading and 2t of sea salt, but both contributed to a wonderful crispy crust. I used a dough-hook on a mixing stand and it formed a ball just as described. So easy, I dare say it was fun. This will be my go-to recipe whenever I make the pizza -- the steps are simple so it's a good one for kids to help out with.

Mark Bittman Pizza Dough

Some good tips on the link as well about how to raise dough in the fridge over longer periods (if you want to make it in the AM, for example), or how to freeze it. Some things I had always wondered about.