Easy Homemade Pizza

pizza

I have finally mastered the easiest pizza and I felt the need to share! This entire process only takes about 30 minutes of actual “work” time in the kitchen and the result is the fluffiest yet crispiest pizza I’ve ever been able to make. It also makes an easy week night dinner, as it freezes and thaws flawlessly. Enjoy!

What You’ll Need:

Pizza Dough:
– 1 1/2 cups of water
– 1 package (2 1/4 tsp) of active dry yeast – pizza yeast is best (always check expiry date)
– 3 1/2 cups of bread flour (can also use gluten free or all purpose flour)
– 2 tbsp olive oil
– 2 tsp salt
– 1 tsp sugar

Pizza Ingredients:
– olive oil
– cornmeal (to slide the pizza onto the stone/pan and prevent sticking)
– mozzarella cheese – grated
– vegetables
– peperoni, sausage, or salami, or not at all
NOTE – the thinner you slice your veggies, the less chance of a soggy pizza you have

Other:
– large mixing bowl
– pizza stone or baking sheet
– pizza wheel or cutting board

ingredMaking the Dough:

– In a large bowl, add the warm water, sprinkle in the yeast, and allow to sit for 5 minutes, or until the yeast is dissolved. Stir occasionally to speed this up.
– using a mixer (or, the old fashioned way, your hands) mix in flour, salt, and sugar and a low speed (also known as human speed) Knead the dough until it is elastic and smooth, about 5-10 minutes. If the dough seems wet or too sticky add, more flour.

– place the ball of dough a bowl that has been coated lightly with olive oil. Turn the dough around in the bowl until it is also coated. Cover with plastic wrap and leave in a warm place until it doubles in size – about 1-1 1/2 hours. TIP: If you don’t have a warm spot in the house, heat the oven to 150°. Turn off and let cool. Place dough in the oven and let sit to rise.

Preparing the Pizza(s):
– pre-heat the oven to 450° for at least 30 minutes, preferably an hour
 remove plastic cover from dough and punch dough down so it deflates a bit.

The Best Part! At this point you can separate your dough into two balls. Freeze one to use for a quick week night dinner. (Take the frozen dough out in the morning. Place in a bowl that has been lightly coated in olive oil. Roll the frozen dough in the oil so that it is also coated. Cover with plastic wrap or a tea towel and let sit for the day. When you come home your dough will have risen again and will be ready to prepare for dinner!)

– prepare your toppings – remember that you want to keep them thin and sparse so that your pizza doesn’t end up a soggy mess. 
veg

– working on a lightly floured surface, flatten the dough with your hards. Starting at the centre and working out, use your fingers to press the dough until it is about 1 1/2″ thick. Turn and stretch the dough until it will not stretch further. Let the dough relax for 5 minutes and then continue to stretch until it reaches maximum size. Use your palm to flatten the edge of the dough – pinch the edge if you want a more defined crust.
– brush the top of the dough with olive oil to prevent sogginess. Use your fingers to press dents in the dough to prevent bubbles. Let rest another 5 minutes.
– sprinkle your baking sheet with cornmeal – this will stop the pizza from sticking. Transfer the dough to the baking sheet. If the dough has  lost its shape, lightly adjust it.
– spoon on your tomato sauce then alternate toppings and cheese until it is sufficiently covered. Remember that toppings can be used sparingly for a crispier pie.
– place pizza in oven and cook until cheese is browned and the dough is crisp – about 10-15 minutes.
– take pizza out of oven and let sit for another 5-10 minutes – serve and dig in!

This recipe yields 2 10-12″ pizzas.

 

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No Machine? Sew What?!

When we first decided to open our Etsy Shop, we thought we would keep it simple by sticking to what we know: goods made from rope and other reclaimed items found around our homes and cottages. But, as with most famous last words, that was short lived. On our first supply shopping trip – a highly anticipated visit to Designer Fabric Outlet – we may or may not have stumbled upon some of the best fabric we had seen in…possibly ever. It was very quickly agreed that it, when turned into a pillow, would make an epic accessory to any couch or chair in any cottage or chalet. We also agreed that said pillows (obviously) needed to have leather backs.  We also agreed that it had been years since either of us had sewn a darn thing, but that we could figure it out…ideally with supervision.

So, what are two crafty critters going to do with limited skills and no machine of their own? Head to a sewing studio, thats what!

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Sew Be It Studio, just north of Yonge and Eglinton, is a sewing mecca in Toronto. Filled with the obligatory sundries, multiple high tech machines, and a very friendly staff eager to help, it was the perfect place for us to find.

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The studio offers a variety of group or private classes and workshops for all levels, as well as drop in sewing. We decided to take advantage of their generous ‘first drop in free’ offer and strolled in one Monday night (after booking online to ensure our spots, of course). Armed with our leather needles, thread, and a dream we set about our evening of adventure. Instructors were on hand to answer any questions we had, to give us a walk through of how their machines work, and offering (mildly shaky, however much needed) words of encouragement.

sewingAs two entrepreneurs trying to keep costs low, this was the perfect alternative to buying a machine and hoping things went really, really well. Places like Sew Be It allow you to hone your craft before jumping into a big purchase, maximizing your income and limiting expenses. And hey, it could just be the place that helps you see that you’re just not cut out for handiwork. Either way – dodge the bullet!

sewing 4You can check out the finished product Here on Etsy!

 

Warm Winter Salad

I find one of two things happens in the winter: 1. You stop cooking entirely, turning only to take out and/or meals cooked by others or 2. You start cooking only comfort food – things that are baked, cheesed, and ultimately terrible for you.  OK, two of two things happen. Let’s be honest.

As the temperatures have begun to drop, I have decided to take a summer staple, the spinach salad, and add a bit of a winter twist: warm potatoes and grilled steak. You get that same warm in your belly feeling without the giant brick in your belly feeling (and no baked on mess – hurrah!) The beauty of this recipe is that it is fast, it can be quickly modified for different group sizes without much extra effort, and an easy clean up makes it perfect for weeknight entertaining. In addition, adding the strips of steak as you plate your salad is a great way to provide the same meal option for vegetarians as well.

salad 1

What you’ll need:

Small, oven safe dish
Salad Bowl
Butter/Margerine (1 large “dollop”)
Olive Oil – about 2/3 of a cup
Fresh Garlic – 1 large clove, pressed
Dijon Mustard – 1 tbsp
Spinach
Red Onion – diced
Cherry Tomatoes – halved
Goat Cheese – crumbled
New Potatoes – halved
Flank Steak or Striploin

Preheat oven to 400° – place butter in dish and melt. Place sliced potatoes in melted butter, coat, and place back in oven, turning periodically

Toss spinach, tomatoes, cheese, and onions in a bowl; In a measuring cup: mix olive oil, garlic, and dijon mustard

salad 2

Check on your potatoes – when you feel that they are about 20 minutes from being done (browned, but not crispy) preheat your BBQ

Grill steak to medium rare (about 15 minutes) and slice against the grain – this will ensure your steak is not tough

Taking potatoes out of the oven, toss them into your bowl and mix

Lightly coat your salad with dressing – the taste is strong so you will not need a ton

Plating your meal, top each serving with a few strips of steak, serve, and enjoy!

salad 6

 

DIY: Cleaning Pennies

When we first decided to create our line of earrings, Maple Leaf Forever, we realized we needed a fast, easy, and inexpensive way to get the dirty street grime off of each penny. We started racking our brains (read: googling) for ideas and, after narrowly dodging a volcanic reaction due to mis-remembered grade 3 science facts, we found our solution (see what we did there?)

What you’ll need:

– White vinegar
– Salt…lots of it
– Baking sheet or large bowl – the more surface area the better

pennies

Spread your pennies on a baking sheet – try to avoid overlap, as the solution needs to cover all parts of the coin.

Pour a generous amount of vinegar over your pennies, ensuring all are entirely immersed in the liquid.

Sprinkle salt over pennies. A lot of salt. If you think you’ve added enough – add more.

Leave your coins to soak, moving them around the tray periodically (so you feel like you’re doing something to help)

Test your pennies by rubbing them with dry paper towel – the grime should come right off. If not, put them back in. More salt!

Repeat until your pennies are satisfactorily shiny

Craft until you are blue in the face

penniesThe Finished Product

Day to Night For Under $25

I purchased this skirt from Zara and it has been yet another perfect separate piece. The pockets (pockets in anything, really!) are an added bonus that makes any outfit a bit more playful. I love how easily this skirt transitions from a day at work to a night out with friends. My one qualm with the fabric (55% linen) is that, more often than not, I feel like I look like an unmade bed after a long day. When it comes back from the dry cleaner, though – let me tell ya – she’s a beauty!

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2014-07-24 19.54.07Hair

The shirt: I picked up the Crop Top at Top Shop ($18) for a specific event that I was going to earlier this Spring. I didn’t think I was “hip” enough to pull it off, but after some coercing from a friend I caved. I find that pairing the top with a longer, more feminine skirt and more polished hair makes you look less hip and more on trend than with cut offs or jeans.

The hair: The amazing Hair Doughnut came from H&M ($5.95) because my hair, although long, is extremely thin and hard to do anything with. When the sock bun craze started, I tried to do my hair this way with a sock and I looked like a deranged puppet. Seriously. My hair wouldn’t wrap properly, and what would wrap would not cover the sock hiding underneath. I tried it with a dress sock instead of a sport sock; no dice. I tried a nylon instead of a dress sock; not a chance. And then, one day while strategically shopping, I stumbled upon this little gem in the ‘impulse section’ on my way to the cash. I figured that Bobby  couldn’t object to this one, as I had already butchered two pairs of his socks. The best part? They come in Black, brown, and beige to hide under your hair!

DIY: Custom T-shirts

I absolutely love gift giving. I know that it is something that most people hate, but to me it is like a game. A personal challenge to see how well you know someone and how wide you can make them smile when they unwrap your gift. I also [not so] secretly love seeing the looks on the faces of everyone else who showed up touting re-gifted wine (lovely gesture, but not that personal.) In my totally random and not so lengthy experience, a surefire way to make someone’s day is by ironing their face onto a piece of clothing. Don’t think they’ll dig wearing their own face? Substitute your face, or a pet’s, or a spouse’s, or a teacher’s (the list goes on, really) and you’re hilariously golden!

What you’ll need:

– Plain white t-shirt
– Iron
– Iron on transfer sheets (here)
– Small towel (two if you are working on a surface other than an ironing board)
– A hilarious photo

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Once you have printed your images onto your transfers (see the instructions in the box) trim the transfer sheet so there is a thin white boarder around your image. Place your t-shirt on a flat surface, with your image centred and face down.

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Place a towel over your transfer – make sure you don’t move the image when you do this!

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Apply heat and pressure to the image. A lot of it. For a long time. If you think it has been long enough – you’re probably wrong. Make sure you get the edges of your transfer sheet – there is nothing worse that a peeling t-shirt after just one wash!

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Occasionally, as you iron, test the edges of your transfer sheet to see if the process is working. If your image is still attached to the sheet…it obviously isn’t. More heat!

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When you have decided that your image is as stuck as it’s going to get, slowly peel the transfer backing from the t-shirt. If sections of your transfer aren’t “cooked” yet, slowly put the sheet back in place and go over the transfer a few more times. If you are having a tough time getting your image to stick, remove the towel and apply direct heat. BE CAREFUL – you can burn the image this way so do not apply for as long in each spot.

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Ta-daaaa! You’ve made yourself a rad new t-shirt. Wear it yourself or give it as an amazingly personal gift!

My Summer Song

Every summer has a song. Usually a very up beat, danceable song that makes everyone’s toes tap and heads bop. It’s one that gets stuck in your head every time and brings back a flood of good memories when it’s played.

The summer before last, my girlfriends and I could not stop singing about “mmmmm motor boatin'” along with Little Big Town to the song “Pontoon” – A song about literally doing nothing on a boat all day in the sun. Without fail, the song reminds me of our trip to Nashville for my best friend’s bachelorette party – definitely a weekend to remember!

 

Last summer I switched it up a bit, but stuck to the standard criteria of toe taps and head bops. Wildfire, by John Mayer, was a surprising and immediately addictive song when I first heard it. John Mayer, at one time in my life, was the most romantic soul a girl could imagine. His lyrics were seamless and he seemed to be speaking directly to you. Then I got a bit older, his music changed, and I learned he was a bit of a womanizer (not so hot, John!) – so I was not as tuned in as I had been. But one Saturday morning, just as I was stirring, Bobby played this song for me to wake up to and I wasn’t able to stop listening for the entire Summer. We listened to the song so often, and created so many memories together, that it has become our first choice for our wedding video. Go figure!

 

This summer, I’ve gone back to Little Big Town. They just GET me. Meaning…they like the sun and drinking in it. I dig that! “Day Drinking” is this Summer’s anthem. It is upbeat, catchy, and has an awesome whistle hook that makes me furious I can’t whistle. They also put on one of the best shows I have ever been to; the only thing better than a Summer song is getting to listen to it live during the Winter!

 

I do not own the rights to these songs.