Friday, June 10, 2011

June 10, 2011

This week has been a roller coaster weather-wise. We had a streak of 90+ degree days, followed by days in the 50's. And of course, the 50's were the days when summer break began. Oh well...I am sure there will be plenty of hot pool-worthy days ahead. Soon enough we will be wishing we could be comfortable in the jeans and sweatshirts we donned today.

But...back to the hot weather. Because it was so hot, I didn't feel much like cooking. As a result we tried out quite a few slow-cooker meals. However, with only one exception, this week's slow cooked dinners were not met with raves and cheers. The single keeper was the suggestion of a dear friend. She passed me a mutual friend's slow cooked ribs recipe. I know, I may gasp at the thought of ribs cooked in a slow cooker instead of slow cooked on the grill. But, the rub looked delicious on paper, and came endorsed by friends, so I had to give it a try. Owen is a huge fan of ribs...his love of ribs began when we has about 16 months old and he attended Ribs-fest (you should see the pictures...smeared ear to ear with barbecue sauce, and beaming). Ryan and Hannah, too, love ribs, and I love a meal cooked in the slow cooker. So we gave it a go, and I suggest you do as well!

This week also brought the end of another school year. We celebrated with cupcakes and homemade pizza. I've had the pizza dough recipe for years, in fact, it might be four years I've had it. We finally tried it out, and all I can say is that I wish we had tried it out ages ago. It was ridiculously easy to make, great to work with, and tasted authentic. If you've got a bread hook for your mixer, give this one a try. We have pizza/movie night every Friday, and I no longer think we'll be making frozen pizza or ordering from the local pizza joint. Going forward everyone will be making the pizza they have been dreaming of all week. Olives and pepperoni, red onion and peppers, Sweet Baby Ray's and chicken... The dough is easy, inexpensive, and makes quite a bit. Let me know if you give it a try!

As for the cupcakes, I love to bake. I came across this recipe and had to try it - Snickers Cupcakes. It's from a site that I really wish I hadn't found...My Baking Addiction. So many recipes here look amazing! Thankfully I have friends in the neighborhood willing to taste-test for me - it works so well to spread the calories and sugar around! One change from the original recipes was that I didn't add the garnish of additional Snickers and caramel sauce, but if you make these, feel free to do so.

Well, not too many keepers this week...maybe better luck next week!

New Recipes
Basic Homemade Pizza Dough
Slow Cooked Ribs
Snickers Cupcakes

Basic Homemade Pizza Dough


* 1 package active dry yeast (about 2 1/4 teaspoons)
* 1 cup warm water (100° to 110°)
* 1 1/4 cups cold water
* 2 tablespoons olive oil
* 1 teaspoon sugar
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 24.9 ounces (about 5 1/4 cups) unbleached bread flour, plus more for dusting
* Cooking spray
* zip top bags


1. Dissolve yeast in 1 cup warm water in a small bowl; let stand 5 minutes. Combine cold water, oil, sugar, and salt in a small bowl; stir with a whisk. Set aside.

2. Weigh out 24.9 ounces of flour ( or measure about 5 1/4 cups). Combine flour, yeast mixture, and cold water mixture in bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Mix on low 8 minutes or until dough begins to form. Let rest 2 to 3 minutes; mix on low 6 to 8 minutes or until dough is smooth. Turn dough out onto a floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic, just a few minutes. Feel free to add flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands (dough will feel sticky).

3. If making large family sized pizzas, divide the dough in half and place each portion in a large zip-top bag coated with cooking spray. If making individual pizzas, take each half and divide again until you have 8-12 small dough "blobs". Seal and chill at least 6 hours and up to 2 days. Let stand at room temperature for 1 hour before using.

4. Create your pizzas on pizza stones or baking sheets with dusted with corn meal. We used a 450 degree preheated oven, but some recipes say 500 degrees. Our individual pizzas cooked for about 12-14 minutes, but keep an eye on yours and take yours out when you think they are done!


You can freeze the dough in heavy-duty, freezer-safe zip-top plastic bags for up to 2 months; to use frozen dough thaw dough overnight in the refrigerator, and then warm to room temperature the hour before using.

Do not forget to let the dough come to room temperature for the hour before using. This is crucial so that the dough is workable. If the dough is too cold to use, holes will be created in your crust. You can even take it out 90 minutes before you are going to use it.

A kitchen scale is fabulous to have in the kitchen! I use mine all the time, especially for baking. If you don't have one, definitely consider getting one!!!

Update May 10, 2013: I used bread flour straight from  my deep freezer and it worked well in this recipe!  The dough came together really quickly and was easy to work with, and it somehow didn't  kill the yeast.  If you remember ahead of time - measure your flour and then throw it in the freezer for the night.  When you make it the next day, the dough will be very easy to work with!

Slow Cooker Baby Back Ribs


* 4 lbs baby back ribs
* 1/3 c dark brown sugar
* 1 tbsp paprika
* 1/2 tsp chili powder
* 1 1/2 tsp salt
* 1 tsp ground cumin
* 3/4 tsp black pepper
* 3/4 tsp white pepper
* 3/4 tsp ground oregano
* 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
* 1/4 tsp sugar


1. Remove the connective tissue on the back of the ribs.
2. Combine dry ingredients and rub over the surface of the ribs.
3. Place ribs in slow-cooker standing on their edge with the meaty side out.
4. Cook on low for about 8 hours.
5. If desired, after removing ribs from slow cooker, brush the ribs with the barbecue sauce of your choice.

Snickers Cupcakes

Ingredients for the cake

* 1 (18.25 ounce) package devil’s food cake mix
* 1 package instant chocolate pudding mix
* 1 cup sour cream
* 1 cup vegetable oil
* 4 eggs; lightly beaten
* 1/2 cup warm water
* 1 teaspoon of vanilla
* 24 frozen Snickers Miniatures

Directions for the cupcakes

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Line 2 muffin tins with paper liners.
3. In a large bowl, mix together the cake and pudding mixes, sour cream, oil, beaten eggs, vanilla and water.
4. Evenly divide the batter amongst the prepared pans.
5. Gently push a frozen Snickers Miniature bar into the center of the batter and smooth the surface making sure to cover the candy bar with batter.
6. Bake for 18-22 minutes, or until top is springy to the touch and a wooden toothpick inserted comes out clean.
7. Cool cupcakes thoroughly on wire rack.

Ingredients for the caramel frosting

* 2 sticks unsalted butter(room temperature)
* 1/2 cup shortening
* 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
* 1 1/2 pounds confectioners’ sugar
* 2/3 cup caramel topping
* 1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions for frosting

1. Cream the butter and shortening in the bowl of an electric or stand mixer.
2. Add the vanilla extract, salt and caramel syrup; combine well.
3. Begin adding in the sugar and mixing thoroughly after each addition. After all of the sugar has been added and mixed thoroughly, give it a taste and decide if you want to add in more caramel syrup. For thicker frosting you can gradually add in a little more sugar.
4. Frost or pipe your cupcakes with the frosting. Enjoy!!!