Thursday, January 30, 2014

MIAHM - Freezer Pizza

This Make It At Home Monday is a little delayed, I apologize. I know how anxiously all my readers await my super-dependable weekly blogs. (I'll stop the sarcasm and self indulgence now). I spent Monday evening visiting with a friend who I don't see nearly often enough, and gaining inspiration for my next 800 MIAHM (can you say essential oils?).

I just started making pre-made freezer pizzas. I've been freezing pizza dough for a while, and I've done pizza making kits for the freezer, but the freezer pizza is new, and I thought I'd share my process.

I can't remember now where my pizza dough recipe comes from, but I did not come up with the recipe myself. The first step to making freezer pizza is making dough, so go look up a recipe and give it a whirl. I like to try recipes fresh before I put them in the freezer, so make pizza for dinner tomorrow night!

Divide your dough into four equal portions, or whatever you need to make the size pizzas you want. Freezer pizza in our house is usually a one person meal, so I made personal size pizzas. Bake your dough until not-quite-done, then cool and freeze for a few hours. Once it's frozen, you can add the other toppings.

I add a little bit of olive oil to my crusts. I like to think it helps restore some of the moisture that gets lost in freezing and rebaking.

After olive oil comes the other toppings. I tend to stay simple, since I'm feeding a picky three year old, but you can go wild. Just choose toppings that will freeze well.

Once you've topped the pizzas, wrap them tightly in plastic wrap, then put them in freezer safe bags. This way, you can pull out one at a time, and you aren't wasting a lot of bags.

When you pull them out, bake as you would a frozen pizza. For me, that means preheating my pizza stone in the oven to 500F, and then sliding the pizza in until the cheese is melted and it looks done. 

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Shameful Secret Saturday

Everyone has shameful little secrets. Even the best homemakers (which I am decidedly NOT) have messy closets, or mismatched socks, or dust bunnies behind the TV. It's time to come clean, I think, so I decided to start a new feature: Shameful Secret Saturday. Without further ado, here's my first dirty little secret. 

I've never cleaned the oven in our house. We bought the house in 2007. Do the math. In fact, I've never cleaned an oven at home. Now, I've cleaned more than my fair share of ovens at my various jobs, but never ever have I cleaned my home oven. Even before I switched to a more natural lifestyle, the smell of oven cleaner was enough to send me running. Unless I was punched in on a time clock, there's no way I was inhaling that stuff. And really, who has time (or the desire) to scrub an oven? I've attempted to use the self cleaning feature on our oven a few times, but it doesn't seem to work. The oven is older than me, and might be close to my mother's age. I'm surprised it still bakes, so I've never been too worried about the self cleaning feature.

So what made me break my streak after so long? A few weeks ago, I was seasoning one of my cast iron pans and I spilled bacon grease into the bottom of the oven. Then, like the extra special character I am, I went to bed that night without wiping it out. And, for good measure, completely forgot it happened. 

Until the next time I baked, that is. Until I was baking something and the smell of burned bacon filled my nose. Until Eamon looked at me and said, "Mama, why did you make it smoked in here?" 

I've filled our entire house with smoke about six times now, so I finally decided it's time to clean out the oven. We are having dinner guests this weekend, and I know enough about Emily Post to know it's not polite to smoke your guests out of your house before dinner.

I've seen several pins on Pinterest about cleaning your oven with baking soda and vinegar, both of which I always have on hand, so I decided today was the day. 

That's horrifying, right?
I actually thought it didn't look too bad, considering I haven't cleaned it in six years,
and I'm fairly certain it wasn't clean when we bought the house
My go-to cleaning products - baking soda, white vinegar, and original Dawn.
Mix baking soda and Dawn in a bowl, then slowly add vinegar.
Spread it all over the oven and let it sit for... some time.
It's not perfect, but it's a huge improvement. 
It took some elbow grease, for sure. Apparently if you don't bake your drippings into your oven for half a decade, this concoction works without using a scrubber, but I wore out a stainless steel scrubbing pad doing this. And for the first time ever, I can see through the window of my oven door.

Shameful secret 2: I slid those oven racks right back into the oven without cleaning them. That's a job for another day, thank you very much.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Make It At Home Monday - Healthy Beverages, Part 2

Sweetened Vinegar "Tea"

This drink started out a few years ago as "apple tea," since I made it with apple cider vinegar. Lately, though, I've been making it with kombucha vinegar, since that's what I have around my house. (If you aren't familiar with kombucha, check out my post here.)

This is a simple drink that is very refreshing in the morning, and it's easy to make. Pour about 1/4 cup of vinegar into a glass, then add a tablespoon of honey and a generous sprinkle of cinnamon. Fill it with warm water and stir well with a wooden or ceramic spoon. This is good year round, but especially good during the cold season, since all the ingredients help with colds.

Women's Toning Herbal Tea

I started drinking this toning tea when I was pregnant with E, and I really developed a taste for it. It's a very healthy drink for women, and the ingredient amounts can be adjusted to address specific concerns. The basic recipe is one part each of alfalfa, oat straw, nettles, and red raspberry leaf. Alfalfa is high in Vitamin K, and is therefore a really great addition to the diet just before and after birth for families who are refusing vitamin K injection. Oat straw is rich in calcium and other minerals. Nettles and red raspberry leaf are excellent hormone balancing herbs, though caution should be exercised not to over do it on the RRL early in pregnancy, since it can cause or enhance uterine contractions. A cup of this tea twice a day is a lovely way to start and end the day. The herbs can usually be purchased at a co-op or natural food store. This tea is also really refreshing in the summer mixed with lemon water and poured over ice.

Warmed Salt Water

I just started using Himalayan pink salt, and I'm excited to see how it helps my body. Lately I've been feeling run down and just out of sorts, so I decided I'd try some new things to help detox my body, and Himalayan salt is supposed to be an excellent detoxifier.

The usual recommendation for salt water is to make a big batch of "sole" and then add a small amount to a glass of water each day. I haven't done that yet, since I don't have any plastic lids for my mason jars, and we shouldn't use metal around salt (remember those cool glass stir sticks from chemistry class?). This morning, I simply sprinkled a small amount of pink salt into the bottom of my cup and filled it with warm water, then tasted it. I only had to add a little bit more salt to get the taste - apparently your body is wise (of course) and your kidneys will tell your tongue how much salt is needed.

Unrefined, natural salt is full of minerals. There's a good amount of information about sole here, but if your taste buds are like mine, you don't need much convincing to chug a glass of salt water each day.

Lemon water

Before I got pregnant with E, I suffered from heartburn frequently, but I always hated taking medication for it. One day, I ran across a blog that suggested hot lemon water to help with heartburn. It seems like it should be more harmful than helpful, seeing as lemon juice is an acid, but it really worked for me. I squeeze half a lemon into a mug of hot water. I haven't had much heartburn in the past few years (diet change?), but I keep this one in the back of my mind in case. 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Hello 2014

2013 was, in turns, the best and worst year of my life. It will always be a year that I remember with mixed feelings. I experienced trials and trauma unlike anything before in my life, but I learned how to love in a whole new way. I saw the truly awesome nature of forgiveness, and found change and growth at nearly every turn.

When the ball dropped at midnight last night, I leaned over to DP and, through our first kiss of 2014, I whispered, "Goodbye, shitty 2013." He smiled and assured me, "2014 is going to be amazing, I'm sure of it."

Let's hope the New Year brings with it great things. I could use a break from heart ache and sadness. DP and I have worked really hard in the past seven months to bring our relationship and our life into a new chapter, a healthy, loving place. We are crafting plans for our family and our life together, and we have our eyes on the future.