Tuesday, January 19, 2010

"Little Pizzas"

One of my all time favorite foods from my childhood...and still one of my favorite snacks today. I make these all the time.

Preheat your oven to 375 or so, then toast your English muffins...don't skip this step or you'll have squishy bread.

Top your muffins with spaghetti sauce...

sprinkle with cheese...

...any anything else you might have available.

These little lovelies are pepperoni, mushroom, onion, tomato, basil pizzas. YUM!

I bake them until the cheese starts to melt, then switch the oven over to broil for a minute or two to give the cheese a little crisp.
Now I'm hungry again...more pizza!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Family Tree Art

I designed this paper family tree from a similar fabric project that my great friend, Jen, was doing with the young women (12-18 year olds) at church. I made the original for my brand new baby's nursery...then made a few more for family. I got it into my head that maybe other people would buy these family trees from me...so I've made stencils and templates for the tree, leaves and heart, and I bought a cool die cut machine and several alphabets for the title lettering.

I decided to post these family trees on Etsy (an online venue for crafters to sell their stuff). I just posted this project to my "Etsy Shop" at whatisemilyupto.etsy.com. I'm actually a little nervous, but also excited about having a piece of myself out there in the wide world for someone to buy.

Wish me luck!!!!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Bell Family Storybook

This Christmas my immediate family (mom, siblings and myself) agreed to do away with all material gift giving and write stories instead (inspired by a family tradition of Holly's in-laws). Every year each person writes a true story about something from their life as their present to everyone else. It can be happy or sad, light and humorous or deep and reflective, it can be about something from childhood or something that happened yesterday. There is no length requirement...just as long as we need to share the details of the memory.
Here's my 3 ring binder with this year's stories.

We decided to print out our stories and send them by mail to one another. We marked the envelopes with "Do not open until Christmas"...it was fun to still have something to open on Christmas morning.

Here's my 2009 Christmas story...click to enlarge.

As we add to our collection each year I expect our "Bell Family Storybooks" will become treasures that we will cherish and revisit over and over.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

French Bread

I really love bread. I could eat it all day. Here is a recipe I really like.

French Bread
6 1/2 -7 cups flour
2 pkg yeast (7 tsp) *see note below
2 1/2 cup water
2 Tb sugar
1 Tb salt
1 Tb shortening
yellow corn meal

*I just realized that 2 pkg of yeast to not equal 7 tsp...but that is how the recipe came to me. I have prepared this dough both ways and it didn't seem to make a difference. Maybe that's why I only needed about 30 minutes to rise last time. I'll experiment with yeast quantities and get back to you.

In large bowl combine 3 cups flour and yeast. In saucepan heat water, sugar salt and shortening just until shortening starts to melt.
(looks like this at first)

(now it's ready!)

Add to flour mixture, beat at low speed 1/2 minute, scraping bowl. Then beat 3 minutes at high speed. Stir and knead in enough of the remaining flour to make a soft dough. Turn onto floured surface and knead in remaining flour. Knead until smooth and satiny, about 10 minutes. (This is when you would add rosemary leaves or other ingredients if desired.)

Rise in oiled bowl until doubled (cover with damp cloth). The recipe says this should take 1 1/2 hours, but I never have to wait longer than about 30 minutes.

Pour out onto floured surface.

Divide into 4 loaves.

Shape loaf by flattening into rectangle...

then roll up...

pinch ends together...

roll ends up...

then flip over onto cookie sheet spread with cornmeal.
Slash tops and cover. Let rise until double.

Bake at 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes.


Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Homemade Baby Food

As we got ready to start our baby on solids it didn't occur to me to make my own until a good friend clued me in on how easy, affordable, and healthy it is to prepare your own baby food...no little glass jars for us (have you noticed how crazy expensive that stuff is?!).
Before I got started I did a lot of reading...here are my 3 favorites so far:
We've made all sorts of homemade meals for Lyla...including potatoes, carrots, peas, broccoli, squash, celery, green beans. As she grows we change the consistency and combine ingredients. Often we just blend up whatever we are eating before adding salt or sugars.
(see Lyla trying potatoes for the first time here.)
I bought this squash for 50 cents, baked it for 25 minutes in the oven, then removed the rind, mushed it with a potato masher and portioned it into ice cube trays. It is totally natural with no added thickeners or a ton of extra processing. And it was 50 cents!!!
You can easily make baby food of just about anything as long as you have a blender. This little hand mixer has been terrific. The little container of prune baby food in the center of this picture was 55 cents. I paid $3.99 for each container of dried plums...which seems expensive, but once I portioned out my big pot of stewed prunes I calculated that I saved $15 dollars by making my own!
Here's how I made prune baby food...throw all the dried plumbs in a pot with an inch or so of water. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for about 10 minutes. The prunes will become nice and mushy, add water to desired consistency. Blend remaining lumps into a puree and portion into ice cube trays for freezing. Voila!

Making my own baby food has been really rewarding...definitely worth the few minutes it takes to prepare. I highly recommend it.