Ava: We can't tell what our dream homes would be or they won't come true
Me: Sure we can...my dream home would have a huge wrap-around porch and a swimming pool in the backyard.
Ava: (Deciding that it must be okay to talk about them) Mine would be big enough to have horses, a pool and statues.
Me: Statues of what?
Ava: Horses of course!
Matt: Imagine if we all ended up with the house we wanted when we were 7 (at this point I began picturing a 20-something Ava with giant horse statues all around her home)
Layla: (Wanting to get in on the action) My house would have a pool, statues, an ice cream shop and a giant cupcake in it!
It was pretty funny...I think it means we should get a pool. Since that isn't going to happen anytime soon we decided to do a little home improvement project this weekend. It all started because of the freezing cold temperatures. I thought we would brave the cold and still go sledding or something. After a couple rejections from invitations to join us, I decided maybe below zero was too cold to play outside. Boo. I started to get my first case of the winter blahs...knowing we were stuck inside. The girls were happy playing but I was feeling antsy. I came up with the brilliant idea to paint our kitchen. Nothing like a stay inside project. It didn't take much to convince Matt to jump on board and we were off to the paint store. We were on the same page as far as color went. A couple weeks ago we bought some new stools in a beautiful turquoise color...we knew that was the color we wanted to add to the kitchen. Knowing the color you want and actually picking it out are two different things. Some were too blue, some were too green. I found one I liked, but then Matt said it was not turquoise, it was blue. Which I responded "No, it's not...it's swizzle stick." Who comes up with these names? We finally found our color...Exotic Sea. I think I would have picked it just for its name. Fortunately it was a great color also. Once home, little girls went right back to playing and we went to painting. I say "we" loosely here...Matt paints and I clean the disgustingness that is lurking behind the fridge and oven.
|Putting my man to work|
To stay with the idea of dream homes...one day I would love to add some beautiful Mediterranean tiles and have all matching appliances. Some day. For now I don't mind our mis-match look and the idea of getting rid of an appliance that is still working seems wasteful. We've had enough appliances break on their own, it seems wrong to just throw one away.
Anyways. Before the weekend of home improvement projects we had a lovely at home date night. It was my turn to cook and I wanted something simple. I like the idea of taking very simple, good ingredients and turning them into a delicious meal.
When you make homemade noodles, anything you put on them is good. For the first time, I added fresh chopped basil to my pasta dough. It added just a little something to them. For the sauce, I roasted two heads of garlic for about 30 minutes. Once done, I mixed them with some olive oil, fresh lemon juice, salt & pepper and red pepper flakes. I tossed the sauce with the noodles, topped it with Parmesan cheese and voila! It was a very light, yummy sauce. We had some rosemary focaccia bread with a balsamic dipping sauce. Great date night food...except for all the garlic. I guess when you've been together as long as Matt and I have you can get over a bit of garlic breath. We topped it all of with the chocolate chunk cookies the girls and I had made earlier. Which is another story in itself...
It was cold and snowy when I picked the girls up on Friday...seemed like a good day to go home and bake. The girls were all about it and excited to get to use my new KitchenAid I got for Christmas (Yes, I have the best in-laws ever) They were being silly, pretending they were working so hard when really the mixer was doing everything. It was all fun and games until Layla added the cocoa powder and turned it on high instead of low and there was a poof of cocoa-flour mixture everywhere. All over her, the wall, the counter, the floor. (The next day when we moved the stove for painting I think I swept up about a cup of it) It was hilarious. Ava, my little optimist, told Layla "at least you learned a lesson from it...don't turn it on high!" Despite the drama the cookies turned out fantastic.
While on the subject of food I had a first this week. I grilled a pizza. Now, picking one of the coldest days of the year to choose to grill a pizza was not the best idea, however it turned out great. I looked into bar-b-qing pizza this summer one time when I was having a pizza craving but it was too hot to turn on the oven. I never ended up trying it. Now that I have done it, I know it is the only way I will cook pizza this summer. It gives the pizza the flavor of coming out of a pizza oven (I'd like to add outdoor pizza oven to my dream home list...it can go next to the pool) I used a different crust recipe for this one. It was a beer risen crust...who knew beer could be so tasty in bread? And, it was a Miller Light! I will admit that I'm somewhat of a beer snob...I prefer micro brews so wasn't sure what I would do with the Miller Light that ended up in my fridge. Now I know...put it in pizza dough! It made a great crust...chewy but still crispy on the bottom. I will be making it again fo sure.
|Pizza Margherita. I'll put the recipe at the bottom|
I end with a little sunshine that brightened a cold, snowy weekend...
|Thank you Matt...it's the little things that mean so much.|
Dough: Microwave 3/4-cup beer for 30 seconds. Stir in 1 package of yeast and 2 tsp olive oil and let sit for 5 minutes.
In a bowl, mix 1 & 3/4 cup bread flour with 1 tsp salt. Add the beer mixture and knead for around 5-7 minutes until you have a smooth dough. Divide in half and place each in a lightly greased bowl (with olive oil). Cover and let rise 1 and a half hours, or for a slow rise in the fridge for the day. (Take out around 30 minutes before you want to use it)
Sauce: Heat some olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add 2 cups of grape tomatoes (halved), 2 cloves of garlic (minced), 1/2 tsp basil and a pinch of salt and red pepper flakes. Cook around 10 minutes, stir occasionally. Remove from heat
Grill: Pre-heat the bar-b-q to medium-high. Take your two dough balls and roll out to a circle on baking pans (make sure to dust the bottom of the pans with cornmeal so it won't stick) Brush the top of each dough with olive oil. Flip each dough onto the grill, oiled side down. Grill around 5 minutes. At this point you can put the dough back on your pans and bring them inside to put the toppings on or if it's warm, just do it right on the grill. Spread the tomato mixture on each dough, add sliced fresh mozzarella and torn fresh basil. Cook 4-6 more minutes until cheese is melty.