Monthly Archives: November 2010

Braided Pepperoni Loaf

This is great when you want something a little more impressive than plain breadsticks. It also makes a nice hearty meal when served alongside some tomato soup. One loaf made a few meals for us this week.

You’ll need:

  • One batch of dough for The Best Homemade Breadsticks EVER!
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  • Parsley or other herbs
  • Garlic powder
  • roughly 1 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese (more if preferred)
  • 1 package Pepperoni

Follow the dough recipe up to the point where you punch the dough down.

Instead of rolling the dough in to a rectangle divide it in to two balls. Roll one ball in to a long rectangle, about 7 or 8″ x about 20″. It doesn’t need to be perfectly square.  Place on to greased cookie sheet.  Next, sprinkle some shredded mozzarella cheese over the dough, leaving the outside edge clean. Spread pepperoni over the cheese in an even layer, again staying away from the edge. This will be the bottom of the loaf.

Now you’ll make the top. Roll the remaining ball of dough out as you did the bottom. Cut in to 3 strips. Fold the strips over, pinch to seal, and roll a bit to form long ropes. Smush (isn’t that a word?) the ropes together at the top and braid carefully. Really stretch the dough out each time you curve it. At the end, smush the ropes together again. This is what you’ll end up with.

To transfer the braid to the bottom drape one end over your rolling pin and hold the other end on your palm and wrist. Gently place it on top of the pepperoni. Don’t worry if it gets stretched, it is easy to tweak back. Then fold the sides of the bottom up and pinch them to the underside of the braid.

Melt the butter; drizzle about a quarter of it over a small bowl of Parmesan cheese. Mix well. Paint the remaining butter on to the braid. Sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese. Top with parsley and garlic powder. Let rise until doubled.  Bake at 350 F for 30-40 minutes or until golden brown. If you prefer, trim the edges for a neater appearance. Slice and serve warm.

Enjoy!

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The Best Homemade Breadsticks EVER!

So Mom, if you’re reading this… I may have snuck in to your house and stole away with your breadstick recipe.  It might still be here, in my purse, ready to give back to you.  Just in case it’s missing. 😉


I am a self-declared breadstick connoisseur.  I sample breadsticks at pretty much every restaurant we visit.  I’ve been known to make an entire meal of just breadsticks.  What can I say?  I ❤ them!

Years ago my Mom made some fantastic breadsticks.  A-m-a-z-i-n-g.  She gave me the recipe at the time.  Unfortunately, I lost my copy (go figure) and hers’ went AWOL as well.  Recently though, it was found!!  I’m posting it here so that we never have this predicament again.

Garlic Parmesan Breadsticks
Source: Unknown magazine

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon active dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water (110 – 115 F)
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 3/4 cup butter or margarine, melted, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • garlic salt
  • grated Parmesan cheese
  • Marinara or spaghetti sauce, warmed, optional

In a mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in water.  Add sugar; let stand for 5 minutes.  Add 1/2 cup butter, salt, and 2 cups flour; beat until smooth.  Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough.  Knead 6 – 8 minutes by hand (or 4 – 6 minutes with a Kitchen Aid mixer).  Place in a greased bowl, turning once to grease top.  Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled.  Punch dough down.

To make basic breadsticks turn onto a lightly floured surface; roll into a 24″ x 10″ rectangle.  Cut dough in half lengthwise, then in to 5″ x 1″ strips.  Twist each strip and place 2″ apart on greased baking sheets.  Brush strips with remaining butter; sprinkle with garlic salt and Parmesan cheese.  Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled.

Bake at 350 F for 20 minutes or until golden brown.  Remove from pans to wire racks.  If desired, serve with marinara or spaghetti sauce for dipping.

Yield: 4 dozen.

Variations:
to come!

Building Shelves from Salvaged Materials

I am really happy with this shelf design.  I like it because I can build these shelves completely on my own and the design is very easy to adjust for specific measurements and uses.  I’ve tried to share some of the details here.  If you’re a visual learner like me you can probably figure it out from the pictures.  Scroll down and look at the finished product first if you need to.

We were in desperate need of shelves for the basement but I definitely didn’t want to buy any.  We had a giant pile of lumber in the backyard that we salvaged from the shed fire…

…and we had lots of metal shelves that were here when we moved in.  I looked it up and they are called gondola shelves.  Who knew?

The shelves themselves are flat.  They would typically mount on to a bracket coming off of a backboard.  That type of shelving wouldn’t work out well in our basement but I knew the flat shelf pieces would come in handy.  I measured several of the pieces we had.  Then, I made several rectangles out of 2x4s.  The rectangles are just large enough that the metal shelves sit right on them.

I made the shelving units assembly line style.  I set up the saw on the picnic tables and cut all of the 2x4s at once.  2 short pieces and 2 long pieces for each individual shelf.  I originally planned for 3 shelves per unit but then dropped back to 2 (more on the later).  I cut 4 long legs pieces per unit.  The measurements that work for my shelves were 17″ and 45 1/2″ for the rectangles and 78″ for the legs.

The only thing I had to buy were screws.  I used these kind because it’s what we had when I started and I liked them.  They don’t really need to be exterior screws.  The star shaped head is excellent for someone like me who doesn’t quite have the strength to hold the screwdriver in place when it wants to slip out of the head.  They come with a star shaped driver bit in case you don’t have one.

After all the pieces were cut I assembled the rectangles.  I had measured them to work with shorter pieces on the outside like so.

I don’t know if you can see it but I started all my screws first.  I used 2 in each end of the short pieces.  It is important to place them like that consistently so the other screws won’t hit later on.  Since the screws were already started I found it easiest to hold the long piece upright and line up the top piece.  I held them together with one hand and drove the screws in with a cordless drill in the other hand.  I’m not very coordinated so trust me, one person can do this on their own!

After all the rectangles were made it was time to add the legs.  You could add as many shelves on one unit as you wanted and space them however far apart depending on what you’re going to put on them.  I wanted 18 gallon Sterilite storage containers to fit on mine.  The ideal spacing I ended up with was the rectangles top edges 25″ and 51″ from the bottom of the legs.  Here’s a picture of a finished shelf to show you what I mean.

I changed up the way I attached the legs depending on if I needed the units to fit in a certain tight spot.  In the pictures above the legs are attached to the long sides of the rectangles.  That way the legs don’t add any length to the unit but they do add take up extra width.  Below you can see that the 2 units on the right have their legs attached to the short sides.  It just depends on where you have the room.

The legs can be put on without a helper too.  It is easiest to put the legs on the long sides if you’re doing it alone.  Stand the rectangles up on their long sides and lay the 2 legs across them.  Mark the legs at the proper positions and screw through the legs in to the rectangles.  Remember to watch where you position your screws so you don’t hit the other ones.  Then flip the whole thing over and attach the other legs the same way.  I put most of the legs on the short ends myself too but it is harder to get the rectangles to stand up on their own that way.   After the legs are on just stand the units up and pop the shelves in to place.

On the above unit you can see that I used 3 rectangles with 1 at the very top.  I had that up there to stabilize the unit but later realized the units were sturdy enough without the extra support so I started making them with only 2 rectangles.  I left the legs tall because I guess I like the idea of them keeping the containers from falling off.  An added thought is that I could always hang herbs and things to dry from ones with top boards.

I realize not everyone has so many metal shelves laying around but you could easily make these units to fit with any pre-made shelves or cut plywood or other lumber to work.  The Sterilite containers actually sit on these units fine even without the metal pieces in place but they obviously wouldn’t hold anything else that way.

So, ladies, next time you’re complaining to your husband to build you some shelves you may want to just do it yourself.  After all, then they’ll be exactly how you want them to be! 😀  Do you have enough shelving at your house?  Is there a place that could make more efficient storage with a few shelves?

 

Camera Talk

Since so many of my fellow bloggers take wonderful pictures (Julie & Abbie I’m looking at you!) I want your advice.  I really want to upgrade to a nicer camera.  Our current camera is a Kodak EasyShare C533.  It does the job but lacks that extra umph that really great photos have.  Most of my photographs are what you see here: either landscape shots or people and projects indoors.  I would like to photograph things that I bake too but my current camera does a terrible job at that.  I’ve been scoping out the ads but don’t know what to look for.  Mom & I are going out on Black Friday so I want to be ready if there is a deal.

What features are most important?

Is one brand better than the others?  (I’m a little partial to Nikon since yearbook class)

Anything to avoid?

I’d love any advice you can give me!  Thanks in advance! 🙂

What a woman can do with a sledgehammer…

First, don safety glasses:

Aren’t these stylish?  They’re even Harley Davidson although you can’t tell from the front.

Next, choose your target.  Your aim doesn’t have to be exact, just general.  Here’s mine:

Smash it to bits!  Salvage anything useful and haul the rest away.  Then, break for dinner and visiting with friends.

The next morning, before church,  hurry and finish up.  Vacuum up too.  Try out your paint color of choice.

Ahh, much better!!! I got a good workout and this space is on it’s way to being much more useful.  Have you ever demolished anything?

Letting Go of the Past

I am on a mission to get the loose ends tied up on my home repair projects.  I’m busting through that list of trouble spots and it feels good!  As I push and sort through the junk in the basement I occasionally stumble across a relic from my past.  Some I won’t part with, such as the stuffed Curious George my Dad bought for me when I was born.  Also staying is my black cowboy hat from the days of horse shows and the sole ribbon that Pooh and I won in halter class.  Pictures of old friends I don’t know anymore?  I’ve not decided.

Leaving?  My collection of a dozen or so  liquor bottles.  Filled with water and bits of highlighter they used to look pretty cool near a blacklight…

Now they look pretty funny there on my kitchen counter with the mixer, dough rising, and a stack of bills to be paid.  Time to dump them out and recycle them.  Lucky for me (and my parents) there was only a short period in my life where I indulged.  Do I regret it?  Not really.  I don’t have to wonder what I’m missing, I know I’m not missing much.  I have some great and some not so great memories.  I’ll take them all.

Also leaving, the most unsavory songs from my iTunes collection.  Bye bye Chingy, Lil Flip, and Birdman.  Hank Williams III, I’ve been holding on to you too long.  I know Danny liked you and I did too back then but he’s gone and you’re leaving too.  Delete, delete, delete.

It’s time to be an adult and stop looking back.  Thank God, I’ve been blessed with a life far more wonderful than I deserve or ever could have imagined.  I’m happy to clean up and clear out the old stuff cluttering up my life.

What about you?  Anything you’re holding on to?  Why?