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No Knead Crusty Artisan Bread

I have been in search of the perfect Crusty Bread recipe. You know, the kind you find in great Italian restaurants that have a gorgeous crackly crust and a chewy inside, perfect for dipping in olive oil? Well here she is folks.

 No Knead Crusty Artisan Bread

The dough comes together in minutes and requires only four ingredients and hardly any effort on your part. FOUR! All she needs is a little time to become something wonderful. This is the easist bread you’ll ever make. For anyone who’s terriefied of baking bread (once upon a time I was too) this is your new BFF. Seriously, this is THE easiest bread I think you can make.

No Knead Crusty Artisan Bread 2

This recipe is adapted from Jim Lehay’s minimalist approach to bread baking: let time do the work. Throw your ingredients together tonight and be enjoying fresh baked bread tomorrow. And what isn’t more comforting that the smell of fresh bread floating in the air as the days and nights get colder?

No Knead Crusty Artisan Bread

No Knead Artisan Bread

3 cups all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon dry yeast
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cup water

Directions

1. In a mixing bowl add the dry ingredients. Using your hands, or a fork, blend the dry ingredients.
2. Pour in the water and mix. Pull together the dough using your hands or a wooden spoon.
3. Scrape any excess flour from the bottom and sides of the bowl, making sure the ingredients are well incorporated and form into a ball. Don’t worry the dough is supposed to be stringy.
4. Place a piece of plastic wrap on the bowl to avoid the dough from drying out. Allow to rise in a warm dry, and draft free place for at least 12 hours and up to 24 hours.
5. Dust a large piece of parchment paper, measuring about 24 inches with flour to prevent the dough from sticking. Scrape the risen dough onto the floured parchment paper.
6. Sprinkle some flour on the dough to prevent it from sticking to your hands.
7. Lightly pat down the dough with your hands to form a piece of dough measuring approximately 10×10 inches.
8. Fold the both side edges to the center of the dough take the top edge and fold into the center, doing the same with the bottom edge of the dough.
9. Turn the dough and place the folded side of the dough on the parchment paper and dust with flour to prevent sticking .
10. Loosely wrap the dough in the parchment paper and place on a baking sheet and cover it with a tea towel again.
11. Transfer to a warm and dry place and allow to rise a second time for 2 hours.
12. Place the cast iron Dutch oven with its cover, on the second rack from the bottom of your stove’s oven. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Dust the smooth side of the risen dough with flour to prevent it from sticking to the bottom while baking.
13. Once the oven has heated up. Remove the pot from the oven and take the cover off. Place the dough, folded sides up and cover. Bake for 30 minutes at 500ºF
14. Remove the cover and continue baking at 375 for an additional 15-30 minutes.

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Homemade Bath Bombs

What’s hotter than a bath? A bath with bombs! To soak away a stressful day, all you have to do is toss a bath bomb into your tub. It will set off a fizzy reaction that releases super-relaxing essential oils. Plus, they make great gifts! Pamper yourself (or your loved one) and make your own DIY bath bombs.

One of the best parts of making your own bath bombs is getting to choose the essential oils! You can go with floral scents like lavender or rosemary, or a citrus blend with lemon or grapefruit.  Some other common essential oils used for bath bombs are peppermint, vanilla and chamomile. Let the bath bombs dry for at least one day before you use them! If your bath bombs are a gift, wrap them in cellophane or tissue paper for a pretty ‘present’-tation. Get creative with these. Girls might like some glitter added to theirs. I mean, seriously, what isn’t made better by glitter? You can easily make dissoluble ‘glitter’ by adding a few drops of food coloring to some large grain sugar and mixing well. Sprinkle some on top of your bombs and pack it in. The kids will love discovering a fun bath toy revealed as the ball dissolves. Looking for a cute, frugal Valentine’s Day gift? Add a conversation heart to each one and go for shades of pink, red, and purple. If you want to get even more creative with it, check out some of the neat bath bombs offered on Etsy for some inspiration.

Homemade Bath Bombs

4 Sons 'R' Us: Homemade Bath Bombs

recipe originally from The Passionate Maker

8 oz. Baking Soda
4 oz. Citric Acid
4 oz. Corn Starch
4 oz. Epsom Salts (make sure these are fine grained)
¾ tsp Water
2 tsp* Essential oils
2 ½ Tbsp Light vegetable oil
2 drops Food Coloring
Whisk, bowl, jar, wax paper, cookie sheet, mold (opt.)

* Adjust essential oil quantity if using strong oils like geranium and be sure to avoid oils that are strong skin sensitizers like cinnamon (or be sure to only use a drop or two of such oils).

Directions

1. Blend the dry ingredients in a large glass bowl to a smooth consistency.
2. Blend wet ingredients in a small jar with a lid and shake to combine.
3. Slowly whisk small amounts of the liquid into the dry ingredients. If the mixture starts to foam, you are adding the liquid too quickly.
4. When all the liquid has been added, test to see if it clumps together like wet sand when you squeeze it. If not, add more wet ingredients, a tiny bit at a time. Press the mixture into 4 to 5 round balls. You can also try using a mold such as a melon baller, candy or soap mold, or ice cube tray.
5. Let dry overnight, then store in an airtight container or Ziploc bag for storage up to 6 months.
6. When ready to use, drop in a warm bath and relax. The bomb will fizz slowly because of the combination of citric acid and baking soda, and the oils will disperse.

I absolutely love the ‘rustic’ feel of these, bursting with dried flowers and herbs!

Green Bean Fries

My kids always count on fries with their burgers. I mean it’s like a burger staple for them. Serve them a burger without a side of fries and they’d probably look at me like I had just sprouted a second head, or antennae. They’re actually really good sports because burger night, which only falls once a month (maybe twice a month on a leap year) is the only night they get fries with dinner. Despite knowing that it was in fact burger night, I forgot to check to make sure I had potatoes. I also had a gaggle of kids at our house that day and no way to get to the store. What I did have? Several pounds of fresh green beans! Green bean fries came to my rescue. These were so good that it actually took me several minutes to convince my husband that I hadn’t gotten them carry-out from a restaurant or from the frozen food section of the grocery store. Every son raved about them. I mean a vegetable turned french fry? It was awe-inspiring. I’ve got to admit the way their jaws dropped and the awe-struck looks on their faces…it was pretty magical. Next time though I think I will try baking them instead of frying.

Green Bean Fries

Green Bean Fries

recipe from Six Sisters’ Stuff

  • Vegetable oil, for frying
  • 1 pound fresh green beans, trimmed
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

  1. Heat a few cups of vegetable oil in a deep pot or fryer over medium-high heat.
  2. Meanwhile, pour chicken broth into a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Add the green beans and let boil for 5 minutes.  Remove beans from broth with a slotted spoon and set in a bowl of cold water.
  3. After beans are cooled down, pat dry with a paper towel.
  4. Whisk the egg and milk together in a shallow bowl.
  5. In another shallow bowl, combine flour, breadcrumbs, onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper.
  6. Dip the beans into the egg mixture, followed by the flour mixture and place in hot oil, a few beans at a time.  Cook for 2-3 minutes or until golden brown.
  7. Serve with ranch dressing or other dipping sauces. Add a few drops of wasabi to ranch dressing and mix thoroughly for a wasabi-ranch dipping sauce

The Mummy Pumpkin

Son # 4 lovingly referred to this as his ‘Mommy’ pumpkin. I, of course, was tickled pink. It took some practice, but this year he’s having no trouble pronouncing the word ‘mummy’. I’m thinking to celebrate we will be seeing multiple Mommy, err Mummy, themed crafts this October.

When I found this easy, fun pumpkin craft on Martha Stewart’s website I knew we had to do it. I love carving pumpkins with the older boys (I spend a shameless amount of time scouring the web for the lates and greatest pumpkin template for them to choose from), but I wanted something different to do with the youngest son. Let’s save carving, you know pumpkin guts, tools, knives and all that, for at least a few more years. Please? That and if he needs a quick sensory lesson he can always stick his hand in his brothers’ pumpkins. Which he did…repeatedly.

While my version may not be as pristine, or authentic looking as Martha’s, it did the trick. I used what I had on hand in the house so it was budget friendly, and it was a quick craft to fit in before nap time.

The Mummy Pumpkin

4 Sons 'R' Us: The Mummy Pumpkin

  • roll of gauze
  • googly eyes
  • black cardstock
  • glue gun

Directions

  1. Starting at any point on the pumpkin glue a starting edge to the pumpkin.
  2. From their wrap the gauze around the pumpkin, continuing until you feel like it’s sufficiently covered.
  3. When satisfied with the ‘look’, cut the gauze and hot glue down the end piece.
  4. Glue two googly eyes on.
  5. Cut a mouth out of the black cardstock and glue on.
  6. Voila, you now have a pumpkin mummy.

Famous Football Party Stromboli

Famous Football Party Stromboli

Football season is underway again, and for our house, that means so are the game-time snacks and treats.  All of my guys love the game. They also ALL love food. So this is the perfect union of two of their favorite things. The amount of testosterone in my house on game-day is scary. However, on game day, I’m just ‘one of the guys’.

One of the easiest, and tastiest things we enjoy chowing down on between downs is homemade stromboli. What game-day experience would be complete without man-food? This is MAN-FOOD at it’s finest. It’s also ‘Mom’ food. It’s easy and quick to prepare so I don’t have to miss the game to slave away in the kitchen. It’s even easy to serve and eat, which is another plus since it means all four boys are allowed to eat on the couch. No griping about missing parts of the game? No giant mess to clean up after four boys? Famous Football Party Stromboli for the win!

This is literally the perfect party food. Make a little, make a ton. It’s simple, and totally satisfying. Feel free to chase it with a swig of beer in between bouts of screaming at the tv.

Famous Football Party Stromboli

4 Sons 'R' Us: Famous Football Party Stromboli

recipe adapted from Liv Life Too

  • 1 16 oz loaf of bread dough, thawed according to package directions or homemade pizza dough
  • 1/4 lb thinly sliced ham
  • 1/4 lb pepperoni (hard salami)
  • 1/4 lb salami (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil, divided
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano, divided
  • 1/4 lb thinly sliced provolone cheese
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 2 tbsp butter, melted
  • 1 tsp cornmeal (optional)

Directions

  1. Place bread dough on lightly greased baking sheet.  Pat into a 15 x 10” rectangle.
  2. Arrange ham slices lengthwise down center; place pepperoni on top, then salami.  Sprinkle with ¼ teaspoon basil and ¼ teaspoon oregano.
  3. Arrange provolone cheese over herbs and top with shredded mozzarella cheese.  Sprinkle with remaining herbs.
  4. Moisten all edges of dough with water; bring each long edge of dough to center. Press edges together securely to seal.  Seal ends.
  5. Brush dough with 1 Tablespoon butter; sprinkle with cornmeal and carefully invert so that the seam side is down.  Brush top with remaining butter.
  6. Bake at 375 degrees for 20-22 minutes or until browned.
  7. Remove from oven and place on a cutting board.  Let cool for 5 minutes.
  8. Cut horizontally into slices with a serrated (bread) knife.  For smaller portions, first cut vertically down the center, them into horizontal slices.

Crockpot Hawaiian Meatballs

I’m always on the lookout for new things to do with ground beef. I buy two 6 lb packages of lean ground beef each month from Costco. One gets divided into 1lb packages to freeze and use for meals. The other gets divided and made into meatloaf and meatballs. My boys love meatballs with their spaghetti. They love meatball subs. But, that’s about as adventurous as they were willing to be when it came to the sacred ‘meatball’. That was until this recipe. They loved it. The sweet and sour sauce was rich and delicious. I love it when I can get fruit into any meal. They devoured it and asked for more.

These are by far, the BEST crock pot meatballs I’ve ever had. They’re simple. They’re easy. They’re filling. AND they’re budget friendly! All of which made this recipe a keeper for a busy Mom with a boat-load of growing boys to feed.

Really, this is a must try. No longer are meatballs only for Italian-style dishes. Or the typical, tried and true, bland crock pot ‘cocktail’ style recipes that have been done countless times before.

Crockpot Hawaiian Meatballs

4 Sons 'R' Us: Crockpot Hawaiian Meatballs

 

recipe from Six Sisters’ Stuff

  • 32 oz of pre-packaged frozen meatballs or about 2 lbs of frozen, homemade meatballs
  • 13.5 oz can of unsweetened pineapple chunks, drain and reserve juice
  • 1 large green pepper, diced
  • 1 cup of brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 2/3 cup white vinegar
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce

Directions

  1. Place meatballs in crock pot and top with green pepper and drained pineapple chunks.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix reserved pineapple juice, brown sugar, cornstarch, vinegar and soy sauce.
  3. Pour sauce over meatballs, pineapple and green peppers.
  4. Cook on low for 3-4 hours or until heated through.
  5. Serve over cooked white rice.

{One Pot Wonder} Cheeseburger Casserole

{One Pot Wonder} Cheeseburger Casserole

I love a one pot meal. This recipe is so easy, quick to prepare, and the same great cheeseburger flavors we crave. I can’t stress this enough… it did in fact taste just like a cheeseburger! Less mess, less clean-up, but some very satisfied customers. Sprinkling on some of our favorite traditional cheeseburger toppings rounded out the truly authentic taste. While the rest of us opted for tomatoes, onions, lettuce, and pickles, I did have to draw the line for the oldest son at mayonnaise. What is it about teenage boys and mayonnaise? He puts it on everything. Eventually I caved at steak sauce, as long as it remained only on his plate. But, I digress. This meal really is outstanding. Shake things up, and step outside of the box, the next night you’re craving burgers by giving this a try!

{One Pot Wonder} Cheeseburger Casserole

4 Sons 'R' Us: {One Pot Wonder} Cheeseburger Casserole

recipe adapted from Number 2 Pencil

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 1/2 lbs ground beef
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 8 oz can tomato sauce
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1 lb rotini pasta
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • freshly diced tomato
  • green onions, thinly sliced
  • pickles
  • shredded lettuce

Directions

  1. In a dutch oven, or large pot, add olive oil. Over medium heat, saute onions until softened.
  2. Increase heat to high and add ground beef. Brown ground beef. Drain.
  3. Return beef to pot and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Add canned tomatoes, sauce, broth, water, pasta, ketchup, and mustard to the pot. Stir to evenly combine.
  5. Bring pot to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 15-20 minutes, or until the pasta is tender.
  6. Once pasta is cooked, remove the pot from heat and stir in one cup of cheddar cheese.
  7. Sprinkle the remaining cup of cheese over top the pasta and re-cover with lid until the cheese is melted.
  8. Serve. Add your choice of the traditional cheeseburger toppings to your serving and enjoy.
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