Saturday, January 19, 2013

Hibernation, Appliances, and of Course Food

I am happy to inform you that so far this flu season, none of us have been affected... yet.  Well, no flu anyway.  We have had our share of colds, but nothing too debilitating.  It seemed like one out of every few posts on Facebook this past week have been about someone in a family (or whole families!) being bedridden for a few days.  So, needless to say, at the beginning of the week, I kept CJ home from the library.  I have seen him put a bunch of those toys they play with after singing in his mouth so who knows what germs lurk in that bin!  We have had a few playdates, but for the most part we have been holed up in the house.  Lesson learned- must put newspapers or plastic on floor when playing with Play-Doh.  That stuff is MESSY.  Who knew? (Well, apparently me who spent a good half hour Monday night scraping dried up Play-Doh out of the basement carpet with a butter knife). 

Our huge project this winter is getting the whole kitchen redone.  We were very happy with our kitchen when we first bought the house, but now we realize it is time for an upgrade.  So, we are getting all new cabinets, granite countertops, a backsplash, and appliances.  We are also changing the layout slightly so we can have more storage.  I am very excited about the whole thing, but can't wait until it is done.  The latest step in the process has had me picking out new appliances which is quite the headache.  Apparently nowadays everything breaks.  Quickly.  So, no brand has stellar reviews across the board.  I don't care if we get different brands for different appliances (we are keeping our Bosch dishwasher per recommendation) except that we need our refrigerator and wall oven to match because they will be right next to each other.  To find a brand that does both well- well let's just say I've been quite frustrated.  But, I think FINALLY we may have some winners- let's just hope that the oven won't explode when using the self-cleaning function (HA!  Cleaning the oven.)  Today we pick granite.

This week's favorite meal was inspired by trying to use up ingredients in our refrigerator before the renovation starts.  I decided to make a pizza using some leftover sausage, veggies, and a jar of pizza sauce I had on hand.  I like to make my own crust, and over the past year I have used this recipe.
Even though it comes out really crispy when using a pizza stone, it is not foolproof and there have been times when I'm about to call it quits when trying to press it into a circle.    So, I decided to try something new from a cookbook I received for Christmas. 

Jim Lahey's Perfect Pizza Crust from "Dinner: A Love Story"
3 3/4 cups flour (I substituted 2 cups of whole wheat flour for 2 cups A.P. flour)
2 1/2 teaspoons instant or other active dry yeast
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon sugar
1 1/3 cup room-temperature water

In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, yeast, salt, and sugar. Add the water and, using a wooden spoon or your hand, mix until blended, at least 30 seconds. The dough will be stiff, not wet and sticky. Cover the bowl and let sit at room temperature until the dough has more than doubled in volume, about 2 hours. Divide the dough in two and shape each into flattened balls. (Dough can be frozen at this point.)
When you are ready to make a pizza, preheat oven to 500°F roll out one ball of dough in a rectangular shape and place on an oiled cookie sheet.

Yeah, forgot to take a picture while still on cookie sheet
I topped the pizza with fresh mozzarella, pizza sauce from a jar (gasp), cooked turkey sausage, broccoli florets, and mushrooms.  Yes, you do have to knead it a bit and wait to let the dough rise, but it was so much easier to press it out into a cookie sheet!  And, you get two balls of dough so now I have one in the freezer!  The middle of the pizza may not have been as crispy as I would have liked, but overall me, Kevin, and CJ gobbled it right up.  Win!  By the way, check out the blog Dinner: A Love Story.  I like it so much I had to get the book. 

We still try to go out to eat once a week (thank God CJ is typically good at restaurants) and we're always all about a new restaurant opening in our area, especially if it's non-chain.  Last night we tried The V Brew House in Ashburn.  It used to be the Shenandoah Restaurant (loved their Krispy Kreme Doughnut bread pudding!) which was short-lived unfortunately.  I had a grilled chicken sandwich with cheese, avocado, and bacon with waffle fries, Kevin had a New York strip steak with a loaded baked potato, and CJ had the kids' fish plate with mashed potatoes.  Me and Kevin's meals were okay, not bad, but nothing to get excited about.  The waffle fries were really good, and you didn't get too large of a helping.  CJ liked his meal, especially the free scoop of ice cream at the end!  The beer list is pretty good, I'm assuming at some point they will have their own beer.  The ambiance is nice, a little dark, but not too intimate that I felt bad bringing a child.  The bar area seemed hopping.  I would probably go back for drinks, but if I'm in Ashburn for dinner the much better choice is Ford's Fish Shack. 

We are off on this cold (but at least sunny) day to pick some granite!  Let's hope we find something we will be happy with! 

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