Easy Pizza Dough Recipe {And How to Proof Yeast}

Easy Pizza Dough Recipe {And How to Proof Yeast} at RoamingRosie.com

Pizza is one of those things I love to make from scratch.

It’s really easy, and my kids can help.  I love getting them involved in dinner.

In this post I’ve included the printable recipe for the pizza dough, but I’m also going to go into detail about how we normally make our pizza.

And we normally top our pizzas with just cheese.  I’m a big fan of simple dishes with strong flavor, and I like to focus on the cheese.  So, I usually serve it with a salad.  But you can go ahead and top yours with veggies if you prefer.  Or meat.  We did sprinkle on some pepperoni pieces this time, too.

Easy Pizza Dough Recipe at RoamingRosie.com

The ingredients are pretty basic, so I almost always have them on hand.

The only thing I sometimes run out of is cheese.  We eat a lot of cheese.  :)

Yeast, though, is one of those things that a lot of people I know have trouble with, so I’m going to explain what I’ve learned through trial and error.  And how I get my yeast to do what I’ve shown in the photos below:

Easy Pizza Dough Recipe {And How to Proof Yeast} at RoamingRosie.com

You need the water (or milk – for some breads) to be between 100 and 110 degrees Fahrenheit.

This is the hardest part.

It’s hard mostly because it’s so important.  If the water is too cold, the yeast won’t activate.  If the water’s too hot, it will kill the yeast.  Either way, if the yeast doesn’t get all foamy and yeasty, you’ll have a denser, tougher finished product.  Still edible – but not ideal.

I’ve run into so much trouble in the past trying to reach the right temp in the microwave, so I switched to using the sink water.

I get the right temperature almost every single time by running the tap until the water just reaches a very-hot-to-the-touch feel.  I fill up my glass measuring cup and use a thermometer to make sure the temperature is where I need it, and it nearly always is.  Sometimes, if I let the water run hot for too long before filling the glass, it registers at 113 or 115.  So I let it sit for a minute.

Then I pour the water into my large mixing bowl.  And when I mix the yeast into the warm water, I also add some sugar.  The yeast eats the sugar, so it helps it.

After sitting for 10 minutes, the yeast should look very foamy, as it does in the above photo, and there should be a very noticeable yeast smell.

Then, making this dough is just a matter of stirring in the rest of the ingredients.

Easy Pizza Dough Recipe {And How to Proof Yeast} at RoamingRosie.com

I usually roll out this dough with a rolling pin, but you can also stretch it by hand.

Those two little circles of dough in the photo above were my daughters’ pizzas.  I stretched them by hand.  Then I rolled out the large rectangle with a rolling pin.  (On a well floured surface.)

To transfer the dough from the counter to the pan, I rolled it around the rolling pin and unrolled it again over the pan.

I also cover the pan with foil and a brief spritz of nonstick spray.  You could use a light coating of oil, too.  Or parchment paper.  Sometimes I use a pizza pan with holes in the bottom because I do like the crispiness and I can skip the foil, but when I’m making multiple pizzas, I’ve found that the regular baking pans work well.

Of course, nothing is better than a preheated pizza stone, but I stopped using mine when I had kids.  I suppose I’ll switch back one day, but right now I’d prefer not to have to deal with a heavy, five-hundred-degree rock while I have two young children running around my kitchen.

Easy Pizza Dough Recipe at RoamingRosie.com

Anyway, on to the toppings!

I like to use just a few strong flavors for pizza, as I mentioned.  Thus, I top mine with plain tomato sauce, salt, pepper, garlic powder, Parmesan cheese, and mozzarella cheese.

For the pizzas pictured here, I used 8 ounces of tomato sauce, 8 ounces of fresh mozzarella cheese, and 8 ounces of part-skim mozzarella cheese.

Easy Pizza Dough Recipe at RoamingRosie.com

Why do I use half fresh and half part-skim mozzarella?

Once, on the Food Network, I saw the owner of a pizzeria explaining that he used that combination for a better texture on the finished pizza.  I tried it and I liked it.

I’ve used just fresh or just part-skim on pizzas, and I like that, too, but I like the combination best.

Oh – and why do I use plain tomato sauce instead of some fancy pizza sauce or spaghetti sauce that’s laden with herbs and other veggies?  Because all of the best pizzas that I ate in Rome simply melted in my mouth.  They were simple.  They used the best ingredients – and by best I also mean basic.  Just tomatoes in the tomato sauce.

Of course, you can feel free to use something different, but I suggest trying it with the plain tomato sauce and a little sprinkle of spices.

Seriously.  It rocks.

Easy Pizza Dough Recipe at RoamingRosie.com

Here you can see the toppings.

My oldest daughter requested pepperoni on her pizza, but we only had a small chunk left.  So I cut the slices thinly and cut those slices in half to try to make it go a little further.

And since I put pepperoni on only half of the large pizza, my daughter copied me by only adding it to half of hers.  :)

Easy Pizza Dough Recipe at RoamingRosie.com

Here are the pizzas all ready to go into the oven.

I layered the toppings like this:  spread on the tomato sauce; sprinkle on salt, pepper, and garlic powder; sprinkle on Parmesan cheese; sprinkle on mozzarella cheese; add any other toppings, such as pepperoni.

You can also brush the crust with melted butter or olive oil and sprinkle on some Parmesan or garlic powder.  I didn’t do that here, but sometimes I do.

Easy Pizza Dough Recipe at RoamingRosie.com

Doesn’t that look amazing??

You can see the differences in the crusts.  The above photo shows the small circle pizzas I shaped for my girls by hand stretching them.  Below is the crust that I rolled out with a rolling pin, and which is also a little thinner.  Both good, just with slightly different thicknesses.

Easy Pizza Dough Recipe at RoamingRosie.com

And leftovers are easy to reheat.  Pop them in a convection or conventional oven at 350 degree Fahrenheit, and cook for about 10 minutes or until the cheese begins to melt.

Easy Pizza Dough

Ingredients:

1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
1 cup warm water (100° to 110° F)
2 cups bread flour
2 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt (or 1/2 tsp. of sea salt or Himalayan salt)
2 Tbsp. olive oil

Warm the water to between 100° and 110° F. I usually do this by running the sink water until it just becomes very hot to the touch and fill up a measuring glass to the 1 cup line. I then use a thermometer to make sure it’s the right temperature. If it’s too hot, it will kill the yeast, and if it’s too cold, the yeast won’t activate.

Pour the water into a large bowl. Mix in the yeast and 1 tsp of the sugar. Allow to stand for 10 minutes until foamy.

Add in the rest of the ingredients and stir until a dough forms. Cover with a kitchen towel (I sometimes use plastic wrap under the towel to keep it from sticking), and let rest for 30 minutes, or until about double in size.

Roll out the dough on a well-floured surface to your desired shape and thickness. The recipe will make one large pizza with a thick crust or two with a thin crust. Or multiple small ones.

Move dough to a baking pan and top with tomato sauce, cheese, and other desired toppings. You can also brush the crust with olive oil or melted butter.

Bake at 425°F for 15 to 20 minutes or until the crust is golden brown on the edges.

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And to print the free PDF copy of the recipe, click here:  Easy Pizza Dough

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Perfectly Popped Popcorn {with coconut oil}

Perfectly Popped Popcorn with Coconut Oil

This is some pretty amazing stuff right here.

I make a lot of popcorn … I MAY have mentioned once or twice my Garlic Infused Parmesan Popcorn … but sometimes it’s nice to enjoy just the butter and the salt of traditional movie theatre popcorn – but without all the gross chemicals and additives.

Perfectly Popped Popcorn with Coconut Oil and Himalayan Salt

This recipe was my solution to that.

And it’s AMAZING.

Now, part of that is because of the virgin coconut oil.  If you don’t use virgin, then you won’t get the coconut taste.  Maybe that’s what you want.  But it’s not what I wanted.

The subtle tropical flavor suits the puffed kernels so perfectly.

And the Himalayan salt tastes pretty amazing all on its own anyway.

Plus, I buy my popcorn kernels in bulk at my local health food store.  I like this popcorn for two reasons:  it’s organic and it pops light and fluffy every time.

Oh – and yet another benefit:  the combination of the popcorn and the virgin coconut oil will make your kitchen smell incredible.

Seriously.

Perfectly Popped Popcorn

Okay, to make the popcorn, start with a large pan with deep sides, or a pot.

Melt the coconut oil over medium heat, then toss in 3 kernels of popcorn.  Cover.  When you hear the 3 kernels pop, add in the rest.

Perfectly Popped Popcorn

When you add in the rest of the popcorn, quickly shake a pinch of salt over them, then cover.

Shake the pan now and then to make sure all the kernels cook evenly.  Even tilt it from side to side.  Just hold the cover on while shaking.

Perfectly Popped Popcorn

Once the popcorn is done, put it into a “giant” paper lunch bag (mine are approx. 11 x 6 x 4 inches and I found them at Walmart).  Or, use a small paper grocery bag.  You could try using a regular paper lunch bag, but that won’t allow the popcorn as much movement when shaking.

Drizzle the melted butter over it and add a few more pinches of Himalayan salt.

Fold over the top of the bag and shake vigorously until you’re quite certain that all of the popcorn is covered with the toppings.

Some of the melted butter will start to soak through the bag.  That’s okay.

And remember, you can always add more salt if there’s not enough for your taste, but you can NOT take it away.  Better to add too little than too much.  Himalayan salt is really strong and you don’t need a lot of it.

Perfectly Popped Popcorn

Then pour it into a bowl and enjoy!

It’s hard to beat fresh, incredible food that takes only a few minutes.  And the taste … *drools*

Perfectly Popped Popcorn {with coconut oil}

Ingredients:

1/4 cup virgin or extra virgin coconut oil
1/3 cup organic popcorn kernels
2 Tbsp butter, melted
Himalayan salt, to taste

Melt the coconut oil over medium heat in a large pan with high sides.

Once melted, add 3 popcorn kernels and cover. When the 3 kernels pop, add the rest of the kernels, spreading evenly over the bottom of the pan. Quickly sprinkle a pinch of salt over the kernels and cover.

While continuing to cook over medium heat, occasionally shake the pan (making sure the cover is secure). It should take only a few minutes for all the kernels to pop.

When the popping has slowed and there are a few seconds between popping sounds, remove the pan from the heat and carefully shake it once more to make sure there are no more unpopped kernels floating around inside.

Transfer the popped popcorn to a large paper lunch bag (or a small paper grocery bag). Drizzle the melted butter over it and then shake a few more pinches of salt into the bag. Fold over the top of the bag and shake vigorously to cover all of the popcorn with the toppings.

Pour into a bowl and enjoy!

[Note: the virgin coconut oil is what gives this recipe its unique taste, but you can still use regular coconut oil if you prefer.]

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Click here to print the free PDF version of the recipe:  Perfectly Popped Popcorn with coconut oil

Enjoy!

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U is for Up, Underground, and Underwater

U is for Up, Underground, and Underwater {Letter Activities for Kids}

We do a lot of Alphabet Activities in our house.

My girls love to do projects, and I love that they enjoy projects that help them with letter recognition, pre-reading skills, and a whole handful of other useful exercises.

The main problem is that I haven’t gotten around to posting about all of the activities yet.  Or all of the worksheets that I’ve made for the girls.  But I’m getting to it.

Today, for example, I’m sharing one of the Letter U activities that we did… even though I haven’t yet officially posted ALL of the Letter U activities and worksheets yet.  But with summer ending, I wanted to get this one out there.  It’s a great way to get the kids outdoors.

I cut two letters from a piece of purple foam and gave a U to each of my girls.

I showed them a letter U worksheet with the words Up, Underground, and Underwater.  We talked about what each word meant, then we used the foam letters to demonstrate each concept.

They held the letters over their heads, then buried them in the dirt, and, finally, submerged them in the pool.

It was a lot of fun for them, and certainly memorable.

Here is the free printable PDF of the worksheet I made for this activity:  U is for Up Underground and Underwater

{The worksheet is free for personal and classroom use.  Please do not sell or redistribute it.}

We colored in the words after we finished swimming.  Can’t just put the letters in the pool and not ourselves, right?

I’ll be uploading more worksheets and activities soon!

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The Katie Books by James Mayhew

Katie Books by James Mayhew a book review

When I first found Katie, I was very excited.

A colorful book that is fun to read AND teaches kids about art history?

Wow.

Now, I may not be all that familiar with the specifics of art history, even being an artist myself, but I have at least a basic knowledge.  Enough to pronounce the names correctly when I read the books – but that isn’t an issue anyway since there are pronunciation guides in the back.

The point is, I was delighted that there existed this spirited little girl to introduce my kids to a culture I was desperate to try to share with them.  Then I found that she didn’t just explore the paintings of Monet and Van Gogh and Goya, but she travels to different countries and travels back in time to run around with dinosaurs, too.

It just kept getting better and better.

Now, honestly, my favorites are where she visits the dinosaurs and travels to Scotland for an adventure with Nessie.  But, honestly, my 4-year-old seems to request the Impressionists and Spanish Princess more often.  My 2-year-old likes them all.

Here are a couple of pages from Katie and the Dinosaurs: 

Katie and the Dinosaurs by James Mayhew

Katie and the Dinosaurs by James Mayhew

I love the brilliant colors in the fun artwork, but also the story.

The stories are very easy to read and great at bedtime because words flow.

Katie often jumps in and out of paintings in the stories, joining Degas’ dancers on stage or learning to paint with Jean, the son of Monet.

The interaction with the paintings in the museum is wonderful.  Below is a page from Katie and the Spanish Princess, where you can see a painting come alive.

Katie and the Spanish Princess by James Mayhew

Overall, even though I mentioned which are my favorites, I highly recommend all of the books.  We only own about half of them right now, but I plan to finish our collection this upcoming Christmas.

The books are all very well done and a joy both for my children and for myself.  The stories are entertaining, often exciting and amusing.  My girls have laughed out loud at the tales.  As have I.

Here is a list of Katie books:

Katie and the Starry Night

Katie Meets The Impressionists

Katie and the Spanish Princess

Katie and the Mona Lisa

Katie and the British Artists

Katie and the Dinosaurs

Katie in London

Katie in Scotland

Katie’s Picture Show

Katie and the Sunflowers

Katie and the Waterlily Pond

Katie’s London Christmas (Available Nov. 1, 2014)

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Letter C: Free Alphabet Worksheets for Kids

FREE Printable Letter C Alphabet Activities Worksheets at RoamingRosie.com

If you’re new here, please read the Introduction to the Alphabet Activities first!

Here are all of the printable PDFs for the Letter C.  They are free for home and classroom use, but please don’t sell them.

C is for Camel

C is for Candy

C is for Car

C is for Clocks

C is for Counting Colorful Cats 1

C is for Counting Colorful Cats 2

C is for Cow and Cheese

C is for Crab

C is for Types of Clouds

And don’t forget to check out all of our Letter C Alphabet Activities.

Follow me on Facebook and Pinterest to see my latest posts.

Have fun!

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Letter C: Alphabet Activities for Kids

Letter C:  Alphabet Activities for Kids at RoamingRosie.com

Welcome to Letter C Day!

If you haven’t read the Introduction to the Alphabet Activities, you should start there.

And don’t forget to check out the Letter C:  Free Alphabet Worksheets for Kids, too!

Letter Sorting:  C is for Cars {Alphabet Activities at RoamingRosie.com}

For our letter sorting activity, I made two paper cars.

To make it a little easier to distinguish between the capital and lowercase Cs, I cut out the capital Cs in a slightly bigger circle than the lowercase ones.

But kids tend to be more observant than us anyway, and I’m not sure that extra step was necessary.

C is for Caterpillar {Alphabet Activities at RoamingRosie.com}

This paper project goes great with Letter C Day and with a reading of The Very Hungry Caterpillar, which we read anyway.

But instead of cutting out circles for the body of the caterpillar, I cut out large letter Cs in different colors.

C is for Counting Colorful Cats  {Alphabet Activities at RoamingRosie.com}

This is a file folder-type game that I made.  And it’s one that my daughter still pulls out of the “file folder” game binder to play.

It’s a simple concept of matching the cats that are the same color, but lets you practice counting as well as color matching.

You can find the free printout on my Letter C:  Free Alphabet Worksheets for Kids post.

C is for Cloud Watching {Alphabet Activities at RoamingRosie.com}

This was probably my favorite activity.

I know it seems a little strange at first glance – after all, what toddler/preschooler can pronounce “cumulonimbus?”

Honestly, I struggled to say the words, too.

But, with this chart in hand, we lay in the grass and watched the clouds.  We talked about the different shapes and which picture on the chart best matched the clouds we saw.  We picked animals out of the floating masses and laughed as the shapes fell apart again.

My daughter still excitedly points out shapes she sees in the clouds, and her younger sister is starting to, as well.

I made this chart with photos from the NOAA and you can get the free printout on my Letter C:  Free Alphabet Worksheets for Kids post.

C is for Cotton Clouds {Alphabet Activities at RoamingRosie.com}

After watching the clouds outdoors, we made our own.

I cut fluffy cloud shapes out of blue construction paper, which my daughter smeared with glue and covered with cotton balls.

I punched a hole at the top so we could tie a string and hang them in our living room.

C is for Constellations {Alphabet Activities at RoamingRosie.com}

This is a great project, and for many ages, too.

The version of constellations you see here was done when my daughter was a toddler.  I made different shapes with glue and she sprinkled the cut out stars over the glue.  The stars were made with a craft punch.

Now that she’s a preschooler, we’ve replicated the project, though a little differently.  She draws the lines with a white or silver crayon on the black construction paper, dotting on glue and paper stars at important points along the path, such as where the lines intersect.

C is for Corn Sensory Bin {Alphabet Activities at RoamingRosie.com}

This corn sensory bin was so cool.  Seriously.  Have you ever been to a corn maze where they had a giant sandbox full of corn kernels that you could play in?

This was like the miniature version of that.  With letter C toys to find.

What I’m trying to say is that it felt really neat.  Corn is a great sensory tool because it has a wonderfully soothing feel as you move your hands through it.

And you can reuse it.  This is just popcorn kernels, and we did pop them after the project was done.

The letter C items that I hid in the corn included a toy cookie, cat, car, a coin, some crayons, candles, and clothespins.

C is for Candy Cane Craft {Alphabet Activities at RoamingRosie.com}

The next few crafts work for both Letter C Day and for Christmas Crafts.

For this one, I had precut some candy cane shapes from red construction paper and some strips of white paper.

My daughter glued the candy canes onto the paper and the candy cane strips on top of them.

C is for Chenille Candy Canes {Alphabet Activities at RoamingRosie.com}

I love using chenille {pipe cleaner} sticks for crafts.  Especially since they’re something you can get at the dollar store.

For this one, we took one white and one red pipe cleaner and twisted them together.  Then, we hooked over one end to make the candy cane shape.

Mine is the one on the left and my daughter’s on the right.

If you make these around Christmastime, they make adorable decorations that can be hung on furniture or the tree.

C is for Circle Christmas Trees {Alphabet Activities at RoamingRosie.com}

With this one, we had some discussions not just about the letter C but also about shapes.

I drew a triangle to represent the shape of a Christmas tree on the paper and we filled it with glue.  My daughter filled the triangle with the large green circles for the tree and topped it the the star.

Then we drizzled glue over the tree and she sprinkled on the tiny circles for ornaments.

I cut out the star by hand and the green circles as well.  If you have a large hole punch you could use that instead.  For the small circle ornaments, I used a single hole punch.

And since it was winter, this decorated our fridge before I transferred it to our Alphabet Activity Binder.

C is for Cars Under Cups {Alphabet Activities at RoamingRosie.com}

This was a little something we did for fun, after discussing how both of the words Car and Cup start with the letter C.

A variation on a Shell Game, I hid two cars under the three cups, moved them around and asked her to find the cars.  Not much of a challenge since the cups are all different, but it was still fun.  There were lots of giggles.

C is for Cinnamon Toast Cs {Alphabet Activities at RoamingRosie.com}

These adorable Cinnamon Toast Cs were made by cutting the letter C out of Cinnamon Toast with a cookie cutter.

I made the toast with regular sandwich bread, buttered the warm toast and sprinkled it with my Cinnamon Sugar Mix.  Then I pressed in the cookie cutter to get letter C shapes.

And I ate all of the “leftovers.”  Of course.  :)

C is for Carrot Cake Cupcakes {Alphabet Activities at RoamingRosie.com}

These were quick because I used a box mix and store bought icing.  I wanted to focus on the other projects and not baking from scratch – we do that enough on other days.

I made mini cupcakes and topped them with some cream cheese icing that I put in a plastic baggie with the corner snipped off.  I squeezed it on top in circles.

Then I mixed some icing with green food coloring and a little more with orange food coloring.

To make the carrot shapes I took the orange colored icing, also in a small plastic baggie with the corner snipped off, and drew a squiggle pattern that was thicker at one end and slightly pointed at the other.  Then I added a little dab of green icing where the “carrot” was thickest.

C is for Chili Con Carne with Cheese, Sour Cream, & Cornbread {Alphabet Activities at RoamingRosie.com}

For dinner we had a mouthful of letter C:  Chili con Carne with cheese, sour cream, and cornbread.

I made my 4 Ingredient Chili and some cornbread baked in muffin tins.

C is for Chocolate Chip Cookies {Alphabet Activities at RoamingRosie.com}

And chocolate chip cookies.  Yum.  How could we possibly have a day celebrating the letter C and not mention chocolate chip cookies??

C is for Cookie, that’s good enough for me…..

Anyway, while baking your favorite recipe of chocolate chip cookies, melt some chocolate chips in a baggie, snip off the corner, and draw some letter Cs onto waxed or parchment paper.  Allow them to set (this only take a few minutes) and when you pull the tray of cookies out of the oven, place the chocolate C on top and press down ever so slightly.  The heat from the cookie will melt the bottom of the C to help it adhere.

And here are some of the supplies I’ve mentioned in this post, including the star punch, popcorn, and cookie cutters (for the Cinnamon Toast).

Craft Star PunchOrganic PopcornCookie Cutters

I’d love for you to share if you’ve done any of these projects with your little ones!

Follow me on Facebook and Pinterest to see my latest posts.

Have fun!

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A Strange Discovery

Homeward Bound Movie Ticket Stubs

I was sorting through some boxes and found a few old wallets of mine.

Most of them I kept to give to my girls to play with.  What little girl doesn’t love a pink wallet with a picture of Mickey and Minnie?

{I’d use it myself if it had more pockets.}

Darn near threw one of the old wallets into the “donate” box without looking through each and every pocket and slot.  On second inspection, I found some cash.

That’s would have made someone’s day at Goodwill.

Anyway, the strangest thing I found, aside from the vintage-looking 90’s bills, was this pair of movie ticket stubs.

Homeward Bound??

And does that say February 27, 1993???

Why in hell had I saved these?  I almost never purposefully save movie stubs, so why these?

Truth be told, Homeward Bound is a good movie.  I think.  I haven’t been able to watch it since I was a kid, but I know it was something everyone loved.  And with the good old fashioned wholesome fun of a ragtag team of two dogs and a cat on a journey across America, it became something that our middle school teachers loved to show during the classes that took place right before a vacation or break.

And, inevitably, try as I might to ignore the movie, I would fail to block it out.  And I would cry.  Profusely.

Silently sobbing and cursing my teachers as I wiped away the snot with rough, brown recycled paper towels.

I would spend the next couple of hours sporting a red, puffy, tear-stained face as I progressed through the school day.

Because it was never shown at the end of the day.  Oh no, only near the beginning, to make absolutely certain that I’d sniffle my way through as many classes as possible.

I came to hate the movie.

So it did surprise me a bit to find those ticket stubs wedged into the slot of one of my old wallets.  What were they doing there?

And WHY did the movie only cost $3.25???

Maybe because it was a “dollar theatre” matinee, but after the shock and the shudder that the movie title always brings to me faded, that was what drew my attention.

If movies were still three bucks, I’d go a heck of a lot more often.

But I still wouldn’t keep the ticket stubs.

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