the baker upstairs: March 2017

3.29.2017

Baked Spaghetti

Yum
This savory and cheesy baked spaghetti is so delicious and so easy to make!

This savory and cheesy baked spaghetti is so delicious and so easy to make!

I don't even know what to tell you about this baked spaghetti. Ridiculously easy? Check. Completely delicious? Check. A huge favorite with the whole family? Check. It's such a simple recipe, and so flavorful too! I made it a few weeks ago, when we were still in the muddled haze of trying to adjust to daylight savings time, and it was the perfect easy dinner for a night when I was tired and everyone was cranky. I loved seeing the smiles on my girls' faces as they dug in!

This recipe would be easy to customize in any number of ways. You could add in your favorite fresh veggies, like zucchini, spinach, and mushrooms. You could make it with alfredo sauce instead of marinara sauce, and swap out the ground turkey for chunks of cooked chicken breast. You could make it in two 8 x 8 dishes, and save half in the freezer for another day. It makes a ton (enough for 3-4 meals for my family), and I'm sure it would freeze well. I think it's going to be a new staple in our family!
Baked Spaghetti

1 pound spaghetti, cooked according to package directions
1 pound ground turkey or ground beef
1 small onion, diced
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 24 ounce jar of spaghetti sauce
16 ounces ricotta cheese
2 eggs
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
4 cups shredded mozzarella, divided

Preheat the oven to 350. Spray a 9 x 13 baking dish with cooking spray and set aside. In a large skillet, cooked the ground meat, onions, and garlic until the meat is browned and the onions are translucent. Add the spaghetti sauce and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat. In a medium bowl, mix together the ricotta, eggs, salt, pepper, parmesan, and 2 cups of mozzarella. Spread half of the spaghetti noodles in the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Spread half of the ricotta mixture over the top of the noodles, followed by half of the meat sauce mixture. Repeat with remaining noodles, ricotta, and meat sauce. Top with remaining mozzarella cheese. Cover and bake 30 minutes, then remove the cover and bake an additional ten minutes.

adapted from The Girl Who Ate Everything
This savory and cheesy baked spaghetti is so delicious and so easy to make!

3.27.2017

15 Adorable Easter Treats and Projects

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These 15 adorable Easter treats and projects are all you need to make your Easter holiday fantastic!

These 15 adorable Easter treats and projects are all you need to make your Easter holiday fantastic!

Easter is such a fun holiday to celebrate! It feels like the kick-off for spring, and I love that everything is bright and sunny and pastel. My girls are always excited to get some new pretty dresses, and to have their hair done in curls. They also love looking for their baskets from the Easter bunny. Every year we do a little scavenger hunt, and they search all through the house for the baskets. It's a fun tradition that our whole family loves! This will be our first Easter in Portland, away from family, and it's dawning on me that I need to step up my game as far as celebrating. I generally just count on my family to make the Easter food and set up an egg hunt for the girls, but this year, it's all on me! With that in mind, I've rounded up this list of 15 adorable Easter treats and projects, sure to make this Easter one to remember. I hope you'll be inspired and find something fun and delicious to make your own Easter a little more special!

Bunny Bait Easter Snack Mix from Yummy Healthy Easy

These 15 adorable Easter treats and projects are all you need to make your Easter holiday fantastic!

Easter Egg Layered Cake from I Heart Naptime

These 15 adorable Easter treats and projects are all you need to make your Easter holiday fantastic!


These 15 adorable Easter treats and projects are all you need to make your Easter holiday fantastic!

Easy Easter Candy Carrots from Ella Claire Inspired

These 15 adorable Easter treats and projects are all you need to make your Easter holiday fantastic!

Simple Easter Treat Cups from Simple As That

These 15 adorable Easter treats and projects are all you need to make your Easter holiday fantastic!

Easter Bunny Rolls from Creations by Kara

These 15 adorable Easter treats and projects are all you need to make your Easter holiday fantastic!


These 15 adorable Easter treats and projects are all you need to make your Easter holiday fantastic!

Easter Egg Countdown from My Love for Words

These 15 adorable Easter treats and projects are all you need to make your Easter holiday fantastic!


These 15 adorable Easter treats and projects are all you need to make your Easter holiday fantastic!

Chocolate Easter Bunny Cake from The Cake Blog

These 15 adorable Easter treats and projects are all you need to make your Easter holiday fantastic!

Easter Carrot Cupcakes from The Baker Upstairs

These 15 adorable Easter treats and projects are all you need to make your Easter holiday fantastic!

Hot Cross Buns from Bakingdom

These 15 adorable Easter treats and projects are all you need to make your Easter holiday fantastic!


These 15 adorable Easter treats and projects are all you need to make your Easter holiday fantastic!


These 15 adorable Easter treats and projects are all you need to make your Easter holiday fantastic!

Layered Peeps Treats from Yellow Bliss Road

These 15 adorable Easter treats and projects are all you need to make your Easter holiday fantastic!

Happy Easter!

3.24.2017

Classic Beef Stroganoff

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This classic beef stroganoff is so savory and filling! It's the perfect easy dinner for a busy night, and one the kids will love!

This classic beef stroganoff is so savory and filling! It's the perfect easy dinner for a busy night, and one the kids will love!

Last year I started a new tradition for my birthday of having an overnight date with my husband and going to see a show, and it was so much fun! We saw Vance Joy in concert at Saltair, and it was amazing. We had a great time together, and it was wonderful to have a kid-free night (which almost never happens around here). This year we continued the tradition and saw Jim Gaffigan in Yakima, Washington. It was a bit of a drive to the concert, and we had a nice little drive listening to our favorite podcasts and eating our favorite road trip snacks. Jim Gaffigan was hilarious, as always, and it was a fun night away. While we were having a great time, our kids got to spend the night with my nephew and his wife, and I think it's possible they had even more fun than we did! My niece is an excellent seamstress, and taught the girls to sew their own skirts (plus some skirts for their American Girl dolls, too!).

When we came to pick them up the next day, the girls were so sad to leave, and told me all about their amazing adventure. My six year old Lizzy, in particular, can't stop telling me how delicious the food was. She told me all about the stroganoff they made for dinner, and how it was "the bestest dinner I've ever had!" I realized that in nearly ten years of motherhood, I've never made stroganoff for dinner! It's something I ate fairly frequently as a child, and loved, but somehow it has just never made it onto our menu. Since Lizzy is now obsessed with stroganoff, I decided it was time to add it to our rotating list of family dinners. This classic beef stroganoff tastes just as good as I remember it as a child, and is so easy to make, too! It's loaded with strips of juicy beef, tender mushrooms, and a creamy, savory sauce that will make you want to lick the plate. I served it on egg noodles, like I remember as a child, but it would also be great on mashed potatoes or rice. It's a delicious and filling dinner that the whole family will love!
Classic Beef Stroganoff

1 1/2 pounds sirloin steak, trimmed and sliced thin
4 tablespoons butter
8 ounces button mushrooms, sliced
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 cups beef broth, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup flour
1 cup sour cream
1 pound egg noodles, prepared according to package directions

Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the mushrooms, onion, and garlic, and cook until the onions are translucent. Remove the vegetables to a plate and set aside. In the same skillet, cook the steak until browned. Add 1 1/2 cups of broth, salt, pepper, and Worcestershire sauce. Bring to a simmer and cook, covered, for 15 minutes. In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining 1/2 cup broth and the flour. Pour the flour mixture into the skillet and stir to combine. Add the mushrooms, onions, and garlic back into the skillet and bring back to a simmer. Remove from heat and stir in the sour cream. Serve hot over cooked egg noodles.

adapted from Betty Crocker
This classic beef stroganoff is so savory and filling! It's the perfect easy dinner for a busy night, and one the kids will love!

3.22.2017

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

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These lemon poppy seed muffins are light and tender, and such a delicious combination of flavors!

These lemon poppy seed muffins are light and tender, and such a delicious combination of flavors!

Is there anyone else out there who is as obsessed with grocery store pick up as I am? There are a few stores in my area that offer it, and it has totally changed my life! I love that I can choose everything I need online, submit my order to the store, drive up at my allotted time, and have everything loaded into the back of my car. For this girl who hates grocery shopping, it is a lifesaver! The only small hiccup I've run across so far is that sometimes it's hard to buy things sight unseen. For example, last week I ordered six lemons, thinking they would be just an average lemon size. When I picked up my order, though, I had a produce bag that was bursting with six gigantic lemons, each about the size of a grapefruit. I was skeptical that they were actually even lemons, since I had never seen any so big, but the store clerk assured me that they were indeed lemons. I had planned to use them to make this amazing lemon meringue pie, but was able to make the whole pie with the juice from just one lemon!

These lemon poppy seed muffins are light and tender, and such a delicious combination of flavors!

Since then, I've been adding lemon to just about everything, trying to use up my giant stash. These lemon poppy seed muffins have the perfect touch of lemon flavor, and are super light and tender. They're perfect for breakfast, lunch boxes, and snacks! My kids both loved them and were thrilled to take them to school for lunch. My favorite way to eat them is to warm them up just a little in the microwave or toaster oven, and then spread honey butter on top. Yum!

These lemon poppy seed muffins are light and tender, and such a delicious combination of flavors!
Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

3/4 cup sugar
zest of one lemon
4 tablespoons butter, softened
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup vanilla greek yogurt
1 1/3 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon poppy seeds

Preheat the oven to 375. Spray a muffin tin with cooking spray or line with paper liners. In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, rub the lemon zest into the sugar until fragrant. Add the butter and beat until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, vanilla, lemon juice, and yogurt, and mix until combined. Add the flour, baking soda, and salt, and mix until just combined. Fold in the poppy seeds. Scoop into prepared muffin tin, filling 2/3 full. Bake 13-16 minutes, or until light golden brown on top.

adapted from Creme de la Crumb
These lemon poppy seed muffins are light and tender, and such a delicious combination of flavors!

3.20.2017

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

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This sweet and delicious chocolate chip banana bread is loaded with chocolate flavor, and super easy to make!

This sweet and delicious chocolate chip banana bread is loaded with chocolate flavor, and super easy to make!

Yes, this is the third time I've posted a variation on this banana bread recipe, and I don't even care. I want to shout from the rooftops how delicious this banana bread is! Everything is even more fantastic when you add chocolate, though, so this variation is pretty much just perfection. The banana bread itself has a rich, buttery taste, and a tender crumb. The chocolate chips scattered throughout the loaf add a ton of flavor, and make it an extra indulgent treat! I had to send most of the loaf to work with my husband, for fear I would eat the whole thing by myself during his night shift. :) I recently invested in some nice bread pans (instead of continuing to use the $3 pans I got for my wedding 14 years ago), and this was the perfect recipe to try them out! My kids said this is the best banana bread they've ever had, and they couldn't get enough of it, so it's definitely one to make again. Yum!
Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 tablespoons milk
3 overripe bananas, mashed
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 325. Grease a 9 x 5 loaf pan and set aside. In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together the sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, vanilla, milk, and mashed bananas, and mix until smooth. Add the flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder, and mix until just combined. Fold in the chocolate chips, and pour into the prepared loaf pan. Bake 60-70 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean.

adapted slightly from Little Red Hen
This sweet and delicious chocolate chip banana bread is loaded with chocolate flavor, and super easy to make!

3.17.2017

Bird's Nest Cookies

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These colorful and delicious bird's nest cookies are perfect for celebrating spring!

These colorful and delicious bird's nest cookies are perfect for celebrating spring!

I am REALLY excited about spring this year. I think it's par for the course for me to be ready for warm weather around mid-February every year, but this year with the crazy weather in Portland and our kids missing ten days of school due to snow, I was ready for winter to be over in January. I'm glad things are finally warming up around here, and I'm excited to experience all the joys of a Portland spring! These bird's nest cookies are a cute and fun way to get ready for spring. They would be a perfect dessert for an Easter celebration, baby shower, or spring brunch, and they're so easy to make!

You start with a delicious, buttery shortbread cookie base, then roll the dough in toasted coconut, indent, and bake. After they’ve cooled, it’s time to add the cute eggs, and your nests are complete! They’re a perfect cookie to make with the kids. They can help with adding ingredients, rolling the dough in the coconut, and adding the cute eggs on top. We made these as a family activity, and the kids loved it!

These colorful and delicious bird's nest cookies are perfect for celebrating spring!
Bird's Nest Cookies

1 1/4 cup shredded coconut
1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 bag M&M’s speckled eggs (I used coconut and highly recommend them)

Preheat the oven to 300. Spread the coconut in a single layer on a baking sheet and toast, shuffling occasionally, until golden brown (about 15-20 minutes). Remove from oven and let cool. Increase the oven temperature to 350. In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the butter, sugar, egg, and vanilla until smooth. Add the flour and salt and mix to form a thick dough. Scoop rounded tablespoon-sized balls of dough and roll in toasted coconut, pressing the coconut into the dough. Place the balls of dough on a lightly greased baking sheet and press down in the center with your finger to make an indent. Bake 11-13 minutes or until lightly golden brown on the bottom. Let cool and top with M&M’s eggs.
These colorful and delicious bird's nest cookies are perfect for celebrating spring!

Originally published on Somewhat Simple

3.14.2017

Lemon Meringue Pie + 21 Delicious Pie Recipes

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This lemon meringue pie is so heavenly and easy to make too! Deliciously tart and flavorful lemon custard topped with clouds of sweet fluffy meringue, for a show-stopping dessert!

This lemon meringue pie is so heavenly and easy to make too! Deliciously tart and flavorful lemon custard topped with clouds of sweet fluffy meringue, for a show-stopping dessert!

Does anyone else celebrate Pie Day? I mean, how can you not? Pie is one of the most delicious foods ever created, so it only makes sense to devote a day to admiring its amazingness. My husband and I have an extra reason to celebrate, since it's our wedding anniversary! I'll admit that in the past, we haven't done such a great job with our anniversary. We rarely buy each other gifts, and there have been years (like last year... I think?) that we have forgotten our anniversary altogether. It's not that we don't love each other, or don't absolutely love being married. We just tend to celebrate the anniversary of our first date and forget the anniversary of our wedding. Well this year, I decided that from now on, we are just going to celebrate with an anniversary pie. Simple, easy, and (hopefully) memorable!

This lemon meringue pie is so heavenly and easy to make too! Deliciously tart and flavorful lemon custard topped with clouds of sweet fluffy meringue, for a show-stopping dessert!

This lemon meringue pie is a great choice for celebrating pie day. It's perfectly tart and lemony, and topped with an amazingly light and fluffy meringue. I tend to be a little scared of baking pies, having had many a pie fail in the past, but this pie was super simple to make and came out perfectly! I still wasn't brave enough to try a homemade crust (baby steps), but I was pretty happy to have such a fantastic result for my homemade pie filling and meringue! 

This lemon meringue pie is so heavenly and easy to make too! Deliciously tart and flavorful lemon custard topped with clouds of sweet fluffy meringue, for a show-stopping dessert!
Lemon Meringue Pie

for the pie:
1 9 inch pie crust, pre-baked and cooled
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/3 cup cornstarch
pinch of salt
4 egg yolks
1 3/4 cups milk
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons lemon zest
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

for the meringue:
6 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a medium saucepan, whisk together the sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Add the egg yolks, milk, lemon juice, and lemon zest, and mix to combine. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently. Boil for one minute. Remove from heat and stir in butter and vanilla. Pour into pie crust and spread evenly.

In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar until foamy. Add the sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, while mixing constantly, until all the sugar has been added. Beat until the egg whites form stiff peaks. Add the vanilla and mix until combined. Spread the meringue over the lemon mixture.

Bake 20-25 minutes, or until the meringue is browned. Remove from oven and cool completely, then refrigerate until ready to serve.

adapted from Plain Chicken
This lemon meringue pie is so heavenly and easy to make too! Deliciously tart and flavorful lemon custard topped with clouds of sweet fluffy meringue, for a show-stopping dessert!

For more delicious pie recipes, check out these amazing posts from some of my talented blogging friends!

21 Delicious Sweet and Savory Pie Recipes

Shepherd's Pie from Ashlee Marie
Chocolate Coconut Cream Pie from Life Made Simple
Strawberry Chocolate Pie from Baking with Blondie
Raspberries and Cream Pie from Real Mom Kitchen
Pineapple Fluff Pie from Yellow Bliss Road
Instant Pot or Crockpot Beef Pot Pie from 365 Days of Slow Cooking
German Chocolate Pie from Creations by Kara
Meat and Potatoes Pie from Foodie with Family
Coconut Custard Pie from Gather for Bread
Pennsylvania Dutch Pies from Little Red Hen
Double Chocolate French Silk Pie from Life Made Simple
Salted Caramel Banana Cream Pie from Baking with Blondie
Apple Hand Pies from Yellow Bliss Road

and be sure to check out some of my favorite pies from The Baker Upstairs:

3.13.2017

Lemon Blueberry Sweet Rolls

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These lemon blueberry sweet rolls are loaded with juicy blueberries and drizzled with an amazing lemon cream cheese glaze. So delicious and easy to make too!

These lemon blueberry sweet rolls are loaded with juicy blueberries and drizzled with an amazing lemon cream cheese glaze. So delicious and easy to make too!

When it comes to sweet rolls, I have to admit that cinnamon rolls are at the bottom of my list. I know they are everyone's beloved treat, but they just don't do it for me. They're always either too dry or too gooey, with too little or too much filling. At best, I can only eat maybe half a cinnamon roll before I'm ready to throw up. When it comes to fruit flavored sweet rolls, though, I am all in! I don't even know what makes the difference, but hand me an orange roll or a raspberry roll, and I am in heaven. These lemon blueberry sweet rolls are some of my favorites!

There’s just something magical about the combination of blueberry and lemon… I love how the flavors play off each other, and they are particularly delicious in these beautiful rolls. The rolls themselves are light, soft, and tender, and I love the juicy blueberries and sweet glaze on top. These sweet rolls are perfect for breakfast or dessert (or both!) and are pretty straightforward and simple to make. They were a huge hit with my whole family and my kids basically just inhaled them. I hope you’ll enjoy them as much as we did!
Lemon Blueberry Sweet Rolls

for the dough:
1 cup warm water
1/3 cup nonfat dry milk
1 tablespoon yeast
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons butter, softened
1 egg yolk
2 1/2 - 2 3/4 cup flour

for the filling:
1 1/2 cups frozen blueberries
zest from one lemon
2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons corn starch

for the glaze:
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
8 tablespoons (4 ounces) butter, softened
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
zest of one lemon
2 teaspoons lemon juice

To make the rolls, in a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, dissolve the dry milk in the warm water. Sprinkle the yeast and a pinch of sugar over the top, and stir to combine. Let sit 5-10 minutes, or until the yeast is bubbling. Add the sugar, salt, butter, egg, and 1 cup of flour, and mix to combine. Add another cup of flour and mix until combined. Add the remaining flour, 1/4 cup at a time, and knead until a soft and smooth dough forms. The dough should be soft and slightly tacky. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.

When the dough has nearly finished rising, toss the blueberries with the lemon zest, sugar, and corn starch. Refrigerate until ready to use. Line a 9 x 13 pan with parchment and spray with cooking spray. When the dough has risen, roll it out into a 12 x 18 rectangle. Sprinkle the blueberry mixture over the dough and roll the dough up tightly into a log. Slice into 12 equal sized pieces and arrange in the prepared baking dish. Let rise for one hour, or until doubled. When the dough is nearly done rising, preheat the oven to 375. Bake 18-20 minutes, or until golden on top. Remove from oven and let cool slightly.

While the rolls are cooling, beat together the cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Add the powdered sugar, vanilla, lemon zest, and lemon juice, and beat until smooth. Spread the glaze over the warm rolls and enjoy!
These lemon blueberry sweet rolls are loaded with juicy blueberries and drizzled with an amazing lemon cream cheese glaze. So delicious and easy to make too!

Originally published on I Heart Naptime

3.10.2017

Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies

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These mint chocolate chip cookies have the perfect touch of mint flavor and are loaded with melty chocolate chips. Perfect for St. Patrick's Day or any time!

These mint chocolate chip cookies have the perfect touch of mint flavor and are loaded with melty chocolate chips. Perfect for St. Patrick's Day or any time!

Because if you can't bust out the green food coloring for St. Patrick's Day, when can you? These mint chocolate chip cookies are a fun new twist on my all-time favorite chocolate chip cookies. They're simple and easy to make, and have the most delicious combination of flavors. Who doesn't love mint and chocolate together? Yum! 

These mint chocolate chip cookies have the perfect touch of mint flavor and are loaded with melty chocolate chips. Perfect for St. Patrick's Day or any time!

I decided to splurge a little and use my favorite Chocolove chocolate chips for these cookies, and it was a good move. They're a lot more expensive than the big bags of Nestle Tollhouse chips I usually buy at Costco, but they melt beautifully and they have such great flavor. They are definitely the best chocolate chips I've ever baked with! I used my genius cookie-shaping method, as always, and The cookies came out perfect as usual. They're just slightly crisp around the edges, and soft and chewy in the middle. They're my favorite when they're still hot from the oven and the chocolate is gooey and melty. These cookies are the perfect treat for celebrating St. Patrick's Day!

These mint chocolate chip cookies have the perfect touch of mint flavor and are loaded with melty chocolate chips. Perfect for St. Patrick's Day or any time!
Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies

12 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg + 1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon mint extract
1/4 teaspoon green gel food coloring
2 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350. In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, mix together the butter, brown sugar, and sugar. Add the egg, egg yolk, vanilla, mint extract, and food coloring, and mix until combined. Add the flour, baking powder, and salt, and mix to form a soft dough. Gently fold in the chocolate chips. Roll the cookie dough into golf ball sized balls. Using your fingers, pinch each ball of dough into two halves. Place one half, rough side down, on the prepared baking sheet, then place the other half, rough side up, on top, to form a double stack. Bake 11-13 minutes, or until the bottoms are lightly golden brown. 
These mint chocolate chip cookies have the perfect touch of mint flavor and are loaded with melty chocolate chips. Perfect for St. Patrick's Day or any time!

3.08.2017

Foolproof Pizza Dough

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This foolproof pizza dough has only five ingredients and turns out perfect every single time! It's ready in less than thirty minutes, and makes for a perfect chewy and crisp crust.

This foolproof pizza dough has only five ingredients and turns out perfect every single time! It's ready in less than thirty minutes, and makes for a perfect chewy and crisp crust.

There's nothing better on a laid-back Friday night than a hot and cheesy homemade pizza! We've been making homemade pizza on Fridays for years now, and my kids look forward to it every week. This pizza dough is so quick and easy to make (you don't even need a mixer!) and it always comes out great. I've shared this recipe with dozens of friends at this point, and once they try it, they're all converted. It really is the best! We usually go pretty simple with our toppings, and make either cheese or pepperoni pizza, but the sky is the limit. Some of my favorite pizzas I've made are this chicken bacon ranch pizza, this chicken and veggie pizza, and this tostada pizza.

The recipe below makes enough dough for one pizza, but lately I've been quadrupling the recipe and freezing the extra dough for later. I've been surprised to find that I actually like the texture of the dough more after it has been frozen. It's pretty fantastic fresh, of course, but it gets a little chewier and crisper after it has been frozen. Either way, it makes a great pizza!
Foolproof Pizza Dough

3/4 cup warm water
1/2 tablespoon yeast
1/2 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt

In a medium bowl, whisk together the water, yeast, and sugar. Let sit five minutes, or until bubbly. Add the flour and salt, and mix until a dough forms. Knead gently, adding more flour as needed, to form a soft dough. Cover and let rest 15 minutes. At this point, you can either proceed with baking the dough immediately (directions below), or refrigerate the dough for up to 24 hours. The dough can also be frozen in a plastic bag (leaving room for the dough to expand) for up to six months*.

To bake the dough, preheat the oven to 500 with a baking stone or overturned cookie sheet inside. Spread the dough out to form a large circle. Top with desired pizza toppings. Place on preheated baking stone or cookie sheet, and bake 8-9 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and the cheese is melted and bubbly.

* To thaw from frozen, place the dough in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight to thaw. Let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before baking.
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