Day 171 of Isolation: Dinner Roll Recipe

Tonight, I made salisbury steak, but right before I started it, I decided I had a taste for dinner rolls. And since I’ve mastered pizza dough and sourdough bread, I thought maybe I could try making some rolls from scratch.

I found this recipe on the Fleischmann’s Yeast website using Rapid Rise yeast. It only takes thirty minutes to rise so I started prepping it at 3pm (I normally start making dinner around 4pm). By the time I got the dough rising and the salisbury patties made, it was time to start cooking.

The rolls got put in the oven and the meat in the pan around the same time, and everything was pretty much done at the same time.

I forgot to take a picture of just the rolls, but oh my god, were they delicious. We use sweet cream butter which was in the rolls and melted on top giving them a slight sweet taste.

10/10 will make again. The recipe is simple and quick and great for beginners.


Day 143 of Isolation: Hawaiian Style Pork Chops

Today we had pork chops using one of my favorite recipes. I’m not a big pork chop fan, but I love this recipe so much.

You can find the full recipe here:

I didn’t really change it, but I did have to make twice as much marinade. I had a pack of thick-cut boneless pork chops from Costco. There were twelve chops that were at least an inch and a half thick each.

I sprinkled both sides of them with granulated garlic and onion powder then poked them a bit with a fork. I mixed up two batches of marinade in a bowl then poured it into two Ziplock bags (you could mix it directly into the bag) then divided the pork chops between the two bags, seeled and squished them around to make sure the marinade was getting every one. Then I put the in the fridge, flipping and squishing them a couple of times before dinner.

I ended up not grilling them this time. I just didn’t have the energy to light the grill and fuss with it. The bottom vent cover is rusted open so it’s nearly impossible to adjust the temperature/heat. It’s always blazing and flaming up. It would have burn the chops.

Instead, I just put them on a cookie sheet covered in foil and baked them at 400F until they read 165F in the center. I did have my husband dump the liquid from the tray at least once and flipped/brushed them with marinade every ten minutes or so.

They turned out so tender and delicious. Wish I had thought to take a picture.

We served it with brown rice, roasted rosemary potatoes, baked beans, green beans and brussels sprouts (just whatever I had in the house).


Day 126 of Isolation: Salisbury Steak Recipe

I finally did it. I found a salisbury steak recipe that tastes amazing and I don’t screw up.

Since I didn’t really change up the recipe, I’m leaving the link here: The Very Best Salisbury Steak from The Suburban Soapbox

In fact, I almost followed this recipe exactly… I even measured the spices although I had to triple everything since I made over three pounds of meat for our large family. The great thing is the site gives you the options for 1x, 2x and 3x ingredients. No math involved!

I think I tried this recipe once before but it didn’t turn out thanks to my daughter using up all of my Worcestershire sauce without telling me. That is apparently the key to good Salisbury steak. This time I had the Worcestershire which I put in the meat and also sprinkled on the patties as I was browning the then added more to the gravy.

The only changes I really made was with the gravy because last night we had a pot roast. We ate most of the roast, but I had a ton of gravy and broth left over so I saved it knowing my husband wanted Salisbury. I used that to make the gravy so it had some lovely pot roast flavors to it on top of the mushroom and onion of the Salisbury.

All in all, an excellent recipe. I paired it with garlic mashed potatoes and a bunch of veggies (green beans, corn and broccoli). It was a hit with everyone.


Day 106 of Isolation: Beef Stir Fry


So, I actually made this yesterday, and despite my anxiety and sudden food aversion, I managed to eat two bowls with about an hour of rest between them. And, yes, I felt very sleepy afterward.

But I think it was worth it. It turned out pretty good considering I just threw this together on the fly with whatever ingredients I had on hand at the time. I thought I would share, although this is a very rough recipe.

On the Fly Beef Stir Fry

  • 1lb stir fry meat (I used leftover stew meat but could be stir fry cut or even chicken)
  • baby carrots, julienned
  • celery, chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 small zucchini, chopped
  • minced garlic (however much you like)
  • granulated garlic to taste
  • onion powder to taste
  • sesame oil and/or olive oil
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • stir fry sauce (water, soy sauce, brown sugar, ginger, garlic, honey; omit the corn starch)
  • 1 cup extra water
  • frozen corn
  • frozen green beans
  • frozen broccoli
  1. brown meat in large skillet using olive or sesame oil (I used a little of both) while sprinkling with granulated garlic and onion powder
  2. add carrots, onion, celery and zucchini and sautee with a little more oil if needed until veggies are tender, add a bunch of minced garlic
  3. toss with 1/2 cup flour until well coated then pour in stir fry sauce and mix; add extra water if too thick (mine was way too thick)
  4. add frozen veggies and let simmer until veggies are tender, stirring frequently
  5. serve over white rice and garnish with sesame seeds



  • You can use whatever stir fry veggies you have on hand. I really wished I’d had some snow peas, water chestnuts or green onions, but this is what we had on hand.
  • You can also omit whatever veggies you don’t want in the stir fry. Make it just beef and broccoli if you like.
  • I changed the stir fry sauce a bit by omitting the honey (I can’t even stand the smell of it) and adding a little sesame oil and a touch of red pepper flakes and sesame seeds to it.
  • I ended up adding a lot more extra water and a little extra soy sauce because the sauce thickened way up and I needed more to coat the frozen veggies.
  • I also added a touch of Kitchen Bouquet to darken it up since I used a lot of flour.
  • You could get away with using less flour probably, especially if you don’t make as big a batch or use corn starch instead.
  • If you think you put in enough garlic, add some more, lol. I actually sprinkled a little granulated garlic over my second bowl which was perfect.
  • This ended up filling my 14″ cast iron skillet to nearly overflowing. I meant to make it just for me but got enough for the entire family.

Day 98 of Isolation: Pizza Party!

Today is the last day of school for the 2019-2020 year. Finally. I have no idea if my kids turned in even half the work they were supposed to do but Owen got his high school diploma and Nora is heading to 9th grade, and Jack is… well, Jack. I think he learned some stuff. Maybe. He’s on to 5th grade next year.

To celebrate, I decided to flex my new-found knowledge of yeast baking and make homemade pizza dough.

Usually, when we make pizza at home we use these really great flat pitas we get at Costco or refrigerated pizza dough. I’ve never made dough from scratch because it requires yeast.

Well, since I can now make sourdough from scratch, why not pizza dough?

Of course, I’m low on active yeast, and it’s kind of hard to find. But I also had some rapid rise instant yeast that’s due to expire in February. So I looked up a recipe and found this one from Fleischmann’s which, funny enough, is not the brand of yeast I’m using.

I really like the rapid rise yeast, and the recipe was really easy to follow. I made two batches with the second using their garlic-rosemary variation.


I managed to get two full-size pizzas (I guess they were 14″ or so), a few smaller ones, and two small strombolis (because we ran out of cheese, and I didn’t know what else to do with the last of the dough).


That’s the one with the rosemary and basil with a garlic-butter wash on the edges. Did I mention the crusts were stuffed with mozzarella?

Look at how good this looks…


They’re all pepperoni, sausage, onion, and green pepper because that’s all we really had, and I know everyone likes those toppings.

Here’s the thin crust I made for myself with the garlic-rosemary crust:


We only have one pizza pan that is very old and blackened with age. Normally, we use it to bake cookies, lol. I used one of our cookie sheets to make my pizza (the white on top was the tiny bit of mozzarella I had left over–just tossed it on top when it came out of the oven).

Everyone raved about the pizzas, and they were really good, but oh, my god, was I exhausted. I think I started mixing the first batch around 3pm and didn’t get the last pizza out of the oven until 5:30pm. I wasn’t even hungry anymore.

That’s part of the problem with having a big family–one pizza is doable, but it’s not enough to feed everyone, so I’m stuck making extra servings while everyone else is eating just so everyone has enough to fill them up. There were about 5 slices left over plus 3 of my thin crust. And that was without my 18yo son at home (he could have eaten an entire pizza on his own).

I might try them again, but I’m going to have to find more yeast. I only have one packet left of the rapid rise (which I might try with this cinnamon roll recipe I found).


Day 92 of Isolation: We Have Bread!


I did it! I did it!

I managed to make some bread. And man was it a chore. But it didn’t turn out half bad for my first ever bread. I mean first ever. I’ve never made any kind of bread before and started with sourdough. I might be a little crazy.

Here’s the rest of Michelle’s recipe:

To make 2 loaves of sourdough bread you’ll need:
1 cup of “fed” starter
1 1/2 cups warm water
5 cups bread or all purpose flour
2 1/2 TSP salt
Put the starter in your plastic lidded bowl and add 3 cups of flour and all of the water.
Let the dough rest for 3-4 hours at room temperature and then refrigerate overnight.
In the morning, add your remaining 2 cups of flour and knead to a soft dough
Put the lid back on your bowl and put the dough into the oven on “proof”*. Every hour, gently deflate the dough on a floured surface by stretching and folding the sides in over themselves, this adds elasticity and helps to strength the dough. It will double in size in 3-5 hours.
* if your oven does not have a proof setting, just put the dough in a draft free warm area to rise.
Divide the dough in half, shape into circles folding the sides under so the top is smooth, and place them on a parchment lined baking sheet.
Cover with lightly greased plastic wrap and let them rise again, about 2 hours. They will be a little spread out – it’s fine, they will become more upright when they hit the heat of the baking pan.
About a half hour before the end of the first rise, place a rack in the lower third of the oven and place a heavy lidded pot (like LeCreuset) on the rack. Preheat your oven to 475°
Once the oven is heated, take the pot out and remove the lid – it will be VERY HOT (like nearly 500° hot, so be mindful and deliberate).
Remove the plastic wrap from the dough and dust dough lightly with flour. Quickly place the the dough into the pot seam side down.
Cover the pot and return to oven for 25 minutes.
After 25 minutes, remove the lid. The bread may be chestnut brown, if it is, it’s finished. If not, leave the lid off and cook for a few more minutes.
Don’t overcook it. I’ve added 2 pictures, both are fine, one loaf is darker Than the other, but neither are burnt or undercooked. This is your range for brown-ness.
Repeat for loaf #2. No need to reheat the pot between loaves.
Let it cool on a wire rack at room temp and enjoy!

That’s a lot, so here’s what I did. Yesterday, I divided up the starter I had in my bowl, keeping one cup of it and added three cups of flour and 1 1/2 cups of warm water. I stirred it up until it was more dough-like then let it sit for a few hours before putting it in the fridge before I went to bed.

In the morning, I got it back out and tried to add two more cups of flour but, the dough just didn’t want to take anything else in it. I think I needed to let it warm up some. I also checked the recipe in my cookbook (Better Homes & Gardens). It had a whole lot more ingredients than what Michelle listed so I added some baking soda just in case.

I kneaded the dough for a while, but I’ve never done this before so I had no idea what it should look like, and the times my mom baked bread it was in a bread machine.

When I got bored with that, I put it back in the bowl and stuck it in our broken microwave with a pan of hot water to keep it warm.

I’m really not sure if it was warm enough in there or if the dough rose enough. It sure didn’t seem to double in size or anything. I did stretch and knead it every hour or so and replaced the hot water.

After four or so hours, I divided it up and made it into two balls and stuck them back in the microwave on a pan (without the hot water because it wouldn’t fit) for two hours.


Then it was time to bake and cook the pea soup. I don’t have a fancy, heavy pot like she mentions in the recipe, but I do have some heavy-duty Corningware casserole dishes with lids. I’m pretty sure they might have a 400F limit (I know my newer, lighter weight ones do), so I only heated the oven to 450F instead of 475F and hoped for the best.

I heated the dish while I prepped the soup then totally messed the dough up by squishing and playing with it until the top layer broke and it fell apart. Oops. I hurriedly tried to mash back into a ball shape that was smooth and stuck it in the hot dish and into the oven with the lid on as suggested.

I let it bake for about 20 minutes, I think, while the soup cooked then took the lid off for another five to really brown the crust. I immediately dumped it onto a wire rack and stuck the other ball in without playing with it this time.


Meanwhile, no one could resist the yummy looking, fresh-out-of-the-oven bread. It lasted five minutes before I cut into it. The inside was a little doughy still and pretty dense instead of light and full of little holes. I think this is partly because I fucked with it before putting it in which collapsed the bubbles. Lesson learned. It still tasted amazing. Not super sour since the starter is only a couple weeks old, but it was still so good.

The second one came out looking even more amazing and the inside was light and fluffy with a perfectly crunchy crust. It might have been slightly undercooked on the inside, but look at that… It’s beautiful.


The pea soup turned out good as well. I don’t think I need to post a recipe for it. Literally just 1lb of dry split peas, a bunch of ham cubes, half onion (chopped) and about 8 cups of water. Slowly simmer until the peas are mush. The end.

I think I’m hooked on this baking thing. I’m going to try again next weekend, although I might try the recipe in my cookbook to see if it makes a difference. Then again, this one tasted amazing so why change what ain’t broke, you know?


Day 88 of Isolation: Preparing to Bake


So, I’ve finally decided to take the plunge and actually bake some of this bread. I’ve been feeding it for a couple weeks. Okay, I fed it like once, last Thursday, and thankfully, I remembered to put a reminder on my phone or I would have forgotten about it already.

Today is the day!

Or more like today is the day to prepare to eventually bake some bread. According to Michelle Holster on Facebook:

If you will be baking within the next day or so, leave your starter out and keep feeding it each day up to baking day.

You’ll want to take your starter out of the refrigerator and feed it a couple of times before you bake with it. 3 days ahead of baking will be enough time to get a few feedings in and get your starter ready for baking!

This is a long process. In some ways, that’s a blessing because it means I can just kind of meander through without rushing. On the other hand… I can’t just throw together a loaf of sourdough. I have to plan ahead. Which is what I’m doing now.

So, I’ve taken out my starter and let it warm because I found feeding it cold is really hard. I’ll feed it in a bit and then let it sit out for a few days (periodically feeding it as Michelle says). Hopefully, by this weekend, I’ll be ready to bake. I was thinking of pairing it with some pea soup I’ve been meaning to make.


Day 83 of Isolation: Feed Me, Seymour


Well, it’s been one week since I put my sourdough starter in the fridge so now it’s time to feed it.

According to Michelle Holster on Facebook:

Every week, you will want to take it out of the refrigerator, discard about 1/2 of the starter, and add 1 cup flour and 1/2 cup warm water. Let it rise for about 8-12 hours, and then place back into the refrigerator. Your starter can live for a really long time. The older the better. There is one currently being maintained that is over 122 years old!

122 years, huh? I’ll be lucky if this thing makes it a few months without me forgetting about it. Thankfully, I set a reminder on my phone because I did completely forget until it went off.

But, it’s all fed now and doing its bubbling thing on the counter. Will stick it back in the fridge before I go to bed until next week.

The only real problem is going to be finding more flour. I saw a whole bunch at Grocery Outlet the other day, but it’s been pretty rare at other supermarkets.


Day 75 of Isolation: Sourdough Update

It’s been a little over 24 hours since I started the sourdough starter, and it’s been an adventure for sure.

First off, my large mason jar is not large enough so it kept bubbling up to the top and I would mix it to go down. I have no idea if this is what you were supposed to do, but I had little choice in the matter.

Then after dinner, my 14yo informed me that it exploded everywhere. I forgot to take a picture of this–it was quite the mess. This is all that is left of the disaster:


My poor instant pot… so abused.

Anyway, after the mess, I separated the mixture into two large mason jars and left them overnight to see what would happen. At this point, I still hadn’t looked up the recipe and instructions I had saved from the post.

Which, I’ve found out, wouldn’t have been possible because they never got saved. I specifically copied them into a file because I knew it would be next to impossible to find the post and instruction again between everything that gets posted to the half dozen Facebook pages I follow. Sigh.

This morning, it had barely grown at all. I thought maybe I killed it overnight but then remembered I was supposed to feed it again before I put it in the fridge after 48 hours. So, I mixed half cup flour and half cup water and added it to the mixture, covered it and left it to sit again. It grew a little but nothing like yesterday. Hmm.

I then spent about 20 minutes trying to find the post where I originally read the comment then find the comment amongst hundreds. Which I finally did (thankfully) and this time made sure I saved the instructions.

Found out I was supposed to mix 1 cup of water with a half cup of water then put it in the mixture. Oops. Here’s Michelle’s instructions for day two:

Feeding your starter and getting it ready to use later or ready for baking.
Total time: 16-18 hours
Now that you have gotten your yeast starter started, you need to keep it going. With a new starter, I like to feed it at least a second time, (if not a third), before I set it in the refrigerator for later or start baking with it.
No matter what your plan, feed your starter. To do this, take a wooden spoon and stir your starter. It will be more liquidy than you remember. This is normal. Remove a little less than 1/2 of the starter (just eyeball it) and discard.
With the starter in your jar, mix in 1 cup of flour and a little over 1/2 cup of warm water. Mix so it’s combined. It will be doughy but not too dry. Cover with a paper towel secured with a rubber band again, let it rise again overnight at room temperature.
It will become dotted with gas bubbles and soon will be ready to use!

So, yeah… already messed it up. It now looks like this after sitting most of the day on the counter:


I switched it to my other large mason jar that has a wider opening to fit my wooden spoon in. It’s grown some and isn’t discolored so I guess it’s okay? And it now has that slightly sour smell I assume it should have.

I’m going to let it sit out the rest of the day then feed it again before I go to bed then put it in the fridge tomorrow morning.

I only have two small loaf pans so I need to get something better if I want to actually bake bread. And probably more flour since my husband picked up chocolate chips and vanilla so my 14yo can make more cookies.


Day 74 of Isolation: Sourdough Starter

I did it. I broke down and did it.

After all of the posts I read about people making sourdough starter because they suddenly had time on their hands to bake, I broke down and did my own. I had been wanting to try sourdough for years, but it seemed like such a hassle and really hard. Then I thought of it again when we went into lockdown, but flour has been hard to find here so I figured it wasn’t worth the effort if I couldn’t even bake bread since we had no flour.

Last week, I was reading the comments on a Facebook post about some idiot “Karen” complaining about people baking for fun and taking all of her flour and yeast. I didn’t even read the article because the comments were enough to figure out what was going on. The best, though, was someone posting their directions for sourdough starter.

I quickly copied them down to try later and well, later is today. I couldn’t resist after I cleaned up the kitchen. It helped that I knew Grocery Outlet in town had an abundance of flour should I need it (plus we have an unopened 5lb bag and whatever is in the jar on the counter).

Anyway, here are the main directions care of Michelle Holster on Facebook.

1 Cup All Purpose Flour
1 Cup warm water (warm to touch, not hot)
1/2 package active dry yeast (0.125 oz)
Mix above ingredients together in a large mason jar or plastic container* and cover with a paper towel secured with a rubber band. This is necessary to allow the starter to breathe, but it will keep out dust and dirt.
*Always use plastic or glass for your starter and bread making and use a wooden spoon to mix. Metal is reactive and changes the way your starter and bread behaves.
Set it aside at room temperature for 24-48 hours to allow the mixture to ferment. This is where sourdough gets its tangy flavor. You will see the mixture expand and get dotted with gas bubbles. This means it’s working!
Once it “deflates” just leave it go until the end of the 48 hour period. Once finished, it may get a little liquid on top, this is fine, just stir it back into the mix. The smell should be slightly sour, to me, it’s sort of a sour fruity smell.
At no time should there be any color on top. If it has pink or green on top, it’s bad, it sat too long. Throw it away and start over. This typically happens after many days to weeks of being neglected. It’s not typical for a first start.
Once it’s finished its first fermentation, it’s ready to use or to store in the refrigerator.

This… this doesn’t seem so hard. Like I could mix some flour, water, and yeast, couldn’t I?


Guess we’ll find out. Got it all measured out and into the jar. Nothing happening so far. Going to cover it with a paper towel and leave it to see what happens.


Wish us luck.