Mamma Mia…Let’s make Pizza

Homemade pizza can be daunting. The dough. The sauce. The time.

I have come up with the perfect pizza recipe. Everyone loves it. My mother in law even ask me to make it!

It is time consuming but it’s not difficult. The results are so worth the effort. I do recommend first making this on a day that you have most of the afternoon. After that you can swing right thru this recipe in no time.

Here’s what you’ll need


1 cup warm water (warm enough to activate the yeast but not hot enough to kill it)

1/4 tsp sugar

1 package rapid rise yeast

2 3/4 cup of all purpose flour (may need up to a 1/2 cup more for dusting) 

1 tsp salt

1 1/2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil


28 oz. whole tomatoes or in season, 2 lb. peeled plum Italian tomatoes

2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

3/4 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp salt

1/8 tsp ground black pepper


Here is where you can branch out all your own. Most times I will do your standard “supreme” type pizza with mozzarella and parmesean cause that’s what my brood likes. Other times I will branch out and use steak, fresh basil and mozzarella. The kids often get a cheese pizza all their own. Top it with whatever makes your dress fly up.

For todays pizza I am using:

1 red pepper

1 sweet onion

baby portabella mushrooms


Italian sausage

fresh mozzarella cheese

parmesan cheese

dried Italian seasoning


First order of business is to turn on some music. Cooking with music is always a good time. For even more fun, open a bottle of wine.

Next, let’s start the dough. We need to proof the yeast.

Let’s get a nice warm cup of water…not to hot, not too cold. If it’s too hot for your hand, turn it down a little.

Add your package of yeast and the 1/4 tsp sugar. Stir to mix and set your kitchen timer for 10 minutes. It will look like this when you start.

Walk away.

Go to your stand mixer, with your dough hook attached (or get a big bowl and get your hands ready) and add your flour and salt.

After 10 minutes, let’s check our yeast mixture. It should be nice and foamy like this.

If not, throw it out and start over. It could be a number of things…you got a bad batch of yeast…your water was too cold or too hot…doesn’t matter. Try again.

If it is all nice and yeasty, pour it in your flour mixture along with the olive oil and let the magic begin.  Mix the dough until it all comes together and attaches to the hook and is smooth. This will only take a second. Don’t over mix.

 Remove from bowl onto floured surface and knead four or five times.

Place in a large bowl and pour some olive oil on top. Roll the dough around to make sure it’s covered.

You need to place it somewhere to rise, somewhere draft free and warm. I place mine in the microwave. Some people use the oven or just set on a  countertop. For me, the microwave has worked out the best.

Let it rise until doubled in size, about 40 minutes. Punch the dough down, knead again a couple of times and place back to rise again for about 30 minutes or until your ready to bake your pie.

Sauce Time!

First decide if you want a thicker or a thinner sauce. I prefer a thicker sauce so I drain my tomatoes. If you like it thinner, leave the tomatoes undrained. In a stock pot or dutch oven, heat your olive oil on medium heat. Once warm, add your tomatoes one at a time while crushing them in your hand to break them up.

 Be prepared to have tomato juice squirt you in the eye or on your shirt. 

Next comes the salt, pepper and oregano. Smells so yummy!

Turn heat down to low and simmer at least 40 minutes…the longer the better.

Half way thru I will take an old fashioned potato masher and break up some of the tomatoes to thicken the sauce.

Let’s start preparing our ingredients.

First I am going to brown the Italian sausage. Love it. Once it’s brown I will start eating it right out of the pan.

Slice some peppers and onions.

Break out the baby portobellos. Heaven.

Once the sausage is done, remove the meat and some of the grease….but leave a little to saute the veggies.

So naughty….so unhealthy…so GOOD!

Cook the peppers and onions first until the onions start to caramelize. Add mushrooms towards the end so they don’t overcook.

Now it’s time to put it all together!!

Preheat your oven to 500 degrees.

I cook my pizza on stoneware, specifically, The Pampered Chef Stoneware Bar Pan.

I love this stoneware. I love it so much, I have 3 of them and I also give them to my friends for Christmas. LOVE IT!

You can use any type of stoneware, baking pan or pizza pan of your choice. It’s no biggie.

Rico couldn’t resist throwing some dough.

Place it in your pan and add some sauce. Ad some parmesan cheese to make it even more sinful!

Next we’ll add our pepperoni, the pepper, onion and mushroom mix, sausage and top it off with our freshly grated mozzarella.

Add a little dried Italian seasoning on top of the mozzarella and grate some more parmesan just because you can.

It’s a free country people. Grate as much cheese as you want!!!

Holy Ritz Cracker.

You can not believe how good this is gonna be in only 10 minutes!!!


6 Comments so far

Snow Daze

We are anticipating the arrival of the biggest snow storm we’ve had in 30 years.

Hootervillians are excited and nervous and buying milk and bread at break neck speed. Schools have already shut down to avoid transportation problems later in the day. Sleds and inner tubes are being readied. Boots, gloves and hats are being located.

Mothers are getting medicated and drunk.

When I was in first grade we had a major snow storm which closed the school systems for a month. Yes, a MONTH.

I spent the whole month playing in the snow with my feet wrapped in three pair of socks, plastic bread bags (to help keep the snow out), boots and five layers of clothes. We built snowmen, had snow ball fights, sledded and ran in and out of the house in wet clothes fifty times a day.

After a few weeks, the school system started mailing assignments to everyone at home to keep from getting so behind in the school year.

My brother and I played, yelled, fought and ate everything in the house…including all the bread and milk.

My poor mother not only had to feed us ten times a day, dry our snow clothes countless times but then had to homeschool us.

It was soon after I think my mom secretly had a tubal.

Today is first day of school being out for snow.

As God as my witness, if I am home with these kids a month I will need much more than a tubal.

 I will need a lobotomy.

To celebrate/mourn the impending snow storm, I’m sharing with you a tradition from my mom.


1 gallon fresh “clean” snow-this means no yellow/brown snow

2 tsp vanilla

1 pinch salt

1 cup sugar

3/4 half and half or whipping cream

Mix all ingredients well and place into freezer until firm.

7 Comments so far

Crack is Whack

This is your child on eggs.

This is your child on eggs and crack.

Any questions?

4 Comments so far

Because I have a dream and it includes gumbo

(The following post includes a look into my trouble psyche. There will be proof that I suffer from delusions of granduer, boredom and love of all things southern. Thank you ahead of time for not calling the authorities as you surely will gather I am not sane enough to care for my children.)

Tonight I recieved this message in my email…

Hi, dejoniconley.

Southern Living (livehealthyblog) is now following your tweets on Twitter.

Lawd, have mercy.

I got the vapors.

Where’s a brown paper bag when you need one?

I had to place the back of my hand on my forehead and swoon.

Does anyone hand out brown paper bags anymore????

Southern Living is the epitome of all that is well and good in the southern world. The southern woman’s bible and best friend. The holy grail.

(Insert pipe organ music)

I have read Southern Living since I was knee high to a grasshopper. It’s still a staple in my house and my kids love looking at all the recipes.

Suddenly my mind was filled with dreams of being showcased in Southern Living. I would be famous and adored and worshipped by every man, woman and child south of the Mason-Dixon line.

(Insert bluegrass music)

I also had a sudden urge to tease my hair really big.

 I told my husband he better have sex with me now so he could brag to everyone abouting sleeping with someone famous. He laughed so hard he fell off the bed.


Seeing as I’ve already been featured as one cover girl, I didn’t see Southern Living as that much of a stretch.

Anyway, a girl can dream.

In the bizarre instance that Southern Living ever checks me out, I am including my recipe for Seafood Gumbo. The only reason I’m giving it out is that soon you will be reading my recipes in the magazine and I won’t have to include it in my impending cookbook.

(Again, insert pipe organ music)

This recipe seems difficult but it’s not. A large number of ingredients are required and I recommend getting everything ready before you start. If you live in a rural area as I do, it’s not always easy to find fresh herbs. You can substitute dried but be sure to cut the measurements down to a 1/3.

Seafood Gumbo

Roux- 1/2 cup flour

            1/2 cup oil

Soup- 1/2 cup chopped onions

           1/4 cup chopped green onion

           1/2 Tbsp salt

           1 can whole tomatoes

          1 Tbsp minced shallots

          1/2 lb diced grouper or sea bass

          1/2-1 tsp hot pepper sauce

          1 Tbsp fresh basil 

          1 tsp fresh oregano

          1 tsp fresh thyme

          2 tsp Creole seasoning (more to taste for your preference)

          1/2 lb fresh peeled shrimp

          1/2 lb crab meat

          4 cups cooked, warm rice

          1/4 cup chopped celery

          1/4 cup chopped red peppers

         1/8 tsp black pepper

         2 Tbsp minced garlic

         2 qts chicken stock

         1 tsp Worchestshire sauce

         6 bay leaves

         1 lb Andouille sausage

First, you need to make the roux. Take a medium size cast iron skillet and heat oil on high until almost smoking. This is essential. Get it hot. Add flour and whisk continuously until it achieves a dark, mahogany color. This will take anywhere from 6 to 12 minutes depending on temperature.

Once desired color develops, add onions, celery and red/green peppers. Saute 1 minute. Add salt and pepper, tomatoes, garlic and shallots. Saute 4 minutes. Add stock, fish, Worchestershire sauce, hot pepper sauce, bay leaves, basil, oregano and thyme.

Bring to a boil and cook on high heat for 8 minutes. Stir occasionally. Reduce heat to medium and add Creole seasoning. After a few minutes, reduce heat to low and simmer at least 15 minutes.

Turn heat back to high adding shrimp, crab and Andouille sausage. Cook for 5 minutes.

Lower heat and simmer until ready to serve over warm rice.




12 Comments so far

The meat department

Cow Days 2009 043 e

The grocery store.


More like “Let’s drive mom freaking nuts” for an hour.

I had to take them with me today. Them, being the two Tasmanian she-devils I carried in my belly. It was a battle of epic proportions in which I would’ve won, except my grocery store doesn’t have a liquor aisle.


I had to get food as we were down to a can of Veg-All, strawberry jelly and a pack of hot dogs. Even the Food Network site can’t even come up with a recipe for that…don’t ask me how I know, it’s just the cold hard facts.

My first mistake, besides taking the children, was to not have a list. Second mistake was not bringing Valium. Third, letting the heathens talk me into using that ginormous grocery cart with the car on front. Never a good idea.

So, we’re shopping and buying crap that we don’t need and I’m letting them by with a little of it just to hurry along the shopping trip. Bread, check. Diet Cokes, check. Chips, check. Brownies, check. La-da-da-la-da.

And then we steer that beast of a cart to the meat department and I know it’s coming. It’s EVERY FREAKING TIME. All hell breaks loose, crap hits the fan and Ella falls out of the car cart smack dab on the floor and has some type of emo-seizure conniption.

For some unknown cosmic reason, my 2 year old has a complete emotional breakdown every time we round the corner into the meat department. EVERY SINGLE TIME PEOPLE.

I don’t know if she is just overstimulated by the site of THAT much bologna or what, but she goes absolutely ape shit and starts whining and screaming, “BA-WON-EY…I WANT IT MOMMA….PEPPA-NONI’S…MOMMA, MOMMA.”  She won’t get up…and she’s getting louder and louder….and her sister is waving a industrial size package of Fischer’s in her face just egging it on.  I’m sweating and doing that one eye sweep around to see who all is witnessing this momentous moment of motherhood as I point the finger, cuss under my breath and pray the security camera’s aren’t rolling on me as I swat her bottom.

As I was finally leaving the store  a elderly woman came up to me and said, “You know, it gets better when they move out.”

Apparently she is senile.

14 Comments so far

A lethal combination

Every now and then, Rico has to put on a swanky suit and head to the big city for an important bid’ness meeting. Sometimes I’ll tag along and he’ll drop me off at the mall where I’ll proceed to help out the nation’s economic slump.More often than not, I stay home and slave away with household chores, referee the children or just lay out at the pool….cause that’s my job.

I have to admit that when he tarries into the big city without me, I’m insanely jealous.  I love going to the big city. It’s such a different world than Hooterville. The shopping…the restaurants…bookstores. I love the hustle and bustle of the big city.

Big Daddy Rico knows I get a little melancholy when he goes away and he always tries to cheer me up with a gift when he comes home. It can be something as simple as a box of Krispy Kreme doughnuts (ahhh…heaven!!!) or a book I’ve been wanting to read.

He’s sooooo thoughtful.

But every now and then, he REALLY out does himself…bringing home a lethal combination no matter which way you look at it….



11 Comments so far

Life changes and Blackberry Bounce


Lately my posts have been infrequent. My mother had back surgery 5 weeks ago and has suffered a mysterious complication that has also affected three other women who had neurosurgery the same day at the same hospital. No one knows what exactly is wrong with my mother but she has suffered greatly these past weeks and I have been busy helping her as much as I can.

Also, as some you may know, I suffer from Crohn’s Disease and Sjogrens Syndrome and have taken a leave from work since the first of May. I had hoped to be back and at ‘em by now but that is not the case. I have had to resign from my job due to my illness. It has been a huge decision for me as I have always worked. Since the age of 14, I have known nothing else. My new role as a “housewife and stay at home” mother has been a huge adjustment for me emotionally. I’ve always prided myself on being an independent working women and then suddenly, I’m not. I know things happen for a reason and it will be fine but I’m scared of my new role. The plus side is that I have gotten to spend some quality time with my girls this summer and we have both enjoyed that immensely.

I will get back writing more as I feel myself coming out of this lull. I appreciate all who have emailed,wondering where I’ve been and if things are alright.

My friend Katie invited us to her parents farm for a cookout over the 4th of July. It was there that they shared with me the greatest summertime drink I’ve had in a long time. I thought it only fitting that I share the love with all of you…


2 pounds blackberries (you may substitute lemons, raspberries, cherries, etc. If using lemons, use zest only)

1 quart clear grain alcohol, such as vodka or rum

6 cups of purified water

2 1/2 cups cane or granulated sugar

Place blackberries and liquor in a tightly sealed jar or bottle large enough to accommodate at least a quart of liquid.

Place container in a cool, dar and dry place for at least 3 to 5 days. Shake the jar at least twice a day. If using lemons, the zest will turn white when flavoring is done. Strain the fruit from the liquid through a fine sieve or coffee filter; discard the fruit and set aside flavored liquor.

Place 6 cups of purified water in a saucepan over low heat, and add sugar. Heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolves and syrup is clear.

Cool syrup to room temperature and mix with liquor. Strain the sweetened liquor through several changes of coffee filters, and store in tightly sealed bottles in the refrigerator. Chill and enjoy. Makes about 2 1/2 quarts.

14 Comments so far

Revitalization of the Square

Several months ago, Rico and I, along with Farm Chick and SAM purchased an old vacant building on our town square. Like a lot of small towns, businesses have slowly been dying out to strip malls and trendy store fronts along new roads. Long gone are the days of spending a leisurely afternoon on the town square going from store to store, ending the day with a treat from the local Corner Drug Store ice cream fountain. Those were the days….

We purchased this building on blind faith. We had no idea what we were going to do with it. Ideas came and went. Most were interesting but few would pay for the building itself and all the repairs that needed to be done. Luckily, we met a wonderful group of people who were already in the restaurant business in an adjoining county that were interested in expanding.

A deal was struck, handshakes were made and the work began. Lots of work.

Rico and SAM did an amazing job. I can’t begin to explain the work that these guys have put into this project while still maintaining full time jobs and other projects. I am so proud of them.

I am also thankful of the kindness of family and friends who have supported us. From helping out with the kids, helping out at the building, or to just stopping by to see how things were going.

Tonight we had a private dinner at the restaurant before the grand opening to celebrate with family and friends. Miguel and Roy did a fabulous job. The food was delicious. The service was fantastic. The atmosphere was invigorating.

Tonight I am grateful for opportunity, family, good friends and lots of great Mexican food.


9 Comments so far

The Sheik of Hooterville


Fifteen months ago, I made a rash decision. Leave it to the advertising world to make me fall in love with Land Rover, leave it to the financial wizards to make leasing affordable.

Leasing the Rover was a wise tax move, as it is a “business” vehicle….BWAHAHAHA!!!!

Seriously, important bid’ness goes on in that vehicle seeing as I am not only the brains of this operation but also the beauty. Gawd, help us all.

So fifteen months ago, I went to the dealership and they schmoozed me. It was all “You are so fabulous SFM and your hawtness would only be complemented with this glorious vehicle…just think of the complimentary oil changes…your childless trips to the posh city of Brentwood…the courtesy sheik pimp mobile we will furnish you while your vehicle is here…the dining and shopping for the day trip her while we service your fabulous ride….would you like a glass  of wine while you ponder that ?”

So’s today I head to the big city all deck out in my pirate flip flops, cause that’s how I roll when I go big time, and upon arrival to said dealership for my scheduled oil change I was told, “I’m sorry, Ma”am, we don’t have any courtesy vehicles.”

There was no “Your Hawtness” or “Miss Fabulous SFM How the Hell You Been?”

I politely say,Excuse me, but I scheduled my oil change a month ago…and I was told I would have a courtesy vehicle and in the event one wasn’t available, you would rent a car (AGHAST…a rental) for me to spend my fabulous childless day and by damn, I want my car and I want it now.”

So Birkenstock Granola boy says, “Ma’am, I’m really sorry, we are out of loaners and we don’t do rentals anymore.”

Me, “Not even for sheiks?”

“Cause you know I gots like 2 quarts of oil in the back hatch there… still in the container and some left over sand in the back floor board…you put a red and white tablecloth on my head and I’m the freaking sheik of Hooterville…so’s go get my friggin sheik pimp mobile!”

Granola boy picks up the phone I’m convinced to call the police but instead the manager…

So’s I explain to the manager that “I have not had breakfast, nor lunch and my blood sugar must be  low…thus the jibberish about being the redneck sheik and I need food bad ’cause I’m so hungry I think I got the rickets so could somebody give me a ride to Chili’s…oh, and I forgot to tell you I’m packing heat in the vehicle…don’t be alarmed the clip ain’t in it…all sheiks carry heat.”

When he finally picks his mouth up off the floor he says, “Ma’am, I will try to find you a ride…but it may be 20 to 30 minutes…you may want to walk…it’s not that far.”

I have literally scared the bejesus out of these people and now have to walk in tony Brentwood in my redneck pirate flip flops across 6 lanes of traffic filled with sheik pimp rides and Mercedes to get some friggin food…and since I’m by myself and driving I can’t even let off some steam with a margarita, I had to settle with the house wine of the south…sweet tea.

71 Comments so far

The perfect ending to science class

For those of you who read this blog regularly, you may wonder from time to time if there may be some embellishment, seeing as my life is something out of a bad redneck sitcom.

Believe it or not, it’s true. The whole reason I started blogging is because crazy stuff happens to me all the time. 

Case in point:

I came home from work yesterday and got ready to prepare dinner because I’m all Martha Stewart in a trashy wife beater, cut off Levi’s, and flip-flop sort of way.

I made the executive decision to serve chili in the main dining room.

So, to prepare this gourmet feast, I must defrost the hamburger from the freezer. When I opened the freezer door I discovered this…

Wonder Nut (A.K.A. Ella Bella Bo Bella) has yet to understand the basic principles of science that a liquid (in this case, a can of Diet Coke) freezes into a solid at 32 degrees and thus exploded and made a huge mess in the inside of my freezer.

However, there was a light at the end of the tunnel.

A bright, luminous beacon of light to make all my worries dissipate into happy thoughts…

because I had prepared for this moment….

and had put this in the freezer two nights before….


7 Comments so far