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Filtering by Category: favorite kitchen things

Favorite Kitchen Things: Jar Key

Patricia Reitz

Favorite Kitchen Things: Jar Key - ButterYum

Favorite Kitchen Things: Jar Key - ButterYum

If you've ever struggled to open a new jar, you need to get one of these nifty tools.  It's called a Jar Key and it releases the manufacturer's vacuum so you can twist the lid off with ease.

 You just place the jar key on top of the jar so the little feet catch on the bottom edge of the lid.

Then you lift up on the handle slightly until you hear the vacuum release.


That's it.  Now you can twist off the lid with hardly any effort at all.

DSC_2358 (2).JPG

The Jar Key is great for opening vacuum seals canning jar lids too!  I absolutely love it and don't know how I ever lived without it.

Note: this tool works on short lids like the one shown - it doesn't work on tall lids like the ones you'd find on a peanut butter jar or a 2-liter soda bottle.

This Year's Top 25 Cookbooks

Patricia Reitz

The Daily Meal has compiled it's list of this year's top 25 cookbooks.  I have several already, and there are quite a few more on the list that I plan to add to my collection.  Honestly, I don't need any more cookbooks, but I do love them, and I know I'm not alone here.  You can get a sneak peek inside most of the books listed by clicking on the corresponding photo.   Okay, here's we go.

#25 - Gluten-Free Baking for the Holidays by Jeanne Sauvage 

#24 - Flavor Exposed by Angelo Sosa

#23 - Slow Fire: The Beginner's Guide to Lip-Smacking Barbecue by Ray "DR. BBQ" Lampe

#22 - Roots by Diane Morgan

#21 - Morocco:  A Culinary Journey with Recipes from the Spice-Scented Markets of Marrakech to the Date-Filled Oasis of Zagora

#20 - SPQR: Modern Italian Food and Wine by Shelley Lindgren, Matthew Accarrino, and Kate Leahy

#19 - Grains Mains: 101 Surprising and Satisfying Whole Grain Recipes for Every Meal of the Day by Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough

#18 - Modern Sauces: More than 150 Recipes for Every Cook, Every Day by Martha Holmberg

#17 - The Country Cooking of Greece by Diane Kochilas

#16 - Japanese Farm Food by Nancy Singelton Hachisu 

#15 - Nick Malgieri's Bread: Over 60 Breads, Rolls, and Cakes plus Delicious Recipes Using them by Nick Malgieri

#14 - The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perleman

#13 - Modernist Cuisine at Home by Nathan Myhrvold and Maxime Bilet

#12 - The Barefoot Contessa Foolproof: Recipes You Can Trust by Ina Garten

#11 - Come In, We're Closed: An Invitation to Staff Meals at the World's Best Restaurants by Christine Carroll and Jody Eddy

#10 - Dirty Candy: A Cookbook by Amanda Cohen, Ryan Dunlavey, and Grady Hendricks 

#9 - Canal House Cooks Every Day by Christpher Hirsheimer and Melissa Hamilton

#8 - Great Meat Book by Bruce Aidells

#7 - Food and Wine: Best of the Best Cookbook Recipes by the Editors of Food and Wine

#6 - The Salt Lick Cookbook: A Story of Land, Family, and Love by Scott Roberts and Jessica Dupuy

#5 - The Homemade Pantry: 101 Foods You Can Stop Buying and Start Making  by Alana Chernila

#4 - Bouchon Bakery by Thomas Kellar and Sebastien Rouxel

#3 - Kicking Cancer in the Kitchen: The Girlfriend's Cookbook and Guide to Using Real Food to Fight Cancer by Annette Ramke and Kendal Scott

#2 - The Food 52 Cookbook, Volume 2: Seasonal Recipes from Our Kitchens to Yours by Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs

#1 - Secrets of the Best Chefs: Recipes, Techniques, and Tricks from America's Greatest Cooks by Adam Roberts

10 Secrets for making Pizzeria Quality Pizza at Home

Patricia Reitz

I know, I know... you can't make pizzeria quality pizzas in your humble home oven, right?

Wrong.  You can!!

Look, no soggy bottom crust here. Oh yeah baby!

You want to make some, don't you? Uh huh, you know you do.  Okay, wipe the drool off your keyboard and pay attention.  I'm going to share some of my pizza making secrets with you.  You'll thank me later. 

Secret #1 - Start by placing a pizza stone or baking steel on the 2nd lowest rack position in your oven and preheat it at 475F for an entire hour. I know that sounds like a long time, but trust me, you won't be disappointed when you bite into that crisp bottom crust.

A note on pizza stones (aka baking stones) - they start off very light in color and darken with use.  The darker they get, the more "seasoned" they become; developing a non-stick patina, like a cast iron pan.  These stones are great for baking bread and cookies too.  I highly recommend one for every kitchen. 

Secret #2 - I take my blob of risen pizza dough (recipe below) and press it into a 12-inch circle on a piece of parchment paper.  This eliminates the need for cornmeal or flour on the bottom of your crust (which I find very icky).


Secret #3 - Use a pizza peel to easily transfer the wet, sticky dough to the searing hot baking stone. To easily remove the crust from the oven, just grab a corner of the parchment and pull off the oven shelf, back onto your peel.


Secret #4 - I "dock" my dough to keep from developing big air bubbles during the baking process. You can use a fork to do this, but this cool tool is fun to use - poking holes all over the portion of the dough that will hold the toppings.

Secret #5 - I prebake the naked crust for 7-10 minutes. Note how the undocked edges rose during baking, while the docked center did not.


Secret #6 - I brush the edges of the crust with olive oil (I love Boyajian Garlic Oil).

Making pizza at home, ButterYum

Making pizza at home, ButterYum

Add your favorite jarred or homemade San Marzano Tomato Sauce and toppings.  You'll add whichever toppings you like, but I'm a purist - plain ole cheese pizza for me. I do, however, have to doctor it a little bit to mimic the nyc pizzeria pies of my childhood (which just so happens to be my next secret).

Secret #7 - I sprinkle a good healthy dose of dried oregano on top of that cheese. Again, trust me, this takes the pizza to an entirely new level. Now back into the 475F oven for another 7-10 minutes.

Secret #8 - Oops, I forgot to get a picture of this step, but when you take your finished pizza out of the oven, brush the edges with a little more olive oil and a light sprinkling of garlic salt. In this particular case, I used garlic flavored olive oil and a sprinkling of Jane's Crazy Mixed Up Salt (awesome stuff!).  Don't worry, the crust will absorb the oil so your fingers won't get too greasy, and it helps to keep the edges from being too dry.

Hubby and the kids are pepperoni pizza fans. If hubby had his way, there would be 2 or 3 times more pepperoni on this pizza.

Secret #9 - A while back I shared a tip about cutting brownies - you remember, use a plastic knife because the brownies won't stick to it?  Same theory applies here - this Oxo Non-Stick Pizza Cutter is designed for non-stick bakeware, but an added bonus is the fact that melted cheese doesn't stick to the hard plastic cutting wheel.  Nothing worse than using a cutter that pulls all the stringy melted cheese off your pizza, so I purchased this cutter the second I saw it at the store. It works perfectly and leaves all that wonderful cheese in place.

Secret #10 (last one) - If you don't have a pizza peel to transfer your pizza to and from the oven, you can use a flat cookie sheet or an upside down sheet pan like the one I used above.  A splatter screen works well too.

I hope you'll give some of my secrets the next time you make homemade pizza. Enjoy!

Links to some of the items used:

ButterYum's Pizza Dough

makes one 12-inch pie
Printable Recipe


  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

  • 1 teaspoon active dry yeast

  • 1/2 teaspoon fine salt

  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon warm water, 110-115F


To Make Dough in a Bread Machine:  

  1. Add the ingredients to your bread machine following the manufacturer's instructions.

  2. Process using the pizza dough cycle.

To Make Dough in a Stand Mixer:  

  1. Combine water, sugar, and yeast; proof yeast mixture for 5 minutes.

  2. Put dry ingredients into mixer fitted with a dough hook; add yeast mixture and olive oil.

  3. Mix on low until ingredients are moistened.

  4. Increase mixer to speed 2 and knead for 5-10 minutes.

To Make Dough in a Food Processor:  

  1. Combine water, sugar, and yeast; proof yeast mixture for 5 minutes.

  2. Put dry ingredients into food processor fitting with either the dough blade or metal chopping blade; add yeast mixture and olive oil.

  3. Process ingredients until a ball of dough forms.

  4. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead for 5-10 minutes.

To Prebake Crust and Prepare Pizza:  

  1. Once the dough is kneaded, place dough in an oiled bowl and allow it to rise until it doubles in size; 30-60 minutes (this is a good time to preheat your oven and pizza stone to 475F).

  2. Place risen dough onto parchment paper and press into a 12-inch circle.

  3. Dock dough with a fork.

  4. Prebake crust for 7-10 minutes.

  5. Brush crust edges with oil; add sauce and toppings.

  6. Return to oven to bake an additional 7-10 minutes.

  7. Remove from oven and brush edges with oil again; lightly sprinkle oiled edges with garlic salt.

Note: I sometimes use garlic oil and salt in place of olive oil and garlic salt (Jane's Crazy Mixed Up Salt is another favorite).  Also, the unbaked dough will stick well to the parchment paper until the prebaking is complete, then you don't need it anymore and you can easily remove the parchment.


Have someone with special dietary needs in mind?  Check out my No-Carb, No Cauliflower, High Protein, Gluten-Free, and Keto-Friendly Pizza Crust!