Thursday, March 26, 2009

Disaster

Ok, I've been sharing LOTS AND LOTS of success stories. Here's a disaster one for you:

The other night, I roasted a chicken for supper. Smelled a little weird, but not exactly "off" when I got it out but I was leary of it. I should have tossed it and not worried about it, but roasted the chicken in my usual way (1 tsp each of rosemary, sage, marjoram, and salt in the cavity with an onion and then another batch of the spices rubbed into the top and roasted in the stonebaking dishes I have until fall apart tender...) So, I pull the thing out of the oven and 1) it doesn't look done. Ugh. and 2) still smells weird. I cut into it and it's still a bit bloody. Lovely. Kids are sitting at the table waiting....Tim starts giving me a hard time about my inability to cook chicken and I lose it. EIGHT YEARS ago, I had a hard time with chicken, ONCE, and I am never going to live it down, but pulling that half cooked, bloody, stinky bird from the oven to his comments was more than I could handle. So, pick a plan B....Tim made reptile logs as appetizers (celery sticks with peanut butter, raisins and sunflower seeds) and I whipped up a white, alfredo-ish sauce and tossed in some leftover chicken from the night or two before. It went great with the broccoli and buttered noodles that were planned to be our dinner. ARGH! So, supper was a disaser, but some quick thinking and leftovers saved the day!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Cupcakes!

Ever since Rugby and Riley were really little, they have gotten cupcakes and muffins confused. So, they started calling them Muff-cakes. Sounds kinda dirty to me, but they don't know the slang yet so I think I'm safe. Anyway, tomorrow (Friday) is Riley's turn to bring snack for school. He asked for muff-cakes. NO PROBLEM....except I gave my cookbook with my normal cake recipe in it away at Christmas (No, I don't want it back, Mom...but I may have you e-mail me the recipe later!) So, I went to my trusted friend, All Recipes and found a new favorite! The batter is divine and I think the cupcakes will be, too. They're still in the oven, so I'll have to report back later with the results!

Chocolate Cupcakes
makes 24

In a large bowl, mix and set aside:
2 cups flour
3/8 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp baking powder
1 cup plus 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1/8 tsp salt

In another bowl:
Cream 2 1/4 cups sugar
1/4 cup plus 1 tsp butter

Add 3 eggs, one at a time, beating well between each egg. Then stir in 1 tsp vanilla.

To this mixture, alternately add the flour mixture with 1 1/2 cups milk. Bake at 350 for 15-17 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

**EDIT: The kids LOVED the cupcakes. I used a good, homemade buttercream frosting with vanilla extract instead of the normal almond that I used, tinted them light, light blue and used bright colored sugars on the top. I piped the frosting on with a star tip, just in circles and sprinkled with the sugars. Riley's teacher said the kids all asked Riley for the recipe. LOL! Kindergartners want my recipe. I think that's hilarious!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

"Maple" Syrup

Last night was one of those nights. You know the ones I am talking about....nothing came together right....The weather was nice so I was outside playing with the kids when I should have been making supper, we ran out of syrup, I made too much egg wash for the stuffed french toast, the list goes on and on.....BUT! The kids had a great time burning energy in the sunshine and warmth of spring, so it really wasn't too bad....except that I didn't have any syrup for the stuffed french toast. And I didn't realize that until the first six pieces were already cooked, NOW WHAT DO I DO?? I make my DARLING husband look up a recipe online. He tried to yell it to me as I was cooking and getting kids cups and all other things that comes with making dinner and it just didn't work. But, he wrote it down (so simple!!) and then I couldn't find the maple flavoring. Ugh. He managed to find it, right there in the lazy susan next to the other extracts, but my frazzled eyes could not see it. So, anyway, I quickly threw together a double batch (I hope we like it!) and we're off and running. That's right, Mom, my kids actually got WARM syrup last night! lol!! But, I don't think that I'm going to be buying syrup anymore. This stuff was really good and totally easy to make....heck, I did it in the middle of stuffing, dipping and frying the french toast, so it couldn't have been hard, right?! Plus, I love that it doesn't have HFCS. So, for your enjoyment, here's the syrup recipe. Enjoy!

Homemade "Maple" Syrup

2 cups sugar
1 cup water

Boil until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and stir in 1/2 tsp maple extract.

That's it!! Easy!! A double batch is just a tiny bit too much for the normal syrup container we use, but with the 5 boys I feed, we used what didn't fit and still had plenty of leftovers, so those went in the fridge.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

BAKED Granola

Years ago, I was watching Martha Stewart and there were two dudes on there that owned a little bakery in Brooklyn called BAKED. I can't remember anymore what they were making, but I remember that it looked so good! But, like many things, it was in one ear and out the other. Fast forward to two weeks ago, one of the blogs that I read mentioned this cookbook that she read called BAKED: New Frontiers In Baking....and it was the same two dudes with the bakery in Brooklyn! So, I checked the online catalog for the library and they have it! I ordered it and got it and as we speak, I have granola baking. No HFCS here, folks, just lots of yummy goodness! I had a bit of a hard time finding hazelnuts, but the local food co-op/health food store had them...they are organic, so I guess that's a good thing, but not used to paying organic prices for things. The little bag was about $3 and there's about 1 cup in it. At least that's enough for 3 batches of granola! My house smells awesome with it baking!! Here's the recipe, I'll let you know how it is after it cools and I can add the raisins. I can't wait to try it in a fruit and yogurt parfait!!

Easy Homemade Granola

2 cups rolled oats
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
3 tbsp + 1 tsp vegetable oil
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla
1/3 cup whole almonds
1/3 cup whole hazelnuts
1/3 cup golden raisins (I used regular because I had them)
1/3 cup dried cherries (I forgot to buy them, so didn't use)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment. (thanks for sending that home, mom!!!)

In a large bowl, mix the oats with the cinnamon and salt.

In a small bowl, mix the honey, vanilla, brown sugar, and oil. Whisk until well combined. Pour over the oats mixture and USE YOUR HANDS to mix it up. Grab it in handfuls, make a fist. Repeat until well mixed.

Pour this on your baking sheet. Spread evenly, but leave some clumps. Bake for 10 minutes. Use a metal spatula to flip the granola, sprinkle with the almonds.

Bake another 5 minutes. Flip again and sprinkle with hazelnuts.

Bake another 10 minutes. Allow to cool completely before sprinkling with raisins and cherries. Use your hands to transfer to an airtight container. This will keep for a week. Enjoy!



**Post cooling edit: THIS IS AWESOME!! I love hazelnuts and they fit perfectly in this granola! I am having it on my strawberry yogurt this mornng. TJ loves it, too. It's EASY and totally worth the time!! Try it out!!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Kelly's Potatoes

Here's a couple conversations with my boys a couple weeks ago:

On Saturday:
Me: Riley, what should we have for lunch today?
Riley: KELLY'S POTATOES!!
Me: Um, ok, I'll have to see if I can find the recipe she used, k?
Riley: Yea, just make um!
(I did manage to find the recipe, Riley apparently loved them!)
On Monday: (while I was menu planning)
Me: What should we have for dinners this week?
Rugby: Meat and potatoes with corn.
Me: Ok, can do, how about we do that Tuesday?
Rugby: Ok
Me: Riley, you want to pick a night?
Riley: Kelly's potatoes!!
Me: You liked them, huh? Alrighty! We'll do them Wednesday.
Riley: NO! Mom, it's Taco Wednesday. (I promised the kids tacos every Wednesday until wrestling season is over)
Me: OH! I forgot, Thursday then.
Riley: Thanks, Mom!


So, if they're that good, I GOTTA post the recipe!

8 potatoes, peeled and sliced
3 cups milk
4 tbsp flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (yes, I use it all when I make these)
1 cup chopped onion
chopped ham (optional)
Shredded cheddar cheese

Grease a 9x13 pan. In a single layer, spread out four potatoes worth of slices. Add the ham if you are adding it.


In a saucepan, bring to a boil: milk, flour, salt, garlic powder, & cayenne. Stir until thickened. Add the onion.
Pour 1 1/2 cups of this mixture evenly over the potatoes. Add another layer of potatoes over this and spread the remaining 1 1/2 cups of sauce over the potatoes.

Cover and bake at 350 for an hour. Remove cover and sprinkle generously with cheese and place back in the oven to melt the cheese. Enjoy!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

I don't think this is normal...

Do you have this many measuring cups?

(That's 7 sets and 3 individual ones)

Do you store your caramels, chocolate chips, coconut, powdered sugar, baking chocolate, mint chips, etc in a rubbermaid tub to keep them handy?



I almost always have 3 bags of chocolate chips, a bag of coconut, and a bag of powdered sugar in my tub. Usually there's more stuff in there. Like right now....there are 4 bags of chocolate chips (2 milk and 2 semi-sweet), 2 boxes of baking chocolate squares (1 semi-sweet and 1 bittersweet), 2 1/2 pounds of dipping chocolate, 2 partials and a full bag of powdered sugar, a full and a partial bag of coconut, a bag of mint chips, a partial bag of caramel chips, a large bags of caramels (the kind you have to unwrap), a partial bag of toffee chips, 2 bags of white and milk chocolate swirl chips, some craft sticks for making mini caramel apples, craft sticks for making candy, some mini cupcake wrappers, and some fat sanding sugars.

So it makes me curious, how do you store your baking goodies? My brown sugar and oatmeal each have their own storage containers that are stored in my lazy susan with a small rubbermaid tub filled with sugars and sprinkles, etc. The shortening and spices are in there, too. I have a 5"x5" rubbermaid-ish storage box for all my food coloring, too. It would be nice to have all that stuff together somewhere, but my kitchen is soooooooo small and I wouldn't be able to do half of what I do in there without my work table.

So, where do you store your goodies? Any great tips or suggestions for me?!