Friday, January 25, 2013

Pretzels, Chewy Breakfast Bars, Moist Corn Bread, A New Spin on an Old Frittata, Soup Ideas, & A Banana Bread Recommendation

Rolling the dough
Last week, Tori and I tried our hand at pretzel-making. It was fun, and starting the dough in the bread machine made it easy! :o)  
This was Tori's first experience with rolling dough, which might become a new favorite activity. We used her play dough rolling pin, because I don't have one here.

Cut rolled dough into strips- this is the only step Tori didn't do herself

Basted in egg water and salted.

Tori discovered she likes to eat raw bread dough

Salted pretzels, hot out of the oven

I'd share a recipe with you but we used a bread machine. I don't know how well that would work

Chewy Granola Bars

Tori and I eat a lot of breakfast bars. We take them with us anytime we leave the house to stave off hunger between meals. Our favorite bars are made by Nature's Path Organic. Chococonut and Macaroon Crunch. As of late, our income has taken a dive, bringing with it our food budget. We've been missing our breakfast bars AND our on-the-go snacks. So, out of sheer desperation, I looked up several recipes for making chewy granola bars at home. To my surprise, they are fairly easy to make, and I carry most of the ingredients in my cupboards for muffin-making anyway. 
 I chose to combine a few recipes in order to achieve a likeness to our favorite chewy bar made by Nature's Path, and I added a few of my own ingredients for fun- peanut butter 'chips', cocoa, and coconut flakes. But for the most part, I followed one lady's recipe and was happy with the outcome.

 Here, Tori blended the 'dry' ingredients...
 And this is a bowl of the 'wet' ingredients (plus sugar).
 Yes, it was irresistible, so we did not resist tasting it. LOL
 In our home, we buy organic and pure peanut butter (ingredients being only peanuts and water), so when I bake with Jiffy-type peanut butter, it is always a treat for Tori to 'lick the spoon'. This time, I just scooped some out of the jar and handed it to her. LOL

 The recipe calls for tossing the dry with the wet, but I found NO tossing to occur. LOL. It was a paste-like feel on the back of my spoon & it stuck like... um, well, like peanut butter.
The mixture also didn't SPREAD like the recipe suggested it would, but I managed to smear it across all parts of my 9x13 pan.
We also managed to enjoy eating it after it had cooled slightly from baking. All three of us concur: this recipe is a keeper, and we already have ideas for the next flavor!

After every baking session, there needs to be a play session at the table. Tori is making pretzels out of play dough now. :o)

A Frittata!!

I'm in desperate need of using not-so-fresh foods in my meals for this week, so I decide to reinvent the spinach frittata that I usually bake, using wilting kale instead of spinach. I also used whatever cheese was in the refrigerator, which was dregs of shredded taco cheeses and a chunk of mozzarella, but steering clear of the garlic chipotle something-or-other wedge of cheese that Rick insists on stocking our cheese drawer with LOL. I have yet to try my new creation (it's for the weekend), but I'll be sure to come back and edit this post once I do taste it. 
I love this recipe, because there's only one bowl of ingredients. They all get thrown together and poured into a dish. The unfortunate thing about this week's frittata is that I somehow thought I was making a different egg bake and tried to improvise again (recipe calls for just a few eggs and I need a frittata with more servings). I added several more eggs, but didn't adjust the rest of the ingredients. When the timer went off, indicating that the dish was done baking, I noticed that the WHOLE middle was still mostly wet egg consistency. "That's alright," I told myself, "I just need to add some time to the baking to make up for the few extra eggs I added." Twenty more minutes later, the dish finally baked, but not without added help from me! I took the dish out every five minutes and tilted the dish around to bring the wet egg around to the outside of the pan. It worked, but I don't recommend it. After all, I still don't know if it dried out too badly around the edges. I really should have multiplied the whole recipe instead of just the eggs. Duh. 

Crafts With Tori!

Applying cotton wisps to the clouds & pipe cleaners to the cat tails

Painting the leaves instead of gathering dead leaves to glue to them (It was 10 degrees outside)

Pre-class time at gymnastics. Tori and Jillian "kickin it" on the vault mat.

Glitter and glue on the animals. Pain on everything else.

Moist Cornbread

corn meal and flour mixture

creamed corn mixture

butter melting in the iron skillet

creamed corn mixture being added to the corn meal mixture

going into the skillet!

Ready to bake!
I can't believe I didn't take a photo of the finished baked product. It was beautiful- toasty brown on the edges and spongy to the touch! It seems that the family liked it just as much as a boxed corn bread, so we'll be making this again someday. I'll try to remember to take a photo next time!

More Crafts With Tori!!

This was inspired by an elephant made by a friend's five-year-old son, who made an elephant out of construction paper and googly eyes. We liked it so much that we decided to try one too.

a peacock made of pipe cleaners, googly eyes, feathers, and glue

A tiger made of pipe cleaners, poofy balls, googly eyes, a popsicle stick, and glue.

There is a website I found yesterday while looking for glitter craft ideas. None of these crafts were from this site, but I plan to use many of her ideas & will end up posting them here, per adventure any of you have craft-loving kids! 

Other Random Baking Ideas

Moist Banana Bread-
I tried this last week & was pleased with the outcome. The only change I recommend is smashing the bananas as you would typically do. They suggest using sliced bananas, but this didn't allow for consistent banana flavoring throughout the loaf. And my five year old texture-sensitive (lol) daughter didn't like it. The use of sour cream was ingenious, but I might try a vanilla or banana yogurt next time. I reduce the amount of sugar in all recipes, so the added sweetness from yogurt would improve be welcomed!

Summer Pea Soup-
I don't know how I stumbled upon this recipe, but I'm OH so glad I did. Our whole family has enjoyed it four times already! What appeals to me (aside from the absolutely delicious soup itself!) is the ease of pureeing in a blender instead of a food processor! I used petite frozen peas (organic one time and non-organic all other times), which were easy to find and easy to use! Let me also add that I did fore-go the mint. I suppose I would try it in the spring before weather turns too hot for soup, but this month, I was really just craving a clean, fresh pea flavor. No smoky flavor. No other interruptions. Just pea soup. I highly recommend this recipe!

Butternut Squash Soup- I had some puree in the freezer, so when the weather turned nasty (11 degrees one day), I thawed it out and quickly made a soup out of ingredients that I already had at home. I didn't add cinnamon (It's not my gig), and I didn't have orange blossom honey, so I used the raw honey I have on hand. It was delicious, though I typically like my flavors pure (not muddled or mixed with other flavors). Rick enjoyed it when he came in from working in temperatures in the low teens! If I make this one again, I would use half the orange zest that the recipe calls for and maybe add vegetable stock.

I'm thinking of posting my homemade baby food, though it doesn't seem that helpful. Making it at home is pretty simplistic and straight forward. Any thoughts?

Monday, January 14, 2013

Electric Purple Gradient Mani Experiment

What is it about a purple polish that cameras indignantly refuse to capture?  
This manicure looks just like my previous blue post in photos, but in reverse. Fact is, it is very deep, very royal, and electric purple. Since the blue gradient mani lasted only one day before it cracked and fell off in large pieces, I decided to apply a color that's more my style. PURPLE, using a higher grade polish.

Base Coat-I am sold on this brand for a base coat. It creates such a smooth surface for color coats.
My soldiers for this war lol

Both hands: One coat Priti Polish's Etoile Violet

Both hands: two coats

Just experimenting with my camera features, trying to capture the true color, but failing

Left hand: Pure Ice's Cheatin. This photo is the truest capture of the shade of purple!

Left hand: two fingers boast Essie's Set In Stones Glitter top coat
My weaponry for the right hand (& I found an eye makeup applicator)

Right ring finger: Nails inc London's Chelsea Square (dusty glitter) alone

Right ring & middle finger: Nails inc London AND Sephora by OPI's Traffic Stopper Copper

Right index finger: Pure Ice's Cheatin' over Essie Set In Stones

Both hands together for comparison
I didn't include a photo of my right pinky or my left pinky and ring finger. The right pinky is covered in Priti polish with a coat of Sephora OPI's Traffic Stopper Copper, but that brand seems heavy on the polish and light on the glitters, so the effect is low impact. Same on the left hand: Priti Polish with a bit of Pure Ice's Cheatin' & Sephora OPI's Flurry Up. Low impact. Not impressive at all.

But, overall, I am pretty happy with the outcome. *wink*