Monday, February 27, 2012

Modern Baker: Lemon Poppy Seed Drops

It's another Modern Baker cookie! 

These little drop cookies are very simple yet require a few ingredients you may not have immediately on hand like poppy seeds, slivered almonds, and lemon zest. The basic cookie base is basic flour, eggs, sugar, butter, baking powder, salt, and vanilla.

Slivered almonds are incorporated into the batter and then each teaspoon drop full is rolled into almonds to finish.
I had a little helper help me roll and press the cookies.
The cookies were quite good, although very simple. I love poppy seeds and loved them in the cookie however the lemon flavor wasn't strong enough for me. I think next time I'll add a little of the juice from the lemon I zest. For others who like a simple, almost plain cookie these are quite good!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

My New Kitchen

 My new kitchen!
I'm still getting used to everything. On moving day my mom, stepmom, and mother-in-law unpacked my kitchen for me. It was a little hard not to do it myself but I was needed elsewhere and I knew with three moms (and cooks) in the kitchen things would find themselves into good spots and they sure did! I know I'll probably do an overhaul (or two) of the kitchen as I learn how I use it in the coming years but by the end of moving day I had a fully functioning kitchen- what a relief!!!

 My first ever gas range.

So far I'm enjoying the gas. Things cook (or more accurately, pans heat up) so much faster!!!

My wall mount oven. 
It's the original and so cute!

I was a little unsure about the oven when we were in the contract process. All I could remember was that it was the original and small, although very well taken care of. We wondered for a bit if it was a "retro" oven. The inside looks like it had never been used!! However, the rest of the house had so many pluses that one little oven issue didn't seem like a big deal, especially since I know a very good cabinet maker (my dad) who could help when and if we needed to retrofit the kitchen for a modern oven. The oven is smaller than a regular oven but my cookie sheets fit in it (length-wise) and my baking stone *just* fits. I've cooked in it a few things and so far it works great. I feel quite like a 1950s housewife when cooking in it. One major improvement of modern ovens that I miss in this one- a light. Never realized how much I used my oven light until I opened this one to inspect my brownies in utter darkness.

 Love those old knobs.
One knob is the temperature set and the other is a timer.

Push to bake.

My garage stove & oven.
Doesn't everyone have a second stove in their garage? Well in my family it's becoming quite the thing to have. It all started when my stepmom put in a new stove a number of years ago. For some reason they didn't have the old one taken away and they ended up procrastinating on getting rid it themselves. My stepmom's new stove is a glass top and you're not supposed to can on glass tops. Around canning season it occurred to her she could can in the garage on her old stove. A few months later they were touting how great having a second stove/oven was, especially for canning smelly things (like tuna) and cooking smelly things (like gumbo). It's come in handy at holiday time too as a warming oven while the turkey is cooking in the house.

My mom recently got a free stove for her garage and about a week before we moved in my dad snagged this (for free) from his neighbor who was installing a new stove. A downdraft stove with side grill. Pretty fancy for a garage stove! We've yet to use it but I do hope to get into canning and I like the idea of having another oven available since my kitchen oven is small.

View out kitchen window.
While house hunting, one of my musts was a kitchen window that overlooked the yard so I could watch the kids and cook. We love our backyard!! And see that white picket fenced area on the left. That's the garden. Can't wait to get planting this spring!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

What's For Dinner?

My new menu board in my kitchen.

Love, love, love!!!

Thank you Pinterest!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Modern Baker: Melting Moments

Are you ready for a little cloud of goodness that just melts in your mouth?

These cookies from the Modern Baker cookbook live up to their name. They just melt in your mouth.

The ingredients are interesting. The only sugar is powdered sugar and there is quite a bit of cornstarch and baking powder in these cookies. I imagine these three ingredients are key to the pillowy feel they have in your mouth.

Don't worry, they aren't flavorless clouds. The orange extract and zest give them a subtle flavor that makes you want to brew some tea (even if you're not a tea drinker like myself) and have a some friends over to help you eat the cookies.

I'm so glad I tried these, I almost skipped them.

Hear, that other Modern Bakers? Give them a try!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

BBA #40: White Bread

The fortieth bread of the Bread Baker's Apprentice Challenge is white bread.

White bread does get a bad rap. Everyone is all about whole grains right now and yet I think most can agree that there is nothing quite like a delicious piece of white bread. White bread also goes by the name milk dough because milk is the liquid used in the making process as opposed to most other breads that use water. The milk, in combination with the butter, egg, and sugar is what gives the bread that great flavor. The crumb is soft and airy and the crust crunchy and yet soft as well.

As I was eating this bread I kept asking myself what it reminded me of and it finally came to me- good old fashioned buttermilk biscuits. The kind that you want to just eat the whole pan of and save your dinner for another day.

This bread is a one day bread and thus far too easy to make! I know I'll be making this one again and next time I'll do dinner rolls!

40 breads down. 3 to go. Wow!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Hearts, Octopus, and Palm Trees (Bentos and Food Fun)

 Cupid Bento:
Heart hot dog with arrow
Heart strawberries
Ketchup in heart bowl
Bell pepper strips

Octopus Bento:
Hot dog octopus on spiral macaroni and cheese
Heart cucumbers and radish
Olives on pick
Grapes in bowl with heart pick

 Valentine's French Toast

Snack time palm trees!
Kiwi, Banana, Oranges
So fun and cute!!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Seven Valentine Wreaths and Crafts!

I'm getting crafty in 2012!!! 
Check out my latest crafts for Valentine's Day!!!
I love wreaths!
I'm a little obsessed with them and Pinterest is my go to wreath inspiration provider!
A felt heart wreath. Love this wreath!!

 Here it is in process.

Pink Feather Boa Wreath

 Ribbon Wreath

 Mailboxes for the girls.
Can't wait for them to see them Valentine's Day morning!

Valentine's Hairbows.

Charlotte's Valentine's for preschool!
So cute and so easy!

Yarn Hearts!
(Yarn + cornstarch glue and bake in oven.)

Friday, February 10, 2012

Heart Chocolate Cherry Cupcakes

Have I mentioned how much I love Pinterest? Well, I do. And thanks to Pinterest I was inspired to make these adorable cupcakes just in time for Valentine's Day! Check out the originator Glorious Treats.

I also made a huge (albeit obvious) revelation making these cupcakes. I was making a boxed cake mix (someday I'll get back to from-scratch cakes) and it occurred to me that I did not need 24 cupcakes. I only needed 12. Well, why not freeze half the batter! Yep, obvious and yet a revelation! And, as fate would have it the batter wasn't even in the freezer 24 hours. A good friend and her baby were suffering from an ear infection and pink eye. We made up a little cake (much like these cupcakes) and delivered it.
My favorite thing about these cupcakes (aside from the cuteness) is the maraschino cherry frosting. It was so delicious!
The cupcakes might look complicated, but they're quite easy. This pic was taken during our assembly.

Maraschino Cherry Frosting
1/2 cup of butter
2 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup finely chopped maraschino cherries
2-3 drops red food coloring

Beat the butter. Add 1 cup of powdered sugar and beat well. Add the remaining cup of powered sugar and then the maraschino cherries and food coloring.

Valentine's Day is right around the corner!!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Heart Cinnamon Rolls

A delicious cinnamon roll in the shape of a heart! What fun for Valentine's Day!! My girls and I made these on a rainy afternoon. They alternated between dancing around in their princess dresses and changing into every pair of pajamas they had. Then we all sat down and enjoyed a sweet treat!
Happy Valentine's Day!

Heart Cinnamon Rolls
I used my Grandma's Sticky Bun recipe for the dough. After the dough rose I rolled it out on the counter and added the filling.

For the filling I used:
2 Tbs butter
1/4 cup sugar
3 Tbs cinnamon.

I spread the butter on the rolled out dough and then sprinkled the cinnamon sugar over the dough.

To make the heart:
Roll each long side inwards toward the middle. Once both sides meet, cut 1 inch rolls. Place each roll in an 8x8 pan and pinch the bottom to create the bottom of the heart.

Bake at 350 for 25 minutes.

1 Tbs butter, melted
2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
3-4 Tbs milk

1. Mix together. Spread over warm cinnamon rolls. A thick icing consistency works nicely as it will melt slightly once it's on the warm rolls but won't melt completely.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Valentine's Dipped Pretzels

The girls and I dipped and decorated pretzels this afternoon in honor of it being one week to Valentine's Day! It was a ton of fun. The girls loved it!! The two year old was quite generous with the sprinkles too and in the end they lingered long after the pretzels were put away to lick the sprinkles off the waxed paper. Yep, totally my kids!
Aren't those pretzels cute!
We used candy melts. I heated them in the microwave in a small bowl until they were melted. The girls then dipped and sprinkled away.
The only sad part of this project was that after I ate one of the yummy dipped pretzels I could no longer deny to myself that those "yogurt pretzels" I get from the store from time to time are in any way healthy. These pretzels tasted almost exactly like the yogurt pretzels my kids beg for, and up until know I've let myself believe that "yogurt" word means something. Yogurt pretzels = Candy pretzels.

Happy One Week to Valentine's Day!

Friday, February 3, 2012

Recent Bentos

A few bento lunches from January.... I'm really enjoying bento-ing!!!
Rolled turkey on a pick
bowtie and pea pasta salad with a cute bento fork
blueberries (right out of the freezer like my girls like)

Puzzle pieces ham and cheese sandwiches
Carrot, red pepper, and yellow squash stick salad
with French dressing for dipping in heart cups
and gorgonzola cheese in round cups
heart marshmallow

Peanut butter and honey sushi roll sandwich
Half a cutie orange with heart pick
Frozen peas (another favorite here)
Heart peep
Yogurt smoothie

Red Pasta with Parmesan cheese, carrots, and red peppers
Heart hard boiled egg
Grapes on heart pick
Heart peep

I Heart You Lunch:
Half a heart turkey and cheese sandwich
Cucumber (in heart cut outs) and red peppers (top section of pepper so it look like half hearts)
Maraschino cherries in butterfly bowl
Yogurt pretzels
A heart gummy
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