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Friday, January 31, 2014

Cabin Fever! Thanks to Pinterest Mommy might not lose her entire mind…...


(Though I have to say we seem to have had more fun than this Mommy/daughter duo)


I started with one line, then a perpendicular one. She said, "It's an "L"!"   Then it became a triangle.




Lily asked for her own piece of tape. First she wrapped it around her ankle and then tried making it into a bracelet.


Lastly, we made a road. I suggested cars…..but she preferred Princesses.  Such a girly girl.


  


Lastly we made road. She wasn't great at all the 90 degree turns…lol but we still had fun. 
And by using Painter's tape-it'll come up easy and I reused the pieces over and over.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Butternut Squash. The easiest soup you can make!

Butternut Squash Soup is incredibly easy to make. (And so yummy! If you make this for your friends they will think you so accomplished! But really it's just a Beginner's soup. Yay for getting difficult points on such an easy recipe!!!


Chop up 1/2 and onion. Add this a chunk of butter to your big sauce pot. I also added a bit of chopped Parsley. (optional)



I cut the squash in half at the fastest part. Then, I cut each section in 1/2 again. Scoop out the seeds and then you can either use a pairing knife to peel the outer skin or a good peeler. I prefer the peeler but couldn't find ours so I used the knife instead. The peeler wastes less.


Cut up the squash into chunks.  Brown the butter and onion while you are cutting up the squash.




Once translucent, add squash to the pot with 1 and 1/2 of these boxes of Chicken Broth (or enough to cover the squash by about an inch. I add salt, pepper, and Dill.  You could add any number of spices-even Curry if you like.
Bring the soup to a light boil and then let it simmer for 20 to 30 minutes until the squash is fork tender.


This immersion blender is brilliant!  You just stick it in the pot and make sure to blend up every little bit. Voila! Soup!


I love to add a little bit of Quinoa to my soup. It adds some protein and a nice little crunch. You could add Avocado cut up, or sour cream or even Chia Seeds! It's an easy to do soup and so perfect for Fall and on into the cold winter months. (And CHEAP too!)


Yum-O!  Enjoy!

Kneading bread the EASY way. Is it worth it?

Howver


I wouldn't really consider this a hack, but I have found that I really hate kneading bread. Most recipes call for 10 minutes of this.  Who else has started at the clock endlessly thinking "10 minutes HAS to be up by now!" only to find it's been 3 minutes. Ugh.

So! New bakers-just use your mixer with the right attachment. EASY!

HOWEVER…..This is the loaf of bread I made with the dough done the easy way. Not very pretty…..I was worried but good GOLLY is it delicious. The crust is just the right bit of crispy and the inside light and fluffly with the tiniest bit of sweetness. I guess if I'm baking just for my family I don't mind a little Franken-bread!


Cooking my way through "Kids Cooking"




As cooks go, I am as CLUELESS as they come. I am 44 years old (as of Jan. 30th, 2014…) and I JUST started learn how to cook. I ESPECIALLY had not experience with baking!
Then, another Mom blog gifted me with a fun cookbook designed for kids.

http://www.amazon.com/Williams-Sonoma-Baking

I began with oatmeal raisin cookies with my daughter Lily, 2 and my stepson Calvin, then 14.  We had a grand time baking cookies and even more fun eating them! We made extra and I was able to turn those into a house warming gift.

I was hooked!  So for all the other clueless cooks out there, the first time bakers and new Mommies (what happens when you get married and have children-suddenly your desire to cook for your family emerges….I don't know why but I'm loving it!)

So check back as I work my way throught this awesome and easy cookbook. Past posts feature Banana Bread which is also from this book. In addition my background photo is the amazing Chocolate Chip Cookie Cake from this cookbook.


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Is freezing Pesto Basil worth it?


Last summer I decided to grow Basil. For the first time ever, I tried making Basil Pesto and it was just about the best thing I had tasted in years. I couldn't wait to make more! So, I planted two Basil plants in my square foot garden. I nurtured them and took great care in cutting leaves in such a way that it would propegate and make more and more leaves. (Thank You Pinterest)

Here's how to propagate your Basil so it grows into a wonderfully huge, bushy plant. Save this tip for summer!
Basil-pruning-tutorial

Just a little shout out for my sweetie-we did research and then he made me an amazing Square Foot garden similar to this website.  (more posts on this later)
Square Foot Garden "I can totally make that"

I enjoyed lots of Pesto all summer long. When Fall arrived I had two large plants left and I couldn't bear to let the leaves go to waste. The big question was-is it worth it to freeze pesto? I'm here to tell you that on this FRIGID day in Jan with -0 temperatures and snow IT WAS WORTH IT! I made a big batch of pesto and then put it into an ice cube tray. Once frozen, I put the cubes into Mason jars and popped them into the freezer. Now, when I feel like having a little pasta, I pop a cube into a small dish and in an hour or so it has thawed perfectly and I mix it into freshly boiled pasta. SO worth it. And every bit reminds me of last summer and my cheerful little garden.

UPDATE: Today is April 3rd and yesterday I just finished the LAST cube of Basil Pesto that I had frozen last summer. It was still delicious, flavorful and WORTH the effort. This summer, every time I make pesto I'm going to make extra and freeze it. I will freeze every last bit!!  It was completely worth it. So nice to have something of summer to enjoy all chilly winter long.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Rolling pins. What is the best?


Rolling Pins!
What's the best? What's your favorite?


I like to make homemade Chicken Noodle Soup. After making it several times with pasta, I decided to make my own egg noodles. However, realized we didn't have a rolling pin! 
So my neighbor Mania' was only too happy to loan me hers. I loved it!  
It's so studry and the handles are stationary. I got used to it's heft right away.


I had to get my own. I thought about buying a brand new one but decided to look at the local Goodwill and see if they had something I like. I found this skinnier with with the rolling action. I was hoping for a solid piece one but I found this beauty for $1.99.  Can't beat it!


What is YOUR favorite kind of rolling pin?  Why? Feel free to let me know! Add pictures!


Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Banana Bread!



Soft Pretzels

Living in the Midwest-we experienced some pretty nasty cold weather and frigid temperatures this winter. One on particularly cold morning, my neice and I decided to make soft pretzels. What could be cozier than the flaky, warmth of a nice soft pretzel?


So we got out my favorite baking cookbook "Kids Baking" by William-Sonoma. The instructions are easy to follow and in the end you and your kids feel like a Rock Star!


This is my niece, Alex helping my daughter Lily roll out pretzel dough. The recipe calls for several steps. First you make the dough, and then you knead for 10 minutes. (The first time we did this we did the kneading by hand. That's a looooonnnnnggggg 10 minutes! The second time we used this recipe i got smarter and used my mixer and the bread making hook) After the bread is kneaded and sits for a while, THEN you get to do the fun part of rolling out the pretzels and twisting their happy little middles.


After you twisted all your pretzels, then you have to boil them in water for 30 seconds each side. This gives it the chewiness. (or maybe the brown outer crust? I'm just making a guess here....) Finally you can bake your doughy friends. Don't be surprised if your family is lined up anxiously awaiting their arrival to the cooling rack!

Here's the recipe:
http://www.williams-sonoma.com/recipe/pretzels.html

Monday, January 13, 2014

A New Turn

I was never one for cooking. My Mom is a watercolor Artist SandyKinnamon.com. Growing up, Mom would rather be in her basement studio painting. Still, feeding us was part of the bargain of being a stay at home Mom. I thought, "When I grow up, I'm going to be a good cook! I'll use spices and bake and make lots of tasty, delictable dishes.

However, as I grew up I realized I had no IDEA how to follow this pipe dream. I never baked with my Mom, never learned at her knee how to braise a chicken. (braise? what is that??) In addition,I didn't get married till I was 40 years old. Before this I lived on my own for 20 years. I was never much for cooking. Looking back, I can't really say what I ate. I don't honestly know. I didn't eat out much so I must have prepared SOMETHING. My idea of cooking was "putting things together in a bowl."

 I even attended a Pampered Chef party where the Representative refused to sell me one of their "stone" cook surfaces. She quizzed me, "Do you make casseroles?" no. "Do you bake chicken?" no. "Do you make cakes?" no. "Homemade pizzas?" no. "Pasta?" no. Exasperated, she looked at me (last single female on the planet, I was sure.....) and asked, "What DO you eat?" I thought for a few minutes and replied, "Hard boiled eggs and cereal......" She laughed and informed me that I did NOT need a stone in any form. Perhaps I would like a Deviled Egg carrier?? PAMPERED-CHEF-KITCHEN-SET-STONEWARE-CAKE-PAN-COOKIE-SHEET-DEVILED-EGG-TRAY-/161194149557?_trksid=p2054897.l4276 (Which yes I bought and still trot out at every single family get together. I'm the official Kinnamon Deviled Eggs maker.)

 As life goes on, I have been learning to make those dreams come true. Baby steps, fits and starts, experimentation and try try try again accompany me in the kitchen each day. After I got married and became a Mom, I had an urge to take care of my family. I guess it was many years later than most women, but hey I did EVERYTHING later. I wanted to COOK. Now is the time to make my childhood dream of cooking begin!