Monday, April 27, 2015

April Daring Bakers - Focaccia

Whenever the first of the month comes, I get so excited to see what the Daring Baker challenge will be.  However, I also wonder if it will be something that I can make gluten free.  The yeast breads are really difficult to convert, at least in my opinion.  So, when I first saw this past month's challenge, I didn't think it would be great to convert.  However, one of the options was unyeasted. For the month of April Rachael of pizzarossa and Sawsan of Chef in Disguise took us on a trip to Italy. They challenged us to try our hands at making focaccia from scratch. 

So, this past Saturday, Kate and I had a baking project.  She helped measure the flour and stir...then left the rest to me.  I was happy to have extra dough and actually ended up needing it! I thought I could use parchment paper to roll the dough on;however, it just stuck.  So I had to throw that portion away and use my "extra" to roll out the top dough.  I decided to make Focaccia di Recco.  As I was making it, Kate came up and said "Oooo, pizza!" 
It was close but not quite.  I think David was excited to have a different bread.  He seemed to enjoy it.  I did end up adding some extra liquid as gluten free flour soaks up liquids more than regular wheat flour.  Also, I added sea salt and rosemary to the top of the focaccia to add a little flavor.  It really needs more than a "pinch" of salt for the dough.  All in all, this was a good focaccia.  I would have loved to do one of the yeasted versions, and still may try, but this was a good, quick option that easily translated to gluten free.

Recipe 4: Focaccia di Recco

Servings: 16 pieces
Preparation time: 90 minutes (including resting)
Baking time: 6 minutes
 
Notes:
If you can’t get Stracchino (Crescenza), you can use another young, melty cheese – I have used fresh mozzarella with good results.
This recipe will make more dough than you need if you roll it as thinly as is traditionally done, but you can freeze the excess, well wrapped in a ziploc bag, for several months.
 
Ingredients
3¾ cups (900 ml) (17-2/3 oz) (500 gm) AP gluten free flour mix
pinch course sea salt, plus extra for topping
45ml (3 tablespoons) extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for oiling and topping
1¼ cups (300 ml) water
500 gm (17-2/3 oz) mozzarella cheese
Directions:
 
In a large bowl, whisk together flour and salt and form a well in the middle. Add cold water and 3 tablespoons (45 ml) of olive oil. Start mixing the dough with a fork, incorporating the flour little by little.

Once the dough has come together, start kneading it with your hands. Knead the dough for 8 to 10 minutes, until smooth. When the dough is ready, wrap it well with plastic wrap, being sure to expel all the air so your dough doesn’t dry out, and let it rest for an hour at room temperature.

Preheat oven to very hot 480°F/250°C/gas mark 9.
Divide the dough into two equal parts and roll each piece out on a floured surface with a floured rolling pin, trying to keep them as round and as thin as possible. I rolled these ones a little thick, because we find it easier to handle when it’s more sturdy, but traditionally it should be almost transparent.

Grease a medium sized round pizza tray (not the type with holes in it, or you will have a very messy oven) or baking dish with olive oil. Place one layer of dough on the bottom of the dish. Add the cheese in pieces using your hands.  Cover the cheese with the second sheet of dough. Use a knife or a pair of kitchen shears to remove any excess dough from around the edges of the pan. Bake in the centre of a preheated very hot oven for 6 - 8 minutes, until golden. When the focaccia is done, remove it from the oven and let cool enough to be handled.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

June Reunion

I did cook more things in June, but I'm not sure of the recipes!  That's what happens when you get almost a year behind in blogging.  Oh, well!  At the end of June, we went to TX for my family reunion. 
It is a lot of fun and is getting more fun because all of my cousins have kids who are about the same age, so everyone has fun playing together.  I am so glad that Kate has cousins to play with. 

We enjoyed just hanging out together in the little cabins.  The "resort" had a necklace craft time Saturday morning, which the kids enjoyed. 
That afternoon, my aunts and cousins (the uncles only sort of participated!) had a baby shower for us.  It was the first one and was fun! 
We were blessed with lots of great and needed items.  David got a diaper changing tool belt. 
They even got a fun purse for Kate.  I think this cat had several different names before we got home! 
Later we went swimming before a cookout that night.  Sunday morning, we gathered one more time before leaving...and the cousins played on the golf carts some more. 
It was a good weekend, which we look forward to again this year!

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Caramel Chocolate Bars

Y'all, I realized today that I am nearing a whole year behind on posting.  Guess that's what having a five year old, full time job, new house, husband, new baby, church activities, and trying to stay active will do to you.  Ha! 
One random weekend in June, David decided to take on a baking project with Kate.  I think by midway through this is how he felt...

They had a lot of fun, though; and the result was SO good!  It turned out to be a really good recipe for cooking with a preschooler.  Kate enjoyed unwrapping the caramels. 
You could even use it as a counting/math lesson but having them count out the correct number or asking "How many more?" 
They can also help by stirring while the caramel melts (with adult supervision, of course!).

I really love a good, ooey gooey dessert and this definitely qualifies! 
I guess you could even claim that they would help milk supply for a breastfeeding mom with the oats...anything for an excuse to eat dessert, right?!  :-)  Oh, and don't forget to practice your whistling!



Caramel and Chocolate from Averie Cooks

Ingredients:

3/4 cups butter, melted
1 1/2 cups whole rolled oats
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla extract + 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup chocolate chips
35 caramel squares (or 2 cups caramel sauce)
2/3 cup half-and-half or cream

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350F and line an 8 x 8-inch baking pan with aluminum foil, allowing for overhang (do not make this recipe unless you line your pan with foil) and spray the foil down very well with cooking spray. In a large microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter. To the melted butter add the oats, brown sugar, baking soda, one teaspoon vanilla, and stir to combine. Pour just over half the oat-butter mixture (about 60%, eyeball it) into the bottom of the prepared baking pan, spread it evenly with a spatula, and bake for 9-10 minutes. The mixture will bubble up and foam considerably while baking. Watch it closely and the sides will show a bit of browning at about 9-10 minutes. Remove pan from oven and let it rest and cool for 3 minutes, and then sprinkle the chocolate chips over the top in an even layer.

While the mixture is baking, unwrap the caramels and place them in a medium-sized saucepan that's been sprayed with cooking spray. Add the cream to the caramels and melt over medium-high heat, stirring nearly continuously to prevent scorching or boiling. It may take 5 minutes for caramels to completely melt. After mixture has melted, is smooth and combined, turn off the heat and add one teaspoon of vanilla, using caution because the vanilla will likely bubble up a bit, and stir to incorporate.

Pour the melted creamy caramel mixture over the top of the oat mixture that has been topped with chocolate chips. It will be very soupy, this is fine. Take the remaining half (40%) of the oat-butter mixture and sprinkle it as evenly as possible over the top, using a spatula to gently spread the oats within the "caramel soup". Place pan on top of a cookie sheet as a precaution for spill-over and bake for 14-16 minutes more, or until sides of the mixture are beginning to brown (Look closely in order to discern "browning edges" from the overall brown color of the caramel mixture when it's baking; they're very similar but distinct enough to differentiate). Remove pan from the oven and allow it to rest and completely cool on the countertop before attempting to slice the bars (at least two hours) or you can expedite the process by placing the pan in the freezer or refrigerator until sufficiently cool enough to slice (but not frozen).

Enjoy!

Friday, April 10, 2015

Caleb - Six months

(Post written on March 27th - took two weeks to get pictures and videos together...and there are lots!)
SIX MONTHS!  That's a whole half a year, folks.  What a joy filled and blessed half year it has been.  I have experienced so many different feelings and depth of love, it is amazing.  This little boy is so happy. 
He smiles all the time, unless he's being serious or is sleepy.  He's been rolling from his back to his tummy for about 3 weeks.  I had a serious conversation with him one day that he MUST roll over before he was six months old. 
This pediatrician mommy just NEEDED him to do that.  He obeyed and rolled over a week later. 
video
Of course, it took me three days before I actually saw it in person.
The same week he rolled over, he made the move from his bassinet to his crib.  It was actually pretty easy but I still miss that little man some nights. (I may not should have said that because he's been back in our room due to a cold that has him waking up too frequently to walk across the house.) 
I will say that I haven't really slept any better.  He had about a week where he started waking up 2-3 times a night instead of his typical 1 time.  I'm hoping growth spurt.

In addition to rolling over, he has started to really enjoy his jumper.  He will just lounge back and play with the three toy "stations" within his reach. 
He's almost to the point of being able to use it as a jumper.  It sits REALLY high for some reason.  When he's in his Bumbo, he sits up really tall and straight for a couple of minutes, then he will find something on the floor that is really interesting, lean over, and he can't quite seem to get that big head of his up.  He also wants to sit straight up when he's sitting in the Boppy.
He is talking up a storm.  David and I are afraid that we are going to have TWO talkers in the house pretty soon.  He loves to just lie in his crib and talk and talk and talk to his mobile friends.  The other day, he actually said Mama!  I'm convinced and no one will convince me otherwise!
video

He is really eating well...and still only breastmilk!!!  We've reached goal number 3 for me...now to make it a year!  He usually eats 6-7 times a day.  He has gotten on a much more predictable schedule of three bottles at school and will go 3-4 hours between feeds.
We tried to feed him some rice cereal the other day and he didn't seem to like it very much.  I've tried bananas since then, which seemed to have a better flavor but he just doesn't quite have the motion of eating down pat yet.

We went to the doctor today, and he has gained really good weight.  He now weighs 16 pounds 4 oz (26%ile).  He is 27 inches long (70%ile).  His head is 44.5cm (85%ile). 
He did really well with his shots but poor baby has an ear infection.  He's been coughing for about a week and hasn't run any fever or acted like anything hurt other than when he coughed. 
What a sweet tempered baby we have!

He is wearing mostly 3-6 month clothes though the length is definitely getting short.  He's in a 6-9 month onesie today. 
His swaddles are pretty much too short...but he actually slept unswaddled last night.  My baby boy is growing up!  It is such a joy and I love watching him.  He loves, loves, loves his sissie!




We were able to have visits from Doc
and Allie
as well as Grammy and Granddaddy. 

What a fun month.  I can't wait to see what Caleb learns and how his personality changes over the next month.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Tart Tatin

It has been really hard to do Daring Baker Challenges since Caleb was born.  But this month, I had the perfect opportunity.  We had a dinner party and I wanted to offer a couple of desserts.  I made strawberry pie because we had someone over who is allergic to peanuts, milk, and eggs - my strawberry pie is free of all that!  Then, I decided to make this month's challenge in a gluten free style. 
For the March Daring bakers’ challenge, Korena from Korena in the Kitchen taught us that some treats are best enjoyed upside down. She  challenged us to make a tarte tatin from scratch.  I went with the apple version because David really likes apple pie.  He said he like it but we both though that the apples were too mushy.  I cooked them in the pan until they started to get soft and, I think, I should have probably cooked them about five minutes less.  Also, my apples were really large, so I had some difficulty in using quarters as the recipe instructs, but I made it work.

The dough was actually really fun to work with.  Gluten free doughs are often crumbly and just don't do well.  However, this one actually did improve in "feel" with each turn of the dough. 
I felt that the caramel ended up tasting burned but I had to keep cooking it as it was separated for a while.  Another mishap - I burned my finger.  Smart one here decided to taste the caramel...directly off the whisk.  I allowed it to drip on my finger so I could taste and...hsssss...finger was burnt!  It hurt and STILL has bumps from it.  All in all, it was a fun challenge.  I think David probably prefers my regular apple pie but it was fun to try something different.

Recipe 1: Rough Puff Pastry

Servings: one single pastry crust

Ingredients
1 cup (250 ml) (4½ oz) (125 gm) all-purpose (plain) flour (or gluten free AP flour mix)
2/3 cup (160 ml) (5 oz) (140 gm) unsalted butter, cold
¼ tsp fine salt
¼ cup (60 ml) ice cold water

In a medium bowl, combine the flour and salt. Cut the butter into small cubes and add it to the flour. With a pastry blender (or two table knives) cut in the butter until the mixture in crumbly but even, with pea-sized pieces of butter. Make a well in the middle and pour in the ice cold water. Toss the flour/butter and water together with a fork until the dough starts to clump together.

Turn the dough out onto your work surface – don’t worry if there are still pockets of dry flour. Gently knead and squeeze the mixture a few times just enough to bring it together into a square (a bench scraper is helpful for this). Be careful not to overwork the dough: there should be visible bits of butter and it should still look very rough.

Lightly flour your work surface and rolling pin, and roll the dough out into a rectangle about 10” (25 cm) long. Fold the bottom third of the dough up into the middle, and fold the top third down, like you are folding a letter. This is one fold. Turn the dough a one quarter turn so that one of the open edges is facing you, and roll out again into a 10” (25 cm) rectangle. Fold again - this is the second fold. Repeat the rolling and folding 3 more times, for 5 folds total. Your dough will get smoother and neater looking with each fold (the pictures show the first and fifth folds).

If your kitchen is very warm and the dough gets too soft/sticky to do all the folds at once, chill it in the fridge for 20-30 minutes between folds. After the fifth fold, use your rolling pin to tap the dough into a neat square. Wrap the dough in plastic and chill for a least 1 hour, or overnight.

Recipe 2: Tarte Tatin

Servings: 8-10

Ingredients
6 large or 7-8 medium-sized apples (see “Notes” above for the best type of apple for this dish)
Juice of half a lemon
6 tablespoons (90 ml) (3 oz) (85 gm) unsalted butter (or use salted and skip the salt)
1-1/3 cups (320 ml) (9½ oz) (265 gm) granulated sugar, divided
pinch salt
Rough Puff Pastry, above

Peel the apples and cut them into quarters. Remove the cores in such a way that each apple quarter has a flat inner side: when placed rounded-side-up, it should sit on a flat base. Place the apples in a large bowl and toss with the lemon juice and 1/3 cup (80 ml) (2-1/2 oz) (65 gm) sugar. This will help draw out some of the moisture from the apples and prevent an overly runny caramel. Set aside for 15 minutes.
Preheat the oven to moderately hot 375˚F/190°C/gas mark 5. Melt the butter in a very heavy, 9” or 10” (23 cm or 24 cm) oven-proof saucepan over medium heat, then sprinkle with the remaining 1 cup (240 ml) (7 oz) (200 gm) sugar. Stir with a whisk until the sugar melts and becomes a pale, smooth caramel. The sugar will seem dry and chunky at first, then will start to melt and smooth out. If the butter appears to separate out from the caramel, just keep whisking until it is a cohesive sauce. Remove from the heat.

Discard the liquid that has come out of the apples, then add the apple quarters to the caramel, round side down. They won’t all fit in a single layer at first, but as they cook they will shrink a bit. Cook over medium heat for 15-20 minutes, pressing down gently on the apples with a spoon to cover them in the caramel liquid. Move the apples around the pan gently so that they all cook evenly, trying to keep them round side down. When the apples have shrunk enough to mostly fit in a single layer and are starting to soften but still keep their shape, remove the pan from the heat.


With a wooden spoon, arrange the apples, round side down, in a single layer of concentric circles covering the bottom of the pan. Set aside until the filling stops steaming before covering with pastry.

Remove the pastry from the fridge, roll it out on a lightly floured surface, and trim it into a circle about 1” (25 mm) in diameter larger than your saucepan. Lay it over the filling, tucking in the edges between the apples and the sides of the pan, and cut a few steam vents in the pastry. Place the saucepan on a rimmed baking sheet (just in case the filling decides to bubble over the sides) and place in the preheated moderately hot 375˚F/190°C/gas mark 5 oven. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until the pastry is puffed and golden brown, increasing the oven temperature to moderately hot 400˚F/200°C/gas mark 6 during the last 5 – 10 minutes of baking if the pastry isn’t browning properly.

Remove from the oven and let sit just until the caramel stops bubbling. Immediately place a serving platter (slightly larger in diameter than the saucepan) over the pastry. Wearing oven mitts, grab hold of the saucepan and platter and quickly invert everything to unmold the Tatin onto the platter. If any of the apples stick to the pan or come out of place, rearrange them with a spatula. The tarte Tatin can be served warm from the oven or at room temperature. Suggested accompaniments include vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, or crème fraîche.  Enjoy!


Thursday, March 05, 2015

5 Months

WARNING - Picture heavy post!

Caleb turned 5 months old last Friday.  He is such a fun and happy baby.
We have been incredibly blessed.  This month he has discovered his feet. 
He really loves them and will put them in his mouth any chance he gets.  He has finally figured out some of the toys on his jumper.  He will also stay in the jumper for a while, which enables me to get some things done!
He tends to use his left hand when he spins the toys.  Though I know that babies aren't handed at this point, it's fun to think he might be left handed!
video

We have been able to leave him a little more in the nursery at church.  He knows the workers there and they are figuring him out, too!

We went to the Children's Museum
just before he turned 5 months and he really showed out by climbing the wall.
He is still exclusively breastmilk fed.  He takes bottles at daycare but has spaced out his feeds to 3-3.5 hours and is must more consistent in his schedule.  We haven't started feeding him solids yet; though, I do wonder how he would do.  We'll probably wait until he is 6 months old.  I feel like he's grown a good bit over the past month.  At his last doctor's appointment, he was 25.5 inches long (65%) with his head a good 85%.

 He's still skinny but he doesn't look it.  He weighed 13.5 pounds at 4 months and is between 15-15.5 now, which is around 15-20%ile.

Due to this growth, he is about to outgrow his bassinet. 
This makes me really sad.  It also makes me sad that he seems to be teething.  I'm going to seriously miss this toothless grin! 

He still doesn't like tummy time that much but he is getting much better at it. 
Again, he hasn't rolled over yet but is so close.  He just needs to get over that arm and he'll be a rolling machine.  He enjoys his bumbo and really wants to sit up but just doesn't quite have the stability or strength to do it on his own yet.

He talks ALL. THE. TIME.  I think we may end up having two talkers on our hands.  And I think that he and Kate are going to be GREAT friends!
We've also discovered that he really likes to be read to.  He just looks and listens and smiles.  The other day, I read him The Little Blue Truck and he just laughed and laughed when I got to the page with all the animal sounds.   I can't wait to read more and more to him.
He still typically wakes up once a night, though over the past couple of weeks it seems that he's been waking up more than that.  We may try to transition him to his crib over spring break (I said we were going to but now I'm not sure if I'm ready yet) but we shall see. 
He has started to get on much more of a schedule the past week or so.  Around 7-730, his little eyes start to get heavy and he gets fussy.  If I hold him in a cradled position he almost immediately falls asleep.  He still sleeps swaddled and does great with that.
This month is going to go by so quickly.  I'm trying to soak it all in but time just seems to go faster and faster.