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

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

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!

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.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Pork (um, turkey) and beans

Well, I have now made it into June recipes.  YAY!!!  This recipe would actually be really good right now.  It is a sausage and bean casserole. 
I think David picked this out but it turned out really good. It is from Cooikng Light 2007.  It was easy and worked well for my family.  See the happy faces?
Sausage and Bean Casserole from Cooking Light
1 chopped onion
16 oz turkey sausage, cut into 1/4 inch slices
2 garlic cloves, minced
14 oz chicken or veggie broth
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons tomato paste
3 cans white beans, rinsed and drained

Preheat oven to 375.  Heat Dutch oven over medium high heat and cook onion and sausage.  Saute for 5 minutes or until browned.  Add garlic and saute 2 minutes.  Stir in chicken broth.  Stir in brown sugar, tomato paste, pepper and beans.  Bring to a boil and reduce heat.  Simmer for 5 minutes.  Sprinkle with cheese and bake for 15 minutes or until cheese is melted.  Enjoy!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Cheesecake for Mother's Day

David is always so sweet to make desserts that I like when it is a special occasion.  Last mother's day, he and Kate set to work making a cheese cake for me. 
They had such a fun time and you could tell that Kate was loving the time with her Daddy...
of course, she loved licking the batter, too!
 The cake was delicious.  There was a funny story to go with it, though.  David had gotten all the ingredients at the grocery store specifically for the cake, so he purchased extra eggs. 
After he finished making the cheesecake and had poured it into the pan, he looked over at the counter and asked "what are those eggs doing out on the counter?"  Ha!  Forgot to put the eggs in the, we scraped the batter out and beat the eggs in.  It all turned out great! 
David even cooked the blueberries himself. 

Almond Crust
1 cup almond meal
1/2 cup crushed, slivered almonds
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
3 Tablespoons melted butter

Preheat oven to 350.  Whisk almond meal, almonds, sugar, baking soda and cinnamon in a bowl.  Stir in butter until moistened.  Pour into a springform pan and press firmly into the bottom.  Bake in oven for about 10 minutes (to set crust).

Blueberry Cheesecake
2 (8 oz) packages cream cheese, softened
1 cup sour cream
3/4 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons flour (used gluten free)
4 eggs

Decrease oven temperature to 325.  Beat cream cheese until soft.  Then beat in sour cream, sugar, vanilla and flour.  Beat in eggs one at a time.  Pour the mixture onto the set crust.  Place pan into preheated over and bake for 1 hour or until firm to the touch.

Blueberry Topping
2 cups frozen (or fresh) blueberries
1/8 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch.  

Put all ingredients into a saucepan and cook on the stove on medium high heat until it all thickens.  Pour over the cooked cheesecake and enjoy!

Monday, February 16, 2015

Kate's May

May was a big month for Miss Kate.  First we had Disney.  Then at the end of the month, she had her preschool graduation and ballet recital.  She was so excited for graduation.
She got to be all dressed up in her pretty white dress with a purple sash.  Then, we were so proud of her getting to say the prayer:

She loves to pray and has some very detailed prayers.  What a sweet heart she has!  The rest of graduation was filled with the kids showing off all they had learned. 
We are so proud of Kate and the hard work that she put into learning her letters and the kindness she shows to other people.  She was SO excited to see the pictures in the slideshow.
Of course, she was thrilled that Grammy and Granddaddy were there.

A few weeks later, Grammy, Kate-O
and Allie and Doc
came down to see Kate in her ballet recital.  She did a good job and actually did some of the dance...when she wasn't concerned about her leotard. 
It was kind of funny. 

We love our little ballerina.
 Then we all went to Another Broken Egg for brunch afterwards.  So thankful for these occasions in our sweet girl's life!

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Caleb - 4 Months

One week ago, Caleb turned 4 months old.  I can't believe he is that old but at the same time it seems like he has been part of our family always.  It is amazing how much you can love one little tiny person. 
He has gotten to be SO much fun over the past month.  He smiles and laughs ALL the time.  He definitely has his tickle spots as indicated by this video with my mom:

He has gotten so much better with tummy time and will actually stay there for a while. 
He still hasn't rolled over but I'm sure it's coming soon.  He hasn't quite figured out how to get his arm out of the way.  He likes to be up and looking around but also LOVES his playmats and mobiles. 

He talks all the time.  Sometimes, he will wake up (TOO EARLY) and lie in his bassinet and talk to the bears on his mobile.  In fact, one day last week, he woke up just before five laughing.  I think he knew he was up too early and decided it was just hilarious! 
Speaking of sleeping, he still wakes up once a night.  Although, the past week, he has been a little more uneasy, waking up a lot.  Part of me thinks that if he wasn't swaddled he would put his hand in his mouth and be ok...but if he's unswaddled, he flings his arms and wakes himself up!  Alas!  I know that at some point, I'll have to move him to his bedroom; but right now, I still don't want to walk all the way across the house, especially if he's waking up multiple times at night.

We tried him in his jumper the other day and he loved his little sun.  However, despite being a long baby, he's not quite long enough to jump.  Ha!  

Things he loves: 
- mama, daddy, sissie - he smiles so big for us!
- getting dressed - he just laughs and smiles when I take his clothes off and change him.  He loves when his hands appear.  It is such an exciting part of his day.  :-) 
He also loves to look at his little dog while we do changing stuff.  He tried to share his 4 month sticker the other day, but doggie wasn't very interested.
- his feet - they are his new favorite toy!  He has been grabbing them a lot recently and actually put one in his mouth the other day.  He also loves kicking his feet - all day, everyday.  In fact, this past weekend, he was in his bouncy seat and spend about five minutes kicking the stuffed giraffe that was hanging above him
- his hands - they are ALWAYS in his mouth.  He started having to put bibs on him because he would soak his top from gnawing on his hands.

- eating - he's a big fan!  Still only mama's milk but he clearly knows when it's time.  He eats about 6-8 times a day.  He hasn't shown interest in food off a spoon yet and I'm planning on waiting until at least 5 months to try.

Weight - 13 pounds 8 ounces (15%)
Length - 25.5 inches (65%)
Head - 43 cm (85%)
We have a long, skinny boy with a big head!  Ha!  Hopefully that means he is smart.  :-)

He did pretty well with his shots.  This was the face he gave me when I picked him up from school
but he wasn't a fan of shots.  At first, he didn't cry.  I was kissing him when she gave the first one and he was fine.  Then, I think it hit him that it didn't feel good.  His little face wrinkled up and he started to cry.  After the second shot, I picked him up and he stopped crying; but this was how he felt about the shots. 
He was pretty fussy that evening but bounced back the next day to be my happy Caleb!
This little man has brought so much joy to our lives.  I can't wait to pick him up each day to see his big, toothless grin (though with all the drool, I wonder how long that will last).
I love listening to his laugh and hear him talk.  Despite not sleeping through the night, I love snuggling him during feeds.  I am so thankful for him, his sister, and David.  God has blessed me immeasurably.