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
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.
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
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


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


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).


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. 
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!

He is really eating well...and still only breastmilk!!!  We've reached goal number 3 for 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.