Friday, October 30, 2009

Yummy Recipes

I have a stack of recipes that are clipped to my fridge right now that I've been using quite regularly. Good stuff! I have made all of these more than once and they are now part of our regular recipes we love to pull from. (Okay, not ALL of them, a few I only made once but we'll definitely be making them again!) Some of these even replace recipes I've been using for years. And THAT'S saying something! Happy cooking everybody!!!

(from Rachel, with my notes)
Wheat Bread

Makes 4-5 loaves

5 C very warm water

5 C whole-wheat flour
1 C sugar -OR- 1/2 C honey (I use honey usually but today I used sugar and it turned out fine)
1/2 C oil
1 1/2 Tbsp. salt
1 Tbsp. dough enhancer (if you can't find this, just make sure you double or triple the vital gluten.)
2 Tbsp. vital gluten (I usually do 1 Tbsp dough enhancer and 4 of the vital gluten. When I run out of the dough enhancer I'll try just using the amount of gluten per cup of flour in the recipe that the gluten bag suggests.)

Mix all above ingredients together in a mixer. (Make sure you have a pretty hefty mixer! Mine has a bowl bigger than the Kitchen Aid bowls and still climbs up the mixing paddle and dough hook quite a bit. I usually keep my hand there to push it back.)
Add: Sprinkle 3 Tbsp instant yeast -OR- 6 Tbsp. active dry yeast over mixture
Gradually add more wheat flour (approx. 5-7 more cups) one cup at a time until dough pulls away from sides of bowl. Knead dough in mixer 6 additional minutes. Remove from mixer and shape dough into 4 or 5 loaves. Put in greased pans and let rise for 20-60 minutes, depending on room temperature and how light you like your bread. (Seems to take 30 minutes where I live.)
Bake at 325 for 30 minutes. (Maybe an extra five....just tap 'em to make sure they sound right...)

Fast and Easy Pizza Dough - My Kitchen Cafe

Aunt Katie's Oatmeal Pancakes
- The Sisters' Cafe

Bread Machine Bagels - Whole Wheat Cookbook (make sure you at least double this! 5 is not enough!) Not the only recipe on this link. Scroll down or do CTRL-F and type in "Bread Machine Bagels"

Chicken and Wild Rice Soup - My Kitchen Cafe

100% Whole Wheat Bread (Bread Machine) - Recipezaar

Homemade Hoisin Sauce - Sandra Lee

One Bowl Apple Cake - Maya*Made

Italian Bread Bowls - My Kitchen Cafe

Tender Grilled Salmon
- My Kitchen Cafe

Garlic Bread Recipe (Bread Machine) - razzledazzlerecipes

Salmon Cakes with Lemon Aioli
- The Sisters Cafe
You can do these with canned salmon too. You can definitely taste a difference, but it's still good! And when you add the lemon aioli sauce, even better.

Homemade Yellow Cake Mix
- SuzanneMcMinn

The Best Sloppy Joes - My Kitchen Cafe

Homemade Whole Wheat Hamburger Buns - Heavenly Homemakers

Dairy Free Chocolate Frosting - Recipe Book Online

Easy Non-dairy Chocolate Cake -
My birthday cake this year. This is DELICIOUS. Very rich. Eat one piece and it won't be long before you're back for another. This cake grows on you!! (In more ways than one, hah! So punny....)

Chocolate Chip Cake - My Kitchen Cafe

Chicken and White Bean Stew
- My Kitchen Cafe

Dairy-Free (or OOPS, we don't have any EGGS!) Chocolate Chip Cookies -
You'll want to pause the video (unless you'd rather watch the recipe than read it) and then scroll down to the recipe. Anyone will like these. There's no need to apologize and say they're "dairy free". They're just yummy.

Granola Bars
(from Heidi)

2 c quick oats

1 c flour

3/4 c brown sugar (we do 1/2 c)

1/2 t salt

1/2 t cinnamon

1/2 c nuts and/or coconut (optional)

1/2 c chocolate chips (optional)

3/4 c raisins or craisins (optional)

To be more healthy do 1/2 c wheat germ (I do just a couple dashes from the jar) and throw in some powdered milk (1/4 to 1/3 c) for extra calcium.

Mix in big bowl, in another bowl combine:

1/2 c oil (I do 1/3 if I do peanut butter)

1/2 c honey (I do 1/3 sometimes)

1 egg (do 2 if it looks too dry)

2 t vanilla (or 1 t vanilla, 1 t almond extract)

1/3 to 1/2 cup peanut butter (optional)

Combine wet and dry, batter will be thick (like cookie dough) and spread in greased 9×13 pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes until edges are golden. Cool completely, turn onto cutting board and slice into bars or squares. These freeze well if wrapped individually and are great quick breakfast.

We like 1/2 c cranberries, 1/2 c chopped almonds, 1/2 c coconut with 1 t vanilla & 1 t almond. The kids like 1/2 c peanut butter and 1/2 c chocolate chips. It’s a very flexible recipe, play around with it. Do NOT overbake, you want soft and chewy still. I’ve not tried wheat flour but I’m sure you can do it and skip the wheat germ.

Whole Wheat Muffins
(from Heidi)

Freezer Muffins/Bread

3 c flour (can do some wheat, add wheat germ, etc)

1 t salt

1 T cinnamon (or pumpkin spice of doing apple or pumpkin)

1/2 t baking powder

1 t baking soda

Mix in large bowl. In another bowl combine:

2 eggs (we do 2T ground flax & 6T cold water mixed well)

1 c oil (can do half apple sauce)

2 c sugar (We do 1 1/2 cups but could do less. Also could try half sugar/half honey?)

2 c “mix” (see below)

1 T vanilla (or half vanilla, half almond, half orange extract, etc)

1 c nuts (optional)

1/2 cup oats (optional addition, may need more moisture if you add oats)

Mix wet and dry, bake as 2 loaves at 325 degrees for 1 hour or bake as 2 dozen muffins at 375 for 15 minutes.

“Mix” can be:

apples (diced or grated) or applesauce



carrots grated


orange or lemon juice (1/2 cup)




pumpkin (I do 1 cup pumpkin & 1 cup applesauce)

raisins or craisins (I do only 1 cup)

zuchini grated

You get the idea.

Wrap muffins in sets of two or loaf in plastic wrap then in foil, stores well in freezer. Defrost in fridge. Makes great easy breakfasts or fast snacks. Can also be used for mini-muffins. If you are very careful about not over mixing the batter you can divide it in half after you combine the wet & dry and stir in two different additions. Half with lemon & coconut, half with banana. But again, be gentle so you don’t mix too much. These freeze so well that we often do a huge batch of pumpkin then a huge batch of banana. Also fun is to make a little streusel topping for them – mix a bit of flour, brown sugar, dash of cinnamon and then grate in some cold butter. Mix up, sprinkle on top. Yummy!

Every combination we do of these turns out a bit different with moisture, rise, etc. It’s a big experiment but always yummy. If you are planning to freeze them then you may want to do full oil – the applesauce/oil ones are drier and seem to not freeze and defrost as well.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Herbed Chicken Pasta with Fresh Cheese
(adapted from Cooking Pleasures magazine)

Using leftover grilled chicken or deli rotisserie chicken makes this a quick-to-fix meal. The only cooking necessary is to boil the pasta. It's tossed hot with the other ingredients, slightly melting the cheeses to create a light, creamy sauce.

2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
6 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil (more if you use whole wheat pasta which seems to soak up the liquids a little more)
1 cup packed torn fresh basil (I've used dried before) and/or fresh dill
2 cups shredded cooked chicken
1/2 - 3/4 C cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 C thinly sliced red onion
1 C small fresh mozzarella balls, halved, or cubed mozzarella (3/4")
1/2 C crumbled soft goat cheese
8 oz rotini

Whisk vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper in large bowl; slowly whisk in oil. Stir in 1/2 cup of the basil/dill. Gently stir in chicken and all remaining ingredients except pasta and remaining basil/dill.

Cook pasta; drain.

Toss hot pasta with chicken mixture and remaining 1/2 cup basil/dill.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Remember THIS? How the baby product marketers want us to think we can't do it without them? How:

These tips treat parents as if we were the 2-year-olds, so wet behind the ears that we need an expert to tell us which games to play, which toys to buy, what to say to our kids and what to feed them. This talking down to parents is big business; the "mom market" has reached $1.7 trillion in annual revenue, according to the book "Parenting, Inc.," with $700 million spent on zero-to-age-2 toys alone. That's a lot of pull toys.

Excuse me. Push and pull toys.

The whole gestalt is enough to convince us moms that today's children -- unlike all those who came before them -- do not have their trajectory pretty well mapped out simply by being born human: cry, crawl, toddle, walk, grow up, breed and cry some more. No, this generation won't make it without a whole lot of help from specialists, safety gear and Internet searches. But why? Are our children more vulnerable -- and we less competent -- than any previous generation in history?

Well, I'm done. It's time for me to remember that most of the time, I am right on when it comes to following my instincts regarding my babies, my kids.

Here's what I've been stewing over lately...

Becca is 7 months old and I started giving her solids a little before 6 months. She's not interested. I've spent a little over a month stressed that she doesn't want them.

I'm done.

She is the chunkiest of my kids and I can see that she is healthy and happy.

Because she is due for a doctor's appointment soon and I don't know her exact weight or where she sits on her growth curve (other than my guesstimate from looking at her!), I found myself googling the situation for some "expert" advice (really just to add to my own gut instinct) and found this:

When we start solid foods at the 4 to 6 month age, we are doing so to help teach babies the skills that they need to eat. They still obtain the vast majority of their calories and nutrition from breast or formula feedings!
(Good reminder. I actually made note of this a few weeks ago while reading the label on a rice cereal serving was only 50 calories!)
Even after she starts solids, she will get most of her calories and nutrients from what she drinks.

As long as she is happy and growing, you can relax. Feeding will progress naturally. There is no need to force her. If she is healthy, she will let you know if she is hungry and needing to eat.
Thank you, Dr. Greene, for reaffirming what I already knew. Thank you for being a doctor and showing me that not all doctors are alarmists or stuck on "schedules" and that we're doing just fine. Thank you for the reminder that this is not a race and that our children come equipped to get us the message that they want solids and they know when!


(an act or instance of placing close together or side by side, esp. for comparison or contrast)

+Apple cake is baking in the oven. It smells heavenly and makes it feel like fall here even if the weather does not.

-Three kids are in the bathroom using towels to clean up water from all over the bathroom floor. Heidi says Esther did it. Esther says Heidi did it. Autumn cleans and leaves the blame behind.

+Becca is napping. Sweet peace. Not quiet though. But still, I am thankful for the time to get things done while she sleeps.

-Ants are raiding my backyard. We seemed to rouse a lively nest from the cracks of our cement patio while rinsing off chalk drawings. I hope they don't try to take up residence in our house again. I'm not ready to do battle again, but I will. Oh I will.

+Halloween is only a few days away and we're all dressing up this year. It's going to be fun. I love my costume this year. Simple, yet a very fun idea. And very appropriate.

-My living room looks like a tornado hit.

+My kitchen is taking shape.

-Eric was gone till 11pm last night, after leaving at 10am.

+Tonight he'll be home earlier.

And that, my friends, has been my day - juxtaposed.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Today I:

made granola (More like muesli this time around...oh well. Muesli's good too even if it wasn't what I was aiming for.)
made granola bars
made cookies
made garlic bread
helped the girls clean their room (yikes! that place can get scary!)
did 3 loads of laundry (not folded though)

And that was on top of the normal get dressed, get everyone else dressed, make dinner, clean up regular daily messes and all that good stuff!

Now I'm going to see if I can muster up enough energy to fold laundry, tidy the living room and dining room, and wash a few dishes (all while watching some of my TV shows). I think realistically, I'm not leaving the living room and the dishes will have to wait till tomorrow. That's okay. They always do. They're very accommodating that way.

Hope y'all had a good Monday too!

Thursday, October 22, 2009

...a few more gems.

Becca keeping busy while we all cleaned the girls' room.

This is what I did for Esther to keep her out of my hair for a bit.

That's rice.

She spent at least 45 minutes happily occupied.

She loves spaghetti!

Note the stick-on earrings.

...and here's what I've got.
I know the quality's not the best.
I'll try harder to pull the good camera down...or get a phone with a better camera, hah hah!

I do not draw.
This week Heidi asked me to draw.
Here's what I came up with.

Can you tell what they are?

Becca recently discovered how FUN cups are in the tub. She doesn't use them to play with the water. She just loves to hold them. And if I take them away after the bath -- boy howdy, am I in trouble! We've added some cups to her toy basket in the living room now.

Found her eating her toes today.

This is how she kept busy when I was sorting books to go on our living room bookcases.

Doing her math work. In a hat. She wore the same hat to the library. I didn't even notice till we were halfway there.

I made her headband and the flower and love how she looks with them on!

Go see my post on our homeschooling blog if you're in the mood for a "quiz" of sorts.

We went for a walk and found lots of interesting plants. We're ready to do some research but would love it if some of you share what you know!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Autumn took these with her birthday camera. If you've already seen them on her blog you'll get to enjoy them a second time around now. :)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009


We've found our schooling groove and I find it easy(!) to stay away from the computer for HUGE junks of my day. This is HUGE for me. I am more "present" for the girls and involved in all they're doing.

To clarify, it's not that I sit at the computer all day. I don't play computer games. I don't surf the web. It's more the knowing that every time I sit down, there will be a new email or a new blog post from someone (or a new Facebook status, but does anyone else feel like I do? Who wants to sit there scrolling through status after status until you reach the "Oh yeah, I remember this one." point? I love how RSS feeds like Google Reader just lay it out for you - "Here, you haven't seen this.") But when I do succumb to that curiosity, before I know it, 20 or 30 minutes have passed and wait, WHAT? Who cut who's hair?? (That actually did happen recently but I wasn't at my computer...hah hah.) When I give myself specific times during the day to be at the computer and ignore the urges to "check" other times, I'm finding I enjoy it more! And I enjoy my girls more. And I get more done. I think it's a win-win situation here. But I'm not saying I tell myself, "at 3:17pm you have precisely 15 minutes to be at the computer...". I'm talking about thinking, "after the dishes are done-some lessons are done-and the girls are taking their break I can go check some things for a bit...".

Here's some of what we've been up to:

AUTUMN turned EIGHT last week (pictures to come) and got a camera for her birthday. Sometimes when they are supposed to be sleeping I hear them taking pictures in their room. They haven't learned to destroy the evidence yet.

HEIDI turned SIX two weeks ago (and yes, pictures to come on that too...). She is very eager about EVERYTHING. I know she plays LEGO Star Wars better than I do and I think she plays Mario Galaxy better too! I continue to find candy wrappers around the house and always know she's found yet another of my stashes. That kid is good. Too good. Sneaky little sneak.

ESTHER is still three. Very three. We have yet to hit the terrible two's in our house. It's always been the trying threes. But they are also the terrific threes. She is so goofy. She constantly asks me to take her picture, says "CHEESE" with her eyes scrunched shut and her face lifted in the air, and then runs over to see the picture. We're still working on mastering the whole "bathroom" thing but we'll get there.

BECCA will be SEVEN MONTHS this Saturday! She has mastered rolling and turning to get around. She loves to be on her belly and will turn 180 degrees to get a toy or something else of interest (and even roll a bit if the turning wasn't enough). She's not too fast yet. I don't mind. Neither does she. She eats rice cereal, oatmeal, sweet potatoes, squash, and bananas now. She tried some green beans last night and made the FUNNIEST face ever. She loves to smile, loves her sisters, and momma and daddy. She wakes up at night to eat which has been interesting. She slept through the night early on and then at about 4 1/2 months she started waking up once a night. The times are random and she always goes right back to sleep...I wonder what exactly is going on but realize there are so many factors involved (hunger, teething, learning new things, at one point new location...) and to be honest I don't really mind! It's such a rare thing to get her all to myself these days that I cherish the nighttime quiet we share. And I have to say there are few things cuter than a baby who is SO hungry, they try to latch onto any part of your skin (face, arm, neck...) while you're still carrying them from their bed to go feed them!

ERIC is busier than he's ever been. He's adjusted to the commute and listens to music, movies, and tv shows on his ipod on the way in. Between teaching group & private lessons, working part time in the music admissions office, regular doctorate level classes, an institute class, and opera rehearsals (Albert Herring by Benjamin Britten), I am amazed he fits in time to do things at home (dishes!, tickling kids, folding laundry, and even relaxing with the wife!). We enjoy the time off more than ever before.

ABBY, yes, me -- I am busy as a bee. When I'm not teaching, cleaning, or planning music for primary, I read books (just finished The Graveyard Book -- a fun read I do recommend; currently reading Musicophilia, The Female Brain, In Defense of Food, and The Fingerprint), play my piano (someday I will be able to play Rhapsody in Blue in its entirety. It makes me feel powerful even stumbling through it. I think my head might explode if I were actually able to play it all CORRECTLY!), and plan (school for me someday, how to organize the house best, what to do tomorrow, how did I do today, what to eat....did you know planning could be so all-encompassing? And fun? I think I might be addicted...although I will say in my defense that I am FLEXIBLE and have learned the value of adjusting my plans as the days, months, and years go by. A necessity for everyone, I believe.).

That's all folks!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Autumn put a lot of thought into her birthday cake. Her requests started with
- pink frosting with a white cake
- flamingo on top, white frosting, and a white cake
(I somehow missed that flamingos are now her favorite animal. Now guess her favorite color.)
- flamingo on top, blue frosting (for water), and a white cake

In the end I talked her into doing a coconut cake since white cakes tend to not have a lot of flavor.

Notice the wet hair? She's in her pajamas. Heidi celebrated right after breakfast but Autumn had to wait until right before bedtime. She was mighty patient.

A bundle of energy.
(And I think my expression in the background is because I didn't like the cake. The batter was DELICIOUS but the cake didn't work out the same. Everyone else loved it though...)

Autumn is a joy to have in our family. She is FULL of life, a great big sister and helper to her mom, and so excited in ALL she does!

Happy Birthday Autumn!
We love you!!

For reference for myself and for anyone else who can't have milk or doesn't have milk at home and is baking!

Substitutions for Milk in Baking

Milk is one of the easiest ingredients to substitute in baking. Non-dairy milks and water are suitable replacements with only subtle effects on taste and texture. Some ingredients may affect the coloration of the finished product. Soy will often cause a darker color or browning effect. Another consideration is that not all liquid replacements are as thick as milk; therefore, the amount used may need to be reduced from the amount called for in the recipe.

Soy Milk: 1 cup soy milk = 1 cup cow’s milk

Rice Milk: 1 cup rice milk = 1 cup cow’s milk

Depending on the brand, rice milk can be thinner than cow’s milk and you may need to reduce the amount used in the recipe. For baking, you can add 2 or 3 extra tablespoons of cooking oil to help offset a watery consistency.

Nut Milk: 1 cup nut milk = 1 cup cow’s milk

Nut milks, such as almond, are best served in dessert recipes.

Juice: Fruit juice can be used as a replacement, but can impart sweetness. Juice is also acidic and is best served in recipes that include baking soda. The amount used will depend on the thickness of the juice.

Water: Approximately 3/4 cup water = 1 cup cow’s milk

Water is commonly substituted for milk in recipes. Add water last to the recipe, stirring in small amounts until the proper consistency is achieved.

Note: Milk substitutes may still have dairy ingredients in the product. Many brands claim to be dairy-free, but in truth they only eliminate lactose. Dairy protein (casein) is commonly included in both soy and rice milks. Also, many brands of rice milk are not gluten-free, such as Imagine Foods Rice Dream, because of their manufacturing process. Always confirm the status of rice or soy milks if you are on a gluten-free diet and/or dairy-free diet.

Other dairy substitutes, such as non-dairy cheese, will often use dairy or soy protein in their ingredients. Always check the ingredients and/or with the manufacturer to make sure that the product is completely dairy-free. There are currently no known cheese substitutes that do not contain either dairy or soy protein ingredients.

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Thursday, October 1, 2009

...I was so tired!

I fell asleep on the living room floor at 8:30pm last night (and my usual bedtime is 11 or 12). I woke up enough to pick up my papers and get my contacts out and then promptly fell asleep again in bed.

I woke up at 6:30am feeling so refreshed! Wow.

I guess taking 4 kids on a 5 hour errand (applying for Medi-Cal) took more out of me than I realized.