Friday, September 28, 2012

Homemade Chocolate Drink Syrup

It's no secret, I love cafe mochas!  They can get quite expensive, so I make them at home as much as possible.  Starbucks used to sell mocha powder, so I could get mine pretty similar tasting to theirs. At the beginning of the summer, I realized that they don't sell the powder anymore and of course, I ran out.  I panicked and then I remembered that I had seen a DIY recipe for chocolate syrup on Annie's Eats.  I actually like it better in my mochas AND I no longer buy chocolate quik for my kids' flavored milk.  

This recipe involved four ingredients and ten minutes of time, it's not much simpler than that!  Once you make it, store it in a squeeze bottle in the fridge and you'll have it whenever you need.
Chocolate Syrup:

1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 cup water
pinch salt
2 tsp vanilla

1) Mix cocoa powder, sugar, and salt in medium sauce pan.

2) Whisk in water until no lumps remain.  Heat over medium heat to a boil, reduce to a simmer for five minutes, stirring frequently.

3) Remove from heat, let cool five minutes, add in the vanilla, stir.  Let cool and store in your favorite squeeze bottle.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Little Tap Dancer

Is it too early for Halloween?   The weather got cooler here this week, I'm getting in the fall spirit, so I dressed the baby in her big sister's old Halloween dress.

I've been getting together with a friend of mine discussing all things photography.  We are planning a lot of cool things.  In planning, it occurred to me that I have been so busy lately with my life, that I haven't stopped to take many pictures of my own kids.  They are growing and changing everyday- that makes me sad.

I got a new lens for my camera- I need to use it a lot.  I've been taking my camera everywhere.  It happened to be upstairs and I happened to hear a loud clanging noise.  I looked out to see this:
I got a little closer-found out what was making that sound
What a total little girl
I helped her put them on- she thought it was odd,

Until she walked and heard the clicks or was it that witch hat I put on her head?
In case you didn't know, Maeve has a favorite stuffed animal
We called it "horsie", until we realized all she could say was "Nannie",
It's true love
It doesn't have to be Halloween to dress your kids up or to take their picture.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Cider Glazed Chicken with Apple Shallot Vinaigrette

Soooo, I'm still holding strong on this no gluten, no legumes, no starch, no dairy, no sugar thing.   I spent my first week down in the dumps about not being able to bake, but then I started realizing how many dinner recipes I have that I want to try.  One thing that I have going in my favor is that I LOVE TO COOK.  There are a lot of recipes I have in my folder to try that involve none of the above ingredients.  My spirits are raised- I may not be making sweets and fun colored treats to eat, but I am making delicious, healthy meals for my family to enjoy.

This is a recipe that has caught my eye when flipping through my recipe binder several times.  Last night, I was planning on making chicken soup, but Dave came home with a gallon of fresh pressed apple cider and it was like fate.  This dinner was more than I imagined it would be.  The homemade vinaigrette set this over the top!  Eating an apple dipped in the vinaigrette, made a sweet taste, almost like I had sprinkled sugar on top of it (yes, I'm getting desperate!).  But, seriously, I was surprised by how delicious it was and I was excited when there was enough left over chicken for me to make another salad for lunch the next day.  This is a great recipe to try to kick off the fall apple season!

Cider Glazed Chicken:
2 TBSP grapeseed or olive oil
4 boneless chicken breasts
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup apple cider
1 TBSP cider vinegar

Apple Shallot Vinaigrette:
1 medium apple (Gala or McIntosh)
1 shallot
3/4 tsp mustard powder
3 TBSP grapeseed or olive oil
2 TBSP cider vinegar

Slivered Almonds

1) Preheat the oven to 400'.

2) Heat an oven safe skillet with 2 TBSP oil in it over medium heat.  Sprinkle salt and pepper on chicken.  Cook chicken on one side until browned (about 4 min), flip, cook then flip and brown other side.  Place pan in oven and bake until chicken is cooked through (12-15 min). When chicken is cooked, remove pan from oven, place chicken on a plate to cool, return pan to a burner for the cider glaze.

3) Mince the apple and the shallot, place in a small bowl.  Mix in the cider vinegar and mustard and set aside to marinate, about 10 minutes.  After the ten minutes, add in the 3 TBSP oil, season with salt and pepper to taste, mix and set aside for later.

4) In the pan that you placed back on the burner, add the cider- heat over medium heat.  Stir the cider, scraping bit off the bottom of the pan.  Boil and reduce the liquid by half, about 2-3 minutes.  Add the 1 TBSP cider vinegar.  Mix, remove pan from heat (optional to swirl in 1 TBSP butter).  Set sauce aside until serving.

5) Shred chicken breasts into bite sized pieces- throw them in the pan with the cider sauce, mix it up to coat.   Place chicken on top fresh lettuce.  Cut the remaining apple into thin slices- place this in the bowl with the chicken and lettuce.  Drizzle on the apple shallot dressing.  Optional, sprinkle on a handful of slivered almonds.

Source: Bon Appetit November 2011

Hope you like it!

Friday, September 14, 2012

No Yeast Cinnamon Rolls

Do you have a fear of using yeast?  Do you avoid using yeast because of the time it takes to make something with it?  Do you love cinnamon rolls?  If you have answered yes to all of these questions, put your apron on!

I have seen these cinnamon rolls in my cookbook before and then I saw them online at two different blogs I enjoy reading.  It was like someone was telling me to try them.  I was a little doubtful since I know I already found the perfect cinnamon roll.  But, last Saturday, I was in a rush, and I wanted something sweet and homemade (I'll get to why in a minute).  I remembered these cinnamon rolls, and decided to give them a whirl.  I've done you all a favor by doing this, because these are easy - anyone can make them, even my younger brother- hint hint!

For the next 28 days, I'm participating in a challenge at my CrossFit gym not to eat sugar, grains, or dairy.  So far, I have succeeded (4 days in).  These cinnamon rolls, along with pizza for dinner, seemed like the perfect farewell to delicious baked goods for the next month.  I only got one, that's how quick my family gobbled them up.
Yes, there is prize money involved in this no eating sugar thing, that's my motivation.  I want a new lens for my camera- and to be stronger!

No Yeast Cinnamon Rolls:

Oven: 425'

2 cups flour
2 tsp sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 c heavy cream

3 TBSP butter, melted
1/3 c brown sugar
1 TBSP cinnamon

1 TBSP butter
1 cup confectioner's sugar
2-3 TBSP milk
1/2 tsp vanilla

Adapted from Cook's Country via Brown Eyed Baker

1) Preheat the oven to 425'.

2) Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt.  Using a spoon, mix in the heavy cream until incorporated, form dough into a ball, lightly knead on floured surface for about 30 seconds until smooth ball forms. (I did all of this in the kitchen aid mixer). Roll out dough into a rectangle ~9x12.  Spread melted butter on top of dough to 1/2" of the edges.  Mix together the cinnamon and brown sugar- sprinkle on top of the melted butter.

3) Put your hands on the long side of the dough, tightly roll the dough into a cylinder.  Using your fingers, press the top seam closed.

4) Cut out the cinnamon rolls, about 1- 1 1/2" thick -(8-10 rolls, depending how thick you want them).  Place the rolls about 1" apart on a prepared greased sheet.  I did what she recommended and baked mine in a pie pan, but there were not enough to fill the pan, and mine were close together and they were not round, but kite shaped- I'm using a cookie sheet next time.  Space them 2" apart.

5) Bake 18-24 minutes, depending on your oven.  Rotate halfway through and check for doneness when tops are golden brown.

6) Cream the butter in a bowl for the icing.  Cream in the confectioner's sugar.  Add in the vanilla.  Slowly add alternating milk and confectioner's sugar, until desired consistency is reached.  Drop small scoops of icing on top of hot cinnamon rolls.  Use the back of a spoon to spread out the icing.
Only 24 days and I can grab another!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Lunchbox Order Forms

I get up at 4:30 most days of the week.  I like to hit the gym early- it's my way of starting the day on a good note.  By the time I get home from the gym, it's 6:45 and I've been up for over two hours.  IF I take a shower and make myself coffee, I'll be pushing it to get the kids out the door in time for school.  Most days, I barely have time to make them all breakfast, make sure they're dressed, get their bags ready, and pack healthy lunches and snacks.  Add to the equation, there is no more bus, and we bike to school everyday-we've got to get out the door earlier to make sure there's enough time to get the bikes out, helmets on, and allot for stopping time along the way or unforseen "emergencies".

Fast forward to the kids coming home:   the two boys come home from school complaining that they are STARVING- for various reasons, but the number one annoying reason to me is: " I DIDN'T like my lunch Mom!"  I do not like to waste time, or food, so I had to put a stop to the complaints and came up with an order form system for my kids.
I got a magnetic white board (in the dollar bin at Target).  Each Sunday night, I write down the menu choices for the week, based on what we have available.  I set the board on the table and the kids fill out their forms for the week.  (Great to keep them busy while I'm making dinner Sunday night).
I went into power point, and made a strip of order forms with five boxes, one for each day of the week. The kids can choose their lunch, a dessert, and their fruit of choice.  This way, if they come home complaining about their lunch, it all falls back on them, because that's what THEY chose.
This also saves me time because I am no longer stuck in the kitchen wondering "what should I pack today?".  I can make better use of my time now, like drinking my coffee while it's hot!

An added bonus:  Writing and reading practice!