29 February 2012

Sewing For Boys: Mr. Two Face Pants

Originally I had planned on doing both the Mr. Two Face Pants, for my little 10-month old, AND the Kickin' Back Sweats for my 4-year old, but time ran out.  I think part of it is February's fault, being the shortest month and all.  Anyway, just didn't happen with everything I took on this month, (more on that posts to come.)

I love that they're made from knit, so no hemming.

Cute pocket in the back.  Decided to leave the button off.

Embelished with goldfish freezer paper stenciling.

Oscar LOVES goldfish.  Fitting.

Bake 52: Babka

Never heard of it?  Me either.  Until this week.  Babka:  a rich and decadent coffee cake--style bread that is traditionally reserved for Easter Sunday in eastern Europe.  It also mentioned that it should be eaten on it's own, no jam or butter.  I was curious to see if this was really true... LOVE warm, fresh homemade bread with butter.  Here we go...

Whisk sour cream, eggs, water and vanilla, and then combine the flour, sugar, yeast and salt in the stand mixer with the dough hook.

With the mixer on low, add the sour cream mixture until the dough comes together.

Sorry about the blurriness of the above photo, but just a little proof of how well the dough looks at this point.  Came together great!

The speed of the mixer is then increased, and the two sticks of butter, cut into pieces, are then added... one piece at a time.  It takes a while.

In the picture above, you can see a piece of butter being mixed into the dough.  Look how sticky it gets.

And even more sticky.

After the butter is all mixed in, I added a little more flour until the dough looks like the above.  The dough is then put in the fridge for 10 hours, and up to 24.  ... an ultra-buttery dough like babka requires a long, cool overnight rising time.  If you try to speed up the process and let the dough rise in a warm place, the butter will leach out and the resulting loaf will have an oily texture, an uneven crumb, and sometimes, a rancid butter aftertaste.  And so it went into the fridge overnight.

The next day, roll out the dough.  The cold dough.  This was not easy.  But it had to be done.

Sprinkle the filling; brown sugar, butter, cinnamon.  (Toasted walnuts and raisins were listed in the recipe, but I opted to leave them out.  Knew they wouldn't go over to well.)

Yum.  Filling.

Roll it up in a long log, sealing the edges.


Place in bread pan, arranged in two rows.  Let rise for 2 to 2 3/4 hours.  Mix more sugar and cinnamon, carefully brush tops with an egg wash, and sprinkle with sugar mixture.

Bake.  Cool.  Eat.  (I left out the cool part.)

So good.  Mmmm.  And it was right.  It didn't need butter or jam.  I actually ended up with two regular loaves, and two smaller loaves.  No complaining here.  I would highly recommend making this Babka. It would make a great Sunday afternoon snack... just be sure to make the dough, and let it chill all night.  There's nothing wrong with planning ahead.

Go to Michelle's blog for the full recipe.

22 February 2012

bake 52: peanut butter cookies

Yum!!  LOVE peanut butter cookies.  I was excited to try this one, and interested to see just how good this cookie recipe was.  Course, when I saw that it called for 1 cup... yup, 1 (WHOLE) cup of peanut butter, I was pretty sure that it would be fabulous.  It was.

Pretty much a normal cookie recipe... mix dry ingredients and set aside.  Cream the butter and sugar.  Adding peanut butter, vanilla and eggs.

Then add the dry ingredients.

The recipe then says to roll the dough into balls, but I was feeling lazy so I just used my great cookie scoop, and plopped them right on the cookie sheet, and then proceeded to make the crosshatch pattern with a fork, the signature look of a peanut butter cookie.  Wonder who came up with that?

Bake.  Cool.  Eat.  And then eat another one.  And another one.  And another one.  But, that wasn't me.  I didn't eat that many.  Maybe that was one of the kids?

Anyway.  Super  GREAT recipe.  It'll be my go-to for sure.  Go here, for the complete recipe.  See if you can eat just one!

15 February 2012

bake 52: Basic Pizza Dough

Who doesn't love pizza?!  And this was a great recipe to LOVE!

I'm a bit picky when it comes to homemade pizza crust.  Usually I don't love it... too thick... too bready... too undercooked, to name a few.  Pizza for me is about a thin, crispy crust, and really good toppings.  I thought this was a great recipe.  Great crust.  Simple.  Just right.

Starts with 5 ingredients:  flour, yeast, salt, olive oil and hot water.

The recipe actually suggests doing this in the food processor, but I don't have the dough blade, and I was afraid that it might not turn out right without it, so I just made it in the Kitchen Aid... and it worked great!

Mix the ingredients to form a dough.

Let rise to double.  (This picture was actually taken after it had been raising for a bit.  So, if you compare between the two risings, there may not seem to be much difference.)

Divide the dough in half and make two 14-inch pizzas.

I made cheese breadsticks out of half, and then a pizza from the other half.  It was perfect.  Used this recipe for the breadsticks.  So, even if you already have your own favorite pizza crust recipe, at the very least you should check out this recipe... it's the BEST!

As part of the recipe (well, the next page over actually), we tried the Quick Pizza Sauce.  It was okay.  I added some to it.  Originally it was just 1 can crushed tomatoes, garlic and olive oil.  So, I added a bay leaf, and some sugar.  I always add sugar to my pizza or pasta sauce.  Not a lot, maybe 1 Tbl.  Even to the store-bought stuff.  That way I can stand the store brand sauce.  Just adds a little sweetness, helps to cut the acid from the tomatoes.  Give it a try.

So, I simmered the sauce

And topped the pizza.

Then topped with cheese and pepperoni.

The recipe included some great tips on preheating the oven to the very hottest possible, 500 degrees.  Using a baking stone, on a lower rack.  I loved this crust, and will use it again.

 Great pick Betsy!  Visit her blog for the full recipe.

14 February 2012

little more valentine love...

Here's what we worked on yesterday to prepare for today...

We made sugar cookies, of course.  They were frosted later, but the kids each frosted and then ate their cookie, too fast for pictures.

During the "snow day" the girls and I made some little felt Valentines for their classes and friends.  Oh, and we did a few for Silas and his preschool friends too.  Good times.

See that little pocket?  Perfect to tuck a few little treats inside.  Here's where the idea came from.

And then lastly, we actually did this one today, and I thought it was a such a great idea from my sister-in-law.  She was super prepared and talked with each of her kids before hand... anyway, here's how it works;  individually, talk with each child and have them write (or help them write), something they love about each person in the family.  Then this morning when the kids got up for school, all of their hearts were tapped on the wall.  During breakfast they each took their hearts down and read them to each other.  My one little nephew kept squealing with excitement every time his name was read.  So cute.  So, even though I was late doing this, here's our wall.  I'm thinking we can pull them down during dinner and read them to each other.  Next year I hope to be more prepared.  Genius.

roses are red, violets are blue...

Here's a quick idea for a last minute Valentine card, brought to you by my 11-year old daughter Sadie.  She just made these for each of the kids.  She sew everything up for each photo, showing step-by-step...

First:  gather your supplies.  Card with envelope, tape, pen and candy (Runts pictured).

Second:  Write your message and address your envelope.  Sadie is really good at writing poems.  I'm sure she wouldn't mind if you wanted to borrow one of hers.

Seal your envelope and hide in a special place to present to your Valentine.  Have a LOVING day!

08 February 2012

Bake 52: Challah

Bread. Yum. I had no idea what Challah meant or was, etc. So I did a little research, (straight to Wikipedia, of course). Here's their definition of Challah... in case you were wondering too: "According to Jewish tradition... This "double loaf" (in Hebrew: lechem mishneh) commemorates the manna that fell from the heavens when the Israelites wandered in the desert for forty years after the Exodus from Egypt. The manna did not fall on the Sabbath or holidays; instead, a double portion would fall the day before the holiday or sabbath." There you go. Now you know. And, knowing is half the battle. I've always wondered what the other half is, but unfortunately, GI Joe never did expand on that one.

 On to the bread... I like making bread, or rolls. Growing-up we almost always had homemade rolls on Sunday. And probably had homemade bread more than store-bought. What can I say, I was spoiled. My mom is an excellent bread/roll maker. And, she taught me. I'm not sure that I'm as good as her, but I do really enjoy making bread. So this was a fun recipe.

 Here's a picture of the eggs, 2 large eggs and one egg yolk. Not sure why you need to see this picture, except that eggs are pretty. Yellow. Nice. Anyway, I did like that you save the white to use later to brush on top of the bread for the deep glossy shine. I always feel bad to throw the white away. Feels so wasteful.

 The flour, sugar, yeast, and salt are combined in the mixing bowl, and then the warm water, butter and eggs are then added while mixing. I usually add my yeast to the water/sugar mixture, and allow the yeast to soften and proof/grow a bit before adding the flour/salt, so this was different for me. But I listened, and followed their directions.

This cookbook is really good at giving time limits for everything... mix until the dough comes together, about 2 minutes... knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes. It's nice. And helpful. Especially I think, if you haven't had much experience with bread-making. They're thoughtful that way.

Once it's all come together, you get to knead the dough by hand a bit, until it's a nice ball. Then place in a greased bowl and allow to rise. You'll see in my pictures, that my dough ball doesn't look like THAT much bigger after rising. But it really did sit for a long time. The recipe says to leave it for 1-1 1/2 hours... mine probably sat for 2-2 1/2 hours. There you go.

 The ball is then cut into two pieces. One twice as large as the other. Then each piece is cut into 3 pieces. Rolled into ropes, and braided.

The larger braid goes on the bottom, and is brushed with the egg wash. Then the smaller braid is placed on top, ends tucked under, and allowed to rise again.

 When the rising is complete. The whole thing is brushed with egg wash, sprinkled with sesame seeds or poppy seeds, and baked.

 And the finished product. I think it looks marvelous. And it was really yummy too. It was a fun recipe. I liked braiding the bread, and the end look, was just fun. The book said to try it the next day as french toast. We have yet to test this one out... but I'm thinking that might be a good idea.

 For the complete recipe, check out Jennifer's blog for the full recipe.