Tuesday, March 31, 2009

My First Foccacia

Cathy at CFO posted a link to a post on making focaccia. Intrigued, I clicked over and decided to make some focaccia to have with dinner. Well, there it's really not new -- same recipe of water, yeast, flour (some recipes will add sugar, salt or both, but otherwise that is all you need for bread).

We really, really enjoyed the bread (even without olives because I don't do olives). There is some discussion in the post about focaccia being a start for the first time bread maker. I'm not so sure about that getting the dough in a larger pan and spreading it out is not as easy as dumping it in a loaf pan. But I think ALL bread is easy and this focaccia was beyond delicious (it was suggested numerous times at dinner that I find a way to sell the focaccia to bring in some extra income).

Monday, March 30, 2009

How To Make the World's Easiest and Best Homemade Bread

One of my New Year's Resolutions was to make my own bread. So far, so good. With the exception of a few loaves of French Bread that were free or uber cheap, I have yet to purchase any store made bread this year. I have had a lot of fun trying out new and old bread recipes.

I started with Megan's Real Lovin' Bread (or potato bread, as I call it). This is a great, low maintenance recipe and the perfect place to start with bread making. I was having issues, though, with baking two loaves at once. We never quite made it through the last loaf and I don't have room in the freezer. I also found myself needing to make bread, but either not wanting to or not with enough time to do it (being around for the second rising and all).

I happened upon a blog post about one of my favorite books, Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes A Day. I baked this bread a while ago (at last a year or so), but hated dealing with the water in the oven (steam makes for a nice crusty bread). Plus I wanted the option of sandwich bread. I found another blog post that fixed both my problems and this is now my go to bread recipe.

Because I don't want any copyright issues, you'll have to click a few places to read directions. The very simple Master Recipe is here. Then go here for directions on mixing and making the bread in a Dutch Oven (yea for now water in the oven!!).

If you want to make sandwich or "regular" bread, here is what I've been doing. First, mix the master recipe in a food safe container. Let rise for 2-5 hours. Put in fridge at least overnight. When you are ready to make sandwich bread, I have found it best to start the night before and allow the dough to rise overnight. This is a very slow rising dough! I found that half the master mix makes a decent loaf of bread. Lightly spray your loaf pan. Scoop out half the dough and form into a loaf. The longer you wait to use the dough, the stickier it will be! Just do your best and put it in the pan. Cover and let rise over night. In the morning, pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Bake for 40 minutes. Voila! Bread!

Saturday, March 28, 2009


Sorry to disappear! The little guy caught his first cold (from his older sister who loves to cover him in smooches!) and has needed lots of cuddling -- day and night! He seems better today so hopefully we'll be sleeping through the night again soon!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Homemade Granola Bars

I was perusing the April edition of Parents Magazine (and thinking about a comment I saw lately that questioned why we take parenting advice from a bunch of people who either aren't parents or who spend at least 40 hours a week away from their children...interesting, isn't it?) when I happened upon a recipe for homemade granola bars (page 70). I happen to have a box of granola cereal I received for free that no one is eating and I've been wanting to make homemade granola bars for a while. Perfect opportunity!

Homemade Granola Bars
(or my take on Parents Magazine's Cranberry-Apricot Granola Bars)
1 cup granola
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup whole wheat flour (I used regular)
1 egg
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup canola oil (I used olive)
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Add ins (raisins, dried cranberries, dried fruit, nuts, chocolate chips, M&Ms, coconut, peanut butter, etc)

Line an 8x8 (I think mine is a 9x9) square pan with foil and spray lightly with oil. Mix together granola, oats, and flour. In a separate bowl mix egg, honey, oil, and cinnamon. Stir wet mixture in to dry mixture. Add your add ins. I used raisins, dried cranberries, mini M&Ms and pecans because I had them in the house. I finely chopped the raisins, cranberries, and nuts to make the bars easier to eat. Stir together.

Dump batter in to pan and pat down (I used wax paper to push it down). Bake at 325 degrees for 30 minutes or until browned. Allow to cool. Remove bars from pan by lifting out foil and peel off. Cut in to bars.

My husband, daughter, and sister all LOVE these! It is a definite keeper!

Monday, March 16, 2009

An Irish Alternative to Corned Beef

I went to the grocery store to pick up my corned beef brisket for tomorrow and they were out. I could go get one at a different store, but the price is $.40/lb higher. At $.99/lb it is a good once a year meal, but not for $1.39/lb. Apparently I have my limits.

I am on to Plan B: Irish Boxty. I serve it with pesto mayo and sauteed peppers and onions. Pictures from the last time I made it are here.

I am slightly amused by the fact that I now have two posts about boxty....!

It'll Grow Back, Right?!?!

My husband is a high school band director. He made a bet with his students: if they received all I/Superiors at their concert band festival (a feat not accomplished in many years at this school), they could shave his head.

Congratulations, CHS Band!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Big Guy and Little Guy

Miles is the first grandson on both sides of our families. He met my dad for the first time this past week. To say they hit it off is an understatement! Miles was super fussy yesterday and I'm pretty sure it was because he didn't have his Dzia Dzia around to play with!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Taming the Milk Monster

Like many kids her age, Ella loves her milk! For the past two years I have struggled to keep her milk consumption in check. I limit her intake to 24 oz or 3 sippy cups per day, at least on most days. I rarely offered other dairy food items (cheese, yogurt, etc) so that we weren't way over the serving limit. I tried really hard to only offer milk at meals, but pregnancy got in the way of that plan. I knew that she was asking for milk when she was hungry and I would offer food instead, but she usually refused and ended up filling up on milk. In the end, I failed pretty much every single day.

Last week I started giving Ella milk in a "big girl" cup and only at the table. She can have it when she wants it, but only under those stipulations. An amazing thing has occurred: her milk consumption has almost cut in half and her consumption of food has at least doubled. I can't believe it! She has caught on to my little trick and yesterday had a fit because she wanted milk in the sippy cup. I do give her one glass in the morning in the sippy, but that is to stay off hunger until I can get breakfast together. At bedtime if she has not had her full 24 ounces of dairy, then I offer her another sippy cup of milk. For the most part, though, the big girl cup has slowed her down and got her eating!

One small triumph for Mommy....

Friday, March 6, 2009


One vow,
Two people,
Five years,
One cross country road trip,
Three states,
Three kids,
Four cars,
Four apartments,
Four cats
We are still going strong!

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Just Hanging Around

My 2 year old daughter, Ella, headed outside with her bag of pretzels the other afternoon. I peeked out the door to check on her and found her sitting on the ground, eating her pretzels, watching the big kids play football. It was just too cute!

A Quick and Easy Way To Say Thanks

My husband needed three "thank you" gifts last week for colleagues who did him a favor at work. He was going to buy them granola bars, but I talked him in to letting me come up with something cute.

I had three gift bags in my stash that didn't have baby booties or Dora on them; a gigantic stash of Johnson's Buddies Soap; and a few bags of candy from after Valentine's Day sales.

I put one bar of soap and a handful of chocolate in each bag. Much better than granola bars, if you ask me!

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