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Monday, October 26, 2020

COOK: Sandwich Bread

 I know a lot of you have been waiting for this recipe, it's so easy, and tastes so much better than store bought, plus it's cheaper!  

Sandwich Bread


Ingredients:

2 Cups Warm Water (About 100-100 degrees)
1 Tablespoon Yeast
2 Tablespoons Honey
2 teaspoons Salt
2 Tablespoons Canola Oil (Vegetable Oil will work too)
4 1/2-5 1/2 Cups All Purpose Flour (White or Wheat, or a mixture of both)

Preparation:

I use my Kitchen Aid Mixer and the dough hook, if you do not have a stand mixer you can mix with a wooden spoon, and kneed by hand for twice as long.

In large mixing bowl combine Yeast, Honey, and Warm Water, let sit about 10 minutes until yeast has bloomed (it should be foamy and bubbly.)

Add in Salt, Oil, and 4 1/2 Cups of Flour.  Mix on low, until combined and not overly sticky (if still very sticky add four 1/2 cup at a time and mix.

Increase speed to to medium and let mix/kneed, for 5 minutes.  

Remove dough to a lightly oiled bowl, flip dough to cover all sides.  Cover and let rise about 1 hour until doubled in size.

Punch down and form into two loaves, place into two large loaf pans.  Cover with a flour sack towel or loose plastic wrap.  Let rise for 1 hour.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes, knock on the top and if it sounds hollow it's done.

Immediately remove from loaf pan to cool on a wire baking rack, if desired rub tops with butter.

Store in a sealed container or zippy bag for up to a week in the fridge.  Can also be frozen.


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Tuesday, September 15, 2020

COOK: Pasta Carbonara

My amazing friend Sarah, who blogs at Cloves & Buttons, has posted about Carbonara so many times I decided I needed to make it!

I looked at several different recipes, then asked Sarah for her "go-to" recipe, then made a "Frankenstein" recipe using what I had on hand, and bits and pieces of each recipe.  I was nervous, I thought I might end up with some sort of scrambled egg pasta, but it was amazing!


Pasta Carbonara


Ingredients:

8 Ounces Bacon (chopped into 1/2 inch pieces)
4 Egg Yolks
1 Cup Fresh Grated Parmesan
3/4 Cups Heavy Cream (Or Half & Half)
Fresh Cracked Pepper
1 Package (1 Pound) Linguine or Fettuccine Noodles
*Reserve 1 Cup Pasta Water 

Preparation:

Boil water for pasta, salt well, add pasta and let boil.  Drain pasta when it's almost al dente.

Chop bacon into about 1/2 inch pieces, put into a large heavy bottomed pot (I love using my 5.5 quart oval enameled cast iron, but any large pot will work.)  Cook bacon until the edges are just starting to crisp, do not drain.

In a separate bowl, whisk together egg yolks, parmesan, and fresh cracked pepper.

Before draining pasta save 1 cup of the water.  Drain and set noodles aside.

Slowly add pasta water to egg, parmesan mixture while whisking (if you don't keep the whisk moving the water could cook the eggs.)  

Add the egg and cheese mixture to the pot with the bacon, mix until well combined, then add pasta and toss to fully coat.

Serve with more grated parmesan on top, goes great with a simple green salad.

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COOK: Cheddar Potato Pierogies

 I love a good pierogi, and it was always on my list to try to make my own, but I was always afraid they wouldn't turn out.  Last week KC suggested we try to make them, so  I did some research and read a bunch of different recipes, and like I normally do I took a bit from each and gave it a go.  These were so good!  I wish I hadn't waited so long.

While this is a simple recipe, it takes a lot of time, and it makes about 50-60 pierogies, so it's best to do when you don't have other things cooking.  We made about half of the recipe on Thursday night, and then on Friday I put the rest together to freeze. 

I'll add more step-by-step pictures to this post the next time I make them.


Cheddar Potato Pierogies


Ingredients:

Filling
5 Medium Yukon Gold Potatoes (Reserve 1 Cup water after boiling)
2.5 Cups Shredded Cheddar Cheese
6 Slices Cooked Bacon (Chopped) Optional
1/2 Cup Milk or Half & Half Optional
Salt and Pepper (To Taste)

Dough
5 1/2 Cups All Purpose Flour
1 teaspoon Salt
2 Large Eggs
1/2 Cup Milk
1 Tablespoon Butter (Softened)
1 Cup Water from Boiled Potatoes

Preparation:

Filling
Put whole, unpeeled, potatoes into a large pot with cold water, boil until fork can be easily inserted.  Save 1 cup of the water, then drain, peel, and roughly chop potatoes.  In a large bowl mash potatoes, cheese, and bacon (if using).  (I use my Kitchen Aid to mash and mix, but a bowl with a potato masher works.) If you want the potatoes to be a bit creamier you can add some milk or half & half, but make sure your potatoes stay stiff.)  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Set aside.

Dough
In a large bowl mix together your flour and salt.  Create a well in the middle of the flour mixture and add in eggs and poke the yolks to break them, add the milk and softened butter and mix together using a large fork, until a shaggy dough starts to form.  Add it about half of your reserved potato water and kneed using your hands, after it's incorporated add additional water until the dough forms a ball, and is still slightly sticky.  Wrap in plastic wrap and set in fridge to rest for 20 minutes.

Assembling
Remove dough from fridge and cut into four pieces, re-wrap other dough to keep moist and set aside.  Roll dough out until it is about 1/8 inch thick.  Cut out about 3 inch circles using a biscuit cutter or a juice glass.  

Put about 1 Tablespoon of filling into the center of each round, wet the edge of half of the circle (I just dip my finger into a little bowl of water and rub it on.) then fold over and pinch the edges together until the are completely stuck together.  (I pinch going one direction and then back.  I also found it's better to pinch with the hand that you aren't using for water, otherwise you get a bit sticky!)  

Repeat with remaining dough and filling.

Bring a pot of water to boiling, and add pierogies in small batches, once they pop to the top take them out and put on a rack.  Technically you can eat them now, but I like to give them a light fry in a cast iron skillet with butter, I love the nice crunch they get.  You can also add some finely sliced onions and minced garlic to the butter for an extra pop of flavor.

To Freeze
Unless you are feeding an army you will probably have more pierogies than you can eat, but they are so easy to freeze.  After you have assembled but before you have boiled your pierogies lay them on a sheet pan or plate, without touching, and put into the freezer, once they have frozen then you can put them into freezer bags or use a vacuum sealer to proportion them out for use later.  Then you simply just need to let them thaw, then boil them!

Please let me know if you have any questions! 

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Friday, March 13, 2020

20 Fun Activities To Keep Kids Busy At Home

We got the call today that the kid's school will be closed for at least the next three weeks due to the COVID-19 (Coronavirus).  I applaud the school for making this tough choice, but then I realized I need to keep kids entertained for THREE WEEKS!

Our local Library, pool, museums, etc are all closed to, it's hard to keep kids busy, especially when you can't leave the house!  So, my son and I sat down and made a list of some fun things you can do, using things you probably have around the house, to keep the kiddos busy, and happy! 

1. Nerf Wars:  My kids can spend hours hiding and getting each other with their Nerf guns, we do make the rule that you can't shoot higher than the chest.

2. Target Practice: Draw a target on a window or sliding glass door with a dry erase marker and see who can get the most bullseyes!

3. Lego Building: This is something that my kids can do for hours!  To make it more exciting you can see who can build the weirdest car, or who can make the tallest building.

4. Make-Your-Own-Board-Game: Cut a piece of cardboard off of one of the Amazon boxes you probably have in your garage, get out the markers and construction paper, and create your own board game. 

5. Toilet Paper Roll Crafts: Since we know everyone stocked up on toilet paper, save the empty rolls and paint them and use colored paper to create fun decorations for the house.  (You can use wine corks too!)


6. Paper Roll Races: Tape empty toilet paper and paper towel rolls on the wall and see who can make the most "baskets" in a set time using bouncy balls or pom-poms.  Or see who can make the longest and track and get the ball to go down without being stuck.

7. Creative Recipes: Using a list of set ingredients have everyone come up with a fun recipe, then vote on the one that sounds the yummiest and cook it together.

8.  Write "Old Fashioned" Letters:  Older relatives love to get fun snail-mail, write them a letter, or draw a picture and send it to them, it will brighten their day and they might send something fun back!

9. Bake: It's always fun to make your own cookies or bread, click here for our favorite cookie recipes, or click on the "Baking" Label in the right hand column.  

10. Write a Silly Story: Take turns writing a sentence until you have a silly story, for extra fun act it out and record it to share with friends and family.

11. Re-Purpose: Go through the recycling bin and see who can create something new and useful from the recycling.

12. Bubbles: Fill the sink with water and dish soap, have the kiddos wash their plastic toys, while they play with the bubbles!

13. Egg Decorations: Cut egg shapes out of cardboard or card stock, then decorate them with markers, colored pencils, or crayons and then staple them all to a long string and hang the garland up.

14. Ad Libs: You can go to Mad Takes and download a bunch of "Mad-Lib" type games.

15. Build a Fort: Get out all of the blankets and pillows and build a huge family fort, then make some popcorn and sit in the fort telling stories, or asking each other silly questions!


16. Scavenger Hunt: Put notes around the house with riddles telling them where to go next, I think it's fun to do after they are asleep, then when they finally get to the end in the kitchen I have their favorite breakfast ready.

17. Temporary Tattoos: Using washable markers give each other silly tattoos, this is extra fun if you put everyone's name in a hat and pick, and then also have body parts written down (arm, leg, foot, hand) and then you give that person a tattoo on the body part you picked!

18.  Laundry Race: See who can put their folded laundry away, properly, the fastest!  (This one is more fun for the parents!) 

19. Dance Party: Turn on your favorite tunes and dance around like no one is looking!  Or have a dance off, who has the best moves?

20. Keep A Journal: Set aside 20 minutes every day for everyone to write a journal entry, if the kids are scared they can write about it, if they are bored they can use the time to make a list of what they want to do, if they are frustrated they have to spend 24/7 with their annoying little brother they can use it as a outlet for that.  


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Monday, March 2, 2020

COOK: Clam Linguine

This is the first dinner KC ever cooked for me.  I got a text message at work asking if I had a cheese grater,  I thought to myself, "Doesn't everyone?!?"  That night he came over and made me dinner.  He had also noticed I was out of dishwasher soap, and my shower curtain rod had been bent and mangled (Mr. Dustin had tried to do a pull-up using the shower curtain the week before, so it was hanging but just barely!)  So he also had dishwasher soap, and a new shower curtain rod!  Needless to say after that night I knew I had to keep him!

He left the leftovers at my apartment and the kiddos each had at least three helpings!  It's now one of the most requested dinners, and it's also very simple!


Clam Linguine


Ingredients:

2 Cans Chopped Clams 6.5 ounces each (Do not drain)
2-4 Cloves Garlic (minced)
6 Tablespoons Olive Oil
Pepper (Fresh ground is best)
1 Package (1 Pound) Linguine Noodles
About 4 Ounces Fresh Grated Parmesan

Preparation:

Start water for pasta.  Add pasta when boiling and cook per package directions.

Meanwhile, in a 10 inch pan (I use my cast iron but a skillet works just as well), heat up olive oil over medium heat, add minced garlic and turn heat to low, let cook about 1-2 minutes.  Add in liquid from the chopped clams, set clams aside.  

Mix and let simmer about 5 minutes.  Stir in clams, and let sit while pasta finishes, stirring as needed. 

When pasta is al dente drain and move to a large bowl, pour clams and sauce over pasta and toss.

Dish into serving bowls and sprinkle with Parmesan and cracked black pepper to taste.

We like to have Artisan Crusty Bread or bread sticks, and a simple green salad on the side.

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