Some fun in my kitchen

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The majority of our homelife happens in our happy little kitchen. There certainly has been plenty of baking lately; but here are a few other fun things that have happend in my kitchen in the last few days:

Lunch with Papa and Grandma Banana

(Please note Meg’s self-described “Princess smile.”)

What a girl!

one crazy fish

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Before you think I am the crazy mentioned in the title (posting pictures of a dead fish) let me state that Dorie-Sleeping Beauty (she is Megan’s fish) is alive and-well-she’s alive. For some reason, our fish enjoys lounging at the top of her little tank; kind of resting on the leaves of her plant; on her side. Explain it if you can…I just think she is weird.

just sharing…

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One of my favorite people posted about feeling blessed and one of the things she mentioned was her computer and the ability to keep up with those she loved. (Plus the good recipes which I am also a fan of.) I have to say, I have not been much for the blogging the last few months. I have spent my free time painting, which is also great. However, this daily post challenge has been fun because not only does it get me on to share, but also to read what you guys have been up to. (Let’s face it; when you open your reader and have 40+ feeds to peruse, it’s a little overwhelming.) Anyway, to cut the rambling short: it’s been fun to reconnect. I missed you guys. (Even those of you I see at least once a week.)

Now, for today’s picture. I finished this painting night before last and I am really happy with it. Feel free to comment, even if it’s to say that you hate abstracts. 😉

homemade marshmallows

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In followup to yesterday’s post; I’d like to report that the 2nd and 3rd batches of the graham crackers went a lot better. Bake them for 15 minutes and they are golden. (Ahem, well, literally.) Tonight, you can enjoy the creamy goodness of homemade marshmallows. I have to say I am a fan of these. They are pretty easy to whip up. They would be great dipped in chocolate or with sprinkles rolled around the edges (which are sticky until dusted). Anyway, they are a fun little treat. Please to enjoy:

Ingredients

  • 3 packages unflavored gelatin
  • 1 cup ice cold water, divided
  • 12 ounces granulated sugar, approximately 1 1/2 cups
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • Nonstick spray

Directions

Place the gelatin into the bowl of a stand mixer along with 1/2 cup of the water. Have the whisk attachment standing by.

In a small saucepan combine the remaining 1/2 cup water, granulated sugar, corn syrup and salt. Place over medium high heat, cover and allow to cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Uncover, clip a candy thermometer onto the side of the pan and continue to cook until the mixture reaches 240 degrees F, approximately 7 to 8 minutes. Once the mixture reaches this temperature, immediately remove from the heat.

Turn the mixer on low speed and, while running, slowly pour the sugar syrup down the side of the bowl into the gelatin mixture. Once you have added all of the syrup, increase the speed to high. Continue to whip until the mixture becomes very thick and is lukewarm, approximately 12 to 15 minutes. Add the vanilla during the last minute of whipping. While the mixture is whipping prepare the pans as follows.

For regular marshmallows:

Combine the confectioners’ sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl. Lightly spray a 13 by 9-inch metal baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Add the sugar and cornstarch mixture and move around to completely coat the bottom and sides of the pan. Return the remaining mixture to the bowl for later use.

When ready, pour the mixture into the prepared pan, using a lightly oiled spatula for spreading evenly into the pan. Dust the top with enough of the remaining sugar and cornstarch mixture to lightly cover. Reserve the rest for later. Allow the marshmallows to sit uncovered for at least 4 hours and up to overnight.

Turn the marshmallows out onto a cutting board and cut into 1-inch squares using a pizza wheel dusted with the confectioners’ sugar mixture. Once cut, lightly dust all sides of each marshmallow with the remaining mixture, using additional if necessary. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.

For miniature marshmallows:

Combine the confectioners’ sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl. Line 4 half sheet pans with parchment paper, spray the paper with nonstick cooking spray and dust with the confectioners’ sugar mixture.

Scoop the mixture into a piping bag fitted with a 1/2-inch round piping tip. Pipe the mixture onto the prepared sheet pans lengthwise, leaving about 1-inch between each strip. Sprinkle the tops with enough of the remaining cornstarch and sugar mixture to lightly cover. Let the strips set for 4 hours or up to overnight.

Cut into 1/2 inch pieces using a pizza wheel or scissors dusted with the confectioners’ sugar mixture. Once cut, lightly dust all sides of each marshmallow with the remaining sugar mixture and store in an airtight container for up to a week.

recipe from the food network

homemade graham crackers

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I am thinking about giving homemade s’mores to our neighbors for Christmas. I often gets these hair-brained ideas to make recipes that sound exciting and make them on a full scale before testing. So last night, I set about doing a single batch of marshmallows and grahams. (A couple of years ago I made a marathon giant batch of Chinese Christmas Cookies only to find that they really weren’t too spectacular. I drizzled them with chocolate and passed them along anyway. I also learned my lesson)

I baked the grahams up tonight. The dough is extremely flaky and needs to be well refrigerated. It was a little bit of a pain to work with. They are easy to burn, I would recommend cooking them around 20 min. However, the crackers themselves are definitely better than the grocery store variety. I think they are worth making, but I may make gingerbread for the neighbors since it is a lot of work for so many batches.

(out of the oven, before the excess sugar was brushed off.)

Here is the recipe: (via 101 Cookbooks)

2 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons unbleached pastry flour or unbleached all-purpose flour
1 cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
7 tablespoons (3 1/2 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes and frozen
1/3 cup mild-flavored honey, such as clover
5 tablespoons whole milk
2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract

For the topping:

3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

In the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade or in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt. Pulse or mix on low to incorporate. Add the butter and pulse on and off on and off, or mix on low, until the mixture is the consistency of a coarse meal.

In a small bowl, whisk together the honey, milk, and vanilla extract. Add to the flour mixture and pulse on and off a few times or mix on low until the dough barely comes together. It will be very soft and sticky.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and pat the dough into a rectangle about 1 inch thick. Wrap in plastic and chill until firm, about 2 hours or overnight.

To prepare the topping: In a small bowl, combine the sugar and cinnamon, and set aside.

Divide the dough in half and return one half to the refrigerator. Sift an even layer of flour onto the work surface and roll the dough into a long rectangle about 1/8 inch thick. The dough will be sticky, so flour as necessary. Trim the edges of the rectangle to 4 inches wide. Working with the shorter side of the rectangle parallel to the work surface, cut the strip every 4 1/2 inches to make 4 crackers. Gather the scraps together and set aside. Place the crackers on one or two parchment-lined baking sheets and sprinkle with the topping. Chill until firm, about 30 to 45 minutes. Repeat with the second batch of dough. (I just baked them.)

Adjust the oven rack to the upper and lower positions and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Gather the scraps together into a ball, chill until firm, and reroll. Dust the surface with more flour and roll out the dough to get about two or three more crackers.

Mark a vertical line down the middle of each cracker, being careful not to cut through the dough. Using a toothpick or skewer, prick the dough to form two dotted rows about 1/2 inch for each side of the dividing line. (I didn’t bother with this part.)

Bake for 25 minutes, until browned and slightly firm to the tough, rotating the sheets halfway through to ensure even baking.

Yield: 10 large crackers or about 30 squares

my cheatin’ husband

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That’s right. You heard me. For several years we have have forgone gifts for each other in favor of giving to a family in need. Over the years, there has certainly been a little fudging. We stuff stockings with things that are sometimes a little larger than a token gift. But this year, Mike laughed in the face of our moratorium on presents. He even flagrantly chose to bestow an outright gift on me tonight, fully 10 days before yuletide. While this does fit in a stocking, I ask you: is it not outright spoilage?

The answer is YES! Mike spoils me like crazy! He did give me a challenge; he wants me to post a picture every day until New Years. I figure this is a good catalyst to get me blogging again. I am even thinking about some new formatting. Be excited. I know I am. Woohoo! Thanks honey, you are too good to me!

p.s. I thought it was appropriate that my first picture on my new camera was of Mike. He is pretty cute, isn’t he?

…like a kid loves candy and fresh snow

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We had our first snow storm (well at least since early November) this week. The girls were so excited to tromp around in the yard. Megan immediately announced that we were going to play Yeti. For the next hour she made “yeti snow angels” and left “yeti droppings” around the yard for us to discover. (Which isn’t as gross as it sounds. She just poked her finger in the snow a few times. In the Backyardigans, the Yeti drops raisins because his hands are hairy and a little bit sweaty.)

It has been super fun to exerience the season with Megan. She just gets so excited about everything. She tells the checker at the grocery store and anyone else who will give her the attention, “My name is Megan. Santa is going to bring me Sleeping Beauty and a prince. Then after Christmas, we are going to the cabin!” She also does daily checks to make sure all of the ornaments on the tree are straight and turns off the lights if any of us have the audacity to turn them on. Appearantly we can’t turn them on until Christmas because they will burn out. She can’t wait to change over the advent calendar or light the advent candle. Her enthusiasm makes the holidays even cheerier. 😉 Love it! Hope you guys are loving it too!

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