Tag Archives: recipes

Sardines and Apple Bread

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No… not together. That, I would have to say is awful. This is not.

I’ve always had inklings that my boys were pack animals, like wolves. When the three of them are in the same space, they are golden. Remove one from the situation and their entire dynamic changes — this can often be a good thing, trust me. But somehow or another they *always* end up on top of each other, and, by extension, me.  I’ve grown accustomed to a lack of personal space. Some days it bothers me, and you’ll hear my saying, “I need a ten foot radius” — but for the most part I accept this as their way.

I don’t really know why my boys are like this. Perhaps it’s because the older two are twins and have been smack on top of each other since, well, nine months before Day One. Perhaps it’s because I work from home. Or maybe it’s that we homeschool now. It’s non-stop, all the time, all of us. Bam! You’ve got yourself a pack of wolves.

So last night the boys took their pack mentality to new heights. My youngest hopped into my bed for a bedtime story. Nothing out of the ordinary, this happens all the time. But a few pages into the book, the ‘middle’ kidlet comes in with his book, book light, blanket, and pillow. Um… okay. Sure. He gets comfy on the other side of my bed, next to the youngest. I continue the bedtime story without a word about it, and before I’m done, the last kidlet comes in and does the same. Book. Book light. Pillow. Blanket.

Have I missed something? Did I sign-up for a slumber party? Who knows, but needless to say, we ended up “sleeping” like a bunch of sardines last night. Even though we all started out in our own designated slit of the bed, the passing hours broke down all claims for space. And whether it was simply gravity pushing them to the well-slept side of the bed, a desire for warmth, or perhaps even some instinctive need to be as close to me as possible, I was pushed out of my own bed long before it was light out. So I’m up writing while they’re all warm and snoogly in my bed.

All this togetherness, and me being up *very* early got me thinking on what I could bake the pack of little ones for breakfast this cold, blustery morning. I’m going with their fave, Apple Bread.

I bake this in a springform pan, but you can use anything of a similar size. This recipe is easy, even though you’ve got two things going at once.

applebread

Apple Bread  ~  Total time: 60-70 minutes  /  Prep: 15 minutes   /  Baking: 45-55 minutes

Ingredients:

Bread
2 C           All-purpose flour
1 C           Sugar
3 tsp        Baking powder
1 tsp         Salt
1 tsp         Cinnamon
1/4 tsp     All spice
1/4 tsp     Nutmeg
1/3 C        Butter – softened
1C             Milk
1                Egg – room temperature

Filling/Topping
1 1/2 C     Peeled, chopped apples  (3-4 small/med, 2 large)
1/3 C        Packed brown sugar
2 Tbsp     Butter
1 Tbsp      All-purpose flour
1/4 tsp     Nutmeg
Dash        Salt

apples

1. Pre-heat oven to 350° – Grease pan (springform, round, square, whatever your heart desires)
I get started on the apples first so they can cook-down on the stove while I’m preparing the batter. I always peel my apples like Meg Ryan in Sleepless in Seattle — it earns me cool points with the kidlets.
2. Topping/Filling: Peel and chop apples. Place in heavy-bottom pot over low/med heat. Add in sugar and butter. Allow to melt. Stir occasionally. Add in remaining ingredients, stir until combined. Leave to cook while you prepare the batter.
3. Batter: In a medium-sized bowl, combine all the dry ingredients. Whisk together completely. (Flour should be practically flying at this point.) Make a well in the dry ingredients. Add in all of the remaining ingredients.
4. Mix together the batter. 30 seconds on low, two minutes on medium. The batter will be thick.
batter5. Decision time: Mixing and topping, or layering for filling. Your choice.
~ Mixing and topping: Take one large scoop of apples and add it into the batter. Mix well for about 10 seconds. Pour all of the batter into your prepared pan. Top the batter with the remaining apples, spread them out evenly. — this is what I do now
~ If layering the apples into the batter, pour half of the batter into the pan. Layer half of the apples evenly across. Pour in the remaining batter, and top with the rest of the apples.  — this is what I used to do
6. Bake in preheated oven for 45-55 minutes. – Allow to cool slightly before serving. I let it sit in the oven, with the door cracked, for about 10 minutes.
7. Make yourself a cup of tea and enjoy the smells coming from your oven.piece

And as I sit here in the quiet that comes from waking so early, I realize that even though we were squished together like sardines, there is a peace and comfort that comes from having all my boys within reach. Kind of like tea and apple bread.

Fresh pasta in the quick

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What else do you do when you’ve got a hankering for a pasta salad and not a single noodle in the house? Well, make your own, of course.

I’ve been interested in making pasta noodles for a while now but thought I needed some fancy flour, a special rolling pin, and a pasta machine. While that still might be true for some recipes, and a nice rolling pin would be an added bonus, I did come across a super simple recipe for a basic noodle that you can make by hand with ingredients you’ve probably got in the house.   This recipe yields a baseball-size amount of dough so feel free to double or triple.

Time commitment: 1 hour      Active time:  5 -15 minutes depending on how you cut the noodles

Basic recipe:

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp salt

1 egg, beaten

2 tablespoons water (+/- this amount based on consistency of dough, you don’t want it too dry, but definitely not wet)

Directions:

  1. Combine dry ingredients in a medium bowl
  2. Add egg into the center of dry ingredients
  3. Mix well. Add in water one tablespoon at a time
  4. Dough should be very stiff
  5. Knead dough for 3-5 minutes
  6. Let dough rest for 30 minutes (allows the gluten to relax)
  7. Roll out dough to desired consistency
  8. Cut into shape (a pizza cutter works well)
  9. Pasta can either be dried out and stored or cooked immediately. If cooking immediately, let it dry on the counter for a few minutes while the water comes to a full boil. Pasta will be cooked in approx. 15 minutes.

Adjust the salt quantity and add in some olive oil or other yummies based on your preferences. This basic pasta will adjust beautifully.

Three cheese baked polenta **Vegetarian**

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This is one of those fabulous dishes that fills everyone up, and in a house full of boys that is a bonus. You’ve got parmesan infused polenta layered with three fabulous cheeses and topped with more parmesan and baked to perfection — it is a fantastic twist on lasagna. And if that isn’t tempting enough, this recipe leaves you with plenty of remaining mascarpone cheese sitting in the fridge just screaming to be made into a tiramisu. (*hint hint*)

This is a very dense entree so I recommend serving it with a nice light salad with a vinaigrette dressing to balance things out a bit.

Time commitment: 2 hrs, 20 minutes  Active time: 20 minutes

Recipe:

Polenta:

2 1/2 cups of vegetable stock

2 cups water

2 cups polenta (corn meal)

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese (the stinkier the better)

Cheese filling:

at least 3 1/2 oz. havarti cheese – sliced

at least 3 1/2 oz. mascarpone cheese 3 1/2 oz.

at least 3 1/2 oz. your preference of crumbled stinky cheese (we use feta, but blue cheese works well)

at least 3 1/2 oz. butter – sliced thinly

1/2 cup parmesan cheese

 

Directions:

  1. Brush a loaf pan with oil. Set aside
  2. Heat the vegetable stock and water in a heavy bottomed pot over medium heat until it boils.
  3. Add in the polenta and stir continuously (sorry about all that stirring but its got to be done) until *very* thick, approx. ten minutes.
  4. Remove from heat and stir in 1/2 cup of the parmesan cheese.
  5. Spread into the prepared loaf pan. Smooth out the surface. You might want to give it a few taps on the counter to get the air pockets out.
  6. Chill for at least two hours.
  7. Preheat the oven to 350°
  8. Brush an oven-safe dish with oil.
  9. Cut the chilled polenta into thin slices – approx. 30
  10. Place a layer of polenta slices to form a base (you start with a layer of polenta and end with a layer of polenta)
  11. Top with your cheeses and butter slices.
  12. Continue layering your polenta and cheeses/butter. Finish with a layer of polenta.
  13. Sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup parmesan cheese along the top layer.
  14. Bake for 30 minutes in preheated oven, or until a lovely golden crust forms. Serve immediately.