Monday, October 29, 2012

Cranberry Almond Quinoa Cookies

John sent me a recipe a few weeks ago for cookies made in part with my relatively new favorite food, quinoa. If you're unfamiliar with quinoa, Google it and then come back. I'm sure you'll find that it's considered a super food and is packed with protein and amino acids. The directions I use for making fluffy quinoa is at The Kitchn.

I have only seen quinoa used as a substitute for grains and never in cookies. My hope was that the cookies would be extra filling so that I wouldn't want to eat the whole batch.

These were really easy to make and turned out to be similar to muffin tops as far as flavor and texture go. They're a nice alternative to really sweet cookies, and I'll pretend that they're healthy since they are made with quinoa, oats, white whole wheat flour, and craisins. ;)

The recipe can be found at Bon Appetit. My only tweaks for next time would be to add a crunchy nut (like walnut), cut back the salt to 3/4 tsp (instead of 1 tsp of Morton's Kosher, which is saltier than other Kosher salt), and perhaps add a big handful of white or dark chocolate chips.

If it's cold where you are, I highly recommend enjoying a couple with a cup of chai tea prepared with a splash of milk and honey.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

independent play

LE has a big imagination. Did you know that she has a wolf named Wolfie who has lived under her tongue since just before H was born? He's invisible, so don't feel bad if you haven't seen him. She feeds him little bites of food. Sometimes LE uses two fingers to take Wolfie out of her mouth so that she can push him on her trike (he wears her helmet, of course).

I suppose some kids have imaginary friends and most probably have a whole collection of stuffed animals and dolls that are their friends as well. LE is no exception. Nonetheless, I still pause to secretly watch whenever I catch her talking with them.

A few times I've caught her singing "Head, Shoulders, Knees, & Toes" with her doll, LeLe, moving LeLe's arms to the song.

When putting a shirt on LeLe, I overheard her say, "Find my fingers, WeWe. You found dem, WeWe! You found dem!" (I used to instruct LE to try to find my fingers as a way to help her figure out where the armholes are.)

LE continues to be really into hide and seek. I'm sure I'll post about that later since I have a few photos of her great hiding spots. When she's desperate to play, she'll sometimes play it with her toys and dolls. One time I heard her put LeLe like the closet, close the door, go away, count to 10, and then announce, "Here I tum!!" Then, she ran right to the closet to find LeLe: "I found you!!"

The photos in this post are from last weekend when she was playing by herself in her bedroom. I peeked in to find her tucking her animals in on the wagon and wrapping them carefully with a blanket, telling each of them exactly where she wanted them in the wagon. 

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

pumpkin spice granola

I recently shared a trial batch of this pumpkin spice granola with a friend, and she liked it so much that she asked for a demo on granola making. She can now attest that granola isn't hard to make, it's so easy to customize, and the results are satisfying. I love being able to have exactly what I want in my pantry and not having to spend a lot of time, effort, or money.

Click here for the printable recipe.

Pumpkin Spice Granola
Makes approximately 2 quarts

3 cups rolled oats (not the quick cooking or steel cut)
2 tbs coconut oil
1 tbs cinnamon
1/4 tsp cloves
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt, heaping
1/3 cup Demerara sugar (cane sugar) or white sugar
5 tbs pureed pumpkin
1 tbs vanilla
3/4 - 1 cup total raw pumpkin seeds and finely chopped pecans
2-3 tbs ground flax seeds (optional)

Preheat your oven to 325 and line a large rimmed cookie sheet with parchment paper or Silpat.

In a 12 inch skillet over medium heat, lightly toast the oats for 4-6 minutes. Either remove the oats from the pan temporarily, or make room in the pan to add the oil, spices (cinnamon through salt), and sugar. Toast the spices and melt the sugar for about 30 seconds.

Off heat, add the pumpkin and vanilla to the spiced oil. Stir in the pecans and flax. Coat as best as you can and then stir everything with the oats.

Spread the mixture evenly over the parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for about 25 minutes, stirring every 5-10 minutes. Remove from the oven when the granola appears fairly dry.

Compact the granola together to form a 1/2 inch thick granola slab. Let it cool completely, then store in an air-tight container for about a week or freeze indefinitely.

Monday, October 22, 2012

The little things

Photos from when Hannah was 5-16 days old.

These days time has been so precious. I find myself almost constantly thinking that I want to record or document how soft Hannah's head is when she nestles her chubby cheek under my chin or the hilarious things that LE says and does. I don't want to forget all of the things that makes this time with them special.

There are so many moments that we can't capture on camera, like the millionth time before bed that John and I have taken turns singing duets with an eager, tone deaf LE in her specific order of "Ba Ba Black Sheep," "Twinkle Twinkle," "ABCD," "Skinamarinky Dinky Dink." If you ask LE, it goes, "Skaginkgink, skaginkgink doo... Eyes love you!" The last song she requests each night is "Baby's Boat" from John and "Hush Baby" from me.

We get kisses in her precise order, ranging from left cheek, right cheek, nose, then mouth. Sometimes we get a "baby kiss" on our nose, and we have to give a "teeny tiny" kiss on her nose. Sometimes we get our ears grabbed so she can move our head in the exact place that she wants it to be able to plant one.

All of her friends (Doggy, Soft Bwanket, Little Piwwow, Teddy Bear, Little Teddy, and whomever else happens to be nearby) get their assigned spots lined up in her bed. Sometimes her water sippies get a special spot on the bed; other times they sleep on her stool. Always they are exactly where she wants them, and there's no way for us to predict what she'll want that night.

I love to hear our little 2 1/2 year old say things that sound grown up, like her response to if she's ready for something: "Not quite yet" or "In a couple of minutes." Of course, I love when she says unprompted, "please," "thank you," "bless you," and her latest addition of "'cuse me." She picks up new phrases so quickly, like "That's what Daddy says." But then, she shows us how she is just a two year old by the way she confuses meals of the day and answers some questions with made up words, "a deedee and a go-bah."

I wish there was a way that I could explain, share, video, photograph all of the things that make this time special, but there's not. I'm thankful for our phones that capture some of the times that we didn't have our big camera around.

Friday, October 19, 2012

fall foods

The start of fall always bring in a renewed desire for cooking those warm comfort foods. The biggest thing in my way now is finding time. It's hard to plan cooking because who knows when H will decide to be super needy or that LE will opt out of napping for the day? Holy cats- how does anyone do anything with multiple young children? The time vaporizes.

Somehow-- mostly with John's help in corralling the kiddos-- I've made a few things that I've really enjoyed lately. I haven't taken photos of this year's new recipe trials yet, but some of last year's have shown up in our house again this year and are worth mentioning.

Sugared Cranberries (great when paired with pumpkin flavors)

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Fall is here / pumpkins & apples

The weather started to cool down the last day of September. Leaves have turned bright reds, oranges, and golden yellow. Instead of receiving a huge bounty of tomatoes, peppers, and green beans from our CSA farm (where we get a box of vegetables biweekly), we have been receiving acorn and delicata squashes, russet and purple potatoes, garlic, leeks, and onions. It seems like everywhere is encouraging us to admit that summer has passed and autumn has arrived.

So, we have conceded. John prepared the outside for the cold by fertilizing the grass, planting mums in the planter on our porch, and deflating the kiddie pool. Our tomato plants have died off, ending the seemingly endless production of cherry and grape tomatoes that they provided all summer. The first week in October is when fall scents returned to our kitchen through pumpkin pecan granola, pumpkin spice syrup for lattes, and hearty soups, stews, and curries. 

Just two weeks ago— the Saturday before the cold snap— it was way too warm to feel like fall. We skipped over the corn maze, pumpkins, hot cider, and caramel apples at our family trip to Schuster’s Farm. Our visit to Appleberry Farm, however, was rushed as we were slightly underdressed for the chill, wearing hooded sweatshirts as our warmest layer. 

Due to this summer’s drought and heat, apple production was too skimpy for the farm to allow customers to pick their own apples in the orchard. Instead, they offered bags of pre-picked apples in their little shop and pumpkins lined up out front. John and Lauren checked out the chickens outside as Hannah and I stayed inside to scope out what the shop offered. We left the farm with the pumpkin that Lauren proudly picked out, a carton of cider, a couple of cider-roasted grilled brats and freshly made cider donuts, and a half peck (5 lb bag) of apples destined to be turned into apple crisp. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Raspberry Picking

Last year, we had so much fun picking raspberries at the little organic berry farm outside of Madison. Wisconsin, like most of the US, had a terrible drought this year. That coupled with the high temps caused the raspberry yield to suffer.

Still, I loved LE's and my trips out there last year and wanted to return this year. It just happened that the short picking window fell the week that H was born. Nonetheless, with a 9 day old baby, our new family of 4 headed out to Blue Skies Berry Farm. Even though the berry availability was limited, the field was fairly empty due to school just starting back; we got first pick of the berries that had ripened overnight, allowing us to fill a couple of pints before returning home for naps.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

I'm Back!

I know it's been a really long time since I last blogged. A "couple of weeks" turned into months, and I have to say, it was kind of nice. I wish I had kept up with the personal side of the blog for the sake of keeping memories, but I just didn't feel up to it until April.

For those who don't know me personally, the reason for my hiatus was that I was pregnant!

John and I found out on New Year's Day, and I started to feel ill shortly thereafter. I have a rough time the first 4-5 months of pregnancy. I will spare everyone details. The short story is that I get very sick, tired, and lose all passions-- which includes blogging and everything that is worth blogging about. I went 4 months without using our camera!

While being gone, I re-evaluated my online life and realized that being connected to my computer so much was not a good thing. I don't anticipate blogging as frequently as before, but I would still love to share things that are going on around here.

To be honest, I wrote all of that above a couple of months ago when I was still pregnant. I've been meaning to get back into blogging for months now, but I wanted the first post to be a good, picture-filled summary of what happened during that lost time. It was hanging over my head to the point of blogging paralysis.

This morning, I read the following on the blog Not Without Salt:
“At its root, perfectionism isn’t really about a deep love of being meticulous. It’s about fear. Fear of making a mistake. Fear of disappointing others. Fear of failure. Fear of success.”― Michael Law
In the book of Ecclesiastes it talks about the problem of waiting on the perfect moment. If I wait until I’ve crafted the perfect blog post I will never hit “publish”. If I wait until I’m completely satisfied with my images I will never let them be seen. If I wait to share my food until it’s perfectly seasoned then I will never have the joy of sitting around the table with friends.  
Finally, I've realized that I just need to pick up with life where it is now and not try to fill in the gaps. Perhaps over time I'll do a few flash backs to what went on over the last 10 months.

For now, I'll leave you with a couple of photos of our new family of four.