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Category Archives: Baking

A Special Breakfast

For quite some time, Evelyn has had an interest in making food. Her mama has done a great job including her when time and complexity of the meals allow. If she ends up being able to cook half as good as Laurel, my prospects of keeping off the weight I just lost is slim to none (sorry, bad pun).

As you can see, Evelyn has baked muffins:

And pizza:

However, now, it’s my turn! I often make breakfast for everyone on the weekends when I’m home from work. Recently, Evelyn has asked to participate. Now we’ve done it together enough that she knows the routine. In fact, she’s ready for her own cooking show. Well, that gave me an idea!

 

Apple Galette ~ {Eat Seasonal}

apple galette

We made our inaugural trip to Apple Hill for the season this past weekend. The smoke was thick here in our hometown so we got online and looked for places within driving distance that were experiencing a little more relief from the several fires burning in the northern part of California. Camino {where Apple Hill is located} was in the green so we went in search of relief. Unfortunately, we found that it followed us a bit, but it was nowhere near as bad.

We indulged in apple treats — donuts, fritters, caramel apples — and even brought a bushel home. You just can’t resist stocking up when you visit.

I’m dreaming of my own creations now with these beloved orbs of juicy juice. These apple galettes are a wonderful, sweet treat for an autumn afternoon. Very simple to compose, even the kids can help.

Apple Galette

3-4 large apples, peeled, cored and sliced
3 T. brown sugar (or more, if you like)
1 t. cinnamon
half a lemon
 
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Mix apples with brown sugar, cinnamon, and juice of the half lemon. Let it sit and mingle while you prepare your crust.
 
For crust:
1 1/2 c. flour (I used all-purpose, but whole wheat would be great too.)
1 T. sugar
1/4 t. salt
8 T. cold, unsalted butter
1/2 c. or so of ice cold water
 
Place all dry ingredients into a bowl and mix together. Cut butter into dough and mix together with your fingers until chunks are about pea size. Mix water in by the tablespoon, until there is just enough to hold dough together. Try not to overmix. 
 
Place some flour on your work surface, and roll your dough out to about 12 inches in diameter. Place dough onto a baking sheet by rolling it carefully onto your pin and unrolling it onto the sheet.
 
Arrange apple mixture onto the middle of the dough, allowing about one inch around the perimeter of the dough for folding. Once you’ve artistically arranged your apples ;), fold and pinch the dough around the apples. 
 
Cook in the oven for about 45 minutes, until crust is a golden brown. (Check after 30 minutes and place foil on top if apples are beginning to brown.)
Recipe originally appeared at Chewy Morsels.

Pumpkin Pecan Scones ~ {Eat Seasonal}

pumpkin-pecan-scones-mini-pumpkin

Are you thinking of autumnal flavors like I am?

Pumpkins. Apples. Pears. Warm Chai Lattes.

Don’t lie. I know you are.

With that hint of coolness I’ve been noticing in the air, perhaps it is safe to take that premature foray into Fall foods.  It might help to get some practice in, right?

Luckily, pumpkin comes conveniently pulverized in those small tin cans so, really, you could enjoy these all year round if you wanted.

Pumpkin Pecan Scones

This recipe originally appeared on Chewy Morsels
2 c. flour {I do a combo of all-purpose and whole wheat}
 1/2 c. brown sugar
1/4 t. ginger
1/2 t. nutmeg
1/4 t. allspice
1/2 t. cinnamon
1 t. baking powder
1/4 t. baking soda
1/2 c. butter
1/3 c. buttermilk
1/2 c. pumpkin puree
1 t. vanilla
1/3 c. candied pecans {or plain}, finely chopped
 
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
 
Place flour, sugar, spices, baking powder, and baking soda in a large bowl. Cut butter into small pieces and mix with dry ingredients until butter is the size of small peas. 
 
Mix buttermilk, pumpkin and vanilla in a separate cup or bowl. Add to large bowl and mix together by hand just until it comes together. Carefully, mix in pecan pieces.
Flour a clean surface. Pat ball of dough into a round about 1/2 in. thick. Cut into 8 triangles. Place on greased baking sheet. Bake 20 minutes, until browned at edges.

Blueberry Banana Bread Muffins ~ {Eat Seasonal}

blueberry-banana-bread-muffins

We try to up our breakfast game on the weekend. That usually involves a breakfast meat, eggs of some variety, and a sweet breakfast treat. I don’t have much time to get something in the oven before the hungry wolves enter the kitchen, so I try to keep my baking time to a minimum — half hour or less is ideal.

These guys fit the bill and they are easy enough you just might feel inspired to create them for a special treat during the week too.

Blueberry Banana Bread Muffins

3 ripened bananas
juice of a lemon
1/2 c. butter, melted
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 c. all-purpose flour
1 c. whole wheat flour
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. baking powder
1 c. blueberries {fresh or frozen}

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Prepare a muffin tin with muffin cups.

Smash the ripened bananas in a large bowl. Squeeze in lemon juice and pour in melted butter. Mix well. Add in brown sugar.

Mix together flours, salt, baking soda and baking powder in a separate bowl. Pour into banana mixture and begin mixing until just starting to incorporate. Add in blueberries. The flour will prevent them from breaking as you continue to mix. Mix slowly until well-incorporated. Mixture will be more firm than watery {but if its really dry, add a few tablespoons of water}.

Bake for 20 minutes, until inserted toothpick comes out clean. 

Makes one dozen.

Breakfast Peach Crisp ~ {Eat Seasonal}

We woke up one morning with a bunch of peaches just on the cusp of turning mushy. I had a hangry crowd. Most breakfast bakery recipes take too long from start to finish to satisfy a hangry crowd before it turns on you. But the crisp is an exception. Cut up your fruit any way you like, macerate it for a few minutes in some sugar {and lemon juice, if you like}, and mix up a crunchy topping to place atop. From counter to oven in about 10 minutes, out of the oven in 15-20. Easy peasy, lemon squeezey.

Oh, and don’t forget the yogurt to make it feel like your not just eating dessert for breakfast.

breakfast-peach-crisp

Breakfast Peach Crisp

 6 peaches, sliced
1 T. flour
2 T. sugar
lemon zest from one lemon
1/8 t. nutmeg

1/3 c. brown sugar
3/4 c. oats
1/2 c. flour
1/8 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. salt
1/2 c. pecan pieces {or almonds}
6 T. melted butter

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. 

Slice peaches and place them in a large bowl with flour, sugar, zest and nutmeg, mixed together well. Set aside to macerate. 

In another bowl, mix together brown sugar, oats, flour, cinnamon, salt, and pecans. Melt butter and drizzle over top of other ingredients. Mix together well. 

Place peach mixture into a 9×13 dish. Sprinkle topping evenly over peaches. 

Place in the oven, uncovered, for 15-20 minutes, until topping is slightly browned.

Enjoy with a generous helping of Greek yogurt.

Holiday Baking with Little Hands

Come the holidays, I spend a lot of time in the kitchen. I love to cook and bake but holiday treats are especially fun for me. If you have little ones, you know how difficult it can be to find time for regular household duties, let alone anything extra. It can feel quite daunting trying to watch them and get things done. But don’t let the lack of free time deter you from whipping up some fantastic holiday goodies in the kitchen — get those little ones involved!

mixing spoon fun

Evelyn has been working in the kitchen with me since she could sit up, so probably around 6 months. Now, I often have both girls in the kitchen with me as I spin my culinary magic. It is necessary to work with their abilities. Obviously, you won’t have an 18 month old cutting up carrots, but there is almost always something they can do to be involved. And if there isn’t, hand them some bowls and measuring cups, and let them pretend! {If you’re brave, you could always add in a cup of rice or flour to play with.}

stacking cups

Something like this? 😉

I have two sets of melamine mis en place/measuring bowls in which Evelyn measures out ingredients or simply plays with, attempting to figure out the correct order to in which to nest them. {Learning tool!!!}

DSC_0022

When I am baking cookies, muffins, pancakes {anything you measure out ingredients into a single bowl and mix up}, I measure out the ingredients into the cups or spoons, while Evelyn pours them into the bowl. When she was younger, I would assist her by guiding her hand over to the bowl and pouring with her {otherwise we probably would have ended up with it all over the counter, floor or herself}. As she’s become more adept and careful, I let her pour alone after putting it into the measuring device. Eventually, I’ll teach her how to put it into the cup or spoon herself. It’s all done in steps. As I see her mastering one skill, we move to the next.

stirring

She uses a big wooden spoon or whisk to stir up after each addition. This has to be taught too or it will likely be flung all over the kitchen. We go over the rules : the spoon stays in the bowl, we make our turns carefully, no putting the spoon into our mouths. As with measuring, I go in steps with her. First, guiding her hand as she made the turns when she was very little. She’s now at the point where she can do it alone and stay in the bowl, but I still remind her to do it gently and slowly. {And we definitely send some ingredients flying sometimes accidentally! But even I do that. ;)} Sometimes it helps to take it a few turns yourself first so that flour and such has some time to settle into the wet. Otherwise, it can be like turning on the mixer after adding flour! {You mean you didn’t want to cover the cupboard in “snow” for the holidays??} We take turns {“Mama’s turn” — five stirs — “Evey’s turn” — five stirs} so that it actually gets mixed well.

cookie dough

When making cookies, Evey likes to scoop up spoonfuls for the cookie sheet. Tablespoons work well for this. Or if you have a cookie scoop, all the better. Roll out cookies or pie crusts are also a huge hit. She adores “rolling out” the dough with the rolling pin. I have a French rolling pin {the one that tapers at the end without handles}. These are the best for all hands, young and old. You can hold it at any point to apply the pressure you need. And littles are able to grasp it further into the middle as the length is rather a far stretch with short arms. At this point, she rarely makes a dent in the rolling out process {although plenty of dents} but she likes to help. Again, we just take turns. 🙂 If making cookies, I place the cutters on the spot we will cut and she presses it down. Right now, it is difficult for her to aim the cutter well without marring the dough in other places. But we’ll get there. Little steps, always.

rolling dough

Snickerdoodles are a family favorite around here. After making up your sugar cookie dough, they, then, need to be shaped into a ball and rolled in a sugar and cinnamon mixture — a perfect task for small hands. Also, these candy cane cookies required some shaping — rolling into snake-like formation and then twisted together by holding the two bases and spinning. Maybe difficult for a toddler but test it out — sometimes you’ll be surprised at what they are capable of!

pie making

apple crumble

Apple pies are Evelyn’s favorite right now. She likes to watch me peel and slice the apples while sampling the fruit. As I mentioned, she helps me roll out the dough. In addition to adding and stirring the apples and spices, she is able to help place the fruit into the prepared pie crust. If we are doing a crumble topping, she likes to pinch bits of it onto the top of the apples.

E cooking

The stool she is standing on in this photo is the Bekvam step stool from Ikea. It is a fantastic piece of equipment for working with toddlers in the kitchen. It places her at a perfect height for working at the counter. I’ve also heard these learning towers are great with little ones at the counter. {They were just a little out of our price range.}

Another important thing is to establish a safe zone away from the oven. At the edge of our kitchen is a carpeted area. Evelyn is required to be standing on the carpet when the oven door opens. She’s so good about it now that if I even mention the oven, she’ll go running over to it to get out of the way.

 

I will not pretend that this makes things more efficient. It doesn’t. It slows you down. But at the very least you won’t have to attempt to keep an eye on them in the other room while you’re trying to get things done in the kitchen. Sometimes, it might even be enjoyable. My daughter finds such great delight in pouring cupfuls of ingredients into the mixing bowl, I find it hard to deny her the pleasure and it brightens my day to see her so excited. Sweet memories are made of this…..

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