Food

Gifting Granola – Day 1 of the 12 Days of Shopping

rick rack is good for everything capability momcapabilitymom chanukah geltFrom my place in a chocolate centered universe, I considered that some people might mind that this gift is (gasp!) chocolate free, but I have learned that not everyone likes chocolate. Really, it’s true. So while either of these granola recipes stand on their own, if you really feel you must, oh, I don’t know, put lipstick on a pig, feel free to add chocolate kisses or Lindt truffles or chocolate coins (coins pictured are from Trader Joe’s – they have a great selection of holiday candy) to ease your mind. I package these treats in a variety of ways, tins, cello bags, parchment paper, waxed paper bags – get creative, use what you have on hand and top it with some ric rac or ribbon and a card. Add tea, coffee or hot chocolate and you have a lovely gift.

 From years past, here are my two favorite granola recipes – be sure to head over to Pragmatic Mom‘s blog to see her spin on gifting granola.

Homemade Granola Bars from Barefoot Contessa (Back to Basics)

and

Flour Bakery + Cafe Granola Bars

Martha Stewart had some adorable packaging ideas (what else is new?) on Facebook today.martha stewartLove the envelope – of course Martha has stamps that match the food inside (chocolate and hazelnut) and, yes, it is a brittle disguised as a candy bar (in case you are not buying my whole granola thing).

The 12 Days of Shopping

 Dec 1: Make Your Own Gifts Granola, Day 1 of 12 Days of Shopping – Granola versus Homemade and Personal – Granola from Flour and Barefoot Contessa.

 Dec 2: Kids Make Gifts CRAFT (ModPodge versus Clove Fruit)

 Dec 3: Personalized Gifts (Fancy Address Stampers versus Pretty Papers Giveaway)

 Dec 4:  Father-in-Law/Dad and Mother-in-Law/Mom

 Dec 5: Tutors/Teachers

 Dec 6High Tech/Low Tech

 Dec 7: Hostess/Gifts That Give Back

 Dec 8: Sanitation Engineers, Mail Carriers, Hairdresser, Delivery People, Babysitter, Cleaning People, Dog Walker/Dog Trainer, etc. (a.k.a. who else did I forget?) and Emily Post’s Etiquette on this subject.

 Dec 9: Husband, Me (Our Own Wacko List); Capability:Mom Husband/Wife

 Dec 10:  Dog/Cat

 Dec 11: Quick Gifts from Whole Foods versus Gourmet Food Store

 Dec 12: ‘Cause I Am So Together,  Last Minute Home Made Gifts:  Pragmatic Mom and Capability : Mom

 

 

Weekday Dinners

Weekday Dinners

capability mom.com blog chicken dinner easy weeknight recipesThe summer of no-cook dinners is over and it is time to pull it together and actually use my kitchen to cook. Sigh. Well, I have a few tricks to making weeknight dinners easier and I will share them with you, because I am generous like that. Also, because I am pretty happy that I figured out to do this and am bragging a little bit. Let’s not get carried away, I didn’t split the atom, I just made easy dinners. Still.

First, plan a menu for the week. Hate to do that? I know, me too. Okay. Plan two days out and make the third day an easy default recipe (something you can make with your eyes closed). Here is my Monday-Tuesday solution.

Buy two whole chickens (on sale at Whole foods for 99 cents per pound) and roast them both at the same time. Make one your Monday dinner with roasted veggies. I added potatoes and apples to the pan, any root vegetable would be great or some squash (use a separate pan for squash and apples). Note, the apples will be mush if you leave them in for the whole time, they only take about 30 minutes. Check out Martha for the best recipe, I just tossed them in whole because I’m lazy. My go-to recipe for Perfect Roast Chicken is from The Barefoot Contessa. I ran out of time for the gravy but all was devoured without. Serve with a big green salad.capability mom.com blog chicken dinner easy weeknight recipes

The next night use the second chicken for a fun Make Your Own Burrito Night. We always have tortillas, cheese, avocado, rice (we used frozen brown rice) and beans in the house, so all that is needed is some lettuce, salsa and sour cream if that’s how you roll. Feel free to sautee up some onions and peppers if you want to or add some of the roasted veggies from Monday.

Set up a station on the kitchen counter and let everyone build their own. Carve up the chicken and you are good to go. For little ones, put small containers on the table filled with the choices you most want them to eat. Have cut up some carrots, cucumbers, celery and peppers on the table for maximum veggie intake.

But Wednesday? What about Wednesday? No, I won’t leave you without. I made pork chops (again from Martha) but I think I am a little in love with Whole Foods for this:

Image from Whole Foods

;

Mini Turkey Meatloaf and Maple Green Beans Sheet-Pan Dinner

I haven’t tried it yet (found it while I was trying to make sure the Whole Foods whole chickens were still on sale). Yum. My family are recent meatloaf converts and I am running this. Only one pan? I’m there.

Note- we didn’t use all the chicken for Burrito Night so I chopped up the rest for chicken salad. Also, if you are still looking for meals, take the chicken carcasses (never a pretty word), place in water and/or boxed chicken broth with some veggies to make a soup. Add pasta or rice. I use my pressure cooker for this quick soup. So very frugal of me, don’t you think?

May Day…as in the first of May, not Mayday as in help…

although some days I do need an assist, this is about the celebration of May Day. No, not all the political worker stuff but the pagan celebration – that’s more my thing.

Photo: Wendell T. Webber

A friend is putting together a May Day Breakfast for our walking group tomorrow and I am making blueberry muffins from the Flour cookbook. No, they won’t be as good as Joanne Chang’s – no matter how closely I follow the recipe – that woman is magic – but I did a trial run yesterday with blackberries and the muffins were delicious (if I do say so myself) and I can make the batter today and bake tomorrow morning. I’ll let you know how they come out -I used fresh blackberries but wanted wild blueberries so I bought frozen packages at Trader Joe’s.

Here is the recipe – and yes, I did not have creme fraiche on hand yesterday and used Greek yogurt (is Joanne Chang reading this and freaking out? Sorry! Now I have three containers of creme fraiche in the house and ready to bake it the way you intended it!)

Blueberry Muffins

3 1/4 cups flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

4 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (it calls for kosher – use it if you have it)

2 eggs plus 1 yolk

1 1/4 sticks butter, melted (I melted in in microwave and let cool slightly before mixing with the other ingredients)

1 cup milk (okay, I had 1% but bought whole for next batch)

1 cup creme fraiche (no idea yet how many containers this will be – bought three – thought two would be slightly under – yes, I do not do conversions so I have no idea and evidently guessing is risky in baking).

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup frozen raspberries (I used a handful of blackberries – some people in my family like their muffins berry-freeGreat recipe for picky eaters.)

1 cup frozen blueberries

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and line muffin tins with paper liners.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and then add the sugar, butter, milk, creme fraiche, and vanilla.

Pour the liquid mixture into the dry ingredients and fold gently using a spatula.

Fold in the berries gently. The batter is a little lumpy but don’t worry.

Spoon into the muffin tin to fill the cups.

Bake for 30-40 minutes until the muffin tops are golden brown and let cool for 20 minutes before removing the muffins from the pans.

Now I am off to make a Martha Stewart craft for May Day. You probably have everything already, too. Paper, ribbon and flowers from your garden. I have left over paper from a project, ribbon that I am compelled to save (Every holiday my mom calls out, “Save the ribbon!” Now I have to. It’s that ingrained now.) There are some decorative scissors somewhere in the house but don’t stress that detail. You aren’t really Martha, after all.

 

Photo: Wendell T. Webber

Flower Cones by Martha Stewart

 

 

 

Julia’s Child by Sarah Pinneo – An Easy Bread Recipe and A Good Read

When I am really into a book I take it everywhere with me – confession – I even bring it into the car (sometimes I have time to read while waiting for children – don’t worry – no reading while driving!), I also take it to the kitchen while I am making dinner (sometimes that doesn’t work out very well). When I couldn’t put down Julia’s Child, it was okay because the great recipes meant it was in the kitchen for practical reasons, too.

The title character, Julia Bailey, is a mom on a mission. She can’t find healthy store-bought food that she wants to feed her children and starts making her own healthy recipes like Apple & Cheddar Muffets (which are delicious by the way). She starts making them for friends, too, and before she knows it, she is running a small organic toddler food business.

I loved Julia and completely related, below is an excerpt from the book, written by Julia as recipe notes:

“…The first time I wrote this, I put ‘organic’ in front of every ingredient. But it looked overzealous and uptight. (Don’t say it – kind of like me). What do you think?…

Author Sarah Pinneo clearly gets it and writes an funny, engaging book about trying to have her organic toddler bites and eat them, too. Don’t believe me – Check out the review on Kirkus Reviews.

Okay, I admit that I had a food mill, bought organic milk and produce and was maybe occasionally uptight and overzealous. I am in recovery now and only carry first aid kits and car blankets and a life hammer and…never mind, I’ll stop now.

Sarah was nice enough to include a recipe which is lovely, easy and delicious (I made it on Super Bowl Sunday – a great bread for soups, sandwiches and chili!)

Baking Bread for Busy Moms

By Sarah Pinneo

Writing Julia’s Child, and then working with Penguin USA on publishing it, was a lot of fun. But it was also a lot of work. When things got intense, I didn’t fail to notice the irony—some weeks I spent more hours writing about cooking for children than I did cooking for my real children.

The conventional wisdom is: write what you know. As a result, Julia’s Child is about mother guilt. And also toddlers, organic food, and green-washing. (And, to a lesser extent, goat manure and boobs. Julia’s Child is a comedy.)

Even while juggling all these topics, I’ve found that it’s still possible to bake bread. Nothing else makes the house smell more like home. My desk is in the kitchen, allowing me to sit mere feet from where the dough is rising. One feels more virtuous about scanning twitter while sitting in the same room with a bread dough you’ve made yourself. Trust me.

Due to the profusion of no-knead dough recipes in the past few years, you can bake bread without spending hours on it. But you do have to time it correctly—because it must rise for many hours. This is how I manage it, even during the busy weeks:

No Knead Bread, Adapted from a New York Times recipe by Jim Lahey

Ingredients

3 cups of all-purpose flour, or 2 cups all-purpose plus 1 cup of whole wheat

1/4 teaspoon fast acting (or instant) yeast

1 teaspoon salt

On Friday night, add all the ingredients to a big mixing bowl. Pour in 1 5/8 cups of tepid water, and stir with a wooden spoon until thoroughly combined. (My six-year old loves this job.) The dough will be shaggy and sticky.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, and set on the countertop until morning.

First thing Saturday morning, put out a silicone mat or another not-sticky surface on the countertop. Sprinkle flour liberally on the mat. Turn out your risen dough onto the flour, and sprinkle even more flour on top. Then, gently fold the blob of dough in on itself a few times. Invert your mixing bowl, allowing it to act as a domed lid over the dough, and let it rise again.

Around 10 in the morning, preheat the oven to 425. Put a large pot with a lid in the oven to preheat as well. Set the timer for a half hour, so you won’t forget to put the bread in the oven.

At 10:30, carefully remove the preheated pot from the oven. Set the lid aside.

Take the top off of your dough, and turn it out, into the pot. (It will still look like a big wet mess. Don’t panic.)

Carefully replace the hot pot lid, and put the pot in the oven. Bake for 30 minutes. Then remove the lid and bake 20-30 more minutes, until the bread has a deep brown crust.

Cool thoroughly. Right around 12:30, you will be able to enjoy fresh bread with lunch!

Any busy mother will relate to this book – it is a great read and even has tried and true recipes. (I made the bread and the muffets). The book also has great tips for cooking with toddlers like this one: Give a toddler a chopstick when it is their turn to stir the flour. Trust me, you’ll thank her for this.

Win a copy of the lovely and Julia’s Child by commenting below – I’ll add the comments from last week’s post to this one and a winner will be posted here.

Winner will be chosen by the plug-in I use so no one calls foul – And The Winner Is

This contest will run through February 13, 2012 at 12:00 pm. Winner will be contacted by email and listed here.

For good measure, follow Sarah Pinneo on Twitter and like her on Facebook.

Before I Forget Tip: I used to take along a whole avocado for a day out (put it in a bag with a baby spoon and a butter knife) as a quick portable meal or a snack for older children. Whew, it has been a while since I had to pack that way!

 

And The Winner is Sarah C! Sarah will get an email and a copy of Julia’s Child!

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