Browsing the blog archives for July, 2012.

Homemade Caramel


This is going to be a quick post because I really need to attack my chore list early today so I can get going on my Ravelympics project. It’s day 5, which is a little late for a 17 day event, but I’m all over it. I don’t know which site to link to to talk about this so I will make tomorrow’s Work In Progress Wednesday post all about it. Very quick history though is that in 2006 a popular knitting blogger who also really liked to watch the winter Olympics had this idea that for the time period of the official Olympics, we should all knit something extremely challenging. ‘We’ being all of us who read her blog. It was fun, I made Wee One #2 (who was just a few months old at the time) a sweater. Then the next time the Olympics rolled around we did it again, but this time her blog was bigger so there were more knitters joining in. Eventually, Ravelry was born (sort of like Facebook for knitters) and every Olympic year since the tradition has kept going.

I promise to write a detailed post tomorrow because I’d love to have all the links in one place for myself and other knitters, but a lot of non-knitters are curious. There are so many different ‘teams’ on Ravelry, ranging from type of finished project to geographic location to just fun and silly things. The official ‘group’ on Ravelry also has knitting ‘events’ much like the actual Olympics. There is little organization to it, so there are often multiple groups for the same things. I am joining a local one to the South Bay of Los Angeles and probably whichever modular group (for my puff blanket) my sister is in. Eeeee! So fun!!

Extremely simple caramel recipe!! I initially made this to use in the Snickers Bars I recently made, but since then I’ve used it as an ice cream topping, dip for apple slices and berry skewers. The only thing that can throw you off here is allowing the caramel to stop boiling when you add the cream – so don’t!

Homemade Caramel

2 cups sugar
2 cups heavy cream
1 3/4 cups corn syrup
1 cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla

Homemade Caramel
Homemade Caramel
Start off with the sugar, corn syrup, butter and a small amount of the heavy cream. Bring to a boil and add the rest of the cream s-l-o-o-o-o-o-w-l-y. Don’t let it stop boiling (and it will if you add too much cold cream too fast). Continue boiling until it reaches 240 degrees. Then pour it into a greased pan or a jar. If you plan to make candies with this, you can roll it into logs and wrap them in wax paper. Or you can use it in recipes! I used this caramel in the Snickers Bars I made a few months ago!
Homemade Caramel

Potato Rings on a Menu Monday

California, Domestic

Today, I’m linking up with The How To Mommy and Organizing Junkie for Menu Monday

After a whole lot of serious discussion, (involving a whole lot of meticulous pie charts made from a whole lot of painfully detailed spreadsheets), we have come to the decision that we’re going to be calling Los Angeles home for the foreseeable future. Of course this decision would have been a whole lot easier to arrive at if all we had to weigh was palm trees and beaches against pine trees and snow. I mention this to both explain my absence and to light a fire under me to post more shots of all we’ve been up to in California. More photos later this week, today is Menu Monday, so let’s get to it.

This Week’s Menu (Monday July 30 – Sunday August 5)

Monday – Chicken and Waffles (a la Roscoes) with Blueberry Pie for dessert

Tuesday – Chicken Pockets with Rice and Corn and Vanilla Cupcakes for dessert

Wednesday – Chicken Pieces, Onion Rings, Fries and Salad with Homemade Chocolate Pudding for dessert

Thursday – Spaghetti with Meatballs and Garlic Bread with Cinnamon Buns for dessert

Friday – Homemade Individual Pizzas and Calzones with Cheesy Bread and Chocolate Chip Cookies for dessert

Saturday – Breaded Cod with Green Beans and Rice and Chocolate Cupcakes for dessert

Sunday – Breaded Chicken Breasts with Bacon Mashed Potatoes and Corn on the Cob with Frosted Brownies for Dessert

This spiced up version of the buttermilk fried chicken I made a couple of months ago was the perfect partner to these hybrid french fry/onion ring creations, which are really just a potato-ed up version of my favorite Leek Ring recipe. I was originally inspired by this post over at Spoon Fork Bacon but I ended up going in a totally different direction because we decided we wanted more of an onion ring base. I will eventually try the original recipe!

potato rings and fried chicken pieces

Potato-y Onion Rings:
1 cup cornstarch
1 cup flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 egg
2 cooked and cooled potatoes, mashed
1 cup cold water
2 tablespoons oil
2 teaspoons parsley flakes
2 teaspoons steak seasoning (yes really)
3-4 onions, cut into rings
Chicken Pieces:
this recipe plus about 1 teaspoon chili powder and a few squirts of your favorite hot sauce
potato rings and fried chicken pieces
potato rings and fried chicken pieces
Just as with the original version of this recipe, fill a shallow(ish) bowl with the buttermilk and add the spices. Mix it up and plunk in your chicken. Let it sit in the fridge for about six hours. Once you’re ready to get frying heat your oil in a tall pot and get your coating ready, which is just the standard herbed flour mixture listed in the original recipe.
potato rings and fried chicken pieces
potato rings and fried chicken pieces
Shake off the excess buttermilk mixture and toss each piece of chicken in the flour mixture until it’s completely coated and then pop into the oil for about 6 minutes. I put about 10-15 pieces in at a time.
potato rings and fried chicken pieces
These go over really, really well at our house.
potato rings and fried chicken pieces
potato rings and fried chicken pieces
The potato rings are so simple it’s a little ridiculous. Literally mix all of the ingredients in a large bowl and coat your onions before putting them in the oil the same way as the chicken. The big difference here is watch them, do not make the mistake of turning your back for a second. They’re browned and ready in about a minute. That’s it! Then they can join their fried friends on some paper towel while one of your kitchen helpers makes a salad to redeem this meal a little. Unless they make a ceaser!
potato rings and fried chicken pieces
I had to make french fries too because the concept of these ‘potatoy onion rings’ was just too weird for the wee ones.

Softest Chocolate Chip Cookies Ever

Domestic, Kids

I know some people prefer a crunch with their cookies, and occasionally I’ll make a really crunchy cookie for the kids when they request it, but generally they love their cookies ultra soft. Ginger cookies, chocolate cookies, peanut butter cookies and yes, the beloved chocolate chip cookie are all served up really soft and moist around here (I love the wee bite marks the two littlest ones leave in them when they put them down for a drink). So I’ve been baking up different versions of all kinds of cookies for years to find exactly the right combination to get the right texture. I have succeeded with these babies right here. Normally, I like to know where a recipe came from before I post it on the blog, but in this case I think it was my granny. I found this recipe written on an index card in my kitchen when we unpacked a few months ago, which is really weird because I had to itemize every little thing we brought with us for the border patrol. So I thought I knew everything that was in the bins we brought over. Clearly then, this was the work of kitchen fairies. Let’s not question the kitchen fairies.

Softest Chocolate Chip Cookies Ever

2 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 large eggs
2 cups chocolate chips

Softest Chocolate Chip Cookies Ever
Softest Chocolate Chip Cookies Ever
In typical cookie fashion, sift together the flour, baking soda and salt in one bowl and cream together the butter and sugars in another.
Softest Chocolate Chip Cookies Ever
Softest Chocolate Chip Cookies Ever
I cream the butter and sugars in the Kitchen Aid and them slowly pour the flour mixture into the butter mixture with the machine on low. Then I take the bowl off the stand and stir the chocolate chips in with a wooden spoon. The wooden spoon makes me feel old school and justifies my ridiculous (and by ridiculous I mean fabulous) apron. Then bake 375 for 9 minutes. The timing is the key to the softness of these guys. They’ll seem borderline mushy, don’t fret. Let them cool on the cookie sheet for a few minutes before you move them to a rack (or a plate) to cool off completely so they don’t stick together in the cookie jar!
Softest Chocolate Chip Cookies Ever

‘Cream Cheese’ Filled Strawberries


Generally, a bowl of strawberries doesn’t need any dressing up around here. All of the kids will devour a bowl without any sugar on them, without them being dipped in chocolate (though that never hurts, especially if it’s dark chocolate). Sometimes, though, I feel like a little something and these little somethings are just the thing. No dairy, just a little hit of sugar and a tofu punch at the same time! Totally impossible to eat just one.

Let’s get educational, shall we? What’s so great about strawberries and tofu anyway? Weeeell, since you asked…

What’s so great about strawberries?
-1 cup of strawberries has 141% of your vitamin C for the day and 28% of your manganese (not to mention the fiber, folate, iodine, potassium, magnesium, vitamin k and omega 3 fats)
-cardiovascular support and prevention of cardiovascular diseases
-improved blood sugar regulation, with decreased risk of type 2 diabetes
-prevention of certain cancer types including breast, cervical, colon, and esophageal cancer
-amazing combination of phytonutrients–including anthocyanins, ellagitannins, flavonols, terpenoids, and phenolic acids

What about tofu?
-4 oz tofu has 43.7% of your daily tryptophan (an essential amino acid which is the key ingredient in serotonin, which promotes feelings of calmness and relaxation), 39.6% of your calcium, 34.5% of your manganese and 33.7% of your iron (plus protein, omega-3 fats, selenium, copper, phosphorus and magnesium)
-the iron in tofu is important because it’s used as part of hemoglobin,which is responsible for transporting and releasing oxygen throughout the body
-…and hemoglobin synthesis also relies on copper, which is also in abundance in tofu
-soy protein can help to lower total cholesterol levels by as much as 30%, lower LDL (bad cholesterol) levels by as much as 35-40%
-soy protein may reduce cholesterol and the risk of heart disease
-lower triglyceride levels, reduce the tendency of platelets to form blood clots, and possibly even raise levels of HDL (good cholesterol)
-helpful in alleviating the symptoms associated with menopause

4 ounces non dairy cream cheese, like Tofutti
1/2 cup extra firm silken tofu
1/2 cup icing sugar
2 tablespoons lemon or orange juice

Just chop the tops off the strawberries and hollow them out. Pulse together all the ingredients and pipe the filling into the strawberries however you want. Pastry bag, zippy bag, spoon…whatever.
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Menu Monday – Breakfast Addition!

Domestic, Kids

I know Menu Monday is a concept meant to make dinners in busy households a little smoother, if only because you’re aware of what you’re doing before you open the pantry at 5 o’clock and I love that, I really do. I love only having to think about what I’m cooking once a week when I write the list and even then I just put together ideas and requests I’ve jotted down. While I do love serving something everyone loves (that hopefully looks pretty snazzy as well) to my fam every night, breakfast is my favorite meal to prepare for the Wee Ones.

I’m always up looong before them (occasionally, Wee One #3 will surprise all of us and get up when our alarms go off around 5am) so I have way more solo time to prep and set the table than I do in the evenings. Generally, they all wake up hungry. If they didn’t, they tend to develop an appetite when they smell whatever is going on that day. 🙂

To me, there are two important things about any meal but I try to be especially mindful of them at breakfast. It has to be packed with as many nutrients as possible and it has to be appealing enough for them to actually eat it. I mean, a bowl of Red River cereal is crazy good for you, it’s about as enticing to most people as a bowl of birdseed (my Daddy and one of my besties, Gill, however will happily sit down to a bowl of birdseed and go ‘mmmm, birdseed’). So, with that in mind, I set the table as pretty as I can with our hilarious extended vacation mismatched silverware and plates and fill their plates with fuel for the day. Kids need energy to squabble over board game rules and cover themselves head to toe in sidewalk chalk, dontchaknow!

As you know from last year, I’ve gotten sneaky with a lot of my cooking and baking so there are untraditional ingredients in a lot of their muffins and breads, but they all work in their favor and the kids either don’t know or don’t care so I keep at it. I generally serve it buffet-style. So I set out plates full of food and then each kid gets their own plate to pick and choose what they want. One of my kids will eat and eat and eat at each meal AND snack all day – my other two have supermodel appetites so they wont each as much at a meal, but they’ll come back half an hour later and ask for a snack so I just offer them breakfast again and again till lunch!

Breakfast this Week (July 16 – 22)

Monday – Cream of Wheat, Raspberries/Blueberries/Blackberries/Strawberries, Banana Bread (with cauliflower) and OJ

Tuesday – Pink Pancakes (with beets), Strawberries, Turkey Bacon and/or Tempah and Apple Juice

Wednesday – Oatmeal (with ground flax & pumpkin), Apple Slices, PB & J Muffins (with butternut squash) and Almond Milk

Thursday – Vegan French Toast, Banana Slices, Applesauce Muffins (with carrots) and OJ

Friday – Ginger Waffles, Apple Slices, Pumpkin and Pull-Apart Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Bread, and Apple Juice

Saturday – Scrambled or Poached Eggs, Hashbrowns (equal parts potato & sweet potato), Whole Wheat English Muffins and OJ

Sunday – Berry Smoothie (with spinach and parsley), Cinnamon Buns, Monkey Bread and maybe Apple Fritter Muffins

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Work in Progress Wednesday #13 – More Puffs!


I’ve been working hard this week updating our family photo site. I take a ridiculous amount of pictures in a day and an even more ridiculous amount when we’re road tripping or having an adventure of some kind. I took heaps and heaps of pictures and videos on our journey from Ontario to Los Angeles and though we’ve been here for 3 1/2 months, I just finished uploading them all this week.

Since this project was meant to be a ‘scrap yarn’ project I’m trying to work on it between projects with whatever is left from the sock I last made. The issue there of course is that I’m usually racing to finish a pair of socks for someone’s birthday (and therefore I am a week or so behind on knitting the next pair of socks). So when I finish a pair, I’m casting on for the next pair.

However. Since we’ve been in LA, I’ve been a lot more relaxed about everything. I’m sure it has a lot to do with not being ‘home’, even if we are living here for the foreseeable future. I posted a while ago that my mindset started to change just before we left Canada when I had to accept that I was going to have to start our trek down to California without having a new place picked out. That was pretty huge for me. I’m a planner. Like woah, I’m a planner. I almost want to say I was a planner. It hasn’t even been 4 months yet but I feel less of an urge to plan things now. The whole drive down here instead of stressing out about where the next hotel was going to be, we just drove on and stayed where we stayed. We got tired, Googled the closest hotel and checked in. And guess what? It was fine. It was better than fine. I was super fun and I actually felt really relaxed about the whole thing after the first night. So what does that have to do with socks? Um, everything!

In January I made a list of the 12 pairs of socks I wanted to make and who I wanted to make them for. I used to see it as a timeline (as in I have to finish Brigitte’s socks in April because that’s when her birthday is) but now I see it more like an ordered list (Brigitte got her socks at the end of May and was perfectly happy with them). I also took off a few names of people I have already knitted socks for and added a couple that I haven’t knitted for – and no projects are tied to birthdays. So I will keep knitting on my puffs until I feel like casting on for the next pair of socks in my list!

My favorite puff right now is the purple and green one in the second photo. I knew when I casted on that I didn’t have enough purple for a whole puff but in the spirit of a scrap project, I just added on the next ball of scrap yarn and kept knitting. It reminds me of our first apartment – it was green and purple. Haha. yes, really.

I am still working on that this week and today we’re meeting up with a homeschooling group in our area. I’m so excited!

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Flashback Friday #2


Last week I posted my first Flashback Friday and it was sweet and fun so I’m doing it again!

This photo is from August of 2001 of Wee One #1 and I at one of the family camps on my husband’s side. I hadn’t discovered those swimming diapers at this point and his little water-logged diaper looks totally ridic but he had a great time.

This Wee One will be 12 years old next week! What?!?

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Work in Progress Wednesday #12 – The Beekeeper’s Quilt


Today I’m linking up with Freshly Pieced

I finished the Hedgerow socks and popped them in the mail yesterday! So in the next week or so my husband’s wonderful Nanny will get her extremely late handmade birthday gift! Photos of that after these little cuties.

At some point last fall, one of my besties Talea, my sister Nikki and I all started knitting our own versions of this amazing blanket. Since it’s a scrap yarn quit, or at least that’s the idea, it’s generally worked on in between projects with the leftover yarn. Very similar that way to the sock yarn blanket comes together (the one I linked to here is my sister’s). I’ve always wanted to make a sock yarn blanket since socks are like, 90% of what I knit, but the puffs are just too cute to resist so away I went. The problem was I’d find myself casting on for new socks as soon as I finished the last pair and my ‘must do things in order’ brain would not let me put down the socks to work on the puffs. However, as I mentioned before, I’m thankfully growing out of that and have been able to put down new socks (these are next) and crank out some puffs.

Each puff takes me between 20-30 minutes, but with three wee ones underfoot I’m lucky if I get the opportunity to have 20-30 uninterrupted minutes when I’m not supposed to be doing something else. Originally I figured this quilt would take me approximately eleventy billion years to finish but then I thought, I’m sure I waste 20-30 minutes at a time doing random things. I’m just going to channel my randonmess into puff knitting and I’ll have this thing done by next year! Do not snap me from this delusion, thankyouverymuch. Right now I have 43 and I’m keeping a tally going in the sidebar, I have to see what happens when they’re all laid out but I will likely need upwards of 400 puffs! It’s going to be a fun, colorful quilt! Some of the yarn scraps I’m using are in the bag in the back of the first image. I can’t wait to see it!!

Here are a few pictures of the finished Hedgerow socks! Socks #4 for the year!

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Brown Sugar Muffins


This is another recipe brought to you via my girl Sammie. She posted about it here, in the same post that she talked about her Cheddar Baked Chicken (a recipe that I totally copied here), so here I am again, biting her style. That’s ok, we’re kitchen besties. <3 I mentioned in the Cheddar Chicken post that her family generally has the same likes and dislikes at the table as my family so if something was a hit at her house it's generally also a hit at mine. That absolutely applied here. I are a few more of these than I care to admit myself. The kids saved me from the rest of them, thankfully. I've made them maybe three or four times since. They've totally become a staple! Brown Sugar Muffins

Brown Sugar Muffins – via The Happy Housewife

1 3/4 cups flour
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup canola oil
brown sugar

Brown Sugar Muffins
Brown Sugar Muffins
Mix the flour, granulated sugar, baking powder and salt. Then add the egg, milk and oil. Fill the muffin cups 1/4 full with the batter.
Brown Sugar Muffins
Brown Sugar Muffins
Mix some cinnamon and brown sugar and sprinkle that over each muffin cup of batter and then top with the rest of the batter (evenly distributed over the rest of the muffin cups) and then top with more cinnamon and brown sugar. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes. Try not to eat them all at once.
Brown Sugar Muffins
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Happy Canada Day (yesterday)!

California, Domestic

Today, I’m linking up with The How To Mommy and Organizing Junkie

Last week, we decided that Canadians living stateside should really do it up for Canada Day. I also promise to do something fun on the 4th!

Traditionally, when making poutine, you’d use cheese curds but guess what? There is only one shop in all of Los Angeles that sells cheese curds aaaand it’s not even really in LA, it’s in Long Beach. Also? I only discovered there was a shop in Long Beach that sold cheese curds immediately after I got back to LA from Long Beach. Insert dramatic sigh. The extremely informative dude at Whole Foods that laid all this out for me explained that cheese curds have to be super fresh and there’s not a lot of demand for them down here. Then he laughed and said ‘yeah, cheese curds aren’t big in Southern California’. Then I told him why I wanted them so he didn’t think I was crazy and since everyone seems to love Canadians down here, he suggested several different kinds of cheese to use in place of the curds and I settled on Doux de Montagne. Best decision I could have made. The cheese was really, really soft and it melted perfectly. However, since my husband is not a big fan of ‘unusual cheeses’, I made three versions of poutine. Soft Mozzarella, Monterey Jack and my amazing new love, Doux de Montagne!

Recipe after this week’s menu (well, if you can even call it a recipe)!

This week’s menu is super simple, there’s a lot of exploring and adventuring to do this week. This is our first week of summer vacation from homeschooling and we’re all pretty hyped about it. I’m insisting we continue with math and of course we will all keep reading, but generally they’re free to play at the beach and have picnics at the park and spend too long in the pool so we all get pruney and play board games into the night and whatever else their little hearts fancy (within reason). Hopefully we’ll have photies up on Sunday of these adventures.

This Week’s Menu

Monday – Throwback Burritos and Cocoa Brownies for dessert

Tuesday – Throwback Burritos and Blondies for dessert

Wednesday – Hot Dogs, Hamburgers and Potato Salad with Apple Pie for dessert

Thursday – Chicken Pot Pie with Chocolate Chip Cookies for dessert

Friday – Spaghetti with Meatballs and Garlic Rolls with Chocolate Chip Cookies for dessert

Saturday – Chicken Alfredo and Ceaser Salad with Chocolate Cake for dessert

Sunday – Breaded Sole and Rice Pilaf with Ice Cream for dessert

Happy Canada Day Poutine

All you need is:
French fries
Beef gravy

Happy Canada Day Poutine
Happy Canada Day Poutine
First chop your cheese of choice into small easy to melt bits, then pop your fries in the oven and make your peameal bacon sandwich( if you’re getting all Canadian).
Happy Canada Day Poutine
Happy Canada Day Poutine
Aww look, Toronto sandwiches in love! Mr So Very Domestic and I, of course. Sorry, moving on. Plate your super hot fries and make sure your gravy is crazy hot.
Happy Canada Day Poutine
Happy Canada Day Poutine
Sprinkle your cheese bits on top of the fries and pour the gravy over top.
Happy Canada Day Poutine
If you are getting Canadian, you’re going to want to go East Coast and have a Moosehead with this.
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