Tag Archives: homemade

Passionate about Baking

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Hey there! I’m SO happy to see you reading my blog and I hope that I can help inspire you, while I show you my journey.

Baking powder biscuits-a quick family favorite

Baking powder biscuits-a quick family favorite

So far I have touched down on a few things I enjoy making at home for me and my family to enjoy as meals and treats, but now I’m going to share with you one of  my true passions in life- baking!

I have been an avid cookie maker for years, perfecting my timing almost down to the second on my chocolate chip cookies, chewy and moist, but firm enough to keep their shape. I have made jam jam cookies, modifying the recipe without anyone even noticing. I have made countless batches of oatmeal-type cookies to finally find the perfect one-only to make it even better, and with my kids over the years I have made dozens of cut out cookies from gingerbread in the winter time to sugar cookies any time of year.

I have been able to make good enough breads and loaves, using both a bread making machine to fully from scratch by hand, and somewhere in between by using my super duper stand mixer. We have a couple of favorites, and I plan to experiment a little bit with some of the recipes I have here in my box to make them tastier, healthier and all around better.

I have tried to make cakes and cupcakes and I have never heard any complaints…but until they say “wow, that’s just like grandma used to make” to me it won’t be good enough.

Gingersnaps

Gingersnaps

I have made pie crust from scratch a total of twice in my life, and plan to try it again and again until I also perfect that recipe (of course using the tried and true recipe found on my shortening or lard packaging) and have made home made pumpkin pie the family couldn’t seem to get enough of (topped of course with real whipped cream) and even a sweet potato pie that no one could tell wasn’t pumpkin.

I really hope that over the next months I can begin to share my passion for baking, especially cookie making and decorating. I also hope to share my learning experiences as I go along trying out new recipes and methods I find along the way.

Crazy Grilled Cheese

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cheddar

cheddar

One thing we eat here a lot (and I mean  lots) is cheese. The ones most often eaten are probably medium or mild cheddar, mozzarella and Swiss. Every once in awhile I like to expand our tastes and buy other flavored cheeses like Havarti, Monterrey jack and pepper flaked cheese.

When I first began cooking and baking I was amazed at the amounts of different types of cheeses you could actually purchase. (I always thought that Monty Python sketch bout the cheeses was a joke…) and I sometimes still am. There are certain cheeses that I will NEVER try (headcheese for one, not bashing anyone who does like it) and others I simply cannot get enough of (cheddar, old, thank you).

One thing that everyone can agree on for almost any meal is grilled cheese sandwiches, open or closed,  with soup. I will often make this on cold winter days for a nice hot lunch, or for a quick easy meal that won’t heat up the kitchen too much during the hot hot summer months. Since we eat it so often, I try to change up the sandwiches often adding tomatoes, pickles, onions (raw or slightly fries) green and/or red peppers. I also add different sauce/spreads to the sandwiches like mayonnaise and different salad dressings (usually creamy ones like ranch).

pepper flaked cheese with fried onion

pepper flaked cheese with fried onion

Here are just a few ideas to spice up the simple grilled cheese sandwich

Use different cheeses: cheddar, mozzarella, Havarti, monteray jack, Swiss or a mixture of one or more cheeses. processed cheeses even come in many flavors if you prefer not to have to slice cheese. (deli area in the grocery store also usually has pre-sliced “real” cheese.

Add onions, tomatoes, peppers, pickles or any other veggie (or even fruit like pineapple or apple slices)

Use sauces and spreads on the inside, including but not limited to mayonnaise, salad dressings, sandwich spreads, hummus and salsa

Add meats to your sandwich, like ham, pepperoni, chicken or turkey slices, bacon or anything else you want to put into a sandwich.

Enjoy the different combinations you can make, and please feel free to post your own grilled cheese creations.

 

Cooking with kids-Pancakes

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ladybugs

ladybugs

The kids ask me to make pancakes so often I have the recipe memorized and doubled. I also ALWAYS make sure to  have the ingredients  on hand to make them  at all times.

I recently decided that the children should all learn to make the pancakes now, from beginning to end. Of course, my sweet DD wanted to help me first, and so it began. I had her gather all the ingredients that I needed- eggs, oil, milk, flour, baking powder, salt and sugar.

DD mixing up batter

DD mixing up batter

I use a very simple recipe, and basically for every cup of flour used, you use a cup of milk. (I have only ever used 2% or instant powdered cows milk making it, so I don’t know how they would turn out if I used other milks, or milk-type products)

I measured the wet ingredients, and the dry ingredients this time and let her mix them up herself. After a little mixing, I showed her how to test the pan for readiness by making cold water spatter on the pan. When the water dances,  it’s hot enough.

This time, I let her watch carefully while I poured the batter onto the hot pan and waited while the little bubbles formed on the top, letting us know it was time to flip them over. I then flipped them, and let them cook the rest of the way and removed them from the pan myself.

yummy way to learn letters!

yummy way to learn letters!

 

I think next time, she might be ready to pour the batter herself, and after trying that if she wants to I’ll let her flip them. Yes, at the young age of five. And with any luck, her big brother will learn to make them in one go, and I’ll get a nice pancake breakfast for mother’s day, sans mother’s help.

Baking with kids can be challenging,  but in the end the “training” will be worth it.20140102_094156

The Great Cookie Experiment

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In an attempt to make our food and family more healthy, and to try and get in more pulse foods (such as beans and lentils) I am trying an experiment using pulses in my cookie recipes.

Starting with a basic drop cookie dough adapted slightly from a recipe I found in an old cook book series, I am going to try to replace eggs, fats and sugars with alternatives without altering the taste too much. Which cookie dough will be best, or will I wind up creating my own in the process?  This is one experiment I am attempting on my own, but be assured the children will be part of the taste test crew, as well as baking crew on various other projects.

The first basic dough I used was a simple drop cookie dough, chocolate chip. I imagine these will be hard to keep the original flavor, as there aren’t many flavors in them to begin with, unlike other cookies that may have spices to liven them up and change the taste (and maybe cover up any not so good or different tastes).

I started the usual way, by creaming together the sugars and margarine. Usually I will add the eggs next, but I accidentally started adding the dry ingredients before the eggs. Lucky for me, the dough still turned out great. I then add the dry ingredients in three small batches, and mix fully. Finally I add the chocolate chips (or whatever other chip I may be using for the cookie) and drop by spoonfuls onto prepared baking sheets. I usually use parchment paper to help keep clean up quick and easy, and I also find my cookies bake more evenly on the bottom.

I will also be posting links to my youtube videos with how I did it.

I hope you enjoy this first in a series of Great Baking Experiments.