SNOW DAY!!

Ryan woke up this morning, came to our room, and announced that it had snowed “all night and the whole world was white!”. Awesome. I’m going back to sleep (no one else was up yet). But, sure enough, we woke to a winter wonderland. Coffee first, then out to play. Sorry kids, y’all have to wait.

We don’t get a ton of snow here in Seattle-ish, so when we do, it’s kind of epic. Even our medium one, who HATED the snow last year, freaked out, trying to climb out of the window in her jammies to get into it. She kept eating it…saying “eat snow, eat snow” over and over. Ryan just loves snow, too. She was practically swimming in it, and catching flakes on her tongue, and building a snowman (I even helped).

We had hot cocoa after playing outside (well, mama and daddy had coffee), and then made cookies in the afternoon. I found these awesome “message in a cookie” cutters from Pinterest (Are you on there? If not, you must be; I’ll invite you. All the cool kids are there.) and had to have them. I love them already. They come with phrases, but also just letters so you can make your own message, like our “happy snow day” ones!

I’ll admit, I don’t love snow. I don’t like driving in it, it’s cold, it’s wet. But, I LOVE the first snow. And I actually quite like running in the snow (not running WHILE it’s snowing – that sucks). But today seemed more a snuggle at home sort of day, so I did. And a good day it was.

CrockPot Mac and Cheese

No joke. Mac and cheese in the crock pot, and it was super delicious!!

1 lb package of pasta (whatever work for you, we used something spirally)

8oz cheddar, grated (more or less, if you like lots or a little)

12oz bag of frozen broccoli (I like to rinse it first, so it’s not so watery once it defrosts a bit, but whatevs)

1can condensed milk (creepy, yes, but it works, and make sure it’s not evaporated)

1cup whole milk (would likely work with 2%, but I had whole on hand)

6oz light cream cheese

(I didn’t, but I’m guessing spraying the crockpot with Pam, or a good swiping of olive oil might keep it from sticking a lot)

Precook the pasta in boiling water for 4-5 minutes.* Dump everything but the cream cheese in the crock pot. Cook it for 2-3 hours, stirring occasionally. Add the cream cheese when it’s got about 15 minutes left. Stir that in, and voila. No joke. It’s that easy. And yes, it was that good. I suspect the cream cheese has something to do with it. You could probably even add some BACON here at the end, if you want. We added shredded chicken leftover from another dinner. You could also probably add some hot sauce, bread crumbs, chili powder, or something like that to make it a little more grown up. Or just take it for the comfort food it is.

The big kid tolerated it (if it doesn’t come in a blue box, it’s apparently not “real” mac and cheese). The baby gobbled it. And Michael and I quite enjoyed it.

Let me know what you think, and if you have any variations on it!!

**Note: It seems that using FRESH broccoli (and probably NO VEGGIES) requires a bit of precooking, about 4-5 minutes, on the noodles. I did this, and my noodles were total mush, which is why I didn’t say to do it above. But I know that frozen broccoli seems to hold a lot of water, so it could be the reason. I’m going to try this again next week and experiment a bit, probably without veggies, since Ryan said she’d eat it without. Booger.

***Apparently, the precooking is quite important. Please precook your pasta. 😉

Our favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies: lactation style

These cookies are super yummy, and the special “lactation” ingredients won’t hurt anyone else in the family. The oatmeal, brewer’s yeast and flaxseed meal are all galactogogues, which help promote milk production in nursing mothers. And, well, they’re chocolate chip cookies. So that’s awesome.

The other thing I love about this recipe? Ryan found it. She was flipping through a magazine on the counter one day, saw the cookies, and begged to make them. So really, I guess they’re Ryan’s chocolate chip cookies.

Makes 24 (or 48 if you use a smaller scoop)

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
  • 1 1/2 cups oatmeal (sub 1 1/2 more cups flour instead if you’re not making lacation style)
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 2 tablespoons flaxseed meal (optional)
  • 2-4 tablespoons brewers yeast (sometimes called nutritional yeast, and optional)
  • 1 1/4 cups (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups packed light-brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups milk chocolate chips
  1. In a bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt (and flaxseed meal, brewers yeast and oatmeal, if going lactation style).
  2. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugars on medium-high until light and fluffy, 6 minutes. Reduce speed to medium-low and beat in eggs, one at a time. Beat in vanilla. Mix in flour mixture just until incorporated; fold in chocolate chips and chunks.
  3. Using a 1/4-cup ice-cream scoop or a large spoon (1/8 cup scoop for smaller cookies), drop dough onto a parchment-lined baking sheet (you should have 24) and refrigerate 1 hour. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, with racks in upper and lower thirds. Arrange 6 unbaked cookies, 3 inches apart, on each of two parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake until edges are light golden brown, 17 to 18 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through. Transfer cookies to a wire rack and let cool. Bake remaining dough using new parchment.

Unbaked cookies can be frozen on a baking sheet until firm; store in a resealable plastic bag in the freezer, up to 1 month. Bake from frozen. (Katy’s note: I think they taste better cooked from frozen. And the dough is awesome to eat straight frozen. Not that I’ve done it or anything.)

From Everyday Food, October 2009

Autumn Spiced Scones

Autumn Spiced Scones are in my oven right now, and I’ve got about 2 minutes until I pull them out. I can’t wait. My house smells like fall, and my tummy is about to be very happy.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Ingredients

2 & 1/2 cups of flour

2 tsp sugar

1 tbsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/2 stick of cold butter

2 eggs, beaten

3/4 cup milk

1 cup dried fruit

Milk and sugar for coating before baking

Directions

In a medium bowl combine eggs, milk, and dried fruit. Set this aside.

In a large bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and spices . Use a pastry cutter to cut in butter into the flour mixture until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

Add the egg mixture to flour mixture and stir until moistened.

Pour the dough out onto a lightly floured surface.

Knead the dough gently by folding until it is fairly smooth.

Lightly roll the dough into a nine-inch circle that is one inch high.

Cut the circle into eight identical wedges.

Place scones one inch apart on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.

Brush scones with milk and sprinkle with additional sugar.

Bake for 12 minutes or until golden.

Remove scones from oven and serve warm.

via Autumn Spiced Scones.

via Autumn Spiced Scones.

yeah, it’s fall

How do I know?

Not because the leaves are changing. (they are)

Not because we’re breaking out the long sleeves. (we are)

Not because I’ve thought about turning on the heat more than once. (I haven’t)

It’s not even that Ryan has returned back to school. (more on that later)

So, how do I know? Because I’m baking. Lots. It started slowly, with a desire to make muffins a few weeks back. And then scones shortly after that. And today, pumpkin scones, just like Starbucks makes, only at home, so I get to eat them warm. And now, there’s granola in the oven, smelling delicious.

I’m thinking bread is in order at some point this week…and maybe some more muffins. I adore baking and I adore fall. What else should I bake? What are your favorites? What signifies fall for you?

Scones

We make these all the time around here, and they’re a HUGE hit. In fact, I just pulled them out of the oven, and Ryan said, “do I smell scones?” A hit, I tell you. And really, not too bad for you. I use mini-chocolate chips instead, so you can use less, but still get good coverage. And if you’re out of hazelnuts, try almond slivers. Also yummy.

angry chicken: Scones and a van..

via Scones.

Blueberry Oatmeal Muffins

I don’t think I’ve ever seen children eat something good for them (shhh, don’t tell) SO fast. 4 children each had at least 2 of these over the course of a morning. And they were super simple to mix up, too.

(from Cooking Light, August 2010)

1 2/3c oats

2/3c all-purpose flour

1/2c whole-wheat flour

3/4c packed light brown sugar

2t ground cinnamon

1t baking powder

1t baking soda

3/4t salt

1 1/2c low-fat buttermilk (OK, I was out of buttermilk, milk, etc, so I used yogurt that I had on hand. It was fairly runny, so not a whole lot different than the consistency of buttermilk and it worked really well.)

1/4c canola oil

2t grated lemon rind (skipped  this as I was out, but would probably have been yummy)

2 large eggs

2c frozen or fresh blueberries

1. preheat oven to 400*

2. pulse oats in food processor and put them in a large bowl

3. add dry ingredients

4. add wet ingredients; stir until moist

5. add blueberries (if using frozen ones, toss them in 2T flour first, so they don’t mush up and turn the muffins purple) and fold gently

6. spoon into muffin tin (original recipe says it’ll make 16, but mine made more like 22) and bake at 400* for 20m or until the muffins spring back when touched. Remove immediately and let cool on a rack.

OK, as I typed this up, the children each at 2 more. They’re almost gone. They’re that good.

Firsts

I know when having a baby, you go through a series of firsts: first smile, first coo, first giant blowout diaper. But then it slows while their bodies catch up with their progress. And then it starts again.

Finleigh got her first taste of food last night, and oh my goodness, it was the holy grail for her.

She’s been trying to steal our food for ages. And we’ve been holding off. She’s only 4 months old. She’s not sitting up on her own. But she’s my baby (ok, that one’s mine, but whatever). Last night, I was making yummy Mediterranean Quinoa and set aside some plain quinoa for Fin. She was so excited to finally get some of what she’s been eyeing for weeks.

Clearly, she loved it. I think we’ve started something here.

What’s for dinner?

I picked up this book a while ago and have been wanting to cook from it, but hadn’t the chance. Well, this is the week. This whole week uses recipes from Feeding the Whole Family by Cynthia Lair and I’m super excited. The book is full of healthy meals that use whole grains and tons of vegetables, and not a lot of meat. I have no problems with meat, or with eating it, but it’s nice to find meals hearty enough to stand without it, too.

This week’s menu includes:

Polenta Pizza: baked polenta topped with veggies and cheese

Lemon Basil Potato Salad: just what it says, and sounds delish

Mediterranean Quinoa: I’ll add kidney beans for extra protein

Grilled Salman: with a ginger lime dressing, cooked on the grill

Sesame Greens: chard with a sesame ginger dressing

What are you having for dinner this week?