Wednesday, May 29, 2013

From Toddler to Teenager

     I have finally come to terms with the fact that my baby girl is no longer a baby, but I didn't think she would skip straight from toddler to teenager.  That little Monkey has the wit and attitude to try a saint.  Last night for example, my little brother and I were watching a movie after Monkey had gone to bed, or that's where she was supposed to be at any rate.  Then I saw a little head poke out behind the staircase.  I told her to get back in her bed.  She giggled and obeyed.  Then she came back downstairs.  I told her to go to bed again.  She bargained and argued, and I finally told her if she came off those stairs again she'd be in trouble.  She listened.  Sort of.  After our movie was over we were headed upstairs to bed only to find Monkey camped out on the stairs with her blanket and pillow, fast asleep.  She listened to her mommy and didn't come off the stairs again, but that's not exactly what I had in mind.

     In addition to being pretty good at finding the loophole in just about anything, she's also got a pretty sharp tongue in her head.  The other day we were coming through the gate on base, and we stopped at the ID checkpoint.  When the guard stuck his head in the car to check the backseat, Monkey hollers, "Hey old man would you quit looking at me?"  Thank goodness he was old and hard of hearing.  That child is going to get me in trouble one of these days.

     Besides keeping the inevitable grey hairs at bay, I've also been enjoying my down time.  It will be ending all too soon, as school starts up again next week.  In the meantime, though, I did manage to squeeze in a visit to my hometown to see family.  I had a great trip, and it was long overdue.  I missed my kitchen, though.  Since we came home Sunday I've been cooking like crazy, and I have an excuse because my little brother is staying with us.  And of course, I have to share :-)

    First up is a new favorite pasta from Quick From Scratch Pasta Cookbook, which is quickly becoming my go-to for recipes.

Ziti with Honey Mustard Salmon
You'll need:
1 lb salmon fillet
1 TBS honey
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 TBS cooking oil
1 onion, chopped
1/3 cup dry white wine
1 tsp grainy or Dijon mustard
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 1/4 tsp salt
2 TBS fresh parsley, chopped
3/4 lb ziti

     Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Lightly oil a small roasting pan.  Put salmon in the pan, skin side down.  Spread honey over the salmon, and then sprinkle 1/4 tsp pepper over the salmon.  Roast until just barely done, about 12 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fillet.  Remove from oven.
     In a medium saucepan, heat the oil over moderately low heat.  Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add the wine and simmer until about 1 TBS remains, about 2 minutes.  Whisk in the mustard, cream, salt, and the remaining 1/4 tsp pepper.  Turn off heat.  Flake the salmon and stir it and the parsley into the sauce.
     Meanwhile, in a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the ziti until just done, about 13 minutes.  Drain the pasta and toss with the sauce.


  Since I've been a slacker and have only blogged twice this month I'll share a few more things.  We've been hunting blackberries just about every night for the past couple of weeks.  They're everywhere on base!
      These are perfect for Monkey's afternoon snack and J's morning yogurt, plus I can freeze what we don't eat for later.  Not to mention they're free!  And I can use them as substitutes in a few baking recipes like this one:

Blackberry Yogurt Cake
 You'll need:
1 cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
3 TBS lemon juice, divided
Zest of one lemon
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
8 oz Greek yogurt, plain
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen blackberries
1 cup powdered sugar

     Preheat oven to 375.  Grease and flour a 10" Bundt pan, set aside.  Sift together 2 1/4 cups flour, baking soda and salt.  Mix in lemon zest, set aside.  Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in eggs, one at a time.  Stir in 1 TBS lemon juice.  Alternate beating in the flour mixture and yogurt, mixing until just incorporated.  Toss the blackberries with remaining flour.  Mix them into the batter gently.  Pour batter into Bundt pan, and place in the oven.  Reduce temperature to 325.  Bake for 1 hour or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.  Allow to cool 20 minutes in the pan.  Then turn out onto wire rack and cool completely.  Once cooled whisk together remaining lemon juice and powdered sugar and drizzle over the top.

    This is a recipe I've adapted from A Spicy Perspective, and it was delicious!  This cake seriously lasted one day in our house.  I kept having to swat J away from the kitchen.  Enjoy!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Rainy Day Donuts

     It's a rainy day here in South Mississippi, which means we are stuck inside when I was planning to bring Monkey to the pool.  Oh well, I guess that's what I get for not checking the weather.  Instead we improvised by making a fort in the living room where my little Monkey is currently enjoying a batch of homemade donuts.  I've been saying all week that I wanted to try this recipe for homemade donuts, but I've been indulging in the late mornings, so the donuts kept getting pushed off until tomorrow.  Finally last night, Monkey told me, "Mommy, you need to make me donuts for breakfast this weekend."  "This weekend" is her new catch-all phrase that means anything from "tomorrow" to "now".  I took it to mean "in the morning", and I agreed to wake up early to make them for her.
     The plan was to get up at 6 am when my hubby gets up for work.  That didn't happen since I stayed up all night reading "The Blindside".  Instead I woke up at 8 to a medley of thunder and trumpets blaring the Star Spangled Banner (courtesy of living on a military base) and realize this was going to  end up being a donut brunch.  They were worth the wait, though, and they really weren't hard to make.  It was just a lot of waiting for the dough to rise.  

Here's what you'll need:

For the Dough
3/4 cups Warm Milk
1 packet Active Dry Yeast (2 1/4 tsp)
1 TBS Unsalted Butter
1/3 cup Sugar
1 Egg
2 ½ cup All Purpose Flour
Pinch of Nutmeg
½ tsp Salt

For the Glaze
* Enough to glaze all the doughnuts
¼ cup Milk
1 tsp Pure Vanilla Extract

2 cups Confectioners Sugar

For the Cinnamon Sugar Topping
*Enough to cover all of the doughnuts
½ cup Unsalted Butter
1 cup Sugar
1 TBS Cinnamon

To make the dough:
Place ¼ cups of the warm milk in the bowl of a stand mixer.  Sprinkle the yeast over the milk.  Let sit for 5 minutes.

In a small bowl, combine the remaining ½ cup of milk with the sugar and butter.  Add it to the yeast mixture.  Stir to combine.  Add the egg and stir until incorporated.  Add the flour, nutmeg, and salt and stir until the dough starts to form.  Change to the dough hook and knead for until the dough starts to become smooth.  If the dough is too sticky, slowly add more flour until it is no longer sticky. 

Transfer to the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead for 5 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic and has formed a ball.  Place the dough ball in a large lightly greased bowl, and cover with plastic wrap.  Let sit in a warm place for about 1 hour, until doubled in size. 

Once the dough has risen, roll it out on a lightly floured surface until ½ thick.  Using a doughnut cutter (if you don’t have a doughnut cutter, you can use 2 biscuit cutters – 1 that is about 3 inches, and the other that is about 2 inches for the inner circle) cut out the doughnuts until you have no dough left.  Gather up the scraps and roll out again.  Cut out the doughnuts again until there's no dough left. (Just remember, the more you gather up the scraps and roll them out again, the tougher the dough will get.)

Place the doughnuts on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, about 2 inches apart.  Cover with a clean towel and let sit for about 45 minutes.

Preheat the oven 375 degrees F. 

Place the baking sheets in the oven on the middle rack and bake for 7 minutes, until lightly golden brown.  Be careful to not overbake; you want them to be light and doughy inside.  Let cool for about 5 minutes until ready to top with either the glaze or cinnamon sugar topping.

While the doughnuts are cooling make the glaze and/or cinnamon sugar glaze.  Each recipe makes enough to cover all the doughnuts.  I made a half recipe of each and topped half of the doughnuts with each topping.  Or you can choose to just do one of topping for all the doughnuts. (I suggest making the cinnamon sugar topping while the donuts are baking and making the glaze while they're cooling because the glaze harden quickly.)

To make the glaze:
Combine the milk and the vanilla in a small saucepan.  Heat over low heat until just warmed.  Slowly add in the confectioners sugar and whisk until the mixture is smooth.  Remove the glaze from the heat and place over a bowl of warm water.

To glaze the doughnuts, dip them halfway into the glaze and place on a draining/cooling rack set over a baking sheet.  Sprinkle with sprinkles if desired.  Let set for about 10 minutes.

To make the cinnamon sugar topping:
Melt the butter, and place in a small bowl.  Combine the sugar and cinnamon in a separate medium sized bowl. 

To top the doughnuts with cinnamon sugar, dip the halfway into the melted butter.  Then dip them into the cinnamon-sugar mixture.  Set on a draining/cooling rack to set, about 5 minutes.

     Monkey and J devoured these so quickly I had to steal J's plate in order to get a picture.  Monkey hid in her fort with her donuts, and at first refused to let me take her picture.  We both knew she's too much of a ham in order for that to last long, though.
"My donut!"