Strawberry Rhubarb Galette

 I have mentioned before my abiding love of rhubarb. Of course when some juicy red and green stalks showed up in my local produce market, I had to buy them. But I wasn’t in the mood to make cake. Or crumble. So… Galettes? Sold. A batch of Martha’s pate brisee and the filling from this recipe(without the lavender sugar-bleah, no flowers in my food, please) later…  

All rolled out, folded around filling, dotted with butter and sprinkled with sugar

Baked at 400 until crisp, and golden brown in spots- they were probably in there for 45-50 minutes    

A close up- perfectly buttery and tart/sweet. The kids like whipped cream on theirs, I like it plain. It totally counts as breakfast too, especially if you were to put creme fraiche or plain yogurt on top!
 

Birthday Party Food

I get tired of takeout pizza. Don’t get me wrong, it is easy, delicious, and a crowd pleaser. You can bet I never turn down a piece at a party. But when we throw a party I usually opt for something different. My eight-year-old was very happy to be involved in meal planning for her own party. She chose cheese fondue, macaroni & cheese, and mini ham sandwiches for savouries 

   For dessert she requested cheesecake bites, and our family standard birthday cake, vanilla with vanilla Magnolia buttercream frosting. The cheesecake bites were so much easier and prettier than the full sized cheesecake I made for her real birthday! I used this recipe, but substituted a sleeve of crushed graham crackers mixed with 6T butter instead of the Nilla wafers for the crust. 

    
 My daughter put the cherries on top once the mini cheesecakes had chilled in the fridge.    

 True to form, the official birthday cake’s ugliness defied the laws of baking physics  

  To quote a friend of mine, “no cake in the history of the world ever folded over on itself in the pan like that.” Probably true. Thankfully a giant coat of icing and some candles disguised most of the cake’s deficiencies.
   
  

Getting Eggy With It

Dyeing Easter eggs is one of my favorite spring traditions. This year is the first that I felt the children were big enough to try blowing out some of the eggs before dyeing. Following various internet tutorials, we used my older daughter’s Fiskar’s hand drill to make the holes. 

 We broke a few, but overall the drill worked much better than any method I’ve tried before. We poked a toothpick in the hole to scramble the yolk and then got blowing. I was surprised to see that all three big kids had the lung power to do it!  

 I saved all the egg innards and made a peculiar pancake/Dutch baby for breakfast.  

Peculiar Pancake

  1. 4 eggs
  2. 1/2 cup flour
  3. 1/2 cup milk
  4. 4 T butter 
  5. Powdered sugar and/or lemon juice for serving

Heat oven to 400. Melt butter in a cast iron pan. Beat the other ingredients until well-blended and foamy (except sugar/lemon juice). Pour into buttery pan. Place in oven and cook for 20-25 minutes, until huge, puffy and golden. Shake powdered sugar over and eat!

  

   

 
 It went fast!

As you can see from my daughter’s tray, we dyed some eggs before breakfast. I have a hankering to try natural dye methods sometime soon, but for this morning we went with the old faithful, Paas dye kits made with vinegar and water. I buy three basic kits, plus a set of color cups and use three dye tablets in each cup to make for vibrant colors 

    
 My kids don’t love eating eggs, but the oldest and youngest were inspired by the pretty colors to eat a hard boiled egg each. 

   

I call that a win! Fair warning this may not be the last egg-related post this week…

Leprechaun Day

 We celebrate as often as possible. And while our heritage is mostly mutt, a good chunk of mine is Irish, so St Patrick’s Day is a personal favorite. The kids build traps to catch those tricky leprechauns, and get so close! 

   This year the children caught a shoe in one trap and a belt in the other.

   

 But they are good natured little fellows, who leave golden coins for the kids in the garden despite our attempts to trap them.     

I also attempt Irish brown bread or soda bread every year, and usually it is gross and no one wants to eat it(including me). This year’s recipe was a total winner, though!  I was going to bring a loaf to my son’s preschool, but my older daughters objected because they want it for breakfast tomorrow. I didn’t have wheat bran so I substituted rolled oats which worked just fine.

 Hope the leprechauns are good to you today!

  

My Sister’s Skillet Cornbread

  
My eight-year-old hopped in the car at pick up and said, “I’m hungry for Aunt Katie’s cornbread! Can we make some when we get home?” And you know I’m always happy to answer yes to any question that involves baking, so we got home and got started!  

 My sister’s recipe is easy, delicious, and the number one reason I bought a cast iron skillet as a 20-something.  

 As I always do, I’ve tinkered a bit with her original recipe, but it will always be Katie’s Cornbread to me!

Katie’s Skillet Cornbread

  1. 1 cup all purpose flour
  2. 1 cup corn flour (you can use corn meal, but finely ground corn flour makes for a more moist, cake-like bread)
  3. 1 T baking powder
  4. 1 tsp salt
  5. 3 T sugar
  6. 1/4 cup oil
  7. 2 eggs
  8. 1& 1/4 cup buttermilk (or milk with 1T lemon juice stirred in if you haven’t got buttermilk)
  9. 1/2 tsp baking soda
  10. 4T butter

Pre-heat oven to 400. Stir baking soda into buttermilk in a small bowl and set aside. Whisk together 2 flours, baking powder & salt in a medium bowl. In a large bowl whisk together eggs, sugar, and oil. Whisk in buttermilk mixture. Add dry ingredients and stir with a spatula or wooden spoon until just combined. It will still be lumpy. Melt butter in a cast iron (or other ovenproof) skillet over medium-high heat until it foams. Swirl it around to coat the sides of the pan. Pour in batter and transfer pan to hot oven. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.

It is plenty buttery for me right out of the skillet, but the kids like an extra slab of pasture butter melted on top. 

 She said it hit the spot!

Birthday Fudge

  
In addition to our ugly cheesecake for my daughter’s family birthday, there was a need for treats to distribute at her school birthday celebration. She has classmates with nut, wheat, and egg allergies, and I wanted to make something the most children could enjoy. So we decided on nut-free, easy chocolate fudge, with sprinkles, of course!

Easy Fudge

  1. 1, 14oz can sweetened, condensed milk(I used the organic stuff from TJ’s-annoyingly seasonal so I stock up when they have it around Thanksgiving)
  2. 3 cups chocolate chips(or peanut butter chips or butterscotch or white chocolate, as you like)
  3. Pinch salt 
  4. 2 tsp vanilla extract
  5. Optional toppings 

Mix chocolate chips, milk, and salt together and melt over a stove, or in 30 minute increments in the microwave, stirring until smooth and glossy. Pour into a 8 or 9″ pan lined with parchment paper. Smooth into an even thickness. Add sprinkles or other toppings while still warm and soft.  

 Place in refrigerator until solid, cut into pieces with a sharp knife or pizza cutter. 

Keep chilled until you serve it to a bunch of happy kids! 

  

Breakfast for Days

I love to cook and bake, but I also like to do other stuff(like knit and sleep), so when I make something that takes a bit of effort and mess, I like it to last for more than one meal. Waffles are a case in point: always delicious, always a hit, but a bit more time consuming than buttered toast. Enter my favorite kitchen tool the Cuisinart Griddler which makes the best grilled steak and chicken tenders indoors, and with the optional waffle plates makes  multiple waffles at once a snap. I use Martha’s recipe and add a scoop or two of vanilla whey protein powder to give them a bit more nutritional oomph  

Of course the batter makes a giant stack even my gang can’t get through in one meal, so I stack them up, separated by waxed paper, then wrap in foil and freeze. Super easy to throw in the toaster anytime. 

We also like bacon, but I can’t be standing over the darn pan flipping and watching. Meet my friend oven-cooked bacon: 

 Line a rimmed baking sheet with heavy duty foil and lay out your bacon. Heat your oven to 400 and pop the bacon in. Check and rotate your pan after 10 minutes. Assess done-ness and give another 5 if not crispy enough, repeat in 5-minute increments until done to your liking, and drain on paper-towel-lined plates. I cook the entire package, and like the waffles, I wrap the leftovers, refrigerate and then crisp in the toaster oven for another meal. Yum!

Dude Date: Cookies

  
My two oldest children are capable, outspoken girls, and I grew up going to all-girls’ school, in a home with a strong mother and sister. As a result, we had a sad few months around our house recently in which my son proclaimed, “I want to be a girl! Girls are better than boys.” Mind you, if he was genuinely gender dysmorphic at age 3 of course I’d support that, but given his general disposition and interests, it was pretty clear we had just been overdoing the girl power message in our house! 

Dude dates to the rescue- my son’s preschool is closed on Mondays, so we’ve developed a routine of having between 1-3 other little dudes come and play while the big girls are at school. The little fella gets to run around and yell and enjoy doing dude stuff with other little dudes that is just right for him(though I almost started crying when I encountered the mess in our living room today- the girls never seem to do quite so much in the way of wanton distruction…)

I also adore his friends’ mothers, so it is a big win for me too. Usually we just let the little fellows wreak havoc while we chat, but today we set up an activity in honor of Valentine’s Day- decorating sugar cookies!   

  My favorite sugar cookie recipe is a bit fiddly, but always turns out both decoratable and eminently edible.
Sugar Cookies

  1. 1&1/4 stick butter, soft
  2. 1/2 cup sugar
  3. 1 egg
  4. 1/4 tsp salt
  5. 2 cups flour 

Heat oven to 350. Put butter and sugar in bowl of a food processor and blitz until combined. Add egg and process until smooth. Add flour and salt all at once and pulse until it comes together in clumps. Dump out on some wax or parchment paper, gather into a ball, split in half and press halves into discs. Wrap in plastic and chill at least 30 minutes if you can. If you are in a hurry, generously flour your work surface and roll out the dough between two sheets of wax or parchment paper(this helps even with the chilled dough!). Roll out as thin as you can(1/4 inch is nice), and cut with floured cookie cutters. Bake 10 minutes. 

I made white icing and my friend did some serious food coloring mixing magic to turn it the lovliest colors. It actually did harden and get glossy on the cookies that managed to hang around long enough!

  
  
Of course we saved enough of everything so that the girls could make some after school. My oldest daughter blew us all out of the water with her bird cookie!

 

Sugar Cookie Icing- not for lovers of precision

  1. 1cupish of confectioners sugar
  2. Splash of milk
  3. Corn syrup
  4. 1/2 tsp Vanilla extract

Stir together sugar,  vanilla, and a splash(3 teaspoonish) milk. Add corn syrup until it is the consistency you like. Ours was thin enough to drizzle from a skewer onto a cookie, but thick enough not to just run off the edges entirely once it was on there. Play around adding sugar and corn syrup until you get there.

The Best Banana Bread

 Is actually mini banana muffins with chocolate chips in them! We host an informal playgroup on Mondays and purely by coincidence i had overripe bananas and made these two weeks in a row. Now one of the little dudes requests them every time he comes to our house!

  
Banana mini muffins

  1. 2-3 ripe bananas, mashed
  2. 1/2 cup sugar
  3. 1 egg
  4. 1/4 cup melted butter
  5. 1 1/2 cups flour
  6. 1 tsp baking soda
  7. 1/2 tsp salt
  8. Lots of chocolate chips

Heat oven to 350. Mixed mashed bananas with sugar, then add egg and melted butter. Whisk flour, baking powder and salt together, then add dry ingredients to wet and stir until combined. Stir in chocolate chips, then scoop into mini muffin tins lined with paper muffin cups(or very generously greased-these are sticky muffins!). Bake for 15-20 minutes, until brown and a skewer comes out clean! 

Rhubarb madness

  
Despite growing up in the northeast, I had never tried rhubarb until I signed up for a CSA box in San Francisco. I had no idea what to do with it, so defaulted to strawberry rhubarb pie. Rhubarb and I have come so far together since then… I’ve stewed it, made crumbles, galettes, but my very favorite thing to do with rhubarb is this cake

  
It sort of counts as breakfast, or snack, as it isn’t overly sweet. But it is a hit with the whole family!