laborofwonder

Where Whine Meets Wine

Monkey Bread Madness


Do to my love of all things Pinterest, I have an ever growing list of foods I want to make. Well, after looking through my fridge, I decided on pizza… and then I remembered this. Monkey breadish pizza. (Seriously, the pictures are so good it’s no wonder they’re on pinterest for the rest of us to drool over!)

Looks fantastic, right? Photo Credit: Confections of a Foodie Bride. (You can go there for the original recipe too.)

In the morning, Big E had called one of his uncles asking him if he could come over and play. So just as I was gathering up things for dinner making, I got a phone call asking if I’d mind some visitors for dinner time. And we were so happy they could join us.

photo credit: Biggest E

I will admit that this took a little longer to make than I originally expected. With some organization -or an extra pair of hands- it could be done a lot more seamlessly. Overall, I did find this a great way to use up some leftovers! The original recipe used cubes of mozzarella, and pepperoni. I had neither. I did have shredded mozzerella, bacon, and chicken… all just sitting in my fridge, begging to be used before they went bad.

First things first, though… the pizza dough.

  • 2/3 cup brown rice flour
  • 2/3 cup white rice flour
  • 1 1/3 cup tapioca flour
  • 2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp xantham gum
  • 2 cup water
  • 2 tbs extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp cider vinegar

Combine the flours, salt, baking powder, and xantham gum in a large bowl. In another bowl, blend the water, olive oil, and vinegar and whisk to mix. Pour the liquid ingredients of the flour mixture. Stir hard, briefly, to make a smooth, soft batter. Occasionally, I have to add a little more flour to get the batter so that it holds it’s shape. If more flour is necessary, I use tapioca flour, and add it in a tbs at a time.

Step Two

  • 4 tbs butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 6 oz mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup shredded/chopped chicken
  • 1/4-1/2 package bacon
  • 3 cups marinara sauce, for dipping

Heat garlic and butter over medium heat just until the garlic begins to brown. Remove from heat and let sit. Lightly brush the inside of a bundt pan  with garlic butter. Pull off large marble-sized balls of dough and flatten- trying to stay consistent with the size. Top with a sprinkling of mozzarella cheese (I used shredded but you could certainly use cubes. Might be easier to seal with cubes instead of shredded.), chicken, and bacon. Wrap the dough around the toppings, pinching well to seal. Very lightly brush the pizza ball with garlic butter and place into the bundt pan. Repeat until all of the dough is used. Cover and let sit for 30 minutes, while preheating the oven to 400 degrees. Bake for 30-40 minutes, until the top is very brown. Remove from the oven and let sit for 10 minutes. Turn out onto a platter and serve with warmed marinara sauce for dipping.

Not a terrific picture, but you get the idea.

These were so good… super filled. And they went fast.

Ok, so I have a confession- the photos, and story, are actually from December… but for some reason I never posted. So, today seemed like perfect day to get back in the foodie saddle! Because a)it’s cold and grey out today, which makes me think about warm, yummy food. And b) my 3 little ones are all cuddled in a blanket together on the couch. Their being so sweet I’m a little worried they’re plotting something. Seriously, they’re all snuggled in, sharing a blanket and pillow. Giving each other hugs and occasional kisses on each others’ cheeks. So I’m going to be spending time soaking all this sweetness in.)

*I just wanted to add that I made this recipe again tonight and it was even better than I remembered. Biggest and Miss helped me, and I’m not sure if they added more water/oil or what, but I did end up adding about a full cup extra of GF all-purpose flour before I could actually get it to be the consistency I needed. But they weren’t too dense or too floury or anything. They were perfect. That said… after hubby helped himself to them right out of the pan (hence no new, great photos), I discovered the bottom layer ones were not cooked through all the way- they were still a little doughy, so I threw them in for about 5 more minutes. I just didn’t want anyone trying this out and feel like I sold ’em a bag of worms! (Because that would be just gross)

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Kidtastic!


Ok, so some of you may remember this year’s Christmas cookies, or my first Gluten Free Christmas cookie experiment. Thankfully there were only a couple of batches that went to the birds (literally). If you are gluten free, then you know sometimes cooking gluten free is a bit of an experiment. Especially if you’re like me and tend to make up your own recipes. Thankfully, in the last year, there’s only been one meal that I would consider inedible. And hubbyman still ate it. After the first cookie flop and my heart sinking to my toes (it’s a yearly tradition that I have done since being a little girl.). I mean like real disappointment. Not only are Christmas sugar cookies a tradition, but the kids and I love to make them during other times of the year. Dinosaurs and trains are not just for Christmas! So I needed to figure out how to make them work! I opened a million and two windows of baking gluten free tips and read and read and read… and picked a couple things and decided to go from there. Thankfully, the next batch turned out perfect. I’m not sure what exactly made them go from flop to perfection, but I am so glad they did! So, if you’ve been looking for a fun cooking expedition to go on with your kids- this is it my friends! If your household does wheat/gluten then by all means use any old sugar cookie recipe! If you’ve been looking for a good gluten free recipe- here you go!

trains, turtles, strawberries, bears, snowflakes... there were some actual Christmasy ones in there too

Ok, let me preface this by saying that these do take up some time, say an afternoon, or an evening. That said, they are not difficult to make. Really, the kids have so much fun with the cut outs and decorating… we made three batches this year!

my sous chefs!

SUGAR COOKIES

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1 cup butter, softened

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 tsp almond extract

1 large egg

2 1/2 cups all-purpose gluten free flour

1/2 cup tapioca flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp cream of tartar

  • Beat powdered sugar, butter, vanilla, almond, and the egg. (With an electric mixer or by hand) And then stir in the remaining ingredients. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. I wrapped it in saran wrap and put it in the freezer for an hour. I put away all the ingredients and did kitchen clean up, by the time I was done and the oven was hot, it’d been an hour!
  • Heat oven to 375. Lightly grease cookie sheet. (I used a spray)
  • Divide dough into sections. I just grabbed a size that looked like a snowball to me (apparently I really am a northern girl). I kept the rest of the dough in the freezer. Roll out until the dough is about 1/4 inch thick, on a lightly floured surface. And then cookie cutter time! Sprinkle with granulated sugar or leave plain to frost and decorate!
  • Bake 7 minutes, or until edges are light brown. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack to cool. (They must cool before frosting!)
  • Repeat!

Note: It really seemed to make a difference that I kept the dough in the freezer in between batches. Especially after being rolled out and cut, the dough then gets really soft and squishy and you don’t want the flat sheets of flop that I made- so keep ’em cold!

soooo many cookies

 

If you’re needing a frosting recipe, all I do is take about a cup of powdered sugar and add one tablespoon of milk. (That was really technical, I know.) Mix. Add more powdered sugar if it’s too runny and more milk if it’s too thick. You can always add food coloring as well. And then decorate with sprinkles or whatever your heart desires- before the frosting sets!

*Sorry the pictures are not terrific… my lens was dirty and I didn’t know until it was too late! Hubbyman cleaned it, so here’s hoping for some better pictures in 2012!

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Simply Delicious


Now if you’re anything like my husband, you may be a little bit afraid of things (foods) you haven’t tried. Especially if you’re a visual person. I completely understand how the way something looks can totally throw you off, but how many times have you judged a person, a store, or a book by the way they looked only to find yourself completely surprised? This is especially applicable to vegetables.

Anyways, so I have been stocking up on veggies (the ones that are hard -or non existent- to come by during the winter) and cubing, pureeing, and freezing them! Last week I got a bunch of different squashes, along with some brussel sprouts (they are so good for you!). Now I love squash and hubby merely accepts them as good for him, but I finally found a meal chock full of veggies that my family loved and ate!!! I should really word it to say that I finally found a meal chock full of veggies that HUBBYMAN will not just eat because it’s good for him, but because he likes the way it tastes! (my kids already love vegetables, their favorites being spinach and broccoli.)

Now for the meal! It wasn’t totally meatless this time (I was trying to warm my hubby up to the idea of brussel sprouts, which he adamantly claim to dislike), but it had little meat, and we’ve since had it without. I took one spaghetti squash and about a l-2 lbs of brussel sprouts and made a delicious dinner!!

That’s right.. the way I convinced my family they loved brussel sprouts after all, is by using bacon! Want to convince your family (and maybe yourself too) to eat brussel sprouts? Try it this way!

What you’ll need:

Brussel Sprouts

3 strips of bacon

Olive Oil

Salt

Pepper

Preheat your oven to 350. Cut the brussel sprouts in half and throw in a pan (the recipes all call to throw them in a bowl for this step, but really it’s not necessary and just adds extra dishes). Drizzle with olive oil (over all of it!!), sprinkle on the salt (more than you think is necessary, like it’s popcorn of french fries!) and some pepper. I added some Lowry’s seasoning salt, because I know that’s a flavor my hubby likes. Stir in up, toss it, coat it! Make sure they’re all well-coated in the olive oil. Then make sure the halves are all faced down. I only used 3 pieces of bacon because eventually I’d like this to be eaten without! But you can use more or less (it’s good even without!). Anyhow, I just cut the bacon into  small pieces and layered in randomly through the sprouts.

Put it in the oven for about 20 minutes. Stir/shake every five minutes after until they’re nice and crispy, browning but burnt! Mine took about 30-35 minutes total They’ll be a little crunchy, but trust me, this is a good thing!

I actually did this part before the sprouts… I took one large spaghetti squash and cooked it until soft. (you can do this a variety of ways from crock pot, to oven, to microwave. I used the oven- it takes about an hour, but all you have to do before hand it wash it, cut it open, scoop out the seeds and stick it in. So you can have it cooking well ahead of time.) While the brusell sprouts were a’cookin’ I threw some olive oil in a skillet, threw in some peas (my kids -and I- love peas), some chopped spinach, a little bit of chopped garlic cloves, and just a little onion and sauteed. Next I added the spaghetti squash.

All you have to do is take a fork to the squash and it comes out all stringy and spaghetti noodley like (hence the name). I only used one half- the other half I scooped out and froze for a quick, easy, gluten free spaghetti night!!) I sauteed, then threw in my homemade spaghetti sauce! Hubbyman likes spaghetti to have a good amount of sauce so I used a whole jar! I added a small amount of pepper, seasoning salt, and basil. Stirred it all up, and voila! It was delicious! And best of all, you could really throw in whatever veggie you like best!

I also made a super yummy fruit salad! Yum! This was a delicious, healthy meal that my whole family loved!! And those brussel sprouts? Hubby and kids ate them like candy! MissE declared them, Really nummy!

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(Simple) Game Day Foods!


To go along with my football post this morning, today’s Simply Impressive recipe will be game time foods! Which is one of my favorite things about football season! One was a first time taste-testing and the other I’ve made several times, but always forgot to post it on here…and I was having a hard time deciding which to post! But after some encouragement from my facebook wall (haven’t “liked” labor of wonder on facebook yet?! Well, get on over there and do it!), I decided on both!!

The first is my trusty jalapeno popper dip! This is seriously easy and seriously good! I’ve made it a handful of times, and find myself craving this anytime there is football on! (Yes, I crave it a lot) I found it/created it when I was really craving some actual jalapeno poppers, but it sounded like a whole lot of work and time to make… naturally, I searched for an easier way to fulfill this craving! I got the basis of my recipe here, but of course, made it my own way! Not a whole lot different, but just enough that I feel more like it’s mine! (When I googled this dip this morning, a flood of websites and blogs came up, each with a little different twist. So you can do it basic or find something fancy-shmancy if that’s what you’re looking for!)

I used peppers from my garden!

2 packages (8 oz) cream cheese, softened

1 cup mayo

6 oz jalapeno peppers (I found this amount to not have much heat to it, so this last time I used a whole 12 oz jar of them plus about 2 tbs of the “juice” but we like heat!)

3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Optional Topping:

1 cup of crushed croutons/breadcrumbs (I used chili cheese GF “protons”/croutons with lots of protein)

1/2 cup parmesan cheese

2 tbs melted butter

 

Preheat oven to 350. And spray pan. (I use a square 7×7 or my deep dish pie pan)

I do this all in my food processor so that I don’t have to chop anything, but you certainly can chop the jalapeno by hand. (If you bought whole jalapeno, remember to seed them! If it’s canned, don’t drain! If they came in a jar, use about 2 tbs of “juice.”) So, I throw in my jalapeno for dicing, and then I add in the cream cheese, and cheddar cheese until well blended. You can add more “juice” if it’s very dense, as you want it to be nice and creamy!

Now for the topping. I find it kind of unnecessary, as does my hubby, but if we’re going for more of a traditional jalapeno popper look and taste, then you might want to do it. (If you do skip the topping, I’d still sprinkle the top with the parmesan cheese.) In a small bowl, mix the croutons or breadcrumbs with the parmesan cheese and melted butter, then sprinkle over the top.

Bake for 15-20 minutes. Until dip is bubbling and top is browned! My hubby prefers it served with tortilla chips (which is also an easy way to keep it GF and simple). If you want to gourmet it up a bit, I’d serve it on top of some really yummy bread! (All this talk of it, is having me reheat it for lunch!) *One note, if you’ve used the topping, when you reheat it, for the love of all things tasty, do so in the oven! Just throw it in (even as it preheats) and it’s done in a couple minutes (like 5ish).

I couldn't find a "end result" photo... but it's pretty hard to do wrong!

 

Now for the simplest, easiest, mini pizzas you’ve ever made! While cruising through some blogs, I came across this article from This Italian Family, showing where she’d made these mini deep dish pizzas from Dashing Dish (both of these blogs are wonderful! I also kind of hate them for the amazingness of their photos. Let’s just say my camera is less than mediocre and in dire need of replacing! Most people’s phones take better pictures than my camera…that’s just sad. If any of you ever hear hubbyman griping about not knowing what to get me, have him refer to this post!) Back to the pizzas…. they remind me just a little of my lasagna cupcakes, due to their saucy-ness (which is what -obviously- makes them like a mini deep dish) but they were really, really yummy. The kids were not sure about the looks of them, but when biting into it, Big E exclaimed, “This is delicious! Were you trying to trick me?” They each requested more and more.  There were no leftovers!

  • 3-4 tortillas (I used GF tortillas and threw them in the microwave for about 15 seconds so they’d be soft. If you can do wheat, go ahead and use regular flour tortillas, or make it even healthier and use whole wheat ones!)
  • 1 (15 oz can) pizza sauce- you may have some leftover (I used our homemade spaghetti sauce! sooo good! If you have spaghetti sauce on hand, just use that!)
  • 3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • mini pepperoni (or large/regular cut into 4 pieces)
  • If using already seasoned spaghetti sauce, you can omit these. If using plain pizza sauce: 1 tsp basil/oregano mix (or Italian seasoning), 1/2 tsp garlic powder, pinch of sweetener (I added one packet of stevia)
  • pinch of black pepper

*Add in whatever your favorite pizza flavorings are! (I added mushrooms to the sauce of half of the pizzas!)

Preheat oven to 425 and spray a 12-muffin tin. Lay each tortilla out individually, cutting out medium circles. (I used the lid to my jar as a guide, and the original poster used the top of her can. Can also use the top of a cup or a circle cookie cutter.) It doesn’t have to fit the entire side of the tin, just fit snuggly!

Pour pizza sauce into a med. bowl, add in the parmesan cheese, and the rest of the seasonings. Stir until well combined. Spoon (about 2 tbs) into each tortilla. Top evenly with mozzarella cheese and top cheese with the mini pepperoni!  (I did about 6)

Bake about 12-15 minutes, or until cheese is melted and starting to brown. Wait for pizzas to cool (not cold, but cool enough to touch and kids to eat- they hold their form better if you’ve waited for them to cool.) and then they just pop right out! And I’ll just mention once again- these aer ridiculously easy as well as ridiculously good!

They looked cuter than the photo portrays! Unfortunately, they were eating them before I could get an out of the pan shot!

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Revenge of The April Fool


While I’m not sure I feel avenged, I have had some form of revenge on my hubby who thought it was oh-so-clever to attack before I’d had coffee. First of all you should know something about that husband guy of mine- he thinks I’m pokey. In truth, sometimes I can be. People in my circle (you know the four and under circle) tend to be very pokey…I may have joined their ranks.  Anyhow, he thinks I’m pokey. His basis for this is that he can get ready faster than I can. And what that really means is that in the time it takes him to get ready, I have to get three children dressed, redressed, and redressed again. And then try and get myself ready. Clearly, the odds are not in my favor. For my revenge against this ruthless prankster (seriously, you have to be pretty ruthless to rage war on someone before coffee… are you getting the gravity of coffee’s importance?!) I figured I’d use my “pokiness” to my advantage. I’d just claim that the prank was returned in “my time” and therefore could still fall under the safety of April Fools.

So I’d saved the thread that matches our hose identically and positioned a few dishes in the drying rack, just to be safe. And I figured that I might need some assurance that he’d be pranked one way or another, so just in case the hose didn’t get him (if he happened to position himself just right)… I took his canteen/thermos/metal water jug (apparently I don’t know what to call it, but you get the point) and placed it on the counter, the way I normally do, so he’d know it was a clean one. And then I poured a teaspoon, or two, of salt into the bottom.

I was giddy with excitement as I went to bed! And as I waited in the dark of the morning, listening for signs of a prankful success… I heard him turn on the water, followed by some louder-than-normal banging around as he headed out the door. (I knew if he’d managed to escape the spray he’d have come down and gloated about it, so the fact that he just left… music to my ears! ♫♪♫) Just thinking about it makes me smile. The point wasn’t really to actually drench him the way I’d been… it was more of less just to prove that I could get him if I wanted to! And the salt…well, that was just for good measure. *grin*

Unfortunately, we both had rather craptastic days… so by the time he’d gotten around to drinking his salt-laden tea, I’d forgotten about it. I’m not sure it created as much of an emotional reprieve for him as it did for me. But when he texted me to ask just what form of poison I’d put into his tea, well, I don’t want to gloat, so let’s just say I enjoyed that moment thoroughly.

While I don’t claim all of the pranking to be over… I do think we were about even. At least he’d had his coffee by the time he hit the salt.

So after the craptastic-ness of the day, coupled with the fact that it’s killing the children to have it LOOK like spring and yet not FEEL like spring (we attempted a walk to the park, but even they admitted it was just too cold)…I decided a little comfort food was in order. And for me, nothing says cozy comfort like grilled cheese and tomato soup! It’s about the only soup my husband will actually eat, and that’s only when coupled with grilled cheese. Plus, I had a bunch of tomatoes that were about to go bad so they needed to be used up and so tomato soup was perfect! I made a super yummy almond bread (I’m so proud of myself for this one, because I made the recipe up!) the day before and used that for the sandwiches. The kids had nutella, PB, and jelly sandwiches earlier (hubster is still working way past their dinner time). So I made a grown up version of grilled cheese. So good… I might make one for lunch.

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Breakfast 4Ever-y meal


(*We had these again! Still a fan favorite! And we’ve tested it out on Grandparents and Uncles… let’s just say, we don’t normally have leftovers of this meal!! Pictures have been added! (hooray!) And I noticed an oops! I switched the amounts of sugar vs. water in my sauce! Yikes!! So the parts that have been updated are highlighted!)

These are SO delicious… I felt a little selfish not sharing them with you! Really- soooo yummy! Good enough that my 4 year old that DOES NOT eat pancakes, NEVER HAS eaten pancakes will eat two of them, in one sitting. And says they’re “Ooooh, delicious!” They’re that good. I guess I should also note that Husband is the one that does our weekend breakfast cooking (you know, the days when you feed yourself and your kids things other than yogurt, cereal, or oatmeal). And so he found this recipe online and made it two days in a row!

Now the original recipe called for Gluten Free Bisquick (side note: I find it uber annoying when things claim to have these wonderful gluten free recipes and then say generic things like, use gluten free bisquick or substitute gluten free all-purpose flour for wheat flour… blah!! I know in general it’s for simplicities sake, but for me, it’s an extra trip to the grocery store) and it had you using a cup of “strawberry syrup” (I assume, like the ice cream topping). True to form, I HAVE to make it my own. So the first time we did the recipe exactly as it called for with the exception of the strawberry syrup- we just used a can of strawberry pie filling, and it was good (good enough to make again), but we knew it could be even better! So day #2 I made my own strawberry sauce, and of course, me being me…I made enough to freeze some! So there was my leftover fix of the night! And I mean this in all sincerity when I say it was so good that I will be trying it on various fruits and hope to never use generic pie filling FOR ANYTHING ever again! And so this time I made them (because we’re on week 3 of Husband working late) and I made them my way! So… I’m including my recipe! (c’mon, this is my blog after all.)

Yummy In My Tummy Pancakes

  • 1/3 cup almond meal/flour
  • 1/3 cup coconut flour
  • 1/3 cup tapioca flour
  • 1 Tbs sugar/honey/sweetener of choice
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 Tbs canola oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 package cream cheese, 1/4 in cubes *

Mix together the flours, baking soda, and salt. In separate bowl beat the egg and oil, add to the dry ingredients. Add in milk and mix. Once mixed add in the cream cheese, folding gently (you WANT lumps of cream cheese, not for it to be mixed in)…. and cook. Griddle 350 degrees or med. high heat on the range.

(Substitutes): You can substitute any/all of the flours for 1 cup of all-purpose flour (gluten free or otherwise). You can substitute the milk for whatever your “dairy” preference would be (would be so yummy with almond milk). You could also substitute the canola oil for oil of your preference. I wanted to use my sunflower oil, but couldn’t find it until after I’d made them.

*freeze cream cheese for best/easiest results


Berry Delicious Strawberry Sauce

  • 1 pkg strawberries
  • 1/4 cup sugar/honey/sweetener of choice
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp corn starch
  • 1/2 tsp coconut flour

Wash and slice strawberries. Place in sauce pan over med. heat. In bowl add water and thickener -about a tsp of whatever thickener you prefer will work- and mix, add sugar. Add to strawberries. Cook until boiling, about 2 more minutes. Strawberries should be soft and syrup the preferred consistency, adding water by the Tbs as needed, or pinches of thickener as needed. You may like more sweetener as well. I started out with a small amount so that I could add it as necessary and keep my sugar content to a minimum!


So go ahead and pick up whatever you need for the ingredients and make your family your own version of this yummy, yummy treat!!

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