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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Cream Cheese Delight


Hubbyman was home early today, and since I stayed up late and got caught up on household things…today I could do what I want. Relatively. We played games, we cuddled, we read books. And then they requested “girl cheese” (grilled cheese) and toast with cinnamon.  It’s been months since I’ve made bread and so I decided today was the day for it! I used a recipe I found on Our Best Bites last August. (I blogged about it, but it went largely unnoticed.) They’re still rising, but I can tell you they’re going to be equally as fabulous this time!

I turned the rolls into bread…and it was fabulous!

Last time I made the frosting pink for Miss E since lots of times she gets left when it comes to deserts. This time I couldn’t bear to let the “filling” go to waste (since I’d forgotten to halve it, due to not making a full batch), but I still wanted it to be kind of glazed (versus frosted) so I added a good amount of milk, and then a little powdered sugar. Which also helped it to be not quite so rich since it already had the rich filling.) Perfect. Delicious. Even better than the first time around!

If you want to try them, go here for the full recipe! Or go to my link for my version of them (their recipe makes them rolls- I turned them into bread and used the extra dough to make a few of the cream cheese delights. Just enough to enjoy without them going bad as lots of desserts do in our home.) Oh, and the recipes are easy and other than the time for letting them rise, they take hardly any time!

I know, I normally (ie. when I remember) do recipes on Thursdays, but I decided these were too yummy to wait! That and my *&$#% keyboard has yet to be replaced.)

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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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Lasagna Cupcakes!


I almost posted a recipe for my quiche, but it’s not exactly perfect. And I’d really rather not share it with you until I can come up with the exact way I’d like to share it with my family. If it’s not how I want it to be for my family, why would I let you test out a version that’s less than? Don’t get me wrong, it is sooo yummy. But I just need to have better ratios for the crust to eggs. I am excited to figure it out and share it with you! It met rave reviews from hubbyman and my daughter- so it will be coming to you soon! In the meantime, since I combined my Wednesday and Thursday dinner plans (spinach and mushroom quiche and pumpkin waffles) into one meal, tonight when I was thinking about what to have for dinner, I felt at a loss. I’ve been craving lasagna and so I decided to try something new. Now to make gluten free noodles, I have 2 recipes. One is in a recipe book and the other is one on a post it note, attached to the recipe books version. I lost my post it note! I have no idea if I found it somewhere online or if I made it up! I was so disappointed, and I didn’t have 2 of the necessary 4 flours (that’s right, four!) to make the noodles from scratch. So I decided on lasagna cupcakes. I’d made a new pizza crust a week or two ago, and I decided to try that as the noodles. So it’s not quite a noodle, and that did throw my husband off a little, but it was still good. And he if I’d of thrown in the elbow noodles I’d made for the kids (I was not sure how it would turn out, so for the first time in my cooking career, I made a back up meal) that it would have been perfect. When making these in the past, I cook lasagna noodles (for those of you lucky wheat eaters, you can use your normal lasagna noodles, for those of you who cannot, can make them -that’s right make them- from the noodle recipe I posted in this post here. Hey wait a minute! There’s my long lost pasta recipe! Whew!)

It’s really very, very simple. I like to use my large muffin pan for this. I spray it and then put in cooked noodles in an x pattern (start with 2 and you can add a 3rd if 2 doesn’t cover the base). Then I add the layers- Parmesan, mozzarella, ricotta cheese, and sauce (with or without browned hamburger meat). I only use a couple tbs per layer. Just enough to cover. Top with the parm and mozz. Then fold the noodles that are hanging out over the top (so it’s basically enclosed). Bake at 375 for 25 minutes, or until cheese is brown and sauce is bubbling. If you want to make it just the way I did, you can either throw in some noodles or not, and make the crust I made from this cookbook.)

How I made my crust:

1 1/2 cups almond flour, 1/4 tsp sea salt, 1/4 tsp baking soda, 1 egg, 1 tbs grape seed extract

Mix egg and grape seed extract and add to dry ingredients. I sprayed my tins with olive oil (I’m not sure it’s necessary, but I figured it was better than finding out the crust was impossible to get out of the tin) and then press dough into each muffin mold. I didn’t make it very thick, but didn’t want it to be thin enough to see through either as I wanted it to hold its form. So about 1/4ish inch thick (I know, I’m so precise- sorry!).

Bake at 350 for 10 minutes.

Spoon filling in. (you can do it in layers or mix it all together… either way would be delicious!)

Bake at 375 for 20 minutes, or until cheese browns and sauce is bubbling.

It is delicious with noodles, and with the crust! It’s more like a lasagna pie with the crust, but it was still delicious! Unfortunately, I left my camera at my parents’ and so my only picture (I really am very sad about this, because it just looked so pretty every step of the way) is from my camera. Next time I will well document my steps!

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Seasonally Impressive


These are some of my seasonally favorite foods: acorn squash, sweet potatoes, and pumpkins. Last week I made sweet potato mash (1/2 sweet potatoes, 1/2 regular potatoes) as well as maple acorn squash (just cut it in half, pour in some maple syrup and bake for 1 hr @ 350). Sooo yummy. Up next? Pumpkin butter and roasted pumpkin seeds!!! Never tried pumpkin butter? It is seriously delicious! I love all things apple and that includes apple butter. But every time I’ve canned pumpkin butter, I am out in no time…and I always have some apple butter left. So that’s sayin’ something! Plus it makes such a fun gift too! I may make it tomorrow… in my crock pot. Which works famously if you have a busy household (and really, who doesn’t?! If you don’t, I’m sorry, but I’m just not sure we can be friends.). I’m actually sad that I didn’t get more sugar pumpkins (or pie pumpkins) before the farmer’s market ended. Sadly, we missed the last week because Littlest was not feeling good. Boo! Hiss! On seasonal allergies and the genetics he gets it from (mine!). Anyways, just in case you felt like making something extra special, I am going to share my recipe with you! It’s really easy (and you can even used canned pumpkin puree which makes it basically a dump-everything-in kind of recipe!)!

For 6 pints you will need:

3 pie pumpkins (or 2 29 oz can pumpkin puree)

1 tbs ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground cloves

1/4 tsp allspice

2 cups sugar

*Clean pumpkins, cut in half, and deseed (but save them for roasted seeds!). Cook pumpkins (microwave, steam, or oven) until  soft and gut. Throw in the crockpot with the rest of the ingredients over low for about 6-8 hours.  If you like a creamier texture, throw it in the blender. And if the consistency is too thick (especially if you used canned as fresh is a little runnier), add in some apple juice/cider. And if it needs more of a certain spice, you can add it in! Want to make more? For 6 qts. use 5-6 pumpkins and double everything else! Can, bottle, freeze, whatever…. it is incredibly delicious!

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Simply Irresistable!


This is so, so yummy (and so, so simple)… and those that know me that this time of year is a busy time in my kitchen. Salsa making and canning will occur and end shortly and then the fall season will start. Which brings apples galore! My grandparents have an apple orchard and lots of friends with apple orchards. Which for me, equals- I get lots of apples! I make (and can) applesauce, apple butter, and send hubbyman to work with countless batches of one of my personal favorite treats- apple crisp! It’s actually one of the few desserts that I can make a whole pan of and not have to throw any out! (We’re just not big dessert eaters, hubbyman and I.) Plus, this is one dish that always says home to me. And have always made it no matter where we lived!

My brother and his new bride have apple trees in their new yard and my dad brought back a bun was thoughtful enough to share them with me! There was exactly enough for each of the kids to help themselves to one and for me to make a (7×7) pan! I know what I will be having for breakfast the next couple of days! The recipe is so simple, truly! For a 7×7 pan this is what I used: 6-8 small to medium apples (peeled and sliced in wedges- uniform size is best so they all cook the same) Drizzle cut apples with splash of lemon juice 1/4 cup of sugar 1/2 cup apple juice (you can use water and it will still taste good!)

Next (this is the topping) you will combine 1 cup of flour (you can also use oats. I used too many oats/not enough flour… I think a 3/4 c flour to 1/4 c oats would be a better consistency than my half and half- but it still tasted good.), a cup of butter (2 sticks), and 1/3 cup of sugar in a small bowl. I usually start with the butter and soften (not melt!) and then “cut” the butter into the flour/sugar, (Which means I take a knife and fork and act like I’m literally cutting it) until it’s in about pea size balls. I love the topping so I make sure that it covers the whole thing. Top it off with cinnamon and bake at 375 for 35 minutes. And voila! You have an amazing dessert! Serve it hot and top with vanilla ice cream (especially if you’re trying to impress someone!) or cold with a dollop of cool whip! Yum!

 

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Simply Impressive


Yesterday, my hair dresser/brother-in-law came over to #1) Give hubbyman a haircut! (He’s in a wedding this weekend, and we’d like a little less shaggydoo for it) and #2) To have me make him a wonderful vegan meal! So I am made stuffed peppers! I found hundreds of recipes, so I did my usual (look hundreds of recipes over, decide I only like one ingredient from each recipe) and combined them all…

So, here is today’s version of stuffed peppers, which in my opinion ALWAYS look impressive- no matter what you’ve put into them. And the more you put into them, the more impressive they sound!

Take 3 large, red, sweet peppers (you can use any kind, I love the flavor of red and orange, personally), cut the top off and take seeds out.

You can cook this in a 5qt slow cooker (mine is too big!), so I just did them in a 2 1/2 qt dish. Basically you want it big enough that everything fits and you can still get a lid on, but small enough that they don’t move or slide around. So whatever size that may be for you (which will of course depend on how many peppers you make as well. I’d of made more, but we’re leaving for out of town tomorrow and worried they’d go bad… and then I found out they’re great to freeze, so now I wish I would have made a couple more!!). Anyways, put peppers in dish, and set aside.

1 cup cooked rice (or quinoa)

1/2 onion

1/2 yellow zucchini, sliced

1 1/2 cups spinach

1 cup mushrooms

3 cloves garlic

1 tsp salt

1 tsp pepper

3/4 cup spaghetti sauce (meatless)

1/2 cup of water

*While I had the rice cooking, I threw the spinach, onion, garlic, and mushrooms in some olive oil and sauteed. This next step you probably don’t have to do, but for consistency’s sake I threw it all in my food processor (just so it was more uniform, not to puree it).

Next mix rice, sauteed veggies, salt, pepper, and any other herbs you’d like to throw in (I threw in a pinch of oregano and basil) in a large bowl. This is what the kids had for dinner- it was so, so, so very yummy. I added in a pinch of cheese thinking it would need it, (don’t get me wrong, it was fantastic with it) but it was really good even without the cheese. Seriously, like it would be a terrific side in any meal, not just stuffed in peppers. So good. (Can you tell that I liked it, and was very impressed with my creation?)

Stuff rice mixture in the peppers. You don’t have to pack it in, but fill it. Next mix the water and spaghetti sauce, pouring half into the bottom of the dish and the rest over/in the peppers.I topped with quarters of the squash and threw some into the sauce in the bottom as well. For color and taste! I cooked covered at 375 for 30 minutes and then uncovered at 350 for 10 minutes.

So good! Hubbyman declared it the best began meal he’d ever had! If not making it vegan, I probably would have thrown cheese into the rice mixture. This would be a great option for a Meatless Monday meal! Have to have meat in it? I think it would go really well with a shredded chicken.

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