Friday, February 15, 2013

Feelin' Festive

I am not a particularly spontaneous person by nature. This is something I am working on, because
spontaneity intrigues me. I aspire to be that fly-by-the-seat-of-her-pants girl, who will drop anything at
anytime and GO GO GO because yes, tacos at midnight sound like a great idea so why the hell not?? (Not a good example, as tacos at midnight are probably not a great idea. Unless they are paired with tequila, in which case they are an excellent idea). But that's not really me.

Sure, I am prone to random outbursts of song, and sure, I'll occasionally wander into a room and decide that NOW is the time to bust a mean tap dance, but that doesn't count. I am a planner. My brain exists two steps down the line, and to get from here to there I dot my i's and cross my t's and NO I can't go to lunch with you, I brought leftovers from home today and disrupting my predetermined lunch routine is upsetting, now stop giving me that weird look.

Yeah, I'm working on it.

Fortunately, one of the most spontaneous aspects of my non-spontaneous self is in the kitchen - like last year, when I got it in my head that I HAD to make a King Cake for Mardi Gras. My boss usually orders them straight from the real-deal bakeries in New Orleans, and I don't remember if I'd gotten the baby the year prior or if I was just being masochistic OR if I'd just lost my damn mind, but the night before Fat Tuesday I decided that I was going to attempt a King Cake. The fact that I'd never worked with yeast be damned! Bring it, King Cake!

I ultimately made two - one with brown sugar cinnamon filling, one with cream cheese - and they were such a hit at the office that I decided to make it an annual tradition. I may not always be a seat-of-my-pants girl, but I am a girl who will find ANY excuse to celebrate.

With both Mardi Gras and Valentine's Day this week, I have been in baker's paradise - King Cake! Lava Cakes! Cupcakes!

My week, in photos:

Brown sugar cinnamon, I think I love you

Forming the circles - kindly disregard my messy counters


My precious...

Hello, lovelies.


I would like to curl up and sleep in there, in cinnamon swirly heaven

Dive in. It's the right thing to do.

I know, Griffin. I totally agree.


Inspecting Mommy's handiwork

Cupcakes for coworkers - mini and big

Chocolate lava cakes for Carter's teachers

Heat and eat for molten goodness

Cupcakes for Griffin's teachers - in awesome red mini loaf pan!

Carter's Valentine's - from free printable online!

With organic TJ's lollipops attached

For the LOML - nothing says I love you like BOOZE. 

Pinned Image
Griffin's Valentine's - also printed fo' FREE from online

He's a lover, not a fighter.
 Happy Valentine's Day!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Baking Therapy

As promised, I am feeling much less exhausted, harried and poo-covered this week, save for another epic incident involved my recently potty-trained three-year-old and his first bout with - ahem - upset tummy. But the details of that delightful experience are best left unsaid, because this post is all about FOOD.

Every weekend morning can find me in the kitchen, baking something for my family. Just writing that sentence made me feel so retro...I guess that explains why Carter went through a phase some months back when he would yell "Mommy! Put your hair down and get in the kitchen!" Oh, my charming little chauvinist. 

After the chaos of the work week, baking calms and centers me. I got really into vegan baking years ago when I was a vegetarian newlywed - I loved the challenge of making things delicious without using any animal products. Cut to five years later - I'm no longer a vegetarian but since I'm now baking for my boys I try to keep it as healthy as possible, so I still make a lot of vegan recipes or alter existing recipes to up the nutrition. Lately I'm obsessed with coconut oil and trying to put it in everything. It has a very mild flavor and it's amazingly good for you - if you don't trust me, trust the folks over at Dr. Oz

Carter doesn't get television during the week, so on Saturday and Sunday mornings he gets to watch his favorites on the iPad - Super Why, Dinosaur Train, Curious George, the Toy Stories, Cars, etc - while I bake, Max sleeps or works on the computer, and Griffin putters about and entertains himself.

On Friday morning, I made the boys' favorite - French Toast from Weelicious - I use whole wheat bread (not sticks), top it with a drizzle of maple syrup, and they pack it in. Yesterday morning was doughnuts - I used my standard baked vegan doughnut recipe, but adapted it slightly, substituting white whole wheat flour for regular and coconut oil instead of the vegan butter:

1 cup white whole wheat flour
1/2 c. sugar
1 1/2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
1/4 scant t. nutmeg
pinch cinnamon
1/2 c. soymilk
1/2 t. vinegar
1/2 t. vanilla
egg replacer for 1 egg (I use Ener-G)
1/4 c. coconut oil

Mmm...vegan doughnutty goodness
Preheat oven to 350ยบ F.
In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients with a whisk to mix thoroughly. Combine wet ingredients in a small sauce pan over medium low heat and mix JUST until coconut is melted.  
Add wet to dry and mix until just combined to form a very soft dough.  At this point, I scoop the dough into a ziploc, snip the tip and pipe it directly into the doughnut pan to create uniform circles, which can be tough with just a spoon. Quick, easy, and mess-free!
Bake for 12 minutes til tester comes out clean (my oven is really hot, so they are always faster for me). 
Cool and drizzle or dip with a powdered sugar/soymilk glaze and top with sprinkles if desired - I used Valentine's colors to kick the week off on a festive note.

This morning I made a Blueberry Buttermilk Breakfast Cake, adapted from this recipe from Cooking Light:
  • 1 1/2 cups soymilk
  • 1 1/2 T. vinegar
  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup oat flour
  • 1 cup  white whole wheat flour
  • 1 t. baking powder
  • 1/2 t. baking soda
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1 t. cinnamon
  • 1/4 t. nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1 1/2 t. vanilla extract
  • large egg
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • Preheat oven to 375°.
  • Combine soymilk and vinegar - whisk and let sit five minutes (you are creating buttermilk). Add oats and let sit while you prep the rest of the ingredients.
  • Combine flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices.
  • Combine sugar and oil in a large bowl. Add vanilla and egg; beat until well blended. Stir in oat mixture; beat until well blended. Add flour mixture, beating just until moist. Fold in blueberries.
  • Spoon batter into a 13 x 9-inch baking pan coated with cooking spray or lightly greased with coconut oil. Bake at 375° for 30 minutes (my oven was 23 minutes) or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack. Cut into squares. Eat and feel fabulously healthy and pleased with yourself.

    I really should have more kids just to have more people to bake for. Hmm. I'll have to get on that (cue Max screaming and heading straight to the doctor for an emergency vasectomy).