Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Oh What Fun

Here we are, the last week of school--whee! Are you ready? We are trying to RELAX this week....or at least I am trying to relax in the kitchen. So, my boring week and my crazy week before:

Monday: school spirit night, so easy: nuggets and apples for boys, leftovers for parents.

Tuesday: tacos

Wednesday: spaghetti

Thursday: total craziness! Two class parties, pageant practice, birthday party (school night parties are ok by me if they are before that throwaway last day before break)...leftovers or freezer food for those of us eating at home.

Friday: let the merriment begin! With a doctor's appointment. Oh well.

Last week turned in to a grand cooking adventure. Wander through with me if you dare...

So, I linked last week to the 7-layer bars, which I went for since that's what I had ingredients for. (And since I don't use butterscotch chips for anything else, I was eager to get a move-on with them.) The recipe was terrific with one exception-there is no way 5 oz of graham cracker crumbs covers a 9x13 pan. So I went with the stick of butter to 1.5 cups ratio and that worked much better. (Edited to add: whoops, no I didn't link. Sorry. It's here.) Other tips: doubling up on aluminum foil to keep the pan clean was awesome. The old-school, non-pull-off lids on the condensed milk work much better; open about 80% of the lid and that allows for a nice, thick ribbon of milk to pour and covers the top more effectively. And the tip to wait as long as possible before cutting was huge. I baked off two (easy, since the tin foil let me lift out batch 1 and just put it aside while I relined and reloaded for batch 2 without a ton of cleanup. I do overlapping parallel sheets instead of the crisscross pattern that leaves the corners exposed and ergo sticky) and let them sit, still in the foil, until the morning, when I cut them pretty easily in to bars of random sizes. The less-well-coated ones were prettier, the others held their shape better.

In a happy coincidence, the day before the cookie swap, there was a snow day! And just one more reason to love my office: they had one too, so I didn't have to try to cram in a work day around the kiddos. Then they went wandering off to play with neighbors, so I got down to business in the kitchen in a big way.

I was still on a bake-off mode, trying very hard to work down the shelves, so back to TBBE's Add-In cookies. I had plenty of white chocolate and cranberries, so we went for that version.

Speaking of TBBE, I also made (sort of) her roasted carrots and quinoa recipe. (Hers via Food + Wine, obviously.)  I had made the taco mix the day before, and finished the paprika (which the younger one remembered, because I didn't think we'd have 5 TBS, and he eyeballed it and said, Sure we will, and sure enough, we did). I figured with 7 other spices, it would still be pretty good. Meanwhile, I rearranged my spice drawer and discovered I am ready for the Great Cumin Shortage of Any Year This Decade. The salad was good, even paprika-free, though I might eliminate or downplay one of the spices (cumin? cayenne?) if I make it again; also, if I make it again, I will stick to my instincts and make the carrots bite sized. Who wants to fight a long carrot in a salad? I also used the Trader Joe's tricolor quinoa I had in the house so I don't know if that makes much of a difference. The only downside: this is a long process. Not hard, but long, and a good one while the kids were out of the house and I had the counter space and head space to myself.

In the spirit of cleaning out the cabinets, I also made chocolate chip pumpkin muffins and coconut chia seed pudding. I was originally inspired by this recipe from Come and Cook with Us!, the blog of friends of a friend. Then I couldn't find it (don't ask) and combined it a bit with this recipe. I used the 2 cups milk to 1/3 cup chia ratio, then used honey and vanilla to finish it off. I put it in two containers with screw-top lids so I could shake to keep them delumped.

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