Funnel Cake!

I’ve always wanted to make Funnel Cake but have been afraid to try. They just looked so complicated!! I found a recipe over at Sally’s Baking Addiction that looked pretty easy and everything else of hers that I’ve made has worked out perfectly, so I decided to give it a try.

Homemade Funnel Cake with Mint Ice Cream, Chocolate Sauce and Whipped Cream.

They turned out perfectly!! What a yummy dessert!

YouTube Channels

Prior to lock down for COVID, I only watched YouTube for the occasional help with embroidery stitches or knitting or something like that. I never really “followed” channels nor did I watch regularly. Now, I am addicted to several channels and watch while I stitch. One of those channels is Webspoon World. There are no words, just videos of baking. I found one video that I really enjoyed, “5 Nifty Tricks With Bread Dough That You’ve Definitely Never Had Before“. I kept coming back to this one and decided I wanted to try some of these. The first one I have dubbed Cinnamon Knots. I had to find a generic bread dough recipe. I have several that we like, but they have a distinct flavor. I wound up using this one.

The dough.

I made the dough and set it on the counter to rise until I was ready to use it. The recipe has it rest for about an hour, but mine sat there for almost 4 hours and almost oozed over the top of the bowl!!

Butter, Brown Sugar. and Cinnamon

Since the video does not provide the recipe for the filling, I just winged it and made up something with butter, brown sugar and cinnamon and made a kind of paste.

Dough Ovals

The first thing is to roll out three ovals of dough.

Cinnamon paste

After rolling out the dough, a thin layer of the cinnamon paste is spooned on. Then another dough oval and another bit of paste and finally the last dough layer is put on top.

Braided

Then each oval pile is cut into three strips, leaving a little bit at the top uncut, and braided. Each braid is rolled up into a ball and placed on a cookie sheet, then brushed with an egg wash and sprinkled with a dusting of sugar. They were baked at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Fresh out of the oven.

YUMMY!! I will definitely make these again!! I think next time, though, instead of two layers of the paste, I will do one layer of paste and one layer of melted chocolate.

Sally’s Baking Challenge

Sally’s Baking Addiction has a monthly challenge. This month the challenge was to make a chocolate souffle. I had never made this before but had heard how hard they are to make. After reading the entire recipe several times, I decided that I would try it. I chose to use the “make ahead” instructions because it appeared that you have to serve these right out of the oven or they deflate.

Success!!

The recipe made seven which is exactly the number we needed!! It was super easy to follow and worked out great. The tip to serve immediately was a good one as mere minutes after serving, these started deflating. We just ate them like this with powdered sugar – I’m thinking that next time I will also serve raspberries with them.

Skillet Cooking

I have wanted a cast iron skillet for a LONG time. My oldest son works for REI and for Christmas he gave me one!!! I have been playing around. The first time I used it was not pretty – the chicken stuck to it, I had to clean it off midway through cooking, and we wound up eating dinner around 8:30 which is late for us. After doing some research about seasoning cast iron and the proper way to use it, things have been much better.

Cast Iron Skillet Pot from DS#1.

Isn’t she a beauty?! I have been poking around the internet for cast iron recipes and came across a site called Food52. They have all kinds of recipes, but also have recipes specific to cast iron. We love potatoes so I decided to try Hasselback Potato Skillet Bake.

Prepped and ready for the oven.

First you wash the potatoes and slice them really thin, but not all the way through. Then you mix up melted butter and spices and brush this mixture onto the pan and the potatoes making sure the mixture goes in between each slice. This took a bit of time, but was so worth it!

Yummy garlic and herbs!!
Baking before the addition of the grated parmesan cheese.
Finished!!

These potatoes were sooo yummy!! The only fiddly part is that you have to baste them with the butter/herb mixture every 15 minutes and cook them for an hour. Everyone liked these!!

DS#1 was in charge of the rest of the meal.

DS#1 made tilapia in the oven and asparagus in the air fryer (a birthday/Christmas gift from the hubby).

We have instituted a new dinner plan since about May. Each night one of the kids are in charge of dinner. They let us know by Friday what the dinner plan is and tell us the ingredients. When we go shopping, we pick up what they need. Since four of the kids are living at home and Friday is pizza night (I make the dough), I am really only in charge of a meal one night a week. It has been so fun to see what they come up with and it takes some of the pressure off of me.

I will definitely be trying some of the other recipes from Food52 for my cast iron skillet!

Scones

Everyone is on break right now. The older kids had taken 10 days off for the holidays as we had rented RVs and were planning a camping trip to Joshua Tree and Death Valley. We had the campgrounds reserved and had planned on bringing all food from home so as to not have to come into contact with anyone not from our pod. Well…COVID had other plans and California, Santa Clara County in particular, is shut down. The campgrounds are closed and our fees returned, the RVs have been cancelled and we are at home. Initially I was soooo very disappointed! I’ve come to terms with it and have embraced being home – the kids are actually enjoying a VERY slow pace, sleeping until noon, some activity or another and hiking every other day. They think hiking everyday is WAAAAY too much. I’ve also been baking and trying out new things.

Salted Caramel Scones

I made these from a mix that I picked up at Cost Plus World Market. We have tried their scone mixes before (raspberry white chocolate is a favorite), but not this flavor. They were a hit!!

I’m not eating any sweets right now (so no scones for me!) and not drinking any alcohol. I am doing the 75Hard program. It’s different than other programs in that the goal is really to create mental toughness and grit – actually the ability to follow through on one’s own goals and not give up or stop. I listened to his podcast and didn’t especially like it – too much profanity for me, but it did strike a cord in me and I was ready for a change.

The rules, I thought, were pretty easy. I was doing most of them anyway – the biggies I thought would be giving up sweets and alcohol.

Things I have learned:

Rule 1: Two 45 minute workouts (at least 3 hours apart), one of the workouts must be outdoors. I thought I had this nailed. My husband and I walk every day at 6:30 before he starts work (from home) and then we lift weights or hike in the afternoons. Weeellll… it turns out that we were not being consistent. Sometimes we didn’t feel like the second workout. We were tired or just didn’t feel like it. Now we do our two workouts EVERY day – no days off. It’s tiring but feels good now. I actually crave those workouts now.

Rule 2: Drink one gallon of water a day. I also thought I had this one nailed. I was drinking a gallon of water a day (I thought). It turns out I was, but not EVERY day. Some days I drank a lot and some days not so much. Now I drink my gallon of water EVERY day.

Rule 3: Read 10 pages a day from a non-fiction book, an actual book. I thought I had this one in the bag as well as I read a ton. Do you see a trend here?? It turns out that I do read a ton, but mostly online. The news, school board docs, articles about things I’m interested in etc. Not an actual book. This has been the hardest for me. To sit down and read 10 pages – not 10 minutes – 10 pages. In order to make this happen I have incorporated it into either my breakfast or lunch. I read until I’ve read my 10 pages. If my lunch isn’t done yet, I keep reading until I’m done.

Rule 4: Take a progress picture. I knew this one would be hard. I have never liked taking photos of myself. I do it, I still don’t like it, but I’m glad I’m doing it. I’m 30 days in and I can visibly see the difference if I compare day one to day 30.

Rule 5: Follow a diet. He doesn’t specify any particular diet. It’s up to me to choose a diet, but I have to stick to it. I don’t really have a diet per se, but I decided to eat healthier. I substitute fresh fruit if I feel like something sweet and eat nuts when I feel like chips. The rest I was pretty much doing anyway.

Rule 6: No alcohol, sweets or cheat meals. This one has been interesting. I have learned that for both the alcohol and the sweets that I am a “situational eater/drinker” (my term). When we go into the hot tub, we used to have a beer or a glass of wine (hubby still does this). I wanted the alcohol at that time. Also we would have a bowl of ice cream and beer/wine after dinner. Once I decided this was not for me, I’ve been fine with it. It’s the situation, not the food or drink. I haven’t missed either the alcohol or the sweets and THAT has been super interesting as I’ve always thought I had a huge sweet tooth. The cheat meals things worked out fine as I had made provisions for when I was hungry and didn’t know what to eat – think 2:00pm, I’m dragging, I used to have something sweet or chips. Now I either grab a piece of fruit or a small handful of nuts.

If you fail to complete any of the rules, you fail the program and go back to day 1. This is a 75 day program – about 2 1/2 months. I started the very first day I heard about the program 11/30 and failed that day because I had eaten a bit of cake after breakfast. I restarted on 12/1 and have been going strong. There have been some really tough days where I didn’t want to do the second workout or really did want one of the cookies I was baking, but I have held firm and feel good about it. I include my own goal now to run 3 days per week – MWF – and I’ve been doing that since the 2nd week of Dec. This has been a goal of mine on and off for years, but something always comes up and I skip a day here and there. Now my mind set is a little different. I don’t skip running day (even on Christmas), I get up and go running on running day before anything else happens.

In 30 days I have lost just over 15 pounds. I don’t feel hungry, I don’t feel like I’m missing anything. BUT it does make me think, “What the heck was I eating, drinking and doing prior to this!”. More importantly though is my mind set. I more carefully think about things, try to envision where I might want to be in 1 year or 5 years and am working on making that happen. Lots of work still to do!!

Baking Day

The Amish Friendship Bread Starter was ready and it was time to bake!

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Homemade Vanilla!

I started getting out all the supplies and realized my homemade vanilla was ready!  How exciting!  It smells divine!

This time I made 5 dozen mint and chocolate chip cookies, 2 dozen strawberries and cream cupcakes, and a pan of chocolate brownies.  There is still enough of the starter left over to make pancakes for the kids tomorrow morning.  This experiment has been fun, but it is getting a little overwhelming to have to bake so much every 10 days!

Hand Pies

Whenever we have leftover chicken, I make hand pies.

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Chicken and Vegetable Hand Pies

I throw the leftover chicken, any veges that happen to be in the fridge and usually some potatoes into the food processor.

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Hand Pie filling

I then put a heaping teaspoon in either refrigerated biscuit dough or crescent dough, which ever I have on hand.  This time I had crescent dough.

Then I add a little bit of shredded cheese to the top of the filling, wrap everything up and bake them.  This, along with a salad, is a true crowd pleaser at our house!

Friendship Bread Starter

I’ve been playing around with starters this year.  I started both a sourdough and a friendship bread starter at the same time.  With the sourdough starter, I’m baking every couple of days.  The friendship bread starter is ready every 10 days.  I used the starter recipe and all other recipes from the Friendship Bread Kitchen website.  So far every recipe has been a success!  I’ve made…

Pancakes…img_5153-1

Snookerdoodles, and …img_5152-1

A chocolate bread.  The bread was a little dry so next time I will add a bit more oil.  Now the starter will rest and grow for another 10 days!

Sourdough

I read the Sourdough by Robin Sloan a couple of months ago and was intrigued and inspired to try to make a starter.  With the holidays coming up though I thought I would wait until New Year to get it going.img_5082

I started out purchasing these two crocks as I wanted to make an Amish Friendship Bread starter as well.img_5127

This was my sourdough starter a few days in. EDITTED TO ADD RECIPE LINK:  the King Arthur Sourdough Started Recipe is what I am using.

 

The first thing I tried when the starter was ready was bread.  It was super easy to make – you just mix the starter with a few things and leave it on the counter.  The bread tastes fantastic!!  EDITED TO ADD RECIPE:  This one is also from the King Arthur website.  It’s the Rustic Sourdough Bread.

 

The next thing I wanted to try were waffles.  This requires an “overnight sponge” which is also easy and save a huge amount of time in the morning because there is nothing to mix up.  It’s ready when you are and you can just spoon the batter into the waffle maker.  Another success!!  EDITED TO ADD RECIPE:  Sourdough Waffles or Pancakes.

 

The last thing I have made so far with the starter is homemade pizza crust.  Every Friday (this is from last Friday) we have pizza and watch a movie as a family.  Everyone had so much fun gathered around the table making their crusts and then loading them with the things they wanted, that there has been a request to have homemade pizza every Friday instead of store bought.  EDITED TO ADD RECIPE:  Sourdough Pizza Crust.

The only thing I have had to really stay on top of is planning.  If I want to have bread at dinner, I need to start dough rising early afternoon.  If we want to have waffles, I need to prepare the overnight sponge the night before.  Really though, it’s so much fun!!  I have yet to hear my starter sing like in the book, but when the kitchen is quiet I can hear the bubbles popping.  Such a success!