Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Tasty Tuesday: Cinnamon Rolls

We took a break from the apple recipes this week. We also made these on Monday. That's one of the joys of homeschooling. We have the opportunity to be flexible. Yesterday, I made homemade biscuits and gravy for dinner. Usually, big breakfasts like that are reserved for Saturdays when the whole family is together. Every few weeks or so, we have Pillsbury cinnamon rolls afterward. I figured that it would be a nice treat to make them from scratch since "breakfast" was actually dinner, and I had more time to prepare them. Every time I make them, we ask, "Why do we ever use the cans of refrigerated rolls?"  

Ingredients:
Dough
1 cup warm milk (110 degrees F)
2 eggs, room temperature
1/3 cup butter, melted
4 1/2 cups bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup white sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons bread machine yeast

Filling 
1 cup brown sugar, packed
2 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1/3 cup butter, softened

Frosting
1 (3 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt

Directions:
1. Place ingredients in the pan of the bread machine in the order recommended by the manufacturer. Select dough cycle; press Start. (My machine takes 90 minutes for the dough cycle.)
2. After the dough has doubled in size turn it out onto a lightly floured surface, cover and let rest for 10 minutes. In a small bowl, combine brown sugar and cinnamon.
3. Roll dough into a 16x21 inch rectangle. Spread dough with 1/3 cup butter and sprinkle evenly with sugar/cinnamon mixture. Roll up dough and cut into 12 rolls. Place rolls in a lightly greased 9x13 inch baking pan. Cover and let rise until nearly doubled, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
4. Bake rolls in preheated oven until golden brown, about 15 minutes. While rolls are baking, beat together cream cheese, 1/4 cup butter, confectioners' sugar, vanilla extract and salt. Spread frosting on warm rolls before serving.

I don't have any pictures making the dough. I was busy preparing dinner at the same time. Excuses, excuses . . .

She pretended she was rolling out play dough.

Look how hard he was working!

They enjoyed "cleaning" the counter with their hands and licking them.

Jake helped cut the log.

Before rising

After rising

After cooking

Look at all that yummy goodness!


These are also good reheated. Or room temperature. Or cold. Basically, these are just really, really good! I have a feeling we'll be making fewer Pillsbury and more homemade.


* Update *
Since this post, we've only made these cinnamon rolls. No more cans of rolls for us! I usually prepare the rolls the night before and keep them in the fridge. I pop them in the oven in the morning when we're ready for breakfast. As they're baking, I make the frosting.

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Make It Monday: Leaf Prints

Our craft was very simple this week. Hey, the kids are 4 and 2; it doesn't take much to impress them. I figured that we should take advantage of the leaves before they all fall off the trees. We went outside to pick the very best ones we could find (in other words, the first ones they saw.) After collecting many leaves, we brought them in the house and gathered paper and crayons. Then, I showed them how to put a leaf under the paper and color over it. They thought it was pretty cool to see the leaf print.





Making a paper airplane

Showing off his traced leaf

My leaf turkey

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Sunday, October 24, 2010

Zac's First Birthday Party!

Have you ever had one of those moments when reality hits you and your mental time frame catches up to real time in an instant? Well, maybe it only happens to us, but it happened this past week. Friday we had Zachary's first birthday party. We know, his birthday isn't for another week and a half but Erika's grandparents head to Florida for the winter soon and we wanted them to be able to be there. The reality catch up thing came as the party drew near. It's a milestone, our last "baby" is no longer going to be a baby. It hasn't happened yet, but it will very soon. You get used to having a baby around after almost five years of little cries, screams, and laughs.  It was one thing when Jake and Alyssa turned one, with each of them we knew we were planning to have another baby. This time this is it. Now we are down to a kindergartener, a preschooler, and a toddler. No baby. I'm sure there will be plenty more crying, screaming, and a ton of laughing; just not the little petite baby kind. There will be plenty more milestones leading to plenty more reality checks, but let's deal with them as they come. For now let's party!

What kid doesn't love a party, theirs or not? Jake asked when he got up Friday morning if it was time for the party. He was told it would start at dinner time. So, instead of asking if was time for the party constantly, he asked if it was time for dinner.

Again we turned to our sister-in-law for a birthday cake. She enjoys making them and does a really good job with different characters and themes. This time we only gave suggestions and left the final say to her. We got a fire breathing dragon complete with fruit roll-up wings. Pretty cool! Our little piggy ate the head and one of the legs, this was only after eating three bowls of spaghetti. I think we might have to start a stricter portion control.




We, of course, plugged in the chocolate fountain and did a lot of dipping, this was something that Jake looked forward to all week and just loved.



Opening presents has got to be the one moment in a birthday party that every child looks forward to the most, especially when you are going to be the one opening the gifts. And it was Jake and Alyssa that did the looking forward to and the opening of all the presents. I think Zac might have gotten a few tears in the paper but he didn't care, he just wanted to climb and beat on the boxes.




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Saturday, October 23, 2010

Theory Thursday: Is the Glass Full?

Thursday's experiment dealt with surface tension. We started with glasses filled with water. One by one, Jake and Alyssa dropped pennies into the glasses until the water overflowed. Surprisingly, it was a much higher a number than we expected! The surface molecules acted as a barrier, pulling the water down. Eventually, the volume of water above the rim of the glass became too great for the surface tension to hold and the water spilled. Jake managed to drop in 64 pennies and Alyssa dropped in 72. Coincidentally, I lost $1.36 to a couple of piggy banks. 

Jake guessed that 4 pennies would make the water spill.

Trying to sneak 2 pennies in at once.

If you look closely you can see the water bulging at the lip of the glass.
 
Practicing their counting skills.
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Thursday, October 21, 2010

Tasty Tuesday: Apple Crisp

Another apple recipe. No, we're not sick of them yet. Yes, we're finally making a dent in the bushel that we picked at the orchard.

Apple Crisp
Ingredients:
10 cups apples, peeled, cored, sliced
3/4 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup water
 
1 cup quick-cooking oats
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup butter, melted

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Place the sliced apples in a 9x13 inch pan. Mix the white sugar, 1 tablespoon flour and ground cinnamon together, and sprinkle over apples. Pour water evenly over all.
3. Combine the oats, 1 cup flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda and melted butter together. Crumble evenly over the apple mixture.
4. Bake at 350 degrees F for about 45 minutes.


Ideally, that is the way it should have gone. I've realize though, that with this "super" type of couponing that I've been doing for the past 9 months, I don't always have adequate amounts of certain ingredients. Sure, I have a stockpile. If you look in my pantry, you'll see 12 boxes of cereal, 9 bottles of bbq sauce, and 6 jars of salsa. (And yes, I checked.) What you will not find is extra all-purpose flour, brown sugar, and quick-cooking oats. Today was a day of substitutions. For the flour, we used 1 cup of bread flour minus 1 tablespoon. We used old-fashioned oats (a little chewier.) For the brown sugar, we took 1 cup white sugar, subtracted 1 tablespoon, and replaced it with 1 tablespoon of molasses. Now I know what to add to my grocery list, along with the cinnamon that we finished off today too.

Mixing white sugar and molasses
Fresh brown sugar
"Don't worry. I got it under control," he told me.


The apple crisp is delicious. It just needs one thing.


Ice cream!

Doesn't ice cream make everything better?


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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Make It Monday: Power Balls



Every day Jake asks, "What's today?" He wants to know if it's time for a craft, baking, or an experiment. I'm not sure which one is his favorite because he gets excited about all three. Actually, he gets excited about each day of the week for different reasons: Sundays and Wednesdays because we go to church, Fridays because we go to Grandma's house, and Saturdays because it's a special family day. It just so happened that Saturday evening he was begging to make "power balls." I always dread making these things. I'm not sure why. They're incredibly simple to make, but tend to be messy, especially with a 2 year old. Monday was the perfect day to make these. The kit (made by Rose Art) comes with two holders that snap together. You pour little, tiny beads (the size of salt granules) into the mold. Once it's full, you submerge it in water for one minute, take it out, and let it sit for three minutes. After that, you have one high-bouncing power ball!



Alyssa said, "Oh, my fingers got wet!" Jake told her, "That's ok. That happens sometimes."  




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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Theory Thursday: Craisin Fun

Once again, Theory Thursday brings us to a food experiment. We started with cups of Mountain Dew (you can use any "clear" pop) and dropped in craisins. Jake expected the craisin to sink, but was surprised to see it rise again. When added, the craisin sinks to the bottom. There, bubbles form on it causing it to float to the surface where the bubbles pop. The craisin sinks again and the process continues. 

The video takes place a minute or so into the experiment. Sorry about the static sound!


video
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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Tasty Tuesday: Apple Pie

I got an early Christmas present yesterday: a new oven! The first thing baked in it was an apple pie, per Leighton's request. 

Pie Crust (double recipe)
Ingredients:
1 cup vegetable shortening
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup cold water

Directions:
1. Mix shortening, flour, and salt together with a fork or a pastry blender until very crumbly. Add as much water as needed to hold together, and mix lightly with a fork.
2. Roll gently on a floured pastry cloth to about an inch larger than pie plate. Fold carefully in half, lift to pie plate, and unfold. Press into pan.

Have I ever mentioned how much I love my food processor?
 
Patiently waiting to be filled.
Honestly, I'd rather buy pre-made crust because it's so much easier to work with, but Leighton prefers homemade. I was pleasantly surprised though with this recipe. I had no trouble at all.
 

 Apple Pie
Ingredients:
1/2 cup unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3  tbp. water
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1 tbp. vanilla
8 apples - peeled, cored and sliced

 

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Melt butter in a saucepan. Stir in flour to form a paste. Add water, white sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla and bring to a boil. Reduce temperature and let simmer.
2. Place the bottom crust in your pan. Fill with apples, mounded slightly. Gently pour the sauce over the apples. Pour slowly so that it does not run off. Cover with crust.
3. Bake 15 minutes in the preheated oven. Reduce the temperature to 350 degrees F.  Continue baking for 35 to 45 minutes, until apples are soft.


This was my first time making a double crust pie. Odd, since the crust is my favorite part. As I said, I don't like making it though. I usually top my pies with a crumble so I only go through the hassle once. It's a love/hate relationship.


I blame the crust for the lack of apples in the pie. I know that there should be a heaping mound of apples, but  I must have been anxious about still having to make the top crust. Or maybe I should blame the kids since they put in the slices. Hmm . . .

Brushing some of the sauce on top.

Ready for the oven.

Well, I survived the double crust. And I know it'll only get easier with practice. I wonder if my family would be willing to let me try.
 
Ready to be eaten.

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Sunday, October 10, 2010

Theory Thursday: Colorful Mixtures

A couple weeks ago, I mentioned how much Jacob and Alyssa enjoyed watching food coloring mix with water when we made silly putty as seen here. I found an experiment that is just that, watching food coloring. 

Supplies:
Milk
Food coloring
Liquid dish soap
Dish- wide rim

Directions:
1. Pour milk into a wide rimmed dish, and let sit until it warms to room temperature
2. Place drops of different food coloring in the milk
3. Place two drops of liquid dish soap into the mixture

Simple enough? Yes. Except when you make the fatal error to heat the milk in the microwave for 11 seconds. I had taken the milk out and let it sit for nearly 3 hours. It still felt cold to the touch, so I nuked it. We then continued with the experiment. Dropped in the food coloring, squirted in the dish soap. Nothing. We sat there and stared at coloring slowly mixing in the milk. 

first attempt

Leighton and I decided to try it again once the kids went to bed. This time, we followed the directions exactly. This time, it worked. It's amazing how smoothly things go when you follow the directions. People wonder why their lives are falling apart or why they are so unhappy. If they would follow the directions for life that God has given us in the Bible, things would go more smoothly. We need to stop trying to do things our way or look for shortcuts.
third attempt

Friday morning, we tried it again. 


video

Again, I made a mistake by allowing Jake to squirt in the dish soap. I should know that a 4 year old (excuse me, a 4-and-a-half year old) would not be able to pour in just one drop. It's supposed to bubble and swirl if done correctly. The experiment was also compromised once they started blowing on it. Either way, they enjoyed watching the display and that's what really matters. After all, we are homeschooling for their benefit. Maybe this week we'll work on following directions . . . for the benefit of us all.  
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