Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Cinnamon Rolls

Yes, I said cinnamon rolls. Warm, homemade ones. I know I've been bad and haven't posted in a long while (sorry! I went back to work last week), so I thought sharing this lovely recipe would make up for it. These are not your traditional, Cinnabon-style, achingly-sweet type of cinnamon roll. But they're delicious just the same- and we like them even better.
I came across the recipe during my recent recipe organization project. From Cook's Illustrated, they start with a cream biscuit base which you roll out and spread with cinnamon sugar. I love that I don't need to wait for them to rise- no yeast! And I've always got these ingredients on hand, so I can whip them up at any time. Munch and I had a great time making them- there was a lot I could let her do. She got to dump the ingredients in, do some of the mixing, helped with the rolling, brushed the butter onto the dough, sprinkled on the filling, and put the rolls in the pan. If the 3-year old can do it, so can you!

2 c. flour
2 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/4 c. heavy cream, plus a couple tablespoons more as needed

1 tbsp. butter, melted
2 tbsp. brown sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon

1 1/2 tbsp. egg white
3/4 c. powdered sugar
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spray an 8-inch round baking pan with nonstick spray. Whisk together the dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Add the 1 1/4 c. cream and stir until dough starts to form. Add additional cream, a tablespoon at a time, until no dry bits remain. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured board and knead by hand until smooth, about a dozen turns. Roll out dough into a rectangle, approximately 9x12 inches.
Brush melted butter onto the surface of the dough rectangle. Combine brown sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and sprinkle evenly onto dough. Roll up dough, starting at long edge, then cut into 8 rounds. Arrange rolls in the prepared baking pan and bake about 25 minutes until golden.
While the rolls bake, prepare the icing by whisking together the egg white, powdered sugar, and vanilla until smooth. Drizzle icing over rolls once they come out of the oven. I know I don't have to tell you to enjoy these right away!

Still not a FOLLOWER? What are you waiting for?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

DIY Fro Yo

WAY back when (in high school), I used to work in a frozen yogurt shop. I still think it's not a bad place to work- people are always happy after they have a bit (or more) of ice cream! So I've been really excited about these new yogurt shops that are finally starting to hit our neck of the woods. You get your cup and serve yourself-I love that I can Munch just the tiniest serving, since you weigh & pay by the ounce. This is the place at Pacific East Mall- they always have incredible flavors. Last time it was vanilla tart, blackberry, pomegranate, strawberry, and mango. The first time we went, I put a dab of each flavor in the cup to try them all out! Next, you add your own toppings-it's nice to have this tiny dice of assorted fruits!Munch's favorite? Vanilla swirled with something, some tiny diced strawberries, and a bit of rainbow sprinkles.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Life in a Small Town

Big, crowded cities have never appealed to me. I've always wanted to live in a small town. The kind that's walkable, with a strong sense of community, and where you frequently bump into people you know as you go about your business (but not so small that everyone knows your business!) We've been really lucky with our little town. Once named THE worst place to live in the SF Bay Area, the city leaders have really worked at turning things around. We have a nice waterfront
within walking distance with solid mom and pop restaurants (though not much shopping- I'm still hopeful). There are many community events both here (we have Friday concerts, Saturday evening family movies outdoors, and Sunday concerts, AND you just can't miss those 4th of July fireworks!) and in our neighboring city (and I can easily walk to their downtown by just going opposite ours).
Tonight we got together at our favorite Mexican restaurant with several neighbors from our alley- yes! an old-fashioned alley- no looming garage on the front of our house, and with our low picket fences, it's easy to see what's going on in everyone's backyards up and down the street. AudioDad knows countless neighbors from his daily jogs. He used to frequently come home from a run with a 6-pack of beer from a neighbor who made home-brews. They piled up since he doesn't drink often- thank goodness for that beer batter bread recipe! That neighbor has since moved- but AudioDad recently came home from a run with his hands full of seedlings instead!
Altogether, there were 6 households at dinner and it was great fun, especially now that we've got younger families beginning to move in- more kids for Munch to play with even though she has a couple of years on them. We're hoping we can start to do these neighborly get-togethers more often.
Here's a few pics from this weekend's local Tomato Festival-
Munch and AudioDad after a yummy breakfast-she's taken to always adding an accessory to the day's outfit. Usually it's the foam tiara or a pair of butterfly wings
We were thrilled to find pony rides!

The local Girl Scout troop had a booth with fun crafts-
and they had the tallest inflatable slide I've EVER seen- the Titanic!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Summer School: Letter B

Munch has been wanting to do the letter B for a while now- it's her Uncle Brian's letter, she keeps informing me. So we got started with wood pieces and our letter collage decorated with stick-on buttons (no messy gluing!)
Munch has definitely just taken our alphabet lessons and run with them. I often find her working on matching stickers to beginning sounds in the workbook Grandma bought her. She continues to discover additional words that didn't make it onto the letter collages. I ended up taking a blank journal, wrote a letter on each page, and we'll put additional words there. I'm definitely starting to lose some steam, and we're only halfway through the alphabet, but it's difficult for me to stick to the process now that she's learned most of her sounds, with the exception of x, q, and y. But I'll stay the course, because she's still so interested, and I think kids like routines.
We made several puppets for B day- a bear, bird, and bunny (Munch didn't want to call it a rabbit) and it's always fun to pull the rest out to play
Later on, we went out for a bike ride in the neighborhood and with the ever-present breeze, it was quite a pleasant day
My beautiful girl!

Monday, August 10, 2009

My Little Artist

Inspired by a past episode of J&K Plus 8, where Kate takes the little kids to do some painting, I picked up a few canvases at the beginning of summer. Munch planned the main colors and I added another complementary one or two as she painted. Here are the results-

I think I'll have her do one more so we have a group of three. Since our first two use red- maybe the third will be mostly pinks and reds.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Good Fun

As always, summer weekends are busy, busy, busy! But I love that we've had the opportunity to get together so often with family and friends. Last weekend, we celebrated my sister's birthday-
would you believe my parents had NO birthday candles in the house? I guess it's time to buy them a box!
AudioDad's been busy with a project I've been wanting done for so long- we removed our gross, old, broken hot tub (hasn't worked since before we moved here) and he's ripping out this multi-leveled deck that left Munch with small, odd spaces to play. I didn't have to ask twice if he wanted to use the hot tub at my parents' house-
Since we were off to see Gina and the boys the next day, I decided to skip the commute home and stayed the night. Munch loved having a sleepover at Grandma & Grandpa's house. What was really nice, though, was that my brother and sister were both there too- we couldn't remember the last time we were all home at the same time for dinner together and we enjoyed our Chinese take-out (yay! no cooking!) on the deck overlooking the San Francisco bay on a gorgeous summer evening-Munch was especially relaxed after a nice dinner
The next morning, Munch and I headed off to Gina's parents' house, where she's staying while visiting from Hawaii. They have an incredible backyard and the kids quickly climbed on to the swing together
Next we loaded them in the wagon for a walk to the park After kids got good and tired out we came back to the house for a delicious lunch and the kids tried on the adorable grass skirt and coconut bra that Gina brought for Munch Good fun! But I'm starting work again next week- the summer goes by way too fast!

Don't miss a bite- Become a FOLLOWER!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Too Many Recipes!

I have a problem. I cannot help myself when it comes to collecting recipes. I clip them from magazines or newspapers, get them from friends and coworkers, and print so many off the web. They are tucked away into piles and binders and envelopes all over the house. And I haven't yet mentioned the many back issues of Martha, Bon Appetit, Cook's Illustrated, and so on- I CAN'T just toss them- what if there's a recipe I might want? But finally I had to face it- my "cookbook" had become too unwieldy, too full for any more recipes. I guess I've been tackling this project for a while now. About a year or so ago I cancelled all subscriptions- no more was allowed to come in until I got a handle on what was already here. Then I started working through the little stacks of magazines and clippings that were squirreled away all over the house. This week I looked through my binder and decided I needed to separate the good stuff- my tried and true favorite recipes- from the stuff I hadn't even tried yet. Out of my recipe binder went clippings for everything that I'd never cooked- many actually ended up in the trash since I found I was no longer interested. Everything I still wanted to try got transferred into 2 smaller binders to flip through for when I'm in the mood for something new. The result is this-(I'm thrilled that the covers actually close!!!)
and this-because I told myself if it was going in the "to try" binder, I really had to do it. These cupcakes were inspired by the delicious passionfruit cupcakes I get from Kara's. Gina kindly brought me a couple jars of passionfruit jelly, which I made into a curd-which I used to fill a yellow cake recipe clipped from Martha Stewartand I frosted it with a meringue buttercreamThe verdict? The passionfruit filling turned out perfectly! I now can use the same technique to make fruit curds from jellies if the primary juice isn't readily available. The cake recipe is nice, but not necessarily a keeper- I think I'll keep looking for a basic vanilla cake recipe- I have a few others in my to-try binder. Making a buttercream from sugar syrup was easier than I thought, and it made a nice, not-too-sweet frosting, but it still wasn't better than my white chocolate buttercream. Because ultimately there IS a method to the madness of my recipe clipping- I don't have a wide-ranging repertoire of things I like to cook and bake, but I AM determined to find the best recipe for those few items.

Friday, August 7, 2009

More Fun With Gina and the Kids

Next stop of favorite blog trips for Gina & I (with kids in tow) was Scientopia and lunch at Oxbow Market. It was a pretty quiet morning and we were lucky to have Scientopia almost to ourselves for the first hour. The boys headed straight to the train tableand the digging pitwhile Munch painted and beaded.
All the kids had fun in the dramatic play area with puppets, costumes, and instruments.
At lunchtime, we headed down the street for lunch. Munch had her standard ham & cheese mini arepa with yucca fires from Pica Pica and I had a cachapa filled with steak, plantains, and black beans.
After lunch we walked around. Munch loves checking the tanks at Kanaloa Seafood, so we made sure to stop therebefore heading off to Kara's for some delicious cupcakes (thanks again Gina!)

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Old Pals

I haven't posted much (at all) this past week- I've been running around the Bay Area, Munch in tow, with just 2 (!!!) weeks left before I head back to work. My very dearest friend is visiting from Hawaii (rough, I know) and I've been grabbing the opportunity to have lots of time with her and the kids. What's especially fun is that we've been meeting up at so many of the places I regularly blog about. Last week, we took Munch and Gina's oldest to Marine World (Discovery Kingdom- what a random name! I just can't get used to it, and when I do use it, no one around here knows what I'm talking about!)
Anyways, I never can get over how much our babies have grown every time we get them together.It's so sweet to see the kids go through the same routine every time- the first few hours are spent warming up to each other. Munch and I talk about her Auntie Gina and the kids all the time, but we only get together a couple of times a year. But the kids quickly fall into their own little friendship, especially now that they can play independently and both chatter away with each other more.
We did the usual- Thomas Town, Looney Toon land, the butterfly building, the fountain & rides in Jungle Land, but especially fun was that Munch's friend M. was tall enough to go on Cobra- one of the "real" coaster rides and her very favorite!