We are on day 6 with the 5 kids, and I can’t believe how smoothly it is going. Don’t get me wrong, I am exhausted, but so far, they are all alive, do not seem sleep deprived or malnourished and in general are pretty happy. I could totally handle this every day- no, no I could not. Last night, because of everyone’s crazy schedule, was the first night that the seven of us all had dinner together at the same time. Spaghetti and meatballs was definitely the easiest thing to feed that many mouths, and I made cheesy garlic bread and green beans to go along with it. The garlic bread was a hit. I got to “take and bake” loaves of french bread from the grocery store, mashed up some garlic, added some butter and mozzarella cheese and they devoured it. I felt like the best cook in the world. Cheese makes everything better!
Cheesy Garlic Bread
4-5 cloves of garlic minced
1 cup grated mozzarella cheese
Slice the French bread length wise and unfold like a book. Butter both sides and spread the minced garlic. Add mozzarella cheese on top and bake at 350 until cheese is melted.
Tomorrow morning our good friends and neighbors are heading out of town for 11 days. Last week their babysitter had to cancel, so we are going to take their 4 children while they are gone. I love these kids- ages 3,5,9 and 11 (and of course add Walker in who is 10). They are exceptionally well behaved and the older two boys are completely independent and Walker’s best friends- so Walker is beyond excited. The girls- ages 3 and 5 are super adorable and sweet. All that being said, I am slightly nervous about all of a sudden having 5 children to feed and well, let’s be honest, keep alive. Corby is just a touch more than a little nervous and is currently wondering what we were thinking when we offered. Fortunately, my neighbor has cooked up a storm and left menus and lunches and snacks and pretty much everything we could need, so I really think this will be a lot of fun and quite an adventure for us. I am most nervous about doing the girl’s hair- especially for ballet. In researching things that could be fun for all of us to do and fun for all of us to eat, I came across this recipe for Grilled Ham and Cheese Waffle Sandwiches- or breakfast for dinner. It looks great and will be a fun treat for the kiddos. I will keep you posted of how it all goes!
Grilled Ham and Cheese Waffle Sandwiches
8 frozen toaster waffles
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard (optional)
1/2 pound sliced deli ham
1/4 pound Cheddar, thinly sliced
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
Place 4 of the waffles on a work surface. Spread one side of each with the mustard (if using). Top with the ham, cheese, and the remaining waffles. Spread the top of each sandwich with 1/2 tablespoon of the butter. Melt the remaining butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Place the sandwiches in the skillet, buttered-side up. Cook, pressing occasionally with the back of a spatula, until the cheese melts and the waffles are golden, 3 to 4 minutes on each side.
One of the easiest and best breakfasts is to make a German pancake. First they are delicious, second they poof which is fun to watch at any age, but especially for kids (I am talking really poofy if you are lucky), and third you can serve it with anything- fruit, syrup, powdered sugar, nutella etc. We did try to make one once when we were up in the mountains, and the altitude was a problem and the pancake did not poof which was rather disappointing. However- if you are not way up in the mountains, this is a fun tasty breakfast idea.
1/4 cup butter
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
6 eggs, lightly beaten
1/8 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Melt butter in a medium baking dish. In a medium bowl, mix flour, milk, eggs and salt. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish- try to pour slowly so that the batter goes on top of the butter and not underneath (this will help the pancake poof better). Bake on center rack in the preheated oven for 30 to 40 minutes, until golden brown.
For some reason this year, I don’t feel like Valentine’s Day has been hyped or celebrated (at least in my family) at all. Maybe it is because of yet another fake snow storm that closed schools and bridges Wednesday and Thursday. Maybe it is because Corby’s birthday is this weekend, and I am focused more on that. Really, I think it is because Walker’s class did not have a Valentine’s Day party, and so we did not make Valentine’s for his classmates. He did insist on wearing a pink tie to dancing school on Wednesday night though which was pretty cute. Anyway, it doesn’t really feel like Valentine’s Day to me especially since we are celebrating Corby’s birthday with my parents tonight with take out and the new season of House of Cards (so ridiculously excited to watch it). So, to get in the Valentine’s Day mood, I thought I would try making some chocolate fudge this afternoon as a little Valentine’s Day treat (granted it won’t actually be eaten on Valentine’s Day as the recipe calls for it to sit overnight, but better late than never). This recipe looks delicious,and I can’t wait to try it!
4 ½ cups sugar
1 can evaporated milk
1/3 cup butter
1 – 12 oz. milk chocolate chips
2 bars German chocolate
1 cup marshmallow crème
2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup chopped pecans (optional)
Butter a 10 x 15 pan and set aside.
Put the sugar, evaporated milk, and butter in a heavy sauce pan. Over medium heat, bring these ingredients to a boil for 5 ½ minutes stirring constantly.
Remove from the heat and add the chocolate chips, German chocolate bars, marshmallow crème and vanilla – stir until melted and well incorporated. If you choose to add the pecans, add them now and stir.
Pour the mixture into the prepared 10 x 15 pan – let the fudge set on the counter overnight, then cut it into squares.
As this is a baking blog, I am not sure if I have mentioned my preferences in alcohol. I like beer. Light beer. Ultra light beer. That’s about it. I will occasionally drink red wine and perhaps a glass of champagne, but I have never enjoyed liquor. I, of course, tried shots of liquor in college when that seemed like a fun thing to do, but now on the very rare occasion that I am offered a shot of something, I generally turn it down because I do not like the taste of liquor at all. This little strawberry recipe however, I can get involved with, and it is a really cute idea for a Valentine’s Day cocktail party treat.
1 bottle amaretto liquor
1 lb fresh strawberries, hulled and cored
Reddi-whip, Coolwhip, fresh whip cream (your choice)
Pour amaretto liqueur into each strawberry and top with whipped cream. Eat strawberry whole to avoid mess and enjoy!!
Tomorrow morning I am running my first ever race, the Folly Beach “Save the Lighthouse” half marathon. Here is a picture of the lighthouse- who wouldn’t want to save that! I am getting fairly nervous as it has been snowing and icing since Tuesday which means that I have not gone for a run since Monday which actually is not really a big deal- more to the point, I am nervous about running and being able to complete 13.1 miles without crawling/crying across the finish line. I have been googling all morning race day preparations, and a lot of websites and blogs suggest eating a banana and some toast for breakfast pre race. Well, that is not much of a recipe so I thought I would share a great banana bread recipe instead, and while I will not eat this tomorrow morning, I will look forward to it on Sunday morning- if I can actually get out of bed. Will keep you posted on how the race goes- wish me luck!
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs, beaten
2 1/3 cups mashed overripe bananas
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a 9×5 inch loaf pan.
In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt. In a separate bowl, cream together butter and brown sugar. Stir in eggs and mashed bananas until well blended. Stir banana mixture into flour mixture; stir just to moisten. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan.
Bake in preheated oven for 60 to 65 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center of the loaf comes out clean. Let bread cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack.
It is supposed to snow in Charleston tomorrow. People are initiating emergency guidelines. We are preparing for total shut down for the forecasted one inch of snow. I haven’t heard anything yet about potential school closings, but I am getting prepared to have a rambunctious 10 year old home from school either tomorrow or Wednesday. And what better way to spend the day than making soft pretzels! My only concern about this is it being so cold in the house that the dough won’t rise properly, but I will keep you posted on that when we make them. This is a picture from a long weekend up in the mountains last February- I seriously doubt that we will get anywhere near that much snow- but the kiddos sure did have fun!
1 cup milk
1 package active dry yeast
3 tablespoons light brown sugar, packed
2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided (2 tablespoons for the dough; 3 tablespoons for brushing on finished pretzels)
1 teaspoon fine salt
1/3 cup baking soda
Coarse salt, to taste
Warm the milk in a small saucepan until it’s about 110 degrees (alternatively, warm it in the microwave for about 40 seconds); pour into a medium bowl and sprinkle in the yeast. Let the yeast soften, about 2 minutes; stir in the brown sugar and 1 cup of the flour with a wooden spoon. Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter and stir into the mix. Add the remaining 1 ¼ cups flour and fine salt to make a sticky dough. Add more flour if necessary (you’ll probably need a few tablespoons) to form dough into a ball. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead, adding more flour if needed, until smooth but still slightly tacky, about 5 minutes. Shape into a ball, place in a clean, lightly greased bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Punch the dough to deflate it, then turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough into 6 equal pieces. Roll and stretch each piece with the palms of your hands into a 30-inch rope, holding the ends and slapping the middle of the rope on the counter as you stretch. Form each into a pretzel shape (form a U-shape, then holding the ends of the rope, cross them over each other and press firmly onto the bottom of the pretzel).
Dissolve the baking soda in 3 cups warm water in a shallow baking dish. Gently dip each pretzel in the soda solution, then arrange on a prepared baking sheet (re-shaping if necessary) and sprinkle lightly with course salt. Bake until golden, 10 – 12 minutes. Melt remaining 3 tablespoons butter and brush on baked pretzels. The pretzels are best enjoyed fresh on the same day.
*If you prefer a cinnamon sugar topping, omit the coarse salt. Brush with butter after baking and sprinkle generously with cinnamon sugar (1/2 cup sugar plus about 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon)
I really hate clutter- so much so that I throw things away by mistake and then rage around the house looking for them later but that is neither here nor there. So this past Christmas, instead of giving Walker some toy or thing that will just clutter up his room, we very selflessly gave him a trip, and last Friday, Corby, Walker and I went down to Atlantis in the Bahamas for the long weekend. See what I mean- super selfless. It was such a drag to leave to cold for 3 days to sit in the warm sun by the most spectacular blue water. Anything for the kids, right? We had the best time. My brother and sister also joined in on the “no stuff” Christmas for Walker and gave him excursions while we were down there, so one morning he swam with the dolphins and the next we went snorkeling through the “ruins” of Atlantis. Of course, while we were there we had to try some local food, and what better than conch. Here is a great recipe for conch fritters- a little taste of the Bahamas. Walker absolutely loved them- enjoy!
1 quart oil for frying
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup milk
ground cayenne pepper to taste
seasoned salt to taste
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup chopped conch meat
1/2 onion, chopped
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons ketchup
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1 tablespoon hot sauce
salt and pepper to taste
Heat the oil in a large pot or deep fryer to 365 degrees.
In a bowl, mix the flour, egg, and milk. Season with cayenne pepper, seasoned salt, salt, and pepper. Mix in the conch meat, onion, bell pepper, celery, and garlic.
Drop the batter by rounded tablespoons into the hot oil, and fry until golden brown. Drain on paper towels.
In a bowl, mix the ketchup, lime juice, mayonnaise, hot sauce, salt, and pepper. Serve dipping sauce on the side with the fritters.
In the last two days, trailers for new television shows about South Carolina have been aired. Please please please do not believe that South Carolina is anything like what is depicted in these shows. The first one I saw (and I have been hearing about this upcoming show for a while) is called Southern Charm and will be airing on Bravo on March 3rd. To be honest, I almost threw up when I saw the trailer as it is so ridiculous and has absolutely NOTHING to do with Charleston or anything remotely like “Southern Charm”. The second show is from the producers of Jersey Shore which should tell you something right there. It is called Party Down South and is filmed in Murrells Inlet. This show is actually not even worthy of comment. Now that I have had my say about the ridiculousness of these shows and how they are in no way a representation of what South Carolinians are like, I do have to say that I can’t wait to watch them. Dirty reality shows can be so entertaining. To combat my icky feeling about these shows and to remind myself that we have many many wonderful things I love about this state, here is a delicious and very traditional South Carolina dish- Tomato Pie.
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped green pepper
1 (10 ounce) can refrigerated flaky biscuits
3 tomatoes, thinly sliced
1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
1 cup low-fat mayonnaise
1 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon salt-free garlic and herb seasoning blend
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a medium baking dish.
Melt butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Place celery, onion, and green pepper into the skillet, and saute until tender.
Press biscuits into the prepared baking dish to form a crust. Layer with the tomatoes. Top with the sauteed vegetables.
In a medium bowl, mix Cheddar cheese, mayonnaise, sour cream, and salt-free seasoning blend. Spread evenly over the vegetables.
Bake 45 minutes in the preheated oven, until bubbly and lightly browned. Cool 15 to 20 minutes before serving.