Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Under the Weather

Well this blog post will be lacking in pictures. Not in the drap and drop mood right now and can't get Microsoft Word to acknowledge my blogger account so that I can just publish from there. Grr. If anyone can help a technically challenged gal out I'd greatly appreciate it. I've wanted to blog every day but after hours of, "mommy..mommy..MOMMY!" that desire seems to fade pretty fast, as all I want is my head to hit the pillow. But anyway. The weather out here has been all sorts of cracked out this week. First it was 80's all last week and now..well let's see, at this moment (according to the app on my phone) it is 48 degrees Fahrenheit. Lame. Absolutely. 100%. lame. We actually had a frost the other day which of course scared me silly since the plants are still tiny buuuuut they seem to have survived pretty well! I'm proud of them. Oh would you look at the time! It's that time again, off to school we go! Hopefully I won't be so sapped of energy that I can't post again this evening. I guess we shall see!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Pizza Bar = Kids Lovin' Veggies

Have really picky veggie eaters like every other parent? Here's a way to get your kids to eat some veggies and actually like it! You can't argue with these faces now can you? Well..I guess you could, but I warn you...they will argue back.
Okay so on to my new found, not all that new really but shh don't tell, secret to get kids to eat more veggies and have a blast while doing it.
PIZZA!! What kid does not LOVE some pizza? Not only that but it that pizza crust is a blank canvas for just about anything your heart desires. Hell you can even cross out the typical pizza crust and go nuts. Dessert pizzas are really good, and a lot of fun too.
So here's what we did.
I made a huge batch of pizza crust, I don't have the recipe on hand to share. Sorry! But I have used Bobby Flay's flat bread recipe over on and it's really good. Remember to plan ahead when working with yeast doughs so that you have proper timing. I can't tell you the number of times I've wanted to make something with yeast and then looked at the proofing times to see it just wasn't happening. (It's 10:00 a.m. let's have cinnamon rolls for breakfast!! it)
I know a lot of you will look at this next part and question my sanity but trust me.
Let your kids help you.
It gives them ownership of they're meal and lets face it, things always taste better when you make it yourself. Remember the first time you made some Mac n cheese? I do. 7th grade. FACS class. It was the best macaroni and cheese from a box I had ever tasted.
Little hands will love the task of rolling out the dough into their very own mini pizzas. I even let my son join in and he caught on fast. You are never too old or too young to get in on kneading/rolling a ball of dough.

Be patient with the kiddos too, it will take them longer to get it rolled out. Step in and help them by getting it started a good bit of the way so that you aren't baking pizzas at midnight.

With little man I let him roll out the dough until he was sidetracked by something flashy and noisy. Same with Ms. Cheesin, so it might not take all that long before they're on to something else.

Since you took the time to make some homemade crust, take a break and use a canned sauce. Even better, use a jar of sauce you canned yourself back in the summer. wink wink. Don't worry there will be tons of canning fun on this blog as well. Like I said..self sufficiency.
Come up with an array of veggie toppings but make sure you have some indulgent ingredients as well.

We decided on a red sauce (a white sauce would be great too) and our topping choices were crisp crumbled bacon, fresh broccoli florets, sliced mushrooms, sliced onions, sliced sweet peppers, roasted garlic cloves and baby spinach. Make a big space to let them top their own pizzas or you can always top them but let them tell you what they want on it. We set ours up on the dining room table so they could get to it easier.

They all had bacon (I knew that was coming) but they also had a ton of veggies! I mean they used all the broccoli! It was fantastic. I was so very very proud of them.
We topped them off with mozzarella cheese and some Parmesan cheese as well then baked them up and voila. Healthier personal pizzas. The kids devoured them. So fast. They even ate some of our leftover parental veggie and bacon pizza.
The oldest lady even asked if we could do this every week. It will become a weekly event, which also is a bonus because it clears 2 nights out of my 2 week menu planning.
Go out on a limb and try this with your (little/big) kids and you might just be surprised at what they make. Get your kids into the kitchen with you as often as you can. Even if it's you cooking but walking them through it like their very own food demo class.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Sunday Livin'

Good Evening! My apologies for not coming back and introducing the garden, tomorrow seemed to take a little bit longer than the conventional 24 hours.

Well in all reality we had guests over for burgers and with 6 kids running around and conversation flowing it was difficult to break away to join the blogosphere, but I'm here now! Does that count for something?
On to the garden. Tonight will only be a part of the garden, I haven't photographed our bag garden just yet. (Hoping for some green to come through since we replanted after the unexpected cold destroyed the seedlings.)
We live on base, therefore we have strict rules to abide by when it comes to changing anything (some of it's a bit ridiculous, don't worry I have a rant for you coming up later) The rules for having a garden are that it must be on a raised bed. If you do the railroad ties and piles of dirt method you have to somehow get rid of all of that prior to moving out.
Or you pay for them to get rid of's always an astronomical fee.
I'm cheap. Always looking for a bargain or a deal, hell that's part of the reason we wanted to garden to begin with! It's cheaper for us, we use a ton of produce and I love to can/freeze/dehydrate, so whatever we don't eat will be preserved for later use. So my clever husband came up with a solution to our raised bed garden blues.
Kiddie pools. Those cheap-o flimsy blue plastic kiddie pools that every child has played in at some point or another. (If your into the aesthetics of the garden then this isn't for you) I was hesitant at first. Worried about how the backyard would look's the backyard and I want a garden and this is how it's going to happen. So you know what?! I had to suck it up and deal...ahh the lessons of life.
The hubby, with his handy dandy knife, slashed a number of holes into the bottom of the kiddie pools to give the soil adequate drainage. They were then filled with a mix of vegetable garden soil and fertilizer.
The shanking of the kiddie pools was a bit traumatic at first with the older kids. They thought they had a pool for each of them to play in. But they got over it pretty quick when it was obvious they were going to get dirty. I definitely recommend having your kids get involved, it's very important for them to know where they're food comes from. If you think they know, you should ask and check.
I sent my then 15 year old younger brother into my garden on summer with the then 2 year old daughter to go get some onions for me to use in whatever it was I was cooking at the time. They come in, my brother comes into the kitchen and hands me what is NOT an onion at all. He gave me a GREEN TOMATO!!! Ah I could have died from laughter. He defended himself saying the 2 year old told him that the tomato was an onion. Oh brother. Literally.
Back to the gardening.
So here we have our 3 garden tubs, now what did we plant in these?
In the first tub we planted some Yukon Gold Potatoes, in the second tub we planted some Purple Potatoes and at the request of the 3 year old, the 3rd tub contains watermelon seeds. Don't worry I'll take progress pictures along the way, I'm curious myself to see how container gardening the potatoes will turn out. We've got quite a few breaking through the surface as it is right now.
Since these pictures were taken we bought quite a few bags of vegetable garden soil, stabbed the bottoms for drainage and cut holes out of the top to plant our tomatoes, peppers, green beans, corn, squash, green onions, and herbs.
Oh and a word to the wise. If you do have more than one child offering their help always keep an eye out for their fun quirks. The oldest loves the idea of a garden but wasn't too keen on getting dirt in her nails, the boy wanted nothing more than to use the shovel and the youngest little lady turned into a pint size foreman.
Just looking at this picture I can hear it all again. "You need more dirt; Daddy it needs water; I want to see my watermelons; Harper is touching them!!!!!"
Always fun.
After we did our container gardening in the backyard we took our strawberry plants to the front yard. Each child has their own plant to watch over, which gives them a little responsibility and they thought it was the coolest thing to have their very own strawberry plant. We learned really fast that someone/thing else on the block is really excited about our choice to plant berries too.
Every time a flower comes up, within the day it's gone. So today we purchased a hanging pot to plant them in so hopefully they'll do much better.
I'm not sure if it's the squirrels or the rabbits but something was chomping on them. If you have any ideas let me know! (We can't trap them or anything, against the rules for housing.)
Oh yeah, that reminds me. The rant. Soooo I called the housing office the other day to ask about having a few hens in the backyard in a coop, I think I was the first person to ask because they had to investigate and call me back. I had already ready through the lease and the rental agreement rules and there was nothing in their addressing chickens. We can't have snakes, rodents, horses, pit bulls, but nothing about chickens. Well the answer was an astounding no. No farm animals. Really? I was ready to argue the benefits of chickens and how, if kept properly, there is no smell issue, no rooster=minimal noise, they're less noisy than a dog, less destructive to property, etc. I was tempted to just do it anyway considering everyone and their brother has a pittie on base. (Not a slam on the breed, I think they're gorgeous dogs and can be family dogs if raised right) So not only do I have to be extra creative garden wise but I can't even have 2-3 hens. Lame. Really, really lame.
Anyway. It's about that time, the time when I get a bit of evening freedom as the kids get ready for bed. So I say goodbye for now as I trade the keyboard for sponge bob pajamas and bedtime kisses.
What's coming next? A post about a fun dinner that your kids can help cook, might even get them to eat more veggies too.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Wine Anyone?

The day is slowly winding down, and by slowly I mean my 21 month old son who is fighting sleep like a champ. Come on baby boy, just give in already! He's squirming and talking himself out of it with a vigor. It's definitely a glass of wine kind of night.

Before I forget, Happy Saint Patrick's Day! We celebrated with corned beef and cabbage for supper, gave the husband a Guinness float to wash it down with. No worries, the kids got Coke floats. We all had green of some sort on as well.

Today was decently productive. Added onto the compost, fixed the landscapers horrid mulch dumping, (yes...piles of mulch dumped...right on top of my strawberry plants don't ya know!) along with all the other fix ins of an average day in this household.

Ah. He's still awake...but barely, Daddy has rock-the-baby-to-sleep-duty tonight. That's normally a Mommy job. Hoping he nods off soon. I've been craving a slice of this citrus olive oil cake I made earlier in the week with some fresh strawberries..maybe mashed into some sort of goopy sauce.

Oooh speaking of baked goodies. I made the cinnamon-sugar craisin swirl bread that I talked about in the previous entry. See the delicious pictures...ah if only they smell-o-vision. Breakfast is sure to be an A+.

How can you make this? (yes...yes you can!...remember..the little engine that could? you can too.)

I adpated the recipe from a fantastic book titled How to Bake Artisan Bread in 5 minutes a day. If you love to bake and want to bake bread you need to get this book. Mine is covered in flour marks and grease stains where dough was stuck between pages.

The dough recipe makes three 1 1/2 pound loaves. The batch of dough gave me 2 beautiful loaves of sandwich bread and one sexy loaf of breakfast deliciousness. So let's dive in.

For the Dough: (Note: this recipe is for 3 loaves, if you only want one loaf you'll need to reduce your measurements)

3 cups of warm water
2 packets of yeast (make sure you aren't using expired isn't as reliable)
1 1/2 tablespoons of salt
2 tablespoons of sugar
1 stick of unsalted butter melted (you'll additional melted butter to brush on top of the loaf)
7 cups of flour (I like to use KAF's Unbleached All Purpose Flour)
one beaten egg and one tbsp of water
1/3 cup of sugar
2 teaspoons Saigon cinnamon
3/4 cup craisins

1. Grab yourself a mixing bowl that holds at least 5 qts. (I use the my Kitchen Aid Mixer's bowl). Pour in your water, sprinkle the yeast on top then add the rest of the ingredients (yes flour goes in all at once).
2. Mix everything until all of the flour is incorporated. If you are using your stand mixer make sure to use the dough hook attachment.
3. Cover and let it calm down for about 2 hours.
4. Unless you plan on using your dough immediately, now is the time to refrigerate the dough (its easier to work with when it's cold)
5. We're going to pretend you're not refrigerating it. Take out a melon size ball of dough and sprinkle it with flour. Shape into a ball and smooth the top over to the bottom turning as you go, the bottom will look all bunched up and weird but trust me it all smooths out here in a second.
6. Grease a loaf pan with a neutral oil like canola or vegetable.
7. Sprinkle the countertop with flour and bust out the old school rolling pin, dust that baby with flour as well. Get to rolling. Roll your dough out into a rectangle (mine always looks like a circle who wants to be square). I do mine to about a 1/4 inch thickness.
8. Now it's time for some egg wash. Take a beaten egg and mix it with a tablespoon of water. Now brush the surface of your dough all over with it
9. Mix together the sugar and cinnamon and evenly distribute on top of your egg washed dough, now add the craisins again be sure to evenly distribute them.
10. Here's the fun part. Take one end and slowly roll your dough up like a jellyroll then pinch the seam and ends and fold the ends under.
11. Place your dough into a loaf pan to proof again(if using fresh dough let sit for 40 minutes if refrigerated give it an hour and 40 minutes)
12. 5 minutes before it's done preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, then bake your loaf for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown. When I pull mine out I like to rub a tablespoon of butter all over it and let it all melt beautifully.
13. Let it cool COMPLETELY!! I stress that because if you try to slice it while it's still warm you won't get very pretty slices.
and BAM. homemade delicious bread. Not to mention the bonus aroma your house is filled with! Hours later I picked up the oldest from school and as soon as she walked in the door "Mommy...what is that smell?? Did you make...CINNAMON ROLLS?!"

It's so worth it. And you know what's going into your bread, no worries about crazy preservatives.

Yes. He's finally asleep. It's cake and wine time. My apologies for the less than splendid picture quality. Microsoft Words publish feature was not being friendly last night. Any techies out there want to give a girl a hand?

What’s in store for tomorrow? Eh, I think I’ll introduce you to our little garden. See you tomorrow.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Grand Hello

So, you've stumbled upon Floured. A quaint little blog just getting on it's tiny blog feet. Why Floured? Simple. Why not?

What is Floured going to be about? A little bit of everything. If I had started this bad boy up a couple of hours ago I would be sharing with you the loaf of fresh sandwich bread that I just pulled from the oven and lathered in thick, rich, melted unsalted butter.

Don't fret. Tomorrow's going to be just as luscious, if not more. Tomorrow I'll be making cinnamon craisin bread, and yes...there will be sharing. and recipe sharing. Maybe if you're in the neighborhood I'll toast you a slice.

"Ah, but I'm not a baker...what else do you got for me?"

Well, I have what I like to call crafting ADD. I see a project and instantly go for it, nevermind that I might not finish it for a few months or it might become a forgotton pile of fabric scraps stuffed into the box with the rest of my crafting supplies. However, when it comes to polymer clay..those are projects I normally have finished the same day.

Not only that but we just got our vegetable garden for the year started and I would be honored to share it's victories and defeats with all of you. Maybe you'll learn from my mistakes!! (know your zone. ugh I couldn't stress that more. See...a defeat already prior to the blog)

I would love to help other Stay at Home Moms and Dad's find their independence in a world of legos, Nick Jr., sippy cups, and soiled diapers. It is possible!!

Stay tuned =)