Week #4 – Start Collecting Kairos Moments

In Carpool drop-off yesterday, my little guy realized he left his back pack at home.

“Just go. It’s OK,” I said.

“I can’t! I need it!” He cried.

This was taxing my sleep-deprived, get-up-early-no-matter-what-even after-a-girls’-night-in-and-2.5-glasses-of-wine self.

I struggled to maintain “nice mommy” composure and reminded myself that twice in the last two weeks, I have taken my biggest guy back home to get something he forgot. So I gave in. We went back home. On the way there, we passed a dump truck.

Apparently one wasn’t enough for the Babes.

She wanted more.
On demand.

“Duck truck!” cry, cry, cry. “Duck truck!”

I calmed her a little by telling her we would see one in a minute when we made the loop again.

She settled.

We dropped the kids off.

“Budger!” cry, cry, cry. She wants her brothers.
I talk her down again.
“Budger!” cry, cry.

We turn the corner to go to the grocery store because that had been the plan all morning.
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Facebook Update

If you follow this blog regularly, you know that a few days ago, I made a big announcement that I had set up a Facebook page for Home is Where the Cookies Are. You may have also noticed that shortly after that, the Facebook box disappeared from the right sidebar and I’ve not said a peep on the Facebook page for a few days.

That would be because in my efforts to make the page more interactive, I managed to block myself out. I won’t explain how.

I’ll just let you know that I’m not at that link anymore, and I sure would like you, if you don’t mind, to come over here to this link instead:

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Home-is-Where-The-Cookies-Are/218440131582050

I changed the picture, so you can tell which is the new one. I’m assuming you should be able to “unlike” the other page, although, we’ve now witnessed just how extensive my Facebook knowledge actually is. . . .

I’m sorry for the trouble. I sure would miss you if you didn’t make it over to the new address. I look forward to reuniting on the newer, more flexible page!

love to you all, and thanks for your kind support!   xoxo –

Sara

PS – If you can take an extra second, please let me know if you can see the Facebook Like Box in the right sidebar? I can see it, but I want to make sure you all can see it too. . . . Thanks!

Taco Chickpeas

I’ve been craving things like, umm, chocolate sour cream bundt cake lately. . .  and french fries.

I really want to start eating healthier. I really do. It’s just so hard to follow through when you have that cake sitting on the counter asking you to use its glaze as lip gloss. (That would be, “lip glaze”).

So I found a happy medium. I saw this idea months ago in Fitness Magazine. Maybe even a whole year ago, because time is like that – a year can feel like just a couple of months.  I was intrigued by the concept of roasted garbanzo beans, but I actually got a little thrill out of the concept of tiny little french fry-ish taco balls.

It doesn’t matter, what it broils down to (you like that?)  is this:

Chickpeas, taco spice, olive oil, bake. It is almost like a taco french fry.
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Chocolate Sour Cream Bundt Cake with Chocolate Glaze

Who would have guessed Chocolate Sour Cream Bundt Cake could be a self discovery tool?

Not me.

But it taught me a few things about myself:

1. I can really get into a chocolate cake – even if I supposedly am not really a chocolate person.

2. I don’t read instructions very well, or at least print them out very well, because I was missing pretty much every important direction as to how I should make the glaze. . . .

My version = not so pretty.

The real version = OMG. Rich, smooth, beautiful, pure decadence.

The beautiful one layered over my ugly one? Wow. . . .

3. I discovered I might start wearing this chocolate glaze as a lip gloss. I’ll look goth or something. . . . No, “Goth”, not gross.

It’ll be my new fad.

I dare you to join me.

4. I’m trying to work this cake into my workout. Like, dumbell row. . . . a bite of chocolate cake into my mouth.

5. I think subconsciously, I felt compelled to make this cake to try to erase images of my nightmare the other night, where I had broccoli flourets growing from my face and scalp.

I’d much rather have chocolate cake scalp. Of course, I’m interpreting this dream to mean two things only:

Stop eating broccoli & start eating chocolate sour cream bundt cake.

I can interpret your dreams too, just leave me a comment and I’ll get back to you. I’m sure it has something to do with this chocolate cake.

Chocolate Sour Cream Bundt Cake with Chocolate Glaze, delicious, rich, easy enough for every day, but fancy enough for company!

Make it. Soon. It’s totally worth it, and it will teach you all about yourself. It’s really just a tool to discover who is hiding in there. Really!

Bonus points for this cake? You DON’T EVEN NEED A MIXER!!

It’s easy folks, and it’s impressive looking.

I’ll admit – I have double the glaze in my photos than what the original recipe called for. I have not included that change below, but I highly recommend you double it too – so you and your cake can do the back-stroke in the pools of chocolate glaze that gather on the plate.

Either that, or you can have a nice healthy stash of lip gloss for the days to come. . . . We are doing that, right??

Chocolate Sour Cream Bundt Cake with Chocolate Glaze

Rating: 51

Yield: 10 Servings

Ingredients

    For the Cake:
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, plus more for the pan
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for the pan
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • For the Glaze:
  • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped (I used semi-sweet chocolate chips, not chopped)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons agave nectar or corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream (totally necessary)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar

Directions

For the Cake:

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a 10 or 12 cup bundt pan and set aside.

In a small saucepan, combine the butter, cocoa powder, salt, and water and put over medium heat. Cook, stirring, just until melted and combined. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Put the flour, sugar, and baking soda in a large bowl and whisk to blend. Add half of the melted butter mixture and whisk until completely blended (it will be very thick). Add the remaining butter mixture and whisk. Add the eggs one at a time, whisking each to blend completely before adding the next, (I beat each egg individually first, then added it slowly). Whisk in the sour cream and vanilla until smooth.

Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, 40-50 minutes.

Let the cake cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then gently invert the cake onto a rack. Let cool completely before making the glaze.

For the Glaze:

Combine milk and sugar in a small saucepan and heat over low heat until sugar is melted and mixture is warm.

Combine the chocolate and agave syrup (or corn syrup) in a medium mixing bowl and set aside.

When the milk and sugar mixture is melted and warm, pour it over the chocolate and agave syrup. Let it sit for a minute to heat the chocolate, then whisk until smooth. Let it cool just slightly to thicken a little bit, then slowly pour it over the cooled cake.

Source

Barely adapted from Shutterbean from the Bi-Rite Market's Eat Good Food Cookbook

http://www.wherethecookiesare.com/2012/01/24/chocolate-sour-cream-bundt-cake-with-chocolate-glaze/

“Like” Home is Where The Cookies Are on Facebook!

Oh, I am sheepishly blushing. I have gotten Home is Where The Cookies Are its very own Facebook page. I feel a bit like I’m in high school hoping to be invited into the popular crowd. I hope you like me. If you do, I hope you’ll join me and let me know!

Humph. I’m sorry friends. In an effort to link my personal page and the blog page, I somehow blocked myself out of the blog page and cannot get back on! Darn it! So we are on a temporary hold, and when I get it fixed, I might just beg you to join at another location. Thank you for loving me anyway!!
Sara

Week #3 – Make Some Time

If only we could order up some time on the internet – or maybe with a 1-800 number. I wish we could. Because we all need a little extra time.

You need some time in the day to wind down, to wind up, to work your brain, or your heart, or your soul. You need some quiet moments to ponder what is going on inside you and in your home and in the world outside your front door. You need a little peaceful time where you can quiet all the loudness of daily business and to-do’s and the one billion thoughts that bombard your brain day in and day out.

I don’t know who you are. I don’t know if you are married or single, or if you have 10 kids or no kids. I don’t know if you work at home, or at an office, or if you go to school. I don’t know if you exercise or not. . . I don’t know.

What I do know is that we are better people when we have a little time to take a breather and remember who we are and what is important to us.

I know that if I can face the day with 45 minutes to an hour of alone time under my belt to start off, then I am a better mom. I know that if I take that time to just be me and do something I love, or pray, or write, or read, or examine my life, I have moments of growth that will keep me focused and content for most of the day.

I know it sounds like a tall order. We are all pressed for time. Activities, work, chores, families, friends, errands, paperwork, projects, school – the list seems endless. So where on earth do we get this time?? Here is the clincher:

Get

Up

Early.

Yup. I bribe myself with a cup of coffee and roll out of bed between 5:30 and 5:45 – sometimes even on the weekend. It keeps me sane. Yes, I am tired sometimes. . . well, most of the time, but I’m willing to make the trade. Otherwise, I would rarely get the chance at those quiet, introspective moments alone. Those 45 minutes of uninterrupted time fill me up and brace me for the day to come. That time strengthens me and grounds me and makes me content. . . most of the time.

Like everything on earth, it’s not 100% guaranteed, but it’s got pretty darn good odds. I’m still grouchy sometimes, I still lose my patience sometimes, I still throw internal pity parties for myself sometimes – but most of the time, most of the time, I am happier. I am more content and peaceful.

Most mornings I have found my mojo, and that means I can give more of my happy self to those around me.  My hope is that they’ll in turn be able to share more of their happy selves with those around them and happy selves will ripple out boundlessly.

What’s that quote? “When Mama’s happy, the whole world is happy?” 😉

And if you’re not a mama, it doesn’t matter. When one person’s happy, it’s contagious. That’s really the point.

So go set your alarm, test out the auto-brew setting on your coffee maker, and fill your cup too. . . .

 

 

 

 

 

Shredded Beef Sandwiches

Last night three of my family members asked if we could PLEASE not have two nights of experimental cooking in a row.

“It’s mean,” they said.

Really?

I reminded them of our dinner menu over the last several days:

Barbequed hamburgers and potato salad, Shredded Beef Sandwiches on grilled French bread buns (experiment), our family “staple” of grilled chicken, rice, and salad. . . now enter unpopular experiment number one:

white bean soup (blended to oblivion), with buttered whole wheat rolls and green salad,

unpopular experiment number two:

Asian chicken salad with edamame, red pepper, and orange-ginger dressing over rice.

Humph.

“Just not back to back, that’s all we ask. Maybe spread them out, like Monday/Thursday or something – and please, don’t mess with Friday – that’s pizza night”.

I think my mouth must be malfunctioning or something. Maybe my taste buds are dulled. Dunno. I liked both experimental meals. I was excited about the left overs even. What is wrong with me??

OK. I heard them. I can spread it out. That’s fine – they’re humoring me at least.

But notice not a one complained about the shredded beef sandwiches? That’s because we devoured them like a pack of wolves – and had to forcefully hold each other back from diving into seconds.

Once in a while Momatouille hits the jackpot. That was a jackpot night.

I knew it going in, because the smell of it roasting gave me the total heads-up. We were out in the street playing with the kids and I kept catching whiffs of something delicious cooking. I was pretty sure it was someone else’s dinner, and part of me wanted to hunt down the house and invite myself in to eat.

Then I realized – that was our dinner.

Oh. . . yum. . . .

I especially loved that this was a throw-it-in-the-pot and leave it recipe – no browning necessary, and the meat shredded beautifully. So easy! This would be a great make-ahead too – just reheat the meat when you’re ready.

The Superbowl is on the horizon. Bookmark this recipe. It’s worth it.

Fo shizzle.

Recipe:

Shredded Beef Sandwiches (we had enough for around 10 sandwiches)

Ingredients:

3 pounds beef chuck shoulder roast, cut into 1 pound pieces ( I ended up using Shoulder London Broil and it was perfect – practically melted to shreds with a fork)

4 cups low sodium beef broth

1 head garlic, cloves smashed and peeled

small handful of flat leaf Italian parsley and stems

1 red onion, thick sliced

3 Sage leaves

3 sprigs fresh thyme

Coarse sea salt and fresh ground black pepper

The fixin’s 

Prepared Horseradish

fresh chives – chopped

fresh flat leaf parsley – chopped

fresh ground black pepper

French bread hamburger buns, buttered and grilled or toasted

 Directions:

Preheat oven to 275 degrees F. In a large Dutch oven with a tight-fitting lid, combine beef, broth, garlic, parsley, onion, sage, and thyme. Sprinkle salt and pepper over the meat pieces. Cover everything with a layer of parchment paper and tuck the edges down as well as you can. Repeat with a layer of aluminum foil. Place in oven. Bake until beef is tender and can be easily pulled apart with two forks. The original recipe says 5 to 6 hours, but I checked mine after 4, and it was completely done and perfectly shred-able.

Before you begin to shred the meat, butter your buns and start them grilling or toasting.

Serve each sandwich slathered in horseradish and sprinkled with the chopped parsley and chives. Add salt and pepper to taste. (My guys also liked the addition of A1 sauce).

Chow your little heart out.

Source: Very slightly adapted from the Everyday Food recipe featured by Joy the Baker

 

Healthy(er) Banana Muffins

My maternal grandmother is a dynamite cook. I never knew this until I was an adult, because honestly, squeeze cheese on celery sticks and a black olive on each of my chubby little-kid fingers was all I really needed to keep myself going when I visited her house on the holidays. Add that to that the fact that she was just really good at giving us total “kid foods” whenever we visited, and you have the recipe for my food recall from her house.

If I had to name the foods that rip my taste-bud memories back into my childhood hours at Grandma’s, this would be the top 10 list:

1. As stated earlier, squeeze cheese on celery sticks –  I never actually ate this, but visually, it will always send me back to the Christmas Eve relish tray on her kitchen table.
2. Mexican Wedding Cakes
3. Little tiny pepper cookies
4. Snack mix that included Cheetos
5. Goldfish
6. RC Cola
7. Jelly beans out of an embroidered duck’s butt
8. Thanksgiving Turkey – served at the kids table – that I over-chewed so long that it turned into a dry pasty mass in my mouth and all I really wanted to do was spit it in my napkin. But I didn’t. I powered through and swallowed it in ball-form with a swig of aforementioned RC cola.
9. Totino’s pizza (post doughnut-making-marathon)
10.  Homemade doughnuts

Notice on this list, banana bread is nowhere to be found.

“Why Not?” screams the tantrum-y six-year-old in me. Grandma’s banana bread recipe is the best banana bread on. . . the. . . planet.

It’s sweet, rich, velvety, sweet, moist, rich, sweet, sweet, and sweet! It has this to-die-for crust on the top that part crunches when you take a bite and part melts in your mouth when you take a bite. The bread peaks when you bake it, and a crackly crater forms down the center of the Sweet Banana Bread Mountain Range.

So you get that it’s delicious, right? The thing is, Grandma never made this for us – but she made it for her kids, and my mom made it for us.  Mom made it a lot growing up – and I’m so glad she did, because otherwise, us kids would have totally missed out on this secret family recipe passed down from my Grandma’s mother-in-law.

Over time, and after years of wedded bliss to my non-sweet-loving husband (who actually really loves the sweet-y, sweet-sweet version of Gram’s banana bread), I felt it necessary to take the dessert factor down a notch. The kids love it too, so I needed a version that was healthier and could go in the “somewhat healthy snack” category with foods like granola bars, graham crackers, and pretzels – things we could grab on the way out the door, or have with a glass of milk to sustain hungry kid-bellies until meal time, but not send them into a sugar rush-and-crash cycle.

So this is my health-i-fied version. It’s got less sugar, less saturated fat, whole wheat flour, and super healthy flaxseed (that little seed is packed with both kinds of fiber, omega-3 essential fatty acids, and lignans – you can read about its wonders here.) It doesn’t knock you in the mouth with sweetness when you take your first bite, but it does make your tongue do a happy dance. It’s sweet enough, and the turbinado sugar dusting on the top creates a light crunch that gives way to a smooth and moist middle.

These are the absolute best when they are warm from the oven the first day they are baked. You can go ahead and keep them around a couple of days though, sealed in an airtight container or wrapped individually in plastic wrap. Sometimes I wrap them each separately and freeze them so I can grab them out one at a time for lunches or trips to the park.

Oh – and on a different note – this weekend was momentous for me. I now have a real live Kitchenaid stand mixer.

*Sniff*. I’m all growed up.

And, really, there was no better recipe to start with, because this mixer was passed on to me by Grandma. . . .

Recipe:

Healthy(er) Banana Muffins (makes about 15)

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon flaxseed + 3 tablespoons water
1/4 Cup Shortening
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup sugar
1 beaten egg
1 cup white flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup buttermilk (light buttermilk should work too)
1 1/2 cups banana pulp (anywhere between 1 to 1 1/2 cups works well – that’s 3 or 4 bananas)
turbinado sugar for sprinkling (about 1/4 tsp each)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F

Line a muffin tin with paper liners, or spray with cooking spray. In a small bowl, mix flaxseed and water and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, cream together shortening, vanilla, sugar, beaten egg. Add flaxseed mixture.
In a medium bowl, mix whole wheat flour, white flour, salt, and baking soda.
In a small bowl, mix together banana pulp and buttermilk.
Alternately add dry mixture and banana mixture to creamed mixture in four parts, starting with the dry mixture.
Divide batter evenly between 15 muffin cups.
Sprinkle each muffin with about 1/4 teaspoon of turbinado sugar.
Bake for 10 minutes at 425 degrees F, then turn oven temp down to 350 degrees F and bake for 3-7 minutes more.
Muffins are done when they are very lightly browned and a toothpick comes out mostly clean.

Source: Sara

The Help

Sniff, sniff, tear. Waaaaaaaah ha haaaaaaa!

I don’t know what I can say that can possibly do it justice.

I read the book. This weekend I saw the movie. They are both quadruple thumbs up.

It’s MLK day. Go get it, order it On Demand, whatever.

Fix a snack, hunker in, and cry your eyeballs out.

I suggest you just make this agreement with all those with whom you are watching:

“I am going to sob. Loud. When the credits are rolling, don’t try to talk to me, because I am going to be sobbing. LOUDLY. Just leave me alone, and let it happen.”

The lump will be gone tomorrow.

Maybe.

Watch it, and prepare to be moved.

 

Photo credit to IMDb.com