Sunday, July 7, 2013

Spelt Cinnamon Buns using Pioneer Woman's recipe (revised)

I love The Pioneer Woman.

She's an inspiration to me.

However, I like tweaking her perfection to healthy perfection.

I love using organic ingredients and a bit more of a clean and whole grain approach to food.

Her Cinnamon Roll recipe is amazing.  I'm not about to fix what ain't broke but I will "healthify" it by tweaking the flour and using all organic ingredients.  It cleans it up a bit.  I really need every excuse in the book NOT to eat these!

I've been making her recipe so often that I have it memorized.  Is that bad?

Hey, I have a lot of hungry boys to feed in this house. And I made the "mistake" of making these for my nephews so now I'm pretty much required to bake these every time they sleep over.

I often bake with organic Spelt flour which is considered an ancient grain. It's higher in protein and a bit easier to digest, and doesn't give you that whole "wheat" taste that I do not like.

Since I bake these regularly, I've decided to start tweaking the flavors I use.  I like to think of it as a seasonal cinnamon bun.

Pictured are Apple Cinnamon and Strawberry Jam.

I have great plans for blueberry and peach season coming up. Stay tuned!

I love "apple-anything" so I thought I'd try putting bit of apple on the dough before I rolled it out.

This recipe makes about 24 large cinnamon rolls.

I was going for 2 flavors.

Strawberry and Cinnamon Apple

I use organic spelt, grapeseed oil, organic sugar, raw organic milk, organic butter, organic apple, organic cinnamon, and homemade strawberry jam.

The Strawberry flavor has become a family favorite.

I actually went strawberry picking twice so I would have enough strawberries to make more jam.

It's the bun's fault.

I just add a bit of strawberry jam to the icing to give it some extra color and flavor.

PW's Cinnamon Roll Tweaked

1 quart organic milk
1 cup grapeseed oil
1 cup organic sugar
In largest cooking.soup pot you have, heat these 3 ingredients, stirring till just about to boil. Turn off and cool for 45 minutes.
2 packets of yeast (4 1/2 teaspoons)
Stir with spoon or whisk
Add (don't stir till done)
9 cups of organic spelt flour (need more for spelt)
1 Tablespoon sea salt
1 heaping Tablespoon baking powder
1 scant teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional- sometimes I forget)

Mix all together with long wooden spoon. Cover. Leave in warm spot for at least 1-2 hours. I find that if I make the dough in the morning, it rises even more if I don't make the buns till late afternoon or evening.

1-2 cups organic spelt flour. Knead into a ball, adding flour till pliable.
Sprinkle flour on clean work surface.
Roll out flour in large rectangle (about 30 inches by 18 inches)
Whatever looks good and will also roll up.

For Apple cinnamon:
2-3 Tablespoons soft (not melted) organic butter
Spread on the half of the rectangle
Cinnamon Sugar: Mix 1-2 teaspoons of cinnamon with 1 cup sugar. Sprinkle over the butter evenly.

For Strawberry:
Spread 1/2-3/4 cup of strawberry jam over other half of rectangle. Sprinkle with cinnamon (no sugar)

With a sharp knife, cut down the center of the divide.
Roll up the dough so the long part is the length of your roll. You want a long roll of dough.  Pinch the seams shut all around so you don't lose apples when you cut and pick up your rolls.

Grease 4 pans. I use 2 glass 13x9 inch pans and 2 pie dishes. You can use any oven safe pans. Use what you have.

Spray the pans with cooking spray (PW uses melted butter. I have enough butter on my body, thank you.)

Cut each roll in half once. Then each roll in half again.  I cut the remaining rolls in 3 (so make 2 slices).

Again, do what you like and what seems to work for you.
I usually put 5-6 in a pie plate and 6-7 in the large pan. The ends of the rolls are usually a bit smaller.

Let the rolls rise in a warm place for a while till they fill out the pan a bit more. 

Bake at 350 degrees F for 18-20 minutes or till the top is browned slightly.

In a small bowl, add 2 cups organic powdered sugar, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract, and enough milk to make the mixture runny (maybe 1/3-1/2 cup?) Use a whisk and add a bit of milk a little at a time.

Drizzle over the buns.

Try not to eat them all at once.

The Lunch Lady

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Fourth Recap

Special Memories: The boy's great grandfather's flag

The patio: Bring indoor furniture outside. Layer fabrics.

Shop the yard: Red, white, and blue flowers.

The outdoor food table didn't get used at all. It was TOO HOT to put the food outside.

New friends: The fun part of hosting parties is inviting friends over and having them meet each other.

Antique Whiskey Barrel

Beautiful Flowers + Sun

Hope you had a Happy 4th!

The Lunch Lady

Friday, July 5, 2013

Easy Bruschetta

I recently have been going to painting classes at a local store.

They are SO fun!

I've always enjoyed playing around with acrylics but have never had formal training so this really appealed to me when a friend posted a link on Facebook about 1 1/2 months ago.

What does this have to do with Bruschetta you ask?

Patience my Padawan.

There's a story to tell here. It must be told.

The painting classes are BYOB. I mean really? What better way to paint than with slightly less inhibitions! It helps.

They also recommend you bring snacks. (To absorb the BYOB perhaps? After all, you do have to drive yourself home.)

I didn't know anyone at the first class I attended. Yes, I'm a brave one, now that I'm an adult.

I had such a lovely response to my Facebook post about my experience that I invited several friends along to my second class.  I brought Sangria. I brought snacks.

One of these snacks was this Bruschetta.

See? There is a point to this rambling.

Bruschetta is super easy to make.

6 simple ingredients; Tomatoes, Basil, Garlic, Salt & Pepper, Olive Oil, Balsamic Vinegar.

I can't count okay?

I don't have any ripe tomatoes yet so I bought a large container of Roma tomatoes at my local food warehouse (BJs)

Wash and slice each tomato in half. Clean out each half of the seeds and pulp. Slice and dice.

Wash and mince the basil and garlic.

Add all the ingredients in a bowl and stir gently.

Serve on crostini.

Easy Bruschetta
6 ripe roma tomatoes
1 clove garlic, minced
6 large Basil leaves, minced
1 Tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 teaspoon Balsamic Vinegar
Salt and Pepper to taste

1. Wash and slice tomatoes in half. Remove pulp and seeds with a small spoon, discard. Dice up the tomatoes.
2. Mix all of the ingredients in a bowl. Refrigerate to let the flavors meld for 1-2 hours.
3. Serve on toasted bread or crackers.


The Lunch Lady

Thursday, July 4, 2013

July 4th Food

Keep it FRESH this FOURTH!

What else am I making?

My potato salad, grilled flank steak, corn on the cob, grilled chicken, pretty salad , spinach strawberry salad, hot dogs, and some other miscellaneous stuff. It's all kid friendly, yummy, and pretty.

What's on your menu?

Let the food speak for itself!

Pretty platters, pretty food = Happy guests.

The Lunch Lady

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

4th of July Decorating ~ Shop your house!

I love hosting parties.

This will be the first 4th of July in our new house.

Our new "old" house.  It was builit in the 1930s.

I've been "shopping" my house for red/white/blue items and have come up with lots of stuff.

It helps that I've been married for almost 19 years.

It also helps that I've had blue & white Living Room and Dining Rooms in the past.

I'll be putting out several folding tables and covering them with layered table cloths, burlap runners, candles, and flowers.

I'll be cutting red and blue flowers from my property and putting them in the blue antique canning jars pictured above.

Easy, fun, and a bit rustic.

Happy 4th!

The Lunch Lady

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Cherry Wine Sauce

I went cherry picking.

The cherries are SO good.  I picked about 11 pounds of 2 kinds.

Now, what do I do with them?

I went cherry picking with a few people including my friend Daniel. He's a foodie too.  He is our boy's Science tutor.

He mentioned Cherry Wine sauce.

Inspiration hit.

I love being inspired.  I've been pretty tired lately and then I just don't really feel like cooking.

But, really. Cherry wine sauce sounded easy and delicious.

I have a bottle of Cabernet wine sitting on my counter top that needed to be used up and it was past it's prime for just drinking.

But this is a perfect use for it.

What you need:
Cherries, Wine, Shallots, Garlic, Chicken broth, and rubbed rosemary.

You can feel free to substitute.  I'm pretty sure you can't go wrong.

Wash and pit the cherries.

Heat a saucepan and melt a bit of butter. Add 2 minced shallots. Cook till browned. Add one minced garlic clove, and a few splashes of chicken broth.

Add about 2 cups of cherries in the saucepan with one cup of wine.

Cook till the cherries begin to bubble and break down.  Drizzle in some more Chicken Broth if it starts to look like it needs more liquid.

Add 1/4 teaspoon rubbed rosemary.

Serve over your favorite meat and/or vegetables.

Pictured is Turkey Picatta

You know it's good when your pickiest children INHALE it!

Cherry Wine Sauce
2 cups fresh cherries, pitted
1 cup wine
2 shallots, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 teaspoon rubbed rosemary
1 cup Chicken Broth

1.Wash and pit the cherries.

2. Heat a saucepan and melt a bit of butter. Add 2 minced shallots. Cook till browned. Add one minced garlic clove, and a few splashes of chicken broth.

3. Add about 2 cups of cherries in the saucepan with one cup of wine.

4. Cook till the cherries begin to bubble and break down.  Drizzle in some more Chicken Broth if it starts to look like it needs more liquid.

5. Add 1/4 teaspoon rubbed rosemary.

6. Serve

The Lunch Lady

Thursday, June 20, 2013

First Lettuce from the Garden!

I really try to eat salad for both lunch and dinner. Try being the operative word.

I was SO excited to notice that my mesclun lettuce is finally big enough to start cutting!

We've had a rather cool and wet late spring and my garden hasn't really taken off yet.

Everything is growing but the plants haven't started to produce.

We started all our lettuces and greens from seed this year.

Patience is a virtue. I'm learning.

But, at last, the mesclun, butterhead, arugula, and baby swiss chard are ready to culitivate.

What's growing in your garden?

The Lunch Lady

Monday, June 17, 2013

Squid Dogs

Lunchtime is always fun.  The age-old question of "what are we eating for lunch?" happens every day.

Some days (like the day after food shopping, I'm FULL of ideas) I just open the fridge and stare.

And stare.

Today, I saw a package of uncured, all beef hotdogs, and thought..."Aha! Squid dogs!"

This was a fun treat when the boys were little.

But, hey! You're never too old for squid dogs.

(This guy looks like he has his mouth open)

These are super simple to prepare.

Heat up a pot of water to boiling on the stove.

Take each hot dog and slice down the length leaving a "one inch" for the "head" of the squid.

Make 2 slices down so you have "four legs."

Don't worry if the "legs" just resume hot dog position.

Once you place them in the hot water, they will open up.

Boil or heat for a few minutes till they look like the pictures.

Serve with your favorite condiments.

Your kids will think you are "The Coolest"

You're welcome,

The Lunch Lady

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Square Foot Gardening Explained

I make my plants "toe the line."

A line of jute.

Square Gardening is a great way to do Raised Bed Gardening because it offers the backyard gardener a way to fit a lot of plants into a small & more compact space.

I confess that I didn't know much about it either till I saw it on Pinterest.

So far, I LOVE it!.

It's a great concept. It minimizes weeds, gives your plants sufficient space to grow, and makes everything neat and tidy.

I like neat and tidy.

Every square is 12" by 12" which is an "American square foot" for all of you lovely non-Americans that (actually) read my blog. (Hellooo! I'm glad you are here!)

That is 30.48 cm by 30.48 cm.  As much as I love the metric system, I think I like the "foot" idea a bit better here.

The idea is that each square foot is allotted "so many" plants depending on the type of vegetable. For example, you can plant 9 beets, 9 beans, 9 peas, but only 1 tomato, 1 pepper, 1 zucchini.  (There are PLENTY of charts out there if you need specific vegetable information.)

So the plants that get rather large need all the nutrients in that square foot of garden.

Every plant has their own spot which is quite handy when you first plant them and they are bit hard to recognize. I made a chart on paper and marked off where, when, and what I planted.  We used the chart for the younger boys "Science" homeschooling project.

Some vegetables, like Mesclun lettuce, are sprinkled liberally.  I try to plant different squares at different weeks so that I have a constant source of certain vegetables.  I planted the beans 1-2 weeks apart.

I planted a lot of vegetables from seed but unfortunately, all my tomato plants got stunted so I bought a few from an organic farm.

Next year, I'm pretty sure I'm just going to buy a bunch of my plants already started, such as all my tomatoes and peppers.

Another great idea is "Companion Planting."  More to come on that later!

The Lunch Lady

Friday, June 14, 2013

Raised Garden Beds

I have an INCREDIBLY handy husband. For weeks, I was pinning raised garden bed ideas on Pinterest. He takes one look at a picture and pretty much knows exactly what to do. Mind baffling.

 We took a late-night trip to Home Depot which, unfortunately, was qualifying as a mini-date for us because of his busyness lately.
I'll take what I can get!

We turned this into our Science Project for the younger 2 boys that we are homeschooling. Everyone helped!

We decided on building 3 boxes that are each 50 sq ft.

There's some math, engineering, and physics involved here!

And a random basketball.

Once the boxes were built, the younger 2 boys and I grabbed some staple guns & leftover landscaping cloth we had sitting in the shed

We cut and stapled the cloth to fit into the bottom of the box, right over the current grass.
Our goal was to use the "Lasagna Method" for our raised bed gardens, adding layers that decompose over time. This gives us control over the quality of the soil and limits weeds.

Next, we dumped in about 3-4 bags of leftover bagged leaves from the previous Fall. They had been stored in our shed. We kind of missed putting them all out for leaf pickup. What a happy accident!

Leaves are a great base for these beds. They will decompose over time but provide nice aeration for the roots right now.

I also added a layer of newspaper before the leaves went in. 

The next 2 layers are peat moss and organic garden soil. I used several bags of each making the top layer all peat moss.

Of course, I picked the hottest day in April to work on this, the week we had unusual 90 degree weather!

Our next project, for another day, was to take some leftover jute string and staple it in one foot squares across the box.

More on square foot gardening next time!

The Lunch Lady