Freezer S’mores

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I went from being Type A to Type Meh in the span of just a few years.

Type A = super competitive; anxious about everything being just so; rigid and uptight.

Type Meh = more relaxed; content with things as they are or as they need to be; limber and fluid.

I see this change to varying degrees across the different parts of me.  But I think the change has maybe been most profound in the kitchen.

For example, Type A me would have read Sweetened With Honey’s recipe for Campfire Bars and been all kinds of fired up to make homemade graham crackers and marshmallow and then morph them into a fireless s’more.  Hell, I might have even flirted with the idea of processing my own chocolate….not really, or at least not seriously.

Type Meh me read the recipe and immediately discounted the notion of making graham crackers or marshmallow. There are perfectly fine graham crackers and marshmallow at that big store with all the food so conveniently laid out for me.  The time and effort I would invest into those projects could be better used stealing a nap on a weekend afternoon, sweeping under the sofa for small wooden toys deposited by Hurricane Libby, or being defeated by Level 29 in Candy Crush.

My point is that unless I specifically want to be challenged by a recipe, as in Ken’s Ginger Cream Cake, I’m going to look for ways to simplify a fussy recipe to make it fit into the limited amount of time and attention that I can offer.

What is the take away from this?  1) Not everything in life has to be a big production.  2) Even the smallest treats can be semi-homemade and full of love.  3)  I like to nap.

The correct answer is All of the Above.

Freezer S’mores

Inspired by Sweetened With Honey

BAH Note:  Since this is a Type Meh recipe, there are no exact measurements for anything on this one.  Take a leap and trust your own judgment.

  • graham crackers
  • marshmallow fluff
  • powdered sugar
  • semi sweet or bitter sweet chocolate chips

Combine marshmallow fluff with some powdered sugar in a bowl and beat to combine with a mixer.  Add additional powdered sugar until the fluff has thickened up to a frosting consistency.  It should be sturdy but not stiff.

Place half of your graham crackers on a sheet pan or cookie sheet lined with parchment (for easier cleanup).  Top each cracker with a dollop of the fluff. Top with a second cracker and transfer the pan to the freezer for approximately 30 minutes.

While the bars chill in the freezer, melt the chocolate and allow it to cool.  Dip each bar in the melted chocolate or use a pastry brush to paint the chocolate onto the bars.  Return the pan to the freezer for the chocolate to set.

Allow the s’mores to sit out for a few minutes before serving to soften just a bit.

{printable recipe}

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Ken’s Ginger Milk Cake

Ginger Cream Cupcake

I turned 42 this year.  How that happened, I don’t know.  One day I am young; I have my entire life ahead of me.  And then people my age suddenly have children old enough to graduate high school.  People my age are posting on Facebook about their grandchildren.  People my age have as much of their lives in the past as they do in the future.  Call it whatever you like – middle age, seasoned, etc – the reality is that like sands through the hourglass, so are the days of our lives.  And as of my birthday this year, I’ve had 15,695 of them.  That’s worth celebrating.

So I decided that I would pick a special treat to mark the end of one year and the beginning of a brand new year of me.  Part of what I’ve learned on my journey is that by virtue of just being me, I am worthy.  I have value.  And until I embrace that and celebrate it, I can’t expect anyone else to.

I may have had Brene Brown in my head as I took the time to mix and stir, to fold and frost in celebration of me. But having love and compassion for ourselves allows us to experience love and compassion for others.   This year, love and compassion tasted like Ginger Milk Cake.

Ken’s Ginger Milk Cake

Adapted from Hungry Rabbit

BAH Note:  I’m not going to kid you, this cake is very hands on.  It’s not something I would attempt with lots of distractions like children, Candy Crush, or a Dance Moms marathon to pull your attention away from the task at hand.  If cupcakes aren’t your thing, or if you have better portion self control than I do, this batter will make two 8″ layers.

Ginger Milk Mousse

  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup coconut milk (full fat please)
  • 1 tablespoon powdered gelatin
  • 1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon super fine sugar

Cake

  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon fresh grated ginger
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup cake flour
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar

Melt 5 tablespoons butter over medium heat.  Add 1 tablespoon grated ginger and allow to sit, off the heat, for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk the 4 egg yolks, 1/3 cup sugar, and 1/8 teaspoon salt together in a medium bowl until pale yellow, smooth, and fully combined.

Sprinkle the gelatin into 1/4 cup of the coconut milk in a small bowl or ramekin.

Add the remaining 1/2 cup coconut milk, 3/4 cup heavy cream, and 1 tablespoon grated ginger to a small saucepan and heat to just simmering.  Remove from heat and allow to sit for least 30 minutes.  After 30 minutes, bring the mixture to a boil.  Remove from the heat and slowly stir a few tablespoons of the hot milk into the egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly to prevent curdling.  Stir all of the tempered egg mixture into the hot milk and return the pan to the stove.  Cook over medium heat until the milk mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon, approximately 10 minutes, stirring frequently.

Off the heat, stir in the gelatin mixture and vanilla.  Pour the ginger cream through a fine mesh strainer into a bowl.  Cover the surface of the cream with plastic wrap and allow to cool completely.

While the ginger cream cools, strain the butter ginger mixture through a fine mesh strainer into a small bowl.  Stir in the vanilla.

Sift together the flour, cornstarch, ground ginger, cinnamon, and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt into a medium bowl.

In a separate mixing bowl (non reactive s’il vous plait) set over a saucepan of simmering water, whisk together the 4 eggs and 1/2 cup sugar.  Continue to whisk until it reaches about 115 degrees (if you don’t have a thermometer, this is a touch warmer than body temperature but should not be HOT).  Transfer the heated egg and sugar to the workbowl of stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and beat on high speed for about 5 minutes or until the mixture triples in volume.

Warm the melted butter in your microwave for about 10 seconds, just to loosen it up.  Whisk 1 cup of the egg mixture into the melted butter and set aside.  Sift half of the flour mixture onto the batter and gently fold it in with a rubber spatula.  Repeat with the remaining flour and fold it in just until the flour is no longer visible.  Gently fold in the butter mixture until just incorporated.

Divide the batter into lined muffin tins and bake until the cake just begins to pull away from the baking paper and a tester comes out clean.  Start checking for doneness at about 15 minutes…I honestly don’t remember how long mine were in the oven but Ken calls for 18 to 22 minutes for an 8 inch layer cake.  So cupcakes should be in the 15 to 20 minute range.

Transfer the cupcakes to a rack to cool completely.  When ready to frost, whip the remaining 1 cup of heavy cream plus 1 tablespoon superfine sugar in your mixer until you get soft peaks.  Stir about one cup of the whipped cream into the ginger cream and then gently fold in the rest of the whipped cream.  Frost the cupcakes and then top with crystallized ginger.

Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready.

{printable recipe}

Libby’s First Birthday

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Dear Libby, you don’t remember the day you were born.  But your Dad and I will never forget it.  You should know that it is one of my most favoritest stories ever and I plan on making sure I tell it to you every chance I get….especially on your birthday.  That’s one of the privileges bestowed on me by virtue of being your momma.  Another is that I get to reflect on the year that has been and wonder what the one ahead will hold for you.

I am in complete denial that your birthday is only a few days away.  Where have the last 365 days gone?  Every time I look at you I marvel at how much change has taken place in a single year.  Gone is the 7 pound newborn who didn’t know day from night, who would promptly fall into a restful sleep the moment she was snuggled into my chest, and whose cry morphed into the bleat of a billy goat when a requested diaper, feeding, or snuggle did not materialize in a prompt manner.

Nope, that Libby is just a memory now…tucked away with mental snapshots of other moments, seemingly ordinary but quietly precious – sleepy middle of the night feedings, the way you smell after a bath, the way you smile with your entire face scrunched up so that all we see is gums with two baby teeth poking through on the bottom.  These are what fills my heart.

All that has made way for you to become an adventurous little person.  You are developing clear preferences for things you like….and things you don’t.  Your curiosity, like your energy, is boundless and it simply amazes me to watch you conquer your world.

I adore the fact that you learned to crawl so that you could chase the cat  (I don’t think the cat was too happy about that development).  And I’ve made it my own personal mission that one of your first words will be “cat”.  It’s clear to me that you know what the word means because when I ask you “where’s the cat?”, you turn and look and point….at the cat.  So we will keep playing “where’s the cat” where I keep repeating c-c-c aaaaaaaaaaaa t-t-t, cat.  And eventually, something that sounds almost sort of like cat will come tumbling out of your mouth.  After that maybe we can work on the idea of “gentle”?  I’m sure the “cat” would appreciate that.

You are already starting to assert your independence and I can see that it frustrates you not to be able to do everything you want.  All I can say about that is it’s my job to identify the boundaries.  And it’s your job to push them. It’s part of the dance that we do.

And as surely as I know the sky is blue, I know that I won’t always get it right.  There will be moments that I am not the parent I want to be, or the one you need me to be.  I just hope that one day you will see that along with the truth of my imperfection you also saw the truth of my love for you.

Happy birthday dear Libby, I love you to pieces.

xoxoxo,

Momma

Peanut Butter Cup

Peanut Butter Cup

Ok, so these happened.  But like many DIY food projects in my kitchen, I don’t know that I would ever make them again.  Especially when Trader Joe has the most delicious dark chocolate peanut butter cups on the face of the earth.  #seriously

To satisfy your own curiosity, you can check out this post on Sprouted Kitchen…it’s the recipe I worked from.  Now if you’ll excuse me, I have Very Special Birthday Party to start fretting over since I failed to make arrangements with the Birthday Party Fairy.

Israeli Couscous with Preserved Lemon and Butternut Squash

Cous Cous with Roasted Veg High Res

Here’s one of the secrets about children that nobody tells you…kids are like computers.  No really, hear me out.

You bring one home, set it up, and start to learn how to use it.  You have some stumbles at first as you get your feet wet with the operating system, programs, and apps.  But as days go by your confidence grows and you become more proficient with Baby 0.0.  You settle into a routine and even set up some shortcuts and reoccurring tasks to run automatically.  What’s all the fuss about, you wonder.

Then things get a little buggy. Random little things.  The Nap program stops running for no reason.  Or you forget the password for a Safe Mode reboot after a hard drive shutdown.  No matter how many times you go into the Task Manager and attempt to force close the Pull Momma’s Hair program, it continues to run in the background…taking up valuable parental system resources as you attempt to redirect your child’s attention to less frustrating programs such as The Quiet Game or Go See What Your Father is Doing.

Your child did not come with a Technical Support option so you are left to your own devices…mainly the Google…to troubleshoot.  You’ll find forums and blogs that reassure you that other users are experiencing similar issues.  They won’t have tested and certified solutions but at least you’ll know that you’re not imagining these things.  But you’ll also find sites that insist that every single system failure must be the result of user error since they never experienced any of these problems with their child.  Feel free to ignore those sites.

And then, just when you’ve gotten to the point where you feel confident that you’ve mastered Baby 0.0, a software update automatically downloads and you’ve got an entirely new Operating System on your hands.  Baby 0.0 is gone and no amount of hard drive restores will get it back.  In its place is Toddler 1.0.  You had no warning and no beta testing to get you used to a new OS.

Oh sure, you had heard rumors that a new OS was in the works.  But you figured that you had plenty of time to do some reading on the topic and get ready for what would have to be only minor changes.  Sadly, you were wrong.  And it’s back to square one.

My friends, I’ve been there.  And if it is any consolation, I know I’ll be back there again.  Just as soon as I get to feeling comfortable with the parenting thing, it changes.  And that’s exactly how it is supposed to be.

While I can’t help you unravel the programming language that is your child, I can give you a meal that you can enjoy regardless of how many times you found yourself hitting Ctrl+Alt+Del that day.

Israeli Couscous with Preserved Lemon and Butternut Squash

Adapted from David Lebovitz

BAH Note:  There is something about the distinct tang of preserved meyer lemon that you just can’t get from any other ingredient.  So if you don’t have any in your fridge, do yourself a favor and head over to the Google for a bit of online shopping.  Don’t try and make do with a bit of lemon zest and sea salt…it will only bring bitter disappointment.

  • 1 1/2 pounds butternut squash, cubed (I leave the skin on but you can peel it if you like)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 1 3/4 cup israeli couscous
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 preserved lemon
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins

Heat your oven to 375 degrees and line a sheet pan with aluminum foil.

Toss the squash and onion with the olive oil and roast on the prepared sheet pan for 40 to 60 minutes or until tender.  Transfer the squash and onion to a large bowl and add the raisins.

Boil a large pot of water and cook the couscous, along with the cinnamon stick, for about 10 minutes or until done.  Drain the couscous, discard the cinnamon stick, and add the couscous to the bowl of roasted vegetables.

While the couscous cooks, take your preserved lemon and cut it into quarters.  Using the back of a knife, scoop away the pulp from the rind.  Cut the rind thinly into a fine dice and add it to vegetables.  Take the pulp and press it in a small mesh strainer to extract the liquid.  Add the liquid to the bowl of vegetables.

Stir everything to completely combine and taste for seasoning.  Season to taste with a bit of kosher salt and black pepper.

{printable recipe}