Magic Bars

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One of the children’s favorites, these are quick and easy to pull together! You can also convert this to a gluten free version, see my end notes.

Ingredients:

1 stick butter (4 oz, 8 Tablespoons)
7 oz unfilled cookies (you can use graham crackers, vanilla wafers, molasses cookies or chocolate wafers. If you’re going GF use a GF version)
1 cup butterscotch flavored chips
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 cup crushed pretzels
1 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk

Preheat oven to 350 and place the butter into a 9 x 13 baking pan. If you’d prefer, prepare a sling or line with foil then add the butter. Place in oven 3-5 minutes until butter just begins to melt. Remove pan, let cool slightly.

Crush the cookies up into largish chunks and crumbs. Sprinkle over the butter and toss lightly with fork in the butter to coat crumbs evenly in the butter and distribute across the whole pan. In order add the butterscotch chips, the white chocolate chips and pretzels over all. Pour sweetened condensed milk over everything evenly. Bake 25 minutes, rotating after 14 minutes for even browning. Top will be golden & bubbly when done, edges will be dark golden brown.

You can make this recipe gluten free by substituting a GF cookie – I’ve used the Trader Joe’s Ginger Snaps cookie with great results. You can make also make this a dairy free version by making your own Sweetened Condensed Coconut Milk and using Earth Balance soy free baking bars. I’m not a fan of the honey in this mix, so try agave or brown rice syrup for this chip combination, or use honey and swap out the butterscotch chips for chocolate or peanut butter chips.

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Rotkraut mit Äpfeln

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We served Rotkraut mit Äpfeln (red cabbage with apples) for our Oktoberfest and it was (surprisingly) wildly popular with the kids, so I thought I’d share the recipe!

1 Medium Red Cabbage
2 Granny Smith or other tart apple, peeled, seeded & cored
6 Tablespoons bacon fat (chicken or pork fat also ok)
2 Medium yellow onions sliced thin
1 Quart water
1/2 c red wine vinegar
2 yellow delicious or other sweet apple, peeled, seeded & cored
1 tsp seasoning blend (mixed salt & pepper)
3 cloves
1 bay leaf
Juice of 1 lemon

Wash cabbage, drain dry and cut as for cole slaw. Cut apples and onions into rings.

Heat fat in dutch oven and add onions, saute 3-4 minutes until fragrant, add apples and cabbage, cook on medium 3-4 minutes longer.

Add water, juice, salt, pepper and bay leaf. Bring just to boil then reduce to simmer. Cook 2 hours stirring occasionally. Add vinegar & stir well before serving. Serves 8 as a side.

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Mucking Around

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I’m still arguing with Paypal over the GSES account. It’s highly annoying, so after my daily headbanging I rewarded myself by spending an hour on the new learning management software. It’s still a bit hinky and it’s screwed up my site navigation again, but it’s coming along. I’m thinking of how to best use it right now based on its constraints but the flexibility is intriguing. I still haven’t figured out how I’m recording/preserving my classes and need to.

Tomorrow is breakfast for lunch and our first open house of the fall. I’m doing french toast in the oven again as well as a mushroom & onion quiche for lunch, and for the open house I’m doing a spinach, onion and leek vegetarian strata, cinnamon coffeecake and fresh fruit trays:

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Want the recipes? Leave a comment :)

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Spätzle

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It’s fall and that means German food is at the top of my cravings list. We’re celebrating Oktoberfest this Thursday (late, I know, but it takes time to sour meat) with the kids and one of the traditional sides with Bratwurst is spätzle. Like most family comfort foods there are endless variations on spätzle, but here is the Cline family version.

Ingredients:

3 cups sifted AP flour
1 tsp salt
4 room temperature large eggs, beaten
3/4 c milk

Sift the flour into a bowl, add salt then make a well in the center and deposit the beaten eggs. Stir to combine while gradually adding milk. Dough is very stiff. Let rest while you bring a large pot (at least 6 quarts, please) of salted water to a rolling boil.

Put 1/2 c dough into spätzle press or use colander and spatula to extrude dough into boiling water. Remove spätzle as soon as it floats to surface of pot and drain. Do not rinse!

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Brown 2-3 tablespoons of butter in a skillet. Grate in whole nutmeg (maybe an 8th of a teaspoon) to bloom the flavor. Add spätzle and toss to coat well. Cook 6-7 minutes.

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Feeds 4-6 as a side dish. If you must be a foodie sprinkle with fresh parsley before serving.

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Fall Festivities

It’s been an interesting fall so far, and I thought I’d share at least the feel of it with a few videos:

There have been snakes:

Fire (from an earlier event but similar):

Franco-Canadians:

and Horns:

I’ve got at least 40 tabs open to things I wanted to share with you, so here is a sneak peek into a few of the things I’m thinking about:

Dave wants to know when do you have enough money. He starts with Bill Simmons and it only gets better from there. I have been thinking about this a lot lately – as presidential campaigns heat up I will have some hard choices to make about where I spend my time.

In the same vein, being poor (or with limited resources) is expensive. I’m getting a first hand look at that right now and I can’t believe the hidden fees on things I take for granted. Women are disproportionally poor.

Gina’s whole post is a must read (and it sounds as though xoxo should be on my radar) but this line kicks a$$:

Somehow, some way, your worst moments feed your best work, and it might well take a decade to see it.

Sadly, being female online continues to be a problem for men.

That makes me hesitant to tell stories in public and brings me back around to why I enjoy Folk Festival and First Friday so much. I have a lot of respect for people fearless enough to perform for an audience. More on that soon!

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Pretzel Classes

Just in time for your fall feasts and cooler weather!

Just in time for your fall feasts and cooler weather!

I’m teaching Homemade Pretzels twice next week, on Monday, October 6th and Wednesday, October 8th. Both classes run 3:45 – 5:45 pm. If you are interested in attending just download the class registration form and drop it off at the Good Shepherd school office.

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Mushroom Gougère (Gluten, Dairy Free)

I do a lot of gluten and dairy free cooking, both at school and home due to food allergies and sensitivities.

One of the staff & student’s favorite dishes is a medley of mushrooms served within a savory Gougère ring of pastry. Because choux pastry uses very little flour it was easy enough to convert it to a GF version – stripping out the dairy was a little harder but this solution worked nicely. If you can tolerate it, the Earth Balance soy free sticks (use the equivalent of 4T) works well also.

This is a very versatile staple as the Gougère ring can be filled (as in the images shown) with anything that contains at least 1/2 to 2/3 c of liquid after preparation. I’ve done this version with carmelized onions, mushrooms, chicken, venison and mixed vegetables and it’s always a reliable hit. Just make sure to get as little liquid as possible on the choux as it will prevent it rising to its full potential.

Gluten, Dairy Free Mushroom Gougère

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Choux Pastry

1/2 c flour mix provided
2/3 c water
4 T fat (canola oil, bacon fat, coconut oil, etc)
2 eggs
3 oz nutritional yeast

Filling

2T EVOO
1m onion finely diced
8-12 oz mixed mushrooms (fresh or frozen sliced)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 T gf flour or cornstarch to thicken (I’d use cornstarch, it’ll work better)
2/3 c stock (mushroom, vegetable, chicken – use what you have)
3/4 c chopped walnuts
salt & pepper to taste

Put water and fat onto stove, heat until fat is melted but NOT BOILING. Once fully melted, add flour all at once and stir vigorously with a wooden spoon until mix is smooth and silky looking. Cook while stirring about 1 more minute to lightly dry mixture. Remove from stove and let cool, 10-15 minutes.

Beat in eggs one at a time, being sure to completely incorporate them into the mix. The last egg will not want to go in, stir vigorously. Mixture will be smooth and glossy at this point.

Add cheese after 2nd egg is completely worked in, stir well to distribute.

Spread all around the diameter of a greased 8 or 9″ round oven safe dish. You can use a pie plate, tart pan, etc, just don’t exceed 9″. Spoon dough out in dollops and spread to create continuous ring around pan with hole in center.

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Set aside and cook filling.

Saute onions in Eevo until soft, 3-4 min. Add garlic and mushrooms, season and cook until mushrooms are browning. Keep stirring! Sprinkle with flour or cornstarch and stir to incorporate. Continue cooking 2-3 minutes, then gradually add stock and bring to boil. Stir constantly 2-3 minutes until mixture thickens.

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Remove from heat and stir in all but 3 T of walnuts. Pour into open center of choux pastry and garnish with remaining walnuts.

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Bake 35-40 minutes in 400 degree oven until pastry rises and is light golden in color. Rest 10 minutes before serving or cutting!

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Baby Steps

A chicken gougère but imagine this filled with mushrooms, instead! Same theory :)

A chicken gougère but imagine this filled with mushrooms, instead! Same theory :)

Some days it seems as though it’s all I can do to maintain forward momentum. I have to remind myself that sometimes things come in baby steps and what’s critical is getting something done even if it isn’t precisely what I thought I’d get done.

That’s sort of why I’m blogging again, actually. Kim got me hooked on the concept of showing your work over the summer and it got me to thinking about how very little of my work (and life) I was actually showing. And oh well hey, I’ve got a blog for just that sort of thing!

Work today was not the soaring joy I’d like for most days. Instead it’s the grind of emailing paypal about the GSES account (in old staff hands, not current) so I can get the new event system I built for them working and move forward on the donation system for their annual fund. There is 1/4″ of emails and notes about the state of this account – I’m not hopeful I can fix it in time to use for cooking classes, so I’m falling back on my old friend paper, which thankfully is still fashionable with school ages. Oh and building forms on publisher – joyful!

I’m also trying to fix the weird jQuery theme dependency on the FHNA site. For some reason the theme developer has the theme using its own jquery file (v1.6.1), instead of the one installed in WordPress (v1.11.0) so of course it’s throwing off bizarre javascript errors. Bug hunt!

School today was awesome, though. The lunch program has grown (again) and today I fed 60 and a bonus parent. I had 2 helpers today, 1 experienced, 1 a middle school student doing community service hours. The menu was baked Parmesan & Herb Chicken Tenders, Italian roast potatoes, maple glazed julienned yellow, white, purple and orange carrots and a gluten free, dairy free mushroom gougère as entrees with sliced peaches and grapes for our fresh finish.

Yesterday I realized 4th, 5th & 6th graders are getting ready or going through a growth spurt so I over-prepped today thinking if kids were hungry we’d have plenty. We breaded 16# of hand cut tenders, roasted 18# of potatoes and 8# of carrots. That fed all 61 and I had 2# of chicken and 1# of potatoes left which will go into some potato & leek soup tomorrow. I also made a gallon of chicken tortellini soup and have a cup or two of the broth left for starting the potato soup off. We snacked today on D’s banana bread – it was delicious and I’ll try to get recipes up soon!

More steps, now!

Posted in Change, Projects, School Food | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Benny Drops

Just a heads up that we’ve begun updating client sites to WordPress 4.0 or the “Benny” release.

As usual I’m all late and wrong about updating the site itself here, but I can confirm 4.0 is nifty and squashes some nasty bugs so it was worth the time to load it all up.

Something fun for my print buddies –

New work:

Fresh face for Kim at KimOvitt.com.

Fresh face for Good Shepherd Episcopal. Still in progress but all up in production. One of these days I’ll update my sidebars ;)

In progress:

Learning management module for online courses (still need a beta tester, email me if you’re interested) and Event Scheduling tools.

TTFN!

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Creating a Link in WordPress

To create a link, select the text that you want as a link anchor by highlighting it with your mouse.

createALink

Click the icon that looks like a paperclip (next to the left justify icon in the visual editor) and you’ll see a box like this:

createAHyperlink

Enter the address of the web page you want to link to after the http://. For example, the proper URL formation of the FHNA website is: http://foresthillneighborhood.com. It is no longer necessary to use the www before the domain name in creating a hyperlink. You do not need to enter anything into the Title field, and you can check the box to have the link open in a new window so that the FHNA site remains open in the background.

Also, this video may be helpful –

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