Cooking 101

House of Bedlam went on the road last week with our very first cooking class! Thanks to all the little chefs that helped make it a huge success.

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Their enthusiasm was contagious as they rolled dough, slurped up sauce, sprinkled cheese, and got really really messy! Our dessert was the hit of the party and even though a lot of chocolate ended up on their faces most made it on to the plate!

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As you can see a delicious time was had by all:

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Interested in planning a mini-cooking class with your kids? Are you located in Lower Westchester?

Contact House of Bedlam for more information.

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Snow Day Circuits

Spending a snow day with three high-energy kids is a lot like circuit training at the gym. Our typical snow day workout goes like this:

Wake-up to a quick warm-up of milk and cartoons. Then it’s time to fuel up before heading out to shovel. Breakfast is important because getting on snow pants is a workout in itself. At best a 20 minute exercise, at worst a 45 minute drenching cardio segment. After driveway is cleared, it’s back inside for some hockey practice. No relaxing, maybe a quick water break to rehydrate. Once someone gets hit with a stick it’s time to move on to another activity. From the basement we rotate to the kitchen station for a little upper body work. A recipe involving dough is my preferred mode since there’s lots of kneading and rolling involved. And if we make the dough from scratch it means we can get in some dough punching after it rises. Bonus!

After kitchen time and a quick lunch we clear up and prepare for another cardio burst. With the lure of hot chocolate or a pack of Pokemon cards it’s back into snow pants for a brisk walk to town. Getting them back home needs another incentive. Promises of ice cream or a yummy dessert usually does the trick to motivate them to pick up the pace.

Back home the dough punching or rolling usually turns into “brother punching”. To cool things off we get in some mental exercise with a board game or two. This is the toughest part of the workout – but we are heading into the home stretch. After our last burst of energy we settle in for some screen time. While the boys zone out to TV or video games I can get dinner on table. Our last activity? A much anticipated dinner of serious carbo-loading and off to bed. And hopefully to school the next day!

Leftover Deep Dish Pizza (a perfect snow day recipe)                

Ingredients

For the dough:

½ cup warm water, about 105 degrees

½ packet active dry yeast

1 tsp sugar

¾ cup room temperature water

3 Tbsp. olive oil

3 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting

1 ½ tsp salt

For the toppings:

1 Tbsp. olive oil

1/2 cup tomato or pasta sauce

1 cup roasted sweet potato cubes (optional)

1 cup chopped leftover meatballs (optional)

1 cup shredded mozzarella

½ cup grated parmesan cheese

Method

Mix warm water, yeast and sugar in a measuring cup. Let stand and dissolve until yeast starts to bubble and swell, about 5 minutes. Add room temperature water and oil, stir to combine.

In a large mixing bowl whisk together the flour and salt. Slowly add the liquid ingredients and mix until a ball is formed. This can be done in a food processor as well. Dough will be very sticky and might need a little bit more flour but add in small amounts. Dust work surface with flour and knead dough to form a smooth round ball. Add a few sprinkles of flour as needed.

Place dough in a large bowl coated with oil and cover with plastic wrap.

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Let rise for at least 2 hours until doubled in size.

IMG_1985Punch dough down and divide in half, reserving one for another snowy day. Simply wrap the extra dough in plastic and refrigerate or freeze. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Lightly oil a round cake pan, 9” diameter. Press the dough to fit evenly into the pan building up a lip around the edge of the pan. Let the dough rest a few minutes if it is snapping back. Prick the bottom of the dough with a fork several times and then bake for about 5 minutes until dough is set.

IMG_1987Remove from oven and gently press down any bubbles that have formed.

Brush crust with the olive oil and add toppings. First layer the sauce and about half of the mozzarella.

IMG_1994Then toppings of your choice.

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Top with remaining mozzarella cheese and grated parmesan.

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Return to oven and bake until crust is lightly browned and cheese is bubbly, about 30 minutes.

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IMG_2001And the VERDICT is:

Matthew (age 7): “Wow, work of art”

Dylan (age 5): “That rised!”

Liam (age 5): “You gotta love cheese!”

Snow days are never easy but if you have this to look forward to they’re not so bad!

 (recipe for pizza dough adapted from The Cook’s Illustrated)

Cookie Season

It’s on! The cookie swaps and bake sales are in full swing. If you haven’t heard by now, it’s time to start baking for the holidays.

I am not a baker. I repeat, I am not a baker. I admire the people who can make a perfectly crisp chocolate chip cookie or a moist banana bread. And I love when my neighbor comes over with some freshly baked loaf of yumminess. (Hint, hint… hope she is reading this!) My own attempts in the baking department are hit or miss. Sometimes we mix everything right and sometimes the formula is off. But that being said a bad batch of cookies is never completely bad. Anything with so much sugar and butter has some redeeming qualities.

Lately my kids are more interested in shooting hockey pucks than cooking with me so it’s been a challenge getting them in the kitchen. But there are still a few things they love to do and mixing cookie batter is one of them. Although I admit I usually have to bribe them with chocolate chips to pull them away from the net in our basement.

For our holiday baking all three boys wanted to try thumbprint cookies. Being able to stick their fingers into cookie dough really sold them. And they very enthusiastically pressed their fingers all over these cookies. Our baking sheets had to be divided by mine, aka the clean (and neat) side, and theirs, aka the not so clean side.

Our cookies won’t be winning any ribbons but they were good enough for us!

All Fingersprint Cookies (recipe adapted from Martha Stewart)

Ingredients

1 stick unsalted butter, room temp

½ cup plus 2 Tbsp sugar

1 large egg, separated

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 ¼ cup all-purpose flour

¼ tsp salt

½ cup blanched almonds

½ cup jam, any flavor

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, beat butter and ½ cup sugar together until light and fluffy. Add egg yolk and vanilla and mix again for about a minute. In a separate bowl whisk together the salt and flour. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until well combined.

In a small food processor pulse the remaining sugar and blanched almonds. Or roughly chop the almonds by hands for a chunkier texture. In a small bowl, lightly beat the egg white.

Form dough into small balls, about 1”. Dip the balls into the egg white and then in almond sugar mixture. Place on baking sheet and make a indentation in the center with your finger.

Bake for 10 minutes, remove from oven, and repress centers again, as the cookies might have changed shape. Fill the center of each with jam. Bake for additional 10-12 minutes until golden brown. Remove from oven and place on wire rack for cooling.

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And the VERDICT is:

Matthew (age 7): “Okay, not as good as Oreos”

Liam (age 5): “I can’t remember which thumb is mine”

Dylan (age 5): “MMMMMM”

Full disclosure: I forgot to separate the egg! But as I said, anything with all that butter and sugar can’t go that wrong. So for our recipe we used 1 ½ eggs and they came out pretty tasty.

 

The Leftovers

After weeks of planning, days of shopping, and hours of prepping, pureeing, chopping, sautéing, roasting, boiling, basting, mashing, stirring, whisking, and swearing, the big day has come and gone. I’m happy to report Thanksgiving 2014 was a success!

A few things I learned for next time:

  1. Don’t stress about the turkey- It was sooooooooooooooo easy. For the most part you put it in the oven and it takes care of itself. Just make sure to have someone on your guest list who is a master carver and can handle that part for you. Thanks Keith!
  2. Make half the amount of food -Since it was our first time hosting we got a little ambitious. Next time I will go for smaller quantities and have more vegetables instead of so much mashed stuff. Sweet potatoes and mashed potatoes, completely redundant.
  3. Use paper plates – For more than eight people paper plates is the way to go. And those fancy plastic forks, they practically look real so I’m definitely buying those next time.
  4. Try not to flood the basement at the end of the night – And if you do make sure to have a WetVac so your husband can swiftly take care of it while everyone is happily eating their apple pie à la mode.

Remember those sweet potatoes we made last week. Well, they became pancakes for breakfast. The extra mashed potatoes are going to morph into gnocchi. And the plan for leftover turkey is a green curry salad that can be used for lunch tomorrow. And maybe the day after that too…

SWEET POTATO PANCAKES

Ingredients

1 cup leftover sweet potato (with crumb topping)

1 ½ – 1 ¾ cups whole milk (or 2%)

2 eggs, beaten

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

3 Tbsp baking powder

2 Tbsp sugar

1 tsp salt

Butter for pan

Directions

Combine sweet potatoes, milk, and eggs in a mixing bowl. Stir until well combined. In a separate large bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. Add wet ingredients to dry and stir just enough to combine. If the batter is too thick add a little more milk.

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Heat a lightly buttered griddle or frying pan over medium high heat. Scoop a heaping tablespoon onto griddle or pan. Wait until bubbles appear on surface of pancake and then flip to brown opposite side.

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Extras can be frozen and popped into toaster to reheat. Cool completely before freezing.

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And the VERDICT is:

Matthew (age 7): “These are the best”

Liam (age 5): “I’ll take ten of these”

Dylan (age 5): “Just terrific”

***

SIMPLE GNOCCHI

Ingredients

2 cups leftover mashed potatoes

About 1 ½ cups of flour

1 egg

Pinch of salt

¼ cup of olive oil

½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 Tbsp fresh sage, finely chopped

Directions

Place mashed potatoes in a large mixing bowl and mash with a fork. Sprinkle one cup of the flour onto the potatoes and mix together with your hands until the flour is incorporated. Make a well in the center and add the egg. Combine the egg with the potato mixture until a smooth dough forms. Keep adding flour and gently kneading until the dough is no longer sticky.

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Break the dough into about six pieces and roll out into snakes the width of your finger. Cut the dough into 1” pieces. Place on a large baking sheet and score the gnocchi with a fork.

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Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add gnocchi to the boiling water. Remove with a slotted spoon a minute or two after they rise to the surface. Drain well and toss with olive oil, sprinkle with grated cheese and garnish with the fresh sage.

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And the VERDICT is:

Matthew (age 7): “I really like this”

Dylan (age 5): “I love it”

Liam (age 5): “There’s a wild flavor in here”

***

GREEN CURRY TURKEY SALAD Mini Sandwich

Ingredients

¼ cup mayonnaise

1 ½ tsp green curry paste

1 ½ cups leftover turkey, chopped

Cranberry sauce, leftover

3-4 small rolls or croissants

Directions

In a medium mixing bowl combine the mayonnaise and green curry paste. Add chopped turkey and mix until combined. Spread a small amount of cranberry sauce on the bottom side of croissant or roll. Add a heap of the turkey mixture. Enjoy!

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And the VERDICT is:

Matthew (age 7): “A little too sweet with the cranberries”

Liam (age 5): “Uh, no”

Dylan (age 5): “Don’t like that red stuff”

What did you make with your leftovers???

Bottom Of The Barrel

Wondering what to do with those last few apples at the bottom of the barrel? I had about six bruised and battered apples left from our trip to the orchard. I hated to throw these forgotten few on the compost pile so I decided to make a batch of apple pie topping. This was so easy and it can be used on everything from ice cream to pancakes, to granola.

Apple Pie Topping

Ingredients

1 1/2 Tbsp butter

6 apples, peeled and diced

1 Tbsp brown sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

Pinch of salt

Method

Melt butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the apples to the melted butter and stir to coat. Stir in the brown sugar, cinnamon and a pinch of salt.

Cook until the apples soften but are not mushy, about 5-7 minutes. Serve warm over some pancakes. Or let cool and top your favorite ice cream. Your kids will probably prefer the ice cream option…

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And the VERDICT is:

Matthew (age 7): “Put mine on the side!”

Liam (age 5): “Thumbs middle”

Dylan (age 5): “Just ice cream!”

Who cares about the verdict – I used up all the apples!!!

Any other ideas for cooking those last few apples? Please share!