Sunday, February 28

Menu Monday Mar 1-7

Before we get to this week's menu I want to recap last week. The lemon chicken pasta was fine but nothing special and certainly not worth the time. Last week's surprise dessert was Tiramisu. Here is the recipe and review. We did not end up making the risotto. I could not find the time to stand at the stove uninterrupted for 30 mins, especially in a week so full with baking.

We made lots of Hamentaschen. I tried a new recipe which I really like. I have included the recipe below so I won't forget it. I wanted to make some apricot but got out-voted. They were all raspberry or chocolate.

I found a lovely new cookbook at Borders. It is entitled "Crazy for Chocolate" which suits me since I totally am. It was only $2.99 so I bought it even though there is no space on my bookshelf for it. Practically every recipe in it, I am excited about making. One of the best things is that each recipe not only has a picture of the finished product but also pictures of the stages I am trying the first in our menu this week.

Monday - Pizza - Mom at class
Tuesday - Pad Thai - yes this is still on the menu because we still have not actually made it
Wednesday - yet one more night of dinner at class for the grownups. Froggy will have nuggets
Thursday - Coq a vin in the crock pot
Friday - Challah, Roast Chicken, mashed potatoes (make extra for shepards pie), steamed broccoli, Chocolate Swiss Roll with Strawberries.
Saturday - Leftovers


2 sticks of unsalted margarine (this way they are parve and can be eaten with anything)

1 cup of sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 teaspoons orange juice

2 tablespoons of grated orange zest

¼ teaspoon almond extract

4 cups of all purpose flour, unbleached

2 teaspoons fresh baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

Extra flour for working on board

1 12 ounce jar of black cherry preserves or any flavor of preserves you prefer, such as red raspberry or apricot. You could also make the usual lekvar or prune filling.

Combine the margarine and sugar in the bowl of your mixer. Cream the ingredients on medium speed until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and mix for a couple more seconds. Add the liquid ingredients, eggs, orange juice, vanilla, and almond extract to the bowl and mix again. When all is incorporated, carefully add the dry ingredients. Turn the mixer on low-speed to start and then mix for a moment on medium until a ball forms.

Remove the ball of dough from the mixing bowl with floured hands and roll it into a disc.

If you want to bake right away you may, or you can refrigerate the dough for up to overnight. Divide the dough into four discs and wrap in plastic wrap if you are going to refrigerate.

To bake the Hamantashen, preheat the oven to 350°. Flour the granite or wood you are working on and roll out the dough into a rectangle about 1/8 to 1/6 inch thick. Using a 3 inch biscuit cutter cut as many rounds out as possible.

Work fast and with a light touch to keep the dough from becoming too warm and soft. Reform the left over dough and roll it out again with the rolling pin to utilize the rest of the dough. One batch of dough yields between 32-40 hamantashen. Place a small rounded teaspoon of jam or other filling in the center of each round. Pinch the dough round up to form a triangle, being careful not to let the filling ooze out.

Prepare 2 baking sheets with silpat liners or parchment paper liners. Place the formed triangles on the sheet to accommodate as many as possible without them touching as they expand a little during the baking process.

Place the filled pans, one at a time, on a rack in the center of the preheated oven. Bake until light golden color, around 20 minutes. Remove hamantashen from the pan with a spatula and place them on cooling racks to keep the bottoms crisp. Hamantashen should be stored in an airtight container when cool. Hamantashen freeze well in an airtight container.

Saturday, February 27

Dairy-Free Tiramisu

This is what it should look like. Mine does not look anything like this.

The February 2010 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen and Deeba of Passionate About Baking. They chose Tiramisu as the challenge for the month. Their challenge recipe is based on recipes from The Washington Post, Cordon Bleu at Home and Baking Obsession.

Tiramisu is probably Daddy’s favorite dessert of all time. But it is not something I would have attempted at home with out this challenge as motivation. It was a serious challenge to find the appropriate substitutes to make it dairy-free. I love the idea of being able to give him his favorites in a way the whole family can share. Of all the challenges I have participated in, this one provided the most learning experiences - experiences which I will be able to translate to other desserts.

Tiramisu I learned has four major components; the ladyfingers or Savoiardi, the pastry cream, the marscapone, and the zabaglione. It was surprising how many eggs took. Between all the different parts, I used eleven eggs.

I made each part separately over the course of 3 days and then assembled it all on Thursday so it would be ready for Shabbat.

The Savoiardi - I used this recipe. Several people commented about how hard they are to make but I found them easy enough and fun. The texture and flavor are so much better than store bought.

3 eggs, separated
6 tablespoons /75gms granulated sugar
3/4 cup/95gms cake flour, sifted (or 3/4 cup all purpose flour + 2 tbsp corn starch)
6 tablespoons /50gms confectioner's sugar,


Preheat your oven to 350 F (175 C) degrees, then lightly brush 2 baking sheets with oil or softened butter and line with parchment paper.
Beat the egg whites using a hand held electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Gradually add granulate sugar and continue beating until the egg whites become stiff again, glossy and smooth.
In a small bowl, beat the egg yolks lightly with a fork and fold them into the meringue, using a wooden spoon. Sift the flour over this mixture and fold gently until just mixed. It is important to fold very gently and not overdo the folding. Otherwise the batter would deflate and lose volume resulting in ladyfingers which are flat and not spongy.
Fit a pastry bag with a plain tip (or just snip the end off; you could also use a Ziploc bag) and fill with the batter. Pipe the batter into 5" long and 3/4" wide strips leaving about 1" space in between the strips.
Sprinkle half the confectioner's sugar over the ladyfingers and wait for 5 minutes. The sugar will pearl or look wet and glisten. Now sprinkle the remaining sugar. This helps to give the ladyfingers their characteristic crispness.
Hold the parchment paper in place with your thumb and lift one side of the baking sheet and gently tap it on the work surface to remove excess sprinkled sugar.
Bake the ladyfingers for 10 minutes, then rotate the sheets and bake for another 5 minutes or so until the puff up, turn lightly golden brown and are still soft.
Allow them to cool slightly on the sheets for about 5 minutes and then remove the ladyfingers from the baking sheet with a metal spatula while still hot, and cool on a rack.
Store them in an airtight container till required. They should keep for 2 to 3 weeks.

Here is the recipe for the pastry cream. I am thrilled with the way it turned out initally. I dreaming about all the different things I can make with it now that I had assumed were inaccessible to us since becoming dairy-free. I did not like the way it was when I went to put the tiramisu together. It was not creamy anymore. I am going to make cream puffs while my mother in law is here and will use this recipe then.This is what it looked like freshly made. Beautiful texture and taste

For the marscapone, I tried a few different recipes and was not satisfied with either of them. I used one recipe starting with yogurt to make my own marscapone as indicated in the challenge. It tasted awful. It was way too sour. I tried again using coconut milk but it never thickened up sufficiently. I finally used Tofuitti cream cheese in the final dish.
this is the yogurt version draining

The zabaglione is the part that actually flavors the tiramisu. You can change up the flavor by really tinkering with this part. I was not brae enough to try that this time around especially since Daddy is a traditionalist.

2 large egg yolks
3 tablespoons sugar/50gms
1/4 cup/60ml extra strong coffee
1/4 teaspoon/ 1.25ml vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

Heat water in a double boiler. If you don’t have a double boiler, place a pot with about an inch of water in it on the stove. Place a heat-proof bowl in the pot making sure the bottom does not touch the water.
In a large mixing bowl (or stainless steel mixing bowl), mix together the egg yolks, sugar, the Marsala (or espresso/ coffee), vanilla extract and lemon zest. Whisk together until the yolks are fully blended and the mixture looks smooth.
Transfer the mixture to the top of a double boiler or place your bowl over the pan/ pot with simmering water. Cook the egg mixture over low heat, stirring constantly, for about 8 minutes or until it resembles thick custard. It may bubble a bit as it reaches that consistency.
Let cool to room temperature and transfer the zabaglione to a bowl. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight, until thoroughly chilled.

Then came assembling it. Fairly simple in theory. Dip the lady fingers and lay them out in the dish. Mix the zabaglione, marscapone, and pastry cream together. Place a layer of that on. Repeat.

Well since the pastry cream had turned all liquidy, it did not work very well. The dish as a whole tasted great but it was soupy and not attractive at all.

Friday, February 26

Music Class - unschooly version

We went to see the Magic of Mozart a few weeks ago. Froggy fell in love. It was amazing a beautiful to watch.

Taking off on that interest, in the typical unschooly fashion, we have been studying the orchestra and the different instuments and the family groups they belong to.

We using Carnival of the Animals as our primary source. It is an amazing piece. The book is lively and interesting. Froggy needs something to look at while listening to the music to help stay focused. Each page talks about the track to which we are listening and has her completely captivated.

Another great site that helps us is Perfect Pitch which is created by ArtsEdge, the educational foundation portion of the Kennedy Center. It shows how the orchestra has changed over time as well as the families of instruments and their position in the orchestra.

Some other books we are using/enjoying in this process are:
Meet The Orchestra by Ann Hayes
The Story of the Incredible Orchestra by Bruce Koscielniak
Musical Instruments Coloring Book by Ellen McHenry

We are going to go to Sounds of the Symphony on March 7th. A local homeschool mom is performing. It should be a fantastic culmination to our unit.

Sunday, February 21

Menu Monday Feb 21-27

Sunday - Beef Barley Soup and biscuits
Monday - Homemade Pizza and salad
Tuesday - Tacos
Wednesday - Dinner at class - Bake Hamantashen
Thursday - Lemon Chicken and Pasta
Friday - Challah, Pot Roast, Butternut Squash Risotto (recipe below), steamed broccoli and a surprise dessert ( recipe and review will follow)
Saturday -Purim Speil at shul. dinner out beforehand.

Butternut Squash Risotto

2 cups water, divided
2 (14 1/4-ounce) cans low-salt beef broth
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped yellow onion
3 cups (3/4-inch) cubed peeled butternut squash (about 1 pound)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups Arborio rice or other short-grain rice
1/2 cup (2 ounces) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley

Bring 1 1/2 cups water and broth to a simmer in a large saucepan (do not boil). Keep warm over low heat.

Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion; cook 8 minutes or until golden, stirring frequently. Add 1/2 cup water, squash, salt, and pepper; cook 10 minutes or until squash is tender and water has almost evaporated. Add rice; stir until combined. Stir in 1/2 cup broth mixture; cook until liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly. Add the remaining broth mixture, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly until each portion of broth is absorbed before adding the next (about 30 minutes total). Stir in cheese, butter, and parsley. Serve immediately.

Monday, February 15

Menu Monday Feb 15-21

The sweetheart cake did not work at all. The square cake crumbled as it came out of the pan and would not cut so no heart to make. I frosted the round cake, decorated it with sprinkles and everyone seemed to think that was good enough (tm). Our experiment this week is going to be the chicken pad thai. It is again from my favorite cookbook ever

Monday - Tacos, Seasoned rice, Black Beans, Salad
Tuesday - Out with Friends
Wednesday - Class - Froggy will have Mac & Cheese with the Sitter
Thursday - Chicken Pad Thai, carrots
Friday - Challah, Maple Glazed Salmon, rice, Keem, Broccoli, Tiramisu (recipe to follow)
Saturday - Leftovers

Sunday, February 14

Valentines Day Musings

Valentines Day - It is technically Saint Valentines Day, a Catholic Holiday. And yet we celebrate it in our house. We should not and I know we should not. There is a guilty feeling in my stomach as I watch my daughter make cards for her teachers and friends. But we do it.

To me it is like Halloween. I along with most of the rest of the country treat them as secular holidays. That is how I grew up. For me there is a big difference between celebrating Halloween and Valentines Day and having a Christmas tree or hanging stockings. Maybe I am deluding myself but it is the same line my mom drew and it works for us at least for now.

Part of me wishes I could do away with it. But part of me loves it. I make my daughter a new dress each year. My husband always gets me flowers and chocolate and does something nice for me. I cook a special festive dinner. We bake treats and share our love with neighbors and friends in a way they understand (unlike the Mishlach Manot baskets which follow closely on its heels).

At some point I am going to need to explain why this is ok but Christmas is not in a way that makes sense to my daughter. For those who have addressed this conflict, I would love to hear how you explained it or why you made the choice you did.

Friday, February 5

A Valentine Menu Feb 7-14

And annoucing, Keli is the winner of last week's Corningware giveaway. Congratulations. I hope she has as much fun cooking in it as I intend to.

So we ended up having this for dessert for Shabbat instead of the crisp. It was an interesting experiment and may have been better if the plums were not so tart. The venison turned out fantastic. Thank you so much Emerson.

Ok so technically Valentines Day is next week but I am spending so much of this week prepping for it (mostly with crafts and baking) that I felt the need to share it early. If we ever dig out from all the snow (We got >24 yesterday and more is due on Tuesday), we will be delivering Valetines goodies to teachers and friends as we see them this week.

Sunday - movie night - dinner is crudite, puffed pastry hors dervs, and cows in blankets.
Monday - Mommy in class - Pizza for the family
Tuesday - Salmon Burgers
Wednesday - Ravioli for Froggy - Parents eat at class if it happens otherwise Chili for the whole family
Thursday - leftovers
Friday - Challah, Pot Roast, roasted root veggies, green beans, sweet heart cake
Saturday - Dinner is left over after a big lunch out.

Valentines Day
breakfast - Heart shaped pancakes with strawberries
Lunch - tortillas with hummus or peanut butter cut in hearts. rice krispy hearts.
Dinner - Grilled Marinated Steak, roasted sweet potatoes, broccoli, chocolate dipped stawberries.

It is interesting. When I looked back for some links, I was surprised at how similar our menu this week is to last year.

Wednesday, February 3

A Morning At Home

We are on the go lots and lots. Some say we do "school on the go" rather than homeschooling. Still, I try really hard to keep one morning a week for being at home. The rhythms of week run smoother if Froggy has some down time at home. And I get to clean. I love having a neat, tidy house and this gets me it once a week even if just for a few minutes.

Some people clean one room each day or several times a week. Once a week is the best I can manage. I hate to clean but love things sparkly so this is a nice compromise for me. I spend the time between breakfast and lunch cleaning. It is a minimum of two hours and a maximum of four depending on how cooperative Froggy is.

Sometimes it is hard to get started but once I do finally get my act together and start I love doing it. And I just keep on going. There is always more cleaning than there is time for. I start with the essentials of what needs to be done, straightening, cleaning the floors (sweeping, vacuuming and washing) the stairs (which means washing the treads and all the woodwork around them. We have no entryway so my stairs get filthy quickly) and the kitchen. I do not do the bathrooms at this time. They are always done in a separate pass on Sunday. Once I have accomplished this, the real fun starts. With what ever time is left, I work on something big, like cleaning out the fridge, washing windows or some spring cleaning like task.

Each week that I do this I get to see an improvement in the house as a whole. I also seem to get a burst of productive energy that washes over the rest of my life as well. So this seems to work for me.

Happily linking to:
Works For Me Wednesday

Tuesday, February 2

Carnival of Homeschooling

The latest edition of this wonderful carnival is up over at As for My House. It features some great times and stories from other homeschooling families (including us :) I finally got my act to get together) So grab a cup of coffee and get inspired.