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Monday cook-a-thon

October 7, 2008

In an effort to save gas and money, the girls and I stayed home yesterday and got in touch with our inner Martha. First, we cleaned. Then we did laundry. I wanted to take a picture of the mountain so you could see the amount of laundry I do twice a week (it’s taller than Ava!), but alas, the camera’s battery was dead, so no pictures today.

Ava helped me make the best black bean soup ever in the crock pot first thing in the morning. If you have young kids who like to help cook, the crock pot really is the best invention ever. I chop everything up, and Ava dumps everything into the crock and gets the feeling that she made dinner all by herself. I’ve also found that it gets her excited about different foods (especially foods that she wouldn’t otherwise touch with a 10 foot pole). She even got to set the timer. When Daddy came home, she got to brag about the soup that she made. All by herself!

We also made a few loaves of pumpkin bread, beer bread to go with our soup, the yummiest muffins I’ve ever had, some scones, and some granola bars. The pumpkin bread will be taken to a play group later this week, and the muffins, scones, and granola bars will go into the freezer and be healthy snacks for school and breakfasts. Ava mixed the beer bread and muffin batter all by herself and when I dropped her off at school this morning, she told her teacher that she’d baked her own snack.

Beer Bread

3 c whole wheat flour
1/4 c sugar
3 T baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 bottle or can (12 oz) beer (room temp)
2 T butter or margarine, melted (I used Smart Balance and it worked just fine)
Additional butter or margarine, if desired
Heat oven to 375. Grease bottom and sides of 8×4 or 9×5 inch loaf pan with shortening or spray with cooking spray. In a large bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Stir in beer and 2 T butter just until moistened (batter will be lumpy). Spread in pan. Bake 40 to 50 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean and top is light golden brown. Brush top of loaf with additional butter. Cool 10 minutes in pan. Loosen sides of loaf from pan; remove from pan to wire rack. Cool completely, about 2 hours.

Playgroup Granola Bars

recipe yield: 24 granola bars
2 cups rolled oats
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup wheat germ
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup raisins (optional)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup honey
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Generously grease a 9×13 inch baking pan. In a large bowl, mix together the oats, brown sugar, wheat germ, cinnamon, flour, raisins and salt. Make a well in the center, and pour in the honey, egg, oil and vanilla. Mix well using your hands. Pat the mixture evenly into the prepared pan. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes in the preheated oven, until the bars begin to turn golden at the edges. Cool for 5 minutes, then cut into bars while still warm. Do not allow the bars to cool completely before cutting, or they will be too hard to cut.

Pumpkin Cranberry Bread
via Libby’s

3 cups all-purpose flour (I used whole wheat)
5 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3 cups granulated sugar
1 (15 ounce) can LIBBY’S® 100% Pure Pumpkin
4 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup orange juice
1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour two 9 x 5-inch loaf pans.
Combine flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Combine sugar, pumpkin, eggs, vegetable oil and orange juice in large mixer bowl; beat until just blended. Add pumpkin mixture to flour mixture; stir just until moistened. Fold in cranberries. Spoon batter into prepared loaf pans.
Bake for 60 to 65 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans on wire racks for 10 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Ayelet’s notes: I used whole wheat flour and homemade applesauce for the oil and sugar. I didn’t ahve frozen cranberries, so I used dried. This is SO good toasted and spread with a little cream cheese or ricotta. YUM!

Outside of the baking realm, Emily has a new tooth, and Ava is finally starting to like school. She was having a rough time, between completely dropping her nap and being in the same class with her best friend (and together, they have been quite the little exclusive clique! I thought that stuff didn’t start until high school!). Her teacher and I have had several conversations, and it seems that simple solutions like “make a new friend day” to seperate Ava and her BFF are all that have been needed. Joel finally won a fantasy football game, and I’m busy as ever with MOMS Club and being a room mom at preschool.

This afternoon, I am hoping to make some Halloween decorations with Ava for the house, and get a head start on our Halloween cards. Here’s hoping Emily (who is working on yet another new tooth) takes a good nap!

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