Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Cooking from the Heart

This year has been a rough year for us.  Sadly, I lost both of my beloved grandmothers only a few months apart from each other.  Growing up and as an adult I was very close to both of my grandmothers.

Grandma Piccininni was famous throughout our family for her delicious food and scrumptious cakes and desserts.  When used to joke when we were kids that we would need bigger clothes to go home in after we slept over he house.  This summer I have started the wonderful process of sorting through her recipes into a cookbook.  While entering the recipes into Tastebook I realized I did not have any pictures for these recipes.  Then I had the brilliant idea that Gooba and I would start making Grandma P's recipes and photograph them for our cookbook.

Our first experiment was a Blueberry Crumb Coffee Cake.  I must admit I teared up several times making this cake, thinking of my grandmother and how she would have absolutely loved cooking and baking with Gooba, or even knowing we were sharing her recipe and love for food and cooking together.

We even invited our neighbor over for coffee and cake!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Toddler Pizza Party

One of my fondest memories of being a kid was helping my mom and grandmothers in the kitchen.  Being from a large Italian and Polish family, food was always at the center of all of our family gatherings.  With the recent passing of both of my wonderful grandmothers I wanted to do a post about how I have started to share the tradition of cooking together with my daughter.  One of our favorite things to make together is homemade pizza.  Even though she's only 3 - we have been making food together in the kitchen since she was old enough to stand up on the chair next to the counter.  It's never to early to start cooking together!

Gooba and I use the Emeril's Basic Pizza Dough Recipe for our basic dough.  The recipe is for one pizza - but we usually double it.

1 cup warm water (105 to 115 degrees F)1 (1/4-ounce) envelope active dry yeast1 teaspoon honey2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour1 teaspoon saltYellow cornmeal, for sprinkling the baking sheet

Directions:In a large bowl, combine the water, yeast, honey, and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, stirring to combine. Let sit until the mixture is foamy, about 5 minutes.  For this part I measure the ingredients and let little Gooba pour them into the bowl.

Add 1 1/2 cups of the flour and the salt, mixing by hand until it is all incorporated and the mixture is smooth. Continue adding the flour, 1/4 cup at a time, working the dough after each addition, until the dough is smooth but still slightly sticky.  I usually work the dough and let Gooba add the flour 1/4 cup at a time - which helps so you don't get your sticky hands in the flour. You might not need all of the flour. 

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until the dough is smooth but still slightly tacky, 3 to 5 minutes.  For this part I usually give little Gooba her own dough ball to work with.  She has her own knife and rolling pin that she loves to use.  One of her favorite parts is kneading and punching the dough.

Oil a large mixing bowl with remaining olive oil. Place the dough in the bowl, turning to coat with the oil. Cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm place, free from drafts until doubled in size, about 1 1/2 hours.

Once the dough has risen it's time to make the pizza!  Now for Gooba's ultimate favorite part... rolling out the dough!  Again here I give little Gooba her own dough ball to work with while I roll out the first pizza.  

Once I roll the pizza and form the crust I pour the sauce onto the pizza.  Then I let Gooba spread the sauce over the pizza with a spatula.  Then it's time for the CHEESE!  Sprinkle, sprinkle, sprinkle.  We usually add sausage and peppers to ours after the cheese - but the fun part is making any topping you want!

Then it's time to bake your pizza at 425 degrees in the oven until the cheese is bubbly, melty, and delicious!  Then it's time for my favorite part - eating the pizza!  So there you have it!  A messy, delicious, and fun way to spend time with your little ones!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Tinkerbell Party!

Party Time!

For Gooba's 3rd birthday I gave her a few choices of what kind of party to have and her #1 choice was Tinkerbell! I must admit I had A LOT of fun planning this party for her - and the best part was, everything was super cheap and easy!

First, the party favors!  Instead of doing the traditional gift bag at the end of the party, I decided to go with a dress up theme.  I bought the fairy wings at Dollar Tree, I made the crowns from ribbon and garland that I bought at the Dollar Tree, and the necklaces are little bottles I bought online and turned into pixie dust :)  The girls had a great time with dress up!

My personal favorite part!


I made rice krispie treats and cut stars out of them once they were cooled.  Then I melted a few mini marshmallows at a time on a plate to use as "glue."  Then I stuck the pretzel rod onto the stars with the marshmallow glue.  It wasn't happening without the marshmallow glue.  These were a big hit!


Then I made these adorable little bird's nest by melting butterscotch and chocolate chips - pouring them over lo mein noodles, stirring, and forming them (on parchment paper or wax paper)  into little nests/blogs.  Then I put 3 yogurt raisins on each one and put them in the fridge until they were nice a cold. 


I LOVE how these turned out!  They are mini Nilla Wafers (I had to by name brand, I couldn't find generic) "glued" onto Hershey's Kisses with peanut butter.  A little time consuming - but totally cute!


These went the fastest out of everything.  All I did was cut a mozzarella cheese stick into five pieces, spread cream cheese on the top and add a half of a cherry tomato.  Then I took a toothpick and added the little dots of cream cheese.  Again, a little time consuming, but we had a snow day before the party - so it worked out perfect :)


Essentially these are just fancy chocolate covered pretzels.  These were the second attempt... attempt 1 I learned that I lack the skill of melting white chocolate and little pretzels fill up with chocolate and look like blobs.  SO - I used larger thin pretzels and bought red candy melts from A.C. Moore.  I melted the chocolate chips first in the microwave and dipped the heads and let harden completely (on parchment or wax paper) before I melted the red candy melts in the microwave and dipped the bodies.  Once they were all hardened again I took a toothpick and added the chocolate spots from the original bin of melted chocolate and used white icing for the eyes.


My little Gooba LOVES fruit - like most little kids.  My original plan was to make fruit wands or rainbows on a stick - but then I thought skewers and 3 year olds were not a good combination - so I just made a fruit tray instead.  For the record - fruit in January is VERY expensive!


We had a few games for the kids - but mostly we just let them run around and play.

I love this picture of Gooba in her dress up clothes dancing.  I bought two CDs recently at Walmart - Disney Princess Favorites and some sort of Disney Fairies CD.  We rotated through both CDs a few times.  Gooba will pretty much dance to anything!


I bought two tubes of fairies at A.C. Moore and hid them around the house.  Then I told all the kids that I had the fairies in a bowl before the party and that they all flew away and were hiding.  Then they all went looking for the fairies and returned them to the bowl.  They were FABULOUS at this - I wish I had hid them a little more sneaky!


I purchased a Secret of the Wings poster at Walmart and used my Cricut to cut out some stars out of yellow scrapbook paper and taped them to craft sticks.  Then we played pin the wand on the fairy.  I also filled three socks with beans and sewed them up to make beanbag eggs.  I filled a green bucket with floral filler from Dollar Tree for the toss the eggs in the bird's nest game.


OK - this one was in no way fairy related, but Gooba LOVES making bracelets from pony beads and pipe cleaners - so I just bought two bags of pony beads from A.C. Moore and let the kids go crazy.  We had about six kids and I found that two bags was WAY too many beads.... one bag would have been fine - but we'll use them another day - so no biggie!

Well that pretty much sums it up!  We had a great time and everyone went home happy, tired, and with full bellies :)  I can't believe my little girl is 3!