Growing Grass from Seed: Day 1

It’s been a LONG winter. For a story to long and sad to share on such a sweet blog, I’ll just say we have to plant grass in our backyard. Again.

When the ground thawed this year, we got out the shovels and heavy metal rakes, a beautiful rental bobcat, and went to town leveling out the yard, and by my husband insistence, sculpted a pretty interesting bmx bike track along the fence line.

So, I figured, I’ll post the progress on our little turf adventure, and anyone can either learn what not to do, or actual find some helpful tips for their project.

DIY GRASS GROWING TIPS

#1) make your yard level and if possible sloped to where you want water to shed (for example, away from your house)

#2) modify your soil if necessary. (we added peat moss because our soil was very compacted, and stony

#3) water down the soil to help breakup big clumps of dirt

#4) get some super cute assistants to help spread the topsoilIMG_2585

assistants No.2 & 3 are a bit distracted

assistants No.2 & 3 are a bit distracted

assistants  No. 2&3 are really becoming one with the earth

assistants No. 2&3 are really becoming one with the earth

assistants getting a good hose down before their bath...and yes, that is my kitchen sink sprayer.

assistants getting a good hose down before their bath…and yes, that is my kitchen sink sprayer.

#5) Ignore tip number 4. Cute assistants end up making more work than necessary

#6) Make sure your hoses are connected and sprinklers can reach every area. (rotate where your hoses lay or you may get a line of no growth on your new grass)

#7) spread seeds with a seed spreader, using the correct seed for your needs and sun exposure. We planted shade mix under the tree and a sun mix in the open yard.

#8) water thoroughly and Keep All Pets and Kids OFF!

Day 1 complete.

he's pretty sad that he lost is backyard for a month, but he's really milking the situation...more trips to the park now!

he’s pretty sad that he lost is backyard for a month, but he’s really milking the situation…more trips to the park now!

I may be completely insane by the time this yard is safe to walk on. I’ll keep you posted.

Garlic Knots

What’s a girl gonna do with oodles of pizza dough? Make garlic knots of course! Making homemade pizza dough is way easier than it seems. Not as easy as buying from the freezer section of the store, but definitely more rewarding. We eat a lot of pizza (a whole lot) so I figured out a few recipes to incorporate the extra dough, and here is one of them.

Garlic Knots. Bitesize. Addictive. Irresistable.

Here’s what I did…

I combined the yeast, warm water,  and a bit of sugar

I combined the yeast, warm water, and a bit of sugar

I added salt, oil, sugar and 1 cup of flour to make a slurry...the yeast is getting happy

I added salt, oil, sugar and 1 cup of flour to make a slurry…the yeast is getting happy

added the rest of the flour slowly

added the rest of the flour slowly

until it looked like this, just pulled together into a sticky ball

until it looked like this, just pulled together into a sticky ball

consistency of dough should be very "squishy"

consistency of dough should be very “squishy”

after kneading about 5-10 minutes, with lots of throwing it down on the work surface, the dough gets smooth and is still very tender

after kneading about 5-10 minutes, with lots of throwing it down on the work surface, the dough gets smooth and is still very tender

cover and let rise in warm area

cover and let rise in warm area

it grew rapidly

it grew rapidly

and kept growing after I punched it down

and kept growing after I punched it down

the dough...soft as a pillow after rising an hour or more

the dough…soft as a pillow after rising an hour or more

roll out as long as your hand breadth

roll out as long as your hand breadth

tie in a knot

tie in a knot

 a great way to keep little hands busy

a great way to keep little hands busy

ready to go

ready to go

while the knots are cooking, I pull out my olive oil that's been marinating minced garlic

while the knots are cooking, I pull out my olive oil that’s been marinating minced garlic

add some fresh herbs, slat pepper, and more garlic

add some fresh herbs, salt,  pepper, and more garlic

once cooked, they can be dumped in a big bowl

once cooked, they can be dumped in a big bowl

toss them in A LOT of garlic Olive Oil.... A LOT I SAID!

toss them in A LOT of garlic Olive Oil…. A LOT I SAID!

cook for another couple of minutes before eaten so they are fragrant and watm

cook for another couple of minutes before eaten so they are fragrant and watm

Here’s what you’ll need

Garlic Knots

1 c. lukewarm water

1 package fast acting yeast

1 tsp.+  salt

1/2 tsp. sugar

2 Tbsp. Olive Oil

1 c. (whole wheat flour optional for this 1 cup)

 1.5 – 2 c. flour additional

1/4 c. “good” Olive Oil

8 heads of Garlic, minced

1 tsp. dried parsley

s/p to taste

bake knots at 425º for 5-10 mins

Baking Milestone: Homemade Yeast Donuts

I’ve made donuts at home before. You know, open up the Pillsbury tube, punch a hole through the center of each preformed circle of white “dough” , toss it in oil, roll it in cinnamon sugar. Homemade donuts. But yesterday, I wanted HOMEMADE DONUTS.

I don’t know why I make life so much harder for myself. In the crazy shuffle of loading 3 small children into the car before breakfast on a Saturday morning, to run to the grocery store to get almond milk and strawberries for these homemade strawberry glazed donuts, my wise son of 5 years old says, “Mom, we can just go to dunkin donuts.” Yes. Yes we could. But nonetheless, on we pressed on.

I’m not gonna lie, making homemade donuts is pretty messy and takes way more time than my more than patient children (and I) expected. But the end result was delicious, not so picture perfect, donuts for lunch. (Real mom win there.)

Here’s what I did…

the ingredients

the ingredients

add yeast to warm water with some sugar wake it up

add yeast to warm water with some sugar wake it up

heat milk on the stove on medium

heat milk on the stove on medium

add shortening to the milk and heat until melted

add shortening to the milk and heat until melted

milk and shortening combined and bubbling

milk and shortening combined and bubbling

put sugar and salt in a bowl

put sugar and salt in a bowl

then pour hot milk into on top, stirring until cooled a bit

then pour hot milk on top, stirring until cooled a bit

add sifted flour

add 1 cup sifted flour

add eggs

add eggs

in 5-10 minutes the yeast has started to foam up considerably

in 5-10 minutes the yeast has started to foam up considerably

add yeast to the bowl and stir

add yeast to the bowl and stir

add more flour and mix

add 1 more cup of flour and mix

switched to  my dough hook and added more flour

switched to my dough hook and added 2 more cups of flour

prepped my kneading board with flour

prepped my kneading board with flour

stopped mixing when it looked like this

stopped mixing when it looked like this

turned out the sticky dough  and kneaded in flour until it just was't sticky anymore...maybe 5 minutes

turned out the sticky dough and kneaded in flour until it just was’t sticky anymore…maybe 5 minutes

placed ball of dough in a greased bowl to rise in warm area

placed ball of dough in a greased bowl to rise in warm area

dough doubled in size which took about 1 hour

dough doubled in size which took about 1 hour

turn out dough onto floured surface and just press into a flat piece, 1/2" thick.

turn out dough onto floured surface and just press into a flat piece, 1/2″ thick.

i used a donut cutter to twist donuts out, but a cup and a piping tip would suffice

i used a donut cutter to twist donuts out, but a cup and a piping tip would suffice

I'm starting to get giddy at this point

I’m starting to get giddy at this point

need to rise for another 40 minutes

need to rise for another 40 minutes…p.s. as a helpful tip, let plenty of flour coat the bottom of these babies so they don’t stick and come off easliy

risen but are super fragile! don't handle to much or they'll deflate...very sad

risen but are super fragile! don’t handle to much or they’ll deflate…very sad

fry for 2 minutes per side at 350º. Notice the back one deflated from handling to much

fry for 2 minutes per side at 350º. Notice the back one deflated from handling to much

drain on paper or towels to remove excess oil

drain on paper or towels to remove excess oil.(not the prettiest donut pic I chose to use…oh well)

make a simple glaze with milk, butter and confectioners sugar, and cook unto glossy and smooth

make a simple glaze with milk, butter and confectioners sugar, and cook unto glossy and smooth

coat on all sides

coat on all sides

let excess glaze drip back into the pan

let excess glaze drip back into the pan

fluffy interior and crisp exterior

fluffy interior and crisp exterior

kids got involved with decorating, strawberry glazed is their favorite

kids got involved with decorating, strawberry glazed is their favorite

Here’s what you’ll need…

Yeast Donuts

1/2 c water, warm
2 pkg active dry yeast
3/4 c almond milk or regular milk would work too
1/3 c sugar
1+ tsp salt
4 – 4.5 c all-purpose flour, sifted and added in stages (may not need it all)
1/3 c shortening
2 eggs

GLAZE
1/4 c almond milk

1/2 tsp vanilla

1-1.5 c sifted confectioners’ sugar

2 Tbspn butter is optional

*optional strawberry glaze…chop up 1/2 cup strawberries and add to glaze and cook down to make a puree…add slowly to a bowl of powdered sugar to make a thicker frosting glaze

Blueberry Lemon Macarons

In honor of my sister-in-law heading to Spain and Paris for a month (so jealous), I made macarons for her bon voyage party, like she won’t get her fill of them in Paris. Let’s just take a moment of silence as we approach the holy grail of patisseries…

…the macaron.

Soak it in. Mmmmmmmm. Ok, that’s good. Now let’s dig into this recipe.

Here’s what I did…

the ingredients. Egg whites, sugar, almond flour, confectioners sugar, dye, candy thermometer, spatula, water,

the ingredients. Egg whites, sugar, almond flour, confectioners sugar, dye, candy thermometer, spatula, water,

trace circles on parchment that can be slid out from under the macarons parchment

trace circles on parchment that can be slid out from under the macarons parchment

almond flour and confectioners sugar

almond flour and confectioners sugar

combined with whisk, making a well for the egg whites

combined with whisk, making a well for the egg whites

2 eggs white and food dye added to make this colorful thick paste

2 eggs white and food dye added to make this colorful thick paste

cover the almond paste to prevent drying

cover the almond paste to prevent drying

place sugar and water to saucepan

place sugar and water to saucepan

beat egg whites until soft peaks form, adding 35g of sugar at this point

beat egg whites until soft peaks form, adding 35g of sugar at this point

heat the sugar until 240º

heat the sugar until 240º

drizzle in the molten sugar syrup slowly while mixing

drizzle in the molten sugar syrup slowly while mixing

meringue holds a firm string of whites when pulled

meringue holds a firm string of whites when pulled

add 1/3 of the meringue to the almond paste

add 1/3 of the meringue to the almond paste

I added a bit more food dye  after the first round of meringue was added

I added a bit more food dye after the first round of meringue was added

add the rest of the meringue to the almond base

add the rest of the meringue to the almond base

fold together and press against the bowl  to combine

fold together and press against the bowl to combine

piping out little mounds just shy of 2", using my template as a guide

piping out little mounds just shy of 2″, using my template as a guide

drying out for about  45 minutes

drying out for about 45 minutes

notice the dull surface, these are dry to touch

notice the dull surface, these are dry to touch

check out those feet

check out those feet

shells matched by size and shape

shells matched by size and shape

shells filled with lemon curd and blueberry buttercream

shells filled with lemon curd and blueberry buttercream

hmmmm...who ate one?!

hmmmm…who ate one?!

handpicked flowers by little guys, macarons and coffee...perfection

handpicked flowers by little guys, macarons and coffee…perfection

showing us some macaron excitement

showing us some macaron excitement

thick, structured and just enough filling

thick, structured and just enough filling

Here’s what you need…

Blueberry Lemon Macarons

Almond Paste: 

150g almond meal

150g powdered sugar

50g egg whites (2 whites)

food dye

dash of salt

Meringue:

55g egg whites (+2 egg whites)

35g granulated sugar

120g granulated sugar

40g water

Measure precisely! Sift flour and sugar together and process in food processor if necessary to make VERY fine. Combine all ingredients in the paste until it is uniform and cover.

Whip egg whites for meringue until frothy, then add 35g sugar slowly until soft peaks form. While on stove heat 120g sugar and water until 240º (just under) then drizzle into whisking egg white on Med. High.

Add 1/4-1/3 meringue into paste and blend together. Add rest of meringue and combine until just dripping of spoon. Texture should smooth out into a smooth circle if piped. (This may take some practice to figure out the right consistency here. I’m not gonna lie, it may take a few batches to nail this aspect…don’t give up!)

Bake at 300º for 15-20 mins. remove from parchment when cool. Once you fill and sandwich together the macarons, wrap them in plastic wrap and let them sit overnight in the fridge to reconstitute the cookie and reach the right texture. They can be frozen too, only let them thaw in their wrapping before serving.

Blueberry Buttercream

butter, blueberry syrup and 10xsugar

(sorry I kinda winged it with this one, basically a buttercream overloaded with syrupy cooked blueberries)

Lemon Curd

Recipe coming soon!

Homemade Whole Wheat Pasta Dough for Raviolis

As I was cleaning my kitchen today, and taking stock of the gazillion bags of flour on the shelf, I discovered a small bag of Whole Wheat flour that expires….AHHHH…04.30.2015….That’s next week!!!! Gotta use that puppers up so I figured this week I’d make lots of bread and doughs.

First on the list, pasta dough. “Homemade pastaaaa”…(said in my best Homer Simpson drooly voice) is such a treat to have. My kids are also a big fan of it to. Win. Win.

Here’s what I did…

take all the ingredients and combine in the stand mixer

take all the ingredients and combine in the stand mixer

add some water to bring  it together

add some water to bring it together

mix until its one big lump

mix until its one big lump

knead until smooth and divide into smaller portions to wrap up and let rest

knead until smooth and divide into smaller portions to wrap up and let rest

added the  pasta attachment to the mixer... I'm so spoiled

added the pasta attachment to the mixer… I’m so spoiled

Sorry about not having pictures of rolling out the pasta into sheets, but I hand both hands on deck for that and I could guarantee some epic fails if I tried to get an action shot of that process.

after running the dough through the pasta machine until it reached number 7 (very thin) I lay it on the ravioli form

after running the dough through the pasta machine until it reached number 7 (very thin) I lay it on the ravioli form

brushed the edges with egg wash

brushed the edges with egg wash

fill each section with a 1/2 to 1 tsp. filling...or go for the gold... try tablespoon!

fill each section with a 1/2 to 1 tsp. filling…or go for the gold… try tablespoon!

place another layer of pasta on top

place another layer of pasta on top

use a rolling pin to seal the two layers together and form the individual raviolis

use a rolling pin to seal the two layers together and form the individual raviolis

all pressed together

all pressed together

remove the excess pasta from edges

remove the excess pasta from edges

turn out the raviolis and put in the fridge until ready to cook

turn out the raviolis and put in the fridge until ready to cook

if you run out of filling, like I did, you can use the rest of the pasta dough to make spaghetti. These are dry and bunched in little nests for easy storage until I can cook them.

if you run out of filling, like I did, you can use the rest of the pasta dough to make spaghetti. These are dry and bunched in little nests for easy storage until I can cook them.

At this point you’re free to boil them, or even deep fry them for a different approach. I had so many, I ended up freezing had of them for another time. However you utilize this process, your with whatever you fill them, I hope you enjoy the wonderful texture of homemade pasta, and revel in the fact that you just made that! From scratch!

Here’s what you’ll need…

Homemade Wheat Pasta

2 C. whole wheat flour + some for dusting work surface

2 tsp olive oil

1 tsp salt

3 eggs + 1 egg for egg wash

1/4 cup (approximately) water….start with less and add slowly

Combine flour, oil, salt and eggs. slowly add in water until it just pulls it all together. Knead by hand about 10 mins until smooth. Wrap in plastic and let rest at least 1 hr. before rolling out. Keep covered to avoid drying out

Ham and Asiago Omelette

Eggs. Incredible edible eggs.

Eggs are a staple in our home. A. Staple.

Delicious, protein packed, versatile, and cheap! A few years ago, we had a small flock of chickens or as I just learned (thanks to wikipedia) the fancy term is, a brood of chickens. Whatever they’re called, it was amazing having fresh eggs, literally at my fingers, whenever I needed them. I say it was amazing, because all the chickens got old, stopped producing enough eggs and went to the big farm in the sky. But I’m excited so say we are building a bigger coup and getting more chickens!! I’ll keep you posted on that little project with coop construction, chick selection and all.

But for now here’s a yummy egg dish that’ll start your day off just swell.

The Ham and Asiago Omelette

Ham and asiago stuffed omelette, topped with big fat slices of tomato

Ham and asiago stuffed omelette, topped with big fat slices of tomato

micro-chives add a fresh onion flavor and a fun garnish

micro-chives add a fresh onion flavor and a fun garnish

sliced ham and aged asiago pack this omelette with a burst of salty, juicy flavor, while the tomato on top cuts it with just enough acidity.

sliced ham and aged asiago pack this omelette with a burst of salty, juicy flavor, while the tomato on top cuts it with just enough acidity.

Here’s what you’ll need…

2 eggs,mixed

3 slices of ham (or more if you like)

1/4 cup of Aged Asiago cheese

2 slices of tomatoes

1 tsp of chopped chives or green onion

salt/pepper

Mix the eggs and pour onto a medium griddle

Lay slices of ham on top like a blanket and shave asiago cheese on top

Fold the eggs in half and again the other way to make a square

top with tomatoes and chive, salt and pepper

enjoy!

Coming up soon…something sweet!

A Sweet time in Princeton NJ

Today was a beautifully sunny and flower filled day. Spring is in full bloom and a picnic at the Princeton Battlefield State Park was calling our names. Armed with PB&J’s, grapes, cheese, and diaper bag, we headed North and made a day of it.

the columns at Princeton Battlefield State Park

the columns at Princeton Battlefield State Park

When lunch was done we headed into the town for a treat. We parked on Nassua St. right in front of this beautiful sign…lucky day!

like a bug to a light I was drawn to this sign

like a bug to a light I was drawn to this sign

we stopped in House of Cupcakes (winner of Cupcake Wars)

we stopped in House of Cupcakes (winner of Cupcake Wars)

My head almost exploded when we had to choose a cupcake. There were like 50 options! I landed on a Mexican Chocolate with a spicy kick…so good!

My sweet takeaway from Princeton. A pistachio macaron and a coconut macaron.

My sweet takeaway from Princeton. A pistachio macaron and a coconut macaron.

It was a sweet day 🙂

Gluten-Free Turkey Meatloaf

I’m a big fan of classic home cooked meals. And, somewhere in the middle of my comfort food heart, sits a little plate (or big one) set aside for meatloaf and mashed potatoes. Mr. Meatloaf was tugging at my heartstrings yesterday morning, (because crazy person that I am, as soon as breakfast is finished, I’m thinking up dinner) so guess what was for dinner….meatloaf and potatoes. Well, turkey meatloaf because we were out of beef, and pierogis because we were out of potatoes. So, turkey meatloaf and pierogis….well, wheat/gluten free meatloaf because I’m following my “limited bread” diet…kinda, and dairy-free because my oldest son has a milk allergy. Whatever kind of dinner I ended up with, it was home cooked, comfort-licious!

Here’s what I did….

meat, eggs, almond milk, oats, onions, savory, parsley, salt and pepper  (pay no attention to the oil and garlic salt...they snuck in without asking)

meat, eggs, almond milk, oats, onions, savory, parsley, salt and pepper
(pay no attention to the oil and garlic salt…they snuck in without asking)

stir the eggs

stir the eggs

add 3/4 cup milk

add 3/4 cup milk

add 3/4 cups oats

add 3/4 cups oats

add some salt

add some salt

add 1/2 teaspoon savory

add 1/2 teaspoon savory

a good bit of parsley, fresh is SO good in this recipe but if all you have is dried, thats ok

a good bit of parsley, fresh is SO good in this recipe but if all you have is dried, thats ok

I had some leftover onions from our cheeseburger dinner...

I had some leftover onions from our cheeseburger dinner…

chopped em up and tossed them in

chopped em up and tossed them in

once all the other ingredients were mixed in, I added the ground turkey

once all the other ingredients were mixed in, I added the ground turkey

plop

plop

so that's what it looks like...kinda...eeew

so that’s what it looks like…kinda…eeew

didn't want to wash another dish so this one's getting some foil

didn’t want to wash another dish so this one’s getting some foil

small loaf pan covered in foil and trimmed up nice

small loaf pan covered in foil and trimmed up nice

sprayed with oil to prevent sticking

sprayed with oil to prevent sticking

rub that baby down

rub that baby down

preheat the oven to 350ºF and let it cook for 50 mins.

preheat the oven to 350ºF and let it cook for 50 mins.

add a spoonful of the meatloaf mixture to pan with 4 tablespoons of butter....the gravy is not dairy free

add a spoonful of the meatloaf mixture to pan with 4 tablespoons of butter….the gravy is not dairy free

add 4 Tablespoons of flour......and it's not gluten free either

add 4 Tablespoons of flour……and it’s not gluten free either

Cook, while stirring, until bubbling

Cook, while stirring, until bubbling

add some Heavy Cream...definitely not dairy free

add some Heavy Cream…definitely not dairy free

add beef stock or beef bullion and water

add beef stock or beef bullion and water

slice the meatloaf when cool enough to handle

slice the meatloaf when cool enough to handle

quickly grill the slices on a hot griddle, coated in Olive Oil, to bring out flavor and color

quickly grill the slices on a hot griddle, coated in Olive Oil, to bring out flavor and color

the grand finale.....Delicious Gluten-free, Dairy-free meatloaf with gravy.

the grand finale…..Delicious Gluten-free, Dairy-free meatloaf with gravy, which is loaded with dairy and gluten. Options people, Options.

Here’s what you’ll need…

Grain-free, Dairy-freeTurkey Meatloaf Recipe

(Adapted from my good friend Kathleen’s recipe)

1 lb ground turkey

2 eggs

3/4 cup almond milk

3/4 cup oats

1/2 teaspoon savory

1 teaspoon dried parsley (use double if using fresh parsley)

1/2 cup onions chopped

1/2 Tablespoon salt

 a few cracks of Black pepper

Gravy Recipe

1 Tablespoon meatloaf mix

4 Tablespoons butter

4 Tablespoons flour

1/4 cup heavy cream

1 cup of beef stock OR 1 cup water and bullion

Homemade Beignets for dessert

Last night was a great night at our house. We had two great friends over for dinner, the weather was gorgeous (we left the windows and doors wide open, we build-our-own cheeseburgers for dinner and had homemade beignets for dessert.

If you look at my last post, I walked you through prepping the beignet dough or choux pastry, so it could chill in the fridge all day. Tonight, after dinner was put away and cleaned up, we pulled that puppy out of the fridge and made beignets!

this is what the pastry dough looks like after sitting in the fridge all day

this is what the pastry dough looks like after sitting in the fridge all day

I used a Tablespoon size mechanical scooper to drop dough into the oil

I used a Tablespoon size mechanical scooper to drop dough into the oil

As pictured I used my countertop deep fryer, but you could certainly use a dutch oven on the stovetop as well.

floating beignets will soon double in size

floating beignets will soon double in size

removed from oil and dusted with powdered sugar

removed from oil and dusted with powdered sugar

beignets served with, homemade whipped cream     ala Jamie and dipping sauces ala Tim (thanks guys)

beignets served with, homemade whipped cream ala Jamie and dipping sauces ala Tim (thanks guys)

flaky outer shell and fluffy hollow interior

flaky outer shell and fluffy hollow interior

These perfect little donuts are ridiculous! I won’t tell you how many I ate…let’s just say I threw my GI Diet out the window today, out the window and down the street, threw it out like a moldy piece of bread from the bread drawer….I ate a lot of them. It’s kryptonite.

Check out my post from yesterday for the recipe.