09 December 2012

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

This is my husbands very favorite Christmas time cookie.

We've been married almost 13 years and a lot of things have changed.  
One thing that has not... is his love of THIS cookie.

I thought it was time I shared the recipe. It is adapted from a cookbook I got 21 years ago the Christmas just after my high school graduation.  I can't believe I even have a cookbook from that long ago.  I guess that tells you what kind of a girl I am... and always have been.  I love to cook!  Anyway.. here you go:

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies
adapted from Pure & Simple published by Neiman Marcus

Mix in small bowl:
1 C pumpkin puree
1 egg
1 1/2 t vanilla

Mix in medium bowl:
2 C all purpose flour
1 t baking power
1 t baking soda
1 1/2 t cinnamon
1/2 t ground ginger
1 t salt
1/4 t ground cloves
1/4 t ground nutmeg

Beat in mixer:
1/2 C raw sugar
1/2 C brown sugar
1 C unsalted butter

Fold all 3 bowls worth of stuff together.  Fold in 1 C dark chocolate chips (60% minimum cocoa).

Drop in heaping tablespoons onto parchment paper covered cookie sheet.  Flatten slightly w/ wet fingers. Sprinkle with raw sugar.

Bake at 350 for about 12m 


18 July 2012

Road Trip

So we have kinda a big road trip coming up in less than a week.  585 miles.  I'm trying to come up with things for the kiddos to do.  

This was one idea.  

I have it printed out on white 8 1/2 x 11 paper

It was my mom's idea (of course).... I just did the "making it" part.  Cleaver huh?  The kid will look for this stuff and either cross them out when they see them or make marks next to the pictures to keep track of how many.  

It'll be one of the many tools I use to get through the 9 hour drive spread over 2 days with 3 kids 7 & under.  

Do you have any ideas?

Please share w/ me.

Pretty please.

29 April 2012

Family Dinners..... what happened to them?

Remember before you had kids when you had all those lofty ideals about how YOU would do things different... or things you would NEVER do with YOUR family?  I, like you, had a huge list of those things.  And while some of them I've managed to stay true to, some I was a dismal failure hit by the reality of WHY parents do them...

One of the things I never could understand was the staggering statistic that less than half of American families eat one meal together daily.  I scoffed at that.  PLEASE I said... I'm a stay at home mom... I have high standards... we will NEVER be THAT family. 


What's that you say?  That was me falling off my pedestal. 

In spite of my best efforts this week... my family of 5 was sitting at the dinner table together 2 times.  GASP.  I know right! TWO.  It's appalling.  How did this happen?  It is called EXTRA-CURRICULAR ACTIVITIES.  Plain and simple. 

The husband is in an MBA program which takes him away from the dinner table 2x a week.  The older 2 boys are in Martial Arts training which takes them away from the dinner table 2x a week (thankfully I've synced those to be the same 2x).  The oldest kiddo is in Little League which takes him away from the dinner table 1x a week.. and he had 2 games this week which took the rest of us away from the dinner table 2 more times this week.  That is 5 nights of activity. 

What's the solution?  No extra curricular activities?  That's one idea... but that isn't the right solution for us.  Leave it to my mom.... the answer is so simple.  Eat breakfast together every day.  I love her. 

So while our schedules are in the hectic season I will make a point of all 5 of us sitting down at the BREAKFAST table at the same time. 

The other idea she had that I LOVE was to make the dinners we do have together special occasions.. with special food that everybody loves and dessert.   I do have 3 boys after all... all it takes is some dessert to make a memorable meal.  Thanks mom!

Which meal do you all eat together? 

28 April 2012


Ever have an idea so obvious you are sure everyone knows about it and no one bothered to tell you? 

I have had one.  And probably you all know about this and do it already.... why didn't you tell me?

I make bread a lot.  I make scones a lot.  I make pizza a lot.  I roll out cookies a lot.

I usually dip my hand into the bin of flour to sprinkle it on my surface.  No more.  I use shakers.  And you should too.

I cleaned out 2 empty spice jars and put all purpose flour in one... cornmeal in the other.  Brilliant right?  Again... how come no one told me?

Now when I roll out pizza, dough or whatever.... I use my flour shaker! I am in love with this idea.  It is so nice... less mess, even distribution, etc.

And when I pull out my preheated pizza stone to sprinkle cornmeal onto so the pizza doesn't stick...... I use my cornmeal shaker!!

Go... tell the world... oh wait... you all already knew right? 

Oh well.


18 April 2012

Sprouted Wheat Bread

One of my fondest memories as a child is the smell of bread.  My mom made bread.  GOOD bread.  She made THIS bread.  I loved it.  It was one of the things I missed most when I went off to University.  There is nothing like a thick slice of home-made bread slathered with butter.  YUM.

So here is the family recipe.  Shhh... don't tell anyone. 

Sprouted Wheat Bread

2 large loaves
(my mom's recipe)

1 1/2 C wheat, soak it in water for 3 days... yes 3 days
on the 4th day, drain and rinse

Scald 2 cups milk (I used almond milk... worked just fine)

Add drained wheat to scalded milk... either put a little at a time in a blender or drop an emersion blender in and give it a good mix.  Most of the wheat kernels need to be broken up.

In a LARGE bowl

dissolve 3 1/2 t yeast into 1/4 cups lukewarm water
add (one at a time)
1/4 C melted butter
1/2 C honey
1/4 C molasses
4 t salt

Then dump in the wheat / milk mixture

Then dump in 2 1/2 C flour, stir.  Continue adding flour until it feels right.  You will add about 6-8 cups.  At some point you will have to start using your hands to kneed in the rest of the flour and make sure you've got the right "feel".  If you don't know what that means..  every now and then poke your finger deep into the dough... if it still feels wet... keep adding flour and kneeding.

Put the whole thing into a large greased bowl.  Rise until doubled. 

Shape into 2 loaves, let rise again...

Bake at 350 for 15 m, then at 300 for 45 minutes.

Brush tops with melted butter.


18 March 2012

Mother Daughter Luncheon

I like my mom.

I love my mom too... she is my mom after all.  But I LIKE my mom. Do you get the difference?

So I invited my mom over for a special mother-daughter luncheon.  What's the difference between a luncheon and lunch you say?  A luncheon is fancy.  My mom deserves fancy.

Salmon Cakes over seasonal greens w/ lemon vinaigrette
Artisan Bread
Chocolate Nirvana Cake

Here is my menu & planning.  For a meal like this I had to do some planning and spread some stuff out over a few days.  I do have a family and household to run afterall.

I started on wednesday by making the bread dough & refrigerate it.  I used a basic no-knead Artisan bread recipe.

No Knead Artisan Bread
Get a big container. 
Add 3 C lukewarm water, 1 1/2 T yeast, 1 T salt.  Mix.
Add 6 1/2 C flour all at once.  Stir.  Sit on counter w/ lid on but cracked for 2 hours.  Refriderate.  That is it!  This makes 4 small loaves.

About 3 hours before you want to eat it, pull out about a grapefruit size ball of dough.  Flour, shape into a ball and sit for 1 hour or so.  Preheat oven w/ stone in it to 450.  Dust stone w/ cornmeal, slide dough on to it.  Put a pan w/ 1C HOT water on the rack under the stone and bake for 30m.  Cool on a rack for 30m.  Enjoy! (you can use 1/2 whole wheat flour if you want)

This was the final loave.  Can you smell it?

On thursday I make the Flourless Chocolate cake.  This was the first step in the Chocolate Nirvana Cake. This recipe is from Karen Krasne's Extraordinary Cakes Cookbook.  This is the finished fully assembled cake.  Yum!

14 March 2012

My First Chicken

I baked a chicken.
Big deal you say? You do it all the time?  Well this was my FIRST whole chicken.  Yup. First. Ever.
What you say?  You… who makes your own tortillas and pasta and bread from scratch.  You who reverse engineers recipe’s so you can change them? 
Yes.  Me.  My 1st whole chicken.  Of course I’ve done turkeys but honestly I didn’t really want to do a whole chicken.  We preferred white meat.  I didn’t like getting my hands slimy.  Blah blah blah. 
The more I read and the more into cooking I get, the closer to my food source I want to be.  I want to know where my eggs came from.  Are there antibiotics in the milk?  Is the food local?  Is it seasonal? 

28 February 2012

Kids Bedtime Box

We have a problem at our house.
 We have dark hallways.  And when you have dark hallways coupled with little boys who have overactive imaginations you have a problem.  We’ve ended up with imaginary monsters and pretend ghosts.
Here is what we are trying.

 The idea is to empower the boys to use their imaginations against their own imaginations.  Read that again.  Empower the boys to use their imaginations against their own imaginations.
I know it is sort of quick and dirty and I am sure some of you could do nicer versions.  But we were desperate here…. I have 3 children and there is 1 of me.  Which means there are often times situations where 1 little boy is left to put on their jammies all alone….. far far away from mommy… past dark doors.  You get the idea.

In it is….

1) A squirt bottle filled with Magic Water
(this is to mist into any space the kids think might have something scary in it)
2) A flashlight which shoots Magic Light (to light dark spaces)
3) A favorite book (to read to take their mind off the scary stuff)
4) A spare blankie (for comfort)

The boys are excited.  We talked about each item in the box.  We prayed for bravery.  And so far it is working.

I'd love to hear if you have any other ideas you've used to help  kids with their night time fears!

26 February 2012

A BIG tall cake with a cherry on top....

The kids always get to pick the food for the day on their birthday.  Jack turns 3 monday.  Every time I asked what he wanted for breakfast he'd say "a BIG tall cake with a cherry on top", when I asked what he wanted for dinner he's say "a BIG tall cake with a cherry on top", when I asked what flavor he wanted his cake to be he'd say "a BIG tall cake with a cherry on top."
So guess what this blog post is about? 


A BIG tall cake with a cherry on top.

Turned out kind of Dr. Suess-y.

This cake has 3 parts.  The cake.  The simple syrup.  The frosting.

The Cake
I started with the cake.   I used THIS trusty recipe.  I have made this a number of times.  It is really good.  Simple to make and adaptable if need be. But instead of the K.A. GF flour I used my own mix and instead of the cake enhancer I use Meringue Powder (1 T). 

So I mixed up the batter.  Since Jack wanted a BIG tall cake I decided to use small layers.. and LOTS of them.  I used some individual tart pans.  Put 1/2 C cake batter in each and bake for 20 m in 350 oven.  You should get about 12 layers.


Shave off the uneven tops.  Call husband in to sample......

The Simple Syrup

1/2 C water, 1/2 C sugar, 1/4 C cocoa. Mix, heat until boiling and set aside.

The Frosting

I decided to do a Blueberry Cream Cheese - Whipped Cream Frosting.  Here is my recipe:

3 oz soft cream cheese
2 oz soft butter
1 pinch salt
1/2 t lemon zest
1 t lemon juice
1/4 blueberry puree (blueberries pureed & strained)
2 1/2 c +/- powdered sugar

1 C whipped cream

Get your stuff ready.

Throw everything but the sugar into a mixer.

Throw in the sugar.  Mix mix mix.  If you don't thing it is thick enough.... add more sugar.  Whip the cream until it is stiff peaks.  Fold together.

Now... The Assembly

Pretty simple really.  1 layer of cake.  Brush with chocolate simple syrup.  Dollop of frosting.  Repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat... you get the idea.  Since this is a TALL cake you will need some skewers.  This picture shows 1 skewer, once I was finished with all 12 layers I needed 3 skewers.  Even with skewers it gets pretty tippy.  Reminds me of my trip to Pisa Italy.  You should serve it immediately after assembling...

He was pretty happy!


11 February 2012

Chocolate Pancakes

So my husband got laid off from his job yesterday afternoon. So.... yeah.... that's a bit of a blow. We are praying... and a lot of people are praying for us...  so that is really good.

What do you make for breakfast the day after your husband gets laid off?


GF Chocolate Pancakes

Mix together in bowl:

7 oz GF Flour
1/3 C cocoa powder
1/4 C sugar
1 t baking soda
1/4 t salt

Mix together in another bowl:
2 1/4 C milk (cow, almond, buttermilk, whatever)
1 egg
3 T melted butter or oil

Mix the wet w/ the dry. Get out the griddle and go to town.

I made regular ones too.  Here is the blog post about those.

So there you have it!  Enjoy!

05 February 2012


I learned to make salsa in San Diego.
 Today, being Super Bowl Sunday, is sort of national chip & salsa day at our house.
We aren't huge football fans... but I am a HUGE fan of good super bowl food. Great salsa, awesome sliders, amazing Cole-slaw, huge cookies. Anyway... back to salsa. This is our all-time favorite salsa recipe. It is great with chips. It can go on top of a burger in place of veggies. We've put it on top of pan fried fish in fish tacos. It is SOO good, SOO easy and you have to make it now.

2 avocados - chopped
1 small onion - chopped
4 tomatoes – chopped (seeded if you want)
4 cloves garlic (pressed)
½ t salt
¼ C fresh lime juice
Parsley (or cilantro if you are one of those people)

Stir together. 


On a chip, burger, taco, or with a spoon. 

You’ll not regret it!  Enjoy!

25 January 2012

Best Cookbook EVER

So my mother told me a cookbook is worth the $ if you get 1 great recipe from it. Funny really becuase I remember a photographer friend of mine saying the same thing about film... it's a good day if you get 1 great shot per roll (back when they used rolls). Anyway. I guess by my mom's standards I have found the best cookbook in the world. This is fitting since SHE got it for me for Christmas.  
As you may recall we've gone Gluten Free here at the Lewis house. My oldest is gluten intolerant and we are doing a 3 month elimination diet to see what difference it makes in him. We are in week 4. I have been busy looking at GF web sites and through GF cookbooks. You know what I've found? Once you get the hang of cooking by weight.... you don't need a GF cookbook to cook gluten free. You just need a GOOD cookbook and a scale.  This is it.

FLOUR by Joanne Chang.

Go buy it. NOW.

21 January 2012

What to do with all those LEGO's

I have boys.  And boys have Lego's.  I've been searching the internet and questioning my friends for what to do with all the Lego's.  And we are at the beginning... my oldest is 7.  There is more to come for sure.  My system of "organizing" was a pile of various sized plastic containers with lids. That had a lot to be desired.  I didn't like the pile in my family room for starters but most importantly it wasn't accessible for spontaneous play. 

Then I had an idea.  A good one.

What is it you ask and why is it so great?  The idea is so simple really.... I bought THIS from Ikea. The real genius is what we did TO it.  We put casters on the bottom.  Yup... big wheels. That is the idea people.  So simple right?

And the best part?  It works.  Obviously it stores the Lego's.  We bought mostly shallow drawers so the kids can see the parts.  But it easily MOVES where the kids want to play.  Often they play on the kitchen table... it moves there.  Or the dining room. Or the family room.  Or the living room.  It moves to the middle of the room so they can play on both sides.  And the top is the perfect height for a little "assembly desk".

So quick go make one for your house too! 

Here is what we did.  And by WE I mean my husband who is our in-house handy man

First of course you have to assemble the furniture from Ikea.  Then head to the hardware store.  Buy 4 big casters.  4 pieces of wood, some screws and liquid nails.

 Darren glued the wood to the 4 corners.  Then pre-drilled holes for the casters.

 Then screw them in.
Here is shot of what it looks like.

And here are some pictures proving it works.  The kids LOVE it.  And USE it. 

Happy playing!