Category Archives: cooking

Kid-friendy Ham and Cheese Rolls

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2016-02-12 13.22.35

I’ve been experimenting with a recipe that has been circulating on the Internet. It promises an easy meal or party food in the form of hot ham and cheese rolls. Sounds good to me! When I first saw the link (for some reason this recipe is haunting both my Facebook and Pinterest feeds) I didn’t bother to click on it, but set about making some immediately with ingredients in my fridge. I made a batch of bread dough in my bread machine, rolled it out, layered ham and mozzarella cheese, rolled, sliced, and baked. My oldest daughter just about lost her mind when she tasted my first batch–thought I’d fed her dessert for lunch. They were pretty good, but they were doughy in the middle and didn’t contain enough ham (I didn’t have a full package on hand) and probably contained too much cheese.

For round 2 I actually clicked on the recipe link but was disappointed to see that it involved refrigerated pizza dough in a can, which is a category of food product we don’t eat at my house. (I’m not being judgy. I don’t care if you eat it. We just don’t, and because we’re already at home all morning doing school it is reasonable for me to make dough on my own.) But it also included a yummy-sounding glaze made with mustard and butter and some other things, and sliced Swiss cheese, which sounded a little more flavorful and tidier to slice than the shredded mozzarella that had gone into my first batch. So I tried it again, this time using homemade pizza dough and the glaze. I thought these were yummy, though with the glaze they did start to feel more like a party food and less like the lunch than what I was hoping for out of this recipe. My daughter was very disappointed because she a) didn’t like the glaze, b) didn’t like the much less doughy pizza dough, and c) didn’t like the Swiss cheese as well. The younger kids weren’t impressed either, and I was basically forced to eat a whole pan of party-worthy ham and cheese rolls myself, which honestly wasn’t much of a hardship.

Enter round 3! This time I went back to bread dough, but made up a smaller batch so that when I rolled it out there would be less of it. I used shredded mozzarella but measured it so I knew I’d be getting a reasonable amount, and I brushed the whole thing with butter and sprinkled it with a little bit of seasoning at the end instead of a glaze. These were awesome! My daughter and I both thought this round was great, and I’m glad to have another lunch trick up my sleeve. These feel really decadent on a cold day but aren’t difficult to make and are nutritionally similar to a regular old ham and cheese sandwich on homemade bread. (No nutritional powerhouse here, obviously, but it could be worse. We use all-natural ham and ate them with a side of fruit!) Out of curiosity I used an online calculator to figure out the calorie content and found out that there are 210 calories per butter-brushed roll, made using the recipe below, in case you care.

Dough:

1 cup water
2 TB butter
1 1/2 tsp salt
3 cup bread flour
2 TB dry milk
1 TB sugar
2 tsp yeast

Other:

1 package deli ham
1 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
2 TB melted butter
1 tsp Penzey’s sandwich sprinkle, or seasoning of choice, if desired

Place all dough ingredients in a bread machine pan (liquids first) and set for dough cycle. If not using a bread machine, make a bread dough using the ingredients above however you usually do it and let rise in a warm place for 1 1/2 hours or until doubled in bulk.

After the dough is done preheat the oven to 375 and roll the dough out into a rectangle shape. (It’ll be about 18″ by 12″.) Arrange one package of all-natural deli ham evenly over the dough, sprinkle the ham evenly with the cheese, and roll it all up on the long side. Using a serrated knife cut the log in half, cut each half in half, and then cut each fourth into thirds to make 12 even rolls. Place in 4 rows of 3 rolls in a 9×12 glass baking dish sprayed with cooking spray. Sprinkle any shredded cheese that fell out when you were slicing evenly over the rolls. Brush the rolls with the melted butter and sprinkle with the seasoning if you wish. Bake for 35 minutes or until golden brown.

 

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Cupcakes and t-shirts

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monkeysToday’s post is about birthdays and half-birthdays too. In our family we celebrate six-month birthdays with cupcakes, as was the tradition in my family growing up.  For Worth’s half-birthday we made Pinterest-inspired monkey cupcakes with chocolate frosting, vanilla wafers, white chocolate chips, and piped dark-brown frosting. My kids had a great time decorating these, and they were simple enough that the 4-and-a-half-year-old boy of honor could fully participate.

apple-cupcakeDorothy wanted un-decorated cupcakes that we could upend over some clipart of the Wicked Witch’s feet (see my photo on Instagram) to make the cakes look like houses that fell on the witch. Fun! We’d just been on a field trip to an apple orchard, and I was still working my way through the huge bag of apples I bought, so I made apple cupcakes with caramel icing. The apple cake recipe I used calls for shredded apple, so there is a nice apple flavor without the chunks that end up mealy or tough in some apple cake recipes. I substituted pie spice for the cinnamon, and the moist consistency of the cake made perfect cupcakes that don’t fall apart when you eat them and peel away from the paper easily. Go and make these cupcakes this afternoon–seriously, they are so good. And the cakes would have made a perfectly nice dessert or snack without frosting, but of course for us they were meant to be cupcakes, so they really had to have frosting. I used this caramel frosting recipe and it was just right, Caramel frosting over apple cupcakes–yum.

shirts

Amid our half birthday celebrating at home, Worth got invited to the birthday party of some friends. The kids were having a space-themed party so I made them embroidered comet t-shirts. Some of my favorite free embroidery designs are the retired sets at Bunnycup Embroidery. I used a design from the Stars N Stripes set, but rotated it to look like a falling star or comet. I like to do embroidered shirts like these, where the embroidery is done on a fabric panel that is then fused and sewn to the shirt, rather than directly on the shirt. That way I don’t have to deal with embroidering on stretchy knit, and the itchy back of the designs is not up against the wearer’s chest. I think the children liked their shirts.

Crafty kids

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quilt

There are lots of things I’m not sure about when it comes to parenting. I really struggle with my kids and food, for example. All my fine ideas about how they were going to love vegetables haven’t really panned out. But one thing I feel pretty confident about is the way they both (I’m excluding Daphne here, who can hardly be expected to show creativity or initiative at 10 weeks) can envision a project and tackle it head-on, with whatever materials they find. I think I’m doing a halfway decent job of giving them confidence in the “homemade” department. At least that’s something, right? So at least if they ever lose their teeth to poor nutrition and go to jail for bad behavior they can sit in there and knit a cozy for their meal tray. Or something.

Dorothy has really been into sewing lately. She sews lots and lots (and lots) of little pouches for things and gets really upset if we don’t use them for all the things they are meant to hold. Although I’ve taught her about sewing on the wrong side of the fabric she prefers her own free-form methods, which I think is fine. Just recently she’s progressed from pouch-making to quilting, and has made coverlets for her doll, a doll of her brother’s, and now one for baby sister. I thought it was an adorably sweet project, and I loved seeing the big sister cozy the tiny sister up in it. It did get slightly less charming when the big sister basically followed me around doggedly for the next whole day, placing and replacing the little quilt over the baby just in case I “forgot” to cover her up in it just for a trip to check the mailbox or something. But I understand; it’s the same reason I don’t like to sew Halloween costumes–you want your sewing projects to get used.
bracelets

Dorothy has also been really into making rubber band bracelets. I realize this is no different from almost every other 2nd grade girl in middle America at the moment, but it is possible that being a homeschooler and having more free time has given her the opportunity to be a little more prolific than most–she’s about to suffocate every bare surface in the house with these little rubber chains, made in two styles and a variety of colors. She and her friends trade them and make them for each other. It’s funny how every few years sees a new trend of childhood “currency,” and I think it’s nice that this particular trend involves the kids making something with their own hands to swap and gift. cookies2

Yesterday we made iced sugar cookies to share with the kids’ grandparents after their church Christmas pageant this weekend. I cut out only snowmen to keep things simple, then set each child up with their own jar of icing, a small stack of cookies, little bowls of candies to share for the decorating, and a big fat lecture on hand washing and not licking.cookies3

Worth was not old enough to remember the last time we decorated cookies together and took the job very seriously.cookies4Of course the most enjoyable part of the project was the tasting at the end. Dorothy ate her “weird” snowman, I ate my piped icing mistake (oops! a uni-brow!), and Worth ate his snowman with the most candies and icing crammed on top. As is our custom when I have frosting in tubes, we wrapped up by me piping a “finger rose” on the tips of all their fingers, for them to lick off before going for one more good hand-wash.

first-christmasThere is nothing homemade in this photo except my beautiful baby herself, and her fine chubby cheeks. Breast-feeding can give such a sense of accomplishment when you see your child fill out and grow! Like I’m not sure how I did it, but I did it! Is it crafty? Nope, but still homemade. 🙂 She’s ten weeks old now and is doing great. She’s not a particularly easy or laid-back baby (of course I’m comparing her to Worth, who was just about the most pleasant and obliging infant I’ve ever encountered) but we don’t really mind trying to keep up with her exacting standards. She should have what she wants, this precious (final) baby #3!

Summer

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Has it been a month since I’ve blogged? Summer flies! Been busy around here, but not had many completed projects to share. Here’s some of what my family has been up to.

cherry-ice-creamMade homemade cherry ice cream for a rainy but fun 4th of July. (Add 1 cup chopped fresh or frozen cherries plus 1/2 tsp almond extract to your favorite vanilla ice cream recipe.)

texas 2013 (4)Drove almost 1000 miles to Fort Worth, Texas, with my mom and two kids to visit my aunt. Had a great time relaxing and listening to my son call my aunt “Nana’s sister” while she equipped them to ride horses, rope each other, and stay away from cacti. Then had to drive almost 1000 miles back–eek.

green-bedBought two unfinished bed frames, two unfinished dresses, two metal nightstands, and two tiny tables at IKEA to outfit the room that will be shared by Worth and the new baby. Put them all together, stained and sealed the dressers and beds (green!), and am still working on pulling it all together in a cute shared room.

push-popDrove out to the Kentucky Renaissance Fair, where we ate not-so-historically-accurate snacks and discovered that Renaissance=fairies, for some bewildering volume of the participants. (But it was fun anyway.)

embroidered-bibTurned some plain IKEA bibs into personalized baby gifts for some friends with my embroidery machine.

Hope your summer is fun-filled too!

Cookies, a sweater…oh dear, I’m disorganized!

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bow

It’s been almost a month since I’ve blogged. I’m sort of getting out of the habit of remembering to photograph projects when I finish them. I don’t think I’m ready to quit this blog thing yet because I enjoy keeping this little record for myself, but I do need to put a note or something on my crafty table so I don’t completely get out of the habit. In any case, here’s a little bit of what”s been going on at my house this past month. Dorothy and I made hair bows. I made a few for her (including this one I glued to a headband) and she made some for her cousins. We used a Bowdabra, which is simple and gives good results. It makes puffy bows–not the tidy little twisted kind you can make with templates. sugar-cookies

I’ve used the season as an excuse to try a bunch of gluten-free cookie recipes I’d been wondering about. I’m not gluten-free but my mother is, so I’ve been enjoying experimenting with gluten-free baking on her behalf. These sugar cookies were from Carol Fenster’s 100 Best Gluten-Free Recipes and they were terrific. I don’t think anyone would have noticed they were gluten-free if I hadn’t said something. I rolled them out between sheets of plastic wrap as suggested, but I found the dough just as easy to work with as regular cookie dough.

jam-cookies

These gluten-free jam cookies were from The Wheat-Free Cook by Jacqueline Mallorca. I don’t care for this book overall as well as the one above, but these cookies were tasty. They were really great just-baked and were nice but crumbly once they had been sandwiched with the jam. The drawback to them came the next day, when they’d apparently soaked up all the moisture from the jam and almost fell apart when I touched them, so they really want to be eaten only on the day they are made. Still, they are tasty and light with a nice flavor and don’t scream “gluten free alternative!” when you taste them.

new-sweater

I finished knitting (knooking) myself this sweater a few weeks ago. Unfortunately the freakishly warm weather has prevented me from wearing it much. I ran into the difficulty once again of trying to get a decent photo of a project made for myself but this one will have to do. I’d like to show the neckline, which I particularly like, but I didn’t think to take off my scarf for the photo when I came in today from shopping. I used this Oatmeal Pullover pattern and the Lion Brand Wool-Ease yarn the pattern suggests, but in the color Eggplant. I like the sweater and it didn’t take that long to knook since the yarn is so chunky, but if this warm-weather trend continues I may never get to wear it since it is such a bulky, warm garment. I made the pattern in size medium, but since the knitter controls the length and the sleeve length I think I could have gone down a size and cut down on some of the bulk.

bookmarks

Finally, this is what my kids made their instructors/nursery care providers/extracurricular teachers as holiday gifts this year. Last year we did jars of homemade granola and I was going to do that again, but when my kids got snotty and sick it felt like homemade gifts from my kitchen stirred by their germy little hands might not be the most appropriate displays of our affection. Instead I cut strips of cardstock and cut the recipients’ names out with paper punches, then let the kids paint their own designs on the strips. Each kid needed to make about five. After they were dry we wrote the children’s names on the back and laminated them to make sturdy personalized bookmarks.

Hope you have a very merry, crafty Christmas!

St. Patrick’s Day and some organization

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The first year that Rob and I were married I collected holiday decorations a little obsessively. It was some combination of nesting in our first home, having two incomes and no kids, and a love affair with eBay that made me do it. Now some years I have not had the time or energy to put out useless tchotchkes for minor holidays. This year, with two kids big enough to avoid catastrophe while I bring a box up from downstairs and a house that is no longer such a project on its own, I have really enjoyed putting out all manner of holiday decorations. The kids take total delight in “decorating” and making a celebration out of days big and small.  These green and gold fishing floats were my newlywed eBay purchases–a pot of gold for St. Patrick’s Day. My mother bought the Leprechaun when Dorothy was a baby and this year the girl loved seeing him keep watch over his treasure on our entryway table.

Green candles in my candelabra, more fishing floats, vintage glass goblets that belonged to Rob’s grandfather, and some felt clover from the dollar store made us feel lucky and maybe even a bit Irish in the dining room.

And my very favorite, a set of vintage-inspired plates from that newlywed eBay spree. I didn’t know then how much our children would enjoy them in 2012! We ate off of them for a couple weeks prior to March 17. We rounded out our celebration of the Irish within us (Dad assures me it’s there, and my current red hair situation would lead you to believe it if you weren’t aware that all hints of the hue came from a bottle) by eating this delicious apple and cabbage soup and fried patties of mashed potato, garlic and cheese–probably not authentic, but reminiscent of a favorite Irish pub food in my college town.

On another topic, I’ve been prettying up the insides of closets and things that don’t always show. I spent the first year at this house taking care of big-impact things, but in this second year I get to move on to some crafty projects that might not be noticed when you walk in the front door but definitely improve my quality of life. I was so pleased with the new rag bag of a few weeks ago that I made a similar bag with an inserted hanger to hold plastic bags. While I do use cloth bags frequently at the grocery, I also like to hang on to those good, sturdy Target bags and the bags the newspaper comes in to reuse. I’ve seen patterns for small bag-holders, but we also save paper shopping bags so I felt like I needed something larger. This one is working out very nicely and looks pretty good too. The tote bag in the stairwell holds old batteries until I can drop them off at the recycling center.

This little bag turns an unused bar on the inside of my kitchen under-sink cabinet into a sweet little spot for reusable mop heads and dusters. I don’t think the buttons show very well in the picture but they are very pert make the bag look a little sassy–just what I need to make me feel better about some chores that are not my favorites.

Holiday puttering

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Such a busy time of year! We’re making homemade granola and putting it in jars for teachers and sitters…

crafting up cute gift tags, baking cookies, using too much tape, running late to events, forgetting to water the tree, thoroughly enjoying the season, and being so thankful we’re not moving like this time last year!

Hope you’re having a wonderful Advent season!