Living life in the carpool lane..

Archive for March 2014

M loves pizza.  I knew I had to figure out how to make our own pizza.

Thank God for the internet (and the Kitchen Aid).

I followed this recipe: Pizza Dough

It was very easy and it came out just like it said it would.  I have no qualms about it..

M enjoyed watching me the pizza dough that she just HAD to get in on it.

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She spent a good 45 minutes playing with the tiny left over piece of dough AND the loose flour.  She played around while the rest of the dough was set aside to rise.

Because I didn’t have a round pan, I just spread the pizza dough out on to a cookie sheet.  We baked the pizza for about 13 minutes at 450degrees on the cookie sheet.  Then we took the pizza out of the oven, let it sit for about 5 minutes on the cookie sheet.  We transferred the pizza from the cookie sheet onto a crisper mat into the oven for another three minutes at 450degrees. 

The pizza came out nice a doughy (the way M likes it) but with a good slightly crisp crust at the bottom. 

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This was our pizza for the night.  It had steak and spinach on it.  I had forgotten to brush olive oil on the crust when we initially put it in the oven, so the crust was very pale.  When we put the pizza back into the oven on the crisper, we brushed to crust with olive oil and within those three minutes of baking, there was a little more color to the crust. 

The pizza dough recipe makes two pizzas.  We had pizza for dinner the next night, so we just wrapped the left over dough in plastic and placed it in the refrigerator to be used the next night. 

I’m so glad this came out so yummy. 

Does anyone want to share any other pizza dough recipes?  Leave them in the comments below!

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We have two of those step stools that IKEA sells.

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M calls it her “little table.”

She’s always known that she can pick it up and put it down, but she’s always thought of it as another one of her toys.

A few weeks ago, the notion that these “little tables” are mere toys has changed for her.

I’m assuming that she’s observed us countless times picking it up and placing it against something in order for her to step up onto it and gain some height when she needs it.  She’s watched us taking it from the bathroom to wash her hands, to the kitchen to help me make pancakes.

A light bulb went off in her head.

She could do that too!

Oh boy, is it helpful and dangerous at the same time.

It’s helpful because she now realizes that she doesn’t need to climb her personal Everest that is the bed.  She now takes her little stool and uses it to climb into bed.  It’s dangerous when I wake up at 5am, forgetting it’s there and nearly breaking my neck just trying to go about my day.

It’s helpful because now I can ask her to carry it to the desired room when we need to do something.  It’s dangerous because she just does it on her own.  We’ll just see her carrying her little stool to wherever she needs to go with or without or permission or supervision. 

Hubby and I are on hyper alert whenever we see her taking her “little table” places.  We always have to make sure she’s not putting herself in danger or she isn’t doing anything mischevious.

Life with a toddler is definitely interesting. 
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M is just finishing another round of germs.  This time, it was congestion and an ear infection.

This year is just the year of sickies.

It seems like she’s been battling a cold every month or so since November of last year!

It also always seems like she just get can’t get a simple cold. 

They always follow this pattern.  She gets super congested, then she coughs.  The cough may or may not lead to asthma symptoms.  She may or may not end up with an ear infection.

It’s only March and I’ve taken so many days off to be “nurse mommy.” 

She needs to live in a bubble..

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One of the main reasons I wanted to purchase a Kitchen Aid was to learn how to make French Macarons.

I looked to the internet for some recipe suggestions and came across this recipe:

Basic French Macaron

This was my very first time using the Kitchen Aid, my first time working with egg whites to make a meringue, my first time using a piping bag.. you see my point..

So I followed the directions and made the first batch..

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These were small.  They were bigger than a quarter, but not as big as some that I have seen in bakeries.   They took the shape of a macaron.  That’s an accomplishment.  I was so happy that they LOOK like a macaron.

I tasted a cookie without the filling and knew I failed.  The texture was all wrong.  It stuck to my teeth.  It felt like it was overcooked.  It almost had the feeling of sticky caramel, not the milky creamy caramel, the over sticky, almost-hard caramel.  Also, this recipe is just way too sweet. 

I tried to salvage it by smearing some Biscoff cookie spread in between two pieces.

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Doesn’t it totally look like the real thing?  Too bad it didn’t taste like it.

I had some left over batter, so I tried to make them bigger and bake them for a shorter amount of time.

They came out like this:

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They came out so much better.  They weren’t as brown, and the texture was more similar to the macarons I’ve had from the professionals.  Because it was from the same batter, the taste was still way too sweet.

A few things thoughts:

1.  When adding the granulated sugar, I really need to add it slowly.  While I followed the directions stating to add the sugar to the whites “one tablespoon at a time,” I didn’t wait for the sugar to dissolve between tablespoons.

2.  I may have possibly over beat the egg whites.  Internet research told me that over beaten egg whites become lumpy.  I had lumpy egg whites. 

3.  I wonder if cut the confectioners sugar and add more almond meal if it will cut down on the sweetness.  I wonder what more almond meal will do to the texture. 

4.  I need to find the perfect baking time.  I haven’t baked much since I’ve moved into the apartment about 3 1/2 years ago, so I’m still trying figure out my ovens quirks and preferences. 

5.  I don’t have a sifter, but the package of almond meal said “extra fine.”  I figured I didn’t need to sift it.  Maybe I need to.

That’s all I can think of at the moment.

Do you have any tips and tricks to perfecting French macarons?  Leave a comment below!

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Saturday was M’s very first Gymboree class.  She was signed up for a free trial class in Play & Learn 6.

To read more about my huge flub on trying to get M into the correct age ranged class, click here.

We arrived to the class 10 minutes before it started.  In the ten minutes, M had time to get acquainted with the play area.  It really didn’t take her very long before she was running around and having a great time sliding and climbing, running and jumping.

She was definitely in her element.

Once class started, I brought M into the middle of the floor mat.  It was easy for her to refocus on what was going on.  I was a little nervous that she would rather play than follow the teacher, but she did really well. 

She followed along with the class.  She followed directions.  She did what she was told.  She listened and played.

There were times where she would wander off and want to play, but I would just gently guide her back and refocus her attention on class participation. 

The class was very fast paced.  They would do one activity, then the teacher would blow a whistle or ring a bell to indicate a change of activity.  M caught on pretty quickly with that concept.  She would play until the teacher would make a sound.  When M heard the sound, she’d stop what she was doing and look at the teacher. 

It was great.  M had so much fun and I really think this is going to be good for her.  She’s more exposed to kids her age and she will start to learn about structure and following directions and listening to a teacher. 

I regret not taking her sooner, but I’m glad she’s having the opportunity to do it now. 

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So, I purchased a Kitchen Aid this past weekend.  It was such a bargain!

I purchased the Kitchen Aid Artisan Model in Silver.  It has a glass bowl, which I really love!

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It was an awesome deal! 

Hubby and I went to Bed, Bath, and Beyond to purchase it with our 20% coupon.  When we arrived there, they only had displays out on the floor and no boxed mixers.  We asked an associate if they had any in the back, and he told us that what ever was out on the floor is what they had.  He went to check on the availability in other stores and he found out that they were no longer going to carry the model, nor are Kitchen Aid producing the model. 

Our only option was to purchase the display mixer at a 10% discount.  I made sure that the 20% coupon applies to the purchase and he said it did. 

SOLD!

Not only did we get that extra discount, we also get a mail-in rebate of $30!

This was definitely a great bargain!

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M has been obsessed with Play Doh for awhile.  Why haven’t I posted a product review yet?  In any case, here we go!


Play-Doh Sweet Shoppe Ice Cream Cone Container Craft Kit

I bought M this basic set to get her started.  It came with one can of Play Doh Plus and two cans of regular Play Doh.  The accessories are two small ice cream cones, a spoon and an ice cream scoop, and an extruder that looks like a syringe.  The base of the main container contains a lot of different molds that look like ice cream toppings and candies.

From the start, M loved it.  She loved to put Play Doh through the extruder and make “noodles.”  She loved to fill in the ice cream cones.

From a mommy’s perspective, it’s great.  It’s a great way to keep M busy for an hour, sometimes longer!  It’s much better than having her time occupied with WATCHING Play Doh videos on Youtube.  I’d rather that she actually PLAY with the Play Doh.  

I do have a few issues with Play Doh. 
– It smells.  Play Doh has a distinct smell that isn’t super pleasant.  I did play with Play Doh in the past, so opening a fresh can of it does smell like my childhood, but it still stinks.  The smell doesn’t linger, nor does it fill up the whole room.  It just smells. 
– It sticks.  We have carpet in our apartment.  We have to layout a plastic trash bag underneath her play table.  If the Play Doh gets on the carpet, and someone steps on it, then it’s stuck.  It’s pretty much the same affect when Play Doh gets on clothes and gets pressed into it.  I’m sure there are methods of removing playdoh, I’ll have to do my research.
– It sticks on hands.  I’ve noticed that the Play Doh sticks onto M’s hands.  By the time she’s done playing with it, she’s got a thin layer of stuck Play Doh residue on her fingers.  This isn’t the greatest since M is still a thumb sucker.  I have to make sure that there is no Play Doh residue on her thumb when she’s done.  If I don’t, she’ll be ingesting it due to her thumb sucking.  I know Play Doh is non-toxic, but the idea of her ingesting it is disturbing. 

Overall, I love PlayDoh.  I’ve always loved it as a kid, and I’m so happy that M loves it as much as I did. 

Before I purchased the actual Play Doh, I researched some homemade versions and made them.  I wanted to test out the interest factor without spending the money.  I also wanted to see if she was ready to play with it without putting it in her mouth.  There are tons of homemade play doh recipes on line.  All you have to do is pick one to try it out!

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