Friday, September 23, 2011

Little Lovin Bento

Just a little lovin' for my kindergarten kiddos, inspired by a trip to the local farmer's market.

This box includes:
A collection of small heirloom tomatoes,
fresh strawberries,
frozen green grapes
carrots carved into heart shapes
romaine lettuce
heart shaped PB&J

That's right, this box contains peanut butter!  New school, new rules.  The kids are happy about the change.
Everything in the boxes was eaten except for half of one of the pieces of romaine.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Snail Bento, or Escargo-to

My kid started Kindergarten and already she has come to me with one of those I-knew-the-other-kids-were-going-to-be-a-bad-influence-on-you-questions, "Mom, can you get this thing that is in the grocery store near the salami and it has cheese and crackers and it is in a box..."
"Are you talking about a Lunchable?!"  "Yes!," she says,"Get me that!"

I made snails instead.
May my children forgive me.

These bento include one Turkey and Cheese Sandwich as a snail body
a Vanilla Wafer for a head, detailed with sparkly green icing
Carrot antennae, also detailed with icing
Lettuce as a meadow background
Grapes as the mossy floor
Carrots topped with Raspberries make the mushrooms on which the snail likes to snack

Saturday, September 10, 2011

The Bar of Cleveland

The other day, my husband and I went to Solly's Deli to celebrate a milestone.  It was the first day of Kindergarten for my sweet twins.  To celebrate I tried to order a "Cleveland Bar" for dessert, as mentioned in the post Day of Atonement, Night of Plenty, and to my chagrin (falls) they no longer carry them!  Cost cutting they say.  Cleveland Bars, or as we say in Cleveland, Coconut Bars, are why I go to Solly's.  I have to say that they are clearly going downhill.  Our Turkey Pastrami Reuben had only Turkey, not Pastrami-ed Turkey.  Our fries were not curly or skinny, but plain old Steak Fries.  I am pretty sure I was drinking Diet Pepsi, not Diet Coke.  Why should I go back?  And furthermore, where am I to find Coconut Bars!?
I needed a fix so I did what any self sufficient Cleavlander would do... I made them myself.
I found a guide at Rosa Raskin's Cooking Blog, Precious Cooking.  Here is a link to her fabulous post: Precious Cooking, Coconut Bars

Turns out, coconut bars are surprisingly simple.
You make a vanilla or yellow cake (box variety is fine), cut them into squares,
Roll the bars into slightly watered down Hershey's Syrup, and then roll them in coconut.

The hardest part is keeping the outer coconut from getting "dirty" from the chocolate sauce as they are rolled.

Here is the recipe:
For the Cake I used a modified Vanilla Cupcake recipe from the Hello, Cupcake! recipe book.

2 1/2 Cups All Purpose Flour
2 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 tsp Salt
1/2 Cup Milk
1/2 Cup Vegetable Oil
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
1 Stick (8 TBSP) Unsalted Butter, softened
1 Cup Sugar
3 Large Eggs

Let eggs and butter sit out to warm up a bit before you begin.
Preheat Oven to 350°.
Spray Oil  (Pam) or Butter the bottom of two 8" Square baking dishes, then coat lightly with flour.
Whisk together Flour, Baking Powder, Baking Soda, and Salt in a medium bowl.
Combine the Milk, Oil, and Vanilla Extract in a large cup or small bowl.
In another medium sized bowl or in a mixer bowl, with an electric mixer set to medium, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
Add the Eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture alternatively with the milk mixture in batches, beginning and ending with the flour mixture and beating until just blended.
Split the batter among the cake pans and smooth down with a rubber cake spatula.
Bake 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
Remove the cake from the pans to cool completely on a wire rack.

To finish as Coconut Bars:
In small glass bowl or larger Pyrex measuring cup,
mix 1 1/2 cups - 2 cups of Hershey's Syrup with a few Tablespoons of Water.

On a plate, spread out shredded coconut.

With one hand (and a fork) dip the cake bars in the chocolate mix.
With the other hand, roll the coated cake bars in the coconut trying to keep the coconut clean.

Place on a plate or platter, rinse hands if needed and repeat until the bars are done.

I found it good to add clean coconut as I went and also noticed that the chocolate sauce got cake debris towards the end, so splitting the chocolate sauce batch might also be a good idea.

Make them now and enjoy your taste of Cleveland!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Cake Surprise

This is not a sad story, although, by the look of the picture above it should be.  I have a particularly good brioche recipe that I can make in my breadmaker.  It is light and slightly sweet with the texture of a fresh challah.  My kids love this rich white bread.  Unfortunately, I learned about one thing that can destroy a particularly good breadmaker brioche recipe; a pan or paddle that is not seated properly. When the paddle is not spinning properly, the ingredients do not mix well.  After digging through about two inches of flour at the bottom of the bread pan, I discovered what was left of my brioche. So, what do you get when you take half of the flour out of your brioche? 

Cake.  Surprise!  See, I told you it wasn't a sad story.  If there was a bit of lemon in the recipe, it would have been a perfect lemon cake, moist and buttery, very sweet.  I may try to make a cake in the breadmaker one day, but I have enough cake.  For now I want to try that brioche again.

Here is the Recipe for the bread.  You can try less flour for the cake if you want to recreate my accidental cake.

Breadmaker Brioche

3 1/4 Cups of All Purpose Flour
1/3 Cup of Sugar
1 tsp Salt
3 Large Eggs
1 Stick of Unsalted Butter - Melted and Cooled
1/2 Cup Water
1 TBSP Yeast

Add these ingredients to the breadmaker.  Mine works Dry ingredients first, but some machines use the wet ingredients first.  Make sure the paddle and pan are well seated in the breadmaker.  Set to Basic or White Bread and push start.  Hopefully you will get brioche, but if not, enjoy your cake.

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