Thursday, May 29, 2008

Monkey Math, Monkey Bread, Monkey Brain?

Since Hubs bought me that cool ceramic monkey bread mold from Williams Sonoma for Mother's Day recently, I have been using it as an excuse to make more monkey bread. It was for the kids, you know... but who am I kidding?

And it has been lots of fun making it plus a counting lesson for the kids as they roll the cut-up dough into little balls and counted up to 50 while coating and dropping them into the greased mold. Monkey math is what I call it.

The last time Hubs asked me where did the name Monkey Bread came from, I looked it up and here was wikipedia's take on the name monkey bread.

In addition, this was the explanation that came with the mold. Some stories claim the bread is named for its appearance, which resembles monkey puzzle tree or a playful group of monkeys jumbled together. Another theory speculates that the name describes how bakes have to monkey around with the dough.

Or if you live next door to me, you probably heard Hubs and the kids calling it MONKEY BRAINS!

After leaving my trusty bread machine to make the dough for about an hour, I took it out and flattened into a square-ish shape on the greased granite counter. Using a large pizza cutter, I divided it into sections as instructed on the recipe.
With the kids' help, we rolled the dough into round balls, dipped them in melted butter (Mmmm..) and into another bowl of sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and my own special added ingredient...oats. Okay, so I was trying to justify this carb intake, and oats are good for us, right?
Then we added more butter, the rest of the sugar and cinnamon mixture (plus oats), stirred it over the stove til the sugar is melted and everything turns to a gooey, sweet-smelling mixture. Pour it over the dough, cover it and let it rise for about 40 mins. Then into the oven for 40 mins and serve it warm or at room temperature.

After the kids' woke up from their naps, it was monkey bread time. They counted and had 3 pieces each. With milk of course. And you really don't need to know how many I had, do you?

Used the recipe that came with the mold.
2 Tbs unsalted butter, softened
For the Dough
3/4 cup (180ml) WARM MILK (about 110F/43C)
1/2 cup (125ml) WARM WATER (about 110F/43C)
2 Tbs unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup (60g) granulated sugar
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 package rapid-rise yeast
3 1/4 cups Unbleached All-Purpose Flour plus more for dusting
3/4 cup water
2 teaspoons salt

Sugar Coating
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 Tbs ground cinnamon
8 Tbs unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cup oats (my addition)

4 Tbs (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1 Tbs water

Have the ingredients at room temperature. Combine the dough ingredients, and mix and knead them until you have a soft, sticky dough. Allow the dough to rise, covered, for 2 1/2 to 4 hours, or until it's puffy. I used the bread machine to mix the dough.

Cut the dough into 1" to 2" pieces, and roll into balls. Roll the balls in the melted butter and then into the topping. Place in the greased mold.

To make the glaze: After coating all the balls, pour the remaining topping mixture into a small pot with the melted butter. Wisk till the sugar is melted. Pour over the dough balls, covering them well. Cover the pan, and let the bread rise until it's quite puffy, about 30-45 mins.

Bake the bread in a preheated 350°F oven for 20 minutes. Cover the mold loosely with foil (to prevent over browning) and bake for another 25-35 mins. Let the bread cool in the mold for 10 minutes. Invert the mold onto a serving platter, and let it rest for 10 minutes to allow the glaze to drizzle down over the bread. Remove the mold and serve warm. Serves 8.

My gf LCOM also made monkey bread, and this is another version. Enjoy the monkey bread/pull-apart bread/monkey brains/or whatever!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Happy Memorial Weekend

When I asked Hubs what he wanted for dinner today, he said beer brats, buffalo franks, and the kids wanted corn dogs. So, I had to have all three and a soft hoagie bun, of course!

And this turned out to be a beautiful weekend we are having compared to the six funnel clouds that were spotted and the tornado that came through the northern part of our state. We had hail, strong winds and thunderstorm all day, and I'm surprised that my tomato plants survived through that day.That tornado that came through caused many to loose homes and property. Our community is reaching out to those in need, and many church members are lending a helping hand as well...

We spend part of our Memorial weekend up in Estes Park, and enjoyed the lake up there with many who had the same idea in mind. This little mountain town was packed to the rim with cars and people came from everywhere for the annual art and antique show. We stopped by the lake where many were fishing and camping, and were treated with several elks who wandered into the lake for a refreshing cold drink.

We stopped for our caramel apple treat and browsed through some shops before heading down the mountain. That's when we spotted another herd of elk in between the trees. These were big and they ran away seconds after I took this picture. I really ought to use a zoom lens next time.I wish our veterans and everyone a happy memorial day!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Humor Me

My MIL send me this and made me laugh. I did change the title so as not to offend some of my friends.

Silly Cookbook

It's fun to cook for Tom. Today I made angel food cake. The recipe said
beat 12 eggs separately. The neighbors were nice enough to loan me some
extra bowls.

Tom wanted fruit salad for supper. The recipe said serve without
So I didn't dress. What a surprise when Tom brought a friend home for

A good day for rice. The recipe said wash thoroughly before steaming the
rice. It seemed kind of silly but I took a bath anyway. I can't say it
improved the rice any.

Today Tom asked for salad again I tried a new recipe. It said prepare
ingredients; lay on a bed of lettuce one hour before serving. Tom asked me
why I was rolling around in the garden.

I found an easy recipe for cookies. It said put the ingredients in a
bowl and beat it. There must have been something wrong with this recipe. When I
got back, everything was the same as when I left.

Tom did the shopping today and brought home a chicken. He asked me to
dress it for Sunday. I don't have any clothes that fit it, and for some
reason Tom keeps counting to ten.

Tom's folks came to dinner. I wanted to serve roast but all I had was
hamburger Suddenly I had a flash of genius. I put the hamburger in the
oven and set the controls for roast. It still came out hamburger, much to my

GOOD NIGHT DEAR DIARY. This has been a very exciting week! I am eager for
tomorrow to come so I can try out a new recipe on Tom. If I can talk Tom
into buying a bigger oven, I would like to surprise him with a chocolate

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Going, Going, Going

It's coming to the last week of school before this school year ends, and for the summer holidays to begin. Although we didn't start the kids til late October because they were wait-listed and the school finally had openings after a couple of kids were transferred when their parents moved to another part of the country, and the fact that I took them out of school for several weeks and flew 10,000 miles to the other side of planet earth, I am very grateful to their teacher and teacher's aid for all the work they've done to provide my kids a safe and happy learning environment for their first exposure to a school set-up. My kids love school, and they wait up everyday asking if there will be school that day. They made many friends and had a blast everytime they attended class. And I really enjoyed volunteering these past months, and have learned a lot of valuable skills about managing chaos in a preschool environment filled with youthful energetic 3-year-olds.

Now, onward to summer activities and hopefully more time for my other hobby in my kitchen...

Monday, May 19, 2008

Fun weekend at a Foodie's House Party

We had a memorable ending to a fun weekend at J&M's place on a beautiful, warm Sunday afternoon where we sampled a new (to us) bottle of white wine, and learned a wee bit about bee-keeping (J's new hobby), new organic markets in the area, kids' summer activities and made some new friends while our kids squealed with delight as they played with two 12-year-olds and a 7-year-old who were all around the 5-acre backyard. My kids also played with their gentle 10-year old retriever, chased their poor cat around the front yard, waved at a fox that went trotting across the field a short distance away and ride around on their friends' old barbie jeep.

We also had the pleasure of tasting a superb dinner of BBQ pork ribs and pork shoulder that J started on his impressive Weber Ranch Kettle grill (he said that size doesn't matter, but that was a great looking charcoal grill!) May even convince me to give up the convenience of my gas grill for charcoal. But maybe not. He started bbq-ing since 7 am that morning, and had to replace the coals about every hour til for about ten hours. And the results were impressive. The meat was beautifully seasoned with a dry rub and was fell off the bone. J also had a tangy, spicy homemade sauce that was perfect with it. Not forgetting the wonderful honey cornbread baked in an cast-iron skillet, home-made BBQ beans (I saw the chunk of pork knuckle that was cooking in it and gave it such depth and flavor), and the wonderful coleslaw that had just enough ingredients in it to let the cabbage shine through.

While we were enjoying our lovely meal, J&M had a call from a friend that there were a swamp of bees on the ground about 2 blocks away from their house. A very excited J jumped into his car and went to check it out. Within minutes he was back and was suited up in his bee-keeper outfit along with T while Hubs took my camera and followed them to the site. Free bees for bee-keepers are apparently a very exciting event! Before we headed home, I drove over to the site and the bees were getting into the box as the temperature was dropping in the evening.

And what did I do? After spending the whole Saturday moping around with a gnawing sinus headache from the high pressure blowing into the state, and running the kids around town for a long-promised MacDonald's breakfast and play area trip, driving across four towns to Hub's favorite dry-cleaner, taking the kids to their favorite merry-go-round ride (4 times), shopping for summer clothes for Hub's, making a Costco run, and stopping for lunch at Chick Fillet where the kids dump out more energy at that play area too... I decided that I was going to bring to this party a simple, rich, decadent 7-layer chocolate cake filled with creamy Bavarian icing, covered with a thin layer of chocolate and topped with a chocolate covered strawberry. That was a perfect ending to the meal, and totally bakery-made from a wonderful baker that was 3 towns away on the other direction from the party. Of course we couldn't show up without some Cold Stone Creamery Vanilla Ice Cream to go with it!

Monday, May 12, 2008

All is Well...

What a weekend! Called mom long-distance, had my in-laws over for the weekend, and celebrated Mother's Day last Saturday with some great motherly friends. Or was it friendly mothers? It was a fun group with Pam and Paul, Pat, Roberto, Rob, Kelsey, Nathan and MIL helped me prepared a simple meal of BBQ burgers and brats with lots of side salads to go with them. I was busy with the kids, and Pam helped entertain them on the swings for awhile too. Thanks Pam! Wished I had more friends over, but some couldn't make this time.As for Hubs previous comment, he did make it up with flowers, gifts and cards. Thank heaven! I had flowers from Hubs, Rob and Roberto (thanks guys!) and some fun baking stuff and a heart shaped waffle maker from Hubs. There is one other gift which I will not elaborate upon at this point. Also received a very sweet card from MIL. All's well that end's well...

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mother's Day Award

Thank you Janice Ng for your lovely award. I have been tardy with my post lately, and have finally got around to receive this one.Am passing this out to all my mommy bloggers out there (you know who you are!)

Happy Mother's Day! :)

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Just so you know.....

Wanted to write this down while it's still on my mind...

I asked Hubs what he's getting me for Mother's Day....

and he replied "You're not my mother."



Life have caught up with me recently, and I am guilty of neglecting my little blog here. But I hope to catch up with some yummy post when school gets out and the summer holiday begins (crossing fingers!)

I thank you all for popping over here regularly to check on me, and I promise to be more proactive on blogging soon. Meantime, here's wishing everyone a very HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY! :)

Found some beautiful artichokes recently at the farmer's market, and this is what I made.....Steamed artichokes with salsa verde
1/4 teaspoon fennel seeds
1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley leaves
1 tablespoons drained capers, rinsed
2 tablespoons chopped shallot
1 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
2/3 tablespoons fresh tarragon leaves
1 tsp asian fish sauce or 1/2 anchovy
Pinch of dried crushed red pepper
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoons whipping cream (omitted)
1 teaspoons Sherry wine vinegar

2 medium globe artichokes
1/4 lemon sliced in 2

Heat small skillet over medium heat. Add fennel seeds and toast until aromatic and beginning to darken, about 2 minutes. Transfer seeds to processor. Add parsley, capers, shallot, garlic, tarragon, fish sauce or anchovy, and crushed red pepper to processor. In a small food processor, puree until coarse paste forms, scraping down sides occasionally. Transfer to medium bowl. Whisk in oil, cream, and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper.

DO AHEAD Salsa verde can be made 2 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature.

Lay 1 artichoke on its side and cut off top third; cut off stem at base of artichoke. Using scissors, cut top 1/2 inch off each remaining leaf. Rub all cut surfaces with lemon, squeezing slightly to release juice. Repeat with remaining artichoke.

Place rack on bottom of large pot. Add enough water just to touch rack. Bring to boil. Place artichokes on rack in pot. Reduce heat to medium, cover, and steam artichokes until tender, adding more water if necessary, about 30 minutes.

Transfer each artichoke to plate. Cool for about 10 minutes. Divide salsa verde among 2 small bowls and serve alongside artichokes.

Recipe adapted from Molly Stevens in Bon Appetit magazine.