Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Bakin' with the Bean

I'm not quite sure at this point what day it is.  Between 'losing' Monday to the power outage and then realizing there is no school for the Bean tomorrow or either one of them on Friday I feel like this week is being squished!  I didn't have any grand plans on the agenda for today (other than my PTA meeting tonight) and I'm glad that it worked the way it did.

After getting Noah off to school this morning the Bean and I went out and ran lots of odds and ends errands.  It was quite the grab bag; I was on a mission to find some of the supplies I need for a project I am working on for Hawaii week, I wanted to grab the eggs that we are going to dye on either Friday or Saturday, my wonderful sis Shell had told me the Dots stores were all going out of business and I wanted to pop into the one nearby and see if I could snag any deals, we needed to make a stop at the Pepperidge Farm store for goldfish...  All those little things that I could do here and there when I get 15 or 20 minutes sometimes (when, haha, I mean IF) but it was nice to just get them all done and hang out with the Bean at the same time.  We had TONS of success (more than I was expecting on a few things) and then headed back here to grab a snack and start on some Kid Kitchen time.

Kayla is getting to be quite proficient in the kitchen.  I am pleased as punch to tell you that she made the majority of the Iowa City Oatmeal Cookie completely on her own.  Well, as much as you could expect of a four year old.  She's moved on to working the big mixer (a huge thing for this Mama who is a little possessive of her favorite kitchen toy) and even scooping and dropping cookies on her own (with a little assistance and 'clean-up' of the drop cookies).  As we were getting ready to stick them in the oven she said "Mama, this is one of my favorite things to do with you."  I melted and agreed that it was one of my favorite things to do with her, too.

As for the cookies themselves, one of the original mills that makes up what is now the Quaker Oats Company is located outside of Cedar Rapids, Iowa so I knew I wanted to get in at least one oat laden recipe this week.  These cookies seemed like the perfect thing for the Bean and I to do together and they turned out super yummy!  We halved the recipe and I almost wish I hadn't!  I liked that the recipe included whole wheat flour as it gave the cookie a slightly different taste than a 'regular' oatmeal cookie.  And I didn't have any grape nuts on hand so we swapped it out for some crunched up raisin bran which gave it even more texture and crunch.  We'll be holding on to this one.

While the cookies baked, to show her how much I appreciated her help running errands and the excellent job she had done on the cookies, I gave the Bean a mani/pedi while we listened to the "Frozen" soundtrack.  Honestly, she's only seen the movie now twice but she knows half the lyrics to most of the songs!  I'm thinking I may need to break down and actually buy the movie...  But she also REALLY wants to see the new Tinkerbell movie (which is of course ONLY on DVD) so we'll have to see.  I hear the Easter Bunny is coming this weekend...

While the Bean munched on lunch I started my prep work on tonight's dinner.    My research on Iowa turned up a strong dutch heritage, especially around Pella, Iowa and one food kept coming up over and over again - the Runza.  I, admittedly, hadn't heard of it before but I read the recipe once and my Polish brain screamed - it's like a pierogi with bread!  Well, maybe not exactly.  9 times out of 10 I make my pierogi with a potato based filling though you can honestly put ANYTHING in them.  (In Polish pierogi means "little pocket") so the beef and cabbage mixture of the runza wasn't all that far off.  So I decided to give them a go!

I loosely followed this Runzas recipe, though I will admit to 1) adding garlic, Worcestershire, a dash of onion powder to the meat mixture 2) making the meat mixture, letting it cool and then stirring in the cheese, which I did half swiss and half mozzerella after reading some reviews and 3) opting not to use the frozen bread but pre-made biscuits (a venial sin around my house, I know...) that I rolled very thing and then folded into the rock like shape.  I read a lot of different 'recipes' and kind of picked and chose what I liked best to come up with my own runzas.  (These are also apparently very popular in Nebraska but they are baked in a large rectangle, kind of made me think of like a calzone, so we might be trying these again in a few months).  The concensus here tonight was an overwhelming thumbs up.  Think these would also freeze up really well so make that two recipes from today I'll be holding on to!  To go with it I made Corn and Broccoli in Cheese Sauce to remind everyone how important corn is to Iowa.  As if they could forget :-p

(Kristi's side note - only read if you're here for the food ;-)  It was my original intention (before we lost power) to make the Iowa Cookies yesterday and make Jaarsma's Dutch Letters today to go with the Dutch theme.  These are from a well-known bakery in Pella and I thought they'd be fun for the Bean and I to do together.  But something had to give and I scrapped it.  Might be worth looking at again, though.  Also, last night's sandwiches were supposed to be on Monday and I was going to make Apple Jack Pork Chops from Des Moines  last night.  I'm going to hold on to both of these and maybe we'll get back to them eventually.  Like next year ;-) )

Tonight while I headed off to PTA (I can't believe there's only one more meeting this year!) Grant and the kids hung out and worked on the "We've Been There" state.  Grant and I are the only Gatchel's who can claim to have been to Iowa (Shout out to Sean Fagan for deciding one night when we lived in Peoria that we needed to drive there and cross the Mississippi simply to say that we'd been there!).  Noah loved doing Iowa, though, as it was only four letters he had to search out and he told Grant "Easiest State Ever." apparently.  They never fail to crack me up...

Yesterday's snow is nearly completely melted, the temperatures are supposed to be even warmer tomorrow and I get to go to MOPS - it's going to be a great Thursday.  Plus we're having more food with corn (Iowa chicken corn chowder), trying out some red delicious applesauce and doing a corn related project tomorrow night.  Plus the kids are anxious to do their state coloring page so guess we'll try to squeeze that in, too.  Sounds like another full day.  So until then...

Iowa Fun Fact of the Day:  Iowa is the only state name that starts with two vowels.

Trying some selfies with my fave Little Miss

This one's much better

Preparing ingredients

She's such a pro

Giving it a good stir

Scooping out the dough

She says "plop" every time she drops one, I love it

She was super proud, as was this Mama

Making the filling for my runzas

Cookies out of the oven

Mani/Pedi time!

Runzas ready for the oven

Mikayla at work while I was this afternoon

Broccoli and Corn Casserole

Mmmm, runzas!

Two cute kids (and Iowa)

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