OPAL Mom Recipes: Hot Apple Pie

When I bake for my family, I always source my favorite chefs to ensure that the quality of my baked items are just right. Yesterday, I baked apple pie from scratch and it was a hit.

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These are the recipes I used:

Following is a basic pie dough recipe from Julia Child, followed by different apple pie recipes.

BASIC PIE DOUGH — PÂTE BRISÉE FINE

From “The Way to Cook” by Julia Child

For two 9-inch tart shells or a 14- by 4½ inch rectangular crust.

Ingredients

1½ cups all-purpose flour, preferably unbleached (scooped and leveled)

½ cup plain bleached cake flour

1 teaspoon salt (or, for dessert tarts, ¼ teaspoon salt and 2 tablespoons sugar)

6 ounces (1½ sticks) chilled unsalted butter, quartered lengthwise and diced

¼ cup (2 ounces) chilled vegetable shortening

½ cup ice water, plus droplets more, if needed

– Special equipment suggested: A food processor with steel blade

Directions

1 Blending flour and butter. Have all the ingredients measured out and ready to use. Put the flour, salt (or salt and sugar) and diced butter in the container of the processor and pulse (on-off half-second clicks) 5 or 6 times to break up the butter roughly. Add the shortening, turn on the machine, and immediately pour in the ½ cup of ice water, then pulse 2 or 3 times. Remove the cover and feel the dough — it should look like a bunch of small lumps, and will just hold together in a mass when you press a handful together. (It’s important not to overmix; it should not mass on the blade of the machine.) If too dry, pulse in droplets more water. From now on, work rapidly to keep the dough cold and manageable.

2 Final Blending. Turn the dough out onto your work surface; press it into a rough mass. For the final blending, rapidly and roughly, with the heel (not the palm) of your hand, push egg-size clumps of dough out in front of you in a 6-inch smear.

3 Resting and Chilling. Form the dough into a cake — it should be fairly smooth and pliable. Wrap in plastic, slide it into a plastic bag, and refrigerate. Freshly made dough should chill 2 hours at least, allowing the flour particles to absorb the liquid, as well as to firm the butter and relax the gluten.

MEDINA APPLE PIE

From Love Creek Orchards in Medina, http://www.lovecreekorchards.com

Ingredients

6 -8 tart Texas apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced (approx. 6 cups)

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 cup sugar

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon salt

Pastry for 2 (9-inch) deep-dish pie crusts

Butter

Sugar

Directions

1 Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2 Sprinkle apples with lemon juice. Combine sugar, flour, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Mix with apples.

3 Line 9-inch pie pan with pastry. Fill with apple mixture and dot with butter. Put on top crust, cutting slits for the steam to escape. Seal edges. Sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 50 minutes. Serve warm.

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Toddler Tantrum at the RMV

The terrible two’s were something that I didn’t really experience before the birth of my 2nd child.  My first was docile, almost passive in nearly every interaction with either myself or other children.  He was just a sweet kid and still is to this day at 6 years old.  On the other hand, my 18 month old daughter has been experiencing tantrums since she was 1 year old.  They started out as simple cries.  Then they progressed into screams.  And now…they are full blown stomping tantrums, fully equipped with flailing, writhing, and banging her head into the ground.  There are moments where I just look at her red screaming face and wonder, “What the HELL is going on here?!”

Well today was one of those days.  I went to the RMV today to get new license plates for my car and per the usual RMV visit, had to wait at least an hour before i was seen.  With the newborn in tow, I brought the stroller for my daughter for an easier commute on foot from the parking garage to the RMV.  That first hour of waiting was surprisingly smooth.  She sweetly played next to me, watched Curious George on Netflix from my phone without smashing it on the ground, and even had her own dance party.  I was beginning to think this was going to be a piece of cake.  That is…until my number was called.

My husband was able to join me half way through my wait during a break in his work day, so when my number was called, it was time to put my daughter back in her stroller.  From that point, there was ear piercing screaming and growling coming from her that echoed down the sterile halls of the RMV.   At one point, an older woman came over and said, “GIRL, I’m a gramma!  I get it!  She don’t want her water.  She don’t want no milk.  Pick that child up!”  I blankly stared back at her with my newborn in the Ergo carrier as if to say, “Can’t you see my hands are full?”  Instead, I politely smiled back and turned my attention back to the attendant to try and finish up my business.

Three minutes later, I can see that the other attendants are getting frustrated.  Just as I’m turning to ask my husband to take her down the hall, the same woman screams across the office, “Can’t you give her a nuk-nuk or something?  There are people tryin’ to take tests in here!  Can you PLEASE take her to the waiting room or somethin’?”  Really professional lady.  I just side eyed my husband and off my daughter went, wailing as she was wheeled away down the hall.  That woman may have been a grandmother, but I’ll tell you what…she wasn’t of any help.  No mother is perfect and no strange woman is going to magically understand my daughter and her needs.  Aside from that, my daughter is a special breed.  She’s feisty.  She’s fiery.  And most of all…She’s a toddler.

When my daughter tantrums like that, the only thing that I can do is sit nearby and wait it out.  I make sure that I’m available for when she comes around and wants to be held.  But rest assured, she will not be picked up when she’s violently lashing out.  That only reinforces the behavior and makes it worse when she has a full vocabulary.  So to the lady skulking at kiosk 16 in the Boston RMV…back off.  This mama doesn’t adhere to advice from strangers.  And my daughter is way past the “nuk-nuk” stage.

My Traditional Cinnamon Bread Recipe Combines Two of My Favorite Chef’s Recipes

Last year, I decided that I wanted to begin a tradition of fall baking to kick off the string of holiday months each year.  Things started out simple with some pumpkin bread mix from trader joe’s to the more complicated homemade cinnamon bread.  Well, this year, I decided that I would do the same and my son remembered and wanted to participate.  So to set this tradition in stone, I went ahead and made the same things as last year, only with a new motive in mind – to remake the cinnamon bread and make it so that it would be in the family forever.  But it took some experimentation.

Last year, I made cinnamon bread that smelled great but tasted dry and bland.  So this year, I chose two new recipes from my favorite chefs and combined them to make a hybrid cinnamon bread that would hopefully be so great that my family couldn’t resist and would ask for it each year.  Well…it worked.  The dog even snuck a taste (ok he ate the whole thing) when I wasn’t looking.  Luckily, it was after everyone had a taste.

Before you begin, it’s important to note that the Cinnamon Nut Bread Recipe by Emeril Lagasse requires a prepared 11-ounce French Loaf Dough.  This is the equivalent of one found in the Pillsbury brand.  I’ve chosen to use the dough prepared in Julia Child’s French Bread Recipe and have shared her recipe up to the point necessary for a proper dough to form to use in Emeril’s Recipe.

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Here are the recipes I combined:

Julia Child’s French Bread (Dough Preparation Only)

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 1/4 teaspoons (1 packet) instant yeast
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water (120º – 130º)

Directions

  1. In the mixing bowl of a stand mixer using the flat beater, combine the yeast, 2 1/2 cups flour and salt. Mix on low for about 30 seconds.
  2. With the motor running on low, pour in the warm water. Continue mixing until a shaggy dough forms. Clean off beater and switch to the dough hook. Mix in the remaining cup of flour a little at a time, to make a soft dough, adding more or less flour as needed. Knead the dough for 5 minutes. The surface should be smooth and the dough will be soft and somewhat sticky.
  3. Turn the dough onto a kneading surface and let rest for 2 – 3 minutes while you wash and dry the bowl.
  4. Return the dough to the mixing bowl and let it rise at room temperature (about 75º) until 3 1/2 times its original volume. This will probably take about 3 hours.
  5. Deflate the dough and return it to the bowl. Let the dough rise at room temperature until not quite tripled in volume, about 1 1/2 – 2 hours.
  6. Meanwhile, prepare the rising surface: rub flour into canvas or linen towel placed on a baking sheet. (I used parchment paper.)

Cinnamon Nut Bread

By Emeril Lagasse

INGREDIENTS

  • 11-ounce French loaf (Use Julia Child Recipe without cooking)
  • Butter-flavored spray (I use real butter)
  • One-half cup walnuts
  • One-fourth cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cut the French bread dough in half lengthwise. Then cut each piece into ten slices for a total of 20 slices. Spray a Bundt pan with butter-flavored spray. Add 10 of the dough slices into the bottom of the pan; then spray the dough lightly with the butter-flavored spray. Place the walnuts, brown sugar, and cinnamon in a mini-food chopper and grind until all is finely chopped and blended. Sprinkle the top of the dough slices with the nut mixture, then top with the remaining dough slices. Spray the top lightly with butter-flavored spray. Bake for 30 minutes. When slightly cooled, turn the bread out onto platter. Pull the pieces apart for a tasty treat.

Weaning my daughter humbled me…but not in the way you think.

The weaning process has been solved. The past week has been filled with many attempts at the whole crying it out thing with my 18 month old daughter with many sleepless nights from my husband trying to talk her out of tantrums, soothe her by letting her sleep on his chest, etc. All this while I cared for the newborn in the other room, she would scream “mama” which at this stage, could be either one of us. Well I’m here to tell you that I’ve been humbled and touched after what happened tonight.

Tonight, I decided that I was going to do something different. My husband is weary and during this entire week, out levels of patience have waned. I couldn’t bear to think of waking one more morning like the angry bear I did this morning. So what was it that I did different? I let go…and I listened to her.

Instead of caring for the newborn first, I handed him to my husband to soothe and I decided to take a shot at soothing my daughter to sleep. I picked her up, and even though I anticipated a fight, I just decided to hold her. As she started to protest, I began rocking side to side. Eventually, she realized I wasn’t placing her in her crib to walk away, and she rested her head on my shoulder. Then, I began to sing. I sang “a Dream is a Wish” from Cinderella to start. This melted her down to putty as she snuggled in and nuzzled my neck.

After singing this through three times, I decide to place her in her crib. She began to cry for a second which I expected and in response kept singing. The minute I started singing, she flipped into child’s pose immediately which is what she does when she wants me to tickle her back to sleep. So, I kept singing. I went on to sing “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and on the third time through, she fell fast asleep.

I’m humbled by this because the entire day I focused on how this weaning process was a “battle” and how I was going to “win” this battle even if it killed me. What I realized was that it was far simpler than I was making it out to be. I was following all the recommended strategies, going against my heart and letting my child cry it out, and in turn not giving her what she really NEEDED. It wasn’t milk. It wasn’t television. It was her mama. I will never again follow a method of parenting that doesn’t agree with what’s in my heart. Ever again…

COLUMBUS DAY WEEKEND DEAL: Does Your Little One Still Love FROZEN? Get 60% OFF on all FROZEN Items This Weekend on Zulily!

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Making Halloween Fun

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During the day today, I took a trip to AC Moore to pick up a few decorations for Halloween to put up in the house. While I was in there, I found that there were many collections of Halloween crafts for about one dollar each. Usually, I do the craft thing with my oldest son around Christmas time, but looking at what was there, I decided to give it a whirl.

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I picked up a collection of wooden masks to color, felt crafts, and foam cut out crafts. What I thought would be simple decorations around the house ended up turning into my son’s show and tell project for tomorrow. My little toddler daughter even got into it by coloring one of the masks with crayon. We ended up spending an hour together after school working on these projects as a family. My oldest son and I were also able to finish his homework at the same time so we killed two birds with one stone.

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Most of the items that I purchased if not all were one dollar each and of good quality. Simple activities like this not only are fun to do, but they help create great memories in the process. I will most definitely be going back to pick up more projects for us to share in the holiday seasons to come.

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Have you heard of Crazy 8 Kid’s Clothing? I’m kinda hooked…

I was perusing online for affordable children’s clothing and happened to fall upon this company called Crazy 8.  The clothing is super cute and comes at the most affordable prices with shipping set at $5 everyday.  It seems that they are having a 30% off sale and a $9.99 jean sale.  I just might start my Christmas shopping now!

My favorites are shown below along with their pricing.  I highly recommend checking out this site!crazy 8

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Leopard Print Hoodie:

$20.92

Peace Sign Tee:

 $10.42

Crazy Soft Skinny Jean:

$17.42

Critter Sweater Beanie

$9.02

Be Awesome Scarf

$10.42

Be Awesome Gloves

$9.02

Metallic Boots

$20.92