Monday, January 15, 2018

Homemade Bagels

One of my favorite things in the world is a good bagel.  I eat one every day for lunch.  Even when I was counting carbs (that's another post) I fit in a bagel every day.

I grew up in the "tri-state area" of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.  Pizza, bagels and indulgences such as Italian butter cookies are second to none. Bagels are plump and chewy, the butter cookies melt in your mouth and the pizza is an art form that has not been mastered here in central Pennsylvania.

Since moving to Pennsylvania, I've never found the kind of bagels that are plump, chewy and fill your guts with dough. My husband travels for work and nothing makes my heart sing like when he brings me bagels from New Jersey. There are establishments that claim to make a New York bagel, and while they are worth buying, they always fall short.

Don't sell me a 3.5 ounce bagel. If that sucker isn't at least 5 ounces I'm not happy. 

Last year I decided to make my own bagels, because I was tired of constantly searching for bagels that fit the bill.  If you have made breads and worked with yeast, bagel making is not that difficult.  I was pleasantly surprised how fast I was able to make six bagels I actually looked forward to toasting and slathering with butter. 

This recipe I found on all recipes, and I made some changes. You don't need to buy anything fancy, just bread flour if you don't have it.  And yeast of course. 

I use my standing mixer to knead the dough, no need for a bread machine.  I suppose you could use a bread machine, but these come out great with the standing mixer method. 

For the bagels:

1 package instant yeast
1 1/4 cups warm water
4 cups bread flour
1/4 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
4 quarts water (for boiling)
2 tablespoons honey (optional)
1 lightly whisked egg (optional)
Toppings such as poppyseed, sesame seeds, cinnamon sugar, etc

In a small bowl, pour the 1 1/4 cups warm water, yeast and sugar.  Let sit about 3-5 minutes, The yeast should froth and puff - this will show you it is working.

In bowl of standing mixer, add the remaining dry ingredients.  When yeast is ready, add to dry ingredients in mixer bowl.  Using hook attachment, knead dough about 10 minutes.  The dough should form a ball and "smack" off the sides of the mixer.  Let it keep kneeding - it will be loud but it will work.

Pick up the dough, spray the mixer bowl with nonstick spray or lightly oil.  Place dough back in and turn to coat.  Cover with plastic wrap and a clean kitchen towel.  Let rise in a warm place about one-two hours.  I turn my oven on, preheat to 350, turn it off and place bowl inside. This warm air helps the dough to rise nicely. Dough should puff up (I'm using this word a lot today) and double in size.

Punch dough down and let rise another 30 minutes.  Again, set in a warm place.

Boil 4 quarts water and if desired, add honey. This gives the bagels a tad of sweetness, and is not necessary.  While water is heating to boil, separate dough into 6-8 balls.  I do 6 because I like a big bagel.  You can make them smaller.  After rolling dough into a ball, push floured fingers through center and work to create a ring.  set bagels on counter to rest for about 10 minutes.

Line baking sheet with parchment paper.  Heat oven to 475.

Once water is boiling, add bagels two at a time.  Boil one minute each side. Place on parchment lined baking sheet.

If desired, brush bagels with egg.  I do this to add some color, and if I sprinkle poppyseed on top it helps the topping stick.

Bake bagels at 475 about 15 minutes until tops are just turning a nice golden color. You can turn off oven, and I have heard people cover the bagels with foil and leave in oven a few more minutes. I may try this next time, it is supposed to help with the chewy texture.

Eat immediately - or if you can resist - allow to cool and freeze.  Remember this is fresh bread without they won't keep longer than about two days.  I take one out of the freezer every morning.

Have a great week!

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Where I've Been

In the blink of an eye, your kids go from needing potty breaks and fruit snacks to needing money to spend as they rush out the door.

Seriously, that's how fast that happens.

I started this blog in 2009, I had a baby. She was a few months old.  I also had an 8 year old, a 6 year old and a 4 year old.  Life was busy with carseats and naptimes.  We did preschool runs and morning kindergarten.  I made dinner at night and breakfast every morning.  I usually passed out in front of the television with a bowl of ice cream watching Grey's Anatomy after all the munchkins were peacefully sleeping.

Then, every so often, one of them would wake up sick or with a bad dream and crawl into my bed.

I blinked.  My kids are now 16, 14, 12 and 8.  My oldest is getting his license.  Holy heck he's driving a car.  We're talking about college.  He's at practice after school every day.  He has a part time job. My fourteen year old is not far behind.  

Today my days seem short.  There was a time they seemed long, but that is forever gone.  I'm up early to work, I bring my two oldest to school.  After school (and work) starts a flurry of car rides, meals, homework and whatever else pops up.  Laundry is a never ending pile of misery.  Crumbs pepper my counters and floors.  

I did six drop offs/pick ups between 4 and 6pm yesterday. Thank God for leather minivan seats and XM radio. 

My life is full.  My kids are finding their way and learning who they are.  There is no greater enjoyment than the enjoyment I feel when I'm with my family.  It is truly a blessing to raise children.  They change you in just about every way imaginable.  

I'm not sure where to go with my blog or what to focus on, because so much of my blogs were about surviving those years when the kids were still wiping boogies.  And man those were some good years.  I could write about how to manage teen girls, how to manage your time, my favorite quick meals or how to just be happy...since that is one thing I manage to remain.  And it's such a great way to live. 

I hope you've all been well, I've sure missed mumbling and sharing parts of my life.  Understandably my kids aren't big on their lives being shared, so you've got me.  That will have to do. 

Happy Thursday, make it amazing. 

                                       Image result for happiness

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Suddenly, They're Teens

It's been a long while.  

You could say that working full time and raising a family is hard work.  It's wonderful, heart aching, soul filling work. I wake up and go to bed happy and content with what God has given me. It's a feeling that money can't buy, and I'm eternally grateful.

I started this blog when my kids were small.  They were in elementary and preschool.  I needed a way to speak my mind and gain some income.  I poured myself into learning how to build and navigate a blog.  I spent hours googling and teaching myself how to make this work.  Not only was it my outlet, it was my income.  People heard how much money I was making and thought "oh I'll start a blog too!"

I wanted to tell them, and sometimes I did, that it is HARD work.  You have to be driven to succeed and never quit because it requires time and patience.  

My blogs were about keeping my sanity, my recipes and my Disney knowledge and expertise.  These things were my specialty.  I had four young kids and so much to share.

I blinked my eyes and those babies are 16, 14, 11 and almost 8.  I don't know how it happened but it did.  I went from worrying about playdates and potty training to honor rolls and permit tests.  My goodness mamas, it goes FAST.

The past two years I've been evolving.  I've been learning to really balance being a mommy, being a wife and finding stuff I love again. It's kind of bizarre when you go from being tied down all the time because you can't leave your kids alone to literally leaving the house with "I'll be right back I'm going to the store."

You just leave.  It's crazy.  I remember lugging carseats and holding hands and packing bags with toys and snacks.  So much changes as your kids grow, it's hard to believe it happens but it does.

And it happens fast.

With every child, time went by more rapidly.  My days were more full and I was spread thinner and thinner.  I literally had days when I spoke to no one but my kids.  And that's okay.  I was at a place where my kids needed that from me.  They needed all of me and I gave it to them.

The strange part is learning to navigate the days when they don't need all of you.  They need rides and homework help and signatures, but they don't require constant attention.  You suddenly have time to go for a run because no one will choke on a Lego or munch on detergent pods.  Supervision is in the form of monitoring them without them being aware you are monitoring.  You are checking cell phones and back packs.  You are online tracking grades and assignments.  

It's different.  It's not better or worse, just different.  You go from parenting these little people to parenting big people who are finding themselves.  Suddenly you embarrass them and they can't believe how uncool you are.  No longer are they proud mommy is at school, trust me. They are finding their path while you rediscover your path.  They still need you so much but they don't know it many days.

They push you away and they pull you near.  The trouble is sometimes you can't even decipher which they are just have to pay real close attention.

Mamas, it's an adventure.  The problems get less frequent but they get bigger.  They go from poopy pants to fender benders and failing grades.  They go from kids who don't share to kids who are downright cruel.  And sometimes your kid is the one being cruel.  Sometimes your kid is being picked on your kid still may be picking on someone else.  The story is never that simple. 

Don't let them fool you into thinking they aren't...I work in a school and while they are all good kids they don't always make good decisions.

They are finding themselves.  Our job goes from keeping them alive to keeping them on the right path.  The trick is to still be there.  You have to be present and willing to read the signals, even though some days you'll think "wtf is that?  what is going on here?"

Well, most days you may think that.

But the rewards are endless.  Never stop hugging, never stop listening.  Turn off phones and have conversations.  Keep watch over them even when they tell you they don't need it.  That's when they need it most.

Parenting teenagers and preteens is not for the faint of heart.  You have to be tough, be fair and be ready to realize your kid is not perfect.  

And they shouldn't have to be.  They will make mistakes, they will break your heart.  They will have their heart broken which almost ends you.  Literally you feel like you're dying inside because you can't take the pain away.

It's a crazy, beautiful ride.  And I'm here to tell you, while bittersweet they aren't babies, you'll always look at them that way no matter how old they are.  

Cheers to all the mamas.  You're doing amazing, important work.  Keep marching.