Monday, November 28, 2011

Monday Morning Weekend Roundup


We had a great weekend.  As a family, we really needed that long weekend together.  And boy did we take advantage of those four days!  On Thursday, we traveled to Grandma and Grandpa Miller's house for Thanksgiving.  On Saturday, we went to a tree farm and found our perfect Christmas tree.  We came home and decorated it that night.  On Sunday, we took some portraits in front of the tree and celebrated Great-Grandma Roberts' 91st birthday as well.  Jolene also finally beat her cold - thank goodness!  Jolene has also been showing a lot of interest in solid foods, so she ate her first rice cereal on Sunday.  My girl is getting so big!

Wednesday:
  • Wash, fold, and put away 4 loads of laundry
  • Start packing for overnight trip 
  • Prepare green bean casserole
  • Make pumpkin cheesecake

Thursday:
  • Finish packing for overnight trip
  • Drive to Grandma and Grandpa Miller's house
  • Enjoy Thanksgiving with our family

Friday:
  • Drive home from Grandma and Grandpa Miller's house
  • Finish wrapping Christmas presents

Saturday:
  • Meal planning
  • Take down fall decorations
  • Find Christmas tree
  • Decorate Christmas tree
  • Grocery shopping
  • Catch up on blog reading
  • Take Jolene to Gymboree Play & Learn 1 class

Sunday:
  • Wash, fold, and put away 2 loads of laundry
  • Take portraits in front of the Christmas tree
  • Celebrate Great-Grandma Roberts' birthday
  • Complete Dare to DIY project #3

Meal Plan:

Sunday - Leftovers
Monday - Easy Red Beans and Rice
Tuesday - Crockpot Baked Potato Soup
Wednesday - Leftovers
Thursday - Butternut Squash Soup
Friday - Roasted Chicken, Acorn Squash
Saturday - French Onion Soup

Dustin's 2011 Wish List

 
Home Depot Gift Card

Amazon.com Gift Card

Jolene's 2011 Wish List



Dania's 2011 Wish List

   



Incase Snap Case for iPhone 4

Nordstrom Gift Card

Michaels Gift Card

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Weekend Planning


Yay, the weekend is here already (thank you short work week)!  I'm so excited for this long weekend and for having some more time with my hubby.  He's been working so hard lately, so I hope we can both have a little rest with the holiday weekend.  Jolene is still fighting her first cold and I hope she kicks it this weekend.  We are both pretty darn tired!

Wednesday:
  • Wash, fold, and put away 4 loads of laundry
  • Start packing for overnight trip 
  • Prepare green bean casserole
  • Make pumpkin cheesecake

Thursday:
  • Finish packing for overnight trip
  • Drive to Grandma and Grandpa Miller's house
  • Enjoy Thanksgiving with our family

Friday:
  • Drive home from Grandma and Grandpa Miller's house
  • Finish wrapping Christmas presents

Saturday:
  • Meal planning
  • Grocery shopping
  • Catch up on blog reading
  • Take Jolene to Gymboree Play & Learn 1 class

Sunday:
  • Wash, fold, and put away 2 loads of laundry
  • Complete Dare to DIY project #3
  • Start taking down fall decorations

What are your plans this weekend?

Week 5 Recap: Express Happy House Challenge Plus

 
I am excited to say that I finished the Express Happy House Challenge with My Happy House.  It was a lot of hard work over the course of five weeks, but my home looks fantastic!  I'm loving my tidy house and am no longer dreading the preparation for holiday guests (they're arriving one month from today!).  Thank you Molly for all of your motivation!

My totals for last week are:

1 - Make the bed: 7/7
2 - Empty the sink: 7/7
3 - Clear the clutter: 7/7
4 - Sweep the kitchen floor: 4/7
5 - Sort the mail: 3/6
6 - Spray the shower: 7/7
7 - Write it down: 7/7
8 - Organize your outerwear: 7/7
9 -  Clean the counters: 7/7
10 - Relax and enjoy your clean house: 7/7

The "Plus" for last week was to deep clean the living room.  Here's the task list that Molly provided (things I finished are in green, unfinished are in red):

  • Clean light fixtures
  • Clean blinds 
  • Clean windows
  • Clean furniture
  • Clean baseboards
  • Vacuum floor

I was able to finish everything last Friday, which was a relief since we were hosting friends on Saturday for dinner.  The house was nice and clean for their visit!

Living Room AFTER

Living Room AFTER


Monday, November 21, 2011

Monday Morning Weekend Roundup


Monday already?  Geez, that was fast!  Our weekend was pretty good.  Jolene is still fighting a cold, but is improving every day.  We hosted a dinner party with friends on Saturday, which was so much fun.  We haven't hosted anything since Jolene was born, so it was nice to entertain again.  We made a mixed green salad with pears, pecans, and blue cheese, baked rice with butternut squash, a roasted pork loin, and apple crisp with vanilla ice cream.  Delish!  Sunday was fairly relaxing, except for my absolute fail at finding some new holiday clothes at the mall.  Thank goodness for online shopping!

Friday:
  • Meal planning
  • Grocery shopping
  • Clean living room windows (part of the Happy House Express Challenge Plus)
  • Clean entry blinds
  • Clean entry windows
  • Clean entry baseboards
  • Clean kitchen baseboards
  • Clean dining room baseboards
  • Sweep front porch
  • Sweep back porch 
  • Clean front porch windows

Saturday:
  • Clean living room furniture (part of the Happy House Express Challenge Plus)
  • Vacuum floor (part of the Happy House Express Challenge Plus)
  • Mop entry floor
  • Maintenance clean first floor
  • Complete Dare to DIY project #2
  • Prepare for dinner party

Sunday:
  • Wash, fold, and put away 3 loads of laundry
  • Bake toffee almond bars
  • Look for holiday outfits for me (I didn't find anything though - going to look online)
  • Start wrapping Christmas presents

Meal Plan:
Sunday - Leftovers
Monday - Leftovers
Tuesday - Easy Red Beans and Rice
Wednesday - Buffalo Chicken Tacos
Thursday - Thanksgiving!  We're bringing cranberry-orange relish, green bean casserole, sweet potato casserole, and pumpkin cheesecake.
Friday - French Onion Soup
Saturday - Crockpot Baked Potato Soup

How was your weekend?

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Dare to DIY Blog Party (Week 2 of 6): No-Sew Table Runner (with Tutorial)


This week's "Dare to..." challenge (courtesy of The NewlyWoodwards and their Dare to DIY blog party), is "Dare to...entertain!"  Participants share their holiday table and in the spirit of DIY, perhaps make something new for the table as well.

For this second challenge I again chose to make something I've wanted for a long time and have never found one in the store that I've liked enough (or if I did find one, it was way too expensive) - a table runner!  I chose a lovely print that works with our decor and you can find the tutorial below.

First though, I'd like to share my Thanksgiving holiday table, featuring both my new DIY no-sew table runner and my DIY wine charms from last week:




Here is a breakdown of what you see on the table:

DIY no-sew table runner

Now on to how I made the no-sew table runner...


No-Sew Table Runner Tutorial

To create your own no-sew table runner, you'll need:

Fabric: $11.91 (my total fabric cost was $23.81, but I am making a second runner out of the remaining fabric as a gift)
Stitch Witchery: $0.45 for 40 yards (total cost was $2.99 for 40 yards with a 50% off coupon; I used 6 yards total)
Scissors: $0.00
Tape Measure: $0.00
Iron: $0.00
Ironing Board: $0.00
Cotton cloth (I used a kitchen dish rag): $0.00
Total: $12.36

First, measure the desired length and width of your table runner (length: the length of your dining room table, plus how much fabric you'd like to have hang on the ends; width: this is personal preference, mine is 13 inches wide). 

Next, find your fabric.  I purchased 2-1/4 yards for my project and plan on making a second table runner out of the same fabric for an easy handmade gift.  I chose a heavier fabric (think of the weight of a placemat when shopping).


Then, measure your fabric and cut to the measurements you recorded in the first step, plus an inch on each side for the hem.  I didn't spend a ton of time trying to be super accurate here.  That would take me way too much time and I have a five-month old, remember?  Time is ticking away when she's napping!

Next, fold over the hem of the fabric and iron all the way around each side of the runner.  Again, I didn't worry about accuracy too much here.  I just made sure I was ironing straight lines on each side.


Then, wet the cotton cloth and wring out until damp.  Insert the stitch witchery inside the hem, place the cloth on top of the fabric (it will be between the fabric and the iron) and press down with the iron (set at the wool setting) for 10 seconds in one spot.  Don't move the iron back and forth, just hold it in one spot for the entire 10 seconds.


Slowly move around the entire runner until the stitch witchery has been applied.  I did the long ends first, then the short ends.  When I was working on the corner of the runner, I was careful to trim any fabric that would hang out the sides before ironing.


That's it!  Easy, huh?

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Weekend Planning


My goodness this week flew by!  My poor little Jolene is fighting her first cold, which means that she and Mama aren't getting much sleep.  I am really hoping she kicks this cold soon!  With that in mind, I'm taking it a little easier this weekend.

We are hosting a dinner party on Saturday.  It'll be the three of us, plus the Timm family - Brian, Emily, Ashley, and Isaiah.  I'm excited to finally host something since Jolene's birth.  I have my fingers crossed that she's feeling better by then so I can entertain our guests.

Friday:
  • Meal planning
  • Grocery shopping
  • Clean living room windows (part of the Happy House Express Challenge Plus)
  • Clean living room furniture (part of the Happy House Express Challenge Plus)
  • Vacuum floor (part of the Happy House Express Challenge Plus)
  • Clean entry blinds
  • Clean entry windows
  • Clean entry baseboards
  • Mop entry floor
  • Clean kitchen baseboards
  • Clean dining room baseboards
  • Sweep front porch
  • Sweep back porch

Saturday:
  • Maintenance clean first floor
  • Complete Dare to DIY project #2
  • Prepare for dinner party

Sunday:
  • Wash, fold, and put away 4 loads of laundry
  • Bake toffee almond bars
  • Look for holiday outfits for me

What are your plans this weekend?  Make sure to link up!


Week 4 Recap: Express Happy House Challenge Plus

 
Wow, I can't believe I've already completed four weeks of the Express Happy House Challenge with My Happy House.  We're starting our last week and our house has never looked better!  I'm really enjoying my clean house, which makes all of my hard work so worthwhile.  We're hosting dinner for friends this Saturday, so I'm excited that the house is already so clean and I just need to do a quick maintenance clean of the first floor and we're ready to entertain!

My totals for last week are:

1 - Make the bed: 7/7
2 - Empty the sink: 7/7
3 - Clear the clutter: 7/7
4 - Sweep the kitchen floor: 5/7
5 - Sort the mail: 4/6
6 - Spray the shower: 7/7
7 - Write it down: 7/7
8 - Organize your outerwear: 7/7

It may not have been a perfect week, but I'm still proud of my numbers!  It's definitely hard to finish my evening tasks (empty the sink, clear the clutter, sweep the kitchen floor, sort the mail, and organize the outerwear) each night because the couch is calling.  But I just remind myself that all of those tasks take less than 15 minutes total, so just get in done.  Then I can truly enjoy my "me" time! 

The "Plus" for last week was to deep clean the bedrooms.  Here's the task list that Molly provided (things I finished are in green, unfinished are in red):

  • Clean light fixtures
  • Clean blinds 
  • Clean windows
  • Strip all bedding and clean
  • Dust all furniture
  • Organize drawers
  • Organize closets 
  • Clean baseboards 
  • Vacuum floors

I was able to finish everything by Tuesday morning, which felt great.  Jolene's crib is in our room, so her naps and night time sleeps left that room off limits for my normal "work" hours.  I had to break the tasks up for that room over four days to finish!  I didn't take before pictures because the rooms look nearly the same, but now they're sparkling!

Guest Bedroom AFTER

Jolene's Bedroom AFTER

Master Bedroom AFTER

For the fifth (and final!) of the challenge, Molly has added two new daily tasks (9 - Clean the counters, 10 - Relax and enjoy your clean house) and a deep clean of the living room.  Here's the itemized task list:

  • Dust the lighting
  • Clean the furniture
  • Clean the blinds
  • Clean the windows
  • Clean the baseboards
  • Vacuum the floor

Wordless Wednesday

Mama, you're crazy!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

At 5 Months Jolene

At 5 months Jolene...

 
Enjoys bath time again

Gives her biggest giggles to Lilly, our golden retriever


Has found her feet, but can't quite reach them yet
 
Can sit up, unassisted, for short periods
 
 
Likes going to her Gymboree class
 
Has discovered her voice and practices by screeching
 
 
 Gets shy and hides her face when Daddy says that she's pretty
 
Kicks her legs vigorously when lying on her back
 
 
Is starting to get a little bit of green in her eyes
 
Loves when Mommy sings to her

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Dare to DIY Blog Party (Week 1 of 6): Wine Charms (with Tutorial)


The NewlyWoodwards are hosting the Dare to DIY blog party.  Each week has a corresponding "Dare to..." challenge and participants link to their take on each.  The first challenge is "Dare to...be thankful!" and we were tasked with making a DIY Thanksgiving project.  I chose to make something we've needed for a long time and I've never found any in the store that I've liked enough to purchase - wine charms!  I chose fall colors (amber and gold) and sentiments that are often shared around Thanksgiving.


This project was super easy and I'm excited to use these wine charms at an upcoming dinner party we're hosting.  Take a look at the tutorial below.  Happy crafting!

Wine Charm Tutorial

To create your own wine charms, you'll need:

Memory wire (ring shape): $0.63 for 9
Glass seed beads: $2.24 for 3 ounces *
Charms: $3.00 for 6
Wire cutters: $0.00 (from my husband's toolkit)
Total: $5.87

* There are probably 500 beads in this 3 ounce bag.  I would suggest buying either a very mixed color bag or a very small quantity.  I didn't have time to go to another store for a smaller bag of beads.  

First, cut six rings from the memory wire.  You want the ends of the ring to overlap.


Next, add your charms and beads to the cut ring.


Done!


Are you participating in the Dare to DIY blog party?  Have you made any Thanksgiving DIY projects lately?  Share 'em!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Monday Morning Weekend Roundup


Another weekend down, another weekend closer to Thanksgiving and Christmas! I can't believe the holidays are here already.  It seems like it was just early summer and I was waiting for my baby girl to arrive.  Now she's five months old.  ...Sob...

We had a great weekend!  On Friday, we watched Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2.  I've been waiting for this to come out on DVD for awhile and was not disappointed.  It probably ranks as my number 3 favorite of the series (Deathly Hallows Part 1 and The Half Blood Price are better in my opinion).  
I also got my craft on!  I made some wine charms for the Dare to DIY blog party and started on my next project as well (to be revealed this weekend).

On Sunday, we made a "Pre-Thanksgiving" feast.  Roasted turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, cranberry-orange relish, pumpkin pie, and sparkling apple cider.  Yum!  I'm going to blame the tryptophan for all of the red on my weekend plans below!  Really, I just ran out of time though.  Fortunately, I have two more days to wrap up this week's "Plus" of the Express Happy House Challenge Plus.

Complete        Incomplete        Added

Friday:
  • Take Lilly to the groomer's
  • Go to Michael's to pick up Dare to DIY project supplies
  • Buy and watch Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
  • Jolene's bedroom - clean light fixtures (part of the Express Happy House Challenge Plus)
  • Jolene's bedroom - clean blinds (part of the Express Happy House Challenge Plus)
  • Jolene's bedroom - clean windows (part of the Express Happy House Challenge Plus)
  • Jolene's bedroom - dust all furniture (part of the Express Happy House Challenge Plus)
  • Jolene's bedroom - organize drawers (part of the Express Happy House Challenge Plus)
  • Jolene's bedroom - organize closet (part of the Express Happy House Challenge Plus)
  • Jolene's bedroom - clean baseboards (part of the Express Happy House Challenge Plus)
  • Jolene's bedroom - vacuum floor (part of the Express Happy House Challenge Plus)
  • Go to JoAnn's to pick up Dare to DIY project supplies

Saturday:
  • Meal planning
  • Make grocery shopping list
  • Attend Jolene's Gymboree Play & Learn 1 class
  • Wash, fold, and put away 2 loads of laundry
  • Master bedroom - clean light fixtures (part of the Express Happy House Challenge Plus)
  • Master bedroom - clean blinds (part of the Express Happy House Challenge Plus)
  • Master bedroom - clean windows (part of the Express Happy House Challenge Plus)
  • Complete Dare to DIY project
  • Go to bead store to pick up Dare to DIY project supplies
  • Make Toffee Almond Bars
  • Begin next Dare to DIY project 
  • Master bedroom - strip all bedding and clean (part of the Express Happy House Challenge Plus)
  • Master bedroom - dust all furniture (part of the Express Happy House Challenge Plus)
  • Look for holiday outfits online (for me)

Sunday:
  • Grocery shopping
  • Wash, fold and put away 2 loads of laundry
  • Make Pre-Thanksgiving feast
  • Master bedroom - organize drawers (part of the Express Happy House Challenge Plus)
  • Master bedroom - organize closet (part of the Express Happy House Challenge Plus)
  • Master bedroom - clean baseboards (part of the Express Happy House Challenge Plus)
  • Master bedroom - vacuum floor (part of the Express Happy House Challenge Plus)

How was your weekend?  Be sure to leave me a comment and let me know how your weekend went!

Toffee Almond Bars

When I was in college, I used to study at a local Starbucks coffee shop.  I didn't drink coffee very often, so I had to start out with a fairly "easy" drink - a white chocolate mocha.  Eventually, I moved on to a vanilla latte and now I prefer drip coffee.  Unless of course the pumpkin spice latte is available.  Anyway, I would order my "easy" drink and a toffee almond bar.  Gosh those bars were good!  Cakey with dark chocolate, white chocolate, and chunks of toffee.  Yum!  Unfortunately, Starbucks doesn't carry these bars anymore.  My heart cries.

A few days ago I found a recipe for toffee almond bars and am enjoying one right this minute.  Okay, fine - two.  My heart sings once more!


Toffee Almond Bars

1 cup, plus 2 tablespoons, plus 1 teaspoon, flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt *
3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened *
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1 large egg
1/2 cup white chocolate chips **
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips **
1/2 cup Heath chips **

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Grease a 9" square baking pan.  In a medium bowl, combine 1 cup, plus 2 tablespoons, flour, baking soda, and salt.  Set aside.  Cream butter, sugar, and vanilla.  Add egg and mix until well combined.  Add half of flour mixture and mix until combined, then add remaining flour mixture and mix again.  In a medium bowl, add white chocolate, dark chocolate, and Heath chips.  Add 1 teaspoon flour and toss until candy is lightly coated (this will help keep the chips suspended in the bars).  Add chip mixture to batter.  Spread into baking pan.  Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Cool on a wire rack completely so chips can set.  Cut into bars.

* I only had salted butter, so I omitted the salt in the batch I made today.

** You can also use chocolate and toffee bars.  Just chop them into small pieces.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Weekend Planning


Wow, another weekend is here already? That was fast! Hunting season is over now so Dustin is home this weekend (the first time since mid-October). Yay!

I have been anxiously awaiting November 11th for the past few months.  Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 is being released on DVD.  I am a huge fan of the series (books and movies) and this was the first film I was unable to see in the theater since I had a gorgeous four week old baby when it came out.  Oh. My. Gosh!

By the way, I know that November 11th is also Veteran's Day.  I don't mean to seem insensitive with my excitement over the DVD release.  Our family has had many men serve our country and we are so extremely appreciative of the sacrifice our service men and women make every single day.

Also exciting this weekend...we bought a large stand-up freezer last year and as of this week, there were still two turkeys in there from last November.  And the Miller's love a turkey feast, so this Sunday will be "Pre-Thanksgiving!"  Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, green beans, cranberry-orange relish, and pumpkin pie (or pumpkin cheesecake).  Yum!

Friday:
  • Meal planning
  • Make grocery shopping list
  • Take Lilly to the groomer's
  • Go to Michael's to Dare to DIY project supplies
  • Buy Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
  • Complete Dare to DIY project
  • Watch Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 with my non-HP geek husband
  • Jolene's bedroom - clean light fixtures (part of the Express Happy House Challenge Plus)
  • Jolene's bedroom - clean blinds (part of the Express Happy House Challenge Plus)
  • Jolene's bedroom - clean windows (part of the Express Happy House Challenge Plus)
  • Jolene's bedroom - dust all furniture (part of the Express Happy House Challenge Plus)
  • Jolene's bedroom - organize drawers (part of the Express Happy House Challenge Plus)
  • Jolene's bedroom - organize closet (part of the Express Happy House Challenge Plus)
  • Jolene's bedroom - clean baseboards (part of the Express Happy House Challenge Plus)
  • Jolene's bedroom - vacuum floor (part of the Express Happy House Challenge Plus)

Saturday:
  • Attend Jolene's Gymboree Play & Learn 1 class
  • Grocery shopping
  • Wash, fold, and put away 4 loads of laundry
  • Look for holiday outfits online (for me)
  • Master bedroom - clean light fixtures (part of the Express Happy House Challenge Plus)
  • Master bedroom - clean blinds (part of the Express Happy House Challenge Plus)
  • Master bedroom - clean windows (part of the Express Happy House Challenge Plus)
  • Master bedroom - strip all bedding and clean (part of the Express Happy House Challenge Plus)
  • Master bedroom - dust all furniture (part of the Express Happy House Challenge Plus)

Sunday:
  • Wash, fold and put away 4 loads of laundry
  • Make Pre-Thanksgiving feast
  • Master bedroom - organize drawers (part of the Express Happy House Challenge Plus)
  • Master bedroom - organize closet (part of the Express Happy House Challenge Plus)
  • Master bedroom - clean baseboards (part of the Express Happy House Challenge Plus)
  • Master bedroom - vacuum floor (part of the Express Happy House Challenge Plus)

What are your plans this weekend?  Make sure to link up!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Week 3 Recap: Express Happy House Challenge Plus

 
Three weeks down, two weeks to go in the Express Happy House Challenge with My Happy House.  Our house has never looked better!  I've always wanted our home to be "guest ready" at all times and it is now thanks to the daily tasks! 

My totals for last week are:

1 - Make the bed: 7/7
2 - Empty the sink: 7/7
3 - Clear the clutter: 7/7
4 - Sweep the kitchen floor: 6/7
5 - Sort the mail: 4/7 (i didn't check the mail every day)
6 - Spray the shower: 5/7 (I needed to deep clean first)

The "Plus" for last week was to deep clean the bathrooms.  Here's the task list that Molly provided (things I finished are in green, unfinished are in red):

  • Clean mirror (powder room, guest bath, master bath)
  • Clean blinds (powder room, guest bath, master bath)
  • Clean windows (powder room, guest bath, master bath)
  • Clean light fixtures (powder room, guest bath, master bath)
  • Scrub toilet (powder room, guest bath, master bath)
  • Clean cupboard interiors/exteriors (powder room, guest bath, master bath)
  • Clean counters (powder room, guest bath, master bath)
  • Deep clean floor (powder room, guest bath, master bath)
  • Deep clean baseboards (powder room, guest bath, master bath)
  • Deep clean shower and tub (guest bath, master bath) 

All done, yay!  It was definitely hard to finish since I was sick three of the seven days and Dustin was out of town four of the seven as well, leaving me alone with Jolene.  I'm so glad that I finished though.  I forgot to take before pictures, but the after pictures are below.

Powder Room AFTER

Guest Bath AFTER

Master Bath AFTER

Master Bath AFTER

Master Bath AFTER

For the fourth week of the five week challenge, Molly has added two new daily tasks (7 - Write it down, 8 - Organize your outerwear) and a deep clean of the bedrooms.  We have three bedrooms, so I'm definitely going to break up the task list that Molly provided:

  • Clean all light fixtures
  • Strip all bedding and clean
  • Dust all furniture
  • Organize closets
  • Organize drawers
  • Clean mirrors and windows
  • Vacuum floors

Wordless Wednesday

My sweet Jolene modeling the latest in cloth diaper fashion

Cinnamon Rolls

Before leaving on his elk hunting trip, Dustin requested these cinnamon rolls to take with him.  And am I ever glad he did because that means that I made a batch for myself to.  Ha!  Seriously, these are heaven.


Dania's Cinnamon Rolls

Dough:
1 cup milk, warmed
2 eggs, room temperature
1/3 cup butter, melted
4-1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 packet dry active yeast (or 2-1/4 teaspoons)

Filling:
1 cup brown sugar, packed
2-1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1/3 cup butter, softened or melted

Frosting:
6 ounces cream cheese
1/2 cup butter, softened
3 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt

Microwave the milk for 60 seconds.  Place in stand mixer bowl.  Add yeast and dissolve.  Mix in sugar, eggs, salt, and butter.  Add flour and mix well.  Using a dough hook, knead dough into a large ball (I set my mixer to speed 2 and mix for 5-10 minutes, until the dough is in a ball and starts pulling away from the sides of the bowl).  Cover and let rise in a warm place for one hour or until doubled in size.

Roll out dough into a large rectangle on a floured surface.

At this point, you have two options for proceeding:

Option 1: In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar and cinnamon.  Spread the dough with 1/3 cup softened butter and sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar mixture.

Option 2: In a small bowl, melt 1/3 cup butter.  Add brown sugar and cinnamon and mix.  Spread the dough with butter, cinnamon, and sugar mixture.

I prefer option 2 overall.  It's a little harder to spread this mixture than option 1, but when rolling the cinnamon rolls later in the recipe, the cinnamon and sugar stay put in option 2, where it can get a little messy with option 1.

Roll up dough and cut into 12 equal pieces.  Place rolls in a lightly greased 13x9" baking dish or two 9" pie plates.  Cover and let rise for 30 minutes.  While the rolls are rising, beat together cream cheese, 1/2 cup butter, powdered sugar, vanilla, and salt.*

At this point, you have three options for proceeding:

Option 1: Bake rolls for 15 minutes in 400 degree F oven.

Option 2: Cover rolls with plastic wrap or foil.  Place rolls in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.  Remove rolls from refrigerator 30 minutes prior to baking.  Bake rolls for 15-20 minutes in 400 degree F oven.

Option 3: Cover rolls with plastic wrap and foil.  Place rolls in the freezer.  Remove rolls from freezer and place in refrigerator the night before baking.  Remove rolls from refrigerator 30 minutes prior to baking.  Bake rolls for 15-20 minutes in 400 degree F oven.

* This makes quite a bit of frosting.  Some people like a little, some people (like me) like a lot.  I generally add a little frosting at a time until I reach the amount that looks perfect for me (rather than just dumping it all on at once).

I'm linking up with The How To Mommy for Tasty Thursday!

Corn Bread Muffins

I love corn bread.  Probably because it's more like corn-cake than corn-bread.  Yum!  Is there anything better than corn bread with butter and honey?  Maybe a buttermilk biscuit with butter and honey.  But corn bread was calling to me and I gave in!


Corn Bread Muffins

1 cup corn meal
1 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1  teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 large egg, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Combine corn meal, flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.  Combined milk, oil, and egg in a small bowl and mix well.  Add milk mixture to flour mixture. Stir until blended.  Spoon batter into greased muffin tin.  Bake for 15 minutes.

Crockpot White Chicken Chili

Dustin loves chili.  He's a purist though.  He toasts his own peppers to create the perfect chili powder.  I rarely get to help out with the chili making process.  So I jumped at the chance to make a chili while he was out of town.  And I went in the opposite direction of Dustin's recipe.  No beef, no chili powder, no kidney beans.  Oh my!

Next time I make this recipe, I plan to add a fresh jalapeno and some other chiles.  There wasn't quite enough quick for me.  Enter my trusty cayenne pepper!


Crockpot White Chicken Chili

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3-4 cups chicken broth*
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon red pepper sauce (or more if you like spicy food like me)
2 - 15 ounce cans great northern beans, drained and rinsed
1 - 15.25 ounce can corn, drained

Mix onion, garlic, broth, cumin, oregano, salt, and pepper sauce in crockpot.  Add chicken, beans, and corn.  Cook on low heat for 6 hours.  Remove chicken and shred.  Return to crockpot to re-warm chicken as needed.  Garnish with cilantro and serve with lime wedges.

*I used three cups of broth to start and then added the fourth cup after shredding the chicken.  It didn't look soupy enough for my liking.

Pesto Alla Trapanese

Have you ever watched America's Test Kitchen?  Dustin and I love that show.  Yup, we're food geeks!  This recipe was featured on the show a few weeks ago and we couldn't wait to try it.  It's a "pink" pesto featuring tomatoes instead of a traditional pesto showcasing basil.  It's incredibly simple and so delicious!  Seriously, the longest part of the preparation is cooking the noodles.  Easy!


Pesto Alla Trapanese

1/4 cup slivered almonds
12 ounces cherry or grape tomatoes

1/2 cup packed fresh basil leaves
1 medium garlic clove , minced
1 small pepperoncini, stemmed, seeded, and minced
2 teaspoons salt
Pinch red pepper flakes
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound pasta , preferably linguine or spaghetti
1 ounce Parmesan cheese, grated, plus extra for serving

Toast almonds in small skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently, until pale golden and fragrant, 2 to 4 minutes. Cool almonds to room temperature.

Using a food processor, blend cooled almonds, tomatoes, basil, garlic, pepperoncini, 1 teaspoon salt, and red pepper flakes until smooth, about 1 minute. Scrape down sides of bowl with rubber spatula. With machine running, slowly drizzle in oil, about 30 seconds.

Meanwhile, bring 4 quarts water to boil in large pot. Add pasta and 1 tablespoon salt and cook until al dente. Reserve ½ cup cooking water; drain pasta and transfer back to cooking pot.

Add pesto and ½ cup Parmesan to cooked pasta, adjusting consistency with reserved pasta cooking water so that pesto coats pasta. Serve immediately, passing Parmesan separately.