Thursday, April 28, 2011

Mmmmmm


Need I say more?

No, I'm not eating this. But you could be!

(I really, really want to be eating this right now. You should make it to make me feel better)

Get the recipe here: Carrot Snack Cake

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Today

Today...



Our new magnolia tree is budding.



She found a spot full of her favorite flowers.



Our apple trees are blooming.





The dog is being a spaz.


Today...I am happy. :)







Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Catch Up

Today I am playing catch up around here. Not my house, I mean Here. This blog. I have a couple great recipes for you that I neglected to take pictures of, but one of them does have a link with pictures. That helps right? Right.

Crazy busy. That's how I describe here right now. If it isn't one thing it's another. I am noticing that as I filter out pre-packaged and processed foods, I am spending more time prepping for cooking, cooking, cleaning up or planning my cooking. That's OK with me, I just have to get used to the new way of doing things.

I am also doing a self imposed 30 day sugar detox. No sugar for me! I haven't had any soda for 1! WHOLE! WEEK! and I haven't had any sugar since Easter. (I cut myself off from soda after I laid in bed and had my heart racing from drinking a Coke right before laying down. I did not enjoy the feeling.)

I've also decided to do another juice fast. I know, I know. When I did one last year I said I would never do it again. But I really felt good after finishing it and I feel like it's a good thing for me to do again.

I won't make you read any more of my ramblings, I'll let you get to the good part now :)

Recipes:

Spaghetti Pie

1/2 lb spaghetti noodles, cooked and drained
1 cup spaghetti sauce
(I used leftovers that had been in the fridge all night)
2 eggs
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1/2-1 cup mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup cottage cheese or ricotta, optional
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs. Add salt, pepper and parmesan cheese. Mix in the cooked noodles and stir them to coat the whole thing really well with the egg mixture. Pour into a greased 9-inch pie plate and squish it around to make a "pie" shell, remembering to press it up the sides of the plate as well. Don't worry about making it perfect here, just get it in there. If you are using the cottage or ricotta cheese here, spread it onto the bottom of the noodles. Add the sauce next, followed by the mozzarella cheese. (I think I sprinkled on a bit more parmesan on top, but I can't remember). Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 25 minutes or until the cheese is browned and it's heated all the way through. I let mine sit about 15 minutes to make it easier to slice and it was still really hot.

As you can see, there is a lot of room to play around with this recipe. Like mushrooms? Add them! Want to use marinara or meat sauce? Do it! More cheese? Yes, please!

The next one I made for our Easter dessert and it was SO SIMPLE.

I found it on www.kraftrecipes.com

Layered Coconut Cream Cheesecake Bars
Here's the link

84 Nilla wafers, divided
6 Tablespoon butter, melted
1 8-oz package of cream cheese, softened
2 Tablespoons sugar
1 16-oz tub cool whip (It only calls for an 8 oz tub, but it wasn't nearly enough. You'll need all 16 oz)
2 (3.4 oz) packages of instant vanilla pudding
2 1/2 cups cold milk
1 1/2 cups toasted coconut, divided

Set 24 wafers aside. Crush the 60 wafers and mix with the melted butter. Press into the bottom of a 9x13 inch pan and refrigerate while you make the filling. In a bowl, beat the cream cheese and sugar together until light and fluffy. Gently fold in 1 cup of cool whip. Spread it over the crust. Mix your pudding and the milk together for 2 minutes and then add 1 cup cool whip and 3/4 cup toasted coconut. Spread over cream cheese layer. Spread the remaining cool whip over the top and sprinkle with the rest of the coconut. Cover and refrigerate at least 5 hours, or overnight.

Now you're all caught up! I'm back to a more regular posting schedule starting today, so I'll see you here tomorrow for more fun :)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Fun Bunny Cake



As most of you already know, I try to let my kids be as involved in the kitchen as possible. This is an easy, fun project that they love to do.

We made one of these cakes last year, and it went over so well that I knew I would be wanting to make another one this Easter. It makes a cute dessert.

First things first~ bake a cake. You need an 8 inch round and 1 cupcake (the extra cupcakes I decorate as extras). Cool your cake and cupcakes completely before moving on.

You have your cake, now you need to cut it in 1/2.




Next, spread your frosting on one 1/2.





Sandwich the 2 halves together.



Place a little smear of frosting on the plate you're going to use.



Stick your cake on it so it won't move around.



Ice it with a thin coat of frosting to keep all the crumbs at bay.



Unwrap your cupcake and put the top side in the palm of your hand. Ice the bottom portion.


Stick it to one end of your cake, this is going to be your fluffy bunny tail :)







Use the rest of your frosting and ice your bunny. Swirl your knife or spatula around to get some texture on it.



You can use all sorts of things for the face, but we used 3 pieces of candy and some paper.



Last thing we did was put a couple drops of green food coloring into some coconut to make some grass for our bunny.

There it is, the completed bunny cake :)

I made my own cake and frosting, but a box mix and 2 cans of frosting would be equivalent to what I used. I also used about a cup of coconut and 3 jelly beans, not too shabby for a cute project. I'd say this took us less than a 1/2 hour to put together (not including time to bake and cool the cake or make the frosting).

So, what do you think? Cute, huh?


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Nearing Completion

I realised that I haven't posted anything about the bathroom remodel in a while. Well, here ya go:


The tile floor is all done. It looks so nice :) We love it. We had enough of this tile left over to go down the hallway too, so that was good.



This is from the inside looking out. Dottie decided she wanted to say Hi! Please excuse all the stuff on the counter tops. It's where Kevin is keeping all of his tools and supplies in there. Remodeling is messy business!



And finally, from the outside looking in. That grey spot on the washer? It's thinset mortar from laying the tiles. Everyday I ship off a little more and a little more, but that stuff is stuck on there good and isn't wanting to come off.

That's where we are right now. I'm hoping that next weekend I can show you some pictures of the walls after they have been textured. Crossing my fingers that we are able to get that done!

I'll update you with pictures of the hall as soon as we get that tile down :)


Friday, April 15, 2011

Busy Day Donuts



Usually when I make donuts, I have planned them out and I make raised ones. Or I make these pumpkin donuts. But, once in a while the girls want them and I haven't planned to make them.

That's when I make "Busy Day Donuts"! These are a fast, easy way to get them in the hands of the hungry masses and they don't make a big mess in the kitchen :)



Busy Day Donuts~
adapted from Betty Crocker

3 1/3 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2-1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons shortening
2 eggs
3/4 cup milk

Oil for frying

Mix 1 1/2 cups of flour with the sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, shortening, eggs and milk. Mix for 30 seconds, scraping the bowl down several times. Beat on high for 2 minutes. Stir in the remaining flour. Heat your oil to 350 degrees. When it's hot enough, drop slight teaspoons of donut dough into the oil. These will raise int he hot oil and if you make them too large they will be overcooked on the outside and very undercooked on the outside. When golden brown all over, remove from oil and let drain. Roll in cinnamon and sugar. I made about 40 with this recipe, but you may get a few more/few less depending on how diligently you measure.

Easy to make, yummy to eat and much faster than their rolled and raised counterparts!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Working in the Garden


Yesterday was a beautiful day in Southern Oregon, and we went outside! It was nice be out without the rain pouring, or snow, or wind, or...well you get the point. We mowed the lawn and worked in the garden.

Today my muscles are telling me that I need to work in the garden a LOT more. I look forward to being out there some more this summer.

I've said it before, a lot actually, but I'm really counting on our garden this year. I don't know about all of you, but the prices on produce (and all groceries for that matter) are raising every week. Sometimes by leaps and bounds. Let's face it, it's not going to get better. Enter my huge garden plans. I see a lot of dehydrating, freezing and canning in my future. In fact I'm looking forward to it.

Back to yesterday. I used this tiller to break some ground.


Then we planted these little cabbages.


All neat in a little row.


My broccoli is doing well.


So is my cauliflower.


My little onions are very happy.


I have a few rows of peas planted as well, but they aren't up yet. Oh, but the chickens wanted to say "HI!" They are off the naughty list now that they are both laying eggs.

And last, a picture of the littles helping daddy. They are really into dressing themselves right now, can you tell? :)
That's how my garden is shaping up. I'll share more progress reports as we go!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Granola Bars- Part 2

Ok, ok. I have made these granola bars *twice* and still have not gotten a picture. Sigh. Instead of making you wait until I have a picture, I'm just going to give you the recipe and a couple things I have learned.

I highly recommend making your own granola for this. If you use this recipe you will have enough to make a batch of granola bars and some left over for cereal or snacking :) It really matters that you use a low sugar granola (and this one is) because they won't work out if you don't. Ask me how I know.

The recipe calls for pressing the bars into a 9x13 inch pan. DO NOT DO THIS. Your bars will be thin, fall apart and make you angry. They will taste fine, but are not going to be what you are looking for. I used 2 9x5 inch bread pans instead. I lined them with wax paper so I could just lift them out, worked like a charm. I think a 10x10 inch pan would work just as well too.

Chewy Granola Bars
adapted from Back to the Cutting Board

4 Tablespoons butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
2 cups granola
1 cup rice cereal
1 cup chocolate chips

Mix the granola and rice cereal together in a bowl. Heat the butter and honey together. When the butter is almost melted, add the brown sugar. Bring the mixture to a boil and then let simmer for 2 minutes or until the sugar has completely disolved. You will notice that is has gotten a little thicker as well. Pour over the granola and rice cereal. Stir to combine it really well. Pour into your pans. Set them aside for 10 minutes. Spray some non stick spray on the back of a measuring cup and press down the mixture very firmly. Add your chocolate chips to the top and press again. If the bars are still too hot and are sticking to everything, let them sit a couple more minutes. Let cool at room temperature for a couple hours and lift out of the pan. Cut into whatever sized bars you want and store in an airtight container with wax paper, parchment or plastic wrap seperating the layers.

One thing I did pick up from the comments on the blog I got this off of was that this recipe has no high fructose corn syrup in it, HOWEVER name brand rice cereal does, so if you are trying to stay away from HFCS you may want to check your rice cereal and see if you can find one without that little addition :)

I just gave you the plain jane varitey here, but you can come up with a million ways to make these your own. Nuts, seeds, candy, fruit...anything you want to add (or leave out) is up to you!




Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Granola Bars: Step 1

My breakfast: homemade yogurt, strawberry preserves and this delicious granola! What a great way to start the day :)

You don't really have to do this step to make your own granola bars. I just did because I'm cheap. Oh, and forgetful. I knew I wanted to make these, but when I went shopping this weekend I forgot to buy any granola.

Not a problem though, I simply made my own and so can you! Can I just say this is the BEST granola recipe I have made yet? It is super low fat because it uses applesauce instead of tons of oil like other recipes use.

I found the recipe here, but I made some changes. Or subtractions...however you want to look at it :)

Applesauce Granola

2 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 Tablespoon honey
1 Tablespoon Oil

Mix the oats, brown sugar, cinnamon and salt in a bowl. In a small saucepan, heat the applesauce, oil and honey. When it is warm, stir it into the oat mixture. Now, at this point you can add up to 2 cups of assorted nuts/seeds, but I chose to leave them out since I was going to be making granola bars with it. Spread it into a 9x13 pan and bake at 350 degrees, stirring every 10 minutes for about 40-50 minutes, or until really golden brown.

If you are going to use this as breakfast cereal, you could add fruit to it after it has cooled and store it in an airtight container.

If you plan on making granola bars....you'll have to come back tomorrow and read part 2!


Stuff

I am on a mission to cook and bake with more whole grains! They are good for you, keep you full and are an essential source of fiber. I know, I'm about to turn 30 and here I am talking about fiber. Sheesh. I want to eat healthier, not necessarily be on a "diet". I just want to change my diet, I think a lot of people are in the same place as me right now.

Pre-packaged, overly processed foods are not good for us. We all know it, but our busy lives and the busy lives of our loved ones sometimes call for us to use these things. We all do it. I'm just trying to move my family away from all of that and in a different direction.

What does that mean for this blog? Well, nothing much will change. I still cook and bake a fair amount of goodies. That's just the nature of the beast :) We have a lot of birthdays, snacks and lunches to make around here. But, I will be trying to find ways (and some of the ones I have been using with great success may surprise you) to lighten things up, add whole grains or other good-for-you ingredients. You may see a few more healthy dinner options going up.

I plan on doing a whole series this spring/summer about putting up your harvest, whether you buy from a grocery store, farmers market or grow your fruit/produce right in your backyard. I want everyone to be able to experience that delicious feeling of putting something wholesome and fresh away for the winter months when it may not be available, or if it is it doesn't taste as good (tomatoes! I'm looking at you).

So, a few changes will be happening. If I hadn't written this, you probably would have never even noticed. I think that by sharing my plans I will feel more accountable to keep up with them. You are going to help keep me on track.

Now, here is where you can help: Tell me what types of things you are interested in seeing! And don't worry if it isn't healthy, I'm not going to go crazy here, I just think a few more options for everyday cooking/baking would be a good idea. Even I don't like to eat tons of crap all the time (GASP!) and will appreciate having a few healthier, easy weeknight meals to fall back on.

Leave me a comment and let me know what you would love to see. Have a great recipe you want to share? Leave it in a comment here, or on Facebook. You did know we were on Facebook didn't you? :)

I think this is going to be a fun new direction, what about you?

Sunday, April 3, 2011

It's The New Week Again

I wish I had some super-duper pictures for this post, but I don't.

I'm a slacker like that.

I've been vacationing on the coast of Mexico, sipping cocktails and lying on the beach. It's been fantastic! We're really enjoying ourselves and having the time of our lives. The shopping is amazing and the food is out of this world. It's been the best 2 weeks of our lives!

I'M SO LYING TO YOU RIGHT NOW.

I'm not doing much, just hanging out on the homestead, cleaning, cooking and wrangling the children.

Oh, wait. That's isn't much, THAT'S A TON of stuff to do. Turns out that trying to live a simpler life is taking a lot of work. Go figure!

Since it is Sunday night (for me at least) I thought I would share a verse that I am using as an inspiration to help motivate me to "Be All That I Can Be" this week:

Proverbs 31:27 "She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness."

This was part of my Bible studies today and it struck a chord with me, maybe it will with you too.

Now, a recipe!

Granola Bars

They are supposed to taste just like Quaker Chewy Granola bars! No joke. Also, these are no bake. YAY for that, I love things I can make in the summer for snacks and not heat the whole house up. I have these bookmarked and will be making them this week. I'll take pictures and share it with you.

Have a wonderful week, I have some good recipes to share with you :)