Monday, October 24, 2011

Italiano night!

Garlic-Herb Bread

4 to 4-1/2 cups all purpose flour
3 tbsp. sugar
2 packages (1/4 oz. each) quick rise yeast
2 tsp. dried basil
1-3/4 tsp. dill weed
1-1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. garlic powder
3/4 tsp. dried rosemary, crushed
3/4 cup 2% milk
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup butter, cubed
1 egg
1 tbsp. butter, melted

In a large bowl, combine 1-1/2 cups flour, sugar, yeast, and seasonings. In a small saucepan, heat the milk, water, and cubed butter to 120-130 degrees. Add to dry ingredients, beat just until moistened. Add egg, beat until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough.

Turn onto a floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 4-6 minutes. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes.

Divide dough into thirds. Shape each into a 15 in. rope. Place ropes on a greased baking sheet and braid; pinch ends to seal and tuck under. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 25 minutes.

Bake at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Brush with melted butter. Remove from pan to a wire rack.

Spinach and Basil Lasagna

9 lasagna noodles
10 oz chopped frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 3/4 cup ricotta cheese
1 large egg
1/2 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper
1 TBSP olive oil
1 TBSP butter
2 cups diced onion
1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
dash of crushed red pepper flakes
8 ounces of button mushrooms, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 TBSP all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 1/2 cups Half & Half
3/4 cup plus 2 TBSP basil pesto
12 oz mozzarella cheese (I used slices)
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray an 8" X 11 1/2" baking dish with cooking spray.

In a separate baking dish place lasagna noodles and cover with boiling water. Let sit for 15 minutes while making the sauce.

In a medium size mixing bowl, combine the spinach, ricotta cheese, garlic powder and egg. Season well with salt and pepper. Set aside.

In a large skillet heat olive oil and butter over medium heat. Add the onions and bell pepper, season with salt, pepper and crushed red pepper flakes and saute until onions are translucent, 6-7 minutes. Add the mushrooms and continue to saute until mushrooms lose their moisture, another 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic and saute for another minute or two. Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables and stir to combine. Continue cooking and stirring over medium heat for two minutes. Add the milk and half & half, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 4-5 minutes until sauce has thickened a bit. Remove from heat and stir in 3/4 cup pesto. Taste to see if salt and pepper are needed.

Drain lasagna noodles.

Spoon 2 TBSP of the pesto on the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Lay three noodles on top of the pesto. Top with 1/3 of the basil cream sauce (about 1 1/2 cups) and spread to cover noodles. Dollop 1/3 of the ricotta mixture on top of the sauce, then top the ricotta with 1/3 of the cheese slices. Repeat layers two more times. Sprinkle parmesan cheese over the top. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and place dish in oven. Bake for 25 minutes, uncover, then bake for another 25 minutes, until bubbly and browned. Let dish sit for 10-15 minutes before serving.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

P.F. Chang's??

NOPE! Its even BETTER!

Mongolian Beef

4 tsp. vegetable oil
2 tsp. ginger, minced
2 Tbsp. garlic, minced
1 c. soy sauce
1 c. water
1 c. brown sugar (packed)
2 c. vegetable oil
2 Lb. flank steaks
½ c. cornstarch
3 large green onions

Make the sauce by heating 4 tsp. vegetable oil in a medium saucepan over medium/low heat. Don’t get the oil too hot. Add ginger and garlic to the pan and quickly add the soy sauce and water before the garlic scorches. Dissolve the brown sugar in the sauce, then raise the heat to medium and boil the sauce 2-3 minutes or until sauce thickens a little bit. Remove sauce from heat.

Slice the flank steak against the grain into 1/4 inch slices. Tilt the blade of your knife at about a 45 degree angle to the top of the steak so you get wider cuts. Dip the steak pieces into cornstarch to apply a very thin dusting to both sides of each piece of beef. Let the beef sit about 10 min. so the cornstarch sticks. As the beef sits, heat up 1 c. oil in a wok (or skillet). Heat the oil over medium heat until its hot, but not smoking. Add the beef to the oil and saute for just 2 minutes, or until beef just begins to darken on the edges. Stir the meat around a little bit so that it cooks evenly.

After a few minutes, use a large slotted spoon to take the meat out and onto paper towels, then pour most of the oil out of the skillet. Put the pan back over the heat, dump the meat back into it and stir-fry for 1 minute. Add the sauce, cook for 1 minute while stirring and add green onions. Cook for 1 more minute. Now at this point you can either remove the beef with a slotted spoon or tongs and discard the sauce (this is what P.F. Chang's does) OR thicken the sauce with a cornstarch-water mixture to desired thickness and serve it over rice with the beef.

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Best Banana Bread EVER.

This turned out AMAZING! I had an issue with the center not being cooked all the way so I ended up keeping it in the oven for a little bit too long so the edges were a little overcooked, not bad though =] I would just recommend letting it be a little bit under cooked in the center to keep the edges less dry! Overall though its super moist and if you keep the bananas a little chunky it turns out even better.

  • The best banana bread ever!

  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup mashed bananas
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Cinnamon Spread
1 package cream cheese, softened (8 oz)
3 tbsp. confectioners sugar
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Spray one 9x5 inch loaf pan with non-stick spray coating.
  2. Blend together the eggs, buttermilk, oil and bananas.
  3. Sift together the sugar, flour, baking soda and salt. Add to banana mixture and mix well.
  4. Pour into prepared loaf pan and bake 1 hour and 20 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
  5. Combine cinnamon spread ingredients until smooth. (MAKE THIS! SO DELISH!)

Simple Chicken Pot Pie

  • 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast halves - cubed
  • 1 cup sliced carrots
  • 1 cup frozen green peas
  • 1/2 cup sliced celery
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1/3 cup chopped onion
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1 3/4 cups chicken broth
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 2 (9 inch) unbaked pie crusts

  • 1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C.)
  • 2. In a saucepan, combine chicken, carrots, peas, and celery. Add water to cover and boil for 15 minutes. Remove from heat, drain and set aside.
  • 3. In the saucepan over medium heat, cook onions in butter until soft and translucent. Stir in flour, salt, pepper, and celery seed. Slowly stir in chicken broth and milk. Simmer over medium-low heat until thick. Remove from heat and set aside.
  • 4. Place the chicken mixture in bottom pie crust. Pour hot liquid mixture over. Cover with top crust, seal edges, and cut away excess dough. Make several small slits in the top to allow steam to escape.
  • 5. Bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or until pastry is golden brown and filling is bubbly. Cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Ginger Creme Sandwich Cookies

I Finally get to eat! My goodness, I wasn't expecting that fast to be as hard as it was. It taught me so much though. I realized that we are CRAZY! We think we are starving after not eating for a few hours, but in reality, we are NOT starving at all! My ultimate goal was to get through 2 weeks of not eating but once I started hitting 105 lbs. and I was so irritable I could just rip Joel's head off every time he spoke, I knew I needed to stop LOL. A lot of it was my mental attitude about it too, all I could think about was eating, all day long, so I think I should have gone about it differently, the whole point was to not focus on it at all, lessons learned for the future! Food is a gift from God that's for sure. We are so lucky we get to eat all of the yummy foods we get to eat every day, day in and day out. I thought about people in 3rd world countries that don't get to eat practically anything, and the malnourished children that are just skin and bones. I could barely make it through a week without having a tantrum and freaking out wanting to break down, my heart goes out to the people in the world that struggle daily with these issues. So on a happy note... This morning I woke up and made a delicious egg, cheese, and avocado sandwich; then continued making these yummy ginger creme sandwich cookies! ...And here's the recipe!

Ginger Creme Sandwich Cookies

3/4 cup shortening
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup molasses
2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3 tsp. ground ginger
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup sugar

1 package (3 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup butter, softened
2 tsp. lemon extract
2 cups confectioners sugar
1 tsp. vanilla exract

In a large bowl, creme shortening and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and molasses. In a separate bowl, combine the flour baking soda, cinnamon and salt (In my directions they didn't say "in a separate bowl" so I ended up doing it the hard way adding everything to the large bowl); gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well.

Mixture will be crumbly (atleast thats how mine turned out). Cover and refrigerate overnight. (Also, at this point the mixture smells like sweet potatoes, but I promise they turn out yummy and dont smell like that at all!)

Shape into 1-in. balls; roll in sugar. Place 2 in. apart on ungreased baking sheets. Flatten with a fork, forming a crisscross pattern.

Bake at 375 degrees for 8-10 minutes (I did 8 and they turned out perfect, do NOT overbake). Remove to wire racks to cool.

In a small bowl, combine filling ingredients untill smooth.

Spread over the bottoms of half of the cookies; top with remaining cookies. Store in refrigerator. 

Friday, October 14, 2011

Spiritual Fast

             It has been such a long time since I have felt this longing to feel God's presence again. Back when I went to Hume Lake my whole world changed and I felt God then, more than I have ever felt him before. It gets so hard to live a life pleasing to God when the world is so screwed up. It's easy to feel God wrapping his arms around you when you are surrounded by goodness and natural beauty up in that mountain. Finding a way to feel that same thing in the midst of the ugliness of the world today is what God wants from us.
           I find myself getting lost in worldly things and it is so frustrating! Being a lukewarm Christian is not what I want for my life. It is not what I want for my kids one day. I want to grow in God daily so that when we do have children, we will be able to have that goodness found at Hume Lake, in our own home. I want to have a home that is welcoming and wholesome with all the love in the world. A place my kids can come to to be built back up when the world tries to bring them down.
             For the past few days I have all of a sudden been intrigued by fasting. I have never actually done it, I might have tried to do it once before, but I didn't succeed with it. And I realize now, that the reason I didn't succeed, was because I wasn't actually doing it to become closer to God, I did it because it seemed like it was "the right thing to do" or "if I didn't do it I would look like a bad person". Now, I feel like I am turning a page in my life, ready to tackle the world. My desire to have a relationship with God is so extreme I feel like I really can do this. I am going to go on a fast for the next 1-2 weeks (depending on my health of course), with no food, only water, certain tea's, and JUICE with my new juicer =] 
I know this wont be easy, by any means. It's only day one and my body is already feeling it, tired, "starving", and anxious. I just know that it will be worth it. I just need to pray. pray, pray and keep it to myself. This is something I am sure I will struggle with because I have always been one to express how I am feeling, especially if its being hungry! But this verse is something I will have to keep reminding myself of and hopefully I will be able to go throughout my days not complaining! After all.... this isn't about me.

"When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you" (Matthew 6:16-18)

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Time to carve those pumpkins!

A few days ago my hunny and I went pumpkin searching! We went to a local churches pumpkin patch and had so much fun finding the perfect pumpkins =] Today when Joel got home we couldn't wait any longer to eat pumpkin seeds so we carved into our pumpkins and baked away! Years before we usually just salted our seeds, this year we changed it up and put sugar and cinnamon on them and it is delicious! I highly recommend them =]


 ....then he found the perfect one, and they lived happily ever after ;]

I really know how to pick em lol

Totally honest.... this cider is not very good, I had cider from some kitchen store and it was amazing... havent found any quite like it again =[

Cinnamon and sugar.... the way to go!

They are extravagant. I know. haha told you we were more excited to make the seeds!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Whats Cookin Good Lookin??

I so wish I took a picture of the before and after for this project because I am totally proud of project #2 =] Started off as a broken white board and I turned it into my very own chalkboard menu! I managed to get Joel to do a little spray painting with me too! Im not gonna lie by the time I was done making this thing I was SICK of painting but it was all worth it! 

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Iced Pumpkin Cookies

1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup each sugar and  packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1-1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. each baking powder and ground ginger
1/2 tsp. each salt, baking soda, and ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1 cup granola without raisins
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
1 cup vanilla or white chips
1 cup dried cranberries (optional)

1/4 cup butter, softened
2 cups confectioners' sugar
3 tbsp. milk

In large bowl, cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy

Beat in egg and pumpkin

Combine the flours, cinnamon, baking powder, ginger, salt, baking soda, nutmeg, and cloves; gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well.

Stir in the granola and chips (Also walnuts and cranberries if you choose to use them, I chose not to this time, but I'm sure its good either way!)

Drop by tablespoonfuls 2 in. apart onto greased baking sheets. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-18 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove to wire racks to cool.

In a small bowl, combine icing ingredients until smooth. Spread over cooled cookies.

Store in refrigerator, and ENJOY! 

The Joys of Autumn =]

Tis' the season to be COZY! I lovee when the temperatures start decreasing and it gets time to snuggle up in blankets with all the yummy warm foods of the fall season! The end of the year is the most amazing time! I wish we had family around to spend the holidays with, but we will make do with what we got with good friends =] COME VISIT US ;]

Time to change out the centerpiece!

Apple Butter Pumpkin Pie
1 cup apple butter
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 tsp. each ground cinnamon and ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
3 eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 cup evaporated milk
whipped cream, optional

In a large bowl combine the apple butter, pumpkin, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and ginger.

Add eggs. Gradually beat in milk until smooth. Pour into pastry shell.

Bake at 425 degrees for 35-40 minutes or until set (cover edges loosely with foil if necessary to prevent overbrowning)

Cool on a wire rack and WALA! Delicious!

Boo Boo's and Band aides!

Dear Squad leader Owens,
You give my love blisters, I give you a world of hurt! ;] I forgive you, just this once... I figured I'd capture this moment because one day, when our kids get boo boo's, Ill show them this and tell them if Daddy can do it, you can too ;] Touching.... I know.


Good ol' Peroxied ;]


All Better <3