Monday, February 27, 2012

Bread Machine English Muffin Bread

A light and tasty bread made right in the bread machine!

I know I don't take advantage of my bread machine too often but this time I was determined to make it work for me and we were very happy with the results.  Yeasty breads sometimes scare me because I don't want to spend that much time in the kitchen kneading, waiting, kneading some more, baking and finally getting to taste.  I was excited to find a recipe where I could let the bread machine do all the work and I was "wowed" by how large the loaf turned out to be.  Despite me telling a certain toddler not to open the lid and me having to open the lid to sprinkle in some cornmeal.

I was going to eat this with some peach honey but couldn't get the jar open so I opted for some plain old peanut butter.  It made for a delicious afternoon snack. 

If you don't have a bread machine, there is a DIY version available.  Check out my source below!

Bread Machine English Muffin Bread
(click for printable)

1 teaspoon vinegar

1/2 cup water
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons butter or vegetable oil
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3 1/2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast

Program your machine for basic white bread, light crust. During second rise, sprinkle cornmeal on top of the loaf.  Let it continue to rise and bake.

Source: King Arthur Flour

Thursday, February 23, 2012

19 Months

On Sunday, Hunter turned 19 months and we captured a few photos of him before we headed out of town on a mini vacation.

This little guy has absolutely AMAZED us this past month.  My sister clued me in to the fact that it's our responsibility as his parents to teach him what he needs to know and not rely on school mainly so he could know his letters, colors, etc.  Some parents are saying "Duh" but for me, being a first time mom, I didn't know!

I decided I would buy flash cards and introduce them and see how it went.  I bought some with colors and shapes and another set with letters.  I keep a set in the bathroom and whenever he's in the bathtub we go over them.  But only because he points to them and says, "More."  After a day at work sometimes my brain doesn't want to be in teaching mode, but I give in because he asks for them.  I guess it's like a game to him which he loves.

Let me tell you that our little man knows most of his colors, his numbers, and letters now.  We will be stopped at a stop sign and he'll say, "8" and sure enough I'll look over and that number will be on a telephone pole.  If he's wearing a shirt with the letters on it, he'll tell you what they are.  He still asks us every day what stuff is.  He's super curious about the world around him.

And to top it off, he sometimes puts himself in time out.  Korey will tell him no for something he did, and he'll say "T'm out" and he'll go sit down in the corner without being told.  Crazy.

Whenever we're in his room, he'll say, "Book" so I will sit down with him to read.

We're reading "Chicka Chicka Boom Boom" which has the letters of the alphabet in it and I'm asking him what the letters are.

Then he asks me what some of the lowercase letters are.
I think he's asking me what the coconut is called.  I wonder how soon he'll be reading?!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Instant Oatmeal

We all know oatmeal is heart healthy and makes for a filling breakfast.  Did you know you don't have to stand over the stove cooking boring oatmeal when you need to be rushing out the door for work?  Yes, it's your dream come true.
For those of you who need something easy to take to work with you for breakfast, this is it!  You can prep this the night before, let it "marinate", and then heat it up when you get to your final destination.  Easy and healthy!

Instant Oatmeal

One mason jar or leakproof container
1/2 cup old fashioned oats
Handful of cranberries
Handful of almonds
1 to 2 T brown sugar (optional since the dried fruit gives you sweetness)
3/4 cup milk (you can adjust depending on how creamy you want your oatmeal)

Mix all of the ingredients together in a leakproof container the night before and refrigerate.  The following morning the oats will have absorbed the liquid.  Grab the container, head to your destination and spoon out all or some into a bowl and heat in the microwave.

Inspired by Oh She Glows

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Spicy Shredded Slow Cooker Pork

Mmmm...this meat had heat!  Mexican pork made in the slow cooker!

And it was all due to an experiment from what was in my pantry.  When it was finished cooking, Korey and I took turns taking a bite to test it out and were amazed at how spicy it was.  But not too hot.  Just the right amount of kick to make your nachos, enchiladas, or tacos a hit.  We made nachos using this meat and I even topped them off with some plain greek yogurt which cooled down the spice a bit.

You'll notice this picture doesn't include tortillas, taco shells, or tortilla chips.  This is to show you that you can use this pork in whatever Mexican dish you want.  Korey even ate it on a sandwich.

Spicy Shredded Slow Cooker Pork
(click for printable)

1 pork roast or pork butt
1 can red enchilada sauce
1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, chopped
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin

Place pork roast in slow cooker on low heat.  Add in enchilada sauce, chipotle pepper, and spices.  Cook on low heat for 5 hours.  Shred meat with a fork and use in your favorite Mexican dish.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Peanut Butter Heart Cookies

Need a quick Valentine's dessert?  These are two ingredient cookies!

I had seen this floating around on Pinterest...using Dove heart-shaped chocolates with peanut butter cookie dough to make cookies.  I decided to take it one step further and use my heart-shaped cookie cutter on the dough.  Super simple and tasty!

Peanut Butter Heart Cookies

1 batch of peanut butter cookie dough or store bought
1 pkg Dove heart-shaped chocolates
Heart-shaped cookie cutters

Preheat oven to 350.  Pinch a ball of dough and press flat on a greased cookie sheet.  Press cookie cutter over it and tear off the edges.  Repeat until all the dough is used.  Bake for 10-12 min or according to package directions.  Remove from oven and immediately press a chocolate into the center of the cookie.  Let cool and enjoy!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Frozen Nutella Pie

No bake Nutella pie that is cold and creamy like ice cream and simple enough to make that I must tell you about it.

I recently discovered the amazingness of Nutella.  When I spent a summer in Australia it was popular there.  But for whatever reason I never tried it.  It's popular here in the US, too.  Even though I've seen commercials about it I still hadn't tried it.  Just a couple of weeks ago I purchased a jar.  I spread it on toast for breakfast.  It was way too sweet for my breakfast tastebuds so I put it aside.

Then one evening I was craving chocolate.  My eye spotted animal crackers in the pantry and I decided I needed to dip them in Nutella.  Korey found me out and joined me in my discovery.  Together we enjoyed the awesomeness of "cracktella."

But then something bad happened.  I decided I needed to get rid of the Nutella in my house because it was too good to keep around.  "Aha," I thought.  I'll make a pie with it.  But not just any pie.  A no bake, frozen pie.  How could I resist?

Frozen Nutella Pie
(click for printable)

1 graham cracker pie crust
1 8oz pkg cream cheese
1/2 to 1 cup Nutella
8 oz Cool Whip
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 cup milk

Beat cream cheese until soft and fluffy.  Then beat in nutella and powdered sugar.  Slowly add in milk blending thoroughly.  Fold in cool whip with spatula.  Pour into pie crust and freeze for two hours.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Cold Day at the Park

On Saturday we had absolutely nothing planned.  This is rare in our house.  Well, for me it is.  We took a break in the afternoon and took Hunter to the park.  It was cold.  And super windy.

This boy loves to climb.  At home we catch him trying to climb on everything. 

We brought along some bubbles because this is his new favorite activity.  The wind made it a little challenging.  We were trying to get some shelter from the wind on the side of the building. 

The little dude doesn't full out run yet which is good but he tries.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Avocado Salad with Homemade Balsamic Dressing

Creamy avocados, sweet cranberries, crunchy walnuts, crumbled feta, diced tomatoes, and homemade balsamic dressing all combined in a delicious salad!

Do you need something light to eat after the Super Bowl?  I do.

Would you believe that I actually started craving this salad?  I pictured it in my mind and I had to have it.  I don't know what made me crave it.  I didn't even add chicken to it which you can but it was filling as is.  I stopped at the store and purchased all the ingredients, intent on making it that night.  To top it off, my grocery store had avocados on sale.

The true winner is the homemade balsamic dressing.  It is super simple to make.  Just a couple of ingredients poured into a jar.  Shake it up and pour it on this salad.

(click for printable)

Hearts of Romaine lettuce, diced
1 avocado, diced
1 Roma tomato, diced
Crumbled feta

Combine all ingredients and serve with the balsamic dressing.

(click for printable)

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
3/4 cup olive oil
1 T brown sugar
2 small cloves minced garlic

Pour all the ingredients into a glass jar.  Cap with the lid and shake vigorously until ingredients are combined.  Store in the refrigerator.

Dressing recipe adapted from Emeril

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Turkey Noodle Soup

Roasted turkey, carrots, celery and pasta all combined together for a light, but hearty soup.

At the end of January, I realized that I needed to make a decision about the huge frozen turkey I had stashed away in my freezer after the holidays.  My mom happened to be there that day so she offered to roast it for me.  Since our house had been undergoing lots of sickness, I knew Turkey Noodle Soup would be the perfect remedy.

For me, this recipe was really a pantry meal.  I happened to already have carrots and celery on hand.  Add in the roasted turkey and some pasta and it became the perfect meal.

Turkey Noodle Soup
(click for printable)

8 cups water or chicken broth
4 cups shredded, roasted turkey
3 carrots, diced
3 celery stalks, diced
2 cups cooked pasta (I used leftover sliced lasagna noodles)
Italian Seasoning

Bring 8 cups water to a boil.  Add in turkey, diced carrots and celery.  Add in 2T Italian seasoning, 1T salt (might need more or less depending on whether or not you used chicken broth), 2tsp pepper.   Let simmer over low heat for an hour until carrots and celery are soft.  Add in cooked pasta and adjust the seasonings as needed.  Let simmer for another 30 min on low.  Serve with crackers and enjoy.