Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Reusing Candle Jars

Reusing Candle Jars

Here's a way to reuse your Yankee Tumbler Candles: fill them with your favorite candies!  Or snacks!  Or whatever makes your heart happy.

Once you've burned through the life of your candle, stick it in the freezer.  Once it's frozen, use a knife to pop out the "leftover" candle wax.  It should come out pretty easily.

Peel off the label(s) and wash the container.

Dry and fill!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Cinnamon Rolls

Cinnamon Rolls

Makes about 40 rolls.

This Christmas, for the first time ever -- GASP!!! -- I made the Pioneer Woman's cinnamon rolls.  I konw, shame on me for not trying them earlier (or posting this earlier...).  I had HEARD how good they were.  I had HEARD they were the only cinnamon rolls I should make.  I had HEARD that EVERYONE was making them.  Why it took me so long, I'm not sure.  But, I must say, I'm glad I didn't wait another day.  These are fabulous.  Absolutely amazing.  Sorry, PW, I had to substitute the traditional cream cheese frosting that just screams (and completes) cinnamon rolls. 
Source: Pioneer Woman blog

1 quart Whole Milk
1 cup Vegetable Oil
1 cup Sugar
2 packages Active Dry Yeast, 0.25 Ounce Packets
8 cups (Plus 1 Cup Extra, Separated) All-purpose Flour
1 teaspoon (heaping) Baking Powder
1 teaspoon (scant) Baking Soda
1 Tablespoon (heaping) Salt
Plenty Of Melted Butter
2 cups Sugar
Generous Sprinkling Of Cinnamon

For the dough, heat the milk, vegetable oil, and sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat to just below a boil. Set aside and cool to warm. Sprinkle the yeast on top and let it sit on the milk for 1 minute.

Add 8 cups of the flour. Stir until just combined, then cover with a clean kitchen towel, and set aside in a relatively warm place for 1 hour. After 1 hour, remove the towel and add the baking powder, baking soda, salt, and the remaining 1 cup flour. Stir thoroughly to combine. Use the dough right away, or place in a mixing bowl and refrigerate for up to 3 days, punching down the dough if it rises to the top of the bowl. (Note: dough is easier to work with if it’s been chilled for at least an hour or so beforehand.)
Preheat the oven to 375°F.

To assemble the rolls, remove half the dough from the pan/bowl. On a floured baking surface, roll the dough into a large rectangle, about 30 x 10 inches. The dough should be rolled very thin.

To make the filling, pour 3/4 cup to 1 cup of the melted butter over the surface of the dough. Use your fingers to spread the butter evenly. Generously sprinkle half of the ground cinnamon and 1 cup of the sugar over the butter. Don’t be afraid to drizzle on more butter or more sugar! Gooey is the goal.

Now, beginning at the end farthest from you, roll the rectangle tightly towards you. Use both hands and work slowly, being careful to keep the roll tight. Don’t worry if the filling oozes as you work; that just means the rolls are going to be divine. When you reach the end, pinch the seam together and flip the roll so that the seam is face down. When you’re finished, you’ll wind up with one long buttery, cinnamony, sugary, gooey log.

Slip a cutting board underneath the roll and with a sharp knife, make 1/2-inch slices. One “log “will produce 20 to 25 rolls. Pour a couple of teaspoons of melted butter into disposable foil cake pans and swirl to coat. Place the sliced rolls in the pans, being careful not to overcrowd. (Each pan will hold 7 to 9 rolls.)

Repeat the rolling/sugar/butter process with the other half of the dough and more pans. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Cover all the pans with a kitchen towel and set aside to rise on the countertop for at least 20 minutes before baking. Remove the towel and bake for 15 to 18 minutes, until golden brown. Don’t allow the rolls to become overly brown.

(You can also freeze before baking.  They freeze very well.  Thaw overnight and bake as directed.)

Cream Cheese Frosting

1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
3 cups confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt

Beat cream cheese and butter in a mixing bowl.  Add in salt.  Slowly beat in confectioners' sugar until well blended.  Serve over warm cinnamon rolls.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Kroger Comforts for Baby

Kroger Comforts for Baby

I was pretty excited when this BzzKit arrived (another BzzAgent testing opportunity).  My how life has changed in that I get excited about wipes, sippy cups, and diapers.  Macey can't even use the sippy cups yet, but I'm still excited for when she can.  We've tried, and she understands the point of them, but the flow of liquid is still too fast for her. So I can't review those at this time.

The wipes...  I wasn't too impressed with the wipes.  They were extra thick, but surprisingly dry for their thickness.  You would expect a thicker wipe to be more moist, but these just seemed to be coarse and not flexible enough.  Wouldn't buy these again.  Even in a pinch, I think I'd try another brand.  It's hard to say that about something, but they just weren't impressive.

Look at these cute diapers:

Not bad looks for a store brand!  Upon taking them out of the package, they felt thinner than I was expecting.  I decided to try one as an overnight diaper.  And it held through -- even after an early bedtime (6:45pm - 7:45am) -- and her PJs were dry in the morning.  Yay!

I'd buy the diapers but pass on the wipes.  Can't wait to try the sippy cups in the future.  I love that they have a flippable lid that covers the spout.  Perfect for on-the-go cleanliness.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Reeses Peanut Butter Banana Bread

Reeses Peanut Butter Banana Bread

Makes 1 loaf.

Pinterest: Making banana bread that much better.  This won't replace my go-to banana breads: my long-time recipe and my "healthy" recipe, but it will definitely find its place in the rotation.
The original recipe calls for Mini Reese's Cups -- the ones you find near the chocolate chips in the baking aisle.  If you use my method, use the small foil-wrapped ones and cut each into four pieces.
Also, next time, I might reduce the oven to 325 halfway through and just extend the baking time if necessary.
Source: Cookies and Cups blog

3 very ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup oil
1 egg
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
8 oz bag of Reese’s Mini cups (Instead, I used 1 cup of quartered mini Reeses - the ones in the foil wrapping.  It's about 16 cut into fourths)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Grease your 8x4 loaf pan with butter or shortening.
In a medium bowl whisk together your flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt, set aside.
In a large bowl stir together your bananas, peanut butter, oil, egg and sugars.
Pour your dry ingredients into your wet ingredients and stir until just combined. Batter will be lumpy.
Fold in your Reese’s Mini cups and spread batter into prepared pan.
Bake for approx 1 hour or until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.
Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then loosen the edges of the pan with a knife and remove from loaf pan, transferring bread to a cooling rack.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Chicken Bacon Ranch Freezer Subs

Chicken Bacon Ranch Freezer Subs

Makes 6.

Remember this post?  Well here's another "recipe" to add to your box if you have found you (or your spouse!  or your kids!) likes having subs at-the-ready in the freezer.  The Mister seems to be pulling these faster out of the freezer than I can keep them in there!

6 hoagie buns
2 large chicken breasts (about 1 lb.), thinly sliced
6 slices Swiss cheese
12 slices cooked bacon
Ranch dressing

Assemble sandwiches by spliiting hoagie buns and topping with:
-sliced chicken
-Ranch dressing

Fold sandwiches closed, wrap in plastic wrap, and freeze for later use.
When ready to eat, remove from freezer and thaw in refrigerator before warming in oven.
If you are in a rush, you can also remove from the freezer and prepare using the defrost setting on your microwave.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Killer Garlic Bread

Killer Garlic Bread

Makes 12-16 "slices."

Here's some yum to accompany your pasta dish, a bowl of soup, or a big green salad.
Source: Shutterbean blog

Ciabatta loaf
1 stick salted butter
5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried dill
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
pinch cayenne pepper

Place the stick of butter and chopped garlic in a microwave safe bowl. Heat for about 1 minute in the microwave or until butter has completely melted. Put all of your dried herbs & garlic powder in with the butter and finish with a pinch of cayenne pepper. Let the mixture sit until it hardens up again. With a soft spatula, smear on each half of your bread with butter and put the loaf back together. Wrap with aluminum foil and bake in the oven at 350 for about 20 minutes. Turn the broiler on and toast the tops of the bread for about 2 minutes. Make sure they don't burn. Now you have your garlic bread. Be careful, it goes fast.  Make sure you get a few pieces before your company demolishes it all!

Monday, February 13, 2012

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender

Here's a book that I'm glad I read once, but wouldn't want to read again.  It intrigued me and pulled me in.  And I found that I really enjoyed reading it... in the sense that I looked forward to picking up the book and losing myself in the pages for a half hour here, twenty minutes there, ten minutes even, if I could.  But it was dark.  And depressing.  And made me feel kinda strange inside.  So would I recommend it?  Yes.  But read it on a sunny day, and only if you're looking for a little darkness.

Amazon review from Publishers Weekly:

Taking her very personal brand of pessimistic magical realism to new heights (or depths), Bender's second novel (following An Invisible Sign of My Own) careens splendidly through an obstacle course of pathological, fantastical neuroses. Bender's narrator is young, needy Rose Edelstein, who can literally taste the emotions of whoever prepares her food, giving her unwanted insight into other people's secret emotional lives—including her mother's, whose lemon cake betrays a deep dissatisfaction. Rose's father and brother also possess odd gifts, the implications of which Bender explores with a loving and detailed eye while following Rose from third grade through adulthood. Bender has been called a fabulist, but emerges as more a spelunker of the human soul; carefully burrowing through her characters' layered disorders and abilities, Bender plumbs an emotionally crippled family with power and authenticity. Though Rose's gift can seem superfluous at times, and Bender's gustative insights don't have the sensual potency readers might crave, this coming-of-age story makes a bittersweet dish, brimming with a zesty, beguiling talent.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Kir Royale

Kir Royale

Makes 1 drink.

Here's a fancy - yet very simple - champagne cocktail.  Chambord is a raspberry liqueur.
Source: Maran Illustrated Bartending

1 oz. Chambord
4 oz. champagne
maraschino cherry

Pour Chambord into a champange flute.  Top with champage and a maraschino cherry. 

Sip.  Enjoy. Repeat if desired.  :)

Monday, February 6, 2012

Pasta Bolognese

Pasta Bolognese

Serves 4-6.

Great meaty pasta dish!
Source: Taste and See That the Lord is Good: Promise Choir 2011 cookbook

1 box penne pasta
1 medium carrot
1 celery stalk
1 small onion
2 garlic cloves
1 T. olive oil
1 lb. ground beef
1 c. white wine
2 T. tomato paste
28-oz. can tomatoes or spaghetti sauce

Finely mince the vegetables.  Heat oil in a large Dutch oven, add processed or chopped vegetables, sweat until clear.

Add ground meat and cook, stirring well to break up meat.  Brown.
Add wine, bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally until all liquid is evaporated (20-30 minutes).
Stir in tomato paste, combine for one minute.

Add tomatoes, salt and pepper to taste.  Bring to a simmer and reduce heat to medium low, cooking for 15 minutes, or until thickened.

Serve over prepared pasta.