Friday, June 29, 2012

Handmade Gift Exchange

Does anyone remember when I did this gift exchange last year? No? Well let me remind you!
There's this craft blog I follow, see. It's called Craftaholics Anonymous and twice a year, the amazing Linda hosts a handmade gift exchange! Now, i'm not SUPER crafty, but I try sometimes.
This year I was asked to make and send a gift to the awesome Michaela over at Covered in Mod Podge (talk about intimidating for a newbie crafter like me!). She mentioned that she liked blues and greens and after checking out her Pinterest, I saw that she'd pinned quite a few wreaths. I'm not very original, so after seeing this pin, I knew that's what I wanted to make.

I hope she loves it!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Basic Buttercream Frosting

Need a quick, easy, no-fuss no-muss frosting? Well here you go! No need for fancy ingredients, techniques, or what have you. Just your basic spread-it-on-the-cake frosting.
The best part about this is that it is REALLY versatile. By adding only one or two extra ingredients, you can make ay flavor you like!

Basic Buttercream Frosting

Powdered Sugar
Softened, or room temperature, Butter
Grab your mixer and start out with about 3 cups of powdered sugar (which is about 1 lb, or half a regular 2 lb bag of powdered sugar), and then toss in 2 sticks of butter.
Using the whisk attachment, turn your mixer on low until everything is combined. You'll probably need to scrape down the sides a few times. Then you can ramp up the speed to medium and let it beat for a couple minutes. If it's too dry, add some more butter (or a little bit of milk or cream). If it's too wet, add some more powdered sugar. I like mine on the thick, dense side.
There you have it! Super basic buttercream frosting. Frost your goodies and enjoy!

BUT, let's get to the good stuff. Flavors!
If you want to flavor your frosting, add in your flavoring before you mix. Examples:

-To ramp up the regular buttercream flavor, simply add 1 tsp of pure vanilla extract
-Lemon frosting (my FAVORITE) can be made by adding the zest of one lemon and even a tsp or two of lemon juice if you like.
-Actually, you can make just about any citrus frosting by adding some of their zest and fresh juice, like orange, grapefruit, lime, etc. . .
-Add 1-2 tsp of peppermint extract for peppermint frosting, which is especially great during the holiday season.
-Experiment with any other extracts you like, such as almond, hazelnut, or coconut.
-Fruit purees are also great additions! Whiz up some fresh strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, bananas. . . the possibilities are endless! Just remember when adding more liquid (by way of a puree) you may need more powdered sugar.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Pantry Challenge: Week 2

So, here I am at the end of week one and it went really well!Sorry I didn't post yesterday. I always get sidetracked when family is in town. :)
I didn't spend any more on groceries during the week, despite REALLY wanting to run to the store a few times for miscellaneous items.
My only deviation from the plan was the weekend.
I wasn't really in a casserole kind of mood on Saturday, so instead we had chicken tenders and baked BBQ potato wedges. I was hoping to post the potato wedges recipe, but they really didn't turn out as well as i'd hoped. I'm thinking the cooking time was off, so i'll try again later this week and if they turn out great, i'll share the recipe. :)
Sunday, I was all set to make my chicken tacos, but then I got a phone call from my mother that her and my father would be visiting the next day (Monday), and I decided that I would rather just have a little Mexican buffet sort of thing for dinner with them.
In place of tacos, we had grilled cheese sandwiches.

In case you missed it, I DID share a recipe this last week!
"Revolutionary" Pizza Dough that I used for homemade pizza from the pantry challenge.

Now, for this weeks menu:

Monday- Mexican buffet! Make your own tacos and burritos.

Tuesday- Bagel pizzas with a side of spaghetti squash. Apple juice to drink.

Wednesday- Pot Roast with carrots and potatoes and a side of Honey Whole Wheat Rolls. Milk to drink.

Thursday- Penne and meat sauce with Artisan Bread. Lemonade to drink.      

Friday- Out to eat.

Saturday- Unsure. We have family plans during the day so we'll see what happens around dinnertime.

Sunday-  BFD, breakfast for dinner. Waffles with a side of sausage, eggs, nectarine slices, and smoothies to drink.

Money spent for the week:

Smith's- $25.45
  • 3 boxes of Kool-Aid Jammers juice pouches ($0.41 each after clearance and coupon!!!)
  • 3 boxes Capri Sun juice pouches ($0.68 each after clearance and coupon!!!)
  • 3 bottles Ken's salad dressing ($0.50 each!)
  • 1 Knorr Rice Mix- Mexican style
  • 1 box Kraft Mac n' Cheese
  • 1 can Black Beans
  • 1 tub of Butter Spread
  • 1 tub of Sour Cream
  • 1 lb Ground Beef
  • 1 bottle Santa Cruz Lemonade
  • 1 bottle Hansen's Natural Apple Juice
  • 1 carton organic Beef Broth
  • 2 Avocados
  • 1 bag of Bagels
  • 1 Red Onion
Total spent so far: $96.59
Budget remaining: $53.41

The rice mix, black beans, sour cream, avocados, and red onion were all for dinner with my parents last night. I wasn't planning on purchasing them, so I spent a little more this week than I wanted, but my mom was at the store with me and purchased a chuck roast for me, so it evens out. :)
Of course, unexpected clearance and manager's special finds also tend to get the best of me, as proven by the 6 boxes of juice pouches.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

"Revolutionary" Pizza Dough

About three years ago, I received a recipe for pizza dough from a church activity that was called "revolutionary." I tucked it away into my recipe binder to try it soon, and now three years later, I have finally made the recipe. Talk about procrastination, right?
This dough came together SO quickly and I love that it uses whole wheat flour along with white flour.

"Revolutionary" Pizza Dough
Printable Recipe

1 Cup Warm Water
1 Tbsp Active-Dry Yeast
1/2 tsp Sugar
1 tsp Salt
1 Tbsp Vegetable Oil
1 1/4 Cup All-Purpose Flour
1 1/4 Cup Whole Wheat Flour

Add the yeast to the warm water and let it dissolve and bubble for about 10 minutes. Then, add your sugar, oil, and salt. Mix it up a bit.
 Oops! Forgot to include the whole wheat stuff in my ingredients pictures. Grab your flour!
 Add one cup of each, white and wheat, to your wet ingredients and mix it up as best you can.
 Once you've incorporated the flour, dump the dough out onto a floured surface.
Now you're going to knead in the last 1/2 cup of flour and just knead away until nothing is sticky and you have a nice ball of dough, about 5 minutes.
I just left it right there on the counter and covered it with a towel to rise. You only need to let it rise for 15 minutes! During that time, you can start pre-heating your oven to 400 degrees.
Now, roll out your pizza dough. Make a circle, a rectangle, or what have you. See my sweet new rolling pin?! Well, new to me. It's vintage from the 50's!
 Crimp up the edges to form the crust. Gotta make sure all the toppings don't fall off the side!
My pizza stone is currently covered in baked-on cheese (we had a calzone explosion) and i'm having a tough time cleaning it off, so i'm just using a baking pan here. You should probably spray it with some pam or sprinkle with cornmeal. I didn't and half my crust stuck to the pan!
 Cover it with your desired topping! We went for a simple sauce and cheese combo.
 Bake it at 400 for about 10-12 minutes, or until your cheese looks scrumptious. Enjoy!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Pantry Challenge

I'm doing a pantry challenge!
Last year, I did one for the month of August and it was great! I posted about it each week on my personal family blog, which was so great because it definitely held me more accountable.
For that challenge, I limited my budget to only $100 for the whole month (crazy!) and ended up going over by about $50.
This time around, i've set my budget at $150 to spend on groceries between June 18th and July 16th.
I am also budgeting $50 for "eating out" because, well, sometimes this pregnant woman just can't resist an In-N-Out cheeseburger or bran muffin from Mimi's Cafe.

*I won't list what's on the menu for breakfast and lunch each day. We each kind of do our own thing for those meals. Breakfast is almost always cereal for me and the hubs and oatmeal with honey for the little one.  Brad buys lunch at work almost everyday and Katie and I just scrounge around the kitchen*

Here we go!

Pantry Challenge: Week 1 June 18th-June 24th

Meal Plan:

Monday- Rotini with red sauce with a side of garlic toast, and red and green grapes. Water to drink.

Tuesday- Hot dogs with a side of potato chips and carrot sticks. Milk to drink.

Wednesday- Homemade cheese pizza with a side salad and cantaloupe. Water to drink.

Thursday- Quesadillas, bean, corn, and cheese for me, chicken and cheese for Brad, with salsa and sour cream. Milk to drink.

Friday- Out to eat?

Saturday- Chicken and corn casserole over rice with fruit/veggie from Bountiful Basket on the side. Milk to drink.

Sunday- Chicken Tacos with fruit from Bountiful Basket on the side. Water to drink.

Money spent for the week:

Bountiful Basket- $47.50
  • 1 conventional basket full of half fruits/half veggies
  • 1 Mexican theme add-on pack, with garlic, jalapeno, cilantro, lime, yellow onion, green onions, grey squash, avocado and tomatillo
  • 7 dozen tortillas, which includes 5 dozen flour and 2 dozen corn
  • 5 loaves organic 9-grain bread
Smith's- $23.64 after coupons
  • 6 gallons of milk (at only $1.25 a gallon!!!)
  • 1 package of hot dog buns
  • 1 cantaloupe
  • 2 lbs of cheddar cheese
  • 1 head of lettuce
  • 1 tub of butter spread
  • 1 can of cat food (I had a free coupon)
  • 2 boxes Mac n' Cheese (impulse buy by the husband)
  • 1 4-pack Ocean Spray Sparkling Juice
  • 1 package of salami (another husband impulse buy)
Total spent so far:  $71.14
Budget remaining: $78.76

I'm not too concerned that half my budget is gone already, because I am stocked up on milk for more than the rest of the month, as well as cheese. My bountiful basket purchase will also keep me stocked on fruits and veggies for about 2 weeks, as well as enough bread for the rest of the month and enough tortillas to last a LONG time.

June Update

Why hello there, blogland! I've been pretty MIA lately. Have I mentioned that i'm pregnant? I have? Ok, good. Because it's a perfectly valid excuse. :)
Not to mention the three weddings within a month's time, my daughter's birthday, a camping trip, a week in California, and the time where I ate In-N-Out three times in one week because that is all the baby in my belly wanted to eat!

I'm here to just give a quick little update on what will be happening around here in the next couple of months. I won't be promising to post with a lot of consistency, but I DO plan on posting more often than I have been, and I've got a few ideas to share.

  • While the month is almost over, i've decided to start a pantry challenge. I did one last August, posting on my family blog, and it went really well. It's about that time again, where the cans on the back of the shelves are getting a little old and the cash flow is getting tight (insert pregnancy excuse again here). I hope, hope being the key word here, to post my menu plan once a week and at least one recipe from that menu plan during the week. I'll post more about the rules and budget in another post.
  • Easier recipes. I'm not saying my recipes now are difficult. What I mean by easier recipes is that I want to post more of the basic things. I realize a lot of people probably already know how to make mashed potatoes or buttercream frosting, but many people don't. When I first started cooking, I felt silly and sad having to search on google for things like "how to cook corn on the cob" and "cooking broccoli" but everyone has to start somewhere! I want my blog to be one of those resources for people who are starting out or who just need a quick reminder on how to make a simple pasta sauce.
  • Another hope: To at least once a month post a "Pinterest recipe." Something that i've pinned on Pinterest, and then tried out in real life. This is mostly to help narrow down my pin boards. :D
  • Upcoming posts:
    • Simple, versatile, Buttercream Frosting
    • My husband's favorite Banana Bread
    • Pantry Challenge
    • Freezer Jam
    • Fried, Smashed Potatoes (This one is only in the idea stage)
    • Homemade Gift Exchange (Remember this post?)

I've also acquired some amazingly cute kitchen stuff lately that I need to share with you all! When I find my camera charger, that is.

Ok, that's all for now! Thanks to everyone who is so patient. I know this is just a cooking blog, and just a side hobby for me, but it's been so fun to accomplish what I have so far and I appreciate everyone who takes the time to peek into my kitchen. :)
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