Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Being a Mom to ALL boys...

If you notice my profile pic, I have 4 kids, all boys to be exact! This statement for the most part, usually brings out a sense of fear or panic with other people. LOL! I'm really not sure why to be honest. We were at Sam's Club over the weekend and of course I hear the same comment over and over again, (you can visibly see their lips move while counting my sweet boys!), WOW you have all boys, 4 boys! Boy do you have your hands full! This isn't a rare statement, it's a constant one. I'm used to it. I've tried to think of something clever to say back (I'm not good on witty comebacks), but I usually say the old stand by, yes, all boys and I love having all boys, I'm thankful that I do! This brings an even bigger shock to their faces! Last weekend the cashier said, "Really? You're the very first Mom that's ever said that to me!". I find that to be very sad.

To be honest, the biggest sympathy comes from Mom's that have 2 girls and then their 3rd child is a boy. I can almost tell immediately how many kids they have and what gender and birth order they are just from their Mom's comments! It's true! Of course you get the statement if my son was my first I wouldn't have been able to handle anymore kids, I don't know how you do it! Some Mom's are joking, others are very serious! I've even joked to friends telling them they better watch out when their male child arrives. Boys are different than girls! You can tell the lovingly joking comments versus the mean ill willed ones! Or the awful, terrible comment, if he was my first then I wouldn't have had anymore kids! This one really bothers me! Not wanting a child because of it's gender! I cringe whenever I hear that and look down at the cute little face of their little boy standing next to them. You know that has to hurt! Kids understand way more than you think! They also are very intuitive on picking up on any negativity that we as Mom's may have!

Since I don't have any girl children to fully compare, all I can do is make assumptions. I assume my house is a lot louder than a house with all girls. I assume my house is alot more wilder and rowdier than a house with all girls. I assume my house is smellier than a house with all girls, (boys+exercise, need I say more?). I assume that my grocery bill will be double to triple the amount than a house with all girls. That's all I can make are assumptions. Good or bad, right or wrong.

Things that I know for a fact are that my 4 boys couldn't have been given to another Mother that loves them more and is truly and deeply thankful that they are all males! I know that my kids feel loved and very much appreciated, no matter their gender. They know that I don't sit around all sad and depressed why I didn't have a daughter. Instead I let them know how lucky I am that God blessed me with 4 amazing boys! I do consider that very lucky!! I also know that my bathrooms have to be a lot dirtier than a house of all girls, and no one can change my mind on that one, LOL!

As an added bonus, no one loves their Momma like a son :-)

Vicky (a very blessed Mommy!)

Sunday, January 29, 2012

HUGE Homemade Cinnamon Rolls-Step by Step Tutorial

I just love cinnamon rolls! But I just fix them a couple of times a year, because I would eat them all, LOL! These are the best Cinnamon Rolls I've ever had the pleasure of eating! Better than any store bought, even better than Cinnabon! They're really super easy to make, so don't let using yeast intimidate you! I found this recipe from allrecipes.com. I forgot to take a picture at the beginning, the idea of blogging about it didn't come until I dumped it out on my pastry mat and thought I should do a tutorial, so that's why it's late to the game! But everybody knows how to dump the ingredients into a bread machine and push start! I have included the important steps :-)

This Huge Cinnamon Roll was on top of my hand. I tried to think of a way to let you all know just how big they were!


1/4 cup warm water
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/2 (3.4 ounce) package instant vanilla pudding mix
1 cup warm milk
1 egg, room temperature
1 tablespoon white sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 cups bread flour
1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast (2 1/2 tsp)

1/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3/4 cup chopped pecans, optional

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


In the pan of your bread machine, combine water, melted butter, vanilla pudding, warm milk, egg, 1 tablespoon sugar, salt, bread flour and yeast. Set machine to Dough cycle; press Start.

When Dough cycle has finished, turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and roll into a 17x10 inch rectangle.

Spread with softened butter.
In a small bowl, stir together brown sugar, cinnamon and pecans. Sprinkle brown sugar mixture over dough.
Roll up dough, beginning with long side. *NOTE* I rolled mine on the short side to yield bigger rolls. If you want more rolls, then roll up from the long side.
Slice into 16 one inch slices and place in 9x13 buttered pan. Cover with clean kitchen towel Let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 45 minutes. You can see they've doubled in size
Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
Bake in preheated oven for 13-16 minutes. While rolls bake, stir together cream cheese, softened butter, confectioners' sugar, vanilla and milk. Remove rolls from oven and top with frosting.
You can just put a huge dollop of icing on the cinnamon rolls and it will melt perfectly on it's own!
Now enjoy your ooey, gooey, cinnamoney, gigantic cinnamon roll! It's sure to bring a huge smile to your face :-)

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

6 Ways to $ave Money on Groceries!

With a family of 6, which consists of 2 adults and 4 sons (ages: almost 12,9,3 and 5 1/2) I gave you the age they'll be in a short few months because that half a year matters with a boy and his stomach!! My oldest 2 sons already eat like a man, I kid you not! From the look of their slender bodies, you would never guess they have insatiable appetites! God bless exercise! Anyway, I have a monthly grocery budget of only $500, on a high month, and only $300 on a very low month (if we have unexpected expenses). So needless to say that's not very much money for a family of 6! First and foremost I want to say that we eat healthy, but not over board. I still allow my kids to have sweet treats but the sweet treats are always homemade with a handful of ingredients that I can totally pronounce and they are not a daily occurrence. Their daily snack consists of fresh fruits or veggies. If that's what you model for your children and always have it readily available, trust me, that's what they will eat! I don't buy Little Debbie, Hostess, or any other "junkfood" treats. If I don't bring it into the house, then guess what? They don't eat it, enough said!

#1 Buy in Bulk: Yes, you've all heard this a million times before, but you really do save. I buy all my herbs and spices in bulk. This comes in handy when you're cooking a lot from "scratch", also I never buy those little Taco seasoning mixes anymore, I make my own. Also I only buy the big blocks of cheeses, I'm talking about the 5 lb blocks! You can cut it in half and freeze the rest if you don't think you'll use it in time. Buying block cheese will require you to do without those little expensive bags of already shredded cheese! It will take a few minutes of work, but the end result will be freshly shredded/grated cheese that not only tastes better, but doesn't have the chemical that is included in those little bags for anti-caking. The less chemicals in your body, the better! All you need is a hand held box grater. Many years ago my husband found one at Goodwill for $.50! I see them there all the time! It's a super cheap investment, plus you can grate lemon/orange zest using one of the sides too! Also good for bulk buying is sugar (white & brown), flour (if you make homemade breads), check your ingredients on store bought breads, it's hard to find one without high fructose corn syrup in it and a host of 20 ingredients, make it yourself with 5 ingredients!), also buy butter, eggs, frozen vegetables and so on....

#2 Cook from Scratch, aka... HOMEMADE: Stay with me here, I felt a lot of you gasp or roll your eyes at that statement. You're thinking, sure, it's easy for a Stay-at-home-Mom to cook from scratch, but I just don't have the time since I work, right? WRONG! It only takes an extra minute or two to make homemade cookies from scratch and put them in the oven as it does to take them out of the freezer and open the package of frozen cookie dough! If you don't believe me, time yourself! Not only are you going to pay double for pre-packaged,or frozen, convenience foods, your health will be paying the price also! Just look at the ingredients of a roll of cookie dough? How many ingredients can you not even pronounce? Or look at that frozen lasagna? Does it really take 20 ingredients to make a lasagna? It may take a few minutes longer to cook from scratch, but it's well worth it. I make pizza sauce in huge amounts and freeze the rest, also spaghetti sauce. When you make one lasagna, just do 2 and throw the other one in the freezer for later, now that's a tasty homemade dish! On your day off, bake up tons of waffles and pancakes and freeze them. No one wants to do work on your day off, but believe me, if you're a Mom, then, you never truly get a day off! You don't need to buy eggos, or frozen pancakes when homemade ones freeze beautifully! Start small, cook dinner a few times this week and see how you feel health wise and also from a financial aspect! You're not really cooking for your family, if your idea of a home-cooked meal is frozen pizza, or Manwich from a can! If you don't know where to begin, then I highly suggest allrecipes.com. It's an invaluable source of recipes for every stage of cooking expertise! I wasn't taught how to cook anything from my Mom, I had to learn it all on my own. Thank God for the internet and cookbooks! There's no excuse not to cook, but laziness! Believe me, we've all been guilty of that before! On days where I'm having my own pity party, I think why can't I just do a frozen pizza, when I make pizza, I have to make the sauce (if not already made), make the dough (super quick and easy!) and then shred the cheese. When the lazy monster attacks, the first thing I think is, boy that's a lot of work! Sounds like a lot of work, but it's really not. First off, the frozen pizza I had idealized in my head tastes disgusting, ewww! Not only is it horrible tasting, it's way expensive and there's no way just one would feed my family of 6! Take out/delivery would cost an arm and a leg, remember I'm feeding mini garbage disposals here, LOL! so not only is it more nutritious to home make meals, it's more filling, less expensive and you can get the kids in the kitchen to learn a valuable life skill!! Please teach your children to cook for themselves! I can not stress this enough!

#3 Buy what's on SALE that week:Each big grocery chain sends out a weekly sales paper, or you can view the sales ad on-line. This is what you need to plan your menus around. If chicken is on sale for $1.99 a pound, then guess what? Chicken's certainly going to be on my menu that week and more importantly chicken is going to be stock piled in my freezer for that amazing price! That's what you do, when you see an incredible price, you stock up on it for the future. Even $10 extra will get you several packs of chicken for you to freeze! Then the next time you want chicken, you won't go out and pay $3.99 a pound for it, you'll simply go to your freezer and get your sale chicken! This is how you save money. I'm stating this fact because I honestly did not know this when I first got married, well for many years after that too! If this post helps just one family, then it's very much worth the time it's taken to write it! Also each week fruit is on sale, that is the fruit that my kids will be eating that week! If it's blueberries, then they'll be eating blueberries! But what if they want apples instead? Well sorry, but we have fresh blueberries and that's what we have! Now I have frozen fruit in the freezer, so blueberries are available year round (bought at rock bottom prices). Apples keep for a couple of weeks in the fridge, so usually they always have 3 fruits to choose from. So this was just an example. Now if they really had a craving for a fruit then I would get it for them, but they are very satisfied because each week it's a different fruit on sale! Buy up fruits when they are super cheap, meaning whether on sale or in season (usually the cheapest), you can freeze bananas, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, grapes and more and just jerk them from the freezer and add some yogurt or milk, a little oatmeal, flax seed and a touch of honey and you have a healthy, nutritious smoothie!! Don't ever throw fruit away when you can freeze it and make yummy drinks!! You're kids will think you're a creative genius when you serve them this and all along it's so healthy for them and doesn't break the bank for fresh fruit (remember it was purchased on sale and frozen!)

#4 Use Coupons: Ah, the dreaded "C" word! Not sure why there's such a stigma with the word coupon, but if you have a dollar off coupon and use it on a product, it's like someone gave you a free dollar bill! Now who in their right mind would turn down a free dollar bill?? I wouldn't! But I do want to warn you, if you won't use the product, then it's not worth your money to buy it (unless you're giving it away or donating). Granted, there are much more coupons for "junky" processed products, but from time to time, you can score some really great deals on healthy foods. Also all of our childcare (diapers,wipes) and toiletries are bought at amazing cheap prices with coupons! Even the kids multi vitamins are bought for $2.50 a box when they're regularly $6.99! You just have to be a savvy and smart shopper. There's tons of blogs out there that teach you how to find the deals out there, or you can read about my couponing experience here.

#5 Make out a Menu Plan: The old saying is true, if you Fail to Plan, then you Plan to Fail! I can't tell you how many times I've thought oh I know what we're having for dinner this week so I won't bother making out a menu plan. Guess what? By 5 o'clock that night I was running around the kitchen panicking thinking what should I fix for dinner! No meat is thawed out (remember, the freezer is our friend!!) and I didn't prepare any bread/buns/rolls, you name it, I didn't do it! So now in my organizer I write down my weekly menu on the left side, on the right side I write down what we actually had that night. I like to look back and get ideas on our favorites. Then in the weekly section I write what I need to do, for example, Monday we had spaghetti, I had written on there to make some garlic breadsticks, and lay out the frozen chicken in the fridge for dinner tonight! Now some of you may be laughing thinking you can remember to do this, then good for you! with each kid they sucked out some of my memory brain cells (aks, mommy brain!), but that's works for me and it may help someone else out too :-)

#6 Buy Marked Down Items/Clearanced out:I'm very fortunate to live near a Kroger where they mark down items before the expiration date! At any given time you can walk into Kroger and come home with fresh produce marked down , Organic Milk, half and half, meats, the list goes on and on, but only on perishable stuff! When's the last time you saw a box of Twinkies on clearance?? Never! Because that stuff will outlast the nuclear bomb, LOL! I used to snub my nose at clearance meats (before I had 4 kids!), thinking there must be something wrong with it. How naive I was, or snobby, whatever you want to call it! I call it stupid! Buy that meat and take it home and if you don't use it that night, freeze it!! But the milk and make up a ton of homemade pudding with it, or buy that marked down buttermilk and make a ton of pancakes and freeze them! Buy those cartons of eggs and make up some quiches to freeze! Get creative! Always think of what you could do when you see marked down items!

So if you ask me if a Stay-at-home Mom works, I would shout an astounding YES!! I work hard and diligently to keep my variable expenses down and groceries are the number one area where everybody can cut costs!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Streusel Topped Blueberry Muffins

Here's a repeat of a blueberry muffin recipe I posted before, but the picture is with the streusel topping. These are so delicious either way you make them!


1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 egg, beaten
2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup butter or margarine


In a mixing bowl, cream sugar and butter. Add egg; mix well. Combine flour, baking powder and salt; add to the creamed mixture alternately with milk. Stir in vanilla. Fold in blueberries. Fill 12 greased or paper-lined muffin cups two-thirds full. In a small bowl, combine sugar, flour and cinnamon; cut in butter until crumbly. Sprinkle over muffins. Bake at 375 degrees F for 25-30 minutes or until browned.

*TIP* to keep your blueberries from sinking to the bottom, coat them with flour before adding them to your mixture!

Soft Breadsticks- Bread Machine Recipe


1 1/8 cups water (70 to 80 degrees F)
2 tablespoons olive or canola oil
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons sugar
3 teaspoons garlic powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon minced fresh basil
3 cups bread flour
2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 tablespoon butter or stick margarine, melted


In bread machine pan, place the first nine ingredients in order suggested by manufacturer. Select dough setting (check dough after 5 minutes of mixing; add 1 to 2 tablespoons of water or flour if needed). When cycle is completed, turn dough onto a lightly floured surface. Divide into 20 portions. Shape each into a ball; roll each into a 9-in. rope. Place on greased baking sheets. Cover and let rise in a warm place for 40 minutes or until doubled. Bake at 350 degrees F for 18-22 minutes or until golden brown. Remove to wire racks. Brush warm breadsticks with butter.

*I followed the recipe with the exception of using fresh garlic instead of garlic powder. Also I sprinkled them with sea salt after I brushed them with butter. I think I may have overdone the garlic a tad, but otherwise they were still very good! We are a family of garlic lovers here :-)

My Weekly Menu Plan

Mon-Spaghetti, green beans, garlic breadsticks

Tues-Tacos, Salsa and chips, Rice

Wed-Lemon Garlic Pasta, green beans, Herbed Foccacia

Thurs-Chili (meatless), grilled cheese, carrots with ranch

Fri-Pizza, Corn

Sat-Fried Chicken Sandwiches on Kaiser buns, potato wedges, veggies

Sun-fried potatoes, soup beans, cornbread. Cheesy roll-UPS (kids)

Book Giveaway

There's an awesome book up for a giveaway here http://www.sweetkissesanddirtydishes.com/2012/01/nourishing-traditions-review-and.html

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Martha Stewart's Homemade White Bread

This bread is from Martha Stewart. It was just as good as it looked! I hope you give this a try, it's super easy with a Kitchen Aid Mixer!


2 1/2 cups warm water (110 degrees)
1 tablespoon active-dry yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon coarse salt
7 cups bread flour, plus more as necessary
4 tablespoons (2 ounces) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for bowls, pans, and brushing
Nonstick cooking spray


Place 1/2 cup warm water in a small bowl or liquid measuring cups yeast and sugar over water and whisk to combine. Let stand until creamy, about 5 minutes.

Place salt, remaining two cups warm water, and about 3 1/2 cups flour in the bowl of an electric mixer. Attach dough hook to mixer; turn mixer on and off a few times just to incorporate flour. Add 1 cup flour. With mixer on low, slowly add yeast mixture and remaining 2 1/2 cups flour. Increase speed to medium and mix until dough comes together, scraping down sides of bowl as necessary. If dough does not come together, add more flour, 1 tablespoon at a time.

Continue kneading on medium speed for about 5 minutes Add butter and continue mixing dough, 4 to 5 minutes. Dough may come apart before coming back together.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and shape into a ball. Butter a large bowl and transfer dough to prepared bowl, turning dough to coat. Cover tightly with plastic wrap sprayed with nonstick cooking spray and let stand at room temperature until doubled in size, 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Butter two 4 1/2-by-8 1/2-inch loaf pans; set aside.

Place dough, top-side down, on work surface to deflate; divide dough in half. Working with 1 piece of dough at a time, use the palms of your hands and fingertips or a rolling pin to pat dough into a 7-inch square.

Place dough on work surface so one of the short sides is facing you. Starting with the bottom edge, roll dough and pinch to seal seam. Place roll in pan, seam side down. Repeat process with remaining piece of dough.

Spray two pieces of plastic wrap with nonstick cooking spray. Cover loaf pans with plastic wrap, sprayed side down. Let stand in a warm place until doubled in size, growing over tops of pans, and when pressed gently with your finger an impression remains, 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees on a conventional oven or 400 degrees on a convection oven with a rack set in the center of oven.

Transfer pans to oven and bake for 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees (conventional) or 350 (convection) and continue baking until honey brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of each loaf reaches 205 degrees, about 45 minutes more.

Transfer to wire racks. Let cool slightly; turn out loaves. Brush tops with butter and let cool. Do not cut until almost cool.

Cook's Note

Cooled bread can be stored in a brown paper bag for up to 2 days. Once loaf is sliced it can be kept cut-side down on counter and covered with a clean kitchen towel.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Roasted Garlic Mayonnaise

I told my husband last night that I can't believe all the incredible foods that I've tasted, all because of him! You see, my name suits me right, with food I can be Picky Vicky :-) I try to think of foods he would love and duplicate them, this recipe is one of them! I found this one on food.com. It makes the most perfect condiment for a sandwich, especially roast beef, as we had last night! Trust me, it doesn't even taste like a ton of garlic. Roasting garlic is great! It is milder than raw garlic. In fact, raw garlic is two to four times stronger in flavor. Garlic becomes very mellow and easy to spread after cooking.

Roasted Garlic Mayo:
-12 Garlic Cloves
-1 Tbls Veg. Oil
-1 Tbls Fresh Lemon Juice
-1 tsp Worcestershire Sauce (and say this name really fast three times!)
-1 cup Mayonnaise
-1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley (I used 1 Tbls dried)
-1/4 cup chopped fresh basil (I used 1 Tbls dried)
-S&P to taste

1. Place garlic and oil in small baking dish, stir well.
2. Bake at 300 degrees for 30 minutes, till soft and golden.
3. Cool to room temperature.
4. Place garlic mixture, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce in blender. Blend till smooth.
5. Add mayo and herbs, process till smooth.

*Store in the fridge

*NOTE* if you're unsure about the garlic, when you buy a big clump of garlic, that is the Bulb, if you break it up, it then turns into little cloves. Just peel the skin away and use that in this recipe.


Thursday, January 19, 2012

Lemon-Glazed Sugar Cookies

I never liked nor appreciated anything with lemon until recently. Now I like the flavor and love these cookies! So I guess taste buds do change over time :-)

-1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
-2/3 cup white sugar
-3/4 tsp salt
-1/2 tsp baking powder
-3/4 cup butter (1 1/2 sticks), softened
-1 Tbls water
-2 tsp lemon extract

-1 cup powdered sugar
-1 1/2 Tbls FRESH lemon juice
- 1 tsp lemon zest

1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine flour, sugar, salt and baking powder in medium mixing bowl. Add butter, egg, water and extract. Beat on medium speed of electric hand mixer 35-40 seconds or till a soft dough forms.

2. Using medium scoop, scoop out 16 level scoops of dough onto cookie sheet, spacing 1" apart. Bake 15-17 minutes, or until edges begin to brown. Remove from oven; cool cookies 10 minutes on cookie sheet; remove to rack to cool completely.

3. For icing: combine powdered sugar, lemon juice, and zest in small mixing bowl. Mix well, drizzle icing over cooled cookies.

This is a recipe that I received with one of my cooking tools from the Pampered Chef. I think it was with the medium scoop. The cool thing about ordering a product through them is that you always get a recipe that uses the product you ordered! How cool is that? No, I'm not just saying this because I happen to sell Pampered Chef too. LOL! I just really like that fact and this recipe is so amazing! Please don't leave out the lemon Zest. It makes this cookie SO very refreshing! I told my husband today that I can't believe I never zested lemons until recently (in my defense, I didn't have the proper tools, now I do)! Now I freeze the zest in ziploc bags and I always have some zest to throw into something! Just try it and you won't ever look at another lemon the same.... :-)

A sidetracked day...

I'm a huge list maker, I just love to make lists! Only problem is that I get sidetracked, easily! I tend to sway off course and not follow my lists. Not good most of the time, but some days it is good! Today I made Ciabatta bread to have with roast beef sandwiches for dinner. Then I thought my husband would like some type of sauce to go with it. Then I thought about mayonnaise, which made me think of roasted garlic mayo. So I roast the garlic and prepare the mayo, it calls for a Tbls of fresh lemon juice. So I get the lemon out and I can't just waste the zest, no way! So I zest the lemon and immediately think of lemon-sugar cookies. So add that on to my growing list of things to make! At least I did mop the kitchen as planned and got a few loads of laundry done. Oh, I made some soup too :-) I would like every sidetracked day to be filled with yummy foods, but we all know that doesn't happen, it's usually filled with tons of big messes to clean up, LOL!

Seasoned Potato Wedges

Here is my version of the little dry mix found in grocery stores. I love to eat seasoned potato wedges bursting with flavor! So much healthier than fried french fries.

Roasted Potato Seasoning Mix
-1/2 tsp garlic powder
-1/2 tsp salt
-1/4 tsp pepper
-1/4 tsp dried parsley
-1/4 tsp CAJUN seasoning
-1/2 tsp dried Thyme

Mix together in small bowl, add 2 Tbls Vegetable oil and then coat potatoes. If you loves a ton of seasoning and are doing a double batch of potatoes, then just double the recipe. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes, turning potatoes over half way.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Auntie Anne's Pretzels Copycat Recipe...

When we go to the mall, sometimes the kids will talk us into buying one of those overpriced pretzels at Auntie Anne's. Yes, they're good, but on the expensive side! Here's a recipe that comes very close to the actual thing. Also if you notice that my pretzels don't look exactly like pretzels, all I can say is that they were made with love by my little helpers, ages 2, 5, and 8! When you see pictures of perfect looking foods, you can be certain that a kid wasn't involved, LOL!


1 1/2 cups warm water
1 1/8 teaspoons active dry yeast (1 1/2 pkg.)
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 1/8 teaspoons salt
1 cup bread flour
3 cups flour
2 cups warm water

2 tablespoons baking soda
coarse salt , to taste
2 -4 tablespoons butter (melted)(optional)


1.Sprinkle yeast on lukewarm water in mixing bowl; stir to dissolve. Add sugar, salt and stir to dissolve; add flour and knead dough until smooth and elastic. Let rise at least 1/2 hour.

2.While dough is rising, prepare a baking soda water bath with 4 cups warm water and 1/4 cup baking soda. Be certain to stir often. Bring to a boil.

3.After dough has risen, pinch off bits of dough and roll into a long rope (about 1/2 inch or less thick) and shape. Dip pretzel in soda solution and place on greased baking sheet. Beat an egg yolk with 1 Tbls water and brush on pretzels, sprinkle with coarse salt. Allow pretzels to rise again. Bake in a 450 degree oven for about 12-15 minutes or until golden.


After you brush with butter try sprinkling with coarse salt. Or for Auntie Anne's famous Cinnamon Sugar, try melting a stick of butter in a shallow bowl (big enough to fit the entire pretzel) and in another bowl, make a mixture of cinnamon and sugar. Dip the pretzel into the butter, coating both sides generously. Then dip again into the cinnamon mixture.

*These are best served hot and fresh, not good at all as leftovers :-)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Buttermilk Biscuits Recipe

I have a weird confession to make, I really don't like biscuits. Add that on to the weird fact that I don't like pie crust! Not sure what it is about them, just never cared for them, no matter the recipe. It's something I eat when I really, really want something that goes with it, like biscuits and gravy, bacon, egg & cheese biscuit. They are just the outer package! Anyway, my big kids just love them (for the bacon,egg & cheese)! Since I make 99.9% of everything from scratch, I make up a batch and just freeze the rest. Bake in the oven and by the time the eggs and bacon are done, so are the frozen biscuits!

-4 cups self-rising flour
-1 Tbls baking powder
-1 Tbls sugar (I usually leave this out, so it's optional)
-3/4 cup Crisco
-2 1/4 cups buttermilk

- Mix all ingredients. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead a few times. Roll out 3/4 to 1 inch thick. Be careful not to overwork the dough, or biscuits will be tough. Bake at 400 degrees around 13-15 minutes until golden brown. Remove from oven and brush with melted butter.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Submarine roll recipe

I was trying to find a recipe close to Subway bread. This isn't close,but it's probably the best Sub bread I've ever made at home. I really think that it would be super hard to duplicate that at home without a commercial oven!
I found this recipe on thefreshloaf.com, I'm not really sure who posted it, but that is where I found it. I like to give the author credit whenever possible :-)

Subway Sub Roll Recipe:

1 TBLS dry yeast
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp butter
2 cups bread flour
1/2 tsp dough enhancer
1 cup plus 1 TBLS warm water

Knead, let rise, punch down, let rise again, punch down and shape into three foot long tubes. Place in unheated oven with pan of hot water on shelf below. You can make these on a cookie sheet but they will have flat bottoms. A baquette pan works good or a sub/hoagie pan if you can find one is best. Silicone pans are the best (like the ones at subway). Spray lightly on top with warm water at beginning of proofing. Wait 15 minutes and turn oven on to 300 for 20 seconds then off. Wait another 15 minuetes and repeat the oven on off thing again. Wait 1/2 hour then the oven thing again and allow to rise for another 1/2 hour. Then turn oven on and bake at 325 for 20 minutes, then leaving them in the oven bake another 20 minutes at 350 and then remove from oven and place on rack for cooling and yummy eating. Let them cool before cutting. Makes the subway type roll each and every time. Never fails and smells just like the inside of any subway restaurant. Enjoy.
Prep time before punching down is approximately 2 hours. Most of that is rising time. Proofing and baking are specified above.

*NOTE* This may look like a very time consuming recipe, but it's mainly just punching and rising, punching and rising and then playing with the oven :-)

Monday, January 9, 2012

Take the time...

Today as I was getting ready to fix muffins, my 5 yr old came up and asked if he could help me. I said not right now. I was rushed, I had been cooking all day, I just wanted to get the muffins fixed so I could get that out of the way and fix dinner (before getting my husband from work too!). Not to mention that I'm not feeling too well. You should've seen the look on his perfect little face! It was so sad! That look told me that I didn't have my priorities in the right place! His frown turned to a smile when I told him he could help me! Thankfully this is a rare thing for me. I usually always take the extra time it requires to bake with my little ones. It got me thinking about all the Moms out there that don't take the time, thinking they are too rushed, always saying not right now. We've all been guilty of saying that!

My post today is to urge you to think about how many times do you really say not right now, and never get around to spending time with your kids in the kitchen. Teaching your kids to cook is an essential part of life! Every human should be taught how to cook! It's not about the messes, the dirty dishes, or the flour spilled all over the floor! It's about creating memories, strengthening your bond, having fun and learning an important life tool!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Ciabatta Bread-bread machine recipe!!

I have to say that this was the most amazing sandwich that I've ever eaten at home, or anywhere else for that matter! I'm not a sandwich lover and boy did I love this sandwich! It was all in the bread! I've been meaning to make Ciabatta bread for a long time now. Today was my 15 year anniversary so I wanted to make my husband a special lunch. He loves panini sandwiches so my plan was to fix him one, but I needed "special" bread first and I looked up what kind of bread I should use. I got this recipe, like almost all my other ones, from allrecipes.com


1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon white sugar
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 1/4 cups bread flour
1 1/2 teaspoons bread machine yeast


1.Place ingredients into the pan of the bread machine in the order suggested by the manufacturer. Select the Dough cycle, and Start.
2.Dough will be quite sticky and wet once cycle is completed, resist the temptation to add more flour. Place dough on a lightly floured board, cover with a large bowl, and let rest for 15 minutes.
3.Lightly flour or use parchment lined baking sheets. Divide into 2 pieces, and form each into a 3x14 inch oval. Place loaves on prepared sheets, dimple surface, and lightly flour. Cover, and let rise in a draft free place for approximately 45 minutes.
4.Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).
5.Dimple dough for a second time, and then place loaves in the oven, positioned on the middle rack. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes.
**During the very first 10 minutes of baking, spritz the loaves with water every 3 minutes for a crispier crust.

It was just perfect on it's own and I didn't press it or do anything other than cut it into a square for his sandwich. I fixed Blackened Chicken with creamy parmesan ranch sauce. Amazing!!

The soup in the background is a copycat recipe for Minestrone soup from Olive Garden. If anyone wants it, I will gladly post it :-)

If you try only one bread this new year, please give this one a go! If you're not accustomed to bread making, it may scare you because it's the stickiest dough I've ever worked with and I've made a lot of dough in the past 10 years! But everybody has to start somewhere, so don't let that scare you! Just remember, do NOT add extra flour, you need the dough that sticky, trust me, if you make it you'll know why it's so odd to have it that sticky :-)