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Tuesday, March 6, 2012

{Best Bread Machine Bread Recipe}

When I first received my bread machine, I started looking around for recipes and tips. I found a recipe online at that swore to be the best bread recipe made in a machine and the reviews were promising.

The unique part of this recipe is that it tells you to do something forbidden, mix the yeast and the water first and let them mingle for 10 minutes before adding the flour. This is actually how most bread dough recipes are started, but bread machines swear that the water and the yeast should not touch and the ingredients should be added in the order of water, flour and then yeast on top.

Being the rebel that I am I decided to give it a try. It was delicious, even despite the fact I was so anxious to use the machine that I used the quick setting. I have made this recipe multiple times now and it comes out wonderfully. Go on, break the rules and give it a try!

1 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
2 tablespoons white sugar
1 (.25 ounce) package bread machine yeast
1/4 cup vegetable oil
3 cups bread flour
1 teaspoon salt

Place the water, sugar and yeast in the pan of the bread machine. Let the yeast dissolve and foam for 10 minutes. Add the oil, flour and salt to the yeast. Select Basic or White Bread setting, and press Start.

Note: If the bread falls slightly, try adding an extra 1/2 tsp of salt to help stabilize the dough the next time around.

Image from

Saturday, February 25, 2012

{PW Layered Salad}

During my menu planning last week (and first week at cooking my way through The Pioneer Woman Cooks) I got a little distracted by items on the PW blog.  That's when I found her recipe for Layered Salad.  I remembered a friend making it for an event and decided to reduce the batch for dinner that night.  Doesn't it look delicious!?

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It has all sorts of tasty ingredients like bacon, eggs, cheese, green onions and tomatoes.  I love how she displays ingredients in her blog posts so you are drooling before you even get to the cooking/assembly of the recipes.  Did I mention that I may have to take up regimented exercise with my cookbook challenge?

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And if you need a little additional help in the kitchen, all of her recipes are shown step by step in both the book and her blog.

I decided that I would keep all of the recipes unchanged as I made them, but I did tweak this slightly by using her homemade ranch dressing instead of the basic dressing from the recipe.  It was delicious!  It makes for a great presentation which is why it is popular for potlucks.

I also made a fresh batch of bread in my bread machine to go with the salad.  I found it online and it is actually called "The Best Bread Machine Recipe" and I'm a believer.  Recipe to come!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

{PW Love - and my cookbook challenge}

Recently, I have seen quite a few recipes floating around Pinterest from The Pioneer Woman - Ree Drummond.  The first time I heard of her was on an episode of Throw Down with Bobby Flay.

Ree Drummond
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She has a great personality and every one of her recipes looks fantastic.  The first one I tried was her Cajun Chicken Pasta from her new show on the Food Network.  Delish!  It received rave reviews in our house.  

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As I read blogs on her recipes, I kept hearing about her book and purchased it on my iPad to read.  It was very extremely entertaining and as a bonus had some recipes in the back.

I then spent some time browsing her blog and continued to find great recipes and some good laughs (including this post here - I cracked up when she reached for the apple fritter again at the end).  I finally decided to pick up a copy of her cookbook.  Just like her blog, it is filled with amazing recipes and stories mixed in.  There are a total of 60 or so recipes in the book and I can only think of one that didn't scream delicious to me.  


So my new idea.....

I have thought of cooking my way through an entire cookbook before, but typically there quite a few recipes in each book that just don't seem to suit our tastes.  I think this one might actually work since everything looks great and it's a pretty manageable size.  I think the only problem I might run into is that I keep finding other recipes on her blog that I want to cook also!

I have already tried a few this week (both from the blog and the book) and they were all delicious!  More on them soon....

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

{My Organizing Craze}

I'm not quite sure how it happened, but the end of December flew by.  This is kind of how it went...Prepare for Christmas, recover and remove decorations from Christmas, prep to cater my mom's wedding on New Year's Day, recover from wedding, not do much for a couple of weeks because of exhaustion.  Before I knew it, it was almost the middle of January.

I was in need of some serious motivation.  Fortunately, the day came and I found this link from A Bowl Full of Lemons while perusing Pinterest. 

Hallelujah!  It was just what I needed.  I didn't go in order and many of the days didn't actually apply to me, but I started browsing and getting ideas on what to tackle and how to go about it.  I immediately ran to the store and got some supplies.  While I'm not usually a fan of contact paper, I loved the one used in her post (below) and was lucky enough to find it at Target.  I arrived home with my new loot and organized the cabinet under our sink as well as our two highly used kitchen drawers.

When that was complete, I skipped to Day 17 of the challenge and completed my own mail station like the one below.  I love this idea because you can quickly organize any paper as it comes in and reduce clutter on the kitchen table.  I went with the following tabs: Incoming Mail, Outgoing Mail, Pay, File, Shred, and Coupons.

Over the last month or so, I have picked an area or two to overhaul each weekend.  I have completed the coat closet, linen closet, laundry room, bathroom cabinets, shower (loving the new dispenser I bought and not having soap bottles in the shower) and finally the pantry.  If it sounds like I've gone crazy...I have.  I could use an intervention.

I actually completed the majority of the pantry project last weekend but finished up some of the labeling with my Silhouette this weekend.  Here are some of my favorite items.

I already had a small and large jar for my sugar and flour, but I added two more for my wheat and bread flours and relabeled all of them with my Silhouette.

I had the sugar and AP flour labeled the same way previously, but since it was one of my first Silhouette projects it looks better now that I'm not such a rookie.

I found a great tip on Pinterest for leveling flour and now keep a chopstick in each of the containers.

Reinforcing the shelves may need to be a project on the "Honey Do" list very soon.  I can't imagine all that weight is good for the shelves.  I love how they turned out though.

One of my other favorite buys is the container our Bisquick now lives in.  We buy a large box from Costco so this helps to keep it fresh.

It is also easier to use since you have the option of the small pour spout, larger spout, or pulling off the top to reach in with a measuring cup.

I have tried to cut down on the number of bags in the pantry so that things stay fresh and I don't have to worry about them spilling.  As you can see, I am in love with mason jars, my label maker and these new containers I found....They are enablers of my addiction.

The containers are similar to the OXO ones, but much cheaper.  You flip the handle up on top to open them and it seals when you push it back down so the contents stay fresh.

This was also one of my first Silhouette projects, but I thought I'd throw in a picture.  I knocked off a project from my friend Lauren over at All Things Homie

Another favorite is the new containers for cereal and snacks.  We usually have a bulk size of each in the house so I bought some flip top containers to make them easier to grab while keeping them fresh.

I also bought a large set of bins for bread, crackers and snacks.

I love these because the handles flip down allowing them to stack.

I containerized quite a few other things that we always have around like granola and croutons.  I have used wire shelves like this all throughout the house to organize cabinets. 

I am also quite fond of the hanging baskets I found for kitchen towels.  Notice the small stacking bins and another wire shelf.

Finally, I wanted something to corral the onions and potatoes.  These stacking shelves are perfect and had one extra level for our coffee.

I'm loving the new organization throughout the house (despite the feeling yesterday of crawling out of a cave and realizing February is almost over).  I have a couple more spaces to purge and overhaul.  I might have withdrawals after I'm finished and run out of things to organize and containerize though!  Fortunately, I think I have found something to keep myself busy.

Monday, December 12, 2011

{Crock Pot's Triple Delicious Hot Chocolate}

After a recent party for a friend where they had a hot chocolate bar, Matt insisted that we needed to have hot chocolate at the party last week. I looked through my Crock Pot cookbook and found this recipe which was easy and delicious.

This makes a wonderful rich hot chocolate without being overly sweet, definitely a keeper!

Photo from my Crock Pot Slow Cooker Recipes for All Occasions cook book

1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 cups milk, divided
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup heavy cream
1 square (1 ounce) bittersweet chocolate
1 square (1 ounce) white chocolate
3/4 cup whipped cream
6 teaspoons mini chocolate chips or shaved bittersweet chocolate

Combine sugar, cocoa, salt and 1/2 cup milk in medium bowl.  Beat until smooth.  Pour mixture into slow cooker.  Add remaining 2 1/2 cups milk and vanilla. Cook on low 2 hours.

Add cream.  Cover and cook on low for 10 minutes, stir in bittersweet and white chocolate until melted.

Pour hot chocolate into 6 coffee cups.  Top each with 2 tablespoons whipped cream and 1 teaspoon chocolate chips.
I used Godiva baking chocolate, subbed out the whipped cream and chocolate chips on top for mini marshmallows, and added a bit of Bailey's Irish Cream to each cup for the adults.  

This recipe is perfect for serving out of the slow cooker so that it stays hot and people can serve themselves as they like.  You could provide any variety of toppings and other items so that guests can customize their own cup.  {Enjoy!}

Sunday, December 11, 2011

{Eat, Drink and Be Married}

Things have been pretty busy with the holidays quickly approaching.  I'm not really sure where the time has gone!  I have been working on my mom's wedding, which will take place on New Year's Day, while still getting all of the gifts wrapped and under the tree for Christmas.  I was also happy to host a quickly planned get together for family in honor of Matt's brother and new bride.  They will have a formal wedding next year, but I wanted to make sure they had an extra special night.

Here are some of the photos.  I will be posting some of the recipes I used this week, specifically the ones I received special requests for!

So here is the full spread...

Matt's mom made the cake.  I wanted to go with a less than traditional topper and loved the pennant banners I have seen on Pinterest.

Rather than a traditional boiled shrimp cocktail, I love Ina Garten's idea of a roasted shrimp cocktail.  I used a traditional cocktail sauce and a parsley paprika pesto for something to mix it up a little.  Full details to follow. 

Who doesn't secretly love to double dip???  I have seen this idea on Pinterest and decided to let people do so shamelessly!  Little veggie cups with homemade buttermilk basil dressing at the bottom.  I included little "C" toothpicks to make the cherry tomatoes easier to grab and to add a personal touch.

I love this recipe!  Giada De Laurentiis uses focaccia bread and adds pesto to make a unique little sandwich that provides a heartier item for a party. 

I also used Alton Brown's Spinach and Artichoke Dip which I posted here (with my new favorite bread machine recipe - to follow), Devilishly Delicious Deviled Eggs here, and my Tomato and Mozzarella Bruschetta.

We also enjoyed a little mimosa bar and hot chocolate that I made in my Crock Pot.  I will be post the hot chocolate recipe - so easy and very tasty.

For decorations I made a couple of fun signs.  The top one was outside and the bottom on the food table.

I made a simple banner with my new obsession Silhouette machine that says "Congrats Mr and Mrs"

I hung the banner on the mirror above our entry table which was decorated with some cute letters that I painted.

Finally, a small favor for the guests courtesy of Pinterest.  I have made some of these simple ornaments for weddings that Matt and I have attended this year.  All you need is a clear ornament from a craft store and a wedding invitation.  Cut the invitation into strips, twist them around a pen and drop them into the ornament.  I added a little sign that said, "Couldn't wait to spend the first Christmas as Mr and Mrs"

It was fun to use so many of the ideas I have been seeing on Pinterest!  I will be posting some of these recipes soon as well as other items I have been making lately.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

{My New Bread Machine}

I'm in love and I've fallen hard.  Matt has won himself some major points for bringing me home a new kitchen appliance!

So here I am standing in my kitchen at 6 in the morning love struck and making another loaf in my new bread machine.

I made the first last night and it turned out delicious! Even despite the fact that I was so impatient to try a loaf that I used the express bake setting. Thats right, 58 minutes to heaven. I was so in a hurry though that I forgot to take pictures to share. 

I'm making whole wheat now though and will be sharing the results soon.