Monthly Archives: January 2012

Breakfast Bread

Breakfast BreadEating at my sister Sandy’s house is always a culinary treat.  I think I could gain 5 pounds just thinking about what she might be making!

Our recent visit was no exception. My amazing nephew put together a to-die-for breakfast bread that is still making me drool.

I won’t even tell you how many pieces I ate – but let’s just say it’s a good thing he made three loaves so that everybody else got some, too!

He made it with bacon (yum!) but I think he should definitely make some with ham or sausage, or even pepperoni!  I’d be happy to taste test them!

I also don’t think this bread should just be for breakfast – I would eat it any time. Like right now.

I was quite impressed with the fact that he made it ahead, froze it, and baked it up fresh for us in the morning – making it a perfect meal for overnight guests!

And – the best news of all – he shared his recipe!

Breakfast Bread

1 batch of White Bread Dough
1 [0.7 oz. or 19 grams] packet of dry Italian dressing mix
2 cups of cheddar cheese
2/3 cup of real bacon bits

Mix the envelope of Italian dressing mix into the bread dough, put it into a greased bowl, cover with a clean towel and let rise till doubled.

On a floured surface, roll out into a large rectangle. Evenly spread the cheese and bacon bits over the surface.

Starting on the longest side, roll up the dough as you would cinnamon rolls. Place the roll on a greased jelly roll pan to rise.

Once risen, bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes.

Freezing directions:

Once the roll has been made, do not let it rise. Cover the dough in plastic wrap and freeze for one hour.

After one hour, remove the roll from the freezer ad completely wrap in plastic wrap and aluminum foil and freeze up to 1 month.

When you are ready to bake, remove from the freezer and unwrap it. Set it on a greased jelly roll sheet and cover with a clean dish towel. Let thaw and rise overnight.

Then bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Note: This makes one loaf, but would be very easy to double or triple!  You could use frozen bread dough, but could not freeze the unbaked roll.

Enjoy!

Making Time for Date Night

As Valentine’s Day approaches, my friend Jessie Leigh asked me to join her and a few blogging friends in writing a series of blog posts about marriage.  I was honored, but humbled since I’m certainly not an expert! But since it is one of my favorite subjects – I agreed to give it a try. So for the next three weeks I will try to share some practical ideas on “Taking Your Marriage from Fine to Fabulous”. This week’s subject – Date Night.

Date NightsI came downstairs the other morning and heard one of my children exclaim, “Wow! Mom curled her hair!”

Okay – I wonder how bad I normally look that simply curling my hair would create such a sensation?

All eyes turned to me as they tried frantically to remember what big event was upcoming that would cause mom to actually curl her hair on a weekday?!

Then someone remembered that they would all be at a Youth Group activity that night – and Jan and I would be alone.

“Oh yeah! It’s for her big date with dad tonight!”

I’ve trained them well.

They know that we consider it a “date” anytime we are alone without children. We didn’t even have big plans. Actually – we didn’t even leave the house! We shared a frozen pizza and cuddled on the couch watching TV together.

But it wasn’t always that way.  My definition of a date has changed throughout the years. When we were first married it was easy and fun to plan special evenings out. Once the kids started coming things got harder. Our budget never allowed for babysitters and rarely for eating out, so we had to get creative.

When the kids were really little I’d put them to bed early and we’d enjoy a candlelight dinner at home. (This works best when you skip nap time!)

Or sometimes on Sunday afternoons we would take the kids to a state park and hike. Then we’d buckle them in their car seats and take the long way home. They would fall asleep exhausted and we’d have uninterrupted time to reconnect.  (To this day – car rides and long walks are my favorite times with Jan!)

In time I came to realize that the goal of a date was to be together. Period. The details really didn’t matter.  It didn’t have to be expensive – it didn’t even have to be planned.  I lowered my expectations to just one – we needed to be alone.

Then we learned to seize the moments whenever possible.

Watching a movie on the couch when the kids were in bed.

Sitting in the porch swing holding hands and watching the sunset.

Sharing a root beer float on the picnic table during nap time on a Saturday afternoon.

Occasionally Poppa and Nana would bless us by taking the kids for an evening allowing us some wonderful uninterrupted time together. Sometimes we would drive to the nearest large town and eat out before getting groceries and stopping at Wal-Mart. Other nights, we’d stay home and enjoy a frozen pizza and take a long walk.

Nothing fancy. Nothing expensive.  We were alone. We were together.

Now that the kids are older,  it’s easier to get away for the evening – even for an overnight every once in awhile. 🙂

But I still love the simple dates – sitting by the bonfire talking, holding hands as we walk out to check the cows, or a Saturday morning at garage sales.

It’s choosing to be together. Taking time to reconnect.  Showing my husband that spending time with him is still my favorite thing to do.

Which is why – even after 21 years – my heart sings when he says, “I’m running some errands in town – want to ride along?”

Yes! He still wants to be with me!

The Perfect Cuppa

the perfect cuppaI find it very interesting that I – a confirmed non-coffee drinker – should end up with so much coffee paraphernalia.

Would you believe there is – right at this very moment – a coffee maker, a French press, and a coffee grinder sitting on my counter?!

And two different kinds of coffee beans in the freezer, and an assortment of creamers and simple syrups in the fridge?

And I don’t even like the stuff! Honestly – how can something that smells so heavenly taste so nasty?!

I guess I better get used to it – with two highly-caffeinated, coffee-loving teens living in the house now.

I find it very humorous when they put coffee beans on the grocery list. What? You want me to aid in this addiction?

I stop laughing when I hit the coffee aisle.

Oh my! The choices! Whole bean or ground? Decaf or caffeinated? Flavored or plain? And how do want them roasted?  Light? Medium? Dark?  What’s the difference anyway? Then there’s all the brands to choose from!

So tell me – when did coffee drinking get so complicated? When I was growing up, coffee came in big tin cans and my mom brewed it in a peculator and would offer cream or sugar to guests.

Now you have the mocha, the latte, the frappe, the cappuccino, the macchiato, the expresso and even a half-breed frappuccino.

And they can come in almost any flavor you can imagine –  pumpkin, peppermint, gingerbread, vanilla, chocolate, caramel, almond, and the list goes on and on and on.

Do you want that hot or cold?

Steamed, pressed, brewed or dripped? Whatever that is.

How about some whipped cream on top? Sure. How about some sprinkles, too.

I’m sorry. It’s just all too confusing.

That’s why I drink tea.

A mug. Some leaves. Hot water. 6 minutes. Perfect.

Now – what kind of tea should I have? Black? Green? Herbal? Chai?  Earl Grey? Oolong? Darjeeling? Hot? Cold? Loose leaf or tea bag? With sugar or lemon or a touch of honey? Hot? Cold?

Photo courtesy of Julious Schorzman.

Caramel Apple Bars & a Crazy Weekend

Apple DessertIt was a really busy weekend.

Our Sunday activities included a church potluck at lunch and a 4H Soup Supper Fundraiser in the evening – with exactly one hour between the two.

That meant that we needed to be totally ready for both on Saturday – which made for a pretty crazy kitchen on Saturday afternoon!

I had Angel Girl, her friend Bethany and Dagmar all assisting. When we ran out of dishes we’ll call Buddy and Pedro to wash a few so we could keep moving.

In one afternoon we made barbecue venison, Grandma’s Cherry Dessert (but with blackberries) a chocolate oatmeal cake, lasagna, bread sticks, homemade caramel sauce, potato soup for 100, and a new creation – some yummy Caramel Apple Bars.

At one point – when I was mentally multiplying potato soup recipes in my head and praying that it would all turn out okay (it did!) – I handed Dagmar 2 different apple bar recipes and told her to make something work.

She did! The end result was an oatmeal crust with a gooey caramel apple filling.

We used homemade caramel sauce – since I forgot to buy caramels when I was shopping that morning – and it worked great!

Caramel Apple Bars

Crust:

1/2 cup butter or margarine
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup oatmeal
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional – we didn’t use)

Filling:

4-1/2 cups peeled and chopped baking apples (we used a fat quart of our frozen apples)
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 – 14 ounce package caramels
3 tablespoons butter or margarine

Cream together the butter and brown sugar until fluffy. Add flour, oats, salt and baking soda. Mix well. Stir in pecans.

Set aside 2 cups.

Press remaining oat mixture into the bottom of an ungreased 13 x 9 inch pan.

For filling, toss apples with flour and spoon over the crust.

In a saucepan melt the caramels and butter over low heat and drizzle over the apples.

Top with the remaining oatmeal mixture.

Bake at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until lightly browned.

Cool before cutting into bars.

Enjoy!

I’ve linked this post up with Tempt My Tummy Tuesday at Blessed with Grace and Tasty Tuesday at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam.

Extreme Thrifting

Warning: The following adventure is extreme in nature and not for the faint of heart.

It was all Martha’s idea.

It was brilliant – I wish I could take credit – but it was Martha’s brainchild. After spending an afternoon thrifting together in the fall, she suggested we make a day of it next time.

If we started early enough we could possibly get to two more towns. TWO! Think of the bargains we could find!

It would require lots of miles on the road – but if she was game for it – so was I. I mean really – a whole day with a good friend in thrift stores?! Sign me up!

Besides – she was driving! 🙂

It took us awhile to find a day that would work, but Angel Girl and I finally met Martha and her daughter Bethany on Monday morning for adventure.

Martha had a map and a plan. We were ready for a day of Extreme Thrifting.

Big SaleJust look at those girls – already three stores in and still looking fresh!  Nothing like a big sale at your favorite thrift store to put a smile on your face!

Early on in the adventure the girls decided to find something matching at each store we went to. Believe it or not – they almost did!WendysWith two towns down, we stopped to refuel at Wendy’s. French fries dipped in chocolate frosty’s was just the high octane we needed!

We were on to new territory! Good thing Martha had a list and a GPS. Gypsy did us proud.

The weather was perfect – we had highs in the 60’s and sunshine all afternoon!

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Still smiling in our fourth and final town. Yes – it’s after dark and yes – they are now wearing coats. The temperatures were starting to fall.

Note the stuffed duckies – they were still on the hunt for matching things this late in the day!

ChickenWe did it! Time for stop at Chick-fil-a before heading back down the highway home.

The stats on our day of Extreme Thrifting are impressive!

We traveled to 4 different towns.

Stopped at 11 different thrift stores.

And drove over 173 miles.

But we’re not saying how much we spent!

Will our husbands ever let us do it again? I hope so – ’cause boy did we have fun! 🙂

PS – Hey Martha – I’m free next Thursday! <wink!>