Thursday, May 27, 2010

Trapped in my Kitchen!

Yes, it's true, I've been trapped in my kitchen. It's been a busy month and I just hate those days where we have 15 minutes for dinner, so it's either a drive-thru or a sandwich. Last week I'd had enough, and vowed to lock myself in the kitchen until I had my freezer stocked with freezer dinners. Phew!

I spent about $40 on ingredients and my freezer is delicious-ly full. I took tons of pictures and wrote down recipes as I went for my readers. Coming soon!

I still have a few more meals to go, but here's a preview:

Meatballs (I made 160 of them, for spaghetti, sweet n sour, meatball subs, bbq, etc.)

Baked Ziti (Oh, amazing! In a foil pan ready to pop in the oven, made 2, ate 1!)

Pizza Braid (Garlic Breadsticks and pizza all in one cheesy pile, I made 6 of these.)

Pizza Bites (Mini, easy and cook in 15 minutes. Serve w/ a salad and it's perfect.)

Mini Meatloaf (in a muffin tin, already cooked, reheat and serve with potatoes.)

Spaghetti Sauce (Chunky tomatoes, sausage, green pepper, mushrooms, garlic, etc.)

And thanks to this sweet thrift store find - a play kitchen for $5! A "boy" play kitchen, so my little man can help me cook - phew!

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Monday, May 17, 2010

Strawberry Cheesecake Pancakes


I know, strawberries are lookin' amazing right now! They are cheap, ripe and oooh so delicious. This recipe started when I really wanted crepes with strawberries. I didn't feel like looking up a recipe for crepes and hoping they turn out good, so I decided to go for the same idea, just using pancakes. I used a basic "just add water" pancake mix, but if you have a homemade recipe that you love use it. They didn't roll well (obviously) and really ended up looking more like a taco, but they tasted delicious! The filling was perfect, not too sweet. I'm thinking this would be A+ when peaches come in season, yeah?

Husband Rating: 5 stars

Note: I used 2 strawberries, sliced, for each pancake. This filling made enough for 6 pancakes. Double or half as needed!

6 pancakes

12 strawberries, washed and sliced

4 oz (half pkg) cream cheese, softened

1 Tbsp. sour cream

1/2 tsp. vanilla

2 Tbsp. powdered sugar


In a bowl stir together cream cheese, sour cream, vanilla and powdered sugar until smooth. Spread over pancake. Spread sliced strawberries over half of the pancake, fold and secure. Enjoy!


This would be a perfect breakfast or brunch, but I served this for dinner this weekend. I made some fried ham and scrambled eggs for the side. Brinner (breakfast for dinner) rules!

Blessed with Grace

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Sunday, May 9, 2010

Sneaky Mother's Day

Mother's Day was kind of sneaky this year. I mean, Mother's Day, aprons, it all makes sense right? I was blown away with orders that made for some late nights and a cranky toddler. Next year, I will sew several aprons in advance. This year, I ended up taking custom order after custom order. I'm delighted with how they turned out, so enjoy the photos!

First, I sold a lot of this apron, my most popular design and fabric. It's fun and bright, love it! I sold a few in the baby doll size and matching for little girls.

These aprons were fun to make for my friend Kealie. Her daughter chose a fun apron (I totally forgot to take a picture, grr) made out of this brown butterfly fabric. It's a craft apron with little pockets for crayons and pencils with the pink princess tulle on the bottom. She wanted a matching one for her favorite doll and for her mom. The doll apron was fun to make with ribbon and tulle. For Kealie, I added a lovely ruffle at the top in pink.

This last apron is by far my favorite. The fabric is so bright and fun I can't stop looking at it. The retro lemons make it the perfect hostess apron. I added an extra long yellow sash that can tie in the front or the back. And don't forget the sweet detail on the neckline. Soooo loving this! Husband told me it's his favorite (he doesn't hand out sincere sewing compliments often) and that I need to make more to sell.

I also had a booth at the Cinco de Mayo celebration on Saturday. I sold lots of little girl aprons, magnets, hot pads and towel toppers. And of course, ate some delicious tamales:)



Making

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Thursday, May 6, 2010

Calzones



Amazing, just plain amazing. You can go classic with pepperoni and olives, delicious with sausage and peppers, or adventurous with Alfredo, chicken, spinach and tomato. Yum!!! This is really one of my favorite things to make, especially when guests are coming. Perfect for a night in, think about it, pizza calzones, friends, eating in front of the tv, and the San Antonio Spurs winning the game. Yeah?

Use my Best Ever Bread Dough for the calzone. And a warning, this makes a lot of dough. It will make 4 gigantic calzones, or 8 perfect serving size calzones. They are awesome reheated for the next meal, so make away! (I usually half the dough and make 4 medium calzones and 1 pan full of breadsticks or cinnamon sticks.)

Husband Rating: 5 stars
(and this is a recipe he's not afraid to brag about!)

Follow along and adapt to fit your favorite pizza toppings!

Preheat oven to 400. Roll out the dough into a large oval. On half of the oval layer sauce and cheese. Yes, lots of cheese. Top with your favorite toppings. (Calzones are a perfect place to sneak in extra veggies, since you can't see it like on a regular pizza. My husband always picks off a pizza, but just devours a calzone without looking.)

Carefully fold the top part of your calzone over your toppings. Carefully pinch around the outside and fold up the edges. Cut two 1 inch slits in the top (I hadn't done that yet, but you get the idea.)

Melt 3 Tbsp. (or more, if you're making lots) of butter in the microwave. Sprinkle in Parmesan cheese, garlic salt and Italian herbs. With a spoon or pastry brush smear over the top of the calzone. Bake at 400 for 12-15 or until golden brown. (The larger ones can take up to 17, just watch closely the last few minutes).

Serve, pig out, and go back for seconds!!

Blessed with Grace

Linking up with the Harrigan Howdy Recipe Party!

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Saturday, May 1, 2010

Best Ever Bread Dough


This is one of my favorite recipes to make and to share. I love it for 2 main reasons: you can't mess it up, and it still works if you're lazy. (Can it get any better?)

Let me explain: While teaching high school home ec. I had my students use this dough recipe for pizza, cinnamon rolls, calzones, orange rolls and homemade pretzels. Picture high school sophomore boys, who still haven't mastered personal hygiene, pulling out a piping hot calzone and having it look and taste perfect. Ta da! If they can make it without messing up, you can!

Next, this dough lets you be lazy or last minute. It's great when I have time to knead it properly and let it rise, but sometimes I just don't have the time. I skip those steps, yep, it still turns out fabulously. If you're in a hurry, just toss it right to the pan and you'll still be proud of the results. Are you convinced yet?

Follow along with me and learn how to make some amazing bread dough your husband won't be able to resist!

Husband Rating: 5 stars

1/2 cup warm water
1 Tbsp. yeast
2 Tbsp. sugar (divided)
1 1/4 cups milk
4 Tbsp. butter
2 lightly beaten eggs
1 tsp. salt
4 cups flour

Follow along with the photos. It is important that you add the ingredients in the correct order.



1. In a bowl combine 1 Tbsp. sugar with 1 Tbsp. yeast. Add 1/2 cup warm water. (Too hot will kill the yeast, too cold won't activate it. Think of warm water you'd wash dishes with.) Let sit for 5 minutes, it will become foamy and doubled in size.


2. In the microwave scald 1 1/4 cups milk. This takes about a minute and fifteen seconds. (Note: scalding is not burning. Scalded milk has a distinct smell, can't describe, just smell it!) Add in 4 Tbsp. of butter (or margarine) and stir until melted. Chopping your butter into smaller pieces and stirring helps it melt faster.


3. In a mixing bowl add in your milk and melted better. Stir in 2 lightly beaten eggs, 1 Tbsp. sugar and 1 tsp. salt. If I'm making pizza dough, I like to add a tsp. of Italian Seasoning or some yummy herbs right here. If you're making cinnamon rolls or something dessert, consider adding some vanilla. It's fine to leave it plain though too:


4. Stir in 2 cups of flour. You can use white, wheat, bread, any kind of flour. Use a wooden spoon and stir it until it's mixed completely, no dry flour left.


5. Add in remaining 2 cups of flour one at a time. Stir after each addition. Now it's time to knead, put flour on your hands and work the dough. Sometimes your dough will be extra wet and you'll have to add extra flour. Sometimes it takes an extra 1/2 cup, sometimes an extra 1 1/2 cups just depending. You don't want it to be sticky, smooth and soft is your goal. If you have the time lay some flour out and knead it really well on your counter. (If you're in a hurry, just move on:)


6. When your dough forms a nice ball, and isn't sticky, you're ready to go. If you have time to let it rise, spray the top with cooking spray and let it rise for 15 minutes. If not, go right in to rolling it out for whatever you're making.

7. Baking times vary depending on what you're making, but I always cook it at 400 degrees. It's done when it's golden on top and smells amazing. Here are some ideas and my favorite things to make with the dough, I'll be linking recipes soon




1. Orange Rolls
2. Bacon, Spinach, Tomato Pizza Cups
3. Homemade Pizza
4. Calzones
5. Breadsticks
6. Pizza Bites (freezer recipe)
7. Deep dish pizza
8. Mini Pigs in a Blanket (with lil smokies)


Alright, go forth and bake. This is the recipe my friends request a copy of the most (and now that it's on my blog I don't have to repeat it on the phone anymore!) Leave comments if you have any questions.

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