Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A Pick Me Up Wednesday

After endless days of this...

...I'm talking about the rain and the road, I've been feeling a bit down. Kind of cranky, kind of on edge, kind of blah. So when I started thinking about my What I'm Lovin' Wednesday post earlier in the week, I was worried about what it would include.

Then this happened...

I'm loving a Bloggy Birthday Party! And I'm loving the pretty butterfly on my bloggy birthday gift.

A group of bloggy and IRL gal pals gathered this week to celebrate our Bloggy Birthdays. Most of the group started blogging about this time a year ago. So we decided to have a Bloggy Birthday Brunch (say that 3 times fast) and celebrate.

It also gave us an opportunity to do several things that we love to do:
  • Some baking
  • Some blogging
  • Some talking
  • Some games
Wait a minute, did I say games? I'm one of those people who really don't like party games - at baby showers, at bridal showers, at anything.

But I have to admit something (just sayin' Cris)...

I'm loving the "one thing" game. I don't think that is its real name, but I can't remember the name so that's what I'm calling it!

Each of the gals wrote our name on a blank sheet of paper and taped it to our backs...yes our backs. Then we moved around the room writing one nice thing about each other (personal comment, comment on their blog, etc). Let me tell you, it was a sight to one time we had a real "commenting train" going on.

After we finished our comments, we went around the room and read our sheets out loud.

I'm loving all the nice things on my sheet...

 I'm loving that others love the randomness of this blog.

I'm loving that I make someone smile.

I'm lovingthat my pumpkin chocolate chip muffins are...wait for it...LEGENDARY. At least they are among a select group of 5-8 year olds in Indiana!

These gals don't know how much I needed their kind words this week. I have the best bloggy and IRL gal pals EVER!

What are you loving today? Head over to this kind of love and share.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Yoga Pants, Candy Coated Eggs and a Winner

I think Wednesday is my favorite day to post.

It's a day that I usually post my random, rambling thoughts (as if I have any other kind).

It's a day to share what I'm lovin' thanks to this kind of love...check it out!

I'm loving that I get to announce the winner (a day late) of the Pillsbury Bake-off prize pack provided by Pillsbury through MyBlogSpark. And the winner is...

 jrutherford251...who is lovin' some monkey bread! Congrats!

I'm loving these yoga pants (at least I call them yoga pants even when I'll never do yoga in them) from Gap Body. They are super comfortable AND they come in TALL which is AWESOME.

I'm loving light weight knit cardigans...I've bought three in the last two weeks. I even got one in unlike my usual - black or gray or black.

I'm loving these...though I still want to snag a bag of the Dove dark chocolate marshmallow eggs that I saw on Beyer Beware last week. Sorry for the awful photo (Blackberry camera plus hotel room lighting equals this).

I'm loving these albums...I added both 21 and Sigh No More to my iTunes playlist recently and can't get enough of either.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Grandma's Butterscotch Brownies

Growing up, my family and I spent every major holiday (Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter) at my paternal grandparent's home. I should add that they lived a couple of miles away from us. Their house sat on the main farm where my dad worked so we spent a lot of our days there but holidays were special times.

Grandma would do the majority of the cooking with everyone else bringing a covered dish to add to the already groaning table.

When Amy over at a Latte with Ott, A revealed that Baking Powder was the secret ingredient for her April 15-22 Iron Chef Challenge, I decided to honor my grandma by using one of her recipes.


Luckily, Baby Sister sat down with our grandma several years ago and recorded several of her recipes - some that were written on well-worn recipe cards and others that resided only in grandma's head. Baby Sister then put together the collection and gave each of my sisters (and I think my cousins) a copy.

Every Christmas Eve, Grandma would make a crock pot or two of her Oyster Soup, which was a favorite of my dad. Every Thanksgiving, there would be a pan of dressing next to the turkey.

My grandma made a great angel food cake from scratch, as well as a cookie sheet cake that my mom remembers fondly. Actually, my mom flipped through these recipes and decided to make my dad some bread pudding over the weekend using Grandma's recipe!

This time of year always makes me remember one of my family's quirky traditions. For as long as I can remember, my family headed over to my grandparent's house on Holy Saturday (the day before Easter) for some of my grandma's Butterscotch Rolls - these ooey gooey pecan topped cinnamon rolls. They were delicious and after 40 days of little to no sweets because of Lent, we devoured pan after pan of them.

I thought about making her Butterscotch Rolls but I thought I might keep those for a future Iron Chef Challenge (perhaps with a secret ingredient of yeast?).

I settled for Grandma's Butterscotch Brownies. I have to admit that I don't remember my grandma making these but when I looked at the ingredients I could imagine that this was a recipe that she put together when she needed a dessert in a hurry.

I gathered my ingredients, including Clabber Girl Baking Powder - the secret ingredient.

If you saw Grandma's recipe above, it didn't give step-by-step directions. So, I called upon my many years of 4-H training and put the brownies together like this...

I started by combining 2 cups of brown sugar and a half cup of shortening. Using a hand mixer (I don't have a fancy Kitchenaid), I mixed them together.

Then I added 2 eggs and mixed well.

Then I added 2 teaspoons of vanilla. (I used my cool new adjustable measuring spoon from Pampered Chef - it has a 2 teaspoon setting!)

I set aside the wet ingredients and decided to sift together my dry ingredients - 1 and a half cups flour and 2 teaspoons Clabber Girl Baking Powder. (Did you know Clabber Girl is an Indiana company?)

Once combined, I added half the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mixed.

I like to incorporate the dry ingredients in by hand before turning on the mixer because when I don't, flour flies everywhere. Maybe it's operator error, but it always happens to me! Always.

Here's what the completed dough looked like...

I decided that it was lacking something...specifically it was lacking chocolate. So I added a cup of chocolate chips!

Then I spread the dough into a 9x13 pan...yes I covered mine in foil because I have 10 rolls of foil in my pantry and I HATE washing baking pans.

Then I baked it in a preheated 350 degree oven for 20-25 minutes. Since this was my first time baking this treat, I worried a bit about how long to leave it in so I left it in for 23 minutes...probably could have left it in for the full 25 and been just fine.

Because it had shortening in it, the brownies puffed up quite impressively while in the oven and then settled once cooled.

The insides were gooey, kind of like butterscotch - I think. They were quite good and my dad said that they tasted similar to what he remembered. So they were a success!

Have a recipe using baking powder that you think is a winner? Go here and enter Ott, A's Iron Chef Challenge. Deadline to enter is April 22!

Grandma's Butterscotch Brownies
2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup shortening
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup chocolate chips (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Cream together brown sugar and shortening. Add eggs and mix well. Add vanilla and mix.

Sift together flour and baking powder. Slowly add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and mix well.

Spread into greased 9x13 pan. Bake 20-25 minutes.

I also linked up to: 

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Cinnamon Cream Cheese Roll

I got inspired this weekend and did a bit of baking...stay tuned for my Iron Chef entry (secret ingredient Baking Powder) over at a Latte with Ott, A later this week.

I also decided to get creative and TRY to "create" a recipe for the Pillsbury Bake-Off in honor of my Pillsbury Bake-Off giveaway that ends on Monday, April 18.

I started with these...

I started out with the regular Pillsbury cinnamon rolls and unfortunately, they do NOT unravel like the Grands. So, I went BACK to the grocery store for the Grands and decided to go to my parent's house to make this treat. I thought it might be nice to have Mom's opinion on my creation AND I could leave half the roll there so I wouldn't eat it all by myself.

I rolled out each cinnamon roll onto a cookie sheet. If I do this again, I think I'll roll them out on some wax or parchment paper. Then I cut each one in half and laid them side-by-side and pressed their edges together.

Then I used a rolling pin to roll the dough out a bit and fuse the rolls together. I had to scrap the cinnamon off the rolling pin and spread it back over the rolls - a bit messy but that's OK...baking isn't for neat freaks!

I had already mixed up the filling and forgot to take pictures of the process. I used 6 ounces of softened cream cheese, 1 egg, 1/3 cup sugar and 1/2 t. salt. Mix all the ingredients together and spread on top of the rolls.

My family (minus one sister) are big pecan fans, so mom chopped up some pecans and I sprinkled them on top of the filling.

I carefully started on one end and rolled it into a loaf and transferred it onto another greased cookie sheet. I forgot to snap a photo before I put it into the oven so I quickly snapped on while it was baking!

Bake according to the directions on the cinnamon roll package. We baked ours on 350 degrees for about 18 minutes.

Once it's out of the oven, let it cool for 5-10 minutes.

Then use the icing from the cinnamon roll package to cover the loaf.

Cut and serve.

It was a wonderful treat warm with a cup of coffee!

There's still time to enter my Pillsbury Bake-Off giveaway. Just leave a comment on the post about my Pillsbury Bake-Off giveaway that ends on Monday, April 18.

Do you have a recipe using Pillsbury products that you think is a winner? April 18 is also the deadline to enter your recipe in the Pillsbury Bake-Off.

Pillsbury provided me with the free product, information, and giveaway through MyBlogSpark. All opinions in this post are my own, of course!

Friday, April 15, 2011

If I Had to Choose

Disclaimer: The subject of this blog post is purely hypothetical. I do not currently have or ever plan to have sister wives.

Last night was a rare treat for me. I had supper - on a work night - with three women whom I have known for quite a while but became good friends with only after we all started our own blogs about a year ago.

I'll explain the relevance of this photo later...

The conversation was fast-paced, serious, light-hearted and random as it always is when we get together and when a bottle of wine may or may not be involved.

Somehow we got on the topic of our unabashed love of all shows BRAVO and TLC. Then someone mentioned the show Sister Wives and their fascination with the dynamic between the three long-time sister wives and the new wife - especially in terms of child-rearing.

I looked around the table and made the comment that if I had to choose sister wives it would be these three women. Here's why...and not because I wanted to share their husbands (I'm the only single gal in the group) - though Sister Wife #3 is married to one of the funniest men ever.

Sister Wife #1 (Leah of Beyer Beware): I called her on my way to our dinner and told her about my day, how I was running late and how I forgot to look up directions to where we were meeting. Like a good Sister Wife, she listened to me, told me that she was running behind too and gave me directions!

Sister Wife #2 (Heather of 3 Kids and Lots of Pigs): She had dinner prepared when I arrived (yummy shredded pork - duh - and a crock pot french fried onion cheesy hashbrown casserole) and my favorite Coke Zero waiting for me. She also kept a watchful eye on the multitude of children (none mine) while they played outdoors as we sat at the kitchen table and chatted.

Sister Wife #3 (Cris of Goodeness Gracious): She had her trusty Nikon there to document our evening. She also keeps me (all of us) on task and we wouldn't be where we are today with our blogs and in our friendships without her.

Now, I don't think I'm cut out for all that is involved with being a Sister Wife but I think of these gals as the Sister Wives of my heart because I know that they have my back and I can count on them for a laugh, advice or for help finding my car keys in the dark...actually they were Leah's keys but we stuck together until they were found just like true Sister Wives!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

What I'm Loving Wednesday: Relax

I'm loving that I got my taxes done tonight (yeah!) and I got a refund even though I had to start paying back my first time home buyer's tax credit. Now I can...

I'm loving that European men wear such cool shoes. Not many white Reeboks in Vienna!

I'm loving all the cool tights and boots that European women were wearing just a couple of weeks ago. I fell in love with a pair of blue boots with a wide ribbon (sounds odd but they were GORGEOUS) that I saw a cool Swiss gal wearing...unfortunately my Internet searches are coming up empty. I may have to settle for a cool pair of patterned tights.

I'm loving all of the cow apparel I saw in Austria and Switzerland, especially this belt. Just Kidding! The belt stayed in the store I found it in.

I'm loving these squirrels I found in a street market in Munich...unfortunately I didn't buy one. I may have to go back.

Linking to What I'm Loving Wednesday over at this kind of love.


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