Thursday, September 29, 2011

Coffee Done Pretty

In celebration of National Coffee Day, I'm sharing a photo from my European adventure earlier this year.

This was taken in the small German town of Oberammergau.

Say that name 3 times fast!

The coffee was not only pretty to look at but delicious to drink!

I really enjoyed the cappuccinos while over in Europe but for some reason shy away from ordering them now that I'm home.

Why is that? Any thoughts?

What's your favorite coffee drink?

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Look What I Got in the Mail

I participated in my first blog gift swap recently. 

I LOVE to shop for gifts and REALLY love to shop for a bunch of little things to put together. Unfortunately, I forgot to snap a photo of the gifts I sent to my blogging gift swap partner. 

However, here's what the lovely Randa over at About Life (be sure to check out her blog...someone is getting married soon) sent to me.

Dark chocolate espresso snack mix, dark chocolate Godiva chocolates...can you tell I emphasized my love of dark chocolate in my "favorite things" list?

Thanks to Meg over at Life of Meg for hosting the Fall Frenzy Blog Gift Swap. It was great fun.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Sleepless Night and Monday Mingle

Don't you hate those nights when you just can't get to sleep?

That's what happened to me last night. Usually when I can't sleep, my brain is working overtime thinking about the work I need get done the next day...but last night I kept thinking about chocolate.

Might have had something to do with the massive amounts of chocolate I consumed on Saturday at my Dove Chocolate Discoveries party (see yesterday's post) or it could have been the bowl of dark chocolate mousse I finished off right before bed. (I didn't like the bowl, I promise.)

Whatever the culprit was, it sucked.

I went to bed around 11 p.m. and for the next 45 minutes all I heard were sirens and rain. I live in rural America, not in NYC or LA - the sirens were unusual but I refused to shut my window. I'm stubborn like that.

I woke up again around 2 a.m. but I'm not sure why. I think I fell back asleep quickly that time.

Then around 4:15 a.m. it happened. I was awakened by a loud clattering noise from downstairs.

It made me jump. It scared me. It didn't make me get out of bed.

It did make me lay quietly and listen for footsteps.

I decided that if it WAS a burglar, I would just let him take whatever he wanted downstairs and not invite any more trouble!

Needless to say I didn't get much sleep after that!

I'm happy to report the noise was nothing more than the cover of my doorbell falling to the floor. No burglar to be seen.

I think I'll go to bed now!

Mingle 240

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Chocolate on Your Beef Roast

My Baby Sister and one of my BFFs recently BOTH became "chocolatiers" for Dove Chocolate Discoveries...think a Pampered Chef party but with chocolate, lots of chocolate...DOVE chocolate!

I offered to host the first party for Baby Sister...of course, I promised to host the party in August and it didn't happen. However, I did get myself together and we had the party on Saturday. My BFF even came over from Ohio to help out!

It was a great excuse to have some family and friends over to my condo. For many of the guests, it was the first time they'd seen my place.

(Side Note: My mom and I argued on how long I have lived in my condo...I said 2 years, she said 5 years. I looked it up tonight and it's been just over 3 years, so we were both off!)

Unfortunately, I did get any photos of the wonderful chocolate mousse, mudslide chocolatinis, white chocolate meyer lemon cake and more...I was too busy sampling and trying to be a hostess.

(Side Note 2: The milk chocolate fondue was a HIT with both the adults and the kiddos in attendance.)

I did snap a couple photos of Baby Sister prepping our main dish of the night...Shredded Beef featuring a couple of the Dove Savory Selections.

We started by putting some Sweet 'n Spicy Cocoa Rub on a couple frozen beef roasts I had in the freezer.

When we thought we added enough rub, we dumped on some more...just because we could.

We also added a can of regular Coke to the bottom of the crockpot. Then I set it to High and let it do its thing for 6 hours. The roasts weren't quite as tender as I wanted them to be after 6 hours, so I left it on high for another hour or so.

Then I started forking the roasts apart so my guests could make mini shredded beef sandwiches on King's Hawaiian Sweet Rolls (I love those rolls).

We added some of the Dove Sweet 'n Smoky Chocolate BBQ Sauce to our sandwiches and they rocked!

The sandwiches were a great savory addition to what was a very sweet tasting party!

If you live in Central Indiana and are interested in hosting a Dove Chocolate Discoveries party of your own, send me an email and I'll connect you to Baby Sister! If you don't live around us, check out their website for a chocolatier near you!

Hunk of Meat Mondays

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Loving on Leontien, Vacation and Fall TV

I'm wrapping up a week of vacation where I did nothing more exciting than sleep in, clean my house, and cook up some butterscotch rolls...and maybe some pinning over on Pinterest!

Here are just a few things I'm "loving on Wednesday."

I'm loving...My wonderful IRL and blogging buddies, Liz and Cris. They organized a wonderful "love bomb" effort for our friend Leontien who just found out that she has cancer for the second time in just a few years. 

In just one day, the Love for Leontien Facebook page had more than 100 likes. Head over and give her some encouragement and love!

Don't know the connection between skull underwear and cancer? Check out Leontien's blog post.

When you are saying a little prayer for Leontien, please say an extra one for my granny. She's in a lot of pain and my family is bracing ourselves for the worst. I just want her to be at peace and not hurt anymore, whatever path that leads her down.

On a lighter note...I'm loving that the new television season kicked off this week. I didn't PLAN my vacation around it but it was a great coincidence. 

I'm loving and looking forward to...

Source: via Megan on Pinterest


I'm loving...that I've probably spent too much time on Pinterest this week and not enough time cleaning my house. Oh well...look what I found!

For my NYC trip at the end of October...
Source: via Megan on Pinterest

For my wall...I really did buy this!

Source: via Megan on Pinterest

For my listening pleasure, I've been obsessed with these guys...

I'm in love with Mumford and Sons. If you don't have their CD...go get it now! Or plug them into Pandora and enjoy the mix!

What are YOU loving this Wednesday?

Linking up here.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Grandma's Butterscotch Rolls

It's that time again...Iron Chef Challenge over at A Latte' with Ott, A and this month the secret ingredient is...Red Star Yeast. I've really enjoyed participating in these challenges over the last several months and I even took home first place for my Dirt Pudding effort for my dad on Father's Day!

For this challenge, I made these...


These are my Grandma's Butterscotch Rolls. (I realized when making these that I made Grandma's Butterscotch Brownies for an earlier challenge...I must like butterscotch AND my grandma!)

I have NEVER attempted to make these on my own even though I enjoy them every Holy Saturday with my family. I don't know why my dad's mom made these for us on the evening before Easter but I do remember that they were ALWAYS delicious.

When my grandma could no longer bake, my mom took up the tradition and began making them.

I decided that Ott, A's Iron Chef Challenge was the perfect excuse opportunity to tackle these even if Easter was months ago!

So, I gathered my ingredients and my mom's copy of the original recipe in my grandma's handwriting.

Note the King Arthur Flour left over from the Pizza Batter Bread I made for yet another challenge.

I didn't take many photos of the process because I have to admit that working with yeast intimidates me and I need all my concentration not to mess it up!

I did take a couple photos of steps that I thought were important.

First, I pulled out the candy thermometer to test the water in which a dissolved my yeast. I really appreciate the fact that Red Star has the water temperatures for use of yeast when dissolving directly into water (around 115 degrees F) OR mixed with dry ingredients and THEN mixed with liquids. The last time I worked with yeast, I went through two recipes and three packages of yeast before I got it right!

I also used the thermometer to test the temperature of my scalded milk BUT I still didn't let it cool enough and cooked my eggs just a bit...thank goodness for a strainer!

My grandma's rolls always had pecan halves on top. I like pecans but the pecans were a bit overpowering so I decided to give mine a spin in my mini food processor.

I LOVE this little machine. Just throw the pecans in, push the button and you have chopped pecans.

Here's a shot of the rolls freshly out of the oven in the pan and out of it. Don't let them sit too long in the pan after they are out of the oven or the topping will stick to the pan.

As you will see, these do NOT have pecans on them. Some of my family does not enjoy pecans so I made four pans sans pecans and one large pans with pecans.

See that ooey-gooey goodness? That's what makes these rolls so good. I didn't add enough topping to the first couple of pans so they were lacking ooey-gooey goodness but they were still yummy.

Here's the pecan-topped rolls...

That's what I'm talking about! Ooey-Gooey Pecan-Topped Goodness!

Here's the recipe! I will warn you that I had to interpret some of the steps because as with many recipes handed down in families, this one is a bit ambiguous.

Butterscotch Rolls

3 c. whole milk
1/3 c. butter
3 well-beaten eggs
1 1/2 t. salt
2/3 c. sugar
2 packages yeast

1/2 c. hot water
1/2. c butter
1 c. brown sugar

Scald 3 cups milk and then add 1/3 cups butter. Cool the mixture to lukewarm. Meanwhile soak the 2 packages of yeast in 2/3 cups of lukewarm water. When milk is lukewarm, add the yeast and the remaining ingredients to the milk and butter.

Then add enough flour to make a soft dough. (For me, this was about 6 1/2 cups of flour. I think my dough was still a bit sticky so I might have been able to add another cup or so.) Knead dough for 10 minutes. Let rise until double in bulk. Punch down and let rise until double again.

Roll dough out. (I rolled the dough out into one huge piece...afterwards my mom said that she divides the dough into fourths and then rolls it out...her way would have been MUCH more manageable.)

Spread with softened butter and sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon (again Grandma did say how much so use your best judgement). Roll up the dough and cut into 1/2-inch slices.

Grease pans, mix the topping ingredients together (it will be VERY thin) and pour in the bottom of the pans. Add pecans.

Put rolls into pans cut side down. I covered the pans with a towel and let the rolls rise for about 15 minutes before baking them at 350 degrees F for 20-25 minutes.

Remove the pans from oven, let them cool slightly and then flip them out onto a plate.

Serve them warm...I promise you'll thank me!

I'm linking up to the Iron Chef Challenge, Two Maids a Baking and Made from Scratch Tuesday.


Disclaimer: The recipe is from my grandma, the yeast was provided by Red Star Yeast, the opinions are all my own.

Monday, September 19, 2011

This is for You, Leontien

My lovely friend is dealing with some heavy stuff right now.

Her cancer is back.

So, I'm joining some friends to "love bomb" her today to show her how much we love and care for her. Check out the Love for Leontien Facebook page and leave a note.

Leontien loves her husband.

Leontien loves her family.

Leontien loves her dairy cows.

Leontien loves her horses.

Leontien loves Calvin and Hobbes, chocolate and books.

There's one more thing that I know she loves...well at least loves to look at. 

So, Leontien, this is for you...

Source: via Megan on Pinterest

I wasn't sure which Jared Leto you like best. I'm partial to the one above, but just in case you like him with a bit of eyeliner...

Source: None via Megan on Pinterest

Source: via Megan on Pinterest

And one more just because I can...

Source: via Megan on Pinterest

Leontien, if you need more "pick-me-ups" let me know!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

In Full Bloom

I've been updating the status of my Sweet Autumn clematis and I'm happy to report that it's in FULL BLOOM!

Isn't it gorgeous?

I'm so excited for a few upcoming vacation days so I can be at home to enjoy it more.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Divine Wine Cupcakes

I am thinking that this would be a great wordless Wednesday post but I want to share the recipe with you because these cupcakes are seriously delicious AND easy to make.

Remember the Friends episode when Rachel makes the trifle and accidentally mixes two recipes together and adds a layer of beef sauteed with peas and onions (I think) and Joey says..."Jam, good. Custard, good. Beef, good."

I promise that there's no beef sauteed with peas and onions in these cupcakes but there is an unusual ingredient...

Zinfandel wine! It's in both the cupcake AND the frosting...thus the blog post title "Divine Wine Cupcakes!"

Here's the recipe for all of you chocolate AND wine lovers!

Zinfandel Cupcakes

1 box devil's food cake mix (super moist recommended)
3/4 c. water
1/2 c. Zinfandel wine
1/2 c. vegetable oil
3 eggs
1 c. miniature semisweet chocolate chips

Heat oven to 350 degrees (325 degrees for dark or nonstick pan). Place paper baking cup in each of 24 regular-size muffin cups. Make cake batter as directed on box using cake mix, water, wine, oil and eggs. Stir in chocolate chips. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups (about 1/2 full).

Bake 20 to 22 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the center. Cool in pans 10 minutes, remove from pans to cooling rack. Cool completely, about 30 minutes.

6 c. powdered sugar
1/2 c. butter, softened
1/2 c. unsweetened baking cocoa
1/2 t. salt
1/2 c. Zinfandel wine

In large bowl, beat powdered sugar, butter, cocoa and salt with electric mixer on low speed until blended. Beat in wine. If frosting is too think, beat in more wine a few drops at a time. Frost cupcakes. Garnish with chocolate curls (if desired).

I veered from the recipe in a couple of cases.

I didn't have mini chocolate chips so I used regular chips...however I failed to coat them prior to mixing them into the batter and the chips fell to the bottom of the cupcakes while baking. So I suggest taking a couple of tablespoons of your dry cake mix and tossing it with your chips. This should keep them from dropping to the bottom of your cupcakes!

Second, I just realized as I am typing the recipe that I forgot to add the salt to my frosting...I think it turned out OK.

And...I sifted my powdered sugar and cocoa before mixing them with the butter. I also started with four cups of powdered sugar and a quarter cup of wine and added more of each until I got the consistency and the taste I thought worked best.

I definitely recommend these cupcakes...they'd be great for a girls night in or a bridal shower or a Tuesday night.

Friday, September 9, 2011

iHave a New Obsession

i ordered one of these today...
Source: via Megan on Pinterest

And now i have a new past time...hunting iPhone accessories on Pinterest.

It could turn into a full time job.

I'm serious...look at this.

Source: via Megan on Pinterest

and what about this pouch...

Source: via Megan on Pinterest

i have also found some covers that are just plain fun.

and what about this one...

Source: via Megan on Pinterest

i'm in love with this...

There are also some very cool accessories available. The iPhone has a great camera so there are lenses for it!

Source: via Megan on Pinterest

i've seen this one used by celebrities but don't think it's for me...

Source: via Megan on Pinterest

i'm afraid that as rough as i am with my phones this is what i'll have to fashion my cover from...

Source: via Megan on Pinterest

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Thankful Thursday: Sweet Baby Niece

I was able to spend some quality one-on-one time with my youngest niece this week.

I saw several Thankful Thursday posts up already and thought that title was appropriate for these two photos.

I think I've said it on here before but I'll say it again. I have always been a sucker for matching/coordinating shirts for my nephews and now I have two nieces just six months apart so the trend continues.

I got the girls matching butterfly costumes for Halloween and I put the little one in hers to see how it fit.

Adorable, right? Just imagine another little girl with the same outfit sitting on the couch next to her...double adorable!

I'm thankful that I have six happy, healthy nephews and nieces AND that they all live within 5 minutes of me.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Floating Down the River

Last week I took a tour of the Ohio River and the McAlpine Locks near Louisville, Ky. for work. Originally we were supposed to float down the river on a barge but at the last minute we switched to the Spirit of Jefferson.

Now, while I have a secret fantasy of floating down the Mississippi on a barge to New Orleans, I wasn't too upset that we made the switch.

It was 90-plus degrees out and the Spirit has air conditioning...and a crew that serves cold soft drinks.

The barge has a canopy and a cooler of pop.

The trip is designed so that participants learn a bit more why the river system is so important to farmers. Quite a bit of our corn and soybeans are shipped on our inland waterways.

It was an enjoyable morning on the water. (I love the being on it or near it NOT in it! Unlike another person on the barge...I do NOT want to reach out and hug the river. I admire it from afar.)

We saw a few barges...

We went under a railroad bridge...

We enjoyed a day on the river...

Linking up to Pinke Post.


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