Tuesday, November 30, 2010


I just wanted to pop in really quick.  I was not able to go forth with the challenge yesterday.  I've gotten a bug and have been in bed and food is the last thing on my mind.  I'm hoping that I will be back to normal tomorrow.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Day 14: Bread.....again

It's that time again.  Bread day.  We are going to have bread out the wazoo now that my mom is making it too.  Today I made all three loaves regular bread.  We are still working on the cinnamon bread that I made last time so I didn't want to make anymore of that yet. 

Update: The lemon meringue pie was runny.  I'm not sure what happened, maybe I didn't let it set long enough before adding the meringue.  It tastes great but is somewhat runny.  We live, we learn.  Next time I will make sure that it is fully set and possibly cook the meringue longer. 

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Day 13: Lemon Meringue Pie

I love lemon meringue pie, minus the meringue.  I know, it's weird.  I should just eat lemon pie right.  But this was actually a request made by my husband.  I told him I would make it and found a recipe.  I'm going to try the same pie crust as before but this time I have my wax paper.  I didn't have it last time and apparently that's a pretty important part of making the dough come out right.

I found this recipe in a newspaper and clipped it so I have no date or newspaper name.

Lemon Meringue Pie

1/2 package pie crust mix of 1 (9 inch) refrigerator pie crust
1 1/3 c. sugar (for filling)
1/2 c. cornstarch
1/4 tsp. salt
1 3/4 c. water
4 eggs, separated 
2 tbs. butter or margarine
1 tbs. grated lemon rind
1/2 c. fresh lemon juice (about 4 lemons)
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
1/2 c. sugar (for meringue) 

1)I made a pie crust from scratch.  I cooked it at 450 degrees per the recipe for 8-10 minutes, or until golden brown.

2)Combine sugar (for filling), cornstarch, and salt in a medium sized saucepan; gradually stir in water.

3) Cook over medium heat stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil and is thickened.  Boil 1 minute and then remove from heat.

4) Beat egg yolks slightly in a bowl.  Slowly blend in 1/2 cup of the hot cornstarch mixture and then slowly pour back into remaining mixture in saucepan.  Cook, stirring constantly, over low heat for two minutes and remove from heat. (Remember to do this gradually otherwise you will end up with scrambled eggs)

5)Stir in butter or margarine, lemon rind and lemon juice. (I could only find really big bags of lemons, which I couldn't see myself using.  Instead I skipped the lemon rind and used bottled 100% lemon juice.  Gasp!  I know, bad me.)

6) Pour into cooled pie crust.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold, about 3 hours. (This part really irritated me because the plastic wrap kept touching the lemon filling.  I finally gave up trying to get it to not touch after about the 4th attempt)

7) Beat egg whites with cream of tartar until foamy-white and doubled in volume; gradually add remaining 1/2 c. sugar.  Beat until all the sugar dissolves and meringue stands firm. (This took way longer than I thought.  I beat them for at least 10 minutes, took a 5 minute break and went back.  I even added a tiny bit more cream of tartar)

8) Using a pastry bag or spoon form meringue into 10-12 large puffs on a greased and floured parchment lined baking sheet. (I didn't have parchment paper so I used aluminum foil.  I sprayed cooking spray on it and then sprinkled with flour.  I made sure the flour was spread evenly.  I used two spoons to make little mounds)

9)Bake at 425 degrees for 3-5 minutes until peaks turn golden.  Cool on baking sheet.  When puffs are cool carefully place them on the cold pie. (Stay close and watch them.  Mine took right at 3-3.5 minutes to turn golden and the oven wasn't even preheated completely) 

Overall it was not a super difficult pie to make.  There are several parts like the crust, filling and then the meringue topping.  I did the meringue before the pie was fully cooled but I was ready for it to all be finished.  I think with this being the first time that I've made a lemon meringue pie it was fairly simple. 

Provide Positive Feedback

So about a week ago I decided to send an e-mail to Dannon.  My son LOVES their yogurt smoothie drinks.  I figured that it was worth telling taking a few minutes to tell them how much we enjoy their product and asking if there were any coupons available.

The next day I received an e-mail thanking me for my feedback and talking about how they try to provide the best product possible for their customers and that they enjoy receiving feedback.  It also said that they have mailed coupons to the address I provided them.

Today when checking my mail I received an envelope from Dannon.  Inside was a letter thanking me for taking the time to contact and providing positive comments about their product.  There was a section talking about product development and, high standards and customer satisfaction.  Included were two $.50 off any Dannon product (excluding 5.3 and 6 oz cups) and a coupon for FREE any one 4 pack or 6 pack Dannon cup, drink or dual tubes. 

The point is, companies like getting feedback, especially positive feedback.  Think about how many people complain to companies.  For the company, it must be nice to hear positive comments every now and then.  So if you really enjoy a product, send the company a letter or e-mail.  It only takes a few minutes and they may in turn send you coupons for one of your favorite items. 

General Update

Things have been a little busy lately to say the least.  With the holidays in full swing and me in the middle of the baking challenge it seems that's all I have time to blog about.  That along with chasing after a busy 3 year old.  I'm still trying to figure out how a person that small can make such big messes.

I also wanted to mention that if it seems like my bread making is off a day or so, your right.  I forgot to feed the starter time before last until late afternoon so I decided to just wait until the following morning instead of having to wait until after midnight to mix up the dough.  Since the recipe says to feed it every 3-5 days I usually wait and do it on day 4.  But that time and then again this time I've forgotten so it's not getting fed until day 5. 

As for the Organization Series, I have every intention of finishing it but like I mentioned before, it's just been busy around here.  Once the holidays are past as well as the holiday challenge then I will be able to jump back in with the organization and get back on track with our $40 a week.  I'm not gonna lie, right now we are well over $40 a week, mostly because of the holiday challenge and all of the extra baking items that I need and the quantities of baking items that I need.  However, we did plan on spending over $40 a week for November and December due to the holiday and my tendency to want to bake and cook so we aren't too far off from our budget.  I will also need the challenge of getting reorganized after the holidays with all the time I've been spending in the kitchen and extra supplies that we have purchased.  Right now I go through 1 bag of all purpose flour, wheat flour and bread flour about every 2 weeks, sometimes I fun out faster than that.  We were already over $40 a week for November and then I came up with the holiday challenge and really wanted to see if I would be able to do it.  I mean baking/making something everyday for 6 weeks may not seem like much but it does take some planning.  I actually need to take a little time today or tomorrow to map out December's challenge plan and do a little menu planning.  On Thanksgiving my sister actually asked me, "So, what's the point of you doing this every day?"  I didn't know that there had to be a point.  I was honest and told her that I wanted to do it just to see if I could.  It's as simple as that. 

So that is where I am right now.  I am determined to keep up with the Holiday challenge and finish it.  Once that madness is over then I will get back to my normal posts.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Day 12: Homemade Hot Chocolate Mix

This time of year it's normally at least chilly.  Not so much lately.  However, I love homemade hot chocolate.  When I just want a little I will make the recipe on the Hershey's cocoa container.  Last year around this time I decided to make a mix so that I didnt' have to go through all the trouble of making a pot, this way I could just make a cup at a time.  I found this recipe on Hillbilly Housewife.  It's really fast to mix up and tastes yummy.  I did add only 1 1/2 cups of sugar because much more is a little too sweet for me. 

I thought after all of the over indulging from yesterday it would be a nice change of pace to make a snack item instead of a sweet treat.  I don't know about anyone else but I have 2 loaves of bread, 3 kinds of pie, part of a pound cake and then goodies left over from last week in my kitchen right now.  I NEEDED something that would not require me to eat!

I ended up with several small container full of the mix.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Day 11: Pound Cake

Pound cake......my belly is happy just thinking about it.  I have to say that this is one of my all time favorites.  For me, the best part is the crunchy crust that forms on the top when it's baking.  I will stand there and pick it off and eat it all if allowed.  Today is Thanksgiving and we are going to my uncles for lunch.  I was asked to bring something for little man and I but after being told what is already going to be there I decided that everything was already covered and I should just bring another dessert.  I started thinking about what would be good and what was not already being taken.  Then it hit me, pound cake!  I haven't made one in at least a year.  I avoided them because little man couldn't have them because of how many eggs were in them.  With his egg allergy we could substitute other baking items for eggs but with a pound cake there are too many eggs to use substitutions because it would mess up the cake.  Now that little man is no longer allergic to eggs I can finally make a pound cake and let him have some! 

This recipe came from  a 1987 church cookbook that I borrowed from my mom for a different recipe and then found this pound cake recipe.

Pound Cake

3 c. plain flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 c. butter
1/2 c. shortening
3 c. sugar
6 eggs
1 1/4 tsp. vanilla
1 c. milk

Cream together sugar, butter and shortening.  Add baking powder to flour and sift 3 times.  Gradually add flour to creamed ingredients.  Add eggs and milk as needed to mix.  Add vanilla.  Put in cold oven for 1 1/2 hours at 350.

So I didn't follow those instructions to a tee.  I creamed together the butter, sugar and shortening.  I then added 3 eggs, mixed it up and added 3 more.  Once that was well blended I added the flour and baking powder (and no I did not sift it once let alone 3 times).  Then I added the milk.  Once it was mixed up it was a very thick batter.  I used a bunt pan that I rubbed oil in and then floured.  My pound cake only cooked about 1 hour and 15 minutes and it was done. 

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Day 10: Bread Day

It's that time again.  Time to bake bread.  Sad news, my mom made her own starter and is making bread again.  That within itself is not sad, just sad that I now have one less person to share bread with which means even more is left in my house!  I guess I will be sending loaves to work with the hubby.  I figure with the holiday and seeing more family I should be able to get some of it out of my house.  Don't forget it you need it that the bread recipe is here.

I decided to try something new with the bread today.  I planned to make all three loaves cinnamon bread.  My niece has been requesting more cinnamon bread.  I decided to experiment a little.  Normally when making cinnamon bread I make the dough, knead it, spread margarine on and then sprinkle the cinnamon sugar mixture.  Today I decided to use a mixture of brown sugar and cinnamon instead of the standard white sugar and cinnamon.  I was also EXTRA generous with the margarine.

With the second loaf I added another variation by mixing some of the brown sugar and cinnamon into the dough while I was kneading it.

You can see where it is mixed into the dough.  I then added the margarine and cinnamon sugar.  The last loaf I made as normal.  Here are the three loaves before baking.

And here is the finished product.

The one on the far left has a lot of the gooey butter and sugar mixture and I think that it may actually taste along the lines of monkey bread.  I'm going to test it out after it cools a bit. 

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Day 9: Zuchinni Bread

The hubby came home from work a few weeks ago and announced that all the employees who are working on Thanksgiving are going to bring in dishes so that they can still have something like a Thanksgiving meal.  As he's telling me this he says so I'm taking in the rotisserie and a chicken and I also said I'd make zucchini bread.  Then there is a long silence and he keeps looking at me.  I finally say, "So I'm making zucchini bread."  I got a sheepish, well yeah if you don't mind.  LOL  Boys. 

I got this recipe from my mother in laws cookbook.  She started making this in mini loaves in more recent years, which are great for gift giving and not too much that it will go bad before it can be eaten.  However, I don't have mini pans so it's two regular size loaves.

Zucchini Bread

3 eggs
2 c. sugar
1 c. oil
2 c. shredded zucchini
3 tsp. vanilla
3 c. flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. baking powder
3 tsp. cinnamon

Cream together the sugar, eggs, and add oil, zucchini and vanilla.  Add the dry ingredients.  Stir well.  Bake at 350 for 1 hour.

The finished product.

The bread is delicious.  I only had to cook it for about 50 minutes. 

Monday, November 22, 2010

Day 8: Pecan Pie

I've made pecan pie from scratch one other time.  It was several years ago for the first Thanksgiving meal that I made for my husband and myself.  It's been years since then and I haven't made another.  Today, that changed.  I made the crust and filling from scratch. 

For the crust I am using a recipe I got from a friend.  The first time I made pecan pie this is the recipe I used for both the crust and pie.  I just used my Betty Crocker cookbook.  It was delicious, especially since I had never made anything like it before.  I plan to still use the same filling recipe provided in the link above.

So the crust was not working with me.  I wasn't sure how it was going to come out.  I ended up having to add more oil and water so that it would stop crumbling and stay together.  I was scared that it would be too oily or taste terrible.  Here is what it looked like before the filling was added.

Here's the pie before cooking.

And after.

After letting the pie cool a few minutes I got a slice.  It was still very hot but it was yummy.  Apparently, even with adding water and oil to the crust it didn't have an affect.  Homemade pecan pie is so much richer than the store bought pies.  I really wanted to make 2.  However after having so much trouble with the first crust I wanted to see how it came out before trying to make two.  But, I don't have enough eggs to make another and that's probably a good thing because I would be in trouble with two of those around. 

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Day 7: Molasses Cookies

I have actually never made these cookies.  My husband requested that I make them when we sat down to make a list of items that I should make for the holiday challenge.  His mom made these when he was a kid and they are one of his favorites.  I got the recipe from the cookbook that my mother in law made for my husband and his brothers about 10 years ago so I'm not sure where the recipe came from originally or if it's one that she has been working on and tweaked over the years.

Molasses Cookies

2 c. flour
1 c. white sugar
3/4 c. Crisco, melted
1/2 tsp. ginger
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. cloves
2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 c. molasses
1 egg
1/2 tsp. salt

1. Melt Crisco. ( I melted mine in the microwave)
2. Mix in the eggs, molasses and sugar.
3. Add remaining dry ingredients. ( I mixed all the dry ingredients together and then added the Crisco/molasses mixture.)
4. Chill for several hours.
5. Roll into 1 inch balls, then roll in white sugar. (Make sure you coat the whole cookie and do not flatten the balls)
6. Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes.

** These freeze really well according to the recipe and my husband.

Since the hubby loves these so much I doubled the recipe.  What I didn't count on was everything that went wrong.  I didn't measure the dough balls before putting them in the oven.  Here's the first batch of VERY large dough balls about to go into the oven.

Second thing to go wrong...the cookies never flattened but stayed very puffy and rounded.

After sending the hubby pictures and hearing that they were supposed to be flat and smaller I changed out the tablespoon measuring spoon I was using to scoop them up for the teaspoon measuring spoon.  After rolling a couple out I measured them with a ruler and they measured in at the 1 inch that the recipe described. 

But after coming out of the oven they were still not flat.  At this point I pulled out another cookbook thinking that maybe the recipe in the one I used was wrong since it has happened before.  As I'm reading the other cookbook I see that it says baking soda.  I rush back to the one I used and read baking soda.  Then the light bulb went off.  I used baking powder instead of baking soda.  ARG!!  When I was mixing everything up little man was helping and I was talking to the hubby and basically flitting around the kitchen grabbing ingredients and then checking the recipe and grabbing a few more and somewhere in there I misread and put the wrong ingredient in.  The good news is that it didn't affect the taste, only the consistency.    So once I realized that I decided to make the cookies like the recipe said except I used the bottom of a glass to flatten them before baking and I decreased the baking time to 8 minutes.  After those changes were made this is how the cookies came out.

So, lesson of the day:  Read the ingredient list carefully when making a new recipe.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Day 6: Granola

This is another Hillbilly Housewife recipe.  I've made this granola several times and it's definitely a favorite.  My nephew loves it and will eat it all if we let him.  If I remember correctly, the last time I made some for them it was gone within about 12 hours.  We have eaten this granola several ways.  We eat it dry, with yogurt, and as a cereal.  It has also a big hit with little man.  This is another recipe that I have to double because otherwise it is gone in about a day. 

The initial ingredients melting in the pot.

The dry ingredients waiting to be added.

Everything once it has been combined.

The granola after it has been baked.  I consider mine to be finished once the edges turn the golden brown color shown in the picture.  Sometimes that takes the full 10 minutes and other times it takes less.  I watch the granola very closely.  I check it at 5 minutes, 7 minutes and 9 minutes to prevent burning. 

And the final product after it has been crumbled.  I kept it plain this time but have added chocolate chips and chocolate candies in the past.  I'm sure that it would be delicious with chocolate candy, seeds, dried fruits or nuts added.  We tend to keep it simple so that little man(who has a peanut allergy) can still eat it.

Tip:  If you double the batch bake it separately.  I've tried to bake both batches at once and it always ends up burnt.  I would rather spend the extra 10 minutes baking and end up with a double batch of yummy granola than try to save 10 minutes and end up with burnt and inedible granola.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Day 5: Bread Day!

Well, it's that time again.  Today is another day to bake bread.  Instead of just baking the basic bread I am making 2 loaves of the cinnamon bread variation today, to be given to family, and a regular loaf for us to keep.  The recipe is on the original friendship bread post. 

I also dropped off the two baskets of shared goodies this morning.  My mom has already dug into the bread making a sandwich for lunch and sampled a donut muffin.

Here are the loaves fresh from the oven.  Yum.  It's taking some willpower not to dig in.

So Far, So Good!

Starting out, everyone that I told about the holiday challenge was a little surprised at what I wanted to do.  I basically got, "Your going to bake or make something outside of regular meals for 6 weeks!??"  But I went into it with a plan.  We made out list or recipes to make and then I made a menu plan.  I simply added it on to the calendar where I make our regular dinner menu plan.  I made sure that we have everything on hand that 's needed for that weeks recipes and off I went.  I have to say that so far it's going really well.  I'm not eating as much of it myself as I was worried that I would.  It's here and I know that something new will be made the following day.  I actually look forward to making my recipe each day.  I also love that I get to share what I've made with my family.  (Give it a few weeks and my sister may not be so happy with me, she's currently doing Weight Watcher.)  If that's the case then I'm sure I can manage to find others who would love getting goodies here and there. 

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Day 4: Donut Muffins

I found this recipe on Hillbilly Housewife.  They are so good, I always eat way more than I should.  Good thing I plan to give some away.  Here's the recipe.  Enjoy!

I decided to double the recipe today.  We usually devour them and I wanted to have enough to share with my family.  Here's the first batch cooling so that I can dip them.

My dipping station ready to go.

And the final product.

They are so messy to eat but delicious.  I just swept up powdered sugar and crumbs from little man.  He had powdered sugar on his forehead but it was adorable.   I won't lie, I didn't eat breakfast because I wanted to eat these.  I waited until the first batch was finished and the second batch was in the oven and had muffins and sausage for breakfast.  I will add that I had to devise a little system.  They are so good and I am usually so eager to eat them that I will try to dip them before they are cool and in turn burn my fingers.  So, personally it's better for me to make a double batch.  I use tongs to pull the first batch to a plate to cool.  While they are cooling I am spooning the batter for the second batch into muffin cups and by the time I can get them into the oven the first batch is cooled and easy to handle.  Then once the second batch is cooled I'm not in such a rush because I've already had my fix.  I know, it's so sad to admit that but they are so delicious.  I think that next time I will try baking them in the mini muffin tin without muffin cups and will then roll the entire mini muffin in melted margarine and the sugar mixture to make something similar to donut holes.  I definitely need to get as many of these out the house as possible.  Good thing I plan to take the baskets of goodies to my family tomorrow morning.  Doubling the batch made 26 full size muffins today.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Day 3: Rice Krispy Treats

This is a classic.  I think everyone has made or eaten these treats at one time or another.  I remember making these as a kid.  My son loves treats as he calls them.  He usually eats the store bought version.  We have made them together once before but I decided to make it extra fun this time by letting him use cookie cutter to cut them into fun shapes. 

Recipe from box of Rice Krispies
3 tbs. margarine or butter
1 pkg regular marshmallows or 4 c. mini marshmallows
6 c. Rice Krispies Cereal

1. Melt margarine or butter in large saucepan over low heat.  Add marshmallows and stir until completely melted.  Remove from heat.
2.  Mix in Rice Krispies cereal.  Stir until well coated.
3.  Spread the mixture using a buttered spatula evenly into a 13x9x2 inch pan coated with cooking spray.  Cut into 2 inch squares when cool.

**If using cookie cutters to make shapes the Rice Krispies Website says to let them cool slightly and then spray cooking spray on the cookie cutters and cut out shapes.

For lack of Thanksgiving themed cookie cutters we used a large pumpkin, small pumpkin, and half moon.  Afterward I  pieced the remains back together and cut traditional squares.  I doubled the recipe and after using cookie cutters and cutting squares ended up with about 30 treats.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Day 2: Cinnamon Rolls

I came across this recipe in the February 2009 Family Fun Magazine.  I found myself coming back to it over and over again.  It's a recipe that I have read and pull it out with the intention of making cinnamon rolls but either didn't have the ingredients or the mood left me as quickly as it struck me.  When I decided to do the Holiday Challenge I knew it had to be in there.  We are going to be a little nontraditional and have these as dinner.  I really liked the fact that they didn't have nuts, and had whole wheat flour in them.

Dough ready to rise.

This is after rolling out the dough and sprinkling on the filling.

I'm not going to lie, I measured the dough dimensions using a ruler.  Not to make it the exact dimensions that the recipe called for but to make sure that it was at least in the ballpark.  Then it was time to roll it up.

Here's what the cut cinnamon rolls looked like.

All I can say is that I am so glad I lined the pan with aluminum foil.  See below, the after baking photo.

I don't know why they oozed so much.  My husband suggested cooling the filling before adding it to the dough so that it took longer to get runny.  I may try that next time.  And finally the finished product. 

Overall they were really good.  I think next time I will go half and half on the all purpose flour and wheat flour instead of all wheat flour.  Like I mentioned before I don't know why the oozing happened but they still tasted good.  They passed the 3 year old test too, so I know that they had to taste good.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Day 1:Friendship Bread

Day one of my Holiday Challenge fell on a day I was already scheduled to bake bread.  My mom made this bread a lot when I was growing up and we all loved it.  We are big bread eaters and it was always so good.  Over the past few years she hasn't made it and I really had a craving for it.  I got the recipe from her and made my starter a week or two ago.  It seems really labor intensive but once you have the starter made it's really a matter or feeding the starter, letting it sit, mixing the dough, letting it rise, making individual loaves, letting them rise and then baking.  Ok I admit it sounds like a really long process and between the time you feed the starter and bake bread it's about a day to day and a half.  But the actual amount of time you are in the kitchen doing something with the starter or bread only totals about an hour.  I think it's worth it.  I want to keep it going through the holidays at least and maybe into the year but not as often.  I've never made it using anything other than bread flour but would be interested to see how it turns out using wheat flour or a combination of the two.

Starter1 pkg dry yeast
1/2 c. warm water (105-115 degrees)

Feed1 c. warm water (105-115 degrees)
3/4 c. sugar
3 tbs. instant potato flakes

After making starter, let it stand all day at room temperature. Refrigerate that night. After 3 days, take the starter out and feed. Make bread as instructed. After feeding starter, leave out of refrigerator all day (8-12 hours). It will be very bubbly. Take out 1 cup of starter to make bread and put the rest in the refrigerator. After 3-5 days feed starter again. Either make bread, give 1 c. of starter away or throw away 1 c. of starter every 3-5 days.

Sourdough Bread
1/3 c. sugar
1 tbs. salt
6 c. bread flour
1/2 c. corn oil
1  1/2 c. warm water
1 c. starter

1. Mix dough
2. Grease a glass or plastic bowl and place dough in it. Roll dough in bowl so all sides are oiled.
3. Cover lightly with foil and let stand overnight (8-12 hours). DO NOT REFRIGERATE.
4. The following morning punch down dough and knead.
5. Divide dough into 3 parts and knead each part on floured board or flat surface.
6. Place each section in a greased loaf pan and brush with oil.
7. Let stand to rise 4-5 hours.
8. Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven and brush with butter or margarine.

**You can also use this to make cinnamon bread. After kneading a loaf stretch the dough into a rectangle. Spread margarine or butter on the dough. Sprinkle with a mixture of cinnamon and sugar. Tightly roll the dough and place the open end down into the greased loaf pan. Sprinkle the top of the loaf with cinnamon sugar after brushing with oil.  Bake as directed.

***I would love to give a specific person credit for this bread but I do not know where it came from.  My mom got the recipe from someone who got it from someone and so on.  Her version is a hand written copy that she wrote out from a friends recipe card.

Dough at 7:15 am after rising all night.

I was in no rush and decided to allow the dough to rise until about 10:30 am.

Dough at 10:30 am

This is the point where I punched it down, divided the dough into three parts and proceeded to knead each part.

Individual loaves ready to rise for 4-5 hours (around 10:40 am).


And lastly the loaves just out of the oven and brushed with a little oil around 4:40 pm.

I wanted to post step by step photos for this because I realize that making bread can be really intimidating if you've never done it.  This recipe is a long process from the time you feed the started until you actually get bread but the majority of that time is spent waiting.  You are either waiting for the starter to bubble, waiting for the dough to rise, waiting for the loaves to rise or waiting for the bread to bake.  But this is what you get in the end.  Three loaves of yummy bread. 

Here are the loaves around 4 :00 right before they went into the oven.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Holiday Challenge Update

I sat down yesterday and planned not only our menu for the second half of the month but also my baking/making menu for the remainder of November.  I've told several friends and family about my holiday challenge, all agree with me that I must be slightly looney to do this but made sure I knew they would be more than happy to take some of the goodies off my hands.  I do think it will be fun and challenging.  I like to bake and little man likes to help.  We popped into Dollar Tree today and I bought two baskets (for delivering goodies to my family, I will just ask they return them each week for a refill), holiday themed cupcake liners and goodie boxes.  Last week i purchased holiday themed goodie bags so I have a few of those on hand.  For the next two and a half weeks I tried to make sure there was a good variety of cakes, cookies, pies, muffins and snack items so that it wouldn't be too much of one thing at t time.  Really, who needs a whole week of cakes and pies?  I'm sure it would taste yummy but would be really hard to eat it all, even with help.

Beginning Monday I will start my 6 weeks of baking.  Since I am already baking Friendship bread every 3-5 days I am allowing that to be my baking for those days. I'm actually really excited about this.  There are recipes that I have wanted to make but keep putting off as well as things that my husband wants from his childhood. 

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Holiday Challenge

I was thinking of giving myself a holiday challenge.  I made gingersnaps yesterday and was thinking about how I will be making loaves of bread today.  It got me to wondering if it would be possible and what would happen if I set a goal of baking/making something everyday from now through the Christmas holiday.  A lot of weeks I bake/make something at least 3 times a week so why not?  If I start on Monday that would be 6 weeks.  I think that's a long enough time span to see if I can do it and short enough that I won't go nuts.  LOL

My husband and I did a little brainstorming and made a list of all of the items that we would like to make/bake.  If you think about it, like I did yesterday as I made cookies, most things are good for weeks or can be frozen.  Ex: cookies, cupcakes, and muffins can all be frozen and still taste delicious.  I can make a batch and freeze at least half of it.  I was also thinking about making a goody bag/basket for my parents and sister's families each week with samplings of all the baked goods.  So each week up until the holidays they would get multiple cookies, muffins, cupcakes and candies.  I felt like that could be a fun holiday tradition to start.  I plan to sit down with the list and a calendar and plan out what to make each week.  I know that without planning this will NOT work.  Not only for ingredient planning but also so that I don't end up with 4 cakes in one week.  LOL  Starting Monday let the madness begin!! 

November Update

Well, this month we are going to be over budget.  My husband and I were talking about it yesterday while we were at Aldi and he was just kind of like well it's the holidays I expected us to go over with all the extra cooking.  It makes sense but it still makes me sad that we are over.  I've been stocking up on baking items since there have been some really great deals so on a positive note we will probably spend a lot less next month because we will already have all of the ingredients for the yummy things I plan to make.  Its just disappointing to see us over budget on the 11th of the month.  Sigh....I guess it will be rewarding to see people enjoy the food and yummy treats that will come from it.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Walgreen's Stockpile

If you haven't looked at it yet, take a minute to check out this weeks Walgreen's ad.  They have a bunch of in store coupons and many of them can be matched with manufacturers coupons.  There were several things included that I have been planning to stock up on for my holiday baking/cooking.  My plan was to add a few items here and there on the weeks where I didn't need much at the store but I couldn't pass up this deal  Most of the items that I had the hubby pick up were around $1 after coupons.  I think that the only thing we didn't have coupons for was the pumpkin puree (I have been hoarding it this year after last years shortage) and the toothpaste (little man got into his toothpaste and I'm pretty sure he ate it.  He likes to hide in cabinets and when I was cleaning his bathroom and opened the cabinet to his most recent hiding spot found open and empty containers of toothpaste.....gotta love 3 year olds.)

Total spent = $15.50
Total Saved = $19.27

I love it when we save more than we spent!!

November 1-15th Menu

I realize this is over a week late but better late than never.  I've been working on several things around the house, including Friendship bread starter and baking bread, but I am working on getting several thing posted.  I'm a multi-tasker, what can I say?

1st- Leftovers
2- Chicken Sandwich's with peaches
3- Tilapia with rice and salad
4- Cheeseburger pasta with veggies
5- Pork loin with corn bread and green beans
6- Dinner @ parents
7- Leftovers
8- Peach cinnamon puff with sausage
9- Rotisserie Chicken with mashed potato's and mixed veggies
10- Shrimp scampi with corn bread and broccoli
11- Chicken Alfredo with salad
12- Crock pot ribs, scalloped potato's and asparagus
13- Parmesan Tilapia with rice and roasted carrots and potato's
14- Chicken and pastry with snow peas
15- Cinnamon rolls with bacon and fruit

So that's the first half of the month.  It's very likely that some of these will not happen but they will get put back in the rotation as I go.  I still have to work on the rest of my pantry inventory and then I can finally get to the freezer.  I do not look forward to that but it HAS to be done.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Dating without the Dough

So I mentioned inexpensive fun before but dates are something that my husband and I don't do very often.  Sadly, in the past few months we have had one kid free date.  I'm working on that.  Our main issue is my husbands work schedule.  The holidays are very busy at work and he is about to start a six week stretch where he will have only one day off each week.  The past few days at work have really stunk for him so to do something nice I made dinner while little man was napping and after my husband came home from work I put everything back in the oven to warm.  We actually had a sit down dinner with candles and music after little man was asleep.  It didn't cost anything but was a nice night for the two of us.  That got me thinking about inexpensive dates.  What are some things that can be done together for "date night" that don't cost a lot?

1.  Make a nice dinner.  Either person can make the dinner, or make it together.  It doesn't have to be an extravagant meal if you make it special.  Set the table, light some candles, turn on some music and enjoy the company. 
2.  Go for a walk.  Really, just walk around and talk.  Walk outside, at a park, or window shop at the mall. 
3.  Game night!  This is actually one of my personal favorites.  After little man goes to bed we will pull out old board games or cards and sit on the floor and play. 
4.  Movie Night at home.  Rent a movie, Redbox is awesome and is only $1.  There are also free Redbox rentals offered through websites, we won one in the McDonald's Monopoly game.  Get your movie, pop some popcorn, get drinks and some candy and your set.  Turn off the lights and snuggle up on the couch or your favorite chair.  Also check out the library, you can rent movies for about a week at a time.  They aren't new but may be new to you and are free.
5. Coffee date.  Go to your favorite coffee place and splurge on your favorite drink, pick out one of the comfortable couches and just sit and enjoy yourself.  Even with splurging on your favorite drinks the cost will be about $10, that's $10 for the whole date.  In date terms, that's not bad. You get to enjoy your favorite drink and person, that alone makes it a special night.  If you can't afford $10 you can always make your own coffee scene at home by adding extras to your coffee, playing music and dimming the lights.  I will give you the feel of a coffee shop without going anywhere or spending money.
6.  Spa night.  I really enjoy this one.  Break out some nice smelling lotion or massage oils if you have them and give each other massages and/or foot rubs.  It's relaxing and something nice that you can do for one another.
7. Recreate your first date (generally first dates aren't too extravagant as your getting to know one another and usually happen when you are young and poor).  My husband and I technically had our first date with a group of friends watching a movie at one of their apartments.  Simple and sweet.
8. Go for ice cream.  If you can't swing that then maybe you could do a create your own sundae date.  You can plan for it for a week or two and pick up one or two items a week until you have what you need.  Set up toppings, syrup and whipped topping on the counter or table, scoop your ice cream and then get to creating!
9.  Miniature golf.  Don't laugh but my dad and I had a standing date when I was between the ages of 8-12.  Almost every Friday night, or Saturday, after dinner we would go to Putt Putt.  We would play a round of miniature golf.  He taught me how to putt and I learned how to work each hole to my advantage.  It's something I still enjoy.  It doesn't take a lot of money but you get to have fun and just spend time together.  Be careful though because it may bring out your competitive side.
10. Teach each other something.  There are probably things that you can do that your significant other doesn't know how to and vice verse.  Take a few nights here and  there and learn something new.

These are a few of the examples I could think of.  It's not about what your doing, it's about who your with and enjoying the time spent with them.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Super Doubles!

This week is Super Doubles at Harris Teeter again!  It's been a while I was happy to see it.  There weren't as many great deals as I hoped for but I was able to stock up on a few things.   
The best deals I got were:

Green Giant frozen veggies.  They were $10 for 10.  I bought 9 and had 3 coupons for $.60 off 3 so I ended up paying approximately $5.40 for all 9 after coupons which ends up being about $.60 each.

Betty Crocker boxed potato's.  When they go on sale and there are super double coupons I can usually get them for about $.50 a box. 

Martha White muffin mix- They were BOGO so $1.15 for two and I had a $.50 coupon off two so I paid about $.10 for both!

Boxed success rice was 2/$5.  I had two $1 off coupons so I got two boxes for $1 or $.50 each.

Triscuit triangle crisps-FREE- I received a coupon to try them for free from a website that I singed up for.  I also have a free Wheat Thins Stix coupon to use but of course they were out.

Yocrunch yogurts- $2 (on sale)- I had two $1 off coupons so they were FREE!!

I ended up getting several amazing deals that I added to my stockpile.  Sadly, I went over our $40 budget.  I planned to use two weeks worth of the budget so that I could take advantage of the really good deals.  Unfortunately, I even went over that.  :( 

Total Spent = $84.07
Total Saved = $66.79

Based on the amount of food and the amount saved and spent I still did well and we were able to stock up on a lot of side dishes.  I am hoping that next time a great coupon deal rolls around I will have the opportunity to plan a little better and only buy what I am getting for less than $1 and nothing else.  This week my husband's work schedule didn't allow for a lot of time for me to do in depth planning and I really wanted to get there early Wednesday morning before all the really good items were gone.  All I can do is keep trying. 

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Cleaning is Saving Me Money

I'm not going to lie, I have trouble keeping our home clean.  There have been lots of times when someone stops by or needs to come by for some random reason and I am embarrassed with the state of my house.  For me it's a matter of getting started.  I have a tendency toward procrastination, but you know what they say about procrastination...  Once I get started I'm good but maintaining the state of clean never lasts. 

I thought about it, and have read articles and blogs on the subject.  I realized something today as I started a load of laundry (I'm shooting for one load a day if we have enough for a full load).  In the past, I wait until our laundry hampers are overflowing.  Which usually results in anywhere from 3-5 loads being done in one day.  If we end up doing closer to 5 loads then usually after the third load I loose steam and end up leaving clothes in either the washing machine of the dryer.  What good does that do me?  NONE!!  If I do that then I end up having to either a) rewash the clothing in the washing machine so that it does not stink and then dry it or b) keep running the dryer to fluff the clothes that I am too lazy to just fold and put away.  Thinking about it this morning as I changed the load from the washing machine to the dryer I realized that by rewashing the clothes I'm wasting water and electricity, not to mention wear and tear on my clothes and machine.  On top of that, I still have to dry the clothing.  In the case of the clothing left in the dryer I find that it stays there and  keep "fluffing" the clothes.  I know that I have fluffed loads in the past at least 4 times before ever actually removing and putting away the laundry. (That was embarrassing to admit)

So, I'm working on not wasting money by being lazy and procrastinating.  I've been doing this for about a week now and it's been really nice just completing our laundry one load at a time.  I've even worked in cleaning our couch cover and all of our sheets.  When we don't have a full load then I don't worry about it.  At night when straightening up I check the laundry and if there is enough then the load goes into the washing machine.  In the morning while I'm getting little man and myself breakfast I simply add detergent.  By the time we are finish up the load is washed and can be moved to the dryer.  It's a lot easier to get motivated to fold one load of laundry rather than load after load.  What do you put off??  The surprising thing, we have a lot more clothes than I realized.  I just never noticed because I would wait so long to do laundry. (Again, embarrassing to admit.)