Monday, September 30, 2013

Secret Recipe Club: Apple Pie Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Icing

It's time again for another month of Secret Recipe Club! This month I received Baking and Creating with Avril for my "secret blog" to visit, read through, and pick something delicious to cook or bake from! Avril's site is beautiful - I absolutely love the layout and colors and the yummy pictures of all the delicious goodies!

I didn't even get through the first category (Breakfast) without opening half of the recipes to look at and maybe to try - these are the ones that caught my eye right off the bat: Buttermilk Berry MuffinsCoffee Cake MuffinsApple Crumble Pie Muffins, and THEN Apple Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Icing!! Search OVER!!  Seriously, these were calling my name.

I'm so glad I gave this one a try - as is the usual with cinnamon rolls there are quite a few steps and it takes awhile to pull this one together but the results are well worth it. It is quite the decadent treat. The icing is sooo good - perfectly creamy. The original recipe calls for 3 cups of powdered sugar; I used about 2 1/2 and that was plenty sweet for me, so taste test as you to until you get the right cream cheese / sweet combination for you and yours!

These are like little apple pies in cinnamon roll form. The apple pieces are really yummy "surprises" that tucked into the dough. The dough is flaky and tender, and they are perfectly sticky and sweet. Completely yumm. Kent and Kenneth both really enjoyed these as well; these made for a fantastic breakfast treat for us all! I fixed some cheesy eggs and sausage links to round these sweet treats out. They're fantastic even when they're cooled to room temperature. I stored the frosting separate from the rolls that we didn't eat right away at breakfast so we can re-heat the rolls in the oven and get them nice and toasty again without melting the icing. I know these are going to disappear very quickly around here!

Dough rolled out, slathered with butter, and sprinkled with cinnamon and brown sugar.

Apples sauteed in a yummy brown sugar sauce.

Apples sprinkled over the cinnamon roll dough.

Rolled up, and ready to be cut!

12 rolls in the 9x13 baking dish, ready for the oven.

Super yummy, creamy icing!

Baked up, sticky, yummy buns.


Tender, flaky, delicious cinnamon rolls.

Dig in!
Apple Pie Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Icing from Baking and Creating with Avril

Dough Ingredients:
1 cup warm milk (I warmed my milk in the microwave for 45 seconds to warm it)
2 eggs, room temperature
1/3 cup butter, melted and cooled for a couple of minutes
4 1/2 cups bread flour (or AP flour)
1 tsp salt
2 1/2 tsp regular yeast

Brown Sugar Cinnamon Filling Ingredients:
5 TBS butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
2 1/2 TBS ground cinnamon

Apple Filling Ingredients:
4-5 small / medium sized baking apples, peeled, cored and small diced
3 TBS butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp cornstarch

Cream Cheese Icing

Ingredients
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 stick butter, softened
2 1/2 - 3 cups confectioners sugar, sifted
1 TBS vanilla extract

Directions
  1. Make the dough.  Warm milk in a medium size heat proof bowl  in microwave for about 1 minute (do not get it too hot or the yeast will be killed when added to milk).  Sprinkle yeast over milk, let sit for a couple of minutes and then gently stir to combine and set aside.  Add flour and salt into large bowl of a Kitchen Aid mixer.  Melt butter and set aside for a couple of minutes to cool then pour into flour mixture. Add in slightly beaten eggs and then milk/yeast mixture to the flour mixture.  Mix to combine using the dough hook. Run mixer for about 5 minutes until dough comes away from bowl and is shiny in color. 
  2. Lightly grease a large bowl and then remove the dough from mixing bowl and place into the prepared greased bowl.  Cover with a clean damp towel and set in a warm place without any drafts.  Allow dough to rise until at least doubled in size - about an hour.
  3. Remove dough from bowl onto a lightly floured and allow to rest for 15 minutes before rolling out.
  4. While dough is resting make apple filling.  In a medium size sauce pan melt 3 TBS of butter.  Add in diced apples, brown sugar, cinnamon and cornstarch. Cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Cool apple filling as you prepare the dough for layering of all the yummy goodness!
  6. Roll out rested dough into a large rectangle.  Mix together 1 cup brown sugar and 2 1/2 TBS ground cinnamon, set aside as you spread about 5 TBS of softened butter over your rectangle of dough.
  7. Sprinkle the brown sugar cinnamon mixture over the butter layer (press in gently with your fingers, get all the way to the edges) and then sprinkle on the apple filling.
  8. Starting on a long side of the rectangle carefully roll up the dough. If the filling comes out a little bit as you can just spoon it over the rolls once placed in pan.
  9. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Melt 1/2 a stick of butter in a 9x13 baking pan. Remove pan when butter has melted. Cut rolled up dough into 12 rolls (about 1 1/2 - 2 inches thick) - place slices in prepared pan.  Put any remaining filling on top of rolls in pan.
  10. Pop in oven and bake for 15 minutes - rolls should be lightly browned when they are done (I had to bake mine an extra 10 minutes to get them to be lightly browned).
  11. While rolls are baking, make the icing as you will want to frost the rolls while they are still warm. In a large bowl combine cream cheese and butter.  Beat together for 3-4 minutes until light and fluffy. Slowly add in sifted powdered sugar along with vanilla extract. Beat all together until well combined and smooth - about 2-3 minutes.
  12. Allow rolls to cool for 5-10 minutes and then spread icing over rolls while they are still warm (if the rolls are too hot, the icing will melt, so make sure they're still warm, but not too hot).
  13. ENJOY! 


Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Sizzling Bison Steak Stir-Fry



You know a meal is good when you realize as you sit down to eat that you forgot to take a picture, but think to yourself "no problem, I'll use what's left to take a picture before I put leftovers in the refrigerator".  Then it's the end of the meal and the bowl that once contained the main dish is completely empty!!

I had to tweak a few things as I went to make use of what I had - I was out of beef broth, so I used veggie broth with beef bouillon, used powdered ginger in place of fresh, frozen broccoli in place of fresh, and the original recipe calls for teriyaki sauce but I used stir-fry sauce. Otherwise I pretty much stuck to the recipe and it came out really, really good. We all really enjoyed this and loved the flavor and texture of the bison ribeye steaks in this meal. What a fantastic protein! It is lean, flavorful, and we didn't find it to be gamey at all. It was just tender and really tasty.

The only preparation thing I did differently was to stir fry my peppers and carrots for nearly 10 minutes, instead of the recommended 3, since we like our peppers soft and not crisp. We also omitted the bamboo shoots.

Sizzling Bison Steak Stir-Fry by The Bison Council on AllRecipes

Ingredients
2 (9 ounce) bison ribeye steaks
1 1/4 cups reduced-sodium beef broth
1/2 cup stir-fry sauce
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger (or 1/2 tsp powdered ginger)
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper, or to taste
1 tablespoon sesame oil (more as needed)
2 cups broccoli florets (fresh or frozen)
1 cup sliced carrots (3-4 medium)
1green bell pepper, sliced into long strips
1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
1 (8 ounce) can bamboo shoots, drained (optional)
Hot cooked brown rice
Crushed red pepper (optional)
Toasted sesame seeds (optional)

Directions
  1. If desired, partially freeze bison ribeye steak for easier slicing (about 30 minutes). Thinly slice bison ribeye steak across the grain into bite-size strips; set aside.
  2. For sauce, combine broth, stir-fry sauce, cornstarch, ginger, and the 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper in a medium bowl; set aside.
  3. Heat oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet or wok. Cook broccoli, carrots, bell pepper, mushrooms, and bamboo shoots in hot oil for 3 to 4 minutes or until vegetables are crisp-tender. Remove vegetables from skillet.
  4. Add bison ribeye strips, half at a time, to hot skillet. (Add more oil if necessary). Cook and stir for 2 to 3 minutes or until bison ribeye strips are slightly pink in the center. Push bison ribeye strips from center of skillet. Stir sauce. Add sauce to center of skillet. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Return cooked vegetables to skillet; stir to coat all ingredients with sauce. Cook and stir for 1 to 2 minutes more or until heated through. Serve with rice. If desired, sprinkle with additional crushed red pepper and toasted sesame seeds.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Butterball Classic Smoked Sausage Mac and Cheese



This recipe makes a LOT! I had to use a 9x13 pan plus a smaller baking dish for the overflow. I didn't use the full 1 cup of panko bread crumbs, and skipped the extra butter on top. I used fat free half and half and used applewood smoked flavored Butterball Smoked Turkey Sausage (YUMM)! This is a super rich, comforting dish that makes for a wonderful meal to share with your family. You can mix in some veggies, or serve with a big green salad on the side to round it out. I think adding in a package of frozen broccoli would go great. The boys aren't big fans of Velveeta cheese, so they didn't really love the flavor of the cheese sauce, but other than that this was really good. I would probably use a little more meat or less sauce next time to get the ratio right for the way we like things. There was quite a bit of sauce, and it is creamy, cheesy, and very rich. I really liked the crunch of the breading interspersed with the cheesy noodles and meat. The Butterball sausage completely "makes" this dish - it is fantastic! I think I would use about half of the called for Velveeta next time and that might yield a better amount of cheesy sauce to noodles / meat and reduce the obviousness of the flavor of it, but still lend that creamy texture you get from the Velveeta. Overall this is a great meal, which you can adjust to your families preferences, and it is definitely true comfort food!!

Classic Smoked Sausage Mac and Cheese by Butterball on AllRecipes

Ingredients
1 pound cavatappi (corkscrew) pasta, uncooked
1 tablespoon butter
1 (14 ounce) package Butterball® Smoked Turkey Dinner Sausage, halved lengthwise, and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
1 cup chopped onions
3 cups prepared Alfredo sauce
3 cups half and half (you can use Fat Free)
3 cups cubed pasteurized prepared cheese product (I suggest using about 1 1/2 cups and adding more to taste)
2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
Cooking spray
1/2 - 1 cup panko bread crumbs
1/4 cup butter, melted (optional)

Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Cook pasta according to package directions; rinse and drain. Set aside.
  3. Melt 1 tablespoon butter in large saucepan on medium heat. Cook and stir sausage and onions 3 to 5 minutes or until onions are tender. Stir in Alfredo sauce, and half and half. Bring to boiling, stirring constantly; reduce heat. Simmer 1 minute.
  4. Remove saucepan from heat. Stir in cheese and black pepper until cheese is melted. Stir in pasta and sausage mixture.
  5. Pour mixture into lightly sprayed 9x13 baking dish. Sprinkle evenly with combined bread crumbs and 1/4 cup melted butter (if using). Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until crumbs are golden brown and pasta mixture is hot and bubbly.


Monday, September 16, 2013

Super Easy and Delicious Mixed Berry Pie


I have been craving pie lately, and decided last night to go ahead and make one! Kenneth was busy with his friend who came over to help him work on his resume for a specific job, so I had time to fiddle around in the kitchen and get some of my "nesting mode" urges out!

This is seriously the EASIEST pie I have ever made and we all absolutely loved it. It is about 3/4 gone already the morning after I baked it - I ate 2 pieces by myself last night! Yumm!! I enjoyed it both with and without vanilla ice cream. It had the right mix of tart and sweet and holds up very well all by itself, but really when it's warm from the oven it's just asking for some melty vanilla ice cream to accompany it.

The baking times below are specifically for frozen fruit; if you opt to use fresh visit the AllRecipes link below and see instructions for those baking times. I really like using the butter flavored Crisco for the shortening in the pie crust recipe - gives it a nice buttery flavor, but for this pie I used the regular unflavored Crisco. Either way it comes out flaky and delicious. I probably baked the pie maybe 5 minutes less than called for, cutting a couple minutes off each section of time and it turned out great - cooked all the way through, hot and bubbly. Depending on how impatient you are, you can probably get away with a few minutes less total, but not much. :)

Enjoy!!

Mixed Berry Pie adapted from Jenn Hall on AllRecipes

Ingredients
1 double pie crust (see recipe below)
24-oz frozen mixed berries (I used an assortment of strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries)
1/2 cup sugar + 1/2 tsp (separated)
1/4 cup cornstarch

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Combine frozen berries with sugar and cornstarch in a bowl, stir to combine and allow to sit at least 15 minutes while you prepare the pie crust.
  3. Prepare pie crust per recipe below. After you've placed the bottom crust in the pie plate and trimmed the edges, sprinkle with 1/4 tsp sugar, then pour berry filling in and smooth.
  4. Place top crust on and seal and crimp the edges.
  5. Place a baking sheet on the bottom rack of the oven.
  6. Cover the edges of the pie with foil to prevent over browning, then place in oven above the baking sheet and bake for 50 minutes. Remove the foil and bake another 40 minutes.

Pie Crust IV By: Jan Bittner on allrecipes.com (makes a double crust)

Ingredients
1 cup vegetable shortening
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 - 1 cup cold water
Directions
  1. Mix shortening, flour, and salt together with a fork or a pastry blender until very crumbly. Add as much water as needed to hold together, and mix lightly with a fork.
  2. Roll gently on a lightly floured surface to about an inch larger than pie plate. Fold carefully in half, lift to pie plate, and unfold. Press into pan.  


Sunday, September 15, 2013

Our Pregnancy: 39 weeks - counting down the days!

9-9-13 38w1d - As I begin this post on this beautiful Monday morning, I am very much hoping and praying I will not still be pregnant on the day this is scheduled to post - on Sunday, September 15th... I'm still feeling pretty great most of the time (just don't ask me in the evenings - the evenings tend to suck lately), but I am so, so ready to meet baby girl and see her here, healthy and happy, and not worry about her and her 2-vessel cord any more! I have an appointment scheduled for Thursday and will definitely be talking to the doctor more about our options if we do cross into 39 weeks. I really don't want a repeat C-section, but I also know it's generally not safe to induce someone who's had a previous C-section, and although I wish I could say I am perfectly fine to sit and wait things out and let mother nature take it's course, I am very anxious as the days go by and worry about this little one because of the SUA. I think maybe I'll step up my walking in the evenings and see if I can try to encourage things at home a little more than I have been, and just see what happens in the next 6-7 days.

Here's my 38w1d post from my last singleton pregnancy.  I ended up delivering her 2 days later. I have not had any real bloody mucous to speak of yet (I've had a couple episodes earlier on that had some dark/old blood but none in the past week or so), but otherwise pretty similar symptoms. Gassiness continues, and I had some bad stomach pains last night and was fairly miserable. I laid out on the sofa while the boys watched TV and chatted. I dozed in and out I think - I was pretty sore, and I was contracting as well as cramping. My lower back has been sore since yesterday too. I assume it's just all the extra weight and the size of my belly pulling on my back, but that is new. I've had back pain come and go at times, but this has been pretty consistent since yesterday. Lots more contractions that come and go, some pretty intense painful ones, and then they stop. I was more dilated at this same point in time with that pregnancy than I am this time, so I wouldn't be surprised if this little one still has another week or so to go, but a pregnant lady can hope! :)

9-10-13 38w2d - another day has come, and is just about half way through! I am feeling pretty good today. Normal here and there contractions, normal night of sleeping like crap (woke up 3 times with leg cramps), feeling gassy, a little bit of mucous plug this am, not sure what my appetite is doing. Not as hungry as usual, but food isn't upsetting my stomach (so far). Mostly just tired and looking forward to heading home in another 4 hours. Today is dragging a little. My lower back is a little sore still. Trying to be good about drinking enough water, but having a harder time today with it than usual... just don't feel like it for whatever reason! Can't believe my next OB appointment is in only 2 days - it starts feeling really close together when you get to the once a week point. I am looking forward to seeing Dr. Miller again and asking about delivery possibilities - I am hoping I can have faith that everything will be ok and not be too anxious for at least 1 more week to give baby time to come on her own, but if it starts getting much past that I think I'll be ready for some action. Kenneth was asking me if last night was the night. I don't think he wanted to go to work today. :) Usually he's telling me to keep her in longer! I'm ready to see her little face, toes, and fingers in person and get on with the sleepless nights, and poopy diapers, and all that comes with a new little one - hopefully he is too. :)

9-11-13 38w3d - on this day in my last singleton pregnancy I was recouping in the hospital after a fantastic delivery! I admit I was totally hoping to wake up in labor last night, but no such luck just yet. :) Still here and doing ok. I had a lot of pressure and wonky contractions last night that were uncomfortable, and some Braxton Hicks tightening that was lasting a long time. I had some nasty leg cramps to go with it all too, and woke up 3 times because of them during the night. I'm pretty tired this morning and hoping today passes quickly and uneventfully, so I can head on out, get some fuel in my car, and go home to take it easy for the evening... I'm wiped out already, so I know by this evening I'm going to be really ready to get some rest. Nothing else new to report. We'll see if I'm dilating any more on my own at tomorrow's appointment in the afternoon and get some answers about options for induction / C-section options and what's the longest that's generally safe to go with a SUA baby on board. I am still thinking about 1 more week is about as much as I'll be able to handle without some sort of intervention for my peace of mind. We'll see what the doctor thinks, and continue to hope baby decides to come out before then all on her own!

9-13-13 38w5d - yesterday was my OB appointment. Baby girl had been pretty quiet all day (even that morning, I couldn't get her to respond and used my Doppler before leaving the house to check on her). All afternoon I would periodically press on my belly (usually I get a good kick in response) but I got little to nothing every time. I thought I felt a few small movements, but no thumps/bumps/or kicks like I'm used to. I was getting anxious by the time my appointment rolled around and that was the first thing I told the nurse after she checked my vitals (all still good). The OB came in with the portable u/s and baby girl looked good - she was practice breathing and we saw her moving / kicking so that was reassuring. But to be safe, she sent me straight over to the hospital for more in depth monitoring to make sure all was well - before she sent me she did a quick cervical check to see if I'd had any change from last week and to see if they did decide baby needed to come if my cervix would be favorable for induction. She said I'm starting to thin and was dilated to a 3 now (from a 1 last Friday). That was exciting to hear! I went over to the hospital and got checked in and hooked up. I had about 3-4 contractions while hooked up, and baby girl was moving around quite a bit with all those monitors strapped on and her heart rate was good - so the OB had no problem saying all was well and sending us on our way. We talked for a little while before I headed out (it was the same OB I had for my very first appointment at Emory many months ago, and it's the first time I've seen him since then!) and he gave me the general guidelines for when to come back and asked if I wanted a membrane stripping which I said yes to, since I was dilating already and know it will really only help if my body is ready. He showed the resident how he usually does it, and let her give it a go - teaching hospital! I didn't mind though, it was uncomfortable but not bad, and while she was doing that he called Kenneth from my phone to give him the update. The whole scene struck me as a little funny, in a good way. :) I had some pretty good contractions all the way home after that, and some bleeding afterwards which slowed down pretty quickly. Nothing really though once I got home. The contractions fizzled out. It didn't bother me though - she'll come when she's ready and that's ok with me. Today I'm having a lot of pain/discomfort down the back of my right thigh. It's really bothering me and I'm not sure what the problem is... baby girl is being pretty quiet again today... I am guessing this is just her "new normal" as she's gotten bigger, and hopefully is lower and preparing to make her grand entrance. I have a vague recollection of this happening in the days leading up to labor and delivery before so that is somewhat reassuring - but I miss her thumps and bumps and "feeling" that she's ok in there... Definitely reduced appetite yesterday and today - just working on sipping water and staying hydrated and hoping maybe we'll have a baby this weekend! :)

9-14-13 38w6d - I was so hoping we'd be heading to the hospital last night! I was having a LOT of contractions all the way home, and was having quite a few at work along with some new aches and pains. The contractions were getting fairly painful throughout the afternoon and evening, but staying fairly spaced out and uneven in timing. I had a lot of bloody show last night, and more this morning. I've had a couple contractions today that have been painful, but mostly just that tight Braxton Hicks feeling across my upper abdomen. Baby girl has been pretty quiet most of the day, but has a few bouts of being active and wiggly to let me know she's doing ok. Kenneth and I were both pretty tired and enjoyed sleeping in this morning. When I finally got up I decided to fix a good breakfast and made homemade biscuits, grits, bacon, sausage patties, and cheesy eggs. That was really yummy, but I was wiped out again by the time we'd finished eating. So we went and took a nap, and both of us slept for nearly 3 hours! When we finally got back up, I enjoyed a leisurely shower and then fixed Shepherd's Pie for lunch to use up the leftover lamb from a roast we had recently. I think it came out really good, and Kent really liked it, but Kenneth isn't a big fan of the way the meat tasted. Hopefully Kent will enjoy the leftovers! Kenneth's friend is coming over this evening and I'm going to fix the bison recipe I have for my AllRecipes brand ambassador assignment this month. I'm looking forward to seeing how it comes together and how we like it! There are a few cleaning things I need to do to make myself feel better about the house, and then hopefully I can relax again. I am really wiped out today! 39 weeks tomorrow... fingers and toes staying crossed this is the weekend we finally get to meet our little girl!

9-15-13 39w0d - still here and pregnant! Yesterday was full on nesting mode - I dusted, vacuumed, did laundry, tidied up, cooked a big breakfast, Shepherd's Pie for lunch, made Bison Stir Fry and a fresh mixed berry pie for dinner... Kent has cellulitis and had some drainage from it, so lots of laundry, changing out bandages, and bleaching the bath tub too. I was on the go pretty much all afternoon but felt good. Had a few painful contractions, but not too many. I was woken up by pains at about 1:00am - I got up and walked around for about 30 minutes and was having contractions every 2-5 minutes, but they weren't painful enough to be the "real" thing. However, that is the first time I've ever been woken up by them like that so I was getting excited. I was bummed when it wasn't progressing after an hour or so, and went back to bed. I probably got back to sleep by around 3am. We're probably getting a foster dog today - she's on her way over to meet everyone, and overall I'm feeling pretty good so far this morning. Some pains, and some contractions, but nothing any different than the past few days so we'll see. I am now 3 days away from being the "most" pregnant I've ever been with any of my 5 pregnancies! 39w2d is the very longest I've ever gone before and I am so ready to meet this little girl! Come on out baby girl; your family really wants to meet you and love on you!!

According to BabyCenter:

How your baby's growing:

Your baby's waiting to greet the world! He continues to build a layer of fat to help control his body temperature after birth, but it's likely he already measures about 20 inches and weighs a bit over 7 pounds, about the size of a mini-watermelon. (Boys tend to be slightly heavier than girls.) The outer layers of his skin are sloughing off as new skin forms underneath.


Saturday, September 14, 2013

Chewy M&M Oatmeal Cookies



This was another great oatmeal cookie recipe courtesy of AllRecipes! This were very thin, crispy, and chewy all at the same time - which I loved! I love the crisp edges and chewy centers. The original recipe calls for chocolate chips and walnuts but we used mini M&Ms instead. I'm sure whatever you want to add to these would work great. I thought they'd be really yummy with some fruit pieces in there too.

Enjoy!!

Chewy M&M Oatmeal Cookies from PANTHERA on AllRecipes
Makes 3 dozen cookies

Ingredients
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups quick-cooking oats
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
1 cup M&Ms (or chocolate chips)

Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar, and white sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs one at a time, then stir in vanilla. Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl; stir into the creamed mixture until just blended. Mix in the quick oats, walnuts, and chocolate chips gently. Drop by heaping spoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheets.
  3. Bake for 12 minutes in the preheated oven, until lightly browned around the edges. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Banana Loaf Cake


This is yet another terrific banana bread / cake recipe courtesy of AllRecipes.com! I made a double batch and my son in particular is loving this recipe. We had some leftover cream cheese frosting, and he's used that on a couple pieces to make the bread like a piece of cake, ate some plain, and some with a pat of butter. However you want to to enjoy this recipe, it is flexible, moist, flavorful, and delicious!

I fixed these up to use up a bunch of overripe bananas I had frozen - my "bag 'o bananas" was getting pretty full and this looked like a great way to put them to very good use! I'm so glad we tried this one out - it's a terrific recipe! I did add a tsp of cinnamon to my batter, but am not sure if it made any different or not.

Banana Loaf Cake by Sandi on AllRecipes

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup white sugar
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 egg
3 very ripe bananas

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 5x9 inch loaf pan
  2. Mash bananas well and then cream with the sugar, butter, egg, and vanilla. Add in the flour, baking powder, and baking soda. Combine, but don't over mix. Pour into loaf pan.
  3. Bake at 350 degrees F for 50 to 60 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean.



Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Turkey Bacon Breakfast Burrito




It's time for Turkey Tuesday again! This was another fantastic recipe from the Butterball collection on AllRecipes.com. It was a hearty, filling breakfast that will stick to your ribs and get you through the morning. The original recipe calls for cilantro, which I omitted because I just don't like the stuff!

I made a few modifications to the instructions (reflected below), but essentially followed the original recipe as written. The seasoned chili beans were an interesting addition. I think perhaps this meant seasoned pinto beans, but I used a can of vegetarian chili that I had in my pantry. I really liked it, although my son said he though the beans tasted a little "weird" in the burrito (although he chose to leave off the sour cream and salsa from his, and I used it with mine - yumm!!)

I think this is a fantastic breakfast meal, and it's easily adjustable to your personal tastes and preferences - add things in, leave things out, make it your own! Absolutely delicious!!

Turkey Bacon Breakfast Burrito adapted from AllRecipes

Ingredients
Cooking spray
8 slices Turkey bacon, cooked and rough chopped
8 large eggs
4 (10 inch) flour tortillas, warmed
1/2 (16 ounce) can seasoned chili beans, warmed
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 large avocado, halved, pitted, peeled, diced
1/2 cup salsa
1/2 cup sour cream

Directions

  1. Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium heat, spray with cooking spray. Meanwhile, scramble eggs thoroughly in a bowl. When skillet is heated, add eggs and cook, pulling cooked portion to the center. Add bacon and shredded cheese and continue cooking until eggs are firm. Remove from heat.
  2. To assemble burritos, evenly portion heated beans down center of each tortilla. Top beans with egg mixture and diced avocado. 
  3. Fold in opposite sides of each tortilla, and then roll up, burrito-style. Cut diagonally in half (if desired) and serve with salsa and sour cream on the side.
Link Parties
Table for 7



Monday, September 09, 2013

Banana Muffins II



I was on a baking kick this past weekend, and these muffins made for a wonderful breakfast treat. The texture, flavor, and moistness was just right for us and my son and I particularly enjoyed this recipe. I snagged two of the leftovers to take to work for breakfast today! I will definitely use this recipe again - for muffins or for a loaf of banana bread. It is terrific! I did think it was a little bit sweet - not in a bad way, but if you prefer your banana breads less sweet you could probably cut the sugar just a little bit. I always use very overripe bananas for baking, which adds to the sweetness factor as well.

I finally made a dent in my freezer bag of overripe bananas though - for some reason it was one of my "goals" this weekend! Between these muffins and 2 loaves of banana bread, I'm down to just a couple bananas left in the freezer bag reserved for baked goods. :)

Banana Muffins II by ABI_GODFREY on AllRecipes
Makes 12 muffins

Ingredients
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 large bananas, mashed
3/4 cup white sugar
1 egg
1/3 cup butter, melted

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat muffin pans with non-stick spray, or use paper liners. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
  2. Combine bananas, sugar, egg, and melted butter in a large bowl - blend well until mixture is very smooth. Fold in flour mixture gently, and mix until smooth (do not over mix batter). Pour into muffin pan.
  3. Bake in preheated oven for 20 - 25 minutes. Muffins should spring back when lightly tapped.



Sunday, September 08, 2013

Our Pregnancy: 38 Weeks, 14 days 'til due date!

 9/3/13 37w2d - I really wasn't sure I would be posting a 38 week post, but now that I'm already into Tuesday and have just 5 days to go to hit that milestone, I'm thinking yep, we're going to hit 38 weeks! I've had less labor signs and symptoms the past few days - although maybe it's partially because I'm not paying as close attention since I have been sick and feeling like crud. I came down with some sort of head cold last Friday which is still hanging on 4 days later. I'm over it completely and wish it was over me! I've taken about 1 dose of Sudafed each of the last few days along with a dose of Tylenol and I feel guilty every time. I hate suffering the symptoms of a cold, but I hate putting meds in my body too. I've been really congested, and my ears are still very plugged up this morning. I feel like I've gone through about 100 tissues in the past few days! Thank goodness it was a long weekend home, so I had an extra day of taking it easy to try to rest up and hopefully help encourage the healing process. Hopefully this cold is on it's way OUT and I will be feeling back to myself in the next day or so. Considering I woke up feeling about the same as yesterday, I'm not hopeful that today is the day I get better! Kent had this crud too, and his lasted about 4-5 days, so hopefully it's almost run its course. I definitely don't want to go into labor and have a new baby along with a cold - so I'm keeping fingers and toes crossed that it goes away very, very soon - although I probably have at least a few more days of baby baking so I'm not too concerned at this point.

9/4/13 37w3d - still here and going strong! Last night as soon as I got home I got straight to cooking up a yummy casserole for dinner and that evening I got in my shower and gave it a full on top to bottom scrubbing. Those were the two things I had on my "to accomplish" list for the evening so I was happy with getting that much done! I considered going down to the basement and walking on the treadmill for awhile, but it's really boring down there - there's nothing to look at and I wasn't in the mood to just crank some music. Maybe tonight the mood will strike. The only thing on my "to accomplish" list for tonight is get the butterfly mobile hung in the nursery. The hospital bags have all been tucked into the trunk of the car as of this morning and so we continue the waiting to see what will happen! I was having a LOT of contractions last night - most of them were just Braxton Hicks with the tightening across my upper abdomen, but a couple of them were fairly painful and I kept wondering if they were going to evolve into anything. I don't bother counting how far apart they are if they're not painful, but the BH I was getting were very frequent. I've had a few this morning, a little more than "normal" but it's not surprising so I try not to think too much of any of it yet. I did have a very loose bowel movement this morning, and definitely lots of cervical pressure today. Nothing else really to report though. I did have a little bit more mucous plug yesterday - but not much really. It's weird how I had it every day for 2 weeks and now really nothing! Maybe it all came out?!

9/5/13 37w4d - Last night was another one of those "is it time?!" kind of evenings. I contracted off and on throughout the day and by the afternoon my belly was just rock hard for long stretches of time in addition to a few painful contractions / cramps. I lost another big piece of mucous plug after I got home and was just feeling very "off". I couldn't sit still but didn't feel very good either, so I got on my treadmill for about 40 minutes and walked at a steady pace. I contracted almost the entire time with a few that made me slow my steps down and breath to get through. Definitely full on "warm up" mode - everything fizzled out by bed time. I had about 2 painful cramps / contractions during the night that woke me up, but otherwise slept ok. My stomach was pretty on edge last night - lots of queasiness and burping / gassiness too - lovely. My lower back was really sore off and on as well and I had to stretch it out to relieve some of the pain which helped a little. So far this morning things seem to be about normal - I feel like I have a bladder the size of a peanut, I'm tired but not too bad, my heartburn was bad yesterday and I can still feel it this morning though hopefully the Prilosec will take the edge off. Lots of more tightening sensations today, but not too many painful ones yet. Baby is moving around still - being wiggly at the moment actually although she's been more quiet the past couple days with less uber-wiggly antics and more small wiggles and kicks.

We'll see what this afternoon brings - wondering how many more days my body can keep up at this pace before I finally hit that invisible "threshold" where it goes from pre-labor to active labor! I feel like I'm toeing the line, but I have no idea where the line actually is... it's all a guessing game. I'm fine with her staying put as long as she needs to - I am looking forward to a healthy, full term baby - I'm just ready for the guessing game to be over!!

I'm hoping the OB I see tomorrow will do a cervical check for me - I'd like to have an idea on how much I'm dilated - I feel like there MUST be some progress since I was checked at the hospital at 35 weeks!

My cold seems to be healing up slowly - my ears are still congested and a little sore, and I've had phlegm in my throat and sinuses that's working it's way out. I'm feeling a little better though, and think I should be pretty much back to "me" within another day or two. Hopefully I'll feel pretty good this weekend so I can get some "to-do's" done around the house and feel like I got some cleaning accomplished!

9/6/13 37w5d - I am getting excited about hitting 38 weeks on Sunday! We are so close to getting to meet this little one!! I just got back from my OB appointment - everything still looks good. Vitals are all good, no protein in my urine, blood pressure remains steady and at a good number. We'll ignore the weight gain to this point. :) Baby's heart rate sounds good and we talked briefly about her 2-vessel cord and she said what I already know which is really just keep an eye on her movements and watch for bleeding. If I can't feel movement or have any sort of bleeding (not just spotting) then she said go straight to the nearest hospital - but otherwise things look and feel fine and I am good to keep the baby baking going until she's ready to make her appearance. My cervix does not feel like dilating yet - I'm at 1cm now, up from a "fingertip" 3 weeks ago. Sigh. I do recognize the fact that dilation at this point in time doesn't mean awhile lot - you can go from not dilated at all to a baby in less than 5 hours when your body is ready, but still - all these contractions, I was hoping for some sense of progress! :) She did say my cervix is very soft, but that was all I got from the exam. She didn't make any specific predictions - but just said she didn't think I would go overdue. We'll see! She commented on my belly being tight - it's been in a ball most of the past couple hours - and mentioned hydration. I don't think it's dehydration though. I've been pretty good about fluids lately - and am already up to 60 ounces of water drunk so far today, I think it's just my grumpy uterus! I'm still measuring about 1 week ahead, at 39 weeks.

Follow up in 1 more week - I'll be nearly 39 weeks at that point! Holy moly!! I keep wondering which appointment will be my last?! I delivered my last singleton at 38w3d, and of course can't help but wonder if week 38 will be the one this one decides to make her appearance during... I am very excited and ready to see her with my own 2 eyes, in person... in the mean time I am just thankful I'm still feeling pretty good most of the time. My cold is mostly healed up now - though yesterday and today I've been coughing a lot - I have a tickle in the back of my throat a lot of the time and can feel the back of my throat has some discharge from my sinuses which is gross and aggravates the coughing. Hopefully after this weekend it will have worked it's way out of my system completely!!

9-8-13 38w0d - Yesterday was HOT! We had Kent's first soccer game of the season which started at 4:15 in the afternoon, so we headed out around 2:45 to make sure we had time to get there (it was supposed to take about an hour). When we got there, and I stepped out of the car's AC I knew it was going to be a LONG couple hours. There was no shade and very little breeze and it was really, really warm. I ended up running to the nearby Publix to get 3 more big bottles of water and a bag of cocktail ice. I used the ice on my neck several times which helped a lot, and Kenneth held up an umbrella over us pretty much the whole time to help provide some shade. We both got sun on our arms and legs - and I know the boys must have really been roasting out there running around the field! We have another game today, so we picked up a shade tent and are packing small coolers with ice and drinks for each of us this time - so at least we're better prepared.

On the baby watch front, I lost another big piece of mucous plug yesterday and with the heat I was contracting a LOT yesterday afternoon even after we got home. As usual though, it fizzled out by the time we went to bed. I've had a few good contractions today, but nothing that feels "real" so just waiting to see what happens and when. I'm in nesting mode again, I made banana muffins, 2 loaves of banana bread, and have been doing dishes and tidying up in the kitchen. I grilled chicken and made pasta salad for lunch and purged a little in the refrigerator. We're getting ready to head out for Kent's 2nd game of the weekend now, and hopefully will be able to stay a little cooler!

According to BabyCenter:

How your baby's growing:

Your baby has really plumped up. She weighs about 6.8 pounds and she is over 19 1/2 inches long (about the size of a leek). She has a firm grasp, which you'll soon be able to test when you hold her hand for the first time! Her organs have matured and are ready for life outside the womb.

Wondering what color your baby's eyes will be? You may not be able to tell right away. If she's born with brown eyes, they'll likely stay brown. If she's born with steel gray or dark blue eyes, they may stay gray or blue or turn green, hazel, or brown by the time she's 9 months old. That's because a child's irises (the colored part of the eye) may gain more pigment in the months after she's born, but they usually won't get "lighter" or more blue. (Green, hazel, and brown eyes have more pigment than gray or blue eyes.)



Friday, September 06, 2013

Oven Roasted Leg of Lamb



My son is fan of lamb, and has requested it on several occasions. When I was at Sam's Club recently I saw a lamb leg roast in the meat section and decided to give it a try. I have only cooked lamb on one other occasion that I can think of - and those were chops, so I had to search around for a recipe that looked good to try out and settled on the one below. It was a terrific recipe and we all really enjoyed it!! I thought the tomato / onion mixture was really delicious with the roast. It was tender, and the flavors worked really well together without being overpowering to the taste of the meat. This felt like a very nice meal, and went great with a big, crisp Caesar salad for a delicious and satisfying dinner.

Oven Roasted Leg of Lamb adapted from The Juice
Preparation Time: 25 Minutes
Cooking Time: 80 Minutes
Total Time: 90 Minutes
Servings: 8

Ingredients
4 to 5 pound leg of lamb, trimmed and tied
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1 1/2 TBS chopped garlic
2 1/2 tsp rosemary leaves
1/2 TBS balsamic vinegar
salt and black pepper
1/2 cup chicken broth
4 large ripe red tomatoes, cored and chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup honey
1 medium onion, in slices
1 tsp rosemary
1 tsp thyme

Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Place the leg of lamb in a large roasting pan fat side up and pat it dry with paper towels. Combine mustard, garlic, 2 1/2 tsp rosemary, balsamic vinegar, 1 tsp salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a small bowl. Spread the mixture on both sides of the lamb.
  2. Place the tomatoes, olive oil, honey, onion, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, 1 tsp rosemary, and thyme in a bowl - mix until evenly combined.
  3. Pour the tomato mixture around the lamb and then pour the chicken broth over.  
  4. Roast lamb in the 450 degree oven for 20 minutes. Turn the heat down to 350 degrees and roast for another 1 to 1¼ hours, until a meat thermometer registers 130 to 135 degrees for medium-rare. 
  5. Place the lamb on a cutting board, cover with aluminum foil, and allow to rest for 15 minutes. Return the tomatoes to the oven to keep warm. Slice the lamb, arrange on a platter, sprinkle with additional salt and pepper (if desired), and serve with the tomatoes and pan juices spooned on top.


Thursday, September 05, 2013

Pepperoni Pizza Spaghetti Casserole



This is a very kid-friendly meal that we really enjoyed for dinner! My son said it looked like a deep dish pepperoni pizza when it first came out of the oven. I loved the combination of pasta, meat sauce, veggies and the crispy pepperoni. Super easy to throw together and  very delicious and a nice twist on normal spaghetti! Goes great with some garlic bread, a salad, and / or some green beans for a filling and comforting dinner.

I liked how frying up the pepperoni actually pulled a lot of the grease out of them before they made their way into the dish, so there weren't pockets of "pepperoni grease" puddling on top of the cheese. This is very easy to tweak to your personal preferences - I added the onion and mushrooms, and an extra 1/2 can of sauce all of which I thought were really good additions. I also added the extra seasonings for the ground beef which I usually think it needs in these types of dishes - feel free to change things up and make it your own! I think some rough chopped bacon and some sauteed green pepper would work well in this dish too.

Pepperoni Pizza Spaghetti Casserole slightly adapted from She Turned Her Dreams Into Plans

Ingredients
12 ounces uncooked spaghetti noodles (I used linguine)
1 pound ground beef
1 medium onion, diced small
1 4-oz can mushrooms, drained
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
1/4 - 1/2 tsp garlic powder
2 ounces pepperoni, sliced in half
1 - 1 1/2 (26-oz) jar (or can) of pasta sauce
2 cups mozzarella cheese, grated

Directions
  1. Cook spaghetti in boiling water according to the directions on the package. Drain and place the noodles in a lightly greased 9x13 pan. 
  2. Cook ground beef and onion in a large skillet for 10-15 minutes (or until beef is cooked through, and onions are tender). Season with salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, and garlic powder. Adjust seasonings to taste. Stir in drained mushrooms. Drain grease and pour meat mixture over cooked noodles in the 9x13 baking dish. 
  3. Wipe skillet out with a paper towel. Place pepperonis in the pan (separate out the pieces so they can cook evenly) and cook over medium heat stirring occasionally until crisp (about 4-5 minutes). 
  4. Pour the pasta sauce over the noodles - use a spatula to gently stir a little and make sure the noodles are well coated - add sauce to your personal tastes (if you like your casserole/pasta dishes saucy you will probably want to use 1 1/2 cans instead of just 1). Place about half the pepperoni slices over the pasta sauce. Sprinkle the mozzarella cheese over the top. Place the remaining pepperoni slices on top of the cheese. 
  5. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes (remove foil for the last 10 minutes) or until cheese is completely melted and starting to brown.


Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Cranberry Thanksgiving Turkey Sandwich




One of the fantastic assignments I have for the month of September as an AllRecipes Brand Ambassador is to be a part of the Butterball Turketarian movement and celebrate "Turkey Tuesdays" - with a new turkey recipe (from the AllRecipes.com collection) tested and rated once a week, each Tuesday, in September. For my first turkey recipe, I opted for this yummy turkey sandwich which was perfect to prepare and take for lunch at work! This happens to be pretty similar to one I've posted before - my "Gobbler Sandwich"; I LOVE the combination of turkey with cranberry sauce - goes so good together! I like to add pickles and cheese to mine as well to change it up; you can use this delicious base to tweak to your preferences and make YOUR perfect Thanksgiving Turkey Sandwich!

Cranberry Thanksgiving Turkey Sandwich adapted from AllRecipes

Ingredients
2 slices wheat bread
1/2 - 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1 - 2 leaves romaine lettuce
4 ounces sliced Butterball® Maple Honey Turkey lunchmeat
2 tablespoons whole berry cranberry sauce (or 2 slices jelly cranberry sauce)

Directions
  1. Spread each slice of bread with mayonnaise.
  2. Top with lettuce, turkey and cranberry sauce and remaining slice of bread.

PLUS-UP Your Sandwich:
Use a buttered, toasted brioche bun.
Replace mayonnaise with Dijonnaise.
Add 1 oz. brie cheese and 3-4 slices of green apple.