Tuesday, March 26, 2013

She Will Remake a Favorite

Rachel Ray's Everyday magazine is my absolutely FAVORITE magazine.  It has a wide variety of recipes that vary in difficulty and prep time.  Everyday mag also has great ideas on vacation spots as well as fashion and home decor.  I have been getting this magazine for over 6 years and I make sure to keep this renewed at all times.  In fact, I renew this so often, I'm pretty sure I have at least 2 years in the pipeline!

One of my favorite recipes from Everyday mag, Matt and I found during our first year of marriage and our first year in Maryland.  It was for a greek dish, Meaty Moussaka.  Neither Matt nor I had a lot of experience with Moussaka previously but the basic idea of meat and cheese appealed to us.  The flavors were incredible, but this is not a great choice if you are looking to cut back on fat and calories.     

2 years later, Everyday Mag revamped the Meaty Moussaka recipe to make it a little healthier.  The new Moussaka recipe included roasted zucchini and eggplant in the meat base and used cottage cheese to make the creamy cheese top.  While it still tasted good, it didn't keep a lot of the spices that made the Meaty Moussaka so flavorful.  I still made it several times and even switched out the ground beef for MorningStar meat-like crumbles to make this meal vegetarian-friendly.  

A week ago Matt and I were trying to determine our weekly menu and were brainstorming recipes we hadn't tried in awhile.  Matt suggested moussaka so I picked up all of the ingredients for the lighter moussaka version, replacing ground beef with ground turkey.  We roasted the eggplant and zucchini to layer on the bottom of a 13 x 9  pan.

While creating the turkey mixture, I followed the recipe but decided to add in the spices from the original Meaty Moussaka recipe.  
I layered the meat over the veggies, then added pureed cottage cheese and topped with gruyere cheese.

Below is a better shot of the layers.
The dish bakes for 17 minutes, until the top is nice and bubbly!

If you have the time, I do recommend letting the dish cool to give it time to soak up all of the juices.  
This turned out PERFECTLY!  The addition of the cinnamon from the original recipe to the lighter recipe made this so much more flavorful.  Matt and I gladly gobbled this up for lunch the next several days.  I actually missed it once it was all gone.  I really feel like this could very easily be a family favorite for any family.  The flavors and ingredients are simple and can be altered to better suit your family's tastes.  If you are in the mood to try something a little Greek, you should definitely check these recipes out!


Monday, March 18, 2013

She Will Finally Finish!

One of the first DIY projects I ever pinned and fell in love with on Pinterest was a reclaimed wood wall art project at Shanty 2 Chic.  It was simple and looked easy enough to put together.  Matt doesn't allow me to touch the power tools as he is afraid I will cut off my fingers and to be honest, it's not an unfair assessment.  He was in charge of making the sign and decided on a deep walnut stain.  We originally hung it in our bedroom, but after moving some furniture around after Christmas, we moved it to the family room, where it can be enjoyed by more people!

The sign is actually a combination of 1x6 and 1x2 boards.  It might have received a light sanding before the stain was applied, but other than that it is a pretty raw sign.  
Matt completed the wood sign at least a year ago, so we have been debating for some time on what quote we would put on the board.  My original inspiration just used the word, "love" and I liked that, but Matt wanted to do a little something more.  I had been pinning different quotes, but nothing really spoke to us.  Finally, inspiration struck!  Matt and I had been debating about whether to stay in Mahomet or move closer to our family and friends in the Naperville area.  We didn't know what to do but knew we needed to come to a decision so we could move forward with plans either way.  I was driving home from a particularly exciting book club and the Philip Phillips song, "Home" came on the radio.  That song has been speaking to me for awhile but on that night, while listening to that song, I knew staying in Mahomet was the right choice for us.  We have a great house, our kids attend an amazing daycare, and we are surrounded by lifetime friends, what more could we want?

The very next night Matt and I sat down to talk about the move and we agreed that staying in Mahomet for at least another 2-3 years was the right decision for us and our little family.  I also told Matt about the quote I wanted to use and how I wanted it to look, he was sold!  Unfortunately, this decision was made in the fall and I did not get my Silhouette until Christmas, so we still had some time before the sign was completed.  We finally found some unexpected free time this past week and finished up the sign.

I cut the quote out of vinyl and got out my Omnigrid to help put it on.  I know you can use transfer paper and I have heard that painters tape works great for transfering vinyl quotes as well, but I didn't have either and I was determined to get it done.  
I even had a helper watch over the whole process.
When the vinyl was on and the sign was up, Matt and I were both ecstatic with the results.  It's one of my favorite things in our family room and it's perfect for us!
Anyone else out there have Pinterest projects that you really want to get done but need the right motivation?  Anyone else have to make the agonizing decision about moving to be closer to family or staying right where you are?


Thursday, March 14, 2013

She Will Go From Scratch

I've heard about people who make cinnamon rolls from scratch, but I never really understood them.  Pillsbury and Cinnabon make some mighty tasty cinnamon rolls, why mess with success?  We love to make breakfast on the weekends when we are home and I really wanted to try something new.  After searching through Pinterest, Matt kept asking about the Overnight Caramel Pecan Cinnamon Rolls.  I took a look at the recipe and while it had a lot of steps, nothing seemed too difficult so we decided to give it a go.

Overnight Caramel Pecan Cinnamon Rolls
Degree of Difficulty: 8
Mess Factor: 9
Taste: 8

There are a LOT of steps with this process and several resting periods, so making these the night before is definitely recommended.  First you make the dough and allow it to rest for an hour.  Once the dough has rested, you will roll it out into a large rectangle and brush it with a LOT of butter.  The recipe calls for 1 cup of butter, but we had a ton leftover, so I would stick with a 1/2 cup or 1 stick.
Once the butter is slathered on, the next step is to sprinkle a combination of sugar, brown sugar, and cinnamon all over the dough.
If you are following the directions you would also add crushed pecans and raisins, but we opted to skip this because I don't really care for pecans and Matt doesn't really care for raisins.  After tasting the final product, I do think pecans would have been a good addition.  They would have added a good crunchy texture.  Once the dough is saturated in butter and sugar, roll it up starting from the widest end.
This step wasn't difficult, so much as messy.  I am fortunate enough to have cleaning people come once a month and we made this the night after they came, so it just felt like we wasted all of that clean counter!

Once the dough has been rolled up, slice it into 1 to 1 1/2 inch sections.
Butter the bottom and sides of a 13 x 9 inch pan and place the cinnamon rolls into the pan, swirly sides up!
Leave some space between the cinnamon rolls and leave them out for another hour to allow the rolls to rise a little more.
If you are making these same day, you can put them in the oven after the hour of rise time.  Otherwise, put a lid on your pan and place them in the fridge overnight.  In the morning, take the rolls out of the fridge and allow time for the rolls to come to room temperature.
Once the rolls have come to room temperature, put them in a 375 degree oven for 20-25 minutes.  While the rolls are baking, make the caramel sauce.  Pour the caramel sauce over the rolls immediately after taking the rolls from the oven.  It will seem like you have too much caramel sauce, but keep pouring.  The caramel seeps down into all of the nooks and crannies to saturate these babies in sugary goodness.
These rolls are incredibly rich.  You can literally taste butter and sugar in every bite!  I could not eat more than one, but my caramel-obsessed husband ate two!
Even though they were a LOT of work and the cinnamon rolls from a can are delicious, these are worth it.  Not something I would make anytime I get in a cinnamon roll mood, but definitely something I would try again for special occasions.  Matt's family grew up eating cinnamon rolls on Christmas morning, so I would definitely contemplate breaking out this recipe to spice up that holiday tradition!
Make sure you have plenty of milk on hand to enjoy this beauty!

Is there anything you have ever wanted to try and make from scratch?  Any luck?  Was it worth it?  One day I do want to make croissants, but I have a feeling that day is FAR away!


Friday, March 8, 2013

She Will Try To Enjoy The Snow

As in most places across the US, it snowed on Tuesday in central Illinois.  As I was watching the snow fall, my mind envisioned these grandiose plans.  We would pick up the girls early from daycare, play a little bit in the snow, make cookies and then drink warm hot chocolate while the cookies were baking and we were getting warm.  As most fantasies in my head, it did not work out quite how I had planned.  Morgan was sick so we had to pick her up a little early from daycare and race (very slowly due to road conditions) to the doctor's office so that we could still be seen.  After confirming everything with Morgan was fine, we headed home with the hope that we could still make cookies together.  I found a recipe for breakfast cookies, which seemed fairly easy and healthy.  The cookies turned out fine, but Morgan didn't end up eating them since she decided that she wouldn't eat her vegetables and spit them out on the floor.  Not exactly the calm, cozy night I had planned!

Breakfast Cookies
Degree of Difficulty: 4
Mess Factor: 5
Taste: 6

I was really lucky because I had all of the ingredients for this recipe on hand, including an abundance of ripe bananas.  The first step is to mash up 3 ripe bananas.

I'm sure some of you moms have read the dangers of squeeze food packets, but I'm not sure how we are going to stop consumption in our house since it's the easiest way to get Morgan to eat vegetables and they are so easy to pack and bring along for any outing.  I did find out that she does NOT like the Meijer Organic brand and there is about 1/3 cup applesauce in each packet, so this was the perfect opportunity to use one more of these up!

After adding the rest of the ingredients, I let Morgan mix it all up!

Then I plopped down heaping spoonfuls on some parchment paper and stuck them in a 350 degree oven for 17 minutes.

They came out looking exactly like they went in, although I'm not exactly sure what I was expecting here.

They tasted pretty good and the best part is I didn't have to feel bad about giving them to either girl.  We normally do berries for dessert, so this was a different treat.  Morgan ate out all of the raisins, but Amelia devoured the whole thing!
This is what is leftover after Morgan gets to it!
I hope everyone stayed safe and warm during the snow!  Hopefully this weekend the weather gets warm and stays warm!