"Sometimes I wonder about my life. I lead a small life - well, valuable, but small - and sometimes I wonder, do I do it because I like it, or because I haven't been brave?" - Kathleen Kelly (You've Got Mail)

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Garlic Cheddar Beer Bread

1 1/2 c. white flour
1 1/2 c. wheat flour
1/3 c. packed brown sugar
4 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 c. sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
12 oz. bottle of beer
1 tbsp. butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 and grease a large loaf pan and set aside. In a large bowl combine the flours, brown sugar, baking soda, salt and garlic powder. Add cheese and toss to combine. Slowly add beer and stir lightly just until combined. Knead the dough by hand until it all comes together.
Place in the prepared loaf pan and pour melted butter over the top. Bake in preheated oven for about 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.


Man, this stuff is good! I made it for St. Patricks Day dinner with Randy's family. Randy can't get enough of this stuff. I'll definitely be making it again.

Recipe adapted from here

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Traditional Irish Soda Bread

4 c. white flour
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
2 c. buttermilk


Preheat oven to 375 and butter the bottom of a pie plate, set aside. Combine all 4 ingredients just until moistened. Place dough onto a floured surface and knead into a ball. Place in the prepared pie plate and cut and "X" on the top. Bake in the preheated oven for about 50 minutes.

Notes: My mom has made this bread every St. Patricks Day since I can remember. The meal is just not the same without it! This was my first time making it and it was so simple. Its great plain, or with butter and/or jam. I love this stuff! 

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

New lighting! Hooray!

We are slowy replacing all the lighting in the house...so far we've done the entry way, kitchen, Margot's room and master bedroom. Last night dad came over and replaced our living room ceiling fan/light and the sconces on the front of the house. With Randy working at Lowes we keep an eye out for good deals and use our employee discount. Here are some pictures of the new lights:

Ceiling fan before: big, white, ugly, loud....didn't match anything in the room 

After! Smaller, nice, new, matches the room and makes such a difference!

Outside sconces before: Old, ugly, broken and upside down!

After: Pretty, white and updated! (we're going to paint the house trim white this summer so it'll all match)

Sunday, March 14, 2010

My Kitchen

I have a love/hate relationship with my kitchen. It's the room I'm in the most during the day and I love being in there and creating things. The part I hate? The way it looks and feels!

I don't like anything about it besides the wood floors, glass pendant lighting and new fridge...all 3 put there by us. Everything else is beige, ugly and dated. I haven't liked this room since we moved in over 2 years ago. I've redone all the rooms in the house besides this one for two reasons. #1, the money. Kitchens are NOT cheap! And #2, I couldn't make up my mind about what I wanted to do with it.

Well I've been spending this last week doing MUCH research on how to spruce it up without breaking the bank. I've also finally got a vision for how I want it to look. here are some pictures of how it looks now:

Everything is black/white/red because that's what we had in our apartment when we first got married. I want to keep that...but add something more! I'm going for a cozy coffee house feel. So here's the plan:

-Buy new cabinet door and drawer fronts 
-Paint door and drawer fronts white
-Sand and paint cabinet bases white
-Install black handles on doors and drawers
-Paint counter tops black
-Paint walls a nice ochre color
-Do tile a back splash

-Spray paint hood over the stove
-Get some sort of window treatment (not sure on this yet)
-Organize all the junk on top of the cabinets
-Get white stove and dishwasher...I'll keep my eyes peeled at yard sales and craigslist
-Possibly get a new sink and faucet??

So that's the plan! I'm really excited to get the ball rolling on this project, hopefully within the next week or two. I'll keep you updated :)


Friday, March 12, 2010

Tangy Pork Loin Roast

2 1/2 lb boneless pork loin roast
1 c hot water
1/4 c white or brown sugar
1 1/2 tbsp minced onion
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
3 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp ketchup
1 tbsp hot sauce (optional)

Place pork loin in crock pot. Mix all the remaining ingredients and pour over the meat. Cover and cook in low for 6-8 hours or high for 3-4 hours. Shred or slice and serve hot.

Notes: This is not your traditional roast but I was really happy with it! It was super flavorful and moist. I couldn't slice it due to it being so moist so I just shredded it (leaving the "shreds" fairly large) and served it with roasted asparagus...yum! Randy and I both loved this and couldn't get enough! The next day I served it in whole wheat wraps with sour cream and and cheddar.

Recipe found and adapted from here

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Samoas (aka the best Girl Scout cookie!)

Samoas are by far my favorite Girl Scout cookie so when I found this recipe I was so excited! They are $3.50 a box and I think you only get something like 12 or 16. I had everything to make these besides the caramels and coconut...which I bought on my last grocery shopping trip :)

After the 3 (yes...THREE!) hours it took the make these (only made 20) I would definitely just pay the $3.50 and save the time. Plus, buying caramels and coconut isn't all that cheap, so I didn't even save money! AND I should add that I wasn't all that impressed with the way they turned out. They didn't taste much like the real thing. The chocolate/coconut/caramel part was pretty close, but the cookie itself, not so much! So in the end I was pretty disappointed. They cookies are good...if you don't have the real thing to compare them to.

I debated whether or not to even post this recipe, but they took so much dang time and work so I had to share. And like I said, they're good. Just as long as you're not expecting them to taste just like the "real" Samoas.

Cookie Ingredients:
1/2 c. white sugar
3/4 c. butter, softened
1 egg
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 c. flour (plus more for rolling)
1/4 tsp. salt

Cookie Directions:
Combine the flour and salt, set aside. In in large mixing bowl combine the sugar and butter, mix until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla until well combined. Gradually add the flour mixture. Preheat oven to 350. Then work some more flour in by hand until dough ball forms. Sprinkle the counter with flour and lay the dough on top. With a floured rolling pin, roll the dough to 1/4 inch thick. Using a biscuit cutter or the top of a glass, cut the dough into circles and place onto cookie sheets. Using something small and circular (I used the tip of a funnel and it worked great) make a small hole in each cookie. Reuse the dough edges to make more circles until all the dough is used up. Bake in preheated oven for 10-12 minutes, or until they begin to get golden brown on the edges. Transfer to wire racks and cool completely.

Topping Ingredients:
 10 oz. semi sweet chocolate chips
3 cups shredded coconut
12 oz. caramels
1/4 tsp. salt
3 tbsp. milk (I used half and half)

Topping Directions:
Spread coconut evenly onto an ungreased cookie sheet or a 13x9 cake pan. Toast in the 350 degree oven for 10-15 minutes, stirring often to prevent burning. Once the coconut is fragrant and golden brown, remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
Place chocolate chips in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly until melted and thin. Turn all of the cooled cookies over and spread chocolate (using a pastry brush or knife) in a thin layer on the bottoms. There will be some chocolate leftover to drizzle on top. Allow to dry completely (I had to put mine in the fridge for a while). Once chocolate is set you may begin making the caramel topping.
In a large microwave safe bowl, add the caramels, milk and salt. Microwave for 2-3 minutes, stirring in between each minute. When fully melted and smooth, add the toasted coconut, stir well to combine. Turn cookies back over, with the chocolate layer facing down. With a butter knife, spread and generous amount of the caramel mixture on top of each cookie, being careful not to fill the hole in the center.
Once all the cookies are covered, melt the chocolate back down if it has hardened too much and drizzle over the tops. Allow to set. Store in an airtight container. Makes about 20 cookies.

Recipe found here