Sunday, September 21, 2014

Sarah's Whole Wheat Recession Era Bread

   Oh my, it has been quite a while since I've posted anything! It was a crazy Summer and things aren't slowing down as we get into Fall. We moved into our first house, I got transferred to a new virtual school and have been working very hard getting students settled into the school year, and of course we are preparing for baby number two who is due in less than a week!

   One of the things my husband and I wanted to start doing once we were in our own place was to regularly bake our own bread. I came across a recipe online for "Depression Era Homemade Bread," and it was just the type of thing I was looking for; simple, plentiful, and cheap! The original recipe is nothing but all purpose flour, salt, yeast, and water. My version is "Recession Era Bread" as I adjusted it to make a whole wheat version and added in a stick of butter. This makes it a little more expensive, but I like the increased health factor of the whole wheat flour, and a little butter makes everything better!

  This recipe makes 6 loaves of bread and of course if you use a whole bag of each kind of flour rather than just half, you can make 12 loaves in one day; though you will need to do it in two separate batches unless you have a VERY big mixing bowl! Bread freezes very well, so just keep one or two loaves out on the counter in a plastic bag and store the rest in the freezer for later. This is a great tip for saving money on store bought bread as well. I remember going on trips to the "day old bread store" with my mom to load up on bread at low prices and sticking most of it in the freezer when we got home. Its so easy I've never understood why grocery stores have a problem with day old bread anyway.

  I've only encountered one big dilemma with this recipe: Homemade bread tastes so much better on its own than store bought, we have tendency to go through it faster! Thankfully our picky four year old loves the bread and the transition from store bought to homemade was pretty painless. In fact when he asks for sandwich he usually asks for, "A peanut butter and honey sandwich on homemade bread please!"



Whole Wheat Recession Era Bread

Ingredients: 
2.5 lbs (1/2 bag) all purpose flour
2.5 lbs (1/2 bag) whole wheat flour
3 pkgs yeast ( 6 3/4 teaspoons)
2 Tbsps salt
1 stick melted butter
6 cups warm water

Directions:
1. Dump flour and salt into a large bowl and mix together. Make a well in the flour and pour the yeast in. Pour the melted butter and warm water into the well and mix the dough.. I like to just dig in and mix it with my hands.

2. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead. Place dough in an oiled bowl and let rise until doubled in size.

3. Punch down dough and divide into 6 greased loaf pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 40-45 minutes.

Enjoy!



Wednesday, June 11, 2014

A Super Cake for Super Dad

Father's Day is this Sunday! I love spending time with my husband and my dad, both amazing fathers! And of course you can't forget to make sure that all the grandpas, great-grandpas, and godfathers feel the love too.

I've got a soft spot in my heart for dads, I think they don't always get the appreciation they deserve. Even as a child I remember asking my parents why they had us make Mothers Day projects at school, but not Fathers Day projects. They answered that Mothers Day falls during the school year, and Fathers Day is in the summer. Logical, sure, but I still thought it was unfair! Let us not forget how important a strong father is in the life of a child!

As an adult and a parent, I can see all the things my dad did (and continues to do) for me and my siblings much more clearly than when I was a child. He made a lot of sacrifices and always puts us kids ahead of himself. Any pain and sorrow we put him through due to our stupid teenage decisions went mostly unseen. He truly wants what is best for us and doesn't seek out anything in return. He also taught us important things like how to tell the perfect elephant joke, how to do a military style crew report before we pull out of the driveway, that milk and eggs are really moo juice and cackleberries, and not to act like nincompoops. And of course nothing can beat his amazing dance moves and rockin' fashion sense. I mean, who else could pull off his neon yellow, multi-color print vacation pants?

While my husband may not have "vacation pants," he is a great father too. I love seeing our 4 year old Sam beg for "daddy dogs" on the swing, go on camp outs with his dad, and tell his dad that he's a cool dude. If you ask Sam what he wants to be when he grows up, he will tell you he wants to be a daddy. Already Sam is living up to being "just like dad." My husband's answer to the question when he was a child was the same!

With all the super dads in my life I thought that this superdad cake design was perfect for Fathers Day last year. All my cake decorating supplies were packed up in boxes at the time, so this cake was made with nothing more than a round cake pan, butter knife, and a zip top bag with the corner cut off as a makeshift piping bag.

For the cake I used a white cake mix and added some frozen berries and bananas to it, but of course just make any flavor that you like! For the frosting I made my simple cream cheese frosting, but I use canned frosting all the time as well.

After I baked the cake, I froze it. This makes any cake carving you may do much easier and keeps crumbs under control when frosting. After the cake was frozen I cut the cake into the pentagon shape for the superdad logo, and let my son use the cake scraps and leftover frosting to make his own creation.

Then I frosted the whole cake in blue. After that I drew the outline for the yellow part with a toothpick and filled it in with yellow frosting. Then I drew the outline for the red part with toothpick and filled it in with red frosting. I alternated red and yellow dots from my makeshift piping bag for the border.

You can find more of my past Fathers Day cakes here.

Thanks to all the Superdads out there who help guide us through life! I hope that you all have a great day on Sunday!

This post is linked up on the Catholic Bloggers Network 2014 Link Up Blitz. Check it out!


Monday, June 9, 2014

Summer Seafood Pasta Salad

School is out and summer is here! While I enjoy the extra time with my family and all the fun summer activities, Summer is not my favorite season weather wise. Yes, it's wonderful to have sunshine and green leaves and all that, especially after the long tough winter we had, but hot temperatures are not my thing. If it never got more than 80 degrees, I would be a happy girl. I've even thought that it would be a great idea to put air conditioning in the schools and have Autumn break instead!

When its hot outside the last thing I want is to be cooking in a hot kitchen, so one thing I love to do is have a big ol' tub 'o pasta salad sitting in the fridge. Not only is pasta salad cool and refreshing on a hot day, but when I make it ahead of time all I have to do is spoon it into a bowl and lunch is ready!

 This recipe using imitation crab (one of my favorite pasta salad additions) is my go-to, and would work for the "5 items or less" game on Guy's Grocery Games.

Summer Seafood Pasta Salad

Ingredients:
1 box penne pasta (or other short pasta like rotini)
1 or 2 pkgs flake style imitation crab
1 pkg cherry tomatoes
Tri-colored bell peppers, chopped
Italian dressing

Directions

1. Cook and drain the pasta. Put in the fridge to cool. If you are in a hurry you can rinse the pasta with cold water, however, that rinses starch off the pasta which keeps the sauce from sticking.
2. Add the imitation crab, tomoatoes, bell peppers and Italian dressing. Mix.
3. Store in fridge and serve as needed. Pasta salad often tastes better the next day after the flavors have had time to mingle. I like to sprinkle on a little Parmesan cheese on top.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Our Lady of Fatima Blueberry Lemon Cookies

Yesterday was the feast of Our Lady of Fatima. On May 13th, 1917 she appeard to 3 children in Fatima, Portugal, asking them to pray the rosary for the conversion of sinners. The last day she appeard to them was October 13th, where in front of a crowd of thousands of people, the sun danced in the sky! Learn more about Our Lady of Fatima here.

While scrolling through Pinterest I found a recipe for blueberry lemon cookies, two of my favorite flavors! This feast day was coming up and I thought they would be perfect for the occassion. My local women's bible study group happened to be meeting last night and I brought them to share with the ladies, so it worked out great! Everyone agreed they were quite tasty.

I thought that these cookies were perfect for the occasion because of the colors and flavors. You have the "sunny" yellow lemons reminding you of the miracle of the sun, and the blueberries and white chocolate chips  remind me of Mary, since blue and white are colors that are traditionally associated with her. I'm sure the guys can enjoy them too, but after making them they struck me as a very ladylike cookie, perfect for a tea party or shower.

The orginal recipe can be found here. But I did make a couple slight tweaks.


Blueberry Lemon Cookies with White Chocolate Chips

Ingredients:
1 cup ( 2 sticks) butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract (I wanted to use lemon extract to bump up the lemon flavor even more, but I was out.)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
 3 1/4 cups flour
 1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries (note: frozen blueberries will turn your dough a lovely magenta color.)
 Zest and juice of 2 lemons
1 cup white chocolate chips.

Directions:
In a bowl beat butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Mix in extract.

In a seperate bowl combine the salt, baking powder, baking soda, and flour. Add into the butter and sugar mixture. Add zest, juice, blueberries and white chocolate chips. Fold them into the dough and refridgerate for at least and hour.

Scoop dough onto a greased cookie sheet and bake for 11-14 minutes at 350 degrees or until the bottoms are slightly golden brown. Move to a cooling rack. Enoy!

This post is linked up on the Catholic Bloggers Network 2014 Link Up Blitz and the Equipping Catholic Families 2014 Saints Linkup! Check it out!

Monday, May 5, 2014

A Mother's Day Garden


Last summer my Mother's Day planter grew green beans
Mother's Day is this Sunday! Of course I can't post any projects my son and I are working on right now for our moms, grandmothers, great-grandmothers and godmothers. They may read the blog and it will spoil the surprise! However, I did want to share something very sweet my husband and son did a few years ago. We were living in an apartment, but my heart wanted at least a little garden to tend over the summer. Maybe a tomato plant or two and some flowers. Well, my sweet husband was ever so thoughtful, and not only got me a little planter for the apartment patio, but added a special touch with my baby's hand and foot print and painting on the title, "Mommy's Garden." Even as my garden (hopefully) gets bigger this summer, this wonderful little planter will always be a part of it.


And of course we can't forget that May is the month to celebrate everybody's mother, our holy mother Mary! We can honor our earthly mothers and our heavenly one by saying a rosary or other Marian prayer for all the moms in our lives. Below are some links to past posts with Marian/Mother's Day projects that would be great for this month of May!


Monday, April 28, 2014

JPII's Potato Pierogies

 Yesterday was an incredibly exciting day for the Catholic Church! Not only was it Divine Mercy Sunday, but we have two new officially canonized saints! Saint Pope John XXIII and Saint Pope John Paul II! Both amazing of course, but I'm personally more familiar with JPII. His Theology of the Body made a huge impact on me, helping to shape the way I view the world and increasing my love for our beautiful church  in countless ways.

 Of course we had to do something to commemorate the occasion. I thought I would try my hand at making pierogies, since Saint John Paul II was Polish, and they turned out great!  Everybody loved them except my four year old. Of course getting  him to try something new isn't merely an uphill battle, its more like trying to scale a sheer rock face with no mountain climbing equipment while fighting off the local carnivorous wildlife. Seriously; dough, potatoes, cheese; these pierogies are something that even the pickiest child should love! Though I feel like I've already tried every trick in the book, any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. I fully intend to make it to the top of this cliff! Maybe JPII should be the patron of stubborn, picky children and their frustrated mothers.

Though I had my own personal challenges at yesterday's dinner, I honestly think that this is a great family meal that most kids and adults would love! I fully intend to make them again, perhaps even reguarly. Not only are they tasty and economical, but you can make them ahead of time, freeze them, and cook them directly out of the freezer without thawing. On a weekend or a day off you could even make an extra large batch, freeze them, and then you'll have some quick and easy weeknight dinners ready to go!

With our pierogies we also had some sauteed green beans and an apple pie, which I whipped up quickly using store bought crust and some apple pie in jar that we canned back in the Fall. Everything was just delicious.

And sure, my son got me all frustrated and fed up with his dinner time fuss, but after hearing me talk about how exciting it is to have some new saints, and the priest talking about the canonizations, what it means to be a saint, and how we are all called to be saints at Mass, he turned to me after the homily and said, "Mom, I want to be a saint!" Really, what more can a mom ask for? Isn't that the ultimate goal for our children, whether they eat their dinner or not?


JPII's Potato Pierogies

Ingredients:

Dough:
4 1/2 cups flour
2 tsps salt
2 Tbsps melted butter
1 16 oz container sour cream (2 cups)
2 eggs
1 egg yolk
2 Tbsps vegetable oil

Filling:
Instant mashed potato flakes + ingredients to make them
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (I prefer extra sharp)
                                                                                        1/4 of an onion, pureed
                                                                                        salt and pepper

Directions

In a large bowl, stir together the flour and salt. In another bowl, whisk together the butter, sour cream, eggs, yolkm and oil. Stir the wed ingredients into the flour until well blended. Cover the bowl with a towel and let it stand for 15 to 20 minutes.

Prepare 4 servings of mashed potatoes according to the directions on the box.  Add in the cheese and onion puree. (My husband claimes he hates onions, but he loved these pierogies! By pureeing the onions, you add great onion flavor, while still having a nice smooth filling. Could be a great trick for many recipes!). Add salt and pepper to taste.

Seperate the dough into two balls. Roll out one at a time on a lightly floured surface. Cut into circles using a cookie cutter or a glass. Brush a little water around the edges, (I just use my fingers),  and spoon a little of the potato filling in the center. Fold over the circles and press to seal the edges. Get a spoon and eat the leftover mashed potatoes.

Place the pierogies on a sheet pan and put them in the freezer. Once they are frozen all the way through, you can remove them from the sheet pan and store them in the freezer in a plastic bag or other container.

To cook the pierogies bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Drop the pierogies in one at time. When they float, that means they're ready! Remove them with a slotted spoon. Serve with sour cream and enjoy!

This post is linked up on the Catholic Bloggers Network 2014 Link Up Blitz! Check it out!




Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Frugal and Faithful Easter Baskets

My secret weapon for an Easter basket that is inexpensive, fun, and focused on faith? You may not believe it, but its the Dollar Tree!

Finding even one Easter item that has anything to do with the holiday's true meaning at your local supermarket is often nearly impossible. But it's surprisingly easy at the Dollar Tree!

Not only do they usually have a nice supply of Bible story themed puzzles, picture books, and coloring books year round, I was also able to find an egg dyeing kit that included stickers and decorations of crosses, stained glass windows, lambs, bibles, and the like. Not only has my son recently really gotten into puzzles, but we plan on dyeing eggs after Easter Sunday so it works out great! Remember that Easter doesn't end on Easter Sunday, but lasts for 50 days!

 In the Easter candy section there were not one, but two different types of religious themed Easter chocolates. And most surprisingly of all, I have found very specifically Catholic stickers there, like ones featuring depictions of different titles and apparitions of Mary. Sometimes next to the teacher school supplies, there are Sunday school supplies as well, which is where I found the stickers. Who would of thunk it! Sadly I couldn't find them this time around, but they've been there before.  Of course you can also get your basics like Easter baskets, grass, and jellybeans as well as simple fun gifts like bubbles, chalk, and jump ropes.

Most of the Dollar Tree items are best suited for younger children, but that's okay for now because a younger child is what I have. There may also be great items at other dollar stores, but Dollar Tree has always been my favorite because everything there is actually only one dollar, while other dollar stores may have things ranging from one dollar to twenty dollars. I think that its important to remember that kids don't really need a bunch of fancy stuff to be happy. Most young kids can find hours of entertainment with the simplest of items. My son has even invented a game called "Spiderland" that requires nothing more than his hands. Of course when you ask him how many legs a spider has he says five! So for this Easter weekend stay focused on God's incredible gift, have fun, and if your baskets aren't ready yet, head over to your local Dollar Tree!

This post is linked up on the Catholic Bloggers Network 2014 Link Up Blitz! Check it out!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Classic St. Patrick's Corned Beef

Is it really an American St. Patrick's Day without corned beef? Many would argue that it is not. My mom taught me how to make the best corned beef, and she took the recipe from our local Catholic church's St. Patrick's Day dinner and dance event, so you know it has to be good. My in laws partook of the meal this year. My father in law is not a meat and potatoes guy, he is a meat guy, and lets just say that there were no leftovers.

Of course in addition to the corned beef and dying our lemonade green, we can't forget that St. Patrick was a holy man who loved God and brought Christianity to Ireland. I posted some great videos for kids about St. Patrick last year. My son and I also did a shamrock craft that showed how St. Patrick used the shamrock to teach people about the trinity. It worked for St. Patrick back then, and its a great teaching tool today as well! The shamrock is one plant with three leaves, just like God is one God with three persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.


 Corned Beef

Ingredients:
-1 uncooked corned beef with seasoning packet (easily found in your grocery stores in March)
- Spicy Mustard

Directions:

Par boil the corned beef with its seasonings for 3-4 hours.

Remove the beef from the pot and place in a baking dish. Smother the beef with spicy mustard.

Bake at 315 to 325 degrees for 45 minutes to an hour. Serve with cabbage and potatoes.

 This post is linked up on the Catholic Bloggers Network 2014 Link Up Blitz and the Equipping Catholic Families 2014 Saints Linkup! Check it out!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Lent 2014

Its here! Ash Wednesday is tomorrow which marks the beginning of Lent 2014!

In the past I have had a tendency to pick way too many things that I'd like to do, and then not do very well with any of them. Just like cleaning schedules, and diet and exercise plans, I start off with enthusiasm and then peter out after a few weeks. Doing a lot of things is a big temptation with all the wonderful ideas that can be found out there in internet land! This year I'm hoping to get out of that habit by picking just a few meaningful things that will still challenge me, but are reasonable to accomplish.

That being said, this year I have to get creative because of the wonderful news that my husband and I are expecting our second child! So no fasting for me, and dang it, I'm going to eat what I want (or can keep down!)

Just today I came up with something that I think will be a great creative solution. As regular readers may know, I work from home as a teacher for a virtual school. While sometimes staying cozy in your PJs is one of the benefits of working from home, I have fallen into the bad habit of staying in my pajamas all day, every day. Seriously,  I pretty much only get dressed if I have to go somewhere in the evening. I'm not saying I'm proud. So for Lent this year I'm going to get dressed every morning before I start work. This may sound a little silly, but I really think its going to be beneficial. That time when I'm getting dressed will probably be a good time for a little morning offering prayer as well.

Another idea I've seen that I like is writing letters. I always have people that I want to write to in the back of my mind, but I almost never do it. While I don't think I could do 40 letters, one for each day of Lent, I would like to try to write a letter to someone I've been meaning to write to once a week during Lent.

I'm also going to attempt to finish my Lenten cross-stitch project from the past two Lents! I posted about this last year, when I was determined to finish it then!
The finished pattern will look like this. The link to this free pattern can be found here:
http://www.better-cross-stitch-patterns.com/he-is-risen.html

 Of course our  family will be working adding more prayer and charity as well. I also hope to add in little things like reading more faith based stories, and listening to religious music while I work.

Figuring out how to make Lent meaningful for my four year this year is proving to be challenging. He has definitely fallen into a phase where church is very difficult for him. No matter how well our conversation about why church is important and why we go and how we should behave goes before hand, it never seems to matter once we actually get there.  When I gave simple examples of  things people might give up during Lent the poor boy was almost in tears. He couldn't understand why God would want him to do something so incredibly sad as not eating candy or watching cartoons. I tried to explain that when we give things up we show God that He is more important than those things, and when we get closer to God and love Him more we get happier, not sadder, but I couldn't stop the tears. So I figure he's not quite ready for giving up something like that. We talked a little longer and came up with something that I think, I hope, will work well. Sam has decided that he is going to give up whining for Lent. I think he can understand how trying to stop doing something  naughty can make God happy, and help get him ready for Easter.

I'm also going print off a Lenten Calendar and Prayer chart to help guide him, and us, through Lent.

Here is the prayer chart from Enter Under My Roof:
http://enterundermyroof.blogspot.com/2014/02/activity-lenten-prayer-stained-glass.html

The calendar printable we will use is from Catholic Icing, but I am currently having trouble connecting to the site, so I will add that link in later.

What do you think, is my list already too long? 

I hope everyone has a fruitful Lent!





This post is linked up on the Catholic Bloggers Network 2014 Link Up Blitz! Check it out!

Monday, March 3, 2014

St. David's Potato-Leek Soup

March 1st was the feast of St. David, the patron of Wales. In Wales and Welsh communities throughout the world, St. David's Day is celebrated in a similar fashion to St. Patrick's Day here in the United States, with parades, parties, and good food. Sometimes school children in Wales even get the day off! You can learn more about St. David here.

It is traditional on St. David's Day for the Welsh people to adorn themselves with either a daffodil or a leek. When I found this out I immediately thought of potato-leek soup, known to fancy people as vichyssoise. This soup used to be a Christmas Eve tradition for my parents until I came along. After that Christmas Eve lunch/dinner was whatever I chose for my birthday!

I hadn't had potato-leek soup for a long time and was really looking forward to making it. As soon as the raw vegetables hit the warm chicken broth the smell was amazing, and I had barely started cooking! This soup is smooth and velvety and perfect for these still chilly Michigan days. The first spoonful was heavenly, the kind where you just have to close your eyes and say, "mmmmm." I don't think I've eaten something that satisfying in long time. I must make potato-leek soup more often.


Potato-Leek Soup

Ingredients:
-6 cups sliced potatoes (I happened to use Yukon Golds this time.)
-3 cups sliced leeks
-8 cups chicken stock
-2 Tablespoons butter
-1 cup half & half
- salt and pepper

Simmer vegetables in stock until tender. Cool slightly. Puree in blender.

When ready to eat, add half & half, butter, and salt and pepper to taste. I actually left pepper out of my batch because I didn't want little black dots all over my smooth white soup. If you don't care, go for it. You could also use white pepper. Garnish with minced chives or parsley. Enjoy!


 This post is linked up on the Catholic Bloggers Network 2014 Link Up Blitz and the Equipping Catholic Families 2014 Saints Linkup! Check it out!