Thursday, September 25, 2014

New & Improved Easy Garlic Knots

Sometimes you need to improve on an old classic.  That's what I did a few weeks ago with my garlic knot recipe.  The original was just fine, but after a few years of making them, I thought.....it could be better.

The tweaks to the recipe were very simple.  I just allowed the dough to rise a second time and it produced a softer and better texture garlic knot.  I also used a little extra garlic butter when brushing them out of the oven, and that never hurt nobody ;)

recipe for the dough

1 c. warm water
2 1/4 tsp. active dry yeast
1 tbsp. honey
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. salt
2 1/2 to 3 c. all purpose flour

Simply dissolve the yeast in warm water with honey.  Set aside and allow the yeast to bloom (or wake up a bit) and get foamy.  In a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook, pour yeast mixture in with olive oil.  Add the flour, about 2 1/2 cups to start, and begin to knead on low (speed 1 or 2).  Add salt and continue to kneed for about 8 to 10 minutes.  If the dough climbs, up the dough hook, add more flour a few tablespoons at a time.  The dough should pull away from the bowl and be soft and smooth, not sticky.

Put the dough into a greased bowl, cover with a towel, and allow to rise for 2 to 3 hours. 

On a floured surface cut the dough into fourths.  Working with one fourth at a time, roll into a rectangle about 12 inches by 5 inches.  Cut the rectangle into 5 or 6 pieces lengthwise. 

Roll each strip into a little flour to remove tackiness, and tie into a knot.  Place onto greased baking sheet.

Repeat with remaining dough.  Cover with a towel and allow to double in size, about an hour.

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  Spray the tops of the knots with cooking spray.  If you want to add cheese, do it now.  Bake for 17 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown.



While the knots are baking, melt a stick of butter with 1 tbsp. minced garlic and 1/2 tsp. parsley.  As soon as the knots come out of the brush them liberally with melted butter mixture.  Serve immediately by themselves or with marinara!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

First Day of School Jitters

Heart palpitations, sweaty palms, butterflies in the tummy....yep all those things were present this morning at our house.  While you may think it was the boys, you would be wrong, it was me.  It's not a huge secret that I don't like the first day of school.  I miss my babies so much, and I have a really hard time with the silence.

I don't always deal well with those emotions.  I am a type A, highly sensitive person who likes routine and consistency.  In my head I know that we are embarking on a new routine, and in due time I will be just fine.  It's just those first few days, that really throw me for a loop. 

So how did I do today?  Well, first to stop myself from emotional eating, I kept very busy.  I cleaned like crazy (that would be my go to therapy when I feel out of control), I did laundry, mowed the lawn, and now I am blogging.  I believe the vacuuming and mowing the lawn helped with the silence issue ;)

My emotions have settled a bit as I look at the clock that is reading 2:30 p.m.  Ok, I can do this.... one more hour.  I will be so excited to hear about their first day.  Hopefully dinner conversation tonight is filled with giggles, stories, and perhaps the mention of meeting a new friend or two.

Tomorrow will be better and Friday even better.  To all the other parents who share my jitters, hang in there :)

Friday, August 29, 2014

Greek Pasta Salad

I did a small container of tomatoes, basil, and rosemary this year for gardening.  I planted three little tomato plants that consisted of a grape tomato plant, plum tomato plant, and a yellow heirloom plant.  I have tomatoes out my ears. Well, not literally out my ears, that would look really silly. 

I have shared some with neighbors, but the majority of them Jay and I have consumed.  My favorite way to eat fresh tomatoes is with a little salt and pepper.  Jay prefers tomato with feta cheese and dressing, and that my friends is the inspiration for today's recipe.

One of Jay's most favorite salad is a Greek salad.  He will eat it anytime of day.  He has been known to eat it for breakfast.  I decided to put all his favorite Greek salad toppings into a pasta salad.  I made it the other night, and thought for sure it would be a couple of portions.  I was mistaken, he ate it all in one sitting.  I guess it was a success.

recipe (serves 2)

1/2 lb. short cut dried pasta, cooked and cooled (penne, rigatoni, etc.)
1 cup tomatoes, I used a mix of yellow and plum tomatoes sliced and quartered
1/2 c. black olives, sliced
1/4 c. pepperoncini, sliced
1/8 c. sliced red onion
1/2 c. crumbled feta cheese
1/2 c. prepared Greek dressing, you may use more or less depending how you like your salad dressed

Simply cook pasta and allow to cool.  In a large bowl mix all the sliced veggies with pasta.  Gently add the feta cheese with the dressing and toss until well mixed.  You may want to season with salt & pepper, but be careful feta can be quite salty.

Allow to chill in the refrigerator for several hours.   Serve with pita bread or nice crusty baguette.

This would be great for this coming Labor Day picnics!

Also, here are a few pictures of my littlest playing soccer.  I still need to get pictures of my oldest.




Wednesday, August 13, 2014

15 Minute Shortcakes

We are busy busy busy with soccer season upon us.  Both boys are playing and with them being in different divisions, it means we have soccer Monday through Saturday.  Fun times!

With our busy schedules, dinners need to be quick and easy, as well as the occasional dessert.  So today's post is a quick shortcake.  Just a disclaimer, my shortcakes here appear a little more brown in color than yours will.  The reason behind that is, Brandon was helping to make them, and decided we needed extra vanilla (which equated to triple the amount).

ingredients (yields 6 to 8 shortcakes)

2 1/4 c. baking mix
1/4 c. plain or vanilla yogurt
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. lemon zest
2 tbsp. melted butter

2 c. sliced strawberries
1/4 c. granulated sugar
1 to 2 tbsp. water

whipped cream

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Combine sliced strawberries with sugar and water, set aside to form sauce.

In a large bowl combine baking mix, yogurt, vanilla, melted butter, and lemon zest.  Stir with a wooden spoon until a soft dough forms (the dough will be tacky).  Drop biscuits by tablespoons onto an ungreased non-stick baking sheet.

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes.  Biscuits will be golden brown and no longer tacky.  Allow to cool for 5 to 10 minutes.

Slice biscuits in half.  Spoon berries over the sliced biscuit and top with whipped cream. 

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Quilting For The First Time

I have neglected My Little Blogspot, sorry!  I have an excuse though, we were on vacation to the Outer Banks, NC.  The boys enjoyed countless hours swimming in the pool, looking for sea shells in the morning, and of course eating.  We were able to visit a restaurant from one of our favorite shows, Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives.

Ok, so back to business.  I am embarking on a new sewing project, quilting.  My sister-in-law has quilted for years and has even gifted a quilt to each one of my boys.  She is talented and has agreed to share her secrets. 

Now, my attempt will be very simple.  I have chosen four coordinating fabrics. Tracy figured out all the math for me, so all I have to do is start cutting my squares.  I plan on posting step by step pictures, along with her tips as I muddle through this project.

Here's what the fabric looks like and the lovely inspiration.  For my birthday, from a dear friend I received beautiful pillow shams.  Those shams are the starting off point to a bedding transformation!



Good-bye to the blue bedding of the last ten years, and hello green and pink.  I am super excited.....wish me luck ;)

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Outdoor Updates

June was a busy month for us on the outdoor front.  We had an awning put up, a shed constructed, garage screens installed, and with mulching and watering the gardens are looking good. Oh, and last year we added a fence.

I believe our outdoor projects are done for at least two years or so ;)

Here is a before shot of the outdoor space.  When we bought the house, we were happy with all the landscaping that had already been done, along with the stamped concrete patio.  So we were able to use our money on "accessory items".


So here are a few pictures to show the progress.  First the shed.  We were able to match the siding and drip edge.  We picked a style that matched the lines of our house.  With a little painting of the doors, window boxes and shutters, it turned out really nice.

that's the shed all the way in the backyard
here's the close up
 
We matched the blue accents on our house with the awning, and chose a blue and tan stripe.


Finally, the butterfly garden is in bloom.  It's also attracting various birds which is very satisfying to watch.



What have you all been up to this summer?  Any outdoor projects of your own?  I would love to hear.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Adam's Hawaiian Birthday (part 2) / Puff Pastry Chicken Wing Appetizer Recipe


Yesterday we celebrated Adam's birthday with family.  Everyone came dressed up in their finest Hawaiian gear. 

I kept the menu simple with sliders, pulled BBQ chicken, deviled eggs, baked beans, fruit (compliments of my mom), and pasta salad (compliments of my sister-in-law).  We enjoyed the sweet treats and then Adam opened his presents.

It was a very nice afternoon.

I promised a recipe and I'll tell a quick story on how I came up with it.  First, I had decided on just munchies like chips and cheese balls for appetizers.  Then I was thinking maybe I'll do a hot dip.  After asking Jay, we agreed on Buffalo Chicken Wing Dip.  Well, after over thinking things (as I usually do), I thought to make it easier I would do chicken wing dip in phyllo cups for individual servings.  While shopping for the phyllo cups, I spotted puff pastry cups.  Yes!! This was it, and that is how this recipe was created.

ingredients (yields 24)


1 cup cooked shredded chicken
1 8oz. package cream cheese, softened
1/4 c. Frank's hot sauce
1/2 c. shredded cheddar cheese
1 package puff pastry cups, found in the frozen food aisle

Combine cream cheese with hot sauce until smooth.  Fold in chicken and cheddar cheese.  Place into an oven safe dish.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Follow the package directions for baking puff pastry cups for hot appetizer.  In the same oven while the pastry cups are baking, place dish with chicken filling on another rack.  ( This way the filling comes out hot at the same time as the party cups.)

Once pastry cups are baked, remove from the oven along with the filling.  Follow the package instruction for knocking down the center of the cups with a spoon.

Now you have a place for the filling.  Gently spoon in the hot filling. If you have extra filling, feel free to eat with a spoon ;)  That's it, you are done!


This last step is very important.  STAND BACK!  These were gone in only a few minutes.  Enjoy!

So as I wrap up Adam's Hawaiian birthday party,  I have one word..... Mahalo! (thanks, gratitude) Adam had a great day, and thanks to everyone who helped :)