Monday, June 30, 2014

Paleo Cinnamon Rolls

UPDATE: Since I wrote this post, the recipe that I linked is no longer available. :( So, thanks to a paleo Mama friend, here is a new link with a very similar recipe.

This weekend, I went to a cabin at Detroit lake with some pretty amazing women. It was our annual MOPS Steering Team (aka leadership team) retreat and it was wonderful, relaxing, helpful, lesson-building and just grand. In years past, we've gone to a camp that prepared our food for us - which was quite a luxury, but this year we opted to have everyone make one meal. It worked out quite nicely. On the last day of our retreat, my co-coordinator and myself made breakfast. We sincerely wanted to spoil our team; they worked so hard and we wanted them to know how very much we appreciate them. We had decided ahead of time what to make for food: an egg-bake dish, fruit, orange juice, and cinnamon rolls. When we found out about some of the ladies' allergies, we decided we should accommodate all of our lovely workers. (You can't really show how much you appreciate *all* of them if you don't prepare food that *all* of them can eat.)

Just for kicks, here is a picture of my amazing steering team

Paleo seems like a safe bet for most allergy-related meals...unless you are allergic to nuts...then you have to be very careful with paleo options as well.

Anyway, I decided to stick with making cinnamon rolls and found a recipe for paleo cinnamon rolls!
Photo from Pinterest

This blog may be a bit redundant since the blog linked above has all of this information, but I wanted to include pictures (from when I remembered to take them) so you could see what it should/could look like. First, I toasted the pecans. I did not use walnuts. I was a little concerned that I wouldn't know when they "start to smell delicious," since I'm not much into nuts, but these - you could totally tell when the pecans started to smell delicious. I don't think you'll have trouble figuring that out. It just smells a little toasty and almost kinda sweet...but maybe that was just what I thought. After the pecans were toasted, I made the dough. 

Once the dough was done, I stuck it in the fridge for 15 minutes. It seemed firm enough to me prior to sticking it in the fridge, but it definitely didn't hurt. After I took it out of the fridge, I rolled it into a ball so that I could more easily flatten it out. In the blog above, it recommends rolling the dough into a large rectangle. How on earth people make it into any shape other than a blob is beyond me. Ok, maybe it's not "beyond me"...I suppose if I had more patience, it might work better. ;) The other thing they recommend is putting the dough in between two pieces of parchment paper. This is one of the most ingenious ideas I've ever tried when baking! It keeps your dough from sticking to the counter and it's easier to manipulate. The one thing that I would recommend is laying the parchment paper on a towel. I didn't do this at first and my parchment paper was sliding all over the place. So frustrating! Also, laying the parchment paper on top was awesome because then nothing stuck to the rolling pin either! Genius, I tell ya!

I made up the cinnamon rolls' filling - which was incredibly sticky because of the honey - and did my best to practice self-control and not lick the bowl. I did add in the cardamom, which I think made it smell even better. All of this smelled delectable, by the way.

Smearing it on the cinnamon rolls was much easier than I expected; not like frosting a cake where it feels like the frosting kinda globs together on the spoon. 

See - a giant not-very-rectangular blob
I then added the toasted pecans. I only used a 1/4 cup of pecans rather than a 1/2 cup. I wasn't sure how many people would like the nuts in there, so I didn't want to put in too many. 

It kinda looks like a big blob of a maple bar, doesn't it?
Once this was done, I rolled up the cinnamon rolls starting with the edge closest to me. I didn't struggle too much with the edges being more blobby than rectangular - it still rolled nicely and fairly evenly. Along the way, I had to pinch and manipulate the dough so that it didn't break apart in some spots, but it really wasn't difficult to mold.

Once all of that was completed, I cut the dough and placed it on a piece of parchment paper (the one that I had already been using for rolling it) in a baking dish. 

I didn't have any coconut cream, so I skipped that step and drizzled honey over the top of the cinnamon rolls and sprinkled some cinnamon on it. 

Then I stuck it in the oven. I baked it for about 15 minutes longer than recommended, because it seemed to take a long time for it to even get golden, but it worked and I don't think they really burnt.

Not counting baking time, I'd say this recipe took about 30-45 minutes to make. Quickest cinnamon rolls ever. Once they were completed, I put the lid on them and brought them to retreat. Two days later, everybody got to enjoy them. Our ladies who needed paleo-friendly food said they were very tasty and even had seconds. Another friend tried them and said they tasted nutty, but she liked them. Unfortunately, I have to go off of just what everyone else says and not give my own personal review as I was too busy devouring my non-paleo-friendly cinnamon rolls...and those were AMAZING! (I'll post the recipe next.) I'd say this recipe was a success. 

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Refinishing and Refreshing Your Wood Furniture

A little note to my readers: Every week, I have a goal to do at least 3 blog posts in that week. I have been falling behind on this goal far too frequently, as of late, so my goal is going to change. My goal is to write at least two blog posts a week. I planned on picking days, but I'm not going to just because my schedule with the littles is unpredictable. Thank you, dear readers, for coming back and continuing to read my posts despite their inconsistency. And with that, on with the blog!

A while back, I wrote about removing water rings from your wood furniture. Today, I'm gonna cover the next step of that. My wood cabinets and tables look worn. They look rugged and a little warped. They've needed to be refreshed and an extra measure of TLC and I finally managed to do so. See that worn look?

It wasn't hard. It took very little time, but it just wasn't my top priority.  I had recently bought a large container of coconut oil from Costco and since I had it on hand and just saw this handy little tip on Pinterest, I tried it out. You can check it out here.

This was so simple. Seriously. It couldn't have been easier - take a little coconut oil on a rag and buff your wood furniture. 

Before the coconut oil
After the coconut oil

This took very little time and my cupboards and tables looked amazing. Here is an after picture of the cupboard. Isn't it amazing, the difference?

I did this a few weeks ago and looking at the cupboards now, they still look quite nice. I think a good buffing every 6 months will be plenty. There you have it - tried and true and working great. 

Friday, June 20, 2014

Crock Pot Rainbow Risotto

A quick crock pot recipe is a foreign concept to me. One of the luxuries of the crock pot is that you can start something in the morning and not worry about it until the evening. I generally avoid recipes that are for the crock pot that take 2-4 hours. It just seems like a waste of the crock pot's magical abilities. I realize that it's not, it just seems like it for some reason. However, the other day, I saw this recipe and really wanted to give it a try, so I broke my crockpot all day simmering rule, and made this.

Isn't it beautiful?? Now, as pretty as this picture makes it appear, it's not that pretty when you actually make it. Somebody went to a lot of work to turn their veggies and rice into a rainbow masterpiece. I was not that person. I would rather eat my food than play with it (because I love to eat, not because it can't be super fun). But, it was fun to look at and definitely enticed me to give it a try. What can I say? I'm a sucker for prettiness.

I followed the recipe as described in the link above but added probably a little more purple cabbage and doubled the rice and chicken broth. I don't know why it is that I always think that one cup of rice just won't be enough. This time, however, I think it most definitely would've been enough - as long as I had also used only half of each pepper. It would've been rather pepper-heavy otherwise. While the rice and veggies cooked in the crock pot, I cut up and fried some chicken to add once all was completed. I was gonna post an image of the chicken being fried, but it was very unappealing, so I'm going to spare you the gruesome image. You're welcome.

After it was all prepared, I mixed in the milk products and the chicken and dished us up a very colorful dinner. Along with this rainbow risotto, I steamed some broccoli. I figured if the rest of the dinner went south, at least the broccoli was something I knew I could handle. This dinner was tasty. It wasn't my favorite and I felt like the rice was a bit undercooked, but it wasn't bad. Might not be one I'd try again. Or, maybe I'd try it again with a cheese that I liked better. Either way, it was worth breaking the cooking-all-day-in-the-crockpot rule.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Easy Sewing A-Line Skirt

Hello blogger-readers. I've been away for about a week, but I'm back! For the last few days, I've been enjoying being at my home away from home, i.e. Disneyland!!

This trip, I decided to geek out even a little more than normal and made myself a minnie mouse skirt that would match an outfit that my daughter was wearing - making it a picture perfect opportunity when meeting the lovely Minnie herself! The blog I used for inspiration can be found here.

This project was very simple...but felt very complicated because of the directions in the blog and my non-sewing language brain. Thankfully, I had my momma (an amazing seamstress) to help me out. In the blog I linked above, the directions were not near as simple as I needed. I am a bit dense when it comes to my sewing abilities and knowledge. 

I didn't have any newspaper, so I used some excess tissue paper my mom had on hand, which worked wonderfully. Here is a basic run-down of what I did to start (because the directions in the blog above didn't make as much sense as I would've liked, I'm spelling it out for you as best I can): 
1) I measured my waist (where I'd want the skirt to sit rather than my natural waist).
2) I decided what length I wanted the skirt to be and added 2 inches to that. 
3) I laid out the tissue paper, made a curved line half the length of my waist. 
4) from the inside of the curved line, I took the tape measure and pivoted it, measuring out the length from all points - making the pattern piece a-lined rather than straight. 
5) I cut out the pattern and pinned the skirt material to it. (The material was folded in half length-wise.) 
6) Cut out the fabric using the pattern. 
7) Flip the pattern over and do the same thing on the unused part of the fabric. 

After your pieces are cut, you are going to put them right sides together and sew up both sides so that you will then have a complete piece. Remember to backstitch when you start and when you finish both sides.

After both sides were sewn, I ironed the seams flat. If my mom hadn't been there, I probably wouldn't have done it, and it wouldn't have turned out as well. I'm glad my mom knows what she's doing and doesn't take as many shortcuts as I do. ;) 

Once the ironing was done, it was time to add the contrasting fabric. In order to do this, I had to cut the fabric into 6 inch strips. I ended up with three sets of 6 inch strips. I pinned them together (right sides together again) and sewed the seams again. From there, I ironed out the seams and folded the fabric in half length-wise and ironed it again. (Sorry, I was too distracted and didn't remember to take pictures of those steps.) Once all the ironing was done, I put the non-ironed edge of the contrasting fabric against the bottom of the skirt and pinned them together.

Once they were pinned together, I got to work sewing all the way the around the skirt to attach the contrasting fabric. Then I ironed it all out yet again (thanks, mom!). 

From here, I stopped following the directions given on the blog above. I went to my previous blog post and just added in elastic. This was much simpler than trying to do a zipper and it still worked out just as well, if not better, in my opinion. I did not make the elastic very tight - I'm not big into the whole muffin top look. But, it was tight enough that it wouldn't fall off, which was the goal. :) Here it is, the completed product!

It worked! The skirt was worn at Disneyland. It was comfortable, it stayed up, it was complimented on and it was picture perfect. There you have it! Another simple project. Seriously. Way simple. If I can do it, anybody can do it. And it was all done in less than 3 hours (total).

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Softest Ever Bread Machine Bread

I need to go to the grocery store. I've needed to for about a week. But, we've been in full potty-training mode, which means I want to be near a bathroom at all times so we don't end up with any accidents. Due to our lack of going to the store, we are out of some of the basics, including bread for sandwiches. My son loves peanut butter and honey sandwiches. Thankfully, my bread machine is really super easy to use and I was able to make some fantastic bread with ingredients I already had on-hand. Granted, this is not the healthiest of recipes, but I needed to go with ingredients that I already had and anything with the title "Softest Ever Bread..." makes me want to give it a try.

Photo from Pinterest
In my bread maker, I combined the yeast, sugar and water and let it set. Here is a picture of the foamed-up yeast mixture.

Following the foaming yeast, I added in the rest of the needed ingredients.

After all of the ingredients had been added, I pressed start on my bread maker and then I sat back and watched as the magic happened. This is the only picture of the "magic" happening as I wasn't interested in watching the magic happen that much...if I did, I wouldn't have used my bread maker.

I'd highly recommend investing in a bread maker if you don't have one, but be sure to read the instructions as every bread maker works a little differently. But, it's wonderful! As soon as the bread was done, I took it out of the bread maker and set it out to cool.

The bread was crumbly, but still moist, soft and flavorful. If you are looking for a healthy recipe, this might not be the best for that, but it worked in a pinch and made for a tasty, albeit rich, sandwich.

So, there you have it. A tasty, quick and soft bread. This was definitely a Pinterest win.