Sweet Bella…

My daughter fell asleep in my arms tonight and I fell in love with her all over. Mikey was “supposed” to be our last because we “got our boy” but she truly completes our family.

My middles were both Daddy’s kids when they were babies but she, like my first, is all mine. I was blessed so wholly when she came into my life.

I don’t know what it is about her but she has changed me and how I approach everything I do. I have had more success in achieving my goals in the past year than ever before and I credit her coming into the world for the shift.

I don’t play favorites, she’s just the one I’m thinking about right now.

20140130-221805.jpg

Tuesdays with Mama: Recipe Edition Sin-amon Rolls

Cinnamon RollsThese cinnamon rolls are amazing.  In my community, I’m sort of the cinnamon roll queen.  And it’s awesome.

I try not to make them too often.  Otherwise they might not be as special.  I adore these cinnamon rolls and I have made them on multiple occasions for teacher breakfasts, pot luck brunches and other gatherings.

I hope you enjoy!

Mama Beth’s Sin-Amon Rolls

Ingredients:

  • 1 quart Whole Milk
  • 1 cup Canola Oil
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 2 packets Active Dry Yeast
  • 8 cups (Plus 1 Cup Extra, Separated) All-purpose Flour
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1 Tablespoon Salt
  • Melted Butter (I usually wind up using more than I should.  Start with 2 sticks.  You’ll get the idea)
  • 2 cups Sugar
  • Generous Sprinkling Of Cinnamon

Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 1 bag Powdered Sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup Milk
  • 1/4 cup Melted Butter
  • 1- 8 oz. package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/8 teaspoon Salt

7-8 disposable aluminum pie pans

 Instructions for Dough: 

For the dough, heat the milk, vegetable oil, and sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat to just below a boil. Set aside and cool to a warm temperature.

Sprinkle the yeast on top and let it sit on the milk for 1 minute.

Add 8 cups of the flour. Stir until just combined, then cover with a clean kitchen towel, and set aside in a relatively warm place for 1 hour.

After 1 hour, remove the towel and add the baking powder, baking soda, salt, and the remaining 1 cup flour. Stir thoroughly to combine.

Use the dough right away, or place in a mixing bowl and refrigerate for up to 3 days, punching down the dough if it rises to the top of the bowl. (Note: dough is easier to work with if it’s been chilled for at least an hour or so beforehand.)

 Assembly Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

To assemble the rolls, remove half the dough from the pan/bowl. On a floured baking surface, roll the dough into a large rectangle, about 30 x 10 inches. The dough should be rolled very thin.

To make the filling, pour 3/4 cup to 1 cup of the melted butter over the surface of the dough. Use your fingers to spread the butter evenly. Generously sprinkle half of the ground cinnamon and 1 cup of the sugar over the butter. Don’t be afraid to drizzle on more butter or more sugar! Gooey is the goal.

Now, beginning at the end farthest from you, roll the rectangle tightly towards you. Use both hands and work slowly, being careful to keep the roll tight. Don’t worry if the filling oozes as you work; that just means the rolls are going to be divine. When you reach the end, pinch the seam together and flip the roll so that the seam is face down. When you’re finished, you’ll wind up with one long buttery, cinnamony, sugary, gooey log.

Slip a cutting board underneath the roll and with a sharp knife; make 1/2-inch slices. One “log “will produce 20 to 25 rolls.

Pour a couple of teaspoons of melted butter into disposable foil cake pans and swirl to coat. Place the sliced rolls into round pie pans. This recipe makes about 7 pans worth of rolls.  Be careful not to overcrowd. (Each pan will hold 7 to 9 rolls.)

Repeat the rolling/sugar/butter process with the other half of the dough and more pans.

Cover all the pans with a kitchen towel and set aside to rise on the countertop for at least 20 minutes before baking.

Remove the towel and bake for 15 to 18 minutes, until golden brown. Don’t allow the rolls to become overly brown.

While the rolls are baking, make the cream cheese icing:

In a large bowl, whisk together the ingredients for the icing. Whisk until very smooth. Taste and add in more vanilla, sugar, butter, or other ingredients as needed until the icing reaches the desired consistency. The icing should be somewhat thick but still pourable.

Remove pans from the oven. Immediately drizzle icing over the top. Be sure to get it all around the edges and over the top. As they sit, the rolls will absorb some of the icing’s moisture and flavor.

For a pdf of this recipe click here: Sin-Amon Rolls

Homemade Chinese Food (With Recipes)

It has been a while since I got really involved in cooking a meal for my family.  The kids have all been busy and my schedule is nearly bursting with all of the things I have on my plate from day to day.  On Sunday, I started a one week spending fast and yet I was really in the mood for Chinese takeout.  Instead, I whipped up my own Chinese food feast.

Fried rice and General Tso’s Chicken, all from scratch, graced our table last night and they were delicious!  I started four o’clock and made a mess of my kitchen.  Frying chicken and mixing up what would eventually become quite a nice sauce took me what remained of the afternoon.  At 6:00, we sat down to dinner.

Madison said that my fried rice looked “realistic” and gobbled it down along with a helping of General Tso’s chicken.  Gracie and Mike, not so much.  I neglected to make the rice with chicken included so Grace had no interest and Mike, well, he’s Mike.  I understood.

Below are the recipes I used.

Fried Rice:

Serves: 8

Ingredients

  • 3 cups cooked rice*
  • 2 tsp. oil (I used olive, but traditionally you use sesame)
  • 1 small white onion, diced
  • ¾ c. frozen peas and carrots, thawed
  • 2-3 Tablespoons soy sauce (more or less to taste)
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 Tbsp chopped green onions (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat a large skillet or wok to medium heat. Pour sesame oil in the bottom. Add white onion and peas and carrots and fry until tender.
  2. Slide the onion, peas and carrots to the side, and pour the beaten eggs onto the other side. Using a spatula, scramble the eggs. Once cooked, mix the eggs with the vegetable mix.
  3. Add the rice to the veggie and egg mixture. Pour the soy sauce on top. Stir and fry the rice and veggie mixture until heated through and combined. Add chopped green onions if desired.

*Rice should be cooked and cooled

General Tso’s Chicken

Ingredients

  • 3 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into chunks
  • 2 cups green onions, sliced
  • 8 small dried chilies, optional for spicy chicken

Chicken Fry

  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • ½ c. fry oil (vegetable or canola work well)

Sauce

  • ¼ cup cornstarch
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 teaspoons fresh garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon French ginger, grated
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ½ cup soy sauce
  • ¼ cup rice wine vinegar
  • ¼ cup sherry
  • 1c. water

Directions

  1. Place sauce ingredients in a quart jar with a lid and shake to mix. If you make this ahead of time just refrigerate until needed, shaking it again when you are ready to use it. This also keeps your dirty dishes down.
  2. Heat fry oil over the stove until it starts to shimmer.
  3. Batter chicken pieces by first dipping in egg and then into the cornstarch to coat.  Add chicken to the hot (350 degree) oil and fry until crispy. Only cook 7 or 8 chicken pieces at a time. You do not want to lower the temp of the oil by cooking too many at a time. You can use a simple cooking or candy thermometer to judge the temp of the oil.
  4. Drain on paper towels. Keep warm- I just put them in the oven with the oven off. Repeating until all chicken is fried.
  5. In a separate wok or large skillet add a small amount of oil and heat,
  6. Add green onions and hot peppers (if you want to use them) and stir fry about 30 seconds.
  7. Stir sauce mixture, and then add to pan with onions and peppers, cook until thick. If it gets too thick, add a little water. The thickness of the sauce should be similar to what you get when ordering this at a restaurant.
  8. Add chicken to sauce in wok, and cook until all is hot and bubbly. The quicker this is done the crispier the chicken stays.
  9. Serve over rice.

Sunday Funday?

ImageToday was the most beautiful  day we have had here in a while.  Since it’s tax season and I’m not brave, I didn’t do what I wanted to do and pack the kids up for a spontaneous trip to the National Zoo.  Instead, we scooped up my nephew and the I took the five kids over to a local park near a beautiful pond.

The day was perfect for playing on the jungle gym, the baby was content and smiling and we had several hours before we had anywhere to be.  Not two minutes after we got to the park, my nephew came over complaining that he was “exhausted” and couldn’t possibly play on the equipment.  My son, trying to be like his big cousin, also joined Bella and me on the bench complaining of being tired.

This wasn’t looking good.  Continue reading

Birthday, Baseball and Me

So I was up until midnight last night. First I couldn’t find my purse and then I was searching high and low for baseball tickets for game I’m not even going to. But Madison is, so they had to be found. Not surprisingly they were in the last place that I would have possibly looked for them.

So at about 10 o’clock last night I was settling in to go to bed when I remembered the birthday party that Gracie and Michael are supposed to be going to today. I had no idea what time it was supposed to start and no clue where the invitation was. It was too late to call the birthday mom, but let’s be real… my pride wasn’t going to let me do that anyway.

After another two hours of searching every bag I own, I found it. The kids will be going to their party and I feel kind of ridiculous.

But you know what? At the end of it all, I’m pretty proud of myself for not giving up. Oh yeah, and my purses are cleaned out too!

And we’re off to buy a gift for the birthday girl.

Foodie Friday: Orzo with Spinach and Parmesan

Since I’m trying to get healthier (yes, I realize this is not the healthiest option… baby steps people), I am staying away from the mac and cheese and butter laden scallopped potatoes.  This recipe incorporates spinach and onions with orzo pasta finished off with parmesan cheese for a delicious side dish.  I hope you enjoy!  I’m making it tonight to go with some leftover chicken.

Orzo with Spinach and Parmesan

Delicious hot, cold or even reheated the next day!

Delicious hot, cold or even reheated the next day!

Ingredients:

  • 1 box of orzo pasta (Barilla is my personal favorite)
  • 1 finely diced medium onion, any color (I usually use white)
  • 2 boxes of frozen chopped spinach, 10 oz. each, thawed and drained
  • 1 Tbs. butter
  • 1 container of shredded parmesan cheese

Instructions:

  1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add orzo and cook to desired doneness. Drain pasta and set it aside.
  2. While the Orzo is cooking, add the onion to a pan with just a touch of olive oil. Cook on medium heat until it is translucent and starting to brown.
  3. Add the cooked orzo to a large bowl and top with the butter, cooked onion, well drained spinach and stir. Make certain that you break up all of the chunks of spinach so that it is well incorporated into the dish.
  4. Add the container of parmesan cheese and stir to incorporate.

This dish is a favorite side dish in my house. I hope you enjoy!

Get the pdf of the recipe here: Orzo with Spinach and Parmesan

And then… There was light!

For a very long time now, I have felt stuck.  Every time I tried to make a move to change something in my life I felt like my decisions were not my own.  Mainly this was because of how my choices would affect the feelings of other people. People who are NOT my husband or my children. Would they be mad that I couldn’t go out for drinks on Thursday night because I had to study?  Would they be frustrated that I was working fewer hours because I desperately need to spend more time with my children?  And then, there was light.

A little light bulb went off in my head the other day and I realized that no one is going to respect my boundaries if I don’t respect them first.  No one CAN respect my boundaries if I don’t bother create them.  So there is light at the end of the tunnel.  I am setting more goals and working harder than ever to be the person I want to be and strive for who I want to become in the future.  I won’t spend my days as a doormat anymore.

I am so grateful for this unique time in my life when my babies are young and I don’t want to let a minute go by that is filled with frustration and anger at people who, when you think about it, aren’t the main focus in my life anyway.  Would I rather spend five extra minutes watching Bella coo and laugh?  Absolutely!  Can I spend ten minutes hearing Gracie read six letter words for the first time?  Heck yeah!  I would rather be hanging out with Madison on a Saturday night watching movies and being silly than almost any other thing in the world.  And will I be there this afternoon watching Mikey shoot baskets in the backyard from the kitchen window while I make them dinner?  You better believe it.