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Wednesday, October 31, 2018

How To Make Homemade Donuts

For as long as I can remember, our family would gather at my Grandma's house on Halloween for the world's most delicious, homemade donuts. These warm pillows of fluffy, sugary deliciousness are the highlight of each and every Halloween. When I got married and moved away, I wanted to have a tradition that I kept for my own kids. At first, being a little less confident in the kitchen, I would make sugar cookies.
The actual picture I shared on Facebook of my sugar cookie tradition. No too bad for a cooking newbie!
Eventually, one Halloween when I was missing family and Grandma's Halloween donuts, I bought a bag of frozen roll dough, thawed it out, cut holes in the center, then fried them in hot oil and covering them in a sugary glaze. They weren't the same as Grandma's donuts, but they were pretty good!

This gave me the confidence to try Grandma's recipe, a recipe that was rumored to be very difficult (it's not. I promise) and one that no one could make as well as Grandma.  My first attempt was a miserable failure. I was new to yeast doughs and hadn't learned that bread/yeast dough was part science, part art, and part patience.  The next year, however, I had practice over and over to make perfect bread... and that practice paid off when I made Grandma's donuts

Since then, donut day has become a huge tradition for our family. We have friends who drive long distances to have these delicious treats. On Halloween, our house is easy to find because you can smell the donuts frying from several blocks in any direction. Each year, we make friends with someone new who we didn't know. These are usually those who have heard about our tradition from friends and show up for a taste of this legendary recipe. At the grocery store, people will recognize me because of our donut tradition. It is more than I ever thought possible and I LOVE it! It's just not Halloween without these donuts.

You will need:
1 C. Milk, Scalded
1/2 C. Shortening
1/2 C. Light Karo Syrup
!/2 C. Granulated Sugar
1 Tsp. Salt
1 Egg, Beaten
1 Tbs. Yeast, dissolved in 1/2 C. Warm Water
1/2 C. Very Smooth Mashed Potatoes, cooled
1/2 C. Apple Juice, room temperature.
5-6 C. Flour

Scald milk. Add milk to shortening, sugar, Karo, and salt. Mix and when lukewarm, add the yeast mixture. Add beaten egg, cool mashed potatoes, and apple juice to the mixture. Mix, then add flour gradually until dough is stiff and easily leaves the side of the bowl. Knead dough for 5-10 minutes, then move to a bowl sprayed with non-stick cooking spray and cover with a light cloth towel. Let dough rise until triple in size, about 2 hours. Punch down, allow to rise a second time. Punch down again and then roll dough out until it is 1/2'' thick on a floured surface. Cut out donuts using a donut cutter and allow to rise one hour. Heat oil and fry donuts. Place on a paper towel to get off excess oil, then immediately dip in glaze.

1 1/2 C. Powdered Sugar
1/2 C. Evaporated Milk, warmed 
1/2 Tsp. Vanilla Extract
1/4 C. Melted Butter
Pinch of salt

**This post may contain affiliate links, which means if you click on the link and/or make a purchase, I may receive compensation at no additional cost to you, You can find my full disclosure statement HERE**

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Creamy chicken with wild rice soup

Do you remember the story I shared yesterday about the cute little bakery stand in the mall where I worked that had the best Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice soup I had ever tasted? This is that soup and it reminds me of being young and in love. When I first discovered the bakery stand in the mall, my husband was still my boyfriend and we would sneak away for a mini date in the food court. This soup (and a raspberry roll, of course) were always my lunch choice. This Creamy Chicken with Wild Rice recipe is so close to the soup I loved so many years ago, it is almost like being back in that old food court holding hands and sneaking kisses from the cutest boy during my lunch break.

Years later, I make it for our family. Everyone loves this soup. We have taken it to family dinners, and church functions and never bring anything home but an empty dish. It is the perfect fall soup, so hearty and filling. I especially love this recipe after Thanksgiving when I can substitute the chicken with leftover turkey. YUM!

Creamy Chicken with Wild Rice soup is the best soup known to man.

You will need:
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup flour
1 cup minced onion
1/2 cup diced celery
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon rubbed sage
1 teaspoon rosemary 
2 teaspoon thyme
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 1/4 cup cubed chicken breast (or turkey)
1 cup half and half
6 cups chicken stock
1 1/2 cup water
2 cups wild rice

saute those veggies!

In a large pot, saute the onions, and garlic in butter until onions become transparent. This takes about five minutes over medium heat. Once the onions are tender, add celery, Thyme, Sage, Rosemary,  bay leaves, and 1/2 cup flour. Stir quickly. Next, add chicken stock, water, wild rice, and chicken. Stir until smooth. Add salt and pepper. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce to medium-low, simmering for about 35 minutes or until rice is tender. Add half and half, stirring to combine. Remove from heat and serve with a thick slice of crusty bread.

(You can add a can of Cream of Celery if you like your soup even thicker. Just whisk it in right before adding the half and half.)

This soup will thicken as it cools. It makes wonderful leftover. Sometimes we double the recipe just so we have plenty left in the fridge for the next few days. My husband likes to scoop Creamy Chicken with Wild Rice Soup into an insulated thermos for lunch.

I think you should make this Creamy Chicken with Wild Rice Soup TODAY! You will love it! 

Monday, October 29, 2018

Heavenly Raspberry Rolls

Years ago I worked at a photography studio in the mall. Sometimes during lunch, I would sneak over to the food court where there was a stand that sold the best soups, bread, and baked goods I have ever tasted. My absolute favorite things to order were the Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice soup, and their raspberry rolls. Oh, those raspberry rolls. They were giant (like the size of a dinner plate!), fluffy, perfectly tart and sweet....simply heavenly. Similar to a cinnamon roll, raspberry rolls are sweet bread dough rolled around a delicious raspberry filling and topped with rich, creamy cream cheese icing.

It was a sad day when that stand closed up shop and disappeared forever. I still dream of those raspberry rolls. So, I decided to figure out how to make them and after years of trying I think I have it all figured out. If it's not perfect, it's pretty darn close. Except I make mine a whole lot smaller.

Raspberry Rolls are so beautiful and delicious
Now, before we get started, there are a couple things you need to know.
1. these are a little labor intensive. But, absolutely worth every minute.
2. It is important to follow all the directions and measure things as noted in the recipe especially the proof times.

This recipe will knock your socks off!

First, you will need two cups very warm, but not hot, water and three tablespoons of yeast. Pour the water in the bowl and sprinkle the yeast on top. Give it a little stir, and then wait for five minutes. You'll know it's ready to move to the next step when it looks like this:

The yeast is ready when it looks light and foamy.
Once your yeast is ready, add 1/2 cup sugar, 1/3 cup butter, 2/3 cup dry powdered milk, one egg, 1 tablespoon salt and two cups bread flour. You will mix this together on low speed for a couple minutes until smooth. When it looks like this, you can move on.

when your mixture is smooth and free from clumps, you are good to move on to the next step.
Next, you will add another cup of bread flour, mix until smooth, Add another cup of flour, mix until smooth, then, add one last cup of flour (totaling five cups of bread flour) to the mixture and mix until smooth and elastic. Looking like this.

To keep flour from flying all over the place, add it slowly and pulse your mixer until it starts to become incorporated. 
Then you will either turn out the dough onto a floured counter top and knead it for 10 minutes or knead it in your mixer with your bread hook for the same amount of time.

Your bread hook is a fantastic way to save time and energy on kneading. Just pop the hook on and let it do its thing.
Cover your dough and allow it to proof in a warm, draft-free place for 90 minutes or double in size. It will look kinda big, and that's good.  You will punch it down, turn it onto a floured surface and roll it out to a rectangle 24"x18". This is important if you want your rolls to be uniform in size.  Then, spread an entire stick of room temperature salted butter over the entire surface of the dough. making sure it is evenly coated. Next, combine 1 cup granulated sugar, 1/4 cup brown sugar, and 1 teaspoon cinnamon in a dish. Sprinkle mixture over butter. Then open a small package of COOK AND SERVE vanilla pudding and sprinkle the entire dry package evenly across the surface. Finally, crush your frozen raspberries and sprinkle them over the sugar, pudding mix, and butter. Big pieces of raspberries are so good, so try not to crush them too much.

Butter, cinnamon sugar, COOK AND SERVE pudding mix and frozen raspberries make up the beautiful filling.

Roll the dough up over the mixture and slice into 24 (one inch) slices. Arrange rolls on a parchment lined cookie sheet and cover with a thin towel. Allow them to rise for 2 hours.

After rolling, cut dough into 24 one inch slices.

Bake these little beauties at 350 for about 16-20 minutes. Then frost with cream cheese icing. 

You will need:
-sweet roll bread-
2 cups very warm water
3 TBL dry active yeast
1/2 c. sugar
1/3 c. butter
1/3 c. dry powdered milk
1 TBL salt
1 egg
5 1/2 cups bread flour

-raspberry filling-
1 stick butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1-pint FROZEN raspberries, lightly crushed
1 pkg COOK AND SERVE vanilla pudding powder

-cream cheese icing-
8 oz. block cream cheese
1/4 c. butter
3 cups powdered sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt

Dissolve yeast in water for 5 minutes. Add sugar, salt, dry milk, egg, butter, and two cups flour and mix until smooth. Add remaining flour one cup at a time slowly until smooth. Knead dough for 10 minutes until firm and elastic (watch for the gluten window). Cover, and allow to rise until double in size, about 90 minutes. After that time, turn dough out on a floured surface and roll dough to 24"x18" rectangle. spread room temp. butter over entire surface of roll dough. Mix cinnamon and sugar and sprinkle over butter. Sprinkle entire package of COOK AND SERVE pudding mix powder. Then, distribute crushed berries evenly on top of all the layers. Roll dough into a tight log. Slice 24 one inch slices, and arrange on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake at 350 for 16-20 minutes. While cooking, mix together ingredients for cream cheese icing. Once rolls are done, and still hot, ice each roll with a generous amount of icing. Enjoy! Yields 24 rolls. 

Happy Baking!

**This post may contain affiliate links, which means if you click on the link and/or make a purchase, I may receive compensation at no additional cost to you, You can find my full disclosure statement HERE**

Friday, October 26, 2018

To The Busy Mom

Grandmas are so wise and wonderful, aren't they? I've had a lot of wonderful conversations with my grandma. She is so intuitive and loving; she has a way of saying things that makes her words just stick. There is one conversation in particular that I find myself referring back to time and time again. We were sitting together at the kitchen table and she was telling me about some things she had been doing and I mentioned how I wish I could do those things. She said to me, "You'll have your season." At that time in my life, I was pregnant with my youngest child and I had two small boys who filled my days with cars, blocks and coloring books. I couldn't imagine a time where things would be anything but that.

But, here I am, only a few years removed from that sweet conversation with my dear, sweet grandmother...my life is evolving. Everything is completely different from what it was back then, and I know in just a couple more years, things will have changed even more. Life keeps happening!

I miss those days where my boys would pull me by the hand. We'd sit on the floor together for hours racing our matchbox cars and building skyscrapers! Just the other day I went outside to see what my big boys were up to and they told me that they wanted "guy time". It's not cool to have mom around when you're having guy time. Ouch. I mean, I know my babies aren't babies anymore... but still. It would be a lie to say their words didn't cut me deep. Am I really not 'cool' anymore? I had to take a deep breath and realize they are growing up. Whether I like it or not, it is happening. My season of having and raising toddlers is over. You won't find even one single diaper in my house. Onesies have become a thing of the past. The little kid season is shortly coming to a close, as well. 

I am learning to accept that now is my season of the Mom-on-the-go. My days are jam-packed with stuff to do and place to go...The title of Full Time Mother has taken on a whole new meaning. I seriously wear so many hats! It seems like everyone has somewhere they have to be each and every single day. How in the world do other mothers manage to get it all done? I have mixed emotions seeing my season of jammies all day watching The Wiggles til daddy gets home, transform into something new. And as I enter this new season of my life, I am both excited and terrified! I am excited to see what this season will bring. I am enjoying the new challenges. But I am terrified that I won't be able to rise to the occasion. What if I don't have what it takes to be what these children need in this stage of their lives? 

With this new season of my life comes a lot of change. I see my children going through a lot of self-discovery. It has been interesting to hear them work through problems and express opinions on various issues. They're learning to branch out and think for themselves, which is both super awesome and slightly annoying. Yesterday my daughter, my youngest baby, came home with a BOY'S number in her pocket! Eek! When did my little girl grow up? How did that happen!? I know that every family goes through this change of seasons...I am nervous for the shenanigans my kids will pull. I did crazy things to my parents. My husband did crazier things to his. (If my children have their dad's ingenuity, I am scared for the things they might do.) I want to be the kind of mother who helps mold her children into good, honest, faithful adults.  There is so much I want to make sure they know before they grow up, things I want to make sure my kids CAN do before they HAVE to do them. The thought of it all is a little overwhelming.

This is the job I signed up for when I chose to have children. I have come to terms with the fact that no one can do it for me, nor would I want them to. This is the busiest season of all, and it is so wonderful! 

There are a few simple truths I have learned as I have less-than-gracefully toppled in this new season of my life...

1) I cannot control how my kids choose to behave. I can suggest, urge, and nudge them toward the decision I would like them to make, but I cannot choose for them. This is VERY hard...I sometimes want to shout, "I KNOW WHAT'S BEST FOR YOU, KID!! JUST LISTEN TO ME AND FREAKING DO IT MY WAY!!!" Instead, I am learning to let them fall. And trying my best to be there to help pick them up, dust them off, and start again. It takes a lot of self-control. I am still learning.

2) positive reinforcement goes a lot further than criticism. I don't always remember this in the heat f the moment...but it is a simple truth that I would be wise to work harder at. I know my kids are willing to work harder and do more when they know I am watching a doling out compliments versus when I'm in a mood and looking to bust people for not doing what they know they're supposed to do. Positivity works wonders. 

3) Silence is not always a good thing. Neither is talking.

4) Threatening to make them eat Lima beans and hot dogs (because it is their least favorite food) and following through because you said you would...may cause them to like Lima beans and hot dogs. True story. Makes me gag a little.

5) Exercise changes the way I handle everything. If I feel like I am doing something good and I feel good about myself, I am more inclined to treat others/situations better. I am better able to communicate and emotionally connect. Versus the times I don't exercise and I feel frumpy and fat...well, you get the idea. If I don't feel pretty, I don't act pretty.

6) Regular scripture study, FHE, prayer and church attendance affect how the rest of the hour, day, and the week will go. All those years listening to my Sunday School teachers talk about the importance of these things and I shrugged it off...only to discover, years later, they were right. 

7) Taking those lessons one step further and turning words into action changes you, your family, and those you serve. Service, kindness, and love are amazing tools for making strong relationships.  Selflessly serve your kids, serve your family, serve in your community as a family and see how it changes everything. Your heart will be full and your bond with be strengthened.

With all the new changes happening, I know I will learn a lot more about myself and this motherhood gig. Now, my question for YOU: I know a lot of my friends have been/are going through/will go through this stage....what advice do you have for a mom in mid-seasonal-switch? Are there any ways to make the transition feel less overwhelming/exhausting/stressful/intimidating??

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Boutique Swimsuits You Will Love + a discount code

Every once in a while you find a company that puts out such high-quality products that you absolutely must tell everyone you know about it. A while back, I was looking for a  modest, yet stylish swimsuit for my daughter. I found Simply Adorable Me and immediately fell in love with the designs in the shop. They use the most beautiful, fun, vibrant fabrics, and *BONUS* they're all organic. This year when we started shopping again, I knew just where to go!

After browsing Simply Adorable Me for a seriously long time, trying to choose a favorite, we settled on this gorgeous one piece. The tiny anchor pattern is cute, but not too babyish.

 She especially loved the teal and navy blues and how there is just enough ruffle the add an extra kick of girly. What can I say... Girlfriend has style! We loved this swimsuit so much. It fits her perfectly and wore nicely all summer. It still looks brand new! Everywhere she went people asked where she got her swimsuit!

Both styles in this pattern are so darn cute. I love the tie strap on my daughter's suit, and the dip in the back with a bow accent is such a sassy flare on the other! They're to die for! These girls were the stars of the show when we went to the pool. 

If one piece suits are not your style, you might love their rash guards which are perfect for going to the lake. I LOVE the boy shorts with these styles. So fun! 

I was looking on their site again today and I noticed CHRISTMAS JAMMIES!!!

 Yes!! They have Christmas Pajamas appearing in their boutique. I'm thinking I need to get a jump on things and order some and you should, too! THIS WEEK ONLY  Simply Adorable Me is offering my readers a 15% discount. Use Code SUNSHINE at checkout for 15% off your order

**This post may contain affiliate links, which means if you click on the link and/or make a purchase, I may receive compensation at no additional cost to you, You can find my full disclosure statement HERE**

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Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Sweet Pineapple Teriyaki Meatballs

Dinner time is usually our chattiest time. I absolutely love it!  We try to always eat dinner as a family and talk about our day, telling about the things we did, who we talked to during school or work, and whatever else comes up. It usually includes someone remembering their crazy dream or wanting to tell us about the shenanigans on the playground. But... Sometimes I make a dinner that is so good, dinner time is silent. Everyone gets so wrapped up in enjoying their dinner that no one talks. Their mouths are too busy savoring the flavors to be bothered with doing anything else.

That makes me feel like a million bucks!

This Sweet Pineapple Teriyaki Meatball recipe is one that is so magical that dinner conversation pauses. I love the sweetness of the teriyaki combined with the tart citrus pineapple and how they perfectly compliment the richly flavored meatballs. It isn't the prettiest dinner, but it might just be the tastiest.

 You will need:
2 lbs ground beef
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/4 cup grated onion
1/4 cup grated carrots
one box stovetop stuffing
3/4 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup ketchup
1/4 cup Panda Express Mandarin teriyaki sauce

Preheat oven to 350. in a mixing bowl, use your hands to incorporate all ingredients together. Form into 2" balls. and place in 9x13 baking dish.

1 fresh pineapple, chunked

sprinkle pineapple over the top of the meatballs.

1 bottle Panda Express Mandarin Teriyaki Sauce

Pour remaining teriyaki sauce over meatballs and pineapple. Cover with aluminum foil. Bake 45 minutes or until meatballs are brown all the way through.

We serve this over rice, but it would also be great over riced cauliflower or rice noodles.

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Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Award Winning Cookies and Cream Cookies

A while back, I was supposed to make cookies for an event at my kids' school. I planned to make chocolate chip cookies, but when I went to the freezer for the Hershey's Chocolate bar and chocolate chips I had hidden behind the ice, they were nowhere to be found. It seemed someone (*ahem* my husband) must have been jonesing for some chocolate and sniffed out my hiding spot. Now, normally this wouldn't have been a problem. But that day it was because I had procrastinated until the last possible moment and had a small window of time, not nearly enough time to run to the grocery store and back.

I scoured the cabinets looking for anything I could find that would be good in place of chocolate in chocolate chip cookies. I started to panic a little when all I could find was a box of stale raisins and a half-eaten bag of hard peppermint candies. I thought I was sunk.  But then, I remembered one other (undisclosed) hiding spot. My heart lifted and hope returned. To my absolute joy, I found an emergency stash bag of Oreo Cookies, a Cookies & Cream Hershey bar, and BONUS an extra unopened bag of white chocolate chips. SCORE! I whipped up the cookie dough, chopped up the candy bar and cookies and folded them in along with the white chocolate chips. The ending result was something of a miracle. Guys! This cookie is drool-worthy.  My heart will always belong to the chocolate chip cookie, because, let's face it, Chocolate Chip Cookies are THE KING of the cookie. But these beauties... they are about as close to second place as a cookie can be.

Drool-worthy Cookies & Cream cookies. Try not to lick the screen. 
I love the way the already perfect oreo blends with the salty, crispy, gooey cookie, and how the cream sort of melts and ribbons throughout each bite. I wish I had one right now. They were so good. Now that I am sitting here dreaming about them, I think they would be incredibly delicious sandwiching a scoop of homemade vanilla ice cream. Now I am the one drooling.

Yes, I made another batch... and yes, adding the ice cream was even better than I thought it would be. Totally worth the calories.

At the school event that day, these cookies won the highest bid, a lot of praise and people wanting the recipe, AND the Best Cookie Award. If only they knew the backstory surrounding these little wonders. I still laugh thinking about it.  So, for all those who have asked, and for all those who, like me, need this recipe in their lives, I've got you covered. Here it is...

Happiness is a homemade cookie.

For this recipe you will need:
2 sticks of butter (1 cup)
1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup bread flour
3 teaspoons vanilla (or get creative with 2 teaspoons vanilla and 2 teaspoons mint extract)
1/2 bag vanilla baking chips (white chocolate chips)
1 XL Hershey's Cookies & Cream candy bar, broken into chunks
10-14 Double Stuff Oreo Cookies, cut into pieces

Preheat oven to 350. Cream together butter and sugars until aerated. Then, beat in two eggs. Once the dough looks light and fluffy, gradually add the vanilla, baking soda, and flours, mixing on low speed until well incorporated. Using a serrated knife, cut the Oreo cookies into smaller pieces, as well as the candy bar. Fold the cookies, candy, and baking chips into the dough. Drop two-tablespoon size balls onto a parchment lined cookie sheet and bake for 13-14 minutes. Allow the cookies to cool slightly before transferring to a cooling rack

For Halloween, I am going to make these with Halloween Oreo Cookies, add a few drops of green or purple food coloring to the dough and press a few eyeball sprinkles into the cookies before they cool SPOOKY!

Happy Baking!

**This post may contain affiliate links, which means if you click on the link and/or make a purchase, I may receive compensation at no additional cost to you, You can find my full disclosure statement HERE**

Monday, October 22, 2018

The Giver

Do you have a book that you can read over and over and never tire of the storyline? A book that, even though you know the plot, twists and the final outcome, you return to time after time? For me, that book is Lois Lowry's The Giver.

I read this book for the first time in 8th grade English class. My teacher was brilliantly animated as she guided us through the book. Her lessons were bright and engaging as she introduced the idea of sameness in a bland colorless world; she really made my young mind stretch to see the picture painted with the words on the pages as I read. I could feel Jonas's internal struggle between what he had been taught as a child and what he was learning as the receiver with each new experience the Giver gave to him. 

The Giver is a beautifully written dystopian novel, set in a time and place where everything is controlled. The temperature is always perfect. The families are always a man, woman, boy, and girl. Members of the community are given milestones at a ceremony each year, the most important being their job assignment at their 12th ceremony.

Jonas was just like everyone else... or at least he thought he was. When it comes time to receive his job assignment, Jonas is singled out and skipped over, something that NEVER happens. After a long agonizing wait, Jonas is finally told that he is being given a special job title. He will be the Receiver of Memories and it will be his responsibility to hold all the memories for the community. 

I love this book because it really makes you think outside the box. Even as a young teenager, I was completely taken by this book and the challenges Jonas had to face. I especially loved how relatable the characters are. Lois Lowry did a wonderful job developing Jonas into a rule follower. Jonas's best friend, Asher adds a little comic relief, and their friend Fiona is so soft and loving. Her character is the balance between Jonas's need to conform and Asher's silly antics. 

Recently, The Giver was made into a major motion picture. I really liked the movie, although, as is usually the case, the book was definitely better. I highly recommend The Giver to anyone and everyone. I have read this book to my kids. We own no less than six copies and each of my children have read it, as well. 

As an added bonus, The Giver is part of a four-book box set, which includes The Giver, Messenger, Gathering Blue, and Son. I read The Giver, Messenger, and Gathering Blue separately before reading Son and realizing they're all connected. I didn't see the ending coming. I loved that way Lois Lowry brought the four stories together in the end. She is an amazing author.

**This post may contain affiliate links, which means if you click on the link and/or make a purchase, I may receive compensation at no additional cost to you, You can find my full disclosure statement HERE**