02/09/2013

Weekend Brunch: Healthy ‘Hot Cocoa’ Waffles

Making waffles on a weekend morning is one of those most simple joys in life.  There is nothing like waking up slowly as the sun rises, making a steaming hot pot of coffee, and then cuddling up with a blanket for a few minutes to read, write, or watch a favorite show.  Then, when your stomach finally starts to rumble, you head to the kitchen to make a leisurelybreakfast of fresh eggs, smokey bacon, fluffy pancakes, or flavorful waffles.

hot cocoa waffles (without title)

Today’s recipe provides a great way to combine those chocolate chip waffles you loved as a child, with a more grown up flavor you can enjoy now too.  Trust me though, these waffles will go over big with your whole family, kids and husbands included!  A leisurely weekend brunch will turn into ‘party time’ as the hot cocoa waffles hit your taste buds and tickle your palate.

hot cocoa waffles

 [gmc_recipe 400]

 

Questions for You:

  • What is your favorite type of waffle?  (I love pumpkin waffles and pecan)!
  • Did you have a favorite breakfast you loved as a kid, but don’t have as much anymore?  (I was all about S’more Pop Tarts!  I haven’t had one in years)!
  • What is your favorite waffle topping?
02/08/2013

Be Mine

Because of my adoration for February 14th, I try to add a few festive touches that help bring that love into the forefront of my house. I gave you a peek into my home last week and as you can probably tell, I am a seasonal decorator and enjoy diving headfirst into holiday decorations and festive garnishes. You can bet that my home in the fall is decked out in pumpkins, gourds, and leaves, so why not sparkly hearts, conversation hearts, and red, pink and white chocolates in February? 

The handmade fireplace garland I have been seeing all over Pinterest and Etsy has caught my eye lately. This ‘Be Mine’ decoration really stuck out, so I decided to run with the theme and attempt to make something similar of my very own.

beminebanner1

When I started this project, I only had an idea in my head from a picture, not an exact plan. I am no craft professional, but I do enjoy working on projects and trying to create one thing by combining multiple components together. It really reminds me of recipe creating and cooking, don’t you think? When I first started cooking, I remember feeling nervous and confused, but as time went on I have felt more and more comfortable. Here’s to hoping this same notion eventually comes into fruition for my craft skills as well!

Like I was saying, I am not the craftiest girl there is, but you best believe I learned a few things during my attempt!

Lesson #1 – Never enter Hobby Lobby without a shopping list…it could get dangerous and feel a tad bit overwhelming!

I walked around for over an hour, slowly moseying up and down each lane until I spied an item that caught my attention. I knew I didn’t want to spend a bunch of money so I always made sure to look around for a similar purchase for less money before placing my find in the cart.

Lesson #2 – Finding a deal is great, but don’t sacrifice quality when it comes to the most important things!

If you asked me what I would have changed if anything, my response would for sure be the type of paper I used. I definitely would have picked a thicker cardboard material, but nothing too heavy because I still needed the mantle to be able to sustain the weight. I went with a lighter material because:

  • It was cheaper.
  • I would also have had to purchase a stronger pair of scissors or an exacto knife so that I could have cut through the material without frayed edges and tough cuts. Moral of the story: More money.
  • With that being said…it was cheaper!!

I think it is a personal decision and just depends on how much money you want to spend. Considering I could buy the banner from Etsy for $15, I knew I wanted to try and stay below this price.  I may have spent more than $15 buying the products, (like whole paint bottles, new brushes, etc.), but I also have most of these products that I can use again on a different project.  Don’t get me wrong, I still love my banner and plan on putting it away carefully at the end of the holiday so I can re-use it again next year, but I think it would have turned out even better if it was made with a thicker material. Make sense?

When I arrived home, I laid out all of my materials on the floor to assess what all I just bought! I didn’t end up using everything I purchased, (The $0.99 lace hearts or the thick burlap ribbon), but the majority of the items were put to good use.

materials

You will need:

  • Jute Yarn – About 1 – 1/2 yards (depending on the size of your mantle)
  • 4.5” x 6.5” cardstock (or thick cardboard/paper cut to this size) – I used the cream color
  • Optional-Printed out word templates
  • Optional-Red felt-tip thin Sharpie
  • 1 piece decorative paper, cut to 4.5” x 6.5”
  • Scissors
  • 1 tiny paint brush
  • 1 medium paint brush
  • Red acrylic paint
  • Pink acrylic paint
  • Water/Paint Cups (I just used disposable Solo cups)
  • Hole Punch/Ribbon Punch (Make sure your ribbon punch holes are thick enough for the jute to go through)

The first thing I did was hand-write all of the letters with a fine-tip red sharpie marker. If you don’t feel comfortable free-handing the letters, I would suggest printing a letter template from the computer, cutting it out, and tracing around the outside.

letters

When I finished this, I put about a ¼ cup of red paint in one cup, and in a second cup added about 1 cup of water. I gently dipped my thicker brush in water, pushed against the edge of the cup to remove too much excess water, placed the brush in the paint cup, and then slowly began to make thin strokes on the inside of the outlined letter. Around the edges, I used the skinnier brush.

BE

I did this until all of the letters were finished. I then let the letters dry for about an hour and I added pink paint to a second cup and replaced the old water with a fresh cup. I also washed both of the brushes.

I took the skinny brush and dipped in water, removed the excess water, and then added to the pink paint cup. I then shadowed the edges of each letter, and then set the letters aside to let dry.

all letters

When the letters were dry, I hole-punched each top corner of the letter and strung the jute through the holes, tying a tiny knot behind the hole to keep it from sliding.

B

Knots

I did the same through all of the letters and tied a bow on each end to finish off the banner.

lettersonmantle

Lesson #3: The finished product may not look exactly like the store-bought version, but I promise it will be made with more love and heart!

Next, I hung up the finished project on my mantle and I am happy to say that I really like the result! It may not look just like the Etsy banner, but it was fun to make and maybe even saved me few dollars.  Besides, holiday decorations should be meaningful and I mean what could possibly be more heartfelt than a homemade ‘Be Mine’ banner for Valentine’s Day? 😉

mantle with banner

Questions:

  • Do you consider yourself crafty? What are your favorite items to make?
  • Have you ever purchased anything from Etsy? (I have bought a lot! Embroidered towels and cosmetic bags for my bridesmaids, a personalized cutting board as a wedding gift, embroidered handkerchiefs with personal messages as gifts for my parents on my wedding day).
  • What is a hobby you have always wanted to begin, but have never tried? (Sewing is on my to-do list)!
  • Are you a ‘seasonal’ decorator?
02/06/2013

WIAW: Super Bowl Sunday Edition

When I am thinking about holidays and good food, the obvious choices like Thanksgiving and Christmas immediately come to mind. A honey-glazed ham, roasted turkey with rich cloves, homemade green bean casserole, roasted sweet potatoes, butternut squash, and Brussels sprouts, and rich decadent desserts like pumpkin pie with fresh whipped cream, or a made-from-scratch pecan pie hot from the oven and topped with a scoop of slow-churned vanilla bean ice cream is enough to make my mouth water just thinking about it.

You know what other holiday we are missing though? It may not be obvious to many, but to those sports-minded individuals, Super Bowl Sunday is a complete celebration in itself. In fact, I actually read in an article that there is a petition to make the Monday after the Super Bowl a National Holiday, which would allow those who went to bed after midnight, (like this girl!), to be able to sleep-in the next morning and enjoy a day of rest. Dare to dream, dare to dream…

In all honesty though, the Super Bowl has always been a pretty big deal in my house. We don’t do anything too extravagant, but we sure do cook a feast.  I think we made enough food this year for at least 10 people, instead of our usual party of five.

Because of all the yummy goodies I knew I would be feasting on, I thought it would be fun to share a rendition of ‘What I ate Wednesday: Super Bowl Sunday Edition.’ Thanks Jenn for hosting!

WIAWbutton

I don’t have pictures of everything I ate, mostly due to immersing myself in the party, the game, and spending time with the family.  However, I have a few highlights to share including a couple of delicious recipes to come in future posts, and links to other items I enjoyed in case you want to fill your table with some of these treats next year at your own Super Bowl Party.  Before we get to the highlights though, let’s start with breakfast!

I woke up at 6:30 am Sunday and slowly crept down the stairs, while trying not to wake Tim. Who knows why I was up so early, but I find that I have a hard time sleeping past 7:00 am no matter the day anymore, and that time seems to just keep getting earlier and earlier. I let Tebow out and gave him some food and water before I started my pot of coffee, and then proceeded to cuddle up with a hot mug ‘o Joe and some email/blog/article reading. About 7:30 am, I decided to start making some breakfast. I wanted something simple since I knew I would be cooking a bunch throughout the day, but I also wanted to try a recipe that was a little experimental for me and one that I had not had before. I felt torn between eggs, oatmeal, waffles, etc. but finally decided to try Katie’s Giant One Minute Breakfast Cookie.

giant breakfast cookie

I left all of the ingredients the same except I substituted almond flour for the oat flour and added some crushed up walnuts along with the mini chocolate chip pieces. I think next time I will use a larger plate, because my breakfast cookie turned into a breakfast cookie cake! This breakfast was huge, but oh so yummy and tasted just like a fresh-baked cookie…right out of my microwave…with no added butter or oils…for breakfast… Talk about irony!

When I was finished eating breakfast and cleaning the kitchen, I headed upstairs to get ready for church. The sermon was great and I absolutely love when it feels as if the pastor is preaching directly to you, and for you.  When the message hits home, it reminds me exactly why I am sitting in church to begin with, to hear God’s word and praise him.  After church we headed to Kroger and picked up a few things like peanut butter (shocking!), and a baking dish I needed for the night’s dessert. By the time we got home, I was ready for some lunch and I heated up a bowl of homemade Enchilada Tortilla Soup, (recipe to come!), that I had made during the week. This is a favorite recipe of ours that I love to make during a weeknight because it’s so easy to prepare, cooks quickly, and is also healthy and filled with a ton of lean protein, veggies, and beans.

chicken tortilla soup

When lunch was finished, I immediately started cooking, chopping, mincing, stirring, mixing, pouring, and baking.  As the day went on though, I was feeling pretty tired and was nervous that I was getting sick, so I did the only thing I could think of, I took a nap. I laid down to rest my eyes and woke up two hours later!  I obviously needed the rest.  When I woke up, I was still feeling a little groggy so I drank some Amazing Grass to try and ward off any illness.  After I took my shower and finished getting ready, I was starting to feel a little better so we packed up and headed to my parents house.

By the time we got there, it was about 5:30 pm, so we settled in and I helped my mom finish the cooking. Around 6:30 pm when the game started, I filled up my plate with a little bit of all the yummy goodness:

super bowl dinner

I love having a lot of dishes to choose from, because then I can try a bite or two of everything as opposed to more of just one thing.  Here are the foods I sampled throughout the night:

For dessert, we had a lightened up version of Granny’s Chocolate Cobbler with homemade vanilla ice cream.  I followed the cobbler recipe except replaced the white flour with whole wheat flour, and cut the sugar and butter in half.  Some people may like their dessert a little sweeter than this, but I really liked the fact I wasn’t on a sugar high, and then sugar crash, the rest of the night.

By the time the game was over, I was ready for more sleep.  We headed home from my parents and by the time we finally pulled in the garage and I tidied up the kitchen a bit and folded some laundry, it was after midnight and I happily made my way to our bedroom and passed out in my warm and comfy bed.

 

Questions:

  • What did you do for the Super Bowl?
  • What was the best thing you ate last week?  Anything delicious at a Super Bowl party?
  • Do you have any fun plans for the upcoming weekend?