Saturday, April 11, 2009

Just Sharing

I made the following recipes with great success last weekend.

Modeling Clay
Mix 3 Cups Flour, 1.5 Cups Salt, 3 Cups Water, 1 TBL Oil, and 1 TBL cream of tartar in a large saucepan. Add food coloring. Cook on Medium Heat until dough comes away from the edges of the pan and mixture thickens. Let cool and knead to blend color. Store in airtight container.

We made pink - and this made A TON! Enough for 4 little girls to play with at the same time and then some.

French Breakfast Puffs
3 cups flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup sugar
2/3 cup shortening (Crisco)
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 teaspoons cinnamon
2 sticks butter
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease 12 muffin cups. Stir together flour, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg. Set aside. In a different bowl, cream together 1 cup sugar and shortening, then add eggs and mix. Add flour mixture and milk alternately to creamed mixture, beating well after each addition. Fill prepared muffin cups 2/3 full. Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes or until golden. In a bowl, melt 2 sticks butter. In a separate bowl combine remaining sugar and cinnamon. Dip baked muffins in butter, coating thoroughly, then coat with cinnamon-sugar mixture. Eat. Faint.

Bacon Wrapped Maple Pork Loin
For brining pork
8 cups water
1/3 cup kosher salt
2 tablespoons maple syrup (Grade B or amber)
1/2 teaspoon crushed black peppercorns
2 sprigs fresh sage
1 large garlic clove, smashed
1 Turkish or 1/2 California bay leaf
1 (4- to 4 1/2-lb) boneless pork loin roast, trimmed

For roasting pork
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage
3 tablespoons maple syrup (Grade B or amber)
16 bacon slices (about 1 lb)
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon water

Brine pork:
Combine all brining ingredients except pork loin in a 3- to 4-quart saucepan and heat over high heat, stirring, until salt is dissolved. Pour brine into a deep 4- to 5-quart pot; cool to room temperature, uncovered, about 2 hours.

Add pork to brine, making sure it is completely covered by brine, and marinate, covered and chilled, 8 to 24 hours.

Roast pork:
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F.

Pat pork dry (discard brine) and remove any strings, then transfer to a roasting pan. Stir together garlic, sage, and 1 tablespoon syrup in a small bowl and rub all over pork. Lay bacon slices crosswise over loin, overlapping slightly, and tuck ends of bacon underneath loin.

Roast pork until thermometer registers 140°F, about 1 1/4 hours. Stir together 1 tablespoon syrup and vinegar until combined. Brush vinegar mixture over bacon slices and continue to roast pork until thermometer registers 150°F, about 10 minutes more. Remove from oven and let stand in pan 15 minutes. Transfer roast to a cutting board with a lip, reserving juices in pan, and let roast stand, uncovered, while making sauce.

Skim fat from pan juices and discard, then transfer jus to a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Stir together cornstarch and water and whisk into jus. Simmer, stirring, until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Remove from heat and stir in remaining tablespoon syrup. Serve pork with sauce.

NOTE: My pork read 160 after 75 minutes - so check this after 45 minutes! It was still good!!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Adventure Walking

Sunday was such a lovely day, the girls and I spontaneously grabbed some little baskets, my camera and headed to the trail for an adventure.

Here are some pictures!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Easter Bonnets

Yes, the picture needs cropping, but aren't they too cute!

I *LOVE* Molly's smile in this one.

Happy Easter Everyone!

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Play Date One Up Manship

We have some friends that have a daughter who is about 6 months older than Aubrey. Two weeks ago we started a Sunday afternoon "thing", first Sunday the little girl was here, the next week Aubrey was there. It was GREAT! It was great for Molly, it was great for me, for Hubby, for the other parents, their younger daughter, and it was great for the 2 Four year olds.

On that first week when the little girl was here, we planted some flowers, played outside, did some small crafts, made chocolate covered pretzels and played outside some more.

Last week Aubrey came home with cupcakes she had made and decorated and hard boiled eggs they had covered in glue and then glitter.

So now I am like, how do I keep this up each week? I can't be the play date house that doesn't "enrich" these 4 year old. And at the same time I am like, hmmm, how much would they enjoy a High School Musical 3 showing with popcorn?

So I will assume that the time the girls play together is enrichment enough and not compete in something I am not even positive is a competition.

Kind of.


Friday, April 3, 2009

New Freevorite Things

With all of the talk about the economy, I don't know about you, but we sure feel like we should be spending smarter and saving more. There are small changes I have made over the course of this year. And some cool stuff I have found.
  • I completely gave up my addiction to buying coffee out. Now we buy the Dunkin Donuts big bag at Sam's Club and it is a nice morning routine to get up and make a pot. I don't miss it at all! And 6 cups of coffee brewed each morning costs us 84 CENTS. Not each, that is total, each cup costs 14 cents.
  • We have also, this year gone paper towel and paper napkin free in our house. This was a MAJOR change and we see a difference in the amount of trash we generate, the amount of bulk purchases at Sam's, and we feel good about it!
  • Potty training Molly was also a nice boost to the budget :)
  • I also love music, and love having new music and creating mixes of the music I love. Have you checked out LastFM? This is a free site that you can tag your favorite music and it will create a radio station for you. I am enjoying this A LOT! I use it at work, in the kitchen, etc.
  • We also love movies, we have Netflix, but I have seen that Redbox has a free movie rental code every day. So you can go, use the code, and get a free movie - and you can use the code multiple times a day - you just have to use a different credit card for each rental that day.
  • Books. I love books. But since last fall I have limited what I buy - instead I borrow or steal my dad's. Or I go to the library. I have never really used the library but it is great. I can get books on hobbies I want to start, like baking bread, cake love, sewing, and then return them as needed or use birthday gift cards to get the ones I really think I will use.
  • The library is also great for music. I like listening to different music in the car with the girls and we have been listening to a lot of show tunes that I picked up at the library - lots of Andrew Lloyd Weber. And did you know if they don't have something, they will get it from a different library for you?
  • Doug has been using the library too for TV show DVDs, like Entourage, or some Western show, or some Iraq war show. Don't be like him, return them on time so you don't get charged.
  • We have used Vonage for our phone service for a couple of years, but they raised their prices so we did some shopping and found magicjack - and after a couple rough weeks and tweaking the settings it ROCKS - and is like 20/YEAR.
  • Amazon also has lots of free music downloads, I got a couple of albums, including Dan Zanes kids album - FREE - and they have different free downloads all the time!
  • I have also found some interesting blogs about saving and being frugal:
  • Go Frugal Blog
  • Budgeting 101
  • MotherLoad they have a free friday post about free things to do or get in stores or online.
What are you doing differently, in this economy, that is turning out to be fun?

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Sunday Cookin'

The bread and burned granola.

The Bread! It is GOOD!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009