Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Pre-Christmas Baking

While we haven't begun our Christmas baking yet, Levi and I did take some time out of our afternoon to bake some cookies. We made Oatmeal Craisin White Chocolate Chip Cookies (maybe I should give them a shorter name?). The recipe appears on bags of Craisins, but I found it in a family cookbook ('Truax Family Treasures'...for those in the Truax family.)

This cookie is quick and easy, and it's probably the second favorite cookie in our house (chocolate chip being the first). I've baked them to give to others and they're always a hit.

Oatmeal Craisin White Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes about 4 dozen

2/3 C. butter or margarine, softened
2/3 C. brown sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 C. old fashioned rolled oats
1 1/2 C. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 C. Craisins
2/3 C. white chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar together until creamy, add eggs and mix well. Combine oats, flour, baking soda, and salt in a separate bowl. Add to butter mixture in several additions, mixing well after each addition. Stir in craisins and chocolate chips. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheet. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown. Remove to wire rack to cool.

Though these aren't strictly a holiday cookie, they do look festive with the red craisins and white chocolate chips. And they were a great way to get Levi and me geared up for our holiday baking.

If you like this recipe, you may also like my Oatmeal Raisin or Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

A Recipe for Your Thanksgiving Leftovers

Last year, I got this recipe idea from my friend who was a Pampered Chef rep for years. If you're familiar with their recipes, they have quite a few "braids" and "rings" that utilize refrigerated crescent rolls. This is a great way to use leftovers from Thanksgiving or a fun spin on the traditional Thanksgiving meal at anytime of the year.

This isn't a recipe that you have to follow exactly. You can be creative and add in what you like, as well as adjust the amounts to your liking. Just be sure you include some "wet" ingredients, such as gravy or salad dressing.

Thanksgiving Leftover Ring
2 cans refrigerated crescent rolls
Approx. 6 cups of Thanksgiving leftovers...here's what I used:
     3 cups chopped turkey
     2 cups stuffing
     1 cup whole berry cranberry sauce
     1 cup gravy

Mix all leftover ingredients together. It will be similar to chicken salad. Next you are going to assemble the ring with the crescent rolls. I use my pizza stone, but you could use any pizza pan or cookie sheet. It also helps to place your pan on a bowl so it's slightly elevated off your work surface. Start by laying four triangles at North, South, East, and West, with the points facing out. Then place four more triangles, one between each of the triangles you already laid (place at NE, SE, SW, and NW).

Open the next container and place one triangle between each of the triangles you've already laid down.

Press down the triangles to create a thinner bottom crust for your leftover mixture. If it's too thick, it will be doughy on the bottom.

Next, fill your ring with your leftover mixture, leaving a little of the crust uncovered in the middle. You'll have to pile it up a little.

Then grab two triangle points, criss-cross them over the filling, and press them to the middle crust you left exposed. Continue around until all points have been joined to the middle.

Bake in 350 degree oven for 30 to 40 minutes or until crescent dough is browned. Slice and enjoy!

You can use this idea with any combination of ingredients you can think of: Reubens, Italian Beef Sandwiches, Cheesy Chicken & Broccoli, Taco, etc. The possibilities are endless!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Thanksgiving Recap

Though the rest of the world may have moved on to Christmas, I thought I'd share some pictures from our Thanksgiving this year. We hosted John's family, along with my mom, at our house. Most years his parents host it, but their oven died and their new one wasn't going to be delivered in time. So, for the last week and a half, we were busy getting the house ready for company, planning the meal, and preparing food.

Family gatherings are even more fun now that we all have little ones. We had two almost five-year olds, two two-and-a-half year-olds, and two six month olds there. They had lots of fun playing together and kept us all entertained.

Lillian's First Thanksgiving
She enjoyed pumpkin applesauce in the morning.

The best shot I could manage of the two of them.

Levi & his cousin Ally had a jam session.

Levi took a break from playing to read the new book his Great Great Aunt Pat had brought him that day.

Cousin Tyler was happy to see Lillian now that she's a little bigger.

The kids--busy enjoying their meal--Tyler, Ally, Levi, and Cousin Griffin.
Our Thanksgiving was full of family, fun, delicious food, and time spent remembering all we have to be thankful for. I hope yours was too.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Grayslake Antique Market

While my mom was visiting this weekend, we decided at the last minute to make the drive to the Lake County Fairgrounds to the Grayslake Antique Market on Sunday. I had heard from a few of the vendors I met at Kane County Flea Market in September that it was a great show. Boy, were they right!

One of the nice things about this show is that it's all inside one big building. The other thing that's nice is that you don't have the "flea market" crowd. It's really an antique market with quality dealers and collectors. Since John was out of town, the kids had to come along. Lillian charmed the pants off everyone who saw her...smiling all the time. Levi was a little "hard to handle". It took some work to keep him entertained and his whining to a minimum. Food usually works well for him so I can tell you he was well-fed that day.

There was tons of vintage Christmas decor and kitchenware, which I love. I bought a cute ceramic turkey that I'll add to my fall decorations. It was hard to make a decision on some of the Christmas things because I never remember exactly what I have until I get it all out. Still, I ended up with some reproduction Christmas cards that I'll frame and a holly cloth napkin.

I came upon Jeanine's Chippy-Shabby booth. It was great--a nice mix of vintage and repurposed items. I could gain lots of creative ideas from her displays.

Of course, I couldn't leave without stopping by to see Joe & Sandy of Rhubarb Reign. They have such fun things and are so nice!

I picked up a few "smalls", as Sandy calls them and my mom was kind enough to buy us a great little rocker for our house.

It will look great by the Christmas tree, but I'll have to find a place for it year-round because Levi loved it immediately.

I'm so happy we made the little trip to check out the Grayslake Antique Market. I'm already making plans to go next month with a friend (and without the kids). The show is held the second weekend of every month.

Grayslake Antique Market
1060 E. Peterson Rd.
Grayslake, IL  60030

Monday, November 14, 2011

Introducing Katey Anne Creations

I've been absent from my blog for a while because I've been living between my sewing machine and ironing board. Finally, after lots of hard work and planning, I was ready.

Let me rewind a little to tell you about Katey Anne Creations and how it came to be. In the past few years since I started sewing, my mom and I would often see things in shops and think, "We could do that." My mom is a talented and creative lady and luckily, I've picked up a few things from her over the course of my life.

We talked about someday having a little business where we would sell things we've sewn. So, when I started making baby/new mom related things for myself and friends, my mom encouraged me to make them to sell. I let the idea roll around my head for a while until I go used to it, but I didn't really commit to it until my mom saw an ad for a "Holiday Craft & Vendor Sale" that was going to be held at my local park district. "You should sign up for a table," she encouraged (as only a mom can do). So, I took the leap and signed up for a table and Katey Anne Creations began. We decided on this name because, as a child my mom always wanted to be called Katie (we chose a more 'old-fashioned' spelling) instead of Kathy and Anne is my middle name.

I got busy right away gathering my materials and deciding what I would make, but in my typical fashion, I put off most of the actual sewing until October. And then it was November, and I still had a lot to do. After some late nights, I got most things done and had plenty to sell. My mom made the trip over with the table runners she had sewn and the decorative mittens she had made.

On Saturday we loaded up her van and took our things to the sale. It felt a little like the old days when my parents went to craft and art shows to sell their stuff. We laid out our stuff and prayed for a good day of sales.

In the end, the sales were so-so, but I received lots of compliments on my things and I felt proud of the work I had done. My next step is to list my items on Etsy. I'll be sure to share that info when I get it done. In the meantime, if you're interested in anything, just send me an email (bethanyardente@yahoo.com). I have embellished burp cloths, nursing covers, taggie blankets, travel tissue holders, and hand embroidered towels. My mom also has table runners and mittens left.

I'm excited to try out this little side business. So far I've had a lot of fun sewing and I have lots of ideas for other items I might want to make. Plus, it's a way to bring in some extra income and still be home with my little ones. I'll keep you all posted on how things are going.

(Sorry for the blurry pictures. I didn't realize they were blurry when I took them or I would have taken time to get some good ones.)

Monday, November 7, 2011

Pella Apple Bread

I previously shared a recipe for apple bread, but with all my apples, I also made a loaf of Pella (as in Pella, Iowa) Apple Bread. I had gotten this recipe from my aunt. It's definitely different from my other recipe. This one has a mild apple taste and a great crumb topping, but still is not overly sweet.

Pella Apple Bread

1 C. granulated sugar
1/2 C. margarine or butter, softened
1/3 C. buttermilk or sour milk*
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla
2 C. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1 1/2 C. apples, peeled and finely chopped
1/2 C. chopped nuts

2 Tbsp. brown sugar
2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/3 C. flour
3 T. margarine or butter

*If you don't have buttermilk on hand, you can make your own sour milk. To make the 1/3 C. called for in this recipe, put 1 tsp. lemon juice or vinegar in a liquid measuring cup. Add enough milk to make 1/3 C. Stir and allow it to sit for at least 5 min.

In a large bowl beat sugar and margarine/butter until fluffy. Combine buttermilk/sour milk and soda. Stir into sugar mixture. Add eggs, vanilla, flour, and salt; beat well. Stir in apples and nuts. Spread into a greased and floured 9x5x3 in. loaf pan. Mix topping ingredients and sprinkle on top. Bake at 350 degrees for 55 to 60 minutes.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Fall Decorating Update

Back in September, I shared what I had done so far for my fall decorating and promised to share more as I changed and updated things. I've been meaning to take pictures for a while and it just hasn't happened until now.

I added a few pumpkins to the bottom shelf of the table in my entry.

I added quite a bit to the corner cupboard in my living room. I also took away a lot of the pheasant feathers. After I did it I realized I had gone overboard. Before, I felt like it looked unfinished.

After gathering inspiration from magazines and shops, I realized that I needed to add more--more variety, textures, and more layers. I'm happier with it now.

I also added some leaves to the background of this bookshelf in my living room. On top I put the owl I got here and a cloth pumpkin.

Other than that, things haven't really changed, though I'll be putting away the little bit of Halloween decor I had out and swapping it for more fall/Thanksgiving-related decor.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Trick or Treat!

This was the first year for Levi to trick or treat "for real". We did a practice run with my moms' group at their Trunk or Treat a few weeks ago.

Lillian was a jack-o-lantern (same as Levi when he was a baby).

Levi was a deer hunter.

Yesterday, we dressed them up for the real deal. We made the rounds on our street, but Levi didn't want to go to far. We think he was eager to start eating the candy.

He made sure to share with his sister, too.

Clearly, by the time we got home Lillian was winding down and Levi was amping up. Thanks sugar-love ya!

It's fun to enjoy the firsts again with the second child.

On a sad note, Lill's jack-o-lantern met with a tragic end last night. We found it smashed in the street by our house this morning-pink bow and everything. Levi broke the news to her..."Lill, you pumpkin is died." He suggested we make her a new one, but I think we'll wait till next year.