Monday, September 7, 2009

Monday Munchies - Butter Pecan Oat Bars with Chocolate Filling

Ok... last one for today!

A couple of weekends ago, my favorite little man, Ashton, spent the night with me. Ashton is the son of one of my very good friends, and I have watched him grow up since we knew he was coming into this world. I love having him over, so when his mom called and asked if I was free (which I very rarely am), I jumped at the chance because I actually had an open night on my calendar!

So I picked him up from school on Friday afternoon and we picked up some pizza (his dinner choice, of course), made a quick stop by the grocery store, and then onto the house... We were going to an outdoor movie in my neighborhood, Coraline in 3D, and I wanted to bake up some goodies for him to take with him. After looking through some blogs, and having an over-abundance of oatmeal, I decided on these bars. I found them on the Columbus Foodie blog, which is another one that always seems to have great recipes!

Butter Pecan Oat Bars with Chocolate Filling
recipe courtesy

6 ounces butter (1 1/2 sticks), softened
3/4 cup dark or light brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 box (18 ounces) butter pecan cake mix (I used vanilla, because it's what I had on hand)

2 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats

1 can (15 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
1 package (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
Pinch salt
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup chopped pecans

Heat oven to 350°. Grease and flour a 9×13x2-inch baking pan.

Beat 6 ounces of butter with the brown sugar until light; beat in eggs and 2 teaspoons vanilla. Slowly beat in the cake mix and rolled oats until well blended.

In a saucepan, combine the sweetened condensed milk with chocolate chips, a pinch of salt, and 1 tablespoon butter. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until chocolate chips are melted and mixture is smooth. Stir in the chopped pecans.

Spread about 2/3 of the cake batter in the prepared pan. Spoon filling over the cake layer and spread to cover. Pinch pieces of the remaining batter and arrange the pieces evenly over the filling.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until nicely browned and firm.

Monday Munchies - Pumpkin Pecan Pancakes

So this weekend I made a cake for one of my best friend's birthday (recipe and pics coming soon!). The cake called for 1.5 cups of pumpkin, which left 1/2 cup in the can. And all of a sudden I started craving pumpkin pancakes. Then I remembered that I had some leftover buttermilk too... which would be awesome in pancakes as well! I jumped on the computer and googled 'pumpkin buttermilk pancakes' and landed on an awesome recipe. I seriously started making these at 8:37am, and by 8:50, I was sitting at my counter enjoying them. Plus I had only used 1/2 the batter, so I had them again on Sunday morning as well... I'm sure I'll have them a few more times in the near future...

I got the recipe from Pinch My Salt, which is a great blog if you like making recipes created by others.

Oh, I forgot to mention, the recipe calls for whole wheat flour as well... so it's SUPER good for you!

Whole Wheat Pumpkin Pancakes
1 C. whole wheat flour
1/2 C. cake flour
1 t. baking soda
2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
1 t. ground cinnamon
1/2 t. ground ginger
1/2 t. ground nutmeg
1 C. buttermilk
1 C. canned pumpkin puree
2 eggs
2 T. oil
1 t. vanilla
2 T. dark brown sugar
(I added pecans as well)

1. In a large bowl, whisk together the first eight ingredients (whole wheat flour through nutmeg). In a separate bowl, whisk together the last six ingredients (buttermilk through brown sugar).
2. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and blend together with a wooden spoon until just combined. Lumps are ok, just make sure all the flour on the bottom of the bowl is mixed in. If batter seems too thick to pour, you can gently stir in a little more buttermilk.
3. Drop pancakes by ladleful onto a medium-hot griddle. Pancakes are ready to turn when the edges start to look a little dry and you can see small bubbles forming on the surface.

Notes: You may substitute all-purpose flour for the cake flour if that’s all you have on hand. You may also use only whole wheat flour, just increase whole wheat to 1 1/2 cups and omit cake flour; pancakes will be just a bit heavier. Light brown sugar or white sugar may be substituted for dark brown sugar. If you have it on hand, 2 teaspoons of pumpkin pie spice can be used in place of the cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg.

Monday Munchies - Honey Wheat Sandwich Rolls

Ok, so there will now be multiple 'Monday Munchies' posts because I have so many recipes in the backlog. I'd never get them all posted if I only post one per week. I don't think I'll hear a lot of complaints though!

So here we go with the first one... I had a group of Young Life leaders over to the house yesterday to hang out, eat way too much, etc. We had a really good time. I set up a Burger Bar and had a variety of toppings and then for dessert I set up a Gourmet Smores Bar... it was a lot of fun!

For the burger bar I had all of the traditional condiments along with queso, chili, sauteed mushrooms, caramelized onions, feta cheese, gorgonzola cheese, avacado, pico, guacamole, pesto, sundried tomato pesto, cilantro, BBQ sauce, colby jack cheese, cheddar cheese, and other stuff that I just can't recall right now... But there were so many options you didn't know where to start. Most of the guys made two burgers and most of the girls cut one burger in 1/2 and made two burger versions... It was a hit, and pretty easy to do overall...

For the Gourmet Smores Bar, I had graham crackers (which ended up being bad, so we used shortbread cookies instead!), regular marshmallows and caramel/vanilla swirl marshmallows, reese's peanut butter cups, almond joy, special dark and regular hershey bars. It was fun - most people hadn't ever stepped out of the box in regards to smores, but now they have!

But the hit of the day were the homemade hamburger buns, aka Honey Wheat Sandwich Rolls. They were SO good! I'm excited to eat the leftovers all week! I got the recipe from Annie's Eats, and she got them from Good Things Catered. I HIGHLY recommend making them. If you have a stand mixer, these are a breeze to put together!

Honey Wheat Sandwich Buns
Printer-Friendly Version
Yield: 9-10 sandwich buns

1 1/4 cups milk, warmed
2 1/4 tsp. instant yeast
2 cups bread flour, plus 1/4-1/2 cup more for adjusting as needed
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 egg, at room temperature
1/4 cup honey plus 1-2 tbsp., divided
2 tbsp. butter, melted
Sesame seeds (optional)

Measure out the milk in a liquid measuring cup. Add in the instant yeast and stir to dissolve. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the bread flour (2 cups), wheat flour and salt. Mix briefly on low speed to combine. Add the yeast-milk mixture, egg, and 1/4 cup of honey to the mixer bowl and mix on low speed just until a dough has formed. Switch to the dough hook. Continue kneading on low speed with the dough hook until the dough is smooth and tacky but not sticky, adding extra flour 1-2 tablespoons at a time as needed until the dough clears the sides of the bowl and has the desired consistency. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl, turn to coat, and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled in bulk, about 1 1/2-2 hours.

Once the dough has risen, transfer the ball to a lightly floured work surface and gently deflate the dough. Divide the dough into 9-10 equal sized pieces (if using a kitchen scale to achieve uniform size, make 3.25-3.5 oz. pieces). Form each piece of dough into a flattened round, 3.5-4 inches in diameter. Transfer the shaped rounds to a parchment- or silpat-lined baking sheet. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rise until nearly doubled, about 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 350° F. Combine the melted butter with 1-2 tablespoons of honey and lightly brush the tops of the rolls. Sprinkle with sesame seeds if desired. Bake for 14-15 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through baking, until golden brown and baked through. Let cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Friday Floatsam - 09.04.09

- I am currently in the midst of reading 6 books. I've never been this bad before. hopefully I can wrap a few of them up soon just to get them out of the way! (p.s. I'm hoping The Shack makes a really good turn at the end, but as for now, there are some good truths in it, and somethings that have made me think, but the storyline is a little too out there for me. I'd recommend many other books over this one - beginning with 'Same Kind of Different As Me').

- Work is really crazy right now - trying to send 2 publications to print at the same time. And I'm behind on both of them. Add a huge heaping dose of frustration to this bulletpoint... I'll leave it at that.

- It's going to be a great year for Young Life. I can feel it. And I'm super excited about it! Here we go...

- Baking frenzy this weekend - Joanne's birthday, Build Your Burger Competition for YL leaders and baking for the troops (Baking GALS)... my kitchen is going to be crazy! I need to make sure all the goodies make their way OUT of my house!

- I've decided to quit Jazzercise. It's so much fun, but I can't make the classes enough to justify the cost. It's $40/month, which is double what I pay for my gym membership. And my gym has Cardio Mix classes at the same time. No reason I just shouldn't utilize that membership... Not to mention, I really only like 2 of the Jazzercise instructors, and 2 others are pretty good... and one of my favorites is moving to Austin. I know this is superficial, but whatever, it's time to take a break for now... I still love the program, but it doesn't work with my budget and schedule.

- Speaking of exercise, this week I went CRAZY on Monday (Elliptical that morning, Jazzercise after work and then walked 3.5 miles with Allison). Then I didn't sleep for crud thanks to an itchy puppy dog. Tuesday I was exhausted and couldn't force anything to happen. Wednesday followed suit. Thursday I was at work until 8:15. Friday I did tons of yardwork. So it wasn't the worst week, but still wasn't great. I have a plan for next week and it involves LOTS of gym time! Wish me luck!

- A couple of the books I'm reading through pertain to weightloss... My next steps are to set my goals and figure out what causes me to overeat, or make the wrong choices so much of the time. Oh, and to be WAY too lazy at times as well... Boredom? Entitlement? Sabotage? Not sure what it is just yet...

- I've officially given up on all Facebook games. They are ridiculous, and a total waste of time. I've been tempted, especially that dang bejewled blitz, but I've not given in since Tuesday night. It's a start!

- And to close, I'm lifting up a lot of friend's families today... it's been a rough week for some, and I hope healing comes to all very soon.

Wishing y'all many reasons to smile...

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Thursdays Rock - Sing, Dance, Smile...

So here's a bit of a change of pace for Thursdays Rock... but not too far, I'm going to talk a bit about another Nashville artist, just in a difference scene. Like many of you, I have stopped listening to Country Radio - it's just pathetically depressing, or maybe that's just the Houston market, but it is what it is. But what Houston DOES have is an incredible Contemporary Christian radio station in KSBJ. I listen to it as much as I can heading to work, and then home again. Unfortunately the signal is not good in Sugar Land, but it lasts for most of my drive... I find that the music uplifts and encourages me regardless of my mood. I can be having a horrible day, a wonderful day, a cryfest or be laughing at everything and that music just always fits. It might just be one line, but I can usually always get something applicable out of that 30/45 minute drive...

One of my absolute favorite artists is the former American Idol contestant, Mandisa. I've seen her twice in concert at Women of Faith conferences, and that girl has got IT. It's rare that you just see the light of Christ burst out of someone, but there is no doubt that Mandisa has it - she absolutely radiates Christ. And when you are at her shows, if you are not praising God right along with her, then you might in fact be dead.

So for those of you that are looking for encouragement, I'd highly recommend checking her out. She just released a new CD, Freedom, but her first CD, True Beauty has a number of gems on it as well. The lyrics to one of my favorites are below. And you can check her out on MySpace as well!

But before that, for those of you that are in a battle with the buldge, I'd highly recommend her book, Idol Eyes. She talks of her journey on American Idol and how she reacted to the things Simon and others would say behind the scenes. But most of all, it's encouraged me as I strive to lose weight I've kept on for way too long AND encouraged my daily walk with the Lord. She really has amazed me in many facets...

And now, for one of my favorites...

Voice Of A Savior

Some people try to listen to the bottom of a bottle
Some people try to listen to a needle in their arm
Some people try to listen to the money in their pocket
Some people try to listen to another's arms

You and I are not that different
We got a void and we're just trying to fill it up
With something that will give just a little peace
All we want is a hand to reach to
Open arms that say I love you
We'd give anything to hear
The voice of a Savior

Some people try to find it with blind ambition
Some people try to find it where no one else has gone
Some people try to find it in the crowns of victory
Some people get defeated and lose the strength to carry on


Some people try to find it in the shadow of a steeple
Some people try to find it in the back row pew
Some people try to find it in the arms of Jesus
That's where I found it, how about you?

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Tuesday Toodles - Flower Power

These are just a couple of cards I've done in the past that featured flowers. One is cute and SIMPLE, but the simplicity lets it shine...

And the other wasn't too hard too, a background stamp, a cut-out water-colored stamp and a ribbon. My favorite thing about it is probably what it says "Time spent with friends is time well spent" - I couldn't agree more!

Hope y'all have a great day!