Productivity Essentials

You know, I get asked a lot of questions:

“How do you come up with new ideas?”
“Do you have any secrets on how to stay productive?”
“Why did you lock us in this basement and when are you going to let us go?”

Of course, not all of the questions are relevant to this post… in fact let’s just go ahead and ignore that last one. I know by my recent absence of updates it may appear as though my productivity has fallen within the last year or so, but it is actually the opposite. I’ve been spending the majority of my time working on my photography and photo editing skills, I worked on some new and quite large art pieces over the summer and everyone has to eat, right? I’m always trying new recipes from bite-size apps for get-togethers with friends to delicious comfort foods for a relaxing night at home.

Productivity as of late, has been in full swing. I am looking into expanding my art, with the hopes to make it not just for my walls but for other people to enjoy in their own homes as well. Sometimes it’s hard to stay motivated and focused, especially if you are working out of your own home. Luckily for you I’m going to share my top five requirements for completing a project. Everyone is different, but maybe if you’re feeling as though you’re in a bit of a slump some of these tips will work for you as well!

Essentials for Productivity

1. The Drive


No, I don’t mean you need to hop in your car and go for a ride. I mean the original, raw NEED to create something. I’ve started several projects that I just didn’t have that deep, unrelenting passion for. Guess what? Those projects are stored  in my ‘unfinished and forgotten’ bin and they could be there forever or until I revisit those projects and feel a certain spark that I didn’t earlier. ‘The Drive’ doesn’t have to be complex (though it certainly can be), you don’t need to strive to save the world one brownie at a time. A lot of times my drive (when it comes to food in particular) is just to make something great, that people will enjoy every last bite of. When I make art, my drive isn’t to change the way people think or make a bold opinionated piece to get people talking (but if that is your drive than more power to you!). My drive is usually to make this piece better than the last, to be proud of my idea and myself and maybe to get a compliment or two when people see it.
My point: If you don’t have the passion to produce, you’re making it harder on yourself.

 

2. Making Mistakes and Failing


Okay… so how can making mistakes and failing at something boost productivity? Failing at stuff sucks. It’s annoying, it’s frustrating and most of all it can really shoot you down and make you feel low. Here’s the thing though, if you’re perfect at everything right off the bat, how are you ever supposed to learn and grow? Dealing with failure is a part of every-day life and if you’re thinking, “Not MY life!” than good on you, you’re perfect, congratulations. For the rest of us mortals however, it’s a common occurrence and it’s how you deal with your mistakes that can make or break you. Sometimes things just don’t work out the way you thought they would, sometimes you burn your food because you were working on too many dishes at a time, sometimes all of your pictures come out blurry even though they looked in focus when you were taking them. If you lack the initial drive I was speaking of earlier the easy thing to do might be to get down on yourself and say, “Welp, I suck. I guess I give up on art, cooking or photography forever!”.  You need that drive to push you through the failures, to make yourself work harder or figure out the problem. To grow from your mistakes and learn the lesson of, “Maybe I need to try new materials” or, “Maybe I need to manage my cooking times better”, or “Maybe I need to actually learn how to use my camera and not rely on auto-focus”. Without the drive, failure is a deal-breaker but with the drive, failure is just an obstacle that pushes you to work harder.
My point: Pick yourself up, dust yourself off and try again.

 

3. Organization and Preparedness


This seems like a no-brainer but that doesn’t mean it’s not important. When I am working on a project (specifically one I plan to blog about), the first thing I tend to do is take a picture of all of the materials I will be using. I do this for two reasons; to have a picture of my materials to put on the blog, but more importantly I do it because it prepares me for my project. I have everything I need right in front of me and I can just jump right into it. Think of all of the time you’re saving by getting everything together ahead of time! It prevents future trips to and from your craft corner/pantry/supply closet which then prevents from distractions like, “Oh there’s that book I made out of our wedding cards! Let me just sit down for an hour and cry happily while I read it and relive memories… oh here’s the card from so-and-so, OMG their birthday is coming up, I need to make them a card. Now, while looking through card making supplies I’ve found that ribbon I wanted to make a headband out of, let me go put that in my room… Why am I here and what was I doing?” …
There’s a good chance this has happened.
My point: Get your supplies together ahead of time.

 

4. Blinders and Breaks


Speaking of distractions… have I mentioned the internet? It’s easier to go “off the grid” if I’m cooking, baking, painting, building or outside taking pictures. The phone and computer are separated from my workspace, I’m hands-on and focused on my work. It’s when I’m editing photos or sitting down and blogging that I need to put up some blinders and really hold myself back from the myriads of distractions that lay beyond a click of a button.  It’s taking a lot of self control for me to not go on Facebook right now and scroll through my newsfeed. Why? I can guarantee nothing has changed since I scrolled through it before starting to write this post. Which brings me to the second part, breaks. You need to allow yourself breaks from your work and more importantly it’s essential to use them! Sometimes you need to just shut your brain off your work, especially if you feel stuck at a problem or overwhelmed. Shut it down and take some time. Go for a walk, have a coffee, read a chapter of a book, dance it out, check your social media, whatever. Do something that that either shuts your brain off completely or gets it focused on something else that has absolutely nothing to do with work. It’s in those moments that the greatest of epiphanies can strike us which in turn motivates us to get back to work.
My point: Allot specific times to allow yourself to be distracted and use them to their full potential.

 

5. Treat Yo’ Self!


Set goals and reward yourself for completing them! Sometimes satisfaction isn’t immediate and I think it’s okay for you to treat yourself for completing something you set out to do. I’m not saying to go buy yourself a car because you cooked a meal, you don’t have to purchase diamonds because you then blogged about the meal and then throw a party because three people liked it. Instead, reward yourself with two servings of potato chips for finally updating your blog (wink), read two chapters in that book instead of one during your break or spend three hours reading a thread on Reddit or watching Netflix and don’t feel guilty about it because you spent the last three days editing a stupid photo. Sometimes there are projects that just take up a lot of time, possibly eat away at your soul a bit. Maybe rewarding yourself for a particularly trying project is that extra incentive you need to push yourself to finish it and there’s nothing wrong with that.
My point: This one is self-explanatory, isn’t it? Treat yo’self!

Everyone is different and everyone’s work is different but these are ways that I find help me to stay focused and engaged in my work. I hope they are able to help you too! Now I need to work on the next step in my new endeavor, making money! There’s a lot of research that needs to be done when it comes down to selling your work, but wow, does today’s technology make it easy! It’s as simple as signing up for an account on Etsy, getting a small business loan from Kabbage (because one thing I have learned so far is that unfortunately, you need to spend money to make money) and boom, business made without leaving the couch! Boy, I just made it sound really easy didn’t I?  Realistically, it’s the set-up and production that seems to be the hardest and most time consuming parts of the process.

Just remember (I’m saying this to you, but also to myself) to let your passion drive you, overcome failure, keep yourself organized, put up blinders to stay engaged in your work, allow yourself breaks and treat yourself!

My point:

lizzeh

 

 

 

 

 

I find it important to note that for the record, I do not have people locked in a basement.

100th post, Salute to Snacks

Well, it’s been 2 years and 11 months (exactly) but we’ve finally arrived, you guys.

It’s my 100th post.

I celebrated sandwiches for my 50th post and I plan to continue the tradition by saluting my next favorite thing for this milestone, snacks!

If you’re telling me that a snack is quick and easy I expect three things:

  1.  The snack can be made with five ingredients or less.
  2.  Assembly of said snack can be completed without any advanced cooking tools or methods (so… it’s easy).
  3.  I can be sitting down and enjoying the snack within ten minutes of initial conception.

If the snack isn’t all three of those things, it’s not quick and easy.  The good news is that I’ve got three quick and easy snacks to share. More good news is that additionally, I’ve got two easy (but not quick) snacks to share. The last bit of good news is that I’ve got a final snack recipe that isn’t quick or easy at all, but it is very yummy… and I was wrong about that previous information being the last bit of good news, because the actual last bit of good news is: there is no bad news. Onto the snacks!

Quick and Easy Snacks

ants on a logAnts on a Log
A classic go-to. Three ingredients: celery, peanut butter, raisins (check).  Rinse and dry celery, smear on peanut butter, drop on raisins, cut and serve (boom, check #2). If you’re fast you’re enjoying this delightful no-so-bad-for-you snack in five minutes flat (triple check).

Confirmed: Ants on a Log = The Definition of Quick and Easy.

 

apple granola bitesApple Granola Bites.
A play on Ants on a Log; an apple, peanut butter (or greek yogurt is a delicious substitute!) and granola are all you need ( √ …(not an actual check mark, but will have to do)). Wash, core and slice apple, spread on peanut butter, sprinkle on granola and serve( √√ ). Another snack you can sit down and enjoy within minutes ( √√√ ). Quick and Easy.

 

bite size tuna bitesTuna Bites
Ingredients include cucumber, carrot (optional), tuna and mayonnaise (or dijon mustard or some plain yogurt, or whatever you want to make your tuna salad out of, and also, √). Wash cucumber and carrot, slice cucumber in half lengthwise, scoop out seeds with a spoon, eat (or discard, you wasteful jerk), use a peeler to peel one or two long slices of carrot, divide into smaller pieces.  Open and drain tuna, mix with your mix, I usually use a bit of mayo and a small bit of dijon. Scoop the tuna mix onto the little cucumber boats you made, divide into bite size pieces, top with carrot, serve (√√). It took me ten minutes the first time I did it. (√√√). Quick and Easy.

 

Easy (but not quick) Snacks

deviled eggsOh, Deviled Eggs, how I love thee, let me count the ways… you need egg(s), mayonnaise, dijon, salt, pepper and olives (optional). Let me tell you something about the olive, it’s changed my deviled eggs forever. It’s the poor man’s caviar. The saltiness of the green olive is the perfect topping to the cholesterol ball you’re about to consume. Hard-boil the egg(s), this is what drops this snack out of the quick part of the quick and easy snack. I let the eggs boil for about 90 seconds before removing it from the heat and letting it sit for 12-15 minutes, transfer the eggs to an ice bath to cool them before peeling. Cut the peeled egg in half, remove the yolk and combine with mayonnaise and mustard (everyone is different, I use equal parts of both), add pepper if you like. Slice some green olives, I use one per egg slice. Fill the egg whites with the yolk mixture, top with olive and sprinkled salt and eat all of them in one sitting enjoy!

 

fruit and yougrt popFruit and Yogurt Pops
You need fresh fruit and yogurt (I used vanilla flavored greek yogurt). You also need a mold to make your pops in, and material to use as a popsicle stick. You can make whatever you want! I used fresh peaches, raspberries, blueberries and strawberries. In some pops I mixed several fruits, others I made with only one type of fruit. These things will last a few months and are a fantastic, healthy go-to snack. I’m actually going to have one right now.

That was good.

 

Not Quick or Easy Snack

Behold, the soft pretzel. I am a huge sucker for these. I’ve always loved them, always will. This was my first time trying to make pretzels, I think they came out pretty good. The recipe I used was found by Googling “bread machine soft pretzel dough”, because I am lazy and the recipe book that came with my bread machine didn’t have soft pretzels (sadface).

 

Soft Pretzel Dough

1⅛   cup warm water (70-80 degrees)
3¼ cup flour
3 tbsp brown sugar
1½ tsp yeast

Load the dough ingredients into your bread machine based on the bread machine’s instructions.

Additionally, in a saucepan you’ll need:
8 cups water
½ cup baking soda

Finally, and optionally, you can add to taste and coat the baked pretzels in:
melted butter
salt


When the bread machine is done doing all of the hard work for you, knead the dough on a floured surface. Also, now is the time to bring the 8 cups of water and baking soda to a boil AND preheat the oven to 425°.


I rolled the dough into a ball, rolled over that with a rolling pin and divided the dough into 6 roughly-equal pieces.


I then rolled the dough in between my hands to make long, round strips.


If you want pretzel bites (like I made, along with a few miniature pretzels), snip the strips into bite-size pieces. If you want to make large, soft pretzels twist the dough and dab some water to ‘glue’ the pieces in place.


In small batches, boil the bites for 10 seconds before transferring to a colander or paper towel, let them dry for a moment before transferring to a greased baking sheet.


The pretzels held their form, no problems.


Bake for 8-10 minutes or until dark brown. I only cooked them to golden brown because I knew I would be reheating them the next day to serve at a party and wanted to
really brown them then. I know they look burnt, but that’s the color you ultimately want to strive for. That dark outer layer is the crispy part of the pretzel while the inside remains nice and soft. Toss or brush them in melted butter and salt. Eat them as they are or make a dipping sauce! Some people like cheesy dips, others like mustard.


Me? I’m happy with just a little extra salt sprinkled ontop.

If you’re going to reheat them (to serve at a gathering, for example), set the rack to the top position and broil them on high for a few minutes, keep an eye on them and turn them over once, take them out once you get that nice, crispy dark brown pretzel shell!

For those of you who have been with me since the beginning, thanks for sticking around for 100 whole posts! For those of you who have found me along the way, thanks for sticking around, haha. For those of you who are reading something of mine for the first time… what can I say? Feel free to stick around! I can only hope for everyone that the next 100 are more interesting, inspiring and insightful than the last!

lizzeh

 

 

I Got 99 Problems, and This Post is One.

I actually only have one problem.

It literally is this post. I thought I was at 100 posts, but if I had posted the post I created for the 100th post, when really, it was the 99th post, I would’ve looked like a complete idiot.

If you’re having post problems, I feel bad for ya, son.

I got zero problems now cause this post is done.

(drops mic)
lizzeh

Blueberry Lemon Bites

It’s July already?

Eeek! Where has the time gone? Just because I haven’t been blog-active doesn’t mean I haven’t been busy! We finally went on our honeymoon, it was an amazing adventure to Costa Rica. Feel free to drop by my photoblog to check out some of my favorite photographs from the trip. The summer has been busy already, but it’s not stopping me from working on new art projects and experimenting with new recipes. The one I have to share with you today is a real treat. A bit time consuming and elbow-grease is required if you don’t have a mixer, but these babies are worth it!

It’s no surprise where I got the cake recipe, that Martha certainly knows her baked goods. Her recipe is for a bundt cake. I don’t have a bundt pan and was in the mood to try something different, so I took Martha’s  cake recipe, a generic cream cheese icing recipe and my mini muffin tins and went wild.

 

Blueberry Lemon Bites

yields: at least 48 mini cakes*

4 eggs
2½ cups flour
2 cups blueberries, washed
1 cup sour cream
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 cup sugar
2 tbsp. lemon zest
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. flour (additional)
½ tsp. salt

Preheat your oven to 350º.

Whisk flour (omit the additional tsp.) baking powder and salt together.

Cream the butter and sugars together.

Add one egg at a time, mixing well before adding the next. Add vanilla.

You will add the flour and sour cream in alternating increments, mixing well in-between. Add a third (roughly, this doesn’t have to be exact) of the flour, mix well.

Followed by half of the sour cream, continue to combine the remainder of each. You’re supposed to break it up like this just so it’s easier to mix.

Carefully toss your blueberries and lemon zest with that last teaspoon of flour before folding them into the batter.

Pour mixture into greased mini muffin tins, fill ¾ of the way.
I filled my up too much and had to cut off the muffin tops, this, unfortunately resulted in a lot of wasted cake.

Bake them for 15-20 minutes, or until golden and a toothpick comes out clean. Let them cool in the pan for about 10 minutes before placing them upside down on a rack.

While they completely cool, you can move onto the…

Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

yields: the perfect amount for this many cupcakes.

3-4 cups confectioner’s sugar*, sifted through
1 cup cream cheese, room temperature
½ cup butter
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla

Mix everything together, don’t forget to add the vanilla like I almost did!

When the cakes are cooled, slice off the bottom to level it out (if you have to, hopefully you won’t eat waste as much as I did).

Pipe on your frosting! It’s rare that I have the proper tools required when it comes to baking, but I actually have piping materials. If you don’t , hakuna matata friends, just use a freezer bag and cut a small hole in one of the corners.

Pop a blueb on the top of each and boom, done-zo. These treats went pretty fast, the bite-size option was a huge plus. Make sure you store extras in the fridge! They should keep for up to a week.

Enjoy!
lizzeh

 

 

Dinner and Dessert

It’s a two-fer!

In a desperate attempt to make-up for my absence, here’s a dinner and dessert two-fer!

So, here we have an asparagus and goat cheese stuffed pork tenderloin. Behold, dinner:

Followed by dessert, a chocolate torte topped with a fresh raspberry, yum.

No need to bore you with the stories behind these dishes, let’s skip the foreplay and jump right into the good stuff, shall we?

Asparagus and Goat Cheese Stuffed Pork Tenderloin

1 tenderloin
1 bundle of asparagus*
½ cup goat cheese
½ teaspoon Mediterranean sea salt**

For the rub:
2 cloves of garlic
½ teaspoon Mediterranean sea salt**
¼ teaspoon of the following:
onion powder
chili powder
cayenne pepper

* Depending on their thickness you could fit 4-12 stalks inside the pork, might as well just make them all and serve the extra on the side.
** I know, I know. I’m not one to typically use fancy salts and spices, but this one is awesome. I got it for Christmas and have used it A LOT. It’s basically salt mixed with Italian Seasoning, so do ¼ of each of those as a substitution.

Blanch the asparagus (drop it in boiling water for a few minutes and then shock it to stop the cooking by placing it in an ice bath).  While you’re waiting for the water to boil, and for the few minutes (2-4) that the asparagus is cooking, you can mince or press the garlic and mix everything else together to make the rub, and set it aside.

Butterfly your tenderloin (omg you guys, did you notice I’m using proper cooking terms??) I pounded it out a bit to even out the thickness (obviously after this picture was taken), sprinkle the salt over the meat.

Arrange the asparagus (blanched and pat dry) and goat cheese in the middle of the tenderloin.

Wrap it and rub it!

Heat up some oil in a pan, you’re going to brown this baby before roasting it in a 375° oven (preheat it now!).


Sear the tenderloin on all sides before putting it in the oven for 20-30 minutes or until it’s 160° inside. I did it on a roasting pan with a rack, rather than having it lie flat in a baking dish, although that is a suitable option if you don’t have a rack.


Awwwww, yiss. Serve it along side some potatoes, extra asparagus or another vegetable for a delicious, savory meal.

Alrighty, onto dessert! I found this recipe through Pintrest (shocker), and it was too good not to share. It’s from Baker Bettie over at bakerbettie.com, here is the original recipe and following was my step-by-step attempt.


Mini Chocolate Tortes

4 eggs
2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips
6 tbsp unsalted butter
3 tbsp cornstarch
¼ tsp salt
fresh raspberries

For the Chocolate Ganache:
¾ cups bittersweet chocolate chips
¼ cup milk
pinch of salt
Let’s start with the cakes themselves, preheat oven to 325° and grease a mini muffin pan.
Double boil the semi-sweet chocolate and butter, stirring frequently. Once everything is melted and it’s smooth, set it aside.

Crack and beat the eggs until pale yellow and frothy about 3-4 minutes. Set these aside.

Add salt and cornstarch into the melted chocolate and mix until well combined. Although not mentioned in the original recipe, I mixed the salt and cornstarch together and sifted them once before sifting them again into the chocolate. My cornstarch had some small clumps and I didn’t want to have those sitting in the tortes.
Pour ⅓ of the egg mixture into the chocolate and stir gently until combined. It’s important to do it a little bit at a time, above is what it looked like when I did the first third and only stirred for a bit. I was about to freak out but after a bit more stirring, it smoothed out.Continue until all of the egg is combined and chocolate mixture is smooth. Fill the muffin tins half full with the chocolate mixture and bake for 7-10 minutes. Set aside and let cool.

In the meantime, prepare your raspberries. I like to let them air dry on a paper towel after rinsing. I find if I let them sit on top of each other after rinsing that they tend to get mushy. Mind you, I don’t always line them up perfectly to dry, either.

Double boil the bittersweet chocolate, when it’s mostly melted add the milk and the salt.
I like to add a little bit at a time, especially after I see how the milk makes it look.
When it smooths out (it always does) set it aside to cool, slightly.
Top the tortes with the ganache, I think I did about a heaping teaspoon on each.
Add a raspberry to each. Try not to eat them all in one sitting, believe me, it’s hard.  I stored them in the fridge, to let the ganache harden and the raspberries keep. 

So, it’s still early in the day… what are you eating tonight?
lizzeh

 

Reduce, Reuse, Regift!

What if I told you that you could save the planet, one baked good at a time?

You heard me. Would you like to know the only other thing I love more than giving someone a gift? It’s making that gift for that person.

Ah, the ol’ recipe in a jar gift, a classic. A nice, homemade way to say “Hey, you look like you want to bake something. Here, now you’re halfway there.”

Next time you feel like saying that to a friend, why not put a little twist on it by encouraging your friend to spread the love!

Once you’ve baked your goodness, refill it (all of the ingredients are listed), regift it (use the same tag and recipe, or make your own!) and inspire the recipient to do the same!

Recipe’s in a jar are simple enough to make, if you have the perfect sized jar right off the bat. It’s finding the right sized jar that’s the hard part. I had to eat sacrifice a batch of cookies when I realized the jar was WAY to big for the size recipe I had. Then I had to do math (ugh) and increase all of the ingredients by a half, because doubling it would’ve made it too much for the jar. So now that recipe is ridiculous (and if you are someone who receives that jar and refills it and is like wtf is up with these stupid measurements? It’s because I had to do it that way in order for it to fit in that stupid jar!).

Just measure out your jars before you start to fill them, okay?  I used two 6 cup jars and one 3 cup. Filling them is the fun part.

Some things should be separate. In my choconana muffin recipe, you cream the sugar in with the butter at the beginning. It would be nearly impossible to separate the sugar if it’s not packaged separately.

I just used a ziplock sandwich bag, cut off the ziplock part and tied it shut. This was also the method I chose when adding nuts to the brownie batch, some people just don’t like them and would rather not include them, this gives them that option.

To making wrapping easier, secure a rubber band around the jar, tie your bow, and remove the band!

I made the little cards with cardstock, glue and a template I made myself. Here’s a blank one and here’s one that’s got directions on it.

I used my choconana muffin recipe in a 3 cup jar.
The brownie recipe in a 6 cup jar
And a modified version of my delishies in a 6 cup jar.

If you’ve got those sized jars and would like the templates with these recipes, feel free to send a message or leave a comment and I’ll hook you up!

Regifting at it’s yummiest!
lizzeh

Linking up at Natural and Free‘s Think Green Link Up!

They See Me Rollin’

They eatin’, budgin’ lines tryin’ get a second helpin’.
(Weird Al, if you’re reading-  yes, I am available to work for you.)

These rolls are so good, (how good are they?), they’re so good that you won’t want a second helping, you’ll want a fifth! (Weird Al, please disregard that last one and instead, focus on the opener.)

This is not my recipe, I searched for ‘bread machine dinner rolls’ a little over a year ago, stumbled across Betty Crocker‘s recipe and haven’t looked back. Here’s the original, I haven’t changed anything, I find no need to.  They take a considerable amount of time to make (about 2½ hours), but they don’t take nearly as much work. It’s just a lot of waiting, waiting for the bread machine to finish doing the only real work required, and then waiting for them to rise, twice.

Let’s get rollin’!

Betty Crocker’s Dinner Rolls
yields: 15 rolls (says Betty. I make 16, so take that!)

1 cup water
2 tbsp. butter (softened) or margarine
1 egg (I beat it first, don’t know if that’s necessary)
3 ¼ cups flour
¼ cup sugar
1 tsp. salt
3 tsp. yeast (I use bread machine yeast)

Load the ingredients into your bread machine as recommended by your bread machine instructions, I listed the ingredients in the order that I load them into mine. Typically you need to put the liquids in first, then dry ingredients, keeping the salt and sugar away from the yeast (if you’ve done it before you know the drill, if this is your first time using a bread machine to make dough, just make sure you read up and know how to load it).

And this is where I would put a picture of the ingredients,


IF I HAD ONE. (I forgot.)

Wait impatiently while your machine does all of the hard work. When it’s finished remove the dough and place it on a lightly floured surface.

Sometimes the dough is stickier than other times, in that case I used a little more flour and knead it in a bit. Cover the dough and let it rise for about 10 minutes. I cover it with a slightly damp (obviously clean) towel, some people use plastic wrap for easier clean-up. In the meantime, lightly grease a cookie sheet (Betty says to use shortening, I use a spray can).

If you want your rolls to all be exactly the same size, you might want to head over to Betty’s site. We have different methods at this point. I take my large ball of dough and half it, half each of those, half all of those I just halved, and half them again. That’s easy enough to understand, right? In layman’s terms, it’s pretty much the mitosis of dough. That explains it, no? How about a crummy gif made out of blurry, reject pictures I took?

Don’t watch it for too long, I don’t want anyone to have an epileptic episode brought on by roll mitosis. Maybe this wasn’t the best time to document by roll mitosis considering those two large rolls on the right that felt as though they didn’t want to divide. That’s because this particular batch (the dozen on the left) was given to a friend and the two on the right were used as hamburger buns that very evening. Another great thing about these rolls is their versatility. We’ve had them on the side with stew, had pulled pork and sloppy joe sliders (or make them bigger and have normal sized sandwiches), hamburger buns, I’ve used them with breakfast sandwiches (SO GOOD) and they were such a huge hit at Thanksgiving I had to make two batches the following day so people could have them with their leftovers.

I suppose you need to make them before you can enjoy them though, eh? So let’s get back to the recipe. Divide the dough as you wish and place them on the prepared sheet. Leave some space in between the rolls, because you’re going to cover them and allow them to rise again for another 30-40 minutes. They should double in size. You can rearrange them just before you put them in the oven if you’d like, make pull-apart rolls by placing them closer together, or individual rolls by leaving some space in between them.

Preheat the oven to 375° and pop those bad boys in for 12-15 minutes. Check around 10 though, depending on their size you may need more or less time. You’ll know when they’re done, they turn a delicious golden brown.

They may look like they’re going to be hard or tough, but they are the softest most scrumptious things. As a final option, you can brush some softened butter or margarine on the top when they come out of the oven (these have gone without. I actually haven’t done it in a while, just because it’s a bit messier, but oh man, is it good!).

I wish I could tell you how long they keep in the pantry for, but to be honest they’ve always disappeared after a few days. I do know, however, that they freeze and defrost well, just don’t overdo it with the defrosting or heating up, they will get really hard and stale if you do.  I don’t think I blasted them for longer then 45 seconds from frozen, but every microwave is different, you might have to sacrifice one during a trial period. Of course, they are best fresh.

Roll out!
lizzeh

Choconana Muffins

Or Bluenana Muffins, pick your poison.

Both are amazing choices, though honestly ‘bluenana’ has a nicer ring to it, I think. This time I went with good ol’ choconana (banana chocolate chip), because, why not?
I mean, look at these things…

I have no idea where I got this recipe from, it’s been in my recipe box for several years. I have a banana muffin recipe pinned on one of my Pintrest boards, but when I went to look at the recipe it wasn’t the same. So you’re guess is as good as mine, all I know is that I didn’t make it up myself (expect for the addition of vanilla). Alright then, let’s get on with it.

Choconana Muffins
yields: 12 muffins

3 bananas (ripe or frozen)
1 egg
½ cup butter, salted and softened
½ cup sugar
1 ½ cup flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup chocolate chips (or blueberries!)

Mash up the bananas however you please, I used a potato masher and then a fork. Mix the butter and sugar together (mine is already mixed in the picture), add the vanilla, combine with the bananas and add the egg. Sift the dry ingredients into the banana mixture and mix well. Mix in the chocolate chips and divide the batter equally amongst 12 muffin cups.

Bake at 375° for 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown.

These little guys are always a crowd-pleaser, whether filled with chocolate or fruit. They stay nice and soft for about a week if kept in an airtight bag or container.

Enjoy!
lizzeh

Linking up to The CSI Project’s Love of Food Challenge!

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Heart Art, the Second Part

Another?

Here’s the first part, in case you missed it!

I spent more time making Valentine’s Day decorations this year, probably because I didn’t spend one minute making valentines for anyone (sad face). I like to try to keep on top of that stuff, but I suppose you can’t do everything, can you?

I had the idea for this one at the same time as the other, I’d say this one might be a little harder… (maybe?) if you want it measure it and make it look perfect.

Simple materials, an old frame, a piece of cardboard fitted for that frame, some fabric (I chose burlap this time…shocker!) and some ribbon or string (I chose white yarn).

I made a little heart template the size I wanted and traced it onto the cardboard, then glued on the burlap on the side opposite of the traced heart. I attempted to trace lines where I would like the yarn to go, but they ended up pretty crooked, which is why I suppose my heart came out a little crooked.

I poked holes in the cardboard and through the burlap along the lines and weaved the yarn through it. (There’s a hole puncher pictured in my materials picture that I ended up not using by the way, it was too big and would’ve left gaping holes. That’s something else to keep in mind when you pick out a fabric, the burlap was nice because there are already holes in it that I could use, where a solid piece of cotton fabric (for example) would need actual holes poked through.)

I got both impatient and lazy and started to skip lines… or maybe I realized I was going crooked and attempted to get back on track… maybe a little of both.

But was able to fix it (kind of) in the end. Think of all of the different fabric and ribbon combos you could use! Another easy, versatile project, brought to you by the bear.

Happy Heart Day!

lizzeh

 

 

 

 

Linking up to the Hearts Only Challenge at The CSI Project!
csi project