Friday, September 9, 2011

The Best (And Quickest!) Cinnamon Rolls

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I can't stand it when I have a cinnamon roll craving that I can't satisfy. Normally the craving will strike on a beautiful, lazy morning, but I know that by the time I go through the whole process of mixing, kneading, proofing, rising, and baking, the cinnamon rolls won't be done until after lunch.

Thankfully, Pinterest came to my rescue. I've attempted numerous yeast-free cinnamon rolls in the past, only to be disappointed. Normally they taste like biscuits with cinnamon. Granted, that's not a bad thing, but the texture of the dough was always so off that it never felt like cinnamon rolls. This recipe intrigued me though due to the use of ricotta in the dough, so I decided to give it a go.

And I'm so happy that I did! The dough was not only so quick and easy to put together, but rolling it out was a breeze. The house smelled amazing while they cooked, and we were able to enjoy delicious cinnamon rolls long before lunch time rolled around!

Fastest Cinnamon Rolls
Makes about 8 rolls
Adapted slightly from Don't Forget Delicious


– For the Dough —
3/4 cup part skim ricotta cheese (or cottage cheese)
1/3 cup low fat buttermilk
1/4 cup sugar
2 oz. unsalted butter (1/2 of a stick)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
9 oz. all purpose flour (about 2 cups)
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. baking soda
– For the Filling —
3/4 oz. unsalted butter (1-1/2 Tablespoons)
2/3 cup packed brown sugar
2-1/2  teaspoons cinnamon
– For the Glaze —
1 cup powdered sugar, or to taste
1 tablespoons skim milk, or more as needed
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Instructions
  1. Heat the oven to 400°F. Grease the sides and bottom of a 8 or 9″ baking pan with cooking spray.
  2. Combine the ricotta cheese, buttermilk, sugar, melted butter, and vanilla in food processor and process until smooth, about 10 seconds. Add the flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda and pulse in short bursts just until the dough clumps together (don’t overprocess). The dough will be soft and moist.
  3. Dump the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead it with floured hands 4 or 5 times until smooth (it really only takes 4-5 times). With a rolling pin, roll the dough into a 12×15-inch rectangle.
  4. Brush the dough with the melted butter, leaving a 1/2-inch border without butter around the edges. In a medium bowl, combine brown sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle the mixture over the buttered area of the dough and press gently into the surface.
  5. Starting at a long edge, roll up the dough jelly-roll style. Pinch the seam to seal, and leave the ends open.
  6. With a sharp knife, cut the roll into equal pieces (I got 8). Set the pieces, cut side up, in the prepared pan; they should fill the pan and touch slightly, but don’t worry if there are small gaps. 
  7. Bake until golden brown and firm to the touch, 20 to 28 minutes. Set the pan on a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes. Run a spatula around the inside edge of the pan to loosen the rolls, and transfer them to a serving plate.
  8. In a small bowl, beat the powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla to make a smooth glaze. Add more milk as needed to achieve desired consistency. Spread or drizzle onto warm rolls. Let stand 10 minutes and serve.



Seriously, everyone should try these. They're the perfect dish for a last minute breakfast or brunch. Delicious, quick, and easy - what more could you ask for?

Happy baking!





Sunday, September 4, 2011

Pallet Love

Update: Be sure to check out the finished product here! Finally...

I'm slightly obsessed with pallets.

But what's not to love? They're not only awesome looking, they're free! So when I passed by a dumpster and saw a pallet hanging over the edge, I couldn't help myself. Ignoring the weird stares passers-by were giving me, I managed to get it out and cart it home. I tried climbing up the side of the dumpster to rescue a second pallet, but couldn't reach it. The dumpster's gone now and I'm still a little sad about the pallet left behind.

I've been pinning a few ideas for projects using pallets and am so excited to actually have a pallet to use now!


I'm in love with this hanging shelf, but my pallet is configured differently, so this one's out. For now...



This bookshelf is amazing, but also out. I'm going to need to find bigger pallets and gain the ability to use power tools before I can pull that one off.


And we have a winner.

I've finally decided to turn my pallet into a headboard. My poor bed is currently nothing more than a mattress set on a metal bed frame, so this is the perfect solution. The colors of my room are similar to this picture and I love the natural look of the pallet with them. I'm so excited!


This is definitely a DIY project I can actually accomplish. Now it's simply a matter of waiting for the temperature in the garage to go below 110º so I can start sanding!

Update: Be sure to check out the finished product here!

So keep your eyes on the dumpsters. You never know what inspiration you might find!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

When Life Gives You Green Coconut

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You make strange-colored ranger cookies! Surely you've heard that expression before.



Last week, my son had his birthday. I was in denial for awhile, but I can finally admit now that he is five years old! When I first had him, I got a little tired of hearing everyone tell me how quickly time will fly. But now I know it's true! He's going to be driving in a week or something. Someone make him stop growing. But I digress.

The past three years, Landon has wanted some sort of truck themed party, with a 3D cake to match. So I've made a dump truck, fire engine, and ambulance. Every year on the night before the party, I'm frosting my butt off, muttering to myself "why the heck did I decide to do this again?!" So this year, when he told me he wanted a Dallas SWAT party with an A.P.C. cake, I almost cried. Why, you ask? Because this is an A.P.C.


So, needless to say, I urged him to go in a different direction. A completely different direction. A direction that involved a cake in the shape of a rectangle. So a bug party it was! Chocolate frosting, green-tinted coconut "grass" and plastic bugs? Easy, and still super fun for him. 

I ended up buying a big bag of flaked coconut and dying it green, then only using a tiny amount on the cake. No one in my family is a big fan of coconut, but I didn't want to waste the majority of the bag, so I decided to make ranger cookies! I've seen then in grocery stores, and always thought they were just showing team spirit for the Texas Rangers, but apparently this cookie has been around for longer than I have. I'm just out of the cookie loop I guess. I decided to give them a try, and we ended up loving them. So give them a try (green coconut optional!).

This is not my picture - the green coconut made then really weird looking! So here's the normal-looking version!

Ranger Cookies



Ingredients

  • 1 cup shortening
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups quick-cooking oats
  • 2 cups crisp rice cereal
  • 1 cup flaked coconut
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips (optional and not originally in the recipe, but so good!)

Directions


  • In a large bowl, cream shortening and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt; gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well. Stir in the oats, cereal and coconut.
  • Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls 2 in. apart onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 350° for 7-9 minutes or until golden brown. Remove to wire racks. Yield: 7-1/2 dozen.


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

What's Good for the Goose

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This post has nothing to do with geese. But "What's Good for the Gooseberry" just didn't have the same ring to it.

Before my mom married her husband, I had never heard of gooseberries, let alone tasted anything made with them. I had also never seen anyone eat marmite or drink buttermilk, but that's another story. He's got some strange taste when it comes to food sometimes. The only new food that I've grown to enjoy is gooseberry pie. Gooseberries are these little sour green berries that apparently look like this...


I however, have never seen fresh gooseberries down here. Mine come looking like this...


Actually, I've never even seen the cans in stores down here. I have to get them from Amazon. Wherever you can find them, they make a really good pie. It's slightly sour, similar to cherry pie, but with a flavor all its own. So for Father's Day this year, I made Brian his favorite pie, and it's quickly becoming one of my favorites as well.

Gooseberry Pie
Makes 1 pie
  • 2 Cans Gooseberries, drained
  • 3/4 Cup Sugar (You can add more if you like your pies sweeter)
  • 1/4 Cup Tapioca
  • 1/4 Tsp Salt
  • 1 Tsp Orange Zest (optional, but adds a great flavor)
  • Double pie crust (recipe below)
  1. Combine all ingredients and let sit while making the pie crust. 
  2. Pour filling into bottom crust. Place top crust on top and crimp edges with a fork to seal.
  3. Cut slits in top crust (or polka dots if you're like me and bored of cutting slits in pies).
  4. Bake at 450º for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350º and bake 30 minutes more. Cover edges with foil if they start getting too brown.
  5. Let cool before slicing.
Pie Crust
Makes a top and bottom crust

  • 2 Cups Flour
  • 1/2 Tsp Salt
  • 2/3 Cup Shortening
  • 2 Tbsp Butter, cold
  • 1/2 Cup Iced Water (Don't let the ice cubes get in the dough)
  1. Combine flour and salt.
  2. Using a pastry blender, 2 knives, or your hands, cut in the shortening and butter until the pieces are about pea-sized.
  3. Stir in the water with a fork until a dough forms.
  4. On a lightly floured piece of wax paper, roll out half of the dough. Always roll from the middle to the outside - it's easier and is less likely to tear.
  5. Place your pie pan upside down and cut around the outside to make your top piece. Put the top crust (still on the wax paper) in the fridge while you roll out the bottom crust. (My mom taught me to roll the top crust out first. That way it's always exactly the right size and the prettiest, since that's what everyone sees! Thanks, mom!)
  6. Roll out the scraps and remaining half of the dough to make your bottom crust and place it in your pie pan.
Don't ask why I didn't take a picture of the whole pie...

If you're lucky enough to find gooseberries, try this pie! You might just discover a new favorite. You can also try marmite and drinking buttermilk, but I wouldn't recommend it!

Happy Late Father's Day to all the fathers and father-figures!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

What the Hex?

I'm not a crafty person... but occasionally I pretend to be.

When I saw this post ages ago on the ModCloth blog via Honestly... WTF, I thought I had finally found a DIY project that I could actually do!


I can braid, and that's pretty much the only skill needed for this. With some twine from my kitchen and a cheap bag of silver hex nuts from Home Depot, I was ready to go!

No, this isn't mine. Like I said, not crafty!

This one's mine.

It was actually easier than I thought. With one minor detail. I have no idea how to put it on. Tying a knot on the back of my wrist works, but is completely bulky and stupid looking. While trying to get a picture I was literally holding the loose ends in my fist, which isn't really practical for everyday wear. Why do instructions always stop too early for me? Would it have killed those talented crafty folks to include the one extra step of how to put this on? Any advice out there? Heeeelp...

But I still love it. Sure, from close-up it's obviously made out of hex nuts, but from a normal point of view, it's really cool looking and doesn't scream "I'm from Home Depot!" And I think it looks perfect for the summer.

And now, I feel braver. Maybe next time I'll take on something more complicated than braiding.

Ok, maybe not!

Top two images from Honestly... WTF

Monday, June 13, 2011

What a Week

I feel like I've been gone forever! Last week was hectic between VBS, home improvement projects, and visiting with friends I haven't seen in years. But it's all over now and I can officially relax! And by relax, I mean bake.


I have a confession. I frequently buy cream cheese when I grocery shop. Not because I need it, I just claim that I like to have it on hand. Then I never use it. A couple of days before it's about to expire, I pull it out and am "forced" to bake something yummy to prevent it from spoiling. I've probably done this a dozen times. So far no one has caught on. I hope they never do or I'll never have a valid reason to bake cupcakes when it's no one's birthday!

Red Velvet Cupcakes
Yield: 24 cupcakes
From a recipe card I recently discovered from my paternal grandmother

  • 1/2 Cup (1 stick) Butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 Cups Sugar
  • 2 Eggs
  • 4 Tbsp Red Food Coloring
  • 2 Tbsp Cocoa Powder
  • 1 Cup Buttermilk
  • 1 Tsp Salt
  • 1 Tbsp White Vinegar
  • 1 Tsp Baking Soda
  • 2 1/2 Cups Flour, sifted
  1. Preheat oven to 350º. Grease and flour muffin pans, or use paper liners.
  2. Cream together butter and sugar.
  3. Beat in the eggs.
  4. Combine the food coloring and cocoa powder and add to the egg mixture.
  5. Combine buttermilk, salt, white vinegar, and baking soda and add to the egg mixture.
  6. Slowly add the flour. When combined, beat for 2 minutes or until fluffy.
  7. Pour into muffin pans and bake for about 15 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  8. Let cool completely and frost (recipe below).
Cream Cheese Frosting
Because I couldn't let that cream cheese spoil...

  • 1/2 Cup (1 stick) Butter, softened
  • 8 oz package cream cheese (reduced fat is fine, fat-free doesn't work well)
  • 1 Tsp Vanilla
  • 4 Cups Powdered Sugar
  1. Beat all ingredients until smooth.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Amish Life

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I wish I were Amish.

Except with electricity. And cars.

And without the clothes and super strict rules. And I don't think I could learn Pennsylvania Dutch either.

Ok, so I actually just want to be Amish for the food. It's like a 24/7 diet of comfort food! What's not to love about that? Besides all of the calories of course... But having delicious treats like homemade bread and pies every day instead of saving them for special occasions would be amazing.

When a craving for something super sweet and comforting (and yes, super unhealthy) hits, where better to look for inspiration than the Amish? And in this case, the traditional Amish treat of Whoopie Pies was the perfect choice.



I know Whoopie Pies have been trending for awhile now, so it may appear I'm jumping on the bandwagon a little late. But I was actually ahead of the game for once on this trend! I have a binder full of recipes that I made when I was about 9 or so. I wrote down a recipe for Whoopie Pies way back when, and 16 years later, I'm finally getting around to making them!

Whoopie Pies
I have no idea who to credit this recipe to, but a big thank you 
to whoever created these! They are so good!
  • 6 Tablespoons Shortening
  • 1 Cup Sugar
  • 1 Egg
  • 2 Cups Flour
  • 5 Tablespoons Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
  • 1-1/2 Teaspoons Baking Soda
  • 1 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1 Cup Milk
  • 1 Teaspoon Vanilla
1. Preheat oven to 375º and grease baking sheets.

2. Cream together shortening, sugar, and the egg.

3. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt.

4. Add the flour mixture to the shortening mixture alternately with the milk and vanilla, mixing well after each addition.

5. Drop by spoonfuls on the sheets and bake for 10 minutes. 

6. Remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

7. Spread about a tablespoon of filling (recipe below) onto half of the cooled cookies and top with the remaining cookies.

Filling Recipe

  • 3/4 Cup Butter, Softened
  • 1 Cup Powdered Sugar
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Vanilla
  • 1 Cup Marshmallow Creme
  • 1 Tablespoon Milk
1. Cream the butter and sugar until fluffy.

2. Mix in the remaining ingredients. If frosting it too thick, add more milk. If it's too thin, add more powdered sugar.



These are obviously not your everyday cookies, as they are pretty unhealthy. But they make an amazing treat. And while the people you serve them to may not shout "whoopie!" upon seeing them, they will definitely love you for making them!

I'll stick with my modern life for now, as long as I can still occasionally be Amish in the kitchen!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Tornadoes, Tomatoes, and Tigers - Oh My!

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I hate the sound of tornado sirens. First, they're really creepy. Second, they scare my son half to death, making for a very long night.

Some pretty bad storms passed through here a couple of nights ago. The sirens started going off just as my son was finally about to fall asleep. The news was warning us of softball-sized hail that was falling to the west and heading straight for us. My poor little car was sitting in the street, just waited to get pelted. Thankfully we only had a little marble-sized hail and my car escaped unscathed. All the tornadoes stayed away, despite more sirens over the next few hours.

You can always trust Texas weather to be crazy, and sure enough, Thursday was beautiful! It was the perfect day for a zoo trip. Unfortunately, it seemed like everyone else had the same thought! Super crowded, but still super fun!

Apparently my camera looked delicious.

My youngest niece and her new friend.

This really would have been appropriate for Turtle Day.

My favorite animal!

After a tiring day at the zoo, I was having a serious soup craving. So I made my absolute favorite (and the world's best) cream of tomato soup. I could literally eat the whole gallon. I always make the full amount, thinking I'll freeze most of it, but we all eat the leftovers before I get a chance to!

Cream of Tomato Soup
Partly courtesy of the CIA, modified by me.
(That stands for the Culinary Institute of America. I'm unfortunately not a spy. Although I've always wanted to be!)

Makes about 1 Gallon
Be sure to read the notes at the bottom!

  • 2 ounces bacon, diced (about 2 or 3 slices)
  • 6 tablespoons butter or oil (vegetable or canola)
  • 8 ounces carrots, small diced (about 3 carrots)
  • 4 ounces celery, small diced (about 2 stalks)
  • 4 ounces onions, small dices (about half an onion)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 ounces flour 
  • 2 quarts chicken stock or broth (homemade is best, but low sodium canned {4 cans} works well too)
  • 4 - 14.5 ounce cans diced tomatoes, drained
  • 2 - 15 ounce cans tomato sauce
  • 4 parsley stems (or if you're like me and realize you're out, about a teaspoon of dried)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 pint heavy cream
1. In a large soup pot, cook the bacon in the oil or butter until crisp.

2. Add the carrots, celery, onions, and garlic and cook over low to medium heat until tender, about 8-10 minutes.

3. Add the flour and stir well. Cook this for 12 minutes, stirring about every minute or so.


4. Blend in the chicken stock or broth. Add the diced tomatoes and tomato sauce and simmer over low heat for 30 minutes.
When you're adding the chicken stock, add in about a cup first and scrape the bottom of the pot 
to get any stuck on bits. That's all amazing flavor, so don't leave it stuck there!

5. Tie up the parsley, bay leaves, and cloves in cheesecloth. Add to the soup and simmer another 30 minutes.


6. Remove the little package of parsley, bay leaves, and cloves. Puree the soup in batches, using either a blender or a food processor. 

My mind is going completely blank and I can't remember the name for the little thing you pull out of the lid of both machines to be able to add ingredients while it's running. But be sure to remove whatever that thing is called! Otherwise the heat will build up pressure and your kitchen will be covered in tomato soup. Use a towel to cover it and prevent splatters.


7. At this point, put whatever soup you want to freeze in containers. Put the soup you plan on eating into a pot and add the heavy cream. But not all of it! The pint is for the whole recipe. So if you freeze half and plan on eating the other half, add only 1 cup of heavy cream, etc. The soup doesn't freeze well with the heavy cream. It will keep as leftovers in the fridge fine with the heavy cream though.

8. Bring it back up to heat and season to taste with salt and pepper. Enjoy it with oyster crackers, grilled cheese, croutons, or more!

Thank you Martha Stewart - your photographers have more skill than me.


Notes
  • You probably noticed almost every ingredient is given by weight. It's the most accurate way of cooking. I gave the approximate amounts in case you don't have a kitchen scale handy. If you do though, measure everything by weight the first time through. Then you'll have an idea of how much 8 ounces of carrots actually looks like and so on. 4 ounces of flour is about .9 cup. So more than 3/4, but less than a whole cup.
  • Small dice means 1/4". But don't whip out your ruler (even though I had to at school. Ugh). Since everything is pureed, the size doesn't matter too much. Just try to be consistent. If you cut the carrots bigger, do the same with the onions and celery. You want everything to cook evenly, so aim for about the same size pieces.
  • The parsley, bay leaves, and cloves are optional, but really good! If you're missing one or two of those things, add whatever you do have. And if you're like me, you probably don't have cheesecloth around. Or you're even more like me and have some but can't find it anywhere! I always use a coffee filter and tie it up with butcher's twine. Any string will work fine though. Tying everything together makes it so easy to find and remove these items before pureeing the soup.

  • This can be made healthier by omitting the bacon and heavy cream. You could substitute evaporated milk or even regular milk in the heavy cream's place. It could even go vegan by omitting the bacon, using oil, using vegetable stock or water in place of the chicken stock, and replacing the heavy cream with unsweetened almond milk or soy milk. It's pretty versatile, so have fun with it!

I hope everyone has a great weekend!






Monday, May 23, 2011

Turtle Day!

Be sure to enter my giveaway!

Did you know May 23rd is World Turtle Day?

Yeah, neither did I. But frankly, I'll use any excuse to celebrate by making cupcakes. Plus my mom's husband has a pet tortoise. Her name is Shelly. He's big on puns. So having a turtle in the household is a valid reason to celebrate, right?

My son was really into it. He put on a old pair of turtle pajamas and decorated with turtle drawings and every stuffed turtle he owns. He wanted to make something for dinner by himself, so I helped him dye canned pears green and he made them look like turtles.

He was so proud of what he "cooked."

But I was really just in it for the cupcakes.

Chocolate, caramel, and pecans? Yes, please!

Tiny turtle decorations for the cupcakes. 

I'm far too impatient to make tiny things like that. I had a little fan and light rigged up to dry them out more quickly. Even then, I refused to wait long enough and tried to remove them from the wax paper too early. There were a few casualties. But at least they were yummy!

My first thought for a Turtle Day entree was real turtle soup. But that just seemed so wrong. I couldn't exactly cook turtles on a day meant to protect and celebrate them. So I made a pizza in the shape of a turtle. 

I almost couldn't slice through him. Almost.

Now I just have to wait for another holiday to celebrate. Thankfully tomorrow is Hug Your Cat Day. And Wednesday is Towel Day. I'm really starting to wonder who comes up with these so-called holidays. But as long as I can make a cupcake to observe it, I'm in!

Happy early Hug Your Cat Day!

Friday, May 6, 2011

Only In Texas

I work in a steakhouse in Uptown Dallas. It's a really urban area - fancy restaurants, lofts, and clubs fill pretty much every inch. There's not much grass in sight, only beautifully manicured landscaping in front of outrageously expensive hotels. And yet, driving home from work tonight, I see this.


Can you see him? A lone cowboy riding his horse (literally) into the sunset.

Who rides a horse in the middle of a city? During rush hour traffic none the less? I thought horses were supposed to be ridden in the fresh air, not in exhaust fumes. Not to mention this seems pretty gross. He's on the sidewalk and I'm pretty sure horses aren't potty-trained... But I digress.

Happy Friday everyone!


Monday, May 2, 2011

Time Warp

My mom attended a surprise birthday and costume party for her friend this weekend. She could dress from any decade from the 20's to the 90's, so naturally she chose the tastefully refined and understated 80's. A prize would be awarded to the best costume.

She enlisted my help to go thrifting to find the perfect outfit. Sadly I recently donated a couple of outfits that would have made perfect costumes! Last summer our house became a donation center for a neighborhood family who lost everything in a fire. It was my job to sort through the bags of donations they didn't want and decide what to donate and what to toss. I can't imagine why they didn't want this green jacket...

I felt like Blanche from the Golden Girls when I put it on. Or a bat. It's a toss-up. 
The other clothes are also donations. 
Sorry for the horrible picture quality. And for the pink satin pants. They're really bad too.

And this red number with its MC Hammer pants and almost floor-length jacket was pretty priceless.

Actually, it wasn't priceless. It still had the tags on it. $24.99 was quite the steal. 
Again, horrible picture quality... oops.

In a side note, my brother would kill me if he saw that I posted this. My mom, aunt, and I convinced him to put this on months ago for a laugh. He finally agreed and we all immediately whipped out our cameras. Thankfully he doesn't know I have a blog. Hopefully when I become a wildly popular blogger (in other words, finally get more than one follower...) he won't mind the attention he's bound to get.

But these outfits were taking up valuable (and limited) storage space in my room. I figured I would never need them, so off to Goodwill they went! My timing was most unfortunate.

So my mom and I headed to Goodwill, hoping that one of these outfits had made it onto the rack. We didn't spot either one, but we did find the perfect dress for only $7.99.

The detailed beading was amazing.
As was the oh-so-flattering waist.

So she teased her curly hair sky high, 

piled on bright purple eye shadow and threw on as much jewelry as she could take. 

The purple bow in her hair and white shoes completed her look.
I wish the complete tackiness of the dress came through better, but you get the idea.

And did she win?

It was unanimous.



Wednesday, April 27, 2011

What's In A Name?

The name of my blog might seem a little random, but there's a story behind it that deserves telling.

I grew up hating my name. Having a name with a unique spelling is no fun when you're a kid. All of my friends had key chains, license plates, and mugs with their names printed on them. I was never able to find anything personalized. The names went straight from Catherine to Cathy. My aunt ordered a specially made rubber stamp for me one year when I was six or so. I was so excited to finally have something with my name on it! I still have books from my childhood; my name is stamped on the inside cover of each one about a hundred times.

I'm still forever having to spell my name for people. If only I had a dollar for every time I stated my name is Cathey with an E. And then there are people who don't believe me. I never understood why people respond with "really?" when I tell them the spelling. Why would I joke? Then they usually tell me that it must be short for Catherine. If it were, why would I choose a strangely spelled shortened version? I've even had someone ask me if I'm sure about the spelling. I've had the name for 25 years now - I ought to know how to spell it by now.

I'm also annoyed by computers that tell me my name is incorrect. Even now, it's suggesting Cathe, Cathy, Cathee, Cathay, and Cather. But it's ok now - I've added it to the dictionary. No more mean red squiggly underlining.

But I've finally grown to love my name due to who I'm named after. The name Cathey was actually a surname in my family.


My great-grandfather, Royal Cathey, took in and cared for 
the majority of his family when the Great Depression hit.

My great-uncle, Royal Cathey Jr. (Bubba), was in the Navy during WWII. in 1945, a boat he was on capsized. Eleven men lost their lives, but Bubba, who couldn't swim, held on to a piece of wood until someone rescued him. Bubba was, and still is, the smartest man I've ever known. He was also so sweet and caring towards everyone.

This is from the newspaper article describing the accident. 
Bubba is on the far left.

My grandmother Margaret Cathey was always known by everyone as Cathey. She was a talented, hard-working, and extremely loving single mother to 5 daughters. She suffered through so much in life, but I don't remember ever hearing her complain.

This is my favorite picture of my Grandma


She was so stylish for all of her life


Gorgeous, isn't she?


These are the people whose name I share. I think a little bit of suffering through misspellings and a lack of personalized items is worth the privilege of  bearing the name of Cathey. I never got to meet my great-grandfather. Bubba died 14 years ago and my Grandma passed away in 2004. I miss them both so much, but due to my name, I always have a part of them with me. And I love that.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter

Yesterday was a wonderful Easter! It was a fun day of egg hunting, eating, games, and fellowship with both my family and church family. Thankfully the 90% chance of rain during the hours of the church picnic didn't happen so we could all have fun outside on the beautiful, albeit humid, day.

Hunting for eggs at church


Killing time while the adults hid the eggs


The sack race, aka a great way to get horrible grass stains


We even found a rabbit hole with five tiny newborn bunnies. 
They're hard to see, but they're there! And what a cute Easter surprise for all the kids to see!


The mini pies all turned out well. I ended up making pecan, apple, and strawberry "cheesecakes."


Why yes, there are only 11 pecan pies in that picture. Taste tests are essential! (Strangely enough, an apple disappeared shortly after this picture was taken...I refuse to take the blame!)
I ended up skipping the lattice crust and making a crumb topping. It was late in the day and the thought of 12 tiny lattices made me cringe. The crumb topping tasted great, but they didn't look much like apple pies.


The little cheesecakes are actually from a no-bake cream cheese pie recipe my Grandma started making years ago. When made as one regular pie, it is a super easy, quick, and yummy recipe! The mini pies crusts take longer to prepare, but they're cute for an event like a potluck.

Cherry Cream Cheese Pie
This is what my Grandma always called it; I always refer to it by her name, even sans cherries!
Makes one 8" or 9" pie

  • 8-oz package Cream Cheese, softened
  • 1 cup Powdered Sugar
  • 1 envelope of Dream Whip (Plus milk and vanilla extract required to prepare Dream Whip)
  • Graham Cracker Crust  (recipe below)
  • Canned cherry pie filling, or topping of your choice (sweeted strawberries, blueberries, etc)
1. Prepare Dream Whip according to package directions.

Dream Whip is found in the baking aisle. I wandered the grocery store for awhile before finding it, so hopefully you'll have better luck than me. It's actually pretty tasty by itself. I may or may not have licked a beater to find out. (I totally did.)

2. Beat cream cheese and powdered sugar together until creamy.
Make sure your cream cheese is really soft. It may blend with the sugar if it's still a little firm, but you'll have a hard time on the next step...

3. Gently fold the prepared Dream Whip into the cream cheese mixture.
It's easiest if you start with about a third of the dream whip. Once you get that folded in, the rest of the Dream Whip will fold in even more easily.

Messy spatula = happy boy


4. Pour it into your cooled crust and you're done!

If you wanted to go with the mini pie route, you can either spoon some filling into each crust or pipe it in. I prefer piping because I think it's easier and cleaner. A zipper bag with the corner cut off works just as well as a pastry bag! Don't worry too much about how pretty they look. That's what the topping is for!

This was the first time I've ever served this with anything other that cherry pie filling. I opted for slightly sweetened sliced strawberries and it was delicious! You can serve it plain or with your favorite cheesecake topping.
Now for the crust...

Graham Cracker Crust
Makes one 8" or 9" crust
Double the recipe if you're making mini pies

  • One package of graham crackers (Not the whole box, just one of the little envelope/sleeve things)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted
1. Place graham crackers and sugar in a food processor and process until crushed.
You can crush and mix everything by hand if you don't have a food processor

2. Add melted butter and mix until crumbly.

3. Press into an 8 or 9 inch pie pan and bake in a 375º oven for about 7 minutes. Let cool before filling.

If you want to make mini pies, spray 2 muffin pans with nonstick spray. I placed a heaping tablespoon into each cup and pressed it into shape using the little wooden tart shaper in the picture. 

I think it's meant for mini-muffin pans, but it worked pretty well. 

Bake these for 4-5 minutes. They might puff up while they're baking, but they'll go back down when they cool. Or if you're impatient like me, you can press them down with the tart shaper. Let them cool completely before removing them from the pan. If you try to remove them when they're the least bit warm, they'll bend and break on you. No fun.

Ready for filling!

 Wow, long post. Apparently I need to work on editing myself!
Have a great Monday!




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