Friday, March 14, 2014

Monkey Bread

As promised (yesterday in my Disney Countdown Movie Night) here is the Monkey Bread my family is in love with......
 Doesn't it look delicious? Well, this picture isn't lying!
If you've never made Monkey Bread before, stop everything RIGHT NOW and go make some.
Then come back and thank me for changing your life. Okay... I'm kidding... or maybe not....
Seriously though, here is an easy recipe to try. YUM.

Start with a can of Pillsbury Grands Homestyle Butter Tastin' biscuits.
You can use another kind of biscuit, but I have and I'll tell ya, it's just not the same. Since I always have the other ingredients on hand that are needed for this recipe, I don't mind splurging on the Grands!
 Pop open the can and cut each biscuit into 6 pieces.

Let your biscuits hang out on the cutting board for a minute while you mix 1/4 cup sugar and 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon in a gallon size bag. 
When your sugar and cinnamon are mixed, add your cut biscuits to the bag. Close and gently shake it around until all the biscuit pieces are covered.

Next, you'll need to melt 1/2 a stick of butter or margarine and then add that to 1/4 cup brown sugar.
This is the sticky yumminess that your monkey bread will be sitting in. It might just be the best part!

When you've mixed the melted butter and brown sugar, you'll need to spoon some into each of your 8, sprayed, muffin cups. It evens out to (almost) a tablespoon of butter/brown sugar goodness per muffin cup.
Now you need to divide your coated biscuit pieces evenly between your 8 muffin pan cups. Each muffin cup will have 6 pieces of biscuits.
(If you have any extra sugar/cinnamon mixture in the bottom of the bag, sprinkle it on your biscuits.)

I place my muffin pan on a cookie sheet for baking. I've have it bubble over into my oven one too many times!
Bake in a preheated 350* oven for 15-18 minutes (or until the centers are not gooey- we don't like gooey dough around here.)

 Let them rest a few minutes in the pan before you turn them over and let them plop out. (I use my cookie sheet for this so I don't have to wash another dish.)

  Plate and serve! (There usually isn't time to plate them... little monkey hands take their bread right off the warm pan!)

I used this recipe as my dessert on our Disney Countdown Movie Night. I called it 'Abu's Monkey Bread' since we were watching the Disney movie Aladdin. But to be honest, it's usually a weekend breakfast treat. 
Morning, Noon or Night, you are sure to enjoy!

Monkey Bread
Here's What You'll Need:
1 can Pillsbury Butter Tastin' Biscuits
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted
1/4 cup brown sugar

Here's How:
1. Preheat oven to 350* and spray 8 muffin pan cups with non-stick cooking spray.
2. Cut your biscuits into 6 even pieces.
3. Combine your granulated sugar and cinnamon in a zip closer bag. Add your cut biscuit pieces and shake gently to coat evenly.
4. Combine your melted butter and brown sugar in a small bowl and divide even among the sprayed muffin cups. (About 1 Tablespoon per muffin cup.)
5. Divide the coated biscuits evenly among the muffin cups. (6 pieces of biscuit in each)
6. Bake for 15-18 minutes until the dough is cooked through. Allow the monkey bread to cool slightly in the pan before you turn them over onto a pan or serving platter. 

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Aladdin Movie Night

We've got a Disney World trip planned in our future and we are BEYOND excited.
(If you do Disney, you know what I'm talking about!)
 (2012 trip)

(2011 trip)

So, to count down and hype up the already-extreme-anticipation, I have planned a few 
Disney Movie Nights.

Here were some 'rules' I set for our Disney Countdown Movie Nights:
-Keep it simple.
-Keep it themed.

Easy, right???? 
I tend to over-think and drive myself crazy with 'crafting' party stuff. So I decided to focus my decorations on the kitchen table.
And I wanted to have the food go with the movie. 
(Helllloooo Pinterest!) 

Will you join us for the first one???
I'll give you a hint....
"Arabian niiiiiiiiights, like Arabian daaaaaaays..."
(You're singing the song now, right?)

We love riding the Magic Carpets at Disneys' Magic Kingdom so, of course, Aladdin seemed like a logical movie to start the count down!

I know, I know.... first picture and I've already broken rule #1.
Since I was planning dinner to be eaten at a low table with fancy pillows, there was no sense in decorating a kitchen table we weren't going to be using. So, the fireplace got a make-over. (I needed to take down the Valentine's decor anyway!)

I drew an 'Arabian' backdrop onto a big piece of cardboard. Then I cut it out with a straight blade right before I spray painted it black.
It totally set the theme and I was so excited to make it!
And I'm also glad I have a small lantern fascination these days. I didn't buy any for this dinner!

The gold pillows were made from extra gold fabric I've had for years that was tucked away in my Christmas decorations box. I sewed three sides for the pillows, slipped various couch pillows in and tucked in the fourth side. I didn't want to make them permanent because I really wasn't wanting gold pillows for my everyday look.

While I was in the basement storage, getting the gold fabric, I picked up some beads (also in Christmas storage) and found an old clear vase that I spray painted gold. The sticks and feathers that I placed in the newly painted gold vase came from my Christmas wreath.... the one that never got made.

I did purchase a few little things for the kids at the dollar store. Beads, coins, a tambourine for Reese,  and a plastic snake for Graham.
{Some of my photos came out blurry- there's no such thing as still excitement!}

Other than the Arabian backdrop that took me about an hour to draw, cut and spray paint, my other 'project' was to make Magic Carpet Placemats. What would an Aladdin party be without Magic Carpets???
I tried to make it simple but nothing seems to be as simple as I think it will be. (sigh)

Here's the quick description of what I did....
I purchased 2 different fabrics for each Magic Carpet. The purple (shown in the photo below) was cut smaller to be the top layer of the two-layered Magic Carpet. I lined the edge of the purple fabric with gold bias tape that I purchased at my local craft store. It was a little hard to deal with.
Okay, I lied.
It was REALLY hard for this beginner to deal with. So, instead of sewing it, I hot glued it. After all, hot glue is the solution to everything, right???
I sewed the lined purple fabric to the main fabric (pictured in the photo below as teal) and then sewed the teal fabric into a 'mini pillow case'. I know my kids and I knew they would love having a 'pocket' for their new prizes.
After pressing the Magic Carpets, I hot glued tassels to the corners and Wha-La!

{Again, excuse my blurriness!}

Reese already owned a Jasmine costume, so I knew I had to make some costume that would satisfy Graham as Aladdin.
Black sweat pants(in his drawer), a tank top from last summer (cut down the front center to resemble a 'vest') and a strip of the gold Christmas fabric as a belt. I was pretty excited we had all of what we needed. I kinda forgot about costumes until the last minute.

I did try a craft for 'Arabian Jewelry' on Pinterest.
Paper towel roll, macaroni noodles, gold spray paint.
Unfortunately, as soon as the kids put the bracelets on, the 'golden macaroni' (as we starting calling them) started falling off. Big choking no-no around here. To the trash they went even though it was a cute idea. Maybe I should have read the directions?!?!?!

Aladdin, Abu and Jasmine....

Abu was finished taking pictures.....

And now onto the cuisine of the evening.....

When we visited Jasmine and Aladdin at Epoct at Disney World, they were outside Morocco. That is why the main dish was Moroccan inspired. 
Here's what we ate:  
Don't let the Jasmine's Tea fool you.
I'm southern, so good, southern sweet tea is always in the fridge. Somehow calling it 'Jasmine's Tea' made it even more appealing to the kids.

The Cucumber Salsa was so good. Even better with sea salt Pita chips!

Cucumber Salsa
2 cucumbers, peeled and chopped
2 roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1/4 cup chopped red onion
1 Tablespoon freeze-dried parsley
1 garlic clove, finely minced
1/4 cup sour cream
lemon juice from 1/2 a lemon
lime juice from 1/2 a lime
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin 
In a bowl, combine cucumbers, tomatoes, onion, parsley, and garlic. In another bowl, combine the sour cream, lemon juice, lime juice, and cumin. Pour sour cream mixture over the cucumber mixture and gently toss. Taste and salt as needed. 

The Main Dish was called Beef Tagine with Squash and Couscous.
It was a meal I purchased from Plated
{Plated is a website that sends you fresh ingredients and instructions on how to make the dish. If you visit their site, you can order meals that will be shipped right to your door. They have different and exciting recipes every week that can satisfy any palette.}
When I saw they had a Moroccan dish, I knew it would be perfect with our Aladdin movie night.

And for dessert (and the favorite food of the night), Abu's Monkey Bread.
This deserves it's own post so I'm going to share it with you tomorrow. Believe me, you don't want to miss it.
(And in case you are going to the grocery store before I post the recipe tomorrow, pick up a can of Pillsbury Grands Homestyle Butter Tastin' rolls so you'll have everything you need!)

One Disney Countdown Movie Night done!
It was fun to plan and thrilling to see how excited the kids got over a themed dinner and a borrowed movie!
Oh, and one last MAJOR Disney Movie Night tip....
Make sure you have the movie you are planning the dinner around.
Or that you can buy it.
Come to find out, Aladdin is in The Disney Vault.
(Sister-in-law to the rescue!!!)

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Lunch Time

Around here, I'm usually sharing recipes we love and projects I'm working on. However, today, I'm going to share about our lunch times.

You see, sometimes I struggle with the fact that I am ALWAYS in my kitchen. It starts at breakfast... preparing, feeding, wiping, cleaning. Then snack time. Preparing, feeding, wiping, cleaning. Then, what feels like just a few minutes later, it's lunch time. Then that cycle happens all over again. I try to quickly get through lunch before the occasional afternoon snack and then the grand finale.... dinner.

I can tell you almost every lunch consistently has me saying things like,
"Please sit on your bottom."
"Use two hands please."
"We are not doggies. Don't lick the table."
"Are you sure you need BOTH mayo and mustard on your sandwich?"

I tell you all these details not to seem discontent with our eating schedule, or discontent with life as a Mom AT ALL. I feel blessed every single day that I am home with my kids. And I realize the privilege and HUGE responsibility that comes with being a Mommy.

Yesterday, as I hurried though the normal lunch prep and was about to sit down across from my boys, I realized that in 5 short years,
 I will be sitting down to eat lunch all by myself.
That, dear readers, made this Momma's heart sad. I love seeing my kids grow, but at the same time, I hate it.

So as of today, I'm slowing down lunch.
So much happens at lunch, I can't afford to miss a thing. You see, the quietness, while chewing food, allows 4-year-old curious minds to come up will all kinds of good questions.
"Did the doctor use a machine to get the baby out of your tummy?"
"No one is supposed to see my panties, right?"
"What letter is this?" (As he air-draws a letter.)
Some questions can't even get verbalized because his mind is going faster than his mouth can keep up.

Lunch time is also my favorite time to go over Bible verses and songs. I love how amazing it is to Graham every time I know a Bible verse or song he learned in Church. "You know that one too?!?!"

Yesterday, I was reminded.....
It's okay to stand the whole lunch. Because every Mom knows, as soon as your bottom hits the chair, you are sure to hear a question like,
"Can I have more juice?" or "I need a map-kin." (I bet in 5 years, I'll gain some weight from all of the sitting.)

I realized it's okay to eat cold grilled cheese.

I realized it's okay to change a poopie diaper half way through eating. (It helps me skip that chocolate bar after lunch.)

I realized it's okay to hear the question, "Mommy, you are still eating lunch?" (10 minutes after all the kids have left the table.)

So from now on, I'm going to make sure the mayo and mustard are evenly spread on the bread and I'll shovel in the squash a little slower. Because in five years, those hungry little faces will be sitting across from someone else.

And I'm certainly going to enjoy wiping up all of the crumbs.
Crumbs mean that I spent lunch time with some very important people.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Salted Carmel Cupcakes

Salted Carmel Cupcakes...
this just screams Starbucks doesn't it?

I'm pretty sure coffee flavors were what my Starbucks-lovin' husband was thinking when he was parusing my 'sweet treats' Pinterest board for his birthday cupcakes and came across these. 
It took all of 1/1,00 of a second for him to decide as soon as he saw them.
(Do you remember the Double Chocolate Chip Frappuccino Cupcakes he requested two years ago?)

My first thought about the Salted Carmel Cupcake pick?
Good choice. 

And indeed, it was.

Amber over at CrazyLittleProjects shared this recipe and I am so glad she did.

I love that the cupcake recipe uses a box cake mix to make it a little easier. You could very easily substitute your favorite chocolate cake recipe.
I was a little nervous about the homemade carmel sauce but it came out perfect. (Confession: I did buy a jarred carmel sauce... you know, just in case. I've had a few very unsuccessful carmel attempts in the past!)

The only change I made was to use flaked sea salt rather than kosher salt to sprinkle on the cupcakes. I just love seeing those pretty little flakes sitting in the sticky carmel sauce. 

Flaked sea salt on dessert just happens to be my new favorite thing.
Especially when they are sprinkled on these cupcakes!

Happy 31st Birthday to my favorite person.
(I can't wait to see what cake he picks for next year!)

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Sriracha Dipping Sauce

Sometimes you just crave a grilled hamburger.
Well, if you could see the snow that is surrounding our grill, you'd know that a grilled hamburger is not currently possible.
This past weekend, I decided a pan 'grilled' hamburger would have to do until it warms up about 60 degrees outside. To make up for the fact that it wasn't going to have that
 'summer-hot-outside-Daddy-grilled-it' taste, I splurged on pretzel buns.
On my.
A good decision!!!!

I was excited to try a Sriracha dipping sauce I found over at The Hill Hangout.
It was EASY, super delicious and the perfect dipping sauce for our sweet potato fries!

All you have to do is mix the following ingredients:

1 cup of mayo
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon paprika
3 Tablespoons Sriracha
(More or less Sriracha depending on how spicy you want it!)

And to keep it real....
You know that 'OH NO' moment when you forget about the bread you are just going to 'lightly toast' under the broiler? 
Well, it's an even worse feeling when it's Pretzel Rolls you were so looking forward to!

It's great to have a husband that says, "It's okay, you can give me the most burnt one."
Thankfully, after some scraping, they were salvageable. 
And topped with some sauted onions and mushrooms, melted cheese and dipped in the yummy Sriracha dip, they were delicious!

Happy grilling (if you live in Florida). 
For everyone else, making this dipping sauce to accompany your hamburger and fries will help you forget that you weren't able to grill outside!