Friday, January 28, 2011

Feather Rolls/Buns

Today I want to share a wonderful whole wheat roll recipe that has been a family favorite for about 15 years!  Now, I don't claim that these are as light and wonderful as Sister Schubert's yeast rolls, but if you compare the ingredients, they are a whole lot healthier for you, and they taste great!!




Ideally, your rolls shouldn't be quite as dark as mine are in the picture above!  I forgot to turn down the oven after baking my buns and overbaked these a bit, but they were still very good!


Feather Rolls

10 or so cups of freshly milled whole wheat flour
2 to 3 TBSP instant yeast
1/2 cup nonfat dry milk powder (optional)
4 cups warm water
2/3 cup olive oil
1/2 too 2/3 cup honey
4 large eggs
4 teaspoons sea salt

Mix 5 cups flour, yeast and milk powder in large mixing bowl.  Add water, oil and honey.  Mix for 1 to 2 minutes with a dough hook.  Turn off mixer and let dough sponge for aboout 10 minutes.

Add eggs and salt.  Turn mixer back on and add flour one cup at a time, until dough begins to clean sides of bowl.  Knead on medium speed for 5-6 minutes.  Do not add too much flour!

Dough should be very soft and manageable.  Stiff, dry dough produces heavy, dry rolls.  If dough stiffens up while mixing, drizzle a little warm water over dough as it kneads. 

Dough may be used immediately, or covered and stored in the refrigerator for several days.

Oil hands and countertop and shape immediately into rolls, bread sticks, hamburger buns, etc.

Let rolls rise until light and bake at 350 degrees F for 15 to 20 minutes.


In addition to my pan of dinner rolls, I also made two dozen hamburger buns, which were a big hit with my family!





For hamburger buns, I just rolled out a portion of the dough to about 1/2" to 3/4" thick, and cut into rounds with the lid to a wide-mouthed canning jar. I let rise about 15 or 20 minutes and baked at 425 degrees F for 12 to 15 minutes. Then, I brushed the tops with butter.  When cool, I cut them in half and used for my yummy crockpot sloppy joes


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

I {Heart} Nutella


Ever since being introduced to Nutella hazelnut spread this past year, I have loved the stuff!  It is so Creamy and Delicious!  Unfortunately, it is neither budget-friendly nor waistline-friendly, so I don't eat it often.  However, when I saw a recipe online for Nutella Brownies Bites, I knew I had to give it a try!!!

These are so EASY to make!  Just mix together:

1 cup Nutella
2 eggs

Add:

10 TBSP all-purpose flour

Mix well, scraping the bowl as needed. 
Spoon mixture into 2 mini-muffin tins, sprayed generously with cooking spray.

Bake at 350 F for 10-12 minutes. 

Let cool and sprinkle with powdered sugar (optional).

Enjoy!



I'm thinking these would be perfect to make for Valentine's Day!  :)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Essential Oils

Do you use essential oils in your home?   If so, what do you use them for?  Cleaning?  Healing?  Scenting your home? 

I admit to knowing next to nothing about essential oils, but I'm interested in learning more.  That is why I was excited to discover this new blog -- Common Scents Mom.  

Click here to learn about an exciting give-away!  By entering, you have the chance to win the following therapeutic grade essential oils: Lavender, Peppermint, and Lemon.   According to Stacy, each of these aromatic oils has multiple uses!  I would love to win this giveaway and learn how to use the essential oils!  How about you?

Christmas in January


Thank you Ashlyn for the fun package you sent us!!  :)

The Santa hats will be Awesome to wear next year when we are out spreading Christmas cheer

Tay loved the Gamecock jammie pants and Bethany likes her "running shorts!"




And of course, the coffee for Joe was Perfect!!!




Thanks for your thoughtfulness!  :)  We love you and miss you!!!!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Axis and Allies

After my last post, one reader asked about Axis and Allies.

Axis and Allies is a popular series of board games involving strategy and based on World War II.  About ten years ago, my older sons started playing Axis and Allies: Europe, which focused on the European theater of World War II, followed by Axis and Allies: Pacific, which was centered around the Pacific theater.  They would play for days!!

Recently, I have seen a renewed interest in these games by my younger set of boys, spurred on by the fact that two updated games were released in 2009 and 2010 -- Axis and Allies: Europe 1940 and Axis and Allies: Pacific 1940.  Chris received Axis and Allies: Europe 1940 for his birthday in October.  Then, he and Luke pooled some Christmas money to order the Pacific version in December.  They have been playing these games separately or together ever since!

According to Wikipedia, "The 11th A&A board game in the series, Axis & Allies: Europe 1940 was released in August, 2010. The game can be combined with Pacific 1940 to form a Global game of World War II on a combined 175x80 cm (70" x 32") map. All nine major powers of World War II, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, the United States and the ANZAC forces, are represented in the combined global game with unique units and colors. To streamline the game and correct balance issues, Global 1940 is under revision and a new ruleset will be published in 2011.   Axis & Allies is not a strict historical wargame, due to its streamlining for ease of play and balancing so that both sides have a chance to win. For instance, the economic model is simplistic, with each territory producing a number of Industrial Production Certificates, (IPCs) good toward the purchase of new units. Moreover, the game is supposed to start in the spring of 1942, but Japan is immediately in position to attack Hawaii again, while Germany is pressed well into the Soviet Union with an initially superior force. If the game were truer to history, the Axis empires would be at their apex in 1942, about to be pushed back by the Allies."

Well, this was probably more than you ever wanted to know about Axis and Allies!  However, I will add that these games are a painless way to teach history and geography to your boys.  My guys all know way more about WWII than I do, primarily from playing these games and other war games.  Risk is about as far as I've gone with war games!  :)


This photo shows Luke and his best friend, Jase, playing Axis and Allies in our old house shortly before we moved.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Conquering the Final Frontier!!

After moving to our new house in October, I kept myself Busy unpacking boxes, organizing and decorating the main living areas of our house.  Once we got settled in a bit and everything was livable, I turned the bulk of my attention to homeschooling, cooking for my crowd, and daily maintenance.  Then the Holidays hit, and it pretty much took all my energy and focus to navigate November and December with some degree of dignity and grace!  ;)

During that time, our huge bonus room upstairs became a dumping ground for everything we didn't know what to do with!   Think boxes and boxes of books and videotapes and DVDs and computer games and toys and old school papers and files, etc!!!  Plus, any odd pieces of furniture we didn't have room for downstairs.  Add in some dirty laundry left there by my not-so-neat boys, some empty gatorade bottles and cups, partially filled bags of trash, and many other stray items and you are beginning to get the picture!  It was a Ginormous Mess!!!!

In fact, when I entered the room, it was just too overwhelming!  I had no idea where to start to tackle the mess. . . . and would just walk right back out in despair!

See for yourself (as I throw my reputation totally to the wind) . . .





 




You sort of thought I was exaggerating, didn't you??


big sigh.




Yes, it was just as bad as I said!  And would probably still look like a landfill today, if it weren't for Martin Luther King, Jr.  . . . and my wonderful daughter, Tiffany!


The MLK holiday meant that Tiffany didn't have to leave to drive back home until Monday afternoon, and because she is such an Awesome Daughter and an Organizing Queen, she rolled up her sleeves and helped me dive into the mess.  She was overwhelmed too, but she said we could tackle it together, and we did!!

Thanks to the Draft plus some brave Volunteers, we soon had an Army of helpers, which helped the job go faster!

Still, it was a BIG job!  I worked in there practically all day Monday, and for several hours yesterday with Chris and then a couple more hours today!!!  There are still a couple more boxes to sort through  . . . but I'm almost done, and I can't wait to show you the pictures of what was accomplished!


Here is a before/after picture of the huge linen closet that we turned into a storage closet for games and my set of old BJ HomeSat DVDs.



I have Chris and Joe to thank for its transformation!  Didn't they do a good job organizing it??


Here is the corner with my teacher supply cabinet and the little reading nook that I created.  My boys laugh at me, but I love to create cozy little reading areas, and hope that it will encourage these boys to pick up a book -- instead of a mouse, a remote or a nunchuk!  :)



Beside the reading corner is our old breakfast table, which now makes a great place to do homework and/or play games.  Currently, it is the "Axis and Allies table," as the boys keep a game underway for days at a time!




This picture looking straight ahead shows some of the bookcases full of our many books, the sitting area for "chilling" or watching movies, and the flat screen TV which is also used for playing Wii games.  On top of the bookcases you can see the many chess trophies won by the three oldest boys back when we lived in SC and they competed in Scholastic Chess Tournaments.



Here is an inside look at my teacher cabinet.  After getting everything unpacked and organized, I see that I won't need to worry about catching any of the back-to-school sales next year!  It appears that I have a lifetime supply of notebook paper and multi-colored folders!



Another view of this room, which is now very inviting!


Can you believe the transformation??



I will end with this priceless picture -- Luke helping Bethany with her worktext page!!  Oh, how I love to see brotherly love in action!!!!   :)


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A Word of My Own

I love words. 

I also love planning, setting goals, pursuing dreams.

Therefore, I read with great interest when some of my favorite bloggers selected a Word of the Year for 2011.  Ann shared her heart and her word here.  Michelle shared her word(s) here.   Joy revealed her word here.  And Karen explained her word in this post.


I really wanted my own defining word for this new year, a way to set the next 365 days apart.  So, I thought, and pondered, and tried on different words for size -- but they all seemed forced.  I didn't want it to just be my word -- but His Word for me.   So, I waited and prayed . . . and even gave up hope of having a word of my own.

Then, it happened.  On His Day, He gave me a word to cling to for this new year:

Overcome -- nikao in the Greek, meaning "to conquer, to carry off the victory, come off victorious."




This word jumped out at me when our pastor was sharing a message from Revelation on the Rewards for Those Who Overcome.  While some of these rewards were very familiar, there were some I had never noticed before!  Check them out for yourself by looking up the following verses and taking note of the rewards mentioned in each passage:

Revelation 2:7
Revelation 2:11
Revelation 2:17
Revelation 2:26
Revelation 3:5
Revelation 3:12
Revelation 3:21

As you will learn from these verses (if you have an "ear to hear"), many start out following Jesus, but it is only those who endure to the end who are truly Saved.  The others may have responded intellectually or emotionally to the Gospel -- but they did not have a heart change.  It takes a spiritual "open-heart surgery" to truly become a child of God!!

But fear splashes cold in the face -- will I be able to endure to the end?  What if persecution arises?  Will I endure all manner of suffering for His sake??


The key to overcoming is revealed in Revelation 2:11:

"And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony, and they loved not their lives unto the death."

I am reminded of Jim Elliot who said, "He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose."



I will be memorizing and meditating on Revelation 2:11 throughout the coming year, and hopefully I will better grasp the secrets of Overcoming.


I looked up all the verses in the Bible that contained the word overcome (Strongs # 3528).  Here are some of the ones that stood out for me to consider this year:

John 16:33 -- "These things I have spoken unto you that in me ye might have peace.  In the world ye shall have tribulation, but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world."

Romans 12:21 -- "Be not overcome of evil; but overcome evil with good."

1 John 4:4 -- "Ye are of God little children and have overcome them, because greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world."

1 John 5:4-5 -- "For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.  Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God."

Revelation 21:7 -- "He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son."


In the weeks and months ahead, I hope to share some of the things that God enables me to Overcome this year.

What about you?  Did you choose a word to focus on this year??

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Milestone Mastered!

Tiffany came home this weekend so we could celebrate a major milestone in her life -- the completion of her master's degree!  ~~\o/~~

She has undergraduate degrees in Music and in Spanish, but did not get certified to teach, so after securing a job as an elementary school teacher, she began to work on her MAT online.  It has been an extremely Demanding two years and she has survived a super-human schedule to reach this point.  This past fall was especially grueling, as she has been teaching her third grade class, plus all of her school's elementary electives -- Music, Spanish, Art and Computer, while also "student teaching" and finishing the requirements for her master's program.   On top of that, she was continuing her piano studies with a teacher that lives two hours away, while also serving as a church pianist.  The biggest understatement of the year is to say that she has been one BUSY gal!!


So, we are all relieved to see her workload being eased and her graduate studies completed!!!  Of course, this accomplishment called for a special celebration!!

On Saturday afternoon, Alan took us down to the Riverfront area of Savannah, where we walked along River Street, exploring some of the shops, and enjoying the sights, smells, and tastes of this unique location.  I can't begin to capture the appeal of this area with a few snapshots, but perhaps the following pictures will give you some idea. 

In the first picture, you can see Paula Deen's famous restaurant   -- "Lady and Sons."



One of several street musicians:



I love the cobblestone streets!




The graduate!



Strolling along . . .



One of the candy kitchens . . .



G.R.I.T.S. = Girls Raised in the South!





Alan let each of the children pick 1/4 pound of candy from the candy barrels!





He managed to locate every place that was giving out free samples of pecan pralines!



(Too bad blogger doesn't have a scratch and sniff feature!!)  The pralines were still warm and literally melted in your mouth!



Daddy and daughter moment . . .


Joe, Tiffany and Hannah . . .

Another street musician . . .



After working up an appetite at the Riverfront, we went to The Olive Garden for a special dinner.  Unfortunately, we had to wait an hour and a half for a table!!!  Can you believe it??




By that time we were Really Hungry!~!  Fortunately, it didn't take long to receive our bottomless salad and bread sticks!! 



And our entrees soon followed.  Tiffany and I both ordered this dish -- Lasagna Rollata al Forno.  Yummo!  :)




Congratulations Tiffany -- we are so proud of you!!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Our "Snow" Day

Much of the southeast is in the grips of a Severe Winter Storm at this hour.  A foot of snow blankets the upstate of South Carolina, where my parents and my daughter, Ashlyn, live.  Much to the dismay of my children, their sister and their friends from SC are sledding, snowballing, and frolicking in the playground of snow, then warming up by the fire with mugs of steaming hot cocoa . . . while they have to do a normal day of schoolwork. Even Tiffany got to enjoy a "Snow Day" off from school due to a rare ice storm in southwest Georgia.  Here on the coast, we did not get treated to a blanket of the white, fluffy stuff that delights children and snarls traffic.  Instead, we received a damp day of plan old Cold, Relentless Rain.

To help ease the disappointment of  "missing out on all the fun," I decided to create a few "snow day" activities for my poor winter-deprived children!  :)

No, I did not give them the day off from school, much to their chagrin!  But after their schoolwork was done, I had a surprise waiting for them . . . .

We made Snowflake Tortillas!

First, we folded a tortilla in half two to three times and cut shapes out of the edges -- just like you make paper snowflakes.



This is what they looked like opened out:


Then, we spread the tortillas with butter:



And sprinkled them with cinnamon and sugar:



And then we baked them at 375 degrees F for about 5 minutes until golden brown and crispy. 




I also served them steaming cups of hot chocolate. . .




And made them a batch of cookies . . .




And let them have extra time to play Axis and Allies!


I also decided it was a perfect day for a pot of hearty soup to warm the soul, and pulled out this recipe for Looney Meatball Soup from my friend, Heidi.  You'll Love this recipe!




2 carrots, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 zucchini or green pepper, chopped
olive oil
2 cups V-8 juice
4 cups beef broth
1/2 cup small pasta or broken spaghetti
1 batch Looney meatballs (see below)

In a large dutch oven, brown the vegetables for 5 minutes in olive oil.
Add the V-8 juice and beef broth and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer.
Stir in cooked meatballs.
About fifteen minutes before serving, add pasta.
When pasta is done, serve with grated Parmesan cheese sprinkled on top.



Meatballs:

1 pound lean ground beef
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 cup bread crumbs (plain or Italian seasoned)
2 eggs
1-2 TBSP water
1 clove garlic, minced
1 TBSP minced dried onion flakes

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Mix ingredients together in a large bowl with hands, adding water as needed to get the right consistency.  Form into 1 inch meatballs.  Place on a baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until browned but still tender, at 375 degrees F.  (The best way to test for doneness is to sample one!)

Note:  This can be doubled, tripled, quadrupled, etc.  Cook and freeze the extras in a ziploc bag and use for soup, spaghetti sauce, etc. as needed.


I doubled the soup and meatballs for my family, so if you have a large family be sure to make plenty!!
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