June 30, 2010

Baked Ziti

When I had Connor a year ago {{sniff, sniff}}, my sweet friend, Caroline, made this AMAZING meal for me!  My family loved it so much I got the recipe from her;)  It came from Cooks Illustrated...that is the best magazine!  I love it!  Anyway, I hope your family devours it like mine did!  Did I mention that my Noah HATES cheese and pasta?  Yeah...he devoured this and said I was the best "cooker" ever!  I just love him:)

Just check out all the gooey cheese!  There is a secret to get that!  I had no idea that I have been doing it wrong all these years!  Say good-bye to shredded mozzarella cheese and hello to DICED mozzarella!  Who would have thought?

Baked Ziti
By: Cooks Illustrated

1 pound whole milk cottage cheese or 1 % cottage cheese
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
3 oz. grated Parmesan (about 1 1/2 cups)
Table salt
1 lb. ziti or other short, tubular pasta
2 TBS extra-virgin olive oil
5 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 5 tsp.)
1 (28 oz.) can tomato sauce
1 (14.5 oz.) can diced tomatoes
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 c. plus 2 tsp. chopped fresh basil leaves
1 tsp. sugar
Ground black pepper
3/4 tsp. cornstarch
1 c. heavy cream
8 oz. low-moisture mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/4" pieces (about 1 1/2 c.)

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees.  Whisk cottage cheese, eggs, and 1 c. Parmesan together in medium bowl; set aside.  Bring 4 quarts of water to boil in large Dutch oven over high heat.  Stir in 1 TBS salt and pasta; cook, stirring occasionally, until pasta begins to soften but is not yet cooked through, 5-7 minutes.  Drain pasta and leave in colander (do not wash Dutch oven).

Meanwhile, heat oil and garlic in 12-inch skillet over medium heat until garlic is fragrant but not brown, about 2 minutes.  Stir in tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, and oregano; simmer until thickened, about 10 minutes.  Off heat, stir in 1/2 c. basil and sugar, then season with salt and pepper.  (You probably won't need extra salt)

Stir cornstarch into heavy cream in small bowl; transfer mixture to now-empty Dutch oven set over medium heat.  Bring to simmer and cook until thickened, 3-4 minutes.  Remove pot from heat and add cottage cheese mixture, 1 c. tomato sauce, and 3/4 c. mozzarella, then stir to combine.  Add pasta and stir to coat thoroughly with sauce.

Transfer pasta mixture to 9x13 inch baking dish and spread remaining tomato sauce evenly over pasta.  Sprinkle remaining 3/4 c. mozzarella and remaining 1/2 c. Parmesan over top.  Cover baking dish tightly with foil and bake for 30 minutes.

Remove foil and continue to cook until cheese is bubbling and beginning to brown, about 30 minutes longer.  Cool for 20 minutes.  Sprinkle with remaining 2 TBS basil and serve.

June 28, 2010

Milk and Cookies Party

My sweet little baby celebrated his FIRST birthday!!  I was so sad on that day!  I'm kind of in denial...it just flew by WAY to quickly for me:)  I found this DARLING party on A.Style blog and pretty much copied it.  I saw it and knew THAT was going to be Connor's birthday!!  I totally fell in love!  Now...it was about a 100 degrees outside, but thankfully it was at a covered pavillion and we had fans...but it was still HOT!  So hot that my cake melted when I cut into it:)  Note to self...when it is 100 degrees outside, DO NOT have the middle of the cake be chocolate mousse:)  Oh well, everyone was so filled with hot dogs, hamburgers and cookies, no one seemed to mind!  Here are some pics:

The whole table...milk is on the right in the Galvanized Bucket...too bad most of  the ice melted by the time the party started, otherwise it would have been raised higher and you could see it all:)

I was so happy with the way this turned out!  A.Style really is brilliant, such a cute idea for the cake!  You need to check out her ideas!  The cookies on top are brownies and then I just frosted them and put chocolate chips on them.

I don't know if you can tell...but I have cute little brown and white bags that guests took to fill them with cookies;)  I just got my Cricut and had little circles with either a "C" or a "1" on the bags.  

These were the take home gifts...I had to make them:)  I found little cookie jars at Hobby Lobby for .75 cents, covered them with a square of fabric, put a rubber band around them to make the fabric stay put, tied a ribbon on them with a little tag.  Thats it!  They took me about 10 minutes to do:)

There were 10 different kinds of cookies...probably about 25-30 dozen cookies!! Craziness!  A HUGE thank you to my Mom, Ben's Mom, my cousin Jennie and my sis-in-law Wendy for helping me!!  These were the kinds of cookies we had:

Raspberry Thumbprints
White Chocolate Lemon
Triple Chocolate
Chocolate Chip
Oatmeal Raisin
Peanut Butter Cup

June 25, 2010

A Sneak Peak:)

I have been so busy the last couple of days with a BIG event!  I have had a BLAST working on this!  I just couldn't wait to give you a little "sneak peak" on these things!!  Here you go...and make sure you try the recipe...it is my new favorite!!

So...what are your guesses...what is the BIG event?  What is my theme???  You will get the details on Monday!!!

Here is the recipe to these INCREDIBLE cookies!  I really wanted to eat like a million of them!!  This came from allrecipes.  I will give the recipe as is and then tell you what I did differently:

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cup Cookies

**1 c. butter, softened
3/4 c. creamy peanut butter
3/4 c. white sugar
**3/4 c. packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
2 1/3 c. flour
**1/3 c. cocoa powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 c. peanut butter chips (Reese's kind)
**10 Reese's Peanut Butter cups, cut into eighths...FROZEN

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large bowl, cream together the butter, peanut butter, white sugar, and brown sugar until smooth.  Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla.  Combine the flour, cocoa, and baking soda; stir into the peanut butter mixture.  Mix in the chocolate chips, peanut butter chips and peanut butter cups.  Drop by tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake for 8-10 minutes in preaheated oven.  Let cool for 1-2 minutes on sheet before removing, or they will fall apart.

***So for my changes...I used
1 c. butter crisco (or you can use 1/2 c. butter and 1/2 c. crisco)
1/4 c. dark brown sugar and 1/2 c. light brown sugar
I used NO cocoa powder
1 bag miniature Reese's PB cups, cut into fourths.  I only put 6 cups in the batter.  Also...FREEZE them before using them so they will keep their shape and its easier to cut them!

I did everything the directions say, BUT...I baked them for 7 minutes, put 2-3 Reese's on top and then baked 1 more minute.  So bake a total of 8 minutes.  They may seem undercooked (mine didn't), but they will stay super moist and not crunchy!

June 21, 2010

Laundry Room

Hello Everyone!  Can I first say THANK YOU for all the sweet comments I have been getting!  You all made me smile...especially since I don't get a whole lot of comments!  THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!!  I love you all!

I hope you all were able to have a fabulous Father's Day and I really hope you spoiled them:)  I feel like I have been MIA the past few weeks...things have been so busy! I thought I would have a nice lazy summer...boy was I WRONG! It has been really busy!  Oh well...I guess that will make the summer go by quickly??!!

On to more important things...like MAKEOVER MONDAY!!  This is from my darling cousin Carrie.  She needs help with her Laundry Room/Kitchen (you will see what I mean).  

This is what Carrie had to say...which made me laugh:

You said you want makeover Monday photos!  Well here's an adventure for you.

What do you do when your laundry room and your kitchen are THE SAME ROOM!?! 

The Pictures:

I have to say she did kind of stump me!!  I have been thinking about it for awhile and searching for pictures for the things I was thinking.  Here are a few things I came up with!  ALL pictures are courtesy of Better Homes and Gardens. 

This is one that I'm sure you thought of also.  You could attach a small rod UNDER your cabinets and put some drapes all around the area so it is completely hidden.  I would use rings so that it is easy to open and close.  A fun red and white stripe might be nice in your kitchen...I have seen these at Target.  BUT  I know that you sew, and it might be easier/cheaper to get the right amount of fabric and sew them...otherwise you will have to hem whatever you buy.

Now for this one...it is pretty much the same thing as above but you are taking the rod to the TOP and hiding everything, including the cabinets.  This would trick people into thinking that it is a window that you are hiding for privacy...you could even add a lamp in there to make it look like sun is coming through...TOTALLY KIDDING about the lamp:)

This is the closest picture I could find for what I was thinking...but you could get or make some screens to make it look like these cabinets!  I know you can easily make them...which might be good since you need such a specific width.  Here are a few different instructions: here, here, and here.  There are a MILLION how-to's you can do...some with fabric and some with window shutters...the possibilities are ENDLESS!

I hope that some of these ideas have helped you!  And PLEASE send pictures of what you end up doing! I will be anxious to see what you end up doing!

June 15, 2010

Girls Camp

Has anyone out there been wondering where I have been?  I hope someone has:)  I am going to my church's Girls Camp this week and I have been CRAZY busy getting things ready!  I leave tomorrow and thankfully just finished the last of my stuff!  I will start back up to my regular blogging next week:)

Here are a few things I wanted to share!!  Especially if you happen to have a "Wizard of Oz" theme for your Girls Camp!!

This is what I am giving my Secret Sister...(someone I get to give a gift to everyday:).  Idea came from Martha of course!  The tag says, "Enjoy your wicked treat!"  I stuck a bunch of candy in the bag.

Inside the wrapper are rice krispie treats...the Little Debbie brand because they are yellow and look like the yellow brick road.  Image came from my sister-in-law, Whitney...Thank you!!

These are Ding Dongs, of course...had to include this one!

I just finished frosting these bad boys...had to make 40 of them!  I am still waiting for the frosting to harden up a bit so I can put them in bags and tie them with a pretty red bow:)  The group I am over has claimed to be the "Red Slipper Group"...had to make these!

My camera died so I wasn't able to post the T-shirts I had to make and other gifts I have been working on!  Just wish me luck on being outside in 98-99 degree weather...It's going to be HOT!!  Oh...have I mentioned that I have to leave my baby behind for the first time {{sob, sob}}.  This may be hard for me!!

Until Monday...have a FABULOUS week!  

June 2, 2010

Wrap Towel

I am so EXCITED to share this tutorial with you!  Now...a for my model...he was kind enough to put this on for me and let me take pictures...as long as I didn't show his face:)  He will hate me when he gets older:)  Thank goodness he loves his mama!!

With the help of my friend Sharla we were able to figure out how to make this cute little wrap towel.  Now...I know you can get these at all the fun boutiques around...but why not save $30 and just make one yourself!?  I ended up making one for my sons teacher for a end of school gift...you will see it at the end:)  So...you ready for the tutorial???

fabric (8 x 45" piece)
First of all, you are going to cut a piece of fabric that is 8" wide and 45" long.  **This totally depends on the size of your towel, so cut the appropriate amount of fabric...You are going to fold over 1" on each side and iron it flat.  This part is really like making a baby burp cloth.  

You are going to have extra on both sides, which is what you want.  Fold it under so you don't see the raw edge and make sure there is about 2" shown on the other side of the towel.  Like below:

Pin the towel all the way around and top stitch the fabric on.

This is where you get creative...I wanted some other color so I added a cute red ribbon onto the edge of the fabric.  Just make sure you sew both sides of the ribbon.

This is now the finished back-side of the towel. Now you are going to take the top of the towel....the WHOLE length of the towel...and fold down 2 1/4" and pin it down.  Sew it.  Now you have this nice little whole that you need to pull your elastic through.  My elastic is 3/4" wide.  Take a pin and pin the elastic so you can easily pull it through.  When it is through you are going to get your velcro ready.  Cut a 4 1/2" piece and have the fuzzy side on the fabric part of the towel. 

The velcro starts at the end of the elastic...to the right.  Sew the velcro on top of the elastic...it is all very thick...you are sewing through both sides of the towel, velcro and elastic.  Now you need to sinch the elastic to the size that will fit.  My finished length is: 32".

Now cut a 4 1/2" piece of the rough part of the velcro and sew it on the front side of the towel at the top.  Again, you are going to sew it on top of the velcro...it ends up being flat under the velcro.  

See the rough part of the velcro to the right?  Thats how it should look:)  After you sew that on...YOU ARE DONE!  I think everyone needs one of these for the summer time when you are getting ready for the day!  Much cooler to put this on and do your hair and makeup!  I need to make myself one now!!

My cute model...shh...don't tell:)

The gift for my sons teacher...cute bag from Sam Moon, towel and Rice hot/cold pack (a tutorial for next week).  If you have questions...feel free to email me!