Spicy Ranch BLT Braid

Well hello there!! I apologize for the lack of posts last week.

Gabriella and I went up to Jacksonville to visit my parents and Craig was actually out of town for the while week for a work conference. I figured while he was gone it would be a perfect time to visit my family & friends in my hometown.

It was such a nice time, and Gabriella did AWESOME! Remember how I was just talking about all of the attachment issues coming back? Well, much to my surprise she did GREAT with my parents and friends. My Mom watched her for me for a bit one day so that I could shower, and she was fine. The second she saw me though she started crying for me. But the whole ‘out of sight, out of mind’ is key for her.

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LOVE this little chick!

It truly is AMAZING how fast she is growing. My Dad kept commenting on how she would be walking in no time. A few times he would look at her and gasp and I was like what is going on??!?! He thought for sure she was about to start walking! Smile 

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She LOVES her walker, which is above. (please notice those chunky thighs. O.M.G. I just can’t get enough of them!) She constantly wants to walk walk walk. No more stationary toys- I actually packed up her jumperoo, exersaucer, and another walker that you actually put her in. She does not like anything that confines her, girlfriend likes her independence. Winking smile

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Seriously, HOW is that my LITTLE girl!?!?! She looks HUGE! Ahhh, slow down Gabriella, SLOW DOWN!!

Anyways, while I was home I got to thinking of some of my favorite meals that my Mom used to make when I was growing up. One of them happened to be this vegetable chicken braid. It was just a mix of vegetables, chicken & spices wrapped up in crescent rolls. It was delicious- just the mixture always tasted so good and I always loved learning that was what we were having for dinner.

I was craving that thee other night, but wanted to kind of mix things up. After looking on Pinterest for a bit, I got an idea and went from there.

With it I created….

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Spicy Ranch BLT Braid

(adapted from this recipe)

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Yield: 4 slices

Ingredients:

1 cup chopped cooked chicken

1 cup shredded 2% cheddar cheese

3/4 cup crumbled cooked turkey bacon

3/4 cup 2% Plain Chobani

1 package Spicy Ranch seasoning (1 oz. package)

1 package reduced fat refrigerated crescent rolls (Pillsbury 8 oz.)

shredded lettuce

diced tomatoes

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Instructions

  1. In a mixing bowl, stir together the chicken, cheese, turkey bacon, Greek yogurt and Ranch seasoning. Set aside.
  2. Open the crescent rolls. Lay out the dough on a non stick baking sheet. Press together all the seams. Cut small strips 1 1/2 inches apart along both sides. Leave about a 3 inch row in the center that is uncut. Spread the chicken mixture down the center evenly.

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    3.  Cross the strips over each other in a braid pattern. Press the end together. Bake at 375* for 20 minutes.

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    4. Top the braid with lettuce and tomato before serving. Cut into 8 pieces.

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Instead of using mayonnaise like the recipe my Mom has, I subbed in Greek yogurt. I used 2% Chobani, but I’m sure you could also use fat free. I just thought the extra milk fat may make it a bit creamer.

The recipe says it makes enough for four…well, I guess that depends on how hungry you are. Craig and I polished off everything but a tiny little slice. We both really enjoyed it, and it was one of those meals that doesn’t leave you feeling stuffed.

Quick, easy meal for the WIN!

Enjoy your Monday! Gabriella and I have some big plans this week, and we are very much looking forward to it! Open-mouthed smile

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Banana Cream Bread

Good Morning!

Hard to believe the weekend has already come & gone. It went way too quickly. I actually had to work most of the weekend, to play ‘catch up,’ because I wasn’t able to do much during the week. This past week was pretty rough with Gabriella, and I tie it mainly to teething. I feel bad, I really wish I could help her because I know she has to be in pain.

One thing that kind of caught me off guard though is that she is kind of going through a regression. We got over the ‘only Mommy can hold me or be around me’ phase about a month or so ago….or so I thought. It’s baaaaaaaaaaack!

She only wants to be around me, or have me hold her. Most of the time she won’t even go to Craig, well I take that back, she will go to him, but only if she can see me. If I’m out of the room she has a break down. Just to further explain how much the attachment phase has come back, I can’t even take a shower or bath without her. She actually crawled into the shower with me while I had her playing on the floor. The second she saw me, she came right in (the door was open of course- I have my eye on her the entire time) WITH her clothes & diaper on. I just had to laugh! She looked up at me like, ‘oh hey Mom! I just wanted to get cleaned up too.’ Love that little girl & I love how much she makes me laugh.

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Sometimes it’s hard though, because I really can’t get any help. I just remind myself that she won’t be this little for long, and it’s actually pretty cute HOW much she wants to be with me. And one of my VERY FAVORITE things is that when she goes to look for me if I am out of the room, is that she heads straight to the kitchen! LOVE that!! She knows how much her Mommy likes to cook.

The other day I had a bunch of super ripe bananas. (YUCK!) I always buy a ton because Gabriella will eat them too- especially in her morning oatmeal. Her favorite breakfast right now is oatmeal with chia seeds, mashed banana and a little bit of YoBaby banana smoothie mixed in. It’s quite tasty, I must say. She has good taste! Smile

I also had one of my very favorite packages arrive in the same day.

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Makes my day when you see this arrive on your porch! Chobani is my very favorite yogurt company, not only for their delicious yogurt, but also because they have one of the VERY BEST customer service teams. I love how they instantly respond to comments on any social media and always want to make the consumers happy! You don’t see that too often these days.

When I opened up the box I happily found a TON of yogurt!

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0% Vanilla, 0% Plain & 2% Plain. I really like the new labeling for the vanilla! The plain varieties are PERFECT substitutions for so much like sour cream, heavy cream, oil, butter, mayonnaise, and cream cheese.

Once I saw that I had over ripe bananas and a new shipment of Chobani, my mind got to work & I decided to make quick bread, because that’s what over ripe bananas are best for. Smile

One of my favorite desserts is actually banana pudding, or banana cream pie. NOTHING is better than homemade banana pudding with fresh cream, bananas & vanilla wafers. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. I wanted to re-create that same flavor, but in bread form. That is how this recipe came to be- Banana Cream Bread.

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Banana Cream Bread

(adapted from this recipe)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek Yogurt (I used 0% Chobani)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cup all purpose flour  
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 large ripe bananas, mashed (the riper the better)
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans, divided

Directions:

  • In a large bowl, cream butter, and sugar until fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time. Add Greek yogurt and vanilla; mix well.
  • Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon; stir into creamed mixture just until moistened. Fold in mashed banana and 1/4 cup nuts.
  • Pour into a greased 8-in. x 4-in. loaf pan. Sprinkle with remaining nuts. Bake at 350° for 65-70 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes; remove from pan to a wire rack to cool completely. Yield: 1 loaf.

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The addition of the Greek yogurt gives the bread a nice flavor, and adds in the ‘cream’ flavor without the added calories & fat of REAL cream.

The house had such a nice smell while it was baking, and of course I could barely wait for it to cool before slicing it. So I had to cut a few slices since the first couple crumbled, which meant I had to eat them. Smile

I know that there are THOUSANDS of banana bread recipes, but I guarantee you this one will not leave you disappointed!

I know it’s hard to think about, but tell me your favorite part of Monday.
Mine is that it’s long run day!! I truly enjoy starting the week off with a long run- usually 12-13 miles, just depends on how my legs feel…and if my child will continue to nap Winking smile

If you eat Chobani, what’s your favorite flavor?

QUICK Dinner: Greek Tortellini Salad

Who doesn’t love a quick & easy meal? Being a Mom I LOVE them, but not just Moms’ need quick and easy meals. I know how much I valued an easy meal that I could throw together after a stressful, busy work day. We all have those CRAZY days where the thought of making dinner sounds like absolute torture.

I love those meals in which you usually have all of the ingredients in your kitchen. Can’t beat not having to run to the grocery store on your way home or in the middle of the day. Although I cannot tell a lie, I enjoy just browsing the aisles…at least I used to. Before Gabriella. Winking smile If she is being a good girl, sometimes she will sit in the cart with me for a while before getting to be little Miss Fussypants.

Oh gosh, yesterday she was TERRIBLE. I mean TERRIBLE with a capital T. But I blame myself, I wrote about how wonderful she was yesterday…and then CRAZY lady showed up. EEK! No more good talks about Gabriella for a while. I would like to save what little sanity I have left. Winking smile

Without further a do, I present you one of the quickest meals…EVER!

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Ingredients:

-1/2 package of frozen fully cooked tortellini (most frozen packages are 19oz. – that was the size I used)

-1 tsp minced garlic

-1 tsp salt

-1/2 tsp black pepper

-3/4 cup feta (I used tomato & basil flavor)

-5-6 fresh basil leaves, diced (or 1/2 tsp dried)

-15 oz. can cannellini beans, drained & rinse

-1 cup diced tomato

-Fresh spinach (I used baby spinach)

Directions:

1. Cook tortellini according to package.

2. While you are waiting for the water to boil, and then the tortellini to cook, heat a skillet over medium high heat. Spray with cooking spray & add garlic, salt, pepper, feta, basil & beans to pan.

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3. Cook for about 2 minutes, or until feta starts to melt. Then add diced tomatos.

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4. Cook for another two minutes & add cooked tortellini.

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5. Serve atop fresh spinach & ENJOY!!

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Did you notice that piece of bread in the first picture?? I MADE it!

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I am on a ROLL (pun intended Winking smile ) with making homemade bread. I actually really kind of love it. There is really nothing better than pulling out a nice big batch of fresh bread from your oven. I can’t even tell you how quickly the first loaf was devoured by Craig and I.

This time I decided to make ‘copycat’ Macaroni Grill bread. I don’t know if you have ever been to a Macaroni Grill, or if there is one near you, but it is some of the BEST bread! I think Panera may just have my #1 spot for favorite fresh bread.

But let’s be honest, one of the best parts of going to Macaroni Grill is eating plates & plates of their bread. By the time I get my entrée I’m stuff to the gills of bread…which I why I typically order a small salad. I’d rather fill up on bread. Carb-a-holic anyone?! Smile

So when I found a recipe for a knock off of Macaroni Grill’s bread, I was ALL OVER it.

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If you decide to try this recipe, I would just suggest increasing the amount of salt (to maybe 2 tsp- with more sprinkled on top) & the rosemary. (to about 3 tbsp)

Someone else, besides Craig & I, couldn’t keep her hands off of it either.

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We won’t mention any names though Winking smile

Have a wonderful Thursday! I’m hoping for a happier Gabriella today, especially since we are get to see our friends today. YAY for Thursdays- one of my favorite days of the week! Open-mouthed smile

Favorite quick dinner?? Feel free to link away, I could use some more quick meals in my rotation.

Favorite place to get fresh bread?? I think my top HAS to be Panera.

Big Step In Parenting

Last night I was so exhausted that the thought of writing a post was out of the question. We are all allowed those nights, right?? Smile I really have no idea why I was so tired, (well ok maybe it was the 13 miles I did…I’m insane- I know!) but it just hit me like a ton of bricks.

Anyways, back to regular posting today!

So I wanted to talk about HOW MUCH friends mean to me. I know it may sound silly, but I really can’t tell you enough how much my friends have been there for me. It’s been an interesting month- lots of both ups and downs. But what helped get through the not so good moments was the support from friends.

I know when I first had Gabriella my Mother in Law very much encouraged me to try to find some other Moms in the area. Not just so that we could have play dates & talk about our crazy kids but also for the support they offer. Also for the advice and relatable stories that they have- makes you feel like your child really isn’t all that crazy. Winking smile

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I have been loving that Gabriella is getting more socialized. Honestly the past two months she has changed SO MUCH! We have play dates every week, and she is friends with one of the neighbor’s kids as well- who she sees every day. (His Mom & I go walking in the afternoon with the kids) She used to really only let Craig or I hold her, and at one point (sometimes even now) she only lets me hold or play with her.

But since being around other children & babies, she is little miss social butterfly! Even my Mom made a comment while we were in Jacksonville as to how much she has changed. That she was completely fine with playing and I didn’t have to be right next to her all the time. My Mom & Dad were able to play with her and they enjoyed their time together. It was really sweet!

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This past weekend was a new step in our world as parents. Craig and I were invited to a cookout at a friend’s house. It started around 4pm, and we were planning to leave around 7/ 7:30pm in order to get Gabriella to bed. Well, while I was getting all of her stuff together (isn’t it AMAZING how such a little person requires SO.MUCH.STUFF?!) I threw in her PJ’s, so that we could get her all ready for bed before getting her in the car.

Well we decided to try something new. Our friends also have kids. So they had everything we needed. A pack n’ play, a sound machine, and a quiet room. Can you say perfect?!! Another reason you have to love friends with kids- they understand what you are going through and tell you NOT to apologize.

Craig & I wanted to stay for a bit to hang out with everyone, since we really don’t get to do that often and we were having a GREAT time.

ANYWAYS, to make a long story short, Gabriella did WONDERFUL!!! She was able to sleep in the pack n play until we were ready to leave. We actually stayed longer than expected (after midnight…OMG…who are we!?! Winking smile ), and I ended up just nursing her back to sleep when we got home.

It was SO nice to know that we can actually DO THINGS! We can go to other people’s houses, and enjoy ourselves. I know that sounds SO silly, but it really was a HUGE step. I was nervous to take her out of her element, but she did better than expected. That’s why half of the time I feel like I’m the one that has issues instead of Gabriella Winking smile I just need to trust in her, girlfriend knows how to impress her Momma!

And one way to win over all of your friends’ hearts, just in case your child is a crazy person is to make them Better than Crack Brownies! You gotta be prepared, people! Open-mouthed smile

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I have made these before for my family in Maryland, and they were a hit there. With the ingredients, you CANNOT go wrong!

Better-Than-Crack Brownies

(Copied DIRECTLY from How Sweet Eats)

1 batch brownies (boxed mix or oooey gooey brownies)

1/2 cup salted peanuts (if don’t have salted, add sea salt)

1 cup chopped Reese’s peanut butter cups

1 1/2 cup milk chocolate chips

1 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

1/2 tablespoon butter

1 1/2 cups Rice Krispies Cereal

Mix brownies according to directions, and bake for 20-25 minutes in a 9 x 13 baking dish. Remove and top with peanuts and peanut butter cups, and bake for 4-6 minutes more.

While they are finishing baking, melt chocolate chips, peanut butter and butter. Stir in cereal. Remove brownies from oven and evenly pour chocolate mixture over top.

Refrigerate for 2 hours before serving.

DELICIOUS!!

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I know it sounds sad but I feel like it was a big step in our ‘parenting life.’ Smile The fact that we know she can sleep OTHER places, not just her crib, is HUGE.

Happy Hump Day Open-mouthed smile 

Have you tried these brownies??? PLEASE DO!!

Parents: Did you have this same issue? Was it a big deal when you realized you could actually ENJOY yourselves rather than adjusting to your child’s routine?

Red Velvet Cheesecake

If you follow me on Instagram (hollynotarange), you know that I spent my weekend in the kitchen. My favorite place to be!

I don’t know if I have mentioned it on here before, but I actually have my own baking company. (VERY small!- and I just do stuff in my personal kitchen) I don’t advertise, everything is by word of mouth. The way I actually got started was just by sending food into Craig’s work. Whenever we had leftover sweets, I would send them along with him just so that they weren’t in the house. Whenever there are sweets here I found them hard to resist, so I’d rather get them out! Winking smile

Anyways, a couple of years ago Craig’s group asked if they could just pay me to bake a bunch of stuff for their Christmas party, that way they didn’t have to worry about making or buying anything. Once I did that, I had people ask me if I had a company and if I did if they could order stuff from me. It made me so happy to hear that my baked goods were getting rave reviews and that people want to hire me to bake for them. SIGN ME UP!!

…and so that is the story of how ‘Hollywood Sweets’ came to be!

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(the black lines are personal information, they don’t actually look like that Winking smile )

Craig is the one who thought of a name for my business, and he also coined the tag line ‘sweet treats for your sweet tooth.’ Quite a creative husband that I have. Smile I ordered some business cards and he gave them to people at his office that asked for my information, and I’ll leave them on community billboards occasionally just to see if I can also get some business that way.

On Friday I got a call requesting baked goods- she wanted something with red velvet (but not an actual red velvet cake) & something chocolate. So I got to work thinking of different recipes, and options for her to choose from.

She ended up going with Red Velvet Cheesecake & Salted Caramel Brownies.

I got the cheesecake recipe from Food Network, and then decided to make a cream cheese frosting for the top.

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Red Velvet Cheesecake
(recipe from here)

Ingredients:

For the crust:

1 1/2 cups finely crushed chocolate wafer cookies (I used Chocolate Teddy Grahams)
5 tbsp. unsalted butter
1/3 cup sugar
pinch of salt

    For the filling:

    4 8-ounce packages cream cheese, softened
    1 1/4 cups sugar
    1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
    1 tsp vanilla extract
    2 tablespoons all purpose flour
    4 large eggs
    1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
    1 teaspoon red food coloring

    Directions

    Make the crust: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Mix the cookie crumbs, melted butter, sugar and salt in a bowl. Press into the bottom and 1 inch up the sides of a 9-inch springform pan. Put the pan on a baking sheet and bake until set, about 10 minutes. Let cool completely.

    Make the filling: Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees F. Beat the cream cheese, sugar, lemon juice and vanilla in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until smooth, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the flour, then beat in the eggs one at a time. Transfer 2 cups batter to a bowl; stir in the cocoa powder and food coloring. Pour the red batter into the crust, then pour the white batter on top. Using a spoon, pull some of the red batter up from the bottom of the cake and swirl. Bake until the edges are set but the center is still wobbly, about 1 hour, 20 minutes.

    Turn off the oven but keep the cake inside to cool, 20 minutes. Run a knife around the edge of the pan (don’t remove the springform side), then transfer to a rack to cool. Refrigerate at least 4 hours before slicing.

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    Once the cake was completely cooled (I let in cool in the refrigerator over night), I decided to frost it. It was for a birthday, and I hated that it cracked. (Even though a lot of commenters said the same thing happened to them- they said thankfully it doesn’t effect the taste Smile )

    Cream Cheese Frosting

    Ingredients:

    4 oz. cream cheese (1/2 of a block)
    4 oz. unsalted butter (1/2 a stick)
    2 cups powdered sugar
    1 tsp. vanilla

    Directions:

    Beat the cream cheese & butter together in a mixing bowl- I put it on medium high speed and let it mix for about 2 minutes. After two minutes, turn the mixer down to low & mix in the powdered sugar one cup at a time. Once combined, beat in the vanilla. I then just let it mix on high for about a minute so that it was nice & fluffy.

    I took half of the frosting & added about one teaspoon red food coloring to it and left the other half the original color. (white)

    I put both frostings in sandwich size ziplock bags, and snipped the corners to create pastry bags. Then I got to frosting- I did one ring of white, then one ring of red- alternating until the cake was covered.

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    I took a knife & ran it through the frosting- about 1/2 inch apart in horizontal lines. I ran it through one way, and then through the other way (hopefully that makes sense) to create a swirled pattern.

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    ^love how you can see the layers- with the chocolate crust, cream cheese filling & then frosting.

    I have to admit, I tried a tiny bit of the cream cheese filling, I always like to make sure things taste ok before I sell them. I do NOT even like cheesecake, at all, but obviously I could tell if it tasted bad. You guys, the filling in this is BEYOND delicious! I mean it was the PERFECT filling, in my opinion, not too cheesy or dense, but fluffy and subtle. I cannot wait to make just a standard cheesecake with this filling, my sister (who is OBSESSED with cheesecake) will LOVE it.

    As for the Salted Caramel Brownies, I used a recipe I found on Smitten Kitchen.

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    One thing I learned is that making homemade caramel is HARD. …and frustrating! I don’t know if there is another recipe that I could follow when making it that makes it a bit easier, but I was this close to throwing in the towel on these.

    I was able to use about half of the caramel I made (the other half had chunks of sugar in it- which happened AFTER I had melted the sugar), but one thing I can tell you is that homemade caramel is 1000 times better than store bought.

    I don’t normally like caramel, or things with caramel, but I had to try a piece of this just to make sure it was edible. Winking smile Oh my goodness it was SO good- so creamy & just melts in your mouth. I suppose all of that time making it was worth it!

    These brownies were actually for an engagement party, so I got to work decorating.

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    I couldn’t find my pastry bag for the life of me, so the letters came out a bit thicker than I wanted, but you gotta do what ya gotta do! Winking smile 

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    The little heart brownies were double chocolate brownies, just to add some variety.

    Now we have leftover brownies, from the pan that I was cutting the hearts out of, and we have officially overdosed on them. Every time we walk near the kitchen we find a reason to go in to have a little piece of one.

    Oh and while I was taking pictures of the food my little kitchen assistant could not get to the plates fast enough!

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    I have NEVER seen Gabriella crawl so fast. Speedy Gonzales!

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    She was mesmerized by the cheesecake. She kept trying to stick her little hand in there, but I quickly pulled her away. Smile

    Guess it’s a good thing I have a long run planned this morning after a weekend of sweets!

    Do you like cheesecake? If so, what kind? If not, favorite type of cake?

    Are you as in love with everything salted caramel like me?? (And it’s funny because I don’t like caramel. I have issues Winking smile)

    Working With Yeast Again: French Bread Recipe

    I don’t know about you, but I LOVE bread. Any & all types of bread. If I had to eat the same food everyday for the rest of my life, it would be fresh bread & butter.

    I always wanted to make my own bread, without a bread machine. I wanted to make true, ‘from scratch,’ bread. The only thing is that yeast used to freak me out. I tried cooking with it once, and things did NOT turn out well, so from that point on I just kind of gave up on it. This is rare for me, anything involving cooking I will try over and over again until I get it right. For some reason though, using yeast again was not an option…until a couple of weeks ago.

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    I really wanted French bread to go with our dinner, but I didn’t feel like going to the store to get it. So I thought I would give baking with yeast one more try. Boy am I glad I did!

    This bread turned out PERFECT! SO make tastier than store bought bread, and it was actually pretty easy to make. Although time consuming, worth every second.

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    French Bread

    (adapted from this recipe)

    Yield: 2 large loaves

    Ingredients:

    • 1/2 cup warm water (100-110 degrees F)

    • 2 teaspoons sugar

    • 2 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast

    • 5 cups all-purpose flour, plus additional flour for kneading

    • 1 tablespoon salt

    • 1 and 1/2 cups warm water (110 degrees F)

    • 1 tablespoon cornmeal

    • 1 egg white

    • 1 tablespoon water

    Directions:

    1. Proof Yeast: In a medium bowl combine 1/2 cup warm water, sugar, and the two packages of yeast, let stand 10 minutes. If mixture doubles in volume, the yeast is active. (if not, your yeast may be expired)
    2. In a large bowl, combine 2 cups flour, yeast mixture and salt. Stir in 1 and 1/2 cups warm water, and beat until well blended using a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment. Using a wooden spoon, stir in as much of the remaining flour as you can.
    3. On a lightly floured surface, knead in enough flour to make a stiff dough that is smooth and elastic. Knead for about 8 to 10 minutes total. (**Do NOT try to rush your kneading time- be sure to knead the ENTIRE time- even set a timer, if need be.) Shape into a ball. Place dough in a greased bowl, and turn once. Cover, and let rise in a warm place until doubled. (I left it for about 2 hours to rise, but that long is not necessary- at least an hour, I would say.)
    4. Punch dough down, and divide in half. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Cover, and let rest for 10 minutes. Roll each half into large rectangle. Roll up, starting from a long side. Moisten edge with water and seal. Taper ends.
    5. Grease a large baking sheet. Sprinkle with cornmeal. Place loaves, seam side down, on the prepared baking sheet. Lightly beat the egg white with 1 tablespoon of water, and brush on. Cover with a damp cloth. Let rise until nearly doubled, 35 to 40 minutes.
    6. With a very sharp knife, make 3 or 4 diagonal cuts about 1/4 inch deep across top of each loaf. Bake in a preheated 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) oven for 20 minutes. Brush again with egg white mixture. Bake for an additional 15 to 20 minutes, or until bread tests done. If necessary, cover loosely with foil to prevent over browning. Remove from baking sheet, and cool on a wire rack.

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    Mmmmm just looking at it again makes me want to bake some more TODAY! I was amazed at HOW good it turned out. It was soft, and fluffy.

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    This bread was the perfect complement to our pasta dinner- of course served with a bit of butter. Can’t have fresh bread without butter! Smile

    The only thing that I did learn, sadly, is that because this bread is home made, there are no preservatives. You either have to eat it within a day or two, or freeze it. We couldn’t eat the whole loaf the first night (thankfully I froze the second loaf right away), and I went to go and eat it a few days later only to have stale bread. Bummer! Now I know.

    I actually want to try baking with more yeast. I really enjoyed making this bread, kneading gets out a lot of frustration. Winking smile I think I may try homemade pizza dough this week, and maybe I’ll branch out even further as time goes on. I don’t know why it took me so long to try using it again, it’s really not that intimidating at all!

    Favorite type of bread??
    Mine is sourdough.

    If you had to chose one food to eat for the rest of your life, what would it be?

    Strawberries N’ Cream Bread + Video of Gabriella

    So apart for the sleep training & a few nights of crying, Gabriella is at a REALLY fun age! I feel like I say that every time I talk about her age, but seriously it just keeps getting more fun. Her little personality just comes out more & more.

    She also started crawling…which of course was HUGE! I caught it on video (I hope it works- if it doesn’t work & you want to see it, try playing it in ‘full screen’ mode), which you can see below. Please don’t fun of my voice- I was sick (very sick!) & of course I was doing baby talk. Winking smile

    As you can see her funny crawl is more of a frog hop- she looks hilarious!

    Monday night we started baby proofing because the first thing that caught her attention are the outlets and she is UNSTOPPABLE. Even though she ‘hops’ along she can MOVE! My Mom was cracking up when she saw her. She was like ‘well, it’s definitely not a ‘normal’ crawl, but she is crawling!’

    We also had to add a baby gate to the front of our TV/ DVD area because she pretty much attacks the DVDs the second we aren’t looking. (which doesn’t happen anymore, this was before we realized HOW mobile she really was)

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    (Mom: Please note which movie we are watching, Despicable Me, and please notice the part that it is currently on. Winking smile She’s definitely your grandchild because it is actually the only movie she will sit and watch. Not that I can blame her! Smile )

    I also love how much Gabriella loves being in the kitchen. She can be incredibly fussy & then I bring her into the kitchen with me while I cook dinner and she LOVES it. I can already tell she is going to be the BEST kitchen helper! I am VERY much looking forward to making Christmas cookies with her this year!!! It makes my heart melt when I think about it.

    The other day our afternoon walk plans were ruined. It was POURING outside & there was NO way that we could do anything outdoors. I could tell Gabriella was getting a little antsy, so I figured we would head to the kitchen & figure out something to bake.

    I looked through a few recipes & decided on Strawberries N’ Cream bread. It is the perfect summertime bread, full of fresh strawberries & Greek yogurt for the ‘cream.’

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    I changed a few things around to make this bread a bit healthier and no one will know the difference between the original recipe & this ‘health-ified’ recipe, I guarantee it Smile

    Strawberries N’ ‘Cream’ Bread

    (adapted from this recipe)

    Ingredients:

    • 1/2 cup butter, softened
    • 1/4 cup Truvia baking blend*
    • 1/4 cup sugar
    • 1 egg
    • 1 egg white
    • 1/2 cup plain Greek Yogurt (I used 0% Chobani)
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    • 1 cup all purpose flour
    • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
    • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 1 cup chopped fresh strawberries
    • 1/2 cup chopped pecans

    *If you prefer not to use the Truvia baking blend, just use 3/4 cup sugar & omit the 1/4 cup additional sugar.

    Directions:

    • In a large bowl, cream butter, Truvia and sugar until fluffy. Beat in egg, then egg white. Add Greek yogurt and vanilla; mix well.
    • Combine the flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon; stir into creamed mixture just until moistened. Fold in strawberries and 1/4 cup nuts.
    • Pour into a greased 8-in. x 4-in. loaf pan. Sprinkle with remaining nuts. Bake at 350° for 65-70 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes; remove from pan to a wire rack to cool completely. Yield: 1 loaf.

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    Not only did I have a very happy baby (happy baby, happy life Winking smile ) while we were baking, but I also ended up with a DELICIOUS quick bread that we could all enjoy! Not only did we enjoy it by the slice, but it’s also good crumbled in yogurt, Chobani of course. Open-mouthed smile 

    The best part about this recipe is that you probably have all of the ingredients in your house right now! And you may just want to try this bread out for your July 4th holiday breakfast. Perfect way to start the day.

    Any fun plans for tomorrow?? Do share!

    We are heading to Jacksonville to see my family & to see some of my friends. I can’t wait!! And of course I can’t wait for Gabriella to see fireworks!! I have a feeling she’s going to love them!