Tuesday, March 26, 2013

150 Best Donut Recipes: Cookbook Review

What it is:
150 Best Donut Recipes is a cookbook full of fried and baked donut recipes of all sorts!

Who wrote it: George Geary, a professional chef whose resume includes working as a pastry chef for the Walt Disney Company, judging hundreds of cooking competitions, and authoring 9 cookbooks.

My thoughts:
I really love the variety in this book-pretty much any flavor of donut you can think of can be found in this book, from classics like buttermilk and devil's food to more creative combinations like "Campfire S'more Donuts" and "Blackberry Bites" and a wide variety of types-fried and baked, cake and yeast, ring shaped, filled, and holes! Our favorite was the classic "Chocolate Cake Donut". I also loved how accessible to beginners the book is. I'd never deep fried anything before reading this book, and our donuts turned out awesome! He really takes the time at the beginning to explain the equipment and techniques that would be most useful in terms that are easy to understand. My only complaint is that there were no donuts that could be baked without using a special pan. And really, that's pretty typical. I've only found like one recipe ever for baked donuts that don't need a donut pan. I just wish he would've made more for me!

  • Wide variety
  • Easy-to-understand
  • Lack of donuts that can be baked on cookie sheet
The Bottom Line:
Definitely worth buying if you have any interest in baking handmade donuts!

I received no other compensation for this review other than a free review copy of this book from the publisher, Robert Rose and warm fuzzy feelings.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Cure for the Mondays March 25, 2013

On Mondays I post ideas I've seen in the past week or so that made me laugh, smile, and want to create! I hope they brighten your day too, especially if you've got a "case of the Mondays"!

It's almost Easter, which means time to stitch up some last minute basket gifts

Bake and cook some goodies

And decorate a little!

What Eastery ideas have inspired you lately?

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Bunny Bread

After seeing bunny shaped loaves assorted places, I decided to try shaping my Grandma's rolls into bunny shapes. It turned out adorable and delicious, so I wanted to show it off!

To make each bunny, you need:
  • A big oval (the torso)
  • 1 medium balls (the head)
  • 4 small balls (feet)
  • 1 tiny ball (tail)
  • 2 "snakes" (ears)

Make the dough according to directions, but after letting it double the first time, shape the dough into bunnies instead of rolls. It's probably easiest to divide the dough into 10 0r 20 equal portions and then divide those pieces into the body/head etc. All the pieces are pretty self-explanatory except the ears. Just make two long thin "snakes" and then make them into long U shapes and pinch the open part closed.

I let my preschooler do all of it except smoothing the bodies and heads and he was very excited to make the bunnies himself!

I made 9 bunnies and baked them at 375 degrees for 20 minutes. If I made 20 smaller ones I'd check them after 15 minutes.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Seven Quick Takes March 22, 2013


--- 1 ---

Only one week left until Good Friday. I better go buy eggs and egg dye and candy before it's all gone! Also, in discussing it, I learned that my husband doesn't even like jelly beans! More jelly beans for me I guess!

--- 2 ---

Only one week left until Good Friday! I need to decide what to cook to bring to Easter lunch at my in-laws' house! I am currently torn between:

Or Easter egg nest cookies (aka sugar cookies rolled in toasted coconut topped with peanut butter M&M eggs)

Or make my Grandma's rolls recipe but shape it like bunnies.

Any votes?

--- 3 ---

Bearpaw shoes seriously has the best customer service ever. I posted on their Facebook wall because a button fell off one of my new boots from this fall, and they sent me an entire new pair that got here less than a week after I e-mailed them back all my info and pics of the boots etc.

(I also love Bearpaws because they are so durable. My old ones are 4 years old and still wearable, although not in as good of shape as my awesome new ones!)

--- 4 ---

Another random thing about Bearpaw boots: their boxes are awesome for making crafts! My son and I made a shield out of the box from the pair that is now missing a button plus some foil, construction paper, and foil star stickers (and I hot-glued a tiny bit of elastic to the back so he could hold on to it). He did all of it except the cutting and the hot-gluing, and he now uses it to defend himself in paper-towel-roll-sword fights


--- 5 ---

Apparently there is a book called "Crunchy Cons" and I've never read it. Luckily my local library has it so I reserved it and will read it asap so as to preserve my crunchy con street cred.

--- 6 ---

My preschooler wrote his name for the first time this week and it was adorable! He did it on black construction paper with a blue colored pencil though, so you pretty much can only see it if you tilt the paper just right so the light makes the colored pencil marks shine a tiny bit.

--- 7 ---
Am I the only person whose babies are consistently long-torsoed? Both of my boys have had this problem, and the main result in baby days is that the cute little one piece snap suits won't snap over their crotches, but if I size up, their little feet won't stay in the cute little feet compartments (that always seems to be shaped like animals for some reason).

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Healthier Sweets for Easter Baskets

I have nothing against chocolate bunnies. (I'll almost certainly eat one this Easter.) But when I pictured the copious amounts of sweet treats my preschooler is going to eat this Easter, I couldn't help but wonder if there might be some products around to help make his basket just as delicious but a tad bit healthier. And I found some great options! Here are a few of my favorite ideas (along with prices if I know them):

Jolly Beans from SunRidge Farms:
Jelly beans are the quintessential Easter treat in my mind and these capture all the fun and flavor of conventional jelly beans without artificial flavors and colors! (They're also organic and 100% vegetarian!) $5.05 for 9oz*

Bunny grahams, cheddar bunnies, or fruit snacks from Annie's Bunnies:
Like healthier versions of Teddy Grahams, goldfish crackers, & ordinary fruit snacks, these snacks are packed with natural ingredients & flavors and are shaped like their namesake springtime animal. About $3/box at my local grocery store*.

Chocolate covered sunflower seeds from Sincerely Nuts:
Teeny little seeds pack a protein punch inside delicious chocolate coatings. $6.49/lb*

Joe-Joes from Trader Joes:
I used to get a box of these almost every time I went to Trader Joe's, but they never lasted long because we all 3 gobbled them down. These healthier chocolate sandwich cookies are so much tastier than Oreos, I still beg my parents to bring me some every time they visit now that I've moved somewhere with no TJ's. Dear Trader Joe's: please move to my city or start selling these online!

Dark chocolate oatmeal cookies from Kashi:
Dark chocolate chunks, oatmeal, & other natural ingredients combine to make scrumptious cookies. They're kind of large, so don't anticipate fitting them in Easter eggs! about $3/box at my local grocery store*

Sparx candy from Xlear:
Xylitol powered candy tastes delicious & actually leaves your teeth cleaner than before you ate it! My favorite is their citrus flavor (my husband preferred berry!) $1.49/tube*

*All prices were accurate at time of posting, but are subject to change and inflation over time just like the price of anything!

I did not receive any compensation for this post, but have received free sample products from some of these companies in the past, which is how I know I love them!

Saint Kateri: Lily of the Mohawks (Book Review)

I recently had the opportunity to review a new book from the Catholic Company and wanted to share my thoughts with you!

What it is:
Saint Kateri: Lily of the Mowhawks is a biography of St. Kateri Tekawitha, a Native American who was canonized as a Saint in the fall of 2012.
Who wrote it:
Margaret Bunson, a prolific writer of religious history texts who passed away last spring before completing the book, and her son, Matthew Bunson , a professor and theologian with over 30 books under his belt. Published by Our Sunday Visitor, one of the mostly highly regarded Catholic publishers in the US.

Overall Impressions:
I thought in all this book was pretty interesting. I loved reading about Kateri's peaceful spirit and faith, and I especially loved that they used so many direct quotations from the French priests who knew her personally. I would've actually even loved for them to use those sources more! Things about Kateri, like that "It was only a matter of a few weeks until she stood out among all the other women and girls of the mission...in a short time, a saint among the just and faithful." (pg 151), but also interesting information about the mission and the times, like that the mission had 3 bells and would soon be getting a 4th. (pg. 142)
I also really appreciated the historical context the authors included (PS: How cute is it that mother and son worked on it together? ) Although I know about Native Americans in general, I was a little rusty on things like whether the Algonquins and Iroquois liked each other or not, and who was on the French side of the French & Indian Wars, etc. Without turning into a mind-numbing history textbook, they caught me back up to speed so I could understand the world Kateri lived in.
One thing I definitely noticed was that the book was written for adults. It was written at a fairly high level in terms of detail and vocabulary choice, but more importantly, included references to some incidents that might be difficult or uncomfortable to explain to a child. One of those incidents was a time that a man who lived at the Sault mission with his wife somehow drunkenly found his way to Kateri's tent instead of his own in the middle of the night while they were out hunting. Another is that one of Kateri's best friends had previously been stuck in the wilderness with a group of Indians who turned to cannibalism to survive (her friend didn't resort to cannibalism herself, but feared she'd be eaten before they made it to safety!) and her traumatic experience is discussed for quite a while. I would definitely not recommend this book to anyone younger than high school because of those incidents.

  • Detailed
  • Well-written
  • Good use of primary sources

  • A few parts inappropriate for kids, like mention of someone else's drunken husband being found in her tent, and the tale of her friend who narrowly escaped cannibalism.

The bottom line:
Saint Kateri: Lily of the Mowhawks is a good book for adults interested in reading about St. Kateri.

This review was written as part of the Catholic book reviewer program from The Catholic Company. Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on Saint Kateri: Lily of the Mohawks. The Catholic Company is the best resource for all your seasonal needs such as First Communion gifts as well as ideas and gifts for the special papal Year of Faith. 

Monday, March 18, 2013

Cure for the Mondays-March 18, 2013

On Mondays I post ideas I've seen in the past week or so that made me laugh, smile, and want to create. I hope they brighten your day to, especially if you've got a "case of the Mondays"!

How sweet would these little felt animal cookies be in an Easter basket?
Source: flickr.com via Sadie on Pinterest

My son is going to be really excited to color different faces and clothes on this blank Lego guy coloring book:

For some reason I've been kind of, well, a chicken about cooking chicken in the crockpot, but this looks scrumptious enough to take the plunge:

I'm dying to sew my own maxi skirts now and hoping these tutorials make me a pro at it (and as a bonus, if I make them myself, I don't have to cut 6 inches off like I did my new Target maxi dress. Thank goodness I know how to hem things!):

And last but certainly not least, I was really really excited to find this free video on YouTube with mom-friendly exercises safe for those of us with diastasis recti (but great for everyone!):

What inspiring ideas have you seen lately?

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Happy St. Patrick's Day

May the road rise to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back,
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
The rains fall soft upon your fields and,
Until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

Friday, March 15, 2013

7 Quick Takes March 15, 2013

7 quick takes sm1 Your 7 Quick Takes Toolkit!

--- 1 ---

There's a new Pope! Hurray! It'll be very interesting to learn more about him and see what he does. As far as I can tell most of his writings from his days as cardinal are in Spanish only. I'm guessing translation will come soon!

--- 2 ---

I'm glad New York's soda ban was overturned. Drinking a lot of soda is a bad idea, but controlling the diets of the American populace through legislation is an even worse one.

--- 3 ---

Unsweetened vanilla almond milk is disgusting. I'm glad it works for baking because I can't gag it down as a beverage or in cereal. Blech!

--- 4 ---

It's too soon to tell really, but it's beginning to look like my baby *might* have strawberry blond, auburn, or otherwise slightly coppery hair. I've wished I had red hair since I went to Ireland when I was like 7, and will be very excited if he turns out to be a red-headed freckly Irishman!

--- 5 ---

Rye flour is proving surprisingly elusive. We wanted to bake rye rolls to have corned beef on as Reubens this weekend but our usual grocery doesn't carry it. Eek!

--- 6 ---

Apparently radishes grow really well in a mason jar! My preschooler and I planted some as a science experiment (I'm hoping at least one will decide to grow right along the side so he can see how roots grow!) and so many sprouted we're going to have to pull several out so they aren't overcrowded!
We are also growing 2 pea plants so far. The rest of our seeds didn't fare quite as well, unfortunately. We'll have to try again I guess!!

--- 7 ---

Spring is almost here! Yesterday was so warm we took Baby out on his first ever walk! We went to Grandma's house in the stroller and had so much fun.

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday: Spell it with Music!

This week I stitched up some homemade burp cloths (couple layers of diaper cloth plus printed cotton fabric that reminds me of the family it's for) for a baby named Caleb:

And because Caleb's mama is a big music-lover and talented musician, I got all geeky and realized almost all the letters of "Caleb" are musical note letters! So I grabbed my embroidery floss & needle and did this:

If you count the legato as an "L", I spelled his name in music! I hope Caleb's mama thinks it's as cute as I do!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Cure for the Mondays 3/11/2013 St. Patty's Day Edition!

On Mondays I post links to ideas I've seen in the past week or so that made me laugh, smile, and want to create. I hope they brighten your day too, especially if you've got a "case of the Mondays"!

This is one of those adorable things that makes me wish I had a daughter:

This felt shamrock tutorial looks simple and cute, which makes it right up my alley
Source: lilluna.com via sew on Pinterest

This looks magically delicious:

But we'll probably be boring healthy people and actually make Irish brown bread with a recipe I found in Malachi McCormick's Irish Country Cooking:

And I love that this coloring sheet:

And this St. Brigid's cross crafting tutorial:

help us remember the religious side of St. Patrick's Day!

Friday, March 8, 2013

7 Quick Takes 3/8/2013

7 quick takes sm1 Your 7 Quick Takes Toolkit!

--- 1 ---

This is my first 7 Quick Takes ever. Hurray!

--- 2 ---

I'm blogging on my iPod lately and the silly app won't let me edit after posting for some reason, so please forgive mistakes-I can't fix them until baby & preschooler are content enough without me to get to the laptop!

--- 3 ---

My best friend from high school just had her baby 7 weeks early, and they are both doing great, but please say a prayer for R & Baby C if you're the prayin' type!

--- 4 ---

Ricemilk is surprisingly versatile. Perhaps my favorite faux-milk so far when I don't want another flavor (chocolate almond milk is my actual favorite!) Baby seems to not be a fan of me eating dairy, so I've been exploring the alternatives!

--- 5 ---

Preschooler is learning to write letters. He was tracing letters today and I was so proud, but also Wah! My baby isn't a baby anymore at all!

--- 6 ---

I'm on the hunt for zebra print play shoes...for myself. I mostly wear solid jewel tones so I think I can pull it off. My overall faves are Sperry Topsider Bahamas Boat Shoes, but they're so expensive I'd never actually wear them to the park or grocery store. Low top Converse All-Stars are the cutest ones I'd actually wear to play, but I'll probably get some $8 Mossimo ones from the Target website instead. What do you think...is zebra print too wild for a mom?

--- 7 ---

Somehow I got a cut on my finger while writing this. Like a paper cut, but I didn't touch any paper...weird. And disturbing-will my baby and preschooler get cut on this same invisible item???

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Cure for the Mondays March 3, 2013

On Mondays I post links to ideas I've seen in the past week or so that made me laugh, smile, and want to create. I hope they brighten your day too, especially if you've got a case of "the Mondays"!

How delicious do these easy homemade granola bars from Ally's Sweet & Savory Eats look?!?