Love and Sacrifice

As a mother, I am doing what I can to instill proper values on my children. I do my darnedest to make sure they are always showing respect, mannerly, honest and always, always full of love and compassion for those around them. With toddlers, it’s more just getting them familiar with how the rest of their life under my authority will go.

As any mother or father would, I want to see my children succeed. I never want to see them struggle, but I want them to know what it’s like. I want them to know that in order to get what they want, they have to work  and work hard for all their desires. And by working they can achieve anything. I don’t want them to feel privileged or entitled. Not that they ever could since we don’t have much and surely don’t come from a family of riches but if they ever seen the day that they established a lavish lifestyle for themselves, I want them to remember their roots and how they got to be where they soon will stand.

Being someone who has grown up in a life of struggle, from a young age living with my parents to trying to find our own place in life as adults, I’ve learned that these endeavors are exactly what I need to stay grounded and humble.

When I was younger, I thought the world was unfair and in many cases it seemed to be. My family, with my stay-at-home mom and stepdad who worked hard at all his jobs, could still hardly afford food. The bills didn’t stop coming just because we were broke and that left us with no choice but to accept food benefits, however we never abused them as there are many who do today. My brothers and I weren’t able to sign up for the sports we wished to play and going out to eat was never an option. It felt unfair that I couldn’t have a normal life. I couldn’t go to the mall buy all the “fancy” new clothes that all the cool kids were wearing. Going out with friends was rare as we never had enough money for me to spend. It was all unfair. I never understood how others seemed to have it so easy and could always afford nice things.

It wasn’t until my first job as a gas station clerk that I truly understood what being an adult is all about. It may not have been the most strenuous of occupations and most definitely not a permanent career choice, but it opened my eyes to many things. I put in many hours, taking any overtime I could get. I helped maintain a friendly atmosphere and bonded with all of my regular customers. Loved each of them like family and still continue friendships with them outside of Shell. I helped manage the appearance of the store and cleaned undesirable things that would make you gag at the sight of, among other responsibilities of the job.

Working at Shell taught me punctuality, responsibility, initiative and how to be a team player. Then came motherhood. While I was still working up until the birth of my second child, I still had to balance a work life with parenting. That in itself was a struggle. I had to learn sacrifice. I sacrificed my precious and valuable time with my girls that I can never get back, all to ensure they had what they needed and we could afford our own roof over our head. Even with both, my husband and I working, we still couldn’t afford a middle class life. We thought we were well on our way up to being “comfortable” since my husband had a new job that he loved and was quickly climbing the ladder earning raises until one day something unfortunate happened and he lost his job. All after I had already quit mine to take care of my girls while he worked.

At times, I still felt moments of resentment toward the rest of the world but I didn’t let it get to me. I had to learn that things happen, even to the best of people. I learned to live with it and instead of wallowing in the unfairness of life. I learned to make it better in the best ways I could- from baking and selling my own baked goods, painting and selling my paintings to doing photography all on the side. When I started doing that and no longer passed blame on others, I felt myself drifting into a happier, less bitter Samantha. A self that I could live with. One that pushed me to want to do better because I have little eyes staring up at me and watching my every move. All things you want for yourself become meaningless to what you want for your children.

My girls were my inspiration to finally stop with procrastination and get my butt in college. Even if I don’t get far with my newly acquired degree, at least they got to see me succeed. They got to watch me spend many late nights doing homework, sacrificing our playtime. They watched me come in the door super tired from putting in a long day in the kitchens, going straight to work at home to try and keep the house up and then back to cooking so that they and my husband have full bellies. As hard as it gets, I try to keep in mind that my sacrifices and all of my husbands will be well worth it all the in the future.

I try so hard to be a good role model for them in hopes they will never see me fail and if they do, I want them to see me getting back up and pushing forward no matter how great my obstacle. For me, that means never letting them see me break down and cry. For me, that means keeping my head up and for me, that means always being strong- if not for myself, then for them.

If we ever want our children to succeed we need to show them the way. We have to show them love and kindness. My days of parenting are nowhere near finished and I still have lots to learn. I know that I will make plenty of mistakes along the way but in those mistakes I will learn at what I need to do to be a better mom and role model. I can only hope that as they are observing my actions, that they too will learn as I did as a kid.

“It’s not what you do for your children, but what you have taught them to do for themselves that will make them successful human beings”- Ann Landers

 

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With All My Affection

Ah, Fridays! My favorite day of the week- where my days as a student are put on hold until next Tuesday and I can play catch-up on all the fun things mommies do on their days off (wait, what exactly is the fun stuff?)

Ok, so maybe that isn’t the only reason I love my Fridays. It might also be that Fridays mean…. FEATURED FRIDAY! If you haven’t been keeping up with my blog so far, my Featured Fridays are a way of showing my appreciation to my fellow bloggers. I love stopping by their blogs and reading all they have to offer, whether it’s food, family, beauty, etc…

So who’s this week’s feature? None other than Arielle from With All My Affection!

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Meet Arielle

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Arielle is a Vietnamese girl born and raised in Montreal, Canada. You can find her on her blog writing about food (obviously my favorite part 😉  ), fashion, beauty and all of her travels. If her blog isn’t enough, you can even follow her on facebook and Instagram.

Inspiration for With All My Affection is derived from many fashion and lifestyle bloggers from all over the world. By creating her blog in 2013, Arielle has been able to share her love of life with all of her beloved readers while fulfilling her hopes of inspiring them to step out of their comfort zones, try new things and just simply learning to love life and live it to the fullest.

While normally I would opt for something food related, I just adore being able to read about all the beautiful destinations Arielle gets to visit. Places, that I can only dream of going. I can get lost in each beautifully captured image and easily fantasize walking the streets of Venice; discovering the ruins of Pompeii; or taking in all the sites of Athens. How could one not want to visit these amazing locations after stopping by her blog? 

If you’re considering seeing the world for yourself or maybe just want to pretend to escape from reality through her posts, you should really check out all of Arielle’s travels and everything else With All My Affection has to offer. 

Thanks for taking time to read about this week’s Featured Friday. Remember to check out all of my other features listed below and show them some love.

Keep checking back every Friday to see who my next feature of the week is!

Are you a blogger who wants to be my next feature or do you have someone you want to nominate? Let me know in the comments and you could be the next.

 

 

The Simple Cook

Who’s ready for our next Featured Friday? I am! Surprisingly enough I have stuck with my commitment in keeping these features going. If you know me on a personal level, you would know procrastination is my nemesis and my memory is lacking.

So who’s my feature this week? None other than Colin from The Simple Cook.

Meet Colin!img-20150523-wa0007-1

You can find him on his blog sharing his favorite concoctions or maintaining his Facebook group, The Ready Steady Cook Club,  that I mentioned in last week’s feature (Please check it out if you haven’t already, The Healthylicious Foodie would appreciate the love!). And like Clare from my last feature, Colin is another self taught cook whose love of food started early in his life. 

Colin is a hardworking father of a beautiful little girl who knows what it takes to maintain a healthy lifestyle! On his blog, you can expect to find a variety of healthy meals and simply sinful delights! From marinades to rubs and breakfast to desserts, he’s got it all! 

 I really LOVE how The Simple Cook revolves around his love of food, family and friends. In all of his dishes, these traits shine through! 

Because I’m a Wing Gal, one dish that caught my eye when reading through his blog was his Teriyaki and Honey Chicken Wings! With his homemade marinade, he brings the Taste of Asia right to your plate! 

If you love food as much as Colin, check out his blog and keep up with all of his culinary creations! 

Thanks for taking time to read about this week’s Featured Friday. Keep checking back every Friday to see who my next feature of the week is!

Are you a blogger who wants to be my next feature or do you have someone you want to nominate? Let me know in the comments and you could be the next.

Wanna be Blogger-Buddies? Contact me and let’s chat! 🙂

Don’t forget to Follow me!

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Healthylicious Foodie

It’s that time again…. Featured Friday!! This week I would like to feature another food blogger whose blog I stumbled on when I joined a food lover’s Facebook group, The Ready Steady Cook Club. If you are a food blogger, have a career in the food industry or just have a love of food in general- join this group! Lots of delicious meals swirling around there with a very friendly cyber atmosphere. Best part? It’s open to anyone!

Ok, so, back to the Featured Friday. Last week, I told you all about the blog Simply Anna Lisa (if you haven’t yet, read all about her and show her some love). This week, I would like to introduce another lover of all things food, Clare, from Healthylicious Foodie

  

Clare is a self-taught cook who puts her time into developing easy, delicious recipes with her own healthy spin! Whether you are trying to get fit or just lead a healthier lifestyle by eating cleaner, you should check out her blog. With all of her amazing recipes and mouth watering photos you will not be sorry you did nor will your diet 😉 

With so many flavorsome recipes, it was hard to pick a favorite. However, I am a lover of fruit so a few recipes that really caught my eye were her Strawberry Chia Jam (uh yum!) and Apple Pie Quesadillas (say what?…I. Must.Make.). 

From breakfast all the way to desserts, you can expect to find way more than just the fruity meals on her blog. Let’s show Healthylicious Foodie some love and be on the lookout for new recipes, often! Oh, and don’t forget to check out her e-book, The Great Garbanzo. 😉 

Thanks for taking time to read about this week’s Featured Friday. Keep checking back every Friday to see who my next feature of the week is!

Are you a blogger who wants to be my next feature or do you have someone you want to nominate? Let me know in the comments and you could be the next.

Wanna be Blogger-Buddies? Contact me and let’s chat! 🙂

Don’t forget to Follow me!

 

Simply Anna Lisa

Hello Lovelies!

It’s time for another Featured Friday! Last week was Chris, a Dog, and a Food Blog (if you haven’t checked it out, please give him some love!)! This week I am featuring a dear friend of mine who also happens to be my husband’s cousin.

 

Meet Anna!

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You can find Anna on her blog, Simply Anna Lisa. Anna blogs about finding her personal happiness and discovering who she is as a person. On her blog, you can expect to find out what it’s like to be a Fur-Momma to two, four-legged, drooling fur babies. 

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My favorite thing about her blog is her witty humor and her aspirations to complete everything on her ever-growing 12 Months of Happiness list. I think this is a great concept for anyone who’s trying to bring happiness into their lives and willing to try new things. 

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Let’s show Simply Anna Lisa some love! Join her on her journey in discovering who she is meant to be in life and be sure to keep up with her 12 Months of Happiness endeavors. 

Thanks for taking time to read about this week’s Featured Friday. Keep checking back every Friday to see who my next feature of the week is!

Are you a blogger who wants to be my next feature or do you have someone you want to nominate? Let me know in the comments and you could be the next.

Wanna be Blogger-Buddies? Contact me and let’s chat! 🙂

Don’t forget to Follow me!

Angry Orchard Cupcakes

Hello Foodies! I am so excited to tell you about these awesome cupcakes! If you like apples and you like hard cider you will love these Angry Orchard Cupcakes!

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Angry orchard Cupcakes with my Fireball Caramel Sauce

My husband and I don’t drink often, but when we do our go-to drink (next to my Moscato) is an ice, cold hard cider. We’ve tried a handful of ciders and we’ve narrowed our favorites down to Strongbow and Angry Orchard.

I made these cupcakes a little over a year ago for my classmates. They were a hit. I actually adapted the recipe from the blog, Brown Sugar but I wanted to see if I could come up with a recipe of my own.

To get these deliciously moist cupcakes, I simply found a basic cake recipe, combined Angry Orchard Hard Cider (Crisp Apple), Green Apples, and a few spices to top off this apple perfection. I find the hard cider enhances flavor of the apples so it’s imperative you do not leave the cider out. If you don’t like the idea of adding alcohol to your cupcakes, no worries, the alcohol actually cooks out leaving behind its crisp flavor!_MG_0543 copy

Top these bad boys off with a Caramel Buttercream frosting and a drizzle of my Fireball Caramel Sauce and they are sure to please!

Here’s how I make them:

Angry Orchard Cupcakes

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 green apples, cored and peeledAngryOrchardCupcakes2
  • 2 Sticks of butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 3 eggs, room temp.
  • 2 1/2 Cups all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. cardamom
  • 1/4 tsp. allspice
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup Angry Orchard Hard Cider, Crisp Apple+ 1/4 cup, set aside

 

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Prepare cupcake pan by lining them with your choice of paper cupcake liners.
  2. Start by cutting your peeled apples into small dices. Add them to a bowl and pour in 1/4 Cup of the hard cider. Set aside until the end of the mixing process.
  3. In a stand mixer, beat together softened butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar; until light and fluffy. Scrap bowl down.
  4. Whisk the eggs in a small bowl. Working in thirds, add to butter mix. The mix may look separated but that’s ok.
  5. In a separate bowl mix in flour, baking powder, salt and spices until evenly distributed.
  6. With mixer on low, slowly add in dry ingredients. Careful not to over mix.
  7. When dry ingredients are incorporated, add vanilla; Add in the remaining Angry Orchard while still mixing.
  8. Remove mixing bowl from stand mixer. Fold in diced apples and the cider it has been marinating in.
  9. Using a portion (ice-cream) scoop,  fill the cupcake liners up about almost to the top (this is an airy batter so it will not do a lot of rising)
  10. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted.
  11. Top with my Buttercream frosting and drizzle with my Fireball Caramel Sauce. Enjoy the awesomeness!
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Fireball Caramel sauce drizzled over my Angry orchard Cupcakes

I hope you enjoyed this recipe as much as I enjoyed creating it! If you like a super moist cake, these cupcakes are for you! I find that the more tart the apple, the better the bite!

Got a recipe you wanna share? Send them to me in the comments. I am always on the look out for new things to try.

Wanna be Blogger-Buddies? Contact me and let’s chat! 🙂

Don’t forget to Follow me!

 

 

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Fireball Caramel Sauce

Hello my wonderful foodies! I am super excited to present you with this awesome recipe for a luscious Fireball Caramel sauce! This recipe will seriously knock your socks off! It’s the perfect combination of sweet and heat. It goes perfectly over cakes, cupcakes, cookies, ice cream, cheesecake, sweet breads and many more delectable desserts!

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A couple days ago, I gave you my recipe for Homemade Caramel Sauce. If you haven’t checked it out yet, please do! It will be well worth the read (I promise 😉 ). 

I actually can’t take credit for this idea, only the recipe. This one belongs to Sarahboo- one of my best friends and classmate-after she came over one evening for some girl time. Our original intent was to bake a batch of Chocolate Brownies but one thing lead to another and Boom! Fireball Caramel Sauce! (Is it care-uh-mell, car-muhl, or care-uh-muhl? Whichever one get’s it in my belly the fastest is good enough for me!)

This is one of the best ideas we’ve come up with together! With this in mind came the inspiration for my Angry Orchard Cupcakes and Caramel Buttercream frosting. I had a vision of boozy caramel apple cupcakes and a day later I put that vision on a plate! Who knew cinnamon, whiskey and caramel could become best friends? 

While I suggest using my recipe for a homemade sauce, you can certainly use a jar of your own favorite caramel. This recipe is so easy to make and only takes a few minutes of your time. it’s an easy way to add a little extra kick to desserts or create a beautiful presentation with a smooth drizzle on top of your favorite sweets. 

Here’s how I make it:

Fireball Caramel Sauce

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 Cup Warmed Caramel sauce, jarred or homemade (get mine Here)
  • 3 tbs. + 1 tsp. Fireball Whiskey

 

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Whisk both ingredients together in small bowl until well mixed.
  2. Drizzle over your choice of sweets! Enjoy the awesomeness!

 

See? It’s that easy! All you need a is good caramel sauce and a few tablespoons of Fireball Cinnamon whiskey to take your dessert to the next level. I hope you give this one a try. I promise, if you like Cinnamon and Caramel you will LOVE this!

Got a recipe you wanna share? Send them to me in the comments. I am always on the look out for new things to try.

 

Wanna be Blogger-Buddies? Contact me and let’s chat! 🙂

Don’t forget to Follow me!

Chris, a Dog, and a Food Blog

Hello lovelies!

I want to do a something a little different than my normal posts. For the past week I have been working overtime promoting my blog all I can. From starting a Twitter account to posting on my blog’s Facebook page.

Along the way I have followed and connected with some other awesome bloggers- new and seasoned to blogging- who share a similar love for food, photography and life as I do. A few of these bloggers, I am lucky enough to call my “Blogger Buddies”.

So what is it that I want to do different? Well, I am glad you asked. Each week I want to feature some of my favorite blogs that I’ve visited. This is great way to help them build up traffic to their blog and, really, I just want to say a little something nice about their blogs that I liked about them.

One of my Blogger Buddies has already started this trend, making me the first feature of his blog, using my recipe for Tuscan Styled Pork chops. So this is kinda like a Pay-it-Forward post. I encourage all bloggers to do the same!

So, with that being said, now’s the time to introduce to you the person behind the original idea for Feature Friday- blogger, Chris Hunnicutt. 

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You can find Chris on his blog at blogspot.com- Chris, a Dog and a Food Blog or on his WordPress blog by clicking Here

Chris likes to whip up scrumptious recipes, share photos of his culinary creations and even likes to do Restaurant reviews. On his blog, you can expect to find trials of his life, his family and his little dog named, Molly. Looking for healthy alternatives to the food you love? Find them on his blog. He has a handful of healthy recipes that you won’t have to feel guilty for scarfing down. 

Let’s give Chris, a dog, and a Food Blog some love! Stop on over at either of his blogs and be sure to check out his recipe for Oven “Fried” Chicken with Cauliflower Mash and Sauteed Mushrooms

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Oven “Fried” Chicken with Cauliflower Mash and Sauteed Mushrooms

 

Thanks for taking time to read about my first Feature Friday. Keep checking back every Friday to see who my next feature of the week is!

Are you a blogger who wants to be my next feature or do you have someone you want to nominate? Let me know in the comments and you could be the next.

Wanna be Blogger-Buddies? Contact me and let’s chat! 🙂

Don’t forget to Follow me!

 

 

 

 

 

Ol’Glorious Naptime

Who’s ready to pull their hair out? This girl! Terrible twos have struck in my house and I’ve been dealing with a double dose of attitude for about three years now. I don’t even know why it’s called terrible twos. It should be more like -Terrible One and forever. Both of my girls, who are two and four, contracted it when they started walking and I don’t think they ever got over it. Just my luck. The sad thing is, I thought I didn’t have to deal with attitude problems until the girls hit their bratty, teenage years. Boy was I wrong. Don’t even get me started on the potty training.

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See the sass??

I blame all of my parenting endeavors on my mother. You know that thing your momma used to say that we thought she was insane for even bring up? You know what I’m talking about. We’ve all heard it, “I hope your kids turn out 10 times worse than you!”

Sound familiar? Yea. I heard it a thousand times but I never once thought I would ever see the day where I actually sympathize with her. I’ve been foredoomed (Thanks Mom!)!  The Hell we must have put her through must have been enough to send her over the edge to make say such mean words.

“Get that out of your mouth!”; “Don’t kick the dog!”; “Pick up your toys!” “Eat your-Halynn, DO NOT THRO- Dang it!”. I swear I feel like a broken record as much as I have to repeat myself in this house. Can anyone else relate? Surely I’m not the only one who deals with this craziness.

My favorite part of the day used to be nap time, ol’glorious naptime. Let me tell you a little about the most wonderful part of my day. I’ll start by saying- it wasn’t for me. I would be lucky if my body let me fall asleep at a decent bedtime, let alone take a nap. It’s the only time in my day that I was able to catch up on much needed “me” time.

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Crappy Ipad image but look how sweet she is when she naps!

Like any mother who waits patiently for their kids heads to hit the pillow, those 30 or 40 minutes I had to myself allowed me to breathe and catch my thoughts. I was able to finally wash those dishes that have been in the sink for three days or to restart the wet laundry that’s been sitting for who knows how long. I loved taking advantage of the free time given to reassess myself before hitting a new level of “Crazy Mom Status”.

When the girls would wake, all of us in our good moods, we would do fun things together whether it was watching a movie, coloring, reading or baking. Those are the things I looked forward to after each nap. Little did I know those days were short lived. The naps ceased and there went my sweet, temporary sanity.

A child without a nap is just blasphemy. When my children skip their naps it means ear splitting tantrums and breaking up sibling rivalry. It means listening to Peppa Pig’s stupid snort on repeat ( I despise that cartoon) or Adele’s Hello blaring in the background. It means cleaning the fourth cup of spilled juice that day. No naps for me, means hearing your name 50 times in a two minute time span, answering, and hearing your name some more for the same exact question you just answered. It means floor stomping, couch jumping mouthy kids who refuse to eat anything with any nutritional value unless they find it on the floor from last night’s dinner.

Days like these, I welcome bedtime. I long for those moments when you hear the last big thud from the bedroom after the girls have finally worn themselves down from jumping on their beds. I await the silence that fills the house and the chance to finally sit down with my husband and talk about the boring highlights of being an adult. When my husband and I can actually sit down, our hardest decisions are no longer “should we let her eat that?” or “You can either take on bath-time or Crappy Diaper duty and I’ll get the other”. It’s now, “are you feeling Bates Motel or Dexter?” and “Water or wine?” (Decisions. Decisions.)

I love my kids and I would do anything in the world for them but I have GOT to have my quiet time, too. We mothers (and fathers) do so much for our youngin’s that we deserve that every now and then, right?  I gave birth to them. I’ve wiped snotty noses with my pretty, new shirts because I didn’t have anything else on hand. I’ve been pooped on, peed on, spit on and even colored on. I am a pro at speaking the the language of Toddler- chink shoes (thank you), cutchies (covers), and  pihtah bihtah (peanut butter) on a shoon (spoon). No monster is too big and no boo-boo too small for Momma to tackle.

So when your kids realize how important naps are to you and make the day more interesting by refusing to take them, how do in the world do we handle these situations? My answer? Lots of patience! And I mean LOTS of patience (and plenty of coffee, if you’re into that).

Since nap-time is no longer an option (unless for some crazy minute my kids are lullaby-ed  by songs on Pooh and happen to fall over asleep) I’ve learned to take these things with a grain of salt and to sit back and just let it be. They are only young once and as crazy as today may seem, tomorrow is not promised and one day these little ladies will no longer need me.It will be the other way around, me needing them. For my ladies, I put my sanity aside to be the best parent I can be.

Whether I am ‘Strict Momma’ or ‘Cool Momma’, they can guarantee I will be what they need at that given moment (until they understand what it means to abide by the rules My husband and I have set up, they are getting pretty familiar with Strict Momma 😉 ).

-Side note… The movie, Home, gives me the feels!

Are you a parent who can relate? I know I’m not the only one! I’d love to hear some of your stories.

Naptime

Buttercream Frosting

 

Hello lovelies!

Raise your hand if you love cake. I’m juuust gonna slowly raise my hand and answer my own question because I LOVE cake. Chocolate. Fruity. Cheesecake. You name it.  I even love them molten, just oozing with chocolaty goodness. I love it in tiers; I love them in sheets. I love them all. But what I love more than cake is the frosting.

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There are those who will scrape it off and eat the cake plain… it’s safe to say- I am not one of those people. Sometimes I will only get a piece of cake for that heaping mound on the edges. I could eat it by the spoonfuls. (#guilty #dontjudgeme)
My favorite kind is a good ol’fashioned buttercream! I love its buttery flavor, the fluffy texture and I love how you can work with different consistencies for decorating.

Yesterday, I created a recipe for Angry Orchard Cupcakes (I am dying to post the recipe but I figure I better get the other components first 😉 ). Everything was homemade from the cakes to Fireball Caramel Sauce. No, I was not the first to come up with the idea of adding hard cider to an apple cake batter, but this version of the recipe is completely mine.

When I came up with the idea of recreating my own recipe for the cupcakes, I had caramel apples on my mind. I needed a frosting to top it so I created a Caramel Buttercream. I’m sure there are other bloggers who have made a buttercream recipe that’s the same as mine- it’s kinda hard to come up with an original recipe these days- but this recipe is so good I had to share my version with my foodies.

Honest to goodness- this is the BEST recipe for a basic Buttercream Frosting! You need to try this, like… now! And because I love you all so well, I threw in directions for my awesome Caramel Buttercream, too.

Here’s how I make mine:

Basic Buttercream Frosting

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 sticks butter, softened_MG_0543 copy
  • 2 lbs. powdered sugar
  • 1 tbs. vanilla extract
  • Heavy whipping cream

 

DIRECTIONS:

1. In a large bowl, with a hand or stand mixer, cream together sugar and butter on low speed. Mix until well blended. Increase speed to medium and beat for another 3 minutes.

2. Add vanilla and cream and continue to beat on medium speed for 1 minute more, adding more cream if needed for desired spreading/piping consistency.

3. Scoop into a piping bag and pipe decoratively onto cupcakes, or spread onto cupcakes as desired.

Caramel Buttercream

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 Buttercream recipe from above
  • 1 cup of Caramel Sauce, cooled (store bought or HOMEMADE)

 

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Mix ingredients as you would for the Basic Buttercream, omitting the cream until after adding the caramel. 
  2. Add in the Caramel sauce and mix on medium speed. 
  3. If needed, add cream for desired consistency. 
  4. Scoop into piping bag and pipe decoratively onto cupcakes, or spread as desired. 

NOTES
  • This recipe is very versatile. You can change the flavor by adding in desired flavored extracts and flavorings. You can also double and triple this recipe with ease.
  • Do not skimp on the butter- it’s a must! If you use shortening or margarine, you are drastically altering it’s flavor and consistency. Trust me, I’ve been there and nothing compares to the good stuff!
  • If you add in color, I suggest using gel coloring. The liquid color may thin your frosting too much by the time you get your desired color.
  • If you have too much frosting, freeze it 😉 Put the leftover buttercream in an airtight box and refrigerate for up to a week or freeze for up to 3 months. If frozen then thaw overnight in the refrigerator.

See? Simple. Delicious. Versatile. I hope this recipe is enough to make you wanna bake a cake and whip up a batch of frosting! Or maybe skip the cake altogether and just grab some spoons and go to town. I know that’s what I’ll be doing.

Got a recipe you wanna share? Send it to me and I will give it a try and even feature it on my blog. Wanna be Blogger-Buddies? Shoot me a message and let’s chat!

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Melt-In-Ya-Mouth Cinnamon Rolls

Ah… snow days. With each falling snowflake, I feel all motivation to do anything productive slipping from my body. I was supposed to have class today but thanks to the 3 or more inches of snow coming to Eastern Kentucky and Rasputia- my ’93 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo (What? Don’t tell my you’ve never named your vehicle), I’m taking it easy at home with my ladyloves. On my way to school yesterday, she decided she was going to break down on me. As old as my jeep is, she’s been faithful to me for going on 5 years, so I can’t be too upset. Just glad I hadn’t made it too far into my destination. That could have been bad! 

What does a student and momma of two do on a snow day? Catch up on homework while my girls flip back and forth between these crazy Baby Alive and Suprise Egg youtube videos! How the crap my kids found these videos and why they’ve taken such a strong interest in them is beyond me, but they drive me CRAZY. 

I feel I must confess… I’m not really doing my homework. I’m supposed to be and I do have everything pulled up for Interpersonal Communications, but I just can’t bring myself to focus on anything other than Cinnamon rolls. Yea, I said it. I’m thinking of a piping hot, big, ol’fat, Melt-In-Ya-Mouth Cinnamon roll just oozing with a sticky glaze! _MG_0450 copy

I got that lazy girl status going on today and the only thing I want to do is whip up a batch of homemade cinnamon rolls, cuddle up with my ladies underneath no less than 3 layers of blankets and binge watch Harry Potter movies in honor of Professor Snape (so sad to learn on Alan Rickman’s passing).  Is that too much for a girl to ask? 

 It’s no secret, I’ve got a sweet tooth. What better way to calm it down than to make cinnamon rolls? When I was younger I wasn’t brave enough to try making them homemade. Anything with yeast intimidated me.  That all changed when I took an interest in bread making and our class went over the Yeast Bread section in our On Cooking textbook. The recipe we used was so simple with perfect results. Since then, I keep a jar of yeast on hand at all times and I try to bake bread any chance I get. _MG_0464 copy

Some time after making them in the test kitchens, I lost my recipe. A sad day that was when I finally realized it.  I looked everywhere. Eventually I gave up and tried a handful I found on Pinterest. Some were fails while others were good but they just didn’t hold up to the recipe we used. Sometime later I randomly found the one we used hiding in my old backpack. (Boy was I thrilled). This recipe gives Cinnabun a run for it’s money. 

I have no doubt that once you try this recipe you’ll never go back to store bought again. Here is how I make them…

 

Melt-In-Ya-Mouth Cinnamon Rolls

INGREDIENTS:

For the Rolls:_MG_0428 copy

  • 3 1/2 -4 C. All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/3 C. granulated sugar
  • 1 Tsp. salt
  • 4 1/2 Tsp. active dry yeast
  • 1 C. milk
  • 4 Tbs. butter
  • 1 egg

For the Filling:

  • 3/4 C. granulated sugar
  • 1 Tbs. ground cinnamon
  • 5 Tbs. butter melted
  • 1/3 C. finely chopped pecans, optional but encouraged 😉 

For the Glaze:

  • 1 C. powdered sugar, sifted to remove lumps
  • 2 Tbs. butter, room temperature
  • 1 Tsp. vanilla
  • 1-2 Tbs. milk

DIRECTIONS: 

For the rolls and filling:

  1. In a stand mixer with a dough hook attachment, combine 2 cups of the flour, sugar, salt and yeast. 
  2. In a quart sized sauce pan, heat milk over low heat until very warm or a thermometer reads 120-125ºF. Add the warm milk, butter and egg to flour mixture. 
  3. Beat on low speed for 1 minute, stopping frequently to scrap the sides and bottom of bowl with rubber spatula. Do this until flour mixture is moistened. 
  4. Crank mixer to medium speed and beat for an additional minute. Lower speed and add in remaining flour 1/2 cup at a time just until dough is soft, pulls away from the bowl and is easy enough to handle. ( You may not use all 4 cups of flour. Do not force it) Once flour is incorporated, crank speed to medium and let mix for 1 minute. 
  5. Lightly flour a clean work surface and turn the dough out. Knead for about 5 minutes until dough is smooth and springy. If dough starts to stick, sprinkle extra flour as needed but be careful not to incorporate too much as the dough will be be tough. 
  6. Spray a large bowl with cooking spray. Place dough in bowl, spray a little more cooking spray over top and cover loosely with plastic wrap; let rise in warm, draft free place for 1 hour or until dough has doubled in size. Preheat oven to 350ºF.
  7. In a small bowl, mix sugar and cinnamon; set aside. Grease  or add parchment paper to a sheet pan. When dough is ready, sprinkle work surface with flour. Punch dough down and turn out onto floured surface. With a rolling pin (or your hands) roll dough to about 15×10 inch rectangle. 
  8. Spread melted butter over dough to 1/2 inch from edges. Sprinkle evenly with cinnamon sugar mixture and nuts. 
  9. Beginning at the longest side, roll the dough tightly. Using a sharp/serrated knife, cut into 15- 1 inch slices (or 12- 1 1/2 inch slices for colossal sized rolls). Place slightly apart on prepared sheet pan; cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise in warm place and addition 30 minutes or until rolls have doubled in size.
  10. Remove plastic wrap and brush rolls with melted butter. Bake in preheated over for 30-35 minutes or until golden brown. Cool for 5 minutes before adding glaze.

For the Glaze:

  1. In a small bowl, mix in all the glaze ingredients until smooth; adding enough milk so glaze is thing enough to drizzle. 

Notes

  • I know this seems like a lot of steps, but please don’t let that discourage you from trying it out. I promise- It’s worth the extra work!!! You really can’t mess this up unless you kill your yeast. 
  • It is very important that you do not scald your milk. Yeast are live organisms. When you add milk that is too hot, it will kill them. You need the yeast to get a good height and texture. I like to use a thermometer so if you do the same, keep the temperature between 110-125. A nice happy medium 🙂 
  • I must mention, the icing on the rolls in my pictures have a cream cheese icing. I like to flip flop between the two but they are equally delicious!

 

_MG_0440 copy 

I really hope you liked this recipe for Melt-In-Ya-Mouth Cinnamon Rolls as much as I do. Be warned that once you make them for friends or family, someone is going to start expecting them at every meeting. Take it from me- I can’t go to my mother in-laws house without bringing her a batch all to herself. 

If you give this recipe a try, let me know how it turned out. I’d love to hear all about it! 

_MG_0464 CR.jpg

 

 

Bake It Best

 

Baking cookies has become a favorite in almost every kitchen, especially in mine. One childhood tradition that I managed to successfully pass down to my own kids is baking a wide assortment of cookies to leave out for Santa. Creating the perfect cookie isn’t always as easy as it looks. Because I’m sure we aren’t the only family to carry on this tradition, I want to pass on some of my most helpful tips to make sure your baking goes smoothly and more enjoyable this Holiday season.


All about the Cookie

Types of Cookies:

  • Drop- Made from a soft dough that is spooned or scooped (my favorite way) into mounds for baking. Example: Chocolate Chip.
  • Icebox- Made from dough that is shaped into logs or rectan
    _MG_0238 copy
    Christmas Sugar Cookies

    gles, chilled thoroughly and then sliced into individual pieces and baked as needed.

  • Bar- Made from a stiff dough that is rolled into a log  and then baked. Biscotti is a good example. 
  • Sheet- Made from dough or batter that is pressed, poured or layered in shallow pans and cut into portions after baking. 
  • Cut-Outs– Made from a firm dough that is rolled out into a sheet and then cut into shapes before baking. Example: Sugar cookies.
  • Spritz- Made with a soft dough that is forced through a pastry tip or cookie press. 
  • Wafer- Made with a thin batter that is poured or spread onto a baking sheet and baked. When still hot, the wafers are molded into a variety of shapes. 

Chilling Out:

Most cookie recipes call for chilling the dough before baking. This step is recommended because it helps stiffen the butter and makes the dough more manageable. 

  • Chill all cookie doughs made with butter or shortening in the fridge for the time recommended in the recipe. 
  • If using margarine- you may benefit from quick chilling dough in the freezer for one third of the recommended refrigeration time. (It’s not advised to do this with butter or shortening as it will get too firm). 
  • For rolled cookies with Margarine, refrigerate for at least 5 hours or freeze for 2 hours before rolling. 

Choosing the right Cookie Sheet:

  • Opt for heavy- gauge aluminum with low sides or none at all.
  • Invest in lighter-colored cookies sheets. Darker sheets may cause cookies to overbrown.
  • Selecting sheets with a dull finish will allows cookie bottoms to brown more evenly.
  • Use shiny sheets for cookies that should not brown on bottoms, such as shortbreads. 

Baking Gadgets:
I can not stress enough at how helpful these gadgets are in the kitchen. They make life easier for every baker by speeding up production and keeping the work-space cleaner. If you do not already own these, you might want to consider purchasing them. 

  • Cookie/Ice-cream portion scoops- These can be found in many size (I have about 4 different sizes). They guarantee your drop cookies will come out the same size and shape every time. 
  • Cookie Press- used when making spritz cookies. The dough is added to a tube and then forced through a shape template. These allow you to make cookies in various shapes. 
  • Offset spatula- This is great for not only cakes, but cookies too. You can use them to spread frosting on bars or brownies keeping your hands above the frosting. They allow you to get into the corners and keep your Hands clean. 
  • Chocolate Chip Cookies
    Chocolate Chip Cookies

    Cookie cutters

  • Rolling pin
  • Parchment paper- while this isn’t technically a “gadget”,  it is a necessity. I’ve only just started keeping this around my house. I always thought it was easier to keep the Non-stick spray handy but what I got was a sticky mess when it baked onto my sheet-pans. The parchment keeps my cookies from sticking and my sheet-pans clean. I also don’t have to change the paper every time I pull a batch of cookies out like when I have to keep adding spray after each batch. 

Storage:

  • Most cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 1 week in the fridge or 6 months in the freezer in a airtight freezer container.
  • Do not store crispy cookies and soft cookies in the same container– the crispy cookies will absorb the moisture from the soft cookies and ruin the texture of both
  • Do not store strong flavored cookies with milder flavored cookies.

Extra Know-Hows:

  • Always read your recipe before starting! This will help you have an idea about chilling time and preparation before diving in.
  • Use room temperature eggs and butter. Eggs and butter blend together better at room temperature. I like to make sure I put the butter out an hour before baking. If I am short on time or forget to bring out my butter, I like to cut it into smaller pieces before starting the rest of my mise en place. For eggs, I like to put them out about 30 minutes before I start cooking or I will cover them with hot tap water before starting. 
  • Use fresh baking soda and baking powder. These stay good up 6 months to a year so if you have had yours for that long or longer, it’s probably best that you replace them. Having fresh baking soda/powder will ensure your cookies don’t come out flat and lifeless. 
  • Underbake your cookies. Like chewy cookies? Then you will not want to skip this step. I’m a big chewy cookie fan, I actually can’t stand a cookie that has a hard, dry texture. I found that slightly underbaking my cookies by a minute or two than their bake-time gives me that perfect chewy texture. 

These are some of my favorite baking tips that I found to be most helpful throughout my years of baking.  I hope you found these tips equally as helpful to you. 

What are some tips that you help you in the kitchen?

Sister Sister

Any momma’s out there love taking pictures of their kids ? If you answered yes, I’m sure you have tried to do you’re own set up with them at home or your favorite place at the park at least one time since they were born. I’ll bet your adventure went a little like this…

…You start by going all out on getting them the perfect outfits. You scavenge the house for the perfect props to accent your perfect little set up with grand ideas for those cute little Pinterest-perfect poses. When it’s time to finally get the kids ready, they seem super pumped to be getting their 15 minutes in the “spotlight” (let’s face it- kids are not camera shy. Those vain little munchkins). You pose them perfectly, pullout your camera and just bring it to your face when… Boom! All heck breaks loose. One looks away, the other wonders off. Next, their pulling each other’s hair or rubbing dirt on their clothes. You yell and threaten them with stripping them of their T.V. rights or taking their favorite toy from them. That doesn’t work so you start with the bribing of candy and all things sweet. “Just. One. Picture. Pa-leeaassee!” Still no cooperation. Instead, you get looks from them like you’re stuck on stupid. After an hour of pulling you’re hair out, you finally decide to just go with it. It is what it is.

That’s pretty much how it is anytime I want to do a little practice session with my girls. It’s rare I ever get photos of them and even more rare that I get some of them together. This past October I was really hoping I could get just a few of them to hang on my wall. That evening I grabbed all the pumpkins I had around the house, a wooden basket, and an old kitchen chair. I pretty much just shot whatever they wanted to dish out at me, hoping I got at least one good shot of them. Alas, I successfully managed to pull it off but I felt defeated by the time we went in the house.

After this session I have learned these few things:

  • My Little Red (the youngest) is a diva.
  • My Big Girl’s go-to camera face is the “mean mugger”.
  • These two do NOT like posing together.
  • There is a reason I don’t normally photograph my own kids.

Ah the life of a mother with girls. They have a never ending supply of attitude, whether it be to my advantage or not. I guess we gotta love’em anyway, right? Totally kidding! I love my kids without question, even when they are at their most rotten.  😉 

Here, it’s mid-December and I am finally getting around to editing them (Hooray For Christmas Break!). I started off editing them in a way that it just screams “Autumn!” but being as though it’s nearly winter I wanted some of the images to have a wintery feel. So with lots of Youtube tutorials, here is what I came up with. Please enjoy some of my favorites from their little mini session.

I hope you loved these as much as I did! Let me know what you think in the comments! 

Remember to Like, Subscribe and Share The Hungary Pollock for more updates on Food, My photography, and a little of my everyday life. 😉 

Still Not Offended

A few weeks ago, my husband and I were talking about his job. While he may not enjoy the job or better yet, the expectations of the job, he is particularly fond of all of the people he works with. I’ve never seen him light up the way he does when he talks about the friends he’s made since he started. He brought up that one of the ladies he works with has taken an interest in my blog and how it’s “The Hungary Pollock“. It’s my understanding that there is another lady that works with him who is also Polish. As Mason and his friend were conversing about my blog, the other lady took offense to my blog name to which he replied, “Um my wife is Polish and she’s Hungarian. Hint the name The Hungary Pollock!?” and she turned away. It’s weighed heavily on my mind since our little trip to the store when he revealed all of this. I’m sure the girl didn’t mean anything by expressing how she felt. After all, we are entitled to our opinions, right? But it occurred to me that there may be other’s who aren’t fond of my choice of words used to name my blog. So, here is me, explaining the name behind my blog.

It’s no secret that I have “Pollock” as the title of my name, but why would anyone think it is “offensive”? Growing up in a politically correct world, it seems like people take offense to anything these days. If you’re not a Pole (person of polish origin or decent), most likely you wouldn’t understand. A Pollock (Polak; Polack; Pollack- I’ve seen it spelled many ways, including Pollock) is meant to be offensive to a polish person. The term was first used in 19th century as a non-offensive way to describe the Poles. Later down the line the tables have turned and it was used as a way to reflect the Pole’s intelligence. Poles became the butt of many jokes, so maybe that’s why some take offense?

If you’re a fan of my blog, heck… if you’re around me enough, you would know I am really proud of my heritage as everyone should be. I’ve let it be known from the beginning of The Hungary Pollock that I am of Hungarian and Polish decent. The Hungarian side is from my mother’s and the Polish is from my father’s side. While my mother was proud to be Hungarian and she let us know, it was when visiting my dad that I would be “forced” (and I use that lightly- I may have secretly enjoyed it) to appreciate the festive sounds of polka blaring in the kitchen as he bobbed his body up and down to the rhythm while doing what he loves-cooking (would you imagine that?).The smell of tomato sauce that smothers the Golabki (cabbage rolls) weaved its way from room to room in my grandma’s house. I can remember him hanging the Polish flag from my grandmother’s porch for all to see. I haven’t been to his new place, but I can imagine that same flag hanging tightly from his new porch. Can you say, “Polish Proud!”?

Lorain, Ohio, the town I first lived in and where all of my family resides, is very ethnically diverse. In fact, Lorain has been recognized as one of Ohio’s most ethnically diverse regions.I mean, they host an International Festival with people of all ethnic backgrounds coming together to offer their foods and traditions to the public. In fact,  two of my dad’s girlfriend’s nieces won the Hungarian queen for the International pageant. Sometimes, I wish I could say that I grew up in this community that takes pride in their ethnic background but I finished growing up in a little town in the Appalachians, where less people take an interest in their background and more of an interest in how country they can be. This isn’t a knock toward anyone, just stating that I’ve been on both sides of the fence and these are my experiences.

So how does where I lived pertain to the offensiveness of the term “Pollock”? Well, because it’s the people who surrounded me that made me who I am. I grew up visiting my dad during my summer breaks and being around my Polish grandma who, along with her siblings, is the true Pole of the family. I often heard the term “pollock” being thrown around a lot and it was never offensively. The most I’ve ever heard it being used for was to say he or she was polish. Shoot, I’ve been described as a pollock by many . I never once thought my intelligence was being challenged… but then again,  I have never been one to take offense to much. Most of the time, if something bothers me, I grit my teeth and move on. It wasn’t until recently that I heard of “Pollock” being derogatory slur. Listen, guys, here is my thought on the matter and I won’t say too much more, “Life is too short to worry about the little things!” A word is what you make it. You do you, and I will do me. While I won’t just walk up to someone and call them a “Pollock”, I also won’t stop myself from using the term for my own enjoyment. The Hungary Pollock was meant to be witty and fun, in hopes of creating a brand that others will remember when they think of me or my cooking. It’s been my dream to have my own cooking show, food truck or restaurant. Wonder what it’s name would be? That’s day gone right! The Hungary Pollock!

So, I am sorry if my blog’s name, The Hungary Pollock, was offensive to you but am I a bad person to say that I don’t really care? (wow, that sounded harsh and not exactly what I’m trying to say). I don’t have time to care. (Better?) Ok, let me explain  what I mean. I’m polish and the name means nothing to me other than I’m polish and that’s who I am! I don’t have time to care about what bothers you or the person next to you. I have my own life that I live and I have children to raise. I won’t get worked up with the rest of the world when someone says something I don’t agree on. The most I can do is carry on and promise to not teach my kids to get worked up over other people’s opinions and “harsh” words.

Sorry for the long post, but I felt compelled to defend the name behind my blog. Much love to all! 

Starting My Break Off Right

Christmas is nearly here and I am finally on a much needed break from all that schooling I’ve whined and complained about the past few months. No more long hours writing lengthy essays for English 101 and best of all, no more wasted valuable time watching videos and doing simulations in MyIT Lab for DLC 100. I despised my computer class. Loved the teacher as a person, but the class made me feel like I was computer illiterate. All of my classmates were reluctant when we finished our final and didn’t have to step foot in the classroom again.

I figure I better start my break off right with some posts throughout the next month. Since it began, I’ve already started catching up on editing pictures of my daughters that I was reluctant to take in October (I know, I’m a procrastinator). I’ll be posting a blog in the next few days about that adventure. Between editing and parenting, I’ve been scouring cookbooks, Pinterest and racking through my pantry shelf for odd ball ingredients to put together and “hopefully” pull off a dish or two that might actually “Wow!” some foodies out there. I don’t do a whole lot of recipe developing, mainly because I lack the time and convince myself I’m not creative enough to pull it off. I mean, there are tons of amazing chefs out there who have probably put together every flavor combination you can think of. How is little ol’me supposed to top that? How am I supposed to come up with something that hasn’t already been made? If it’s edible, you can bet your hind-end someone has made it. See what I mean? I lack confidence in that area.

That’s when I started deliberating, “I need to break away from that kind of thinking and just go for it.” I’ve browsed Pinterest and google for ways to dabble in recipe development. Let me tell you, this isn’t a broad subject. However, what I did find in a few articles is that I need to just “try, try, and try”. Experimenting with a recipe that you put together is the only way you are going to get anywhere. With that thinking in mind, while I am on this short break,  I am making it my goal to come up with at least three new, tested and delicious recipes that are completely mine to share with all of you!

Why in the world did I just make a post about this random thought? I honestly don’t know. It could be because of the Christmas gifts I received from my awesome classmates. 😉12347876_1228758050484493_1905622119368435196_n.jpg

I am a big Pioneer Woman fan. Something about her show makes me relate to her. It might be her down to earth personality or the country feel she brings to the kitchen, maybe that she started her career with blogging now holds a post on foodnetwork (something, I’ve only dreamed of doing). My classmates know it, too. Thanks to Ruth, I was gifted with some  The Pioneer Woman ramekins (oh the possibilities- creme bruleé, cheese and chocolate souffles. See?) and a creamer cow from her daughter (ain’t it cute?). Drake gifted three different sized portion scoops (otherwise known as ice-cream scoops) that will be coming in handy for my drop cookies my girls and I will be making for Christmas. And Basil got each of us a recipe binder for our most beloved recipes. I was super stoked to be taking home all of these.These gifts meant the world to me and they are something all foodies can appreciate. So yea,  I guess that’s where the inspiration for this post came from. Think of this post as a break down of the next few weeks to come. I have this dying urge to put these apparatus’ to good use and look forward to sharing my kitchen “wins” with all of you.

So, enough about my boring life and how I intend to throw some of this and a little that in a bowl and expect a culinary masterpiece straight out of the oven. Be on the look out for my kitchen “wins”… or “fails”. Do you like making your own dishes? What are some fun ways you’ve dressed up dinner or a dessert? I’d love to hear about them in the comments.

Remember to like, share and follow The Hungary Pollock for more recipes, photography and updates.