Sunday, May 3, 2015

Monkey Bread - May Secret Recipe Club #Recipe

It was a long and busy month of conferences, traveling and obligations. After a great trip up to Seattle for the SoFabU On the Road conference, It was hard finding enough time to get into the kitchen. We ended up going out to eat more than I like. The first weekend I had free to spends some time baking, I had a marathon bread baking session for upcoming posts and family requests.

When I started looking through my assigned blog for The Secret Recipe Club May assignment, Cheese With Noodles, I found a bread that would fit perfectly into that baking session. Recently I made a Savory filled Monkey Bread with BundtBakers, so I was ready to hit the sweet side of Monkey Bread with this recipe from Anna in Alaska.

I have been looking for just the right reason to make a sweet Monkey Bread.

Anna posts her favorite recipes on the blog and each one is only shared after it has been well tested. She has a wide variety of recipes to choose from with sweet and savory, breakfasts to beverages. The next recipe of hers I want to try with my family will be her Umami Burgers.

Monkey Bread is really easy to make. I actually made this one in my bread machine on the dough setting. Though I love kneading a loaf of bread, talk about stress relief, I don't always have the time to devote to sticky hands and dough. Making the dough in my bread machine saves me a lot of time and clean-up. The actually shaping and coating is easy enough to do afterwards.

Anna mentioned that her husband enjoyed this Monkey Bread more than cinnamon rolls, my husband and youngest felt the same way. They loved how each ball of dough was covered in cinnamon goodness, and the powdered sugar glaze was a nice added touch.

So I put all my ingredients in my bread machine dough pan and let the machine work it's magic. It was a pretty soft white loaf. In Anna's post she mentions letting her dough rise in a warmed oven, the bread machine is my substitute for that. It creates the perfect warm and humid place to let the bread rise. Though this particular weekend, after baking so many types of bread, I am sure it was already warm and plenty humid enough to just rise on the counter!

Once it had risen once, I assembled all the ingredients. It needs melted butter, a brown sugar, cinnamon mixture and a bundt pan sprayed lightly with non-stick spray.

Then divide the dough into walnut-sized piece, dip in melted butter and roll in the brown sugar, cinnamon mixture. Each little covered ball goes into the bundt pan and into the oven.

The only thing that makes this warm, gooey ring of cinnamon goodness better is a little powdered sugar icing  drizzled over the top.

Ready to dive right in? Let's get started.

Monkey Bread
recipe adapted from Cheese with Noodles

You will Need:

  • 1/4 c. lukewarm water
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 2 1/4 tsp. yeast
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 3/4 c. whole milk
  • 1 egg
  • 3 3/4 c. flour, more or less as needed to create a sticky but cohesive dough
  • 1/4 c. sugar
  • 1 t. salt
Cinnamon Sugar topping
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 1/4 c. brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. cinnamon
Powdered Sugar Glaze
  • 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 2 c. powdered sugar
  • 1/4 c. milk
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Combine the ingredients inside your bread machine dough pan in the order directed by your instruction manual. Set the machine to the dough cycle.

After the dough has gone through a first rise, divide into walnut-sized pieces. Dip in melted butter and roll in the cinnamon and brown sugar mixture. Place in a greased bundt pan and repeat until all the pieces are coated an in the pan. Let the bread rise until it has doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and bake the Monkey Bread for 25 to 30 minutes. Let the bread cool slightly till you can handle the pan. Invert onto a platter and let come to room temperature before drizzling with powdered sugar.


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Friday, May 1, 2015

DIY Teacher Appreciation Card with GraphicStock

The school year is wrapping up and I have been meaning to start on Teacher Appreciation gifts for my children. This year I had one in Kindergarten and another in the 1st grade.

I have had the opportunity to watch both of my children become readers and really love learning. So, of course I want to do something special for the teacher's who created such an atmosphere in the classroom. I plan to put a few fun items together, a gift card or chocolates, but I also wanted to create a special card.

Doesn't everyone love receiving a personalized card?

Well, a great card begins with great images!

I recently discovered a fun new resource for images. Whether you like to create cards, craft or create other DIY projects, there are so many great options with GraphicStock

GraphicStock has over 250,000 graphics and images you can use royalty free, so no worries about running into copyright issues. 

I have to warn you, it is easy to get lost just browsing the different categories on GraphicStock. Luckily if you find something you like, that you want to save for a project down the road, just save it in your favorites. Then you can come back later.

I went in search of some school themed backgrounds and ideas. I loved the extensive chalkboard collection. I found everything from boards, to textures to sayings and doodles.

I ended up going with a classic chalkboard look. All I had to do was download the image and put it into my own design program, like Photoshop. Even PicMonkey will work here for adding images on top or text, etc.

I loved these doodles, too.

First I downloaded the graphics I wanted to use for this project. Then I opened up PicMonkey on my computer.

Then I used the text tool and added my message to the chalkboard. It was a lot of fun to play with the fonts and colors till I was happy with the end result. Having a wide selection of digital graphics and images isn't just handy for card making, I have used them in the past to create customized cupcake wrappers and treat bags. There really are so many possibilities with GraphicStock.

Would you like to make your own? Right now you can get a 7 DAY FREE TRIAL with GraphicStock. You can enjoy up to 140 free graphics during your trial, but I think you may want to stay for more.

If you want to cancel at the end of the GraphicStock free trial period, don't forget to set yourself a reminder to cancel the subscription so you don't have to pay for the membership.

Giveaway Time:

And if 7 FREE DAYS sound good, what about a full year to use GraphicStock free?  1 person will win  1-year complimentary acces to GraphicStock (valued at $588)

1. Just sign up for the free trial and enjoy your downloads for 7 days.

2. Let me know what you think of GraphicStock. Just comment below on a project you are working on or what you want to make with your images.

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Dial Kids and Dial Baby - 2 New Ways to Keep Kids Clean

The Dial brand provided me with a sample of Dial Baby Body + Hair Wash and Dial Kids Foaming Hand Soap in exchange for a product review. All opinions and experiences are my own.

This time of year there are a lot of messy dirty hands, faces and things stuck in the kids' hair. It is Spring and after a Winter of being cooped up inside, the kids are up for exploring the backyard, climbing some trees and digging up anything they can.

Okay, it doesn't help that I buy the kids shovels and the two oldest got metal detectors for Christmas. I am partly to blame, for sure.

But all that dirty fun means it is important that they hit the sink to wash up and also make regular visits to the bathtub to catch that dirt behind their ears and tangles in their hair. So I am excited to tell you a little about the New Dial Baby Body + Hair Wash and Dial Kids Foaming Hand Wash.

As a Mom, I feel like I am in a constant battle to get my kids to wash their hands. I am often told, "I did already!"... even though clearly their hands haven't been scrubbed well. Recently I started buying my kids their own foaming hand wash and noticed their whining wasn't quite so bad. The Dial Foaming Hand Wash isn't a bright color, no staining drips on the counter tops, but does have a fun scent (watermelon) that my kids love.

My daughter is a big fan and declared this her new favorite. She isn't old enough to wear perfume or deodorant, but washing her hands with this yummy watermelon Dial foaming hand wash makes her feel like she has her own "fragrance".

I just love that she is happy to wash her hands more often.

As for the Dial Gentle baby body wash, this was perfect for all my kids. My daughter hates the sting of suds in her eyes still, and I have even caught my oldest son using this because it is so mild.

But, I love that it is perfectly gentle on my toddler's sensitive skin.

Both Dial products were developed with Pediatric Dermatologists, are hypoallergenic and have no added parabens or artificial dyes! Yay!

Overall, these have both been a nice addition to our bathroom and have been great new products for the whole family.

Have you tried either of these products yet? Which one would you like to try?
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Thursday, April 30, 2015

Raisin Cinnamon Swirl French Toast

Happy National Raisin Week!

What? You didn't know it was National Raisin Week? Well, from May 1st - May 7th there is a little extra raisin love going around. Jumping on that trend, I am here kicking of this sweet week with 10 other food bloggers. Be sure to check out all the links at the end of my post.

When trying to think of a great raisin recipe to share, I thought about my childhood. Sometimes growing up, but not often, a loaf of raisin cinnamon swirl bread would end up in our grocery bag. It was sweet, cinnamon-rich perfection. I loved to enjoy a slice toasted with lots of butter.

I was never one to just snack on raisins, but in certain dishes, I loved them! Besides the sweet bread, I also thought they were amazing in the bottom of my Mom's rice pudding. And my Mom's giant oatmeal raisin cookies? I couldn't get enough of them.

As I was making this bread I realized that my son, almost 2, hadn't tried raisins before. I wasn't sure what he was going to think of them - he is currently in that picky toddler phase. But, since he loves all breads right now, I hoped he would at least give it a taste test.

This bread was simple to make, in fact, I let my bread machine do all the hard work for me. I added all the ingredients to my dough pan, set it on dough cycle and went off to do other things (you can find the recipe below)

After the dough has been kneaded and goes through an initial rise in the bread machine, it is ready to come out and to be filled and rolled.

 Instead of the usual brown sugar and butter paste, I used King Arthur's Baker's Cinnamon Filling since it is much thicker. I was trying to cut down on excess moisture that might cause my roll to have gaps. Then I plumped up my raisins in a little warm water and drained off the excess before adding them to the top of my rolled out dough.

Little excess moisture and a tight roll really help this bread to form a nice solid loaf.

Then I placed my roll into a baking pan sprayed with non-stick spray to rise for a final hour.

The finished loaf came out with a nice swirl of cinnamon and raisins.

Now, I could have stopped there. I could have sliced up my loaf and had it toasted and buttered like the good 'ole days. But, no. I wanted to really have some fun with it. I sliced my loaf and then let them dry slightly on a sheet pan at 200 degrees.

I mixed up a simple French Toast batter with eggs, milk, sugar and vanilla, then dipped my slices and pan seared them to a nice golden brown. Topped with a little pure maple syrup... and a few more raisins, my Raisin Cinnamon Swirl French Toast was a big hit with the family.

Yes, even the picky toddler enjoyed a big plate of this French Toast. And you know, he picked out every raisin to eat first!

Raisin Cinnamon Swirl French Toast

Bread machine Raisin Cinnamon Swirl Bread

(2 lb. loaf) You will Need:

  • 1/3 c. water, room temp.
  • 1 c. buttermilk, room temp.
  • 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1/3 c. sugar
  • 4 1/2 c. bread flour
  • 1 Tbsp. + 1 tsp. gluten
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 1/2 tsp. SAF yeast
  • 1/4 c. baker's cinnamon filling
  • 1 Tbsp. water
  • 1/4 c. raisins + more for serving
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/3 c. milk
  • 1 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1 tsp. butter for brushing the top of the loaf

Place the first 8 ingredients in your bread machine, in the order suggested by your machine's manual. Set the machine for the dough cycle and let the dough rise once inside the machine.

When the dough is nearing the end of the cycle, place the raisins in a cup with hot water and allow them to plump up for at least 5 minutes. Prepare the cinnamon filling by mixing the Baker's Cinnamon Filling with 1 tablespoon water to create a thick paste.

Flour your work space sparingly, or use a rolling mat and rolling pin. Roll the dough out to a 12" by 24" rectangle. Smear the cinnamon filling evenly over the top and sprinkle with the plumped raisins. Starting at one end, tightly roll up the dough into a log. Pinch the seam and place the roll seam side down in a greased loaf pan. Cover with kitchen wrap and a tea towel and let the loaf rise till it is almost to the top of the loaf pan.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Brush the top of the loaf with 1 teaspoon butter. Bake the bread for 30 - 35 minutes, tent lightly with foil if the top starts to brown too quickly. Let the loaf cool completely before slicing

For French Toast

Slice the loaf of bread and allow the pieces to dry overnight or for about 45 minutes to an hour in a 200 degree oven

Heat a griddle or cast iron skillet to medium heat with a little bit of butter.

Whisk together the egg, milk, nutmeg and sugar to form the batter. Let each slice soak up a little of the egg mixture before cooking in a pan till golden brown. Flip and brown on the opposite side.

Serve with pure maple syrup and a handful of raisins.


For more delicious recipes featuring raisins for National Raisin Week, visit a few of my favorite blogs:

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Mother's Day Giveaway - Amazon Gift Card $50 Giveaway (ends 5/15)

Welcome to the 2015 Mother's Day Giveaway Hop! 
We have over 40 amazing bloggers who have come together to bring you the opportunity to win 40+ awesome prizes ranging from $20 - $200!

And who wouldn't want to win some great prizes in honor of Mother's Day, right? Whether you want to win for you own Mom, or need a little Mother's Day pampering for yourself. Come enter, find some new blogs and don't forget to wear your lucky socks! It's giveaway time and I hope you are lucky! 

Hosted By:

Co-Hosted By:

The 2015 Mother's Day Giveaway Hop will end on May 15th, 2015 at 11:59pm EST.
Each participating blogger will be hosting a giveaway for a prize with a minimum value of $20. Each giveaway is exclusive to this event and will include the linky so that you can easily hop from one giveaway to the next. Enter as many giveaways as you would like to! 
Be sure to come back and visit daily for additional entry options! 

Each blogger is responsible for their own giveaway. Social Exposure PR, Co-Hosts and participating blogs are not responsible for each individual giveaway. If you have questions regarding a specific giveaway please contact that blogger directly. Each giveaway will have their own terms and conditions and, requirements for entering. 

Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and other social media sites are not affiliated with or responsible for this event or any of the giveaways associated. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Now, for even more awesome prizes, be sure to hop on over to some of the giveaways listed below!

Thanks for stopping by and good luck!  

I hope you and your family have a wonderful Mother's Day.
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Win a $100 Amazon Gift Card (May 1- 7)

Yes, it has been a while since I joined in on the fun, but wanted to come back with Makobi Scribe to offer you a $100 Amazon Giveaway! 


Makobi Scribe is bringing you this Amazon Instagram blast where one lucky reader will win a $100 Amazon gift card. The giveaway is open to everyone and provided by Makobi Scribe. Good Luck!

If you are a blogger, you can sign up for this blast here.

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Fast and Flavorful Pineapple Mango Salsa

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #Salsafy #CollectiveBias

This easy and flavorful Pineapple Mango Salsa recipe is perfect for topping grilled chicken, fish or crustini - toasted or grilled slices of bread.

Back before my children were born, my husband and I spent our free evenings in the kitchen. That is actually where the "adventures" part of this blog name started. We tackled things like fresh homemade pasta, our favorite pie recipes and even simple cheeses. It was a great time to problem solve and discover together. You could say we ate very well.

One of my favorite recipes during that period was a fresh Mango Salsa. Once we made it, we were hooked! I remember that we tried it on various meats and just as a salsa itself. Over time the recipe has evolved to include pineapple and my garden tomatoes.

It is amazingly flavorful, but I didn't want to only enjoy this at the peak of Summer.

Now that I have kids, I don't always have time to break down my own pineapple (yes, canned will do fine!), or wait for seasonal fruits and veggies. I have found that I can enjoy this salsa anytime of year by using Hunt's Diced Tomatoes. I am a big fan of the fact they are peeled with FlashSteam® , and taste like the tomatoes right off our farm without having to do all the dicing and peeling myself.

Smart Mom shortcuts can taste amazing and save time, don't you think?

Like I said,if you can't find a ripe pineapple or mangoes in the fresh product section, feel free to buy canned. But, if you do want to really take this salsa over the top for a backyard presentation, get a whole pineapple and use the fruit as a bowl for serving your Pineapple Mango Salsa.

Here is the line-up for this Pineapple Mango Salsa.

Pineapple Mango Salsa

You will need:
  • 1 whole pineapple (or a large can of diced)
  • 1 can of Hunt's Petite Diced Tomatoes, drained well
  • 1/2 c. diced mango
  • 1/2 jalapeno, diced
  • 2 Tbsp. lime juice
  • 1 Tbsp. white vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • a pinch of salt to taste

If using a whole pineapple, cut it in half length-wise. Remove the core and slice out the fruit. Leave a bowl to serve the salsa in.

Gently mix the ingredients so all the fruit is covered with lime juice and vinegar. Season with salt to taste ans serve immediately.

I served my Pineapple Mango Salsa on BBQ chicken. I rubbed skinless chicken breasts with a basic chicken seasoning and grilled as usual. Then I topped each portion with a generous amount of salsa right before serving.

Isn't that pretty?

Of course, this salsa recipe goes great on bread.

Slice a baguette on the bias, brush a little olive oil on top and put them under the broiler till they start to brown up. Serve next to a pineapple filled with Pineapple Mango Salsa for a fast appetizer this Summer.

I grabbed all the ingredients for this salsa at my local Walmart. Depending on your dish and your taste-buds, there is a whole selection of Hunt's Diced Tomatoes to choose from.

I am stocking my pantry to be prepared for Summer entertaining.  Be sure to print this Hunt's coupon to use on your next Walmart shopping trip; to Buy 3 get 1 Free!

You can find even more amazing salsa recipes with Hunt's Diced Tomatoes at . Which recipe is your favorite?
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Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Create a No-Sew Captain America Sweatshirt

This MARVEL's The Avengers: Age of Ultron shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions and experiences are mine alone. #AvengersUnite #CollectiveBias

It might be an understatement to say we are excited. My kids are the perfect age for superheros and with MARVEL's The Avengers: Age of Ultron coming to theaters May 1st, we are enjoying all the building excitement as we wait for the movie's release. Because my family is all about dressing up and imaginative play, I created a no-sew Captain America sweatshirt for my son. It is the perfect thing for our cool Spring evenings without messing up his superhero play.

My kids love dressing up. You might recall that we go all out for Halloween, but the truth is dress-up day is pretty much every day around here. I try to keep the dress-up box filled with their latest interests. We have been through pirates, fairies and even the UPS uniform, but right now it is all about the Avengers! 

Of course my kids are not the only ones who get in on the fun. Our Patterdale Terrier, Huck, makes an excellent Thor, don't you think? And well, I do have an Ultron mask myself when I really want to get the kids' attention.

Now, my kids don't like to be the same Avenger day after day, so we had to stock up on all the new masks, hands and fun available for the coming movie.

We headed into our local Walmart, where you can find a wide selection of Avenger's fun. It all started the moment we walked in the door. We were greeted with these Discover, Play & Shop signs.

It is a great reminder that you can pick up toys, food and even enjoy the Walmart Super Heroes Assemble app while you shop in the store. You can find it on Google Play or through the App Store. If you enjoyed the previous Augmented Reality app for the first Avengers movie, you will want to check this one out! 

In Super Heroes Assemble, your phone or tablet become a portal to exclusive Marvel's Avengers: Age of Ultron content. Watch movie clips and behind the scenes exclusives, plus, scan Avengers displays at Walmart and to become your favorite Avenger. The app really brings the heros to life and will get your kids even more excited to dress up and become their favorite heros.

Look for specially marked brands like Kellog's, Hasboro, Dr. Pepper or Marvel for secret surprises to unlock around the store.

Starting 4/30, you can scan any 12 packs of Dr. Pepper Avengers specially marked boxes or scan the in-store signage to unlock a digital comic book courtesy of Dr. Pepper!

Of course I had to make a stop at the toy section and found this packed display with toys, mask action figures. This is where I stocked up on all our masks, hulk hands, etc. for our role-play fun.

Though we love buying full costumes of our favorite characters, this time of year it is still rather chilly in the evenings. I wanted my son to be able to play after dinner without having to squash his superhero fun with a jacket. 

I mean, how you can you be Hulk with a windbreaker?

So I went with my son's favorite character, Captain America and have plans to make others for my daughter and toddler, too.

Creating this no-sew Captain America Sweatshirt is fast and easy! It is a great thing to pair with the mask and shield we picked up at Walmart.

To get started you will need:

  • 1 blue sweatshirt (go for the vibrant Captain America blue)
  • 1 sheet of red felt
  • 2 sheets of white felt
  • 2 sheets of double stick fusible web
  • scissors
  • ruler
  • pencil
  • pins

I started by creating the white star. I used the Captain America shield we picked up at Walmart as a template, but any small star will work. You could also use a large star cookie cutter as a stencil.

Peel one side of backing off the fusible web, the side you did not trace your star on. Lay this on a piece of white felt and iron it on.

Cut out the star, remove the other side of the backing and iron this onto your blue sweatshirt. Be sure to iron the points of the star really well so they don't peel up.

Then it is time to make the stripes. I only used half of a sheet of fusible webbing and half of a sheet of felt lengthwise.

I laid both sheets on top of each other and pinned them. With a pencil I sketched out the shape of my stripes. Mine were about 2" wide.

I cute both sheets together so my stripes would match. Then I selected the alternating stripes I needed and ironed them onto the bottom of the sweatshirt. Remember to peel off the backing and allow enough time for the fusible web to heat and bond to the material.

It was the perfect thing to inspire my little hero to go "avenge" in the backyard. Now, you can use a few simple hand stitches to secure this if you want, but the fusible web does a great job for play clothes like this.

Yes, my little guy can dress up like his hero Captain America, despite cooler weather. I guess I might have to make a T-shirt version for him as the days get warmer, but either way, he is dressed to play! 

Now you know how we are dressing up and getting ready for the release of MARVEL's The Avengers: Age of UltronHow are you getting in on the fun?


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