Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Recipe: Doughnuts

I'm want to apologize in advance for this. I'm sorry. I'm sorry your someday jeans are just going to have to sit in the drawer a little longer, because today is a good day for a donut. Actually 8 donuts - and their corresponding holes.

Today's recipe is for the easiest homemade donuts you ever made. And I'm not really a donut person. I am aware that this is some kind of short-coming as I was born and raised in the state where Dunkin' Donuts had it's humble beginnings and can still be found on almost every corner. I'm pretty much a Dunks-or-nothing kind of person when it comes to donuts and I really only like the custard filled donuts and the jelly munchkins. I won't eat a Krispy Kreme. I just won't do it. I find them repulsive. But I really and truly liked the recipe I'm about to share with you.

You only really need two ingredients for these - plus whatever you like on your donut.

Vegetable Oil
1 Can Biscuits (anything but the flaky layers)

Fill a pan with about a half inch to an inch of oil and heat on medium. Cut the center out of biscuits using a cookie cutter or shot glass.

Lower donuts into oil with tongs. Fry donuts and holes until golden brown, turning once.

Dry on a paper-towel-lined plate and then roll in cinnamon sugar, powdered sugar or coat with icing.

(are you salivating yet?)

I loved the little donut holes with cinnamon sugar. I ate all of them before Reeve even came home. But I left him the big ones...

Freezer Meals

I have made the decision to venture into the world of freezer meals. I have two predictions for this venture. One: that it will be wildly successful and I will become a world-famous blogger for my wonderful, time and money saving freezer meals. Two: That it will fail miserably like my venture into the couponing world. (I still can't get this couponing thing down.)

Or maybe I will just succeed in having a few meals set aside in the freezer that I can use for Thursdays or if we suddenly get unexpected company (which we are wont to do.)

So I'm searching for freezer meals. You can email any suggestions to Samantha@TheClutteredTable.com

Last night I made my first freezer meal, and in keeping with my Italian tradition I made a lasagna. So now I have a huge homemade lasagna in my freezer waiting to be baked and eaten. It's so comforting to know I have something already prepared so if we have someone over one of us doesn't have to spend the whole evening cooking and we can just socialize. Or if we just want to spend some time together in the evening we can pull out a freezer meal that morning and pop it in the oven - no pots and pans to wash.

Also it makes me feel super accomplished. Last night I did the grocery shopping (a monumental task) cleaned out the fridge and the pantry, cleaned the kitchen, made a lasagna and washed and folded 5 loads of laundry. A big Thanks to my friend Coffee for helping me accomplish that.

So, again, if anyone has any great freezer recipes please email them to me and I'll feature them here!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Cuff Links on Loan

You won't believe this story. Seriously, if you're from a big city and aren't familiar with small towns you really won't believe it.

Last weekend we headed to western Kentucky for a wedding. On the way we stopped at Marshall's to pick up a new shirt for Reeve with a gift card his mom gave him for Christmas. The shirt that fit best was an American cut shirt, but had French cuffs - go figure. And Reeve left all his cuff links behind not knowing he would need them. So we went on a frantic search for cuff links. I'll tell you right now, nobody carries them anymore. I don't know why - women love men in cuff links - but you just can't find them anywhere.

So Saturday morning we were in Madisonville, Kentucky where Reeve's grandfather and step-grandmother live. We hit the mall (if you can call it a mall...) to see what we could find. Our first stop was a little department store  - which will remain unnamed  - where we didn't see any on display (of course not.) We approached the ladies outside the cosmetics counters and inquired about cuff links. The woman at the counter informed us that they don't sell them but that she would LOAN us a pair from a boxed shirt set for the wedding. Wait... WHAT?? You're going to loan us a pair of cuff links? Like, you're giving them to us in full faith we are going to bring them back? Knowing that we are from out-of-town? Not even knowing our names? You have to be kidding. So we all headed over to the men's section, took apart a boxed shirt set and took the cuff links from the shirt. I couldn't believe it. I just stood there (looking stupid) gawking at this woman handing my husband a pair of cuff links and knowing this had to illegal somehow.

But it's the truth. The lady at the department store loaned us a pair of cuff links. I don't think I've ever been loaned anything from a store. I'm pretty sure if I went into Macy's or Dillard's in Lexington and asked to borrow a pair of cuff links they would inform me that of course I could borrow them - as long as I paid the full price and promised to not bring them back. Or maybe they would call the cops.

So he wore those cuff links. And the wedding was beautiful. And the next day we brought them back - along with a little gift for each of the women to thank them. I can hardly believe it even now. I'm almost positive that will never happen to us again. Ever. What a strange, strange blessing.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Spring Fever

I know it's only February 16th, but due to this mild winter I think I have the worst case of spring fever I've ever had.

I blame it on the mild weather.
And on the fact that all the magazines keep talking about spring.
And the fact that I'm looking forward to getting our garden ready.
And the fact that I'm completely ready to get out with the dog more and train for our 5k.

(just before one of our walks)

I am completely ready for warm weather and tulips and sunshine and longer days so I can go to the park with the dog after work. Walking the dog is one of my favorite ways of exercising. He pushes me to move faster, walk further and challenge myself to be better. And more light means longer walks and more friends to meet along the path.

It's just too darn early to be getting spring fever! It won't be good and warm here until mid-March or even the end of March. I have at least a month, perhaps two before spring really arrives. What a depressing thought!

So here I sit, inside on this rainy, dreary day just wishing spring would hurry up and arrive already!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentines Day Recipe: Sugar Cookies

Look out waist-line! Samantha has a new favorite cookie!

I seriously am completely in love with this cookie recipe. I just got new cookie cutters for my birthday so I wanted to try them out. I never really liked the iced sugar cookies you get in the grocery store. I always found them...dull maybe? But I found this recipe on Joy of Baking and have found my favorite cookies since my More or Less Peanut Butter Cookies. They are rich and buttery and sweet and the icing is just enough and not too much. The only thing I changed about their recipe was using lime juice instead of lemon juice. (Lime juice was all I had but I liked it better anyway.)

Here's the recipe from Joy of Baking.com:

3 cups (390 grams) all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup (227 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup (200 grams) granulated white sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

In a separate bowl whisk together the flour, salt, and baking soda. In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes). Add the eggs and vanilla extract and beat until combined. Add the flour mixture and beat until you have a smooth dough. Divide the dough in half and wrap each half in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for about one hour or until firm enough to roll.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C) and place rack in center of oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. 
Remove one half of the chilled dough from the refrigerator and, on a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough to a thickness of 1/4 inch (1 cm). (Keep turning the dough as you roll, making sure the dough does not stick to the counter.)  Cut out desired shapes using a lightly floured cookie cutter and transfer cookies to baking sheet. Place the baking sheets with the unbaked cookies in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes to chill the dough which prevents the cookies from spreading and losing their shape while baking.

Note: If you are not going to frost the baked cookies, you can sprinkle the unbaked cookies with sparkling sugar. 
Bake cookies for about 8-10 minutes (depending on size) or until the edges are just starting to brown. Remove from oven and let cookies cool on baking sheet for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to finish cooling. Frost with royal icing, if desired. Be sure to let the royal icing dry completely before storing. (This may take several hours or overnight.)
Frosted cookies will keep several days in an airtight container. Store between layers of parchment paper or wax paper.

Samantha's tips: make sure to refrigerate as often and as long as the recipe says! No skimping on that!
Also, be sure to use plenty of flour on the cutting board so they don't stick. The recipe says it makes 36 cookies, but I made about 6 dozen.

For the icing:
2 large (60 grams) egg whites
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice (I used lime juice instead)
3 cups (330 grams) confectioners (powdered or icing) sugar, sifted

In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat the egg whites with the lemon juice. Add the sifted sugar and beat on low speed until smooth. If necessary, to get the right consistency, add more sugar or water. Add food coloring, if desired. The icing needs to be used immediately or put in an airtight container as it hardens when exposed to air. 

I made these as Valentines for friends and as a gift for friends in the hospital.

I made 6 dozen of these this weekend. And I probably ate about 2 dozen myself. Oops.

Guarantee: I guarantee your man will like these or your money back. (But since there's no fee for looking at this blog you're just going to have to take my word for it...)

Credit Man

The other day I was driving down the road and I saw a sign in front of a Buy Here Pay Here car lot. On the sign was a cartoon super hero called "Credit Man." He looked harmless enough. He was strong, broad shouldered and rather Super-Man looking. His dark hair was slicked back and he had a dollar sign on his chest.

Of course! Who wouldn't want a handsome super hero to swoop in and save the day. You need a new car and you need it now, so just come on in, trade in your old car and Credit Man will help you get a new one - and at only 10% interest! (rates subject to change without notice. if at any time you miss a payment your interest rate will increase to 21%. loan must be repaid in three (3) years or interest rate will be increased to 50%. we reserve the right to take your car, your home and your first born if you don't pay.)  Isn't credit just wonderful?

The more I learn about our own debt and the more I learn about credit in general the more I think of Credit Man like this:

scary right?

And the more it causes me to scream at the sign as I fly by "You're no Hero! You're a Villian!!!!!!" At which point I'm sure my fellow drivers immediately got as far away from the loony in the mid-90's Ford as possible.
Thanks for that Credit Man...

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Terrific Tuesday: How About Orange

Ok, I know it's not Tuesday but I just couldn't keep this one to myself one more minute! I discovered this blog this afternoon and I can't wait to try out these crafts! Tomorrow is my day off from work, so you know what I'll be doing...after I finish my chores of course...

It's called How About Orange and it's run by Jessica Jones from Evanston, IL. Her blog is absolutely adorable and I must admit I wish mine was half as cute! It's called How About Orange since that's her favorite color (we like that color here at "the table" as well!) Not to mention she's super clever and witty (again, wishing I had half of that) and her directions are not full of obfuscation simple.

Check out some of these adorable crafts: (These photos were used without permission, and I usually ask permission first. But I was so thrilled with her site I hopped right on here to promote it and hopefully since I'm promoting her blog she won't sue the pants off of me...)

DIY Cathrineholm Candleholders

(easy enough if you have a cricket machine)

I absolutely cannot wait to start digging in my fabric box tomorrow and start working on some of the projects from her blog. You simply must check them out! Or you're missing out!

Monday, February 06, 2012

Birthday weekend

I had a marvelous birthday weekend. (Even if the Patriots did lose.) I'm so thankful to everyone who made it great. It started out with a family dinner, followed by an Asian cuisine potluck and ended with a good old fashioned food fight.

And Reeve got me a new Jacket and a TomTom so I won't get lost anymore. :)

Thanks everyone. You're the best.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Craft: Glitter Shoes

I love glitter. I love it. Actually I love anything shiny (just ask my husband who frequently has to drag me away from jewelry stores...) I love glitter and beads and ribbons and pretty things. So these shoes were totally caught my eye.

But as I'm trying to get out of debt and all, I really didn't think these $576 Christian Louboutin shoes fit into the budget this month. (Oh who am I kidding?! I'll never own a pair of $500 shoes! That's ridiculous!)

And aren't these $325 Kate Spade shoes precious? And only $325! That's it! No biggie, I'll just grab my fancy Chanel wallet here and shell out a few hundred dollar bills and...Wake up people!

So, having said all that, I think we all know we can make these shoes with shoes we already have in our closet for a fraction of what these folks are charging. I used a pair of canvas wedges I had in my closet and my mother-in-law (the decorating guru) gave me the other materials I needed. Which are as follows:

Glitter - any color you like
Decoupage or Modpodge
A disposable paint brush
Spray acrylic (it has to dry clear!!!) or spray glue intended for use with glitter.
A plastic cup

Here we go.

Step one: Lay out some newspaper and set out all your materials.

Step two: Put some decoupage or modpodge in your plastic cup.

Step three (my favorite!): Add glitter. Add lots and lots and lots of glitter. I mixed blue, fushia and silver.

Step four: Start brushing your glitter onto your shoes. Take your time and let it dry between coats.
At first you're going to think "Uhhh, these don't look so great," but trust me, the decoupage/modpodge is going to dry clear and will not affect the look of the glitter. 

(My sweet husband took some pictures of me glittering up my shoes even though I'm pretty sure he was super nervous I would end up coating the house in glitter. This is why I own a Dyson - more on that later.)

After your shoes are completely coated leave them to dry overnight. The next day spray them with acrylic and allow them to dry for as long as the can says.

I'm so stinking thrilled with the way these turned out. I think I'll wear them to a wedding next month with a black dress. 

Happy Crafting!

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Growing Puppy

Judah is getting so big! They grow up so fast!

We try to walk as often as the weather allows. Can't wait for winter to be over so we can really start training for our furry 5k.


It's amazing the difference a pair of glasses can make. Suddenly I can read books and the computer screen and see things close to my face. I didn't know how much I needed them until I put them on! I only wear them while I'm reading or at work but they are so helpful!

My co-worker kept complaining that my screen was blurry and I kept saying I didn't know what she was talking about...until I put on my new glasses. Suddenly I realized the screen WAS blurry. So blurry in fact that I had to switch it out with a spare monitor in the office.

So now I'm a four-eyes. But that's ok because now I can see!!! (And since I only paid $7 for my glasses I'm even more thankful!)

My Husband's Old Glasses

Not too long ago I posted about the prices I got on glasses and contacts at Coastal.com. Well our glasses and contacts came in this week and we are thrilled.

Before we bought these glasses Reeve kept insisting he didn't need new ones. (Yea right.) His prescription had changed and his glasses were so destroyed. The lenses were barely still in the frames because the frames were bent beyond belief. The lenses were so scratched you could barely see through them and the black arms had faded to white in places. I mean, check these sad things out:

Thankfully, he finally allowed me to get him a new pair (which I only paid shipping for after the $60 voucher we bought in August - for $9. Seriously, $14 for prescription glasses can't be beat!) Check out these snazzy new things!

Smart looking right? I'm so thankful we had the chance to buy that voucher and that my sweetie can see again!