Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Allison: Trying To Find My Olympic Spirit

Hello, hello!  I try every week to come up with a greeting more creative than that, but I never can.  Oh well... I'll go with it.

This week has been all about the Olympics at my house.  As I have mentioned before, I am a VERY patriotic person.  I LOVE MY COUNTRY, and would defend it to the end.  But...  I have never been a huge fan of the Olympic Games.  There!  I said it!  I know... strip me of my patriotic title.  Something about sports taking over the television for multiples days just doesn't sound all that appealing to me.  That being said, I will always tear up every time the National Anthem is played with an American standing on the podium.  Go figure.

With as much passion as I DON'T enjoy the Olympics, my good husband DOES.  Of course.  So, I try not to whine too much while the t.v. is on and give him these few days to watch all the "sports" (ping pong... really?) he can handle.

Today I thought I'd try to support my husband and his love of the games, by making something "British" for dinner.  He might pass out at the thought of me even making dinner, let alone something to celebrate the Olympics, but that's okay.  I like to shock him every now and then.  For my British dish, I thought I'd make shepherd's pie.  I've made it before, and it really is the perfect dish.  Anything that is topped with mashed potatoes and cheese has to be amazing, right?  But I thought I'd try an idea I saw on Pinterest, and make mini-pies.  I had some pie crust in my freezer, so it was really a no-brainer.  I mostly followed the recipe found here.  I did make a few changes.


  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 (10.75 ounce) can Campbell's® Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup (Regular or 98% Fat Free)
  • 1 tablespoon ketchup
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 cup frozen peas and carrots  (I left carrots out this time, but did add corn that was already in the fridge.)
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 1/3 cups instant mashed potato flakes or buds (I used about 5 small-medium potatoes that I had in my pantry.  No fake potatoes in this house!  I probably should have used a couple more.)

No judging my stained muffin tins.  :)
Start by peeling, cutting and boiling your potatoes.  While the potatoes were boiling, I took my pie crust and cut out circles using a cookie cutter.  I probably should have used 2, because 1 crust only filled 9 muffin tins.  But, I figured I'd go with it and just add any left over filling to a normal dish.  I baked the crust for 7 minutes at 400 degrees in the oven.  

While the crust cooled, I sauteed some onions, and then cooked up the ground beef in the same pan.  I then added the soup, ketchup (which I couldn't even taste later), pepper, peas and corn.  

While that simmered, I took the potatoes, mashed them (adding the milk, butter, salt and pepper), and put them to the side.

I then spooned the beef mixture on top of the pie crust, followed by a topping of mashed potatoes and a sprinkle of cheese.  

Finally, stick the tin in a 400 degree oven for 8-10 minutes, or until the cheese is sufficiently melted and gooey looking.  Yum!

**I did end up having enough filling to make a separate "pie" in a glass pan, and topped it with the remaining potatoes and cheese.  Obviously this was my first time trying this recipe with pie crust.  :)

Can you really argue with these results?  :)  He said they were very good, and I have to agree.  Totally worth the heartburn that I'm sure will hit soon.  I may always add a crust to my shepherd's pie dishes in the future.  The flaky crust was the perfect compliment to the meat and potatoes.

I hope you're all enjoying the Olympics and feeling your American pride swell just a little for our amazing American athletes.  Have a great week!!


Monday, July 30, 2012

Lisa: Olympic Medals

Olympic Medals

Hello, hello!!  What a fun week with the Olympics coming up!  We are very excited here to see, hear and read about our favorite events!  One of the things that I did for my kids was to make them Olympic medals.  They are super easy and a fun way for kids to participate and feel part of the Olympic Games!

Licorice Ropes (I couldn't find them so I used individually wrapped licorice taped together)
Chocolate Coins
Glue or Tape

Tape or glue the ends of the licorice rope together and glue or tape on the chocolate coin.  Easy and fun. 

My kids each declared that they were the gold medal winner and posed for some fun photos!

Hope you are enjoying the Olympics and GO USA!!!


Friday, July 27, 2012

Friday Favorites: Cold Treats

Hello, hello!  What a week this has been!  Lisa and I were trying to brainstorm ideas for today, and "cold treats" popped into my head.  Probably because I'm 35 weeks pregnant and melting here in Arizona.  It's been crazy hot and I'm currently restricting my sweets intake until this baby comes.  That makes for a VERY grumpy pregnant lady.  And what's the one thing you want when you're trying not to eat sweets?  SWEETS!   So... It looks like I'll be torturing myself a little while reading about all the yummy, cool treats my sisters have found.

My treat is one I think I can actually eat!  I didn't even realize that it was a low-sugar treat until I read through the ingredients.  These orange creamsicles looked amazing, when I first saw them on Pinterest. You can find the original recipe here.  I love that the recipe uses honey or agave instead of sugar.  As I'm writing this intro, I still haven't made them yet, but my mouth is watering in anticipation.

Okay... through the magic of blogging, it's now 6 hours later.  I've made the creamsicles, and my husband and I have both tested them...AMAZING!!  I'm pretty sure it's the heavy cream that makes these to die for.  And the best part: they're low in sugar!!  I think I'll probably be living off of these for the next 5 weeks.  I even used the 50 calorie orange juice to reduce the sugar and calories even more.  I might try half and half next time to see if it affects the taste at all.  

A little cautious at first, but then she dug right in!

Final evaluation: you must try these,  especially if you like Orange Julius or orange-flavored treats.  They're the perfect combination of citrus and cream.  Obviously from the pictures, you know one 22 month old who agrees.  :)  Enjoy!!



My cold treat isn't usually one that I make in the summer.  I usually make it throughout the fall and winter but sometimes a little Fudge is all one needs to get through the day (can you tell its been one of those weeks???).
This isn't a picture of my actual fudge (pic from
Allrecipes) but it is similar to what the end
result looks like.

My fudge recipe is probably the simplest one you will find.

Ingredients:  a 14 ounce can of sweetened condensed milk, one bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips and vanilla (optional).

Directions:  In a medium size sauce pan, stir the sweetened condensed milk and chocolate chips until the chocolate chips have completely melted.  I tend to like all my chocolate rather bitter but if you don't like it like that, add 1 teaspoon of vanilla and stir.

Line a 9x9 (or 8x8 if you want them thicker) pan with parchment paper, pour in the chocolate mixture and put in the freezer until set.  When set, cut into bite size squares and enjoy.

Sara Jane

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Shauna: Friday Night Pizza

Fridays are a pretty big deal in my household, and we go all out.  To celebrate the oncoming weekend we always make some homemade pizza, pop some corn, and watch a family movie with our boys.  We have experimented with several different ways of pizza making, but have decided we like pizza best when it's cooked on our pizza stone, and I think I've almost perfected the process.  I first started using a pizza stone after viewing annieeats.com's blog about her pizza stone.  She also has a killer pizza dough recipe, but it takes a lot of time.  My favorite recipe I took from Sara, and it is amazing(but maybe a family secret?).  So how about this Friday night you and your family

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Sara Jane: Homemade Mac & Cheese

Hello from Oregon!

I've been battling a cruddy flu bug the last few days.  Being a mother AND being sick is just about the worst combination.  Thankfully I have the most doting and loving husband who has taken care of me and the kids.  Ahhh, I love him....

I don't know about you but whenever I have been sick and am on the mend, I always crave food.  When I was younger it was a crisp meat burrito from Taco Time (I know...gross).  Now that I'm older, I always seem to crave homemade mac and cheese.

I didn't grow up with homemade mac and cheese (at least I don't remember it).  We had the orange-out-of-the-box stuff.  I loved it.  In fact, I ate it all the time until just a few years ago.  However, this all changed when my sister-in-law, Olivia, introduced me to the homemade stuff.  Now, I can't get enough of it.

When I first started making homemade mac & cheese, I did follow a recipe.  However, now that I am more comfortable making mistakes (and sometimes heavenly creations) in the kitchen, I never use a recipe for mac & cheese.  BUT, for you, I have put together a simple recipe.  Here we go....

Homemade Mac & Cheese


2 T butter
1 T olive oil
2 T flour
1 1/2 c shredded Mexican blend cheese (You can buy this in the cheese section at the store.  If you don't want to spend the extra money, just use a nice medium cheddar and the flavor will still come out delicious.  I just like the subtly of the Mexican blend.)
1 1/2 c shredded Gruyere (Again, if you don't like Gruyere, use another type of swiss cheese.)
1 1/2 to 3 c milk
1 pound pasta (I like to use Rigatoni.)
Breadcrumbs (Optional) 
Parmesan (Optional)


Boil your water for the pasta.  Drop your pasta into the boiling water.

Melt your butter and oil in a pan over medium heat.  When melted, sprinkle the flour into the butter/oil.  Stir with a whisk. Stir for 30 seconds or so (this will help thicken the mixture).  Add 1 1/2 cups of milk.  Turn the heat down so the milk doesn't boil.  

While the milk mixture is thickening, shred your cheese.  When all shredded, over a medium low heat, add one handful of cheese at a time, whisking until melted.  After all the cheese has been added and melted, if the mixture is too thick, add extra milk until it is to a consistency you like.  If you think it is too thin, add extra cheese.  Salt and pepper to taste (Don't be shy on the pepper.  You may be surprised at how much flavor it adds to this cheese mixture).

When the pasta is done, add your cheese to the pasta.  I have learned that while I like my pasta REALLY cheesy, some people (my husband) don't.  If this is the case in your family, try just making single serving portions so you don't waste any cheese/pasta.  If you have extra cheese, save it in the refrigerator.  It is also a great fondue for crusty bread.

Some people like to have a crispy top on their Mac & Cheese.  I, personally, do not.  However, if you do, add some breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese to the top and stick it under the broiler for a few minutes.  Make sure to watch it so it doesn't burn!

If you try this recipe, let me know how you like it.  Remember, add what YOU like.  If there is a particular cheese you love, try adding it.  I love Havarti cheese.  Whenever we have extra in the refrigerator, I stick it in.


Sara Jane

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Allison: Hidden Potential

Hello, again!  I'm just going to come right out with it: this post is going to be lame.  I know!  I'm not supposed to admit that, but it's almost noon and I haven't even started it yet.  That's not a good sign for me.  I usually try to have mine mostly done the night before I post.  But this has been a very pregnant week.  I'm SO SICK of the heat, and I'm feeling HUGE and my motivation has been a little low to be overly creative.  I've also been rushing to finish Norah's quilt, so there hasn't been a lot of free time for other crafting.  With that intro, I don't really expect you to stick with me for the rest of this post, but I'll assume a few of you will.  :)

One reason I really like Pinterest, is because it gives me "access" to countless creative people.  Through all their projects and pins, my perspective has begun to change a little when I look at ordinary objects.  I've started to be able to see their "hidden potential".  I've already shared a couple of projects that illustrate this point, like my revamping of an ordinary Wal Mart frame in this post.  The project I'm going to share today has been years in the making.  I originally bought this little shelf from Big Lots at least ten years ago when I was living in Utah.  Since then, it has moved many times with me, and spent a lot of time in storage or in the garage.  I never took it out of the box, but just knew that I'd use it someday.  This is a problem of mine; just ask my husband.  I always think I'll be able to use something eventually.  But in this case, it actually turned out to be true!

I kind of forgot to take a picture of the shelf before I painted it.  :)

When I decided that Isla's room needed a little sprucing up, I instantly thought of this little shelf.  Mostly because I could hang it out of reach of her curious hands.  But her room doesn't have much black in it, so I knew the color needed to change.  I'm a big fan of spray paint because it's relatively easy to use and gets the job done quickly.  So I sprayed it white, and added a little scrapbook paper as backing for the pictures, and presto... a completely different looking frame that matched my little one's room.  I love it now!  Isla also loves to look up at the pictures and I've enjoyed having a little shelf to display decor that Isla can't get to.  Did you miss my tutorial on the flowers?  Find it here.  I wish I could take credit for the adorable wooden blocks, but my friend, Lindsay, made those.  I love them!

So here's your creative challenge of the week:  Look around your house for things that you love, but aren't currently using.  Is there something you could do to tweak it enough to make it functional or more appealing as a decoration you'd display?  I know we all have stuff like this in our houses, we just need to see the hidden potential.  Thanks for letting me share this week, and taking a break from a more detailed post.  :)  Until next week, keep on crafting!


Monday, July 23, 2012

Lisa: Inspiration Boards

Hello!!  Welcome to another crafting week at fivecraftysisters!  What I wanted to share with you this week is something I did for my children last Christmas.  I got the idea from a Pottery Barn Teen catalog but I adapted it just a little.  Here is the original:

Inspirational Quotes Wall Art
It looks pretty cool and like some art that all my kids would like in their rooms.  I wanted to change some of the messages, though, so I thought maybe I should make my own!  I bought used magazines from my library for 5 cents and used some magazines of my own.  Over a few months, I cut out quotes and ideas and phases that I thought described my children or things I wanted them to aspire to or just something to remember!  It was quite inspirational for me as I thought about each of my children and what kind of people they are and what they can become!!  I then took an artist's canvas from Hobby Lobby and painted it a color they like and Modge Podged all the cut outs on.  And here is what they got:
It isn't as chaotically organized as Pottery Barn's art was but I like the personal touch.  I want it to eventually hang over their desk in their bedrooms so that they can remember how amazing they all are.

And they all loved it.  Even my teenage boy whose goal in life is to make a face in every picture I take!!  But I wouldn't have it any other way! 

I love you, my little monkeys!!


Friday, July 20, 2012

Friday Favorites: Allison's Favorite Blog

Welcome to another Friday Favorites!  This week you just get to hear from me, since I'm the only one without a life.  Waiting for this baby has given me a lot of extra time.  :)  I thought I'd share with all of you one of my favorite blogs and why I think it's so great.

Before I finally gave in to Pinterest, I used to have a handful of blogs that I really enjoyed checking in with on a weekly basis.  Some of my favorites, were quilting blogs.  I loved to look at all the finished products and to find inspiration in their designs.  I especially loved when they would give the patterns so that I could make the same quilt.  That's one of the reasons I love The Moda Bake Shop.  At www.modabakeshop.com, they give you step-by-step directions to create the most beautiful quilts and sewing projects.  Since it is a blog for Moda Fabrics, they even give you the fabric line used.  That's especially helpful if you want to make THE EXACT same quilt.  I actually really enjoy making up my own patterns for quilts, but I'm not the greatest at measurements.  So this blog is very helpful.  :)

I also appreciate how easy it is to navigate through this blog.  You can search the "recipes" to find only baby quilts or search by certain fabric lines.  You can even search through the "chefs" if there is one quilter in particular that you'd like to follow.  I would definitely recommend checking out this blog.  Just look at the cute projects I've been able to complete with their help:

This is a Christmas tree skirt I made for my sister, Shauna.  The pattern was so easy to follow with The Moda Bake Shop's directions and measurements.  I LOVE how it turned out.  If only I could find the desire to make my own now.  :)

Bad pictures, but I think the cuteness still comes out.  :)

This is a baby quilt I made for Sara's little "B".  Looks like I need to make something for Lisa, huh?  :) This was my first experience making pinwheels, and the "recipe" I used from the Bake Shop made it so much easier.  I also loved learning how to make the prairie points and have since used them for other projects.  Do you see yet why you need to visit this blog?  They also have many other projects besides quilts.  I hope you take a second to check it out!  Have a great weekend!



Thursday, July 19, 2012

Shauna: Personalized Task Chart

After looking at our fridge the other day I realized I was hating the clutter and random magnets stuck all over the face of it.  I decided to make something more personal to attached and brighten our day.  I found some little paper cutouts on Pinterest.com and decided to make them our own, and turn them into a fun task chart.

Here is me.

I love how they turned out!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Sara Jane: Nutella Wednesday

Would you believe me if I told you I once had an unopened jar of Nutella in my cupboard for a year and a half?!?  

True story. 

I had never had (or even heard of) Nutella before when a friend gave my hubby a jar of it for Christmas.  Having no idea what it was, I stuck it in the cupboard and completely forgot about it (tells you how much I actually clean my cupboards).  When the day came for me to finally clean out the cupboards (moving, I assume), I threw the jar away with out even thinking twice.  

That was nearly 4 years ago.   Now, I would never EVER throw a jar of that heavenly treat out.  We don't just buy Nutella to snack on.  No.  It is a part of our pantry staples.  We eat it on tortillas, on sandwiches, on crackers...heck, sometimes I eat it by the spoonfuls by itself.

The other day while pinning, I came across this recipe for Nutella cookies, by Tasty Kitchen.  I decided to try it out today to give to my father-in-law for his Cookie of the Month.  While they are not my absolute favorite cookie in the entire world (which would be oatmeal chocolate chip, by the way), they are pretty tasty and I think Eric will enjoy them.  The recipe at Tasty Kitchen uses sugar.  I omitted the sugar, as per the Pinterest recommendation.

Nutella Cookies


* 1 cup Nutella
*1  cup flour
*1  egg


Combined all the ingredients.  I then used my cookie scoop to scoop out the dough, rolled it in my hands, and then flattened the dough to about 1/4 inch.  Bake for 8 minutes at 350*.

Something that we have decided to do with our Cookie of the Month is to put it in a creative container.  For this month, I grabbed the following items...a glue gun, fabric, and a Pringles container.

Next, I cut out enough fabric to cover my canister.  To ensure you don't waste fabric, measure around the canister, just like you would if you were wrapping a present.  Then, I started gluing on the fabric.  I started at the top (make sure you don't glue the top fabric over where the lid will fit) and then glued down where the two pieces met creating a seam.

To finish off the bottom, I folded and glued, folded and glued and folded and glued until all the fabric was securely glued down.  

Here's how it should look when it is finished.

Pretty cute, if you ask me.

Is your mouth watering yet???

Happy Wednesday!

Sara Jane

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Allison: Making Room For Baby

Hello, and welcome back!  I really debated about what I wanted to post this week.  But then I spent some time in the future nursery of my unborn child, and inspiration hit.

When I was pregnant with my first daughter,  Isla, I couldn't get her space ready quick enough.  Her "nursery" was also the guest room, office and my craft space, but I really worked to make it her room.  Maybe it's the distraction of already having a child, but I haven't put as much effort into Norah's room.  Today, I decided that needed to change.  I walked into that middle room and anxiety hit.  It looked like a mini Joann's store had thrown up, with all my crafting supplies and half-finished projects.   Time to fix it!

I should take a second and fill you all in.  I'm a pretty organized person.  I have NEVER claimed to be a clean person, but organized, I definitely am.  I almost cannot function in a space that doesn't have at least a minimal amount of organization.  When you look at these before pictures, you may think they're somewhat organized.  But to me, they weren't functional.  I thought I'd share some ideas I have about organization.  I won't call them "tips" because that just sounds presumptuous.  :)

Ironically, my adorable daughter made this mess while I was writing up this post on organization.  I blame her father.  (Not really... he's pretty organized too.)

Yep... that's what an almost completely full pack of wipes looks like in a huge pile.  :)

     *This seems like an obvious statement, but it is so true.  I hate when I'm constantly having to move things around to get to something that I need.  So today, I decided to de-clutter by getting rid of things that don't get used on at least a weekly basis.  Looking at the closet, I realized that I haven't touched the hanging fabric samples for months.  So... they needed to go!  I acquired those samples from a furniture store and have been looking for the perfect way to use them.  Since I still haven't found it, they can sit in my garage, instead of taking up valuable space in the closet.

I also realized that all my gift bags were taking up a lot of hanging space.  Knowing that I don't really use them that often, I decided to put them away in a drawer that was still accessible, but out of the way.

     *If you asked me to tell you the projects I'm "working" on, the list would be a mile long.  I get so distracted when it comes to projects.  One day I'll be dead set on finishing a project, and the next, I want to put it away for a few weeks and focus on something else.  Apparently I bore easily.  :)  So today I decided to be realistic.  That huge stack of jeans will one day be an adorable denim quilt that my family will use for picnics and outings in the park.  For now, it's a stack of jeans that take up way too much space.  I was pretty proud of myself the other day for finally taking them out of their tote and ripping them into strips that can now be cut and sewn together.  But that's as far as I got.  Today, I put them back in their tote, realizing that I still have a baby quilt to finish, a long list of projects I deem more "important", and a baby to birth.  They'll be okay for a few more months in the garage.  :)

     *I know from past experience, that babies have a lot of "supplies".  Naively, I thought I could just combine Isla and Norah's closets so that I could keep my own little craft space.  In reality, I knew that wouldn't be the best thing for any of us.  With both of them in different rooms, I'd be constantly running from one room to the other, and probably be irritated with myself each time for not having planned better.  So though it's small, Norah now has her own little space in her own closet.  I even sacrificed a couple of drawers for her, where her sister, Isla, wouldn't be able to reach.  The closet is still filled with crafting supplies, but has a designated area for baby.

The changing table also needed to be used for the purpose it was made.  No more stacking things on top.  I did use a little space on the bottom, but plan to add some cute baskets to the second shelf that will be filled with all those things I'll need access to while caring for my newborn.  Also, the drawers on the side will allow me to be more organized with clothing and diapers.  Perfect! 

     *I haven't been too obsessed with labeling, as I generally know where things are.  But obviously I'm a little infatuated with plastic containers, and occasionally forget what is where.  So I decided to finally add clear and legible labels to quickly access anything I need. 

     *I love ribbon.  Can you tell from my ample supply?  But as I was cleaning up this space, I realized that I had ribbon in multiple locations.  I had recently utilized a Pinterest tip and organized a bunch of my supply on a multi-rack hanger.  But I couldn't hang all of my ribbon there, as some spools didn't have a hole in the middle.  So last night I took matters into my own hands, and made my own holes.  Duh... how easy was that?  Now most of my ribbon hangs together and is ready for me to use.  I love how organized it looks!!

There you go.  Just a few suggestions that I have found make me feel more organized and less stressed. I'm sure you're all not as crazy about organization as I am, but I'm sure some of you are.  :)  Now the space is organized, and ready for me to finish some of the decorating projects on my to-do list.  Look for those in upcoming posts.  Until then, keep crafting and have a great week!



Monday, July 16, 2012

Lisa: Easy Art and Sloppy Jose`s!!

Hello, once again! Summer is cruising right along at our house!  We are trying to squeeze all the fun we can out of our short break time here!  Between camps and parties and road trips, we are sure enjoying the warm weather and all the chances to be outside.  But on the days we can't be outside, my children (at least most of them) enjoy crafts and creating!  One of the things that we have found to be fun is using the bright summer sun to trace pictures.

 It is super simple and helps my children who don't think they are very good artists to be creative!  What we do is to tape a picture onto a window that has a lot of sun coming through.  Then place a thin paper over the top and also tape it to the window.  (We used a piece of paper from a sketch pad but I think printer paper or most plain white papers would work.)  Then just have the children trace the outlines of the picture and presto change-o, you have art!

I wish I had a picture of the originals!  It is fun to see how they compare but oh well!!  It is fun for the kids to color these in like they would a coloring book.  Using water color paints is fun, too! 


As I said on Friday, I really hate to turn my oven on in the summer so I thought I'd show you another recipe I came up with that helps to keep our poor air conditioner from over heating in the summer: Sloppy Jose`s!!  I can't exactly remember how it came to be but there was some discussion about Sloppy Joes and I thought that I could probably come up with something that had a Mexican flavor to it!  And thus was born the Sloppy Jose`!

Sloppy Jose`s
1 lb. ground turkey, browned (you could use ground beef but we prefer ground turkey!)
1/2-3/4c. salsa
2 t. cumin
1t. chili powder
salt and pepper to taste
1c. shredded cheese (cheddar, monterey jack, etc)
1/2 c. cilantro
1/4c. sliced green onions
6-8 large burrito sized tortillas

Combine in the same skillet used to brown the meat the salsa, cumin, chili powder, and salt and pepper.  Let simmer for a few minutes.  Add cheese and let cook until cheese is melted.  Remove from heat and add cilantro and green onions.  Take a tortilla and place about 1/2-1 c. of the meat mixture in the center of the tortilla. Fold up one half and then fold over the edges all the way around the meat until you have encase the meat in the tortilla shell.
 Repeat with remaining meat and tortillas.  Next, heat a skillet to 300-350 degrees.  Spray the skillet with a cooking spray like Pam and place meat filled tortillas on the skillet seam side down.  Spray the tops of the tortillas.  Flip when they are golden brown (about 5-7 minutes).  Serve with sour cream and salsa or just eat plain. 

These are such a hit at our house!!  I hope you enjoy!


Friday, July 13, 2012

Friday Favorites: Recipes

Hello!  Welcome to another Friday Favorites!  This week we'll be concentrating our posts on favorite recipes or dishes that we've discovered/stolen from others.  Isn't that how it works?  You find some amazing dish and it slowly becomes your own, though it originally came from someone else.

That's how I feel about my favorite recipe.  Sometimes I think my husband and I ultimately ended up together because we both LOVE plain New York-Style Cheesecake.  No strawberries, no topping, no swirled flavor inside... just PLAIN cheesecake.  He even added it to his mental list of "reasons I love my wife".  There you go.  :)

So a couple of years ago, when I was trying to think of a really special dessert to make for Valentine's Day, I decided to venture my first cheesecake.  I looked up a recipe on allrecipe.com for "plain cheesecake", and found this recipe.  I have no idea who Chantal is, but I've mentally thanked her many times for this recipe.

If any of you are like me, you're probably intimidated by the idea of making a cheesecake that takes close to 8 hours.  It's not that bad, and I'm going to share my tips/tricks to make it PERFECT!  Most of them I found online, or from others that have tried this recipe, but I'm taking credit for applying them.  I'm not going to brag too much, but I've used this recipe 4 times now, and they've all been amazing.  No splits or cracks... just perfect!

-I'm not going to retype the recipe here, but I'll list what I changed about the actual recipe or the steps given.

#1- If you like a sweeter graham cracker crust, add just a little sugar to your crushed crackers and butter.  The cheesecake itself is plenty sweet, so it's not really needed, just depends on preference.

#2- I didn't change any other ingredients, but I did reduce the oven temp to 325 degrees and altered the baking time to 45 minutes.  When the 45 minutes is up, turn the oven off and forget about it for a couple of hours.  For real.  Don't open the oven every 5 minutes, just let it set.  (This part is hard to do, as you'll want to make sure it's not cracking.)  Just walk away...

#3- I used a water bath.  I think it's the reason that my cheesecakes have never cracked.  It's not too difficult.  I use the heavy duty tin foil around my springform pan (though regular would work... just double it up/overlap it), to make sure the water doesn't get in. I wrap it almost to the top of the springform, and place it on a cookie sheet.  Once they're both in the oven, pour enough water to fill the cookie sheet, but not too much that it'll overflow (duh).  I only had water seep into my pan once, and that was because the springform wasn't completely "closed" before I added the crust.  Oops.  Check that.  Ironically, it still turned out fine.  Just with crust a little more "moist" than usual.  :)

#4- DON"T OVERMIX YOUR CHEESECAKE FILLING!  That will create bubbles, and won't make it as pretty.  Make sure your cream cheese is room temperature before mixing with a hand blender.  After that, I only used the blender to add the sugar and milk to the cream cheese.  The rest I mixed by hand.  It's a bit of a work out but not too bad.  

#5- After your cheesecake has been in the cooling oven for hours, you can leave it on the counter (I put mine on a cooling rack) for awhile longer.  But you can also just leave it in the oven until it's completely cooled.  I usually venture to remove the springform pan edge then.    If the edges look a little ragged, you can smooth them with a wet table knife (if you're a crazy perfectionist, like me).  

#6- This part is tough.  It will be so tempting to try a slice, but it really is best overnight in the fridge, or at least for a few hours.  To me, it seems to get better the longer it cools.  Mmmm... my mouth is watering just thinking about it.  

#1- I think I took the springform off too soon. #2- I discovered the wet knife technique... much prettier.  I also doubled the graham crackers, but the crust became a little too much.  #3- My best by far!  Yum!  No picture of #4.

Okay.  That was a lot of info, but really not as crazy as I made it sound.  The actual prep for this recipe doesn't take too long and the results are AMAZING!  My husband says this recipe rivals any cheesecake he's ever had, including The Cheesecake Factory.  That's pretty high praise from someone who would choose cheesecake over almost any other dessert.  I hope you venture this amazing recipe.  If I left anything out, please feel free to ask.  Good luck, and happy baking!!



I have an obsession with bread.  

Not just plain old bread but fresh-out-of-the-oven-covered-in-butter (and-sometimes-honey) bread.  When we make it, whether it be by hand or in the bread machine, the loaf is gone within an hour.  My mouth is watering just thinking about it.....

Photo from recipeschezmoi.blogspot.com

My only issue with fresh-out-of-the-oven-covered-in-butter bread is that by the time I think about actually wanting it, I don't want to wait the 3 hours it takes to make it.  Soooooo, when I found the following recipe, I thought I had died and gone to heaven.  (Honestly, this bread isn't as good as the 3-hour bread BUT it is perfect when, if you're like me, you decide at 4:00 PM you want to have bread with your dinner which is supposed to be at 5:00 PM.)  The original recipe I found was on the Recipes Chez Moi blog.  I, however, after making it many times, have changed several things and want to share the recipe with you.

 1(ish) Hour Bread


5 1/4 c. white flour (if you feel the dough is too sticky, you can add another 1/4 cup)
1/4 c. sugar 
1/2 T. salt (I think I actually added 1 T. on accident and it was still great)
1  T. yeast
1/3 c. oil 
2 c. hot tap water


Mix together the flour, sugar, salt and yeast in a large mixing bowl (I used my Kitchen Aid).  Add oil and hot water to the dry ingredients mixture.  Mix for one minute, scraping the bowl once (this is where if you think the dough is too sticky, you may add the additional 1/4 cup of flour).  Mix dough for five more minutes on a medium high speed without scrapping the bowl.  When you finish mixing, the dough will be sticky.  ITS OKAY :)  On a floured surface, divide the dough into two equal portions.  Shape the dough and put into a greased (I used Pam spray) bread pan.  Let sit, covered, for 1/2 hour (I accidentally left mine for 1 hour the other day...still perfect).  Bake in a 375* oven for 35 minutes.  Makes 2 loaves.

I hope this delicious bread finds its way to your home soon.  

Sara Jane


Lisa here!  One of my favorite things in summer is to not use my stove.  At all.  I love food that my family and I can eat raw, grill or cook in the crock pot.  One of our favorite crock pot recipes is a very simple pot roast on Sundays.  We have a late church and we often don't get home until 4:30pm and we are all super hungry!  To walk in and smell the roast is heaven!  And this one couldn't be simpler!  I've seen this recipe a lot of places but I orignially got it from a friend when we were living in Arizona (talk about hot!).

Courtney's Pot Roast
3-4 lb Chuck roast (mine was frozen and it was perfectly alright!)
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 pkt. Lipton onion soup mix (or Walmart brand)
1 large onion, sliced
3 large potatoes, chopped
a handful of baby carrots

Spray the inside of the crockpot with a non-stick cooning spray, like Pam.  Place roast in bottom and vegetables on top of the roast.  Mix soup and soup mix together and pour over everything.  Cover.  Cook on high for 6-8 hours. 

It really is such a favorite with my family.  The meat is super tender and the vegetables are perfectly cooked.  Thank you so much my Arizona friend!!!

I've gotten into the habit of making a big breakfast every morning to feed my growing boys (that includes the husband).  One of my favorite things to make are pancakes with homemade buttermilk syrup.  It is especially fun because Clark is starting to help out now.


2 cups flour
2 tbsp sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 large egg
3 tbs unsalted butter, melted
2 cups buttermilk

Mix all dry ingredients in a bowl.  In a separete large bowl mix all wet ingredients together.  Add the dry to the wet ingredients and mix till a few lumps remain, be careful not to over mix.

Using a buttered hot griddle, pour pancake batter according to the size you prefer and flip once bubbles appear on top.  Serve hot with your favorite syrup!