Cinnamon Rolls and My Foodie's First

I finally made Pioneer Woman's cinnamon rolls. My friend got her cookbook and after looking through it, I just couldn't resist. I have another recipe that I normally use for cinnamon rolls, but I rarely make them because they take such a long time. And anyone with two kids breathing down your neck asking for breakfast will tell you that there is not enough time to make cinnamon rolls from scratch in the morning. I've always wanted a recipe that I could make up the night before and bake in the morning and this one was exactly what I was looking for.

The actual roll part of these is good but what makes them really stand out is the icing. It's a maple coffee icing.! The hubs loves pecans on his cinnamon rolls so we added them after the icing. I only made half the recipe and still came out with three pans full. So, it makes LOTS of cinnamon rolls, but then again, I've never heard anyone complaining about having fresh homemade cinnamon rolls hangin around! These definitely lived up to their reputation. They were fantastic!

Rolled out and spread with cinnamon sugar goodness

Rolled up

After final rise

Grab a fork!

In lunch news... I decided to let the big chic make her own lunch for tomorrow. I thought that after our last week's lunch drama, she might see exactly how long it takes to make a lunch and exactly how much thought goes into it. I told her the lunch rules (a grain, a fruit, a protein, a dairy, and a veg) and she did the rest. She was very concerned with the colors of the foods in the lunch...thus the blueberries. She needed something blue in her lunch, she said. She was really excited about making it herself, so we'll see what she thinks of it after eating it tomorrow!

Banana and granola bar, Babybel cheese on turkey slices, Frozen blueberries, Goldfish, Carrots and ranch.

Salted Butterscotch Brownies

No lunch today, but I thought I'd share a brownie recipe that I made to take to a little gathering yesterday. I love the salty sweet combination and these are a great combination of the two flavors.
Salted Butterscotch Brownies

1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 egg
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp butter flavoring
3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup butterscotch chips
Sea salt

Heat oven to 350 degrees and spray (really well) a mini muffin tin. Combine first five ingredients and mix well. Add flour, powder, and salt and stir in butterscotch chips. The dough will be very thick.
Place a heaping tablespoon into each mini muffin spot. Sprinkle a generous amount of sea salt on top of each brownie. Bake 13 minutes. Do not overbake. Cool completely on cooling rack. I use a fork to pop them out of the pan. This makes about 20 or so.
I took these to an Olympics watching party. The host (shout out to Amber!) had the Ben & Jerry's ice cream flavor that they made in honor of snowboarder Hannah Teter. It's called Maple Blondie. So Amber says, "I bet these brownies would be good in that ice cream!" And I'm like, "Oh yeah!" Sooooo, we did and it was AWESOME!! A match made in heaven!

We had a little drama with the lunch yesterday. I don't know if it's cause she's been sick or moody or what, but the chic decided to buy her lunch on Thursday instead of eating what I packed her. I don't know how exactly she figured that it was okay, but her exact words were that she wasn't "feelin it". Are you kidding me? She told me she doesn't like vegetables. Again, are you kidding me? This is my kid that could easily be a vegetarian. I was really really frustrated with her yesterday and told her she could just buy lunch from now on. Fast forward to today where she's spent the better part of this morning telling me all the vegetable that she loves and how she can't wait to see what her lunches are like next week. ????????? Seriously? When did my cute little six year old turn into a moody, fickle sixteen year old?
UPDATED: Turns out all the hoopla about not liking her lunch was because they had cheese quesadillas in the dining hall, and apparently I never let her buy cheese quesadillas. Guess we've got a new favorite on our hands. When I cleaned out her luncbox, I discovered that she had actually eaten all of the sandwiches, most of the cucumber, some of the cantaloupe, and a few bites of the granola bar. So, it seems that she ate TWO lunches on Thursday. And although I'm not thrilled that she bought lunch without permission, I'm relieved to know that it was nothing major in her eating habits! We'll see what happens in the weeks to come...

Flowers and Granola

The rainbow lunch from yesterday was not such a big hit. The second that the chic got in the car she told me that she didn't like her lunch. She said that she doesn't like the veggies cut up so small. Apparently I'm supposed to make "fancy" lunches WITHOUT cutting the veggies too much. Lotsa rules involved with the whole lunch making process :)

SO, tomorrow, we get back to the types of lunches she loves...with lots of flowers and minimal cutting!

PB&J sandwiches with homemade blueberry jam, Cantaloupe flowers, Chocolate chip granola square, Cucumber and carrot cut outs

A few days ago, the chic asked me to make chocolate chip granola bars. It was perfect timing cause Smitten Kitchen has just posted a new granola bar recipe that looked awesome! I decided to try it and see how it compared to my usual recipe. The only change I made to the recipe was that I used agave nectar instead of honey or corn syrup. For my dried fruits and nuts, I used coconut, pecans, walnuts, flaxseeds, sesame seeds, dried cranberries, raisins, wheat germ, and, of course, chocolate chips. I doubled the recipe and baked them in a 9x13 pan. I had to bake them for a few minutes more...maybe 15 minutes.
These were hands down, the best granola bars I've ever made! Not too sweet, not too dry...just a bit sticky. The only drawback to them is that I've eaten a ton of them. I ended up freezing some cause I was afraid that I would completely finish them off. I'm going to make them again and plan out my fruit/nuts mix a little more. This time I just threw in a bunch of stuff I had on hand. You should definitely try the recipe!

A Veggie Rainbow

Here's the chic's rainbow lunch...

Red plum with cottage cheese, Chocolate coconut truffle and banana, Veggie rainbow sandwich

I used some honey oat flax bread that I had made this weekend. I spread it with a bit of ranch to help the veggies stick and then set out to force the veggies into rainbow shapes. I used yellow mini peppers, green beans, carrots, red peppers and a mushroom. It turned out much better in my head than in reality. It's harder than you'd think to get those veggies into a perfect arch!

The "I'm a lame mom" lunch

This evening in my house the hubs walked in when I was packing this lunch up and says,"What's the theme of this lunch?" I shrugged and said, "It's the I'm tired and just wanna get a lunch made lunch." He said, "No, it should be called the I'm a lame mom lunch." Thanks babe! Geesh - everyone's a critic!

Coconut cake slice, Orange slices, Whole grain crackers, Coconut chicken tender (from Cent Mkt), Carrots and ranch dip.

Seriously, though, the big chic said that the past couple lunches haven't been very fancy or pretty, so I promised her that there would be some awesome lunches this week. She's crackin the whip so I better start planning!

Pad Thai

Well, the VERY postponed birthday lunch ended up being VERY VERY postponed. Chic wasn't feeling well so I kept her home yesterday. (We've all been fighting a cold, thus the less than glamorous lunches this week!) So, she took her birthday lunch today. Tomorrow's lunch is leftover pad thai from dinner last night.

Pad thai, Dark chocolate cookies, Celery sticks, Dried cranberries (in the paper), Cucumber slices

Pad thai is one of her favorites so she is always happy to eat it in her lunch. I even put her cute little chopsticks in the box in case she decides to impress her friends with her mad chopstick skills. (Okay, so they're the kid chopsticks that are basically tongs...still...she'll think she's cool.)

The VERY postponed birthday lunch

It seems like it's been forever since I've made a lunch. In the past week, we've had a snow day, a half day, a hot lunch day, and a field trip day where lunch was provided. I've enjoyed my break, but now it's time to get back to the routine.

As I said in my last post, Friday was the chic's birthday and this is the lunch I had planned to make her that day. It may be a few days late, but I think she will still love it, cause really
she would celebrate her birthday for a month!

Six carrots with ranch dip, Strawberries, Six cucumber "6"s, Ham and cheese "6" sandwich on whole wheat

Chocolate Birthday Cupcakes!

Today, my oldest chic turns six! I can't believe how fast these six years have gone! And how much my life has changed in such a short amount of time. I really love to celebrate the chics' birthdays. I hope that I make them feel special every day, but I can really go overboard on their birthday and not have to feel guilty about it!

The beloved Kindergarten teacher and I decided that because the Valentine's party was scheduled for the day of her birthday, we would celebrate a day early so I could bring cupcakes and not put the kids into a complete Valentine's party AND birthday cupcake sugar induced coma. The chic loves chocolate cake and her favorite has become Gourmet's Double Chocolate Layer Cake. Who am I kidding? This cake is everyone's favorite. The little heading to the recipe states that some of their staffers swooned over it, and I always think that's funny cause I actually have had people swoon after taking a bite. It is THAT good. It is the ULTIMATE chocolate cake. Really! The ULTIMATE!

(This is what the cake looks like in "cake form". This was for Mother's Day last year.)

So, anyway, there was no question about which chocolate cake recipe I would be making for her classmates. At least to her...I was unsure. First, I had never made the cake into cupcakes and I know that it's really just a time adjustment, but still... and then there's the frosting. It's a ganache frosting. Love the ganache frosting, and on the cake, it's glossy and smooth and gorgeous, but on a cupcake, it wouldn't be very pretty. I told her that I would make buttercream to top the cupcakes, but she insisted on the ganache. We were at a standstill for about a week until I came up with a compromise...I would top the cupcakes with buttercream and fill them with the ganache. She agreed.

I wasn't sure how this would turn out, so I made a few extras to test. I have to admit that I didn't think that anything could top that chocolate cake recipe, but I think the addition of buttercream and the surprise of the ganache filling did just that. They were so so good!

I also made some chocolate "6"s to stick into the top of each one. The chic didn't say much about them (after all, she's eaten this cake many many times) but the pictures that the beloved Kindergarten teacher sent say it all...the kids loved them!

The Granola Roll

I can't let this week go by without doing a few heart themed lunches!

Strawberry peanut butter sandwich, Granola roll, Cheese hearts with toothpick arrows, Cucumber slices.

The sandwich is made from this huge heart cookie cutter that I have. The cookie cutter is too big for one slice of bread so I cut out two halves (from two pieces of bread) and put them together. When she's ready to eat, she can put one half on top of the other and eat it like a regular sandwich.

I have struggled all year with sending granola to school. We eat a lot of granola and it's usually in loose form not in bars. I never sent it to school by itself because I worried about how messy it was. When it's on top of yogurt or covered in milk, it's a bit more manageable, but dry, it can be a mess. Especially for a Kindergartner...seriously, come look under my dining room table. So, like I said, I've tried to think of a way to send it to school and I think I finally found a way...I think...

We're calling it a "granola roll" and here's how you do it:

First tear off a small piece of wax paper. (parchment would probably work fine also) and place the granola in the middle of the paper.

Roll up lengthwise CAREFULLY. This took a couple of tries, but the secret is that you have to roll it kinda loosely or the granola all smooshes out the ends, but still tight enough so the granola doesn't come out the sides.

Twist the ends closed...again CAREFULLY so you don't tear the paper.

When you're ready to eat, tear off one end and pour into your mouth! (No dropping your spoon, no nuts rolling off the spoon and onto the floor, no one accidentally bumping your arm and granola flying everywhere...just straight into your mouth!)

Although we've tried a few of these at home, tomorrow's the granola roll's maiden voyage to school so we'll see what happens!

Homemade Pasta

I've been on a homemade pasta kick lately. I've always loved pasta but the hubs doesn't so we don't really eat it that often. Last week I decided to try to make my own pasta and after taking one bite he said, "You have made a huge mistake...this is awesome! Now, I'm never going to want to eat the store bought stuff again." I do not have a pasta machine so I made it all by hand and it really wasn't as big of a deal as I was expecting. You have to roll it out super super thin, which takes a while, but the results are definitely worth it. I also love the fact that I get to use my all natural free range eggs and whatever type of flour I choose.

So...what's the point of all this? Well, this weekend we went to eat at an awesome little restaurant and although we did not order it, we saw tons of orders of fettuccine alfredo delivered to the tables around us. I probably haven't eaten fettuccine alfredo in 17 years, but after seeing those plates at the restaurant, it was all I could think of. I thought about fettuccine alfredo all night. When we woke up the next morning, I told the hubs I was going off to the store to get the ingredients cause I had to make some. Now I know it's horribly bad for you, all cream and butter and cheese, but we figured once in 17 years won't kill us! So, I made the fettuccine and prepared the sauce all from scratch and it was delish! The chics had never had it before, so you can imagine what they thought of it! The big chic wanted me to save some for her lunch on Monday, and since we probably won't make it again for another 17 years, I agreed. Here it is...

Whole wheat hearts, Frozen green beans, Mandarin oranges, Fettuccine alfredo

Bacon and Eggs

Tomorrow the chic is getting one of her favorite meals for lunch...bacon and eggs.

Whole wheat English muffin with jam, Bacon, Boiled egg with nori butterflies, Grapefruit segments.

About five minutes after I finished this lunch, I remembered that I have those cool egg molds. I shoulda used the egg mold...dang it!

btw...the apple on her sandwich was okay this morning. Not as white as the Pink Ladies, but still fine. Something about those Pink Lady apples keeps them from browning as quickly (if at all) which is why they're my favorite for lunches!

Apple Flower Sandwich

Wednesday's Lunch...

Apple and pb flower sandwich, Carrots with peppercorn ranch dip, Honey graham Cliff Z Bar, Fruit bites
I accidentally grabbed a bag of Jazz apples instead of Pink Lady apples the other day and I'm not sure that these will have the same "anti-brown" qualities as the Pink Ladies do (even after tossing in lemon juice). I'm gonna check it in the morning and see what it looks like before sending it off to school. I may have to cut another apple.
It would be kinda pointless to go through all the effort of making a cute lunch if it's not even recognizable after being tossed around by a Kindergartner. This sandwich was a great example of how I "shrink wrap" the lunches with the Press N Seal. I even turned it on it's side so everyone can see how solidly it holds it in place.

Why my husband is awesome...

Yesterday the big chic was acting kinda puny so I didn't pack her a lunch for today cause I wasn't sure she would be going to school. Turns out she was just tired from a busy weekend and she woke up this morning ready to tackle the world. Since I hadn't packed her a lunch, we decided that today would be her hot lunch day for this week.
I was glad that she went to school not only because it meant she wasn't sick, but because the hubs was off work today and we had a TON of errands. By the time she got out of school, we were both worn out. I would have loved to come home and take a nap, but she had dance class this afternoon. The hubs and I agreed that I would take her to dance and he could stay home IF he made her lunch for school tomorrow. Honestly, it was a total ploy on my part to stay home and make him take her to dance. BUT, he agreed and I headed out to dance class.

I was certain that when I got home, he would be asleep in the recliner and would have "forgotten" to make lunch. So, I was surprised, when I walked in and found that not only had he made her lunch, he had made a themed lunch complete with cut outs and everything. This is his "southwestern themed" lunch.

Rodeo clown quesadilla on pb and celery (not sure how a rodeo clown fits in to a "southwestern theme" but hey, I'm not gonna complain), Mini peppers and olives, Mandarin oranges, Cactus quesadilla on "sand" (Sun Chips)

He was pretty proud of it and I was really proud of him. He even explained it, in detail, to the big chic. So glad I married a man that appreciates the creative lunch!