No-Knead Crusty Bread

Crusty Bread

Happy New Year to everyone!  I hope you all had a fabulous holiday season.  I had a very wonderful yet incredibly busy holiday with a road trip back to Michigan.  I took a little break from blogging to recover, but I’m back and better than ever.  In fact, I made a resolution to blog more, so here it goes!

So, this pin – No-Knead Crusty Bread – is all over Pinterest these days.  One of my Facebook friends gave it a try and it looked amazing, so I decided to give it a try a few weeks ago.

I’ll put the full instructions at the bottom of this post, but here’s the quick and dirty.  Mix some yeast, flour, salt and water.  (I threw in a tablespoon of sugar, too.)  Let it rise overnight, then back in an 450 degree oven for 45 minutes.  You have to preheat the pan for 30 minutes beforehand, so plan on an hour and 15 minutes of time with the oven on. Here’s a look before everything went in to the oven.  (Side note: I got this cast-iron dutch oven from my husband for my birthday.  It’s perfect for this recipe!)

Pots and dough

That’s it!  No kneading, no fussing around.  And, when it’s all done….

crusty bread

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Crockpot Chicken Tacos

You know that you really want to try a recipe when you find the same pin multiple times on your board, “Recipes to Try.”  Yup, that was me.  I guess I really wanted to try this one because I had pinned it twice.

Here is Crockpot Chicken Tacos – courtesy of Chocolate Therapy.  And, I’ll be the first to admit – I was very skeptical of this one.  Throw chicken breasts, salsa and taco seasoning in a crockpot, and presto?  Perfect chicken taco meat?  No way.

So, I threw three boneless chicken breasts (about 1 1/2 pounds) into a crockpot with one jar of salsa (ok, it was more a mishmash of salsas that I had in my fridge) and 1/2 of a packet of Trader Joe’s taco seasoning.  (I used half because that’s what it calls for when you use about a pound of meat.)  Six hours later on low….

And, perfect, juicy tasting chicken ready for tacos!  I shredded up the chicken breasts and poured a little bit of the cooking juices and mixed with the shredded chicken.  With a little tomato, sour cream and lettuce, we had juicy, delicious chicken tacos.   I didn’t even get a chance to take a photo because my husband gobbled it up.  His quote: “These are the best tacos we’ve ever had.  You can make them every time.”

Having Dinner with Friends – Pesto Orecchiette With Chicken Sausage

So, it’s been over two years since my husband and I packed up our house and moved from Michigan to Kentucky.  It was one of the toughest decisions we ever made – leaving our friends and family for a new job and new adventure.  Looking back, I’m still proud that we took the leap and moved south.

Thank goodness for Facebook, Skype and now, Pinterest, to keep my in the loop with all of our friends in Michigan.  Sometimes I feel like I’m peeking into their kitchens to see what they are making for dinner.  And when I make one of their favorites, it’s like we’re sharing a meal – 350 miles away.  🙂

So this week, we “had dinner” with our friends, Michelle and Jeremy.  Michelle posted this recipe – Pesto Orecchiette With Chicken Sausage, courtesy of Real Simple – on Pinterest with the note that it was one of her husband’s favorites.  We had to give it a try!

Pasta with Peas and Beans

The pasta was delicious – a nice combination of chicken sausage, peas, green beans, pesto and pasta.  And, it was easy to make – just throw some pasta in a pot to boil, add the veggies at the end, brown the sausage and toss together with some pesto and parmesan cheese.  I used frozen peas and french green beans, but the pesto really brings a fresh flavor, so you couldn’t even tell that they were frozen.

So, even though our friends were far away in Michigan, we thought of them fondly as we enjoyed one of their favorites.  If you want to “have dinner” with the Bosschers, here are a few of our favorites:

Grilled Chicken with Goat Cheese Zucchini Pasta,
Chicken and Rice Casserole,
and good old’ burgers with a little blue cheese on top.

Farmer’s Market Finds – Yum!

One of my favorite things about the summer is the farmer’s markets.  Louisville has lots of them, and one of our favorites is the Douglass Loop Farmer’s Market – right across the street from our old apartment.

On Saturday we picked up some heirloom tomatoes and fresh basil, so I decided to try a recipe courtesy of French Ponytail – Roasted Balsamic Tomatoes with Goat Cheese and Basil.  Pinterest is such a great place to search for recipes and I found this one right away.

And, of course, it was delicious.  I had never roasted tomatoes before, and I was pleasantly surprised on how easy it was.  Just dig out the seeds, drizzle them with oil and vinegar and then pop them in the oven for 30 minutes.  We did eat ours with a little toasted bread since I didn’t dig out as many of the seeds as I should.  It turned a little soupy but was still wonderful.

The fresh basil really makes all the difference.  I got a bunch for $2, so we’ll be eating lots of combinations of tomatoes, cheese and basil for the next few days.  Yum!

And, when I’m not surfing Pinterest, I’m hanging out with my daughter, Avery. Just had to share this picture – her smile cracks me up.  🙂

Cowboy Caviar

Cowboy Caviar

Yum. Yum. Yum.  I can’t enough of this recipe.  As a new mom, we were fortunate to have a few meals dropped off from friends and fellow church members.  One of them came from a fellow Kalamazoo native and included this incredible dip.  Luckily, I follow her pins on Pinterest, so it took just a few clicks to find the recipe.

So, behold: Cowboy Caviar.  A huge thanks to the Rigneys blog for posting the recipe.  I am always looking for good snack food and this one fits the bill – it’s healthy, inexpensive, contains easy-to-find ingredients and has a decent shelf life.  Plus, it has a bunch of veggies in it.  (My husband and I are great at eating fruit; not so much at eating vegetables.)

cowboy caviarSince there are just two of us, I made a half recipe.  I used two peppers – green and orange, and half of everything else.  Mix together and marinate overnight.  It was hard to resist eating it the first day, but the wait paid off – it is delicious!  A little sweet with the vinegar and super fresh with the cilantro.

We’ve been eating it with tortilla chips, and for dinner last night, we added it to grilled chicken wraps.  It’s a great dip to bring to a party or just to have around the house.  Enjoy!

Glass Shower Cleaner – Lemons and Salt

Now that I’m home on maternity leave, I seem to have a little bit more time around the house.   And I’ve been blessed with a baby who likes to take a few long naps every day so I figured I might want to tackle a few cleaning projects.  I saw this pin floating around Pinterest and I figured why not?

Thanks to Picklee for the post – 10 Remarkable DYI Cleaning Solutions.  I decided to try the glass shower cleaner because I had an extra lemon laying around the house and my shower is pretty gross after a month of baby time.  Plus, I figured it would be quick so just in case my little pumpkin starts crying, I can take a break.

How did it go?  It actually worked really well.  My shower wall cleaned up well without a lot of scrubbing.  One lemon did the trick for the inside of the shower and it really did remove all of the soap scum (and there was a lot!)  And, no fumes or extra chemicals in the house!

The only downside- it left a bunch of salt and lemon pieces all over the shower walls.  It look a while to wipe them down and I’m still sure there are salt pieces on the walls.  Hopefully my husband doesn’t spot them tomorrow morning!

Milk Jug Watering Can

So, this link was floating around Pinterest a lot, so I thought I would give it a try.  I laughed because the tag for this post is, “Good grief, I should have done this years ago.”  And, yes, we all should have done this years ago.  For a thrifty Dutch girl like myself, why not make your own watering can?

The lovely blog, A Journey to Dream, put together these simple instructions for creating the milk jug watering can.  I didn’t exactly follow her instructions by using a needle and some matches.  In fact, I didn’t even punch the holes – my handy father-in-law helped me out with that one.

Watering CanSo, here’s our finished product.  It comes in really handy because I have two flower pots on the front porch that need constant watering and it’s a lot easier to fill up a milk jug in the sink than mess with a big ol’ watering can.  (And, I think our watering can got left in Michigan!)

My one complaint – the water flows a little slow, so I find myself squeezing the jug to make it go faster.  I’ve crushed one jug already, but it’s no big deal because there is always a replacement in our fridge!  🙂

Guest Post – Easy Homemade Ice Cream

Hey folks, this is Kathy, Lynn’s older sister, guest-blogging from Portland, Oregon, while she spends some very important time with my sweet new niece Avery* and getting some much-needed sleep when she can! I’m also into Pinterest, adventures and trying new ideas in the kitchen. Recently, I had success with a very easy homemade ice cream recipe from www.kevinandamanda.com (http://www.kevinandamanda.com/recipes/dessert/easy-homemade-ice-cream-without-a-machine.html). Seriously, two main ingredients plus whatever you want in your ice cream, and a freezer – so simple.

The recipe calls for 2 cups of heavy cream and a can of condensed milk as its base – you just stir various toppings into the condensed milk, then beat the heavy cream until it has stiff peaks, fold them together and freeze (preferably overnight). But here’s where it gets creative: You can add virtually anything into the condensed milk – candy, nuts, cake/brownies/cookie dough, fruit, etc. The possibilities are endless.

Homemade Ice CreamMy version: I added about a half a teaspoon of vanilla and two crushed Heath bars to my condensed milk, then folded in the whipped cream and froze it overnight. And how did it turn out? Absolutely delicious. Just the right amount of sweetness, and the texture and appearance are just like regular store-bought ice cream. It is a very creamy ice cream, so I’m tempted to try it with half and half instead of heavy cream and see how it tastes. I think my favorite thing about it is that it takes so little effort – the freezer does most of the work. Definitely recommending it to the new mama in hot, humid Kentucky – she deserves it!

*I’ve been busy with my own project – a sweet baby girl named Avery Elizabeth.  Huge thanks to my sister Kathy for guest blogging for me!  I’ll be back in a week with a new post!

Reese’s Peanut Butter Bars

When I saw this recipe floating around on Pinterest a few months ago, I knew I had to pin it. Immediately. Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups are one of my favorite desserts. Always available in my work’s vending machine for only 55 cents, they were nearly impossible to resist – especially being pregnant and all.

I’m home on maternity leave and bored out of mind, so I figured, “why not make these delicious bars?” Thanks to the Bakerlady, here’s my go at her Reese’s Peanut Butter Bars.

Reese's Peanut Butter Bars

The bars were relatively easy to put together, although the tag on the Pin from Pinterest said, “five minute reese’s peanut butter bars.” Maybe I’m slow, but it took me a little longer than 5 minutes – maybe more like 20. I did have to crush up some graham crackers in the food processor, and I miscalculated how many to crush up, so I had to do it twice. Also, I cut the recipe in half (still cooking for a family of two) and I put it in an 8×8 pan.

They were a little tough to get out of the pan (probably because I’m storing them in the fridge but if you keep them on the counter, they should come out fine), but oh my goodness, they taste exactly like a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. Same texture, same goodness…they are amazing. Thumbs up for sure.