Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Poinsettia Puffs with Rhodes Bake-N-Serv

As if my creative juices aren't flowing enough this time of year, I was contacted by a representative at Rhodes Bake-N-Serv and asked if I was interested in concepting a blog post based on a recipe I make with their products. I'm always up for a challenge, and it doesn't hurt me to partner with a nice company like Rhodes for this post, so of course I said yes and started thinking up ideas.

I wanted to come up with something sweet & savory for my holiday work party and although in my head, my original idea was going to work out perfectly, I wasn't as prepared with the planning and follow through and ended up going in a different direction.

The holidays are full of sweets, or at least they are with my family - candy filled stocking, cookies in tins for sharing and gift exchanges, pies and bars for dessert. You can't escape them around me! I thought of a great idea for a sweet roll for Christmas morning that everyone will love and will look just as good as it tastes! Think Cinnamon Roll without the added butter, sugar and fat.

I started with a loaf of the Rhodes Bake-N-Serv white bread and after thawing it, I rolled it out a bit, cut it into 12 pieces and formed rolls out of them. I'm sure the Bake-N-Serv rolls would help speed up this process, but I had bought the loaves for my other concept and wasn't going to waste it.

After forming the dough into the rolls, I took a pair of scissors and cut into the roll to make 6 slits around it - like cutting into a pie but not all the way through.

Then I took a mixture of decorating sugar (in red) and cinnamon and sprinkled it over the roll. I made sure to get it into the cuts in the roll. Then I placed each roll into a muffin tin (lightly coated with cooking spray) to help them hold their shape.

After letting the dough rise for a half hour, I pushed the end of a wooden spoon into the center of each roll and then popped them in the over at 350 for 15 - 20 minutes.

I was excited for the outcome and left the oven light on so I could see how they were turning out. Perfectly golden and looking like a flower.

A dollop of butter was added to a few of the rolls in the center, but I didn't really taste a difference in the finished roll. I would skip this step to help keep these a bit healthier.

And they tasted great! The little sweetness from the sugar, mixed with the cinnamon and yeasty dough really gave me a sweet treat. I put a small spread of butter on each half of my roll, but nothing compared to what you would get in a Cinnabon.

Such a beautiful treat and simple to make on Christmas morning and even the kids can help. Help the children with the scissors or use blunt tip to be safe, but I think the children will enjoy putting the sugar on these treats and being able to say they helped make them.

And these don't have to just be for the holidays. Use other colored baker's sugars to create yellow or pink daisies in Spring for Mother's Day.

Rhodes Bake-N-Serv provided me compensation for a post featuring their product, but the review is my own honest opinion of the product.

Monday, December 15, 2014

The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap 2014

This is my third year participating in the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap and I'm so excited to share my recipe. I received some excellent treats as well. Here is 2013 and 2012 posts for your reading enjoyment.

Ok first things first, what did I send out? 

I have made these cookies in the past and they are my favorite. I made my Mint Chocolate Chip "Grinch" Cookies, but I changed the recipe up slightly this year. I didn't have any creme de menthe liquor to add, but I did have some Vanilla Cinnamon Bailey's Irish Cream. I figured it was a fair substitute. The other change I made was that I added more of the mint chocolate chips to really bring the mint flavor through. 

They are really simple to make. Check out my videos that I recorded to see what I did.



I am very happy with the turnout and the flavor this year.

The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap comes right before the holidays as does the #MKEFoodies Bake Sale, so I made a few other cookies for that event but I packaged them all up the same. 

I sent these Grinch cookies to: 
Bali Cravings
Sensibly Sara (Love her name by the way!)
Mrs. Happy Homemaker

And I received treats from:
Lady Behind the Curtain

Loaded Chocolate Chip Pretzel Cookies

Honey and Birch

Chocolate Sea Salt cookies

The Baked Equation
Cranberry Shortbreads

The cookies I received were delicious and I look forward to reading their blogs this week and seeing their recipes.

Grinch Cookies
2/3 cup vegetable shortening
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar (packed)
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
2 tsp. Vanilla Cinnamon Bailey's (have used Creme de Menthe in the past. Rumchata would work too!)
5 drops green food coloring (Last time I used 8 and that was pretty intense of a green)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips (mini work best but I only had regular size)
4 oz. mini mint chocolate chips

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Mix shortening, sugars, egg, vanilla and Bailey's thoroughly. Mix flour, soda and salt together in a separate bowl and then add to the mixture. Mix until well blended.

Add food coloring and mix thoroughly. Mix in chips by hand.

Drop rounded teaspoonfuls of dough about 2" apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. (I prefer my cookies smaller so I do teasponfuls, but you could to larger ones and just adjust the cooking time slightly.)

Bake 8 - 10 minutes or until just lightly browned. Let rest for 2 minutes on pan and then transfer to cooling racks. Makes 4 doz. cookies.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Broadway Cafe

Sunday morning, my guy and I got up early to take on the day (ok using that word "early" loosely - he was up early and I wanted to sleep in). But we were out the door by 9 am and off to breakfast before our trip to the Milwaukee County Zoo. We picked Broadway Cafe in Waukesha.

I hadn't checked out this place since it changed names and reopened and now I see they have even added a patio portion to the front of the building. My coworkers went right after it opened and said the food was great but seemed they were still working on timing and such as the service was slow. But that happens a lot when a restaurant just opens so I won't hold it against it.

We walked in and were greeted immediately by a nicely dressed man that took us to a booth by the window. We were promptly welcomed by our server and she was great! More on that later.

They serve breakfast all day, but had a "Specials Menu" as well for Sunday. I chose the Texas-Style French Toast and my guy went with the Gyro Omelet. Our server was extremely informative on the menu items and asked us all the necessary questions and kept it light and fun. We joked a bit with her and she responded to it well.

The food came out pretty quickly. My French Toast was definitely Texas-sized! And it was just as delicious as it looked. Just the right amount of egg and toasting on it. I put some butter between the pieces to melt and then a little syrup. I ordered sausage on the side as a treat to myself as I never make them at home. They were pretty tasty too.

My guy's omelet was huge - filled the whole plate and came with hasbrowns (other option was square potatoes) and Sourdough toast (white and wheat were the other options). It came with Greek tzatziki sauce on the side, plenty of gyro meat and feta cheese inside. I tried some of the gyro meat and it was very flavorful. My guy labeled the meal as very satisfying!

We both agreed that we would definitely return. The service was really great and the food was pretty tasty. 

We left with very full bellies and I took half my French Toast home. My guy almost finished his omelet but decided not to overstuff himself.

Then it was off of the Milwaukee County Zoo. I hadn't been to the zoo in years and it was great to see all the animals. The zoo wasn't crowded so we got to pick and choose what we wanted to see and not worry about lines at all. It was a little chilly and a few areas were closed, but it was still a nice walk and great to reminisce my childhood. 

And I was even stalked by a cheetah - I am so glad I got it on video. Enjoy!


Monday, December 8, 2014

Supporting, Cooking, Shopping & Zoo-ing - All in a Weekend

Wow - what a whirlwind weekend this was for me but 100% fun and enjoyable too! It went by way too fast as most weekends do, but here is a quick recap.

It started Thursday with Good Friend Inc.'s Holiday Open House to show off the new digs. Quality Fireplace purchased a building on North Grand Ave. in Waukesha and Good Friend Inc. is renting the bottom of the building for their offices. Finally brick and mortar for the non-profit!!!

Using the term fixer-upper doesn't justify the time and effort put into making "Lady Grand" what she is today. The house was in complete disrepair with water damage and more, and what the team did to make this building what it is today, is purely remarkable. They worked with the Historical Society of Waukesha to keep it a historical site in the city and show off the building's amazing features. A Facebook page was created for the progress on the home and I'm absolutely amazed with the amazing work done to make "her" who she is today.

Original fireplace

Parlor all decorated for the holidays

Amazing appetizers by Jolanta and team :)

Friday night consisted of watching Frozen finally (great flick, very cute), and packaging up goodies or the #mkefoodies Cookies for Kids Cancer Bake Sale. The sale was a HUGE success and we were almost sold out in 1 1/2 hours. We definitely want to have more bakers next year, so if you are interested and want to donate to this great organization, I will gladly deliver your cookies to them. Just let me know if you are interested :)

Oreo Cream Brownies - more on these later this week
Applesauce gum drops - more on these later this week

#mkefoodies bake sale goodies
Saturday I worked the bake sale in the afternoon and then met up with my guy for dinner and some holiday shopping at the Art Crawl in downtown Waukesha. Although he has lived in the city for a while, he isn't too familiar with all the downtown shops, so after dinner at La Estacion that he described as PHENOMENAL (more on that later), we hit up the Art Crawl.
La Estacion Raspberry Margarita

It was so cute seeing the horse carriage around downtown and we made stops at Allo! Chocolat, Poppin' on Broadway, Picky Picky Resale Shop and Antiques & Uniques on Main. I helped my guy put together a great gift basket of goodies from downtown Waukesha for him to give to his parents that are from out of town. We would have shopped more, but we were both pretty tired from the day.

We started the next day bright and early (OK.....9 am because I wanted to be a little lazy) and grabbed a satisfying breakfast at Broadway Cafe in Waukesha. Another hit for us that I will share about at a later time.
Broadway Cafe Texas French Toast
Then it was off to the Milwaukee County Zoo. The zoo is open year round and yesterday there weren't too many folks on the grounds. This allowed us to see everything we wanted too and enjoy a nice walk on a brisk December day. So much has changed at the zoo, but some things really brought back the nostalgia for me. These monkeys all cuddling together were just too cute to not get a picture.

And I found Nemo in his anemonnemonee (saying that just how Nemo did in the movie!). I didn't find Dory so they can continue production on the movie.
I think the last time I was at the zoo was 9 years ago when the Big Cats area was being redone. That area looks great now, but the giraffe area is really awesome. Before it had leaves painted on the walls that the giraffes would lick and it was all glassed in. Now it's gorgeous with beautiful wood and it's open with just wires dividing us from the giraffes. I have always been fascinated by them and glad they have a great new facility. Hopefully the hippos & rhinos will get a redone home soon; it's looking quite dated.
 The little guy in this pic was so playful and adorable. I wanted to take him home.
There was no Packer game yesterday, so it was a great day to swing through the zoo and get some exercise and fresh air. The trains weren't running anymore for the season, or that would have totally made my year! But the whole trip made me quite sleepy and I needed a nap while watching a movie.

Next weekend I have more fun planned because I am helping my mom prep for her big Christmas party that is the next weekend and I'm going to see Tim Hawkins at River Glen Christian Church. He is a hilarious and clean comedian and I'm so excited to see him live.

Friday, December 5, 2014

MKEFoodies Bake Sale 2014

Today(Saturday) is the #MKEFoodies Bake Sale for Cookies for Kids Cancer. The bake sale is at the Hudson Business Lounge in the Historic Third Ward, from 1 - 4 pm. Please stop on out and pickup some great baked goods from area food bloggers, bakers, chefs and the like.

I baked a lot of treats for this year - some of my classic favorites and some new ones.

All of my bags have my business card attached to them and the recipes are below with my tweaks.

100 Good Cookies - I make this cookie every year and it's the cookie I always remembered my grandma having around her house. The batch truly makes 100 cookies, because you need to keep them small as they are rich.

Mint Chocolate Chip Grinch Cookies - I picked up some mini mint chocolate chips at Simple Life Country Store. So instead of 3 oz of chocolate chips and 3 oz of mint, I did 2 regular and 4 of the mint. I also added Rumchata instead of the Creme de Menthe as I used what I had in the house. I think it was a nice addition.

Gum Drops - This is another treat I remember my grandma making for the holidays. She used to let them dry out in her cellar and my brother and I would sneak down there and eat a few before Christmas, but we weren't smart enough to hide the wrappers so we were caught. I decided on Raspberry and Green Apple and they are delicious!

Shortbread Sandwich Cookies - The recipe says these are Kit Kat cookies, but I find them tasting more like a shortbread with chocolate in the middle. I used semi-sweet chocolate chips instead of milk chocolate as that's what I had at home, but they were still delicious.

Oreo Cream Brownies - These are FANTASTIC and my new favorite treat. It's dangerous that I now know how to make Oreo cream! They were a little more complicated to make than I thought, but they are 100% worth it with the end result.

I hope you can come out and support the cause tomorrow. The Third Ward is also having their Holiday Sale, so it's another reason to come check out the sale and get other holiday shopping done!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Downtown Waukesha Holiday Shopping Success

Sorry for my absence lately folks. Life has gotten busy and it's not even the holidays yet.

I have a few things to tell you, but I'll keep it brief in hopes of getting more posts up soon.

I have been baking like crazy. I am participating in The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap again this year and got my packages out in the mail this week. I have received two so far and their treats are just divine. Not to mention, I love finding new blogs to read! And then I'm also baking for the MKEFoodies Bake Sale this Saturday that benefits the Cookies For Kids Cancer Foundation. The Bake Sale is this Saturday from 1 - 4 pm at the Hudson Business Lounge in the Historic Third Ward of downtown Milwaukee. (I'll share my recipes soon - I was hoping to create some videos, but I had a little issue with the videos being sideways and couldn't get them edited and up soon enough.)

I did a little Black Friday shopping at the Big Box stores with my mom. It was until about the third store that we finally bought something for someone else besides ourselves, but that's how my mom and I do Black Friday. It's a nice day for the two of us to shop together and treat ourselves.

People's Park all decked out for Christmas
Small Business Saturday was an even bigger success for my parents and I. We met up in downtown Waukesha and by the time I met them, they already went to Poppin' on Broadway and stocked up. I'm sure I'll be hitting up the store before Christmas for a few more treats. They also found some nice things at Burlap & Lace. We grabbed a bite at People's Park and received a coupon for showing our sales receipt that will get a Buy One Get One offer for January - March because we shopped local.

GreenBee display
We wandered downtown in and out of shops and took advantage of great sales and offerings. Of course we went into Plowshare at it is my mom's favorite shop. Then down to the other end of Main Street for Restyle Studio and GreenBee (more on this new store soon). Then back to the other end of Main Street to Metropolitan Antiques and I fell in love with a table. I wasn't sure if I really wanted it, so we left and I said I would come back and if it was still there, I would get it. My dad wanted to find The Doors CD and I remembered we had a CD shop downtown called Music Records and Collectibles, so we went there and found a Greatest Hits album.

My new gateleg table
I headed back to Metropolitan Antiques and the table was still there. And because my parents had their truck, I was able to get it home right away. It needs some TLC and because I'm unsure of the age, I have to be careful with the paint removal - could be lead based paints. But I'm hoping to strip the top and just stain it lightly and then paint the bottom a brown espresso color to go with my couch and table.

Gateleg table behind my couch - will need some work but love it already!
This was a very successful trip and I love our downtown and it's local flare. I have already given suggestions of gift baskets from Waukesha to give to out of town friends. Some popcorn, chocolate, oatmeal, tea, coffee and you have a great foodie basket. Or some soaps, lotions, scarves and you have a great basket for a lady in your life. I didn't venture into the Picky Picky or the Mantiques stores on Grand, but I'm sure a great basket for men could be created with sports or beer memorabilia.

I plan to head to downtown Waukesha for the Art Crawl this Saturday. It starts at 4 pm and stores are open until 10 pm. There will be carriage rides as well around town. Hopefully I can find a few more unique gifts that are local as I really hope to spend more locally than big box this year!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Veteran's Park in Downtown Waukesha

Grandpa Zubarik - World War II
I was hoping to get this post up last week in time for Veteran's Day, but I was a little under the weather and blogging went on the wayside. But I don't think there is every a bad day to salute a Veteran and thank them for their service. Without their sacrifice to defend our nation, we wouldn't have the freedoms we have today.

Downtown Waukesha has a very nice, but small Veteran's Park on the west end. You can find it on the corner of Main & Wisconsin Avenues. A small shelter houses faded pictures and information about Veteran's. I tried to find additional information about who up keeps the park and puts the information in but there really isn't much information to be found.

I love the sundial memorial that is up. There are bricks inside the sundial that must be available for Waukesha area vets or families of the vets to purchase but I don't know how one goes about that.

Each division of the United States Armed Forces has a pillar of representation and at night the entire area is lit up. Wreaths are hung on it in winter and it really shows that someone is caring about the park.

I am a daughter and granddaughter of those that served. My grandfather on my dad's side was in World War II, as were both of my grandparents on my mom's side. And my dad was also in the Army and served during Vietnam. He was a helicopter pilot and I am so proud of him.

Grandpa Zubarik- World War II
My Dad (red jacket) and his Dad (my grandpa in the wheelchair) returning from the Honor Flight
Awesome Wisconsin proud guitar in Waukesha - just fitting for this post - America Proud