10.21.2012

Good Things

This blog can be whatever I'd like it to be. So, today I'll focus on good things since so many things in life seem to be frustrating right now.

My sister and my friend Laura both tried and liked the pumpkin cinnamon roll recipe. These photos cheered me up. I like knowing people actually read this and was surprised and happy that people used what I'd shared.

My sister's photo
Laura's photo
I get substitute work every day, which is good. I've also learned I like going to a different school every day instead of the same one for the whole week.

I've read three books in the past week:

  • The List by Melanie Jacobson - If it were to be made into a movie, it'd be a chick flick, and a good one. While it was a fun read, I hope the next book in the book club I'm in has more depth.
  • Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult - I read this over three days at a high school. The subject matter is bullying and how students choose to explode as a result {shooting at their school}. So, reading this while substituting at a high school felt weird. However, I loved how spot-on the author was about what so many perspectives can be in that type of situation. I'll definitely pick up another book by her in the future. I didn't like the language but appreciated the realism.
  • Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life by Steve Martin - I grabbed this from Mike's book collection on my way out the door to work in order to avoid sheer boredom that day. It renewed my appreciation for Steve Martin as a person and as a comedian. He is, as advertised, an all-around good guy, and wants his career and everything in-between to have meaning. I'd read Shopgirl, a little novella he wrote, years before and loved it. Steve Martin: definitely on my awesome-celebrity list.


Last week, I started my first set of free fitness classes I won through Driven Fitness. To say I was sore was an understatement. However, this is a good thing: it means I actually got a workout. For awhile I've done my regular cardio routine but haven't felt anything. This is a good change and will help me maintain my weight going into the holidays :knock on wood:.

My parents came down to visit my aunt and uncle down the street, where my grandma is currently staying. It was great to hang out with them and hug and chat. I'll never stop being grateful for the help they continuously offer. I just wish I could repay them tenfold. Mom brought down my Halloween decorations so I finally got to put some up, besides my flag banners and pumpkin wreath. The dogs {Harley, Maya, Ozzy, Minnie, Izzy} all had a blast with each other too.

Things aren't so bad once you start to remember the good things. It's the good things that keep me sane.

10.16.2012

Somethin' Pumpkin: Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

Several friends post on Facebook every time they see a new pumpkin product/recipe I should try. I credit my friend Whitney Erickson for helping me stumble upon this amazing recipe, which I'll copy here with my own small edits. Whitney, you're a saint.



YES, this was my first time ever making cinnamon rolls of any kind, and I'm so happy with how they turned out. I think I'll actually use this recipe annually for Thanksgiving or fall time in general. Yummy tradition. To make it more gooey, only bake it for 22-23 minutes, and make a little more filling with a little more butter brushed onto the dough when it's rolled out before baking. However, we were extremely happy with everything about it as-is. Justina and Robert also approved, hooray!



So, Mike and I actually made this together. :awesome husband points x10: It wasn't too difficult, and turned out SO TASTY. The original directions called for a stand mixer with a dough kneading attachment, but I went old-school and did it with my BARE HANDS. Take that. It felt much more satisfying. Our only concern was that when the dough was set aside to rise, it didn't. We even bought new yeast, and took "beginning" and "after an hour" photos to be sure. I was worried I'd missed something, but went ahead with the baking anyway. I'm glad I did because they were so worth it.


Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls



Dough:

  • 6 T unsalted butter, to be divided
  • 1/2 c whole milk, warmed (but not over 116 degrees)
  • 2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast (or one yeast packet)
  • 3 1/2 c all-purpose flour, plus extra for rolling out
  • 1/4 c light or dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 c granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp table salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp ground cardamom (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 2/3 cpumpkin puree
  • 1 large egg
  • Oil for coating rising bowl

Filling:

  • 3/4 c light or dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 c granulated sugar
  • 1/8 tsp table salt
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
Glaze:

  • 4 ounces  cream cheese, softened
  • 2 T milk or buttermilk
  • 2 c powdered sugar, sifted
  • Few drops vanilla extract (optional)




Make your dough:
1. Melt your butter. If you’re melting it in a little saucepan, you might as well brown it for extra flavor (it was my first time doing this and I'd say it's a great idea). Once the butter has melted, keep cooking it over medium heat for a few additional minutes. It will become hissy and sizzle a lot, then take on a nutty flavor as golden bits form at the bottom of the pot. Remove from heat and set aside to cool slightly.

2. Combine your warmed milk and yeast in a small bowl and set aside. After five to seven minutes, it should be a bit foamy (mine barely did it, so don't be too concerned as long as your yeast didn't expire). If it’s not, you might have some bad yeast and should start again with a newer packet.

3. In the bottom of the bowl of an electric mixer combine flour, sugars, salt and spices (mixing by hand is fine). Add just 1/4 cup (or two-thirds of; leave the rest for assembly) of your melted/browned butter and stir to combine. Add yeast-milk mixture, pumpkin and egg and mix combined. Switch mixer to a dough hook and run it for 5 minutes on low.

4. Scrape mixture into a large oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Set aside for 1 hour in a draft-free place; it should just about double (mine didn't... but don't let that deter you).

5. While it is rising, line the bottom of two 9-inch round cake pans (8-inch round should work too, as does an 8-inch square) with parchment paper and butter the sides of the pan and the paper.

Assemble buns:
1. Scoop dough onto a very well floured surface and flour the top of it well. With a rolling pin, roll the dough to an approximately 16×11-inch rectangle. Brush reserved melted/browned butter over dough. Stir together remaining filling ingredients and sprinkle mixture evenly over dough. Starting on a longer side, roll the dough into a tight spiral. It’s going to make a mess because the dough is crazy soft and some stuff spills off the ends; don’t sweat it. It will all be delicious in the end.

2. Here’s how to cut cinnamon rolls without squishing their pretty spirals: With a sharp serrated knife, using absolutely no pressure whatsoever (only the weight of the blade should land on the dough) gently saw your log with a back-forth motion into approximately 1-inch sections. When a soft dough like this is rolled, it tends to grow longer, which means that you’ll have the option to either make more buns (say, 18 instead of 16) or just cut them a little larger (in generous inches).

3. Divide buns between two prepared pans. You can sprinkle any sugar that fell off onto the counter over them. Cover each pan with plastic wrap and let rise for another 45 minutes.

4. If you’re doing this ahead of time, you can now put them in the fridge overnight. In the morning, leave them out for an hour to warm up and finish rising.

5. 15 minutes before you’re ready to bake them, heat the oven to 350°F. Meanwhile, you can make the glaze. Beat your cream cheese until it is light and fluffy. Add powdered sugar and vanilla. Drizzle in milk until you get the consistency you’re looking for, either thick enough to ice or thin enough to drizzle. Finish your buns: Remove the plastic and bake buns for 25 minutes until golden brown. Remove from pans onto a cooling rack, and when they're cooled to your liking, spread on the glaze and enjoy.

nom. nom. nom.

10.10.2012

Fall Holiday & 100th Post

Happy 100th post to us! In case you didn't know, the reason I called it daburrfamily.blogspot.com is in reference to {this}. We're fans of classic SNL.

Things I love about fall...
  • cooler weather
  • cuddling with husband
  • fall and winter clothes {sweaters, jackets, scarves, warm socks}
  • changing colors in nature
  • crisp morning and evening walks with the dogs
  • the warm, fuzzy feeling that accompanies the beginning of a cozy season
  • people seem a bit... softer, and they're more likely to smile
  • seasonal foods, such as pumpkin {duh}, hot cocoa {more reason to have it}, peppermint


Here is the list of fall things we have thus far enjoyed that are pumpkin-related. If you have more to suggest we go try, let me know! My cousin Julia already added pumpkin rice crispy treats to my to-do list, and I have a few homemade pumpkin plans up my sleeve. On a non-pumpkin-related note, Oreo now has Halloween colored cookies. Hmmm, what to do with those...

Fall eats we have thus far enjoyed...
  1. pumpkin better-than-sex cake
  2. pumpkin wreath
  3. cinnamon pumpkin spice kiss cookies
  4. pumpkin banana bread
  5. pumpkin spice Hershey Kisses 
  6. pumpkin spice cream frappuccino from Starbucks 
  7. pumpkin pecan cheesecake from The Cheesecake Factory
  8. pumpkin truffles from See's Candy
  9. pumpkin pie shake from Bruxie
  10. pumpkin ravioli {failed attempt at making it}
  11. pumpkin waffles and pancakes {recipe coming next week}
And I'm miraculously maintaining my weight. :knock on wood:

I almost didn't let the pumpkin ravioli fail make the list. But, it did. I enjoyed the experiment.

I'd also like to add the Mickey Jack-o-lantern caramel apple we had at Disneyland last year. The orange-sprinkled marshmallow ears were yum.






10.06.2012

Somethin' Pumpkin: Ravioli-Fail and Bread-Win

Instead of a dessert recipe for this week, I decided to attempt pumpkin ravioli. But now that I'm posting about it, I can't even find the recipe I used to fail with. I'm betting that it was removed from the internet because it was so lame-sauce. Anyway, lesson learned: Don't invite a guest over the night you experiment, especially when it's your first time making ravioli, of all things. This time I was lucky: Tina didn't mind experiments :)

SO, after that disaster, it just happened to be convenient that the bananas I bought at Costco had turned overripe much too quickly. Then I had the best remedy to my ravioli fail: Pumpkin Banana Bread for the win!





I already knew I was awesome at baking banana bread {not to toot my own horn, but my husband says so}.  Creating a variation of it with pumpkin was right up my alley, and wow, it turned out great! Moist. Flavorful. You can taste the banana and the pumpkin. This is a must-try recipe. I know, I know, Costco just started stocking their pumpkin quick-bread mix, which is really good, but you need to make something from scratch to call it your own.

Big positives about this recipe: There is some batter leftover for you to have a few extra muffins on the side, AND, you don't need butter in the batter. NO butter! The only butter I used was to grease the sides of the pan.

Ingredients:
  • 3 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 c. vegetable or corn oil
  • 1 1/3 c. canned pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 c. honey
  • 1/2 c. white sugar
  • 1/2 c. brown sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp allspice
  • optional: walnuts, raisins, cranberries

Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F and grease a 9 x 5" or 10 x 4" loaf pan.
  2. In a large bowl, gently mix together: bananas, eggs, oil, pumpkin, honey, white sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla. Separately, combine the flour, powder, soda, salt, cinnamon, and allspice. Slowly add to banana/pumpkin mixture until just combined. Pour batter into the loaf pan until it's -just- over half full. Then use the rest to bake muffins {20-25 minute baking time}.
  3. Bake loaf at 350°F for 60 minutes, and make sure a toothpick comes out clean from the center. If not, add 10 more minutes. Let cool on cooling rack before removing from pan.

yum.yum.yum.

I must be a baker, because my cooking experiments are fewer than my baking experiments. Maybe pumpkin ravioli isn't all that amazing in general, but I think it should be. Either way, I will continue to love baking with pumpkin.

10.05.2012

Win What You Want

On with the Secret. Michael was officially laid off last week, which came sooner than we expected, but we expected it. The investors seemed to have a "meh" attitude about the company, in my opinion; if they wanted it to do well, they would have marketed and motivated better. Instead, they let it end "meh-ly" and Mike can tell you more in detail if he wants to update this. haha.



Initially I was worried because it had happened so fast; but then I reprimanded myself. The Secret is just beginning. There is something better for Mike, and it's coming, and we're very excited. I'm getting regular sub work and he will be getting unemployment. AND, did I mention we get checks in the mail? That's how we make our living. People ask, "So what do you do for work?" and we answer, "We get checks in the mail." Mind. Blown. :)

The past few weeks, we've had dinner with the Justina and Robert again, whom we love. We saw the movie "Looper" and loved it {mmm Joseph Gordon-Levitt... Michael knows I say this often}. Did I mention Mike tried his hand at stand-up comedy last Monday, and didn't bomb? Well, he did stand-up, and compared to the other first-timers, he did really well. We'll be going to this little hole-in-the-wall joint every Monday night so he can develop his stage personality and his material. Most of the other comedians were vulgar and the jokes were all about male and female anatomy, so he felt kind of left out. haha :)

We also became closer friends with our friend Tina from church when we had her over for dinner. She is hilarious and is a master baker. I had baked cinnamon pumpkin spice kiss cookies, and eventually we ate them and gave them away. Then, Tina does this amazing goodbad thing and brings us a dozen of our own carrot-pineapple cupcakes with frosting that had a hint of cream cheese. I had two after dinner even though I was full, they were so delicious. I immediately dispersed them to the neighbors the following day so we could share in the joy and also be cleansed of the guilt of eating any of them in the future. This was the night I also tried a pumpkin ravioli recipe and it was an 80% fail. The flavor was barely there, and they fell apart... so maybe like a 100% fail. Anyways, I'll go into it with another 'Somethin' Pumpkin' post later.



I substituted elementary PE for the past three days and I am super tan and happy with that. Yes I wore sunscreen, so it's a good tan. 

Sandal tan. No, I didn't want to wear shoes :)

{Firenzi} business is booming. It started to take off thanks to a few things I had done all at once toward the end of September and now... it just keeps going. I'm so happy.thankful.peaceful. Who ever thought I'd be making what I'm making and people love it as much as I do?



Tonight, we further used the Secret to go to our HOA's Meet and Greet shindig and collect our present. They called it door prize, but we knew we would get one, so we came to collect. Hooray for Trader Joe's gift cards!

So, are you ready for General Conference this weekend? I always feel like it's such a special time of year because it's like opening presents for Christmas. The prophets and leaders of the church share such awesome messages and spiritual gems. Don't miss out! Watch it {here}.