Monday, October 20, 2014

butterfinger fudge // take 2...


Friends, seriously.

Ever since I made this recipe last year, I have been C.R.A.V.I.N.G it like no one's business. I looooove me some Butterfinger candy bars and knowing that the flavor was easily made into fudge form blew my mind. In a really delicious and amazing way. I sent some with Bill to work for the sake of my health (I could have eaten the entire batch my dang self). There are co-workers there who still talk about it to this day. One in particular pretty consistently asks Bill if I'm making any anytime soon, hehe. Yeah, it really is THAT good. 

Thing is...it needs candy corn! Unless I wanted to spend an arm and a leg in April, online, ordering candy corn, I really DID need to wait until fall when the stuff would be everywhere. Kind of a bummer...but then, not really because of the sake of my health and all ;) Also- I'm going to be honest here- I'm lazy. If I need to go to three different stores (or even two for that matter) to buy ingredients for one recipe, chances are I prooooooobably won't do it. 

But this fudge! Fall was here and I needed to make some! It had been almost a year since my tastebuds enjoyed a piece... or 20. And Bill's co-workers- what about them?? They deserved some as well. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

baby update // and we're having a...


Well, well, well, would you look at this. We officially know what we're having! After 19 very long weeks, we headed to the Dr for our normal checkup and right away were told if we were going to be blessed with a little boy or a little girl. We couldn't have been happier. Not going to lie, there were total tears of joy. We're both so stoked. 

Not wanting to announce anything subtly (haha), we decided what better way to let our family in on our secret than with a little party. Honestly, it's just an excuse to get family together for a Sunday afternoon. 

We decided on having a very low key, budget friendly, little dessert and coffee gender reveal get together at my uncle's house. Since Bill and I already knew the sex, I saved money by making our own gender reveal cake. This would be how we'd tell our family- we'd gather round and slice off a big 'ol piece! Worked like a charm and super fun. 

Here's how it all went down...

Monday, October 13, 2014

a giveaway // tribes a dozen hallah bread mix...


Ahhh carb-a-licious bread, how I love thee. I could literally eat bread and bread-like substances for every meal all day errrryday. I. Love. Bread.

Oh and homemade bread? Be still my heart. There really is nothing quite like freshly made, warm, crusty bread. Gosh I can literally taste it now...smelling all good and bready, covered in melty butter...maybe a slight sprinkle of sea salt. Man. Yum. 

My husband and I used to make our own bread pretty frequently. We were on the biggest bread making kick! Then I got lazy. Ooops. I mean, to make real bread, with yeast and all, and from scratch? That took time. There’s the flour and the kneading and the rising times. Time hasn't been something we've had very much of these days. Seriously though, fresh made bread, homemade peanut or almond butter, and homemade jam? Best PB n J EVER.

Enter Tribes-A-Dozen's Hallah Bread MIXES! Ummm what?! Yeah, totally. They've devoted themselves to making easy to do, easy to follow, bread mixes made with REAL ingredients. You know, right up my alley. 

Tribes-A-Dozen manufactures a unique kosher line of three Voilà! Hallah Egg Bread Mixes: Simply Spelt, Traditional, and Wholey Wheat. Their wholesome, all natural bread mixes are sure to bring you back to a kitchen from long ago. Recreating the warmth, the heavenly aroma and the unmistakable taste. They strive to keep it simple so we bakers can bake these breads and share fresh with friends and loved ones. It's all about Hallah made easy. No one will guess it came from a mix because it tastes just like from scratch. And it really does. I love their motto too- "Break Bread, Not Tradition" :)

Tribes-A-Dozen is all about wholesome, all natural, kosher hallah (or challah bread, which is the classic egg bread) also referred to as barches, brioche, kalács, osterbrot, or simply, twisted bread. Hallah can be perfectly enjoyed on its own, as sandwich bread, or as the ultimate base for French toast or bread pudding.

Tribes-A-Dozen believes in baking the kind of bread your great-grandmother used to make (if she handed down the recipe). Whether you spell it "challah" or "hallah", you will love this mix.


I couldn't wait to get my paws on the Wholey Wheat mix! I loved their ingredient list- organic whole grain wheat flour, brown sugar, turbinado sugar, sea salt and organic flavor. Best part though??? Their mixes needed things I already had in my pantry. Ahhh simplicity. 


For this specific bread mix, all I needed was:
  • warm water
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 egg yolk (save that white for the egg wash)
  • vegetable oil
  • honey
  • flour for dusting
  • and granulated sugar

The directions were easy to read, easy to follow and worked like a charm! 

First we placed their bread mix and included yeast packet in the bowl of our stand mixer. Using the stand mixer took the place of kneading and made things a LOT easier!

Next, we added the amount of warm water called for and within minutes watched as the bubbles and froth from the yeast formed. This meant the yeast was alive and fresh! In went the egg, egg yolk and honey and then it was a nice 10 minute mix with the dough hook. 


After 10 minutes we rubbed a little bit of oil over a clean bowl, scooped the dough out of the mixer, formed it into a ball, and allowed to sit in a warm area of our kitchen and rise (wasn't a problem- it was HOT that day!) for 45 minutes. This allowed us ample time to clean up, sit back and hang out until the next step!


After 45 minutes our little ball of dough had risen and puffed nicely! Then we lightly dusted our surface and divided the dough into 3 equal balls. 

We decided to go with the braided loaf's instructions (versus the loaf pan) which meant we had to roll each ball into 12" strands, pinch and tuck the edges together and braid together. Easy peasy. 


Finally, we gently placed our braided loaf onto a parchment lined sheet pan, brushed the top with that remaining egg white from the lone yolk needed for the mix, and generously sprinkled the top with granulated sugar. 

It sat for another 45 minutes in the warm part of our kitchen before baking at 350°F for 25 minutes! Our house smelled amazing!

The instructions told us to place on a wire rack and cool 10 minutes before breaking and eating. HA! We were in that sucker as soon as we could handle it. Like I said earlier, nothing like warm bread with melty butter. The slightly sweet, slightly chewy, crunchy topped, perfectly baked egg dough was incredible.

The box also gives instructions for baking with a bread machine as well as mixing together by hand! So no matter where you are, this bread mix will work!


To find Tribes-A-Dozen Voilà! Hallah Egg Bread Mixes at stores near you, use the store locator. You can find your own boxes on the kosher shelf at 800 Walmart stores around the country, MOM’s Organic Markets, Giant Stores, Relay Foods (online grocer), and other Kosher and specialty food stores. 

Now for the fun part! One of my readers will get the chance to try out the exact same three bread mixes as I did (Simply Spelt, Traditional, and Wholey Wheat). Just enter using the Rafflecopter widget below. To enter, join the mailing list on on their website, like their Facebook page and follow them on Twitter and Pinterest. Continental U.S. entrants only. Previous winners of Tribes-A-Dozen giveaways are ineligible.



a Rafflecopter giveaway

Now for the small print: Tribes-A-Dozen provided me with free samples of the product to review. I was under no obligation to write a positive review. All pictures  and opinions are my own. CONTEST OPEN TO US RESIDENTS ONLY. Contest will run for 7 days. Winner will be shown on this blog post upon being chosen AND will be contacted by Sweet Lavender Bake Shoppe via email. Winner has 24 hours to email back and claim prize before a new winner will be chosen. All prizes were graciously donated and shipped to winner by Tribes-A-Dozen.

Friday, October 10, 2014

gluten free apple cinnamon dutch baby style pancake...


With autumn in full swing now, I find myself craving all sorts of warm, inviting, comfort foods. 

We're talking casseroles, stews and dinners cooked long and slow... Roasted root veggies, deep flavored dishes, and cinnamon, ginger, allspice, nutmeg and clove spiced foods. Oh and don't forget all things pumpkin and apple. It's a completely natural reaction to the season. Without really thinking about it, whenever I bake or cook during the fall, I absentmindedly grab those quint essential fall flavorings. 

Like this dutch baby style pancake. Something so lovely only becomes more wonderful with autumnal apples, cinnamon, and deep flavored coconut sugar throughout. I'm in love with coconut sugar right now! It has a sort of molasses/brown sugar flavoring to me and is filled with so many natural health benefits! 

Like:
  1. It is low glycemic (slow absorption in our blood stream)
  2. Includes magnesium and nitrogen (which also regulates blood sugar levels and blood pressure)
  3. Has zinc (good for mental development)
  4. Potassium (hello, electrolytes which help with muscular strength, cramps and diabetes)
  5. Calcium (which builds strong bones, reduces high blood pressure and kidney stones) 
  6. Includes about 16 different amino acids!