Sunday, July 31, 2011

Homemade Peanut Butter and Cookies!

My husband and I have been really pondering lately how to save money as well as eat more healthy, especially having one child already and another child on the way.  We've been really interested in learning how to make foods, even staples, from scratch.  Not only does it usually save money, but it also makes us feel better as parents knowing that the foods we make have no preservatives in them.  One thing we've learned to make recently is homemade peanut butter.  Now, peanuts can be expensive, but we were able to find them on sale for $1.00 a pound, and the normal price were we can get bulk isn't much more than that.  One pound of peanuts will make a normal jar of peanut butter.  So, $1.00 for a jar of peanut butter -- and preservative-free -- that's a deal in my book!  And making it is super easy.  Really.  Honestly.  Super easy!  

Buy a pound of shelled peanuts -- either roasted or not.  We've made the peanut butter both ways -- with roasted and unroasted peanuts, and in our opinion, roasted peanuts make MUCH better peanut butter, and you don't have to add any oil this way.  My husband had already roasted them when I came home one day, so I don't have any pictures of that.  Simply, lay the raw shelled peanuts in a single layer on a cookie sheet and bake 15-20 minutes at 350 degrees.  Stir once or twice during cooking.  You want them to be brown, but not burnt.  

I had my 16 month old helping me during the process of making the peanut butter.  As you can see, he desperately wanted to eat some of the peanuts, so I had to be quick to keep his hands out!  I used a pound of peanuts, but did it in two batches, so each picture is half of the batch (the final picture is the whole batch).  You can see in the picture the peanuts after being roasted.  Put half the peanuts in a mixer.  Keep your child's hand out of the mixer please!  With the lid on, start the mixer and let it go!

This is my son watching the peanuts in the mixer and signing "eat"!  He couldn't wait to try it out!

Before it all starts clumping up together, add whatever you want.  I added a little salt and honey, but you can also add some syrup or cinnamon if you want.  As you can tell from the picture, the peanut butter will start to clump up but keep it going!

My child thought this was all fascinating!

As it continues to mix, it will start to break down the clump of peanuts and make this lovely paste.  The more you mix, the creamier it will be.

The final product!  Filled the whole jar!  My son LOVED it!  Kept signing "eat" and "more" :)  Just remember to keep it in the fridge.  See how easy it was!  And peanuts was the only ingredient...other than your add-ins, of course.

Now, I want to share with you my favorite peanut butter cookie recipe.  I hate making cookies because they never come out right, unless they are from a mix.  The butter is so hard for me to cook with -- never can "soften" the butter just right.  But this recipe is incredibly easy and you can use your homemade peanut butter in it!  You only need four ingredients:  1/2 cup of peanut butter, 1/2 cup of sugar, 1 egg, and whatever add-ins you want (I used cranberries in this batch, but you can use raisins or chocolate chips, or nothing!).

Just combine and mix!

In preheated oven at 350 degrees, just drop the cookies on an ungreased cookie sheet and cook for about 11-14 minutes, depending on their size.  You can make about 12 small cookies or 9 larger cookies.  I made these cookies a little too big, but they were still wonderful!

I asked my husband what he thought about them, and he loved them.  He couldn't believe their wasn't any flour, butter, eggs, etc in these because they taste just like regular peanut butter cookies!

Hope you enjoy!

Friday, July 29, 2011

Curtains Tutorial

TGIF!!!  :)  (I miss those shows...)

Last Saturday, I guest posted on Not JUST a Housewife, and so here is the posting from there.  :)

Before M was born, I decided to make some girly curtains for the nursery to add some pink to the neutral Winnie-the-Pooh theme we have going on.  I started on them a year and a half ago, finally finished them about month before she was born, got to see them hang in her nursery in their beautiful glory for two months, then we moved to a new house.... where she now has two small windows instead of one big one, so they didn't fit.  This equals a sad Jennifer.  I was determined to fix them though.  Allow me to show you the progression..

We went from this (at the old house)...

To this (at the new house)...

I had to do some brainstorming, and with the help from a sweet lady at our church, we came up with a plan.  I ended up splitting each curtain into two pieces, and then making a valence because the curtains weren't tall enough to cover the window on their own.  I also had to purchase some more coordinating fabric to add a couple of more panels (two for each window), to go in between the pink curtains.  It made the curtains fuller, and made them look better than I ever even imagined!  I love them!

Want to make some cute curtains for your little one (or yourself)??  Let's get started!

I'm working with a window that is 52 x 35, so that is what I'm basing all of my measurements on.  Make sure you adjust according to your window size!  :)

You will need:

  • Four 55x22 inch pieces of fabric (Two in one color, and two in a coordinating fabric)
  • Two 20x5 inch pieces of fabric (for tie-backs)
  • Two 36x5 inch pieces of coordinating fabric (for tie-back ruffles)
  • Two 5x2 inch pieces of fabric (for tie-back ends)
  • Coordinating Thread
  • Sewing Machine
  • Scissors
  • Pins
  • Pencil
  • Measuring Tape
  • Lace to accent ruffles (optional)
  • Keep in mind that if you want ruffles on your curtain panels, you will need extra material.  You will also need extra material for the valence, which I'm not including in this tutorial.
1)  Once you have your material measured and cut, go ahead and hem the sides of the curtains.  I did a double folded hem, because I think it looks nicer.  :)

If you aren't adding a ruffle, then go ahead and hem the bottom.  If you're wanting to add a ruffle, then you can get an idea of how to do that when I show you how to make the tie-backs.

2)  Once all of the sides are hemmed, go to the top and just do a raw edge hem, because it will be hidden later.

Far from perfect, but you can't tell when they're hanging! :)
3)  Now fold it over 3 inches or so and pin it.  Stitch it close to the edge.

4)  Now, you need to stitch another line for the rod to go through.  You don't have to do this step, but it makes it look nicer.  I allowed about an inch and half for the rod, which works, but it's a very tight fit.  So, I would suggest going two inches or so from the original stitching line, depending on the size of the curtain rod you'll be using.

Then you're done with the simple panel!  :)

Now for the tie-backs...(I'm going to refer to each piece that I'm using by color, to avoid confusion)

5)  Take a 20x5 inch piece of pink material, and hem the short sides and the top (raw edge hem).

6)  Take a 36x5 inch piece of beige fabric for the ruffle section, and do a double folded hem on the short sides and bottom of the fabric.

7)  Next, do a long stitch across the top of the beige ruffle fabric, and then gather it to make it a ruffle.  You want to make sure it is gathered to match the length of your pink fabric, above.

8)  Now, lay the two pieces of fabric together, right sides facing each other, and pin the fabric together.

9)  Stitch across the top.  (Note:  If you want to place a ruffle on the actual curtain panel, just leave the bottom un-hemmed, and follow steps 6-9 with the appropriate amount of fabric needed.)

10)  Fold the top of the pink material over the raw edge of the ruffle, and stitch.

You're almost done!  Now you just need to make the end of the tie-backs!

11)  Take a 5x2 inch piece of pink fabric, and fold the edges over, so they meet in the middle.  Then, fold the material in half, and pin.  Stitch.

12)  Take your ends, and fold them in half so they form a hoop.  Place the ends into the opening of the tie-backs, and then stitch.

All done!!  :)

If y'all have any questions, I'll do my best to answer them!  Have a fabulous weekend!!  :)

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Garlic Bread

What is the best part about going to an Italian restaurant?  The bread, of course!  Well, if it's free.  ;)

When I cook spaghetti or lasagna, I like to make bread to go along with it.  Sometimes it's just a regular slice of bread that I butter, sprinkle with garlic powder, and pop into the toaster oven.  Sometimes it's a little more complicated, but then, I saw this awesome recipe.

Trust me, the picture doesn't do it justice.
It's called Garlic Parmesan Pull-Apart Bread and I found it on The Pastry Affair blog.  It looked delicious, so I decided to try it out.

I was a little hesitant to try it out, because it looked like it would be a very long process, but it really wasn't difficult at all.  Especially with a bread machine.  ;)

Once again, I will not post the recipe here, because it isn't mine to post.  Go check out her blog for the recipe.

I'll tell the slight modifications I made, though.  I don't have a bundt pan, so I had to use a small pan and made two stacked rows.  Instead of parmesan cheese in between the layers, I just added some cheddar cheese.  I also added cheddar to the top, along with a little parmesan.  This makes a TON of bread.  It's a little misleading to look at the picture above, because we ate off of it for a few days, and still didn't finish it.

If you already have supper plans for tonight, and they don't include this bread, then you should alter your plans.  You will have a happy tummy.  :)

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Baby Curtains! :)

Hey y'all!  I'm guest posting over at Not JUST a Housewife today.  SO excited about this!  So hop on over and check out a tutorial on how I made curtains for M's nursery!  :)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Cinnamon Rolls

Don't you love to wake up on a Saturday morning and have a special breakfast?

You know, instead of grabbing your cereal, you go to the fridge, and take out a can of store brand cinnamon rolls.  You check the expiration date, peel off the paper, and it doesn't pop.  So then, you proceed to hit the can on the side of the counter until it pops open, scaring you half to death.

No?  This is just me?

In all seriousness, I used to love cinnamon rolls in a can, and I still like them occassionally.  However, I found a recipe for homemade cinnamon rolls on a few years ago, and they are seriously the best cinnamon rolls I have ever tasted.  Granted, this isn't saying a lot, but I think you'll love them too!  :)

Soft, Moist and Gooey Cinnamon Rolls
Check out the above link for reviews on

  • Step One - Dough:

  • 1/2 (3.5 ounce) package instant vanilla pudding mix
  • 4 cups bread flour
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons bread machine yeast
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 4 tablespoons melted butter
  • 4 tablespoons water

Step Two - Filling:

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
  • 1/4 cup raisins (optional)

  • Step Three - Icing:

  • 1 teaspoon milk
  • 1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 4 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


In a bread machine pan, place the milk, beaten egg, melted butter, water, vanilla pudding mix, bread flour, sugar, salt and yeast in the order recommended by the manufacturer. Select the Dough cycle.
When cycle is finished, remove the dough, and knead for 3 to 5 minutes. Roll out to a large rectangle.

Mix together the softened butter, brown sugar and cinnamon.  Don't do this ahead of time, and make sure that it isn't too soft.  Otherwise, when you spread it on the dough and roll it up, all of the filling will squeeze out.  I've learned this the hard way...twice.  ;) 

Spread over dough. Sprinkle with chopped walnuts and raisins, if desired. 

Starting with the widest end, roll the dough into a log. Pinch to seal seams. 

Cut into 1/2 inch to 1 inch slices, and place in a greased 9x13 inch pan. 

Place in a draft-free space, and allow to rise until doubled.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Bake for 15 to 20 minutes. 

To make frosting, mix the milk, confectioners sugar, softened butter and vanilla in a small bowl. Spread over warm cinnamon rolls.  If you're like me, you might be concerned when you see how thick the icing is when you mix it together.  If you put it on the rolls right after they come out of the oven, it will melt the icing quite nicely!  :)

The pictures don't do them justice.  They're not as easy as opening a can, but super tasty!  :)

Check out the links to see where I party! :)

Monday, July 18, 2011


Happy Monday!  Although, I'm not sure that many people view Mondays as 'happy'.  ;)

I don't really have much to say, but I didn't want to go any longer without writing something on my blog.  ;)  You know... since there are so many people that would notice.  Ha!  ;)

I haven't done anything exciting enough to write about the past week.  I started a post about a garlic bread recipe, but I haven't finished it yet, so perhaps I'll finish that later.  ;)  Today I've been working on cleaning up the mess left behind by a cute little toddler.  It's like a tiny tornado went through every room of the house.  It's truly amazing how such a small person can make such a huge mess.  I think this is partly because she's a toddler, and maybe because I have a 'messy' gene that she may have inherited.  Let's hope it's not the latter!  ;)

Anyway, tomorrow I'm making some super awesome Cinnamon Rolls, and no, they're not the ones from the can.  Those canned ones will never taste good to you again after you've had these!  I'll try to get the recipe up in the next couple of days.

Also, on Saturday I'm guest posting at an awesome blog that I just love!!  I'm super excited about it, so I'll put up a link to that on Saturday.

If y'all are getting rain today, try to send it down South.  We sure do need it!  ;)

Friday, July 8, 2011

Pizza Night! :)

I think I've mentioned before that I love pizza more than the average person.  If it wouldn't make me gain weight and was healthier, I could eat it every day.  I really wish it was a vegetable.  Not that it had vegetables, but that the pizza itself, was considered a vegetable.  ;)

Alas, that's not the case.

Tonight, though, was pizza night.  :)  Since we were dating, my hubby and I have made homemade pizzas.  I've tried many different recipes from using a ready-made crust, to a canned crust, french bread, and making it from scratch.  They're all good, but I've desperately wanted the perfect pizza.

I can't honestly say that I've reached that goal, but the one I make now is pretty good, if I may say so myself.  ;)

I found the crust recipe on, which is my 'go-to' website for recipes the majority of the time.

  • 1 package of active dry yeast (I believe this equals 2 1/4 teaspoons, but you want want to double check that!)
  • 1 teaspoon white sugar
  • 1 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 2 1/2 cups bread flour (It's a little better with bread flour, but regular flour tastes fine too.)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C). In a medium bowl, dissolve yeast and sugar in warm water. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.
  2. Stir in flour, salt and oil. Beat until smooth. Let rest for 5 minutes.
  3. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and pat or roll into a round. Transfer crust to a lightly greased pizza pan or baker's peel dusted with cornmeal. Spread with desired toppings and bake in preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Let baked pizza cool for 5 minutes before serving.
What I love about this recipe is that it's super easy and fast.  You don't have to wait an hour for the dough to rise, but it still has a really good texture.  The only problem I have with it is that it's a little bland, but I sometimes spice it up a little bit.  :)

This time, I added a little Italian Seasoning right to the crust mixture. 

Instead of using a rolling pin, I just pat it into a circle on the pan.  (Who wants another dirty dish to clean?)  ;) Then, I made a mixture of melted butter, garlic powder, and italian seasoning to brush over the entire crust before putting on the toppings.  (You might want to bake it a little bit before adding toppings if you prefer a 
crispier crust.)

I have found that a good and cheap brand of pizza sauce is good ol' Ragu Homemade Style.  It's not really spicy, but I think it tastes pretty good, and it only costs a little over a dollar.  :)  I also like the Boboli sauce as well, but that has a stronger taste than I prefer sometimes.  

I used a "Pizza Blend" for the cheese this time, but a lot of times I just use mozzarella with a little bit of cheddar, or whatever we have in the fridge, to give it a little extra flavor.  

M had some pizza as well, but of course, preferred ours over her own, although it was pretty much the same thing!  Stinker.  ;)
To make it prettier, and give it a little extra "oomph" (?) I sprinkled a little bit more of Italian Seasoning and Parmesan around the edge of the crust.

It turned out pretty tasty.  Again, I'm still not completely satisfied with it, so if I come across something better, I'll let y'all know.  But, for now at least, this is the best (easiest) recipe I've found. 

Anybody else have some good pizza tips??  If you do, then please share!  :)

Check the links tab to see where I party! :)