Bacon Bombs, Bowling and More = A West Virginian Thanksgiving

And so it begins – the holiday season is officially here! Woohoo! I really do love this time of year – from the baking and holiday foods, to the festive lights decorating downtown to of course being able to spend time with my family – what’s not to like?

lights in the Arcade in Cleveland

lights in the Arcade in Cleveland

This weekend we celebrated Thanksgiving. And because we trade locations (NY with my family vs. here with B’s family) each year, this year we were spending the holiday with B’s family. And this year, B’s family had rented a cabin in Wheeling, West Virginia at Oglebay Resort. We would be in a cabin for three nights with about 20 members of B’s family and extended family – which meant lots of good meals, drinks, games, and we even fit in some even some runs and walks! Some highlights:

The cabin:

Here’s where we stayed- it was really nice and a short walk from the main lodge which meant just a short walk from the pool and fitness center! (yes, I got in a 6 mile treadmill run one day while the kiddos were splashing in the pool).

Our home for 3 nights

Our home for 3 nights

The food:

We arrived Wednesday night at the cabin to a dinner of what B’s family was calling bacon bombs. Bacon/meat-lovers rejoice – have I got the meal for you – imagine a giant meatloaf wrapped in bacon? That’s what this is:

bacon bombs!

bacon bombs!

And what would Thanksgiving be without all of the other glorious food?

dinner collage

Some of the fun:

Before getting on the road, we decided to do some pre-vacation pampering! I went with my niece and two of my sisters-in-law and we got our nails done.

manis

I brought supplies with me to make some candy turkeys I’d found on Pinterest – and they were a hit! The kids loved making them and trying to steal all the candy/cookies/frosting/etc. they could get their hands on.

turkeys

We went sleigh riding down what a local called “Suicide Hill.” I mostly watched and ran up and down the hill to keep warm, but couldn’t help but take photos and video of the fun. My favorite? Sending Oliver down the hill in a laundry basket that we had in the car.

Keeping the Thanksgiving morning tradition of running alive, we found a 5k in Wheeling and ran it – with a few of the other family members! It was tons of fun. I ran the whole race with B’s cousin who’s the girl in the front in the blue hat in the pic below – she’s fast and came in 4th in her age group (14 and under).

B and me post-race. B rocked and PRd with a 5k in 23 something minutes

B and me post-race. B rocked and PRd with a 5k in 23 something minutes

The whole gang who ran!

The whole gang who ran!

And of course just all around shenanigans and playing with my niece and nephew and cousins-in-law.

He's a pretty good reader for a preschooler huh?

He’s a pretty good reader for a preschooler huh?

Teaching her some of my favorite old hand-games.

Teaching her some of my favorite old hand-games.

Pirates are completely normal on Thanksgiving, right? Didn't they come over with the pilgrims?

Pirates are completely normal on Thanksgiving, right? Didn’t they come over with the pilgrims?

And Thanksgiving with B’s family wouldn’t be complete without BOWLING. That’s right, the Saturday after Thanksgiving, his dad’s side gets together for a bowling competition (the side of the family who gets together for softball competition each year). No, I didn’t win (for some reason scoring a 76 didn’t even get me into the finals!) – but there’s always next year, right? I’ll be seeking bowling coaches – you know where to find me! (kidding)

Cousins-in-law!

Cousins-in-law!

bowling!

bowling!

And that was it! From traveling to West Virginia and then to way out northeastern Ohio for bowling, I’m somewhat feeling I need a vacation from my vacation!

Some questions for you:

How was your Thanksgiving? Do you travel for the holiday?

What did you make for the holiday? B and I were in charge of desserts! We also were to make a vegetable – so we made roasted squash and Brussels sprouts!

Did you try any new foods? Yes! Shoofly pie, that B and I made, as well as a slice of a bacon bomb. 

Do you have any fun family traditions during the holidays? Bowling with B’s family the Sat. after Thanksgiving has become a great tradition!

Did you do any Thanksgiving day races / Turkey Trots?

What are you most looking forward to about the coming month or so of the holiday season? Love Actually, Christmas music and seeing my family again!

I leave you with this pic of B and me chopping veggies:

20131128_145146

A Midnight Baseball Game, A Bowling Birthday Bash and a Babysitting Adventure

If you want to know what B and I did this weekend, the title really says it all … we went to an Indians Game (which pretty much started after midnight!), went to a Bowling Birthday Party and borrowed our niece and nephew for a downtown sleepover/babysitting adventure. And we (and the kiddos) survived!

Midnight Ball Game

Friday night, B and I had plans to go to the Indians game with B’s sisters, B’s brother and a few of B’s sister’s friends (you follow?). B’s sister Katie’s boyfriend (or boy friend) was in town and the plan was to show him a night out in Cleveland. The plans were to meet for happy hour before the game, and then head to Progressive Field for some $1 hot dogs and cheap seats.

The plans didn’t quite work out … the weather turned Friday afternoon from sunny and 80s to chilly and torrential downpours – which caused a rain delay. And then another rain delay. And then another rain delay! We made it over to the game for the new 9 p.m. start time, and ended up watching two innings before another rain delay – this time for about two more hours! Determined not to waste our evening, we feasted on $1 — er, now 50 cent — hot dogs, pop corn, beer, and waited. At about 11 p.m. we decided to leave. JUST as we left the stadium, they lifted up the tarp – they were going to play again! We decided to wait the next hour at a bar while they dried up the field. B’s brother headed home, and I was getting tired, so I confess – I didn’t make the end of the game. B and his sister and her boyfriend were troopers – they stayed until nearly 3 a.m. when the game was over!

50 cent hot dogs? I’ll have 6!

Waited it out. For a long time. The game ended at nearly 3 a.m.! (I’m sure the people behind us in the photo are leaving. )

AH! Oh no. Not the tarp again!

AH! Oh no. Not the tarp again!

Bowling Birthday Bash

Caring Cubs, an organization that I’m involved in thanks to Bridge Builders (and posted about before, here) was hosting their 5th Birthday celebration this weekend. Part of my Bridge Builders project was actually to help them come up with something that would help them fund-raise (they mostly rely on community donations and occasional grants!)  - and the options were endless! We eventually came up with an event with a silent auction – and Saturday’s Bowling Birthday Bash was born. Even though I was volunteering at the event, B also attended and we brought our niece and nephew to the festivities. Why not? It included bowling, bumpers for the kids, pizza, birthday cake, crafts, facepaint AND even an appearance by a Care Bear! It was definitely fun  - and I’m proud that my efforts are contributing to the sustainability of this organization.

My helper at the check-in table!

My helper at the check-in table!

A real Care Bear! (Side note – I had to show them who the Care Bears were on my phone before the event)

Hanging out at the Bowling Birthday Bash!

Hanging out at the Bowling Birthday Bash!

What's a birthday party without cake?

What’s a birthday party without cake?

24 Hours in Babysitting

After the Bowling Bash, B and I had plans to have his niece and nephew sleep over. Their parents were out of town, and (admittedly, after a few Memorial Day glasses of wine) we volunteered to babysit them from Saturday through Sunday. I was a little nervous leading up to the weekend – I hadn’t officially babysat in years (in college I used to babysit an infant and eventually toddler pretty much once a week, and summers I would babysit two elementary school girls 2-3 full days during the summer — but that was years ago!) and B’s nephew can be a handful sometimes. It was actually a lot of fun and I have to give B credit – it seemed like he did most of the work, and I had most of the fun! From painting nails, to baking cookies, to walking to the lake and taking the trolley (the kids were super impressed with the “big trains,” “big buildings,” and pretty much everything about downtown), to running on the treadmill and B watching the kids (they did like watching me for a little!), to watching The Muppet Movie  to hanging out in the homemade fort – it was really a fun weekend! No temper tantrums, no bruises and we all (yes, all four of us) survived.

This photo is completely normal.

This photo is completely normal.

Some of the awesome ways we spent our night -  face paint, trolley rides, baking cookies, Muppet movies and fort making!

Some of the awesome ways we spent our night – face paint, trolley rides, baking cookies, Muppet movies and fort making!

Watching the boats on the lake

Watching the boats on the lake

They loved the trolley!

They loved the trolley!

Will we be watching them again anytime soon? I asked B – he said “that depends on what they report back to their parents.”  Hmm … not sure if that’s a yes, but it’s definitely not a no!

How was your weekend? Some questions to ponder:

  • Did you used to babysit? Did you ever take the Red Cross Babysitting Course? Yes I did! I took it in 5th grade and babysat through college. I’m a little rusty, though…
  • What’s your favorite kind of birthday cake? I love ice cream cake! Vanilla heath bar crunch ice cream please. OR I’ll settle for a cassata cake :)
  • What’s the latest you’ve ever watched a baseball game?
  • How many hot dogs do you chow down on during $1 dog night? Have you ever seen 50 cent dog night?
  • What’s your favorite baseball game snack? It used to be the pretzels with mustard – but now that I found the tri-colored popcorn stands (cheddar, caramel and regular) I may have a new treat!

Another Wonderful Weekend in the CLE

We had another wonderfully sunny, warm and beautiful weekend in Cleveland! Since I was out of town last weekend, I was excited for a few days of sleeping, a long run or two, and overall a relaxing weekend.

Friday night, B and I got a few invites to watch the Indian’s game or go out with friends, but we already had plans – a First Communion celebration. B’s cousin was receiving her First Communion and we were invited to the Mass and a dinner celebration after. It was great to see B’s family and we enjoyed some great food – including some homemade smoked salmon. I wish I had taken a photo – it was SO good! We got home somewhat late and since we had planned on a day full of errands and partying, for Saturday, we decided to stay in and watch up on our DVR and bake. I had my own mini Nutella bakefest – and made some awesome Peanut Butter, Nutella, Chocolate Pretzel Bars, along with some Nutella Heath Bar Rice Krispie Treats (recipe coming soon), while sipping wine. Definitely not a bad way to spend a Friday night in my opinion :)

a sneak peek at my baking - nutella rice krispie treats!

a sneak peek at my baking – Nutella rice krispie treats!

Saturday morning, we woke up early to cross a few items on our to-do list – mine included running, going to the West Side Market, laundry, finishing baking and going to Kentucky Derby Party. And somehow, I got it all done!  I got in 7 miles – the first 3 by myself, and the last 4 with B. Running with B is so much better than running alone!

running by the lake this week

running by the lake this week

After our run, B and I headed to the West Side Market for some groceries and samples. I LOVE the popcorn stand there and cannot make a trip there without trying my favorite flavor, Dichotomy (a mix between caramel and cheddar) and one new one, this time the spicy jalapeno popcorn. While we  were there, I checked my phone and saw that Market Garden Brewery was offering a Kentucky Derby special – buy a mint julep and get a special official Kentucky Derby glass!

market derby

So of course we had to make a stop and try out their juleps. For the free glasses of course. And a soft pretzel.

Mint julep at Market Garden Brewery

Mint julep on the patio at Market Garden Brewery

After stopping by the Market and enjoying some afternoon drinks, I finished my baking and did some laundry, and we got ready for the Kentucky Derby Party. Each year, B’s brother and sister-in-law host a Derby Party. There is plenty of food, lots of drinks, and even a little gambling. As always, it was a fun event – and this year, I even won! I somehow guessed the 1st place winner, and even put money on #3 to come in 3rd place.

B's niece in my hat

B’s niece in my hat

ladies with hats

ladies with hats

winning ticket!

winning ticket!

After having a few mint juleps and  Black-eyed Susans (the official drink of the Preakness), I had planned on sleeping in on Sunday.  But when B got ready to go to his Sunday morning softball games, I decided to join him and even go for a run while the team was playing. The first few miles were tough – my feet were a little tired after a week of running, but after I got warmed up, it was great. The area where B plays softball is a mixture of suburbs and parks, so it’s definitely not boring. I turned on some tunes and even turned on my MapMyRun app  for motivation. And don’t worry, I took Monday off from running so my legs got some time to relax.

The rest of the afternoon was pretty relaxing – starting a new book, catching up on emails, preparing some meals for the week, and more catching up on the DVR. Slightly boring? Maybe. A pretty perfect day? In my mind, yes.

Some questions to ponder:

  • Do you make to-do lists on your weekends? 
  • Do you enjoy the occasional low-key (“boring”) weekend? Yes! Sometimes a perfect weekend for me is spending time just baking and running.
  • How did you celebrate the Kentucky Derby? Did you win any money?
  • What’s on your DVR? We have Mad Men, Happy Endings, The Mindy Project, Glee, The Voice and New Girl.
  • What’s the last thing you baked?

Half Marathon Weekend Recap – The Holy Half

B and I ran a half marathon this weekend in South Bend, Indiana. You may recall that one of my goals for this year was to run at least 2 half marathons (to partially make up for my injury while training for a full marathon last year). I was thinking of training for Cleveland, but since we’ll be at B’s sister’s graduation from Notre Dame that weekend, we started looking for other races. So when B’s sister mentioned she’d be running the Holy Half at Notre Dame, it only seemed appropriate that we run that!

holy half marathon

How did it go? The race itself went well except B wasn’t feeling good most of the time. He was feeling a little sick the first half, and then was in much more pain the second half of the race – stomach, legs, etc. I kept with him the whole time and we finished, but definitely weren’t running for time. Maybe that’s why I felt so good after the race and could have run at least a mile or few more.

B's Aunt Marie took this action shot!

B’s Aunt Marie took this action shot!

What did we like about the race?

  • The running crowd – I really enjoyed the group of people that were running. It was mostly Notre Dame students so it was a lot of young people – but quite a few non-ND students were mixed in as well (including a BC grad like myself). It didn’t hurt that B, his two sisters and one of his brothers were all running the half or the 10k!
  • The cheering – The students were all over campus cheering the runners on. It was fun to see the students with signs and cheering everyone on – even those who clearly weren’t part of their campus.
  • The water/Gu stops – There seemed to be plenty of water stops to keep us hydrated and even 3-4 stops that also included Gu Chomps.
  • The run through campus – The running route was about two laps of a 10k course. Parts of it were through campus, which was fun to see! I’m slightly biased with my idea of what a beautiful campus looks like (Sorry, but BC was GORGEOUS!) but it was nice to see another pretty college.
  • The start time – Starting at 9 a.m.? LOVED not having to get up at the break of dawn to get to the race!
  • The post-race food – Free Jimmy John’s subs (veggie for me), Dunkin Donuts bagels, Peeps, fruit and more. The supply was endless!

What didn’t we like about the race?

  • The weather – I guess you can’t really blame this on the race but it was COLD! I couldn’t feel my fingers at the end, at all, which wasn’t fun. I was wearing normal winter running gear, but for some reason couldn’t get my hands warm. This could have to do with the fact that I’m incapable of drinking water during runs and spilled the ice cold water cups a few times. Whoops!
  • The overall course –  While I did love running through campus and liked the loop, I didn’t like miles 2-4 of the loop, which were almost like a trail run. They were around a lake or pond on campus and the path was very narrow – some parts you were barely able to pass anyone, which is not good for the start of a race – and the ground was rock solid and uneven. It had clearly been muddy at some point, and then re-frozen and it hurt my knees more than the normal concrete. B also didn’t like the last few miles of the loop because it was mostly running around parking lots, etc.
  • No medal – We didn’t get a medal. Not that I do anything with the medals I get (do you?) but we didn’t get anything for finishing. Our race bags had t-shirts and some odd assortment of goodies (jewelry cleaner?) but there was no medal or anything at the finish line.
Post-race relaxing at Notre Dame .. and a photo-bomb by Pete!

Post-race relaxing at  Legends on Notre Dame .. and a photo-bomb by Pete!

After the race, we met up with B’s aunt, uncle and cousin, who had been cheering everyone on and grabbed a few drinks on campus before heading back to take a nap. Post-nap we were starving! We enjoyed some pretty good pizza (surprisingly good for what I was expecting out of a small pizza joint in Indiana) and then headed to a local bar for some dancing, fuzzy navel shots and some seriously amazing games of beer pong (B was undefeated!). Definitely not a bad way to spend a half-marathon weekend! 

Some thoughts to ponder:

  • Have you ever signed up for a half marathon less than two weeks before the race? How did it go?
  • Do you like to run with a friend/significant other when racing? Do you leave them behind or stick with them through the end?
  • Have you ever run a race through a college campus?
  • What’s your favorite post-race indulgence?
  • What’s your favorite college campus?

Weekend Recap: St. Patrick’s Day Edition

St. Patrick’s Day 2012 has come and gone and it was a success! What do I mean by a success?

  1. The weather was awesome. Sunny and 70s in March? Short sleeves and a skirt? Success.
  2. Downtown was crazy and I mean crazy. Reports said that there were 500,000 people downtown for the parade and other festivities, which is more than even LIVE in Cleveland proper!
  3. Some bad decisions were made – but all to be expected and we all survived.

See? A success!

Saturday morning B and I hit the streets and got started early – no, not with what everyone else was doing, but with running. B, Mary and I went for our 10 miler around 9 a.m., knowing that we were expecting B’s family and some of our friends over for beer and cupcakes (yes, beer and cupcakes) before the parade. We finished our run around 11 a.m. and I already had 5 text messages and 6 missed calls. B’s family had gotten in from Columbus early! Yipes. We rushed back to the apartment and were greeted by B’s Aunt Marie (aforementioned in the Atlantic City weekend post), Uncle Dan and cousin Pete, along with his mom, who had dropped off his brother at the parade (it was his last year marching with Ignatius’ band). Downtown was already a mad house – as we approached our apartment we could see that East 4th was completely full of people and Cadillac Ranch had people smooshed all the way up to the fence. Thank goodness we had our own apartment, and deck, to hang out on!

Ali stopped by too!

Pre-parade, the cupcakes (St. Patrick’s Day themed – Murphy’s Chocolate Cupcakes with Dark Chocolate Ganache & Bailey’s Buttercream Frosting) and beverages were a success! B’s niece and nephew even couldn’t get enough of the cakes.

Yum, cupcakes!

We went out to watch the parade around 2, knowing that B’s brother would be crossing our paths soon. Getting to the parade reminded me of an episode of Walking Dead – except with drunk people. It was insane just trying to get to the area where we could even see the parade.

 After the parade was over, we went back to our apartment to meet up with some more people for some more cupcakes and beer, and then headed down to the Flat Iron where we feasted on corned beef and experienced some live Irish music and more Irish beers. We hung out for a little while and then walked back home. Yup, walked home. I love warm days and living downtown!

Tower City, lit up green, on our walk home

Sunday we probably did what most other Clevelanders did – pretty much nothing. After going out for breakfast and Mass, we hit up the store for some groceries (without beer and cupcakes, our fridge was suddenly very empty!) and then sat ourselves down in front of the TV to catch up on 3 weeks of DVR watching. Lazy? Yes. But there’s something so rewarding about hitting delete after watching your shows and seeing the DVR go from 73% to barely 20%. A great end to a great weekend.

Weekend Recap: PETEFEST 2012

Friday at 3 p.m., I shut down my laptop and put my phone on the Out of Office Mode. I had changed my Out of Office email to read, “I’m in Atlantic City for Petefest 2012 (don’t ask). I’ll be back, and checking email, on Monday, March 12″ and my weekend was ready to begin!

This weekend, B and I traveled to Atlantic City in honor of Petefest 2012, the celebration of B’s cousin’s 21st birthday. Though I’d been to Jersey many times before (being from NY and Staten Island, I obviously have family that lives there), including the Jersey Shore (Seaside Heights, what what!), the only impression I had of AC was from Sex and the City. Who doesn’t remember that episode where it’s Charlotte’s birthday and they go to Atlantic with Richard right after Miranda has had a baby? I digress.

We hit the road around 4 p.m., picked up B’s sister, and headed on the 9 hour drive to New Jersey. We pulled into Atlantic City right around midnight, passing by the skyline – larger than I had expected. We arrived at the beach house about 10 min away from AC that B’s Aunt Marie had rented, and caught up with half the group (the other group was out gambling), including the birthday boy, who had returned from a day of celebration.  We stayed up to celebrate a little, but then decided against hitting the casino and instead headed to bed, as we had a 13.1 training mi scheduled for the next morning.

The next day we woke up early, ran our half marathon training run (more on that here), and then joined the rest of the group for a day of celebration.

half marathons make me sleepy!

After a quick nap (13 miles tires me out!) I put on my Petefest Shirt and joined the others in some games, including the longest game of Kings EVER and a heated game of Bunco (not to brag but my team may have won).

Aunt Marie prepared a pretty awesome meal of cavatelli and meatballs, and then we all got ready to head out for the night. Aunt Marie’s friend Bev did my hair – Jersey style of course!

We headed to the Legends Concert – the birthday boy’s request – and saw a rocking show of Tina Turner, Elvis, Ray Charles, the Blues Brothers and Liza Minelli. We then headed to the casinos to gamble and party some more.

The group with the Blues Brothers

What a fun night! When the birthday boy got tired, B and I headed back with him, knowing we’d be getting up at 7 (really 6 a.m. with the time change) to drive 9 hours back to Cleveland for B’s mom’s birthday dinner. But not without a stop in Philly to meet some college friends for brunch! Mitch (who had visited us a few weeks ago) had suggested the famous Philly brunch spot Sabrina’s, but after finding out there was a 1.5 hr wait (which would make us late for dinner), we headed to Hawthorne’s and enjoyed a delicious brunch! My eggs benedict with smoked salmon were AWESOME. We chatted it up with our friends, then headed back to Cleveland, and made it to dinner at 6! We were home by 10 p.m. and crashed from great weekend of 18+ hours in the car, 13.1 miles of running, fun, family and big hair.

Weekend Recap: BC v. ND Weekend

As a proud Boston College alumna, I’d be in trouble if I didn’t post about my recent weekend in South Bend to witness another year and another episode of the Holy War. We (BC) were supposed to lose by 20+ points (sadly, we’re less than stellar this season) but the game was closer than it should have been – the final score was 16 – 14, with BC only losing by 2! Again, it was still a loss, but it was a fun day, fun game, and great weekend.

The weekend started off at 6:15 a.m. on Saturday when B and I were picked by his dad in a 12-person van, and it was already full with his parents, 2 of his brothers, 1 of his sisters, B’s coworker and our dentist and his wife (yes, you read that right – they’re family friends so we spend the 4ish hour carride, tailgate, and night/next morning with our dentist).

We arrived at ND and met up B’s aunt, 3 uncles, 2 aunts and 7 cousins. Yes, our tailgate was HUGE, family filled, and got even bigger when 4 of my friends from BC stopped by.

B* and me

There was tons of food, including my own first attempt at cake balls – shaped like footballs of course:

We stayed at a hotel after the game and then headed back to the CLE the next day.

Does your school have any big rivalries? What’s your favorite alumni sporting event?

*B does not usually look like such a creepster. He’s just doing Movember and raising money for man-cancers. If you’d donate to him, I’d appreciate it so he actually does shave it off come 8 days from now (and yes, I’m counting down).

Food Friday- Pretzel Rolls for Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving! Hope you all got to enjoy some stuffing, turkey and tons of pies and other greatness. This year, B and I got tasked with bringing rolls to Thanksgiving. Again! As you’ll remember, the last time we spent Thanksgiving with his family we were told to bring bread …. We made beer rolls, from bisquick, cheese and beer. My, how far we’ve come.

This year, we made pretzel and herb rolls – from scratch! (Yes, that means no bisquick) They came out AWESOME, especially the pretzel rolls – which is why I’m going to share the recipe with you! I used a combination of Alton Brown’s recipe, this recipe and this one to create a very easy pretzel roll recipe. There are just five things you need to do: make the dough, shape the rolls, poach the dough, glaze them and bake ‘em!

To make the dough:

  • 1 ½ cups warm water (not too hot, but warm to the touch)
  • 1 Tablespoon active dry yeast (1 package) – not quick rise
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 4 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For the poaching & glazing:

  • 1/4 cup baking soda
  • large saucepan of water
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten with a drop of water
  • pretzel salt  or kosher salt

First, make the dough!

Mix water and yeast in a bowl with a whisk. Let stand a few minutes until it foams up.

Add sugar, flour, melted butter and salt to water and yeast mixture. Combine until well-mixed. I used a whisk and mixing spoon to combine everything together – but if are lucky enough to have a standing mixer with a dough hook, it will take you half the time and a lot less man power!

Put the dough in a bowl that has about a tbs of olive oil spread out over the bottom – just enough to keep it from sticking. Cover the dough in a bowl with a clean towel for one hour while it rises. You’ll want to put it in a warm place (aka not the fridge) to help  it rise – I put mine in the oven (NOT turned on!)

After an hour or it’s risen to about double the size, punch it down to remove excess air.

Then, shape the dough into rolls.

Stretch the dough out into a large baguette-like shape. Cut the dough into 18-20 pieces, about 2 inches thick. Feel free to go larger if you want to use the rolls for sandwiches or anything more substantial – but remember you’ll have to poach them so make sure they’ll fit in your pan.

Shape the pieces of dough into small smooth balls. To do so, pinch the corners (from when you cut them) and pull them together in the center of the bread. Feel free to roll the bread between your hands to make a tight, smooth ball. I made them into smooth ovals.

Space evenly on the prepared sheet pans, pinched seam side down, leaving at least 1” between each roll.

Then poach the rolls.

In a large saucepan, bring 2 quarts of water to a low boil.

Add the baking soda and lower heat to a simmer.

Carefully slip the rolls into the boiling baking soda and water. Keep them in there for about a minute, making sure both sides are evenly poached. After a minute, remove rolls onto prepared sheet pans (I put parchment paper on mine but you can use a sheet with cooking spray or greased foil), pinched side down.  You’ll probably have to do this process a few times, depending on how many rolls you’re making and how big a saucepan you have.

Glaze and mark the rolls.

With a sharp straight edged knife, cut a slash on the top of each roll.

Lightly beat one egg and add a few drops of water. Use a brush to coat each roll with the lightly beaten egg.

Top each roll with a sprinkle of pretzel salt or kosher salt. I used kosher salt.

Bake the rolls.

Bake the rolls for 15-20 minutes at 400 degrees. When they’re dark brown and shiny- they’re done! Cool completely and enjoy : )

Did you try a new recipe this Thanksgiving? Was it an instant hit? Do share!

Just because it’s beary cute

Friday was my birthday. I know, I know, happy birthday to me. And I’ m getting old. But that’s beside the point.

This post is about the cutest cake ever. Do you like baking? Do you have cute little kids to bake for? Or 20-somethings who like cool looking cakes? I’m recommending you buy the Build-A-Bear cake pan, either from William Sonoma (per the link) or anywhere else you may find it. B’s mom bought the cake pan for her granddaughter’s first birthday (next month) but needed to test it out first!

The result? An awesome bear cake (complete wearing a red dress, pearls and carrying a brief case, a la me) for my birthday!!

bearcake

And yes, that is a cake. It was yummy.

Thanksgiving

dinnerrollsandsoda A coworker sent around a bunch of Thanksgiving cartoons today, and of course this was one of them. The reason it’s particularly humorous: this Thanksgiving I got tasked with bringing “dinner rolls and beer.” That’s right – the two things that you tell people to bring who usually mess things up, are what I got tasked with.

Let me back up a little. I usually spend Thanksgiving back east with my family in Connecticut. Because B and I never spend any holidays together (because I mainly use my holidays and subsequent days off of work to travel home), I decided to stay in the Cleve for Turkey Day this year. At B’s family’s Thanksgiving, everyone is in charge with bringing some part of the dinner, and B’s mom suggested we bring “rolls and beer.”

Don’t get me wrong, I love not having to be in charge of bringing anything, especially anything that could go wrong on my first Thanksgiving with B’s family. That being said, I was wondering, how can I get creative with beer…and rolls?

That’s where, as usual, my twitter-peeps came in. I tweeted, “Just found out I was tasked with bringing “Beer and Rolls” to Thanksgiving. Any ideas on how to make it creative/fun?”

The responses were great:

twitterbeer1

So, I took some advice and decided to attempt to make beer rolls! I found a ton of great recipes, coincidentally, in my November issue of my Cooking Light for beer bread, but crunched for time (7pm the night before Thanksgiving) I decided to improvise. Here’s what I decided to do:


Quick and Easy Beer Rolls

2  1/4 c Bisquick (told you it was easy!)

2 tbs. sugar

1 tsp. Kosher salt

6 oz (half bottle) dark beer (I used Sam Adam’s Winter Ale)

  1. Preheat the oven to 425.
  2. Whisk together dry ingredients
  3. Slowly add beer. If you’ve had time to let the beer sit at room temperature and flatten, that will work better, but I just added it in right from the fridge.
  4. Mix together thoroughly until there are no clumps. Batter should be paste-like, thick and moist.
  5. Fill greased muffin tins about 2/3-3/4 full.
  6. Bake in 425 degrees oven for about 18 minutes. Start to check muffins at 15 minutes so that they are not overdone or dried out.

Variation:

I decided to shred some colby jack cheese and put it in the batter of some of the rolls. I also sprinkled some on top of other rolls. I found that the cheesier the batter, the more beer-like the rolls tasted.

And that was it!  Capeesh? Here’s the final product:

cheesybeerrolls1

I hope everyone likes it tomorrow! Happy Thanksgiving everyone!