Sunday, January 31

Snowy Sweets

Once I heard there was a chance for snow & ice this weekend, I immediately made “snow” plans for a weekend filled with lots of baking and cooking.  Ben offered to bake me a cake as lately I’m always buying slices of cake from the bakery on my grocery shopping trips.  I thought since we had the time and he has become quite the expert with grains and yeast to make home-made cinnamon rolls.IMG_4161As usual I searched for a recipe on and found the #1 Cinnamon Roll recipe with 5 stars and almost 4,000 reviews.  It’s named Clone of Cinnabon and it did not disappoint!  These are not for carb-fat-calorie conscious!  The recipe calls for a bread-machine, so Ben adapted the recipe to use regular yeast, knead the dough in the Kitchen-Aid and let it rise. 

Clone of A Cinnabon

  • 1 cup warm milk (110 degrees F)
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1/3 cup margarine, melted
  • 4 1/2 cups bread flour (or all-purpose)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 packet yeast


  • 1 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 2 1/2 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup butter, softened


  • 3 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp salt

Dissolve the yeast in the warm milk in a large bowl. Mix in the sugar, margarine, salt, and eggs. Add flour and mix well. Knead the dough into a large ball, using the dough hook, occasionally adding flour to prevent sticking. Put in a bowl, cover and let rise in a warm place about 1 hour, or until doubled in size.

After the dough has doubled in size turn it out onto a lightly floured surface, cover and let rest for 10 minutes. In a small bowl, combine brown sugar and cinnamon. IMG_4172Roll dough into a 16x21 inch rectangle. Spread dough with 1/3 cup butter and sprinkle evenly with sugar/cinnamon mixture. IMG_4180Roll up dough and cut into 12 rolls. IMG_4184Place rolls in a lightly greased 9x13 inch baking pan. Cover and let rise until nearly doubled, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). IMG_4186Bake rolls in preheated oven until golden brown, about 15 minutes. While rolls are baking, beat together cream cheese, 1/4 cup butter, confectioners' sugar, vanilla extract and salt. Spread frosting on warm rolls before serving. IMG_4190IMG_4192

Wednesday, January 27

More Mushrooms

I wouldn’t say I have a craving for mushrooms, but the two newest recipes I’ve made feature the meaty vegetable.  My little sister, Sara made Steak Tips with Peppered Mushroom Sauce  from the latest issue of Cooking Light and gave high marks.  It seemed like the perfect cold-weather comfort food. 

This recipe is a great weeknight dinner that is quick and easy, but still very homemade.  My only complaint was I wish it had more sauce to cover the noodles.  Maybe I made too many egg noodles, or we used up the sauce in the first go-round there was not much left for the leftovers.  The sauce was amazing and full of flavor!IMG_4149 Steak Tips with Peppered Mushroom Sauce (Cooking Light)

  • 2  cups  uncooked egg noodles
  • Cooking spray
  • 1  pound  top sirloin steak, cut into 3/4-inch pieces
  • 1  tablespoon  butter
  • 2  tablespoons  finely chopped shallots
  • 1  (8-ounce) package presliced baby bella mushrooms
  • 1  teaspoon  minced garlic
  • 1  tablespoon  low-sodium soy sauce
  • 3  tablespoons  all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2  cups  fat-free, less-sodium beef broth
  • 1/2  teaspoon  black pepper
  • 1/4  teaspoon  salt
  • 3  fresh thyme sprigs
  • 1  teaspoon  fresh thyme leaves (optional)

Cook noodles according to package directions, omitting salt and fat; drain.

While noodles cook, heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add steak; sauté 5 minutes, browning on all sides. Remove from pan; cover.

Melt butter in pan over medium-high heat. Add shallots and mushrooms; sauté 4 minutes. Add garlic; sauté 30 seconds. Stir in soy sauce. Sprinkle flour over mushroom mixture; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Gradually add broth, stirring constantly. Add pepper, salt, and thyme sprigs. Bring to a boil; cook 2 minutes or until thickened. Return beef to pan; cook 1 minute or until thoroughly heated. Discard thyme sprigs. Garnish with thyme leaves, if desired.

Sunday, January 10

Sirloin Steaks with Mushroom Sauce

Now that Christmas is over and our lives are somewhat normal of being at home, we are eating better at home.  I’ve had the time and energy (finally) to start cooking again, although that probably will only last until June!  But this “Gourmet” dinner needs to be added to When-Baby-Arrives Recipe book.  It literally took me 20 minutes to make from start to finish and it was delish!

The recipe calls for pan-searing the steaks, but Ben really wanted to grill them.  We also served broccolini and instant cheddar-garlic potatoes (yes…I LOVE instant potatoes!!!).  I’ve also been craving a glass of red wine and this sauce was the perfect topping to our steak to give me a “taste” of red wine without the alcohol since it has been cooked out.IMG_4062 

Sirloin Steak with Mushroom Sauce (Cooking Light)

  • 4  (4-ounce) boneless sirloin steaks, trimmed (about 1 inch thick)
  • 3/8  teaspoon  black pepper, divided
  • 1/4  teaspoon  salt, divided
  • 1  tablespoon  olive oil
  • 1  (8-ounce) package sliced cremini mushrooms
  • 1/2  cup  dry red wine
  • 1/2  cup  water
  • 2  teaspoons  all-purpose flour
  • Sprinkle steaks evenly with 1/4 teaspoon pepper and 1/8 teaspoon salt. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium. Add steaks to pan; cook 2 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness. Remove from pan; keep warm.

    Add mushrooms to pan; cook 5 minutes or until tender and beginning to brown, stirring frequently. Combine wine, 1/2 cup water, flour, 1/8 teaspoon pepper, and 1/8 teaspoon salt; stir well with a whisk. Add wine mixture to pan; bring to a boil. Cook 2 minutes or until thick; stir constantly. Remove from heat.

    Top each steak and about 1/4 cup mushroom sauce.

    Tuesday, January 5

    The Best of ‘09

    When I think about the past year I mostly remember the not-so-great things, but after looking back through the thousands of pictures we took, it turns out we had a really great year.  Here are just a few of our highlights in 2009.  We can not wait to see what else 2010 has in store for us, as I know already it is shaping up to be an exciting year with Baby Stafford on the way!

    New Years 2009 017We rung in the New Year with new friends at Maggiano’s.  February 2009 112 We ran our first race of 2009 as Expecting Parents!  We’ll always miss our first little Peanut.March 2009 245We celebrated Ben’s 29th Birthday at the ‘Canes game. March 2009 268We spent a fun weekend at the beach with great friends that made us laugh so hard when we were grieving. April 2008 002Ben and I both had a personal record for the Cooper River Bridge Run 10k and celebrated at our favorite watering hole in Charleston, T-Bonz. April 2009 178Later in the spring, we spent an fun filled night at the Jimmy Buffet concert.Mother's Day 2009 096We hosted a delicious Mother’s Day brunch on a gorgeous spring afternoon. Steph's Wedding 176 Shared in Steph & Toby’s special day!Jenni's Birthday 2009 033 Celebrated Forever 29 Birthdays at The Mint and Raleigh Times!June-July 09 004 Girl’s Weekend in DC with Meg and her mom, Kathy.  Looking forward to the 3rd Annual!June-July 09 011 Completed backsplash by Ben, the newest handy-man.June-July 09 045 Celebrated July 4th at the Beach with lots of family and friends.Topsail Island 2009 349 A relaxing vacation at Topsail Island.  Seattle 2009 156 Celebrated our 3rd Anniversary in Seattle and visited the same bench were Ben proposed.October 2009 085 Found out we were expecting again…a Seattle souvenir!!ECU Homecoming 09 005 My little sister, Sara, won ECU’s Homecoming Queen.IMG_3574 Cheered my mom on in her first Half Marathon in OBX.IMG_4009Had a merry, merry Christmas as just the two of us!

    As If We Aren’t Stuffed Enough

    This past week has been so cold and dark, I’ve been craving hot comfort foods, even after all the fabulous holiday food we’ve had the past few weeks.  After a quick batch of Baked Potato Soup made with Ore-ida’s Steam & Mash potatoes, I added Stuffed Peppers to our menu this week.  Unfortunately I could not find my usual recipe and had to pick a new one.  I went to Allrecipes which is always trusty in finding highly rated recipes and found one that seemed pretty similar to my old recipe. 

    At first I was irritated I had to boil the peppers.  I hate using more pots and dishes than I need, but it cut down on the bake time and the peppers came out nice and soft with just a little crunch – perfect.  I also used ground turkey since it was on sale and much healthier, then added a small palm-full of red pepper flakes for extra heat and spice!  Delish.  The peppers I brought were huge, so I knew this recipe would not fill 6 peppers as it called for, and 4 was the perfect amount!


    Stuffed Green Peppers (Allrecipes)

    • 4 large green bell peppers
    • salt and pepper
    • 1 lb ground turkey/beef
    • 1/3 cup chopped onion
    • 1 (14.5 oz) can diced italian tomatoes, slightly drained
    • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
    • 1/2 cup uncooked rice
    • 1/2 cup water
    • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
    • 1 tsp crushed red pepper
    • 1 can condensed tomato soup
    • water as needed

    Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cut the tops off the peppers, and remove the seeds. Cook peppers in boiling water for 5 minutes; drain. Sprinkle salt inside each pepper, and set aside.

    In a large skillet, sauté beef and onions for 5 minutes, or until beef is browned. Drain off excess fat, and season with salt and pepper. Stir in the tomatoes, rice, 1/2 cup water and Worcestershire sauce. Cover, and simmer for 15 minutes, or until rice is tender. Remove from heat, and stir in the cheese.

    Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. (175 degrees C). Stuff each pepper with the beef and rice mixture, and place peppers open side up in a baking dish. In a medium bowl, combine tomato soup with just enough water to make the soup a gravy consistency. Pour over the peppers.

    Bake covered for 25 to 35 minutes, until heated through and cheese is melted and bubbly.

    Christmas 2009

    This holiday season we have truly been blessed with many celebrations with our friends and family.  We kicked off the Christmas season by picking out the perfect tree.  Unfortunately we didn’t make it to the NC mountains this year, but we went to the next best place for the freshest tree – the NC Farmer’s market.  Our tree is not quite as big and obnoxious as last years, but still over 8ft tall!  We spent all weekend decorating the house…we officially have enough Christmas decorations since I have to actually take down our regular decor in the living room.IMG_3942IMG_4018















    December would not be complete with out my annual Cookie Swap…this makes the the 4th year and like I said last year, the cookies keep getting better and better!  There were white chocolate cranberry, ginger, sugar cutouts, lemon, peanut butter and jelly, chocolate dream, loaded oatmeal, brownie bites, toffee, almond and snickerdoodle cookies to choose from.IMG_3914    IMG_3928The next weekend I got all dolled up with friends for the Credit Suisse Holiday party at Solas.  While it was only for employees our hubby’s all went to dinner at the Flying Saucer and we met up with them later at Busy Bee Cafe.  The Solas bartenders made amazing non-alcoholic drinks for me all night.  DSC05219

    The weekend before Christmas was a pretty big snow storm for western NC and Virginia, so we had a smaller than usual Family Christmas in Pittsboro.  We saw my mom’s family for lunch and missed my aunts, uncles and cousins.  For dinner, we headed to Greensboro where they had 4-5 inches of snow for the Hedrick Family Christmas. 

    Our traditions continued this year with our Christmas Eve dinner at my dad’s.  Dad made Beef Wellington and we had brown rice casserole and asparagus-pea casserole before heading to Candlelight church service.  After church we opened gifts and enjoyed raspberry cheesecake and saw the little girl’s off to bed before Santa arrived.  We got so many great gifts: running stuff, Wii Sports Resorts, Scotch and gift cards for Ben.  Maternity clothes, pj’s, jewelry, and a pedicure for me.  And a new camera lens and bag for both of us.IMG_3953IMG_3972IMG_3974 

    Christmas morning we woke up at home really early- Ben and I are like kids on Christmas morning -  to open our presents from each other.  I think we both loved our gifts to each other this year. Santa brought Ben a new Garmin Forerunner, clothes, books, and cologne.  Santa delivered new perfume, a robe, Philosophy body wash, Pandora gift card and an Ipod adapter for my car to me.  Freddie even enjoyed his stocking full of treats, new toys and a collar.IMG_3982IMG_3985IMG_4002 IMG_3996








    After opening gifts from each other, we had our traditional Christmas morning brunch at my mom’s with Crème Brulee French Toast, Garlic Cheese grits, fruit, eggs, bacon and apple crisp.  Santa was also good to us all and everyone loved their gifts.  Ben finally got a gift card to get his build a mash tun for brewing beer and I got a Snoogle pillow, gift cards and a new purse.IMG_4003 IMG_4004

    Following presents and brunch Ben found the perfect spot for a quick nap in the rainy weather before heading to his parent’s house for more Christmas festivities.  There we spent the afternoon snacking and playing a game of Dirty Santa.  Susan and George gave us the cutest swaddling blanket with embroidered bumblebees.  Little Peanut got quick the collection of gifts this year…I can’t imagine what next year will be like!