Sunday, January 31, 2010

Easy Monkey Bread

I promised Steph that I would post this recipe and here I am, almost a week later, finally getting to it! Procrastination is a pretty regular theme on this here blog :)

I have tried a couple versions of Monkey bread and have settled on this one as my favorite. Many of the recipes out there use Pillsbury style refrigerated biscuits and I often had the problem of cooking it for the required time (and more) only to discover some of the biscuits were still a bit raw. Monkey bread is traditionally something eaten in the morning and it's not good to have to constantly be adding cooking time to something, especially when you're trying to get out the door for school drop offs and morning Bible study groups.

Also, with this one you do all the prep at night and just pop it in the oven in the morning!

As you'll see it calls for frozen dinner roll dough. Emphasis on dough. The dough unfreezes and (I guess) rises throughout the night, so don't be worried when it looks really small the night before. Don't be tempted to overfill. I have done it and my pan has overflowed! Sometimes this dough is hard to find so if you end up liking this recipe you can always grab a few bags to have in your freezer so you can make this at a moment's (or a night's) notice.

Easy Monkey Bread

24 ounces frozen dinner roll dough
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 (3.4 ounce) package instant butterscotch pudding mix
1/4 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (we opt out of the nuts)
1/2 cup melted butter


1.The night or several hours before, grease and flour a 9 or 10 inch tube pan. Mix brown sugar and pudding mix together. Mix white sugar and cinnamon together. Place frozen dinner rolls in pan a layer at a time. Sprinkle brown sugar and pudding mix over first layer of rolls. Sprinkle sugar and cinnamon mixture over the brown sugar and pudding mixture. Spread half the nuts and melted butter over first layer. Repeat with the next layer.

2.Place on counter over night. Do not cover. Next morning bake in a preheated 350 degrees F oven for 30 minutes. Let stand a few minutes and turn pan over onto serving platter.


Saturday, January 23, 2010

It's Christmas!

Christmas 2009. It was definitely a fun one! I've been anticipating getting this post ready for just under a month now, with my excuse being not having my pictures downloaded because of our computer problems. The other day I decided to just put the pictures on Matt's laptop. When I saw them, I just had to laugh. Because if i didn't I might cry. Seriously, I was putting off this post while I waited for pictures and what I realized was that we barely took any pictures.

No pictures of the gifts post Santa's visit all set up around the tree.

No pictures of the four of us dressed up after Christmas Eve worship service.

No pictures of the four of us Christmas morning (yes, we do have a tripod and I know how to work the timer on our camera).

No pictures of the four of us at any point over our week of Christmas celebration.

No pictures of any of us wearing any clothes other than pajamas (that was the part that I thought was pretty funny!)

Despite the lack of visual reminders, it was only a month ago so I remember having a great Christmas. So great that we forgot to break out the camera! :)

Here are a few of the them...

The girls eagerly awaiting giving the gifts they got each other, wearing their matching Christmas pjs. It was so sweet how much joy they got from giving a gift to their sister as well as receiving one. They were just little trinket things, but both were so delighted in the gift they got. It made me so happy!

Ella, so excited to put on the little necklace she got from Catherine. I just love the look on her face.

Well that's it for Christmas at our house! For real! What I don't have documented is the girls coming downstairs when I started playing "O Come All Ye Faithful" by Third Days and opening their gifts. Some of the faves were, a scooter for each of them, A telescope (thrift store find, go Matt!) for Ella, Leapfrog Tag for Catherine, books and Barbies and Littlest Pet Shop stuff, a fun little video camera for Ella (Great find at Woot), two new dresses for Catherine, some new Leapster games and more.

We enjoyed a yummy breakfast of Monkey bread, my favorite recipe because you prepare everything the night before and just pop it in the oven in the morning. You can't beat the smell of it baking while you open gifts!

After the excitement wore off we packed up the car and headed to central PA to join my family for the Koerber family Christmas.

The morning after we get there we basically reinact Christmas morning at my parents house. The kids wait at the top of the stairs until the special Christmas music play (Hmmm...could that be a tradition I've taken with me?)

And now the pictures being again....

The cousins (and Uncle Mike) waiting on the stairs. As they get older the adults no longer have to sit up there with them, we are actually allowed to be downstairs. This is a moment my older brother looked forward to for years. Notice that my younger brother is still with the kids!

This is Ella, first one down the stairs, running around the corner into the family room. I love the excitment on her face, and it's also a picture I'm sure I've had taken of me growing (yeah, that's right, I beat the boys down the stairs!)

Oh look, a picture of the girls with a gift!

Yay for Pixos!! The kids got some wonderful gifts from my very generous parents!

We made some attempts to get some more cousin pictures. This one is a personal favorite...

There's just so much chaos going on! Caleb had been happy 30 seconds before but then his Aunt Chrissie sat on him! Classic Christmas moment in the Koerber household!

And even more chaos....

Only a few more left....

My most adorable niece looking precious in her new hat!

Sweet happy Catherine!
Caleb in his happy place, snuggled up close to mom!
Holding Norah...doesn't she look happy?

Oh wait, NOW she looks happy.

One final stellar picture left to share. Every year the Sandman brings us all pajamas on Christmas Eve. If at all possible, they are matching. Usually the adults are the ones who are lucky enough to all have matching pjs.

Because this is the closest to a family picture I have....

Yes I know there are no men, but they did not cooperate in wearing their matching pjs, making this an all female shot!

Some favorite memories of our time with my family...
As always, watching the cousins playing together, especially when my mom joins them for hide and seek. They all try and outdo each other to findthe best hiding spots.

Playing the Wii Fit plus games after the kids went to bed and laughing our heads off at each other.

Watching the Steelers game with my family (and then losing power with 2 minutes to go and the Steelers up 3 over Baltimore).

Watching Ella, Isaac and Catherine attempt to sled in my parents back yard in barely an inch of snow. They made it work for a suprisingly long time and it was a bit surreal that they were all capable enough to be out there doing it on their own!
I didn't experience this, but it's a highlight for my kids. For the second year in a row my parents took the older cousins to this massive light display in a nearby town, one that you drive through and then at the end you park and walk through a section with trains and whatnot. In Ella's words "it rocks!"
The few days passed far too quickly and before we knew it, the van was once again loaded down and we were headed down to Matt's family in Maryland for another family celebration!
By this time Matt and I were both coming down with head colds, so I spent Tuesday feeling a bit out of it and then taking a nap on Matt's sister's couch while the kids played. Thankfully all four of the cousins play really well and rarely want us to come hang out with them!
Aside from the fun gifts and hours and hours of play time with their cousins, the highlight of our time in Maryland was our trip to go see Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel. Going to the movies the week between Christmas and New Year's is always a crazy experience because even the 11am movies are absolutely mobbed. It was a really fun time and the kids loved it. I have to say I went in with low expectations and ended up enjoying it. A nice surprise was seeing Zach Levi (Chuck) playing the roll of Dave's deadbeat nephew. Also, Hok from So You Think You Can Dance played a small part in the end!
We love having the whole week of Christmas to really be on vacation and spend time with family. As much as some people might think it's hard to be traveling I love that December 26th - Jan 1st is almost as exciting as Christmas day (not taking away from that special day of celebrating Jesus' birth) because of the loved ones that we spend that week with. I think we're pretty darn lucky!!! :

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Everyday News

In the past few weeks we've been having major computer issues. So frustrating and annoying. At the moment is no longer crashing every few minutes, but the monitor resolution is set so low that I can't stand to even look at it.

Let alone download pictures from Christmas.

Let alone update my blog with said pictures.

How can I do a Christmas post without pictures?

Instead I'll just share a bit of what I'm up to these days....

What I'm watching: I was excited to watch Chuck when season 3 started this week! I'm also eagerly awaiting the start of the final season of Lost - any other fans out there watching? Could it be anymore exciting to know we're going to finally know what the heck has been going on these past years!? Oh yeah, and Friday Night Lights, Tami and Eric Taylor are my favorite TV couple and after last season's finale I can't wait to see what's in store for them. Thank goodness for DVR!

What I'm reading: I just finished "Sweet Caroline" by Rachel Hauck. I enjoyed it so much, much more than I was expecting. If your local library has it I would definitely recommend it! I've decided to read through Psalms and Proverbs (one of each per day) and I'm looking forward to how the Word will convict, challenge and encourage me.

What I'm cooking: Tonight I made a yummy crock pot chicken taco filling and Monday was white chicken chili. Both were enjoyed by all (and by all I mean all of us except Catherine) and as long as they weren't loaded down with cheese and sour cream, pretty healthy!

What I'm doing: This is the time of year that I get back into a workout routine. It always seems like with the busyness of fall and then Christmas I totally stop exercising and then I lose weight and think why bother exercising and then I feel all soft and jiggly and realize I probably just lost muscle weight and tricked myself into thinking I could eat a ton and do nothing and still feel good. So now it's back to the grind with Jillian Michael's workouts and cardio on the treadmill. It's always fun when Catherine comes down to watch me and says things like "you can't stop mom, you can't stop." (I wasn't stopping, just remarked that i was tired).

What's new: I'm looking forward to a girls' weekend with my college buddies. Definitely nice to look forward to in the dead of winter.

Also Ella had her first Upward basketball game this past weekend. The program is really organized and well run, but you can't escape the fact that it was 5-7 year olds playing basketball. It was pretty entertaining and really Ella did better than I thought she would having never seen or played a game in her life.

I spent the day in Catherine's preschool class this morning and her teacher said some kind things about her that made me feel so proud of her and really encouraged me. I tend to worry because she's a bit slow in her letter recognition/memorization and for some reason it drives me crazy that she can't remember them and I worry that she isn't a good learner. So, it was really nice to hear things about Catherine's personality that will serve her well as she continues to grow and to be reminded that the letter learning will come and she's right on track with everything!

That girl just cracks me up. I have to share this cute little thing she said the other night when I was putting her to bed. She said "mom, when I'm older and I have to work who will take care of my baby?" (I imagine this stemmed from me watching my friend's baby all last week?) I went through a variety of options and then I said "or a grandma could watch the baby" Catherine responded with "yeah, you can watch my baby. Even when I'm older I'll still need your help!" My heart melted and even just now it makes me tear up. It reminds me that no matter how old they get, they will always be your babies who you want to take care of (even when you know you shouldn't!).

Monday, January 04, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

The tree is down, the holiday season is officially over and I just had to have something other than Sharing Christmas up on my blog.

I have much to share about our Christmas as well as thoughts for the New Year. I also need to get post up dedicated to my now six years and one month old Ella!

But this week I am hanging out with the cutest little six month old ever, as a favor to a good friend whose regular care-giver is out on maternity leave. By the end of the week I'm sure I'll be a pro at juggling school pick up and drop off with the needs of a little one, but at this moment I'm not sure how much extra time I'll have for blogging. Because, you know, I typically blog so much without a baby around! (I have to laugh because I wrote the bulk of this post after 8pm tonight, when my kids are in bed and I could have totally taken the time to document some memories from the past month...oh well, I'm hoping they stick for another few days)

I wanted to be organized so I made sure to get my meal planning done with some easy crock pot meals to get us through busier days.

So of course I'm going to do a quick Menu Plan Monday!

It's a new year so I'm trying a bunch of new recipes this week...

Monday - Old Fashioned Chicken Noodle Soup Slower Cooker Recipe I got this recipe off of A Year of Slowcooking and since I made it tonight I figure I should post my thoughts. I have to say that I was a bit skeptical based on the ingredients and the little tastes I snuck throughout the day. It just seemed like it was going to be bland. But in the end I really like it. Definitely NOT your typical chicken noodle soup - I would probably come up with a totally different name for it because the flavor is different from what you'd expect from a chicken noodle soup. It was enjoyed by three out of the four of us (take a wild guess who didn't enjoy it!) and we all had seconds. I did season my bowl with salt and pepper as well as add a bit of fresh Parmesan to garnish as suggested. An easy, healthy and comforting meal - perfect for this cold week!

Tuesday - Potato Pie with Tomato and Fontina (in my case, Gouda) I picked this recipe thinking it was a good meatless option, only to find out that it has pancetta in it. Oh well, it looked to interesting to pass up. If you're curious, click on the link to see what it looks like and what's in it. I'm hoping I like it!

Wednesday - Slow Cooker Beef Bourguignon - Getting out the crock pot again with high expectations for this simple beef dish. I'm using stew meat instead of a roast so I'm hoping that it turns out more like a stew (hence, the stew meat!).

Thursday or Friday - Marlboro Man's Second Favorite Sandwich, one of those days will be leftovers. If you haven't had this sandwich, I don't know what to say other than you must. We usually use turkey bacon just to keep it a little lighter, but it is easy and yummy and something Matt requests that I make and if I don't make it, he will!

So that's it for this week's meals. As always, let me know if you try any and if you like/dislike them, I'm always curious.

I hope where ever you are you are snuggled up and staying warm - I think I can safely assume that's it cold outside!

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