Sunday, March 24, 2013

Portuguese Easter Bread - Bread Machine

Portugese Easter Bread...can I just say...Y-U-M??!!

This is one of my husband's very favorite bread machine breads, but because it is a bit more rich than others we don't have it often.  However, my son learned how to cut up a whole chicken in his co-op class last Friday (something even I don't like doing).  To go along with the White Barbeque sauce I put on his chicken for later grilling (Kraft recipe...if you don't get their magazine, it is soooo worth the cheap price!), what better than this amazing bread??

Easter Bread
Directions for Large loaf (2lb)(adapted from The Bread Machine Cookbook)
1 c milk
2 eggs (beat lightly in small bowl before pouring in)
2 Tbs real butter (cut up and spread over milk/eggs)
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
3 c bread flour
2 tsp bread machine or rapid rise yeast

My experience with this bread has proven that you cannot use the rapid cycle.  It needs the full time to rise given in a regular cycle.  My photos depict a Small loaf on rapid cycle.  Still a great bread and fully cooked just short :-)  If you have a "Sweet Bread" cycle, use that.  I do not, so I use the "Basic" cycle.

You don't need honey with this bread at all, but real butter makes it even more delicious ;-)  It would be a fantastic addition to your Easter holiday ham this weekend!

And here is the grilled chicken my 14 year old cut up!  I am so proud of him ;-)  The recipe for the chicken (which was loved by everyone in the house) is linked above.  And ladies, let me tell you...if you are a bit leary of the grill...don't be!  It's not nearly as scary as I once thought it was.  I love the accomplishment I feel when I pull the meat or veggies/fruit off of the grill :-)

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Tuesday, March 5, 2013

March Clean-Up Habit (#5)'s that time of year...Spring has sprung.  Well, in Texas, we are never really sure when that is because yesterday it was 40degrees and today it is 70.  Can you hear me sneezing?  I can't hear you because my ears are as stuffed up as my nose, darn this weather.  You'd think after 42 years (yes, 42, as of March 4th!) of TX, I'd be used to it.

But enough of my complaining ;-)   Let's get on with our monthly clean-up habit!  We are working on conquering one new habit a month so that by the end of the year we will hopefully have a leg up on our homes :-)  Not two legs, mind you, because that's just not how I roll...but one leg will help right?

So far March...what do I have in store for you?  With all of the sunshine we will (hopefully) be having...and of course those cozy rainy days, we need to be able to see it all better, right?  So let's work on our windows. 
Twice a week, clean some windows.  Pick two rooms a week, say your living and dining room.  On Tuesday, clean your dining room windows, indoors and outdoors.  On Thursday, clean your living room windows, indoors and outdoors.  Or what I prefer...on Tuesday, clean living and dining room windows indoors only then on Thursday, clean the outdoor windows for both rooms.  Done!  Next week, pick two more rooms.   More than likely you will end up cleaning each set of windows every 6 weeks or so, depending on the size of your home. 
Can you see all of those cute little handprints all over my door?  yea...cute but dirty!
My cleaning preference currently is Melalueca's Clear Power and some paper towels.
 For outdoors, I LOVE LOVE LOVE Windex Outdoor cleaning pads, they make it fast work!

Windex Outdoor All In One Glass Cleaning Tool, 1 kt
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Monday, March 4, 2013

Budget Friendly (but Fun) Butterfly Feeder!

My dad is a native plant and butterfly expert these days.  No joke, people interested in this hobby actually look to him for answers and help, he's the plant man!  See here.

So what do you get for your Dad's birthday, a man who typically buys what he needs and doesn't like "dust collector" type things?  And you've already taken him to the Houston Butterfly exhibit in the last year...

You make him a couple of butterfly feeders!  After searching the net a bit and being somewhat inspired (but not as completely as you'd hoped) dawns on you...a budget-friendly fruit feeder much like the ones at the afore-mentioned exhibit.

What you need: 
a plant stand, preferably one that will stick into the ground well (I found mine at Big Lots for $5-$7 a piece)
terra cotta pot saucer (find one that preferably will sit IN the plant stand just a bit, more stable)
spray paint (bright colors)
fruit pieces
Clean off your saucer and begin spray painting.  I ended up with approx. 5 layers of paint inside and out of the saucer to make it look smooth. 
If you want to decorate, do so now, as you can see we went simple with some white acrylic paint and a handprint.  On the backside I wrote "Happy Birthday Grandaddy 2013".  You could even modge podge fun prints all over the saucer.  To seal the handprints and writing, I put a few quick coats of poly.  The saucers might need to be replaced every few years due to weathering in your area, but then again, rustic is still in, right?
Once all is dry, place the plant stand in your garden, making sure it is down in the dirt well to avoid any hefty butterflies from tilting it over ;-)  place your saucer on top and add fruit pieces.  Of course, having a few butterfly friendly plants in your garden next to the feeder will help.  So many fun options, my favorite (and one of the most common) is Lantana, it even comes in purple (for my TCU Frogs!).  :-) . 

Here are a couple of great sites if you are interested (thankfully, I have the man mentioned above to help me out!)
Butterfly Site
Native Plants

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