Soft buttered pretzels

blog 010I found this recipe from the back label of Pillsbury’s flour because I love to collect them especially when it comes to bread making. When I tried Subway’s pretzel for the first time, it was very good but a little expensive. $1.99 each with cheese dip.

This recipe is also good for snacks while traveling or going to the zoo. The price doubles when you buy it from there or stopping at any drive-thru.

I just learned the importance of choosing what kind of flour you have to use when it comes to baking bread or pastry. I prefer using unbleached flour for best result and it means fluffier bread. Still,I didn’t use Pillsbury’s all-purpose flour because I’m so in love using bread flour for some reason.

Soft Buttered Pretzels

Ingredients

3 to 3 1/2 cups unbleached bread flour or All Purpose Flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 (1/4 oz.) package active dry yeast
1 cup water
1 tablespoon Vegetable Shortening
No-Stick Cooking Spray
6 cups water
1/4 cup baking soda
2 tablespoons butter, melted
Pretzel salt, sesame or poppy seeds

Directions:

  • Combine 1 cup flour, sugar, salt and yeast in medium bowl. Blend well.
  • Heat 1 cup water and shortening in small saucepan to 100° to 110°F.
  • Add liquid to flour mixture.
  • Blend at low speed of an electric mixer until moistened. Beat 3 minutes at medium speed.
  • Stir in by hand an additional 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 cups flour or until dough pulls cleanly away from sides of bowl.
  • Knead in 1/2 to 3/4 cup flour on floured surface, until dough is smooth and elastic. Place dough in greased bowl.
  • Cover loosely with plastic wrap and cloth towel.
  • Let rise in a warm place (80° to 85°F) until light and doubled in size, about 45 minutes.
  • Spray 2 cookie sheets with no-stick cooking spray. Punch down dough. Divide into 12 pieces.
  • Roll each piece into a 16-inch rope. Form into pretzel shape.
  • Place on prepared cookie sheets. Cover. Let rise in warm place about 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Adjust oven rack to top position. Heat oven to 400°F.
  • Combine 6 cups water and baking soda in a shallow sided saucepan.
  • Bring to a gentle boil. Slowly drop pretzels into water, one at a time, cooking 15 seconds on each side and remove from water with slotted spoon.
  • Return to cookie sheet. Sprinkle with pretzel salt, sesame or poppy seeds.
  • Bake 8 minutes. Brush with melted butter. Bake 2 minutes or until golden brown.
  • Immediately remove from cookie sheet. Brush generously with remaining butter. Serve warm.

blog 008You can be creative making this and this is fun activity for our girls.They help me to knead the dough and put some poppy seeds on top.

blog 007It might look weird,pretzels on a pizza pan? I only have one cookie sheet and buying one more is a pretty good idea to me. My next goodwill hunting,eh?

blog 009Tadaaa!!!

These pictures were my first time to make these delicious pretzels and I didn’t mess it up and while I’m typing this, I made this three times already.

Trivia: In Germany,they call these twisted ring-shaped  and salt-sprinkled breads,Salzbrezeln, that are traditionally eaten as a snack with uhm….beer! but they make an especially savory and tasty accompaniment to many drinks.

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Please note: This is not an advertorial post for Pillsbury and all opinions are mine.Cheers!

My night shift routine

blog 006Supposedly I have to work every other weekend.That’s a mandatory to all of us,employees at work whether you whine or hated,hated it!It’s my fourth consecutive weekends to work plus the week days.Something went wrong to the store and I have to help to cover for someone else until they find somebody (actually they already did!) and my schedule is back to normal again.

Oh work!I can’t even remember when was my last day off.

I have to work many night shifts then go back to my regular hours 4am-11am,maybe next week.I’m not scared to work,you have to do what you gotta do,right?That’s money,baby!

But after long days of workloads,you will come to the point that you are worn out.It’s a very tough situation to be in. Or,am I just acting like a big whiner or something? I  never missed work since I started which will be a year now.Wow to me and to my employer!

When you work overnights one thing you don’t want to feel is being lifeless in daylight. Work,sleep and work,sleep again.I tried this but I didn’t feel good doing it over and over again.

Let’s say,I worked last night and here are my normal activities all throughout the day.

  • Do laundry and have some breakfast with my family. I love doing laundry and I think we have such a strong chemistry. We get along so good and I like it.I have an agreement with my husband that leave this chore to me because I have my own way to do them.You all know this ladies!
  • I take some sleep until lunch time. Once I get home I don’t crawl right away on bed.First,three bodies sleeping in there,yeah our girls co-sleep with us. Thanks to my husband who tries to give me quiet time when he takes the girls outside to play.
  • I do some chores. This includes folding clothes or picking up toys that the girls played the night before.
  • Spend time with the girls. When I get my 3 to 4 hours of sleep, me and the girls eat lunch (that’s when my husband fed himself because he needs to be at work before 1:30 pm. We eat together then read books or play for a little bit.
  • Take a nap. I wanted to take at least couple hours nap with the girls.That’s why I always turn off the TV whether they throw a fit or give me drama,I need my nap same as they do.
  • Prepare dinner. By 5 pm,I start preparing our meal which normally takes me at least an hour to cook. I love supper.This is the time when the whole family spends time together on the table.
  • Get the girls ready. This usually happens right after my husband left to go back to work.I let them sit in the bath tub (with bubbles) while I’m finishing the dishes.Then,I brush their hair and we brush our teeth together and put their pajamas on. I turn off the TV and let them play or read a book.
  • Take my last nap. As much as possible I want to have at least two more hours of sleep.It energizes me through the night and not feel tired and drowsy.But still, I need a cup of coffee before I start to work.
  • Work,work,work. My shift lasts 6 to 7 hours and it goes so fast.I’m always busy all night and make sure my job is done before 5 am when customers start to come in.

It doesn’t include the run around like grocery shopping and eating at Chinese restaurant last Saturday afternoon at Hy-Vee. They say I have to get good sleep which I’m so happy because I know I do.And doing these little activities make me feel productive everyday.

Ahh! I can’t wait for this day off.

One of my summer highlights

blog 004It was such a beautiful day yesterday,right after I got home I did the laundry.I had two loads-regular clothes and towels.I ended up hanging few of them outside.

It might sound weird but after the first load in the dryer,there were some clothes that had a little wet spot.

It all started with these.

blog 003Thank goodness to my husband who turned off the dyer right away before its timer is up.He forgot his keys to get in the school building.I didn’t think twice to put these back to the dryer,it’s a waste of energy and then I looked outside to see how beautiful the weather was.Then the clotheslines that my husband made for me with the help of our friend.

It’s time to use it and let them dry.I did this last year and I will do it again this time.

The bad thing when I do line drying, the towels get stiff.And I will do a little research to take care of that.I think it’s because of the detergent. But it’s okay,I just used one yesterday.It’s all fine.My day was wonderful no matter what.

This entry was posted in Etc..

Better-than-anything-cake recipe

blog 001I barely make this kind of special cake that my friends and family adore and I make this less than five times a year.This richly flavored chocolate cake is one of my favorites too!Almonds,whipped cream and butterscotch caramel topping. The taste is heavenly.

I don’t make this cake more often for two reasons: (1) my husband has sweet tooth and this is not good for him, (2) I don’t want to get tired of its taste,meaning,I still want some excitement everytime I’m drooling for this.

It’s also known as “Better-than-sex-cake” *with a wink and big smile*.Too often people think this cake is simply naughty but this is the best cake so far that I love to bake. I learned this from one friend when we had get together and this what she brought for potluck.It was my first time to hear about it and to have some so  I didn’t let her go the day go without this recipe on my hand.

blog 003So how to make this mouthwatering cake?It’s really easy,all you have to do is to gather all the ingredients needed and wait for a little bit to cool it off and it’s ready!My coworker asks me for the recipe and there’s really no need to write it down.

Sounds so easy right?

Better-Than-Anything Cake Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 box (18.25 oz) German chocolate cake mix
  • 1 can (14 oz) sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 jar (14 oz) Hershey’s caramel topping
  • Heath milk chocolate toffee bar,chopped/crushed
  • 1 (8 oz) container frozen whipped cream,thawed
  • Smucker’s butterscoth’s sundae syrup

Directions:

  • Bake cake according to the package instructions.
  • Poke holes in a cake while warm (This is where the spatula becomes handy)
  • Mix condensed milk and caramel topping,stir until smooth and blended.
  • Slowly pour the mixture over the top of the warm cake
  • Let it sit for a little while (I do mine at least half an hour),the longer the better for the mixture to sink to the bottom of  a cake.
  • Let cool completely,then top with whipped topping.
  • Put chopped/crushed toffee bars on top and drizzle with sundae syrup.

You can minimize the sweetness by not putting all the caramel mixture (or you can do half-half,maybe?okay,let’s do 3/4 each or if you want to stick to my measurements )because I’m telling ya it will be super duper sweeeet and delicious!

Decluttering our freezer

blog 009This week’s goal is to declutter different areas in our house.For me not to get bored doing this “special mission”,like a frog,I jump from different area to another in order not to face boredom and this time I tried to organize our freezer. It quits making ice and it’s not dispensing water for so long (probably it’s frozen).When we got back from our vacation from the Philippines we started having this problem which is not a big deal for me because I don’t like our city water anyway.It tastes so different.And we opted to buy refill water at the store at a very cheap price.

And with the ice maker,it’s like 50-50 for me but my husband seems can’t live without it.That’s why I tried to be a little bit technical out of curiosity before we decided to have someone come over to fix it.I tried to do some research what might be the cause-one is having too much foods in the freezer that make it hard for the machine to produce ice or the feeler arm is dislocated.

Anyway.

When was the last time I cleaned this?I don’t know.

So,here’s what I found that made me “Oh, we have this?” moment.A lot of them actually.I was surprised to see some of them. And you see anchovy on the picture above.I put a lot of leftover veggies in a ziploc like these.

blog 010I was in the middle of cleaning when I took this picture. It was so congested if they could only file a complaint against me,they could’ve.

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I freeze a lot of leftovers (boiled macaroni noodles from making goulash,I think) and all frozen foods I bought from Asian market and it’s been sitting here for months and months.blog 012See how dirty it is?Yucks! I asked myself how did I allow this dirty thing to happen?Yeah,the down side of procrastination.

blog 013After I cleaned the fridge and organized everything.It looks much better now.

I freeze bell pepper,mushrooms,sweetcorn and yes,tomatoes which I should canned supposedly and way back are banana leaves and few egg rolls/lumpia wrappers.

The bottom is where I put all the meat,hash brown,frozen fries,another mushroom and box of apple pie (which is a little bit bigger,so I found a right place for it). And I keep crossing my fingers that it will be fixed anytime soon but my bonus this time,this looks way better than I started messing with it.

Saving Old Calendar

blog 012As much as possible I want to be creative in so many ways like decorating in inexpensive way.

blog 009 Last week,we went to Goodwill store and I found this picture frame for $1.99.At first,we thought we’ll put our family picture in it and hang somewhere.

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It was cheaper than the original price and I could tell it never been used.

blog 011Sometimes my husband accuses me of being a hoarder for saving old stuffs that I don’t need. Like last year’s calendar.There’s no way I will toss them when there are twelve beautiful and captivating photos included.Some banks(I think) run a photo contest and ask photographers to submit their professionally pictures taken to be included in their calendar.

blog 012And this what I got.Plus, my husband loves it and can’t believe how cheaply I made it.For only $1.99 plus a little creativity.

Being married to American

blog 007This is one of my personal posts and for sure won’t be the last.I woke up early today before 5 AM and I’m glad I enjoy this quietude while my family is still sleeping. I’ve been thinking of my family back home when reading the news about the typhoon.It hit our region first and they say they’re okay.I know the feeling when this calamity comes usually no power,flooding and a lot of cleaning to do after it passed.Sigh.

I miss home.

If only we have a lot of money I wish to go back there every year but having two little girls to haul (my husband doesn’t want to fly again,his back bothers him so much) it would be hard for me and to our pocket.How could we afford spending at least $4K in airfare alone in our current situation?

Anyhow, three more years will be soon enough for us.I’m excited to look forward for that day.A lot of thoughts and wishes I keep on thinking and this is what happens when you are thousand miles away from my family.Hard to say,this is one of the sacrifices you have to deal with when you marry someone of a different race.You move or he has to move.

In our case,I have to come over and live in America to start a family with him.I couldn’t picture of him living in the Philippines,we would need air conditioner in the house to keep him cool all the time.He’s scared to drive especially in Manila,he thinks there are lot of crazy drivers,I think this is an issue everywhere.I’m glad he behaved well in front of my family when we went for a vacation and he enjoyed the visit as he said.

Well.

What it’s like to be married to American?My friends told me how “lucky” I am to find him (okay,I really didn’t intentionally find him,the way we met was a fate).The word “lucky” won’t depict my marriage with him and “I would look so exotic when I get there”.The stereotype of marrying foreigners especially Westerners is overrated.Few months after we got married I was asked how come “I wasn’t building a house right away like other Filipina wives?”.I was astounded and didn’t know how to answer the question.

Finally the thought sank in,I tell them I have to earn it I guess.I didn’t marry him to be my money machine.I have plans that someday,if I will build a home,it will be from my pocket.A lot of stories I heard about this kind of hackneyed idea and I don’t want to be like them.

Before we even get married I faced comments like “I just want to come over to America that’s why I will marry him”,”Is your marriage for real?” and “WOW! (with unexplained face)” but what I’m gonna do when you encounter questions like those?.Some are genuine comments and some are I don’t know.

I thought I learned all but to my surprise I have to learn a lot and please don’t think I’m lambasting others,this is just my personal thought.

  • You have to work for money. This is everywhere.I work so hard to help our finances because we don’t have the high-paying job. Some are blessed to be a stay-at-home mom because their husbands can afford to support them on sole income.But don’t be surprised when you know somebody who does hard jobs like working at a packing house or nursing homes.They’re not easy to do and it takes a lot of courage to do them.For example,since we know working these kind of jobs means more money some go for it but I can’t.If I decided to work at the packing house there’s no way I could stay longer,the temperature is so cold and I needed a layer of clothes to keep me comfortable.
  • It’s not that easy as they thought. In our culture,it’s given that when you go abroad to live for good or to work for the rest of your life,family back home thinks we get it somewhere easily (like finding dollars on the street) but it’s not.A lot of emotional and physical pain we have to endure.I’m not talking in a morbid way but for those who do (tougher) blue-collar jobs just to support their family,they have no idea.There are times I miss my sisters so bad and I really wanted to see them but I have to deal it whether I like it or not.
  • Some are faking it. Don’t be jealous of all the pictures on their social media.Facebook,for instance,is the place where you can brag what you got,what you are doing and where you go.Okay,let’s be honest,we can take a throne for our love of “selfies” but for Pete’s sake,you don’t have to detail what’s going on to your life everyday like eating at McDonald’s or fancy restaurants, going to the dentist or to the gym and such.When we came back last year to see my family,my mother told me that “some are surprised to see me not that fancy”.I wasn’t loaded with tons of jewelries and expensive clothes or accessories,it was just so simple.I know some people just to look fancy they will wear things that are imitated.
  • English is only a language. I encountered few ladies who act like they so adaptive when it comes to speaking the language even if we (fellow Filipinas) are the only talking to each other,it always bothers me when they keep on speaking English and watch for the accent.Some are overdoing it.But this is reality,some American husbands who have narrow-minded don’t allow their wives to speak their own language.For what?For their fear of talking behind their back and that is scary.
  • A lot really don’t have money. Okay,I might be a little exaggerated here but don’t think all of us have money,living in Midwest we do have a lot of snow and that’s for sure. As much as possible I wanted to save more money but we are in the brink of financial challenge.I wanted to visit my family more often,not wait five years or so just to do that.We went back to the Philippines four years after I came over to this country.We saved money first which was tough because two little kids and a lot of expenses on our monthly list.It was tough.I can’t imagine some who do two or three jobs just to support their family back home because they want to show them off the money they have.I don’t think I have to treat myself as their slave just to please and support them.

I’m so thankful for being married to someone who understands where I came from.We don’t take advantage of each other,we’re not in “superiority-submissiveness relationship”.We do respect each other.And I am so grateful for being married to someone who doesn’t require me not to speak my own language,who doesn’t monitor my conversation when I’m talking to someone (because I know someone who does this),who doesn’t audit our bank account because he trusts me so much.My family is well-oriented right after I started living here.It’s not what they thought,you have to work for everything to be “lucky”.

I feel bad for some fellow Filipinas  (I personally know or not) who dealt and dealing with the opposite of my gratefulness.It’s not that easy.

More decluttering to do

blog 002My past time lately is very productive-decluttering stuffs and I have a big plan on doing this.I’ll work in every room,every closet,every cabinet and toy bins.I know it will take few days for me to finish this mission but it will help me keep my sanity of not being overloaded with stuffs.

I learned to become more organized and when you buy new stuffs,old stuffs either be tossed or donated to avoid clutter in your house.It depends how you look at it.I bought clothes to our oldest daughter but I kept her baby clothes for couple years and they were sitting in the diaper boxes and laundry baskets hoping someday I would have time to get rid of them.

I wasn’t sure where my mind that time,how come I kept them for so long when I could ask friends if they’re interested to take them or just donate.I even tried to sell online but it was a headache and I didn’t make money doing it,so I gave up.Until we held garage sale and only few clothes got sold and we ended up giving them to our friend who will help another friend.

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Like me,my husband likes going to garage sale too.He finds good stuffs like this pair of shoes for one of our girls and he only paid $1 on this.Too cheap for a beautiful used shoes but the thing is,neither one of our girls could use this for one reason-too small now for them.

blog 004I used these pants many many times during my pregnancy.Remember I got pregnant in two consecutive years?I didn’t bother to buy new elastic pants for pregnant women like me because they are expensive.I just went to go to Goodwill and found these pants that I can use during the course of my two pregnancies.And the money I spent on these really worth it.I can make something useful out of it but I can’t think anything and my choice is to donate these.

For less than $4 each,I felt I made money wearing these.I got them so cheap while wearing them over and over again while I was working and now it’s time to let go of them.It means no more pregnancy on the way.They will go back where I got them and this is the time to do it.

Or.

I could send these unused items back to the Philippines through balikbayan box.I know my family can use these but it’s expensive and it takes at least two months before it arrives and you can’t just send box just full of clothes,if I want to send something they will expect some goodies too!

Anyway.

This is the only beginning of my decluttering saga,so don’t be surprised I’ll be posting many times on this topic.

 

 

 

We already saved this much

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Last Monday I went to grocery shopping with our girls (normally I do it on Thursday or Friday) to save money on gas and time after their dentist appointment.It was a challenge but satisfying when you see on the receipt how much money we saved so far.

Currently,our total savings is $456.93!

We still have five more months to come and more savings are on my way.Last year I saved over $700 that helped our monthly budget so much.

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Food4Less sent me these coupons and I used few of them. Bread and pasta were on sale last week and it was a perfect time to use them.

I make homemade wheat bread but I got two (20 oz) loaves of bread for only $1.29 cents! I also started to stockpile on laundry detergent and some canned goods.And this is why I love shopping at this store,they treat me fair by sending free items or coupons to use.There are coupons I don’t need and what I do with them is to leave at the shelves where some customers can use them.

Aside from this,I earn fuel points to save on gas which is good until the end of the month. And usually they give me code on the receipt to do online survey and earn extra 50 bonus points.I’m doing everything to save on this and that because every penny counts.They might not look as much but somehow it really helps us.

Our Goodwill shopping was awesome

blog 014You will read many many times here on this blog how I profess my love for Goodwill hunting shopping.I always motivated to shop more often everytime I find good deals on kids’ clothes and my size too.My husband shops his own.

Last time we visited Omaha to our main destination-Asian market,we didn’t miss going to Goodwill store close by.

Why?

Whenever you are in a bigger city chances are- the bigger Goodwill store there is. A lot of people.A lot of donations.A variety of items.

That’s why I was so happy that day.

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Red tags are worth .99 cents on clothes that week as their weekly special.blog 013And I got this brand new Mossimo novelty jacket.Never used and tag was attached when I bought it. Maybe,a clothing store (Target)donated this or a very nice lady decided she didn’t like it.

Either way,I got it.

For .99 cents!

Yay Goodwill!