Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Tasty Tuesday: Imitation Cheddar Bay Biscuits

I just found out recently that Red Lobster might be on the rocks. I honestly am not a huge fan of their food, but I loooooooooooove their Cheddar Bay Biscuits. Often I would go there just to buy the biscuits and bring them home to eat with whatever we made for dinner.

Earlier this year Brian took a bread baking class at Marcel's Culinary Experience in Glen Ellyn, Ill., which I bought him as a birthday gift.

I'll take a moment to let that fact sink in. Yes, my husband bakes. And he enjoys it. And I find it dead sexy. :)

One of the recipes he brought home from the class was for cheddar-chive drop biscuits. After I tried some, I looked at him in wild wonder and exclaimed,"These taste just like the Red Lobster biscuits....except these are healthier...and BETTER!"

Seriously. These biscuits are super-duper awesome, and are fairly easy to make. Don't they just look scrumptious? Om nom nom.

Full Disclosure: 
Brian made the biscuits. I made them look pretty and took the photos. We both ate them with some chili I made after a long day of DIY-ing and toddler wrangling. Recipe is courtesy of Marcel's Culinary Experience. If you're in the Chicago area and looking for quality cooking/baking classes, I highly recommend Marcel's!

To help all of you fellow Cheddar Bay Biscuit Lovers cope (maybe we should form a support group? The CBBL?) below is the recipe. Happy baking!

Cheddar-Chive Drop Biscuits (aka Imitation Cheddar Bay Biscuits)

Makes about 16 biscuits

2 cups all purpose flour
2 tablespoons of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
Pinch cayenne
6 tablespoons of cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
8 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, coarsely grated
1 1/3 cups buttermilk
3 tablespoons of minced fresh chives

Place the flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, salt and cayenne into a food processor and pulse to blend. Add the butter and process until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Add the cheese, buttermilk, and chives and pulse until the mixture just comes together - make sure to not over-process!

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit and grease two baking sheets. Drop large tablespoons of dough onto the baking sheets, leaving about two inches between. Bake in preheated oven for 10-12 minutes, or until golden brown on top.

P.S. - this is not an official endorsement of Red Lobster or Marcel's Culinary Experience - these are my own personal thoughts and opinions only.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

House hunting update

After my mini-meltdown post about how frustrated I/we are at finding the right home for our family, I received an outpouring of advice and well-wishes. Thank you all for your support while we're on this journey, it is much appreciated!

Since that post, we have taken a look at some other properties that were closer to the train and within a good school system, but there was always at least one deal-breaker. For instance, we saw a really cute older home in Lombard last week, but it didn't fit Brian. Literally - he kept hitting his head on the ceiling between floors or barely fit his body through the tiny door frames. Ahhhh the perils of having an extraordinarily tall hubby (he's 6'5"). Plus, the homes in these areas were almost always at the very upper-end of our price range, and we could get a lot more for our money elsewhere.

We did, however, see a house in the town we're currently living in - granted, it doesn't have a basement, but it has a TON of living area and ample storage, plus is in an older part of town which means bigger trees. It was built in the 70's and is in pretty decent shape - it can use some cosmetic fixes, but has some really great bones. Plus, it's closer to public transportation for me and still close enough to Brian's job.

The catch? There's a neighbor across the street that looks a bit shady, and the school system isn't that great. It's not terrible, it's just not as good as some of the other areas we've been looking at.

Basically, when we find the right house, here's how I'm hoping my attitude will be so I know it's the right one (albeit without the gun, because guns kind of scare me):

So yeah, that's about where we are right now. Hopefully we'll have a positive update in the near future, but until then please keep throwing those good thoughts our way. :)

Tuesday, July 8, 2014


We're making headway on some projects folks, despite the fireworks going off all weekend long (seriously, is there a not-so-loud way to celebrate the Fourth?!) and Owen's teething trials. Here's a quick summary:

1. Resealed the driveway.
We have a blacktop driveway, which is cheaper in the short term but needs a bit of maintenance in the long term. It was a bit faded and in danger of turning into pebbles within the next couple of years if we didn't do anything. According to the neighbors and my parents (who own the joint), apparently it hasn't been sealed in at least the last 10 years, which is a tad too long to go without sealant.

So, we moseyed on down to Lowe's, picked up some sealant and a squeegee and went at 'er. Well, more like Brian went at 'er....I supervised/offered moral support while Owen took his morning nap.

This project was actually completed this weekend, mostly because it had to be for the sealant to correctly set. Brian did a great job, right? I'd like to think it was as a direct result of my awesome supervisory skills.

Okay, I couldn't help myself...so much black space warranted a little Photoshop fun. ;)

2. Cut, glued, sanded and stained wood for a bathroom shelf.
We decided we need more storage space in our bathroom, so we want to install a shelf or two above the toilet. I particularly like this option from West Elm, but not the hefty price tag. Yeah, definitely NOT paying more than $50 for a shelf!

However, since I have a tendency to over-complicate things, I decided I wanted an authentic, weathered look as opposed to whatever we could find at IKEA/Target/Lowe's. Which meant getting two 1x4's, gluing them together, and staining it a rustic color. It's not exactly turning out as I had hoped, mainly because I used too much wood glue. Eventually I'll get it right....right?!

Here's the work in progress. I also need to find some brackets to, oh, ya know, hold the darn thing up.

3. Began painting the office.
Our house has three bedrooms - one is ours, one is Owen's, and the last one we use as an office. Well, more like in an ideal world we'd love to use it as office, because right now it's really more of a dumping ground for old books, electronics, and random items that Owen isn't allowed to play with yet. Here's a before shot - scary, am I right?

To help remedy that situation, I figure a fresh coat of paint is just the ticket to inspire us to actually use the space as we had originally intended. The office is also the one room of the house that we did not get to paint before we moved in, mainly because by that point we were ready to just be settled in.

It's about 40% done right now. Here's a sneak peak at the color we picked out, which is Belle Grove Victory Blue by Valspar. I wanted something that would look good with the wood trim, and this definitely fits the bill. I think it looks pretty sharp so far (even with an iPhone photo!).

Anyone else making progress on any larger projects? Any office organization/beautification ideas?

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Set in stone. Or concrete.

Ahhhhhhh....the best laid plans.

I planned on getting tons more done last week, but I forgot that caring for a toddler is no easy task. I did try though...I couldn't find any fabric I wanted at my local craft store, and I bought the paint for the office after mulling over three different options, so that project should be happening soon. So, things are coming along, albeit slower than I had originally anticipated.

Good thing you're a patient bunch, right? ;)

Over the weekend we went to Green Bay to hang out with my in-laws. Since they have cable, I typically peruse through the many channels we don't get at home and almost always settle on something related to DIY. While there, I stumbled across a show called Yard Crashers. Basically the premise is that a really hot contractor approaches customers at home improvement stores and asks if he can "go home with them". When a person/couple takes him up on it, he completely re-does their yard, with some amazing results.

One of the coolest parts about the show is what they're able to make/build with concrete and cement. Who knew it was so darn tootin' versatile? In poking around the interwebs, here's some concrete projects that may work well in our own yard:

Anyone else work with concrete lately? Any tips/tricks?