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Saturday, November 27, 2010

Snickerdoodle Cupcakes

Kelsey: "What is the equivalent of jewelry for guys?"
Xavier: "Food."

And thus, for our two-year anniversary last month I set out on a quest to find a snickerdoodle cupcake recipe. I read through several blogs and sites before finally landing on none other than Martha Stewart's website. She rarely fails me so I followed her exact recipe, with the exception of the frosting and, once again, stuck with our beloved Buttercream Frosting recipe. Before I would let Xavier have any, we had a delicious anniversary dinner at Harry's Seafood Bar & Grille (I highly recommend the Shrimp & Crawfish Fondeaux) and I got to wear a gorgeous $300 teal halter dress I scored for 40 bucks at BCBG Outlet. Our perfect evening ended with these beauties. Thanks, Martha!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Five Ingredient Chili

When I nabbed this chili recipe over three years ago off of a friend's calendar I had no idea it would become a personal favorite. I was a vegetarian at the time so I used Morning Star beef crumbles, which worked really well. I can still remember the first time I made this for my family I was surprised at how good it was, considering its simplicity. My dad makes an amazing venison chili with onion and chunks of bell pepper so I was certain this wouldn't compare. While I still hold that his chili is unmatchable, this recipe is simple and delicious.



Ingredients
  • 1 lb ground beef or one package Morning Star beef crumbles
  • 1 can mild chili beans (16 oz)
  • 1 can kidney beans (16 oz)
  • 16oz jar of salsa (medium)
  • 1.25oz packet chili seasoning
  • (optional) cheese & sour cream

Directions
  • Brown ground beef and pour off grease. If using Morning Star "meat," skip this step.
  • Add ground beef, chili beans, kidney beans, salsa, 1/2 cup water, and chili seasoning in a large pot.
  • On medium heat bring to a boil. Simmer for 10-15 minutes.
  • Serve with cheese & sour cream

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Guest Blog: Lauren's Quick & Easy Popcorn

Our first guest blog from Lauren! Lauren also helped with the Red Velvet Cupcakes with Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting.

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Since I’ve made multiple guest appearances on the blog it was about time I made my own guest blog post. I heard about this recipe from a friend and will most likely never buy microwave popcorn again! This is a good alternative and has no chemicals or additives like store bought popcorn.

Ingredients
  • 3 tbsp unpopped popcorn kernels
  • olive oil or non stick cooking spray
  • brown paper bag
  • scotch tape
  • seasoning of choice

Directions
  • In a regular sized brown paper bag measure out about 3 tablespoons of unpopped popcorn kernels.
  • If you want, add seasoning after spraying kernels for one second with olive oil spray or nonstick cooking spray so that seasoning sticks. ( warning the bag will look very greasy but the popcorn will not turn out greasy, I promise)
  • Fold down the bag one or two times and scotch tape it shut. Microwave for about 1 minute and 30 seconds. If not all popcorn is popped you can easily remove the finished popcorn and continue popping the rest of the kernels
  • At this point you can add liquid ingredients like melted butter, chocolate, caramel etc.
This is a convenient, cheaper and healthier way to have popcorn anytime you want.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Blog Redesign

Goodbye picture bubbles! You will never see these beauties again. Paired with the fork/spoon/knife background, we decided it was just too much going on. After designing the new header in anticipation of making aprons, we realized it was a great fit for the blog as well.

A design overhaul is not as easy as it seems. We thought we could just switch out banners and "voila!", redesign over, but when we changed the header image the colorful spoon/fork/knife background competed for dominance. One had to go! DUN DUN DUN. You can obviously see which won that battle. The background was cute and we loved the color scheme but it was a busy pattern and we figured we could keep the color scheme anyway. Our new look is clean & simplistic.

What do you think?

By the end of the night we were exhausted and slaphappy. I can't believe a quick header change turned into a 3 hour makeover! We truly wish we had videotaped the experience to share. Here are some winning quotes from last night:
  • "That shit aint integrated." [Megan] (in reference to social networking)
  • "I can't believe we're looking for vibrant wood!" [Kelsey]
  • "It's obviously clearly not professional." [Megan] (in reference to our hardcore design skillz)
  • "Kelsey, I think you just saved our lives." [Megan] (not to be dramatic or anything)

Friday, November 12, 2010

Buffalo Chicken Macaroni & Cheese

A few weeks ago I saw a Buffalo Mac & Cheese recipe from Rita at Creatively Domestic. I told Xavier I would be making it for him and asked if he wanted anything else to go along with it. "Buffalo wings," he said. I felt slightly intimidated, having never made wings OR this particular mac n cheese recipe so I decided to combine them. Rita's recipe was adapted from Our Family Eats which had already been adapted from Food Network, which included chicken. This my friends is the evolution of a recipe. Here is my version, which received rave reviews from the roomies and the boyfriends.


Ingredients
Fills a 9 x 13inch casserole dish
  • 1 lb macaroni or other pasta (I used bow-tie)
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbps all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp dry mustard
  • 2-1/2 cups half and half
  • 3/4 cup Texas Pete Buffalo-Style Wing Sauce
  • 1 lb sharp cheddar, cubed (one large block is 1 lb)
  • 2/3 cup sour cream
  • 3 cups shredded rotisserie chicken

Directions
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and lightly butter a 9 x 13inch casserole dish
  • Bring water to a boil and cook macaroni until al dente (read package)
  • Melt butter in a large saucepan on medium. Whisk in flour and dry mustard. Add half and half and hot sauce and stir until thick, about 2 minutes.  Add cheese, stirring until melted and smooth, and whisk in sour cream. Remove from heat.
  • Pour half of the macaroni in the casserole dish. Layer with chicken and then remainder of macaroni.  Pour cheese sauce evenly over top.
  • Bake about 30 minutes or until cheese bubbles.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Buttercream Frosting

Megan discovered a fantastic buttercream frosting recipe on Foodnetwork.com that we made a few alterations to and have been using over and over. It's quick and delicious every time. Not even Lauren can mess up this frosting!

 

Ingredients 
Servings: will frost 12-18 cupcakes, depending on how thick you frost
  • 2.5 cups confectioner sugar
  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons milk

Directions
  • Cream sugar into softened butter on low until well-incorporated
  • Increase speed to medium and blend about 3 minutes 
  • Add vanilla and cream and beat an additional minute
Tip: To make the frosting whiter, use either clear vanilla extract or add in a single drop of blue food dye.

Buttercream Frosting

Megan discovered a fantastic buttercream frosting recipe on Foodnetwork.com that we made a few alterations to and have been using over and over. It's quick and delicious every time. Not even Lauren can mess up this frosting!

 

Ingredients 
Servings: will frost 12-18 cupcakes, depending on how thick you frost
  • 2.5 cups confectioner sugar
  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons milk

Directions
  • Cream sugar into softened butter on low until well-incorporated
  • Increase speed to medium and blend about 3 minutes 
  • Add vanilla and cream and beat an additional minute
Tip: To make the frosting whiter, use either clear vanilla extract or add in a single drop of blue food dye.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Spiced Pumpkin Seeds

To me pumpkin seeds taste like fall! Growing up every year my family would pick one pumpkin and carve it together. Then we'd have a blast sifting through the pumpkin guts collecting seeds for roasting. When I carved my pumpkin this year I was feeling nostalgic so I decided to try my hand at roasting up the seeds.

Ingredients:
  • fresh pumpkin seeds (I used some Butternut Squash seeds too - just for fun)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter


Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Clean the pumpkin seeds and place them in a medium sized tupperware container with melted butter. Put the lid on and shake until all seeds are coated.
  3. Spread the seeds out into one layer on a roasting pan.
  4. Bake on the top rack until the seeds are browned to satisfaction. Note: Be sure to stir the seeds about halfway through the cooking process.
  5. Remove from oven and transfer into your tupperware. Add the spices and replace the lid. Shake until the seeds are evenly coated with the spice mixture. Note: Seeds will last up to a week in an air tight container.
Cook time: 15-20 minutes.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Parmesan Orzo Pasta

When I was home over the summer my mom professed her new love for orzo pasta. Curious, I finally bought some after eying it in the grocery store a few weeks in a row. I thought, how do I make this? My mom had suggested adding it in with white rice in the rice maker but since I didn't have any white rice I decided to use what I had on hand and be creative. Paired with teriyaki chicken, this parmesan orzo pasta was a great side. I used dried basil but fresh basil would have been fantastic! I added cayenne for a little kick and a dash of milk to smooth out the texture of the parmesan. Next time? Less butter! The recipe below has a tablespoon less than I used. Enjoy!



Ingredients
Servings: Makes about 4 cups
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 1/2 cups orzo pasta
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne red pepper
  • 1/4 tsp garlic salt
  • 1/3 cup parmesan cheese
  • 1 tbsp milk

Directions
  • Melt butter in medium sauce pan on medium-high heat
  • Stir in orzo until coated with butter. Stir occasionally for about 5 minutes or until orzo browns slightly.
  • Stir in chicken broth and bring to a rolling boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook for 10 minutes.
  • Add basil, cayenne red pepper, garlic salt, parmesan and milk. Serve.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies & Maple Cream Cheese

After seeing tons of whoopie pie blogs recently, I had to try out a recipe to figure out what the big deal is all about. I had never heard of them before and suddenly they're everywhere. I saw a recipe for Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Maple Cream Cheese Filling on Brown Eyed Baker and decided it was the perfect thing for a potluck so Lauren, Jen and I made our first whoopie pies. Jen has a way with confectioner sugar and Lauren is the frosting queen, so it was clearly a dream team.

The maple cream cheese frosting was by far my favorite part and I would love to make it again for a cake or cupcakes, though Megan and I have sworn off cupcakes for awhile. Mine turned out slightly larger than Michelle's, even though I used a tablespoon scoop, but that would be the only thing I'd change if I made them again. I definitely recommend following the instructions when it comes to keeping them in the fridge for 30 minutes before serving! The frosting needs to harden a bit, especially if you plan on transporting them. Overall it was a great recipe with great flavors and I would definitely make them again.


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Carrot Cake Cupcakes

For my co-worker Sheila's birthday I made Carrot Cake Cupcakes from a Food Network recipe sent to me by my friend Stephen. They were a hit in the office! I went in with 21 and left with only 3.. but I must admit, I ate two myself.



Ingredients
Servings: 24 cupcakes
CAKE
  • 3 sticks, plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda 
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon 
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups grated carrots
  • 1 cup chopped toasted pecans

CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature 
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 3 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Directions

CAKE
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place paper cupcake cups into 24 muffin tins.
  • In a large bowl, cream the sugar and butter until well incorporated. 
  • In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt
  • Add the dry ingredients into butter mixture, alternating with the eggs, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla and mix.
  • Add the carrots and beat on medium speed until well incorporated, about 2 minutes. Fold in pecans.
  • Pour into cupcake tins and bake about 20 minutes.
FROSTING
  • In a large bowl, cream the cream cheese and butter until fluffy
  • Add the sugar slowly while beating. Add the vanilla.
  • Frost when cake is cool!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Meatless Monday: Baked Ginger Tofu Eggrolls

I’ve been craving Asian food lately, so I decided to try my hand at making some. Egg rolls are always my favorite part of any Asian meal, but this was my first time making them at home. I must say they were surprisingly easy! This recipe was so flavorful and fast - I will definitely be making it again. Plus as an added bonus they’re way healthier than egg rolls you can buy prepackaged in the store.



Ingredients:

  • 4 oz extra firm tofu, diced into ¼ inch cubes
  • 1 cup Asian salad mix (shredded cabbage and carrots)
  • 7 egg roll shells (I found them in the refrigerated section of my produce department)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, diced
  • ¼ cup diced onion
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seed oil
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Sauté tofu, onion, ginger, salt and pepper in the lime juice, sesame oil, and soy sauce over low heat for 5 minutes; or until most of the liquid is cooked off and tofu begins to brown.
  2. Add in the Asian salad and sauté for an additional 2 minutes until cabbage is wilted. Remove from heat and cool.
  3. Place two teaspoons filling in the center of each egg roll shell and roll following instructions on the package.
  4. Place on greased cookie sheet flap side down and mist (or brush) the tops with oil.
  5. Bake in a 400 degree oven for 15 minutes or until brown and crispy. Be sure to flip the egg rolls halfway through.

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