Saturday, November 12, 2011

A Few of my Favorite Things

Hi y'all! Today's post will deviate from the norm. The world of baking, cooking, and recipes will be temporarily replaced by a glimpse into some of my favorite beauty products. A conversation on the phone with my mom today prompted me to make a list of some (or many) of my favorite, holy grail items. I decided to share some in hopes that you will find one or two that make as big of a difference in your life as they have in mine.

Let's start with the eyes (window into the soul?)...

1. Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Eraser Dark Circles in #60 Illuminator/Brightener

~ I love, love, love this stuff. I use the spongey applicator to apply a few swipes/dots under each eye and gently use the tip of my finger to blend before applying my eye make up. It smoothes, illuminates, and is just overall a great product.

2. Neutrogena Age Defense Under Eye Cream

~ I started using this little guy about a month ago. I felt like the skin under my eyes was beginning to look tired and dull, which was aging me a bit. I started using a few dots of this underneath my eyes and toward the outer corners, and have noticed a major decrease in fine lines, and just an overall more awake appearance.

3. Maybelline Lash Blast Mascara in Very Black

~ I have tried other mascaras time and time again, but keep coming back to this mascara. I have used it fairly religiously since high school. Plumps and lengthens.

Next for the hair...

1. Suave Dry Shampoo

~ Looove this stuff. I have gotten my hair used to only being washed about once every 5 days. I know, I know. It sounds gross. But I had been hearing how much better it is on your hair to wash it less frequently, and it's true. I gradually got my hair used to being washed less, and just spray a little of this on my roots for the "off" days and brush it through. Smells fresh, and absorbs any excess oil.

2. Macadamia Natural Oil Deep Repair Masque

~ Can you say, magic? I use this deep conditioning mask predominantly on my ends (from the nape of my neck down), comb it through, and let my hair naturally dry.

Skin care...

1. Neutrogena Daily Defense Moisturizer with SPF 30 for Sensitive Skin

~ I use this as my daily moisturizer under my make up on my face and neck. It works wonderfully as a primer for my make up, as well as being a light moisturizer.

2. Equate Healthy Face Lotion with Alpha-Hydroxy Acid (compare to Neutrogena Healthy Skin Lotion with SPF15)

~ This lotion is too heavy for use during the day for me. It tends to make me look oily if I use it under my make up. However, a pump of this for my neck and a pump for around my mouth and forehead a few times a week sloughs off the dull skin and replaces it with bright, younger looking skin.

3. Neutrogena Oil-free Acne Stress Control Face Wash

~ I have been a Proactiv user for years. However, as I have gotten into my twenties I have noticed my skin doesn't consistently need such a strong product, and in fact has been getting dry and flaky. I started using two pumps of this morning and night based on another blogger's recommendation, and LOVE it. It removes make up wonderfully, and cleanses skin without overdrying. I only use Proactiv face wash about twice a month (around my period) mixed in with a pump of the foaming wash for an added boost.

4. Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Lotion with SPF

~ Living in Florida, a lot of people back North think I should have a tan. Quite the contrary, as I purposely avoid much sun exposure. I would much rather get an occasional glow from a tube than succumb to premature aging or skin cancer. Rant over. I apply this daily lotion to the tops of my hands, ears, and feet if exposed.

Last but not least...make-up

1. LOreal Colour Riche Legloss - I like a lot of the colors but prefer Nude Touch

~ LOVE this gloss. Just a dab of it stays in place, moisturizes, and gives lips a subtle glow.

2. MAC Studio Fix Powder

~ This is a splurge product, but my skin honestly breaks out from most other similar products. Plus, one compact lasts me about 4-6 months. I simply apply my under eye concealer and conceal any blemishes, then put a thin layer of this powder on top.

3. MAC Blush in Pink Swoon

~ Another splurge, but totally worth it. I have tried SO many bright pink blushes that look great upon application, only to quickly disappear throughout the day. This MAC blush is a winner. I apply a small amount over my bronzer just to the apples of my cheeks for a sweet, youthful-looking glow.

That's all folks. Trust me, there are a LOT more products I could recommend, but these are the ones I have incorporated into my daily skincare routine and recommend most highly. Hope this helps someone :)


Thursday, October 27, 2011

Caramel & Pumpkin

Caramel & Pumpkin. No, not together...although, that could be interesting. I was really in a Fall sweets mood yesterday, and did not feel like writing a paper for grad school, so here are the results:

Caramel Corn Recipe

7 quarts plain popped popcorn
2 cups dry roasted peanuts (optional)
2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup margarine
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1.Place the popped popcorn into two shallow greased baking pans. You may use roasting pans, jelly roll pans, or disposable roasting pans. Add the peanuts to the popped corn if using. Set aside.
2.Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F (120 degrees C). Combine the brown sugar, corn syrup, margarine and salt in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring enough to blend. Once the mixture begins to boil, boil for 5 minutes while stirring constantly.
3.Remove from the heat, and stir in the baking soda and vanilla. The mixture will be light and foamy. Immediately pour over the popcorn in the pans, and stir to coat. Don't worry too much at this point about getting all of the corn coated.
4.Bake for 1 hour, removing the pans, and giving them each a good stir every 15 minutes. Line the counter top with waxed paper. Dump the corn out onto the waxed paper and separate the pieces. Allow to cool completely, then store in airtight containers or resealable bags.

**Folks, I cannot rave about this recipe enough. Everyone who has tried it, has melted as much as the caramel in their mouths. Trust me, it's goooood.

Pumpkin Dip
- my good friend Audra, and

1 15 oz can of pumpkin pie mix
1 5 oz box of instant vanilla pudding
1 16 oz container of cool whip {low fat}
1/2 tbsp Pumpkin Pie Spice
1/2 tbsp Cinnamon

Hand mix well, all ingredients together except for the cinnamon. Chill for several hours in the fridge, and sprinkle with cinnamon before serving. Serve with apple slices, graham crackers, nilla wafers, whatever floats your boat. :)



Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Beans, Chilis, and Stews...Oh my!

Hi friends! I hope you all are having a good week. I went a little crazy today, in an effort to avoid writing my grad school papers (sorry, Mom). My husband always teases me that I am MOST productive around the house when I am being LEAST productive in schoolwork. It's true. I would much rather be cooking or prepping than reading or writing.

Anyway, enough talk. This is already going to be a pretty lengthy post. I didn't take pictures today, because I feel like it's not so exciting seeing these meals in their freezer bags. I will update with pictures as I make a few. Here are my newest freezer to crockpot meals. You'll notice they are much warmer and heartier, thanks to Fall :) I ended up making about 11 VERY full bags today. Honestly, about enough food for a month and a half, lunches and dinners, and I spent...get ready...a whopping $80.00 on it all. Yeah, it's like that. Try this people, I'm serious! Without further ranting, here are the recipes of the month (and a half?). Enjoy!

**All of these recipes are adapted recipes from the Fix it and Forget it Crockpot cookbook.**

Barbeque Beans and Weenies

4 15 ounce cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed
4 cups bbq sauce of choice
2 15 ounce packages cut up hot dogs or lil smokies
Mix together, freeze, thaw, and cook on low for 4-5 hours.

Presidential Chili

1 pound lean ground meat (I used turkey)
5 to 6 medium tomatoes
4 garlic cloves
1 large onion
1 green bell pepper
1 15 ounce can kidney beans
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon basil
1 to 2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Mix all ingredients together, bag and freeze, thaw, and cook on low 7-9 hours.
**FYI, I do NOT pre-cook or brown poultry or lean meats. They do not have enough fat to worry about.**

White Bean and Apple Chili

3 tablespoons butter (added the morning of)
2 15 ounce cans of white beans, drained and rinsed
1 onion chopped
2 green apples diced
3 garlic cloves minced
2 teaspoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon cumin
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1/2 cup plain nonfat yogurt
1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar (added when ready to serve)
Mix ingredients, freeze, thaw, and cook on low 8 hours.


2 15 ounce cans beans of your choice (I used kidney), rinsed and drained
1 15 ounce can tomatoes with juice
1 15 ounce can corn and juice
2 cups chopped frozen vegetables
3 cups chicken or vegetable broth
Mix ingredients, freeze, thaw, and cook on low 8-10 hours.

Harvest Stew

1 yellow onion chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 sweet potato, chopped
3 red potatoes, chopped
1 acorn squash, chopped
1 pound ground turkey or chicken
1 15 ounce can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 10 ounce can tomatoes and chilies (Rotel)
4 cups chicken broth
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
**I did not have cloves or allspice, and opted to use pumpkin pie spice instead**
Mix ingredients, freeze, thaw, and cook on low 7-9 hours.

Apple, Cheddar, and Turkey Meatballs

1 1/2 pounds extra lean turkey
1 large egg
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 green apple shredded
1/2 cup sharp cheddar shredded
1/2 cup dried unsweetened cranberries
Mix all ingredients, make golf ball size balls, freeze, thaw, and cook for 8 hours on low.

Brown Sugar Chicken

12-14 chicken thighs
1 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon black pepper
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2/3 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup Sprite or Sierra Mist
Mix all ingredients, freeze, thaw, and cook for 6-9 hours on low.

Sloppy Joes

1 pound lean ground meat (turkey)
1 1.5 ounce packet sloppy joe mix
1 6 ounce can tomato paste
1 cup warm water (added morning of)
Mix all ingredients, freeze, thaw, and cook on low 6-7 hours.


Thursday, October 6, 2011

Freezer to Crockpot Meals...Again

I.can't.stop. But I don't want to either! I am LOVING this whole DUMP crockpot method. I cannot tell you folks how much time and money it is saving me during the month. I created some new ones based on recipes I found in my Fix it and Forget it cookbook. My favorites are definitely the Chili and the Bean Soup, although the hubby was partial to the Teriyaki Drummettes. My suggestion, try them all. ;)

Sweet and Spicy Chicken Wings

4 pounds chicken wings and/or drumsticks
1 (14 ounce) jar chipotle salsa
1 (11 ounce) jar apricot preserves
Vegetables of your choice (I used fresh apricots, peaches, and red and yellow peppers)
As usual, freeze, thaw for 30 minutes, and cook on low for about 8 hours.

Teriyaki Drummettes

2 pounds chicken drumettes
½ cup soy sauce
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon dry sherry
3 garlic cloves minced
Vegetables of your choice (I used a large frozen bag of Asian inspired veggies, including snow pea pods, carrots, water chestnuts, etc.)
Same process as above for cooking.

Bean Soup

1 (16 ounce) bag fifteen (or sixteen, whatever you can find) dry bean soup mix (discard flavor packet)
1 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons of your favorite spice blend
1 (14 ounce) can Italian style diced tomatoes with liquid
Salt and pepper to taste
**Add enough water to completely cover the beans, plus an additional 3 inches or so if making this without freezing. IF FREEZING, only use enough water to cover about half of what will resemble a frozen bean block, and add more if you see fit later on. Also, I did notice that when freezing dried beans, they take longer to thaw. Therefore, I typically cook this soup overnight on low for about 10-12 hours.**

**I added sausage to this. Just your regular old chain of cooked sausage - turkey, italian seasoned, whatever you choose, cut/diced and tossed in for flavor and to beef it up a bit for the men. However, this soup is great with just beans as a vegetarian option.**

Basic Chili

1 pound ground meat (turkey works great), browned and drained
4 (15 ounce) cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 onion diced
8 garlic cloves, minced
1 large (29 ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
1 tablespoon Tabasco sauce (tastes fine without, too)
3 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 whole jalapeno peppers

I really hope you enjoy these. They are very adaptable, so feel free to play around a little. Oh, and I HIGHLY suggest dancing and listening to music whilst prepping these puppies. It is quite enjoyable (for me and the neighbors).


Friday, September 23, 2011

Monster Smoothie

Hi y'all! I will be posting next week sometime my newest frozen crockpot meal additions, but for now, I wanted to share a quick smoothie recipe.

I don't always feel like I am getting enough fresh fruits and veggies during the day (especially veggies), so here is my solution. I have heard that the addition of spinach to fruit smoothies adds nothing but nutrients (no taste), and it is so true! Basically, this Monster Smoothie includes the regulars: any fruit you want, a splash of dairy, soy, or almond milk, a tablespoon of greek or regular yogurt, honey, etc, BUT with the addition of nutrient-rich Spinach. Here is the actual recipe. Feel free to change or adapt as you wish. I change it up depending on what fruits look good at the store that week, or what needs cleaned out of my fridge. This makes a GREAT breakfast, and keeps you feeling full and satisfied. Enjoy!

1 banana, roughly chopped (I usually use 2 bananas)
4 or 5 strawberries
1/2 cup fresh blueberries
1 small peach, peeled and roughly chopped
1 heaping cup (or more) fresh spinach leaves, thoroughly rinsed
splash vanilla soy milk (or dairy or almond)
1 tablespoon Greek yogurt (or regular)
2 teaspoons honey
1/2 cup crushed ice

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Serve immediately.


Sunday, September 4, 2011

Freezer to Crockpot Meals Part II

Hi y'all! I'm so excited to share these new recipes with you, I don't even know what to say in my intro today! I ran out of frozen crockpot meals last week, and knew it was time to prep some more for this month. My in-laws are in town for a visit right now (yay!), and my sweet mother-in-law assisted me in the kitchen today while bagging these up.

I could not, for the life of me, find many recipes for meals that involve prepping, freezing, thawing, and crockpotting (now a word). I easily found both regular freezer meal and crockpot recipes, but not the combination of the two. So, I decided to create some recipes myself based loosely on regular crockpot recipes I have wanted to try. Here is what I tried today. I will update when I actually heat and try them, to let you know what needs to be changed. The following recipes provided 8one gallon sized freezer bags of food, which will be enough for about 20 meals. Let me know if you try them. Enjoy!


No-Peeking Peking Chicken

8 bone in chicken thighs
salt and pepper
3/4 cup chopped scallions
4 cloves garlic
1/4 cups soy sauce
3 tbsp. honey
1 tbsp. ginger
1/4 tsp sesame oil
1 bag frozen corn kernels
1 bag frozen snow pea pods
1 red pepper chopped

Chicken and Corn Soup

1 lb red potatoes
1 lb sweet potatoes
4 lbs chicken thighs
4 cups chicken broth (which I will add the morning of)
4 scallions
4 cloves garlic
salt and pepper
1 bag half ears of frozen corn
2 red peppers chopped

Roast and Vegetables

2 lb chuck roast, cut into cubes
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 large onion cut into 8ths
1 bag baby carrots
1/2 teaspoon celery or onion salt
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 (4 ounce) can sliced mushrooms, DO NOT DRAIN
2 cans condensed tomato soup
2 beef boullion cubes, softened
1 can Rotel tomatoes
1 can whole kernel corn, DRAINED
6-8 small red potatoes, cubed

Garlic Chicken

2 pounds chicken thighs
2 cloves minced garlic
4 tablespoons dijon mustard
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 medium onion
2 large green peppers
1 red pepper
1 zucchini

Mix all of the ingredients for each recipe together and divide evenly into two, 1 gallon sized freezer bags per recipe. Seal, and freeze. On the day of, thaw the bag on the counter for about 30 minutes, dump into the crockpot, and cook on low for 6-8 hours.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Freezer to Crockpot Cooking

Hi, everyone. I am super excited to share this blog entry with you! I was losing brain cells wandering around Pinterest the other day, when I stumbled upon a genius idea. Stephanie, Mama and Baby Love blogger, has perfected the art of freezer cooking with slow cooker recipes. To save time, money, and sanity, she has come up with a great routine. I followed this routine today like an exact science, and I am already thrilled with the outcome.

Here's the scoop:

Stephanie shared 3 recipes for this month. Her recipes provide enough food for two gallon size freezer bags, which is about enough for 4 meals per bag. That equals 2 dinners, and 2 leftover meals, per bag, which equals about 24 meals between the 6 bags. Cook one or two recipes a week, and you're golden for dinners, AND some lunches, for about a month. The three recipes I followed are below. We are trying the Chicken Curry tonight, and it is smelling amazing. Please try this, I am telling you, it will change your life.

Healthy Mama Barbecue Chicken

3 medium unpeeled sweet potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
2 large green pepper, cut into strips
1 large red pepper, cut into strips
1 zucchini, chopped
1 medium onion, sliced
1 tablespoon quick cooking tapioca (I used corn starch)
2 pounds chicken thighs or drumsticks
1 8-ounce can of tomato sauce
2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon yellow mustard
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt

Dump everything into two gallon freezer bags, shake it up, seal, label and put in the freezer.

Stephanie's Goulash

3 cups chopped onions
2.5 cups coarsely chopped green sweet peppers
4 large beets, peeled and diced
2 cups of carrots
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 pounds beef stew meat, cut into one inch cubes
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
4 teaspoons Hungarian paprika or regular paprika (I used regular)
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 cups hot cooked noodles
1/2 dairy sour cream

Dump everything into two gallon freezer bags, shake it up, seal, label and put in the freezer.

Chicken Curry

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 tablespoons curry powder
1.5 teaspoons ground cumin
1.5 pounds chicken thighs, cut into 1 inch pieces
2 cups chopped peeled sweet potatoes (I used red)
2.5 cups baby carrots
2 cup coarsely chopped mango (I used peaches)
1 cup chopped onion
1 zucchini chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
chicken bouillon (I used 1 cup of water and 1 cube)
.5 cup raisins (for garnish)
.5 cup peanuts or cashews (for garnish)

Dump everything into two gallon freezer bags, shake it up, seal, label and put in the freezer.

To cook, take out of freezer and set on counter for about 30 minutes, then dump contents of bag into slow cooker. Cook on high for 4 hours, or low for 8 hours.


Sunday, August 14, 2011

One-Dish Wonder: Chicken Enchilada Casserole

Hola! I have been trying to find easy, creative ways to incorporate more vegetables into my cooking. This recipe = lots of veggies, and an easy, one-dish bake. Enjoy!

Chicken Enchilada Casserole
- Good Housekeeping Magazine

2 tbsp veg. oil
1 lb. chicken-breast tenders cut into 1/2 inch chunks
salt and pepper
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup water
2 lg zucchini, cut into small spears
2 cups frozen corn kernels, thawed
2 cups salsa verde
1/2 c. reduced fat sour cream
1/2 cup packed fresh cilantro leaves, chopped
12 corn tortillas (I could only find one small size for these in my store)
5 oz. queso anejo or cotija (aged Mexican cheeses) or feta cheese, crumbed 1 cup

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease 3 quart shallow baking dish.
2) In 12 inch skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil on medium-high. Season chicken with 1/8 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper. Add to skillet in single layer and sear 2 minutes. Turn chicken over; cook 1 to 2 minutes or until just browned. Transfer to large bowl.
3) Add onion and water to skillet; cook 5 minutes or until tender, stirring and scraping pan. Add to chicken in bowl.
4) To skillet, add remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Add zucchini, salt and pepper. Cook 4 minutes or until browned and just tender, stirring occasionally. Transfer to bowl with chicken. To skillet, add corn and cook 3 minutes or until browned. Transfer to bowl with chicken. Stir in salsa, sour cream, and half of cilantro until well mixed.
5) In prepared dish, arrange 4 tortillas in single layer. Spread evenly with one-third of chicken mixture and then one-third of cheese. Repeat layering twice.
6) Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until hot. Garnish with remaining cilantro.


Tuesday, August 2, 2011

All Souped Up - Spinach and Tortellini Soup

Hi all! First of all, thank you so much for your thoughts and prayers this past week. It was definitely rough, but I consider you all to be a part of my speedy recovery thus far. Secondly, my mom was here this past weekend and was a HUGE help around the house. In addition to cleaning and re-organizing my home, she also brought with her some new recipes for me to try. Tyler was getting home late from work this evening, and I did not honestly feel like cooking. However, I remembered this little number my mom brought for me to try, and figured I would quickly whip it up. GOOD CHOICE. It was delish. Light but filling, flavorful, just trust me. It took me about 10 minutes total to make, and we have happy bellies AND leftovers. Enjoy :)

Spinach & Tortellini Soup

Bring 4 cups stock and 1 cup water to a boil in a large saucepan. Reduce heat, add a 9-ounce package of tortellini, and simmer until pasta is tender, about 6 minutes. Stir in a 6-ounce package of baby spinach and cook until just wilted. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Ladle soup into bowls and shave or grate Parmesan cheese on top.

See, told you it was quick, easy, and hopefully painless. ;)


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Bacon, Lettuce, & Tomato Bucatini

Hi friends and family! Thought I'd share a yummy recipe I tried successfully this week. I made a few alterations, which I'll share, as well.

Bacon, Lettuce, & Tomato Bucatini
with garlic bread crumbs
Makes 2 servings
Time: about 45 minutes

For the Garlic Bread Crumbs -
***I honestly didn't make these - just added garlic to the pasta sauce mixture, and added regular store-bought Italian seasoned bread crumbs at the end***

1 clove garlic
1 cup Italian bread cubes
1 tsp olive oil
Salt to taste

For the Pasta -
2 strips bacon, diced
1 cup halved grape tomatoes
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 cup thinly sliced leeks (my first time cooking with them and LOVED them)
1/4 cup dry white wine (I had red so red is what I used)
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 tsp red wine vinegar
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
4 oz. dry bucatini (I used thin spaghetti)
1 cup fresh spinach leaves
1/4 tsp minced fresh thyme (I used dry)

Bring a pot of salted walter to a boil for the pasta.
Mince garlic for the bread crumbs in a food processor. Add cubed bread and process until coarse. Heat oil in a nonstick skillet over medium; add bread crumbs and toast until golden, 3-4 minutes, stirring often. Season with salt; set aside.

Cook bacon for the pasta in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon to a paper-towel lined plate. Pour off all but 1 Tbsp. drippings. Carmelize tomatoes and sugar in drippings over medium heat. Cook until tomatoes begin to brown, 5 minutes. Add leeks; saute until wilted, 3-4 minutes.

Deglaze skillet with wine; simmer until liquid is nearly evaporated. Add broth, vinegar, and pepper flakes. Simmer until liquid is reduced by a third, about 5 minutes.

Cook bucatini or spaghetti in boiling water according to package directions. Add the spinach, thyme, and cooked bacon to the tomato mixture. Transfer cooked pasta from cooking water to the skillet using tongs. Toss to coat; season with salt. Divide pasta among plates and sprinkle with bread crumbs.



Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Champagne & Cupcakes Girl's Night

Hi loves! For those of you requesting photos, sorry it has taken me so long to do this. A few weekends ago, I hosted a Champagne and Cupcakes themed girl's night for a fun group of girl friends. I provided the (homemade) cupcakes and mini quiche, my BFF Kristy provided amazing Spinach and Artichoke dip and Cucumber Humus, and everyone brought a bottle of wine or champagne. It was a night filled with fun, music, rock band, and...calories. I could go on and on about how fun it was to plan, but I'd rather just show you some pictures. Oh, and for the cupcakes, I chose to bake Pina Colada (my fave), Vanilla, and Chocolate Velvet. I'd be glad to share the recipes if needed. Enjoy :)


Sunday, May 22, 2011

A Recipe Revamp

Today was the day. The day I finally pulled out my baskets and boxes of quickly perused cooking magazines and tightly folded recipes, and organized my collection. There are so many recipes I find while going through magazines and online that I collect and set aside, only to lose or forget in the growing pile next to my bed. I have been trying to get back to better strategizing meals for the week, it's just been difficult with varying schedules. However, I really think my new organizational strategy will help. Here's how I did it:

My sweet Mother-in-law purchased me a pink (perfect)binder, and compiled some family recipes to store inside. I have used several of the recipes, but have yet to add to the binder..until now. I went through my pile of cooking magazines, found dog-eared pages of previous interest, and started making piles. A pile of dinner recipes, dessert recipes, and misc. recipes like fondue or side dishes. After organizing them into piles, I 3-hole punched them, and organized them into those sections in the binder. After organizing the binder with printed out internet recipes (thank you,, magazine recipes, and family recipes (some sent almost weekly by my wonderful mom :), I disposed of the leftover magazines. What a space saver! I also took this time to go through the recipe box given to me by my beautiful Nanny, and reorganize those on recipe cards, as well.

After organizing the binder and box and disposing of leftover magazines, I decided to use a pull-out folder in the back of the binder to store recipes for the week. I placed three recipes I wanted to try this week in one side of the folder, and my grocery list and coupons for the week on the other side (also thanks to my mother). This way, I can just grab and go. Looking forward to keeping this up. It seems sooo much more convenient.

Have a restful Sunday!


P.S. Please ignore or at least pretend to ignore the spread of puppy and kitty toys on the carpet in the background. Let's just say the animals enjoyed having us home to play with today.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Two Sweet Finds

Hi all :) For my female friends and family, I just had to show you my two great finds from this past weekend. I have been searching for two pair of shoes for months now. 1. Dressy black flip flops, to replace a pair I had for years and just recently bit the dust AND 2. A great pair of nude pumps. Well, after scanning stores for months, I finally came upon these two beauties, both at Marshall's.

The black pair, I just love. They are shiny but not overdone, and who could help but love those little bows?! I'm a sucker for bows...and 16 bucks?!...I can handle that.

The nude pumps were a STEAL. They are Tahari, which is one of my favorite brands of dress pants. Originally priced at around $100, marked down to $75, then $35, then...get this...$20. Twenty dollars for these babies.

Needless to say, I was pretty excited about these finds, and have worn both already. Here are a few quick pictures of them. Happy Spring/Summer Shoe Shopping, ladies (!


Monday, April 18, 2011

A Cooking Calm

What is it about cooking that soothes the soul? I'm not exactly sure what the scientific explanation is, but here are a few things that I know contribute to my love of cooking.

~ The aroma of spices and mingling scents
~ The therapy of chopping and dicing
~ The ability to create something predictable, after an unpredictable day
~ A creative outlet
~ The joy on the faces of those for whom you cook/bake
~ The anticipation building as the "time cook" button counts down while a new recipe cooks in the oven
~ Setting the table for a special dinner
~ The entertaining that goes along with it
~ Using a tried and true family recipe, measurements worn by the fingers of beloved relatives


Sunday, March 27, 2011

Spring Craft Idea

Hi all :) With this time on my hands, I decided to channel a little creativity and make a Spring wreath. I have made one for all other seasons, but did not have one bright and cheery for this season. I looked online for some inspiration, and decided on yarn for wrapping my wreath form. I chose blue, as it reminded me of bird's eggs, and found these flowers in the wedding aisle of Michael's. Here are some pictures of the process, and the finished product. I enjoyed myself!

I secured the beginning and the end of the yarn with a little hot glue, and wrapped the rest. It probably took about an hour and a half to wrap that sucker, but it's easy work..and kind of relaxing. Enjoy!


Sunday, March 20, 2011

Spring Fever

I have really been feeling under the weather lately, so I decided maybe a Spring themed post would brighten my day, and hopefully yours. Since I haven't been feeling well, any spare time that I have has been spent resting. During these rest periods, I've had some time to look through magazines and websites, curious to find out what this Spring's trends will be. After doing some research, there are definitely some trends I will absolutely be taking part in, and some...not so much. Here are my finds for Spring 2011.

Looks I will definitely be trying:

Electric Pink Lips

Pastel Polishes

"Arm Candy" - brightly colored purses

Cobalt Blue everything

High-Waist Trousers

Colored Denim

Anything Honeysuckle colored

Looks I'm Not Loving


Neon Make-up

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Breakfast for Dinner

Hope everyone is having a wonderful weekend! Just a quick recipe I felt was definitely worth sharing. I am a big "Breakfast for Dinner" lover. Sometimes, when you're just too tired to cook something involved but don't feel like eating out, breakfast food is the perfect alternative. Something about eating eggs and bread for dinner screams "ultimate comfort food" to me.

My mom sent me this recipe, which she pulled out of Rachel Ray Magazine. It's more of a gourmet breakfast for dinner than my usual Chocolate Chip Pancakes, but just go with it. ;)

Apple, Cheddar and Bacon Monte Cristos
Serves 4

12 slices good-quality bacon
8 slices french bread
1/2 to 3/4 pound extra-sharp white cheddar cheese (I used Swiss)
2 golden delicious or gala apples, cored and very thinly sliced
3 large eggs
1/2 cup whole milk or half-and-half
A little freshly grated nutmeg (I just used a bit of pumpkin pie spice and it worked fine)
Butter or Pam for greasing
Warm maple syrup for drizzling if desired

Cook the bacon, arrange 4 slices of bread with some cheese and the apples on the top. Beat the eggs with the milk or half-and-half and the nutmeg (or pumpkin pie spice). Heat a large griddle pan over medium heat. When ready, arrange 3 slices of bacon on each sandwich and top with a litle more cheese and 4 more slices of bread. Coat each sandwich in the egg batter. Grease the griddle and griddle the sandwiches until deep golden on each side and the cheese has melted. Halve the sandwiches and drizzle with a little warm syrup. Enjoy!