Sunday, March 24, 2013

Bits and Bites and Peanut Butter

You know the drill: I ramble and post fun links; you browse and pick and choose and click as you wish.  Here we go:

1.  Did I ever tell you Nathan makes his own peanut butter?  Yup, little chef he is.  Simply add peanuts, a splash of olive oil and a dash of salt to the food processor and blend until smooth.  Then he totes it to work, eats it for breakfast, and brags to his coworkers that he knows what a food processor is.
ps don't use the mini processor.  it's a wee bit hard on the motor.

2.  This blog fascinates me as of late.  i'm liking the cereal milk ice cream.  yummmm

3.  Beautiful kitchen redomine??...someday....

4.  Awesome beauty blog I came across recently.  super cute hair ideas girls!

5. Gorgeous cake for easter.  This girl's got talent.  I'm jealous of every cake she's made.  not fair.

6.  How to clean your engagement ring at home.  I do the baking soda/water method and get lots of compliments on my shiny sparkler.  It also helps that Nathan picked out a very lovely ring.  he done good.

7.   Peeps Cake Batter Candy.  We're big peeps-eaters in this house so this wouldn't last a day.

8.  Gooey Chocolate Skillet Cake Ice Cream Sundae.  Can't get enough of the skillet!!

9.  Awesome drive-thru prank.  You need to watch this video. Hilarious!

10.  Went to Pei Wei for lunch today (again) and had some good food and good fortunes.  Mine: "Your love of life can carry you through any circumstance".  Nathan's: "This is a night for love and affection."  Oh boy...

11.  And to cap BB off, an awesome quote from the book I'm reading, Gone Girl (by Gillian Flynn- HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!):  "Stay away from boys.  They'll either throw rocks or look up your skirt".  Amen.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Barbecue Chicken Enchiladas

I have a serious problem.

I mean this is just a full blown obsession.  It involves mexican food- anything that can be wrapped in a fluffy tortilla, dipped in salsa, topped with cilantro.  So here's the deal:  I had mexican for both lunch and dinner.  Tacos for lunch, these babies for dinner.  And I could do it all over again tomorrow, no problem.

Once the weather warms up my mind immediately starts thinking fruity salsas, fun burgers, and fish tacos.  I have gone on the spring clothes shopping spree (ps I officially need to rethink my whole shoe organization thing; the situation is getting a bit out of control) and I've tucked away the scarves and mittens (a girl can hope can't she!).  I also made these enchiladas in preparation for the season change (hello spring...tomorrow!). 

We are big anything-with-barbecue-sauce people and I knew these would be a winner (yea, they were) and hit the spot (yea, they did).  Soft tortillas stuffed with chicken and cheddar and topped with a slightly bbq'ed-up enchilada sauce with more cheese- I think it's safe to say these are going to make a regular appearance over the summer.

Barbecue Chicken Enchiladas

Serves 2 (makes 6 enchiladas)

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 sweet onion, chopped
1 (10-ounce) can red enchilada sauce
1/4 cup of your favorite barbecue sauce
1 1/2 cups cooked, shredded chicken
1/2 tablespoon barbecue seasoning (I made my own!  see recipe below)*
pinch of cayenne pepper
1/8 cup + 1/3 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese, divided
1/4 cup shredded colby jack cheese (I cheated and used the mozz I had on hand)
6 fajita size tortillas

Preheat oven to 375.  In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over low-medium. Add onions with a pinch of salt, and let caramelize until soft and golden, about 10 minutes. While onions are cooking, pour enchilada sauce into a bowl and whisk in your favorite BBQ sauce until combined.

Add shredded chicken, barbecue seasoning, and cayenne to onions. Mix thoroughly. Pour in 1/4 cup of enchilada/barbecue sauce mixture and add 1/8 cup cheddar cheese. Stir until mixture comes together and turn off heat.

Pour a drizzle of enchilada/barbecue sauce in the bottom of a 7x11-inch baking dish (I used about 1/8 cup or so). Take each tortilla and fill it with 1/4+ cup of chicken mixture. Roll each up and set it in the baking dish. Pour remaining enchilada/barbecue sauce on top of tortillas and sprinkle with remaining 1/3 cup cheddar and 1/4 cup colby (or mozz!) cheese. Bake at 375 for 15-20 minutes or until cheese and melted and sauce is bubbly. 

*Barbecue Seasoning

Makes about 1/2 cup

1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon mild or medium-hot chili powder
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
1/2 tablespoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
3/4 teaspoon onion powder
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and store in sealed container.

Adapted from How Sweet It Is.  Seasoning adapted from CHOW.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Chocolate Lucky Charms Green Velvet Cupcakes

Yup.  I did it again.

I didn't plan on celebrating saint patty's day.  No green beer (maybe someday...).  No corned beef and cabbage (maybe...never!!!).  My extent of acknowledging the holiday will include wearing a stripey pair of "Kiss Me I'm Irish" socks (thanks Target) and a green "Kiss Me I'm Mexican" tee (thanks Chuy's).  But as I was reaching into the pantry the other night, I noticed a box of chocolate lucky charms staring at me.  Insert: light bulb!

The structure of my chocolate version follows the same method as the vanilla: lucky charms crust; green-tinted, cereal-dotted batter; icing and marshmallow pieces.  But this time, we chocolate-ey it up, hence green velvet

Now I'm going to be honest with you, while the vanilla version knocked my socks off on each and every layer last year, this alternative resulted in a little disappointment.  Cereal crust was good, icing was awesome, but the layer inbetween- the actual cake itself- was a bit of a flop.  I used the red velvet cupcake recipe in my Martha Stewart Cupcakes cookbook (subbing green food coloring for red, of course) and wish I had done more research, which would have made this super cute, super festive cupcake taste super yummy.  But regardless of my unlucky end product, I wanted to share with you these lucky-themed treats, and encourage you to use this cake recipe instead.  Or this one or this one or this one.  Good luck!!

Chocolate Lucky Charms Green Velvet Cupcakes

Makes 18 cupcakes

For the Crust:
3 cups crushed Lucky Charms (a mini food processor works well for this)
5 tablespoons butter, melted

For the Cupcakes:
A recipe will 12 cupcakes will suffice to give you roughly 18, as the crust will take up some of the cupcake liner

Red velvet cupcake recipe of your choice
Green food coloring
1 cup Lucky Charms cereal

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a small bowl, mix together crushed Lucky Charms and melted butter.  Divide mixture evenly between ten cupcake liners.  Pack it firmly into the bottoms of the liners.  Bake for 10 minutes.

While crust is baking, prepare velvet cake recipe, subbing in green food coloring for the red.  Fold 1 cup Lucky Charms into batter.   Spoon cupcake batter over pre-baked crusts.  The batter should come almost to the way to the top of the liners (the crust prevents the batter from rising very much!)

Bake at 350 degrees for 14 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  If they are not done, test again in two minutes.  When the cupcakes are done, remove them immediately from the tins and leave them on a cooling rack to cool completely before icing.

Top with Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting and Lucky Charms Marshmallows. 

Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting:
This makes quite a bit of frosting but leftovers can easily be stored in the fridge.

4 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1/2 cup butter
1 cup sour cream
6 cups powdered sugar

Melt chocolate and butter in microwave-safe bowl in 30 second intervals until combined and smooth.

Place sour cream in large mixer bowl.  Pour in chocolate mixture and beat at medium speed until blended.  Add in powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, beating well after each addition until desired consistency is reached.  Spread over cupcakes.

Adapted from my Lucky Charms Cupcakes via The Cupcake Project

Monday, March 11, 2013

Salted Brown Butter Sugar Cookies

This is kind of a big deal.

First off, so my blog is officially one year old as of the 9th.  Happy First Birthday to...Blog!  Secondly, that last post, I failed to mention but it was number 100.  Thank you for listening to (reading?) everything I have rambled on about, made fun of, and got a little too excited over for the last one hundred entries, and dad.

And thank you, Nathan, for being my number one taste-tester.  And for paying me that awfully wonderful compliment over the weekend: "you know how some people are known for a certain recipe like their spaghetti sauce?  You're going to be known for a whole arsenal!"  (Why bother paraphrasing when I can repeat those delicious words verbatim.)  I think these cookies will be going into said arsenal, as they were devoured within twenty-four hours- we're talking breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  Even after a habenero-infused taco dinner, which upset the tummy, Nathan reached for the cookies ("just. one. cookie. ughhhh.").  And the following morning?  ("I'm still so fulllllll.  But I need just. one. cookie").  Poof!  All gone. 

Salted Brown Butter Sugar Cookies

Makes 17 cookies

1/2 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup white sugar
1 egg plus 1 egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

For rolling:
3 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  

To brown butter: place butter in a small saucepan over medium heat and immediately begin whisking. Stir as it bubbles, and after 2-3 minutes or so you should see brown bits appear on the bottom of the pan. Remove from heat immediately and continue to whisk for another 30 seconds or use.  Let cool slightly.

Transfer butter to a large mixing bowl and with an electric mixer or whisk, mix in the sugars until smooth and well-combined. Add the egg, yolk and vanilla, and mix until smooth.  In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredients. Gradually add them to the wet ingredients and mix until just combined.

Combine the 3 tablespoons of sugar and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a shallow dish. Scoop dough into equal 1-inch sized portions, roll into balls and coat in salt-sugar mixture. Place dough balls an inch apart on parchment or silpat-lined cookie sheets.  Bake for 12-14 minutes or until bottoms of the cookies are golden.  Let cool completely before removing from baking sheet.

Adapted from The Baker Chick.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Roasted Tomato Basil Soup

So Lent.

Yeahhhh....that thing you do this time of year.  That put-down-that-soda, spit-out-that-chocolate thing.  Well, I've sorta kinda never told you all what I'm doing (yes, in addition to my 26-by-27 and my new years resolutions- this is getting out of control, I know).  To be perfectly honest, I never really intended to do anything.  I gave up Dr. Pepper one year, I think I gave up chocolate another year (maybe? dunno.), it usually involved giving up something.  Well, I'm sorry, but my single soda a week just isn't that big of a threat and my absurd sweet tooth isn't going to handle 40 days without sugar, so yeah, like I said...wasn't planning on being a participant.

But on Ash Wednesday night, I had a revelation (no pun intended).  My plan of choice: eat more fruits and veggies.  Two per day, to be exact (my goals have to be measureable- it's the perfectionist in me).  Now here's where I admit that I never eat fruits and veggies.  Unless they come in the form of salsa or dotted in soups, their existence in nil.  It's not something I'm proud of.

That changes now (uh, technically 23 day ago), and I'm eating them in their purest form.  Not banana bread, not strawberry cake.  Ketchup doesn't count either.  Apple slices and melon cubes.  I'm now a participant!  Hallelujah! 

[ps this soup is awesome.  no, it's really awesome, i've just talked your ear off, but make it.  it's zesty and awesome.  and veggie-ful]

Roasted Tomato Basil Soup

Serves 2

1 pound roma tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 medium sweet yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon italian seasoning
1 (15 ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 1/4 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spread the tomatoes on a baking sheet and drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and roast for about 40 minutes.
In a large stockpot, heat the other 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until tender, about 2-3 minutes. Stir in the garlic and red pepper flakes. Cook for another 2-3 minutes. Add the canned tomatoes, basil, italian seasoning and broth. Stir in the oven roasted tomatoes. Cook for about 30 minutes over medium-low heat.

Use an immersion blender to puree the soup in the stockpot, or transfer soup to a food processor or blender to blend. The soup should be smooth, with a few tomato chunks. Season with salt and pepper, to taste, and serve warm.

Adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod.

Monday, March 4, 2013


So this was a really cool idea I saw on a really cool blog I follow, who got the idea from another really cool blog.  Ladies and gents...a day in my life on a typical saturday...hour-by-hour...

six am

seven am

eight am

nine am

ten am

eleven am

twelve pm

one pm

two pm

three pm

four pm

five pm

six pm

seven pm

eight pm

nine pm

ten pm

eleven pm

twelve am