NFR: Miss me!

May 29, 2008 at 1:35 pm | Posted in Fun, Vacations/Trips | 9 Comments

I just wanted to let all of my readers (all 3 of you-ha!) that we will be leaving for vacation Friday (tomorrow!!!) and will be gone a week so don’t miss me too much while I’m gone!  We are heading to Isle of Palms, South Carolina which is very near Charleston.  Apparently I went there as a child but don’t remember much of it at all, so I’m very excited to go back!  We are taking our kids and going with another couple and their two kids and staying in a condo on the beach.  I am so excited for a week of no work, beach time, and fruity cool beverages by the pool.  : )  Much better than sitting at my desk staring at a gray wall all day….

Everyone have a great week next week and I’ll be back with pictures on June 9th!  Bye for now!

Congrats to my bubby!

May 26, 2008 at 2:07 pm | Posted in Cookies, Fun, salads | 6 Comments

This past Friday night my “little” brother graduated from high school – I can’t believe he is old enough to graduate!  It makes me feel slightly old.  : )  I am so proud of all that he has already accomplished – last summer he graduated from Basic training and joined the National Guard at age 17.  Although I was not thrilled (to say the least) about that decision at first, I have come to be just a proud big sister rather than one who is thinking, “What is the HELL is he thinking?!”  Congrats to my bubby!!!

On Saturday we held Luke and his friend Dante’s graduation party at a local park.  The weather was perfect and it was such a fun day.  In honor of my newfound love of cooking and baking I offered to bring several things to help my mom out.  One thing I knew that I had to make was sugar cookies – I used my best friend’s recipe of course.  They are the best EVER.  I even used my Wilton cake decorating set and piped words onto them – pretty fancy for me!  HA!  These went like hot cakes as usual when I make them.  They just sooo good!

I also made this bean salad/dip that a friend had made for a Superbowl party.  It is SOOO good.  Don’t be scared by the mixture of a lot of ingredients.  It’s really easy and really good.  I was asked for this recipe by so many people at Luke’s party on Saturday. 

Black Bean Dip Recipe (from The Food Network)

2 cans black beans, drained, about 30 ounces
1 (15-ounce) can corn, drained
2 Roma tomatoes, diced
1/4 cup diced red bell pepper
1/4 cup diced red onion
1/4 cup diced green onions
1/4 cup diced pineapple
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro leaves
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
4 tablespoons sherry vinegar
Juice of 1/2 lime
3 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
Pinch ground cumin

 

Mix all ingredients in a bowl and refrigerate for 1 hour.

Vanilla Nut Martini Cupcakes

May 18, 2008 at 3:23 am | Posted in Cupcakes | 5 Comments

Aren’t cupcakes just happy and fun?  Don’t they remind you of birthday parties and happy events?  They do me.  And you can do so many things with cupcakes as far as flavors and decorating AND they are easy to transport which is a major bonus when everything that you bake goes to your work because you don’t want it in your house.  That is me.  I love looking at my friend Clara’s cupcake blog – she has so many awesome ideas and her picures are so inspiring.  I wish I had the patience and time that she does to make these.  I guess I have the time – just not a priority, but I do like to bake every now and again.  I think I discovered though tonight why I dislike baking all of the time – I HATE the mess.  I have always been a messy baker and cooker – I don’t know why, I just have.  And I hate cleaning up the mess.  Anyway…

I’ve been dying to have some of Alanna’s Vanilla Nut Martini cupcakes that she made awhile back.  She sent me some and they were to die for.  I am not a “sweets” person at all.  But those cupcakes…I think I ate 3 or 4 in one day.  They were amazing.  The icing was the best part.  I decided that I would bake these today and see how it went.  I’ve been wanting to try out my Wilton decorating tips and I thought this would be a good time.  Funny thing is that I had NO idea how to use the icing bags or any of that stuff that came with the set.  Nikki came to my rescue and talked me through it earlier today though.  I still think I have a long way to go as far as how they look.  They don’t look special, but at least I didn’t have any catastrophes.  : )

  

CUPCAKES

Ingredients

2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup butter or margarine
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup Frangelico (I used French Vanilla Kahlua – it was cheaper.  HA!)

Directions

In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; set aside. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and brown sugar until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Alternately add 1/3 of the flour and all of the buttermilk, then 1/3 of the flour and all of the Frangelico, beating well after each addition. Add remaining flour; mix until smooth.Line regular or mini muffin cups with baking papers. Fill each 2/3 full. Bake at 375ºF for 14-16 minutes or until muffins test done. Cool in pans for 5 minutes. Remove and cool completely.

 

 ICING

 Ingredients

3 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup butter or margarine
5 T whipping cream
1 tsp vanilla
vanilla bean

 

 Directions

 Yield: 24 regular or 48 mini cupcakes.

 

Mrs. Pig Rating:  These are DELISH!  I love vanilla so I absolutely adore these cupcakes

 

Caprese Salad and happy reminders…

May 15, 2008 at 12:06 am | Posted in salads, wine | 8 Comments

I’ll preface this with saying, excuse me while I have a moment to reminisce…I had a crappy day at work.  I deserve it.  : )

As a lot of you know, Tommy and I went to Hawaii on our honeymoon last July.  It was absolutely perfect – we could not have asked for a better trip all the way around.  Hawaii is magical – it was so relaxing, so beautiful, just everything we could have asked for.  We went to the Big Island and Oahu – Big Island was our favorite by far.  We can’t wait to go back!!

While in Hawaii, we ate and drank all sorts of great things – we of course had our Quizno’s stops and such, but we ate at some pretty good restaurants as well.  I think one of the best things about it was that every night for dinner, every day for breakfast, we ate outside.  You can’t just do that here in Indiana – it’s always too humid or too cold or too rainy or too many bugs, etc.  But there…it was perfection.  There is something so relaxing and romantic about eating dinner outside under the stars with your husband while on  your honeymoon….okay, I’ll stop now.  Sheridan tells me all of the time that I’m “too mushy” so…I’ll spare you a bit. 

Back to the point…one of the best dinners that I had while on the Big Island was one random night at a random restaurant where I had a Caprese Salad with a glass (er…or 3 or 4) of fab white wine.  The salad was absolutely excellent.  I have wanted to make Caprese Salad for awhile now but Tommy is not so into tomatoes and salads and such.  So while he is on the other side of the world, I decided to try it.  Such an easy and yummy dinner.  I served it with Organic French bread and of course….wine.  : )

While there isn’t really a set “recipe” per se for Caprese Salad (it’s pretty self explanatory), I did find one so I could post it for those who don’t know what this salad is (a tragedy if not).

Ingredients

3 vine-ripe tomatoes, 1/4-inch thick slices (better if not chilled)
1 pound fresh mozzarella, 1/4-inch thick slices
20 to 30 leaves (about 1 bunch) fresh basil
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
Coarse salt and pepper

Directions

Layer alternating slices of tomatoes and mozzarella, adding a basil leaf between each, on a large, shallow platter. Drizzle the salad with extra-virgin olive oil and season with salt and pepper, to taste.

This is so delish.  Such a good, light dinner.  Perfect for the summer!!

 

Recreating my fave Cheesecake Factory salad

May 14, 2008 at 1:25 am | Posted in cheesecake, Chicken, salads | 4 Comments

One of my favorite restaurants is Cheesecake Factory.  I love the food & I adore the cheesecake.  Really.  What is better than that many choices of amazing cheesecake?!  Not much in my book! 

Unfortunately, we do not have one near us – the closest one is about 2.5 hours away.  When we go to a city that has one, we always go even if just for dessert.  We went to Indianapolis two weekends ago to visit my grandpa in the hospital and we got to Indy pretty late but we had to eat.  I of course wanted to go to Cheesecake Factory since it was only about 5 minutes from our hotel.  I knew what I would eat before I even got there.  Cheesecake of course, but I mean for dinner.  : ) (Of course, I had a huge piece of chocolate chip cookie dough cheesecake to take back to the hotel too…don’t let me fool you into thinking I ALWAYS eat healthy…)

Their Grilled Chicken Tostada Salad is my absolute fave.  Now, those of you who know Cheesecake Factory know that the portions are enough to feed about 3 people with just one dish.  This salad is no different.  It comes out on a plate in two huge mounds and the size is insane.  Here is the description of the salad from their menu:

Crisp Corn Tortillas Topped with Grilled Marinated Chicken Breast and Black Beans Piled High with Mixed Greens, Fresh Corn, Green Onions and Cilantro All Tossed in Our Vinaigrette and Garnished with Avocado Cream, Salsa and Sour Cream”

You want it now too right??  It’s so incredibly good.  My husband is in Japan for 10 days (ugh) and I always try new veggie dishes while he is out as I am the veggie fan, not him so much.  😛  I decided to try to recreate this dish tonight for dinner.  This was also my first time using avocados in food so I was proud of myself for branching out a bit and making this avocado cream for the topping.

There really isn’t much of a recipe per se for this salad – I just copied it off of their menu basically using all of those ingredients.  This salad was YUMMMMMY!!!!  Of course everything tastes better when you don’t fix it yourself so the Cheesecake Factory version is better, but this is still pretty darn good made at home.  I’ll definitely be making it again!!

Cinco de Mayo! (Okay, so I’m a little late…)

May 12, 2008 at 6:49 pm | Posted in Cupcakes, kids | 4 Comments

Cinco de Mayo – May 5th – is a holiday in Mexico that commemorates an inital victory of Mexican forces led by General Zaragoza over French forces in the battle of Puebla on May 5th, 1862.  What Cinco de Mayo is NOT is Mexico’s Independence Day.  Their Independence Day is actually in September and a lot of people get Cindo de Mayo confused with that.  The history of Cinco de Mayo is great to celebrate, however, I know to me in college all it meant was, “Sweet!  Time to go out to Mexican restaurants and drink margaritas!”.  Okay, who am I kidding.  I’m 26 and I still think that way.  : ) 

I wanted to make a special treat this year for Cinco de Mayo because as you may have noticed, I tend to go overboard on holidays.  I just like any reason to celebrate.  I think the kids think I’m nuts.  LOL  I have been wanting to make cupcakes and I kept seeing recipes flying around for margarita cupcakes and I saw the CUTEST ones on Wilton’s website, so I decided to give it a shot.  This is the recipe that I used:

FOR THE CUPCAKES

Ingredients

  • 1 package (18.25 oz. white cake mix (no pudding in the mix)
  • 1 can (10 oz.) frozen Margarita mix, thawed (undiluted)
  • 3 egg whites
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon grated lime zest
  • Directions

    1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Line standard muffin pan with baking cups.
    2. In large bowl, combine cake mix, Margarita mix, egg whites and vegetable oil using electric mixer.
    3. Stir in lime zest; mix completely.
    4. Fill prepared pans 2/3 full.
    5. Bake 22-24 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center of cupcake comes out clean.
    6. Cool in pan on cooling rack 5-8 minutes.
    7. Remove cupcakes from pan; cool completely.
    8. Frost cooled cupcakes with icing and garnish, if desired, with a strawberry and/or lime twist,

    FOR THE ICING

    Ingredients

  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 package (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
  • 2 tablespoons key lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon key lime zest or lemon zest
  • 4-5 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • Directions

    1. In large bowl, cream butter, cream cheese, juice and zest with electric mixer until light and fluffy.
    2. Add 4 cups confectioners’ sugar, one cup at a time; continue beating until light and fluffy.
    3. If icing is too thin add additional confectioners’ sugar 1 tablespoon at a time.

    Pig Rating:  The pig is not a fan of lime so he didn’t try them.

    Mrs. Pig Rating:  These were kind of odd for me.  They were really good, just not what I’m used to a cupcake tasting like I think.  Not used to such a limey taste.  They were definitely different and fun though!  I chose not to use the recipe with alcohol because I hate Tequila.  Sick.

    Co-Worker Rating:  My coworkers really liked these – those that weren’t too scared to try them.  HA!

    Yes, I just happen to have sombreros randomly around the house.  Reminents of those Mexican restaurant margarita nights….  : )  The kids loved them – they wore them for dinner that night.  HA!

    Taco Seasoning

    May 12, 2008 at 5:37 pm | Posted in Mexican food, Seasonings & Sauces | 3 Comments

    Tacos are a staple in our house – Sheridan decided about a year ago that tacos are her favorite meal.  We all love tacos so I usually try to make them for her once a week.  It’s something I can make semi healthy, yet it’s good and the kids love it.  It’s a win-win!  I had been in the habit of just buying the taco kits at the store and my mom told me awhile back that it’s much healthier to make your own seasoning.  I finally decided to try it about a week ago and it is SO easy and so good!  I’ll never use the packets again.  This is good and it has way less sodium and less calories than the packets.

    I found this easy recipe on allrecipes.com

    Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • Directions

    In a small bowl, mix together chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, red pepper flakes, oregano, paprika, cumin, salt and pepper. Store in an airtight container.

    This makes 10 servings.  I used 2 tablespoons in my taco meat (we use ground turkey)

    Pig Rating:  Pig didn’t even notice the difference – yay!  I love when I can make things healthier without him noticing.  LOL

    Mrs. Pig Rating:  This is easy, and yum!

    Little Pig Rating:  Neither of the kids noticed either – SCORE!

    Ham Sandwich Appetizers

    May 6, 2008 at 11:40 pm | Posted in appetizer, ham | 1 Comment

    My friend Mary made these ham sandwich appetizers at a party at her house one time and since then we have been obsessed.  I have made these for several different dinner parties and everyone loves them.  They are very easy and so good.  I make them for events that I have to go to a lot and poor Tommy is always trying to snatch one or two before I run off with the batch of them, so I decided to make them for dinner one night last week so he could enjoy them as well.  : )

    Ingredients

    1 package of Kings Hawaiian Rolls
    2 tbsp. sugar
    ½ lb. shaved ham (I get really thin shaved ham from the deli)
    1 tbsp. Grated onion
    1 pack swiss cheese
    2 tbsp. Poppy seeds
    ½ stick butter
    2 tbsp mustard

    Directions

    Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Melt butter. Add all other ingredients to butter. Spread mixture onto rolls that are sliced open. Add cheese and ham to make them into sandwiches. Bake 20 minutes at 325 degrees.

    Pig Rating:  Well, obviously, the pig loves these.  : ) 

    Mrs. Pig Rating:  I love these too.  So good, so easy.  You can’t go wrong.

    Other rating:  Every time I take these to a party, people ask for the recipe.  You know you have done well when that happens.  : )

     

     

    Mini Penne with Spicy Chicken Alfredo

    May 6, 2008 at 11:24 pm | Posted in Chicken, pasta | 3 Comments

    My mom recently bought me a new cookbook (she always buys me great ones!) and this was no exception.  She bought me Sandra Lee Semi Homemade 20 Minute Meals.  This is my first Sandra Lee cookbook and I started going through it as soon as I got home from her house.  There are so many yummy, quick, easy recipes in here.  Some people might not want to make this stuff because it’s not really homemade, but I need quick easy dinner recipes – soccer, T-ball, Tommy working late, etc., stuff always gets in the way and I like quick easy  meals. 

    The first one that I wanted to try was “mini penne with spicy chicken alfredo”.  It looked so good and so easy.  We love pasta recipes and everything in this one looked good.

    Ingredients

    8 oz dried mini penne pasta (I used wheat pasta)
    1 jar (16 oz) Alfredo sauce (I used light)
    1 can (14.5 oz) diced tomatoes with basil, garlic, and oregano
    1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
    1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
    2 packages (6oz each) refrigerated cooked chicken breast strips (I used boneless skinless chick breasts cut into strips)
    1 can (2.25 oz) olives – I omitted

    Directions

    1.  In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta according to package directions.  Drain well; return to hot pot.  Cover; keep warm.
    2.  Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, combine Alfredo sauce, tomatoes, Italian seasoning, and red pepper flakes over medium heat.  Stir in chicken and olives.  Bring to a simmer; cook for 10 minutes.
    3.  Server hot over cooked pasta.  Top with Parmesan cheese.

    Mr. Pig Rating:  Mr. Pig thought this one was okay.  It wasn’t his fave, but he said not bad. 

    Mrs. Pig Rating:  I actually liked this one.  It has tons of flavor and it’s super easy which I loved for a quick dinner.  It’s definitely worth a try I think.  I am saving the recipe – I had leftovers for lunch today too.  : )

     

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