Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Gift in a Jar

Yes, Christmas is less than four months away. Since I'm already building my list and my budget, I'm compiling my go-to recipes for homemade gifts.

Oatmeal :
The layers in the jar give a pretty "sand art" appearance that makes the jar pretty enough to give as a gift along with the instructions for making the recipe.

You'll need:
Makes about 36
5/8 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup all-purpose flour (note: flour is divided to make separate layers in the jar. If you are not making a Gift-in-a-jar, just combine the two flour measurements)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup white sugar
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Let's start:
Layer the ingredients in a 1 quart or 1 liter jar, in the order listed. Attach a tag with the following instructions:

Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease a cookie sheet or line it with parchment paper. In a medium mixing bowl, beat together 1/2 cup softened butter, 1 egg and 1 teaspoon of vanilla until fluffy. Add the entire jar of ingredients, and mix together by hand until well blended. Drop by heaping spoonfuls onto the prepared baking sheet, about 2 inches apart. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until edges are lightly browned.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Food Day Cookies

We had food day at work on Friday and I made these. I tend to make baked goods that don't call for softened butter. That's just too much preparation for me.

I would post pictures, but they went too fast. That's a good sign.

Chewy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

You'll need:

* 2 cups all-purpose flour
* ½ teaspoon baking soda
* ½ teaspoon salt
* ¾ cup butter, melted (1½ sticks)
* 1 cup packed brown sugar
* ½ cup white sugar
* 1 teaspoon cinnamon
* 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
* 1 egg
* 1 egg yolk
* 1 ½ cups old-fashioned oats
* 1 heaping cup raisins

Let's start:

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

2. Melt butter.

3. Mix flour, baking soda and salt; set aside.

4. In a medium bowl, cream together the melted butter, brown sugar and white sugar until well blended. Beat in the cinnamon, vanilla, egg, and egg yolk for 2-3 minutes until light and creamy. Mix in the flour mixture until just blended. Add the oats and raisins. Mix until just blended.

5. Place 1/4 cup balls of dough onto parchment lined cookie sheet and bake for 14-16 minutes.

Pour big glass of milk and enjoy the raisin goodness.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Cream Cheese and Raisin Sunday

I made this for breakfast! It was raisin and cream cheese goodness. I added butter on top of mine with some iced coffee. Since Mr. Wonderful is more of a plain eater, he left off the butter and opted for juice.

Yes, I made enough for an army, but I'll eat some tomorrow for breakfast also.

Stuffed French Toast with Raisins

You'll need:
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 tbsp white sugar
  • 1.5 oz raisins
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp pumpkin spice
  • 8 slices whole wheat bread
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 tbsp milk
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp pumpkin spice
  • 1 tsp butter for the pan if needed
Let's start:
  1. In a small bowl, mix together the cream cheese, raisins, sugar, 1/4 tsp of pumpkin spice, and 1/4 tsp cinnamon until thoroughly combined. Divide the cream cheese mixture evenly onto 4 slices of bread. Top each spread slice with another slice of bread to make 4 sandwiches.
  2. In a shallow bowl, beat the eggs, 1/4 tsp pumpkin spice, milk and 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon. Dip each sandwich into the egg mixture on both sides.
  3. Grease a skillet with butter, and place over medium heat. Brown the sandwiches in the skillet for about 2 minutes per side.

Although I didn't have any apples, they would be a great side item.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Max the Space

Soon, I'll be moving from a one bedroom apartment into a two bedroom. As an individual who moved from a home into an apartment, it's a pretty big deal!

As you can imagine, I have quite a bit of furniture without the space so sometimes creativity plays a huge role.

This image (thanks pinterest!) provides a perfect example of how to use an oil pan in a small space. So, I've been thinking about getting one for the small wall in my galley kitchen. I would attach it to the wall a little higher than usual so as to utilize all of the wall space in my small kitchen.

Below it, would be some shelves for baskets to keep everything from silverware to hand towels.

Do you use out of the ordinary items to maximize your space?

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Weeknight Cooking Made Easy

Since I'm on cooking duty during the week (lovey has the weekend) I aim for yummy, quick, and somewhat healthy. I've got yummy and "somewhat" healthy down, but still working on the quick. Sometimes I just want to forget about it and go out. *Sigh.*

Well, we all know THAT can't happen considering it isn't budget friendly, and I haven't won the lottery.

Luckily, all of my recipe stalking, I mean surfing, has paid off.

Easy Stove Top Turkey Burgers

You'll need:
* 1 packet dried onion soup packet
* 1 cup cheddar cheese
* 1 egg
* 1 package thawed ground turkey

Let's start:
1. Shape burgers into 3 inch patties.
2. Coat large pan with thin layer of olive oil and place over medium high heat.
3. Once oil heats, place patties into pan.
4. Cook until brown, turning every 5-7 minutes.
5. Add cheese (optional)

I served these on whole wheat buns with ketchup, mustard, and dill pickle relish. Our sides were waffle fries and baked beans.

Enjoy! :)

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

New Take on an Old Classic- Lasagna

I love anything pasta, but sometimes the usual lasagna can be boring. While browsing my Martha Stewart Living magazine I found this new take on an old classic. It's pretty simple using no-boil noodles and some wonderful lemon.

Sausage, Chard, & Lemon Lasagna

You'll need:

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese (about 4 ounces)
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 5 cups coarsely chopped Swiss chard (about 1 bunch)
  • 1 pound sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 1 lemon, very thinly sliced
  • 6 no-boil lasagna noodles, preferably Barilla

Let's start:

  1. Melt butter in a saucepan over high heat. Stir in flour; cook for 2 minutes. Whisk in milk. Bring to a boil, stirring. Reduce heat. Simmer for 1 minute. Remove from heat. Whisk in 3/4 cup cheese, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Stir in chard.

  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook sausage in a skillet over high heat, breaking up pieces, until no longer pink, about 4 minutes.

  3. Cover lemon slices with cold water by 3 inches in a saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer for 7 minutes. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate using a slotted spoon.

  4. Spread 1/4 cup sauce in an 8-inch square nonreactive baking dish. Top with 2 noodles, half the sausage, and 1 cup sauce. Repeat. Top with a layer of lemons, 2 noodles, then remaining sauce and lemons. Bake, covered with parchment-lined foil, for 27 minutes.

  5. Remove from oven. Heat broiler. Uncover lasagna; top with remaining 1/4 cup cheese. Broil until bubbling, 2 to 3 minutes.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Not Your Usual Spaghetti

If you haven't seen Real Simple magazine, get thee to a store! It has great recipes that are very *simple* to make and very yummy! Also, they have a section where the discuss new uses for old things.

Right now you can get a subscription from Amazon for about $23.88.

Basil Spaghetti with Cheesy Broiled Tomatoes

You'll need:

  • 12 ounces spaghetti
  • 3 large tomatoes (about 1.5 pounds) cut into 4 thick slices
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for the baking sheet
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 8 ounces fresh mozzarella, grated
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan (1 ounce), plus more, shaved, for serving
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 3/4 cup torn fresh basil leaves, plus more for serving

Let's start:

  1. Heat broiler. Cook the pasta according to the package directions; drain and return it to the pot.
  2. Meanwhile, arrange the tomato slices in a single layer on a lightly oiled rimmed baking sheet. Season with ¼ teaspoon each salt and black pepper. Dividing evenly, sprinkle the slices with the mozzarella and Parmesan. Broil until the cheese is bubbly and golden, 3 to 5 minutes.
  3. In a small saucepan, warm the oil with the garlic and red pepper over medium heat until fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes.
  4. Add the garlic oil, basil, ½ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon black pepper to the pasta and toss to combine. Serve topped with the tomatoes, additional basil, and shaved Parmesan.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Carolina Barbeque Burgers

Since I love anything with BBQ in the title, I just had to share this wonderful Weight Watchers recipe.

Grab an ice cold beer and get cooking! Try serving this with the Spicy Baked Sweet Potato Fries.

You'll need:
  • 3 TBS Ketchup
  • 1 TBS Packed Brown Sugar
  • 1 TBS Mustard
  • 1 TBS Apple Cider Vinegar
  • ¾ TSP Worcestershire Sauce
  • ⅓ TSP Cajun Seasoning
  • 1 LB Ground Turkey
  • 1 Red Onion
  • 5 Whole Wheat Thin Buns
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste
  • Lettuce Leaves, torn
  • Tomato slices

Let's start:

1. Preheat grill to medium-high heat.

2. For sauce, mix ketchup through cajun seasoning. Season ground turkey with salt and pepper and form into patties.

3. Place patties on heated grill. Brush the tops generously with BBQ sauce.

4. Flip burgers after about 4 minutes and brush burgers with remaining sauce. Meanwhile, slice red onion, brush with olive oil and toss on grill.

5. Once burgers are done (after about another 4 min.) place on whole wheat buns and top with grilled onions, lettuce and tomato.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Whole Wheat and Chocolate? Yes please.

Another winner from the Publix magazine. If you haven't ever visited a Publix.

Whole Wheat Dark Chocolate Cake with Blackberry Sauce

You'll need:
4 ounces high-quality dark chocolate, chopped
6 tablespoons Publix GreenWise Market Organic Unsalted Butter,* cut up
3/4 cup strong brewed coffee
2 tablespoons bourbon (optional)
1 Publix GreenWise Market Organic Egg,* lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon vanilla*
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 cup sugar*
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 recipe Chocolate Glaze, below
Publix Premium Vanilla Frozen Yogurt
1 recipe Blackberry Sauce, below
Fresh blackberries
Dark chocolate shavings

*available organic

Let's start:

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease the bottom of a 9x5x3-inch loaf pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper. Grease and flour parchment paper; set aside.

2. In a medium saucepan heat chocolate with the butter and coffee over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally until chocolate is melted. Remove from heat and cool for 10 minutes. Using a wooden spoon, beat in the bourbon, if using, egg and vanilla. Add the flour, sugar, soda and salt; mix well. Pour batter into the prepared pan.

3. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool cake in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pan. Remove parchment paper. Cool thoroughly on wire rack.

4. Cut loaf into 8 slices. Drizzle slices with Chocolate Glaze. Top with a scoop of frozen yogurt and some of the Blackberry Sauce. Garnish with blackberries and chocolate shavings. Makes 8 servings

Nutrition: 441 cal., 22 g total fat (13 g sat. fat), 52 mg chol.,193 mg sodium, 56 g carb., 5 g dietary fiber, 5 g protein. Exchanges: 2 starch, 3 other carbohydrates, 4.5 fat.

Chocolate Glaze: In a microwave-safe bowl combine 1 cup frozen light whipped dessert topping, thawed, and 1/2 cup dark chocolate pieces or finely chopped dark chocolate. Micro-cook on 50 percent power (medium) for 1 minute. Stir until smooth. Let stand 5 minutes. Drizzle over cooled cake.

Blackberry Sauce: In a blender or food processor combine 1/2 cup Publix Premium Vanilla Frozen Yogurt and 1-2/3 cups (9 ounces) fresh blackberries. Cover and blend or process until smooth.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Spicy Baked Sweet Potato Fries

I found this in the Publix magazine and thought they looked scrumptious!

You'll need:
2 medium sweet potatoes (about 1 pound total)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Coarse sea salt or kosher salt (optional)
Ketchup (optional)

Let's start:
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Lightly coat a 15x10x1-inch baking pan with nonstick cooking spray; set aside. Scrub potatoes and cut lengthwise into quarters. Cut each quarter lengthwise into four wedges. Arrange potatoes in a single layer in prepared pan. Coat lightly with cooking spray.

2. Combine salt, cumin, chili powder, paprika and pepper in a small bowl; sprinkle over potatoes.

3. Bake for 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender, turning once. If desired, sprinkle with sea salt and serve with ketchup. Makes 4 servings

Nutrition: 59 cal., 0 g total fat (0 g sat. fat), 0 mg chol., 330 mg sodium, 14 g carb., 2 g dietary fiber, 1 g protein. Exchanges: 1 starch.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Spicy Vinegar

Again, from my Martha Stewart magazine. It has such good ideas! I found this recipe to make infuse vinegar with peppers. Yum!

You'll need:
* 20 peppers per half-liter bottle
* half-litter bottle
* white vinegar (or rice vinegar for Thai version)

Let's start:
1. Sterilize half or three quarter liter glass bottles by using the sterilize button on the dishwasher or boiling them for 10 minutes.
2. Wash peppers, cut a slit in each and insert into bottles. You'll need 20 per half-liter bottle.
3. Meanwhile heat 2-3 cups white vinegar, or rice vinegar, to just boiling.
4. Funnel into bottles to fill, let cool and cork.
5. Refridgerate after corking.

This is another great gift- just create tags, print, and attach with twine.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Dried Tomato Goodness

I found this on Martha Stewart and had to share. If you're like me, in love with tomatoes, you'll want to save this. :)

Oven Dried Tomato Recipe

You'll need:
* 24 cherry tomatoes
* 8 to 10 plum tomatoes, cut in half
* 8 to 10 yellow, orange, red, or green tomatoes, cut into 1/4-inch-thick or thicker slices
* 1 tablespoon sugar
* Herbs, such as basil, oregano, or rosemary, to taste
* Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Let's start:
  1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Line a pan with parchment; for thinnest chips, use a Silpat baking mat. Arrange tomatoes, cut sides up, on pan, spaced 1/2 to 1 inch apart. Sprinkle with sugar and herbs; season with salt and pepper.

  2. Transfer pan to oven; dry until juices have stopped running, edges are shriveled, and pieces have shrunken slightly; timing will vary depending on the variety, ripeness, and desired degree of dryness, 1 1/2 to 6 hours. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

This also makes for a great gift!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Hair Affair

Isn't this gorgeous! It looks so simple that maybe even I can do it. See it in it's clear glory here.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Food Friday- Peach Tarts

I made these last week, and had every intention of taking a picture, but they were snapped up very quickly.

These were super easy to make, and quite the crowd pleaser!

Peach Tarts

You'll need:
* 4 peaches peeled and diced
* 3/4 cup sour cream
* 1 tbsp vanilla extract
* 3/4 cup sugar
* 3 egg yolks
* 1/4 cup all purpose flour
* 8 individual tart cups (found these at Walmart)

1. Preheat oven to 400F.
2. Peel and dice peaches. Set aside.
3. Combine sour cream, vanilla, sugar, egg yolks, and flour in bowl.
4. Set tart cups on baking pan.
5. Fill each tart cup with about a tablespoon full of peaches. You want the cup to be about 3/4 full.
6. Pour the sour cream mixture over top until it is nicely rounded. The mixture will reduce when cooled.

I added a side of ice cream when I served these. Yum!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Hot August, Cold Dessert

Hello hot August! I don't know about where you are but here it's hot HOT hot! Even the pool is hot.

When it gets this hot, I don't want to eat, much less cook. So, I've been on the hunt for no bake recipes. I got lucky while browsing the Martha Stewart Living Magazine and found this yummy dessert. Because who doesn't like cold banana's and chocolate.

Chocolate, Banana, and Graham IceBox Cake

You'll need:
  • 15 ounces milk chocolate, chopped
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • Salt
  • 3 cups heavy cream
  • 20 graham cracker sheets
  • 4 or 5 ripe bananas, very thinly sliced lengthwise
  • Garnish: whipped cream

Let's Start:

  1. Line a 5-by-10-inch loaf pan with plastic wrap. Place chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Place yolks and a pinch of salt in another heatproof bowl.

  2. Bring cream to a simmer in a medium saucepan. Slowly pour cream into bowl with yolks, whisking constantly; return mixture to saucepan set over low heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon, about 8 minutes (mixture should not come to a boil). Immediately strain through a fine sieve set over chocolate; stir until chocolate melts and is smooth. Refrigerate, stirring occasionally, until thick, about 4 hours.

  3. Spread 1 cup chocolate mixture evenly into bottom of loaf pan. Top with a layer of 4 graham crackers, trimmed to fit. Spread 1/2 cup chocolate over tops, and cover with some bananas. Spread 1/2 cup chocolate over bananas, and top with a layer of 4 trimmed graham crackers. Repeat with remaining chocolate, bananas, and graham crackers until you reach the top of the pan; finish with graham crackers.

  4. Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate overnight. Uncover, and turn out onto a serving platter. Remove plastic wrap. Garnish with whipped cream, and cut into slices.

I'll be making this soon and will let you know it's yum factor!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Chalkboard Paint

Have I mentioned that I love, LOVE, love chalkboard paint?

It's fresh and classic.

Very motivational.

Perfect. (loved via this link)

Monday, August 8, 2011

DIY Beach Coverup

Since I live at the beach (don't be a hater), I'm always on the lookout for a cover-up. Preferably one that is both classy, comfortable, and easy to wash and wear.

Lucky for me, I found one in a DIY one in the Martha Stewart Living magazine.

Step 1:

Stack 2 cotton scarves (about 2 by 6 feet is a good size), right sides facing. Use a basic running stitch to join the scarves lengthwise, leaving an opening of about 18 inches in the center for a neck hole.

Step 2:

The finished cover-up will have a V-neck and a seam in the front and the back.
See more via Marthastewart.

A reader also commented about creating one using fall colors and belting it to wear in the fall. Nice!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Hair Affair

As a female, I've always admired hair. How is it that some people pull their hair into a ponytail and look polished, but when I do it, it looks like I just didn't have time to do anything else? Someone want to explain?

I tried to do a homemade french braid, but it's really difficult to get it to look pulled together. So, although it isn't perfect, it's not bad for a first serious attempt.

One of the most difficult things is keeping the hair where it should be and keeping my arms above my head. Whew.

I also did a bit of surfing and found some great hairstyles which should be repeated. On me. If I can manage.

Here's the lovely styles I found.

Wouldn't these be great for having a drink on the patio or even with a black suit and red shoes. :)

These came from hairromance, which even has an e-book that you can purchase. Isn't that awesome! (No, this is not an endorsement, and no I did not receive any compensation.)

Are you a self stylist? Any tips or tricks you want to share?

Monday, August 1, 2011

Overnight Oats

I've been hearing about this great, and oh-so-very easy, recipe for a while and thought it would be a good thing to get my Monday morning started right. So last night I mixed 1/2 cup oatmeal with 1/2 cup of milk and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. It was put in the fridge for this morning's breakfast, and HELLO! It was super fab. I was really wowed!

Tomorrow morning I'll use fat free half and half and add banana's. I like that it's nice and cold since when I get back from my walk I'm hot and very yucky.

Feel free to add other fruits like blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries.

You should try it. Really. :)

What's your easy go-to healthy breakfast?