Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Crab and Chive Puffs

My sister made these delicious appetizers for Thanksgiving dinner. They were a hit! We found the recipe on Noble Pig
Crab and Chive Puffs
2 sheets frozen puff pastry (a 17.3 ounce box), thawed
4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 chopped fresh chives, more for garnish
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Kosher salt and black pepper
1 pound lump crabmeat

Heat oven to 400o F. Using a 2" inch-cookie cutter, cut the pastry into rounds. Place on 2-parchment-lined baking sheets.

In a medium bowl, mix together the cream cheese, mayonnaise, chives, lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Fold in the crab.

Dividing evenly, spoon the crab mixture onto the pastry rounds (about 2 teaspoons each). Bake, rotating the baking sheets halfway through, until the pastries are golden and crisp, 20 to 25 minutes. Sprinkle with more chives and serve hot.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies

I made these delicious treats as a Thanksgiving dessert. They are seriously SO good. They are up there in my favorite things I've ever made. They come a close second to the Pumpkin Butterscotch Cookies.  and this recipe is really easy!
Taste: The pumpkin flavor is really delicious. The marshmallow center is SOOO good. Together it's heaven.
Texture: The cookies are huge and super spongey. The filling was a little runny, so maybe add more powered sugar.
Would I make these again?: YES, 100%. I had about 9.
Pumpkin Whoopie Pies
For the cookies:
3 cups (750 mL) all-purpose flour
1 tbsp (15 mL) Pampered Chef Cinnamon Plus Spice Blend (or 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon + 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg)
1 tsp (5 mL) baking powder
1 tsp (5 mL) baking soda
1 tsp (5 mL) salt
1 cup (250 mL) butter (2 sticks), softened
2 cups (500 mL) packed brown sugar
1 can (15 oz) solid pack pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling) (1¾ cups/425 mL)
2 eggs
1/2 tsp (2 mL) vanilla extract
1/2 cup (125 mL) toasted walnuts, coarsely chopped, divided (I left these out)

for the filling:
3/4 cup (175 mL) butter (11/2 sticks), softened
2 oz (60 g) cream cheese, softened
1 cup (250 mL) powdered sugar
1 jar (7.5 oz/213 g) marshmallow creme

1. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Line cookie sheet with parchment paper; set aside. In a large bowl, combine flour, spice blend, baking powder, baking soda and salt; mix well. In mixer, beat butter and brown sugar medium-high speed until creamy. Add pumpkin; beat until combined. Add eggs and vanilla; beat until light and fluffy. (Mixture will be thin, like a muffin batter.) Gradually add flour mixture; beat until well blended.

2. Using a large cookie scoop (about 2" diameter), scoop batter onto prepared Cookie Sheet 2 in. (5 cm) apart; slightly flatten cookies with back of scoop. Press half of the walnuts into half of the cookies. Bake 16-19 minutes or until cookies spring back when lightly pressed. Slide parchment and cookies onto cooling rack; cool completely. Repeat with remaining batter and walnuts.

3. Using clean beaters, beat together butter, cream cheese, powdered sugar and marshmallow cream on medium-high speed in until well blended. To assemble cookies, turn the cookies without nuts bottom side up. Using a clean, large cookie scoop, scoop filling onto each cookie bottom. Top with remaining cookies with walnuts, pressing down slightly so that the filling spreads to the edge. Wrap each cookie individually with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 30 minutes before serving. **

** I made the cookies and filling the night before. I refrigerated the filling in a piping bag overnight then assembled the cookies right before serving.

To make smaller sandwiches, use a smaller scoop. The Medium Scoop makes 24 sandwiches and bakes for 12-14 minutes per batch. The Small Scoop makes 48 sandwiches and bakes for 13-16 minutes per batch.

Recipe courtesy of The Pampered Chef

Friday, November 26, 2010

45 Life Lessons ( & 5 to grow on)

Written By:  Regina Brett, 90 years old, of The Plain Dealer, Cleveland, Ohio

To celebrate growing older, I once wrote the 45 lessons life taught me.

It is the most-requested column I’ve ever written. My odometer rolls over to 50 this week, so here’s an update:

1. Life isn’t fair, but it’s still good.
2. When in doubt, just take the next small step.
3. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.
4. Don’t take yourself so seriously. No one else does.
5. Pay off your credit cards every month.
6. You don’t have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.
7. Cry with someone. It’s more healing than crying alone.
8. It’s OK to get angry with God. He can take it.
9. Save for retirement starting with your first paycheck.
10. When it comes to chocolate, resistance is futile.
11. Make peace with your past so it won’t screw up the present.
12. It’s OK to let your children see you cry.
13. Don’t compare your life to others’. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
14. If a relationship has to be a secret, you shouldn’t be in it.
15. Everything can change in the blink of an eye. But don’t worry; God never blinks.
16. Life is too short for long pity parties. Get busy living, or get busy dying.
17. You can get through anything if you stay put in today.
18. A writer writes. If you want to be a writer, write.
19. It’s never too late to have a happy childhood. But the second one is up to you and no one else.
20. When it comes to going after what you love in life, don’t take no for an answer.
21. Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don’t save it for a special occasion. Today is special.
22. Overprepare, then go with the flow.
23. Be eccentric now. Don’t wait for old age to wear purple.
24. The most important sex organ is the brain.
25. No one is in charge of your happiness except you.
26. Frame every so-called disaster with these words: “In five years, will this matter?”
27. Always choose life.
28. Forgive everyone everything.
29. What other people think of you is none of your business.
30. Time heals almost everything. Give time time.
31. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
32. Your job won’t take care of you when you are sick. Your friends will. Stay in touch.
33. Believe in miracles.
34. God loves you because of who God is, not because of anything you did or didn’t do.
35. Whatever doesn’t kill you really does make you stronger.
36. Growing old beats the alternative - dying young.
37. Your children get only one childhood. Make it memorable.
38. Read the Psalms. They cover every human emotion.
39. Get outside every day. Miracles are waiting everywhere.
40. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else’s, we’d grab ours back.
41. Don’t audit life. Show up and make the most of it now.
42. Get rid of anything that isn’t useful, beautiful or joyful.
43. All that truly matters in the end is that you loved.
44. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.
45. The best is yet to come.
46. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.
47. Take a deep breath. It calms the mind.
48. If you don’t ask, you don’t get.
49. Yield.
50. Life isn’t tied with a bow, but it’s still a gift.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

I am thankful for:

Here is what I was thankful for a year ago. 

Thanksgiving Eve

I am contributing to dessert for Thanksgiving this year. I'm not trying anything extravagant, just a simple pumpkin recipe that looks delicious! Remember my treats last year:
 They turned out great, but took forever!! I spent every last minute before we left for Thanksgiving decorating these babies. So this year, I'm trying a more sane route. Baking my treats tonight so I can sleep in and relax tomorrow. I really don't know how people make extravagant cupcakes, especially with fondant. It must take SO much time! But totally worth it in the end. Are you making anything fun for Thanksgiving?!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Almost Thanksgiving

2 days until Thanksgiving! Hope you have a fun-filled family celebration planned! 
Found: Bakerella

Pioneer Woman's Favorite Meatloaf

So this was my first attempt at making meatloaf. My mom never made it when we were growing up, so this was really my first meatloaf experience. I've tasted it a couple times, but never had it as a meal. I have to say- it's pretty delicious! What's not to like? A loaf of seasoned meat with bacon?! Yes please! I used Pioneer Woman's recipe. The boys already asked me to make it again, so i'd say it was a success! 
Taste: It was really flavorful and delicious.
Texture: Not going to lie, I don't love the mushy meat texture. Maybe because I didn't grow up with it.
Would I make this again?: Definitely! Especially for a group of hungry guys.
Pioneer Woman's Favorite Meatloaf
1 cup Whole Milk
6 slices White Bread
2 pounds Ground Beef
1 cup (heaping) Freshly Grated Parmesan Cheese
¼ teaspoons Seasoned Salt
¾ teaspoons Salt
Freshly Ground Black Pepper
⅓ cups Minced Flat-leaf Parsley
4 whole Eggs Beaten
10 slices Thin/regular Bacon
1-½ cup Ketchup
⅓ cups Brown Sugar
1 teaspoon Dry Mustard
Tabasco To Taste
Preparation Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pour milk over the bread slices. Allow it to soak in for several minutes.

Place the ground beef, milk-soaked bread, Parmesan, seasoned salt, salt, black pepper, and parsley in a large mixing bowl. Pour in beaten eggs.

With clean hands, mix the ingredients until well combined. Form the mixture into a loaf shape on a broiler pan, which will allow the fat to drain. (Line the bottom of the pan with foil to avoid a big mess!)

Lay bacon slices over the top, tucking them underneath the meatloaf.

Make the sauce: add ketchup, brown sugar, mustard, and hot sauce in a mixing bowl. Stir together. Pour 1/3 of the mixture over the top of the bacon. Spread with a spoon.

Bake for 45 minutes, then pour another 1/3 of the sauce over the top. Bake for another 15 minutes. Slice and serve with remaining sauce.

Monday, November 22, 2010

need a map?

Check out how cool these city neighborhood posters are!
They also have Boston, Brooklyn, Great Lakes, LA, New Orleans, NYC, Philly, Portland, San Francisco, Seattle, Toronto, Vancouver, The Heart, and The Brain! 
Find them at Ork Posters

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1

Did you see the new Harry Potter movie?! I obviously did! It was great! It met my standards of all the movies: Entertaining, but obviously not as good as the books. This one is a lot darker than the previous ones. I read the book SO long ago, I didn't even remember what was going to happen. Which I loved! It was all a surprise, haha sometimes having a horrible memory pays off!
Can't wait for Part 2, coming out in 2011! 

Friday, November 19, 2010

"I wish I had a twin"

"Are you two twins?!" Ugh, seriously, you get to a point in your life where that question is a joke. I get it. Twins are cool and unique, and you want to be one, but really people? Do we look like twins, then we probably ARE. haha growing up with an identical twin sister was annoying to say the least. But it also has it's bonuses. There is always someone around who likes the same thing you do, and will go to the grocery store or mall, just because. 
In high school we "hated" each other. We had all the same friends, played the same sports, and never had a second away from each other. We didn't really HATE each other, but if you asked us, we were pretty positive. Our response was "We'll be friends when we are older."
We didn't plan to go to the same college, but also couldn't afford to pay the difference between out-of-state and in-state. So we both ended up at Virginia Tech, GO HOKIES. We immediately joined different sororities and made our own group of friends. It was great! We finally had our own lives. They overlapped whenever one of us locked our keys in the car, or needed something out of the other's closet. But we mostly just enjoyed having our own friends! We both studied abroad separately in Switzerland and Italy at different times of the year and did our own thing. Then senior year she joined my group of friends on the best spring break trip ever to Key West. We started hanging out again because we realized it was actually fun having someone around with all of the same interests! 
So after college, we both moved back to DC and lived together for about 2 years. We still hang out and do fun sister stuff. We have the same sense of humor, same mannerisms (obviously), same love for harry potter, twilight, target, outlet malls, and making dinner for friends. I guess we have gotten "older", because I now consider her a friend.
I feel very lucky to have such a great sister. Because as our grandma says, "In the end, we will only have each other." And I have to admit, being a twin is unique, and so much fun! I wouldn't have chosen any other situation to grow up in. And I secretly hope I'll have twin girls of my own some day! I love you, sissy! 

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Bulgogi - Korean Beef Barbeque

My boyfriend introduced me to Bulgogi as he had a Korean roommate. It is SO delicious! We love getting it at the food court at the mall. haha but he decided to try making our own at home! It's really good! You should try it! 
Taste: SO good!!
Texture: Really delicious, but we are going to try to slice the beef thinner next time.
Would I make this again?: Yes! We did make it again. We also talked about adding broccoli.
Bulgogi - Korean Beef Barbeque

1 pound sliced beef
3 Tbsp chopped garlic (about 2 cloves)
3 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp fresh squeezed juice from an Asian pear
1 Tbsp Japanese rice wine (mirin)*
1 Tbsp sesame oil
3 green onions, finely chopped (including white part)
1 tsp pepper

1 yellow onion (could use 2)
1 pack Udon or any kind of rice noodles

Mix marinade ingrediants together until sugar and honey are dissolved/distributed.

If beef is not sliced, slice into thin, finger-length strips (if you freeze the beef for 15 minutes, it will be easier to slice).If you can, ask the butcher at the meat counter to slice for you in very thin strips. Korean and/or Asian grocery stores will often have meat for Bulgogi pre-sliced for sale.

Mix marinade into meat with hands or chopsticks, making sure all the meat is covered.

Refrigerate for at least 3 hours or overnight. For tougher cuts, the more hours, the better. You can also freeze the uncooked marinated beef in small amounts for later use.

Grill, broil, or stir fry the beef until well-done and carmelized on the outside. We boiled some rice noodles and  had them with the beef.


Monday, November 15, 2010

Crisp Autumn Countryside

Love. Found: Snippet & Ink.

adorable cupcakes

I randomly stumbled across this website, and LOVE everything about it! Especially the logo:
It is SO adorable, why don't I work there?! And here is some of their work:
LOVE the lettering!
Precious themed cupcake towers
And super cute cupcakes!!
See more here

Peanut Butter Oreo Cupcakes = FAIL

So I attempted to make some Peanut Butter Oreo Cupcakes for a friend's birthday, but it was a total fail. Apparently converting an Australian recipe is harder than I thought. Won't be picking any recipes in the future that calls for grams and milliliters. Also, apparently heavy whipping cream and milk is not a good substitute for buttermilk, who knew? haha oh well. I actually didn't try these cupcakes, but apparently they tasted good, but were hard as rocks. So I'll spare you, and not even post the recipe. But they do look great! 
We smashed a Reese's in the middle before baking.  Then frosted with a delicious peanut butter cream cheese frosting.
And then made an extra special cupcake with sprinkles for the birthday girl!
Man, I really love the way rainbow sprinkles look. I must use them more often! Oh well, better luck next time!

Friday, November 12, 2010

Spinach Chicken Dip

This is another delicious and healthy dip that makes great appetizers. You can serve the dip in little wonton wrappers to pass around, or keep in in dip form. It tastes so good, you won't miss the calories one single bit! It uses Elina's favorite ingredient: Greek Yogurt, which is so versatile! Remember the Buffalo Chicken Dip
Taste: Really good! Especially because you don't feel guilty for them.
Texture: I didn't cook the wonton wrappers by themselves first, so they were still a little mushy. But if you follow Elina's directions, they will be crispy and great.
Would I make this again?: Yes, definitely! They are so easy and the perfect size.
Spinach Chicken Dip
4 cups fresh spinach (or two cups very tightly packed), chopped
2 cups plain Greek yogurt
1/4 cup Parmesean cheese
2 cloves crushed garlic
1 cup chopped mushrooms
Salt and Pepper
24 Wonton wrappers** It's best to let these get to room temperature. They have less chance of tearing.
2-3 chicken breasts, shredded

Cook the chicken however you want. I prefer my magic deep covered baker. In a bowl, mix the chopped spinach, greek yogurt, mushrooms, cheese, garlic, and salt and pepper. Place the wonton wrappers in your mini-muffin pan and brush a little olive oil over the ends hanging out. Bake at 350 for about 6 minutes without the filling. Take them out of the oven and fill with dip mixture. Bake for another 8 minutes or so. Make 24 or 48 dippers and put the rest in a casserole dish and throw in the oven. Serve with pita chips. Enjoy!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Thanksgiving Collage

Guess it's that time again- another holiday collage! Here is my Thanksgiving collage from the past 2 years, take your pick! 

As usual, click to enlarge, save, then set as desktop background. 
HINT: I prefer to center the picture and set a coordinating color as the background. (This month I have a deep purple behind it)

Happy Veterans Day!

Mini Chocolate Tiramisu Cakes

This recipe was a HUGE hit! The boyf + 2 other friends said they were the best thing I've made so far. And they are so adorable! This is a Pampered Chef recipe. 
Taste: Really great tiramisu flavor: coffee, creamy, and little cheesy
Texture: The little brownies were moist
Would I make this again?: Yes, I have a lot of requests to make them again.
Mini Chocolate Tiramisu Cakes

1 small pkg (9 oz/250 g) devil's food cake mix
1/4 cup (50 mL) sour cream
1 egg
1 tbsp (15 mL) instant coffee granules
1 tbsp (15 mL) water
1/3 cup (75 mL) coffee liqueur (see Cook's Tip)
Filling & Topping:
1 1/2 cups (375 mL) thawed frozen whipped topping
8 oz (250 g) mascarpone or cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup (50 mL) powdered sugar
2 tsp (10 mL) vanilla extract
Unsweetened cocoa powder (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Spray cups of Deluxe Mini-Muffin Pan with nonstick cooking spray. For cakes, combine cake mix, sour cream, egg, coffee granules and water in bowl. Divide batter evenly among cups of pan. Bake 8–10 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in centers comes out clean.
Meanwhile, place whipped topping into large resealable plastic bag; secure and set aside. For filling, combine cheese, sugar and vanilla in clean batter bowl; mix until smooth using clean scraper. Place filling into an additional resealable plastic bag; secure and set aside.
Press tops of cakes with lightly floured Mini-Tart Shaper to make slight indentations; cool 2 minutes. Remove cakes from pan to cooling rack. Brush tops with coffee liqueur using basting brush; cool completely.
Trim corners of both bags. Pipe filling over cakes. Pipe whipped topping over filling. Sprinkle with cocoa powder, if desired. (or gold sprinkles!)

Yield: 24 cakes

Cook's Tips: If desired, 1 2/3 cups (400 mL) of devil's food cake mix from an 18.25-oz (510-g) package can be used for this recipe.

To substitute coffee liqueur, combine 1/4 cup (50 mL) water, 1/4 cup (50 mL) sugar, 1 tbsp (15 mL) instant coffee granules and 1 tsp (5 mL) rum extract in (1-cup/250-mL) Prep Bowl. Microwave, uncovered, on HIGH 1–2 minutes or until sugar is dissolved; cool.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

fan mail

Yesterday I got this note from a friend:
"Without sounding too much like a stalker, I just wanted to shoot you a message and let you know how much I LOVE your blog! I made your oreo cupcakes and they were a huge hit! I am going down to football game this weekend, and wanted to pick your brain for tailgating recipes. I am torn between your pumpkin and nutella cookies. Do you have a preference?"

haha I love it! :) If she only knew how big of a stalker I am to so many blogs. It makes me SO happy when I hear that anyone reads my blog! Sometimes I think, if my closest friends aren't reading this, who is?! haha but just wanted to say thanks, and keep the love/stalking coming!

P.S. The answer to the question was: Pumpkin cookies! They were seriously AMAZING, and still in the thanksgiving spirit!

Tomato Basil and Italian Sausage Soup

This soup literally takes 10 minutes to make, and it's SO delicious!! I really recommend trying it. The boyf and I also cooked pasta separately and mixed it in with the soup to make it more hearty. And it was very filling! I adapted the recipe a little from Picky Palate
Taste: SO FREAKING GOOD. I love this soup. 
Texture: Really hearty, and perfect for a winter week-night.
Would I make this again?: YES, I have made it at least 3 other times and crave it most days. I prefer to use Spicy Breakfast sausage, because I don't really like the fennel in Italian Sausage. And the spicy flavor gives it a great kick. It's SO easy to grab the ingredients on the way home from work and it's done in 10 minutes. 
Tomato Basil and Italian Sausage Soup

2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 lb Italian Sausage
10 fresh basil leaves, chiffonade (stacked, rolled and thinly sliced)
1 26 oz jar of your favorite pasta sauce or homemade sauce
1 Cup water
1 1/2 Cups half and half  ** We substituted chicken broth
Pinch of salt and pepper

Pasta of your choice (optional) We used Farfalline (baby bow-ties!)

1. Place olive oil into a medium sized dutch oven over medium heat. Cook sausage until browned, about 5 minutes. Stir in basil leaves, pasta sauce, water, half and half, salt and pepper. Cook until warm then reduce heat to low. Simmer until ready to serve. It’s that easy! Cook pasta of your choice according to directions and mix into bowls of soup! Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Pumpkin Butterscotch Cookies

I don't really like pumpkin or cinnamon, but these cookies are to die for. They may be my favorite cookie EVER! I normally only eat 1 cupcake/cookie that I make, or even just 1 bite. But I can honestly say I had about 9 of these cookies. YUM. Please try these at home!
Taste: SO amazing. Blows my mind how good they are. I ate about 15.
Texture: They are really mushy so a little hard to transport. I would cook them for a couple extra minutes, but make sure they don't burn!
Would I make this again?: YES!! I made 3-4 batches around Thanksgiving. I couldn't get enough of them.
Pumpkin Butterscotch Cookies
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups old-fashioned oats
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter or margarine, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup LIBBY'S® 100% Pure Pumpkin
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 11-oz. pkg butterscotch chips

PREHEAT oven to 350° F. Grease baking sheets.
COMBINE flour, oats, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in medium bowl. Beat butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar in large mixer bowl until light and fluffy. Add pumpkin, egg, and vanilla extract; mix well. Add flour mixture; mix well. Stir in butterscotoch chips. Drop by tablespoons onto prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough.
BAKE for 12 to 14 minutes or until cookies are firm and lightly browned. Cool on baking sheets for 2 to 3 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.


Monday, November 8, 2010

Chili Mac Soup

Apparently I'm on a soup kick because I made another one the other night! Or maybe it's because cooking warm soups is a great way to spend time together and cheer someone up! Anyways, this one was pretty delicious! And technically mine wasn't "Mac", it's Chili Pasta Soup.
Taste:  I couldn't find the Chili Macaroni Hamburger Helper, so I used Beef Pasta Hamburger Helper. I feel like the soup was lacking a little flavor/spice.
Texture: Great variety of textures
Would I make this again?: My sister made it with Chili Macaroni and said it was amazing! So maybe!! 
Chili Mac Soup 
Found: Betty Crocker Recipes
1 lb lean (at least 80%) ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped (1/2 cup)
1/4 cup chopped green bell pepper
5 cups hot water
1 box Hamburger Helper® chili macaroni
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
2 cups diced tomatoes (from 28-oz can)
1 can (11 oz) Green Giant® Mexicorn® whole kernel corn with red and green peppers, undrained
2 tablespoons sliced pitted ripe olives (black olives)

1. In 4-quart Dutch oven, cook beef, onion and bell pepper over medium-high heat 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until beef is thoroughly cooked; drain.

2. Stir in hot water, sauce mix (from Hamburger Helper box), chili powder, garlic salt and tomatoes. Heat to boiling, stirring occasionally.

3. Reduce heat; cover and simmer 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in uncooked pasta (from Hamburger Helper box), corn and olives. Cover; cook 10 minutes longer.


Thursday, November 4, 2010


WOO It's HOKIE GAMEDAY! Thursday night games were the BEST in Blacksburg. We have to settle on watching it from a bar, but it doesn't mean we have any less spirit! Check out these awesome cupcakes I found at It's my Treat.

gloomy day

A little of this is def needed on a day like today.