Friday, May 8, 2015

.southwest salad.

potluck!


the word alone either makes you cringe or gets your juices flowing. babycake's daycare celebrated teacher appreciation week with a different treat every day. one of the days was a potluck provided by the parents.  this was the perfect opportunity to try out this colorful salad i found on pinterest.
as long as you get all the necessary ingredients, it is easy to put together and the dynamic flavor palette is so worth it. here's how!


chop chop chop a head of rinsed romaine lettuce.


shuck an ear of sweet corn and then run your knife down its sides to get all the kernels off. throw in a bowl with your lettuce. wait- i didn't cook the corn first? nope. use the fresh corn. 


now, add a hefty handful of roasted and salted pepitas. this is the first time i've ever put pepitas in a recipe and yummy! if you can't find these little crunchies in your grocery store, use sunflower seeds instead. 


take a beautiful red bell pepper and dice it up. toss it on in your growing salad bowl. 


rinse a 15 oz can of black beans. these beans will add the protein to the salad to make it a complete meal. 


cut in half about one cup of cherry tomatoes. yep- add those in too. are we done yet? no! 


get your eye guy to dice up a huge block of pepper jack cheese and then only use a fraction of it. or, use all of it you want. cheese, glorious cheese!


you now have this colorful, gorgeous salad. if you're more ambitious than i am, make your own salad dressing. i went with this store bought variety and it was absolutely delicious! 


toss. 


add some crunchy tortilla strips and dive in. this picture doesn't do the taste factor justice. i sent the full salad away to babycake's school for the potluck. and then the next night, i made the whole thing all over again for our dinner at home. 
i added grilled chopped chicken to my eye guy's bowl. we both love it and will be having it again.

southwest salad
inspired by this recipe

put all of this in a bowl and enjoy. 

one head chopped romaine lettuce
one ear sweet corn kernels
one chopped red bell pepper
one 15 oz can of drained black beans
about a cup of halved cherry tomatoes
one cup (or more) of shredded pepper jack cheese
a big handful of pepitas
tortilla salad strips for topping
avocado ranch dressing or your favorite southwestern dressing






Tuesday, September 2, 2014

.one pot mexican skillet.

i like easy meals. i like rich flavors. i like delicious. i love this dish.
brown a pound of ground beef. (i used vegetarian ground for this one). 
         
once your ground is browned (try saying that three times fast), add a packet of taco seasoning. 
 
add a can of tomato sauce and stir. complicated so far, right? 
 
plop in two cups of cooked corkscrew pasta or any pasta of your choice. 

add one cup of rinsed black beans. 
 
now pile on a cup of yellow corn. as opposed to neon pink corn. 

finish it off with one chopped roma tomato and one half to one cup of cheddar cheese. stir all of these ingredients in a skillet on medium high heat until hot, simmering and ready to eat. 

 
top your filling bowl with your favorite mexican yummies. i added guacamole.  if i had cilantro, i would have added that too and maybe a little more cheese if i had thought about it. cheese. more. mmm.

 
take a bite. enjoy!

one pot mexican skillet
what you need
1 pound ground beef (vegetarian ground can be substituted)
1 15 oz can tomato sauce
1 packet taco seasoning
2 cups cooked corkscrew pasta
1 cup rinsed black beans
1 cup corn
1 roma tomato, diced
1/2- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
toppings of your choice (avocado, cilantro, more cheese, sour cream, etc...)

what you do
brown your ground beef of medium high heat. add one packet of taco seasoning and stir. pour in the can of tomato sauce and then add the pasta, black beans and corn. top with the diced tomato and cheese and stir all ingredients together. cook over medium to medium high heat until hot and simmering.  top with what you like! 



Sunday, August 31, 2014

.distressed jeans: how to.


wanna get that distressed look for your little's jeans or for your own? let me show you how super duper simple it is! 


first, go to your local thrift store or garage sale and score a pair of jeans for super cheap. you're going to be "destroying" them after all. i snagged this pair for babycakes for two bucks! 
begin by putting a rolled up magazine down the leg you're currently working on. this is to prevent cutting through the back of your jeans or worse- your work surface. 


then, decide if you're going to leave them full length or cut into shorts. for my first pair, i decided to cut them into cut-offs. that's redundant. 


mark where you want to slice and dice. try to go for where you'd see a worn out look naturally; the knee area and around the pockets. using a thin sharpie, i marked where i wanted the cuts to be.  as a tip, the closer the cuts are together, the more it will look like a patch of distressed-ness. in the picture i'm showing, the marks are pretty far apart. i ended up going back and fitting two more between those to get the look i wanted at the knee area. the beauty is- there is no wrong way to do this.


take your razor blade and slice through where you made your marks. you'll be cutting your magazine that's inside the leg. pretty please be careful with your razor blade. 
p.s. my eye guy walked up to see what i was doing and said he was surprised i knew how to get the razor out of this apparatus. umm...i should be insulted, right? don't worry. i was. 
i forgave him though because i was in a crafty, peaceful state of mind.


bleaching is also a personal preference. i took this sponge and bleached vertically down the front of the leg. you could also just bleach spots here and there or not at all. i then laid the jeans out in the sun for about 30 minutes to let the bleach really work its magic. then, i washed and dried this pair and was stoked with how they looked when they came out. for only 2 dollars, babycakes got to sport a trendy little pair of shorts! have fun with this one. i know i will continue to myself. 


Monday, August 25, 2014

.apple brie eggrolls.

part three of my eggroll series has arrived. as you can tell, i was serious about using up my entire pack of eggroll wrappers. here's the sweet triplet - apple brie eggrolls. 
preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
pick your favorite apples. and by pick, i mean grab a couple from your market; unless of course you have access to an apple tree and then you can truly pick. now i'm jealous thinking you may have an apple tree. i'm apple green with envy.
slice and dice your rinsed apples.
in a roasting pan, sprinkle your apple chunks with cinnamon. bake for about 10 minutes at 400 degrees.
once your apples are soft and cinnamony, place them in an eggroll wrapper with a hunk of brie. then, drizzle a blanket of honey on top of it all before you roll up all this goodness. 
before you put your apple brie eggrolls in your oven (still heated from the apples), spray them with baking spray and then sprinkle with cinnamon sugar. 
crunchy on the outside, warm and delicious on the inside. 
enjoy!





Wednesday, August 20, 2014

.back to school cupcakes.

going back to school always has brought me flurries for a fresh start. new notebooks, crisp paper, sharpened pencils (i prefer mechanical), and the hope of something new. as a teacher, i still get these same good jitters at the beginning of every school year. i have the perfect cupcake to go with all this freshness. apple buttercream vanilla cupcakes. 
 for the cake to these cups, i used a recipe that i have used before from magnolia bakery to achieve a simple cupcake platform to the apple buttercream frosting to come.
no flavor reminds me of "school" as much as apples. so, to school basic buttercream frosting, i added a quarter cup of apple butter. the end result was a truly autumn-flavored frosting. 
i made several batches of the frosting until i finally landed on one i liked best that had a little cinnamon and a little more vanilla in it. 
while there isn't much taste in decor, there's a whole lot of visual appeal. so let's pretty these up!
raise your hand for sprinkles!
raise your hand for bright color!

raise your hand for back to school excitement! i hope you have fun with these cupcakes. i know i did.


back to school cupcakes
vanilla cupcakes
from magnolia bakery

what you need
1 1/2 cups self-rising flour
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

what you do
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Line 2 (1/2 cup-12 capacity) muffin tins with cupcake papers.

In a small bowl, combine the flours. Set aside.

In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugar gradually and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the dry ingredients in 3 parts, alternating with the milk and vanilla. With each addition, beat until the ingredients are incorporated but do not over beat. Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the batter in the bowl to make sure the ingredients are well blended. Carefully spoon the batter into the cupcake liners, filling them about 3/4 full. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center of the cupcake comes out clean.

Cool the cupcakes in tins for 15 minutes. Remove from the tins and cool completely on a wire rack before icing.

apple buttercream
what you need
1/4 cup apple butter
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 sticks unsalted butter
3-4 cups confectionery sugar
up to 4 tbs milk

what you do
beat the butter in an electric mixer for a few minutes until creamy. add the apple butter and vanilla. sprinkle in your cinnamon. then, slowly add the confectionery sugar and mix on medium-high. you're trying to whip the frosting into a fluffy buttercream. the milk is to add in a little silkiness or fluffiness as i like to say. if it is too stiff, you need a splash more of milk. if it is not stiff enough, add a little confectionery sugar at a time. 


after your cupcakes are cooled, frost and then decorate as you see fit. back to schooly is my suggestion. 

enjoy!




Sunday, August 17, 2014

.pizza eggrolls.

this is the second installment in my eggroll series. wow, that sounded uppity and official. let's just get to the gooey, ummy (my babycakes' version of yummy) pizza-stuffed eggrolls. 

while i could get on my soapbox about how there is no wrong cheese, i'll instead just tell you to stuff your pizza rolls with whatever cheese tickles your fancy. i started wtih a hunk of gouda and a little marinara sauce. 
throw in whatever pizza toppings your little hungry heart desires. i added pepperoni for my eye guy, seasonings, and some fresh mozzarella. more cheese you ask? wait, why would you even ask that?
roll up the eggrolls, par usual, spray with olive oil, and bake at 400 for about ten minutes.
have a bite of this classic comfort dish wrapped in a new package. 

pizza eggrolls
what you need
your favorite cheeses
marinara or pizza sauce
your favorite pizza toppings
eggroll wrappers
olive oil spray

what you do
preheat the oven to 400 degrees
stuff your eggroll wrappers with all your pizza toppings. roll them up, spray with olive oil and bake for approximately 10 minutes.
enjoy!


Saturday, August 9, 2014

.fireplace remodel.

probably, i should start with the actual remodel of the original fireplace before we brought it in the house. why do things the right way? instead, let me just show you how we made it look a little less empty.
*disclaimer: this fireplace is not meant to have a fire in it for two reasons. 1) there is no chimey or gas attached. 2) we live in florida.
here's the mantel before; with nothing but wall behind it. oh, and a really, really cute baby in front of it. now on to how all that changed. first of all, my eye guy cut a piece of wood to fit the back of the mantel. he then climbed a ladder to climb in a tree to saw down a limb or three to make my vision a reality. he had really nice background music that sounded a little something like this, "what are you doing? why do you need a ladder? that's dangerous! please don't do that! yes, i want the limbs, but aren't there lower ones? nevermind. let's just do something else. be careful! are you sure you're not going to fall? are you done? do you have to go up there again? don't cut yourself with the saw." soothing, right? 
after he cut all my little wooden rounds, i got to work putting it together. 
well, my eye guy painted the board black and nailed it to the back and THEN i got busy putting it together. 
 good thing my daddy taught me how to use a caulking gun way back when because that came in handy on this project. i pushed out some liquid nail onto each individual wood round and placed it on the board. my eye guy suggested i do one at a time so they would not dry and i did just this until he left the room. 
 i soon realized i could load about a dozen up at a time with the adhesive and put them all on the background. this made it go MUCH quicker and i am not great with patience. win win. 
 head's up- this project can be messy with the real wood and little pieces of outside falling off. so, use a towel like me. 
also, it was important that the wooden rounds looked like "stacked wood" instead of lining up evenly in orderly rows.
*disclaimer number two: i am fully aware that no one would truly believe this was stacked wood. it is more of an artistic take on the idea. so there. 
 i stacked and stacked until i had stacked enough. then, i wish i had stacked a little less. oh well, life goes on. all in all, i'm much happier with this look than the emptiness it had before. ta da!