Fact: I Love Awards Shows.

Fun fact about me: I love award shows. I pretty much love all of them (except the Grammys…that’s not my jam). And guess what was just on?!…The Golden Globes. Of all the award shows the Golden Globes are my fave…it combines everyone worth seeing. TV stars: check. Movie stars: check check. Random musicians: they got’em (I’m looking at you TSwift).

I love the red carpet,

Those ladies, those dresses…THAT FACE! I LOVE IT!

I love the celebrities,

This is definitely one of the greatest moments of any awards show ever

I love the audience reaction shots

Goop is NOT entertained you guys….

…I love all of it.

So obviously I needed to gather than gang to watch this biz last weekend. Plus, its Tina and Amy; how can you NOT watch when they’re hosting?

I decided to make some golden globes for the golden globes….do you see what I did there?…such a clever girl. I decided to whip up some home made cream puffs…also some chips and dip and sangria because…well every party needs a beverage.

Party Punch!

Party Punch! check out this super simple recipe!

But back to the cream puffs. So for Christmas my Gram got me an electric cookie press (poorly named because it does soooo much more than make cookies). Said cookie press makes things like cheese crackers, cream puff, cookies, it frosts cupcakes and fills cream puffs…that kind of thing.

This beast is so much more than a cookie press....

This beast is so much more than a cookie press….

I’ll be honest, it did not go smoothly. Making the puffs themselves is actually pretty simple…except I messed it all up almost immediately. I misread the recipe and like tripled the flour…which incidentally was exactly how much flour I had at the time, meaning I had to RUN to the store for more and restart the dough.

The press came with a little recipe booklet with some decent recipes in it…which is where I got the recipe for the puffs.

Combine 4 Tbs butter and 1/2 c. water in a pan.  Take off heat and add 1/2 c flour. Mix it up until it cools. Beat in 2 eggs one at a time until smooth (like a thick cake batter).

Combine 4 Tbs butter and 1/2 c. water in a pan. Take off heat and add 1/2 c flour. Mix it up until it cools. Beat in 2 eggs one at a time until smooth (like a thick cake batter). Use the press (or spoons) to make 2 inch-ish blobs on your parchment paper lined cookie sheet.  

I had a few issues. The recipe have the wrong baking temperature…so my puffs deflated a bit (womp womp). You need to preheat the oven to 500F, then turn the heat OFF and put the puffs into the hot over for 10 mins. Then turn the heat up to 375 for about another 20 mins.

The primary issue I had was with the press itself. The design of this thing is ridiculous. It’s VERY difficult to fill the press with only yourself…1. it leaks out the tip 2. you have to either put the press in between your legs or (as my gram suggested) use a cup to hold it while you fill it. To me, this is a MAJOR flaw because the time and frustration it took for me to get the first batch of puffs in the over was insane. Ain’t nobody got time fo’ this sh**.

See what a mess this is?! You can see how much leaks out the bottom.

See what a mess this is?! You can see how much leaks out the bottom.

I swear I called my gram no less than 3 times that fateful Sunday when I undertook these globes. I want to love this press but we’re going to have to get to know each other better before I attempt to make anything again.

To make the filling I simply used a box of vanilla instant pudding (made with 1/2 c less milk) mixed with some homemade whipped cream.

To make the filling I simply used a box of vanilla instant pudding (made with 1/2 c less milk) mixed with some homemade whipped cream.

Golden GlobesAll the stress and frustration paid off though, because they tasted like actual cream puffs. And we were able to have our very own golden globes while watching the Golden Globes 🙂

See ya next year ladies.

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How to Stay In on a Saturday Night…and Not be Super Lame

2012 is all but gone at this point. Tomorrow in New Years Eve. Yikes. That went by real fast right? The thing about this NYE is that its on a Monday…ugh. As it happens, Monday comes right AFTER the weekend. I’ll be the first to admit that while my body may be 25, my mind-body connection is like 65. There’s just no way I could handle ‘going-out’ over the weekend and still be able to function for any semblance of a NYE function. But also, the part of me that knows I’m 25 feels super lame staying in both Friday and Saturday nights.

SPOILER ALERT: I came up with a solution. (Because fortunately I surround myself with friends whose bodies are also no longer 22 and don’t want to rage for 3 nights so close together). I decided to throw a ladies night at my place. I invited a bunch of my gal pals over for some snacks, some booze, and a showing of Pitch Perfect….I also encouraged everyone to wear sweatpants…because thats how I roll.

Punch

 

I was pumped for the opportunity to use my punch bowl that I got back in November. I made a simple budget friendly punch of Svedka Tangerine, pomegranate juice, Sprite and Raspberry Sherbet. So yummy…and also quite boozy so it all works out.

Check out the sweet new triple pot crockpot set I got for Christmas!

Check out the sweet new triple pot crockpot set I got for Christmas! Do you SEE how the lids can hook like that!! and ALL 3 pots have individual controls! Party perfect.

You can’t throw a party without snacks. I made my party a pot-luckish type thing, but I also whipped up a few faves. For something more substancial I made a crockpot full of my lentil chili. I also made this AMAZING dip that I had at my sis’s place about a month ago…Buffalo Chicken Dip.

Now the thing about this dip…and this is going to sound weird so just go with it…is that its almost like you can’t tell what you’re eating. Its super delicious and easy to make. Its creamy and cheesy and is very much like a cheese dip, but its totally not…its chalk full of chicken.

Simple Chocolate Fondue with all the Fixings.

Simple Chocolate Fondue with all the Fixings.

You can’t have a proper ladies night without some sort of chocolate. As I have a fondue pot that’s been itching to be used again, I decided on making a quick chocolate fondue. I also chopped up some strawberries, angel food cake, bananas, and pretzels to dip.

My gal pals also brought a TON of yummy treats to share and I can’t possibly tell you what those were or how to make them right now lol. Needless to say we were STUFFED by the end of the night.

Buffalo Chicken Dip:

3 cans canned chicken (1 large 2 small)
~2/3 bottle Frank’s Biffalo Sauce
~1/2 bottle Blue Cheese Dressing
1 8 0z block cream cheese
~1 cup shredded cheese
1/2 cup shredded cheese (to top the dip)

Mix all ingredients together, minus the cheese for the top. Bake for around 30 mins on 350, then top with cheese and bake another 5 mins until cheese is melted.

Chocolate Fondue:

2 bags Giradelli chocolate (Bitter-sweet I think)
~2 cups cream

Melt all this in your fondue pot (or over a double boiler if you don’t have one) and EAT IT.

Overall, I had a super fun time with my lady friends sipping on punch, stuffing my face with snacks, and laughing my butt off at Fat Amy.

Fat Amy

DIY Ink Coasters

As you know by now, this girl loves a good craft. On one of my many journeys through the depths of the Pinterest universe I can across this guy. (you have to scroll a bit to get to the ink coaster post).

This craft adventure appealed to me on many levels. First, I love coasters. I think they’re great. Second, the colors looked super cool.

 

It occurs to me as I’m writing this that I didn’t take any ‘during’ photos of this project…just final shots. Oh well…I’ll paint you a word picture lol.

 

These are actually pretty simple to make. But you do need to prepare a bit first.

Things you’ll need:

-Ceramic tiles (not found at many craft stores…check Home Depot around .15)
-Alcohol ink (try Adirondack!)
-Alcohol
-Aerosol finisher
-Paintbrush
-Pads for the bottoms (felt or cork work)

Instructions:

1.Start by coating your tile with regular alcohol. (which works the same as the ‘blending solution’ at the craft store and costs way less. Make it a thin layer.

2.Now start dripping little spots of ink onto your tile. Allow the ink to slide around a bit before adding your next color. Keep adding more color, until you have covered your tile completely.

The great thing about this project is that you can essentially start over if you don’t like it or you make a mistake. You can use a paper towel to dab any extra ink or just wash the whole tile clean in the sink. (which I absolutely did…twice).

3.”Once your surface has dried to the touch, take your coaster to a well ventilated area, and spray it with a coat of aerosol finisher to seal the colors. I find that the colors REALLY pop out after this step.” This is a quote from the blog I used.

I did NOT find this to be the case. What happened when C and I sprayed our tiles was that the colors ran a little. My ink blots were a little sharper BEFORE we sprayed them. I think maybe they needed to dry longer?

4. Once your coasters are dry, add felt or cork parches to the bottoms and use away!

 

My notes on this:

I will totally do this project again. I will definitely wait longer before spraying them with the finisher. Also, we gave them a few coats of the spray, but they really do need a bit more. I will probably just brush on some modge podge before really using them to give the designs a little more protection.

 

Crack Pasta…aka Creamy Garlic Pasta

Listen up folks. The recipe I’m sharing with you today is insane. So good. It’s like crack but in pasta form. Get ready to have your mind blown.

Originally my friend found this recipe on Pinterest and we made it for a ladies night dinner. It was a big hit.

 

The element that makes this pasta so good is that the pasta is cooked in chicken broth rather then water. I had no idea what a difference that makes. It adds so much flavor!

You can find the recipe here. But I’ll spell it out for you anyways.

Creamy Garlic Pasta
2 tsp olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp butter
¼  tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
3 cups chicken stock
½ lb spaghetti or angel hair pasta
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
¾ cup heavy cream
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

In a pot, bring the olive oil to medium-low heat. Add the garlic and stir, allowing it to cook for 1-2 minutes. Mix in the butter until melted. Add the salt, pepper and chicken stock. Raise the heat to high and let it come to a boil.

Once it is at a rolling boil, add the pasta and cook for as long as the box’s directions indicate. Reduce the stove to medium heat and mix in the parmesan until completely melted. Turn off the heat and stir in the cream and parsley. Serve immediately.

Make this for friends/family/significant others. Its super easy and tastes amazing. It’ll make people think you’re stellar in the kitchen!

Suck it Betty Crocker…I Make My Cake from Scratch

okay…so the title of this blog is only partly true. I frequently make cakes from a box out of laziness and poverty. But when I DO make a cake from scratch BOOM. It’s all “Betty Who?”

I had to buy some carrots a bit ago to make some Beef Stew (I’ll be posting about it soon!). I’m not huge into carrots…I only like them cooked. I needed to use them or lose them, so I decided that there was no time like the present to whip up a sweet treat.

 

To be perfectly honest I’ve never been a big fan of carrot cake. This post is making me seem super picky lol (I’m really not). For some reason I just never like carrot cake that much. But back in my Peace Corps days I had a garden and I grew some stellar carrots. Back then EVERYTHING I made was from scratch, so the idea of making a cake from scratch with carrots I grew all by myself was too good to resist. So I ended up finding an awesome recipe.

Blast from the past Peace Corps photo of the day I picked my carrots!

So the other night I decided to bring forth the magic….also I may have needed something productive to do while I drank my wine…

I used my carrot cake recipe and a great cream cheese frosting recipe from the one and only Martha Stewart.

Here’s the recipe:

1 c sugar
1 c vegetable oil
3 eggs
1 1/3 c flour
1/2 tsp vanilla (that’s pretty conservative)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon (again this is conservative)
2 c grated carrots

Combine sugar and oil in a bowl and beat in the eggs one at a time. Add vanilla. Combine the dry ingredients in a separate bowl and mix. Add it all together and mix in the carrots.
Put batter into a greased pan (spring forms work great) and bake for about 35 mins at 350.

Ok so in reality you can be a little more relaxed with this recipe. I legit dump everything in one bowl in whatever order I happen to read the ingredients. I’m not dirtying any more dishes than it is absolutely essential that I do.  Also when they give measurements for things like vanilla and cinnamon I take that as more of a suggestion. Who am I? the spice police? you use however much flavor you like!

Check out the link for the frosting recipe. Its super simple with only a few ingredients (powdered sugar, cream cheese and butter).

Apples to Apples: Part 4

I imagine at this point many of you are getting sick of this apple business. I get it. But maybe now its becoming clear for you just how many apples I picked that fateful Saturday…

This being the 4th installment of my apple series I’ll share 2 of the more unique recipes I tried. The first that I’ll talk about is a tasty Fall Apple Sangria….mmmm sangria….

Sangria is one of the easiest things to make because it is very forgiving. Personally, I’ve always had a soft spot for sangria because it satisfies so many needs…the need for some booze and it also is a tasty snack. Win win. Here’s how I made this fun fall beverage:

1 bottle sweet white wine (I used a Moscato)
1 bottle champagne (I used a Dry Cooks)
3 bottles of hard cider (out of like a 6 pack)
1.5 Tbs sugar
1/2ish lemon juice
1-2 apples

All you do is dump all this biz in a bowl, let it sit for a little while and DRINK UP!!! Hello Friday!…..I may have drank most of this myself one weekend….

The second recipe I’m going to talk about is one I found on Pinterest…shock I know lol. Its a shake up on Mac and Cheese. Its a Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese with bacon and apples.

Now my first issue with this was that I simply couldn’t find canned butternut squash….so I subbed in canned pumpkin instead. You can find the recipe here.

So the picture on the website made it look super good. Even mine photographed pretty well (even without the bacon). I have mixed feelings about the recipe. It has an “interesting” taste. I think that it’s because of the broth that the recipe calls for. Its not bad…its just very different. I’m not sure I would make it again. But I’m really happy I tried it out. And as weird as it may seem, the apples TOTALLY worked. They were crunchy and tart and went so well with the mac and cheese aspect of the dish. Plus, who doesn’t love bacon?

This actually concluded my mini-series on apples!!! And at the present moment I only have about 5 apples left that I’m just snacking on.

How has apple season been for you folks?

Muffin Tin Madness: Individual Chessecakes

mmmm…cheesecake. Right?

I’ve never made cheesecake before. This is partly because many recipes are a bit intimidating…mainly because it can take a while and you really need a spring form pan…which I don’t currently own. YET.

But in one of my frequent ramblings through the depths of Pinterest I came upon this guy (click me!). Its such a great recipe and super easy. And best yet: you make’em in a muffin tin. BOOM.  Also there’s a great instructional video to walk you through it.

I topped mine with some Nutella. YUM!