Sometimes you get weird stuff in the Christmas swap

In case you were unclear, this post is a throwback to Christmastime–or winter-holiday time for anyone celebrating something else….YUP I’m inclusive.

So I feel like I need to give a little background to this post. My dad’s girlfriend (oh hey T) introduced this amazing game into our Christmas celebrations a few years ago. The gist of it is that everyone stands in a circle and most people are holding a present (all if you want to make sure everyone ends up with a prize…..I’m still resentful of 2012 when me and Meg ended up empty handed. T reads a story about the Right family…and you pass presents around whenever the words “right” and “left” are announced. It gets INTENSE…especially in my family because we love a good holiday punch. Long story short I ended up with a boxed Italian christmas cake “Panettone” that was regifted into the game by my godfather.

This box o' mystery. Do people really buy this for themselves? It's not all that bad to be honest...

This box o’ mystery. Do people really buy this for themselves? It’s not all that bad to be honest…

You’ve all probably seen them before in the grocery store. Like me you’re probably wondering what the F you do with this box of strange. Turns out Giada from the Food Network has the answer! You make a bread pudding!

Simple to make. Easy ingredients.

Simple to make. Easy ingredients.

It’s actually super simple to make—and BONUS: it tastes amazing. I made it for the New Years Eve party I went to. A bit of truth for you, this is some full fat sh*t. You gotta just roll with it on this one…lower fat alternatives just don’t hold up as well.

Panettone Bread Pudding:
-1  box panettone bread, crusts trimmed, bread cut into 1-inch cubes
-8 large eggs
-1 1/2 cups whipping cream
-2 1/2 cups whole milk
-1 1/4 cups sugar
-vanilla

Butter/Pam a dish and arrange the bread cubes in it. In a large bowl whisk all the other ingredients together and then pour over the bread cubes, and press the bread cubes a bit to make sure they’re covered. Let stand for about 30 minutes, occasionally pressing the bread cubes into the custard mixture. Bake at 350 for 45 mins until the pudding puffs up and the center is set.

Bread pudding is always the right choice

Bread pudding is always the right choice

I topped it with some homemade whipped cream. It went over pretty well.

In other newsssss….I just got back from a trip to San Fran to visit L! A group of us went, and we had a total blast celebrating birthdays and L’s new San Fran life.

The fog gets crazy in San Fran. It literally covered the bridge the day we arrived

The fog gets crazy in San Fran. It literally covered the bridge the day we arrived

We seriously had so much fun. Here’s a quick recap of the shenanigans we got into:

-self guided wine tasting tour where we got daytime buzzed drinking wine all day and playing bocci ball
-amazing dinner with L’s bro and sis in law and their 4 beautiful and way too lovable babies
-brunches
-sight seeing of the Golden Gate Bridge, the Ghirardelli  factory, the Full House houses, and so much more
-night tour of Alcatraz
-soaking up the sunshine…I was beginning to forget what it felt like
-meeting up with CB!!!
-fun bars, new friends, cocktails and Cards Against Humanity

The Ladies outside of the Cliff House after brunch

The Ladies outside of the Cliff House after brunch

 

K&CB together again!! #viadelmoro4life

K&CB together again!! #viadelmoro4life

 

Gettin' our drank on with amazing cucumber type cocktails with Death Star ice balls.

Gettin’ our drank on with amazing cucumber type cocktails with Death Star ice balls.

Check out this sweeet 20 piece knife set that C and D got me for my bday :) woot woot

Check out this sweeet 20 piece knife set that C and D got me for my bday 🙂 woot woot

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Fall Food Fiesta Episode 3

I think this will be the last in this fall food series…sigh. Although I haven’t completely resigned myself to starting to cook winter type foods just yet. It feels more like I’m simply refusing to give up apples than anything else lol. Oh well. YOLO. (ugh…I’m THAT girl…)

Basically I’m just obsessed with apples…

In this post I’m sharing two gems with you that I’ve recently discovered…a dinner AND a desert. Boom.

The first I’m going to share with you is somewhat similar to this recipe that I made last year, which I really didn’t care for. So I tried again. Its another attempt at Mac & Cheese with Caramelized Onions, Apple, and Bacon. So many things that I love…apples, cheese, caramelized onions, bacon…This time its all arranged in a way thats more delicious.

I won’t take too much time explaining how to make this recipe because I’ve done it a few times before. So I’ll just explain how to make it different from plain caramelized onion mac and cheese.

Cheesy bacony appley goodness.

Cheesy bacony appley goodness.

To make this you basically just add the bacon and apples to the recipe I linked to above. It’s not difficult. It tasted good. My one note on it was that I used Maple Bacon…which in hind sight was a little off…I think that regular bacon would work best…or maybe smoked.

I also tried my first ever crockpot desert…Crockpot Apple Crisp. Because seriously…how can you not, right? It’s actually really easy to put together. Here’s the biz you’ll need:

  • ~5 granny  apples, peeled and sliced
  • 2 Tbs lemon juice
  • 1/2 c flour
  • 1/4 c old fashioned oats
  • 3/4 c dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 c butter
Apples on apples...

Apples on apples…Put your peeled and sliced apples in your crockpot and coat with lemon juice.

steps 2 and 3

In a bowl combine all the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, spices, oatmeal). Then cut in the butter using a pastry cutter or some forks. Then top the apples with your crumb mixture.

Crock on high for 1.5 to 2 hours until apples are tender.

Crock on high for 1.5 to 2 hours until apples are tender.

After it cools down a little serve that biz with ice cream and EAT UP.

After it cools down a little serve that biz with ice cream and EAT UP.

This recipe will make your house smell AMAZING. A substitution I made was to use about half the oatmeal and use cereal for the other half (Special K Vanilla Almond to be specific, but anything corn flake-like will do). I mixed the crumbs into the apples rather than let it just sit on top so it did make the consistency a little different (not much of a crunchy top) but it still tasted good. You can also add pecans like the original recipe calls for.

When I make this recipe again I will consider using one of those crockpot liners because this was a little bit of a pain to clean up…worth it…but still work.

FUN ACTIVITY ALERT: My lady pals and I had a fun adventure a couple weekends ago so I figured I’d share it. We went to our first ever Blacklight 5K. It was SO FUN. It’s basically the Color Run except its a night and the colors glow under blacklight. It was most definitely NOT 5K…I’d guess it was maybe like 1.5 miles and in terms of logistics it was a bit of a shit show but it was still super fun to walk (running for fun is not my jam) and there was a big dance party at the end and they were throwing tons of color into the crowd.

The Before and After shot

The Before and After shot

I think I may have gotten some color on me....

I think I may have gotten some color on me….

 

What fall foods will you miss most?

 

mmmm…mmmm Appetizers

Well…not JUST appetizers…you could also call them sides. Or ‘small plates’ if you’re being fancy.

So last weekend was the Super Bowl. As my team was not in it, I really had very little interest in watching it. But, never one to pass up a gathering of pals, I went to my friend L’s place for some snacks and the game….aka food, wine, commercials, and BEYONCE (I mean the girl KILLED it right?!).

The other day I had tried out a new recipe for cheesy cauliflower bread sticks and they were super good, so I decided to make it for the Bowl.

Grate the cauliflower

Grate the cauliflower

 

The great thing about this recipe is that its SUPER easy AND its healthy! Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 cup raw cauliflower, grated
  • 1/4 cup egg substitute (or 1 egg)
  • 1 cup shredded 2% reduced fat mozzarella
  • garlic (to your own tastes)
  • seasonings (salt, pepper….I use Montreal Chicken Spice)

Mix grated Cauliflower, egg, and most of the cheese together. Add the spices. Spray some cooking spray on your pan and spread the mixture over it….try for a thin layer (similar to pizza dough). Bake at 350 for about 30-40 mins. Take it out, top with remaining cheese and cook for 10 minutes until cheese is melted. Then est up!

I didn't have enough cheese so I cut up some string cheese lol...it worked okay

I didn’t have enough cheese so I cut up some string cheese lol…it worked okay

 

Spread into a thin layer.

Spread into a thin layer.

It'll get firmer as it bakes in the oven

It’ll get firmer as it bakes in the oven

Top with the melted cheese. So cheesey and delicious!

Top with the melted cheese. So cheesey and delicious!

We also had some other amazing snacks

medjool dates stuffed with goat cheese, and wrapped in bacon NOM

medjool dates stuffed with goat cheese, and wrapped in bacon NOM

Caramelized onion and goat cheese crostini

Caramelized onion and goat cheese crostini

These crostini are AMAZING. And incredibly addictive. check out the recipe here.

I can’t wait to make these apps again. They work really well for get togethers of all kinds.

 

 

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

A Birthday Surprise…The Easy Way

So you may recall from some of my earlier posts that I love birthdays. I love making birthday treats. Sometimes though, it can be a pain in the a**. For the most part I like things simple. Which is why I really don’t mind using boxed cake mix and store bought frosting as a base (with some exceptions obviously) because you can do lots of things to make your biz unique.

This time around, I was even lazier (and a little bit poorer) than usual. Two of my co-worker pals happen to have the same birthday. So clearly I was going to make them a treat. Things I did not have/ did not feel like buying: eggs and oil. Usually those two guys are pretty essential for a box mix. Not anymore.

All this cake needs is the mix from the box and 10 oz of soda! BOOM. Stupid easy right?! Eggs Schmeggs man.

It looks really cool when you mix in the soda. NOTE: I used Sprite because I was making a white/yellow cake. If you’re making a chocolate or dark cake you can use a darker soda. Or be cool kid and mix like orange soda with a light cake. It also is a big cut to the calories of the cake.

It bakes up nice and fluffy…and you cook it per box instructions…so like 30 mins on 350.

Now my friend T is real into Nutella. She loves it. So since it is part her birthday I decided to make a Nutella frosting. I didn’t really have the time or funds to buys the ingredients for a butter cream from scratch so I checked the interwebs and found a cheat option. Mix a store bought white frosting with an equal part nutella. Its a little thick so I also added some milk to make it smoother. Eye ball that because it will vary based on amount of frosting and the consistency you’re looking for.

Then all that’s left is to frost your biz. The frosting is a little different consistency wise because of the Nutella so its a little thicker, but more durable than regular frosting. When I say durable I mean that should you say.. accidentally slide the finished cake into your electric kettle it really doesn’t even make a dent.

So I wanted to write on the cake. In the end I remembered that I had icing for this exact purpose. However, before my brain started working I attempted to whip up some colored icing to write on the cake…and totally failed and made a big mess lol. I attached a photo so we can all laugh and judge me together lol.

Long story short: Happy Birthday Louis and Tessa (who unfortunately ended up calling in sick and won’t get to eat cake with us 😦  )

Hearty Beef Stew to Warm Your Belly

Sandy oh Sandy. As I’m writing this the lightening is flashing and the thunder is booming outside my apartment. We were hit (more like open palmed slapped…half-heartedly) by Hurricane Sandy yesterday, and I figure this is some sort of aftershock-esque weather. I only had to work a half day at work because the T shut down at 2. But to be honest I was radiating with annoyance at having to go into work at all…there’s nothing I love better than a stormy day in my sweat pants. But whatever right? There are people with ACTUAL  problems resulting from Sandy so I’ll stop being a jerk.

this poor guy seems to be the only casualty on my street!

Anyways…I’ve been meaning to post this for like 2 weeks. So I’m sharing it with you now. A few weeks ago I busted out the ‘ole crockpot and whipped up some Beef Stew. As I’ve mentioned before in other posts I’m really not a soup person; it’s just not my jam generally. But I wanted to branch out and give it a go…partly because the weather turned arctic…remember that week? brrrrrr!

It’s actually really easy to put together and you don’t need any other pots or anything…it’s mostly just layering. Here’s how the magic happens: (recipe from Get Crocked)

Hearty Beef Stew

  • 2 lbs. stew beef
  • 1/4 c. flour
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 4 lg. carrots, peeled & sliced in 1/2 inch pieces
  • 3 lg. potatoes, peeled & chopped into chunks
  • 1 c. condensed beef broth
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 1/3 c. soy sauce
  • 1 lg. onion, sliced
  • 1 can tomato sauce (8 oz.)
  1. Layer potatoes on the bottom of your crock pot.
  2. Next, layer carrots on top of potatoes.
  3. Place meat on top of carrots.
  4. Sprinkle meat with soy sauce, salt, paprika, pepper & flour.
  5. Layer chopped onions evenly on top of sauce/seasonings.
  6. Combine beef broth & tomato sauce and pour over everything in the crock pot.
  7. Cover and cook on low for 7 – 8 hrs. (or high 4 – 5 hrs. if pressed for time

    Now I changed it up a bit to suit my tastes…I added canned corn and a sweet potato as well.

This is an easy recipe for putting the freezer for later cooking, or just feeding yourself slash your family. I think it’s a good one to keep in your arsenal for this winter!

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).