Sunday, September 9, 2018

Cheesy Roasted Red Pepper Dip

I've said it before and I'll say it again; I'm obsessed with dips. I have this restaurant idea where it's tapas style except it's just dips. Spinach dip, buffalo chicken dip, queso, corn dip....I could be here all day. I think it could work.

A good, savory dip can easily take the place of dinner for me. Heck, in my living on my own days I was no stranger to snacking for dinner instead of sitting down to a bigger meal. It's also a must-have when it comes to entertaining. A get together of any size absolutely needs to have a dip in the spread. That's a non-negotiable. Dress it up but having an assortment of crackers and chips, and go a little more gourmet with the selections, I like Stacy's chips and pita chips.

For your next party or solo dinner you're going to want to try this cheesy roasted red pepper dip. This one has gone down as my go-to. It's melty and cheesy but the powerful flavor of roasted red peppers helps cut through the cheese to keep this from feeling overly heavy. One difference I made was instead of just chopping the peppers, I put them in my Nutribullet and pulsed them a bit to make more of a paste, still had some pepper pieces but it was a very smooth paste that would be mixed into the cheese. This helps the whole dip have that pepper flavor and gives it a beautiful rich color.


-1 7oz jar of roasted red peppers, drained
-1 teaspoon smoked paprika
-4oz cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup shredded Manchego cheese
-1 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese
-1/2 cup Parmesan cheese (you can use shredded or grated)

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a blender or Nutribullet, pulse the roasted red peppers until smooth.

3. Mix all ingredients together and bake for 20-25 minutes.
Source: Closet Cooking

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Dark Chocolate and Creamy Peanut Butter Frosting Birthday Cake

If you're familiar with my blog, you might remember that I've had a long history with cakes. The cake bug bit me years ago when I discovered how to make my own fondant. Have you ever made fondant? Trust me, Cake Boss and any other cake shows on Food Network make fondant making and rolling look as easy as rolling out dough from a Pillsbury can.

Spoiler alert: It's not!

Making fondant involves a sticky mess of melted marshmallow, endless amounts of powdered sugar that poofs everywhere, and frantically kneading this super-glue like mixture until it eventually becomes a smooth ball of fondant. Next comes creating however many colors you need, which involves more kneading and your hands will have taken on every color of the rainbow by the time you're done. Now it's time to decorate the cake! The most stressful part of the whole process for me is "the transfer". This is when you have your main piece of fondant all nicely rolled out on your counter and you need to get that bad boy onto your cake without it ripping or splitting. If you've managed to make it past this part, the rest is more fun. Making the decorations and and the final touches creates your little work of art....that is ready to get torn up by serving knives and forks and devoured by hungry cake eaters. Take a look at some of my previous creations: South Park Cake , iPhone Cake (iPhone cerca 2011) Steak Cake, and Movie Cake.

But in more recent times, I've retired from the fondant business and instead focus my efforts on delicious frostings. The thing that bugged me about fondant cakes is that it's a lot of work and honestly, fondant doesn't taste good. Most people just peel it off and eat the cake underneath, and when you peel it off it usually takes with it the a good amount of the frosting. So here we are, this leads me to this post's recipe for Dark Chocolate Frosting and Creamy Peanut Butter Frosting.



Dark Chocolate Frosting
-1 10z bag Nestle dark chocolate chips
-3 tablespoons Hershey's Special Dark cocoa power
-2 cups powdered sugar
-2 sticks softened butter
-2 tablespoons milk

1. In a saucepan, combine the dark chocolate chips and milk. Over low heat, stir until melted, making sure never to burn the mixture.

2. In your stand mixer, combine the softened butter and chocolate mixture and beat until combined. Then add the powdered sugar and cocoa powder. Beat on low at first, then beat on high to make it light and fluffy. If mixture looks too stiff add a a tablespoon of milk to loosen up.

Creamy Peanut Butter Frosting
-1 cup creamy peanut butter
-1 stick softened butter
-2 cups powdered sugar
-3 tablespoons milk

1. Combine all ingredients and beat on high until light and fluffy. Yes it's that easy!!

Peanut Butter Frosting Recipe Source: All Recipes







Monday, August 6, 2018

Braided Apple Danish

I'm going to take a minute and start this post out a little differently. This is for all the moms.

Lately I've been feeling a little bogged down by trying to be Super Mom. What I've found about Super Mom is that at the end of the day everyone has been cared for except for...you guessed it ...Super Mom.

Laundry: Done
Dinner cooked: Done
Dishes: Done
Groceries bought: Done
Meal planned: Done
I can't even list out the amount of baby care
Self Care: Uhhh...maybe tomorrow

How many of you reading this have constantly pushed any self care to the next day, and the next day, and the next day, only to realize it's been months since you've done anything just for you? I know you can't see right now but I'm raising my hand saying "Me!!!!".

Let's all agree to something right now. Make a plan to do something just for you within the next week. However big or small you want. Take a long walk in a park, get a spa treatment, go to a museum, go shopping, make a bubble bath. We need to make sure we get on that to-do list or we realize it's been years since we put ourselves first.

Now, I realize it's bit odd posting a Braided Apple Danish after I just went on a rant about Super Mom. I promise this is easy! And quick! If the braided dough isn't perfect, no big deal. If it comes out seriously screwed up, cut it into slices and no one knows the difference. See? Those are those little tricks of a Super Mom.


-1 sheet puff pastry (Pillsbury makes this, find in your freezer section)
-2 1/2 cups peeled, diced apples (4-5 apples about)
-3 tablespoons butter
-1/2 cup packed brown sugar
-1 1/2 tablespoons flour
-1/4 teaspoon salt
-1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
-1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
-Sugar for topping (recipe calls for cane sugar, I didn't have it so used regular white sugar)
-1 egg
-1 tablespoon water

1. Heat over to 400 degrees. Defrost the puff pastry on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper. Do not try and unfold it until it has defrosted!!

2. In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter, then add the diced apples. In another bowl, combine the brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and flour. Add this sugar mix to the butter and apples and bring to a boil over a medium-high heat, then reduce to a simmer. Cook about 5-6 minutes until the apples are tender. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.

3. Take your defrosted puff pastry and open the folds. To make the braid pieces, make diagonal cuts from the center, out and down. I used a pizza cutter. Click Here to view photos of how to make the cuts. Place all of the apple mixture down the center of the puff pastry.

4. Time to braid! Start with the top left flap and fold down, then the right, and so on, making sure to tuck each flap inside or else when you bake this any stray flap not tucked down and inside is going to puff up (it's called puff pastry after all!).

5. Whisk the egg and water, brush over top all of the exposed dough and sprinkle with the white sugar. Bake 30-35 minutes until golden brown. Do not over bake!




Source: Little Bits Of

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Spinach Onion and Bacon Quiche

I almost have a 10 month old baby. Seriously, how did this happen so quickly? I used to think people were exaggerating when they said time goes by so fast when you have a child. But now, I swear I gave birth to her, blinked, and here we are 10 months later. My cooking and baking took a serious hit when she arrived. Not only am I constantly tired, I have zero motivation at the end of the day to start slicing and dicing.

Serving up a good breakfast can be a bit easier. I'm not tired from a full day of work, and have a bit more energy to get in the kitchen.

The original recipe called from spinach and mushrooms, I adapted a bit and created bacon, onion and spinach. Packed with savory flavor, and of course tons of melty cheese.






-1 Pillsbury pre-made refrigerated piecrust
-10oz box frozen spinach
-4 slices bacon, diced
-1 clove garlic, minced
-1 tablespoon EVOO
-1/4 cup diced white onion
-5 eggs
-1 cup whole milk
-1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
-1 cup shredded cheese (combo of Cheddar and Mozzarella)
-salt & pepper to taste

1. Heat oven to 350. Cook frozen spinach according to package instructions, drain well.When oven is heated, place your thawed pie crust in baking pan, prick the bottom with a fork a few times and bake for 8 minutes.

2. In a frying pan over medium heat, add the EVOO and diced onion. Cook 5-6 minutes until onions start to brown a bit. Add the bacon pieces and cook until desired crispiness. Add the garlic pieces and cook a bit more to release the garlic flavor. Pour onto a paper towel and set side.

3. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, and Parmesan cheese and season with salt and pepper.

4. To assemble, spoon the drained spinach into the bottom of the pie crust and spread evenly, if you don't use all the spinach that's OK. Next, add the bacon mixture, the shredded cheeses, and lastly pour over top the whisked eggs. Bake for 50 minutes.

Source: Sallys Baking Addiction

Monday, June 11, 2018

Stitch Fix Review

Being pregnant was great for my wardrobe. It was the first time since I was a teen I didn't feel like I had to hide my stomach or try every fashion trick to look as slim as possible. But then this thing happens where you have the baby and you're not pregnant anymore and everything goes back to the way it was but now you have a stomach that was is definitely more stretched out than it was before. And just like that I'm back to where I was...trying to hide, trying to use all black to look as thin as I could. And shopping? Oh boy...

My typical shopping trips looked a little something like:

1. Enter mall with positive energy excited to discover the next staple pieces of my wardrobe.
2. Try on countless pieces at several stores, of which 0 things work.
3. Accept that out of 7 billion people in the world I alone have the only body that cannot be dressed.
4. Get a Starbucks Grande Latte with extra espresso.
5. Continue to hide in all black outfits.

So you can see I really needed a fashion intervention. It was time for Stitch Fix.

The style review is pretty in depth. It's not just what sizes you wear, height, weight etc....you'll look at sample outfits and rate whether you love or hate it, you can share a Pinterest board of your style inspirations, and what you love to flaunt or hide. You also get to direct them on the price points you're comfortable with. And, it's not just clothes. You can opt to have accessories like shoes, bags, and jewelry included to finish your outfits.

How does the pricing work? Well, when they start your box you'll be charged $20, that's the only upfront cost. Whatever you decided to buy from your box the $20 will be deducted from the total. And, if you keep everything in the box you get an extra 25% off! So if you get your box and hate everything, you're out $20.

Now you wait for your fix, I selected for 1 fix per month. You'll get 5 items, typically 4 clothes and an accessory although I decided to skip the accessory for 5 articles of clothing. So far I've received 3 boxes, here is what I kept from each and what I spent.

First, your clothing selections come wrapped up like a little present. I feel like a kid on Christmas morning breaking open the Stitch Fix sticker and opening the paper.



Box #1
In the first box your stylist is getting to know you. I didn't hate the other items, but they definitely missed the mark. I kept this fun shirt that is pretty versatile for either a night out or walking the park.
Spent: $24


Box #2
I liked this box. The grey and white shirt I never would have tried on. Stripes?! Those must make me look fat, and huge, and wide, and and and...and it fit and looked awesome?? Ok keep. The dress was 100% me.
Spent: $56


Box #3
I feel like I'm back to where I started. The only thing I kept was....black. When I read the overview that's included in each box I saw I have a new stylist, so I think perhaps she's getting to know my style. I saw a positive change between Box #1 and #2...and then #3 was just "eh". The fits weren't right, a crop top that definitely was not me. But, I did like this even though it's right back in my safety zone.
Spent: $24


So what do you do now that you've received your box and have items to keep and send back? Well, it's really easy.

1. Go online to your account, checkout by selecting the items you're keeping and mark the items you're sending back. And, you can leave detailed reviews of all the items as to why you loved them, why you hated them, and what you thought of the quality and price.
2. They give you a prepaid USPS bag, simply put in the items you don't want and schedule a USPS pickup. Done!

Even though I never keep all items from the boxes, I've got to say I really love Stitch Fix. It's a fun excitement when you get your box knowing there's surprise treats inside. I also love the comfort and convenience of trying everything on at home, no need to trek to the mall. Another bonus is you have your entire wardrobe handy...you can see what the top looks like with your skinny jeans, what that dress looks like with your gold sandals, or what the distressed jeans look like with your favorite tank top.

If I get a box where I truly don't want anything, I'm out $20...which is pretty close to what I spent on that Starbucks triple grande latte.

Have you tried Stitch Fix? What do you think?


Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Blue Apron Review

As a food blogger I love discovering new recipes and coming up with my own twists to share with everyone. But...having an almost 8 month old baby drains me of almost every ounce of physical and mental energy. Sometimes, the thought of "What's for dinner?" makes my brain turn to mush and the only thing I'm capable of doing is pressing the "Order Now" button on Seamless. I'm pretty sure the Greek restaurant thinks I don't own a single cooking tool.

Enter Blue Apron.

For my first Mother's Day my mom gifted me a few weeks of this recipe delivery service and I was super excited to get started. I thought it might be helpful to share my experiences!

Spoiler: I love it and keeping with it!

1. If you're wanting easy peasy meals that are ready on the table in 20 minutes then you can see yourself out. This IS cooking. You will be cutting veggies. You will be dicing potatoes. You will be cooking. I think this surprises some people.

2. The weekly meal selection has great variety, you'll definitely find things you like. And, it's a great way to try new things with low risk. Something that kept me away from certain recipes in the past was having to buy so many new ingredients that I wasn't sure if I liked, or they were pricey. Then, if I don't like it I'm stuck with the ingredient. With Blue Apron I've already tried several new things! Guess what, I like miso, I like orange peppers, I like avocado salad dressing made with orange juice!

3. The recipes look daunting, but they do a great job of breaking down each step in the right order so every part of the meal is done at the same time.


4. The recipes are really good and have a lot of flavor. I was also pleased with the portions. They appeared normal to me. They are not the totally gluttonous portions a restaurant delivers but I think they are adequate and I was never feeling like I was short changed.


5. It typically only requires either a pot/pan or pan/baking pan. What I mean is, there doesn't appear to be recipes that require every pot, pan, and baking pan you own to get the meal done. It's condensed so that the cooking portion only needs 2 things. Less cleanup? Yes please!


6. They seem to get "easier". The first time I cooked a Blue Apron I felt like it took me longer than I thought, but now I breeze through them. You learn their recipe styles and you become more skilled at progressing through the steps!

So if you read my spoiler above this is a repeat, but I really do like it. Is it saving on my grocery budget? No. Is it super fast cooking? No. Is it one-pot meals? No. What it is is something that takes a little thinking off my plate. (pun intended) It solves the "What's for dinner?" dilemma. It delivers me my ingredients and I never have the moment of "I forgot the 'insert vital recipe ingredient here'!"

Do you agree with me? Have you tried a food delivery service?

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Summer Pasta Salad

Ok so pasta salad can technically be eaten during any season, not just summer. There's no food law that says you must wait until June 21 to begin consuming pasta salad and immediately stop on September 22. But, why I'm calling this Summer Pasta Salad is because it's such a popular item to bring to cookouts and pool parties and what I love about this recipe is that there is no mayo! We've all seen the "I've been in the sun way too long mayo-based pasta salad" on just about every buffet table at every cookout. Another great thing about this one? It's so dang good the bowl will be empty before anyone even has time to question how long it sat out.

A few notes on this...you definitely want to use small pasta like mini penne, mini bowtie, or shells. You can reduce the amount of sour cream and increase the French dressing our try it with a low fat sour cream. Be adventurous and add in a few other fixins if you'd like!


- 3 cups uncooked pasta
-1/4 cup diced red onion
-1 and 1/2 cups diced Canadian ham
-1 package frozen peas, cooked
-1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper
-16oz contained sour cream
-1/2 cup French dressing
-1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese

1. Cook pasta. In a bowl, combine the cooked pasta, red onion, ham, and peas.

2. In another small bowl, mix the sour cream and French dressing, then season with the salt and pepper.

3. Add the dressing to the other ingredients and stir until coated. Pour in the shredded cheese and mix well. Chill for a few hours before serving.

Source: Recipe Photos By