Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Pre-Purchased Advent Inspiration






A small moment of inspiration. I love Advent gifts especially for adults. This year I spotted these great Advent tins from Starbucks already filled with treats. I gave one to my niece "as is" but then I realized that I could personalize them by adding my own touch. I purchased one for a friend as part of a birthday gift and several for work for recognition gifts. I then hand picked inspirational quotes for each person, printed them and tucked them into the tins. I originally wanted to alter the tins by adding card making embellishments to the top of each but the quotes took quite a bit of time to prepare and stuff. I was worried about running out of time (before December 1st) so I ended up leaving them undecorated. Another thing I love about these tins is that they can be reused.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Sausage and Tortilla Breakfast Casserole by Macheesmo


Last night I whipped up a Sausage and Tortilla Breakfast Casserole, refrigerated overnight and then Alex slipped it into the oven while we were at the Turkey Day 5k Walk/Run.  I have a favorite Christmas Breakfast Casserole that I traditionally make but I was in the mood for a new flavor sensation.  I found this recipe on the Macheesmo (cooking with confidence) site:  http://www.macheesmo.com

Alex and I both really liked it.  Anthony still maintains that the original is his favorite.  I think with either you can't go wrong.  I am sharing his recipe here for easy reference.  The Macheesmo site is a lot of fun with interesting recipes and food combinations.  The picture above is from his web-site as I did not grab the camera fast enough before it was all cut up.  Enjoy!

Sausage and Tortilla Breakfast Casserole 
  • 1 pound breakfast sausage
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1/2 red pepper, diced
  • 1 (4 oz. can) green chile
  • 1 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 small corn tortillas
  • 4 ounces monterey jack cheese
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • Salt and pepper
  • Fresh chives, garnish
1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large skillet, add a drizzle of oil and sausage. Break up sausage and brown it well, cooking for 4-5 minutes over medium-high heat.
2) Add diced onion and pepper to the sausage and cook for another 1-2 minutes until veggies soften. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in green chiles and remove from heat.
3) Whisk eggs together with milk, paprika, and red chile flakes. Roughly chop tortilla strips and grate cheese.
4) In an 8x8 baking dish, spread out about a third of the tortilla strips. Then top with half of the sausage mixture and half the cheese. Pour in half of the egg mixture. Repeat: tortillas, sausage, cheese, eggs. Top the dish with the last 1/3 of the tortilla strips.
5) Bake the casserole at 350 degrees for 35 minutes or until the egg is set in the center of the dish. Remove and let cool slightly.
6) Serve casserole while hot with fresh chives.


Sunday, November 23, 2014

Kisses Candy Cane Blossoms Recipe



I am already 4 batches of cookies deep since discovering my favorite Hershey's Kisses are back in the stores.  The Kisses Candy Cane Blossoms recipe should be on the back of the Candy Cane Kisses bag and it is also available on the Hershey's web-site.  I am posting it here for easy reference for myself.  I like to use white sugar sprinkles vs. red or green as I feel like the cookies have a classier look to them.  Less color but more sparkle.  Time to purchase more kisses as I have run out already.

Candy Cane Blossom Cookie Recipe

48 Hershey's Kisses Candy Cane Mint Candies (unwrapped)
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
1 - 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extraxt
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons milk
Red, green or white sugar crystals, granulated sugar or powdered sugar

1. Heat oven to 350°F. Remove wrappers from candies.
2. Beat butter, granulated sugar, egg and vanilla in large bowl until well blended. Stir together flour, baking soda and salt; add alternately with milk to butter mixture, beating until well blended.
3. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Roll in red sugar, granulated sugar, powdered sugar or a combination of any of the sugars. Place on ungreased cookie sheet.
4. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until edges are lightly browned and cookie is set. Remove from oven; cool 2 to 3 minutes. Press a candy piece into center of each cookie. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely.

Makes about 48 cookies.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Carnival Breeze Melting Chocolate Cake Recipe


I discovered post-cruise that guests devour 242,000 servings of the cruise industry’s most popular dessert, the Chocolate Melting Cake. If you’ve never sailed Carnival, the Warm Chocolate Melting Cake is very popular.  Julie and I will tell you first hand that this is the best and most consistently prepared dessert on board.  We won’t comment on the rubbery pumpkin pie incident.  I was able to track down a post from a cruiser who managed to get the official recipe from Carnival on her cruise.  Why didn't I think to ask?  As winter lays siege I may need to try my hand at this favorite to remind us of warmer weather days!

Carnival Chocolate Melting Cake Recipe (4 Servings)

Ingredients:
6 oz. Dark Chocolate
6 oz. Butter
4 Eggs – room temperature
6 oz. Sugar
2 oz. Flour

Directions:
Melt Butter and Chocolate: 
Mix eggs and sugar and whisk for a few minutes. Add flour.
Add the egg mixture to the melted chocolate. Stir together.
Pour the mix in greased ramekins.
Bake at 390 degrees for 14 minutes.
Serve with vanilla ice cream.





Thursday, October 9, 2014

Pan-Charred Green Beans with Tarragon


Last night I made this new recipe from the April 2104 Cooking Light magazine.  The recipe was simple and easy to follow and the green beans were wonderful.  I did double the recipe to ensure that we would have some leftover for lunches today. 

Pan-Charred Green Beans with Tarragon

Hands-on: 11 min. Total: 11 min.

Cooking spray
8 ounces washed and trimmed fresh green beans
1 1/2 teaspoons butter
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
2 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1. Heat a medium, heavy skillet (not nonstick) over high heat for 2 minutes.

2. Coat pan with cooking spray. Immediately add green beans to pan, shaking them into a single layer; cook, without stirring, 2 minutes or until beans are very lightly charred. Cook beans 5 more minutes or until crisp-tender and evenly charred, tossing occasionally.

3. Remove pan from heat. Let beans rest 1 minute. Add butter; toss until butter melts and coats beans. Add vinegar; toss. Turn on heat if necessary to evaporate most of liquid. Sprinkle beans with tarragon and salt; toss. Serve immediately.

Cooking Light:  http://www.cookinglight.com

Variation: Pan-Charred Asparagus:
In place of green beans, use 8 ounces (2½-inch) pieces of trimmed asparagus. Use 1½ teaspoons toasted walnut oil in place of butter and 2 teaspoons lemon juice in place of vinegar. After tossing asparagus with tarragon and salt, sprinkle with 1 tablespoon chopped, toasted walnuts and 2 tablespoons shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano.
 

VARIATION: PAN-CHARRED ASPARAGUS
In place of green beans, use 8 ounces (2½-inch) pieces of trimmed asparagus. Use 1½ teaspoons toasted walnut oil in place of butter and 2 teaspoons lemon juice in place of vinegar. After tossing asparagus with tarragon and salt, sprinkle with 1 tablespoon chopped, toasted walnuts and 2 tablespoons shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano. - See more at: http://simmerandboil.cookinglight.com/2014/03/27/cooking-class-pan-charred-green-veggies/#sthash.7DmxxXZW.dpuf
VARIATION: PAN-CHARRED ASPARAGUS
In place of green beans, use 8 ounces (2½-inch) pieces of trimmed asparagus. Use 1½ teaspoons toasted walnut oil in place of butter and 2 teaspoons lemon juice in place of vinegar. After tossing asparagus with tarragon and salt, sprinkle with 1 tablespoon chopped, toasted walnuts and 2 tablespoons shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano. - See more at: http://simmerandboil.cookinglight.com/2014/03/27/cooking-class-pan-charred-green-veggies/#sthash.7DmxxXZW.dpuf

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Extreme Jewelery Makeover - Sea Inspired








 
From ordinary to extraordinary! I purchased ocean inspired jewelery from Francine my AVON representative which I thought would make a great base for an extreme jewelery makeover. I next discovered sea inspired pendents and charms at Hobby Lobby. I placed them all in the talented and creative hands of jewelery artist Kelly Reed and she turned them into one of a kind works of art! 
 
I am so excited to wear them on our cruise and to Lake Tahoe. I have included pictures of the original jewelery (with the exception of a set of earrings) which represent the "before" pictures. The "after" pictures feature three necklaces, a very special charm bracelet, and several pairs of matching hand made earrings. She also combined the three individual anklets into one and added additional charms. I will treasure my new ocean inspired jewelry sets and am really looking forward to showing them off while on vacation. Thank you Kelly for sharing your talents with me!




Sunday, August 3, 2014

No Crust Italian Squash Pie







Thank you Rebecca Dally Rodriguez for the simple and delicious new recipe!


No Crust Italian Squash Pie

4 cups thinly sliced yellow squash (or vegetable of choice)
1 cup chopped onion
¼ cup olive oil
1 tbsp. Italian seasoning
½ tsp. each salt, pepper and garlic powder
2 eggs, beaten
2 cups Romano shredded cheese (or cheese of choice)
Cooking Spray

Saute squash and onions in olive oil about 10 minutes and cool slightly.  Stir remaining ingredients in with squash and onions.  Pour into an oven safe pie plate (I sprayed mine with olive oil Pam cooking spray).  Bake 350 degrees for approximately 35 minutes.  Cool for 5 minutes and serve warm.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Bacon Braised Brussels Sprouts


This side dish was a hit with the family.  Easy to prepare and full of flavor!  I found the recipe in a special addition of a magazine called "Bacon" published by Hobby Farms.


Bacon Braised Brussels Sprouts

1 lb. Brussels sprouts
3 slices bacon
¼ cup pork or chicken stock
1 ½ Tbsp. Dijon mustard
2 tsp. honey
½ tsp. black pepper
salt

Cut the Brussels sprouts in half lengthwise so that the leaves of each half stay together, and set aside.

Cut the bacon into 1 inch strips, and place into a sauté pan over medium-high heat.  Once the bacon is crisp and fat is rendered, remove the bacon, and reserve the fat in the pan.

Place sprouts cut-side down into the pan, and season them lightly with salt.  Sear the sprouts 3 to 5 minutes until brown and crispy on the cut side.

Add the stock of your choice to the pan, reduce the heat to medium, and cover.  Cook 4 to 5 minutes until the sprouts are tender.  Finally, add the mustard, honey and pepper to the pan, and toss to coat the sprouts.

Transfer the sprouts to serving dish, and top with the reserved crispy bacon strips.  Serve while warm.

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