Monday, October 31, 2011

Halloween Spiders and Bloody Nails

Happy Halloween! This may come as a surprise, but Halloween is not my favorite holiday. I actually don't like it very much. I don't like being scared, I don't watch horror movies, and I have a phobia about people in masks. Halloween is fun in theory, but really it freaks me out. 
However, any excuse to make a fun dessert, well, I'll take it!  
Sorry for the less than fabulous photography, its getting darker earlier now. I don't get very much daylight when I get home from work anymore!  Anyway....I made these little spider cakes for my coworkers.
I also thought I'd be festive and give myself a Halloween manicure. I followed this fun tutorial by Andrea, at Andrea's Choice.  Check out how it turned out!
The red polish is really very red, but looks orange in this photo. 
This is about how festive I get for Halloween.  However, Thanksgiving and that's another story!
Whether this holiday is your thing or not, I hope you enjoyed it no matter what you did!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Soup Week: Roasted Eggplant and Tomato Soup

As promised, here is tonight's second post. I am in love with this soup. Roasting the tomatoes and eggplant really brings out the flavor.  
Roasted Eggplant and Tomato Soup
(Slightly adapted from Campbell's Kitchen)

1 Medium Eggplant, peeled and diced
4 Roma Tomatoes, sliced
2 Cloves of Garlic
Olive Oil
4 Cups Chicken or Vegetable Broth (I used chicken because its what I had on hand)
1 Tablespoon Fresh Basil
1/2 Cup Shredded Pepperjack Cheese

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Arrange eggplant, tomatoes, and garlic cloves on a baking sheet covered in foil.  Drizzle with olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper.
2. Roast for 25 minutes or until the vegetables are lightly browned.
3. Place vegetables, 1 cup of the broth, and 1/4 cup cheese in blender. Pulse until mixture is smooth.
4. Transfer to a large saucepan, heat to boil. Reduce heat to low and add basil. Cook for an additional 5 minutes.  Serve and enjoy!

Soup Week: Sweet Potato Soup

Sorry friends for missing the post yesterday! Some unexpected things came up and I was unable to get to my computer and write my post for the day.  So, today you get two soup posts!
Today's recipe is for Sweet Potato Soup.  I've been experimenting with different, hearty soups that are still within a calorie range I dont have to feel guilty about.  This soup fits the bill!
Sweet Potato Soup
(Recipe from Campbell's Kitchen)

5 Medium Sweet Potatoes
2 Tablespoons Butter
1 Large Onion, Chopped
2 Stalks of Celery, Chopped
6 Cups of Chicken Broth (or veggie broth could work!)
1 Medium Potato (I used a baking potato) Peeled and cut into cubes
1/3 Cup Maple Syrup
2 Tablespoons Light Cream

1. Pierce the sweet potatoes with a fork. Bake at 400 degrees for 1 hour until they are tender. 
2. Allow to cool slightly.  Cut in half and scoop out the inside flesh, set aside in a bowl.
3. Heat butter in a large sauce pot.  Add onion and celery to pot and cook until tender.
4. Add the broth and baking potato.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low and cook until potato is tender. Approximately 15 minutes.
5. Add syrup and reserved sweet potato.  Season with pepper if desired.
6. Using an immersion blender, blend soup.  Or, you can be like me and pour a little bit at a time into your regular blender, blend until smooth, and transfer to a large bowl, until the whole mix is pureed. 
7. Return to pot, add cream, and heat on medium until hot.   Season with salt and pepper to taste, if necessary.

This soup is really good with some of those Chinese noodles as a topping.  I cant take credit for that idea, that was all my boyfriend who discovered that one.  Turns out, he was right!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Soup Week: Taco Soup

Soup-er Soup Week Continues!! Today, a house favorite, Taco Soup.  You'll love how simple this is, and it also freezes well, so make a double batch!
Taco Soup
(From Cub Foods Flyer)

1 Pound Ground Beef
1 Cup Chopped Onion
1 Packet Taco Seasoning
3 Cups Hot Water
1 (15 oz) Can Tomato Sauce
1 (14.5 oz) Can Diced Tomatoes (preferably the kind mixed with green chiles)
1 (15 oz) Can Black Beans
1 (15 oz) Can Whole Kernel Corn
1 (4 oz) Can Diced Green Chiles
1 Cup Small Shell Pasta

1. In a large pot cook and crumble beef with onions until no longer pink.  Drain.
2. Add remaining ingredients, bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until the pasta is cooked.  About 10 minutes.
3.  If desired, top with shredded cheese, crushed tortilla chips or sour cream.  Or hey, just eat it as is, totally delish no matter what you choose!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Soup Week: Beer Cheese Soup

I am Soup-er excited to share all kinds of soup recipes with you this week! I've decided to dedicate this whole week to soups! Its autumn, its getting cooler, and there is nothing better than curling up on the couch with a warm fuzzy blanket and a steaming cup of soup! I've been on a soup making kick all week!  I tried some new soups, made some "old" soups, hopefully these recipes will inspire you to have your own soup week!
Today's recipe, Beer Cheese Soup!
Beer Cheese Soup
Adapted from A Fit and Spicy Life

1.5 Cups Diced Carrots
1.5 Cups Diced Celery
1.5 Cups Diced Onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Teaspoon Hot Sauce
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
3 Cups Chicken Broth
2 Cups Beer (I made this with Guinness and with a local dark brew. Guinness was the best in my opinion)
1/3 Cup Butter
1/3 Cup Flour
2 Cups whole milk
2 Cups Half and Half
6 Cups Sharp Cheddar Shredded Cheese
2 Teaspoons Worcestershire Sauce

1. In a large sauce pan, over medium heat, stir carrots, celery, onion, and garlic. 
2. Add in hot sauce, salt and pepper. I never really measure salt and pepper. I just add a heavy dash and then add more as I go along, if necessary.
3. Pour in chicken broth and beer.
4. Simmer until vegetables are tender. About 10-14 minutes.
5. Meanwhile, heat butter in a large pot on medium high heat.
6. Stir in flour, and with a wire whisk stir until mixture is brown. About 3-4 minutes.
7. Gradually stir in milk and half and half, while stirring, to prevent scorching.  Allow to thicken.
8. Turn heat to low, add cheese.
9. Add vegetable mixture to cheese mixture and mix in Worcestershire sauce.
10. Bring to a simmer, cook for about 10 more minutes.
Some people like to top their beer cheese soup with popcorn, but I'm a good old oyster cracker kind of girl!

Another tip, I like to make big batches of soup and freeze them in these Ball Freezer Jars. They are safe in the microwave so you can defrost them in there, or let them thaw and then microwave. Each jar holds 2 8 ounce servings. Our freezer is stocked full of these babies!

Stay tuned for more soups in my Soup-er Soup Week!  Whats your favorite kind of soup?

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Burberry Inspired Puppy Party

My little pup Sookie recently turned 3 years old. I put together a small Burberry inspired puppy friendly dessert table! Sookie's leash and collar are faux Burberry print. I decided to incorporate that into her birthday theme.  I cant wait to share the cuteness! Be prepared there are a lot of pictures!
I made this Pup Cake and it was completely dog friendly! 
Sookie loved her slice of cake!
I served her food on a silver platter....exactly how she deserves.
I had a variety of chewy treats
There were also mini pup-cakes!
I couldn't resist these mini donut dog treats!
I did have to include one people friendly treat. Vanilla cupcakes with Burberry cupcake toppers! Check out my Etsy Shop, these toppers are part of a newly listed Luxury Collection!

Both of our dogs loved all of the treats!
Caesar really loved sniffing around the table!
You cant have a birthday without a few birthday photos! Here is my sweet Sookie.
Whats a party without a party hat?!
Here is Sookie rocking her birthday coat! I got it from this fantastic shop 
We had such a fun afternoon. I cant believe my little girl is 3 years old!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A Pirate's Life For Me

Recently I had the honor of making cupcakes for a now 3 year old Chloe. Chloe's Mom, Vanessa asked me to make the birthday dessert for her daughter again. Check out Chloe's 2nd and 1st birthdays. This year, Chloe was really into Neverland Pirates. Vanessa and I decided to design cupcakes after the girl pirate and parrot on the invites, as well as treasure chests and pirate flags. Another boy attending the birthday party was also celebrating a birthday, so I made a pirate cake just for him too.  

I think the parrot is my favorite! Thanks Vanessa! Happy 3rd Birthday Chloe!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

One Love: Jamaican Me Crazy!

Remember waaaaay waaaay back when I posted this Jungle Baby Shower? Well that little bun in the oven, is now ONE!!!  A few weeks back was a celebration, One Love, for Isaac's first birthday. I set up a small dessert table with a Jamaican theme. 
I made a small banner with head shots of Isaac and various sayings but unfortunately, my camera didn't cooperate very well, and so many many of my photos came out blurry. I've had this happen once before and its really truly sad because they looked fine on the camera.  But enough about that, lets get to a few of the goodies....

We even had Rasta color jello cups!

Peace and Love!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Autumn Home Decor

September all the way through January is my favorite time for seasonal decor! I love decorating for autumn, Christmas, and in my circle January is a big month for birthdays, so I'm always hosting theme parties that month.  Today I'd like to share with you some of my autumn decor, thus far. Check it out!
I hope you enjoyed the mini tour of my decor. I still have some projects in the works, so hopefully I'll be able to add more this season!  Do you have any fun autumn decor projects?

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Autumn and Halloween Cupcake Toppers

Last week I reopened my Etsy shop with some new cupcake toppers for the autumn season. Check out some of the photos! If you're interested in ordering, please hop on over to my shop!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Rosemary Turkey Grilled Cheese

I'm not normally a fan of grilled cheese, and I guess technically since this sandwich has more than just cheese in the middle, one could contest that its not actually a grilled cheese, but more like a panini. But I'm not fancy enough for paninis, so grilled cheese it is!
Rosemary Turkey Grilled Cheese

Rosemary Olive Oil Bread (I found this in the bakery at Cub Foods)
Sliced Deli Turkey
Havarti Cheese

Spread Mayo on one side of bread. Layer on remaining ingredients, except butter.  On top of the top slice of bread, spread butter. Brown in a pan, butter side down. On the side of the bread facing up, spread more butter. Brown each side until crispy and cheese is melty.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Caramel Stuffed Apple Cider Cookies

Remember yesterday's mouth watering apple cider caramels? Well you're going to need a batch for today's recipe!
Caramel Stuffed Apple Cider Cookies
(Adapted from Scrambled Henfruit)

1/2 Cup Butter, softened
1/2 Cup Sugar
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
5 packets of Alpine Spiced Cider Instant Original Drink Mix (look for it with the hot cocoa mixes)
1 Egg
1/2 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
1/2 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1/4 Teaspoon Baking Powder
1/2 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
1.5 Cups Flour
24 Apple Cider Caramels, you can also use plain Kraft Caramels if you would prefer.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper. Don't skip this step please! You want the parchment paper.
In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and cinnamon.
In your mixer, beat butter, sugar, salt, and the 5 packages of apple cider mix.  Beat until light and fluffy.
Add in egg.
Add in vanilla.
Gradually add flour mixture.  Mix until just combined.
Refrigerate dough for about an hour.  Don't skip this step. The dough will be messy to work with otherwise.
Once cooled, form dough into 1 inch balls. Flatten the ball slightly in your hand.  Place a caramel in the center of the flattened dough and wrap dough around it completely.
Place balls 2 inches apart on the cookie sheets.  Bake for 12-14 minutes, until very very lightly browned.
Slide the parchment paper onto a cooling rack. Allow them to cool about 10 minutes, then gently twist off parchment and flip over to finish cooling.
Maybe its just me, but about half of my cookies burst open and did not look pretty. I'll tell you what, pretty ain't everything honey. Those ugly burst open cookies still tasted amazing.  So don't get discouraged if you end up with fugly cookies. Just sit back and enjoy.
Yield: 24 cookies

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Apple Cider Caramels

Salted caramels are totally worth the hype. Apple Cider Caramels are the next big thing. These babies are amazing!! When you make a batch, make sure to set some aside.  If you must, lock them up, or have someone you trust hide them from you. Whatever you need to do to keep from eating the whole batch.  You will want some for tomorrow's recipe.
Apple Cider Caramels
(Recipe from Our Best Bites via Blondie Cakes)

2 Cups Apple Cider
1 Cup Heavy Cream, divided
1 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
1/4 Teaspoon Allspice
1.5 Cup Sugar
1/3 Cup Light Corn Syrup
1/2 Cup Butter, Cubed

Spray an 8x8 pan with cooking spray.  Place a piece of wax paper on the bottom, and up the sides of your pan.  Spray again with cooking spray. 
Pour cider into a medium saucepan. Bring to boil. Boil on high until it is reduced until about 1/3 cup. Approximately 20 minutes. 
In a small bowl, combine 2/3 cup cream, cinnamon, allspice and reduced apple cider. Set aside.
In a large saucepan, combine sugar, 1/3 cup cream and enough water to the 1/2 cup line on the measuring cup. Add in the corn syrup.  Cook over low heat until the sugar dissolves and the temperature reaches 234 on a candy thermometer. 
Remove from heat, and slowly whisk in cream mixture. 
Add cubed butter and stir until everything is incorporated.
Return the pan to stove. Cooking on low heat, stir frequently until the temperature reaches 248 degrees.
Remove from heat and pour into prepared pan. Let mixture cool completely at room temperature.  You can speed up the cooling process by placing pan in the fridge. However, allow it to sit at room temperature for at least 10 minutes before trying to cut and eat.
Cut cooled caramel into logs, squares, whatever shape you desire, and wrap in wax paper.
Store in an air tight container for up to 2 weeks, if you can keep away from it that long! It lasted 48 hours in my house!
Don't forget, come back tomorrow for another yummy apple recipe, and you'll want some of these caramels for it!!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Slow Cooker Baked Apples

Oh yes, its apple season! This week I'll be posting some deeelicious apple recipes. To kick it off, some easy peasy slow cooker baked apples!
Slow Cooker Baked Apples
(Adapted from Skinny Chef)

1/4 Cup Brown Sugar
1/4 Cup Pecans
2 Tablespoons Butter, softened
1 Teaspoon Cinnamon
4-6 Honey Crisp Apples
1/2 Cup Apple Cider

Core apples and place in crock pot. In a food processor place brown sugar, pecans, butter and cinnamon. Pulse a few times to blend mixture together.  Fill the cored apples with pecan mixture. Pour apple cider over apples. Cover and cook on high heat for 2.5-3 hours, until the apples are soft.  Serve warm with a side of vanilla ice cream.


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