Thursday, November 17, 2011

Starbucks Let's Merry!

Hello Everyone! 

To me there is nothing better than walking into Starbucks and seeing the holiday decorations while Christmas music is playing. So I thought I would spread the cheer and let you know that Starbucks has a great BOGO sale going on until Sunday. Starbucks Let's Merry! From 2-5pm each day there are Buy One Get One holiday drinks! 


Thursday, November 10, 2011

Thanksgiving "Must Have" & "Must Try"

I can't explain how excited I am for the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday season. Not only is there amazing food during the holidays, but everyone is in the happiest mood too. You get to see family and friends as everyone is brought together by a hearty meal. I am looking forward to this holiday season more than ever because I have not seen my family in… too long. I decided I would compile a Must Have list for Thanksgiving: list of dishes I love and look forward to making and having each year. I also put together a Must Try list of recipes I have come across that I am hoping to try making this year.

Must Have:

- Classic Green Bean Casserole
- My Grandma’s Homemade Cranberry Sauce
- Sweet Potato Bake with Marshmallow, brown sugar and pecans
- Pumpkin Pie
- Apple Crisp
- My Mom’s 7-layer Salad
- Candied Bacon
- Apple Snicker Salad
- Homemade Stuffing

Must Try:

- Cranberry Cream Cheese Dip
- Squash Soup
- Pumpkin Cookies with Cream Cheese Frosting
- Homemade Jalapeno Poppers with Croissants
- Sliced Baked Apples
- Baked Zucchini with Mozzarella
- Butternut Squash Soup

I’ll let you all know what I end up making and what turns out the best! 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Chilly Billy's Froyo


In Dinkytown by campus (University of Minnesota) we have a frozen yogurt restaurant called Chilly Billy's. It opened as a new business last year and has been a huge hit ever since. My friends and I went tonight for some froyo, so good! There are always over 8 flavors to choose from including pumpkin, berry, cake batter, red velvet, and more. Then they have a toppings bar where you put your own toppings of candy, fruit, syrups, cheesecake bites, sprinkles and such on your froyo. You pay per ounce of your cup so its just the amount you want, what's more perfect than that!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Pumpkin Cream Cheese

For the fall season I have the urge to cook everything with apples, pumpkin and cinnamon just to be festive! I made breakfast with for my roommates, and to try something new, I made pumpkin cream cheese for our bagels. It was absolutely delicious and not too hard either. For the spread I used...

8 oz cream cheese block
4 oz pumpkin pie filling
1 T vanilla extract
2 T sugar
a couple shakes of cinnamon

Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl until it is smooth and spreadable


I served the cream cheese on a sesame bagel with cheesy scrambled eggs and a side of bacon! 

Another way to eat this amazing cream cheese is with apples! I cut up a granny smith apple and use the cream cheese as a dip. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Cocoa and Fig Cake Pops

Whenever we have a birthday at my work, our boss gets everyone cake pops and the birthday person a cupcake. I love the tradition and it makes birthdays fun for everyone! The cake pops are always from Cocoa and Fig in Nicollet Mall downtown Minneapolis. I highly recommend them for anyone that needs to bring a treat to work or for a fun treat anytime! The flavors we have tried so far that were absolutely mouth watering were pumpkin cake, red velvet cake, black velvet cake, peanut butter, and vanilla. Trying these cake pops is a must!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Asian Salad

For a quick lunch today I put together a simple asian salad. In my salad I put..
-Spring Mix and baby spinach
-Sweet Golden Cherry Tomatoes
-Annie's Natural Asian Sesame Salad Dressing
-Chicken Tenders sliced into strips (it is super easy to buy frozen breaded chicken tenders because they take only 2 minutes in the microwave and you can eat then as chicken or top them on salads or pasta!)



Some other toppings for asian salads (that I did not have in my kitchen) would be pea pods, sesame seeds, mandarine oranges, raw broccoli or mushrooms.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Pesto Mayo Chicken Wraps

On a college budget it is hard to get a lot of ingredients for elaborate recipes. Pesto Mayo chicken wraps are a great quick and simple spin on the simple chicken wrap. For my wraps I used:

-Mayonnaise
-pesto
-frozen chicken
-small tortillas
-pepper jack cheese
-lettuce



I cooked the chicken on the George Forman grill we have. I then melted sliced cheese onto two small tortillas. I mixed pesto and mayo together in a bowl and then put them all in a wrap! You will want to eat this pesto mayo on everything, so good!

Banana Cream Pie


I was finally brave enough to make a homemade banana cream pie. Not only was it fun to make the pudding from scratch, but the pie was delicious! I wanted it to be the original taste of the classic banana cream pie so I used my mom's Betty Crocker cookbook.



Saturday, August 20, 2011

Farmer's Market

Every Saturday morning in Madison, WI, there is a farmer’s market around the Capitol Square. This is one of my favorite summer events because of the fresh produce at all the booths. Farmers come to sell their produce including tomatoes, lettuce, corn, berries, and many more. When at the farmer’s market so early on a Saturday, it is best to buy a fresh doughnut and coffee to walk around the square.




On this past trip to the market, I bought grape tomatoes, cherries, cucumbers, and cheese curds.  

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Turkey Tetrazzini

For family dinner tonight, I made turkey tetrazzini. I used up some of the leftover turkey we had while still making a delicious dinner! I got this recipe from Taste of Home

Ingredients:

1/2 lb. uncooked spaghetti
1/4 finely chopped onion
1 tablespoon butter
1 garlic clove (minced)
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 can (14.5 oz) chicken broth
1 can (12 oz) fat-free evaporated milk
2-1/2 cups cubed cooked turkey breast
1 can (4 oz) mushrooms stems and pieces, drained
1/2 teaspoon salt
dash of pepper
2 tablespoons grated parmesan
1/4 teaspoon paprika

Directions:

Cook spaghetti and drain.
Saute onion in butter until tender in a large sauce pan. Once soft, add the garlic and cook for another minute.
Combine the cornstarch and chicken brother until smooth. (I used homemade chicken broth that my mom made earlier to have a little more flavor than a can)
Then stir the cornstarch and broth mixture into the pan with the onion and garlic. Bring it to a boil and cook for 2 minutes. Once thickened, reduce heat to low.
Add the milk and cook for 2 or 3 minutes while stirring. Then add the spaghetti, turkey, mushrooms, and salt and pepper. 
I then poured the mixture into a 13x9 pan sprayed with cooking spray. Bake covered at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.
Take out the pan and sprinkle on the cheese and paprika. Bake for another 5 minutes(or until heated through) uncovered.


Monday, August 1, 2011

Fruit Pizza


As the end of the summer rolls around, almost everyone has had a grad party. My brother’s grad party was this Saturday with lots of people and food to celebrate his graduation from high school. Each person does their party a little different and there are many food options. At mine years ago, I had hamburgers and brats along with the classic summer foods of fruit, potato salad and corn. For my brother’s, we did hot turkey and sloppy joe sandwiches (also known as Spanish hamburger). I helped my mom with as much as she needed whether it was grocery shopping or cutting veggies. As my contribution to the party, I prepared fruit pizzas. Fruit pizzas can be prepared in various ways, here is how I make them!


Dough:
2 containers of Simple Simon’s bakery sugar cookie dough (any sugar cookie dough is fine)

Fruit:
Strawberries
Blueberries
Kiwi
Mandarin oranges
Pineapple

Topping:
12 oz (1 ½ blocks) of cream cheese
1/2 cup of sugar
1 t vanilla

(I had to make 3 large pizzas because of the size of the party so I tripled the recipe using 6 blocks of cream cheese)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread flour on the counter and roll out the dough to the size of the pan. Roll the dough onto the rolling pin, and then unroll it onto the ungreased pan. The dough should be less than ½ an inch thick.

Bake in the oven in the center rack for about 8 minutes, until golden brown on top. Let that cool while you make the topping. Combine the cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla in a mixing bowl. Mix the topping on medium speed until smooth and blended thoroughly. 




Once the pizza cools, spread the topping to desired thickness and place the fruit on the cream cheese topping. Because my brother is planning on attending UW Madison, I made the fruit in the shape of a W for Wisconsin. I also made a “2011” design as well for the year he graduated.





Sunday, July 31, 2011

Steak Fajitas

The other week my boyfriend and I made steak fajitas. With endless food options at the grocery store, it can be a task deciding what to make, but we found pre-marinated steak and bell peppers in the deli. This quick and easy option made for a delicious night of Mexican food. We bought ingredients for salsa and some tortillas to complete our menu.
 
Salsa:
-onion
-jalapeno
-tomatoes
-parsley
-lime juice
-tomatillos

Multigrain Tostitos are my favorite chips with salsa, and healthier than most other chips as well!

Fajitas:
-marinated steak, bell peppers, and onions
-white flour tortillas
-refried beans
-cheese
-sour cream
-lettuce

We sautéed the meat and veggies in a pan until the steak was to our liking and then heated up the refried beans and melted cheese over them.

Mexican rice:
A cheap boxed rice from the store (we are on a college budget…). Cooked with directions on the box, which was about 25 minutes.


Once the meal was prepared we set it all up with the meat on each plate, a plate of fajita toppings including the beans and lettuce and sour cream, the tortillas wrapped in foil to keep them warm and soft, an the salsa and chips on the side! 

Friday, July 29, 2011

Dumser's Dairyland

The boardwalk in Ocean City has many treats. There is everything from French fries to waffle ice cream sandwiches. Being there for over a week allowed us to try some of the goodies each night we ventured to the boardwalk! We tried the funnel cakes, the ice cream cones, caramel apples, and salt-water taffy. When we got ice cream, the options were endless. There are hand-dipped cones, polish ice, homemade ice cream, soft serve, sundaes, and frozen bananas.


My favorite ice cream was at Dumser’s Dairyland. I got home-made black cherry ice cream on a cone dipped in dark chocolate that hardened as a shell on top

Thursday, July 28, 2011

PGN Crab House

We stayed on a beach house while in Maryland, giving us the chance to see crabs at night on the beach. We had to eat seafood of course, so for our big family dinner (14 of us!), we decided to go to a crab shack. Needless to say this got pricy, but being a one-time thing it was definitely worth it. Out of everyone, only 4 did the all you can eat crab feast, while others had different seafood including crab cakes and scallops. I ordered all you-can-eat crabs, which came with an excessive amount of food!


Included in the all you can eat was:
-medium crabs by the tray-full until you say no more
-french fries
-fried chicken
-corn on the cob
-dinner rolls


They provided a mallet and knife to crack open the crab bodies to get to the meat. The best part about the meal other than eating fresh crab right from the ocean was cracking opens the shells! The restaurant provided written and illustrated instructions on the proper way to crack open, clean, and eat a crab. After 2 hours of picking and feasting, we called it quits on the crab feast. I would say the seafood meal was a success



Conner's Beach Cafe


For family vacation this summer, we traveled to Ocean City, MD. While in Ocean City we went to eat on the boardwalk almost everyday. One day we stopped at Conner’s, a little beach cafe with the classic burgers and sandwiches. I got a chicken cheesesteak sandwich and my brother got a buffalo chicken sandwich. Both were amazing and came with sweet potato fries or chips. You can never go wrong with sweet potato fries! I would recommend Conner’s for lunch; it was quick and was not too heavy of food for the 97-degree day. The perfect sandwich place!



The boardwalk (and Conner's) at night


Here are some suggestions of my personal favorite sandwich toppings. A sandwich can be done thousands of ways, but I have found some of these to be essential when eating a sandwich!

Baker’s Dozen: Sandwich Ingredients
1. cheese
2. lettuce
3. onion
4. turkey
5. pastrami
6. salami
7. avocado 
8. banana peppers or bell peppers
9. pesto
10. alfalfa sprouts
11. pickles
12. bacon
13. tomato

Some great sandwich places around my area: Potbellys, Eaton’s Subs, and Copper Rock Cafe!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Stuc's Pizza

The other night, my family and I went to one of our favorite local restaurants: Stuc’s Pizza. At my house, when getting take out pizza, Stuc’s is our go-to spot. This restaurant has the best pizza in the area and is known for their delicious deep-dish pizzas if you ask me.

When at Stuc’s the deep-dish pizzas take longer than any of the other menu items because of the amount of time it needs to cook. We decided with 10 hungry people that hand-tossed and thin-crust pizzas would suffice our Stuc’s craving. A meat-lover’s pizza, Hawaiian and Stuc’s Specialty were our three pizzas, plus garlic cheesy bread and a salad as appetizers. I recommend Stuc’s to anyone in the area!

On my tasty scale, I give Stuc’s 4 peaches! 

Lemon Pocket Cake

For my uncle’s birthday, I made him a lemon pocket cake! It is basically a vanilla cake with lemon pie filling and it is one of my family’s favorites. The preparation was simple and everyone loved the light lemon flavor on a hot day!

Ingredients

Cake mix, vanilla
Crisco for the pan
Lemon pie filling, one can
Lemon frosting (Pillsbury)
8 oz cool whip

Directions

Preheat oven to 350. I used a 13x9in pan and greased the bottom only with Crisco. To make this cake, prepare the batter of the cake mix using whatever ingredients it calls for, and then open the lemon pie filling. Drop heaping tablespoons of the pie filling into the cake spreading them out evenly and using the entire can of pie filling. Then bake the cake for 28 minutes at 350 degrees.
For the frosting, mix together the lemon frosting and cool whip. Once the cake is done, let it cool, frost the cake with the lemon-whip, and enjoy!



Because my uncle loves to play the game Boggle, we decorated the cake to have a Boggle board that had the words happy birthday in it! 






Thursday, June 30, 2011

Sunday Grilling


Sunday’s are a perfect grilling days during the summer. You can sleep in, take time with getting supplies, and grill a late lunch for everyone on a sunny day! For my family, we grilled out in the afternoon so we could be outside and enjoy some fresh summer food.

On the grill we had: corn, brats, and chicken.

Corn is my personal favorite grilling food because of the crisp fresh taste along with the smoky grill flavor. To grill the corn, I removed the hair fibers on top and any loose husk pieces without shucking it. I then soaked the corn in water for about 30 minutes before placing them on the grill still in the water soaked husk. This keeps in the moisture and adds the grilled taste.





We boiled the deli-fresh brats in water and beer then placed them on the grill.



The chicken marinated in an easy Ms. Dash mesquite grilling marinade for about an hour then we placed the chicken breasts on the grill as well.


In the house, my mom and I worked on preparing the baked beans, slicing up brat buns from the bakery, potato wedges and cutting up a fruit salad. We prepared potatoes by slicing red potatoes into fourths and drenching them in olive oil. The potatoes baked in the oven on a stone. These potatoes are great for parties and grilling because it is not an entire baked potato, they’re more like French fries being easier to eat outside at a cookout.


There is nothing better than a summer day cookout! I love trying new things on the grill, here is an article I read about corn on the cob options, check it out!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Door County

On Saturday the weather was perfect for a road trip to Door County. We went as a family with everyone in two cars to go explore the cities in famous Door County, WI. When it comes to planning a trip, activities typically revolve around food even if that was not the intent. Finding ice cream shops, candy stores, and great places to eat are always fun. Other than getting food, there are beaches, shopping, festivals, and wineries through the Door County area. 

The beaches in Ephrium, Fish Creek, and at Peninsula State Park are the best in my opinion. We bought a day pass at Peninsula State Park to relax and hit the beach.

We went to Fish Creek, Ephraim, Bailey's Harbor, Egg Harbor, and Sister Bay. There are great shops in Fish Creek and Sister Bay. While shopping in Fish Creek, we came across a fish boil. The fish boil was for that night's dinner at a local restaurant. We decided to make reservations at another place for dinner long before shopping, but the fish boil was great to watch!





The man explained that they boiled water and salt and then added the fish in a basket to the pot. The gray film layer on the top of the water was from the oils of the fish, which needed to be removed. To do so, they boil over the pot by pouring kerosene on the fire which removed that top layer of the water along with the oils. 



For dinner we decided to eat at Gibraltar Grill, a restaurant in Fish Creek. Open for lunch and dinner, this place has incredible food. We all got something different and enjoyed each dish! Despite not taking reservations on the patio, they were able to seat 9 of us outside on the patio where they have seating, a covered bar, and fireplace. The atmosphere was great with outdoor lighting and impressive flowers surrounding the restaurant. Some of the dishes we ordered were...

Crab Cakes


 Bread and pita with various dips 


 Scallops over spinach and red pepper risotto 

I would recommend this place to anyone! The service was incredible as they kept refilling drinks without being disruptive. The scallops and other seafood were cooked perfectly. The food was simply delicious. On my personal tasty scale of 1-5 peaches, I would give this place 3 peaches... it was amazingly peachy! 


Thursday, June 23, 2011

Chocolate Chip Cookies

The chocolate chip cookie is a classic treat. Since we had guests tonight, I decided to bake some cookies as a simple gesture. The smell was incredible, I mean who doesn't love cookies. This is one of my mom's favorite old recipes, but we are not quite sure where it came from.

Ingredients:
1 cup Crisco baking stick, butter flavored
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 bag  "milk chocolate" chips


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Blend the Crisco, granulated sugar, brown sugar, eggs and vanilla in a large mixing bowl. Then in a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda and salt. Add the flour mixture into the large bowl and mix together. Once mixed, add in the bag of chocolate chips. Spoon tablespoons of dough onto an ungreased cookie sheet leaving two inches between cookies. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Let cook and enjoy your tasty cookies!





As a twist on the classic cookie, add some ice cream to make an ice cream cookie sandwich or put them in a bowl for a chocolate fudge cookie sundae! However you eat them, these cookies are delicious.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Food for Kids

As my summer job, I am a nanny. Now the toughest part, other than finding things to do is making kid-friendly food with minimal prep while trying to be healthy. Luckily for me, carrots, grapes, bananas, and peaches are always around for us to snack on (healthy and easy!). Here’s some great tasty food ideas for when working with kids!

Breakfast: fruits, yogurt, waffles or bagels. Our personal favorite at the moment are smoothies. Making smoothies also adds an activity for us.

Lunch: Mac and cheese has been a big hit (almost 3 times a week). To keep the sodium and preservatives at a minimum, we eat Simply Organic Mac and cheese. Not as cheesy as some of the rest but not too bad for a much healthier option. Burritos or nachos have also been a delicious easy option. When using minimal ingredients (picky kids) along with organic beans and cheese, it’s pretty healthy! Another popular item I consistently make is cheesy bread dunked in marinara. For this cheesy bread below that we made last week, all I used was half a loaf of French bread, butter, mozzarella cheese, and marinara sauce. In the oven at 350 for a couple minutes to melt the cheese and we had a quick lunch. 

Monday, June 20, 2011

Chocolate Birthday Cake


My favorite thing about cooking is cooking for others. There is nothing better than surprising someone with cookies or making breakfast in bed for Mother’s Day. This past week was my brother’s birthday, so of course I made him a birthday cake.

A little back-story: last summer my mom and I took cake-decorating classes through Wilton. We learned how to make flowers out of frosting, how to use fondant, and how to boarder cakes with frosting design. The class was once a week for a little over a month. It was so worth the money and I would definitely recommend it to anyone!

For my brother’s birthday I brought out the bottomless bin of our cake decorating supplies. I used a recipe found on FoodGawker.com for Chocolate Oreo Cream Cake. It looked too great to pass up! 

The recipe called for using a chocolate cake mix for the two layers of cake and an Oreo cream filling consisting of cream cheese, sugar, whip cream, and Oreo cookies. Making the cake and filling was quick and easy, giving me more time to put my own spin on it with the decorations. 

  • I night before, I rolled out a 50/50 gum paste and fondant mixture to make loops of a bow. The loops had to dry and harden in time to put on the cake. The next day I assembled the bow by using a gum paste and water mixture that acted as glue. With three layers of loops (about 13 loops), I was able to make a cake topper!

  • After the bow was constructed I rolled out plain white fondant to cover the entire cake. Being my first time covering a whole cake in fondant, I was anxious to see how this one turned out. After the white fondant was on the cake, I rolled out green and orange fondant to make stars for all over the cake. For this I simply used a star-shaped cookie cutter. I then used a small circle cookie cutter to measure out equal circles that I used to roll into balls for around the base of the cake. I found this was a great way to cover up any imperfections along the edge of the fondant on the bottom. Here's the finished cake!