Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Darren Criss of gLee sings "Part of Your World"

Thanks to my always-looking-out-for-me friend Erin for finding and sharing this with me!

Give Thanks

This year I have so many things to be thankful for. I work for a great organization, I moved out of my parents house for the second time, I started Grad School... I've had my share of ups and downs, but all-in-all, I am so blessed. 

This Thanksgiving is going to be different than all the rest-- I'm not with my family. This year I am spending Thanksgiving with Blake and surrounded by many friends, all of which I am thankful for; however, it will be different being away from my parents and siblings. I imagine that as I get older, this will happen more often. Sending many hugs and kisses to Molino, FL!

One thing I am very excited about is to be actively participating in the cooking this year. Normally, I'm in charge of the mashed potatoes, but this year I am responsible for the sweet potatoes and the Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake. Check out my recipe for Marshmallows with Sweet Potatoes (aka Sweet Potato Casserole) on my cooking blog!

Marshmallows with Sweet Potatoes...aka Whipped Sweet Potato Bake

I have always said I don't like sweet potatoes unless they are mushy and covered in marshmallows. Well, I discovered that I'm a fan of Baked Sweet Potato Fries, but nothing says Thanksgiving like a whipped pan of mushy, delicious, marshmallow-y sweet potatoes.

This recipe uses canned sweet potatoes. I haven't "liked" sweet potatoes long enough to know if fresh ones make a difference...

3 cans (15oz.each) sweet potatoes, drained
1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted
1 tsp. group cinnamon
1 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
3 cups Jet Puffed miniature marshmallows

1. Heat oven to 350*.
2. Beat potatoes, butter, and spices with mixer until well blended.
3. Spoon in to 1.5 qt. casserole dish sprayed with cooking spray; top with marshmallows.
4. Bake 15-20 minutes or until potatoes are warmed throughout and marshmallows are browned.

What I did differently:
1. When I make this tomorrow, I will substitute 2 tsp. of pumpkin pie spice for the cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg.

2. I will use my biggest casserole dish and here's why: I want as much surface area as possible for the marshmallow topping. No bite is worthy unless it's got that white frosting of deliciousness on it...I will also probably use more than 3 cups of marshmallows.


Original recipe borrowed from Kraft Foods.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Ice Cream

I must share...

Bluebell's newest creation-- Cotton Candy Ice Cream. D-E-L-I-S-H. For some reason, it only comes in pint size; however, I am sort of thankful because if it came in gallons I'd be in big trouble.

I have also tried the Spiced Pumpkin Pecan (pictured here) and the Snickerdoodle. Both get an A, but Cotton Candy gets an A+.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Bacon-wrapped Cream Cheese Jalapeno Bites

Oh man, I might have to make these this weekend. I've been looking for a recipe for these and this one is simple and looks delicious!

8 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 teaspoons onion powder
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon Old Bay
Pinch of Salt
12 Jalapenos, halved & seeded
24 – six inch pieces of bacon, uncooked

1. Preheat oven to 350F.

2. Combine cream cheese and spices in small bowl.  Spoon mixture into each pepper half, until level.  Wrap each in bacon, and place on baking sheet. 

3. Bake for 40-45 minutes.


Original recipe (and picture) borrowed from Doughmesstic

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Pumpkin Pie Dip

1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/2 cup sour cream
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 cup frozen whipped cream, thawed
Gingersnap cookies, apples, or cinnamon graham cracker sticks

1. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese and powdered sugar until smooth.

2. Add in pumpkin, sour cream, cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, and ginger. Mix well.

3. Fold in the thawed whipped cream.

4. Serve with green apples, graham cracker sticks, or gingersnaps.

5. Store in refrigerator.

Here's what I did differently:
1. I wasn't sure when I'd be needing pumpkin again (other than Thanksgiving) so I used the whole can of pumpkin so it wouldn't go to waste.

2. I didn't skip any ingredients, but I failed to read the directions and just tossed everything in the mixing bowl at once. It tasted fine to me...


Original recipe (and picture) borrowed form The Girl Who Ate Everything

Vegetable Blog

I get excited over the silliest things some days--I just came across a vegetable blog and I wanted to share. The website is called A Veggie Venture and today's post is about how to construct a green bean casserole from scratch.


Mediterranean Chicken, Bean & Pasta Soup

This recipe is delicious! I made it a few weeks ago, in preparation for the cooler weather. Now that it's cold outside, this is the perfect soup to make you all warm on the inside.

2 tsp olive oil
1 large shallot, minced
2 medium carrots, cut into thin half-circles
2 large celery stalks, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 can (28 oz.) whole tomatoes, finely chopped, including juices
5 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 bay leaves
2 cups chopped, cooked chicken
1 can (15 oz.) cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup ditalini (small, short pasta tubes)
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
8 fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced
Grated parmesan cheese

1. Heat 2 teaspoons olive oil in a large saucepan set over medium-high heat. Add 1 large shallot, minced, 2 medium carrots, cut into half-circles, and 2 large stalk celery, cut into 1/2-inch pieces. Saute until the vegetables are beginning to soften, 2 to 3 minutes.

2. Add 1 can (28 ounces) whole tomatoes, finely chopped, with juices, 5 cups low-sodium chicken broth, and 2 bay leaves. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to medium-low, partially cover, and simmer for 20 minutes.

3. Uncover the soup, remove the bay leaves, add 2 cups chopped cooked chicken, 1 can (15 oz.) cannellini beans, and 1/2 cup ditalini pasta (small, short tubes).

4. Increase the heat to medium-high and cook until the pasta is al dente, about 10 minutes.

5. Season with salt and pepper, add 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley and 8 leaves fresh basil, thinly sliced. Garnish with grated parmesan cheese.

Here's what I did differently:
1. I bought a pre-cooked chicken from the grocery store deli. I think it was actually more work than just boiling chicken myself and shredding it.

2. I skipped the parsley and basil, only cause I was a little lazy I don't have those herb scissors yet.  

3. I used shaved parmesan instead of grated. It doesn't matter, I just liked it.

4. Just fyi-- I couldn't find the ditalini pasta or the cannellini beans in my regular grocery store. I came across them while picking up dinner at Mandola's one night. Hopefully your supermarket is a little more "cultured."


Original recipe (and pictures) borrowed from Cookin' Canuck

Baked Sweet Potato French Fries

Lately I have been trying to experiment with new vegetables. I generally will eat any veggie. Except peas. Ick. Oh, or lima beans. Double ick. I am also not really a cauliflower fan...but other than that I love vegetables!

In the past, I have reserved eating sweet potatoes for when they are mashed and coated in marshmallows. A week or so ago, I gave baked sweet potato fries a try and they are great!

4 large sweet potatoes
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, plus more for the pan
2 teaspoons Kosher salt, divided
1 teaspoon brown sugar

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

2. Wash sweet potatoes, then cut each potato into thin strips.  Place them into a large bowl and add oil, 1 teaspoon salt, and brown sugar.  Toss to coat potatoes.

3. Coat a large rimmed baking sheet with vegetable oil. Sprinkle the baking sheet with remaining salt.  Place sweet potatoes on baking sheet in single layer.  Bake for 20 minutes, or until potatoes are done.

Here's what I did differently:
1. The sweet potatoes I bought were huge and I only needed enough for two people, so I used a potato and a half, and that was more than enough.

2. Instead of kosher salt I used sea salt. I had both in my pantry, I just went for the sea salt this time.

3. I skipped the brown sugar. I was out and I didn't think they needed it.

4. I almost peeled them by accident. You can if you want, but the skin makes for some crunchy fries--my favorite!

5. You may want to broil them for just a second so that they crunch up. I didn't do it and they were still great, but I'm a crunchy fry-kinda girl.


Original recipe (and picture) borrowed from Our Family Eats

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Waldie in the Kitchen

There are very few things I am ok with collecting...recipes I can deal with!

Check out my new cooking blog: http://waldieinthekitchen.blogspot.com/

Baked Penne with Spinach, Roasted Peppers & Bacon

Ok, this one was not much of a success for me. I think I was in too big of a hurry and omitted too much.

16 oz. Pacific Natural Foods Roasted Red Pepper & Tomato Soup
2 cups 2% milk
4 Tablespoons butter

1/4 cup all-purpose flour 
1 pound penne pasta (or ziti), cooked until tender, but still firm to the bite
1 package frozen chopped spinach, thawed & squeezed dry
3/4 cup chopped jarred roasted red peppers
1 1/2 cups cubed Provolone cheese
8 slices of cooked bacon, crumbled
1 1/2 cups shredded Parmesan cheese, divided
salt & pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray 9x13-inch pan (or other 2 1/2-quart baking dish) with nonstick spray.

2. Prepare sauce: Heat soup and milk in a medium saucepan until small bubbles begin to form around the edges (just until hot). In a larger saucepan, melt butter over medium-low heat. Add flour and stir well. Continue to cook, stirring, until thick and smooth, about 2 minutes. Slowly begin adding hot soup/milk mixture to the large saucepan, whisking constantly while adding. Sauce will start out lumpy and become smooth as the liquid is incorporated.

3. Assemble the dish: In a large bowl, toss cooked pasta with the sauce. Break apart the spinach with your fingers and add it to the bowl. Also add red peppers, provolone cheese and 3/4 cup of Parmesan. Stir until ingredients are evenly distributed. Pour the mixture into the prepared dish. Sprinkle with bacon crumbles and top with remaining Parmesan cheese. Finish with a good dose of freshly ground black pepper and a sprinkle of kosher salt.

4. Cover with aluminum foil. Bake 25 minutes. Uncover and bake until sauce is bubbling around the edges and the center is hot (about 10 minutes more). Remove from the oven and let cool for about 10 minutes before serving.

Usually when I edit recipes they turn out ok. This time, not so much. Here's what I did differently:
1. I used whole wheat penne.

2. Instead of frozen, chopped spinach, I sauteed fresh spinach. I think that the moisture in the frozen spinach might actually aid in keeping the dish moist. I just liked the idea of fresh spinach better.

3. I skipped the jarred roasted red peppers. I just wasn't feelin' it.

4. I couldn't find a block of provolone cheese, so I bought sliced provolove cheese and just used about 6 slices cut up.

5. I just eye-balled the parmesan cheese. (See, I told you I was in too big of a hurry.)

I shared the pasta at work the next day, and they were all kind enough to eat it and even compliment it. I think this one has potential.


Original recipe (and picture) borrowed from RecipeGirl

Stir-fried Brussels Sprouts with Lemon & Parmesan

Oh, ick...brussels sprouts?!

Just kidding. I have only eaten brussels sprouts once before I made these, and they had been brought to a company potluck a few years ago by a sweet German woman. So, they were disguised as "good" using lemon, butter, and a few other ingredients... Well, this recipe is no different. They are delicious and they are hidden among cheese, bacon, and butter. Yum.

50 g pancetta or bacon, diced
1 Tablespoon olive oil
3 cup brussels sprouts, roughly chopped or shredded
1 lemon, both zest and juice
salt and pepper to taste
1 Tablespoon softened butter
2 Tablespoons Parmesan cheese, finely grated

1. In a large sauté pan over medium high heat,warm olive oil and add pancetta. Stir often, until pancetta begins to brown and crisp.

2. Add shredded sprouts and incorporate into the pancetta and oil, scrapping up any bit on the bottom of the pan. Cook over medium high heat, stirring often, until sprouts begin to wilt and turn bright green, about 7-9 minutes.

3. Squeeze the juice of a lemon over the pan, season sprouts with salt and pepper and taste. Sprouts should still be a little crunchy.

4. Remove from heat, and toss sprouts with butter, lemon zest, and Parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.

Here's what I did differently:
1. The recipe calls for "50g" of pancetta. I just picked up a package at the grocery store and used the whole thing. I do recommend that you drain off some of the grease before you add the brussels to the pan.

2. I don't think you really needs an entire tablespoon of butter, after they've been cooked in pancetta fat grease juice. That's your call.


Original recipe (and picture) borrowed from Simple Bites

Shredded Tex-Mex Crockpot Chicken

I came across this recipe and was hesitant at first--all of those spicy ingredients had me a little nervous, seeing as how I have been accused of thinking ketchup is spicy...but, not to worry. I followed the recipe (almost) exactly and was delighted at the flavor (not spice) that resulted.

Once prepared, this chicken would be great in quesadilla, tacos, nachos, enchiladas, or like I ate it-- in soft tacos with all the fixins'.

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 1/4 teaspoon cumin
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon coriander
1/4 teaspoon paprika
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/3 cup chicken broth
1/3 cup (packed) cilantro leaves, chopped
2 limes
1 large onion, chopped
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil

1. Heat the oil in a medium sized sauté pan. Add the onion and sauté for 5 minutes. Add the cumin, chili powder, coriander, paprika and garlic and sauté two more minutes. Deglaze the pan with the chicken broth making sure to scrape up any browned bits. Turn off and set aside.

2. Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper. Add to crock pot. Squeeze the lime on top, add the cilantro, jalapeno, and pour the onion and garlic mixture over top.

3. Cook on low for 3-5 hours, or until cooked through (different crock-pots cook at varying heats) and tender. Remove chicken breasts from the crock pot, shred and place in a bowl. Scoop out the onions and add to the chicken. Depending on the amount of juices produced, you may want to add some or all of the juice back to the shredded chicken.

Like I said, I almost followed the recipe. Here's what I did differently:
1. Instead of boneless, skinless chicken breasts, I used boneless, skinless chicken thighs.

2. I omitted the cilantro. I really like cilantro, but I was too impatient to take it off the stem and chop it. I really need to buy some herb scissors.

3. When it came time to add the lime, I figured the more the merrier. I sliced up one of the limes and just tossed them in the crockpot while the chicken was cooking. I think it really enhanced the flavor.


Original recipe borrowed from goodlifeeats

A New Blog

I have for a very long time been collecting recipes and now I am taking a moment to share the ones I find, the ones I try, and the success (or failure) of each one!  

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

About Me

I have been know to utter the phrase "it's ALL about me" a time or two. Normally, I am kidding. No, really. I would like to think that I am not a selfish person. Sure, we all have selfish tendencies. It's human nature. If it means anything to you, I have a philanthropic heart. If I were rich I'd quit my job and spend my time volunteering and donating to worthy causes.

I was editing my blog when I came across the "About Me" section. I always have a hard time filling this in.  I have such a hard time pinning down just who I am. Today, I decided to just go with it. I came up with this:
I'm a daughter, a sister, a friend...and I'm a Princess. I was born with a crown on my head, a tutu around my waist, and sparkles on my shoes-- and I don't think I'll ever grow out of it. Love me or hate me, you probably want to know "Where's Waldie?"

There are a few reasons I wrote this. I have had several conversations lately with both friends and family members. My question to them was: "How do you raise a child like me?" When I asked my mom, she had no reply. By "child like me" I mean this: I am the epitome of girly girl. I am 25 years old, but if it has a ruffle, a bow, a flower, or a sparkle...I'll probably buy it and wear it. If it's pink, I probably already own it. The other day a childhood friend posted on a Facebook picture of me and she said this, "Lauren, This picture reminds me of when I knew you in elementary school... I remember you always had a pink dress with a matching head band... lol! Hope you had a good birthday!" You probably remember the post about my birthday dress.

Anyway, I love that I love pink. I love that I'm a girly girl. I love that my family thinks I'm a Princess.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Ready to Run

This year I am running in the Austin Susan G Komen Race for the Cure 5K on November 7th--less than a week away! As you probably know, I am not a runner. I've been training (a little) but I will still have to walk some of it I'm sure. I keep seeing opportunities for people to tell their breast cancer story. For some that's a story of loss. For others it's a triumphant story of victory. I keep thinking-- I don't have a story. And I hope I never have to. The point is, I will complete it. I'm running for those women who don't have a story. Hopefully, they'll never have to have one either.

There's still time for you to join our team. Or, if you'd rather sleep in and let me do the running for you, feel free to donate to a wonderful cause. If you've already donated, I am so grateful. Thank you.

Visit my personal page to sign up or donate today!