Sunday, February 26, 2012

Stuffed Peppas

Begin by slicing the tops off your bell peppers and removing the seeds and membranes from the inside.

Then, dice up your onion.  I also like to cut around the stem of the bell pepper tops and dice those up and add it to my filling mixture as well.  Or you could just save the the pieces for snacking....or just be wasteful and throw them away. (Booo!)  Whatever does it for you

Brown your ground beef and add in the onion, pepper pieces, Worcestershire sauce, thyme, salt, and pepper.  Drain off the excess fat.  Turn off the heat and add in your garlic.  I like to grate my garlic directly over the put with my microplane.  It saves you from tedious chopping.

Mix in your cooked rice, drained tomatoes, and parmesan cheese.  You will have a lovely mixture that looks like this.   See how the peppers give it nice color?

Stuff your peppers and place in a baking dish.  I had enough stuffing leftover that I could have made 2 more peppers for a total of 8 instead of my 6.  My peppers were huge so if you had smaller peppers you could probably get up to 10.   I had some mini yellow squash so I scooped out the seeds and stuffed them with my extra filling

 Pour a little water into the bottom of the baking dish and cover it in foil.  After 45 minutes in the oven, uncover them and top with more parmesan cheese

Bake until the cheese is melty and delicious.

And here are my cute little squash boats.  They're so small you can just pic them right up and eat them in 2 bites

2# ground beef
6-10 bell peppers, depending on their size
1 large onion
3 Tb. Worcestershire sauce
28 oz. can diced tomatoes, some of the juice drained
4 cloves garlic
1 tsp. thyme
Salt & Pepper to taste
3 c. cooked white or brown rice
1 c. parmesan cheese, plus a little extra for topping

Cut the tops off the peppers and remove the seeds and membranes.  Dice up your onion and bell pepper scrap.  Brown the ground beef and add the onion and peppers part way through.  Drain off the fat and add the Worcestershire sauce, thyme, salt, & pepper.  Turn off the heat.  Add the drained tomatoes, rice, garlic, and cheese.  Stuff your peppers with the mixture and place in a baking dish.  Add some water to the bottom of the dish.  Cover tightly with foil and bake in a 350 oven for 45 mins.  After the 45 mins, uncover the peppers and top with more cheese.  Bake until cheese melts and top crusts a bit.

A to Z Muffins (or bread)

This is such a good basic recipe to have on hand.  The "A to Z'' refers to any moist ingredient you want to use such as  banana, zucchini, carrot, apple...whatever your little heart desires.  I basically see whatever vegetables or fruits I need to get rid of and go from there.

Start by mixing together all your dry ingredients in a small bowl.

Prep your A to Z ingredients.  I had some brown bananas staring me down every time I walkd in the kitchen so I mashed those up.  I got a little less than a cup so I did just over a cup of grated zucchini to equal my 2 cups.

Beat your eggs in a large bowl until foamy.  Then add your oil and sugar and cream it all together.  In my case, I never use oil.  I always use applesauce.  Not only does it lower your fat and calories, it also gives the muffins even more flavor.

See how the eggs are kinda foamy?

Then add your vanilla.  I prefer Mexican vanilla.  Maybe it's because my husband is mexican?  Or maybe it's because it tastes more creamy and less "alcoholy" than other vanillas I've tried.  Who knows.

Add your dry ingredients to the wet in thirds, gently folding it in.  Don't over mix your batter!  That is key to good muffins.  Just mix until everything is wet.  You don't want to form any gluten.  Place in your muffin tins or loaf pans.  I got a yield of exactly 24 muffins.

Bake your muffins at 350 and check after 15 minutes. Mine were done after about 17 minutes.

  Voila!  Full recipe below

3 C. Flour                                    2 C. Sugar
1 tsp. Salt                                    1 C. Oil or Applesauce
1 tsp. Baking soda                      2 C. "A to Z"
1/2 tsp. Baking powder              1 tsp. Vanilla
2 tsp. Cinnamon                         3 eggs
1 C. chopped nuts (optional)

Mix together dry ingredients.  In large bowl, beat eggs until foamy.  Add oil (or applesauce) and sugar and cream together.  Add A to Z and vanilla.  Add dry ingredients in thirds, only mixing until everything is wet.  Don't worry about lumps, just don't over  mix!

If making into bread, grease a loaf pan and bake @ 325 for 1 hour

For muffins bake in cupcake liners or a greased muffin tin and bake at 350 for about 15 minutes or until done.  Yield 24 muffins

For mini muffins I found that they bake in about 10 minutes.  I'm not sure how many it yields....but lets just say ALOT haha

 I like to freeze them and pull them out as I want them.  Perfect to throw in your lunchbox to be thawed by lunch time, or heated up in the microwave for about 30 seconds will work just fine too.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Ribeye with Red Red Onions

No that isn't a typo.  I call it "Red Red" onions because I cook red onions down in red wine.  See what I did there?  Here's whacha need.....

 One large red onion sliced , a glass of red wine, the good ole honey bear, salt, pepper, and butter

Begin by cooking your onions in a bit of butter or oil.  On this particular day the thought of walking outside and turning on the grill proved to be way more effort than I was willing to put in.  Sooo....I cooked my steak in a cast iron skillet.  I cooked my onions in the same skillet to pick up some of the yummies left in the pan. 

Let the onions soften and then squirt in a little honey.  A couple of teaspoons to begin with.  It will help move the browning of the onions along and will cut some of the tannins in the wine later.

  Give it some salt and pepper and then pour in your wine.  (like my wine dribble there on the stove?) Have your heat on medium high and just let it bubble.  Once the wine has reduce down to an almost syrupy consistency, mount it with some butter.  About 2 tablespoons.

  Taste and adjust.  If its not sweet enough add some more honey.  Pile it on top of a delicious steak

  Yum!  The onions take on an almost jammy consistency.  Delicious

And a glass of wine with your dinner won't hurt either.

Monday, February 20, 2012

When In Doubt....Make It Into a Magnet!

I recently have a new obsession with turning everything into a magnet.  Don't stand still too long....I may just hang you on the fridge.

The cupcakes were from a a playfood set.  Just hot glued magnets to the back.

                                                     Artwork courtesy of my niece Katie

The Mickey ice cream and Minnie cupcake are souvenirs that we bought on our Disneyland honeymoon.  They are actually antenna toppers.  I bought them because they were soo cute and to be honest....I'm a major cheap ass and they were one of the cheapest items in the gift shops.  I instantly knew I wanted to make them into magnets because A) My car doesn't even have an antenna and B) I wouldn't want to risk some stupid punk stealing it anyway.  Remember back in the day  when everyone had their Jack in the Box toppers stolen?  My point exactly

I attached the magnets on these with E-600 glue because I didn't want to risk hot glue melting the foam.

And here is my Lush collection of magnets.  Pictured at the top, I made a Skinny Girl magnet for my oldest sister.  She and I are both big fans of the whole Skinny Girl line of cocktails.  Then, for my husband I did bottle caps from some of his favorite beers and from Sailor Jerry...his #1 drink of choice.  For these I just filled the bottle caps with hot glue to the top and let it dry hard to make a flat surface.  Then just glue on the magnet.

A very quick project (the best kind there is!) with endless possibilities

Thursday, February 16, 2012

He's a Crafty One

I wish I could take credit for this awesome idea.....but I can't. This came from the brilliant mind of my adorable husband.  For Valentines's Day he made me a "Whitney's" sampler box to look like a "Whitmans"  box of chocolates.

  He hand drew it all.  He even went so far as to write "Presents and Love" in both spanish and french because the original has "Assorted chocolates" in both languages.


He filled the box with a bunch of small things that I love.  Very "stockingish" (and stockings are my all time FAVORITE part of christmas gifts)

  New socks, animal print supplies for my craft room, cupcake paraphernalia, and of course my Diet cranberry juice so I can booze it up guilt free.   What a guy!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Valentine's Day Picnic

So Valentine's Day is less than a week away.  Still have no clue what to do?  Well....people gotta eat right?  And while a restaurant is cool.....picnics are even cooler!  Last year I took my boy on a picnic up in the White Tank Mountains.  Nothing too fussy to be a pain in the ass but creative enough to look like I'm thoughtful haha    Here's the spread

When I think of guys I think of meat and potatoes. When I think of picnics I think of sandwiches and  potato salad.  Put them all together and you have yourself a man-friendly feast.

For starters we had an antipasto platter.  Pepperoni, Genoa Salami, Kalamata Olives, baby heirloom tomatoes, and mozzarella balls marinated in balsamic vinegar and basil

I made steak sandwiches for our main course.  Toast yourself some nice crusty/chewy bread like ciabatta.  I made a simply basil aioli using about a 1/2 cup mayo,  2 tablespoons of chiffonade basil, a clove of garlic, and a squeeze of lemon.  Season some steak liberally with salt and pepper.  Cook to medium and thinly slice on an angle so it isn't chewy.  Pile it all up on your bread with some provolone, arugula, and roasted red peppers.

Now, you probably don't believe me judging by the photo....but this is a potato salad with green beans.  I can't see a single freakin bean here, but I promise they're there......somewhere.  Here is one of my non recipe recipes.  Very rough and just a starting point for you to adjust to your taste or how big of a batch you want.

 Red Potato Salad With Green Beans

3 lbs of red potatoes (cooked, diced, and cooled)
1 lb. Green beans (cut bite size, blanched and shocked)
1/2-1lb bacon diced and cooked
(I pretty much use a full pound of bacon anytime I use it because really...what the hell else are you going to do with a few left over strips of bacon?.  And it's delicious so why not?)
1 bunch of green onions  chopped
1 cup (or so) of Romano or Parmesan cheese

Toss the above ingredients together and dress with your choice of vinaigrette.  I like to make my own red wine vinaigrette

1 cup olive oil
1/2 c red wine vinegar
1-2 cloves of garlic (I like a punch so 2 for me)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Whisk well and pour a little at a time over your salad to make sure you don't over dress it.  Let it all sit in the fridge and soak up the flavors.  Add more dressing if needed while it sits.

And last but of course not least.... Coconut cupcakes!  My boy loves him some coconut so it was an obvious choice for this occasion.  And cupcakes are good travel food.

3 sticks butter softened
  2 cups sugar
  5 eggs
  2 teaspoons vanilla
  1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract
  3 cups flour
  1 teaspoon baking powder
  1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  1/2 teaspoon salt
  1 cup milk
  14 oz bag shredded coconut (make sure to get the sweetened)

Sift together all the dry ingredients and set aside.  Cream together the butter and sugar.  Let it get light at fluffy.  I used to make the mistake of only doing it for a minute or 2 but let it beat for about 5 really makes a difference!  Scrape down the bowl and add the eggs one at a time.  Then mix in the extracts.

Alternate adding the dry ingredients and milk to the egg, sugar, and butter mixtures.  Mix until it just all comes together.  Then carefully fold in half the coconut.  Pour into cupcake liners and bake at 350 until a toothpick comes out clean.  About 15-20 mins.  After they have cooled, frost them with this delicious cream cheese frosting.

2 blocks of softened cream cheese (16 oz)
3 sticks of butter
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp almond
1 1/2-2 lb powdered sugar

Cream together the cream cheese and butter.  Stir in the extracts then slowly add the sugar a little at a time.   Start with a 1 1/2 pounds and check for the consistency you want.  Sometimes it can take up to 2 lbs depending on the day.  Frost the cupcakes and then roll them in the left over coconut.

There ya go!  A meal and somewhat of an "event" all in one. 

DIY Valentine's Day Pillow

I decided I wasn't too thrilled with the last.  I saw this cute "Love" place mat at Michael's and decided to give it another whirl.  The last one wasn't quite big enough so you couldn't really tell it was a heart.  This one came out much better.  I made it just the same as my last one

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Valentine's Day Pillow

So I had this vision of having cute little pillows for each holiday.  At Dollar Tree I found these great felt "Wall Decorations" as they call them and thought they would be perfect!  I looked around for a cheap pink pillow, but with no luck decided to make my own pillow.

I bought 1.5 yards of this pink fabric for $2.50 at Walmart.  Fold the fabric over.  I then just laid my heart over the top and used a straight edge and my fabric chalk to mark how big I wanted to make the pillow.

Cut it out and then iron out all the wrinkles

Line the fabric up as good as you can and then pin the 3 sides of the pillow and start sewing away.  Now, if your lucky and have a sewing machine you can get this done pretty fast.  I on the other hand can't seem to justify such a big purchase at this point because 1.) I'm a cheap ass and 2.) Until I start doing more projects that  require sewing I can gravy train off my sisters OR get over it and hand sew it like I did this

Start sewing at the corners where the fabric is folded and meet in the middle of one side, leaving a small space big enough to fit your hand through open

Use that hole to turn the pillow inside out.  Then I used Aleene's fabric glue to glue on the heart.  You could sew it, but the felt was very stiff, thick, and intricate. I knew it would be too hard to hand sew.  I let it dry for 24 hours before  stuffing the pillow and then sewing up the open space.

Here it is all done

Not professional grade, but not too bad for a newbie at hand sewing.