Sunday, July 31, 2011

Make-over and Re-Purpose

For a while now, I've wanted to refinish this yellow lamp that I have had since I was itty-bitty. I think it was actually my mom's. It was in my room, and as a mere child I took the creative liberty to draw all over it with a pen and to adorn it with stickers. While I was able to remove the stickers, the pen marks were unfortunately stuck on... sad really because it was a cool color. At any rate, I liked the shape, so I decided to spray paint it. I used the Champagne color from Rustoleum.

Fabric from JoAnn's

It turn out lovely; however, I couldn't find a shade suitable to match it. (Everything in our bedroom has a golden hue, and many shades have this too. They were all just blending into the wall.) Granted I only went to Target, but I was refuse to pay much for a lamp shade. After looking on Pinterest (*obsession*), I found a tutorial on how to make a cover for your lamp shade. All you do is spray it with glue and smooth down the fabric. It was so incredibly easy, and it turned out amazing! *Warning - Do NOT iron it; it will start to melt the shade... needless to say that side is facing the wall.* So far, I was two for two (minus the melt-age.)

This is my lovely Lucy girl investigating the new fixture.

Finally, some of our dear friends recently moved away. I offered to take some of their unneeded items up to Goodwill, and I found a lovely candlestick that they couldn't use any longer. I just planned on keeping it on hand just in case, but then, creativity struck! I decided to use it as a bracelet holder; the top part where the candle goes serves as a home for my rings. *If you want it back Jess, I'll reluctantly send it to you. :)* So I moved my lamp in too, and made a home for my lovely necklace that my mom bought me for my 25th birthday, and voila! What was meant to be a simple lamp fix turned into a full blown jewelry display, and I love it. I hated hiding my fun costume jewelry away in drawers, and now I can see it even when I'm not wearing it.

I added a mirror that I got from Target on clearance... I think it is supposed to be a place "mat." Here's to cheap fixes and re-using items. Until tomorrow...

Friday, July 29, 2011

Louisville Love: The Comfy Cow

Hello Friends! I wanted to start a new portion of my blog where I can talk about unique Louisville stops that I love, and that I hope you try. I think I've talked about today's location before, but oh well! Today, I want share with you the goodness that is The Comfy Cow.

The Comfy Cow is located in Westport Village off of Westport Road, and soon other locations will be opening on Frankfort Avenue and near U of L's campus. What makes Comfy Cow unique are its amazing flavor combination. Each week they feature a foodie flavor of the week (lavender and honey, gin and juice, orange fennel), and it is guaranteed to be something that you won't find in any other Louisville locale. Beyond the outrageous flavors, they have normal flavors too, but they doctor them in such a way that no other ice cream parlor can come close to matching. They just put love and creativity into each batch.

Here are some examples of the flavors they have rotating now: Freshly Roasted Coffee, Cookie Monster Dough, Strawberry Fields Forever, Dulche de Leche de Salte, Gin and Juice, Bourbon Ball, Red Velvet Cake with White Chocolate Icing, German Chocolate Cake, and the list goes on and on. I guarantee you will be able to find something to strike your fancy.

The Comfy Cow was also recently featured on Travel Channel's Man vs. Food Nation. Wednesday, the Comfy Cow had a viewing party to reveal if the challenger could complete the Comfy Cow challenge. Unfortunately, he did not succeed, but the evening was great fun.

Check out the Comfy Cow.... I guarantee you won't be disappointed!

Images from here, here and here.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Mexican Hot Chocolate Cupcakes

As I have mentioned before, every Tuesday we get together with some friends from church. Yesterday, we had a fiesta. I wanted to bring dessert, so I decided that whatever I decided to make, it must be fiesta themed. I searched high and low, and I found a recipe for Mexican Hot Chocolate Cupcakes, and they were to die for.

The cupcakes themselves had a kind of "brownieness" to them; they were chewy but not at all stale or dense in texture. I took an apple corer, and hollowed out the middle. I filled them with caramel and topped them with a cayenne pepper-whipped cream-brown sugar frosting. The frosting is what made them. It was not overly sweet which made them dangerous to have around. I kept eating the whipped cream by the spoonful, and the slight spiciness gave it an addictive quality. I'm glad there's one left that I can eat today.

Mexican Hot Chocolate Cupcakes
From Cheeky Kitchen

3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup canola oil (I used vegetable)
1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour

Caramel Sauce:
See this recipe, or purchase some from your local grocer. I highly discourage the latter.

Cayenne Whipped Cream:
1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Shaved chocolate and red pepper flakes (mmmm....)


1. Preheat oven to 350 and line cupcake pan with 22 liners.
2. In a large bowl, combine sugars, eggs, milk and oil.
3. Continue to add everything except the flour and cocoa. Stir until incorporated.
4. Slowly stir in the cocoa and flour, but only until just mixed in.
5. Spoon your batter into the cupcake liners, a little over half full. Bake for 17-19 minutes. Mine took 19.
6. Allow to cool completely.
7. Take an apple corer and hollow the center of each cupcake. Fill each hole with a spoonful of caramel.

1. Whip the cream so that soft peaks form. Slowly add the brown sugar and cayenne. You must use really fresh brown sugar or the frosting will be grainy. (Side note: It will be grainy for a few minutes though because the sugar needs to dissolve. It should lose that texture after 5 minutes.)
2. Pipe the frosting onto the cooled cupcakes.
3. Top with grated chocolate and a tiny bit of red pepper flakes.
4. Take them somewhere to share them so you don't eat the whole batch.


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Caramel Sauce

Oh what to say, what to say? Homemade caramel is absolutely the best, and I will never buy the store brands again. Last night, I made caramel for some cupcakes that I am making (I'll post those tomorrow), and it is absolutely the easiest and most fulfilling of recipes for the amount of time and effort it takes.

For the longest time, I was scared of caramel. I don't know why, but I always pictured it bubbling up (which it did) and ending in a burnt, sticky mess (it did not.) Actually, the end result was a thick, smooth topping that trumps any brand out there. Plus it only has 4 ingredients and one is water. My version is healthier (ha) and I know exactly what's in it. It would also make a lovely gift.Sass+Frass

1 1/2 cups sugar
1/3 cup water
1 1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1. Place the sugar in the center of a sauce pan, and add the water. DO NOT STIR. Why you ask? Sugar crystals will form up the side, and they don't dissolve easily once they harden. No stirring, no crystals in caramel.
2. Let the mixture boil; still do not stir, but keep a very close eye.
3. Wait until the mixture becomes a dark golden amber color (350 degrees on candy thermometer). Begin to slowly add your cream, but now you need to stir like crazy! The whole thing will bubble up and hiss, but fear not, it will calm down; just keep stirring and adding more cream.
4. Remove your caramel from the heat and stir in the vanilla. (A salted caramel alternative could be to add a dash of Himalayan sea salt... delish.)
5. Let the caramel cool to room temperature, jar it, and use when ready. It will continue to thicken as it cools, especially in the fridge.

Use as a topper on ice cream, cakes, toast (just kidding about the toast... or am I?)


Friday, July 22, 2011

Blackberry Crisp Ice Cream

I love ice creams that have something extra to them. This ice cream was perfect for me! For my birthday, my husband bought me an ice cream maker, and he has greatly benefited from this purchase. I made this blackberry crisp ice cream from a combination of sources, and it turned out nicely. It also made the perfect amount for two people. (one quart) Take advantage while blackberries are in season!

Picture Source

Step One: Make the Crisp

Crisp Streusel
Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home

2 sticks butter, cut into 1/2 cubes, chilled
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups quick cooking oats

1. Preheat the oven to 350.
2. Put all the ingredients except oats in a bowl. Blend quickly so that the mixture looks like coarse sand. Add the oats; mix well. (Try not to melt the butter.)
3. Spread onto an ungreased baking sheet, and break up any large clumps.
4. Bake for 30-35 minutes until toasted and brown. Stir frequently, especially the corners. Let it cool completely, then freeze until ready to use. Can be frozen for one month.

*This makes a ton!*

Step Two: Make the Blackberry Sauce

Blackberry Sauce
Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home
Makes 1 1/4 cup

2 cups blackberries (or any berry)
1 cup sugar

1. Combine berries and sugar in a small sauce pan; bring to a boil. Continue stirring 5-8 minutes.
2. Let it cool slightly, then force the sauce through a sieve to remove the seeds. (I left some in to show it's legit.) Refrigerate until cold and ready to use.

Step 3: Make the Ice Cream

Sweet Cream Ice Cream
Cuisine at Home
Issue No. 75

3 egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar, divided
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream

1. Whisk together egg yolks and 1/4 cup sugar; set aside.
2. Heat milk, heavy cream and sugar in a sauce pan until steam rises. Gradually add half of the hot mixture to the eggs, whisking constantly. Add yolk mixture to remaining hot milk. Reduce heat to medium-low for 5-8 minutes, stirring constantly.
3. Strain ice cream base into a bowl and cool in an ice bath. Cover bowl; chill 4-12 hours. Churn according to machine directions.

Step Four: Mix it all together!

1. Add a layer of ice cream into your freezer safe tupperware dish.
2. Add a layer of your crisp.
3. Drizzle the blackberry sauce.
4. Repeat - think lasagna.

Let it set for a few hours and voila - ice cream that anyone would be lucky to have. Perfect for the hot summer days we've been having.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

One Percent

This is totally me... every time.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Bacon and Sweet Corn Pasta

On Tuesdays, we meet with our community group, so I am always looking for something quick to make on these hectic nights. This dish was absolutely perfect taking only 25 minutes to make and even less time to eat... it was delicious! If you like the sweet and salty combination, this is your dish. The saltiness of the bacon and the crisp sweetness of the corn was a great match. The sauce wasn't heavy, but it stabilized all of the flavors nicely. Here's what you do:

Imagine me with bacon... :)

Bacon and Sweet Corn Pasta
Cuisine at Home
Issue No. 88

8 oz. dry campanelle or farfalle pasta
4 strips thick sliced bacon
1 1/2 cups chopped zucchini
2 ears worth of fresh corn kernels (1 1/4 cup)
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
salt and pepper to taste

1. Boil the pasta according to package directions, then drain; reserve 1 cup pasta water.
2. Cook bacon until crisp. Transfer to paper-towel lined plate and reserve 1 tablespoon drippings.
3. Saute zucchini and corn in drippings until tender, 5-6 minutes. Add pasta to skillet.
4. Stir in bacon, cream, basil and pine nuts. Add reserved pasta water as needed to loosen the sauce. Season with salt and pepper.

*This could easily become a vegetarian meal by omitting the bacon.*


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Potato-Stuffed Poblanos

Saturday, my husband downed a huge milk shake, a plate of fries, a huge piece of pizza, a cannoli and multiple other delicious things that are not the most health friendly; so Sunday, he declared that we not eat meat. Wanting to oblige, I found this delicious recipe for stuffed poblano chiles with a black bean saute. They were so stinkin' good! I love the poblanos that are deep fried and stuffed with cheese, and I like to think that these are a slightly more healthy variation. The filling (potatoes, cheese, jalapenos... need I say more?) is what makes these taste *amazing*, and the smokiness of the poblano isn't too shabby itself. Fine Cooking 's Chicken & Rice Version

Potato-Stuffed Poblanos
Cuisine at Home
Issue No. 85

2 large poblano chiles
2 cups cubed red potatoes (skins on)
1/2 cup sliced yellow onion
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese, divided
1/4 cup chopped scallions
3 Tbsp. cream cheese
3 Tbsp. canned diced green chiles
1 Tbsp. sour cream
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. ground cumin
2 tsp. fresh lime juice
salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 425. Coat a baking sheet with nonstick spray.
2. Roast poblanos over a gas burner or under a broiler until skin blackens. Transfer to a bowl and steam for 10 minutes. (Cover with plastic wrap.) Peel off skin.
3. Cut a slit down one side of pepper. Discard seeds.

4. For filling, bowl potatoes and onions together until potatoes are cooked through. Make sure moisture is evaporated.
5. Mash potatoes with all of the filling ingredients.
6. Divide filling between poblanos and sprinkle with remaining cheese.
7. Bake until cheese is golden brown, 20-25 minutes.

Black Bean Saute

Soften 1/2 cup onion in oil with 1/2 tsp. cumin and 1 bay leaf. (5 minutes) Stir in one can black beans (rinsed), 1/2 cup frozen corn kernels, 1/2 tsp. dried oregano, 1/4 cup scallions, 1 tsp. minced garlic; heat through. Stir in 2 tsp. lime juice, salt and pepper to taste, and enjoy!

Scott nor I could finish ours, so you may be able to save some for the next day too...

Enjoy this hearty vegetarian meal that no one will complain about! Until next time...

Monday, July 18, 2011

Jasmine Infused Granola

Hi Friends!! It's been too long! Sorry for my absence, but I promise to be make more posts now that I have more time on my hands. Here is the first: Jasmine Infused Granola.

A few weeks ago, my husband and I went to NYC for our summer vacation. We ate at the sweetest little tea parlor called Alice's Tea Cup. We both loved it so much that I purchased the cookbook. There was a recipe for Vanilla Tea Infused Granola, and I decided to make some for a friend but with a few changes. The most obvious is the type of tea that I used; I could not find a vanilla tea that smelled appetizing... most had some other scent undercurrent that did not taste edible. I kind of made this on a whim, so I'm sure there is one out there somewhere in my city, but just not at Kroger.

Here is what Alice's says to describe this granola: "This has quickly become our most popular breakfast item and for good reason! It's not the muesli-style granola-we mix our granola with tea, drizzle it with honey and bake it until it's good and toasty."
Alice's Tea Cup Granola

You can make my version by doing this:

Jasmine Infused Granola
Adapted from Alice's Vanilla Tea Infused Granola
2 1/2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup sliced almonds
2 heaping teaspoons jasmine tea leaves (finely ground in a coffee grinder)
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped dried apricots
1/2 dried cranberries
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup honey, plus extra to drizzle
1/2 stick melted butter

1. Preheat the oven to 350, and spray a baking sheet with non-stick spray.
2. Combine all ingredients except butter and honey in a large bowl; mix well. Then stir in honey and butter.
3. Spread evenly on baking sheet and press down with back of spatula... bake until golden, about 10 minutes.
4. Use the spatula to flip the granola. Again, pack it down with the spatula and generously drizzle with honey. (It will still be crumbly at this point.) Bake for another 10 minutes or until golden brown and crunchy. Set aside to cool completely.
5. Break into smaller pieces - be sure to store in an air tight container so it doesn't become soggy.