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Apple braid

Pinterest inspiration has struck again…this time in the form of an apple braid!

From the moment I re-pinned this puppy I knew I wanted to try it out. Baking always intimidates me though (especially with making dough) so I wasn’t sure of how this would turn out. Surprisingly, I must say…it was pretty delicious. And relatively easy! Honestly, I was very surprised with how easy to follow the recipe was.

This recipe is originally from Rachael of La Fuji Mama, but was posted on Jenna’s site — Eat, Live, Run.

Here are the ingredients you’ll need. Don’t forget to visit Eat, Live, Run for the full recipe. This is a must-try. :)

For the Apple Filling

3 medium-size Granny Smith apples
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons lemon juice

For the Bread

2 1/2 cups bread flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon instant yeast
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup warm water
2 1/4 teaspoons vegetable oil

For the Glaze

1/3 cup confectioner’s sugar, sifted
5 teaspoons whipping cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of kosher salt
Pinch of nutmeg

Here’s my attempt (I forgot a finished product photo, oops!)

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Steak sandwiches

Steak sandwiches are one of our favorite meals to make and eat! They are super easy, not too expensive, and 100% delicious. All you have to do is sauté the peppers and onions in a little bit of olive oil, garlic and salt and pepper. Then cook the meat, add the cheese so it melts (we used Cabot sharp cheddar, but any cheese you want should work fine) and scoop it all into a bun.

Colin and I recently made steak sandwiches and I think they were the best batch yet. I literally feel like I could eat steak sandwiches, filet mignon and cheeseburgers in rotation every night for dinner. For now, I don’t think my body (or my wallet) would like that, but hey, a girl can dream…

Check out our dinner:

Cooking up the steak

Next up -- onions and peppers

YUM!

And some vino of course :)

 

Salted Caramel Cheesecake Pie

I like to try to make something each Thanksgiving so that I can contribute to the meal. This year I decided to try out Joy the Baker’s (amazing blog by the way) Salted Caramel Cheesecake Pie after hearing about it from people on Twitter. It sounded amazing – and intimidating – to make but I figured, why not? I wanted to give it a try, and I must say…I’m glad I did! It was delicious (if I do say so myself) and everyone else seemed to like it as well. I was very proud of myself for not screwing it up. :)

Take a look:

Ingredients, check!

Crushing up the gingersnap cookies

Spin, spin, spin

So far, so good

Let's add some butter

Almost done with the crust

Ready to bake!

Filling, yummm

Making the caramel

Almost done...

"It tastes like real caramel. I just made real caramel."

Cooking away

Cooling down

The finished product!

 

Munch Madness!

I love Popchips, so when I saw them tweet about their Munch Madness Challenge I immediately sent them a direct message on Twitter. Basketball + game time snacking + Popchips = I’m in!

Munch Madness!

When contemplating my recipe, I initially thought, well since Popchips are my favorite healthy snack, I’ll make something fun, creative and healthy. But the more time I spent brainstorming, the more I thought to myself, “Healthy game time snacking? That’s an oxymoron!”

Now, I’m exaggerating a bit, because there definitely are dozens of healthy game time snacks out there (I love munching on carrots, celery, etc.) but to be quite honest – what I usually go for first are the wings, the chili cheese dip, the nachos…you get my drift…

So what did all of this thinking lead me to? Why the heck not take my favorite healthy snack and turn it into delicious (not exactly nutritious) onion rings?! Popchips of choice? My favorite – Sea Salt and Vinegar.

My fave!

So without further adieu, I hereby introduce: Poprings!

Ingredients for rings:

  • 1 large onion sliced into rings
  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 can seltzer*
  • 6 cups vegetable oil
  • 1 3oz bag of Sea Salt and Vinegar Popchips

*Thank you Martha Stewart for your onion ring key ingredient tip!

Dipping sauce:

  • 3 tablespoons (Sweet Baby Rays) BBQ Sauce
  • 1 tablespoon (Lea and Perrins) Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • Sprinkle of salt

Directions:

1.       Add vegetable oil in large pot – heat on high

2.       Get a baking sheet ready by lining it with paper towels (set aside until needed)

3.       Place onions in a bowl of ice water for about 15 minutes or so; drain and dry

4.       Add (roughly) half of the bag of Popchips to a large Ziploc bag then crunch it up into small pieces (I didn’t use a food processor because I didn’t want it to become too fine…and because, well, I don’t have one!)

5.       Place the crunched up Popchips into mixing bowl, next add flour, cornstarch, baking soda, salt and seltzer – whisk

6.       Add the rest of the Popchips into a large Ziploc bag and crunch – place this into a bowl and set next to the batter

7.       Dip each ring into the batter first and then into the crunched up Popchips bowl and finally, into the oil. Be careful not to crowd the pot with too many rings.

8.       Once rings are a golden brown (about two minutes or so) scoop out and place on your paper towel lined baking sheet.

For the (very easy) dipping sauce:

1.       Add 3 tablespoons BBQ Sauce of choice (my choice? Sweet Baby Rays) to bowl

2.       Next, add 1 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce

3.       Then 1 tablespoon honey

4.       Lastly, a sprinkle of salt – mix all together

Here we go!

Onions in water

Drain & Dry

Oil, check!

Popchips ready for crushing!

Let's add those mashed up chips to the batter

Batter, check!

Extra Layer of 'POP'!

Dipping sauce, please!

Perfectoo

“Pop goes my heart!”…I’m in love with this poptastic treat – hope you will be too!

Yum!

Up close and 'popsonal'

A lovely pair if I do say so myself!

Chobani yogurt is delicious

I love Chobani – it is my yogurt and mid-morning snack of choice. When Emily from Chobani asked if I wanted a package of different flavors of Chobani to try out a few new recipes of course I said yes!

Amazing

I <3 Chobani

I’ve never used yogurt to make anything to be quite honest. I just eat it as is – sometimes I add a bit of granola or fruit – and it’s always delicious. Peach is my favorite flavor. :)

Peach please!

Little did I know that once you use your imagination and a bit of creativity, you can make yourself a bunch of different fun, tasty meals with your Chobani of choice.

I started my yogurt-recipe-making-journey with baby steps. Substituting plain, Greek yogurt for sour cream with my quesadilla. It was perfect – tasted just as good as using sour cream!

Perfecto

Yum

Next up was a different take on a quesadilla. I took plain Greek yogurt, some Gorgonzola cheese, cranberries and dill and made a spread. Then I put in on a wheat tortilla and cooked it for a few minutes. It turned out to be very good, except after I cooked it for a few minutes and the spread was hot, it was a bit runny/messy. What can I say, I’m an amateur! :)

Step 1

Step 2

Step 3

Step 4

Step 5

Step 6

My next adventure was a cucumber-yogurt dip. It was so good! All I did was skin one cucumber and chop it into cubes, then added one plain yogurt, a little bit of dill, salt, pepper and my favorite secret weapon: Tony’s Creole seasoning. Thanks to my fab roommate Meghan in Chicago, I use Tony’s on and in a lot of different things. It adds a nice little zing!

I shared my dip with Meg and Matt as an appetizer before dinner. I think they liked it. :)

All my ingredients

Secret weapon!

OK this one is gonna sound a little weird but I swear it was good! I wanted to make tuna for lunch and usually take one can of tuna and mix it with a tablespoon or so of mayo. I decided to try tuna with yogurt instead of mayo. I was initially going to just use plain yogurt, but then decided if I’m going for creativity I was gonna ‘go big or go home’ so I went with the honey Chobani.

I mixed the yogurt in with the tuna and added a little salt, pepper and cranberries on top. I put it on a tortilla, wrapped it up and enjoyed! It seriously was very good, although I’m sure not everyone would like those flavors together. However, if it sounds good to you, I encourage you to try it! My only tip would be: you don’t need to add the full container of yogurt to the tuna – it was a bit too creamy and I think it would have tasted even better if I balanced the yogurt to tuna ratio better.

Interesting combo

Deeeelish

Lastly, I made a spinach-raspberry-coconut milk smoothie with vanilla Chobani. It was really, really good if I do say so myself. You couldn’t even really taste the spinach flavor, so why not add it in? I always hear people talk about adding spinach to their smoothies but never have tried it – I’m glad I finally did. The frozen raspberry/vanilla Chobani mix was perfection as well.

Here we go!

Mix it up!

Almost there!

Yum!

I had a lot of fun coming up with new ways to use Chobani. BIG THANKS to Emily for hooking me up – I really appreciate it! Check out the Chobani Kitchen where they have a ton of great ideas and recipes. Don’t forget to check out Cho on Facebook, Twitter and their site, to see where you can find Chobani near you.

Have you ever tried a recipe with Chobani that you loved?

Goat cheese & Roasted red pepper quesadillas, yum!

This past weekend Colin and I headed upstate NY, to participate in the Alzheimer’s Association Memory Walk in Saratoga. We all walked on ‘Team Virginia’ in memory of Colin’s wonderful grandmother. It was a beautiful day, the weather was excellent, it was so nice to see all of Colin’s family, and the walk was a total success!

Here are some photos courtesy of Mrs. T {thank you!}

Group photo!

All your hard work paid off - great job!

Mr. W - the ladies man

My buddy and I

So on our way back to Boston I had some time in the car to read my new Real Simple, I was very excited! Magazine reading is one of my favorite things to do. Anyway, found an amazing recipe and was so pumped to try it. Last night I made goat cheese and roasted red pepper quesadillas – they were amazing (if I do say so myself!)

They were SO easy too. All you have to do is:

  • Spread the goat cheese on a whole wheat tortilla
  • Slice up some roasted red peppers and add them on
  • Chop about 2 or 3 cloves of garlic and sprinkle
  • Chop up a few basil leaves and add (LOVE basil)
  • Sprinkle a little salt, pepper and chili flakes
  • Cook for about 2-3 minutes on each side and voila! Delicious, easy, quick dinner!

Ingredients

Thanks Real Simple!

My big sister is getting married

The Foodies at work were nice enough to ask little ol’ me to write a guest post for their blog. I of course said yes! Not only do I love their posts, recipes, tweets, etc. but they are my twitter friends for God’s sake, of course I would write a post for them. I got their back.

The topic was ‘If you were stranded on an island what one food could you just not live without?’ My answer: hamburgers. Scrumptious hamburgers. Read the full post here, and thanks again foodies!

On another note – tomorrow is the big day! Well, not the big day (as in Wedding day) but the big day as in travel day. Colin and I leave tomorrow around 6:30 pm for our flight to Ireland, we will get in to Dublin around 8:30 am Thursday morning. We rented a car (please say a prayer for us. This could potentially be the end of our relationship… I can see it now, Colin: “Colleen, read the map please, stop falling asleep, I need you to help!”, Me: “Colin, slow down! These roads are very narrow! Ahh wrong side of the road!”)

Thursday and Friday we have some wedding prep stuff, Friday afternoon we have the rehearsal and then the rehearsal dinner, after that we’ll have a “welcome” party for all the guests to hang out, catch up and share our excitement! Saturday my Dad is hosting a golf tournament for those interested in playing (most of the men…) and the rest of us are headed to the Rock of Cashel, Saturday night we have Bru Boru – a traditional Irish show and dinner. It’s a lot of fun. :)

Sunday the women of the bridal party are headed to the spa for some pampering, and Sunday night all the bridesmaids plus Meg are going to stay at my cousin Aisling and Christians house so we can have a little slumber party. Monday is the BIG DAY! I may or may not have a few tricks up my sleeve… You’ll have to stay tuned….

After the wedding my parents are hosting a breakfast for everyone on Tuesday morning right before Meg and Matt head to Greece (so pumped for them!) And then Colin and I will be on our way for a few days of traveling – we’re going to Galway for two nights and Dublin for one. Any Irish pro’s out there have suggestions for us??

So I still feel as though I have a TON to do. Tonight is going to be a late one! I’m working from home for a few hours tomorrow so I should be able to get a lot done tonight (hopefully everything) and if need be, finish up tomorrow.

I can’t believe my big sister is getting married – we’ve been thinking/talking/dreaming of the day one of us would get married since we were little girls. She has been my best friend for twenty-four years now. I’ve looked up and admired her since the day I was born. She has taken such good care of me, and now she has Matthew to take such good care of her. Matthew and I have been friends since before they started dating – I am a huge fan of his! I’ve always been cheering him on. I wish both Megan and Matt only the best life has to offer – plenty of smiles, compromises, babies, and blessings. Much laughter, tenderness, trust, adventure and excitement. What a wonderful journey to be on together. They are going to kick ass at marriage! I couldn’t be happier for two people. They are amazing and I love them both.

Meg and Matt!

Heheh, credit goes to either Moll or Kelly on this one, I forget which one!

PS – I am not going to be able to make it through this trip dry eyed. Hopefully I can control myself during the ceremony/my MOH toast. Wish me luck – I’ll need it!

I’ll miss you all while I’m in Ireland, but don’t forget to still visit the daily craic, I have some AMAZING guest posts coming ‘atcha. You truly don’t want to miss this. Thanks to all who have helped! {Twitter/blogger friends are thebomb.com.}

Will be back on the 8th (with TONS of pictures!), enjoy the craic while I’m away!

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