Cupcake Coma

Well, my secret is out. I am not only addicted to nail polish but also the fattening deliciousness of cupcakes. But I am not talking about your store bought mix with some pre-made icing. Im talking something that looks so gourmet and delicious you don’t know whether to put it out for display or devour it immediately. I would have to say that I blame a Cupcake in Columbia South Carolina, for offering this plethora of flavors and cupcakes full of deliciousness. Its almost inappropriate how good these are. I aspire to be able to create such cupcakes, but I really struggle in the baking department, which is why I never choose to be in charge of desert at pot luck events. Nonetheless, here are my top 5 “cuppycakes,” as we like to call them, that I aspire to make within the year. (keep tuned in for my progress. HA!) The pictures are links to the original recipes, if you would like them!

1. Chocolate Cupcakes with a Raspberry Butter Creme frosting.

2. Blueberry Pancake Cupcakes

3. Margarita Cupcake

4. Chocolate Peanut butter Cupcake

5. Key Lime Pie cupcake

Give ’em the “bout”

I am in a friends wedding in a few weeks and in order to cut costs we have been making some crafty little things for the ceremony, my favorite of which I just finished up this weekend as a favor to the bride! They are boutonnieres made of buttons and ribbon instead of using and paying for additional florals in the ceremony. In a few easy steps we were able to create these pops of color for all 10 groomsmen and the ring bearer! Here is a glimpse of the final product, and then a picture tutorial follows incase all you brides-to-be feel inspired.

Step 1: group the buttons.
each button pod has a grouping of 3 buttons, with the exception of the smallest ones. The largest goes on bottom, and then they are stacked according to height. Line up the button holes and then give it a quick stitch or two and tie a knot on the back to secure the stack. I used 3 button pods for each boutonniere on small, one medium and one large. I suggest making all of these first before doing anything else. We also made additional to stick inside the bridesmaids flowers.

Step 2: Tie the bows.

To do this I wrapped the ribbon around the width of my had 6 times. I then slid the loop off the top of my hand pinched it in the center and pinned it with a safety pin. After doing this, fan the petals out, starting from the outer most loop. They will only open up about half way while still pinned. Once all the loops are separated un pin the safety pin and using only one loop fan the read of the loops out to make a complete circle. This is the trickiest part. Hold on tight, because if you drop it you have to start over (the voice of experience is telling you it will frustrate you to start over more than 2 or 3 times). Once it is completely fanned out run a quick stitch right through the center, making sure to catch all the ribbon pieces.

Step 3: add the buttons.
After you have created the two parts arrange the buttons how you like on the bed of ribbon and hot glue it to fasten them securely in place. Once you have finished this step attach a safety pin to the back using hot glue and then you’re done!

Pretty simple craft for such a cute end result! I think they will really pop off the brown suits the guys will be wearing!

Movement Mondays- A Thousand Years

So, here is my first post with my own choreography, as some friends have been criticizing my sharing of other peoples work and never my own. If you’ve been waiting for it, here it is, if not….here it is anyways. this is a combo I did at my studio to Christina Peri’s “A Thousand Years” on Valentines Day. Cheesy I know. The music wasn’t selected to celebrate the holiday I had just been playing with the song and it happened to be Valentines day when I got to teach. The girls dancing with me learned the combo in about 30 minutes, so forgive any mishaps, although there are few. Enjoy, hopefully there are more to come.

Southern Shrimp n’ Grits

Lately I have been craving all of my southern summer favorites, shrimp and grits, fresh fish, low country boil, boiled peanuts, I don’t know why. Again, I am going to chalk it up to the unusually warm weather, the beautiful sun, and my ability to begin wearing shorts and sun dresses, and undoubted combination of all things summer. In the fall months, my Dad is an avid shrimper. We don’t have some huge rig, just a typical fishing boat, but he does it justice in maxing out his coolers weekend after weekend and bringing home fresh shrimp from the S.C. coast. Because of this, our family stock pile of frozen shrimp lasts pretty much the whole year. I know the thought of freeze fresh shrimp seems less than appetizing, but all I’m saying is, don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it. So, having this …”shrimp stockpile” as I will call it, allows us to enjoy our fresh seasonal favorites all year long without the additional monetary stress of having to buy fresh shrimp at the market. So, in taking advantage of this stockpile of seafood yumminess, I decided to beg my boyfriend to make me his delicious shrimp and grits while I was in town for a job interview. Because it was the middle of the week he was not as excited as I was at the prospect of slaving away for hours in the kitchen concocting his DELICIOUS rendition of  The Lee Brothers Shrimp and Grits. So we decided on this much more simple Good Housekeeping rendition. It was no Lee Brothers, but it was delicious in its own right with some fresh veggies and a much lighter gravy than some other traditional shrimp and grits recipes have. So, if you have that strange mid week craving for Shrimp and Grits but don’t have the whole afternoon to spend making it, give this one a whirl. Its sure to impress all the same!

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/3 cup(s) whole milk
  • 2 cup(s) water
  •  Salt
  •  Pepper
  • 1 cup(s) quick-cooking grits (not instant)
  • 6 slice(s) bacon, chopped
  • 1 bunch(es) green onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 clove(s) garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 small red pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 pound(s) frozen shelled and deveined raw shrimp, thawed
  • 1/2 teaspoon(s) Louisiana-style hot sauce

Instructions: 

  1. In 4-quart saucepan, heat 2 cups milk, water, and 1/8 teaspoon salt to simmering on medium-high. Whisk in grits. Cover; reduce heat to medium-low. Cook 10 minutes or until liquid is absorbed and grits are tender, stirring often. Keep warm.
  2. Meanwhile, in 12-inch skillet, cook bacon on medium-high 5 to 7 minutes or until brown and crisp, stirring occasionally. With slotted spoon, transfer bacon to paper-towel-lined plate. Discard all but 2 tablespoons of fat in pan.
  3. To same skillet, add green onions, garlic, and 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper. Cook 2 minutes, stirring. Add red pepper; cook 2 minutes, stirring often. Stir in shrimp and remaining 1/3 cup milk; cook 5 to 6 minutes or until shrimp just turn opaque, scraping up browned bits. Remove from heat. Stir in bacon and hot sauce.
  4. To serve, spoon grits into shallow bowls; top with shrimp. Garnish with additional green onions and hot sauce, if desired.


See, four easy steps to some pretty legit shrimp and grits, and the whole meal only took about 45 minutes to prepare, pretty good for a week night meal after work! And especially good for those nights when your craving this delicious southern classic sans the epic kitchen production. Happy cooking, and enjoy!

Wastin away again

My Facebook friends have informed me it is National Margarita Day!!!!! My first two thoughts when finding this out were “Where can I get a delicious Margarita tonight?” and “Why is this holiday in the middle of the winter, when a cool refreshing margarita is most often enjoyed in the heat of the summer?” Regardless, we must pay our respects to one of the most notorious drinks out there. I am a tequila girl so the thought of celebrating the beverage is welcome with open arms, to those of you who aren’t…Sorry bout it. First of all, I want to leave you will a little celebratory jam, you know the national anthem of margarita drinkers everywhere… Tequila makes her clothes fall off….. Just kidding, Margaritaville by Jimmy Buffet. So, sit back on your lunch break and take a little tropical escape to day dream about the delicious frozen concoction you can treat yourself to after work tonight!

I also personally enjoyed the horrible pictures this specific youtube video used to depict the lyrics of the song. So literal, such a bad visual representation. I could have just been satisfied with a picture of the beach and a sunset.

And now, to talk about the more important things, making Margaritas. If you are not going to a bar to celebrate national margarita day, maybe you can just make some at home instead. I am not going to claim to be able to make this delicious treat anywhere near as well as my dad, who can pump your veins full of tequila, poolside in the summer before you even realize what hit you. Only the best margaritas do that, I’m sure!

So, Here are a few twists on the traditional Margarita if you’re looking to create a tequila smorgasbord tonight!

The Pink Grapefruit Margarita (From the Barefoot Contessa)

  • 1 cup          ruby red grapefruit juice
  • 1/2  cup    fresh squeezed lime juice (about 4 limes)
  • 1 cup         triple sec orange liqueur
  • 3 cups      ice
  • 1 cup        silver tequila
  • 1   lime cut in wedges, optional Kosher salt.

* note: it is important to use Ruby Red grapefruit juice, it is much sweeter
If you prefer to rim the glasses take a lime wedge and rim, then dip in salt, if you do not like a salted rim sprinkle a touch of salt in each glass, the salt really brings out the flavor.

Combine the grapefruit juice, lime juice, triple sec and ice in a blender. Pour into a large pitcher (or just keep it in the blender) and pour in the tequila, stir. (I personally just added it all to the blender- I like slushy, that is totally up to you)

Peach Margarita (By: Vianney Rodriguez)

makes 4 margaritas

  • salt
  • lemon wedges
  • 1 cup tequila
  • 1 cup fresh peach juice (about 5 peaches)
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup Cointreau
  • ice cubes
  1. On a small plate spread salt.  With lemon wedges moisten rim of 6 ounce glasses.  Dip glasses into salt.   Place glasses into freezer to chill.
  2. In a pitcher combine tequila, peach juice, lemon juice and Cointreau.  Remove glasses from freezer and serves margarita mixture over ice. Garnish with peach slices.
Cranberry Pomegranate Margarita

ingredients:

For the Cranberry Pomegranate Syrup:
1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries
1/2 cup orange juice
1/2 cup pomegranate juice
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
zest of 1 orange

For the Cranberry Pomegranate Margarita:
3 oz cranberry pomegranate syrup
2 oz tequila (gold or silver)
1 oz triple sec
1 oz fresh lime juice

directions:

For the Cranberry Pomegranate Syrup:
Combine ingredients in a sauce pan that has a fitted lid over medium high heat. Bring to a simmer and stir until sugar has dissolved. Cover sauce pan with lid (stir occasionally, making sure it doesn’t boil over). Once the cranberries burst, bring the heat to low and allow to simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and blend with an immersion blender (or allow to cool and carefully blend in a blender or food processor for 30 seconds). Pour syrup through a fine strainer into an air tight container and store in the refrigerator for up to one week

For the Cranberry Pomegranate Margarita:
Combine ingredients in a mixing glass or cocktail shaker and stir or shake well. Fill glass with crushed ice and pour drink over ice.

 

Hope these inspire you to celebrate this joyous occasion with something served on the rocks… or frozen if thats more your style! Happy National Margarita Day to you and yours. 

 

Cool as a Cucumber

So, this meal is probably better fit for the warmth of summer months, but this unusually warm weather lately has had my craving some of my summer favorites lately. That being said, I convinced my dad to tag team a dinner with me last week and it turned out great. If you know anything about me, you know I LOVE Salmon, and the only thing I love more than salmon is salmon that my dad has grilled on his green egg, the smoky deliciousness is to die for. So, this meal is a grilled salmon with a delicious cool cucumber and dill salad on top. Its perfect for summer, but really hit the spot in the heat of the…winter the other day! I recommend it highly! Also, I am willing to be the salad would be a delicious topper to a variety of meals. So, heres how to score this top notch dinner

Ingredients:

For the Salmon

4  6-ounce salmon fillets
Olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

For the Cucumber-Dill Salad
1 English hothouse cucumber
1/3 cup finely sliced red onion, from one small red onion
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sour cream
3 tablespoons mayonnaise, best quality such as Hellman’s
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 teaspoon sugar
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Instructions:
1. Heat up the grill and grill the salmon.
2. Cut cucumber in half and then slice each half down the middle lengthwise. Use the tip of a teaspoon to scoop out center seeds. Cut into thin slices and place in colander along with red onion.  Toss with salt and let sit in sink at least 30 minutes, until water drains out.
3. In the meantime, make the dressing. Combine sour cream, mayonnaise, white wine vinegar, dill, garlic, sugar and black pepper in a medium bowl and mix well.
4. When cucumbers and onions are ready, release any excess water by tapping colander on the base of the sink, then use a large wad of paper towels to pat vegetables dry. Add to dressing and toss well. Cover and chill until ready to serve.
5. Preheat grill to high heat. Clean grill rack, then brush lightly with oil. Close lid and let return to temperature. Rub salmon with olive oil and season generously with kosher salt (about 1 teaspoon) and pepper. Place fillets skin side down and grill until golden brown and slightly charred, 4-5 minutes (resist the urge to peek or flip early; when fillets are nicely seared on the first side, they should release easily). Flip the fillets over and continue grilling until done, 2-3 minutes. Let cool slightly, remove the skin if desired, and serve with the cold cucumber-dill salad piled over top or alongside.

Needless to say, this was utterly delicious and well worth the tag team effort. Dad made the salmon and I made the salad. It turned out wonderfully. The salad was a little sour at first so we added a bit more sugar that was called for AND a touch more sour cream. The vinegar is what causes it to be sour I guess, so next time I will NOOOOT be using as much. Hope this hits the spot for you and yours, because it definitely did for me. Enjoy, and happy cooking.

 

Chicken Tortellini Bake

This one is a LIIIIITTLE labor intensive to have only taken about an hour to make, but there are lots of little things that have to be done to pull it all together. It was very good, and even better if you can make it over the weekend and freeze the casserole until you are ready to bake it, then just come home and throw it in the oven for dinner. Made this with the boy for our valentines day dinner, which we had on Monday night, so sorry I’m not sorry for waiting so long to share it with you, it took me this long to recover from all the effort it took (just kidding it wasn’t that bad, but its definitely not a throw together kind of meal). Or, more than likely I was feeling lethargic and wishing we had save the $40 we spent on getting fresh veggies and all the other ingredients for this dish and just went out to dinner, but thats so cliche anyways, so we cooked dinner for ourselves, a day early, because we are definitely not conventional. Anywho, here it is, don’t let my complaining scare you, I haven’t been spending as much time in the kitchen lately so it probably isn’t even that bad, I’m just being dramatic. Plus, its worth it. This little pasta bake is DELICIOUS!

Ingredients: 

  • 10 ounces dried cheese-filled tortellini (2-1/2 cups) or two 9-ounce packages refrigerated tortellini
  • medium carrot, thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar snap peas, halved crosswise
  • tablespoon margarine or butter
  • pound skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
  • cup sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 1/3 cup chicken broth
  • tablespoons snipped fresh oregano or 1-1/2 teaspoons dried oregano, crushed
  • teaspoons all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • cup milk
  • 1- 8 ounce package cream cheese or light cream cheese (Neufchatel), cubed and softened
  • tablespoon lemon juice
  • cup quartered cherry tomatoes
  • small red or green sweet pepper, coarsely chopped
  • tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Instructions: 

1. Cook tortellini in boiling salted water according to package directions, adding the carrot during the last 5 minutes of cooking and the sugar snap peas during the last 1 minute of cooking; drain.

2. Meanwhile, heat margarine or butter in a 12-inch skillet. Add chicken and mushrooms, and cook about 5 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink. Remove from skillet.

3. Shake together chicken broth, oregano, flour, garlic salt, and pepper in a screw-top jar until smooth. Add to skillet along with milk. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly; add cream cheese. Cook and stir until cream cheese is smooth. Remove from heat. Stir in lemon juice. Add pasta mixture, chicken mixture, tomatoes, and sweet pepper. Toss to coat. Turn into an ungreased 13x9x2-inch baking dish or shallow 3-quart casserole.

4. Bake, covered, in a 350 degrees F oven for 30 to 35 minutes or until heated through. Stir mixture and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Transport in an insulated carrier. Makes 12 main-dish servings.

  • Make Ahead Tip Prepare as directed but don’t bake it. Instead, cover and chill up to 24 hours. Bake, covered, in a 350 degrees F oven about 55 minutes or until hot.

If you don’t like Clemson…

… then don’t bother reading this post.

Obviously these Shit “_____” say are getting really out of hand, but this one is true. I completely agreed with every one of the things that Clemson Students do not say, because as a December Grad, I can’t imagine ever saying ANY of these things… in a serious manner, however I do recall a large number of situations that called for sarcasm where I MAY have uttered some of these quotes. Here’s your mid day laugh, if you went to Clemson… if you didn’t you PROBABLY won’t get it.

Nailed it!

Recently I have become obsessed with nail polish. Its starting to put a dent on my bank account (not a huge one, but $6-$8/bottle really adds up….every time I want to paint my nails) I have decided that every time I want to paint my nails a new color I go to the store and buy it, instead of using a color that already exists in my nail polish collection. OR even worse, the bank account blackhole (also known as target) really makes me drop some cash to increase my polish collection. every time I go there I find myself perusing the polish collection, and the target in Charlotte by the Northlake mall has an EXCESSIVE amount of nail polish in my favorite brands. (Essie and OPI). So, because I am dropping some serious dough in this fashion arena I thought I would show you some of my favorite looks and colors right now.

This is OPI Samoan Sand, I am super into neutrals right now. Super versatile and they show chips and imperfections less, which is key to my ability to maintain my nails. Ya know, a polish that looks maintained when it is not.

More on some neutral shades, I am LOVING grays right now, very winter, and also good to go with lots of different looks, you can dress it up or down and it matches most colors!

This one I would save for some classy event. I love the matte finish and the dark shimmer. Its perfect for a night out.

Love this, also neutral, but more pink… again, can’t get enough neutrals and nudes.

Essie’s Haute as Hello is a fun light pink color, great for spring and summer. This will probably live on my toes this summer, can’t wait.

I have been wearing this a lot recently, its a great winter pink. Kind of dark so it doesn’t look like spring but not so dark that its a heavy color like maroon or purple. Puuuuuuurfection.

And, last but not least, I am obsessed with the glitter nail polish craze! Perfect for going out and represented by my most recent polish purchase this afternoon. This is the same brand I bought today, but I got it in gold. I love the clumpy glitter as opposed to the smaller specs, it makes it look…awesome!

I definitely was an avid polish hater in high school and most of college, I found the thought of painting my nails to be annoying AND I was bad at it, oh and I always thought I looked so weird with polish on my nails. I have been working to amend this thought, maybe that is another reason I am so obsessed with the neutral colors? Who knows. Any who, long live my addiction, and heres to hoping that OPI and Essie stop being $8/bottle in the near future, not likely, but tis the price we pay for beauty.

Banana Bread

So I found this recipe on another blog, it is definitely not my own. But I have been DYING to find a good Banana bread recipe, because it is one of my favorite treats. I haven’t eaten mine yet because I am taking it to the mountains this weekend, but it smells delicious in the oven I will have to try so hard not to devour the whole loaf on the 4 hour drive up there, because I am sure it will have my entire care smelling utterly delicious! This recipe is great because you sub applesauce and honey for the sugar and oil so it adds some more moisture to it, etc, sounds great, hope it tastes even better.

So, my first problem with making banana bread is that I can NEVER figure out how long I am suppose to let the bananas ripen, or I just don’t plan ahead enough to have fully ripened bananas on hand OR most likely, someone ate them, because we do not leave food lying around our house long enough to turn brown and rotten looking. So, in order to avoid all of these unfortunate events I found this great tip on a super quick ripening trick from AmandAkJones, another blog. She shared her findings from the America’s Test kitchen cookbook, and this is what they said:

BEFORE peeling the bananas stick them on a baking pan and pop them in a pre-heated oven (350 because that is what you will cook the bread on) and bake them, skin and all for about 15 minutes, I flipped mine about half way through so that they would brown evenly. This expedites the ripening process and brings all the sugars and deliciousness into the bananas, and over ripened  bananas are what will give the bread all the flavor and moisture, and make it perfectly delicious! I did this with my bananas and was so surprised how it turned out, see!

So after you have the bananas ripened, you are ready to make the bread. You will need the following ingredients:

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar free applesauce
  • 3/4 cup honey
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 3 mashed overripe bananas
  • 1 small bag of chopped walnuts (if desired)

In order to mix the bread you will need two bowls, one for dry ingredients and one for wet. Follow these instructions carefully, as I have learned baking is a delicate art, not to be altered unless done so with exact measurements.

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a 9×5 inch loaf pan.
  • In a large bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt.
  • In a separate bowl, mix together applesauce and honey. Stir in eggs and mashed bananas until well blended.
  • Stir banana/wet ingredients mixture into flour mixture; stir just to moisten.
  • Mix in walnuts if desired
  • Pour batter into prepared loaf pan, and sprinkle walnuts on top
  • Bake in preheated oven for 60 to 65 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into center of the loaf comes out clean.
  • Let bread cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack.
It looks great and I can’t WAIT to taste it, I will be sure to let you all know how it turned out, especially if it is a hit! Enjoy!