Category Archives: cooking

cooking

Sunbutter & Jam Mini Muffins

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My daughter loves these mini breakfast muffins and they couldn’t be easier to make.  We made two versions this time – the ‘original’ kind and some using sunbutter and jam.  Yummy!

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These muffins are made using pancake mix – pre-packaged or homemade (we used Kodiak Cakes mix).  Just mix up like you are going to make pancakes … for the ‘original’ version, add in about 1/4 cup of maple syrup and a few drops of vanilla (and some fresh berries if you want).  For the sunbutter & jam mini muffins, don’t add maple syrup and instead add about 1/4 cup sunbutter and 1/4 cup of jam.  Mix it all up and spoon into a greased (we used coconut oil) mini muffin pan.  Bake at 350 for about 15-20 minutes (or until a toothpick comes out clean).  Let them cool and then pop them out of the pan and into your mouth.  Ava likes these for breakfast, but they are great for a snack anytime of day.

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You could really add just about anything to the mix – nuts, berries, spices, etc.  Pumpkin Pie and Carrot Cake versions are what I want to try next.  Go wild!  :-)

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Enjoy!  XO

cooking decor life shopping

4 Crushes & A Confession

This weather is really sucking the motivation out of me.  And I can tell that Ava is getting bored with playing inside.  It has been a long, cold winter and I am totally, completely, 100 percent over it.  I just want to stay at home, walk around in slipper boots (also leggings & a comfy oversized sweater), sip hot coffee, and do absolutely nothing.  Thank goodness Ava keeps me on my toes or I might turn into a hermit.

While I may not have felt like writing any posts this week, I did find the time to lolligag around on the internet looking for vintage area rugs on ebay, searching craigslist for planters and pots, and totally falling for my 4 new crushes…

CRUSH #1:  MOCIUN

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This ring.  I love it sooooo much.

And I think I’ve found a replacement for our scratched white IKEA bowls…

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(eric bonnin kam ice cream bowl @ mociun)

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CRUSH #2:  JERSEY ICE CREAM COMPANY

It was pure luck that I stumbled upon this instagram feed for @jerseyicecreamco .  I was instantly smitten with the beautiful travel pics and curious about the remodeling.

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A visit to their site lead me to some amazing “before & after” shots from their design & build work.  Here are two “afters”:

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The wood wall is gorgeous.  So is the rug.  And the bed.  Love it.

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Again, amazing wood walls … amazing use of wood all around.  This room has such a calming demeanor – like a permanent vacation.  I need to buy a house just to have this team go to work on it!

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CRUSH #3:  CAULIFLOWER SAUCE

Yes, you read that correctly.  I have a crush on cauliflower sauce.  It’s delicious.  My husband had no idea he was eating pasta drenched in cauliflower sauce when I  adapted the “alfredo” recipe from Oh She Glows (I left out the yeast and added a dash of nutmeg).  I can’t wait to try this variation from Pinch of Yum:

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CRUSH #4:  POLENTA FRIES

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I was inspired to try these when I saw the pics & recipe on Spoon Fork Bacon .  I shortcutted the recipe by using a roll of organic polenta I had in the fridge.  I cut it into fry shapes, rolled them around in a little bit of olive oil on a baking sheet and popped them into a 375 degree oven for about 30-40 minutes (depending on how crispy you want them).  After about 20 mins, I flipped them over.  I finished them off with a dash of salt & cracked pepper and we ate them just like that.  No condiment required.  My daughter did insist on ketchup for hers.  Of course.

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A CONFESSION

Why a confession?  Because they are fun … who doesn’t like hearing a little secret about someone?  So here is my confession (and moms, don’t hate.).  I do not like playing Barbies with my daughter.  Well, not just with my daughter, but in general.  I despise it.  Just hearing the words “Let’s play Barbies” makes me cringe.  Oh, I still do it but we put a time limit on it (if I didn’t, I would have to play Barbies all day.  every day.).  It never used to bother me.  Maybe I have reached my dollhouse limit.  I love doing everything else with the little miss and I’m always full of alternative suggestions, but The Barbies always win.  And why can’t they make pants that actually stay on Ken when he sits down?

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Have a Great Weekend, Everyone!  XO

cooking

Prosciutto Crisps – Yum!

Move over, bacon – these prosciutto crisps are super crispy, extra tasty, and about 30-40 calories LESS per serving.  I got my “bacon” fix at breakfast this morning by popping a few slices of prosciutto in the microwave.

Place slices between 2 paper towels and microwave for about 1-1:30 (or until they look nice and crunchy).  So simple.

I’ll never say goodbye to bacon (impossible), but these are a pretty close stand-in.  I’ve crumbled them over a salad, made a PLT, and put them on a pizza.  I love how super crispy they are – because the slices are so much thinner, you really get a good crunch.  It’s kind of like a potato chip.  Only better.  Try them … seriously.  Do it.

XO

cooking creativity life

Snow Ice Cream & Real Snow Cones

The snow just keeps coming.  I couldn’t even get out of our garage to take Ava to school today (despite my hour of shoveling), so instead we put on our snow gear, had a little fun, and even managed to shovel a bit of the sidewalks.  All that hard work made us hungry (and really cold) so we headed inside for  a nice warm bowl of tomato soup served with toasted peanut butter sandwiches.  Then I remembered all of the posts I’ve been seeing about making ice cream and snow cones out of real snow and so we gave it a try!

This is our MAPLE VANILLA Snow Ice Cream (adapted from the recipe below).  We used vanilla extract, maple syrup, cinnamon, and lightly sweetened almond milk.  Instead of stirring it together, I used my milk frother (no idea if that helped anything or not, but I’m just really into frothy milk right now.).  Then we started mixing in the snow and voila – snow ice cream!

Check out some other good snow recipes below!!

CHOCOLATE Snow Ice Cream by Just a Girl

VANILLA MAPLE Snow Ice Cream by Mama Papa Bubba

SNOW Cones by Pastry Affair

MAPLE Snow TAFFY! by Family.com

XO

cooking DIY life

Cardamom Coffee

It’s Monday and school is closed (tomorrow too!) and we got to enjoy a lazy, no rush kind of morning.  This occasion called for something more than my regular mug of morning coffee so I decided to amp it up with some cardamom.  The aroma and flavor are subtle, yet obviously there (if that makes any sense).  It definitely sets the mood for a calm, relaxing day.

I crack open a few pods and drop them on top of my coffee grounds.  Start off with just one or two crushed pods so you can adjust the strength from there.  I just pour hot water over my grounds, but this will work in a drip maker too.

I like to serve it up black or add a bit of frothy almond milk.  Ahhhhh, enjoy!

XO

cooking

Homemade Sloppy Joes

We have been getting pounded with snow and cold here in Chicago, so this saucy sandwich was just what we needed to warm our bellies.  It’s pretty easy to make too (not quite as easy as opening a can, but much better for you!).

INGREDIENTS

– 1 lb. Ground Beef (I think ours was 80 / 20)

–  Jar of Pasta Sauce (Choose something simple like garlic or basil & tomato.  I used a jar of arrabiata, which is basically tomatoes, chili peppers & garlic)

–  1 Diced Bell Pepper (color of your choice)

–  2 Cloves of Garlic, minced

–  1/2 an Onion, diced

–  BBQ Sauce (to taste … about 1/4 cup)

–  Brown Sugar

–  Chili Powder

–  1 to 2 tsp. Apple Cider Vinegar

– Salt & Pepper

–  Buns

Brown the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat with a little salt and pepper and chili powder (use as much or as little of this as you like.  We use much.).  When there’s just a bit of pink left, add in the peppers, onions, and garlic.

Continue to cook until the onions take on that translucent color, the peppers soften up, and the beef finishes browning.  Next you will remove the mixture from the heat and dump it into a strainer to drain the fat.  DO NOT skip this part.  You will be amazed how much fattiness oozes out.  Gross – you don’t want to eat that.  Return the mixture to the skillet and add in your tomato sauce.  Give it a stir while simmering over low-medium heat.

Stir in the BBQ sauce and brown sugar a little at a time (tasting as you go) until you reach your desired flavor.  Add in a bit more salt, pepper, and chili powder if you need too as well.  Then add the apple cider vinegar – start with 1 tsp, taste and then decide if you want another.  The vinegar just gives the dish a little kick of acid and amps up the flavor.  Let everything simmer for about 5 more minutes and then slap it on some buns and chow down!  (Because that’s the way you do it with a Sloppy Joe).

Enjoy!  XO

cooking

Pretty in Pink Desserts

Okay, I know how overly commercialized Valentine’s Day is, but I still love it.  Pink and red and hearts and kisses, sappy romantic comedies, ‘Just Because I Love You’ gifts and cards, an excuse to curl my hair and paint my lips red and glossy … a head in the clouds sort of day.  Oh and did I forget to mention DESSERT?!

Raspberry Meringue Hearts – recipe at Women’s Day

Pink Strawberry Champagne Cupcakes (OMG) – recipe at Bubbly & Sweet

Bubblegum Marshmellows [my daughter would INHALE these] – recipe at Piece of Cake

Lovely Pink Grapefruit & Strawberry Granita – recipe at Back to the Cutting Board

Cranberry & Chocolate Mousse w/ Pomegranate – recipe at eCurry.com

Pink Popcorn Hearts [LOVE THESE!] – recipe from Pillsbury

Peppermint Bark [don’t like peppermint? -any crushed hard candy would work!] – recipe at Madly Stylish Events



cooking

Slow Cooked Chops w/ Apples & Fennel

I’ve really been embracing the ease of a crock pot lately.  Just throw everything into the crock in the early afternoon, let it be, and by dinnertime it’s delicious.

The other day I made this delicious pork dish – so tender and full of flavor and I barely had to do anything.  I sliced up some onion, apples [peeled], celery, and fennel and put it into the crock pot with three thick cut boneless chops [seasoned w/ salt & pepper].  Then I poured a little spiced cider into mix.  I saved some of the fennel tops and placed them on top before putting on the lid and letting it do its thing.

I cranked it up to high and left it alone for the next three hours or so.  I checked on it, added a little more cider, and turned it down to low until we were ready to eat.  There are no pictures of the final dish because we gobbled it up before I remembered to take a photo.  That’s when you know it’s good!  I’ll be making this dish again for sure.

cooking life

MMMM … Macaroons

I have just recently fallen in love with macaroons.  I don’t know where they’ve been all my life, but I’m sure glad they are here now.  They make you feel a little fancy when you eat them – part of their charm I suppose.  Dainty, yet somehow exotic, and very very satisfying.  YUM.

Some lucky person on our Christmas list will be getting a box of these gorgeous French Macaroons from Sparkles Kitchen.  Suck up now.  [lol]

cooking

Rachael Ray Makes Bacon

Well, Rachael Ray has really outdone herself with this one … a recipe for Late Night Bacon.

Ingredients – Bacon.  Directions – “Place 2 sheets of paper towel on a microwave safe plate, lay the bacon out on the paper towel not over lapping the slices. Place 2 more sheets of paper towel on top. Place in the microwave on high for 6 to 13 minutes.”

(photo courtesy of naomi stelrose)

Wow.  Even more hilarious than the fact that this recipe is listed on Food Network’s site are all of the comments ….

Hi Rachel Ray,
I have a huge dilemma. I love, love, love bacon and your recipe sounds DELICIOUS! But I’m just can’t stay up until “late nite”. What do I do???!!! Can you please urgently post a morning or preferably a mid to late morning bacon recipe? Thanks!
(from petersf)

“Rachel, would you PLEASE post this recipe in other languages? I feel it needs to be shared with other cultures. I also think you should bring this to the United Nations and conduct a workshop or something. You’re really onto something here. I know that some people think you look and sound like a waitress at a truck stop, but I don’t agree with that AT ALL!” (from angie)

“I was really hoping to combine this scrumptious recipe with some toast, but I can’t find the recipe anywhere on the Food Network. Rachel, please help me…if you know how.” (from teacher105)

And there are many many more.  Worth a read for a good laugh.

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