Monthly Archives: November 2011

Thanksgiving Yum’s

I’m going to be taking a (much-needed) vacation this week – from work & my blog.  Since it is Thanksgiving week, here are some recommendations for Thanksgiving dishes, if you’re still in search…

Appetizers & pre-meal snacks:

The key is to serve appetizers that won’t be too heavy & spoil everyone’s appetite for the main meal!

The Stir gave some great ideas on their website for 5 Simple Thanksgiving Appetizers using seasonal ingredients: Recipes

Blue Cheese and Walnut Spread from Martha Stewart

Fruit Gobbler from FamilyFun

Side Dishes:

Caramelized Sweet Potato, Beet & Goat Cheese from the TravelBite

7 Layer Side I made last Thanksgiving
(green bean casserole, gravy, mashed potatoes, candied pecans, sweet potato, Copes Corn, Stuffing)

Desserts:

Turkey Cupcakes I made last Thanksgiving

Double Layer Pumpkin Cheesecake

Turtle Pumpkin Cheesecake by cbsop

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Filed under Recipes (all), Recipes: Appetizers, Recipes: Desserts, Recipes: Main Dishes

Fall Harvest Pizza…3 Cheese Butternut Squash Pizza

I made this pizza about a month ago, so I apologize for the delay.  It was absolutely delicious & highly recommended. 

Ingredients: Organic pizza dough, red onion, apple, mozzarella, gorgonzola, cheddar, olive oil, garlic, butternut squash & spices.

You’ll need: a pizza stone or round baking sheet.

Cook time: 25 min (butternut squash) + 5 min (cool time)+ 10-15 min (pizza cook time) = 40-45 min

Directions: 

Slice butternut squash length-wise, rub a little butter and brown sugar, then place on a baking sheet in a 400 degree (F) oven for 25 minutes. 

While butternut squash is cooking, prep the rest of the ingredients:

Slice 1/4 of a red onion and saute in a hot pan with a little olive oil, until just about fully cooked (still slightly hard).

Grate 1/4 cup mozzarella cheese.

Grate 1/4 cup cheddar cheese.

Chop up 1/2 an apple.

Remove butternut squash from oven & allow to cool for a little bit (put in fridge to speed up the cooling time).  Once cool enough to touch, chop up 1/2 into good sized chunks (remove skin).

Heat oven to 425 degrees F.

Roll out the dough on some flour & a little cornmeal, to about an 3/4 inch thick.  

Crush a clove of garlic in a couple tablespoons of olive oil with some basil (dried), oregano, salt & pepper.  

Brush the olive oil mixture over the entire crust.

Evenly spread the ingredients on the dough.

Place pizza in oven for 10-15 minutes, until dough a golden brown & cheese melted.

 

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Fun with Frosting Friday…American Flag Cupcakes

In honor of Veteran’s Day, today I’m posting some American Flag Cupcakes.

Recipe on Easy Cupcakes

Stars and Bars American Flag Cupcakes on The Cupcake Blog

And if you’re feeling ambitious…

Patriotic Cupcakes posted on Divine Dinner Party

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Thank you to all of those who have served or are currently serving our country.

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Happy & Healthy…Interesting Article About Gardening & Being A Frugal Locavore

I want to share an article I read, which was in the New York Times last month.  This is such an inspirational story of a dedicated woman going back to the land to feed & take care of her family.  It truly makes me want to keep up all that I have already started to do in my own life & go even further.  I already participated in a CSA (community supported agriculture) this year, tended to my own little herb garden & use alternative cleaning methods, whenever possible.  Now to just convince my condo association that a compost bin won’t look horrible in the neighborhood…


Susan Gregory Thomas, author of “In Spite of Everything: A Memoir,” and the article I read in the New York Times, brings gardening, cooking & cleaning to a whole new level.  She gives examples of how she makes her own bread, raises chickens, plans a garden to feed her family, and makes her own cleaning products. The cost savings are incredible.  This mother of 3 is able to live on $100 a week for food, which alone is amazing, but even more is that she is able to do it in a healthy way and live in a city.  Truly inspirational.

Here is the link to read her article & story:

Back to the Land, Reluctantly 

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I ♥ my lab…Things to keep in mind before getting a dog

When my boyfriend and I found our dog (literally), we thankfully had talked about getting one eventually.  At the time we weren’t quite ready, but we quickly became ready to have her in our lives.  One thing that everyone thinks about, but never really actually realizes until they get a dogs just how expensivethey are.  Dogs aren’t quite as expensive as children, but you’re still a parent when you welcome a dog into your lives, so you want to make sure that they are well taken care of & healthy.  My boyfriend and I found an extremely malnourished dog, so she also took some special TLC to get healthy…We’re talking additional raw protein, supplements & many doctors appointments.  We are very grateful to have her in our lives (as we like to think she is of us), but it didn’t come cheap or without a lot of time & effort.

Picture above of our lab - skin & bones when found. Thankfully she's now, 4 months later, up to her target weight!

Whether you are rescuing a dog or purchasing a dog from a qualified breeder, here are some things you need to keep in mind BEFORE you embark on the journey of doggie parenthood…

Dogs take time, money & attention

Time:

  • If you work ridiculous hours and/or travel a lot, then now may not be a good time to have a dog in your life.  It isn’t fair for a dog to be sitting at home alone for more than 8-9 hours a day…Especially if it’s a puppy & they don’t have access to a place where they can relieve themselves.
  • Puppies and rescue dogs should go to training classes, which are usually an hour or two a week.  Training doesn’t stop in the classroom, though, it is important to do training at home, too.
  • For a healthy dog, dogs require a few hours of exercise a day.  Make sure you set aside time in the morning and evening to take your pup for long walks and/or playtime to tucker them out.  A tired dog is often a happy dog (and is less likely to get into trouble when you’re not at home).

Money:

  • Purebred dogs can be expensive & it takes time to wait for a litter to be ready.  Some people are on breeder’s waiting lists for months to years!
  • Rescue shelters have adoption fees & often require you to go through a process to ensure that you are well-qualified.
  • Vet visits aren’t cheap.  A new puppy requires shots, neutering/spaying & medication for ailments!
  • Food, especially good food, is expensive.  Some may choose to go on a raw diet, which can also add up.
  • Toys…puppies destroy toys pretty quickly & tougher ones are even more expensive.  Unless you want your expensive shoes being used as play things, toys are highly recommended.
  • Bedding, crates & mats…While these are somewhat optional, they are highly recommended…but aren’t inexpensive.
  • Misc supplies you’ll need: leash, collar, tags, bowls,
Attention:
  • Pay attention to the type of breed you want to get.  Not all breeds are good for young families, city life, being left alone, apartments, etc!
  • Dogs aren’t just some nice piece of artwork you look at on the wall.  Dogs deserve love & affection.
  • Grooming: some dogs require this more than others, but all need their nails trimmed and their fur/hair to be brushed on at least a semi-regular basis.
  • Puppies can get into things when you aren’t looking, so it is important that you are able to keep an eye on them when you are home!

Additional reading & info:
American Kennel Club: About Buying a Dog

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Fun with Frosting Fail….Spider cupcakes….

My failed cactus cake (what not to do) post from last year gets a lot of hits…My struggle seems to be amusing, so I guess I’ll provide some more amusement with my FAILED spider cupcakes…

Last weekend my boyfriend and I hosted a Halloween party in our condo.  We’ve been doing a lot of painting & renovations, so it was also an excuse to have our friends come over and see what we’ve been up to.  Over the past couple of months, when we haven’t been re-arranging, painting or fixing up old piece of furniture, we’ve been away.  Realizing that we were about to have a whole bunch of people over, I started stressing out about the fact that our office still hadn’t been painted and it looked like a child had gone to town on our walls with all of the paint sample streaks all over the walls.  It took me forever to decide what color I wanted, so the walls looked horrible.  I got it into my head that I wanted to paint before our party, so the stubborn person I am – we painted!  We started Friday night.  Our party was Saturday night.  I know, I know…crazy idea.  By the way, after all my paint sample stressing, my boyfriend ended up just going to the store and getting a discounted bucket of paint…thankfully I love the color & will be posting photos soon!

So why did I just go on a tangent telling you about my painting struggles?  Needless to say, we finished painting two coats in the office (it looks sooo good), moved all the furniture back in & put the closet back together…but it didn’t exactly leave me a ton of time to cook for our party…Ooops.  I had decided that I wanted to make just about all the things that I posted on my Halloween Party foods, too.  Once again, yes I can be a little crazy sometimes & put too much on my plate…I at least know this about myself.  I almost always get what I want done, but occasionally things don’t always come out as planned: case & point…my spider cupcakes.

Issue #1: I bought the wrong licorice.  I thought I was buying pull & peel Twizzlers & turned out that I bought Chocolate Twizzlers, instead.  Chocolate Twizzlers don’t “peel” in any way, shape or form.  In the photos you can see that I did try to make legs out of the Chocolate Twizzlers & failed miserably.

Issue #2: I was so wrapped up in cooking my other foods that I forgot to switch the cupcakes half-way through on the racks in the oven.  
NOTE: It is important to switch the bottom rack and top rack items half-way through to encourage an even distribution of heat, thus helping your cupcakes not be undercooked on the top & overcooked on the bottom, for example (which is what happened to me)

Issue #3: I ran out of chocolate sprinkles.  I made due with what I had, but without legs & chocolaty fuzzy goodness, my spiders ended up looking very weird & very patchy.  Bald spiders without legs anyone?  

Thankfully it was Halloween weekend, so the cupcakes still looked creepy, just not in the respect that I was hoping for…in the spider form!

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These were what I was going for & failed:

Spider Cupcakes by Bakerella

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Filed under Fun with Frosting Friday, Recipes: Desserts

Pumpkins, pumpkins…everywhere!

Blame it on the Autumn leaves falling or the pumpkin displays in front of the stores around town – I have been on a major pumpkin kick lately!  I even went out on a mission yesterday afternoon to find a pumpkin cupcake…thankfully I found a delicious one at New Moon Cafe!  Unfortunately, this didn’t fully fulfill my pumpkin craving, so I have collected a few creative pumpkin recipes to try.  

Click on the photos for the recipe

Appetizers:

Pumpkin Pie Dip by Sugar & Spice & Frugal Advice

Fried Pumpkin Ravioli by The Hip Hostess

Roasted Pumpkin on a stick
(drizzle oil, sprinkle herbs & bake in 350 oven 30-40 min)

Meals:

Roasted Pumpkin Salad from ExclusivelyFood

Thai Pumpkin Satay from CooksRecipes

Savory Pumpkin Tart with Aged Cheddar by CooksRecipes

Roasted Pumpkin Whole Wheat Pizza by LaDue & Crew


Desserts:

Pumpkin Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting from The Yuca Diaries

Pumpkin Pie Cookie Bites by AndreasRecipes

Mini Pumpkin Tarts by FamilyFun

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Filed under Recipes (all), Recipes: Appetizers, Recipes: Desserts, Recipes: Main Dishes, Recipes: Quick Meals