Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas . . .

To you and yours, from me and mine . . . basking in the light of our tree. 

Friday, December 21, 2012

Quickie Friday: Taco Cups

What is as simple as throwing some taco meat into wontons, in a mini muffin tin, and heating it through 5 minutes before your favorite college football team officially gets sent to the National Championship?!

Nothing, that's what.  Here's the recipe:

1 pound lean ground beef
1 cup refried beans (I used my non-refried refried beans)
shredded cheese of your choosing
copious spices (I used white pepper, cayenne pepper, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, and a little bit of oregano) to taste
Wonton wrappers

Brown the ground beef, add the seasoning and beans, heat it through, plop tablespoons of the meat mixture into wonton wrapper-lined mini muffin cups, top with cheese, bake at 350 for 15 minutes and WATCH YOUR TEAM WIN!!!

I am excited, peeps.  January 7th can't come soon enough.

What did come soon enough is EVERYBODY knocking off the fabulous Isabel Marant sneakers.

Seriously?!  What is this world coming to?  Oy.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Quickie Friday: Apple Oatmeal Raisin Bread

For the first time in our three years in Florida, we were paid a visit by the F's parental units.  More popular than our beloved Arnie was this bread.  God love a bread machine and simple ingredients.

Who doesn't love bread by the pool?  Amiright?

One thing to note - I had to take the bread out of the machine, when it beeped to add the raisins, and knead the raisins in by hand.  This bread is DENSE.  Worth the effort, but dense.

Bread + Les Mis mug containing cinnamon coffee with vanilla soy milk =  Breakfast perfection.

I love my bread machine.  It gets used no less than once a week, which is quite significant for a bulky, extraneous countertop kitchen appliance.  I love it so much.

We are attending the one and only holiday party on our social calendar, this evening, and I wish I had shoes like these to rock for the event:

They scream holiday AND "no, I'm not the kind of dork who gets immense joy from bread-making and musical mugs."  Right?

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread

My ability (and desire) to bake varies from day to day, but I had pumpkin leftover from Thanksgiving and a recipe for Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread in front of me, so it seemed appropriate to bake over the weekend.

To say I was thrilled with the vibrancy of this orange would be an understatement.

  • 1 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie mix)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 2/3 cup flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup + 1/4 cup chocolate chips, divided

As the blogger suggested, I lined my loaf pan with parchment paper and preheated my oven to 350 degrees.  I mixed my wet and dry ingredients separately, the combined them and folded in the first cup of chocolate chips, before dumping the whole thing into my loaf pan, topping it with another 1/4 cup of chocolate chips, and baking for approximately 70 minutes.  

I also watched my bread, which looks beautiful and delicious in this photo, sink before my very eyes when I removed it from my loaf pan to cool on my wire rack.  I still have no idea what I did wrong, but I know that it didn't matter because this bread tasted AWESOME.  It is dessert, to be sure, but I wouldn't have it any other way.

 These are, of course, great.

Giuseppe Zanotti via Barneys

I've always been comfortable in heels, but my legs are becoming stronger due to a new workout regime and I believe I'd be better in these heels than ever before.  And just think, if I stopped eating sweet, chocolate-chip laden breads I'd REALLY be in heel-walkin' shape.

But I would never do anything so drastic.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Triple Chocolate Muffins

Chocolate is not my favorite.  I don’t think anybody who reads this blog will be shocked by this.  But I do enjoy a VitaTop from time to time, so when I stumbled across this recipe for knock-offs I had to give it a shot.

Here's the recipe:

1 ¾ cup oats
3 egg whites
¾  cup unsweetened cocoa
½ cup unsweetened applesauce
1 tsp. vanilla extract
½ cup plain Greek yogurt (or regular plain low fat yogurt)
½ tsp cream of tartar (or 1-1/2 Tbsp. vinegar)
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
1 ½ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt
1 cup hot water
1 cup sugar substitute (like Splenda granular) OR 1/4 cup + 2 tbs stevia
½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (or use white chocolate or peanut butter chips!)

Combine all of the ingredients (except the chocolate chips) in a food processor and blend until well-mixed, then fold in the chocolate chips.  Scoop into 12 paper-lined muffin cups and bake at 350 for approximately 15 minutes.

(No, I don't have a picture after they were baked . . . blogger FAIL).

Be warned:  after about 48 hours, these muffins start to get a little boozy-tasting.  Not a bad thing, but I recommend freezing them if you can’t chow down on 12 muffins in 2 days.  

Speaking of boozy . . . 

Charlotte Olympia via Nordstrom

You have to be a little boozy to wear these, right?  Or to even want them on any level?  They are ridiculous.  They also look like something a bride would wear on Four Weddings and expect everybody to love and give her high marks for.

I may watch too much TV.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Quickie Friday: French Dip Roll-Ups

Hello, my name is Ash, and I'm addicted to Pinterest.  I do, however, pin with a purpose, and that purpose is primarily to find food that I can make when football is on TV and I don't feel like spending a lot of time in the kitchen.

These french dip roll-ups require three ingredients:  deli-sliced roast beef, a cheese of your choosing (I have made them with both provolone and pepper jack), and crescent rolls.  If you like, whip up some au jus on the side (Knorr makes a cheap packaged version that is great when you're cheering on the Crimson Tide and not cooking for real).  Roll the crescent rolls up with cheese and meat inside, bake according to the directions (375 for about 12-14 minutes) and you're all set. 

Another thing making my life easier:  the Neiman Marcus + Target collection.

These slippers are fab and at a totally reasonable price point.  I snagged myself these Carolina Herrera Travel Bags and fully intend on going back for more.  There's nothing better than a good collaboration!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Delayed Thanksgiving: Pumpkin Pie

I am blaming my absence on the greatest of news:  there's going to be a royal baby!  An heir to the throne!  A STUNNING pregnant princess with magnificent hair!  If I can't be distracted by that, then I don't know what's out there to distract me.

Moving on.

I made pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving!  Sugar free pumpkin pie!  The recipe goes a little something like this (adapted from Painless Cooking:

1 15 oz can solid packed pumpkin
1 cup evaporated milk
½ cup cold water
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup Splenda
1 unbaked pie shell

I whipped the first seven ingredients together in my stand mixer, the poured the delicious, pumpkiny goodness into my store-bought pie shell (I did a LOT of cooking on Thanksgiving, and making pie dough didn't make the list of priorities) and baked it at 350 for 50 minutes.

My knife came out clean, and I was a happy girl.  I should caution you, however, that this pie didn't keep worth a darn.  It was delicious the day of, and on Black Friday, and it saw me through the completion of my holiday shopping on Saturday, but after that it was a lost cause.  You've been warned.

I should also warn you that there is no shortage of shoes on my holiday wish list.

Manolo Blahnik via Barneys

The F has been asking me, incessantly, what I'd like for Christmas.  He obviously doesn't read my blog.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Aftermath - Bean Style

Who's still full from Thanksgiving?

*Slowly and shamefully raises hand*

But I have a good reason:

This photo doesn't do justice to the amount of food that I cooked for Thanksgiving.  For two people.  We had a 15 pound turkey, peeps.  For two people.

But because Thanksgiving is my favorite of any holiday in the history of the universe, I knew I had to go big.  As such, I made this recipe for Haricots Verts with White Beans and Shallot Vinaigrette.  I couldn't find dried canellini beans, so I went with the canned variety and simmered both those AND the green beans in the thyme, onion, and bay leaf fashion.

I also used spicy brown mustard in my vinaigrette because I had it in the fridge and forgot to purchase dijon when we were doing our turkey shopping.  A turkey, almost literally, called to me during that trip to the grocery store, so I couldn't be bothered with mustards.

These beans were wonderful.  Crisp, flavorful, and a perfect light side to go with the cornucopia of brown foods that took over the rest of the table (turkey, rolls, cheesy vegetables, stuffing, gravy, and mashed potatoes for the F.  All brown.). 

I love brown foods.

And brown shoes.
Manolo Blahnik via Bergdorf Goodman

Honeymoon shoe, anyone?

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Turkey Day!

It's official (or more official, anyway).

I'm a dork.

Enjoy your Thanksgiving - regular posts return Monday!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Slow Cooker Not-Fried Refried Beans

When I came across this recipe for refried beans that weren't at all refried, I had to pin it.  Immediately.  And tell everyone I knew about it.

Refried beans are one food that I can say I firmly and adamantly HATED as a child.  "All rice, no beans," I would declare during every, single Mexican meal I consumed.

And while my love of rice continues, my love of refried beans grows stronger by the day.  I added four jalapenos to these beans (not one as the recipe suggested.  We all know I like my food spicy), but otherwise followed the directions exactly.  When it came time to drain the beans, I got a full soup-bowl full of liquid out and set it aside (but I didn't figured you'd want to see a picture of bean juice.  Am I right, peeps?!).

The beans were so soft, after removing most of the liquid, that I was able to mash them easily with a wire whisk.  I left them slightly chunky, but obviously mash to the consistency you desire.

We enjoyed these beans with shredded chicken (also cooked in a crockpot (not the same one as the beans, obvs.) [4 frozen chicken breasts, two jars salsa verde, low, 9 hours, shred.  Voila!]), diced onions and red cabbage, tortillas, and topped with queso fresco.  This meal was so delicious and satisfying, not to mention low in calories, that I can assure you it will be on heavy rotation in our house.

In the vein of my "all good things come from pinterest" meals, I bring you shoes that I found on pinterest.

Jean-Michel Cazabat via Endless/Amazon

I don't have anything else to say about these other than that they are the perfect black shoe and I DESPISE that Endless is now a part of Amazon.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Quickie Friday: Baked Eggs

In an effort to help the F start his day out on the right foot (and not eating leftover flan for breakfast . . . oy) I baked some eggs.

And wouldn't you know it, cracking a dozen eggs into a muffin pan and baking them at 350 for about 15 minutes yielded some great results.

Let it be known, first, that one should generously grease said muffin tin prior to cracking, so the baked eggs slide out with ease.  Let it also be known that it is quite easy to fashion an at-home McMuffin, of sorts, with a container filled with pre-baked eggs.

Happy F, Happy Ash.  (Pretty sure that is NOT how that saying is supposed to go, but since we aren't getting married until next year, I can't pull the "Happy Wife, Happy Life" card quite yet.)

I can, however, continue to play the "but I wanna be 5'9" like Cindy Crawford" card all over town.

These cheap fixes would put me at a solid 6'1/2" . . . I will take it.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Easy Creamed Spinach

Do you ever find yourself with a not-yet-expired but not-salad-worth bag of spinach in your fridge and think what in the WORLD should I do with this stuff?!  It happens to me regularly, so I was really excited to come across this recipe for creamed spinach that requires a mere 1/4 cup of half and half!

Spinach is one of my favorite things and I'll eat it any which way, but I really love creamed spinach but hate that it's normally so terrible for you.

While this recipe is obviously not scant in calories, it's certainly not as bad as the others that I've tried which call for copious amounts of heavy cream.  

When the sauce cooked down it was super creamy and the flavor, from the cheese and onions, was wonderful.  I used a white onion and lots of garlic in mine, as well, to give it a little something extra.  Garlic is a girl's best friend.

These, while not currently in my possession, could certainly become my new best friend:

Sergio Rossi via Barneys

They're a great librarian shoe, with the t-strap and slightly muted color palette.  And I love them.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Quickie Friday: Parmesan Roasted Cauliflower

The F and I eat a lot of vegetables and, in an effort to get fit for my now 176-days-away wedding, I have now taken carbs off of the dinner menu (for me - the F gets to enjoy more potatoes this way, which he enjoys).  In an effort to taste carb-like things, however, I've been experimenting with cauliflower.

For this side dish I cut a head of cauliflower into bite-sized florets, drizzled olive oil over the top, then added copious amounts of garlic and read pepper before adding a light dusting of parmesan cheese.  I roasted the florets in a 400 degree oven for about 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so, and they turned out perfectly.  Browned, slightly crispy, in spots, and with TONS of flavor.  They almost reminded me of croutons, and bread that's not bread is great for the new rules.

I have been getting into the color block trend recently, and feel that perhaps my shoe wardrobe needs some new rules, much like my diet, to fall in line.

I absolutely refuse to spend lots of money on a super trend-specific item, so these fit the bill.  And with a mere 3 and 1/2 inch heel, I think I could even walk in them without a problem!!!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Favorite Things Thursday: I Can't Resist

She's been laying low for awhile, but not today.

Is she, or is she not, the world's cutest dog?!  Seriously.  Happy Thursday, peeps.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Loaded Potato "Chips"

Don't you just hate it when one of your favorite bloggers disappears for no good reason?

Obviously this is an attempt to compliment myself, but it must be done.  Truth be told, my mother and aunt were in town and we were busy gallivanting around the bay area, shopping and eating delicious things.

These loaded potato chip-like things came to my attention on pinterest, and as a non-potato eater I thought they might be worth a try, since they're so covered in stuff.

I boiled my potatoes about a minute too long and they started to fall apart, slightly, but it didn't hamper my determination to pile lots of stuff on them.  So pile I did.

And then I piled some more . . .

And then we ate.  And I wasn't a fan.  But my good 'ole midwestern, potato-loving F adored these, and his big appetite did not leave a chip on that baking stone or a drop of ranch in the bowl.  Next time I think I would add more stuff to them, spice them up a bit, but if you like loaded potatoes these are for you.

And since those are for you, these are for me!

Jimmy Choo via Bergdorf Goodman

It's only fair.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Favorite Things Thursday: Vanessa's Wedding Surprise

We had our tasting for the wedding a couple weekends ago, and so I have our wedding on the brain.  Because I haven't been cooking much, I'm going to share this favorite video today.

I promise to get back to the food posts soon, peeps. Until then, enjoy Vanessa's Wedding Surprise!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Thank you!

I spend a lot of time, on this blog, talking about myself.  About the F.  About Arnie.  Right now, I want to talk about you, peeps.

Thank you all so much, from the bottom of my heart, for reading my blog and sticking with me.  I started this blog in September of 2010 for my friends and family, and I can't believe how it's grown!  I hope to keep on growing and hope that you'll stick with me throughout the process.

If there are any changes you'd like to see to the blog, recipes you want me to try - ANYTHING - please leave a comment and let me know.  I'd love to hear from you!

image here

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Favorite Things Thursday: Tiga

The first time I saw this video was in college, and I've never been able to forget it.  My mom and aunt are in town for a visit, so I leave you with this.

See you next week!!!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Jalapeno Popper Dip

All of my regular readers know that football season is big business around our house.  You can find us cheering for Notre Dame on Saturdays and for the Bears on Sunday (or the Raiders if you're the F, but that's not important).

Regular readers also know that we love our food spicy, so it should come as no surprise that I put a total of 10 large jalapenos in this dip.  From both a texture and a heat perspective, I think it was the right choice.

I based my recipe on this recipe, but I obviously used many more jalapenos and I substituted fat free sour cream for the mayo (a decision that I strongly recommend).  I also used substantially less of the topping than the recipe indicated, with great results.

The dip turned out great and I would definitely make it again.  I honestly didn't think it was spicy enough, but that's easy to remedy with additional jalapenos (or I may even add hot sauce).

I would also probably add more bacon because, really, who doesn't love more bacon.

I am worried that having such gorg wedding shoes is going to turn me into some sort of Fendi-aholic.

Fendi via Barneys

Between the wedding shoes and these, I'd say it's a totally reasonable and understandable addiction, wouldn't you?