Saturday, March 28

A typical weekend night at our house! We head out to the patio, Adam starts a fire and turns on the stereo, I make up sassy drinks and appetizers. NOTE: Adam does not drink sassy martinis, he only devours the tasty appetizers. He's a man, he drinks beer, you should know this. **insert manly grunt here**



The Lusty Leopard Martini!

I found this recipe from drinksmixer.com!
1 1/2 oz citrus vodka
1 1/2 oz Mango nectar (yep. you can even find this at Walmart, try looking near the Mexican food)
3/4 oz mango rum
1/2 oz simple syrup
5-6 drops chocolate shell syrup

Thoroughly chill a martini glass then apply small "leopard spots" randomly around the inside of the glass using chocolate shell syrup then returning the glass to the freezer to keep cold. (This can be done hours in advance for parties.)

In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, combine the vodka, Malibu rum, mango nectar and simple syrup. Shake well until the shaker is too cold to hold. Strain the contents into the prepared glass with spots.

Tuesday, March 24

I signed up for Wilton's Course 1 at Hobby Lobby! I have to say, after seeing so many great results from ladies that have taken the Wilton classes, I had to give it a try. So my classes start in April, every Thursday evening for two hours. There are 4 classes all together, not a bad deal for the 17$ I paid.


I debated for a few days and then decided to splurge on the big kit. I plan to take all 4 courses, I already know I love to bake cakes and cupcakes and I'm pretty good at decorating sugar cookies. So I'm confident in my cake decorating aspirations.  



That's a whole lotta goodies, and I really don't know how to use any of it. Here's a run down of what's in the box: 

-Eight Jars of Icing Colors (Yellow, Red, Brown, Violet, Pink, Royal Blue, Black, Kelly Green)
-Three Couplers (2 Standard, 1 Large)
-Two Tip/Coupler Dishwasher and Storage Bags
-Tip Cleaning Brush 
-50 Disposable 12-in. Decorating Bags 
-Three Professional Reusuable Decorating Bags (8-, 10- and 16-in.)
-Four Tip Covers
-Tip Saver
-Flower Nail #7
-Three Spatulas (8- and 13-in. Angled and 8-in. Tapered)
-Flower Lifter
-Garland Marker
-Decorating Cakes Book
-Practice Board with Patterns
-Two Bake-Even Strips
-Clear Vanilla and No-Color Butter Flavors
-Cake Leveler
-Quick Ease Roller 
-Easy-Glide Fondant Smoother
-Decorating Brush
-Round Tips (#1, 2, 2A, 3, 12), Star Tips (#16, 18, 21, 32), Basketweave Tip (#48), Leaf Tips (#67, 352), Petal Tips (#102, 103, 104, 125), Drop Flower (#2D) and a Cake Icer (#789).

The price is steep at around 120$ but the Hobby Lobby 40% off coupon makes it much more tolerable.  (You know you can go to their website and print as many 40% off coupons as you want, right? )  I could have probably gone through the line 77x over the next two months and purchased this stuff individually but this is so much more exciting!!!  



Saturday, March 14

It's the meal Adam's been waiting all month to eat!

Guess what's in my pretty pink crockpot?




It's corned beef and cabbage! Probably one of Adam's top 10 favorite meals.  St. Patrick's Day is not complete unless we make this at least once.  And I'm excited because it's such an easy fix. PLUS it means we get to eat reubens this week! Adam makes the most incredible reubens.  

I won't bore you with the simple recipe but I will recommend this crockpot.  You can find it at JCPenney's (online)  in every color imaginable.  It's fantastic.  It's really big too, 6.5 qts is plenty big to roast a whole chicken or cook for a crowd.  I also have a 3 qt slow cooker, I do use that one more often but it's really nice to have two (or three) sizes.  I've read some reviews on JCPenney that say this cooker burns everything.  I've never had an issue.   It's such a large crockpot that I would guess some people aren't filling it up enough.  Make sure you match your recipe size to your slow cooker.  Your crock should be 1/2 to 2/3 full, I prefer to stay around the  2/3 range.  


Saturday, March 7

Check out my Aerogarden!



Finally! Plants I can't kill! These plants have survived in my kitchen since January, I am SO proud! This little gadget is called the Aero Garden. You just pop the seed pods in each of the slots, fill the base with water, add a couple nutrient tabs and the aero garden does everything else. You don't even have to water it again until the indicator light comes on (usually every two weeks or so).

The light comes on everyday around 3 pm and stays on all night until around 7 am. You can see the light is on in the second pic above. So now I have on hand in the kitchen- Fresh Purple Basil, Italian Basil, Thyme, Mint (Mojito, anyone?), Dill and Chives. Next project- figure out how to dry and freeze my own herbs so I can stock pile them. As soon as this kit is done we have our eye on the mixed greens . You can harvest 2 salads a day! We're loving this thing so much we bought one for my mom too.

Tuesday, March 3

Look, it's a wee little Leprechaun!
And he's drinking beer on my kitchen counter, typical. 



St. Patrick's day celebrating starts early around our house. We have big plans to celebrate St. Patty's day in Charleston, SC so I have to get my Irish cooking out of the way early. I found this recipe while perusing allrecipes.com, I would love to try my hand at the Chocolate Guinness cake but this will have to do since we're trying to watch our carbies.



Beef and Irish Stout Stew!

I found this recipe on Allrecipes.com and modified it to use my crockpot. I'll post the orignal recipe for you. I also served my version over mashed cauliflower since we are trying to eat low-carb.

Ingredients:
2 pounds lean beef stew meat
3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 pinch cayenne pepper
2 large onions, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 1/2 cups Irish stout beer (e.g., Guinness)
2 cups chopped carrot
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley for garnish

1.Toss the beef cubes with 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil. In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper. Dredge the beef in this to coat.

2.Heat the remaining oil in a deep skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the beef, and brown on all sides. Add the onions, and garlic. Stir the tomato paste into a small amount of water to dilute; pour into the pan and stir to blend. Reduce the heat to medium, cover, and cook for 5 minutes.

3.Pour 1/2 cup of the beer into the pan, and as it begins to boil, scrape any bits of food from the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. This adds a lot of flavor to the broth. Pour in the rest of the beer, and add the carrots and thyme. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 2 to 3 hours, stirring occasionally. Taste and adjust seasoning before serving. Garnish with chopped parsley.
An Easy Lemon Cake



I have a confession. I'm a big fan of The Cake Doctor's cookbooks. If you've been to my house you know I loooove to bake cakes for company. They are almost always a "doctored" cake mix. The recipes in this book only take a few minutes to throw together, but having a cake waiting when guests arrive will look like you spent the whole day baking. Impressive!

Cake:

1 Package (18.25 ounces) of plain yellow cake mix
2/3 cup of vegetable oil
1 (3 ounce) pack of Lemon gelatin
2/3 cup of hot water
4 large eggs

Glaze:

1/2 cup confectioner's sugar, sifted
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from 1 lemon)
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

1. Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350. Lightly mist a 12-cup bundt pan with veg oil spray, then dust with flour. Shake out excess flour, set the pan aside.

2. Place the cake mix, gelatin, oil, water, and eggs in a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer on low speed for 1 minute. Stop the machine and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat for 2 minutes more, scraping the sides down if needed. Batter should look thick and well blended. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the top with the rubber spatula, and place the pan in the oven.

3. Bake the cake until its light brown and just starts to pull away from the sides of the pan, about 40 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and place it on a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, prepare the glaze. Combine the confectioners' sugar, lemon juice, and lemon zest in a small bowl and stir with a wooden spoon until smooth.

5. Run a long, sharp knife around the edge of the cake and invert it onto a serving platter. Spoon the glaze over the warm cake so that it drizzles down the sides and into the center. Slice and serve warm. Or let it cool to room temperature, you can always pop it in the microwave for 30-45 seconds and serve with ice cream.