Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Sleeved Emotions


In last night's Glee episode "I Kissed a Girl", I couldn't take my eyes off of Kurt's Acne Normandie Mono One Sleeve Sweater!  I couldn't even tell you the song he was singing during this scene because I was so distracted by this completely-out-there look.  Not sure this look could work on most people but kudos to Kurt for rockin' it!  I still can't seem to figure out how these high school kids with no jobs and blue collared parents can afford a $240 sweater.  Just saying...

Twilight Thoughts...


Last weekend, I watched Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 1 with my good friend, Katie.  This film was completely cheesy but pure entertainment.  And getting kinda hot and heavy... if ya know what I mean.  But whenever I finish watching the Twilight films, a sort of sadness comes over me, because the romantic, protective, loving and caring qualities that both Edward and Jacob portray in the films are exactly what I want in a guy myself! And I sometimes doubt that I'll ever find all of those traits combined in one person.   Being a realist that Katie is...quickly reminded me that, "It's just a movie!".  And a couple thoughts poured through my head as she said that... 

As much as I adore movies and completely emerge myself into the story and characters, I think it's sometimes unfair how films can often trick you into believing what you see on the screen is real life... instead of a made-up story from the behind the scenes' crew.  Will I ever meet a man who can act like a grownup, respect others, cook a meal, play the piano and do anything for his loved ones like Edward?  Maybe not... But that's what I want!  A man who is not afraid to be in touch with his feminine side but still be a man, and who can let go of their ego and pay attention to others' needs.  I try to convince myself and others that this character could really be out there in the real world... But I often receive negative comments, because reality is.. most men my age are not like this.

But, on second thought... why can't I be allowed to find and have everything that I want in a guy?  Is it so terrible to want the perfect partner?  I mean, these film characters had to be based off of somebody, right?  Well, anyway, I'll keep searching for that Mister Right, wherever he is... maybe in a theater, in an art studio, or in an animal shelter...or a dark green forest in Washington?  Hmm e-harmony here I come?  Yah, not too sure about that.  But it could be hard finding those sensitive qualities on my everyday streets of Southern California.  We'll see...

Also see post, My Fairytale Boyfriend.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Lentil Soup


This last Sunday I think I was having withdrawals from not being in the kitchen for 2 days.  And I've been wanting to make my own lentil soup forever so I finally gave it a go.  I used Giada de laurentiis' recipe as a base but turned it into my own with a few changes. This soup was hearty, filling and just what I needed on a cool evening.  And guess what... it taste even better the next day.

What You'll Need:

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 russet potatoes, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper (to your taste level)
2 pinches crushed red pepper
2 tbsp of tomato paste
1 pound lentils (approximately 1 1/4 cups)
11 cups low-salt chicken broth 
4 to 6 fresh thyme sprigs
2/3 cup dried elbow pasta
shredded Parmesan for sprinkling on top
Makes about 6 servings


Heat the oil in a heavy large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots, and celery. Add the garlic, salt, pepper and crushed red pepper and saute until all the vegetables are tender, about 5 to 8 minutes. Add in the tomato paste and mix.  Then, add the broth and stir. Throw in the thyme sprigs and rinsed lentils and bring to a boil over high heat. Cover and simmer over low heat until the lentils are almost tender, about 30 minutes. 


 While the lentils are softening in the broth, boil the potatoes in a small bowl.  Add the cooked potatoes and dried pasta into the broth.  Simmer until the pasta is tender but still firm to the bite, about 8 minutes. Add salt and pepper if needed. 

Ladle the soup into bowls. Sprinkle with the Parmesan and a sprig of thyme to look pretty, and serve!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Winter Favorites

I think it's so much more fun to dress for the colder seasons than the warmer.  Partly, because I love to layer, which you can't do as much for summer, and my absolute favorite thing to wear is a cozy oversized sweater and comfortable booties.  And I've done all of that in this particular outfit!
Pendleton, The Portland Collection Shorts, DV Pura Booties, Free People Rip Cropped Pullover
I'm trying to sophisticate my wardrobe a bit more for work, because it's easy to just throw on a pair of jeans when working in a casual retail office.  But I'm wanting to get out of that habit and dress more appropriately.  I mean, I work in retail for crying out loud.  I should dress like it then, right?  Well, when I wore this little number the other day to work, I got responses from my coworkers like, "Is it your birthday?!"  Ugh, maybe I needed to gradually ease into this sophistication transformation, instead.
With the Aztecan/Tribal theme from the shorts, I thought pairing it with Low Luv x Erin Wasson jewelry would go perfectly with this outfit.  I'm in love with Erin's collection.  It's elegant but edgy and always strikes up a conversation.

Friday, November 25, 2011

The Lazy Day After

Thanksgiving Dinner Plate

Many of you are brave enough to fight the crowds, traffic, parking spaces, and ridiculously long lines today for Black Friday, but I am having a post-Turkey Relaxation Day.  For starters, I slept in til 10:30am, took a scalding hot shower, and vegged on the couch watching wedding shows on TLC for a couple of hours.  For lunch, I reheated my aunt's eggplant parmigiana appetizer from yesterday and layered it on top of french bread that I drizzled with olive oil, parmigiano cheese and fresh ground pepper.  Oh, and had a glass of Cabernet!  

Yesterday was a lot of hard work, but worth every minute of it because everything turned out to be delicious!  We are so glad we decided to BBQ the turkey.  It was low maintenance (no basting involved) and it kept our oven free for all of our sides.  We stuffed our turkey with oranges, onions and apples which kept the bird nice and moist but super flavorful.  We rubbed the outside with lots of poultry seasoning, lemon pepper and 21 solute spices so the skin was extra crispy.  The gravy was better than ever this year because of the tang from the oranges that juiced to the bottom of the pan.  Yum.  Can't wait for leftovers!
 

The apple cider hung out in a crock pot all day that we filled with cinnamon sticks and orange slices pricked with cloves.  We kept our appetizers to a minimum this year because we always over-stuff ourselves and are in pain after the big feast.  So, besides the eggplant parm, we baked brie cheese with honey and pistachios and served it with granny smith apples and crackers.  Thank you, Ina Garten, for that recipe.  We have to make this every year now because it is such a hit.

Our sides consisted of the usual classics mashed potatoes, green casserole and cranberry/orange jello with crushed pineapples.  But we added a couple of new dishes to the menu this year that we might have to do again and again... twice baked sweet potatoes stuffed with cranberries, walnuts and cinnamon/sugar butter.  Sweet and creamy!  And instead of heavy rolls this year, we found a great recipe for cheese straws  from none other than... Ina Garten!  They are so easy to make and everyone kept going back for more... so light and fluffy and the crispy Gruy√®re cheese and specks of tyme make it decadent and incredibly tasty.  

The stuffing is always my favorite because we add so many things to it: granny smith apples, pecans, orange cranberries, onions, celery, chicken broth and spices.  We let it get extra crunchy in the oven and top it off with gravy.  Beyond good. We ended the night with a plethora of dessert: apple pie, pumpkin pie, frozen yogurt pumpkin pie and owl cookies.

These are the days that I don't want to ever end... laughing, eating, telling stories and playing games with the family = perfection in my book.  The only thing missing from this Holiday was a bit more family that wasn't able to join us.  But Christmas is right around the corner and almost all of us will be together for that one.  Enjoy the rest of this long weekend, talk soon!

Thursday, November 24, 2011

A Day to Give Thanks


The pies are baked, the cookies are cooled and the table is set.  Mom has put the bird on the Bar-B, so we now just have the sides to prepare.  The day is going very smoothly so far.  Oh, except, I never got to the gym... I can always go tomorrow, right?  Or the next day...  Anyway, I was more intrigued with watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade instead.  Seeing a sneak preview of The Newsies Musical got me super excited for this new NY Broadway musical coming out in March!  

Our Thanksgiving Table

So, my mom recently just told me a appalling yet hilarious family Thanksgiving story that happened years ago... I was too young to remember that this happened.  But we usually go to my aunt's for Thanksgiving Dinner and after we all ate her delicious meal that she had "slaved" over, she asks us, "So, what did you think of the dinner?"  We all said it was great, yummy, wonderful... Then she says "Well, good because it's actually the Ready Made Turkey Dinner from the grocery store!"  And before my family arrived at her house, she and my uncle were running around the house with the turkey in their arms trying to make the house smell like they had been cooking in it all day!  I think Grandma Madalene was flipping in her grave when she heard them reveal this almost sacrilegious stunt they pulled on this Holiday.  I'm going to have to ask my aunt her side of the story tonight and see why this particular year she wasn't able to do the usual homemade feast!  :)  Well, I've got lots to do, so enjoy the rest of your day!  Happy Thanks!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Turkey Day Countdown

We're just hours away from the Big Feast and have so much to do!  So I've created a timeline to help me stay organized and stress free.

Wednesday:
4pm: Make Cranberry/Orange Jello (check)


5pm: Bake Pumpkin Pies
7pm: Bake Owl Cookies
8pm: Make Thanksgiving Table Center Pieces

Thursday:
9am: Hit the Gym (did you know the avg. American eats about 4,000 cal. on this Holiday?!)
10:30am: Set the Table
11am: Prep the Bird
12pm: Put the Bird on the Bar-B
1:30pm: Prep the Stuffing
2:30pm: Make the Cider
3pm: Bake Brie Cheese/Cranberry Appetizer
3:30pm: Guests Arrive / Take out Appetizers (also my aunt's eggplant parmigiana)/Open Wine
4pm: Make Mash Potatoes
4:30pm: Take out the Bird / Bake the Stuffing, my sister's Yams and Green Bean Casserole, and Bread Stix
5pm: Make the Gravy / Carve the Bird / Bring out the Sides
5:15pm: Eat!
7pm: Put out Desserts (pies, cake, and cookies)
7:30pm: Take a Stroll around the Neighborhood
8pm: Eat Some More!  (Dessert) / Pop open Champagne
12am: Eat Even More...Go for Leftovers!

My day will be packed and I'm sure yours will be too, so remember to keep calm, really enjoy the day and if you're guests have to wait a bit, it won't kill them.  Just make sure there are appetizers but not too many so they won't be overstuffed before the big meal.  Have a glass of wine and eat lots!

Thankful

It's almost here... the day of Thankfulness. This Holiday is my absolute favorite because it involves two of my most favorite things:  Food and Family!  And I'm extremely grateful and thankful to have a lot of both in my life.  I sometimes get distracted with all the prepping, cleaning and cooking that goes along with this Holiday and forget to think about the meaning of this day.  So I've put together a little list of things I'm especially thankful for this year:


My kitties, who give me the most joy when I come home from a long day of work
A cozy fireplace to keep me warm on these colder nights
My Family, who never stop believing in me
Grandma Madalene for coming into my life and giving me such inspiration everyday 
My closest friends, who accept my quirkiness
Old family photos and stories that constantly remind me where I've come from
Hot dinners to come home to after work
Holiday music to help me stay cheery and forget about California traffic
Streets lined with red and yellow leafy trees that help our state feel like we actually have more than 2 seasons
And last but not least... the utmost support I receive from my most avid blog followers who help me strive to continue to keep doing what I love and to share it with you!

Later tonight... I'll post my Turkey Countdown Timeline for the Big Day.

Happy Pre-Thanksgiving Day!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Turkey Napkin Holders


Ever since I got the Cricut for Christmas last year, it has really encouraged me to get back into crafts.  This machine makes crafting and scrapbooking so much easier and faster.  At first I thought this gadget would limit my creativity because it makes the shapes, characters, and objects for you.  So, when I couldn't find a good turkey in any of my holiday themed cartridges, I decided that this was now a great opportunity to make my own Modern Turkey Napkin Holders by just using the gadget to help me cut out circles, bird feet and beaks.  And they turned out great!  They will look so festive on my Thanksgiving table this Thursday. 


I found some Fall colored scrapbooking paper at my local craft store that I thought would be perfect for this project.  This kind of paper is thicker and will hold up better than your average paper.  I used my Cricut to cut out 2 1/2 in., 2 in., and 1 in. circles, bird feet and beaks for the shapes that make up the turkeys.  If you're great with scissors, by all mean, give that a go, but I'm not too precise with the blades so I stick to a machine that can do it for me perfectly and in a few seconds.  I did, however, have to cut out my own "gobblers" because the Cricut didn't have the option to do that.  Find some fun googly eyes to give your turkeys life.  

With a hole puncher, punch out two holes in the center of the biggest 2 1/2 in. circle for the ribbon to feed through.  Dab the edges of all the circles with dark brown Chalk (ink sponge) to give the bird more pop and definition.


Find some festive ribbon and feed it through the holes.  If you want to be able to tie a bow around the napkin, cut the ribbon 16 in. long.  If just a plain soft knot, 10 in. should do.  It's now time to layer the turkey.  Instead of using glue, use 3D double sided tape squares to give the turkey depth and shadow.  Place one on the bottom layer.  Then put your second circle down and then place another tape on top of that layer.  

Glue the beak, "gobbler" and eyes on the smallest circle and place on top of the tape from the second layer.  Finish it off with gluing on the feet.  Let it dry for 30 mins. before tying it around your napkin and you've got yourself a napkin holder for Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Frozen Yogurt Pumpkin Pie


I'm not much of a Pumpkin Pie eater.  But I'll eat anything that is infused with a bit of pumpkin in it, which is what I did with this "Summer" pie over the weekend.  Living in California makes it easier to take Summer dishes and put a Fall twist on it without it being out of season.  This is going to be a smart pie for Thanksgiving, because not only does it still have all the pumpkin pie flavoring, it's light and refreshing... a dessert I could definitely clean off my plate after eating such a ginormous filling dinner. Oh, and the best part... you can make it days before the big feast to lessen your load and stress since it's kept in the freezer before serving.

All this Thanksgiving dessert talk conjured up a story from my mom and aunt.  Madalene's daughter, Josephine (my grandma) was notorious for always sneaking in the first slice of cake from the kitchen before it was ready to be served!  My mom and her siblings would often find their dessert with a big hole in it and knew exactly who the suspect was.  So in honor of my Grandma Jo, who passed away near Thanksgiving Day when I was 8 years old, I'll make sure to eat the first slice this Thursday.

What you'll need: 

1 can of pumpkin puree
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 cup ginger snap crumbs
6 tbsp of melted butter
1 tub (8oz) cool whip lite
2 (6oz) vanilla yogurt
1 tsp of cinnamon
1/2 tsp of ginger
pinch of nutmeg
pinch of clove


In a small bowl, combine the graham cracker and ginger snap crumbs with the melted butter.  Press the crust firmly into a pie dish, allowing the crust to form walls along the sides of the dish.  Set aside.  In a large bowl, mix together the pumpkin puree and spices.  Add in the yogurt and mix well until smooth.  Fold in the cool whip until everything is evenly incorporated and spoon over the crust.  With a spatula smooth out the filling and put the pie into the freezer for 4 hours, uncovered.  Take out 15 mins before serving.  Keep leftovers in the freezer.

I can't wait to introduce this nontraditional dessert to our Thanksgiving table this year.  And, of course, we'll also be having apple pie, owl cookies, pumpkin pie and cake!  It wouldn't be Thanksgiving without having way too many desserts, right?  I'm so thankful for food!

Friday, November 18, 2011

The "Weekender"

I seemed to have turned into the Weekender, because as soon as the weekend approaches I turn into this cooking maniac.  This is mostly due to my new blog, but I also can't seem to find time during the week to get anything productively done except work.  So I have made it my mission to get in the kitchen with my mom and sister on the weekends and cook/bake up a storm.  The Holidays definitely encourage us to do this more often, so I hope I can keep this up after January!   

But I also try to keep busy during the weekends because during the week all I want to do when I get home is veg on the couch and watch television galore.  I recently found out that Madalene loathed TV!  She thought it was a waste of time and that we all could be doing better things with ourselves than being sucked into such nonsense.  Her words, not mine.  And for the most part I think she's right, but there will never be a time where I watch no TV.  So, on the weekends, I try my best to listen to her and keep my TV time to a minimum by staying active and creative in the kitchen.  This also helps me stay connected to her and my mom.  We've been having a blast in there and I'm learning soo much about my family, their past and how to keep all our traditions alive for the future.

Grandma Madalene

So, the agenda for this weekend entails Frozen Yogurt Pumpkin Pie and gosh knows what else... probably just a lot of prepping for Thanksgiving Dinner!  We're going to brine and BBQ our Turkey this year.  Have a lovely weekend, All, and I'll share my cooking adventures with you next week!  Ciao.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

A Colorful Thanksgiving


A fun way to brighten up your Thanksgiving table is to put your flowers in a pumpkin instead of a vase!  It adds such a personal touch and makes all the women in the family go crazy.  ;)  Be creative and impress your guests! 


Purchase a small baking pumpkin from the store and cut out the top in a round circle.  Gut out the pumpkin.  The cleaner (no goop) the inside, the longer the arrangement will last and not spoil as quickly from the moisture.  I picked out my flowers from Trader Joe's, of course, because they have some great Autumn arrangements right now that I thought would be perfect for this piece.  You could almost do 2 bunches per pumpkin.  The fuller the arrangement the better it looks.  Stick a cup full of water into the pumpkin and cut your flowers short so they don't topple out.  You could even use oasis (green sponge-like thing) instead of a cup.  This will help the flowers stay in place.  Have fun!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Italian French Toast


It isn't officially the Holidays until we have a loaf of Panettone bread sitting in our kitchen.  And a few days ago, my mom and I picked some up at our favorite Italian Deli, Claro's, which I used to call when I was little, "The Smelly-Good Store", because I could never remember the name.  And it really is the best smelling store you will ever visit.  As soon as you open its door, you get a huge whiff of anise, garlic, homemade marinara sauce and cookies!  *Sigh*  I wish my house could smell like this all the time!  Well, as we're paying for the bread, the cashier gal mentions to us that Panettone makes the best French Toast.  I couldn't believe what I was hearing... why had I never thought of this before?  So, for brunch my mom and I decided to give it a try!  And, boy, was that a delicious decision we made... rich, sweet, and crispy on the edges but soft in the middle.  And the best part... the warm bites of fruit that are nestled in the bread.  A perfect meal for the holidays!  Just one thing missing... our beautiful Italian Grandma Madalene.

What you'll need: 2 servings

2 eggs
1/3 cup of milk
pinch of cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg
1 tsp of vanilla
2 tbsp of Grand Marnier
4 slices of Panettone bread


Mix all the ingredients together in a pie dish, dip the bread into the mixture quickly (to avoid sogginess) and cook 'em up in a oiled filled pan (1/2 inch deep of oil) on medium heat.  Flip them over when they're brown.  When they're brown on the other side, you'll all done.  Easy-peasy.


We like to pretend we're cooking on the streets of Italy...

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Holidays with a Pop


I can't seem to get away from the pumpkin pie spices this season.  And yet again, I've put them in another dish!  This time I sprinkled them on top of my air popped popcorn.  My family has this ancient air popcorn popper that we've been using for as long as I can remember.  My dad can't cook but he takes pride in making the popcorn.  He plugs in the popper, pours in the kernels and juggles our three little bowls under the machine perfectly as the popper spews out the fresh white puffs of deliciousness!  Now, melting the butter in the microwave seems to be a bit more challenging for him...  But, hey, this snack wouldn't be the same without my Pop popping it!

What you'll need:
Kernels
Melted Butter
Pinch of Ginger
Pinch of Cloves
Pinch of Cinnamon

So I tossed the popped kernels with lite butter and then threw a few pinches of cinnamon, cloves and ginger on them and had my own little holiday party by the fire!  A flavorful way to end my evening...

Monday, November 14, 2011

Guaca-Holy-Mole


On Saturday, the girls and I had a Twilight Marathon to refresh our memories before Breaking Dawn starts next week.  I know... and no, by all means are these movies good.  But deep down we all want to have a vampire or werewolf in our life, right?  Well, anyway, I volunteered to make the Guac for our mini party and it was a hit!  In fact, we finished it off with chips and didn't save any for our tacos.  Next time, I'll use 5 avocados instead of 3!  This dip is super simple but has a key ingredient that most people don't use when making their guac.  Get ready for it... LEMON PEPPER!  I'm telling you, this spice makes such a difference.  I get the one that already has salt in it, so I usually don't like to add more salt to the dip, especially if I'm going to eat it with salty chips!  But give this a try.  I bet you'll like it so much that you'll forget to save some for your tacos, too!

What you'll need:
3 Avocados
2 Limes
1/4 cup Chunky Salsa
Big Splash of Lemon Pepper

Mash up the avocados with a fork in a small bowl.  Squeeze the juice from the limes and throw into the bowl.  Mix together until the juice is absorbed into the avocados.  Add the salsa and lemon pepper, mix again and you're done.  So easy, right?  Oh, and leave the avocado pits in the dip!  It helps the avocados stay green if you happen to have any leftovers.  The lime juice helps its color stay, too!

Friday, November 11, 2011

And the Oscar Goes to...


...BILLY CRYSTAL!

The moment I've been waiting for... for 7 years!  Billy Crystal has finally announced his return to the stage to host the 2012 Academy Awards!  Off and on from 1990 - 2004 he hosted 8 times, and there is a reason for it.  Nobody can top his style... brilliant humor, unique approach to infusing himself into the movies being nominated and his songs.  The audience always adores him and so do I!  He is the best host there ever was and ever will be. Yes, he even tops Hugh Jackman... but just barely!  Billy took a break from hosting because he says it's exhausting.  It takes him months to prepare his fabulous performance and I couldn't be happier that he has decided to do this again.  I can't wait to see his famous opening number.  To grasp what I'm talking about, watch the 2004 clip below and you'll understand my Awe for Billy.



Thursday, November 10, 2011

Hootin' Around

Can you find the Watchful one?
When my mom was about 12 years old she used to walk to the grocery store with her good friend and look on the back of flour or sugar bags for the latest Pillsbury Cookbook subscription.  They would write down the address, tape 20 cents to an envelope and mail their subscription off.  Back then, getting mail was a huge deal, especially for a young girl and she couldn't be more excited when she got Volume II of The Pillsbury's Best Butter Cookie Cookbook.  She and her friend would whip up the recipes listed in this book and one that she has made over and over again is the Owl Cookie Recipe.  It was a hit 50 years ago and continues to be one of our family's favorite cookies to eat every Fall.  So when we decided to make them last weekend, my mom brought down from the cupboard a plastic bag that was holding together her now loosely paged cookbook from when she was a girl.  No, it's not a family recipe but these little owls have created a lot of memories over the years and have encouraged us to tell old stories and make new ones to tell years down the road.  So, today I share with you the recipe that I look forward to making with my mom every November.

Ingredients:
2 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 squares unsweetened chocolate
1/4 tsp. baking soda
chocolate chips for the eyes
cashews for the noses

The Steps:
Cream the butter and brown sugar together.  Add the unbeaten egg and vanilla and beat well.  Blend in the sifted dry ingredients gradually (flour, baking powder and salt).

Melt the chocolate in the microwave (melting instructions are on the chocolate box).  Add the baking soda to the melted chocolate and mix together.  Remove 2/3 of the dough to a floured surface.  Blend the chocolate mixture into the remaining 1/3 dough.

Roll out half of the light dough into a 10 x 4 in. strip (roughly, as you can see mine is a lot longer than that).  Shape half of the dark dough into a roll 10 in. long.  Place on the strip of light dough and mold sides of the light dough around the dark dough.  Repeat with the remaining dough.  Wrap both rolls with foil and chill for 2 hours.  Cut 1/4 in. thick slices from the log and place 2 slices together on a parchment paper lined baking sheet.

Pinch a corner of each slice to form owl ears.  Place chocolate chips in the dark dough for eyes and press a whole cashew nut between the slices for the beak.  Bake in a 350 degrees over for about 8 - 12 mins.  They should be slightly brown on the edges.  Then you know they're done!

The original book.
Give these a try and let the kids make the finishing owl touches with the eyes and beaks.  That's always been my favorite part!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Pumpkinize Your Bagel


Spice up your everyday bagel and cream cheese with a pumpkin flare!  This is like putting a slice of pumpkin pie right on top of your bagel.  I slathered it on top of an "everything" flavored bagel.  But this would be soo tasty on a raisin cinnamon bagel.  So good and such a great change from your typical plain cream cheese.

A bagel story from my childhood... I was not your average kid.  I was extremely picky.  And I didn't like regular sandwiches like most kids did for school lunches.  My mom would try to get me to eat peanut butter and jelly... nope, ham...No, turkey...NO WAY!  So one day when I was around 6 years old, my mom put in front of me a plain bagel with cream cheese.  I had an epiphany... to me this was the most heavily thing I had ever eaten and from then on I had either a plain, blueberry or onion bagel sandwich with cream cheese in my lunch every single day of school from kindergarten to 12th grade.  Call me a creature of habit... I'm a gal who knows what she likes and sticks with it!   

But, I've come a long way since then and can now eat other sandwiches.  But bagels will always be close to my heart.  :)

What you'll need:
1/4 cup of pumpkin puree
4 oz of cream cheese
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp of ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp of ground clove

With your electric mixer or extremely speedy wrist and whisk, whip up the pumpkin puree and cream cheese until well blended.  Add your spices and whip again until evenly incorporated.  And that's it!  Ridiculously easy and fast.

I recently just bought some ginger snap cookies and can't wait to put this spread in between two of those.  Yum!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Chocolatini


I love warming up to a delicious chocolatey drink, especially if it has alcohol in it!  My sister and I got inspired by a drink called Samoa Cookie Martini back in Washington DC.  So this last weekend, we decided to try making it ourselves.  Although we had slightly different ingredients, it came out pretty much the same... completely to die for!

What you'll need per drink:
1 jigger of Bailey's Irish Cream
1 jigger of Vanilla Vodka
1 jigger of Malibu Coconut Rum
Caramel
Chocolate Syrup
Toasted Coconut Shavings


To start, make your martini glass look pretty by dipping the rim of the glass in caramel and then the coconut shavings.  Then line the inside of the glass with a swirl of the chocolate syrup.

In a cocktail shaker, mix up your three liquids and some ice and poor into your prepped martini glass and you've got yourself an adult chilled "hot cocoa" that will warm you right up!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Rain, Rain, Come Again


Living in Southern California, you wonder if it's really worth it to buy a pair of rainboots.  But after this last weekend, I'm happy to say that my Tretorn rainboots purchase was a smart one.  I got great use out of them on Friday and Sunday.  And can't wait to wear them next weekend when it rains again!  They go with everything, and this time I've paired them up with my neon heart socks from Target and my teal tights by Falke.

 I love the rain... especially back in middle school, because it would get me out of running the mile that day.  Yes, I was that kid who hid behind the bleachers every other lap because I despised running and still do.  My friend, Katie, always jokes with me, "If I was in front of you during the mile, I knew that I was okay".  Brat... j/k, Katie!  I was usually second to last...

But I still love it even now... when I'm at home it encourages me to do cozy things like sleeping in, starting a fire, making chocolate martinis, baking potpies and whipping up some broccoli cheese soup ... all things I did over the weekend.  Nothing better than having a low key weekend with lots of warm food and family.  Pure happiness...

Friday, November 4, 2011

Cozy Night

Tonight I'm going to take it easy because this week was totally not in my favor...  I'm ready to put the last five days behind me by eating some delicious pizza from Sir Pizza 'N Chicken, having a glass of red wine, startin' up a cozy fire and watching a fun movie on this chilly rainy night.  


The agenda for this weekend is to pig out.  I'll be making some yummy pumpkin parfaits and my favorite owl cookies to get me into the Fall Spirit.  It's supposed to rain again on Sunday, so it will be a perfect day to stay in and make festive food!  I'll also be visiting the Santa Anita Food Truck Festival tomorrow Sat. Nov 5th 11am-5pm.  Guess what I'll be eating there... Mac and Cheese Grilled Cheese Sandwich from The Grilled Cheese Truck, of course.  See you there!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

A Corsage Made with Love

Instead of buying a $20 + corsage for just a couple of hours on Halloween for my 80's prom costume, my mother decided to teach me how to make one from scratch and at half the cost!  In her young twenties, my mother worked as a florist and her main task was to make corsages, and in peak dance seasons, she made hundreds!  Even though it's been years since she last designed one, it came right back to her like riding a bike.  And young Ladies out there... Winter Formal is coming up, so this is a great way to save some extra cash and have a fun afternoon with Mom.

What you'll need:
Fresh Flowers with the stems cut off
6 inch Floral Wire, 2 strands per Flower
Floral Tape
Ribbon

Step 1:
Per flower, poke 2 wires in the stem in opposite directions

Step 2:
Fold down the wires so that they are parallel with the flower, acting as its new stem.

Step 3:
With the floral tape, wrap it around the base of the flower and wire.

Step 4:
Arrange your flowers.  Have a couple facing one way and the rest facing the other way.  Once arranged bind them together with the floral tape.  Since the wires are all now in different directions, fold them back so that they are all facing the same direction.

Step 5:
Create a bow with your ribbon and tie it around the middle of the piece.  Leave the ends long enough to tie around the wrist.  Bind the wires together with floral tape and trim off the access.

Step 6:
Fold in the wire to avoid getting tetanus at the event!  ;)  For a more secure fit, you could tie another ribbon at the end of the piece so you'll have 2 ribbons wrapped around the wrist to avoid flopping.  If making the corsage the night before, spray the flowers with water, put in a plastic bag and stick it in the fridge.  This helps keep the corsage looking fresh for the next day's dance/event.

Step 7:
Tie the excess ribbon around the wrist and Ta-Da, you got yourself a pretty accessory for a fancy night.  Keep in mind the one shown here was given an 80's flare.  Just update your flowers and ribbon for a more modern look!