Cream cheese stuffed strawberries (lovingly dipped in graham crackers) – perfection.

Standard

I’m still on a cream cheese and strawberry kick this week and Dan isn’t complaining a bit. I made cream cheese stuffed strawberries (dipped in graham crackers and sprinkled with chocolate shavings) and they were all gone within five minutes. I ate two. Dan ate – and I kid you not – fifteen. In five minutes.

IMG_5843

That has to be a record. By the time I got comfortable on the couch there were only three left. Only men get this kind of freedom without seeing it add on to their weight a mere hour later. Luckily he saved me from that by eating them!

Cream cheese stuffed strawberries.

Cream Cheese Stuffed Strawberries

Ingredients:

One (small) package of strawberries

8 oz. cream cheese (low fat if it makes you feel better, like it did me).

3/4 cup powdered sugar.

2 oz. honey graham crackers (3 whole crackers)

Chocolate (for shavings).

Mix cream cheese and sugar until fully blended.

Cut ends of strawberries so that they can balance upright without falling.

IMG_5827

Remove leaves.

Hollow out strawberries – try to avoid cutting straight through and creating a hole.

IMG_5829

Fill strawberries with about 1/2 a tsp of cream cheese.

IMG_5832

Dip strawberries in graham cracker crumbs.

IMG_5836

Top strawberries with chocolate shavings.

IMG_5841

Mini strawberry chocolate cheesecake bites.

Standard

Chocolate, graham crackers, fresh strawberries, and cream cheese.

Need I say more?

Dan ate 11 – yes, 11 – in one sitting.

Maybe I shouldn’t have made them so deceivingly small…..

Mini Strawberry Chocolate Cheesecake Bites

Crust:

2 oz. graham crackers (3 full sized ones), crushed.

2 tbsp butter, softened.

2 tbsp white granulated sugar.

 

Filling:

8 oz. cream cheese (room temperature).

1 egg.

¼ cup white granulated sugar.

1 tsp vanilla.

9 dove chocolates.

8 small, fresh strawberries.

 

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Blend together graham crackers, butter, and sugar by hand.

IMG_5775

Fill mini cupcake liners with a tsp of the graham cracker crust.

IMG_5777

Bake for 5 minutes, then set aside.

Mix cream cheese, egg, sugar, and vanilla until fluffy – be sure that no lumps remain.

IMG_5782

Place ½ of a dove chocolate in each cupcake liner. I cut mine into strips to distribute the chocolate evenly, but it’s not necessary.

IMG_5781

Top chocolate with about 1 tsp of the cream cheese mixture, filling the liner to the brim.

IMG_5785

Bake for 10 minutes.

Top with a slice of strawberry and chocolate shavings.

IMG_5800

Chill in refrigerator until ready to serve.

 

Additional Information: This recipe makes about 16 mini cheesecake bites. Baking times and serving size will change depending on the size of cupcake liners you use. Because I used the smallest ones, they baked much faster.

DIY milk bottle – 2 easy steps.

Standard

I felt like being a little creative this afternoon, especially with the weather being so beautiful today. Here’s a quick tip that you might find useful for those baby and/or bridal showers that seem to start happening as soon as it gets warm outside!

Title

Step

Step one

Step two

Remove that label and you’re done! 🙂

IMG_5809

Of course, I couldn’t resist but eating a few of the cookies.

IMG_5818

Gorgonzola garlic butter – even better than it sounds.

Standard

This evening, before the downpour began, I had a serious craving for some steak. I have to be completely honest with you, I’ve never been that great at steak, but this one turned out pretty phenomenal. Maybe it had something to do with the Gorgonzola garlic butter I whipped up while waiting for the potatoes to boil. Maybe it was all that butter I used in general. Either way, here’s a recipe for a quick fix that will make your meal taste that much better.

Gorgonzola Garlic Butter.

Title - Gorgonzola Garlic Butter

Ingredients:

3 garlic cloves.

3/4 cup crumbled Gorgonzola.

1/2 cup unsalted butter (room temperature).

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Peel garlic cloves and wrap in aluminum foil.

Bake for 10 minutes.

Blend Gorgonzola, butter, and baked garlic cloves (should be mushy now) together.

Chill in refrigerator for at least 10 minutes, preferably 30. I only waited about 15.

Add a dollop of the Gorgonzola garlic butter on top of a steak while it’s still hot.

Meal

Suggestions: I served this on grilled filet mignon (unseasoned), with mushrooms sauteed in garlic butter and garlic mashed potatoes. It sounds like a lot of garlic, but I swear it’s amazing!

Mushrooms

Steak and Mushrooms

Pizza Smothered Chicken.

Standard

I love pizza. I could eat pizza every day. In fact, a couple of weeks ago I did eat pizza every day. Dan and I ordered $67 worth of Pizza Hut in one day. For a moment there, I felt like I may not be able to, in fact, sustain my love for it, but the feeling of disgust quickly faded. Now I’m back to needing it in my life once again.

 Here’s a little different take on chicken that somehow managed to satisfy my craving for pizza, and finally added a little variety to my week.

Pizza smothered chicken.

Pizza Smothered Chicken

Ingredients:

Olive oil (for frying).

Fresh mozzarella cheese (about 3 ounces).

¾ cup pizza sauce.

1 cup mushrooms.

1 garlic clove.

1 tbs butter.

½ of 1 tomato (on the vine type preferred).

3 small boneless chicken breasts, about ½ lb total.

1 egg.

½ cup panko breadcrumbs.

½ cup parmesan cheese + 1 tsp for topping.

2 tablespoons Italian seasoning.

1 tablespoon basil.

Heat up olive oil in frying pan on low-medium heat.

Mix breadcrumbs, ½ cup parmesan cheese, Italian seasoning, and basil in small bowl.

Stir egg in separate bowl to combine yolk and white.

Dip chicken breasts in egg and then in the breadcrumb mixture.

Fry for ten minutes or until cooked through, flipping breasts every 2 minutes or so.

IMG_5732

In the meantime, sauté mushrooms in garlic and butter for about 4-5 minutes, until softened. Set aside.

IMG_5731

Turn oven (or toaster oven, my preference) on broil.

Top each chicken breast with a slice of fresh mozzarella, about 1 ounce. I use the big mozzarella balls sold in the cheese section of grocery stores.

IMG_5733

Put in oven for 4-5 minutes, only until cheese softens and melts over the chicken.

Top with 1/4 cup pizza sauce (warmed will taste better), tomato (cubed or sliced), mushroom, fresh basil, and mozzarella cheese.

IMG_5743

Enjoy.

How to say goodbye to old stuff without it breaking your heart.

Standard

title revised

This week I decided to do something I very rarely do  – sort through my closet and drawers, actually fold my clean laundry, and – gasp – look through my shoe closet.

This should confirm two things for you – yes, I have a shoe closet, which is ultimately very unnecessary but keeps the mess at bay – and, of course, I own a bunch of crap I didn’t even know I had. Stuff with tags on it that other people would love and cherish, but that I, instead, leave abandoned on the closet floor without even so much as a loving fold.

Here’s my advice to just let some things go. In this case, primarily clothes.

Set a new goal for yourself.

This was the one thing driving me to bother going through any of my stuff in general. My goals were to 1) figure out what staples I’m missing in my closet and 2) see if I can make any money to buy myself these things.

Ask yourself – could someone else use this item as much as it should be used?

Whether its clothes, shoes, or an old computer, maybe there is someone in need – or someone willing to buy this from you – that could give it the attention it deserves.

After rifling through my closet for half a day, I found an old macbook pro that died on me. Yes, in my closet.

Guess what? People use computers for parts. People use lots of things for parts. People buy lots of used things for lots of weird reasons that you haven’t even thought of it. Give it to those people.

Ask yourself – have I worn this in the last year?

At least ¼ of my stuff I hadn’t touched in a year. I bet you can the say the same. The key here is to figure out why.

–          Is it because it has sentimental value?

–          Is it because it doesn’t fit anymore?

–          Is it because you don’t like it?

–          Is it because there are more holes than fabric?

There are a few conclusions I came to:

It has sentimental value.

If it has sentimental value, put it in a box and put it in storage. There were some things I was given from my family and significant other that I just hated to let go. I bought clear, plastic boxes from Target, folded them neatly and put them in the back of the closet.

With that being said, consider the sentimental value. What value does it bring to you? How likely are you to show it to someone else – i.e. your children, future children, future significant other, or spouse? If you put it in this box fully knowing that you will never look at it again, what’s the point of keeping it?

Box

It doesn’t fit me.

I have to admit, there are a few things I kept that just don’t fit me anymore – however they were all brand new, with tags attached, and the cost of them was just too high to donate to charity. I also have this dream of one day fitting into them, of course, which I swear I will!! However, let’s be reasonable here. The sizes I kept were just a few inches off – just ½ size bigger, and they would still fit. Anything I couldn’t even get past my thighs or my shoulders I tossed aside.

There are two great options for those items – especially if they are new, like mine were: donate them to charity, or try to sell them. I urge you to do either, especially considering someone else could get better use of them. On the one hand, part of my goal was to earn some money to buy new clothes. Doesn’t that sound like a pretty sweet idea? Take the clothes you never wear, don’t fit you, and that you probably didn’t even know you had, sell them, and take those proceeds and buy yourself something nice that fits.

I used Ebay to sell some of my higher priced, new items that I chose not to donate. There are other ways, too, like holding a yard sale or putting them up on Craigslist, but my house is pretty secluded and they sold on Ebay before I even thought of putting them up on Craigslist.

Finally, my last suggestion for really important items would be to see if you can get it altered. Isn’t it worth the few dollars to have it fit you than to wait around for you to lose or gain twenty pounds?

Clothes
I don’t like it that much.

Then sell it or donate it. Someone else will love it. Why waste space in your closet for something you refuse to wear? Even if it was given to you from someone close to you, they will most likely never ask you about it again. Plus, if they were going to buy you clothes, they should have known enough about you before picking something out that you need to represent yourself with. It’s not your fault it’s not the right fit. They will understand, and even more likely, they won’t remember buying it in the first place.

I love it so much but there’s a hole in it.

I can’t say this with enough emphasis. Fix it or trash it. There’s nothing attractive about dirty or ripped clothes and shoes. I found this to be the case with all of my shoes. I was holding on to them because I loved them, but they were so dirty and ugly I was too embarrassed to wear them. Declutter your life, do yourself a favor, and just let them go. If it is an especially important piece of clothing, see if you can get it fixed – or learn to do it yourself.

Conclusion?

I donated three trash bags full of clothes, threw out 8 pairs of shoes, and sold five pieces of clothing on Ebay. I also listed an old laptop, untouched iPod (a new Apple product comes out every month, or so it seems- by the time I got around to loading my iPod up with stuff I already owned an iPhone that was capable of holding the same amount of music), and a digital SLR camera that kept erroring out on me until I abandoned it under the bed. I already have bids on all three of these items.

Guess what? Someone, somewhere really wants my broken crap. And now that I have some extra cash…. Well, nothing cures a broken heart quite as much as buying a new pair of stilettos.

Garlic and Parmesan Crushed Potatoes

Standard

Sorry for my lack of posts the last few days. I got stuck with a flat tire at 10pm at night in the middle of the ghetto and, ever since, life has been hard without a car- even if only for a couple of days. I am here to tell urge you to buy something incredibly essential – an AAA membership. I can‘t believe I let myself be the fool without it during an emergency!

Anyway, now that things are back to normal, there are very few things better in the world better than potatoes. Mashed, smashed, baked, grilled – they taste amazing every which way.

If you are cooking for a man in your home, you know how much they enjoy their side dishes, and mine especially loves his potatoes. This dish is perfect for you, but your man will love them even more.

I hope you –and him – enjoy this potato recipe as much as we do.

Garlic and Parmesan Crushed Potatoes.

Title

Ingredients:

15 small, red potatoes.

Olive oil spray.

1/2 cup olive oil.

1 tsp Italian seasoning.

1/4 tsp dried basil.

2 garlic cloves, diced or crushed.

Salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes to taste.

2 tbsp fresh Parmesan cheese.

Boil small, red potatoes for 10 minutes or until soft.

In the meantime, preheat oven to 400 degrees, spray baking sheet with olive oil spray, and dice or crush the garlic. I use my small Ninja whenever I need something crushed.

In a small bowl, mix olive oil, Italian seasoning, and garlic.

IMG_5725

Once cooked, drain potatoes and place evenly on baking sheet, about 4-5 inches apart depending on your sheet.

Using a potato masher, press down on the potatoes so that they are flattened, but not so much that they are not in one piece anymore.

IMG_5727

Using a brush, generously coat the potatoes with the olive oil mixture.

Sprinkle salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes over the potatoes lightly, or to your preference.

Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. I like to bake mine until they the garlic has browned and the potatoes are just a little crispy. You can also choose to warm them up a bit and removing them sooner, or, on the other hand, bake longer them until they are really crispy. Up to you.

Once done, sprinkle with fresh Parmesan cheese and serve.

IMG_5737

To mix things up a bit, in the past I have omitted the Italian seasoning and Parmesan, and instead topped the potatoes with bacon, chives, shredded cheddar cheese, and sour cream. I will be sure to post the altered recipe the next time I make them.

Five Minute Tomato and Basil Bruschetta Appetizer.

Standard

Eat Pray Love has ignited the joy of cooking in me this evening! Later this week, I’ll be sure to cook something fabulous, but tonight I’m thinking light and quick.

Collage draft

Tomato and Basil Bruschetta Appetizer.

Prep time: 3 minutes.

Cook time: 2 minutes.

Basil- tranquil

Ingredients:

1 tomato, chopped.

6 fresh, large basil leaves, chopped.

1 ounce fresh mozzarella, chopped.

2 tbsp balsamic vinaigrette.

2 tsp fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano (not pictured).

10 pieces of a french baguette.

Ingredients- tranquil

Set toaster oven on “toast” setting – or, alternatively, the bread can be grilled as well.

Toss tomato, basil, mozzarella, and balsamic vinaigrette in small bowl.

Place french baguette pieces in oven, toast for 2 minutes or until crispy.

Place about 1 tsp of earlier mix onto each piece of bread.

Cover each with a dash of Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Serve and enjoy.

  Bruschetta - tranquil

I found the needle in the haystack, and it has stripes.

Standard

Shoedazzle

Source: shoedazzle.com

I found the most fabulous shoes while perusing shoedazzle.com this evening, and I just had to have them. As soon as they come in, I’ll be sure to let you know my review.

Here’s the best part: If you sign up for shoedazzle, you get free shipping and 25% off of your first item for two days.

Total price: $29.96 including shipping.

Having the best pair of shoes in the office? Priceless.

I even happened to stumble upon whatiwore, and the author couldn’t have figured out a better outfit for these shoes.

There’s something magical about finding that pair of shoes, isn’t there? Like love at first sight, only without the possibility of having it end. Let the love affair begin <3.

A 5 Minute Maple Sugar Granola & Raspberry Parfait and a Comedy

Standard

I couldn’t decide what I wanted to do more this Saturday night, make an elaborate dessert or lounge on the couch in my pjs. Both sounded equally appealing. Then I thought to myself- why can’t I do both?

I put Bridesmaids in – what a funny movie – and got to work.

…..Five minutes later I was done.

And the best part? The previews hadn’t even finished.

Maple Sugar Granola & Raspberry Parfait

Maple Sugar Granola & Raspberry Parfait

Prep time: 5 minutes.

Serves: 2

Ingredients

2 cups Greek yogurt – vanilla or other preferred flavor.

1 cup maple sugar granola

1 cup raspberries

Step one: Fill dessert glass with 1/2 cup of Greek yogurt.

Step One

Step two: Sprinkle about 1/4 cup maple sugar granola (found in the nut section of your local grocery store).

Step Two

Step three: Cover granola with 1/2 cup of Greek yogurt.

Step Three

Step four: Top with 1/2 cup of raspberries and sprinkle another 1/4 cup granola on top as garnish.

Final product

Step five: Repeat above steps in second dessert glass.

Parfait - FINAL

Note: Different kinds of granola, yogurt, and fruit can be substituted as desired. I also recommend adding some grated chocolate on top 🙂