Saturday, December 31, 2011

Welcoming Martha to Casa de Tina

I just HAD to share my bargain purchase with you! Who knew Martha Stewart had DVDs?! Not me! I was so excited I wanted to scream! (I think I did)

I know what I'm doing tomorrow! :)


Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Trying to Cook Away a Cold

Most people spend their after Christmas days shopping - I am so jealous of Tina's new planner and all of the other fab things she got at the after Christmas sales -I however, spend my after Christmas time trying to get over a cold almost every year.  I Purell, Zicam, and Airborne it up, but it doesn't seem to help - the only reason I can think of is that my husband wants to keep me from filling up our house with discounted holiday goods and secretly has every sick little kid lick my toothbrush in an effort to keep me away from the after holiday sales.  But I digress..

To start to kick this silly cold, I first whipped up a variation of my mom's lemon and honey remedy.  whenever I got sick as a kid, my mom would take honey and lemon and microwave it until it was warm and let me tell you what - its so yummy it was almost worth getting sick!  As an adult I have doctored it up a bit and I won't claim that its a "cure" but it sure does make your throat feel better and you stop coughing for awhile. 

Adult Lemon Honey Cold Remedy - make it as big or as small of a cup as you'd like
1 part brewed green tea
1 part lemon juice
4 parts honey
put in the microwave for ~30 seconds, then stir in 1 part Jack Daniels

I will say this did make me feel better for a little while, but then I started to feel congested so it was time to get out the big guns...SPICY FOOD!!  I had seen a recipe in Redbook a month or so ago that made spicy peanut noodles with good ole peanut butter - so using that as a base, I made a few variations to come up with my version of Spicy Peanut Noodles (click here to see the original Redbook recipe)

To make Spicy Peanut Noodles you'll need:
  • 1 lb cooked spaghetti noodles (I used whole grain ones, but any would do)
  • 3/4 cup chunky peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce, plus a splash for cooking the mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup Siracha (you may want to use less - I was trying to kill a cold)
  • 1T garlic (I used the squeeze out of a tube kind - but minced cloves would work great too)
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1 cup cubed cooked chicken (I used the already cooked chicken breasts from Trader Joe's)
  • 1 pkg of sliced mushrooms (I used baby bellas, but any would do)
  • Sesame Seeds (optional)
  • Sesame oil (optional)
In a wok or a large skillet, spray a little non-stick spray into the bottom of your pan and pour in the package of sliced mushrooms and a splash of soy sauce and let the mushrooms cook for 5 min and then add in the shredded carrots and chicken.  Then, in a small bowl, stir together peanut butter, soy sauce, siracha, garlic, and 1/3 cup warm water until smooth and pour into the wok along with the spaghetti and toss until combined.  Sprinkle sesame seeds and oil over each serving.

Here's why I love Spicy Peanut Noodles - It was a large enough to feed the hubby and I for two very generous meals and a snack for me inbetween, you can vary the heat by adding or subtracting a little Siracha, it took longer to boil the water for the noodles than it did to stir everything together, and I could breathe through BOTH nostrils after I finished a bowl! 

Next time you sniffle or you just need an easy throw together meal - give spicy noodles a try!


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A Resolution Or Two... Or Three!

At the moment, I'm sitting in my kitchen watching Giada on the DVR and thinking about the upcoming New Year (I'm obsessed with cooking shows so much that I record them to watch later. Giada and Ina Garten are my faves!!!!).

In my last post, I told you that I totally failed at Christmas 2011. It was a huge "Tina Disaster". Meaning, I only had myself to blame...

(Side note: When you fail at Christmas, it turns out it the clean-up is much quicker and easier. I'm already finished cleaning it up and Christmas is now officially behind me. Now, I'm concerned with what lies ahead.)

Most of my life, I've been a disorganized mess. If you ever watched the show Friends, there was this one episode where Chandler and Monica had moved in together and she had the mysterious closet that wouldn't open. When Chandler finally got it open, he realized it was her "sloppy as a pig" closet. Yeah, that can be me. It used to never be a big deal because whether it was laying things wherever I last used them or never recording an appointment, it didn't matter because my mind was always sharp. I always remembered where I last used the scotch tape and scissors and I always remembered when my next hair or doctor's appointment was (or just got lucky enough that these appointments had great reminders from my salon or doctor's office). Then there was a hiccup in the road... I hit my 30's! I just couldn't remember things like I used to. I'd lay things down, forget about them, then have to listen to my husband complain because he couldn't find anything. And with not being able to remember things like I used to that meant that I was letting everything get away from me. Not only my things but time too. Well after the Christmas 2011 disaster, I've vowed to never let this happen again - EVER!

What did I do the day after Christmas? I hit the bookstore to buy an engagement planner! (You didn't think I would do so before Christmas did you? Why pay $15 for a planner, when I only have to pay $7.50 during the After Christmas Sale!) I even bought one of the bigger ones (7" x 9") so that I'd have more room to jot down lists and other reminders plus it will be harder to misplace.

In less than 24 hours, I've added all of my family and friends birthdays, upcoming appointments, any plans that have already been made to be with family or friends, holiday and personal time off from work AND things to do around the holiday time.

So, in case you're still unsure, my New Year's Resolution is to become more organized. Not only to carry this engagement planner every where I go and follow it to a "T" but also to get my house in order. My other resolution is to start finishing some projects that have been in limbo for way too long. I'll keep you updated during my (mis)adventures.

So, I ask, what's your resolution?

Have a Happy and Egg-cellent New Year 2012!


Sunday, December 25, 2011

Accidental Pumpkin Pie Stuffed French Toast

They say necessity is the mother of all invention, and that is definitely the case with this pumpkin pie stuffed french toast.  I got a call this morning that the flu had hit at my sister's house, so we were postponing Christmas at my Mom and Dad's - which meant I was now responsible for making breakfast for me and the hubby.  I wanted to make traditional french toast this morning, since its Christmas-y and really easy, but when I looked in the fridge I didn't have any maple syrup, so "normal" french toast was out since all of the grocery stores were closed.  I started rummaging and I did have canned pumpkin and some cream cheese, and that is how pumpkin pie stuffed french toast was born.   I was a little apprehensive if it would really taste like pumpkin pie and if it would be sweet enough, especially since I didn't have any syrup to fall back on, but it got two enthusiastic thumbs up from the hubby! 

In hindsight I should have cut the toast open so you can see the yummy filling inside - but I was trying to snap a pic before the hubby took a bite! 

What you'll need for 2 servings - FYI this recipe easily multiplies:
  •  4 slices of bread
  • 1/4 C canned pumpkin
  • 1/4 C cream cheese (I used reduced fat, but any kind would work fine
  • 3 T brown sugar
  • Pinch of cinnamon
  • Pinch of nutmeg
  • 2 T butter
  • 2 eggs
  • splash of milk
  • powdered sugar (optional)
Mix together the pumpkin, cream cheese, brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg together with a fork until the lumps disappear to form the filling mixture.  Lay out your slices of bread and spread 1/4 of the filling mixture on one side of each piece of bread.  Put the sides with the filling on them together to form a "sandwich".  In a large bowl crack the two eggs, splash in a little milk, and stir with a fork until combined.  Dip the "sandwiches" into the egg and milk mixture coating all sides.  In a skillet (or in my case I used my griddler) melt the butter over medium heat and place the sandwiches in the pan once the butter starts to brown just a little.  Cook on one side until its golden, then flip and continue cooking until the other side is golden.  When the toast is ready, put on a plate and sprinkle with powdered sugar.  Enjoy!!


Saturday, December 24, 2011

Tina, The Grinch Who Killed Christmas 2011

Thank goodness for Meg. Frankly, without her, our blog would've been Christmas-less. She's my rock!

I started off with grand intentions and somewhere along the line, everything just spiraled out of control. My house is a wreck, it doesn't smell of baked cookies and... there's no Christmas tree. All of the Christmas gifts are wrapped and leaning up against the entertainment center in the living room. *sigh* I know, I know - I'm the worst Martha-wannabe EVER!

I could go into all sorts of reasons excuses as to what happened and why but, it's just not worth it. Let's just say I'm feeling like a total Christmas failure. Yes, Tina, you get a big, fat F for Christmas 2011!!!

(head hanging in shame)

With that being said and a huge, massive promise to finish off 2011 with a banging New Year's post, I would like to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas!

See you in a week for 2012 Resolutions!


A Holiday Card Tip and Greetings from Sophie the Wonder Pup

As Christmas nears and we look at all the beautiful cards and letters our friends and family have sent, inevitably there is someone who has sent you a card and you cringe as you remember you forgot to send them one.  Here is my tip for making sure I'm prepared every year to not leave any well wishers behind.  As I recieve my holiday cards and hang them up, I save all of the envelopes with the return address on them in a big ziploc bag so I have an "address book in a bag" for next year and I store the bag with my christmas ornaments so I'm set as soon as I put up the tree! 

Sophie couldn't let the season pass without wishing everyone Happy Holidays!!  


Fantasy Fudge Facelift

There's nothing better at Christmastime than good ole Fantasy Fudge, its printed on the back of the marshmallow fluff and chances are your Mom and her Mom before her have all made a pan of this holiday staple. (Why don't we make fudge for 4th of July I wonder?? We'll save that for a later post) Well this year, one type of fudge just wasn't enough - so with a little tweaking I have two new cousins for this old holiday standby. Peanut Butter Cup Fudge and Vanilla Caramel Fudge.  To get the original fantasy fudge recipe, go here.   This year I made the original recipe minus the walnuts, much like coconut and politics, walnuts have a definite polarizing effect on people, you're either very much so against OR in favor of them, i'm part of the against camp myself, but anyway, moving on to our facelift.

Variation 1 - Peanut Butter Cup Fudge
If you like Reese's - then this is the fudge for you!  Follow the fantasy fudge recipe just as suggested, but instead of chocolate, replace it with Wilton peanut butter flavored candy melts to make a delicious peanut butter fudge, and after you put it into the prepared pan while its still hot, sprinkle some choc chips on top and after they get soft from the warm fudge, drag your knife through the melted chocolate to swirl and TAH DAH, you have Peanut Butter Cup Fudge! 

Variation 2 - Vanilla Caramel Fudge
Once again, prepare the fantasy fudge recipe as suggested, but instead of chocolate, use vanilla flavored Wilton candy melts instead.  As you put the warm vanilla fudge into the prepared pan, smooth it out and then place dollops of caramel sauce (I used Archer Farms Caramel Sauce from the ice cream toppings section at Target) on top of the fudge and drag your knife through to make the swirls.  If you like caramel, then this is the fudge for you!  I will admit if I had to do this over I would have then crusted the top with dry roasted salted peanuts and it would have tasted EXACTLY like a salted nut roll!  So please, learn from my mistake and have some salted peanuts nearby! 

This little package of fudge is going to our puppy groomer because she is just as sweet as this fudge! 

I hope everyone is having a good Christmas Eve delivering goodies and well wishes to friends and family!

Merry Christmas!


Monday, December 12, 2011

A Quick Tour of SantaMeg's Workshop

Christmas is definitely in full swing and the projects have started - sorry these are iPhone photos - I couldn't slow down long enough to get out the real camera, but I hope you enjoy the tour!

 Here's where the treats happen...

 The chocolate dipping station...PS, if you don't have a Wilton Chocolate Pro and you do any dipped candies, run don't walk to the nearest Michaels next time you have the 40% off coupon and BUY IT!  It makes dipped candies so easy, it melts the chocolate and keeps it at a perfect temperature for hours without burning or scorching.

 The packaging station - because treats are as only as good as they look!

 The dipping begins...

 And what workshop would be complete without a tree...

or two...

Thank you for peeking at my workshop, I hope your holiday projects are in full swing!


Friday, December 2, 2011

Cupcake Amateur: One Woman's Journey To Find (and Make) The Perfect Vanilla Frosting

I had this great idea that cupcakes would be my "thing".  The one thing that I'd be really great at when it came to baking... maybe I spoke too soon.

So, my latest invention was Cranberry Vanilla Cupcakes with Vanilla Frosting (OK, maybe it's not an invention but, I did come up with the idea without looking at a recipe book or perusing online... Kudos to me!) .  The Cranberry Vanilla part was easy but, the frosting?  Not so much.

I had decided to start by making the frosting first because, if it came out a little too thin, I could set it in the refrigerator for a bit while baking the cupcakes.  Even though I "invented" the cupcake recipe, the Vanilla frosting recipe, I did not. I got one from a crappy bakebook I bought at Barnes & Noble on the bargain rack.  Mistake #1.

Tell me what's wrong with this recipe's ingredients:

3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar

See what I see? Where's the wet ingredients? No milk or heavy cream or even water... Ridiculous! And, of course, I didn't realize it until I'd already start mixing together. I tried adding milk but, in the end, it was too runny. Mistake #2.

I finally decided to go with a tweaked version of a recipe I used on an earlier cupcake. However, at first, it wasn't so great. I had put it in the fridge to set but let it set too long. When I took it out and whipped it some, it was still too firm and turned out like this...

My husband was walking through the kitchen while I was still fuming and said "Is that mashed potatoes?". As much as I tried to give him the evil-eye, there was no denying that it DID look like mashed potatoes and I ended up laughing hysterically!

So, I ended up adding a little extra milk, warming it on the stove and just letting it set in the fridge for a few minutes. When I finally took it out, it was perfect!  I added it to a freezer storage bag, clipped the corner and piped the icing smoothly onto the cupcake.  You gotta love those storage bags :)

Cake (makes 24 cupcakes):

1 cup unsalted butter
1 1/3 cups sugar
6 large eggs, beaten
3 cups flour
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup sour cream (Tip: Sour cream is a GREAT add to all cupcake mixes. Makes them super moist!)
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup frozen cranberries, thawed and minced in food processor

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line cupcake tin with liners.
2.  In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, flour, baking powder and salt.
3.  Next add your eggs, butter, vanilla and milk. Using a hand mixer (or Stand Mixer, if you're lucky enough to have one. GRRR I do not... yet!), beat on medium speed until well blended.
4.  In a food processor, pulse your cranberries until minced. Add to cupcake batter and mix together evenly.
5.  Pour batter into cupcake liners until half full. (Tip: Put the batter into a large freezer storage bag and cut the corner tip. Piping the mixture into the liners is way less messy!)
6.  Bake cupcakes for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Vanilla Frosting:

1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups milk
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1.  In a medium saucepan, whisk the sugar and flour together. Add the milk and heavy cream and cook over medium heat, whisking occasionally until the mixture comes to a boil and has thickened, about 20 minutes.
2.  Transfer mixture to a large bowl and beat on high speed until cool. Add the butter and beat until completely blended. Add the vanilla and continue mixing until all is well combined. If the frosting is too thin, set in the refrigerator for a few minutes to set. If it's too thick, cook on stove on medium heat, add a little bit of milk and continue stirring until you reach a smooth consistency.

Happy Baking
Site Design by Designer Blogs