Wednesday, March 28, 2012

In other news

Since I haven't been able to take pictures I'll provide an update. New camera is purchased and I'm waiting for it to arrive. It's not the greatest, but it is affordable and received good reviews. Hopefully one day I will be able to afford a nice SLR camera. But in the meantime I will be trying new techniques and using some editing software. From what I read, the more expensive the camera does not always equal the better. I just need to practice technique and some figure out photoshop. 

My mom sent me an amazon gift card for Easter. She usually sends See's candy, which is so delicious. But I still have a box from Valentine's and there are always baked goods in the house so I told her "No more candy!". Haha. So instead she decided to surprise me with a gift card. So I decided since Spring is here and Summer is not too far away that I would get an ice cream maker. I have one now, but it is small and the motor isn't the best. And this one is turquoise! I also ordered Jenni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home. I love that ice cream. If you can get a hold of some I strongly suggest you try it. So many amazing and creative flavors. So I'll be looking forward to trying it out for myself and hopefully inventing some flavors of my own.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Clumsiness Strikes Again

Clumsy me dropped my camera the other day. It was in its case so I was hoping that it would be okay, but no. When I went to use it the images came out extremely blurry. Thankfully the camera was older, well used, and was not outrageously expensive. Plus, I've been on the look out for a new camera with higher resolution and zoom anyways. I think this is a sign. I'll be heading to Atlanta this weekend anyways so there won't be too much to post. I leave you with some random dessert decorations that I have yet to post. Hopefully, I will be able to get a new camera soon. Please send me your suggestions for cameras. I am clueless in the realm of technology.

Chocolate Cupcakes with Pink Rosettes

Royal Icing Eyes!

Royal Icing Carrots

White Blossom Trees

Brightly Colored Flower Cake

Monday, March 19, 2012

Belated St. Patrick's Post

It was a fun St. Patrick's weekend for us. Friday night our friends hosted a party so I brought with me cookies and cupcakes. The party was a lot of fun. It was a beautiful night and we spend it on the balcony playing games and enjoying each others company. Saturday was spent running errands and trying to avoid more storms that came through. Luckily they passed fairly quick and we were able to spend the late afternoon watching the NCAA basketball tournament and even got to grill some steaks and hot dogs. We had plans to go to a couple parties that night, but we stopped by home after grilling and I basically fell asleep on the couch. One night out a week is more than enough for me, I guess I'm getting older. Oh well. 

Here are some pics of the themed desserts I made. There were Shamrock cookies, as well as Rainbow cookies. The tutorial for the rainbow cookies can be found here at The Sweet Adventures of Sugarbelle. I made mini chocolate cupcakes and while they were still hot I brushed them with whiskey then after they cooled topped them with a Bailey's buttercream and a little royal icing shamrock. Hope everyone had a happy holiday!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Oven Parmesan Chicken with Roasted Romaine

Bon Appetit Magazine is the one of the best things that I receive in the mail. Besides my mom's care packages of course. I love browsing through the pictures and reading the recipes. Learning about new ingredients that wind up having me research where the ingredients comes from and where I can find it to purchase. I love learning new cooking techniques and combining well known ingredients with new techniques and new ingredients with techniques I am familiar with.

In the most recent March issue I came across a photo of romaine lettuce that had the appearance of having been cooked. Huh? I thought. I've never tried that, I wonder if it tastes good? So I flagged the recipe to return to later in the week and added the ingredients to my shopping list. Luckily, the ingredients are very common and I had most of them in my pantry and fridge. The recipe is amazingly simple in technique, and has a similar taste. But it is entirely different and a delicious dish. I recommend making this soon. And then again. I know it will become a recipe I call on when we're on a tight schedule or I'm feeling lazy.

Oven Parmesan Chicken with Roasted Romaine
Adapted from Bon Appetit March 2012

3 or 4 chicken breasts
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp fresh parsley
2 garlic cloves, chopped, divided
2 large hearts of romaine, halved lengthwise
1 lemon, cut into wedges

1) Preheat oven to 450 F and line a large baking sheet with foil
2) Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper and place on baking sheet

3) In a bowl mix together the Parmesan, panko, parsley, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper, then press mixture onto chicken breasts

4) Roast chicken for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, pour some olive oil, remaining garlic, salt and pepper onto romaine leaves then place in oven after the 10 minutes have passed

5) Let chicken and romaine roast for additional 5 minutes, remove romaine and check chicken to make sure it is cooked
7) Top romaine with freshly squeezed lemon and serve with chicken and enjoy!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Cookies for New Parents

I am at the age where my friends are beginning to get married, and Will is a little older and is now at the age where his friends are having babies. Our friends just welcomed their first baby into the world a couple weeks ago. A tiny little baby boy. So of course, I decided to make them cookies, hoping a little sugar will give them an extra pick me up through the day (and night!). The cookies I made included some traditional baby cookie cutter shapes, but I also added some animals. The "Thank You" cards from their baby shower included these brightly colored zoo characters, so I thought it would be fun to pay homage to that theme.

Monday, March 12, 2012


Last week we had Spring Break. It was a great week for Will and I to relax, spend time with friends, and get some projects done around the house. Like build a raised bed for my garden. A surprisingly easy project once you make it out of Home Depot.

We finally made it to the Jack Daniels Distillery for a tour and a picnic in the tiny town of Lynchburg, TN. If you are not familiar with Lynchburg you may be surprised to learn that it is in fact a dry county. No alcohol. Which means during your tour of the distillery you won't be served a taste of what their known for. No, instead you get lemonade. Through some loophole they created you can however purchase a bottle from their gift shop. Despite the rules on alcohol the tour was an interesting insight into how whiskey is produced and all of the steps along the way. In town we even got to try some Jack Daniels Ice Cream. Good, but it would have been better without the raisins. In fact all throughout town you can taste a variety of sauces, chocolates, etc. that have been flavored with Jack Daniels. For a dry county they sure love their alcohol.

After a long day of driving through the Tennessee country side I was ready for an easy dinner to make. Minestrone came to mind. I usually have all of the ingredients for the soup somewhere in the pantry and in the fridge. So it was decided that we would make a big batch of soup, have our friend over for dinner, and then head on over to play our weekly trivia game. It was a really great day. Plus, it was also a warm day and great weather always makes things better.


1 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, smashed and minced
5 carrots, diced
2 potatoes, diced
3 ribs of celery, diced
1 can of tomatoes
1 small can of tomato sauce
2 zucchini, diced
1 can cannellini beans
5 cups chicken or vegetable broth
3 cups kale
Salt and pepper
Olive oil
Oregano and rosemary, to taste
1/2 lb of macaroni, cooked al dente

1) In a large dutch oven heat olive oil. Add onions, carrots, celery, potatoes, and garlic, season with salt, pepper, and herbs and let cook until slightly tender, about 15 minutes

2) Add the tomatoes, tomato sauce, zucchini, and beans, then cover with broth and let cook until vegetables are almost done, then add the kale and let cook until tender then add the macaroni and let cook together for about 5 minutes

3) Adjust seasonings then serve in bowls and enjoy!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Chipotle Chicken Enchiladas

Well here goes another enchilada recipe. They really are one of those foods that are really fun to experiment with. So many different fillings and sauces. I thought I would try one with chipotles. I had a can that had been sitting in the back of the pantry for a while now. I've really wanted to make my own raspberry-chipotle jelly. Oh well, another day. I had more important uses for those spicy peppers in the mean time. I thought I would try them out and try and make a smoky-spicy chile sauce for my chicken enchiladas.

To make this sauce I threw a few chipotles (packed in adobo sauce) into the food processor with half of an onion, garlic, some spices, and a can of my favorite tomato sauces, El Pato. If you've never bought a can of their spicy tomato sauce you need to. This sauce has the perfect spicy flavor that really kicks up the heat and flavor. I use it all the time. Usually in soups because I like the way it tastes better than regular old tomato sauce. It came in handy when I was thinking of what else to put in the sauce.

I went with a chicken and cheese filling, but like I said, enchiladas are the perfect food for inspiration. This can easily be made with vegetables, just cheese, or beef or pork. I had chicken, so that's what I went with. They came out amazing. Spicy and smoky, a great comfort food in my book.

Chipotle Chicken Enchiladas
1 whole chicken, cooked and shredded (there will be leftovers for soup or other uses)
12 corn tortillas
Oil for frying
Cheddar and Jack cheese, shredded (about 1/2 a lb)
1/2 onion, diced

For the sauce:
1/2 onion, diced
3 chipotles in adobo sauce
3 cloves garlic
1 tbsp cumin
1 small can of El Pato spicy tomato sauce

1) Add all of the ingredients for the sauce in a food processor and puree

2) Preheat oven to 400 F
3) Fry tortillas in hot oil, just to soften to make it easier to fold them and let drain on paper towels
4) Place the tortillas in a casserole dish and fill with chicken, sauce, cheese, and onions, then roll up. Top with remaining sauce and cheese and place in oven for 20 minutes

5) Let cool slightly, then dig in and enjoy!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Grilled Pork Chops with Sweet Potato Hash

Last Sunday was a perfect sunny day. The sun was shining, it was warm, and there was a light breeze. We spent the day lounging on the front porch with the dog and went for a long walk to the grocery store. We picked up some pork chops to grill and I thought I would make a hash to go with it. For my birthday we went to The Block, a great new restaurant in St. Louis. The pork chops were amazing and they were accompanied with a lovely Sweet Potato Hash. Yummy! So I thought I could try and replicate the dish.

I made a dry rub similar to the one I use on my ribs and let the chops rest with the rub on them for a bit. Then Will grilled them up while I made the hash. There's nothing like cooking with a cast iron skillet. I de-glazed the pan with some bourbon ad brown sugar and poured it on top of the pork chops. It was delicious!

Pork Chops

2 pork chops
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp garlic
1/2 tsp cayenne
1 tsp chili powder

Sweet Potato Hash
2 sweet potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 onion chopped
1 apple, cut into 1-inch pieces
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup bourbon
2 tbsp brown sugar
1/2 cup chicken broth

1) Prepare the dry rub for the pork chops and then rub onto chops and let sit for a bit while the grill heats up then cook them up

2) While chops are cooking, heat oil in cast iron skillet and add onions, sweet potatoes, and apples. Season with salt and pepper and let brown, stirring occasionally until all sides are browned and cooked through

3) Remove the hash from the pan and keep warm
4) To make the sauce pour in the bourbon, brown sugar, and chicken stock and let thicken

5) Place hash on plate with a pork chop and top with the pan sauce and enjoy!