Monday, February 23, 2009


I was reading Pioneer Woman's blog and I was looking at her cooking section earlier today. She actually had Southern Living over to the lodge at her ranch to feature some of her food and to photograph it for an article. You should really check out this post if you like food, photography, or have an interest in the way magazines operate.

I'm completely fascinated by the work of the 'food stylist'. Pioneer Woman says that would be her dream job and I just think I found mine too. You would get to go to different locations and style food and make it look pretty. I love making things look pretty. Also the food can't talk back to you when you style it, unlike other models.

I don't feel like I made any blogworthy meals last week (that haven't already been posted). I made another attempt at homemade pasta sauce with meatballs. Last time the meatballs were pretty good, but the sauce was not and this time the sauce was great but the meatballs were bland. I think if I just tweak the first meatball recipe a little bit and use the second sauce then I'll have a winner. Tonight I'm making this roast for dinner. In fact I turned the crockpot on when I left the house and all I have to do when I get home is add some vegetables. If you haven't made this roast I suggest you make it soon b/c it's goooood.

Our weekend was pretty standard. We had pizza night Friday, hung out with some friends and played games Saturday, and had a lazy day on Sunday. We actually looked at two houses on Friday night, but I forgot to post about that. We really really really love the first house that we looked at. It would need a lot of work, but we're looking past that at the potential. The only issue is location. It's actually in an awesome location, the re-sale would be great. It's just a bit further away from work than I would like and it would make going home at lunch really hard. Tuck is ok some days left alone, but I don't know that I would be willing to say that I would be ok with me never being able to go home at lunch 5 days a week, all year round. If the location was a little closer, we would hands down put down an offer and it actually just got foreclosed on so the price is dropping even lower, making it even more tempting...

I'll keep you updated. It probably didn't help to go get a bunch of kitchen design and home improvement magazines and look through them yesterday and decide how we wanted to re-do it :-\ It may just not be meant for us, but it's something we're definitely thinking about. This isn't unusual though, we've fallen in love with homes before but there's always been 'something' that holds us back. I don't know if we're being to picky or if we just haven't found the right home yet. A home is a big decision and we're not taking it lightly and that would probably explain why we've worked with our realtor for a year now (and 2 months). She's patient with us though and she never pressures us. I don't know how I went from college and having to make decisions about a class schedule to getting married and making huge choices like buying a home. Time has gone by rather quickly.

I hope everyone is havin a good Monday!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Chocolate Mascarpone Brownies

I wanted something rich and chocolatey for Valentine's day... and these definitely fit the bill. I found these over on Bakerella's website and the original recipe is from RecipeZaar. I would suggest that you cut these into tiny squares b/c with the rich chocolate brownie AND the ganache, they are definitely better eaten in smaller portions. It's worth it though, and they're so good.

RecipeZaar mentions using good quality chocolate for this recipe. I ended up using Ghiradellli, but all I had for cocoa powder was Hersheys. I still thought they were great. I've also never even heard up mascarpone cheese before, or cooked with it for that matter. It's almost like cream cheese but it has less of of a sour taste to it. I can see why it would be used for baking and I'd like to try it in some other recipes. The only drawback is that it's a little more expensive.

Chocolate Mascarpone Brownies
(Source: RecipeZaar)

1 cup unsalted butter
3 ounces best-quality semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese, softened
3 large eggs, at room-temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt

6 ounces best-quality semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
6 tablespoons whipping cream
3 tablespoons unsalted butter

Preheat oven to 325°F; have ready a buttered 8-inch square glass cake pan.

In a small saucepan, melt the butter and bring it to just below a boil; have the chopped chocolate in a mixing bowl--pour the hot butter over the chocolate and let stand for 30 seconds.

Stir until chocolate is completely melted.

Sift in the sugar and cocoa powder (I do this through a sieve, not with a sifter).

With a wooden spoon, beat in the mascarpone, eggs (30 minutes on the counter brings them to room temperature) and vanilla, mixing until smooth.

Gently fold the flour and salt into the batter.

Pour batter into prepared pan and spread evenly--this is important since, if the batter isn't spread evenly, it won't bake evenly.

Place into preheated oven and bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean (45 minutes did it for me).

Place pan on a cooling rack and let brownies cool for 10-15 minutes, while you now make the ganache.

Place chopped chocolate in a mixing bowl; in a small saucepan, bring the cream and the butter to just below the boiling point, over medium heat.

Pour this hot cream-butter mixture over the chocolate and let stand for 30 seconds, then stir until smooth; ganache is now ready to use and can be spread over the brownies.

Should you wish to wait a bit, make sure the ganache is warm when you spread over the brownies, as it does firm up which makes spreading hard to do.

Don't cut into the brownies until ganache has firmed up; I find it best to put the brownies into the fridge to speed this along; once the ganache is firm the brownies do not need to be kept in the fridge, though.

Valentine's Day continued...

Lilies are such a nice Valentine's Day gift but from now on I will be cutting the stamen/pollen whatever it's called out of the middle of it. I turned around to find Tuck's face completely dusted on Saturday.


I tried using a wet cloth to wipe it off, but making it wet just seemed to turn it into a homemade dye. We ended up breaking down and giving him a bath. Our Valentine's Day was off to a good start.

We had Lillian here with us for part of the morning.

She tried to make Tuck feel better about his yellow face and spent some time with him in his crate.

The bath seemed to make it better. Here's a picture of him sitting at my feet while I blog. You can barely see the yellow on his nose now. He just looks like he got some lovely yellow highlights

Aside from the stamen incident we had a really good Valentine's Day. After we gave him a bath we got ready and went to dinner. I got a steak with a demi glace sauce and Casey got a bleu cheese steak over top of garlic smashed potatoes. We grabbed some coffee and then came back to the house and watched some movies. I also made some mascarpone cheese brownies (YUM and I'm going to post the recipe after this post).

All in all it was a good Valentine's Day. We don't normally do anything over the top. We just usually go grab some dinner. I gave Casey a giftcard to Dick's and he gave me some bath stuff along with my lilies. We both had the day off today and we went to a movie and relaxed for most of the day. We went and looked at a house that we really really like that is a foreclosure (I'm pretty sure). We've been looking at it for the past week and we sent an e-mail to our realtor requesting that we see it. I hope that we end up liking the inside and I'll keep you posted if we decide to make an offer.

There's one more thing I have to add... I placed an order for one of these last night in bronze =)
My computer lasted me well through college but a couple of incidents have made it kind of a pain to use lately, mainly that it won't run off of battery at all. They shipped a free printer with it too and I think that ships out tomorrow. I ordered the laptop off of the HP site to save some money, but that means that it won't ship out until the 24th since they have to build it to my specifications. I still can't wait to have a new computer!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day!

Most people hate this holiday and think that you don't need one special day to show someone that you love them. I'm a big goob and I see absolutely nothing wrong with sitting a day aside for this, b/c unfortunately we get so caught up in life and rushing around that we may not always make the time for each other that we should. If this is one day that people decide to go out or sit at home and have dinner together and just enjoy each others company then I'm all for it =)

My parents intended to go out to dinner for their Valentine's Day dinner last night, but somehow Lillian came along for the ride so we went with them to help with her so that they could enjoy dinner. It was nice to see my parents and it was interesting to try to occupy a baby in a restaurant. At one point mom was laughing at Casey trying to hold her while I tried to get lasagna in her mouth without losing the lasagna and stabbing her with the fork. We have a long way to go with figuring out babies :-\

I also had a little surprise at work yesterday. Every year I tell Casey not to get flowers and every year he sends them anyway and I always enjoy them =) This year I tried to point out that we would be at home together all day so sending flowers would be pointless and to save his money. He took it upon himself to send them to work on Friday and it definitely caught me off guard but it was a really nice gesture. Sorry for the crappy cell phone pick but here they are on my desk at work.

I'm not much of a roses girl, but I absolutely love lilies =) Casey is still asleep, but I'm going to make breakfast whenever he gets up and then we're just going to hang out until dinner tonight. He made reservations earlier this week (he's really on the ball this year!) and we'll head out to dinner and possibly go see a movie. He told me we could see the Shopaholic movie if I wanted to, but I don't know if I'll submit him to that or not haha.

I'm actually going to make mascarpone brownies with ganache today too and I'll post the recipe later. I really wanted a more 'gourmet' recipe for today and I've never worked with mascarpone cheese before so we'll see how it goes! I'll post pictures later.

Everyone enjoy their day and just enjoy being married/in love/engaged/dating/smitten with someone for today =)

Beef Vegetable Soup

This recipe is kind of a comination of the way my mom makes vegetable soup and a couple of suggestions from the What's Cooking board. If you were one of the ones who helped me out with this recipe, let me know so I can give you some credit!

Beef Vegetable Soup
(Source: Mom & What's Cooking)

1 lb. beef stew meat
1/2 onion
1 can of corn
Large can of tomato juice
1 can diced tomatoes
1 c. fresh celery chopped
1 c. fresh carrot chopped
2 c. chopped diced potatoes
1 c. elbow macaroni

Brown stew meat for a couple of minutes in stock pot and then pour in enough water to cover beef and cook until meat is cooked through. Add in onion, corn, tomato juice, diced tomatoes, celery, carrot, potatoes, and macaroni. Cook until vegetables are tender and macaroni is done. Add salt and pepper to taste.

I accidently almost passed out from the heat in the bath tub on Thursday night so I may have accidently let my soup cook for too long b/c my macaroni was waaaaaaaaay past al dente. Just don't pass out in the bath tub and your soup should be fine. Otherwise this was exactly what I was looking for!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

30 Things

So, I'm sure we've all seen the '25 Random Things' note that has been floating around Facebook. I didn't know if I had 25 random thing that I could even think of, but it turns out I'm a very random person. I actually posted 30 because I wanted to be a non-conformist!

1. I'm a huge animal lover and am very passionate about that. I really want to get involved into fostering (dogs or cats) when Casey and I move into a house.

2. I'm very passive and I have a hard time standing up for myself. I try to let more assertive people rub off on me, but it doesn't work.

3. I don't claim to be a huge technology person, but I am extremely attached to my DVR, my tv, and my laptop.

4. The most relaxed I've ever been in my life was probably watching the sun set in Hawaii on our honeymoon.

5. I only crave sweet things for breakfast. I can't eat eggs, bacon, etc. until I've been awake for a very long time (usually around 11 or 12).

6. I've only had one car in my life. I realize how much I've grown up now that I could care less about having a nice or 'cool' car. I'm just so thankful that neither of us have car payments!

7. I'm an organizing nut and I love my labelmaker. I've already started to organize my pantry w/ tupperware and labels.

8. I think my grandma played an important part in helping me develop my love for cooking. I can distinctly remember her cracking open eggs and using her thumb to get all of the egg out of the shell b/c her mama taught her never to waste anything.

9. I love my dog more than a normal person should. I run late every morning b/c I love to crawl back into bed with him and snuggle.

10. Following along with #9, it's physically impossible for me to get up on time in the morning. You would be embarrassed to know what time I get up in relation to when I have to be at work. Luckily during college I mastered being able to shower, blowdry, get dressed, and put on makeup in like 10-15 minutes.

11. Tuck always thinks his butt is after him. For example if there is a loud sound he'll bite his butt like that's where the noise came from. I call him butt 90% of the time. Casey calls him face but I have no clue why. He probably has identity issues.

12. I dated my husband for 6.5 years before we got married. I haven't dated many people in my life b/c I've been with him since I was 16 and that's perfectly fine with me.

13. Sometimes I wonder if I'll ever be ready to be a mother. I'm pretty selfish with my time right now (I'm also only 23). I honestly think in my head when people tell me they're pregnant, "Did they just wake up one morning and decide they didn't want to sleep in for the rest of their life?!". Dramatic? Yes, but welcome to the way my brain works.

14. Casey and I carpool to work and when I take the car to lunch I forget where I parked 60% of the time. If we ever get a divorce it'll be over me forgetting where I parked the car.

15. I love my Uggs and don't care how ugly people think they are. Don't judge me until you've placed your bare foot into the soft innards of one of those boots.

16. If my dog doesn't like you for some reason, it makes me think twice b/c I think animals are a good judge of people.

17. I'm slightly claustrophobic. I'm currently searching for an endodontist that will knock me out to get my root canal b/c I freak out when I think about being held down in a chair for that long. I could care less about the drills or needles.

18. I take a bath almost every single day after work and read for awhile to unwind.

19. I am NOT a morning person. I do NOT like being talked to in the morning. Casey usually apologizes when he has to ask me a question in the morning b/c he knows how grouchy I am. I'm getting better though. We actually had a conversation this morning.

20. I can't wait to buy a home but I'll kind of miss being in our apartment. I took Tuck out yesterday and watched him run up to our neighbor and get his belly rubbed and then he ran up the steps and we ran into another neighbor and he was commenting on how he had learned to run up the steps (he used to not be able to do it). These people have kind of watched him grow up and that's cool to me.

21. I'm very close to my family and usually always talk to my mom or my sister every day.

22. I really want our next dog to be a pitbull and I can't stand the stigma people attach to that breed. I'm probably going to do an education post about them soon b/c they're so misunderstood and that makes me sad.

23. I guess along with #22, I really get irritated by people who have such strong opinions on things that they're uneducated about. It's ok to claim ignorance every now and then. I know I do.

24. I'm embarrassed to admit that I have a really hard time with God's plan for me. It amazes me that I can have so much faith in one week and in the same week completely have a breakdown about where my life is supposed to be going. I'm trying to work on this!

25. I'm such a lucky girl and I'm learning to know and appreciate this. I really couldn't ask for a better husband, family, and position in life (this is one of those weeks where my faith is good).

26. I really love hippos and I have a collection of stuffed hippos in my closet. Casey trys to show me the animal planet specials on how violent they are. That's one thing I like to claim ignorance on and I just change the channel.

27. I'm actually trying to gain a few pounds for the first time in my life. I don't think I'm thin by any means, but I've had to buy a couple of pairs of new pants that fit and I don't want to buy all new pants. I don't lose weight the healthy way. I'm a total stress weight loser and was down 13 lbs. in December. I'm unstressed and gaining it back now! I would much rather be my normal size and unstressed than a more ideal weight for the wrong reasons.

28. I despise change, but I'm fine once I get used to it. I've recently had some changes at work and at first I was a spaz about it, but I'm finally calming down and realizing that change can be good. In fact I spazzed the night before we left for our honeymoon b/c I didn't want to take the time off from work and get out of my routine to go to Hawaii! Weirdo alert!

29. I fall asleep to Friends almost every single night and Casey and I constantly quote it back and forth to each other.

30. I've grown to recognize certain homeless people downtown and some people in my building know them by name. The joys of working downtown.

There's my 30 random things. Love me or leave me =)

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Barbeque Chicken

This is my grandma's recipe and my mom used to make it all the time. It's so good and the chicken turns out very tender and just falls apart (as evidenced below in the picture). This is definitely a more tangy sauce and the onions really create a great flavor.

Barbeque Chicken
(Source: Grandma!)

1/2 c. water
1/4 c. vinegar
2 tbsp. brown sugar
1 tbsp. mustard
1 1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. pepper
1 onion sliced
1/4 c. butter
around 1.5 lbs of chicken (you can use breasts, legs, thighs, or a mixture)
1/2 c. ketchup
2 tbsp. worcestershire sauce

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In stock pot mix together water, vinegar, brown sugar, mustard, salt, pepper, onion, and butter. Bring to a boil and let boil for around 10 minutes. Then add ketchup and worcestershire sauce and mix together. Add pieces of chicken and try to cover the chicken w/ the sauce as much as possible (it won't be completely submerged).

Place stock pot in oven and cook for an hour checking chicken halfway through to turn and recoat with sauce.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Lillian's First Birthday

I'll admit I went through a brief period this past week where I thought about stopping the whole blog thing. I was afraid I was going to run out of ideas, recipes, etc. and that people would just get bored with it. Casey encouraged me to keep up with it and I realized I could always post what we do that week/weekend even if it's not that exciting and it'll still be a document of our life. I'm always trying new recipes as well. I just need to get better about taking pictures before we devour it. You don't have to have an extraordinary exciting life to have a blog, because I certainly don't!

This past Saturday Casey, Kara, and I went home for my niece's first birthday. She's growing into such a little person. Sometimes I look at her and think that she's actually growing into a person that I'll be able to sit and have a conversation with one day. I'm blessed to have her in my life and I hope she's had a great first year of life. I hope that she knows that she'll always have her aunt and uncle to lean on for support and that if she gets mad at mom and dad, she can come stay with us =)

Casey, me and my mom waiting for people to arrive

The birthday girl with her mom and dad. My grandma made her #1 onesie.

Kara and Lillian

Little man keeping an eye on the scene

Opening her glow doll

More presents!

Her bath toys that my mom got her

and more...

Opening her Sophie the Giraffe from me and Casey

About to devour her piece of chocolate cake. I made her the cake from the Hershey website with their icing. She didn't really get any in her mouth, but she had fun playing in it. I enjoyed it at least! Casey also got a video of her playing in it that I'll have to post sometime this week.

We love you Lillian, Happy Birthday!

Superbowl Treats

I made Dorie's blonde brownies and chocolatey football bites for the Superbowl and they were both so easy and good!

Chewy, Chunky Blondies
(Source: Baking From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan)

2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups (packed) light brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
6 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate , chopped into chips (or 1 cup store bought chocolate chips) I used 1 cup of store-bought chips
1 cup butterscotch chips or Heath Toffee Bits I omitted these and added an extra 1/2 cup of store-bought chips
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts I used pecans
1 cup sweetened shredded coconut I omitted this b/c Casey hates coconut =)

Center rack in the oven and preheat oven to 325 degrees. Butter (I use Pillsbury flour baking spray) a 9x13 inch baking pan and put it on a baking sheet.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

Beat butter on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Add both sugars and beat for another 3 minutes, or until well incorporated. Add the eggs one by one, beating for 1 minute after each addition, then beat in the vanilla. Reduce mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients, mixing just until they disappear into the batter. Using a rubber spatula, stir in the chips, nuts and coconut. Scrape batter into prepared pan and even out the top the best you can.

Bake for 40 minutes or until knife inserted into the center comes out clean. The blondies should pull away from the sides of the pan a little and the top should be a nice honey brown Transfer the pan to a rack and cool for about 15 minutes before turning the blondies out onto another rack. Invert onto a rack and cool the blondies to room temperature right side up.

Chocolatey Football Bites
(Source: Kraft)

6 squares Baker's semi-sweet chocolate
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1 tbsp. butter or margarine
1/2 tsp. vanilla
4 cups cocoa sweetened rice cereal
white decorating gel

Microwave chocolate, corn syrup, and butter in large microwaveable bowl on high 2 1/2 minutes, stirring after 1 1/2 minutes. Stir in vanilla.

Add cereal; mix well. Cool 10 minutes. Shape into 18 (3-inch long) footballs with moistened hands. Place on large sheet of wax paper and cool completely.

Use decorating gel to add laces. Let stand until gel is firm.