Cupcake Trials-Round 1

27 Mar

What do you think???  Not bad for my first time, huh??  Last night, my kitchen turned into a bakery, and it was a ton of fun.  I am planning to make my own cupcakes for my wedding (with the help of friends), and last night was a trial run.  I’ve been trying to research recipes and think of things that would be a safe choice.  After finding a recipe from Courtney’s blog, I decided to give them a try.  I didn’t add the almond extract like her recipe called for just because of allergy issues, but they were sooo delicious none the less!

Chocolate raspberry cupcakes with raspberry buttercream frosting.

My mom got me some decorating tools two Christmas’s ago, and I was able to test them out on my cupcakes.  After doing the design a few times, I got the hang of it, and I think they look pretty fancy. :)  I am also planning to add some decoration to the top and possibly a decorative foil or wrapper to the outside.  For now, I’m thinking this recipe is a keeper.  I am planning to do two different ones, so any suggestions for a second cupcake would be wonderful!

I sent the tray below with my mom to work to share with her coworkers for their Tuesday meeting.

Her coworkers had nothing but wonderful things to say, and they told my mom that they would be willing to be taste-testers every Tuesday. :)

*****

Moving on to today.  As a result of the cupcake overload, a LONG walk was in store for me.  Around noon, I headed out with my iPod for a five mile walk.  It started out windy and cold, but after I got going, the temperature felt perfect.  I was really in the zone and felt like I could have walked all day long!  When my mom got home from work, she wanted to go for a walk, so I made the decision to head out again with her for a few miles.

When we got home, we decided to make a trip to Target.  Our Target recently added a grocery/produce section that was opened this past weekend.  As someone who is obsessed with grocery stores, this was a huge deal.  I had already gone and checked it out on the weekend, but I had to show mom too.  We snatched up some gelato ice cream (pistachio flavored) and some other goodies too.

Pistachio Gelato.

The ice cream was so creamy and full of flavor.  I’ll definitely be trying out their other flavors soon. I’m not a huge sweets/ice cream person (even though this post is filled with it!), but all I need is a few bites to be satisfied.

That’s about all for tonight.  In the morning, my mom and I are going to head out of town to do some wedding shopping, go for lunch, etc…  I’m really looking forward to it!

P.S. I have an interview for a teaching job on Thursday!!!  More on that later. :)

 

Marinated Grilled Pork Loin and Greek Salad

26 Mar

Happy Monday!  Usually Monday’s don’t equal happiness, but for me, it’s Spring Break!  Wonderful, I know.  It has been an eventful day overall.  I spent a lot of time this morning looking through wedding ideas online.  I’m still searching for shoes, jewelry, hair pieces, etc…  I won’t complain though, because it’s fun to look around and get ideas. :)  Before I go into the rest of my day, I need to show you my tasty meal from last night.

While waiting for the main entree to cook, my mom and I enjoyed a greek salad that I created, and we topped it with a homemade greek vinaigrette.

Greek salad with lettuce, tomatoes, feta cheese, cucumbers and kalamata olives.

I used a salad dressing recipe I found on Food Network’s website, and it turned out so good!

For the main entree, I decided to make a marinated pork loin.  After marinating the pork loin for several hours, it was well worth the wait!!!

YUM!

Marinated Grilled Pork Loin:

Ingredients:

1 original pork loin (1-2 pounds)

1 tsp dijon mustard

1/8 cup lemon juice

1 clove garlic

1 tsp lemon zest

1 tsp rosemary

1 tsp thyme

pepper to taste

Directions:

1.) Combine everything but the pork loin in a large ziploc bag.

2.) Once ingredients are mixed well, add the pork loin, and spin it around until it is coated in the mixture.

3.) Let sit in fridge until you are ready to cook.

4.) Cut into 3/4 inch slices, and place on the grill for 10-15 minutes or until cooked thoroughly.

**You can also bake them in the oven.**

Hot off the grill.

It turned out so tender that it practically melted in your mouth.  I dipped mine in some mustard, but plain or with barbecue sauce would work too!  I also made some green beans on the grill with garlic salt, pepper, olive oil and almonds.

Pork loin with green beans.

My meals for today featured leftovers from last night that tasted just as good.  Now I’m up to my knees in batter and frosting baking in the kitchen.  I’m working on testing out some cupcake and other dessert recipes for my wedding.  An update on this process will be coming soon!

New Concoctions

25 Mar

What a relaxing weekend it has been for me so far.  Any weekend that involves sunshine, friends and great food is always a good one in my book.

After a last minute decision to head to visit my friend Katie, I hopped in the car.  I was excited to try out a new cafe for lunch and stop at some new-to-me health food stores.  We visited The Main Grain Bakery where I picked up a fresh loaf of their seed bread.  It was nutty and delicious.

Seed bread.

We then made our way to a country store with tons of bakery items, nuts and seeds in bulk.

Oat bran, chia seeds, sunflower seeds and coconut.

Katie suggested the oan bran to me since I’d never had it.  I was also fresh out of chia seeds.  Finding sunflower seeds that are both unsalted and not roasted is always a challenge, so I knew I should snatch these while I could.  Also, unsweetened coconut can be hard to come by in our local grocery stores.  Overall, it was a fun trip, and I am so glad I got to meet up with Katie. :)

*****

Yesterday my mom had to work, and she ended up getting home super late.  I knew she was going to be starving, so I threw together a flatbread pizza similar to my margerita pizza from several days ago with the one flatbread remaining.

I decided to do something a little different than the other day since we  didn’t have any basil left.

Pesto Chicken Flatbread Pizza.

Pesto Chicken Flatbread Pizza:

Ingredients:

1 flatbread

1/4-1/2 cup tomato sauce

1 Tablespoon of pesto

1 chicken sausage (flavor of your choice)  I used spinach and feta.

Fresh mozzarella

Shredded parmesan cheese (sprinkled)-The pictures don’t show the parmesan, as it was a last minute addition.

1 handful of fresh spinach

Italian seasoning to taste

Directions:

1.) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2.) Place flatbread on a cookie sheet and spread pesto sauce evenly.  Then top with tomato sauce.

3.) Place a thin layer of spinach across the entire pizza.

4.) Add fresh mozzarella, shredded parmesan and chopped chicken sausage.

5.) Top with italian seasoning.

6.) Bake for 10-12 minutes, and broil on low for the last 3 minutes, or until crispy on the edges.

 

There are so many different pizza combinations, and I can’t wait to keep exploring the possibilities!!

*****

This morning started out with a new concoction that my friend Katie suggested to me she tried out the recipe from the Heather Eats Almond Butter blog.  I made something similar with an added twist.

Chia Oat Bran Breakfast.

Using my new oat bran, I cooked a 1/2 cup of oat bran with 1 cup of water on the stove in a sauce pan.

This took about 3-5 minutes until all of the water was absorbed.  Then I stirred in approximately 1 Tablespoon of chia seeds and poured it into a bowl.

I topped my oats with wheat germ, a scoop of almond butter and 1 Tablespoon of melted coconut butter.  There isn’t a ton of flavor, but the butters help.  I’m not picky with flavors as long as I know things are good for me. :)

Now I’m trying to find the motivation for a nice afternoon walk before it’s time to work on dinner.  I’m hoping for another cookout with my mom and grandpa and currently have a pork loin marinating in the fridge.  I’ll be back with an update and pictures of the finished product.  Enjoy the rest of your Sunday!

 

 

Living with the Unknown

22 Mar

I did it again!!!  I went for another 4 mile walk tonight after school, but this time I went alone.  For some, this may not seem like a big accomplishment, and for others, it would be a great goal.  For me, it’s something I feel really good about doing.  It lasted about an hour, and for the most part, I felt really relaxed and happy with myself and my body.  My legs were itching for most of the walk though, and I’m thinking it’s because of allergies and all of the stuff flying in the air.  On Monday my throat hurt, and my eyes have been puffy all week.  Allergies seem to make the most sense.

In other news, tomorrow marks the end of three weeks of student teaching, and I honestly can’t believe it!  Unfortunately I still don’t feel like I’ve done much of anything and don’t feel like I’ve gotten to know the students all that well either.  I’ve been questioning my future a lot lately, and it’s something that I think about on a daily basis.  Although I will be a licensed teacher, I don’t always know if a junior high or high school setting is right for me.  I could go on and on, but right now things are out of my control.

Korey and I are constantly trying to imagine what our future holds…where we will be, where we will work, etc…  All that is certain at this point is that we’ll be together, and that is what’s most important.  It’s so nice knowing I’ll always have him to be there for me when times are tough and things are unknown.

Okay, sorry for the serious conversation, but it’s a necessary evil and something that is constantly weighing on my mind.

Speaking of things that are constantly on my mind… let’s talk about food!  Unfortunately there are days when I just can’t get food out of my brain.  I’m constantly living for the next meal, and it really needs to stop!  Ever since my mom’s Bunco party the other night, I have been craving the mediterranean hummus dip that I created.  Since I’ve been obsessed with hummus lately, and after being inspired by other bloggers, I decided to try using hummus as my salad dressing today.  Trust me, I wasn’t disappointed.  There are so many varieties of hummus that are packed with flavor, and I feel like it’s so much healthier than actual dressing too.

I chose to use the Sabra Roasted Pine Nut Hummus, which is my absolute favorite.

My salad a mix of spinach and romaine topped with sunflower seeds, hard boiled eggs and almonds.  Sorry I forgot to snap a picture.  I’m not used to being a new food blogger and having my camera with me at all times. :)  Bare with me!

Other than that, my day was the same as usual.  As always, I’m looking forward to Friday because it means out to dinner with the family.  I used to go out to eat a ton more, but now that I’ve got my mom on the healthy living kick, we try to cook as many meals at home as possible.

Well, the allergies are starting to kick in again, and I’m thoroughly exhausted.  It’s time to kick back and relax… and maybe munch on some snacky food.    

Mouth-Watering Meals

21 Mar

Well we’ve made it over the hump… I’m so glad to say that it’s almost Thursday.  Luckily this week has gone pretty fast, and lets hope it keeps up!

After school today, my mom and I headed out for a nice, long 4 mile walk.  We chose to take the same route Korey and I took on Sunday.  It was the perfect walking weather with a nice breeze.  After a frustrating day, the walk was essential in order to get rid of my frustration!

When we arrived home, our legs were feeling tired, but our stomachs were also grumbling!  As badly as we wanted to sit down and rest, we knew we needed to throw together some dinner.  Lucky for me, my mom took more initiative and put together a chicken and veggie salad that definitely hit the spot.

Packed with nutrients :)

This salad had grilled lemon pepper chicken, carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers, slivered almonds, and avocado.  I topped mine with a raspberry walnut dressing.

*****

After dinner came the inevitable…taxes.  My mom and I have been procrastinating for the past few months, but we knew tonight was the night.  It’s a long process that involves me sitting in front of the computer for several hours typing while my mom reads me information.  We also help do my brother’s taxes, so 3 sets of taxes=no fun!  Not only that, but half of the time we can’t find the papers we need.  (Note to Korey…..when we get married, we will keep important documents in a folder so nothing gets lost!)  You can thank me later. :)

Half way through our taxes we had an unexpected surprise.  My brother’s girlfriend, Mandy, is home for spring break this week, so she stopped over to visit.

Mandy and I.

That is a waaaaay old picture, but a cute one none-the-less.  I’m so glad we got to catch up!

*****

Before I let you go, (and let myself go and get some much needed sleep!), I have one more new recipe for you that I created for last night’s Bunco party.

Flatbread Margerita Pizza:

Ingredients:

1 flatbread

1 roma tomato (thinly sliced)

1/4- 1/2 cup tomato sauce

1/8 cup fresh basil (chopped)

Shredded parmesan cheese (sprinkled)

Fresh mozzarella

Italian seasoning (to taste)

**Ingredient amounts are approximate.  Feel free to add more or less as you wish!

Directions:

1.) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2.) Lay flatbread on a baking sheet, and spread a thin layer of sauce.

3.) Add tomato slices, shredded basil, cheeses and seasoning evenly to the sauce.

4.) Bake for 10-15 minutes, and broil in order to crisp the edges and the top.

Artisan-Style Flatbread.

I chose to use the One-Republic brand, however any thin flatbread would work.

Thinly sliced tomatoes are key!

The next few pictures describe the way that I chop the basil.  It creates thin ribbons of basil that are great for sprinkling!

Take several basil leaves and fold them in half.

Roll the basil leaves tightly into a tube shape.

With a knife, slice off small pieces of basil.

Fresh basil is one of my favorite fresh herbs, and a necessary ingredient for a margarita pizza.

Flatbread with all of the toppings.

This was a huge hit at the party, and everyone thought it was amazing!  For an improv recipe, I’d say it went well. :)

Yumm!

In case you’re not familiar with fresh mozzarella, here are a few images of different varieties below.

Large mozzarella ball.

Small mozzarella pearls.

The fresh mozzarella comes in either a large ball or small pearls.  Either variety works, though.  I used the pearls for my recipe and chopped them in half.  However, it may be easier to use thin slices from the large ball.

Re-living this recipe is making my mouth water!  I better head to bed before I give in to my cravings. :)

Two Great Snack Recipes

20 Mar

Today has been yet another beautiful day!!!  I still can’t believe how lucky we are to be enjoying this type of weather in March in Wisconsin.  I don’t know about you, but sunny days just make my day brighter. :)  (No pun intended)

Last night my mom and I spent several hours preparing for a get-together she will be having at our house tonight.  There are a group of 12 moms who get together and play the dice game, Bunco, once a month at a different house.  Well tonight it’s my moms turn.  It seems like every time it’s bunco at our house, I just so happen to be home.  It’s a win-win situation because my mom appreciates my help with the food preparation, and I love to cook!  It’s also an added bonus for all of you because you get to enjoy some wonderful new recipes.

We are planning to place small bowls of White Chocolate Popcorn on all of the tables for the women to snack on.

White Chocolate Popcorn:

Ingredients:

1 1/2 bags of plain microwave popcorn

8 oz. of Baker’s white chocolate

1 cup almonds

1 cup craisins

1/2 Tablespoon cinnamon

I also added a bit of food coloring to make it pink. :)

Directions:

1.) Pop popcorn in microwave.

2.) Melt white chocolate in a double boiler on the stove top.

3.) Add food coloring if desired.

3.) Stir in cinnamon, almonds and craisins.

4.) Store in a sealer contained, and place in the refrigerator to cool before serving.  I left mine in the fridge until I was ready to eat it.

I think it’s going to be a big hit!!

We also made a Greek Hummus Dip after having something similar several weeks ago.

Greek Hummus Dip:

Ingredients:

1 cup hummus (flavor of your choice)

1/4 cup kalamata olives, chopped

1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

1 roma tomato, diced,

1/2 cup cucumber, diced

1 Tablespoon of chopped cilantro

Pita Chips

 

Directions:

1.) Spread hummus on the bottom of a round or oval platter.

2.) Layer remaining ingredients on top of hummus.

3.) Chill in fridge until you are ready to serve.

4.) Serve with pita chips or veggies.

*****

That’s all of the recipe previews I have for you tonight.  Tomorrow I will have more for you.  :)  Enjoy your evenings!

An Unforgettable Year

19 Mar

March 19th, 2012…one year ago today I was out on my first date with the most wonderful person I’ve ever met.  Any guesses?!

Yep, you guessed it… today is my one year anniversary with Korey.  Boy, it has been one of the greatest years of my life.  We have been through so many fun and exciting things over the past year, so I thought I would dedicate this post to our relationship.

****

There are several things that have played a big role in our relationship, and I feel like they’re worth mentioning.

Travel:

While being single, Korey has gotten the opportunity to travel to many places.  I had only gone a few places before I met Korey, so it’s been amazing to see more of the world together.  Our first trip together back in May was to Florida as a celebration of my graduation.

Florida, 2011-St. Petersburg

Korey was lucky enough to be the first one to get me to do something daring!!  I gave in to jet skiing, and it was totally worth it.

Our next long getaway took us to Las Vegas.  Although this was not the first time for Korey, it was my first time.  In Vegas, Korey and I realized just how similar we really are, and it brought us that much closer.

Vegas-2012

Our next trip together will probably be for our honeymoon, and trust me, the ideas have been flowing!! :)

Sports:

Sports have also played a large role in our relationship in the past year.  Korey grew up playing baseball, and I always loved watching my brother play hockey.  We realized that over the past year, we have been to a professional football game, a professional hockey game, a professional basketball game and a professional baseball game…or 2…or 5. :)

Packer Game-August, 2011

Brewer Game-Summer, 2011

Tampa Bay Rays Game-May, 2011

I have a feeling more sports will be in our future, and I’m 100% okay with that!!!

 

Sunshine and summer time:

Korey and I knew from the first day we met that we both loved being outdoors in the sun, and by the water.  It’s been great to be able to soak up the sun together.

Boating-summer, 2011

Hiking

Tail gaiting

Beautiful Las Vegas

Food:  

Everyone that knows Korey will tell you that he is hungry every few hours, and it just so happens that I follow a similar pattern.  If it isn’t apparent from my blog, I am in love with food.  Everyone that knows me, can attest to this… just another reason why we’re meant to be. :)  Along with our sports, traveling and sunshine, this past year has brought with it new foods and restaurants.

Snappers Restaurant-St. Petersburg, Florida

Enjoying ice cream by the beach.

We often have to set limits on the times we go out to eat together, but if it was up to us, we’d go out for every meal!  However, we still find time to make meals at home.  Despite the fact that my foods may look frightening at times, Korey has never hesitated to try, and I love him for that.

Black Bean Veggie Burgers

Almond flour pizza crust.

Chicken tortilla soup.

Love:

Last but not least, this last year has been filled with a lot of love.  From flowers, to sweet cards, romantic walks and sunset proposals, this year was definitely unforgettable.

I have one person to thank for that.  Happy anniversary, Korey.  I love you more than you know.  I wouldn’t have it any other way.  I can’t wait to see what the next year has in store for us.  <3

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