Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Easter Cupakes

So I have pretty much been named the "baker" according to my husbands office. They know that every holiday he will be bringing themed cupcakes. I don't mind. I enjoy doing it! I don't feel like a great baker by any means, but I'm glad they like them! So the Friday before Easter I baked cupcakes for his office. I just bought some pastel colored sugar pearls for decorations. I thought they were cute and simple. I also made a batch for family for Easter as well. Nothing too fancy but everyone seemed to love them!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Water for Elephants

Its rare that I find a book that I CANNOT put down, and I get very emotional about. Might sound silly, but the first book(s) that I felt that way about was the Twilight saga books. I know they have a bad rap for those who are not fans, but I don't care. If you know me, you know what a big Twilight fan I am. Over the years though, I am not as "obsessed" as I once was, but am still a lover of the series. So moving on..

Last week it happened again. This time with Water For Elephants. I have had the book for a couple years now, but its not the typical genre I read so for whatever reason I never picked it up. Well, the movie came out this last Friday, and I was invited to go with a group of friends to opening night. So I KNEW that if I didn't read the book prior to seeing the film that I wouldn't read it. I've had that problem before, and I always would prefer reading a book before seeing the movie. I'm not one of those people who get really critical about changes in the movie, I just love seeing the characters "alive" on screen and being able to understand the characters more as well. So I was talking to my good friend Amanda, who had read it before, and she told me I had to read it before Friday. So we figured if I read 60 pages a day I could finish it before we go. I anticipated not being TOO into the book and having to force myself to read it everyday which is how I have been with all books for about a year or so now. So I picked it up right after we talked and by the time I looked down to see what page I was on I was already past the 100 page mark. I could not put it down! I cried multiple times, for happy and SAD reasons, and ended up finishing it after a day and a half. I even cried when I finished simply because what a GREAT story it was. FYI though, as an animal lover, it was a TOUGH read in certain parts but I can't tell you how much I loved this book. I almost wanted to start reading it over AGAIN as soon as I finished it! So of course, I was even MORE excited to see the movie Friday. I knew they were going to change some things for time of course, and let me tell you. They did an AMAZING job. It flowed so great. I am a crier, I cry at everything, so it is no surprise I cried during the movie BUT, I have never cried so much in a movie before. TITANIC included! I think I cried 90% of the movie. My eyes seemed to be welded up the whole time, and when they weren't just weld up they were streaming down my cheeks! I find it funny that my two FAVORITE books that were turned into movies have Robert Pattinson as the lead. :) He did SUCH a great job in this movie. I don't think I thought of Twilight or Edward once while watching it.

So I definitely definitely recommend the book AND movie. Just make sure you keep tissues with you ;)

I haven't uploaded my pictures from the night, but my friend took this with her iPad with all of us at California Pizza Kitchen after the movie...

Friday, April 15, 2011

99 years ago today...

Today is the 99 year anniversary of the sinking of Titanic. If you know me, you probably have a slight idea that I am a huge Titanic buff. I have been since I was a teenager. I got my first book about it around 6th grade maybe and was hooked every since. Especially the movie. I could probably recite it line by line. I can't tell you how many times I've seen it. (I'm even watching it right this moment in memory of the 99 year anniversary).

Over the years I've collected many different things, mostly from the traveling Titanic exhibit. I have gone to it I believe 6 times. Maybe one or two times more than that. I've seen it in LA, Las Vegas, and when it was on board the Queen Mary in Long Beach (where I was married). Let me tell you, seeing the exhibit on board The Queen Mary is QUITE the experience. Being on the ship you can imagine what it was like to be on the Titanic. My first trip to the Queen Mary was my 6th Grade graduation present from my parents. Probably one of the best gifts they ever gave me. We spent the weekend on the ship and it was amazing. I've been going back ever since and funny enough, it was the first place I ever went to with my husband back when I was 14 years old. I was lucky enough to find someone who shared my love for the Titanic and also fell in love with The Queen Mary as I did.

For my 14th Birthday my parents took me to LA to see the Titanic exhibit for the first time, it was simply amazing. To see the unbroken plates, clothes, wine bottles with wine still in them, to see and still smell perfume samples that a salesman had on the ship, and most of all an actual piece of the side of the ship. Its so beautifully haunting. It was life changing for me. That may sound cheesy but its true.

Then for my high school graduation my parents flew my husband and I to Vegas for the day to go see the exhibit again at the Tropicana. It was so fun. Great location for the exhibit as well for the space.

Right after high school I got my first job. And guess what I bought with my first paycheck? Yup, Titanic stuff. I believe I went on ebay and bought some documentaries.

For my 21st birthday my dad and siblings told me I had to go to Vegas. It was a rule! A tradition! I don't drink or gamble so I really had no interest at all. Then, I found out the exhibit was back at the Tropicana, so I agreed to the trip! :) It was great because I was able to see the exhibit again with my parents. It was a great birthday.

Over the years we had seen it a few times while it was on the Queen Mary as well.

One of my most prized possessions I have in GENERAL, is something about the Titanic. A few years ago, my old boss gave me a first edition of the book "Sinking of the Titanic" it was a memorial edition and came out in 1912 after the sinking. I am a huge nerd when it comes to vintage or old things, ESPECIALLY books, and the fact it was a Titanic book just about blew my mind. It is written in, I don't know who the people are, I wish I did! Makes me wonder if maybe they knew someone who was on the ship.

I took a couple pictures of a few things I have, but trust me, its not where near all of what I've acquired over the years. :)

I can't believe its been almost 100 years since the sinking. I really hope its something our society doesn't forget.

Homemade Lasagna

*1 pound ground beef
*1 pound hot breakfast sausage
*4-5 garlic cloves minced
*1 28oz can crushed tomatoes
*2 cans tomato paste
*1/2 tablespoon dried parsley
*1/2 tablespoon dried oregano
*1 teaspoon salt
*2-3 cups cottage cheese (or ricotta, I'll talk about this later)
*2 beaten eggs
*1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
*1 tablespoon (separate from the other one above) parsley
*1 teaspoon salt
*2 packages sliced mozzarella cheese
*lasagna noodles
*half of a medium onion, diced

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Dice your onion and mince the garlic.

In a large pan, saute the beef, sausage, onion and garlic until brown. Drain the fat, or leave a little if you feel like.

Add the tomato paste, let cook down for a few minutes.

Add the crushed tomatoes and seasonings.

Let cook for around 30 minutes at the minimum.

In a medium bowl combine beaten eggs, cottage cheese, Parmesan cheese, and parsley. Now, this lasagna tends to be a tad runny, and I believe that is due to the cottage cheese. If you prefer, you can use ricotta in place of this and I think it would stay a little more firm. I for one am not a fan of ricotta which is why I use the cottage cheese. But I think just to test next time I make this I will try the ricotta to see how that goes. Set aside.

You can use no boil noodles (which I usually do) or the kind you cook.

When assembling, before you add the noodles, add just a little sauce to the bottom of your pan.

Arrange the noodles to cover the bottom of the pan. Add half off your cottage cheese or ricotta mixture over the noodles.

Then add one whole package of the sliced mozzarella cheese. (I had another package of shredded mozzarella cheese as well to go on the top but my husband requested I add some on TOP of the slices as well, he likes his lasagna cheesy) ;)

Next add the sauce.

Repeat one more layer and FINISH with the sauce.

Then add some shredded mozzarella cheese and sprinkle some Parmesan if wanted on top.

If using NON BOIL noodles cook for around 40-45 minutes. (Unless your package of no boil noodles claims different) or around 30 minutes for cooked noodles.


Saturday, April 9, 2011

Pasta with a cream sauce, ham and peas :)

So I went to my little local Italian market this past week to get some inspiration (by inspiration I mean their clam shell cookies, so.freaking.good.) but I also went to really get some freshly shaved meats for hubby's lunches. I decided to also make a pasta dish and get some ingredients while I was there, so I also got some shaved ham. I don't remember the name but I know it had something to do with tomato basil, so you know it was yummy :) I love our little Italian market, the people are so friendly and you get samples of everything! So I picked up some heavy cream, shallots, garlic, some fun different pasta, and some peas. That's it! Super simple. And it was delicioussss!

*1-2 shallots diced (you can use onion if you don't have shallots)
*3 garlic cloves minced
*3 tablespoons butter
*6 ham slices, rolled and sliced
*1 cup heavy cream
*1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
*1/2 tablespoon olive oil
*1/2 cup (give or take) frozen peas
*1 pound pasta
*Pepper to taste

This is the pasta I used...

And here is a closer look of the ham...

To slice the ham, roll a couple slices together, and slice in strips...

Dice your shallots and mince your garlic.

Saute garlic and shallots in butter with olive oil. (if you hadn't already, make sure you start to boil your water)

After a few minutes, add the ham slices.

Once boiling, add your pasta and let cook for amount of time package calls for.

After letting the ham, shallots and garlic come together for around 5-7 minutes. Add your cream, cheese and peas. Add however much black pepper you like as well.

Let thicken up. Cook for about another 10 minutes, medium low.

Toss with pasta! :)

And serve!


Monday, April 4, 2011

Quick and Easy Taco Salad & Rice

So this recipe I have cooked since I moved out at 18 years old. Why? Because when I lived at home, it was one of the few meals I actually KNEW how to cook at my moms. My mom was always very busy, even though she was a stay at home mom, she ran a business in our backyard. My parents have a horse boarding facility in their backyard so she was busy pretty much all day until the horses were fed at night. So when it came time for meals, either I cooked it, or it needed to be on the quick side. Its always been a meal I've loved, along with my husband, and its totally easy and fast. I have made a few changes though, which you can as well! This night I used the Lawrey's Taco Spice packet, but if you google that, you can find the recipe to find out the spices used and make your own. I do both. Sometimes I buy the packet, sometimes I make my own. Whatever you want to do :) My husband favors the flavor the spice packet gives for some reason, so more often than not I like to use the packet.

Ive done quite a few mexican rice recipes, I use this recipe if I want something super simple.

For Salad:
*1 head of iceburg lettuce (or whatever kind you prefer)
*1 pound of ground beef
*Taco Seasoning Spice Packet
*1 small-medium onion diced
*1 bell pepper diced
*2 carrots diced
*2 garlic cloves minced
*2/3 cup water
*Grated cheddar cheese to top
*Sour Cream to top

For Rice:
*2-3 tablespoons butter
*1 cup long grain rice
*2 cups chicken broth
*3/4 cup your favorite salsa (I use a salsa verde)
*1/2 teaspoon chili powder
*1/4 cup diced onions
*Salt to taste
*Pinch of cumin

In a large pan combine all ingredients in the pan. Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to simmer for 25 minutes. That's it!

Taco Salad:
Add just a small amount (barely a tablespoon) of olive oil in a large pan. Add the diced vegetables and cook on medium-high heat for 1 minute or so. Add ground beef, salt and pepper and brown.

Add garlic and cook for about 2 minutes.

Drain fat, then add the spice packet along with water. Stir and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered for about 5 minutes.

Let sit for a minute or two to let the sauce thicken up a bit.

Serve over lettuce, and add your favorite toppings! I just added cheese, salsa and a little sour cream. We add the rice into the salad as well. If you rather you can add it as a side dish.