Friday, March 30, 2012

Stain Free Tupperware


Chili and spaghetti sauce permanently staining your Tupperware containers orange? There is an easy fix! 


All you have to do is spray the inside of your containers with a non-stick cooking spray before pouring in the sauce. Voila! You won’t ever have to throw out another orangey container again!
 Easy, right?!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Simply Homemade Bread


Love the taste and aroma of fresh baked bread, but don't have the time to make it? I have a scrumptious recipe for homemade bread that takes less than an hour to make, with only 3 simple steps and requires no kneading! 


Italian Herb Bread 

Made with a special blend of traditional Italian herbs, this flavorful bread is an excellent choice to pair with your favorite Italian dish or alongside a bowl of soup. You can even serve it as an appetizer with olive oil for dipping.

Ready for my secret recipe?


Yup! Fleischmann's Simply Homemade Bread Mix! This bread is the best mix I've tried and comes in 4 delicious flavors {Italian Herb, Country White, Stoneground Wheat, and Multi-Grain}.

Just stir, rise, bake and enjoy!

Monday, March 26, 2012

How to Frost a Cupcake


Here is an easy tutorial for frosting a cupcake using a 1M tip and cream cheese icing.


 



Red Velvet Cupcakes & Cream Cheese Icing

Cupcake Ingredients

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 tablespoons red food coloring
1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Cream Cheese Frosting Ingredients

1 pound cream cheese, softened
2 sticks butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar

Directions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 (12-cup) muffin pans with cupcake papers.

In a medium mixing bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder. In a large bowl gently beat together the oil, buttermilk, eggs, food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla with a handheld electric mixer. Add the sifted dry ingredients to the wet and mix until smooth and thoroughly combined.

Divide the batter evenly among the cupcake tins about 2/3 filled. Bake in oven for about 20 to 22 minutes, turning the pans once, half way through. Test the cupcakes with a toothpick for doneness. Remove from oven and cool completely before frosting.

For the Cream Cheese Frosting:

In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, butter and vanilla together until smooth. Add the sugar and on low speed, beat until incorporated. Increase the speed to high and mix until very light and fluffy. 

 And now,  how not to frost a cupcake.
I left Matt the last cupcake to ice. He went with the "use as much icing as possible" technique.
Happy Monday, friends!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Unexpected House Guests


Have you ever had a guest show up unexpectedly to your house? Last weekend, we had two!


Our first guest, Mr. Sticky Fingers, showed up after 5 hours of yard work. After planting dozens of bushes and flowers in the yard, Matt grabbed the watering can, only to find this cute little tree frog. 

He was safely returned to a tree in our backyard.

Later that day, we went to check the mail...


only to find a bird's nest!! Look deeeeeep inside....


not just a nest, but eggs too!


Naturally, we welcomed our new guests and even posted a little sign for the mailman to let him know they are here too.

Has spring brought you any unexpected guests? 

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Charlotte Blogger Wine Night

Last night 12 Charlotte bloggers came together for a glass {or 4} of wine at Aroojis Wine Room in South Park. The night could not have been more amazing.
Aroojis offers an incredible {unadvertised} deal of three "2 ounce" wine pours, plus the chef's daily special for $14.95.  
Some of the girls I had met before, others I had not. Regardless, I felt like I've known all of them forever

Top from L to R:  KatieAprilAnnieKateSaraMaranLulu
Bottom from L to R: Michelle, Christina Sarah, Dee
 You know you're a blogger when...
you are totally unafraid to use your self-timer.

What a fantastic night with amazing girls! Thanks April for making this happen!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Quinoa Squash Pilaf


If you have not tried quinoa yet, this is the {vegan friendly} dish to start with! Full of flavor and nutritious ingredients, this recipe is sure to be a new favorite! 

 
{Note: Look for quinoa in the cereal, rice or organic food aisle of your grocery store}


INGREDIENTS

{1} cup quinoa
{1} 14.5 oz can vegetable broth
{1/4} cup water
{1} large zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced
{2} medium yellow summer squash, halved lengthwise and sliced
{3} garlic cloves, minced
{1} tbl minced fresh cilantro
{1/2} tsp salt
{1/2} tsp dried oregano
{1/2} tsp ground cumin
{1/2} tsp chili powder
{1/4} tsp pepper
{1/8} tsp crushed red pepper flakes
{2} cups fresh baby spinach, chopped
{1} 15 oz can black beans

DIRECTIONS

In a small saucepan, bring broth and water to a boil. Add quinoa. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 12-15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. 

In a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray, saute the zucchini, and yellow squash in spray until vegetables are tender. Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer. Stir in black beans, cilantro, seasonings and quinoa; heat through. Add spinach; cook and stir until spinach is wilted. 

Yield: 8 servings.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Spring has Sprung!

Happy First Day of Spring, Y'all! 

There is so much to love about springtime, but here are just a few of my favorite things...

 spending time outdoors
 watching pops of color bloom everywhere
 pastels
 picnics
and of course, EASTER!

What are you looking forward to most about this spring?

Monday, March 19, 2012

DIY Herb Garden

Don't miss out on growing your own herbs this spring! If you have never grown herbs before, I highly recommend it. There is nothing more satisfying and simple than snipping from your garden for fresh flavor. I don't have a very green thumb, but I have managed to keep my herbs alive the past several years {click here for my 2011 garden}. 

This year I decided to change things up and plant all my herbs in one big bucket.

An entire pot of fresh herbs will cost you about the same price as buying them per bunch in the store for one recipe.
Each year I pick a different variety, and this year I decided to focus practically upon the herbs that we really use most in the kitchen: Mint, Parsley, Cilantro, Rosemary, Cilantro and Basil. Each herb cost $3.48 from Home Depot.
We mixed the cheapest soil we could find at Walmart {$1.98/bag}, with old soil from our old herb pots and fertilizer.
Our wood barrel came from Home Depot last season, on sale for $20. It is so important to drill extra holes in the bottom of your pot to promote adequate drainage.
Note: If you are worried about your pot getting too heavy, or requiring too much soil, you can fill the first half with packaging peanuts, plastic water bottles, rocks, or soda cans {says the gardening experts I found on google}. 
Make sure to place your pot in an area where it will receive direct sun most of the day. It is also a good idea to map out your herb placement! We did a dry run with the taller herbs {cilantro & parsley} in the back, and the shortest herb {oregano} in the front. 
Dig a small hole, deep down. Remove one of the plants from its nursery container. Gently loosen the soil around its roots. You don't want to tear the roots apart - just loosen them up a bit. Put in the hole and pack about an inch of dirt over top of the root ball. Repeat for the other plants, giving them several inches of room between each other.  
Water when finished.
  Label your herbs! I wrote on jumbo craft sticks {$1.78/pk at Walmart}.
 Do not over water; pour in a cup of water only when leaves look droopy. 

 {Note: For cooking, cut leaves and stems off the tops first - not the sides.}

What are you planting this year? 

Thursday, March 15, 2012

BYOT


Earlier this week my small group leader hosted a "Bring Your Own Topping" salad dinner for a group of 10 girls. It was such a great idea. Each girl signed up {using this online tool} to bring their favorite salad topping or dressing, and voila, we had the most delicious salad bar to pick from. 

 1. Choose your lettuce
2. Pile on your favorite toppings
3. Top with grilled marinated chicken
4. Pour on your favorite dressing
5. Enjoy with good friends

Great idea, right? You could even incorporate this "potluck style" dinner with pizza toppings or tacos! Plus it is an inexpensive way to have a delicious, no hassle, dinner!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

St. Patrick's Day

St. Patrick's Day is this Saturday, March 17th! With green being one of my favorite colors, an Irish celebration is the perfect excuse to bake, decorate and craft! Here are a few pins I have been collecting for the occasion.



Leprechaun Cookie Bark {recipe}


Shamrock Chips {recipe}


Rag Wreath {tutorial}


Irish Mojito {recipe}  


Lucky Spinach Quiche {recipe}


Lucky You Cupcake Topper {free printable} 


Mint Chocolate Chip Cookies {recipe} 


Irish Cream Sugar Scrub {recipe}

  
Happy {early} St. Patty's Day, Friends!
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