Friday, October 31, 2014

Happy Halloween........Bark

Happy Halloween everyone! Halloween has always been fun for me no matter what I have been doing. I have dressed up many years, obviously for trick or treating in younger years and parties in adult years, dressed up to pass out candy, and just sat back and watched everyone else dress up and get excited. No matter what your stance, you probably do some sort of celebrating or decorating. Why not make this easy and delicious bark that is super festive and you can use many things you already have. It is perfect for snacking on around your house or taking to a Halloween party! You can use various kinds of chocolate (dark, white, semi-sweet, just one, two, etc.). You can also use candy or sprinkles you have already. I used Halloween Oreos because I feel like we always have Oreos around the house and candy corn, but you can use any candy you have (hello leftover candy from trick or treating). Use your imagination and enjoy!

Halloween Bark

Ingredients
12 ounce bag semi-sweet chocolate chips
12 ounce bag white chocolate chips
about 10 Oreos, broken in pieces 
about 1/4 cup candy corn
Halloween sprinkles 

Prepare a sheet pan with foil. Place about 3/4 of the broken Oreos scatter about on the foil. 

Heat the semi-sweet chocolate chips over medium-low heat in a saucepan, stirring constantly, until completely melted. Pour that on the prepared pan with the Oreos. Smoothing all around until it is as thin as desired (the thicker it is, the harder it will be to break apart). Place in the refrigerator until hardened (about 20-30 minutes). 

Heat the white chocolate chip in a separate saucepan, the same as you did the semi-sweet. Once melted, pour that over the already hardened semi-sweet chocolate. If it is really hot, it can start melting the semi-sweet chocolate and they can combine (just a heads up, it is ok, but you can let it cool slightly if you don't want them to mix very much). Once you have it on and spread out, place the ready of the Oreos scattered around, the candy corn, and the sprinkles. You can press slightly on the bigger pieces to help them set in the chocolate. Place back in the refrigerator until set (again, about 20-30 minutes).

Once set, remove from refrigerator and break apart. Since mine was on one pice of foil, I hit it on the counter a couple times. You can also use a knife to break it apart or your hands (though it may get a little messy as the chocolate melts).   




This was a craft/halloween fun I was having. I bought my husband his favorite bourbon and dressed it like a ghost. For that I uses part of a pool noodle (I had it on hand) and cut up and old white T-shirt. Then I drew on the eyes and mouth with a sharpie and added the signs. 


I saw someone post a picture of Halloween glasses they bought and I thought "Hey I can make that". I printed off Jack-O-Lantern faces, cut them out and taped them on. If we thought it was fun because we could pick out our eyes, noses, and mouths, imagine how cool kids would think it was. If it is a tradition we continue, I might look into making them so they are reusable, but for right now they are one time use. They can be used on any type of glass so have fun with it! I hope these gave you some ideas for a fun Halloween! 


Thursday, October 30, 2014

Pumpkin Spice Crunch Cake

If you haven't noticed from previous posts.......I just love fall! The weather is perfect and the colors of the leaves outside are absolutely gorgeous! Now I don't go over the top crazy with making or getting pumpkin everything, but I do like a taste here and there. I made this recipe, found here, because I hadn't seen my husband eat anything pumpkin and actually he wasn't even sure if he liked pumpkin so I thought this would be a good start. The verdict......he liked it enough to eat it. It wasn't a love, but I'll still take it! I thought it was really great and the spice cake helped dull the pumpkin flavor slightly. Plus, can you really go wrong with cream cheese frosting and toffee? So if you have picky pumpkin eaters, or are looking for a different pumpkin recipe, try this one out! Enjoy!



Pumpkin Spice Crunch Cake
(for 2 9x13 pans)

Ingredients
29 ounce can pumpkin, unsweetened 
1 box spice cake mix (plus ingredients indicated on box)
8 ounce bag of toffee bits
1 container cream cheese frosting

*If you want to make one cake simply use half of what is stated. Everything is easy to half, except when it came to my cake mix, it indicated to use 3 eggs. I halved it and used only 1 egg and it turned out just fine.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 1 or 2 (depending on how many cakes you want to make) pans with spray. 

*See note above if making one cake. Mix the cake batter according to box directions. Add the toffee bits, reserving about 1/4 cup for the topping. Add the pumpkin and combine. 

Pour the mixture into your pan(s) about 1/2 to 3/4 full. Bake for about 45 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. 

Let them cool. Frost with the cream cheese frosting and sprinkle with reserved toffee bits.


Wednesday, October 29, 2014

October Birchbox Review: Camille Beckman Tuscan Honey Hand Therapy




In my August Birchbox I received the Harvey Prince Body Cream and stated in my post that I am really not a good person to review lotions because I hardly use them. Well, while I still don't think I can do a review that would do the product justice, I have started using lotions more. This lotion by Camille Beckman is wonderful! I have been using it constantly seeing as the weather has been getting a little more dry and I have needed the moisture! It is slightly think, but absorbs into the skin quickly, leaving it nice and soft, not greasy. I also love the smell. It isn't too overpowering, but has a nice subtle fragrance. It comes in three other scents besides the Tuscan Honey that I received, so if you like the hand cream, but not the scent, there are other options. And just look at that packaging! It is the cutest thing I have seen! While the actual product isn't packages the same (it comes in a squeeze bottle), it is still perfect for throwing in you purse. As I am learning that I need a little bit of everything in my purse for trips to the city, this will come in handy! Speaking of going to the city, stay tuned next week for my trip to the Birchbox store in SoHo! I hope everyone enjoys the rest of their week! 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

A Few More Smoothie Recipes

You may recall last Thursday I posted some of the smoothie recipes I cycle through on a daily basis. Well, here are a few more to give you more of a variety! I usually have my smoothie packs pre-made in a freezer bag with everything but the protein powder and liquid. It makes it super convienient when you are in a hurry. Plus, it is helpful for those fruits (like bananas) that are very ripe to the point you need to eat it or throw it away. Just pop half or the whole banana into one of your smoothie packs and it will save it! If you don't like your fruits and veggies frozen, you can assemble your smoothie the night before in your blender and place it in the refrigerator the night before. The best part is there are endless possibilities. You can use numerous fruits, veggies, and liquids in your smoothies! Enjoy!

This smoothie is a no brainer. Strawberry and banana combinations have been around for quite some time, but I still thought I would share. Sometimes we don't see the easiest things in front of us to make. It tastes like strawberry with a hint of banana. Adjust the flavors to your liking! 

Strawberry Banana

1 cup strawberries
1 banana
2 handfuls kale
scoop of protein powder
8-12 ounces unsweetened almond milk

Blend all ingredients in your blender!

I had extra apples on hand and had never tried them in a smoothie before. I figured with the strawberries I wouldn't really taste it, but it tasted just like I was drinking my Granny Smith apple and I couldn't taste the strawberry at all. I didn't mind though, I love apples!

Apple Strawberry

1 apple, fresh
1/2 cup strawberries
2 handfuls kale
8-12 ounces unsweetened almond milk
scoop of protein powder

Blend all ingredients in your blender!

This smoothie (in the corner there) is my go to smoothie. It was the first one I ever tried to start my green smoothie kick. I buy bags of frozen blueberries and strawberries and assemble my packs in one sitting so they are really easy to grab and go. Some of the others you need the ingredients fresh, but not this one!

Strawberry, Blueberry, and Banana

1/2 cup strawberries
1/2 cup blueberries
1/2 banana
scoop protein powder
2 handfuls kale
8-12 ounces unsweetened almond milk

Blend all ingredients in your blender!


Monday, October 27, 2014

Red Eye Cafe, Montclair, NJ



Last weekend I went to a new restaurant with one of my girlfriends. It's nice finding friends in the area because they let you in on all these little gems and advice about the area. I have discovered a few new restaurants that I may not have found otherwise by myself. So far, they have all been delicious and unique in their own way. The restaurant we went to for brunch was the Red Eye Cafe in Montclair, NJ. It is a tiny (it looked like it sat maybe 20 people), BYOB coffee shop with an eclectic menu (think beet tartar and shrimp & grits).  


I opted for the Chipotle Cheese sandwich (below) which was "Queso de freir with avocado, tomato, refried beans, and chipotle mayo on ciabatta bread. Served with shaved Brussels sprout, apple, red onion, and spiced walnut salad". Of course in usual brunch fashion, it was complimented with mimosas. I was throughly pleased with my selection, but can't wait to go back and try other items on their menu. They don't take reservations so if you plan on going for weekend brunch be prepared to wait (we waited about 25 minutes for 2), though it is worth it. Red Eye Cafe is also a short walk from the train station which makes it super convenient since there is no parking lot and street parking can be hard to find.

If you are in the area, I suggest you try this restaurant out if you have a moment. If you don't have time to sit down for a meal, you can get coffee and a pastry to go. Since I am a sucker for anything French, I got their Sludge coffee to go which they make through a cold brewing method and it is so good and potent! Enjoy your week! 


Thursday, October 23, 2014

A Few Smoothie Recipes

I'm letting you in on a little behind the scenes action, and an attempt to get pics off my phone, of my day to day breakfast and lunch smoothies. These are what get me to one "bad" dinner to the next without weighing 800 pounds. There may be some that you have tried before, or combinations that you haven't thought of. Feel free to give them a try and let me know what you think (the last one is my absolute favorite)! Enjoy!

This smoothie mostly tastes like blueberries with a small hint of avocado. I'm the only one who eats avocados in our house, so I will use half, put the other half in a freezer bag with a little lemon juice, mash it together, and pop it in the freezer. I use it frozen in my smoothie, but you can let it sit out for a few minutes and use it however you want!

Blueberry Avocado Smoothie

2 handfuls kale
1/2 cup blueberries
1/2 of a avocado
scoop of protein powder
8-10 ounces unsweetened almond milk 

Blend all ingredients together.


I was really surprised by this smoothie. Since I used a big juicy peach and a watery cucumber, I thought it would have a sting peach flavor. Instead, it tasted like drinking a cucumber with no hint of peach. I love cucumbers so it was fine, just not what I was expecting! 

Cucumber Peach Smoothie

2 handfuls kale
1 fresh peach
1 cucumber 
scoop of protein powder
8-10 ounces almond milk

Blend all ingredients together.


This is by far my fave smoothie! I mean it has chocolate in it so what's not to love right? Not only does it taste amazing, but it keeps you full all day! I drank one at 9am and realized when Kev came home that I never ate (drank really) anything else all day and I wasn't hungry! This one is a must try in my book! 

Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Smoothie

2 cups crushed ice 
1/2 cup water
1/3 cup chocolate chips
scoop of protein powder
1/3-1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
1/4 cup 1% milk
1 Tablespoon peanut butter
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla 

If you need to crush your ice, do that first in your blender. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend together. 


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

October Birchbox Review: ModelCo Party Proof Lipstick


I had been looking for a nude lipstick for quite some time. I always saw ones that other people recommended or pinned on Pinterest, but I was always too hesitant to try one. Normally I go for a ip balm with a hint of color (Sugar is my fave, I have many colors), a lip stain in a pink color (Stainiac from Birchbox is my fave), or something bold like hot pink (my fave in this category is Make Up Forever lip liner 16C bright fuchsia pink  with lip gloss S26 pearly electric rose on top). Nude just wasn't my thing. I didn't know where I would wear it to buy an expensive one, yet if I went to a drugstore, I never liked any of the shades. It was quite the conundrum, so I just gave up and stuck with what I already knew and loved. As a matter of fact, the first time I put on the ModelCo lipstick (in Kitty) I hated it. It wasn't my first choice, but the other lip glosses were taken, so I was like great I'm stuck with this. A few days later, I was looking through Pinterest (surprisingly as much as I mention Pinterest I'm not on it that much anymore lol) and saw pictures of smokey eyes and nude lips. A trend I was familiar with, but hadn't tried. The pics gave me inspiration so I decided to play around. I mean what could it hurt right? My whole face was done, except for my lips. I grabbed the lipstick with a "let's get this over with" attitude, but looked closer as I was applying it and was pleasantly surprised with what I was seeing.......I loved it!!!!! I don't know what happened from the first time I tried it to this time, maybe the smokey eye, maybe taking more care in applying it, but I loved it! The color looked great, the lipstick felt great, and it had a lovely scent to it that I can't place (sort of like strawberry bubblegum). When my sample runs out (it's pretty substantial so it might be awhile) I will definitely have to get this! Below are the smokey eye with the lipstick in Kitty looks! Enjoy the rest of your week!    





Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Breakfast Quesadilla Waffle

Do you love scrambled eggs, but don't have time to sit down to enjoy them in the mornings? Do you have little ones that make a huge mess while they eat their scrambled eggs? Do you want a fast and easy breakfast that can be customized to meet your families likes? If you answered yes to any of these questions you must try this recipe out. It puts your scrambled eggs, or egg whites, into a tortilla, keeping the mess at bay. We have made them with just eggs and cheese (shown here), with cheese and sausage, and with bacon and cheese. The sky is the limit really. Try any combo of eggs, cheeses, meats, veggies, etc. There is a unique way for everyone to enjoy their favorite handheld breakfast food! I haven't personally tried this yet, but you might be able to make them ahead of time and freeze them so you can just warm them up as needed. If you try it, let me know! Enjoy your favorite combinations the next time you make eggs! 





Breakfast Quesadilla Waffle

Ingredients (for 2)
5 eggs, beaten
2 tortillas
1/2 cup cheese, shredded (1/4 cup for each)
2 Tablespoons milk
Salt and Pepper to taste
Cooking spray

Optional
bacon
sausage
variety of vegetables

Cook your scrambles eggs as you normally would. We add a little milk to ours, but cook them to your liking. While your eggs are cooking, preheat your waffle iron (we do ours to 3). 

Once your waffle iron is heated, spray with oil. Lay a tortilla on it. Top with a little cheese, half the eggs, then the remaining cheese. Fold the top half of the tortilla down and close the waffle iron. Once finished, serve warm or with any desired sauces (I used sriracha). 


Monday, October 20, 2014

Pyramid Mountain, Boonton, NJ


In an attempt to practice more outdoor photography, we set out to go to Pyramid Mountain early in the morning. There is a "golden hour" rule that most photographers follow and it takes place right after the sun rises and right before the sun sets. That is when you get really nice, softer light from the sun. Well, I was desperately trying to capture that, but by the time we found the place, it was too late. No big deal though, we still walked around and I practiced a bit. The area was absolutely beautiful and the leaves were amazing colors! It's sometimes hard since we live in a city area and so close to NYC that there is beautiful landscapes like this right around us as well. We walked around for quite a while and had the place practically to ourselves which was nice. I am really glad we found it and will continue my "golden hour" quest and to improve my photography! 






My goofball husband. I told him to give me a pose and this is what he did. He was warned I was going to post it :)



Friday, October 17, 2014

Buffalo Oven “Fried” Goat Cheese

Happy Friday everyone! Hopefully it is the end of the work week for you and you get to enjoy your weekend! We have a busy weekend going to the city and I have brunch with the ladies on Sunday, followed by Colts football! Hectic, but we spent last weekend hiking and it’s so amazing to have a good balance of the two! Speaking of Colts football, are you going to any tailgates or having a football party? If the answer is yes, you must make this appetizer! I love buffalo wings, but the thought of eating meat off the bone has always disgusted me. I don’t care when other people do it, but I just can’t bring myself to. That being said, I loved finding this recipe that had nothing to do with any meat on bones. This appetizer was just fabulous! The sauce tasted very similar to the mild sauce at Hooter’s. It was good enough to make by itself and use if you were doing buffalo wings. The goat cheese really complimented the sauce well too. It was almost like your ranch to your buffalo wings. Kev isn’t a huge goat cheese fan and he even said it was pretty good. It made the goat cheese have a milder flavor. You may notice that the ingredients are a little vague. I absolutely hate wasting food so I started off with one egg and one cup panko and it was enough for my eight ounces of goat cheese. Depending on the amount of goat cheese you may need more, but I would start off with less if you can. If you are looking for a new buffalo sauce recipe to try or don’t like meat, you should try this recipe this weekend! Enjoy!




Buffalo Oven “Fried” Goat Cheese
Ingredients
8-10 ounce goat cheese log, keep very cold1-2 whole eggs, beaten
1-2 cups panko breadcrumbs

Sauce
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cups Franks Red Hot
1 teaspoon seasoned salt

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with a silpat or aluminum foil.

Cut your goat cheese into pieces. I ended up with 16 from an 8 ounce log. You cut the log in half and then the half in half, etc. until you have the amount of pieces you desire. Using your hands roll the cheese pieces into approximately 16-24 balls and place on prepared baking sheet.

Lightly beat eggs in a small bowl. Fill a plate or shallow bowl with the panko. Dip the goat cheese balls in the beaten egg first, roll them around so they are completely covered. Then drop them into the panko. Toss the breadcrumbs onto the ball and gently roll to coat, patting slightly. Place back on prepared baking sheet. Repeat until all the goat cheese balls are coated.

Place in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden and crisp. Allow the balls to set for 10 minutes before tossing in the buffalo sauce.

While the goat cheese balls are resting from coming out of the oven, make the buffalo sauce. Combine in a medium size bowl all the ingredients for the sauce. Whisk with a fork until combined.

Once you have let the goat cheese balls sit for 10 minutes, use a fork and dip each ball in the buffalo sauce, covering completely. Drip off any excess buffalo sauce and place back on the baking sheet. Once all balls have been tossed with the buffalo sauce, place them back in the oven for 5 minutes.

Remove from the oven and let sit again for 10 minutes. You don't want them to crumble. Remove the balls from the pan and serve alongside the extra sauce you have for dipping.



Thursday, October 16, 2014

Bacon Cheeseburger Balls

There are not very many people that would pass up a good cheeseburger. I prefer mine, I'm sure like most people, hot off the grill with all the fix-in's. Unfortunately you can't always have the delicious off the grill hamburgers for various reasons. That's why I originally fell in love with this recipe, found here. Well the first time I made them, I followed the recipe as is and found that they were just alright. So, not one to give up, I decided to change a few things around to improve it a little. Instead of sprinkling the onion powder on top of all the cheese and hamburger, I decided to put it directly on the biscuits. The first time I made them I could hardly taste it and when I did it was a huge amount. This made it more uniform and you got the onion taste in each bite. If you don't like onions you can always omit the onion powder. I think it adds a little something though! I also sprinkled a little garlic powder on the top of the already rolled up balls before cooking. It sounds a little odd, you don't usually put garlic powder on cheeseburgers, but it was tasty. I used very little so there was just a hint, but it really added to the flavor. Also, if you are out of eggs, feel free to brush with butter if needed. It works just as well! Enjoy this portable cheeseburgers!  



Bacon Cheeseburger Balls 

Ingredients 
10 refrigerator biscuits
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup browned hamburger pieces
1/4 cup crispy bacon pieces
Black pepper
1 1/4 teaspoon onion powder 

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
Egg white, beaten
Parmesan cheese, grated 

Optional
Ketchup
Mustard
Pickles

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Grease a pie pan or other oven safe dish. 

Flatten the refrigerator biscuits, sprinkle with onion powder and black pepper, and then top them with the shredded cheeses, browned hamburger pieces and bacon.

Gather the edges up around the toppings and pinch together at the top, creating a seal. Place the pizza balls into the baking dish with the seam down.

Brush the tops with a beaten egg white. Sprinkle the tops with the grated Parmesan cheese and garlic powder.

Bake for about 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Serve with desired condiments while warm.


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

October Birchbox Review: SAGE + fasten Onward Eau de Parfum



Well it's Wednesday and that means the week is halfway over and it's Birchbox product review day! Now if you read my review of the Catherine Maladrino Style de Paris perfume, you would know that I go for scents that have strong rose and slight peony notes to them. So, I had low expectations that I would like the scent I received this month by Sage + fasten. However, I'm not one to just bypass an item without trying it. I put it on before leaving the house for a hike and was pleasantly surprised. I loved it! The Sage + fasten Onward Eau de Parfum smelled so refreshing and light. I could really smell the apple and grapefruit notes coming through. I kept smelling my wrist all day which is how long it lasted. I could still smell the fragrance at least 6 hours later (I forgot to check after that, but I know it was at least that long). This will definitely be a must purchase for me.....hint, hint hubby! It just goes to show that you never know what you will like until you try it! 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Quick Cinnamon Roll Waffles

If your household was anything like mine growing up, we had these Pillsbury Cinnamon Rolls quite frequently. Honestly I feel like it was about a weekly occurrence in our house. Well, if you follow me on Instagram, a few weeks ago I posted a photo of my awesome new All-Clad waffle maker and promised some recipes. Now while this isn't the crème de la crème of recipes, it is super easy and super fast and combines my childhood with my adult life. Think scrambling to get the kids ready on a school day or, in my case, husband running out the door for work. You don't have 20 to 30 minutes to prepare breakfast, so what do you do? You heat your waffle maker, pop the cinnamon rolls open, and place to inside at once that cook for 5 minutes or less. Like I said, a super easy and super quick recipe. They have the same great taste and at 140 calories a pop (with icing), they aren't too bad on your waistline. You can refrigerate what you don't use to use another day! Enjoy!


Quick Cinnamon Roll Waffles

Ingredients
Pillsbury Cinnamon Rolls (duh)
Olive Oil Spray (or whatever you use already)

Preheat your waffle maker to the setting of your choosing. I set ours to a 2 or 3 usually. When preheated, spray lightly with olive oil spray and place 2 cinnamon rolls (our is a 2 square, your may be bigger) in the waffle maker, close the top, and cook until done, about 3-5 minutes.

Place some icing on each one when they come out so it melts and serve!




Monday, October 13, 2014

Overlook Park in Paterson, NJ


As the majority of you know, or have realized, we live in New Jersey. We are fortunate enough to live in an area where we can see the NYC skyline and travel there by train usually in 20 minutes, depending on how they are running. Well this weekend we decided to check out a place that is also close to us, but in our own state. Of course the day we wanted to head out, it decides to rain the majority of the day. So there I was sitting by the window like a little kid waiting for it to let up. When it did, I hurried up and got ready like my parents told me it was alright to go out and play again. Which is pretty much the case. Photography, though frustrating some times, is like play for me. I am still so new and learning a ton. While I will never claim to have "mastered" anything, I feel pretty good about most of my food shots I take. They aren't perfect, but for the knowledge I have right now they are fine. Outdoor shots are a little more tricky for me. That's why I wanted some practice and sometimes it's tedious carrying my camera to the city. 

                       



After a quick 20 minute drive we were there. We traveled to Paterson, NJ to Overlook Park to see the Paterson Great Falls. It may not seem like much, but here in the middle of a predominately industrial city lies a roaring waterfall. Part of the park was closed off for repairs for the time being so we couldn't see how massive the waterfalls actually were, but it was such a neat little area. There were actually quite a bit of people out taking guided tours and taking pictures of the area. For me, it's the pictures and seeing the beauty that gets me. For my hubby, it's the history. He was spouting off all sorts of random facts about the area.  





For instance, the building above is the S.U.M. hydroelectric plant, which was built in the early 1900s and was designed by Thomas Edison's Electric Company.  It still powers 11,000 homes to this day. Below, is a picture of Alexander Hamilton, not only one of the founding fathers, but also the person who saw the potential for the falls in terms of potential industrial growth.  Paterson was the first planned industrial city.  Hamilton foresaw the great falls as a great place to set up future water mills which would help drive the industrial revolution. 



I hope you've enjoyed the pictures and very brief history lesson! Have a great week and I look forward to sharing more adventures next Monday! 


Friday, October 10, 2014

Chipotle Pulled Pork BBQ Sandwiches

You may recall, I did a slow cooker BBQ pork sandwich a couple months ago. Well, I still had over two pounds of pork frozen from making that recipe that I decided it was time to finally put it to use. I first made this recipe many years ago, in fact, I don't think I've made it since. That's part of my problem. I make recipes that I love and save them, meticulously organized, on my computer in their appropriate file. I then find all these amazing new recipes and want to make them that I never get back to my old faves. Well I dug this one up and I, as well as the hubs, am sure glad I did. This recipe is sort of like a quicker slow cooker meal. You throw everything in a pot, bring it to a boil, and let it simmer for 45 minutes. At that point, the pork is so tender it just falls apart. It has just a tiny bit of spice to it, nothing overpowering, but it is oh so good. Like I said earlier, I had two pounds of pork still, so I just doubled everything and made enough to freeze (see picture below) in preparation for the potential awful winter. Especially necessary since we haven't experience the NJ/NY winter yet and apparently this one is supposed to be bad. If you are looking for a meal you don't really have to mess with, or want to prepare for the winter season, try this recipe out! Have a great weekend everyone! Enjoy!



Chipotle Pulled Pork BBQ Sandwiches 


Ingredients
7 ounce can chopped chilies
1/4 cup bbq sauce
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 pound pork tenderloin, cubed
14.5 ounce diced tomatoes
1 Tablespoon olive oil
6 slices provolone
6 kaiser rolls

Optional
3 cups onion, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons fresh thyme
1 teaspoon sugar


Place chilies, bbq and next four ingredients in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil.  

Cover, reduce heat and simmer 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Uncover and cook 10 minutes or until sauce thickens.  

The pork should be tender enough to fall apart in the pan, but if not, remove pork and shred.  Return to sauce.  

If having caramelized onions, heat oil over medium heat in a medium skillet.  Add onions, thyme and sugar, cook 10 minutes or until golden. 


*Note: if there is extra, freeze in a cupcake pan and place in a freezer bag once frozen. When ready to reheat, just put desired amount in a saucepan and heat all the way through! 


Thursday, October 9, 2014

Chicken Burrito Bowl

Yeah, it's not a pasta dish! I told you I had a few gems coming your way! Now I have seen this recipe pinned multiple times on everyone's Pinterest pages, so I decided to give it a shot. All I have to say is if you haven't made this dish yet, you are really missing out! It was so tasty! I mean look at the ingredients, how could you go wrong? Plus, it's all made in one pan, so it's a relative easy clean up! Bonus! You might be able to tell from my pic that mine was a little soupy. Well, that was my own fault. I thought I had enough rice, but it wasn't quite one cup. I'm sure if I had the full cup that I was supposed to it would have soaked up the juices more. Nevertheless, it still had amazing flavor! Everything blended together so nicely! I can't wait to make this again and you shouldn't wait to make it now! This is especially great for the fall weather we have be having here! Enjoy!



Chicken Burrito Bowls
Ingredients

1 lb chicken breasts (boneless, skinless), diced into bite sized pieces
3 Tablespoon olive oil, divided
1/4 cup yellow onion, diced
1 cup uncooked extra-long grain rice
14.5 oz can diced tomatoes, drained
15oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
2 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 cups Colby Jack cheese, shredded
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Optional
roma tomatoes
green onions
sour cream
avocado
tortilla chips

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Sauté the onions in 2 Tablespoons of the olive oil until they start to soften.
Season diced chicken with kosher salt and pepper. Add chicken to the pan and cook until chicken has started to brown. Move chicken to one half of the pan, in the other half, add the additional Tablespoon of olive oil and sauté uncooked rice for about 2 minutes or until some of the grains start to turn golden brown. 

Stir in the black beans, canned tomatoes, chicken broth, garlic powder, chili powder and cumin. Bring to a simmer, cover and reduce heat to low. Cook about 20 minutes or until rice is tender.
Sprinkle the cheese all over, recover and let set for 2-3 minutes off of the heat until the cheese is melted.
If desired, serve with tomatoes, green onions, sour cream, tortilla chips, and/or avocado.



Wednesday, October 8, 2014

September Birchbox Review: Dr. Jart+ Pore Minimalist Mask


I know Halloween is getting closer, but the picture of me below (courtesy of my husband who was giggling like a girl) is not a scary mask I'm trying in preparation. It is the Dr. Jart+ Pore Minimalist Mask that I received in last month's Birchbox. I had never used a mask like this before, so when I took it out, I was a little stunned and excited. First of all, the weight of it was heavier than I would have imagined. I'm sure that isn't the case for all these types of masks, but I was surprised. Secondly, I had to lay down because it would slide all over the place. Even laying down it would move a little if I moved ever so slightly. And lastly, it was a little big for my face. You can notice by my chin that the mask is a little loose and just hanging there. All that being said, I loved it! I did notice a bit of a difference after the one use and my skin felt so refreshed. I wish I had gotten another one or two to see what the continual difference would be, but that just means I'll have to buy them and see for myself! I'm always in the market for a good mask and I think this one will do! You can buy them individually or in a set of five (more cost effective), making it nice to have options. I highly recommend this mask for you and your pores today!




Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Copycat Steak 'n Shake Frisco Melts

Coming from the midwest, Steak 'n Shake is a food staple. Wether it's getting a quick bite with family or a late night rendezvous, it's something everyone enjoys at some point in their life. They are everywhere, in every city and town you can always find at least one. We actually lived down the street from one before we moved to New Jersey. Don't fret though, it's not out of the question for us, we have a total of two near us. One about 7 miles away in New Jersey and the other about 8 miles away in Manhattan so it is doable. However, it is different. We went to the one in New Jersey a couple of weeks ago and it is more like a gourmet Steak 'n Shake. My burger was much bigger, not the thin patties like I'm used to, and it was organic. It was still delicious though, just different. So when I found this recipe, I had to make it. It is what Kev always orders from Steak 'n Shake so I thought it would be a special treat for him. The recipe ended up being just alright, nothing compared to the original. They were defiantly eatable, but something we will have to improve on if we want them to be more authentic. If you love Frisco melts and are up for a challenge, see what you think about their comparison. Who knows, you might love these even more, or find a better way to make them. If you do, please share! Enjoy! 



Steak 'n Shake Frisco Melts

Ingredients
1 lb ground beef
8 slices sourdough bread
1 Tablespoon butter
4 slices American cheese
4 slices Swiss cheese
Frisco Sauce
2 Tablespoons Thousand Island
1 Tablespoon Russian dressing 

Optional
1/2 onion, sliced thin and caramelized (add a pinch of sugar)

If you are adding onions, go ahead and  caramelize them, set aside. Prepare the Frisco sauce and place in the refrigerator until time to use.

Roll ground beef into 8 even sized balls. Heat a medium sauté pan over medium high heat. Add the ground beef, about 2-4 balls at a time to the pan. You should hear the meat sizzle when you add it, if not, your pan is not hot enough. You can always test by dropping a little water in it and seeing if it sizzles first if you aren't sure. Let the beef cook for one minute, flip over, and using the back of your spatula, smash the burger flat into a thin patty. Cover with a lid or cookie sheet to help it cook through. After a couple of minutes, when the ground beef is mostly cooked through, flip once more. 

Add the Swiss cheese to a total of 4 of the patties and the same for the American cheese. Again, cover your pan to help the cheese melt. Place paper towels on a plate and place the cooked patties on there to help drain any excess grease.

Spread butter on bread and place on cookie sheet under broiler until golden brown, about 3 minutes. 

To assemble, spread the Frisco sauce on each piece of bread. If you are adding onions, add them to one slice of the bread. Place a two patties on top, one with American and the other with Swiss cheese.  Place another slice of bread on top and serve.



Monday, October 6, 2014

Gone Girl

I hope everyone had a great weekend! Ours was pretty low-key, if that term is acceptable where we live, because hardly anything is low-key besides staying home. It was raining here on Saturday so we decided to do something we hadn't done here yet, go see a movie. Pretty simple and straightforward. We left 45 minutes before the show started, plenty of time to get there, park, and get seated. Boy did we learn our lesson, mistake number one! This particular AMC theater is attached to a completely huge, insanely busy mall. It is 15th largest in the US and has over 10,000 parking spaces to accommodate the hundreds of patrons that are constantly there! It is always packed, except Sunday of course, thanks to blue laws. After foolishly thinking we would get a decent parking space, we settled on the first empty one we saw which felt like a mile away. I'm told that a plus about this theater is that it features movies in ETX, which only a handful do and it's supposed to be amazing. You can tell how much I know or care about that lol. We didn't see do it this time, but when we do, I hope I'm blown away! 

Since the movie just came out, Kev bought out tickets ahead of time so we wouldn't have to wait. Mistake number two. We go in and could have walked up to numerous self tickets check outs, but instead had to wait in a line probably 30ish people deep to wait for our already purchased tickets. So tickets in hand, we did a quick sigh of relief because we had about 10 minutes to spare. That was until we saw the line for the ticket taker! Holy cow! I have never seen anything like it! There were so many people! We finally get past, skipped on any refreshments because we had a couple minutes left. We got in the theater and surprise, it was also packed. Big shocker I know! So we sat in the front section, like 5 rows back just as the trailers started! And you though this was going to be a simple, we went to a movie post, but not here, nothing is simple! We learned our lesson though, don't buy tickets beforehand and leave about an hour before if we want the option to choose where we sit and if we get refreshments or not!


So on to the movie, it was fantastic! After hearing many great reviews of Gone Girl, like the one above in US Weekly, I knew I had to see it! Plus, I have had the book on my must read list for quite some time now. I will definitely need to read it now! This thriller had so many twists and turns you never really saw what was coming next. I can't say too much because I don't want to give anything away to those that still want to see it. Simply put, it took pure genius to pull off what took place. We actually were walking out and were basically speechless. It was like oh my goodness, that really happened. My only complaint, I didn't really see a chemistry between Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike, but I have never really been a Affleck fan so I might of had too high of an expectation from him. I do highly recommend you see this movie, especially if you love thrillers! 


This last photo is just me being a little silly. When we were walking out I saw MAC in the sidewalk and it mad me think McClarnon's were here. Cheesy I know, but I liked it and thought it was cool haha. Lastly, we came home and had a pasta dinner cook off. Again, cheesy especially since we were the two cooks and judges, but we had fun! I was the clear winner, Kevin's words, not mine. I made my simple pasta, my favorite, healthier way. I cook and drain 1/2 cup rotini noodles. I place those in 1/2 cup pasta sauce that has been heating in a small skillet. I coat the pasta with the sauce and sprinkle 1/4 cup of shredded mozzarella on top and place in the oven until the cheese melts. I then serve it over 1/2 cup of cottage cheese. It is so filling and a little over 300 calories. Not too bad! I hope everyone has a great week! 

Friday, October 3, 2014

Deep Fried Tortillini

By now you know how much we love our pasta. It's quick, easy, and it's usually a dish everyone loves. Well when I saw this recipe I was immediately intrigued. I hadn't ever heard of deep frying pasta. I know what you're thinking, pasta is already not very healthy, and now here I  am making it worse. To that I say, everything in moderation! We did slightly modify the recipe from the original. We used different spices, different and jumbo tortellini, and we used our deep fryer instead of doing it on the stove top. It turned out delicious and it only took a couple to fill you up! If you are worried about it being unhealthy, make it for an appetizer for your next party so you'll only eat one or two. They were great reheated too. I just quickly ran them under water and baked them at 350 degrees about 10 minutes or until warm. Experiment with different flavors or tortellini and different sauce combinations.......you won't be disappointed! Enjoy! 


Deep Fried Tortellini

Ingredients

1 qt. peanut oil (in the original recipe, we used our deep fryer)
1 cup flour
4 eggs, beaten
1 cup Italian style bread crumbs
3/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1 Tablespoon dried parsley
3 Tablespoons granulated garlic
2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
2 (9 ounce) packages of jumbo 5 cheese and spicy sausage tortellini
Pasta or Marinara sauce for dipping

Preheat your deep fryer to 350 degrees. If you don't have a deep fryer, preheat your oil in large stockpot over medium-high heat until it reaches 350 degrees. Prepare a baking sheet with paper towels.

Get out 2 bowls and put the flour in one and the eggs in the other. In a large sealable bag, place your seasonings, cheese, and bread crumbs.

Start placing your tortellini in the flour, tossing to coat. Shake off any excess flour and place in the eggs. Again, shake off any excess, then place in the plastic bag and toss to coat. Repeat the process as many times as needed until all the tortellini are coated.

Once oil has reached the proper temperature, place several tortellini in carefully & allow to cook until golden brown and cooked throughout, about 5-6 minutes in the deep fryer. Remove and place on the baking sheet lined with paper towels to drain. Repeat with the remaining tortellini.

Let cool a couple of minutes and serve warm with any desired dipping sauces.




Thursday, October 2, 2014

Jalapeño Popper Grilled Cheese

If you are looking for a way to spice up your traditional grilled cheese, or love jalapeño poppers, this recipe is perfect for you! It packs heat from the jalapeños and coolness from the cream cheese. Then, you combine that with the crunch from the tortilla chips and the melted cheesy goodness and you have a perfect and hearty grilled cheese sandwich. Are you salivating yet? We have made these a few times now and absolutely love them. It is a little difficult to get it to the pan without making a mess because of the shredded cheese, but I have learned to make it on a giant pancake spatula we have so I can just smash it down and slide it off. I also cover it with a lid or cookie sheet to help the cheese melt a little faster for the flip. Make sure you try this the next time you are craving something spicy or a gourmet grilled cheese! Enjoy!



Jalapeño Popper Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Ingredients (for one sandwich) 
2 jalapeno peppers, cut in half lengthwise and seeded
2 slices sourdough bread
1 Tablespoon butter, room temperature
1 Tablespoon cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup jack and cheddar cheese, shredded, divided in half 
1-2 Tablespoons tortilla chips, crumbled 

Place the peppers on a baking sheet with aluminum foil, cut side down. Broil on the top rack for 10-14 minutes or until the peppers are blackened. Place in a ziplock bag and let cool until you can handle them, approximately 20 minutes. 

Remove the skins from the peppers. You should be able to “pinch” them off easily.

Butter the outside of each slice of bread. Spread the cream cheese on the inside of one of the slices. 

Sprinkle half of the shredded cheese on top of the cream cheese, top with the jalapeños, crumbled tortilla chips, the remaining cheese, and top with the other slice of bread. 

Heat a non-stick pan over medium to medium-low heat. Grill the sandwich 2-4 minutes per side or until golden brown and the cheese has melted.


Wednesday, October 1, 2014

September Birchbox Review: Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish

Happy Birchbox review Wednesday! It may be weird, but I love skin care. Nothing is more satisfying to me than to keep my skin as nice as possible so I don't need to cake on the make up to cover it up. Plus, I often get mistaken for someone 5+ years younger so I have to be doing something right besides having pretty good genes in that area. Now with the Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish, I'm sort of on the fence. I had recently started using an oil facial cleanser, so putting this on my face dry wasn't something new. I had also used a microdermabrasion mitt before, so the thought of using a cloth wasn't anything new. I knew going into it the product specified that it was a soft cloth, I guess I just wished I felt a little more exfoliation from it. Also, the instructions said to wash it every 2-3 uses. Well I'm not lazy, but if you use it morning and night, you are washing the cloth every day to every other day. That is a little excessive to me. I know you need to keep it clean, but it's just a lot. Now it did make my face purge at first, but it has cleared up and started looking really good toward the end of the week. I have a nice glow and my pores do look smaller. I'm just not sure it there is a difference in my skins appearance from what I was already using. In a couple days, when my sample is out, I will return to my oil cleanser and see if my skin changes at all. That will probably be the deciding factor for me! Enjoy the rest of your week everyone!