Friday, November 21, 2014

Eggplant Mozzarella Melt

First of all, I wanted to let you know I am taking next week off for Thanksgiving in case you were wondering where I am. If I get bored, though I doubt I will, I might post something, but I would rather tell you I won't be here instead of getting your hopes up! :) Now continuing yesterday's theme of things I make when my hubby is away for work, I bring you this recipe from my all-time fave Martha Stewart. I have been obsessed with her ever since I took a liking to cooking and entertaining and her hometown is actually 10 minutes from where we now live.........hello stalker! Well not really since she doesn't live there now, but one can dream. Now I have made something relatively similar (see we think I'll stop) with my french bread pizzas, this just has breaded eggplant for the topping instead of your traditional, or non-traditonal, pizza toppings. I was skeptical about the eggplant being breaded, but it really gave the eggplant a nice toasted crunch. I loved this eggplant melt and writing this makes me want to have one right now! If your whole family isn't on board, just buy a small one for yourself, or those having it, and let everyone else do their french bread pizzas however they want (see my other post for ideas if needed). The recipe I am giving you is for four, so adjust as needed. Enjoy!

Eggplant and Mozzarella Melt


2 large eggs
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
3/4 cup plain dried breadcrumbs
Olive oil, for baking sheet
1 medium eggplant (about 1 pound), sliced into 1/2-inch-thick rounds
1 loaf (8 ounces) soft Italian bread
2 cups store-bought tomato sauce
8 ounces part-skim mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced

Preheat oven to 475 degrees. In a shallow bowl, lightly beat eggs with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Spread breadcrumbs in a pie plate or shallow bowl.

Oil a rimmed baking sheet. Dip eggplant rounds in egg, then dredge in breadcrumbs, turning to coat completely; transfer to prepared baking sheet. Bake (without turning) until golden and tender, 15 to 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, split bread lengthwise, and place cut side up on another baking sheet; press gently in centers to create a well. Layer both halves with tomato sauce, eggplant, and cheese. Bake until cheese is browned in spots, 6 to 8 minutes.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Banana and Peanut Butter Ice Cream

Do you have a sweet tooth but are trying to be healthy? Or, do you love bananas and are looking for another way to enjoy them? If you answered yes to either of these questions, than you must try this recipe from Two Peas & Their Pod. Whenever Kev goes out of town, I take advantage of it and make recipes that I know he won't eat (and are usually healthier too) and this was definatly one of them. Although it isn't his cup of tea, I absolutely loved it! It had the sweetness of ice cream, but far fewer calories, making it great for the waistline! The recipe listed is indicated to yield 4 servings. I served myself a serving and froze the rest for about a week. It was still amazingly perfect! This would be great to make in the spring or summer especially in a large batch for parties. For a more decadent treat, you could try adding cocoa powder or chocolate syrup of you like! Enjoy now or wait until it warms up!

Banana and Peanut Butter Ice Cream


4 large very ripe bananas
2 Tablespoons peanut butter

Peel bananas and slice into 1/2 inch slices. Arrange the banana slices in a single layer on a baking sheet. Freeze for at least 1-2 hours.

Once the bananas are frozen, place them in a blender and puree, scraping down the sides as needed, until the mixture is creamy and smooth. Add the peanut butter and pulse a few times to combine. Serve immediately for soft-serve ice cream consistency, but if you prefer harder ice cream, place in the freezer for a few hours and then serve.

*The "ice cream" will melts quickly so I prefer to put it in the freezer for a little bit.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

November Birchbox Review: Dang Toasted Coconut Chips

You may be looking at this post and wondering what is has to do with Birchbox. Well, everyone got a little edible treat in their boxes this month and mine happened to be the Dang Toasted Coconut Chips. I was soooo excited when I saw these were coming (yes I'm notorious for peeking at what's in my box before it gets here) because I have had them before and absolutely love them! If you follow my Instagram you might have noticed this picture of them months ago! While I have only tried the original flavor, they have other flavors such as caramel sea salt and dark chocolate covered coconut chips (I recently purchased the chocolate covered one, but haven't tried it)! They are vegan, gluten-free, and dairy-free for anyone with certain dietary needs. They are also a great source of fiber and keep you full with just a handful. I loved the individual pack (which I've never seen before). It would be perfect for throwing in your bag and going. I'm eating mine while reading the November Book Club book Yes Please by Amy Poehler. I just recently started it, but so far it is as humorous as you would expect from Ms. Poehler! I look forward to seeing how the rest of the book pans out! 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Apple Spice Cake with Bourbon Glaze

I thought I better get this recipe posted since it is perfect for fall and well, fall isn't really happening this year I guess. Not that you can't eat it whenever of course. I just always think of apple and pumpkin recipes being perfect for fall weather. This recipe is very special to me because it was the very first thing I baked on my own many moons ago. I remember being so proud of myself because back then I thought it was so difficult. Well throughout the years my baking knowledge has increased and the tools (hello KitchenAid mixer) have improved greatly, but the taste of this cake has stayed the same. It is so deliciously moist with the perfect apple flavoring. The glaze makes it a little sweet, but not overpowering (below I've also included another version if you don't want to use bourbon in yours). It is too easy and tasty not to try! If you can, hurry up and make it before fall has completely left for the year! Enjoy! 

Apple Spice Cake with Bourbon Glaze


1 cup oil
3 eggs
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 cups chopped apples
2 cups sugar
3 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon nutmeg

1 cup chopped pecans

Bourbon Glaze
1/2 cup Bourbon
1/2 cup sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour your bundt pan, set aside. 

Combine oil and sugar, beating well. Add eggs one at a time until combined. 

In a separate bowl combine flour, soda, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Add the dry mix to the sugar mixture and add vanilla. Stir in pecans (if using) and apples. 

Pour into bundt pan, bake 1 hour 15 minutes. Once done, poke holes in the bottom before removing from the bundt pan and spoon over glaze, cool completely.

Bourbon Glaze

Place the bourbon and sugar in a small saucepan. Heat over low to medium-low heat until sugar is dissolved and the glaze is slightly thicker. Remove from heat and use on the cake. 

* Here is the original glaze I used before which is sweeter, but equally as good. It's perfect if you don't want to use the bourbon in your recipe! 

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup buttermilk
4 Tablespoons butter
3 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Combine all in saucepan, boil 4 minutes.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Indianapolis Colts @ the New York Giants game

In light of last nights game, I thought I would post something uplifting for my fellow Colts fans. So let's discuss the Indianapolis Colts @ the New York Giants game that happened Monday, November, 3rd. Well to start off, an outfit had to be picked. These were a few of my choices for the cool 46 degree temperature that I was going to be sitting in. I had the traditional Andrew Luck jersey, a breast cancer Colts shirt (I know that breast cancer month was officially over, but I hadn't worn it yet, and a 12 is the new 18 shirt from Hayes & Taylor (not quite fitting since we weren't playing Peyton, but we were playing the other Manning, Eli). On top of that I had leg warmers, headbands, hair ties, and a bracelet (the three latter made by yours truly). Even though my top half didn't end up getting shown due to the cold, I opted for the jersey with two shirts underneath, the leg warmers and the horseshoe headband.

I have posted photos of MetLife before from other events (Jets game and Eminem/Rihanna concert), but I wanted to take it again because they change the lights depending on who is playing (the Jets and Giants share the stadium). If I haven't mentioned it before, the best part about the stadium is that it is 10 minutes away. The worst part about the stadium (aside the face that it's the Giants and Jets home) is that it is 10 minutes away. On game days we just stay as far away as possible because like all sporting events, the traffic is horrible! This was also the first time that I noticed the you could see the Empire State building from the stadium. I thought it was really neat to see. The emotional national anthem was played by the famous trumpet player, Chris Botti. It brought tears to many fans and players (Reggie Wayne in particular) eyes and can be viewed here. It was absolutely beautiful and a nice change of pace from the traditional singing that we normally hear.  

One thing I have learned from living out here is always be prepared. In my normal purse I carry a charger, hand sanitizer, hand lotion, a kookie, etc. because you never know what you will need when. Well in this case, I brought my colts beanie hat in case I got cold, which I did, and apparently a tan once I put it on (I swear no filters were used). For the most part, of course there were a few obnoxious fans, the Giants fans were really nice. They talked to us about Peyton and how amazing he was and how we made a great choice with Luck. I was worried because of our previous dealing with the Jets fans at the preseason game, but overall it was great. We did come out the gate running though, so they really couldn't be too mean because the Giants fans had nothing to back it up :)! We started the first quarter taking the lead and just kept going from there, ending the game with a final score of Colts 40 to Giants 24. Not only did we win, but Reggie Wayne moved up to eighth on the all-time receiving yard list. It was such an amazing thing to witness your "home" team not only winning, but breaking records at the same time! 

Hopefully that is enough to cheer everyone up from the game we all witnessed last night! Until I see you on the East coast again boys in blue!

Friday, November 14, 2014

Avocado and Chicken Burrito

 Happy Friday everyone! I hope you have some great plans for the weekend! We are going to brunch (one together and I'm meeting the girls) and to the IU/Rutgers game with some friends from back home! Yeah! Well no more wasting any more of your weekend so let's get to it. At some point in your life you have probably owned a Forman Grill. I used to use mine for EVERYTHING! Burgers, chicken, etc., etc., until I learned other ways of cooking. Now our Forman has become a glorified quesadilla and quick burrito maker. It's perfect because it keeps it closed and gives the tortillas a nice crisp crunch to them while heating your items all the way through. I love this meal because it can't get much quicker or easier. It's all done in less than 30 minutes (I bake my chicken in the oven). I use the Grilled Tyson breasts because they have a nice grilled flavor to them (duh) and they are convenient to keep a bag around and grab as needed. You could omit the chicken if you are vegetarian, add spices, or different cheeses to really make it your own! Next time you are looking for some quick and easy, try this burrito out! As always, enjoy!   

Avocado and Chicken Burrito

1 Tyson Grilled and Ready Chicken Breast, cut or shredded
1 Avocado, chopped
1/2 cup Mexican cheese, shredded 

Sour Cream
Taco Sauce

Cook the chicken according to the package instructions. Once cooked, shred or cut into pieces.

Preheat your Forman Grill. 

Combine the chicken, avocado, and cheese in a bowl and mix together. Place tortilla on Forman for a few seconds to make pliable then fill with your mixed ingredients and fold up burrito style. Place on Forman for about 5 minutes (once tortilla is a little crisp and heated through. Cut in half, serve with desired condiments, and enjoy!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Broccoli Cheddar Orzo

Back in August I posted a recipe for Parmesan Orzo that I absolutely love and have made multiple times. So I thought when I found this recipe that it would be a no brainer......I would love it! Surprisingly enough, I did not. The dish really lacked flavor and I even put some extra cheese in mine after I tasted it and it still didn't help. I would have that it would have tasted just like cheddar and broccoli, but sadly it just tasted like broccoli with a very watered down, faint cheddar taste. If you try this one, you might need to play around a little bit. Try boiling the orzo in a broth or use more cheese. I don't really know. I'm kind of at a loss with this one! Let me know if you try anything different and how you liked it! Enjoy? :)

Broccoli Cheddar Orzo


1 cup orzo
1-1/2 cups chopped broccoli florets
1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 Tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
1 Tablespoon butter
1/4-1/2 cup 2% milk
salt for boiling water and to taste if needed

Fill a medium saucepan with water and a dash of salt and bring to a boil. Add the orzo and cook for 3 minutes. Add broccoli and cook for 2 additional minutes, or until orzo is tender.

Drain very well then return to the saucepan. Add cheeses, butter, and 1/4 cup of the milk. Stir well and add more milk if needed. Season with salt to taste.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

October Birchbox Review: Dr. Brandt Vacuum Cleaner

As you can see from my above photo, I have been a fan of the Pores No More line from Dr. Brandt for a little bit now. I absolutely love this line because it really keeps my pores small to nonexistent. The vacuum cleaner works as one of those pore strips that you rip off your face except without the pain. It goes on super silky smooth and as it dries, you can feel it tingling in a way that you just know your pores are tightening. It's a little hard to tell, but in the picture below, you can see little white dots where the pores have been "vacuumed" of all their dirt and oil. If you used it a few times a week for a  couple weeks, you will see a noticeable difference. When I go out, I also use the Pores No More Pore Refiner Primer and it is amazing. It is like a personal filter for your face. Like the texture of the vacuum cleaner, it goes on silky smooth and doesn't feel heavy or greasy. I definitely love the combination of these two products! Now as for the price, $45 may seem a little steep. I can assure you though, it lasts forever. My samples are .25 of an ounce and have lasted so long. I will definitely buy this product if I ever run out!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Crockpot Pulled Chicken with Jalapeños

I love, love using my crockpot, especially this time of year. It is so simple to just throw everything in and let it cook for hours and it seems like you have slaved all day in the kitchen. Plus, your house (usually) smells wonderful and with us, we have a ton of leftovers for lunches and dinners or to freeze for the oncoming winter when the weather might be too bad to get out. This recipe, found here, was especially fun because it was a crackpot recipe with a little pizzazz. To the crockpot pulled chicken you add a delicious crispy panko that adds a wonderful toasted crunch to the sandwich. Then, you also add an extra creamy cheddar cheese sauce and top that with jalapeños (optional of course). It seems like such a gourmet sandwich to have been made primarily in your crockpot! When I initially made it, I did as the original recipe indicated and drained all the juice off the cooked chicken, but then the leftovers, while still great, were a little dry, so I recommend draining the meat as you go unless you are serving it all. I also scaled it back a little and took out the chicken thighs that the original recipe had. If you are like me and love using your crockpot in the fall or are looking to stock that freezer a bit for the winter, try this delicious sandwich right away! Enjoy!  

Crockpot Pulled Chicken with Jalapeños 


Pulled Chicken
2 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can Ro-Tel with green chilies
1 Tablespoon red chili powder
1/2 Tablespoon cumin
1 cube chicken bouillon of a couple chicken stock ice cubes
6 Kaiser Rolls

Crispy Panko Topping
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
1 Tablespoons butter

Cheese Sauce
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 ounces cream cheese
1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

jalapeño pepper sliced, jar or fresh

Pulled Chicken
In your crockpot place the onion and garlic in the bottom. Put the chicken on top of that and pour Ro-Tel over the chicken. Sprinkle the chili powder, cumin, salt, and pepper over top. Place chicken stock ice cubes or bouillon cube in. Cover and cook on high for 4 hours, or low for 8 hours.

Crispy Panko Topping
In a small skillet melt the butter. Add the panko, stir occasionally until lightly toasted. Set aside.

Cheese Sauce
In small saucepan over medium to medium-high heat, pour the heavy cream in and bring to an almost
boil, stirring constantly. Whisk in the cream cheese and stir until melted. Then add the cheddar, stirring until smooth and combined.

Sandwich Assembly
Using a slotted spoon, place chicken on a bun (you don't want your sandwich soggy, but the juices with help if you have leftovers, otherwise you can drain all the juices after cooked). Top with cheese sauce, crispy panko, and, if desired, sliced jalapeños.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Skinner's Loft

Hello everyone! I hope you all had a great week! I was super swamped with other things so I decided to take a week off........I hope you haven't missed my posts too much :). So if you haven't figured it out yet, on Mondays I do a post regarding the things we are doing around the New Jersey and New York area. It has been so much fun exploring and trying new things! I wish we would have explored more when we were back in Indiana, but who knows, maybe we will be back there one day. If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you may have seen that I asked a question about what I should get and posted the picture a few months ago. That is because I was originally introduced to Skinner's Loft by some girlfriends when I met them for brunch. In case you're wondering, I got the Lobster BLT the first time I went with the girls and it was delicious!

I fell so in love with this spot that I knew I had to bring my hubby here to try it. I just love going to the non-chain restaurants here. They are small and quaint and usually have a phenomenal menu. Skinner's Loft is no exception. It has two levels of indoor seating and a rooftop that allows for amazing views of the Manhattan skyline in the summer. This time around, I got my second option, and the most recommend item I saw on Yelp, the Filet Mignon Sliders complete with mimosas of course. They were so juicy and tender with garlic marinated mushrooms on top. Though the bottom picture isn't a good indication (it was taken after they were reheated) the sliders were cooked medium with a perfect pink center, just like I like them. You get three sliders and this huge mound of their shoestring fries with each order. It is so filling (obviously, I had leftovers) and just such a good tasty meal. This is definitely a spot I would frequent and you should too if you are in the area! 

Monday, November 3, 2014

Birchbox SoHo

Last weekend it was absolutely gorgeous out so we decided to go to the city. Since I hadn't been to the actual Birchbox store yet, it was my main focus! You would've thought it was my first time going shopping in a make-up store with how excited I was. It was a little embarrassing to say the least! We got there a few minutes before they opened so I tried to play it cool when they opened the doors like "yeah I'm totally not waiting to come in or anything". I know, I'm a super dork. We had the store to ourselves for a little bit while looking around which was so nice. The staff was super friendly and the store looked impeccable! I was in awe! We looked at absolutely everything there was. I loved the store, but I don't think my husband was too impressed. The men's section was pretty small and men can't build a box for themselves unless they want to build a women's box (which I don't recommend, you'll see why in a minute).  

My husband and I both have Birchbox subscriptions and love them, so I had to build a box for myself while we were there. For the most part I loved everything I picked, however, there are a couple complaints I have. I didn't understand why it was more expensive to build you own box when you get the same amount of products. I also didn't care for the fact that you had to pick something from each section (body & nails, skincare, fragrance, hair, and makeup). I could've done without the fragrance and body & nails selections and gotten a couple other things I wanted, but oh well, it was still fun to do. They were also doing a gift with purchase so I got to pick the Green Apple Peel by Juice Beauty as my selection which was nice! Overall I did love it and look forward to going back, especially with the holidays coming up! If you have a chance to go you definitely should! 

My Picks: