Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Happy Holidays!

Well I didn't get my post in yesterday after all, but I wanted to take a moment to tell you to have Happy Holidays and a very Merry New Year! I will be traveling back to Indiana for a couple of days and then I will be heading back to our new home to spend some time with more family in New Jersey and New York City. I will return in 2015 (it feels so weird saying that)! I have made a few resolutions for the upcoming year......learn photoshop, take better photos, and create more of my own recipes! I feel they are pretty realistic goals and hopefully you will take notice of the changes through my blog! I wish everyone safe travels and plenty of laughter and love in the next couple of weeks (and longer, but I'll be back then :)). Until next year everyone!

Mrs. M

Friday, December 19, 2014

Pork Tenderloin Sliders with Sriracha Miracle Whip

Since we are traveling back to Indiana next week for Christmas, I thought it would be fitting to share a recipe that has Hoosier written all over it. That folks, would be the breaded tenderloin. As this article written on the Chicago Tribune states website, it is a "Midwest classic". You can hardly walk into any dining establishment without seeing it on the menu. While they may vary slightly from restaurant to restaurant, one thing remains the same, they are huge! The tenderloin is about twice the size of the bun (not an exaggeration). I can honestly say I've never eaten a whole one in one sitting before. I have three methods for eating these monstrous sandwiches. One, I eat the breaded tenderloin that is out of the bun and dip it in sauces (mustard and mayo) as a sort of appetizer, then, I take the rest of the sandwich home. Second, I just go ahead a chop it in half. I'll eat one half and take the other home for later. Or third, I make the recipe below which is for a slider version so you can have a couple or as many as you would like! They are perfect for tailgating or feeding crowds and you can dress them up as you prefer. I like mine with cheese, sriracha miracle whip, lettuce, tomato, and avocado. The sriracha adds a nice kick while the Hawaiian rolls bring a subtle sweetness to it. No matter which way I choose to eat mine, it always reminds me of home! Enjoy! 



Pork Tenderloin Sliders

Ingredients
Pork
Hawaiian Rolls
Oil of choosing (we used our deep fryer)
1 Egg
1 Tablespoon milk (we used 2%)
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup Yellow Corn Meal
1/4 cup Sweet Maui Onion Kettle Cooked Potato Chips (Deep River Snacks brand), crushed
1 teaspoon Salt
1 teaspoon Pepper

Optional
Lettuce
Cheese
Avocado
Tomato
Miracle Whip
Sriracha (mixed with Miracle Whip for a kick, add as much or as little as you like)

Preheat deep frier to 350 degrees.

In a bowl, beat egg and  mix in milk.  In separate bowl mix flour, yellow corn meal, of crushed sweet onion chips, salt, and pepper.

Take a mallet and pound out the pork tenderloin.  Using kitchen shears, cut into "slider size."  Coat with flour mixture, then toss in egg mixture, and then coat again in flour mixture.  After double coating, toss in deep frier.  Fry for 5 minutes or until golden brown.


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

December Birchbox Review: Cynthia Rowley Creamy Lip Stain

I am such a huge fan of any sort of lip product. I often have two or three (not counting chap sticks) different products with me at all times and switch them out on an almost daily basis. Hello, my name is Casey and I have a lip addiction. That's why I decided to review this item from my Lo Bosworth curated Birchbox first, well that and the fact that I got my hair done today! I just love this Cynthia Rowley Lip Stain. I received it in the color heartthrob, but there are five other colors available if this one doesn't suit your tastes. The stain, like the name states, goes on super creamy. It feels so soft and smooth going on your lips. Then there is the color. Personally I am loving reds right now (like everyone else following the trend) and this one is perfect. If you aren't sure if red is good for you, which trust me it probably is, you can do one light coat for a more light and subtle hue. But, if you decide you want to go bold, you can do another layer or two for a brighter pop of color. It continues to feel creamy well after use too. These lip stains are also paragon free, vegan, and cruelty free.....always a huge plus! Thank you Lo for a great holiday pick!    

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Avocado Fries

I absolutely love avocados, Kev however, does not. So as I have mentioned before, I seized the opportunity while he was away to try a new avocado recipe for myself. I mainly eat my avocados raw on sandwiches, salads, or soups, so I wanted to try something different as to not get bored. That's when I decided to try my hand at avocado fries. Now I know it's not the healthiest option, but it's not that bad on the waistline! I have to say, I was really impressed with these. The avocado with slightly warmed with a nice crunchy crust on the outside. They almost melted in my mouth! I ate them as is and did not have a dipping sauce, but I'm sure you could, I just really am drawing a blank on what a good one would be. The next time I make them, I might try adding some spicy seasonings to the panko or flour for an extra little kick. If you love avocado, you must try these! It's always good to mix things up! Enjoy!  


Avocado Fries

Ingredients

Canola oil for frying
1/8 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 egg, beaten
3/4 cup panko
1 firm and ripe avocados, sliced into 1/2 inch wedges

In a medium saucepan, heat 1 to 1 1/2 inches of oil until it reaches 375 degrees on a deep-fry thermometer.

Meanwhile, mix flour with salt on a shallow plate. Place the egg in a bowl and beat. In another shallow dish, place the panko. Dip the avocado wedges in flour, shaking off excess. Dip in egg, letting the excess drip off, then toss in the panko to coat. Set aside on a plate in a single layer.

Fry however many avocado slices will fit in your pan, without overcrowding, at a time until deep golden, about 30 to 60 seconds, turing occasionally. Transfer slices to a plate lined with paper towels.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Jose Tejas, Fairfield, NJ

Kevin found this restaurant for us one day when we decided to go out exploring our area. The way he was describing it, I thought it was just another Mexican restaurant (though that wouldn't bother me since we have yet to find out white queso like back home). Turns out, Jose Tejas is tex-mex and cajun cuisine (think Mexican food meets Louisiana). It was so amazing! We went around 1PM on a Saturday and it was pretty packed, but not so much that there was a wait. Personally, I like when a lot of people are at a restaurant I haven't been to because it must mean it's good. Once I know I like it though, the masses can leave the restaurant alone haha!   
We were served the standard chips and salsa which were good, not anything insanely special. We both accompanied our chips with a margarita on the rocks with salt on the rim of course. It, like the chips, was your same old typical margarita. I'm definitely not complaining though because the real showstoppers were our meals. Kevin got the blackened swordfish, complete with cajun seasoning. It was served with black beans and corn, rice, and mango salsa. I had a bite (or two) and it was so delish! The swordfish had great flavor with just the right amount of kick to it. The sides were quite tasty as well. I may consider getting it next time, but I like to try different things so we will see. For my entree I opted for a quesadilla. I know you're thinking how boring, but you couldn't be more wrong! It was a shrimp and crawfish quesadilla. It was jam packed with shrimp, crawfish, cheese, and tons of flavor! I was absolutely in love with my choice! I had never had crawfish before and while this isn't the traditional way to eat it, I sure didn't mind and would do it over and over again! Stay tuned next week for a post on Cricket Hill Brewery before I take a break for the holidays. We will be traveling back to Indiana for a couple of days, then we have family coming out here to spend time in New Jersey and New York (in case you were wondering where New York Christmas posts have been, I've been waiting for family)!
                               

Thursday, December 11, 2014

November Birchbox Review: Royal Apothic Cuppa Cuppa Firming Tea Treatment Mask



I absolutely love face masks! I use one 1-2 times a week while relaxing in the tub with a book, so I was super excited to try the Royal Apothic Cuppa Cuppa Firming Tea Treatment Mask. I hadn't heard of this brand at all which I love the most about Birchbox! It is great finding new product lines, even if the particular product doesn't work for you, something else might! The Cuppa Cuppa mask felt great on! Once applied, I started to feel a cool yet tingling feeling all over my face. After waiting the 8 minutes, in which I enjoyed a cup of loose leaf tea, I rinsed and my skin felt amazing. I noticed my skin was very soft and extremely hydrated. The only benefit I haven't really noticed is the skin firming aspect of it. I saw some people commented that they saw results after just one use, but sadly I did not. I still have a little more to use so hopefully I will notice it before I use it up. As for a future purchase, I am on the fence. While my skin felt great, without the firming I don't know if $58 would be worth it to me. I am not giving up just yet though!  

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Easy Fajita Chicken Bake

If you are anything like us, you have a taco night at least once a month. Honestly, we would do one every week if it wasn't my mission to try to get through all of my saved recipes on Pinterest. Tacos are quick, easy, and most importantly......delicious! Well the recipe featured today has all those attributes plus, it can be served multiple ways. You can dish it up as it is prepared or you can serve it on tortillas with your toppings of choice. I did change a couple of things with the original recipe. I decided to use a whole packet of taco seasoning instead of just a Tablespoon or two. I don't know what the taste difference is to compare, but the way I did it had the perfect amount of flavor. I also would recommend not putting your cheese on right away like the original recipe, and the way I did it, suggests. It left my cheese overly melted off of my chicken. Next time I will cover with foil, let the chicken bake for most of the time, then add the cheese in the final 10 minutes. The only other thing I changes was using chicken tenders instead of chicken breasts. I knew we were going to eat ours like tacos at some point (plenty of leftovers) so I figured it would be easier. Feel free to do chicken breasts if your prefer. It was great to have another take on taco night, especially with a dish that packs so much flavor! Enjoy!   



Easy Fajita Chicken Bake

Ingredients

1 1/2-2 pounds chicken tenders
1 packet Taco seasoning
2 bell peppers in assorted colors, thinly sliced
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup cheddar or Mexican blend cheese, shredded

Optional
Tortillas
sour cream
jalapeƱos
taco sauce

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Trim the chicken, if needed, and lay them in a single layer in a glass baking dish.

Sprinkle the taco seasoning evenly over the top of the chicken. Then, lay your onions and peppers on top of the chicken, again, spreading out evenly.

Drizzle the olive oil over the peppers and onions. Cover with aluminum foil and bake 30 minutes. Uncover and sprinkle with cheese. Bake an additional 5-10 minutes, or until cheese melts, chicken is cooked through and juices run clear.


Monday, December 8, 2014

New York Rangers game @ Madison Square Garden



Kev has been a New York Rangers fan before we ever stepped foot on the East Coast. Since we lived in the Midwest at the time, and hockey isn't that huge where we were, we never attended a game. Now that we are ridiculously close to The Garden, we made it a top priority to attend a game........my first NHL game at that! The verdict? I'm obsessed! I loved watching the Rangers and want to go to every game! I swear it's my new favorite sport! It was also nice not to be rooting for the opposing team for once :)! The energy of the game and the crowd started immediately during warm ups and never faded even though the Rangers didn't pull out the victory against the Oilers (the score was 1-3).  

video
I have to admit, as bratty as it sounds, I was a little worried about our seats when we first arrived. We kept going up escalator after escalator until we reached the very top. I was a little bummed because I immediately thought we were sitting in nosebleed seats (see I told you a little bratty). Little did I know, we were actually sitting in one of the top 10 sports bucket list seats according to CNBC. They were so amazing that I never want to sit in another seat again! We didn't have anyone in front of us obstructing our view, just glass all around. You could see the entire game! Now I'm not afraid of heights, but it did take a little mental adjustment looking down and seeing nothing but people below you. Another cool aspect, you can download an app and order food and drinks from your seats. There really is an app for that! 
I was extremely glad I captured the goal picture above and the video below (since it was the only one this time). Remember I told you about the energy of the fans? Well they sing/chant this and dance around when they score. It was so much fun to see and experience! I can't wait to go back! Be warned if you come to visit, I may suggest we go to a Rangers game! 

video

Friday, December 5, 2014

Crockpot Jambalaya

Happy Friday everyone! We made it through another week! As one holiday just finished and others are quickly approaching, you may not have a ton of time to spend in the kitchen. The solution.........throw everything in a crockpot so it will be ready when you are! This recipe was so flavorful and filling plus, it's gluten free for those of you with certain dietary needs or that follow a gluten free diet. There are quite a few members of my family that require a gluten free diet, so I decided to dabble a bit. I must admit, I'm pretty ignorant when it comes to diets and their requirements (or what you aren't supposed to have for that matter), though I'm trying to expand and learn more not only for me, but for those that will use it! Now while I don't follow a gluten free diet myself, I would eat this recipe over and over! You can omit the shrimp if you want, try other meats besides sausage, or leave both out all together. Also, spice it up a little more if you prefer your jambalaya spicy! Gluten free or not, you won't want to pass up on this recipe! Enjoy!    



Crockpot Jambalaya

Ingredients

1 large onion, chopped
1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
2 celery ribs, chopped
8 ounces smoked sausage, sliced
28 ounce can diced tomatoes in juice, not drained
2/3 cup gluten-free chicken broth
6 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
2 teaspoons dried parsley
1 cup uncooked Minute brown rice or quinoa
1 pound shrimp, peeled, deveined raw or cooked medium-sized or larger

Mix all ingredients EXCEPT the last three, shrimp, parsley, and rice, in a 3½-qt or larger crockpot. Cover and cook on low 6 to 8 hours, or until vegetables are tender. The mixture will still look a bit soupy, but the rice will thicken it up in the next step.

Stir in rice. Cover and cook 15 minutes more or until done. Stir in the parsley and shrimp (uncooked shrimp will cook in about 5 minutes).

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Pumpkin Mini Muffins

I know what you're thinking.......you've had your fill of pumpkin this year already, but I had to try to get this one in before you have moved on entirely. Do you remember when I made that Pumpkin Spice Crunch Cake? Well if you recall, or just cheat and go to the link :), I only used half of a box of spice cake mix because I only made one cake. I had been searching and searching for another recipe that would help me use up the other half when I stumbled across this recipe. The original does call for a whole box of spice cake mix and a 15 ounce can of pumpkin, but I found a 7 3/4 ounce can pumpkin and used the half of the mix I had left and made these little wonders! They stayed nice and moist until I ate the last one (about a week?) and had so much flavor! Another bonus, the website said it was 5 calories per muffin (I didn't do the calculations to see if it was correct)! That's right you read that correctly.......5 CALORIES!! Perfect for this time of year when we are all eating a ton of calories we shouldn't! If you need a fast treat or have leftover ingredients to use up, try these! You won't believe how good they taste!



Pumpkin Mini Muffins

Ingredients
Half a box of spice cake mix (you can do 1 whole box)
7 3/4 ounce can of pumpkin (15 ounce if using full box)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a baking sheet with a Silpat or aluminum foil.

Mix ingredients together. Using a cookie scoop, place on sheet an inch a part. Bake for 15 minutes. 

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Our First Thanksgiving Just Us.....

I hope everyone had a marvelous Thanksgiving this year! It was a bittersweet and extremely fun and exciting one rolled up into one for us. Growing up close to both our families in Indiana we always had multiple homes and dinners to attend on Thanksgiving, not to mention so many family members to see and laugh with! Well this year, we decided not to go back home, and have our first Thanksgiving in our new home with just us. Though we missed everyone back home, we ended up having a blast! I had a Thanksgiving playlist ready to go so we spent the day listening to that, watching the parade (on TV....we didn't even attempt to go), and just laughing and having fun! So today I'm letting you in on how our Thanksgiving went with a few recipes included! 

Our Menu
The Perfect Fall Cheese Ball
Roasted Turkey
Stuffing
Green Bean Casserole
Mashed Potatoes with Gravy
Apple-Bourbon Potpies

Since I knew we would be pretty busy cooking all day on Thanksgiving, I decided to make this super cute cheese ball, found here, for us to snack on (mimosas included) throughout the day. The cheese ball was so amazing! We even had to take it away from ourselves multiple times so we wouldn't spoil or dinner! We served it with crackers, Doritos, and green peppers (the peppers were a healthier option for me, but I did try them all and they were all good options). We already had the chips and peppers so I figured why not use them too. I would make this cheese ball anytime of the year! Just don't include the "stem" and you're golden!

The Perfect Fall Cheese Ball

Ingredients

16 ounces cream cheese, room temp
2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
3 Tablespoons onion, minced
3 Tablespoons salsa
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 cups nacho cheese chips, crumbled
top of 1 green bell pepper for stem garnish

Optional for dipping
crackers
tortillas
nacho cheese chips
vegetables: green, red, or yellow pepper, carrots, etc.

With a mixer combine everything except the chips and pepper. Mix until mixed well and creamy.
Place a big piece of plastic wrap in a bowl and scoop the mixture onto plastic wrap. Wrap the edges up and over, slightly pressing down so the cheese ball takes the shape of the bowl and the top is a little flat (easier to sit flat on a surface). Chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or overnight.

When ready to serve, roll ball into the crumbles chips and place bell pepper stem on top (you might want to make a slight indentation so it's "in there"). Serve with desired dipping ingredients!

I had to get some action shots of the hubby helping with dinner! :) We actually weren't expecting our dinner to turn out that great since it was our first one. Kev looked at me and said "Honey, this will help us prepare for our future Thanksgiving and when it's not just us." Ummmm........swoon! He's so sweet! Ok enough sap, back to the goods. Well, our dinner did turn out extremely well. We did a roasted turkey that we placed overnight in this Crate & Barrel brine. The next day, we rubbed it with a mixture of butter, thyme, garlic, salt, and pepper. It was so juicy and had a fantastic flavor! I did individual ramekins with green bean casserole, homemade mashed potatoes and gravy, and a bread stuffing to accompany the scrumptious turkey! We served it with a bottle of Riesling that we purchased from our trip to Cape May for our anniversary. Needless to say, we were stuffed, but that didn't stop us from having our dessert a little while later! After all, it did come from my idol......Martha herself! I made her Apple-Bourbon potpies and served it with an apple wine that we also purchased from the Cape May winery! It was perfect because I didn't think a whole pie would be ideal for two people (I may not always eat the best, but I don't pig out). I cut the recipe into a third and added a pinch of cinnamon to my apple mixture and it was warm and delicious! I served it with the perfect accompaniment, vanilla bean ice cream!      



Apple-Bourbon Potpies 
(serves 6...I cut it into thirds)

Ingredients

4 pounds apples, preferably a combination of Granny Smith and Rome, peeled, cored, and cut into eighths
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup bourbon
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 pound thawed frozen all-butter puff pastry
1 large egg, beaten
Vanilla ice cream, for serving (optional) 
*I added a pinch of cinnamon to the apple mixture

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, toss together apples, sugar, cinnamon, lemon juice, salt, and allspice. 

In a large straight-sided skillet, melt 3 tablespoons butter over high heat. Add half of fruit mixture and cook, stirring, 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-high and cook until fruit is softened, about 5 minutes more. Transfer to a bowl. Repeat with remaining 3 tablespoons butter and remaining fruit mixture, then return first batch of fruit mixture to pan. Stir in bourbon, then add flour and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Remove from heat.
Divide fruit mixture among six 8-ounce round baking dishes (each 5 inches). Place on a rimmed baking sheet; let cool completely.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out puff pastry to a 12-by-8-inch rectangle, about 1/8 inch thick. Cut out six 4-inch squares; place one over filling in each dish. Cut X-shaped vents in tops. Brush pastry with beaten egg. Bake until fillings are bubbling and crusts are golden, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes, then serve with ice cream.


After all was said and done, we were stuffed (even the dogs got a little treat and were out), happy, and thankful for such a wonderful day to celebrate together! We did get a little family time in with text, phone calls, and playing online games (man that technology has sure come a long way...lol) with each other! It was the perfect way to spend our first Thanksgiving! So from our family to yours, we hope you had a great day and remembered all you were thankful for! 




Monday, December 1, 2014

Toast, Montclair, NJ

 

Like pretty much all of my brunch spots thus far, Toast was introduced to me by one of my girlfriends! Hey what are girlfriends for right?!?! It's always nice to catch up on the weekends and get away from the boys for a bit......sorry babe! Toast is the perfect place to do just that. From the outside it looks like a tiny little building. but when you go inside, there are three levels of seating and it is jam packed with fellow brunchers. They have a menu that is very accommodating to everyone's needs in your party. The menu consists of traditional breakfast foods like your waffles, eggs, and pancakes. To more decadent versions such as the Bella Nutella (pictured below left), which is Nutella stuffed French toast with strawberries, S'mores pancakes (below right), and, Red Velvet pancakes. 


There are also food items for those that have certain dietary or diet needs. Pictured below is their gluten free carrot cake pancakes (they were amazing). And in case you're wondering, this food was from two times there (I usually take my hubby another time if I love it so he can experience it too). So besides all the amazing food choices there is something else that is amazing about this restaurant........it is BYOB! Those mimosas that the ladies  and I enjoy with our brunches usually come at a hefty price (around $7 per mimosa). However, by bringing our own bottle we end up saving about $40 (split between us) which adds up! This will definitely be a spot I will want to take those who come visit, but if you are in the area you should check it out. Beware it does get packed (the longest wait I've had is 30 minutes) because it is soooooo good!