Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Addictive Chocolate Cake

After baking this cake you will NEVER want to make a cake from a cake mix ever again! It is so moist, so delicious, and with the surprising kick of cinnamon it will definitely leave you wanting more!

Addictive Chocolate Cake
2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 cup butter (1 cube)
1/2 cup vegetable oil (or applesauce for a healthier version)
1 cup water
4 Tbsp cocoa
1/2 cup buttermilk (substitute by 1/2 cup milk & 1/2 Tbsp. vinegar)
1 tsp. baking soda
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla

Mix the flour, sugar, salt and cinnamon - set aside. Melt the butter, oil, water, cocoa. Combine the dry mixed ingredients and the melted ingredients. Beat in the buttermilk and baking soda. Then beat in the eggs, and add the vanilla. Grease and flour a 9 x 13 pan. Bake at 400 degrees for 18 minutes (test it by inserting a toothpick in the middle of the cake and it should come out clean).

Chocolate Frosting
3 Tbsp. cocoa
1/4 cup softened butter
2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla
small amount of milk

Mix the cocoa, butter, powdered sugar and vanilla. Beat until well combined and then add a splash of milk. If it's still too thick then add another small splash of milk. If your frosting is too runny then try to add a bit more powdered sugar.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Creamy Chicken Pasta

Creamy Chicken Pasta
16 oz. Penne pasta
8 oz. sour cream
2 cups chicken broth
1/4 cup onion
3 gloves of garlic
3 Tbsp. flour
2 breasts of chicken, cubed
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 tsp. dried basil or 1 Tbsp. of fresh chopped basil 

Saute the chicken in a tablespoon of olive oil, season with salt and pepper. Remove the chicken from the pan. Saute the onion for about 2 minutes and add the garlic for another 2 minutes. Return the chicken to the pan.

Cook the penne until al dente (cooked, but still a little firm).

While the pasta is cooking, begin making the sauce. In another sauce pan mix the sour cream and chicken broth on medium heat. Whisk in the flour, continue to whisk until the sauce thickens.

Mix in the penne and sauce in with the chicken. Add the cheese and basil. (If using dried basil I usually mix it in directly to the sauce - if using fresh I would mix it in at the end).

Several spears of asparagus. Place on baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Cook at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes (depending on the size of your spears and how firm you like it).

I just check on it every few minutes by stabbing your fork into the asparagus, your fork should go into the asparagus with ease, but take a little effort to get out. They shouldn't be soggy, but they also shouldn't be too crunchy.

If you have some left over shredded Parm, I would sprinkle some of that on in the last minute of cooking. Delish!


DIY Baby Headband

My baby girl is growing out of all of her little tights she wore as a new baby. They're all still in really good condition, so I decided to repurpose them.

I cut the legging portion of the tights off. Then I cut each of those two pieces in half - so you'll have four peices - enough for two headbands!
I then sew two of the pieces together - you will have two seams. Make sure the seams are facing the same way, so when you turn it inside out the edges are both facing inward. Then I take one of the seams, scrunch it up, and sew it in place.  
Take a piece of ribbon (preferrably the same color as your leggins), wrap it around once and sew it in place. Then wrap it around again so you create a loop which you can attach bows to.  
There you have it! You're own little make-shift headband.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Shrimp Paella

This is a Spanish (as in from Spain) delicacy, and one of the few dishes from Spain that actually appeal to my taste buds!

Shrimp Paella

Prep: 25 min. Cook: 20 min.
Yield: 8 servings

1 medium sweet red pepper; chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp. canola oil
4 green onions, thinly sliced
2 cans (14-1/2 oz. each) vegetable broth
2 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. ground turmeric
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. pepper
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
2 pounds uncooked medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 cups uncooked couscous
2 cups frozen peas, thawed
2 Tbsp. minced fresh parsley (or cilantro)

In a large nonstick skillet coated with nonstick cooking spray, sauté red pepper and garlic in oil for 2 minutes. Add onions; cook 2 minutes longer or until red pepper is tender.
Stir in broth and seasonings; bring to a boil. Add shrimp; cook for 2-3 minutes or just until shrimp turn pink. Return to a boil. Stir in the couscous and peas. 
Remove from the heat; cover and let stand for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork. Sprinkle with parsley (or cilantro).

*Recipe Note: You can substitute chicken for the shrimp, but if you're a seafood eater I strongly recommend the shrimp. 
You can also use cooked shrimp which might be a little easier, just throw them in when you pour in your vegetable broth. 
You also are supposed to garnish the dish with fresh parsley, but I do fresh cilantro to give it an extra little kick! 
This time I actually used Authentic Israeli Whole Wheat Couscous - it was delicious but just took longer to cook. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Man-Catchin' Brownies

Yep, you heard me - Man-Catchin'. If you're single and looking, make these brownies and you won't be single for long! They won my husbands' heart. 

Man-Catchin' Brownies
2 cups flour
2 cups oats
1-1/2 cups brown sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1-1/2 cups cold butter
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 12 oz. jar Caramel ice cream topping

1. Whisk the flour, oats, brown sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt until well combined.
2. Cut in the cold butter until the mixture is crumbly - use a pastry cutter, or if you don't have one use two kitchen knives. The better the butter is cut in the mixture, the more moist your brownies with be.
3. Set half of the mixture aside. Press other half into a greased 13x9 inch glass baking dish.
4. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.
5. Remove from oven and sprinkle the chocolate chips, and then drizzle the caramel until evenly spread out. Sprinkle the remaining crumb mixture over the top.
6. Bake again at 350 degrees for 18-20 minutes.
7. Cool for 2 hours before cutting for best results.

Pillow with Piping

I was at the fabric store the other day, saw this fabric in the red tag section and fell in love with it. It was regularly $20 a yard, and I snatched it for $6 a yard! Yahoo! I decided I'd recover an old pillow. So I took out the stuffing from an old pillow, and cut out that piping so I could reuse it all. To make an 18" pillow you will need:
2: 19"x19" pieces of fabric
At least 73" of piping
At least 73" of your piping fabric
A form pillow, or a bunch of stuffing
First, prepare your piping: 
 Sew as close to the piping as possible without sewing on top of it. You want the piping to be nice and tight. 
Take one piece of material with the 'pretty' side facing up. Take your piping and pin it so the piping and facing  toward the center of your pillow and the rough edge is facing out. I snipped the corners of the piping to help them bend around the corners of the pillow. 
 After your piping is sewn to one piece of the pillow, pin your other piece of fabric, 'pretty' sides facing each other, and the piping is in between them. 
 When sewing the two pieces together, try to sew on the same seam you made when sewing the piping to the fabric. If you follow this same seam then you should be able to avoid sewing on top of your piping. Once again try to sew as close to your piping as possible, so that it pops out between the two sides of the pillow nicely. 
Also, make sure to leave a 6" space on one side of your pillow to turn it inside-out. Do not sew your pillow shut!
Turn your pillow inside-out. Stuff your pillow. You don't have to stuff it 100% full if you're looking for more of a relaxed and casual look, or you can stuff it pretty tight for a bolder statement. Pin the hole in your pillow shut. Depending on your sewing machine, you can either hand-sew the hole shut, or use your machine. It make take a little more effort with the machine, but it will be a tighter stitch - just make sure to use a thread color that will blend in easily, and get as close to the piping as possible. 
And there you have it! An inexpensive way to make a little pop to your couch, and add a little more color into your house. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Zucchini Pasta

Zucchini Pasta
3 medium zucchinis
2-3 oz. linguine
1-2 chicken breasts
2 Tbsp. Fresh Basil or 2 tsp. Dried Basil
1/4 cup. Shredded Parmesan 
1/4 Mozzarella

When determining how much linguine to cook - do about 1/3 of what you would normally cook for a pasta dish. This meal replaces a large portion of your carbs with zucchini, and it's even more delicious! Boil the linguine for about 7-8 minutes so it's still a little firm. 

Cube your chicken in small bite size pieces. Cook on medium-high heat in a large saute pan. Add a dash of salt and pepper. Once chicken is fully cooked, remove from pan. 

Chop up your zucchini in very fine strips (as shown above). Put them in the same pan used to cook the chicken, and drizzle a tablespoon or two of olive oil on zucchini. Cook on medium-high heat for 3-4 minutes until they're starting to bend - but not too soggy and flimsy, you still want a little bit of a crunch.     

Add the chicken back into the pan. Add the basil. Then add the linguine and cheese. Combine the ingredients, heat through, and serve!

Monday, May 16, 2011


I found myself hours before a baby shower - with no gift! So I made do with what I had and came up with this fun little blanket. I had 1/2 yard of some super soft yellow fleece, and 1-1/2 yards of this little monkey baby fleece. So I cut 1 yard of the monkey for the back, then 6 inch strips of the other 1/2 yard of monkey and of the yellow. 
Sew all of the strips together with the seams hiding underneath. 
Sew the strips to the monkey fabric with the 'pretty' sides facing each other.  
Do not sew the entire blanket shut. Keep a 10 inch opening to turn the blanket inside out.  
After turning it inside out, sew it shut by turning down the edges - continue to sew a 1/4 inch seam around the edge. I also randomly did a few stitches throughout the body of the blanket to keep it from separating. A cute little warm blanket. It was a hit at the baby shower and the mama loved it!

Chicken Stromboli

Chicken Stromboli
Refrigerated Pizza Dough (homemade or store bought - up to you!)
1 -1/2 cups fresh spinach
2 Roma tomatoes
2 chicken breasts
1-1/2 cups mozzarella 
2 Tbsp Shredded Parmesan
1 Tbsp Italian seasoning

1. Cook the chicken the way that works best for you - in the oven, crock pot, frying pan, whatever!
2. Roll out the pizza dough into a rectangle about 12x15 inches. Drizzle olive oil on the dough, sprinkle the Italian seasoning and the Parmesan on the dough as well. 
3. Coarsely chop the spinach, and dice the tomatoes. Shred or chop the chicken. Sprinkle the chicken, spinach and tomatoes over the dough leaving a 1 inch margin all the way around. 
4. Once all of your ingredients are spread on the dough, roll it up like a cinnamon roll. Pinch the sides shut. drizzle some more olive oil on top. Sprinkle a bit more shredded Parmesan cheese on top. Cut 3 slits on the top.
5. Bake at 425 degrees for 15-20 minutes. 
6. Let your Stromboli cool for 10 minutes. Then slice in 1 inch pieces. Dip in your favorite marinara sauce. 
7. Enjoy!!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Easy Onesie

My baby girl goes through several onesies a day. This is a fun way to save some money, but still have a cute little stylish baby. Take some scraps of fabric left over from other projects. Buy a 5 pack of the plain white onesies for $8-$10 depending on where you buy them, and what brand you go with. Brainstorm a few ideas of what you could make with the fabric you have, draw up a little design, and go for it! Owls are all over the place, so I decided to go with a cute little colorful owl. Cut out your pieces:
Then cut out matching bond paper to each piece. Depending on the directions on the package - you should iron each piece of fabric to it's matching bond paper piece for about 2-3 seconds. 
Pull off the fabric from the paper and place it on your onesie. Start with the bottom piece and work your way up. So I did the brown, then green, pink, eyes, beak and nose. Iron each piece for about 6-7 seconds until it is secure. If you use felt you should sew it on because the bond paper doesn't adhere very well to the felt. 
If you really want to make it last sew the edge of each piece to enforce it. Within just a few minutes you've got a cute new little onesie! Anywhere from ties to butterflies the possibilities are endless!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Turkey Sliders

Turkey Sliders
1 lb. ground turkey
1 egg
1/4 cup Italian Bread Crumbs
1/8 tsp. onion powder
1/8 tsp. garlic powder
1/4 tsp. black pepper

1 avocado
2 Roma tomatoes
Romaine Lettuce
Steak Sauce
Dinner Rolls

1. Beat the egg in a large mixing bowl. Add the ground turkey, bread crumbs, onion and garlic powder, and pepper. Mix all of the ingredients until well combined. 
2. Take a small handful of the ground turkey mixture, flatten, and place on grill. 
3. Slice the avocado, the tomatoes and prepare the lettuce. 

I usually use some fresh dinner rolls from the bakery - they're the perfect size for these little turkey sliders. We like to put a little splash of steak sauce on the burger, then add the avocado, tomato and lettuce. These turkey sliders are perfect for dinner to feed several people, or fun to serve at a party. These are so delicious, and since they're so small you don't feel guilty eating more than one...or more than two. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Guilt-free Banana Bread

We always have bananas in our house. They're so yummy on cereal, in pancakes, and a great snack. But when it's really warm and humid, those bananas sure ripen quickly! So if I have a few bananas going bad I either throw them in the freezer to use later on, or I go ahead and make this delicious bread. We love it!!

Guilt-free Banana Bread
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup white sugar
1-1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 egg whites
1 cup bananas, mashed (about 3 bananas)
1/4 cup applesauce

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease an 8x4 inch loaf pan. (I use a glass pan - it tends to cook the bread a little more evenly - but whatever you have will work!).
2. In a large bowl, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon. Add the egg whites, applesauce and mashed bananas. Stir all of the ingredients just until it's combined, do not stir it too much or for too long. Pour the batter into your prepared pan.
3. Bake for 42-47  minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Turn onto a wire rack and allow to cool before slicing.

Sunday, May 8, 2011


Another little toy for my baby girl. This little chicken is so cute to look at, to play with, to toss, and to poke. I love his little wings. Someday I might just make his little piggie and lamb friends.

Stuffed-Apple Cinnamon Rolls

I just got a new cookbook with lots of delicious recipes, and I'm so excited to try them all out! This one I tried this morning, and it was fabulous.
1 package refrigerated pizza dough
2 cups shredded green apples (about 3 large apples)
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon flour

1 tablespoon butter, melted
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

6 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 tablespoon melted butter
1/4 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract
1/2 teaspoon milk

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2. Spray a pie plate with nonstick cooking spray and set aside.
3. On a lightly floured surface, roll the pizza dough into a rectangle approximately 12 x 18 inches. Using a pizza cutter, cut dough into 3-inch squares.
4. In a mixing bowl, combine the shredded apples, brown sugar, cinnamon, and flour. Divide evenly by putting a spoonful on each square of pizza dough. Pinch to seal shut forming a round ball. Place balls seam-side down in pie plate.
5. Combine the topping ingredients and sprinkle on top of the dough. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the rolls are golden brown on top. Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes.
6. While the rolls are cooling, whisk the glaze ingredients until smooth. Drizzle on top of the rolls and serve.


For my birthday my sister-in-law got me the best book! It's one of Martha's best books! I've decided to make my baby girl a little stuffed animal. This cute little bunny caught my eye. It was really quick and easy, and I might make a few more! She played with him all day today, so especially loves his ears.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Rustic Italian Tortellini Soup

Rustic Italian Tortellini Soup
Prep: 20 min. Cook: 20 min.
Yield: 6 servings
3 Italian turkey sausage links (4 oz. each), casings removed
1 medium onion, chopped
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 cans (14-1/2 oz. each) reduced-sodium chicken broth
1-3/4 cups water
1 can (14-1/2 oz.) diced tomatoes, undrained
1 pkg. (9 oz.) refrigerated cheese tortellini
1 pkg. (6 oz.) fresh baby spinach, coarsely chopped
2-1/4 tsp. minced fresh basil or ¾ tsp. dried basil
¼ tsp. pepper
Dash crushed red pepper flakes
Shredded Parmesan cheese, optional
Crumble sausage into a Dutch oven; add onion. Cook and stir over medium heat until meat is no longer pink. Add garlic; cook and stir 2 minutes longer. Add the broth, water and tomatoes. Bring to a boil.
Stir in tortellini; return to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 5-8 minutes or until tortellini are tender, stirring occasionally. Add the spinach, basil, pepper and pepper flakes; cook 2-3 minutes longer or until spinach is wilted. Serve with cheese if desired.

More Aprons

While making aprons I decided to mix it up a little bit. I came up with 2 different styles other than the DIY apron below. Which one is your favorite?




DIY Apron

Aprons have been the craze lately. Anywhere from ruffles and gathers, to straps and bow, it's more than just to protect your clothes when you're cooking - it's feeling cute while you're cooking! Here's a simple and easy way to make a quick and cute apron!

Step 1: These measurements are enough to make 2 aprons. 
       - 1 yard of the main fabric
       - 1/2 yard for the straps
       - 1/2 yard for the ruffle

Step 2: Cut the fabric
     - Bottom: 22" x 22"
     - Top: 14" H x 15" W
     - Waist Strap: 2 pieces - 44" x 4"
     - Neck Strap: 2 pieces - 22" x 3"
     - Ruffle: 3 pieces - 44" x 4"

Step 3: Edges
This is the most tedious part - but worth it.  I fold over the edges, twice, and sew it - so that when you wash the apron it won't fray. 

Step 4: Sew Top & Bottom Together
Take your top piece and bottom piece (if your fabric has a pattern make sure the pattern is facing the same way), put the "pretty" sides together. Put the top piece right in the middle of the bottom piece. Pin together and sew. 

Step 5: The Ruffle
Take the 3 pieces of fabric for your ruffle and sew them together. I make sure that at least one side is finished off. Then I change the width of my stitch on my sewing machine to about 4.5 instead of the usual 2.5. I stitch down the opposite side of the finished side. Do not do a backstitch. Grab the thread on the back of this stitch and pull. Hold the top thread still and pull the bottom thread. You'll notice your fabric will start to scrunch up. Continue to push down the gathers and pull the thread until your ruffle is all scrunched and ready to go! 

Step 6: Sew on the Ruffle
Because of the gathers in a ruffle it will tend to spiral, so make sure to pin it to your apron to make the process of sewing it together a lot easier. The "pretty" sides are together, with the finished side of the ruffle towards the apron and the gathered side facing away from the apron. 

Step 7: Neck Binding
Next, fold down the top 2 inches of the top piece of your apron. Sew it so there is a hole for your neck strap.
Step 8: Straps
Take the 2 pieces for your waist strap and sew them together, to make one long piece. Put the two sides together with the "pretty" side of the material on the inside. Once that is all sewn, sew one end of the strip - not both sides, only one. Then you have to turn this inside out. 
The easiest way I've found to do this is to put a kitchen cooking spoon and pushing the finished end through, until you can pull the end all the was through. 
Then finish the other open end. Then iron the strap for a nicer finished look. 

 Step 9: Neck Strap
 Slide the neck strap you just made through the hole on the top of your apron. Sew a small stitch right in the middle of the top of your apron to make the strap stay in place.
Then scrunch up the top to lengthen the strap and give your apron a little character.

 Step 10: Waist Strap
Follow the directions in step 8. Once complete pin your strap around the waist of your apron, in between the top and bottom pieces of your apron. Sew in place, and you're all finished!

This is just one way to make a fun apron. You can add pockets, no ruffle, a straight neck rather than a gathered neck, and many more alterations. The truth is, it's all about the fabric. The same design with different fabric can completely change your look. Have fun! I'd love to see what you can come up with!