Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Cake Batter Blondies

Good Morning!!!

Yesterday was a fun day of baking with my lil niece, especially since we ended up with some gooey cake batter goodness. They taste even better the next day with coffee, I mean who doesn't love to eat cake for breakfast! 

Cake Batter Blondies

1 box of yellow cake mix
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
3/4 cup white chocolate chips
2 tablespoons sprinkles (optional)

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2.  Combine cake mix, oil and egg in a large mixing bowl.
3.  Slowly add the milk - you want the batter to remain as dense as possible.
4.  Fold in white chocolate chips.
5.  Pour mixture into a greased 9x9 square baking dish.
6.  Lightly spread sprinkles over batter.
7.  Bake 20-30 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown.

(once removed from the oven, they may appear super gooey and not fully done, but that's what you want, that's what makes them so good!)


Saturday, August 27, 2011

Mirror Inspiration

Once we FINALLY painted our master bedroom, I was super anxious to find a mirror to hang over our dresser.  I knew what I wanted and of course had it all pictured out in my head, but wow, didn't realize how pricey these things can get. I had just received my latest issue of  Home Decorators Collection, and fell in love with a few of these beauties...

Thankfully, our nearby HomeGoods store had the perfect mirror.  And, if you haven't experienced HomeGoods, you are totally missing out!  It's by far one of my favorite stores to find anything for the house at amazing prices.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Summertime Soup

Soup in the summer, crazy I know, but you see, my husband could eat soup everyday, he just loves it.  I decided to try this recipe since it's still asparagus season and it didn't call for any heavy cream, so it sounded pretty healthy!  I served it with a side of garlic rubbed crostinis, topped with fresh heirlooms...enjoy!

Asparagus Soup with Herbed Goat Cheese
adapted from: food network

Goat Cheese ~
1/2 cup (4 ounces) goat cheese, at room temperature
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Soup ~
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 large leek (white and light green part only), thinly sliced
4 cups low sodium chicken broth
2 pounds medium asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Goat Cheese ~
1.  Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, set aside.
2.  Using a fork, in a small bowl, combine the goat cheese and basil until smooth. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
3.  Using a round tablespoon, scoop the goat cheese into balls and arrange on the prepared baking sheet. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Soup ~
1.  In a dutch oven or large saucepan, heat the butter over medium heat.
2.  Add the leeks and cook, stirring constantly until softened, about 3 to 4 minutes.
3.  Add the broth, asparagus and basil. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Increase the heat to high and bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until the asparagus is tender, about 15 minutes.
4. Using an immersion blender (the soup can also be pureed by ladling in batches, into a food processor or blender) blend the soup until smooth. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
5.  Ladle the soup into shallow bowls and garnish with the herbed goat cheese.

Heirloom Crostini

1 lb. mini heirloom tomatoes, halved or 6 tomatoes, chopped
1 sourdough baguette (cut in 1/2 inch slices)
1 whole garlic clove (cut in half)
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Olive oil

1.  In a large bowl, combine 1/4 cup olive oil, balsamic vinegar, fresh chopped basil (stems removed), tomatoes, salt and pepper.  Allow mixture to sit about 10 minutes.
2. Preheat a grill pan or toaster oven to medium heat.  Brush both sides of the sliced bread with olive oil and grill until golden brown, about 1 - 2 minutes.
3.  Remove bread from grill and rub each slice with the cut side of garlic clove.
4.  Divide the tomato mixture evenly over the baguette slices.
5.  Top with fresh basil and serve.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Morro Bay

After a fun filled weekend with family in Carpinteria, home of one of the best beaches in California, we decided to take a lil detour on our way home and stop in Morro Bay.

The weather was cool and overcast, great change up from the super sunny days at the beach and fierce heat we would be heading back to.  Our first stop was a stroll along the Waterfront Embarcadero in search for Giovanni's Fish Market & Galley.  Very casual with outdoor seating which we enjoyed but had to be on guard for all the hungry seagulls ready to attack our fresh halibut sandwich.

 It was good, but just didn't satisfy our taste-buds, so we decided to keep walking and look for another place to check out...Tognazzin's Dockside Restaurant for a quick cocktail and some excellent clam chowder!

Then on to Stax Wine Bar where you can find a variety of local wines and fabulous eats.  We decided on the crostini ala portobello, just heavenly!  Some of my favorite things ever...mushrooms, parmigiano-reggiano and pesto anxious to try and make it at home.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Baked Pennette & Summer Veggies

This recipe is perfect for hitting up your local farmers' market for the freshest produce in season!

Baked Pennette & Summer Veggies
adapted from: myrecipes

4 ounces pennette or pasta of your choice
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup chopped yellow squash
1 cup chopped zucchini
1 cup chopped crimini mushrooms
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 chopped shallot
2 cups chopped tomato (1c. fresh & 1c. can of diced)
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
1/2 cup grated parmesan 
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
1 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper (or 1/8 if you prefer less heat)
1/4 cup (2 ounces) ricotta cheese
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Cooking Spray

1.  Cook pasta according to package directions
2.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees
3.  Heat large skillet over medium-high heat, add oil to pan.  Add squash, zucchini, mushrooms, onion and shallot; saute 5 minutes.  Add tomato and garlic; saute 4 minutes.  Remove from heat; stir in pasta, 1/2 cup mozzarella, 1/4 cup parmesan, herbs, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper.
4.  Combine ricotta, remaining salt, and egg.  Stir into pasta mixture.  Spoon into an 8-inch square glass or ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray; sprinkle with remaining mozzarella and parmesan.  Bake at 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes or until bubbly and browned.

Yield:  4 servings

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Beginning

So before we moved I was working full time at a commercial real estate company where I would spend a lot of my time creating marketing pieces for our listings.  At first, I was totally intimidated considering I had never really used the programs they were hoping that I would be familiar with, such as Microsoft Publisher...well it didn't take much time for me to realize how amazing it could be and the endless possibilities of creating anything you desire.  It was the only way we were able to design our very own wedding invitations, which I enjoyed every minute of!  I think that whole process made me discover my passion for all DIY projects!

Now that I'm home working from our personal computer, I no longer had access to Publisher which was real disappointing when I tried to create a simple card and it took ehhhh about 4 days!!! So unbelievable!  And wow, it can be very frustrating trying to create anything on Word and Paint!  But thankfully, I have an amazing husband who totally supports this crazy new adventure of my creative side, that he was able to downloaded a free 60-day trial, wooooohoooooo!!!! It totally made my day!!!!  It's funny, how the little things (even better when the are free) can mean so much to us!  I feel totally inspired and excited now that I have publisher!!!  Guess you all know where I will be hiding out for the next 60 days....

Here is the link for your free trial, check it out and have fun:

I think this was my first publisher project, our Save the Date postcards...