Thursday, December 29, 2011

Coming out of Hibernation?

Dear faithful blog readers, I am so sorry that we have been on a fall/winter hiatus. I've sort of been hibernating, and eating more food than I've been cooking.  Rose and I are both a year older as well, which I am using as an excuse for our slowed-down blogging.  It's a feeble excuse.  I know.


We will be back SO SOON.  Pinky swear.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Pumpkin Loaf

Labor Day. The glorious segue from summer into fall. In honor of the most fantastic season being right around the corner, I'm going to give you all a fabulous recipe to get your warm and fuzzy fix. I had a Pumpkin Spice Latte from Starbuck's this morning, and this recipe would have been a perfect match. This pumpkin bread is to die for. I personally think it's better than Starbuck's pumpkin loaf and it's easy to make. It's rainy and chilly here in Pittsburgh (which I happen to love) and I'm planning on snuggling up to a movie tonight and waiting for the incredible scent of pumpkin spice to fill my house while this bakes. What are you waiting for? You do it too!


First, preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and in a big bowl, mix these together:

1  (15 oz) can pumpkin puree (or 2 cups if you have a bigger can)

4 eggs

1 cup vegetable oil

2/3 cup lukewarm water

3 cups sugar

Now in a separate bowl, whisk together:

3 1/2 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

and all the fragrant lovely spices: 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon, 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground nutmeg, 3/4 teaspoon ground cloves, and 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger. I love it with lots of spice, but if you want a milder flavor, feel free to cut back on them.


Stir all the dry ingredients into the bowl with the wet ingredients just until combined. Don't over-blend. Pour into (2) 9x5" loaf pans that have been greased and floured. My oven takes about 55-60 minutes.

Ready for this? Sit down, because this is going to knock your socks off. As if this wasn't delicious enough already, we're going to push it right over the top. After you take the loaves out of the oven, while they are still hot, poke several small holes in the tops.  Melt some butter, cinnamon, and sugar in a bowl and  drizzle over the loaves. No specific amounts, just add enough til you think it's awesome. You can thank me later.

While it may feel like torture to have these incredible delights tempting you on the counter, do yourself a favor and let them sit overnight. If they rest for about a day, all those spices get to know eachother and become friends. While the loaves are still warm, wrap them up in saran wrap, and they'll become even more delicious and moist and fabulous.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Happy Birthday, Bloggy!

Today is our one year anniversary of blogging on Rosebuds & Buttercups...thank you to all of you who are reading out there!  It means more than we can say.  Here's to another wonderful year of food, fun, and friendship!


Rose & Jenny

One Sip and You’ll Surrender

Strawberry Basil Caipirinha

Take a sip, close your eyes, and be transported to Rio De Janeiro…Brazil’s national cocktail is a perfect drink for summer and you’ll love this lightened up version with a twist.


Muddle together 4 strawberries and 3 large basil leaves with a packet or two of Splenda (to taste) and some club soda. Add the juice from ½ a lime and 1-2 shots of cachaça. Shake with ice and serve on the rocks. Garnish with a lime wedge or a strawberry.


Put Da Lime In Da Coconut

This simple cocktail is great for laying out by the pool. It’s simple and tasty and the calorie count is about as low as it gets for something that tastes like a dessert.


Shake up the juice from ½ a lime, 1-2 shots of Bacardi Rock Coconut and enough club soda to fill the glass. Pour over ice and serve with a lime wedge.

Thai Curry Tofu

So this is more of a product review than a recipe, but we’ll call it a two-fer. I’m not at all into curry or tofu, but these two things together are delicious! Never something I though I would like, but gave it a shot just in case. It’s spicy (but not too spicy) and flavorful and just really good. I like to eat it with chopsticks just for fun. This is such a quick thing to whip up, it’s nice when you’re whooped at the end of the day and just want something easy to throw together.


Start off by steaming a bag of frozen broccoli and cooking up some mushrooms.

Cut up extra firm tofu into bite size chunks (serving size is 1/5 or 1/4 of the package depending on brand) and sauté in a pan until there is a nice golden color on the edges.

In a separate pan, heat up a ¼ cup of Trader Joe’s Thai Red Curry Sauce.

Mix it all together and you’re set!


Nutritional information:

Calories: 250

Fat: 13

Carbs: 24

Protein: 19

Creamy Spinach and Mushroom Pasta

I’m starting out with my favorite healthy recipe. This is so delicious, you would never guess it was a lighten up version. It has a sort of alfredo-ness about it, but not as rich. It’s just creamy and flavorful and seriously yummy. You’ll crave this whether you’re trying to cut back or not. Here’s a recipe for 2 servings.


Start off by boiling some Dreamfields spaghetti (1” dry circle) This is low-carb pasta that seriously doesn’t taste any different from normal stuff. I hate whole wheat pasta – it tastes like cardboard. I also can’t get into shirataki noodles – way too weird of a consistency. The Dreamfields is right on in taste and texture, just make sure you cook according to the instructions on the box. If you overcook your noodles, the carbs will creep back in.

Combine 2 wedges of Laughing Cow light garlic and herb, 1 Tablespoon of fat free sour cream, 1 Tablespoon of grated parmesan cheese, and garlic salt to taste. You’ll want to heat this up in the microwave for 30 seconds or so just to make it smoother. Stir this sauce into drained and heated frozen spinach (a 10 oz box is good) and cooked baby bella mushrooms ( I used about 10-15). When your pasta is finished cooking, drain it and mix in the spinach/mushroom sauce. I like to sprinkle the top with fresh diced tomatoes. Feel free to add some chicken in the mix, but I prefer it without.


Nutritional information per serving:

Calories: 304

Fat: 4.5

Carbs: 19

Protein: 16.5

Lighten Up

The next handful of recipes I post are going to have a healthier, lower cal, lower fat spin on things. Nobody craves diet food, but these recipes are tried and true winners and you won’t feel like you’re missing out on anything. I’ve adapted most of them from the popular Hungry Girl books, just tweaking them a bit to my taste, or if they’re good as is, I’ll give you a review so you can try it for yourself. I’ll categorize this new little series as “deLIGHTful” :-)  Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


I'm seriously craving my mom's Italian food.  So please forgive the slew of recipes that I'm posting that involve some sort of sauce and gooey melty cheese combination.  But in case you're ever in the market for an easy, family pleasing lasagna recipe (and who isn't), try this one out.  It's basic and it's delicious.  Plus, you always have the option of adding veggies or meat to the recipe if that's what floats your boat.  But try out the original recipe (courtesy of my mom) below first - you won't regret it!


15 lasagna noodles

16 ounces mozzarella cheese

16 ounces large curd cottage cheese

1 jar pasta sauce (avoid the watery marinara variety)

parmesan cheese


Cook lasagna noodles according to directions on box.  Once the pasta is drained, carefully lay out each lasagna noodle flat on pieces of wax paper to cool.  Spread a thin layer of sauce on the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish (I use a glass pan).  Add a layer of noodles (3, next to each other), then a layer of cottage cheese, then a layer of mozzarella cheese.  Spoon a line of sauce down the center of the cheese topped noodle.  Sprinkle the top of the sauce with parmesan cheese.  Then repeat the layering (noodles, cottage cheese, mozzarella, sauce, parmesan).  Keep the 3 best lasagna noodles (no cracks or breaks) for the top layer.  Layer the last 3 noodles next to each other on the top, then cover with sauce and mozzarella and parmesan cheese.  Spoon cheese around the sides of the pan so the lasagna doesn't dry out.  Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to an hour, until bubbly.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Veggie Pizza

Have you ever noticed that graduation parties and reunions have some of the best food ever?  I love good old fashioned party food, and this is one of my favorite appetizers.  Delicious!  The recipe is adapted from a cookbook that my parents gave me a few years back, which was made by the family of one of the guys that my dad works with.  Long story, I know, but I try to give credit where it's due.  Here are the ingredients:


two cans refrigerated crescent rolls

two 8 ounce packages cream cheese, softened

1 packet of ranch dressing mix (dry)

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1/3 cup sour cream

assorted raw veggies of your choice (here are some ideas):

  • chopped broccoli

  • shredded carrots

  • chopped cauliflower

  • sliced mushrooms

  • sliced radishes

  • black olives

1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Beat together cream cheese, mayo, sour cream, and ranch dressing packet.  Unroll the crescent roll dough and cover the bottom of a 15x10 inch jelly roll pan and pinch the edges together (make sure you press the perforations together as well).  Prick the dough all over with a fork.  Bake the crescent roll dough for 10 minutes until very lightly browned.  Remove from oven and spread on the cream cheese mixture.  Sprinkle the assorted veggies on top of the cheese.  Sprinkle the cheddar cheese on top of the veggies.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours.  Cut into squares and serve.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Smelly Chicken

Don't be turned off by the name of the chicken, I beg you.  This is a recipe of my Gram's, and we used to call it this because it made the house smell SO. GOOD.  I talked to my Grammy today and was thinking of her when I was going through recipes for this post.  This is perfect for summer - fresh herbs, and such a delicious and unique taste.  Try it today!  You and your family will love it!


1 to 1.5 pounds chicken pieces (you can use boneless breasts, or bone-in pieces like wings, legs, etc - up to you)

Sprinkle the chicken pieces with salt, allspice, and cinnamon.  Brown the chicken pieces in a deep pot in 3 tablespoons of oil.  Once the chicken pieces are browned, add:

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1/2 cup flat leaf parsley, finely chopped

1 teaspoon rosemary, finely chopped

1 teaspoon thyme, finely chopped

1 tablespoon basil, finely chopped

1 large vine ripe tomato, chopped into small chunks

1/2 cup dry white wine (whatever you would feel comfortable drinking)

Mix the herbs, tomato, and wine well with the chicken, cover and cook slowly until tender (45 minutes to 1 hour).

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Hot Crab Dip

When it's summertime, I always think of eating seafood.  It's delicious, summery and light.  This is the perfect summer appetizer that will rival any crab dip that you would order at a restaurant.  It's also great for holidays as well.  This is my aunt's recipe, and she always brings it to my grandma's house for Christmas.  It's gone in about two seconds.  So here it gift to you!  Think of it as Christmas in July!


1 can crab meat (6 oz)

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon finely minced onion

grated parmesan cheese for the topping


Combine all ingredients (except for the parmesan cheese) and pour into a shallow baking dish.  Top with a layer of grated parmesan cheese.  Bake for 30 minutes at 400 degrees until brown and bubbly.

Monday, July 18, 2011

More S'mores, please!

This recipe is a little bit of this and a little bit of that. Everyone loved these and I thought they looked absolutely adorable.

First off, use the graham cupcake recipe from my key lime pie cupcakes. Fill these little guys with marshmallow fluff (from a jar, because you know I'm not making homemake fluff. Please.) Then frost them with my sent-from-the-heavens chocolate ganache frosting.

I decorated these with mini marshmallows, a piece of Hershey's chocolate bar, and then drizzled them with some of the liquid chocolate ganache. Gorgeous!

Key Lime Pie Cupcakes

Key Lime Pie Cupcakes

Because Key West is calling my name but I’m dirt poor, I opted to bring a little bit of the Keys to me. There’s nothing like a cool, refreshing key lime pie on a hot summer day. And because I’m the local cupcake dealer and my coworkers are cupcake junkies, I modified this classic treat into a portable delight. Like most of my cupcakes, there are 3 parts to this recipe – the cupcake, the filling, and the frosting. These were absolutely delicious. Just a few tips – they were better on the first day, so make these right before you plan to eat them. They were fine as leftovers, but the filling sort of soaked into the cake and just…eh…eat em while they’re fresh. Also, if you have to refrigerate them and then serve, make sure they come back to room temperature. They are definitely not as good while cold. The flavors are so much more pronounced when you let them warm up a bit. Who needs Margaritaville when there’s cake?

Graham Cupcakes
Makes about 3 dozen

1 cup softened butter
2 cups sugar
6 eggs, room temperature
2 cups milk (I used 2%)
2 cups flour
3 cups graham cracker crumbs (do yourself a favor and just buy the box of crumbs – it would take forever to smoosh graham crackers into a powder. However, if you’re feeling angry and need an outlet, this might be a perfect project for you.)
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Sift together the flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
Break out the Kitchenaid (you’ll need it – there’s a lot of wet batter and it’s kinda messy) and mix the butter until it’s creamed. Add the sugar a little at a time and mix for another couple of minutes until it’s nice and fluffy. Slowly add one egg at a time, mixing thoroughly between each one. Incorporate some of the dry mix into the butter/sugar/eggs, then add some of the milk. Switching back and forth, add the flour mix and the milk, a little at a time, ending with the dry. Continue to mix until it looks like it came together nicely.
Scoop into cupcake liners and bake for about 16-18 minutes.

Easy Peasy Citrus Curd

While that’s baking, you can make your “Why the Heck Have I Painstakingly Been Using A Double Boiler and Timing It Precisely For Years” Key Lime Curd (remember this when you want to make lemon curd, you hear that, self?! Don’t be a dummy - do it the easy way!)
This makes about 2 cups and you’re going to need…

1 cup sugar
3 eggs (the whole egg, not just the yolks as most other recipes have)
1 cup citrus juice (I used key lime, but you can use lemon, lime, orange, meyer lemon…mmm)
1/2 cup melted butter

In a large microwave-safe bowl, whisk together the sugar and eggs until smooth and thoroughly combined. Whisk in citrus juice, and then a little bit of the melted butter. You don’t want the eggs to scramble, so incorporate the melted butter slowly.

Cook in the microwave in one minute intervals, stirring after each minute. The timing will depend on the strength of your microwave, but mine took 4 minutes. You will know the curd is done cooking when it coats the back of a metal spoon. I tasted this while it was still hot, and I wasn’t very impressed. There was just something off. Wait until it’s cooled off and you’ve refrigerated it for at least an hour before you taste test. It thickens up and has a nice tang to it. Yummy!


My Go-To Cream Cheese Frosting Recipe

Beat one package of cream cheese (8 oz) with 5 Tablespoons of softened butter and 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract until combined. Very slowly (seriously, this is going to puff out of the mixer like it’s snowing) add 3 cups of powdered sugar. Mix until it’s nice and creamy and delicious looking. Since I was putting this on a key lime pie cupcake, I added about 2-3 Tablespoons of key lime juice to the frosting. It was very subtle but tasty.

Friday, July 15, 2011

A Triumphant Return

Hey...remember that one time when I used to post pictures every friday?  And I even had a name for that "weekly" posting?  Photo Friday?  Any takers?

Yeah, I hardly remembered myself.  But, I'm bringin it back, baby!

Here is a shot from a drive earlier this spring on the Blue Ridge Parkway here in the lovely mountains of North Carolina.  No leaves on the trees yet...but I loved how the sun looked in this photo.

Enjoy your weekend, everyone!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Raisin Bran Muffins

I'm craving carbs like crazy today, and I was digging through recipes to post...these sounded delicious.  I forget where my mom and sister actually got this recipe (maybe a newspaper), but I DO remember the dozens of muffins that this recipe made.  The recipe is for 6 dozen muffins (yes, you read that correctly), but obviously you can split it if you want less.  The great thing is that because this recipe uses buttermilk, it can keep in your fridge for up to 6 WEEKS.  Now, that sounds a bit weird to me, but that's what the recipe says.   Here's what you'll need:


4 eggs, beaten

1 quart buttermilk

5 teaspoons baking soda

3 cups sugar

5 cups unsifted flour

1 cup cooking oil

15 ounce box of raisin bran flakes


Combine all ingredients well and refrigerate the batter at least overnight.  Batter will keep up to six weeks (see, I told you.  You can make the entire batch or make just enough for the week or even make some each morning if you want).  Spoon the desired amount of batter into greased muffin tins (or you can use those cute little cupcake liners).  Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Stuffed Shells

My sister and I were talking the other night about our upcoming family reunion (fondly referred to as "The Italian Picnic" by family members).  We were discussing what to make, which prompted me to dig this recipe out.  If you've had stuffed shells before and disliked them, I PROMISE that you will love these.  If you've had stuffed shells before and liked them, you will like this recipe even more.  And if you haven't had a stuffed shell ever in your life, haven't lived.

These shells have the perfect cheese-to-spinach ratio and they are absolutely delicious.  They are easy to make and they feed a boatload of people.  My mom taught my sister and I to make these a long time ago...we used to take them to parties, at Christmas or for potlucks.  Other moms begged us for the recipe.  People have confessed to daydreaming about these stuffed shells.  But that's another story.  Here's what you'll need:


one 12 oz box of jumbo pasta shells

24 ounces ricotta cheese

1/2 pound mozzarella cheese

3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

2 to 3 eggs, beaten

3/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 teaspoon pepper

10 oz box frozen spinach, cooked and drained (squeeze as much of the water out as you can)

1 tablespoon parsley

garlic salt to taste

1 jar pasta sauce (avoid watery marinara varieties)


Cook pasta shells al dente according to directions on the box and after draining, rise in cold water.  Cover the bottom of a large baking dish with a layer of sauce (I use a 9x13 inch glass pan).   Mix together cheeses, eggs, spinach, salt, pepper, parsley, and garlic salt in a large mixing bowl.  Fill the shells with the cheese/spinach mixture and line them up in the baking dish.  Spoon more sauce over the tops of the filled shells and along the edges of the baking dish so that the shells don't dry out while baking.  Bake at 350 degrees for at least 1 hour, until bubbly.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Striped Jello

Let's be honest:  I love jello.  It's a weakness.  Whenever I was a kid, Jello came up with the Jello "jiggler" idea and I was sold.  I've always thought Jello was awesome...and this is the ultimate summer Jello dessert.  You can use any kind of jello you want, which makes this dish perfect for just about any occasion.  For instance, if I took this to my family's Italian Picnic at the end of summer, I would maybe only use red and green jello.  Or if this was for my sister's graduation from Virginia Tech, I would have used dark red and orange jello.  See what I'm saying?  It's versatile and delicious.  Although if you are not making this dish for a specific event, follow my "suggestion" for flavors below.  It's a proven winner.  Plus, once this is finished, it's absolutely beautiful.


6 small boxes of jello, any flavors (my favorite combo is cherry, orange, lemon, lime, blue raspberry, and grape)

2 cups sour cream


Dissolve 1 box of jello with 1 cup boiling water.  Take out 1/3 cup of the jello mix and combine with 1/3 cup of sour cream; whisk together and set aside.  Pour the clear layer of jello in a 9x13 inch glass pan.  Let this layer gel (it will be very thin, but it needs to be firm).  Once the first layer is gelled, pour the jello/sour cream mixture over top and let this layer gel.  Repeat the above steps with the remaining 5 boxes of jello.  Be sure to let each gel layer set before adding the next layer.  This is time consuming, but once the first layer is set, the others will set quickly.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Summer Squash Casserole

Happy Monday, everyone!  Here is another one of those perfect summertime recipes, when the zucchini and yellow squash in your garden seem to be multiplying by the second.  What to do?  My parents used to make this casserole for summer picnics and get-togethers, and it was always a hit.  Even with me, the world's pickiest kid!   It's delicious and full of vegetables, but still has a savory, homey, comfort-food quality.


3 cups squash (zucchini or yellow squash, or a mix of both)

2 carrots, shredded

1 small onion, grated

1 cup cream of chicken soup

1/2 cup sour cream

1/2 package Pepperidge Farm stuffing (the cubed kind)

1/3 cup melted butter


Cut the squash into bite sized pieces.  Lightly cook and drain.  Mix the stuffing with the melted butter.  Mix the squash, carrots, onion, soup, sour cream, and half of the stuffing mixture.  Pour into a casserole dish and top with the remaining half of the stuffing mixture.  Bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes, or until brown and bubbly.  Serves 8-10 people.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Pepperoni Pasta Bake

Recently, my sister came down to visit.  My parents sent some things with her to give to me, and among those items were seven jars of tomato sauce.  Yes, seven.  Apparently, they were a dollar a piece at the grocery store, and my dad bought a whole case.  This "gift" from my dad prompted the question, "what the heck am I going to do with all of this sauce?"  We didn't have a whole lot of food in the refrigerator OR the pantry...but I managed to rustle up something that was pretty tasty and VERY easy last night.  Try this next time you want an easy Italian meal!  The pepperoni definitely adds some delicious flavor, but it doesn't overpower the dish.


3/4 pound pasta (I used rigatoni, but you can use anything - I want to try either bow ties or egg noodles next)

1/2 jar tomato sauce (avoid the watery "marinara" variety if possible - I used Del Grosso tomato basil)

1 large handful of pepperoni slices, cut into thin strips (turkey pepperoni is a great alternative)

1 cup shredded mozzarella or provolone cheese

garlic salt

red pepper flakes


Cook pasta according to directions; drain and return the pasta to the pot.  Stir in the sauce and pepperoni strips, then stir in 1/4 cup of the cheese.  Add a dash of red pepper flakes and garlic salt and stir.  Pour the pasta mixture into a casserole dish and top with the remaining 3/4 cup of cheese.  Bake covered at 350 for 25 minutes.  Remove cover and turn on the broiler for 5 minutes in order to make the cheese brown and bubbly.  Serve with Garlic Parmesan Bread Bites and a salad.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Peach-a-Berry Cobbler

My grandma is a phenomenal baker.  PHENOMENAL.  And when summer rolls around, she has been known to knock our socks off with this delicious dessert.  I love most cobblers, but this one is special.  If peaches and blueberries (the latter of which I usually despise) were in season in November, I would ask for this as my birthday "cake."



1 tablespoon cornstarch

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup cold water

2 cups sliced fresh peaches

1 cup fresh blueberries

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon lemon juice



1 cup flour

1/2 cup sugar

1 and a half teaspoons baking powder

1/2 cup milk

1/4 cup softened butter


Start with the filling.  Mix the cornstarch, brown sugar, and cold water together.  Then add the peaches and blueberries.  Cook the filling mixture on the stove top until thickened, then remove from the heat and stir in the 1 tablespoon of butter and lemon juice.  Pour the filling mix into a 8 or 9 inch deep baking dish.  Next, make the topping.  Sift together the dry ingredients.  Add the milk and butter all at once and beat the mixture until smooth.  Pour or dollop the topping mix over the fruit.  Sprinkle the top of the batter with an additional 1 tablespoon of sugar and a 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg.  Bake at 350 degrees until the top is golden brown - the actual baking time will depend a lot on your oven!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Strawberry Pretzel Salad

There are many, many versions of this recipe floating around on the internet...and in my kitchen.  Unfortunately I didn't write down the source of my recipe, but I think it is a combo of my grandma's version and an internet recipe I found at some point.  Some versions for this call for crushed pineapple, but I am not a fan of that...I think it takes away from the deliciousness.  Feel free to add that though, if it's your style!

Do your family a favor this weekend and make this for your Fourth of July festivities.  Then do yourself a favor and make a separate batch, just for yourself.  This stuff never lasts long at picnics!



2 cups crushed pretzels (regular ones - not the thick ones)

3/4 cup melted butter

3 tablespoons sugar


Middle Layer:

8 oz cream cheese, softened

1 cup sugar

8 ounces cool whip, thawed


Top Layer: 

1 six ounce package of strawberry jello

2 cups boiling water

2 ten ounce packages of frozen, unsweetened strawberries (sliced if you can find them)


Mix the ingredients for the crust together and press into a 9x13 glass baking dish.  Bake at 350 degrees for 8 minutes and then let cool completely.  Beat the cream cheese and the sugar together for the middle layer.  Once these ingredients are combined, gently mix in the cool whip.  Spread the cream cheese mixture over the cooled pretzel crust.  Next, combine the jello and boiling water together and stir until the jello is dissolved.  Set this aside for a few minutes to cool.  Then, mix the frozen strawberries into the jello mixture (it's okay if the jello starts to thicken at this's because of the frozen berries).  Pour the jello/strawberry mixture over the cream cheese mixture.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours before serving.


Or you can dig into it early, and it will be a little sloppy...but you won't care because it's so yummy.

Happy Fourth of July, everyone - have a safe and happy holiday weekend, and remember the reason that we are celebrating!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

An Ode to Store Brands

I'm sure that by the title of this post, you probably thing I am going to launch into a jaunty tune about store brand items.  And I might, at another time.  But first, I want to tell ya'll a story.

Once upon a time, after years of thinking my dad was crazy for buying "generic" potato chips and macaroni and kleenex, I ventured out into a world in which I was responsible for buying my own groceries.  At first, I tried to cling to name brands despite the fact they were rapidly draining my rather meager bank account.  Also, I was shopping at Wal-Mart, where I assumed that I was getting items for the best price possible.  Then I got tired of going to Wal-Mart.  I mean, who wants to constantly park 12 miles away from the door, only to battle a kajillion people once you get inside?  I missed my neighborhood grocery store back home, so I decided to start trying to shop at my local supermarket instead of Wal-Mart.  Plus, I really like sticking it to "the man" when I can.

I was a little concerned about the toll this would take on my wallet, but I was more concerned with the toll that continuing to shop at Wal-Mart would take on my sanity.  I was walking up and down the aisles, amazed at the fact that I was not completely frazzled and that I was actually enjoying myself.  I picked up a box of Nutri-Grain bars...but alas!  They were not Nutri-Grain bars!  They were STORE BRAND granola bars.  They had truly tricked me with the packaging (a far cry from the somewhat embarrassingly blatant black and white generic packaging from my childhood).  I decided to try them...and I've been hooked ever since.  I'm sure that the Barefoot Contessa would frown upon this, as she is constantly encouraging people to buy the best products possible...but clearly I don't live in the Hamptons.  And with the economy the way it is, isn't it nice to save a few bucks when you can?


Here are a few of some of my favorite store brand items (I shop at Harris Teeter):

- fruit and grain bars (apple cinnamon)

- frozen whole wheat waffles (I can't tell the difference between them and Eggos)

- Thin Wheats (you guessed it - Wheat Thins!  and I think they actually taste better)

- cinnamon toast crunch (why is cereal so expensive?)

- shells and cheese (call me crazy, but they are better than Velveeta)

- peanut butter

- shredded cheese (the italian six cheese blend is delicious - think Chicken Parm)

- pre-sliced/pre-packaged deli cheese

- breadcrumbs

- spices (italian seasoning,cinnamon, oregano, basil, etc.  I am still a sucker for Montreal Steak seasoning though)

- toilet paper


Put your big girl (or boy) pants on and try some store brand items.  You might really be surprised at what you find!  I haven't found any good store brand soap products (laundry or dishwashing detergent), so if you have something to share, let me know!  I actually save more money this way than I ever did at Wal-Mart, which feels great.  It's the little things in life.

And they all lived happily ever after!

Baked Chicken Nuggets

I heart chicken, in case you hadn't noticed.  I've always been a bit of a picky eater, and now I live with another picky eater.  Sometimes it's hard to make things that won't weird her out.  I'm always happy with what I perceive to be "kid food" - pizza, macaroni and cheese, chicken nuggets, etc.  So last night I decided that I was in the mood for some "real" chicken nuggets.  I thought briefly about going to Chick Fil A, but I decided that I was too broke (sad but true) to do that.  So I busted out some chicken I had in my freezer, and the rest was delicious history.


3 whole boneless chicken breasts

1 cup plain breadcrumbs

1 to 2 tablespoons garlic salt (to taste)

2 teaspoons dried oregano



Cut the chicken breasts up into 1 inch cubes.  Put the cut up chicken into a bowl and cover with milk (I used 2%, but I'm not sure it matters).  Mix together breadcrumbs, garlic salt, and oregano.  Take a few pieces of the chicken at a time and toss in the breadcrumbs.  Place breaded chicken pieces in a glass baking dish that has been sprayed with cooking spray.  Don't worry if the pieces touch each other in the dish.  Once all the chicken is in the baking dish, spray the top of the chicken lightly with cooking spray and cover with foil.  Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 35-40 minutes.

**I dipped my nuggets in honey mustard, but they are delicious plain, too!

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Almond Cookie Cake

You're going to love this one! It's really easy to make and you probably have most of the ingredients already. It's like a giant, dense, almond flavored sugar cookie. Hello, love.

Cream together:

1 ½ cups sugar

1 1/2 sticks melted butter

Then add:

2 eggs

1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract

1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 ½ cups + 2 Tablespoons flour

Mix together and spread into a greased quiche dish. Sprinkle top with almond slices and granulated sugar. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes.

EDIT: I experimented a bit with this recipe since the original posting, and found that if you make these in cupcake tins (no paper liners, just sprayed with baking Pam) they are INCREDIBLE. Seriously, no one was able to resist them. They are possibly the best cookie I've ever made. The first comment from everyone was that they thought it was marzipan because of all the chewy goodness. Please, for the love of Pete, make these. If you don't make any other of my recipes, at least try this one. I'm sorry but I don't remember the exact baking time on these - just take them out when they are beginning to get golden and perfect :-)

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Asparagus Rolls

I'm back from my hiatus!  Sorry I've been remiss on the blog Rose so delightfully pointed out a few posts ago, I've been busy getting a new and exciting project started!

Anyhoo, Easter is almost upon us, which obviously makes me think of Easter food.  I mean, hello - obvious connection!  Here is one of my favorite appetizers of all time - it sounds a little odd, but try it...I promise you'll love it too.  Plus, asparagus is such a springtime vegetable - go for it!

1.5 lb loaf bread (I use sliced white bread, but you can use wheat or whatever you'd like)

8 ounces cream cheese, softened

3 tablespoons horseradish

14 and 1/2 ounce can asparagus spears (or you can use fresh asparagus spears that you precooked)

butter, melted


Remove crusts from bread, and roll bread in both directions with a rolling pin to flatten.  Mash the cream cheese and horseradish together, and blend thoroughly.  Spread the cheese mixture thinly on the bread.  Place one asparagus spear at the edge of the slice of bread, and roll up tightly.  Cut the roll into one inch pieces and place on a greased baking sheet.  Brush lightly with butter and sprinkle with paprika.  Refrigerate until ready to bake.  Bake 10-12 minutes at 350 degrees until golden brown.

Garlic Parmesan Bread Bites

Drop whatever it is you're doing and make this. I'm serious. It's totally worth it. This is so easy and delicious! I think I'll probably make this everytime we have Italian (or you know, when I want an awesome snack).

First, pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees and cut up one of those Pillsbury cans of Italian bread dough into bite-sized pieces. When you're done cutting the dough up, in a cast iron skillet, melt a nice big chunk of butter (about 3 Tablespoons) and add 2 nice rounded teaspoons of minced garlic, 1/4 cup of grated parmesan, and 2 teaspoons of Italian dipping spices (the kind with herbs and salt that you mix into olive oil). Once the butter is melted and everything is mixed in, turn off the heat. Stir in the pieces of dough and arrange them in one layer on the bottom of the pan so all the pieces are touching. Put the pan into the oven for 25-30 minutes until you get a nice golden color on top. The house smells awesome as this is baking :-) When it comes out, you have this incredibly addictive, super delicious pull-apart bread. It's good later, but it's the best when you eat it hot out of the oven. Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Weird comfort foods

This post is going to be really random, but I'm curious and I hope I'm not the only weirdo here. Are there certain foods that seem totally gross to everyone else, but you think are awesome? Last night I made my mom's not-so-famous "fancy hors d'oeuvres" She and I have been eating this concoction since I was little. It stemmed from having bare cupboards and making up a snack when she was a kid. When she was 8 she entered it into a cookbook, made it in! Ready? This is going to sounds really nasty, but I love it...saltines with mayonaise and a pickle slice. Horrible, right? Please tell me there is something you love that no one else can relate to. Stories, please!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

If you like pina coladas...

and gettin caught in the rain (excuse me while I burst into song...we'll get to the cupcakes in a minute...)

ahem. now I'm ready...these tasty buggers were a big hit at the birthday party I brought them to. I can't think of anyone who stopped at just one... When you make these (because I know you will - who can resist?) give them a day to rest - they were much better the day after I made them. I was a bit disappointed when I first tested them out, but after they sat overnight...yummo. Also, don't judge on cake alone. The texture is more muffin-y than cake-y, but you need it to be firm to stand up to the big old glob of pudding you're going to put in the middle (and you all know my feelings about things with pudding, right? If not, refer back to my eggnog pie recipe :-) )

makes 24 cupcakes

Pineapple-Coconut Cake

2-2/3 cups all-purpose flour
2-1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 stick of butter, room temperature
1-1/3 cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
2 large egg yolks, room temperature
1 cup crushed pineapple in juice, well drained (save the juice)

1/3 cup of the pineapple juice you just drained off

1/3 cup coconut milk

Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare cupcake pan with liners.

In a separate bowl, sift the flour, baking powder, and baking soda.

In a stand mixer, combine butter and sugar and beat on medium-high speed until fluffy. Add the whole eggs in and then add the egg yolks one at a time, beating well after each addition. Decrease to low speed and add the crushed pineapple. Beat in the flour mixture in 3 parts, alternating with the pineapple juice/coconut milk, beginning and ending with dry.

Fill cupcake liners about 3/4 full. Bake for 20 minutes.

While you are baking the cupcakes, you can now start on the really good stuff. To make the coconut pudding for the centers, make instant vanilla pudding according to the pudding pie instructions on the box and then stir in a few teaspoons of coconut extract to taste. I needed more than I thought I would, probably about 3-1/2 teaspoons before it was sufficiently coconutty. I also made a batch with the jello instant coconut cream pudding mix. Don't go down this road. Use the vanilla and coconut extract. It was just vanilla pudding with coconut bits in it. It did not have the flavor of coconut, it was just vanilla pudding with a weird texture. blah.

After you get done stirring up the coconut deliciousness, move on to making the crack. Wait...I mean the pineapple-rum whipped cream. Go ahead and try to restrain yourself from this fluffy bowl of heaven. Won't. Happen.  In a stand mixer, whisk together 3 cups of heavy whipping cream and 4 Tablespoons of sugar. Start on low and bump it up to as fast as it will go without splattering. Continue until you have stiff peaks, but don't let it go so far that you turn it into butter. Fold in pineapple rum, I think I put in about 4 Tablespoons.

Now that all your beautiful golden cupcakes are cool, cut a cone out of the center and cut off the point (and then remove some of the middle too - we're filling this sucker with pudding, don't be cheap) Add a nice big spoonful or two of the coconut creme filling. Put the top of the cupcake cone back over the filling. Pipe the pineapple rum whipped cream on top and then garnish with toasted coconut, a cherry, and if you're feeling really fiesty, a drink umbrella .

Take a big bite and signal to the pool boy that you need lotioned. (or other beach fantasy of choice) :-)

We're baaaack

Whew! It's definitely been a while. Sorry for taking such a long break. Jenny and I have been up to lots of other projects that unfortunately left little time for our poor, neglected bloggy...

I have found that I may need an ebay intervention - once the moolah starts rollin in, it's addictive! I've been an ebay nut lately, putting up new auctions every few days and going to the post office almost daily. Jenny has been a busy bee starting up a much more exciting business venture, and I highly suggest you check it out at This girl is a genius behind the camera! If you live in the Charlotte, NC area, trust me - you don't want to miss out hiring her for your next event. (yes, a shameless plug, but she's my BFF and she is AWESOME.)

I'll try to post more regularly now that I have a handle on the other stuff going on, and I'll start off with some kick butt cupcakes I made the other day. It's a mix of several different recipes I found and then tweaked.  Stay tuned :-)

Friday, January 21, 2011

Locker Room Rant

While this isn’t the typical material we include in this blog, I’m going to go out on a limb here because I feel the need to discuss an aspect of my typical morning at the gym I go to. 

Why is it that people feel the need to treat public locker rooms like their private bathroom at home? Honestly, I know there’s not a whole lot of privacy to be found, but come on! I refuse to change in public and immediately head for one of the changing stalls. I suppose it’s a good thing that some people feel comfortable with themselves and aren’t self conscious, but whoa nelly, there’s a line between openly changing and traipsing around in all your glory. Once I see your business, I can’t unsee it, no matter how hard I try to etch-a-sketch erase my brain of that visual.

There are two people that make me particularly uncomfortable. First, the lady who is very nice, but wants to strike up a conversation when she’s in the buff. Cover your lady bits before you try to make eye contact and speak with me! Please! Just because you have no boundaries with strangers doesn’t mean I don’t.

And the piece de resistance, the woman who has no concept of where she is. This is not your house. You don’t own the place. While I don’t want to see anybody flaunting themselves around, this woman is a special brand of pleasefortheloveofjeebusputsomeclotheson. She stands at the very entrance of the locker room, making it impossible to pass without maneuvering around her scantily clad bum. Am I wrong to think it’s rude to bend over and dry your hair and then stand there for 15 minutes applying makeup sans pants? She’s maybe 55 or so, and wears nude colored undergarments. Even though this happens everyday, it still plays games with your mind when for that split second you think you’re going to get an eyeful of ahhhh! In addition to the camouflage, the elastic has clearly seen better days. If your girls are competing for space with your belly button, you may need to look into more support. Also, if your bra is completely worn thin and you feel the need to bounce around as you collect your things, well, just don’t. Do not.

I don’t think I’m over reacting here. There is a line that can be crossed, no? What’s your opinion…am I a complete prude or is there a complete lack of common courtesy going on here?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Hold the phone. Cutest. Accessory. Ever.

I guarantee you’re going to want one (or more) of these! I got this as a little gift from my cousin, and I’m pretty sure I’m going to buy one for everyone I know. It’s a pretty little red rose with a green stem. The rose flips inside out and becomes a tote bag (a decent size one, too!) and the green stem is the draw string. How adorable! You can go green in style :-) Sorry for the bad pic, but it’s from my cell. It’ll give you an idea, though. If you want to see more, check them out at In addition to the rose, they have adorable bumblebees, lady bugs, and farm animals, as well as some holiday ones, assorted fruit, and planet earth. I wish I would have known about these before Christmas, because I would have got a bunch for stocking stuffers…oh well, there’s always birthdays!

[caption id="attachment_649" align="aligncenter" width="320" caption="rose bag"][/caption]

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Chinese Chicken

Okay, all you specialists of Asian cooking/cuisine - clearly this is not an authentic recipe.  This recipe is not actually from China, and it is probably not served in a Chinese restaurant of any kind.  I'm Italian.  I admit it.  I don't know the first thing about using a wok.  What I DO know, however, is that my Gram used to make this for me when our family had our annual Chinese New Year dinner.  Also, I had (real) Chinese food last night, so I now I have a real hankerin' for this.  It's an easy, delicious, do-it-yourself version of sweet and sour chicken.  It's delicious on its own, or with the sweet and sour sauce.  Here's how to make it:


boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1.5 pounds)

soft fresh breadcrumbs (go ahead and make your own!)

garlic salt


Cut the chicken in chunks/cubes, place in a dish and sprinkle it with garlic salt.  Cover the chicken with milk, cover, and refrigerate for at least an hour.  Once the chicken has marinaded, roll the chicken in the breadcrumbs and fry them in a skillet until brown, then place in a baking dish and bake covered for 20 minutes at 350 degrees.


Get a large can of pineapple chunks and drain, saving 1 cup of pineapple juice from the can.  In a saucepan, heat the juice along with 2 tablespoons of ketchup, 1 tablespoon of vinegar, 1 tablespoon of sugar, half a teaspoon of salt, and 3 tablespoons of cornstarch.  Cook until the sauce thickens, then add the pineapple chunks back into the sauce.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Southern Snowpocalypse

I really should have taken pictures while it was snowing, but I couldn't bring myself to leave the toasty confines of this apartment to go out onto the ice rink/parking lot to take them.  Also,  it was cold.   Hey, have I mentioned that it was too cold? 

So anyway, these pictures were taken on Tuesday, just before I started to try to unbury my car, and a day after all of the snow fell.  Some of the snow had started to melt, but this is a pretty decent amount.  And it is topped with a generous smattering of ice.  Gross. 

Top:  My little car, buried.  Bottom: Kelli, attempting to start her car.  Notice her awesome hat.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Things to do in winter

Go to the zoo! It's practically empty and the animals are so active. This tiger spotted a bird and the intensity on her face is just amazing.

[caption id="attachment_632" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Tiger"][/caption]

Friday, January 7, 2011

Holiday Hangover

Is anyone else still feeling slightly exhausted after the holidays?  I know it's been a week since New Year's Eve, but I have to say that all the present buying, travelling, and hoopla kind of took it out of me...and this is how I feel:

Poor Snicky was obviously exhausted after all the partying we did when I was at home for Christmas.  One of my favorite things about her are her little paws - how adorable.  This is how I've felt all week.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Sneak Peek!

In the spirit of keeping my 2011 goal progress going strong, I did some work on my portfolio today.  I have to say, I'm pretty happy with it.  I just need to get some newer ones in there and do Kelli's photo shoot as well.  Oddly, I felt like I had more to choose from than I remembered.   I was definitely very relieved!  Here's a little peek at some of the pictures that will most likely be in my portfolio...

Definitely one of my favorites from Brooks & Adam's wedding in August 2010.

This is from Erin & Jake's engagement shoot, also done the same weekend in August - so sweet!

This was from the first wedding I helped shoot with Monica in February,'s been almost a year, and I feel like I've learned so much since then.  Can't wait to really get things started!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Rose's 2011 Goals

1. Go to the gym 4 days a week. I might be kidding myself on this one, but I’m going to try, at least for a while. Beach vacation in November, and I would like to feel somewhat normal in a bathing suit. For once I’d like to feel like the whales have more blubber than I do. 

2. Treat everyday like Christmas. Cheesy, yes, but I’m going to give it a shot. If today were Christmas, how would I treat people? I’m going to try to keep the Christmas spirit going and show more kindness, love and generosity everyday. If I can go out of my way to do one nice thing or help one person I normally wouldn’t, I think I’ll be a better person.

3. Every other Thursday, the night before I get paid, I’m going to take out whatever is left in my checking account (after all the bills were paid) and save it. Hopefully this will be around $50 every pay check. If I can do this, I’ll have a little over a grand by vacation time.

4. Not so much a goal as a hope/dream. Same wish I’ve had for the past few years, but to quote Beyonce, if he likes it then he’d better put a ring on it. Dream for 2011: take relationship to next level. Cross fingers, wish upon a star, throw a coin in a fountain, and then promptly come back to reality. Amen.

Jenny's 2011 Goals

In case you're are some of my big goals for this year.  Keep me accountable!  Also, I am calling them "goals" and not "resolutions" because I am much better with having a concrete something in mind.  Resolutions are really vague sometimes, so it helps me to be more specific!

1. Start my photography business - big big dream, very exciting.  I am already in the planning stages and I just need to work a little more on my portfolio and get some newer pictures in there. 

2. Blog at least twice a week, not including Photo Friday, which clearly I have slacked off.  I blame it on the holidays and the fact that I was most likely either driving somewhere or in a food coma.

3. Cook more!  This blog is mostly about food, and how am I going to keep posting if I'm not cooking?

4. Be more active.  I'm stealing this one from my lovely roommate.  Sitting at home all day is not helping me with anything.  Time to get out and do something!  Go to the batting cages, drive around and take pictures, walk/run at the park, take some classes, whatever.  Just to be more active in my own life!

What are your goals or resolutions for this year?  I'd love to hear them!  Happy New Year!

Monday, January 3, 2011

How patriotic!

I'd like to introduce you to Independence, the rescued bald eagle from the National Aviary in Pittsburgh. Isn't he majestic?

My new favorite way to use actions...colorized orchids

[caption id="attachment_604" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Orchids"][/caption]