Riff Ram Bah Zoo

I head back up to Fort Worth in a couple of weeks to move into my apartment and help out with the freshman welcome weekend. Then the first football game is a couple of weeks after that. I am currently lusting after these ADORABLE serving dishes that would be perfect for a TCU football party. After all, they did win the Rose Bowl last season. It can only get better!

Vegetable Platter - 40

Chips & Dip Platter - 40

Helmet Salt & Pepper Shakers - 15

Pitcher - 40

Plate - 20

Platter - 20

Platter 2 - 20

Jersey Salt & Pepper Shakers - 15

Relish Tray - 36
These are all from The Memory Company. This company offers products for many colleges (big and small), along with the NFL, MLB, and NHL. Go see if your favorite team is included, and check out all of the cool things you can buy to show your support!



Fantastic Finds Friday

Feeling blue? Me too...it's been a crazy week and I'm a little bit down. So in honor of this, the Fantastic Finds Friday collage is all about blueberries. Maybe a dessert made with this "blue" fruit (that's actually more of a purple color) will help lift your mood if you're feeling blue.

From top left: blueberry lemon cupcakes, overnight blueberry french toast, blueberry-coconut popovers, mini blueberry cheesecakes, blueberry sorbet, & blueberry sour cream breakfast cake
(all images from www.imgfave.com)

Have a good weekend everyone...I think I might go find the recipe for that french toast and make it for breakfast tomorrow.


Makeover Monday

This week's Makeover Monday comes from the Apartment Therapy "Small Cool Kitchens 2011" contest. I was browsing through the entries when I found this little beauty. It quickly became my favorite out of all the entries I looked at and drooled over. The reason this kitchen caught my eye is because lately I've been wanting to put more glitz and glamour in my life. I figure that I should supercharge my life while I'm still young and beautiful, and this kitchen would help out with that.

This is the only before picture of this kitchen, but as you can see it is extremely small and cramped. The layout is awkward (note the oven and microwave at the end in the middle), and Saundra the mastermind behind this makeover noted that there was little/no usable counter space. Not cool for someone who wants to get a lot of use out of their kitchen. No wonder she changed things up!

Here is the after shot. Just moving the stove and microwave to the side instead of in the middle made a noticeable difference, especially when replaced with that eye-catching tile. One of my favorite things about this room, however, is the small chandelier. Because every room in your house should have one, of course. I love that they're no longer limited to formal dining rooms. I've seen them in bedrooms, bathrooms, and now a small apartment kitchen. They're an awesome way to add a touch of glam to your apartment, house, or even your dorm room if you can find a smaller one (like this one from lightinguniverse.com).

She also added in a ton of open storage space on the right side, and warmed up the room with lovely wooden cabinets and shelves.

Seeing the results of this contest made me wonder if my apartment complex would be okay with me changing things up a bit...Although from a recent reading of my contract I don't think they would be too happy with new paint or removed cabinet doors. *sigh* Well at least I can take a few of these less drastic ideas and apply them to my new abode. Not much longer until move-in day!


Wedding Gadgets and Gifts

I went to a wedding shower yesterday for the fiance' of a guy at my church. She really enjoys baking and cooking (something we have in common), and so she registered for a lot of really neat kitchen supplies and gadgets. I couldn't help but ooh and ahh over them, and now I'll share my favorites of the day (plus a few extras) with y'all.

Part of me can't wait to get married just so I can receive some of these cool gifts...is that bad?

"Bride and Groom Cookbook" and "Bride and Groom Entertaining" cookbook boxed set ($69.95 at Williams Sonoma) 
What a classy looking cookbook set. I haven't been to WS in a while, so I haven't gotten the chance to crack this one open. But what a lovely way to introduce your new husband (or yourself if he does all of the cooking!) to the kitchen. 

Glass Domed Cake Plate/Punch Bowl ($30 at Williams Sonoma)
This one is great for someone who bakes a lot and likes to host parties (especially showers, because we all know that the best showers involve punch right?). I literally squealed a little when I saw her open it. I'm all for items that have multiple uses. This cake plate/punch bowl is classic, clean, and clearly a steal.

NATCO Kitchen Mat ($30 at Kohls)
I first saw one of these mats at an older lady's house about a month ago, and wondered how there could be so much fuss over an over-glorified cushion-y (yes that's a word) rug for your kitchen. And then I actually stood on it. If you're going to spend a lot of time on your feet in the kitchen, this is the mat for you. This would be perfect for an all-day Thanksgiving cookfest, or for the time you'll have to bake 10 dozen cupcakes for a bake sale, or for the time you have your in-laws over for dinner and whip up a super fancy/super complicated meal to impress them. ;) What I'm saying is, this mat is comfy. If I wasn't a broke college student I would buy one in a second. Because I like being pampered while I cook.

Fiestaware 5-Piece Dinner Set in Sunflower ($50 at Kohls)
I LOVE Fiestaware. I love the simplicity. I love the way you can mix and match pieces. And I love the many bright colors you can buy it in. My favorite right now is Sunflower, as seen above. Turquoise comes in at a VERY close second. If I was getting married I'd ask for both so I could mix and match these cheery colors. They would look simply adorable sitting on open shelves or behind glass cabinet doors. These are definitely dishes to show off.

Bialetti Pizza Stone, Rack, and Cutter ($13.89 at Target)
Although making the perfect pizza dough has alluded me thus far, I refuse to give up on my quest for homemade pizza deliciousness. Maybe buying this set would help me? Priced at less than $15 and with a 4-star rating on Target's website, this is good for someone who wants to try their hand at home-cooked Italian pies without spending a lot of dough (sorry, couldn't help myself). 

Ninja Blender ($99.99 at Target)
Last, but certainly not least, I bring you the Ninja blender. I had never even heard of the Ninja blender until I saw it at the shower yesterday. When I looked it up online for this post I was shocked at how awesome it is. It turns cubed ice into powder, and blends frozen fruit into smoothies with ease. It's almost one of those "too good to be true" products, except it's just "too good". If it wasn't $100 and so big, I'd be buying one of these babies right this second. I'm a total smoothie junkie. 

Well there ya have it. 6 gadgets and gifts that I think should be on every bride-to-be's registry. So if you're getting married anytime soon, or you just want to pick up some new items for your kitchen, you should consider these at the top of your list!


Fantastic Finds Friday

I have concluded that I have an almost obsession with coffee. I call it an ALMOST obsession because I can live without it...but why would anyone want to? It's definitely an acquired taste, and some people that drink coffee don't even like the taste. But I am not one to drink it for the caffeine boost (although that is a definite perk...no pun intended haha). I actually like the way coffee tastes. 

That may be because I've been drinking it since I was pretty young. My grandma and I used to drink it when I would spend the night. Hers was black, and mine was milk and sugar with a little bit of coffee thrown in for good measure. I felt so grown up, and as I got older the sugar milk to coffee ratio changed. Now it varies from day to day. If I'm drinking it iced, I like a little more milk (coconut or soy milk, that is). But I've gotten to where I can drink it without all of that if it's hot. Just depends on my mood. 

Now that I've rambled about my relationship with coffee, I present to y'all the theme of this Fantastic Friday: coffee, of course. 

(from top left): 1. vegan hazelnut coffee icecream 2. chocolate-coffee mousse 3. tiramisu (which is made with espresso) 4. coffee cupcakes with mini donuts 5. coffee lollipops 6. coffee cookies

(images 1-4 imgfave, images 5-6 pinterest)

Finally, I thought this was too adorable not to share. I'm soy coffee, and my boyfriend is Irish coffee (of course) 


Dulce de Leche Cookies

Tonight we went to a Bible study and the food theme was Mexican. My mom made the green sauce that I showed y'all how to make back in June, and I made dulce de leche cookies. To make the dulce de leche filling, I used the "boil a can of condensed milk in a pot of water for a couple of hours" method. While some would discourage this because of safety reasons, I've never read anything about this ACTUALLY happening to someone. Plus I like to live on the edge, of course. In all seriousness though, if you use this method (which you can find in full all over the Internet...just Google it) make sure that the water is covering the can the entire time. Don't let it boil down or you may have a problem on your hands. While I've never read anything about condensed milk cans exploding, I don't want you to take any chances. Just be careful please. :)

Okay, now that we've gotten that "momma" lecture out of the way, let's get to these cookies!

I made the shortbread cookies using this recipe from The Pioneer Woman, following the recipe exactly (for once).
Your ingredients are as follows:
  • 2 sticks Plus 2 Tablespoons Salted Butter, Softened
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 2 cups All-purpose Flour
  • 1 cup (scant) Corn Starch - This means don't fill the cup up the entire way :)

First, cream 1 cup of sugar and 2 sticks plus 2 tablespoons of softened butter until fluffy and creamy. 

Then sift in 1 cup of all-purpose flour and 1 scant cup of corn starch. (I used my grandmother's antique sifter...it works so well!)

Gently mix together the ingredients using a pastry cutter, two forks or (my personal favorite) your hands. 

Once combined, form into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap. It will be a little bit crumbly, but if it's too crumbly to handle you can add 1 to 2 more tablespoons of softened butter. Place in the fridge for at least 20 minutes. I left mine in for almost an hour, and it held up very nicely.

Remove from fridge and roll out into a sheet, then cut out using cookie cutters. I used small heart-shaped cutters my mom bought for me way back in February. 

Place on a cookie sheet and bake for about 10-15 minutes, or until the edges are slightly browned. Remove and let cool.

Once your cookies are cool, take a small spoonful of your dulce de leche (homemade or bought) and spread it on one cookie. Place another cookie on top of that. 

I sprinkled mine with a mixture of powdered sugar and cinnamon to make them extra pretty and give them a slightly spicy taste. 

Everyone at the Bible study loved them, and they fit in with the enchiladas and pulled pork perfectly. This recipe made about 5 dozen small cookies, which equaled 25 sandwich cookies (after a few of them disappeared into my tummy).


Makeover Monday

Patience has never been my strong point. It's hard for me to concentrate on the "here and now" because I'm always looking forward to and planning for my future. That's why one of my favorite Bible verses is:

Matthew 6:34 "Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."

While I don't want to worry about things that may not even happen, I don't think it's ever too early to start planning how you're going to decorate your first house. While popular trends and your own personal style may change, it's still fun to collect pieces of inspiration for the place you'll one day call home. And that's why Makeover Mondays were created. 

This Makeover Monday is from Young House Love, a blog that includes a FULL HOUSE makeover. Seriously, y'all should really check it out. I totally look up to this young couple as home renovators. What they did with the place is awesome. But I'm only going to cover their kitchen now. Here it is!

This is the before...Like the rest of the house, the decor is a bit outdated.

Aaaaand here is the after. Brighter, whiter, and modernized. I'd gladly cook in this kitchen!


Fantastic Finds Friday...on a Saturday

Forgive me, please. You'd think that Summer would be less stressful than the school year, but between Vacation Bible School prep, dealing with "moving into a new apartment" plans, and other stuff, I'm pooped and finding it hard to blog at times. Plus, my mom is a fantastic cook so I don't have the motivation to cook food in order to blog about it. Call me lazy, but I start school in a month. I'm just trying to enjoy what Summer I have left.

On a suggestion from my sister, this week's Fantastic Finds Friday (Saturday?) is red.

From top left: Strawberry crepes, red velvet cupcake, cherry pie, cherry-limeade ice pops, strawberry banana fruit pizza, raspberry torte

And of course, no hot July day is complete without the red iced passion tea from Starbucks...Yum! ^_^

(all images from WeHeartIt.com)


Green Monster Rawwwwrrr

I love drinking smoothies, especially for breakfast, because they feel indulgent and off-limits but really aren't. I like to drink one along with my usual english muffin, and my favorite version involves frozen strawberries and orange juice. However when I found this healthy smoothie on Pinterest and saw that it tastes like cookie dough, I knew I had to try it out. Plus, it gets the pretty green color from a handful of fresh spinach. Tastes good AND good for you? Sign me up.

The smoothie recipe is from Full Measure of Happiness, and goes like this:

  • 1 cup skim milk
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 1/3 cup uncooked old-fashioned oats (though you could use quick oats, too)
  • 2 handfuls spinach
  • 2 tbs vanilla Carnation Instant Breakfast (you can substitute 1 tsp vanilla extract)
  • ice 
Combine milk, instant breakfast, oats, spinach, banana, and ice in your blender in that order. Both the original blogger and I froze our banana for this smoothie, eliminating the need for ice. She isn't a fan of Instant Breakfast and said that you can substitue a teaspoon of vanilla extract if you agree (or don't have any on hand). Also, since I'm lactose sensitive and trying to cut it out, I used coconut milk instead, so mine will not taste the same as yours if you use regular milk. :)

Here's my finished product. 

These pictures were taken after I had drank about half of my smoothie...I just couldn't wait. ;) While this smoothie isn't going to fool you into thinking you're drinking a cookie dough milkshake, it's a pretty yummy comparison. The oats did give it an oatmeal cookie-like taste, but the texture was a little bit weird at first. Maybe that could have been remedied by blending it for a little bit longer. I'll have to try that next time. And for those of you who are wondering "What about the spinach??", you really can't taste it at all.  Promise. 

If you're looking for a quick and healthy way to start your day, here's your smoothie. I can already tell that I'll be making one of these to take to my 8am class once school starts again. 


Makeover Monday

I've decided to start a new post every week called "Makeover Monday", where I show an awesome kitchen redo found on the Internet. I'm currently renting an apartment right now, so I'm not allowed to do anything that will permanently change the look of my unit. But when I graduate and have enough money (or get married) I plan on buying a "fixer upper" for cheap and transforming it into the perfect home for me and whoever else will be living there. ;) Of course, the kitchen is one of the most important rooms in the house, in my opinion. So I consider Mondays my future home inspiration.

The first Makeover Monday post is from Re-nest.com. From the mermaid-y backsplash tile bought at a remnant warehouse to the sleek Ikea cabinets, this kitchen was transformed from gutted to gorgeous for a fraction of the original price. It's so clean and full of light...*sigh* I don't know if I could do this to my future kitchen (too outrageous for me haha), but I definitely appreciate what this new homeowner accomplished.

Banana Pudding

For the 4th of July I made banana pudding with a recipe from Eagle Brand's website. It's only a slight variation of the banana pudding my mom always makes, and it always gets lots of attention when you take it to a get-together.

The ingredients are as follows:

* 1 (14 oz.) can Eagle Brand® Sweetened Condensed Milk
* 1 1/2 cups cold water
* 1 (4-serving size) package instant vanilla pudding mix
* 2 cups (1 pint) heavy cream, whipped
* 36 vanilla wafers (1 medium box)
* 3 medium bananas, sliced and dipped in lemon juice

Whisk together the can of condensed milk and the cold water in a medium bowl

Add the box of pudding and mix until well-blended. Let the mixture chill in the fridge for 5 minutes

While the mixture is chilling, cut up 3-4 medium sized bananas into slices. I didn't soak mine in lemon juice, though. After 5 minutes, remove the mixture from the fridge and fold in 1 tub of CoolWhip (I used this instead of the heavy cream)

Then layer the ingredients, starting with the pudding mixture

Then the vanilla wafers on top of that

Then finishing with the sliced bananas

Continue layering the ingredients until you reach the top of the trifle dish (or you run out of ingredients)

I ended with sliced bananas and crushed vanilla wafers to make it look pretty. :)
The picture is a doubled recipe, because it will be feeding a lot of people. It makes about 20 servings.


Crispy Potato Roast

The other side I made to go with the eggplant parmesan was this Crispy Potato Roast from Martha Stewart.

This dish is one of those simple but impressive sides that would be perfect to take to a potluck or church gathering. It looks pretty AND tastes nice. Just one word of advice: Hold off on the red pepper flakes. I added the amount called for in the recipe, but forgot that cooking the potatoes with the spice only intensifies the hotness in the dish. I was able to mostly scrape the flakes off and reduce the spiciness, but next time I'll just wait and add them at the end (or not at all).

Here are the required ingredients:

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 pounds russet potatoes, peeled
4 shallots, thickly sliced lengthwise
Coarse salt
1/2 to 1 teaspoon red-pepper flakes (optional)
8 sprigs thyme (I used dried oregano instead)

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees
Cut up 4-5 large potatoes into thin slices. I put my sister in charge of this, and she's afraid of knives so the slices weren't as thin as in the original recipe. But I actually liked them better cut a little thicker. 

Mix together the olive oil and butter, and brush some onto the bottom and sides of a glass baking dish

Arrange the potato slices vertically in the baking dish, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and brush with the remaining butter/oil mixture. Add the shallots throughout, and put in the oven for an hour. 

Sprinkle with oregano (or thyme if you have it), and bake for another 30 minutes or so. The tops of the potatoes should be brown and crispy.