Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Celebrity Sighting

I know I am a little bit of a dork, because I still get really excited about celebrity sightings. And living in Nashville, we are prone to see a few more stars, but they usually aren't mega- stars. Usually, just someone that only a serious country music fan would even recognize (i.e. Linda Davis). Anyway, today at Jason's Deli, I saw the currently controversial, teen pop star- Miley Cyrus. That's right, Hannah Montana. No, I didn't talk to her and no, I did not get her autograph. I was trying to play it cool. Mainly, because I thought if I approached her, she would say you're almost 30 with no kids- how do you even know who I am?!?! That's another story.

Jeremy tried to question my story by doubting that it was truly her. I'm positive that it was and here's a story from PEOPLE magazine noting that she was in Nashville on Tuesday. Makes sense that she would be in Nashville on Wednesday. And we were fairly close to a Target.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

I could give up chocolate but I'm not a quitter . . .

These brownies are pretty good, but a little bit goes a long way! They are very rich. The mascarpone cheese (which is probably available in your deli section where they have the fancy cheeses) gives the brownies a unique flavor. I refrigerated my brownies overnight.

Chocolate Mascarpone Brownies

1 cup unsalted butter (plus more for preparing pan)
3 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese, softened
3 large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 325°. Butter an 8-inch square glass baking pan and set aside.
Place the butter and chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at half power in 30 second intervals, stirring between each heating. Continue until both are completely melted.
Sift sugar and cocoa powder. Add to the butter/chocolate mixture. Beat in (by hand) the mascarpone, eggs, and vanilla extract until smooth. Fold in flour and salt.
Pour batter into pan and spread evenly.
Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Cool in pan on cooling rack.

6 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
6 tablespoons heavy cream
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter

Place chopped chocolate in a small bowl. Set aside.
In a small saucepan, heat the butter and cream over medium heat, stirring constantly. When mixture is almost boiling, pour over the chocolate. Let stand for 30 seconds. Then, stir until smooth.
Pour ganache over cooled brownies and spread evenly.
Allow ganache to firm before cutting brownies. Brownies may be placed in refrigerator to expedite this.

Yields 16 brownies.

Monday, April 28, 2008

"When baking, follow directions. When cooking, go by your own taste."

So tonight, I didn't feel like thinking of something original or creative to make for dinner. Therefore, we're having boring, old spaghetti. As the above quote (by Laiko Bahrs- whoever that is?- just liked the quote) states, it's really about your personal taste when cooking. Especially with a dish like spaghetti! But I'll share how I did it and you can change it up to suit you!

I sauteed a chopped onion and 3-4 minced garlic cloves in some olive oil. Then, I added lean ground beef and cooked until the meat was brown and the onions clear. Optional- drain off excess fat. Add a regular size can of diced tomatoes (I think mine were Italian style or something) and a 28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes. I added some Italian seasoning (a combo of thyme, basil and oregano would also work). I also had some fresh basil, so I threw in a little of that. I let the sauce simmer for 20-30 minutes (depending on how soon you need to eat). Meanwhile, I boiled my water and cooked the pasta- penne. I used the brand Dreamfield, which is lower in carbs and pretty delicious.

Once the pasta is cooked, I added the pasta and the sauce together and mixed well. Then, I put servings of the pasta into baking dishes and topped with a combo of fresh mozzarella and grated parmesan. The great thing about doing it this way is that you can put it in the fridge until you're ready to serve. When it's time to eat, pop the baking dishes into the oven and bake for 10-15 minutes or until the cheese gets a little brown.

Luckily, no mishaps in the kitchen tonight!
But please be available and ready to defend me when someone accuses me of abusing my dog. I'm both trying to learn to run distance (i.e. still only able to run 1 mile at this time) and teach Ivy how to walk on the leash. Needless to say, this resulted in me accidentally and unknowingly kicking her a few times, as I was running and she crossed my path. More than once, I caught the disapproving look of another jogger. I wanted to tell her she should try a couple laps with Ivy by her side. But she was at a slightly faster pace than me and jogged on ahead. Ivy and I cut our run a little short. I didn't want to stick around for the fast jogger to take down my licence plate number!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

A Taste of Her Own Medicine

For most of you who have met Ivy or seen her interact with people or other dogs, you know that she absolutely loves people and dogs. She jumps in their face and licks them--- and licks and licks. Nothing gets Ivy more excited than meeting new people and dogs. She can not contain her excitement!

Well, yesterday afternoon we took Ivy to play with our friends' puppies- Harley and Paisley. They had a little pen set up in their backyard. We set Ivy down inside and those puppies went crazy! They loved Ivy. They were licking her, jumping on her, running underneath her and in general, all over her. Ivy didn't know what to do. She just kept backing up. They even had a stick and they wouldn't let Ivy play with it- which is her favorite game to play with other dogs at the dog park! To her credit, she never barked or growled or even showed her teeth. She just took it. But she did give Jeremy and me several looks like- please, get me out of here! We laughed so much. We couldn't believe some little puppies got the best of our Ivy!!!
You can see the rest of the pictures here!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Ivy and the Flip Flop

Jeremy's mom bought this toy for their dog, but Ivy loved it so much and played with it constantly, so Rita graciously allowed Ivy to bring it home with us! It keeps her entertained for many hours. We think that she thinks it's one of our real shoes. And nothing gets Ivy excited like playing with something she knows she shouldn't have! I'm pretty sure I saw her napping yesterday and using it as a pillow!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

No man can . . . love his neighbor on an empty stomach.”

We hosted our HOA meeting at our house, so of course we had to provide a few snacks. We didn’t have quite the turn out we were hoping for, but Jeremy and I had more food for ourselves!

We had mini caprese bites, black bean salsa with tortilla chips, quesadillas with lime sour cream, and chicken salad in phyllo cups. I think it turned out pretty well! For dessert, I made chocolate filled vanilla cupcakes. These are best served warm. If you have leftovers, you can put them in the microwave for about 10 seconds, so the filling is melted and gooey!

Mini caprese bites from Southern Living

Chocolate Filled Cupcakes from Martha Stewart

Chicken salad: make your favorite and purchase phyllo cups from store!

Black Bean Salsa with tortilla chips

Lime sour cream: ¾ cup sour cream and zest of one line

Quesadillas: tortillas, monterrey jack cheese, and chopped green chiles

Monday, April 21, 2008


Wow- I can hardly believe I have been married for one year. In some ways, I feel like I have been married forever, but it also seems like our wedding was just a few days ago. It's been a really crazy year, but I'm a really lucky girl!

April 21, 2007

April 21, 2008

Friday, April 18, 2008

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

No Use Crying Over Spilled - - - Saffron Rice

Tonight I was preparing dinner and I cut open my package of saffron rice, I grated the lemon zest right inside the package (so clever- I thought). I was waiting for the chicken stock/ water to come to a boil. Somehow in all my preparations, I knocked over the open package of rice. Rice went everywhere! Of course, Ivy was right there to start licking up the numerous grains of uncooked saffron rice. I don't think uncooked rice is on the list of "don'ts for dogs", but I didn't really think it could be healthy. So I put her into the living room and put up the baby gate. She immediately jumped onto the back of our couch, so she could watch me clean up the mess. As I'm vacuuming, sweeping, and swiffering up all the rice, the pot of chicken stock boils over in a major way. So now, chicken stock is all over my cook top. Awesome. I move the chicken stock and turn off the burner. I finally get everything cleaned up, but dinner was a little late!

This was originally a Rachael Ray recipe and as I go over the changes I made, I realized that it hardly resembles the original recipe. However in the past, I made the dish with shrimp and used RR's marinade and it was delicious. This just worked better for me tonight.

Spanish Shrimp and Chorizo with Sweet Pea Couscous
(I really should have renamed it- Cajun Chicken and Andouille with Sweet Pea Saffron Rice)

1/4 cup (about a handful) parsley, chopped
Zest of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (eyeball it), divided
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Package of boneless, skinless chicken breast
Package of saffron rice (see pic for the type I used)
1 tablespoon butter
5 cups chicken stock, divided (or what packaged rice calls for)
1 cup frozen peas
Package of andouille sausage, sliced
Cajun seasoning

Cut chicken breast into 1 inch cubes and season with cajun seasoning.
Combine the chicken stock, and lemon zest in a medium-size sauce pot. Note- packaged rice will call for water, using chicken stock will give the dish more flavor (I used a combo- 4 cups chicken stock, 1 1/3 cups water). Cover and place over high heat to bring up to a boil. Once boiling, add the packaged rice. Follow cooking directions on package of rice. When cooked, add the peas and let them warm through.
Place a large skillet over medium-high heat with 1 turn of the pan of EVOO. Add the chicken and cook, stirring every now and then for about 4-5 minutes. Add the andouille and cook another 4-5 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through and the sausage is brown. Add rice into meat mixture and sprinkle with chopped parsley.
** Tip- do not open packaged rice until ready to add to boiling water/ stock.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Who says you can't go home???

I had a fabulous weekend in Abilene and I really enjoyed seeing my family. I had Texas BBQ and some of my mom's home cooking. And of course, no trip to Texas would be complete without Tex-Mex!

Because of my kind, sweet friend, Melissa, I went to the Bon Jovi concert in Dallas at the American Airlines Center on Monday night. The concert was fabulous and very entertaining. They did a lot of really cool stuff with the stage and lighting. Our seats were a little high, but we had a great time!
I'm back in Nashville and I decided to bake some chocolate chip cookies. I know there are tons of versions of chocolate chip cookies and you might have a delicious recipe yourself. In fact, my family once tested out a few different recipes. My mom, aunts, and grandmothers made several different versions and all the "guys" were the judges. Of course, the judges were treading on thin ice since they were judging the cookies of their wife, mother, daughters-in-law, sisters, and mother-in-law, etc. A very sticky situation. So in order to keep in the good graces of all the women in their lives- they unanimously agreed that a warm chocolate chip cookie was the winner hands down (regardless of the recipe)!

This recipe is adapted from the Original Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookie. Enjoy!
Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1/2 cup shortening
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups (12-oz. pkg.) chocolate chips


PREHEAT oven to 375° F.

COMBINE flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels and nuts. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.

BAKE for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

"The Rachel"

I went in for a much overdo haircut. I sat down in the chair and said I kind of want to do the longer bangs that you push to the side. Not too thick and I don't want to wear them straight down. The next thing I know, I'm hopping out of the chair with "The Rachel." I don't know what part of longer bangs means tons of layers. Apparently, "Ty" was a big fan of friends and in particular, Rachel. I see a lot of ponytails in my future.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

The reason birds can fly and we can't is simply that they have perfect faith, for to have faith is to have wings.

Or we can't fly because we booked our flight with American and they have canceled over 1,000 flights during the past 2 days. I should have known it was too good to be true when I found a round trip flight from Nashville to Abilene for $250. I have now booked with a different airline and I should be in Dallas at some point tomorrow. That is if Nashville avoids the severe weather and tornado activity that is predicted for late tonight and early tomorrow morning. I'll keep you posted!

I have a new favorite salad and it happened by accident, but I LOVE it! We'll just call it Erin's salad, since I made it up and I'm not sure that anyone else will really like it.

Erin's Salad


salad mix

1/2 lemon

grated parmesan

grape tomatoes



goat cheese with herbs

balsamic vinegar

Put lettuce into large bowl and squeeze half of lemon on salad. Then, sprinkle with grated parmesan and lightly toss together. Then add tomatoes, chopped/ sliced prosciutto, walnuts and goat cheese. Note: I salt sliced tomatoes separately. Add a splash of balsamic and toss everything together. So tasty!

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Lazy Daisy

Well, I haven't blogged in a while for a couple of reasons. First of all, I feel conflicted about having a blog and the entire world having access to my personal thoughts and secondly, I have had a little back trouble. But I'm proceeding with the blog and I'm on the road to recovery with the back.

So here is a delicious recipe. I'm not a huge coconut fan, but these are fantastic. I made a few without coconut, but they are not as good. I would encourage you to give it a try. Also, the recipe says it should make 12 cupcakes, I had enough batter to make 18. I used cupcake liners, but I might try it without, since the icing spills over the sides. You may have seen or heard of a similar recipe- a hot milk cake.

Lazy Daisy Cakes
3 eggs
1 ½ teaspoon vanilla
1 ½ cup sugar
1 ½ cup flour
1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
Heaping ¼ teaspoon salt
¾ cup milk
6 tablespoon unsalted butter
5 tablespoons dark brown sugar
3 tablespoon heavy cream
¾ cup grated coconut

Preheat over to 350 degrees. Butter and lightly flour an 8 inch square pan (or muffin pan).

Beat the eggs with the vanilla until they have thickened slightly. Gradually add the granulated sugar and beat thoroughly.

Mix the flour, baking powder, and salt together and add to the sugar mixture, blending until smooth.

Heat the milk and 1 tablespoon of the butter together in a small saucepan. When the butter has melted, stir the milk into the batter and mix well; the batter will be very liquid.

Work quickly now as noted. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and back for 25 minutes (about 18 minutes for cupcakes), until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.

Remove the cake from the oven. Mix the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter, the brown sugar, the cream, and the coconut together in a small saucepan over low heat until the butter and sugar are melted and well blended.

Spread over the hot cake and brown lightly under the broiler for a minute or two, taking care that the top does not burn.

*Special Note: Once the hot milk has been stirred into the batter, quickly pour it into the prepared pan and pop it into the oven, because as soon as the baking powder is combined with the hot liquid, it begins its work of leavening, and you want that to happen in the heat of the oven.

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Monday, April 7, 2008

Black & White

As most of you probably know, I have a recurring back issue. The back issue causes me to walk bent over (which is very attractive!). As I got out of bed the other morning, my loving husband said- I feel like I'm married to a 65 year old. But I've never really been known for grace! Too bad I'm not even 30 yet!

Although, I have been taking it easy, I did find some time to make these cupcakes. I took them to my volunteer group and they really enjoyed them.

These are the perfect cupcakes to bring to a function/ event. Since they don't have a frosting, you don't have to worry about how to transport them. And you really don't miss the frosting with the addition of cream cheese and chocolate chips.

Black and White Cupcakes

8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 large egg, at room temperature
1/3 cup plus 1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup miniature chocolate chips
1 & 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup warm water
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350°. Line 2 12-cup muffin tins with cupcake liners.

Beat cream cheese, egg, and 1/3 cup sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy (about 2 minutes). Stir in the chocolate chips. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine flour, 1 cup sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt. Make a well in the center, and add water, oil, vinegar, and vanilla. Mix just until blended.

Fill each muffin cup one-third full with the chocolate batter. Top with a spoonful of cream cheese mixture, until cups are about two-thirds full. Bake 22 to 28 minutes, until the tops spring back lightly when touched.

Cool in pans for 10 minutes. Remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Makes about 24 cupcakes.