Sunday, February 20, 2011

Whose Recipe is it Anyway?

Hello, all! Hope everyone is doing well these days. I just have to share this guacamole recipe with all of you. It is fabulous, oh so fabulous. I am definitely one of those people who prefers to make my guacamole from scratch. I love the taste of it and I am guilty of eating an entire bowl by myself. What can I say? We've all got to get our veggies somehow. And yes, within the past week, I've made this three times. I normally make my guacamole with avocados, lemon juice, purple onion, salt, and pepper. When I saw Ina whip this one up on Barefoot Contessa, I had to try it. Well, there is no going back for me. I made a few minor changes to make mine unique because that is just how I roll. :) You really cannot mess up this recipe. Just modify it however you please. This is the perfect dish for parties or appetizers. Then, you can decide, did Ina Garten create this or did Faith? Of course, being the sweeties that all of you are, you will choose the latter. Ha! Printed below is the recipe from Ina Garten and beneath that are my modifications. I promise, if you go her way, we can still be friends. Enjoy!
4 ripe Haas avocados
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (1 lemon)
8 dashes hot pepper sauce
1/2 cup small-diced red onion (1 small onion)
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 medium tomato, seeded, and small-diced

Faith's modifications:
-no hot sauce
-sweet white onions instead of purple
-did not seed tomato
-doubled fresh garlic
-always serves with Mission brand tortilla chips-HEAVENLY!

Mix all and serve immediately.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Comfy Campout

Hey all you Valentines! You've still got time to plan something sweet for your loved one. Here is an easy idea that your Valentine is sure to appreciate even if you are on a budget. Billy and I decided that this year, we would just stick to the simple and focus on time together rather than gifts. So, for my present to him, I decided to have a campout dinner on the balcony of my apartment. We cooked hot dogs on the flattop griddle, ate spinach dip and chips, and topped it off with chocolate fondue for dessert. Complete with a homemade tent, Norah Jones and candlelight, it turned out to be a really fun date. We wore comfy clothes and just enjoyed the nice weather. Here are a few of our pictures. Hope all of you have a great Valentine's Day!
Fast Fondue:
1 cup chocolate morsels
1/2 tbsp. vegetable shortening

Spinach Dip:
Recipe on back of Knorr Vegetable Mix-yellow and green package usually available with the lipton soup mixes

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Hold Me Back Brownies

Oh my goodness. I am in love. I have actually created my OWN brownie recipe and I personally am obsessed with it. I love to try challenging new things, especially with baking. However, if I am going to put time and money into something, I want successful results. Who doesn't? Because of the snow last night, my evening classes and my basketball game were cancelled. So, I thought to myself, I want less dinner and more dessert. I decided this was the perfect opportunity to go out on a limb. I took a basic brownie recipe and totally modified it. I used only the measurements for the base ingredients and then went my own way. I tried to make this recipe as detailed as possible even down to the materials you need to cook them. I love details, they make cooking a breeze. These would be the perfect treat for your loved one for Valentine's Day. Billy calls them his Rub Them All Over My Face Brownies. Haha! Hope all of you have a great day. Thanks for letting me indulge myself for a few moments.

1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/3 cup Hershey's Special Dark Cocoa Powder
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1 tbsp. Hershey's Special Dark Chocolate Syrup
3 tbsp. of Jif Creamy Peanut Butter

Large Spoon
Measuring cups and spoons
Casserole Dish-I used an 8" one
Oven preheated to 350

1. Melt butter in a saucepan on medium, allow it to melt and bubble slightly. I did not brown the butter but I did cook it slightly.
2. In a bowl, stir sugar, eggs, and vanilla together.
3. Temper butter into egg and sugar mixture. For those of you that don't know, temper means to take a small amount of the hot ingredient and stir it in the mix. Do this a little at a time to ensure that you do not scramble the eggs with the hot butter.
4. Once butter, eggs, and sugar are mixed together fully, stir in cocoa powder until fully mixed.
5. Stir in flour, salt, baking powder, and syrup.
6. I used a whisk and whipped the mix by hand and it worked well.
7. Spray a dish with Pam and pour batter into dish. Spread out evenly. Place three spoonfulls of peanut butter across the dish. Use your knife to swirl the peanut butter through the brownie mixture. Carefully drop the pan on the counter three or four times to release air bubbles and place in the oven. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until a toothpick comes out almost clean, somewhat crumbly. These do not need to be cooked all the way as they will settle and shape up after you let them rest for a few minutes.
8. Indulge.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Hodgepodge Den

I have very long and tall walls in my apartment. When I first moved in, I wanted to find a focal point for my den. I had several books, pictures, and trinkets that I needed to display. First, I thought back to homes that I had visited and what seemed memorable about them. There are plenty I could list and they definitely helped me get my creative juices flowing. Some had collages of wedding pictures while others displayed pictures of their art. I thought, why not make a entire wall full of all of the things that I love? Go big or go home, well I was already home but, you get the gist. By doing so, I was able to show items that reflect my personality as well as make the walls seem comfier and cozier. Here are a few pictures of my den.
1. Lay out options of arrangements on the floor before hanging. With my pictures, I placed the two largest items in the middle and worked my way out.
2. The items have a type of triangle layout at the top and then form a square type design on the sides. I guess I would call the shape of this collage of items a trirectangle. Thus, I am able to describe my style by making up my own word for it. :) Just think of all the possibilities!
3. The wall shelves are from Target. The one in the middle is the longest one available there and the two on the sides are the medium size.
4. Play with color. I have this red couch that I am currently borrowing. Red is not my color. However, I did not let that hold me back from my display idea. I chose neutral brown and blue pillows for the couch in hopes of pulling the colors in the wall items down to the furniture.


Friday, February 4, 2011

Mixing Bed Linens

I cannot tell you how much I LOVE home linens. I believe you can make your home, from a dorm room to a mansion, peaceful simply with calming fabrics. When you really consider it, some one place in your home is your solace. For me, my two most comforting places are my kitchen and my bed. I love to have items in these two places that allow me to “escape” from my everyday routine. When I am home, I want to feel cozy, comfortable, and clean. Therefore, I put a lot of effort into the linens that I use in these two rooms hoping to achieve all three of these things. Since it is about bedtime, you can guess where I am going with this post. :)

List of tips and tricks:

1. I obsess over mixing sheet sets. I have several fitted sheets that are in neutral colors. These could be ones I've bought alone or pieces from my other complete sets. I prefer to use flat sheets in a variety of textures and patterns to add on top of the fitted sheet. Also, I love homemade quilts so those are for me, a must.

2. On top of the bed, I love solid colored bedspreads or duvets. Often, these catch my eye the most. Using solids on top gives me a blank canvas. In these pictures, you might not be able to pick out the duvet because they are somewhat small. Nevertheless, it is white with a faint sea green trim.

3. I put the combination in the pictures together quickly and it gave my room an instant update. When you think you need a quick makeover, try this! You probably have numerous pieces in your closet that could make an adorable spread.

4. Remember that you have quite a lot of flexibility with the prices of these types of home items. It is your choice. You can spend a lot or a little on brand or thread count to create a unique look. Nevertheless, you will be left with quite the classic spread. Thus, your bedroom will have a look of structure and serenity.

5. If you decide to go out shopping for a few new pieces, take someone along to suggest ideas. They might see a working combination that you do not. You might also want to jot down a list of what you do already have as a quick reminder.

6. The cotton commercial says it all for my fabric choice, “The touch, the feel of cotton, the fabric of our lives.” Enough said.

7. Consider searching for bed linen combinations as a time when you do not have to feel ashamed to browse through granny’s closet. There are often vintage printed items hidden in places you least expect. If this is your style, you can bring these family heirlooms to a new light with a few fresh items for a vintage classic appeal.

8. I somewhat overdo it on fabric softener.

9. PICK and BUY what you LOVE. How many times do I say this? Haha! But, if you see a pattern that is calling your name, get it if it goes with your room design. You can make it work with solids and/or neutral patterns. Do not be afraid! Just keep them in non-clashing shades and you are likely fine. Refer back to Neutral Speak post for further detailed explanation.

10. Shop clearance for neutrals. Often, the bedding clearance section has plenty of neutral pieces such as fitted sheets, flat sheets, and sets of pillowcases.

11. Here is how I made the combination in the pictures. The striped flat sheet is pale blue, cream, and a faint yellow stripe. I took a pale blue fitted sheet and made it my base. I added the flat sheet on top. Then, I chose yellow pillowcases, a neutral brown print, and the striped cases for my pillows. I placed a small white square pillow on front of all of the pillows to polish off this combination. I wish I could share all of the ones that I try! Maybe more on that later.

The combination in the pictures are items from the following:

Fitted Sheet: Target

Flat Sheet: TJ Maxx

Brown and Cream King Pillowcases: Land's End

Pale Yellow Owl Pillowcases: Etsy

Striped Pillowcases: TJ Maxx