Tuesday, August 26, 2014

How to remove wax from jars

Hello Everyone! I have a super quick and easy craft tip for you today... for how to easily remove wax from a glass jar! If you love scented candles like I do and have lots of used up ones sitting in the back of one of your kitchen cabinets (like I do!) waiting to be repurposed for something one day, then this is for you! With three simple steps, you can easily remove the wax and re-use the jars for storage or making new candles! Here's how to do it...

You can remove the wax in three easy steps! First, place the jar in the freezer for a couple hours or overnight, because this will make removing the wax much easier! Next, using a sharp knife, cut the wax into a couple big pieces, making sure you cut all the way down to the bottom of the jar. As soon as you make one or two cuts, the pieces will become loose, and the wax will start coming out itself! Take all the pieces of wax out, then wash the jar with a sponge and some soapy hot water just to make sure you got all the wax out!
Happy Crafting, Everyone!
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Sunday, August 24, 2014

The Perfect Crepes

Hi Everyone! When it comes to crepes, I have never had much success; they were either super thick and drenched in oil, or thin, ripped up and burned. My mom on the other hand, is a pro at making crepes! Her crepes always turn out perfectly and she always has two or three pans of them going at the same time, unlike me who struggles to keep one going! With a couple tips and a good recipe though, my crepe making skills have improved, and I have a great recipe to share with you today! I absolutely love crepes, both sweet and savory, and this recipe works for both. I love sweet crepes with Nutella and bananas or with some berry sauce and whipped cream, or savory ones with a creamy mushroom or spinach filling just to name a couple... and I'm getting pretty hungry just writing this!

THE PERFECT CREPES

YOU WILL NEED
2 cups and 2 tbs milk (A little over 16 fl oz)
3 eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbs granulated sugar
Pinch of salt
Oil for cooking crepes



DIRECTIONS
Whisk all the ingredients together in a large bowl. Make sure there are no lumps, and that the batter is nice and smooth! Then, let it sit and rest for about 20 minutes. Once the batter has had time to rest, add a little bit of oil to your pan and cook the crepes one by one (I use about a ladle-full of batter for each crepe), swirling the batter around the pan then letting it cook for a couple of minutes, until you start seeing bubbles on the surface and the edges begin peeling off a little bit. Then, very carefully flip the crepe over and cook on the other side for just a minute or two, until it has cooked through. Follow the same process for each crepe.

Happy Baking, Everyone!
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*I previously shared this recipe on Or So She Says, where I am a monthly contributor, make sure you go and check out the site, you'll find lots of great recipes, projects & ideas!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Caramel Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies

Hi Everybody! After a busy summer filled with lots of travel, fun adventures and not much time spent at home, it feels like life is getting back to normal again... I'm not sure whether I'm happy about that or not, but I'm excited for this fall; for the cool weather, our annual trip to the pumpkin farm in Pennsylvania, walks through the colorful countryside, drinking apple cider and baking pumpkin rolls and apple pies! But before all of that, I have a cookie recipe to share with you today! I can never resist a good chocolate chip cookie, and add some gooey melted caramel in the middle of that cookie and you have cookie perfection! The last time I made these cookies was on one of those days when literally everything that could go wrong in the kitchen did. I made a batch of cookie dough and when I baked off the cookies they didn't look right... I forgot to add in the baking soda! I was pretty annoyed, but decided to make a new batch, making sure I didn't forget a single ingredient this time! The only problem.... when I went to get the baking soda out of my pantry, there was none left! I had pretty much had it with the cookie dough at that point. So one angry trip to the store and a fresh new box of baking soda later, the cookie jar was filled with these chewy caramel filled cookies and all was well with the world again (or at least in my kitchen it was)!

CARAMEL STUFFED CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

YOU WILL NEED
Your favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe!
Chocolate covered soft caramel candies (like Rolos)
Or soft caramels cut in half for each cookie
Optional: coarse salt to sprinkle on top to make these salted caramel chocolate chip cookies!



DIRECTIONS
To make these, simply make your cookie dough as you would normally (leave the baking temperature & time the same as well), and let it chill in the fridge for about 20 - 30 minutes. Once the dough is chilled, preheat your oven (I bake mine at 375 deg F) and line your baking sheets with parchment paper. Place a chocolate covered caramel (or a soft caramel cut in half) in the middle of each cookie, make sure it's completely sealed with cookie dough all around and form a ball shape. Place your cookies on your baking sheets, at least 2 inches apart, then bake according to your cookie recipe directions! Let the baked cookies sit on the baking sheets for at least 5 minutes after they come out of the oven so all the caramel doesn't ooze out! They are best eaten slightly warm when the caramel is all melted!



I hope you love these cookies too!!! And for a quick trick to have fresh baked cookies anytime you want them? Check out THIS post about how to freeze cookie dough balls and have fresh cookies in 10 minutes whenever you want them!!!
Happy Baking, Everyone!
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Thursday, August 14, 2014

A Day in Edinburgh, Scotland

Hello Everyone! It's hard to believe that the summer is coming to an end! I hope you've all enjoyed your summer, that you've had some time to relax and have fun, and that you've made lots of new memories! We've had a busy but great one, filled with lots of travel (and jet lag), and so many new experiences and memories. We recently spent a week in Scotland, and I wanted to share some pictures of our day in Edinburgh with you today! 

Edinburgh is a beautiful city with so much ancient history and lots of charming old streets and squares. At the top is Edinburgh Castle, which overlooks the city. This is one of the views from the castle!


I was pretty excited to be wearing a scarf and a jacket in the middle of the summer! I am not a fan of the heat and the humidity that the summer brings with it, so I was loving the cool temperatures and even the occasional rain showers!


Bagpipes & Tartan
Everything was so beautifully green.


I loved this old gate!

Scottish rock candy (left) and A Scottish Recipes dish towel (right)!

Fish & Chips! We didn't actually have this in Edinburgh, but I wanted to include this here too, because it was so so good! With all the grease that it contained, it was a heart attack waiting to happen, but it was oh so delicious!

Beautiful gardens in the city


The day that we were here happened to be one one of the days that the Fringe Festival was on in the city! There were lots of street performers and vendors out, and it was so much fun watching them all!

 Traditional Scottish tartan blankets


More tartan!

Edinburgh Castle

The interior courtyard of the castle



Cemetery for soldiers' dogs (left) and St. Margaret's Chapel (right). This little chapel was incredible, it was a tiny little room with just a couple of places to sit, but it was so peaceful and serene. It is also the oldest building in both the castle and in the city, and it's hard to believe it's been standing there since the 12th century!


You really need at least half a day to explore the whole castle, but it is so worth seeing at least a little bit of it! Besides seeing the Scottish crown jewels or some of the interiors of where Mary Queen of Scots lived, you get to see some absolutely beautiful views of the city!

I feel like we've been in a constant state of jet lag these past couple of weeks which has made sleeping pretty difficult, so as soon as I saw this tea, I had to get it! It's so good, and I managed to stay asleep until 5am... !!!

This was such a fun trip, and I loved being able to visit this beautiful old city! If you are ever in Scotland, it is definitely worth a visit! This was our last trip of the summer, so it's time to put those suitcases away and get ready for the next season.... I can't wait for fall to come now, after the chilly weather in Scotland I am so ready for it! I hope you are all having a wonderful week, and have a great rest of the summer!

PS. I couldn't resist re-sharing this Scottish treat with you.... I need to make some more shortbread soon!
Get the recipe HERE!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Blackberry Cobbler

Hello, sweet friends! I have a delicious summery recipe to share with you today! With just a couple of weeks left of the summer, this is a great way to use all those fresh berries, and it's such an easy, fuss-free recipe! I love comfort desserts like this, especially with fresh fruit in the summertime! I lightened up the original recipe slightly, but it's still just as good. You could use a variety of berries, but I love the tart blackberries here. Here's the recipe...

BLACKBERRY COBBLER
(Recipe adapted from The Pioneer Woman)
*Serves 6*

YOU WILL NEED
2 cups fresh blackberries
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 stick (4oz) unsalted butter, melted
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup milk (I use skim milk)
Vanilla ice-cream or whipped cream (or both!) to serve

DIRECTIONS
Begin by greasing your baking dish ( I usually use a 9-inch baking pan) and preheat your oven to 350 deg F. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and 3/4 cup of sugar. Pour in the melted butter and milk, and whisk everything together until you have a nice smooth and creamy mixture. Then, pour it into your prepared baking dish. Sprinkle on the blackberries, evenly distributing them over the batter. Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar over the whole thing and bake for about an hour, or until the edges are lightly browned and the berries are juicy! Let cool for a couple of minutes, then serve warm with ice-cream and whipped cream! (*Note: I lightened up the original recipe by using skim milk and reducing the amount of sugar, so if you prefer a sweeter cobbler add extra sugar!)

For other similar desserts, check out these recipes!
Rhubarb Raspberry Crisp (left) and Plum Oatmeal Crisp (right)

 
Apple Cranberry Crisp (left) and Summery Peach Cobbler (right)
*I previously shared this recipe on Or So She Says, where I am a monthly contributor! The site has lots of great recipes and ideas, so make sure you check it out!
Happy Baking, Everyone!
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Monday, July 28, 2014

Summer Cooking with MorningStar Farms

Hi Everyone! Since summer is the time when most of us are trying to eat lighter and keep our meals a little healthier, I was so excited to try out some new MorningStar Farms products! If you've never heard of or tried out any of their products, they have over 30 different meatless products, and also have over 600 recipes on their website, making it easier to eat smart and to help you prepare healthy and delicious meatless meals! I love their motto that says, "We exist to make eating well exciting for those who break the mold and go meatless every now and again, or every day." It's delicious and exciting products that make healthy eating easier and more fun! While I'm not a vegetarian, I'm not a big meat eater either and make meatless meals very often, and I was really impressed with these new MorningStar Farms products, and wanted to share a favorite with you today!


One of my favorite new MorningStar Farms products that I tried was the Mediterranean Chickpea Burgers (you can find them here), which were really good! These patties, which are only 110 calories per serving (you can check out all the nutritional information for products here), are made with chickpeas, spinach, tomatoes and lots of herbs, making them both super flavorful but also very satisfying! What's great is that all you need to do is pop them in the oven for a couple of minutes (no frying! You can also grill them, which is perfect for summertime!), and you have a quick but still healthy meal to enjoy with your family on any weeknight or busy day!


I used these patties to make classic burgers with lettuce and tomatoes, but added a little twist with some pesto mayo! This is one of my favorite things to add to any sandwich or burger to add instant flavor! All you need to do is mix the pesto with the mayonnaise, I usually do about 1/2 tbs for every tbs of mayo, but you can change the ratio to get your desired flavor and consistency! This went perfectly with the Mediterranean flavors of the burgers!


More of their new products include Roasted Garlic & Quinoa Burgers, Buffalo Chik Patties, Parmesan Garlic Wings, Mediterranean Chickpea Pizza and Baja Black Bean Pizza (find more products here!), all of which are really flavorful and a good source of protein. What I really liked about all the products was that they were filling and I didn't feel like I instantly needed a snack because I was hungry already, but they didn't make me feel disgustingly full, like I can't move and never want to eat again! They are a perfect choice for light, clean and healthy eating, and are a great alternative to classic picnic foods for the summer!
GIVEAWAY...
Now the exciting part... For a chance to win a $100 Visa gift card, all you need to do is answer the following question in a comment below! What MorningStar Farms product would you like to try most? You can find all the products here!
Sweepstakes Rules:
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You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods:
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  4. For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry.
This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older. Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. The notification email will come directly from BlogHer via the sweeps@blogher email address. You will have 72 hours to respond; otherwise a new winner will be selected.
The Official Rules are available here.
This sweepstakes runs from 7/28-8/31/2014.
Be sure to visit the MorningStar Farms brand page on BlogHer.com where you can read other bloggers’ posts!

Friday, July 25, 2014

Roman Holiday: Part 2

Hello Everybody! As promised, here is the second part of our Roman Holiday (you can catch up on Part 1 HERE) and it is all about the food! Because food this delicious definitely deserves a post of its own. And because much of it was consumed on this trip, and I want to share it with you all! From the pizza, the pasta and the prosciutto to the desserts and the gelato, it's hard not to fall in love with Italy at first bite. Italian dining is quite a grand affair, and the taste, quality and pace of the meal reflects that in every way. The Italians not only know how to cook the food, they know how to eat it. At a leisurely pace, in several courses throughout the meal. Traditionally, there is an antipasto course (which is the appetizer), then the first course which is a pasta dish, the second course is a meat course which could either be chicken, some kind of red meat, or fish, and lastly, dessert. The dolce. Eating isn't rushed, and it isn't just for survival. It's a pleasure. An occasion. And it's a grand one. Food is to be enjoyed and to be savored. And really, ingredients this fresh and food prepared this well deserve the time and love!


First, there's the pizza. 

The thin crust, the melted cheese, the huge variety of toppings... there's nothing like it! (And as a side note: it's really not a good idea to be counting carbs when you're in Italy. Wait until you get back home.)

One afternoon, we stumbled upon a small family run pizza shop on a little street corner after one of our very long walks. The shop had about twenty-five different kinds of pizza toppings, ranging from prosciutto (which was amazing!), shredded potato, mushroom, various grilled vegetables, and this. Zucchini blossoms and anchovies. It was so good. I later saw zucchini blossoms incorporated into a lot of different dishes since they are in season in the summer, a popular one also being stuffed and fried zucchini blossoms served as an appetizer.

More pizza. Fresh tomato & tuna.

And then there's the pasta...

Oh my goodness, the pasta. A seafood pasta on the left, and a mushroom  & bacon pasta on the right. I have no words. Pure deliciousness.

My favorite lunch stop. Cheese & Salami Focaccia sandwich. 

And then, there's the gelato.

Ever since I knew we were going to Rome, I couldn't wait for the gelato. I had heard about this cafe, or ice-cream parlor, called Giolitti which is the oldest one in Rome and really wanted to go there. So on our way back from the Vatican, we stopped there. It's a busy place, with people lining up to first get a ticket with what size ice-cream they want, then crowding around the large counter filled with more ice-cream flavors than you can imagine!

More Nutella. I'm pretty sure this wasn't even Nutella flavored gelato, just straight up Nutella. And hazelnut gelato (can you tell I love hazelnuts?!)

The interior of the ice-cream parlor.

Just a couple of the flavors to chose from!

There was something else that was uniquely Italian: coffee bars. Essentially a place filled with only coffee, where you walk up to the bar, order your coffee, drink it right there, and leave. Like a brief caffeine refill during a busy day.

The funny part is, I don't drink coffee. But I'm pretty sure my husband had enough for both of us! We had breakfast at a little cafe near our hotel every morning, and when he asked for his coffee, they automatically assumed I wanted one too. Instead (and to their horror), I asked for my usual English Breakfast Tea. To my surprise, it was served in a little coffee cup! The smallest (and probably strongest!) little cup of tea I've ever had!

Another Italian favorite? Nutella. In everything. Like this Nutella filled croissant. This is my kind of place. 

Delicious pastries and cookies.

Like these. (More Nutella on the right)

Or this.

Lots of restaurants displayed the seasonal ingredients they were cooking with out front (like the picture on the left). They had big baskets of huge lemons, fresh vegetables and lots of different kinds of mushrooms. And on the right, these little stalls with roasted chestnuts were all over the city!

More deliciousness.


Another street cafe on Piazza Navona.

Cafe seating.

Olive trees. And more coffee.

And maybe my favorite thing of all, this amazing appetizer dish. Prosciutto, cheese and fresh figs. It was to die for. Eat this, and you will never want to leave. Or at least that's how I felt.

This trip was quite a culinary adventure, and I came back with lots of ideas that I can't wait to try out in my kitchen (as soon as I get over this jet lag!) Every time I go to Italy, I fall in love with it all over again. There's just something about those little streets and piazzas, the way of life, and the amazing food, you can't help but be enchanted by it! One day I will have a summer home in Italy. Hopefully around the corner from a little trattoria. I have lots of "one days" on my list, but this one is pretty high up on there :) I hope you've enjoyed coming along on this trip (if you want to read Part 1 which is all about the city of Rome, you can find it HERE), and that you are having a wonderful week! Thanks for stopping by today, and come back soon for some new recipes and projects!
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