Friday, April 10, 2015

Super Easy - 2 Ingredient Cookies and Cream Ice Box Cake

My grandma used to make this for me every time I visited. I always loved it and finally made some myself. This cake is great to make on a warmer day, because you don't even have to turn on the oven. It only requires 2 ingredients, Chocolate Wafers, and Cool Whip, so that's an added bonus as well! 

It's super simple! Grab a loaf tin and your 2 simple ingredients. First, spread 2-3 Tbsp of Cool Whip on the bottom of the tin evenly. Then, add a layer of chocolate wafers. They fit perfectly with 2 across. At the short side of the tin, a whole cookie wouldn't fit, so I added some cookies that were already broken in half.
Keep layering the Cool Whip and Chocolate Wafers until you are out of ingredients. I liked when the layers of Cool Whip were thicker, but whatever you wind up doing will be great! I also crushed up some of the broken cookies (in my fingers) and lightly sprinkled them on top of the cake for a bit of added cuteness! 
Pop the "cake" into the freezer, and let it freeze over night. Voila! You have an incredibly easy, no-bake Cookies and Cream Ice Box Cake! 

Friday, March 20, 2015

Centro Woodfired Pizza - Cedar City, UT

Yum! What a nice surprise to find such fresh, tasty food in this cute, little town. 
The decor was really cute. The perfect mix of modern and reclaimed/rustic. Lots of natural light and super friendly and knowledgeable staff. 
Fresh decor complimentwd their food really well. This place is great for eating with 1-2 people, or I believe they would accommodate larger parties as well. 
Their special was proccuttio and dried apricots! I didn't get brave enough to try it, but I'm sure it would be good!
Reclaimed wood and pallete went throughout the place. 

And, now the food! We ordered the bruschetta and it was awesome! The bread they used was a cool and crunchy compliment to the diced fresh tomatoes and the balsamic sauce. We are every bite! 
Next, we ordered the pizza! Topped in something that resembles pepperoni, this Woodfired pizza was crunchy, soft, cheesy, just the right amount of greasy, and really tasty. The crust was nice and bubbly thick, and thinner towards the middle. It was topped with some Asiago or super strong Parmesan, almost a bit too strong towards the end, but all the ingredients really complimented each other well. 
I also liked how they give you a large bottle of water so you can refill your own glasses with nice, cold water - something you need a lot of when you're in Utah! 

I definitely recommend this restaurant and if you have ever been, please feel free to comment below! 

Take care and happy eating! 

Monday, March 2, 2015

Tater Tot Horseshoe Sandwich

Horseshoes originated in my hometown of Springfield, IL. They're essentially made up of toast, a burger patty, french fries (I used tater tots!!!), and topped with cheese and tomatoes. They're super tasty, and really filling. 
* 1 Bag of Tater Tots (160z.) 
* 1/2 Lb Ground Beef (to make 2 patties)
* Add-Ins for burger - I used salt, chopped onion, and garlic powder. JalapeƱos also welcome!
* Organic Tomatoes to top 
* Bread for toast (1-2 pieces each)
Cheese Sauce Ingredients 
* 1/2 to 1 C. Farmers Cheese or other mild cheese
* 1 Tbsp corn starch
* 1 can evaporated milk
1.) Preheat oven and bake tatted tots as instructed.
2.) Heat grill, and grill burgers to desired done-ness.
3.) Begin your cheese sauce. In a medium sauce pot, heat all Cheese Sauce Ingredients until thoroughly combined. Season with salt and seasoned salt if desired. Stir Frequently.
4.) When everything is almost done, toast 2-4 pieces of toast.
Place 1-2 pieces of toast on plate, then add burger, tater tots, cheese sauce, and tomatoes!
Fun substitutions can be made by swapping out the burger and adding: Chicken, Bacon, Turkey, and more!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Bacon Wrapped Pineapple Rings

I have a real treat for you! The perfect mid-afternoon snack to eat on a snowy Sunday... 
Bacon-Wrapped Pineapple Rings! They taste super good and are actually fun to create. 
It took a little bit of time, but they were easy none the less. 
* 4 - 5 Pineapple Rings (We bought a fresh pineapple that was packaged near the fruit coolers, and cut them into super thick slices). A Can of pineapple also works. 
* 10 slices (1 Package) of Thinly Sliced Bacon (I like Applegate Organic)
* Toothpicks or short skewer sticks.
* Metal Baking Rack - place into baking dish
*Shallow 9x13 Baking Dish

Preheat oven to 350 Degrees.
Open the package of bacon, and prepare/cut/or drain your pineapples.
Set out a decent amount of toothpicks into a shallow dish so they are easy to use.

Set one pineapple ring onto a cutting board or clean surface. Take the first slice of bacon, begin to wrap it around the pineapple, and continue with 1-2 more pieces of bacon per ring. Secure with toothpicks.

Now, place each Bacon Pineapple Ring onto the Baking Rack.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, on the top rack of the oven. You may need up to ten minutes more, depending on your oven. Make sure you do not burn them, and enjoy!


Friday, February 27, 2015

Thai Dishes on Broadway - Santa Monica, CA

YUM! I would definitely recommend this awesome Thai restaurant if you are in Santa Monica, CA. At Thai Dishes on Broadway, I was even able to sit outside on a heated patio and eat dinner. This is a real treat if you're from Illinois! I just loved this place! I got my usual Thai favorite, Broccoli Beef, but the sauce was not too thick, just like I like it. The flavors weren't overpowering, and the beef and broccoli were cooked perfectly! I also had a Singha beer with dinner, and I really enjoyed just sitting and people watching. The place is just over a block to the entrance of the Santa Monica Pier.

 This place is very classy, but not super dressy. It would be perfect for a date, dinner with friends, dinner with family, a medium-sized group, and great for lunch and dinner.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Gourmet Chocolate Heart Candies - Made At Home!

I had SO much fun creating these heart chocolates. I made them in several varieties, and I am going to tell you how each one turned out! I used the highest-quality ingredients, mostly from the baking aisle and craft stores (for the heart mold and sprinkles). These turned out so well! 
 These would be the perfect Valentine's Day gift for someone who loves sweets but is hard to shop for! These aren't super expensive to make, like some seasonal recipes are, either! 
*Note - do not use almond bark or candy melts for this method*
For best results, use a spoon to place toppings in heart mold. Let's begin the fun! 
Here are my "toppings" from left to right. 
Heath - make sure to only use a light, single layer of these or they won't all stick to the chocolate.
Andes - My favorite! Fill with Andes about 1/3 of the way.
Sprinkles - Look best on white chocolate, rather than milk.
Chopped Walnuts - Use only a light layer, similar to Heath.
Larger Sprinkles - use a single layer for best results.
*The prettiest ones were the little nonpareils (tiny ball sprinkles) in a single layer*
Now, melt the chocolate! I used a double boiler method (explained here - but do not add any butter). I used a shallow, medium pot and filled it about 1/3 of the way with water. I placed two 2 Cup Pyrex measuring cups in the water for a double boiler. Melt 1 package each of the milk chocolate and white chocolate in separate cups. Slowly melt the chocolates, and stir frequently. They should be smooth and move easily. 
Once your melted chocolate is smooth, remove the cups with an oven mitt, and place them onto a towel near your work space. Get a little bit of chocolate onto a spoon, and begin adding milk chocolate to half of the hearts...
And, white chocolate to the other hearts. Be careful not to get chocolate everywhere, so your end result is prettier.
Carefully, slide the hearts onto a baking sheet or cutting board to transport them into the freezer. 
Here they are after being in the freezer for less than an hour! Make sure they are completely cooled and hardened before you move them. 
One of my favorite parts was removing the fresh chocolates from the molds and seeing my creations! I liked most all of them, and think they would look adorable packaged up all cute for Valentine's Day! 

Friday, February 6, 2015

Strawberry Muffins From Scratch - With Pink Icing!

I wanted to make something with strawberries for Valentine's Day and here they are! The muffins don't need the icing, but it sure made them cute. I used mini muffin tins, and they were perfectly bite sized. These muffins were very moist, so make sure you cook them thoroughly. 

2 C. all purpose flour

1/3 C. sugar

1 T. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
1 t. cinnamon
2 large eggs
1 C. milk
1/4 C. vanilla yogurt
1/2 t. vanilla extract
1 1/2 C. fresh strawberries, hulled and finely chopped

Mix all ingredients except for strawberries. 
Here is my muffin batter before I added the strawberries and sugar. 
Below, I pureed the strawberries and added them to my batter. I also added 2 drops of food coloring to enhance the pink color for the photos :)
Bake the mini muffins for 15-18. Now, make your icing. 
I made a simple icing in my food processor. Add all ingredients, and process until combined. Scrape sides to incorporate any extra ingredients. Pour into smaller bowl to spoon onto muffins. 
ICING INGREDIENTS -  Original Recipe
1 Tbsp Butter - 1 C. Powdered Sugar - 1-2 Tbsp milk - 1/4 tsp vanilla - 2 tsp. fruit - Food Coloring
Thanks for stopping by! These were even great the next day. Enjoy! 

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Brewery Review / Restaurant Review - St. Nicholas Brewing Co. DuQuoin, IL

The sunny weather made our visit to St. Nicholas Brewing Co. really lovely today. The brewery is located about a 20 minute drive from Carbondale, in Du Quoin, IL. It is just off the main strip, and is located around the corner from Doc Z's Fitness, which I thought was a perfect fit. 

St. Nicholas Brewing Co. is all brick, inside and out! They opened in August of 2014s, and the building was built in the 1880s, as a hotel. They did a great job renovating the space, opening it up to let lots of light in, creating a very inviting atmosphere, and keeping lots of original and unique details of the old hotel. This place is definitely worth checking out if you are in the area.
I liked the Blonde Ale. Super light and not too hoppy. We also tried the Cadence Porter and it's apparently coming home in a growler next time. Only $8 growler refills! 
 We actually all wound up getting burgers! Mine, pictured below, was their Basic Burger on a Pretzel Bun, with a side of Mac N Cheese. YUM! The burger was a teeny bit greasy/drippy, but other than that it tasted really good. The other 2 burgers weren't though. My Mac N Cheese was definitely creamy and had a kind of lighter taste. The potato chip crumble topping was unique and good.
We also got the St. Nick Sweet & Spicy Burger (with parmesan, jalapeƱo, pineapple, and pickle with sweet BBQ sauce), and the Mac & Cheese Burger (topped with Mac!).
Here are the Cadence Porters.
 And, the Blonde Ale. 
 The Brewing Viewing Area
 And, the old brick lined every wall of this airy space. 
 The entrance was very tall, and had this red barn wood at top. Brewing area was on the right.
 So, make sure to check out St. Nicholas Brewing Co. at 12 S. Oak Street in Du Quoin, IL.