Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Blaze's wings....our first cooking experience

How exciting are first dates!? Or first kisses or the first time you say 'I love you'?  Your answer should be SOOO EXCITING!! Ok, the all caps may have been a bit much.  But really, they are so wonderful, you rush to tell your girlfriends within at least 24 hours of them happening.  Well if you're a girl.  I'd like to think that guys could be reading this too, so perhaps you tell your guy friends. No clue.... I'm not a guy. Anyway, relationships are always full of firsts that are oh so wonderful. I could list all of my firsts with Blazer but he'd probably get embarrassed. And he's definitely going to be embarrassed I called him Blazer (love you, honey!). 

This weekend Blaze and  I had our first cooking experience together.  Usually the kitchen is my kingdom, but he was telling me his wing recipe and I opened the gates.  Ok, not that dramatic, but let's just say I may be totally am a bit of a control freak in the kitchen.  Apparently, stirring the sauce wasn't enough responsibility in his eyes, but he was the best sauce stirrer (is that a word?) a girl could ask for.

Now, these bad boys were pretty spicy.  I had to soak my lips in milk.  So if you want a little less heat, just buy a more mild hot sauce. The good news for me was that these we so spicy I had a distraction from the hot mess that the cowboys were that day.  I've been a fan since birth but they seriously are giving me heart failure....or may be it was the wings. You be the judge!

Blazin' Wings (nice play on his name huh?)
1- 24oz package wingettes (we used Perdue)
1 cup buffalo wing sauce (any kind you like)
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp all purpose seasoning (we used Emeril's Original Essence)
2 tbsp garlic powder
1/2 tbsp black pepper
1 1/2 cups flour
3 cups milk

In a large ziploc bag combine wingettes, 1 tbsp essence, 1 tbsp garlic powder, and 1/2 tbsp black pepper. Shake until coated, pour in milk.  Let them marinate for 45minutes.  In a sauce pan combine buffalo sauce, butter, honey, brown sugar, and Worcestershire sauce.  Heat on medium until butter and sugar have melted,reduce heat to low. 

In a bowl combine remaining essence and garlic powder with flour. Dredge wings and fry for 3-4 minutes. Remove wings from fry and drain. 

In a separate bowl (yes another one) pour half of the sauce over wings and shake.  Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Place wings on baking sheet and bake for 6 minutes at 350. Baste with sauce and bake an additional 6 minutes.  When wings are done baste one last time with remaining sauce.

Serve with ranch and celery. Man food! Enjoy!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Almond Cupcakes and Cannoli Cream Icing

A few years ago, I almost lost my life over a cannoli.  Seriously!  I was at the Italian Festival in Wilmington Delaware and all I wanted was a chocolate chip cannoli.  I waited (and waited and waited) and FINALLY it was my turn. I ordered two chocolate chip cannoli's (because let's be honest one is never enough) and they gave them to me....stay with me here, this is where it takes a turn for the worst.  The person behind me, and next to me (on both sides) ordered a chocolate chip cannoli and the woman working the stand threw me under the bus...at a very high decimal. "SHE BOUGHT THE LAST ONE!" (insert pointed finger in my direction)  I might as well call her the department of transportation, she not only threw my under the bus, but under an etire fleet of busses full of angry and hungry Italians.

Deep Sniff.....

There's something beautiful about cannoli's....the marscapone, the almond flavoring, the perfect balance of sweet and savory.  So I started thinking about how I could satisfy my cannoli craving without having to fry the cookie and pipe in the the filling....and....DING! Cupcakes.

Delicious almond cupcakes with cannoli cream icing.  I can now move on from my traumatic Italian festival experience and have the first, and last cannoli, and no one will say a word!

Yummmmm......take a bite. You'll thank me later!

Almond Cupcakes: makes 12
1/2 cup softened butter
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup half & half
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp almond extract

Cream butter, sugar, and eggs together until light and fluffy.  Sift dry ingredients together. Measure half & half and vegetable oil.  Add dry ingredients to butter mixture and alternate with cream and oil. Mix until combined. Pour into lined cupcake tin.

Bake 20-22min at 350 degrees.

let them cool.....then frost them with this

Cannoli Cream Icing
8oz softened marscapone
1 block softened cream cheese
1 stick softened butter
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp almond extract
1-1 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

Whip butter, marscarpone, and cream cheese together.  Add powdered sugar until light and fluffy.  Using a spatula stir in almond extract and then chocolate chips.  I used an ice cream scoop to frost the cupcakes.  Yes, it was a lot of frosting. I have no shame. 


Friday, September 30, 2011

Gingerbread Cookies

I don't know what the weather is like where you are....but it's COLD here in Indianapolis.  Like really cold.  I think what makes it so bad is the wind, it blows my dog Winston (get to know and love him, I'm sure I'll mention him a lot) right over.  And then I laugh, and then I feel like a bad parent...it's a vicious cycle I tell ya!

Anyway, when I'm cold there is a list of things I want; sweat pants, obnoxious fuzzy socks, soup, hot tea, and warm cookies....just to name a few. Well, I've taken care of everything on the list except for the soup.  I'll save that for when it's so cold I avoid going outdoors.  It's happened. Don't judge. 

Warms your heart doesn't it.

My favorite item on my cold list are the cookies. And this week I made gingerbread. Soft, chewy, warm gingerbread.  The smell alone is enough to make you die and go to heaven.  And yes, I realize my gingerbread is in the shape of a heart and not a man, I just can't eat something that is smiling at me.  It ain't right! It is like when people get cakes that look just like their dogs, who wants to cut into their dog?!

Make sure you cool your cookies before you frost them.  Don't take them straight from the oven and scarf one without expecting to burn a few taste buds like SOME people ( me )

When they cool just pipe a little glaze on. Or you can dunk the whole cookie if you want to get crazy with it.  I'll support you in that!

Gingerbread Cookies:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 3/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 large egg
1/2 cup molasses
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

If you have a kitchen aid mixer with a paddle, I highly recommend using it! Cream butter and brown sugar together, add egg until mixed completely.  In a separate bowl sift together flour, backing powder, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves. Make sure the dry ingredients are mixed together.  Add molasses and vanilla to butter mixture. Slowly incorporate dry mixture. Once everything is mixed well together wrap in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate dough for 1 hour, remove from fridge and let it sit at room temp for 30 minutes. 

Flour your surface and rolling pin, roll dough out to about 1/4 inch and use whichever cookie cutters you'd like.  (you can even make little smiling men if you're in to that)

Bake for 7min (for soft) and up to 11min (for crunchy) at 375.

Quick Glaze
2 tablespoons softened butter (just use the two you have left over from the cookies)
1 tablespoon half and half
1 teaspoon vanilla
Powdered sugar ( eye ball it to desired consistency)


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Salmon and Spinach alFREEdo

When I was younger my mom said the only thing green I would eat was green m&m's.  NOT TRUE! I totally did damage every holiday on green bean casserole. Wait....canned green beans with fried onions and cream of mushroom soup have no nutritional value?! Say it isn't so!
Much to my mom's delight as I got older I started eating many more vegetables (and many less m&ms).  Along with my addiction to little chocolate delights I also L-O-V-E alfredo sauce. Creamy cheesy bubbly goodness.  But, due to a metabolism that moves at the pace of a tortoise, alfredo every day isn't the best idea. I have to give a special shout out to my roomie (ayyyyy roomie) for sending me some ideas for dinner. Because it was through a sugestion that I came up with this delightful recipe for salmon and spinach alFREEdo (haha get it?)
So now my mama can sleep soundly, not so against my will I am now eating tons of veggies instead of things dipped in chocolate, covered in cheese, or wrapped in bacon. mmmmmmmm....baconnnn

Maybe that will be in a future post...come back and see!

Salmon and Spinach AlFREEdo

2 fillets of salmon
garlic powder
1 1/2 cups frozen spinach (thawed and drained)
1 1/2 cups plain fat free yogurt
1 tbsp corn starch
1 tsp dry dill
1 tsp horseradish
1 tbsp lemon juice
1-2 gloves pressed garlic
whole grain spaghetti noodles
garlic olive oil

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt, and add whole grain noodles.
Heat a skillet with high sides spray with cooking spray. Sprinkle salmon with pepper and garlic powder. Add salmon to skillet and cook until it is half way done (about 2 minutes per side).  Remove salmon, add garlic cloves and spinach.  In a bowl combine yogurt and corn starch; add to spinach mixture.  Stir in horseradish, dill, and lemon juice.  DO NOT BOIL MIXTURE. Reduce to medium/low. Shred or chop salmon fillets and add them to the sauce.
Drain your spaghetti and drizzle with garlic olive oil. 

Put your noodles on your dish and top with the sauce!  Yum!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Life's a peach.....cupcake

Well, I broke my weekly blogging rule (again).  I'm not going to promise to be better about it, because who are we kidding?  BUT....I've been doing a lot of baking lately, and I thought I'd share.  (as in the recipe, those cupcakes are alllllll mine)  well, maybe if you ask nicely......ok take the entire batch.

I'm such a pushover.

I like peaches. I like raspberries. And I like cupcakes.  So I decided I'd put them all together and hope for the best. Turns out they are pretty darn tasty!  My honey was on a conference call in the other room while I was baking these little pieces of heaven.  When he came out of the room he took the call in he headed straight to these bad boys. 

I'm a pushover and an awesome girlfriend.

Does this mean I am breaking even?  I think so!

Ok, enough typing. MAKE THESE!  And let me know what you think! Seriously, let me know I altered the recipe slightly to what I think would make the cake more peachy and a little more moist.  More recipes to follow...

Peach Cupcakes:
2 ripe peaches (chopped and then smashed)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 stick unsalted butter (softened)
2 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 1/4 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2tsp salt
1/2 cup half & half
1 tsp peach extract (available at specialty baking stores. if not, use peach oil which can be found at places like Michael's in the candy making section)

Preheat your oven to 350.
Using your paddle attachment mix butter, sugars, peaches, and oil.  Add one egg at a time until combined.

In a separate bowl sift flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  Begin adding into wet mixture. Alternate with half &half until everything is combined.  Using your spatula, mix in peach extract. (also add a dash of cinnamon if you're feeling spicy)

Pour into cupcake tins (lined with pretty papers...or just plain $1 ones if you're on a budget  like me!) and bake for 20-25min.

Raspberry Buttercream
1 cup raspberries
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
2 sticks softened unsalted butter
2 cups powdered sugar (sifted)
1 tsp vanilla

in a saucepan combine raspberries, sugar, and water. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer.  Stir until a syrup forms and all berries are broken down.  Take off of stove to cool.
With your paddle attachment whip butter. Strain raspberry syrup so it is free of seeds.  add syrup to butter and mix. Add powdered sugar and mix until all is light and fluffy.  Use a spatula to mix in vanilla.  If you need some additional moisture mix in half & half 1 tbsp at a time.

Once cupcakes have cooled, frost, enjoy. Repeat!

Monday, July 11, 2011


Wow, it’s been a while! This time I promise to do better, I will blog at least once a week…errr if I remember. Which I should, because it’s therapeutic, just like the gym….except I’m bad about going there too. Maybe I will do better about doing both.  I get on these kicks where I’ll gym it up almost every day, and then comes the kick where I want to be in my jammies 24 hours a day and bake cupcakes.  Is there something wrong with me?! Probably, but I’ll pretend like I’m normal.  
A lot has happened since I last blogged. A lot has happened in the past week.  Basically, a lot has been going on!  I won’t bore you and make this entry be my “dear diary” moment, but I will fill you in on some of the revelations I have had.  Well, they’re mostly just thoughts not really revelations. 
Two weeks ago I attended a daylong seminar with my colleagues that talked about the differences in generations.  We were divided into our specific generations, then mixed, then divided, then mixed.  Overall it was a good day.  My excessively talkative personality revealed itself and my control freak “make it happen” side did too during group exercises.  I’m trying to find balance because I really don’t want to be “that girl” but I hate when people ask for volunteers followed by awkward silence because no one else wants to speak up. (ok, rant officially over)  Anyway, there was a lady in my group who I knew but didn’t really know.  She kind of opened my eyes when she spoke about generations working together.  She said, “I don’t understand why we’re discussing the differences between generations, I see so many similarities.”  And she was right, in the end; all we really need is respect, understanding, love, and support.
One week ago, that very same colleague of mine had her life taken in a terrible car accident.  The driver of the car that hit her was too distracted with what was happening in the back seat to bother watching the road.  He walked away with a few scratches.  Doesn’t seem fair does it?  When I heard the news it was from a good friend of mine, he was taking it pretty hard, his exact words were “I wish I had been more understanding” when he reflected on his relationship with her.  Wow.  It takes a big person to say that.  So many times when we reflect upon the lives of others and our relationships with them we want to focus only on the positive memories.  We don’t want to think about the times we may have been rude or cruel.  The times when we rolled our eyes or pretended to listen.  In the end, we want to see our relationships with people in the very best light.
But we shouldn’t, because no one has a perfect relationship. We’re not perfect but we can always be better.  We should find differences to be vehicles of understanding not hatred.  Just because you don’t agree, doesn’t make it right to hate.  If you want someone to see something your way, be the best example of your beliefs.  Building a wall so they cannot come in does not inspire change. Compassion, respect, understanding, and love….that’s what inspires change.
And that is how I will honor my fallen colleague; I will wake up every morning remembering her words. And I will try every day to focus on the similarities and find value in differences.  Life is short; her death proved that to me, but it only takes one sentence, one action to make a difference.  And that is exactly what happened that day that by chance I was blessed to work with her.
In loving memory of Lisa Stone.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

We're only human...it's expected.....right?

I've begun to wonder what defines an individual. Is it a job position? Money? Status?  I'd like to think that it is none of these things but unfortunately we've fallen into this way of thinking that makes all three off the previously listed things a definition of who we are.  How sad is it that we think, well he isn't the CEO so he must not be a leader.  Now granted, many people who find success in their careers are indeed strong leaders but it wasn't their job description that made them that way.  It was passion, drive, commitment, and service.

I love to note all of the different ways we categorize leaders as well.  She's a servant leader or he's a transformational leader.  Last I checked, all that matters is that you have learned to lead.  There has been a challenge and you've stood up to it. There was a need so you answered it.  You don't need to be in the news or to have fame and fortune follow, all you need is to do what's right.

We live in a world where it's so easy to get caught up in gossip.  Right now, somewhere, someone is talking about you.  Brutal? Yes. True? Absolutely.  But right now, somewhere, someone is starving or dealing with being diagnosed with a terminal illness.  If that doesn't put things in perspective then maybe you should reevaluate your priorities. 

It's so easy to say all of the right things. Know your audience and be sure to please them. But life isn't a stage.  There is no Emmy for stirring the pot to keep it interesting. Words, just like actions, can hurt.  But we're only human, saying and doing the wrong things are expected, right?

Here's a thought, don't befriend someone to gain status. Befriend them because you actually care. Question things when they don't add up.  Stand strong in your beliefs but listen to others who may have differing views. Be compassionate to others. Refuse to settle. You don't need money, status, or a title to do these things.  And at the end of the day, in my book, you've found what it means to be a leader.