Sunday, February 28, 2010

I am Embarrassed to Admit it...

but this is our front door. Yes, the paint is chipping, it's not exactly white, and the early 90's are begging for that terrible brass handle back. But in my defense, I never noticed how bad it actually was...

I had off from work on Friday, and decided to do a bit of painting. Most of our trim is kind of dingy, no matter how much scrubbing I do. So I figured that a fresh coat of bright white semi-gloss paint is just what the doctor ordered. And I went to town on the trim around the door and the front of the living room. And what a difference that little project made! It's boring and tedious, but well worth the results.

Unfortunately, the fact that the door is in terrible need of some TLC stands out even more now... but I'll get to that soon.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

New Recipe Review- Oh, Martha!

For my new recipe last week, I decided to try Martha Stewart's Peanut Butter Cupcakes from the cupcake cookbook my sister got me for Christmas. I had leftover chocolate frosting from the cake I made for my mother-in-law's birthday and needed something to do with it. H suggested peanut butter and I was totally on board.

Well, let me say the batter was fantastic! I was so excited, it was perfectly peanut buttery, just sweet enough, and oh-so-fluffy. It took all I had not to shove heaping spoonfuls of it into my mouth before baking them.

Well... it turns out I should have just ate it all without baking them. I had raised my eyebrow when the recipe told me to preheat the oven to 375 and bake them for 22 minutes, when I usually bake cupcakes at 350 for 16-18 minutes. But Martha Stewart knows what she's doing, right?? Wrong, apparently. At around 18 minutes, the sweet smell of delicious baking goodies was replaced with a slight burning smell. I ran to the oven, opened the door, and lo and behold, it was my cupcakes. They all had completely burned- hard as a rock bottoms and all the top edges were burnt to a crisp as well. Poop on a stick :(

I broke the burnt part off the edges and iced them anyway. We were able to eat the top parts off of the hockey puck bottoms, but they still had that slightly burnt taste throughout. Big fat fail. I'll have to try these again and use my normal bake time; they definitely had potential!

Online recipe here. Strangely enough, the online version of the recipe gives you a shorter bake time at a lower temperature, and says it makes 18 (and therefore bigger) cupcakes and not 22 like the book said! Where is the quality control, Martha??

Here is a picture of my sad, burnt cupcakes. The iced versions were too messy to even take a picture of.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Bargain Shopping

A few days ago, I got a coupon in the mail for $10 off a purchase at JCPenney's. I heard they were having some pretty good sales as well, so after work on Friday I decided to stop by. Well, it was totally worth it!

I headed up to the furniture and home decor section, where there were indeed a few good sales going on. I found this lantern for $15, on sale from $50! It's large and sturdy, and looks perfect on our entryway table. With the coupon, it would only be $5, whoo score! But unfortunately, I failed to read the fine print and it wasn't valid on furniture, which apparently a lantern is. Oh well, it was still too good of a deal to pass up.

So I headed downstairs in search of something I actually could use the coupon on. The jewelry caught my eye, and I found this cocktail ring on sale for $12.50, down from $20. And with my coupon, a grand total of $2.50- nice! So all in all, I got a gorgeous cocktail ring and an oh-so-perfect lantern for less than $20 total. It was a good day :)

New Recipe Review- Vegetable Noodle Stir Fry

For my new recipe the week before last- I promise I will get better at blogging these- I chose Rachael Ray's Vegetable Noodle Stir Fry. I have been dying to try the new wok we received as a wedding gift and this sounded perfect for it. It turned out really good. I added chicken to it, to make it a little more substantial. The only changes I would make next time are to substitute mushrooms for the carrots (the carrots tasted kind of out of place) and slice the bok choy a little thinner. The veggies also needed a bit more time to cook than the recipe called for, but no biggie. All in all, very tasty!

Original recipe can be found here.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Aqua and Red

Whoo, back to decorating! As much as I love food, it's refreshing to post about something decor-related. So, I decided I would take the time to share my love of the color combination of aqua and red paired with a clean, crisp white. It's my inspiration for our computer room when I finally get back around to it.

Here are a few inspiration pictures I found from the blog House of Turquoise:

This one is my favorite! Love how the combo works in this one.

Yes, I realize this is a bathroom, but the colors are still great.

Friday, February 12, 2010

New Recipe Review- Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken

For my new recipe last week (again, a little late), I made buffalo chicken in the slow cooker. I had this recipe filed away for a long time, and Super Bowl Sunday seemed like a great day to try it out. It was a huge hit with H, who loves buffalo chicken but hates all the work (seriously) involved in wings. He says it's too much work for too little meat. Anyway....

It is absolutely one of the easiest recipes ever and it turned out really well. Here is the original recipe. I made a few changes- I took the meat out at about 5 hours and shredded it, then put it back in with the butter to better absorb the juices. I also only used a half packet of ranch dressing mix (cause that's all we had- no idea why) and didn't put any extra sauce on the sandwiches after they were done (didn't think they needed it). We used kaiser rolls and I had mine with ranch dressing and provolone, while H had his with crumbled bleu cheese. We also had purple cabbage slaw (which went REALLY well with them- soothed the spiciness), and loaded potato skins for our football feast. Awesome!

Please excuse the terrible photo- I was in a hurry to eat!

Peanut Butter Pancakes

I didn't mean for this to turn into a cooking blog, I really didn't. I started it as a blog mostly for decorating and little home improvements, but unfortunately that is an expensive and time-consuming habit. I really can't do DIY projects or buy new things or redecorate rooms often enough to have a regularly updated blog about it. But cooking, now that's something I need to do (almost) every day. So why not make it fun and interesting?

On that note... here comes a snowy morning breakfast recipe review: peanut butter pancakes. I was immediately intrigued when I saw this recipe. I've had all sorts of pancakes, but never peanut butter. And H and I love peanut butter!

I served them with banana slices dipped in brown sugar/melted butter and sautéed (is that the right word?) on a non stick pan until they were soft and browned on the outside. Then maple syrup and a small scoop of vanilla ice cream. They were truly awesome. Here is the recipe.

A word of caution though- they definitely stick to the pan more than regular pancakes. The first batch broke apart while flipping, even on my non-stick griddle that I've never had any issues with before. The next batch I buttered the griddle and they worked better. Still delicious though!

Friday, February 5, 2010

New Recipe Review- Steak Tips with Peppered Mushroom Sauce

For my new recipe last week (yikes, I'm bad at this!) I tried "Steak Tips with Peppered Mushroom Sauce" from the blog Elizabeth's Edible Experience. The recipe was originally from Cooking Light magazine (so pretty healthy too) and it turned out really well. I used chicken instead of beef, since we don't eat a lot of red meat and that worked too. I'm sure it would have been heartier with the steak, but the portabello mushrooms really beefed it up (ha!).

Recipe here. Mine turned out a little runnier than the recipe because I will forever suck at thickening sauces with flour/cornstarch, but it was still good. We were actually able to use the leftover sauce as a gravy for a side of brown rice a couple nights later.