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26 December 2015

Poor Man's Stew




I hope you all are having a wonderful holiday break. The hubby and I have been thoroughly enjoying our Christmas stay-cation. Do not get me wrong, it's always wonderful to be around family this time of year. But sometimes there is something so gratifying about staying put and having a cozy Christmas with your hubby and fur baby. I've realized having a Christmas stay-cation has other perks: 
  1. Instead of hemorrhaging money you end up saving money, or at least spending all the money on things for you! :) 
  2. Instead of stressing over what presents to put under the tree and what to stuff the stockings with ... you get to sleep in and binge watch Netflix and Hulu (fyi: Hulu now has a commercial free option #winning) 
  3. And best of all ... all those Christmas goodies that you make to share, you now get to eat all of it
I would love to say that I get to be lazy and do that ever glorious NOTHING this entire break, but sadly, I have postdoctoral applications to submit. I'll explain since this is a complicated field. After completing 5 years at my doctoral program, I had to apply and match to an internship. After I finish this internship in June, I am officially a "doctor." Although I would like to become a professor, to increase my "marketability," I want to get my license. Which means, postdoctoral supervised hours. Yes ... that basically means more school ... or shall I say "training." Translation: more applications. I would love to stay where I am. I am super happy here. Happier than I've ever been at any other place. But if I cannot stay here, I have decided to only apply in California. It may just be time to go home #homesweethome. I'll find out in Febuary/March.

To welcome winter and accept this cooler weather, I wanted to share this delicious and easy to make crockpot stew recipe. A stew to dump into the Crockpot while your at work and to enjoy while wearing fuzzy toe socks, cuddled up on the couch under a soft throw all while binging on TV. This stew does thicken if refrigerated overnight (and with just the hubby and I, this recipe fed us for days). I like thick stews, so I was fine with it. For the hubby, I thinned it out with some broth. So feel free to do what works best for you :) 





POOR MAN'S STEW
Adapted slightly from The Magical Slow Cooker 

INGREDIENTS

1 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. minced garlic
1 onion diced (1 c. frozen diced onion)
1 lb ground meat (I use ground turkey)
6 oz. can of tomato paste
2.5 c. vegetable broth or chicken broth
salt and pepper to taste
1.5 - 2 lbs diced red potatoes 
2 c. baby carrots (cut in half)

DIRECTIONS

In a large wok or skillet heat oil over medium heat. Saute garlic and onion until fragrant and onions are translucent. Add in ground meat and cook till browned. While ground meat is cooking, in a medium bowl whisk together tomato paste, broth, salt and pepper. Combine ground meat, potatoes, carrots and sauce in Crockpot. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. 

Note: If you would like a more "soupy" texture, add in more broth. 

Enjoy,


20 December 2015

White Chocolate Chip Cranberry Pudding Cookies



The hubby and I have been dreading winter since we drove our little Penske truck up here. And now ... winter is here. Thankfully, I have to say that this winter has been pretty darn kind to us. Both the hubby and I have been told several times that the winter season has been unusually warm this year. Apparently by this time of year, there has already been a little snow and the temperature is close, if not already, freezing. Last week, we were in the 60s :) -- insert happy dance -- Though, the hubby and I are prepared. We went winter coat shopping, and the cutest corniest part ... we got matching jackets. Ok ... pause ... by no means did I mean to get matching jackets. Each of us wanted the warmest jacket we could find. And it happened to be the same jacket, from the same brand but tailored to each gender. Twinning!


I have really loved moving to Rhode Island, more than I even thought I could. I love the city vibe without the big city feel. I love our little home. I love where I work and the people I work with. I definitely am enjoying living in Rhode Island more than Texas. BUT, although it is not freezing, it is cold here. And it is these cold times, when I really miss Texas. Don't get me wrong, Texas holds a very special place in my heart since that is where I met, fell in love with and got engaged to the hubby. It's also where I got Ninja face! So, when my Texas friends tell me about the wonderful weather they are still experiencing, that oh so lovely 70 degrees in December ... I start thinking more about sweet ol' Tejas. And so for some Texas throw back, I share with you some photos the hubby and I took of our last few days at Texas A&M. Whoop! 


In keeping with Christmas ... and the sweet train ... because you know me and my sweet tooth. I wanted to share this cookie recipe I made for the hubby. I was scrolling through Pinterest, which now has "recommended for you" on the main feed, and I saw these cookies. I immediately thought of the hubby for a two reasons. 1. It is a recipe that doesn't have "chocolate" -- I am not a person who thinks white chocolate is "chocolate." The hubby always tells me, I keep making desserts with chocolate and should try something different. 2. The recipe included cranberries, which the hubby loves. I decided to go out of my "box" because I knew the hubby was going to love it. And he sure did. Surprisingly, I did too. This cookie was originally not a pudding cookie, but we also know my deep love for pudding cookies






WHITE CHOCOLATE CHIP CRANBERRY PUDDING COOKIES 
 Inspired by The Domestic Rebel

INGREDIENTS

Preheat over to 350F Degrees
Makes about 4 dozen cookies

2 1/2 c. all purpose flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 (3.4-3.56 oz) box of vanilla pudding
1 1/2 stick of butter, softened
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1 c. brown sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tbsp. honey
3/4 c. white chocolate chips (+ 1/4 c. for sprinkling on top)
3/4 c. dried cranberries (+ 1/4 c. for sprinkling on top)

DIRECTIONS

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and vanilla pudding- set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with paddle attachment, cream together (on medium speed) butter and both sugars until fluffy (about 5 minutes). Then add eggs, one at time, vanilla and honey. Scrape down sides. Then reduce to low speed and add flour mixture (dry ingredients). Combine until just incorporated. Finally add white chocolate chips and dried cranberries.

Line baking sheet with baking mat, aluminum foil, parchment or wax paper. Scoop out 1 inch, large cookie dough balls onto sheet (roll between the palm of your hands for a nice round shape). Press a few extra chips and cranberries on to top of cookie dough balls. Pressing down slightly to flatten. Space the cookies 2 inches apart and bake for 8-10 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes before transferring to cooling rack. Store in air tight container.

Enjoy,


19 December 2015

12 Days of Christmas Desserts




::queue music:: "Christmas time is here". I meant to post this close to a week ago, but in true style, I am late. ::insert guilty face: #wherearetheemojis :) After all the moving and traveling this summer and the busy first 6 months of internship ... The hubby and I wanted to stay put, and spend the holidays just the the three of us (can't forget Ninja!).

We have a little less than one week before Christmas. And I know many of us are searching high and low on Pinterest (because really where else would we look) for holiday inspired recipes. Hopefully I did not miss too many holiday parties ... but for sure, I did not miss the big day. Here are some Christmas-Holiday inspired desserts that you may want to make for you and your family to enjoy! Trust me, these are definitely worth making.


1. Chocolate-Gingerbread Twix Brownies


2. Cinnamon Pecan Pudding Cookies

 
3. Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Bites  


4. Gingerbread M&M Pudding Cookies


5. Hot Chocolate 3 Muskateer Fudge Brownies


6. Mint M&M Cake Mix Bars


7. Mint Oreo Brookies

 
8. Mint Truffle Crinkle Blossoms


9. Mint Oreo Crunch Cookies


10. Peppermint Cake Balls

  
11. Red Velvet Peppermint Thumbprint Cookies

 
12. Snickers Brownie Bombs


13. (I just made these ... lets consider this a baker's dozen ;): White Chocolate Chip Cranberry Pudding Cookies  

  
Happy Holidays Y'all,

10 October 2015

Pecan Sandie Brownies




The motto when entering our new state was "Discover Beautiful Rhode Island." And that was exactly what I intended to do. Being a new north-easterner, I was warned that the beautiful warm summer weather would be short lived, and that I should probably start exploring right way. The first place we wanted to find was a dog park for Ninja. After all, our dog park in Texas was amazing, lots of space to run around and wonderful friends, human and furry. We really miss them and I know Ninja does too! But, when I took Ninja to the nearest dog park ... saying it was a hole ... sadly, is an understatement. So, I decided to make Ninja the center of this new journey, creating an album called "Ninja Discovers Rhode Island...and a little bit of Massachusetts" [so I am not the most creative person]. We started with the coolest doormat that we could find:


During this hunt for new, fun places to enjoy with Ninja, I stumbled on my favorite place in all of Rhode Island. Chase Farm. It's a beautiful little piece of serenity and my go to when I had a stressful day or week. It isn't technically supposed to be an off-leash dog park, but about 99% of the people there have dogs that run around off leash. So we decided to join the party.



Another fun first here in Rhode Island, was Ninja's fist time at the beach! Being born and raised in Texas, Ninja has gotten to nurture his cowboy, outdoor side -- but not so much his beach bum side. Ninja wasn't into swimming and splashing around in the water for fun, but he was great at attempting to "rescue" people. There was this one nice woman in particular who was trying to back swim, only for Ninja to think she was drowning. Least to say, he bothered her, A LOT.


A few months ago, I had a department picnic to go to. My last department get together before heading to Rhode Island. I signed up to bring a dessert but that day, I got behind with moving stuff. I needed something quick and EASY. I couldn't have my last dish there be something store bought! They say that a great cook or baker is able to look into their cupboards and improvise. That's what I did. I saw some pecan sandies and a box of brownie mix. And there you have it -- pecan sandie brownies! What I didn't expect was how big of a hit it was at the picnic! Gone in just a few minutes and everyone was wondering what was in them ... if I told them I would have had to kill them ;) Just kidding! I told them, they would have to stay tuned to my blog :)







PECAN SANDIE BROWNIES
A For the Love of Dessert Original Recipe 
INGREDIENTS

Preheat Oven to 325F Degrees

Pillsbury Family Size Fudge Brownie Mix (plus ingredients listed below)
2/3 c. vegetable oil
1/4 c. water
2 eggs, room temperature
1 package Keebler Sandies, pecan shortbread

DIRECTIONS

Mix brownies according to package directions. Grease a 8x8 baking dish. Pour slightly less than half of the batter into the baking dish. Then line sandies on top of the batter, pressing down very slightly. For me, the last row only fit cookies cut in half. I used about 18 cookies. Then cover the sandies with the remaining batter. Bake for approximately 30 minutes or until inserted toothpick comes out clean. Allow brownies to cool before cutting, with each square containing 1 cookie.

Note: When I made these brownies, my sandies were more to the top then I intended. So I adjusted how much batter you pour before and on top of the sandies in the recipe above, so that the sandie layer would be more towards the middle.

Enjoy,

04 October 2015

Crockpot Buffalo Mac n' Cheese




It's been 5 months since my last post and a lot has changed. Remember the big move? Well, I am officially a Rhode Islander! So let me rewind a bit and tell you how I did it. I wanted to find the cheapest but also easiest way to move across country. I rented a 16ft Penske truck for a 2 bedroom, 2 bath apartment though I could have probably rented a 12 ft truck and been fine. Plus it would have been easier to drive and most insurance companies will cover you in the 12ft (single axle) truck but not the 16ft. So you end up paying more to buy Penske's insurance. Word of the wise, rent the trucks early because you can get a really good deal AND always look for a coupon code. I did get rid of a lot of stuff, but I would have changed this. Moving is EXPENSIVE and all those little things that make up a household add up quickly. So, I would have waited to throw out big things, until we were settled. We hired movers to load our truck because it was just me and the hubby and I did not want to burden our friends plus they know how to pack a truck. Sadly the moving company I hired, flaked on me last minute so I hired this "student moving" company and they sucked and some of our furniture got scratched :(

I had 3 drivers (my sister, hubby and me). Yup, my wonderful big sister flew in to help me make the drive up. I had 2 cars and 1 truck. You are probably thinking, perfect -- 3 drivers. And that is what I originally wanted to do (to save the most money) but my very practical dad explained we would be very tired and having an extra driver to rotate in would be better. We ended up shipping one car (and its costly but was definitely worth it because 3, 10-12 hour days of driving was tough). So we had one car with Ninja in it and the truck. We rotated every 4 hours-ish. FYI for those with pets, Bring Fido is an excellent site for finding nice, pet friendly hotels. We also hired movers to unload the truck but it was a mess because it started POURING rain :/ I got everything we needed (in terms of furniture and decor) from either antique stores (love antique stores) and Amazon (love me some Amazon Prime).

Alright, so food ... since I was gone so long, I needed to come back with something pretty nifty. Well there are a few things I really like, two of them being mac n' cheese and Crockpot recipes. A recipe that includes both?!? Awesome sauce. And while we are on the topic of sauce ... this recipe is not just an easy, Crockpot mac n' cheese but a BUFFALO mac n' cheese! Say whaaaaa? You are right. Dump some yumminess in a Crockpot and voila you got yourself the coolest dish to bring to a party or to, you know, shamelessly eat by yourself. #sorrynotsorry






CROCKPOT BUFFALO MAC N' CHEESE
Slightly adapted from The Frugal Girls 

INGREDIENTS 

1 lb. elbow pasta, cooked and drained
2 (10.75 oz) cans of Campbell's Condensed Cheddar Soup
2 (10.75 oz) cans of Campbell's Condensed Fiesta Nacho Cheese Soup
2 c. of Cheddar Cheese 
1/2 - 3/4 c. Buffalo Wing Sauce*
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper 

*Add more sauce for a spicier "kick"

DIRECTIONS

In a large pot of salted boiling water -- cook pasta according to package directions. Drain excess water and run cold water through pasta to prevent sticking. Return pasta to pot.

While pasta is cooking, spray Crockpot with cooking spray. Then combine pasta, condensed soups, shredded cheese, buffalo wing sauce, salt and pepper. Cook on high for 1.5 hours. Once cooked, stir well and then serve.

Enjoy,