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31 January 2016

Chili Cheese Dog Bubble-Up Bake



I usually try to keep a pretty up beat tone to this blog, but sometimes you just gotta keep it real. This may be 30 talking or the emotional turmoil brought on my postdoctoral uncertainty ... but life. I have been reflecting on where I thought I'd be at 30 and where I am. Personally, I feel blessed. But I feel my professional life, is causing some inner struggles. I have been in school for the past 25 years and I just want some stability at this point. I understand that education is this extreme delayed gratification concept but at some point -- I want to see the light at the end of the tunnel and I think after 25 years that point has come. 

I mean, seriously, I have worked my butt off and really in this never ending interview gauntlet the only feeling that I keep experiencing is one that is telling me -- you just aren't good enough. That is followed by this sinking feeling that I don't know where I will be July 1. Come on! I am 30 years old and don't know where I will be in 5 months. Then I think, I could end up somewhere. But do I just really want to end up "just somewhere?" What was the point of working so hard! I want to end up at a place that I can round off my training and set me up to become the independent researcher I want to be, in the area I want to be. 

The worst part. I usually like to drown myself in baking, cooking, and blogging. But I just don't have the time for it like I used to. But do not worry, I've been squeezing out a little time to make a few dishes here and there. EASY dishes. And this one has got to be one of the easiest dishes. I remember seeing this and thinking, what in the world is a "bubble up." Well, I guess you will have to make it and see. This is a fun recipe to make and I have no doubt, will be a kid pleaser.






CHILI CHEESE DOG BUBBLE-UP BAKE
Adapted from Pillsbury

INGREDIENTS

Preheat oven to 350F Degrees

28 oz. chili with beans (I recommend the can turkey or chicken chili from Trader Joe's)
14 oz. sausage, cut into medallions
2 c. of shredded cheese (I used the Mexican blend)
1 can of Pillsbury Grands refridgerated biscuits
2 tbsp. of butter, melted
1 tbsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. oregano

DIRECTIONS

Grease a 13 x 9 baking dish and set aside. In a medium bowl, combine chili with sausage. Pour into baking dish and evenly distribute. Top with shredded cheese.

Separate biscuits and cut into quarters. Then place biscuit pieces into a medium bowl and toss with butter, garlic powder and oregano until evenly covered. Scatter biscuit pieces over the the cheese. Bake approximately 30 minutes or until biscuits are light golden brown and cooked throughout. Let cool slightly before serving. 

Enjoy,

30 January 2016

Lemon Cake Balls



For 2016, I wanted to work on getting back into blogging. And getting back in just the way I started -- small, attainable goals. What was the small goal? I wanted to post 4 times per month (i.e., once per week). Now clearly, we can see I did not post once a week. BUT, I still have two days to redeem myself. And, if I can muster up some energy and post today and tomorrow .... goal attained. Seeeeeeee ... there is still hope for me! It's odd really. I love blogging but I just seem to be really busy, really tired or both most days and when I finally have a day off ... I want to catch up on the ZZZ's or binge watch television. 

On a sad note ... my twenties are gone ::insert shocked emoji followed by sad emoji followed by screaming crying emoji :: I am officially 30! Did it have to come so fast?!? I never thought I would be THAT person who freaked out about age, but apparently I am. UGH! 30 ... it just hit me like a wall ...a sad pathetic wall of 30. Maybe it would not be so bad, if you know, I wasn't in school or maybe if I had a real job! To soften the blow, my sister and cousin flew out and my close friends here in Rhode Island came out for a birthday dinner. It was a really nice weekend and I felt very loved ... and if I have to be 30, I guess I would want it to start that way. ::tear::

The other day the hubby told me that he had to bring something to work, for his PI's (aka: boss') birthday and I was happy to hear that his PI's favorite flavor is lemon :) This made the hubby happy too, because he's a lemon fan. I wanted a cute way to incorporate cake without making cake, since it is a birthday party and they will ::surprise:: have cake. Well ... what is an awesome bite size way of enjoying cake?!? That would be cake balls, my friends. Plus I love making cake balls. Let's take a trip to summer when the weather isn't freezing and enjoy these lemon cake balls.








LEMON CAKE BALLS
A For the Love of Dessert Original Recipe

INGREDIENTS

Preheat oven to 350F degrees

FOR CAKE
1 box of lemon cake mix (I used Betty Crocker)
3 eggs
1 c. of water
1/3 c. of vegetable oil

16 oz. container of cream cheese frosting
8 oz. of white chocolate bark
1-2 tsp. vegetable oil
Yellow sprinkles

Note: I did not use lemon cake and lemon frosting, because I thought they may either be too tarte or too "lemony" sweet. But feel free to do make it extra lemon!

DIRECTIONS

Making the Cake balls (pops):
Make cake according to package instructions. Let cake cool completely. Once cooled, cut the edges off the cake (as well as top and bottom layers of the cake--the crusty part). In a large bowl using a food processor or your hands, crumble the cake into fine bits (I use my hands). Add between 1/4 to slightly less than 1/2 of the cream cheese frosting. Mix well. If too dry add a tablespoon of frosting at a time. You do not want it too moist because the cake ball will be too sticky.  

Roll into 1 1/2 inch round balls. Place in refrigerator until chilled, at least 30 minutes.

Dipping the cake balls (pops):
In the meantime, melt white chocolate bark according to package directions. This is my secret, once the chocolate is melted I stir in the vegetable oil. This makes the chocolate have a smoother and shinier coating :)

Now, I am going to tell you how I get perfectly dipped cake balls but if you have your own method that works-- you are more than welcome to do it that way -- this is just whats worked best for me.  

Once chocolate has melted, take the cake balls and while holding the top half, dip the bottom half into the chocolate, then dip a cake pop stick into the chocolate (about 1/2 inch) and push into the center of the cake ball until about, no more, than half way through. Let cool. This will make it much easier to dip the rest of the cake ball. Otherwise I have found that the cake balls get stuck in the  chocolate or falls off the stick.

Once cooled, dip the top of the cake balls and a little part of the bottom, that was already coated into the chocolate. Shake off excess chocolate. Garnish with sprinkles (while chocolate is still wet). Allow to cool by sticking into flower foam. Once dried, holding the cake ball with one hand, gently twist the cake pop stick with your other hand and pull out. If you would like cake pops- leave on stick. 

Also see: No Bake Cake Batter Truffles for "My Little Cupcake" method. 

Enjoy,

03 January 2016

Victoria Secret Bachelorette Cake



My one bestie Stephanie got married June 27th, 2015. She was a stunning bride and it was a beautiful beach wedding!



The new fad that I noticed on Pinterest, is to have a bachelorette photoshoot. So for a present -- Paulina and I gave Stephanie a signature frame (you know those frames people can sign and in the center is the picture?) -- but I had each girl kiss the frame with their favorite lipstick and sign their name. We then had a clue that said "what will we fill this picture with." I searched on Groupon for deals on photoshoots. I found Tomi - Photo Crew. For $39 I got a 1 hour photoshoot. Not only was he punctual, but he took great photos and we got digital photos within 48 hours! I highly recommend him.







Paulina and I also hosted the traditional "party" in our hotel room where we decorated the room, had delicious food to enjoy, hung up her lingerie and had different games planned. As part of the food, I wanted to make Steph a bachelorette cake. And with the help of my sister-in-law, I made this Victoria Secret Cake -- after all what better inspiration for a bachelorette party than THE lingerie store, right?!? So here is my second ever fondant cake.






Enjoy,


02 January 2016

Avocado Cilantro Lime Rice




Happy New Year! As I near the end of my Netflix and Hulu binge -- I have been thinking about all the TV series I have watched. I thought it would be fun to share which shows and rank them in order from my most to least favorite. Don't judge me ... but this is sort of a personal accomplishment! I mean, who needs academic when you can claim the fame to being the best Netflix and Hulu binger :)

Going through the list, you are quickly going to notice that I like certain types of shows -- drama, crime shows. I know -- guilty pleasures -- my research advisor was quick to point out the corniness of these shows. But I still love them! So, if that is not your thing, this list is going to be pretty worthless to you. And sprinkled in are some pretty classy trashy TV shows. I am just saying #giveloveandhiphopachance! Here goes:

Monk
Person of Interest 
Chuck
Mysteries of Laura
Psych
Numb3rs
Perception
Lie to Me
Blacklist
The Mentalist 
Rosewood
Breakout Kings
Quantico
Medium
Crossing Jordan
Love and Hiphop Hollywood 
Girlfriends Guide to Divorce
Leverage 
White Collar
Law and Order SVU
Drop Dead Diva
The Finder
Missing
How to Get Away with Murder (not a fan) 
 Scandal (only seasons 1-3, because Olivia Pope gets on my last nerve) 

I am also an avid watcher of  the following Bravo shows (thank you Andy Cohen): Real Housewives (RH) of Orange Country, RH of Beverly Hills, RH of Atlanta, RH of New Jersey, Vanderpump Rules, Shahs of Sunset, and Top Chef. On TLC, I am addicted to Married at First Sight and 90 Day Fiance!

P.S. I am always looking for recommendations on new shows to watch.
 
The first rule to binge watching TV shows: always have yummy food on hand. That is why I was glad, when I found this recipe on Pinterest. Let's rewind. I love Chipotle, especially the cilantro lime rice. Doesn't everyone? This recipe takes it one delicious step further by adding in avocado. Do you guys ever splurge the extra $2.00 to get guacamole? I do! This recipe is guacamole meets cilantro lime rice. Happiness :) To the person who thought of this: Thank you, you brilliant soul.






AVOCADO CILANTRO LIME RICE
Slightly Adapted from Cooking Classy

INGREDIENTS

2 c. of uncooked brown rice 
2 medium ripe avocados 
3 tbsp. lime juice
1/4 c. chopped cilantro
1/4 tsp. cumin
2 tbsp. minced garlic 
Salt and pepper to taste 

DIRECTIONS

Cook the brown rice (I used a rice cooker). Mash avocados in a large mixing bowl. Mix in lime juice, cilantro,  cumin and garlic. Stir in warm, cooked rice. Season with salt and pepper. Store in airtight container for no more than 1-2 days.

Enjoy,