Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Nutella Cupcakes with Blackberry Buttercream

My friend Kase and I were brainstorming for weeks about what treat we would make when we next joined forces. We settled on a nutella cupcake, and after much deliberation (nutella, vanilla, lemon, peanut butter were all discussed), settled on blackberry buttercream frosting.



Pretty, huh? We used lemon zest on top in lieu of sprinkles, which also helped cut the sugar taste. Which brings me to my next point: these babies looked darling, but tasted... interesting.

I swear we used recipes, but something was just askew. The cupcakes tasted fine, but were a little dry, and honestly could have used more nutella. The main issue, though, was the "buttercream" made with blackberries.



With a start like this, how could it go wrong?? Excellent question. After following the recipe, it was more like jam. Maybe cake filling. But not frosting. So we added (a lot) more powdered sugar to stiffen it up, and then it tasted like... jam with a bunch of powdered sugar mixed in.

We ate a couple to be good sports, but then gave up and bought multiple bags of Hershey's kisses. Can't go wrong there.

If you're looking for a better dessert made with berries and nutella, I just realized this combo is also used in this recipe, and with yummy results.
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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Providence

My sister just moved to Providence, so this weekend I went down for a day trip to visit and explore the city. Until then, my experience with Providence had been 1) the Amtrak station, 2) the mall, Providence Place, and 3) the Rhode Island Convention Center. Not exactly historical gems.

So on Sunday, I saw some awesome architecture and scaled a few mountains (hills) to take photos. Here are some results:

I hope a little princess dressed all in purple lives in this house.


Not sure when "soon" is, but I'd love to come back for a show.

As Sophie put it, "I love houses that look like cakes." That sums this one up.

Roger Williams National Memorial. When it snows I bet it looks just like Narnia.

Another cake-like house, lined with matching yellow fence.

The capitol had construction messing up the front view, but this shot was even better.

Now I want to find a Historic Homes of Rhode Island book, or something along those lines.
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Monday, September 20, 2010

Catalog Collage

Since we moved apartments, we've accumulated a ton of home furnishing catalogs. While I like flipping through them, I'm unlikely to actually purchase anything. So I put them to good use and got the next best thing: a photo collage. I recruited Maryah, my Little Sister, to help me, since she also loves craft projects. Here are our end results:

First, the refuse:



My finished collage:


The center text is from the cover of a Restoration Hardware catalog, and it lent itself well to the project.

Maryah's collage:


She's an aspiring little interior designer, hence the house plan.

I bought the 8"x10" photo frames at Marshall's for about $7 each. Add catalogs/magazines lying around the house, scissors, and a glue stick, and you've got yourself a very cheap decoration.
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Friday, September 17, 2010

Snow White [accessories]

I love the clean simple lines of white clothing. It can be preppy, sporty, glamorous, or anything in between. However, since A) my porcelain-colored skin is a wee bit light to be wearing white frocks around and B) it's after Labor Day anyway, here are a few ways to rock white accessories this fall and winter.




 

1. Geneva Platinum CZ Accented Silicon Link Watch, $18.99
I just bought this very inexpensive watch. Sporty meets rhinestone glam, with an easy-to-clean rubber wrist band.


2. iFrogz Wrapz Case for iPhone, $14.99
Okay, you don't exactly wear this on your person, but it's fun, and the silicone material adds extra shock absorption. (I just bought this as well - maybe you can see why this post came about.)


3. Dolce & Gabbana Sunglasses, $135
White sunglasses always feel very Jackie O to me, and these D&G ones are frill-free and simple.


4. Vintage Five Strand White Bead Necklace, $25
From Etsy seller Rebelyun, this accent piece would look great with a dress and tights for fall.
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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Cucumber Gimlet

This cocktail is pretty summery, but as it's made with all my favorite ingredients, I'm fine with drinking it all year round. A traditional gimlet is just half gin, half lime juice, but there are lot of variations to suit individual tastes.




My concoction adds cucumber for a refreshing twist. Here's how it goes:

2 oz gin (Hendrick's is best for this as it's cucumber-infused)
2 oz lime juice (use Rose's Lime Juice for a slightly sweeter version)
4 slices of cucumber (1/4 inch thick)
1 cup ice
pinch of super fine sugar (optional)

1. Chop up three of the cucumber slices. In a martini shaker, combine chopped cucumber with gin, lime juice, ice and sugar (optional) if you like a slightly sweeter cocktail.

2. Shake - a lot. This is how you get the cucumber flavor in.

3. Strain into a glass and top with the remaining slice of cucumber.

4. Ahhhh.
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Monday, September 13, 2010

Buffalo Chicken Dip

Disclaimer: this may in fact be the most unhealthy snack ever. But soo delicious, especially for a lazy Sunday while watching football.

I had never had this dip before, but after seeing a recipe last month online, I decided it would be perfect for the first Pats game of the season.


Yes, those are pools of grease.


As it turned out, I didn't actually contribute to the production of this delicious dip/heart attack; my boyfriend made it, based on a recipe like the one below from www.buffalochickendip.com (the Mecca for chicken dip recipes, apparently).

Instead of canned chicken, which we were both morally opposed to, he panfried three large chicken breasts rubbed with Jamaican jerk seasoning and then cut them into small pieces. And, inexplicably, his recipe included straight butter.


Served with Ritz crackers, pita chips, celery, and Boston Lager.


Ingredients:
1 pkg. (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese or shredded mozzarella cheese (about 2 ounces)
1/2 cup blue cheese salad dressing or ranch salad dressing
2 cans (12.5 ounces each) Swanson® Premium Chunk Chicken Breast in Water, drained
1/2 cup any flavor FRANK'S® RedHot® sauce
Assorted fresh vegetables or crackers

Directions:
Heat the oven to 350° F.
Stir the cream cheese in a 9-inch deep dish pie plate with a fork or whisk until it's smooth.
Stir in the dressing, pepper sauce and blue cheese. Stir in the chicken.
Bake for 20 minutes or until the chicken mixture is hot and bubbling.
Stir before serving.
Serve with the vegetables and crackers for dipping.
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Friday, September 10, 2010

Skies over Fenway

This definitely isn't food or fashion, so I guess it qualifies as the "everything in between." I was at a Red Sox game the other night and the clouds/sunset/ballpark looked so great together I had to take some photos. I didn't let the fact that I had no camera with me get in the way, so these are all snaps from my iPhone.

America's most beloved ballpark:




Pedroia, it looks like:




Sponsored by Coke:




And BofA:





Don't those clouds look awesome?
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Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Pasta, Mushrooms & Sautéed Greens

One of the great frustrations in my life is buying salad greens that immediately start to wilt in my refrigerator. I'm sure those cooking for 4+ people go through vegetables quickly enough, but I'm just one small person and my spinach/mixed greens always start to get slimy before I have time to eat them. So yesterday, after eating a lunch of brand new but borderline questionable salad greens, I decided to fight back and wilt the damn things myself, via a sauté pan. Since spinach and other greens cook down so dramatically, this is a great way to use up that box of leaves saying its long goodbye in your fridge.



Image © keyingredient.com


I made this up as I went along and didn't take any photos, so the picture above is the closest representation I could find online.

8 oz pasta
3 Tbs evoo
8 oz salad greens (I used a spring mix consisting mainly of spinach and arugala)
5 oz mushrooms of your choice (I used baby portabella)
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes (optional)
salt, pepper

1. Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil for your favorite pasta. I used medium shells, although I think bowties would be great for this recipe too. For a little added flavor (read: sodium) I like to cook my pasta in chicken bullion when I'm not using a sauce.

2. While you're waiting for your water to boil, slice mushrooms and dice fresh garlic.

3. Dump your pasta into the water and boil uncovered for the appropriate time (8-10 minutes). Drain and set aside.

4. While your pasta is cooking, heat a couple tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet. Sauté sliced mushrooms in olive oil until tender and darkened, about 5 minutes. Add fresh garlic and continue sauteeing for a couple minutes until garlic is soft. If you want to use sun dried tomatoes, add them into the mix now.

5. Add greens and move them around on the skillet until they cook down.  You may want to add a drizzle more olive oil if they soak it all up. Add a pinch of salt and pepper as the greens and mushroom mixture cooks.

6. As soon as your greens are wilted to your satisfaction, remove from heat and mix in with your cooked pasta. Top each serving with freshly grated parmesan and salt and pepper, if desired.

This tastes even better reheated the next day after the pasta has really picked up all the flavors.
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Monday, September 6, 2010

No Sew Fleece Blankets

Fall is almost here and I wanted a fleece throw to cozy up with. So I made a super girly one for me and a super manly one for my boyfriend. These are easy, inexpensive, and all-purpose.  I used 2 yards (x2 for the backing) of fleece for each blanket, although a yard and a half probably would have been fine for a throw.  All you need is fabric and a pair of scissors! Here's how:

1. Lay two  pieces of fleece on top of each other, the bottom one face down and top one face up. Trim edges to desired size. Tip: place pattern side on the top to give you a better guide when cutting.





2. Cut out 4" squares out of each corner of fleece.




3. Cut 4" fringe about an inch apart all around sides. These will all be tied together, so don't worry if your cutting isn't perfectly straight.




4. When all the fringe is cut, tie the front and back fabric together at each strip with a double knot.





5. Tie all the way around, and you're done! Warning: the fringe steps take longer than you might expect. I probably spent an hour on each blanket.


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Friday, September 3, 2010

Plaid Crazy

If there's anything I like more than stripes, it's a bunch of stripes overlapping each other, a.k.a. plaid. I have been lusting over these salad servers by French Bull since April, and this week they launched more fabulous plaid items, inspiring this post.

Depending on the color scheme, plaid can transition through every season, making it an even smarter purchase!



French Bull Side Plates, new
Can't decide if I like these side plates, the dinner plates, or the platter the best. French Bull always has the best color pairings; hopefully they'll keep more plaid products coming.



Pillow Cover Set by Etsy seller EmmaDear
Love this classic but bright plaid. Plus they're affordable and handmade!



ModCloth Bolero
Generally I go for brights, but this simple black/white pattern is pretty much always in style.



Sur la Table Apron
I don't usually love pastels, but this plaid seems so kitchen-y to me.



Chooka Rain Boot
These gem tones look great together in waterproof plaid!



Pottery Barn Teen Sheet Set
As a fan of all things plaid, polka dot, and striped, I often find myself referring to the Teen version of Pottery Barn. These sheets didn't disappoint.
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Wednesday, September 1, 2010

January Jones + Versace = Love

A quick post today since I'm in the midst of moving/unpacking. Just wanted to spread the love for January Jones' Versace dress from the Emmy's this past weekend. Although I've seen a lot of hating on it (and apparently Access Hollywood dissing her was being piped in live to the theater where she could see it pre-show), I'm in love. And besides, who do you trust, Access Hollywood or Versace?





Although the fashion police approved of th dazzling blue, they hated everything else I love about this ensemble: the asymmetrical hemline, the material, the train, even her shoe pairing and hairstyle. Yes, the cups are a bit Madonna-esque, but she rocks it.

Keep 'em coming, Jan.
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