Friday, November 22, 2013

HEALTHIER Grilled Cheese

In the last two weeks, I have lost 10+ pounds by working out hard daily and eating right. No pills no shortcuts. I am doing this for me. The perk of the method I'm using? It's my own. I'm never hungry and I still get to eat amazing things like grilled cheese.


Today I'll show you how you can make a grilled cheese WITHOUT BUTTER!

You will need:

2 slices of bread
1 slice of cheese
non-stick spray
a waffle iron

Plug in your waffle iron and let it heat up. Spray both sides with just a mist of non-stick spray. Lay one piece of bread on the bottom followed by the cheese and the second slice of bread.

Close the waffle iron and keep an eye on your sandwich as it will cook quicker than a waffle. Let cook until it turns golden and crispy. Remove from iron and enjoy!


One of these sandwiches is only 230 calories! Not bad for a grilled cheese. Especially since adding 2 tbsp of butter brings it to 330 calories! I'll save those extra calories and go the waffle way :)

Friday, November 15, 2013

Homemade Pizza and Pizza Crust

Just for the record: if you have questions on a recipe, please either leave your e-mail address in the comment or make sure you aren't a no-reply blogger. If I can't e-mail you back, I can't answer your questions! Sorry to everyone who I haven't responded to!!

Now, I love pizza. The kind with the thick crust and delicious toppings, know what I'm talking about? The problem is we are trying not to spend as much money. We want to get the biggest bang for our buck while shopping. The good frozen pizzas are expensive and sub-par at best, cheap ones aren't worth talking about, and delivery or pick-up pizza is super spendy. My friends, we have a solution. These pizzas can come out to as little as $1.50 apiece and are better than any frozen pizza you can buy.

You will need:

  • 1 package active dry yeast 
  •  1 teaspoon white sugar 
  •  1 cup warm water 
  • 2 1/2 cups bread flour 
  •  2 tablespoons olive oil 
  •  1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 can or jar of pizza sauce
  • Mozzarella cheese to taste
  • Any other ingredients you can't resist
Preheat oven to 450*

For the crust:  Mix yeast, sugar, and water together and let sit for 10-15 minutes or until yeast is creamy as opposed to still in pebbles. While it's sitting, stir together flour and salt. When yeast water is ready, pour into flour and salt. Add oil and mix well with a fork. When it gets tough to mix with the fork, knead it with your hands until the ingredients are all mixed together.

On your hole-y pizza pan, spray some non-stick spray and sprinkle a little flour to keep the pizza from sticking. Press the dough into the pan gently spreading it to fit the pan making sure to not tear it. Spread on your sauce, all of your ingredients, and finally the cheese. I always do cheese last so the veggies don't get over-cooked. We have made sausage and pepperoni, pepperoni, and pepperoni and sweet onion and all three were ahhh-mazing


Bake at 450* for 15 minutes or until the crust is golden on the bottom. Let stand for 5 minutes after you remove it from the oven before cutting. This will prevent a lot of the messy-ness that can happen from cutting an overly hot pizza. Serve hot. YUM!

The pizza didn't last long enough to get a cooked shot, so you'll just have to make one and see for yourself. DEEEE-LICIOUS. 

Friday, November 8, 2013

Best Ever Pulled Pork {Party-Style}

We entertained 40 people for Kylie's first birthday party so coming up with a meal for that many was no easy task. We decided on pulled pork and it was amazing. It went over SO well and we were complimented left and right on it.  This is a modified recipe that we found on Allrecipes.com.

Now, when I share this recipe, know that we were cooking for 40. So if this is just for you and your sweet little family of four, you may want to split it up... a lot.

You will need:
5 (4-4.5 pound) bone-in pork shoulder roast (we assumed about 1/2 lb per person)
 5 cups root beer 
7.5 tablespoons light brown sugar
 6 teaspoons kosher salt
 1 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
 4 1/2 teaspoons ground paprika
 1 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
 1 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
 3/4 teaspoon garlic salt
 3/4 teaspoon celery salt
 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
 3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
 1 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
 6 cups root beer
 6 fluid ounces whiskey
 1 cup brown sugar
 1 tablespoon olive oil
 3 cup prepared barbecue sauce
40- dollar buns

**LEAVE THE FAT ON THE PORK while it's cooking. Trust me. 

Place the pork shoulder roast into a large plastic bag, pour 1 cup of root beer over each roast and squeeze out all the air from the bag. Seal the bag closed, and refrigerate overnight. 

When your "overnight" is somplete, mix together the light brown sugar, kosher salt, black pepper, paprika, dry mustard, onion powder, garlic salt, celery salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg in a bowl.


Take the pork out of the root beer and rub the spices on all sides. Wrap your rubbed pork in plastic wrap and refrigerate for  2 hours.

When your 2 hours pass, heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat, and sear the meat on all sides until the meat develops a brown crust, about 3 minutes per side. Place in your roaster pan.


Mix together the balsamic vinegar, 6 cups of root beer, whiskey, and brown sugar in a bowl, and stir until the sugar dissolves. Pour this mixture over the meat, set the slow cooker to High (or 350*), and cook for  4 to 6 hours or until the meat is cooked through and falls apart.


Remove the pork from the slow cooker, and shred with 2 forks. Discard the bones if there are any and the fat. Done and done! We served the BBQ sauce on the side since the meat was SO good without it. That way people can choose their topping. I wish I had a picture of the final product but it was so delicious I couldn't snap one in time. 


Thursday, November 7, 2013

Happy Birthday, Kylie!

I know I wished Kylie a happy birthday here once before, but I wanted to make sure to (finally) share the details of her party too!


We made all of the decorations from scratch including the banners, the wreath (not pictured here), the cupcake toppers... everything. We also made all of the food from scratch (apart from the chips) and everything turned out WONDERFUL! 


We ate a lot and laughed even more. Eventually we moved to gift opening which lasted all of 2 minutes till Kylie was bored. This means I got to open everything while Kylie provided the entertainment. Little stinker...


Fortunately, some of Kylie's little friends picked up where she left off and helped me open a few. Our families and friends were WAY too good to our little sweetheart. While she got a TON of great things, her "toy of choice" was a piece of string. Go figure...


Once gifts were opened and the givers were thanked, we moved on to her cake! The party-goers all got cupcakes while Kylie got her very own big-girl cake. 


We ended up giving her a cupcake though because she tried and tried to lift her cake and couldn't it was slippery and frustrating so we decided to just give her something a little more manageable. She LOVED it!


After cake, daddy was in charge of cleaning the baby while I cleaned the rest of the mess. When all was said and done, she was clean, tired, and we were able to blow lots of kisses and see everyone off before laying our newly-one year old girl into her crib. We cleaned up the mess and took down the decor that night so that when we woke in the morning, all was back to normal. 

We are so grateful to all of our family and friends who came to help us celebrate Kylie's birthday. We are so blessed to be surrounded by so many people. Now, on to year two... :)

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Birthday Numbers {DIY}

There's a difference between seeing pictures in their electronic format and holding them in your hand. There's something special about holding that piece of history. I thought that for Kylie's first birthday, I would do something special for her. Something that she can hold onto and remember. Then, I thought of birthday collages. Better yet - birthday NUMBER collages! This way, you can use them for decor AND hold onto them for the future. I'm all about dual purpose.


For this project you will need:
  • Styrofoam poster board (one for single digits and two for double)
  • A pen
  • Scissors or a box cutter (do not use the box cutter on your floor... we put the board on the floor in the garage)
  • double sided tape
  • an array of pictures from the respective year (I went to the Walgreens app that allows you to print photos from your phone, instagram, facebook, etc... in a 3x3 photo. Perfect for collages)
  • fun tak (blue sticky goo that you can hang things with that doesn't destroy walls.
Draw your number on the board. I went as large as possible and did free hand... but you can certainly use a ruler or something if need be. Cut out your newly drawn number and set it aside. Gather the rest of your supplies. 


Now, start collage-ing with your double stick tape. I started to go chronologically, but that got old in a hurry... so I just started putting pictures wherever they fit.


Finally using bits of the fun-tak, you can hang your work of art. I am in LOVE with the outcome and intend on doing this for every birthday for all of my children. 


Friday, November 1, 2013

Pastry Pinwheels

These little gems are not only too-easy to make, but they are super adorable and will impress any guest. Like I said before, they were our biggest "seller" at Kylie's first birthday party!

For this, you will need TWO ingredients. TWO! 

  • A can of pie filling or jam. Keep in mind that the pie filling is more structurally sound meaning it'll be less likely to melt and make a mess. Also, I used apple pie and cherry pie filling. The apple went over much better (I think the season has something to do with it) but make sure to cut the apples up a little so they fit in the pinwheel.
  • One sheet of puff pastry thawed in fridge.
Preheat oven to 350*

Spray a cookie sheet with non-stick spray and roll out (or unfold) puff pastry dough. Cut into 9 equal parts (should be about 3" each)

With each of your now-cut squares, cut the corners on each to about 1/2" from the center (to keep the pinwheel connected). Place a small scoop (about two tbsp) filling in the center.



Fold in every other corner. The non-stick should help it all stick together.



Bake for 20 minutes or until they start to turn golden - but not to the point where they're all brown. Serve warm or cooled!!!

YUM!

(For easy pinning:)



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