Sunday, January 27, 2013

National Pie Day Pie 2013!

January 23rd was National Pie Day!


This year I decided to make mini pies. We got 4 little pie plates {4 inch} as wedding gifts, so I decided to try them out!

One of my friends from Miller, Joyce, gave us a wonderful cookbook called Small Batch Baking, which is perfect for just the 2 of us! 


I found the recipe for mini chocolate meringue pies in it, and it turned out being really yummy and easy. I won't lie I was really intimidated by the meringue. It is so easy to mess it up, but they actually turned out really well! I was really pleased.

They were yummy, simple and perfectly portioned for two.

Mini Crusts & Chocolate Meringue Pies


Borrowed, Adapted and Enjoyed from Small Batch Baking

Crust Ingredients

1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. sugar
3 T. unsalted butter, cold, cut into small pieces
4 tsp. ice water, more if needed
unsalted butter, at room temperature for greasing pans {if using tart pan, or jumbo muffin pans, I did not use for pie plates}

 Filling Ingredients

1/3 cup of sugar


1 T. + 3 tsp. cake flour
1 T. unsweetened cocoa powder
pinch of salt
1/3 cup of whole milk
yolk of one large egg 
1 oz. of bittersweet or semisweet chocolate {I used semi sweet}
1 T. unsalted butter 
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract 

Meringue Ingredients:

White of large egg used in filling @ room temp

1/8 tsp. cream of tartar
1/8 tsp. of vanilla extract
pinch of salt
1 1/2 T. sugar

Pans Required

2 mini pie plates, 1 jumbo muffin plan or 2 mini tart pans + a cookie sheet, food processor {or you can do the crust by hand with the same general instructions}

Crust 

1) Place dry ingredients in the food processor and pulse to blend.

2) Space out pieces in food processor and pulse about 15 times or until the lumps of butter are about the size of peas.
3) Sprinkle the ice water over the flour and process lightly until small, moist clumps of dough being to form. Add up to 2 tsp. more ice water if needed to wet the dough.
4) Tear off two sheets of waxed paper and divide the dough into 2 equal pieces. Flatten each ball of dough into disks and wrap in the pieces of waxed paper. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
5) Press the dough into the bottom of two ungreased pie pans or greased jumbo muffin cups, or greased mini tart pans. Prick the bottom of the crust with a fork several times and put in the freezer and chill for 15 minutes.
6) After chilling the dough, place in a 375 degree oven and bake for 4-5 minutes. 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Filling


1) Put the dry ingredients in a sauce pan and whisk together. Whisk in the milk and egg yolk and place over medium heat and whisk constantly until thick and bubbly.
2) Remove pan from heat and add butter and chocolate. Replace over heat until butter and chocolate have melted, stirring constantly. 
3) Remove from the heat and mix in the vanilla. Keep warm on the stove. 

Meringue {prepare immediately!}


1)  Place the egg white in a bowl or kitchen-aid mixer bowl and beat on medium speed until it is foamy. 
2) Add the cream of tartar, vanilla and salt and increase mixer speed to high and beat until soft peaks form.
3) With mixer running on high speed, slowly add the sugar. Beat until stiff peaks form. 
4) Add the filling evenly to the pie shells and mound the meringue to the top with high peaks. Seal the meringue to the edge of the pan. If using jumbo muffin pans fill other muffin spots with water so that your pan does not warp while baking.
5) Bake until golden brown, 15-17 minutes.
6) Remove and allow to cool completely away from drafts. If using tart or muffin pans remove from pans to serve.

Share & Enjoy!


*Best eaten the day that they are made.*


I was thrilled to get a comment on my instagram picture from a {I assume} seasoned pie maker saying that my meringue looked perfect! It made me feel really good, especially since I was so nervous! Sometimes it just works out. :)  

What type of pie did you have on National Pie Day?

All for now,

Alexandra

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Color Run Lawrence 2012

Lawrence was lucky enough to have a Color Run this last October!


I am NOT a runner. I actually really dislike running. I would partake in most other forms of exercise first. However, I had made it a goal to do a Color Run within the next 10 years because it seemed like fun. (10 year list of goals coming soon!)

The Kansas City run was in July and sold out very quickly. But luckily Lawrence was chosen as a site and it happened in much cooler temperatures!


We didn't train. We ran once with our friends Emy and Matthew who signed up with us. Emy had run 5Ks before, so she was prepared!

For me, I just wanted the Color Run experience. The fun, the activity, the money to charity but I never set any specific goals for how much I would run. 

So we just kind of went with it. It was really fun! You run through 4 different color stations and then at the end there is a party where everyone throws color packets, dances and celebrates.  I think we probably ran about 2 of the 4 legs of the run all together. Either way, it was a really fun experience!

I highly recommend it to the young, old, runners and non-runners alike! 

Find an upcoming run near you, by clicking here.

It makes me want to look at other fun 5Ks. :) Any recommendations?

Have you ever done a Color Run? Did you enjoy it?

All for now,

Alexandra

Friday, January 25, 2013

College Graduation

Well everyone, I graduated!

  
4 1/2 years and 3 majors later I have graduated with my bachelor's degree in Community Health. Overall I loved college. I took so many amazing classes and met a bunch of incredible people. There were definitely some really hard times, paying for college was a big struggle for me and some of my classes were really taxing. But in the end I feel really great about where I'm at.

I got a great education from a wonderful school. I spent 2 1/2 years in the best housing situation I could have ever imagined and met so many fantastic friends that I will keep forever. I had so many diverse opportunities to learn and grow. I am so thankful that I was able spend 4 1/2 years in such a great place.

Not only did I get the awesome experiences during classes and on campus, but my program also included a semester long internship at a local organization. I loved every second of my internship at my preschool and I recently got hired as a substitute for the semester. This is the perfect way to spend my transition time until Kyle graduates and we move on to whatever is next for us. I am so grateful and excited for all of these opportunities. 

  
My sister Jess came home for my graduation which was so great. I felt really awesome at the ceremony because I had about 15 people there for me. Thank you so much for making that day great!

Afterward we had lunch and my mom made me a homemade German chocolate cake and Kyle's mom made a homemade carrot cake! We ate and had fun. It was pretty laid back but I was spoiled with flowers, presents and cards. 

In May we will be having a big graduation party for Kyle, Kelsey and I because we all graduate this school year. So if you are feeling left out of the festivities don't worry, there's more to come!

All for now,

Alexandra

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Travel Mix Vol. II

Maybe you have read my Travel Mix Vol. I post.


I love to travel. Since Kyle and I are on a budget we don't get to as much as we would like. So I spend a lot of time dreaming about travel, planning out potential trips, and watching movies, reading books and listening to music that keep my wonderlust under control.


Anyhow, I like to travel and I love music! We take lots of road trips and make fun playlists to sing to as we drive. When my friends go on trips I like to burn them copies of my first volume.


Since one of my dearest and oldest friends is heading back to Africa to see her boyfriend, {and has received my mix before} I decided to make a second volume. Aren't they cute!?

Anyhow, this volume is a little more lovey dovey. Lots of songs about getting to the person you love. But as always it's very eclectic and fun. It includes alternative music, quirky pop, guilty pleasures and of course some Celtic Woman. I hope that you like it.

Travel Mix Vol. II
 
1) Double Trouble - Jack and White
2) Get to me - Train
3) Send Me On My Way - Rusted Root
4) Teir Abhaile Riu - Celtic Woman
5) In a Little Spanish Town - Rosemary Clooney & Perez Prado
6) International Love - Pitbull feat. Chris Brown
7) Wake Up - Hilary Duff
8) Princess of China - Coldplay feat. Rhianna
9) I Belong to You - Muse
10) American Boy - Estelle feat. Kanye West
11) Back in Baby's Arms - Patsy Cline
12) Lake Michigan - Rogue Wave
13) May it Be - Hayley Westenra
14) Can't Take It In - Imogen Heap
15) Phoenix - Brooke White
16) Rocketeer - Far East Movement
17) Paris Nights/New York Mornings - Corinne Bailey Rae
18) I Drove All Night - Celine Dion*
19) Mermaid - Train
20) The Story - Brandi Carlile
21) Sailing - Celtic Woman
22) Chicago - Sufjan Stevens

Enjoy!

*included because we love to belt this one out on road trips. Partly because it's catchy but also because when you think about the lyrics.. it's kinda creepy.. :) Which makes for the perfect road trip song, because it makes us laugh!

I've already started on Volume III!

What are your favorite travel songs?

All for now,

Alexandra 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

2012 Cookbook Review


I will be posting my pictures and recipe soon! :) (here)

As most of you know I made it a goal in 2012 to try out 100 new recipes. I went through many cookbooks and believe me, it's not always easy to find a good recipe! Some cookbooks, even the ones that look great can end up being full of duds! So I wanted to let all of you in on my favorite cookbooks so far! The ones that passed the test of having many good or very good recipes in them.

Here we go!


The Pioneer Woman cookbooks are filled with delicious from scratch recipes. There is a definite down-home almost Southern vibe to the comfort food type recipes, but there are definitely some very creative more interesting ones as well. Each book has step by step pictures and you feel like she is reading them to you herself. They are hilarious and filled with great pictures and tips. I have yet to make something out of either of these books that hasn't been AMAZING! Seriously, go buy these. Pioneer Woman also has a show on food network, a novel about her life, children's books and a blog.



I bought this cookbook because it was cute. Seriously. And there was a pie on the cover... you know how I love pie. However, the recipes turned out to be the most amazing part of the book.. which is definitely a good thing. The Farm Chicks live in Spokane, Washington {a region of the country that I desperately want to visit!} so there is a bit of a healthier vibe to these recipes. Now, I'm not talking kale, nutritional yeast and vegan healhty.. I mean that they love to use real ingredients and a variety of fruits and veggies. They have tons of great desserts but other recipes as well! It also has craft and thrifting ideas in it too, so those are very fun to read in between recipes. I am hoping to purchase their Christmas cookbook this coming fall so I can test out those as well!



Katie Brown is one of my favorite ladies in the cooking/crafting/gardening/entertaining etc world. She has a TV show on PBS that I love to watch, many books and a really fun blog/website. I am constantly inspired by her. I only  have 2 of her books so far, but I love the recipes! Of course there are crafts and other ideas as well, but the recipes are fantastic! She is a Midwestern/Great Lakes girl at heart like me, so I love to read her books because they are so rooted in family and entertaining those whom you love the very most. When that is at the heart of a book you can't go wrong. Her recipes range from homemade classics and staples to culinary twists on basics and global influences for theme parties. There is something for everyone in these books!



The Carle sisters are definitely the lesser known of my favorites, but they definitely know what they are doing! These girls are in their twenties and write cookbooks about college and young adult life. You might think that that would cause their recipes to be so basic that they are boring... but in all actuality they are sharing their love of food with those who are learning to cook in new lifestyle situations. I would recommend all 3 of the pictured books to anyone, even a more advanced cook. They cover so many different types of food that you can always find something to spice up your weekly menu in one of their books! The two college books also have sections on budget meals, party menus and feeding crowds. I highly recommend all three!

I am sure that the more I cook and test out other cookbooks I will come up with more and new favorites. But for now, these are the ones that I am sure about! I promise to post more good ones as I find them!

If you are interested in purchasing any of the books mentioned above {you should be... :)} I have included links on each of their titles. 

What are some of your favorite cookbooks?

All for now,

Alexandra

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Ideas for National Pie Day 2013!

I love pie a lot. I would choose pie over almost any other dessert, if it is good pie {i.e. Homemade}. Needless to say I get really excited in January because it contains National Pie Day! 

National Pie Day is always January 23rd. 

In honor of the day, and really in honor of pie, I make a pie on the 23rd every year. This will be my 3rd year.

So far, since I am still a fairly new cook.. I have been trying to test out new recipes every year. This year is no different, but I won't be giving away my recipe just yet! :)

Instead, I thought I would leave you a mouth-watering pie post, with links to recipes that I have tried in the past! I hope that you will feel inspired to make your own pie tomorrow, or really anytime this week, because pie makes people happy. Make a pie and share it with those you love!


This recipe also made my top 12 of 2012 recipes! So it is very good in my opinion! :) Kyle had never had a cream pie before, but he loved it! This recipe really wasn't too hard but was definitely worth any and all effort put into it! Crust recipe and directions also included in the post!


A nice cherry pie. It uses both frozen and dried cherries so it has a mix of sweet and tart, which is nice for those of us who aren't always the biggest fan of tartness. This is Kyle's favorite. Crust recipe and directions also included in the post!


This pie is so delicious. I always make it for either Thanksgiving or Christmas, but it doesn't have to be seasonal. It uses dried cranberries so it can really be made whenever you want it! Because the cranberries are dried they are much sweeter than fresh ones. So if made with mild or sweet apples it is actually quite sweet! If you like tart go for a green apple, like Granny Smith and you will have a sweet/tart combo! It is also great with a crumble crust, recipe also at the above link. Crust recipe and directions also included in the post!


This pie was not my favorite, but Kyle and his parents loved it! If you like blueberry pie, you will probably like this pie. It was very easy! What I love most about it are the colors! :)For a crust recipe check the Cherry or Apple pie post!


While for some this pie is seasonal, there really isn't any reason it needs to be. It is yummy all year round. I just used the recipe on the can of pumpkin. For a crust recipe check the cherry or apple pie post!

Share & Enjoy!

Want more recipes and ideas for your crust designs? Check out my pie board on Pinterest!

Happy National Pie Day! 

What is your favorite pie recipe?

All for now,

Alexandra

Friday, January 18, 2013

Top 12 Recipes of 2012 {out of 100!} + 3 Runner's Up!

When I set the goal to try 100 new recipes in 2012, I'm not sure exactly what I was thinking... or if I thought I would make it. But somehow, I did. And I really enjoyed {most of} the process. I found a lot of recipes that I can have ready to go when I make my menus! I got to try a lot of fun new things and to be honest not too terribly many of them turned out to be bad! :)

So in December, I thought it would be fun to go through and pick my favorites and then share them with you! There were so many to choose from! I loved many of them and a lot were good enough to repeat even though they did not make this list.. In order to narrow enough I did not include recipes that I had tasted before even if I had never MADE them myself. If I had.. Spritz Cookies for sure would have made the list! :)  

Here we go! {in no particular order}

Garlic-y, basil-y, fresh and delicious! Fairly healthy and filled to the brim with ingredients I love!


Super fresh! Really healthy but flavorful! I was surprised by how great this recipe was! I say, wait and make it when you've got yummy fresh tomatoes! :)



 This was what I tried for national pie day 2012! It ended up being really great and work the {minimal} extra effort to make it from scratch!



 I love granola, and I really wanted to find a recipe I liked! I got lucky on my 2nd try! This stuff is heavenly! Its like a cookie in your cereal bowl! It made the house smell heavenly! Make this right now.. and make it monthly!



 This meal was so flavorful! I loved the spice of the peppers and the freshness of real Parmesan. This was easy and really cheap for a fish dish! I highly recommend this recipe!



Oh my goodness I love cajun food! I've even started putting cajun seasoning in our scrambled eggs! This recipe was easy and super delicious. It is way more exciting than any of the usual styles of food we choose from. This meal makes me want to head south to New Orleans the first chance I get! :)



This meal is straight comfort food! It was surprisingly easy and extremely tasty! Don't be intimidated! It is worth it and really not that hard! 



Pioneer Woman is a genius. I know I say this a lot.. but for very good reason. This recipe was so fantastic. The flavors were things that I never would have picked to go together and it got me really excited about trying crazier recipes and mixing in my own ideas to recipes I found. Taking a chance in the kitchen can be very rewarding!



I love how simple this recipe is, but it has this crazy combination of flavors. It has the tang from the Dijon, the sweetness of the brown sugar and it is very hearty! I made this again this week because it is just that easy! Note: don't be alarmed by the initial amount of spinach! It looks like a ton when it goes in.. but it cooks down and isn't overwhelming at all!



Oh my Lord.. this recipe turned me into a cheesecake lover! It was insanely rich! Seriously guys, small slices and lots of sharing! But it was heavenly. You won't believe that you could make something that tastes so good!




This has become my go-to dessert. It's warm, bubbly, fruity and not too sweet. It is great with ice cream and just about everyone loves it!



I cannot actually explain how much I love this french toast. So I won't try.


Runners Up:
Perfect for fall, easy as can be, unusual flavor... such a great meal.



I figured that this recipe would be pretty bland since I hadn't really tried many soup recipes.. but it wasn't! The sharp cheddar was just the ticket! Perfect for a super chilly day!


These are so easy and tasty! They are great for busy nights when you just want to whip up something really easy but satisfying. I recommend you work this into your monthly menus! This one is really kid friendly!




 What were your favorite recipes of 2012? Send them my way! Which of mine did you like the best?

All for now,

Alexandra 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Blueberry Bliss Smoothie {Recipe #100!}

With this post I vow to never forget to take a picture of a recipe again! Whew! This super easy recipe has taken me forever to make again. ... but now that I have, this blueberry bliss is all yours.

Blueberry Bliss Smoothie


Borrowed, Adapted and Enjoyed from the Little Black Book of Smoothies

Makes 1 tall smoothie or 2 juice glass sized ones {pictured}.

Ingredients
1 cup chilled white grape juice {no sugar added} 
1/2 cup low fat blueberry yogurt {Greek would be even better + a bit of honey!}
1/2 frozen banana*
1 cup frozen blueberries

1) Add liquid first, then yogurt, then frozen solids. Blend on high until smooth.

Enjoy!

You can change around the fruit, juice and yogurt to your tastes! This is the basic smoothie formula, so change it up! We sometimes add spinach leaves or ground flax seed to add extra fiber and vitamins! and NO you can't taste it! :) PROMISE! As it is, this recipe is super healthy for you, especially if you swap for the Greek yogurt!

*note* freeze your banana in chunks and peeled. It is super tricky to peel a frozen banana!

Also, if you love smoothies, invest in a good blender! We broke our first one.. but we got to buy this one to replace it! :)

What is your favorite smoothie recipe?

All for now,

Alexandra

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Nutella Cookies {Recipe #99}

Hi all! I hope 2013 is treating you well so far!

Kyle and I have been starting up a new routine for a new schedule and I have been organizing and decorating our apartment like crazy! {a year later....} Posts coming soon! SO excited about it too!

Anyway, through all of this I have been struggling to get these last few recipes re-made {for pictures} and posted! But hopefully I can get in the last one by the end of the week! 

Then I will have a top 10 recipes of 2012 + 3 Runner's up recipes post and a best and worst cookbook post! Exciting! :) 

So here's the recipe you were waiting for!

I made this back in March for Kyle's birthday, but didn't have my camera with me at the time. They were delicious! Kyle loves nutella so the recipe was a hit! I would recommend these to anyone who loves chocolate. They are fairly dark chocolate-y which is nice. 

Nutella Cookies


Via pinterest & altered a bit

Ingredients
1 1/4 cups of flour {spooned into measuring cup and leveled off}
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt {only if you are using unsalted butter}
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 stick of butter softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract {real, please}
1/3 cup nutella
1/3 cup milk

1) Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. 
2) In a small bowl mix together flour, powders and salt {if using}.
3) in a mixer, cream butter and sugars. Then add extract. 
4) Next, add the nutella to the butter mixture.
5) Mix in half of the dry mixture into the wet mixture. Then add the milk. Then add the last 1/2 of the dry mixture and mix until well combined.
6) Cover and let dough chill in the fridge for at least 15 minutes {I suggest longer}, up to 2 days.
7) Use a lined cookie sheet {with silpat mats, parchment paper etc.} Roll tablespoons of the batter into balls and place on cookie sheets. Flatten slightly and bake for 10-12 minutes. 
8) Let sit on cookie sheet for 5 minutes before moving to cooling rack. 

Share & Enjoy! 


I Like to turn mine into cookie sandwiches by spreading a little bit of nutella in between 2 cookies! This also helps because I am less of a dark chocolate lover than Kyle is. So it makes it a little sweeter! It is delicious! :)

What is your favorite cookie recipe? 

All for now,

Alexandra

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Bikini Season Salmon and Broccoli {Recipes 97 & 98}

My sister-in-law, Kelsey gave me the Glamour Magazine Cookbook for Christmas. 

I have flipped through the book many times since I got it and I am so excited to try more of the recipes. The Frozen Mango Mimosa recipe came originally from the book. We just changed up the sorbet flavor. 

Anyhow, these 2 recipes also came from this cookbook. It turned out to be a light and delicious meal. It wasn't hard at all and was really tasty, not to mention healthy!

Bikini Season Salmon


{borrowed, adapted and enjoyed from Glamour's Cookbook}

Serves 4
{we cut ours in half and still had 4 servings!}

Ingredients

Four 8-ounce skin-on salmon fillets
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
½ cup dry white wine
½ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
½ cup fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons capers*

1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Put the salmon skin-side down in a glass baking pan. Rub the salmon fillets with 1-tablespoon olive oil and season generously with salt and pepper. Let the salmon sit in the pan for at least 10 minutes. 

2) Drizzle the white wine over the salmon, then sprinkle 1/4 cup parsley on top; save the remaining parsley to use later. Put the pan in the oven and cook for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the salmon fillets are opaque. {I overcooked mine a bit, it was still good but a bit dry. So make sure to take it out on time!

3) Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix the lemon juice, capers, remaining parsley, and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Top each salmon fillet with the lemon juice mixture and serve immediately. 

Enjoy!

We made this broccoli recipe from the same book as a side.

Beyond Basic Broccoli

Ingredients

1 1/2 lbs of fresh broccoli cut into florets
3 T. Olive oil
4 garlic cloves thinly sliced
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp or less red pepper flakes {optional}

1) Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil. meanwhile, fill a large bowl with ice water. Add brocolli to the boiling water and cook, uncovered until tender, about 5 minutes. Transfer the brocooli to the ice water using tongs or a slotted spoon, then drain in a colander. Wipe out the pot.

2) Ad the olive oil and garlic to the pot and cook over medium high heat. Cook, stirring occasionally until just golden, about 1 minute. Add the broccoli and cook while stirring for 2 minutes. Add salt, pepper and red pepper flakes to taste. 

Enjoy!

What is your go-to healthy but tasty meal?

All for now,


Alexandra

*capers are pickled flower buds. They smell disgusting, but they really do taste good! Kyle liked them too! :)

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Frozen Mango Mimosas {Recipe #96}

Mimosas are great. 

I like regular mimosas as long as they are 3/4 good* oj and 1/4 champagne... :)

But this recipe was really fantastic! {& easy}

We had a bottle of champagne leftover from our wedding that we opened on our anniversary and made this yummy recipe.

 Frozen Mango Mimosas


Recipe Borrowed, Adapted and Enjoyed from Glamour's Cookbook

Ingredients

Champagne
Frozen Sorbet or Sherbert 
{we used Ciao Bella's mango, but it comes in lots of flavors}

1) scoop sorbet into festive glasses.
2) pour champagne over sorbet.
3) stir until smooth.

Share & Enjoy!

What is your favorite way spice up champagne?

All for now,

Alexandra

*not from concentrate. I like Simply Orange best