Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Holiday Food Inspiration

The Holiday season has to be my favorite time of the year. How can you be sad when there are Christmas lights surrounding you? I love when friends come home from school for breaks, waking up on Saturdays to "Breakfast Bagel Sandwiches"--a Saffell specialty--with my sisters (Becky, you count) and parents, and wearing scarves and coats and all sorts of winter accessories.

Another thing I love about the Holidays, though, is the food. Oh, the food! I think for this one time of year, people are allowed to eat what they want, and indulge with (little to no) regrets. Okay, there's always going to be some regret, but just don't think about it too much and you'll be fine.

So, in honor of the holiday season that I love so dearly, I've compiled some recipes from some of my favorite sites that you can share with your family and friends during the most wonderful time of the year! Some I have tried, some I have not. So if you try something and like it, be sure to let me know!

**Sidenote** Sorry about the lack of pictures. I'm a copyright-phobe (does that even make sense?) and I don't want to use someone else's pictures without permission! That's a BIG no-no. **End of Sidenote**

So, first things first, appetizers!

I think these Cheddar Puffs look to die for. I've always wanted to try them!

Mystery rolls...oh, you don't even KNOW until you've tried them. So simple. So delicious.

Check out these ham and pretzel bites from Pennies on a Platter. Yum! Fiance's been asking about these for a bad, yo.

Confession: I love, love, LOVE mushrooms. Another confession: these look absolutely divine. Smitten Kitchen, always a winner!!

This dip is delicious! Serve it with some pita chips (Stacy's, to be exact) and you'll have everyone begging for the recipe!

Main courses:

Okay, call me crazy, but I think this recipe for Roasted Yorkshire Chicken looks de-lish-us. Super simple way to roast your first chicken! I say that, but I've never roasted a chicken. Maybe this holiday season will be the first? Yeah, doubtful. Also, they're having a Le Creuset giveaway on this post, so hurry on over! Dream come true, I tell you.

I don't know about you, but I'm pretty picky when it comes to lasagna; it has to be perfect in order for me to even remotely enjoy it. This roasted vegetable lasagna, though, looks like it comes pretty darn close to perfection. What could be better than a big helping of lasagna and a nice salad? Nothing. And if you haven't checked out In Good Taste before, you should!! She features lots of weeknight recipes that always look delicious.

Try this sherried tomato soup from none other than PW if you're looking for something to warm your insides. Delicious!! Even with the sherry. I know, right? Scandyyyy.

Nothing screams Christmas like roast beef, right? Okay, maybe not, but I think this herb rubbed version is a nice alternative to the standard roast beef! Served with some mashed potatoes? Yes, please.

Anddd if you're indecisive like me and can't think of just one thing to make, I think this Fantasandwich would be a great idea!! I mean, really. Four sandwiches in one? Please and thank you.

Sides/breads/things you really want to eat but don't know what category they fit in:

Check out this different take on roasted potatoes. Plus, it can function as either an appetizer or a side! I like dishes that are just as indecisive as myself.

I love sweet potatoes. I also love cumin and paprika. Therefore, one can assume that I would LOVE these crash hot sweet potatoes! I've used the spice mix before on sweet potatoes, and it was wonderful. I was just too lazy to do the whole "crash" part. What? I'm a workin' girl.

I know, another potato recipe, but have you heard of hasselback potatoes? I've seen them all over the blogosphere, but have yet to try them. Here's 10 different ways to try them!

Oh dear. These rolls. Melted butter BEFORE you even cook them? Count me in. You can always trust PW to make things non-caloric to spice up your table. Plus, she won a throw-down with Bobby Flay. I think I can trust that these are crazy tasty.

I think this layered salad from Real Mom Kitchen looks delicious! You should also try her parmesan knots. I hear nothing but AMAZING things about those!

I'm not a huge fan of bleu cheese, but this salad looks so good! And what a great way to use pomegranates. Mmmm.

Now for my FAVORITE part! Dessert!

What would Christmas be without hot chocolate? Answer: I'm not really sure, but I don't ever want to be around if it disappears. Here's a new take on a classic! Hot chocolate on a stick. And if you're feeling in the Christmas-giving-spirit, you can make some for your friends, hand deliver them, and have them make you a glass while you wait! See? Sometimes, you gotta think outside the box.

Or, if you're feeling particularly baker-like one day, I think these Mexican Hot Cocoa Cupcakes would be a delicious alternative. Caramel hidden beneath fluffy spiced cream all on top of a chocolate cupcake? Only if I must.

These chocolate caramel tartelettes from Sophistimom look absolutely heavenly. If you've never looked at her recipes, make sure that you're prepared for the onslaught of hunger that accompanies her posts. Her photography is breath-taking! She also made these cupcakes based on the movie Elf. Dear Jaime: stop being so creative. And can you please come take pictures of my food? I think it'll boost my cooking confidence. Kthanks.

What dessert section would be complete without a shout-out to Bakerella? That would be a travesty. While I haven't made this Maple Walnut dessert at home, I can tell you that this is hands-down one of my favorite restaurant desserts. Make it. Now.

I know cinnamon rolls don't necessarily qualify as a dessert, but they should. But who am I kidding, I'd eat them all day every day if I could.

And for all you English majors out there, I think you know what I mean when I say this is an essential Christmas dessert. Known as "Goo" in our department, this stuff disappears in two seconds flat. If someone feels the need to sneak some of Dr. Agan's Goo back for me to T-town, I wouldn't mind one bit.

So there you have it! My wayyyy too long-winded list of holiday food inspirations! Hopefully, I'll make some of these soon and I'll be able to give you reports on how they taste!

In the mean time, what's one of your favorite holiday recipes? Is there one thing that you have to have every year? Or something that's become a tradition in your family? Please share! Especially if it's a tasty recipe. I wouldn't hate that at all.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Registering and Le Creuset

I've been told on more than one occasion that registering for wedding schtuff single-handedly makes up the most stressful part of wedding planning...I can understand that, but why? Is it because of conflicting decorating styles? (Probably.) The groom-to-be registering for silly things like frozen food? (Most likely.) Or is it because the future bride wants anything and everything she sees? (There we go.)

I know that the registering process won't begin for Fiancee and I for a while, but I still find myself taking notes at Target. From bath towels to a new Wii, I picture our future life together which, by the way, is always EXTREMELY well-decorated and always involves food. But I bet you could guess that already. But the question I find myself asking the most is "What exactly are we allowed to register for?" Am I really allowed to register for a Wii? Or do I just stick with the normal bedding and kitchenware items?

And then I begin to wonder, how much is too much? How many place settings to I register for? 8? 12? Do I dare register at Williams-Sonoma, hoping and praying that someone gets me a Le Creuset 5 1/2 quart round dutch oven in Caribbean, only to be disappointed because I know it's way too expensive? Do I register for every-day dishes AND china?

Then, I thump myself on the head, knowing that I always ask way too many questions and stress out way too soon. You register for what you need, Kayla. Not what you want. Even though a Wii would be SUPER nice (hello, instant Netflix), I know that's not something Fiancee and I need from the beginning. We have our laptops, we'll have a TV, and that should be enough.

Plus, Christmas is coming up. So maybe the things we want and don't necessarily need could be asked for now. Or, let's be real, I don't have any problem hitting up eBay for a used Wii. No shame.

So for now I'll just take notes, looking at the things we'll need (like dishes) and not what we (okay I) want (like a Le Creuset 5 1/2 quart round dutch oven in Caribbean). But that leaves me with a question...what are things you wish you had registered for? Or maybe wish you hadn't? Did you regret registering for both china and every-day plates? (That's seriously a battle in my head). Or did you regret registering for too much? I'm all ears for words of wisdom.

I hope you had a wonderful and blessed Thanksgiving holiday!

And just in case you were wondering....this is a Le Creuset 5 1/2 quart round dutch oven in Caribbean. Just in case you needed a visual.

Beautiful, ain't she?

Saturday, November 13, 2010


I think it's probably pretty obvious by now that I have a serious addiction to chocolate. I mean, it's bad. You know something's not right when you'll willingly eat celery all day just because you know that means you can have a milkshake later. And out of the HUNDREDS of recipes I have on my computer, it's safe to say that over half are chocolate. What can I say? I'm in love.

Well, friends, even if you don't share my affinity for all things cocoa, I'm here to share with you a recipe that will make you addicted, too. Believe me. When I say this stuff is good, I ain't lyin'. You'll just keep going back for more. And the best part? So. Easy. I've had this at bridal showers, at home, and even my lovely future mother-in-law made it for our girl's night for Camp! Even then, I found girls who were originally hesitant hovering over the bowl waiting for seconds.

And I know that you'll see the recipe and think to yourself, "Self: why on earth is she posting a recipe with ice cream in it? Doesn't she know it's November?" Yes, yes I do. But you have to trust me on this one. We're friends, right? Answer: yes.

So here it is, y'all. Enjoy! This is a perfect recipe for dessert-time during the holidays!

Cappuccino Punch

  • ¼ cup instant coffee granules
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 2 quarts milk (and for the love of Pete, don't use skim! You'll be fine. Promise.)
  • 1 quart vanilla ice cream, softened
  • 1 quart chocolate ice cream, softened
In a small bowl, combine the coffee granules and the sugar. Stir in the boiling water until the coffee mixture is dissolved. Then cover and refrigerate until chilled. No, seriously. You have to let it cool down. I know it’s hard, trust me, but it’ll be worth it.

Just before it’s go-time, pour the COOLED coffee mixture into a 1-quart punch bowl and stir in the milk. Then, add scoops of your ice cream and stir until melted.

Serve to family, friends, or yourself on the back porch while reading a good book. Be prepared to be bombarded with pleas for the recipe!

Monday, November 1, 2010

"Definitely. So true."

The bridesmaid dress is a very peculiar thing, an oddity that I have yet to have a pleasant experience with.

I think it's safe to say that I have many OCD-esque qualities, and having everything match and being absolutely perfect kind of falls into that category. If the bridesmaids dress is blue, then anything else that is blue has to be that exact. same. shade.

Needless to say, I'm running into problems. I'm very particular about the shade of blue I want, and it's starting to look like no one really has that color in stock. Granted, I know the winter months are coming, and the Tiffany's-blue-but-more-blueish-than-that-but-maybe-more-aqua color that I want isn't really en vogue at present. But even online, how am I supposed to know if that is the color that I want? The tiny swatch at the side of the screen does nothing for me. What if it's more aqua than blue? What if it's not even close at all, and it's a mint green? I don't want my bridesmaids looking like they have a strange obsession with mint ice cream.

I know that I'm not exactly the most fashion forward person (let's be real, if I could wear a v-neck and cardigan every day, I would...and I have for probably the past week), but I would like to think that I do know a thing or two about what is and is not a good look for a wedding....and everything I'm seeing is NOT a good look. And if it gets even relatively close, it's out of this world expensive. I just don't see the point of shelling out that much cash for something that I can guarantee they WON'T wear again. And I've considered the whole "same color different dress" idea, but I need to find the color first, and even then I feel like the dresses still need to be a little bit cohesive style wise. (Am I sounding like a control freak yet? Because I am...)

I want my bridesmaids to look and feel not only beautiful, but comfortable. And I really do want them to be able to wear the dress again. So, at present, my solution is to start looking outside the normal bridesmaids dress designers and maybe look at more "un"bridesmaids dresses. But what if they're TOO un-bridesmaidsy? I mean, I think there's a line that I shouldn't cross, but I'm afraid that I will. Like patterned that too much? Our wedding will be pretty casual, but I'm not sure if it will be that casual.

What do you think? Are patterned dresses a "no-no"? And be honest, do bridesmaids REALLY wear their dresses again? I don't want to go along thinking that they like it and will wear it again, when everyone else knows they won't. (Think 27 Dresses: "You can shorten it and wear it again!" "Definitely. So true.")

I just don't know these things.

But I DO know this: I have the best bridesmaids ever. They're willing to wear whatever I ask, but I trust they'll tell me when they don't like it....hopefully.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Saying "Yes! Well, maybe. What do you think? You're right, this is it! Isn't it?" to the dress

The wedding dress, I would venture to say, is the part of the wedding that little girls dream about the most, and the part that newly engaged women look forward to.

I am not that girl. This is the part that I am dreading. It's not because I'm worried about how I will look or how expensive the dress is going to be, although those are important factors. I'm worried because I don't think I'll be able to pick just one. What if I find "the one" and then later decide it's not? What if I find one and think it's the one, only to find a more "the one" one later? WHAT IF I DON'T FIND ONE AT ALL?

Welcome to the mind of the most indecisive girl on earth. I can't even make up my mind when I go to Chick Fil A (it's all chicken, Kayla. How hard is that?), so needless to say the dress experience is making me a little bit anxious. I thought I knew what I wanted, but everyone said that when you try on what you want you'll hate it. So then I started looking at gowns that I didn't like, but that doesn't even make sense, does it?

And then comes the style question: do I want trendy? classy? sassy? ivory? white? strapless? a-line? mermaid? all of the above?

Maybe I'm nervous because the wedding dress is at times more the focal point than the bride herself; this one component can single-handedly make or break whether or not the bride looks....well, like a bride. The dress is supposed to reflect the bride's personality as well. So that would mean mine would be....awkward. Really, really awkward. And indecisive. Which means it will have all kinds of crazy elements in all the wrong spots.

Not exactly my idea of a pretty gown.

But, regardless of my anxiety, I must go at some point. And when I do, I know that eventually, somewhere out there, there will be a dress for me. And it will be pretty. And I will love it and [hopefully] never look back.

I also know that there will be chocolate involved in the celebration of finding the dress or in the post-defeat shopping trips.

So, I guess this is actually a win-win situation, right? Well then. Maybe I'll go shopping sooner than I thought.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Goodbye, wedding diet

...hello cookies.

First things first... why did no one inform me that I spelled my future last name wrong in my header? I'm embarrassed. Guess that means I need to practice my signature more! I don't hate it.

Next...if you're not in love yet, get ready to fall head over heels. If you are, well, tell your loved one they'll have to take a back seat for a while.

If you ever went to OC, chances are that at one point or another you've had a cookie from Eileen's. They're absolutely delicious. My roommates and I used to go on Saturday's junior year for breakfast. Do not judge unless you've had these cookies. Everyone I know instantly becomes addicted, and on more than one occasion I brought these cookies to Stillwater by request of le fiance.

And now I am more than happy to present to you, my friends, the recipe. Please disregard the quality of le picture. I may be a working girl (AH!! I HAVE A JOB!) but still don't have enough money for a good camera. Sigh. Also, excuse the weird looking frosting. Somehow all the cookies got stuck together, and I figured a bad picture is better than none at all.

Eileen's Cookies
adapted from this recipe
--Note: If you switch out vanilla extract for almond extract, you'll get Lofthouse cookies instead! Win win situation if you ask me. However, I doubled the measurements in the frosting for the extract, so make sure you taste it and adjust as needed.

  • 1 box Pillsbury white cake mix (yes, you have to use Pillsbury. You need the pudding in the mix!!)
  • ⅔ cup flour
  • 2 large eggs
  • ⅓ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Mix the dry cake mix and flour then add the eggs, oil, sour cream and extract and mix well.

Roll the dough into about 1" balls (cookie scoops work perfectly!) and place them on a Silpat-like sheet. Seriously, I wish I was lying, but you need one to make these cookies.The point of these cookies is melt-in-your-mouth-goodness, so you don't want a brown bottom! No crisp cookies here. Plus, they might overbake if you don't use one. Which is bad. Very, very bad.

Flatten the balls using the heel of your hand. You don't want them too thin, maybe just about 1/2 an inch thick. The edges might be a little crackly, so feel free to touch them up. Or, if you're like me, you just want them in the oven as fast as you can, so you don't really consider presentation. And you know what? That's okay too. Too many Martha Stewarts could be a bad thing...right?

Bake for about 10-12 minutes, depending on how big you made your cookies, how your oven works, etc. You'll just kind of have to play around with it. I baked mine for 12, and you'll know they're done when they're kind of firm in the center. But remember, don't over bake! The bottom of the cookies are supposed to still be light if you did the right thing and used a Silpat (what? They're amazing. And yes, you DO need one). The point is melty-ness, not Chips Ahoy. -Beginning of rant- am I the only one who can't stand Chips Ahoy? I mean, if you're going to skimp on chocolate chip cookies, the least you could do is break and bake. Come on, people. -End of rant-

When you take your cookies out of the oven, let them cool off a bit and harden up before transferring them to a foil sheet to completely cool down. Now it's time for the icing..

  • ½ cup Crisco
  • ½ cup butter, room temp
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons almond extract
  • 1 tablespoon meringue powder (go to the specialty baking section of Wal-Mart near the party planning stuff. It will be with the Wilton products)
  • ½ envelope Dream Whip Mix (this will be near the Jello. Normally on the top shelf!)
  • 1 pound powdered sugar
Beat the Crisco and butter until the mixture is smooth and blended together. Add the salt, milk and almond extract and beat for one minute. Add the meringue powder, Dream Whip powder, and powdered sugar and mix well. Use a spoon or spatula to make sure everything's incorporated. Then, carefully beat on medium-high for about a minute (I think mine took longer) or until the frosting becomes light and fluffy. Taste your frosting to make sure you have enough extract. At first, the powdered sugar will be a little overwhelming, but I ended up adding more than 2 teaspoons of the extract. What? I like it, okay.

Let the cookies come to room temperature before frosting them. Obviously, I didn't pile up the icing as much on mine as Eileen's does, but I ended up regretting that. Just spread the icing on with an offset spatula, or if you're feeling artsy-fartsy go ahead and use a piping bag. But only if you must. Now, this is when the original recipe states that you "MUST use sprinkles"...however, if you're like me, then you have an issue with texture and get super weirded out by sprinkles. But, I realize that not everyone's like me (weird, right? I know.) so feel free to add them if you wish. The following step, however, is a must. Seriously. Trust me. You need to store the cookies in Tupperware or place them on a cookie sheet and cover them pretty tightly with plastic wrap after frosting them, and leave them for a few hours or overnight. This little step makes all your efforts worthwhile; it gives the frosting the perfect texture. And...well...I just can't explain it. It's just plain divine. So don't skip that step!

Then, enjoy! Share with your friends and family! And ignore the fact that you just started Weight Watchers. You get flex points, right? Right.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Top 5 No-No's

I think it's already happening....I am becoming bridezilla.

I don't think there's anything wrong with knowing exactly what you want and how you want it, is there?


Let me rephrase. I actually don't think I'm becoming a bridezilla...I think I might feel like one because my answers to "the questions" about wedding planning aren't necessarily normal. But when am I ever normal? Let's be real here.

Here's my top 5 list of things that I hate hearing right now:

1) "What? NO TUXES?!" Whoa, sorry. Didn't realize that's a wedding must-have. But apparently, it is. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE tuxes; they're chic and sharp. However, there are couple of things to keep in mind. First, Scott wears tuxes all the time for school. He looks uber handsome and I love it. BUT, we're going for more casual. And if he wears tuxes almost twice a month (if not more), then that really special element of wearing a full tuxedo is missing. That feeling, my friends, might be replaced with a vest. A khaki one. And he's REAL excited about it. Second, we're getting married at a ranch. Tuxedos. At a ranch. Think about it.....wait for it....weird, right? Exactly.

2) "Why don't you have your dress yet? You've been engaged a month." ....exactly. I've been engaged a month. I know a lot of girls who can pick out their dresses the day after the proposal and be perfectly satisfied, and it makes me jealous. I, on the other hand, will buy a pack of gum from QT and the instant I sit in my car will be second guessing if I made the right decision. If I get a dress now, there's no telling what will be going through my mind come April. This question can also be replaced with "Where's your honeymoon?" and the answer will remain the same.

3) "What exactly is the budget for your wedding?" I really, really wish that wasn't true. That information should be strictly voluntary.

4) "'re using WHAT as decorations?" So maybe I have some crazy, pseudo-tacky ideas. Will they be at the wedding? Maybe, maybe not. But if they are, smile. Just like this lovely couple.

See? They're in love. And they have bunting as decorations. And no one's dying or is confused that they're at a circus.

5) Saved the best for last..."You're waiting a YEAR to get married? Oh sweetheart, that's just not a good decision." Well, whether it was or not, that's the decision we made. Could we have gotten married sooner? Yes, if we wanted a winter wedding. My lil Maid of Honor is traveling to the Outback in February, and I wouldn't do this without her. Yes, I realize that you can get married while in school. However, for Scott and I, these were not the right decisions, and I think that's okay. Everyone's different. Will we be regretting this decision around May? Yeah, probably. But I want to be able to look back on wedding planning and smile, not pull my hair out. And for me, that means a year-long engagement. I wish I could be someone to pull it off in a sixth of the time, really I do. But for me, that's just not feasible, and never in a million years would I drag Scott through it with me.

So, wedding world, there it is. I believe that weddings are a celebration of the couple getting married, not just the bride. If that means that Scott wants tuxes with cowboy boots and spurs, done. Or if that means khaki suits, let there be khaki! If that means Chick Fil A nuggets somewhere amongst the catering festivities, then bring on the Roasted Honey Mustard sauce. And if Scott decides he wants a giant Jello shape thing instead of a groom's cake, I'll gag a little bit, and proceed with finding the most perfect mold.

So in the future, dearest readers, make sure you use caution when talking to a bride. Maybe her style isn't the same or she's doing things "wrong." In reality, she's not. It's her wedding, so let her have her day! No couple should be second-guessing on their wedding day what others will think.

Will our wedding be weird? Maybe. Will it be us? Definitely. And I think that's the most important.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Just a boy and a girl in a little canoe...

So, here we are. I'M GETTING MARRIED! And instead of creating a whole new blog, I decided I'd be frugal (what?) and just re-use my old one. It was lonely and neglected.

ANYWAY. This won't be limited just to wedding-ness, I'll still be posting recipes (no, really this time) and other things. But since wedding planning is the most recent, let's start with that.

First: I HAVE A DATE! September 3rd, 2011. Mark it down. I know that it's Labor Day weekend, but you have a year notice. You'll be fine. Promise. Second: I HAVE A VENUE! It's amazing. They're amazing. I basically get to do whatever I want with the lodge, which I LOVE! Except touch the chandeliers...which have shotguns on them. I like to think that it adds character....right? There will also be some surprises in regards to the location. But I'll let you find those out when you see them in person! I'm tricky like that. Third: I HAVE BRIDESMAIDS! And I love them. I didn't exactly ask them in a creative way (or even ask them at all...sorry Emmy and Becky) but they're all in! Which is good, otherwise I would be a very depressed bride-to-be.

Now that we've got all that out of the way, you should probably know a couple of things...a) I will be asking for advice on a lot of things. I'm the first to get married from my family and am severely lacking in the wedding etiquette department. That, and I've got crazy tunnel vision and when I want something I narrow in on it, even if it's tacky. So PLEASE, give me your honest opinions!! b) This is basically going to be a completely DIY affair. Why not? I've got a year. So if I stumble on something amazing, I'll be sure and share.

So I guess to conclude my post, I do have a question: since my wedding is 367 days away (what? judge.), do I start planning decorations now? Or do I wait until March-ish?

Le sigh. I just don't know these things.

I do know one thing, though. I'm crazy excited to spend the rest of my life with this guy.