Thursday, May 31, 2012

Scrambled Eggs

Mixing different ingredients with scrambled eggs is one of my favorite things to do because it's easy, tasty, and even I don't need a recipe to do it.  I'm often surprised because when I post pics of my scrambled eggs creations on facebook they are often my food pics that get the most "likes" and comments.

Here are 5 scrambled eggs creations I have done:

The Spicy Scramble:
Scramble eggs and add pepper and tomatoes.  Once cooked turn off burner and mix in shredded habenero cheese and cilantro while dish is still hot.  Serve with salsa.

Veggies, Herbs, & Feta Scramble:
Depending on the veggies I'm using I sometimes sautee some of them alone first then add the eggs to scramble.  Sometimes I just first add the veggies right in with the eggs as I scramble them.  For this specific picture I sauteed broccoli, mushrooms, and onions in a skillet.  I then added the mixed up eggs to the pan along with tomatoes, spinach, garlic chives, thyme, rosemary, and oregano.  Once cooked I turned off the burner and mixed in feta cheese.

Veggies, Herbs, & Feta Scramble In A Wrap:
Basically the same as the one above it but this time I used some different veggies.  This one consisted of onions, asparagus, snow peas, broccoli, shitake mushrooms, green peppers, rosemary, thyme, oregano, and feta cheese added after the burner is off.  The main difference here is that I then served it in a spinach wrap.  Yummy!

Colby Scramble

Scramble egges with onions, spinach, tomatoes, and add colby jack cheese

Naked Quiche:
This was inspired by the book Simple Food for Busy Families.

There are a variety of combinations you could use to make a naked quiche so get creative.  The main thing is to preheat oven to 375 degrees, spray (butter, grease, oil, whatever you do) a pie pan.  Whisk eggs, milk, and the spices you want to use together.  Put whatever other ingredients (veggies, meats, cheeses) you are using in the pie pan and pour the egg mixture over them.  Feel free to add extra spices to the top if you so desire.  Cook until it is set and lightly browned on the top (approx 30-50 minutes).
For mine I used mushrooms, peppers, onions, rosemary, oregano, and feta cheese.  It was a simple way to use the veggies I had.  I'm looking forward to making other variations of this in the future!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Beef Tenderloin with Brandied Mushrooms

The Earth Bound Cook has been a great cookbook to me.  I have made multiple things from it and all have been absolutely amazing!

For the past 2 Easters my mom has come to my house and I have cooked the Easter meal.  Our family tradition was to have leg of lamb on Easter, but that's a lot for just two people and lamb leftovers aren't very good so I went to my cookbooks to find something else.  I made a menu of options for my mom and for the main course she chose Tenderloin of Beef with Brandied Mushrooms from this cookbook.  For exact recipe click the title or the pic of the cookbook and buy it!  Cheap price for great recipes!

If you are going to make this, you have to remember to plan ahead.  One or two days before having the meal you must get the meat ready which includes rubbing it in olive oil and pepper, covering it in tarragon leaves, and wrapping in tightly in plastic wrap.  Leave it in the fridge until a couple hours before cooking it.

I also make the brandied mushrooms one day ahead of time.  I have a hard time cooking multiple things at once and timing everything to be ready at the same time so doing as much ahead of time when I have multiple dishes helps a lot.

To make the brandied mushrooms you soften dried mushrooms.  I used a combo of shitake and porcini.

Save the soaking liquid! and chop up the mushrooms.  Then you heat chicken stock & the soaking liquid.

In a skillet soften shallots and fresh cremini mushrooms in butter.  Add the rest of the mushrooms and some garlic.  Finally you get to add the brandy and also some red wine :)

Once you have cooked that to the point that liquid has mostly evaporated you add the mixture of the soaking liquid and stock and some balsamic vinegar.  The first time I made this I did everything and tasted it and thought "oh, that's good" and then realized I'd forgotten the balsamic vinegar.  It is only 1 teaspoon, but that made all the difference, it went from "oh, that's good" to "oh my gosh!  that's amazing!"

After adding those things add creme fraiche.  True confession, I'd never heard of that until making this.  The cookbook provides a recipe for making your own and the first year I made it that's what I did, this past Easter I just bought some from the store.  Also add some chopped up tarragon and your brandied mushrooms are complete!

The day of remove the wrapping from the beef and the tarragon leaves and cook to your taste preference (Mom and I like rare).  Reheat the brandied mushrooms (if you made them the day before) and serve over the meat.

The first time I made this my mom said it was the best meal she'd ever had, and her mom was a GREAT cook so that is a compliment!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012


Sangria is delicious and great for a hot day.  Luckily it is also easy to make and is flexible with ingredients/can be made to your tastes.  My old roomies and I had the best front porch ever.  We loved to sit on it and swing on our porch swing and watch the neighborhood happen on warm days.  One Spring day last year when it had been hot a couple days in a row and was feeling more like summer we decided on a whim we wanted to make it.  The only ingredient we didn't have was ginger ale.  These are the times that living right beside your friend comes in handy.  He happened to have some and agreed to let us use it if we shared our sangria with him.

We looked up multiple sangria recipes online to get the main idea and then went to work.

We used red wine, brandy, ginger ale, lemon, oranges, strawberries, and apples. 

You can use any red wine or a mixture of red wines.  You only put one shot of brandy in, I think you could change up the liquor you use too if you wanted.  Instead of ginger ale you can use club soda.  And any fruits in it would be good.

The flavor will be best if you mix it up and allow it to chill overnight in the fridge, but we didn't plan ahead to make it and wanted instant gratification and it wasn't dissapointing at all.  Just serve it over ice and it's tasty and refreshing!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Spring Celebration Soup

Just a little less than a month of spring left so figured I needed to get this Spring Celebration Soup posted ASAP! 

I bought my brother and sis-in-law the cookbook Simply in Season for Christmas a couple years ago. 

I just visted them last November and they showed me the book.  It had stains, pages falling out, etc. because they love it and use it so much!  My old roommate had this book also and when I moved out I had to buy myself a copy because I missed it so much!  It tells you what foods are in season and gives great recipes for those foods.

The Spring Celebration Soup is so good!  Light and refreshing.  I could eat a ton of it.  For the full details of the recipe you'll have to get the book (click on the title for a link to purchase it on Amazon) and I promise you won't regret it!

The soup includes sauteeing garlic, green onions, and carrots.
Then add asparagus, broth, lemon juice, and salt.
Once asparagus is cooked add spinach and parsley.
When you serve it add basil and parmesan cheese to each bowl.

This is one of my most favorite soups!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Apricot Chicken

In my last post I mentioned working at a camp in Maryland. Two of the wonderful friends I made there, Jenna and Liz, and I met up in Michigan one weekend a couple summers later.  We decided to make dinner together and Jenna said she had a great chicken recipe for us to try.  When she told me the ingredients- apricot jam, french dressing, and onion soup mix- I wasn't convinced, but she assured us that we wouldn't be dissapointed.  As you can tell by this picture- we weren't!  We forgot to take a picture of our meal before we completely cleaned our plates!
I know it sounds strange, but this recipe is simple and really good.  I've made it for others since making it with Jenna and Liz and everyone who's tried it has loved it.

Chicken breasts
A small jar of apricot jam
1/2 a bottle of french dressing
1 package of dry onion soup mix

Preheat oven to 350
Mix jam, dressing, and soup mix together.  Pour over chicken breasts in a baking pan.
Bake for about an hour

You'll love it!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Coffee Tin French Toast

For 2 summers I worked at a camp on the Chesepeake Bay in Maryland.  While working there one of the classes I taught was outdoor living skills.  My best friend from the camp and I taught the class together sometimes and one day we decided to make french toast over a fire on the beach with coffee tins.  How fun!

Simply mix up your french toast mixture- eggs, vanilla, cinnamon, and milk.
Build a fire.
You don't want the fire flaming so let it burn down to mostly coals.
Put coffee tins on top of fire and let them heat up.
Put butter on coffee tins.
Dip bread slices in french toast mixture and place on coffee tin, cook on both sides and you are done!  Add your syrup and eat up!

Our campers loved doing this and so did we! 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Veggie Soup

This is actually the soup from the "GM diet."  I saw it on Pinterest, I'm pretty sure GM didn't actually create it, but from what I could find it didn't seem to be harmful so I tried the diet.  I had a friend who lost 7 lbs on it, I lost nothing, BUT I actually liked the soup for it and so did a friend of mine who tried it so while I don't think I'll repeat the diet ever, I probably will make the soup from it again.

It's simple-
Cabbage, onions, green pepper, celery & any other veggies you wish (I used asparagus, zucchini, and yellow squash).  Put all of those in a pot of water, bring to a boil, stir in dry onion soup mix, and slow cook until veggies are done.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Dr. Seuss Themed Birthday Party

Last weekend was my friend's birthday party.  I agreed to help her plan it and she said she wanted it to be a Dr. Seuss theme.  I immediately went to Pinterest and all the Dr. Seuss stories that I own for ideas.  This post will not just inclue the food I did for the party, but also the decorations, games, etc.

For decorations we went to the local party supply store, but they didn't have any specific Dr. Seuss things.  We found a hot air balloon decoration that we got (Oh The Places You'll Go), balloons, and streamers, but went to a teacher supply store for the rest of the things.  This was the jackpot.  We found cut-outs, banners, posters, etc. 
We put out the Dr. Seuss books we have on display for decorations and for people to look at if they wanted.  I also bought Dr. Seuss's Happy Birthday To You and had it out for everyone to sign as a gift for the birthday girl.

Another part of the decorations and also a fun activity we had was a photo booth.  We used a red table cover as the backdrop, put Dr. Seuss character cut outs around it, and put star stickers & Dr. Seuss happy birthday banners and ballons on it.  We also had fun props like a red & white beaded necklace, Cat in the Hat hats, and stick-on mustaches.  This looked great, was fun, and left us with some great pics for memories!

For every event and food of the party I had a quote from a Dr. Seuss book to go with it.  Our friend plays a french horn so I asked her to bring it.  I gathered everyone together so we could officially start the party and read this quote from Happy Birthday To You- "“In Katroo, every year, on the day you were born they start the day right in the bright early morn when the Birthday Honk-Honker hikes high up Mr. Zorn and let loose a big blast on the Big Birthday Horn.  And the voice of the horn calls out loud as it plays: ‘Wake Up! For today is your Day of all Days!’” And then our friend let out a big birthday blast on her french horn & the party was officially started.

You may have noticed in one of the photo booth pictures a dog wearing a rudolph "hat."  Before puting this on my dog Pickles I read this from The Grinch- “’If I can’t find a reindeer, I’ll make one instead!’ So he called his dog, Max.  Then he took some red thread and he tied a big horn on the top of his head.”

I then read a quote from The Sneetches- “When the Star-Belly children went out to play ball, could a Plain Belly get in the game…? Not at all.  When the Star-Belly sneetches had frankfurter roasts or picnics or parties or marshmallow toasts, they never invited the Plain-Belly Sneetches.  They left them out cold, in the dark of the beaches.” I then gave everyone a green star sticker and we had a cookout and played volleyball.
 Inside a table was set up with all the themed goodies I had made.  This is what took the most time and work, but was probably the coolest part (at least in my opinion).

I made "Oh The Places You'll Go" cookies.  These are actually called rainbow pinwheel cookies, but are the colors from that book and remind me of the cover of it.  I used this as the recipe-

I made up the bag Betty Crocker Sugar Cookie Mix, divided the dough up evenly in 5 sections, and used neon food coloring (I didn't know there was such a thing!) to dye each section.

To make each cookie I rolled each color into a grape sized balls and then took a grape sized ball of each color and rolled it into a bigger ball.  Don't roll it together too much.  Remember how you learned when you mix a bunch of colors together it turns a yucky brown color? 

Then I rolled that ball into a "snake."  Here I first ran into difficulty with it sticking and coming apart so I put flour on a towel to roll it in.  But if I rolled it directly in the flour it become too "floury" and fell apart.  (Many of you are probably saying "duh" at this point, but remember in my "welcome" post I explained what an amateur I am at this stuff!)  So with each ball I lightly rolled it in some flour, or put flour on my hands and then on the ball before rolling it into a "snake."

I then coiled the "snake" around, trying to twist it as best I could as I did and rolled the edges of the cookie in rainbow sprinkles.

I baked them at 350 for 10 minutes.  If you went to the link of the recipe I provided you will see beautiful, perfect cookies.  I kept getting better as I made these cookies, but they definitely did not turn out like the picture.  Concerned it was just me being a loser I googled "rainbow pinwheel cookies" and checked out the images.  I saw many "normal" people's attempts at these cookies and was happy to see they too turned out like mine, or worse.  While they didn't look like the pros', I still think they looked pretty awesome and of all the food I made they are the ones that (looks-wise) impressed people the most.

With each food I made, I made a place card with a picture and quote with the story it was from.  I used index cards & folded them to stand up on their own.  For the "Oh The Places You'll Go" cookies the quote was "Today is your day!  Your mountain is waiting.  So..get on your way!"

Another food I made was turtles for Yertle the Turtle.  This was the simplest thing I made, but what everyone ate the most of.  Simply take mini pretzels, put a rolo on top of each, put them in an oven preheated at 300 degrees, bake for 4 minutes.  As soon as you take them out of the oven press a pecan half down on them.  I then put them in the fridge to cool and harden.

With this the quote from Yertle the Turtle was "The turtles had everything turtles might need.  And they were all happy.  Quite happy indeed."

For McElligot's Pool I made blue jell-o with Swedish fish candies in them.  Just make blueberry jell-o, put in clear cups, and put in fridge.  Once it has started to set but isn't fully set, place in the Swedish fish.  If it sinks to the bottom, you are putting it in too early.  In some of these I also put vodka.  I made sure to label the alcoholic vs. non-alcoholic!

I got the ideas for these from here  However, she says she mixed blueberry and lemon jell-o and got the perfect color she was looking for.  For me however this turned the jell-o green.  A nice sea green, but I wanted the lighter blue which is what shows in her pictures, but didn't work for me (common sense would tell me blue & yellow make green, but I trusted what I read).  Just using blueberry jell-o gave me the perfect color.  This person also says she put fish "lollies" in some of them.  I don't know what she meant by lollies, but maybe that would have worked better than the Swedish fish.  I suggest making these the day of if possible because the fish got a bit slimy the next day from the jell-o.  Still tasted fine but didn't look as good.  The quote from McElligot's Pool for this one was “If I wait long enough; if I’m patient and cool, who knows what I’ll catch in McElligot’s Pool!  I might catch a thin fish, I might catch a stout fish, I might catch a short or a long, long drawn-out fish!”

I also made Thing 1 and Thing 2 cupcakes and got the idea from here-  I used Paula Deen's red velvet cupcakes w/cream cheese frosting recipe for these-  I put them in red cupcake papers and for the frosting I used neon blue food coloring as Thing 1 & Thing 2's hair.
At the party I added blue cotton candy as well to look like the crazy-sticking-up hair of Thing 1 & Thing 2.  Immediately it was cute, but the cotton candy melted pretty quickly.  If I were to do it again I would just stick with the dyed frosting and forgo the cotton candy.

The quote from The Cat And The Hat used with these was “’In this box are two things I will show to you now.  You will like these two things,’ said the cat with a bow. ‘I will pick up the hook.  You will see something new.  Two things.  And I call them Thing One and Thing Two.”

We also had our very own Thing 1 & Thing 2 (of sorts...) at the party (the benefits of an ADULT Dr. Seuss themed party...:).

I made deviled eggs and dyed the yolk green.  These were disappointing.  I loved deviled eggs but wasn't happy with how they turned out.  I found on Pinterest that you could bake eggs to make "hard-boiled" eggs and since it seemed much easier, that's what I did.  I think generally this would be great; however, I learned my oven is different than the person who posted how to do it and they got a little too done.  Not horrible though.  I used the first recipe that came up when I googled deviled eggs and did not like the taste of it very much so I'm not even going to share it.  I need to ask my mom for hers...I always loved those!  So make hard-boiled eggs however you do, and use your favorite recipe for deviled eggs and use green food coloring when you mix the yolks.
The quote from Green Eggs and Ham for this was simply "Do you like green eggs and ham?"
The birthday girl also has a friend in Kansas that makes amazing cakes and cookies so I ordered some from her and she provided us with some great Green Eggs cookies!  Her name is Anne and here is a link to her blog-  She can ship cookies anywhere so you should order some from her!  She also made me some for my birthday that were gnomes, toadstools, and trees.

She also made Cat In The Hat hat cookies for us.  We made our own version of Cat in the Hat hats by putting layers of red jell-o and redi-whip in clear plastic cups.  I got this idea from (her picture is much better than mine!). Simple, yummy, and cute!  The quote used for these was “Then he said, ‘That is that.’ And then he was gone with a tip of his hat.”

That is all that I made for the party.  But I also put out Jelly Bellies as "Truffula Seeds" from The Lorax with the quote “’You’re in charge of the last of the Truffula Seeds. And the Truffula Trees are what everyone needs’”
I put goldfish crackers inside a teapot.  I got this idea from  The quote I put by it was from Cat In The Hat- “He came down with a bump from up there on the ball.  And Sally & I, we saw ALL the things fall!  And our fish came down, too.  He fell into the pot!  He said, ‘Do I like this? Oh, no!  I do not.”

I popped popcorn, put it in a bowl, and labeled it Hop on Pop-Corn with a quote Hop On Pop- "Hop Pop.  We like to hop.  We like to hop on top of Pop."
I also put out the colored goldfish crackers.  Unfortunately they have green in them and not blue.  But I still put them out with this quote- “One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish.”
A basket of fruit I labeled "Truffula Fruit" and put a quote from The Lorax- “And, under the trees, I saw the Brown Bar-ba-loots frisking about in their Bar-ba-loot suits as they played in the shade and ate Truffula Fruits.”
I made up the pink lemonade mix and labeled it Pink Yink Ink with a quote from One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish- "The thing he likes to drink is ink.  The ink he likes to drink is pink.  He likes to wink and drink pink ink."
And here is a pic of the entire spread-

To come up with games for the party I looked through the Dr. Seuss stories I had and made ones up that I thought went along with quotes I found.  I was afraid a group of adults would not be in to some of these silly games, but everyone was a great sport and enjoyed them!  We bought prizes from the Dollar Tree and dollar bin at Target and also found Dr. Seuss "diplomas" from the teacher store so everyone who won a game got to pick a prize and then received a diploma signed by Dr. Seuss :).  The grand prize of the final game was 2 goldfish (we bought 2 incase one died before the party...)!

As I mentioned before we played volleyball and with that I read this quote from Oh The Places You'll Go- “Oh, the places you’ll go!  There is fun to be done!  There are points to be scored.  There are games to be won.  And the magical things you can do with that ball will make you the winning-est winner of all.”

We also played a game of partner Hide & Go Seek to search for our friends as Horton searched for the clover in Horton Hears a Who- “’I’ll find it!’ Cried Horton. ‘I’ll find it or bust! I SHALL find my friends on my small speck of dust!’ And clover, by clover, by clover with care he picked up and searched them, and called, ‘Are you there?’”  We played this as Partner Hide & Go Seek.  Everyone one got a partner.  One set of partners was "It" and gave everyone 5 minutes to hide.  The rules for hiding was it had to be on the apartment complex property but could not be inside a building or car.  Partners hid together and the partners who were it searched together.

In Yertle The Turtle, Yertle's throne of turtles came crashing down because one turtle burped- “That plain little turtle below in the stack, that plain little turtle whose name was just Mack, decided he’d taken enough.  And he had. And that plain little lad got a little bit mad and that plain little Mack did a plain little thing.  He burped! And his burp shook the throne of the king.” And so we had a burping contest.

Also for Yertle The Turtle we played Jenga- “He made each turtle stand on another one’s back and he piled them all up in a nine-turtle stack.”  To get one winner for this we did it elimination style.  If you made the tower fall you were out and then the remaining players played again.  We played this at the end of the party when there weren't as many people.

Despite everyone being stuffed from the cookout and goodies we had an eating contest which went along with Green Eggs & Ham- “You do not like them, so you say.  Try them! Try them! And you may.  Try them and you may, I say.”  Two people volunteered (myself being one of them) for the contest.  Everyone else went to the kitchen and made a "concoction" for us.  I'm not sure what all they put it in, but it was a strange, not so tasty mixture.  They filled 2 plastic cups half-way with the stuff and the person who fnished it first won (this was not me).

From this quote from The Lorax- “…’I will call you by Whisper-ma-Phone, for the secrets I tell are for your ears alone.’ SLUPP! Down slupps the Whisper-ma-Phone to your ear and old Once-ler’s whispers are not very clear, since they have to come down through a snergelly hose, and he sounds as if he had smallish bees up his nose” I came up with playing the game Telephone.  We wrote down each person's original saying and then what it turned into and the one that changed the most was the winner.
Like the Cat In The Hat, we too played a balancing game- “’Look at me!  Look at me!  Look at me NOW! It is fun to have fun but you have to know how.  I can hold up the cup and the milk and the cake!  I can hold up these books!  And the fish on a rake!  I can hold the toy ship and a little toy man!  And look!  With my tail I can hold a red fan!  I can fan with the fan as I hop on the ball!  But that is not all.  Oh, no.  That is not all…”  Each contestant balanced a book on their head then the each gradually added things to it (Jenga blocks, apples, coasters, etc.) until only one was left balancing things.

There were 2 games I came up with that we didn't get to at the party.  One was a blindfolded relay I came up with from an Oh The Places You'll Go quote- “You’ll get mixed up, of course, as you already know.  You’ll get mixed up with many strange birds as you go.  So be sure when you step.  Step with care and great tact and remember that Life’s a Great Balancing Act.  Just never forget to be dexterous and deft.  And never mix up your right foot with your left.”  For this game I had planned to have 2 contestants.  We would have an obstacle course set out for them which they would be able to look at and then they would be blindfolded.  We would spin each one around 3 times.  The rest of the party goers would be divided into two groups.  One group would shout out directions for one contestant to help them get through (such as "go left," "step over," "go 3 steps forward," etc.) and the other group for the other.  This would be happening at the same time so it would be very confusing for the contestants trying to get through the obstacle course, but the one who got through it first would win.

The other was a team game and it came from Happy Birthday To You- “If you wish I will find you the tallest of all!  To find who’s the tallest we start with the smallest…  We start with the smallest.  Then what do we do?  We line them all up.  Back to back.  Two by two.  Taller and taller.  And, when we are through.  We finally will find one who’s taller than who.”  We'd divide the party goers up into two teams and they'd have to line themselves up shortest to tallest.  The team who did it correctly the fastest would win.

And of course in addition to all of this we had cake!  Before the cake and singing  I read a quote from Happy Birthday To You- “'LOOK! Dr. Derring’s Singing Herrings!  Derrings Singing, Spelling Herrings!  See what Derring’s Herrings do!  They sing and spell it!  All for you!  And here comes your cake!  Cooked by Snookers & Snookers, the Official Katroo Happy Birthday Cake Cookers.”

The cake was an ice cream cake from Baskin Robins.  It was part vanilla cake and part oreo ice cream and had a picture of Horton on it.  We just googled Horton Hears A Who coloring pages and the birthday girl picked a simple image she liked and we took it to Baskin Robins and they were able to do it.

Before lighting the candles I made a toast to the birthday girl by reading from Happy Birthday To You- “Today is your birthday!  Today you are you!  If you didn’t have birthdays, you wouldn’t be you.  If you’d never been born, well then what would you do?  If you’d never been born, well then what would you be?  You might be a fish!  Or a toad in a tree!  You might be a doorknob!  Or three baked potatoes!  You might be a bag full of hard green tomatoes.  Or worse than all that…Why, you might be a WASN’T! A Wasn’t has no fun at all.  No, he doesn’t.  A Wasn’t just isn’t.  He just isn’t present.  But you…you ARE YOU! And, now isn’t that pleasant!”
This party was a lot of fun and everyone enjoyed themselves!  The ideas for this party are great because they can be enjoyed by kids (except the alcoholic McElligot's Pool jell-o!) and adults (at least if your friends are as cool as mine!).