Saturday, February 26, 2011

Easy Dreamy Coconut Ice Cream, 3 ingredients

I am tired of winter. REALLY, really tired of it. I have seen enough snow, sleet, and ice. This is my cure...

So last night I was on baking kick, making the Espresso Chocolate Chip Shortbread. So, I needed ice cream to go with my short bread, naturally. There just were two problems.
1) I was much to lazy to go back to the store for ice cream
2) I don't own an ice cream maker.

What I do own is a great loaf pan. I mixed up a batch of this 3 ingredient ice cream and poured it into the loaf pan. After the mixture set (about 4 hours for me) I used a fork to fluff it up like you would rice and put in back into the fridge for the night.

I chose Coconut because I need something that reminds me of warm days on a sunny beach.
Easy Dreamy Coconut Ice Cream

1 cup milk
1 (15 ounce) can cream of coconut (find in drink mix aisle)
1 ½  cups heavy cream

1. Combine the milk, cream, and cream of coconut in the container of a food processor or blender, and mix thoroughly.
2. Add in flaked coconut if desired or mini chocolate chips. Or if its been that kind of week, both :)

Pour mixture into a loaf pan and freeze 24 hours.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Espresso Chocolate Chip Shortbread

I made these last night and they are divine. I pulled it from Smitten Kitchen (a favorite foodie blog). I diverted from the recipe only slightly. I used coffee instead of espresso because its what I had and I used. 2T. I also don't have gallon size zip-lock bags so I rolled it out between cling-film, wrapped it up and popped it in the fridge. Worked fine.

Created By: Smitten Kitchen

1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
1 tablespoon boiling water
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate minced, or 3/4 cup store-bought mini chocolate chips

1. Dissolve the espresso in the boiling water, and set aside to cool to tepid.

2. Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter and confectioners’ sugar together on medium speed for about 3 minutes, until the mixture is very smooth. Beat in the vanilla and espresso, then reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour, mixing only until it disappears into the dough. Don’t work the dough much once the flour is incorporated. Fold in the chopped chocolate with a sturdy rubber spatula.

3. Using the spatula, transfer the soft, sticky dough to a gallon-size zipper-lock plastic bag. Put the bag on a flat surface, leaving the top open, and roll the dough into a 9 x 10 1/2 inch rectangle that’s 1/4 inch thick. As you roll, turn the bag occasionally and lift the plastic from the dough so it doesn’t cause creases. When you get the right size and thickness, seal the bag, pressing out as much air as possible, and refrigerate the dough for at least 2 hours, or for up to 2 days.

4. Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.

5. Put the plastic bag on a cutting board and slit it open. Turn the firm dough out onto the board (discard the bag) and, using a ruler as a guide and a sharp knife, cut the dough into 1 1/2-inch squares. Transfer the squares to the baking sheets and carefully prick each one twice with a fork, gently pushing the tines through the cookies until they hit the sheet.

6. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, rotating the sheets from top to bottom and front to back at the midway point. The shortbreads will be very pale–they shouldn’t take on much color. Transfer the cookies to a rack.

7. If you’d like, dust the cookies with confectioners’ sugar while they are still hot. Cool the cookies to room temperature before serving.
Notes: I often use 1-2 tablespoon of strongly brewed coffee in its place. I don’t prick the dough and it hasn’t made any difference other than it looks better.

Wondering what to get me for my Birthday?

Well, this is what I want. I want it really really badly! I hope the fella notices this blatant attempt at subtly. He-He!

I just think it would look fabulous in the planter with the English Daisies. If you want one it can be found here on ETSY. I think its $8.00 USD.

*No, I wasn't offered a free one for posting this or advertising for the shop owner. I just like sharing the goodies I find across the inter webs.

Purex Crystals, the new fabric softener

I got a surprise in the mail today. The UPS man showed up with a package for moi. I know, exciting right! I found out a while ago that I was a selected to a Purex Insider. I wasn't expecting a welcome package, but that's what I got. Guess what I was in the middle of today? Did you say loads of laundry, you got it!

Inside the box was a sample bottle of the fabric softener crystals. I immediately tore into it and added it to my next load of laundry. I always use fabric softener on my clothes. That does make it a hassle when I have to set aside my sports/ workout clothes, towels, and the kids pajamas. All have to be washed separately without softener because it effects their ability to wick away water and keep kids clothes fire retardant. That's because most fabric softener is oil based.

With the Purex Crystals I tossed my gym clothes in with the normal load. Because the Crystals are 92% natural they are not oil based and won't adversely effect your clothes. WIN! That is at least one less load of laundry I have to do. Don't you have better things to do? I know I do.

I am hooked. I was able to add it directly to the load when I started it. I don't have to wait (and then forget about) the rinse cycle to add the softener. Again, saving me time. I know this will be a staple in my laundry room.

easy to use
extends life of clothes
keeps clothes fresh for weeks
natural products not oil based

It did have a strong small out of the bottle but when it came out of the washer the sent was very light
It is on the expensive side at over $5 at my Walmart

*I am a Purex Insider. That means that I am able to test new products (at no cost) out before they get to you the consumer. I am honest, some say brutally so. I will not give a good review unless that is how I truly feel.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Balcony Garden day 7

Its day 7. I was starting to worry that my petunias would never pop up from the dirt. I'm pathetic. I actually grabbed the tweezers last night and began gently digging for signs of life. somehow I thought, maybe they are too deep and need my help? Yeah, I need to get out more.

Well, feeling like a fool I noticed that 5 of the 10 petunia seeds had broken the surface. I am giddy. I keep walking over to check on them, and see if anyone else has joined the party.

UPDATE: WE ARE NOW 6 OF 10! 2.23.2011

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Balcony Garden day 5

Some of the seeds have popped up from the soil and it gives me such a zeal for gardening.

These are the English Daisies. I am practically giddy at the thought of them blooming up in the planters. I actually went to the big lots today and bought window boxes on the cheap. $5 a piece with dish. They were $16 at walmart. So if you are trying to garden frugally I highly suggest checking out your local Big Lots or Dollar Tree.

And since I was in the garden section I had to purchase a new packet of seeds. I had to, the Vandy garden gnome made me!!! Bet you don't have him growing in your garden, do you?
I purchased mint. I am going to grow it (fingers crossed) in the window in the kitchen. It gets about 5 hours of sun a day so we will see. I wasn't willing to take it outside after reading stories of it taking over everything. Well here is hoping I have this in a few months.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

What, you think you're going?

That was the question that fella posed to me last night while out celebrating. He has had a hard time working on his prospectus for his PhD. Topics and sources have changed many, many times. But, but, last week he got the go ahead from his committee and the ducks were lining up nicely. Then yesterday evening he asked me to help him find some great archives from Chinese missionary trips. I found some of the best in the world and compiled the list in order of substantial archival information to the most intricate rare specimen ( one photo isn't really worth the trip). So what does that mean? It means grant money and research trips. So we went out to celebrate.

At some point in the evening we started talking about some neat places close to one of the top archives. Me, being a little TYPE-A went ahead and made a google map while I was putting a list together for the top three archives of other excursions. Yes, I got ahead of myself. However, it was at this point when I was telling my fella,"oh my gosh, the best Italian restaurant is three blocks over" he looks at me and says...
"You think you're going?", "Don't you have classes this summer?", "Are you going to get a job?"

I wanted to punch him in the nose. HARD!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

I took a sanity day

I have two classes that I should be in today. Instead I am at home taking a sanity saving day. Both the step-kid and the boyfriend are out of the house until late this evening. I still feel guilty for doing this, gah!

I just got sick of hearing, why aren't there clean dishes, glasses, socks, jeans...and on and on. I was always on top of it when I was a full time stay at home. Now, I have two days off a week and spend most of it in the library doing homework. Now, the boyfriend is home a lot more, he has 3-4 days off a week. What does he do while he's home? If you said the dishes, or laundry you don't know my fella. Instead he plays computer games or watches DVDs while I am out.

So, today I just couldn't stand all the why, and where's and stayed home to tackle the mountain of laundry and run a few loads of dishes. Take the recycling to the center and pick up everyone's crap and put it away. No, my sanity day isn't spent napping or taking a bubble bath, I'm cleaning. F^@K!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Starting the seeds for my garden, Day 1

I had my first garden last year. It was a container garden given that my only outdoor spot was a 2nd floor balcony. One bit gets full sun, another gets partial shade and the back corner is full shade. Last year a learning curve to say the least.

I went to the farmers market and simply picked out flowers I liked the look of. Unfortunately they were almost all full sun flowers. The lasted about a month before giving up and dying. This year I went online and studied what worked well in Shaded areas and container gardens. I have one of each variety this year. I have some cascading petunias for the full sun rail. I bought English daises for the partial sun rail. And the sad back corner will gets lot of color (fingers crossed) with inpatients.

I purchased them as seeds because 1) its cheaper and 2) I like watching them grow and peak through from the dirt. It gives me a real sense of ownership. I should see the first signs of life in about 7 days and the last of them by day 14. Wish me luck that my garden is full of these wonderful flowers this summer...

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Pizza Dough, 4 hour rise

Well, I was home alone and decided to have a pizza for lunch. I swear this is the last one...till I try it again :)

12 oz. (by weight) high gluten flour 
7.4 oz. (by weight) cold water
3/4 tsp. salt
1/4-3/4 tsp. instant dry yeast (depends on cold or quick rise)

12 minutes in a kitchen aid mixer @ 2-speed
rise on counter for 4 hours
cook in a 500 degree oven
Makes one 16" pizza.

Still saving swagbucks

Like a lot of you I saved my swagbucks and cashed out for Amazon Gift Cards $5 last year. I banked them in my Amazon account, watching it grow...slowly. When December rolled around I made a list of gifts to give and went shopping on Amazon. I was able to pay for it entirely with my gift card balance. Thank goodness in the current economic climate.

But this year I am trying something else. My sweetie is putting money into a Christmas fund at the bank. I am using my earnings from another site to receive pay-pal and that goes into savings. What about the swagbucks? Those are now covering the little expencese that crop up along the way.

I need new measuring spoons. I have bought the cheep, plastic $5 sets at least four times in the last two years. This time I am investing about $25 in a stainless steal magnetic set that will last a lifetime. It is a bigger invest meant (yes, even at $25) up front but in the long haul worth it. That is where we are directing swagbucks this year. We want to use it to offset buying a more expensive investment item than the cheapest thing we can get away with using. I will keep you posted on the shopping!

If you are new to Swagbucks I highly suggest you look it over and sign up. Here's why--->
It’s a fun site that gives you “Swag Bucks” for doing things like searching the web, doing surveys, shopping, and voting in polls.  These Swag Bucks can be redeemed for all manner of swag: books, magazines, jewelry, movies, sports cards, music, gift cards, and lots more. ***I’ve also tipped my hand as to what the best deal on gift cards from Swag Bucks is:  Amazon gift cards.  They’re only 450 SB for a $5 Amazon code.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

A lazy girls Red Sauce

It is snowing, again. It is snowing hard, again. I am comforting myself with carbs and butter on this lazy day.

I always have a package of Buitoni mushroom filled pasta in my freezer. It cooks in minutes and always satisfies my craving love of pasta. Today I wasn't in the mood for a mere drizzle of olive oil. Nope today I needed Red Sauce! But-- I already told you I was being lazy, so what gives? I have a simple recipe for the sauce that comes together quick and is super versatile.

Lazy Red Sauce
1 14.5oz tin of tomato puree
1/4 cup water
3 teaspoons olive oil
3 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
pinch of sugar
handful of Parmesan cheese

I combine all of the ingredients in that order in a sauce pot and let it simmer for 10 minutes with a splatter screen over it. Its done, go eat some pasta.
By the way, it usually keeps about 3 days in the fridge and a few months in the freezer.

I am a Purex Insider

I received a email last night informing I had been selected as a Purex Insider!!! I will get to review new products and share the news with you. I will be able to do giveaways so that you too will know how fabulous Purex is. I am looking forward to this for myself and for my blog.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The lady needs a spa day...

And so the boyfriend provides. February 3 was our 4 year anniversary. Let me tell you, that man spoiled me rotten!!! He arranged for us to have a private and personalized wine tasting at The Wine Loft. I was super happy with the wine selection. The food was good but defiantly not great. We ordered the shrimp and blue cheese pastries.

Only three of the four advertised came out. Our waitress told us one more was in the oven and she would bring it out when it was ready. I was a bit confused over that hick-up, is it really hard to put four in the oven at the same time? It basically boils down to puff pastry with one shrimp inside with too much blue cheese and some walnuts. A very little bit of chili oil drizzled on top. We both left the restaurant starving even after our shared dessert, a small slice of key lime pie.

Then we came home to unwrap gifts. I was practically giddy at the thought. The Boyfriend gave me Bridget Jones' Diary. An all time favorite for me. Then, I got the first season of the Tudors. I have been moaning for a while now that I am the only person who hasn't seen the hit show. I guess shushing me was a gift for us both.

But the Prize of the night. I got a spa package. The spa is Apropos in the Green Hills area of Nashville. It includes and hour long hot stone massage, hand massage and manicure and paraffin dip with my pedicure. I can't freaking wait to go. I am however waiting to make the appointment until the snow is gone. I am not wasting a pedicure on snow boots. I am dreaming of those 3 hrs of bliss.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Missing London today...

I am missing London terrible today. Sometimes it just sneaks up and hits me and sometimes I barely even think about my beloved city. So what happened?

I was doing some grocery shopping and noticed a new specialty isle toward the back of the store. Now, I live in the middle of nowhere (capital of Tennessee) so specialty calls to me. I need special in my life. I approach the isle and see something chocolaty. Cadburys. Then, brown sauce. etc... Now individually they may not seem special (well, the Cadbury is always special) but it was an entire isle dedicated to British food items.

This was not the food emporium of Harrods, but it was a little something to hold on to until I jump the pond again.

Friday, February 4, 2011

baking somthing up in the oven... (White Chocolate Lemon Cake)

As if! There is no baby in there.

Actually it is the boyfriend's mother's birthday. She always makes other people a pound cake on their birthday so I thought I would make her a cake. I, personally, am a little sick of pound cake so I am making a white chocolate cake with lemon curd filling. I like this recipe because it starts with a cake mix. It is Jamie/fool proof! And really how bad can a cake be if you doctor it up with white chocolate and a layer of lemon curd?
Yes, I will post some food porn for you when it comes out of the oven.

White Chocolate Lemon Cake
by Anne Byrn


  • Solid vegetable shortening for greasing the pans
  • Flour for dusting the pans
  • 6 ounces white chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1 package (18.25 ounces) plain white cake mix
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • Lemony White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting (see below)
  • 1/2 cup store-bought lemon curd (half of a 10-ounce jar)
1. Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F.

2. Generously grease two 9-inch round cake pans with solid vegetable shortening, then dust with flour. Shake out the excess flour. Set the pans aside.

3. Melt the white chocolate in a small glass bowl in the microwave oven for 1 minute. Remove the bowl from the oven and stir with a small rubber spatula until it is smooth.

4. Place the cake mix, water, oil, whole eggs, egg whites, lemon juice and lemon zest in a large mixing bowl. Pour in the slightly cooled white chocolate. Blend with an electric mixer on low speed for 1 minute.

5. Stop the machine and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat 2 minutes more, scraping down the sides again if needed. The batter should look well combined.

6. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans, smoothing it out with the rubber spatula. Place the pans in the oven side by side.

7. Bake the cakes until they are golden brown and spring back when lightly pressed with your finger, 28 to 32 minutes. Remove the pans from the oven and place them on wire racks to cool for 10 minutes.

8. Run a dinner knife around the edge of each layer and invert each into a rack, then invert again onto another rack so that the cakes are right side up. Allow to cool completely, 30 minutes more.

9. Meanwhile, prepare the Lemony White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting (see recipe below).

10. Place one cake layer, right side up, on a serving platter. Spread the top with the lemon curd. Place the second layer, right side up, on top of the first layer and frost the top and sides of the cake with frosting.

11. Place this cake, uncovered or in a cake saver, in the refrigerator until the frosting sets, 20 minutes.

* Then store it, in a cake saver or under a glass dome, at room temperature for up to 3 days, or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Or freeze it, wrapped in aluminum foil or in a cake saver, for up to 6 months. Thaw the cake overnight in the refrigerator before serving.

Ingredients for the Frosting

  • 6 ounces white chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • 3 cups confectioner's sugar, sifted

Directions for the Frosting

1. Place the white chocolate in a small glass bowl in the microwave oven on high power for 1 minute. Remove the bowl from the oven and stir with a wooden spoon or a rubber spatula until it is smooth. Set the chocolate aside to cool.

2. Place the cream cheese and butter in a large mixing bowl. Beat with an electric mixer on low speed until well-combined, 30 seconds. Stop the machine.

3.Add the lemon juice, lemon zest and melted white chocolate, and blend on low speed until just combined. Add the confectioners' sugar and blend on low speed until the sugar is incorporated, 30 seconds.

4. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat until the frosting is fluffy, 1 minute more.

5. Use to frost the top and sides of the cake of your choice.

*I shaved a little of my leftover chocolate over the top of the cake for that tah-dah! effect

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Kitchen rut

I can very easily get stuck in a rut in the kitchen. For the last year I have been obsessed with making a really good (not perfect) New York Style pizza. I have come close some times, I have also missed the bark entirely one most occasions. I have invested money in specialty tools, and wasted days waiting for three day rises on doughs. Why?

I can't say. I love pizza. It is one of my favorite foods and in my opinion you can't beat NYC style. But today I made my last rutty pizza of the quest. I just don't feel like putting more effort into the search and constantly being disappointed. I will probably make pizza on occasion but it will no longer be a once a week dinner feature like it has been.

So, are you wondering about my new obsession? It is actually to try a new recipe every two weeks. Lets face it, every week it a stretch with out schedule but with two weeks I can realistically plan, shop and execute.