A New Post? Whaaaaaa?!

So, it seems to me that I’ve been gone for a quick minute….almost. I’ve been so busy with school and work I haven’t had time to update my blog, BUTTTTTT I have been on Pinterest.

That could only mean one thing….come find me and follow me. I have over 15 thousand pins (I can safely admit I have a problem) and over 42 thousand followers. I have lots of cooking/baking boards as well as drink boards because every one loves a good beverage now and again. Plus there’s lots of other things I love!

Click the following link to check out my pinterest. If you have a pinterest you want me to check out comment below with the link. Also leave your personal pinterest and I’ll follow you ūüôā

Nicole’s Pinterst ūüôā¬†

Grandma Betty’s Meatballs

Pasta. Sauce. Meatballs. It’s essential. Here is a recipe I came across on The Parsley Thief‘s blog. Not only do they give you their grandma’s recipe, but a homemade sauce recipe as well. Check out their site as well as the recipe below:

Makes 16 – 2″ meatballs, and enough sauce for 1 lb. of pasta

For the Meatballs:

  • 1 3/4 cups fresh¬†bread crumbs (3 3/4 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup¬†milk
  • 2 pounds¬†ground beef
  • 3/4 cups freshly grated¬†Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
  • 2 large¬†eggs, beaten
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped¬†flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 teaspoon¬†sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper (about 10 grinds)

For the Sauce:

  • 2 (28 ounce)¬†cans of whole, peeled tomatoes¬†(I like to use¬†San Marzano tomatoes)
  • 1 large clove¬†garlic,¬†smashed
  • 4 tablespoons¬†butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon¬†sea salt,¬†or to taste

Directions:

  • Begin a double, modified batch of¬†Tomato Sauce with Onion & Butter¬†{or your favorite Marinara Sauce recipe} by adding all of the ‘Sauce‘ ingredients listed above to a large, heavy saucepan, and bringing the mixture to a boil, over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer, and cook, uncovered, for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Begin the meatballs by preheating the oven to 350 degrees. Add the bread crumbs to a large mixing bowl, and pour in the milk. Toss to coat the bread crumbs, and let them soak for 10 minutes.
  • Add all of the remaining ‘Meatball‘ ingredients to the bread crumb mixture, and mix gently, using your hands. You want to mix just until all of the ingredients are evenly distributed, but¬†try to avoid over-mixing.
  • Using your hands, shape the mixture into 2″ balls, and lay them out on a baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes, then use tongs to transfer the meatballs to the sauce. Simmer the meatballs in the sauce for another 10-15 minutes. Serve with your choice of pasta, topped with an extra sprinkle of grated Parmesan.


Some Notes/Options [Straight from The Parsley Thief]

  • Store-bought, dry bread crumbs can be used in a pinch, but making your own is worth the effort, whenever possible.To make your own fresh breadcrumbs, process sliced bread in a food processor until evenly ground. Or, you can cube fresh, or day-old bread {crusts removed} by hand. Any type of sandwich bread will do – you can even use whole wheat, if that’s your preference. I have given the proportion of bread crumbs by dry measure, and by weight, to make this easier.
  • ¬†For the sauce, I like to use a modified version of Marcella Hazan’s¬†Tomato Sauce with Onion & Butter¬†because it’s the best tomato sauce I’ve ever tasted! I’ve modified it, ¬†because as written I find it to be too rich for serving with meatballs {but fantastic alone with pasta}. You can also substitute your favorite Marinara Sauce recipe, or even use your favorite jarred sauce –¬†I won’t judge, and have been known to do so myself on many a pressed-for-time, weeknight dinner occasion!¬†My most favorite jarred sauce is¬†‘Michael’s of Brooklyn’¬†Marinara – which is expensive, but worth every penny!
  • If you use extra-lean ground beef {i.e. ground sirloin, or 90% lean} you’ll need to line your baking sheet with parchment, or give it a quick coating of non-stick cooking spray, to prevent the meatballs from sticking.¬†
  • Over the years, I’ve made many a ‘fried’ meatball. Your Italian grandmother may tell you this is the only way to go, and there’s no question it’s delicious! But it also creates a big mess, and requires much more time standing over a hot stove. Not to mention, baking them is healthier.¬†However, if you’d prefer the frying method, simply follow the instructions as is, but to cook the meatballs¬†–¬†Heat¬†a tablespoon of oil¬†in a heavy skillet, over medium-high heat. Add some¬†flour¬†to a shallow plate, or bowl, and roll each formed meatball in the flour, tapping off any excess. Fry the meatballs in batches, until evenly browned on all sides. Transfer the meatballs to a paper towel lined plate when done. Add the browned meatballs all at once to the sauce, and let them simmer until cooked through, about 30 minutes for 2″ meatballs.
Enjoy! xo

Monster Cookie Dough Cupcakes

I’m on Pinterest¬†minding my own business and BAM, I come across this suckers. Do you see how delicious those cupcakes look?! Anyways, courtesy of Something Swanky¬†here is the recipe to remake these bad boys. Check out the site for more recipes that have step-by-step instructions (that include pictures) on fun recipes and check out the recipe below:

For the Cupcakes:

  • 1 Tbsp. Peanut Butter
  • 1 Tbsp. Butter
  • 1/4 c. Flour
  • 2 Tbsp. Sugar
  • 1 Egg White
  • 1/2 tsp. Baking Powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. Milk
  • a teensy splash of vanilla
  • a small handful of Chocolate Chips

For the Cookie Dough Frosting:

  • 2 Tbsp. Peanut Butter
  • 2 Tbsp. Margarine or Butter (softened to room temperature)
  • 2 Tbsp. Flour
  • 2 Tbsp. Brown Sugar
  • 1/2 c. Oats
  • 3/4 c. Powdered Sugar
  • 2-3 Tbsp. Milk
  • a handful of plain M&Ms
  • a handful of Chocolate Chips

Instructions:

For the Cake
1. Melt butter in the microwave for 10 seconds.
2. Mix in the rest of the ingredients until your batter forms.
3. Bake in cupcake liners at 350 for 19 minutes. Let cool.For the Cookie Dough Frosting:
1. Using a fork mix together the butter, peanut butter, and 1/4 c. powdered sugar.
2. Add 1 Tbsp. milk. Whisk with the fork until it’s pretty smooth.
3. Add the remaining powdered sugar (1/4 cup at a time, mixing after each addition), the brown sugar, and the flour. Add milk as needed to help with the consistency.
4. Stir in the oats (you can use more or less depending on your preferences), M&Ms, and chocolate chips.
Enjoy xo!

Happy Belated National Devil‚Äôs Food Cake Day!

(Okay, for those who actually care yesterday, the 19th, was actually National Devil’s Food Cake Day. But I love cake, so I don’t care!)

Devil's Food Cake

In lieu of ¬†Devil’s Food Cake day, here’s a recipe from The Skinny Chef. Make sure you check out their site as well as the recipe below:

Serves 10

Ingredients

1 cups ‚Äúwhite‚ÄĚ whole wheat flour, plus flour for dusting pan
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar
1 cup low-fat 1% buttermilk
1 cup strong brewed coffee, chilled
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 egg whites
1 teaspoon vanilla
non-fat cooking spray

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350¬į F. Coat a 9-inch cake or spring-form pan with non-stick spray. Dust with flour; shake off excess. Over a large mixing bowl, sift both types of flour, cocoa powder and baking soda. Set aside.
  • In another bowl, whisk the brown sugar, buttermilk, coffee, vegetable oil, eggs, and vanilla. Gradually whisk in the flour mixture until just combined.
  • Pour the batter into the pan. Bake 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Serve warm or cool completely before icing with¬†chocolate sour cream icing

Enjoy! xo

One Day I’ll Win The Lottery …

I’ve decided that once I win the lottery (that is once I start buying a lottery ticket) I’m going to insane with all my money … insane in my kitchen.

I’d live in a house like this:

Wrap around porch

But also have a second house like this:

Dream house

Where my kitchen would look like this:

love

And have this as the back splash behind the stove:

kitchen, chalkboard paint

My kitchen would be filled with these:

Kitchen Aid

Kitchen Aid mixer Kitchen Aid mixer Kitchen Aid mixer

(This one is my absolute favorite since I LOVE purple)

Make perfect muffins, round pancakes, and more without all the mess. Just add batter and press down top. Guides help you measure out the right amount, every time! Ideal for cookies and crepes, too, top-rack dishwasher-safe plastic dispenser features easy-to- read wrap-around measurement guides; holds about 2 1‚ĀĄ2" cups of batter (a standard muffin mix) $17.98

Decorating Pen Set $10

Wow.

Honestly, my wish list could go on and on … but I’ll end it right here. If you could have your dream kitchen; what would you want in it?

Happy National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day!

Oh¬†glorious¬†day! It’s one of my favorite days of the year (besides my birthday and Christmas of course)! Here is a recipe for¬†Paula Deen’s Three Chocolate Cookie. Check out her site and enjoy the cookies!

Servings: 3 dozen
Prep Time: 20 min
Cook Time: 12 min
Difficulty: Easy

Ingredients

1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking soda
3 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3   large eggs
1 3/4 cups firmly packed brown sugar
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1   (12-ounce) package semisweet chocolate morsels
1 cup milk chocolate morsels
3   (1-ounce) squares bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 cup almond brickle chips

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly grease baking sheets.

With an electric mixer, beat butter and shortening at medium speed until creamy; gradually add sugars, beating until fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla, beating well.

In a small bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt; gradually add to butter mixture, beating until blended. Stir in chocolate morsels and almond brickle chips. Drop cookies by 1/4 cupfuls about 3-inches apart onto prepared baking sheets. Bake for 11 to 12 minutes, or until lightly browned. Let cool for 2 minutes on baking sheets. Remove to wire racks to cool.

Three Chocolate Cookies

Enjoy! xo

Cinco de Mayo Pi√Īata Cookies

Cinco de Mayo pinata sugar cookies

Since tomorrow is Cinco de Mayo, I thought I’d share this with all of you. While on Pinterest I came across this super cool cookie recipe. This recipe comes from She Knows¬†and they give you the step by step instructions on how to make these cookies. It does involve it set overnight, but still…look how cool they look. Check out their site and the recipe below:

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 5 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
  • Mini M&M candies
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar (frosting)
  • 2 teaspoons milk (frosting)
Directions:

1. Make The Dough: Cream sugars with butter. Beat in eggs. Add oil. Combine dry ingredients together, and then gradually add them to the mixture. Mix in vanilla and almond extract.

2. Color the dough: Split dough into five, even-sized balls and one smaller ball (this will be the black one). Add food coloring to each of the dough balls until desired color is achieved. Gel food coloring gives you more intense colors than liquid.
3. Layer the dough:¬†Use a container the same approximate width of your donkey/burro pi√Īata cookie cutter, and line it with plastic food wrap. Split all of your colored dough balls in half (except the black) and begin layering the dough in the container, starting with the black dough on the bottom. Alternate the colors so that you end up with two layers of each color by the time you’re done.
4. Wait: Cover the layered dough and freeze for four hours or overnight. This is the perfect time to conserve your creative juices for what lies ahead.

5. Bake the cookies: Remove the dough from the container and unwrap from the plastic. Cut slices, approximately 1/4-inch wide. Place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake them at 350 degrees F for 12 minutes.
6. Cut the cookies:¬†Immediately after you take them out of the oven, use your burro pi√Īata cookie cutter to cut the cookie shapes. Working in sets of three, be sure to cut two burro pi√Īata cookies in one direction and one burro pi√Īata cookie in the opposite direction. (Just flip your cookie cutter over.) That way, when you go to assemble them, the finished cookie will look “pretty” on both sides — because the baked, bottom sides will be hidden.
7. Create the hidden pocket: For the middle cookies in each set, cut off the ears and legs, and cut out the center where the M&Ms will go. I used a small square cutter, and made three cuts to get a narrow rectangle. Try to work quickly, because as the cookies cool, they are more likely to crumble or break. Let them cool on the baking sheet before you move them and remove the excess, outer cookie.
8. Assemble the pinata cookie:¬†To assemble, take the first pi√Īata cookie and lay it upside down so that the baked bottom is facing up. Outline the center of the pi√Īata body with a “frosting glue” mixture of milk and powdered sugar. (I used 1/2 cup of powdered sugar and two teaspoons of milk. If you put it inside a Ziploc bag and cut off a tiny tip of the bag’s corner, you can pipe it onto the cookie easily.)¬†Put the middle cookie on top of the frosting glue and add the M&Ms to the open center. Put another outline of frosting glue on the middle cookie and place the opposite-cut pi√Īata cookie on top (so that the pretty side is facing out). Let these sit and harden for at least 30 minutes before you stand them upright.9. Show off your cookie and enjoy!

Final product: pinata sugar cookie!Opened pinata cookie

Monkey Bread: Mason Jar Style

Monkey Bread in a Jar p Everyone Will go Bananas for Monkey Bread in a Jar

Courtesy of The Family Kitchen here is their recipe for easy Monkey Bread. Check out their site as well as the recipe below:

Monkey Bread {baked in 8 ounce mason jars} Makes 4 servings

What you’ll need:
10 refrigerated biscuits ‚Äď cut into quarters
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

What to do: 
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray mason jars with cooking spray and place them into a deep sided baking tray.
2. Into a bowl, add: sugars, and cinnamon. Whisk together to combine. Place cut biscuits pieces into sugar mixture. Toss to combine and coat well.
3. Evenly distribute coated biscuit pieces between the jars. Adding a little extra of the sugar mixture as  you go. Fill only 3/4 of the way up the jar {to allow for bread to rise and not overflow}
4. Bake for approximately 10-15 minutes until monkey bread has risen and is golden and bubbly. Allow jars to cool slightly prior to serving.

Enjoy! xo

Jack Daniel’s Chocolate Cake: Mason Jar Style

whiskey cake Whiskey in a Jar Chocolate Cake

I feel like everyone responses well to alcohol related recipes. Courtesy of The Family Kitchen they provide an easy JD Chocolate Cake recipe. Check out their site as well as the recipe below:

Whiskey in a Jar (Flourless) Chocolate Cake

Ingredients

1 stick butter
8 oz chocolate pieces (chopped fine) or small chips, semi-sweet
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
4 eggs
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup Tennessee whiskey, I used Jack Daniels
nonstick spray

Frosting
4 oz shortening
4 oz softened butter
1 lb powdered sugar
2 tablespoons milk or whiskey

For Cake:

1. In a double boiler, or in the microwave, melt butter and chocolate together. Stir well. Let cool.
2. Add butter and chocolate to a large mixing bowl with sugars. Mix until well combined. Add whiskey and mix well. Add eggs, one at a time, until incorporated. Mix well. Add salt, baking soda and baking powder. Mix very well. .
3. Pour into 4 pint jars that have been sprayed well with non-stick spray. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 ‚Äď 40 minutes, or until cakes pass the toothpick test. (And they have risen and fell)

For frosting:

1. Cream softened butter and shortening in stand mixer with wire attachment.
2. Add sugar. Mix on low until combined. Turn mixer to high. Add a little of the milk or whiskey at a time, until icing is light and fluffy.
3.  Refrigerate until ready to use.

Makes 4 large servings

Enjoy! xo

Irish Whiskey Cake: Mason Jar Style

Yes, you read right… Irish Whiskey Cake baked into a Mason jar. I’ve always loved this idea: it makes a great gift and it’s good for those who can’t say no to the second slice of cake *that would be me :)* Courtesy of Sprinkle Bakes¬†they’ve provided photo instructions as well as regular instructions. Check out their site as well as the recipe below:

Irish Whiskey Cake

Serves 10 
 This cake can be made in 10 Р8 oz. or 12 oz. glass canning jars,
-or-¬†a 10″ bundt pan, greased and lightly floured.¬†

Cake: 
2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups strongly brewed coffee
1/4 cup plus 3 tbsp. Irish whiskey
1 cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
2. Whisk together flour, baking soda and salt in a large bowl; set aside.
3. In a medium saucepan, add coffee, whiskey, butter, cinnamon, and cocoa powder.  Place over moderate heat and whisk until butter has melted.  Remove from heat and add the sugar.  Whisk until incorporated.  Pour mixture into a large bowl and let cool slightly.
4. Whisk together eggs and vanilla extract and gradually pour into chocolate mixture.  Add flour mixture and whisk until just combined.  Mixture will be very thin.
5. Place canning jars on a cookie sheet or roasting pan and pour batter in each by the level 1/2 cups full; OR pour batter into a greased and floured bundt pan.
6. Bake for 45-55 minutes (for both jars and bundt pan).

Whiskey-Butter Sauce:

1/4 cup Irish whiskey
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup water

Directions:

1. Prepared whipped cream (for jar cakes)
2. When the cake(s) are almost ready to come out of the oven, begin to make the sauce.
3. Combine all ingredients (except whipped cream) in a small saucepan, and cook very gently over medium heat until sugar has dissolved.  Remove from heat.
4. When cake(s) are done, let them cool for 10 minutes.  With a skewer, poke holes in the jarred cakes and pour a little sauce into each cake -dividing it evenly until it has all been used.  Top with prepared whipped cream.

If making a bundt cake, turn the cake out and place it upside down (as it baked in the oven). Poke holes all over the surface and VERY SLOWLY drizzle sauce over the cake until it has completely absorbed all of the sauce.  Wrap in foil and let cool completely.  Store in an air-tight container.

Enjoy! xo