Keeping it Fresh!

wfmwbannerKRISTEN
My husband and I decided to splurge on a FoodSaver post-wedding. It was one of the things off our registry that we really wanted to have, because meat is pricey when you are buying it in smaller packs. So, to save money I usually raid Sam’s once a month and buy our meats in bulk.

Our usual meats that I buy are chicken breasts, ground turkey and ground beef. We save a good bit of money buying in bulk, and we just package our meat in portions for 2. I used to use saran wrap, then foil,  and then put that in a quart sized freezer bag. However, now, I just take the FoodSaver bag roll, cut it to size, seal one side, put meat in and seal the other side. It sounds hard, but really, it’s not!

Besides saving us time on sealing foods, it also saves us major freezer space!

Check out my bottom freezer drawer! This thing used to be overly full with the same amount of meat!
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Another great thing? It makes food last longer in the freezer as well! Not that we don’t use meats often enough, but hey, it’s good to know that it’s keeping our food fresher than the old method!

This is the machine model that we splurged on. I like that it has a built in roll holder for easier storage.

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This machine definitely works for us! To see what works for other bloggers, check out We Are That Family!

DIY Recipe Cards

Recently, I forked out the ever famous Gocco machine to make our wedding invitations. Since the What’s Cooking board had a holiday gift exchange, I thought it would be fun to Gocco recipe cards for my Elfster. She said she likes cupcakes, so I Gocco’ed these recipe cards on Stardreams Opal paper with red ink for the holidays. I hope she enjoys them as much as I enjoyed making them!! Her name is blurred out since she hasn’t gotten her package yet!

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I love my Gocco. If only they didn’t discontinue the machine and supplies. :( Sadly after my wedding fun, I’ll be selling my Gocco. I can’t compete with rising prices of screens, bulbs and ink, unfortunately.

Sillycone Trays

I have to apologize about the tardiness of this post. See, I moved about a month ago and in my move, things got a little unorganized until I unpacked it all last week. I ::just:: found this tray that was given to me by Sillycone, Inc. by way of Blake Makes.

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So, I put some cranberry blueberry juice in the trays to make ice, because I like to not water down my juice when I drink it and plus, I discovered these make really good little popsicles!

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Thanks Sillycone for the great trays! I’m sure I’ll figure out more and more uses for them as I go!

WC Fall Exchange

So, every 1-2 months, there is a gift exchange between members of the “What’s Cooking” board on the Nest. I always have fun compiling the package, as well as getting the surprise package. This time was no exception!

Carrie of Carrie’s Sweet Life sent me a Silpat and spoonula. I used those this weekend to do some baking, which I’ll post about in the near future. Let’s just say these are both AWESOME additions to my kitchen!! Thanks so much, Carrie!!!! Can’t wait to use these more in the kitchen!!!

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If Wilton gave you $30….

…what goodies would you get?

I’ve taken 3 Wilton classes so far, and somewhere in there I got randomly selected to take a survey for a gift certificate for Wilton goodies! Originally, it was $20, which was generous! However, when I got my form in, they gave me $30 to cover shipping/taxes!! SCORE!!

So, I wanted some fun goodies and useful things as well. If I could, I’d get all sprinkles because those are just fun! However, I wanted some useful items I could use in my decorating too. I ended up getting a hybrid of both…check out the stash!


* Bake Even Strips
* Flower Lifter
* Candy Dipping Set
* White Sparkling Sugars
* White Nonpareils

I’m so excited about using the Bake Even Strips, especially, because I’m making my future nephew in law (I guess you can say)…a TIERED birthday cake full of elephants and jungle fun. So, I think these little strips will come in handy, and even though I haven’t taken tiered cakes yet, I have a feeling I can handle stacking two cakes. I have the instructions after all…how hard can it be?

Local Exchange!!

My WC sister (and dear friend!), Sarah, and I decided to do a foodie gift exchange filled with food local to our area. I’m from New Orleans area, and this is what I sent her.

I have to say I am SO excited about the gifts that she sent me…check out the spread here!!

Shoofly Pie Mix, Peanut Caramel Popcorn, Cider mix, apple butter…

Whole Wheat Pretzel mix, Maple candies, Honey filled lemon candies..

Woo!! What an awesome bunch of gifts, Sarah!! I can’t wait to make the shoofly pie. I have honestly never heard of this but the google images made me drool a little yesterday. I will definitely keep y’all updated on how everything goes!!

Sarah and I agreed we should totally do this again. This was so much fun!!!

Bubble Tea = Love

This isn’t a blog entry about me cooking. It’s more about my mild obsession…that I miss SO much! When I was a resident assistant in the apartments on campus, one of the girls SWORE by this smoothie that she drank. She said it was so sweet, and it had these gummy surprise beads in it. I told her that I had to try it…I love smoothies! The place we went to had about 30 flavors of smoothies, and you could COMBINE flavors. They were mostly fruit…so needless to say, I was in heaven. I tried a strawberry coconut with the tapioca beads. I thought it was SO cool when they took the smoothie and vacuum sealed a lid on it. I felt like a giddy kid punching my extra large straw through (it allows for the beads to come out with the smoothie). Anyways, after many trips there, I was in bliss. Then, I graduated college…and I didn’t have bubble tea for a year or so, until NOW!

There I was, getting my hair highlighted, and my hairdresser told me that his boyfriend’s family was opening a bubble tea place. OMG OMG WHAT? It was a town away, and let me tell you, the week it opened, I went. I ordered a kiwi bubble tea. They did the same thing there…vacuum sealed top, tapioca beads, the big mega straw for the blend of beads and smoothie sippage. I thought for a moment there, well, this is bliss!

Anyways, here are some pictures of bubble tea….seriously consider trying this stuff. You can get HOOKED. If you are interested in making it at home, here is a website of supplies and kits. :)

The tapioca beads are the black balls at the bottom. I had a kiwi bubble tea here, and it maybe lasted me 5 minutes. I miss bubble tea!

Summer Exchange!!

As an engaged girl, I found the website, theknot.com. For the newlyweds who used the Knot, you then have the choice to move over to thenest.com. This site helps couples with everything they encounter in their married lives :). The resources there are absolutely wonderful!!

I stumbled across the Nest forums by chance. Around Christmas, I was looking for a sugar cookie recipe, and there is a “What’s Cooking?” board on the Nest. So, I lurked on there for ideas, and it seemed like SUCH a nice board. So, I stayed and started posting :). I’ve been there since.

Every season, one of the nesties, Joelen , hosts a gift exchange for the board. It’s a great way to just have a nice foodie surprise in the mailbox, and today, I got mine!!

Thanks to I&R.4.23.06!!! She sent me silicone spatulas, a cookie scoop, a silicone basting/pastry brush, and a pack of cake tips. These are gadgets I needed, and cake tips, you can never have enough of those. AND, what I’m also excited about, Penzey’s spices!! I got Northwoods seasonings, Cake Spice and Hot Chocolate mix :). She also gave me some lotion and body spray in peony (such a beautiful flower!)


Check out the spread!! Thanks so much, Intisar!!

Ina’s (Amano) Brownies!

I have been trying to figure out what to do with my Amano chocolate that I graciously received from Blake Makes.


Yesterday, I found on Annie’s Eats blog a recipe from Ina Garten of Food Network. Her post was great, because she compared two brownie recipes (Ina’s and Cook Illustrated), and gave a synopsis. Ina’s brownies won in her book, and I can totally see why. These brownies were so rich and chocolatey and gooey (I underbake my brownies a little, so what?)…just amazing brownies and I’m sure the Amano chocolate really tipped it over the edge. It was a really smooth, rich flavor…I could only eat 1/2 a brownie, but my mom, dad and sister went to town. This morning, there were only 6 brownies left!! (So much for sharing with coworkers lol!)

I ended up halving the recipe, since I had 6 oz of Amano chocolate and used that instead of the semisweet chocolate chips. Since there is over 70% cacao in this chocolate, I knew this would be more of a dark chocolate brownie. I also, in halving everything, forgot to half the 3 oz. of unsweetened chocolate, but really no big deal in the end. Very very good stuff here folks!

Ina’s Outrageous Brownies

Ingredients:

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 1 ½ cups semisweet chocolate chips (I used Amano chocolate here)
  • 3 oz. unsweetened chocolate (I used a substitute of 3 tbs cocoa powder + 1 tbs butter for every oz.)3 extra-large eggs
  • 1 ½ tbsp. instant coffee powder
  • 1 tbsp. real vanilla extract
  • 1 cup and 2 tbsp. sugar
  • ½ cup and 2 tbsp. flour, divided – ½ cup for batter and 2 tbsp. .in the chips
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ cups morsels (milk chocolate, dark chocolate, white chocolate or butterscotch)
    (for this recipe, I mixed Ghiradelli and Andes mint chocolate baking chips AND I didn’t half this haha!)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Grease and flour a 9×13” metal pan. (I used 8×8 for the halved recipe)
  2. Melt together the butter, 1 ½ cups chocolate chips, and unsweetened chocolate on top of a double boiler. (I don’t have a double boiler, so I placed the Amano in the microwave in 30 second intervals until smooth. Then I combined all the butter and cocoa powder to make a sauce and folded the two together.) Cool slightly. Stir together the eggs, instant coffee, vanilla and sugar. Stir in the warm chocolate mixture and cool to room temperature.
  3. Stir together ½ cup of the flour, baking powder and salt. Add to cooled chocolate mixture. Toss the chocolate chips with 2 tbsp. flour (I only needed 1 tbs of flour here) to coat. Then add to the chocolate batter. Pour into prepared pan.
  4. Bake for about 30 minutes, (mine took 20 minutes but I like mine a little underbaked) or until tester just comes out clean. Halfway through the baking, rap the pan against the oven shelf to allow air to escape from between the pan and the brownie dough. (Oops! Forgot to do this…no big deal here) Do not overbake! Cool thoroughly, refrigerate well (didn’t refrigerate…just dug in!) and cut into squares.



Dare I get the nutritional facts on this??

For 16 servings (with half the recipe), here are the facts…

Calories 275.8
Fat 14.8 g
Fiber 1.3 g

Points* 7

Wilton Course 2…

This was a great course. It took me a while to catch up and learn these flowers but my favorite is highlighted in my final cake.

The filling is fresh blackberries (adapted from Katie’s recipe), the cake is Pillsbury mix (get over it LOL) and the frosting is white chocolate buttercream (oh yeh, yum!)

The coworkers are in for a treat Friday ;)

Mixing filling…looks like something out of Dr. Seuss

Cake from the top…I lovers the LSU colored pansies!

Cake from the side…check out that weave peeps!

A zoom in of those LSU colored pansies..nature has pansies colored right. Geaux Tigers (I need football season again..)