Friday, February 24, 2012

Ive gone B-A-N-A-N-A-S for Kayla's Party

So about a month ago I finally started looking at things I might want to do for Kayla's 1st birthday party. That's when I finally got into Etsy. I spent so much time on there that I had to make myself stop and didn't allow myself to do Elmo-themed birthday browsing until a month before her birthday. Mind you I said that thinking I would only last a few days. Then Monday I'm browsing the computer and I look at the bottom right corner of my laptop screen and I'm like, " Oh S#*T!!! its the 20th!!!" . 

Where in the world did the time go. Its funny because at first Tony was the one who was more excited about the party than I was. But then the event planner in me saw this inspiration from Hostess with the Mostess. 
Elmo Birthday Party

That's when it dawned on me that I could do an Elmo themed party without Elmo everywhere and those primary colors that I find so annoying. And I'm off.... spending hours on Etsy and Pinterest trolling for inspiration and finding ways to Google search D.I.Y. whatever I find. I'm doing mainly red, pink, and white with yellow and orange accents

Here is what I have so far.... im torn between these two invitations. I made them on publisher.

And here are the personalized favor tags

And to fill these favor bags I have these coloring books I made

I bought a 24 pack of 4-crayon cases at Party City to go with these along with some random toys. I want to make chocolate covered Oreos to put in them as well, like these 

Ok next I got these mini-bubbles for which I made some custom labels for

For decorations I'm using these tissue pom poms, they are really simple, I just need to get floral wire, here is one I did for practice
And my pies-de-resistance my happy birthday banner... I LOVE the way this is turning out, I feel so cool, lol. 

AND then I ran of color ink so I'm off to Office Max tomorrow for ink so I can finish the banner. I'm going use the extra scrapbook paper to make cupcake toppers attached to toothpicks. 
The place where we are going to have her party is big, and the ceilings are really tall so Im not going to go crazy decorating the whole place. Im going to focus on two tables, one for all the cake and desserts and the other Im going to have cups, plates, the goody bags, and the bubbles or something like that. Here are some inspirations for my dessert table.
cake pops
Oreo Truffles
cake pops covered in sprinkles
Cake Pops

marshmallow <3
Marshmallow pops

There is a lot more space than people so I'm going to set up different areas for the kids to play and I bought this 6ft Sesame St backdrop so everyone can take pictures. Although if I have enough scrapbook paper and/ or patience leftover I might make centerpieces like these

Now somehow, after all this..... I also have to cook :-?

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Camera Love Affair

For Christmas 2009 Tony got me a digital SLR Canon Rebel. I love this camera. I will trade my small pocket camera any day for this baby. It may be bulky but you just can't beat the quality and customization.

Although I live in what some might consider a "ghetto" neighborhood of Brooklyn, I have the luxury of being so close by to sooo many places. Im 20 minutes fromm Manhattan by train, 30 minutes to Coney Island beach & the NY aquarium, 20 minutes walking to the Prospect Park Zoo, and 15 minutes walking to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, just to name a few. I went to take Kayla to the park yesterday because it was going to be just above 50 degrees, but of course the moment we get there Kayla passed out. The park is immediately next to the Botanic Garden and since its winter its free until March 14 so in I went. And I took so many pictures my camera battery actually died. LOL....  Anyway here are a few of my favorite

Hmmm i love. Mind you I have no idea what Im really doing, I just take pictures of things I think look nice. And its February, Imagine this place in two months!!!

And then I go home and mess with Picasa..... I could spend hours fiddling with my pictures. Here are 2 before and afters

And another one

Whats so bad about Brussels Sprouts.

So, I just finished a mini plate of Brussels sprouts and I really dont see what all the fuss is about. I did a quick and simple recipe I found on

Sooo simple.... cut the sprout in half, use a v-cut to remove the stem, then slice it really thin. In a cold pan add about a teaspoon of olive oil, a teaspoon of butter. Turn on to high heat and stir until the butter gets brown. Add the b.s.(ha ha ha ha) stir for about a minute, then add about 1/4 cup of lemon juice. Hit it with some salt and cracked pepper, let it go for about 45 seconds and TA-DA. 

So fast I didnt even take pictures. But I am making this for dinner alongside some leftover meatloaf and baked potatoes to Ill take pictures then. I think Im going to add some crushed garlic to the butter as it browns for an extra layer of flavor. Another recipe Im going to try the roasted version.... parboil for 2 minutes, toss with olive oil and crushed garlic, and bake for 15-20 minutes. 

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Apples & Sausage French Toast Cups

Ok so I can't resist coming back to my muffin pan. I saw this recipe on another blog called while I was looking for something else. So of course I have to try this, something new of course. 

  • 6 slices of whole wheat bread
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 Tbs brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch nutmeg
  • 1 cup diced apples
  • 1 cup (8 oz) breakfast sausage
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 3 Tbs brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.

First you make the toast cups. Using a biscuit cutter, about 3 -4 inches, cut out circles from the toast. 

Mix together the eggs, sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Dredge the circles into the egg mixture just like you would french toast. Then simply press them into the muffin pan. Pop the tray into the oven for about 15 minutes.

While that is baking in the oven take in one pan cook up the sausage. In another pan melt the butter, sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Add the apples and cook until soft and the butter and sugar begin to caramelize. After 5 minutes add the sausage to the apple mixture and combine.

Insert noisy kitchen attendant here

At this point take out the french toast cups and let them cool for a few minutes. Spoon the apple sausage mixture into your cup and voila!!! Drizzle with some maple syrup if you like and stuff your face!!!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Ohhh la la Pot De Creme

So you know me, cakes and cupcakes and pretty much anything in a muffin pan. But can you believe I tried something different. Okay so it was in a ramekin cause I love already portioned desserts, but hey! its not a muffin  pan.

I saw a video for a non-bake version of Pot De Creme and it intrigued me. When it comes to desserts though I like to do my research. I look at multiple versions of the same recipe, notice the similarities and differences, and look at reviews and recommendations. Then Ill usually write down the top 3 and compare side to side, okay so Im a nerd, shoot me.

Pot De Creme are actually pretty simple, most recipes call for heavy cream, a few ounces of thinly chopped chocolate, sugar, eggs yolks, a sprinkle of salt, and vanilla. Now I've been wanting to make this for a few days and why for the life of me is there NO heavy cream at the grocery store, vegetable stand, the other vegetable stand  block down, or the supermarket 4 blocks away. I wasn't about to go all the way to the supermarket 15 minutes by train just for heavy cream.

So crazy as I am, i bought what they had, half and half. In no way am I recommending that you make it that way, please use heavy cream. I wont go into the hot mess I tried (it involved butter & cream cheese & cornstarch) to try and get the fat content and the consistency of heavy cream. But all's well that ends well.

The ramekins in the water bath.

Sprinkle some confectioners sugar and..... enjoy!!!!

I will be honest... i doubled the chocolate of the original recipe and doubled the sugar to counter the chocolate. But you can divide those two ingredients in half because this is a Pot de Creme.... so as long as the cream is there you can adjust the chocolate and sugar according to your taste.

Pot De Creme Recipe:

  • 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, cut into small pieces
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • Pinch salt
Pre heat oven to 375 degrees
In a kettle or a small pan bring a few cups of water to boil.
1. Chop of chocolate and place in a heat proof bowl, set aside. 
2. Mix up the egg yolks in a small bowl and set aside.
3. In a pan over medium heat warm the heavy cream, milk, and sugar. Continually whisk and watch the cream mixture, heavy cream boils over VERY quickly. Remove from heat immediately when it starts to boil.
4. Pour in the cream sugar mixture into the bowl with the chocolate, whisk until chocolate is melted and fully incorporated.
5. Pour a small amount of the chocolate cream into the egg yolks, this is tempering to make sure that the egg yolks dont cook and curdle. Repeat and them pour the egg yolk mixture into the bowl of chocolate cream. 
6. Ladle the mixture into 6 ramekins. Place the ramekins into a baking dish and carefully fill the baking dish with the boiling water until it reaches halfway up the ramekins.
7. Cover with foil and bake for 30-35 minutes @ 375. Let cool and then refrigerate for a few hours or overnight. 

Monday, February 13, 2012

Muffin Pan Obsessed: Cheesy Chicken Tartlets

Ok so I just said this morning how obsessed I am with my muffin pan and making breakfast and dessert with them. Breakast: obviously muffins, pancake muffins, muffin pan frittatas, dessert has been cupcake galore, any recipe I find i manage to make a cupcake version of it. Now Ive added dinner to that list.

I made this Cheesy Chicken Crescent Braid I found on Soo good. So of course I had to adjust and put it in a muffin pan.

For the filling i subbed the mayo for lite cream cheese (you can also probably sub wit yogurt) and added some smoked gouda i had on hand. For the crescent dough I pinched it together, then cut it into 12 squares. Press them to the bottom of a PAM sprayed muffin pan, bake for 10 minutes, add a heap of the cheesy chicken mixture and bake for another 10 minutes and enjoy!

Single Serving Frittata, Toast Base

Staying home makes can make food monotonous. You are comfortable with a few recipes and you start to get bored. My two favorite things in the world are breakfast and desserts, and I've been on a rampage using my muffin pan. But with 7 people living in my house I am constantly running out of one staple item or another and I usually have to send Tony on a quick run to the grocery store

 This morning I take out my muffin pan to try and make something new because I'm tired of pancakes and scrambled eggs. I want something filled with vegetables and flavor. But I only have eggs and broccoli and white bread. Ugh.... Tony is sleeping and getting myself and a 11 month old dressed just for some peppers, potatoes and milk seems more trouble than its worth. But wait!! I find some spinach.

So I toast 2 pieces of bread, scramble 4 eggs with salt and cracked pepper, dice and cook an onion sprinkle with salt, shred some spinach. Only cook the onions for two minutes, then turn off the pan and add the spinach to it

I sprayed the muffin pan with some PAM. Then using a biscuit cutter (thanks Can Can!!!) I cut out 3 circles per slice of bread and press it down to the bottom of each pan. I pour 2 tablespoons of scrambled eggs, a tablespoon of onions and spinach, and another 2 tablespoons of the egg, and top with some cheddar cheese.

At this point I think I\m screwed because by the time i got pouring my 4th muffin slot, the first one was already "disappearing". The egg is soaking into the bread. So i hurriedly finish the 6 slots and pop them into a oven at 350.

15 minutes later the eggs are set.... and I take a bite and..... hmmmmm. The bread that got soaked with egg took on a french toast taste, it wasn't soggy as I feared it would be.

Yes I ate all three of those with the help of Kayla.

The great thing about these is that you can add almost ANYTHING: peppers, mushrooms, broccoli, onions, garlic, tomatoes, bacon, sausage, etc. Want a healthier version, replace with whole wheat bread, or just omit the bread and cheese all together and add more veggies. Just like an omelette, use whatever cheese tickles your fancy. But unlike an omelette, just mix pour and walk away, no watching, no turning, no flipping, no tearing.


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Rant---- Lazy & Paranoid Americans & Food

Rant: Its funny how the more and more Americans become obsessed with calories and sugar free and this-free and that-free and  sugar substitutes, the fatter we become????
What people so simply forget to realize is that all you really need is balance and moderation. No counting, no substituting, no obsessing. Why is it that the very same people who drink diet soda and use Splenda take the elevator instead of the stairs??
If you have a sit-down job.... go walk every so often. You dont need a sugar-free calorie free dessert (there is NO fun in that in my opinion) just dont eat the whole box, and remember you dont need dessert every day.
My mom NEVER encouraged us to diet.... but in my house there was NEVER soda unless there was a party, and although we lived across the street from a McDonald it was always a TREAT to go there once a month. My mom cooked every day... breakfast and dinner..... and she did this while working 2 jobs sometimes, while keeping the house immaculate (my apartment makes me feel ashamed lol) with 3 kids... and we were kinda poor!!! But my mom also had rules about TV, we never sat lethargic for hours in front, therefore since TV was off limits we learned to use our imaginations and play with each other and being kids, most of that involved physical activities.

Im sorry, Americans now-a-days are just downright lazy (and unfortunately that includes me). Seeing how my mom raised us makes me almost anything sounds like an excuse.... "Oh i have a full time job" My mom used to deliver newspapers in NYC at night. She used to get up at 2 or 3 in the morning to go do a very physical job until 7 in the morning. Ive done it with her a few times and it took me damn near the whole day to recover. She used to come home to make breakfast and get us ready for school. Then she used to prepare dinner. Then a little bit of sleep followed by chores or her second job of cleaning houses. Then come home in time to pick my little brother and sister up for school.
"oh im a single mom"(not from a financial point of view). Do you hear my dad in any of this??? My dad wasnt really home much. And when he was he was of the old school spanish of where is my dinner. He didnt help us with homework or cleaning or much of anything. He took us out on the weekends, that was about it.

Sorry I got off topic..... moral of the story...... everything in moderation. I finally convinced my BIL to not diet and just eat healthy and eat small meals. He wanted to get down to 170 by practically starving himself which he had done before. I convinced him otherwise. Now he has so much more energy, and although the weight is coming off slower, he is much more healthy and happy with himself. Everything in moderation.

So I will apply this in the way I raise and feed my child. Her first birthday is coming up and Ive seen a lot of posts for healthy or sugar free or kid-friendly type of cake recipes on websites Ive been visiting. I have never in my life had anything like that, and my mom never made that. Im not fat, never have been fat. I was a tad overweight in junior high but that baby fat came off in highschool and up until my pregnancy i have never been overweight, and i never had healthy cake. For me it comes down to this. Its cake she is going to have ONE day. And most likely she is not even going to eat a whole slice. She is 1 for crying out loud! You can't tell me that there is going to be lasting damage from giving her cooked egg, flour, and sugar. And she is not going to be addicted to it because she is not getting any more. Simple as that. So I am going to make regular cake with regular frosting for her(well sans frosting for her), my family, and my guests. Same goes for her 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th birthday. Everything in moderation.

It kinda brings me back to my pregnancy and the do not eat list. People take that list for granted and makes you feel guilty when you break the rule and eat sushi or taste the cake batter or eat some feta cheese. Do people stop and think WHY these things are on the do not eat list?? The chances of getting salmonella from raw eggs is about .002%. The chances of getting listeria is like .000008% In both cases you are a lot more likely to die from getting into a car accident or while in childbirth. But no one tells pregnant women not to get in a car more often than they have to? I only realized this after I gave birth. Better believe that the next pregnancy I am not going to worry about salad dressings or cake batter or my Subway sandwich. Bite me. Its not that serious