Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Essie Bandwagon

There is only one bad thing I have to say about Pinterest. If you're not familiar with Pinterest, check out this post I wrote a while back to learn about it.

I love it, but it makes me want to go into craft mode, and I have neither the time, resources nor money to make all the projects I want to make. I don't get to decorate a fireplace mantle because my apartment doesn't have a fireplace. Forget taking on any furniture transformations, I have no where to keep them. Guess that means I will have to do lots of projects while I am home for Christmas break, right?

I can bake and cook though. Whenever I don't know what to make for dinner, Pinterest usually solves my problem.

Pinterest has also introduced me to some great product lines. Take Essie for example. Essie is a nail polish brand that is all over Pinterest. I wasn't familiar with Essie before Pinterest. I don't usually spend money on nail polish, and when I do, it's because it was on sale. Everyone kept pinning pictures of Essie nail polish, so I decided to try it out.

My brother and his girlfriend got me a few bottles of Essie nail polish for my birthday (she picked it all out).  She got me several different colors to try, and so far I have loved them all. I put on this lovely color the other night and love it.
It's called "Buy Me a Cameo." Very pearly and pretty.

I have hopped on the Essie bandwagon.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Last Minute Peanut Butter Pie

Here's the story behind this pie. A few weeks ago, I was planning to go to Andrew's apartment to eat dinner. He and his roommates were having "hibachi night," which is basically where they try to recreate a Japanese steakhouse in their kitchen. Around 3:30 on Monday afternoon I get this phone call from Andrew. After finishing up some small talk, he ends the conversation with this...

 "So just come over around 6 for dinner. Oh yeah, do you think you could bring a dessert?"

 "Well, it's 3:30 and I still have to go to a meeting with a teacher and was hoping to go to cycling class at 5...what exactly did you have in mind, and why am i just now hearing about this?"

"I don't know...maybe a cake or some cupcakes?"

"There is no way you're getting a cake or cupcakes. Those take a lot of time to make."

"It's ok Laura. You'll figure out something. I know you won't let us down. See you at 6!"

I was shaking my head as I hung up the phone. The easy thing to do would be to pick up a frozen pie at the grocery store. But I couldn't. My pride wouldn't let me. My friends know me as the one who bakes yummy desserts. I couldn't bring anything frozen. While I waited for my meeting with my teacher to start, I found a recipe and made my grocery list. I swung by the grocery store on the way home and got started on a Peanut Butter Pie. I got the recipe for the filling from this blog, and then modified it a little.

Peanut Butter Pie
1 chocolate cookie pie crust (I bought mine pre-made from the store, but you could make your own if you have time - I didn't)
1 cup chocolate chips
1 bag of Reese's Peanut Butter Cups

1 cup heavy cream
8 ounces cream cheese
1 cup creamy-style peanut butter
1 cup confectioner's sugar
1 – 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Melt the chocolate chips and pour over bottom of the cookie crust. Unwrap Reese's Peanut Butter Cups and put on top of melted chocolate. You can cover the whole pie with these or just use a few. You can chop them into smaller pieces and sprinkle them on top of the chocolate or leave them whole. I left them whole to save time, but I might cut them into smaller pieces next time. Put pie crust into the refrigerator while you make the filling.

Pour the heavy cream into a bowl and beat using a stand mixer or hand mixer until stiff peaks form.  Transfer to a small bowl and store in refrigerator until ready to use.  Place the cream cheese and peanut butter in a deep bowl (I used the same bowl I used for the whipped cream-didn't even clean it).  Beat on medium speed until light and fluffy.  Reduce speed to low and gradually beat in the confectioner's sugar.  Add the sweetened condensed milk and vanilla extract. Increase speed to medium and beat until all the ingredients are combined and filling is smooth.

Stir in 1/3 of the whipped cream into the filling mixture (helps lighten the batter, making it easier to fold in the remaining whipped cream).  Fold in the remaining whipped cream.  Pour the filling into the prepared crust.  If you want, drizzle the more melted chocolate on top or sprinkle some more Reese's on top. Refrigerate for three hours or overnight before serving. Obviously, I didn't have time to refrigerate it that long, so I stuck it in the freezer for an hour while I went and worked out before dinner.

The pie was a hit. The boys loved it. Perfect for a last minute dessert and so delicious.

Here's a picture. It's not a good one, but I still wanted to show you.

Monday, October 10, 2011

You Win Some, You Lose Some

I've been getting a lot of recipes from Pinterest lately, which usually trace back to a recipe on a blog. Here's the thing with blog recipes - you don't always know if it is going to be good. While it may look amazing in the beautiful pictures posted on the blog (sorry, you don't get beautiful pictures on my blog), it doesn't always taste amazing. I try to sift through some of the comments on the blog post for any hints as to whether the recipe is good or not, but most people post things along the lines of "this looks amazing!" or "I can't wait to make this!" Those comments don't help me out very much. I've learned that sometimes you just have to take a chance and test the recipe out, not knowing how it's going to turn out.

I realize there's always a chance a recipe isn't good, regardless of the source, but I am more trusting when using a cookbook because I know the recipe has probably been tested multiple times. It has also been published.

Last week I saw a beautiful homemade pumpkin spice latte (PSL) picture pinned on Pinterest. Sure enough, the recipe was linked to a blog. I decided to take a chance and try it out. It wasn't very good and wasn't even close to tasting like a Starbucks' PSL.

 But I did try to take some pretty pictures...
I know, it's not the prettiest picture, but I tried. I should have piled the whipped cream higher. 

Later on the week, I decided to try a recipe a friend has posted on her blog. She had found the recipe online, tweaked it a little and had good things to say about it. I made it not once, but twice last week because it was so good. It doesn't taste exactly like Starbucks, but it's still delicious. Here's the recipe...

Pumpkin Spice Latte
makes 1-2 servings (more like 2)
2 cups milk
4 tablespoons canned pumpkin (recipe calls for 2, but it needs more)
1-2 tablespoons sugar or sugar substitute (I put 3 Splenda)
2 tablespoons vanilla extract (not a mistake)
3/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/2 cup strong brewed coffee or 1-2 shots of espresso

In a saucepan combine milk, pumpkin, and sugar on medium heat and stir until steaming. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and pumpkin spice. Transfer to blender and process until foamy (15-20 seconds).

Pour into 2 large mugs and top with whipped cream. Sprinkle with pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, or nutmeg. 

PS- I will try to give you my honest opinion on recipes I post. Some of the stuff doesn't always turn out great, and I will tell you that! No reason for you to make something that isn't good. 

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Fall, Food and Football

Those three words sum up my weekend. This cooler, crisp weather has been amazing! Also, my awesome roommate snatched the last two cans of pumpkin from the shelves of Wal-Mart for me. The best part about that is that I didn't even have to go to Wal-Mart! While Wal-Mart may have had pumpkin all along, I try to avoid going there at all costs. Yes, Wal-Mart is a great way to save money, but I also have to prepare mentally each time I go there and pray for an extra dose of patience in the morning. Especially at Christmastime.

Back to the current season. On Friday, I celebrated fall by going apple picking at Sky Top Orchard. Here's a few pictures from our afternoon...
This is me giving Andrew the usual "can we please just get one normal picture?" speech. He doesn't look too concerned. Notice there are not any other pictures of us on this post. That's because we never got a normal picture. 

My and one of my roomies


While I haven't made any apple recipes yet, I did make some delicious pumpkin cupcakes that I saw on this lovely blog. Here is the recipe...

Pumpkin Spice Cake
1 Package Yellow Cake Mix ( I use Pillsbury Moist Supreme Classic Yellow)
1/2 c. Granulated Sugar
1/2 c. vegetable oil
1 can pumpkin (15 oz. pure pumpkin–we like Libby’s brand)
1/4 cup water
1 tsp vanilla
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
4 eggs
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Combine all ingredients in bowl and beat until well blended. Bake at 325 for 23-24 minutes or until cupcakes spring back to touch. Frost with your favorite cream cheese icing. 

These cupcakes were so moist and easy to make. I modified my cream cheese icing recipe from this post for the frosting. I honestly don't know how much I added, but I put a little canned pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice and cinnamon until I was satisfied with the taste and consistency. Here are a few pictures of them...

I definitely recommend trying this recipe if you are craving some fall food!

Saturday night I watched those Clemson Tigers win again! So proud of them!