Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Menu Plan Monday 09/23/13 to 09/29/13

Another week has gone by and I haven't disappeared off the face of the blogosphere.... as of yet.  I actually feel pretty accomplished this week that I've actually managed to post something that I had meant to post (Orange Glad Review), as well as I'm posting my menu plan at the beginning of the week (Tuesday is still the beginning of the week, sort of ☺).  This week we have a lot going on.  There's the school's open house, parents coming over for dinner, appointments to be kept, as well as most important of all... Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 is out on Friday.  Dinner's this week are going to be fairly quick and to the point.  Here's what we've got cooking.

Chicken Pitas
Fresh Fruit
Tortilla Soup
Meatball Buns
Noodles with Marinara Sauce

Refried Beans

Garlic Bread


Need help with ideas still?  Check out tons of other gals menu plans at Laura's Menu Plan Monday.  You're sure to find something that will spark some creative dinner ideas!

So what's cooking at your place?  Do you have certain dishes that are go to meals when you are busy?

Friday, September 20, 2013

Orange Glad - September 2013 Unboxing

Recently, I've become slightly addicted to monthly subscription services.  I actually receive three of them at this point, although the Orange Glad Dessert Subscription is really on a trial basis at this point, this is the first month I've received it. 
Orange Glad is an organization that just recently began.  September is only their third month that they've been in business.  Orange Glad is a company that had a brilliant idea to deliver delicious confections to people's doorsteps.  The idea of home delivery, while not revolutionary (tons of companies deliver stuff to people's houses all the time), has been taken to the next level when they brought about the idea of delectable treats being delivered without having to get up off the couch to pick them up.  Absolutely brilliant in my opinion.

Anyways, as I stated before, September is sort of a trial month for me with this new confectionery treat box thing.  I thought I would give it a whirl, since I love sweets.  This month's theme was "cookies." 

The box arrived within a day or two of receiving the email from Orange Glad indicating it had shipped.  It came in a Priority Mail package that was stamped "Fragile:  I'm Perishable Keep Me in Shade."

Once opened, the goods were wrapped in tissue paper and confetti, as well as it had an ice pack in there to keep the items that could melt (chocolate) from doing just that.
Here's what arrived in the box:

Kelly's Kookies:  Chocolate Dipped Macadamia Shortbread
This was honestly probably the tastiest shortbread cookie I have ever eaten.  It was melt in your mouth good.  It had butter overtones with just the right amount of chopped macadamia nuts.  The chocolate just completed the cookie.  This was definitely my favorite item out of the box.  This is an item I would purchase again.

Cinderella Cakes:  Oreo Cookie Cake Push Pop
While I love the idea of a push pop with cake and frosting type fillings in it (completely could eat and do other stuff without sticky cake fingers...), I was not so impressed by the execution of this particular item.  The chocolate cake portion of it was okay, the cake was moist and tasted like your basic run of the mill chocolate cake.  The Oreo buttercream was not my cup of tea though.  It had a strong smell, sort of like fake vanilla extract?  It also had a slightly off flavor, compared to what I would expect an Oreo buttercream to taste like.  I was not impressed with this particular item.

Cinderella Cakes:  Lemon Sugar Cookie
This is another item I was not incredibly impressed with.  While the item itself had okay flavor, it wouldn't be what I would expect if I was purchasing an item from a bakery.  Neither the cookie or the frosting had a tart lemony taste.  It was a very neutral lemon flavor.  The outside of the cookie was touted as being slightly crispy with a chewy middle.  I found that the cookie wasn't particularly chewy, regardless of whether it was the middle or outside of the treat.  This item wasn't bad, it just wasn't something I would go out of my way to purchase on it's own either.

Modern Bite:  Designer Chai and Almond Spice Cookies
The Designer Chai and Almond Spice Cookies were a pleasant addition to the box.  Per the information card that came with the box, they can be custom designed or have a logo added to the top of the cookie to match whatever occasion you are celebrating.  The flavor on these were perfect.  The chai and almond spice flavors had just the right amount of presence in the cookies to make them a delicious addition to any cookie platter.  This is an item I would purchase again.
JJ Bakery:  Almond Nougat
While the fifth item that was supposed to be in the box was an almond nougat, this particular item was missing from the box.  I did contact the customer support from Orange Glad and I was pleased to see that they were very quick about responding to the issue.  They have emailed me already and indicated that they would be mailing the missing nougat to me promptly.  As I am writing this, I haven't received the lost nougat yet, but I have confidence that it is going to be arriving any day now.
Overall at this point, I am not overly impressed with the Orange Glad box.  While I very much enjoyed receiving sweets in the mail, I really was only impressed by one of the four I actually received.  The box is normally $15/month plus shipping, so I'm not sure each item in the box was worth, flavor wise, about $4 (taking into account the shipping, and the item I did not receive).   
I'm thinking maybe I'll give them one more chance to impress me.  They did have great customer service (Thanks Angela from Orange Glad Support...heehee she had the same name as me), and sometimes these subscription type services have a down month.  The first two months they've been around, the snacks looked delicious...so possibly month four will be better than month three.
Here's hoping October is more impressive than September.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

10 Days

As some of you may or may not know, I am eagerly counting down the days until the release of the movie "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2."  Not counting today..... there are only 10 days left!!!!!

Not sure what exactly this movie has in store for you?  Well... it has
Baked potato hippos
Berry the Strawberry... and so much more.
My kids and I are ready for this epic movie to be out already.  Only 10 days left.... until the wait is over.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Menu Plan Monday 09/16/13 to 09/22/13

So it's been awhile since I've even logged on to my blog here and posted anything... not necessarily out of lack of desire, but things have been a little crazy in my little corner of the world here lately.  So back in late February/Early March when I last posted, I had been working on my son's bedroom, beginning a new job position, and a ton of other projects I had going on around the house.  At this point, while some of those things have simmered down (my son's room is completed), other's have picked up in their places.

Since my last posting, I actually have returned to my old position that I had with my company.  While I enjoyed trying out the new venture, I felt that it just wasn't a good fit for me, and I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to return to the position I had originally had with the company.  It has been almost three months since I've returned back and it has been incredibly busy, but it's been great to be back.

Other things that have been happening are of course wedding plans that are gearing up to be finalized (only about a month and a half till my little brother gets married), a baby shower is being planned (only about a month and a half and my bestie April has her first baby!!!!), tons of family will be in town soon, as well as the kids have been back in school the past month so things have been busy on that front as well. 

While you would think that since I have so much going on, now would be the time to shrink from my blogging, a friend at work, who apparently actually reads what I write on here, said something the other day about not posting in forever... and I realized, it has been a long time and thought maybe it's time to get back into the swing of things, particularly with the structure of the kids being back in school.

So there you have it... a short summary of the past half year and what I've been up to.  Of course due to this hectic schedule, I've of course been keeping up on the whole weekly menu planning thing.  I can't stress enough how helpful it is to come home from work and just know what is going to be made for dinner already.  Here's the plan for this next upcoming week:

Grilled Bratwursts
Fruit or Salad on the side
Homemade Pizza
Crockpot Sweet Potato Chili
Homemade Corn Bread
Chicken Fajitas
Refried Beans
Slow Cooker Bacon Wrapped Apple BBQ Chicken
Baked Beans
So what is your family having for dinner?  Do you make a plan, or just make something on a whim last minute?  For more ideas on how to answer the ever present question (at least from my kids) "What's for dinner?", check out Laura's Menu Plan Monday at her blog.  She's got some great ideas along with a handful of other gals who have some tasty dishes planned for the week!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Menu Plan Monday 2/25/13 to 03/03/13

Hello, Happy Wednesday!  This week already has started and I feel like I've had to hit the ground running.  Work has been incredibly busy, as usual.  Home life has been decently busy as well.

I'm mid-way through re-decorating one of the bedrooms in our house for my middle child, Ashton.  Needless to say, I've been dragging my feet on it a bit and he has been chomping at the bit to have it done.  At this point, it's painted.  The trim still needs to be painted a complimentary color (the walls are a sage-y green), a dresser still needs to be purchased, and everything of his still needs to be moved into the new room.  While I would love to say this is going to be done this weekend, in all reality, it may be another week or two. 

Other than that, things have been pretty copacetic around here.  Menu plans really have been non-existent the past few months.  This  has really made dinner more stressful than it needs to be, but I haven't had the motivation to really do anything  about it.  Hopefully starting to write more on the blog again will give me the jolt I need to break out of this rut I've been in.

So here goes nothing, our first menu plan in practically forever....

Refried Beans
BBQ Chicken
Baked Potatoes
Pork chops
Sweet Potatoes
Beef and Rice Casserole
Hamburger Helper
Nothing fancy.  No bells or whistles this week.  I decided to keep it pretty simple so that hopefully I'll have time to work on some house projects (my sons room is still waiting...).  For more ideas on what to have for dinner, check out Laura's Menu Plan Monday at her blog.  She's got some great ideas along with a handful of other gals who have some tasty dishes planned for the week!
So what's your family having for dinner?

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Cake for Breakfast - French Toast Cupcakes

Breakfast is one of my all time favorite meals.  There are so many ways to mix it up and keep it fresh.  There's pancakes, eggs, omelets, crepes, and french toast. 

French toast is probably a favorite out of the bunch.   It can be jazzed up with different flavors such as vanilla, hazelnut, and peanut butter, to name a few.  It also is delicious just as it originally is, without any added bells or whistles.

That being said, I really love dessert.  Dessert is my favorite meal of the day.  My husband always gives me a hard time about the order in which I eat my meals, insisting I set a 'good' example by eating my dessert after I eat the actual meal.  Picky, picky.

With that being said,  I thought the only logical thing would be to make a dessert that (at least flavor wise) would fit into the meal category. 

After scouring the Internet for different breakfast flavored recipes, I settled on French Toast cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting.  I actually used two different sources for the recipes for the cupcake and the frosting, the original sources are noted by the recipes.  They turned out magnificent.  The kids liked them, and I really enjoyed them.  They were so delicious!  While we (we being my children) won't be actually eating these little cakes for breakfast, they certainly remind me of breakfast and the tasty french toast we often enjoy at our house.

French Toast Cupcakes
recipe from Life Is Better With Cake Blog

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups cake flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. cinnamon
3 lg. eggs, separated
Maple Cream Cheese Frosting - recipe follows

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Line a muffin pan with paper cupcake liners (the original recipe says approx. 12 cupcakes for are produced from the recipe, I ended up with about 21).

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter and sugar.  Mix on low until it is just incorporated, and then raise the speed to high and mix for about 10 minutes until the butter and sugar mixture is nice and fluffy.

While the butter and sugar is mixing, combine the rest of the dry ingredients into a bowl.  Whisk them together and then set aside.  In a separate bowl, combine the milk and vanilla, and then set aside.

Add the egg yolks one at a time to the butter mixture, waiting until the yolk is completely mixed in before adding the next one.

Next, reduce the speed of the mixer and alternately add the flour mixture (3 additions) and the milk mixture (2 additions).  Add just a little of each at a time, waiting until it is fully incorporated before adding the next.  Once all the milk and flour have been added, speed up the mixer until the batter is smooth.  Transfer the batter into a separate bowl.

Clean the mixer bowl out and then put the egg whites inside.  With the whisk attachment, whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks are formed.

Fold the egg whites into the batter until just incorporated. 

Pour the batter into the lined muffin pan.  Fill each cup about 3/4 full. 

Bake until the cupcakes are golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean (I baked ours for about 30 minutes, but I think 27 would have been sufficient).

Remove the cupcakes from the oven, cool completely, then frost.

Maple Cream Cheese Frosting
slightly adapted from The Cupcakery Blog

8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
Pinch of salt
1 tsp. maple syrup
2 tsp. maple extract, more or less to taste
4 1/2 cups powdered sugar

Beat together the cream cheese, butter, and salt until creamy.  (I actually softened my cream cheese and butter in the microwave for a few seconds as I forgot to set it on the counter prior to making the frosting.  I also forgot to add the salt as the original recipe suggests, and the frosting still tasted delicious, in my opinion).  Add in the maple syrup and maple extract (again, here, I actually didn't use maple syrup, I used Mrs. Buttersworth.  Not sure if this makes a huge difference, but my family thinks real maple syrup is too sweet and I didn't want to purchase a whole bottle for just one recipe).  Beat this mixture until the extract and syrup is fully incorporated.

Add in the powdered sugar, about a cup at a time, until all of the sugar has been add in.  Mix the frosting on high in between additions.  Mix until the frosting has a light and fluffy consistency.

Frost cupcakes.

When I made these cupcakes, I simply garnished them with some edible grayish pearls.  They also are delicious when garnished with bacon "sprinkles."  I just wasn't in the mood to cook up any bacon when I made these though.


Friday, February 22, 2013

It's Been Awhile

Do you ever feel like everything is crazy and that you have no time for pretty much anything but the basic functions such as eating, sleeping, working, etc.?  I sure hope so, because if I am the only one, that would suck, as well as make me feel pretty darn pathetic.

It only has been about a three months since my last post, but whose counting, right?  Go ahead and call off the search parties... I'm back.  I unsuccessfully attempted NaBloPoMo, have celebrated Thanksgiving, done Christmas shopping, baked many cupcakes, cookies, and desserts, as well as have celebrated Christmas with family since anyone has last heard from me.  I've also changed jobs, and done many loads of laundry, rang in the New Year, and probably numerous other things that would generate various degrees of interest.

So what exactly has been preventing me from posting these last few months?  Not exactly any one thing in particular.  It more has been a zillion little things that just form a unsurmountable obstacle when it comes to my time and my energy.

The holidays have come and gone.  While I absolutely love the whole holiday season, I am thrilled it has finally passed us by.  I really enjoy being with family, and just the whole spirit of the season, but the amount of stress I create for myself is not something I will miss. 

A little less than a month ago, I changed jobs at work.  While I am thrilled to be doing something different (I loved my old job, but sometimes you just gotta mix it up), it has been a rollercoaster of busy.  The transition from my old job to my new job has been a stressful one.  I think the ride will finally be over, as they have finally gotten a replacement in my old position and so I will not be juggling new and old responsibilities anymore.

Now that things seem to be settling down a little bit, I am hoping I can focus more on things that I want to focus on.  Some of these things include my new job, some projects I have around the house, my blogging, and of course spending time with friends and family.

Some things I am looking forward to this year include my kid's birthdays (which although are not for another two months, I already feel like there is some pressure - self induced, of course - to plan some sort of party or something), the new job - and the opportunities it will bring, my baby brother's wedding, and the Revenge of the Leftovers.**

(**officially, I believe that the name of the movie is going to be Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2, or something along those lines, as well as the release date has been changed to 09/27/13**)

Anyways, this post really has no specific point, other than pointing out that obviously I'm a slacker who hasn't written anything in a few months.  As well as to be an opportunity to write about my excitement over a children's movie that comes out in 217 days.  (Only 5 days until the first trailer **jazz hands**)

 I cannot wait.