Wednesday, August 28, 2013

What's Been Keeping Me Busy Lately...

Sorry I have been away. I have been occupied by some exciting things.

I started the first half of last week without the internets. I'm not a big fan of blogging from my phone or tablet, so I waited. Turns out our cable was completely severed.

I have been making use of my Mom's garden bounty. I used Bran Appetit's recipe for Homemade Tomato Paste turning six pounds of tomatoes into two cups of tomato paste. I love that I now have small frozen cubes of fresh tomato paste that I can throw into chili and soups this upcoming winter! 
I made both spicy and dill pickles. They are both refrigerator pickles and I used recipes from Simply Scratch and Buns In My Oven. They were a big hit at a recent family get-together. My cousin took a jar back to college with her.
I finally donated my hair!!! Bye, bye 8 inches! After a lot of research, I decided to donate to Children with Hair Loss. I chose this charity because they actually provide FREE wigs to the children that need them. Now I am torn between growing it back out right away and donating again or enjoying the shortness for a while.
I have our annual family reunion this weekend and it promises to be cray-cray as usual. I will be where cell phones don't work and that is pretty nice once in a while. I hope you have a great Labor Day Weekend!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Spiced Bean and Cheese Pupusas


I love Stephen Colbert!!!

This Toasty Pet Bed is adorable! I can't wait until I have a puppy!!!
ThinkGeeks 10th Anniversary Firefly Poster. 'Nuff said...
Can we talk about the genius that is the Carl's Jr. Strawberry Pop-Tart Ice Cream Sandwich?!?!? WHY don't I live near a Carl's Jr.?!?!?
I anyone else FREAKING OUT over the return of Breaking Bad?!?! With Breaking Bad and Dexter ending at the same time, I am sure I am going to have some sort of heart attack by the end of it. All my favorite characters are quickly unraveling. I might need these Breaking Bad Plushes by ThinkGeek to snuggle during the rest of the season.

Have you ever had a Pupusa? It's pretty amazing. Probably my new favorite thing. I am already getting ideas of what to stuff it with in the future. They are essentially Masa dough stuffed with yumminess. I happened to find Chorizo refried beans so, I had to use them.

Spiced Bean and Cheese Pupusas

Pupusa Dough:
3 cups masa harina
2 1/2 cups water
1 tsp salt

Filling and Topping:
15 oz. fat free refried beans
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

Pour the masa harina into a large bowl and stir in the water and salt until a soft dough forms. Let the mixture sit for 5-10 minutes. The dough will have thickened into a soft texture. If it seems sticky, add a little more masa
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

While the dough is resting, mix the beans with the chili powder, smoked paprika, garlic powder, cumin, salt, and pepper.

Divide the dough into 12 equal pieces. Take one piece of dough, roll it into a ball, use your fingers to make a well in the center dough and work it until you form a cup that has sides that are about 1/4-inch thick.

Scoop about 2 Tbsp of the bean mixture into the well of the masa, pull the sides of the dough over the bean filling and seal the edges carefully.

Place the pupusa on a cutting board or flat surface and gently roll or pat it out (using your hands or a rolling pin) until the pupusa is about 1/2-inch thick, being careful to not burst it open and let the filling come out. Repeat this until all your pupusas are filled and rolled out.

Heat a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1-2 pupusas at a time and let them brown on each side, about 2-3 minutes.

Flip the pupusas onto a baking sheet, top with the shredded cheese, and bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until the pupusas are hot and the cheese is melted and beginning to brown.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Oatmeal Cream Cheese Butterscotch Bars


This would be really pretty in the kitchen for pre-cut herbs.
This Pebble Smart Watch is super cool. You can customize the display and it uses Bluetooth to give you notifications from your phone and texts. AND it comes in ORANGE!!! (clearly that is the most important part) 
Happy Hubby let me get this Easel Media Stand from World Market that I have been BEGGING for. It's our first big purchase for our home decor and I love it, I love it, I love it!!! I spent the whole day reorganizing and I have found a new love for our apartment.
The Inn at Christmas Place in Tennessee celebrates Christmas year 'round!! I want to go to there.
Yeah they do

I made these Oatmeal Cream Cheese Butterscotch Bars a while back and they were a big hit. I have shared the recipe but I realized I haven't shared it here. I must make them again soon. They have all of my favorite elements. Cream cheese, oatmeal, and butterscotch. WIN!

Oatmeal Cream Cheese Butterscotch Bars

2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into pea-sized pieces, plus more for pan
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups old fashioned rolled oats
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 (11-ounce) bag butterscotch chips
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, at room temperature
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Drape a 9 by 13-inch pan with overlapping pieces of aluminum foil, creating handles for easy removal. Butter the paper, and reserve.

In a food processor add the flour, oats and brown sugar and pulse to combine. Add the 2 sticks of butter, the cinnamon and the butterscotch chips. Pulse, pulse, pulse until the mixture forms clumps when pressed between your fingers. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl. Press half of the mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan in an even layer, reserve the other half. Bake in the preheated oven just until slightly golden and set, about 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool completely.

Beat together the cream cheese, condensed milk, lemon zest and juice and vanilla in an electric stand mixer fitted with a paddle, or with an electric hand mixer until no lumps of cream cheese remain. Spread evenly over the baked and cooled oatmeal mixture. Sprinkle the remaining half of the oatmeal mixture over the cream cheese. Bake until the top is golden, about 40 minutes.

Cool and chill before cutting. Run a knife around the edge of the pan, and using the foil handles, transfer the bars to a cutting board. Cut into 2-inch squares with a sharp knife and serve.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Caprese Quinoa with Homemade Basil Oil

1. Pretty Timothy Sue Removable Wallpaper. I'm starting to think I need a focal wall...
2. Treehouse Hotels? I want to go to there...
3. These Cheeseburger Knitting Needles make me want to learn how to knit.
4. I WANT!!! I WANT!!! I WANT!!! I want for HHHHHHHHERBS!!! Aquafarm: Aquaponics Fish Garden
5. Funny...

I can't seem to get enough basil lately. The smell, the fresh flavor, the clipping-it-yourself-ness...

I am also starting to get Happy Hubby to enjoy tomatoes. What?!? I know. I'm shocked too. I made this salad thinking he was going to make an effort with the tomatoes but not eat them all. Then I looked on his plate and there was NOTHING left! I know he at least appreciates the tomato-basil combo that is most magical. He then said that this was his favorite quinoa salad that I have made so I knew it was time to share with you. If you have a lot of excess basil you don't know what to do with, make basil oil. Make a lot of basil oil and put it on everything!

Caprese Quinoa with Homemade Basil Oil
makes about 3 cups worth

Caprese Quinoa
1 cup uncooked quinoa
16 oz container of grape tomatoes, quartered
3/4 cup fresh mozzarella pearls (or just buy a fresh mozzarella ball and cut it into chunks)
10 large basil leaves, cut into ribbons
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper

Prepare quinoa according to directions on box (which is most likely: 2 cups water + 1 cup quinoa, bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 15 minutes). Depending on whether you want your quinoa hot or cold (it’s great both ways) either let it cool completely or immediately add in the tomatoes, cheese, basil, salt and pepper. Drizzle about 2-3 tablespoons of basil oil over top and serve!

Basil Oil
1 cup olive oil
1 1/2 cups packed basil leaves (I used 3 handfuls), coarsely chopped

Blend oil and basil leaves in a blender or food processor for 30-60 seconds, just until the two are mix. Pour mixture into a small saucepan and heat over medium heat, just until bubbles appear around the edges. Heat for about 5 minutes, the remove from heat and let cool completely. Once cool, pour through a fine mesh strainer and press on the basil leaves to release all the oil. Store in an airtight container for 2-3 weeks – stays fresh best if set in the fridge.