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Archive for September, 2013

dining out cookbook If you’ve ever wished you could have a recipe for a dish from your favorite restaurant, check out the  CopyKat.com’s Dining Out at Home Cookbook 2 by Stephanie Manley.

This cookbook has everything from the Olive Garden’s much coveted salad dressing to the yummy Cinnamon Honey Butter from the Texas Roadhouse.

If you love Starbuck’s Pumpkin Spice Latte, Dairy Queen’s Peanut Butter Parfait Bars or KFC’s Coleslaw, this book has got the scoop on how to create these at home.

You’ll find Drinks, Appetizers, Soups, Main Dishes, Sides, Desserts, Breakfast, Sauces & Dressings, and Favorites. She also share a conversion chart and recipe index, sorted alphabetically and by restaurant.

Manley is the creator and author of CopyKat.com. Since 1995, she has written recipes for restaurant-style dishes that anyone can create at home

Published through Ulysses Press, CopyKat.com’s Dining Out at Home Cookbook 2 retails for $14.95.

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sunflower cupcakes finished

As the finale for the sunflower themed party I hosted last week, I made sunflower cupcakes.

I started with a basic chocolate cupcake (you can make whatever flavor you like) then mixed up a bowl of buttercream frosting (see recipe below) and tinted it yellow.

sunflower cupcake base coat

Cover the cupcakes with a thin layer of frosting then fill a decorating bag or tube with frosting. I used Wilton Tip #101.

sunflower cupcake petalStarting in the center, pipe “petals” all around the cupcake. Just keep layer them one on top of another going around in circles.

sunflower cupcake frostedIt will use a lot of frosting, so be prepared.

sunflower cupcakePlace a mini Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup in the center and ta-da! You are ready to go!

Buttercream Frosting

1 cup butter

5 cups powdered sugar

1 tbsp. vanilla

4 (or so) tbsp. milk

Beat butter on medium speed until light and creamy. Slowly incorporate four cups of sugar. Add in vanilla then mix in two tablespoons of milk and beat for about three minutes. If the frosting is too stiff, add more milk. If it seems thin, add more sugar.

She Who Had Too Much Fun Making These

 

 

 

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Peach Smoothie

For my sunflower themed party, I knew I wanted a fun, colorful drink.

Peach smoothies seemed perfect.

They were so easy to make and quite yummy (unless you ask Captain Cavedweller, but we aren’t giving him a vote in this particular instance).

The girls liked the drinks and I loved the straws!

Peach Smoothie ingredients

The ingredients are really simple (and I forgot to put ice in the photo – sorry!).

Dump everything in your blender, let it crunch and grind until it’s smooth. Pour in chilled glasses and garnish with a slice of peach.

Okay, here is the recipe…

Peach Smoothies

2 cups milk

2 cups frozen sliced and peeled peaches

1/4 cup orange juice

1 cup ice cubes

2 tbsp. sugar (optional)

1 fresh peach, peeled and sliced (optional)

Mix milk, frozen peaches, orange juice and ice in a blender. Mine has a smoothie setting. Use whatever will crunch up the frozen peaches and ice and get a nice smooth blend. Since I like things sweeter than normal people, I added a little  sugar to this, but you can skip if you want since you get some sweetness from the orange juice.

While the smoothie is mixing, set some glasses in the freezer to chill.

Once the smoothie is done, pour into glasses (six small or four large). For added panache, you can set a peach slice on top and finish with a fun straw. Mint leaves would also make a pretty garnish.

She Who Could Eat Peaches Every Day of the Year

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sunflower party theme 1Last week it was my turn to host our monthly book club meeting.

I decided to go with a Sunflower Party theme. We don’t have to do themes, but it’s fun and it helps me direct my jumbled thoughts.

I’ll be sharing some recipes and different things I did for the party this week.

Today, I wanted to share the sweet little sunflower pots I made for each place setting and then everyone took home with them.

These took about five minutes to make and turned out really cute.

Supplies you need  - Reese's Pieces, mini clay flower pots, small sunflower stems (I used silk), tissue paper, wire cutters, scissors.

Supplies you need – Reese’s Pieces, mini clay flower pots, small sunflower stems (I used silk), tissue paper, wire cutters, scissors.

Cut tissue paper into small squares.

Cut tissue paper into small squares.

Wrap around your index finger and stuff into the pot, fluffing out the edges.

Wrap around your index finger and stuff into the pot, fluffing out the edges.

Stick a stem in the pot and hold it upright with one hand.

Stick a stem in the pot and hold it upright with one hand. If you are using silk stems in a bunch, use the wire cutters to remove them and cut to length. Mine were about four or five inches tall.

Then use the other hand to pour in the candy.

Then use the other hand to pour in the candy.

And that's it! How's that for a fast and fun party favor?

And that’s it! How’s that for a fast and fun party favor?

She Who Had Way Too Much Fun With This…

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New York City Central Park alley in the Fall.Now that autumn has officially arrived, think about hosting a Autumn Celebration.

An Autumn  party theme is a great way to celebrate the season simply.

Send out invitations shaped like fall leaves or use stationery with a pumpkin or apple theme.

Bring the colors of the season into your home using shades of crimson red, burgundy, sage and earthy greens, golden yellow, and deep orange. Use accent pillows or throws to really create that warm and cozy atmosphere we associate with fall.

(Side note: you can easily recover a pillow using a swatch of felt since the edges won’t fray. Cut a piece big enough to cover the entire pillow and glue the edges or simply connect the edges by stitching with a piece of thin ribbon.)

Decorations for your party can be something as basic as a few potted mums, bundles of wheat tied with raffia bows or a pile of mini pumpkins and squash. You don’t have to get carried away with something fancy.

Your meal can be simple as well. Make a big pot of stew or a filling casserole. Finish the meal with a pumpkin flavored dessert.

If you want the party to be a more hands-on experience, do a fun activity before the meal like apple picking or visiting a pumpkin patch.

Or host an autumn bonfire. Serve up hot dogs, potato wedges and mulled cider.

However you decide to entertain this fall, just remember to enjoy the experience and not get too wrapped up in the details.

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Cheesy Chicken Casserole Plated

If you’re looking for an easy to make dinner recipe, this one is really simple.

You can use leftovers to mix this casserole in a snap and serve a piping hot, tasty meal in no time with minimum fuss!

Captain Cavedweller likes this one, as long as I use mixed veggies without the green beans. (Talk about picky eaters… we have two at our house!).

Ingredients

Ingredients – the unknown substance in the bowl is chicken stock that I had in the freezer and had not yet thawed.

Cook your veggies in the chicken stock for about two minutes in the microwave. Just to get them hot and start the cooking process. You can either add in the minute rice and cook with the veggies (using the stock instead of water) or use left-over rice. Either works fine, although the chicken stock gives the rice a nice flavor.

Cook your veggies in the chicken stock for about two minutes in the microwave. Just to get them hot and start the cooking process. You can either add in the minute rice and cook with the veggies (using the stock instead of water) or use left-over rice. Either works fine, although the chicken stock gives the rice a nice flavor.

Mix in a can of Cream of Mushroom soup. You could also use cream of celery or cream of chicken.

Mix in a can of cream of mushroom soup. You could also use cream of celery or cream of chicken.

Layer pre-cooked chicken into a casserole pan (sprayed with non-stick spray - the pan, not the chicken). I cut the chicken into bite-size pieces before layering in the pan. Top with veggie and rice mixture then cover in foil.

Layer pre-cooked chicken into a casserole pan (sprayed with non-stick spray – the pan, not the chicken). I cut the chicken into bite-size pieces before layering in the pan. Top with veggie and rice mixture then cover in foil.

Bake about 20 minutes, until everything is bubbling and looks cooked. Remove from oven, sprinkle with cheese and return to oven for a few minutes until cheese melts. Serve and enjoy!

Bake about 20 minutes, until everything is bubbling and looks cooked. Remove from oven, sprinkle with cheese and return to oven for a few minutes until cheese melts. Serve and enjoy!

Cheesy Chicken and Rice Casserole

2 cups cooked chicken (cut into small pieces)

1 1/2 cups cooked rice

Small bag of frozen veggies

1 small can cream of mushroom soup

1 1/2 cups chicken stock

1 cup shredded Colby-Jack cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Spray a casserole pan with non-stick cooking spray. Layer in chicken and set aside.

In a micro-wave safe bowl, cook veggies in chicken stock (or water) for about two minutes. You can also add your minute rice and cook with the veggies and chicken stock if you don’t have left-over rice to use.

If you aren’t cooking the rice in the stock, drain excess off veggies before mixing with rice and soup.

Otherwise, mix in the soup then spread over the chicken.

Cover the pan with foil and back about 15-20 minutes, until everything is hot and bubbling. Remove from oven and sprinkle with cheese. Return to oven (uncovered) and bake about five minutes, until cheese is a  melted pool of gooey deliciousness.

Serve and enjoy your one-dish meal.

She Who Needs to Pick Out the Green Beans Next Time

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fiveguyslogo

Back in July when we traveled to a big city for a few days of  rest and relaxation, my wonderful cousin, Brad, raved about a new burger joint and told us we had to try it.

(Thanks, Brad, for introducing us to one more way to clog our arteries… just kidding, mostly.)

Anyway, the name of the place he recommended was Five Guys.

Oh. My. Goodness.

Not only are the burgers huge – they’re delicious. Made fresh to order, you aren’t talking about some frozen patty here, folks. Fresh and bursting with flavor they serve up some of the best burgers we’ve ever eaten.

The thing that really made us drool like slobbering fools, though, is the fries.

Again, cut fresh right there and fried to a crispy golden brown with the skins on. Bags of potatoes greet you at the door and a sign lets all customers know where they purchased that day’s potatoes. Honest. You can read the sign and see that the spuds came from X Farm in Y town.

And beyond the fact I like how they support local potato growers, I love the fries. And they give them to you in abundance. Captain Cavedweller and I can easily split an order and still have plenty left we can’t eat.

Thinking it would be a long time before we had the opportunity to experience Five Guys again, we went to their website and discovered they recently opened a location only an hour from us.

FIve Guys… here we come!

She Who Has Great Cousins

 

 

 

 

 

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