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  1. Friday, April 30, 2010

    Stuffed Peppers Worth Stuffing…

    These stuffed peppers are worth stuffing…into your face, your mouth, your belly. You will stuff yourself silly. I’ve been wanting to share this recipe with you for weeks and the stars have finally aligned.

    stuffed peppers 1 web

    My friend Julia served these to us a month or two ago…I think that night I might have eaten 3 peppers, but who’s counting? I’m telling you, they are DEEE-LISH.

    stuffed peppers 4 web

    Without further ado (I think I might say that too much on here…whatever)…the recipe!

    Stuffed Peppers Worth Stuffing...
    • 6-7 bell peppers of various colors, 1¾ to 2 pounds (I went ALL RED. They're the best in my book.)
    • 2-4 Tablespoons olive oil (I was out of olive oil - quel horreur! but canola oil worked like a charm)
    • ½ medium onion, chopped
    • 1 pound sweet or hot italian sausage, casings removed
    • 3 cups cooked rice (Julia used basic white rice and it was fabulous. I used a rice blend of Texmati, brown and wild rice and it was soooo yummy.)
    • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
    • ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
    • 1 egg, slightly beaten
    • ½ teaspoon salt
    • ½ teaspoon pepper
    • 2 8-oz. cans tomato sauce
    • ½ cup water
    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
    2. Cut tops from peppers and remove seeds and ribs. If your peppers don't want to stand up nicely, cut off part of the bottom as well to level the base of the pepper. Try not to cut through to the inside, but if you do it's not the end of the world. Brush outside of peppers with olive oil.
    3. In a medium frying pan, heat remaining olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook 2-4 minutes, or until softened. Crumble sausage meat into pan and cook, stirring to break up lumps, until it begins to lose its pinkness, 5-7 minutes. Drain the fat (use a slotted spoon or pat with papertowels).
    4. Slightly beat egg in a large-ish mixing bowl. Add rice, parsley, cheese, salt, pepper and sausage/onion mixture. Mix well.
    5. Stuff the bell peppers with rice filling, mounding top slightly. Place peppers in a 9" x 13" baking dish. Mix tomato sauce with water and pour into dish around peppers. Bake 45 minutes.

    stuffed peppers 3 web

  2. Thursday, April 29, 2010

    Cambria Cove Shopping Spree Winner!

    cambria cove milk glass cake stands winner smTime to announce the winner or the Cambria Cove giveaway! The following very lucky and randomly-chosen person will receive $150 to spend however they like with Cambria Cove…and the winner is…

    Nina, who said, “i would get gifts 4 my mother & sisters”

    I suppose karma is smiling on Nina…what a nice way to spend your winnings, Nina! (Be sure to get yourself a little something, too!)

    For the rest of you…if you didn’t notice, my cake platters are ON SALE, here and here and here. Just sayin’. I think you all should get some so we can match.

    Thanks again to Cambria Cove for such a fun giveaway! I loved reading all the comments and browsing through your favorites!

  3. Wednesday, April 28, 2010

    Chocolate Cupcakes and AMAZING Strawberry Icing

    When I was getting ready for the Cambria Cove post, I wanted to make something “cute” for the purpose of showing off my cake stands. I had these cute white paper cup thingys, so I decided to go with cupcakes. I made the batter then realized the papers I had bought were not for baking. My muffin tins are packed away somewhere, so I was left with 1 mini muffin tin and no papers. Needless to say the cupcakes were a pain in the patootey to bake, and by the time I got around to icing and photographing, I was over it! So, my cupcakes aren’t that cute. But they ARE delicious. So I have to share them anyway! (PS…if you don’t have cupcake liners, don’t make cupcakes!)

    mini chocolate cupcakes 1 web

    Have you ever seen the Cupcake Bakeshop blog by Cheryl the software quality engineer, aka Chockylit? It was one of the very first blogs I ever laid eyes on and I’ve loved it from day 1. I used one of her recipes and I loved everything about it – the cake itself came out great, and this strawberry frosting? Be still my beating heart…it is perfect. PER. FECT.

    The original post for this recipe is great – Cheryl provides detailed explanations as to why you want to perform each step of the recipe. It’s a very handy post. Thanks, Cheryl! (P.S. You have to read her bio…I love her completely non-cupcake related background!)

    chocolate cupcakes 2 web

    Chocolate Cupcakes
    • 2 sticks of butter (room temp)
    • 2½ cups sugar
    • 4 large eggs
    • 1¾ C flour
    • 1 tsp baking powder
    • ½ tsp. baking soda
    • ¼ tsp. salt
    • 1 C cocoa powder
    • 1 C milk
    • 2 tsp. vanilla
    1. Beat the butter until it's all nice and whipped. Add the sugar and beat until light and in for a long time, so the butter is completely incorporated into the sugar. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.
    2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cocoa powder. (Cheryl mentions that whisking will suffice over sifting...but my cocoa was all lumpy, so I wish I had thrown at least the cocoa through the sifter quickly...just keep an eye out for that problem in your cocoa.)
    3. Mix the milk and vanilla.
    4. Add the flour mixture and the milk mixture to the butter mixture - alternating and beating between each addition, about 3 cycles.
    5. Scoop batter into cupcake tins (with liners!!) or those uber-cute cupcake papers that Cheryl uses that I can't wait to get my hands on. ONLY FILL THEM HALF WAY. Bake for 22-25 minutes at 350, or until tester comes out clean. (Obviously my mini cupcakes baked a little shorter than that.)

    I made two kinds of icing, halving each recipe. This is exactly what I made – feel free to double these measurements if you decide to just do one flavor.
    AMAZING Strawberry Icing
    • 1 stick butter (room temp)
    • 1½ - 2 C powdered sugar
    • ⅛ C strawberry puree (I had some pretty big strawberries - ⅛ C was a little less than one giant strawberry all smooshed up)
    1. Beat butter until soft. Sift in the powder sugar and beat. Add strawberry and mix. Add more powdered sugar if you need it. Seriously...this frosting ROCKS.
    2. This is about enough frosting for one-half standard batch of cupcakes.

    White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting
    • 3 oz white chocolate
    • 4 oz cream cheese
    • ⅛ C butter (room temp)
    • 1 C powdered sugar
    1. Melt chocolate and set aside to cool. Beat cream cheese and butter together. Add chocolate and beat. Sift in powdered sugar and beat for a long while.
    2. This makes about enough frosting for one-half standard batch of cupcakes.


  4. Tuesday, April 27, 2010

    Pasta with Arugula and White Beans

    pasta with arugula and white beans 2 web

    Sunday I made the Farfalle with Arugula and White Beans recipe from Everyday Food: Fresh Flavors Fast. I was very pleased with the outcome of this recipe. It was fresh. It was fast. It was mighty tasty. Not eating meat never tasted so good! We even had a major carnivore over for dinner that night and he loved it as well. I will definitely be adding this recipe to our regular rotation!

    Here’s the recipe, with my various notes. Enjoy!

    Pasta with Arugula and White Beans
    Recipe type: Main Dish, Pasta
    • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
    • 12 ounces farfalle (Jane note: I used Campanelle pasta from Barilla and REALLY liked the shape of this pasta”¦this is going to replace farfalle for me from here on out)
    • 4 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces
    • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced (or mashed through the garlic press Jane-style)
    • 1 pound baby arugula (I had more like half a pound; I also think spinach would be nice in this recipe; and maybe even a mix of the two!)
    • 1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
    • ¼ cup walnut pieces, toasted, for garnish (BLECH. I left these out.)
    • Jane addition – freshly grated parmesan cheese to sprinkle on top!
    1. Bring a pot of water to a boil; add a generous amount of salt. Cook pasta until al dente according to package instructions. Reserve 1 cup pasta water; drain pasta.
    2. Add 1 Tbsp. butter and the garlic to the pot; cook over medium heat, stirring, until garlic is fragrant, about 2 minutes. Stir in arugula; toss just until wilted.
    3. Add beans, pasta and remaining 3 Tbsp butter; season to taste with salt and pepper (make sure you taste – I almost oversalted). Heat, tossing, until butter is melted and beans and pasta are warmed through, about 1 minute. Add enough reserved pasta water to create a thin sauce to coat pasta (I think I added about ½ of the cup I had reserved). Mangia!

    pasta with arugula and white beans web

  5. Sunday, April 25, 2010

    Week 170 Menu…and Tropicana Sweeps

    Good Morning! I have a lovely glass of juice for you to start your day.

    tropicana sweeps web

    Speaking of orange juice…okay, not really a segue since I totally set it up…but…I keep forgetting to tell you about a Sweeps contest* from Tropicana. They actually set up a special code just for my readers, which means 3 of you will win a prize! Visit the Sweeps page and use the code VALENCIA. Grand Prize is a $50 Adidas card, First Prize is a 1-hour massage from Massage Envy (I will certainly envy whoever wins this, by the way), and Second Prize is a $10 Coleman gift card. The Sweeps end on April 28 at 11:59 PM CT. Good luck!

    I can’t believe it’s already time for a menu…I looked at the date yesterday and could not believe how far into the year we are. Time, slow down just a bit, won’t you? I just know those little hands holding that glass of juice won’t be little for long enough.

    – Stuffed Peppers (didn’t get to them last week. once I make them, I’ll share the recipe. promise.)

    – Stir Fry (it’s been a while since we’ve had this) with rice and some appropriate side dish like dumplings or something

    – Omelets, toast & smoothies

    Bertucci’s Tortellini (I’m leaving out the sausage this time around…I just really feel like a yummy pasta with a creamy tomato sauce…mmmm….it’s all about the sauce this week)
    – Salad and bread

    – Leftovers

    – Eat out

    Chicken Scallopine from The Pioneer Woman (I even have my pre-measured 1 cup of white wine waiting patiently in the freezer – thank you, Freezer)

    I’m sure a few of you will notice I pretty much ripped off most of my menu ideas from you last week.  Told ya I read your menus. And love them. And use them. All the time. THANK YOU!

    So get you’re menus up here! And, don’t think I didn’t notice some of you are slacking off…or haven’t posted in the first place. Hop to it!

    *No purchase necessary. Ends 4/28/10. Please see Official Rules at website for details.

  6. Friday, April 23, 2010

    Cambria Cove Mother’s Day Giveaway – $150 Shopping Spree!

    When I shared the Raspberry White Chocolate Cake a couple of weeks ago, a few of you noticed my completely gorgeous cake stand:

    cambria cove milk glass cake stand with cake web

    I love my cake stand. I mean really love my cake stand. Last summer, Cambria Cove gave all the BlogLuxe Award winners a $100 gift certificate to their site. I had a really hard time deciding what to get (they have so many beautiful things), but I eventually settled on the large milk glass serving pedestal from Mosser Glass. When I talked with Cambria Cove about doing a giveaway for all of you, they kindly sent me the small and medium pedestals to complete my collection (thank you, Cambria Cove!!!). Aren’t they so pretty?

    cambria cove milk glass cake stand set web

    Now that I’ve gushed about how happy I am with my cake stands…time for a giveaway, don’t you think? Cambria Cove is giving away a $150 shopping spree! One of you lucky people will be randomly selected to choose whatever you like from their wonderful website! Same drill as always – simply add a comment to this post by Midnight, PT on Wednesday, April 28. Your comment can be anything, but I think you should go window shopping over at Cambria Cove and tell us what you would spend your not-so-hard-earned money on! The winner will be announced on Thursday, April 29. That’s right, the winner will have time to get some shopping done for Mother’s Day! (Although, I won’t tell if you spend it all on yourself!)

    Good luck!

  7. Thursday, April 22, 2010

    Sprinkles Cupcakes!

    Remember my riddle from Sunday? I told you that this picture…

    mwah sprinkles cupcakes web

    …pretty much spelled out an upcoming “secret” post for this week.  No one figured it out until 10 minutes before I hit publish on this post.  Go Andrea! Anybody else got it? Come on, the answer is right there all over Cate’s lips…

    sprinkles cupcakes box web

    …and that answer is…Sprinkles!

    I ate my first Sprinkles cupcake last week. And it was mighty tasty. I took my girls after school one day as a special treat. They of course were in heaven. And, I have to admit, I was pretty happy too.

    sprinkles cupcakes double chocolate web

    I’ve been resisting going to Sprinkles. The whole concept of paying $3 for a cupcake seemed kind of extravagant to me…and whenever something is so trendy, I tend to assume it’s been over-hyped. After having gone to Sprinkles, I will say this…their cupcakes are very good. They taste homemade, which is the highest compliment I can think to give a non-homemade cupcake. I’m not turning cartwheels or anything…I mean, it’s a cupcake. But I will definitely go back for the occasional “special treat.”

    sprinkles cupcakes big bite web

    The shop is very cute and it was so exciting for my little ones to stare at row upon row of cupcakes…and then get to pick one of their very own. And then dig in and make a huge mess and eat all the frosting without one peep from Mom.

    We tried a variety of flavors. Cate had double chocolate. Anna had vanilla. I had Red Velvet and Chocolate Coconut (no, I didn’t eat two…I split them with Nate…I swear!) I actually really liked each flavor a lot…but Chocolate Coconut was my fave!

    sprinkles cupcakes assortment web

    Darnit. Now I need a cupcake.

  8. Wednesday, April 21, 2010

    Guest Post on Make and Takes Today: Edible Science!

    Don’t miss my post on Make and Takes today, Edible Science Experiment: Making Butter & Whipped Cream.

    making butter and whipped cream top web

    Cate and I had a grand old time performing our cream science experiment. If you have kids, this is definitely a fun, easy and tasty project for a rainy afternoon, or any afternoon for that matter! Enjoy the post!

  9. Tuesday, April 20, 2010

    Simple Side Dishes: Roasted Cauliflower

    Today I just have a healthy and easy recipe for you. It’s so easy, in fact, I hesitate to even call it a ‘recipe.’ This roasted cauliflower is to die for. Trust me. I’ve been popping these florettes like candy for the last two days. Yum!

    roasted cauliflower web

    Simple Side Dishes: Roasted Cauliflower
    Cuisine: Side Dish
    • Cauliflower, broken up into small-medium sized pieces
    • Olive Oil
    • Salt & Pepper
    • Handful of fresh, grated parmesan cheese
    1. Place cauliflower on a baking sheet or in a 9X13 baking pan. Drizzle olive oil over cauliflower, then salt and pepper. Toss cauliflower to lightly cover all pieces with oil and seasoning.
    2. Roast in a 400-degree oven for 25-30 minutes. Stir once or twice during cooking. Check for doneness with a sharp knife, to the point where you can pierce the cauliflower fairly easily but not to the point of mushiness. Remove from oven and toss with grated parmesan cheese.
    3. Sit, eat and enjoy the simplicity and buttery goodness that is cauliflower!

    roasted cauliflower2 web

  10. Sunday, April 18, 2010

    Week 169 Menu…and Earth Day Meal Planning!

    I took the girls somewhere very special a few days ago.  Can you guess where? This photo is offering up a very good hint. Stumped? No worries…I’ll do a post this week. And I promise it will be scrumptious.

    mwah sprinkles cupcakes web

    Menu time! I’m going completely meatless this week in honor of Earth Day, which is Thursday, April 22! If you haven’t yet joined me on my New Year’s resolution journey, try taking a first, simple step this week…go without meat or processed food on Thursday. I know you can do it!

    – Tuscan Bread Soup (from Everyday Food: Fresh Flavor Fast)

    – Farfalle with Arugula and White Beans (also from Everyday Food: Fresh Flavor Fast…I kind of forgot I had this great book, so trying out a few of their recipes this week)

    – Leftovers

    Happy Earth Day! Plan a vegetarian meal in honor of Mother Earth! (Eat Less Meat is all about helping the environment. If you’re new to the blog, click here to read about my help-the-environment-through-food-choices New Year’s resolution)
    – We’ll be having oh-so-delicious and very filling Kitchen Sink Quesadillas

    – Breakfast for dinner (either waffles or an egg dish)

    – Eat out

    – Stuffed peppers (we had some amazing stuffed peppers at my friend Julia’s house – she emailed me the recipe, which I will certainly share with all of you. I think I might have even eaten three peppers that night…but who’s counting?)

    As always, thank you for sharing your menus! I really do read through them every week for ideas…don’t know what I’d do without you!  Let’s see what you you have planned this week!