September 25, 2014

Baked Spinach and Prosciutto Pasta

Cheesy Pasta with Ricotta, Spinach, Prosciutto, and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Cheesy Baked Pasta with Ricotta, Spinach, Prosciutto, and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Anytime I can throw ingredients into a baking dish and make dinner I am all for it.  And making something in large quantities just allows for more leftovers!  Fall is here and warm, cheesy, pasta always sounds good.  That's why this recipe is one of my new favorites!  Plus, baking in the oven always makes the house smell fantastic! 

I admit that I have been a little bit lazy when it comes to making dinner each night for Jamie and I.  It makes it hard when my internal clock wants me all snuggly in bed at 10pm and Jamie doesn't even get home for another hour.  I always try to stay up, but even when I do, I am pretty unmotivated to create a magical, hot and ready dinner for him at 11pm.  So a dish like this, that I can prep or even fully cook earlier in the day, really is a lifesaver.  Then I just have to preheat the oven and reheat the dish while Jamie is on his way home... BOOM... magical, hot and ready dinner at 11pm. 

Cheesy Baked Pasta with Ricotta, Spinach, Prosciutto, and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Apple Cider Cupcakes

Apple Cider Spiced Cupcakes Filled with Chunky Apple Butter and Topped with a Brown Butter Swiss Meringue Buttercream. 

Apple Cider Spiced Cupcakes Filled with Chunky Apple Butter and Topped with a Brown Butter Swiss Meringue Buttercream

Fall is here!  I think that my biggest motivation for making these cupcakes was that I wanted to be able to eat apple butter by the spoonful, an then some.  Plus, I've had these fall colored sprinkles for a while now and I have been dying to use them!  (You know, the whole "when life gives you sprinkles" thing...) Most of my creations are inspired by the sprinkles that I find. 

When Jamie and I were in college we used to take regular trips to the nearby apple farm, eat at the yummy diner, shop in the country stores, and taste and buy as many apple flavored things that we could.  After the apple season was over, we would still visit to play in the snow in the winter time. 

Fall Autumn Apple Cider Spiced Cupcakes Filled with Chunky Apple Butter and Topped with a Brown Butter Swiss Meringue Buttercream

These cupcakes are spiced with cinnamon, nutmeg and cardamom and truly give you the nice warm feeling you get from sipping hot apple cider from a mug.  You know by now that I love me some Swiss Meringue Buttercream, but when I figured out that I could use BROWN BUTTER to make it, my mouth began to water just thinking about it.  This is the best SMBC you will ever make.  And remember, Swiss Meringue Buttercreams can seem intimidating at first, but it is worth the extra effort, and really isn't difficult. 

July 22, 2014

Handmade Gift: Will You Be My Bridesmaid?

I cannot TIE THE KNOT without you by my side.  Will you be my Bridesmaid?

How I popped the question. 

bridesmaid gift champagne ring bow

Allow me to impart some history... In early Roman Times, bridesmaids formed a king of bridal infantry as they accompanied the bride to the groom's village.  This "protective shield" of similarly outfitted bridesmaids was supposed to intervene if any wayward thugs or vengeful suitors tried to hurt the bride or steal her dowry. 

However, the Western bridesmaid tradition seems to have originated from later Roman law, which required ten witnesses at a wedding in order to outsmart evil spirits believed to attend marriage ceremonies. The bridesmaids and ushers dressed in identical clothing to the bride and groom, so that the evil spirits wouldn't know who was getting married.

Luckily, I didn’t have to pick my bridal party with any of these factors in mind! I chose the women I wanted to stand by my side on the happiest day of my life.  Ladies that had stood by my side before, and ones that I knew would be by my side in the future.  I knew exactly who my maids were going to be.. to be honest, I probably knew years ago!

July 20, 2014

Honey Roasted Fig and Mascarpone Ice Cream

It's National Ice Cream Day!

Honey Roasted Fig and Mascarpone Ice Cream melting sprinkles

Every third Sunday of July we get to celebrate the best holiday ever invented... National Ice Cream Day.  In 1984, President Reagan declared the holiday and also named July National Ice Cream Month.

Because I work for an ice cream company, I have been known to substitute whole meals with ice cream when short on time during my lunch break.  So I do enjoy me some ice cream.  But more than anything I love to experiment and play with flavors of ice cream at home. 

homegrown figs ice cream fruit

I have been playing around with homemade ice cream a lot lately, Roasted Strawberry, Fresh Peach with Brown Sugar Butter Pecans, and the classic Vanilla Bean.  I am all about very simple recipes and so all of the ice creams that I have been making lately have been based off of a No Cook Ice Cream Base that uses sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, whole milk and some sugar.  That's it! Today I wanted to get a little bit fancier with a Honey Roasted Fig and Mascarpone Ice Cream, made with a cooked custard.

Honey Roasted Figs with Brown Sugar

July 19, 2014

Our Engagement Party

Champagne Brunch

Caution: Picture Overload Ahead!

Engagement party champagne brunch champagne bar
Now, I may be biased... but I believe that our Engagement Party was probably about the best ever!  My parents so graciously hosted everyone, around 50 people, in their backyard on May 4th (yes, Star Wars Day) to celebrate our engagement.  We decided to do an earlier party so that we could enjoy the beautiful day, and what's a better excuse to have an excessive amount of champagne than BRUNCH?! 
engagement party champagne brunch invite
Invites from digibuddhaPaperie

Family and close friends gathered to share marvelous food, drinks and sweets.  Jamie and I had the time of our lives and we are so thankful to my parents and others that helped make our day so special.  My future father-in-law made a very short, sweet and funny toast. It made us that much more excited for the BIG PARTY to come early next year.

engagement party champagne brunch

July 17, 2014

We're Engaged!!

The Proposal at Huntington Library and Botanical Gardens.

I have been trying to avoid using the phrase "FINALLY!" when announcing our engagement, but Jamie and I are finally engaged and boy, was it worth the wait!

engagement Huntington Library and Botanical Gardens
By March 22, 2014 Jamie and I had been dating for 8 years, 4 months and 27 days.  Yes, I did the math... That is 438 weeks or 3,072 days or 73,728 hours or 4,423,680 minutes or 265,420,800 seconds, give or take... Heehee. 
It started as a regular Saturday morning. Jamie doesn't get  a lot of weekends off, so we try to plan something fun when he does.  We had decided the night before to go to the Huntingtion Library and Botanical Gardens in San Marino, CA, a place we had been many times before.  I was in the midst of a Biggest Loser Challenge at work and wanted to go to a place where we could do a lot of walking while site seeing.  It was me that suggested going to the Huntington because we hadn't been there in a while. (Little did I know that Jamie was already scheming and was going to suggest it anyway!) As we got ready that morning, Jamie "got a call" and had to go up to his dad's house to help him move something.  A task that is done by Jamie pretty often, so I thought nothing of it.  I came to find out later that he went to my parents house to have "the talk" with my dad.  Oh, to know what was discussed during that conversation!  But Jamie has since stayed pretty hush hush about it.  I guess I'll let that remain between them.  While he was gone, I got dressed, IN WORKOUT CLOTHES, threw my hair in a pony, and went very light on the makeup.  Believe me, if I had know what was going to happen later that day, I would have spent a little more time and effort, and maybe painted my nails too.  BUT, NO! He returned about an hour later and off we went to breakfast.   
Luckily, I also remembered to grab my brand new Nikon DSLR, to practice some of my photography.  The iPhone just would not have done the day justice...
After breakfast we drove to the Huntington, I tried to persuade Jamie to leave his hoodie in the car because the day warmed up nicely, his excuse was something to the effect of, "No I'll leave it on, I don't mind, plus I'll work up a good sweat".  The real reason being that the hoodie was hiding the bulge (of the ring box) in his pocket.  He told me later that in the car ride over I reached over to touch his leg and that I had my hand an inch away from the box! He was sweating bullets... 

July 1, 2014

Broccoli and Apple Slaw

Summer Broccoli and Apple Slaw with Dijon Agave Dressing

summer broccoli and apple slaw with dijon agave dressing
Summer has arrived and I am back at the blog.  It has been a busy and exciting few months, for sure.  Don't worry all of the updates are to come soon, but let's just say "the wait is over!" ::winkwink::
I abandoned the blog for a while, but I am back!  I've got a backlog of recipes and other posts that I can't wait to share with you! We have been grilling and chilling recently and one of my new obsessions are slaws.  But not the soggy, mayonnaisey, cabbagey slaw you may be used to (Sorry Dad!)  I've been experimenting with other veggies and more vinegar-based dressings.  There are so many prepackaged slaw mixes at the supermarket now that you don't have to be a slave to the mandolin or cutting board.  They can easily be dressed and mixed any way you want; the possibilities are endless.  I love that you can make them ahead of time.  I prefer to have mine refrigerated for 1 to 8 hours before serving, but I like my slaws pretty crispy.  Depending on the veggies you use and how you prefer your slaw, you can even make it up to a day in advance.