Friday, January 29, 2010

*Snow Cream*

Hello all! If you haven't heard, we have gotten A LOT of snow in Faytown over the last couple of days. So... in the spirit of the event, a group of my really close friends came over to my house yesterday afternoon to get snowed in together. AND to celebrate, we made snow cream tonight. It was super yummy and super fun! Check out the pictures and recipe below. :O)

Recipe: 8 cups of snow, 1 cup of sugar, and 1 cup of milk. Add chocolate chips or nuts or whatever topping you would like to taste. Make sure you do it outside so that it doesn't melt, and it's helpful to use a plastic or wooden spoon because the snow will stick to cold metal. Also, if it is too sweet or runny - just add some more snow! It was really yummy, and obviously super easy too! :o)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Magic Cookie Bars

Magic Cookie Bars are a Lippert Family staple, and they are SO easy to make! I make them all the time for friends. You just throw all the ingredients in the pan and then pop them in the oven for 25 minutes. Yup, that simple. Also, you can tailor them to your preference - if you don't like nuts, use toffee pieces instead. Or add extra chocolate chips, less coconut, etc. For the original recipe - check out the link below. This time I actually doubled the amount of graham cracker crumbs and then added toffee pieces too for a new twist. These are definitely the best batch I've ever made. :o)

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Key Lime Pie

So I have gotten in the habit of baking something for each of my close friends for their birthdays, and Geoff is especially a fan of key lime pie, so that is just what he got!

I found this recipe on Oprah's website and the recipe comes from Trump's Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, FL. The only important things to mention for this recipe are that when it calls for condensed milk - it does indeed mean sweetened condensed milk. Also, this recipe doesn't tell you so, but when they made this pie on Oprah's show, they topped it with white chocolate shavings and lime zest. Also, as one last note: it did take 27 or so key limes to make 2/3 cup of fresh lime juice - and from experience, fake juice from a bottle just doesn't cut it. Anyhow, everyone seemed to really like this pie, and I would definitely make it again. Here is the link to the recipe:

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Trip to the Paris of the Plains (KC, MO)

My good friends, Megan, Alana, and I traveled this past weekend to Kansas City where we met with our newlywed friends Kevin and Vicky who recently moved to Minnesota for an "Ice Break 2009" reunion of sorts in combination with an APO Regional Conference. As this post will evidence, we spent a great deal of our time in the "Paris of the Plains" eating... Haha. We had plenty of great recommendations for food from individuals familiar with the area as well as several ideas from Food Network's hit television show - Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives ( Overall, it was just a great trip, and I wanted to share my KC dining experiences with all of my blog followers. :o)

Fiorella's Jack Stack BBQ

Straight up the best rib dinner I've ever had. And likely in the top 10 of the best meals period I've ever had. The meal came with two sides, of which I sampled their french fries, cheesy corn, cheesy potatoes, and baked beans. OMG, amazing. All of it. This picture is kinda dark because I took it with my iPhone so as not to be super obnoxious in the restaurant, so it doesn't do it justice, but seriously, awesome dinner. We followed up with creme brulee, which is definitely my favorite dessert ever, but Jack Stack's was legit as well. Yum.

Grinders Pizza

Grinders was a recommendation from DDD, and all of their food was delicious. I ordered a Hawaiian calzone for my entree and not only was it huge, but it was so good. I forgot to take a photo of it, so you get the outside of the building instead... oops, haha. But all the same, yum here as well. We also sampled their crab rangoons (not a spelling error), nachos, cheesy bread, and fried mushrooms. Others ordered slices of their pizza, the "grinder" (basically a Philly cheesesteak), and several other things that I forget. I would definitely recommend stopping here for a cheap but great lunch or dinner with LOTS of options while in KC.

Mama's 39th St Diner

Mama's was also a DDD feature, and all I can say is WOW. There was a huge menu with a ton of choices and once again, everything was wonderful. The specialties included a JUMBO deep-fried cinnamon roll, specialty omelettes, and corned beef hash among other things. Vicky tried the french toast as well. Once again, it was all legit. I'm nervous to be giving all of these positive reviews (haha), but really it was just a great weekend for great food!

CANstruction in KC Union Station

Ok, so this isn't really a restaurant review or a food review, but it is food related, haha. When we went to Union Station, we came across this display with canned food for "CANstruction" - a food charity competition. I really don't have much to comment on here other than the fact that I thought it was a really cool project with a great cause. Check out the website for more details about it. The Warhol Marilyn Monroe canned food structure had received first place, although the lawn gnome was definitely my fave, haha. :o)

Monday, January 18, 2010

Pour me some wine... because I'm not pregnant!

So this post isn't so much about food, but it definitely relates as everyone knows that a good wine pairing can really make a great meal even better if you know how, and one of my favorite events of the month are my wine club gatherings. A good friend of ours, Will Morrow, works for Gallo and started this wine club this past summer. A growing group, we meet once or twice a month and each bring a bottle of a specific type of wine - typically alternating between red and white. Then each individual or couple presents their bottle describing the vintage, vineyard, why the chose that particular bottle, and any other information they find relevant or entertaining. Then we place each bottle back in their brown paper sacks and Luke secretly pours everyone a taste of each one at a time. Kirsten serves as our recorder and keeps track of everyone's scores (on a scale of 50-100) and comments for each of the different bottles. At the end of the night, we tally them up - and whoever's bottle received the highest average score wins a wine related prize brought by the previous meeting's winner. As evidences by our group's self selected club name ('Pour me some wine... because I'm not pregnant!' Haha.), we aren't very sophisticated nor do we have very refined palates, but we are advancing and our analysis as a group seems to be improving - especially since we would initially regularly select the Barefoot variety as our favorite of the night when we first started meeting, lol.

Anyhow, our last gathering was Malbec Night! So, I figured I'd first tell you a little about Malbec and then describe our group's findings after tasting seven different varieties - including two bottles of one type, which always makes things interesting. Anyhow, about the malbec: originally a French wine, it is primarily produced and considered to be Argentinian nowadays. Will has called it a very "up and coming" wine whose popularity is steadily growing but is also still fairly under appreciated. As a result, it is pretty reasonably priced. When sampling an Argentinian malbec, one should expect a medium to full-bodied red wine with ripe fruit flavors of plums and blackberry. Also, the tannins are typically a bit tight and the earthy, wood-like appeal makes for a fairly rustic, yet versatile wine. Malbecs pair well will red meats and is adaptable enough to stand up to spicy Mexican, Cajun, Indian or Italian fare (especially with tomato-based sauces). Also try with barbecue, chili, and sausage. Malbec is a particular favorite of my own.

Like I said before, our group sampled 8 bottles of wine - 7 different varieties, as pictures above. Our favorite as indicated by the highest average was the Gascon followed by the Noveciento. However, our least favorite was the Terrazas - and by quite a margin... Generally, we found different 'berry' flavors in each of the wines and varying degrees of complexity. I must admit that we have some very interesting commentary from each of our wine club members - some of my favorites from this gathering included, "fruit bomb," "oak monster," "awkward in your mouth," and "green smell." Haha, most importantly though, we all have a great time together.

As inspired by Kirsten's diligent note taking, I found a wine journal at Borders recently and have been keeping track of all the wines I've tasted since acquiring it, including each of the 7 different bottles tasted at Malbec night. I have really enjoyed being able to keep track of them all - and it should certainly come in handy when selecting an appropriate wine for meals! I will continue to include my wine pairing notes with my blog posts as we go along, so stay tuned! :o)

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Featured Chef: Megan McClellan :o)

So my BFF Megan cooked dinner for me tonight - and it was wonderful! She gave me permission to blog about her meal, and you should get excited about this post. On the menu was a Chicken Taco Salad and Mellow Yellow Cupcakes. Through this dinner, Megan introduced me to this new cookbook/recipe website called Hungry Girl. OMG, earth shattering. This book/site gives you recipes to make delicious things that are much better for you with *substantially* fewer calories. Megan and her boyfriend Justin have tried several of the recipes over the last week, and they can vouch for them all so far being awesome, and the cupcakes tonight were legit!

The beautiful Chef Megan in action! :o)

Chicken Taco Salad

This was Megan's mom's recipe (I just love her, btw). You take a drained jar of roasted red peppers (make sure you get the ones in water like Mazetti Deli-Style) and chopped onions and let simmer in a frying pan until just caramelized and set aside. Then place a bag of pre-cooked fajita chicken in another pan to warm. Add a packet of taco seasoning followed by the peppers and onions and a splash of lime until well blended. Use the chicken taco blend to top a bed of shredded lettuce, pinto beans, and any of your favorite other taco toppings - we used light sour cream, some southwestern salsa, and a few tortilla chips for an extra crunch. This was definitely one of the best salads I've ever had - so my compliments to the chef! :o)

Mellow Yellow Cupcakes

This recipe for cupcakes uses a regular yellow cake mix, but keeps out the oil, water, and egg yolks. Instead you use sprite zero, some baking powder, vanilla, and egg whites. And for the frosting, you mix light Cool Whip and low-fat vanilla pudding to create a wonderfully delicious light and fluffy topping. In exchange, you cut out more than half of the calories! Here is the link to the full recipe and comparison: And the verdict = awesome. You'd never know you lost those extra calories!

Note: You can also make the Chicken Tacos in tortillas for another version of the meal like Megan made for Justin below. Aren't they just the cutest couple? :o)

Saturday, January 9, 2010

ASG Executive Mid-Semester Retreat

For our ASG Mid-Year Executive Retreat last Wednesday and Thursday, we all pitched in and did potluck in order to keep down the budget. I was in charge of Wednesday's dinner. We were supposed to go to a cabin at Devil's Den (despite the unlikely common belief of Andrew and Erica that we were staying in tents... haha), but the weather prohibited our travel and we holed up in Mattie's apartment instead. Anyhow, we had a fun time, and really great food. Our dinner menu: leftovers from Tuesday's dinner party, as well as jambalaya, cornbread, and red velvet cupcakes (I know, you might be thinking - again? But our group just really liked red velvet cake, haha).


To make jambalaya, I use the Zatarain's box mix. It's REALLY easy. You just boil water, add the rice and spices, the meat, and any extra stuff. Bring back to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 25 minutes. I usually use chicken and sausage (I'd prefer Andouille, but I usually can't find it at Wal-Mart, so I just use smoked beef sausage), so it usually winds up to be a little more than a pound of meat as indicated by the box - I like to have some protein in each bite. It is important that you use pre-cooked meats to add to the rice. Also, I add some freshly chopped green and/or a red bell peppers as well as some onion to make the jambalya even better. Voila. This is one of my favorite meals - and like I said, VERY EASY.


I just use the mix in the package. I prefer to make cornbread muffins, but we didn't have a muffin pan where we were cooking, so a baking dish works just as well - it takes a little longer to cook though. I also usually add a tablespoon of sugar to the mix before baking as listed as an option on the package. It makes a great addition to the jambalaya.

Red Velvet Cupcakes:

See my earlier post about Red Velvet Cakes for my recipes. I did indeed roll the chocolate chips in the dry cake mix beforehand, and they didn't sink this time! I also made sure to save extra chocolate chips to top with - and the festive ASG design was courtesy of Mattie's creativity!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Dinner Party!

Tuesday night, some of our good friends were coming into town, so we decided to throw a shindig at my apartment, and I cooked dinner for everybody. On the menu: Fresh Fruit with Fruit Fluff Dip, My Mom's Homemade Lasagna, Garlic Butter French Bread, Baby Spinach Green Salad, Strawberry Shortcake, and "Better than Sex" Cake. :o)

Fresh Fruit with Fruit Fluff Dip

Megan brought me a fruit tray to serve the early arrivals with pineapple, grapes, honeydew, and cantaloupe. I added the left over strawberries from my shortcake to the plate too.

For the dip, I use one box of softened cream cheese, a container of marshmallow creme, and a spot of vanilla. Mix until smooth. Recipe courtesy of my cousin Melissa Ivie! It's my favorite fruit dip, and it's always a huge hit!

Cindy's Homemade Lasagna

My mom makes the best lasagna EVER. See the recipe below.

1 package of fresh hamburger meat - (I get 96/4 lean ground beef; 2 lbs size package)
1 large can tomato juice (any kind)
1 package of spaghetti seasoning mix - (if you want spicier get an extra pack depending on the size of the hamburger you get)
1 box of flat lasagne noodles - any kind (but NOT oven ready)
1 16 oz package of mild cheddar cheese (any kind)
1 large container of small curd cottage cheese
Vegetable oil for cooking

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add a tablespoon of vegetable oil to keep noodles from sticking. Add lasagne noodles once it is boiling & let them boil until tender - it will take 10 minutes or longer? Stir occasionally and test with fork to see when tender. Once tender, drain hot water from noodles and cover noodles with fresh cool water until ready for layering.

While water is boiling, cook hamburger meat on stovetop in a non-stick fry pan with a thin layer of vegetable oil in the pan to prevent sticking. Stir hamburger meat to help it brown with a wooden fork or spatula until fully cooked. Drain any oil if any is left after cooking. Pour tomato juice into frypan with meat & add spaghetti seasoning. Stir until well mixed and let simmer -stirring frequently - for a about 5 minutes or longer (approx.) until juice & seasoning are well blended.

Grate cheddar cheese & mix it with the container of cottage cheese and set aside. (Other cheeses like mozzarella or monterey jack could be added per your preference, but I use cheddar.)

Once all 3 parts are prepared, grease bottom & sides of a 13 x 9 cake pan (glass works good, but any kind) or a large corning ware casserole dish with shortening or butter. Cover bottom of dish with a layer of meat, then a layer of noodles, then a layer of cheese mix. Continue alternating layers until all is used. End with a layer of the spaghetti meat sauce on top of the cheese. Cover with aluminum foil.

Cook in oven at temperature on the lasagne box - 375 degrees. It will need to cook at least an hour and a half or so - until it is all bubbly. It will be like a casserole if it is cooked long enough. As long as it doesn't burn, you can't overcook it, and it gets better ever time you re-heat it in the oven.

This can be prepared the day before and then heated for an hour or so before serving. Serves quite a few(8 or 10) depending on your serving size.

*I pair lasagna with a red wine like a shiraz or a cabernet. Yum. :o)

French Garlic Bread

I just bought a couple loaves of French bread, sliced it, added a dab of butter, some garlic salt, and then baked in the oven for a few minutes.

Baby Spinach Green Salad

It's just spinach with toppings, haha. I use parmesan cheese and candied walnuts or pecans. Although we used a new blush wine vinaigrette - which is delish!

Billy's Belated Birthday Strawberry Shortcake

I missed Billy's birthday in December right after finals because I was out of town, so I owed him a dessert. He asked for strawberry shortcake, so I pulled this recipe from Paula Deen off the Food Network website:

The only difference was that I had to trim the cake since my bowl is angled and then I stuffed the trimmings into the hole space on the inside layers. To garnish, I used the top side of the cake on top and then filled the center with the leftover custard and then topped with the full strawberries.

Kayln's Bon Voyage "Better than Sex" Cake

See I asked Kayln what type of dessert she wanted me to make her to send her off on semester at see, and here is the text message she sent me: "Idk something chocolately cakey caramely maybe whipped creamy or toffeey. Any of that is good. No coconut." So that is exactly what she got, haha. I looked for a caramel cake of sorts, and then I found a couple of different recipes and kinda adapted it to my own liking. See recipe below.

I baked a german chocolate cake as directed on the bake of the box, and then directly after removing from the oven - I poked holes in the cake with the end of a mixing spoon and then poured a can of sweetened condensed milk over the top of it followed by a jar of caramel ice cream topping. Then I put it in the fridge over night to set. Before serving, I frosted it with a small container of Cool Whip topping and sprinkled with toffee pieces.

Jaime and Mattie approved of the cake. Nobody told me though - is it really better than sex? Haha. :o)

After dinner, I forced everyone into a picture, which was quite a hassle, as you can see we had quite the crowd - I wound up having to make three trays of lasagna! - but the picture was well worth the trouble. And I think overall a great time was had by all! I got lots of compliments on dinner too! :o)

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Fun Cooking & Baking Photos

Baking Christmas Cookies with Becca, Georgeanne, Erica, Jaime, & Liz - December 2008:

Steeler's Super Bowl Cake - January 2009:

Mattie's Funfetti Birthday Cake - July 2009:

Jessica's Red Velvet Cake - September 2009:

Nick's Double Chocolate 21st Birthday Cake - November 2009:

Cooking Breakfast with Erica, Billy, Kayln, and Chase - November 2009: