Wednesday, August 31, 2011

S'mores Cookies

Few food combinations are as good as the graham cracker, chocolate, and marshmallow combo that makes up a S'more.

When I saw this cookie recipe on multiple blogs (in particular Lovin' from the Oven), I knew that I wanted to make them.

I give them five stars.


The recipe makes a lot of dough, so I saved mine for later and rolled it up for easy slice-and-bake cookies. 


S'mores Cookies
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt
1 dash of cinnamon
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened

3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs

2 cups miniature chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups mini marshmallows
2 Hershey bars, chopped

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.




In a medium bowl combine the flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking soda, salt, and dash of cinnamon. In a second larger bowl beat together the butter, sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract until creamy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Slowly beat in the flour mixture until smooth. Stir in the chocolate chips. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake for 8 minutes, and remove from the oven. Push 3 to 4 marshmallows and a few pieces of hershey bar into each cookies. Return to the oven and bake an additional 3-4 minutes until fully cooked. Cool cookies on a wire rack.

Makes approximately 4 dozen cookies.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Interior Design Virtuoso

Lately I’ve had some really brilliant decorating ideas for my future home.


Interior Design.... add that to my resume.


I’ve even cut out pictures from Southern Living and made my very own "Idea Notebook" so that I can save these ideas for when I’ve saved a lot of money.They’re ideas for when I’m an actual adult with a house and an income.


We’re talking far off future.

We’re talking very far off future.


Even though these decorating ideas aren't feasible anytime soon, I still like to make frequent use of my three favorite words (directed at Brian, of course)…


“Make this happen.”


I’ll show him a picture of a really neat thing, point to it and say “Make this happen.”

And then he's all like “Kelly, you’re brilliant!!!”


Okay, that last part where he acknowledges my brilliance has never actually happened before.

(Brian, make that happen).




My personal favorite idea of the moment—the Dutch door.


I love the Dutch door.


For some reason it reminds me of Belle from Beauty and the Beast.


Maybe one day I can pretend to be Belle, lean out of my Dutch door, and shout “Marie, the baguettes! Hurry up!”


It’s my ultimate fantasy.


Brian, make that happen.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Pulled Pork for a Blustery Day

Hurricane Irene didn't quite live up to the hype here in Raleigh, North Carolina. 

(I'm not yelling that sentence. Blogger is being difficult and wants to capitalize it for no reason.)



Saturday was simply a blustery day.

It made for a great day of cooking and eating dinner at home. I decided to try a pulled pork recipe that I found here on Food Network. It was highly rated and I have to agree that this dish is DELICIOUS!

If I make it again (which I definitely will), I would use a little less salt in the dry rub and refrigerate it overnight with the seasoning before cooking it the next day. For the beer, I used Yuengling because it was all we had in the refrigerator. 

For the dry rub:

  • 2 tablespoons salt

  • About 40 grinds black pepper

  • 2 tablespoons chili powder

  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder

  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander

  • 2 teaspoons ground mustard seed


  • 12 ounces good ale or dark beer, such as Bass

  • cloves garlic, chopped

  • 1 5-pound pork butt (shoulder of the animal)

Directions

Combine rub ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Rub all over pork butt. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour and as long as overnight.
Preheat oven to 500 degrees F. Unwrap pork and place in a roasting pan with sides about 2 inches high. Cook 45 minutes until dark browned and even blackening in places. Remove from oven. Lower oven to 325 degrees F. Pour beer over the top and add chopped garlic around the pork. Cover tightly with heavy duty aluminum foil or twice with regular foil. Poke about 10 holes all over the top of the foil. Cook pork butt 2 1/2 hours longer until so tender that it comes away very easily from center bone.
Place the meat on a plate and pour the pan juice (there will be plenty) into a saucepan. To the pan juices add:

1/2 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons whole grain Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons Worchestershire sauce
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
Bring to a simmer until reduced by half and thick, about 20 minutes.
While the sauce is boiling down, pull apart the pork with 2 forks. Pour the sauce over the pulled pork and work through until fully absorbed.
BBQ and french fries...Can't go wrong with that! 


Saturday, August 27, 2011

Five Ways to Render Him Speechless


While I was reading a lousy magazine the other night, I came across an article about woo-ing your guy.  The article gave some pretty terrible ideas, which left me wondering “Who comes up with this stuff?!”

In typical arrogant fashion, I thought to myself “Kelly, you have perfected the art of leaving Brian speechless. Why are you not getting paid to give advice?”

I never was able to come up with an answer to that question. But I was able to come up with “5 Ways to Render Him Speechless,” which I will share with you now. Free of charge.

1. Talk  About Your Menstrual Cycle.
 The other day Brian asked me if I wanted to go to the gym with him. My response? A very annoyed “I’m on my period and I’m bleeding like a hemopheliac!”

He didn’t try to pester me or mock my lame excuse. He just left the house…speechless.

2. Talk About How You Want to Live Next Door to His Parents.
 I want to live in Annapolis, Maryland. Period.

Unfortunately, I don’t think Brian is too keen on the whole idea of us moving there. This conversation usually leaves him speechless. I have a hunch, however, that he would be pretty excited about the prospect of me moving there….just me…by myself….

3. Sing in the Morning.


I’m cheery in the mornings, much like a songbird. I can’t help it that I come up with some of my best rhymes pre-sunrise. I typically wake up in a good mood, so I try to share that joy with Brian first thing in the AM. The other morning, while he was still groggy, I came up with a catchy tune with original lyrics. Something like “Eggs and Bacon, I think Brian needs a wakin’” 

Anyway, the song left him speechless. And the bathroom door may or may not have been slammed in my face.


4. Go Over Everything You Ate in the Past 24 Hours. 
I like to tell Brian everything I eat during the day, not in a list per-say but more like a conversation. For instance, if I’m about to eat some pistachios, I may tell Brian that it’s okay I’m eating these pistachios before dinner because I’ve only have a granola bar, a slice of pizza, six crackers, and 2oz of cheese all day.

Whether it’s because he’s ignoring me or tuning me out I’m not sure, but it leaves my boyfriend speechless almost every time. 


5. Ask Him Your Middle Name.
Or your birthday. Or your clothing size. Or your favorite food. Or the anniversary of your first date. Why is it that girls can remember every insignificant detail and guys never know squat? I remember asking Brian if he knew my middle name two years soon after we started dating.
    He didn’t.
    He was speechless. Or maybe he just didn’t want to tell me…my middle name.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

A New Level of Laziness

It's taking every ounce of energy I have to sit down and type this blog.

Weird 'cause I've done just about nothing today.

I win the lazy award today. I also win the lazy award for this week and this month.
Those August Goals? Laughable! I laugh in the face of those August goals.

Colby still takes the Lifetime of Laziness Award.


Raise your paw if you accept the Lifetime of Laziness award....


Okay, Colby. Award goes to you, you lazy pup.

I should've added "scenic photography while strolling along" to my August goal list, because then I would've been a successful go-doer. 






I've discovered it's easier to take cell phone pictures while walking your dog if your dog is off the leash and romping around in the fields. Brace yourself for some nasty looks. I passed about three or four of those law-abiding-citizen types and they (and their dogs) seemed really displeased about how much fun me and Colby were having. 

If you're interested in seeing more photographs of our scenic walking path just let me know. There's about a hundred more where that came from. 

Brian has told me I'm an amateur photographer and overall "not good." 
He has also said that if I'm gone for more than three to four hours on my walks, he won't come looking for me.

Sometimes (all the time) I loathe him and his honesty. 
But then I go walk it off. And take really awesome pictures. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Sort-of-Vegas Cake

In addition to the baby shower cupcakes, last weekend I also volunteered to make a cake for a friend's 30th birthday party!

I was running around like a mad woman on Friday afternoon, with mountains of confectioner's sugar on the counter, cakes in the oven, and flour all over my apron.

Since the Birthday Girl was headed to Vegas the very next day for a more official b-day celebration, I decided upon a Vegas theme cake.

I had the design perfectly planned out....

...And then I decided to go have margaritas and beers before coming home to decorate the cake at midnight on Friday.

So, slightly intoxicated, I failed to ever look at a picture of the infamous "Welcome to Las Vegas" sign that I had in mind for the top of the cake. And, seeing as how I've never been to Vegas, I'm not sure why I thought I could mimic the sign without first looking at an actual image.

For those of you who may not know, it looks like this...

I'll be the first to admit that I did a fairly poor job of capturing the spirit of Vegas in this cake, but I suppose it's the thought that counts!







I'm officially deeming this the Sort-of-Vegas Cake!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Ladybug Cupcakes!

These ladybug cupcakes were easy to make. The hard part was keeping Brian out of the kitchen! I made the flowers and ladybugs using stiff buttercream frosting, and Brian kept popping them off of the foil and eating them! 





The recipe for the cake and frosting can be found here!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Baby Shower Oreo Pops

My friend Rachel celebrated her baby shower on Saturday!


I had a great time in the company of great friends! It feels like we just graduated from college--it's hard to believe that one of my friends is about to welcome a baby! 

Though we may be getting older, we'll never be too old to enjoy Oreos!... Especially if they're the double-stuffed kind and they're covered in white chocolate!


I was inspired to make these after seeing some cupcakes that were decorated like baby rattles. Since I was already making ladybug cupcakes for the shower, I decided to make baby rattles using Oreos on a stick.

The ingredients were simple--Oreos and chocolate! I recommend the white chocolate tray from the grocery store, which makes for simple dipping once melted in the microwave.


Gently insert a lollipop stick into the Oreo, careful not to break the cookie, and then douse the Oreo in the white chocolate. I discovered that the simplest way to do this was to spoon the chocolate over the cookie and let the excess drip off. Dipping the Oreo directly into the chocolate caused the cookie crumbs to get into the chocolate and the cookie often broke.



Finally, once the chocolate hardened, I decorated the cookie using a stiff buttercream frosting. I packaged the baby rattles individually to serve at the shower.


Easy to make and easy to eat!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Photography Contest

A couple weeks ago I saw an announcement that The Pioneer Woman was holding a black and white photography contest.

I got really excited about this contest because I remembered that I have a pretty darn good self-portrait hanging in my room that is black and white.

To top it off, this photo was actually taken and developed by my very own sister for a photography assignment she had during her course at Elon.

The Pioneer Woman selects a winner and she displays all of her favorite photos on her very popular website. Maybe I wouldn't win, but I figured I had a pretty good shot at having my photograph admired by The Pioneer Woman herself.

Unfortunately, I don't know how to scan photographs onto the computer. Nor do I have a scanner. And I don't know how to use Flickr either.

Basically, I was dumbfounded. And then I forgot about the contest altogether.

Here is a photo of the photo:


After my sister developed this photo, I had a few modeling offers from Abercrombie, Hollister, and American Eagle.

I turned them all down.

I figured I'd make better money as a babysitter/six-year college student.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Do You See What I See?


I gave a slight shriek, flung open the dishwasher, and quickly snapped this photo to give you an idea of the grotesque situation I'm dealing with.

Ants.

There are currently about 200 in the dishwasher.
Three on my laptop.
And one crawling on my arm.

They have made themselves at home in the dog bowl.
And they have even made their way into the upstairs bathroom.

This wouldn't be too big of a deal except for ONE MAJOR THING:
I have a two-day baking project on my calendar that starts tomorrow!
I'm making cupcakes for a dear friend's baby shower on Saturday.

"Oh, you mean those black specs in the cupcake frosting?......Extra protein."

So I guess I'll be resorting to Plan B.

And now I have the rest of the night to figure out a Plan B.....

Monday, August 15, 2011

NC MOM

Last Friday I signed up to volunteer at the NC Missions of Mercy. Local dentists, hygienists, dental assistants, pharmacists, dental students, pre-dental students, and community volunteers help to organize the event, which provides free dental care to lower income individuals on a first-come-first-serve basis.

The MOM event took place on Friday and Saturday at the RBC Center in Raleigh, NC. It was an exhausting day, as I was up at 5:00am and volunteered for six hours before heading to work at the bank. I worked as a patient escort for extraction patients. It was a mundane task, but I got to meet a lot of wonderful people who were my fellow volunteers.

I was also impressed by how friendly all of the patients were and the gratitude they expressed! Many of the individuals seen during my Friday morning shift had slept overnight at the RBC center and had been in line since Thursday evening. I have immense respect for their effort to maintain their oral health and wait hours in line to receive health care. Many of my extraction patients were nervous and had never had a tooth pulled. Some of the patients had to have up to six teeth pulled! All of these extractions took place on the floor of the arena, surrounded by hundreds of people--not as comfortable as a quiet office setting!

Photo courtesy of Capitol Broadcasting Company (wral.com)

Every patient went through a series of stations, such as triage, x-rays, and cleaning. Also, many people received fillings and partials. There was a lab on-site that actually made the teeth after an impression had been made. A pharmacist also provided medications for the patients, which he himself had fully funded.

All of this dental care was provided for free by dentists who dedicated their money, time, and services. Approximately 800 patients were seen on Friday and an additional 300 patients were seen on Saturday.

When I got to work at the bank that afternoon, I was appalled to read the comment section of the WRAL news feature on the NC MOM event.

For example:
"4 years of dental school yields no serious issues with malpractice insurance, a 3 1/2 day work week and $450k-$600K per year income. They should be MANDATED to provide this care on one of their 3 1/2 days off since the education is heavily subsidized by taxpayers. Sheesh. And further, let dental hygienists work for themselves and the cost of cleaning your fangs would drop by 2/3s."

"Wow what a shock. Give more free services to people who barely work. I make over $30K a year, so I reckon I screwed up by having a higher paying job. Looks like I need to down grade."

"If you can stand in line 10 hours you can work overtime some, save money, and get what you need."

I was so disappointed to read the 100 comments regarding the article. The story was about dental professionals volunteering their time to help those in need (a positive story in the midsts of other depressing articles), and yet the majority of the feedback on this story was negative. 

NC MOM events are not government sponsored or tax-payer funded. It is honest and honorable charity for the less fortunate. 

I personally was thrilled help out with this wonderful cause and show my support. 

To find out more about NC MOM, visit the NC MOM website

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Date Night with Myself

Currently Reading: The Girl Who Played with Fire


Currently (and Always) Enjoying: The company of Colby


Currently Walking: A different path. No longer making the long treks from my car to campus twice/day.


Currently Preferring: Sweet Cream in my coffee.


Currently Savoring: Time alone. 

 Last week, I had a night all to myself. I cooked myself a simple meal and ate it at the table alone.
Maybe soon I'll venture out to a restaurant and eat by myself. Or go solo to a movie that I'm dying to see. 
Hmm, maybe that's pushing it. 
I'll probably never actually do that. 
But I envy the people that do.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Macaroon Brownies

I ate a heaping spoonful of brownie batter at 10am this morning.
And shoveled some more brownies in my mouth around noon.
It's about 3:30pm now and I just ate my lunch.
Which consisted of one brownie.

I'm sure most of you have read all the health articles that advise you to start your day off on a healthy foot. Because if you begin your day with an unhealthy decision, it's all downhill from there.

They are so right.

It's been a downhill ride for me since 10am, but I am completely okay with that.

Because who can resist these bad boys?


Last week, I organized my boyfriend's pantry and wrote down all the food we had on hand. Since I've been on a tight budget lately, I tried to cater recipes around the ingredients we already had in order to limit my spending.

We already had all the ingredients for these brownies except for the sweetened condensed milk. That being the case, this batch of brownies cost a little over $1! Not bad at all!


I borrowed this simple recipe from Creations by Kara.

I'm pretty sure this was my first attempt at making my own brownie batter from scratch.


Brownie batter is delicious, but it doesn't hold a candle to the heavenly taste of coconut, vanilla, and sweetened condensed milk.


This stuff is sinful!

The brownies in the center did not bake all the way, which makes for huge mess and a good excuse to eat the undercooked brownies with a spoon. 


Most of the brownies, thankfully, didn't fall apart. As always, I prefer eating them a few hours after they sit. 


I really want to start getting better at my food photography, so you can really get the full effect of these desserts! However, I first need a better camera, as I am currently using my Droid phone for all the pictures. 

No money in my near future. No SLR camera in my near future. :-(

I think I'll go eat another brownie. 











Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Last Friday

I wanted to share with you some of the highlights from last Friday in Black Mountain.

Since I'm lacking a bit in the financial department, I had to avoid the shopping. Instead, I found entertainment in photography.

I decided to photograph the town with an artistic eye.

My family members, however, just thought it was weird.





When I got bored with photography, I found entertainment playing dress-up in the old antique stores.


We enjoyed lunch at a cute sandwich shoppe and ended the trip with ice cream at Kilman's.


Black Mountain is a cute town nestled in the Appalachian Mountains. The town has a lot of personality and it makes for a perfect day trip. I enjoyed the sights, the food, and the time spent with family!

And the Answer Is.....

I know you were probably up all night trying to decide which clothing item I kept.

I won't keep you waiting any longer....


I decided to keep the brown linen top that exposes my midriff. I figure I might get a chance to wear it as a cover-up at the beach. 

If anything, perhaps it will give me motivation to do P90X Ab Ripper X so that I can sport it with confidence.