Tuesday, May 15, 2012

National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day

Happy National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day! What does today mean, well honestly not a whole lot and it isn't as big of a day as I am sure Toll House wishes it would be because I didn't even know it was NCCCD (because I am so intimate with it I feel like I can use the acronym, I'm sure it will catch on in like 15 years or so) until about 4:30 when Michelle a co-worker found the information on Twitter.

*side-note* I really need to learn more about Twitter and how to Tweet, maybe that will be a summer project for me...Tweet every day...but then again maybe not...

So I promised the office I'd make chocolate chip cookies in honor
or remembrance of NCCCD since we will be a day late. But I am also going to support the dairy industry by serving milk with these cookies...but I guess I was already supporting them by using real butter, and wheat farmers, sugar beet producers, egg producers, and cacao producers. Wow that is a lot of agriculture in one little cookie.

Here is the recipe I used, I am a Ghirardelli girl. I use a Pampered Chef baking stone to bake my cookies, my stone is very seasoned but the only downfall is I only have one stone and I have to let it cool between batches not to over crisp the bottoms. And my special ingredient is to add a teaspoon of cinnamon to the dry ingredients.
Here is a photo of my little goodies! Please disregard my towel towel thrown on the counter and bowl of garlic bulbs...but I can't imagine ever baking without my KitchenAid!

I've been blogging from my I-Pad so I don't have all my features, sorry folks!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Wooden Signs

I love the Junk Gypsies, they are talented and crazy and can totally make junk look awesome. I'm sure it has taken many year of practice, tears, worry and plenty of alcohol to make it all happen but they are really making it big with their new HGTV series that debut last week. Check out their show info here.

I'm pretty certain that me and my friend Christy could be their Junk cousins even though we aren't related to them because if given the time, opportunity and money I think we could put together some pretty awesome ensembles, but alas we have jobs and families and hobbies. But I do have to show this off to everyone...my awesome friend made me a sign as she put it 'for her favorite blogger'. I've hung it above my book case that I turned into a wine, wine glass and cookbook storage cabinet. Yes I have enough of all of that to fill this cabinet. I found this great burlap ribbon at Wal-Mart and that is what the sign is suspended from. Yes it is off-centered so please do not adjust your TV set!

The rest of my decor is a little different...cookbooks that won't fit in the cabinet on the far left side, some of my cupcake items, sugar cookie cutters on a jewelry tree with a crown on top of it from Jennie, horseshoe wine rack hand made by my dad, wine holder from my friend Sara, awesome cow plate and a Vera Bradley apron holder that I put all my wine bottle stoppers in. The plate on the wall also came from Christy and the cross from a farm show in Nebraska.

Not a typical post but I was so excited about my sign I had to post about it!!! Thanks again Chris!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Pork and Barley

Last week I got the grilling bug! I had a very simple dinner or supper which ever you call it...on a side note I'd love to know the history behind lunch/dinner being served at noon and dinner/supper being served in the evening, but I digress...my evening meal was comprised of a grilled pork loin and barley pilaf.

I'm a fan of pork loins that are premarinated in their packs. You can get all kinds of favors and they save so much time. I grilled the pork on a medium grill, about 300 degrees, for 45 minutes...it was a one pound pork loin. I used a meat thermometer and got my meat to 140 degrees, then let it set for 10 minutes to allow the juices to redistribute throughout.

The barley was super simple...box instructions were to bring water to a boil and add the barley and salt and oil for 12 minutes. In a sauté pan I combined mushrooms, red pepper and yellow squash. I then made a light vinaigrette using lemon juice, fresh herbs (parsley and basil in this case from my herb garden), salt and olive oil and combined the veggies and vinaigrette with the barley. I like barley as a replacement to rice...different texture and a little more taste.

All in all the whole meal took an hour to prepare!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Irish Beef

I'm sure the title has confused you, honestly it was hard to type for me as well...I'm a huge proponent of American beef not only because well my family raises it but also because I just flat out think it tastes better than beef I have had in other places. BUT that leads me to this short discussion about Irish beef. About a month ago I had the opportunity to go to Ireland for the first time on a quick business trip. By quick I mean 48 hours on the ground quick but it was great because in 48 hours we got to see and learn a lot about the country from our customers and also by asking people at the hotel, restaurant and local pubs (because well it is Ireland and you have to visit at least one pub while you are there...which is actually a funny story but I'll reserve that for another time).

Since we were in a rush the day we landed we tried a culinary Irish treat called McDonald's. I don't eat McDonald's often, honestly only if it is my last resort when I am over here but I have to admit I was curious if it was similar to the US version and sure enough it was, I'm impressed with their branding and consistency across the pond. But the one thing that caught my eye immediately was the tray liner promoting that the beef in the McDonald's burgers were 100% Irish beef grown by Irish producers and they introduced you to them via the tray liners.

And this billboard as we drove through Cork, Ireland.

I thought it was pretty cool of them to support their local producers and make sure that the consumer knows where that meat is coming from and it reminded me of a post I did last summer about HyVee promoting local producers who supplied fruits and vegetables to the produce area.

I did have another experience with Irish beef while in Ireland from a great restaurant in the heart of Dublin owned by an American with Irish decent. The steak was top-notch, but I'll still take a good ol' American piece of beef any day.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Baseball Baby Shower

Last weekend a dear friend, Stephanie Johnson and I threw a baby shower for our mutual friend Angie Tower at her mother-in-law, Carol Tower's beautiful home. This was a very exciting shower for us since we knew that Angie and her husband Jason were going to have a baby boy and that they both enjoy baseball so it was a perfect theme for the shower. We asked the mother-to-be what she wanted and she has been craving ice cream so we decided on an ice cream sundae bar. Check out my baby shower specific Pinterest board for our inspirations. From there I like to make collage of all the things that I want to do with the party...I usually go overboard here and have to pair it down, so what you see here is my revised collage.

First of all, we used TinyPrints for the baby shower invites. Their site is really easy to navigate and quick to get the invitations, they even will mail them for you if you upload a mailing list. We didn't do that though because we wanted to have everyone bring a book instead of a card to help build a library for baby Cameron which is an idea that came off of Pinterest.

We decided on a variety of toppings for the sundae bar, but especially sprinkles because that is what Angie requested.

We had Oreos, strawberries, chopped peanuts, cherries, blueberries, sprinkles, chopped Heath bars, baby blue M&M's and caramel and hot fudge sauce.

In addition to the sundae bar, we made cake balls using my Baby Cakes cake pop maker and dipping them in melting chocolates and using red gel Wilton icing from a tube to draw on the 'threads' of the baseball.

And we had Stephanie Hotsenpiller with Sweet J's Cake Decorating make us sugar cookies in the shape and design of baseball jerseys which were amazing and VERY reasonable in price. Stephanie is located in Drexel, MO and does all sorts of cakes, cookies, etc. I encourage everyone to check her out at her Facebook page.

The decorations were all ideas from Pinterest as well, but we were fortunate that Carol has such a beautiful house and we didn't require much. Mrs. Johnson made an awesome banner using papers that were baseball or red and blue themed to hang along the island and mantel. She also came up with questions to ask Angie about motherhood that she had blown up into balloons which we stuffed in presents and as she came to a present she had to pop the balloon, read the question and answer it or complete the task on the piece of paper in the balloon. Carol also has a ceramic dog on her front step that typically is decorated in Buffalo Bills attire, but after her husband left she decked porch dog out in baby attire and he was perfect and set the tone for the whole shower.

We had so much fun and now can't wait for the arrival of baby Cameron in early June!

The whole crew!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Celebrate Beef Month

May is national beef month and I'm pretty excited about it, because I really need another excuse to eat beef! Over the past few years I've posted some recipes and information about beef and will try and post some more over the course of the next 31 days. It really is a perfect time of year for beef considering the weather is warming up outside and you can pull out the grill...I am not sure if there is a smell I love better than beef on the grill! It is also almost Cinco de Mayo and what better way to celebrate than with some steak fajitas or if you want to be really bad loaded ground beef nachos!

If you are thinking about beef tonight or planning your weekly meals, I encourage you to check out the site http://www.beefitswhatsfordinner.com/. They have awesome nutritional information about beef, details about BOLD (Beef in an Optimal Lean Diet), tips on how to purchase beef and recipes on how to cook beef.

If you don't have time to visit the Beef it's Whats For Dinner site today but still want a recipe check out these two below. Two of my all time favorites!

Heart Healthy Beef Filets
Grilled Dr. Pepper Tenderloin - From the Texas Cowboy's Cookbook