March 14, 2015

Mr. Rogers Shows Us How to Make Crayons

As a kid, I was totally awed by watching how things were made and still am to this day. I love shows like How It's Made and Food Factory. I remember watching the episode of Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood where they showed how crayons were made. I was mesmerized. Was it Mr. Roger's soothing voice, was it the melted wax, all the colors? All I know is that at 6 years old, I was convinced that I wanted to work in a crayon factory when I grew up.

There is a Crayola Crayon Factory in Pennsylvania that I so want to go to but it's geared towards kids... Thank goodness for the Internet and YouTube which allows me to watch Mr. Rogers take us through how crayons are made and forever remember a great childhood memory!


March 9, 2015

The Best Macaroni and Cheese Recipe

I am always intrigued by recipes that claim to be "the best." I wonder how many different recipes did that person go through in order to claim that this one was the best? I don't take claims of being the best of something lightly, but I'm not kidding when I say that this just may be the best macaroni and cheese recipe that I've come across. In all fairness, I've probably only made about 4 different recipes before this one.

This particular recipe came from The Martha Stewart Living Cookbook The Original Classics. I know that in today's day and age there are so many sites to go to when looking for a new recipe, but I just love having different cookbooks on hand. Many of my cookbooks I have attached some sort of memory or sentiment to it. For example, The Martha Stewart Living Cookbook The Original Classics was given to me by my Grammie when I really started to get into baking. I've made quite a bit of recipes from this cookbook. Another special cookbook I have is one that my awesome infusion nurse coworkers made me of their recipes for special dishes they brought and took pictures of to my bridal shower. They had a foodie themed bridal shower for me, how perfect is that? :)

I wouldn't be me if I didn't tweak this recipe in some way or another... I didn't make a breadcrumb topping and I changed the amount and type of cheeses I used. I ended up using about 5 cups of cheese which included a pre-blended mix of American, sharp Cheddar, and Swiss.

I think it is really key to make sure you undercook the pasta like directed in this recipe. When you put it in the oven the pasta will continue to cook through and I don't particularly care for mushy mac & cheese. Also, the white sauce cuts down a lot of flavor so it is important to use at least one cheese with a bit of a bite to it like Pecorino Romano like the recipe calls for or Swiss like I used.

Link to the original recipe.

Macaroni and Cheese 101
adapted from The Martha Stewart Living Cookbook The Original Classics
Serves 12

8 tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter
5 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup all purpose flour
2 tsp kosher salt, plus more for boiling the pasta
1/4 tsp group nutmeg
1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
5 cups shredded/grated american, sharp cheddar, and swiss cheese blend
1 lb elbow macaroni

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Butter a 3 quart casserole dish; set aside.

2. Warm the milk in a medium saucepan set over medium heat. Melt the butter in a large, wide, pot (like a stock pot) over medium heat. When the butter bubbles, add the flour. Cook, stirring, 1 minute.

3. While whisking, slowly pour in the hot milk a little at a time (I did 1 cup at a time) to keep the mixture smooth. Continue cooking, whisking constantly, until the mixture bubbles and becomes thick, 8-12 minutes.

4. Remove from the heat and stir in salt, nutmeg, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and 4 cups of cheese. Set the cheese sauce aside.

5. In another large pot bring salted water to a boil. Cook the macaroni until the outside of the pasta is cooked and the inside is underdone, approximately 3-4 minutes. Drain the macaroni in a colander and rinse under cold water, make sure to drain the macaroni well. Pour the macaroni into the reserved cheese sauce and stir.

6. Pour the mixture into the buttered casserole dish. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top. Bake until golden brown and bubbly, approximately 30 minutes. Allow to set for a few minutes before serving.


February 21, 2015

Las Vegas Trip 2015

I've been meaning to post about my recent trip to Vegas, but work has been so busy. This is a really busy time of year with all of the different programs we have going on like competency days, preceptor workshops, new grad orientation, etc., but I don't want to bore you with that nursey stuff!

3 weeks ago myself, husband, and two brothers went to Las Vegas for a little getaway. My husband and I have been to Vegas before back in 2009 (before he was my husband hehe). My brothers have never been so I really excited for them.

We were there from Tuesday-Saturday. A lot of time spent was walking up and down the strip looking at and walking through all of the hotels, man did my legs/feet hurt! Some other highlights of the trip were that I learned to play craps, we saw Gordon Ramsay walking through our hotel, saw Britney Spears in concert at Planet Hollywood, watched the Bellagio fountains like a million times (my favorite thing to do in Vegas), took pictures at the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign, ate some amazing food, and of course had some sibling bonding. If you follow me in Instagram/Twitter you probably have seen most of these pictures. My apologies if I overwhelmed your feed with Vegas pics, I couldn't help myself.

This sign is pretty south of the strip,  I don't think we realized that when we decided to walk here hah!
Chihuly glass at The Bellagio, so pretty. 
We stayed at the Paris hotel
Went up in the Eiffel Tower, this is 460 ft above the strip overlooking the Bellagio Fountains.
Breakfast at Mon Amie Gabi in our hotel. I've always wanted to eat here since it is one of the only restaurants right on the strip. It was great for people watching and the food was really good.
We had breakfast at Le Village Buffet in our hotel. The food itself was ok, but the desserts were where it was at! This was hands down the best creme brûlée I've ever had. In. My. Life.
In-n-Out Burger! We ended up having to take a bus, a taxi, and a bit of walking to get there but it was so worth it!
I wish I had taken more pictures of the food at Bacchanal Buffet as Caesar's Palace. OMG. We all agreed that this was some of the best food we've ever eaten. If you're going to Vegas please do yourself a favor and eat here.
It's always exciting to find Dachshund things in unexpected places!


January 22, 2015

Recipe: Stuffed Banana Peppers

My apologies! I posted a picture of these banana peppers on my Instagram account and I never got around to actually posting the recipe...

My husband and I have been doing a lot of our grocery shopping at H-Mart an Asian grocery store close to our house. Their selection of produce and meats really can't be beat for the price. I bought a pack of 6 banana peppers for less than $2!

I have been off and on on the low carb diet, mostly off, but I am back at it. Today is my fourth day back on the low carb diet. This recipe is low carb and would be great for Superbowl parties.

Stuffed Banana Peppers
6 medium sized banana peppers
1 package regular cream cheese (softened)
1/2 roll ground sausage (browned)
pinch of garlic salt (more or less depending on your preference)
pinch of onion powder (more or less depending on your preference)

1. Using disposable gloves, cut the top off of the banana peppers then cut a slit from the top of the pepper about 3/4 way down the pepper. Remove the seeds. Remove your gloves carefully and set aside for use later.
2. Mix the softened cream cheese, sausage, garlic salt, and onion powder together in a mixing bowl.
3. Turn your oven on to broil.
4. Put your disposable gloves back on. Stuff the banana peppers with the mixture using a spoon, plastic baggie with the end snipped off, pastry filling bag, whatever works for you. I used a plastic baggie.
5. Place the peppers on a baking sheet and rub the peppers with a little bit of olive oil.
6. Place the peppers under the broiler and cook until the skins of the peppers blister and the cream cheese starts to ooze.

*If you don't have disposable gloves to use in the kitchen, make sure that you thoroughly wash your hands with plenty of soap and water after handling the peppers or else you will feel the burn!
Cooper got his own banana pepper!


January 9, 2015

Craving Now: Varsity Frozen Orange

I totally blame my husband for this one. My husband lived in/around Atlanta for many years. We've visited a few times and on our last trip, he just had to go and introduce me to this delicious frozen concoction which can only be found in Georgia! Over the weekend, I actually begged him to buy me a ticket to fly down there just to get a Varsity Frozen Orange.

The Varsity was established in 1928 and is the world's largest drive in. It is an Atlanta institution and a tourist attraction. The best way that I can describe the Frozen Orange is that it is a mix between a milkshake and a slushie.

I actually went so far as to Google recipes for the Frozen Orange. I came across a few and decided on this one. People who commented said that it tasted like a Varsity Frozen Orange. I was sold.

1 cup(s) ice cube(s)  
1 cup(s) sherbet, orange variety  
1 cup(s) fat free vanilla frozen yogurt  
1 cup(s) fat free milk  
2 Tbsp frozen orange juice concentrate  

Crush the ice cubes in a blender (or place them in a zip-close freezer bag, crush them with the back of heavy skillet, and place in the blender). Add the sherbet, yogurt, milk, and orange juice concentrate; puree until smooth. Yields 1 cup per serving.

I bought all of the ingredients at the grocery store, well kind of. The grocery store I went to (small independent local store) only had orange sherbet mixed with vanilla ice cream so I bought that and I didn't want to buy a thing of milk for only a cup (my husband and I are not milk drinkers) so I used heavy cream that I already had at home. I definitely didn't use a whole cup of heavy cream, just a few splashes so I didn't add as much ice as the recipe called for. My craving was satisfied as it tasted just like The Varsity Frozen Orange!

Do you think we crave more the things that we can't readily obtain? Like I get cravings for a cheesesteak from Jim's on South Street in Philly and California Roll Poke from Maui.