Oh Yeah…

And please excuse my temporary absence.  I just finished a move, and have been doing some minor renos on our house.

So the bad news is that there may be another lapse of silence…

The good news is that I will have have a painting project to show you guys once it is completed.  I just started today so bare with me!

Feel free to enjoy some previously posted Num Num Squares while you wait it out.

Num Num Squares

I found this recipe on Pinterest, and finally tried it the other day.  It has got to be one of the easiest recipes I have ever tried.  The hardest, most time consuming part is measuring out the several ingredients.  Also, you can swap out ingredients very easily which is my kinda recipe.  I like “wingin’ it”, if you will.

  • 1/2 cup Peanut Butter (I used crunchy for extra texture)
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/4 coconut oil
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 chocolate chips (I garnished the top with a few extras too)
  • 1/2 cup craisins
  • greased 9×9 dish (I used coconut oil)

Put the first 3 ingredients in a pot over low-medium heat until it is all melted together.  Next, remove from heat and add the rest of the ingredients and stir until it is all incorporated.  Pour everything into the greased 9×9, cover and chill in fridge for 2 hours.  Cut into squares (and if you’re smart you’ll cut smaller squares, cuz these little devils will catch up to ya!) Keep in the fridge.

The remains of our batch of num num squares that I made 24 hrs ago haha

Nicole’s Drunken Chocolate Cupcakes

I had a hankering for something sweet, and I had a hankering to do some creative baking.  Not to mention, I had an abundance of left over alcohol from Christmas, so I decided to combine everything to come up with these tasty cupcakes.  Enjoy!

Nicole's Drunken Chocolate Cupcakes

Nicole’s Drunken Chocolate Cupcakes

Ingredients

Cupcakes (Prep 5-10min) (Baking 20min)

  • Chocolate Cake Mix
  • 3 Eggs
  • 1/2 Cup Coconut Oil (melt in the microwave)
  • 1 1/2 Cups Bailey’s Hazelnut Liquer

Butter Cream Frosting (Prep 5-10min) (Decorating 10min)

  • 1 Cup Salted Butter
  • 3 Cups Confectioners Sugar
  • 5 Tbsp Bailey’s Hazelnut Liqeur
  • 1 Tsp Vanilla Extract

Preheat your oven to 350.

Line 2 cupcake tins with paper cupcake liners. (I only have one tin, so I baked all 24 cupcakes in two rounds)

First empty the contents of the cake mix into a medium-large bowl, and whisk the powder to get rid of any lumps.

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Next crack the eggs and add them to the bowl along with the coconut oil and Bailey’s.

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Whisk the whole lot by hand, or use an electric mixer, until the batter is smooth.

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Fill the cupcake liners about half way.  I used an ice cream scoop to help make the amounts consistent.

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Bake in the preheated oven for approx 20 min.  Start checking if the cupcakes are done around the 16 minute mark with a toothpick.  Place cooked cupcakes on racks to cool.

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Next is the frosting.  (I mixed mine while the cupcakes were baking)

Beat the salted butter in a separate bowl until white and fluffy.  This part is best completed with a stand mixer.

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When the butter is white, stop the mixer and scrape the side to be sure it all gets mixed.

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Once mixed add the Vanilla extract and Bailey’,s then beat again until all incorporated.

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Use your best judgement to scrape the sides again if need be.  Next, add the confectioners sugar and beat on low until the powder is mixed, then turn the mixer back to high to fluff the butter cream to it’s finished product.

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When there are stiff peaks, the frosting is done.

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Prepare a piping bag with a 12 tip (round opening), then fill the bag with frosting.  If you don’t have a piping bag and tips, a sturdy sandwich/freezer bag will work just fine.  All you have to do is cut a small corner off to create an opening and then you’re good to go.  I used the cloud frosting technique.  My clouds came out “drunk” looking, which I thought to be quite fitting and loved it.

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Overall I was very pleased with my finished product.  The cake was dense and tasty, likely due to the abundance of cream in the Bailey’s.  The salted butter added the sweet and salty aspect to the creamy, rich frosting.  The sharpness of the Bailey’s, along with the hazelnut flavour, really complimented the chocolate cake well.  I prefer the cupcakes chilled in the fridge, which makes the frosting hard and extra dense.  Yum!

Mmmmm

Mmmmm

I will definitely have to make these cupcakes again!

Happy New Konad Everyone!!

Happy New Year!

Where the heck have I been huh?  I tend to come in spurts.  Wow, did I really just say that?  Anyway…  We’ve had a lot going on lately, and I’ve found myself having little time to add to this blog.

The good news is for Christmas my hubby got me some Konad stamping supplies.  Yay!  I’ve seen these on many other blogs, and have always been very intrigued.

Sweet Score!

Sweet Score!

Yesterday afternoon while my daughter was napping, I decided to take a little bit of a test drive to figure all of this out.  I did a base coat with some new polish I got for Christmas, then I stamped to my hearts desire.

Randomness at its finest!

Randomness at its finest!

After I felt that I had generally got the hang of things, I removed all above polish and worked on a nude basecoat.  Then I used a fishnet looking pattern in black polish and voila!

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If you look closely, you can see some parts where the pattern smudged a bit when I applied the stamp.  Other parts you can see where I ran out of pattern, and had to go back a second time and try to make the fishnet match up.  It is a lot harder than it looks, and will definitely take some more practice.  I recommend to keep your nails as short as possible for the first few times that you do full pattern designs… Less surface area to work with right?

Wood Letters

Remember this post?  Well I decided to make initial wood letters for my friend for her house warming present.  I failed to take pics, but I made one for her and one for each of her two kids.  I guess later on, a friend of hers went to her place, saw the letters, and wanted some for her son.  She requested I make them, and also asked for them to be “Cars” theme.  I used the same “tutorial” (aka Pinterest) for this craft also.  Just bought some Cars toys and glued those suckers on too!

She ended up quite pleased with the result, and I just figured I would share.

Annual Halloween Extravaganza

Every year our good friends come over right before Halloween and we have our little celebration.  The night is filled the scary movies, pumpkin carving and yummy themed food.  This was our 4th annual party, and so a few of our menu items were reappearing guests.  Not because we were fresh outta ideas, but because they are so damn tasty, it’d be disappointing not to eat them every year.  I won’t lie, I’m kinda sad that I can’t eat them every month.

Here is a look at our spread this year…

The feast included Mummy Dogs, Jack-o-Lantern Cheese Ball, Shrimp Wonton Brains, Witch’s Brew (Wine), Goblin Eyes and Candy Corn Cupcakes!  For the most part we didn’t invent these recipes, you can find them all on the internet, but I still wanted to share our tasty delights for you.

Well, maybe I can take a little credit for the Goblin Eyes.  We had those giant delicious scallops from our trip to Newfoundland, and needed to share them with our friends asap.  I wrapped them with bacon, cuz that is the obvious scallop decision to make, then tossed some olives on top to make eyes.  *Shines nails on shirt*

Here are some pics from a past Halloween Extravaganza

Cupcakes, Apples dipped in Caramel fondue with Halloween candy toppings, Ham and Asparagus Zombie Fingers

Mummy Dogs, Jack-o-Lantern Cheese Ball, Vomit Guacamole Pepper and Chips

Soooo yummy… jealous?  You should be!

The Hunger Games Trilogy

10/10

Yes, I followed suite, and read the Hunger Games Trilogy.  It wasn’t the movie that attracted me, but the fan base.  There seemed to be a lot of interest, and not just from teenage girls like the Twilight series.  Yes, I’ll admit, I did read those too, but that was more of a guilty pleasure.  The Hunger Games however actually obtained good praise from many, and I wanted to see what all the fuss was about.  Oh, and when my husband wanted to see the movie, I knew that this would be a book I didn’t have to feel embarrassed about reading haha.

So let’s start with the first book.  It started quick and had me hooked almost instantly.  There were descriptions, which can sometimes drag out in books, or become cheesy filler, but all details here were alluring and needed.  I like how the story wasn’t too girly, but didn’t dig too deep into war technicalities etc.  So immediately I was team Peeta, I’ve gotta say.  I pictured him to look like Chris Pratt from parks and rec.  Goofy and cute, but big and strong at the same time.  All other characters were described efficiently and in a non juvenile sense, although most characters were just kids or teens.  It really takes creativity from an author to accomplish that.  I suppose the fact that these kids were dealing with such adult matters really helped in her cause.

I loved Suzanne Collins take on the future.  The costumes, the mentality, the behaviors of both the district people as well as the capitol citizens.  It was not too far off from what could actually happen in a real society and I thought that those ideas were very relate able.  The process of the Hunger Games themselves was easy to catch on to, with all it’s complexities, and left me reading on to find out as much as I could.  The Games had me on edge, but never gave me that icky feeling that thrillers often do.  I really felt for all of the participants, even though they were all trying to kill each other including the lead character, Katniss.

This book was a real page turner and every need I felt from this story was met, and then some.  After I read the book I watched the movie, and although they did an alright job, I felt kind of ripped off.  I guess most movies, based on books, get altered some how, but the movie really didn’t do the book any justice.  I don’t think Jennifer Lawrence or Joshua Hutcherson were the right actors cast for the parts they play.  Don’t get me wrong, they are both great and all that jazz, but they just didn’t feel like Peeta and Katniss to me.  Joshua is too, pointy in the face, and Jennifer acts like too much of a butch.  I suppose that is all based on my personal perceived opinion so I’ll let it slide this time around.

As for the other 2 books, I really couldn’t tell you too many specifics.  I essentially neglected all aspects of my life to read all the books in a matter of just a few days.  They really started to blend together and I became very involved with the story.

I have one complaint about the books however, and that is the romance involved.  I know they weren’t romance novels, and I wasn’t expecting some raunchy business, but Suzanne intertwined the romantic love triangle throughout the trilogy, and I felt as if I didn’t get enough closure.  The romance was dragged out for so long and then seemed to abruptly end.  Or maybe I was just depressed because it was over, and I simply wanted to know more about these people.  I really was actually depressed for a few days after finishing the books.  I felt so lost and didn’t know what to do with my time.  Okay well maybe that’s a bit of a lie, my house was a mess after being neglected for so long so I definitely had things to do with my time but that’s neither here nor there.

All in all I’d most definitely recommend this trilogy to a friend, all types of friends actually.  From the teenage girl, to your Dad to your Grandma or Grandpa, I’ve seriously had positive testimonies from all.  Read this series now! =D

Chef Michael Smith <3

It all started quite a few years ago, while I was brainlessly surfing the tube.  I was feeling creative to cook, but besides my Mom’s meals, I didn’t know much about cooking.  I had the urge to make something great but needed some good guidance.  I came across a show called “Chef at Home” on the food network, and thought I might give it a try.  Now, I don’t know if you’ve noticed from my past recipe posts, but I am not a recipe follower, and a lot of the time this habit will get me into trouble.

“…cooking, without a recipe”  Was a line directly from Chef at Home’s intro.  Could this show be more perfect for me?

I started watching, and was pleased to notice that this guy was so laid back and casual.  He was all about making tasty, easy going food.  No prim and proper business, and no crazy fancy shit that the regular joe couldn’t attempt, even if they did buy the hundreds of dollars worth of kitchen equipment.  I attempted a few of his recipes, most just from my memory, and they all turned out great.  Basil pesto, homemade peanut butter cups yummm!  One year my friend and I even made the infamous Potato Bacon Cheddar Tart for her husbands bacon themed birthday.  Even though we over did the tart, it was still so friggen good.  Come on now people, it’s bacon!  Bacon is always good.

Even for my last Birthday, my husband made me a special dinner, all of Chef Michael Smith’s recipes.  He made this cheesey sausage pasta which was delicious, and a chocolate cake that… looked really good (I think he made too many substitutions on that one).

So anyway, it’s pretty fair to say that this guy is my favourite, and about a week ago I found out that he was coming to the local University.  I was so pumped that I immediately went out and bought his new book so that he could sign it for me.  Yesterday was the day, and although I had my daughter with me (who felt it necessary to have a melt down when I was literally up next to get my book signed), I was still able to snag my autographed book and a picture with him.  Stay tuned for some of his recipes that I’ll be making.

I’m so bashful haha
*Note: I am 5’7″ so you do the math on his height.

Jealous?  (If not you really should be… did you not read how great he is??)

The Silver Lining

As I’ve mentioned before I love french tips, and I love these cloud nails.  I know, this is a REALLY exaggerated french tip, but I still love them nonetheless.  Well, I thought I’d try the cloud mani with a sheer base coat instead of color, for two reasons:

  1. Sheer is pretty and sparkley
  2. Sheer dries faster =]

I used a charcoal navy blue for the first layer of clouds, then the silver as the second layer.  Again, the silver is pretty, and dries quickly but also… silver clouds are just cool!

I really love this manicure and will for sure be doing this again.  I can’t get enough of the clouds, so easy and looks really good on.

Kale Chips

First let’s start by saying how awesome kale is for you.

I don’t really know too many ways to incorporate kale into my daily cooking, but I think I have now mastered the kale chip.  I’ve tried and tested many methods, and am now going to share my perfected method with you.

What you will need:

  • 1 bunch/head of Kale
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Salt
  • Baking Sheet
  • Parchment Paper
  • Your Awesome Self

Preheat your oven to 375 F

Pull apart all of the kale leaves and wash them under cool water.  Shake and dry the leaves as much as you can.  Now, shred the leaves from the stalks in whatever sizes you would like.  Take the pieces and towel dry each one to ensure they are dry. before placing them into a bowl.  (This was my first mistake, not drying the leaves enough which lead to an erratic cooking process and left me with randomly brown and dry or soggy chips in a single batch)

Once the leaves are in the bowl, add a little bit of olive oil and sprinkle in some salt.  I use a little spray bottle from the dollar store to add my oil, since I tend to over add if I don’t use the bottle.  Stir around the leaves with a spoon (or your hands if you don’t mind getting greasy) to make sure that they are all evenly coated.

Place the coated leaves, in a single layer, onto a parchment paper covered baking sheet (First few rounds I didn’t use parchment paper, and the leaves all turned brown before they were even close to being crispy.  Maybe my baking sheet is really old and black, or maybe parchment paper truly is awesome… do you really want to take that chance?).

The single layer usually leads to a few different batches, but that’s ok, the oven is already hot and you are on a roll.  Place the covered baking sheet into the middle of the oven for a few minutes.  Don’t even think of leaving the kitchen, you will definitely have to check on these babies often.

After maybe 5 minutes you will notice some edges, and smaller leaves will get a little bit brown.  The bits of salt will even turn into big white chunks.  Take the baking sheet out and give all the leaves a flip before returning into the oven again.  Second side takes less time to crisp up, maybe 2-3 min, then remove the baking sheet from the oven.

Place all the kale chips into a container, and start the process over again.

Now, these are best eaten fresh but if you plan to serve them later on in the day, you should leave them uncovered, or else they get soggy easily.  I made the mistake of putting mine in tupper ware and they wilted.  My quick fix?  I put them under the broiler for a few minutes, just long enough to let them dry out again.  I’m sure a toaster oven would be even more convenient.

Enjoy!

 

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