Wednesday, February 23, 2011

For Tiffany!

Who doesn't love Red Velvet Cake?!  It's a classic.

My friend Tiffany asked for my recipe for Red Velvet Cake & I figured I'd share it with all of you.  It's courtesy of Paula Deen, of course.  She's one of my favs!  See how excited I was to get one of her cookbooks at a bridal shower?!  The cookbook was courtesy of my Meemaw.  She definitely did her part in raising a southern girl.  ;)

My wonderful Meemaw

Ingredients for Cake:
*1 teaspoon vanilla
*1 cup buttermilk
*1 teaspoon salt
*2 1/2 cup cake flour
*1/2 lb (2 sticks) butter
*2 ounces red food coloring
*2 tablespoons cocoa
*2 cups sugar
*2   eggs
*1/2 teaspoon baking soda
*1 tablespoon vinegar

Ingredients for Icing Version 1:
*1 16-ounce box of confectioner’s sugar
*1 stick butter, softened
*1 cup melted marshmallows
*1 8-ounce package of cream cheese
*1 cup shredded coconut (optional - I do not use)
*1 cup chopped pecans (optional - I do not use)

Ingredients for Icing Version 2:
*1/2 cup Crisco
*1/2 cup sugar
*1/3 cup milk
*3 tbsp. flour
*3/4 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat eggs; add sugar.  Mix cocoa and food coloring.  Add butter and egg mixture; mix well.  Sift together flour and salt.  Add to creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk.  Blend in vanilla.  In a small bowl, combine soda and vinegar and add to mixture.  Pour into three 8-inch round greased and floured pans (use Baker's Joy!).  Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Allow cake to cook for about 15 minutes before icing.

Icing Version 1:
Blend cream cheese and butter. Add marshmallows and sugar and blend.  Fold in coconut and nuts (if you want to use these 2 ingredients).  Spread between layers and on top and sides of cooled cake.

Icing Version 2:
Beat Crisco and sugar in mixer until creamy. Mix milk and flour separate. Then add to above mixture. Add vanilla, beat until creamy and fluffy.

I put both versions of icing on here for you to choose from.  Version 2 is what my mom makes and it is delicious.  However, it will not work if it's humid outside...and we know how Florida weather can be so I provided the cream cheese version as well.

Of course, there's always the Duncan Hines version of Red Velvet Cake, but I like mine made from scratch so much more.  Enjoy! :)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

More Recipes

I'm on a role today!  2 posts!  You know I can't get away without talking about food ;)

From my last meal plan post, I was going to make Eat Clean Chicken Stacks.  I had never tried these before and I must say they were so good, easy to prepare, & clean up was a cinch!  Plus they were extremely healthy.  It was a "win-win-win" situation (reference to a hilarious episode of The Office).  The recipes calls for these to be baked, but I bet they would be so good grilled!  I was feeling especially motivated the night I made these so I took some pictures to document the process.

With ingredients as fresh as these, it's bound to be good

To prepare, slice eggplant, tomato and yellow squash thick.  Lay the eggplant on a pan covered with foil.  Next, stack the tomato on top of the eggplant, then the squash on top of the tomato, spinach leaves on top of the squash and top with chicken breast.  I drizzled olive oil & balsamic vinegar on each layer and also used some sea salt & black pepper to taste.  I sprinkled fresh basil on top of the chicken.  Before you bake, it'll look like this:

Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes.  When it's done, it looks like this:

Yum!  Let me know how you like them, my fellow clean eaters ;)  And for those of you who have never tried, this is a very easy way to start!

And now how to not eat clean! lol...On my last meal plan post I also talked about the Days of Wine & Roses Cake.  I made it last week to bring to my friend's house for our girls' dinner.  It turned out good, very moist and very similar to a chocolate chip pound cake. But I'm used to making everything homemade from scratch so it was a little different for me.  But very, very easy.
The Days of Wine and Roses Cake (served at the Ambrosia Tea Room)

1 - box yellow cake mix
1 - small box instant vanilla pudding (I used large)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup water
1 - 8oz carton of sour cream
4 - eggs
6 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 - bar German sweet chocolate, softened (I grated a semi-sweet chocolate baking bar)
Powdered sugar

1.  Preheat oven to 350
2.  Combine cake mix, pudding, vegetable oil, water, sour cream, and eggs in mixing bowl. Mix at medium speed for 2 minutes.
3.  Fold in chocolate chips and German sweet chocolate bar.
4.  Pour mixture into a greased and sugared bundt pan. Bake for 45-50 minutes(or until toothpick comes out clean). Dust with powdered sugar before serving.
Tada, minus the powered sugar!
And as a side note...have I ever mentioned how much I love Baker's Joy?!  This is the next best thing since sliced bread.  If you bake and don't use this, WHY?!  I have never had one crumb left behind on the pan when I flip a cake.  It's amazing!


I have not been keeping up with posts as often as I like, but life's been a little hectic!  Sorry for being such a slacker.

I have some very exciting news - we are moving!  YAY!  We're not buying yet, just getting another rental, but it's a much newer home, in a nice neighborhood & it has more room for us and Rosalie.  She finally gets a fenced in yard!  We are so blessed, it is such an answered prayer.  And being that my car was broken into while parked in my yard the night before last, this couldn't have come at a better time.

Some of you who are my friends on facebook saw this picture from a few months ago after our wedding.  This was a picture of our office with all of our wedding gifts...
And it still looks that way.  But not for long!  All of our stuff will find a new home.  I am so thrilled to have a big, nice kitchen with 4 operable burners.  Thank you, Jesus!

I will miss our little house that we currently live in because it was the first place Jared and I lived in together after we were married, it has old charm & it literally takes me five minutes to get to work...but it's time for us to move on.  Wish us luck on our move!

I hope everyone had a wonderful Valentine's Day!  I'm not big on the actual holiday itself because I feel like it's a corporate revenue stream, but celebrating love is never a bad thing.  I just don't think we should do this 1 day a year, it should be done everyday!  God's greatest calling is for us to love Him so we should just be bursting with love ;)  I wanted to share one of my Daily Bible Verses with you I received on Valentine's Day.  This verse is very special to me, but Pastor Whitehead's commentary really struck a cord as well.  I thought it was refreshing to be reminded that love is not supposed to be selfish, it is selfless.  I feel today that so many people in this world have a misconception about love.  I know I can't change everyone's mind, but God can and I felt the need to share:
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. – 1 Corinthians 13:4
How do you define love? For many of us, we define love as intense physical attraction or emotional bonding. But the Bible defines love very differently. In many ways, the Scriptural definition of love is not seen until things go wrong. Emotions come and go, but godly love equips us for when people test our patience. Godly love prefers others rather than focusing on ourselves. This Valentine’s Day make a decision to esteem your valentine over your own needs. When you do, your actions will speak louder than angels, gifts, or extravagant displays.

Today’s commentary by:
Dave Whitehead, Senior Pastor,

I feel so blessed to have a husband who loves me unconditionally.  I pray he knows the same goes for me.  I would not be able to love him the way I do if not for God's love & word.


Friday, February 11, 2011

Show us Your Life - Beauty Secrets!

Today I'm linking up with Kelly for Show Us Your Life: Beauty Secrets!!  I've never done one of these before, but I always read them so decided I would participate today :)

I'm nutso about "products".  Always have been.  When I was in elementary and middle school, I wasn't allowed to wear any make-up so my obsession was lip gloss and chap stick.  I had one for every different outfit, probably around 100.  Crazy!  Now that I'm grown, I can't seem to outgrow my fascination with good products.  I have tried just about everything out there and here are a few of my favorites (sorry, they're not all cheap brands! =/)

Love this facewash, so simple and exfoliating.  I don't use this all this time, just when I need a refresher.  I wasn't blessed with beautiful flawless skin, but this helps breakouts and sloughs off dead skin!

I always, always moisturize.  It's the key to keeping my oily skin under control!  This is my current fav, helping me fight back damage I've caused to my face while going to tanning beds when I was younger...

I love MAC make-up.  Every single thing I have ever bought from them has been an absolute favorite of mine!  I use their face and eye primer daily and it works great!  I have EXTREMELY oily skin and this really makes my make-up stay on all day.  Here are a few of my favorites that I use daily:

Awesome powder foundation

Favorite blush hands down - it's called Dollymix.  Gives a nice, warm glow :)

Absolute favorite lipgloss, ever.

For eyes, I don't know how I made it without this AMAZING palette before now.  The colors are so awesome and the pigments are perfect.  I wear a variation everyday.  I was on a waiting list for this for about 6 months at Sephora.  As soon as it was back in stock, I bought it right away and I'm so happy that I did!

Mascara is my one make-up must have.  If I could only use one type of make-up product it would be mascara...hands down.  I'm a blondie and unfortunately so are my eyelashes! ha ha!  This is my favorite and so very affordable :)

And finally, this post would truly not belong to me if I didn't put my one serious "beauty secret"...(well, it's not really a secret, people close to me know I use this).  Like I said earlier, I have very very very oily skin.  To help combat the oil through the day, I put baby powder in a Bare Minerals case that used to be filled with mineral veil (SO much cheaper than buying more mineral veil) and use that periodically to soak up the oil (yuck, I know).  This works!!  Does not clog pores, just gives your skin a matte looking finish.  I've done this since I was 17 years old and I'll keep doing it until my skin decides to not act like I'm going through puberty!

Happy Friday, y'all!!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Meal Plan!

This week I decided I would try a recipe out of my Eat Clean Cookbook every day of the week except for Saturday since we usually eat the leftovers all weekend.  Here is what I've come up with:

Monday: Eat Clean Spaghetti & Meatballs (we've had this before and it's SO good!)
Tuesday: Summer Roasted Salmon (probably my favorite, I make this often) with roasted asparagus & squash mixture
Wednesday: Chicken Stacks (these look so good, can't wait to try it out)
Thursday: Girls' dinner at my friend Heather's house!  I'll be bringing the dessert (of course).  I'm making The Days of Wine and Roses Cake.  I got this recipe from Leslie's Blog, you should check her out.  I love it!
Friday: Pork Tenderloin, broccoli & brown rice
Saturday: Chicken Spaghetti

This cake recipe is "semi-homemade", but from what I've read, it's a total crowd pleaser.  I can't wait to try it.

Hope you're having a wonderful Monday!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Weekend Fun and a Little Catch-up

Going back to last Sunday night, I need to post about Olive's Solemn Assembly, but I haven't had adequate time to spend posting about this very important milestone in my faith.  We, as members, we asked to spend the month of January preparing ourselves for this event last Sunday night.  A book, more like a workbook, was recommended for us to read in preparation as well.  It's called Returning to Holiness written by Gregory R. Frizzell.  And boy-let-me-tell-you was this one powerful tool.  This book broke me down and made me get on my knees in repentance.  I still haven't finished it, but it was such an eye opening book for me.  It had been a loooooooong time since I surrendered like that before God.  I would highly recommend it to each of you.  It has helped me innumerably.  Two of my biggest problems, I will admit, are sins of the attitude and worrying.  Sometimes I just have a plain ole bad attitude about various aspects of things in my life and I've always been a "worrywart" (but that doesn't make it right).  That has totally changed since reading this.  Don't get me wrong, these are both personality traits about me that I still work on day in and day out, but what a difference!  I feel as though a weight has been lifted!  I want everyone to feel this way!  So last Sunday, all members of Olive were called to attend the Solemn Assembly.  It was the single handed most amazing thing I have experienced in my life.  There was not one dry eye in the church when all was said and done.  You could feel God's mighty presence in the building and in each person.  Many people were saved, many asked for forgiveness and chose to start walking with God, and many were brought to their knees in surrender because we, as humans, cannot make it alone.  These past 2 years of my life have been so significant in my walk with God.  I feel closer to Him now that ever and I pray that everyone can feel this way too.  Life makes sense and everything just seems so much easier knowing that I'm not in control...knowing that He wants whats best for me and for me to follow His will.  Ahhh, I'm blessed!

So currently...Whew, what a busy, but FUN weekend it has been!  We started off with dinner Friday night with a couple from our Sunday school class.  We had a great time, they are such good company :)  I feel so blessed to have met them and many other couples through our connection group at church.  I've mentioned our Sunday school class in an earlier post, but in case you're just now reading this, Jared and I attend a Sunday school class, also called "connection groups", at our church.  Our class is designed for engaged/newlywed couples.  It is the perfect fit for us!  We love our teachers and all the friends we've made.  It feels like one big family.  Each month, we generally have some type of event put on that we all try to attend.  Next Sunday after church, we're heading to a teacher's house for a big potluck lunch.  Other times we do game nights, go bowling, etc.  I look forward to all of our events & thoroughly enjoy myself.  Every time we leave, I always tell Jared that I feel so refreshed.  It feels good being around people who genuinely care for you.  I struggled for so long with the concept of Sunday school.  I used to attend when I was younger (middle school was when I stopped) and I'm actually a very shy person and some of the kids were not very nice to me.  Silly, I know, but I still had that complex even as an adult.  This class has made all the difference in my life and really giving a new meaning the "church family".

Saturday was filled with wedding showers!  So many of my good friends are getting married this year and I'm in 3 more wedding before July, whew!  Plus two more to attend.  This spring will be busy, but a good busy...what's better than love and sharing in someone's joy?!  So Saturday, my friend Lauren had her shower at one and then I was off to my friend Erin's shower (I'm in her wedding) at two.  I had such a good time at both of them & of course I love to have a reason to dress up ;)  LOL I'm such a girly-girl.  I love getting dolled up for stuff like that. Especially on Saturdays because most are spent in sweats.  Ha ha..

After church this morning, Rosalie and I headed off the the dog park while Jared prepared for some depositions tomorrow.  I was kinda nervous taking her since it was her first time and I didn't know how she would react.  But she loved it!  She had to greet every person and dog that came her way.  We spent about two hours out there, walked a WHOLE lot then came on back home where she went on another walk.  I wore her little butt out :)  She's sleeping on the rug as I type.

Here's Rosie on the way home from the dog park.  She's such a weirdo, I guess she didn't get the memo to sit facing the windshield, LOL  And yes, she rode like that the whole time.

When we finally got home, she was too tired to play with her ball (her beloved, she is obsessed)

And here's one more picture just because I think she looks cute.  So mischievous, can't you tell?!  She was trying to jump on the couch (a no-no in our house)

Stay tuned for Meal Plan Monday!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Doggie Daze

I haven't updated in awhile, but lots of exciting things have been going on!  First of all, we got a dog!  Totally unexpected but super exciting!  She's a little mutt - vet says some hound, some doberman, etc. but we'll take her!  She was a rescue.  Honestly, she is so good that it amazes me.  I have never had a dog that I hadn't bought from a breeder, but there is such a difference.  She just seems so thankful and works extra hard to make her mommy and daddy happy.  She learned to sit in her first 5 days with us and already runs to the back door when she needs to go outside.  She had an accident in the house the 1st day (was our fault though) and that's been it!  She's doing excellent on a leash and is learning how to play!  We bought her all of these toys and for about a week she would just look at them and walk away, even terrified of balls or anything thrown.  Now she flings them all over and runs to catch them when we throw it.  She loves them & she definitely knows what it means when we say, "go get your ball!"  She's such a lover and cuddle bug too:)  She sleeps in her kennel all night long, without a whimper & gets up whenever we do.  Rosalie is her name.  Here's a picture of her after we first got her.  I think her nose has grown some since then, he he he.
Isn't she cute?!  I may be slightly biased ;)  She loves her cousins Jemma and Bo (Julie & Brian's dogs) and gets excited when we take her over to their house to run around!

I've gotten some feedback about my meal plans & people are starting to share theirs with me, love it!  Please keep it coming!  I've gotten some great ideas and new recipes along the way too.  But since it's Thursday, I figured it may be a little late to post my meal plan for this week since it's coming to an end.  So, that'll have to wait until next week.

Hope everyone is having a great week!