Sunday, June 29, 2008

Thanks to you, Lins!

We spent this past weekend in Charlotte for my friend, Ashley's, wedding. My best friend, Lindsay, opened her home to us and we spent 3 awesome nights there. On our first night, she prepared an easy but great meal for us. So, when we got home, we made it again ourselves. Using Ken's honey teryiaki marinade, we marinated 3 chicken breasts.... they marinated most of the day but she suggested doing it overnight and I agree, hers had more flavor than ours. We grilled those up along with some pineapple. And I roasted a vegetable/potato medley in the oven....using a Hidden Valley Ranch packet for seasoning. I chose red potatoes, a sweet potato and zucchini. Easy and delicious meal. Thanks, Lins, for the inspiration.

Monday, June 16, 2008

A Sweet Dip!

I came across this recipe last week and thought it would be perfect to take to the beach with a bunch of fruit. It is really good and my favorite thing to dip in it was graham cracker sticks. Yum! The recipe came from the Delicious Meliscious blog. I didn't make it into the ball with pecans because of needing to keep it in the cooler at the beach. I figured just making it a dip would be best. I look forward to trying it as a ball as well.

1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup confectioners' sugar
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup finely chopped pecans

In a medium bowl, beat together cream cheese and butter until smooth. Mix in confectioners' sugar, brown sugar and vanilla. Stir in chocolate chips. Cover, and chill in the refrigerator for 2 hours. Shape chilled cream cheese mixture into a ball. Wrap with plastic, and chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour. Roll the cheese ball in finely chopped pecans before serving.

Friday, June 13, 2008

What's Nutella?

That is what my co-worker asked when I first mentioned nutella cupcakes, which I've seen a dozen times on the What's Cooking board. Holy moly, I couldn't believe she had never heard of it. She has no idea what she is missing. I first had Nutella in Paris back in the spring of 2000 on a college trip. I have probably only purchased it once since then, but Mike recently went to Mexico for a week for work and what did he bring back for me... yep, a jar of Nutella. Yes, he knows you can get it at the grocery store...but I was just happy to have it. Until last night, I had been putting a little on my frozen yogurt as my nighttime treat...yep, to die for. But, I knew I was going to make Nutella cupcakes, which I've seen on so many blogs are a couple of them - they have other great stuff in addition to nutella cupcakes so check them out:

Anyways, our friend, Kevin is having his annual beach party this weekend and I know I want to have our cooler stocked with goodies. So, I decided on mini nutella cupcakes... you know, the more, the merrier. These weren't as good as expected, but I think I just needed more nutella. They just seemed to dry. I think I may top them with a little dollop of nutella or chocolate icing before serving (I'll keep you posted on what I decide to do). Here's what I did:

Yep, that was it....ate it just like that. Just kidding, of course. But I could have easily stopped here, swirled in some nutella and went to town on it. Ok, ok...back to the recipe.

Mini-Nutella Cupcakes

1 box of yellow cake mix
1/2 jar of Nutella
1. Mix cake batter as directed on box.

2. Fill muffin pan/tins 3/4 of the way full with batter.

3. Drop 1/4-1/2 tsp of nutella onto the top of each one. Swirl with a toothpick.

4. Bake on 350 for about 9 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Enjoy!
And because these little treats are so precious, I'd like you to have one... a gift from me to you!

If it's Lasagna, I'll take it.

I've tried making lasagna once before in the crockpot. It was good, but I wasn't completely satisfied. For that particular recipe, you were supposed to break the noodles into small pieces and then you just stir everything together and let it cook. On this second attempt, I wanted to do something that would produce a layered lasagna so I gave it a shot. There is a lot of room in this recipe to add or change whatever you would like....veggies, sausage, etc. It's a basic recipe but it was delicious. I'm really not that picky when it comes to lasagna long as there are noodles, meat and a lot of cheese. This recipe doesn't disappoint in those areas. It basically melted in my mouth...perfect!

Crockpot Lasagna

1 lb lean ground beef
1/2 large onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
8 oz package of no-bake lasagna noodles
1 jar of spaghetti sauce (I used a little more than 1 jar actually)
1/3 cup of milk (I used ff)
15 oz of ricotta cheese (I used part-skim)
1 egg
1 1/2 cups of shredded cheddar
1 cup of 6 cheese italian (shredded)
1. Using a little olive oil, add onion and garlic to a saute pan. Then add beef. Over medium heat, cook until completely browned. Add sauce to meat and simmer for a few minutes.

2. Mix milk with ricotta cheese, add egg and mix completely. Add shredded cheeses and mix well.

3. Using cooking spray or crisco, cover sides and bottom of crockpot.

4. Pour 1/4 of meat mixture into crockpot, then a layer of noodles (you will probably need to break them in order to fit), followed by a layer of the 1/3 cheese mixture. Repeat 3 times. Then top with remaining meat mixture. Make sure all noodles around the edges are covered with sauce

5. Cook on low for 4-5 hours.

Thursday, June 12, 2008 I love salads!

This salad was a last minute throw together on our 'fend for yourself' dinner night. It was so quick and easy and it was delicious. The only new addition to this from my other salads was crispy crumbled bacon, which I wasn't sure how it would go with the strawberries.... well, it was awesome. So, here is what I did.

Strawberry Salad
romaine or spring mix
crumbled goat cheese
pecans (broken into smaller pieces)
strawberries (I cut up about 3 large ones for my personal salad)
bacon (made 2 slices)
good seasons italian (or balsamic viniagrette)

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Friends + Food = Fabulous!

Our good friends, Lani and Chad, invited us over for dinner last night. We like eating at their house because Lani is a great cook...not to mention they are super fun to hang out with. I went over right after work because she lives like 1 minute from my office and we started on the wine and I got to help with the strawberry tart. We always get in a little girl time which is fun. Anyways, she made chicken marbella with homemade mashed potatoes for dinner. Dessert was La Palette's Strawberry Tart for this week's TWD entry. As soon as she popped that crust in the oven, I knew it was going to be great. The smell alone was to die for. I could have eaten the crust with whipped cream and been a perfectly happy camper, even without any topping or strawberries...although that tasted great too. Needless to say, we thoroughly enjoyed it...oh and the game of Apples to Apples we were playing at the time she served it to us. These are a few pictures that I took...too bad I didn't get one of the finished tart...but head on over to her blog, Pleasure Cooker, for the recipes, etc. Thanks again, Lani, for an awesome dinner!

Where the magic is supposed to happen...

I figured since this blog is centered mostly around my newfound enjoyment of attempting to cook, then maybe I should show you where it all goes down. It's a good thing it's spacious because I'm all over the place when I'm trying to make something new. I love, love, love our kitchen....we had our house built so luckily we got to pick it all out....including those beautiful tile floors which are my favorite. :-) Anyways, welcome to the Becker kitchen... feel free to come on over anytime.

Monday, June 9, 2008

I've been Tagged!

Is it crazy that I'm honored to have been tagged? It's a first for me, what can I say? So, a big thanks to Amy of Sing for Your Supper and nestie hornedfroggy of My Baking Heart for being interested in me! :-)

The rules:
Each player answers the questions about themselves. At the end of the post, the player then tags 5 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know they’ve been tagged and asking them to read your blog. Let the person who tagged you know when you’ve posted your answer.

What was I doing ten years ago?
Ten years ago this month I had just finished my first year of college at the University of Virginia and headed back home for the summer. I think I was working at Ruby Tuesday.

What are five (non-work) things on my to-do list for today?
1. Stay awake!
2. Go to the's been like 2 weeks.
3. Hit the grocery store since we have been on vacation
4. Do laundry
5. Sit on the couch and watch tv

Five snacks I enjoy:
1. Baked lays
2. Apples with fluff
3. Granola Bars
4. Frozen yogurt
5. Cereal (Froot Loops or Honey Nut Cheerios)

Things I would do if I were a billionaire:
1. Help my family out
2. Donate to charities and other good causes
3. Buy a vacation home
4. Travel a lot
5. Buy a boat for my hubby

Places I've lived:
1. Chesapeake, VA
2. Charlottesville, VA
3. Suffolk, VA
4. Tampa, FL
5. Riverview, FL

Jobs I've had:
1. Waitress at Ruby Tuesday and Outback
2. I worked in the wire department for MetLife
3. Personal assistant to my current boss, but I now I manage all of the accounting for the company

Tag, you're it....

Lani of PleasureCooker
How to Eat a Cupcake
Deb of Smitten Kitchen
Cara of Cara's Cravings