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Spaghetti Squash Lasagna Bowl

February 25, 2014 12:22 pm · Posted by Lauren G

I've had spaghetti squash, but I've never tried cooking it before. Luckily, on one of my Costco excursions, I saw a couple and decided to be adventurous. Ummm, not to brag or anything, but these turned out amazing! Spaghetti squash isn't that hard to cook. Well, cutting it in half is really hard so prepare yourself, but the cooking part, not so much. You pretty much just stick it in the oven until the squash is tender. Then, you fluff it up with a fork. I was so amazed that it actually comes apart looking like spaghetti! Crazy! The spaghetti squash has a slightly sweet flavor reminiscent of a pumpkin, which in my opinion is way better than boring pasta and healthier too!

Cutting the squash in half is a little tricky. You need a big sharp knife and some muscle. Here is a helpful video if you're having trouble.

Ahh it's spaghetti!

FOR THE ROASTED SPAGHETTI SQUASH:
  • 2 small spaghetti squash, cut in half and seeded
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
FOR THE LASAGNA MEAT SAUCE:
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • your favorite marinara sauce
FOR THE LASAGNA STUFFED SPAGHETTI SQUASH:
  • 1 cup low fat cottage cheese or ricotta
  • 1 tablespoon basil, chopped
  • 1 cup partially skim mozzarella, shredded
FOR THE ROASTED SPAGHETTI SQUASH:
  1. Preheat oven to 400F
  2. Brush the inner flesh of the spaghetti squash with oil, season with salt and pepper.
  3. Roast, skin side up until tender, about 45 minutes.
  4. Note: You can also roast the spaghetti squash whole. Prick with a small, sharp knife all over and roast until tender when pierced with a knife.
FOR THE LASAGNA MEAT SAUCE:
  1. Meanwhile, cook the turkey, about 8-10 minutes, drain and add to your sauce.
FOR THE LASAGNA STUFFED SPAGHETTI SQUASH:
  1. Fluff up some of the inside of each spaghetti squash half, divide the mixture of the cottage cheese and basil between them followed by the sauce and the cheese.
  2. Broil in the oven until the cheese has melted and turned a light golden brown, about 2-3 minutes.

(Inspired by Closet Cooking)

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Fried Bananas

February 11, 2014 12:05 pm · Posted by Lauren G

I've actually been doing this way before I saw it on Pinterest, so I'm obviously ahead of the trend. I was craving bananas foster one day but didn't have any rum so I just sauteed bananas in a pan with some butter, cinnamon and vanilla extract. It was super easy and really delicious! I guess it's kind of healthy except that I put it over ice cream...duh. Here, I tried the recipe I found on Pinterest that finishes the bananas in a honey glaze. I personally like my version better because it's a simpler, so I've included the directions for that too.

  • 1 banana, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • Cinnamon
  • Olive oil or coconut oil
Instructions
  1. Lightly drizzle oil in a skillet over medium heat.
  2. Arrange banana slices in pan and cook for 1-2 minutes on each side.
  3. Meanwhile, whisk together honey and 1 tablespoon of water.
  4. Remove pan from heat and pour honey mixture over banana.
  5. Allow to cool and sprinkle with cinnamon.

Sounds simple enough, but I have to whisk things? Come on...here's my lazy version.

  • 1 banana, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (I just eyeball it)
  • Cinnamon
  • Olive oil or coconut oil (If you're one of those "healthy" people. Butter if you're one of those "I don't care" people.)
Instructions
  1. Lightly drizzle oil in a skillet over medium heat.
  2. Arrange banana slices in pan and cook for 1-2 minutes on each side.
  3. Stir in vanilla extract and continue cooking for about 30 seconds.
  4. Allow to cool and sprinkle with cinnamon.
  5. (Not really optional in my opinion) Pour over vanilla ice cream!

(Inspired by Rachel Schultz)

Filed under: Yum, dessert, recipe Tagged with: bananas foster, fried banana, Banana, honey
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Hot Cakes

February 6, 2014 12:30 pm · Posted by Lauren G

When I was little, my dad used to get McDonald's breakfast as a special treat on the weekends. I've loved those hot cakes ever since. They're nothing like the pancakes you find anywhere else. They're thing, but still light and fluffy, and I could never figure out why. I was so excited to find a copy cat recipe online and never would have guessed to put Sprite in the batter! Unfortunately, I don't think these really tasted like McDonald's hot cakes and the consistency wasn't right either. I might play around with the recipe and see if I can come up with something closer. I also didn't let my batter rest for a full 15 minutes (I'm way too impatient for that) so that could have something to do with it. Either way, they're still great pancakes!

Sprite. Who knew?

  • 3 cups of Bisquick
  • 2 tablespoons of sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of oil
  • 1 and 1/3 cup Sprite
  • 2 eggs

  1. In a medium bowl, combine Bisquick, Sprite, sugar and oil together and mix until well blended. 
  2. Add eggs and stir until smooth. 
  3. Let mixture rest for 15 minutes so the carbonation settles out. 
  4. In the meantime, grease and heat your griddle or pan to medium-high heat. 
  5. When the mixture is ready, add it in 1/4 cup increments to the pan.  Usually, you flip when bubbles form on the top side of the pancake, but I guess my batter was too thick. Just keep an eye on them and cook until golden-brown on both sides.

(Inspired by NorCal Coupon Gal)

Filed under: Yum, Breakfast, recipe Tagged with: hotcake, Pancake, mcdonalds, breakfast
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How To Clean Your Stove Hood Filter

January 28, 2014 12:36 pm · Posted by Lauren G

I never realized how dirty my stove hood was until I read this article from one of my favorite blogs, One Good Thing by Jillee. I was on hold with Time Warner Cable, so for some reason, I decided to clean my stove at the same time. Multi-tasking! I read online that you should clean your filters once a month. I think that's a little excessive, but all the grease from your cooking collects in the filters and can even create a fire hazard! The last time I tried cleaning my hood filter, I doused it with Greased Lightning and let it sit for a while before trying to scrub, scrub, scrub. This method is way easier! My pictures below aren't of my stove hood filter, but the grate that covers the exhaust fan built into my stove top. My stove hood filter was too big any pots that I had, so I had to improvise and pour the hot water into a big tub. These grates were actually much grosser since bits of food were stuck on there too. Ick.

Nasty before

Letting the magic happen

Sparkling clean after!

First, get the biggest pot you can find, fill it with water and bring it to a boil.  Then, add 1/2 cup of baking soda about a tablespoon at a time. Add slowly because the water will fizz up. Place your icky filter into the pot and let it do the work for you.

Here's the water that I was left with after. You can see how much grease came off!

(Inspired by One Good Thing By Jillee)

Filed under: cleaning, kitchen
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Magnolia Bakery's Famous Banana Pudding

January 16, 2014 12:33 pm · Posted by Lauren G

One of my friends is obsessed with the banana pudding from Magnolia Bakery. I've never been a huge fan of banana pudding, but seriously, this stuff is so darn good. Also, since there's fruit in it, I can trick myself into thinking it's healthy. Well, I used to be able to, but not after knowing what's in this recipe! Even so, you have to try it at least once. There are only locations in New York and Los Angeles, but this recipe tastes pretty close to the original. After all, it was stolen from Magnolia Bakery's own cookbook!

  • 16 oz can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 1/2 cups ice cold water
  • Small box (3.4 oz) instant vanilla pudding mix
  • 3 cups heavy whipping cream
  • Box Nilla Wafers
  • 4 sliced bananas
  1. In the bowl of a mixer, beat sweetened condensed milk and water for about a minute. Add the pudding mix and beat for about two more minutes. Transfer to a smaller bowl, cover, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight. You want the mixture to be extremely firm.
  2. In a large bowl on medium speed, whip the heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the pudding mixture until fully combined and no streaks of pudding are visible.
  3. In a large bowl, layer wafers, bananas, and pudding. Ideally, you want three layers but if you go with a larger baking dish you might only have two. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 8 hours before serving.

(Inspired by Confessions of a Cookbook Queen)

Filed under: Yum, dessert, recipe Tagged with: banana pudding, Magnolia Bakery, Banana
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Snowflake Nails

January 7, 2014 12:55 pm · Posted by Lauren G

I spotted this on Pinterest one day and decided to give it a shot. I was a little nervous since I've never tried nail art like this and Pinterest always makes things look easier than they really are. A while ago I bought a dress from Romwe.com and they sent me a set of nail art brushes so I had everything I needed. I practiced a bunch on a piece of paper before I started, especially with my left hand, and I'm pretty proud of the results! The holidays are already over, but winter is in full swing on the east coast. I hope everyone is staying warm in the "polar vortex!"

My snowflakes are a little chubby, but not too shabby, right?

(Inspired by Pinterest. I wish I could credit the original link, but the pin is a dead end...)

Filed under: DIY, fun, Beauty Tagged with: snowflake, nail art, holidays, winter, manicure, beauty, fun, diy
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Basic Dog Biscuits

January 2, 2014 12:54 pm · Posted by Lauren G

Here's a late post on the other dog biscuits I tried. These were super easy and I love that they're customizable. I added cheese to mine, but I could imagine bacon bits being a huge hit! I didn't have any dog-themed cookie cutters, but my Christmas gingerbread man and candy canes turned out great. I also used a little heart cutter to make treats for a little french bulldog. I wish I had pictures of my doggy friends enjoying their new treats to share with you!

  • 2 ½ cups whole wheat flour (substitute regular flour or oats if your dog is sensitive to wheat)
  • 1 tsp. salt (or less)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp. Beef or chicken Bouillon granules (can substitute beef or chicken broth/stock)
  • 1 cup hot water
  • Bacon or chicken broth, eggs, oats, liver powder, wheat germ, shredded cheese, bacon bits

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Dissolve bouillon in hot water
  3. Combine remaining ingredients
  4. Add chicken stock slowly until you can knead the dough without it sticking to your fingers (Add more water if needed)
  5. Knead dough until it forms a ball (approximately 3 minutes)
  6. Roll dough on a lightly floured surface until ½ inch thick
  7. Cut into slices or use a cookie cutter
  8. Place dough pieces on lightly greased cookie sheet
  9. Cook for 30 minutes
  10. Store in an airtight container

(Inspired by Cesar's Way)

Filed under: pet, recipe Tagged with: dog biscuit, dog treat, giving, gifts, dog
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Sweet Potato Cupcakes 2

December 31, 2013 12:10 pm · Posted by Lauren G

I hope you're all having the happiest of holidays! On Christmas day last week, my mom and I made more sweet potato cupcakes. She wasn't happy with the recipe I tried on Thanksgiving because they were "too dry." I thought they were great, but maybe I overcooked them a tad. There was a lot going on that day! Right now she's obsessed with Georgetown Cupcakes. For Thanksgiving we made so many chocolate ganache and red velvet. She froze the leftover chocolate ganache so we actually made those again for Christmas Eve. For Christmas Day, we used Georgetown Cupcakes's pumpkin spice recipe and substituted sweet potatoes. My mom watched these cupcakes like a hawk so they wouldn't be too dry. They weren't. They were moist and fluffy. Just like the first recipe I tried, they're amazingly light. I felt like I could eat a whole dozen! I didn't get a chance to snap pictures during the process, but here's the final product boxed and ready to travel to Christmas dinner. We got 24 cupcakes plus 12 mini cupcakes.

Sweet Potato Cupcakes

  • Two and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 16 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups mashed sweet potato
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/3 cup hot water

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two standard cupcake pans with twelve paper baking cups each, or grease pans with butter if not using baking cups.
  2. Sift together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, and salt on a sheet of parchment paper or wax paper and set aside.
  3. Place the butter in the bowl of a stand mixer or in a bowl with a handheld electric mixer. Beat on medium speed until fluffy. Stop to add the sugar, then beat on medium speed until well incorporated.
  4. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing slowly after each addition. Mix in the sweet potato and honey. Reduce the speed to low. Add one third of the flour mixture to the butter mixture, then gradually add one third of the hot water, beating until well incorporated. Add another third of the flour mixture, followed by one third of the hot water. Stop to scrape down the bowl as needed. Add the remaining flour mixture, followed by the remaining hot water, and mix slowly until just combined. Take care not to over mix the batter so the cupcakes will bake up light and fluffy.
  5. Use a standard-size ice cream scoop to fill each baking cup with batter, so the wells are two-thirds full. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes (start checking at 15 minutes) or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool completely.

Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature 
  • 8 cups confectioner's sugar, sifted 
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 
  • 12 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature 
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup 

  1. Place all the ingredients in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; beat until well combined.
  2. Be sure to beat on high speed for at least two minutes at the end to ensure that the frosting is light and fluffy.
  3. Transfer the maple cream-cheese frosting into a plastic piping bag fitted with a large round metal tip (or piping head of your choice). 
  4. Frost each cupcake with a swirl of frosting.
(Inspired by Georgetown Cupcakes)
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Thin and Crispy Chocolate Chip Cookies

December 26, 2013 12:09 pm · Posted by Lauren G

My manager loves crispy chocolate chip cookies. She even claims to "like them burnt." So for a holiday present, I found this recipe from Food Network. I'm not a huge fan of the way these turned out. I'm not sure why, but my batches weren't consistent. Some were crispy, some were chewy, some spread more than others. It's also hilarious how the batter spreads while it bakes, but the chocolate chips stay in the center. You also have to let the dough freeze for an hour which I had to do in batches because I only have three cookie sheets. This, however, is a very crucial step. One time I got impatient and let a batch freeze for half the time. You can see the mess it made below. Also, the recipe claims that this dough is great for freezing which you can store in a plastic bag. It lies. It doesn't freeze hard, but rather it's just a sticky, gooey ball. I tried throwing some in a bag and my dough balls just morphed into one big glob.

Be sure to let you dough freeze for at least an hour or you cookies will end up like this...

  • 2 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups (3 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 whole eggs
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cups white flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons table salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 pound dark chocolate or chocolate chips

  1. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper
  2. In a stand mixer, cream the brown sugar, butter and granulated sugar until pale and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time until well incorporated. Mix in 1/3 cup of water and the vanilla.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk the flour, salt and baking soda and add to the butter mixture. Mix on low until the flour mixture is incorporated, and then mix in the chocolate pieces.
  4. Scoop out the dough onto the prepared cookie sheet and freeze for an hour. The cookies will spread, so limit 4 cookies for each cookie sheet to give ample room.
  5. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. 
  6. Bake until golden brown, 15 to 20 minutes, rotating the trays halfway through. Remove from the oven and cool. Remove the cookies with a flat spatula to prevent breaking.

(Inspired by Food Network)

Filed under: Yum, dessert, recipe Tagged with: Crispy, chocolate chip, thin, cookie
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Rosemary Olive Oil Cake

December 24, 2013 12:38 pm · Posted by Lauren G

More homemade gifts just in time for Christmas! I have a huge rosemary plant so I try to use it whenever I can like in these rosemary butter cookies. I made some cute mini loaves for gifting. Unfortunately, i didn't divide the batter evenly so I have two great loves and two sad little ones. One of them I ended up cutting into to try because I spilled some batter on the side of the pan and it burned a little. Oops. At least that meant I got to try the loaf before giving it away! I definitely approve.

  • 4 large eggs
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ⅔ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbs. fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • 1½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbs. baking powder
  • ½ tsp. Kosher salt
  1. Preheat oven to 325⁰F.
  2. Spray a 10-inch loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.
  3. In a bowl of an electric mixer, use the paddle attachment to beat the eggs for 30 seconds. Add sugar and continue to beat until the mixture is very foamy and pale in color.
  4. With the mixer running, slowly drizzle in the olive oil.
  5. Using a spatula, gently stir the rosemary into the batter.
  6. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.
  7. With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the dry ingredients to the egg mixture.
  8. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
  9. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through for even color.
  10. The cake is done when it is golden brown, springs back when touched, and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.
  11. Allow the cake to cool briefly in the pan, then tip out onto a cake rack to continue cooling.

(Inspired by A Kitchen Muse)

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