Limey Chow

when some family visited last month two months ago (wow, time flies!) they left some lime juice in our fridge. we also nabbed a couple fresh limes from the local grocer recently for a couple cuba libres (that’s rum and coke with lime). with all this green goodness on hand, i figured we’d try this recipe for “lemon buddies” from smashed peas and carrots, but with lime instead of lemon.

the change of citrus was also inspired by some key lime white chocolate and macadamia nut cookies we had on our mini-moon (that’s mini honeymoon – and it’s kind of a long story). the Hubby liked the cookies a LOT, so we gave the lime buddies a try and made a half batch.

the only problem: i can’t cut recipes in half worth a darn! i always forget to halve something, or i accidentally quarter it instead. in this case, i forgot to halve the amount of lime juice called for. DOH!

surprising lime buddies

that's his surprised face

Hubby doesn’t seem to mind though, cuz they’re not as sweet with so much of that tart lime juice in them!

i might make a batch of the classic lemon buddies as well, and we can have “sprite buddies” or “sierra mist buddies” — whichever you prefer. hopefully next time i won’t forget to halve the juice!

how good are you at making half-batches? 

Uh Oh!

these last few pounds of baby weight may never come off.  (actually i have no idea how many i have left to lose, but i know my pre-baby pants still don’t fit.)

why? because i just found an AMAZING and quick and doesn’t-dirty-too-many-dishes recipe for BROWNIES!

after dinner i wanted something chocolatey. we don’t really have many sweet treats in the house in an effort to shrink my post-baby waist and keep Hubby’s waist where he wants it to be. i do have a box of brownie mix sitting in the pantry, but then i remembered a recipe i’d found online for brownies from scratch.

Erin, over at Domestic Adventures, shared her recipe a while back. i, having only just discovered her awesome blog, didn’t see the recipe til now.

making the brownies took no time at all last night! the recipe helped use up some cocoa powder that’s been sitting in the pantry, unused, for who knows how long (i don’t remember buying any). and the added bonus of making these over the box mix i already had sitting in my cabinet is that i could cut this recipe IN HALF! i think that’s part of what sold the Hubs on allowing me to make them.

oh, boy! were they delish, especially fresh from the oven and accompanied by some vanilla ice cream. YUM!

go make some, you’ll wish you’d never seen this post! Hubby certainly wishes i’d never laid eyes on it.

MUAHAHAHAHA!

Another Year

nah, not of blogging. i think celebrating blog-iversaries is a little weird.

as of yesterday, it’s been 2 years since Hubby and i got married!

Our Wedding Day - Photography by Amanda McMahon Photography

Our Wedding Day - Photography by Amanda McMahon Photography

i don’t remember doing anything special last year, except eating the top tier of our wedding cake. no gifts for each other (we’re not big on gifts), just cake!

Our Wedding Cake - Photography by Amanda McMahon Photography

Our Wedding Cake - Photography by Amanda McMahon Photography

but oh boy, was that some DELICIOUS cake! even for having sat in the freezer for a year!

after the wedding, we popped it in the freezer for a half hour or so to set the frosting, then wrapped it in plastic wrap, then tin foil (i think, it’s been a while…) and put it in a 5 quart ice cream tub with the lid on. actually, we put it on the lid and put the tub upside down over it so that it was like a big cake protector in the freezer.

then the day before our anniversary, we pulled it out of the freezer and put it in the fridge. after a few hours, we unwrapped the tin foil and plastic wrap. and the next day it was ready to eat! we could’ve left it out on the counter for the last hour to get it to room temp, but we don’t mind chilled cake.

it was SO good! marble cake with raspberry filling and buttercream frosting… *droooool*!!!!!  i ate it for dessert after dinner every night that week! and Hubs had a slice for breakfast each morning (he’s weird, but i love him!)!

we enjoyed that SO much that we decided to do it again this year! (and make it a tradition for future anniversaries!) since there’s none of the original cake left, we dug out our original order form and had PLANNED on ordering a replica of the top tier to be ready on our anniversary.

BUT, we didn’t get around to turning in the order with all this end-of-pregnancy stuff going on.  now that my OB appointments are weekly, plus Hubby’s got graduate classes 2 nights a week on top of his 40+ hr work schedule, it’s been busy!

last night, we thought of a solution though: i’ll make us one!

i have some white cake mix in the pantry (i meant to try this tiramisu cake recipe with it) and we’d bought some frosting the other day so i could use it to try to make cupcakes instead.  but now all of that has been re-allocated to my attempt at repeating our wedding cake.

i just used the box of white mix (delicious on its own!), and added some raspberry filling (i just spread some raspberry preserves between the layers).  then i frosted with the container of cream cheese frosting we’d bought last week (Krissy‘s been making me jealous with all her cupcake talk so i talked Hubs into letting me buy some frosting so i could make my own easier).

i dont’ have any decorating skills (or even decorating equipment beyond a simple spatula) so it didn’t look exactly like our original cake, but here’s how it turned out:

2 Year Anniversary Cake

almost as delicious: the raspberry was a little understated and the cream cheese frosting gave a slightly different flavor compared to the buttercream that was on the original, but it is still a GREAT cake! AND it’s the first time i’ve thought to use the cake dome thingy that we got as a wedding gift! i’ve always wanted one, and now i’m using it!  it’ll be a good way to keep cats and cat hair (and the occasional bug since we’ve been opening the windows a lot lately) off the tastiness!

we shared the first slice last night (pictured above), and Hubs had another slice for breakfast this morning.

what do you do to make your anniversaries special?

Dessert Anyone?

last night Hubs and i made some tiramisu!

Tiramisu

we didn’t realize it, but today is “Pi Day” in honor of that irrational number, Pi.  if we’d realized, maybe we would’ve made some other dessert (in pie form of course). but we bought ladyfingers to make tiramisu like 3 weeks ago, so it HAD to be made!

tiramisu is a must-have at our favorite local italian/greek restaurant. we asked where they sourced it last time we were there, and apparently a couple old ladies from germany and italy have a local bakery and they make it fresh daily!

since we don’t like to go out to eat daily (part of our efforts to be fiscal), i’ve been wanting to try to make some myself.

since i’m still preggers (less than 2 weeks to go!), i opted for a recipe without raw eggs or the obligatory alcohol just to be on the careful side: this one from food network’s Sandra Lee. there’s still espresso in it, but a little caff won’t hurt.

it went together SUPER quick (if i hadn’t had to wait for Hubs to make and chill the espresso, it could’ve been done and fermenting in the fridge in less than 15 minutes), especially using store-bought ladyfingers. it didn’t dirty too many dishes either. (always a plus in any recipe!)

i took care of mixing everything up. Hubby made the espresso and acted as the dip-meister for getting the ladyfingers all soaked with espresso goodness.

spreading the cream cheese mixture over the soaked ladyfingers was kinda fun. as i pushed with my spatula, the espresso would get squished out of the ladyfingers and make a little rising tide under the cream cheese. occasionally it overflowed onto the cream cheese mixture and made little brown liquid deposits. but no worries: it was all covered up with freshly whipped cream!

Hubs was also the cocoa-meister; he was in charge of sprinkling the cocoa powder over the top of it all to make it look pretty! yes, boys can make things look pretty! amazing, i know!

since almost every recipe (and every reviewer on every recipe) we looked at said to let the tiramisu sit in the fridge for at least an hour, and since we finished putting it together at about 9:30 last night, we opted to save the first tasting for after dinner today.

the results?

Tiramisu slice

messy, but delicious! (no, i didn’t eat that whole piece by myself!)

next time, we’re going to double up on the ladyfingers (too much coffee, not enough absorbent material to hold it) and hold back on the whipped cream (maybe fold some of it into the cream cheese mixture like the other recipes i read). but it was really good as it was.  Hubby especially liked it since he enjoys desserts that aren’t too sweet.

i’m sure there are better, more authentic recipes for tiramisu.  but for a quick and easy one without taboo ingredients (raw eggs), this was good!

here are some of the other recipes we may try or adapt in the future:

  • tiramisu layer cake @ All Recipes — another semi-homemade option
  • tiramisu cheesecake @ All Recipes — Hubby’s a sucker for cheesecake
  • strawberry cheesecake tiramisu @ Baking Bites — another easy looking one with fruit involved
  • tiramisu II @ All Recipes — a more traditional-sounding recipe
  • “best” tiramisu @ Jamie Oliver.com — i’m not a big fan of orange, so we’d probably leave out a few ingredients from this one
  • simple tiramisu @ Cooking for Engineers — i can’t wait to check out the rest of their site (being an engineer you know i HAVE to!)
  • raspberry tiramisu @ Food Network via Giada De Laurentiis — Hubby’s also a sucker for raspberries!
  • tiramisu @ Food Network via Giada De Laurentiis — i can’t reference Food Network and italian desserts without including at least a couple of Giada’s wonderful recipes!
  • tiramisu @ Food Network Magazine — okay, sometimes i DO miss having cable tv
  • tiramisu cake @ Smitten Kitchen — one of my favorite foodie blogs

what’s on your “try me” cooking/baking/food-making list these days?

Try Me!

i don’t have any bulk un-popped popcorn.  would someone mind trying this awesome looking DIY microwave popcorn trick and letting me know how it goes?

i’m super excited at the prospect of small amounts of popcorn without all the oil that’s in the baggies.  of course i’ll add my own melted butter, but the ability to control how MUCH butter goes on them, and the (potentially) smaller portion sizes sound REALLY appealing.

then again, popcorn in general sounds appealing.

darn these pregnancy hormones!

ALDI Praise

I Heart ALDI

we love ALDI at our house. and not just because it’s a german company.

whenever we need groceries, that is our go-to shopping location.

it’s true, they don’t always have everything on our list. and they don’t usually have name brand items (except for their special buy section).  but shopping at ALDI is more than awesome enough to make up for its meagerly small shortcomings.

there are so many ways that ALDI makes saving money easy!

1. there are no cart boys or cart girls wandering the parking lot

why not? because you have to deposit a quarter to use a cart.  when you return it, you get your quarter back.  why wouldn’t you return it?!

but i must say, i love arriving at our ALDI and finding an abandoned cart in the parking lot. something about gaining 25¢ off someone who was too lazy to walk a hundred feet or so gives me great joy!

2. there are no shelves to keep looking pretty

ALDI retains the shipping packaging to keep their product orderly.  so you’re not paying to have some tired teenager come in after hours to remove everything from the shipping boxes, drop half a dozen of the items, and then arrange them on the shelf!

don’t get me wrong, ALDI still has a worker go through the stock and pluck out mis-placed items and empty shipping boxes.  but they keep those boxes available for you to use (just like at sam’s club or in the movie ‘employee of the month’).

3. you have to pay for your bags

this has so many POSITIVE benefits that i don’t understand why people even bother to pay for their bags via price-hiked merchandise any more!

by having to bring in your own bags, you’re saving your money, the store’s money, and the environment! so DO IT!

and for you crafsters out there: sew your own! pay homage to your favorite sports team, give new life to an old t-shirt, have fun with it!

4. you don’t have to pay for someone else to man-handle your groceries

i grew up bagging groceries for my parents. i know what i’m doing. and i don’t like it when a bagger who’s paid to do that job does it horribly.

there’s no reason to save all the light items for one bag and all the heavy items for another. if you put the light, squishable items on TOP of the heavy, crushing items, there won’t be a damaging amount of crushing going on.  but if you put all the heavy items in the same bag, i may just get a hernia trying to heft that bag out to my car!

on the flip side of that, you don’t need to put every other item in its own bag.  let’s save some plastic for the next schmuck who didn’t bring their re-usable bags, shall we?

5. variety is not the spice of life when you’re paying for it via hiked-up prices

yes, you can find a dozen varieties of cereal and half a dozen types of salad dressing at ALDI.  they have all the various fat content levels of milk.  they have half a dozen different lunch meats to choose from.  they even have the choice of white or wheat bread!

and they can offer you all those choices for a FRACTION of the cost of other grocers because they DON’T offer 8 different BRANDs of each choice!

6. ALDI brand is not bland

for those who go for the store brand to save money, ALDI is often no different.  plus, if you don’t like something, you can RETURN IT! how awesome is that?! they even have a shopping challenge advertised on their website! check it out!

we’ve only had 1 or 2 items of ALDI brand that have been duds. one was their version of rice-a-roni.  oh well, it’s really not all that healthy anyways when you look at how much butter you’re adding to it when you cook it.

7. small store, small staff, small payroll, small-town feel

we’ve seen all of the 6-or-so employees at one time or another. we’re basically on a first name basis with one or two of them (except they don’t wear name tags and don’t ask for our names)!  we’ve gotten quite a few congratulations and questions from them since my baby bump has grown past pineapple size.  and all of the employees know how to do all of the tasks necessary to run the store. they’re all well trained in store policies and (just as importantly) customer service!

 

i’m sure there are more plusses, but if these aren’t enough to convince you, i don’t know what will!

if you could get a discount for using re-usable grocery bags, wouldn’t you?

Recipe Roundup

you know i’m pregnant right? and you know that pregnant ladies are a little food obsessed.

lately i’ve been a LOT food obsessed. i can’t walk through the grocery store without pointing out half a dozen things that i want to impulsively throw into the cart and bring home to make/devour.

but with Hubby’s newly refreshed need to be fit, my desire to one day return to my previous shape and size, and the general state of the economy these days, it’s difficult to justify all those (sometimes expensive) good eats.

plus, i’m trying to be more like Betty Homemaker and less like Fast Food Frankenstein.  so here are some recipes that’ve caught my attention and are on my “try me ASAP” list:

breakfast:

(i’ve been on a breakfast kick the past couple days, a weird change from my usual ice cream kick)

Pumpkin Spice Granola @ Baking Bites

Pumpkin Spice Granola - Recipe at Baking Bites

Snickerdoodle French Toast @ Baking Bites

Snickerdoodle French Toast - Recipe at Baking Bites

dinner:

Fiery Fish Tacos with Corn Salsa - Recipe @ AllRecipes.com

Fiery Fish Tacos with Corn Salsa - Recipe @ AllRecipes.com

home-made döners (turkish gyros)

dessert: (even though breakfasts are enticing, dessert is still my favorite!)

Pumpkin Cake - Recipe @ MADE

Pumpkin Cake - Recipe @ MADE

Caramel Apple Cookies - Recipe @ Smashed Peas and Carrots

Caramel Apple Cookies - Recipe @ Smashed Peas and Carrots

which should i make first?