Monday, August 29, 2011

{Recipes} Flatbread Pizzas & Chipwich Dessert Sammies

I'm back from vacation, and I think it's safe to say last week was one for the books! Aside from renting homes on the same street as close to 40 family members, and having a wonderful time on the beach each afternoon, we, along with the rest of the East Coast and beyond, experienced an earthquake and a hurricane all within days of one another. Unfortunately, we were evacuated from the Outer Banks two days early due to Hurricane Irene and the impending conditions, but on the bright side, we had beautiful weather all week while there, everyone stayed safe and healthy, and we just enjoyed spending time together. It was a wonderful get-away!

To take some of the burden off my mom, each of my siblings and I play "cook" for one night each. On our designated night, we are responsible for the entire meal -- purchasing and prepping the food, cleaning up the mess, etc. The meal does not have to be anything extravagant, and no one has to spend hours in the kitchen slaving away. With that being said, our meal was super simple. Let me start with dessert...

I used chocolate chip cookies and vanilla ice cream to create chipwich-like dessert sammies, and they couldn't have been easier. I used pre-made cookies from my hubby's company and let my ice-cream soften a little bit. Then I scooped about 2 nice scoops onto one cookie and spread it out as best I could. Taking the other cookie, I created a sandwich and smoothed any ice-cream that ooozed out the sides with a knife. I put them back in the freezer until it was time to serve and eat them. That's it -- done!

**I'm thinking these will be really fun in the fall too -- maybe sugar cookies with pumpkin ice-cream? Or gingersnap cookies with vanilla ice-cream. How about adding some sprinkles around the edges for a little pop of color? The possibilities are endless!

We served flatbread pizzas for dinner -- super simple and super tasty! Our friends, Gary and Alyssa, first made these at Gourmet Night and we've been in love ever since. My sister-in-law, Alexia, has since made them along with my parents.

Ingredients ::
~ Naan flatbread
~ Whatever toppings you want

**Just to give you some ideas, we made some white pizzas and some red. They were all different, and we sliced and shared them so that everyone could sample the various kinds. For the white pizzas, I spread a little EVOO on the Naan first. Then I added my base which consisted of thinly sliced zucchini, onions, peppers and garlic sauteed in EVOO {I had this ready before I started creating the pizzas}. Then we layered on sliced tomato, fresh mozzarella, and some fresh basil. Other toppings were shredded mozzarella cheese, sliced pepperoni, red onion, etc. You just build your pizza to your liking.

Directions ::
1. After pizza is layered with toppings of your choice, pop in the oven for approximately 15 minutes or until cheese is hot and bubbly.
2. Slice, serve and enjoy!

**We made a big green salad to pair with our pizzas too.


I took almost 1000 pictures while in OBX and had to do some major narrowing down to say the least. My family teamed up to take some family pics on the beach one night, and here are just a few of my favs. Shades of coral was what I suggested we all wear, and I love the way all the colors look together. My aunt and cousin's wife helped us with the pics -- Aunt L. helped get the kiddies to look at the camera and K. took the pics -- thank you both!

**We were missing my sister's hubby as he was working all week {as one of JMU's football coaches, he couldn't escape -- they are in the thick of training camp in August} :-{

I tried as best I could to recreate some of the poses I collected on Pinterest. This one turned out better than I imagined -- I figured baby boy would be running off in any direction he could, but miraculously, he STAYED put! Those little ones are so unpredictable sometimes ;-}

**This week looks like it's going to be beautiful {at least in NJ} -- ENJOY!

Friday, August 19, 2011

{TGIF} Beach Bound

It's just about vacation week for my family! I'm most looking forward to spending time with my family and extended family as we have three homes filled to the brim with aunts, uncles, cousins & kiddies!

For fun, I've been collecting some cute beach picture ideas on Pinterest to try while there. Check out my OBX Bound board here.

**Pic via Free People.
**Taking a little break from all my favorite brain sucks this week -- Blogger, Facebook, Pinterest, etc. See you next week ;-]
**Has anyone read The Help? GOOD so far....must finish on vaca because I have a movie date with the girls planned when I return!
**Enjoy your week!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

{Restaurant Review} Treno

I love going out to dinner and especially enjoy trying new restaurants. Collingswood, New Jersey has become one of my favorite spots to dine out in the past few years. Between date nights, girls' dinners, bridal & baby showers, and lunch outtings, I've visited a lot of the eateries this town has to offer. Treno has been on my list, and I finally had the opportunity to try it last week with some of my cousins. THUMBS UP -- will hopefully be taking my husband back very soon!

FOOD :: Pasta, pizza & wine {I would recommend their brick oven personal pizzas. They offer a lot of gourmet pizza selections and the portion is generous -- I had plenty to eat while at Treno and took a little doggie bag home too}.
DRINK :: Nice wine selection and reasonably priced
COST :: Reasonable -- you can enjoy a nice meal and glass{es} of wine without breaking the bank
ATMOSPHERE :: LOVED -- the patio offers trendy, outdoor seating with huge slider windows, ceiling fans, lots of candlelight, a beautiful bar, live entertainment, and protection from the elements.
LOCATION :: Westmont, New Jersey {on Haddon Avenue -- between Collingswood & Haddonfield}

**This would be a fun double date spot, too! Maybe this fall...

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

{Recipes} Summer Pasta

My garden is currently out.of.control and producing crazy amounts of vegetables. With that being said, most of my meals have consisted of our garden veggies over the last few weeks. This little recipe is one of my old favorites -- it's a light, sauceless pasta meal stocked with your favorite summer veggies.

**Recipe by Tyler Florence of the Food Network

Ingredients ::
~ 1 zucchini, thinly sliced
~ 1 eggplant, thinly sliced
~ 1 pepper, cut in strips
~ 1 pint cherry tomatoes
***You can use whatever veggies you like in this dish***
~ 1/2 onion, finely chopped
~ 1 garlic clover, chopped
~ 1 tbsp oregano
~ 1/2 cup EVOO
~ S & P
~ 1 lb spaghetti
~ Arugula leaves, a handful {I subbed fresh basil for arugula b/c I didn't have any on hand}
~ 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese {plus more for serving at the table}

Directions ::
1. Boil a pot of salted water for spaghetti & preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Combine veggies, garlic and oregano in a bowl. Add oil, sprinkle with S & P, and toss.
3. Place vegetable mixture on a baking sheet and roast for 15-20 minutes or until veggies are carmelized. Scrape into a large bowl and cover to keep warm.
4. Cook pasta 8-9 minutes {until al dente}.
5. Reserve 1/4 cup of pasta water and stir it into the bowl of vegetables.
6. Add pasta, arugula, cheese and more pepper to bowl; toss and serve.


I served this meal with crusty bread. TIP :: I love a slice of good bread with a pasta meal so when I buy a fresh loaf, I quarter it. One quarter is sliced and served with my meal. The other three quarters are separately wrapped in foil and frozen for the next time I serve a pasta meal or one that pairs well with bread. It keeps us from wasting the other half or more that goes uneaten, prevents us from going overboard on the carbs, and it's just nice to not have to run to the store every time my craving for bread strikes!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

{Recipes} Popsicles

I have been making homemade popsicles this summer for my son. They are such a great, little treat for him when we play outside on those hot, summer afternoons. I found popsicle molds this spring in Target's dollar bins {Dollar Stores also carry them} and from pudding pops to jello pops, those babies have gotten some great use. I made raspberry flavored pops yesterday and wanted to add some real raspberries in the molds except that my local grocery was sold out of them :-{ Recipe here.

Rainbow pudding pops have been on my list, but I haven't quite gotten to them yet ;-} Before summer ends....

**I had a massage yesterday afternoon -- O.M.G. I'm not a regular "massage getter" but I think I might become one after yesterday! Booked another for October -- ha!
**Trying to jam in all kinds of fun with my boyfriend before summer ends -- busy, busy, busy!
**Girls' Night tonight at a new restaurant. For my local readers -- review coming soon!

Monday, August 8, 2011

{Recipes} Apple Dessert Dip

I made this dip over the weekend and it's delish. I think kids would love this dip, too. And the apples make it healthy, right ;-}

Ingredients ::
~ 1 stick cream cheese, softened
~ 1 cup brown sugar
~ 1 tub caramel dip
~ Candy of your liking, chopped {I used Snickers}
~ Green apples, sliced

Directions ::
1. Mix the cream cheese, brown sugar and caramel dip together until soft and creamy.
2. Sprinkle chopped candy over dip and serve with sliced apples.

That's it -- so simple. Enjoy!


One word for this weekend -- FABULOUS! Our friends, Gary & Alyssa, spent Saturday & Sunday with us at the shore, and we had a blast with them.

Alyssa had her camera on hand at Champagne Island and snapped so many beautiful pics of our son, our dog and our family. This is one of my favs -- XoXoX

Thursday, August 4, 2011

{Toppers} Pretty Ribbon

Last night I was supposed to have some work girls over for a jewelry trunk show my friend was hosting {she asked to use my home since her house is far away from where we teach}. At the last minute it was cancelled, and I had already made some cupcakes with toppers. Grrrr....

I haven't had any of the programs I use to design invitations and other coordinating party goods since early June, so I have been experimenting with different kinds of cupcake toppers. I used ribbon of different size and texture here, and I love how they came out! Let me tell you -- it was much less time consuming than designing, printing, punching, gluing, etc. the toppers I usually make.

Easy food tents :: I attached a little mini pom or flower {not sure what it is -- just used tissue paper and scissors and this is what I came up with -- ha!}.

I also planned on making a really yummy dessert dip served with green apples, but once I found out the trunk show was cancelled, I closed up my kitchen ;-} We are having our friends down to the shore this weekend, so I'm saving my ingredients and making it for them instead! And I froze those cupcakes for the shore too -- couldn't waste them, right?!?!

**Dessert dip with apples coming next week -- it's soooo good -- trust me!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

{Inspiration} Soft Gold & Blush Pink

Color palettes are such a great source of inspiration to me, and this is one color combo I'm crushing on right now -- soft gold & blush pink. I'm thinking it would be a perfect combo for a NYE party ;-} And that's the last thing you'll hear me say about NYE until at least the fall -- I'm focusing all my energies on trying to soak up what's left of the fastest summer ever!

**Image via CAKE {You must check out this blog. Becca {of the old Birthday Girl} re-branded and just debuted her new site -- it's FABULOUS & oh-so-pretty!}

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

{Recipes} Sundried Tomato & Basil Pasta

I love when it only takes 15 minutes to whip up a fabulous dinner for my family, don't you? Although I love to cook, especially for my little family, I do not like to be stuck in the kitchen for hours on end.

This little recipe is one my sis-in-law {Jane} gave me a few years ago when we were all swapping easy and yummy dinner recipes on vacation. I had forgotten all about it and found it in my recipe box the other day. Here it is ::

Ingredients ::
~ 1 lb. pasta noodles
~ 1 jar sundried tomatoes
~ 1 cup fresh basil
~ Garlic {a few cloves}
~ 1/2 cup parmesan cheese

Directions ::
1. In a food processor, blend the tomatoes, basil and garlic.
2. Cook pasta and save pasta water. Add some of the pasta water to the tomato mixture {a cup or so should do it}.
3. Pour tomato mixture over pasta, add some fresh basil for garnish, and sprinkle with the parmesan cheese. YUM!

**I love sundried tomatoes, so I used two jars {and approximately two cups pasta water}. It was delicious but very, very rich!
**This is one of those recipes that you can follow loosely -- if you love one of the ingredients, you can experiment by adding more {or less} than what's listed.
**I thought it would be yummy to add a little chicken to this dish too {although that increases the time spent in the kitchen so maybe not ;-}


Dean loves to help me in the kitchen. He wants to be held so he can see everything going on on the stove and countertop when I'm cooking dinner. Last night, he was too funny when I turned on the blender {I don't have a food processor -- on my Xmas list this year}. His expression was priceless -- completely awestruck! And he stayed like that for a good 5 minutes or so while I was blending.

How sweet is the innocence of a child? It's the simplest things in life that mesmerize them -- and makes me take a step back and appreciate the little things that I so often take for granted.

I pulled one of our stools for Dean to sit on so he'd have a front row seat of the blender {and because at almost 27 pounds, he breaks my arm when I hold him for too long ;-}

Monday, August 1, 2011

{Parties} Girls' Night

Last Thursday I had a few high school friends over for a little Girls' Night. We each take turns hosting and usually get together about every 4 months or so. It's really nice to keep in touch with these ladies, and I had a lot of fun hosting.

We started with a simple veggies and dip appetizer. I think I mentioned before that I'm finally learning my lesson when it comes to serving food -- I try not to overdo it on the apps because it spoils everyone's appetite for dinner!

Summer Dinner Menu ::

In addition to the green salad with poppyseed dressing I posted on Friday, I also served marinated & grilled chicken tenderloins with a creamy and very yummy dipping sauce {bbq sauce mixed with sour cream -- so delicious!}.

I also made my great grandmother's famous baked macaroni & cheese. This family recipe has been passed down the ranks and has been one of my all-time favorite dishes since I was a little girl. I remember begging my mom to make this for Sunday dinners and always on holidays as a kid.

My philosophy is if you have a great recipe, why not share it for other's to enjoy? So here it is -- ENJOY!

Ingredients ::
~ 1 lb. ready cut macaroni noodles
~ 10 oz. stick of extra sharp white cheddar cheese {I highly recommend Cracker Barrel}
~ 1 small onion, diced
~ 28 oz. can of whole tomatoes {break them up with a knife}
~ 14 oz. can of diced tomatoes
~ S & P

Directions ::
1. Cook pasta until al dente.
2. In greased casserole dish, layer 1/2 the pasta, some S & P, 1/2 the onions, 1/2 the tomato mixture {with the juice}, and 1/2 the cheese {cut up and spread out}. Repeat one more layer.
3. Bake on 350 degrees for approximately 50 minutes {or until hot and bubbly}.

Now on to the fun part -- the sweets! I always, always, always draw a sketch of any kind of table I'm going to put together before I do anything else. I drew this picture a few weeks prior to my Girls' Night. Now check out the real thing below -- pretty close!

My options are limited when it comes to spaces & places to set up dessert tables in my tiny house, so I always use my dining room buffet. It's perfect for my spreads {but I'll admit I am in need of a change as I'm growing tired of using it for EVERYTHING!}. Thankfully, I've got a few ideas up my sleeve for the next time I entertain at my home ;-}

I love using a "loose" theme when entertaining to tie everything together, so I focused on one of my favorite summer colors {CORAL} and one of my favorite summer fruits {WATERMELON} to create a cohesive and unified look.

I used some of the leftover fabric from the fabric wall art I recently hung in my upstairs bathroom and some cute lime polka dot ribbon to create a garland for my mirror. It was super easy to make and turned out really cute.

I found a coral frame at Target for $1.69 on clearance and used it for a Sweets Menu. I crafted a little watermelon slice using scrapbook paper and ribbon. As for it being handwritten -- that's another story for another day {but let me just say I crashed another computer -- not my macbook thank goodness -- and lost all of my designing programs AGAIN -- ughh}.

I created most of what you see on this table with a $6 roadstand watermelon and used the Watermelon pinboard I created on Pinterest as my primary source of inspiration.

One cute & simple idea I found was cutting watermelon in spears and skewering them. It's a cute look and cuts down on the sticky juice that runs all over the place whenever you eat watermelon!

I bought a watermelon roll from Friendly's, sliced it and served it on a big, white platter. I was pleasantly surprised with this treat -- it was delicious!

These have to be the most adorable, little popsicles E.V.E.R! I spotted a link to them over at Pizzazzerie {one of my favs}, and not only are they so cute, but so so good! The recipe calls for rum but I opted not to include this in mine because I already had a watermelon cocktail with alcohol. I'm really glad I didn't because I had some popsicles leftover, and Dean has been loving them!

Click here for the recipe {it's from a sweet blog called Sugar & Charm}!

I also included some wafer cookies on my table just because I think they look so sweet -- hehe. And these were actually strawberry flavored instead of watermelon ;-}

I made little baggies with Sour Patch watermelon candies for the girls to take home. I don't know what it is but I love these candies!

What's a Girls' Night without a fun cocktail?! Enter in spiked watermelon slushies...

I subbed vodka for the tequila that the recipe called for because I wanted a cosmo instead of a margarita. Click here for the recipe.

The lime, striped straws are from Polka Dot Market. I added a ribbon flag to each.

Mmmm, Mmmm, Good!

Almost forgot -- the recipe calls for a frozen watermelon spear as a garnish -- cute, right?!

~ My neice's 1st birthday party {I'm helping my sis plan -- it's gonna be CUUUTE!}
~ Happy Hour {tossing around hosting a casual happy hour for our neighbors this fall}
~ Thanksgiving 2011
~ New Year's Eve 2011 {Gourmet Night clan}
**STAY TUNED & have a GREAT week!