Friday, March 29, 2013

Easter Blooms


Nothing brightens up a room like flowers can! For our Easter centerpiece this year, we choose to decorate with the classics: tulips, gerber daisies and baby's breath. Here's how we did it!


For the first arrangement, begin by tying a burlap knot around the vase. We bought our 5-inch stool of burlap in Michael's. Fill a tall, clear vase with 6 plastic eggs in pink and yellow. Next, fill the vase three quarters up with water. Begin by placing the tulips and allow them to fall naturally. We used only 4 tulips, but you could use more depending on the size of your vase. Finally, fill the middle of the arrangement with baby's breath.


We made a second arrangement using a ceramic egg carton. 


You will need a ceramic egg carton that holds 6 eggs for this arrangement. Ross, TJ Maxx and Target has them in the kitchen section.
 If you don't have one available, you can always use a cardboard or styrofoam carton.


Start by making a hole on the top of the egg. Do this very carefully by tapping the top of an egg with the tip of a sharp knife until you make a small hole. 


Then pierce the shell carefully and lift the shell away from the inside. Pour the egg white and yolk out of the shell into a bowl. 


Next, using your fingers as tools, begin to clean the edges to make a nice round opening on top. 


Clean out all the egg whites from the egg shell under running water. 


Place some Easter grass on the bottom of the egg carton to act like a cushion for the eggs. Next, carefully pat the egg shells dry and fill with water about 2/3 full. We began with the Gerber daisies because they take up the most room. Place one daisy per egg. You may have to cut them shorter than you think so that they don't tip the eggs over. Next, place one tulip per egg along with its leaves. Finally, fill the empty spots with baby's breath. 


We had a few extra eggs and decided to make these cute little gifts for our family. Use the same step you used to make the hole in the egg shells, fill with some Easter grass and Cadbury chocolate eggs! 


Thursday, March 28, 2013

Rice Cereal Easter Chicks



Nothing is cuter than baby chicks! (Except maybe our chihuahua Joey!) And Everyone loves Rice Krispy Treats, so why not make these fun and easy treats for Easter Sunday?  This recipe is so simple that you can even involve the kids! Although these chicks don't have wings, we guarantee they will fly off the platter!!

Ingredients:
3 tablespoons of butter
4 cups of miniature marshmallows
6 cups of crispy rice cereal
Yellow food coloring
Miniature M&M's
Gum paste
Corn Starch
Orange food coloring
Nonstick cooking spray
Powdered Sugar
Water

Kitchen Essentials:
Large pot
Stove
Wooden spoon
Parchment paper
Serving platter
Knife
Cookie sheet
Parchment paper
Small bowl
Tooth pick
Tablespoon

Directions:
Place the pot over low heat and add the butter. Once the butter is melted, add the miniature marshmallows and stir until they have also melted.



Remove from the heat and add yellow food coloring to dye the marshmallow mixture. Different brands or types of food color dye differently, so you will have to make the decision of how much food coloring to add. 





Next add the rice cereal and mix well.

Give your hands a light mist of the nonstick cooking spray, so you can handle the sticky mixture. Measure out about 1 tablespoonful of the rice cereal mixture. Roll the mixture with you hands and place on the parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Once you have rolled the entire rice cereal mixture into little balls, you can begin to decorate and bring your chicks to life.



For the beaks, we used a little bit of gum paste that was dyed orange. We lightly dusted our surface with corn starch, rolled out the gum paste and using a knife created tiny little triangles. If you don't have gum paste, you can also use slivers of carrot, cut into tiny triangles.  You can also use the orange part of a candy corn, also cut into triangles. They will look just as cute!

For the eyes, we used miniature M&M's. 



In a small bowl, add about 2 tablespoons of powdered sugar and a couple drops of water and mix. This is the "glue" that will hold the eyes and beaks to your rice cereal ball. You want the sugar glue to be thick and to actually look like Elmer's glue. Using a toothpick apply a tiny dab to the back of the beaks and eyes and place on the rice cereal ball. Its that simple!! Your little Easter chicks are ready to enjoy!!





Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Strawberry Basil Sorbet





Refreshing and fun, this sorbet is a party in your mouth! This is no ordinary cold treat! The fragrant basil and the sweet strawberry marry perfectly in this recipe. We know it sounds a little strange, but trust us, you will love it! Make it once, and treat yourself over and over again. This makes a great spring lunch dessert.


Ingredients:

2 cups of sugar
2 cups of water
1 pint of strawberries
6-7 leaves of fresh basil

Kitchen Essentials:
Stove
Medium sized pot
Blender
Ice cream machine
Refrigerator
Knife
Cutting board
Wooden spoon
Spatula
Measuring cups
Mixing bowl
Freezer safe storage container

Prep (day before):
Begin by making simple syrup, a combination of water and sugar. Place a medium sized pot on the stove over medium heat. Add the water and sugar and allow it to come to a boil for about 5 minutes  turn off the heat. Let the simple syrup come to room temperature and chill in the refrigerator overnight. We store the strawberries in the refrigerator also so that they are very cold.

Directions (day of):
Using a knife, remove the tops of the strawberries and place them in the blender. Add the fresh basil to the blender as well. Puree in the blender for 1 minute. Transfer the strawberry puree into a measuring cup to measure.

TIP: The trick with a good sorbet is to have equal parts fruit to equal parts simple syrup.

Add the strawberry and basil  puree to a mixing bowl and add equal parts simple syrup. We used 2 cups strawberry and basil puree to 2 cups simple syrup. Give it a quick stir.

Add the sorbet mixture to your ice cream machine and follow the manufacture instructions. Once done, transfer your sorbet to a freezer safe storage container and freeze for 2 hours before serving.

For those of you that do not have an ice cream machine, you can still make this but it will take a little more work. Add the sorbet mixture to a freezer safe storage container and put it in the freezer. You will need to take the mixture out of the freezer and stir it every 30 minutes to get a smooth texture. Repeat until the mixture has frozen. 

Monday, March 25, 2013

Spring Decor at the P's Home!



Although we don't experience winter in Miami, we look forward to Spring as much as the rest of the country! Mainly because we are both Spring babies! We were born in April, only two days apart in 1982! Weird, huh? Secondly, because we love to see the flowers in our garden bloom. And last but not least, we take out our Spring decorations from the attic and go to town! Here is a glimpse into our home...all dressed up for Easter Sunday! Hope this post inspires you to put some Spring in your step and decorate your own home.





















Tuesday, March 19, 2013

No Boil Eggplant Lasagna





If you've never used no-boil lasagna pasta sheets, you are missing out! Not only do they make a tastier lasagna, but they also allow you to skip a step in the lasagna-making process! We were skeptical at first, but we are so glad that we tried it and had to share with our followers. This meal is a great way to incorporate more veggies in your diet while still indulging in your favorite Italian dish!

Ingredients:
1 large eggplant
16 oz of ricotta cheese
1 egg
10 basil leaves
1/2 cup of parmigiano reggiano
2  16 oz jars of marinara sauce
1 package of Barilla no boil lasagna sheets
1 cup of shredded Italian cheese mix
8 oz of fresh mozzarella
Salt
Pepper
Extra virgin olive oil

Kitchen Essentials:
Stove
Oven
Mixing bowl
Spatula
Kitchen tongs
Nonstick skillet
9x13 baking baking dish
cookie sheet
Measuring cups
Measuring spoons
Knife
Cutting board
Aluminum foil
Nonstick cooking spray
Grater

Directions:
Lasagna is not hard to make, however, there are a lot of steps involved. So to make it a bit easier, we've divided each step into separate sections.

Ricotta Cheese Mixture:
Begin my making the ricotta cheese mixture. Add the ricotta cheese, grated parmigiano reggiano and the egg to a mixing bowl. Mix it to ensure that all ingredients are fully incorporated. Next, chop the basil. We like using this method: Stack the basil leaves and roll them up to create a little log. Using the knife, cut the basil into thin strips. Add the basil to the ricotta cheese mixture. Give it a quick stir and set aside until you are ready to assemble your lasagna.

Brown the Eggplant:
Cut the top off of the eggplant and slice it into 1/4 inch slices. It doesn't have to be perfect but try to keep them all the same thickness so they all cook evenly. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the non-stick skillet and place over medium heat. Give the eggplant a light sprinkle of salt and pepper on each side. Once the oil is hot, add a few slices of eggplant. Do this in batches so you do not overcrowd the pan. Cook each side for about 3 minutes and remove from the heat. If you need to add more olive after each batch, do so. After all the eggplant has been lightly browned, set aside for assembly of the lasagna.

Cut the fresh mozzarella:
Grab your fresh mozzarella and cut into thin slices. 

Prepare to assemble:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grab your baking dish and lightly coat with nonstick cooking spray. Place the baking dish over a large cookie sheet in order to prevent the lasagna drippings from making a mess in your oven.

Assembling the lasagna:
First step is to apply a 1/2 cup of the marinara sauce to the bottom of the baking dish. Then layer the unboiled pasta sheets one next to another. Add 1/2 of the ricotta mixture and spread it out evenly with a spatula. Next you will apply a layer of the browned eggplant and then top it off with 1/2 of the sliced mozzarella. Pour 1 cup of the marinara sauce over the mozzarella and then add the second layer of pasta. 

Repeat by adding the remaining ricotta mixture, browned eggplant, remaining fresh mozzarella and 1 cup of marinara sauce. Place a third layer of pasta and top it with 1 more cup of marinara sauce. Sprinkle the Italian cheese over the sauce and cover the baking dish with aluminum foil. 

Bake covered for 60 minutes at 375. Remove the aluminum foil and bake for another 5-10 minutes uncovered so that the cheese on top to get nice and golden color. Remove the baked lasagna from the oven and let it sit for 5-10 minutes before serving. Enjoy!


Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Blueberry Lemon Whole Wheat Muffins





We love to indulge in decadent desserts, however our waist lines and hearts don't always agree with them. We decided to create a muffin recipe that will satisfy our sweet tooth and our guilty conscious. The great thing about these yummy muffins is that we can grab one on our way out the door in the morning or enjoy for dessert after a long day at work. They are lemony and sweet, but the best part is they are good for you! Blueberries are packed with antioxidants, yogurt contains protein, and whole wheat flour is loaded with tons of vitamins and minerals, so eat up!

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups plus 1 tbsp of whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup of sugar
1 egg
Zest of 2 lemons
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 stick of butter, melted
8 oz. plain greek yogurt
1/2 cup of blueberries
Cooking spray

Kitchen Essentials:
Oven
Muffin pan or cupcake pan
Hand or stand mixer
Measuring cups and spoons
Juicer
Grater or zester
Mixing bowl
Whisk
Spatula
Small bowl
Butter knife

Prep:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray the muffin or cupcake pan with cooking spray. In a mixing bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer, combine the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder and salt) and mix until combined. In another bowl, whisk together the sugar, eggs, lemon zest and juice, and the melted butter. Add the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until combined. 

In a small bowl, add 1 tbsp of flour to the blueberries to coat them completely. Add them into the batter and fold into the mixture. The flour will prevent them from sinking to the bottom. 

Fill each cup, leaving room for them to grow. This will make about 6-9 muffins depending on the size of the muffin tin. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until a butter knife comes out clean when you poke them.


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