July 25, 2014

Chicken and Shrimp Tostadas

 
shrimp tostada

Tostadas are something I make quite often. They are such a simple and quick dinner or lunch using whole and fresh ingredients. I buy tostada shells from the grocery store (which are like a flat crunchy taco shell).

Ingredients:
  • Refried beans
  • Plain Greek yogurt or sour cream
  •  Avocados
  •  Corn
  •  Diced tomatoes
  • Protein like shrimp or shredded chicken
  • Cheese (optional)

Instructions:

1.       Layer the refried beans on the tostada
 
2.       Layer the Greek yogurt or sour cream
 
3.       Layer your choice of protein
 
4.       Top with tomatoes, corn, avocado, cheese, hot sauce, salsa—anything that you have!

Enjoy! 


chicken tostada

October 1, 2013

The Perfect Nude Pump

the perfect nude pumps
1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8
I am currently looking for the perfect pointy-toe nude pump. Something that is not too tan but not too pink—the perfect blend of ivory and blush. This is a timeless shoe that can be worn with any color outfit. I don’t mind spending a little more for quality that will last for years. I have rounded up some of my favorites on the internet!
ivory lane nude pumps
nude pumps outfit

Linking up:

September 19, 2013

Shabby Chic Dining Redo

before dining room chairsfrench country dining room makeover 

I scored these table and chairs for $170 on Craigslist a couple months ago. They were all in perfect condition! I know it is hard to find cane back chairs with the webbing still intact. They were so drab and depressing looking. I knew a bright coat of paint would do the trick. I used Annie Sloan’s “Paris Grey” paint for the chairs and Benjamin Moore’s “Ballet White” for the cane backs, table base, and legs. Annie Sloan paint is great because you do not have to sand or prime your surface. I needed all the extra time I would manage seeing I look after a little one! I worked on this project during Mia’s nap and at night when Mike came home.

annie sloan chalk paintballet white

{Annie Sloan Chalk Paint and Benjamin Moore}

I did want to stain the table top a darker color, but it turned out to be Formica (which is a fake wood basically and cannot be stained, or so I heard). I primed the legs with two coats of Zinsser White Primer, which worked great and followed up with Ballet White, by Benjamin Moore—a beautiful off-white color.

annie sloan paris grey

I took some fine sandpaper and distressed wherever I thought real bumps and wear would be. This is the fun part and really gives that shabby chic look! The final step was waxing and buffing everything with Annie’s Sloan’s clear wax. This gives a beautiful matte sheen.

reupholster chairs

I recovered the chairs using plain drop cloth (washed first). I did reupholster two of the chairs, but there were 4--FOUR layers of staples and I did not have time to completely reupholster all 6 chairs—so I just recovered the rest. I ended up reselling the set on Craigslist and making a profit. Although a lot of work, it was well worth it in the end!

For reupholstering the chair cushions, I viewed a video from This Old House. Removing the staples are the most cumbersome and frustrating part of this project, but once you get the hang of it the process will go quickly! Just make sure you don’t buy chairs with four layers of staples (like I did).

Thanks for stopping by!

Linking up:

Miss Mustard Seed

Sweet Pea

Love of Family and Home

So Much Better with Age

Not Just a Housewife

DIY Showoff

Wow Us Wednesday

May 16, 2013

How to Bake and Create a Minnie Mouse Cake for a Birthday

minnie-mouse-cake

I recently made this cake for a friend’s daughter’s 2nd Birthday. Her daughter loves Minnie Mouse so when she told me the theme, I was really excited to create a very girly cake!

This cake was a labor of love and took me about three days. If I have one tip it’s to start early as possible. I had never baked a theme cake before. I used Pinterest for inspiration and put my own spin on elements.

I am just an average home baker. I taught myself how to build this cake by watching lots of YouTube videos (listed below). There is so much information on the internet you really don’t need to pay for classes. Although I would love to take some if I find/make the time.

Supplies and Source List

  • Best Black Fondant
  • Best Tasting White Fondant
  • Pink flat sprinkles
  • Wilton tip for the “pearls” around the cake
  • pastry bag (here)
  • 2 9 inch round cakes cooled
  • 2 6 inch round cakes cooled
  • Parchment paper
  • Small fondant rolling pin (here)
  • toothpicks
  • large circle cookie cutter (for large minnie ears)
  • small circle cookie cutters (for the polka dots and small minnie heads)
  • 4 cake dowels or Boba tea straws
  • Rotating Cake stand—this is a must! (here)
  • cake boards (I used cardboard cut to size)
  • Large offset spatula (here)
  • Fondant smoother (here)
  • Viva paper towels
  • Large cake stand for display

Sweetapolita Vanilla Cake Recipe

Gale Gand Best Buttercream Icing

Video showing how to ice and smooth cakes: This is where the Viva paper towel comes into play!
Video on how to stack the cakes (this woman helped me A LOT) I also used Boba tea straws instead of the wooden dowels she uses.

minnie-mouse-fondant-heads

Mini Minnie Mouse heads:

I didn’t take many pictures along the way, but started with creating these mini Minnie mouse heads two days before. I rolled some black fondant and cut them out using small circle cookie cutters. I fused them together with my fingers. For the small bow I used white fondant and with a toothpick cut two small triangles and rolled a tiny ball. I used my toothpick to cut little dents into the bow, making a wrinkled effect. I stuck them on with a little bit of butter cream or royal icing.

Large Minnie Bow and Minnie Ears:

I used large circle cookie cutters to cut the rolled black fondant for the Minnie ears topper. I rolled it pretty thick. I inserted toothpicks into the Minnie ears and attached them to the cake. I let the bow and large Minnie Mouse ears dry overnight to harden—two nights would be best. For the bow, I used the video below as a guide and stuck pink dot sprinkles onto the bow using royal icing (or buttercream) as a glue. The bow stood on top of the cake on its own (I made sure to dry it upright).

How to make the Minnie Mouse large bow

Charging for this cake: Full Disclosure.

This was the first time someone paid me to create a cake for them. I am just starting out and I thought $2 per slice was fair. There was a 30 people estimate, so I was paid a total of $60. Did I make a profit on this cake? Probably not, but the amount I learned just by doing was invaluable. This cake bought from a well known bakery would have cost close to $200. I hope to continue to grow in my little cake venture (and cost per slice :))

Hope you enjoyed this hodgepodge of a tutorial. Maybe I will venture out into creating my own video next time…maybe!

minnie-mouse-party-dessert-table

Linking up with these parties:

Jennifer Rizzo

House of Rose Blog

Stone Gable

March 5, 2013

The Best Italian Beef: Slow Cooker Recipe

crockpot italian beef

I am Italian and lived in Chicago for 5 years so believe me when I say this is the best Italian Beef recipe I have come across. Throw it in the crockpot and forget about it until dinner. Don’t forget to dip your sandwich in the leftover broth and you must buy the softest hoagie buns you can find. I added some cheese on top just because why not make it more perfect. Enjoy!

Ingredients: (Adapted from allrecipes.com) I sub and changed things up a bit, which I think made a big difference in the beef.

  • 3 cups of beef broth
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon onion salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 package of dry Italian-style salad dressing mix (some people use two packages for more flavor)
  • 1 (5 pound) rump or chuck roast (chuck is less expensive but more fatty)

Directions:

  1. Combine broth with salt, ground black pepper, oregano, basil, onion salt, parsley, garlic powder, bay leaf, and salad dressing mix in a saucepan. Stir well, and bring to a boil.
  2. Place roast in slow cooker, and pour salad dressing mixture over the meat.
  3. Cover, and cook on Low for 10 to 12 hours or on High for 4 to 5 hours. On the last hour or so shred meat with a fork and put it back into the crockpot to cook for the remaining time and absorb all those wonderful juices. This makes a world of difference! Don’t forget to remove the bay leaf if using.

Toppings and Side Note:

In Chicago people like to top their sandwich with sautéed mushrooms, red onion, sliced pepperoncini and/or sliced roasted red peppers. You can also top with any type of cheese you like. I really enjoy provolone or mozzarella. You can melt the cheese under the broiler.

**If you are in the Chicago land area I really love Portillos Italian Beef. And let’s be honest, I also love anything on their menu. Anyone try the chocolate cake and cheeseburger/fries? I'm done.

IMG_3281

October 22, 2012

Ground Turkey Crunchwrap Supreme

ground turkey crunchwrap

Linking up with AP again for her weekly Pin-Tastic Challenge! This weekend I made this pin. I modified her crunchwrap a bit using tortilla chips for the crunch, greek yogurt instead of sour cream, and ground turkey instead of beef. It turned out ridiculously good! It will definitely be our new taco night weekly rotation (along with a skinny margarita of course). Mia even ate this (you can leave out the “crunch” part) So it’s toddler friendly too.

**If you wanted to go all carb free on this, you could just wrap it in lettuce leaves for the “crunch.”

homemade crunchwrapturkey crunchwrap

Ingredients:

  • flour tortillas
  • restaurant style tortilla chips
  • lean ground turkey meat
  • 1/2 onion diced
  • 1/2 pack of taco seasoning (you can buy the packet or make your own here
  • shredded mexican cheese
  • plain greek yogurt (I used Fage brand)
  • diced Tomatoes
  • diced lettuce

Instructions:

  1. Brown diced onion with salt, pepper, and a little olive oil until translucent. Lean turkey meat is pretty bland at first and the onion gives it more flavor.
  2. Brown ground turkey meat (add a little more salt and pepper) with the onions, then add the taco seasoning.
  3. Microwave flour tortillas in microwave for about 10 seconds to warm them up. This makes them easier to wrap.
  4. Lay the flour tortilla down on a plate. Spoon ground turkey mixture in the middle of the tortilla. Top with shredded cheese, a few tortilla chips, a dollop of greek yogurt, tomatoes, and lettuce.
  5. This is where I had a little trouble, so please read carefully! Starting with the bottom of the tortilla, fold the edge up to the center. Continue doing this is a clockwise or counter-clockwise movement until all of the tortilla is folded over, and the filling is entirely enclosed.
  6. Spray a pan with cooking spray. Carefully place the crunchwrap down on the pan. Press with a spatula and cook until brown, about 2 minutes per side. Flip over and repeat. Enjoy!

September 24, 2012

No-Sew Pillow

no-sew pillow

Excited to link-up with AP again for Project Pinterest! Cost for me: $7 since I had everything but the glue and velcro on hand.

This little DIY is so easy, it’s dumb. I found this video on YouTube from Pinterest. The idea is to take standard size pillow cases you may already have laying around or you can find fun ones at flea markets, thrift stores, etc. and turn them into toss or throw pillows. I used shams from our master bedding, Poetical by Barbara Barry. The inserts (20X20) can be found inexpensively at Ikea. The woman in the video uses much larger casings and pillows but I found these work just as well.

diy no sew pillow

1. Stuff the insert (pillow) inside the pillow case. Stuff the excess fabric inside the pillow.

no-sew pillow

2. Cut velcro to size. Squeeze glue onto velcro and place on pillow opening to secure.

IMG_2306IMG_2299

IMG_2296

Downside: This is a temporary fix. Once you decide to wash the pillow case, the glue will loosen and come undone--essentially ruining all your work. Since this isn't our everyday couch I won’t be washing these as much. Then again my little toddler doesn’t care what her avocado fingers touch. Thankfully I have a big bottle of fabric glue and lots of velcro to last a few washes. I think it was well worth it and saved me $$ for now.

I also intend to add more colorful pillows to punch it up a bit. Although I love simple and neutral.