Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Welcome Home Pickles

We finally got the majority of our unpacking completed.  We still have to figure out where the piano is going and get the table dissembled and stored under our bed (they're both still in storage).  I also have a stack of boxes in a corner that probably just need to stay there because I really have no place to put the stuff.  It's just knick-knacks and odds and ends or holiday decor.  My sewing machine and supplies are still boxed up too.


With everything pretty much squared away we decided to go get our cat.  My co-worker's kitty got out and of course wound up preggo so she had two kittens she needed homes for.  We originally planned on taking both of them but now we live in 500sq feet and I didn't feel we had room for two.  Which made me sad.


We brought Pickles home last Tuesday and we were warned that she is quite vocal.  She does meow/talk a lot but they are more like chirps and trills.  She doesn't have a loud/annoying meow.  Or at least it doesn't annoy me.  My husband might disagree.  I'm completely deaf in one ear so if I hear a lot of noise while sleeping I turn over and sleep on my good ear.  She pretty much just wants attention or food when she is being noisy.


I like to think she is pretty happy.  She is definitely my husband's cat though.  I'm not at home as much as he is but she does hang out with me in the mornings when I'm getting ready for work, although I think she just waits for me to get done so she can lead me to her cat bowl.  She doesn't like it when there is only a few pieces of kibble left.  I usually change her water and add an ice cube to it too.  She loves that ice cube!


With all the leftover boxes hanging around I decided to create a cat tower for her.  I found the instructions on the Martha Stewart website and it was so easy to create.  Our lil kitty loves that thing!  I love it too because it was free. I'll probably add some paint to it later on when I finally find them.  I also want to sew some cushy pillows for cat naps.


I look forward to coming home everyday and getting to see Pickles and snuggle up with her (when she is willing to oblige).  She is so pretty and so soft she makes my heart go *squee*.  She makes Peter happy too so of course that makes me even more happy.


Welcome Home Picklebarrel Kumquat Cherry-Chimi-Changa!


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

A Dream Deferred

Just an update to let everyone know whats what and where I'm at...

As some of you know me and my husband recently embarked on a house buying journey.  It's been full of ups and downs and ultimately was not successful.  We were so close to owning a house that just seemed like it was meant for us.  We had put an offer on it once and then had to withdraw our offer so when it came up again we jumped at the chance to try again.  The whole subdivision was named after spices and the house itself had plenty of room to grow with us!

New Apartment: Living room

We were supposed to close on the 15th of this month so we put in our notice at the apartment complex because they required 60 days and 2 months rent.  They told us that if things fall through just to let them know and retract the notice. Sounds good, right?  And it would have been except that the title to the house took too long getting to our mortgage lender and he had to run a new credit check because it expired. Lesson learned: Don't use your credit card at all while searching for a home!  My credit changed due to using it to purchase a home inspection which then maxed out my card and also because another bank checked my credit for home loan purposes.  I still have an  excellent credit score but something about the change triggered an error message with the computer system that decides weather you qualify for the loan or not.  So our loan was denied, no reason given.  Really!  That's what it said: 'no reason given'.  *sigh*

New Apartment: Living room/Kitchen

So of course we found out that, no, we can't stay in our apartment because they leased it out already.  Let me tell you finding an apartment last minute is almost impossible.  Every place we went had a waiting list till October!  We finally found a place and moved in on the 30th of July.  It's a 500 square feet 1 bedroom apartment.  Not happy about that but at least it's a roof over our head.  We had to live in a motel room for four nights.  I have an aversion to sleeping at motels.  Bedbugs.  They scare me!  We survived bug free thank goodness and we are all moved in and almost unpacked.  I think we have a few unopened boxes to unpack and Peter's piano and a kitchen table in storage. 

New Apartment:  Bedroom/Closet

I'll have to post some before and after pics because storage has had to be creative.  We are also getting a cat.  My co-worker offered us two when we thought we were getting a house.  Thankfully she has been very patient with us and is also alright with us only taking one off her hands instead of our committed two.  Her name is Pickles and I can't wait to bring her home.  I hope she loves us.  Peter has been wanting a cat for ages but since we had a roommate we didn't want to bring an animal in to the mix.

New Apartment: Bedroom/Bathroom

So that's where I'm at.  It's been a journey and a half.  Thank god Peter's Momma came to help us move because we couldn't have done it by ourselves.  Everyone says these things happen for a reason.  I'm hoping that it's because we are supposed to win the lottery.  I hear the jackpot for the next drawing is huge=)

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

BzzCampaign: Filippo Berio Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Disclosure: I am a BzzAgent and received these products from for review at no cost to me. I receive no monetary compensation for my open and unbiased review. 

Hey everyone! Gotta another product from BzzAgent to try out and share.  They sent me a small bottle of  Filippo Berio Extra Virgin Olive Oil, a magnet and some coupons to pass around.  It was like they knew that I was trying to eat healthier (and that I had just run out of olive oil!). 

If you head over to Filippo Berio's website you can even find a hand substitution chart that shows you how to sub olive oil for butter or margarine and recipes. I've always used olive oil when making bread and pizza dough but had no idea you could use it in a cake or other baked goods. 

They have a large collection of really awesome recipesI made some Italian Herb Bread Dipping Oil from their website and was surprised at how awesome just olive oil can taste with just a few herbs.  It was addicting!

I would have shared more recipes but unfortunately I have almost used the entire bottle making dipping sauce and just cooking with it in general.  I love just sauteing some chicken and veggies usuing olive oil.  It so much lighter but still tastes as great as butter.  I also used it to make a lot of bread because fresh bread rocks and I had to have bread to dip doncha know!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Eggo Recipe Contest Failures


Since I'm pretty much broke all the time from trying to buy a house I've been entering contests and giveaways multiple times a day.  I'm a bit addicted because so far I have won an XBOX 360 and some diet supplement (which I really need b/c being fat is depressing).

I also figured that I'm already cooking and baking all the time because we're broke and can't eat out and of course to have something to blog about that I should make it worth my while.  I made up the following two two recipes for the Eggo Waffle Off contest.  They didn't win and they were not even finalists but that doesn't mean that they should be shunned.  I thought they were very yummy and so did my Husband and roommate who devoured them. 


My first creation was a Monte Cristo sandwich made with Eggo Waffles (of course!).   I made the whole box of waffles into sandwiches so when I wrote the recipe that's how many servings I made.  Should have probably made it a one sandwich serving.  Probably should have spelled Cristo right too.  My facebook friends kept going eww!  crisco?!   Yep.  Not good.


So here is that recipe if you wanna give it a try.  My husband still asks me to make these for him so it's a good recipe.  Not interested?  Skip on to the next loser....

Eggo Waffle Monte Cristo Sandwiches

10 Eggo Homestyle Waffles, defrosted
30 slices deli sliced ham
30 slices deli sliced turkey
5 slices Swiss cheese
5 TBS Dijon mustard
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
2 TBS all-purpose flour
5 TBS unsalted butter
1/4 cup powdered sugar (optional)
5 TBS raspberry preserves (optional)
1.Defrost 10 Eggo Homestyle waffles by placing in microwave for 15 seconds.
2.Prepare batter by whisking together eggs, milk and flour. Pour batter into a shallow pan such as a pie pan.
3.For each sandwich spread 1 TBS Dijon mustard on one side of Eggo waffle, top with alternating slices of 3 slices turkey and 3 slices ham and then top with 1 slice Swiss cheese and another Eggo waffle to complete sandwich. Repeat with remaining ingredients to make a total of 5 sandwiches.
4.Dip each side of 1 sandwich into egg batter, saturating the waffles with the egg batter.
5.Melt 1 TBS of butter in non-stick frying pan over medium heat. When butter begins to bubble place
sandwich into pan. 6.Cook each sandwich 2 minutes (or until golden brown), flip and cook 2 more minutes (or until golden brown).
7.Repeat steps 5-6 with each sandwich.
8.Sprinkle each sandwich with powder sugar and serve with dollop of raspberry preserves.


This one is actually my favorite of the two.  The picture just came out so pretty and the flavors are just so much more adult and sophisticated.  I found the goat cheese at Aldi of all places.  They have had a really good selection of cheeses lately.  This sandwich would also be divine prepared with brie instead of the goat cheese.  This one probably lost because it's just too fancy.  Well, that's what I tell myself anyways.

Eggo Apple & Cheese Panini

2 Eggo Homestyle Waffles, thawed
1 TBS Olive Oil
1 tsp dried crushed rosemary
1/2 apple, cored and thinly sliced
1 oz honey goat cheese, crumbled

1. Defrost Eggo waffles in microwave set to 50% power for 30 seconds.
2. Combine olive oil and rosemary in small bowl.
3. Heat non-stick frying pan over medium heat.
4. Brush one side of waffle with olive oil mixture and place oiled side down in hot pan. Arrange apple slices and then cheese on waffle. Top with remaining waffle. Brush top of sandwich with olive oil mixture.
5. Press sandwich with spatula as it cooks. Flip when bottom is golden brown (about 1-2 minutes). Flip sandwich and repeat.
6. Sandwich can be cooked in panini press if you have one.

 Makes 1 sandwich (1 serving).

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Pink Lemonade Cake Donuts

Pink Lemonade Cake Donuts from dieteticsinners

Oops!  I'm a week late and missed National Doughnut Day but doughnuts deserve to be eaten everyday.  Well, maybe not everyday, unless you happen to have an awesome metabolism or great will power because I don't know about you but I can never just stop at one!

National Doughnut Day may have inspired me to make some doughnuts but it was the poor neglected doughnut tin that I bought last year that prompted me to finally make some.  I have quite a few odd shaped bake ware gifted to me that I just need to try out or condemn to Goodwill. 

Pink Lemonade Donut Batter

I also happened to have one or two pink lemonade cake mixes languishing in the cabinet that was purchased on clearance last summer. Is there really a difference between yellow and pink lemonade other than color?  I'm pretty sure there isn't but I could swear that pink lemonade taste better.  Why would pink taste better than yellow?  My head hurts.

Un glazed Pink Lemonade Donuts

I think I avoided making cake donuts because I dreaded cleaning the damn pan afterwards.  But you know what these babies just fell right out my pan (from Wilton). The pan is nonstick but I did spray it really good with cooking spray in between each batch too.  Filling each cavity was a breeze too because I used a plastic zip bag as a piping bag.  Glad I could just toss that thing in the trash when I was finished with it!

Pink Lemonade Donuts with Sprinkles

At the last minute I decided to add yellow food color to the glaze and sprinkle the cakes with colored sugar.  Not sure if I like the color but they tasted great so who cares?  My stomach sure didn't!

Feel free to use your favorite cake mix to make some doughnuts of your own.  I bet chocolate would be super tasty.  These don't come out dense like traditional cake doughnuts but light and fluffy like a cupcake.  Best part?  They're baked not fried!  So maybe it's okay to eat more than one;)

I'll be linking this recipe to these great linky parties !

Pink Lemonade Donuts

Pink Lemonade Cake Donuts 


2¾ cups Lemon Flavored Box Cake Mix (or use Pink Lemonade if you can find it!)
¾ cup Buttermilk
2 TBS Melted Butter
2 Eggs
pink food coloring (optional)

1 cup Powdered Sugar
3 TBS Whole Milk
1 tsp Lemon Extract (or Vanilla or Orange or Almond...etc.)


1.  Combine donut ingredients in stand mixer with paddle attachment (or combine in large bowl and combine with rubber spatula).  Mix ingredients until all large lumps are gone.  Little lumps are okay.

2.  Transfer batter to a large freezer type zip bag.  Cut off a small portion bags corner to make itinto a piping bag.  Pipe donut batter into greased donut cake pan cavities until 2/3 full.

3. Bake donuts in preheated 425F Degree oven for 7-9 minutes or until toothpick inserted into a doughnut comes out clean.  Allow donuts to cool in pan 2-3 minutes and then remove to wire rack to continue cooling.

4.  While donuts are cooling prepare glaze by combining glaze ingredients in a small bowl.  Stir until all lumps are gone.

5.  Dunk each donut into glaze and place on wire rack glaze side up.  If you want to add sprinkles do so immediately after dunking into glaze.  Allow glaze to harden before serving or consume immediately for a delectable mess and an opportunity to lick fingers;)

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

White Chocolate Chip Strawberry Shortcakes


I'm not sure why I haven't posted this recipe yet.  I was going through photos and deleting and sorting and stumbled across these and went "Oh crap!".  Yep, oops!  But then again we are definitely into strawberry season so maybe this recipe was just waiting for the perfect debut to arrive.


My favorite strawberry recipe is definitely strawberry-rhubarb pie but strawberry shortcakes have a space in my heart as well.  Usually my strawberry shortcakes involve buying those bright yellow sponge cakes strategically placed next to the berries in the produce section.  You know the ones I speak off, right?  They kind of taste like a Twinkie sans cream filling. 


I feel kind of ashamed to admit that I really love those sponge cake receptacles.  That being said I know I can do better.  My grandma never used those things but would make her own little biscuits to serve the strawberry filling on.  They always tasted amazing, especially right out of the oven, and were easy to prepare.


I'm not sure why I get so lazy and use those sponge cakes when these taste so yummy.  I used my grandmother's recipe (actually found on the Bisquick container) and modified it to add some more flavor.  Chocolate and chocolate chips anyone?  Perfect combo if you ask me (or don't).  Mmm, chocolate covered strawberries!


Kind of off topic but why the heck are strawberries almost the size of apples and so tasteless these days?  I remember eating unripe strawberries in my grandma's front yard that had more flavor then these monster berries! 


A lot of my berries in this batch were a bit under ripe too.  Didn't know that until I opened the package those sneaky strawberry packers. 


Nothing a little honey can't solve.  I love using honey instead of sugar because it completely dissolves in the strawberry juices where as sugar sometimes stays a bit grainy.  It also tastes better!  We bought some local honey at the farmer's market and I swear I could just eat that stuff straight out of the bottle.  Don't be surprised if you find me passed out under the table with an empty honey bear beside me.  Hooray for sugar highs!


White Chocolate Chip Strawberry Shortcakes
slightly adapted from

4 cups sliced strawberries
3 tablespoons honey 
2 cups baking mix (like Bisquick brand) 
  cup unsweetened baking cocoa
tablespoons sugar(divided)
  cup milk
tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
  cup white chocolate chip
whipped cream (I use Cool-Whip)

1. Heat oven to 425°F. In large bowl, mix strawberries and honey; set aside. 

2. In medium bowl, stir baking mix, cocoa, milk, 3 tablespoons sugar and the butter until soft dough forms. On parchment lined cookie sheet, drop dough by 6 spoonfuls. Sprinkle dough with remaining sugar.

3. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown.

4. Split warm shortcakes; fill and top with strawberries and whipped cream.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Out With the Girls (Abuelo's Mexican Resturant Review)


Yes, I know I have been M.I.A. this past month but now I'm back.  Maybe.  I've been feeling pretty down in the dumps lately and just haven't been in the mood to bake or take photos.  I'm still in the process of trying to find a house too and that has not been an easy or stress free adventure. 

While my Mother-in-law was in town she wanted to go check out houses and see where we might want to end of living.  We were supposed to look at a few properties but those plans fell through so we just drove around which was surprisingly helpful.


Before we set off on our journey I met up with mom-in-law,my sis-in-law and her daughter for lunch at Abuelo's Mexican Resturant at the Loop in Kissimmee.  I've passed by it many times but since my hubby isn't a fan of Mexican food that doesn't come from Taco Bell, never had the opportunity to try it out.


The first thing I loved about this restaurant was the decor.  I really hate going out to eat and then wishing I had brought a flashlight to read the menu.  This place is so bright and airy and doesn't feel crowded.  Of course we went for lunch but I have a feeling that at the height of dinner rush hour I would still feel comfortable and uncrowded.  It really feels like your seated outside on the patio without having to worry about the heat and bugs.


There is so much to look at while you wait for your food.  I don't know what this statue is all about but its gorgeous.  The murals on the wall are pretty awesome too.


Our server brought us free chips and a trio of salsas to dip them in.  The chips were nice and warm but could have used a touch of salt.  We ate two baskets full!  I didn't much care for the salsa but I don't care for salsa in general.


Here is my niece Claudia helping us polish off the chips.  I love getting to hang out with my husband's family.  Abuelo's seems pretty kid friendly.  They gave out color crayons and a kid's menu coloring page and serve the kid drinks in a plastic cup with a tight fitting lid.


I picked my entree from the lunch menu.  Everything is pretty affordable.  I really had a hard time picking out what I wanted to eat because it all sounded so good!


It looks like my Mom-in-law chose the chicken fajitas.  For some reason I thought the little pepper was the cutest thing I had ever seen.  I took so many pictures of it.  I'm completely ridiculous sometimes! 


Lil' Claudia chose the cheese quesadilla with rice and beans.  Looks pretty tasty to me. Anything covered in cheese usually is, right?  She couldn't finish all her food so momma had to get a to go box.  No skimpy servings here!


My meal consisted of pork soft tacos (Carnita Tacos), mashed potatoes, re-fried beans and some sort of onion cilantro topping.  I'm so glad they served the onions on the side.  I hate cilantro with a passion (and so does my husband!).  It tastes like soap, ick!


My favorite part of the whole meal were these potatoes (Papas con Chile).  I love potatoes anyways but these were taken to a whole other level.  They are combined with 4 cheeses, peppers, sour cream, garlic and jalapeno.  I was afraid that they would be uber spicy but they were perfectly seasoned and not spicy at all.  Just down right delicious.  I'd go back just for the potatoes!

Overall our experience at Abuelo's tells me that I will be returning even if I have to drag my husband into the lobby kicking and screaming. (J/K he isn't THAT picky).  Our waitress was friendly, the atmosphere wonderful and the food excellent.  It doesn't get batter than that.

2431 West Osceola Pkwy.
Kissimmee, FL 34741

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Influenster: Sugar & Spice Vox Box

*I was not financially compensated for this post. I received a sample for review purposes. The opinions are completely my own based on my experience. All products were received free of charge from influentser and this post includes links to the webpages of products reviewed*
The beginning of this month was good one for me when I came home from work and saw this big orange box sitting in my mailbox.  I was so excited to be selected to receive a Sugar'n Spice Voxbox from Influenster.  I wonder what could be inside?


Wow!  That's a lot of goodies for me to try out. 


In this box I received a box Splenda nectresse packets, Dickenson's Witch Hazel oil controlling towelettes (and coupons to share!), Vaseline Spray and Go Moisturizer, a Colgate Optic White toothbrush, Colgate Optic White mouthwash, Colgate Optic White toothpaste and a sample of Belvita Breakfast Biscuits.


The first thing I tried were these belVita breakfast biscuits, which to be honest, I've eaten before.  There nothing special and I would suggest pairing them with something more nutritious to make it a meal.  I ate mine for breakfast with a boiled egg and piece of fruit.  They are very cookie like but not too sweet.  No sustained energy achieved for me but possibly healthier than eating a pop-tart at least.


So, Vaseline Spray and Go moisturizer? At first I was like way cool!  But then, I thought about it and realized that I have never not had enough time to apply lotion or issues waiting for it to dry before putting on clothes.  Maybe because I don't slop that stuff on like a maniac?  This product is utterly ridiculous but fun to use...if you like getting lotion all over your floor and slipping on it later.  I suggest spraying it on in the shower after you shut off the water and drying off.  Contain that spray!  This product does smell good and does a decent job moisturizing.  If your really lazy then this lotion is for you. 


Ever tried any of the Colgate Optic White products? I've been using the Optic White toothpaste with the Optic White toothbrush everyday since receiving them and I can't believe how white my teeth are!  I wish I had taken a picture of my teeth before and after. Unfortunately, the Optic White mouthwash tastes very strongly of peroxide but I really do like the whitening results I get from using all 3 products so I just don't use the mouthwash very often!


These witch hazel towelettes by Dickinson's had to grow on me.  The first time I used it I was turned off by the smell.  My face smelled like a piece of wicker furniture!  The smell did wear off quickly and the product did an excellent job cleaning my face and didn't leave it all dried out like using toner would have. I really like these and will be buying them in the future.  I like keeping a couple in my gym bag for a quick face refresher after my workout.


I really love Splenda and was excited to give this a try. I thought it was just okay but it had a bit of an after taste that I never notice when I use Splenda. My husband loved this product and consumed the rest of the packets in his daily cup of hot tea. I just could not get over the mild aftertaste and could taste it even when mixed into my chocolate hot cereal. I will buy this for my husband so he can continue to use in his tea but I'm going to stick with my big yellow bag of Splenda!

So that's that on my first VoxBox.  I had a lot of fun trying out these products and will buying a few of them in the future: the Colgate Optic White toothpaste and the Dickinson's towelettes for sure and the nectresse because my husband wants some more and since I like him, I guess I'll buy him some more;)