Friday, February 3, 2012

Not Yo Mamma's Meatloaf Muffins

For some people, the word meatloaf conjures up unappetizing memories. I must say I ate my fair share of nasty meatloaf as a kid. Despite the name of the post, my mom made a pretty good meatloaf, but somehow I was forced to eat greasier versions at other houses with unidentified crunchy chunks.

Now that I have you reliving all of those terrible meatloaf experiences, I wanna introduce this recipe. My mom found this recipe in Cooking Light magazine and I fell in love. It's delicious! The perfect amount of moisture without grease. A delicious flavor from sauteed onions and garlic. And best of all, they're all ready in individual portions! So whether you've had an aversion to meatloaf in the past or you love meatloaf, you've got to try this recipe. 

The recipe calls for lean ground beef. However, since I'm humbly inching towards my "bikini by summer" goal, I decided to try the recipe with ground turkey instead. I've gotta wasn't bad. But if I'm being honest, I prefer the beef. Turkey is just so much leaner (hence it being better in the attack against my love handles), which means that it's not as juicy as the ground beef.

I made some mashed potatoes. I know, not the healthiest side on the planet. I used a pastry bag to pipe a little bit of mashed spuds on each meatloaf. Wouldn't this be great for kids? How fun for a kid to have a "cupcake" for dinner.

Diner Meatloaf Muffins

Recipe adapted from Cooking Light

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Mustache Bookmarks

I recently got Photoshop and I've been trying to learn how to work its magic. Inspired by these Valentines from Plum Adorable, I decided to make mustache bookmarks for my little sister's birthday. I started with photos of my baby nephew in Photoshop and then ran with it. It was worth it for the sheer amusement; I laughed out loud so many times (Ryan gave me the "you're weird" eyebrow lift). My nephew is just too cute, especially with a Mario Brothers' mustache.

I made the bookmarks to accompany the first two books of The Hunger Games trilogy in her birthday package. If you haven't yet, you should must read these books! They're pretty addicting.

To start, I used my sister's instagram photos of the baby, but any photo cropped down to a square will work. Then I googled "free mustache clip art." Here's a 'stache that I used. I used Photoshop to add the mustaches to the photos. If you don't have Photoshop, I'm pretty sure you can do the same thing with Pixlr for free!

I then came up with mustache-related sayings. Only one is actually related to reading...oh well! After printing the bookmarks off, I cut 'em out and glued 'em to cardstock in a contrasting color.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Root Beer for Grown Ups

About a month ago, Ryan and I were walking through the liquor store, when I spotted this old-timey bottle. I was intrigued. Upon closer inspection, I saw that it was a root beer liqueur, named after an old man: the Blackmaker. The bottle's tag tells the tale of a grumpy gentleman, who spent his time in the mountains, collecting herbs and making concoctions. He sold his mixtures to the town store, including this liqueur. I can't resist booze with a kooky story. 

The old man's ingredients for root beer extract included wintergreen, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, sweet birch, and star anise. I can just see him wandering the woods with his pack, collecting all sorts of herbs, grumbling to himself. Maybe some lass broke his heart. Maybe the Blackmaker never existed. One thing I do know - this bottle is more than a cool label. It's contents are mighty tasty.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Parmesan Coated Goat Cheese with Basil Oil

Oh goat cheese, how I love thee. I wish others shared my enthusiasm. I'm not sure what it is that makes folks shy away from goat cheese. Maybe it's the word goat that's not so appetizing. Personally, I fell in love with goat cheese while I was studying abroad in France five years ago. At parties, they would serve small bites of goat cheese with all sorts of fresh herbs sprinkled on top. To my amazement, I found similar bite size goat cheese with herbs at Costco. They are delicious! The perfect snack or appetizer.

Now for this little beauty...

I came across this recipe and couldn't wait to try it. Ryan liked it, but me, I was giddy with how delicious it was. The tanginess of the goat cheese, the bite of the raw garlic, the crispness of the fresh basil, all piled on top of freshly baked buttery's almost too much to handle. So good! And the presentation, look at that beautiful green color. If you love goat cheese or you're feeling brave, you've gotta try this recipe. You won't be sorry. Although, I can't guarantee that you won't ruin your dinner by finishing off this "appetizer" in one sitting, it's that good.

I did a few things differently from Annie's version. Annie's version calls for plain goat cheese, but I used an herb-flavored goat cheese from Trader Joe's. I also used 5 oz. of cheese, instead of 4 oz. She recommends running the oil through a sieve, but I didn't have one and I liked the basil leaves left in the oil. 

Start by blending parmesan cheese and panko in a food processor to form a crumb coating.

Then mix together goat cheese, garlic, kosher salt, and black pepper.

Form the cheese mixture into a ball, then roll around to coat with panko mixture. Chill in the fridge.

Blanch basil leaves, then mince in food processor with garlic. Add the olive oil. 

Pour the basil olive oil onto a plate. Place goat cheese in the center and garnish with basil leaves. 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Butte 52: Week 2 - Murals in Downtown Chico

If you walk around downtown, it's plain to see that Chico embraces it's artists. Buildings (both old and new), newspaper stands, benches are all blanketed with artwork. Around every corner, there are works of art both, beautiful and bizarre, vintage and modern, colorful and curious.

The man with the awesome feather in his hat? That's William Everone, an artist, who has done several murals downtown. He was commissioned to do two sepia-toned murals of a trolley (one coming towards you, and the other moving away) in the City Plaza. 

He is incorporating minerals from around the world in the mural. While chatting with us, he was grinding crystals from Mount Shasta into this violet paint. He has also included sand from Afghanistan into the paint for the mural.

Another mural of Everone's. He wanted us to know that it was part of a collection of art, throughout the country, that spells out "LOVE" on a map. It's called the 23rd Hour Wakeup Call Love Tour.

Here are just a few of the other murals you can find downtown:

The Beatles walking along Main Street. 

The Brooklyn Bridge on the Boys and Girls Club.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Goals for 2012

I usually don't make HUGE New Year's resolutions. I tend to make a long list of mini goals to achieve and better habits to adopt throughout the year. This year I made my list as usual. Then I came across this manifesto idea by Aileen at Creating Clever. Inspired by the manifesto, I made my own (of sorts) ...

Sorry about the somewhat blurry screenshot view. As soon as my printer decides to be my friend again, I  plan on printing this little beauty and framing it around my house (bathroom, craftroom, fridge, nightstand) to remind me to get my butt in gear.

fearless in the kitchen: I find myself thinking "that seems like a lot of work" or "I'm no chef, how do I do that?" No more of that. I'm gonna try new techniques and new ingredients. I will make more things from scratch. I will not be intimidated.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Butte 52: Week One - The Lookout

I've lived in Paradise for a few months now and I think it's time, for my new home and I, to get to know each other a little better. So I've decided to start a project, more of a mission. For each week in 2012, I'm going to photograph something from Paradise, Chico, or some other place in Butte County (in case you were wondering, Butte County is in the Sacramento Valley in Northern California). There are a lot of things that make this area special: beautiful parks, one of a kind eateries, local events, historical landmarks, unique shops, and incredible agriculture. I'm going to explore them all while learning to use my new camera.

I saw this under the big sign. I love that this club exists in my town. Maybe they can give me some pointers.

Paradise sits up on a hill, above the town of Chico. To get from Chico to Paradise you have to take the Skyway, a road that winds and turns as you make the slow climb up the hill.

Whenever I drive up and down the Skyway, I pass this lookout point. Well I finally stopped to look and snap some photos.

The sign calls it the "Little Grand Canyon" of Butte Creek.

There are a lot of interesting looking trees reaching out into the sky.

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