Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Bacon Wrapped Breadsticks

These are so easy and a great appetizer to start off football season! 




All you need is bacon, Parmesan cheese, and boxed breadsticks! I used sesame breadsticks but you could use any kind you find!




Dip the bacon [both sides if you're healthy like me] in the Parmesan cheese and then wrap the breadstick with the bacon. If your bacon won't stay put, use a few toothpicks to secure it. Bake and voila!




Bacon Wrapped Breadsticks
About.com


Ingredients
1/2 pound thin sliced bacon
1/4 cup-1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1 box garlic or sesame breadsticks


Directions
Preheat oven to 425. Pour Parmesan cheese on a cutting board and rub on each slice of bacon. Wrap bacon around breadstick. Place bacon wrapped breadsticks on a wire rack over a foil lined cookie sheet. 


Bake for 12-15 minutes until bacon is cooked. Sprinkle with additional Parmesan cheese before serving. 


Enjoy!


Monday, August 22, 2011

Krispie Pops

These little guys were fast, fun & yummy!




These are so easy! But they are a lot more fun when you have an adorable blonde two year old as your assistant. Check out this little Apron Gal:


This is my niece Emma! We made these together and it was so fun!


The Apron Gal & Apron Gal in training 

Ok, enough of her cuteness. On to the recipe:


First, you will need to have some lollipop sticks on hand. You can buy these at Michael's, party stores, Orson Gygi or on Amazon. These are only about $5.00 for anywhere from 50-100 and they are great to keep on hand for cake pops or other fun ideas! I used the really long ones but I would probably do more of a typical lollipop size next time like the 4 inch. These were still cute long and you could even make a Rice Krispie bouquet for someone! 


Ok back to the recipe:


Make your Rice Krispie treats according to Rice Krispie box recipe. After marshmallow/butter and Rice Krispies are mixed, leave the mixture in the bowl/pot. Then, instead of spreading these into a 9x13 pan, start rolling them into balls with your hands. 






I did try to use an ice cream scoop but found that it was more trouble and more time consuming so I just used my hands instead! 


Shape these into balls and then place on a parchment lined cookie sheet. Immediately insert a lollipop stick into the center and make sure it is tight so the rice krispie ball doesn't fall off! 




Continue until all balls are made. Meanwhile, melt your chocolate with a little butter to keep it from burning. Dip the pops into the chocolate and then shake off excess chocolate. Decorate with sprinkles!




Place upside down in a piece of foam or anything else you can think of to keep the pops upright. 






Let set for at least 20 minutes then try to stop yourself from eating 2 or 3... or 4... haha




Next time I make these I want to drizzle them with white chocolate or mix in peanut butter with the chocolate....the possibilities are endless!


Krispie Pops
The Apron Gal 


Ingredients
6 cups Kellogg's Rice Krispies or similar rice puffed cereal
4 cups mini marshmallows 
3 TBS butter + 1 teaspoon butter
4 oz/cubes semi sweet chocolate
Sprinkles


Directions


Make Rice Krispies according to box directions. Instead of spreading mixture into 9x13, roll mixture into balls and place on parchment lined cookie sheet. Insert lollipop stick into warm ball and press Krispies around stick so it stays put. 


Melt chocolate and 1 teaspoon butter in microwave. Dip pops in chocolate and then decorate with sprinkles. Place sticks in foam or something to keep them upright. 


Allow to set for 20-30 minutes at room temperature or in fridge. 


Enjoy!


[Rice Krispie is a registered trademark of Kellogg's]


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

How to Throw a Paella Party

I may or may not have mentioned before that when I was 18 I did a homestay program in Spain. I was scared out of my mind as I entered a new country where within 10 minutes my luggage was lost and I couldn't understand a thing. Luckily, my Spanish host family quickly made me forget how scared I was as they welcomed me with open arms and with lots of home cooked food. 


Every day my Spanish mother, Mari Carmen, would cook lunch and dinner for me. I tried every single thing she ever cooked. I didn't necessarily like all of them, but it was so wonderful learning about all kinds of new food and particularly, new seafood. 


One thing I loved was paella. Spain is famous for their paella and my family was no exception. You might say that Spanish paella is the equivalent of the American Sunday roast. It isn't necessarily for the everyday but definitely for when family or guests are in town, made in large batches with only the freshest ingredients. 


I hope to share my family's recipe/my own recipe soon when I pare it down to a normal serving suggestion and take some step by step photos. 


I want to show you how to throw a Paella party & how we did ours:


1. Picked a theme-Paella Party. We have a friend who has a huge paella pan that feeds 30-40 people. That pan was the inspiration for the entire event. We knew we would keep everything else fairly simple and keep the Paella the star of the show. Here is a smaller version you could buy.




This pan was so heavy that it took my father and my husband to carry it to serve it!





2. Choose your menu- Ours was paella with salad and crusty bread! We also had cheese and fruit for appetizers/dessert. Although some fancier cheeses and prosciutto would have been great we worked with what was in our budget! We allocated more money to fresh seafood so that it was the focus of that gorgeous batch of Paella. Yum!









3. Found entertainment-We found a local college student on Craig's List who sang Spanish & Portuguese songs along with playing the guitar. It was so fun to have live music and made things feel a little more fun!


4. Chose colors & decorations- We chose bright red, yellow and orange to accompany our paella. We bought yellow/orange daisies along with serving sangria with oranges and yellow/orange napkins. The bright colors really brought the food to life! Not to mention the red lobsters on top! And don't forget fresh lemons for people to use on their seafood. 





5. Have fun! Do some Flamenco dancing, decorate with Spanish fans or anything else you can think of!


You may not be throwing a Paella party for 50 but I just wanted to give you an idea and inspire you to throw your own party based on any idea you think of!


Did you see my entertaining tips


What do you think of this party idea? Have you ever made paella?


Now go throw a party! 


Monday, August 15, 2011

My Top 5 Entertaining Tips!

Along with giving y'all great food recipes, I also want to share some of my tips for entertaining. I am by no means an expert but I do consider entertaining something I enjoy and something I am good at. 

To kick off my entertaining part of the blog, I am sharing my top entertaining tips!


The Apron Gal's 
Top 5 Entertaining Tips:

1. Spread the Word/Plan Ahead.

  • Let friends/family know you are throwing a party and be sure to check your/their schedules ahead of time. I hate to conflict with other events so be sure to be aware of what is going on whenever you want to have a gathering i.e, no football games/church functions/friend's birthday. 
  •  Don't be afraid to ask people about a few tentative dates to see who would be able to attend depending on when you have the event.
  • If possible, ask for RSVP's so you can know how much food/chairs etc. It doesn't have to be set in stone but it will help you manage your event better.  

2. Pick a Theme. 

  • I am very into themes as my friends and family know. I say any excuse to dress up or go shopping for party favors or cupcake wrappers is good in my book. I think this makes guests excited too and it spices things up a little from the norm. 
  • Anything can be a theme. A national holiday, a special family event, or just a letter of the alphabet. Don't be afraid to do something a little out there just for fun. I am currently wanting to plan a get together solely for the purpose of buying a pinata. Is that wrong of me?
  • Encourage dressing the part when possible. It makes people feel like they are going out more than just showing up. This could be just black/white or summer attire. Making your friends dress up too much though will discourage attendance so don't go overboard!

3. Do Your Research. 

  • Start looking up party ideas online and perusing recipes. Figure out what is realistic for your budget and guest list size. 
  • Get creative with invitations, toothpicks, napkins, or whatever else you can find. Little details make all the difference.
  •  Find out what makes a particular party authentic, whether it be the naked baby in the Mardi Gras cake or the special kind of rice for sushi night. Those make for great stories for guests too. 
  • There are hundreds of cute blogs out there with cute party ideas. Check them out!

4. Plan Food, Entertainment & Decorations. 

  • Do the most that you can within your budget. Don't be afraid to buy decorations or games at the dollar or thrift store, borrow from friends or just use what you have around your house. Figure out the must haves from research in step #3! 
  • Did you know you could look for bands or entertainment on Craig's list? Lots of entertainers just want to entertain and are inexpensive or even free! 
  • Think outside the box for other activities you could have at your event. Incorporate a service element like collecting canned food or decorating cookies for neighbors or exchange recipes/treats with other guests. 

5.  Have Fun! 

  • Do what works for you. If cooking everything for your guests scares you, pick up some food or ask others to pitch in. If lots of people intimidate you, keep your party intimate. I love to cook, bake, decorate, and clean all day for an event. That is the fun part for me, but lots of people hate all that work. So don't do it! Don't have a formal event if you hate getting dressed up. You get the idea. Guests are happier when the host is happy and relaxed so be yourself and ENJOY IT!
Next I will show you a recent party I threw that was a big hit!

Are you ready to throw a party yet?? Do you have any other great entertaining tips?



Friday, August 12, 2011

Foodie Friday: Key Limes & Key Lime Tarts

As I was walking the aisles of the grocery store this big bag of key limes was calling my name for $1.29 




Who could pass that up?


Here is what I know about these little puppies:


Foodie Friday: Key Limes

Large lime, common lime & key lime




New Food: Key Limes


Category: Citrus


Ideal season to purchase: Summer!


How to select: Look for smooth skinned key limes and some say that the yellow key limes are actually sweeter than the green ones. Often you will find them in a bag or container in the produce section so you may not have to choose each individual lime. 


Where to buy: Regular, specialty or Mexican supermarket. Additionally, you can use bottled key lime juice during off seasons and they are supposed to be pretty comparable. Fresh is always better though! 


Fun facts:
  • Key limes get their name from the Florida Keys where they flourish, although most of today's key limes come from Mexico
  • Key limes give an acidic kick to drinks like limeades
  • Key limes are ripe when yellow but usually sold commercially when green. This is true of all limes and it was originally done for marketing so limes wouldn't be confused with lemons!
  • Key limes are also called Mexican limes
Flavor:
Stronger, more acidic, and more tart than the average Persian lime [the regular kind].

How to prepare:
Same as any lime but beware since key limes have more seeds than regular limes and they are very small!

Storage: One week on your counter or several weeks in the fridge

Recipe suggestions:

Homemade limeades, regular or slushy style. Key lime cupcakes, key lime pies or tarts. 

I made key lime tarts because I think anything mini is cuter!

Start by making a homemade graham cracker crust. I usually use premade crusts but this was so much more flavorful and fun to try. It also saved money since I already graham crackers, butter and sugar at home. 


Crush the graham crackers in a bag with rolling pin or meat tenderizer. You can also use a food processor. Directions call for crusts to be into real small crumbs but mine had some chunks and I liked it that way!




Then add your butter and sugar. Stir together and then press into your pan. Bake and your done!


To make the filling:


Make sure your cream cheese is at room temperature so it is easier to mix together. If it's not you can carefully try softening in microwave or stove but watch it every second so it doesn't burn! 


Juice about 8 key limes for their juice. Be sure to do it in a bowl first so that no little seeds make it into the pies. 8 is a nice tart but still mild flavor. That is how my family likes it. More tart recipes might be more like 12 limes. I estimate each of my key limes made about 1 tablespoon of lime juice. 




Mix cream cheese with sugar, lime juice, green food coloring and at the very end, cool whip. 


Pour over prebaked crust. Let set in fridge for at least 2 hours. Grate lime peel over top and place key lime for decoration! **Note, make sure to grate your lime peel right before you serve it, I did mine before and some of the peel turned brown. 


These made 8 quiche/tart pans full or you could probably make 1 regular pie pan size. [The mini are so much cuter though! It lets everyone have their own] You could even go mini on these and make twice as many.


These honestly melt in your mouth they are so good! And very refreshing for a summer treat!






Key Lime Tarts
The Apron Gal


Ingredients


Graham Cracker Crust:


-1 package graham crackers [about 8-10 crackers]
-6 TBS butter, melted
-1/3 cup sugar


Filling:


-1.5 pound cream cheese or 3 bars /24 oz
-8-10 key limes or 7-8 TBS key lime juice
-1/4 cup sugar
-green food coloring
-1 container Cool Whip, softened


Directions


Crush graham crackers. Mix together with melted butter and sugar. Bake at 375 for 7 minutes. 


Mix room temperature cream cheese with key lime juice, sugar and green food coloring. You want a nice light green color so 1-3 drops will do it. Fold in Cool Whip. Add more sugar/lime juice/coloring if desired. 


Pour filling into prebaked crusts. Refrigerate to set about 2 hours. 


Serve with lime slice on top and grated lime peel. 


Makes 8 small tarts. 


Enjoy!




Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Cajun Pork Tenderloin

So sorry its been a week since I last posted but it was a crazy few days!


To make it up to you I have a delicious recipe for you today! It is a super easy and flavorful rub for pork tenderloin. 


Pork tenderloin is great because it needs very little prep time, just remove from the package, rinse it and voila! It is also a leaner cut of meat but still very hearty and satisfying. They often go on sale too so keep your eyes open! Additionally, one pork tenderloin will serve about 4 people and some packages even have 2 tenderloins so you can quickly and easily serve 8. 


I took pictures step by step for this but its so simple and they aren't the most beautiful so I will just explain and show the finished product! 


Mix spices together. Rub lime juice all over pork then rub in spices. Grill or broil and voila! I cooked mine outside on the grill so it could get that nice crunchy crust. Mmmmm good! 
Serve with some grilled asparagus & a baked potato! 


Cajun Pork Tenderloin
Recipe courtesy weightwatchers.com


Ingredients


1-2 limes
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp packed light brown sugar
1 tsp celery seed
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp ground sage
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp black pepper 
1.25 pound pork tenderloin, trimmed 


Directions


Rub lime juice all over pork. Mix remaining spices and rub/roll spices onto pork tenderloin. 


To broil: line baking sheet with foil, spray with cooking spray & and broil about 14 minutes or until meat thermometer reaches 160 degrees in the thickest part of the pork. Turn once during broiling. 


Or grill outside 8-12 minutes or until reaching 160 degrees, turning once. 


Remove from heat and let rest [don't cut it immediately so the juices will stay in] 3-4 minutes. 


Squeeze additional lime juice if desired over top. Serve with veggies and enjoy! 


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Popsicles!

As promised, today I am showing y'all some cool summer treats. Since it was 110 degrees yesterday in Dallas, I know I could sure use something to help me cool off!






I am sharing two different recipes for popsicles and they are both really just a template for any popsicles you want to make!


To start off, figure out what you will be putting your popsicle in. I decided I want to make popsicles and figured I would just run out and grab some popsicle molds, but I couldn't find them anywhere! I finally found some hidden at Wal-Mart but check your local grocery store, kitchen store or here are the ones the article recommended on Amazon or these look good too. Or you can make use of what you have at home but you will need wooden popsicle sticks from somewhere online or look in the craft section at Wal-Mart




First, we made Blueberry Pomegranate pops. You will need simple syrup for this popsicle. Simple syrup is often used for beverages but it is also a good base for popsicles. 


Combine 1/2 cup water with 1/2 cup sugar in a saucepan over medium heat bringing just to a simmer. Cook for 2 minutes or until sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. This is basically heating sugar water until the sugar dissolves. 




Can you tell that the first sugar and water is cloudy and you can see the grains of sugar? And that after simmering it has become syrup and is clear on the right?


Now you just mix ingredients in a blender & freeze! I made these with my niece and nephew and they were a little too tart for them so they are more of a grown-up treat, but we had fun making them! I used cranberry pomegranate juice so that might have made them a little more tart as well. But you could switch these up with cran apple juice and raspberries or whatever other combination you could think of!


Niece Addyson, Nephew Lawson & hubby Jason. Lawson missed the photo memo.
The finished Pomegranate Blueberry popsicle!

When I was shopping I was worried that I wouldn't be able to find popsicle molds so I started brainstorming what I could use in place of a traditional mold. 


I made one batch of these in a muffin tin with popsicle sticks and a piece of paper and they turned out just fine!




Fill your muffin tins with your popsicle puree and then poke holes in your piece of paper for your popsicle sticks. You can't guarantee that your stick will stay in the middle but it still works! 


Here are the muffin tin popsicles at the end, they look a little different but still taste great! So that is a budget friendly option if  you don't want to buy popsicle molds!




Ok the next one is even easier and I would call it more of a "pudding pop" than a traditional popsicle. 


Make chocolate pudding, add crushed oreos and freeze! If you make it to freezing before eating all that delicious pudding mix...my niece and I definitely liked that batter after a day at the pool! 




These reminded me of when I used to make mud pies so for fun with my niece & nephew I added some gummy worms to the muffin pan popsicles. These are fun for kids!



Add worms for kids! 

Other flavor combinations for popsicles: mango yogurt, pina colada etc. Just pick some of your  favorite flavors and experiment! This is a fun summer activity with kids either way! 

Pomegranate Blueberry Pops
Adapted from Family Circle Magazine 

2 1/4 cups cranberry-pomegranate or blueberry pomegranate juice blend
1 cup fresh or frozen [and thawed] blueberries
1/4 cup quick sugar syrup 

Puree ingredients in blender until blueberries are chopped. Pour into mold, place sticks and freeze for 2-3 hours or until frozen solid. To remove popsicles run warm water over molds until loosened. 

Makes 10 medium pops. 

Quick Sugar Syrup 
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
Combine sugar and water in saucepan over medium heat. Heat just until a simmer. Cook additional 2 minutes until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. 

Oreo Pudding Pops
adapted from Family Circle Magazine
2 1/4 cups cold milk
1 box [3.9 oz] instant chocolate pudding
1 cup Oreo cookies, crushed 


Whisk milk and pudding together. Fold in cookie chunks. Pour into popsicle molds. Freeze 2-3 hours or until frozen. 


Makes 10 medium pops. 


To store pops remove from molds and place in freezer bag. 


Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Giveaway Winner Announced!

Thanks to all who entered my first giveaway! 
Please keep telling your friends about The Apron Gal! 
You can still follow me here, like me on facebook here, and tweet with me here!


I'm excited to announce our giveaway winner, chosen by *random.org......



Aimee!


Congratulations! Please contact me at TheApronGal@gmail.com to claim your apron! 


I hope to have many more giveaways in the near future so please keep reading, following and spreading the word!


Here are your answers for what recipes you would like to see someday on The Apron Gal:


  • Easy lunch ideas
  • Healthy meals
  • Stuffing
  • Fun drinks
  • Sweets
  • Gluten Free
  • Mango salsa
  • Homemade oreos
  • Preserving food/canning
  • Avocado recipes
  • White chocolate brownies
  • Cheesecake 
  • Grilling Sauces/Marinades
  • Summer Salads
  • Bread 
Those are definitely awesome inspiration and I hope to make some of those soon! 



Check back tomorrow for a sweet recipe!






*After I adjusted entries according to giveaway rules.

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