Wednesday, December 26, 2012

A Cider and Treats Gathering!

I hope you have had a Merry Christmas with your friends and family! I have had a wonderful time with my husband's family in Idaho and I'm off to spend a few more days with family in Dallas; it has been a nice break from real life!

Before we left all our friends for the holidays, we wanted to have a little gathering with friends to see each other off. We weren't up to a big party since everyone was busy preparing to leave and there are always lots of parties this time of year.

We simply invited everyone for some apple cider and some baked treats. It was very casual but was perfect for our friends and us!
You could have this party anytime in the winter or even fall, it doesn't have to be Christmas to have an apple cider party. It would also be a cute New Year's party idea!

 Mugs for Apple Cider
Caramel apple cider in the crock pot-loosely based on this recipe.

 These are dark chocolate peppermint wafer cookies from Whole Foods. Amazing. 
They were gone in minutes.
 Christmas isn't Christmas without Puppy Chow/ Muddy Buddies.
 Fresh apples and sparkling cider pound cake based on this recipe. It was good, but half of it was underbaked and wouldn't come out of the pan so I probably wouldn't make it again.
 Homemade madeleines. Recipe to come!
 Peanut butter pretzels from Costco.
Banana nut muffins. 

For the Caramel apple cider, combine apple juice, caramel from a jar (the kind used for sundaes), and 2 cinnamon sticks for 4  hours on low. Add some powdered cinnamon if greater spice flavor is desired. 

Enjoy! And Happy Holidays!

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Monday, December 17, 2012

Insta-Yum November

I know this is late but I still wanted to share all the delicious things I ate in November! Let me know if you have tried these places and liked them or not too!

 I was lucky enough to have a gift card to Z'Tejas on 6th Street where I got this grilled cheese and corn soup (both good but not great) but this queso below was delicious! And I had a fruity drink that I liked and my waiter was awesome. So I would definitely go back and order a more traditional entree.
 Queso and guacamole from Z'Tejas...what's not to like?

 A friend of mine gave us a Living Social deal to Poke-e-Jo's barbeque. It was our first time trying it and I liked it! Not as good as Rudy's barbeque but lots of good side options and a fun country ambiance. I'm a sucker for traditional chopped beef sandwiches and green bean casserole!
 Chino's Burrito is a new Chinese burrito place in Round Rock. "Tex Mex goodness and Asian cuisine all wrapped in a tortilla." Basically they have both Tex Mex and Asian foods and you can pick what you want in your tacos or burrito! Really good food and such a different idea! They have Korean style Bulgogi meat and teriyaki chicken-both of which make some yummy tacos!

 It may be wrong but this put a big smile on my face after a long week. It's hard to beat pizza, cinnamon sticks and cheese sticks from Pizza Hut. Plus it was only $9.99. Hard to beat!

 Red Velvet hot chocolate from Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf.
 Pulled pork sliders from Curly's Perfect Pig at the Round Rock food trucks. These were good sliders-all had different toppings but the hush puppies and okra weren't that great. 

 Ahi tuna salad from BJ's. I used to love BJ's restaurant but I am no longer on that bandwagon. This salad was okay and it wasn't cheap. Maybe one day I'll give it another go but for now I will only be getting giant cookies from BJ's.

 Bacon pesto chicken with cheese mashed potatoes and asparagus from Kerbey Lane in Austin.
 This was so good! I devoured it.
 The famous Kerbey Lane queso- guacamole covered in queso. This is the best queso I have ever had.
 If you come to Austin, you must try it!
 A plate with a taquito, enchilada and tamale from Taco Cabana
I can't remember the name of this platter but I liked it!
 Boudin sausage balls from a food truck at the North Austin Trailer Park
It was a Cajun one but I can't find the name! 
I didn't really like these Boudin balls (sausage and rice, fried) but I
 did have a good shrimp po boy from them!
 A molcajete, filled with steak, chicken, shrimp and cactus!  From Campo Azul in Round Rock. The waitress was super nice and the molcajete was good (the queso, not so much). 
The restaurant wasn't the nicest but I liked it overall. Not sure if I would go back or not!
 The Pumpkin Spice cupcakes from Hey Cupcake!, these are the best cupcake I have ever had from there. They are seasonal so try them while you can!
 For my big work event, I planned an event with a 4 course meal from the Four Seasons Austin. 
And of course, that required a tasting of all the options! It was so fun and everything was delicious!
This was a trio of salads each with different dressings...we chose this and it was fun having 3 options!
 Chicken piccata with orzo and broccolini...we chose this one. 
It was light but had great subtle flavors.
 All the options!
 All the entree options, each on it's own little plate.
 Dessert trio...again, so fun to get a little taste of 3 things: 
cheesecake, chocolate cake and creme brulee.
 The most decadent chocolate cake I have ever had. I could have eaten 4 of these! 
 My Thanksgiving plate: ham, mashed potatoes, stuffing, salad, green bean casserole, sweet potatoes.
 Hard Eight Barbeque in Roanake. A fun place with good sides and true barbeque.
My whole family loved this place. 

 Great Mexican food from Anamia's in Flower Mound. 
They also have amazing tableside guacamole, definitely get it if you go!
 The classic In N Out burger!

Any good recommendations for me? I honestly have been eating out so much I look forward to the New Year and getting back to cooking since work has calmed down!

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Cream Cheese Frosting

I'm so sorry for my long blogging absence! I am excited to be back and I have so many fun things I want to share with y'all! I hope you will start reading again!

These little beauties came from a day when I wanted to bake but was out of flour to make anything from scratch. Luckily I had a cake mix on hand and found this great recipe with cake mix and no flour.

My husband gobbled these up and I gave a bunch away to friends and he was very disappointed to see these go! They are a perfect for a fall or winter treat! Go make these as a little Christmas treat-you won't regret it!

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies with Cream Cheese Frosting

recipe slightly adapted from

Makes between 16-20 whoopie pies depending on size

1 pkg.  (2-layer size) yellow cake mix
1 pkg.  (3.4 oz.)  Vanilla Flavor Instant Pudding
2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 cup canned pumpkin
1/3 cup  oil
1/3 cup  water
3 eggs
1 pkg.  (8 oz.) Cream Cheese, softened
1 jar  (7 oz.) Marshmallow Creme
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 tsp.  ground cinnamon
1 tub  (8 oz.) COOL WHIP Whipped Topping, thawed

Heat oven to 350ºF.

Beat first 7 ingredients with mixer until well blended. Scoop into small mounds (I used a medium sized cookie scoop of about 2 tablespoons batter), 3 inches apart, on baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray or on a Silpat. 
Bake 12 to 14 min. or until toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean. Cool on baking sheet 2 min. Remove to wire racks; cool completely. 
Beat cream cheese, marshmallow cream, ginger and cinnamon in large bowl with mixer until well blended. Whisk in Cool Whip. Spread 3 Tbsp. onto flat side of 1 cake; top with second cake, flat-side down. Roll edge in sprinkles, if desired. Repeat with remaining cakes. Keep refrigerated.

(The cakes can be made ahead of time. Bake and freeze up to 2 weeks. When freezing, place in single layer in pan to prevent them from sticking together. Thaw completely before using to assemble whoopie pies.)

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