Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Challenge 4-Taco Pie

So I bought a pie crust weeks ago in hopes that I might be inspired to bake a pie. We'll inspiration never came and the pie crusts have been taking valuable real estate in my small freezer. Then earlier this week I remembered I had pinned a recipe for a taco type casserole in a pie crust. A major plus was I had everything the recipe called for (always a plus to not have to run to the store). This was another one of those pins where its just a picture pinned and the recipe is left in the description section, however the directions seemed fairly idiot proof (emphasis on the fairly) so I decided to give it a try.
 The directions are as follows:
Taco Pie, one of my favorites! Prepare taco meat as usual, add to pie crust, add cheese.....bake off and then add your favorite taco toppings. So simple and so yummy :)

The biggest question I had was about the crust. It doesn't say whether you put it in a raw or baked pie crust, what temperature to bake it at, or for how long. I then decided I would consult the Internet Bible for I found a similar recipe that recommended baking the pie crust first at 350 for 15 minutes, then adding the meat and cheese, and then baking for 5 minutes to melt the cheese.

Now when I decided to make Taco Pie tonight I knew I had the crust, the meat, and the cheese. I was sure I had taco seasoning (don't I always have taco seasoning), however what I found in my pantry was two half packets of chili seasoning and a packet of chicken taco seasoning. I decided on using the chicken taco seasoning and hoping it all turned out OK. I used a pound of ground turkey and threw in the packet of meat seasoning while baking the crust according to the directions (350 for 12-15 minutes, mine was ready in 13) Then I threw the meat in the crust, added a generous helping of my Great Value 3 Cheese Fiesta mix and into the oven it went. The crust came out nice and brown but not burnt and the cheese melted quite well. I would have thrown some sour cream on it after it came out of the oven but alas my sour cream was past its expiration date and ended up in the trash can. I spread a layer of mild salsa over the cheese, the topped it with a layer of shredded lettuce and viola is was done.



Taste wise it was OK. Nothing remarkable or amazing, though the chicken taco seasoning tasted great with the ground turkey (in case you're ever in a pinch and don't have regular taco seasoning). I like pie crust but the two together just didn't mesh as well as one might hope. Joe and I got into the discussion about making some kind of crushed Frito crust (I haven't check Pinterest for that yet, but will soon I'm sure) just to add a bit more flavor. We both agreed it would be good to take to a pot luck type dinner as it is quick to make, takes very few ingredients, and is fairly inexpensive. I'm not sure when or if I'll make it again but I am glad I gave it a try. A lot could probably be added to this recipe to jazz it up and I'm sure someone will figure out a way to make a pie crust out of Fritos.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Challenge 3- At Home French Toast Sticks

I pinned this recipe a few months ago think it was a brilliant idea for a quick and healthy snack/breakfast for those "Mommy, I'm hungry" moments. I love french toast but regular french toast sticks are super unhealthy (check the box for all of the ingredients) so these seemed like a great idea. My mother-in-law was in town and a loaf of white bread (which is almost never in our house) was left over so I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to use the bread and have a easy freezer snack.

The recipe is as follows:


Tricia Callahan @      


  • 30 slices whole wheat bread
  • .25 cups butter, melted
  • 8 eggs
  • .33 cups sugar
  • 1.33 cups milk (I used whole)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • .5 cups butternut squash puree (could also use sweet potato, pumpkin or acorn squash)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Slice bread slices into thirds. In a large bowl mix all ingredients except sliced bread. Spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray. Dip bread pieces, one by one, in the batter until coated and then place on the cookie sheet. Bake for 30 minutes turning over half-way through to ensure even cooking on both sides. When done, remove to cooling rack. Serve or freeze.

Freezing Directions:

Allow to cool on cooling rack completely or place on a cool cookie sheet and place in freezer for 10-15 minutes or until partially frozen (flash freezing). Place in Ziploc freezer bag and place in freezer until ready to use. To serve: microwave 30-45 seconds.


90 sticks ~30 “toddler” servings

Now I realize that not 3 days ago I was preaching the laws according to Paula Deen about sticking to a recipe the first time you make it. However, I figured the changes I was making was to quantity of the ingredients not the ingredients themselves I would probably be OK. I only used 20 slices of bread (because that's all I had) 6 eggs (since I was going to be dipping less bread) 1 cup of milk (still whole) and I used a sweet potato and apple puree I had (shh don't tell Kathryn). Bread was sliced, dipped, and put on cooking sprayed and *foiled cookie sheets (the foil will come into play shortly), and oven ready.

I put them in the oven at 350 degrees and set the timer for 15 minutes. When the timer went off I grabbed them out and assumed I would easily flip them over and put them in the oven for a second 15 minutes (You know what happens when you ASS U ME don't you?) Even though the were on foil (no not the good Reynolds kind) and I sprayed the foil with Pam they still stuck. It took a lot more effort to flip them and they were not nearly as pretty as I would have hoped. However once I got them flipped and back in the oven I at least hoped they would taste as good as they smelled (my kitchen smelled like a mix between pancakes and cinnamon buns).

After about 10 minutes I checked them and the seemed to be done. This was the final product:

They weren't exactly pretty but taste wise the were on par with regular french toast. The sweet potato and apple flavor wasn't at all pervasive so the toddler was none the wiser. With a little syrup they were gobbled up as a late morning snack (someone was up at 6:30 this morning demanding cereal). They are currently cooling and I will put them in a Ziploc bag and put them in the freezer in just a bit. Next time I will just spray down the cookie sheets super good (like the recipe says) and see if that helps with the sticking problem. All in all a good recipe and at least I didn't have to sit in front of a hot skillet all morning flipping 60 french toast sticks.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Challenge Two-At Home French Manicure ala Office Depot

In response to my husband's witty Facebook comment about my blog, I promised that not all of my Pinerest projects this summer would be food based. I don't think our waist lines or our budget could handle all of that yummy food (especially with my habit of pinning all things Nutella). So I decided my second adventure would be a foray into home manicures. I came across this picture and thought that was a brilliant idea. Like using painters tape on the wall when you paint, you use hole reinforcement stickers to create the arch of a french tip manicure.
The first red flag to this pin was that it was only a picture, not a link to blog with step by step instructions. I should have learned by now that when I go off the cuff on stuff like that bad things happen. I usually don't color my finger nails due to a terrible habit of tearing my finger nails and a constant need to pick at the paint. I usually keep my fingernails paint free and let the lovely ladies at Celeste Day Spa at Hulen Mall give me a $25 pedicure if I want any of my nails painted. However in the spirit of trying new things I bought the needed supplies at Target and heading to my bathroom and let the experiment commence.

First mistake was painting a base coat first. I thought it would dry quickly and then I could apply the hole reinforcers to do the tips. Mind you I put on a fairly thin coat of base and I used the hair dryer to speed up the process, but even then I was able to play 3 different games of DrawSomething on my iPad before my nails felt semi dry. Then I attached my hole reinforcer and used my white nail polish to make my sophisticated at home french manicure. After waiting for the white paint to dry I then peeled off the sticker and this was the result.
(The tip part looks awesome though)
(Getting ready for attempt #2)

Obviously I had to start over (which was OK because the base coat looked terrible, another reason I don't usually paint my own nails). I cleaned off my nails, applied the stickers to my clean, dry, and unpainted nails and then applied the white paint again.
After giving the white paint sufficient time to dry I carefully peeled off the stickers to varying results. Just like the frustration when pulling off painters tape and seeing spots that had leaked past the sticky barrier, I was greeted by a few spots underneath the sticker. However, this was a relatively simple problem to fix with some nail polish remover and a Q-tip. I threw a quick coat of top coat on and viola they were done. In the end, someone at a distance wouldn't notice the small imperfections of a relatively novice nail painter but up close it is a bit jacked up. I would recommend this to someone who is good at painting nails and wants a french tip without paying $25 at the nail salon. However since I am not good at painting nails and I like the ladies at Celeste, next time I want a french tip manicure I think I'll just go see them.
My next post should be Sunday and it will be food, however I have been waiting for an excuse to make my next recipe and I finally have it. Stay tuned :)

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Challenge 1-Cinnamon Swirl Banana Bread-Completed Successfully

As I mention earlier I have made this banana bread twice before and have found it is the best recipe for banana bread I have come across. I must first admit that I DO NOT like nuts in my banana bread. I like walnuts, just not in my brownies and not in my banana bread. When I found a recipe that didn't include nuts to begin with and had cinnamon in the title I was sold. This is what the Pinterest picture looks like, I mean how could you not want to eat that?

I was taught by the glorious Paula Deen that the first time you make a recipe you need to follow it, after that you can play with it as much as you want to. The first time I made the recipe I followed her rule and the recipe. It turned out great and got the thumbs up from the husband, the toddler, and my husband's coworkers. This time when I made it I followed the recipe for the most part except I had 4 bananas and the recipe calls for 3 (guess how many bananas went in the mixer). Also we keep a shaker container with cinnamon sugar in our cabinet so I didn't mix the cinnamon sugar to the specifics of the recipe. Other than that I was a firm recipe follower to wonderful results.

The recipe is: Cinnamon Swirl Banana Bread
For the bread:
  • 3 over-ripe bananas, smashed up
  • 1/3 cup melted butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • dash of salt
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
For the swirl:
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 Tbs cinnamon
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Butter and four a loaf pan. Mine was 9 x 5, but you could use any sort, I suppose. Just keep a close eye on it in the oven, and adjust the time as needed
  2. Mix bananas, butter, sugar, egg, and vanilla together. sprinkle baking soda and salt around on top of the banana mixture. Then gently stir in flour. Be careful not to over-mix!
  3. In a small dish, mix together the 1/3 cup sugar and 1 Tbs cinnamon.
  4. Add 1/2 of the batter to the loaf pan and then sprinkle half, or a little more than half of the cinnamon-sugar mixture all over the batter in the pan. Add the rest of the batter, and then sprinkle the leftover cinnamon-sugar on top.
  5. Bake for 50-60 minutes, but remember, if you’re using a different-sized loaf pan, be careful and keep a close eyeball on it! (from
I baked mine at 350 however it was ready to come out of the oven at about 48 minutes. This may have been because I baked mine in a silicon loaf pan. My finished product though I'm sure as tasty as the picture above, wasn't as visually appealing.

I may have put a little too much cinnamon sugar (but really how can you have too much cinnamon sugar). One of the things I love about the recipe is that the cinnamon sugar on top creates a crispyness to the crust and it is a great partner to the soft fluffy middle.

Because of the silicon bakeware (and some Pam) the bread came out of the pan very easily and looks more appetizing than in my dingy old loaf pan.

Bread was soft on the inside and cooked enough that no part was gooey (which has happened to some of my other banana bread recipes). Bread got thumbs up again from me and the hubby. I'm sure the toddler will have some for breakfast and the rest is going to work with the husband so that I am not forced to overindulge in its deliciousness. This Cinnamon Swirl Banana Bread is a huge Pinterest Win and anyone should give it a try if they have a few overly ripe bananas lying around and about 60 minutes of their hands! 

The Challenge:

   So this idea started a few weeks ago when I was at a book signing for my favorite author Jennifer Lancaster. For those of you who don't know, Jennifer Lancaster is a hilarious memorist from Chicago who writes about her life and most recently about her attempts to change and improve her life (Amazon search Such a Pretty Fat, My Fair Lazy, and Jenneration X). Jennifer's current work in progress is spending a year under the tutelage of the great Martha Stewart (at least her great cookbooks, craft guides, and all other Martha publications). I was inspired by this idea and although I would love to Martha Stewart my life, I am a working mom living in an apartment so I thought that might be aiming a bit to high. However I (and many of my closest friends) have become addicted to Pinterest. I have lost hours of my life pinning recipes, ensembles, craft ideas, etc. but for the most part have only semi-successfully recreated the items I have pinned. With summer vacation coming up and my continued efforts to improve myself, I thought why not improve myself by making the things I already have hanging around on my 12 Pinterest pinboards.

   I have created this blog to share my successes (and I can only assume failures) with all my friends (and any other random folks who want to lurk as well). My goal is to do/create/cook/try at least 3 Pinterest ideas a week and create a blog post giving the thumbs up or down and most likely some embarrassing photos along the way. My first Pinterest challenge is a Cinnamon Sugar Banana Bread. However, this recipe a slight cheat since I have already successfully made this DELICIOUS banana bread before, however because it is so good and I had bananas perfectly ripened I had to go for it. The bread is in the oven and I will post the recipe and pictures shortly. I haven't chosen my other 2 Pinterest ideas of the week but I'm sure I'll find inspiration tonight.