Sinfully Sweet

Holiday Weekend Gone to Heck in an Easter Basket!

Here is my wardrobe for the weekend:

Sparkles & Dots

Now before you start wondering if I go to an oddly formal/cocktail attire only church for Easter Vigil (I mean, Mass does start at 9pm, why not?) the orange polka-dot dress is my Easter frock of choice this year.

Oh no, I’m spending my Good Friday Evening chaperoning the 2012 Jr/Sr Prom. Heaven Help ME. (I’m actually really excited about this to be honest. I LOVE this group of seniors and can’t wait to embarrass them all night with my nerdy science dancing.)

Actually, I’ve had a wonderful Good Friday thus far. I’m so lucky that my school district honors Good Friday as a holiday, which saves me from taking it as a personal day. It is my family tradition to go to Stations of the Cross at noon (I’m Catholic, if you didn’t know that already) and then a light wine and cheese meal at The Wine & Cheese Gallery (wow, how appropriate- wine & cheese at a place with “wine & cheese” in their name.) This year’s Stations of the Cross was one of the most moving experiences I have ever had, in or out of the church setting. So, it’s only fitting that I’m going to meditate on those thoughts for a bit longer and write up a whole post on that later.

Easter Dinner Menu

For those of you who have been “hanging around” with this Gal for a while (either in real life or weblife) you know that Easter Dinner is always a battle in my house. Last year we had to pull the chicken enchilada compromise out to make it dinner without attacking each other with the silver flatware.

Things this year have come together a bit more smoothly. Mostly because I didn’t even try to suggest lamb. Secondly because Mum and I wrote the menu on our 12 hour drive home from VA during spring break. I actually suggested a stuffed flounder, kind of Florentine style with crab meat, Parmesan and spinach. Sadly, flounder isn’t readily available in the ‘ville and since I’m really trying to focus on local, seasonal goods shipping it in wasn’t an opinion I wanted to go with. Mom & Dad had a pork loin in the freezer just waiting to be cut into chops, (please don’t make me think about where that piggy came from…might be worse than ordering the fish!) so here is what we came up with:

Mixed Green Salad (or Fruit Salad-my grandmother is contributing this part of the meal, so she decides)

Spinach, Mushroom and Feta Stuffed Pork Chops, inspired by this Culinary Disaster recipe
Kale Mashed Potatoes, aka Colcannon, inspired by this Parsley Thief recipe
Fresh Green Bean Casserole, based on the classic French’s French Fried Onions recipe

Guinness Cheesecake for dessert, using this recipe from Closet Cooking

I can’t wait to get cooking and tasting! For now it’s time to go “beautify” myself for prom. Ack.

“See you” on the flipside of this beautiful holiday weekend.

Happy Easter, everyone!

Love to all,
~the dancing little Easter Bunny gal, Jess

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Categories: Celebrate Good Times-Come On, Hey Teacher (Wo)Man, Sinfully Sweet, Waz Sup(er) | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Keeping It Real: Holiday Edition

Only during the “holidays” would I be up at 4:30am making cookie dough dip for my school of employment’s “3 days of Christmas Cheer”

But let’s keep it real here:

Cookie Dough Dip? Get real, Jess! This “snack” is just another excuse to eat cream cheese icing with chocolate chips on gram crackers.

And 4:30am? Don’t try to pull the martyr card. This is your fault, princess. Because this gal? She fell asleep on the couch last night, laptop precariously balanced on chest at 9:30pm (after getting home from three hours of elementary science fair judging-be still my heart-not) and didn’t wake up again until 1:30am. Who cares if the cream cheese and butter sat out on the counter all night…the recipe said “softened.” And trust me, it was real soft this morning.

Health hazard? Goodness no, I’m just keeping it real!

Love to all,
~the, “do I look like a happy holiday elf to you?” gal, Jess

PS. Don’t answer that question in my signature. Also, be glad I decided to spare you the picture of myself making said cookie dough dip this morning. I want to keep it real around here, not scar you for life!

Categories: Rad n' Random, Sinfully Sweet, Snackage | Leave a comment

A slightly different take on T-Day

Anyone who spends time with this gal (either in real life, or “imaginary”) knows I’m not a fan of Thanksgiving. You know the drill: family obligations, boring food “traditions”, blah, blah, blah.

But this year, by escaping to my mother’s best friend’s house we got out of the family bit, and I decided to (slightly) shake up the menu.

For dinner, I contributed the “green” side-dish, which I based on a Catalan recipe for fruited spinach.

I did sub pecans for pine nuts, because that’s what I had on hand. (or as the real story goes I forgot to buy pine nuts during my shopping trip)

This was an incredibly easy dish to throw together. Saute the apples and shallots until tender, then add the rehydrated raisins and chopped, toasted, pecans. 

Deglaze the pan with a splash of sherry, plus the juice of 1 lemon, and add 1lb of fresh spinach. Remove from the heat as soon as the greens start to wilt. Garnish with lemon zest and serve immediately!

Pretty, no? Nothing like bringing a touch of Spanish flare to the hum-drum pilgrim feast.

Speaking of hum-drum? Let’s talk about the fact that I’ve been making the same “Libby’s Classic” pumpkin pie since I was 9 years old. (and let’s NOT do the math on that one, ok?) This year I took a page out of one of my co-worker’s books, errr cookbooks, and made Pumpkin Pie Cake instead.

I know, I know, this doesn’t sound like that big of a stretch, but trust me, this pie/cake/hybrid is even tastier than the classic and oh so easy to make!

First, make a standard pumpkin pie filling:

1 12oz can pumpkin
1 12oz can evaporated milk
1 cup of sugar
3 eggs
1 tbsp “pumpkin pie spice” (or if you are like me, generous dashes of cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and ginger, because who actually finishes a container of pre-mixed pie spice? Keep the real stuff around, friends)

Add the hand blended pie “filling” to a 9 x 13″ baking dish.

Top the filling with 1 box of (dry) yellow cake mix. No really, it sounds weird, but sprinkle-sprinkle to your little inner fairy godmother’s contentment.

Then ditch the fairy godmother act and channel your inner southern grandmother this time, by scattering 1 cup of chopped pecans over the cake mix and then drizzling 1 stick of melted butter over the whole mess.

Bake for 60 minutes at 350 degrees F.

The finished product isn’t pretty, nor is it healthy per say, but it is damn tasty.

And really, isn’t that how all Thanksgiving dinners could be described? Family gatherings and rich foods only come around a few times a year, and while they aren’t all that “healthy” I am thankful for every tasty moment.

Love to all,
~the little “turkey bird” gal, Jess

Categories: Celebrate Good Times-Come On, Sinfully Sweet | Leave a comment

Frighteningly Good Harvest Brownies

Boo!

If you need some back up for all that bagged candy, waiting longingly for the trick-or-treaters to arrive tomorrow evening brownies are always a good choice.

But brownies sneakily laced with pumpkin? Now that is a trick that is actually a delicious treat!

And if pumpkin brownies couldn’t get any better, these are totally fool proof and nearly prep free.
You will need:
      1 box of your favorite brownie mix
      1 egg
      ~16oz of pumpkin puree 
And then:
      Mixie-mixie it all together and bake according to the instructions on the brownie box. 
      Cut and top with whipped cream

Happy Halloween!

Love to all,
~the little pumpkin goblin gal, Jess

PS. This is the first time in years that I haven’t had a full blown, costumed to the nine’s Halloween. But no worries, I got plenty of costume time in during homecoming week. Enjoy a few shots with my students.

Wacky Tacky Tourist Day
(I’m on the far left of the frame)

Airport Security/Neon Day
(I was the only one who really went with the “security” bit, but I loved my costume as an air traffic controller!)
Categories: Celebrate Good Times-Come On, Hey Teacher (Wo)Man, Sinfully Sweet | Leave a comment

My favorite (simple) classic….

….for dessert.

Cubed parmesan reggiano and 85% Green & Black’s organic chocolate
Simple, understated, but bursting with flavors. Enjoy with a cup of tea and call it a night.
Sweet cheesy-chocolatey dreams, my friends.
Love to all,
~the “sometimes simple is all you need” gal, Jess
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If you didn’t get enough sugar on Easter…

…here’s a way to choose your second (six hundredth?) helping of the sweet stuff.

Honesty time: I stole this off my “sister in law’s” (my “adoptive” brother’s-we grew up together-wife) facebook and posted it because I am doing a research project on PKU right now. Ahh, life and work connections…ain’t they grand?

Love to all,
~the “you can call me sugar and you can call me honey just don’t call me late to dessert” gal,  Jess

Categories: Rad n' Random, Sinfully Sweet | Leave a comment

Tis the Season….

….to do lots of baking!

Treats for my co workers…..

aka, Momma Pea’s Peanut Butter Cookie Dough Balls.  These are as good as everyone raves. Make them. STAT.

And the annual family marathon baking project of making cardamom bread.

Before.
PS. My wonderful Momma prepped the ingredients for their “photo-op” without me even suggesting it! What a great blog-Mom!

 After.

For step by step instructions for making this amazing yeast bread, check out my guide for making your own from (posted December 2009).

Love to all,
~the flour dusted gal, Jess

Categories: Celebrate Good Times-Come On, Sinfully Sweet | Leave a comment

Dancing with Dessert….

Hi all and Happy Monday,

I’m coming to you LIVE from my living room….and since it is Monday I’m watching Dancing with the Stars- it’s the final night of competition and even though my girl Johanna is out now I’m still rooting for Mya and Kelly!

But what better to accompany an evening of dancing than with a delicious dessert.


Publix Premium Pumpkin Pie Ice Cream (it’s a toughie, but I think I may enjoy seasonal ice cream even more than seasonal beer…that is a big maybe!) with a cup of peppermint tea.

So good, soooo good.

Hope you are all having a great Monday evening. I’m super pumped for tomorrow, because Tuesday is the New Friday at your local friendly high school, well on the Week of Thanksgiving it is anyways….oh and I’m going to see New Moon too! Team Jacob all the way, Baby!

Love to all,
~A ready for all things “new”, Jess

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