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Sunday, October 4, 2015

Meet the parents...

Well not really, but I invited my parents over for an early dinner...mainly because I need my mommy's help LOL. HELP MOMMMMMMM!  Plus it's nice enough in the late afternoon to have dinner on the deck.

I made dessert as soon as we got home from breakfast at IHOP and the regular BJ's shopping routine, plus stopping by the bank to deposit the $75 check I got for testing a couple of razors for 2 weeks....oh and to get cash for this week. Cash helps me stick to my "allowance" more easily...when the green bills are all is my fun!

Anywho - Peanut Butter Cup Cupcakes! Sounds delish no?

Here's the recipe.

  • 3/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 4 large Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, cut into small pieces
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin cups with paper cupcake liners. In large bowl,combine cocoa, flour, baking powder, and salt. In another bowl,cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Blend in the vanilla and then add the dry ingredients, alternating with the sour cream, beginning and ending with thedry ingredients. Gently fold in the peanut butter cup pieces.Spoon batter into cupcake liners, a little over 3/4 full. Bakefor 16-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cupcakes cool about 5 minutes; remove from pan and let cool completely. Then add the frosting…
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 2 to 2 1/2 cups powdered sugar (I used 2 cups) 
  • Mini Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, for garnish
  • 2-3 T milk (optional, see note below)
NOTE: the above ingredients make a stiffer frosting, which is what I used. If you want a creamier frosting, add 2-3 Tbsp. milk to get the consistency you want.

Cream butter and peanut butter until well blended, then gradually add in the powdered sugar and blend well. (If creamier consistency is desired, add in some milk.)
Place a scoop of frosting on each cupcake–the scoop can be however large or small you want; you will have plenty of frosting to work with. Place a mini Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup in the center of each scoop and press down slightly. Of course, when you’re done, you’ll have to taste-test one just to make sure they turned out OK! Sometimes you have to try two...just to make sure. You'd never want to serve yucky cupcakes to your guests (even if they are family) right? Don't forget to lick the beaters...

Here's my kitchen mess while making these yummy treats...I did say i'd use that fancy schmancy Kitchenaid Mixer more often right? The proof is in the cupcakes my friends!

Aside from that, I whipped up a marinade for a huge London Broil (basically, ketchup, apple cider vinegar, sugar, oil, A-1 and a couple other things). Threw that on the grill, made some sweet peas and stuffed mushrooms and a big ol' jug of sweet tea. 

Great end to the weekend nonetheless. Of course I wish tomorrow was still a day off work, but such is life....come on PowerBall!

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Next Project at the Paisley Cottage

Up next at the Paisley Cottage is new beds! Yep - plural. More than one. Years ago I fell in love with the Stratton beds from Pottery Barn.

Stratton Bed with Drawers 

Now this bed is not really new - it's basically a Captain's Bed. For whatever reason Captain's Beds come in twin and full. At least in the US. I guess if you live in the US you should have no need for under bed storage. Well - here at the Paisley Cottage we have bed risers to have MORE room to shove crap stuff we can't live without under the bed. We are also not willing to downsize to a full size bed. BTDT. Maybe it's been the downturn in the economy, maybe Americans are reassessing priorities, maybe it's just because of the most recent generation of adults - whatever the reason - Queen size storage beds are not really difficult to find now. While I am a huge fan of Pottery Barn stuff, i'm totally not a fan of Pottery Barn prices even though I can afford them. I'm working on my retirement plan baby! Save save save!

Thank you Ana White for the plans to build the Stratton bed. I had it figured out from the furniture specs in the PB catalog, but having ACTUAL plans makes things much easier. 

Mr. Paisley will begin building two of these in the very near future. One for the master bedroom and one for the guest room. We really need a new mattress and I refuse to buy one to throw it on a crummy bed frame that won't be doing it any favors. So once one is built, I will be mattress shopping! 

So with this new bed - I don't really want a comforter. I feel like the bedding should be tucked in around the edges - clearly PB has a comforter on theirs - it just seems like it would be in the way of the drawers. I thought I might switch to a coverlet or a quilt. Something less...fluffy. I found this number at The Country Door  (and at Orvis back when it was in stock in all sizes).

They call it September Dance. I call it...perfect. Funny thing...see that leaf canvas next the lamp? There's another behind the vase that you can barely see. I have that set of canvases. They're in the family room above the shelf over the TV. I bought them from Seventh Avenue (a sister catalog to The Country Door) a number of years ago. It's a sign right? Anywho...while I love the quit (it's olive green on the reverse) it is $129.99. Shams sold separately...except they had no shams in stock (they do now). Who is buying shams without the quilt?  They are $29.99 each. So for a Queen set that's $190 + shipping. I skipped it - since the shams weren't available.  Ok and because i'm cheap frugal.

I was looking at Lakeside Collection's website because there were a few things I wanted to pick up from a recent catalog. So I found those things and was ready to check out and decided I should check out the SALE section. O.M.G. I did a double take. And then I went to Pinterest to look it up in my BEDDING BOARD just to make sure I was right. It's not identical, but it is really, really close. Same fabric prints, same over all design - if you zoom in on the photos on the Orvis or Country Living sites you will see that the leaves in the large cream center square are done in multiple sizes - which I do like a little better, but i'm not sure if it's enough to pay twice the price. Also the reverse is a plain quilted ivory, rather than olive with a small leaf print.
Their stock photo isn't doing it any favors with those purple walls...
There is my bedding...and CHEAP. Like half price cheap. $39.95 for the Queen quilt and $7.95 each for the IN STOCK shams. Are you kidding?! And I get 1% back (hey...every little bit counts right?) from Mr. Rebates.  That's a whopping $55.85+ shipping (which was $19.95 but I bought nearly $100 worth of other stuff (I just put another set in my cart and it would have been $11.95 for just the quilt and shams to be shipped).  Woo hoo! 

Here it is on my current bed...

My cell phone and the overhead light in the bedroom are also not doing it any favors LOL It's not mauve. I promise :-)

Saturday, August 2, 2014

DIY Gift Bags

This morning I needed to wrap a few gifts for Miss Georgia's 3rd birthday. I bought her a light pink hair bow with a G monogrammed in chocolate brown on one of the ribbon tails - I wanted to clip it onto one of the packages as the bow for that gift. So of course I *HAD* to have pink and brown paper. I was sure I had a light pink gift bag...apparently not. I did have pink and brown paper though! Off to Pinterest...where I found THIS tutorial on making your own gift bags. I used it as my jumping off point.

This is the pink and brown paper I had on hand - I picked up a few rolls at Dollar Tree quite some time ago because I loved it the minute I saw it. Plus it's craft paper so it's heavy duty (and word to the wise, it requires GOOD tape).

From there I just sort of guessed as to how much to cut off.  Of course this morning I was rushing to do it last minute and didn't think to take photos. So...because I want to SHOW you how I altered the above directions, i'm making another bag...only it's going to be a small one. It all works the same.

  • Paper - wrapping paper, newspaper, butcher paper....whatever, as long as it's large enough for the bag you want to make
  • Scissors
  • Tape (type will depend on the paper you're using, but I used a combo of packing tape, colored duct tape and double sided sticky tape)
  • Hole punch
  • Ribbon (string, tulle, rope, twine, yarn, left over fabric strips, shoe laces...)
  • Paperboard (cereal box, cracker box, frozen meal box, that one random top/bottom of a box in your Christmas wrapping supplies)
  • Bone folder (or if you're like me and didn't have it handy, just use a Sharpie on it's side)

Step 1 - Cut the piece of paper to the size you want - I would suggest adding at least two inches for folding. Try to keep it straight.

Step 2 -  Fold over the edge that will be your top - about an inch. Now fold it over again. Make your creases nice and sharp with that bone folder.  

  Step 3 - Now unfold it.

Step 4 - Cut two strips from your paperboard box - they should be a smidge smaller than the height of your fold. The length will need to be an inch or so longer than however far apart the handles will be - this will vary depending on the size of the bag you're making.

Step 5 - Put the strips on your fold and fold them in (feel free to secure with tape, glue, glue dots, etc.) - then tape the edge. If you have plenty of time, you can certainly use regular or hot glue or something like scrapbook adhesive. 

Step 6 - Bring your sides together, overlap and tape on the inside. I like my edges sharp and neat, so I folded the edge that would be on the outside...creased with the bone folder. 
 overlap and tape
 creasing my outside edge (prior to above)
 When working with a long piece of tape for the "overlap and tape" step, I found it easiest to do it this way - while the paper is flat, put the tape on the edge that will be the inside and secure it, peel the sticky part off your work surface, loop the paper over, then tuck under the tape (try not to let it get stuck), line it up then press the tape down from the inside.  *this is a lot easier if you make your side creases so you know where you can sort of 'flatten' the bag, then use hot glue or an adhesive runner from the OUTSIDE where you can see what you're and learn.

Step 7 - Make the bottom of the bag!  This is a lot like the process of gift wrapping the ends of a box. Fold 2-3" of paper up. Pull the bottom piece down and then fold the ends in to make triangles. Now overlap the top and bottom and tape it up.  You now have a bag that will stand up by itself.

Step 8 - Punch 2 holes in each of the long sides at the top for your bag handles. 

  Step 9 - Cut bag handles to length, thread thru the holes and either tie together or knot the ends.

Voila! Gift bags that match your wrapping paper.

Come back for round two - because I just made this whole process a WHOLE LOT easier in my head.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

'Tis this season!

'Tis the season for holiday shopping!

If you're like me, you do the majority of it online. Aside from saving time, gas, and sanity - no circling parking lots trying to find ANY place to park, no being stuck in people jams because everyone is oblivious to the fact they're blocking the walkways, no mall traffic, no long lines and best of all, less opportunity for being electronically pick-pocketed, you also have the potential to actually MAKE some money WHILE you buy online!

Here are my some of my favorite ways to make and save money while shopping online:

EbatesThis year, Ebates seems to have higher percentages back than last year.  Here's how it works - click the link I posted. Register. Once registered, find your store or product on the Ebates website, click the link and shop! Shortly after your purchase is complete you'll get an email from Ebates telling you how much money was credited to your account. Easy peasy - they will automatically send you a check or make a deposit to your Paypal account - whichever you set up when you register.

Above is the banner you'll see once you're logged in - if you want to search for the store or item, type it in the box to the right (see blue arrow above)

 If you want to see what stores are participating, directly below the Ebates logo in the banner you will find a drop down box that lists the retailers in alphabetical order, click and go!

Mr. Rebates is my other go-to site for instant rebates.  It works the same way as Ebates does, but has a little different layout. 

Directly below the Mr. Rebates logo, you will see a search box. Below it are two options - Stores or Products. It defaults to stores. If you want to search for a specific product, click the bubble for Products before your type in your search term.  Both sites tell you the % of the rebate you will receive.  Mr. Rebates doesn't automatically pay you, but they do email a reminder to request your check just before they cut the checks. All you have to do is log in, go to My Account and click on Request Check. You can also hover over My Account and choose Request Check. Quick and easy! 

Both sites also tend to have coupon or promo codes listed (I find Mr. Rebates tends to have more listed) so you can save even more while shopping online. Also good to know - these two sites frequently have different rebate percentages for the same store. So I always check both before I make my purchase and use the one giving me more money back! No brainer right? Right. 

Retail Me Not - always check here for coupon and promo codes no matter where you order online (seriously...I NEVER pay full price when Mr. P and I order pizza - yes, they even have promo codes for internet pizza ordering). Now this site doesn't pay you to shop, it just helps save a few bucks. Those bucks add up. Why pay full price if you don't have to? 

The above screenshot shows a couple of the stores that are currently rotating thru the main page banner right now and some of the deals available. No account necessary to use this site, but if you choose to register and you mark codes as good (thumbs up / thumbs down next to the code) and choose to enter your savings amount it will keep track for you and who doesn't like to see how much they've saved over a year? Again - not required.  When you go to just type in the name of the store to the right of the Retail Me Not logo and scroll thru the codes that come up. 

Don't forget to use these in combination with Mr. Rebates and Ebates to get the most bang for your buck this holiday season...and all year long!  Check back with them every time you shop online because stores come and go and sometimes they have special promos - for example on Black Friday I scored rebates shopping on - which normally isn't participating. So in addition to free shipping (I have an Amazon Prime account - which I highly recommend if you are a big online shopper, but not just for that reason, perks for Kindle users, streaming movies, etc - good stuff - it's between $70-$80 a year - worth it just for the free 2 day shipping!) I got a little cash back for picking up a couple of good deals on Christmas gifts.

Happy Holidays!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

More Pinterest Cooking!

Here are a couple more recipes from my Pinterest files that we've whipped up here at the Paisley Cottage as of late.

The World's Best Chicken

I don't know if it's the World's Best - I still find marinating in plain old Italian Dressing or Spiedie Sauce to be my favorites - but it's easy and it's good.

World's Best Chicken 

We call it Maple Dijon's more accurate.

The World’s Best Chicken Serves 4
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 cup Dijon mustard
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
Salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a small bowl, mix together mustard, syrup, and vinegar.

Place chicken breasts into 9×13 greased baking dish. Season with salt & lots of pepper. Pour mustard mixture over chicken. Make sure each breast is coated. Bake for about 30-40 minutes, or until meat thermometer reads 165 degrees. Exactly how long you should leave it in is based on personal preference and your oven.  Season with chopped rosemary. And prepare for people to ask you to make it again!
PS: To make this in the slow cooker, combine all ingredients and cook on low for 3-4 hours.

I used fresh rosemary from our garden and sauteed some green beans (also from the garden) and whipped up some mashed potatoes to go with this and it was a great meal. Now there's no need to marinate this, but as things usually go here at the Cottage, we marinated. Mr. Paisley was just whipping up the mustard mixture when I got home from work and tossed in the monkey wrench "I need to go to Smokey Bones and get my camera from Adam". Adam is a friend of mine who used to work with me, but got laid off. He had my new IP camera that I couldn't get to work - turns out, the camera is bad. Anyway - there were $10/$20 coupons in the paper from the weekend, so we finished up the chicken and tossed it in the fridge for the next night and I ended up getting my camera and having a lovely Cuban Sandwich with broccoli for dinner. Smokey Bones does a fantastic Cuban. 

Balsamic Flank Steak

Balsamic Flank Steak 

Well...this was just ok. I've never bought a flank steak before - though it is my favorite cut at Texas de Brazil. They happened to have one package of flank steak out when I popped into BJ's, so I snapped it up and we made this and cooked it on the Grill Dome. The edges are really good...the middle has no flavor.

Now part of that may be because I didn't realize the flank steak was rolled up (?!) The first time Mr. Paisley went to check on it after throwing it on the grill he said it had started to unroll. So maybe it just didn't get marinated well. I plan to give it another shot, but i'll just buy a London Broil (which apparently, is part of a flank steak...). I'll also use my Food Saver marinating dish.  This one we served with broccoli.

Balsamic flank steak
¼ c. balsamic vinegar
1 T. Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp. dark brown sugar
1 garlic clove, minced
1 lb. flank steak
salt and pepper

Combine first four ingredients in a large ziplock bag. Add steak, turn to coat; marinate for 30 minutes at room temperature. Grill until desired doneness. Let stand, covered loosely with foil for 10 minutes, before cutting in thin strips against the grain.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Rockin' the Pinterest Recipes

Yes we are! I have finally being making a point of going to my assorted "food" boards on Pinterest to try some of the recipes I pin. 

Today we had a family celebration for a couple of birthdays and had reservations for brunch (which ended up being lunch) at the Rainforest Cafe at Downtown Disney. They have pretty good food, but it comes with Disney prices. 3 burgers, 2 coconut shrimp entrees, a veggie pasta dish and a kid's spaghetti plus drinks and a $16 chocolate volcano "cake and ice cream" was just over $200. At least the parking was free.

At any rate, mid afternoon rolls around and my 6 coconut shrimp and green beans have left me starving. Wednesday I picked up some Boar's Head ham and King's Hawaiian rolls to make Hawaiian Ham & Cheese Sandwiches. The recipe can be found HERE at Pip & Ebby along with a ton of other good stuff.

Being the bad blogger starving person that I was...there are no photos. Rest assured, they more or less resembled the lovely photos on the recipe site.

My review? A little time consuming to slice the rolls and difficult not to squash them flat. I used dijon mustard because I don't like yellow mustard. None of the mustard flavor comes thru in the final product so if I make them again i'll just use the yellow mustard. They are crazy rich. I think I could cut back on the butter. 

Mr. Paisley's review?  "Tasty!" and he doesn't like ham. Go figure.

I *LOVE* King's Hawaiian bread of any type, but I think i'll just use it plain to make cold sliders...unless the hubs actually requests these. 

Saturday, September 7, 2013

This morning I made Lokshen Kugel

Loksehn Kugel you say?  Yes. I say.

One of my co-workers came in  yesterday and was talking about a bunch of food that her neighbor brought over to her before work. Apparently leftovers from Thursday's Rosh Hashanah meal. She went on and on about this noodle pudding dish. I  suggested it was kugel and she was sure it wasn't. So on my break I googled some kugel recipes and came across this one at The Shiksa in the Kitchen

I sent it to her and she said "yes yes - that's exactly what it looked like!" Go figure...kugel, just like I said.

So I decided I would whip this one up this morning. My house smells AHHHH-mazing because of the cinnamon sugar topping. Too bad it doesn't FEEL like fall outside here in Central Florida - it sure smells like it in here!

Oh dear...someone couldn't wait long enough to take a photo.


This is a great base recipe and in the comments on the recipe page there are several additions and tweaks and I fully intend to try at least a couple of them.

This is a VERY rich dish. Woo boy! It's very good and heavy. I think I'll try to lighten it up next time with low fat sour cream and fat free cream cheese while I add that crushed pineapple someone mentioned (yum!). 

I've also decided it may be time to retire my vintage Oster blender. It works like a champ, but more often than not I end up having to split up my ingredients that need to be blended because the pitcher is just too small. Including this one - 6 eggs, 1 brick of cream cheese, half a stick of melted butter, 2 cups of sour cream and a cup of cottage cheese...that filled up the blender TO.THE.TOP. and I still needed to add the sugar and salt LOL. Yeah, no...I ended up blending what was in there and dumping it all in the Kitchen-Aid mixer. It worked...just left me more dishes to wash!

Anywho - I gather this is a traditional dish served at various Jewish holiday meals or events. I'm not Jewish. I've never had kugel before, though I've heard friends speak of it. So I thought I'd break out of my cooking rut and make something new.

Glad I did!