Saturday, July 26, 2014

Homemade Lemon Sorbet

My friend, Inez, has a lemon tree.
As soon as I found out, I instantly asked her for some lemons.
I didn't have any plans for said lemons, 
but I love using them in recipes and lemons aren't cheap!

Shortly after asking for the lemons,
Inez had a bag of lemons picked and ready for me.
I didn't just get a few lemons either.
No, I got a DOZEN lemons!

Now that I had tons of lemons,
I needed to figure out what I wanted to make with them.
After very little thought and some research, I decided on:

I was already salivating for the tart, yet refreshing treat and got to work making it!

The Goods:
2 1/4 Cups Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice
1 1/2 Tablespoons Lemon Zest
3 Cups Water
3 Cups Granulated Sugar
Ice Cream Machine (Not Pictured)

But first...
it was time to juice said lemons.

Before I go further, I have to say that while making the sorbet, 
I also did a little lemon juice comparison.
Because I wanted to, I could and so I did!

I had two store bought lemons before I got the dozen from Inez.
After seeing the home grown lemons, I was in shock. 
They were so BIG and I was betting they'd be a lot more juicy too.

I took the two store bough lemons, juiced them and I had 1/2 a cup.
I then took two similar sized home grown lemons, juiced those and I had 3/4 of a cup.
The home grown lemons yielded 50% more juice!!!
So my suspicions were right! 

Now back to the sorbet making...

Juice and zest your lemons.

Combine the lemon juice and lemon zest
with the simple syrup you already made.

Pour your mixture into the ice cream maker
and let the machine do it's job.
It will take 20 to 30 minutes until done.
Your sorbet will be very soft.

Transfer to an airtight container and freeze for at least 2 hours.

Remove from freezer about 5 minutes before serving.
Eat and enjoy!!!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Influenster Surfs Up VoxBox

What's Influenster?
Influenster is a community of trendsetters, social media aficionados and educated consumers who like to give their honest opinions of products and experiences. 
For more info - go here!

What's a VoxBox?
VoxBoxes are boxes filled with complimentary goodies from your favorite brands!
Again, for more info - go here!

And more importantly how do YOU get one?!?
Select Infuenster users receive FREE themed products based on information provided, social media activity, demographics, badge activity, and sometimes just plain ol' luck.
Once again, for more info - go here!

Keep reading and see what I got to review in my VERY FIRST VOXBOX!!!

My VoxBox Goods:
First Aid Shot Therapy: $2.99
Hawaiian Tropic Silk Hydration After Sun: $2.99-$8.99
Jamba Juice Smoothie Kit: $2.99-$3.49
CoverGirl Bombshell Curvaceous by LashBlast Mascara: $9.49-$11.99
SinfulColors Professional Nail Polish - Aqua: $1.99

I received all of the above products FREE from Influenster for review purposes.

First Aid Shot Therapy
This is the ONLY thing I have yet to try.
And I'll be honest - I'm a little scared.
It looks pretty, but I'm not too sure about a pain relief shot 
used to cure headaches/migraines, sore muscles, back pains and hangover headaches.

CoverGirl Bombshell Curvaceous by LashBlast Mascara
I'm always a fan of trying new mascaras, 
but I almost always go back to my old favorites.
I was intrigued by the design and couldn't wait to give it a try.

Left - No Mascara, Right - LashBlast Mascara

Top - No Mascara, Bottom - LashBlast Mascara

As you can tell, the mascara did do a lot for my lashes.
I really liked the end result, but I felt like it was kind of a process.
I wouldn't use this everyday, 
but will keep it around for occasions I can spend more time applying. 

Hawaiian Tropic Silk Hydration After Sun
Out of all my goodies, I was most excited to try this!
Being so fair skinned, I tend to stay out of the sun, 
but couldn't wait to use this after a fun Summer adventure.

It's a different consistency than normal lotion and not greasy at all.
It soaks right in, but has a slight sticky feeling for a little - less than 30 seconds.
I really like this and am glad it came in my VoxBox!

Jamba Juice Smoothie Kit
I chose to review the Caribbean Passion flavor.
I didn't read the back, so I didn't realize I also needed to buy Apple Juice, 
which was needed to make the smoothie.
Thank goodness for vending machines in my apartment complex!

The Kit AKA Frozen Fruit and Apple Juice.

Add the goods and blend!

Now time to taste!!!

It was quite good I must say.
While it did remind me of a smoothie I'd had from Jamba Juice in the past,
I was a little disappointed I had to purchase the juice in order to make it though.

SinfulColors Professional Nail Polish
I love the color aqua.
And I love wearing it on my toes.
But this shade was a little too irridescent for me.
If I'm being honest - I think the color 
would be much better for someone a little younger.
(Did I really just say that?!?!)

Color aside, I was a little sad with the quality.
It didn't chip, but did start to rub off the tips of my toenails
in a little over a week's time.

I hope you enjoyed reading my reviews!
As a reminder, I was given everything free to try, 
but every opinion is 100% my own.

And leet's hope I have another VoxBox coming my way soon!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Baked Ziti

I could have SWORN I've posted about Baked Ziti before!
But when I went to find the post for a friend,
it wasn't there!!!

I was shocked!
I've made this recipe FOREVER.
And even though I call it Baked Ziti, 
I don't think I've ever used real Ziti pasta.
I mix it up, but tend to use Rotini most often.

Now, let me show you how to make Baked Ziti,
or Baked Rotini, or whatever you wanna call it!

The Goods:
1 Box Pasta - Ziti, Rotini, Rigatoni, WHATEVER your little heart desires!
1 1/2 Cups Pasta Sauce - I use jarred Marinara, but you can always make your own.
7 1/2 Ounces Ricotta Cheese - I prefer to use Part Skim.
1 1/2 Cups Shredded Mozzarella Cheese - Again, I like to use Part Skim. 
1/4 to 1/2 Cup Parmesan Cheese - Fresh is best, but canned is ok if that's all you have!
1 to 2 Cloves Garlic - TOTALLY optional. I used to use it, but haven't the last few time.

Cook your pasta until al dente, which is usually about 5 minutes.
Don't worry - your pasta will cook a lil more when it bakes!
Once cooked, drain pasta and return to the pot you cooked it in.

Add almost all the cheese (reserve a little Mozzarella and Parmesan)
and mix it all up until pretty well combined.
If you're using garlic, add that too!

Now here come the fun part...

Time to layer your pasta!
Start with a layer of sauce and then add about half your pasta mixture.
Do another layer of sauce and add the rest of your pasta.
Add one more layer of sauce and your reserved cheese.

Now you can either bake the Ziti, or Rotini, or whatever you're using...

OR you can freeze it to use at a later date like I did!

I actually DOUBLED the recipe.
I not only made one to bake right away and eat,
 but I also made one to freeze and bake at a later date!

Whenever you decided to bake your pasta, 
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and bake for 35 to 45 minutes.
You want the cheese on top to fully melt and get a little color.

Before I go, one last quick tip!
I usually move the pasta from the freezer to the fridge 
the night before I want to bake it so it has time to defrost.
If you forget to do so, you'll just want to bake your pasta longer!

Everything Cookies

A few weeks ago, I got a hankering to make some homemade cookies.
While I love making simple chocolate chip or oatmeal raisin cookies, 
I knew I wanted to do something just a little different!

So what exactly did I do different?
I decided to use oatmeal, raisins, chocolate chips and 
pretty much everything else but the kitchen sink!

Hence me deciding they needed to be called:

These cookies are so simple to make.
And if you have a stand mixer like I do, 
the mixer does all the work!

Take a look below at how to make these easy, yet delicious cookies!

The Goods:
8 oz (2 sticks) Butter, Softened
1 1/4 cup Brown Sugar, Packed
3/4 cup Granulated Sugar
2 teaspoons Vanilla
2 Eggs
1 1/2 cup All-Purpose Flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups Old Fashioned Oats
1/2 cup Chocolate Chips
1/2 cup Raisins
1/2 cup Shredded Coconut
1/2 cup Toffee Bits

Before I go any further - I have to apologize.
I got really into making these cookies 
and FORGOT to take step by step pictures.
I'm sorry, I know I was a BAD blogger again. 

Since there aren't step by step pictures,
Follow the steps below to make these yummy cookies:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Beat butter, sugars, and vanilla until creamy.
Mix in eggs until light and fluffy.
Add flour, baking soda and salt until blended.
Stir in your oats and all your goodies!

Form dough into balls (I used a 35 mm scooper)
and place 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake 10 to 12 minutes, until edges are starting to brown.
Centers should be still quite soft - this will keep them super chewy!

Cool on cookie sheet about a minute, 
then remove to wire rack until completely cool.

I took these AMAZING cookies to work the day after making them.
There were about 60 or so cookies in my office kitchen in the morning 
and EVERY SINGLE ONE was devoured before lunch time!
These babies were just that good.

I will, without a doubt, be making them again.
But now it's YOUR turn to do so.
Go make them and see how good they really are!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

4th of July: Friends, Food, Fireworks & Fun!!

Hope you all had a GREAT 4th of July!

This year, I had a very relaxed holiday hanging out with friends,
eating lots of amazing food and of course watching fireworks!

Check out my fun day in a few pictures below!!

Getting ready for the feast on the 4th!

I got in the spirit with a little red, white and blue!

My contributions to our feast!
Homemade soft pretzels and dip, farm fresh corn, watermelon, 
red white & blue rice krispy treats AND cheesecake stuffed strawberries!!!
Not pictured - chips and dip, homemade pasta salad, smoked ribs and chicken.
Wow - it was all so so so good, but let's just say I am STILL full!

 Fireworks, fireworks and MORE fireworks!!!
I was like a child and couldn't stop saying "WOW!"

And this little guy made the holiday extra fun!!!