Sunday, November 20, 2011

Gingerbread Eggnog Trifle

Gingerbread Eggnog Trifle
(adapted from

1 (14.5 ounce) package gingerbread cake mix
3 cups eggnog
1 (5.1 ounce) package instant vanilla pudding mix
2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup white sugar
2 teaspoons burbon

Prepare gingerbread cake mix and bake according to package directions (any size pan). Cool completely.
Place the pudding mix in a large bowl. Pour in the eggnog and whisk for about 2 minutes. Refrigerate pudding until the gingerbread cake is cool and you are ready to assemble the trifle.
In a large bowl, whip cream until stiff peaks are just about to form. Beat in sugar and burbon until peaks form.
Crumble 1/2 of the gingerbread into the bottom of a trifle bowl or a large glass bowl. Spread 1/2 of the eggnog pudding over the gingerbread, then spread 1/2 of the whipped cream on top of the pudding. Repeat the layers with the remaining gingerbread, pudding, and whipped cream.
Refrigerate 6 hours or overnight.
Sprinkle the top with some crumbled up gingerbread, ginger snaps, or a sprinkle of pumpkin pie spice.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Lemon Orzo Chicken Soup

There's something about fall that drives me to want to eat soup every single day. This Lemon Orzo Chicken Soup was the perfect solution to my soup obsession... it seems like a traditional chicken soup but the addition of lemon really brightens up the dish.

The original recipe called for the use of boxed chicken stock but I had bone-in chicken available so I decided to make my own. If you want to go the boxed stock route, I'd suggest doing a 70/30 split of stock to water so it's not overwhelmingly salty. You can then bring that stock to a boil, add in boneless chicken alongside the aromatics, let it boil until the chicken is cooked, then complete the recipe as is.

However you choose to cook it up, I promise this will be a staple in your recipe box for years to come.

Enjoy :)

Lemon Orzo Chicken Soup

7 quart stock pot filled with 5 quarts water (I used my 7.25 quart Le Creuset dutch oven and eye balled the water).
2 pounds bone-in chicken breasts
3 medium carrots, peeled and cut into small pieces
3 medium celery stalk, sliced
1/2 cup finely chopped shallot
1/2 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
3 close of garlic, chopped
1 box frozen spinach
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 cup orzo
Juice of 2 lemons

Bring pot of water to a rapid boil. Add bone-in chicken breasts, carrots, celery, shallot, parsley, and garlic. Boil on medium-high for 30 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.
Remove chicken from stock pot and allow to cool. Remove meat from the bones and return to the pot of stock. Add spinach and lemon juice and return to a boil.
Add orzo and cook until al dente. Serve with crusty bread.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Red Velvet Cheesecake Brownies

Yes, you read that title correctly. Red Velvet Cheesecake Brownies... there is such a thing and let me tell you, my life is better just by knowing in exists.

By combing creamy cheesecake with the dense, chocolate laced red velvet cake, we have a match made in heaven in these brownies. Be warned, I can't guarantee you won't want to eat the entire pan yourself so make sure you decide to make these when you have some sort of soiree to attend. Party guests will thank you for bringing them and your jeans will thank you for not eating the whole pan.


Red Velvet Cheesecake Brownies
(adapted from: Baking Bites)

1 cup butter
4-oz dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 cup sugar
4 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
5 tsp red food coloring
1 1/3 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt

16-oz cream cheese, room temperature
2/3 cup sugar
2 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350F. Line an 13x9 square baking pan with aluminum foil and lightly grease.
In a small, heatproof bowl, melt butter and chocolate together. Stir with a fork until very smooth. Set aside to cool for a few minutes.
In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, eggs, vanilla extract and red food coloring. Add in the chocolate mixture and stir until smooth. Add flour and salt into the bowl and stir until everything is just combined and no streaks of dry ingredients remain.
Pour into prepared pan and spread into an even layer.
Prepare cheesecake mixture. In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar, egg and vanilla extract until smooth. Drop in dollops onto prepared brownie batter. Gently swirl two batters with a butter knife.
Bake for 35-40 minutes, until brownies and cheesecake are set. A knife inserted into the cheesecake mixture should come out clean and the edges will be lightly browned.
Cool in the pan completely before slicing and serving, either at room temperature or chilled.
Brownies can be refrigerated, covered, for several days.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Fall In Love


If you know me, you know I love fall. I'm border line obsessed with it. The decor, the attire, the food, the crisp weather... all of it. I wish it were fall all. year. long.

So when I spotted this link up on Big City Bell's blog, I knew I had to play... my attention today is going to be on Fall Decor since with our new house on the horizon, it's all I can seem to think about!

I love these preppy monogram pumpkins... I think two on our front steps, one for moi and one for Mr. TL would be sweet!

These metallic pumpkins have stolen my heart too! They would transition nicely into late November too!

Lord knows I love a nice hurricane vase filled with some sort of pebble and topped with a candle... so why not use yummy candy corn for a festive October look?

And although it doesn't seem to overtly be decor related, I love B&BW soaps and their fall scents are pure perfection!

Don't forget to go link up and share your fall lovelies on Big City Belle's blog!

I'm more than just a one trick pony!

Helloooo followers!

Let me apologize for my lack o bloggin' in the recent weeks. I promise there is more to me than just a yummy recipe here and there! Things this time of year are cray-cray with our photography business (yay) but on top of that... we're BUYING A HOUSE. Gah! It's so very surreal... I probably won't believe it until closing day and we have keys in our hands! Here she is...

Be prepared to be inundated with tons and tons of DIY home projects as Mr. TL & I have grand plans to transform our new house into a new HOME.

If you want a sneak peek at the plans, visit my Pinterest site for all things home related: Pinterest is Love.

Get excited, people!! :)

Tequila Marinated London Broil

Mr. TL is a lover of all things red meat. I, on the other hand, could survive easily without ever eating red meat again. But, since I'm an awesome wife, I throw my hubby a bone here and there and make him a juicy steak. This past week I whipped up a quick marinade with yummy ingredients I had in the house that I thought would work well together... tequila, garlic, soy, fresh jalapeno, brown sugar? Yes please! The result was a tangy and sneaky spicy piece of steak that hit the spot for Mr. TL and didn't have me running for the white meat hills.


Tequila Marinated London Broil

1 jalapeno pepper, seeded
2 cloves garlic
1 cup tequila
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup sesame oil
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 pounds London broil

In a food processor, combine all ingredients except London broil. Process until smooth. Place London broil in a non-reactive container and pour marinade over top, turning it to coat. Refrigerate for at least 4 to 6 hours before cooking. (Note: I let mine marinate overnight and the result was a super juicy steak!).

Preheat grill to high and cook 5 minutes per side for a med-rare piece.

Let steak rest for at least 10 minutes before thinly slicing against the grain of the meat.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Creamy Slow Cooker Mexican Chicken

Here is yet another Pintrest recipe find that turned out so very good - Creamy Crock Pot Mexican Chicken. The last 6 weeks I've been taking a summer course that went until 8:30 pm, meaning I wasn't home till just about 9 pm four nights a week. For a girl who loves (seriously LOVES) to cook dinner each night, it was unsettling to expect to come home at 9 pm and whip up a full meal so I turned to my trusty slow cooker. My slow cooker and I are BFF's. From full meals to warm winter beverages, my slow cooker is a god send. It's that one item from my wedding registry that I use more than anything else!

Ok... onto the the recipe. Let's be honest for a second... any recipe that has only 5 ingredients and includes no real measuring is a okay in my book for a quicky meal and this one did not disappoint. Although it may not look appealing ("soupy, shredded chicken goup" is what Mr. TL called it), I promise it tastes delicious. And bonus feature of this recipe - the leftovers are seriously amazing!

Enjoy :)

Creamy Slow Cooker Mexican Chicken
(adapted from: The Larson Lingo)

4 frozen chicken breasts
8 oz block of cream cheese
1 can of Black Beans, drained & rinsed
1/2 bag of frozen corn
1 can of chopped tomatoes with chilies
2 tablespoons taco seasoning
1 teaspoon Lawry's seasoned salt

Put frozen chicken in the slow cooker and pile cream cheese, black beans, corn, and tomatoes on top of that. Cover with lid and set for 8-10 hours on low.
Once the chicken is cooked, you can shred it in the pot. For me, this happened around hour 6 and at this point, I sprinkled on the taco seasoning and seasoned salt.
Allow to simmer all together until hour 8 to 10. Serve over white or brown rice.

Chick Pea, Avocado, Cucumber and Tomato Salad

I went scouring the Internet for a simple, fresh, and light side dish to serve alongside my Grilled Garlic Balsamic Pork Loin and came across a website on one of my favorite site's - Gina's Skinny Recipes. Every recipe is made with your waist line in mind without compromising any flavor and I dig that.

I perused her site and found a recipe for a cucumber salad that incorporated everything I love about summer - tomatoes, avocado, lime juice, and cukes! She included black beans in her salad to punch up the fiber but I only had chick peas on hand so I opted to go with that. The result - a cool, refreshing salad that was the perfect compliment to my pork. Recipes like this are so basic in nature that you really can switch in and out the ingredients that best fit your family's needs. Enjoy!

Chick Pea, Avocado, Cucumber and Tomato Salad
(adapted from: Gina's Skinny Recipes)

1 seedless cucumber, peeled and diced
2 medium ripe tomatoes, diced
2 hass avocados, diced
15.5 oz can chick peas, rinsed and drained
1 shallot, minced
1 clove of garlic, minced
juice of 1 lime
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
salt and fresh pepper

Combine all the ingredients and season with salt and pepper to taste. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

Grilled Garlic Balsamic Pork Loin

Pintrest has become my new obsession. I waste hours of my life on that site doing nothing more than pinning recipes, decor ideas, sayings, and other random bits of stuff that strikes my fancy. Sometimes it's entirely useless while other times, it's perfectly wonderful. The latter is what I'd lump this recipe in with.

Grilled Garlic Balsamic Pork Loin is seriously love. It's moist, delicious, tasty, and overall an nice spin on a pork loin which, let's face it, can be sort of boring. Make this pork loin today and I promise you'll look at pork in a whole new light!

Grilled Garlic Balsamic Pork Loin
(adapted from: Kitchen Confidante)

6 garlic cloves, finely minced or crushed
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3 teaspoons coarse salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 1/2 lbs pork tenderloin

Stir together garlic, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, and olive oil in a small bowl. Allow to marinate overnight.
Sear the tenderloins on all sides, then grill for about 20-30 minutes, rotating every 10 minutes, until the internal temperature is 160 degrees. Try to let it rest before slicing.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Lady Finger Cheesecake with Balsamic Macerated Strawberries

Having friends who love cooking as much as you do are amazing. Not just because you're guaranteed a good meal when you visit their house, but also because they'll share the yummy recipes they use with you! My friend Nicole (who introduced me to the incredible Toffee Dip) had myself and a few other of our girlfriends over a few weekends back. The meal was delicious, of course, but the dessert... to die for cheesecake. We all begged for her to share the recipe and needless to say, we were all thrilled when we realized that the recipe did not include any baking. A no bake cheesecake that tasted incredible and was impressive? Yes please!!

I adjusted the recipe slightly, as I did not have vanilla extract on hand but did have a whole vanilla bean. But, if you're without vanilla bean, you could easily use 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract.

Then I decided that the cheesecake needed a topping. Nicole served hers with cherry topping but I decided to get a little crazy and go for strawberries... but not just any strawberries. Balsamic Macerated Strawberries. These were amazing and impressive to my dinner companions and paired so very well with the sweet and smooth cheesecake.

Make this and I promise you'll re-think ever making a traditional cheesecake ever again.

Enjoy :)

Lady Finger Cheesecake with Balsamic Macerated Strawberries

For the cheesecake...
3 packages of lady fingers
4-8 oz packages cream cheese, softened
1 pint heavy whipping cream
1 cup sugar
1 whole vanilla bean, stripped

Mix cream cheese, sugar & vanilla. Set aside. Whip heavy cream until stiff. Combine whipped cream with cream cheese mixture.
Line spring form pan with lady fingers (bottom and sides) spread 1/2 of cream cheese filling. Put another layer of lady fingers and then spread on rest of mixture. Refrigerate over night. Top each piece cut with strawberries and serve.

For the strawberries...
1 container of strawberries, hulled and sliced in four pieces
1/4 cup white sugar
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Place the strawberries in a bowl and sprinkle with sugar, tossing to coat. Refrigerate overnight.
30 minutes before serving, pour balsamic vinegar over top and toss. Serve over cheesecake (or eat straight from the bowl - I won't judge you).

Balsamic Butter Pasta with Grilled Chicken, Roasted Asparagus and Roasted Squash

The recipe title is certainly a mouth ful but it's worth every single word. This pasta dish came into my life via, you guessed it, Pintrest and a link to Food & Wine Magazine. the recipe did not call for chicken or squash but I wanted to beef up the pasta a bit and the addition of both was very welcome. that along with some roasted shallot and garlic made this a dish that I know I'll come back to again and again.

If you do not have asparagus or squash on hand, the beauty of this recipe is that any roasted vegetable would work. Broccoli, tomatoes, cauliflower... Whatever tickles your fancy! Want to make this recipe even MORE decadent? A dollop of ricota cheese stirred in at the end would make this dish extra creamy and oh so delicious.


Balsamic Butter Pasta with Grilled Chicken and Roasted Asparagus & Squash
(adapted from Food & Wine Magazine)

1/2 pound asparagus, cut in thirds
1/2 pound summer squash, sliced into 1/2 inch half moons
1 pound chicken tenders, cut into cubes
1 shallot, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
2/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 pound penne
1 stick butter

Heat the oven to 400°.
Sauté the chicken in EVOO. Season with salt and pepper and cook until done.
Snap the tough ends off the asparagus, discard them, and cut into thirds. Put the asparagus, summer squash, shallots an garlic on a baking sheet and toss with the oil and 1/4 teaspoon each of the salt and pepper. Roast until tender, about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, put the vinegar in a small saucepan. Simmer until 3 tablespoons remain. Stir in the brown sugar and the stick of butter. Allow the butter to melt and stir to combine.
Cook the penne in a large pot of boiling, salted water until al dente. Drain the pasta and toss with the vegetables, sauce, and chicken.

Gorgonzola Garlic Bread

When I set out to make a pasta feast for MR. TL and I on Saturday evening, I knew it had to involve some delicious bread to sop up the leftover sauce from the pasta! I snagged a noce round of sourdough bread from Whole Foods and thought we'd be content with just that, as is... that is untilI spotted a recipe for Gorgonzola Garlic Bread on my new favorite site, Pintrest. The recipe looked easy enough but still swanky enough to impress Mr. TL with my kitchen prowess.

The result - a delicious hunk of bread with lots of snappy garlic flavor and just the right kick of gorgonzola. I paired it with a balsamic pasta so the sweetness of that helped offset the punch of Gorgonzola flavor. Enjoy!

Gorgonzola Garlic Bread
(adapted from Thibeault's Table)

1 stick butter, softened
1/2 cup Gorgonzola cheese
1 clove garlic, finely chopped

Cream the butter with the Gorgonzola cheese.
Add garlic to cheese mix.
Season with salt and pepper.
Leave loaf whole, but cut slices so that the loaf stays together. Spread cheese mixture in between each slice and reshape loaf.
Wrap loaf in foil.
Place in 400°F oven for 15 - 20 minutes and serve hot.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Ham, Cheddar and Fig Panini's with Balsamic Field Greens

Summer has arrived in full force here in RI and the last thing I want to do is turn the oven on. The solution? A hearty panini with a light salad on the side.

OF course you could stuff a panini with whatever you have on hand and to me, as long as the cheese is ooey gooey and the bread is crisp and tasty, you're good! I opted for a combo of honey ham, sharp cheddar, and fig preserves. Combined with the toasty bread, it was a sure winner.

The salad lets you get creative too but tonight I went with a reenactment of a salad that Mr. TL and I while photographing a wedding a few weeks back. It was the perfect combination of field greens, toasted almonds, dried cranberries and goat cheese. Dressed with a sweet and tangy balsamic vinaigrette and you have a guaranteed winner.

Enjoy :)

Ham, Cheddar and Fig Panini's with Balsamic Field Greens

Panini's (Yield: 3 sandwiches)
1/2 lb deli ham (I used honey ham)
1/2 lb cheddar cheese (I used extra sharp)
3 tablespoons fig preserves
6 slices dense bread (I used a sourdough)
extra virgin olive oil for brushing

Preheat your panini grill to medium heat and brush with extra virgin olive oil.
Spread 1/2 tablespoon of fig preserves on each piece of bread.
Layer the ham and cheese accordingly on each piece of bread and form a sandwich.
Brush both sides of the sandwich with oil and place on the panini grill.
Cook 5-7 minutes or until the bread is crisp and the cheese is melted.

1 bag of mixed field greens
1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup almond slivers, toasted
balsamic vinaigrette (recipe below)

Wash field greens through your salad spinner and allow to dry.
Toss greens with balsamic vinaigrette and then top with goat cheese, cranberries, and almonds.

Balsamic Vinaigrette
(adapted from
4 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp grainy Dijon mustard
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp agave nectar
3/4 C extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Combine the balsamic vinegar, mustard, garlic, and agave nectar in a blender.
With the machine running, gradually add the olive oil through the opening in the lid to process into a thick dressing. Season with salt and pepper.
The dressing can be made up to 1 week ahead, stored in a covered container and refrigerated. Stir well before using.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Watermelon Sangria

There are a few things I love about summer. Flip flops, warm summer nights, and pitchers of sangria happen to be on the top of my list. My go-to sangria is a White Peach Sangria that I've adapted from my friend Katy but wanted to try a new recipe to mix it up so when I spotted Watermelon Sangria on a Pintrest page, I knew I had to give it a whirl.

As with any recipes, I made it as is at first. The good thing about cocktails is that you can always add to the cocktail to tweak the recipe to how you'd like it. Following the original recipes as is, the sangria was more tart than smooth. If you're someone who likes that, then follow the recipe verbatim. I, however, like my booze to go down smooth and taste like you're drinking juice ;)

I decided to add a touch more watermelon schnapps than required in the original as well as a bit of simple syrup to sweeten it up. The addition of the extra schnapps and simple syrup really sweetened this up, but not to the point of being overly sweet. The result was a fruity, cool, and super summery cocktail that was enjoyed by everyone at the party I brought it to. In fact, as I was taking my pitcher and leaving, one party go-er requested that I go home and whip up another batch and bring it back. Yeah. It's THAT good. Enjoy :)

Watermelon Sangria
(adapted from The Party Dress)

1.5 L dry white wine (I used pinot grigio)
2 cups watermelon schnapps
1 cup white cranberry juice
4 cups freshly scooped watermelon balls
2 limes, cut into half-wheels
1 cup simple syrup (recipe below)

Combine all of the ingredients in a large ceramic or glass container and stir well. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours. Serve over ice.

Simple Syrup

1 cup tap water
1 cup sugar

Bring the water to a boil. Once boiling, stir in the cup of sugar and reduce heat to low.
Continue stirring until the sugar is dissolved.
Let the syrup cool to room temperature, then pour into a clean glass jar and store in the refrigerator.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Frozen Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Sandwiches

I feel like every event I've been to recently has required a dessert. Mr. TL is certainly not complaining about that and when I told him that the request for this weekend's 4th of July celebration was my Frozen Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Sandwiches, he was a very happy man.

Make this recipe one time and I guarantee your friends and family will be begging for you to make them again and again. Simple, easy, and incredibly wonderful on a hot summer day. It's the perfect treat to cap off a day full of sun, fun, and BBQ food. Enjoy!

Frozen Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Sandwiches
(Yield: 25 sandwiches)

8 oz cream cheese, softened
8 oz cool whip
2 tablespoons sugar
50 chewy chocolate chip cookies
sprinkles, nonpareils, candy, nuts, etc. to roll the cookie sandwiches in

Combine softened cream cheese, cool whip, and sugar in a mixing bowl on medium speed with an electric mixer until well blended.
Use a small cookie scoop (I use THIS ONE from Pampered Chef and it's perfect) to place a dollop of filling onto a cookie bottom.
Take a second cookie and smoosh (that's the technical term) it together to form a sandwich.
Roll your cookie sandwich in sprinkles (jimmies for us RI'ers!), candy, nonpareils, chopped nuts... the possibilites are endless!
Stack your sandwiches on a plate, cover with foil or plastic wrap, and freeze for 4-6 hours or until firm. Serve frozen.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Zesty Lemon Shortbread Cookies

Summertime to me is the perfect time to use all sorts of delicious and fresh ingredients for tasty desserts. I love anything lemon so I knew that a lemon shortbread cookie would be the perfect addition to Mr. TL's birthday dessert spread. These little gems baked up beautifully - light and airy with a sweet tartness that was incredible. Enjoy!

Zesty Lemon Shortbread Cookies

1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
Powdered sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray baking sheets with nonstick cooking spray.
In the bowl of a standing mixer on medium speed, cream the butter and sugar together until well blended. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
With the mixer on low speed, add eggs, one at a time, until blended. Add lemon juice and zest, mixing until blended.
Add salt, baking powder and flour and mix until blended.
Drop by rounded spoonful onto prepared baking sheets and bake until edges are firm with no color, 12 to 15 minutes.
Let cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to cooling racks and let cool completely.
Dust with powdered sugar.

Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Bars

Mr. TL's birthday get together is always a time for me to flex my baking muscles! While I opted not to make his cake this year (a local restaurant offers a Heath Bar Crunch cake that is AH-mazing!), I did whip up two other sweets for people to munch on. These chocolate chip cheesecake bars are to die for good. Seriously. And did I mention easy? 4 ingredients and you're on yoru way to cheesecake heaven. Enjoy!

Chocolate Chip Cheesecake Bars
(adapted from

16 oz cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
2 egg
2 rolls of refrigerated chocolate chip cookies

Heat oven to 350°F. In small bowl, beat cream cheese, sugar and egg until smooth.
In ungreased, 9x13 pan, break up one roll of cookie dough. With floured fingers, press dough evenly in bottom of pan to form crust. Spread cream cheese mixture over dough. Crumble and sprinkle remaining roll of dough over cream cheese mixture.
Bake 40-45 minutes or until golden brown and firm to the touch. Cool 30 minutes. Refrigerate at least 2 hours or until chilled. Cut into squares and store in refrigerator.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Toffee Dip

When you put the words "toffee" and "dip" together in a sentence, you're bound to have a match made in heaven! I borrowed this recipe from my girlfriend Nicole after she brought it to one of our girls night out get togethers a few months back. This dip may have been the hit of the party (besides the lasagna Candace made!!) and I knew I had to have the recipe. It's the perfect addition to fruit and Nilla wafers. And a little birdie told me that the leftovers taste amazing spread on a bagel. Enjoy!

Toffee Dip

8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 bag of Heath Bar Toffee Bits
Fruit, cookies, crackers to serve with the dip (I used cut strawberries and apples and some Nilla Wafers)

Combine the first four ingredients with an electric mixer until smooth.
Fold in toffee bits.
Devour. And thank me later :)

Loaded Veggie Pasta Salad

This simple but tasty pasta salad is one that my mom would always make for BBQ's when I was younger. It's chock full of veggies, tender pasta, and yummy cheese. And if you know me then you know of my love affair with cheese! The nice thing about a recipe like this is that you can adjust the veggies, seasoning, and even pasta to your liking. The star of this recipe would have to be the McCormick Salad Supreme seasoning. It's just the right mixe of spices to jazz up the pasta salad. Enjoy!

Loaded Veggie Pasta Salad

1 pound of pasta (I use Wacky Mac for the tri color look)
4 tbsp Salad Supreme Seasoning
1 1/4 cup Italian salad dressing
4 cups of chopped veggies (I used broccoli, red onion, black olives, carrots, red pepper, zuchinni)
1/2 cup sweet pickes, chopped (just trust me on this one!)
1 cup chopped cheese (I used a colby jack blend)

Boil pasta until just al dente. Rinse under cold water.
Pour 1 cup salad dressing over warm pasta. Add 3 tbsp of the Salad Supreme seasoning. Toss to coat and refrigerate until fully chilled.
Toss pasta with veggies and cheese. Add remaining tbsp of seasoning and 1/4 cup of salad dressing and serve!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

I'm alive!

Please please please forgive me for being a crummy blogger these last few weeks. Things have been crazy busy for Mr. TL and I but I think we are on the upside of things now!

I finished up this last semester of classes and we headed to FL for a week in the sun. The weather was perfect, the food was amazing, and the company wasn't so shabby either. I promise to share some pictures of our Disney trip with you all in the coming days!

Besides that we've, had weddings and portrait sessions out the wazoo that keep us running here, there, and everywhere. We are so truly blessed to have such an awesome opportunity to grow our business and work with the best clients around.

I'm in the middle of taking two summer courses this first summer session at my college. I have one more sumer class during the second session followed by two courses in the fall and them I am finally DONE! I can't believe it is *this* close to happening... I can practically taste it.

I'm extra excited because next Wednesday I'm headed to NC with my parents (Mr. TL has to stay home to work... Boo!) for my two cousin's high school graduations. I'm excited to see our extended family that I haven't seen since our wedding two years ago!

I think that just about catches you all up... I have some delicious recipes hitting the blog soon including a Toffee Dip and a Loaded Veggie Pasta Salad that were both hits at Memorial Day cookouts so keep an eye out for those as well.

Have a great Wednesday everyone :)

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Boozy Baked French Toast

We celebrated Mother's Day a week early with my family and I brought this delicious wonder to the party. It's rich, decadent, and so super easy to toss together the night before a brunch and bake off the next day!

The secret ingredients in this casserole is the booze. I used Bailey's Irish Cream but may mix it up next time and opt for Frangelico or Rum.


Boozy Baked French Toast
(adapted from Smitten Kitchen)

1 loaf Challah bread in 1-inch slices
3 cups whole milk
3 eggs
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons Bailey's Irish Cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice, divided
3 tablespoons butted, chopped

Generously grease a 9×13-inch baking dish with salted butter.
Arrange half of the bread in a tightly packed layer on the bottom.
Sprinkle the bread layer with half the pumpkin pie spice and all of the nuts.
Arrange the remaining challah bread layer on top of the other.
Whisk milk, eggs, sugar, salt booze and extract together in a bowl. Pour over the bread.
Sprinkle the bread with the remaining half of pumpkin pie spice.
Dot the bread with chopped butter.
Wrap tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. The bread will absorb all of the milk custard while you sleep.
Bake at 425 for 30 minutes, or until puffed and golden.
Serve with maple syrup, more butter, fresh fruit, or powdered sugar. The possibilities are endless!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Two Years Ago Today

Time sure flies when you're having fun!

Two years ago today I married my best friend, squishy, partner in crime, and soul mate. We had the most perfect day surrounded with our friends and family and couldn't have asked for anything more.

I love going back through our wedding pictures and taking a peek back through the memories created that day...

On our wedding day, Jim and I exchanged gifts. I bought him a shiny new watch and he surprised me with a Tiffany charm necklace with the initial M to represent my new last name.

How fitting that this year for our anniversary, Mr. TL surprised me with another lovely surprise. You know that if it comes in this box, it's got to be good, right?

Inside laid a lovely Tiffany lock to add to my charm necklace!

And in case you're wondering, Mr. TL didn't get skipped over on this anniversary. The pictures of my anniversary gift were taken with his anniversary gift... a new lens for his camera. The Nikon 50 mm/ 1.4. It's pretty dreamy!

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY to my favorite person. I love you more today than yesterday. xxoo.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Bad Bad Blogger

Hi. I'm Tana. I've been a bad blogger!

This past weekend was packed full and this week is shaping up to be less than low key... between my final week of classes (and everything that involves!), client meetings, engagement sessions, packing for Florida and sleeping & eating... I promise to return to my regular scheduled blogging soon.

If I don't return by the end of the week... Have a fabulous week everyone :)

Friday, April 29, 2011

I guess I can stop waiting by the phone with my tiara on...

Because Prince William married Kate Middleton this morning in a grand and beautiful ceremony.

I will admit that I was slightly disappointed by the tiny bouquet she carried (although I understand the symbolism behind the choice - read HERE for those details) but her regal gown that was simple and beautiful, more than made up for that.

And call me crazy but I actually liked the ensembles chosen by Fergie's daughters. Yes they were a bit wacky, but did you see some of the other feathered hats the ladies wore? I thought these were spunky (although I would have chosen a different color than beige for Princess Beatrice, as I think it washed her out).

My grandmother used to have a hat that matched every outfit. She was so precise that she had a closet that was floor to ceiling with hat boxes, all labeled, and complete with matching costume jewelry on the inside of which to wear appropriately with the hat. And we wonder where my OCD and/ or fashion obsession come from... Here are just a few quick shots of some of the other hats on display at the nuptials that reminded me of my Grandmother (she would have rocked every single one of theses!)

This wouldn't be a proper blog post about the royal wedding without pictures of Kate & William's royal smooch! Warning: major swoon factor ahead ;)

Are you like me and can't get enough of the Royal Wedding? Here is a lovely slideshow of images from the event: The Royal Wedding via The Telegraph

Fun Fridays

We made it to the end of another week... pat yourselves on the back, friends!

Tonight Mr. TL and I are staying in, grilling some burgers, cracking open a bottle of wine, and watching a movie. Low key and just the two of us - sheer perfection!

Saturday we'll run some miscellanous errands, grab lunch out somewhere then I'll head out for girls night at one of my friend's houses. There are a group of 9 women whom I get together with monthly to chit chat, drink booze, and gossip. What more could one want?!

Sunday we're headed to my in-law's to celebrate Mother's Day a week early (my father in law is workin on real Mother's Day and he always basically caters the holiday so this makes it easier on everyone!). I'm going to make a French Toast Casserole that is a twist from the one I usually make. This one has booze and cinnamon - how bad can THAT be? Sunday night Mr. TL & I are headed into Boston for an engegement session and we'll grabe a bite to eat up in the North End - YUM!

What are you guys doing this weekend? Head over to Jennie's blog and link up!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Green Goddess Panini's & Spicy Blue Cheese Tomato Soup

This is the time of year when Mr. TL & I are gearing up for our busy season with photography so finding meals that are tasty, relatively simple, and can be prepped ahead of time are crucial. One of our favorite quick meals is grilled cheese and soup. It's just always so comforting and always super simple to throw together.

This week when I decided to go for our old standby, I decided that I wanted to mix it up. A boring grilled cheese is just that - boring. Same goes for regular tomato soup - lame-o! So I went on an internet search for interesting and easy to accomplish recipes for both grilled cheese and soup and came across two that will certainly be added in to our normal rotation going forward.

Before we get to the recipes, let me introduce you to one of my favorite kitchen appliances - our Cuisinart Griddler. Truth be told, I had no desire to register for a panini press. Mr. TL added it on the day we went to register and I, like every other wife to be out there, got home and removed it. That, along with a hot dog cooker, a chicken rotisserie cooker, and the most mismatched set of kitchen towels imaginable (who ever said giving the guys the registry gun was a good idea?!). But here's the thing... he kept re-adding the panini press so I eventually stopped fighting the "Battle Panini Press" (as I had won "Battle Hot Dog Cooker", "Battle Chicken Rotisserie"m and "Battle Kitchen Towels" ;)).

This little darling actually serves double purpose in the kitchen, as both a panini press, but also operates as an open faced grill or griddle (it comes with grill attachments as well as griddle ones!). It's great for burgers in the middle of the winter and pancakes on a Sunday morning. I recently cleaned off counter space so it can live on the counter every day (as it's a pain to pull in and out of our super deep cabinets).

Now let's get to the recipes. First up, the Green Goddess Panini! I came across this gem on the website Panini Happy and I'm so happy (ha ha!) that I did. I, of course, made some adaptations which you'll see if you compare my recipe to the one on the Panini Happy site and I think they were for the better. The taste of the herbs was far from overpowering which was exactly what I had hoped for. The creamy cheese smelled incredible all on it's own and tasted even better between two slices of hearty sourdough bread (thank you, Trader Joe's!).

Green Goddess Panini
(adapted from Panini Happy)

1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 shallot, quartered
zest of 1 lime
3 tablespoons fresh Italian parsley (eyeballed)
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro (eyeballed)
1 tablespoon fresh basil (eyeballed)
1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 ounces cream cheese, cut into smaller cubes
1 cup shredded mozzarella
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar
8-12 slices sourdough bread
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
kosher salt & cracked black pepper

Place garlic and shallot into your food processor and pulse until finely chopped.
Add in the lime zest, parsley, cilantro, basil, shallot, mustard and cream cheese and pulse again until well blended.
Add the mozzarella and cheddar cheeses and pulse until combined.
Preheat the panini grill to medium-high heat.
Spread a generous amount of the cheese mixture onto one slice of bread. Close the sandwich with a second slice of bread. Brush a little olive oil on top and sprinkle with kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper. Grill for 5 to 6 minutes until the cheese is melted and oozy and the bread is toasted.

Onto the soup... I'm a tomato soup fan from way back. My hands down favorite has to be the Creamy Tomato Soup from Panera. This recipe, courtesy of Michael Symon via the blog The Amateur Gourmet is as close to that soup as I could imagine but kicked up a notch. The addition of blue cheese and hot sauce ( I added hot sauce - the original recipe called for Sirrachha sauce) was refreshing and added unexpected flavor as the soup hung out in your mouth. Creamy, delicious, and with just the right amount of spice. It was the perfect compliment to the mild Green Goddess Panini!

Spicy Blue Cheese Tomato Soup
(adapted from Michael Symon)

2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 medium red onion, finely chopped
Kosher salt
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 28-oz can San Marzano tomatoes, with their juice
1 1/2 cups Chicken Stock
3/4 cups heavy cream
1 tablespoon hot sauce sauce
1/2 cup blue cheese
2 tablespoons butter

Heat the olive oil in a 4-quart pot over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the onion and a three-fingered pinch of salt and sweat for 2 minutes. Add the garlic and continue to sweat for 2 more minutes. Add the tomatoes, their juice and the stock and bring to a simmer. Add the cream, hot sauce, blue cheese, and butter and simmer for 45 minutes.
Pour the soup into a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.