And back to Pintrest

25 Dec

So, I know I said that I wasn’t going to log on to Pintrest until I had emptied my Things I Must Make File . . . But I did. And my file is not empty.*Sigh*

I just can’t resist the cuteness!

And the amazing decorating ideas:

And great ideas for things to use as pregnancy announcements:

I mean, really, my mother would melt if I gave her that. Melt!

And the cool baby shower ideas:

And cookie ice cream bowl ideas:

So, I have a new vow: No more recipes¬†from Pintrest until I am done with the ones I have already bookmarked. But let’s be honest, I probably won’t finish those until I’ve completed All Cakes Considered (more on that later) . . . So, basically forever . . . but anything else Pintrest is fair game! ūüėČ

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Christmas Leftovers: Ham and Split Pea Soup

23 Dec

We always have ham for Christmas dinner. And we always have tons of leftovers. While ham sandwiches and reheated slices of ham are tasty in their own right, I wanted something with more flavor and more vegetables incorporated in. So, I turned to ham and split pea soup! It’s perfect for those cool nights in December and it’s fairly healthy. I’ve tried several different recipes, but this one is my favorite!

Ham and Split Pea Soup

Based on the recipe from Food Network, photo from Food Network

Ingredients

  • 1 pound dried split peas
  • 1/2 pound dried lentils
  • 1 ham bone, with some leftover meat attached
  • 3 tablespoons¬†unsalted butter
  • 1 cup finely chopped yellow onions
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped¬†carrots
  • 2 teaspoons minced¬†garlic
  • 1 pound leftover ham, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme

Directions

  1. In a large pot, melt the butter over medium-high heat.
  2. Add the onions and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes.
  3. Add the carrots and cook, stirring, until just soft, about 3 minutes.
  4. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds.
  5. Add the ham bone and ham and cook, stirring, until beginning to brown.
  6. Add the dried peas, dried lentils, salt, pepper, and pepper flakes, and cook, stirring for 2 minutes.
  7. Add 8 cups of water, the bay leaf and thyme, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the peas are tender, about 1 hour. (Add more water as needed, if the soup becomes too thick or dry.)
  8. Remove the bay leaf and discard.
  9.  Serve immediately or store in your refrigerator to enjoy later!

Enjoy!

Belize by Cruise Ship

20 Dec

The second stop on our cruise was Belize. There, we decided to take a trip to the Altun Ha ruins. The ruins are about an hour and half from the port. We decided to purchase a tour of the ruins after we tendered from the cruise ship to shore (due to the sensitive nature of the coral reef surrounding Belize, cruise ships cannot actually dock in port. The cruise line provides a small boat to take you to and from shore). We paid $40 per person for a trip there and back and for a tour guide while we were at the ruins. It is definitely worth it to pay more for a tour that has a guide. Our guide knew a lot of information about the significance of the Altun Ha sight and Mayan culture generally. He really enriched our experience.

The ruins were amazing. They are partially excavated and you can climb to the top of some of the temples.

And on our way out of the port, we enjoyed watching sailboats sail past our cruise ship:

However, as with Roatan, there is a lot of poverty in Belize and while it is a nice port to visit on a cruise ship, I don’t think it would be a destination I would stay at for more than a day or two.

Easy and Healthy Holiday Dinner

16 Dec

I was tempted to call this the Quick, Easy, and Healthy Holiday Dinner, but the cooking time for the ham is quite long, even though it requires very little prep time. So, this menu is quick on prep time, but a bit long on the cooking time.

Anyway, I love the citrus notes throughout these dishes. It really ties it all together!

Menu

Orange Glazed Ham

Sauteed Zucchini

Maple Orange Glazed Sweet Potatoes

Orange Glazed Ham

Ingredients

  • 1 (14 to 16-pound) smoked ham on the bone
  • 6 garlic cloves
  • I cup orange marmalade
  • 1/2 cup Dijon mustard
  • 1 orange, zested
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Place the ham in a heavy roasting pan. You will need to bake your ham for 20 minutes per pound. Bake your ham for one hour less than the total baking time. For example, if you have a 14 pound ham, it needs to cook for 280 minutes (14 x 20 = 280), so you would initially bake for 220 minutes (280 – 60 = 220).
  2. While the ham is cooking, prepare the glaze. First, mince the garlic in a food processor fitted with the steel blade.
  3. Add the marmalade, mustard, orange zest, and orange juice and process until smooth. Reserve 3 tablespoons of the glaze for the zucchini.
  4. Once the ham is done with its initial bake (total baking time – 60 minutes), take the ham out of the oven and pour the glaze over the ham.
  5. Bake for 1 hour, until the ham is fully heated and the glaze is well browned.

Sauteed Zucchini

Ingredients

  • 3 medium zucchini, slice 1/4 inch thick
  • 3 tablespoons glaze (reserved from the ham glaze)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

Directions

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  2. Add the zucchini and the glaze and toss to coat.
  3. Cook for 7 minutes or until desired doneness.

Maple Orange Glazed Sweet Potatoes

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 pounds unpeeled sweet potatoes, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
  • 1/3 cup¬†fresh orange juice
  • 1/4 cup¬†maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon¬†salted butter
  • 1/8 teaspoon¬†ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Directions

  1. Place the sweet potato slices in a 2-quart microwave safe casserole dish.
  2. Combine the orange juice, maple syrup, cloves, and cinnamon in a small bowl. Pour juice mixture over potatoes. Top with the tablespoon of butter.
  3. Cover loosely with plastic wrap, and microwave at HIGH 5 minutes.
  4. Stir, recover with the plastic wrap and microwave for an additional 5 minutes .
  5.  Uncover, and microwave for 5 minutes or until potatoes are tender.

And, with any leftover ham, you can make ham and split pea soup (I will post that recipe next week!).

 

Roatan, Bay Islands, Honduras by cruise ship

14 Dec

Paul and I went on an amazing and very relaxing cruise last week. Our first stop was Roatan, Honduras. It was beautiful, as you can see.

However, there isn’t much to see in Roatan besides port area (pictured above), which was built solely for the use of cruise passengers, and the amazingly beautiful beaches (not that we are complaining!), so without much debate we headed to West Bay Beach. If you’ve ever cruised before, you know that the shore excursions on the ship are quite pricey. For example, to go to West Bay Beach via cruise ship excursion, it was $59 per person. We paid $12 per person, round trip, to take a “tour” to the beach. Since we were on a tour instead of just a taxi, they pick you up and drop you off. You can also ask to to go specific spots on the beach. We wanted to go to the private portion of the beach, because they have more facilities there (bathrooms, restaurants, and chairs for rent). We were dropped off at a¬†restaurant¬†called Beaches. You can rent chairs there for $10 per chair for the day, but Paul and I were content on our towels (and there is no obligation to rent a chair simply because you are dropped off at their beach). After lounging on our towels and enjoying the water (which was warm, even in December!), we bought some local brew and a snack at the restaurant before heading back to our ship. We spent about 3 hours on the beach and it was perfection!

I would have only two things that I would warn you to watch out for. First, private property signs, like the one below. The beaches are public, so the private property signs refer to the off-beach property, not the sandy area.

Second, there are a lot of people on the beach trying to sell you things. I found that if I laid on the beach with my sunglasses on, they left me alone. Even considering those small things, it was a wonderfully relaxing day at the beach on a beautiful island.

Overall, it was a beautiful stop on a cruise, but with the limited number of attractions, I am not sure that I would ever fly there to stay for a more extended trip.

Make-up Monday: My $5 Mascara Challenge

12 Dec

I have been using The Body Shop’s Lengthen and Define mascara since Paul and I got married 2 1/2 years ago. More specifically, I’ve been using the same tube¬†of Lengthen and Define mascara. Gross, I know, but I never really thought about how old the mascara was. Until I got a stye and found out that I should have been changing my mascara out every 6 months. So, I needed to go get some new masacra. Simple enough, right?

I trecked over to the local Body Shop to pick up a new tube of Lengthen and Define. But they didn’t have any. Not only did they not have any, they don’t make that mascara any more. This is a travesty, to say the least. So, I had to find a new kind of mascara to love. I was looking around the Body Shop and I discovered something I really didn’t remember: mascara can be expensive! If I’m going to be changing out my mascara every 6 months, I don’t want to spend $15 a tube. So, I decided to try to find a $5 (or so)¬†mascara that I loved. Luckily enough, the Body Shop was having a promotion on their Big and Curvy mascara – $5! However, I wanted to try at least two different types of mascara, so I also tried Lots of Lashes by Maybelline.

The Body Shop Big & Curvy Mascara ($5 on sale)

I love the Body Shop products because they are super gentle on my eyes. My eyes are fairly sensitive, so they can sometimes be irritated by eye make-up. ¬†I didn’t ever have any irritation with the Big & Curvy.

However, when I first opened the mascara, I had a WTF moment. This is what the wand looks like this:

Looks like someone took a weed whacker to it, right? Unfortunately, these chopped off bristles result in a clumpy look. After I applied the mascara, I felt like I had 5 lashes. The mascara had clumped all of my lashes into just a few lashes. However, if you use a lash brush while the mascara is still wet, you can separate the lashes. Once this is done, the mascara looks very nice. The black is nice and dark and really brings out the blue in my eyes. The mascara also wears well and doesn’t flake. However, it is a bit difficult to wash off at the end of the day.

Maybelline Lots of Lashes ($4.24 at Walmart, $6.40 MSRP)

I was immediately much more impressed with Lots of Lashes, since the mascara brush didn’t look like it had a lawn tool take to it:

 

These bristles resulted in very few clumps and a much smoother application process. In addition to fewer clumps, I felt that the Maybelline mascara gave a lot more volume to my lashes. Additionally, it was more versatile. I could coat my lashes once for a little volume, twice for more volume, and a third time for lots of volume. The mascara also washed off easily at the end of the day.

However, I found that the mascara flaked a bit if I so much as touched my general eye area (never mind if I rubbed my eyes Рas they say in Jersey Рfuggetaboutit). Because if this flaking issue, I also found that the mascara had a greater likelihood of irritating my eyes.

But, as an added plus, Maybelline sent me a few tubes to try out as part of a BzzAgent promotion, so I have a few for future use!

The Winner

Though Lots of Lashes has a few negatives, I found I still preferred it to Big & Curvy. If I refrained from touching my eyes (something I should probably be doing anyway), the mascara wore well and didn’t irritate my eyes. Additionally, it gave me greater volume than Big &¬†Curvy and fewer clumps.

What is your can’t-live-without-it eye make-up?

Gingerbread Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting (Ornament Cupcakes)

8 Dec

This was my first foray into decorating cupcakes with something other than frosting. It was mostly successful.

Gingerbread Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting (Ornament Cupcakes)

Based on the Epicurious Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsulfured molasses
  • 1 large egg, beaten lightly
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 8 ounce cream cheese, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • Colored sugar, sprinkles, M&Ms, laffy taffy, Twizzlers, and candies for decorating

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350¬įF.
  2. Into a bowl sift together the flour, the ground ginger, the cinnamon, the cloves, the allspice, and the salt.
  3. In another bowl cream 1/2 stick of the butter, add the granulated sugar, and beat the mixture until it is fluffy.
  4. Beat in the molasses and the egg, beating until the mixture is smooth.
  5. In a measuring cup combine the baking soda with 1/2 cup boiling water and stir the mixture to dissolve the baking soda.
  6. Stir the mixture into the molasses mixture (the mixture will appear curdled) and stir the molasses mixture into the flour mixture, stirring to combine the ingredients well.
  7. Line muffin tins with paper liners and spoon the batter into the liners, filling them halfway.
  8. Bake the cupcakes in the middle of the oven for 20 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean.
  9. Transfer the cupcakes to a rack and let them cool.
  10. In a bowl cream together the cream cheese, and the remaining 2 tablespoons butter, add the confectioners’ sugar and the vanilla, and beat the mixture until it is fluffy and smooth.
  11. Chill the frosting for 30 minutes.
  12. Spread the frosting on the cupcakes and decorate! I first coated my cupcakes with a layer of colored sugar. Then, I used the candies to create ornaments. Tip: for the laffy taffy, melt it for 5-10 seconds in the microwave so it is more maliable.