Monday, November 12, 2012



This is my go-to, crowd pleaser, always delicious, favorite drink! It is easy to prepare, and best of all, is prepared ahead of time, and gets better as it "brews". You don't need to spend a lot of money on the wine for this recipe, a simple table wine is best.

The following recipe is for a large batch, which would make about 24 8oz. servings. If you'd like to make a smaller or larger batch, simply reduce or increase as desired. I've done it many ways and it always turns out great! I always eyeball my liquor quantities, so the below measures are approximate.

- 4L Red wine, such as Chianti or Burgundy. I generally use Carlo Rossi Chianti
- 12 - 16 oz.  Triple Sec
- 12 - 16 oz. Brandy
- 2 liter of Sprite, Sprite Zero, 7Up, etc. Use about 1/2 to 3/4 bottle depending on strong you'd like it.
- 1 apple, cored, and chopped into bite sized pieces
- 1 orange, peeled, sliced into bite sized pieces
- 1 8oz. jar Maraschino cherries, with juice
- 1 14oz. can Dole Pineapple chunks or "tid bits"in juice. Do not use fruit in heavy syrup.
- 1/2 Fresh Lemon, juiced - or substitute 2 T store bought juice
- 1/2 Fresh Lime, juiced - or substitute 2 T store bought juice
- Additional fruit slices to garnish glasses as desired.

Storage & Serving:
- The sangria will need to sit overnight in an airtight container. If you don't have one large enough for all the liquid split into two containers, and divide all ingredients evenly between both containers. It's much easier that way, than to try to pour from a large container into another one...yep, made that mistake and got wine all over.

In a large sealable container(s), add chopped fruit and juices of all fruit. Add liquors and wine. Mix well. Seal and refrigerate overnight. When ready to enjoy the next day, move sangria to a serving container and add Sprite before serving. Serve sangria over ice, and don't forget to add the yummy fruit that's been soaking all night - it's the best! Garnish glasses with fresh slices of fruit, if desired.

If you do a taste test when you are done prepping, don't be shocked. The mix will taste stronger than you'd expect! Let the fruit go to work and re-test the next day - it will be MUCH better!

Picture coming soon!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Halloween Party & Decor

Halloween mantle display with black lights on

Halloween mantle display with black lights off 

Spooky treats!

Black light sensitive potion with floral beads . See how to on my previous post:

Black light sensitive potion made with glow in the dark paint and floral beads 

Glow in the dark floral beads made with glowing paint

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Antiquing Paper

Antiquing Paper How To:

This is a simple project that can be done to any type of normal paper to make it look old. The below print was printed on standard 11'' x 17'' paper with a laser printer. The final look is nothing like the pristine original (sorry no picture, at this time, I will load later). 

The final product hung in the bathroom for Halloween!

- Print or prints on standard computer paper, or similar material
- Strong coffee, about 1/4 cup. I just saved some from the morning batch. 
- Paper towels or sponge paint brush
- Oven
- Cookie sheet
- Frame and "matte" optional

1. Crumble paper very well, careful as to not tear or rip, though. Fold and bend multiple ways until many lines and folds are created in the page. Repeat until desired results are achieved.  
2. Place paper on cookie sheet and begin "painting" it with the coffee using either the sponge brush or a wadded up paper towel. Try to let coffee run into folds in the paper. The coffee will pool up in certain areas, that is ok.
3. Continue "painting" until you have your page covered as desired. Do not drench the page, a little coffee goes a long way. 
4. Sprinkle fresh coffee grounds around the page. If you get too much in one area, spread it around lightly with the brush or paper towel. 
5. Place paper in the oven at 225 degrees F. Don't worry, paper doesn't burn until 451 degrees! Check after 10 min to see if the paper is dry. Time will vary depending on how much coffee is on the paper, and how absorbent the paper is. Bake until completely dry. 
6. Remove paper from the oven and check results. If you want more antiquing, keep reading, if not enjoy your product!!!
7. For more antiquing: Fold and wrinkle paper again. (I choose to do two rounds on mine, one because there were some white spots I ended up not liking, and two, I wanted more creases and darker areas in the folds.) 
8. Turn paper to the reverse side this time and continue the painting process. For me, it was much easier for the coffee to find creases the second time around. I think the paper was harder, so it just natural created better folds. I added more coffee grounds and tried to very, very lightly rub them in. Carefully! Cover any remaining white spots, if desired.
9. Bake paper again, checking every 10 minutes until paper is done and results are achieved as desired.
10. Frame if wanted. I used some extra paper that came in a package I received. Cut to frame size and mount antiqued paper. Hang and enjoy!!!

First Round of coffee "painting"

Painting and dabbing coffee grounds around 

Small amounts of grounds are dabbed 

How the paper looked when I placed it in the over for the first round

Some parts were flat, others slightly raised up

Coffee grounds staining the corners 

Black Light Magic

I've been doing a lot of research on inexpensive ways to make an impact for Halloween. Mainly, having props that are black light sensitive. With a little help from my husband, we decked out the mantle and experimented with all sorts of fun "glowing" things (more details below). Here are some pictures of how everything turned out with details of each picture and directions.

Empty Crystal Skull Vodka bottle filled with Tonic Water (quinine glows, which is in Tonic Water). 

Glowing jar magic:
- Left Jar: Empty Tequila bottle filled with highlighter water. Directions below.
- Center Jar: Floral Beads soaked in highlighter water.
- Right Jar - highlighter water

Detail glowing

Floral bead detail

Old champagne vinegar bottle detail 

How it looks without the black light on

This one turned out great! Bottom layer is floral bead soaked in pink glow in the dark water.  Details below. Top is floral beads with highlighter.

Giant tequila bottle with highlighter water

Glowing mantle!

Making Highlighter Water That Glows

This is one of the easiest and coolest things I discovered this Halloween season. Super inexpensive, too! 

- Highlighters from the dollar store (any color)
- Empty glass jars or bottles
- Soaking pitcher, container, etc. 
- Black lights
- Scissors or pliers 

- Open a highlighter marker and pull the tip out using scissors or pliers. Remove the remaining tips of the same color. Add tips and empty highlighters to a large pitcher or container, at least 2 quarts in size. Fill with water. Let highlighter color penetrate the water and watch the magic happen. I let my first batch sit over night, and it was SUPER saturated when I woke up. Soaking for at least 2 hours would be ideal. I also found that inside the "empty" highlighter was another filament that colored the water, too.  Pour colored water into your containers of choice, dilute with more water if necessary. Refill container with more water and highlighters and tips to make more water. Repeat until all fluid is absorbed into the water. 

Coloring Floral Beads

Floral beads can be found at Walmart, Hobby Lobby or Michael's. They are usually around $1 a pack and come in a variety of colors. I've started with all clear beads for the projects pictured above. Note, when using floral beads, you need at least 3 hours for the beads to expand fully, usually best results are after 4-6 hours, so just plan ahead if you are wanting your display to be ready for a party. 

- Floral Beads (can use any color)
- Water  or Tonic Water - See below 
- Glass jars or containers
- Optional - Glow in the dark paint

1. Using Clear Floral Beads: You have a few options on how to achieve your results. If you want clear beads that are black light sensitive, simply soak the beads in Tonic Water. This is the process listed in #2 below. If you want to color the clear beads you have two options: use highlighter colored water, or dye the water using glow in the dark paint. We experimented with both since we had the highlighter water and glow in the dark paint in a few colors. 

* Highlighter water colored beads - Use prepared highlighter water to soak beads. Follow package directions, and substitute colored  water for regular water. 

* Paint colored beads - Start with designated amount of water needed for your beads. Add glow in the dark paint to the water and mix well. Add floral beads. 

2. Using Colored Floral Beads: If using color floral beads, let them soak in Tonic Water so they will be black light sensitive and retain their original color. Follow directions on package, simply substituting Tonic Water for regular water. 

Current Music Mix

I'm always looking for new great workout tunes. Here is what I currently have on my iPod playlists. Also, I've listening to a lot of college (and older) favorites, since I've been having a hard time finding new tunes. I moved all of these over from my old computer, I really had to dig, but found some good songs I'd forgotten about. Please feel free to comment if you have some good workout songs! * = faves!

Old School Playlist:

- Roll in my 64 - Snoop Dog
- 1,2,3,4 - Coolio
- Shorty Wanna Ride- Young Buck
- If You Want Blood (Empire Records) - ACDC *
- Break it Off- Sean Paul/ Rhianna
- Salt Shaker - Ying Yang Twins *
- Get Low - Ying Yang Twins *
- Let's Go - Trick Daddy
- Can't Nobody Hold Me Down - Puff Daddy (hey, that was his name at the time!)
- Victory - "  "
- In the Ayer- Flo Rida
-  Hi-Lo - JT Money
- Come on and Ride It - Quad City DJ's
- Daisy Dukes - 69 Boys
- All Night (Don't Stop) Remix - Janet Jackson ft. Elephant Man *
- Walk it Out - DJ Unk
- Sweet Child of Mine - Guns N' Roses
- Go Deep - Janet Jackson
- Bawitdaba - Kid Rock (great for intense sprinting)
- Money Talks - ACDC
- You Shook Me All Night - ACDC
- Notorious Thugz - Bone Thugs ft. Notorious BIG
-  Pretty Fly- The Offspring
- Up on Things - Fabolous
- This is How We Do - Big Tymers
- It's My Life- Bon Jovi
- It's a Long Way to the Top - ACDC
-  Do That- Baby ft P. Diddy
- Still Not a Player - Big Pun
- Back in Black - ACDC
- Make 'em Say Uhh - Master P
- It's All About the Benjamin's - Puff Daddy
- Here I Come - Fergie
- Cold Hard Bitch - Jet
- Bombs Over Bagdad - Outkast
- Rosa Parks - Outkast
- Hey Ya - Outkast
- Tootsie Roll - 69 Boys
- We Will Rock You - Queen
- Lets Go - Trick Daddy , (Ozzy Remix)
- Gossip Folks - Missy Elliott
- Hey Ma - Cameron
- I Got Soul - The Killers
- Make it Rain - Fat Joe
- Shake it Off - Mariah Carey
- Lean Back - Terror Squad
- Cocaine Eyes - Rolling Stones
- For Those About to Rock - ACDC
- Shake Your Love - Debbie Gibson
- Beat It - Michael Jackson
- Jessie's Girl - Rick Springfield
- Buddy Holly - Weezer
- Spice Up Your Life - Spice Girls
- A Change Will Do You Good - Sheryl Crowe
- Where Are We Runnin' - Lenny Kravitz

Recently Added Songs to "Workout Best" 

Some of these are new, but there are few that have been on what I call, the "iPod back burner" for long enough that I am not sick of them anymore, at least for now. My last playlist added here was from April. You can check that post for my remaining songs. Here is the post: Workout Playlist 1

-  Gangnam Style - Psy
- Oy, oy, oy - Don Omar ft. Lucenzo *
- Low - Flo Rida 
- Everybody Talks - Neon Trees
- Titanium - David Guetta
- Goin' In - J-Lo
- It's Goin' Down - Young Joc *
- Black & Yellow - Wiz Khalifa *
-  Back In Time - Pitbull
- This Is How We Do It -  Montel Jordan
- Turn Me On - David Guetta Ft. Nicky Minaj
- Out Here Grindin - DJ Khaled * 
- Put Your Back Into It - Ice Cube
- Crazy - Pitbull Ft. Lil Jon *
- Thunderstruck Crookers Remix - ACDC
- Outta Control - Baby Bash
- Good Life - Kanye West (as much as I dislike Kanye, I do like this song)
- Highway to the Danger Zone - Top Gun (it's a classic!)
- Bangarang- Skrillex
- Cocaine - Eric Clapton
- Put Your Hands Up For Detroit - Fedde Le Grand
- I Know You Want Me - Pitbull

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Halloween Wine Display

Over the years I collect Halloween themed wine bottles to creepy up my kitchen corners. Here is an assortment of what I've collected over the years. All in all, I don't remember any of these being fabulously good, but I do remember the cat bottle being the worst wine I've ever had in my life. A close second would have to be the one on the far left which you are supposed to serve warm, just wasn't my thing. It's all about the bottle for this display. 

Corner wine bottle display for Halloween. The Cat and flying witch kind were really bad, the others are fair game.

This is actually a Boulevard Beer made in Kansas City, MO

Burrito Rollups

This is a classic recipe my mom has made for years and I've carried on the tradition. It is great for tailgates, making ahead of time (yes!), Halloween and everything in between. Plus, its very simple & always a hit. Recipe can easily be doubled for a larger batch - we do a double batch when we have over 20 people or so.

Ingredients, Single Batch:
- 1 can Old El Paso Refried Beans, can use traditional, fat free or spicy
- 1 8 oz. block cream cheese, softened (I use low fat, always)
- 1 small can chopped black olives
- 1 package flour tortillas
- Salsa to serve with the rollups
- Foil
- Food coloring, optional

Combine beans, cream cheese and olives in a large bowl until well combined. Using a large spoon or spatula spread evenly across one tortilla, but not getting too close to the edges. Wrap the burrito tightly. Place about 5 burritos in a foil "package" to keep the air out. Continue rolling until you've used all your mixture. Refrigerate overnight for best results. When ready to prep to serve, cut each burrito into 1'' slices on a slight angle. The angle makes for a nicer presentation and helps them stay together better. Save ends for "testing".  Serve with salsa.

I'm going to be making these for our Halloween party on Saturday and I'm trying out a new spooky presentation which will include food coloring...preview a spine...Pictures of prep and presentation to follow.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Monster Mash Quinoa

Whoa! I just made this by accident! This is a recipe I make frequently, but I usually use regular quinoa and not black quinoa.... so it looks normal. As I was mixing in the edamame a light bulb went off! Monster Mash Quinoa was just born. Perfect for fall festiveness, indeed. It looks pretty creepy I must say, but it tastes good & is good for you!

Monster Mash Quinoa

- Quinoa (Black for the Monster Mash version)
- Vegetable base such as Better than Bouillon
- 1 cup edamame, pre-shelled & thawed
- 1/3 cup sliced sun dried tomatoes, with olive oil
- 1 T garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp pepper
-  dash of salt as needed

Prepare quinoa according to package directions, and additionally adding vegetable base (follow directions for the amount of water you are using). Once quinoa is done cooking add edamame and sun dried tomatoes with oil. Season as desired. Serve and spook!

Oreo Eyeballs

This is one of my favorite Halloween party foods! There are tons of ways to decorate these, but my favorite is to make them look like eyeballs. I've also seen them done like mummies & this recipe adapted for Valentine's Day using a small heart shaped cookie cutter to shape the mixture before freezing. My recipe take uses lower fat ingredients, and I can promise you, no one misses the extra calories when they are at party! Happy Haunting!

Eyes with green cherry iris' and red icing veins

Creepy eyeball scene with chocolate chip iris'

1 - "Regular" Size Package Reduced Fat Oreo Cookies (entire cookie, cream and all)
1 - 8oz. package low fat Philadelphia cream cheese, softened
Almond or White Chocolate Bark, I prefer Almond Bark.
Decorations, you can use any of the following: chocolate chips (iris), red or green pipe icing (veins), colored candy pieces (iris), etc.

1. Crush cookies to a fine consistency in a food processor. Two batches works best.
2.  Pour crumbs into a mixing bowl.
3. Add softened cream cheese to the crumbs and begin combining. Smashing the cream cheese with a large flat spoon or spatula, or you can get really into it and combine by hand for the best results.
4. Roll mixture into 3/4'' - 1'' balls, depending on your preference. Place on cookie sheet lined with wax or parchment paper.
5. Place balls in the freezer for at least 20 minutes until hardened. This makes it MUCH easier when dipping in the melted bark. You can also prepare these ahead of time and freeze them overnight. Cover lightly with plastic wrap if you plan on keeping them in overnight.
6. Prepare bark for dipping. Use or create a double boiler* over very low heat. Add a small amount of bark, about 1/2 - 3/4 cup to begin with. Stir lightly with a wooden spoon** as it begins to melt.
7. Once completely melted begin dipping balls into the mixture. Work in small batches, taking about 15 out of the freezer at a time. Use a small plastic spoon and/or kebab stick for easy dipping.***
8. Once the balls have been dipped place on a wax paper lined tray to dry. Now is a good time to press a small candy into the center, if desired.
9. Let cool completely until shell is hardened.
10. Keep working in batches until complete.
11. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

* Creating a double boiler: Simply use a glass bowl that fits right in or slightly above your pan. Fill the bottom with about 1/2'' water and simmer lightly. The water should never touch the glass bowl. When in doubt, keep the heat lower than hotter.
** Do NOT stir bark with a metal spoon, it effects the heat differently
*** There are also special candy dipping devices you can purchase at specialty shops.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


Halloween is hands down, my favorite holiday. Making costumes, spooky food and drinks and of course, and all sorts of decorations inside and out! I wanted to share a few ideas I had, to help inspire others. Additionally, most of my projects were done at a reasonable budget & can be saved for many years. Below, I am showcasing my mantle project I finished yesterday...well, that is unless I decide to put fake spiderwebs up, which I may. Also, an inexpensive, but creepy "vampire blood" or "venom" how to.

Being creative is the only way to go to decorate for Halloween. You can make ordinary objects creepy in minutes, and turn old junk into new treasures. Here are three "finds" from Goodwill and how I transformed them:

Candle Holders - Before: 99 Cents Each

Candle Holder - After: 

Using just 1/4 can of Flat Black Krylon, these were totally transformed. I actually kind of think the top design looks like a tombstone now! I may drip some red "blood" on the candles, too. I also totally get why people use Krylon and not the cheaper forms of spray paint now. Sold!!! The quality is SO much better!

Vintage Tea Pot: $1.60. 20% Discount since it was broken & all taped together. 

This thing has to be worth some money, it has tons of Sterling Silver on it! 

Purple Potion Brewer - After: 

Purple Potion a brewin'

This was super simple to clean up. My husband is in the works of fixing the top handle part. It seems the glass has expanded or the sterling has contracted over time. Potion jar is filled with floral balls that you soak in water to make them expand, $1 at Walmart.

Miscellaneous Picture Frames: 99 cents - $1.99. 

After: 11"x17'' computer print of The Wolfman framed:

Mantle Display:

Ignore the fallen sash, our little black cat couldn't get enough of jumping at the center...

Detailed Portions:

1) Lantern - Goodwill find, 99 cents! Added my own candle.
2) Box elevated in back - simple cardboard box with Krylon draped in "Creepy Cloth" from Dollar Tree.
3) Another framed picture, 99 cent frame and matte from Goodwill

1) Cheese dome, turned skull saver, $1.99 at Goodwill, with 97 cent Walmart skull.
2) Ivory candle stick 99 cents - Goodwill  

Pretty awesome!

Some type of "swamp potion" in my book....Goodwill $1.49. Ohhh and the creepy Wolfman!

Vampire Blood & Venom Bottles:
This is an inexpensive and spooky way to use cool looking old jugs and bottles.  I'm in the process of making more...

Inexpensive jug filled with "blood"

Empty bottle filled with "venom"

How To & Materials:
- Light Corn Syrup, $2.12 for 36 oz at Walmart
- Wilton Food coloring - Walmart, under $2.50
- Mixing container
- Plastic wrap
- Wire whisk
- Funnel
- Black tape or original lid
- Empty "spooky" jars
- Water - optional*

Pour desired amount of corn syrup into a mixing container, preferably one with a pour spout, such as a pitcher. Add food coloring -1/2 teaspoon (approximately, you do not need to measure) to the syrup and begin whisking away until color is well blended. Add more if desired. For the "blood" I like to use a lot of coloring so it looks more realistic. *You can thin the corn syrup with a small amount of water if desired, but I will tell you, it does not look nearly as good as if you just use corn syrup. However, to "stretch" the syrup cost, you may choose to add water, which I have done in the past. I've added more syrup to both of my jugs this year. The red one probably has 2 1/2 bottles of corn syrup in it.

Happy Haunting!! 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Ravioli with Truffle Cream Sauce

Artichoke Ravioli with Truffle Cream Sauce 

This is a great sauce recipe I came up with for artichoke ravioli last Friday. The sauce could be used on any type of pasta noodle, or ravioli. My inspiration came from one of the best pastas I have ever eaten in my life in Florence, Italy in July, which was a truffle mushroom and ricotta ravioli with a truffle cream sauce ( I know, it was absolutely to die for!) This is the slightly lightened up, but still amazing, at home version. I served this with seared scallops (recipe in post below).

Artichoke Ravioli with Truffle Cream Sauce

1 package frozen, fresh prepared ravioli of choice. Good options might be vegetable, traditional ricotta or something similar.

2 c sliced mushrooms
1 bunch asparagus cut into 1 1/2'' pieces
1 bulb garlic, chopped
1/2 shallot diced
2 T olive oil
2 T truffle butter*
1 1/2 T truffle oil
1/4 cup light cream
1/4 white wine
1/2 lemon juiced
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

* If you can't find truffle butter, substitute 2T butter and add 1/2 tablespoon more truffle oil. I found the truffle butter at an Italian grocery store.

Sauté garlic and shallots in olive oil, cook 4 min., add asparagus, cook 5 min. Add white wine, mushrooms and lemon juice. Sautee on low until nearly ready to serve, stirring occasionally. Finally, add truffle butter, truffle oil and cream and combine well. Cook on low for a few minutes until warm. Salt and pepper to taste. Top ravioli with sauce and serve.