This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of the Pistachio Health Institute.
I’ve been trying to find nice, healthy alternatives to my friends’ typical gaming snacks over the past year or so. Cupcakes and chips are great, but if we’re going to be mindlessly munching on something, it might as well be healthy, right? So I was thrilled when the Pistachio Institute (did you know there was a Pistachio Institute?) wanted me to do a post on pistachios. Not only are they one of my favorite foods, but they’re fantastic snacks! Why are they so awesome, you ask?
- You get more nut for your buck. You get 49 pistachio kernels per ounce, compared to 23 almonds, 14 walnut halves and 18 cashews.
- Pistachios are good source of fiber, providing 12 percent of the daily value per 30 gram serving.
- You’re doing an activity while eating! Unshelling pistachios slows down the amount of food you’re eating while working out those very important finger muscles.
- Pistachios are delicious and can be worked into a variety of foods. I’ve had a delicious pistachio-encrusted chicken before, and I LOVE making pistachio cupcakes. (If you add something healthy into a cupcake, it makes the cupcake healthy. Right?)
Looking for more excuse to eat pistachios? Check out the infographic below, then enter the “Shine like the Stars” sweepstakes that the Pistachio Institute is running on their Facebook Page. You can win some sweet exercise gear from Valerie Waters (the trainer features in the infographic) as well as bags of pistachios and $100 VISA gift card (you know, to buy more pistachios.) Want other ideas for healthy gaming food? Check out my Pinterest Board!
This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of the Pistachio Health Institute.
I recently discovered that there’s a pound cake recipe (that may be fairly common in the South?) that uses 7Up as one of its main ingredients. As soon as I read it, I knew what I had to do. I got out my Mountain Dew and got to work.
This pound cake was the perfect thing to make on a gray winter day in Seattle. It’s warm, dense, sweet, and slightly citrusy, and when I close my eyes I can almost-maybe picture summer.
This was one of the first pound cakes I’ve ever made, and I see more in my future. I didn’t trust my ability to get it out in a beautiful fashion, so I kept it in the loaf pan. You can use loaf pans or bundt cake pans with this recipe, and if you did a better job than I, you may even be able to get it out and plate it all nice!
I think this’ll be the perfect game night treat. The taste is familiar, the cake is easy to eat, and it’s a step up from just Mountain Dew. Give it a try and let me know what you think!
Mountain Dew Pound Cake
- 3 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 3 cups sugar
- 5 eggs
- 1 TBS lemon juice
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp orange extract
- 3 cups flour
- ½ tsp baking soda
- ¼ tsp salt
- 7 oz. Mountain Dew
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease one bundt cake pan or two loaf pans with
oil. CORRECTION: Use butter and flour! The people in the comments are much smarter than me! Look at us, we’re learning together!
2. Cream butter until fluffy. Mix in sugar and beat until combined.
3. Add in eggs one at a time, mixing after each addition. Add in lemon juice, vanilla, and orange extract. Mix.
4. In a separate bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, and salt.
5. Alternate adding small amounts of the flour and Mountain Dew into the wet mixture, mixing slightly to combine in between each. When all ingredients are added, mix to combine (without overmixing).
6. Place batter in the bundt pans or divided between the two loaf pants and bake for around one hour (or until golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean).
7. Let the pans cool and either remove the cake, or slice right from the pan.
There you have it! A delicious, Mountain Dew-y pound cake.
Do you have experience with pound cake? Any favorite recipes? Teach me!
How cute are these Minecraft cookie cutters?
ThinkGeek just announced this set of 5 cookie cutters. You get a pickaxe, sword, player, cookie, and creeper all wrapped up in a Minecraft-themed tin. While the creeper is cool because of the cutout in the middle, my favorite shape is the cookie. Make your best sugar cookie recipe, use the Minecraft cookie cutter, and as the cookies come out of the oven and are still warm, stick some square chocolate chunks into them. They’ll look and taste like the chocolate chip image you’re used to seeing! Talk about awesome presentation for a game night.
The Minecraft cookie cutter set is $19.99 at ThinkGeek.
Yesterday I spent the entire day only doing things found on Pinterest Pins. I wanted to see if I would turn into one of those perfect people you always imagine when going through Pinterest–you know, perfect huge house, rustic accents, perfectly layered clothing with cute makeup and nicely braided hair. Mason jars everywhere. Makes their own organic EVERYTHING. Spoiler alert, I didn’t turn into that. But I did learn a couple of cool new recipes and tricks that I can start adding into my normal life! Here’s a list of everything I did as well as links to the pins (so you can add them to your own board!):
Breakfast: 3 Ingredient Pancakes
The reason I’m not a fan of normal pancakes is because it has a lot of carbs/sugar and lacks protein. These seemed like the perfect solution. They’re only made with bananas, peanut butter, and eggs (and a dash of cinnamon, if you’d like). They started off a bit stickier and more difficult to turn than your average pancakes, but they ended up looking and tasting like the real thing. You’ve gotta like peanut butter and bananas because the taste is strong, but I really enjoyed them. Would make again!
Workout: 7-Minute HIIT Workout
Who knew you could get so sweaty and out of breath in seven minutes? This workout kicked my butt. It recommends you do the full circuit a couple times, but once was good enough for me. It’s the next day and I’m SORE.
DIY: Sugar Cookie Scrub
I love body scrubs and I love cookies, so this one seemed like a no-brainer. The creator mentions it’s a foot scrub, but there’s no reason you can’t use it elsewhere. The ingredients are all things you probably already have in your pantry: white sugar, brown sugar, vanilla extract, and olive oil. I would reduce the amount of olive oil you use to 1/3 cup, and make sure it doesn’t have a super strong smell. Other than that, I loved this DIY. It feels and smells delicious and may end up being a Christmas gift for some of my friends. I used the scrub in the shower, and ended up with olive oil on my hands when I washed my hair. My hair was SO smooth and wonderful when I got out of the shower–my comb went through it really easily without me having to use any detangler spray/leave-in conditioner! More proof olive oil is magical.
Outfit: Plaid, Pearls, Boots, and Layers
I pinned a couple outfits for inspiration, but drew more on the basics I see on Pinterest all the time. Boots, skinny jeans, a plaid shirt underneath a crew neck sweater, and pearls. I learned I have no basic crew neck sweaters and need a new plaid shirt. But hey, I did what I could with what I had!
Hair: Fishtail Braid
I first attempted to do one of the Game of Thrones hairstyles, but realized that it looked a little fancy for my outfit. Instead, I took the opportunity to learn how to do a fishtail braid with a Pinterest tutorial. It took me a couple tries, but I finally understood what the tutorial was saying and was able to do it! It was a nice, easy (once I learned) hairstyle that I will definitely replicate in the future.
Makeup: Light Pink Smoky Eye and Bright Lips
I loved the makeup picture I pinned and did my best to do it justice with colors that would work for my outfit. I still love the look I pinned better than my own, but I don’t think I did too horribly! It was fun to get to play around with different colors and styles on my eyes than I normally do.
Lunch: Homemade Crunch Wrap Supremes
I pinned this recipe on my “Fun Food” board a while ago and had wanted to try it for forever. Mr. Geek enjoys Taco Bell’s Crunch Wrap Supremes and I thought it would be a fun surprise to make it at home. We LOVED it. It was pretty easy to make and a whole lot healthier when you control your own ingredients! (I was starving and apparently forgot to take pics! Whoops!)
Party: Pinterest Potluck
I invited some Pinterest and food-loving friends over for a Pinterest Potluck. Everyone was asked to bring a dish that they made from a Pinterest pin. It allowed some of them to try things they’ve pinned a long time ago, and others to try Pinterest for the first time. We had a really fun mix of food and I would call everyone’s recipe at least some degree of success. I’ve listed them all below with a link to the pin so you can try them at home! (Let’s just say we all went home stuffed and a few pounds heavier.)
- Princess Punch
- Buckeye Brownies (Top Left)
- Ancient Roman Nut Tart
- Spaghetti cooked inside Hot Dogs
- Bacon-Wrapped Sausage (Top Center)
- Mini Cinnamon Monkey Rolls (Top Right)
- Curried Pork Cups (Bottom Center)
- Garlic Rosemary French Fries with Aioli Dipping Sauce
- BLT Tea Sandwiches (Bottom Left)
- Bacon Cheeseburger Dip (Bottom Right)
- Crock Pot Blueberry Cobbler
- Pizza Cupcakes
- Caramel Oreo Cupcake Cheesecakes
Dinner: Lasagna Rolls
I made lasagna rolls for my contribution to the Pinterest Potluck. I’ve been wanting to try lasagna rolls for a while and thought this would be a good chance! They were delicious! They work better as a sit-down dinner meal than a potluck meal (they’re messy and not as good when they’re cold), but they still went fast.
Dessert: Cake Batter Cookies
I prefer cake to cookies, but if I had to eat a cookie, eating one made from cake batter doesn’t seem like a bad way to go. These cookies are super bright and cute (thanks to all the sprinkles) and they taste almost like a sugar cookie, but with a softer, slightly more cakey texture. The only thing that would make it better would be a bit of frosting on top!
Bonus: Mason Jars
Mason Jars are ALL over Pinterest, so I felt it was necessary to do everything I could with the jars during the day. Mr. Geek and I both drank water out of them all day, I used one to contain the sugar scrub, I put candles in some for the party, and encouraged others to drink out of some as well. It was my first encounter with mason jars (other than seeing them used for the actual purpose of storing jams) and was actually pretty enlightening. Guys, you can do a lot of things with mason jars! But just because you can doesn’t necessarily mean you should.
Are you a Pinterest fan? Do you have pins you’ve wanted to try but haven’t? I encourage you to set up your own Pinterest Day or Pinterest Potluck! Share some of your fave pins in the comments! And check out my Pinterest Day Board for all of the pins!
Why give a friend a gift of teas or olive oils when instead you can give them their own olive tree or tea garden? This is the concept of Nudo: you can adopt a tree or garden and receive a seasonal selection from your own adoptee. I’ve written about Nudo in the past and have loved checking up on the company. (I mean, how cool would it be to tell your friends the story of the exact tree your oil is from?) This holiday season, they’ve expanded their olive tree selection and added Darjeeling Tea Gardens.
I had the pleasure of sampling their new Sicilian Feudo Giulfo single-estate extra-virgin olive oil as well as their Darjeeling Tea, and oh my gosh you guys, the stuff is good. The olive oil is spicy, fruity, and so good on its own with a bit of bread. The Golden Harvest tea was indeed golden in color and tasted like the ultimate cup of tea. This is the stuff tea parties are made of.
If you’re looking for a fun, unique gift for someone that loves food or tea, or cares greatly about where their food comes from, Nudo is for you. And because they’re so awesome, they’re giving away a tea adoption! You’ll receive an adoption certificate from your tea garden and a shipment of the Golden Harvest Darjeeling loose leaf tea. Enter using the rafflecopter below:
Sous vide is one of those things I’ve always wanted to try, but assumed I’d never be able to. For those uninitiated, sous vide consists of cooking food in water at a low temperature (less than boiling). Many items are placed in vacuum-sealed bags and may need to cook for a couple hours. To do it successfully, you need to be able to have water continuously circulating and always at the same temperature.
This is where Nomiku comes in. Nomiku is a super easy, well designed gadget that allows you to sous vide at home. You just need the Nomiku, a large pot, and whatever you want to put in it. The Nomiku even comes with basic instructions and information on sous vide so anyone can get started.
I received a Nomiku to try, and I have to say, it sat in its box for a week or so. I was afraid. Would I be able to sous vide? Would I like what was made? Do I need to know how to plate things all fancy, like in the video? But I took it out and tried it last night, and I absolutely love it. I started simple with eggs (sous vide eggs are something many people talk about. If you’re looking for perfectly cooked eggs, this is the way to do it). The great thing about eggs is that they don’t need a vacuum sealed bag, since they’re in the shell! (And sous vide poached eggs are much easier than the traditional because they can stay in their shell.)
I set the Nomiku to 64°C, placed the eggs in the pot, and waited for an hour. When they were done, I cracked them onto a toasted english muffin. The egg itself was beautiful. The yolk was nearly set, and looked like a gorgeous yellow jewel. The egg white was fairly runny but kept a tiny bit of its shape. Everything about the eggs were consistent and delicious.
Mr. Geek and I are already plotting what we’ll try next. We’re wanting to do some steak soon, as well as try their recipe for “Deep Fried Egg Yolks.” And I may play around with scrambled eggs and also compare sous vide hard boiled eggs to traditional hard boiled eggs on the stove. I’ll slowly work my way up to fancy dishes and pretty plating, but for now I’m eating my projects quicker than I can plate them. 😉
If you’re interested in this cooking style, you should pre-order a Nomiku now for $299.95. Not sure if you’d like sous vide? Attend the Nomiku event this Sunday, November 17th in Seattle. Two Nomiku Kickstarter backers will be going head-to-head Top Chef style to make the best sous vide dish. You’ll be able to see the Nomiku in action and try the food! I’ll be there.
Have you tried sous vide? What should I make with my Nomiku next?
While a handful of fun size candy bars will always be an acceptable gift in this home, there are some items out there that will rock the socks off of your average Halloween treat. If you’re looking to impress your party attendees or want a fun and creepy host/hostess gift, I’d recommend one (or more) of these fun and spooky treats that are perfect for All Hallows Eve.
These white chocolate crispy bars are green with a blood red “Bite Me” message on top. It’s a perfect gift for anyone who loves zombies (or anyone you’ve always wanted to say “Bite Me” to!). The bars were recently featured on the Food Network. It’s pretty cool to see how they’re made! Get 10% off your order with code “GEEKGIRL10″. Pack of 4 for $19.95.
Freak your friends out with these spider lollipops that look a lot more scary than they are! Instead of a spider, you’ll actually just be eating a cotton candy lollipop. That’s not so bad! Pack of 6 for $15.
This ground gremlin meat from Dylan’s Candy Bar is actually 2 pounds of Strawberry licorice laces. Delicious! 2 pounds for $14.99.
Complete your zombie costume with these fruit punch flavored lollipops. Or give them to someone whose brain you love. 6 for $9.99.
Lastly, protect your loved ones and your breath with these silver bullet mints. Guaranteed to keep werewolves away! (Well, people who have eaten these have never been seen with a werewolf.) Tin of 45 mints for $2.50.
Are you planning any fun gifts for Halloween?
I attended the Trophy Cupcakes Book Launch Party over the weekend, and was in awe of how many ways they displayed cupcakes throughout the event. They were all beautiful and a lot of them were pretty unique! Here are some of my favorite bits of cupcake inspiration taken from the event. Keep them in mind for your next party:
Display Your Cupcakes Proudly
DIY Cupcake Station
This “Decorate Your Own Cupcake” station was a super cute idea, and was clearly being used. Keep in mind: If your party has a lot of kids (or childlike adults), this station will get super messy and most people will focus on quantity of sprinkles over quality.
Gold Frosted Fruit
A piece of fruit sprayed gold with edible spray paint is an elegant way to top a cupcake. This would be fantastic for a wedding or fancier event!
Cotton Candy/Cupcake Collaboration
Spun skewered a mini cupcake on a fork and used that to spin the cotton candy onto. It was a super fun and creative element. A bit messy to eat, but still fun!
Decorate with Cupcakes
Cupcakes don’t just need to be used to feed the masses–they can also be used to decorate the party! Just find a fun container to put them in. (Tip: If it can hold a candle or an air plant, it can hold a mini cupcake!)
Have you done any creative cupcakeing at parties in the past? Let me know in the comments!
Britt, a good friend of mine and blogger at BlondeNerd.com, just had her first salad last night. I know, I don’t believe it either. She refuses to go near lettuce and has avoided salads all her life. I told her that one day I would convert her by taking her favorite meal, Hot Wings, and turning it into a healthy, leafy dish.
Yesterday was that day. With the help of Whole Foods and their Whole Kids Foundation, I created a recipe to encourage more people to eat salads. And if I can get Britt to eat more veggies, I can get ANYONE to. According to Whole Foods, “replacing one meal a day for a salad could translate into the reduction of 100 calories per day. That’s 10 pounds in one year! ” So my thinking is: Let’s take some of our favorite unhealthy foods and turn them into slightly-less-unhealthy salads. We still get the flavors we crave while also getting our daily veggie requirements and filling up on less fattening ingredients. Guess my next challenge is to create a cupcake salad…
Anyway, back to the recipe! Behold: A salad even Britt will eat.
“Hot Wing” Salad (serves 4)
- 2 Boneless, Skinless, Chicken Breasts
- Canola Oil
- 1/2 cup Hot Sauce (I used Bella’s Hot Wing Sauce)
- 3 Romaine Hearts
- 1/2 cup Shredded Carrots
- 3 stalks Celery
- 1/4 cup Blue Cheese Dressing
- 1/4 cup crumbled Blue Cheese
- 2 Green Onion stalks
Slice the raw chicken breasts in half horizontally to make four thin breasts. Season both sides with a bit of salt, pepper, and paprika.
Pour some canola oil into a frying pan (a little more than you would normally use) and let heat up on medium-high heat.
Place the chicken breasts in the pan and let cook for a few minutes on both sites (until inside is not pink and outside is browned).
Place the cooked breasts in a dish, and cover with hot sauce. Flip the breasts over and make sure both sides are fully coated. Place aside.
Chop the romaine hearts and celery and place into a large bowl. Add the shredded carrots.
Add 1/4 cup of Blue Cheese Dressing (or more or less as your tastes prefer) to the salad and toss until evenly coated.
Place the salad evenly onto four plates.
Sprinkle crumbled blue cheese on top of the salads.
Slice the chicken breasts and place one on top of the crumbled blue cheese. Garnish with green onions.
Serve with additional dressing and hot sauce as tastes prefer.
Measurements are all able to be messed with: If you like more or less of something in your salad, go for it!
The beer expert at my local Whole Foods recommended the following beers to be paired with the salad:
- Laurelwood Brewing Co: Organic Free Range Red Ale
- Double Mountain Vaporizer (dry-hopped pale ale)
What do you think? Would you eat a “hot wing” salad? What other unhealthy dishes should I try to convert into a salad?
If you feel inspired to help kids eat more salads, visit wholekidsfoundation.org or make a donation next time you’re at Whole Foods!
Whole Foods provided me with a gift certificate to create this salad as well as information about their Whole Kids Foundation. Thank you, Whole Foods!
I attended the media event for the new Trophy Cupcakes and Parties book yesterday, and holy cow. I am blown away. I own my fair share of cookbooks, cupcake books, and party books, but this is my new go-to.
First off, it’s written by the amazing Jennifer Shea. Not only is she the founder of Trophy Cupcakes, but she’s also a beautiful, sweet, charismatic person with an amazing sense of style–she’s the type of person everyone either wants to be or befriend. I had a fantastic time meeting her when we worked on the Hunger Games Cupcake video and I always look forward to seeing what new beautiful cupcake or project she’ll announce.
Second, the book is just BEAUTIFUL. Rina Jordan did a fantastic job with the photography and the styling of the photos and the book as a whole makes you feel like you’re at a charming and whimsical party and leaves you inspired to create one yourself.
Third, the book holds so much great information. Not only does it include tons of recipes for popular Trophy cupcakes (and fantastic tips and tricks on how to frost cupcakes like the pros!), but it also includes decoration, craft and activity ideas as well as other recipes, all broken up in adorable party theme ideas. There are parties for adults, kids, babies, and everyone in between. I love the Andy Warhol-inspired Pop Art Party, the “Superhero Training Camp” Party and the Life Aquatic Party meant for a baby’s First Birthday.
Or, if you’re in the Seattle area this weekend, you can pick up your book at the Trophy Book Launch Celebration. Cupcakes, champagne, an amazing book, a dance floor, and me? You know you want to. You can get your tickets here. If you decide to attend, let me know so I can say “Hi” in between bites of cupcake!
Now I’m off to practice my piping skills and study up on methods of cupcake-making.