No Pots, No Pans, No Clean Up!

Spring is here!!! At least it's here in Nashville, and this is my favorite time of year in general, and definitely the best time to cook outside! Using your grill to make the entire meal is a fun, and different way to cook, and it saves you LOADS of clean-up time and dish washing detergent! All you need is tin foil, your chosen meats, veggies, and even fruits for desert (think grilled peaches)! After you're finished eating, all you have to do is toss the used foil!

Last night we made delicious steaks, as well as this yummy side dish of grilled mushrooms and onions. I just made a pouch out of foil by crossing two pieces of foil, perpendicular to one another, and then piled on the cleaned, stemmed, and quartered mushrooms first, then the sliced onions, then a few pads of butter, and topped off with salt and pepper. Close up the foil and add one more piece to secure the packet if needed. With the grill on medium-high, place the packet with the butter and onion side down- this will allow the flavor of the onions to steam up through the mushrooms, giving them great flavor. Leave the packet on the grill for about 15 minutes, flipping once, half way through. After the shrooms are cooked, just dump them onto a plate, toss the foil, and enjoy! Of course you can do this with any sort of veggies- bell peppers, squash, zucchini- just about anything your heart desires will be fantastic!

Also consider some less traditional grill-able items, such as tomatoes cut in half- cover them in a bit of olive oil, and season with salt and pepper- place the tomato on the grill for about 5 minutes, flipping once half way through. This will leave pretty grill marks, and a nice smokey flavor. Once the tomato is off the grill (or even better, during the last minute while it's still on the grill) top it with a slice of fresh mozzarella! YUM! Serve the tomato alongside your chicken or steak, and mushrooms! Delightful!


Alter Your Clothes

Basic A-Line to Flirty Bubble!
So right now might not be the time to go out and spend tons of money on new clothes, eh? Well how about reinvent your current wardrobe instead? Here's a really simple (and free) way to make a new garment out of an old one! I took this basic A-line skirt and transformed it into a flirty bubble skirt just by adding a few safety pins......take a basic skirt and lay it out on the floor so that the bottom of the skirt is spread evenly in a circle. Grab about 10-12 safety pins and pull the bottom hem of the skirt, and pin it up into the inside, creating a bubbly hem with each pin. Do this so that the pins are spread out evenly with roughly the same amount of space in between each. And you're done! This skirt is so cute, and it makes what might have been an old boring skirt into a flirty, and teensie bit flashy, skirt you can wear out on the weekend, feeling fabulous!


Bake and Bedazzle!

Ok, so I'm not much of a baker, I mean, seriously, you don't even want to know what the pumpernickel rolls I tried to make for Christmas turned out like- it was NOT pretty! But I love to bedazzle stuff, and anyone can throw together a boxed cake mix, jazz it up a little with a few extra ingredients to make it extra tasty, and then BEDAZZLE it to make it extra special! This was for my friend Kristie's birthday. I have seen this "present" motif on cakes done before, so I thought I'd give it a try. All you need to make a very cute, fun, special "present" cake for someone is:
  • Boxed cake mix (I used Pillsbury, extra moist- it has pudding in it to make it super moist!)
  • Any icing; I love Paula Deen's cream cheese icing (click here for the recipe)
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice (you can use other flavored extracts too, such as coconut, or orange- if you use an extract, just use about a teaspoon though)
  • Raspberry cake filling, or any other flavor of filling
  • Decorative elements- for this cake I found colorful chocolate-covered sunflower seeds at Marshalls- I know it sounds random, but Marshalls always has really fun, unexpected candies that can be used for projects like this)
  • A ribbon

So you just prepare the cake according to the instructions, adding the lemon juice into the final batter. Make sure to spray the inside of the pan, and then sprinkle with flour all around, and shake out the excess- this will ensure that after the cake is baked, it will come out of the pan easily. After it is baked, let it sit for at least 15 minutes to cool. Once it is cooled off, take whatever you're going to present the cake on (platter or cake stand), and turn it upside down on top of the cake pan, hold the presenting platter tightly to the cake pan, and flip so that the cake comes out in the middle of your platter. Take a serrated knife and carefully cut horizontally across the middle of the cake (if you're really crafty, you can make 2 cuts to give you a three-layer cake). Remove the top layer to a paper towel near by, careful not to break the layer. Then spread some of the raspberry filling on the bottom layer, leaving about 1/4 inch around the edges. Then replace the top layer. To ice the cake, take a nice icing spatula and spread the icing on all sides and the top. If you're getting little cake crumbles coming off the cake as you do this, just leave a thin layer, pop it in the fridge for about 30 minutes, and then finish it up. Putting it in the fridge for a bit will help chill the icing and seal those crumbs in their place so that when you come back to finish the icing, the rest will go on really smoothly.

For the decorative elements, I literally threw the sunflower seeds at the side of this cake in order to make them stick into the icing on all sides (ugh, gravity), which worked really well. Instead of using some sort of candy, you can also just use other colors of icing and make a pattern of some sort. Finally, for the bow....for this cake I just crafted a small bow for the top (these are easy to make if you have a glue gun!). In order to get the ribbon on the cake, I just laid a piece in one direction, centered it on the cake, and then used my icing spatula to gently shove the very ends of each side under the iced cake. Then I repeated going the other direction to make the cross. Finally, I put a dab of glue gun glue on the ribbon where the pieces intersected, and the placed the pre-made bow on top- voila!

This is a great crafty, foody project that anyone can do, and it's such a fun thing to have at a birthday party. Give it a whirl!