Recipe Box: Cream Cheese Pie

Check out this yummy recipe in the Recipe Box, a modified version from the Paula Deen!


Recipe Box: Baptism Cookies

Check out my newest cookie creations at the Recipe Box !



{Pssst: Check out the Recipe Box for my latest sugar cookie results! Happy Weekend!}


A License for Registration

As I mentioned before, many of my friends are taking the plunge, gettin' hitched, tying the knot (hehe). I love hearing about all of the festivities and the mile-long to-do lists, but my favorite part is the registering! I always want to know what people registered for and what they want to get the most. I think it is so much fun--binge shopping for everything you want, and then walking away without having to buy it all. Eh, who cares if you don't get any of it (well, maybe ya few pieces....?). Really though, we are still so grateful for our wedding gifts, and every time I use something we received, I remember who got it for us, and it makes me smile. I'm not kidding--every time I use it :) Go ahead...Quiz me! Allison and Loo - artisan cake stand, Linds - quiche dish, Carolyn and Rick - amazing wooden salad bowl, Matt and Jo - bath towels ...See! I do remember :) And no, I am not referencing a gift list!

I smile REALLY big when I use an item that I love though, you know, those items that you can't wait to register for and then can't wait to get once you do register for them?! If I had to recommend one item for my engaged friends to register for, I would laugh and recommend 10! Here is my list of the top ten things we use from our registry, or for better or worse, I couldn't imaging living without!

10. CorningWare Portable Oblong Dish (Thanks, Shannon!) 9. Red Wine Glass, mine are cobalt blue (Thanks, Myers Fam!) 8. Craftsman Cordless Drill (Thanks Grandma and Grandpa Dill!) 7. Staccatto Everyday Ware from Crate and Barrel (Thanks again, Myers'!) 6. Cuisinart Griddler (Thanks various giftcard and cash givers!) 5. Cuisinart Grind and Brew Coffee Maker (Thanks John & Florence Duty!) 4. Cuisinart Mini Prep Plus Food Processor (Thanks, Janan and Bob Kline!) 3. OXO Good Grips Angled Measuring Cups (Thanks co-worker Alan!) 2.  Lenox Pearl Platinum China (Too many people to mention - Rach/Molly, Aunt Millie, and many more) 1. KitchenAid Artisan Stand Mixer in Red (Thanks again, Dill Grandparents! This is my absolute FAVE!)

Told ya! I could go at this all day!


Cross My Heart

There is something about a cross-body bag that just speaks to me -- the hands-free functionality and casualness of it all. I originally started searching for a good cross-body bag for toting my camera gear, here, but man was I surprised at all of the cute designs available--from high to low! Summer time is perfect for this style and I just love all of these bags (some more affordable than other others!).Aren't they great? I will take one of each, please!


Sinful Chocolate Cupcakes, From Hershey's

Check out the Recipe Box for this chocolatey goodness in the form of a yummy cupcake.


Organic Mushroom Ravioli - Fresh and Fast

Head on over to the Recipe Box for a fast and yummy dish - I think the whole meal took MAYBE 20 minutes. And it was perfect for just us two!


Weddings Galore!

April was a big month for weddings, at least for planting the seed that blooms into a bunch of beautiful weddings! It seems like so many of my good friends got engaged this month (three to be exact), and there are a few others who are well into their engagement. It is an exciting time, I know. Decisions to make, cake to taste, dresses to try on... I have to admit it was fun when we were planning our wedding, but I am kind of glad it is over and we can watch all of the magic happen (from the sidelines now) for our friends!

My friend Sarah loves J. Crew and I am quite a fan myself. I don't buy a lot of their stuff because I never seem to make it past Nordstrom (hehe). But one thing that I really love about J. Crew is their bridesmaid dresses. I have loved their style since before I was engaged and their collections just keep bringin' it. My friend Rach picked this dress for her bridesmaids and it is simple but classic in silk chiffon, and oh so beautiful.

And the color she chose makes this dress - Spiced Wine!

I just love weddings! And while we are on the topic of weddings, check out Snippet & Ink or 100 Layer Cake, or heck - any of these great wedding blogs/sites for ideas on the big day...or maybe even a fab bridal shower!

The Inspired Bride, The Wedding Chicks, Bird in a Cage Bride, Jeune Marie


Recipe Box: Frosted Animal Cookies

Head on over to the Recipe Box and check out my newest cookie creations: Frosted Animal Cookies for my nephew's first birthday party, and some tips and tricks for decorating. These cookies are so cute!


Hobby...or Obsession?

A hobby is defined as "an activity or interest pursued for pleasure or relaxation and not as a main occupation." Hobbies come in all shapes and sizes {stamp collecting / blogging / building model airplanes? flying airplanes...?}, genres {scrapbooking / sewing / sports / games} and financial obligations {shopping / cooking / collecting shoes, to name a few!}.

I suppose I have a few hobbies, but by definition {...pleaseure ...relaxation}, I guess I really only have one - taking pictures. I love my camera and I love snapping pictures. I think those who know me are very aware of that. I guess taking pictures has really always been a hobby, but I have gotten pretty obsessed serious about it over the past few years {landmark moment - studying abroad and traveling through Spain and to Rome made for some amazing photo opportunities}. Now, some of my favorite subjects to capture on 'film' are my pup Tess, my nephew Jackson, the Texas landscape, flowers, food, and old buildings. I suppose that last one carried over from the Europe trip...

A hobby often requires one to spend some money {sometimes lots of money} to continue to pursue their hobby, and photography is certainly no exception. I have tried very hard to search for deals on lenses, filters, etc. etc., so it hasn't completely taken over my bank account, but the great thing about photography is that with the push toward digital, it has become more feasible for us non-professionals to obtain tools and gadgets that allow for some great photos, and a very satisfying hobby.

I love that you can now buy trendy camera bags, straps, and lenscap holders. And I LOVE that there are so many people in the blog/internet world that are willing to share tips and tricks on photography and editing photos in Photoshop {the program I use}. It makes my hobby a lot more doable, less stressful, and enjoyable. If any of you love taking pictures as much as I do, or even at all, here are some resources that I use to maintain my obsession hobby.

This new camera strap I got for my Canon DSLR {love it!} makes snapping pics more comfortable {padding}, functional {lenscap holder built in}, and trendy {just look at this fun pattern}. Unfortunately, I did not see this exact pattern when I ordered, so mine has the leaf circles on one side and black and white polka dots on the other (no cute yellow birdies), but I still love it! :

These sites have some great tips on taking photos and/or editing them in Photoshop:

Hubbard's Camera
Vandelay Design
Pioneer Woman

I would love love LOVE to get a trendy camera bag for all of my lenses and everything, and these TOP my list, from Kelly Moore:

The B-HOBO Bag in Mustard {a long strap is essential for a no-hassle transport}

The Kelly Moore Bag in Grey {again, with the wonderful strap}

Anyone onsessed with photo-taking, like me? Have any other sites/blogs/stores for this photography-lover to check out?


Recipe Box: Tomato, Mozzarella and Basil Sandwich

My husband and I made this sandwich on Saturday and it was simply delicious. All of the fresh ingredients really make this sandwich. Head on over to the Recipe Box to check it out!


Recipe Box: Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

Check out the recipe box for a yummy {and very very healthy} recipe for Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups - yum!


Spring has Sprung, In Texas That Is

After that last post, fish tacos, I swear the weather gods must have been amused because the hot weather has arrived! Aside from a few rain showers {because what's Houston without humidity to add to the heat?}, the weather has been a great change from the chilly mess. So, in appreciation, my husband and I went to Escalante's last night and had Tex-Mex on the patio, with a few Coronas in hand. It was heavenly. Of course, I wanted a large margarita {on the rocks, no salt please}, but Puerto Vallarta is but weeks away {okay, maybe more like 11 weeks...} but I have to stay strong if I plan to be in swimsuit-form! Even though I passed on a sinful margarita, I did get some emails and catalogs from Crate and Barrel lately and I LOVE their new stuff. Check out this great Calypso Citron set - perfect for a 'rita!

Citron Pitcher - $24.95

Citron Summer Drink Glass/Margarita Glass - $7.95

I actually have this set from a few years ago, in cobalt blue. The pitcher is so pretty and the summer glasses are perfect for sangria, ritas, beer...you name it! I really want it in 'Citron' now though, with the cute margarita glasses  :)  Oh wishful thinking...

Check out these other great items from Crate and Barrel {all of which are on my wishlist}:

Sorrento Dinner Plates - $19.95 set/$5.95 each


Sunshine Pedestal - $29.95
Ruffle Chargers in Green, Set of 4 - $14.95

Dahlia Flower Napkin rings - 2.95each


Recipe Box: Tacos Pescado

Check out the Recipe Box for a yummy Fish Taco recipe!


Spring Things

I am beyond ready for warmer weather. In Texas, we are not used to this yucky weather in March, especially not snow and ice and stuff. Houston {thankfully} hasn't seen anymore snow since early December, but the weather is unpredictable to say the least and I am eagerly anticipating warmer weather, longer days, and all of the wonderful things that go with that.

As I posted earlier, we are going to Mexico in May and I have been keeping track of all the things I need want to get for the trip. I will undoubtedly shop a few malls to see what bargains I can find, but on a typical trip to Target last week, I found some great casual stuff at great prices and thought I would share. I went ahead and got a few things; Target usually runs out of my size pretty quick once the general public decides to start buying the newest items, and if I wait then I am stuck envying my friends' great finds :( Here are the items I snatched up so I can cross some of the things off of my list:

Target also has some other great stuff right now that I am still eyeing; I just haven't made the purchases yet! I love their new line of shoes, casual dresses, and cover-ups!

I would definitely check out Target this week though, because some of these prices are only good through the weekend! Happy shopping :)


Fab Find - Decorating Gadgets

I just love well-presented food. Something about clean lines and garnishes make me excited to tear into a yummy-looking treat. Don't get me wrong, sometimes abstract and messy can look very cool, and taste even better, but I like to make something home-made -- say, deviled eggs, twice-baked potatoes, pies, cakes or cupcakes -- and give them a professional-looking finish. I have a few tools that make it all happen, so today they are featured as my FAB FINDS, and quite frankly, I couldn't cook without them.

First on the list, the Decorator (or decorator pump, it has many names). My mom gave me the one from The Pampered Chef a few years ago, and I will never again make my signature deviled eggs without this wonderful contraption. It actually makes the process quicker, cleaner, and you are sure to get the right amount of filling in each egg.

I also use this tool for icing cupcakes or filling twice-baked potatoes. You just need to be sure to use the right tip. A wider decorating tip allows the thicker filling (eggs, potatoes) to not get clogged. Some come with very cool tips too, so you can go nuts when decorating cookies or cupcakes.

And next, we have a tool that I have only recently discovered at a trip to Sur La Table, the Squeeze Decorator Bottles. I don't know about you, but these things totally remind me of the puff-paint I used as a kid to decorate my Keds or my sweatshirts with neon paint. They were perfect for writing and doodling and stuff. Anyways, I think this is a great concept for decorating cookies and the such, especially when you need several colors or smaller quantities. Who wants to waste an icing bag on a few tbs of icing? These little bottles are popping up everywhere, and I am going to buy them the next chance I get (especially after decorating those sugar cookies a few weeks ago).

So no matter which item you choose (I would choose both!), you will be sure to have amazing-looking dishes that everyone will want to try.  



Sole Mate

My husband and I (along with about a half dozen other friends/family) have signed up to participate in the Rodeo Run 5k or 10k this weekend in downtown Houston. We have been working on successfully completing the 6 mile trek, without passing out, and are doing quite well in our training efforts if I do say so myself (for a bunch of non-runners). My husband went and bought new Nikes for the event a few months ago and has been telling me that I need to go get some new running shoes (I am notorious for keeping my running shoes for years...I dont like change). I am by nature a Nike girl, committed ever since I bought my first pair of Nike Shocks in 2003. They seemed to be the only shoes that gave me support with all my knee problems. Plus, they looked super cute too :) I have been running in my other pair of Nikes and they are horrible, so yesterday I caved and went to Luke's Locker to get fitted and tested for good running shoes. That was quite an experience! They check out your foot, watch you walk and run, fit you in several shoes, and make you walk/run again all until you are matched with your perfect pair.

I have always thought that Asics were a runner's best bud, but I tried on Mizunos, Sauconys and a few others and ended up getting these by Mizuno, and love them!

I also got the Nike + Plus piece for my iPod, so that I could track my miles, calories, etc. I really enjoy having it because I am the kind of runner that needs some motivational points. Having a voice come over my workout jam telling me "You have reached 3 miles at a pace of...", that motivates me to keep going. To me, there is nothing worse than running aimlessly through our neighborhood, without any real indication of distance, so I can go home and say to my husband "I ran like 5 miles today. Must have been, it was hard" and then he looks at mapmyrun.com (which is great by the way) only to find that I ran 3.5 miles or whatever :( So that did it for me - I bought the Nike + Plus and it is great motivation and encouragement. And since I do not have Nikes now, I bought a little pouch that goes on my shoelaces that holds the censor, so now I have the best of both worlds!

I will be sure to let you know how we do this weekend, although I am really just hoping to finish :)


Head over to the Recipe Box to check out an easy cheesy alfredo recipe - yum!

And the Photography page has officially kicked off. Let's get clickin'!


Travel Planning Woes

We are planning our trip to Puerto Vallarta and it hit me that this is the first 'international' trip that we have planned on our own. When we studied abroad, that was all planned out for us, as was our honeymoon (we have a great travel agent). So I didnt even know where to turn...internet search engines? Book through the resort itself? Use our travel agent? Well when it was all said and done, I found some great deals online and sent them over to the travel agent to see if she could offer us something comparable (I like the idea of going through her versus paying a website--eek!). So if anyone has suggestions on booking a trip like this -- whether you used Expedia.com, Travelocity.com, your destination's website, an agent, or your own trusty skills -- share with me, please! :)


Ready to Launch!

Welcome, welcome! I have been dreaming of doing a blog like this since I created our family blog a little while back -- somewhere to share my favorite finds, fads, recipes, photography tricks (since I am learning like crazy) -- so here it is: Sassy Southern Housewife! I figured that summed me up pretty well (among other things, I'm sure....). So, let's get started:

I was waiting to post a good first entry and since Valentine's wasn't too long ago, I decided to share this AMAZING sugar cookie recipe (perfect for iced cookies) and an accompanying royal icing recipe. For future recipe posts, they can be found in my recipe link. Just look for the Recipe Box icon.

First thing's first though - sharing with you a truly fabulous find, which helped me immensely in this cookie-making process:

The BeaterBlade
An attachment for your stand mixer (most major brands) that scrapes the bowl as it mixes!

I love this fab find! My KitchenAid is used about 98% of the time for baking, and I always have to stop the mixing process to scrape the bowl. This little contraption totally eliminates that hassle, scraping the bowl for you! Love love love it :) I tried to find it at Williams Sonoma but they were out (with no hopes of getting more) so I found this one at Sur La Table for about $25. A little steep I suppose, but it will serioiusly come in handy!

Now for the cooking....I read the Bake at 350 blog pretty often to get great inspiration for my baked goods, and since she specializes in decorative cookies I thought it only appropriate to use her sugar cookie recipe. You can tell it has been tweaked and is absolutely perfect for cookies for decorating - sturdy, tasty, beautiful color.

Vanilla-Almond Sugar Cookies

3 c unbleached, all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 c sugar (I use sugar that I've stored vanilla beans in)
2 sticks butter
1 egg
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp pure almond extract

Preheat oven to 350. Combine the flour and baking powder, set aside.


Cream the sugar and butter. Add the egg and extracts and mix.

Gradually add the flour mixture and beat just until combined, scraping down the bowl, especially the bottom (unless you have the BeaterBlade! Look at that clean bowl!).

Roll onto a floured surface and cut into shapes.

Place on parchment lined baking sheets and bake for 10-12 minutes.

Let sit a few minutes on the sheet, then transfer to a cooling rack.

Now the royal icing, that was a bit of an internal conflict for me. See, my family makes homemade Christmas cookies and icing every year, and this year I did royal icing instead of the usual 'powdered sugar and water' mix. I LOVED it, and it worked very well. So when I came across a few other recipes requiring meringue powder instead of egg whites, I got nervous. I decided to try out the meringue powder recipe, just for comparison's sake, and it turned out just fine. My only issues - less flavor, and the meringue powder is probably not likely to be hanging out in your pantry. So here is the recipe I prefer, compliments of the Food Network:

2 large egg whites
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
Food coloring, if desired

With an electric mixer, beat the egg whites with the lemon juice or extract until frothy. Add the sifted powdered sugar and beat on low speed until combined, smooth, and shiny. Turn to high and beat approximately 5 minutes till stiff and glossy. Add food coloring, if desired, and transfer to a pasty bag to pipe onto cookies.

And here is the recipe that I used:

3 3/4 c. powdered sugar, sifted
4 TBSP meringue powder
scant 1/2 c. water
With your trusty mixer, beat the meringue powder and water until frothy.
I gradually added the sifted powdered sugar, beating on low.
Once all of the powdered sugar is incorporated, beat on high for five minutes until stiff peaks begin to form. A good rule of thumb - the icing should stand up on the edge of the beater.
Put the icing into a bowl if you plan to use food coloring to change the color. If not, you can put it directly in an icing bag. If using food coloring, make sure that the icing is covered with a damp cloth as to prevent drying and solidifying.
Now, you can decorate the cookies however you want!  I did some piping (using an icing bag and some ziploc baggies with a hole cut in the corner....what? They both work!). I also attempted some 'flooding' - filling in the outline with icing that has been slightly watered down so that it spreads quicker. They were  so much fun that I even made some butterflies for my sister's birthday.
I hope you store these recipes away in your recipe box, and maybe consider getting yourself a BeaterBlade; you could be whipping up some great looking (and tasting) cookies in no time!

Thanks for checking out the Sassy Southern Housewife! Enjoy!