Thursday, November 29, 2012

The 12 Days of Christmas Indulgences - 2012

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! December 1st is in two days, which means Christmas is only 25 days away. Christmas is my favorite holiday because it means lots of time spent with family and friends, beautiful decorations, twinkle lights, oh yeah and lots of cookies, candies, and treats.

Join me for the 2nd annual PammiCakes 12 Days of Christmas Indulgences.  Starting on Saturday, December 1st, I will be sharing 12 holiday recipes with you. These recipes could include cookies, drinks, breads and other types of treats that we all love to indulge in.  So get your cookie sheets ready, your mixing bowls in order and your Christmas sprinkles organized, because we are going to be doing so serious baking, drinking and indulging over the next 12 days in preparation for the holiday. {Well it really isn’t serious; it will be lots of fun}
So join me starting tomorrow to prepare for the Christmas holiday season!

To see the 2011 PammiCakes 12 Days of Christmas Indulgences, follow the links below for each day.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Lentil Stew Recipe

Sitting down to the dinner table with a steaming bowl of hearty soup after a long, cold day is extremely satisfying.  Soup is one of my favorite things to eat in the fall and winter.  The temperature is starting to drop here in the northeast and I am on a mission to find some new soup recipes.  My sister introduced me to this lentil stew, and I am so glad she did.

This lentil stew is flavored with warm cinnamon and cumin spices that create a comforting meal.  This spice combination for the stew was a welcomed changed from the typical chicken noodle soup or tortellini soup.  This recipe serves six, so my husband and I were lucky enough to freeze two additional portions for future dinners after a long day of work.  This stew froze well and tasted just as good as it did the first night we made it. 

Lentil Stew Recipe
Serves 6

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups onions, diced
2 cups carrots, chopped
1 tablespoons garlic, minced
2 teaspoons cumin
1 cup dried lentils, rinsed
4 cups broth (vegetable or chicken)
1 can (28 ounces) chopped tomatoes with juices
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 cup dried barley, rinsed
1/2 cup parsley, chopped

First, heat oil in large pot over medium-low heat.  Add onions and carrots to the  hot oil, stirring occasionally for 8 minutes until soft and tender.  Next, stir in the garlic and cook for 2 additional minutes.  Now add in the cumin and cook for 1 more minute.

Add the lentils, broth, tomatoes with juices, brown sugar, and cinnamon stick to the soup pot with the onions and carrots.  Bring the mixture to a boil.  Once at a boil reduce the heat slightly and cook for 5 minutes partially covered.  Add the barley to the stew, cover partially, and cook for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Stir in the parsley, season with salt and pepper.  Ladle the soup into bowls and serve. 

1)      As I mentioned above, this stew freezes well.  Portion your extra stew into individual Tupperware containers to freeze for later.
2)      This stew can be made vegetarian with vegetable stock. 
3)      Serve this stew with a dollop of non-fat plain yogurt for added creaminess.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

State Nail Art - DIY

As you can see, PammiCakes Recipes has gone through a rebranding phase.  Not only will PammiCakes display delicious recipes, but now it will showcase DIY projects completed around my house.  In addition to my passion for cooking and trying new recipes, I love crafting, painting and DIYing around our home to make it represent who my husband and I are.  Luckily, my husband is extremely patient with me, because my DIY ‘to-do’ list tends to grow at a much faster rate than our completed projects. 

The challenge of DIY and craft projects keep me motivated and one of the reasons why I find DIY so much fun!  Sometimes projects can be disasters, but usually with a little creativity a solution to the problem can be fixed to make it all work out.  I hope you all enjoy these DIY additions to the blog.  I am excited to share them with you!

The first DIY project I shared a while back was our ‘new’ kitchen post.  We added a mosaic tile backsplash to our kitchen.  We definitely got a lot of help with this project from Bill’s father, but nonetheless, we had a vision and jumped in with both feet.  We were so pleased with the end result, that there was no turning back with updates and projects I wanted to take on. 

There is a small confession I need to share with you all, I am obsessed with Pinterest!  I could search on there for hours and my creative side just gets all giddy.  There are so many amazing ideas and creative people in this world.  This state nail art idea is, of course, on Pinterest and felt confident in my DIY abilities to recreate this myself.  Ok, let’s get started on how I tackled this beautiful piece of artwork.  Below are all of the items you will need. 

Things you need:
Wood board
100 Grit sandpaper
Small nails
Print out of selected state or country
Painters tape
Wall hanging bracket & nails

First, use 100 grit sandpaper over the entire board.  This will help the paint to really ‘stick’ to the piece and helps to remove any rough edges that were left over from when the board was cut.    Once the sanding is finished, wipe the board with a clean cloth to remove any dust.  We found the wood board at Michaels.  They had lots of different shapes and sizes to select from.  Plus it had the nice detailed edge that I was looking for. 

Now it is time for the paint.  We used leftover paint from a previous project (more on that in another post).  The paint was paint and primer in one (Behr Ultra Paint, Moon Rise). It only took two light coats of paint to completely cover the board.  Always use light coats, as this helps against drips and keeps the coats nice and smooth.  Allow the paint to dry completely before moving onto the next steps.  I waited about an hour. 

While waiting for the paint to dry, I printed off an enlarged outline of my desired state, Massachusetts.  To do this, I went to GoogleMaps, searched Massachusetts, then took a screen shot of the screen.  I copied the screen shot into a word document, adjusted the size of the picture and paper size.  Easy as that!  I am sure someone will have an easier way to do it, but this worked for me.  Next, cut out your state outline. 

Once the board is dry, I attached a wall hanging bracket to the back.  You can purchase these kits with the little brackets and nails at any hardware or craft store.  Make sure you do this part now while you can lay the board down flat.  It will be much more difficult to nail it in with the nails on the front.

Next, use painters tape to attach the state outline to the board.  I made rolls of tape and placed them between the board and the paper so that I had a visual of the entire outline of the state.  Now comes the fun part, nailing in all of the nails!  This will take time, but I strangely found this therapeutic.  I got into a rhythm and the next thing I knew, it was done.  Nail only about 1/3 of the nails into the board.  Make sure they secure, but also have enough height coming out of the board to loop the thread around.  I started in a corner and just went around the entire outline.  Don’t worry about nailing into the paper.  Once you have placed your nails around the entire outline, lift out the paper. 

Now we are in the home stretch.  The board looked pretty awesome with just the white background and the shiny gold nails.  I debated to leave it as is, but I moved onto my next step of adding the navy blue thread to connect it all together.  This was so much fun swinging the thread to all the different parts of the board.  I started in a corner, knotting the thread and went around the edge of the entire state, just to get it started.  Then I went crazy going all around the state in an overlapping fashion.  There was no rhyme or reason to the pattern.  Once I was happy with the thickness of the thread on the board, I decided to stop.  I honestly couldn’t tell you how much thread I used, but it was a lot!  Tie a knot around one of the nail heads once you are finished. 

I love how this came out.  We were born and raised in Massachusetts and it will be fun to display this in our home.  I apologize for not taking any photos of each stage of the project.  I completely forgot!  Hopefully it all makes sense.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Caprese Pasta Salad Recipe

Even with fall upon us, I wanted to share this caprese pasta salad recipe.  I made this for a BBQ gathering at my friend’s house over the summer.  This salad was a great accompaniment to the amazing spread of grilled chicken, steak tips and veggies for dinner.  It is a simple, yet elegant salad that is full of fresh flavors. 

The combination of tomato, mozzarella and basil is a classic combination.  So adding in some pasta, one of my favorite carbs, was a no brainer.  The pasta absorbs the sweet balsamic dressing while the salty mozzarella seasons the juicy tomato.  Also, make sure you use fresh basil in this dish to pull all of the flavors together. 

Caprese Pasta Salad Recipe
Serves 8 -10 (as a side dish)

1 lb. pasta (any shape, I used wheat)
5 ripe tomatoes, seeded and diced
15 large basil leaves, chopped
8 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, cubed
3-4 tablespoons balsamic dressing

In a large pot, bring 4 quarts of salted water to a boil.  Once at a rolling boil, add in pasta and cook for 7-9 minutes, or until al dente.  Strain the pasta and set aside to cool down to room temperature. {If you are in a rush, you can run the pasta under cold water to help the cooling process}

While the pasta is cooking, in a small bowl mix the tomatoes, basil, mozzarella, salt and pepper to taste. 

In a large serving bowl, add the pasta, tomatoes, basil and mozzarella.  Toss together with the balsamic dressing.  The dressing amount is completely up to you and your preference.  If this salad is made in advance, have additional dressing on hand as the pasta will absorb the dressing over time.   

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Spicy Zucchini Frittata Recipe

I love having breakfast foods for dinner.  We don’t do this often, but when we do it is always a treat.  Making a frittata is so simple, yet always packs so much flavor in every bite.  Plus, they are so versatile that you can include any ingredients that you have on hand to discover a new flavor combination every time.   This frittata is vegetarian, but if you are a meat lover, feel free to add ham, sausage, or bacon.   

This spicy zucchini frittata is so light and savory.  The sweet zucchini develops a lovely balance against the heat of the jalapeño pepper.  When I am making dinner, creating a healthy twist to our favorites is always a challenge I enjoy taking on.  Making this frittata with egg whites and skim milk helped me to achieve this, while still creating a satisfying meal.   

Spicy Zucchini Frittata Recipe
Preheat oven to 350o
Serves 4

1 teaspoon olive oil
1 small white onion, diced
1 jalapeño, seeded and diced  
1 large zucchini, diced
10 large egg whites
1/4 cup skim milk
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Cooking spray

In a small pan, heat olive oil.  Add onion and jalapeño to pan and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes.  Add zucchini and cook for another 3 minutes. 

Meanwhile, whisk together the eggs, milk, and 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese in a large bowl.  Season the egg mixture with salt and pepper. 

Spray a pie pan with non-stick cooking spray to ensure your frittata will come out of the pan cleanly.  Spread the zucchini, onions and jalapeño mixture into the pie dish.  Next, cover the vegetables with the egg mixture.  Sprinkle the remaining shredded mozzarella cheese on the top.  Place in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes until the egg is fully cooked. 


1)      As mentioned up above, feel free to mix up the ingredients in this frittata.  Any flavor combination would be delicious {meats and vegetables}
2)      I am sure that this frittata would be excellent with shredded cheddar or monterey jack cheese as well.
3)      I don’t like to waste food.  Due to the fact that I only used egg whites in this recipe, freeze the egg yolks in plastic bags labeled with how many yolks per bag.  Use these for a future recipe. 

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