Friday, October 7, 2011

Nothing New

Cool fact of the day: October is "Buy Nothing New Month" in Australia. True story!
Instead of going to Wal-Mart or Target every time you realize you need (or, let's be honest - want) something, (this includes all the cool stuff in the $1 bins up at the front of the store) this whole country is encouraging each other to trade, borrow, rent, up-cycle or thrift items. How cool is that?

If you think about the enormous impact that buying new takes on our environment (as well as our bank accounts) then it isn't really hard to make the decision to be more conscientious before making new purchases. I have challenged myself, as well as my sweetie, to try and keep true with this concept for this month. It's only one month, right? We can totally do this. And, hey. We may even be pleasantly surprised in ourselves and decide never to go back to our old ways of thinking, when it comes to being consumers.

Something that makes this especially interesting is that we have started our Christmas shopping already (only 5 paydays left until Christmas, folks!). It will be cool to see how creative we can be in our holiday preparation. Luckily for us, I have been collecting DIY gift giving ideas for months now on Pinterest. Cross your fingers, send me good vibes, and all of your positive and creative energy! *We will see come December 25th, how successful I actually was in my endeavor*. :)

I encourage all of my friends and family out there to challenge themselves this month to really think about it every time they make a purchase. Every time you pull out your wallet, swipe your card, or count your change at the check-out counter - really evaluate your purchase and ask yourself, "Could I have made this myself? Do I need this for keeps - or could I have borrowed it from someone else? Could I have gotten this same item second hand? It will be hard, but I know that we can all do it!

Host a swap meet with your gal pals, to trade old clothes, decorations, clothes for the kids, purses, etc. It will be a great way to get everyone together, trade things you don't need for things that you do want, and help with the whole carbon-footprint hippie stuff that is so near and dear to my heart :)

I can't wait to hear all of your stories of success! :)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Chocolate Chip Cookie Cupcakes

Last night after work it was SO cold and dark - I got home, put my slippers on and my cozy clothes, turned my favorite Christmas music on (OK, OK! I'm mentally ill, I know. I need help!) and preheat the oven. It's not secret I love to bake treats - cupcakes are especially dear to my heart. Last night, though I was feeling adventurous and decided that instead I would make chocolate chip cookies.

The house smelled fantastic, the kitchen was warm and toasty, and I was curled up on the couch reading my book, (turned the Christmas music down low so I could also hear the rain) while I waited for the cookies to be done. Once they got out of the oven, I will admit, I was a little let down. Let's face it - cookies just aren't as cute as cupcakes.

The solution to my problem was simple - take something perfectly delicious on it's own, and add it to something that was perfectly adorable. I heat up my mini cupcake maker (weird, right?!) and whipped up some yellow cake batter. I crumbled the cookies and put some in the bottom of each cupcake paper. I filled the rest of the paper with cake batter, and cooked them completely through.

I covered them off with chocolate frosting, and used more crumbled cookies on top. My boss calls me an evil genius - I say I'm just mixing the best of both worlds. No matter how you slice it, I learned my lessons.

 #1 Everything tastes better when it's mini
#2 It's OK to go outside of your comfort zone on occasion
#3 The mini cupcakes will always prevail

Summer Squash in the Fall

A lady I work with brought in some squash to share, that she had grown in her garden. To be honest, I have never had that much squash at once so I had no idea what to do with it. My Aunt Gail (who is a culinary genius) suggested that instead of cooking the entire squash, I scrape out the seeds and fill it with someone else. TADA!

That's when this vegetarian friendly deliciousness came about. I started by cutting the squash in half long ways, and scraping out the seeds. While the crossaints were cooking in the oven, I had rice cooking in the rice cooker. I filled both sides of the hollowed out squash with rice, mushrooms, tomatoes, green peppers (that I grew all by myself in my little garden!) and topped it off with some chopped up pieces of vegetarian chicken. I seasoned it with pepper and italian seasoning, then covered it in tomato sauce and grated parmesean.

I threw it in the oven (375 degrees) for 20 minutes and - voila! Between just the two of us, we finished one entire half of this giant squash that first night and would have probably eaten the whole thing if we hadn't eaten all those crossaint rolls. :)

Let me tell you what, I was totally looking forward to lunchtime the next day, when I got to eat my leftovers!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Closet Cooking

I just realized today that is has been WAY too stinking long since I posted last. Things have been CRAZY in our little lives! Anyhow, I came across a super blog that I wanted to share with everyone. I have only attempted a few recipes from here, (ok, I'll admit it. They actually terrify me!) but I have found quite a few that were vegetarian friendly (or at least, easy to alter so that they are vegetarian). This site is SO useful for getting inspiration for my own recipes!

He also has a bajillion delicious dessert recipes (aka - the way to my heart) including things like Guiness Chocolate Cheescake Pumpkin Pie Cheesecake, and Blueberry Mascarpone Cheesecake. (Anyone else notice a trend here?)

I realized that it would be selfish of me not to share, so go forth and enjoy!