Pretty Little Liars and the Arts Council

Melanie Knight That 70's GalaYes, I am college educated grown woman and I loved loved loved Pretty Little Liars.  I grew up with Scooby Doo and the never ending mysteries to solve, so this glammed up show was right up my alley.  It was the perfect mix of fashion, suspense and uber frenemies.  The young ladies in this American Telenovella are perpetually going to one costume ball or another; basically any excuse to dress up and avoid getting murdered.  Who knew joining the Lancaster County Council of the Arts would feed my PLL soul?

Yes, by joining my local arts community I get to live out loud and fulfill my inner Pretty Little Liars fantasy of hair, nails, makeup & costumes!  Seriously, it is a dream come true.

So here we are at the Black & White Gala last year 2017 and the That 70’s Gala in 2018.  Both were just the right mix fun, food and dancing.  Seriously, I am already planning for 2010, Midnight in Paris.  Really, what does one wear at midnight in Paris?  This will take some time.  If you have any idea- please leave me some advice in the comments!

So, if you are like me and would like to play dress up as an adult, go out and JOIN the arts council of your town.  It’s a fabulous way to support your local art community and have a blast while you do it.

Melanie Knight Black and White Gala
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Parmesan Roasted Cauliflower

2 years ago I ate dinner in Portland, OR in the middle of a blizzard and had my first taste of parmesan roasted cauliflower.  I had never really liked cauliflower, so when the group decided to order this as an appetizer, I was not that enthused.  Cauliflower has always seemed like a wanna-be-broccoli to me with no flavor; just another vegetable to add to your veggie tray that no one wants to eat.  This dish however, is quite a tasty winter treat.  So when I was asked to bring a side dish to Sunday dinner and all the usual side dishes were spoken for, I remembered this West coast treat and my inner flower child smiled.

Parmesan-Roasted Cauliflower http://www.bonappetit.com, edited by Melanie Knight

Ingredients

  • 48oz bag frozen cauliflower florets
  • 2 Vidalia onions- chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • 1/2 tbl garlic
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup grated parmesan
  • Himalayan salt & fresh ground pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 425

In a large bowl- combine all of the ingredients and mix.  Cover a baking pan (with edges) with aluminum foil and spread the mixture out evenly.

Roast, tossing occasionally for 35-40 minutes.  Toss again, and roast another 10-12 minutes until edges are golden.

Serve and enjoy.  You can thank me later.

 

Chop Suey- Went so fast I didn’t even get a pic!

chopsuey

I cooked this tonight using thin rib eye steaks cut into thin strips and it was so good I didn’t even get a pic!  This recipe works with chicken, beef or pork and is a staple in our house.

Ingredients

  • 5 thin ribeyes- cut into strips (like fajitas)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 cups frozen broccoli florets
  • 1 sweet onion- but into thin rings
  • 3 stalks celery- cut at an angle
  • 1/2 cup Kikoman soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ginger paste
  • 2 tsp corn starch
  • 2 cups cooked jasmine rice

Heat olive oil in skillet over med high heat.  Sautee onions until they begin to brown.  Add in ribeye and cook until done.  Add in celery and broccoli.  Cook until done.

In a bowl or glass- mix together soy sauce, brown sugar, ginger & corn starch.  Pour over veggies & beef.  Let cook 5-10 minutes over med to low heat until sauce thickens up.

Serve over rice and enjoy!  If you make this- send me a pic!

Buffalo Chicken Salad with Clemson Blue Cheese

Buffalo Chicken Salad www.theluckywife.life

I love hot wings, but not the calories or cholesterol, so I use this simple spicy recipe when I want something savory.  I usually eat mine with a salad (lettuce, tomatoes, crumbled blue cheese, diced celery), but these are delicious dipped in ranch dressing too.  *Yes- for the record- blue cheese is the only thing I like from Clemson.

Buffalo Chicken by Melanie Knight

  • 4 chicken breasts- slice thin, butterfly if you need to
  • your favorite bbq dry rub
  • 1/2 cup Frank’s Hot sauce
  • 3 tbl butter

Salad option:

  • Clemson blue cheese crumbles- your choice, I like a lot
  • Romaine lettuce- 2-3 leaves per salad
  • tomatoes diced- 1/2 tomato per salad
  • celery diced- 1/4 cup per salad

Season the chicken breasts, then grill over medium- high heat until done.  Remove from heat and set aside.  Melt butter and stir in hot sauce until mixed.  Dip each chicken breast in hot sauce and serve.  Can also be served on a sandwich roll with lettuce, tomato and crumbled blue cheese.

 

 

Deviled Eggs & Candied Bacon, a decadent upgrade

Devilled Eggs www.theluckywife.life

These were the best devilled eggs!  I had them at a J. Alexander restaurant in Chicago last year as an appetizer and they were the highlight of my meal.  Seriously, I don’t remember what else I ate, but I had to look up this recipe once I got home.  Are they really worth the effort?  Yes.  And the candied bacon totally makes this dish decadent.

 Deviled eggs & candied bacon by Melanie Knight, inspired by  J. Alexander’s copycat deviled eggs by Claire Perez

  • 6 large eggs, hard-boiled and peeled
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise (DUKES)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon pickle sweet relish
  • Himalayan sea salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
  • 6 slices candied bacon, (See recipe below)
  • Paprika, for garnish

Directions:  Cut boiled eggs in half.  Remove the yolks to a bowl.  Mash with a fork and add mayonnaise, mustard and relish.  Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Next, spoon yolk mixture back into egg whites or use a pastry bag and pipe yolks into whites.  Sprinkle with paprika and top with 2- 1 inch pieces of candied bacon.

 

Candied Bacon- Recipe courtesy of Chef Alex Guarnaschelli revised by Melanie Knight

  • 12 slices bacon (or 1 pack bacon)
  • Finely-ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup light-brown sugar

Directions:  Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Put bacon slices in a bowl, season them with pepper and toss with the brown sugar.  Cover a baking sheet with parchment or foil, and arrange the bacon in a single layer on top.   Top with another layer of parchment or foil and top it, squarely, with another baking sheet. The baking sheet will flatten the bacon as it cooks.

Next, place the tray in the center of the oven and bake for 20 minutes.  Check the bacon by lifting the top tray and parchment.  If it is not golden brown and fairly crispy, resist the temptation to turn up the oven temperature, and cook it for 10 to 15 minutes longer. Check it again.  Keep in mind that when you remove the tray and transfer the bacon to a serving platter or individual plates, the bacon will “crisp” up a little more.

MK- I had to microwave my bacon before it became crispy- I had it in the oven 40 minutes and it was too “floppy” raw looking for me.  I microwaved it 30 sec at a time until it was crispy.

Watch out!  Candied bacon is really really really good.  Trust me, set aside the slices you need for the devilled eggs before you pig out 🙂

Vanilla Cupcake recipe from my favorite cupcake shop…Cupcrazed!

Cupcrazed Vanilla Cupcakes www.theluckywife.life

I am addicted to Cupcrazed cupcakes and thank God that they are 30+ minutes from my house- OR I would stop by there every day and 2x on Tuesday.  Why 2x on Tuesday you ask?  Because cupcakes are $2 each on $2 Tuesday that’s why.

Remember the show Cupcake Wars?  I loved that show!  I used to watch it while I was on the elliptical and drool.  When I learned Heather McDonnell of Cupcrazed Cakery won Cupcake Wars, I had to check it out and I have been hooked ever since.  The only time I get to enjoy these gourmet treats is when I have a dentist appointment, so basically 2x a year.

I do follow them on instagram, so I at least get to see all their decadent ever-changing flavors.  For instance, yesterdays flavors were:  pineapple upside down cake, strawberry cake batter, Panther-fetti, cookies n cream, white chocolate raspberry, caramel macchiato, Reese’s, s’mores, salted caramel & Oreo.  See?  Decadent.

I knew they posted the Cupcake Wars recipes online, so when I googled this, I found that Cupcrazed posted some of their recipes on their own blog too.  You see, they bake AND they are crazy (their tagline).  I found the vanilla cupcake and icing recipe and HAD to make them for myself.

Did I mention I have an issue with portion control?  Well I do, so this was flirting with disaster since each recipe makes 36 cupcakes.  I cut it and made 25% of the recipe expecting 9 and still ended up with 12 cupcakes.  Only 4.5 are left…looks like I’ll be doing some yoga later tonight.  Was it worth it?  Absolutely.  Will I make them again?  Yes, but only for a party with actual people in attendance.

Cupcrazed Cakery Vanilla Cupcake Recipe (makes 36)

  • 1 lb butter
  • 4 cups granular sugar
  • 8 eggs
  • 2 tbs vanilla
  • 2 cups whole milk room temp
  • 3 cups self rising flour
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup canola oil

Whip butter in the bowl.  Add all 4 cups of sugar and whip it into the butter for about 2 minutes.  Add all 8 eggs and vanilla to butter/ sugar and whip until completely combines.  Add 3 cups self rising flour and the first cup if milk, combine.  Add the 3 cups of all purpose flour and the second cup of milk.  Combine.  Stir in the canola oil.  Bake at 350 for 20 minutes.

Frosting

  • 1 lb butter
  • 6 or 7 cups confectioners sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1-2 tsp whole milk (maybe)

Add 1/2 the sugar to the pound of butter, whip together.  Add the vanilla and 3 more cups sugar.  Whip together and check for consistency.  If it’s too runny, add more confectioners sugar.  If it’s too thick, add a little whole milk.

Enjoy!  And FYI- if you like raw cake batter- this is the best I’ve ever had.

DIY Pumpkin Spice Latte- when your town is too small for a Starbucks :)

Pumpkin Spice Latte www.theluckywife.life

Yes, the perils of living in a small country town will at one time or another come with a few drawbacks.  While we don’t have bumper to bumper traffic, we also don’t have a Starbucks.  Well, technically there is a Starbucks in the county, but it is 20 minutes from my house.  So, while I do love coffee, I don’t “drive 40 minutes round trip” love coffee.  AND Starbucks won’t debut their PSL until later this month anyway and I want one NOW.  Which brings me to today’s recipe, DIY Pumpkin Spice Latte.

DIY Pumpkin Spice Latte by Melanie Knight

  • 1/2 cup strong brewed coffee (I used Eight O’clock coffee- very smooth)
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 tsp Watkins Pumpkin Spice Extract
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1tbl brown sugar (I used demerara- but regular brown sugar will do)
  • whip cream (from a can, not cool whip)
  • sprinkle of nutmeg

For the frothy milk:  heat the milk in a small sauce pot over medium heat.  Use an electric hand mixer to froth the milk as it heats.  It will get foamy and light.  Be careful not to let the milk burn.  Once the milk is warm and frothy, remove from heat.  Alt- you can also froth the milk with a whisk or shake in a protein shaker until frothy- be careful since the milk will be hot.

Assembly- Adjust depending on the size of your coffee cup:  Fill the cup 1/3 of the way with coffee.  Stir in the brown sugar until dissolved, then add the pumpkin spice & vanilla.  Next, pour in the frothed milk until 1/2 inch from the top of the cup.  Scoop up the froth from the frothed milk in the saucepan and spoon it on top of your latte.  Top off the latte with whip cream and a sprinkle of nutmeg.

Enjoy!