Gnocchi Marinara

gnocchi marinara

So finally things in the newly renovated kitchen are getting back to normal.  It’s so nice to finally have a workable surface again instead of the plywood counters we had while waiting for the granite.

* A quick tip for anyone in a similar situation:  apply contact sticky paper to the plywood.  It provides a wipe-able temporary surface in a pinch.

Even though it’s the same kitchen layout, I did a lot of reorganizing and purging of stuff I don’t use.  So now I find myself turning in circles cause I’m not used to where everything is.  It’s sort of throwing me off my game.  I guess it’ll just take me a little time to get used to it but it’s frustrating trying to cook like that.

Yesterday I made this simple Gnocchi Marinara.  I love pasta and am always looking for new recipes to try.  This one is a great go to weeknight meal.  Using store bought gnocchi, you simply used canned tomatoes to make your own quick sauce.  Serve it with some frozen garlic bread and you’ve got a hearty homemade meal in a snap.

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Quick Kitchen Remodel Update

It’s been almost two months since we began our kitchen remodel.  Things are chugging along nicely although a little slow.  But hey, that’s what you get when you’re doing things yourself.

tile floor

Earlier this week our granite countertops where installed and they are gorgeous!  I’m extremely happy with the color we chose.  If anyone in the Pittsburgh region is looking for a reliable granite fabricator and installer, I highly recommend Manor House Granite Factory.

We were previously going to go through Lowe’s for the granite until the saleswoman told us that their fabricator was unreliable.  I began searching online for other options and came up with Manor House.  What sealed the deal for me was the fact that they stocked the actual slabs and you could pick your own.  We chose a beautiful slate grey and black color.  It looks dark black from far away but closer, you can see the dark grey variations.

granite countertops

Manor House initially gave us a time line of about 4 weeks but it ended up only being 2 weeks wait!!  WooHoo!  Installation went perfectly and we were very pleased with our experience with the company.

Next on our “to do” list is the tile backsplash.  We chose a pretty stone and glass tile.  Since we didn’t have a granite color sample to take with us when we ordered the tile, we were unsure how it would match the granite.  Now that we have both, I think it’s going to look awesome!

glass tile backsplash

Unfortunately, we can’t install the backsplash until hubby installs the new kitchen window.  And since we had about 5 inches of snow last night, I don’t think that will happen anytime soon.

So currently we are at a stand still until the weather cooperates.  Once I’ve got some more pictures to share with you, I’ll get another update posted.

12 Drool Worthy Cupcake Recipes

Even though I’ve heard time and again that cupcakes are a dying trend, I still think loads of people think otherwise.  For some reason a large decorated cake is just not as cute or creative as little cupcakes can be.

Take for example these 12 cupcake recipes I have listed below.  There are so many great cupcake ideas out there that just wouldn’t translate as well in a layered cake form.  And I’m gonna keep sharing them with my readers until they scream, Stop!

So to heck with the cupcake haters!  I say we keep on making these little gems until some smarty comes up with the next great baking trend.  Until then, I’m going to keep bookmarking the cool ones and compiling lists just like this to share with you!

peach bourbon cupcakes Peach Bourbon Cupcakes – Yes, I did say bourbon!  And yes there is bourbon in both the frosting and the cupcake batter, yum!  The marzipan peaches on top add the perfect finishing touch.  Adorable!

apple pie cupcakes Apple Pie Cupcakes – These cupcakes sound like the perfect fall dessert idea!  Caramelized apples are added to the top of the cupcake batter before baking.  A simple whipped cinnamon icing tops them off.

kool-aid cupcakesKool-Aid Cupcakes – These kooky cupcakes sound like fun for all ages!  Dress up a simple boxed cake mix with your favorite kool-aid flavored powder.  Add more to the homemade icing for an added punch of flavor.

pina colada cupcakesPina Colada Cupcakes – These cupcakes make my mouth water!  Simple vanilla and coconut cupcakes are topped off with a fresh pineapple frosting complete with crushed pineapple pieces.  Oh yeah!

cannoli cupcakesCannoli Cupcakes – Holy crap, you can make cupcakes that taste like cannolis?!  Sounds too good to be true but I may just have to give this cupcake recipe a try!  They look delish, especially the topping!

pumpkin cheesecake cupcakesPumpkin Cheesecake Cupcakes – I love me some pumpkin so I had to at least include one pumpkin cupcake recipe and this one is a doozy!  It’s like two yummy desserts in one, what could be better?

lemon poppyseed cupcakesLemon Poppy Seed Cupcakes – These cupcakes look so fresh and perfect for spring.  Cooled poppy seed cupcakes get filled with a dollop of lemon curd and then are topped with cream cheese frosting.

french toast cupcakesFrench Toast Cupcakes – Breakfast for dessert anyone?  Sounds good to me!  A boxed cake mix is doctored up with some cinnamon and a vanilla pudding mix.  Finish it off with maple cream cheese frosting.  Perfection!

pistachio cupcakesPistachio Cupcakes – Add pistachio pudding mix to a white boxed cake mix and the easy icing recipe for a quick, tasty treat.  The green frosting makes these cupcakes the perfect sweet treat for St Patty’s day!

root beer float cupcakesRoot Beer Float Cupcakes – What a fun and simple treat!  Your favorite root beer gets added to this cupcake batter along with a touch of root beer extract in the buttercream icing.  Sounds very interesting.

snickers cupcakesSnickers Cupcakes – OMG, these cupcakes will make you drool for sure!  Each cupcake has a mini Snickers bar hidden in the middle like a secret surprise!  And the caramel frosting looks to die for!

caramel popcorn cupcakesCaramel Popcorn Cupcakes – Say what!?  That’s right, apparently you can turn boring old creamed corn into delicious cupcakes!  Who would have thought you could make creamed corn look so good.

Want even more awesome cupcake recipes?  Check out my other two lists:

20 Unique Cupcake Recipes

10 Interesting Cupcake Recipes

Chicken and Zucchini Pasta

chicken and zucchini pasta

The sun has finally peeked out from behind the clouds for the first time here in a long while.  Thanks goodness.  The gloomy days get so exhausting especially when you work from home.  They drag on and seem never ending.  It’s so cold outside that I just don’t want to leave the house either which makes it even worse.

So I’m sitting here at my desk looking out the window and longing for spring.  I cannot wait to get outside and get my hands back in the dirt!  Sigh…  Hopefully Punxsutawney Phil got it right this year and we’ll be seeing an early spring.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed on that one. In the meantime, let’s enjoy some hearty pasta!  Oh and btw, GO STEELERS!!!!

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Chicken Fried Rice

chicken fried rice

During the work week I’m all about quick meals that require little prep time and cook fairly quickly.  I’m not a very good morning person and it didn’t help that the granite company wanted to come at the crack of dawn to do their templating for my kitchen counters.  Since I work from home, it’s been years since I’ve been up that early.

So by the time dinner rolled around, I was out of energy.  Luckily this chicken fried rice can be done in a matter of minutes.  I loved the taste and the chicken and brown rice make it a very filling meal.

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