• Chocolate cake
  • 3 eggs, room temperature
  • 3/4 cup white granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons whole milk
  • 1/2 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup special dark cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • Powdered sugar for the tea towel
  • White chocolate peppermint filling
  • 1 package (7 oz) Finlandia unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 4 oz cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 4 oz baking white chocolate , chopped
  • 4 oz candy cane chocolate , finely chopped
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • Ganache
  • 6 oz semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • Crushed candy canes
Instructions :
Heat the oven to 350F. Line a jelly roll pan with aluminum foil. Set aside.
In a mixing bowl add the eggs and sugar. With the paddle attachment on, beat on medium low speed until they are frothy, thick, fluffy, and tripled in volume. This usually takes about 5 minutes.
Meanwhile sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt 3 times. Yes, 3 times!!! Do not skip this step!
Once the eggs are beaten, fold in the milk, vanilla and peppermint extracts.
With a spatula (or with the mixer on the lowest speed) fold in the dry ingredients until just incorporated. Do not over-mix! Make sure there are no air bubbles into the batter!!!
Pour the cake batter quickly in big dollops across almost the entire pan so you don’t have to spread it out so much.
Bake the cake in the preheated oven until it springs back when pressed gently and the cake is starting to pull away from the sides, about 12-13 minutes.
While the cake is baking, sift 1/2 to 2/3 cup powered sugar over a clean tea towel.
As soon as you remove the cake from the oven, turn it over the prepared towel. Remove the baking pan and peel the aluminum foil.
Starting from the short end, roll and tuck the cake under as tightly as possible. The tighter you’re able to roll the cake, the better the roll will look!
It’s very important for the cake to be rolled while still hot. You’ll feel the heat from the cake through the towel as you roll it, it should be slightly uncomfortable, but bearable.
Leave the rolled cake to cool for at least two hours before adding the filling.
White chocolate peppermint filling
Place a heatproof bowl over a pan with simmering water. Add the chopped white chocolate to the bowl and stir until the chocolate is melted.
Set aside to cool completely.
In a mixing bowl add the butter. With the whisk attachment on, whip the butter on the lowest speed for 2-3 minutes.
Add the cream cheese, cooled and melted white chocolate, heavy cream and peppermint extract. Whip for an additional 3 minutes.
Add the powdered sugar, 1/2 cup at a time, beating well after each addition.
Fold in the chopped candy cane chocolate.
Increase the mixer’s speed to medium and whip the mixture for an additional 2-3 minutes.
Slowly unroll the cooled chocolate cake and with an offset spatula , spread the filling all over it.
Roll the cake back up. Refrigerate for a couple of hours or overnight.
In a heatproof bowl, add the chocolate and heavy cream.
Microwave in 15 seconds intervals, stirring every time, until the chocolate is melted and the ganache is smooth.
Pour 2/3 of the ganache over the chilled cake. Let it slowly cover the entire cake. You may use the back of a spoon to speed up the process.
Refrigerate for 10-15 minutes.
Pour the remaining ganache and decorate with the crushed candy cane.
Refrigerate for a couple of hours up to 4-5 days.

I love what a fire pit does for any yard or garden. It brings family and friends together and makes any garden into a warm, welcoming place to let go of the stress of the day. Plus, let’s be honest, it feels like camping, and who doesn’t love that? Here’s how to build a back yard fire pit step by step, and it doesn’t have to be expensive. A quick trip to the home improvement store, a little hard work and you could be roasting marshmallows tonight!
Stone pavers, bricks, cinder blocks or other non flammable building materials
Sand or gravel
Step One:
Decide where you want your fire pit to sit, and what dimensions you would like. Make sure you choose a spot at least 25 feet away from structures or overhanging trees. An average fire pit is from 36-45 inches across and 12 inches high.
Step Two:
Mark the center of the fire pit, the easiet way is with a stake. Then tie a string half the total diameter you want the finished pit to be. In other words, if your pit will be 36 inches across, make the string 18 inches. Tie the other end of the string to another stake or stick, and pulling the string taut, walk around the stick marking a prefect circle. This is the outline of the fire pit. Or if you choose, use marking spray paint as shown in the photo.

French Dip Burger with , Swiss and Bourbon Fried Onions

Ingredients :
  • 1 pound Certified Angus Ground Beef (I used 80/20)
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ground pepper
  • 1/2 pound havarti cheese, sliced thin
  • 1/2 pound swiss cheese, sliced thin
For the onions:
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 large vidalia onions
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon bourbon
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped thyme
  • Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
For the horseradish sauce:
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 3 tablespoons horseradish
  • 2 tablespoons worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon chopped chives
  • kosher salt and fresh black pepper, to taste
For the beef broth:
  • 2 cups low sodium beef stock
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chopped thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
  • Four Brioche Rolls


For the Crust:
  • 16 whole graham crackers
  • 6 tablespoons melted butter
For the Filling:
  • 2 eight-ounce packages of cream cheese, at room temperature
  • ⅔ cup granulated sugar
  • ⅓ cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
For the Strawberry Sauce:
  • ¼ cup strawberry jam
  • ⅓ cup water
  • ⅓ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons cornstarch
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • ½ pound strawberries, hulled and quartered lengthwise
Instructions :
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 9-inch springform pan and wrap the bottom in foil. You’re going to be putting the cheesecake in a water bath, and you don’t want the water to seep into the pan from the bottom.
  2. Break up the graham crackers into smaller pieces and put them in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until they’ve turned into crumbs. Add the melted butter and process again until the mixture resembles wet sand. Press evenly into the bottom of the springform pan, packing the graham cracker crumbs down as tightly as you can.
  3. In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the cream cheese and mix on low speed until creamy. Add the sugar and mix on low speed until smooth. Blend in the milk on low speed as well. Add in the eggs one at a time, mixing just until incorporated. Then mix in the sour cream, vanilla, lemon zest, and flour. You don't want to over-mix or allow too much air into the mixture.
  4. Pour the filling into the prepared crust. Tap the pan against the counter a few times to get rid of any air bubbles, and place it in a rimmed baking sheet filled with 1 cm of water.
  5. Transfer the entire apparatus to the oven and bake for 30 minutes. Do not open the oven door! After 30 minutes has elapsed, turn the oven off, and let the cheesecake cool in oven with the door closed for 3 hours to prevent cracking. Chill in the refrigerator.
  6. Meanwhile, make the strawberry sauce. In a small saucepan, add the jam, water, and sugar. Bring to a simmer, stirring frequently. Simmer for 3 minutes, until the sugar is completely dissolved. (If you want your sauce really red, you can add in a couple drops of red food coloring.)
  7. Dissolve the cornstarch into the lemon juice, and pour it into the pot, whisking constantly. Simmer until the syrup is bubbly, but no longer foamy. Remove the syrup from the heat, and allow to cool. Stir in the strawberries.
  8. Serve the sliced cheesecake with the strawberry sauce spooned over the top.

As the month of love approaches, we thought we’d combine friendship and hearts into one Valentine’s Day themed tutorial: a heart patterned friendship bracelet! Using some candy-colored embroidery floss and your familiarity with the chevron friendship bracelet, you’ll be able to whip up one of these tokens of love in a heartbeat.

Creating a heart pattern involves just a simple modification to the chevron patterned friendship bracelet. Start by cutting 4 strands of each color, at about 24 inches each, for a total of 8 strands. Alternate the thread colors before tying them together in a knot. Remember to leave at least 3 inches of slack. Tape the knot to a flat working surface or clip onto a clipboard.

Yarn Wrapped Letter

Perfect for a little girl. Purchase letters and yarn from your local craft store and wrap her favorite colors around the letter of her first name. Glue on craft flowers or bling when finished to really show it off.

Cucumber #Tomato #Avocado #Salad

Ingredients :
  • 1 lb Roma tomatoes
  • 1 English cucumber
  • ½ medium red onion, sliced
  • 2 avocados, diced
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil or sunflower oil
  • Juice of 1 medium lemon (about 2 Tbsp)
  • ¼ cup (1/2 bunch) cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tsp sea salt or ¾ tsp table salt
  • ⅛ tsp black pepper
  1. Place chopped tomatoes, sliced cucumber, sliced red onion, diced avocado, and chopped cilantro into a large salad bowl.
  2. Drizzle with 2 Tbsp olive oil and 2 Tbsp lemon juice. Toss gently to combine. Just before serving, toss with 1 tsp sea salt and ⅛ tsp black pepper.
*Note: if you aren't keen on cilantro, fresh dill is a good substitute

loaded mediterranean street fries


  • 1 cup plain full fat yogurt
  • half of a zucchini, grated
  • ½ cup roughly chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • a few pinches of chopped fresh dill
  • salt and lemon juice to taste
Marinated Tomatoes and Chickpeas
  • 1 can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 4-6 tomatoes, diced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • fresh minced parsley to taste
  • salt to taste
  • lemon juice to taste
Other Ingredients:

  • 1 bag sweet potato fries
  • 1 head romaine lettuce, washed and roughy chopped
  • pita bread and oil for frying
  • Toppings (see notes)
  1. TZATZIKI: Combine the tzatziki ingredients together - taste and adjust until it hits the spot for you.
  2. TOMATOES / CHICKPEAS: Toss the chickpeas and tomatoes together with the oil, garlic, lemon juice, and parsley to marinate.
  3. SWEET POTATOES: Bake the sweet potato fries according to package directions. While the sweet potatoes are baking, chop the lettuce and fry the pitas.
  4. PITAS: For the pitas, cut each one into strips and fry in a shallow layer of frying oil (such as vegetable oil) until golden brown and slightly crispy. Drain on paper towels and sprinkle with salt.
  5. ASSEMBLY: Assemble the individual boats with layers of fries, tzatziki, marinated tomatoes and chickpeas, fried pita, romaine, feta cheese, and more. Mwah!


1 pound | 500g (dry weight) thin spaghetti pasta
1 pound | 500g boneless, skinless, chicken breasts (2 large breasts)
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon garlic powder
salt and pepper, to taste
¼ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons red onion, finely chopped (about ⅓ of a red onion)
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar (adjust to your tastes)
8 roma tomatoes, chopped
½ cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more to serve
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil or parsley
salt and pepper, to taste
balsamic glaze to serve (optional)


Cook pasta according to package directions; Drain and rinse in cold water. Transfer to a large bowl; set aside.
While the pasta is boiling, combine the Italian seasoning, garlic powder, salt and pepper in a shallow bowl. Season the chicken on both sides. Heat 1 teaspoon of oil on in a grill pan or skillet, and sear chicken breasts over medium-high heat until browned on both sides and cooked through (about 6 minutes each side). Remove from pan; set aside and allow to rest.
Add the olive oil to the same hot pan / skillet. When hot, sauté the garlic and red onion until garlic is fragrant (about 1 minute). Turn off heat. Add in the tomatoes, toss them lightly, and add the mixture onto the pasta. Add the vinegar, parmesan cheese and basil or parsley. Season with salt and pepper to your taste. Slice the chicken; add to pasta. Toss the pasta with all of the ingredients until well combined.
Top with 2 tablespoons extra parmesan and serve immediately with balsamic glaze (optional), OR refrigerate up to an hour before serving.

Spice Rubbed Salmon with Avocado Salsa

Ingredients :
1.5lb. salmon filet
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
½ teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 avocados, diced
⅓ cup fresh cilantro
½ tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons lime juice
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 garlic clove, minced
salt to taste
garnish with sliced red onion

Instructions :
Preheat oven to 350.
Pat salmon dry.
In a small bowl, add garlic powder, smoked paprika, ground cumin, honey, and olive oil.
Rub the season blend on the flesh side of the salmon. Place on baking sheet skin side down.
Bake for 15-18 minutes, until the flesh flakes off with a fork.
Remove from oven and let rest.
In a small bowl, add avocado, cilantro, red wine vinegar, lime juice, red pepper flakes, garlic clove, and salt to taste.
Top the salmon with with avocado salsa and garnish with red onion. Serve!

Working with The Home Depot on the outdoor and gardening campaign has been fun, and for my last post I am going to be using those wonderful herbs I purchased last week on my shopping spree.

I have always wanted to make an herb garden, but with a small yard, 4 children, and 2 dogs, there is not much room left for an herb garden, or any garden for that matter.  That was an issue until I came upon the wonderful pallet garden on Pinterest a few weeks ago.

Last year I bought and planted a ‘Raspberry Shortcake’ raspberry bush. It has some new leaves at the base of the plant now (early spring). Should I cut off the bare stems leftover from last year?

Answer: ‘Raspberry Shortcake’ is a wonderful dwarf, thornless red raspberry bush from the BrazelBerries Collection. With a charming rounded habit, dense, rich foliage and bundles of nutritious and sweet summer berries, these lovely shrubs are sure to add a little burst of brilliant color to any garden.

In early spring new sprouts will begin to develop from the soil; eventually new growth should also appear on pre-existing canes (stems). Make sure to leave all new growth—whether it’s growing from the ground or on existing stems—intact. The new canes that sprout from the ground will not fruit until next year. The old canes, on the other hand, should produce berries this summer. Removing these now would mean no fruit this year! You should cut off only any truly dead stems—those that show no signs of new growth after the rest of the bush has leafed out. Dead canes can be removed at ground level.

Here are a few additional growing guidelines for ‘Raspberry Shortcake’:

•    Raspberry Shortcakes grow successfully in average, well-drained soils.
•    Grow in full sun—supplying afternoon shade in areas with harshly hot summers.
•    Water regularly, making sure the plant has consistent moisture—usually 2 to 3 times a week when grown in the ground and daily in containers, depending on rainfall. However, do not waterlog the plants.
•    Fertilizing is not necessary; however if you desire, feed them with a balanced liquid fertilizer in early and late spring.
•    Let the bushes go dormant in winter.

Vegetable cutlet is a healthy, nutritious, delicious and very popular Indian snack. Vegetable Cutlet is filling, spicy, irresistibly delicious. It can be served as an appetizer, afternoon/evening snack with tea or as a side dish with dinner or lunch.    It is also good for small parties and get together.

Vegetable Cutlet is a delectable combination of potato, green vegetables and spices. It is very easy and simple to make, crisp outside and soft inside. It is mostly served with tomato ketchup and green chutney. These cutlets can be baked, deep fried or shallow fried.

  • 3-4 potatoes boiled and mashed
  • 5-6 french beach finely chopped and blanched
  • 1/4 cup green peas blanched
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • 2 tbsp cornflour 
  • 1/4 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1/4 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp gram masala
  • 1 tbsp coriander leaves chopped
  • 1 tbsp oil 
  • Oil for shallow frying
  • Salt to taste
1. Heat oil in a pan, add mustard seeds, when it splutters, add cumin seeds,
    finely chopped onions and cook till onions turns transparent.
2. Add french beans, green peas and mix well.
3. Now add coriander leaves red chili powder,turmeric powder, gram masala,
    salt, saute for 2-3 mins.Switch off the flame.
4. Take boiled and mashed potatoes in a big bowl and add cooked vegetables
     in it.
5. Mix it well, leave it to cool.
6. Divide the mixture in equal portions.
7. Take a portion of the mixture, give it a desired shape.
8. Repeat the same process for remaining mixture.
9. Mix cornflour and water make a thick paste.
10. Dip each cutlet in the prepared cornflour mixture, roll in the bread crumbs
      till they are evenly coated.
11. Heat some oil in a pan, shallow fry cutlets till both sides are evenly golden.
12. Serve hot with tomato ketchup or green chutney.
Ingredients :
1 pound cooked shredded chicken
1 french baguette, (long and thin)
2 cups shredded iceberg lettuce
1/3 cup parmesan cheese, shaved
olive oil
salt and pepper

For the Caesar Dressing:
1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup whole milk, or cream
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons raisins, soaked in hot water for 5 minutes, then chopped into small pieces

Directions :
Preheat the oven to 400°F.
Slice the baguette into 1/2'” thick slices then place onto a baking sheet.
Brush with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
Bake for 5-7 minutes until slightly browned and crispy. Remove from the oven and let cool.
Add all the ingredients for the dressing into a blender and blend until completely smooth. Run the dressing through a fine strainer to get out any raisin pieces that might be left behind.
Add the shredded chicken to a bowl and toss together with ½ cup of the dressing.
Top each toasted baguette slice with about 2 tablespoons of the chicken, and a pinch of the shredded lettuce.
Top with shaved parmesan cheese and serve.
This one pan meal is a great way to kick-start your healthy eating New Years Resolutions. It’s easy to make, incredibly tasty, and quick quick quick – ready in about 30 minutes! All you need is a handful of veggies, some chicken breasts, a little Mediterranean seasoning (your favorite store-bought OR my easy recipe) and some fresh lemon slices for the ultimate one pan meal. Put this one on your menu, it will not disappoint!
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, pounded to even thickness
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • mediterranean seasoning (see note)
  • 1 lemon, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped or sliced
  • ½ cup kalamata olives, halved
  • 1 medium onion, chopped or sliced
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Season chicken with salt and pepper to taste and about 3 teaspoons Mediterranean seasoning on both sides. (see note)
  2. Combine lemon sliced, red bell peppers, olives, onions, and capers in a bowl. Drizzle with oil and stir to coat. Sprinkle with remaining Mediterranean seasoning and stir to coat well.
  3. Arrange chicken, lemon slices, red bell peppers, olives, onions, and cappers on a large, greased baking sheet.
  4. Bake, uncovered, for 15--20 minutes until chicken is cooked through and veggies are tender. Top with cracked black pepper and fresh herbs (optional) and serve immediately.
-For the Mediterranean seasoning, you can use about 1½ tablespoons of your favorite store-bought or homemade Mediterranean seasoning, OR you can whip up your own by stiring together the following: 2 teaspoons dried oregano, ¼ teaspoon ground thyme, 1 teaspoon paprika, ¼ teaspoon ground cumin, ½ teaspoon garlic powder, ½ teaspoon salt, ⅛ teaspoon garlic powder
-I like to cook the chicken in a greased skillet over medium heat on the stove top for 1-2 minutes on each side. This is an optional step but I like the added color and the slightly crispier exterior on the chicken from browning in the pan this way before baking,

  • 3-4 large russet potatoes, sliced into wedges
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • ½ cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • optional: fresh parsley (or cilantro), ranch or blue cheese dressing for dipping
  1. Preheat oven to 375. Lightly grease a large baking sheet and set aside.
  2. Place potato wedges in a large bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and toss to coat. In a small bowl whisk together salt, garlic powder, and Italian seasoning. Sprinkle potato wedges with the shredded cheese, tossing to coat, then sprinkle with the seasoning mixture.
  3. Place potato wedges on prepared baking sheet in a single layer with skin-sides-down. Bake for 25-35 minutes until potatoes are fork-tender and golden. Sprinkle with freshly chopped parsley and dressing for dipping.

Ingredients :
  • 2½ cups raw almonds
  • ¾ tsp cayenne pepper
  • ¾ tsp kosher salt
  • ¼ cup honey
  • ⅛ cup raw sugar
Instructions :
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Line a large rimmed cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  3. Mix ¾ tsp kosher salt and ⅛ cup raw sugar.
  4. Melt honey in a non-stick skillet over medium heat just until it's liquidy than add almonds and sprinkle with cayenne pepper. Mix until almonds are coated. Remove from heat.
  5. Spread nuts in a single layer over the lined baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes at 350°F.
  6. Remove from oven and let almonds cool on the counter 5 minutes, then toss them in the raw sugar/salt mixture.
  7. Place the almonds back onto the baking sheet or on the parchment paper and let them cool completely.

This easy braided hairstyle gives you the best of both worlds. You can wear your hair out but also keep your hair back from your face. If you have a fringe or bangs your can leave them loose or pin them back with bobby pins.

This easy braided hairstyle work in curly and straight hair. I wore this style in my wavy hair that you can see in my outfit post.

You’ll need two small clear hair elastics and bobby pins to do the half crown braid in your hair.

-Start by taking a 1-2 inch section of hair on one side of your hair above your ear. Split this section in three
  and make a braid (plait).
-Angle the braid back around your head and secure the end of the braid with a small clear hair elastic.
-Repeat on the other side, taking a section above your ear and making a braid (plait). Secure the end with a
 small clear elastic.
-Bring the first braid across the back of your head and pin in place with bobby pins.
-Cross the second braid over the first and tuck the end in behind the first braid. Secure in place with bobby

Styling tips
-Use small hair elastics as they are easier to hide in the finished hairstyle.
-Stretch out your braids before pinning them in place. This emphasises the shape of the braid and makes
  your hair look thicker.
-If you hair is long you can fold the braids in half before pinning them at the back of your head.
  Thank you for your lovely comments on my first outfit post and on facebook! I hope you try this hairstyle  
  too. Let me know how you would wear it!

piCture pOlish Electric Blue is a dark navy blue with a fierce shimmer throughout!  Here I’ve used two coats, though in real life (without bright lights and macro shots), one coat would be fine!  I used It’s So Easy StripeRite in white to do a simple snowflake and sealed it in with Glisten & Glow HK Girl (the rest of the nails are done in Out the Door…I save my HK Girl for nail art!  Must conserve its amazingness!).

Snowflake manicures are so delicate and beautiful and can be done in so many ways.  It always amuses me though how “pretty” snowflake manis are when in real life, snow can be so gross after we drive around in it, but they’re still fun to wear!  piCture pOlish is based in Australia, but is available worldwide through a variety of stockists!  To learn where you can get piCture pOlish shades
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