Feb 7, 2013

Fiddle-leaf fig tree love

I have been in love with the Fiddle-Leaf Fig tree (aka Ficus Lyrata) since I first laid eyes on it through Pinterest. They are certainly one of the most beautiful and most dramatic plants I’ve ever seen. This tree is an indoor plant that resembles sculptural works of art. They bring life into a room with it’s large and shiny green fig leaves and over-sized structure. With some research I’ve learned that Fiddle-Leaf Figs are easy to care (my kind of plant!), loves the sun (our living room is the perfect spot) and requires minimal watering (good, because I tend to forget). These three aspects made me realize that even with my lack of a green thumb, I couldn’t screw this one up (right?)

Well, considering I don’t have much experience in plants, I didn’t want to take the chance of purchasing a mature Fiddle-Leaf Fig and having it die on me. I would have wasted over $100. So, I purchased a starter tree for a mere $14 ($7 for plant and $7 shipping). Lets take a look at my little starter:


Standing at nearly 10 inches tall, this starter arrived in the mail nicely packed. It was nestled in peanuts and was seating on a disposable warming pad since it was traveling through cold climate. The leaves were bright, everything was intact. Overall, it was definitely shipped with care.


“Can grow 15-30′” WHAT? Seriously? I bought a indoor plant that can potentially grow up to 15 feet?! Oh s***.


Just so you know, this plant is poisonous. Most ficus plants are apparently. I honestly did not realize this before placing my order. So, you probably don’t want it near any dogs that enjoy eating leaves and such, and that’s why I’ve placed my plant on the second shelf in the living room. For now, it’ll just live there until I figure something out. It gets some sun from the nearby window. So far, the tree has been doing quite well.



If I take care of this starter, I hope that after some time this little guy will grow into something like this that I found on Making It Lovely blog:


I just worry about the climate here in Virginia since these plants like their sun. But I’m taking a chance and if my little starter doesn’t do so good, oh well. I’ve only wasted $14. Here are a few more inspiring photos of what I hope my tree will become. Thanks, Pinterest!





I’ll certainly keep you posted on how my fiddle-leaf fig tree is doing! I’ve been advised to leave it alone during these winter months and when it gets warmer, to re-pot. If you have any suggestions/advice on how to take care of these kinds of plants, please leave me some love!

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Jan 27, 2013

Podzilla Friday Breakfast

The best thing happened at work last Friday. Our team (Podzilla) began a new tradition of bringing breakfast in every Friday morning. Best idea EVER. Susie, a fellow art director and cook/baker, signed up first and let me tell you, we were in for a treat. The day before she sent out a menu of what she was going to prepare. Yes, a menu of homemade whole wheat cranberry walnut bread, egg casserole with ham and hash browns, and lastly, fresh fruit. Everything she made for us was beautifully crafted and amazingly delicious. Lucky for you and me, she gave me the recipes she used, which I have included in this blog post. Many thanks to Susie for a great start to our Friday morning breakfast!



Whole Wheat Cranberry Walnut Bread
Serves 10 to 12

2 cups whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 egg
1/2 cup honey
1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries, rinsed and dried with paper towels

1 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat the oven to 375º.
Butter a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan and set aside.
Stir the flour, cinnamon, baking powder and baking soda together in a large bowl.
Cut in the butter cubes using a pastry cutter until coarse crumbs form; set aside.
In a large glass measuring cup, whisk together the buttermilk, vanilla, egg, and honey.
Gently stir the buttermilk mixture into the flour mixture just until blended.
Fold in the walnuts and cranberries.
Spread into the prepared pan.
Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean.
Allow to cool in pan for 30 minutes.
Remove from the pan and let cool completely on a wire rack.
In the meantime, whisk the glaze ingredients together in a small bowl and drizzle over the bread.



The whole wheat cranberry walnut bread was outstanding. It had a nice texture from the walnuts and some tartness from the cranberries. The simple glaze dressed the bread giving it some sweetness to every bite. Susie also brought a medley of fruits to accompany the bread and egg casserole. Strawberries, green grapes, sliced bananas and blueberries. Can’t get much better than this.



Last, but not least, the main dish. Susie’s egg casserole was so delicate and fluffy. It was baked to perfection. Very moist, didn’t feel heavy at all. I’ve had my share of egg casseroles and they tend to be very dense, but this was airy and light. Susie prepared it the night before and baked it in the oven the morning of. After the casserole was done baking, she wrapped it in foil and bath towels so that it kept hot during the car ride to work. It was steaming by the time the team broke into it. Genius!


Overnight Egg Casserole with Ham and Hash Browns
Serves 18

1 cup (4 ounces) Monterey Jack cheese, grated
1 cup (4 ounces) extra sharp Cheddar cheese, grated
1 package (30 ounces) frozen shredded hash browns (such as Oreda), thawed in the refrigerator
16 ounces (2 cups) fully cooked thick ham slices, cut into small cubes
1 can (7 ounces) chopped green chilies
12 eggs
2 cans (12 ounces each) evaporated milk
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Butter a 9 x 13 inch baking pan.
Grate the cheeses and set aside.
Sprinkle the hash brown into the pan covering the bottom completely.
Then sprinkle on in layers the ham, chilies, and cheeses; set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, evaporated milk, and pepper; pour evenly over the casserole.
Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight.
Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before baking.
Bake, covered with the foil, at 375º for 1 hour.
Remove the foil and bake for an additional 25 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Loosely cover with foil and let stand 10 minutes before serving.



Thanks so much Susie for sharing the recipes with Pretty Tasty Things readers. But more importantly, thank you so much for treating us to this artfully prepared breakfast. It was such a delightful morning!

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Jan 22, 2013

Colleen’s mean crab dip

From the kitchen of: Colleen L.  Makes: Enough for an 8×8 pan
Total time: 10 min to prep, 30 min to bake


The first time I experienced Colleen’s mean crab dip was during the afterparty for my husband’s 30th birthday. She was kind enough to ask me whether she can bring something. I, of course, said yes. She arrived to the party carrying this magical, decadent, cheesy, gooey crab dip. Not gonna lie, I tried to show her up with some imported slices of cheese, but they were no match for her dip. I got Colleen to email me the recipe and made it for some friends while we watched a football game. I did tweak it just a bit by adding a few spices … you know food bloggers like to change it up a bit. But, the beauty about this recipe is the fact it can be prepared the morning of or even the night before. Just cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until you’re ready to pop it in the oven. This may not be most figure-flattering dip, but it’s not like you’ll eat it every day. At least that’s what I tell myself :) Thanks, Colleen for sharing your recipe!

1 – 8 oz. packet of cream cheese
1/2 cup mayo
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup shredded swiss cheese
1/4 cup chopped onions
1 can of lump crab meat
couple dashes of paprika
couple dashes of onion powder
couple dashes of garlic powder

Don’t forget the pita chips!

1. Combine cheeses, mayo and onions.
Add the cream cheese, mayo, cheddar and swiss cheese, and chopped onions in a medium bowl. Blend together with a hand mixer until well combined.



2. Add spices and crab meat. At this point, add the spices and drained crab meat. Carefully mix together with a spatula to avoid breaking up the crab too much.



3. Bake and enjoy. Pour mixture in a 8×8 pan and pop in a preheated 350° oven. Bake for 30 minutes until the top is brown and bubbly. Serve immediately with some pita chips.



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Jan 3, 2013

Best in 2012

If you recall, last year I wrote “Best in 2011” and it was by far one of my favorite posts. I took over thousands of photos in the past year and going through all of them just reminded me of all the fun times that were had. That’s why I take photos. I love capturing each little or big moment so down the road when I’m old and forgetful, I have my photos to bring a smile to my face. This year has been crazy, crazy awesome, so I hope you enjoy these images. But more importantly, I want to wish you a new year of some beautiful and memorable moments for yourself.

Without further adieu (and in no particular order) here are my favorite moments:

IMG_4989 IMG_5944IMG_721623
IMG_0448 IMG_1126 IMG_2381IMG_8897IMG_3256 IMG_0902TheBeerGames 420 IMG_2661 IMG_3524 IMG_3599IMG_2906 IMG_3959IMG_3476 IMG_3984 IMG_4134 IMG_3842IMG_0044IMG_4919IMG_2848IMG_5263 photo-13 IMG_5543photo-12IMG_1815IMG_5652IMG_5593 IMG_5773 IMG_6215 IMG_6323 IMG_6824 IMG_6295IMG_7111IMG_7314IMG_6334IMG_9793 photo(11)IMG_6000

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Nov 25, 2012

Happy Bellies on Thanksgiving

I don’t know about you, but I had my fair share of food on Thanksgiving day. It hurt to move. Ha, seriously it did. This year, my husband and I celebrated Thanksgiving at home with my mother-in-law. It was just the three of us this year, which meant more wine and leftovers for us. Haha. This was also the first time I actually made a “Thanksgiving” meal since we typically go home either to D.C. or Roanoke, but we decided to stay put. The first thing I had to do was create the menu. I did lots of searching online for some new recipes I wanted to try. I did what I could to prepare some ahead of time, while the rest I cooked the morning of. Check out these recipes I created for our first Thanksgiving meal that I will certainly keep in my back pocket:

1. THE TURKEY & GRAVY: My first experience roasting a turkey went pretty well. Not gonna lie, it wasn’t perfect. We used a roaster with a cover which helped keep the turkey moist and tender. We removed the cover at the last 30 minutes of the roasting process, which wasn’t enough to brown the skin. We couldn’t leave it in the oven much longer because the turkey would have dried out. So we sacrificed the crispy skin for moist meat. Next time, I want both! With the pan drippings, I made a homemade gravy by just starting a roux (butter and flour) in a saucepan and gradually adding the drippings, stock and seasoning. Definitely much better than anything in a jar.

2. GARLIC & PARM MASHED POTATOES: I got two secrets to the perfect mashed potatoes. One, use gold potatoes. They have a great consistency when mashed. Two, simmer milk/heavy cream with finely diced garlic (about 4-5 cloves), some butter and a few herbs you have on hand. Simmering this mixture while the potatoes are boiling will just infuse all the flavors so nicely. This is a full proof way for flavorful mashed potatoes. Once you combine everything, add salt to taste.

3. FRESH GREEN BEAN CASSEROLE: I’ve had the typical canned green bean casserole. It’s not that bad, but it could be better. I found this particular green bean casserole on a cooking blog called Brown Eyed Baker. What appealed to me about this recipe is the the fact you can prepare this ahead of time and nothing came out of a can (besides the fried onions). The night before Thanksgiving, I made the casserole and refrigerated it overnight. The day of, I made the topping, popped the casserole in the oven for 10 minutes to reheat and added the topping to crisp up. This is not the moist figure-friendly recipe, but it had a fresh and clean taste to it without the use of anything canned.

4. SOURDOUGH BREAD STUFFING. Step away from the Stove-top and check out this amazing recipe for homemade sourdough bread stuffing from Dave Lieberman. Ahhhh, it is SOOO good. Like seriously. This recipe is definitely a keeper. I purchased the sourdough loaf from Panera and followed the recipe. The directions were pretty straightforward and simple, but the dish itself was rustic, moist, earthy and just delish. The sourdough just soaked up the flavors so perfectly. This dish is even better reheated since we did have lots of leftovers.

5. DINNER YEAST ROLL: So, I didn’t make these from scratch. I just couldn’t make myself! I cheated and purchased a bag of Sister Schubert’s dinner yeast rolls from Kroger. These were just delicious and didn’t require any work from me, which I liked. I just placed the rolls on a cookie sheet, added a smear of butter on the top and popped them in a hot oven for 10 minutes. These were the last thing we baked before we ate. Easy peasy!

6. CREME BRULEE: Last, but not least, the dessert. So I have something to admit. I am not a fan of apple, pumpkin, fruit pie. I don’t know why, I just never had an appetite for them. So, I decided to make something different. I made creme brulee from an easy recipe I found online. I noticed just from searching recipes, that creme brulee require the same few ingredients – egg yolks, heavy cream, sugar and vanilla extract (or vanilla bean). I made these Monday evening and refrigerated them until I was ready to serve. I bruleed the top and popped them back in the fridge to harden for a bit. This dessert is super rich and decadent. A little definitely goes a long way. I loved it, but maybe next time I’ll try to lighten it up a bit.

So, that’s what we ate for Thanksgiving! I hope you give some of these recipes a shot because they were really good especially that bread stuffing! I just love trying new recipes. Did you find a recipe for Thanksgiving and absolutely loved it? Please share with me by leaving a comment below. Would love to hear from you!

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