Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Southwest Pasta Salad

Dear Blog,
I am sorry that I have neglected you for the past 12 days. I realize that you must have missed me terribly and that our time apart was as hard for you as it was for me. I wish that I could tell you a witty reason for my absence, but all I can say is shit life happens. However, in attempts to right my wrong, here is a delicious, colorful and flavor-packed pasta salad.


Hi friends! Did you miss me? Better yet, do you like pasta salad? I sure do. Pasta salad is a staple for summer in my world. There is just something about chilled pasta mixed with creamy sauce and endless colorful, crisp veggies! When I found a recipe for this Southwest Pasta Salad, I couldn't resist. I tweaked it a bit, just to give it a touch of Sabrina-ness. Trust me when I say that this stuff was well liked. I think Ryan ate over 20 bowls of it. Not so much by choice, I doubled the recipe and ended up with enough pasta salad to feed the Chinese army. But hey, who's complainin' here?

Southwest Chicken Pasta Salad
Adapted from You Made That?
3 cups uncooked shell pasta
1/2 cup of frozen corn rinses and thawed
1/2 can drained and rinsed black beans
1/2 bell pepper chopped
1 large tomato chopped
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
green onions or red onions chopped (I used both)
2 jalapenos diced
8 slices of cooked bacon chopped
2 chicken breasts grilled and chopped bite size (I used rotisserie chicken)
1/4 BBQ sauce (I used Sweet Baby Ray's Honey Chipolte BBQ Sauce)
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 Ranch Dressing (I used Marie's)

Wash and prepare all the vegetables. Cook and chop bacon, chop grilled chicken or rotisserie chicken. Measure out 3 cups of dry uncooked medium shell pasta. Fill a large stock pot with water about 8 cups, add some salt and boil water. When water is boiling add the pasta and cook according to package directions.

While pasta is cooking mix the sauce together by combining the mayonnaise, BBQ sauce and ranch dressing in a small bowl. In a medium size bowl mix all the veggies together.

In a medium large bowl put cooked and cooled pasta, chicken and bacon in, then add the veggies and sauce. Stir the salad salad well and regrigerate for a few hours.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Star Spangled Sugar Cookies and Firework Pretzel Sticks

I hope that everyone had a great 4th of July holiday! I celebrated the birth of America with great friends, food, and lots of sunshine. I spent the day on Ft. Desoto beach and somehow only managed to come home a slightly darker color than off-white. I was at the beach for over 7 hours and didn't even get a tan! How does that happen!? I did however manage not to get a sunburn, which is rare for me. I guess next time I won't apply sunscreen every 30 minutes. It is a shame for a Floridian to be as white as I am. I could seriously give Casper a run for his money. I used to tan constantly, but I finally gave up in attempts to not resemble a strap of leather when I am 40. Oh, I almost forgot! My feet were attacked by an army of ants.

Despite the lack of tan and hundred ant bites, I had a really fun day! I don't know if I have said it before, but Ryan and I are a really goofy couple. We are two of a kind in every sense of the word, and our weirdness together is what makes us great (in my opinion). We went to Walmart a few days ago and really prepared for the 4th of July holiday. Below is a picture of Ryan in all his glory. And yes, he really wore this to the beach:

Look at that shirt - I have the best fiance ever, seriously! Any man who will wear that shirt out in public to see me smile is a keeper. I complimented Ryan's outfit by wearing a picnic table cloth patterned bathing suit, a giant t-shirt featuring a dog in a U.S Marines uniform with an American flag, and ridiculously tacky red, white, blue star earrings. Sexy would be an understatement.

When it comes to holidays I am a bit of a dork, I think it is the teacher in me. I love to make holidays fun and festive. So, when we were invited to a beach picnic for the 4th I knew I had to make some 4th of July worthy treats! First on the list? These star spangled red, white, and blue iced sugar cookies. Have you ever had a Loft House sugar cookie? (I always see them at Walmart). These cookies taste pretty much just like those. I am in love.

Sugar Cookies
Adapted from The Galley Gourmet
5 1/2 to 6 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup (16 Tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
3 extra large eggs at room temperature
1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups sour cream

In a large bowl whisk 5 1/2 cups of the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt; set aside. 

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the vanilla and eggs; scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Mix in the sour cream until well blended. With the mixer on low, gradually add the flour mixture until a sticky dough forms. Add up to an additional 1/2 cup of flour to achieve a soft, but still slightly sticky dough. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface. Divide the dough in half and shape into rectangles about 1 1/2 inches thick. Wrap each rectangle in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat the oven to 425ยบ F. Lightly flour a sheet of parchment or silicone pastry mat. Working with one rectangle of dough at a time, roll each out to 1/4 inch thickness. Using a 2 1/2-inch round cookie cutter, cut out the cookies and transfer them to a parchment lined baking sheet. Re-roll scraps and cut out.

Bake for 7 minutes until pale golden. Transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.

Cookie Icing
1 cup (16 Tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract
5 cups confectioners' sugar
4-6 Tablespoons milk
Food coloring

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter, salt, and vanilla. With the mixer on low, gradually add the confectioners' sugar one cup at a time until smooth. Add the milk one tablespoon at a time until desired consistency. Add food coloring of your choice.

When the cookies are cool, frost the tops with the frosting and decorate with sprinkles.  Allow the cookies to set out until the frosting has set. Store in an airtight container between sheets of parchment for several hours or overnight to allow the flavors to develop.

Pour yourself a glass of milk and enjoy!

My second treat is a staple in my house come any holiday. I love making candy coated pretzel sticks because they are easy, fun, and versatile for every holiday! When I make these, they do not last long. I find it funny that one of the easiest things to make is what everyone seems to fight over! I promise if you make these, you will become very popular at any party or event! 

Pretzel Sticks
Bag of pretzel rods
Candy melts, any flavor
Sprinkles, coconut, M&M's and any other toppings

Melt candy according to package directions. Using a knife, cover 3/4 of pretzel rod with candy coating and immediately cover with chosen toppings. Transfer decorated pretzel sticks to parchment paper until candy has hardened. 

The toppings are limitless, which makes these little things so fun! I thought the colors resembled fireworks. What do you think?


I have been nominated for two blog awards this week, how awesome is that? I have to say that these awards are super exciting for me, as I only started Sugarly Ever After 2 months ago! I am so happy to know that readers are enjoying my blog and getting something out of it! It makes the entire experience so worthwhile and rewarding!

I've been awarded the Liebster Blog Award by the amazingly talented Emma of Food, Fork & Good. Not only does she post delicious recipes, but she is truly an inspiration with the weight loss achievements she has made. Having lost nearly 70lbs myself back in the day, I love reading her recipes because she truly makes healthy tasty! Go check out her blog, you will love it!

The rules of this award are:
1. Thank your nominator (and link back!) 
2. Nominate 5 other blogs, with less than 200 followers and post a comment on each blog letting them know they have been given the award. 
3. Copy and paste the award onto your blog.

I'd love to nominate:
1.) Laurie's Cravings
2.) It's the Cookie Monster
3.) Red Shallot Kitchen
4.) Little Lady of Mine
5.) Persnickety Plates


I've also been awarded the Awesome Blogger Award by the lovely Laurie of Laurie's Cravings. She is another inspiring woman and I love following her blog! Thanks for the award, I am thrilled!

These are the lovely ladies I would love to nominate:
6.) Teacher by Day - Chef by Night
7.) The Daily Smash
8.) Awkward Kitchenette

These ladies always leave me sweet and motivating comments! They are on my must-read list, and I get so many wonderful ideas from all of them!

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Jalapeno Bacon Twice Baked Potatoes

I woke up today (at 11am) and didn't even know if it was Sunday or Monday. What is happening to me? This whole having the summer off thing is great, but it really is turning me lazy! I guess the go, go, go from the past school year really wore me out because I find no greater pleasure these days than sitting on my couch searching Pinterest (yes, I am addicted). You know what the problem is with Pinterest? It makes me hungry. I spend hours looking through delicious recipes and instead of working out or getting off of my butt, I sit and dream about all the yummy things I want to get in my belly. Which, usually leads to my making all of these things, eating them, and regretting it afterwards. 

In all honesty, Ryan eats the majority of everything I make and then says it is my fault he is getting "fat". He claims I guilt him into eating more of what I make because I joke around about him not liking it. Men, they really are something else sometimes! However, I will start taking all leftover baked goods to our apartment office, so they do not linger in our kitchen. Living away from friends and family makes the whole cooking/baking hobby difficult - we have no one to give the food to, and we feel inclined to eat it ourselves so it doesn't go to waste. No bueno when you are trying to get slim for a wedding!

Oh yeah, Pinterest makes me hate my closet, my home, and my hair too! Okay, my rant is over. Time for twice-baked potato goodness!

Jalapeno-Bacon Twice Baked Potatoes
8 baking potatoes
2 sticks butter
1 cup crumbled bacon or bacon bits (I prefer Wrights Applewood bacon, it is the best)
1 cup sour cream
1 jalapeno, cored and chopped
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese + 1 cup for topping
Green onions (as many or as little as you want)
1 teaspoon seasoning salt (soul seasoning, or regular salt will work too)
1 teaspoon black pepper
Dash red pepper (only if you want a bit of a kick)
2 or more tablespoons milk (may need for mashing potatoes)

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Wash 8 baking potatoes and place on oven rack. Bake for an hour and 20 minutes or until potatoes are cooked through. 

Slice butter into square sections and place them into a large mixing bowl. Add bacon, sour cream, jalapeno, 1 cup cheddar cheese, seasoning salt, black pepper, and red pepper.

Once done baking, use a dish towel to hold hot potatoes while cutting them in half lengthwise using a serrated knife. Scrape insides of potatoes out with a spoon into the mixing bowl. Set shells of potatoes onto a cookie sheet.

Using a mixer, or potato masher (I used my mixer with the paddle attachment), mix ingredients together, adding milk depending on the texture desired. Fill potato shells with mixture and top with shredded cheese. Bake potatoes for 15-20 minutes at 350 degrees.