Friday, September 30, 2011

Your Daily Dose of Cute

red panda

Red Pandas, commonly known as Firefoxes due to their red colored fur and their fox-like appearance, are the most floofy, cuddly, friendly creatures I have ever seen.  If you watch this pandacam and you don't find yourself SQEEEEEing from total cuteness overload, then you just might have a heart of stone.

Sadly, these sweet Red Pandas are endangered.  Their habitat is being cut down and they have nowhere to safely live in peace.  The Red Panda Network works hard to protect their forests and grow their species count by, among other things, safely breeding Red Panda babies in zoos where there are people who specialize in raising Red Pandas.  The RPN is currently building a Community Conservation Center in Nepal, home of the Red Panda, where they can do community outreach to educate people about the importance of their forests, as well as in-field research.  Here is a video of the future location of the Community Center in Nepal:

The Knoxville Zoo has this awesome live pandacam where you can watch the babies Dolly, Bernadette and Winston play and bottle feed in their oh-so-comfy looking nursery.  Don't miss the bottle feedings around 12:45pm daily, it is way too precious.

If you would like to donate to The Red Panda Network, one neat way that benefits both you and the RPN is to adopt a Red Panda.  For only $40 you can have pictures and a wallpaper for your computer of your newly adopted panda, an adoption certificate, and more.  With the holidays coming up, this could be a great gift for the animal lover in your life, or for your wishlist if you are the animal lover.

International Red Panda Day is a day devoted to the celebration of and community education about the Firefoxes. We just celebrated the day on September 17.  Don't forget to post about it next year on your Facebook/Gplus/Twitter accounts and get the word out!
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Friday, September 23, 2011

September's YBR Submission

It's that time again- I am submitting my Sausage and Peppers recipe for September's YBR event. Nancy at Spicie Foodie holds the "Your Best Recipe" list monthly and anyone with a food blog can submit their best recipe for the month.  This list is not a contest, but a great way to share favorite recipes from across the globe.  All you have to do to submit your favorite recipe from your food blog is to follow a few small rules that you will find by clicking on the YBR button above.  Happy Fall everyone!

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Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Vacation Time!

Weather Report at Home:

Weather Report on Vacation:

Any Questions?

I will be back posting again soon.  Until then, it's beach weather my friends! Adieu!

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Monday, September 19, 2011


sausage and peppers

This recipe for Sausage and Peppers came from my Mother-in-Law.  For years, only my husband could replicate the delicious meal in our home, but I have now mastered the art of this amazing dish.  Here is the recipe:

Sausage and Peppers

·      6 Premio brand sweet sausages
·         6 Premio brand hot sausages

·      2 Tbsp and 2 tsp olive oil
·         2 jars Victoria Fra Diavlo sauce


·       1 box Ronzoni thin spaghetti
·         1 large yellow onion- chopped (1 inch pieces)
·         2 large green peppers- chopped (1 inch pieces)
·         Grated Parmesan cheese to garnish (Most times I don’t use it, dish doesn’t need it)

·         Large sauté pan with cover
·         Stock pot and strainer for pasta
·         Large Tongs
·         Paring knife
·         Cutting board
·         Large baking dish (9 x13 Pyrex dish or I love my Dansk 13.25” Paella Pan)

1.  Preheat oven to 425° F

2.  Cook pasta for 1 minute less than the minimum time on the box’s cooking directions.  

3.  While the pasta is cooking, heat the oil in a large sauté pan to medium high (electric stove is between 7 and 8).

4.  Right before smoking temp is reached, place sausages in the pan. Brown the sausages on three sides for about 2 minutes or so per side or until slightly darker than golden brown.  They brown fast so keep an eye on them.

5.  When browning the fourth side, add the slices of onion and green pepper, so they are on top of the sausages, and turn the heat down to medium, (electric stove between 5 and 6).

6.  Cover and let the onions and peppers soften, approximately 10 minutes.  (I usually go by the color of the green pepper.  When it turns a soft green, it’s done.)

7.  Pour 1 full jar of the Victoria’s Fra Diavlo sauce into the baking dish.

8.  When pasta is fully cooked, strain and add the pasta to baking dish and mix with the uncooked sauce in the pan.

9.  Once the sausages, peppers and onions are done, place the sausages on top of the pasta, nestling the sausages just slightly into the pasta as you place them.

10.  Top with peppers and onions, making sure to keep as much of the fat in the pan out of the baking dish.

11.  Top with remaining jar of Fra Diavlo sauce.

12.  Bake in middle of oven at 425 ° F for 35 minutes.  (The temp seems high, but it is vital to make the most flavorful dish, where the flavors are blended all the way through, and some pasta crisps along the edge which is a treat if you are lucky enough to get some on your plate.  I have tested many different temps and 425 degrees Fahrenheit is the best choice by far.)

This is the finished product:

You can add some grated Parmesan cheese to the plated meal if you prefer, but it really doesn't need it.  This dish is so easy I make it during weeknights with no problems whatsoever.  It also makes a ton, so you can eat it for lunches or for dinner again the next night.  Mangia!
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Sunday, September 18, 2011


Here is a cupcake cake I made for a colleague's son's first birthday party:

cupcake safari cake

The Elmo cupcake is for the birthday boy who is turning 1.  The other cake is a jungle themed cake and I had to make four of them.  The animals are made purely of fondant and the palm trees are piped royal icing on top of pretzel rods.

The four cakes took me three entire nights after work, but after it was all said and done, I think it was worth the work. 

For those of you in need of a laugh, check out Cakewrecks, a funny blog that makes pithy comments about professional cake disasters that blog readers submit pictures of.  They also sometimes show awesome cakes that are so impressive it's hard to pass up the opportunity to share the pictures.
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