Follow me, Like me, yada yada

This social media spam is brought to you by Ryan Gosling with a kid.  Because really, what is there not to love about that?

I’ve been wanting to do a post like this for a while.  Despite the follow-me and like-me buttons sprinkled on the page, I feel like a little right-here-right-now endorsement could be helpful.  Because only about two of you actually follow me on social media.  Which is cool and all, but there are SO MANY SHENANIGANS that happen off the site.  Like, seriously.

So, here is my pitch!

I post a lot of food pictures.  I talk about a lot of tv.  And on occasion I have been known to be entertaining.  So, make of that what you will and PLEASE follow me on the social media bandwagon!

You can follow me on Twitter HERE.

You can like Tip Top Shape (and me!) on Facebook HERE.

And you can make fun of my attempt at photography on Instagram HERE.

Btw, I follow back 😀

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Funfetti Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

There is not a single thing I don’t love about funfetti cupcakes.  They’re fun to eat. Fun to make.  Fun to say.

It’s fun all around!

They’re honestly one of my favorite things to make and are ridiculously easy to whip up when you have a sudden urge or need to bake.  All they really require is a basic vanilla cupcake and then some sprinkles.  Throw it all together and – voila!  You have a delightful little confection that brings a little sunshine to any party or gathering.

I made these for a Fresh Prince of Bel-air marathon that Sarah and hosted last week.  For those of you wondering why we had a Fresh Prince marathon – my response is why would we NOT  have a Fresh Prince marathon?  There’s a lot of Will Smith love here.  And it was on a Wednesday, so we were able to give the party the overarching theme of Will Smith Wednesday.

We like our alliteration over here.

By the way, I just tried to spell alliteration starting with an “i”.  Yes, I am in law school.

But back to the cupcakes.  These went over marvelously with the guests.  I think my one friend had three.  Mostly everyone else had two.  The cupcakes end up nice and dense with the perfect amount of sweetness.  The buttercream frosting is the perfect match for the heavier cupcake base.  I definitely would recommend making these for any event.

Funfetti Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream Frosting

Ingredients:

For the cupcakes:       

1/2 cup butter, room temperature

1 cup sugar

2 eggs, room temperature

1 tbsp vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 cup milk

1/3 cup multi-color sprinkles

For the frosting:

2 sticks of butter, softened and cut into cubes

4 cups powdered sugar

1 tbsp heavy cream

2 tsp vanilla extract 

pinch of salt

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a bowl, mix together the flour and baking powder.  Set aside.

Cream butter and sugar together in a bowl.  Add the eggs and vanilla until just combined.  Alternate mixing in the milk and flour mixture, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.  Fold in the sprinkles.

Pour into prepared cupcake tins 2/3 of the way full, and bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of a cupcake comes out clean.  Let cool and frost.

For the frosting, beat the butter until smooth.  Add the remaining ingredients and mix until the frosting forms.  You may have to adjust the amount of sugar and heavy cream.  If your frosting is too thick, add more cream.  If it becomes too thin, add more sugar.

Source: Bakerita

I love you, Starbucks

I am currently typing from my local Starbucks with my venti soy misto and the slice of coffee cake that I told myself repeatedly I would not order.  Starbucks is something I really miss from undergrad.  I lived in the city and had no less than five Starbucks in walking distance from my apartment.  I have rose-tinted memories of Starbucks-hopping on weekends when the line would be too long or one didn’t have a table open by an outlet.  By the way, have you noticed that the tables with outlets are primo real estate at coffee shops?  Every time I snag one I feel like I won the lottery.  Anyhoo, Starbucks are pretty sparse near U of I.  There’s one near campus but it’s always filled with undergrads which…just…no.

Since I’ve been home, I’ve gone to Starbucks nearly every day to work on my outlines for finals.  It’s nice to get away from the house with my distracting family (I love them – but they are not conducive for studying) and I get to have my favorite drink.  And coffee cake.  And play spot-the-hometown-person-you-haven’t-seen-in-years.  I ran into my old badminton coach and both of us sort of stared at each other with that I-know-you-but-I-don’t-know-your-name look.  Needless to say, neither of us said hi.  But she did pay my skyscraper pile of casebooks a long glance.

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, I thought I’d share with you all some royal icing cookies I made with my friend Meg a week or so back.  Meg is one of those people that I am insanely happy I have met in law school.  We’re both crazy cooks and Annie’s Eats fanatics.  I know that if I want to talk to someone about the chili I made over the weekend or my batch of cookies from the night before, Meg is my go-to.

I’m going to spare you a recipe here and just tell you all to go to Annie’s Eats and read her post on royal icing.  She puts it much more eloquently than I ever could.

Hope everyone is enjoying the pre-holiday days and for my law school peeps — hang in there!!

Spiced Pork Tenderloin with Sauteed Apples

Thank you so much for your kind words on the last post.  I definitely still miss him, but it has gotten better each day.  That’s largely due to the support around me, which includes all of you.  So, thank you again.

Now, on to happier trails.  I went grocery shopping today and did not have one single impulse buy.  Can you believe it?  Usually I go all sorts of crazy in the frozen food aisle — especially the frozen vegetables (weird, I know) – but today I stayed on track.  I also had a successful interaction with the butcher.  For those of you who don’t know, butchers intimidate me so I avoid them at all costs.  I needed a single pound pork tenderloin for this recipe, though, and all they had were two pound tenderloins out.  Not wanting to pay twice as much for extra meat that I didn’t need, I put on my big girl panties and asked for help.  Obviously I survived, so it wasn’t too bad.

I’m really excited to tell you all about this recipe today.  It’s from the newest issue of Cooking Light, and when I saw it I knew it would be on the week’s menu.  I’m in love with all things fall (even as we’re slowly creeping toward winter) and this just SCREAMS fall.  Sauteed apples.  Cinnamon.  Nutmeg.  It’s an autumn dream come true.  The best thing is that it literally comes together in twenty minutes.  It’s a quick meal that’s special enough to add some elegance to your weeknights.

Spiced Pork Tenderloin with Sauteed Apples

Ingredients:

1 lb pork tenderloin, sliced crosswise into 12 pieces

1/4 tsp pepper

3/8 tsp salt

1/4 tsp coriander

1/8 tsp nutmeg

1/8 tsp cinnamon

2 cups apples, sliced thinly

1 shallot, sliced thinly

1/4 cup apple cider

1 tsp fresh thyme

Directions:

Mix together the pepper, salt, coriander, nutmeg and cinnamon.  Sprinkle evenly over the tenderloin chops and press into the meat.  Heat a large saute pan over medium heat and spray with cooking oil.  Cook the chops for 3 minutes per side.  Set aside and keep warm.

Place the apples and shallot in the saute pan and cook until softened, about 4 minutes.  Add the apple cider and cook for another two minutes.  Sprinkle on the thyme and serve with the pork.

Source:  Cooking Light

Remembering

I know this blog is typically all jokes and powdered sugar, but today will be different.  Yesterday, a friend of mine passed away.  I won’t go into the details, but it really affected me.  It was sudden, and I’m left now with the seemingly impossible fact that he isn’t there anymore.  There was this person who was a part of my life, and now he isn’t.

I’ve never dealt with death before.  Besides the occasional distant relative passing, I’ve been spared from losing people close to me.  Because of that, I don’t know how to feel.  I don’t know what to think or what to do.  I want to cry, but then I feel like I’m overreacting.  If I’m not crying, I feel like I’m not caring enough.  I’m trying to move on and act like everything is okay, but the bottom line is that it isn’t.

In the midst of thinking about his family and how awful this time must be for them, I find myself thinking of absolutely ridiculous and inconsequential things.  I think about how he never got around to sending me that recipe he made for his anniversary with his girlfriend.  I think about how he’ll never get to see see the new companion on Doctor Who or find out who the mother is on How I Met Your Mother.  We used to always go back and forth about TV shows, and all I can think about is that we will never do that again.  We’ll never disagree about whether or not Once Upon A Time was good this week.  We’ll never dissect Doctor Who to painful detail.  It’s hard for me to really wrap my mind around the fact that this person who I talked to a week ago isn’t here anymore.  It doesn’t seem possible.  It doesn’t seem real.

Sometimes I forget he’s gone – just for a second.  I’ll be reading cases or typing up notes and just for a second, he’s not gone.  But then I remember and it hurts all over again, maybe worse than before.  Because every second I forget and remember, he’s gone another second.  And it hurts.

I guess the point of this post is to realize that life truly is short.  You never know what your next day will bring.  It could bring something wonderful and beautiful.  Or it can bring something truly awful.  The one thing that I’ve really taken from this is that you cannot take your friends and family for granted.  Recognize those relationships that you have in your life and value them.  This experience has made me truly appreciate my friends here.  The ones who know what happened have been amazing in helping me get through this.  It’s comforting to know that even if I dont’ want to talk, there are people who are willing to listen.

So, do me a favor today and give your friend a hug.  Give your grandparents a call.  Take the time to nurture those relationships you have and be grateful that you have those people in your life.

Chocolate Toffee Shortbread Cookies

This recipe brought out the Paula Deen in me.

2 sticks of butter?  Yee haw!

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I love shortbread cookies because they are unapologetically unhealthy.  Yep, there’s about half a creamery in them but they aren’t giving any excuses.  You want a healthy cookie?  Go bake something with oatmeal.

These cookies take regular old shortbread to a whole different level by adding melted chocolate and toffee bits.  It results in a delectably sweet and rich cookie.  Double chins be damned.  Jiggly thighs take a number.  These cookies mean business, and I am more than happy to partake.

Chocolate Toffee Shortbread Cookies

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Ingredients:

For the shortbread base:

1 1/2 cups flour

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp cinnamon

2 sticks butter, at room temperature

1/2 cup brown sugar, packed

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

3 oz semisweet chocolate chips

For the topping:

6 oz semisweet chocolate

1 1/2 cups toffee bits

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, salt, and cinnamon and set aside.  Meanwhile, cream together the butter and sugars.  Blend in the vanilla.  Carefully add the flour mixture and process until incorporated.  Fold in the chocolate chips.  Pour the batter into a prepared 9×13 pan and bake for 18-20 minutes, until the shortbread is bubbling.  Remove from oven and put on a wire rack.

Sprinkle the shortbread with the chopped chocolate, cover with foil, and let sit for 5 minutes.  Remove the foil and use an offset spatula to spread the chocolate evenly across the shortbread.  Sprinkle on toffee bits and press down lightly to adhere.  Let bars cool at room temperature.  One cool, remove from the pan and chop into squares.

Source: Annie’s Eats

Steak Salad with Lemon-Parmesan Vinaigrette

This is another recipe repeat from the old blog.  But I figure that since half of you are new to here (hello law lovelies!), you won’t mind too much.  For the other half (hello to you, too!) please just bear with me for this one post.  Think of it as a reminder to make this.  Because really, you should make this.

I love to add leftover meat to salads.  It adds a lot of flavor to a salad and ensures that I don’t end up wasting leftovers.  This was steak that my grandpa made on his charcoal grill over the summer.  I am obsessed with that charcoal grill.  It’s this really small and old grill that I’m pretty sure he got from some garage sale in the 90s.  It takes twice as long to cook the meat as a propane gas grill would, but the cuteness factor wins out.  Plus, it gives me more time to be outside with him just talking and drinking wine.  Yeah, I’ll take the charcoal over propane gas grill any day.

You don’t need to have charcoal grilled stake for this, obviously, but it wouldn’t hurt.  And if you can add a grandpa and homemade wine – that wouldn’t hurt either.  I paired the steak with some sauteed zucchini and romaine.  The dressing is a really simple lemon viniagrette with parmesan cheese.  The steak pairs beautifully with the buttery zucchini, and make sure to load on the dressing!  It definitely makes the salad!

Steak Salad with Lemon-Parmesan Vinaigrette 

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Ingredients:

1 steak filet, sliced

1 zucchini, chopped
olive oil
lemon juice
parmesan cheese
1/2 head romaine, chopped
 
Directions:
 
I’m putting more winter friendly directions here for cooking the steak.  Leave the charcoal grills for the summer!
Heat a grill pan over medium heat.  Season the filet with salt and pepper on both sides.  Place on the grill pan and cook roughly 5 minutes per side for a medium-rare steak.  Set aside and let rest for 10-15 minutes.
 
In a saute pan, heat oil over medium heat.  Add the chopped zucchini and cook for 10-15 minutes, until tender.  Set aside. 
 
For the vinaigrette, whisk together the olive oil and lemon juice until emulsified.  Adjust the amount of each depending on how acidic you like your dressing.  More lemon if you enjoy acidity, less if you don’t.  Mix in the parmesan.  Combine all of the ingredients and toss to mix.
 
Serves: 1