Thursday, May 31, 2012

May Foodie Penpals Reveal!


Hey lovelies! Can’t tell you how excited I am to share my very first Foodie Penpals reveal with y’all today! When I read about this program on The Lean Green Bean last month I signed up almost immediately! I thought it sounded like the coolest concept. Every month you’re paired up with other bloggers to send each other fun foodie packages. I mean, yummy goodies delivered right to your doorstep once a month, yes, please! Right up my ally! :)


This month I received this lovely package from Carrie over at Bakeaholic Mama. Carrie makes the most delish looking food and desserts, and I instantly loved her blog. So I was definitely jazzed about the pairing!


I was beyond excited when the goodies finally arrived! Who doesn’t love getting things in the mail, right? But somehow it’s so much more fun when it’s food! I took some photos and then dove right in! And of course, being the chocoholic that I am, I went straight for the chocolate! :)


I was so happy to see a big bar of Lindt Chocolate upon opening the package. I have an eye for chocolate so it’s the first thing I spotted lol. I love Lindt and had never tried this kind before. This Black Currant Dark Chocolate Bar with Almonds was so good! I’ve never actually tried currants so I didn’t know what it would be like, but I loved the way the berry flavor tasted with the dark chocolate!


Okay, this was my favorite thing from the whole package! Seriously, this maple candy was to die for! I had never tasted anything like it! I think this candy could be potentially addicting. It had the best sweet maple taste and just melted in your mouth. And it smelt so amazing! But since I shared some of it with my family, it went so fast! But I did look it up on the internet, it’s from Ben’s Sugar Shack in New Hampshire…and they sell boxes of them. Oh yeah! I see some candy ordering in my future! ;)


This maple syrup, also from Ben’s Sugar Shack (these goodies make me want to live in New Hampshire ;)), was so delish on pancakes! It made for a very happy breakfast! And maybe it’s totally girly for me to say this, but I thought the little carton was really cute! lol


And last but not least, Laurel Hill Vin Rose Wine Jelly! I was so intrigued by the name, I had never tried Rose Wine Jelly before. It sounds so sophisticated. :) To me, it kind of had a honey flavor to it. It was so delish! My family and I finished most of it within a couple days.

I just want to say thank you to Carrie for all these yummy treats! It was so fun devouring them! I hope you all check out her blog and drool over her recipes. :)

I had such a blast with Foodie Penpals and am so excited to do it again in June! I want to say thank you to Lindsay over at The Lean Green Bean for putting this awesome program together! I know it can’t be easy organizing it all but I’m so glad she does! And if this appeals to the foodie in you, consider signing up for June! The info is below! Hope you join in the foodie fun! :)

- On the 5th of every month, you will receive your penpal pairing via email. It will be your responsibility to contact your penpal and get their mailing address and any other information you might need like allergies or dietary restrictions.

- You will have until the 15th of the month to put your box of goodies in the mail. On the last day of the month, you will post about the goodies you received from your penpal!

- The boxes are to be filled with fun foodie things, local food items or even homemade treats! The spending limit is $15. The box must also include something written. This can be anything from a note explaining what’s in the box, to a fun recipe…use your imagination!

- You are responsible for figuring out the best way to ship your items depending on their size and how fragile they are. (Don’t forget about flat rate boxes!)

- Foodie Penpals is open to blog readers as well as bloggers. If you’re a reader and you get paired with a blogger, you are to write a short guest post for your penpal to post on their blog about what you received. If two readers are paired together, neither needs to worry about writing a post for that month.

- Foodie Penpals is open to US & Canadian residents.  Please note, Canadian Residents will be paired with other Canadians only. We've determined things might get too slow and backed up if we're trying to send foods through customs across the border from US to Canada and vice versa.

If you’re interested in participating for June, please CLICK HERE to fill out the participation form and read the terms and conditions.

You must submit your information by June 4th as pairings will be emailed on June 5th!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Smokey Southern Spaghetti Carbonara

Hey foodies! I just realized that I hadn’t posted this delish pasta recipe from the southern queen of butter herself, Paula Deen, and I had to fix that. You need this pasta dish in your life. I’m always on the look out for great pasta recipes and this one has become a staple.

Now, I will be the first to admit that sometimes Ms. Paula goes a smidge overboard with food…(who deep fries cranberry sauce??) but you can’t deny that she does southern cooking right. I got this pasta recipe from the Bible… her Southern Cooking Bible that is; a big, thick book full of all her buttery, deep fried goodies. My sister (who now lives in Paula’s home state of GA) was given this cookbook as a gift and brought it with her when she was visiting recently. This was the only recipe we tried but it was definitely a winner! So if you’re looking for a great pasta dish, you’ll want to give this Carbonara a try. :)

Smokey Southern Spaghetti Carbonara -

(Recipe from Paula Deen’s Southern Cooking Bible)

You simply cannot go wrong with bacon, parmesan cheese, hot sauce, and pasta, can you? Not possible. Those are the flavors you will find in this Smokey Southern Spaghetti Carbonara. This pasta dish is rich, creamy, and full of flavor. It’s also really quick and easy to whip up. We substituted the spaghetti for angel hair as we like it better and always have some on hand, and we also doubled the sauce.

Speaking of the sauce, you may notice that it has raw eggs in it and, like me, start to wonder if you’re about to contract salmonella. Well not to worry, the eggs get cooked as you toss it with the really hot pasta, as opposed to cooking the sauce which would scramble the eggs. So the trick is to immediately toss the hot pasta with the sauce and you will live to see another day.


Serve this pasta with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese and parsley and devour!

Ahem, it just wouldn’t be right if I didn’t end this blog with this: Wishing you love and best dishes from my kitchen to yours! ;)

1/2 pound bacon, chopped
1 1/4 cups grated Parmesan cheese (about 5 ounces)
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 large eggs
Tabasco or other hot sauce
Black pepper
1 pound spaghetti
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped

In a large, deep skillet, cook the bacon over medium high heat until crisp, about 5 minutes. Drain the bacon on a paper towel-lined plate. Take the skillet off the heat, but don’t drain off the bacon fat.

In a bowl, whisk together the Parmesan, cream, eggs, 3/4 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce, and black pepper to taste.

In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta according to the package directions. Drain well.

While the pasta cooks, return the skillet to medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat.

Immediately add the hot pasta, the bacon, and the egg mixture to the skillet; toss everything together to combine. The heat from the pasta and skillet will thicken the eggs into a creamy sauce. Taste and add more salt, hot sauce, or black pepper, if desired. Serve hot.

Friday, May 18, 2012

D.I.Y. Song Lyric Wall Art


Because this is the first ever craft project I’ve posted I must admit I had the slight temptation to name it something really cheesy… such as “Craft Corner” or “Crafting with Krystal”. But for your sakes, I’m trying my best to resist. ;)

Truth be told, I’ve never been the crafter type. It’s actually a rather new hobby that my mom & I both picked up in January thanks to Pinterest and all their inspiring ideas. It became a really fun hobby for us, a way to relax, be creative, and get our minds off the stress of the day. We’ve really had a blast with it! In fact, it admittedly became a little bit of an obsession. To the point where we’d see certain objects and wonder what we could make with them lol. I think that’s just what crafting does to you. ;)

Neither one of us thought we’d be good at crafts but in doing them we’ve discovered that we’re not half bad after all. I think with all the awesome craft tutorials out there now a days anyone can craft and have so much fun with it! :)

I’m so excited to share our latest project with you today! I found this D.I.Y. Song Lyric Wall Art on Elsie Larson’s blog, A Beautiful Mess. I thought it was so cute and it totally appealed to the music lover in me! Plus I was in desperate need for some new and pretty art on my walls. I’ve had it pinned and planned to do it for a few months now and finally got around to it last week. And I was beyond thrilled with how it turned out!

It’s so easy to make which is perfect for a newbie crafter such as myself; and it only takes a few supplies.

Supplies Needed:  

Art work (I bought two medium sized paintings at Hobby Lobby)

Letter Stickers

White spray paint


Step 1 – After you gather your supplies, decide what lyrics you want to use! This was kind of a hard choice for me because there are so many awesome songs with amazing lyrics out there. But I ended up choosing a line from one of my favorite songs, “Beautiful Things” by Gungor. I love this song and the words mean so much to me, so I thought it was the perfect choice.


Step 2 – Plan out the placing of your words. Elsie recommends cutting out each letter and plotting your layout before sticking the letters on. I skipped this step because it was taking so much extra time lol, but it’s probably a really good idea. I admittedly became a little perfectionist about it and there was a lot of sticking, removing, and re-sticking the letters till I got them just how I wanted them. So always listen to Elsie lol.


Step 3 – Once you have your design figured out, stick the letter stickers onto the painting.

Step 4 – Cover the whole painting with spray paint. Allow to dry completely.


Step 5 – Once fully dry, carefully peel off the letter stickers and voila! You now have beautiful art with your favorite lyric to hang on your wall!



How simple and awesome is that? I really loved the way it seemed to brighten up the room when it was hung. And I love seeing one of my favorite lyrics hanging on the wall. It serves as a good reminder and it makes me smile. I really hope you’ll make one of your own! Happy crafting! :)

Sunday, May 13, 2012


Hey lovelies! Thought I would stop in tonight and share a post that was inspired by Danielle over at one of my favorite blogs,  Sometimes Sweet. Feel free to share what you’re currently into and be sure to check out Danielle’s blog! :)

Reading: I’ve been the worst lately when it comes to finishing books! I have a really bad habit of starting books and not finishing them so I end up with a huge stack of unread books. But I am trying to change that, I recently started reading “Battlefield of The Mind” by Joyce Meyer. I’ve been meaning to read this for so long! I kinda stole it from my sister before she moved recently and had to promise to send it in mail when I’m done lol. 

I also just started reading “Out of Control and Loving It” by Lisa Bevere; it’s actually one of her older books. I found it when I was going through my dad’s makeshift library (he has tons of books) he has set up in our church (he’s the pastor). Both books are so awesome and so full of truth.

Watching: I tend to be very picky about TV… and honestly watch re-runs majority of the time. So I watch lots of Gilmore Girls re-runs, Felicity, oh and Veronica Mars is on Soap Net now! Woot! Anyone remember that show? Other than that, I was really into The Voice this year, love American Idol, The Middle, Food Network, and that’s about it. Think I need some TV show recommendations lol, anyone? ;)

Thinking about: how much I miss my sister who just recently moved to Georgia, and how much I miss my cousin (who’s like a sister) who lives near Corpus. :( I don’t get to see either one of them as much as I would like to but at least we do have Skype to keep in touch.

Anticipating: getting my package in the mail from my “Foodie Penpal”!! If you’ve never heard of Foodie Penpals it’s a program I recently found on the blog, The Lean Green Bean; once a month they pair you up with other bloggers to send each other packages of yummy goodies and fun foodie items along with a hand written note and/or recipe. It sounded like so much fun and right up my ally so I wasted no time signing up. Everyone is supposed to blog about their package at the end of the month, so be on the look out for that and consider signing up next month! :)

Listening to: The Paper Kites, an awesome band I just discovered. I fell in love with their song “Bloom”, pure magic! Also listening to For King & Country’s debut album “Crave”. And always listening to Switchfoot, The Civil Wars, Milo Greene, and Kimbra. :)

Eating: healthier foods lately. Lots of low fat meals and snacks. But since today is mother’s day (happy mother’s day to you all moms out there by the way) we had Mexican food and Salted Caramel Cake Pops for dessert (I made a bunch to give away at church this morning as mother’s day gifts). Yes, we were very bad today… but my mom is worth it. Needless to say, back to healthier eating tomorrow lol. 

Working on: a few blogs: an album review, craft tutorial, and a recipe. Hoping to finish them tonight.

Wishing: this weight loss would go faster lol. But I know it takes time and doing it the right way by eating right and exercising is the best way to do it. That and I really wish I could go to a concert soon, in need of a night of live music! :)

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Spring Playlist



So I know this is a little late considering the Texas heat is already on the rise, melting my makeup, and signifying the beginning of summer; but I just couldn’t let one of my favorite seasons go by without posting a little playlist to go with it.

There’s something about spring that feels so new and fresh. It’s brings with it sunny days, cool breezes, and the possibility of new and beautiful things.

I don’t know about you but I tend to want to hear songs that feel like the particular season we’re in. Maybe that’s a little strange lol, but you can just hear the seasons change in certain songs. :)

Spring Playlist ~

Spring Playlist by Krystal Rodriguez on Grooveshark

These are songs that sound like spring to me and have been my soundtrack through out this lovely season. Hope you enjoy and that you’ve had a beautiful spring!



Friday, May 11, 2012

Low Fat Italian Sandwiches

Today I’m trying something a little bit different…something I admittedly am not used to doing on this blog. I’m posting a recipe that’s… LOW FAT (gasp)!! Yes, recently it was cupcakes now it’s low fat, go figure.

Lately I’ve been trying to change my bad girl eating habits by giving up the sweets and cooking lighter/low fat meals. Not easy for an obsessed baker such as myself. But so far it’s going pretty good thanks to Pinterest and their never ending supply of recipes.

I stumbled upon this yummy recipe for Low Fat Italian Sandwiches on Pinterest a few weeks ago and it has become one of my go to recipes. Ciabatta bread, pesto sauce, roasted chicken, and mozzarella cheese… all in one sandwich and all low fat… yes, please! :)

Definitely expect more low fat recipes to come here! But I must say, while I do love these new eating habits and the weird way that the words “juicing”, “vitamins”, and “hummus” have become the new norm in my life; I still intend to allow myself to bake on occasion. I’ve had to tame the hobby but don’t think I can abandon it. Old habits die hard. :)

Low Fat Italian Sandwiches -

(Recipe found @

These sandwiches got a lot of love in my house and became a fast favorite. They take very little ingredients and are so easy to put together. Normally Italian sandwiches would probably be filled with really fattening ingredients but not so with these. Pesto sauce mixed with fat free mayo goes on your crispy ciabatta bread and is topped with fat free mozzarella cheese, roasted chicken, roasted red peppers, and romaine lettuce; placed in the oven till cheese is melty! I love the crunch of the bread and the flavor the pesto mayo gave this sandwich. We used a rotisserie chicken to save time, and we roasted our own red bell peppers.



We also bought a smaller loaf of ciabatta bread and it only made two big sandwiches instead of eight like the recipe says. And while it just made two, they’re still pretty big, so usually we cut them into squares. Believe or not one square is all we tend to eat in one sitting as they are pretty filling.


If you’re trying to limit calories yet still crave something Italian, give these sandwiches a shot!

2 tablespoons of Pesto sauce. You can make your own or buy a jar of it.
1/4 cup of Fat Free Mayo
1/2 cup of roasted red bell peppers (in water)
Romaine lettuce
1 loaf of ciabatta bread (or any artisan bread)
2 cups of roasted chicken
5 slices of fat free mozzarella (we used shredded). (partially skim works too)

Mix your pesto and mayo together. Cut Ciabatta in half length wise and spread the pesto mix on both sides. On one half, lay mozzarella cheese down. On the other half, place the red peppers and chicken.

Place both sides, face up into a 425 degree oven until the mozzarella starts to sweat and the peppers have heated up. Once that’s done, switch your oven to broil and cook until cheese has melted.

Remove the two halves, pile the lettuce onto the chicken side and place the cheese side bread on top. Give it a nice squish and cut into pieces. (Makes about 8 large individual sandwiches)

Friday, May 4, 2012

Fill In The Blank Friday

fill in the blank friday

Hey lovelies! Today I’m linking up with Lauren from The Little Things We Do blog for “Fill In The Blank Friday”! I never usually do these but it seemed like fun! If you haven’t yet be sure to check out her awesome blog! Happy Friday! :)

1. My bedtime routine includes – I’m a total night owl so I stay up kinda late. It’s when I feel most creative so I usually do some writing. Browse the internet; reading blogs, twitter, fb. Of course brush my teeth and wash my face. And I always put on a Christian music station on my satellite to sleep to. I know some people can’t sleep with any noise but it’s soothing to me.

2. I am – on a new healthy eating and exercise plan and loving it! I’m actually enjoying eating healthier foods and working out everyday. Surprisingly I don’t miss the sweets (shocking for a chocoholic such as myself) and sodas I gave up. I feel so much better and am slowly starting to see results.

3. I can't stand the Lifetime channel because every plot of all their movies are exactly the same! They all revolve around two subjects: cheating and death. Someone cheats with someone else's husband…someone ends up dying. I always feel like I’m watching the same movie just with different characters. I know most woman my age love it… I loathe it.

4. My idea of relaxation would be – A day of browsing books and getting coffee.

5. If I had an extra $50, I would – Buy some craft supplies! There are a couple crafts I’ve been planning to do for a few weeks now but money’s been too tight to permit. :(

6. The best thing about a bloggy friend is – Sharing tips and ideas. Guest blogging on each others blogs. And just having the support of someone who gets the whole blogging thing.

7. A recipe I've been dying to try is – this recipe for Chocolate Macarons with Dark Chocolate Ganache. They look as delish as they sound. I’ve been dying to attempt macarons for months now, so hopefully I’ll be able to try my hand at them soon.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Chocolate Cupcakes with Strawberry Buttercream Frosting

Tell me, is there a happier subject than cupcakes? I think not. There’s just something fun about these little cakes with a generous swirl of frosting and sprinkles on top that makes you smile.

I was looking for a delish cupcake recipe to make for Easter a few weeks ago and after searching Pinterest and food blogs, I remembered this recipe that I got from a cupcake cookbook my sister brought with her while she was visiting (yes, I was quite happy to spend time with her new cookbooks…and her too, of course :p). It’s called “The Cupcake Diaries” and the lovely photos were simply calling my name.

I landed on a recipe for a two layer chocolate cake with strawberry buttercream frosting and decided to turn it into cupcakes instead. With the strawberry buttercream it seemed like the perfect “springish” cupcake!

Chocolate Cupcakes with Strawberry Buttercream Frosting –

(Recipe adapted from “The Cupcake Diaries: Recipes and Memories from the Sisters of Georgetown Cupcake” by Katherine Kallinis and Sophie Kallinis LaMontagne)

This cupcake recipe is seriously one of the best I’ve tried. The cupcakes came out super moist and chocolaty and the strawberry buttercream was rich and creamy; it complimented the cupcakes perfectly. I wasn’t quite sure how they were going to turn out because the measurements were a little … odd, shall we say. For instance, the frosting calls for 32 tablespoons of butter and 8 cups of powdered sugar (which is a whole bag, if you’re wondering)! Never have I used so much powdered sugar lol… needless to say, I was kinda covered in it (thank God for aprons!). And while the frosting did turn out rather sweet and a little bit stiff, once you add the strawberries in it makes all the difference!



(the cute cupcake liners & sprinkles my sister gave me :) )

I had to improvise on a few of the ingredients seeing as how my town is just not fancy enough to carry Plugra Unsalted Butter, Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla, and Valrohna Cocoa powder lol. So I used regular unsalted butter, imitation vanilla, and Hershey’s Cocoa powder… cause that’s just how I roll. It worked fine; no need to be all fancy (except for I would splurge on the real vanilla if ya can).


After I frosted the cupcakes, to give them an “Eastery” touch, I shaved chocolate on top to look like a little nest and topped it off with mini chocolate eggs. But you can garnish these with just the chocolate shavings, fresh strawberries, or sprinkles. Happy cupcake baking!

Sidenote: This is the only recipe I’ve made from this cookbook and seeing as how it turned out so good, I was going to recommend it. It has lovely photos and stories from the sister’s of Georgetown Cupcake. Not to mention delish sounding recipes. But after looking at the reviews of this cookbook on Amazon, it seems the consensus is that majority of the recipes do not work. However I do plan to try out more of the recipes just to see for myself. All I know is that these cupcakes were really good, but just a heads up for all you bakers out there. :)

For the cake -
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
16 tablespoons European-style unsalted butter, at room temperature (Plugra brand recommended)
2 1/2 cups sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla (preferably Madagascar Bourbon)
1 cup Valrhona cocoa powder, sifted (may substitute another good-quality coca powder)

For the frosting -
32 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
8 cups confectioners sugar, sifted
2 teaspoons whole milk
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/4 salt
1 cup strawberries, diced and strained

Preheat the oven to 350. Sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt on a piece of parchment paper or wax paper and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer or in a bowl with a handheld electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar on medium for 3 to 5 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing slowly after each addition.

Combine the milk and vanilla in a large liquid measuring cup. Add one third of the dry ingredients, followed by one third of the milk and vanilla, and mix. Repeat. Stop to scrape down the bowl as needed. Add the last third of the dry ingredients, followed by the last third of the milk and vanilla. Add the cocoa powder, mixing slowly until just incorporated.

Pour batter into lined cupcake pan and bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Let cupcakes cool completely (approximately 15 minutes).

Frosting -
Place all ingredients except for strawberries in a stand mixer and whip for 5 minutes until the frosting is light and fluffy. Using a spatula, fold in the diced strawberries.

Frosting cupcakes and top with chocolate shavings, fresh strawberries, or sprinkles.