The Blog @ Carissa Designs

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

Posted by on 6:35 pm in Parties, Recipes | 0 comments

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

At the beginning of the summer, Clint and I took the plunge and bought a house. I spent the first week before we moved in painting the walls from a questionable orange and yellow to calming shades of blue and grey. It was definitely a good call. We celebrated tricking people into thinking we are high functioning adults by throwing open the door of out newly acquired home and inviting all our friends to eat a table full of treats and sing late into the night.   Thank you to my trusty Milk Bar cookbook for all the tasty desserts. The centerpiece of the food display was my slightly famous nacho bar. I spent the day slaving over my crockpot, watching the pork shoulder slowly become pulled pork. It’s hard work, but someone has to do it.  I realize that the list of ingredients for the rub might seem excessive, but after years of trial and error, this is definitely the best combination I have come across. Feel free to change things up and make this rub your own. Oh, quick note. Make sure you USE KOSHER SALT!!! I can’t stress this enough. Using table salt in this recipe will result in a sad, salty mess. And nobody wants that. I can eat this piled up in a tortilla, in a burrito bowl, on nachos… out of the refrigerator in the middle of the night. The options are limitless.  The nacho bar is super easy to set up and is always a crowdpleaser. Have as many or few toppings as you like. Stick to the traditional Mexican flavors or go crazy and mix things up. I usually set up avocados, onions, limes, onions and salsa. For the queso, I find that you can’t go wrong with a block of Velveeta and a can of Rotel. Cube the cheese and melt it with the Rotel. Super easy. Thank you to everyone who came out and helped us celebrate. We loved seeing all of your smiling faces and appreciated all the lovely housewarming gifts. We can’t wait to make even more memories over the years. Cute salt and pepper housewarming gifts from our friends.   Pulled Pork 2016-08-31 12:50:07 My pulled pork recipe. That's all that needs to be said. Write a review Save Recipe Print Prep Time 20 min Cook Time 8 hr Total Time 8 hr 20 min Prep Time 20 min Cook Time 8 hr Total Time 8 hr 20 min Ingredients 2 tablespoons chili powder 1 tablespoon brown sugar 1 tablespoon kosher salt 2 teaspoons ground cumin 1 teaspoon cayenne 2 teaspoons dried oregano 4 teaspoons onion powder 1 teaspoon ground black pepper 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon pinch of ground cloves The Rest 4 pound pork shoulder, excess fat trimmed 4 cloves garlic, crushed/minced Jalapeños, seeded and chopped (as spicy as you want it) 3/4 cup orange juice 2 limes, juiced 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped (can be omitted and served on the side) Instructions Rinse and dry the pork shoulder. Combine the rub ingredients then rub all over the pork. If you have extra you can save it or sprinkle it over the pork in the slow cooker. Place the pork in a slow cooker (fat side up), top with jalapeños, minced garlic, orange juice, lime juice and half the cilantro....

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Jalapeño Poppers with Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Posted by on 8:28 pm in Recipes | 0 comments

Jalapeño Poppers with Sun-Dried Tomatoes

I think there is an unwritten law here in Texas that if you get any number of people together to grill, someone needs to bring jalapeño poppers. They are a true party staple and a major crowd pleaser. While these poppers are easy to make, they are a little time consuming. But don’t worry, just assemble ahead of time and refrigerate them over night. This way you don’t have to worry about crying during your party because you forgot to wash your hands and accidentally touched your eyes… No, that’s never happened.  Everyone seems to have their own recipe, I add sun-dried tomatoes to mine to make things interesting. Feel free to mix things up and play around with your filling. Heck if you want to get real fancy you can throw in that leftover brisket you have in the fridge (yeah, right. Like anyone ever has “leftover” brisket). If you want to make things extra spicy, save some of the seeds and mix them into the cheese filling. This is where the real heat is. Poppers are great on the grill, too. Instead of using toothpicks, thread the poppers on skewers. Just be sure that you wrap the jalapeños well with the bacon so that all the cheese is covered. This will keep it in place when you go to flip them. Oh, word to the wise, do not touch your eyes after handling jalapeños. It’s not going to be a fun time if you do.   Sun-Dried Tomato Jalapeño Poppers 2016-02-03 14:04:29 Yields 24 Jalapeño poppers stuffed with cheese and sun-dried tomatoes. Write a review Save Recipe Print Prep Time 30 min Cook Time 30 min Total Time 1 hr Prep Time 30 min Cook Time 30 min Total Time 1 hr Ingredients 12 fresh jalapeño peppers, cut in half lengthwise with seeds removed 8 ounces cream cheese, softened to room temperature 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese 2 cloves garlic, minced Salt and Pepper to taste 2 ounces sun dried tomatoes, minced 12 slices bacon, cut in half 24 toothpicks Instructions Preheat oven to 400F degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone backing mat. Using a mixer, beat the cream cheese, cheddar cheese, garlic, tomatoes, and any other mix-ins that you desire. Season with salt and pepper. Spoon filling equally among all 24 jalapeño halves. Take half a slice of bacon and wrap the jalapeño. Stick a toothpick through the center to hold everything in place. Arrange the jalapeños on the baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes or until the bacon is crisp. If you like things extra crispy, you can turn the broiler on for a minute or two. Just be sure not to stray too far. The bacon will burn if left unattended. By Carissa Carissa Designs...

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Spinach and Avocado Spread

Posted by on 9:32 pm in Recipes | 0 comments

Spinach and Avocado Spread

You know those days when you open up the fridge and you seem to have an excess of spinach and avocados? No? Just me? I love avocados. whenever they go on sale, I stock up and eat guacamole for days. I also love spinach. It’s one of those staples that I keep on hand all the time. Every now and then I try to find a way to combine them. Look at how that bright green color just pops! This recipe works great as a dip or spread on toast. I added some turkey and cheese and made it into a delicious sandwich. But let’s be honest, I would have eaten out of the bowl with nothing but a spoon.   Spinach and Avocado Spread 2015-07-10 16:30:10 Serves 2 Write a review Save Recipe Print Ingredients 1 Clove garlic minced 1 Tablespoon olive oil 1 Avocado diced 2 large handfuls of spinach chopped Juice of 1/2 a lime Salt and pepper Instructions Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl. Mix with a large spoon, taking care not to break up too much of the avocado. Let sit for 15 minutes before eating. By Carissa Ara Carissa Designs...

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Lovely Leftovers: Stuffing Waffles

Posted by on 1:04 am in Recipes | 0 comments

Lovely Leftovers: Stuffing Waffles

Today marks the first day of one of my favorite weeks of the year: Thanksgiving leftover week. I know Ive mentioned my love of leftovers before, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that I look forward to having a fridge full of tupperware. While I love a good turkey sandwich piled high with layers of thanksgiving flavors, this year I decided to try something a little different. Stuffing waffles. That’s right, I fried up some stuffing in a waffle iron and piled it high with turkey and fixings. The result is a delicious and crunchy treat. I would seriously consider making stuffing just for the purpose of making waffles with it. Stuffing Waffles 2014-12-01 19:02:48 Serves 2 Leftover stuffing? Make waffles! Write a review Save Recipe Print Prep Time 20 min Cook Time 5 min Total Time 25 min Prep Time 20 min Cook Time 5 min Total Time 25 min Ingredients 2 cups stuffing 1 egg 1/2 milk Instructions Combine the stuffing, milk, and egg in a large bowl. Mix by hand until throughly combined. Be sure to break up any large clumps of stuffing. Spray a hot waffle iron with non-stick cooking spray. Spoon out half of the stuffing mixture on to the iron. Be sure to spread it out evenly. Follow your waffle iron’s instructions to cook the waffle. Top with your favorite thanksgiving fixings and enjoy. By Carissa Ara Carissa Designs...

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Grownup Candy Bar Milkshake

Posted by on 9:15 pm in Recipes | 0 comments

Grownup Candy Bar Milkshake

I waited far too long to post this recipe and now Texas is punishing me by starting winter early this year. Oh well, I’ll just put on an extra sweater and drink my milkshake anyways. So a few weeks ago my favorite holiday came around. I bought candy, turned on my favorite halloween movies, and waited for someone to knock on my door demanding sweet treats… only to remember that there are no kids living in my part of town and no one would be ringing my doorbell this year. Lucky for me, I was able to pawn off most of the candy the next night at my annual halloween party. Rocking our homemade costumes. Group shot with our fellow costume contest winners. After the party, I still has some Crunch Bars left over. Rather than just sit and eat them all (which I strongly considered), I decided to add ice cream and booze to the equation and take them up a notch. I was not disappointed in my decision. Neither was Clint. Grownup Candy Bar Milkshake 2014-11-20 15:12:01 Serves 2 A couple shots of Baileys and Kahlúa add a grownup twist to this chocolate treat. Write a review Save Recipe Print Prep Time 10 min Total Time 10 min Prep Time 10 min Total Time 10 min Ingredients 2 cups vanilla ice cream 2 shots Baileys 2 shots Kahlúa 1/2 cup milk Handful of fun size candy bars Instructions Roughly chop the candy bars. Put all the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Divide the mixture into two cups. Enjoy! Tip: If your candy bars sink to the bottom of the milkshake, place the shake in the freezer for 30 - 45 minutes and allow the mixture to harden a bit. By Carissa Ara Carissa Designs...

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A Tale of Two Beaches – Spiked Mango Peach Lemonade

Posted by on 11:30 pm in Recipes | 0 comments

A Tale of Two Beaches – Spiked Mango Peach Lemonade

Actually, It’s a tale of 5 or 6 beaches, but that doesn’t have the same ring to it. As a Southern California girl, I think I’m required to have salt water in my veins. My parents would take me to the beach almost every week when I was little. I would spend the day playing in the sand and diving into the Pacific with reckless abandon. Somehow, I don’t remember it being as cold as it is now. Up until the time that I was 11, we had lived no more than 10 minutes away from a beach. As you can image, moving to Houston was a big change for my family. After being landlocked an hour west of Houston for a few weeks we decided to make the drive down the causeway and see what this Galveston Island was all about. Okay, I’m exaggerating a bit. The beach is pretty nice when it’s not covered in seaweed. While Galveston might not be the most picturesque beach I’ve ever been to, it does have its charms. And now that we’ve found St. Luis Pass beach, it feels more like the beaches that I grew up with. Once the temperature hits 80 degrees – and in Texas that could be as early as March – I get a hankering spend the day by the ocean. Clint and I call our friends, pack up the grill, convince the dog to get in the car (she hates car rides – go figure), and make the 45 minute drive down I45 to Galveston. I make lunch for everyone (dessert included) and we spend the day in the sun listening to the waves and sipping tropical drinks. I really don’t see how life could be better. Spiked Mango Peach Lemonade 2014-07-22 18:20:43 Serves 8 Sweet and tropical drink perfect for lazy days on the beach. Write a review Save Recipe Print Prep Time 15 min Total Time 15 min Prep Time 15 min Total Time 15 min Ingredients 2 large lemons, juiced 2 mango, peeled pitted and sliced 1 can peaches in juice (not syrup), drained 1 cup spiced rum ½ cup coconut rum Lemon lime soda Instructions Put the mangos, lemon juice, and peaches into a blender. Blend until smooth. Pour the juice into a plastic bottle (no glass at the beach) or pitcher if you are serving this at home. Add the rum and mix. To serve, take a glass full of ice and fill half way with the juice mixture. Top with soda. Add your favorite drink umbrella and enjoy. By Carissa Adapted from Le Creme de la Crumb Adapted from Le Creme de la Crumb Carissa Designs...

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Elegant Pirate Party

Posted by on 2:17 am in Parties | 2 comments

Elegant Pirate Party

If you like this party set, click here to purchase the files for your own party. Is it just me, or are lists taking over the internet? You know the ones I’m talking about –15 things to do before you turn thirty, 10 things to do before you settle down, etc. — these lists seem to be exploding on popular blogging sites everywhere. Well, I came across one of these lists the other. I don’t remember exactly what it was titled, but it was something along the lines of 20 things you need to stop doing in your 20’s. While it contained a few good ideas, I found myself disagreeing with one bullet point with every fiber of my body. Themed parties. If anyone ever tries to tell you that themed parties are just for kids you need to rethink your relationship with that individual. Trust me, you don’t need that negativity in your life. In a world where so much time is spent plugged in to technology and stuck in a daily grind, what’s wrong stepping back from the real world and exercising your imagination for a bit? Costume parties are a great way to let loose. It’s fun to take on a new persona for a few hours and be someone or something completely different. Lucky for me, my friends feel the same way. A while back, I hosted a pirate-themed murder mystery party complete with decorations, Caribbean food, and scallywag shenanigans. Unlike some of the parties I’ve hosted in the past, I had a hard time finding inspiration for décor on the internet. Everything I came across was black, red, and cartoonish. Not quite what I had in mind for my event. I wanted to create a space that felt a little thrown together but exclusive. A sort of pirate speakeasy. You know, the type of place that fancy pirates would hang out. I began decorating by stringing Christmas lights across the ceiling. I wasn’t sure what I was doing, but it seemed like a good place to start. Next, I tacked up several different colored pieces of material… including one blanket that Savannah destroyed when she went through her (thankfully) short chewing phase. The idea here is “elegant hole in the wall” so there was no real method to where I put everything, I just moved pieces around until I was happy. Finally, created some texture by adding tulle and fish netting into the mix. I set the table with simple white plates… mostly because that was all that I had. Originally, I had wanted to use mismatched china plates to give the impression that the pirates had collected their tableware while pillaging wealthy ships over the years, but I didn’t have time to acquire these things by the time I started decorating. Dollar store silver serving trays, candles, and an assortment of costume jewelry created my centerpieces. Finally, I created a few printable pirate pieces to put the finishing touches on the table. If you like this party set, click here to purchase the files for your own party. For more pictures of the party, click here. Next time someone tells you that you are too old to dress up and spend an evening lounging in a makeshift pirate tavern, just smile and tell...

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Salted Caramel Conundrum

Posted by on 1:01 am in Recipes | 0 comments

Salted Caramel Conundrum

Last week, my friends Katie and Lauren invited me to a Premier Designs Jewelry Party. If you ever have a chance to attend one of these events, I highly recommend it. Their living room had been turned into a boutique complete with knowledgeable Premier representative, Brittany, who showed us how to pair and repurpose many of the pieces in fun, new ways. I had a blast and get to spend a few hours out of the house with some fun individuals. Also, shiny things. I like shiny things. Anyway, the day before the party I thought to myself, “I should bake something… It should have caramel.” I really hate to admit this, but I have been trying very unsuccessfully to make caramel for the last few months. It seems that no matter what I do, I always end up with a brittle, hard candy. Not the gooey treat I was hoping to make.   I took to the internet to see if I could find the solution to my caramel conundrum. After a few minutes of research, there it was looking me in the face. Temperature. Temperature is everything when making caramel. If my failed attempts taught me anything, this is it. I was pouring my cream right out of the fridge and causing the caramel to seize. It’s very, very important that your butter and cream be at room temperature when making caramel. Learn from my mistakes here. Don’t let caramel scare you.  Now that I know what I’ve been doing wrong, I have a feeling there will be more caramel desserts finding their way to my table… much like these salted caramel cupcakes. If you don’t want to take the plunge into caramel making, you can turn your favorite store-bought caramel sauce into salted caramel sauce by heating it up and adding about a teaspoon of salt to a cup of caramel. I used a simple vanilla cupcake for the base. Nothing too fancy, I wanted the caramel to be the star here. I also only filled the cupcake liners about 1/3 full because I didn’t want to show up with huge cupcakes. To assemble, core the cupcakes by inserting the non-decorative end of a piping tip into the center and twisting. I find that this makes the perfect size hole for filled cupcakes. If you don’t have any piping tips, core the cupcakes with a butter knife. Feel free to eat the centers, they don’t have calories.   Next, fill the holes with 1 teaspoon of caramel and frost with the buttercream. That’s it. If you’re feeling really decadent, make chocolate cupcakes instead of vanilla. Go on, I dare you. Salted Caramel 2014-06-19 19:51:55 Soft, gooey salted caramel Write a review Save Recipe Print Cook Time 30 min Total Time 30 min Cook Time 30 min Total Time 30 min Ingredients 3/4 cups sugar 1 tablespoon light corn syrup 1/6 cup water 1/2 stick unsalted butter, cubed at room temperature 1/2 cup heavy cream, at room temperature 1 teaspoons coarse sea salt Instructions Combine the sugar, the corn syrup, and water in a small saucepan. Stir with a wooden spoon and bring to a simmer over medium heat. DO NOT WALK AWAY. Once the sugar mixture has reached a deep amber color, add the butter and...

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Lovely Leftovers: Ham and Bean Soup

Posted by on 6:22 pm in Recipes | 0 comments

Lovely Leftovers: Ham and Bean Soup

I regret to admit that I have fallen off the blogging bandwagon. Work kinda took over for a couple months and all my side projects were put on the back burner… Good news, I’m back! And I have tons of ideas and recipes I’ve been waiting to share. So let’s get to it. Leftovers are one of my favorite things, and thanks to a giant ham Clint’s dad cooked for dinner, we were in possession of a mountain of leftovers for the following week. I’m pretty sure that I have mentioned my love of leftovers in a previous post, so I was more than happy to take a good chunk home and repurpose it over the next few days. It’s always nice to be able to whip something up quickly and not have to start entirely from scratch. I started with the basics and made some ham sandwiches and fried ham and eggs, but by the third day, we were in the mood for something a little different. My mom would always make split pea soup with leftover ham bones, but Clint is still hesitant when it comes to meals that are primarily green. This didn’t mean that soup was completely out of the picture, I would just have to come up with something a little more colorful. I started thinking about this Italian bean and pasta soup I had once. It would be pretty easy to take that recipe and add some ham to it… and that’s how most of my recipes are born. This is one of those soups that you chuck into the slow cooker and forget for the day. I like to sauté the onions and garlic before adding them the pot. It adds an extra level of flavor but can be skipped if you are in a rush. Be sure to taste your soup before adding the salt. Depending on the ham you are using, you might not need to add any extra salt. Italian Ham and Bean Soup 2014-05-20 13:19:56 Serves 2 This easy slow cooker soup is a great way to use leftover ham and packs lots of flavor. Write a review Save Recipe Print Prep Time 15 min Cook Time 7 hr Total Time 7 hr 15 min Prep Time 15 min Cook Time 7 hr Total Time 7 hr 15 min Ingredients Olive oil 2 cloves garlic minced ½ onion 1 pound ham cubed 1 can cannelloni beans (14oz) 1 can of Italian diced tomatoes (14oz) 2 tablespoons fresh sage 1 cup pasta shells Salt and pepper to taste Instructions Heat some olive oil in a pan and sauté the garlic and onions until translucent. Combine all ingredients except for the pasta in a slow cooker. Set to low and allow to cook for 6 to 8 hours. Right before serving, boil some water and cook the pasta al dente. Add the cooked pasta to the soup. Serve and enjoy. By Carissa Carissa Designs...

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Confetti Cake in a Cup

Posted by on 12:39 am in Recipes | 0 comments

Confetti Cake in a Cup

I have a couple of confessions to make. 1) I don’t know how to use a microwave. It’s not that I have anything against microwaves (other than the fact that I think the texture of food cooked in them can be really weird – okay, maybe I do have something against microwaves); I just never had one growing up. I tried using the microwave in the break room when I worked in an office, but I gave up after I exploded my lunch a few times. 2) I have a huge sweet tooth. I love baking and almost always have something sweet hidden in my pantry. Now these two facts might seem to have nothing in common, but there’s a story here. A few weeks ago, I was rooting around in my kitchen trying to find something to satiate my late night sweet tooth craving. Much to my dismay, all I found was ice cream. And being that Texas has been unseasonably cold lately, that was not going to make the cut. Cupcakes are usually my go to baking treat, but I didn’t have the energy to bake a batch. I wanted something that was a single serving. I started browsing the Internet to find something that I could whip up quickly and came across a recipe for chocolate cake in a cup. This caught my attention, as did the fact that it was cooked in a microwave. I decided to give it a try. I mean, I’m not using it for anything else. It’s got to feel jealous of the other kitchen appliances by now. So I threw all the ingredients together in a cup and managed to not explode the cake all over the microwave. It was… okay. But that was mostly my fault. I didn’t think the minute and a half cooking time was enough so I added more. The cake had a good flavor, but it was very dry. Not one to give up on dessert, I decided to try again. I found a few different recipes and played around with them until I found something that I was happy with. Enter the confetti cake in a cup: Light, fluffy, and just what I was looking for. And the sprinkles are just plain fun. This dessert is similar to a soufflé and has a bit more egg flavor than your average slice of cake so keep that in mind when you whip one up. It only takes a minute and thirty seconds in my microwave. You might have to experiment a couple times to find your cake butter zone, but it shouldn’t take more than two minutes.  Top it with frosting if you want. I just ate it plain. Nom. Confetti Cake in a Cup 2014-02-12 18:35:13 Serves 2 A microwave recipe for making confetti cake in a cup. Write a review Save Recipe Print Total Time 10 min Total Time 10 min Ingredients 2 tablespoons unsalted butter 2 tablespoons milk 1 large egg 1 teaspoon clear vanilla 4 tablespoons sugar 6 tablespoons flour 1/2 teaspoon baking powder Pinch of kosher salt 1 tablespoon of colored sprinkles Instructions Spray a large mug or 2 regular sized mugs with non-stick spray. Place the butter in a bowl and microwave at 20 second intervals until the butter...

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