Thursday, August 18, 2011

The End of an Era

Through much (internal) debate and deliberation, I have decided to end my journey as a blogger. As my (three) followers know, I haven't been consistent with my posting for the last several years. I'll take these long breaks, then post more, then break again.

The truth behind my end of blogging is that it is too much like my day job. I sit at a computer for 8+ hours a day writing, editing, working on design projects, emailing, etc. The last thing I want to do when I get home at night is look at a computer screen! I have much better things to do with my time!

So, after three different sites and about 7 years of blogging, I'm calling it quits. For now. I'm sure one day down the road I'll have tons of exciting things to write about, and more time and willpower to do it. But for now, this is so long! See ya later. Peace out. You can email, facebook, or tweet me for updates! Oh, and I'll be reading and commenting on your sites when I can!

See ya on the flip side!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Mobile Blogger

Blogger has finally come up with a quick and easy way to convert your blog to a mobile site. This is awesome because just the other day I was frustrated with my blog for not being able to view it on my phone (while at the grocery store...without a grocery list...shopping for a specific recipe...) I had to call my sister to look it up for me!

The downfall to the mobile templates, so far I don't see a search feature. That means I can't search for my specific recipe when I'm at the grocery story looking for the ingredient list. So...I guess it really doesn't help me with my mobile dilemma. But...it does help mobile readers view my blog, so that's cool!

Blogger...add me a search feature and we'll be cool! : )

For all you bloggers out there - here's the link to how to convert your page.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Big Announcement

Let’s just go ahead and get the big announcement over and done with. No, I’m not getting married. I’m not sure why that’s everyone’s first guess. I mean, I’m definitely single. Very single. But I do have something very exciting happening to me exactly 2 weeks from today [Drum roll please….]

I’m going to Paula Deen’s house. Yes. The REAL Paula Deen’s REAL house! Why you ask? To interview her creative director/set designer who is a graduate of our fine university. I’m writing a feature article on him. And it so happens that he is allowing me to shadow him for a day to get an inside perspective of his job. I mean…I was cool enough with just meeting this guy because he has like the most awesome job ever…or so I’m assuming. But on top of meeting this really cool alum, he has invited me to shadow him at a photo shoot for Cooking with Paula Deen magazine at Paula’s new house. Wow!

This little project has been “in the works” for a couple of months now, but didn’t come to fruition until the last week or so. This is by far the absolute coolest job responsibility I have ever had, and is the perfect intermingling of my passion for cooking with my passion for writing. I have been so nervous about it too! Last night it’s all I could think about and I was pacing my house trying to play it all out in my head. I even bought a new dress from Ann Taylor Loft for the occasion. Maybe its silly, but I feel I need to look my best!!!

In preparation for the trip I’m boning up on my Paula Deen. I’ve been DVRing her shows on The Food Network, so I can get an idea of the kind of “sets” our alum creates. I have also ordered the book that she and our alum co-wrote called Savannah Style. I will be the foremost expert on all things Paula Deen by the time this article is published. (Don’t expect it to come out before December…seeing how our mag is NEVER printed on time.)

So, there ya have it folks! I’m going to spend the day at the home of one of Food Network’s BIGGEST stars! Be jealous. Very jealous! And no, I cannot fit you in my suitcase or get an autograph for you. I have to be a professional. After all, I’m there to see our alum, not Paula Deen. But still….I’m going to Paula’s house!!!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Blogging Contest

For those that know me well, you know I read a lot of blogs. Google Reader is an amazing and convenient way for me to browse several sites for recipes, party planning tips, decorating ideas, etc. I love it!

Last week I stumbled upon a blog called Oh Happy Day while looking for photo booth prop ideas. Oh Happy Day had free printables, and I was sold when I saw the Princess Beatrice fascinator from Will and Kate's wedding. How hilarious! (Will post pics after I get them of our photo booth!!!) They also have this really cute postcard idea that I would totally do if I had a good enough reason. (As of now I don't....) Love the blog though!

Today on Oh Happy Day, they are giving away a trip to Paris. I didn't stutter. A TRIP TO PARIS! Wow! I'm super excited! And all you have to do is enter! Seriously! There are several different ways to enter. Visit the Oh Happy Day site here - http://ohhappyday.com/2011/06/goes-to-paris. Wow! It would be so amazing to take a trip to Paris! I never win these giveaways, but it never stops me from trying!

Go to the Oh Happy Day site and enter to win. And since you are reading my blog and that's where you find out about the giveaway, you can take me if you win! : )

What are your favorite blogs to read? I'll have to compile a list of mine and post later on.

Friday, June 3, 2011

A milkshake you'll need a glass of milk for....

So, there are many things that go together that are more than just fate, but a created purpose. Things like...salt and pepper. Cheese and garlic. Milk and cookies. And the the ultimate pair...chocolate and peanut butter. Yes, God was really thinking of his people when he created chocolate and peanut butter and paired them together.

I had a hankerin tonight. A bad one. One that gave me an idea.

1. I love ice cream.
2. I love chocolate.
3. I LUUUUUUVVVV peanut butter.

How can I work these together? Ummmmm....a milkshake. It was evil. It was delicious. I'm pretty sure I need to run about 10 miles now, but it was worth it!!!!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Milkshake

Ingredients:

3-4 scoops vanilla bean ice cream
1.5 tbsp. chocolate syrup
2 tbsp. peanut butter

Directions:1. Scoop ice cream into a blender. Add chocolate and peanut butter. (Ignore the wine in the background. It does NOT go well with the other ingredients.)



2. Ignore anyone trying to beg for a taste. (How does she always know when I get the ice cream out of the fridge?)


3. Blend thoroughly.





4. Pour in glass and drink.





5. And then seriously think about running all those calories off. Doesn't matter if you used low-fat ingredients. You need to get your milkshake lovin butt off the couch and go work out! : )

For realz though...it was fantastic! Its thick. Its rich. But its ohhhhhhhh soooooooo gooooooood!

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Memorial Weekend

What do you do on a summer holiday weekend? Cookout. Okay, maybe you do that on any weekend, but especially so on a long one celebrating one of America's traditions. This weekend we honored all of the men and women who have fought so fiercely for our nation's freedom by cooking out, hanging with friends, and lounging around the house. It was fantastic. I appreciate all of their efforts with the privilege to do just that.

When you have a cookout what do you need besides burgers, hot dogs, ribs, or some other form of meat? Potato Salad. Yeah...its a must have. Its a definite must have when your mother makes the most wonderful potato salad in the world and she taught you all of her secrets! So with our burgers, with our brats, we had potato salad (and pie). Its one of those must-have American dishes that keep the folks coming back to the table for more! : )

Mom's Potato Salad
**This recipe is written for 4. Its easy to make it for 80, you just have to increase the quantities proportionately.

Ingredients:

5 to 6 Yukon Gold or red potatoes
2 boiled eggs, chopped
3 to 4 tbsp. sweet pickle relish
1/2 to 1 cup light mayonnaise
1/2 to 1 tbsp. yellow mustard
salt and pepper to taste
paprika for garnish

Directions:

1. Chop potatoes in quarter inch size pieces.



2. Boil potatoes and eggs for approximately 10 minutes, or until potatoes are soft, but not mashable.


3. Drain and rinse potatoes. Peel and dice eggs.

4. Pour potatoes and eggs in a large bowl. Add relish. Mix in mayonnaise and mustard until you reach your desired creamy texture.


5. Add salt and pepper to taste. (The important part is to taste as you go!)

6. Sprinkle a little paprika for color and a little kick!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Ahhhhh!!!

Its been nearly a month. In the last month I have worked till nearly 7:00 about 4 days a week, hosted a baby shower for my sister-in-law with 40 folks, traveled to my parents house three times, prep my yard for summer, and so many other things. Sigh. But its now Memorial Day weekend, and most of my friends will be gone this weekend. So, I have NO PLANS until Sunday night. (With the exception of dinner out tonight and tennis tomorrow.) That means...I'm going to blog this weekend. My goal is to write several posts and space them out to post over the next few weeks. I hope. : ) I need to clean my house too...so we'll see how the blogging goes.

Anywayz...the thing cooking this weekend....probably fish and fresh veggies tomorrow, and then potato salad and some sort of pie for our cookout on Sunday. Allz I know is that its going to be delish!

I will get better about posting. Or at least I will try.

Happy cooking!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Tools of the Trade Tuesday: Pretty Pie Plate

I haven't done a Tuesday tool tip in a while, so I thought I would post about my pie plate. I love my pie plate. Its perfect, and it bakes perfect pies. And quiches. And lots of other round things. I purchased this piece of bakeware for about $10 at the "Amish Walmart." Its not really a Walmart. Its just superstore that has all sorts of cheap treasures. And Amish people.

I will admit that the pie plate is probably the best thing that came out of Amish country. (No offense Julie...) Even though last summer's vacation was totally awesome...I have had enough farm tours for my lifetime! : ) However, the pie plate, that was a super awesome price, was worth the 19 hour drive to Pennsylvania. (Okay, maybe not...but its a pretty great pie plate.)

The plate, designed by Nordic Ware, is a sturdy aluminum design, with a spacious plastic cover. The company website says the aluminum allows the contents to bake evenly, and I can testify that is true. It is a very good baking dish, as with all of my Nordic Ware pieces. (I have the bundt pan too!)

If you are going to bake the perfect pie, I guess you need a recipe. Here's one I made this week:

Chocolate Chess Pie
From: Mrs. Rowe's Little Book of Southern Pies

Ingredients:
1/2 Pie Crust Recipe
1 1/2 cups white granulated sugar
3 1/2 tablespoons cocoa
Pinch of salt
1 (12 oz.) can evaporated milk
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted (1/2 stick)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9-inch pie plate with the rolled-out crust.

2. Mix sugar, cocoa and salt together, then blend in the milk, eggs, butter and vanilla. Pour the filling into the crust.

3. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes (or even 60....), until almost completely set. The filling should be wobbly in the center when the pan is jiggled. Cool to room temperature on a wire rack, and then chill in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours, or overnight, before slicing. Serve chilled.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

We have purpose

I'm a fan of Glee, and this week on the episode it dealt with a topic that hits home to many individuals -- self image. In the show, Rachel, one of the leads, breaks her nose and considers having surgery to resize her nose before it heals. Many of her friends try to discourage the cosmetic procedure, and try to convincer her that she is beautiful just the way she was made. Quinn, another one of the characters, is encouraging Rachel to have the surgery though, and tries to convince Rachel that she would look so much better with a new nose. Rachel and Quinn sang a duet that I found quite moving that is a mashup between Unpretty by TLC and I Feel Pretty from West Side Story. Here is the video...




Self worth is something that a lot of women struggle with. From the awkward years of adolescence, to being a single adult, to being a middle aged mother and wife - it is a doubt or fear or insecurity that attacks the heart of people from every age, sex, socioeconomic standing, religion, race, nationality, etc. We all have times when we wonder "Am I worth it? Does anyone love me? Do I matter?"

This is a topic that was also covered in church this morning. Our pastor spoke on Ephesians 2:10 that says,

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

The sermon centered around our worth in the Lord. In Psalm 139 it says that God created us and knew us before we came to be, and that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. In Ephesians the idea is that we are created in the image of God, for His glory, and though we would fulfill the purposes He has set forth for us. A purpose that, in Psalms, was known by God when we were formed in the womb.

We have worth. We all have worth. And we have a purpose in the Lord. God created us for a reason, and if we seek Him and trust Him, He will guide us to that purpose. We are loved. We are the beloved to God. Each of us. Each of you. You are the beloved of God and you have purpose and worth in Him.

When I was younger, I received a phone call from a very good friend who informed me she was having a cosmetic procedure done. I really thought she was joking. I mean...we were in our young 20's. She is gorgeous, and I mean the kind of gorgeous where you stop and stare if you pass her on the street. I was completely shocked when I found out the surgery was not a joke, but something she chose to do.

This is a friend I cared for dearly. And, like I said, she is gorgeous. I didn't think there was anything about her that needed to change. She's extremely smart, successful, kind, laid back, outgoing, and caring. Why did she think she needed to change something about her body? She is perfect, just as God made her.

Because I had known this woman for the large majority of my life, I thought it would be okay for me to express my feelings about this procedure. I discouraged her, and tried to convince her this was the wrong decision. I tried to tell her how beautiful she was, and that God made her as she is for a purpose. I also expressed my opinion on the desire for cosmetic surgery being a heart issue. Its a self worth issue. And its conforming to what the world wants to impose on you as a model for beauty, not the beauty that God created.

I thought our friendship could survive me speaking my heart, even though it was hard for my friend to hear. But it did not. Do I regret sharing my opinions with her? Yes and no. Yes because she was a dear, dear friend and I miss her terribly. And yes because I know that sometimes I can share my opinion too much. But no because I stand by my convictions. I prayed about it after our initial conversation, and truly felt the Lord was asking me to share with her. I felt she needed to know how special she was to God, and that she didn't have to define herself by what is seen in fashion magazine, but who God created her to be.

God has created us to look and be just who we are. There is a purpose. He has made us each to be unique, beautiful beings. No matter our skin color, our size, our height, our age, our background...God made us to be who we are. Its hard to accept that sometimes when we are bombarded by images of these so called perfect, skinny, tanned, well-groomed and well-dressed individuals on TV, the Internet and in magazines. However, we must look past all of that and see who we are in God. Amazing, beautiful, purposeful creations.

My heart breaks for the men and women of the world who do not know their self worth. I long for a time when we are judged not by the outward, but by our hearts. It may not be until we reach the pearly gates, but when it comes to the end, when our life on this earth expires, we will be judged by our inside and not outside. So, its important now to work on what counts.

If you feel like you want to change something about yourself, I suggest starting with your heart. We all need a little heart surgery every now and then. And know with every part of your being that you were created by God for God and with purpose. You are worth it. We all are.


Below: Full video of sermon from church

May 1: Does my life matter? from Pinelake Church on Vimeo.

Friday, April 29, 2011

It's not just another wedding

After reading several posts on Twitter, Facebook and blogs this morning, I thought I would put my two cents worth in about the royal wedding. This morning at approximately 11:00 a.m. in London, His Royal Highness Prince William of Wales took Miss Catherine Middleton as his bride. A historic day for all of Great Britain, this marked the union of two future sovereigns.

I have heard a lot of backlash about the media coverage of this event, particularly in the wake of the devastating storms that ripped through the Deep South this week. Most of the negative commentary has come from men, with no surprise. And I believe most of it is coming with a lack of appreciation for the historic relevance of this event.

Britain’s royals are one of the most well-know monarchies in world history. Queen Elizabeth, the current head, has reigned since 1952. When she wed Prince Philip in 1949, her wedding was broadcast on BBC Radio, with highlights shown on TV. Her son, and direct heir to the throne, Prince Charles wed Princess Diana in one of the most talked about weddings in history. The 1981 television broadcast attracted more than 750 million viewers worldwide. Needless to say, the world has always been interested in royal weddings.

I do agree there has been a bit of overkill about Will and Kate’s wedding. I mean…there was a Lifetime movie. I admit I watched it. And it was super cheesy. And there have been endless news programs dedicated to introducing the world to the background of the event. It has most definitely been overemphasized.

However, being overplayed in the media does not neutralize the historical significance of this wedding. I mean, it’s still a pretty big deal. A prince married a commoner today, a commoner that will one day been queen of one of the most powerful countries in the world. I realize the British monarchy doesn’t have as much political power as it used to, but it is still a very significant figure in British life.

I am not afraid to admit that I am interested in the royal wedding. Apart from having a crush on Prince William since…as long as I can remember, I am a girl, and I enjoy all the pomp and circumstance that even the most common, simplistic wedding has to offer.

This Sunday, I am hosting a royal wedding brunch at my house with several of my girlfriends. Because we all have busy lives, I recorded the event on my DVR, and we will watch it on Sunday after early church. The brunch wasn’t my idea, but that of a friend, however I am very exciting about hosting, and seeing all of the extravagant details the wedding brought forth.

I have to confess that I did take a peek this morning for about 15 minutes. I couldn’t wait to see the dress. Kate looked radiant in her gown, and to me, much like Grace Kelly. She was the picture of elegance and grace, and I’m sure will be quite the inspiration to future brides. William looks dapper in his regal attire, the picture of Prince Charming in Cinderella. And the hats…I love all the British hats! I really should have been born in a culture that incorporates modern headwear into every day fashion!

Many have asked why the wedding is such a big deal. My explanation is simple. Girls love weddings. Its one of those things ingrained in us from birth. Because most women are wired to respond to relationships, romance and emotions, we love the fairytale sentiments weddings invoke. As sappy and silly as it appears to most men, it’s just a part of who we are as women.

In my humble opinion, those complaining most about the royal wedding extravaganza are those that are most vocal about it. I don’t see anyone else posting on Facebook or Twitter. Just the complainers. So in their futile attempts to combat the media exaggerations, they are in fact feeding it more. I find that kind of hilarious.

I wish Will and Kate the very best, and hope their marriage lasts as long as his grandmother, the Queen. My only negative comment will be to Princess Catherine – Girl, I wish it was me!

AFTERTHOUGHT - I really love how Princess Catherine was veiled going into the cathedral. People don't do that anymore. I love the symbolism. If I ever get married, I'm totally walking down the aisle veiled!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Chicken and Waffles!!!

Last time we met I wrote on the topic of Supper Club, a gathering my friends and I host from time to time to share a meal and try out new things. At our last SC meeting, we had “soul food night,” featuring none other than chicken and waffles. This was a combination I have been dying to try for months, but never had an excuse until now. My friends were nervous. But here was the result….

Ummmm…..

It was amazing.

Beyond amazing.

Yes, chicken and waffles is amazing.
I can’t explain how the combination works. I just know it does. I made Belgium waffles on my fancy schmancy waffle maker that I received as a Christmas present from my sister and her family. And we topped it with a chicken breast from KFC (which I will get to) and chicken gravy. It really was delicious!

So, if I were ever to make this again, I would use chicken tenders. And I would fry them at home. Because I am Southern and I can fry chicken. However, in an effort to make things “easier” on a work night, the menfolk decided to buy the chicken. There was a little bit of….miscommunication, and I realize, in hindsight, I should have handled it myself. Not that the chicken wasn’t fantastic. It was! It’s just that it cost $40 for 9 people…just for chicken…and earned my neighbor the nickname “Big Money” at KFC. So, dinner didn’t end up being as economical as it could have been. Oh well!

It was still delicious!

Chicken and Waffles for Four

Chicken – Either fry or buy 8 chicken tenders. (2 per person)

Waffle Ingredients:
2 cups Bisquick Mix (Or other similar product)
1 1/3 cups milk (may need more)
1 egg
2 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
*1 ½ teaspoon cinnamon
*1 teaspoon nutmeg
*1 tablespoon vanilla

*These are just a guess. I don’t really measure these. I just eyeball it and dump it in the bowl….

Directions: Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. You want your consistency to be thick, but to still drip off of your spatula when you hold it up. Then pour about 1/2-3/4 cup of batter on the waffle iron and cook according to your directions.

Yields approximately 4 large Belgium waffles.

Chicken Gravy
From Foodnetwork.com

Ingredients:
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons flour
Salt & Pepper to taste
1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
Optional - 2 scallions, sliced, plus more for garnish

Directions: Melt the butter in a medium skillet and whisk in the seasoned flour until smooth. Whisk in the scallions, then slowly pour in the broth. Bring to a simmer, whisking until the gravy is smooth.

How to “dress” your meal:
Lay a waffle on a plate.
Place two chicken tenders on top.
Pour gravy over chicken and waffles.
Eat.
Smile.
Be happy.

**On a side note...we tried to think about appropriate sides for this meal before eating it. Its pretty savory, so you could go with creamed spinach or greens or something like that. We served fruit salad and coffee cake though, and it was a great combination! : )

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

What's your favorite restaurant?

Lately several people have been asking where I like to eat in town. That is such a loaded question. Why? Because I'm not really sure where I like to eat in town. Honestly. I mean...I like Old Venice Pizza. And I like Umi's sushi and hibachi, and I like lunch at The Veranda, but I can't call any restaurant in town my absolute favorite.

It’s very perplexing for someone who loves culinary arts. I moved from a huge, thriving metroplex, to a small college town that has really decent local eateries and some of your basic chains, but nothing that really...sets my pants on fire.

In Fort Worth I loved Sushi Axiom, La Playa Maya, Baker Brothers Deli, Joe T's, H3, just to name a few. But here....here...I just kinda like places. There isn't one restaurant that has proved to me they have an absolute, must-have dish.

Instead...if you ask me where I want to go eat, I'll say at home. It doesn't have to be my home...but somewhere, anywhere, my friends and I gather to cook and share life.

About a year ago a coworker invited me over to his house for dinner with some of his friends. He knew I was still fairly new in town, and didn't know many people. He introduced me to a couple of girls, a couple of guys, and even my next door neighbor who I had not met at this point. Every month or so this group of young adults comes together to cook dinner at someone's home. They called it Supper Club. Everyone splits up the menu, and brings their potluck items to share with the group.

Tonight we are having Supper Club at that same coworker's house. A year has gone by, people have come and gone, but there is still a steady group of us who like to gather together to break bread and fellowship. You know...like they did in Acts! (We are so Biblical.) : ) We rotate houses, nights of the week, menu choices, etc. But one thing is always the same, we always have a great time.

Supper Club varies from home cooked Southern dishes, to cookouts, to experiments and so on. Tonight, we are combining Southern soul food with a little bit of adventure. We're making chicken and waffles. Yep...ever since I saw a Throwdown with Bobby Flay on the dish, I have wanted to try it out. I finally convinced some folks, and we are gonna go for it. Fried chicken. Belgium waffles. Buttery gravy.

I don't think the quality of the food at Supper Club matters as much as the company. Though, the food is always fantastic because my friends are awesome cooks! But the idea of gathering with your friends, sharing a meal, trading jokes, and living life together far outweighs any restaurant you can eat at in town. It’s much more meaningful, relaxed and fun.

So, I'll let you know how the chicken and waffles turn out. I'll be sure to take pics and post the recipe! Wish us luck!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Blogger is killing me because it keeps messing up my posts and I can't get this dip online

I know that's a really long title...but I have been trying for 2 days to post this recipe, and blogger keeps reformating it to delete the breaks in my HTML code. Grrr....

Have you ever had black bean and corn salsa? If so, probably not at my house. Because I can't make it and not eat half of what I make. Seriously. Its that good. I originally found a recipe on a can of black beans, but was without when I needed to make it for Bible study last week. So...I did a little research and came up with the following. Its super easy and fast, and is a definite crowd pleaser!

Mega Black Bean and Corn Salsa

Ingredients:
2 cans of black beans
1 can of golden corn
1 can of white corn
1 can diced tomatoes with jalapeƱos (Or 2 large tomatoes diced & 1/3-1/2 can of diced jalapeƱos)
1/2 onion diced (red or white)
1/4 bunch cilantro, finely chopped
1 to 2 teaspoons ground cumin (to taste)
1 to 2 teaspoons salt (to taste)
1 teaspoon pepper (to taste)
juice of 2 limes (I always use fresh lime juice.)

Directions:
1. Drain and rinse black beans. Place in a large bowl.
2. Drain corn and add to beans.
3. Drain tomatoes and add to bowl.
4. Add onion and cilantro, and follow with lime juice.
5. Start adding seasoning and keep mixing (AND TASTING!!!) until you reach your preferred taste. May need to add more lime and cilantro too.
6. Serve with tortilla chips.

You can also cut up some avocado and add it in there, but only if you are going to eat it all that same day. Avocado doesn't keep well overnight. Also, this is easily cut in half! ENJOY!!!

PS – I made more today because my cilantro was going bad. I had chips and salsa for dinner. And some ice cream. It was a great end to a Monday.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Pie, oh my!

I never made it around to blogging over the weekend. Or making cupcakes. Or working in the yard. Or cleaning my bathroom. Yeah…I know. I did a few house chores, though, and I did make a pie for Saturday nights “community dinner.” And I played tennis and went to church. So, its not like the weekend was a total waste.

I think most of my readers now are fairly “new” to the blog. Meaning that you have probably only been reading for 6 months-2 years. This blog has been around since 2008 though. It was started by request of my mother because she thought it would be a good way to find everything that I cook in one place. I’m pretty sure my mother never reads or consults my blog for recipes though. Or the cookbook that I made her. But I use them both when I’m at her house!

Well, one day, shortly after watching the movie “Waitress” I was walking along the Trinity River in Fort Worth and it dawned on me…I want to own my own bakery or restaurant one day. I don’t know much about cooking, but I know I love to do it! I don’t have any formal training, and have a LOT to learn, but…still…it would be awesome!

As time has gone by, and as I have experimented more, I realized a full-service bakery is out of the question. I don’t have any skills when it comes to making or decorating cakes. I can bake a cake, sometimes, but that’s about it. However….I’m really good at pies, cookies, and other random desserts. And I’m good at cooking meals. So, maybe it will be a restaurant with pie shop in the front one day.

Oh pies…I love pies. I love making pies, which is probably one reason why I loved “Waitress” so much. Since I had a bad week last week, and since I want to expand my pie-making-abilities, I purchased a new pie cookbook. Its about Southern pie making. And so far…I’m loving it.

This weekend I made a pie. It was chocolate, gooey and delicious. And it was extremely easy! And…my friend Julie, who claims to hate pies, ate 2 pieces. I’m thinking this one is a winner. Try it out!

Step 1: Pour your melted butter over the chocolate chips.

Step 2: Beat out your frustrations by "chopping" the pecans.

Step 3: Pour the rest of the ingredients in the bowl.

Step 4: Pour in the crust and bake. It's that easy!



Tar Heel Custard Pie with Bourbon Whipped Cream
From Mrs. Rowe’s little book of Southern Pies
And the Pioneer Woman

PW’s Pie Crust
(To be for realz…I used a store-bought crust, but here’s the recipe I would have used if I made my own.)

Ingredients:
1-½ cup Crisco (vegetable shortening)
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 whole egg
5 tablespoons cold water
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon salt

Directions:
In a large bowl, with a pastry cutter, gradually work the Crisco into the flour for about 3 or 4 minutes until it resembles a coarse meal. In a small bowl, beat an egg with a fork and then pour it into the flour/shortening mixture. Add 5 tablespoons of cold water, 1 tablespoon of white vinegar and 1 teaspoon of salt. Stir together gently until all of the ingredients are incorporated.

Separate the dough into thirds. Form 3 evenly sized balls of dough and place each dough into a large Ziploc bag. Using a rolling pin, slightly flatten each ball of dough (about ½ inch thick) to make rolling easier later. Seal the bags and place them in the freezer until you need them. (If you will be using it immediately it’s still a good idea to put in the freezer for about 15 to 20 minutes to chill.)

When you are ready to use the dough to make a crust, remove from the freezer and allow to thaw for 15 minutes. On a floured surface roll the dough, starting at the center and working your way out. (Sprinkle some flour over top of the dough if it’s a bit too moist.) If the dough is sticking to the countertop use a metal spatula and carefully scrape it up and flip it over and continue rolling until it’s about ½ inch larger in diameter than your pie pan.

With a spatula, lift the dough carefully from the surface of the counter into the pie pan. Gently press the dough against the corner of the pan. Go around the pie pan pinching and tucking the dough to make a clean edge.

Chocolate Pie Filling

Ingredients:
½ Pie Crust Recipe
1 cup semisweet or dark chocolate chips
½ cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup chopped pecans
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup white granulated sugar
½ cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9-inch pie plate with the rolled-out crust.

Put the chocolate chips in a bowl, pour in the melted butter, and stir until the chocolate is mostly melted. (May need to pop in the microwave for about 10 seconds too.) Add the pecans, flour, sugars, eggs, vanilla and salt, and stir until thoroughly combined. Pour the filling in the crust.

Bake for 30-40 minutes, until the filling forms a smooth brown crust and begins to pull away from the pie crust. (Top will look like a brownie.) Custards continue to cook when taken out of the oven, so don’t overdo it. The filling will still be wet in the center, but will firm up as it cools.

Cool on a wire rack for about 1 hour before slicing. Serve at room temperature or slightly warm. Top with bourbon whipped cream (see below).

Bourbon Whipped Cream

Ingredients:
1 cup heavy cream
1-2 tablespoons white granulated sugar
1 tablespoon bourbon (or vanilla extract if you don’t want it boozy)

Directions:
Beat the heavy cream with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until frothy and beginning to thicken. Slowly add the sugar in a thin stream. Add the bourbon (or vanilla). Continue whipping until the cream is at the desired consistency.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Missing in Action

I should probably update my blog this weekend. I've been slacking. Well, I've been working a lot, spring cleaning, playing tennis, and am committed to 2 bible studies per week. So I'm not being lazy...I'm just not blogging.

How 'bout this? How 'bout I make some cupcakes this weekend to test them for my SIL's baby shower and I blog about it? Sounds like a plan.

Here's the invite I designed. I plan on pairing it with green envelopes. Its A7 size.


Do you think it coordinates with the nursery? That was my goal.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

St. Patty's Day

For some reason, St. Patty's Day makes me want to drink either really strong, dark beer....or whiskey....or green beer. Why? Probably because there is so much advertising going on about beer that I'm being sucked in. LOL!

I'm playing tennis tomorrow...so I won't be going down to the local boozer to get wrecked. (That's Irish talk for going to the neighborhood pub to get really drunk.) Plus, I have to work on Friday...so its probably not a good idea to drink a lot. (Not that I do that anyway....because I'm a grown up. And its just not how I roll.) However....I can bake something!

Last year in honor of the holiday, I made the following treat that can either be eaten at breakfast, or even for dessert. I'm thinking if you took the bread and made a bread pudding out of it, it would probably be really delicious!

This comes from Rachael Ray. Try it out!

Cranberry Soda Bread with Lime Glaze

Ingredients:
1 1/3 cups plus 1 tablespoon milk
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
4 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut into cubes
1 cup dried cranberries
1 large egg
1 cup confectioners' sugar
Grated peel and juice of 1 lime

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 425°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, whisk together 1 1/3 cups milk and the lemon juice; let sit at room temperature for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt. Rub in the butter until coarse crumbs form, about 3 minutes. Stir in the cranberries.

Beat the egg into the milk mixture; stir into the flour mixture until just combined. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead until it just comes together; form into an 8-inch round and place on the prepared baking sheet. Using a knife, score a 1/2-inch-deep "X" in the round. Bake until dark golden and crusty, 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool completely.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine the confectioners' sugar, lime peel, lime juice and the remaining 1 tablespoon milk. Drizzle the cooled soda bread with the lime glaze.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Peanut Butter + Chocolate = Happy Family & Friends

A little over a month ago I had a thought. I mean...I have thoughts a lot...but this thought was about cake. Cake that involved peanut butter and chocolate. These two things. like Romeo and Juliet, were made for each other.

The cake was first attempted for our Super Bowl party. I used a recipe for the icing out of Food Network magazine. It was good, but not quite the balance of the two flavors that I wanted. So I thought about how to improve the recipe, and waiting until this weekend (my sis-in-law's b-day) to make it again.

I finally decided on chocolate cake with a mixture of peanut butter and chocolate icing. It wasn't until I tasted the two types of icing that I decided how I would divide it. In the end, the cake was fantastic! And I'm finally ready to share with the blogosphere!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake
Adapted from several sources

Cake Ingredients: (From my Hershey's cookbook. Or you can just use a box mix!)
2 cups sugar
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup Cocoa
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 cup boiling water
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Directions: Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour three 8-inch round baking pans.

Mix sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl or mixer. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed for about 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin). Divide batter into prepared pans evenly.



Bake 25-30 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely.

Place bottom layer on a cake plate. Cover top with peanut butter icing (recipe follows). Place second layer on top and cover with peanut butter icing. Finally place third layer on top of second and spread a very think layer of peanut butter icing on top.

Cover entire cake with chocolate icing (recipe as follows). If desired, pipe extra peanut butter icing on cake.

Serve with vanilla ice cream!


Peanut Butter Icing

Ingredients:
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 cup creamy peanut butter (I used reduced fat.)
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature (Or salted butter and leave out kosher salt)
3/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup heavy cream

Directions: Mix confectioners' sugar, peanut butter, butter, vanilla, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on medium-low speed until creamy, scraping down the bowl with a rubber spatula as you work. Add the cream and beat on high speed until the mixture is light and smooth. Adjust consistency to icing by adding more confectioners' sugar or more heavy cream.

Chocolate Icing (As seen before)

Ingredients:
2 3/4 cups confectioners' sugar
6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
6 tablespoons butter
5 tablespoons evaporated milk

Directions:
Sift the powdered sugar and cocoa in a medium bowl. With a stand or hand mixer, cream butter until smooth. Gradually add in the sugar mixture, alternating with a tablespoon of evaporated milk at a time. Once all ingredients are combined, beat until light and fluffy.

Take a spatula, and test the stiffness of the icing by seeing if a peak forms when you flop it over. (This is very technical.) If too thick, add a tiny bit of more milk. If not thick enough, add more powdered sugar. Most likely it will not be thick enough!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Don't quit your day job

As a marketing and communication professional, I found the following video interesting. Business cards are an important way to brand your organization, while communicating important contact information. They also serve as a method to win free food when you drop it in a local "fish bowl" at a restaurant. I mean...they have lots of different uses. But all seriousness...business cards are often the impression you leave behind after meeting a new business contact.

What is your card like? Mine has three spot colors (gray, maroon and gold), and is on 130 lb. double thick cover. Its a sturdy card, and stands up really well when handing them out or carrying them in your purse.

If you are interested in design, branding, PR or advertising, the following video might be worth the watch. I thought it was!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Happy Mardi Gras!

Oh Mardi Gras! You are such an interesting holiday! And really, you aren't even a holiday. I mean, you are even less of a holiday that Valentine's, but way more fun that Columbus Day, Presidents Day or Flag Day!

Mardi Gras and I reunited for the first time in several years this weekend. In need of a break, two of my friends and I skipped town Friday morning for a three day retreat. This girls only weekend involved three key factors: shopping, food, and good company. That's all we really needed for a little R&R. However, it so happened that our weekend get-a-way also coincided with Mardi Gras celebrations on the Mississippi Coast.

It was chilly and rainy, so the celebrations were limited, but Amy, Karis and I did make it to one parade. We caught our beads and revealed in a very family friendly crowd. (Not sure we could handle Mardi Gras New Orleans style.) We also ate King Cake (K found the baby), and had some seafood. It was a pretty great celebratory attempt, if you ask me.

Friday night we ate at Half Shell in Gulfport on my parents recommendation. We arrived around 7:00 p.m., and were informed of an hour and a half wait. We figured by the time we tried anywhere else we wouldn't be much better off, so decided to stick it out. They then gave us the option to leave a phone number so we could leave and come back for a table when they had one. We took them up on it, and headed to the grocery store for some items, then headed back to the condo to relax. We finally decided to head back to the restaurant around 8:30, and literally walked up to the hostess as she was calling my cell phone.

After being seated, we quickly ordered spinach and artichoke dip for an appetizer. It was 8:45, and we were STARVING. They served it with pita bread. One surprise in the dip that made it their own was the addition of red onion. You wouldn't think a little onion would make a big difference, but it sure did! It made a very notable difference, and I will be attempting to make it in the near future. (After I figure it out, I will share.)

Our appetizers were fantastic, and our food was good as well. I would definitely recommend Half Shell to anyone heading to the coast, and hope to eat there again when I return. The food was wonderful, the service and staff were really outstanding, and it was most definitely worth the wait!

Saturday night we cooked up a feast of redfish, steak, green beans, cabbage salad and grilled vegetables. It was divine! I will be sure to post the recipes later, so stay tuned.

All in all, our little Mardi Gras trip was a success. We had a lot of fun, but more importantly, had a much needed weekend away from ole S-town. The three days allowed us to have fun and forget work, stress, and everything that has been going on. And I look forward to many more fun times to come!

Laissez les bon temps rouler!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Red, red wiiiinnnee

Ahhhh....its Thursday. Thursday is one of my favorite days. Why? Because its almost Friday, which means its almost the weekend. Also because Bones and Grey's Anatomy comes on Thursday night. Its such a glorious day!

My ritual on Thursday is to come home from work, cook a nice dinner, pour a glass of wine, and chill. As much as possible, I try to reserve this night for my sanity's sake. Every other night of the week can be spent out an about or working late, but come 7:30-8:00ish on Thursday, I need to be at home.

When it comes to wine, I'm pretty simple. I like it red. I like it bold. And I particularly like it if its from Chile.

I don't know what it is about Chilean wine, but from the first sip, I was sold. So the other night when I was in search of a new red, I ran across Root: 1 in the South American section. I was drawn to it because of the bottle. No label. Design is etched into the glass, and then decided to try when I found out its country of origin. I was pleasently surprised by its deliciousness. First I tried the cabernet sauvignon, and then the carmenere. Both are delicous and smooth.

Root: 1 is realatively inexpensive. Both bottles I bought ran between $12-$15. I assume its easy to find because we have it in my small town. Its a great bottle to take to a dinner party or give at a gift because its not too strong or too dry. It would work well for a spring cookout.

So...if you are comin to my house for dinner...You can pick this up at Corky's.

Morning Giggles

I am in an especially good mood this morning...which rarely ever happens. I slept well last night and woke up without the assistance of my 4 alarms. (Yes, I have 4 alarms that go off each morning. I'm not a morning person.) I even made it to work at 8:00! *gasp*

If you need anything from me, work people (who probably don't read my blog)...then ask me for it TODAY!

Okay, got to work and saw this on facebook. This little chica is my new favorite person! She is so funny! So...watch the first, and then watch the second. Hopefully it will bring a smile to your face!




Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Birthdays and cupcakes

On Saturday, my family celebrated my sweet nephew’s 4th birthday. I can’t believe how fast he is growing up!!! In celebration of his birth, we had a friend party on “The Compound” complete with a bounce house and slide. Yes, I did jump before AND after the party. It was pretty awesome!

The sweets for the party were a community effort. My sister made the cupcakes, my mom made the icing, I piped the icing, and Will put sprinkles on the cupcakes. We like to work together as a team! : ) They turned out to be quite delicious, so I thought I would share.

I was so stressed out last week, and going home to see my family just made everything better. I was only home for one night, but I got to do a little cooking at my mom’s, play outside on the farm in the beautiful sunshine, go to dinner with my brother and sister-in-law, and have lunch with both siblings and their families. It was such a wonderful two days!

I am pretty blessed to have such a great family. My grandparents were married for 62 years, and my parents have been married for nearly 37. I have a great sister and brother, who at times I don’t get along with…but hey, we are siblings after all! I have a brother-in-law who is the smartest person I know, and a sister-in-law who has become one of my best friends. I also have the cutest niece and nephew who I adore, and another one who is on the way. (We find out if it’s a boy or girl today!!!!) You folks should be jealous…because I think my family is pretty darn great!

Anyway…happy cooking! For yellow cupcakes with chocolate icing, this simple recipe is super yummy!

Yellow Cupcakes

Ingredients
1 box of yellow cake mix
4 eggs
1 cup low-fat buttermilk
Amount of oil on box

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 24 muffin cups with paper liners. Mix together cake mix, eggs, buttermilk and oil. Beat with an electric mixer until combined.

To fill your cupcake liners either:
1. Spoon batter into a zip-top bag. Snip a ¼ inch corner from the bag and fill paper liners 2/3 full.
2. Use an ice cream scoop. One scoop = one cupcake.

Bake about 15-20 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. Place on wire rack to cool. Yields approximately 24 cupcakes.

Chocolate Icing

Ingredients
3 cups powdered sugar
6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
6 tablespoons butter
5 tablespoons evaporated milk

Directions
Sift the powdered sugar and cocoa in a medium bowl. With a stand or hand mixer, cream butter until smooth. Gradually add in the sugar mixture, alternating with a tablespoon of evaporated milk at a time. Once all ingredients are combined, beat until light and fluffy.

Take a spatula, and test the stiffness of the icing by seeing if a peak forms when you flop it over. (This is very technical.) If too thick, add a tiny bit of more milk. If not thick enough, add more powdered sugar. Most likely it will not be thick enough!

Spoon icing in a piping bag and pipe on top of cupcakes.

To Decorate
For these cupcakes, I used a 1M star tip. I started from the outside of the cupcake, and circled in squeezing the bag lightly, but continuous. It took two full recipes of the icing to ice all 24 cupcakes.

We also added sprinkles to the top of the cupcakes for decoration. We filled a toothpick dispenser with the sprinkles, and let Will shake them over the cupcakes.


Sunday, February 20, 2011

I didn't know girls could grill...

Last night some friends and I welcomed spring by having our first cookout of the season. We eat together all time, but this time we actually got out the old grill and ate outside! It was amazing! It really is too hot to eat outside in the summer, so we have to capitalize on the few mild months we have each year.

Prior to the arrival of my guests, I was far more concerned about creating a tablescape than preparing dinner. (Though, all I had to do was make burgers.) I was going for something that offered a bit of ambiance and elegance, yet was simple and cheap. Basically, I just took a bunch of candles and glass jars and made this.

It worked out pretty well, if I say so myself! And I was able to work "tablescape" into the conversation about 14 times throughout the evening.

After dinner, we gathered around the firepit. This was interesting. Apparently certain people didn't believe that firelogs could be burned alone, instead of being used as starters. I had to show them the package, but I am not sure they believed me.

THEN...a bunch of hubalub went on about cooking s'mores over firelogs, which apparently puts off some kind of chemical. So...I allowed my neighbor to cut down part of a very small, dead crape myrtle in my back yard. It gave him something to do, and provided a cleaner burning fire to roast our marshmallows.


As a side note, we used the bag of candy I bought for work since it had various kinds of chocolate in it. I used Mr. Goodbars for my s'mores, and it was AMAZING!!!!

Prior to all of the fire, and prior to all of the discussions on chemical fires, we ate. I can't just skip over that! Since it was warm, and since we wanted to do warm weather things, we thought grilling hamburgers would be a great idea. So, the emails went round, we divided up responsibilities, and got things ready for a party. I was charged with the task of making burgers. (Okay, it was my idea.) Not a hard task for me. I have made burgers plenty of times in the past.

HOWEVER...a certain male neighbor of mine showed up and asked who was in charge of grilling the burgers. He was a bit shocked when I said I was. He replied, "I didn't know you could grill?" And something along the lines of most girls don't know how to cook meat outside. I mean...who does he think I am? Ha ha! He has eaten at my house enough times that he should know I can probably make a hamburger.

I decided to make a big deal about it in order to give him a hard time for his sexist pig joke. (I said he was sexist. He said I said he was a sexist pig. Maybe you had to be there.) I also wanted him to "eat his words" after he tasted the deliciousness of my burger.

Want to prove the men in your life wrong? Then ladies...make this burger. It was great!

"I Didn't Know Girls Could Grill" Hamburgers

Ingredients:
3 lb. ground beef
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1/2 green bell pepper, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
3-6 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
3 tablespoons Dale's Steak Seasoning
2 tablespoons Tony Chachere's creole seasoning
1-1/2 tablespoons Season All
Mild Cheddar Cheese cubes (optional)

Directions:
Preheat your grill at least 30 minutes prior to cooking.

Put beef in large bowl. Add onion, bell pepper, garlic, Worcestershire, Dale's, Tony's and season all. Mix ingredients with hands, combining all well.

Take a handful of meat, form it in a ball, and then flatten out.

To stuff with cheese: Take a palm size of meat and flatten out. Layer cheese on top of meat. Take another ball of meat and flatten on top of cheese, covering and enclosing all sides.

Put on grill and cook about 10-15 minutes on each side.

*If your meat is not holding together well, try adding an egg and bread crumbs to help it stick together. Fattier meats tend to hold together better, but the fatter the meat, the more the patty will shrink on the grill.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

We interrupt the normal programming to bring a special statement.

And a rather long statement. Sorry.

There are too many thoughts going through my head about this world to narrow it down to a brief, descriptive title. I am disappointed in our world today. Every day I see woeful images of the apparent sin in our society, but today…today…I am truly disheartened.

First off: Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.

Our campus started a wonderful program over a year ago to help reduce the amount of garbage we create. Blue recycling bins were placed in public areas, classrooms, offices, etc. accepting aluminum, cardboard, glass, paper, plastic, etc. With this particular program, you do not have to sort your different recycled products. A local company collects the bins and sorts them at their recycling facility. It’s genius, and it’s easy. All you have to do is take your recyclable goods and drop them 2-3 feet in a different bin. That’s it!

I was so disappointed to see the other day that not everyone in my office takes advantage of this free, easy recycling program. I noticed in one coworker’s office that they had tons of paper products in the trash and an empty blue bin. I did not impose my opinions of reducing our carbon footprint on that coworker, and walked away discouraged about this wonderful opportunity given to us.

On a different occasion a different coworker blatantly mocked my desire to recycle. After dinner one night at my home, I asked him to not toss his empty beer bottle in the trash, but to please place it on the shelf above the trash so I could recycle. He just laughed and purposely threw his bottle away. *gasp* I realize he was joking with me, and I went and dug the bottle out, but still! Don’t you think in my house you should play by my rules? (Not N.A.M.eing any N.A.M.es…but you know who you are!)

I realize that not everyone embraces my “hippy” values of trying to save the planet. But if everyone tried to do a little, it could make a huge impact on the amount of waste we have on our planet. I also don’t appreciate people mocking me or rolling their eyes at my effort to do my part. If one more person at Wal-Mart complains about my canvas grocery bags…I mean, really? I’m trying to save your corporation money by reducing the amount of plastic grocery bags you have to produce each year. (Even though my canvas bags barely make a hint of a dent in that production.) AND...more importantly…I’m trying to reduce the amount of plastic covering our streets, forests, oceans and earth.

If you can recycle, then do. If it’s unavailable in your area, then it’s unavailable. But probably not for long. More and more cities are adopting recycling initiatives to make it readily available for their citizens. Odds are your city will adopt a program very soon.

And Second: Save the Trees

Typically “save the trees” is a reference to recycling paper. That is why I paired these two topics together in one post. However, this “save the trees” plee involves a tragic, heartless act to a sister state/university.

Yesterday it was announced that 130+-year-old live oaks at Toomer’s Corner in Auburn, Ala., have been poisoned. When I read this on Twitter, my heart fell. Not because Toomer’s means anything to me, and not because I have any type of obsession with live oaks, but because someone deliberately injected lethal amounts of poison in the soil at this university and town landmark.

I have never been to Auburn, but if someone asked me what Toomer’s corner looks like after an Auburn win, I can describe it. Large, beautiful oak trees covered in hundreds of rolls of toilet paper. It’s an Auburn tradition. It’s part of their heritage. And as someone who loves their alma mater and an employee of a higher learning institution, my heart breaks at the impending loss of such a valued tradition.

Why would anyone want to kill something that means so much to so many Auburn students, alumni and fans? Why would you deliberately want to hurt thousands of people? Why? Because the world is full of sin. Because we are fallen, selfish, heartless and cruel. I have no other explanation.

This is truly why I am upset today. My heart breaks for the Auburn faithful as they wait for a miracle to save these gorgeous, old landmarks. These trees have lived longer than any person on this earth. They have seen more than any Auburn fan alive. And now they face a slow and imminent demise. And some ignorant, evil person, who, if they live in the South, probably describes themselves as a Christian, is gloating about ruining a time-honored tradition.

Thirdly: In summary

Friends, “Americans,” countryman, lend me your ears. 1. Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. 2. Helps save the trees. (By limiting your paper waste.) 3. Don’t be an idiot. Don’t be mean. Don’t let sin rule your hearts. That’s all.

THIS JUST IN – A 62-year-old man has been arrested in connection to the poisoning. 62? Are you kidding me? You know better than that! You idiot. If you are the one who did it, I hope your sentence is to plant 10,000 trees across the South. On your own. In the summer. With just a shovel. Jerk.

Monday, February 14, 2011

On Sugar Cookies and Lessons Learned

I have loved to cook ever since I was a small child. I guess it's just part of that Southern heritage ingrained in my DNA. From a fairly young age I was allowed to cook certain things on my own. I was allowed to bake a cake (from a box), make cookies (from a tube), or things easy like that.

One day I had the idea to make some homemade, from scratch sugar cookies. I have no idea where my mom was at the time, but I don't remember her being home. So, I asked my dad's permission, and he was cool with it. I mean...I think he just wanted a cookie. The man doesn't turn down sweets very often!

So, I found a recipe and got to work. I was so proud of myself. I can't quite remember exactly how old I was at the time, but it was between the ages of 10-12. And I
was making cookies all by myself from scratch! So proud! I even found these heart cookies and L-O-V-E cookies cutters. I knew my dad was going to love it!

As soon as the cookies were done and cooled I called my dad over to have one. I stood and waited for his praise for my delicious creation. I remember him taking a cookie, taking a bite, and then choking and coughing and running for a glass of water. I was shoc
ked. What happened to my cookies! I tasted one and quickly realized I messed up the proportions.

I think instead of adding 1 teaspoon of salt I must have added a tablespoon...or p
ossibly more. Instead of baking delicious sugar cookies I made disgusting salt coo
kies. Yeah...they tasted like salt. And baking soda. My dad wasn't super happy with me, and I'm pretty sure I was banned from making anything from scratch by myself for a long time.

I have since recovered from my salty....treats. And I have learned how to bake a cookie from scratch! And sometimes there just isn't anything better than a warm, homemade sugar cookie. If my dad were with me today, I'm sure he would be singing my praises instead of spitting out and gagging on my poor little cookies. Oh, the lessons I have learned through the years. But hey...Julia Child wasn't born a super awesome cook! You have to go through trials and
tribulations in the kitchen, and along the way you lear
n from your (sometimes numerous) mistakes.

Sugar Cookies

Ingredients:

1 cup fine, white sugar
2 sticks unsalted butter
1 large egg
2 cups All-Purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 large cooking sheets with parchment paper. (Not really necessary, but that's typically how I do my cookie pans.) Cream together sugar and butter. Add egg salt, baking soda and vanilla. Mix well. Gradually add in flour while mixing.

Roll dough into 1-inch size balls. Pour a little bit of sugar in a small bowl, and roll cookie dough balls in sugar to coat all sides.


Press ball onto cookie sheet to flatten out a bit. For snickerdoodles, add about 1/2 tablespoon of cinnamon to 4 tablespoons of sugar to roll dough balls.


Bake cookies for approximately 11-15 minutes, depending on your oven. Mine were perfecto after 13 minutes! Let cool on pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Or just eat them as soon as they are cool enough to touch! If desired, top with vanilla or buttercream icing and sprinkles. Yields approximately 3 dozen cookies.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

It snowed in the South

It snowed in the South this week. It has snowed TWICE since Christmas. And technically it snowed on Christmas day at my house...but I wasn't here, so I'm not counting that.

Snow in the South is like having a tornado in the Pacific Northwest. It really doesn't happen that often. In fact, it has only snowed once in the two years I have back in Mississippi. Well, up until this year. We've had a bit of a weird winter. I mean...It has snowed twice in the last month! And this last time we got nearly 5 inches! That's weird to me!

But never fear. After Wednesday's night's winter event, we have warmed back up. I mean...I still have snow in the shadows of my yard, but we've been in the 50's today. And will be in the 60's tomorrow and for the remainder of the week. Heat. That's what I'm used to in the South. Still, it was quite nice to enjoy something out of the ordinary. And...it was quite nice to miss work on two separate, random days! I always like a free day off!

Below is my "Ode to Snow" movie containing pics of the two wintry events. Its set to the music of The Civil Wars. Enjoy!


Monday, February 7, 2011

The Golden Egg

We can't get enough of the Egg Bowl trophy apparently. New video just rubbing in the engraving day! LOL! This is hilarious!

GO DAWGS!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Dilemmas, Dilemmas...and time for a poll

I'm trying to decide what to take as an appetizer to our Super Bowl party on Sunday. Here's my two options:

1. Mississippi Sin - Which I haven't had in FOREVER!

2. Guacamole - Which I made last year for the Super Bowl.

Both are quite delicious. We are having chili as our main course and random snacks and desserts from everyone. What would you want? (And if you are going to be at Lee's Sunday night what DO you want?)

Vote now or forever hold your peace! (You can cast your vote in the comment section. Since I don't really have many readers...I guess I may not get any votes...ha!)

Also, I'm making Texas shaped cookies. Because I can. And because I'm paying homage to it being played in my former home. And...I'm making some kind of chocolate cake. Possibly with peanut butter filling. Wish you were invited to our party, huh??? : )

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

OMG...I think I luuuuuv commercials

Super Bowl Sunday is rolling around this week. And though it is in my stadium of choice, my team of choice is not going to be there. In fact, I could care less about either team playing. Similar to two years ago. But whatevs....I'll pull for the Packers.

What I am looking forward to, though, is:

1. Hanging out with friends
2. Eating lots of yummy football food
3. Watching hilarious and thought provoking commercials during the game. Its all about the commercials anyway!

Right now Radio Shack has a very stupid commercial that makes me laugh. I don't know why. Probably the cat's Southern accent and the fact she's so silly. I think its hilarious though!



What I hope to see during the Super Bowl are more mayhem commercials by Allstate. They are very cleaver, and just...great! My two favorite are the GPS (recalculating) and the one where he is a teenage girl. I mean....that dude is just great!



I haven't had much time to read up about the Super Bowl ad hype this year. Sometimes I catch snippets from Ad Age, but I am admittedly behind on the gossip. However, I did see this bit on "Cooking with Snoop Dog and Pepsi" this morning. Ummmm...yes please! I hope to see this hilarity during the game. Do you think I could get Snoop to do a guest post on my blog? I mean...his 8-layer dip with chicken wings just looks....fantastic! Ha!

Happy Super Bowl week!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Another Noodle Bowl

Sometimes I just get a hankerin for Asians foods. I miss having Pei Wei on speed dial and just around the corner from my house. I have since learned to compromise, and am beginning to expand my Asian culinary repertoire. Sunday night I threw together a yummy noodle bowl with vegetables I found laying around the house, and an orange ginger sauce I picked up at the market that afternoon. Turned out great!

Orange Ginger Chicken Noodle Bowl


Ingredients:

2 large chicken breasts, cut in chunks

3 cups cabbage, chopped

1 bell pepper, chopped in large chunks

1/2 onion, chopped in large chunks

1 small can water chestnuts

2 garlic cloves chopped

1/2 box (or more) whole wheat spaghetti


2 tablespoons soy sauce

Canola Oil

Olive Oil

2 tablespoons butter or margarine

1/4 cup flour

1 teaspoon garlic powder


Directions:

1. Chop all vegetables. Saute bell pepper and garlic in butter and a splash of olive oil for approximately 5-10 minutes. Once softened, add onion and saute until translucent. Set aside.

2. While bell pepper is cooking, cover the bottom of a large skillet with canola oil and heat on medium high. Pour flour and garlic powder in a bowl or Ziploc bag. Add chopped chicken, and completely coat all sides with flour mixture. Place in oil to fry chicken nuggets.

3. When chicken is completely cooked, remove from heat and place chicken on paper towels to absorb any extra oil. Set aside.

4. Boil water and cook noodles according to directions. Drain and set aside.

5. Heat a splash of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add cabbage and a few splashes of soy sauce, and cook cabbage down, about 5-8 minutes. Add water chestnuts, and cook for about 2-3 more minutes. Add remaining vegetables, chicken and orange ginger sauce. Heat over medium hit, stirring well, for about 7-8 minutes (until everything is coated with sauce and warm).

6. Toss vegetables and chicken with noodles and serve. Yields approximately 4 servings.


Suggested Sides: egg rolls or pot stickers (both can be found in your freezer section at the grocery)

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Happy 30th Mel!

Today I have to wish one of my besties, Melissa, a VERY HAPPY 30th BIRTHDAY!!!! So glad she is joining the club today. And so glad she's been my friend since circa 1992. Here you can see us at Six Flags in high school. L-R - Christine, Deva, Melissa & Moi! I think this was in 1996...the four of us were inseperable then!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Conversations with a 4-year-old

Saturday night I was sitting on the couch at my mother's house, and my nephew came into the living room and crawled in my lap. He had his children's picture Bible with him, and needed to show me something. He opened the Bible to the story about Jesus' crucifixion.

He wanted to know why the men were hanging on the cross and why the Roman soldier "poked them" with his sharp stick. He also asked what the men did to die. I explained that the two men on the sides were bad and that they died because they did bad things. But then I explained that Jesus never ever did a bad thing his whole life. I also explained the Jesus was God, and that he was very good. However, he had to die so we could go to heaven and be with him one day.
We had to discuss this for a few minutes before he fully understood. And then he asked why the Roman soldier was so bad. Being the caring auntie that I am, I tried to soften the story a little and say the soldier was guarding the men. But then Will corrected me and said he was bad and poked the men. My sister said he already knew the story, and he knew the soldier was bad. (Oops!) My nephew then said he wished he could crawl in the book and hit the bad soldier so he didn't poke Jesus or other men. My sweet nephew is such a caring little boy, and he wanted to protect Jesus.

Will is a very smart child, and I was impressed with how much he has retained from going to church and talking to his parents about Jesus. I am always impressed with his sensitive and caring heart. He is a precious little boy.

We went on and discussed other parts of the book, including the resurrection and ascention to heaven. Will does not want to fly in the air and go to heaven like Jesus. He also doesn't want to have holes in his hand. Even though is is young, he really seems to understand who God is and the stories of the Bible.

It was a very precious time sitting with my nephew and discussing our Lord. I pray for him and his sister all the time to grow up in the ways of the Lord, and to love and follow Him from a young age. My job as an aunt will be to pray for them, speak with them, and help their mom and dad and grandparents as we all train them up in the ways of the Lord.