Friday, December 31, 2010
Thursday, December 30, 2010
I'll never forget the first time Thomas brought me home a bag of "seasoned pretzels" from his parents. I couldn't wait to try them, and once I started I couldn't stop. The pint size Ziploc bag Thomas had brought me was gone in a day, ONE DAY! Yes, I am that crazy. Who isn't? Well needless to say, I always look forward to the times these special pretzels are around, though I have yet to make them for myself, I am going to try and I hope you will too and be sure to let me know if you enjoy them as much as I do!
¾ cup canola oil
1 pkg ranch dressing mix
½ tsp dill weed
½ tsp oregano
½ tsp garlic powder
Mix seasonings with canola oil. Divide pretzels and put in two Ziploc bags. Divide seasoning and oil and put into each bag. Coat pretzels and let stand for 24 hours, turning occasionally.
Tuesday, December 28, 2010
2 Tbsp olive oil
8 boneless chicken thighs (or a combination of thighs and drumsticks)**
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp crushed red-pepper flakes
10-12 green or black olives, pitted and roughly chopped
1/2 cup dry red wine
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
1 lb roma tomatoes, coarsely chopped
2 Tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
1. Heat the olive oil in a large sauté pan on high. Season the thighs with salt and pepper and add them to the skillet, skin side down. Cook, turning occasionally, until they're deeply brown and crisp on all sides, about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove them from the pan.
2. Lower the heat. Add the bell pepper, onion, garlic, pepper flakes, and olives. Cook until the vegetables soften, about 10 minutes. Pour in the wine; simmer, stirring occasionally, until the wine nearly evaporates, about 5 minutes.
3. Add the stock, tomatoes, and chicken, tucking it skin side up into the vegetables. Bring to a simmer and cook over medium heat for another 20 minutes, until the chicken is nearly falling off the bone and the sauce is reduced by half. Add salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle on the parsley. Makes 4 servings
**We used organic boneless skinless chicken thighs.
Saturday, December 25, 2010
Thursday, December 23, 2010
Over Thanksgiving I was helping my Mom make the bread, Mom did you notice I didn't include salt as one of the ingredients?, and I think I figured out what her secret is, she uses a little more orange juice then the recipe calls for which gives the bread added moisture and flavor. Give the recipe a try and I hope it will become one of your family favorites too!
Cranberry Nut Bread
2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¾ cup orange juice
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon orange peel, grated
1 egg, well beaten
1 ½ cups fresh cranberries, coarsely chopped
½ cup nuts, chopped
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan. Mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda in a medium mixing bowl. Stir in orange juice, oil, orange peel and egg. Mix until well blended. Stir in cranberries and nuts. Spread evenly in loaf pan. Bake for 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on rack for 15 minutes. Remove from pan and cool completely.
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Monday, December 20, 2010
Makes 36 cookies
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup packed light-brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup granulated sugar, for rolling dough
36 mini peanut butter cups, chilled and unwrapped
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Using an electric mixer, cream peanut butter and butter in a mixing bowl until smooth. Add brown sugar; beat until combined, scraping down bowl as needed. Add eggs and vanilla, and beat until incorporated.
2. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. With mixer on low speed, gradually beat in flour mixture in two batches.
3. Scoop off dough by the tablespoon; roll into balls. Place granulated sugar on a plate; roll balls in sugar, coating completely. Place 2 inches apart on a nonstick insulated baking sheet.
4. Bake until cookies begin to puff up slightly, about 7 minutes. Remove from oven. Press one peanut butter cup in center of each cookie. Return to oven; continue baking until cookies are golden brown and chocolate has begun to melt, about 6 minutes more. Let cool at least 10 minutes on baking sheet before transferring cookies to rack to cool completely.
You can also make them with other favorite chocolate candies, I used a mixture of peanut butter cups and milk chocolate Hershey Kisses. Store the cookies in an airtight container for up to two weeks.
Tip from Martha: Adding marshmallows to the container will prevent the cookies from drying out.
Here are two more of my favorite treats to make during the Holidays:
Thursday, December 16, 2010
Last weekend my Mom came in to town and we had so much fun together as usual! We went to lunch Friday at one of our favorite spots, the Gourmet Shoppe then spent the afternoon shopping in Columbia . We have several favorite shops we like to go to from antique stores to locally own boutiques. Shopping locally has a lot of offer not to mention you avoid the crowds of the chain retailers and they offer one of a kind gifts. Friday evening we met Thomas for dinner at Cantina76, my Mom was craving Mexican so what better place to take her! We had a very enjoyable dinner together enjoying drinks, appetizers and of course our meal. Once we got home we didn’t stay up much later because we decided it would be best to get some good sleep before our big shopping trip the next day.
Saturday morning we were up and off to Charleston ! I know many of you have heard me say before; Charleston is one of our favorite places. We were so excited; we could hardly stand the 2 hour car ride! It has been a chilly week or so here in the Southeast and last Saturday was no different, thank goodness we were planning on going in and out of shops all day long to stay warm. For as many years we have been visiting Charleston , we had never been at Christmas time. So this was a real treat for us and seeing the Charleston Place all decorated was exciting!
After taking in some of the Christmas sights, we started our day of shopping, but not before stopping at Starbucks for a caffeine fix. We spent most of the day going in and out of the shops that line King Street . We did take a break for lunch to refuel. We usually go to Blossoms for lunch, it’s our favorite lunch spot in Charleston , but since it was winter time and couldn’t sit outside we decided to go to Sermet’s Corner on King Street . The place was packed but we were lunch enough to get a table for two right by the front window! My lunch came with an order of sweet potato fries topped with Parmesan cheese, oh my goodness were they delicious, we couldn’t stop talking and we still can’t about how good they were!
After lunch we did some more shopping and stopped for a praline as our afternoon treat. That evening we rested up since Sunday was our last day together. Sunday we went to church and had lunch, frozen yogurt with lots of toppings to be exact, it sure was tasty! We went to a few more shops around town before it was time to leave for the airport.
Miss T and I hate when the weekends she comes to visit come to an end, we always have so much fun together! The nice part about saying goodbye this time was that we will be together again for the holidays real soon!
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Yields 2 dozen cookies
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
24 Snickers miniature candy bars
Preheat oven to 300°F. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, and salt. In a large bowl, mix together butter, peanut butter, and sugars until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla and combine thoroughly. Then mix in flour mixture. Cover and chill dough 2-3 hours. To form cookie, scoop a tablespoon of chilled dough and flatten. Place a miniature Snickers in the center and form the dough into a ball around the Snickers. Place on a greased cookie sheet. Bake for 10-20 minutes. Cool cookies on a rack.
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Monday, December 13, 2010
Friday, December 10, 2010
2 snapper, catfish, or tilapia fillets, 4–5 oz each (we used catfish)
1 mango (skin and seed removed), cut into cubes
1 ripe avocado (skin and pit removed), cut into cubes
Juice of one lime
1 Tbsp blackening spices
1/4 c minced onion
1/2 c chopped cilantro
Salt and pepper
1. Combine the mango, avocado, lime juice, onion, and cilantro in a mixing bowl. Season with salt and pepper.
2. Preheat a large sauté or grill pan over high heat and add enough oil to coat it.
3. Rub the fish with enough of the blackening spice to thoroughly cover each side. When the oil is hot (almost smoking), carefully add the fillets to the pan and cook for 2 to 3 minutes per side, until a nice, dark crust has developed. The fish is done when it flakes easily with light pressure from your finger.
4. Top each fillet with the mango salsa.
Serve with brown rice and black beans, we added corn too and it was delicious! This recipe was so refreshing and light and even though it might seem like a summer recipe, I think it is a great recipe for year around. You know how I feel about mango's (love) so that might have something to do with it.
I hope y'all have a fabulous weekend!
Thursday, December 9, 2010
N*Sync-Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays
*I listen to Pandora R&B/Pop Christmas Music station almost every day at work and they play such a variety of Christmas music and I love almost every song they play. Give the station a try, I bet it will make your work day or any day for that matter that much better!
I absolutely can't get enough of Home Alone (the first one). One of my favorite lines: "Buzz's girlfriend? Woof!" The Polar Express is an amazing movie for children and adults alike. Did you know the movie is based off the children's book? It was one of my favorite books as a child and it would make a special gift for your own children or of course someone elses.
What are some of your favorite Christmas music and movies?
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
1.) Friday night Thomas and I saw Trans-Siberian Orchestra in concert. One word to describe: A-MAZ-ING! Seriously, everything about it was just awesome not to mention the concert was 3 and half hours long, talk about getting your monies worth! If they are coming to a city near you, go check them out, I promise you will enjoy every minute!
2.) Saturday morning I went to our local Junior League Holiday Market. It was my first year attending and it was neat, but nothing to rave about. Although I did find one vendor from Georgia that I absolutely loved. You will just have to wait to find out more about her, I can’t give away all my secrets (at least not yet)!
3.) Saturday afternoon we went to one of our favorite lunch spots, DiPrato’s and had the most amazing pimento cheese and pita chips. YUM!
4.) How about we just don’t talk about the rest of Saturday? My Gamecocks lost in the SEC Championship game to Auburn . Auburn-walked-all-over-us, YIKES! Despite the lousy game and terrible outcome for the Gamecocks we did have fun watching the game with a few couples one in which we hadn’t seen in a long time and it was nice to catch up!
5.) I wrapped all the Christmas gifts we bought for the child we adopted from a local children’s home. Thomas’ work makes the arrangements with the children’s home and then all the employees adopt an individual child to buy gifts for. I had an absolute blast shopping with Thomas for our 8 year old boy, Daniel and today is the BIG day; he gets to open all his presents this afternoon!
6.) I decorated my house for Christmas and of course put up the Christmas tree! Thomas and I decorated the tree after dinner Sunday night. Side note, I have another delicious recipe to share with y’all from Men’s Health. Who would have ever thought they would have such delicious healthy recipes that are easy to make? Not I!
7.) After all the decorating was done, I love nothing more then sitting on my couch with just the lights from the Christmas Tree and the candles in the window. I love this time of year!
Thursday, December 2, 2010
2 tsp olive oil
1 small garlic clove, crushed
2 thin-cut boneless pork chops
1 small red apple, such as Gala or Red Delicious, cored and diced*
2 tsp balsamic or red-wine vinegar*
1 tbsp bourbon
1 tbsp grainy mustard*
salt and pepper
*We used a Gala Apple, balsamic vinegar and Inglehoffer stone ground mustard
Combine the oil and garlic in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Place the pork chops in the center of the skillet. Toss the apple with the vinegar and bourbon, and then add the mixture to the skillet between the pork and the edges of the pan. Cook for 6 minutes, turning the pork once and the apple pieces a few times. When ready to serve, top the pork with mustard. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
P.S.- This mustard is the BOMB!
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
What are some of your childhood traditions you still hold on to? Can you believe it's December already?? EEEK!!!
Friday, November 26, 2010
Thursday, November 25, 2010
We are hosting Thanksgiving dinner at my parents house this year and my Mom and I are busy preparing for the big meal! I can't wait to see my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins and spend the evening with each other, laughing until our stomachs ache! Oh and Thanksgiving morning isn't complete without catching a glimpse of the Thanksgiving parade.
I wish each and everyone of you and your family and friends a very joyful and happy Thanksgiving! Safe travels where the day may take you.
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
I know many of you are probably enjoying some time off around the holidays with family and friends and entertaining more then usual. This breakfast casserole recipe is not only easy peasy, but it is something you can do the night before and pop in the oven the next morning, so you have more time for dishes that require last minute attention.
Friday, November 19, 2010
Anyways, back to the birthday celebration! We went to dinner for his birthday, his choice of course, and he a good choice he made, The Oyster Bar! Oyster Bar is one of our favorite places, and November is a perfect month for oysters since the month ends in "r." What I love about the Oyster Bar is its laid back atmosphere (a long wooden rectangular high top bar with bar stools lines the restaurant and there is a trough in the middle where the guys shuck your oysters) and the exceptionally friendly staff who sucks your oysters for you. What could be better than enjoying oysters while watching someone else do the work? With our oysters we also ordered a pound of craw fish and Thomas ordered a cup of seafood gumbo and a side order of red potatoes, which I ended up help eating, oh well. And of course we couldn't stop there, we ordered another peck of oysters before calling it quits. The Oyster Bar's homemade cocktail sauce called "Mother Shucker's" is to die for and it's warm when they serve it to you, it's heavenly. The oysters were delicious and we had a great time together!
After dinner we had to have dessert to continue the celebration of course. Every year I've always made Thomas' a birthday cake, but this year I decided that wouldn't be a good idea since I knew we wouldn't be able to eat it all before it went to waste. So Cupcake to the rescue! During lunch on Wednesday I picked up two cupcakes, Red Velvet (one of Thomas' favorites) and Strawberry Cheesecake (one of the flavors of the day). We started with the Strawberry Cheesecake with the intentions of only eating one, but that didn't exactly work! So we ate the Red Velvet cupcake too and they both were excellent.
I don't have any pictures from the night because I couldn't think while trying to overcome my hunger pains, so you are just going to have to picture in your head the best oysters you've ever had and multiply it by 100 and then picture you favorite cupcake and imagine that's what we were enjoying, but better!
Fast forward with me now to last night. Every year part of Columbia's downtown known as the Vista, kicks off the holiday season with an event called, Vista Lights! Vista Lights is one of my favorite events in Columbia to celebrate the holidays. The city closes off several blocks of the main street that runs through the Vista so adults and children can walk freely in the street. Vista Light's is almost like a open house to kick off the holiday season with over 60 galleries, shops, restaurants, bars, and entertainment venues open their doors for the evening to showcase holiday treasures. There are fire pits to roast marshmallows in the street, a bridal fashion show, lighting of the Christmas tree, lots of shops to see, and of course good food and drinks.
I am happy it was chilly this year because we been when it's been very, very windy and cold which was miserable and then we have also been when the weather has been so mild it was almost warm and that certainly doesn't make it feel like the holidays are near. So I would say this year was picture perfect! We sampled Blue Marlin's famous shrimp and grits which are unbelievably amazing, I had a glass of barbie wine while Thomas had a beer or two, watched the lighting of the Christmas tree, and we of course went in and out of all the galleries and shops while enjoying the entertainment in the street. We had an absolute blast and I'm sad it's over. Already looking forward to next year!
(Sorry for the poor picture quality, I forgot my camera!)
Thursday, November 18, 2010
About mid afternoon we took a break to refuel our bodies with some delicious Italian food. Our sandwiches hit the spot and not too much later we were back on our feet shopping. After a full day of shopping we listened to Christmas music on our drive home. We both agreed that we don't think about decorating for Christmas until after Thanksgiving, but that it wasn't too early to listen to Christmas music because there is just isn't enough time to enjoy Christmas music!
Later that night, while resting our feet from our fabulous shopping day, we watched the Carolina Gamecocks BEAT the Florida Gators for the SEC Championship!!!! The first time in USC history might I add! Gooo Cocks!
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
2) Have you heard of Ebates? If you shop online, you MUST sign up for Ebates! How does Ebates work? You sign up and log in to your Ebates account, you search for the store you are going to purchase something through and you connect to that website through the Ebates website. Once you make your purchase you will be credited a certain amount to your Ebates account. For example, purchases made at Ann Taylor through your Ebates account result in 6% back. Another neat retailer on Ebates is Groupon, so not only will you be getting a great discount through Groupon, but you’ll get a 6% rebate on your purchase from Ebates! I don’t think it gets much better then that! The “rebate” or percentage of cash back can be used in addition to the website discount codes and most of the time Ebates will tell if there are any active discount codes at that particular store. You can receive your rebate money through Paypal or paper check every few months. Sign up here!!!
3) Are you a Starbucks fanatic? If so, you are going to love this deal! All you need to do to sign up is text 12DAYS to 29943 to receive a daily offer from Starbucks now through December 1st! See you at Starbucks!
What are some of your favorite deals? Please do share!
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
A few tidbits regarding the details of their engagement:
Engaged last month while on a safari in Kenya
Kate ditches her nickname for a more formal Catherine
Prince Charles jokes “they’ve been practicing long enough”
Prince William proposed using the engagement ring of his mother, Princess Diana, an 18-carat sapphire and diamond ring
The wedding will take place either next Spring or Summer before the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Year (2012)
Once married they will be known as the Prince and Princess of Wales
To learn more about their engagement and upcoming wedding, click here. To watch Prince William and Kate's first interview together as an engaged couple, click here. And if you are still interested in learning more there is a Dateline Special on William & Kate tomorrow night (Wednesday) at 8/7 Central.
Tuesday, November 9, 2010
Monday, November 8, 2010
1 Can Cream of Mushroom Soup
1 Can Cream of Celery Soup
**Sorry there is not a picture of the finished product, I completely forgot in the midst of my hunger pains!
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
Sunday, October 31, 2010
Don't I make a cute mouse?
Almost three weeks ago, I received a HUGE package in the mail from my parents! It was filled with all the candy you see above! I'm known to have a sweet tooth and my Mom sure knows my favorites! All the candy is from Bomboy's, a candy store in Havre de Grace, Maryland. They are known for their homemade chocolate caramels and chocolate top cookies. The two boxes that are wrapped in the photograph above have chocolate caramels in one and nonpareils in the other. Needless to say I was in heaven with it all! And three weeks later all that's left is a couple chocolate caramels. Oops! Wait, isn't that what Halloween is all about?
Wishing you all a very Happy Halloween filled with lots of sweet treats!
Thursday, October 28, 2010
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
To be honest, I don't like dressing up for Halloween. If you twist my arm I will certainly do it, but it is not something I plan or look forward to myself. I enjoy Halloween for two reasons: 1) seeing little kids all dressed up and 2) all the candy. Who doesn't enjoy celebrating a holiday that is full of candy and more candy???
Whether you are like me or are the complete opposite and go all out on Halloween, I thought the cocktail recipes below were easy yet creative for any Halloween celebration!
Serves 1. To make a batch for a party, multiply recipe by the number of guests.
*Give this classic a Halloween makeover with a pair of onion "eyeballs."
1 tablespoon dry vermouth
3 ounces gin
2 cocktail onion "eyeballs" for garnish
Chill martini glasses in the freezer or fill with ice and water
Pour the vermouth in a cocktail shaker or glass, swirl around to coat the sides of the shaker then pour it out.
Fill the cocktail shaker or mixing glass with two thirds full of ice cubes. Pour in the gin. Shake or stir in glass for 15-30 seconds.
Strain the drink in to the chilled glass.
**For the "eyeballs" pierce two cocktail onions with a paring knife and place one large black whole peppercorn in the slit of each. Spear the onions with a cocktail pick, place in glass and serve.
Serves 1. To make a batch for a party, multiply recipe by the number of guests.
1 1/2 ounces premium tequila
1 ounce fresh lime juice
1 ounce Cointreau or other orange liqueur
1 teaspoon simple syrup
drop of red food coloring
sliced lime, for garnish
Fill a cocktail shaker with crushed ice and ingredients above.
Shake well to blend.
Pour over ice into salted and chilled over sized Margarita glass.
Add lime to garnish: place one drop of red food coloring at the top of the lime and let it drip down like blood.
Thursday, October 21, 2010
Squee! Thomas and I were given tickets to the NASCAR Dollar General 300 Race in Charlotte on Friday night. This is something I have had on my bucket list for a while now, at least since I began living in the South. My Mom's response when I told her what we were doing Friday night was, "I didn't think that would be something you would be interested in." Well she's right. I'm really not at all interested in the sport of racing, but I am interested in experiencing the NASCAR environment. I just couldn't imagine what the track looks and feels like with cars going 170+ mph around and around.
They race two weekends a year in Charlotte; May and October. Let's be honest here, we were treated like royalty. The tickets we were given were for the Speedway Club with reserved parking & seating and we were given a dress code to follow. Yes you read it correctly, a dress code! Our tickets were like going to an NFL Football game with box seats.
Let's gooo #33!
I think the start was my favorite part, but I will say the entire race was entertaining! I could never imagine watching 200+laps on TV but it's completely different being there. Oh and there were a couple of wrecks which made it even more exciting and I can say that because no one was hurt! Both of us had an absolute blast and would definitely go back!
Now fast forward to Sunday with me because honestly any Gamecock fan wants to forget Saturday. Sunday evening we went to the State Fair. I look forward to this day every year and Thomas does too. Last year we did a much better job of "eating our way through the fair", literally, but we didn't do too shabby this year either.
We started with fried mushrooms. Probably the best fried mushrooms ever.
I challenged Thomas, but he didn't give in!