Friday, December 31, 2010

Ringing in the New Year!

Although I enjoy spending New Year's Eve with family and friends, I love all the glitter and glam that goes along with the evening! No matter what your plans are, I hope these pictures have you sparkling in to the New Year!

Wishing each of you a HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!

Talk to you in 2011!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Seasoned Pretzels

Those of you who know me and for those of you who don't, you are about to find out how much I love pretzels. Since I can remember pretzels have always been my favorite snack, I pretty much can't live without them. I remember when I was in high school and had no interest in cooking, may be a little baking, but still not much, thank goodness that has all changed, my Mom said that if it was up to me to make dinner we would have pretzels and green beans on our plates. And that is so true, they are both two of my favorite foods.

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!

Seasoned Pretzels


2lbs. Pretzels
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

Eat Mor Chikin

I'm back with another delicious recipe from Men's Health. Thomas has been finding scrumptious recipes on their website, you want to what makes the recipes even better? Not only are they easy to make and don't require off the wall ingredients that we will use one time, but they are healthy!

Chicken Cacciatorie


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

Merry Christmas!

Wishing each of you a very Merry Christmas! I hope Santa treated you well!

This image was orginally posted on Sweets & Treats, thanks Laur for sharing!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

A Family Favorite!

One of my favorite things I love most about the holidays are traditions and cranberry nut bread is one of our traditions. We make this bread from Thanksgiving through Christmas. I really don't know how the tradition was started, but it's something my Mom and her sisters have always made during the holidays and I always look forward to it! Most mornings during the holidays we have a slice for breakfast (with a cold glass of skim milk), it is the perfect mix of sweet and tangy and of course we have it at Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations. All my aunts use the exact same recipe and they always say my Mom's is the best and I agree.

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

Happy Birthday, Mom!

Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday dear Mom,

Happy Birthday to YOU!!!

Today, on your birthday...

And eat a piece of cake

or two cupcakes, because birthday's only come once a year!

Happy Birthday to the BEST Mom their is, I love you!!!!

See you very soon!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas Treats

Here's a yummy recipe from Martha Stewart, I made these last year at Christmas and they were such a big hit with women and men alike! What I really like about these cookies are how long they stay fresh and soft, just like brownies!

Martha Stewart Peanut Butter Surprise Cookies
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:

Pretzel Turtles

Mint Brownies


Thursday, December 16, 2010

Girls Weekend!

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!

Train Garden

Christmas Tree

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

A Surprise for Santa

Don't ask me what it is about these cookies that I love so much, but the only thing I can think of is because the cookies are salty sweet and I love salty sweet. I'm the girl that asks for a pretzel after a piece of cake!
One of my aunt's always brings this cookie along with many others to Christmas Eve and I make sure I keep my eye on them so I don't miss out! Not to mention I think the name of the cookie is very cute. I had never heard of this cookie until a year or two ago, am I that out of it? I guess its better I found out late than never.

Santa's Surprise Cookies
Yields 2 dozen cookies


1 cup butter, softened
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
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

Scent of the Season

I picked up this candle two weeks ago and I had to refrain myself from lighting it until I started decorating for Christmas. It smells absolutely amazing and since I have an artificial tree I miss the smell of a live one, but this candle is a quick and pleasant fix!
What is your favorite scent of the season?

Monday, December 13, 2010

Two Funnies.

I hope these two jokes put on a smile on your face this Monday morning!
Two weasels are sitting on a bar stool. One start to insult the other one. He screams, "I slept with your mother!" The bar gets quiet as everyone listens to see what the other weasel will do. The first again yells, "I slept with you mother!" The other weasel says: "Go home, Dad, you're drunk."
A married couple in their early sixties were celebrating their fortieth wedding anniversary in a romantic restaurant. Suddenly, a fairy godmother appeared. She said, "For being such an exemplary married couple, I will grant you each a wish." The wife answered, "I want to travel around the world with my darling husband." The fairy waved her magic wand and poof!--two tickets for the Queen Mary 2 appeared. The husband though for a moment, and then said, "Well, this is all romantic, but an opportunity like this will never come again. I'm sorry, sweetheart, but my wish is to have a wife 30 years younger than me." The wife and the fairy were deeply disappointed, but a wish is a wish. So the fairy waved her magic wand and poof!--the husband became 92 years old. The moral of this story: Men who are ungrateful should remember fairy godmothers are female.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Go Fish!

Here's another delicious Men's Health recipe that Thomas found, which I mentioned in this post. We made this for dinner on Sunday night and it turned out to be so tasty!

Blackened Catfish with Mango Salsa


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
Vegetable oil


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.


On another note, Miss T and I have one of our most favorite visitors coming in to town today for the weekend. We couldn't sleep last night we are so excited!

I hope y'all have a fabulous weekend!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Christmas Favorites: Music & Movies Edition

I think it's safe to say we all have favorite Christmas music and movies? As you can see my list is quite outdated but so what? I'm not afraid to admit that N*Sync Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays puts a huge smile on my face!
Mariah Carey- All I want for Christmas is You
N*Sync-Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays
Michael Buble- Let it Snow Christmas CD
Tran-Siberian Orchestra
Taylor Swift-Sounds of the Season

*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!

Home Alone
Christmas with the Kranks
Santa Clause 1 & 2
The Polar Express

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

Weekend Recap

Let me just start by saying, aren't weekends fabulous? I think they are so fabulous, I wish they lasted all week long.

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

This Recipe Will Make You Lick Your Chops!

This recipe is unbelievably delicious! Thomas has been finding some great recipes on Men's Health and this recipe is one of them. We made these pork chops last night for dinner and I am still thinking about them today, what does that tell ya? With the pork chops we steamed fresh asparagus and seasoned it with salt and pepper. As for the chops, you must try this recipe, I know it will become one of your favorites if you do! It is easy to make and the flavors mixed with the apples and chops is absolutely delightful. Oh and if you are skeptical about the grainy mustard on top the chops, don't be, it makes the dish!

Apple-Topped Chops


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!