Friday, September 30, 2011

Pretty Lights


I love all of these lights ideas!  They're magical, fun, and romantic.  They make me want to throw a party.

Happy Friday!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Chili & Cornbread

I have a confession.  I didn't make this chili entirely from scratch.  I've been making chili like this since I was in college, and it's still one of my favorites.  Back then I wasn't about to buy a dozen different spices to make chili, so I use this super easy recipe instead.  I still make it like this because it's delicious.  I'm not one of those people that makes something easy for dinner just because it's easy.  I make it because it's good, and if it's easy then it's a plus!  

Easy Chili
2 cans Chili Magic (found in the aisle with canned beans)
2 lbs ground beef
2 (14.5 oz) cans diced tomatoes (I use the ones with zesty green chiles)
veggies of choice:  green pepper, red pepper, onion
salt and pepper to taste

Brown ground beef; drain.  Mix all ingredients into a large pot or a crockpot.  Cook on low for three hours up to all day, stirring occasionally.  Serve with cheese and sour cream.

Buttermilk Cornbread with Monterey Jack Cheese
1 cup flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup (packed) coarsely grated Monterey Jack cheese
3/4 cup buttermilk
2 eggs
3 Tbsp honey
1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Butter an 8x8" baking dish.  

Whisk flour, cornmeal, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together in medium bowl.  Stir in cheese.  In another bowl, whisk together buttermilk, eggs, and honey.  Add melted butter and whisk until blended well.  Add buttermilk mixture to dry ingredients.  Stir just until combined.

Pour batter into prepared pan.  Bake until tester inserted into center of bread comes out clean, about 15 minutes.  Cool completely in pan on rack.

source:  recipe from Bon Appétit: Fast, Easy, Fresh

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

What I've Been Reading

I've had a lot of time on my hands since we've moved, so I've been doing a lot of reading!  Here's what I've read recently:

Things I Wish I'd Known Before We Got Married by Gary Chapman.  A different approach to a book about marriage, but I thought it was really good.  I would definitely recommend this to anyone who hasn't gotten married yet.  It covered a lot of the things Caleb and I learned during our first year of marriage.

Think by John Piper.  I'm still at the very beginning of this one, but I like it.  It's about going beyond the emotions and experience of God to thinking carefully about God.

Mansfield Park by Jane Austen.  I have to admit this was not my favorite Austen work.  It was a slow read and a bit tough to get through, but I did like the overall storyline.  After reading it, I watched the movie and enjoyed that a whole lot more.

Will Write For Food by Dianne Jacob.  I loved this one.  She covers all aspects of writing about food and it was really informative but also interesting. 

Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger.  This was probably the weirdest book I've read in a while.  If you can get past the ghost aspect of the story, it is an enjoyable read.  If you liked The Time Traveler's Wife you'll probably like this one too.

Love and Respect by Emerson Eggerichs.  Another marriage book.  This one focuses on how to first understand each other's needs, and then how to practically meet them.

What should I read next??  I need some good book recommendations!  (For other books that I've recently read, see here.)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

My First Race

This past weekend I participated in my first race!  Caleb, my mom, my sister, my in-laws, and my sister-in-law all were running the 10-mile race, and somehow Caleb convinced me to sign up for the 4-miler.  I have always hated running so I just never do it.  I signed up because I hoped it would motivate me to start exercising - and it did!  I ran a few sporadic times over the summer, but since moving I've been running regularly.  So basically I trained for this race in two weeks and was not really prepared but that's okay!

The day of the race was perfect weather - it was pretty cool and very overcast.  I felt really good until I got to the first big hill, so I just decided I would walk all of the hills.  I think I ended up running half, maybe a little more than half of it. At one point a little kid with a cast on his arm passed me.  And then the arthritic old grandpa who was hunched over passed me.  But I didn't really care because I was out there doing something I never thought I would do!  

When I was close to finishing I saw Caleb on his way back!  I knew I wasn't going to be able to make it back to his finish line to watch him finish, so I was really excited that we at least got to see each other running and cheer for each other.  Close to the finish line my dad, my sister and her husband, and all my nieces and nephew were waiting to watch me finish!  That was seriously the most motivating part of the whole race!  I ended up finishing in 48:27, but since I walked about half of it I was pretty happy with that.

Caleb ran the ten-miler in 1:15 which I think is great!  He beat his goal which he was really happy with. Everyone in our group finished and did a great job!  It's really motivating for me to watch my mom and my mother-in-law run ten miles.  I don't know very many women in their 50s who run, let alone ten miles!

I don't think I can say running the race was fun, but I am very glad that I did it.  It's a good feeling to do something you never thought you would, and I'm glad that it pushed me to start running!

How was your weekend?

Monday, September 26, 2011

Easy Parmesan Garlic Knots

These knots are one of the simplest, most delicious things ever.  It doesn't get much easier than opening a tube of Pillsbury crescent rolls!  But the brushed on mixture of butter and garlic and parmesan really seals the deal for me.  I just discovered these buttery knots of goodness and Caleb and I ate them like it was our job.

Happy Monday!

Easy Parmesan Garlic Knots
1 tube Pillsbury refrigerated crescent rolls
3 Tbsp butter, melted
2 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried parsley flakes

Roll each crescent into a rope about 6-8 inches long; tie into a knot and tuck the ends under.  Place on greased baking sheet.  Bake at 400 degrees for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown.

Combine the melted butter with the parmesan cheese, garlic powder, oregano, and parsley flakes.  Stir together to mix well.  Using a pastry brush, brush onto knots when they come out of the oven.

source: recipe altered from Real Mom Kitchen

Friday, September 23, 2011

The S'mores Cupcake

When I was in high school I attended an info session for Johnson & Wales and heard that a graduate went on to be an official taste-tester at Ben & Jerry's.  Clearly the coolest job ever!  So I've kind of decided to be an unofficial taste-tester of the cupcakes in one of the cupcake shops downtown.  Cupcakes are super cute and the flavors usually sound delicious, but sometimes the actual taste is overrated.

First up:  the s'mores cupcake.  The cupcake was chocolate chip cake, which was nothing special.  It was a little dry and there were hardly any chocolate chips.  However, the marshmallow graham cracker icing was delicious!  The bites with both the chocolate ganache and the icing were definitely my favorite.  I was also pleasantly surprised that the piece of graham cracker on the top wasn't stale and soft.

I doubt I would get this cupcake again, but I would love to get my hands on the recipe for that marshmallow graham cracker icing!

What's your favorite kind of cupcake?  Happy Friday!

P.S. I did not end up attending Johnson & Wales.  And I also don't have a super-cool job that involves free ice cream.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Chicken with Cranberry-Mustard Sauce

I made this recipe last week for the first time, and it's now included in the rotation of our favorite recipes.   One of our favorite ways to eat pork is cranberry-dijon pork roast, so it was no surprise that we liked the cranberry/mustard flavor combination with chicken as well.  I love how the sauce thickens and becomes more of a glaze for the chicken. This would be delicious served over rice.  I did attempt this, but I've been known to ruin a simple pot of rice.  Real life, folks.

Chicken with Cranberry-Mustard Sauce
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 tsp onion powder
salt and pepper, to taste
4 Tbsp butter, divided
2 Tbsp flour
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
3/4 cup frozen cranberry juice cocktail concentrated, thawed
1/4 cup dried cranberries

Sprinkle chicken on both sides with onion powder, salt, and pepper.  Melt 2 Tbsp butter in large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add chicken and sauté until brown, about 5 minutes per side.  Using tongs, transfer chicken to plate.  

Add remaining 2 Tbsp butter to same skillet.  When the butter melts, whisk in flour and mustard; cook 1 minute. Gradually whisk in broth, cranberry juice concentrate, and cranberries.  Bring to a boil, whisking occasionally.  Boil until sauce thickens enough to coat the spoon, about 6 minutes.  

Return chicken to skillet.  Reduce heat to medium and simmer just until chicken is cooked through.  Season sauce to taste with salt and pepper.  Remove chicken from skillet and spoon sauce over chicken to serve.

source:  recipe from Bon Appétit: Fast, Easy, Fresh

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

DIY Glitter Crafts

Remember when I was loving all things confetti?  Doing my confetti manicure and wrapping my presents in confetti? OK so I've moved on from that and now I'm kind of on a glitter kick.  Glitter just makes everything so messy sparkly! These are some of my favorite DIY glitter crafts right now.  You can find the full tutorials by clicking on each link. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Pumpkin Apple Bread

Sometimes when I'm doing my fall baking, I like to pretend I'm Amish.  I'm not sure why because I really like all of the amenities of life in the 21st century.  I think it must have something to do with how cozy Amish life sometimes appears:  with the candlelight and buggies and the big families getting together to eat all of that delicious food.  And fall is just a cozy season, don't you think?  This pumpkin apple bread was the first fall baking that I've done and I loved that it made our house smell like fall!  I've never made anything with apples and pumpkin together, but I think the blended flavors epitomize everything I love about fall baking.  Enjoy!

Pumpkin Apple Bread
for the topping
1 Tbsp flour
5 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened

for the bread
3 cups flour
3/4 tsp salt
2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 (15 oz) can solid-pack pumpkin
3/4 cup vegetable oil
2 1/4 cups sugar
4 eggs, lightly beaten
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, and chopped (about 2 cups)

Make the topping:  Blend together flour, sugar, cinnamon, and butter in a small bowl with your fingertips until mixture resembles coarse meal.

Make the bread:  Sift together flour, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon into a medium bowl*.  Whisk together pumpkin, oil, sugar, and eggs in a large bowl.  Add the dry ingredients, stirring until well combined.  Fold in apples.

Divide batter between two buttered 9x5" loaf pans.  Sprinkle half of the topping evenly over each loaf.  Bake at 350 degrees until a toothpick inserted in center of bread comes out clean, 50 to 60 minutes.

Cool loaves in pans on a rack for 45 minutes, then turn out onto rack and cool completely, about 1 hour.  This bread keeps, wrapped in plastic wrap and foil and refrigerated, for up to 1 week.  It can also be frozen for up to 1 month.

*Note:  I eliminated the remaining spices in the bread due to personal preference.  If you like a spicier pumpkin bread, add 1 tsp nutmeg, 1/4 tsp ground cloves, and 1/4 tsp ground allspice to the dry ingredients.

source:  recipe from The Gourmet Cookbook

Monday, September 19, 2011

A Fall Weekend

I know fall has not technically started, but this past weekend sure felt like fall!  We had cool weather for the first time and it felt good to have jeans on again.

Friday night we stayed in: we had chili for dinner and watched The Conspirator.  Have you seen it?  It's the story of the conspiracy behind President Lincoln's assassination, one that I never remember learning in history class.  We both really liked it--and that's rare for us!

Saturday we had tickets to box seats at the Clemson-Auburn game!  We love college football so we were so excited!  Our only dilemma was who to cheer for.  We now live in an area saturated with Clemson fans, but we are VT alums so we can't just become Clemson fans because they're both in the ACC!  In the end, I wore a plain orange shirt to proclaim my neutrality, and Caleb stuck with his VT shirt.  I was happy that Clemson won. . . as long as we beat them in two weeks!

Sunday we continued our search for a church and then were able to get a few things done around the house.  I'm always sad when Sunday nights come around because I know Caleb has to go back to work the next day.  

On the schedule for this week:  just a regular week + some fall baking and looking for a job

How was your weekend?

Friday, September 16, 2011

Cooking in the Fall

Yesterday I busted open my first canned pumpkin of the season!  Having our house smell like pumpkin definitely got me in the mood for baking and cooking this fall.  Here is some of my fall cooking inspiration from pinterest.

Caramel Apple Cider
pinterest via our best bites

French Onion Soup
pinterest via annies eats

Caramel Apple Cheesecake Pie
pinterest via annies eats

pinterest via couldn't be parve

Pumpkin Spice Latte Cupcakes
pinterest via annies eats

Whoopie Pumpkin Pies
pinterest via food network

Caramel Apple Cheesecake Bars
pinterest via polish the stars

Turkey Cake Pops
pinterest via bakerella

What are you looking forward to baking/cooking this fall?

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Chocolate Fudge Pie

Do you know what's hard?  All the important stuff.  Like marriage.  And family.  And learning to be selfless.  And figuring out what's right.  And then choosing to do the right thing.  It's exhausting!  So I eat pie.  Really, it's great. This chocolate pie is the dense kind, not the creamy kind.  And the dense kind is the kind you want when you're overwhelmed with the hard stuff in life.  Definitely the dense kind.

Chocolate Fudge Pie
1 piecrust, fitted to a 9-inch pie plate
6 ounces semisweet chocolate
1/2 cup unsalted butter
3 eggs
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 cup + 3 Tbsp sugar
1 1/2 cups heavy cream

Place the pie plate on a baking sheet.  Prick crust with fork and line with foil.  Place pie weights or dried beans on foil.  Bake at 375 degrees until the edges are firm, 20 to 25 minutes.  Remove the foil and weights and bake until just golden, another 8-10 minutes.

Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees.  Using the double boiler method, melt the chocolate and the butter.

Using an electric mixer, beat the eggs, salt, and 1/2 cup of sugar until fluffy, 4-5 minutes.  Fold a third of the egg mixture into the chocolate mixture, then fold in the remainder.

Pour the chocolate mixture into the crust and bake at 325 degrees until puffed and just beginning to crack, 20-25 minutes.  Cool for one hour, then chill.

Beat the cream with the remaning 3 Tbsp of sugar until soft peaks form.  Spread over the pie.

source:  recipe from Real Simple, November 2009

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Missoni for Target

So, what did you all think after seeing the full Missoni for Target line yesterday?

missoni for target

When I went to Target yesterday mid-morning, a lot of the clothing racks were empty, or at least very picked over.  The store wasn't packed by any means, but people were definitely congregating around the Missoni endcaps and sections. I saw one woman who was camped out in the men's boxer/socks area.  Her cart was overflowing with Missoni things, even all on the floor around her!  Later I saw her checking out, and when I left her total was up to $1,479.  And she still had things left on the belt!   

I had had my eyes on these flats, but when I tried them on I thought they were really uncomfortable.  I expect heels to be uncomfortable, but my whole purpose in wearing flats is to wear cute shoes that are comfortable!  So I decided to pass.  I love how cute they are though!

missoni for target

I also really liked this clutch.  As you can tell, I'm more interested in the smaller, more subtle pieces of the line.  

missoni for target

Every time I tried to get on Target's site yesterday it was down.  I also overhead while I was at Target that some stores had sold out completely - by 10 AM!  Today I was able to get on and look around, and many of the items have already sold out.  This line has been such a success!

In the end all I got was two little plates, $2.99 each.  I didn't love the line (maybe I'm the only one?) so I didn't feel like I needed to buy it!

Did you buy anything from the Missoni for Target line?  Did you have difficulty getting the piece(s) you wanted?  Would you be willing to spend $1,479 on just Missoni for Target stuff??

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Etsy Finds

This past weekend we went down to the Indie Craft Parade and were able to see the work of so many great etsy vendors!  There were over 70 booths, but a few things caught my eye.

My absolute favorite of the day was a collaboration of really cute stationery and notecards from etsy shops Miss Wyolene and A Darling Day.


This print has the map of Manhattan seen
through the parts of the bike.  She has a bunch of 
others cities in her shop, too.

Cute illustrated t-shirt from hollandsworth

What did you do this past weekend?