Wednesday, December 12, 2012

It's Looking Like Christmas

Christmas is in full swing at our house!  We've had so much fun being able to decorate our house for its first Christmas.  Christmas shopping has been happening pretty much 24/7 (don't know what I'd do without online shopping!) and I only have a few people left... pretty considering we're buying for 18 family members!  Buying presents for others and wrapping them is my favorite thing during Christmas so I am loving every minute of it:)  I'm hoping to get some Christmas cookies in the oven this weekend and finish up my wrapping.  Is your home all decorated for Christmas? How much shopping do have still have left?

{tree all decorated}

{house all aglow}

{some presents wrapped}

{festive nails}

{stockings hung}

{presents starting to go under the tree}

{wreath at the office}

Monday, December 10, 2012

Pecan Pie

I apologize for my blogging absence last week - we were busy getting all Christmasy up in here with parties, shopping, decorating, and more shopping.  I can't believe Christmas is in just a little over two weeks!!  In case you're beginning to plan your holiday menu or are baking for friends/neighbors/parties, here is a recipe for a holiday classic:  pecan pie. Earlier this fall I made german chocolate pecan pie bars and chocolate pecan pie granola, but it is time for the real deal folks.  

Pecan Pie
basic pie dough, rolled out and fitted into a 9-inch pie plate
4 eggs
1 cup light corn syrup
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
4 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
3 cups pecan halves

Heat oven to 375 degrees with rack set in lowest position.  Using kitchen shears or a paring knife, trim dough to a 1-inch overhang.  With floured fingers, fold overhang under itself to form a rim; pinch between thumb and forefinger to form a uniform edge around rim of pie plate.  Crimp with fingertips. Transfer dough-lined pie plate to refrigerator.

Make filling: in a large bowl, whisk eggs, corn syrup, sugars, butter, vanilla, and salt until smooth; mix in pecans. Pour mixture into chilled pie crust; place pie plate on a rimmed baking sheet.  Bake until filling jiggles slightly in the center when gently shaken, 50-60 minutes.

Cool pie completely in plate, 5-6 hours.  Serve with whipped cream, if desired.

source: recipe from Martha Stewart

P.S. Chocolate Pecan Pie that sounds amazing!  Caleb wanted traditional pecan pie, but I have my eye on this recipe for next time:)

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Christmas Giveaway!

UPDATE: picked a winner aaaand..... it's #12!  Lauren you are the winner :)  Thanks for playing everyone!  

This little Christmas giveaway is to help you get a start on your gift wrapping this holiday season.  I like to knock out a bunch of gift wrapping all in one day, so stocking up on the supplies beforehand is key to getting it all done!  One winner will win these gift wrapping supplies:

-one (1) spool of white rafia
-thirty (30) gift tags
-three (3) rolls of washi tape
-three (3) holiday gift bags
-one (1) roll of gift wrap tape
-one (1) package of tissue paper in four colors

Here's how to win:

1) Leave a comment on this post letting me know how much of your holiday shopping you've gotten done.
2) If you're a follower (instagrampinteresttwitter, GFC), you can leave a second comment letting me know so.
3) Giveaway will run through Saturday (12/8).  Winner will be announced next Sunday (12/9).  
4) Giveaway is sponsored by yours truly & is open to U.S. mailing addresses only.

Friday, November 30, 2012

It's Christmastime!

I'm so excited that tomorrow is December!  For some reason in my mind, December 1st officially marks the start of the Christmas season.  I loved that Thanksgiving was early this year, because I used this past week to take down our fall decor and start making our home feel like Christmas!  The tree is decorated, the stockings are hung, the wreath is on the front door, and half of my Christmas shopping is already done!  I am ready to fully embrace Christmastime!  Last year we did 25 Days of Christmas (a Christmas-y something each day leading up to Christmas), and while I'm not as prepared this year with something for each day, I want us to soak up as much Christmas spirit as we can.  Our plans so far: finish decorating our house, the parade downtown, Christmas parties, a concert, more shopping, an ornament exchange, and lots of baking!  This year I'd also love to find some fresh mistletoe for our house.  And maybe even get crafty and make a Christmas present or two.  What do you have planned for this holiday season?

(image from here)

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Black Bottom Pumpkin Pie

Right before Thanksgiving I went to my very first pie exchange.  Brilliant, right?  Everyone brings a pie, you all eat a little taste of each one (there were 7 total), and then you all take home a piece of each pie.  It was the perfect way to start off a food-filled weekend, and I got to taste some delicious pies.  I made this black bottom pumpkin pie - a gingersnap/cinnamon graham cracker crust, then a layer of chocolate, then a pumpkin cream filling, all topped with maple-infused whipped cream.  I love vamping up traditional recipes, and this turned out great!

Black Bottom Pumpkin Pie
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 cup cinnamon graham cracker crumbs
1 cup crushed gingersnaps
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
2 cups whipping cream, divided
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup flour
2 eggs
4 egg yolks
2 cups milk
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup maple syrup
garnish: semisweet chocolate shavings

Stir together chopped pecans, graham cracker crumbs, crushed gingersnaps, and melted butter until blended.  Press crumb mixture on bottom, up sides, and onto lip of a slightly greased 10-inch pie plate.  Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned.  Transfer to a wire rack, and cool completely (about 30 minutes).

Microwave the chocolate chips and 1/2 cup whipping cream in a small microwave-safe bowl at high 1 minute or until melted, stirring at 30-second intervals.  Spoon chocolate mixture over bottom of cooled pie crust.  Cover and chill 1 hour or until chocolate mixture is set.

Meanwhile, whisk together sugar and flour in a heavy 3-qt. saucepan; add eggs, egg yolks, and milk, and whisk until blended.  Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly, 8-10 minutes or until a pudding-like thickness.  (Mixture will just begin to bubble and will hold soft peaks when a whisk is lifted.)  Remove from heat, and whisk in pumpkin and vanilla extract.  Transfer to a bowl.  Place plastic wrap directly on warm filling (to prevent a film from forming); chill 30 minutes.  Spoon pumpkin mixture over chocolate; cover and chill 8-24 hours or until filling is firm.

Beat remaining 1 1/2 cups whipping cream at high speed with an electric mixer until foamy; gradually add syrup, beating until soft peaks form.  Spread or pipe over pie.  Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

source: recipe slightly adapted from Southern Living, November 2012

Tuesday, November 27, 2012


We had a great Thanksgiving.  We joined in the masses traveling and headed up to Virginia on Wednesday night.  We were able to spend Thanksgiving with my family and the day after with Caleb's, and then parts of the day with both on Saturday.  We went shopping, ate too much, and just enjoyed being together and relaxing.  I didn't take many pictures--I was too busy just enjoying the moment--but here's a few from our time there.  I'm still wrapping my mind around the fact that Thanksgiving is over and Christmas will be here before we know it!  We are hoping to start decorating for Christmas tonight :)  How was your Thanksgiving?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Words I Like: On Cooking

As I was busy in the kitchen making pies last night, this passage that I love came to my mind.  More cooking is probably happening this week than any other week of the year, so I thought it would be fitting to share:

"But while cooking demands your entire attention, it also rewards you with endlessly sensual pleasures. The sound of water skittering across leaves of lettuce.  The thump of the knife against watermelon, and the cool summer scent the fruit releases as it falls open to reveal its deep red heart.  The seductive softness of chocolate beginning to melt from solid to liquid.  The tug of the sauce against the spoon when it thickens in the pan, and the lovely lightness of Parmesan drifting from the grater in gossamer flakes.  Time slows down in the kitchen, offering up an entire universe of small satisfactions." - Ruth Reichl, in Garlic and Sapphires

(image from here)

Monday, November 19, 2012

Around Here, Lately

{a little shopping here & there}

{gourds + afternoon sunlight}

{Paula Deen}

{a full garage}

{white peppermint mochas}

{our decorated mantel (finally!)}

{Clemson v. NC State}

{changing leaves in our front yard}

{so thankful to have each other}

Friday, November 16, 2012

Chipotle Pork Tenderloin with Apple Chutney

Ohh this pork.  A friend made this for us when they had us over for dinner a couple months back, and it was so delicious I stole the recipe.  I had never made a dry rub for pork before, but it is so easy and so flavorful!  I made this when my parents visited several weekends ago, and dinner ended up being a group effort:  the guys grilled the meat while we women put together the chutney and the side dishes.  This has definitely risen to the top of our favorite dinners list!  

Chipotle Pork Tenderloin with Apple Chutney
Apple Chutney
1 Tbsp butter
3 apples, peeled, cored, and sliced into chunks
1/4 cup dried cranberries
3 Tbsp brown sugar
3 Tbsp cider vinegar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp dried mustard

Melt butter over medium-high heat in a nonstick skillet.  Add the apples and sauté for about 5 minutes, or until the apples are lightly browned.  Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and cook until the liquid is gone and the apples are tender.

Grilled Chile Pork Tenderloin
2 pork tenderloins (I got them in a package of 2 at the store)
1 1/2 tsp ground chipotle chile pepper
1 tsp salt
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
cooking spray

Turn the grill to medium-high heat.  Rinse the pork loins and pat dry with paper towels.  Set aside.

In a small bowl, mix together all of the spices.  Spray the pork with the cooking spray and rub the spice mixture all over the pork loins.

Grill, flipping once, until a meat thermometer reads 160 degrees in the center (or whatever you're comfortable with). Remove pork from the grill and rest for 10 minutes, covered with foil to keep warm.

Cut the pork into rounds and serve covered with chutney.

source: recipe slightly adapted from Come Sit In My Kitchen

Thursday, November 15, 2012

orange & pink in a box

Don't you just love getting fun mail?  Anything other than a bill or credit card offer is exciting, so I really enjoy sending people notes and packages.  I like my packages to have some sort of general theme, so it isn't just a box of random stuff showing up on someone's doorstep.  you are my fave has a fun series called "in the box" with lots of awesome themed boxes (see all the posts in her series here).  I used Melanie's ideas as inspiration for this "orange & pink in a box" that I sent my friend Aimee last week.  The cosmetic bag was my starting piece (it's more orange and pink than it looks in this pic), and then I just gathered other pink and orange things that I thought would brighten up Aimee's day :)

P.S. Last year's Birthday in a Box!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

J.Crew Factory Sale!

I sat down last night to edit my post for today but got distracted by this J.Crew Factory sale - and it's too good not to share!  Have you shopped at J.Crew Factory store online?!  It's relatively new (the last few months), and it's J.Crew factory store prices from the comfort of your couch!  Through next Tuesday (11/20), take 30% off your entire purchase at J.Crew Factory online AND free shipping - no minimum! with this code: SCOREMORE

Happy Shopping :)

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Weekend

This past weekend we were able to go down to visit my sister Lauren and her family.  As soon as we walked in the door Friday night, the girls couldn't wait to tell us that we were going to the fair with them the next day:)  It was a gorgeous day (actually it was a little bit hot!), and the girls were SO excited to get to the fair and ride the rides.  We had so much fun getting to experience the fair with them!  I got to get in lots of snuggles with Mason and good talks with Lauren, too, while Bradley and Caleb worked in the garage :)  We love every chance we get to be with any of our family, so it was a wonderful way to spend our weekend!  Happy Monday!