fall is here, and with it has been some gorgeous carolina sunsets. this is one of my favorite skyline scenes in charlotte, and we just happen to drive by it every day on the way to work. there have been several evenings where i'll park the car and walk over the bridge just to get a better shot of this gorgeous city.
andrew’s gotta be commended on his dedication to healthy eating. in the past couple of weeks, he’s lost about 12 pounds just from being conscious about what he eats and working out [mostly] every day. he worked late one night this week, so i got dinner ready while he was at the office. after eating this salad for 2 nights in a row, we’ve declared it our FAVORITE salad! get the recipe here for the skinny grilled buffalo chicken salad [and don’t forget the homemade skinny ranch – it TOTALLY makes the meal].
ummm… i don’t really have words for this, other than: she sleeps like this ALL the time, and i wish i could sleep this comfortably on the couch.
i decided to give a new local coffee shop a try this weekend and it did NOT disappoint. i grabbed a chai latte from “not just coffee” in atherton mill and was so pleased! not only is their logo cute, but the chai hit the spot! p.s. would you believe that i've never had one of those pretty latte art drinks? i'm adding that one to the fall bucket list!
lastly, my mom is heading to town tomorrow for a girls weekend! we’re spending the day antiquing, brunching, doing girly things, then wrapping up the day with the michael buble' concert in uptown! i'm sure there will be a good amount of screaming 20-60 year old women in the crowd, and i'm SO excited to be one of them!
hope everyone has a great weekend! stay bundled up, it’s supposed to get COLD [and i secretly love it]!
1 | earlier this week, alex was raving about pottery barn’s mercury glass pumpkins. what’s a girl to do when you don’t want to pay the pottery barn price tag? find them cheaper at kirklands, duh. and you can light these up if you’re feeling extra spooky.
2 | although the weather isn’t quite cooperating with my state of mind, i put together a little fall crockpot meal this week. one of my go-to favorites is red beans and rice. i've been using this recipe for years, and it never fails. the only bad part? my hands smelled like chopped onions all day.
3 | we’re headed to virginia for the weekend to celebrate our good friends’, marc and lori beth’s, engagement. the party will be at marc’s parents’ picture perfect home on smith mountain lake, one that andrew and i have been lucky to be guests at too many times to count. so excited to celebrate the beginning of married life for these two love birds!
4 | last weekend, mom took me on a little pre-birthday shopping trip and just couldn’t leave francesca’s without this gorgeous dress. i'm wearing it to the party on saturday and can’t wait to sport it when the weather gets cooler with some tall boots!
5 | lastly, being in danville for the weekend wouldn’t complete without some niece snuggles. these little girls are growing so fast into young ladies, and our time with them is so so precious! looking forward to some delicious home cooking and a beautiful virginia weekend!
tonight, friends, i won the lottery…but only if “winning the lottery” means already having everything in your pantry to make cookies. it never fails: after dinner, i want something sweet, just to finish off my meal. because of this little craving, there’s been an unsuccessful stream of mug cakes and eggless cookie doughs. enter: the small batch. tonight, i [successfully] whipped up a small batch of 8 chocolate chip cookies from scratch. the real big deal is that i only ate 2…for now. follow these super simple steps for a sweet midnight [or 8:00] snack.
CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES: SMALL BATCH
[makes 8 cookies]
- preheat oven to 375*
- in a small bowl combine 3 tablespoons of each: softened butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar
- add 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract to your sugar paste/mix
- mix up 1 egg in a small bowl. add 1 tablespoon of the egg to your sugar mix. save the rest for tomorrow night’s batch!
- in another small bowl [or your measuring cup, if you’re lazy like me], combine 1/2 cup all purpose flour, 1/8 teaspoon baking soda, 1/8 teaspoon salt. add this to your sugar mix.
- lastly, throw in 1/2 cup of chocolate chips.
- roll or plop your dough into 8 individual cookies, and try your best not to eat the dough!
- bake for 10-12 minutes.
the 2nd best part: i only dirtied up 1 bowl, 1 cup, and 2 measuring spoons! [the pan doesn’t count if you use aluminum foil] the only tragedy in this story is that we were fresh out of milk!
i still haven’t gotten this whole “eating healthy” thing down to an art. i thought that was something that automatically happened when you became an "adult" - you stop craving mcd's and taco bell and start wanting a glass of water and quinoa for dinner. apparently not.
well get excited! i'm sharing a very unique and one-of-a-kind healthy "recipe" with you today. who am i kidding? everyone probably has this dish (in some form or another) at least once a week. am i right? andrew and i are huge mexican fans (of the tbell variety and homemade). actually i could probably just integrate avacado into anything and everything i eat, and be just fine with it! avocado ice cream? sure! avacado chocolate milk? yeah man! give it here! ok, so maybe not everything.
i threw this salad together a few weeks ago and was so pleased with the look and taste. that deserves to be documented! here are the ingredients that went into my fine, fresh, salad: spinach, diced tomato, canned corn (drained), black beans (drained), avocado, a little red onion, a little leftover grilled chicken, just a touch of cilantro lime dressing from the new teeter.
and my notes: the avocado was mixed with lime juice, salt, garlic, and the red onion – guac makes everything better. which means the salad really didn’t need the dressing.
so, this recipe definitely isn’t pin-worthy. it isn’t one you’re going to scribble down because you HAVE to make it right-this-very-minute. BUT hopefully it inspires you to put a healthy twist on an old favorite, use a little more veggies and a little less filler, and start eating like you love yourself!
this weekend, we got to experience our first snow in charlotte (we missed the first “big” one this winter). it was a big wet snow that didn’t stick, but it definitely got me in the mood for a yummy soup and crusty bread. i’m no gourmet chef, so i stuck with something simple – a canned tomato soup, doctored up to taste like one of my favorites: tomato basil bisque.
laura’s fake tomato basil bisque
2 cans of tomato soup
1 can of diced tomatoes
1 large garlic clove (i like to grate mine, so it dissolves nicely)
2 tablespoons of fresh chopped basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
.5 teaspoon fresh black pepper
.5 cup milk
splash of heavy cream (just because it was in the fridge)
parmesan cheese (optional)
i added the first 7 ingredients and let it simmer for a while – to let the flavors meld. then towards the end, i added my cream!
*note: my measurements are not precise. honestly, i just eyeballed it and seasoned to taste.
enjoy with a heel of crusty bread or the mandatory grilled cheese that has to go with tomato soup.
vday is right around the corner, which means there’s been a lot of that pink-red-white combo in our presence. i love these cookies for a quick valentines treat because they’re pink and festive (and more importantly easy and delicious).
strawberry cake mix cookies
with cream cheese icing
1 box of strawberry cake mix
2 medium eggs
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
1 stick of butter, softened
preheat your oven to 350. mix all of your ingredients in a medium mixing bowl with your electric mixer until it’s doughy. if you feel that it’s not doughy enough, add a little water (a 1 tsp at a time). then, i used my measuring spoon to form uniform-sized little cookies, and found that, since the dough spreads when you cook, these are the perfect serving size. bake your cookies for 8-10 minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack before icing.
i loaded up some store bought cream cheese icing into an icing bag, clipped the end to make a little piping tool, and drizzled the icing in zig zags across the top (and added sprinkles, obv). this was better for me because i had to transport them quickly to another location. i've seen other icing methods with these babies as well – in the middle for whoopie pies or just loading it all on top – either one works!
andrew and i had an amazing, low-key weekend. it was just what i needed! friday was gross, icy and wet. we took that as an opportunity to crash, eat what was around the house for dinner, and watch movies. saturday was spent running a few errands, picking up a new coffee table at nadeau, and grabbing some groceries for dinner/breakfast. one thing to know about andrew and me, if you don’t already know it: we love food, and if something stuck in our heads or we get a craving, you can be it’s going to be on the menu SOON.
the star of the weekend was the apple, walnut, and brie pancakes that my husband made sunday morning. i can’t take an ounce of credit (except for whipping up some easy peasy box pancakes). lucky you, he agreed to share his secret recipe:
apple, walnut, & brie pancakes
2 whole granny smith apples, peeled and sliced thin
2/3 cups packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup syrup (mrs. butterworths is my favorite)
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 cup walnuts
few dashes of cinnamon
2 tablespoons of heavy cream (optional)
combine all of your ingredients (except for the cream and brie) in a saucepan on medium/high heat. keep cooking until the apples are soft and the syrup has begun to thicken back up. right before serving, add your heavy cream. serve on top of your pancakes, and don’t forget the brie – it TOTALLY makes this dish!
and if you have leftovers, cheese and granny smith apples make great crostinis! (cheddar and brie pictured)
2013 [so far] has been the year of an attempt at a healthier lifestyle and dinner menu. i've always been a bigger fan of carbs, starches, and sweets than veggies - it's no lie. so when i was perusing the pin' yesterday, i started thinking about new veggie options, amping up my culinary confidence, and no longer being a veggie virgin to some of these lovely...plants. enter: brussel sprouts. never have i ever tried brussel sprouts, and to be honest, they've never been placed on a plate in front of me. we just didn't have them in my house growing up. last night, i gave it a shot and was pleasantly surpised:
crispy brussel sprouts with bacon & garlic original
15-20 small brussel sprouts
3 bacon slices, chopped
2 garlic cloves, grated
thinly sliced ¼ cup olive oil
2 tablespoons rock salt, sea salt or "kosher" salt
salt and pepper
- peel off any bad leaves from the brussel sprouts
- bring a pot of water to the boil. add rock salt.
- blanch brussel sprouts for 4 minutes then drain and refresh in cold running water.
- cut sprouts in half lengthwise.
- in the meantime, heat olive oil on high. add bacon and cook 1 minute.
- add brussel sprouts and garlic and fry until they start to brown around the edges and the bacon crisps
- drain brussel sprouts to remove excess oil. serve hot.
i didn’t plan this one very well. tomorrow i have a special post in store for you, but my 200th post happens to be today. i just couldn't wait to share with y'all the amazing chicken pot pie i made last night. this is my go-to recipe and it never disappoints!
chicken pot pie (recipe via)
|1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast halves – cubed |
1 cup sliced carrots
1 cup frozen green peas
1/2 cup sliced celery
1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup chopped onion
|1/3 cup all-purpose flour |
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon celery seed
1 3/4 cups chicken broth
2/3 cup milk
2 (9 inch) unbaked pie crusts the soft, rollout kind
- preheat your oven to 425 degrees
- in a med sized pot, combine chicken, carrots, peas, and celery. add water to cover and boil for 15 minutes. remove from heat, drain and set aside.
- in the saucepan over medium heat, cook onions in butter until soft and translucent. stir in flour, salt, pepper, and celery seed. slowly stir in chicken broth and milk. simmer over medium-low heat until thick. remove from heat and set aside.
- place the chicken mixture in bottom pie crust. pour hot onion/flour mixture over. cover with pretty top crust, seal edges, and cut away excess dough. if you choose to not cover with a “basket weave” crust, you’ll need to make several small slits in the top to allow steam to escape.
- bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or until pastry is golden brown and filling is bubbly. cool for 10 minutes before serving.
orrr just make more of it - we all know that's the best part!
*disclaimer: i have not yet attempted any of these recipes, nor can i vouch for their deliciousness. this is simply me, staring at food, thinking it looks good!
so this weekend, i played suzy homemaker and whipped up a little breakfast on saturday morning. i've been craving an easy casserole-type breakfast lately and decided a quiche would be easy, yet impressive enough for my sweet house-guest not only was this recipe a snap, but it was delicious – with only a few ingredients. the hardest part was waiting for it to bake, so we could devour it!
spinach and bacon quiche via southern living
ingredients: 1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups half-and-half
1 (1.8-ounce) package leek soup mix
1/4 teaspoon pepper
10 bacon slices, cooked and crumbled
1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded mozzarella cheese
1 unbaked (9-inch) frozen deep-dish pastry shell
prep: preheat the oven to 375°.
drain your spinach, make sure you get all that excess water out!
wisk together your eggs, half/half, and leek soup mix. next, stir in spinach, bacon, and both cheeses.
pour the goodness into your pie shell and bake for 45 minutes.
devour and enjoy!
after a fantastic weekend, mondays just creep by. am i right? we spent a boatload of time with both andrew’s and my family this weekend, and it was p.e.r.f.e.c.t. – 2 nights included a deckside fire in the chiminea and every day, awesome food – both of which i love and adore. we have definitely decided that a nice sized patio or deck will be included or added on to our new dream house. mom whipped up and quick and delicious pie saturday night that i'm sharing with you today. we’ve been having this pie for as long as i've been alive, and would never believe how simple it is:
i give you: easy lemonade pie
1 graham cracker pie crust
1 can lemonade concentrate
1 large sized container cool whip (thawed) or free if you’re trying to be healthy
1 can eagle brand condensed milk (again, you can use lowfat or fat free)
combine the condensed milk with the lemonade concentrate with a spoon or ladle is fine. then, fold in the cool whip. you do not want to mix it in – my guess is that your pie would be runny if you mix it too much. pour your ingredients into your pie crust and pop it in the freezer for 3 or 4 hours. DONE! deelish! eat it up! you’ll want to store your pie in the freezer if you don’t eat it all in the first sitting!
p.s. we had a lot of filling left over so you may can stretch it into 2 crusts? orrrr just enjoy the leftover filling until the real thing is ready!
made it? tell me about it!
well, we’re over the hump! it’s thursday – i used to say thursday was my favorite day of the week because that means tomorrow’s friday! hah! i've cooked “real” dinners twice this week – out of four nights, that’s not too bad of a record – and they’ve both been brand new recipes that i was really pleased with. for your enjoyment:
in the original recipe, i think she put a lot more sauce and cheese on top, but since i splurged on a little sour cream, i decided to lay low on the cheese. also, be sure to spray your pan with more non-stick then you’d normally use; mine did stick a little. we’re having leftovers tonight, and i'm already looking forward to it!
sorry, my picture wasn’t as pretty for this one. most recipes say to grill the chicken, but we don’t have a grill, so i baked mine. it was still moist and tasted really awesome! i served mine over brown rice, but i bet it’d be better over white or basmati! ALSO, some reviewers said they used 3 tablespoons of garam masala in the sauce, but since i couldn’t find it in the gstore, i left that out. AND my sauce is doubled, because i like a lot of it! the recipe is linked above, but here are my adjustments:
1 cup yogurt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger (be sure to mince it really well!)
1 teaspoons salt, or to taste
3 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
1 tablespoon butter
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 jalapeno pepper, finely chopped
3 teaspoons ground cumin
3 teaspoons paprika
1 (16 ounce) can tomato sauce
1 3/4 cup fat free half and half
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
in a large bowl, combine yogurt, lemon juice, 2 teaspoons cumin, cinnamon, cayenne, black pepper, ginger, and 1 teaspoon salt. stir in chicken, cover, and refrigerate for 1 hour.
preheat the oven for 350. once the oven has heated, spread the chicken onto a lined baking sheet, and bake for 30 minutes.
melt butter in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. saute garlic and jalapeno for 1 minute. Season with 3 teaspoons cumin and paprika. stir in tomato sauce and cream. simmer on low heat until sauce thickens, about 20 minutes. add grilled chicken, and simmer for 10 minutes. serve over rice and enjoy!!
both of these recipes were very very good, not bad on the budget or the waistline! they take a little bit more time and effort than my go-to breakfast for dinner, but will both be added to the future dinner routine!
tried it? tell me about it!
y’all may remember my raves about these avocado grilled cheese sandwiches a while back. we've eaten them twice in the past week – with a few edits to the original:
the new (and improved) avocado grilled cheese is now combined with your traditional BLT sandwich. layer the following ingredients and toast on your panini press for a delish din:
your favorite bread (we had a french loaf on hand)
SO quick and hardly any cleanup – which wins in my book! i served our sammies with a mixed green salad and some trader joe’s greek goddess dressing!
day 6: plenty to be THANKful for: i’m THANKful for my favorite thanksgiving recipe!
as long as i can remember, i’ve loved asparagus! as a child, it was my favorite vegetable hands-down – you don’t find that very often! here’s the catch – it HAD to be canned. haha! fresh just wasn’t as good. as an adult, i now appreciate (and love!) fresh veggies, don’t worry! which brings me to my all-time favorite thanksgiving recipe:
mom’s pea and asparagus casserole
1 can of english green peas
1 can of asparagus
1 can of cream of mushroom soup
1 cup of cheddar cheese
so simple! mix all ingredients together (saving 1/4 cup of the cheese for the top) and pour into a small casserole dish. bake covered at 350 until bubbly. remove from the oven, uncover, and bake a little while longer (7-10) minutes to brown it a little.
i’ve seen alternative recipes that add fried onions or breadcrumbs to the top for the last step, but i’ve always had it this way, and i’ll never stray! mom called the other day to get any requests for thanksgiving lunch, and this was the ONLY item on my list – she really even didn’t have to call to know that. i ask for it every year…. christmas too! YUM!
oh. my. gosh. y’all RUN home right now and make this sandwich:
i know you’ve seen it on pinterest. avacado grilled cheese. SO GOOD IN MY BELLY! i put mine on ciabatta bread and, like the original recipe, used pepperoni and avacado. i ended up using packaged mozzarella (because it’s cheaper) and it was still SO good! i made it once for dinner last night for and made extra for lunch today. added pesto the 2nd time around and it just adds a little something extra. now, on you go!
thankful post coming later this afternoon!