Wednesday, February 29, 2012

First Wedding of the Year!

We had our first wedding of the year a few weeks ago and it was a BLAST! I didn't take pictures, but I finally have "stolen" enough from facebook to post about it.

One of my sorority sisters, Sarah, got married in Greenville in one of the most beautiful and touching ceremonies I've seen. 

Here is the bride and me at Carolina Cup back in 2006!

Sarah and Brett wrote letters to each other, which the minister read aloud. They were so sweet. I don't think there was a dry eye in the church...even the minister was a mess!

Here is the compilation of stolen facebook pictures I've acquired of Sarah and Brett's big day.

 absolutely beautiful!

 the happy couple

I'm still not in love with my green dress. Maybe it's just cause I need to lose some lbs.
And in desperate need of a hair cut and color (which I got last week...whew. I love my hair dresser/sister-in-law, Ellen!).
and of course photo booths are always FUN!

the most amazing wedding singer ever. 

Seriously, the band, Crystal Clear was aaaaamazing. They played everything from James Brown, Van Morrison, Journey, name it! We had SO much fun! 

And THIS girl is NEXT in April! Can't wait!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Tasty Tuesday--Middle Eastern Vegetable Salad

This was my very first "Tasty Tuesday" post, but I somehow managed to delete it, so here it is again. 
The recipe came from one of my Ina Garten cook books. I have loved every recipe of her's that I've tried. The only thing I did differently was decrease the lemon juice from 1/2 cup (4 lemons) to 1/3-1/4 cup (3 lemons).
This salad is the perfect healthy lunch, and is surprisingly filling because of the chickpeas.

10 scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced
1 pound ripe tomatoes, seeded, cored, and 1/2-inch diced
1 cucumber, halved lengthwise, seeded, and 1/2-inch diced
1 can or jar (12 to 16 oz.) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/3 cup chopped fresh mint leaves
1/3 cup julienned fresh basil leaves
About 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (3 lemons)
3 cloves garlic, minced
Kosher salt and pepper
1/2 cup olive oil
8 oz. feta cheese, 1/2 inch diced

Place the scallions, tomatoes, cucumber, chickpeas, parsley, mint, and basil in a large salad bowl and toss to combine.
In a small bowl or measuring cup, whisk together the lemon juice, garlic, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Slowly whisk in the olive oil to make an emulsion. Pour the dressing over the salad, tossing gently to coat all the vegetables. Add the feta, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and toss gently. Serve the salad with toasted pita bread.

Friday, February 24, 2012

The Birthday Girl

Happy 2nd birthday to my baby girl, Birdie!

the birthday girl smiling for the camera

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Can I marry a sauce?

For Tasty Tuesday I said I was going to make Skinnytaste's Shrimp Creole.
I didn't. I forgot that I already had tilapia defrosted and I didn't feel like driving 5 miles down the road to get some local shrimp. Pathetic, I know.

So, I made Skinnytaste's Broiled Tilapia with Thai Coconut Curry Sauce, and I am SO glad I did. 
This sauce is amazing.
I loved it so much that I couldn't even wait a week to post it for the next Tasty Tuesday.
Andy and I couldn't stop talking about how good it was. This sauce COMPLETELY transforms boring tilapia, and it's healthy!

can you tell how much I loved the sauce? I had a river on my plate, but it made my broccoli taste better!

Broiled Tilapia with Thai Coconut Curry Sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil, divided
1 tablespoon minced peeled fresh ginger
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
1 cup chopped scallions
1 teaspoon curry powder
2 teaspoons red curry paste
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
4 teaspoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 teaspoons Asian fish sauce
1 (14oz) can light coconut milk
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
*6 tilapia filets
salt, to taste

Preheat broiler.
Heat 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add ginger and garlic--cook 1 minute. Add pepper and scallions--cook 1 minute. Stir in curry powder, curry paste, and cumin--cook 1 minute. Add soy sauce, sugar, Asian fish sauce, and coconut milk. Bring to a simmer (do not boil). Remove from heat and stir in cilantro. Salt to taste.

Brush fish with 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil, sprinkle with salt to taste. Place fish on a sprayed baking sheet. Broil for 5-7 minutes, or until the fish flakes with a fork.

*I only made 2 tilapia filets, but I still didn't reduce the ingredients in the sauce. It just meant that we could douse our fish with this liquid gold. And dip bread in it after dinner. And the left over broccoli. 

*Also, I thought I had some Asian fish sauce on hand, but I must have thrown it out. My sauce was delicious without it. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Tasty Tuesday--Lightened Shrimp Creole

Happy Fat Tuesday!

This is what I will be making for dinner tonight in honor of the holiday...
Recipe and picture from Skinnytaste
I will replace it with my picture tonight after dinner.
And let's face's not going to be as beautiful as this!

Shrimp Creole
from Skinnytaste

2 tsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 cup green bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 14oz. can diced tomatoes
1 8oz. can tomato sauce
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp Cajun seasoning
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon flour
2 tablespoons water
1 lb. large shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp hot sauce
1 medium scallion, sliced
2 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
salt to taste

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, bell pepper, garlic, and celery and saute until tender. Add tomatoes and tomato sauce, cayenne pepper, Cajun seasoning, and bay leaf and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to low--simmer 20 to 30 minutes.
Make a slurry of the flour and water and stir into the tomato mixture. Continue cooking another 5 minutes. Lightly season the shrimp with the Cajun seasoning and add immediately to the tomato mixture. Add Worcestershire and hot sauce, stir together. Cook for another 5-6 minutes--until shrimp is opaque and cooked through.

I'm serving mine over quinoa. Might have rice as a back-up plan, though!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Tasty Tuesday--Pimento Cheese Melts

I made these on our ski trip--big hit.
Made them again for Lucy's party--bigger hit 

The pimento cheese itself is the best I've made. And the easiest.
The recipe is from one of my "Best of the Best" Food & Wine Cookbooks. It's a recipe from The Neely's.

Makes about 3 cups of pimento cheese.

4 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled
8 ounces extra-sharp grated white cheddar cheese
8 ounces extra-sharp grated orange cheddar cheese
One 7 oz. jar pimentos, drained and finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3/4 cup mayo
1 baguette

Combine the cheeses, pimentos, black pepper, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, and mayo in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Stir at low speed until well blended (or mix by hand). Chill for at least 2 hours to allow the flavors to develop.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Cut the baguette into 1/2-inch thick slices. Toast them in the oven for 2-3 minutes on each side, until golden. Spread a generous amount of the pimento cheese onto each toast, and top with some bacon. Return to oven and bake until the cheese is melted, about 2 more minutes.

*Kraft makes a Three Cheddar Cheese mix so I just buy two bags of that instead of looking for white and orange cheddar.

Sunday, February 12, 2012


Cake Pops = Success

She had about 4 total. Every time she'd finish one, she'd say "red one?" "blue one?" "yeyyow one?"

Lucy also enjoyed...
frozen chocolate-covered bananas ("monkey tails")

banana cupcakes with chocolate ganache frosting that her Aunt Shelley made (these were my favorite)

playing in "Yucy's House" (Lucy's playhouse)
This cute Curious George dress was custom made for Lucy by my talented cousin's wife, Tricia Harley.
If you like it, check out Caroline's Closet's facebook page for more beautifully hand-made children's clothes.

Opening presents...

But the biggest surprise of all....

Lucy found out that her dad isn't just a daddy, basketball coach, and teacher...

He's also The Man in the Yellow Hat from Curious George!
ignore the blurriness

Pretty sure this little girl got everything she wanted on her birthday! 

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Cake Pops!

I did it.
I hopped on the cake pop train.

Everyone else is doing it, why shouldn't I?

Secretly, I've been dying to make these cuties for some time now. And, thanks to Lucy, I had the perfect opportunity.

She is having a Curious George-themed birthday party today and I offered to make cake pops as party favors. The recipe/method came from the original creator of these treats, Bakerella, so you can get the steps there.

Here is my first stab at cake pops:

Some tips that I discovered after some trial-and-errors. Yes, there was some foot-stomping and maybe even a few choice words thrown out. However, once I got the hang of it, I really enjoyed making these.

1.  I chilled my cake balls in the fridge for about 4 hours. However, this wasn't enough! I'm pretty sure you were supposed to put the sticks in before you put it them in to chill. I didn't do this.

2. What DID work for me was I put the sticks in then let them chill in the freezer for about 20 minutes before I started. 

3. I left the cake balls in the freezer as I worked. I would pull them out one at a time as I went along. 

4. Also, it's easier to dip/coat the cake balls in the candy coating if you use a smaller bowl.

5. I poked holes in a cardboard box to let them dry.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Sweet Lucy is 2!

My sweet niece, Lucy, turns 2 today!
Words cannot express how much I love this little girl.
She has been such a blessing for everyone in our family. I may be partial, but I do believe she is one of the most precious little girls ever.
If I love my niece this much, I'm a little scared about how much my own little ones will be spoiled!

Happy 2nd Birthday to the sweetest, most beautiful, funniest, smartest niece in the world!
I love you!

Here are some of my favorite Lucy pictures.
Welcome to the world, baby girl!
in love

pool-time with daddy
with her mom and dad on her first halloween as a 50's girl
1 year old! happy birthday!
those eyes!

on her way into Williams-Brice for her first Carolina game on her daddy's shoulders
stylin' in her pig-tails and baby Toms
love this...mid-laugh!
cheering on her daddy as he coaches his basketball team!
go greenwave!

I can't wait to continue to watch this angel grow and see what new adventures she takes. 
Hopefully she'll be a big cousin some day soon.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Tasty Tuesday--Southwestern Stuffed Peppers

Stuffed peppers were always a favorite of mine growing up, and my mom made the best.
This is a Mexican take on the yummy dish, and you know how much I love Mexican food. I saw the recipe in my Real Simple magazine, which is also my favorite. I get ridiculously happy when there's a new one in my mailbox! 
As usual, I only made a few small changes.

1 cup long grain white
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 scallions, thinly sliced, white and green parts separated 
1 pound ground beef
1 cup frozen corn
1 can Rotel
1 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
kosher salt and black pepper
4 large bell pepper, halved lengthwise, ribs and seeds removed
*optional: 1/2 cup plain low-fat Greek yogurt
Salsa, for serving

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook the rice according to package directions.
2. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the scallion whites and beef and cook, breaking the beef up with a spoon, until no longer pink, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in the corn, Rotel, cumin, cooked rice, 1 cup cheese, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper.
3. Arrange the bell peppers, cut-side up, in a 9 x 13 inch pan. Divide the beef mixture among the bell peppers, add 1/2 cup water to the dish. Tightly cover the dish with foil, and bake until the bell peppers are soft, 30-40 minutes. Uncover, sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup of Monterey Jack cheese, and bake until browned, 5-7 minutes more.
4. In a small bowl, whisk together the yogurt and 1/4 cup water. Drizzle over the bell peppers and top with the salsa and scallion greens.