Food and Beverage

Brain Dump

Posted on February 7, 2012. Filed under: Brain Dump, Food and Beverage, Home |

1. The first spring in a house is fun. Everyday I’m surprised by the flowers shooting out of the ground in various places.

2. I really am slowing down with chores, house projects, to-do lists, extra-curricular commitments. It feels good.

3. My job is getting more stressful. Raising money always takes me back to hocking Sally Foster wrapping paper at every door in East Cobb County – except there’s no cool prize. The prize is I get to keep my job. Fair enough. At least I get to go to swanky cocktail parties a couple of times a month.

4. Cooking healthy things that my husband and I both like is hard. Inevitably one of us wants beef, pork, cheese, or pasta. I can’t decide if we’re weak or just have really good taste.

5. I love Downton Abbey. Maggie Smith as the Dowager Countess rocks my socks.

Image courtesy of The New York Times

6. We’re getting a puppy. It’s unreal. There’s a fence guy at our house right now giving us an estimate. That’s when I know my husband is serious. I have friends that have said they fight with their spouses more about how to raise the family pet than their own children. Should be interesting…

7. My moodiness increases exponentially between 6:00 and 7:30pm. That’s when 3 things typically happen: I’m exhausted, I get very hungry, and I begrudge making dinner. Sorry, dear.

8. The giant hamsters in those car commercials that rap seriously scare me. I have to turn away.

9. I watch entirely too much TV: Downton Abbey, The Bachelor, Glee, Revenge, Vampire Diaries, Grey’s Anatomy, Parenthood, Grimm, Once Upon a Time, Pan Am (I hear it’s getting the axe), Modern Family, Hart of Dixie.

     a. Some may say I have really bad taste in TV.

     b. I might have to agree. But I don’t care.

     c. My husband is a saint for allowing me to watch all of this on his TV. Especially since I start griping 30 seconds into Lock-Up how bad it is.

10. I want a facial. I’ve only had 1 in my lifetime and that’s a damn shame. They are better than massages.

11. I’ll never get tired of reading Harry Potter books

12. My version of heaven will have a candy buffet with all the cookie dough and cotton candy I can eat. No salmonella, no diabetes, no weight gain, and no cavities.

13. If I finish a book and it makes me cry, chances are whoever speaks to me next – no matter who they are or what they say – will make me cry harder. Good book with a good cry:

14. I miss singing in a choir. I need to find one. Shouldn’t be too hard considering I have tons of resources at my fingertips.

15. We are in the process of furnishing an entire room in our house: couch, chairs, rug, end tables, lamps, drapes, accessories. I dream of upholstery options at night. I have nightmares that red wine will get spilled on my cream colored chair. I’m antsy that it’s going to take 12 weeks to get our leather couch. 12 WEEKS! However, I can somewhat relax because I got a killer deal on the couch and chair we ordered – like 45% off retail. If you want some furniture negotiating tips, see my mother. I’ll tell you all about the furniture shopping/buying/room designing experience soon.

My beautiful modified wingback chair I ordered. It’s surprisingly comfortable.

The couch we ordered except it’s in a softer leather. The leather we chose is about the same color as the floor model. This couch  is very comfortable. It was so hard for us to find a comfortable couch since we’re both short. Everything was too deep.

Everybody enjoy a lovely week in Georgia – supposed to be in the mid-60s every day! Global warming or not, I could get used to this!

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For the Recipe Box…

Posted on December 9, 2011. Filed under: Food and Beverage, Hobbies, Home |

It’s time for another run-down on some recipes we’ve tried and loved in the past few months. I have sources listed for all and links to the recipes if they’re online.

Chicken pot pie – from Southern Living Comfort Food

½ C butter

½ C all-purpose flour

1 ½ C chicken broth

1 ½ C half-and-half

¾ t salt

½ t freshly ground pepper

2 T butter

1 (8-oz.) package sliced fresh mushrooms

Salt and pepper to taste

1 small onion, chopped

1 C frozen green peas

3 ½ C chopped cooked chicken

2 hard-cooked eggs, chopped

1 (15-oz.) package refrigerated pie crusts

1 T whipping cream

1 large egg, lightly beaten

Melt ½ C butter in a heavy saucepan over low heat whisk in flour, whisking until smooth. Cook, whisking constantly, 1 minute. Gradually add chicken broth and half-and-half; cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until thickened and bubbly. Stir in ¾ t salt and ½ t pepper; set white sauce aside.

Melt 1 T butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat; add mushrooms, season lightly with salt and pepper, and sauté 10 minutes or until nicely browned. Don’t over-stir. Add mushrooms to white sauce. Add remaining 1 T butter to skillet. Add onion; sauté until tender. Stir in peas. Add vegetable mixture, chicken, and chopped eggs to white sauce.

Preheat oven to 375. Fit 1 piecrust into a 9” deep-dish pie plate according to package directions. Spoon filling into crust; top with remaining piecrust. Trim off excess pastry. Fold edges under, and flute. Cut slits in top. Combine cream and egg; brush egg wash over pastry.

Bake at 375 for 30 to 40 minutes or until browned and bubbly. Yields 6 servings.

To make individual pot pies, spoon filling into 6 lightly greased 1 C baking dishes. Line dishes with piecrust slightly larger than the diameter of the dish. Top each dish with a round of dough; fold edges under, and flute. Cut slips in tops. Brush with egg wash. Bake at 375 for 30-35 minutes or until browned and bubbly.

We make these in individual cocettes. It’s great to control the portions since there are only two of us. Chances are we wouldn’t eat all of the leftovers if we made a big pie. We usually get a whole chicken and cook it to eat for one meal and we use what’s left of the bird to make the pot pies.

Prosciutto and Asparagus Pasta – from Giada de Laurentiis

I love prosciutto, mozzarella, and asparagus. This recipe combines them all and it’s so easy. I will say that it doesn’t keep for very long if you have leftovers – maybe 2 days at the most.

Quinoa Salad – from Pinterest

This is so easy: quinoa, black beans, chopped peppers, lime, red pepper, cilantro, tomatoes. And you can really omit or add anything that strikes your fancy. After we make this, I always have enough to bring to work for a lunch.

Image courtesy of Eating for England

Macaroni and Cheese – from Southern Living Comfort Food

This mac ‘n cheese is different from the Peppadew one I shared a while back. It’s pretty yummy and uses a dash of nutmeg to give it an interesting depth of flavor.

1 (8 oz.) package penne pasta

2 T butter

2 T all-purpose flour

1 ½ C milk

½ C half-and-half

1 C (4 oz.) shredded white Cheddar cheese

¼ C grated Parmesan cheese

2 C (8 oz.) shredded Gruyere cheese, divided

1 t salt

½ t pepper

Pinch of ground nutmeg

Prehead oven to 350. Prepare pasta according to package directions.

Meanwhile, melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in flour until smooth; cook, whisking constantly, 1 minute. Gradually whisk in milk and half-and-half; cook, whisking constantly, 3 to 5 minutes or until thickened. Stir in Cheddar cheese, Parmesan cheese, 1 C Gruyere cheese, and next 3 ingredients until smooth.

Stir together pasta and cheese mixture; pour into a lightly greased 11 x 7 inch baking dish. Top with remaining 1 C Gruyere cheese.

Bake, uncovered, at 350 for 15 minutes or until golden and bubbly. Yields 4 servings

Southwest Chicken Wraps – from Pinterest

This is a really good recipe and different than your typical taco night. If you don’t have a Panini press, you can definitely use a griddle on the stove.

Image courtesy of Mel’s Kitchen Café

Beef Short Ribs – from Bon Appetit

This is what we prepared when we recently had company. The best part about short ribs is that you can get them started about 3 hours before everyone arrives and then you get to LEAVE THEM ALONE while you tie up all the other loose ends that come with entertaining. Short ribs are almost impossible to mess up as well. It helps to have a Dutch oven. Also, check out your local farmer’s market for the meat. That’s what we did and we saved quite a bit of money and got better looking beef.

Image courtesy of Bon Appetit

I think we eat pretty well at our house. We make an effort to try new recipes once or twice a month so we don’t get stuck making the same meals all the time in rotation. I wanted to make an apple pie from scratch this fall but never got to it. I discovered at Thanksgiving that while I can make a mean pie crust from scratch (vodka is a secret ingredient that I got from America’s Test Kitchen), I really struggle with crimping it around the pie plate. It’s embarrassing how bad it looked. Pies are complicated and I’m not ready to try it quite yet. Anyone out there that can make an awesome pie that tastes and looks good? Want to show me how? I’ll pay you in pie.

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A Christmas Dinnuh Pahhhhteee

Posted on December 8, 2011. Filed under: Food and Beverage, Holiday, Home, Purdy Things |

Adam and I had some of our friends over for a Christmas-themed dinner party. I was very excited about decorating for the party, particularly the table setting:

I broke out the fine china for the first time. I think using it a little over a year after you get it is pretty darn good! We had dinner on our new table. The 9 of us crammed in and got real close.

I used silver chargers, china, red napkins and coasters I picked up from Crate&Barrel.

For the centerpiece, I pulled 3 glass vessels that I already owned from the Christmas decoration stash and put red candles (we already had) in them. I used some footed dessert bowls that we have, stuck a votive in them, and filled them with acorns from the yard! For the final little touch, I took 3 rocks glasses from the cabinet and casually arranged camellia blooms from our Yuletide camellia bushes in the backyard along with some trimmings from our Christmas tree. It was a great way to set a wintery table-scape with things we already had.

I was very happy with the way it turned out. I still love to play house to this day even though I guess it’s for real and not playing. I swap out placemats, napkins, and centerpieces every few weeks for the heck of it. It’s like a mini-makeover that occurs mess-free in less than 10 minutes. Can’t beat that.

Can’t beat a blog post that’s less than 300 words either.

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Thanksgiving Birthday Cake

Posted on November 29, 2011. Filed under: Food and Beverage, Holiday |

Say whaaaaat?!

You read the title right. We have birthdays on or around Thanksgiving in this family. Yep. BirthdayS. Plural. My darling husband and his charming identical twin brother are Thanksgiving babes. They were actually born extremely premature on Thanksgiving morning in a foreign land called Ohio. (They lived in Indiana at the time and were visiting the grandparents for Turkey Day.) And my mother-in-law didn’t know she was having twins! I swear. Their birth story never gets old. Can you imagine going into pre-term labor in a different state on a national holiday knowing that no one at that hospital wants to be there? And then on top of that, there’s a second kid on his way when you only planned for one?!?!?!

This year their birthdays were on Thanksgiving because of the way the calendar fell. Adam says people ask him all the time if his birthday is on Thanksgiving every year. No people. Think about it. Thanksgiving is on a Thursday every year. Is your birthday on a Thursday every year? Yeah, point for the twins.

Adam’s brother, Ryan, decided to visit us for Thanksgiving/Birthdays and we were so glad he could come. Twins kind of need each other on major holidays and especially birthdays. If you are a twin, related to one, or married to one, you understand. We planned to do Thanksgiving and Birthdays all in one with a large dessert spread: pumpkin pie, pecan pie, and 2 birthday cakes. All that dessert for 9 people.

My mom made Ryan a caramel coconut pecan cake. It was yummy.

And I made Adam a chocolate raspberry cake, a combination he cannot get enough of.

I just used a Devil’s Food cake mix for the cake. Why fix it if it isn’t broke? Their cake mixes are so good and so easy. Plus, I had a lot of other Turkey Day cooking to accomplish. I think I made up for my shortcut in presentation. The icing is actually chocolate ganache, but I modified it a little.

I started boiling heaving whipping cream in a saucepan and added chopped semi-sweet chocolate squares, taking the sauce off the burner. But it was too rich and not enough. I played with it until I got it the way I wanted by adding more whipping cream, chocolate, a generous helping of sugar and some salt. I put it in a mixing bowl with some plastic wrap against the surface to prevent a skin from forming. I let it set for an hour or so.

The filling was about 4 T of seedless raspberry jam and 6-8 ounces of fresh raspberries. I mixed that together and it went in between the layers.

After the ganache set up, I carefully and artistically poured it over the top of the cake letting it drip down the sides. I wiped the excess of the cake plate with a wet dish cloth. Just prior to serving, I arranged extra raspberries (rinsed and dried) on top of the cake. They were drizzled with more ganache and dusted with some white chocolate flakes.

With desserts like we had, I made sure to save room so I could sample them all. Yum!

Here we are post-Thanksgiving feast, pre-Thanksgiving birthday cake:

Anybody else share their birthday with a holiday? Or do you have a birthday that sometimes falls on a holiday like Memorial Day? One of my good friends is supposed to have a baby on Christmas Day! Let’s all say a prayer for her that she delivers a week early so she doesn’t have to be in the hospital on Christmas.

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A Fall Wreath and Other Related Projects

Posted on October 31, 2011. Filed under: Food and Beverage, Hobbies, Holiday, Home |

The DIY in me has emerged. My inner craftiness has been dormant for so long. It’s such a relief to finally let it all out. Now that we have a house where there’s room to store craft supplies and easily display craft projects, there’s no holding this chick back from making pillow covers, table runners, leaf art, and wreaths. So get your glue guns out and your wire cutters ready, because the holidays are upon us (Happy Halloween!) and we’s gots some craftin’ to do!

This post is brought to you via Pinterest inspiration, or shall I say Pinspiration? Sounds sweaty…

Materials:

  1. Grapevine wreath or similar
  2. 2 yards of burlap
  3. Wooden letter of your choosing
  4. Paint for wooden letter
  5. Glitter spray paint
  6. Wheat or straw or something earthy
  7. Ribbon in a fall color scheme
  8. Fake flowers
  9. Beaded wire
  10. Floral wire
  11. Scissors

I got all my materials at Michaels except for the burlap. I purchased that at Hancocks. By the way, my Hancocks Fabrics has some lights out in their sign for the letters H, A, and N. It makes for an interesting store front… I’m so immature sometimes.

This wreath is fairly simple. I cut out 4” wide strips of burlap and accordion folded them. I placed them on the wreath form to figure out how many strips I needed. I needed 4. I still had a little bit of a gap, but that’s okay because that’s where I put my flowers.

Once I accordion folded a strip, I stuck some floral wire through it and secured both ends to the wreath, spreading out the burlap to the desired length and volume. I did this for all of the strips.

When it came to my flower bundle, I gathered the blooms into a compact bouquet and wrapped floral wire around the stems as close to the blooms as possible. I used wire cutters to cut off the excess stems. I used floral wire to secure the bouquet in the lower left portion of my wreath.

For the wheat and the beaded wire, I experimented around with different arrangements until I found something I liked. Then, I cut everything to the proper length and used… you guessed it… floral wire to secure in place. The great thing about the burlap is that it can hide all the ends of your decorations if you position them underneath the folds.

I painted my letter with two coats of bright orange paint and let it dry. Then, I took it outside on some newspaper and sprayed it with 2 light coats of gold glitter spray paint. I won’t lie. It was fun. Who doesn’t like glitter? Who doesn’t like spray paint? Whoever decided to combine them is a genius and sounds like a really fun person. I let it dry overnight. The next day I used my fall ribbon (which I got on sale in the Christmas section – go figure) to secure the letter in the middle of the wreath by tying it underneath the burlap at the top of the wreath.

And here is my version:

Me likey. The sparkly orange S really stands out from the street. One of these days I’m going to get a spotlight we can put in the yard so it’s easier to see the wreaths I hang up around the holidays.

And just for kicks, here is the table runner I whipped up last week:

I set the table all pretty for these pictures. Believe me, it’s not always like that.  The runner is double-sided in case you didn’t catch that. Fall leaves are on one side, gobbling turkeys on the other. Yay me!

Oh! And some cupcakes I made for all of our work colleagues:

Mummies!

Happy fall! Happy Halloween! Can you tell it’s my favorite time of the year?

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My 25th Berfday

Posted on August 2, 2011. Filed under: Food and Beverage, Home, Newlywed, Wellness |

My fantastic husband threw me a 25th birthday party in our new backyard last weekend. Never mind that we only moved in two weeks before and the inside of the house looks like the worst kind of chaos you’ve ever seen. We still wanted to have our nearest and dearest over so we could break-in the backyard. And our friends aren’t the stuffy type that would turn their noses up at a bunch of cardboard boxes and bubble wrap in our living room. Unfortunately, we don’t have any pictures of the party. I was too busy wearing my b-day tiara and having fun to snap photos.

We kept it pretty casual. Beverages were beer, sodas, water, and spiked lemonade. For food, we had grilled pork tenderloin, this amazing mac ‘n cheese from Bon Appetit, and … we also went and got a Bocce Ball set so we could have fun and GAMES. We know how to party! My parents also came for the shindig, providing much of the meal and the cake and the hands-on help that is necessary when you have 20 people over at the same time.

I love having casual get togethers with friends and family where you can visit for as long as you want, spread out, eat, drink, laugh, and there isn’t a bill at the end of the night. We are so blessed to have such great friends and family nearby. We know that there’s always someone to listen, help out with something, pick us up if we’re stranded, etc. Thanks, friends. Thanks for coming to my partay. Adam deserves all my hugs and kisses for such a special day. He’s pretty awesome. I’m glad you’re mine.

Oh yeah. Adam gave me this shiny, new toy for my 25th.

my hybrid bicycle. it goes real fast

It’s sweet. And mommy and daddy gave me a sewing machine. This one to be exact.

it sews and embroiders and has an lcd touch screen. i just need to figure out how to thread the needle... among other things.

And mommy and daddy-in-law gave me a very generous gift card to DSW. It will be used soon. Shoes are my weakness.

I’m sure I’ll let you know how the sewing goes. I’m excited to see what I can do with my snazzy machine! I’m hoping I can sew some panel curtains and throw pillow covers. If you’re nice, I may embroider a kitty on a tote bag for you.

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Travels in Washington, DC

Posted on May 31, 2011. Filed under: Food and Beverage, Newlywed, Travel | Tags: , , |

Last weekend, Adam and I flew to Washington, D.C. to spend time with Adam’s brother. We left Thursday morning and returned Tuesday evening giving us about 5 days to visit, vacation, and explore. It’s not the first time that we’ve been to DC and I’m sure it won’t be the last, which explains why our itinerary wasn’t your typical weekend jaunt in the nation’s capital.

Thursday – We arrived in DC at 12:00pm, ate lunch at this Spanish tapas place (it was yum!), visited brother’s office, and Adam and I left for our bed and breakfast stay in Fredericksburg, Virginia (thanks, brother-in-law!). After a grueling 2.5 hours in DC-metro traffic, we arrived at the quaint Inn at Olde Silk Mill. We ate dinner at a great Tex-Mex place, bought a bottle of screw-cap wine at the Giant, and watched a movie in our room. Sounds glamorous, right? It was perfect.

Friday – We walked around downtown Fredericksburg where Adam was a good sport traipsing in and out of half a dozen antique shops, saw some interesting businesses as well,

I think the sign says it all

Adam liked this historic apothecary shop. George Washington's mother went here for her elixirs.

drove to Stafford and ate lunch at a small winery, had a yummy tasting at the winery and a tour,

itty bitty baby grapes

in the vineyard

drove back to DC to pick up brother and cousin,

in Stafford, VA.. i wonder if these people like poodles? i hope they never see their car on my blog.

drove to Laurel, Maryland to attend another cousin’s graduation party Maryland style – Crab Boil! I learned how to dismantle, clean, and eat Maryland Blue Crabs. It was an experience, but I don’t like to see eyes on my food – or other disgusting parts. Plus, it was a lot of work for not much meat. (Side note: there are conflicting opinions on the best way to go about dismantling these crabs. Use your discretion.) I played poker with the boys – er, men – and turned my chips in early to my husband since he bought his dear wife in at the modest price of $5.

Saturday – was supposed to be the end of the world, but we’re all still here. We drove back into the city and went to the National Cathedral

the side of the National Cathedral

and a few grocery stores in preparation for goat cheese enchiladas with friends. We ate, drank, and hung out. We then hit up China Town and went to Clyde’s.

Sunday – We ventured into Baltimore and went to the Orioles vs. Nationals game at Camden Yards.

Camden Yards

The Orioles eventually won, but they were losing for a while. I got my required cotton candy accompanied by a sugar high and subsequent crash. We drove over to Laurel again to have steak and potatoes with the aunt, uncle, and cousin – who went to the game with us as well. They were so gracious the whole time we were there – feeding us, hosting us, feeding us some more. Went back to brother’s place in DC and watched hours of hoarders on The National Geographic Channel. It’s horribly fascinating.

Monday – We drove to Old Town Alexandria and had lunch in the Butcher’s Block. My prosciutto, brie, and fig jam sandwich was fantastic, especially since I had a very good Belgian ale with it. We strolled down King Street and found this fabulous furniture store that has old French Country-style furniture. Their pieces were beautiful.

isn't it purty?

We may have to bite the bullet and order something for our new house. Even Adam was drooling over the reclaimed wood, iron handles, and rustic details. We met up with Adam’s cousin again and drove out to Mount Vernon, George Washington’s plantation. None of us had ever been there before, so it was a great idea to take a few hours and learn more about one of our founding fathers. 

Washington's tomb

We ate dinner at the Capitol Hill Club – thank you, brother. I had a yummy filet mignon and shrimp. It was a nice night, so we drove over to the Jefferson Memorial and spent some time in awe of the sheer size of it.

that would be the very tall Thomas Jefferson

quotes on the wall

at the memorial with Washington, DC behind us

Tuesday – We got a late start because Adam made us grist mill pancakes from grist that we got at Mount Vernon. That’s right. It’s probably (not really) related to General Washington’s original grist. We went up in the tower at the Old Post Office and stayed for awhile since they started blocking off all of Pennsylvania Avenue. In about 10 minutes, we saw Netanyahu’s motorcade traveling from the Capitol toward the White House. After that, we ate a quick lunch and caught our flight home.

It’s always nice to see family and we were lucky enough to spend a lot of time with a brother, some cousins, and an aunt and uncle. We cannot wait to get back up there, but I won’t be going until after the heat of the summer passes. Have you ever been to our nation’s capital in July or August? I swear it’s what hell feels like.

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Spring is in Savannah

Posted on March 17, 2011. Filed under: Food and Beverage, Newlywed | Tags: |

Finally, spring is in the air! I love it when the daffodils are blooming; the tulips are shooting up through the ground ready to bob in the breeze. The pollen is high and the days get longer! Adam and I are convinced that I am a victim of S.A.D. (that’s seasonal affective disorder). The lack of daylight and the cold weather depress me every year. With the recent influx of 70-degree days and sunshine, my mood is on an upswing.

This past weekend we decided to go to Savannah for a little break from the real world. It was such a nice vacation that was chock full of eating, drinking, shopping, and exploring. We ate at Vic’s on the River Friday night. It was one of the best meals we’ve ever had. We didn’t feel rushed; I think we savored our meal and conversation for over two hours. It was wonderful. After dinner, we went to the Bohemian Hotel’s rooftop bar and Savannah Smiles. It was ironically reminiscent of my Bachelorette Party, except less booze, no outrageous to-do list, and the whole married thing. I jest. I love being married! Along the way, I had a reality-star sighting: Marci from the Biggest Loser! No pictures, I didn’t want to be annoying. She looked fantastic and I told her so! I digress.In front of the bridge

Before our night out

Savannah was so beautiful. I’ve never been there in the spring before. The tulips were already in full bloom; the azaleas were starting to open up in all of the park squares; the fountains were full of green water in anticipation of Saint Patrick’s Day. The activities were slowly starting to pick up, but did not escalate to full St. Pattie’s binge-fest by the time we left – thank goodness (wow, I sound old and boring). Last week, I was so occupied making all of our reservations and trying to finish up some work before our trip that I forgot about the beginning of Daylight Savings Time. So I was pleasantly surprised when Adam told me Saturday night that we’ll need to spring forward. Actually, I thought he must be mistaken. How did I forget? I LOVE springing forward. Bye, bye S.A.D. and darkness. Hello warmer weather and sunshine!

Me in Forsyth Park

Adam in front of the fountain

 

Green Water in the Fountain

We brought Daylight Savings Time in with a bang, I must say. We attended mass at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist Sunday morning simply because we wanted to go to mass and we wanted to see the Cathedral. What we didn’t realize is that it was the Celtic Cross Mass (the mass preceding St. Patrick’s Day). There were a lot of bagpipes, green jackets, familial banners and flag waving. There was a priest who began the mass in Gaelic; all of the hymns were of Irish origin. We love traveling places, even if it is in the same state, and experiencing something with the residents that is culturally unique to the area. Adam and I couldn’t believe our luck. When Mass ended, the church members gathered and marched parade-style to River Street where they held a prayer service to kick-off the festivities.

processional before Mass

the leader of the parade - I'm sure there's an official name

It was a great weekend. I think it made us realize that we need to make a habit to do new things and go different places. Since the vacation budget is limited while we squirrel away house money, we’re looking into doing some day trips in the coming months. If you’re in the Atlanta area, there are tons of places to go on a Saturday: the Zoo, Chateau Elan, Callaway Gardens, Serenbe, Stone Mountain, Lake Lanier.

And to cap off the fabulous weekend. This is what we saw on I-75 North heading into Atlanta.

Oh. I wish I were an Oscar Mayer Weiner! That is what I’d truly like to be. And if I were an Oscar Mayer Weiner, everyone would be in love with me!

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In our house, we eat a lot of PORK.

Posted on February 2, 2011. Filed under: Food and Beverage, Newlywed |

Last week I read an NPR article on how bacon is the gateway meat for vegetarians. It inspired this blog entry about pork.

Here are some of our favorite recipes with helpful commentary:

1. Rachael Ray’s Prosciutto Egg Cups

Tips:

  • For these tasty guys, they take a little longer in the oven than Rachael leads you to believe.
  • Make sure to spray your muffin pan with a generous helping of Pam. If you don’t, it will be disastrous.
  • If you’re on a budget, buy gruyere slices from the deli counter instead of a wedge. It saves you around $5. 1/3 lb. turned out to be a little over 1 cup of cheese after shredded in the food processor.
  • This recipe is great if you live alone or are cooking for just a few people. You can make everything ahead of time, but only assemble as many egg cups as you think you’ll eat. The rest can be stored in the fridge or freezer.  

2. Alton Brown’s Perfect Potstickers

Tips:

  • These take a while to assemble, but are well worth the work. If you don’t have much time, make the filling the day before.
  • We generally shop at Publix, but they didn’t have the Wonton wrappers. Our Kroger keeps them in the organic section next to the tofu.
  • We eat these with jasmine rice. Trader Joe’s carries a good size bag of jasmine for next to nothing.
  • Don’t over-stuff them

 3. Ham Steaks

Tips:

  • Not as sophisticated as the previous recipes, but with my mom’s oj and cinnamon wash they are pretty good. Just continuously brush an oj-cinnamon mixture on steak while cooking over med-high heat on a sauté pan.
  • Great as leftovers on biscuits.

 4. Sausage Tortellini Soup

Tips:

  • We have a 6-qt. Dutch oven and this soup needed every bit of it. If you don’t have a pot that big, you’ll need to reduce the recipe.
  • If you have an aversion to mashed up body parts, get someone else to remove the sausage casings. My husband will come do it for you.
  • If you have any zucchini leftover, make these the next night:  Paula Deen’s Squash and Zucchini Cakes
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The Cure for the Uncommon Cold

Posted on December 13, 2010. Filed under: Food and Beverage, Holiday | Tags: , |

I never thought that I’d be much of a tea drinker, but then again, coffee used to be disgusting and now a giant cup is a crucial morning ritual – after hitting the snooze at least 5 times. (My husband hates this. My alarm clock habits are a recurring conflict.) I digress. This Southern girl (yes, capital Southern) from Atlanta is freezing her tush off this winter. Temperatures the past ten days exceeded the 30s once and factoring in wind chill, this morning’s temperature felt like 3 degrees. That’s right: 3. It snowed this weekend too. I only remember seeing snow before Christmas once. Those weather people who are seldom accurate are warning us Atlantans that we better “double-sweater” it for the next few weeks. Great.

In my opinion, the best parts about cold weather in Georgia are Christmas, fires, and hot beverages. Once Christmas has passed in a few weeks, all I will have left are my fires and hot beverages.  Coffee is great before noon. After that, I will be shaking too much to type. And I refuse to drink decaf. That’s worse for you than the regular stuff. I am also a recovering regular Coca-Cola addict. In college, I used to drink 2 or 3 a day. My teeth hurt just thinking about it. When I was toning up for my wedding, I cut down to a few sodas a week and really started drinking the water. It was tough. I’m pretty sure my body went into withdrawal for a few weeks. Good thing I’m not addicted to anything worse. When you drink the recommended 64 ounces of water a day you feel so much better! You have more energy, your body functions properly, you don’t feel bloated (sorry if that’s too much information), your skin looks great, and you have an excuse to get up from your desk since you will be going to the bathroom about 5 or 6 times  a day. I used to share the same dislike for water that I do with tea: it’s just too boring. But when all you drink from 10:00am on is water, tea becomes much more appealing. Some people claim that tea has more caffeine than coffee, but that is not true. A 5 oz. cup of coffee (which is not enough for me and my morning self) has 80 milligrams of caffeine. Black tea, the most caffeinated tea, has 40 milligrams of caffeine per tea bag – half as much. (Caffeine amounts in tea vary somewhat depending on brew time.) Tea is so healthy for you too! Studies have shown that habitual tea drinkers benefit from a decreased risk of obesity (no calories in tea!), heart attack, or stroke, stronger bones, healthier teeth and gums (unless you add a ton of sugar), a better immune system, and an increased metabolism. Plus, there is something therapeutic about a warm, aromatic cup of tea gripped between your cold hands on a chilly day. And in Atlanta, we have a lot of chilly days ahead of us. The low tonight is 15 degrees, wind chill 4. Brrr!

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