Thursday, December 30, 2010

2010 has been good!

It's been a good year and I am oh so thankful for that. Below is a little recap on all (or most) of the wonderful goings-ons of 2010:

-Turned 27...yozers. But healthy and happy!
-Pursued my dream to become a personal trainer. Began in May and am still LOVING it...really, it's the best most amazing job ever. I am in love with my job! :)
-Celebrated many friend's engagements, weddings...and babies!
-My nephew, James was born
-Daniel and I celebrated our first year anniversary. I don't know where the time has gone, but we are loving married life and being newlyweds
-Bought our first home!
-Did many, many, MANY successful home projects on our first home
-Spent a wonderful relaxing few days at Holden Beach with Daniel's family over July 4th
-Went to Cape Cod for a wedding (and our late anniversary celebration) and explored that area...lovely!
-Our niece, Lily's 1st Birthday!
-Hosted our house warming party and celebrated all we've done to our home
-Went to Pawley's Island with my fam for Thanksgiving...always fun times at the beach
-Celebrated Daniel's 29th Birthday...big 30 just around the corna!
-Zoey, our black pug's 1st Birthday!
-Went to Raleigh for Christmas with the Hoffman's...another fun, relaxing time full of lots of laughter :)

I'm sure I am forgetting a few things...but these are what first comes to mind. I may add more if more pop into my head!

What's on the radar for 2011???

So far....

-Lots and lots of wedding showers/ times!
-My 28th b-day in Feb!
-Going skiing w/my parents and Daniel in March to CO
-Running my first half-marathon in March (can't believe it took me this long to run a half---but gotta start somewhere)
-2 weddings that I'm a bridesmaid in in April
-James' 1st b-day in April

Phew...I guess time flies b/c it gets slammed jam packed w/LIFE! It's all good though. Here's to you and yours for a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year!



For Christmas I made a couple new cookie recipes. Both were delish! They were Peanut Butter Cup Cookies and Cookie Dough Balls. The PB cookies are super super easy, cheap and yummmmy. The Cookie Dough balls were easy (recipe from here), yet a little tedious...I love cookie dough soo much so when I saw this I knew I had to give them a try. They don't call for any eggs, so are safe to eat---unlike regular raw cookie dough. Enjoy the recipes below!

Peanut Butter Cups:


1 cup peanut butter
1 cup sugar
1 bag of reese's peanut butter cups


-Mix peanut butter and sugar together
-Put mini muffin cup liners in mini muffin pan (you do not have to use liners, but if you don't---spray heavily w/cooking spray)
-Put PB/sugar mixture in muffin pan
-Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes
-As soon as you take them out of the oven, put the reese's cups in the cookies
-Let them cool...enjoy!

Cookie Dough Balls

1/2 cup butter, softened
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
14 oz can sweetened, condensed milk
3/4 cup milk chocolate chips

To coat: 1 1/2 lbs chocolate disks or chocolate chips

In a large bowl cream butter and brown sugar with an electric mixer at medium speed until creamy. Add vanilla. Gradually beat in flour and add milk. Add chocolate morsels, mixing well. Shape into 1-inch balls. Place on waxed paper; chill 2 hours.

Since the dough is sticky, roll your fingers into flour. This will make it easier to roll.

Melt chocolate chips or disks in a double boiler. Using 2 forks, dip cookie balls into candy coating to cover. Place on waxed paper and chill to set. Store in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Tis the season for cookies!

I've been baking up a storm here recently. Tis the season for yummy baked goods and lots and lots of Christmas COOKIES! We are big cookie eaters around here...well, we try so very hard to keep it in moderation...

In the oven baking as I type this are Festive Candy Cane Brownie Cupcakes that I made last year and was requested by the hubs if I could make them again this year. They are smelling delish!

I tried a couple new cookie recipes this year. I love the traditional ones that my Mom makes every year, but haven't yet gotten the chance to make any of those. One of my favorites that my Mom makes is a bar cookie that has a graham cracker bottom, then layered w/a coconut mixture, then topped with melted dark chocolate. I'm not a huge coconut fan, but these cookies really melt in your mouth. Maybe I'll make these for the New Year! She also makes traditional made from scratch sugar cookies and decorates them (we used to decorate them every Christmas as children)...Chocolate Cherry Cookies, Peanut Butter Cookies with a Hershey's kiss on top (pic show above), Rum Balls, etc. It's fun to remember special traditions such as these. Many memories are made in the kitchen :)

Stay tuned for Cookie Dough Balls and Chocolate Peanut Butter cup recipes! Mmmmm!

Do you have a favorite cookie around Christmas time?

The countdown to Christmas is on! Happy Baking!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Chicken Pot Pie with puffy croutons

Yum. Not all of the recipes I make are out of this world delicious...but, this was. This recipe had the "wow" everytime you took another bite a "yummmmmm" would come out of our mouths. It's just that good. I had a craving for some warm, cozy, comfort chicken pot pie was on the brain. One of my favorite cooking blogs had this recipe I just had to try. It's different though...not your typical chicken pot pie because it uses puff pastry instead of biscuits or another topping. The hubs and I both agreed that the puffy croutons made the meal---SO yummy and I would have never thought to put these in pot pie. This recipe has a little more steps than the typical recipe that I post, but it is SO worth it. Take some time to make this on a cold, winter weekend and I PROMISE it won't disappoint! Here is the recipe...below is the recipe with my slight changes in parenthesis.

Chicken Pot Pie Bowls with Puffy Croutons


3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (I only used 2 T.)
2 large carrots, peeled and sliced
2 stalks of celery, chopped
1 medium white onion finely diced
2 large boneless skinless chicken breasts, cooked and shredded (I used 3 chicken breasts, 4 would be even better)
1 stick butter (I just used 1/2 stick of butter)
½ Cup flour
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
2 cans chicken broth (I used fat-free, low-sodium)
1 Cup half and half (I used fat-free)
½ Cup low fat sour cream
1 Cup petite peas, frozen is fine
Salt and pepper to taste
Pinch of garlic salt, Lawry’s
1 sheet thawed puff pastry
1 egg mixed with 1 Tbsp water
¼ teaspoon Cajun seasoning

1. Heat oil into a large dutch oven or heavy pot. Saute carrots, onion, celery and onion until softened, about 5-8 minutes. Reduce heat to low stir in chicken and simmer.
2. In a separate medium pot, melt butter over medium heat. Whisk in flour, salt and pepper until smooth. Slowly whisk in chicken broth and half and half until smooth.Increase heat to high while continually whisking until mixture thickens and almost starts to boil. Reduce heat to low and stir in sour cream and peas. Season to taste with salt, pepper and a pinch of garlic salt (won’t need much). Simmer on low while croutons are cooking.
3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Gently roll out puff pastry with a rolling pin to even thickness. With pastry brush, brush pastry with egg wash and lightly sprinkle with Cajun seasoning. With pizza cutter, cut into ½ inch squares. Place squares onto a large baking sheet lightly sprayed with cooking spray and bake until puffed and golden brown, about 20-25 minutes. Remove and let cool.
4. Serve in pot pie base in bowls and top with puffy croutons (I put some on the bottom of the bowl, too before adding the "pie!"), Enjoy!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Vegetarian Chili

On Saturday, the hubs and I went to Reston, VA to do Christmas with my side of the family. We had lunch at Michael and Amanda's. It was delicious and great to see everyone. Before we left that morning for "NOVA" (Northern VA), I threw this soup in the crockpot so that we'd come home to a healthy, warm and ready dinner. We were wanting a super healthy dinner on Saturday since we both suffered from horrible stomach aches after eating pizza Friday night. Ugh, I hate you cheese! But sometimes I just love you pizza! haha.

Anywho, try this recipe. It's also perfect for a colllld winter day...and good for leftovers on days when it's SNOWING (like today in Richmond)! I got the recipe here from FoodNetwork. The recipe calls for couscous, you add this in at the end...very interesting twist, but Daniel and I both LOVED it...great idea. The soup is VERY filling...we had this with cornbread and sliced pears. :)

Cook Time:6 hr 0 min Level: Easy Yield: 6 to 8 servings

1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
4 cups reduced-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (15-ounce) can white (cannellini) beans, rinsed and drained
1 (15-ounce) can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup frozen baby lima beans or regular lima beans
1 cup chopped onion
1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon minced pickled jalapeno (from can or jar)
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons dried Mexican oregano or regular oregano
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 to 2 teaspoons hot sauce
1/3 cup couscous (I used the whole wheat garlic and olive oil kind, yum)
1/2 cup shredded Monterey jack cheese
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a slow cooker, combine all ingredients but the couscous, shredded cheese, cilantro and salt and pepper. Cover and cook on LOW for 6 to 8 hours or on HIGH for 3 to 4 hours. (Or, if you're like me...cook on low for about 10 hours)

Five to 10 minutes before serving (depending on temperature of slow cooker) add couscous, cover and cook, until couscous is tender. Season, to taste, with salt and black pepper.

Just before serving, top each serving with shredded cheese and cilantro.

P.S.- Yet again, I don't have pics of the chili. Taking more pictures of food is one of my new years resolutions ;) Enjoy the pics of having the first snow of the year in our first home!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Not yo Mamma's Meatloaf

Growing up as children, both Daniel and I were not big meatloaf lovers. I wanted to find a yummy recipe for meatloaf, though, b/c it is so comforting on a cold, winter day. I think I found "the" recipe! I got it off Epicurious, here. Below is the recipe:

1-1/2 pounds lean ground beef or turkey (I used turkey)
3/4 cup Quaker® Oats
3/4 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 cup catsup
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper


Heat oven to 350°F. Combine all ingredients in large bowl; mix lightly but thoroughly.

Bake 50 to 55 minutes or until meatloaf is to medium doneness (160°F for beef, 170°F for turkey), until not pink in center and juices show no pink color. Let stand 5 minutes before slicing. (Now, the only problem I had w/this recipe was that it took almost 2 hours to bake...not sure why, but this was frustrating as there were 2 hungry people in my house! Just be aware of this and be prepared that it may take a while to bake...)

As good as the meatloaf is, it would not be complete without the sauce. Form the mixture into a loaf and place it in the middle of a roast pan to cook. Twenty minutes before it was done, the grease/liquid was drained off. She then covered the meatloaf with 1/2 cup of grated onion, followed by 1/2 cup of (Heinz) ketchup mixed with 2T of brown sugar, 2T vinegar, 1T Worchestershire Sauce; heated mixed ingredients but did not boil. I always make a double batch to spoon over each piece.

Cover and refrigerate leftovers promptly and use within 2 days, or wrap airtight and freeze up to 3 months.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Overnight Baked French Toast

I made this recipe over Thanksgiving, but just now getting a chance to post it. I love breakfasts that you can make the day before then just pop in the oven the morning the next morning when you wake up. I made this for my family and it was loved. It is slightly sweet, so next time I would cut down on some of the sugar (which I went ahead and did in my version below for you), but overall it was delicious. Serve with fruit and coffee :)

Here is the original recipe from My slightly changed version is below:


1 loaf (or whatever fits in your pan) of whole wheat bread (I happened to have whole wheat cranberry bread on hand, and it was perfect)
8 eggs
2 cups skim milk
1 1/2 cups fat-free half-and-half cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup


Spray with Cooking Spray a 9x13 inch baking dish. Arrange the slices of bread in the bottom. In a large bowl, beat together eggs, milk, cream, vanilla and cinnamon. Pour over bread slices, cover, and refrigerate overnight.

The next morning, preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). In a small saucepan, combine butter, brown sugar and corn syrup; heat until bubbling. Pour over bread and egg mixture.
Bake in preheated oven, uncovered, for 40 minutes.

Serves: 8

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

My new favorite veggie's been almost a month since my last food/recipe post. We've been so busy with getting the house ready for our housewarming party, and then after that...honestly I've been just making simple, easy meals not very blog worthy. I also train clients most evenings, so dinner must be quick and simple to get on the table when I get home. Wednesdays are my evenings off (for now), so tonight I finally got to hunker down in the kitchen. :) Oh, how I loooove cooking! Tonight's dinner was pretty much amazing...yet still so simple.

Back to the title of my new favorite veggie is...Kale! I've only had this veggie a couple times, yet have never tried to cook it before. My Mom gets a basket of fresh/local/organic foods every other week and this past week she had a bunch of kale in it. So, being the kind mother that she is...she gave me some. I was a little nervous to cook this for the first time, but it was great....soooo delicious. Another positive...soooo good for you! I will def. be making this again soon. There are so many recipes our there for kale, but below is the one I used tonight from the Food Network. We also had pork tenderloin that I had marinating in the refrig overnight in barbeque sauce. Popped that sucker in the oven at 425 for 40 minutes and it melted in your mouth. We also had brown rice with chopped pecans that I toasted and then threw them in the rice with a tiny bit of butter. All of the flavors from this meal blended in together and it was a complete success. YUM.

Sauteed Kale

1 1/2 pounds young kale, stems and leaves coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil (I only used 2 T. and was just fine)
2 cloves garlic, finely sliced
1/2 cup vegetable stock or water (I used water and it was great)
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook until soft, but not colored. Raise heat to high, add the stock and kale and toss to combine. Cover and cook for 5 minutes. Remove cover and continue to cook, stirring until all the liquid has evaporated. Season with salt and pepper to taste and add vinegar.

*I encourage you to go try and cook something new that you've never done before!

**Oh...and Happy December! I love this time of year!!!!!