Friday, October 29, 2010

Halloween Rewind

I. LOVE. HALLOWEEN.

Sipping my pumpkin spice latte on the way to work this morning, I reminisced about my 2009 Halloween party.  Hence, this post was born.

Yes, I did paint cups like we were in college.
Halloween presents a gazillion options to be creative. From parties to costumes, carving pumpkins to decor, and making fun treats for everyone to enjoy.  It is the only celebration of the year where you can be anyone, or anything, but yourself.  And how fun is that!  So here's to Halloween weekend.

Let the reminiscing continue...

We enjoyed witch's brew, evil apples, boo-scotti, booger fingers, spider cupcakes, ghost brownies, and trick-or-tinis!






And I invited a monster.  


Happy Halloween everyone!  Get your scary on. 


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Pumpkin Spice Blossoms

I love discovering cooking blogs!  Can't wait to try these cute, sugary bites with my favorite pumpkin hershey kiss.  Compliments of http://www.singforyoursupperblog.com/


Pumpkin Spice Blossoms
1 batch of your favorite sugar cookie dough
24 Hershey Pumpkin Spice Kisses, unwrapped
1 teaspoon cinnamon/sugar mixture, for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Make dough as directed and scoop into 2 mini muffin pans.  Sprinkle with the cinnamon/sugar mixture and bake for 10-12 minutes, until cookies are golden brown. Let cool for about 3 minutes, then gently press a pumpkin spice kiss into each cookie. **I chose to sprinkle mine with a little orange decorating sugar- totally optional!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Fall Weather = Soup Time!

Bring on the fall weather!  Who doesn't love smelling a house full of soup?  Oops, well, a house full of soup would not be good.  How about a house filled with the smell of homemade soup? 

Monday night's special - taco soup.

Ingredients 
Lean ground beef
2 cans diced tomatoes (no salt added)
1 can rotel
1 can black beans
1 can garbanzo beans
1 can corn
1 onion
2 zucchini
1 dry ranch dressing package
1 taco seasoning package

Saute onion and meat in skillet.  Transfer meat and onion to large pot on stove.  Add rest of ingredients and simmer on low for 2 hours.  Serve with multi grain tostito chips and fat free sour cream.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Halloween Fun!


I searched high and low for the best Halloween craft project for my nieces, Mary Morgan, 10, and Amelia, 7. Not too easy, not too complicated, fun, and with the potential for originality. Beyond construction paper and markers, I decided on an easy theme - decorate a pumpkin, and a harder task - use your imagination. I raided Michael's aisles for the best crafty options, the majority fall and halloween colors and themes.


My list of crafts had no rhyme or reason and would be fun for kids to choose themselves. After carefully evaluating every craft on the table and shouting ideas, they both decided to make pumpkin faces. Amelia created a “motorcycle dude”, sporting sunglasses made by cutting black glitter foam paper. Mary Morgan created a girl holding lipstick and a flower. She curled pipe cleaner as hair and glued fuzzy craft balls for earrings. This project had no barriers and no instructions, only a table full of possibilities with a pumpkin as a canvas. We had a blast! 


Next, we made ghost cookies. Quick and easy to make. Perfect for a Halloween party. The girls had fun icing the cookies, or should I say licking the icing?! We all had tummy aches after the ghosts were completed!

Ghost Cookies

Ingredients
2 bags white chocolate bark or morsels
3 packages Nutter Butter peanut butter cookies
1 bag miniature semisweet chocolate chips

Directions
In a microwave-safe bowl, or using a stove top, melt candy coating. Use 1 tablespoon oil to prevent burning and sticking.  Dip cookies into coating, covering completely. You may also use a utensil to spread the coating. Place iced cookies on waxed paper.  While coating is still warm, place two chips on each cookie for eyes. Let stand until set.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Back to Design

I am channeling my graphic design days that have come and gone.  I could once work Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop with my eyes closed.  I am now having trouble remembering how to create a box.  But I managed to create a few business card designs for my mom.  She isn't too picky.  I look forward to designing again!  Stationery is next...




Friday, October 15, 2010

Goal Setting with God

"May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed."
Psalm 20:4

Successful people are willing to make sacrifices and put in the time of preparation that unsuccessful people aren't willing to do.  Below are 6 steps to designing purpose for your life. 

Step 1 -- Determine your present position
Step 2 -- Be specific about what you want
Step 3 -- Look for God's promise
Step 4 -- Ask God to help you
Step 5 -- Identify the barriers
Step 6 -- Create a step-by-step plan

Now you may be thinking, "This is a lot of work. It's going to take time." You're right, it will take time. That's why 95 percent of Americans have no written goals. A recent Harvard study showed that only 5 percent of Americans have written goals and many of them are among the highest earning people in the nation. You can either drift through life or you can be directed through life by taking the time to think through where God wants you to be.  Ah, the key -- where God wants you to be. -- Rick Warren
 
I have forever been a goal setter.  It is how I survive.  Graduate with honors - did it.  Run a half marathon - check.  Create a blog - done!  But rarely do I write my goals down.  A sticky note here - follow up with so-and-so, and a journal entry there - Dear God, I would like to...Some have been fulfilled, and some remain, meandering in my head of daydreams.    
 
I sat down last night with a clear head, blank paper and pen, and made a list of what I want to accomplish.  They range from short-term to long-term desires.  I posted this plan on my bathroom mirror as my "big picture" strategy.  Having my goals staring at me each morning will be a great reminder of where I'm headed, what it will take to get there, and how grateful I will be when each desire is met.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Easy Enchiladas


I discovered homemade enchiladas at a dinner hosted by my bible study teacher a few years ago.  The enchiladas she served were melt-in-your-mouth delicious (and I'll reveal why).  Thankfully she shared her recipe, which I refuse to bake unless there are ample people around to clean the dish.  There is a serious amount of heavy whipping cream used to soften the tortillas. 

I have altered her original recipe to create this healthier version, which is just as enjoyable - without the guilt.  Have fun with the optional ingredients to stuff your tortillas.  Choose your rice, forgo the chicken for beans, add spices, use your favorite salsa, sprinkle with cilantro...go ahead, make it your own! 

RECIPE
Kroger Deli's Savory Rotisserie Chicken
8" whole wheat tortillas
1 package whole grain taco rice
1 package shredded cheddar and/or mozzarella cheese
Sour cream (fat free)
1 jar salsa
1 onion
1 small jar pimentos
1 small jar jalapenos
1 can corn

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Pull chicken off bone and cut into bite sized pieces.  Cook rice and saute onion.  Spread a thin layer of salsa on bottom of 9x13 baking dish.  Spread sour cream (amount desired) on 5-6 tortillas.  Combine chicken, rice, corn, pimentos, onion, salsa and jalapenos in bowl and mix.  Divide for 5-6 tortillas.  Stuff tortillas with chicken mixture and lay stuffed tortillas in casserole dish.  Pour remaining salsa over tortillas.  Pour half bag shredded cheeses over tortillas.  Bake for 25 minutes.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Peanut Butter Banana Bread


Featured in the October edition of Cooking Light magazine.  My mouth is beginning to water typing this recipe.  How do you bake the best banana bread ever?!  Well, with REAL bananas and ooey gooey peanut butter glaze.  That's how.  A great fall recipe that goes perfectly with a cup of Joe!         

BREAD
- 1 1/2 cups mashed ripe banana
- 1/3 cup plain yogurt
- 1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
- 3 tablespoons butter, melted
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup ground flax seed
- 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
- 2 tablespoons chopped dry roasted peanuts

GLAZE
- 1/3 cup powdered sugar
- 1 tablespoon milk
- 1 tablespoon creamy peanut butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Combing first 5 ingredients in large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed.  Add granulated and brown sugar; beat until blended.  Combine flour and next 5 ingredients (through allspice) in a small bowl.  Add flour mixture to banana mixture; beat until blended.  Stir in nuts.  Pour batter into 9x5 inch loaf pan.  Bake for 1 hour and 5 minutes.  Allow bread to cool.  Whisk glaze ingredients.  Drizzle glaze over bread.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Get in the Game!

Whether you are an avid college football fan or simply enjoy the football experience, this Top 10 list reviews basic football concepts, and not-so-obvious terminology that will help you Get in the Game (and even impress those silly boys).

I assume you understand the basic downs and yardage of scoring in football.  We will use Mississippi State vs. Ole Miss as our example when needed.  In no particular order, here we go!

1)  Home and Visitor.  The first team listed on TV and in the newspaper is the visiting team.

2)  Eligible players.  There are 11 players on the field for each team at all times.  Not 13, Coach Dooley.

3)  Play clock.  The play clock is set at 25 seconds before each play. It denotes the time given to the offense to begin the play. A Delay of Game penalty is called when the center does not snap the ball before 25 seconds runs off the clock.

4)  Football field basics.  Most are self explanatory, except for the hash marks which are two rows of lines near the center of the field and near the sidelines, marking one-yard increments. All plays start with the ball on or between the hash marks. 


What are those bright orange things on each corner of the end zone?  These are pylons. A pylon is a short orange (or red) foam marker that marks all four corners of each end zone. A player must get any part of the football over the goal line or touch the pylon to score.  See Bulldog Anthony Dixon...
 
 
5)  Field goal attempt.  You must add 17 yards to the line of scrimmage for the actual field goal yardage. For example, if the ball is downed on the 20 yard line, the ball will be spotted 7 yards from the line of scrimmage.  You must also add the 10 yards that make up the end zone (20 + 7 +10 = 37).  The field goal attempt is 37 yards.

6)  Territory.  Let's say the Rebels have the ball on the Bulldog's 20 yard line.  Are they close to scoring?  Yes, you could say that.  They are 20 yards from the end zone in Bulldog territory.  If the Rebels are on their own 20 yard line, then they are 80 yards from the end zone. 

7)  Point after touchdwon.  Also known as a PAT, it is only worth 1 point, whereas kicking a field goal can put 3 points on the scoreboard.

8)  A catch.  A college receiver is only required to have one foot in bounds to make a catch.  Rule 2, Section 2, Article 7 of the NCAA 2009-2010 Football Rules and Interpretations:  To catch a ball means that a player:  Leaves his feet and firmly grasps a live ball in flight, the ball first touching the ground inbounds while still in his firm grasp.  

9)  Holding and Pass Interference penalties.  Holding is an offensive penalty called when an offensive player literally "holds" a defensive player's jersey.  Pass interference is a defensive penalty.  This occurs when the defensive player makes contact with the receiver before the ball arrives, interfering with his opportunity to catch the ball.  See the chart below for common referee signals.


10)  The BCS.  I'm sure you've heard someone refer to the BCS. The BCS is the Bowl Championship Series that creates 5 bowl games each year for the top 10 ranked teams, including the National Championship game.

You may be familiar with the Top 10, or you may not care about football beyond your cute outfit.  Whatever the case, happy game day!

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Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Grilled Cheese Anyone?

What a fabulous idea!  Who would've thought...oh wait, Martha Stewart did.  Comeback Queen, you are.  Yesterday on Oprah, it was a "Best of Martha Stewart" show.  Martha suggested a grown-up grilled cheese party, and why not throw in a Bloody Mary for good measure?  Well, I just will -- for my next Girl's Night menu.      


apple, gruyere, & sage
No ordinary grilled cheese sandwich will do.  I'll buy cheeses known for melting easily as suggested - like Gruy√®re, cheddar and Fontina.  I can't wait to choose my breads!  I'm skipping in my chair, if that's possible.  And the toppings...oh my friends will think I've gone mad.  I'll tame them with Martha's classic bloody mary recipe. 

Grilled cheeses are as close as I'll get to being a Martha Stewart.  Thanks, Martha!  For grilled cheese combinations visit www.oprah.com/oprahshow/How-to-Make-Your-Own-Grilled-Cheese-Bar.  Send me your grilled cheese ideas and let me know how your party turned out! 

Classic Bloody Mary
3/4 cups fresh tomato juice
1/4 cup clam juice
1 lemon , juiced
2 to 3 to 3 dashes Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp. freshly grated or prepared horseradish
1/2 tsp. celery salt
Pinch black pepper
Pinch salt
2 ounces vodka
1 slice cucumber , for garnish
1 stalk celery , for garnish
1 wedge lemon , for garnish  

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Happy Juice

Orange juice is an All-American breakfast beverage.  One 8-ounce glass of 100% Florida orange juice provides 100 percent of your daily value of Vitamin C.  If you are not carefully choosing your orange juice, this juice product can be deceiving with its colorful labels, descriptions, and additions.  Cooking Light performed a taste test on 9 various not from concentrate orange juices.  The winners were Florida's Natural and Tropicana's Pure Premium.


If you are not sure how to choose a great tasting orange juice, and ensure you are receiving the vitamins and minerals you deserve, use this comparative orange juice label as your guide.  Enjoy your OJ and all its health benefits!


Monday, October 4, 2010

EAT nola

I was led to EAT nola almost two years ago and it remains my favorite brunch option in the Big Easy.  This eclectic restaurant is tucked away in the heart of the French Quarter marking the intersection of Dumaine and Dauphine.  Its quaint corner location and large ceiling-to-floor windows allow for a sunny and cheerful atmosphere during brunch hours.  EAT's menu is described as cajun and creole, but those are not the words I would use to describe EAT.

It does not serve your typical jumbalaya, red beans and rice, or beignets.  Instead, the menu boasts of fresh ingredients and creative ensembles.


Eggs de Provence
 Among many options, the brunch menu serves eggs in three fashions -de Provence, Dauphine, and Dumaine.  I am still dreaming of the Eggs de Provence I ordered Sunday morning (for the second time).  Served in a hot iron skillet with a cream and butter seasoned sauce, it will make you come back for more -- and I have.

I casually asked the waitress, without appearing to beg for the recipe, "I taste rosemary in this dish; what other seasonings are in this unbelievable sauce?  Oregano?"  She hesitated, put her hands up as if "I will never tell," and mentioned something about lavender before she quickly walked away with my card.

The Chef, Jarred Zeringue, opened EAT in 2006, and uses fresh, local ingredients.  EAT serves weekend brunch, and lunch and dinner daily (closed on Monday).  While the lunch menu also offers a portion of the breakfast menu, the night menu is a whole new ballgame, offering flatiron steak, barbeque shrimp, redfish filet, pork tenderloin, gumbo, crawfish pie, and even a burger.  I've heard the fried green tomatoes are his specialty, but I have failed to order them yet.  The blue cheese and fig torte is an appetizer among the unusual menu list.

I can guarantee that whatever time of you day you visit, and whatever you order, it will not disappoint. 

Visit EAT's website at http://www.eatnola.com/





Friday, October 1, 2010

What's Your Real Age?

Reading Real Age today, Dr. Oz convinced me to take the Real Age test.  After about 30 questions, the test revealed my "real age" as 33.1.  WHAT?!  So I'm taking his advice from my Real Age plan and heading the other direction.  I'll add more calcium to my diet, build flexibility into my workout, reach out to others when I have problems, floss more often, stay off the phone while driving, and only wish I could own a furry friend.  At least I can feel good about the broccoli, carrots, and apple I had for lunch today!  Take the Real Age test at http://www.realage.com/landing/entry37?cbr=GGLE806&gclid=CJXmz9a8sqQCFZBf2god9md50A
 
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