Monday, January 31, 2011

S'more Cookies for Me Please!

S'mores were my favorite part of having a camp fire growing up. I would eat them until I felt like the sugar was exploding my brain... (They were definitely secretly sneaked because my doting parents would only allow SOOO many to be eaten!)

Here is the oh-so-delicious treat transformed to an easily portable cookie form!
(adapted from Cookies Madness)


  • 1-3/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup graham cracker crumbs (I bought these pre-crumbled in the baking aisle... YES!)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 sticks butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 bag mini chocolate chips
  • 1-1/2 cups mini marshmallows
  • 2 Hershey bars, broken into little pieces (I'll explain this more later)


  1. Preheat oven to 375F.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugars until light and fluffy.
  3. Add the eggs and vanilla to the butter mixture, and mix until combined.
  4. Add the flour, graham crackers, salt, and baking soda and mix well.
  5. Stir in the chocolate chips.
  6. Use 2 tablespoons or a medium-sized ice cream scoop to drop rounded tablespoons of dough onto cookie sheets.
  7. Bake for 7 minutes and remove from oven.
  8. Push a few marshmallows into each cookie.
  9. Break the Hershey bar on the lines of the little segments. Then break the segments in half.
  10. Push the chocolate into each cookie and return to the oven to bake an additional 3-4 minutes.
  11. Remove from the oven when the marshmallows are puffy and a little bit browned.
  12. Allow to cool on a wire rack.
  13. Pour yourself a glass of milk and enjoy the deliciousness!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Beats Marie Calendar's Chicken Pot Pie

I have always dreamed about making a chicken pot pie at home. Ever since my little brother and I ate the Marie Calendar's frozen pot pies like they were cake (how ironic!) growing up. My mom was a great cook, but frozen meals were a huge hit for the two of us... And I'm sure she appreciated not having to put together lunch every day when we could operate the microwave ourselves.

These delicious little puppies were adapted from here. Enough about me already, right? , here's the recipe:


  • Chicken meat (I bought a rotisserie chicken for $5 and will use for enchiladas this weekend!)
  • 1 stick + 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • About 1/4 cup of flour (although you will only add one tablespoon at a time!)
  • Garlic powder, celery salt, seasoning salt, and black pepper
  • 4 cups of chicken broth
  • 1 cup heavy cream (same thing as heavy whipping cream it turns out - you learn something new every day!)
  • 2 medium sized potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 2 cups baby carrots, chopped
  • 1 bag frozen peas


  1. Begin to remove the meat from your chicken and shred it into bite sized pieces. (If you're not going to make enchiladas later with the chicken don't shred it all, just shred what you need for your pies!)
  2. Peel and chop the potatoes and carrots.
  3. Bring a sauce pan (make sure it's big enough to handle all of the water and the veggies!)
  4. Place chopped veggies (carrots and potatoes) in the pan and boil until tender.
  5. Add the frozen peas to the boiling mixture in the last five minutes or so.
  6. Drain the veggies and set them aside for later use.
  7. In a deep frying pan, melt the 1 tablespoon of butter.
  8. Saute the onions and garlic in the butter.
  9. After the onions and garlic are browned place them in the same container the veggies are in.
  10. Melt the 1 stick of butter in the same deep frying pan. (Don't worry about cleaning it out, just let it be)
  11. After the butter is melted begin adding the flour by the spoonful in order to make a nice paste in the bottom of the pan. (I added about 1/4 of a cup before I felt like it was thick, but not too thick)
  12. Cook the paste for a minute over low heat, stirring constantly.
  13. Add the chicken broth and stir until warm.
  14. Add the heavy cream and stir over medium-high heat until the mixture begins to thicken.
  15. While this is cooking, season to your heart's content with the garlic powder, celery salt, seasoning salt, and pepper. (This is where you have the chance to make the meal all your own! I suggest trying the little mixture every couple of shakes to ensure the spices aren't getting out of control or are too boring)
  16. Once the mix has thickened, turn the heat down and add the chicken and veggies.
  17. Stir until warmed all the way through.
  18. Line the pan with the pie crust. (I use the pre-made pie shells found in the cookie and bread dough refrigerated section in the grocery store, you could use frozen shells, or make your own if you're that skilled)
  19. Divide between 2-3 pie shells.
  20. You will use one crust for the bottom of the pie, and the other crust will become the top.
  21. Once one pie crust is full you can top it off with the other crust and pinch the edges shut.
  22. Slice a few vents in the top of the crust to allow the pie to breathe and keep it from exploding!
  23. Slide it right on into the oven (Unless you used a freezer crust, then place it on a cookie sheet and slide it into the oven).
  24. Bake for 45 minutes or until the crust is a golden brown color.
  25. If you made extra pies that you are going to freeze skip placing it in the oven and cover tightly with tinfoil before putting it in for the deep freeze.
Jason's Rating: 5/5. He absolutely loved it and made sure that I was going to put the other pie in the freezer. Yep, hun, don't worry it's freezing.

Homemade Chinese Take-Out: Sweet and Sour Pork

Jason and I both really love chinese food but struggle finding a good balance of the delicious take-out taste and heathy, nutritious meal choices. This little Food Network recipe was just the fix, I added a couple of things just to make it a little more interesting, but find the original recipe here!


  • 1 pound pork tenderloin, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/3 cup good ol' H2O
  • A pinch or two of kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 3 tablespoons ketchup
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • Sliced baby carrots
  • A bunch of scallions, chopped
  • 3 cups snow peas (I bought a bag at the grocery store and didn't cut them... I should have done that!)
  • 1 can of sliced water chestnuts (Adds a very delightful crunch)
  • Cubed pineapple (I didn't have this in mine because pineapple is not really in season despite it feeling like summer out in January, but it would be DELICIOUS!)


  1. Toss the pork with 1/2 tablespoon vinegar and a pinch of salt in a bowl.
  2. Mix the remaining 2 tablespoons vinegar, soy sauce, cornstarch, ketchup, 3 tablespoons sugar, 1/3 cup water and 1/2 teaspoon salt in another bowl.
  3. Heat the 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a large skillet or wok over high heat.
  4. Add the pork and slowly stir until it turns mostly opaque, about 2 minutes.
  5. Remove the pork with a slotted spoon and transfer to a plate.
  6. Discard the oil and wipe out the skillet.
  7. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in the skillet.
  8. Stir-fry the garlic with a pinch each of salt and sugar, 15 seconds. (Add a little water if the garlic starts to stick to the skillet.)
  9. Add the carrots and scallions and stir-fry until crisp-tender, 2 minutes.
  10. Add the pork, snow peas and soy sauce mixture.
  11. Stir until the pork is cooked through and the sauce is thickened, about 3 minutes.
Jason's rating: He gave it a 4/5. Although it was delicious, he said it just doesn't have the same flavor as a good carton of take-out. He then admitted that it's probably that flavor that is a result of the unhealthy aspects of the dish. (Isn't that always the case!?!)

The cucumber salad on the side is one of the easiest side "salads" to make and Jason loves to do it all by himself! It's just two cucumbers sliced thinly (or at least they are supposed to be) and doused with some vinegar... I usually use rice vinegar, but had to use balsamic this night because my rice vinegar had gone missing! Add a little salt and pepper to taste and you are in business!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Red Rider Cookies

These are a family favorite in my house. So delicious and sure to brighten up ANY day!


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup shortening (butter flavored Crisco is my favorite!)
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats (not instant or quick-cooking)
  • 1/2 bag chocolate chips
  • 1/2 bag white chocolate chips
  • 2 teaspoons red food coloring
  • 1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
  • Vegetable-oil cooking spray

  • directions:

    1. Preheat the oven to 350 f.
    2. With an electric mixer cream butter, shortening, and both sugars on medium high.
    3. When light and fluffy reduce to a medium speed, add eggs and vanilla.
    4. Drop mixer to low speed and add the flour, baking soda, salt, and baking powder.
    5. Beat in the oats, chocolate chips, and coconut.
    6. Coat baking sheets with cooking spray.
    7. Use a tablespoon to drop the dough onto the prepared baking sheets about 2 inches apart.
    8. Bake until the edges of the cookies begin to brown (this is a little difficult to tell with the red, but just keep your eye on them!) about 15 to 18 minutes.
    9. Transfer the cookies to wire racks and let cool.
    Jason's rating: 5/5 stars. Well, he loves these! He always has. :)

    Terrifically Toffee Brownie Bars

    This delicious little number is so simple it should cook itself, but I promise it will get major props from anyone you share it with (or even just for yourself!).

    • box of brownie mix (and the ingredients needed to make the brownies -eggs, oil, water, etc)
    • two king-size chocolate bars with toffee (I used Symphony because it's my mama's favorite!)

    1. Turn the oven on to the temperature listed on the package. (mine was 375 f)
    2. Prepare the brownie mix as directed on the box. (add ingredients and mix)
    3. Line a 9x9 or 8x8 baking pan with tin foil.
    4. Spray the tin foil liner with baking spray.
    5. Pour half of the batter in the bottom of the lined pan.
    6. Unwrap the chocolate bars and use to cover all of the batter in the bottom of the pan.
    7. Cover the chocolate bars with the rest of the batter.
    8. Bake it in the oven for the time directed on the package.

    **To see if the brownies are done cooking, use a toothpick stuck in the center of the pan. If the toothpick comes out clean the brownies are all done!

    Jason's rating: Jason was at work when I made these for a friend so he didn't get to try them. But I have more of the supplies so I'm going to make them for him this weekend... but I'm sure they are a 5 star rating... Chocolate, toffee, and warm brownies are a combination for success!

    Monday, January 24, 2011

    true soul food

    yep, i'm a cooking, food blogging, delicious delicacy delivering addict! this weekend i baked 5 dozen cookies and two dozen cupcakes (from scratch not from the box!) and i still just can't seem to get enough of it!

    realizing my new found love for cooking and blogging i have spent lots of time trying to pin point why i am so into all of it. and today -yep, after a few weeks of thinking about it- i came up with my reason why!

    i love to cook food, not just for my tummy but for my soul.

    i realize that feeding people food that is delicious (and fits my college budget!) makes them so happy and, in turn, feeds my heart. i love to hear jason rave about what a great cook i am. i love to share my baking with my sorority sisters and have them all asking for the recipe. i love knowing that the treats and sweets that come out of my kitchen are a blessing to the tummies, bodies, and hearts of others. if only i could be paid lots of money to make delicious food for everyone else without having to stick to a menu!!

    song of the day: banana pancakes
    by: jack johnson

    banana pancakes feed my sweet soul with pure joy and deliciousness!

    Sunday, January 23, 2011

    the wishes of my little heart

    i have been running more lately and when i run more i also have more time to think about life. this week i had a huge epiphany... i think God was so proud of my genius moment because it's like a high beam lightbulb went off above my head!

    for those who don't know who this precious man is... he is my dear fiance jason. (isn't he handsome!?!) jason is the fulfillment of my lifelong dream to get married. there were three conditions to my getting married that were a part of my major dream:

    (1) i wanted to get married young and right out of college,

    (2) i wanted to marry a strong Christian man who could lead our home,

    (3) i wanted my family to love mr. right just as much as me.

    well... we are getting married just six short months after i graduate with my bachelors. #1: check.
    jason always wants to be at church, even when i'm tired, lazy, and really wishing we could just take a week off! #2: check.
    and these photos should take care of number three...

    well, not only do they love him, but they love to be silly with him. and #3: check!

    you must be wondering what i'm getting at with all this talk though.... well, God put in my little heart the desire to marry a Christian man who fit in perfectly with my family at a young age (at least according to lots of critical people!). boom God's got it covered. why? because as the bible says:
    "May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed." - Psalm 20:4

    this is also echoed in:
    "Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart." -Psalm 37:4

    now, as i thought before this great revelation, these verses aren't being used to say be a good Christian and you'll get what you want... nope, i think it's like this, be a good Christian, and God will have the opportunity to put desires in your heart that glorify Him. in giving you these desires He can then fulfill them in order to create your life into a life of great glory for Him.

    does that make sense? here's a spark note version for you:

    1. you delight yourself in pursuing God.

    2. He realizes your need to glorify Him in all you do.

    3. He puts in your heart great desires.

    4. Through fulfillment of your desires God multiples your opportunity for glorifying Him.

    amen! so, delight in Him and in the desires He has placed in your heart. listen to those desires and act on them. He wants to make your life one of glory and greatness for Him.

    song of the day: glorious
    by: Paul Baloche

    Sinfully Sweet Red Velvet Cupcakes

    these delicious little treats are good enough to be on the red carpet! so yummy! i made them on friday during a baking frenzy but haven't had time to post with all of the craziness of this weekend (going to the fights, a gun slinging double date, and a half marathon!) but now i have time to catch up!


    • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
    • 1 1/2 cups sugar
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
    • 1/2 cups vegetable oil
    • 1 1/2 cup buttermilk, room temperature
    • 2 large eggs, room temperature
    • a splash or two of red food coloring
    • 1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar (or apple cider vinegar if you forget the distilled vinegar at the house you're taking care of while it's owners are out of town like i did!)
    • 1 splash vanilla extract


    1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
    2. Line 2 (12-cup) muffin pans with cupcake papers.
    3. In a large bowl gently beat together the oil, buttermilk, eggs, food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla with a handheld electric mixer.
    4. Add the the flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder to the wet and mix until smooth and thoroughly combined.
    5. Divide the batter evenly among the cupcake tins about 2/3 filled (or 1/3 of a cup in each little well).
    6. Bake in the oven for about 20 to 22 minutes, turning the pans once, half way through.
    7. Test the cupcakes with a toothpick for doneness.
    8. Remove from oven and cool completely before frosting.
    and for the delicious and absolutely heavenly cream cheese frosting:


    • 1 box confectioner's (powdered) sugar
    • 1 stick butter
    • 1 package cream cheese (in the little cardboard box thing, not the pot)


    1. Combine all three ingredients in a large bowl.
    2. Mix using a handheld electric mixer (or a standing mixer)
    3. Spread onto cupcakes with a butter knife or use a piping bag.
    4. Finish with a berry and some sprinkles (or a chocolate kiss!)

    **It's important to note, the frosting will seem like it's not working out, but let it mix... Suddenly it magically becomes perfect and it's so delicious!

    Jason's rating: 5 stars!
    Yipee he loves them! He ate four or five of them over the weekend... and I loved them muchos as well!

    Tuesday, January 18, 2011

    featured reader

    in honor of making it through an entire year of blogging (although i didn't post nearly as much as i should have!) i have decided to feature a very zealous reader in my post today. he is a man very near and dear to my heart, though i didn't always feel that way... especially one time when he bit me and another time when he broke the glass window on my playhouse, oh, and don't forget that time he was sleep walking in the middle of the night and scared me.

    this week's featured reader is none other than the older of my little brothers...


    yep, if you haven't looked at my comments on my posts he is always such an encourager and helper with all of his kind, and never sarcastic words. i know, you wish you had a brother as cool as mine. have no fear because he is for sale! well, not exactly for sale, but for rent. i would hate to keep the rest of the planet from enjoying the humor and handsome looks of my dear brother, so i'm allowing for him to be rented out to others. go ahead, have him for yourself! i promise he'll be on his best behavior and won't bother your other children or your animals... actually he may bother your domestic household pets.

    bub, here's your honorable mention. you are the best.

    song of the day:
    welcome to the family
    by: little big town

    Sunday, January 16, 2011

    Banana Bread Bonanza!

    So I had three bananas that I let get absurdly ripe - beyond the point of tastiness - and I decided that since I wasn't going to eat them myself, I would bake them into a delicious little loaf of yumminess! I found a bunch of recipes online and found this one to be my favorite... However, I definitely put my own twist on it all.

    • 1 stick butter, at room temperature, plus more for loaf pan (or use Pam like I do!)
    • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pan (not too much more for the pan)
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 3 large very ripe bananas
    • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
    • 1 cup granulated sugar
    • 2 large eggs
    • package of dried banana chips
    • 1/2 cup sour cream
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

    1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
    2. Butter and flour a 9 by 5 by 3-inch loaf pan. (Don't be too excited on the flour or it cooks to your bread and makes it a little creepy on the crust... I found this out the hard way!)
    3. In a small bowl, mash the bananas with a wooden spoon, leaving a bit of texture.
    (this is best done after a stressful day... or week!)
    4. Add the cinnamon to the mashed bananas and mix in to the texture.
    5. In a large bowl, use a hand electric mixer or stand mixer to cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
    6. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, and mix.
    7. Stir in the mashed bananas, sour cream, and vanilla and beat until just combined.
    8. Add the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
    9. Mix all of the ingredients together until thick and well combined.
    10. Pour the batter into the pan.
    11. Add banana chips to the top of the bread to add a little crunch (and cute detail!)
    12. Bake for 1 hour and 10 minutes.
    13. Let cool for 5 minutes in the pan then turn out onto a wire rack (or wooden cooking board if you're like me and don't have a wire rack) to finish cooling.
    14. Slice and serve with butter.

    Jason's rating: 4
    He said it would be better with nuts in it... But he just had his wisdom teeth out so I skipped them... Easy to add next time! And if you add a 1/2 cup of pecans (in step 8) you'll be good! He also said he felt like it was cooked too long... I have to agree (but just note, I am still cooking in a foreign kitchen so I'm struggling getting to know the oven... Other bakers will understand - I hope).

    Saturday, January 15, 2011

    one year blogiversary (plus three days)

    it's been one year since i've been blogging (plus three days, yep i'm late!). good things blogs can't get mad at you the way that significant others can if you forget a major anniversary!

    here are five things that i've learned over the last year of blogging:

    1. posts i think are going to get lots of comments don't... people often end up loving what i'm not stoked to publish.

    2. images make everything more enjoyable.

    3. keeping it light hearted makes me feel more light hearted about life, plus it's easier to laugh than cry.

    4. as much as i think about taking a break sometimes, i'm addicted!

    5. my mama bird really is my biggest fan!

    and my thankfulness today goes to the die-hard readers that keep coming back and checking out what i have to say. i know i'm young and have lots left to learn, but you all keep coming to see what mess i seem to have gotten myself into and the lessons that i'm learning day in and day out.
    it's just like God said, "before i formed you in the womb i knew you, before you were born i set you apart." -jeremiah 1:5

    i'm not just a kid, i'm a kid that God has big plans for... and you all were here when it started! so, from the bottom of my heart, thank you. and of course,

    happy blogiversary to you too!

    song of the day: marry me
    by train

    with all that's happening this year, it seems like a way to kick off year number 2 with my dearest little synchronicite. from minegar to mrs. is the theme of year two... who knows what amazing things will happen this year other than i'm getting married because i said yes, i will marry.

    Cajun Chicken Tacos with a Twist of Spinach!

    I love to read Oxygen Magazine although I will never have the bodacious bod that graces their ads and cover... But eating clean is one of their big pushes, and although I really don't understand what clean eating exactly means (I don't think it's just about washing plates and forks thoroughly by the looks of the pictures!) I have been trying to incorporate their "clean" foods into my diet! Thankfully chicken is clean and I just love it!

    Here is my take on clean chicken tacos... With some cheats because I'm all about tastiness!

    • two chicken tenders (Albertson's frozen chicken tenders are my favorite!)
    • a handful -or two- of baby spinach (did you know spinach is more beneficial if you let it sit longer? yep! it photosynthesizes longer and provides greater nutrition)
    • two cloves minced garlic (I still use the pre-minced packaged kind)
    • bit of olive oil
    • small corn tortillas (or flour if that's your fancy)
    • Creole seasoning (Tony Chachere's original is my favorite)
    • two pinches of Mexican cheese
    1. I thaw the chicken tenders by running them under hot water.
    2. Place the softened (though not completely thawed) chicken tenders in the pan over medium heat.
    3. Sprinkle the chicken with creole seasoning.
    *check out my favorite brand below... available to you in your local spice section at the grocery store!*
    4. Once the chicken is white on the bottom side and sizzling, flip and sprinkle with Creole seasoning again.
    5. Once both sides of the tenders are white in color and covered with a little bit of seasoning, take them off the girl and slice into strips (to make them taco friendly!) and return to pan.
    6. Let cook thoroughly over medium heat, about 5 minutes, stirring and sprinkling with Creole seasoning occasionally.
    ** please be aware: salt is the number one ingredient in the Creole seasoning so be careful not to go too overboard. I mean sprinkle when I say it.  If you want more flavor (like I do) just add black pepper to kick up the spice!
    7. Remove chicken from pan and put on plate.
    8. Return pan to grill over medium-low heat.
    9. Add garlic to pan and let cook until golden brown (about 2 minutes).
    10. Add spinach to the pan (just like the chard from the other night, it'll shrink down so add more than you think you should and it ends up being just right!
    **I ended up adding about two and a half handfuls just to give you an idea of measurement**
    11. Drizzle the spinach with olive oil and stir occasionally over medium-low heat for about 3 minutes.
    12. While the spinach is cooking you can heat the tortillas on the stove (just to make them warm and pliable).
    **Use a pair of tongs to flip the tortilla... or if you like to live dangerously (like me) you can use your fingers!**
    13. Put the tortillas on the plate... Top with spinach, pinches of cheese, and chicken!

    I have a side of sliced pink navel, or the Cara Cara navel, which tastes like the cross between a sweet orange and tangy grapefruit. Delicious! You can find these at Albertsons in the produce department (other stores might have them but I shop at the same store every week!)

    Jason's rating: rating from him today... He is still recovering from having his wisdom teeth removed, but he said it looks good!

    My rating: 4.5
    I got a little too excited about the Creole seasoning and it was a little (tiny bit) too salty. Oh well, must beware next time.

    Friday, January 14, 2011

    leftovers all by my lonesome

    my dearest jason had his wisdom teeth removed this afternoon so i'm eating alone tonight and with all of the leftovers from my cooking this week i'm having my thai chicken curry soup. it's even more delicious after it sits for a while... the flavors seem to fuse and just have more fun together on your tongue!

    tomorrow i'm planning on making banana nut bread so stay tuned for that adventure... i've never made homemade bread!

    thank you, you two!

    themed thank you days seems like it'll make things more interesting (the week is almost over!) so today are duos that i'm thankful for, although i didn't play any sort of "matchmaker" in getting them together!

    1. peanut butter and jelly
    i know this is close to unbelievable, but i didn't have any pb&j until i was in college... just two short years ago as a matter of fact. as a child i would lie and tell people that i didn't like jelly just so i didn't have to try pb&j. yep, lying never pays off... especially since i love the combination so much!

    2. country songs and cowboy boots
    my love for country music is actually a love for everything country (minus horses). i just love the vintage country look... in fact, so much that's what my wedding is based on! carrie underwood, darius rucker, keith urban, tim mcgraw, taylor swift, dixie chicks, steel magnolia, oh how i could list for days and bore your mind out! and the only thing you can wear to a country concert (or my wedding!) cowboy boots!!

    3. soy latte and a good read
    i am a huge lover of books. there is something magical about loving all of the characters as close friends and movis just never get to me the same way that books do! and a warm coffee with a little soy makes it all the better. the only thing is a homemade quilt makes this combo more of a menage e trois... (highly inappropriate i know!)

    4. bible stories and bed time
    a good, quiet moment with the bible makes night time so much more serene. and for someone that wakes in the night like i do, it helps to have the last thing running through your mind be a bit of bible!

    5. home sweet home and my family
    the house is amazing, don't get me wrong, but it's not a home without the cozy, lovely madness that goes on inside of it with all of us there! with bubba and i away at school now it gets harder to have everyone there at once... but as soon as we are the house is rocking on its foundation!

    song of the day: the house that built me
    by: miranda lambert

    no questions about why it was on the top of the charts for such a long time... it's amazing!

    Thursday, January 13, 2011

    good ol' southern chicken gumbo

    i found a vegetable gumbo recipe in this month's food network magazine (find the recipe here!). knowing my sweet fiance jason the all veggie thing was not going to be rated very high on his scale... so i decided to add chicken and change a couple of things. i'll tell you how that went over at the end!

    **note to readers: i am housesitting and, as a result, cooking in a foreign kitchen.... so i am making due for a couple of weeks while i'm away from my sweet little cooking home. also, excuse the absurd plates... remember, not mine!

    • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
    • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour (or bisquick pancake mix when you can't find a stitch of flour)
    • 1 small onion, chopped
    • 1 bell pepper, chopped (i use red so there's a little color contrast)
    • 2 stalks celery, chopped
    • 3 cloves garlic, minced (i buy the big jar of minced garlicbecause it's stinky and time consuming to mince it yourself)
    • salt and pepper
    • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
    • 1 teaspoon paprika
    • 2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth (or one small can of it)
    • 1 pound kale or swiss chard (chopped)
    • 1 10-ounce package frozen black-eyed peas (yep, they look just like beans!)
    • brown rice on the side

    1. heat the vegetable oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.
    2. add the flour and cook, stirring, until golden, about 3 minutes.
    3. chop the onion, bell pepper, celery, garlic (if not pre-minced), and chicken.
    4. add the chopped onion, bell pepper, celery, garlic, 3 tablespoons water and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper.
    5. reduce the heat to medium, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables soften, about 8 minutes.
    6. while the vegetables are steaming, chop the chard. (it can be rough because the chard will shrink in the pot)
    7. add the soy sauce and paprika and cook, stirring, 30 seconds.
    8. stir in the vegetable broth and chicken, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot, then cover and bring to a boil.

    9. add the greens and black-eyed peas to the pot.
    **my pot seemed to be a little small for all the gumbo ingredients... but watch and see the chard will shrink down.
    10. reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 15 minutes. (see i told you the chard would shrink!)
    11. season with salt and pepper.
    12. serve with the rice, if desired. - And for those of you who like it spicy, you can always add a little hot sauce!

    jason's rating: 4.0 Stars
    we both agreed that although delicious we wanted there to be a little more spice in the flavor. i think creole seasoning on the chicken would really have done the trick. i'll be able to revise when i make it again... and i'll be sure to update here!

    Wednesday, January 12, 2011

    attitude of gratitude: day 2

    pastor matt said to take on an attitude of gratitude... so i'm working on it! starting with my five things that i am thankful for today... (these ones are much more light hearted than yesterdays!)

    1. vanilla soy lattes before class.
    nope, i don't have class in the morning... i have it in the afternoon. but the coffee is so delicious and makes a three hour seminar seem so much shorter!

    2. a part time quarter because they changed the requirements for my major.
    who knew that i'd be thankful for the budget cuts? yep, the newest state budget is pressuring colleges to graduate students... and that helps me because i can take one less class this quarter. woo woo for an even easier three months!

    3. new year's resolutions with my mama bird.
    talk about accountability. she is so good at being disciplined and knowing we have the same resolutions makes me feel like i have a chance at pretending to be disciplined too.

    4. the chance to have people listening to me.
    writing this blog for the last year it has taken many different paths. but people continue to read and comment and be supportive. it means so very much to me and i don't know what i've done to be so privileged,  but i will continue to write with the goal to keep you reading.

    5. my silly sorority sisters
    these ladies are all so great. i go to meeting and they just encourage me like mad with all of their jokes and laughing. plus, we are all so different, yet we mesh so, so well. love the pbp.

    song of the day: my kinda party
    by: jason aldean

    just a little honky tonk for you!

    my cooking adventure

    after watching this adorable flick with my dear mama bird, i decided that i, too, wanted to learn to cook... over the last year and a half i have been learning... on my own. it's sort of a trial by fire kind of thing (sometimes literally). oh man, it's not always easy... and sometimes i think i have lost my mind. but i'm trying. and i'm loving it.

    so, i have decided to start a cooking portion on my blog. yep, i'm going to try and make my own recipes, put a twist on some of my favorites from other books and magazines, and share them with all of you! i'm also going to be posting about delicious dates that jason and i go on so that i can make my own versions of winning dishes!

    so please visit my del-i-cious recipes while you're here and let me know what's truly delicious (or just looks the part)... or what's not!

    disclaimer: in addition to learning how to cook, i'm also learning how to take food pictures. please don't decide based on the poor pictures i take!

    song of the day: mes emmerdes
    by: charles aznavour

    it's from the movie. if you haven't seen it, put it on the tippy top of your to do list.

    Tuesday, January 11, 2011

    8 months from today...

    so, today is january 11, 2011. a cool date, no doubt. but even cooler is the thought that i will be a wife eight months from today. yep, jason and i will be married. i will have made it from minegar to mrs. boom. it'll be our first day as a husband and wife (i mean our first whole 24 hour period since 9/10/11 is our date!). whoa, how did i get so lucky?

    the pastor at our church put out a challenge this week. he told us that every morning we need to come up with five things that we are thankful for. well, it seems so simple, but i don't want to repeat any of my five things throughout the week... and i have a hard time deciding what my five will be each day. well, here are my five for the day:

    1. the june gloom lifting from my dad's overcast for much too long mind!

    the doctor says that he is doing amazing and the change is evident. we are making steps in the right direction. and he will be able to laugh and dance the night away in eight months like never before. glory to God for this one. only He could pull off the miracle He is working in my dear pops.

    2. getting to spend the rest of my life with a man that makes me love harder than i ever thought possible, laugh longer than is physically healthy, and smile larger than my face can contain (sometimes it hurts!)

    oh, my dear jason, how i love you.
    and how lucky i am to deserve a life sentence with your beautiful, and so perfectly silly, soul.

    3. a mama bird that is a best friend bird more than anything.

    it's not an easy road she's walking, but with such grace and honesty, she's a hero. and amongst all the other blessings born from this tribulation, our relationship has truly bloomed into something just so phenomenal. something just perfect for her to help me in all the good and bad times of being a wife. (i know it's not always easy!)

    4. two brothers that are larger than life (and so good looking, yep bub all for you!)

    it doesn't matter what you're talking about these two will find a way to make you laugh. and it's a God given gift... although not always appreciated fully! personalities that are larger than life... and with such sweet little faces to keep them out of the trouble their mouths can get them into every once in a while.

    5. a God who endures.

    i know i don't endure. i walk when a run seems much too long and my shins start to hurt. i fall asleep during movies i really do want to see. i tire of planning out the rest of my life following graduation. thank goodness He is so full of strength, might, and energy... because i can hardly make it through the day even with the help of a strong cup of starbucks!

    song of the day:

    love like crazy. by: lee brice.

    • love's the only thing that has kept things going through all of these tough times. God's love, the love of family, friends' love supporting us... we are all so blessed.

    • and to my forever: yep, we're young, some say we're dumb. but we can love like crazy. and with that i have confidence we are going to make it big.


    Tuesday, January 4, 2011

    happy new year!

    the new year is here and with it, a new quarter of school. but this quarter is different, it's the LAST quarter of my college career! yipee!

    this year holds lots of exciting times and i promise to work my hardest to keep things updated on here. plus, being a better blogger is one of my new year's resolutions. that and taking more pictures because putting photos up here makes it more interesting for everyone, including myself!

    i also not only want to cook more, but also post more of my favorite recipes on here! i have lots of new recipes lined up for dinner this week, so check back and see if they are winners or... not so tasty dinners!

    song of the day:

    chicken fried

    by: the zac brown band