Thursday, December 27, 2012

naughty or NICE?! {LINK UP!}

You better watch out. You better not cry. You better not pout, I'm telling you why.  Santa Claus is comingggg...to TOWN! He's making a list, and checking it twice.  He's gonna find out who's naughty and nice!


Well kids ... the jolly old elf came and went.  So what's the verdict? Were you naughty or nice? Well I'd say after the Christmas I had this year ... Santa thought I was NICE! :) Yayyyy.  I was running around like Kevin in Home Alone when I opened my pretty packages.  (no but really, this is very close to my reaction...So much for a poker face...)



I wanted to share some of my favorite Christmas gifts with my favorite online pals .. and give you a chance to Link up and share too!  I'd love to see what goodies you raked in this Holiday.  Or just hear some great Holiday stories.

Alright...Katie's top 3 favorite gifts for this year include:
  1. Marc Jacob's Classic Q Francesca Black Leather purse (I can't seem to find the exact replica image...but it looks similar to this...I might have the name wrong)
  2. Burberry scarf (hubs picked this out all on his own...my very first one...ever! JUMPING for joy!)
  3. Fireplace Screen (yea, go ahead and say it..."you know you're getting old when"...you're more excited about a fireplace screen for your living room than a pair of boots)

    Alright folks, lets hear it and see it!  Who or What was it this Holiday that had you dancing around your living room like a crazed Christmas fool?

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Farararara Ra Ra Ra!

Merry Christmas Everyone!  A short post today, but wanted to make sure I wished all of blogger world very, very, very Merry Christmas with lots of cheer.  And super safe travels to all.

I'll share with you our family Christmas card this year .. and I used the "perhaps Christmas is something more" quote from the Grinch on the back :) From us to you! Merry Merry!


And if you need me, you can find me snuggled up with my family watching: A Christmas Story, Elf, or Christmas Vacation on REPEAT (take your pick, because I can guarantee it will be one or all of those movies, more than once)

Farararara Ra Ra Ra!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Recipe Monday: Merry Christmas Chow!

Merry Christmas Eve everyone!  Because I was a good little girl this Christmas and WAYY ahead on my holiday shopping (and wrapping I might add), I had some extra time on my hands to really get in the Christmas spirit and add to the Holiday Baking - YUMMMMM.

Today, in the spirit of Christmas and spending time with your loved ones, I devote this recipe post to coolest kid on the block ... my baby brother: MAX!


Maxman and I have always been close, and growing up we were often the 2 siblings that were home the most often together.  Because I was a pre-teen with a mother who was "baking-challenged" and I discovered my love for it with my sweet Grandma Elaine (more on her here if you've missed it), I always made it my mission to add sweets to our family dinners/household snacks.  And because poor little Max was too young to tell me no (or well even if he did, he was too young to have a choice) I always made the little guy my helper.

One of his favorites, and a recipe we came to PERFECT over the years is none other than crispity-crunchity, chocolatey, peanut-buttery PUPPY CHOW.  There are a gazillion names for it I'm sure, but here in the BlueGrass it's better known as Puppy Chow.  It's the simple age old recipe on the back of every Corn or Rice Chex at your local grocer. If you haven't tested it out yet, I suggest you do so - NOW. (and if you can't find the recipe on the cereal box, message me and I'd be MORE than happy to share)


Max and I always had a different way of doing things though, and our poor mother's kitchen took the beating.  The key to the messiness with Puppy Chow, is that after you coat the cereal in all it's chocolatey goodness, you then have to coat it in powdered sugar.  A task that doesn't pose too challenging for your average adult.  Buuuut add in a super short, pint sized, know it all pre-teen and her baby brother who was ordered to do EVERYTHING the way I commanded - OR ELSE!, and my dears: we've got a HOT mess in the kitchen.

One of my favorite puppy-chow cooking memories was at our Plum Hill house. Mom had to run out for something and asked me to keep an eye on the little guy...(bear in mind I keep referencing him as little...he's almost 20 and in college now...but it's really hard for me to picture him more than 3 feet tall playing with Poke-mon, so give me a break).  Here is at Xavier in his (NASTY) dorm room with his new college buds. (he's the one on the left)


Nevertheless, I decided I would be a great babysitter and entertain him by making puppy chow (although let's be serious..I clearly was doing this more for my own benefit rather than his). Weeelllllll, the way WE made Puppy Chow, was to combine all cereal and chocolate in a bowl and then place in 2 large zip-loc bags -- add TONS of powered sugar to each -- and SHAKE furiously until it was well coated. 

So, naturally, I handed him the zip-loc bag with coated cereal and extra powdered sugar loaded in to start shaking and told him to zip it up and shake (not paying attention to whether he actually did that or not).  Next thing I knew, I turned around and he, the kitchen, the floor - COVERED, I mean COVERED in powdered sugar.  He had a "OMG" I'm in trouble look, but being the super cool big sister I am (and because it wasn't my kitchen...because if this were to happen today you can bet I would set out in full panic crisis mode), instead of getting mad...I simply started laughing grabbed a handful of powdered sugar out of the package and threw it at him. Which erupted into the most ridiculously messy food fight that kitchen had ever seen (yes, we had more than one...we were "THOSE" kind of kids). 

THANK GOODNESS our mother is fun and LOVES us so, because she walked in nearly a minute later ... *OH NO, HOLD YOUR BREATH*.... annnnd....joined us :) -- AHH...memories.

Alright, enough of memory lane ... onto the recipe.  So, this is a version of Puppy Chow, but entirely different in both taste and texture.  It really doesn't have a name.  And, I make it all year long, but in honor of the holiday, we're noting it today as Christmas Chow! (Sorry, I didn't get a better pic once it was all finished...i got sidetracked and completely forgot)


Recipe Monday: Christmas Chow!

Ingredients:
  • 1 package Kroger Candy Coating (Vanilla)
    • I swear by this stuff, it is SO easy and SO good
  • 1-2 heaping tablespoons Peanut Butter (I use Jif Reduced Fat)
  • 4.5 cups of Rice  (or any type really) Chex Cereal
  • 5 cups Peanut Butter Cap'n Crunch Cereal
  • 1/2 bag regular or peanut butter M&M's
    • Optional Items I have also seen in this dish:
      • Nuts of any kind (often peanuts)
      • Pretzels (usually sticks)
Directions:
  • Toss together cereal in large mixing bowl
  • Melt candy coating and peanut butter together for 1 minute
    • Seriously this stuff is so easy, it melts in the tray it comes with and you toss once finished
    • Follow instructions though, to ensure you do not scorch!
    • Start at 1 minute, stir
    • 15 second intervals following (often doesn't need more than 2-3)
  • Toss and coat vanilla peanut butter mixture over cereal - to ensure all pieces are coated
  • Add in candy pieces
  • Spoon out mixture over wax paper to harden (about 15-30 minutes)
  • ENJOY!!!

Thursday, December 20, 2012

32 Years of Marriage ... THIRTY TWO!

32 Years of Marriage ... THIRTY TWO!  That's right folks, longer than i can even imagine (because this lil' gal ain't even been alive that long) .. my parents have been joined in Holy Matrimony.  Celebrating their 32nd Wedding Anniversary Today - Married on December 20th, 1980.  Geeze.  They've officially been married more than half of their lives.  With the discomforting and depressing thought that nearly 50% of marriages end in divorce now-a-days .. I'd say 32 years of wedded bliss is something to celebrate!  Can you imagine the secrets and stories they're able to tell on each other.  Ha, i giggle at what they know.  I haven't even completed my second year of marriage yet and the amount of black mail information i have on the hubs. WHEW. 

Mom and Pops met at a bar (beyond fitting if you know my parents) "The Lighthouse Limited" in Northern KY back in the day.  I'm pretty sure my dad (John) was rocking a killer stache, an Afro and some ridiculous muscle car with an engine that roared.  My mom (Penny) was likely showing off her killer legs in some short shorts, hair straight as a board down to her butt, and her automobile ... or space Mobile from what it sounds like was some honker of a machine that rivaled a coach bus (or maybe that's just my over zealous imagination going to town).  I forgot to sneak pictures while i was at their house the other weekend ..but this one is pretty money .. and on point with the high waisted daisy dukes mama - NIIIICE.


My parents have accomplished so much in their 32 years together, and as their daughter I wholeheartedly mean, there is not one thing they could have changed that would make me more proud.  I could tell you they're perfect ... but we all know I'd be lying.  I could tell you they never made mistakes and were always incredible role models ... but anyone who's gone out for drinks with the Neace's knows better (and if you don't find out that night .. the next day is bound to be a tell tale sign). I could tell you they never missed a ball game, or always had the exact right advice for what i needed to hear .. but that would again imply perfectly normal parents.  And one can clearly see with the amount of excitement on my father's face [for the 8th lobster he is about consume while dressed in ridiculous 60's apparel] that is simply not the case.  They in turn are something much better. 


Alas, all of their imperfections does in fact make them perfect parents in my eyes.  My parents are my friends, my best friends and always have been. Many would say our family dynamics are a bit eccentric, but it works for us.  My parents moved away from their family and friends in their early 30's to pursue their own dreams and learned to be parents along the way.  Great parents. They've worked hard to be where they are today and deserve EVERYTHING they have.  They taught my brothers and I to be self-reliant, to find the humor in life, and the importance of good company and a good party.

With my younger brother heading off to college this year, they are officially empty-nesters and living up every minute of it.  I got a really sweet text from my dad while they were on one of their recent trips that literally made my heart melt.  GUSH!



I can't remember if this was the same trip or not ... but they always wanted to make it to Niagara Falls and finally did a couple of weeks ago.  Here's a snapshot of one of their remarkable vacays (yes, that is my dad pretending to drown in the falls ... and my mother doing a signature cheer leading move to express excitement) :)



So here's to you John and Penny.  May your happiest moment of the last 32 years be your worst moment in the next 32!  Love you both!


P.S. I searched appropriate wedding gifts for 32 years of marriage and uncovered this:
For the 32nd year of marriage it is suggested that your gift be an item that showcases the semi-precious gemstone Lapis, or a conveyance.
What is a conveyance? The answer: anything that transports you! Be that over water, on snow, in the air, underwater, on land or into a transcendental state, any of the following gift ideas should be considered a conveyance and a potentially ideal 32nd anniversary gift.
    • Car
    • Sailboat
    • Surfboards
    • Tandem bicycle
    • Motorcycle with a sidecar
    • Hang glider
    • Vespa
    • Jet skis
    • Skateboards
    • Rollerblades
    • Unicycles
    • Snowmobiles
    • Go Carts
    • ATVs
    • Segway Human Transporter
Therefore, you will be getting an e-card from your loving daughter.  Conveyed via the web .. imagine it being delivered like so...and i have successfully given you THE BEST 32nd Anniversary gift of all:

Underneath my keyboard lives tiny little elves that skateboard to the monitor to deliver the letters. The elves then Rollerblade the letters to the mail house in the back of the computer. From there small hairy trolls ride unicycles through wires that transmit them to the mail delivery room (imagine the mail house from the movie Elf). Once the mail is sorted by fairies on tandem bicycles they attach the mail to a hang glider and send it up the sucky thing.  Half way through they drop the mail onto go carts powered by baby dinosaurs who travel up your computer wires.  The tandem motorcycle then use one seat for the driver (Carlos from the Hangover) and the other seat for the mail.  Carlos imprints my letter on your screen and you see your magical message and VOILA.  Best daughter ever. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

White Elephant meets Porcelain God

Like many families, offices, and friends ... i fall victim to White Elephant games MULTIPLE times every Christmas.


For those of you who have been living UNDER A ROCK,
White Elephant works like this:
  1. Have guests sit in a circle with White Elephant Gifts in a pile in the middle.
  2. Each person draw a number from the basket (put numbers from 1-number of guests) or you can do it by Birthdays. January 1 would go first, December 31 would be last.
  3. The person who draws the number 1 or has the earliest birthday begins by unwrapping one of the gifts and showing it to the group.
  4. Person #2 can now choose to either open a new gift or steal the open gift from person #1. Then person #3 follows and so on and so on.
  5. Play continues until everyone has a gift.
          
    Optional — You may want to give the #1 person a chance to steal a different gift at the very end of the game since they otherwise do not get the chance to do any stealing
        
    *NOTE: If your gift gets stolen, you have the option of either
      1. A) opening a new gift or
      2. B) stealing an open gift from someone else. Once a gift has been opened it can be stolen by anyone whose turn it is, with two exceptions:
        1.  A gift that has JUST been stolen from you is now OFF LIMITS (for you).  No stealing gifts back that have just been taken from you (but you can steal it back if it is stolen later in play)
        2. Once a gift has been stolen 3 times it is out of play and stays with the 3rd and last “stealer” - It's now on LOCK!
And, because I've never understood exactly why it is called White Elephant ... I went to work with google and found out. 
In case you're interested too...I'll share:


In Thailand and other Asian countries, the white elephant was considered a holy being. But, the upkeep of this animal was outrageous to say the least. They needed special food, holy housing, and all sorts of special treatment. So much in fact, that usually only a king could afford a white elephant. The death of a white elephant spelled DISASTER  so these animals were pretty pampered pets. The origin of our white elephant gift began when ancient kings became EXTREMELY DISPLEASED with their assistant. They would make a gift of the white elephant to the assistant. At first, this appeared to be a great honor. But soon, the assistant would become crippled by the financial burden of the white elephant. Hence, when we give silly, ELABORATE gifts of little value, we call them WHITE ELEPHANT GIFTS.


Usually, at our family Christmas we play White Elephant, but most of the presents aren't a joke or white elephant-ish. The majority of them are nice, but every person picks their own gift, so it's fun to play with steals, etc.  (note: i say MOST because EVERY year my brother brings some ridiculous gift no one wants - and somehow i ALWAYS end up getting it). This year I lucked out with his hand picked Gnome Chia Pet and an As Seen on TV Tortilla Bowl Maker.  Thanks Jon Ryan. Thanks.

My gal pals and I also have an ornament exchange every year in which we play White Elephant to try and head home with the cutest, most sparkly colored decor.  Leave it to my friends however to mix in some questionable Christmas scenes and ugly, UGLY ornaments.

However, our office Gift Exchange is MUCH more fun and includes a healthy mix of white elephant items and good ones.  This makes the game great because steals are truly coveted and it really is complete luck of the draw combined with strategy.


About 3 years ago, i decided to participate with a White Elephant gift that played both sides of the fence. In other words, i supplied some nice alcohol (because what else do co-workers really want?) and combined it with some funny bathroom trivia books.  That same year another co-worker brought an infamous As Seen on TV items.  So, the following year we agreed to stick to our themes and stay the course.


I stepped it up that year, and purchased a full on white elephant gift.  You can find it here if you'd like to gift one.  I give you ... Potty Putt Putt:



And this year...I was so proud of myself when i found this little fella online.  That's right a Toilet Mug.  I made sure to wrap it extra pretty and this thing is SO MUCH bigger than i expected that everyone was eye balling this baby, and it was chosen at a perfect time - PRIME for steals.  The Toilet Mug was stolen twice and ended up heading home with my co-worker Barry.  I can't wait to sit in a morning meeting with him and watch him drink his watery brown coffee from a toilet - SICK.  You can purchase it here if you are interested :)




If you need more White Elephant Ideas, I'd be glad to help pick some out.  They're so fun to shop for and the look on people's faces when they are expecting something so great and wind up with a Chia Pet or worse is PRICELESS.


I'm already on the hunt for next year's potty themed present ... What magical Porcelain God gift will i come up with...?!?! Muuuahhhhh---hahahahahahha.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Support Sandy Hook

My sweet sister in law forwarded me email below last night, and I thought it would pair perfectly for this National Day of Bloggers in Silence and Support for Sandy Hook.  Although none of us can truly feel your pain and suffering, you are in our thoughts and prayers.


The Email:

Twas’ 11 days before Christmas, around 9:38 when 20 beautiful children stormed through heaven’s gate.

Their smiles were contagious, their laughter filled the air. They could hardly believe all the beauty they saw there.

They were filled with such joy; they didn’t know what to say. They remembered nothing of what had happened earlier that day.

“where are we?” asked a little girl, as quiet as a mouse. “This is heaven” declared a small boy. “We’re spending Christmas at God’s house”.

When what to their wondering eyes did appear, but Jesus, their savior, the children gathered near. He looked at them and smiled, and they smiled just the same.

Then He opened His arms and He called them by name.

And in that moment was joy, that only heaven can bring, those children all flew into the arms of their King and as they lingered in the warmth of His embrace, one small girl turned and looked at Jesus’ face. And as if He could read all the questions she had, He gently whispered to her, “I’ll take care of mom and dad. “

then He looked down on earth, the world far below.  He saw all of the hurt, the sorrow, and woe, then He closed His eyes and He outstretched His hand, “Let My power and presence re-enter this land! “May this country be delivered from the hands of fools”

“I’m taking back my nation. I’m taking back my schools! “Then He and the children stood up without a sound. “Come now, my children, let me show you around.”

Excitement filled the space, some skipped and some ran. All displaying enthusiasm that only a small child can.

And I heard Him proclaim as He walked out of sight, “in the midst of this darkness,” I AM STILL THE LIGHT.”


Monday, December 17, 2012

Recipe Monday: Ooey Gooey S'mores Cookies

Well hey there!! Remember me?  You know... the girl who set out a couple of months a go to build a blogging empire and then abandoned her entire site for nearly over a month!? Now that is dedication.

Ahhh!  Well gang .. all i can tell you is, i promise there is a reason.  Well, several reasons.  All of which i plan to fully update you on - IN DETAIL - in due time :) You have my word.

You also have my word, i will never abandon you for this long ever again (or at least i don't plan to!)

So - in honor of recipe Monday, I will give you a DELICIOUS recipe to try out for your holiday baking this year.  My mom and I entered this into our 4th Annual Mother Daughter Cookie Exchange this year, and although we walked away with no awards (booo.) we did walk away with SEVERAL compliments, and a guest who wanted our recipe to make for her next entry at her cookie exchange the following weekend.
(that was the moment in which i was able to high-five myself saying, "yea your cookies were overshadowed this year, you still did great"...*sigh*)

Here's the signature group photo ...


...don't mind Laura in the front row (yes...) in a sheep costume, or Carey in the back dressed as the Virgin Mary...there's more to come on that in the actual Cookie Exchange post..all i can tell you is THEME is important and although not mandatory holiday attire is encouraged :)

Ooey Gooey S'mores Cookies

Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/3 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs (7 full graham cracker sheets)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup Mini Hershey’s Kisses (or chocolate chips/chunks)
  • 1 cup Jet Puffed Mallow Bits
Directions:
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray (we used a Silpat instead).
  • Using a mixer, cream the butter and sugars until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla and beat for an additional 2 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, use a food processor or blender to crush 7 graham cracker sheets into 3/4 cup fine crumbs.
  • In a separate bowl, whisk together the graham cracker crumbs, flour, baking powder, and salt.
  • Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, and mix on low speed until the dough just comes together.
  • Add the chocolate and marshmallows and stir to combine.
  • Place 1.5 tablespoon sized scoops of dough onto the prepared cookie sheet.
  • Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes.
  • Makes 2 dozen cookies.
 

I wish i could take credit thinking of these adorable little treats, but i found the recipe on this adorable blog: http://www.kevinandamanda.com/recipes/dessert/gooey-smores-cookies.html  The woman is a GENIUS i tell you. 

The addition of the ground up graham crackers adds so much flavor to an otherwise somewhat ordinary cookie you won't believe your taste buds. And she is ON POINT with the over sized chocolate chips and baby marshmallows (take her word for getting them at Target - I looked elsewhere and came up empty handed - walked into target and voila! - ADORBS!)

The only addition we made was adding some swirled melted vanilla baking chocolate (colored red and green) over top to add a little Christmas flare.

I'm working on my post to let you know how everything went at the cookie party - but for now I will leave you with your recipe. So fire up those ovens, bake some deliciousness and share some yummy holiday spirit!

Monday, November 19, 2012

Recipe Monday: Crock Pot Mac and Cheese

Just another Manic Mondayyyyyy. I wish it was Sundayyyyy.  Cause that's my fundayyyyy. My i don't have to run dayyyyy.  But it's just another FRIENDSgiving Mondayyyy. So I'm thinking that's okayyyyyy.  Because I'm gonna stuff my face todayyyyyy. And I leave for New York on Wednesdayyyyy!

Alright - enough of trying to write my own lyrics (I'm just so daggone excited!), let's talk about the goods. The extra cheesy, carb-o-licious, melts in your mouth, buttery goodness of this crock pot mac and cheese recipe goods that is just what the gal goddesses ordered for our Annual FRIENDSgiving.

*Crock Pot Mac and Cheese*


Ingredients:
 (This recipe makes about 6 servings, i always double it)
  • 2 cups uncooked elbow macaroni
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2 1/2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
    • you can use just about any cheese you like, i always use a mix of whatever i have in the fridge, but you should have SOME cheddar in there :)
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
    • I've made it with both regular and reduced fat, i can't seem to tell any difference. so if you're looking to save some cals, feel free!
  • 1 (10 3/4 ounce) can condensed cheddar cheese soup
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup whole milk
    • here's another I've made it with whole and skim, can't tell a difference - so more room to save!
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Directions:
  1. Boil the macaroni in water for about 6-7 minutes
    • (this is the only part that cheats, you don't actually cook the macaroni in the crock pot, so you actually get 2 dishes dirty, BUMMER! ... but i always practice the "if it's just boiled noodles the pot's clean" approach, so it ain't too bad!...Shhhhh. that's our little secret)
  2. Combine all ingredients in crock pot including cooked macaroni
  3. Cook on low for 2-4 hours stirring occasionally
    1. Cheese tends to brown near sides
  4. Serve.
    1. Voila! Cheesy, buttery, melty goodness.  ALWAYS a crowd favorite. Although I've never met a mac and cheese i didn't like :)

Friday, November 16, 2012

Special Edition: Eat Me.

Happy Friday everyone.  I can't help but be extra cheery today, because it's almost "THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR!"  I just received an email from my neighborhood and holiday decorations go up this weekend at the lodge and on the light poles, and it's got me all excited.  I may have even listened to Holiday Pandora for an hour today...MAYBE ;)

Now, that being said, we are "After Thanksgiving" decorators and always have been; but I don't really know if that's by choice or pure happenstance. You see, both of my parents are from the Cincinnati, OH area and every other year since I've been a kiddo we take a trip to NYC for Thanksgiving to watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade, ice skate in Central Park and just soak up the big city holiday atmosphere ( I know poor me right).  The point I'm trying to make is: its RARE that we are actually ever home for Thanksgiving.  Plus, the hubs added another kicker to the holiday. All of his father's side of the family lives in the Chicago area; so it's become common that the year we aren't in NYC, we are up in the Windy City visiting with the fam.  *Cough*Cough* these are NOT complaints.  I LOVE traveling for this holiday and wouldn't have it any other way. Plus - i am SPOILED rotten by being in two of the best east coast cities for Black Friday Shopping - Lucky me!

In my mind Thanksgiving is such a great parlay into Christmas and always gets me so excited.  And more importantly, the FOOD! Thanksgiving food, geesh. Obviously I'm obsessed as this is my second discussion about Thanksgiving food this week.  But seriously, equally as exciting, because food is a constant thought in my hungry brain, i happen to have a top 5 list of my favorite "Holiday Time" foods. 

When i see these bad boys on my grocer's shelves - I STOCK PILE.  I'm talking TLC's Sugar Mama from Honey Boo Boo coupon clipper status where i need a special rack for the ridiculous quantities i buy.  There really is not a single reason or explanation i have for doing this because i always go back and get more before they officially take them off the shelves, but i think that's part of the fun.  Plus the reaction on Shane's face as he helps me unload 15 boxes of oreos ain't too shabby.  (He loves to give me the Katie, you cannot be serious - how much did these ridiculous overpriced holiday special edition boxes cost - "LOOK"--- Sorrrrrrrrrrrrry, Shane.)

Alright, Alright, I know you're on the edge of your seat.
So, without further delay, *DRUM ROLL PLEASE* here are my
Special Edition: Holiday Grocery Favorites that scream EAT ME:

1.  Limited Edition White Fudge Covered Oreo's
HOLY MOLY, are these babies heavenly.  I can't eat too many at one time because they're so rich. but OMG. STOCKPILES galore.

 
2.  Andes Peppermint Crunch Mints
Confession: I am a sucker for after dinner mints. Don't take me to Olive Garden unless you're okay with me sneaking a handful of those lil' Andes into my purse.  So, my friends - if you're an after dinner mint lover like me and you haven't had these or have never heard of them, thank me later. SO GOOD.
3.  Diet Coke in Glass Bottles
Okay, so this probably isn't a turn "Only at Christmas Time" treat, but when you are Penny's daughter Glass Bottle Cokes makes you think of one thing: St. Nick. 

Side story:
My brother's and i went to Catholic Grade School and the story of St. Nicholas is a Patron Saint who brings goodies and puts them in your stocking (left outside by the front door) on December 6th (it is THE BEST prelude to Christmas).  And yes, if you must know: Even when i was away at school and now that i am married. St. Nick STILL visits me, every year.  Meaning a couple of things: 1) again, I'm spoiled rotten 2) I'm obviously on the "Nice" list 3) My mother loves me.
So, anyways, keep your judgements and eye rolling to a minimum, i can't help it I'm still a child.  St. Nick always bring Cokes, in glass bottles.  And when i turned 18 he realized i no longer drank regular and was nice enough to switch my bottles to Diet. What a great lil' guy that St. Nick.


4. William Sonoma Hot Chocolate with Vanilla Marshmallows
This is another Penny-ism.  The moment this deliciousness hits the shelves Madre is ON IT buddy.  And it's Hot Chocolate at least 4 times a week every day until Christmas.  PLUS, my parents are HUGE fans of fires, so you can bet on a cold night this is the ultimate cure to cozy up and smile.  Believe it or not, this sometimes even replaces my nightly glass of Kung Fu - GASP!-

5. Coffee Mate - Italian Sweet Cream
Italian Sweet Cream in my Coffeeeeeeeeeee! The phrase i cannot WAIT to bust from my lungs the first morning i have the massive bottle in our fridge.  Okay, this is another arguably non-holiday item as you can buy it all year round. But my Aunt Toby (her real name is Treva) introduced this to me a couple of years ago around the holidays and therefore it makes my holiday list.  If you're a French Vanilla fan or something similar, TRUST ME, it's worth a try.  AND while googling this image to share, I've just learned they came out with a Fat Free version - can't WAIT to try that bad boy out.
Well gang, there you have it.  The most immaculate holiday grocery shopping list known to man: cookies, sweat cream, chocolate mints, chocolate drink and soda.  I'm such a health nut ... Oh come on and live a little, it's almost CHRISTMAS!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

..FRIENDSgiving..

Remember when i told y'all about my beloved gals' nights? (if you missed it, you can catch up on that here)  so, just like Halloween & pumpkin carving if there is a holiday or theme we can parlay into our outings you can bet your bottom dollar we will.


Thanksgiving, or 'FRIENDSgiving' as we call it - is definitely no different. This calorie packed gal's night is hosted at my sweet friend Laura's house who conveniently has the largest dining room and dining room table known to man.  I think their dining room used to an attached garage or something, that has been transformed into a cozy sunken dining room - with a table that could seat an entire NFL football team.


We arrange it as a potluck, in which everyone is in charge of a different delicious dish.  Last year - BIG FAIL - FRIENDSgiving is no different than any other Thanksgiving dinner in which leftovers seem more abundant than the original meal.  And after our feast, we forgot to get cheapy Ziploc Tupperware and extra plastic bags, so divvying up the left overs amongst everyone was a bit of a challenge.  You can bet your little behind however, I'm on it this year, and have been stock piling my extra Chinese carry out containers, so I'll so up ready to battle, and that extra spoonful of dumplings will be coming home with none other than yours truly :)


Because, we ladies love our starchy sides we determined it would be better for everyone to make a yummy sides recipe and that to be our main focus.  Then, we cheated a little bit and bought some pre-cooked Kroger chickens - so no one was stuck with the everlasting job of basting a turkey for that many people.  HOWEVER, this year i have heard grumblings that our lovely Jessie Belle has some coupons for a sweet and salty Honey Baked Ham!  We're movin' on up ladies!!!


So far group text (THANK YOU, THANK YOU, Apple for this incredible invention!) lets me know there are several delicious goodies on the menu. 

 Some talk of what dishes are coming includes:
  • Stuffing
  • Truffle mac and cheese
  • Corn pudding
  • Pear and poppy seed salad
  • Cheesy potatoes
  • Sister Schubert's rolls (if you haven't had these, think O'Charley's - YUM)
  • Teddi cakes aka cinnamon cakes (a secret family recipe I am still trying to crack...and getting close!)
  • Honey Baked Ham (fingers crossed!)
  • Hash brown casserole
  • Surprise dessert ... I've heard orange cake
  • Something green (because we can't be ultimate carb-a-holics)
Oh man, all of this food talk has my tummy grumbling!  So, I'm trying to decide what delicious concoction i should make.  Last year i brought my infamous Chicken and Dumplin's - always a crowd favorite. But, SO filling amongst all of the other dishes, and i just made them for the Pumpkin Carving party - so it may be too soon?


A couple of things I'm considering:
  1. Green Bean Casserole
    • I've only ever made the French's recipe and probably would again, but bringing green beans to a gals night dinner when there would be so many other delicious carb filled dishes overshadowing my measly greens ... I think I'll pass (that was a tough decision)
  2.  Crock Pot Mac and Cheese
    • This is one my favorites and a frequent dish i like to bring to the office for potluck lunches.  It's beyond the best comfort food around and the consistency is bar none.  I think I'll duke it out with Holly and see if I can bring the Mac and Cheese and let her focus on the Stuffing :o)
    • IF i end up choosing Mac and Cheese, I'll share my recipe with you Monday - heck, even if I don't I may share it anyways!
  3. Something Pumpkin
    • Is it just me or did the introduction of Pinterest and the Pumpkin Spice Latte create an overwhelming number of "OMG I LOVE EVERYTHING PUMPKIN ENTHUSIASTS"?!
    • Don't get my wrong, i love pumpkin pie as much as the next ole' lady who makes her weekly trip to Frisch's Big Boy for extra whip cream. But seriously this is a fad i never saw coming.  It's like Bubba Gump Shrimp company meets Pumpkin Flavoring. 

okay, it may not be that serious, but you catch my drift -- if you don't believe me get on Pinterest and search Pumpkin...T.A.K.I.N.G. O.V.E.R. I tell ya!
(I feel the need to also share, i wrote the above pumpkin items down randomly in efforts to be funny, thinking of things that could possibly be "pumpkin" and LATER searched them on Pinterest...and they actually existed!?...need i say more?)
Nevertheless, it is delicious and Tis' the season so maybe I'll head down that road.


Feel free to give me any suggestions if you've got a good recipe lying around that would knock the gal's socks off.  Oh, Friendsgiving....I'll be dreaming of you...Can't wait to see you again Monday.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Recipe Monday: Chick'n & Dumplin's Y'all

Considering this blog was created with the intention of sharing some cooking, baking and general recipes with you - I'd say it's about time to get it started don't ya think?! Nom...Nom.....Nomm...

With the weather cooling off (although this weekend was a GOD SEND and absolutely gorgeous outside) and the days getting dark so soon, soups and crock pots are my best friends. 

Also, because our household generally operates on a similar weekly routine when it comes to food - i will start sharing some of my favorite recipes with your every Monday to start our week and our tummy off right!  But, before jumping into the recipe, let me share the routine:
  • Sunday-Tuesday
    • large batches of soups or crock pot meals are created
    • these are readily available for the hubs and his bottomless belly at all times
    • also substitute for great leftover reheats when I've decided dinner just isn't happening that night
  • Wednesday
    • gals night
    • Hub's is on his own (hence, Sun-Tues meals are great)
  • Thursday
    • i generally cook
  • Friday
    • dinner out with friends
    • date night
  • Saturday
    • it's a toss up and completely depends on what's happening
  • Sunday
    • crosses over with above, but we often have Sunday dinner with hub's entire family
    • when we have Sunday dinner - large soup and crock pot meals become Mon-Tues
  • GOT IT?! : o) .... Don't mess with our routine .... we're getting older and stuck in our ways! ; o)
So, that being said, here is a SUPER quick and easy - never fails fan favorite 

Chick'n and Dumplin's.

What You'll Need:
  •  1-3 boxes chicken broth
    • I use Swanson - any brand will do
    • or you can use water and add bouillon cubes or flavoring if you prefer
    • # of boxes is 100% contingent on if you want them more soupy or not
  • 1 roasted chicken
    • I but the already cooked kind from Kroger or wherever
    • You can also roast your own chicken, or use only breasts if you like white meat, i just prefer the pre-cooked because it's ready when i need it and tends to shred easily
  • 1-2 bags of Reames frozen dumplings  
    • i use 2 because i make a large serving, 1 is suitable if you're not looking for leftovers
    • it’ll be in the frozen bread isle
    • bag looks like this - these are the best
    • TRUST ME - I've made my own and tried other brands - these are the BEST
  • 1/2 large white onion - chopped
  • A couple stalks of celery
  • Peas and Carrots (options)
    • You can add peas and carrots (chopped) (if you like those in there)
    • I only add carrots – but you can use peas too
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • A BIGGG ole dash of parsley
    • freshly chopped or from a spice jar
Alright are you ready for these super challenging instructions?!
  1. In large pot, bring broth or water to boil
  2. Add celery, carrots, and onions
  3. While the veggies are softening up (about 10-15 minutes)- begin to tear apart chicken
    • I toss the skin
  4. Add dumplins to boiling pot
    • make sure the dumplins stay in the freezer until you add them to the pot
    • once you ad dumplins stir frequently as they are defrosting to avoid them sticking together (they're not as good when they bunch up)
    • continue to boil
  5. Once chicken is torn apart, I chop it into even smaller bites
    1. this is 100% preference, i just generally eat mine with a spoon so I prefer the chicken bits to me small and throughout, some people however like big slivers of chicken
    2. add chicken to pot, stir
  6. Add parsley, salt and pepper to taste
  7. I let mine simmer for as long or as little as you like (usually at least 30-40 minutes) and VOILA.
Alternative method - I have also made my dumplins in a crock pot and they are equally as delicious. Essentially those directions are even easier.  You can add all ingredients at once and turn the pot on low for 4-6 hours.  The only draw back with the crock pot is the dumplins tend to stick together more easily.  However, you can easily sub the dumplins for egg noodles and you'll have a super simple chicken noodle soup!

Happy Cooking!


Friday, November 9, 2012

How do I put this gently?

When i went to bed last Sunday and woke up Monday morning, i had no idea the week i was about to encounter at work.  well, that's not entirely true - i sort of did. it's 2 weeks before Black Friday. i work in retail marketing/advertising and the last couple of weeks have been a bit brutal getting everything together, so i guess somewhere in my mind i did know.  perhaps i was just trying to be optimistic for once, and think it would be better this week, silly me! By no means was it really THAT bad, things could have been much worse i suppose. BUT - it was more of just one of those "ARE YOU SERIOUS" type of weeks where a gal just can't catch a break at the office.

So, "How Do I put This Gently?": It was an epic FAIL of a week.

MONDAY

for starters, and lack of a better description
Monday went a little something like this....


one of those days where you're just walking along completely minding your own business and then WHAM! knocked flat on your back.  every meeting was running behind schedule, deadlines were creeping up entirely too fast and conveniently my sweet little dachshund Maggie decided to use our Ralph Lauren Down Comforter as her relief area. Just frick'n perfect.

So, i decided to call it an early night and hopefully wake up with a better attitude.  Good Morning Tuesday!

Tuesday

Ha, how quickly bad turns to good.  So, Tuesday is always a day of meetings for me.  I'm talking like every 30 minutes there is some meeting i have to be present for.  Normally Tuesdays aren't too bad, because they tend to go by really fast. HOWEVER, this Tuesday we had a meeting that isn't usually scheduled on Tuesdays - and we had A LOT to squeeze into a little amount of time.  In reality, the meeting is something i am really passionate about and usually genuinely enjoy (I will share this great cause with you at a later date), but for sake of time the story goes like this:
  1. I was responsible for bringing lunch to the meeting, scheduled through lunch hour for everyone attending - of course i forgot - which started everyone off is a pissy mood. Grrrrrreat
    • shout out - Thank you Domino's pizza for coming to my rescue - you took about 30 minutes, but your thin crust $5.99 medium pizza deals on our bellies made for much more pleasant co-workers
  2. We had a HUGE excel sheet to get through (each person has their own excel sheet for voting, and then the votes and tallies are combined later in an even more massive excel doc) - about 3/4 of the way through the meeting 2 co-workers computers crashed (well -- hold that -- co-worker A's computer crashed, and co-worker B's died because Co-worker A decided to slyly steal her power cord - causing her computer to die before the documents were saved) and yep you guessed it COMPLETELY DELETED ALL ITEMS WE HAD BEEN WORKING ON!
    • I'm not talking went to the saved, archived folder, or even the most recent items area in digital land in which we could pick up where we left off. I'm talking, NO WHERE to be found - THE JOYS of working on an old migrated server. Sooo, that means we have to start 100% over and finish the ENTIRE meeting (which has been spread over 3 days) in one day.
    • This is to be completely by Friday. Yippee!
After that, the rest of the day was pretty much down hill from there and everything that happened i just felt like this
(oh look something great...NOT!):


WEDNESDAY

Wednesday actually did get a little better.  The morning was very blah, and then we were invited to Churchill Downs for AdFed Day.  Can't really complain about betting the ponies during work hours, except i may have had a bit better of a time if i actually won some money as opposed to losing it all.

i always go to the track expecting to walk out like this:


when in reality, i come out more like this:



THURSDAY

Thursday, you were lackluster. But the week was getting to me and all i wanted to do in this dreary, gets dark at 2 o'clock in the afternoon weather was PLOP:


BUT of course, life had a MUCH different plan for me and plopping on the couch, was the farthest thing from what happened.

FRIDAY

So, now we say HOORAY FOR FRIDAY!  Seriously, T.G.I.F. has never been said by me with such compelling force.  I'm looking straight past this day in the office and right on to the weekend. Happy Dance!


WEEKEND

No matter the outcome of what Friday has to bring: I will, I tell you, WILL find time this weekend to live like this.  Hunkered down, and doing absolutely nothing! ~ WHEW - FINALLY!



Giving credit, where credit is due.  I wish I were clever enough to
make these little clips myself, but instead I'm re-blogging them from