Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The One Where My Car Started Smoking

This post could alternately be titled, "I Need Coffee".

Or maybe "It's Only Tuesday."

But probably a better one would be "God Is Good."

Because He is. All. The. Time.


This weekend was glorious - beautiful weather, a walk-slash-run with the Mister, and a little bit of house hunting (WHAT!!!!).

We had a nice spread, too, on Saturday for breakfast. I mean, can you PICTURE cinnamon roll French toast?

I didn't think so. So here's a fancy schmancy picture for your eyes to enjoy.


((fooled ya! picture coming soon!))


On Sunday, the weather was so gorgeous we decided to take a drive over to a nearby neighborhood and rolled the windows down to enjoy the sunshine. I love how our conversation primarily centered around how pretty it was that day despite the stink of our city.

I distinctly remember it going something like this:

"Wow this area smells bad. Is that really outside or did we leave food in here last night? It smells like eggs!"
"It smells like maple syrup!"
"Like BURNED maple syrup!"
"Did we eat anything with syrup?"
"I spilled shrimp and grits on pants last night." (<- seriously)
"But it doesn't SMELL like shrimp and grits!"
"Was there syrup in the grits?"
"No, but there was honey on your chicken!"
"I ate all my chicken, though."
"IT'S THE CAR! IT'S RUNNING HOT!!!! TURN ON THE HEATER!"***


Detectives, that we are.

Let me tell you how GOOD the Lord is. This neighborhood was right across the highway from AutoZone. The car died at a stop sign but we were able to crank it enough to coast into the parking lot as smoke started coming from the hood.

My poor little car. Poor, poor thing.

Our AutoZone guy checked it out and was able to help us fix it enough to get us home, but told us there was a bigger problem and that a mechanic needed to see it ASAP.

Monday's verdict? (according to Joe the Mechanic)

A CRACKED ENGINE BLOCK.

CRAAAAAACKED.

Basically, my little Honda baby needs a whole new engine. So back and forth we went, weighing the options, trying to decide what to do. Hubs so graciously offered to be my chauffeur so OF COURSE I immediately picture a scene from Driving Miss Daisy because THIS IS HOW MY MIND WORKS:




Feel free to click HERE if you'd like some audio to go along with this visual.


UPDATE: I've JUST DECIDED that the Miss Daisy tune is the theme song for our morning commute. Things are about to get crazy, people. We know how to party.


So needless to say, it's been an interesting couple of days. Those of us that do not fully understand the language and the workings of the car (read: me) and those of us who better understand such things (read: Hubs and Joe the Mechanic) have had some decisions to make. Nothing really felt like the right thing to do, and it's kind of stressed Those Of Us Who Do Not Understand out.

Earlier today I just said a quick little prayer, asking the Good Sweet Lord if he would show us what to do, because I sure didn't have a clue.

And then I called my dad, because he's a pretty swell guy. And because that's just what I do when I'm confused. He talked me down, told me to get back to work and everything would be fine.

And you know what? It was fine. Things got better than fine.

Because less than an hour later, we find out that my car has an EXTENDED WARRANTY that will cover the replacement! Despite the overall warranty being expired, there's a place in it that says the engine is covered for things like this.

God's timing is perfect. PERFECT.

Stay tuned for the rrrrrrrrrest of the story in the next update.

I hope you have a happy Monday Thursday Tuesday (or whatever day it happens to be now).

But for everything else, let's remember to take our burdens to the Lord. And leave them there.



Joey+Rory: Leave It There

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Crawfish & Corn Bisque

My friend Tony is HOT.

He's also tall.

And Southern.

And a HUGE help in the kitchen.




You totally saw that coming.

Don't mind me. It's the end of the day and I'm kind of struggling with productivity right now because THIS is how I feel:



I don't really hate everyone. Just pants right now, I think. But really. Can we all agree that this crazy-cloudy-cold weather calls for stretchy pants and oversized shirts only?

I just re-read that sentence and WOW I sound like a slob. But Christmas is over, a new year is here, and I'm MORE THAN READY for my 75-99 -degree weather. Bring on SUMMER and sunshine!

Anyway. Back to Tony the Kitchen Boyfriend.

Was that weird? Let's just go with it.

One of the best things about this cold weather is the requirement to stay in and eat soup at night. I've made more soup over the past two months than I have all year. LOVE.

I've only made this twice this year, because crawfish is out of season and therefore $$$$$$ --- but when I DO make it, it lasts us for at least 2 meals (with seconds).

This is actually my sister's recipe - she made this years ago for an event at our church and I VIVIDLY remember one of the older men of the church telling her: "Honey, if you make this for any man, he will be yours for LIFE."

She got married in April last year. I guess it worked.

The other key ingredient in this dish? Behoooooollld the Crab Boil:


You can get this in either liquid or powder form - either works fine. I prefer the liquid but bought the powder when my grocery store was out. But be careful -- just a little bit of this stuff goes a LONNNG way. You won't be sorry! :)

And BONUS: If your crawfish is already thawed, this comes together EASILY in under 15 minutes.

I don't have a pretty picture of this dish because we always INHALE it. But trust me on this, okay? 

This dish reminds me of home. AAAAAAND it's going to knock your socks off. JUST YOU WAIT.


Jenn's Crawfish & Corn Bisque

Serves 4-6

What you'll need:
1 lb of frozen crawfish tails, thawed (or fresh, if they are in season)
1 stick of butter (I use 3/4 stick)
2 cans of cream of potato soup
2 cans creamed corn
1 pint half and half
1 tbsp of chopped onion
1 tbsp of chopped green onions
1 capful of liquid Crab Boil (or 1 tsp of powder form)
Tony's, to taste

What you'll do:
Saute' onion and green onion in butter until clear. Add crawfish tails and continue cooking for 2-3 minutes. Add cream corn, potato soup, half and half, and crab boil, stirring after each addition. Sprinkle with Tony's, then simmer for about 20 minutes.


Cupcakes Times Two

Happy belated New Year party people!

Let's get down to business.* Sometimes you just need a cupcake.




And if you're anything like me, sometimes you just have to bake. Most of the time, when I really want to unwind I have to do one of two things: A) Bake B) Take a nap.

Life is GREAT if I get to do both.




I don't know what it is, but baking is really relaxing for me. I'm not that great at it - and I'd love to get better - but I just love it. Just taking time to not have to think about anything in the world except for mixing, stirring, piping, etc., is very calming. I'm in my "zone" when I'm in the kitchen.




A day or two after Christmas, I was feeling a little homesick and sad that the holidays were basically over. Our apartment was clean (for once), and I wasn't quite ready to take down the Christmas tree, but I just had to DO something.

So I baked.

And you know what? It felt GOOD. It felt happy.

I'd recently stumbled on this recipe from Jessica at "How Sweet It Is" that made only two cupcakes, which was perfect considering we were still coming off of all of the holiday meals and snacks :)

But the trick was making the icing. I wanted to bust out the decorating kit and skills from my class back in August, but WITHOUT having to make icing that would cover an entire cake.

So, after a little digging, I used Jessica's vanilla buttercream icing with the measurements from Dessert for Two.

WIN.

I'll admit, I was pretty happy with how they turned out.




That is, until this happened.




But that's another story for another day :) At least it gave us a nice laugh.


Happy Thursday, friends! Let's rock on into Friday :)


Find the "Cupcake for Two" recipe HERE.


Vanilla Buttercream Icing for Two
recipe from How Sweet It Is, measurements from Dessert for Two


What you'll need:
4 tbsp butter (room temperature)
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp of milk (or more, if you prefer a thinner texture)
sprinkles -> A MUST

What to do:
Cream butter with an electric mixture until smooth and creamy. Slowly add in powdered sugar and slowly continue to mix. Increase speed slightly and add vanilla, keeping everything in the center with a spatula (with such a small amount, it will spread very thin, very quickly). If the mixture gets a little too thick, add milk a little at a time until satisfied. Frost onto cupcakes once they are cooled.






*To DEFEAT...the Hunnnnzzzz!!!!



Thursday, December 18, 2014

OMG CHICKEN!

It's ONE WEEK until Christmas and I am so crazy giddy I almost can't stand it!!!!

We are THISCLOSE to finishing our shopping -- and this is QUITE POSSIBLY the earliest we've ever been close to finishing the week before Christmas. Usually I'm still fighting crowds, knocking over displays, and elbowing feisty old ladies (<- WHOA I'M KIDDING) a few days before Christmas.

But THIS YEAR -- ohhhhhh this year --- Hubs and I were PREPARED. On Saturday we woke up and basically said "Yo Christmas - BRING IT" and spent a huge chunk of the day knocking out all of our shopping.

Let me add here that I am no longer the type of person that can go shopping on a whim. Post-it notes are my best friends and I have to have a list for EVERYTHING. So in the week leading up to our Giant Christmas Shopping Extravaganza Saturday of 2014 (or GCSES, as it shall be known from here on out), we (read: me) worked and thought and decided on a gift for each person.

THEN! On the morning OF the GCSES --- we woke up, properly caffeinated ourselves, and made a plan. A plan of which stores to hit when, according to closing times and high traffic times.

I think we bought all but maybe three gifts? Regardless, I think it's safe to deem GCSES 2014 a success!!!

What does all of this have to do with chicken? It's okay, I can hear you asking.

Honestly? Nothing. I just thought I'd find a reason to highlight that this dish is a serious "fast weeknight supper" solution.

Late last week I was perusing on Pinterest for holiday appetizer recipes for a work party, when this little gem of a recipe popped up into the mix from The Enchanted Cook blog. It's a fast, easy dinner recipe with only four ingredients - all of which I typically always have on hand, thankfully.

Baked chicken breasts with a sour cream (or mayo) and parmesan mixture, topped with italian breadcrumbs. Maaaaaayyybe not the healthiest, but we ate it alongside a ton of veggies so I'm calling it a win.

BONUS -- Hubs straight up INHALED this thing. INHALED IT.

BONUS PLUS TWO -- Last night I was prepping to make it again and WHAT??!! I bought chicken TENDERLOINS instead of chicken breasts. Good news: it works just as well (and helps with portion control!) and cooks even faster! Whoop whoop!


Ok so --- go finish your Christmas shopping, love on your families and friends, and make this for supper because YOU NOW HAVE TIME TO DO ALL OF THAT STUFF!

Hollaaaaaaaaa!!!!


OMG CHICKEN

Originally from The Enchanted Cook blog
Serves 2-4


What you'll need:

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (cut thin, or 2 large ones sliced in half)
1/4 cup of sour cream
1/4 cup of parmesan cheese
4 tsp Italian breadcrumbs

What you'll do:

Spray a baking dish with non-stick cooking spray (or cover the bottom with a thin layer of butter), then lay chicken breasts flat. In a small bowl, mix sour cream and parmesan until evenly combined. Spread evenly onto tops of chicken pieces. Sprinkle on Italian breadcrumbs, then bake at 350 for about 30 minutes or until chicken is fully cooked in center.

Serve alongside veggies and enjoy your free evening :)

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

On Lunch Lately

I have a recipe today!

And it's (unfortunately) not for cookies, cakes, candy, pies, or any of those other things that I *really* would prefer to make right now!!!! :) :) :)

'Tis the season, am I right???

Once upon a time, for months upon MONTHS on end, I ate a salad EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. for lunch. It was my go-to meal, my routine, and, really, one of my favorite things to eat.

This was my usual for about a year straight, if not longer. Lately, though, I'm just not feeling it. It's pretty typical around this time of year for me to just want something warm and filling in my stomach, as opposed to a light (and colorful!) salad.

...not to mention that my tastebuds have somehow turned on me recently, so spinach and various types of lettuce now taste absolutely horrible!!!



And so I've been at a loss. Until THIS.

A few weeks ago I started making a small batch of The Pioneer Woman's chicken salad to get me through a couple of days when we didn't have leftovers. Then the next time I made a little more to last most of the week, and I'll probably make it again over the next few days.





I'm hooked on this stuff, people.

While this recipe isn't the healthiest, it's a little lighter than most versions I've had. I like to eat small portion of it with Wheat Thins or Triscuits. A little bit is very filling - so I can make a big batch at once and eat on it throughout the week.

And just FYI -- the lemon juice and brown sugar in this give it THE BEST flavor. EVER. Just trust me on this ;)




I don't always have absolutely everything on hand when I go to make this, so I just improvise. Instead of grapes, I've used apples or cranberries - or all three. I rarely have celery and have never bought rosemary or dill (as in the original), but I'm 100% positive it would taste AH-MAZING if you followed PW's recipe exactly.

So here you go! May all your chicken salad dreams come true!

...whatever that means.

Lunchtime Chicken Salad

Adapted from The Pioneer Woman blog

What you'll need:
3-4 chicken breasts
1/2 cup of mayonnaise
1 cup of plain Greek yogurt
1 apple
1-2 cups grapes
3 tbsp of lemon juice
1-2 tbsp of brown sugar
salt, pepper, and Tony's, to taste

other mix-ins: dried cranberries, pecans, almonds


What you'll do:
Cook chicken thoroughly and chop into small cubes when done. Chop the apple into small cubes, and slice the grapes in half, then combine in a bowl with the chicken. Squeeze about a tablespoon of lemon juice over the mixture (this keeps the apple from turning brown so quickly) and give it a quick stir.

In separate, smaller bowl, combine the mayonnaise, Greek yogurt, brown sugar, and remaining lemon juice and stir until evenly mixed. You may decide to add more to reach desired sweetness or consistency (sometimes I will add a teaspoon more mayo). Season with salt, pepper, and Tony's to taste, then pour mixture over chicken and fruit.

Stir until evenly combined and enjoy with crackers, salad, or on a wrap or sandwich.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Walking (and RUNNING!) in Memphis

PEOPLE! This weekend = WHOA!

So much fun. So much soreness. So much happy. I love it.

BUT FIRST! And more importantly!!!!

THE ROYALS ARE IN AMERICA!


source

PLEASE tell me I'm not the only one who has refreshed the Google feed 300 times today waiting for updates is excited about this!

All we know so far is that they are staying in New York City, Kate was perfection wearing a purple coat, and Wills is hanging out at the White House whilst Kate is doing crafts in Harlem.

Media, you are FAILING me.

Stay tuned for more updates.

But moving on!

----

MEMPHIS.

What can I say?

Despite this being my worst race time in all my days, we really did have a great time. We knew ahead of time that we would likely have to take some walking breaks, due to a few injuries over the past month or so - but overall it was a fantastic race!





The course was really nice - between mile 4 and 5 it lead us through the St. Jude campus -- where some of the patients (all kids) and their families lined the sidewalk to cheer us on. The weather was really chilly, so usually there would have been more, but I have to admit I was fighting tears the entire time. I saw one teenage boy smiling and cheering for everyone while hooked to the IV beside him -- and almost lost it right there. These kids and their families are so brave, and I'm so thankful that St. Jude exists to give them the special care that they need.




What really slowed us down was, somewhere around mile 5, my knee started hurting. I've never had problems with my knees, so it was really weird when I started noticing the soreness.

Well --- what started out as soreness grew to somewhat of a strong pain as we progressed. I can typically push through, but this was a little more than soreness. It eventually eased (sort of) enough where I could power walk without too much pain, so Hubs backed off to a jog while I power walked the miles away!

In the end - I'm so glad we finished! Hubs jogged and I hobbled across the finish line, where they had members of the military presenting us with medals.

First the kids, then the soldiers? My emotions were CRAZY.




After stocking up on the water, gatorade, and snacks from the race sponsors, we hobbled across the street to The Peabody Hotel to meet our running team for some post-race recovery and laughs :)




Coffee and cookies, anyone? The weather was cold and windy all morning, and this tasted AMAZING.

Plus - check out the tree in the lobby! Hubs said it was somewhere between 20-30 feet tall!




If you ever find yourself in Memphis, I would HIGHLY recommend you at least visit The Peabody. It's such a beautiful place, especially at Christmas :)

We spent the rest of the day soaking, icing, sleeping, and trying to rest the soreness away - none of which I have pictures from because we party WAY TOO HARD for that kind of nonsense ;)

...and then that night we ate some awesomely authentic Memphis BBQ at the shadiest little BBQ place EVER in this world. Complete with bars on the window and everything!

The food, however, was a totally different story and pretty much BLEW OUR MINDS at how great it tasted.

All in all, great weekend with great people in a great place for an even GREATER cause. Thankfully my knee is all kinds of better, and I'm hoping we are able to do this race again next year.

First on my list, though, is Nashville in the Spring. Fingers crossed!

Stay tuned for more crazy. Happy Monday yo!





Friday, December 5, 2014

All About That Race

Hey-oh!!!!!

St. Jude weekend has BEGUN! Tomorrow is RACE DAY and I'm pretty pumped. A little nervous, but pumped.

But before we head to Memphis, I wanted to pop in on my dinosaur laptop for a quick post!

I'm currently in the process of making a new Race Day playlist that will *hopefully* last 13.1 miles tomorrow. Here's what I have so far:


  1. Best Day of My Life - American Authors (I love starting a run with this song - so happy!)
  2. I Want You Back - Jackson 5
  3. Problem - Ariana Grande & Iggy Azalea
  4. On the Floor - Jennifer Lopez & Pitbull
  5. All the Small Things - Blink 182 (Flashback to Jr. High)
  6. Pump It - Black Eyed Peas
  7. Boom Boom Pow - Black Eyed Peas
  8. Sexy and I Know It - LMFAO (hate the name, love the song :) )
  9. Candyman - Christina Aguilera
  10. Crazy Ex-Girlfriend - Miranda Lambert (YES!)
  11. Fighter - Christina Aguilera
  12. Free Ride
  13. All About That Bass - Meghan Trainor
  14. Shake It Off - Taylor Swift (I hate that I love this. I do.)
  15. I Wanna Dance with Somebody - Whitney Houston
  16. You Don't Know You're Beautiful - One Direction (another embarrassment)
  17. Bulletproof - La Roux (Pitch Perfect, anyone?)
  18. Any Way You Want It - Journey
  19. Cherry Bomb - The Runaways
  20. Footloose - Kenny Loggins (!!!!)
  21. Don't Stop Believing - Journey (This song. LOVE!!!!!)

Ok that's what I have for now - I doubt it will last me the whole race, but I'm pretttty confident I'll be hitting "repeat" a good bit since I love so many of these songs.

Keep us in your prayers! I need to go pack!!!!

***

Also -- our team will be raising dollars for St. Jude Children's Hospital until December 31. If you're interested in donating to the hospital - check out my page HERE!

Have a great weekend!


No treble.