Tuesday, November 26, 2013

My Favorite Things - Thanksgiving Edition

And we're off!!!

Thanksgiving is just a few short days away, and I'm loving that our Holiday Season has officially started here in The City!

It's been cold and rainy for the past few days and, although I'm not a "cold weather person," I'm completely okay with a little chill in the air for the holidays.

But by January 1st at noon, however, I'm ready for my 70 + degree weather.

Aaaahhh...one day!

To kick off the holiday week, here are a few of my favorite things that I'll be obsessed with over the holidays. Or at least until I do another "Favorite Things" post. Which could come as early as next week.

Or tomorrow.


one. My first Tervis cup. It's huge and holds a TON of water. And it's State themed. Appropriate seeing as how I married a State graduate. #HailState

two. THIS version of "The 12 Days of Christmas" by Straight No Chaser. It's the best version yet. So serious. Is there anything these guys can't sing? I'd like to think "no." Aaaahhh harmony.

three. Michael Buble's newest Christmas album, "Christmas." Crazy good.

four. THIS. I didn't think ANYTHING could EVER beat Thin Mint. But oh my. Myyyy oh my....Coffee Mate has done it again.

five. Kitchen experiments! Cold weather has caused all sorts of new recipes to pop up in my kitchen -- all of which will come soon!

P.S. Last night I worked out with Jillian Michaels and her Six Week Six Pack workout. Let me tell you, it is INTENSE. I am sore all over. That is NOT one of my favorite things. The workout, however, is actually pretty good!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

A Coffee Date with...Natalie

Let's have a little fun, shall we?

Today I'm having a digital coffee date with my friend in real life and in Blog Land, Natalie from Life As I Know It. Check out her blog when you get a chance, as she is the reason I'm obsessed with beef stew this season!

See? We really are friends in real life! She even came to our wedding in September! The proof is in the pudding, people. Or perhaps just the picture (check that nice alliteration going on there...yeah English!!!) that I "borrowed" from her blog ;)

Anyway, blog friends, meet Natalie. She pretty much rocks. She's a genuine and kind soul with one of the most precious pups ever! I'd like to think that if Natalie and I were to really have coffee this morning, our conversation would go something like this:

G&G: Hey Natalie. 'Sup?

Natalie: Not much. Sup with you?

G&G: Ah, you know. Bloggin. Chillin. Livin the dream. You know, all that jazz. Remember, there are no wrong answers here, so answer freely. What's your favorite color?

Natalie: Blue!

G&G: Are you an Introvert or Extravert, or somewhere in between?

Natalie: Extremely introverted; for real.

G&G: I feel ya. That's why I write. Nobody can see me and I don't get tongue-tied! How long have you been blogging?

Natalie: About three years...

G&G: Why did you start blogging?

Natalie: I think because I expected something really grand to happen in my life & I wanted to have it down to remember; I’m not the best with a journal. Granted, here we are three years later & I don’t think anything very grand has happened…but one day…maybe one day…

G&G: I don't know. That beef stew of yours seems pretty grand to me. What "type" of blog would you consider yours to be? Lifestyle, food, etc. (Hint: You don't even have to put yourself in a category!)

Natalie: I have no clue; I’m a little bit of everything…but I do love to share recipes.

G&G: Secret dream job?

Natalie: My dream job (and it’s no secret) is to be a Momma. I’d really like to find Mr. Right & have some sweet little babies; I’d like to be able to stay home & take care of my home & family!

G&G: Hey, are your palms sweating? 

Natalie: Not in the slightest.

G&G: Is this too much like a job interview?

Natalie: Not even remotely; far less stressful.

G&G: GREAT! On with the questions! What's your favorite holiday tradition - whether Thanksgiving, Christmas, Halloween, Easter, etc.?

Natalie: CHRISTMAS! I love everything about Christmas but the best tradition is how my family celebrates Christmas Eve! We all go to church together on Christmas Eve night to take part in the Lord’s Supper as a family & then we go back to my Uncle & Aunt’s house to have a little party, complete with tons of delicious Christmas goodies & a rousing round of Dirty Santa. We’ve done this for as long as I can remember…I don’t remember a time when we didn’t do this & there are pictures to prove it; pictures that date back years and years. Oh – and then my family goes home & watches White Christmas. Sorry – I rambled a little.

G&G: That's okay. Rambling rocks. It's why I have a blog. What's the best thing you ever ate? (if you want to pick one or two, that is fine. Indecisive peeps YEAH!)

Natalie: I have no idea! I love to eat & I’m finding new & delicious things daily. I will say that I love anything that has cheese involved & if it’s of the Italian or Mexican variety, I’m always in.

G&G: Picture it: We're at a coffee shop. We sit down {or get in line} to order. Where are we and what are you having? 

Natalie: Probably at Starbucks, but it would be neat if we were at a little hole in the wall type place – they tend to have the best stuff. I’d be getting something flavored: a vanilla latte, a caramel macchiato, a peppermint mocha. It’s never just plain coffee!

G&G: Oooh fun. Hey can we sit on the couches? Starbucks couches are pretty much the best things ever. Besides coffee, I mean. 


G&G: What things are you most interested in and why? Fashion, cooking, acting, reading, playing with messenger pigeons, etc?

Natalie: I find myself very interested in movies, TV and books; I really like entertainment in any form & it shows if you’ve ever been to my house. I have shelves and shelves of books, movies and TV on DVD. Playing with messenger pigeons…or birds in general; that’s a huge NO.

G&G: I'm glad I'm not the only one that's slightly okay MAJORLY creeped out by birds. They give me the shivers, man. What's your all-time favorite outfit?

Natalie: I don’t know that I have one. I do love jeans and cardigans for the cooler months and dresses of all types in warmer months; I may have a favorite outfit in the making…but I’ll have to wait till Christmas to unwrap part of it.

G&G: Check out your iPhone. What types of pictures take up MOST of your photo storage? 

Natalie: I don’t even have to look to know this one: my phone is filled with pictures of my dog, Watson and pictures of me with my friend’s kids – since I’m my church’s nursery coordinator, I take lots of those.

G&G: What's on your radio/in your car CD player/on your iPod right now?

Natalie: I haven’t turned on my radio in ages…so no clue. My car CD player has the Game of Thrones soundtrack (from season three to be precise) in it & my iPod on my phone is paused on a song from the soundtrack to the TV series Sherlock. I like instrumental music.

G&G: And finally...the age-old question...Coke or Pepsi? 

Natalie: COKE! Always COKE!

G&G: You know what, Natalie? I lied about what I said earlier. THAT is the wrong answer. Sorry, chica. Pepsi wins every time. Oh well. At least we had coffee. Even if it was invisible.

Thanks for playing along, blog peoples! And Natalie, I still like you even though you like Coke =)

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The First Thing I Cooked as a Mrs.

Oh boy, peoples. Winter has arrived.

Over the span of approximately two weeks we experienced some lovely Fall weather, only to grab our jackets and scarves to brave the sudden onset of winter!

It's like they say -- If you don't like the weather in Mississippi, it's okay - it'll change in a few days anyway.

But you know what? I like it. I don't mind it one bit.

It's given me reason to bust out my warm comfy clothes (hellooooo stretchy pants and hoodies!), my favorite soup and comfort food recipes, and Bing Crosby's version of "It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas."

I broke my own rule this year!!! I normally avoid Christmas music until Thanksgiving but this year --- nah! I'm taking a walk on the WILD SIDE and listening two weeks BEFORE!


But with the weather changing and whatnot, I thought this would be as good a time as any to tell you the story of the first thing I cooked for my husband after returning from our honeymoon:

Homemade Chicken Soup with Veggies

Not exactly what we planned, seeing as how we returned to 80-degree heat and boxes upon boxes of belongings to move into our place, but it worked.

You see, after a lovely honeymoon of things like this:


and THIS...

...We both woke up in the wee hours of the morning feeling some kind of sick. The Plane Crud, as I have oh-so-lovingly deemed it.

"Juuuuicce!!!!"  The Mister said, unable to breathe through his nose and coughing up a storm. "I just need some juice!"

So off we went, at roughly 5:30 a.m., to the nearby grocery store to buy juice, popsicles, and medicine.

...only to find out it didn't open until 6 a.m.

But could we wait that long? Nope. When you're sick, you just need juice. PRONTO.

So we hit the road again, a few miles down the road to the WalMarts, which, mind you, is slightly creepy at that hour of the morning.

That's when it hit me. Somewhere in the depths of my messy box of recipe cards, I remembered there was a recipe for homemade chicken soup guaranteed to make any sick person feel better - the chef himself said so!

So about 45 minutes later, we loaded our car with WAY MORE bags than we planned (crazy WalMart curse!), and a few bottles of juice that we cracked open on the way home.

Sure, it would have been faster and cheaper to go with a can, but the over-achiever in me was NOT about to let the first thing I cooked for my new husband be a can of soup. That's for amateurs, right?

It's probably for people like us that day that were sick and just really needed soup -- and maybe I should have, but I'm not ashamed! Because truth be told, we both felt better by that evening.

And the soup was delicious. No joke.

So now that you know my little story, and now that you're feeling the first chills of the winter season, I present to you The Recipe...this homemade chicken soup sure to cure any cold you may have.

Or at least make it easier to deal with, anyway.

Even if you're not sick, it's definitely good for your tummy on cold nights. Don't be afraid to add more veggies than what the recipe calls for -- I usually eyeball it anyway. The more veggies, the better!

Just give yourself a good hour to prep/cook it, though. It's totally worth it.

...and don't forget the juice =)

Homemade Chicken Soup with Veggies

Serves 2-4 sick folks
Total time: About 1 hour
View original recipe here

1-2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (depending on size) - cooked and cut into chunks
2 cups of low-sodium chicken broth, plus one extra cup
3 red potatoes
1 cup milk (skim is best, but whole will work fine)
1/2 tbsp of EVOO
1-2 tbsp of garlic powder, depending on taste
2 whole carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
chopped onion or onion powder, to taste (I used about 1.5 tbsp)
1 tbsp basil
2 tbsp oregano
dash of cayenne pepper, to taste
dash of Tony's, to taste

Slice potatoes and place in a small sauce pan with chicken broth. Cook until potatoes are soft enough to mash, then remove potatoes. Stir and slightly mash potatoes in a bowl with milk (I left mine slightly chunky) and set aside.

In a separate, larger pot, place oil, garlic, onion, veggies, basil and oregano and cook until onions are translucent. If using onion powder, cook until celery and carrots are slightly soft. Add leftover chicken broth (from potatoes), stirring until thoroughly mixed. Let this mixture come to a boil, then add your milk and potato mixture. This will make the soup much thicker; if you prefer a more brothy soup, add the extra cup of broth. Let soup cook for 5-10 minutes, or until everything is evenly mixed and combined.

Add a dash of cayenne pepper and a little Tony's (helps with a stuffy nose!) and serve hot. Serve alone or over brown rice.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Friday Fun Time

1) Yesterday at work I tapped my computer screen with my index finger to prevent it from going to sleep.

"You have a touch-screen computer monitor???"...you may ask?

Why no...no I don't. I just spend insane amounts of time on my iPhone.


2) I am reallllllly digging the Coffee Mate Thin Mint coffee creamer these days. I've mentioned it before, but I just can't help it. It's just that good, man. I've drunk more cups of coffee this week than I have over the past month. No joke. It's just that good, man.

3) It's been a feel-good week. See #2 for explanation.

4) On Wednesday I drove a co-worker down the street to run an errand. About halfway through our drive, I realized I was singing "Brick House" out loud, along with the radio. There may or may not have been steering-wheel-dancing involved. Then I remembered I was not alone in the car. I turned to the right, only to meet my co-worker's blank stare.

"I love 'Brick House,'" said I.

"Wow," said Co-Worker.

"Do YOU love 'Brick House'?" I said.


I turned the radio off and changed the subject.

5) This morning on my way to work (post-coffee, obvi) "Brick House" repeated itself. Singing and steering-wheel-dancing ensued once more. I'm not sorry.

Apparently that's my jam, man.

6) My parents are on vacation this week, and I believe they have sent me enough pictures (via text) to start their own Instagram account. I don't think I'll suggest it. That would be weird. HAHAHAHA.

7) This year was the first year that I didn't sit and watch the CMAs whilst tweeting about it no less than 5 times a minute. It felt odd. Is this what happens when you get old?

8) This week alone I have thought about completely changing careers approximately 37 times. I'm happy in my field. I just like to think I'm multi-passionate and extremely curious. Is this what happens when you're closing out your twenties?

9) I turned a year older last week. It felt weird. And I feel different. And I'm listening to old music (see #4) AND this week I've had minor FREAK OUT moments where I get this fear that I'm too old to do lots of things I enjoy and/or hope to do. I'm also too old for some of the clothes in my closet. And I'm ready to go to bed at 8:30pm. This is weird. Cue the Quarter Life Crisis (see #'s 7 & 8 for proof. It's a real thing, people!)!

10) It's Friday. And I hope it's lovely for you, friends.

"And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another,
even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you."
Ephesians 4:32

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Homestyle Chicken 'n' Biscuits

Ladies and gentlemen, fall has descended upon us.

Look at that. Beee-youu-tee-fulllll.

When you live in the South - this beautiful, beautiful place - you know fall is near when the temp hits 69. When it hits 64, like today -- suddenly everything is better. People are happier, traffic is nicer (okay maybe not), everything just seems...right. Except the fact that stores have already decked their halls for Christmas. Is that odd to anyone else? But regardless...

I'm going to need fall to stick around for a few more months, yes? Yes.

I think we can all agree that with fall time comes some of the best food around. With the chill in the air and the excitement of the coming holidays and celebrations, I can't help but just want "real food."

My appetite has been wack lately - WACK, I say! Usually I'm all about the salads and the green smoothies with a side of quinoa and steamed veggies. But since the season began, all I want is the GOOD STUFF - comfort food like hearty soups and stews (thanks Natalie!!!!) and the like.

I'm even putting cheese on my veggies. WHAAATT????

I think I just like to feel warm and cozy from the inside out.

...And what better way to do that than curling up on the couch with a quilt, a Hallmark movie (or some Big Bang Theory...you choose ;) ), and a bowl of hot, fresh-out-of-the-oven Chicken 'n' Biscuits????

Oh my gracious. Just looking at it again makes my stomach growl. I've said it before, but I really, really mean it this time...THIS is comfort food at its finest.

Actually, I really, really meant it the last time I said it, too. And every other time before that.

I always mean what I say when I tell you things, invisible blog friends.

Always, always, always.

Honesty is the best policy =)

Truth? I've never made chicken and biscuits. I don't know if I've ever eaten it, honestly. I was raised a chicken & dumplins girl and thought that chicken and biscuits was just a knock off.

But no, friends. Yesterday, for some reason it was all I could think about. I had to try it. HAD TO.

And I'm not sorry.

Like, at all.

It does take a little time, but this recipe is super simple and flavorful - I actually used canned buttermilk biscuits (a rarity for me) to save time, and I won't change a thing when I make it again! It's chock full of veggie goodness, too, so you don't have to feel too guilty. It will make your tummy so, so happy - guaranteed.

As for the chicken, I used chicken legs but you could easily substitute thighs, or even skinless chicken breasts if that's what you have on hand. I highly recommend dark meat for this one, though - it really adds to the flavor of the dish.

We ate this last night alongside some broccoli that I sprinkled with garlic and baked in the oven. Delish. I highly recommend!

I hope you'll give this a try - and that it warms you up from the inside out as the temperatures begin to drop a little further :)

Homestyle Chicken 'n' Biscuits

Lightly adapted from The Novice Chef blog
Serves 4

What You'll Need:

2.5 tbsp stick butter/margarine, chopped
1 tbsp onion, chopped fine
2 tsp garlic powder (not garlic salt)
1 bag frozen veggies (I used a broccoli, cauliflower, and carrot combo), thawed
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 medium potato, cubed
2-3 chicken legs or thighs
1/2 cup flour
2 cups milk
1.5 cups chicken broth (left over from your chicken)
Small can buttermilk biscuits (I used the 5 count)
Zero fat cooking spray or less than a tsp of butter
Paprika - optional

What You'll Do:

Place chicken in a pot with hot water, add salt and pepper to taste, then cook until completely done. Pull or cut into small pieces and set aside.

Chop potato and boil until cooked, about 10 minutes, depending on size. Meanwhile, in a separate larger pot or Dutch oven, melt butter and add onion, celery, and garlic powder. Saute for 3-4 minutes, then add your veggies: broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots. Add potato once cooked.

Stir veggies to ensure they are covered with butter and garlic mixture. Add flour and stir constantly for about 2 minutes so that everything is completely covered. Add milk a little at a time, continuing to stir until completely mixed.

Spoon in chicken broth until mixture is creamy and slightly soupy, but not to point of it becoming too broth-y. Add chicken and stir, adding salt, pepper, garlic and/or paprika to taste.

Rub a thin layer of butter on the bottom of a casserole dish (or spray with cooking spray) to prevent sticking, then arrange biscuits. Bake according to directions, but take out of oven after half the time (i.e., if directions call for 12 minutes of baking, take biscuits out after 6 minutes).

Once biscuits are halfway cooked, take dish out of the oven and pour chicken mixture on top, spreading evenly. Return the dish to oven and bake at 375 for 15-20 minutes.