Saturday, August 30, 2014

BRB - Game Day Central

Short post today!

Because I have to get back to watching my Eagles :)

I married a Mississippi State graduate. I get it. I like State. Hubs and I consider ourselves to "be on each other's team" - and since I graduated from Southern Miss (C-USA), this is usually not a problem.

But TODAY....


Today Southern Miss faces off with Mississippi State - for the first time in roughly 30 years (give or take a few years).


Sorry, State.

I'm a Southern Miss girl through and through.

I graduated from Southern Miss...TWICE. 


I worked for the University while in grad school, and my first full-time job was at Southern Miss.

I was in love with Football and Baseball season.

And my brother is currently on the football coaching staff at Southern Miss.

UPDATE: I just saw him on TV! #proudsister


Regardless of the outcome tonight, I still wear my black and gold with pride.


...and likely a big goofy expression on my face.

Now if you'll excuse me, the smack talk has already started in our household.


Friday, August 29, 2014

The Best Friday

Fridays are wonderful. Just wonderful. But tonight - OH tonight. It beats them all.

Tonight my parents were able to drive up to The City to visit us - it's the first time since we moved into our new place that they've been able to make it here, and we had the best time :)

It was also the first time Hubs and I have cooked for them since we've been married - so it was nice to place host/hostess to them!

I didn't take many pictures because HELLO FAMILY. They only live about three hours away but...for someone who grew up surrounded by basically her entire family (me), three hours is too far. So, typically, when Hubs and I visit family, the phones are usually on silent or out of sight. It's a beautiful thang AMEN? ;)

However, I DO wish I would have taken pictures of our food. After some appetizers of mozzarella stuffed mushrooms (recipe below - these are always a HUGE hit with my family!), we inhaled some crazy good spaghetti with semi-homemade sauce, fresh steamed green beans, Texas toast, and one of our favorite desserts: Cream Puffs.

Ohhhh the Cream Puffs. I want them all. All over again. All of the days.

Our bellies were full, our hearts are full, and it's just been a wonderful evening. There's something about some REAL family time that seems to recharge our batteries and make everything ten times better.

Ben picked up a Coke after work tonight (we usually only keep water in the house #treat), and it pretty much sums it up.

I couldn't agree more.

So now I'm currently curled up on our couch watching Everybody Loves Raymond with my love and trying DESPERATELY to get Tay Tay's new song out of my head.

...because now it's in yours too :) YA WELCOME!

P.S. Tomorrow Mississippi State plays Southern Miss in college football for the first time in about 34 years. Hubs graduated from State, I graduated from Southern. Tomorrow's household will prove to be QUITE interesting. I'm pumped! Bring it. Merherher. #SMTTT

P.P.S. Last time this game happened, Southern Miss won. That's all I will say about that because IT'S ON!


{Imagine a delicious-looking picture here}
{{Seriously. You'd want to lick the screen had I posted one}}
{{{Serve this as an appetizer at your next shin-dig or get-together. #megahit}}}

Mozzarella Stuffed Mushrooms
(Serves 2-4 as an appetizer)


What you'll need:

1 package of white-button mushrooms (or other variety of small mushrooms)
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp of garlic powder
1/2 tsp of onion powder
1/2 tsp oregano*
1/2 tsp basil*
1 ball of fresh mozzarella cheese (other types can be substituted: brie, goat, etc.)
*you can substitute these with Italian seasoning
What you'll do:
Twist stems off of mushrooms and rinse thoroughly. In a skillet, heat oil to medium heat. Sprinkle in garlic, onion, and oregano and sauté for about 30 seconds. Add in mushroom caps and toss to coat. Allow caps to sauté for about 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
Pinch off sections of mozzarella ball small (or large) enough to fill the center of each mushroom cap. Don't be afraid to really stuff the caps - I like to let the cheese overflow a bit for more "gooey-ness." Top with oregano and basil (or Italian seasoning) to taste, then bake for roughly 7 minutes or until cheese has thoroughly melted. Serve warm and enjoy!


Earlier this week, my friend Lauren challenged me to the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.

Side note: Extreme Southern accent ahead. Since marrying my husband I'm convinced it's grown even stronger (AAAAH). I opted to spare you from the twangfest and show you the condensed version of the video. YA WELCOME.

Side note #2: #HailState. Until tomorrow when they play my beloved Eagles, that is.

Well, none of those I challenged in this video have blogs - so I'm issuing a NEW challenge to my bloggy friends!

Whether you read this blog or not (and it's TOTALLY okay if you don't, but you're AWESOME if you do!) --- you have OFFICIALLY been challenged and have 48 hours from the time you read this to complete it.

That's right!

Natalie - I'm talking to YOU!
Lindsey S. (aka BEAST) - Get ready to get soaked!
Ginger - I've read your comments!
and Jessica - YEP. You and James. GET IT!

Consider yourself CHALLENGED.

And on a very sincere note - I love that this challenge has brought so much awareness to ALS. I have a close family friend that has been living with it for over 7 years now, and the strength that he and his family have found in God through all of this is awe-inspiring. So along with all of the fun, excitement, laughs, and ICE that comes along as these challenges continue, please say a prayer for those that live with this disease every day. Pray that they and their families will find strength, comfort, peace, and healing, and that one day {soon} there will be a cure in this world.

That's all for now! I'll be back later today with another update!

Happy Friday, friends!

Monday, August 25, 2014

A List for Monday

So I blinked and apparently it's Monday?

Actually, as I type this, it's nearing the end of the workday, so it's basically Tuesday.

Which means we're almost to the weekend guys!!!


As you'll find out soon enough, I'm pretty caffeinated - thanks to the coffee shop that considers a 16-ounce cup a size "small" (!!!!!!!) - and therefore have failed miserably at conjuring up one nice, evenly-flowing, beautifully worded post. So here I present to you the ping-pong thoughts bouncing around in my mind at the moment!

ONE. As I've mentioned before, Hubs and I are training for the St. Jude Half Marathon in Memphis coming up in December. Saturday we met up with a few of our teammates and knocked out a GORGEOUS 5-mile run on a paved trail just outside of The City. While normally I cringe at getting up before 7am at 5:15 am EVER on a Saturday, I actually was really excited and ready to rock when the alarm went off that morning. #loverunning

YES - I am THAT GIRL who (occasionally) snaps pictures while running. But, I mean, can you see my point? Just look at that view (and the SHADE!) and imagine running with a beautiful sunrise. Plus, it felt AMAZING outside at that time of morning.


Pre-103 degree heat index :)

Side note: As a running team leading up to the race, we've pledged to raise some dollars for the St. Jude Heroes program. Everything we raise will go directly to St. Jude Children's Hospital. If you're curious about it or interested in donating, you can do so on our page HERE. There's no pressure - just throwing it out there!

TWO. Although I've frequently mentioned my love of brunch, I'm not a particularly huge fan of breakfast food. But after our run on Saturday, we decided to refuel with some breakfast at a new-to-us place nearby - and I was thoroughly impressed. Egg white omelet with goat cheese, tomatoes, and spinach? SOLD.

...and I could talk for hours about the coffee (BONUS POINTS for the fun mug). I'm already ready to go back :)

THREE. The "Save the Undies" ad has been popping up on my Spotify playlist DAILY for about a week now. I don't mind the ads, but it can be PRETTY odd when my {male} co-workers walk by and there's THIS giant of an add taking up my screen. Can't help but chuckle just a little ;) Especially when I'm jamming out RIGHT in the middle of some Shane and Shane.

Somehow those two things just don't seem to go together. #awkwardlaughter

FOUR. I had to run an errand during lunch today, so while I was out I splurged with a little treat from one of my favorite little coffee places :)

I think it was called the Mt. Rainer or something about a mountaintop --- but it basically tastes like a liquid Andes Mint. Oh my YUM. Yes indeed. Plus the "small" option was a 16-ounce cup. Jittery much????? :)

FIVE. I pulled a muscle in my lower back yesterday and apparently this has turned me into an ancient old lady. Grocery shopping last night was WILDLY entertaining, as was getting in and out of the car this morning. I'm convinced that I'm roughly two-point-five applications of IcyHot away from having to balance myself on a cane just to get around. Some things aren't pretty but slightly entertaining.

SIX. And now that's practically Friday again (ha), I'll leave you on a positive note and a song in your heart. I'm completely loving these songs right now and simply cannot get enough of them. There's such a wonderful message in both of them. Enjoy, friends. And Happy Monday :)

K-LOVE Fan Awards: Songs of the Year (by Anthem Lights) - 2014 Mash-Up

Friday, August 22, 2014

Amazing Coconut Shrimp

Folks - it's the WEEKEND (finally) and this party is about to get started!!!!!!

I'm ridiculously pumped to share this recipe with you - it's pretty much the perfect food to close out the summer.


A couple of weeks ago, I was trying to plan out our Sunday lunch and I was coming up with NOTHING. This was smack dab in the middle of my cooking rut (remember the Jello incident?), and there was not one thing that came to mind that sounded even remotely appetizing. I pretty much spent that entire Saturday night immersed in our favorite cookbooks, magazines, blogs and even Pinterest to get some sort of idea but NOPE - nothing.

I can't exactly let go of these sorts of things. When it comes to food, I MUST have a PLAN. ICANTLETGO.

Which explains why I was up until 1 a.m. reading cookbooks from cover to cover.

All I kept thinking about was how bad I wanted to go back to the beach. Because can we agree that the beach pretty much has some of the best food ever?

And the best views, obvi.

As thoughts of the beach kept creeping into my mind, my tastebuds started longing for something...seafood-y. Which led to shrimp. Which made me think of the time I ordered coconut shrimp at Margaritaville once in college.

Light bulb.

After much MUCH research (I had high standards, you see. Merher), I stumbled on the Crème de la Crumb blog ---- and her AMAZING recipe for coconut shrimp tacos.

Even better? It was an EASY 30-minute recipe from start to finish, practical ingredients, and...wait for it....BAKED.

Nope - not fried and unhealthy --- BAKED.

It's an explosion of all kinds of goodness that parties all night long on your tastebuds. Seriously -- the flavors are OUT. OF. THIS. WORLD.

And don't even get me STARTED on THE SAUCE. The sauce is just...indescribable.


Probably my favorite thing that's come out of our kitchen since the beginning. And I'm not even exaggerating.

We ate it alongside some fresh homemade guacamole, lime and cilantro-seasoned black beans, and fresh corn. It was PERFECT.

In fact, we enjoyed the shrimp so much we kept forgetting we actually had tortillas to make tacos. I think we both just kind of dove in to the shrimp alone after only one taco.

But hey - whatever works AMIRIGHT?????

Just writing about this dish has me excited all over again. The results were even better than I anticipated, and I'm completely convinced it's what pulled me out of my crazy boring rut.

Your summer probably won't be complete until you make this. It takes a little bit of prep work (and only a few dishes ;) ) but it's totally worth it. Trust me on this, okay?

You'll love it. And then we can be completely obsessed with it together.

Happy obsessing!

Crispy Coconut Shrimp with Sweet Sauce

Serves 2-4
(adapted from Crème de la Crumb)
What you'll need:
1 lb shrimp (fresh or frozen), peeled and de-veined with tails removed
4 eggs
4 tbsp water
1/2 cup flour
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
2 cups coconut flakes (I used a whole bag, which ended up being slightly more than 2 cups)
1 cup coconut milk
juice of 1 lime
2 tbsp white vinegar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 tsp chili powder
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp finely chopped cilantro (or more, if you prefer #iheartcilantro)
a few dashes of your favorite hot sauce
What you'll do:
Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray and set aside.
Combine eggs and water in a small bowl and whisk until smooth and combined. In a separate bowl, mix flour, garlic powder, chili powder, and cayenne. Pour coconut flakes into another bowl.
Line your bowls in this order: flour, eggs/water, coconut.
Toss shrimp in flour mixture, dredge in egg mixture, then coat with coconut flakes - in that order.
Line shrimp on baking sheet, then bake at 400 for about 15 minutes or until shrimp are thoroughly cooked and coconut flakes start to turn a "golden brown" color.
While shrimp are baking, combine all sauce ingredients in a small bowl and whisk until combined. Place in refrigerator to chill until time to serve.
These shrimp taste excellent by themselves or on a taco with fresh salsa (I recommend either pineapple or mango salsa), guac, and fresh cilantro. Use the sauce as a dipping sauce, or drizzle on a taco. Either way, you can't go wrong with these babies. They're AMAZING.
Kudos to Tiffany from Crème de la Crumb for developing this recipe - go check out her GORGEOUS pictures, too!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Toasty Ham Sandwiches

Super Simple Supper Alert!

And it's delicious.

Trust me on this, okay?


Which means it's almost Thursday, so it's basically Friday right?



Seriously CAN. NOT. WAIT.



And these incredible buns of glory!

NO that's not the name of my future workout video - it's what I call THESE BABIES:

The magic is in the bread -- I LOVE Kings Hawaiian Sweet Rolls. THEY are what really make the dish. Seriously - can we just take a moment to relish the mere SIGHT of these things?

If you've never tried these babies, please know that they will change your life and your expectations of bread forEVER. You just HAVE to.

One of my co-workers found the key to my heart a few weeks ago and handed me this recipe, declaring it was a huge hit with her family. I tweaked it slightly because I'm AWESOME like that and NO REGRETS. Hubs and I devoured them at suppertime and had to straight up put them in the fridge and OUT OF SIGHT before we ate them all.

Thankfully, we were able to devour them yet again at lunch the next day. If ever there was a sandwich you'd want to eat again and again, believe you me THIS IS IT.

Am I being slightly dramatic considering this is a SANDWICH? And a MINI SANDWICH at that?


But just you wait 'enry 'iggins. Just. You. Wait.

You'll fall in love too.

Toasty Ham Sandwiches

Serves 2-4
(leftovers for 2)

Pack of 12 dinner rolls (King's Hawaiian if you're awesome)
1/2 to 3/4 stick of butter or margarine, melted
1 tbsp dijon mustard
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce (<- how DO you say that?)
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1-2 tbsp poppy seeds (your preference)
1 pack of thinly sliced honey ham
1 pack of provolone cheese

Spray a baking pan or casserole dish with non-stick spray or lightly rub with a little butter/margarine. Separate rolls and line pan with the bottom portions - rolls should be close together. Layer with ham, cheese, then more ham. Top with the top layers of bread (it's okay if rolls are touching!). 

Mix remaining ingredients, then pour evenly over rolls. Back at 350 for roughly 15 minutes or until cheese is melted. Dinner is done!

Fun option: Spread dijon mustard on the rolls before layering ham and cheese. YUM!

I want them IN MY BELLY.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Monday Mushroom Pizzas

I told you I started cooking again --- and here's the proof!

Invisible Internet Friends...I give you:

Portobella Mushroom Pizzas!

Although I've tweaked it a little, I can't exactly take complete credit for this one. It's actually a recipe from when I worked on THIS SHOW way back when. It was one of my favorites of that season and I make it at least once or twice a month. It's boy-approved, too, because the Hubs LOVES it.

It's so super simple to make, and what takes the longest is just cleaning out the 'bellas.

Which, let's be honest, cleaning two of them takes about two minutes, tops.

Fast supper? Coming right up.

I've used both chopped fresh tomatoes and canned diced tomatoes, depending on what I have on hand (sometimes a combination!) - and both will work fine. Occasionally I'll have leftover sauce and I'll put it over fish or chicken or whole wheat pasta the next day, and it still tastes just as good!

And BONUS POINTS because it's super healthy and tastes like delicious little drops of fungi.

Too far? Yeah, probably. But trust me on this. You'll love it.

At least I hope so.

You won't regret it!

And a little birdie once told me this is a gluten-free recipe. If you're into that sort of thing. So try it out! It'll be fun :)

Portobella Mushroom Pizzas

Serves 2

What you'll need:
2 medium-sized portobella mushrooms
2 whole tomatoes (or 1 can of low-sodium diced tomatoes)
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil (separate from previous)
1 tsp garlic powder (NOT salt!)
half tsp garlic powder (separate)
1 tsp onion powder (NOT salt!)
half tsp onion powder (separate)
2 tsp tomato paste (tomato sauce will work, too!)
1 tbsp water
2 tbsp part-skim mozzarella cheese
cracked red pepper, to taste
black pepper, to taste
dash of cayenne pepper
dash of oregano
dash of basil

What you'll do:
Clean the mushrooms by first twisting off the stems (set these aside), then using a spoon to gently scrape off the gills (you won't need these). Rinse thoroughly. Heat 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil in a skillet on medium heat and sprinkle in garlic and onion powder. Sauté mushrooms in mixture for 2-3 minutes (longer if needed), flipping to give both sides flavor.

In a separate skillet, heat 1 tsp oil on medium heat with half a tsp of garlic and onion powder. Once heated, add diced tomatoes and stir until lightly coated in oil mixture. Let simmer, adding 1 tbsp water as tomatoes begin to cook down. NOTE: You may need an additional tbsp of water, depending on the consistency you prefer for your sauce. Add cracked red pepper, black pepper, and cayenne pepper to taste and stir. Turn heat to low once you've reached your preferred consistency and taste.

Meanwhile, remove mushrooms from skillet and place in a baking dish or cookie tray. Keep heat on skillet medium low. Chop the stems that you removed earlier and sauté in leftover oil in skillet. If you need to add a little more, add about half a tsp at this point.

While stems are cooking, assemble your "pizzas." Place 1-2 tbsp of sauce on the bowl side of mushrooms, then add a sprinkle of mozzarella cheese. Add mushroom stems and top with a dash of oregano and basil. Bake at 350 for about 15 minutes or until cheese is completely melted.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Crock Pot Pulled Chicken

It's FRIDAY!!!

And I'm still only slightly in denial that it's not quite 5:00 yet ------ My brain prettttty much checked out at lunchtime.


...unless you don't count the Crock Pot as "cooking" - but since it DOES taking some planning and preparation, I definitely do.

This is the easiest recipe EVER. No joke. I just made this yesterday so it's perfect for the weekend when you'd rather be outside enjoying the beautiful weather rather than cooking!

It's also a HUGE HELP for the days that you know will be long and tiring - much like yesterday was for us! We didn't get home until after 8:30 last night - so the fact that supper was ready and waiting on us was a delicious RELIEF.

If you don't know me, then you must know this: I love BBQ. As in, ABSOLUTELY LOVE it.

I've never made pulled chicken or pork before now because it just seemed like a long, drawn-out process, but when Julie of PBfingers posted her easy Crock Pot method, I couldn't believe I'd never tried it before.

I used two legs and two thighs (dark meat YEAH), but you could easily sub chicken breasts if that's what you have on hand.

I let the chicken thaw out overnight, so all I had to do in the morning was put it in with two cans of chicken broth and some seasoning and turned it on Low. It only needs 8 hours to cook, but the longer it cooks, the juicer it gets, and the more it falls apart! Side note: We were gone for over 12 hours yesterday --- so that chicken was TENDER.

Once we got home, I just drained the chicken, separated it a little more, and mixed it with some fabulous BBQ sauce. Done.

Hubs and I are currently on a quest to find the best BBQ sauces around, so about once a month we'll grab a new brand to try. This month's challenger:

Sticky Fingers Carolina Sweet! At this point, it's the one to beat. It's sweet, but it's got a nice kick to where it's just a little hot, but not so much so that you can't enjoy the flavor. My kind of sauce, exactly! :) You can guarantee there WILL be more in our future.

Side note: The runner up at this point is Cheerwine BBQ sauce that a friend of ours gave us a few months back. Hubs lived in North Carolina for awhile (where Cheerwine is made), so he's QUITE the fan. ((We even toasted with it at our wedding!))

((We toasted with Cheerwine, not with the BBQ sauce))

((Although that would have been delicious))

We grabbed a few slices of the Nature's Own Sandwich Rounds and made BBQ Pulled Chicken sandwiches (less calories = more room for MORE BBQ!) - and it pretty much blew my mind at how delicious it was. I even added some dijon mustard for an extra splash of flavor. YUM.

Bottom line: I HIGHLY recommend that you do this sometime in the near future. You shan't regret it - unless you're allergic to chicken or awesomeness or something.

Now let's celebrate because IT'S FRIDAY and the kitchen is my friend again!!!!!

Crock Pot Pulled Chicken

From the PBfingers blog
Serves 2-4 hungry folks

What you'll need:
Chicken - breast, thighs, legs, etc. (I used 2 thighs, 2 legs)
2 cans of low sodium chicken broth
2 cups (at least) of your favorite BBQ sauce
Seasonings of your choice (I used salt, pepper, and Tony's)

What you'll do:
Thaw chicken completely and place in a crock pot. Season to taste, then cover in chicken broth. Cook on LOW for 8-12 hours. Remove chicken (be sure to pick out the bones!) and place in serving dish. Pull apart with tongs or a fork, then cover with your favorite BBQ sauce. The more sauce, the better!

Tastes great on a warm bun with dijon mustard and a dash of hot sauce!


What are your recommendations for our BBQ sauce tasting????

Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Final Product

So LAST WEEK - I finished a month-long course in basic cake decorating (!!!!) - and it was all kinds of fun. On Monday night I wanted to practice and prep so I would feel a leeeetle more comfortable in class on Tuesday, plus it helped me determine my strong points so I COULD WIN.

Just kidding. There was no contest or winners. We weren't even graded or given a Pass/Fail.

But the teacher liked mine best so WIN!!!!!

Actually, she never exactly said that OUT LOUD, per se...but I could tell. I could totally tell. For. Realz.

Sooooo this here is the practice cake --- I couldn't decide between the stars-slash-tiny-flowers look or big luscious roses, so I just divided it up and went for both.

As we can see here, this side was pretty girly and ever so slightly lame but HEY roses = icing so YES.

Plus the icing colors worked out really well. Neon Food Coloring FOR THE WIN.

And as we can CLEARLY see -- my "cascading" stars-slash-let's-pretend-they're-tiny-flowers look didn't QUITE pan out. But it was actually fun just piling on the icing.

So, since I only slightly failed at the flowery look, I threw on some sprinkles and called it a night. Because sprinkles make everything better. EVERYTHING.

...despite the aftermath in our tiny kitchen.

By Tuesday night, I was amped and ready to go -- I shared a table with one other girl during class and we had equipment and tools GALORE. It took me the entire two-hour class, but I finished and was actually really happy with the final product!

My only reservation was that, at some point in the mixing process, I got a little too happy with the green  coloring. So rather than a calming meadow green it came out rather hunter green. But hey, we'll just pretend it's garden cake!

Grass looks appetizing right?

Oh, and I overestimated the size of my cake and made WAY too many roses -- but they did turn out pretty and shiny, and that was exciting :)


For the rest of the week, we had CAKE. FOR. DAYS. DAYS, I tell you!

And while that's never a bad thing for cake-lovers such as myself and the Mister, having THREE CAKES in ONE KITCHEN seemed a little much.

((...I made an extra cake the night before just in case something happened to my cake in class))


Thankfully, the Mister's co-workers were gracious enough to devour one cake, we did some SIGNIFICANT damage to another one at home, and the extra one - well, it wasn't exactly wrapped properly and grew stale kind of quickly.

Works for me! #lesscalories

At some point in the future I'm hoping to take the next level course - so who knows WHAT we'll get ourselves into next????

Also --- with all the cake behind us, I've actually been able to cook again! I've got a quite a few recipes up my sleeve and can't wait to share!

I'm off for a quick workout! Hollaaaaaaaaa!!!!!!