Saturday, December 29, 2012

Christmas Morning!!

Once again, sorry for the belated Christmas posts!! But better late then never right?  This year, Stephen and I have been blessed to be in NC with my family so I thought it would be fun to share some pictures! Hope your holiday celebrations were just as fun!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Christmas Eve Dinner

So I know I am a couple days behind for a Christmas Eve post...but with all of the celebrations I just couldn't find time to write! Anyways, enough with the excuses... this year for the 24th my family was all together and planning on a traditional dinner for just us but were blessed at the last minute with the arrival of some family friends!  Luckily my parents always prepare more food than necessary :)  We had a rather eclectic array of dishes which only served to make the evening all the more fun!! 

My lovely sister!!
Also a family tradition is the presence of red meat during the Holidays.  I am usually not a big fan but my dad did an excellent job on this roast beef.
A little table decor
My plate: Pineapple, Raspberries, Tatsiki, Hummus, Tabouleh, Roast Beef and Green Beans

UNC Basketball

Hello! For part of my younger brothers Christmas gift this year, Stephen and I bought tickets to a UNC vs. McNeese State.  My bros loved it, UNC won and I got some sweet pics of the campus (all around a pretty sweet day!!)

The UNC Bell Tower

Stephen and my two younger brothers :)

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Meet Charlie!

Merry Christmas!! Stephen and I have been spending the holidays in North Carolina and we have been super busy!! But even with all the holiday gift shopping and celebrating the birth of Christ we have managed to have a little bit of fun;) For today's post I wanted to share some cute pictures of my family's new dog! His name is Charlie (and although he remains un-potty trained) he is quite the charmer! (DISCLAIMER: I apologize in advance for the many photos attached...he is just too cute!)

Friday, December 14, 2012

Peppermint Bark

For today's post, I wanted to share another "Christmass" recipe that I decided to try for the first time last night....Peppermint Bark!! Let me preface this by saying I am especially proud of this recipe because 1. I had to make no less than 4 separate trips to the grocery store due to my inability to read a simple list :) 2. I tried to temper the chocolate using a glass bowl (WARNING: NEVER DO THIS) inevitably it shattered and made a HUGE mess and 3. I didn't realize how super time sensitive this recipe is so learn from my mistake and plan ahead!! On to the recipe!!!

About 16 oz. Semi-sweet Chocolate
About 10 oz. White chocolate (use a really high quality it pays off!)
About half a bag of peppermint white chocolate kisses
Peppermint Extract

What You Will Need:
1 cookie sheet 
Waxed paper
A heat-resistant bowl

First, set a sauce-pan (or pot) on the stove with a couple of cups of water and bring to a simmer.  Just as a warning don't let the water get too hot... it will burn the chocolate.  Next place a bowl on top of the saucepan making sure that it is a snug fit and that the bottom does NOT touch the water.  As a pre-step get out the cookie sheet and line it with waxed paper. You can also chop up the hershey's kisses (making them sprinkleable).
Now, once the bowl begins to warm, add half of the chocolate and allow it to sit.  Once the chocolate is beginning to melt slowly add the rest of the chocolate in, making sure to stir allowing the chocolate to heat through completely.  Once the chocolate is almost completely lump free, take it off the heat and stir until it becomes smooth and glossy.  At this time, you will also want to add about a 1/2 tsp of the Peppermint Extract.
Then, pour the mixture onto the cookie sheet using a spatula to evenly spread the mixture.  Once spreaded, place the cookie sheet into the freezer for about 3-5 minutes or until solid.  Now you will want to repeat this process but with the white chocolate.  Once it is melted, take out the cookie sheet with the dark chocolate and spread the white over top (make sure you work fast!! It hardens incredibly fast when in contact with the cold base layer).  Once spreaded quickly sprinkle the hershey's over top then score the chocolate to prevent crumbling later.  Then place in the refrigerator to harden.

My lovely glass bowl which is now at the bottom of a dumpster :(

Ghiradelli Chocolate!! It's the BEST!

My one issue is that it was hard to get them out without the peppermint falling off.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Delectable Apple Butter

First of all, Merry Christmas/ Happy Holidays!!! I can't it's already the 13th! Time flies so quickly this time of year.  Since Stephen and I will be spending Christmas in North Carolina (expect some fun posts in the near future!) I decided to make a few gifts for my mother and sister's in law.  As I was looking over some food blogs I follow...I decided that homemade Apple Butter would be a fun gift to make and give! The recipe is quite easy, although it does require some time.  This is my slightly altered version of a completely vegan Oh She Glows Apple Butter recipe (aka I added some sugar ;).

Photo credit:

5-6 apples (I used a mix between Honey Crisp and Granny Smith)
2 tsp. Cinnamon
2 ts. Nutmeg (optional)
1-2 Cups of White Sugar (you can add more or less depending on your sweet preference)

Using a crockpot set on high, cut up all of the apples (leaving the skins on) and place them into the crock pot for about 3-4 hrs or until "mashable".  I also like to add a little bit of liquid which helps to increase the final yield from the recipe.  I would recommend about 1 tbs. of Apple Cider.  After you have let the apples sit gently mash them with a wooden spoon (or in my case a potato masher) and then scoop the mixture into a food processor.  Once added to the food processor blend until completely smooth, then pour the "apple sauce" back into the crock pot for 45 minutes (this helps it to thicken) and add the sugar and spices.  After the 45 minutes are up, let the mixture cool before canning and then you are good to go! So far the feedback has been positive (and as an added bonus, it is "healthier" than regular jams due to the minimal sugar!).  

This recipe yields about 2 cups (depending on how thick you want the butter).  I actually repeated this twice to get the amount I needed.  But since the hardest part is waiting I actually really enjoyed this recipe! I hope you all do too! 

Monday, December 10, 2012

Chicken Enchiladas

Hello everyone! My next couple of posts are going to be food related so brace yourself for some pretty yummy recipes! For dinner last week I decided to make Stephen's favorite dish... Chicken Enchiladas and I couldn't wait to share the recipe with you! It's super simple and delicious! Enjoy!!

2 chicken breasts
1 can of black beans
1 can of corn
About 4 cups of spinach
2 tsp. garlic
Marinade for the chicken (I used a Cilantro Lime marinade that can be found here)
1/2 cup uncooked rice
1 bunch of cilantro
2 limes
1 package of tortillas

Rice Preparation:
I like to use Chicken Broth when cooking rice so I would recommend using about 1 and 1/4 cups of Chicken Broth.  You can use either a whole grain rice or white, I prefer short whole grain rice as it has a really good texture.  The only downside to this type of rice is that it tends to take longer to cook and requires a bit more liquid.  But I have found that if you start off with around 2 times the amount of liquid to rice it turns out really well :)
Chicken Preparation:
For the chicken, I like to let mine marinate for about 20 minutes at room temperature in the Cilantro Lime marinade (the link is listed above).  On a heated pan, spray a little PAM to prevent sticking and then place the chicken breasts on the pan.  I like to cover them with a lid and put just a splash of chicken broth on the pan to let them steam.  This allows for quicker cooking time and a juicier finished product. Once thoroughly cooked, let the breasts rest on a cutting board for about 10 minutes and then shred using a fork.
Filling Preparation:
For the filling of the Enchiladas I like to put garlic on a hot pan and then (before it get's too browned) toss all the spinach on top letting it wilt.  While the Spinach is wilting, use a colander to strain the beans and the corn (this removes all the black liquid from the black beans so the filling doesn't turn into a black mess).  After the beans and corn have been rinsed, pour them into the pan with the spinach and let them heat up.  (At this point I also like to add a sprinkling of Cilantro to add depth of flavor)
OK! So now that everything has been prepped all that is left is assembling the enchiladas. I like to use a casserole dish and line the bottom with Salsa Verde, then take each tortilla and lightly "baste" them with the salsa so that they don't get too crispy in the oven.  Next place the desired amount of rice, filling, and chicken inside each tortilla then fold in half and place inside the casserole dish.  Once they are all finished, I like to sprinkle a little bit of cheese over the entire dish and then place inside the oven (at around 350) for 5-10 minutes (or until the cheese is melted).  The finished product is delicious and you can use any leftovers to create a great Southwest Chicken Salad!
Marinating the Chicken

A beautiful bunch of Cilantro

Wilting down the Spinach  
The Enchiladas Before They Were Put Back Into The Oven

Unfortunately, my husband, his brother and I ate all of them before I remembered to take a picture!! Needless to say they were quite delicious! If you have any questions feel free to comment below :)