About Me

I grew up in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia where I also attended college and met the love of my life. I lived in NYC for five years with my husband and Westie, Mack Brown before recently moving all the way across the country to Los Angeles. I'm an amateur chef, total foodie, lover of Westies, sports fanatic and self-proclaimed book worm. You'll find a little bit of all these things I love on this blog. And...most importantly, I'm a new mom to the most precious baby boy, Austn Robert, born this past October.





Austin Robert

Austin Robert

Mack Brown

Mack Brown

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Oh How Pintresting, Wednesdays: Word Up

Today I'm sharing some of my favorite "wordy" finds on Pinterest.  These made me laugh out loud! How doesn't need a good mid-week laugh?

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Source: getfuns via  Ashelee on Pinterest

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Source: polyvore via  Stephanie on Pinterest

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Source: icanhascheezburger via Monica on Pinterest

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Source parentsshouldnttext via  Staci on Pinterest

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Source: fffound via Staci on Pinterest

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Creamy Turkey Salad

My mom used to make turkey salad every year after Thanksgiving with the leftover turkey once we all got tired of eating it with just the sides.  Since I cooked a 13 pound turkey for just two people this year (it's the smallest turkey, I could find. I swear), and we are turkey-sandwiched out, I decided to  create my own version of mom's annual turkey salad.

The great thing about the recipe is that you can adjust/ add/ subtract/ change any of the ingredients to fit your own palate.  The measurements below are rough estimates because I really just eyeballed amounts and tasted as I went along until I came up with something delicious.

If you're already out of turkey (lucky you!), obviously you can always use chicken!

Creamy Turkey Salad

2 c. leftover turkey, diced
2 celery hearts, finely chopped
2 green onions, finely chopped
1 small shallot, diced
1/4 c. light mayonnaise
1 tbsp. low-fat sour cream
1 tsp. whole grain Dijon mustard
fresh lemon juice (I used half a lemon)
salt and pepper to taste

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix everything together.  It really doesn't get much easier than that, right?

I've been eating the salad with sesame melba crackers, and B made lettuce wraps with his turkey salad yesterday.  The possibilities are endless.  Now, I'm actually kinda sad the turkey is running out!

*This post is linked up with Tasty Tuesdays over at Alissa's blog 33 Shades of Green.  Go check it out for more great recipes!

Monday, November 28, 2011

"Thanksgiving for Two" Reveal

Our "Thanksgiving for Two" was a huge success, if I do say so myself!  We (and by "we" I mean Mack and me) got up early up early in hopes of watching the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade live with a warm cup of coffee, only to find out that the parade plays on delay over here on the west coast.  I guess that makes sense, right?  Next time I'll check the TV guide before I wake up at 6am for something :)  Oh well.  I still enjoyed my cup of coffee and an EARLY morning walk with Mack before getting our table ready and finishing cooking.

The turkey was definitely the highlight of the meal (oh, and B's apple pie, too).  SO GOOD.  I got a fresh, Kosher young turkey this year from Trader Joe's.  Did you know that Kosher turkeys come already brined?  So, I didn't have to do anything except add a little herb butter before tossing it in the oven.  Such a good choice.  If you have a TJ's near you, get your next turkey there.  B and I both agreed this was one of the best turkey's we had ever eaten.

Overall, our Thanksgiving can be summed up in two words: FOOD and FOOTBALL.  That's all we did ALL DAY LONG.  Oh, and nap a little.  

Here are some pictures from our feast!  Click here to see what we made.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Friday Five: Christmas Crush List

I should start out by saying that my husband is a VERY good gift giver.  So this list is probably unnecessary.  In fact, he'll most likely resent it.  And, I really do enjoying giving as much if not more than I do receiving at Christmas.  But, in my shopping for others I have come across some things I wouldn't mind opening up on Christmas morning :)

Here are some of my Christmas crushes:

Lodge 12" Skillet
Cast Iron Skillet

Perhaps I could cook more like the pioneer woman if I had one of these. I'm convinced it's her secret weapon.
Minnetonka® Kilty Suede Moccasins
Minnetonka Kilty Suede Moccasins
Maybe these would help me stop wearing my Toms everywhere. They are disgustingly inappropriate (and, starting to smell, might I add.)

Atelier Cologne Orange Sanguine

I got a sample of this in my Birchbox this month and instantly fell in love. i love the faint scent of citrus it gives off.

Michael Kors MK5128 Womens Rose Gold Chronograph Watch
Michael Kors Runway Watch

Rose gold. I'm in love.

Make the Bread, Buy the Butter: Why You Should and Shouldn't Cook from Scratch  by Jennifer Reese

I first read about this book in an airplane magazine months and months ago, believe it or not, and I was so fascinated that the first thing I did when I got off the plane was to head to the bookstore to purchase a copy.  I quickly found out that the book hadn't even come out yet!  What a tease.  Well, now the book is out, and I can't wait to devour it cover to cover.  

What are some of your Christmas crushes??

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

There is so much that I'm thankful today, but what I'm most thankful for at the moment is the invention of the telephone.  Since B and I are spending Thanksgiving without our families this year, the telephone is our way that we can still spend some of the holiday with them.  So, thank you Alexander Graham Bell, for bringing me one step closer those I love!

That being said, the turkey is cooking in the oven and all the sides are ready to go.  But in the meantime, I wanted to share with you a poem I found earlier this week here.  I think it beautifully sums up this season of thanks and giving.

Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

Be Thankful
Be thankful that you don’t already have everything you desire,
If you did, what would there be to look forward to?
Be thankful when you don’t know something
For it gives you the opportunity to learn.
Be thankful for the difficult times.
During those times you grow.
Be thankful for your limitations
Because they give you opportunities for improvement.
Be thankful for each new challenge
Because it will build your strength and character.
Be thankful for your mistakes
They will teach you valuable lessons.
Be thankful when you’re tired and weary
Because it means you’ve made a difference.

It is easy to be thankful for the good things.
A life of rich fulfillment comes to those who are
also thankful for the setbacks.
GRATITUDE can turn a negative into a positive.
Find a way to be thankful for your troubles
and they can become your blessings.
Author Unknown

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thanksgiving Menu

I can't believe Thanksgiving is only two days away!  B and I have both been traveling a lot in the past few months, so we decided to stay out west for the holiday this year.  Since we have a football game to watch in the afternoon (hook 'em horns!), we decided to have a small Thanksgiving meal just the two of us (three, i guess, if you include Mack!), so I've been busy the past couple of days preparing a a menu and shopping for our "Thanksgiving for Two" meal.

Here's what's on the menu, and before you start asking your self how in the world we are ever going to eat this much, don't worry.  I've halved all of the recipes, and have collected a few recipes to use up all the leftover turkey :)

Our "Thanksgiving for Two" Menu

Cranberry Cream Cheese Dip

Turkey with Homemade Gravy
(I'm doing a dry brine on the turkey and basting it with an herb butter)
Chorizo & Cornbread Dressing
Wild Rice with Mushrooms
Green Bean Casserole with Crispy Shallots
Sweet Potato Gratin

And, B is making an apple pie for dessert!

Yum.  I'm getting hungry (and exhausted!) just looking at this menu!  I'll let you know how everything turns out, and I'll post my favorite recipe!

 How are you all spending your Thanksgiving, and what's on your menu?

Monday, November 21, 2011

Warm Spinach Salad with Quinoa and Shiitake Mushrooms

This is my all-time favorite salad. The warm quinoa causes the spinach to slightly wilt, the roasted shiitakes add a nutty, woodsy flavor, and the crumbled feta on top adds a contrast of color and a creamy bite.  I make a red wine vinaigrette to drizzle over top, but you can add any vinegar-based dressing if you have another favorite.

This salad is great warm (of course), but it also makes great leftovers and is delicious cold.  When I was teaching everyday, I would make a big salad on Sunday evenings, and separate it into five small containers to take with me to lunch everyday.

Warm Spinach Salad with Quinoa and Shiitake Mushrooms

1 lb. baby spinach
2 lb. fresh shiitake mushrooms, stems removed, caps quartered
1 1/2 c. quinoa
1/2 c. red wine vinegar
2/3 c. extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 c. crumbled feta

In a medium saucepan, add the quinoa, 3 c. water, and 1 1/2 tsp. salt.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, cover and cook for 15-20 minutes.

Heat the broiler.  In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar and olive oil with 1 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper.

On a large baking sheet, toss the mushrooms with 1/2 the dressing (keep the rest to mix into the salad).  Cook the mushrooms under the broiler until most of the liquid has evaporated and the mushrooms are tender, about 20 minutes.

Place the spinach in a large bowl.  Slowly mix in the quinoa.  Don't add all the quinoa at once.  It will clump together.  Next add the mushrooms and feta.  Toss everything together and drizzle with the remaining dressing.  Lightly toss one more time and serve!

Recipe taken from Food Everyday: Great Food Fast cookbook

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Happy Birthday, Daddy!

Happy birthday to one of the most hardworking, loyal and kind-hearted men I know.  
Thank you for always making me smile.
I love you, Dad!

P.S. The picture above is from college, hence the Theta cup and pom-pom in my dad's hand. How is it possible that I don't have any photos in my house with my dad post-college?? I guess that's what happens when you have a dad who tries to make an occupation out of  avoiding photos!  Anyone else have this problem with their dads? :)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Five Things

Here are five things I'm loving right now:

If you don't watch this show, you should.  Watch it once, and you'll be hooked.  It's on Wednesday nights at 10pm on ABC.

A taste of the season.

Grab a bag of corn chips and its the perfect football-game-watching snack.

My face has never felt so good.

I'm obsessed with Trader Joe's, and this is only feeding my obsession.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Oh How Pintresting, Wednesdays!

I'm linking up with Michelle over at The Vintage Apple again to share some of my favorite pins from the past week.  Since Thanksgiving is right around the corner, most of my favorite finds from the past week are Thanksgiving themed.  So many fun ideas!

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Source: conspicuousstyle via Ashley on Pinterest

I love everything about this place setting: the use of a little pumpkin as the "name card," the twine tied around the silverware, the napkin in the bowl, the colors.  Perfect.

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Source: yummymummykitchen via Amanda on Pinterest

Sparkling Cranberry Brie Bites...an appetizer that will not only dazzle your guests but taste delicious as well!

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Source: busybeekidscrafts via Lauren on Pinterest

An easy and fun Turkey Day craft.

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Source: beautyandbedlam via Elisa on Pinterest

A new tradition in the making: Thanksgiving gratitude rolls.  Write down what you are thankful for on a piece of paper and roll it up in a crescent roll.  After the rolls are cooked, share what people are thankful for while eating.

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Source: simplysoles via Emily on Pinterest

The perfect Thanksgiving day outfit.

What sort of Thanksgiving Day inspiration have you been pinning??

Westie Wednesday

Look who found his way into some of my pumpkin pound cake pictures...

He still hasn't forgiven me for not sharing some with him.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Pumpkin Pound Cake with Buttermilk Glaze

I'm not much of a baker, but every year around this time, I get that itch.  The itch to make something with pumpkin.  Last year, I made a pumpkin cheesecake and in past years I've made many different variations of pumpkin cookies...chocolate chip pumpkin, pumpkin with maple frosting, pumpkin with walnuts, etc.

This year I decided to make a pumpkin pound cake.  I found a great recipe at My Recipes for a pumpkin pound cake with buttermilk frosting, and I instantly knew this was what I wanted to make.  The directions looked easy enough, but, more importantly, I adore buttermilk. I just love that creamy tang.  I couldn't wait to see what it would taste like when added to pumpkin and spices.  I'm happy to report that the combination was a divine success. 

Pumpkin Pound Cake with Buttermilk Frosting
recipe from My Recipes

1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin
1/2 c. unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 c. granulated sugar
3/4 c. packed brown sugar
4 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
3 c. all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 c. buttermilk

1/3 c. buttermilk
1/4 c. granulated sugar
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
2 tsp. cornstarch
1/8 tsp. baking soda

Grease and flour a bundt pan and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Spread the canned pumpkin on a plate with two paper towels underneath and two paper towels on top to drain some of the water from the pumpkin.  Let sit until you are ready to add the pumpkin to the wet mix.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, pumpkin pie spice, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Set aside.

Cream the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar together in a mixer.  Add the eggs, one at a time.  Add the pumpkin and vanilla extract.

Gradually add the flour mixture to the wet mixture.  Once the flour is fully incorporated, turn the mixer to its lowest setting and add the buttermilk.

Pour the batter into the bundt pan and cook for 55 minutes.  

While the cake cools, make the glaze.  Heat the buttermilk in a small saucepan.  Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil.  Cook about 1 minute, or until thick.  Remove from heat and drizzle over the cake.

Cut yourself a huge slice, pour a big glass of milk, and bribe your significant other to do the dishes.  Feel free to use the cake as leverage if needed :)

Linked up with Tasty Tuesdays!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Plenty to Be Thankful For: Guilty Pleasures

'Tis the season to be thankful, and I just found a fun Thanksgiving link-up over at Simply Smithwick's where we can share all that we're thankful for!  Check out the Thanksgiving challenge and come link-up :)

Today's topic is GUILTY PLEASURES!  Gee, where do I start?!?

REAL HOUSEWIVES OF _____________
My favorite is the original, The Real Housewives of Orange County, but I'm a sucker for any of them (Well, except for Hot-lanta.  That one just annoys me.)  

If someone else isn't around when I'm baking cookies, there may not be anything left to bake.  Yes, my obsession is that bad.  

I love, love, love buying new books.  I know they are expensive and that I'll probably only read them once and that I SHOULD go to the library more often.  But, there is just something about the feel of a new book in my hands that has me heading to the local bookstore instead of the library whenever I need a new book.

I'm grouping these together because these three things are really how I spend most of my waking hours.  Sad, I know.  I really should get a life...  :)

Manic Mother

Ravioli with Brussels Sprouts and Bacon

Every other week on Sundays I get a huge box of fresh fruit and vegetables from local California farms delivered to my door as a part of CSA California.  I LOVE opening up the box when it arrives to see what's inside.  It's like Christmas morning.  Everything always looks SO good (and tastes so good), and I've even gotten the chance to cook with and taste some veggies and fruits that I don't usually buy (like persimmons, but the jury's still out on that one).

This week's box included green beans, corn, kiwi, plums, limes, beets, microgreens, carrots, and.....BRUSSELS SPROUTS!  I decided to tackle the brussels sprouts first as I happened to have all the ingredients for the perfect brussels sprouts recipe already in my fridge.  If you are a brussels sprouts hater, this recipe will convert you.  It's that good.

All you need is pre-made fresh ravioli, bacon, brussels sprouts, white wine vinegar (or balsamic or champagne vinegar or red wine vinegar...you get the picture), and Parmesan cheese.   It takes a little time cleaning and cutting the brussels sprouts, but overall this meal doesn't take longer than 30 minutes to make and all that hard work is soooo worth it.

Ravioli with Brussels Sprouts and Bacon
adapted from Real Simple

1 lb. cheese ravioli (fresh or frozen)
5-6 slices bacon
1/2 lb. brussels sprouts, halved and thinly sliced
1 tbsp. white wine vinegar
salt and pepper
Parmesan cheese, for serving

Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil.  You'll put the ravioli in there when you're almost ready to serve.  Don't cook the ravioli too soon.  Since you're using fresh ravioli, it will cook in minutes, so you can wait until everything else is finished to toss in the ravioli.  But, make sure the water is boiling and ready to go.  You won't want to have to wait on the water to boil when your mouth is salivating from the smell of bacon and brussels after you've made the "sauce."

Cut up the brussels sprouts first.  Remove any loose leaves from the outside first and then rinse in cold water.  Next, chop off the stems.  You'll be left with what looks like a teeny-tiny cabbage.  Cut said teeny-tiny cabbage in half and thinly slice each half.  Set aside.

Chop the bacon slices into half-inch pieces and saute in a large skillet over medium-high heat until  crisp.  Remove the bacon, leaving behind the drippings.  Add the brussels sprouts to the bacon drippings and saute over medium-heat until wilted and browned, about 3-4 minutes.  Add the vinegar and scrap the bacon scraps from the bottom of the pan.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Turn heat to low and cook the ravioli.

Once the ravioli are ready, add them to the brussels/ bacon mixture.  Toss everything gently together.  Serve with Parmesan sprinkled on top.