Monday, December 30, 2013

Four Christmases

So Christmas is always super busy for Pat and I. We both have two sets of parents and try to make it to see everyone. I only have pictures from two of the Christmases but they were all great! I have been cooking like crazy for three weeks now, and I think I'm going to let Pat cook all week ;) 

On the 23rd we had some of our good friends over for a meal and fellowship. We had a lot to celebrate!
Balke and I. Our wonderful cook in our group of friends. She made our wedding cake. We STILL get told how wonderful it was.
Brooklyn, Chicago and ATL- we have grown up a lot in the past 7 years! So wonderful to all be in the same place even for just a few hours

Newly Engaged! HOORAY! Can't wait, bride-to-be!!

Back from deployment. So proud of you , Nathan!
George! So good to see you for the first time in YEARS (and a wedding picture photobomb)
So for this shindig I made cheesecake for the first time ever. Of course I couldn't do just a normal cheesecake; I had to make it difficult. I'm proud to say that my Funfetti Cheesecake came out edible and is now being demanded requested for all future birthdays. 

Bam! Next goal is to make it with out a crack in it.

Here are some photos from family Christmas

You can tell who the spoiled ones are.

Hubby and I Christmas night

Yikes! I did a really bad job of taking pictures on Christmas Eve and Christmas. Well, I guess I was too busy baking and enjoying all of the wonderful food that was coming our way. Only 360 more days till next Christmas :)

Thursday, December 26, 2013

What we've been up to...

Building. Lots and lots of building. 

Alright, so I have expensive taste. You could say I have champagne taste on a beer budget. I want my home to be nice and warm. I want it to look put together. Now my husband is a handy man. THANK GOODNESS! My expensive can be brought to life on my beer budget and look 1000x better. In my opinion. Here are some pictures of the three things he's made me in the past month.



Next was a dining room table that can fit more than 4 people. 

Trying to find the straightest pieces of wood. 



Next I had found some plans for how to make lamps out of glass jugs. We thought these would be the perfect gift for my stepdad for the lake house. Pat already knows that the next project will be to make us some for our long console table he built :) 

I'm in love!!! Can't wait to have two of my own soon. 

I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas. I am exhausted. I have been cooking and baking like crazy. We still have one more family Christmas to go! 

Friday, December 20, 2013

Sneak Peek of what we have been up to...

We have been in this weird DIY mood lately, and I LOVE IT! I'm just going to leave you with a picture of where it all began. I'll be back with after photos and TONS of recipes. I'm going to be baking up a storm this Sunday- Christmas Funfetti cheesecake, gingerbread cheesecake bites and chocolate peppermint crinkle cookies. Here. We. Go!

Tables, lamps, and baked goods! Oh my! ;)

Monday, December 9, 2013

Twice the Thanksgiving!

The holiday season is always an insanely busy one for Pat and I. Both of our parents are divorced so sometimes it feels like we are running around, and we have no idea what we are doing. Which is probably true...

Thanksgiving Eve this year we went out to a local gem and had dinner with my dad. The OK Cafe is one of those places I always remember going to as a kid. I mean what kid doesn't love a tree that grows money?! Okay, who am I kidding... us adults would love this 1000 times more!

The BEST Chicken Pot Pie I have had in a long time

For Thanksgiving Day we made the trek to Birmingham, AL for my grandmother's house. It was a great meal with my grandmother, mom, stepdad, brothers, and Pat. It couldn't have gotten anymore stereotypical. All the women cooked and the men watched football/player soccer/played video games. Awesome.


My mom and stepdad

We got the wishbone and of course we can't do anything the easy way. We managed to break it right.down.the.middle. Seriously.

The Saturday after Thanksgiving we had our meal with Pat's parents. We decided we wanted to try and fry our turkey this year. I was the only one who had ever had fried turkey before so they were all trusting me on this one. The process couldn't have been any easier and it was amazing. 

Pat and his stepdad frying up the turkey

All-in-all, it was a great thanksgiving! Now to finish wrapping all of our presents and getting ready for our own version of "Four Christmases." Here we go! 

Monday, November 18, 2013

I'm so sorry! (And stuffed bell peppers)

Well, I don't really have an excuse besides writers block. Pat and I have been taking it easy for a few weeks after a jam packed few months. I have completely forgotten to take pictures of 3/4 of the meals I've made, and I may have passed off a lot of the cooking duties to Pat. I'm getting back at it with the holiday season starting next week so get ready for a lot of yummy recipes and lots of pictures of the table that Pat is building me! :) 

Without further ado, the stuffed bell peppers my mom got me hooked on as a child. Now my husband has to eat them when I crave them ;)  -

Stuffed Bell Peppers

- 4 large green bell peppers (You could do another color if you want. Those are typically more expensive though.)
- 1 pound of ground beef (I use lean. You could use ground turkey or chicken if you would like. I'm sure it would still be amazing!)
- 1/2 cup chopped onion
- 1/4 cup chopped bell pepper
- 1 15 ounce can of Rotel (or just a can of tomatoes, cut up. I prefer the kick Rotel gives the dish)
- 1/2 cup long grain uncooked rice (white rice cooks up better for this dish. I tried brown rice and it was not as good)
- 1/2 cup of water 
- 1 teaspoon of water
- 1 teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce 
- 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese 

Cut the tops off the bell peppers. After you do that use your hand to pull out the seeds and rinds on the inside. Save the tops! You aren't done with those suckers yet. They should look like this when you are done-
Next boil the peppers in water for 5 minutes. 
While they are boiling I like to get my onion and bell pepper chopped. This is where you use you tops that you cut off your peppers. Cut the excess off the sides. Voila, you have 1/4 cup of chopped bell pepper. Once you have the onion and bell pepper chopped add them to a pan with your meat. 
Once the meat is browned and the veggies are tender, add your can of Rotel undrained. Now add your uncooked rice, water, salt and Worcestershire sauce. Bring it to a boil and reduce the heat. 
Cover the pan and simmer for 15-18 minutes till the rice is tender. Make sure to stir occasionally. 
Before I get too far, don't forget to remove your peppers. Place them in a dish and salt and pepper the insides of the bell peppers. 

Once your rice is tender add your shredded cheese and mix it in. 
This is what your meat mixture should look like when all is said and done- 
Now it's time to finally stuff your bell peppers! I use a spoon and like to stuff ours to the point where they are overflowing. 
Now place them in the oven and back at 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes. 

After taking them out of the oven let them cool down for a few mintues then enjoy! Here's what they should look like out of the oven- 
We like to eat ours with some Tabasco sauce. I hope y'all enjoy these as much as I have for years now! 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Beef Vegetable Soup

Every fall and winter my mom makes all kinds of soup and chili. Now that I'm married it's my turn to try and learn all of my mom's amazing recipes my self. If I had been smart I would have learned from her last year. Alas, I am learning on my own in my kitchen. At least mom is only a phone call away, right?

One of my favorites has always been her Beef Vegetable Soup. She used to make big batches of it when I was home during college and then deep freeze it so I could take some back with me. Let's just say I became pretty popular whenever I would return to school with my loot. Well, it was really cold here last week so I got into full on "soup mode." I bugged my mom for her recipe all week and tackled it my self on Sunday.

Here we go!

Vegetable Beef Soup

2 tablespoons of butter
3 pounds chuck roast
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 large yellow onion, peeled and chopped
2 bay leaves
2 large sprigs each fresh parsley, thyme and oregano (chopped), when available (dried, otherwise)
10 cups water
2 cups canned tomato puree
3 large celery stalks, peeled and diced
3 to 4 large carrots, peeled and diced
3 medium turnips, peeled and diced**
3 medium parsnips, peeled and diced**
2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
½ small green cabbage, cored and thinly sliced into 1-inch-long strips (about 3 cups)

Melt butter in a large, heavy soup pot over medium-low heat. Add beef. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Scatter onion evenly over top. Add bay leaves and chopped herbs. Cover tightly. Reduce heat to low; simmer about 2 hours.

Add water and tomato puree; increase heat to medium and return to a simmer, skimming off any scum that rises. Add celery, carrots, turnips, parsnips and cabbage. Return to a simmer and cook, over medium-low heat, until meat and vegetables are very tender, about 2 hours.

Remove meat and cool slightly. Cut into bite-size pieces. Add back to soup. Skim off any excess fat from top of broth.

** I don’t use these two vegetables. I usually add lima beans, green beans and black-eyed peas (frozen). Add whichever vegetables you like. You MUST, however, use the cabbage. It disappears as it thickens the soup.

Enjoy with a grilled cheese! :)

Monday, October 28, 2013

Pumpkin Pickin'

Ever since my brothers were little (and we lived in GA) we have gone to Burt's Pumpkin Patch in Dawsonville, GA. Well, my brothers are officially teenagers and have outgrown the days of going to the pumpkin patch. Lucky me, I married a big kid :) We took our best couple friends and went to town and probably spent too much. Oh well! You only live once, right?

We got some pretty maize for our front door :)

Me and Kristi

Husband and his pumpkin he spent 15 min picking

Pat is serious about his pumpkins. Very serious. He spent about 5 minutes arranging our wheelbarrow so the pumpkins would look nice but all fit perfectly at the same time. People walked by his wheelbarrow and took pictures of it. For instagram. Seriously. Here he is with his wheelbarrow

I hope you all had a great weekend and this week ends up being a great one!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Gold Rush and Oktoberfest

Fall in Georgia is a blast. There is some new event every weekend that seems to take away from the fact that I can't attend Mississippi State home football games like I used to. I love college football. I love tailgating. Needless to say my falls feel less fall like without it. Thankfully Georgia has found ways to make it not seem so terrible without some good ole SEC football ;)

This past weekend we decided it would be a great idea to pack as many of those activities into one weekend as possible. Saturday we drove up to Dahlonega, GA for Gold Rush, their yearly homecoming weekend for the college there. It's basically a big festival with local artists showcasing their work and A LOT of fried food. We stopped at some booths and ate lunch before walking around. We then just had to stop for some fried Oreos. Dahlonega is a small town that is known for it's gold mining. I think just about every kid who went to summer camp in north Georgia has been taken to Dahlonega to "mine for gold" at least once. I hadn't been to that precious town in almost 15 years. It was so great to see it again!
Kristi and I. It was her first time to enjoy the amazingness that is fried Oreos.

After indulging in some fried foods we decided to hightail out of there and head to Helen, GA for Oktoberfest. Helen is one the coolest small towns in the US. It is an exact replica of a small German town in the middle of the north Georgia mountains. Every year they have Oktoberfest from the end of September to the end of October. This is Pat's favorite thing to do every year. He was born in Germany, speaks German and l-o-v-e-s German food. Let's just say the terrible fake German accent comes out every time we go to Helen :)

Das boot, bratwurst, sauerkraut. Told ya he loves all things German ;)

Pat and I at the town square by the beer garden
Now with Kristi to get our annual picture
Our group picture in the beer garden
We all had a blast on our annual excursion to Helen. It was great to go to Gold Rush for the first time and experience Dahlonega during the fall. Next I'll catch y'all up on our Sunday adventure to Burt's Pumpkin Patch in Dawsonville, GA.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Friday's Letters

Burt's Pumpkin Patch 2012

Dear Pat, Thanks for letting Kristi and I enjoy a Ladies Night at Big Peach Running Company last night. I know it was really difficult for you to play video games the whole night ;) Dear New Running Clothes, That statistic that says whenever you purchase new workout clothes you are motivated to workout is SO right. Can't wait to try y'all out tonight! Dear Kristi, We should ditch the boys more often :) Dear North Georgia, We are coming for you this weekend! Oktoberfest, Gold Rush and Burt's Pumpkin Patch here we come! Dear Love, Thankful to call you mine and that we can be grown up kids together!