Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Peanut Butter Blossoms

In honor of Cookie Week, I am posting the recipe for my favorite Christmas cookies ever!  My grandma is a stellar baker, and my Christmas is basically incomplete without these.  From the recipe, it looks like this is actually the Pillsbury version...so here you go!

1 and 3/4 cup Pillsbury flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup peanut butter

1 egg

2 tablespoons milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

48 (approximately) Hershey's kisses

Combine all ingredients except for the Hershey's kisses and mix on low speed.  For each cookie, take a rounded full teaspoon of dough, roll into a ball and then roll in sugar.  Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet at 375 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes.  Gently press a Hershey's kiss into the top of each cookie before they cool.  Makes approximately 4 dozen cookies.

Happy Birthday, Jenny! (a little bit late)

I didn’t forget Jenny’s birthday, I swear – we celebrated over the weekend when she was in town, but it didn’t occur to me to announce to the world that it was her birthday yesterday! (terrible, I know. I’m sorry.) So, HAPPY BIRTHDAY JENNY! (a day late) We had an awesome weekend of lots of good food and having the previously mentioned super fun photo shoot. I think I may have enjoyed Jenny’s bday weekend more than she did – being a model is awesome! :-) I can’t believe the photos turned out as well as they did – Jenny sure does have the magic touch because I don’t look like that nice in real life!

Monday, November 29, 2010

A Rose is a Rose ~ Photo Shoot

There is really nothing more delightful than pictures of a beautiful person.  And as her best friend, I can tell you that Rose is beautiful both inside and out.  Here are some pictures from our fun photo shoot this past weekend - I'm sure there will be multiple posts regarding these photos, but these are just a few (probably will end up being about 10) of my favorites!


I like to call the above photo "Christmas Magic" - it was EVERYWHERE!!

That's all for now - more to come on this, and we have Kelli & Gina's photo shoots to look forward to as well!  Between these three girls, it's almost too much beauty to handle.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Photo Shoot Preview

I just got back an hour and a half ago from being at home for Thanksgiving.  BUT I couldn't resist checking out the  pictures from the photo shoot that I did with Rose over the weekend.  Rose was nice enough to be my model for the day...and it was a ton of fun, as evidenced by the photo below:

Isn't she lovely?  Rose and I love spending time together no matter what, but this was a blast.  Can't wait to get editing and add a full post of this!

Hope everyone had a great holiday weekend!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Hot Chicken Salad

This post is for Rose who has been on me to post Hot Chicken Salad since the birth of this blog.  However, the recipe was at my parents' house, and I am bad at memorizing things.  So here you go - if you're tired of turkey leftovers, try this.  It's delicious comfort food that will leave you feeling cozy and satisfied.

3 cups cooked chicken breast, cut into small cubes

1/4 cup almonds

1 cup diced celery

1 teaspoon minced onion

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

2/3 cup mayo or Miracle Whip

Topping: 1 cup grated cheddar cheese & 1 cup crushed potato chips

Mix all ingredients except the topping and pour in a buttered casserole dish.  Top with cheese and chips and bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes until bubbly.

Snicky's Photo Shoot

Gina and I had some fun with Snick yesterday at Grandma's house.   We followed her around with a camera for a pretty long time...and got some great pictures.  Some really funny, some really cute.  I'll do a full post later, but I wanted to post for Photo Friday!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Buffalo Chicken Puffs

[caption id="attachment_542" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Buffalo Chicken Puffs"]Buffalo Chicken Puffs[/caption]

Here's a delicious new twist on an old favorite. Buffalo chicken puffs. These are so addictive! I made lot of appetizers a few weeks ago for a party, and due to very limited space, I had to think of ways to condense. Instead of having a dip and then something to dip with, I turned all my dips into puffs and they were a huge hit! These were so easy and I think I'll be making these as a new standard. First, just roll out a can of Pillsbury refrigerated pizza crust and cut into 24 squares. Fill with little scoops of buffalo chicken mixture, and make each one into a little pouch by pinching all four corners together and put the pinched part down into mini muffin tins coated in pam no-stick spray. Bake for 10-12 minutes at 425 degrees.


1 can chicken breast, shredded

4-5 Tablespoons Hidden Valley ranch dressing

2-3 Tablespoons Frank's Red Hot

1/2 block cream cheese

approx 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese

[caption id="attachment_543" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Out of the oven"]Out of the oven[/caption]


Monday, November 22, 2010

Holiday Confusion, Part Deux

I am seconding Rose's motion that Thanksgiving is the most forgotten and passed over holiday ever.  And it's one of my favorites.  Also, as a late November birthday, I can assure you that I do not appreciate Christmas things all up in my grill.  It's not time yet! 

But wait, it is.  We decorated my apartment last night for Christmas, because I think Christmas lights are magical and because I want to enjoy them for a good period of time since we'll be travelling back north twice in the next month for Thanksgiving & Christmas.  Here are some pre-pictures that I like to refer to as "Christmas Chaos."

Truly, the best part of decorating in this apartment is the vast collection of Kasey Kahne ornaments that Kelli has acquired.

I just love this little ornament.  Hello, preciousness.

Ah, the finished product!  It's okay to laugh at the super-duper-trianglishness of this tree.  It makes me smile.

Holiday Confusion

What holiday is it? Because I’m pretty sure we are 3 days away from Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving – full of autumn leaves, cornucopias, turkeys, and pumpkin pie. Where the heck did Thanksgiving go?

I love Thanksgiving, and every year it seems that Christmas is getting earlier and earlier. Next year are we not going to have a Halloween? It’s like we don’t have time for fall and it’s festivities, it’s just a prep-time for Christmas and then on December 26th it’s all over. I think we should have just as much time after Christmas to celebrate as pre-25th. Believe me when I tell you that I’m a Christmas freak. I love absolutely everything about the Christmas season and I think I need a DNA test to see if I’m part elf, but why rush Thanksgiving? It’s like the whole meaning has been lost to support a kick-off date for shopping.

As much as it bothers me, I’m done shopping, I put up lights, I watched Elf and the Grinch last night, and I have a 24-hour Christmas music station on my radio. In conclusion, I’m a holiday hypocrite. Even so, I hope everyone is getting their stretchy pants ready for a Thanksgiving feast, and that you all get to spend a lovely day with your families on whatever holiday it is. I wish you all friendship, family, generosity, thankfulness, kindness, love, joy, and peace…not only from November to January but year-round.

Friday, November 19, 2010


This week's Photo Friday is dedicated to my spoiled, misbehaved, adorable, delightful, scheming little dog Snicky.  I remember when my sister wrote her letter to Santa begging for a dog...and 12 years later, Snick is still as fun and as ornery as ever.  I love her little white face and I can't wait to see her in a week!  HAPPY BIRTHDAY, WEEN!

This is young Snicky, before her precious face turned white.  She was snoozing on vacation at Deep Creek.

This is older white-faced Snicky, hanging out in the backseat of Gina's car on our way to the park for a walk.  Isn't she the cutest thing?  Happy Friday, everyone!

**I realize that these are not the best examples of photography.  I took the bottom one with a cell phone and the top one with a disposable camera when I was 15.   But who can resist puppy pictures?  No one!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Pumpkin Dip

I’m pretty sure everyone has their tried and true Thanksgiving staples – turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing. I really think that no matter how great a new recipe is, nothing tastes quite as good as the way your own family makes it. Thanksgiving is all about family and tradition and I don’t think you should mess with a good thing. That being said, I’m never against trying something new as long as it doesn’t replace an old favorite. Here’s a tasty treat that can be put out as an appetizer or a dessert on turkey day. Enjoy!

2 cups (or a little more) of powdered sugar

1 can (8 oz) pumpkin

1 package (8oz) cream cheese, softened (this is important! SOFTENED!)

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 Tablespoon pumpkin pie spice

A little extra fresh ground nutmeg (depending on how spicy you like it)

Mix the softened cream cheese together (I mean really softened and creamy or else it will have weird white lumps that are impossible to smooth out later - I microwave mine for about 25 seconds) with the powdered sugar until very smooth. Add in the pumpkin ½ cup at a time and mix well. Mix in the spices and refrigerate for at least an hour before serving (it's better overnight). If you want to be really cute and festive, hollow out a little pumpkin (and eat the delicious scrapings and seeds, of course) and use that as your serving dish. Serve with ginger snaps or Nilla wafers.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

CPK opened in the ‘Burgh!!!

And the heavens opened and the angels sang. I loooooove California Pizza Kitchen. It’s so delicious and I try a new pizza every time we go. Finally, after craving this on every out of state trip, the big wigs at CPK headquarters listened to my plea. Ross Park Mall in Pittsburgh has now opened the best restaurant in the history of creating crazy pizza combos. Last time, I had the Thai Chicken pizza and we tried the Korean BBQ tacos. Both good, but this past week when I went (yes, twice in one week) I had my old faithful. The California Club pizza and Oriental Dumplings. Heaven on a plate. I’m going to try to make the pizza at home, because the ingredients are simple enough, but please get this if you venture out to CPK. You won’t regret it. Bacon, chicken, cheese, lettuce (with mayonnaise - on a pizza. crazy, maybe. delicious, yes.) tomato and avocado. MMM.

[caption id="attachment_514" align="aligncenter" width="219" caption="CPK club pizza"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_515" align="aligncenter" width="280" caption="CPK dumplings"][/caption]

I Heart NC

Two years ago today, I moved to NC with my super fabulous roommate.  And she was nice enough to decorate the apartment whenever I was [restlessly] snoozing last night before yet another 4 am shift.  In celebration, the following things are occurring:

1. Reese's peanut butter trees will be eaten.

2. Flowers will be gazed upon (see photo).

3. Frozen foods that you can bake in a conventional oven will be consumed in remembrance of the time when we had only Mr. Oven and a pizza pan to cook with.

I'm keeping this short & sweet since I need to hit the hay again, but prepare yourselves to be hit with some fantastic holiday recipes this week and next.  Thanksgiving is just around the corner!

Friday, November 12, 2010

For Mom

When mom was here in October, she kept asking Dad and I to take pictures looking up at the leaves with the sky in the background.  So, now that my new camera is in action, I took another few just for her...which turned out way better than they did on my camera from college.  

This is actually the background for my laptop right now :) Happy weekend, everyone!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Month of Milestones…

November is a big month in our little apartment.  Both of us were born in November, and our two year anniversary of moving is this month as well!  Post to follow with highlights from the past two years....but first, here is an ode to my roommate.

kelli, you are pretty

you brighten my day

and you are lovely in all ways.

Here's a picture of Kelli's cake from her birthday (marble cake w/ no icing - it's her favorite).  I promised her that I would not post any pictures of us from that night, seeing as it was midnight when she blew out the candles and neither one of us were really ready for a photo op.  But I took them anyway, for posterity of course. 

Happy Birthday, roomie!!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Bitten by the Travel Bug...

Do you ever get that itch to just go somewhere?  I used to feel like that a lot of the time, before I moved south.  Now that I'm here and I love it, I get bitten by the travel bug a lot less.  But sometimes it still hits me, and this week the itch to go back to California has been hitting me hard.  Just to visit, not to live...I don't need anyone getting upset!  Here's a small snippet as to why I wanna go back...

Cali is a little out of reach for me right now, but that's okay...there are plenty of place that are on my list for this fall/winter that are a bit closer to home.  Stay tuned for travel updates!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Melt In Your Mouth Shredded Beef

This stuff is AWESOME. I actually got this recipe from my mom's friend who I don't really like all that much (aka at all). I hate when crappy people make awesome food. Alas, I'll pass this gem along, because it's so good I wouldn't want to deprive you of it. This recipe is for a decent amount of food, about what we would make for a party (maybe 20 people). Here's what you're going to need:

1 stalk celery - chopped

3 onions - chopped

2-3 green peppers - chopped

1 1/2 thirty-two (32) ounce  bottles of Heinz ketchup

5 Tablespoons BBQ sauce (whichever brand your like, I use KC Masterpiece)

5 Tablespoons vinegar

2 Tablespoons worchestershire sauce (I can't pronounce this to save my life - soon as I get to sauce, it comes out "shaush")

1 cup brown sugar

2 3/4 cups water

8 pounds of chuck roast (I use two 4-pounders)

Mix all the ingredients together and pour the sauce over the roast. Cover and put in a 300 degree oven for 7 hours. I let this go overnight, and it's tender and delicious. When it comes out of the oven, shred the meat apart with two forks. All of the veggies turn to nothing-mush and just produce a wonderful sweet and tangy sauce. Let it cool to room temperature and lift off the layer of grease that forms on the top (gross, but no one wants to eat all this extra fat). Heat back up to serve. This goes great with a creamy coleslaw and my corn casserole.

Product Review: Tazo Tea Sampler

My name is Rose and I'm addicted to tea. I love trying new kinds and today I'm going to give you a quick review of the Tazo (the Starbuck's brand) tea sampler I got on a good sale a few weeks ago. This box is the assorted black and green teas/herbal infusions. There are 20 teabags, 10 different flavors: Awake, Calm, China Green Tips, Earl Grey, Chai, Decaf Chai, Passion, Wild Sweet Orange, Lotus, and Zen.

Awake: Black Tea "A breakfast tea of boldness, depth, and character, invigorating any time of day." I didn't find that I was perkier after this, which was kinda the point. Still, a nice flavor, very bold, and sturdy enough to hold milk.

Calm: Herbal Infusion "A comforting blend of chamomile, rose petals & soothing herbs." This description is on the money. It is very calming, and overall gives you a sense of relaxation. It's mild but flavorful and overall a nice blend.

China Green Tips: Green Tea "A light & lingering tea with a fine, fresh flavor." They could not have depicted this more falsely. It is not light, and it is not fresh. It's extremely vegetative in flavor and I find it to be over powering. I enjoy green tea, and while this is extremely authentic, it tastes very similar to what you would drink in China, I think it's too strong for an American palate. Also, the aroma is not pleasing. I'll give them this, the flavor is "lingering".

Earl Grey: Black Tea "A traditional tea scented wtih the essence of bergamot." Spot on classic Earl. It's lovely and one of my favorites.

Organic Chai: Spiced Black Tea "A satisfyingly rich blend of teas & exotic spices." This is a very nice blend that holds up to a distinguished chai drinker's expectations. It's bold enough to withstand a fair amount of milk and sugar and retain it's spiciness. Very nice.

Passion: Herbal Infusion "A magical blend of hibiscus, lemongrass, rose hips, mango and passion fruit flavours." This is a delicious blend with a lovely aftertaste. You don't get the full complexity until after swallowing, which is a nice change. I use just a bit of sugar and it brings out the full sweetness of the fruits. This is wonderful over ice and one of my favorites in the assortment.

Decaf Chai: Spiced Black Tea "A satisfyingly rich blend of teas & exotic spices." Really? You're going to count this as another flavor in the mix? Rip Off. Give me another one to try, not a decaf version of an original flavor.

Wild Sweet Orange: Herbal Infusion "A juicy blend of lemongrass, citrus herbs, licorice root and orange essences." While I enjoy this tea, the name is off. It's far more lemony than orange flavored and I find it to be more tart than sweet. If it was named some sort of citrus blend, I would have been more prepared for the taste. It's a brisk flavor, nice for an afternoon pick me up.

Lotus: Green Tea "A decaffeinated tea with the subtle essence of lotus blossoms." This is a very light green tea. It's not overpowering, but not a great flavor either. This one could go either way, depending on what I'm looking for in that cup.

Zen: Green Tea "A harmonious blend with lemongrass & spearmint." While this sounds like an odd combination, it's a very slight hint of lemongrass and a lovely blend of spearmint. This tea leaves a pleasant aftertaste and is my favorite of the greens in this box.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Day 30 - Thankful that it's pomegranate season

I love pomegranates – they are so interesting! I just took apart my first one of the season and it’s perfect – deep ruby and sweet.

I hope everyone enjoyed the 30 days of being thankful. I think it really helped remind us that even on the most stressful days, we need to look for the positive, because there is always something to be thankful for. And now back to our regularly scheduled programming.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Day 29 - Thankful for Weddings

I love weddings.  I'm a hopeless romantic.  I don't really care who is getting married - odds are, I will get all misty-eyed and shed a few tears.  Weddings also give me the opportunity to watch television gems like Say Yes to the Dress and Four Weddings.  AND as a bonus, I love photographing weddings - something I thought I would like but wasn't totally sure I could handle until this year. 

Below is one of my favorite pictures from a wedding I assisted Monica with in August (see sidebar for her website). 

On a scale of 1-10, I'd say this is a full out "10" on the Romantic Scale.  Yes, there is such a thing as a Romantic Scale.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Day 28 – Thankful for Trick or Treat-ers

I love handing out candy to the kids – I dressed up like a witch, just like I do every year. So original, I know. I love to see all the different costumes. There were about 50 Mario and Luigis…not original. So here’s my top 3 costumes from Halloween 2010.

1.  A Whoopie-Cushion. If you bumped into him, he made a fart sound.

2.  A baby dressed like an egg and the dad was a giant chicken.

3.  A dollar bill. While this was just an ok costume, my friend said “oh there’s a dollar bill” and I bolted yelling “Where? I’ll get it!” This makes the list just because it made me look pathetically poor and cheap.

Day 27 - Thankful for Clean Sheets

Over the weekend (when I should have been writing this post), I changed the sheets on my bed.  Which I realize is normal, but isn't it delightful to sleep in cozy fresh sheets right after you change them?  They smell like Tide and fabric softener.  And it's getting cooler, so it's really cozy.  I can't wait to go to bed tonight!

**This should have been written on Sunday...forgive me!

Day 26 - Thankful for Comfort Food

I'm sorry, but whenever there is a chill in the air, I basically want to do nothing but sit here and eat delicious things.  And let's face it, most delicious things are not good for you.  So I'm thankful that on the weekends, I feel like I can eat whatever.  I don't order a sissy salad when I go out on the weekends.  I order things like Sunday Homestyle Chicken at Cracker Barrel.  Or Chicken Parmesan Milanese at Bravo.  And cinnamon melts at McDonald's. 

I can't wait until NEXT Friday.

**This should have been written on Saturday - sorry!