Monday, December 31, 2012

homemade irish cream

I wasn't going to worry about posting again until after the new year, but this was just too good not to share.

So what happened was...

When UGA lost the SEC Championship, I was feeling devastated and apparently somewhat bold, leading me to buy a bottle of bourbon...
Which, if you know me, you know is completely out of character considering wine or vodka sprite are my two drinks of choice always.
Plus, I'm not even a fan of dark liquor.
This purchase makes no sense really.

Needless to say, the aforementioned bourbon has gone untouched since that awful night.

So, I had been brainstorming about things I could do with it to make myself feel like it wasn't a total loss - {FYI, spiked apple cider is not as good as it sounds} - when Friday one of my favorite food blogs posted this recipe for homemade Bailey's.

I mean honestly, could it be any more meant to be?

Obviously I took the timing as a sign and jumped on it.

Best decision ever.

recipe found here via How Sweet Eats
Things you'll need:
5-6 oz. milk chocolate, roughly chopped {I used Nestle chocolate chips}
1 1/2 cups Irish whiskey {in my case, bourbon}
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 can evaporated milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups heavy cream
1/4 tsp instant coffee

Melt chocolate in microwave, stirring every 30 seconds.
I used a little over 5 oz. of chocolate.
What can I say, I love sweets.
When finished, whisk in a few tablespoons of whiskey to get the chocolate into a more liquid-y form.

Whisk in evaporated and condensed milks until smooth.
Then, add remaining whiskey, vanilla extract, heavy cream, and instant coffee.

Transfer to a large pitcher and refrigerate.
Make sure to stir at least once a day to make sure everything is well mixed so all the flavors can combine well!

And there you have it!
Serve over ice or in coffee!
I've even heard it's good in hot chocolate or over ice cream...
Just saying.

I do recommend going to How Sweet Eats and looking at the recipe too, if only for the pictures.
Her's make it look a lot more delicious than mine do and actually do it justice.

After trying this out, I have now fully jumped on the 'make your own infused-alcohol' train.
So you'll definitely be seeing more of that from me in 2013.

I can feel your excitement.

See you next year!

Friday, December 28, 2012

christmas review

Can ya'll believe Christmas is already over?!

It feels like it came and went in a flash this year, and I didn't really prepare myself for it to end.
Definitely suffering from some post-holiday funk over here.

Here's a little peek into some of the things I was up to over the break.
And i'm not going to lie...many of them are food related.

best 'white elephant' gift I've ever seen
my dad's contribution to Christmas Eve lunch
a new Christmas Eve tradition was started
my boyfriend won the award for 'boyfriend of the year'

a sneak peek of two Christmas dinner experiments that turned out great, thank goodness
{recipes to come!}

pup got a big gift from Santa
These are just a few of the many that were taken, so don't be surprised if I share a few more as I attempt to pull myself out of my post-Christmas blues.

And, as always, you can follow along on my Instagram web profile to get inside looks at the fun.

Hope you're all having a wonderful end to the holiday season.
I'll be back in the new year with tons of new recipes and random goodies for your enjoyment.

Happy New Year folks!

Friday, December 21, 2012

simple and delish guacamole

I have a recent obsession with avocado.

And if you know me at all, you know this is weird considering I've never really liked avocado.

I swear, as I've gotten older, my taste buds are continuously changing and my aversions to certain foods will just disappear.
Like, one day I'll wake up and think "I have got to have {fill in some random food I don't like here} today."

I am currently going through this same thing with brussel sprouts, which I have refused to eat for 25 years until yesterday when I decided I just have to make them for Christmas.
Because Christmas isn't Christmas without brussel sprouts?

I have no idea.

Anyway, this is basically what's happened with me and avocado, and this week I haven't been able to get enough.
So last night, since I didn't have to worry about making dinner for the boy, I decided to just make myself some guacamole and call it a night.

Who says guac can't be a main dish?

This guac is seriously so easy and delicious.
Over the last year it's been one of my go-to party apps, and not to toot my own horn or anything...
But toot toot.
There's never any leftover, so I'm taking that as a good sign!

Things you'll need:
3-4 avocados
1 medium tomato
1 lime
1/2 medium onion
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 cup cilantro {I use about a cup because I love cilantro, so feel free to add more!}
1/4 tsp sea salt

Slice avocados in half and scoop all of the inside goodness into a bowl.

Dice one medium tomato and toss it in.

Add the juice of one lime.
Feel free to add more if you like yours extra lime-y.

Don't forget the garlic!
I am convinced that this is the secret weapon of the entire recipe.
Every time I make this at least one person mentions how they never would've thought to add garlic.
Lets be honest though...
Garlic makes everything better.

Add white {or yellow} onion and cilantro.
Clearly I went heavy on the cilantro.
I can't help it.
I'm in love.

Mix with a fork, coarsely mashing the avocado to your desired consistency.
Add 1/4 tsp of salt, and enjoy!
And whatever you do, do not mistake a tablespoon for a teaspoon.
I may or may not have done this once and completely ruined an entire batch.

This is not only great as a dip, but also as a topping.
For example, I'm have a pita sandwich for lunch today with spinach and chicken, and this guac is going to fit in perfectly as a mayo substitute.

Lastly, I want to just take a second here and reiterate how much I love anniversaries.
I swear I won't mention it again after this.

My sweet boy had flowers and a bear half the size of me delivered to my work, which was probably the most exciting thing to ever happen because:
1. I love surprises, and;
2. I love getting mail.

He knows me so well.

We celebrated with a nice dinner out, then dessert and champagne at home.
Perfect day.

Have a wonderful weekend, and travel safely if you're headed out of town for the holidays!
I'll be down in Peachtree City visiting the Destefanis and hanging out with my dad.
And maybe making some more boozy hot chocolate with a new creation I've discovered.

Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012


Just stopping by to let you all know I've finally claimed my blog on Bloglovin'...
So feel free to join the fun and follow this little creation of mine!

To do so, click the button under the Follow the Fun section on the right side of the screen that says 'follow this blog via bloglovin'.
I'd love to have you!

Happy Wednesday!

And happy anniversary to my sweet boyfriend!
Life would not be the same without you.
That's for sure.


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

lightened up white chicken chili

This weekend was full of parties and Christmas spirit, and I loved every minute of it.

Including, but not limited to:

Joe's fancy office party...
...complete with mashed potato bar
after-party treats I whipped up...who doesn't like peanut butter choc chip cookies at midnight?
park day with the puppy
a Christmas-y birthday party with my first pomosa!
{the pom arils made their way into my wine afterwards...yum}
We had such a great time hanging out with friends and sharing in all the festivities.
And with everything that happened Friday in Connecticut, I felt even more grateful to spend the weekend with loved ones.
I don't really like to comment when things like this happen {which, lets face it, is incredibly more often than it should} because I feel like no matter what I say, the sadness I feel can in no way come close to what the families affected are having to endure.
But I will say this...
If ya'll haven't seen the opening clip of last night's episode of The Voice, you should go watch it.
And take a moment to be grateful.
For family, friends, and life in general.
Because it's absolutely not guaranteed.
If I've learned anything from Friday, it's that.

Moving on.

I didn't spend much time in the kitchen this weekend {besides midnight ramekin cookies because...duh}, but I do have a recipe to share today!

Remember the white chicken chili I showed you Friday?

recipe slightly adapted via

Things you'll need:
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 medium-large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 lbs raw chicken breast, cubed
1-2 tbsp chili powder {1 is perfectly fine, but I like things a little spicier so I used about 2}
4 tsp. cumin
salt, to taste
3 cans cannellini beans
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
3/4 cup fat free evaporated milk
2 tbsp cornstarch
1/8 cup water
reduced fat shredded cheese {I used fiesta blend, but anything like cheddar, colby, monterey, etc. will work!}

In a Dutch oven or large pot, heat olive oil on low-medium heat and saute onions until tender.
{about 4 to 5 minutes}
During last minute, throw in minced garlic.

Cut chicken into small cubes and season with chili powder, cumin, and salt.

Side note: if I'm being honest, those seasoning measurements are just ballpark estimates.
It doesn't hurt to season this to taste, which is what I personally did.
I like things to be spicy and seasoned really well, but that's just me.

Push onions to one side of pot and add chicken.

Cook 5 to 6 minutes, until chicken is browned on all sides.

Stir in 2 cans of cannellini beans and 2 cups of broth.
Increase heat to medium-high and bring to simmer.
Cover and cook for about 8 minutes, until chicken is thoroughly cooked.

In the meantime, put last can of beans and last cup of broth into food processor and run until smooth.
When chili is done simmering, add bean puree and evaporated milk.
Dissolve cornstarch in water, and add to chili.
Let boil for a minute, until it thickens to desired consistency.
More cornstarch can be added if needed.

Sprinkle with cheese, cilantro {which sadly I was out of}, and a dollop of fat free sour cream.
Et voila!

This chili was absolutely delicious, and I ate it for two straight days because:
1. I love anything with Mexican seasonings, and;
2. Joe hates beans and refused to even try one...ridiculous.

Oh well.
More for me.

While this isn't a completely clean recipe, I do think this is a lighter version compared to the original recipe
Mostly because I swapped out the half & half for fat free evaporated milk, saving roughly 112 calories!
You probably won't need the cornstarch mixture if you use half & half though, since it's definitely creamier in texture.

It's all about personal preference and what you like though!

In other exciting news...
Tomorrow marks 4 whole years Joe and I have been dating.
No joke, it feels like it has literally flown by.
So if you need me tomorrow, I'll be celebrating 4 great years with the sweetest guy I know.

Hope everyone's having a great week so far!

Friday, December 14, 2012

friday favorites

TGIF ya'll!

What a week.

Even though the heater in my car decided to break the week it actually starts to feel like December here {just my luck}, so many good things happened this week that I'm really not even that mad about it.
I'm all glass-half-full over here, obviously.

Tonight is Joe's company Christmas party, so I'm excited to get all dressed up and spend a night in the city at the Fox Theatre having cocktails and finally meeting all the people I've heard so much about over the last year and a half.
I can't remember the last time I:
1. Got all dressed up {graduation dinner maybe?}, or;
2. Went to the Fox Theatre.

It's going to be so fun!

Do you guys have any fun plans or parties to attend this weekend?
I am engulfed with the holiday spirit this year so I'd love to hear about them!

Here are some things I'm loving this week/reasons why I'm so optimistic despite my car troubles:

1.  Finally finished our very first Christmas card!

Please excuse the horrible bright faces {I promise it doesn't look that way in person} - I just couldn't seem to get a good picture for some reason!
But you get the idea.
And let me also point out how much I love receiving cards that have pets on them.

my sweet friend, Kayla, with her boyfriend and their awesome pets

2. Speaking of pets - AJ has been amazing company this week while Joe's been out of town.

He has been so clingy this week, and I love every second of it.
Cuddle away, you adorable pup you.

Side note - my couch covers are giving me anxiety.  They refuse to stay in place, and if they had a face I'd punch it.

3. Surprises at work

Two of my favorite surprises this week have been the Dove dark chocolate bar and the biggest peppermint mocha I've ever had in my life.
Have I mentioned how much I love my bosses?

4. Heartwarming dinners

Pictured above is my first attempt at Chipotle White Chicken Chili {recipe to come on Monday!}, and let me just tell you...
Delicious is an understatement.
My love affair with all things Mexican continues.

5. New snacks

I am totally digging pomegranates right now.
I had no idea how good the actual fruit is!
I was intimidated by them for so long that I never even went as far as buying one, and now I realize what a mistake that was.
When I finally gained the courage to get one, I found this ridiculously simple tutorial on how to deseed it.
So if you haven't tried a pomegranate yet, I suggest you get one immediately and use that tutorial because it worked like a charm!

6. Finished banner

I used the free printable letters I shared a few weeks ago to make a Christmas banner for our place.
I think it adds just the right festive touch above our little bar window.

Happy weekend friends!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

skinny stuffed shells

You know that desperate feeling that comes with paying a lot of expensive bills at once?

Today I have that feeling.

My heater hose decided today it wanted to leak antifreeze fumes into the car while I was driving, so needless to say I had an interesting morning.
Not to mention, this is the month I have to start paying back those student loans that seemed so glorious at the time.

Side note: I can't believe I graduated six months ago! Where does the time go?!

If ya'll need me, I'll be frantically playing the lottery and hoping for my money tree to start growing.

On the bright side, I'm back on the success train with recipes and have a delicious one to share today!

I was planning to pick up a few things so I could make white chicken chili last night, when at the last minute I had an epiphany - you have all the ingredients to throw something together you've never made...and avoid the grocery store.


Things you'll need:
Enough jumbo shells to cover a baking dish in a single layer - I used about 20
1 container part-skim ricotta cheese
1 package frozen spinach
1 clove garlic
oregano, to taste
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste
reduced fat Parmesan cheese
2 cups marinara sauce

Cook shells according to package directions.
When al dente, drain and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking process.

Mince garlic and put in medium mixing bowl.

Add ricotta...

...and spinach, oregano, salt, and pepper.

Stir well, and top off with some Parmesan for good measure.

Spread half a cup of marinara sauce in bottom of dish, and get to stuffing!
Put about two tablespoons-ish of your ricotta/spinach mixture into each shell.

Cover with remaining 1.5 cups marinara.

Add some more Parmesan {because let's be honest, the cheese is always the best part}, cover with glass top or aluminum foil, and bake for 20 minutes at 375 degrees.
After 20 minutes, remove cover and let bake for 10 more minutes or until cheese has browned a bit.

And there you have it!
The simplest fancy dinner you will ever make.

After making these, I'm honestly not sure why I never thought to try them earlier.
They were so easy!
Also, they made for delicious leftovers today at work since I obviously don't know how to cook for one.
{Joe, come home to me already!}

The best thing about these is that one serving is less than 500 calories!
Closer to 400 to be exact.

Hooray for healthy Italian food!

{p.s. - Shout out to my sweet friend, Ashley, on her 23rd BIRTHDAY TODAY!! I love you and can't wait to celebrate with you soon!}