Friday, November 30, 2012

friday favorites

This week actually feels like it has flown by.
Which is awesome, because this time tomorrow I'll be doing what I do best {tailgating for the Dawgs, obviously} and that couldn't get here soon enough.
I mean honestly, hurry up already!

Are ya'll doing anything exciting this weekend?

Here are a few things that I've been loving this week.

1. Co-worker birthdays
My bosses are notorious for bringing in the most delicious cakes when someone has a birthday.
Past examples include apple pie, chocolate chunk cheesecake, and a pumpkin cake for yours truly.
Pictured above is the latest addition: oreo ice cream cake.
I love my job.

2. This article I found on Apartment Therapy about ways to be happy at home.  This week I've been trying some of these out, and I have to agree that the simplest thing, coming home to a bed that's been made, has made a difference.  Now I just need to work on #5 of the list.
Raise your hand if you hate folding laundry as much as I do!

Go ahead and put your hand down because that's literally impossible.

3. Free printables!  
picture via
Particularly this site with adorable free labels for pretty much any occasion you would need a label for, and this site with letters to create your own banner!  I've already printed out 'merry' to make a Christmas banner for our apartment.  Who doesn't love festive banners?!

4.  Christmas photo ideas

This weekend I'm hoping to get some Christmas pictures taken so that I can make us our first Christmas card.  I have my sites set on wrapping AJ in some twinkly lights, but we'll see how that works out.  If you know my dog, you know he hates sitting still and will chew on anything that gets in his way, so cross your fingers for me on that one.
5. SEC Championship hype videos - specifically this one made by some students on campus.  If you haven't seen this already on my Facebook, click that link, watch it, and get pumped with me for tomorrow!

Hope everyone has a fun and safe weekend!


southwestern taco dip

I have been really bad this week.

Joe has been out of town, which in turn has led me to be extremely lazy when it comes to the simplest of tasks.
Namely, grocery shopping or making myself any kind of meal.
Enter Ramen noodles and Honey Bunches of Oats.

Thankfully, I have a few things I've made in past weeks on reserve for occasions like this.
And in the spirit of the SEC Championship this weekend {GO DAWGS!}, I've decided it's time to share one of our favorite tailgate dips.

Warning: if you're looking for a healthy tailgate recipe, this is not it.

I do love making tailgate foods that incorporate healthy things, particularly fruit.

Sangria counts as a fruit concoction, right?

Anyway, this dip isn't the healthiest thing, but it is definitely one of Joe's favorites and it always makes an appearance at least twice during the football season.
Mostly because:
1. It makes a lot {half a crockpot!}
2. It's made in the crockpot, so it's super easy and it's one less thing I have to worry about when I'm cooking for a crowd

*Note: I do not have a picture of the finished product.  My apologies for being a moron and eating half the dip before it even crossed my mind I needed a photo.

Things you'll need:
31 oz. can refried beans
10 oz. can Rotel {or diced tomatoes w/ green chiles}
1 lb. block of Velveeta cheese
1 medium onion
1 packet taco seasoning {I like to buy the spicy kind for a little extra kick}
1 lb ground beef

Mix refried beans and Rotel in your crockpot.

Brown one pound of ground beef in a skillet on medium heat.

While beef is browning, cut your block of Velveeta into cubes and toss them into the crockpot with the bean/Rotel mixture.
Don't worry about your cubes looking pretty - they're all going to melt anyway!

Add ground beef and taco seasoning to crockpot, and stir until everything is incorporated.
{Sorry about the horrible shadow on this picture! Yikes.}

Toss in a diced onion, cover, and cook on low heat for 1.5 to 2 hours, stirring every 30 minutes or so to incorporate the cheese better.

Et voila!
Serve with tortilla chips and your favorite tailgate cocktail.
This may not look pretty, but it is delicious.
And that's what matters most around these parts.

You wouldn't know it from the recipes I've shared so far, but I have a mild obsession with crockpots.
I do own seven of them.

That's a story for another day, though.

Also, I realize it's Friday, which means it's time for some weekly favorites.
So keep an eye out because you just might be getting two posts out of me today.

Happy tailgating!

Monday, November 26, 2012

crunchy peanut butter cups

Happy Monday friends!

This past weekend feels like it literally flew by.
Probably because I was doing so many fun things!
Including but not limited to:

my new Maybooks planner arrived on Friday!
UGAvsGT in Athens {second weekend visiting in a row - yay!}
Obviously we had to have beer at 10:30am.
It wasn't even a question.
quick photo session at the fountain by Herty Field after the game
spotted at Home Depot: swag on sale for $5
We didn't buy any swag, but we did leave with TWO Christmas trees!
Joe even picked out miniature purple drums for the baby tree - so adorable.
Did anyone else decorate this weekend?
After I finished decorating our tree I actually felt sad that I didn't have more to do.
So don't be surprised if I post more decorating pictures later when I inevitably splurge on more decor.

Now, to the important part.

recipe via
I'm gonna go ahead and warn you.
I forgot to take pictures in the process of making these.
Mostly because so much was going on in the kitchen Thanksgiving morning that it just completely slipped my mind.
But I think the after pictures speak for themselves really.

Also, if you happen to click the recipe link underneath the photo, you'll see that mine actually turned out amazingly similar to the originals.
I'm clearly patting myself on the back for that one.

Things you'll need:

1/4 cup butter
3/4 cup peanut butter
3/4 cup graham crackers - crushed
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup chocolate chips {any kind you like will do - I used semisweet}
1/4 cup milk
sea salt for sprinkling

1. Line a muffin tin with cupcake liners - these measurements made 8 cups.

2. In a microwave safe bowl {or using a double boiler}, melt butter and peanut butter together until smooth.

3. Add crushed graham crackers and sugar to butter/PB mixture.  {*Note: You don't want your graham crackers to be finely crushed...just small chunky pieces so you'll get a crunch in each bite.}

4. Distribute mixture evenly into muffin tin, filling each cup about halfway.  Refrigerate for 15-20 minutes until chilled and set.

5. Combine and melt chocolate chips and milk in a microwave safe bowl {or double boiler} until smooth.

6. Pour chocolate evenly over chilled peanut butter mixture, and sprinkle sea salt on top.

7. Refrigerate for 30-40 minutes until completely chilled.

*Serve when chilled or store covered in the refrigerator.

These babies are delicious, and so incredibly easy.
If you're looking for something quick to throw together for a Christmas party or as an edible gift, these would be perfect.



Friday, November 23, 2012


pine cone turkey given to us by a visitor at work
I'd like to start out by apologizing for the lack of holiday recipes this week!
The past few days I have been sans computer because Joe and I headed down to Peachtree City to spend the holiday with his family.
I do have some things to share though that I will get to as soon as possible...most likely Sunday since we also have a busy weekend ahead.

Holiday weeks are so hectic!

Today is going to be a little different.
I know I usually give you all a rundown of my favorite things from the week, but since this week has been so weird I'm going to skip that and just share with you what I was up to over the holiday.

However, if I was going to do a favorites list, gel manicures would be number one today.
I got one Wednesday and to say I'm obsessed would be the understatement of the century.

I'm not completely in love with the color...
But any polish that will stay in tact even when I nearly slice off my hand peeling potatoes as fast as I can during the Annual Potato Peeling contest is alright with me.
True story.

Other things I did over the past week include:

the biggest margarita known to man
becoming champion of aforementioned Potato Peeling Championship and getting to take this baby home for the next year!
making cornbread stuffing {family recipe to come} for the Destefanis
attempting a Pinterest dessert {recipe also to follow} and it turning out awesome.
Pinterest for the win!
hanging with my sleepy boyfriend
gathering in the street to see the annual lighting ceremony after Thanksgiving dinner
Not pictured above:
*lunch date with Kayla, my best friend since high school
*meeting a ton of Joe's high school friends I've never met before
*shopping for Thanksgiving dinner at 1:00 in the morning with Ashley
*naps on naps on naps

This year I am feeling particularly thankful for where I am in life.
So to everyone who is even remotely close to me, please know that I'm grateful to have each and every one of you here cheering me on daily and you are all near and dear to my heart.

You're all awesome.


Monday, November 19, 2012

my weekend in pictures/DIY tutorial

greek crepe via Pauley's Original Crepe Bar 
drinks at Allgood

new fall flavors

hot chocolate with butterscotch schnapps & caramel vodka...aka. heaven in a cup
gameday with my "sister"  
walking through the arch with Joe's mom, who's also a UGA grad
cheering on the Dawgs

sleepy pup after a day at the dog park
My weekend was obviously amazing.
Girls' night was a complete success, hence the crepe, various beverages, and dessert. {not pictured: a midnight trip to see Breaking Dawn part 2 - so awesome, btw - and being locked out of the apartment at big deal.}
Saturday, we woke up early and got to try Zaxby's new breakfast menu, which is being test marketed in Athens.
Also, Ashley's parents decided to surprise us and come up for the Georgia game, so I decided last minute to stick around and join them.
I mean how could I leave Athens on a gameday?!
My original plan was obviously stupid.

Yesterday I spent the day relaxing and trying to play catch up from the lack of sleep that accompanies a girls' night.
Joe and I also had a lunch date and took the pup to Newtown Dream Dog Park to run around for a bit.
If ya'll live anywhere near the John's Creek area, I definitely suggest taking your dog here...quite possibly the coolest park we've been to.
AJ goes crazy every time playing in the fountains.
Overall, it was a great day!

Alas, the weekend was too short, yet again.

Thankfully this week I have Wednesday and Thursday off to celebrate Thanksgiving!
Which, of course, means I'm going to have some delicious holiday recipes to share with you all.
Not only will I be making stuffing {my family's passed down recipe that always turns out amazing}, but I will also be looking for some delicious treat/snack to make.
If anyone has any must-make suggestions, please share!

Also, I wanted to quickly share something I tried out yesterday.
If ya'll are anything like me, your lips get super dry and chapped when the chilly weather starts moving in.
This year in particular my lips have been struggling.
So last night I set out to find a way to exfoliate them instead of just drenching them in chapstick.

homemade lip scrub
picture and tutorial via
This was by far the most basic recipe I found, but it absolutely did the trick!
I didn't make enough to need a tin to store it in {I just made enough for one use}, but I'll definitely be remaking it in bulk soon.
I also think I'm going to throw in a drop or two of honey next time.
It doesn't really need anything added to it, but a lot of other Pinterest tutorials included honey so I'm interested to see if it makes a difference or not.

Anyway, the moral of this story is if you're looking for a quick {and cheap!} lip exfoliate to add to your beauty routine, this is a great place to start!

*Check out the link below the picture for the full tutorial.

Happy holiday week!

Friday, November 16, 2012

friday favorites

Today I'm in a particularly good mood because after work I'm headed to Athens for a night of fun with two of my favorite girlfriends, Ashley and Stephanie.
The plan is to hit up Pauley's Original Crepe Bar for dinner {which just so happens to be one of my favorite restaurants in Athens}, have a few drinks downtown, and then spend the rest of the night catching up, watching all our favorite shows, and hopefully trying a new cocktail!
Is it 5:00 yet?

Do ya'll have anything fun planned for the weekend?

Okay I'm just going to go ahead and warn you guys...
If you're a close friend of mine and you're reading this, you're about to find out what I'm getting you for Christmas.
So, if you hate spoilers, skip number one on my favorites list.
I'd leave it off, but I am just too obsessed to not share.

Consider yourself warned.

Without further ado...

1. Maybooks - I don't know about you guys, but I have to write things down or I will forget them immediately.  Maybooks is a collection of adorable customized planners that are actually affordable!  Take a second and play with this site.  You will not be disappointed.  You can even choose what kind of planner you want {weekly agenda, wedding planner, meal planner, baby book, etc}.  I may or may not be ordering myself a meal planner today.

2. Pinstrocity - Tiffany pointed this site out to me yesterday, and I could not stop looking at it!  Basically it's a collection of popular pins on Pinterest that have been executed poorly...and I'm not going to lie, I've had trouble with a few Pinterest projects myself, so it's fun to see that I'm not the only one!

3. Crochet bulbs

crochet christmas lights
picture via

I am determined to try these out this year in my crocheting fury - we have a little bar/window area in our apartment that would be perfect to hang these under!

4. Felt flowers

DIY Felt Flowers: A Tutorial
picture via
Another project I've had my eye on are these adorable felt flowers.  I'm thinking they'd be perfect in a little bouquet on the new nightstands I have my eye on for our bedroom.

5. Wine ice cream

Wine ice cream. 5% alcohol. This will revolutionize break-ups and girls' nights.
picture via
Do I even need to explain this one?
I mean really.
And speaking of booze, let me reiterate what cocktail I'm trying to talk my friends into trying...

6. Hot Caramel Apple Cider

Hot Caramel Apple Cider for Grown-ups! Great idea. haha.
picture via
Hopefully I will come back with good news about this one.
It just looks so perfect for this chilly weather!
And now I've given it a shout out twice in one post so they have no choice but to try it...

Hope you all have an amazing weekend!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

spicy potato and chicken casserole

I was a little hesitant to share this recipe...

For one, it's not the healthiest meal in the world {although there are definitely ways to lighten it up}.
Secondly, it's a little strange...well, one step in particular.
But if you bear with me, I promise you won't be disappointed.

I have made this twice so far, and both times it has gotten rave reviews.

Who doesn't like roasted potatoes, chicken, and cheese though?


recipe adapted from here
*The original recipe calls this "loaded potato and buffalo chicken casserole," which is pretty much exactly what this is...
However, I like to call it "spicy potato and chicken casserole" because:
1. That's the exact thing I googled to find it, and;
2. When I googled that, I was trying to see if there was a good way to make potatoes spicy.
FYI, there is and they're awesome.

Things you'll need:
2 chicken breasts, thawed and cubed
5-8 medium red potatoes {I think I used 6 here}
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tbsp ground pepper
1 tbsp paprika
1/2 tsp chili powder
dash of garlic salt
1/4 cup hot sauce {I used Texas Pete}
shredded cheese {I've used fiesta blend, mozzarella, taco name it. It's all good.}
3 slices of bacon, chopped {I always use Bacon Bits because it's less of a pain}

*Feel free to play with these measurements!
Joe and I love spicy stuff, so I put way more hot sauce than the original recipe calls for.  It's just so good!

Mix olive oil, pepper, paprika, chili powder, garlic salt, and hot sauce together in a bowl.
Chop up your potatoes into cubes, and toss them around in the hot sauce/oil mixture.
Bake at 450 degrees for 40 minutes to an hour, stirring every 15 minutes or so to make sure they brown on all sides.
When they're done, turn the oven down to 425 degrees.

While potatoes are roasting, put your cubed chicken in what's left over of the hot sauce/oil mixture.
Cover and let marinate.
The chicken will absorb almost all of the sauce.

This is the strange part.
Put the raw chicken on top of the cooked potatoes.
This step totally weirded me out the first time I made this.
Raw chicken is just so...icky.
But trust me, this step is key.

Cover the raw chicken in cheese.
Featured here is a blend of taco cheeses and mozzarella.
Any cheese you like will work...these are just what I had on hand.

Sprinkle chopped bacon/Bacon Bits over the top.
You can also add chives, chopped creative!
If it can go in a baked potato, it can go on this casserole.

Bake for 10-15 minutes, until chicken is cooked through and cheese is browned and bubbly.
I put mine in for exactly 15 minutes just for good measure.

Also, the chicken always turns out amazingly tender.
Like, more tender than any other baked chicken I've done.
It's just all around delicious.
So go make it and report back.


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

butternut squash gratin

Why did no one tell me how delicious butternut squash is?!

I mean seriously.
Best kept secret thus far.

I've noticed lately that many of the food blogs I follow have been posting recipes using butternut squash, but I've never personally cooked with it before.
Until yesterday, when my life was changed.

FYI: I was nauseas and feeling awful all day yesterday, and I swear this stuff nursed me back to life.
Probably because it tastes exactly like Thanksgiving in a bowl, and how can that not make you feel better.
But I swear, I felt 10 times better after eating this for dinner.
So that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

recipe adapted from here
Things you'll need:
3 cups butternut squash {I bought one small/medium sized squash and used the whole thing}
1 small-medium onion
1-2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp mayo
1 egg
2/3 cup Parmesan cheese
1/3 cub bread crumbs
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
pepper, to taste
I used a squash this size {which ended up being a little more than 3 cups}, but in my opinion, the more the merrier.

Cut, peel, and spoon all the seeds out.
I meant to take a picture of my sink after this process.
It looked like I massacred a tiny pumpkin.
Except not as gooey as pumpkin guts.

Cut into cubes and cover with cold water in a pot.
Cover and bring to a boil.
When it starts boiling, turn down the heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes until tender.
Then drain and rinse with cold water.

While squash is simmering, heat olive oil and saute diced onion until transparent.
Remove from heat to cool slightly.

In a mixing bowl, beat mayo, egg, and salt together.
Then, add 1/3 cup Parmesan, mozzarella, bread crumbs, onions, and squash.
Season with pepper, and stir gently to mix.

Note: I usually never cook with mayo because there are just too many good substitutes for it...I'm sure you could replace the mayo with non-fat plain yogurt.  However, all I had was vanilla yogurt, which obviously wouldn't fly here.  So I used Blue Plate Light Mayo - 50 cals per tbsp.

Spray a casserole dish with cooking spray and spoon in your squash mixture.
Cover with the remaining 1/3 cup Parmesan, and bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes to an hour, until heated through and cheese browns slightly.
{I did mine for 40 minutes}

Take out of the oven, and enjoy immediately!

The original recipe also lists some steps you can do early to shorten your time in the kitchen, like if you were going to make this for a holiday dinner and wanted to speed things up.

Also, you'll notice the original recipe did not call for mozzarella.
That was my attempt at trying to make this a boyfriend-friendly dish by adding Joe's second favorite cheese {Parmesan being the first, of course}.
I don't think he's ever told me those are his favorites, but judging by the amount of times I've had to buy them at the store I'm deeming it true.

Joe's opinion overall {drumroll please}:

"I'm sure other people would love you want mine?"

Poor guy, ha.

He was a great sport though, so I can't complain.
And I did end up eating his...and maybe another spoonful when I took our dishes to the sink.
And some for lunch today.

No biggie.