Thursday, January 31, 2013

brussel sprouts with toasted nuts and brown butter

Remember back around Christmastime when I said I was determined to make brussels sprouts even though I had never even eaten them before?

Well, that was a great decision.
Because they turned out delicious and were a great compliment to all of the other buttery, cheesy holiday foods on the table.
It can't hurt to throw a green or two in there, right?

I'll be honest with you.
The hardest part of this recipe is cutting all the darn sprouts.
And that's not because it's hard, per say.
Really it's just one of the most tedious tasks on the planet.
Cut stem, chop in half, repeat.
Over and over and over.

However, the end result was definitely worth it.

And don't even get me started on the brown butter.

How have I never used brown butter before?
Hands down I believe that is what brought the rich flavor to this dish.

Don't be surprised if you see a dessert on here soon with brown butter in it.
I'm just saying.

recipe adapted via How Sweet Eats

Things you'll need:
2 tbsp olive oil
3-4 cups raw brussels sprouts, stems removed and chopped in half
2 garlic cloves
dash of salt
dash of pepper
2 tbsp butter
1/2 cup pecans, roughly chopped {or sub pecans for almonds or pine nuts...whatever floats your boat}

In a small skillet, toast pecans for 3-5 minutes on low heat, just until aromatic.  Stir gently or shake pan every 20 seconds-ish so you don't burn them.  {Ashley and I learned this the hard way and had to throw our first batch out!}  Remove from heat to cool.

In a large skillet, heat olive oil on medium-high heat and saute garlic for 1-2 minutes.
Add brussels sprouts and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Cook for 8-10 minutes, tossing occasionally, until browned.
{I did mine for 10 and my dad thinks they could've gone a little critiques are the most important, right?}

In a separate saucepan, heat butter on medium heat, stirring constantly until it turns a golden brown color.
Here is a more in-depth description on how to brown your own butter.
Super easy.
And did I mention it's amazing?
Remove from heat as soon as it turns brown and little specs start to appear.

Toss brussels sprouts and pecans together in a serving bowl.
Drizzle brown butter on top, and serve!

I would definitely make these again.
They were the perfect addition to a nice holiday meal, when you're looking for a way to jazz up your everyday cooking style.
And despite the butter drizzle, they actually tasted healthy and made me feel a little better about stuffing my face with this mac and cheese.

How is everyone's week going?

Mine has been super exciting because my Breville Juice Fountain Plus arrived last night!
And I got it for a steal on Amazon.
So, of course, I'll be sharing my favorite juice combos as soon as I get a chance to really play with it.
And as usual, any and all suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

It also came with a recipe for a pineapple colada that I may or may not have to try this weekend.
Summer will be here soon and I need to start doing cocktail research now, right?

Monday, January 28, 2013

cinnamon vanilla banana bread

Let me start out by saying I'm sorry...

...for all you haters that will forever miss out on the awesome night that comes along with a Bieber concert.

I'm not going to lie...
That concert is definitely on my top 5 list of most fun shows I've seen.

Partly because I'm not ashamed of my Bieber fever...
But also it was a lot of fun getting dressed up silly and going out for drinks with Kayla, who I don't see nearly enough.
Overall, two thumbs up.
Biebs, you stole my heart, just like I knew you would.

Moving on.

Last week I noticed some of our bananas were starting to get a little too ripe.

Honestly, as much as Joe and I love fruit, it's hard for two people to eat 5 pounds of bananas.
Oh, Costco.

So, I decided I wanted to make some kind of banana bread.
I've been dying to do it for awhile now, but:
1. We usually buy a normal amount of bananas and finish them all fairly quickly, and;
2. I don't have a loaf pan.

I've also been dying to try baking something with applesauce, since it seems to be the new craze now.
You know, gotta see what all the fuss is about.

I found a really simple recipe via Pinterest {of course} and decided to make some tweaks and try to create a good {and healthy!} go-to breakfast muffin.

And here's what I came up with.

recipe adapted via here
Things you'll need:
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup sugar-free applesauce
3/4 cup honey
2 eggs, beaten
1 tbsp vanilla extract
cinnamon, to taste {I put in 2-3 dashes to make it a pretty cinnamon color}
3 overripe mashed bananas

*There are no pictures of the process for this one because honestly, it's just too simple. Showing you pictures of flour in a bowl just seemed a little ridic.


1. Preheat over to 350 degrees, and lightly grease a muffin pan or use cupcake liners.

2. Mix together flour, baking soda, and salt {all dry ingredients} in a large mixing bowl.

3. In another bowl, mix together applesauce and honey.  Add eggs and mashed bananas until well blended.  Add vanilla extract and cinnamon.

4. Slowly incorporate dry mix into wet mix until well blended. I like to leave a few chunks of banana, just so there are a few surprise banana bites hidden in the muffins.

5. Fill muffin cups about 2/3 of the way full.  Bake for 15-20 minutes.

I baked mine for a little over 20 minutes because the original recipe {which is for an entire loaf} has a cooking time way longer, so my muffins turned out a little dry.
Still delish, just a tad bit drier than I'd prefer.
So, word to the wise, keep an eye on these and don't let them overcook!
15 minutes or so should do the trick.

Unless you're trying to do an entire loaf of bread, in which case you'll definitely have to bake it for longer.

I took these for breakfast everyday last week, and they were awesome!
Very filling and not too many calories.
And a perfect compliment to my daily hazelnut cappuccino.

Needless to say, I'll definitely be doing these again soon.

Happy Monday, friends!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

broccoli carrot soup with a kick

Is it just me, or does watching the Biggest Loser really make you want to lose weight?

I mean, I already want to lose weight {like 99% of women on the planet}, but put Biggest Loser on and I'm frantically searching for clean recipes and making ridiculous plans to go to the gym at 5:30am.

That last one didn't happen this morning, if you're wondering.

However, I have jumped on board the "grasping-my-New-Years-resolution-watching-Biggest-Loser-makes-me-feel-gross" train of thought.
And don't get me wrong.
I love pretty much every fruit or vegetable there is.
It's living with the pickiest eater I've ever known that makes clean eating difficult.

So I'm on a mission.
To make healthy recipes that actually taste good.
That my pizza-loving boyfriend can eat without feeling starved.
You heard it here first, folks.

And I've already got two good things to share!

But let's start with this delicious soup.

recipe slightly adapted from here
Things you'll need:

4 medium carrots, diced {I did mine in the food processor}
5 cups broccoli florets {or one 16 oz. frozen bag}
2 tbsp. butter
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 cups almond milk
3 tbsp. cornstarch
3 tbsp. cold water
1/8 tsp. cumin {or to taste}
1/8 tsp. chili powder {or to taste}
black powder, to taste {I used a pretty good bit because I love pepper}
small dash of cayenne pepper

Melt butter and saute carrots until tender, about 3 to 5 minutes depending on how big the pieces are.
Mine were small thanks to the food processor, so it only took about 3 minutes.

Add chicken broth, broccoli, cumin, and chili powder.
Let simmer for 10 minutes, until broccoli is tender.

Using a hand blender, puree broccoli/carrot mixture to desired texture.
I left a few chunks of broccoli, but it was mostly smooth.
{Also, if you don't have a hand blender, you can totally do this in your regular blender in batches.}
Add almond milk.
Dissolve cornstarch in cold water, and let it boil for about a minute, until soup thickens.
Feel free to add another small cornstarch/cold water slurry if needed.
Season with lots of pepper and a dash of cayenne.


I was super nervous about how this soup would turn out.
Mostly because I basically made it up.
I followed the basic principles of the original recipe, but the veggies and seasoning were all me.

And I'm not going to lie, I was pleasantly surprised.
I'd like to think Joe was too.

He did say he'd definitely eat it again.

Sweet, sweet victory.

*Note: Feel free to play around with the vegetables here.  I used carrots and broccoli because that's what I had on hand.  I'm sure adding celery, onion, potato, or mushroom would only make this more delicious - and healthy!

Next up I'll be sharing the cinnamon banana muffins I experimented with.
But that will have to wait until Thursday, because tomorrow I'll be dancing the night away with the Biebs himself.
Hate on, haters.

Happy Tuesday!

Friday, January 18, 2013

friday things

1.  I'm calling this 'Friday Things' because it will include more than just my current favorite things {i.e. random thoughts and such. It's good to try new things, right?}.

2.  Do ya'll remember this pin on how to make baked apples in the crockpot?  Well stop what you're doing and go make them, because they are nothing short of amazing.  And did I mention easy?  Easy, as in Tiff and I just made them in a tiny crockpot at work.  That easy.

3.  Is anyone else feeling a slight twinge of Seasonal Affect Disorder with this crazy weather we've been having?  Last weekend it was 70 here in Atlanta, and yesterday there was a warning for an 'icy mix!'  I'm not totally ready for the cool weather to go away, but seriously, Georgia, I can't take this bipolar stuff.  Choose a season and stick with it!

4.  Has anyone been watching this season of The Joe Schmo Show?  I never hear anyone talking about it.  If you haven't watched it and you like goofy reality television, pop on over to that site and watch an episode.  I promise it won't disappoint.

5.  Joe and I joined Costco this week {finally...we had been debating about it for months now}, and I think it's safe to say I'm obsessed.  I also think it's safe to say that we have an unhealthy amount of mozzarella residing in our fridge at the moment.  But I can guarantee you we're going to have the best homemade pizza ever for dinner tonight.  So at least there's that.

6.  Speaking of Costco, I found a juicer there for a decent price and I'm trying to decide if I should jump on the juice train when I get my tax return.  Thoughts?  Success stories?  Favorite juice recipes?  Any and all opinions on this would be helpful, as clearly I'm the most indecisive person on the planet.

7.  I'm going to admit something to you guys that I haven't told anyone...I can't stop watching Nashville.  Or listening to the soundtrack on Spotify.  Or daydreaming of taking a trip there to have a beer at the Bluebird Cafe and listen to Scarlett and Gunner serenade the crowd.  I get how ridiculous that sounds, so don't even start.  Seriously though...I want to go to Nashville.

8.  I have about five other points I could make about my current obsession with specific television shows, but I'll spare you.

9.  I did an in-depth analysis of my finances this week, only to realize I am spending entirely too much money on ridiculous things.  Great.  So, in hopes of fixing this problem, I'm on a mission to eat out less - specifically, to go a month without dining out and see how much it saves me.  Wish me luck...I'm 100% going to need it.  This also means I will be cooking a lot more, so it will be better for us all.  New year, new you, right?

Hope you're all having an amazing Friday.

Yay weekend!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

blue tuesday

Have you guys ever heard of Blue Monday?

Well, if there was ever such a thing as Blue Tuesday, today would be it.
I can't even begin to tell you how bad I wish I was back in bed right now sleeping off this horrible morning.

Enter: my back driver's side tire.

Wonderful way to start off your morning, let me tell you.
Not to mention, it happened on a day I absolutely had to be at work on time.

So before my head explodes from frustration, let's reminisce about better times (like this past weekend).

To start, Joe and I did the Hot Chocolate 5/15K along with 18,998 of our closest friends.
Just kidding.
We only knew each other.
But it was a lot of fun getting to run through the streets of Atlanta past some major landmarks, like the Olympic rings!
The best part by far though was...

...the finisher's mug.
Complete with the best hot chocolate and chocolate fondue I've ever had.

Joe was pretty pumped about it too.

picture via
Post-race, I took two naps and then decided to treat myself to a movie and a frappuccino.

Can we take a moment to just bask in the glory that is Les Miserables?
I don't think I have ever cried that much during a movie.
And Anne Hathaway getting her hair chopped off mid-scene?


If I was a movie critic, I'd give Les Mis, and Hugh Jackman in particular, the best rating I could possibly give.
Which is probably why lots of Golden Globes were sent their way.
Honestly though, it was incredible.
Go see it.
Right now.

But before you run out the door, here's a sneak peek of the shirt I'll be wearing to the Bieber concert next week (NEXT WEEK!!)...

Too much?

Friday, January 11, 2013

two-cheese mac and cheese

I can't believe it's already Friday!

I have been a little MIA this week because my job sent me to a class to learn more about water restoration and get certified, so I spent my week doing homework and studying for the exam.
{I work for a water restoration company, if you didn't already know.}

I'm not gonna lie.
Sitting in class made me miss college a little.
A little, I said.

Let's not get too carried away.

Anyway, today I'm here to share the recipe for the macaroni and cheese I made for Christmas dinner.

This mac and cheese...


It's so good.
It makes me never want to make the boxed stuff ever again.
And I can guarantee you it will make an appearance at many holidays to come.

Remember this pin floating around Pinterest for white cheddar and Parmesan mac and cheese?

I originally wanted to make that when, to my surprise, the recipe had absolutely no white cheddar OR Parmesan in it....
Seriously, who wrote the caption for that pin?
Because whoever it was is a liar.

Luckily, the actual recipe is still totally delicious...
And, honestly, you probably could sub the cheeses for white cheddar and parm if you were completely dedicated.
Whatever makes you happy.
This is the ultimate comfort food, after all.

original recipe via

Things you'll need:
16 oz. {1 box} of any pasta of your choice {I used shells because they're my favorite macaroni pasta}
1/2 cup butter
salt & pepper, to taste
1/2 cup flour
3 1/2 cups milk
1/4 cup white wine or chicken broth - one or the other, not both!
8 oz. Velveeta cheese, cubed
8 oz. pepper jack cheese, cubed
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
2 tbsp butter, melted {to wet breadcrumbs}

*Note: I am missing pictures of the first steps of this recipe.  What can I say...Christmas cooking is hectic!  I will add some next time I cook this.


Cook pasta for about 7 minutes.  You want it to be a little less than done, as it is going to continue cooking when baked.

In a saucepan, melt butter.
When melted, add salt, pepper, and flour.
Stir and let cook for about a minute to make a roux.
Add milk and wine OR chicken broth {I used broth because I was out of white wine...wait, what?!}, and bring to a boil while whisking.
When it's thickened some, add cheeses and stir until melted.

Don't forget to feel free to substitute any cheeses you like!
I just like how easily Velveeta melts and the little kick of spice the pepper jack added.
Totally personal preference here though.

Now, admire your masterpiece for a second.
I had to make these pictures larger because seriously...look at that cheesy good-ness.
Immediate swoon.

Preheat oven to 350, and grease a 9x13 baking dish.
Pour in assembled mac and cheese.
Mix breadcrumbs with 2 tablespoons of melted butter {just enough to make them crumbly and easy to handle}, and crumble on top.

Bake uncovered for 25-30 minutes, until breadcrumbs are browned and crispy, and enjoy!

Sorry for the blurry finished product.
Obviously I was a little excited.

Cheese makes me what.

This turned out absolutely amazing though.
And got me a high-five from Ashley, who was the first taste tester.
So I'll call that a success.

This weekend Joe and I are running the Hot Chocolate 5K.
For those of you that haven't heard of this, basically you run/walk a 5K and are rewarded with hot chocolate, chocolate fondue, and treats and fruits for dipping.
I don't know about ya'll, but that's incentive enough for me to get moving.
Who doesn't like a good old fashioned sugar rush after a work out?

Happy weekend, friends!

Friday, January 4, 2013

a year in review: 2012

This post is coming a few days late, I know.
But better late than never, right?
I've loved reading about all of the things you fellow bloggers have accomplished over the last year, so I just couldn't resist doing a post of my own about it.
Mostly because I feel like, thus far, 2012 has been one of my biggest years.
Lots of life changing events occurred.
Not to mention, lots of traveling and happy times with friends.

And I'll go ahead and warn you, this is a picture heavy post.

Lets take a look back.

Spent my last spring break on a roadtrip - first stop: Orlando...
second stop: Jacksonville...
Last stop: Savannah for St. Patty's day
puppy graduated from obedience school
finished my first 5k
graduated from college
celebrated said graduation in Mexico
went to Brew at the Zoo for the 2nd year in a row
had a 4th of July mini-vacation in New Orleans with Joe and tried my first beignet!
took the pup on his first boat ride
celebrated turning 25 at a cabin with my closest friends
There are so many other great memories missing from this list, but these are just a few of my favorites.
2012, you were really good to me.
I think it's safe to say 2013 has some big shoes to fill.

Things I'd like to accomplish this year include:
- get back in the gym and use the membership I've been paying for
- experiment more in my cooking
- plan another trip out of the U.S.
- teach my dog to stop begging for food {so annoying!!}
- find ways to make cleaning fun so I won't dread it as much

These may not be much, but what's a resolution for if it's not something you have confidence you can keep?

Here's to a happy and healthy new year for us all.

Cheers, friends!