Thursday, December 26, 2013

merry christmas

Hope you all had a happy holiday with family and friends!
Our day was filled with love {and food}, and I couldn't feel more blessed this year.
I'll be back to recap Christmas soon, but until then... 

Let's do this, NYE!

Friday, December 20, 2013

friday things {and a quick dessert for two!}

We made it to Friday!

I don't know about you guys, but I'm ready for a relaxing weekend at home.
This is the first weekend in the last, what, two months that we have zero plans.
And I. Can't. Wait.

Get me home and in my pjs, stat.

Oh yeah, and those of you who are prepping for two glorious weeks off work can shove it.
I'm talking to you, teacher friends!
And you people who are better at saving up vacation days than I am!

Okay, you don't really have to shove it.
But can you at least make and deliver treats to those of us that will still be at work?
It's only fair.

1.  Have you snagged your gold mug from Anthropologie yet?  I'm pretty certain I'm the last blogger on the planet to not own this mug, and I reaaaaally want it.  {hint to anyone who wants to buy me a Christmas gift...anyone?}

2.  Yesterday was mine and Joe's five year anniversary.  I can't believe how quickly these five years have flown, and how much we've grown as individuals and as a couple.  It's pretty incredible.  To celebrate, we went to Campania for dinner {amazing!!!} and cuddled up on the couch to watch The Holiday.  One thing I love about our anniversary being around Christmastime - Joe will watch a girly Christmas movie with me with minimal complaints.  It's my annual Christmas miracle!

He also sent me some pretty sweet prezzies while I was at work. <3

3.  My office's ugly sweater pot luck went well.  So much good food!  I decorated my green sweater dress to resemble a tree {the best I could,'s short-sleeve after all}.

I think it turned out pretty darn good for being a night-before-the-party craft!  For any of you that have parties like this to go to, all I did was raid the dollar store, buy some tacky decorations, and safety pin everything to my dress.  No hot glue required!

4.  Is it too late in the season to make cereal coated pumpkin french toast?  Because I've had this recipe saved on my desktop since October and am just now realizing that I have a free weekend. #pumpkinforever

5.  Two weeks ago, Kroger had a sale on those aluminum pie tins you can buy.  So, naturally, I stocked up.  I mean a girl never knows how many pies she's going to need to make.  Then, I discovered these.  And now I believe it was divine intervention that led me to Kroger that day.  Who wants cinnamon rolls?

6.  I'm officially obsessed with that One Direction song Story of My Life.  Sorry I'm not sorry.

7.  This weekend I really want to try this mulled wine recipe.  Joe is swearing he's had mulled wine before and hates it.  Someone please confirm that he must be wrong and needs to give it another shot.

8.  I'm also dying to try these gingerbread cookies.  I love the snowflake idea, but I'm having the worst time finding a cookie cutter I like.  Suggestions?

9.  Saved the best for last.  If you've been following this here blog for awhile, you know that my boyfriend has the biggest sweet tooth on the planet.  Particularly after I make something healthy for dinner, which I can't fault him for.  I'd like some chocolate after my broccoli too, thanks!  Over the past year, I've made these peanut butter chocolate chip ramekin cookies a good handful {or two} of times, and they always turn out great.  This is the best ramekin recipe I have found {they never come out dry!}, and it's totally perfect for the night where you want something sweet but really don't want to make an entire batch of cookies for yourself.


4 tbsp butter
1/3 cup reduced fat peanut butter
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 egg
splash of vanilla extract
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup (plus 2 tbsp) unbleached all-purpose flour


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly grease the inside of three small ramekins with cooking spray.
Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl.  Whisk to incorporate and get rid of any lumps.
Combine butter, peanut butter, white sugar, and brown sugar in a bowl and beat on medium until incorporated, 1-2 minutes.
Add egg and vanilla to peanut butter mixture, and beat for another 15-30 seconds.
Slowly add the flour mixture, a little bit at a time, beating on low speed to incorporate.
Fill the ramekins halfway with dough, and bake for 18-20 minutes, until slightly brown on top but still doughy in the center.  A toothpick will still come out clean even though they're gooey, so that's a good way to check if they're done!
Sprinkle with chocolate chips {optional}, and serve immediately!

These are really easy to throw together and are a nice little indulgence on a weeknight when you're parked in front of the TV watching Biggest Loser and thinking how nice a cookie would be just about now.

No?  Just me?

Well regardless, I recommend you give these a try.
As soon as you're done eating gingerbread and sugar cookies and pecan pies, that is.

Have a great weekend!

Monday, December 16, 2013

white chocolate marshmallow pops

Saturday night, Joe and I went to a holiday party at my manager's house.

It was one of those great parties where there are tons of homemade appetizers, a roaring fire in the fireplace, and enough wine for a small army.
Plus, the most adorable little olive penguins made an appearance.

Are those not the cutest things you've ever seen?!

I left the party telling Joe that I can't wait for the day that we have a place big enough to entertain guests like that.
You know I've been itching to host a festive get-together!

However, since it's too late in the season to throw my own shindig, I begged my manager to at least let me make a holiday treat for hers.
She was reluctant but eventually realized I wasn't going to take no for an answer and {thankfully} conceded.

Marshmallow pops for everyone!

I saw my idol, Ree Drummond, make these on Food Network a few weeks back, and I remember specifically making a mental note to keep them in mind for the holidays.
They're a cinch to throw together, easily customizable, and they were a huge hit!
And by huge hit, I mean not just the children loved them.
Multiple strangers came up to tell me how much they enjoyed them.


via The Pioneer Woman


1 bag of regular-sized marshmallows
1 package vanilla flavored almond bark
separate dishes filled with toppings - crushed peppermint, pretzels, sprinkles, candy, etc.
1 bag lollipop sticks

Melt almond bark using a double boiler until smooth {or pop in the microwave and stir every 30 seconds until melted}.
Dip lollipop stick into melted chocolate, then push into marshmallow, not quite going all the way through.
While chocolate is hardening, prep your toppings.
I put some peppermints in a Ziplock bag, used a rolling pin to smash them into tiny bits, and poured the bits into a small bowl.
I did the same thing with a handful of pretzels.
Of course, I had to do a bowl of sprinkles too.

Dip/roll each marshmallow into the melted chocolate, then tap on the side of the bowl to discard any excess.
Using your fingers, sprinkle on any topping that you like.
Don't be scared to mix and match!
Place the pop {stick side up} on a piece of parchment paper to harden.

After 5-10 minutes, they'll be ready to eat!
{...or to store in a large Tupperware dish for easy transport.}

It really doesn't get much easier than that.
And like I said, the people loved them.
Particularly the pretzel-covered ones, which is not super surprising since you can't beat a dessert that's salty and sweet.

I think these would also be really delicious sprinkled with crushed oreo, or dipped in dark chocolate and covered with crushed peanuts.
The sky's the limit really!

Got any fun plans this week?

Tonight we're going to one of my favorite restaurants, Spice, to celebrate a friend's promotion.
I see you, homemade bleu cheese chips!
Then, Thursday, my office is having an ugly sweater party/breakfast potluck.
I don't know which part I'm more excited about, making an ugly sweater to wear or eating all of the goodies at the potluck!

Thursday also happens to be mine and Joe's FIVE year anniversary.

Seriously, Father Time, slow down!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

mexican stuffed peppers

Hi everyone!

After a nice little break that included a trip to Mexico, Thanksgiving, and the start of holiday party season, I'm back and ready to bake my life away for Christmas.
Get me in the kitchen with a rolling pin, stat!

Mexico was amazing {as I suspected it would be}, and now I'm convinced I want to do a tropical vacation every winter.

There's nothing like having a margarita by the pool in 90 degree weather in the middle of November.
One of my particularly favorite days was spent getting a couples massage with Joe in the morning and then napping by the pool all day.
I couldn't ask for a better way to recharge before the holidays than that, hands down.
Check out more pictures from our trip here if you're interested!

Since we've been back, it feels like we've been going nonstop.
Both of us are dying to have a weekend to just stay home, watch movies, and not change out of pajamas for two days straight.
Do you ever feel like that?

Even though we've had a ton of things to do, I came back from vacation on a mission.
A mission to eat healthy, and at home, as much as possible.
And so far, I've got to say, I've done pretty well.
I've meal planned like a crazy person, made lunches for both of us everyday, and kept the dining out exclusively for weekends.
My body is slowly, but surely, feeling better!

I've made stuffed peppers many times.
However, I've never made the same version twice.
I've just never quite found a recipe that I was in love with.
Last week, in all my meal planning glory, I decided to give it another shot.
And I'm so glad I did!
These turned out great.
The filling was substantial, a bit spicy, and seasoned with all of my favorite spices.
At one point, Joe was eating the leftover filling {there will be a tad bit leftover} straight out of the pan with a spoon.

That's how you know it's good.

adapted via Skinnytaste
Things you'll need:

1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 onion, diced
2-3 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1 lb lean ground turkey
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tbsp cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper {optional}
salt, to taste
black pepper, to taste
3 large red bell peppers, cut in half the long way
1 1/4 cup low sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1 1/2 cup cooked rice
1/2 - 1/3 cup pepper jack cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Saute onion, garlic, and cilantro in olive oil on medium heat for 1-2 minutes, until fragrant.
Add ground turkey, garlic powder, cumin, cayenne pepper, and a dash of salt and pepper.
Cook until meat is browned and cooked thoroughly.

Add tomato sauce and chicken broth.
Simmer on low for 4-5 minutes.
Stir in cooked rice.

While meat is simmering, slice peppers in half the long way, deseed, and rinse them out.
Lightly grease a baking dish with cooking spray, and place peppers face up like so.

Spoon meat mixture into each pepper.
Don't be afraid to really pile it in!
Splash a bit of chicken broth in the bottom of the pan, cover with foil, and bake for 30-35 minutes.

Sprinkle cheese on the cooked peppers, and serve immediately!

The great thing about these is that they are totally customizable.
If you don't like spice, leave out the cayenne.
If you're like me and are obsessed with cumin, add an extra dash.
Don't like pepper jack cheese?  Cheddar will work just fine!

Another option, if you're not into bell peppers, is to make the filling and use it for burritos.
That was actually a suggestion from Joe.
That's how into the filling he was.
{He did eat two of these though, pepper and all!  I was a proud girlfriend.}

I've finally found a stuffed pepper recipe that I can stick with!

PS - Happy birthday to my sweet friend, Ashley!  Hope your day was as great as you are! :)