Friday, October 28, 2011

Chili Cook - Off... our loss

Well happy Friday, friends! Weekends always make me feel excited because there's just SO many opportunities to try new recipes! Yesterday, I tried a new dessert loaf recipe for our chili cook-off (which I failed miserably at... and i'll expound more on in a minute).  It was totally fabulous and might be my new favorite thing to make EVER... But today, I have to just tell you all about the cook-off... how fun it was and how sad it was. So for now, here's a little teaser photo for you to get excited about... ;)

NOW.... let me tell you the miserable sad story of how we LOST the chili cook-off (can't believe I just said that... falling on my sword here... cue the violins). Here we were, running around, getting all the ingredients going, starting to make the house smell amazing... when we decided to 'make sure we were on the right track' and taste the chili. THANK THE LORD we did that! I went for the first spoonful and just about spit it out! It tasted like sugary baked beans and I hadn't even added any brown sugar yet! So I grabbed James and asked him to taste it to ensure my sanity. HE couldn't handle it! We looked at each other like, "what on earth did we do?!" So, in a desperate attempt save our chili without really knowing what the issue was... I SPOONED OUT EVERY BIT OF MEAT IN THE ENTIRE POT and we started round 2 of the ground beef process. And then we found it... the culprit.. the killer... the death of our chili victory...... baked beans *with brown sugar and bacon*!!!!!! WHAT? WHY ON EARTH WOULDN'T I HAVE NOTICED THAT?! Why would ANYONE want baked beans already made to taste like they were doctored up?? But worse, HOW DID I NOT READ THAT on the label??? I was sick. What a sad sad sad state of affairs. So after realizing that our chili was already well on it's road to being something it was not supposed to be, we decided to just throw things in and keep trying to save it. OBVIOUSLY, it didn't work. We took a very nice pot of SOMETHING to the cook-off but it wasn't really chili and it sure as heck wasn't our winning recipe. And we went home with nothing but our tail between our legs. So my friends, I apologize. I have no victor's trophy to show you and no right to call my chili recipe "win the cook-off chili." HOWEVER, I am vowing NOW that 364 days from now, we WILL be victorious because we WILL master our recipe and make SURE that NO one adds any unwanted brown sugar and bacon via the baked beans!!!! So start wishing us luck! ;) The wonderful couple that DID win last night, Bill and Debi Moore were genius in their execution... they made a beautiful pot of great chili and then TOPPED IT IN CRUMBLED BLEU CHEESE!!!! They DESERVED to win! Anybody that tops anything in bleu cheese needs the automatic blue ribbon! And they got it! So Bill, Debi, here's to you and your kitchen brilliance! May the silver ladle bring you MANY more years of great chili!

Here are our winners and a few other photos of the night...
Jordan explaining the judging cards!
the one on the bottom right is the lemon sorbet to cleanse the palette between each taste ;)
the various different cornbreads... endless.
Jordan accepting her "worst chili, beano award"
Gege accepting her "best cornbread" award
and everyone breaking into the pumpkin babka... YUM! (the recipe will be coming tomorrow!)

SO, all in all it was a FUN successful (for everyone else) night and we are SO mad at happy for Bill and Debi! ;) Jordan, Brent... THANK YOU for all your beautiful set up and hard work, it was a FABULOUS night! Can't wait 'til next year!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Birthday Extravaganza !

Well hello sweet friends! First of all, THANK YOU for the sweet birthday messages and e-mails, it was SUCH a blessed day! And yes, my cookies were FABULOUS! Speaking of which, my friend Andrea, whom I've previously featured, decided SHE was going to make my birthday oatmeal cookies for her visiting friend, and they were GREAT. She switched it up a bit and instead of raisins, did semi-sweet morsels... WAY TO GO GIRL! Sounds so good!

Ok back to business! So today I thought I'd share with you a hodgepodge of different tasty things. Our last few days have been filled with A LOT of eating and cooking and it's all TOO good to not be shared! :) Let's start with the pre-birthday dinner drinks. We had a little bit of a busy day and everyone was still running around getting ready for dinner so just dad and I went up to our favorite corner spot, The Wine Cellar. If there's ANY place I highly recommend for a great glass of wine and a NICE atmosphere, it's here. The place is gorgeous, dons my most favorite wall paper and the owner is SO French and SO wonderful!
(that's him!)
(these are obviously from a few different nights)

Also on a practical "ok but how good's the food" note, the MUSTARD that they serve with their pretzels, tomatoes or cheese plates... oh. my. gosh. Dad and I went NUTSO on this spicy dijon. It's like nothing you've ever tasted and it paired SO well with my chianti. So definitely make a stop at The Wine Cellar and have hors d'oeuvres and a nice glass of red before heading out to your next dinner party.
(again... from a different night, just to show you how much we frequent it! and also to show you the wallpaper... SO great right!?)

It's been a tradition since I was about 9 years old to have my birthday dinner at Mickey & Mooch here in Cornelius, NC. This place will OFTEN be seen, featured and reviewed on Recitherapy because IT IS THE ABSOLUTE BEST. Seriously, there's no place like it for food, service and value; not to mention they have the world's GREATEST 9 layer chocolate cake that will make you think you died the nicest, moistest chocolate death and have arrived at the milky chocolaty gates of cocoa heaven (yeah, i just used all of those ridiculous adjectives). ANYWAYS, let me tell you about our dinner.. because it was perfect.... best company and best food.
Gege, Momma, Dad...
James, Myself, Brent... only one missing was Jordy :( and yes of COURSE LuLu was there!

I'm not actually kidding when I say that we were at Mickey & Mooch the night BEFORE this birthday party here... so I'm going to show you my birthday meal AND my night before meal... both are worth show & tell. Birthday meal: Cheeseburger and bleu cheese wedge salad. (and also stole half of mom's tomato cream pasta) Oh yeah. James said I was allowed to cheat on our low-carb diet since it was my birthday. ;) (don't judge)
BEAUTiful glass of Pascual Toso malbec
(yes those are onion rings.. i highly recommend those as well. dad ordered those and i just TASTED them so they didn't count as part of my meal) ;)
bleu cheese wedge
pasta tomato cream
You already know how I feel about bleu cheese but you guys... let me TELL YOU AGAIN how I feel about bleu cheese. I LOVE BLEU CHEESE. So you can imagine my JOY when THAT mound of lettuce and crumbly bite-y cheese gets put under my fork. It is TRULY the best I've EVER had anywhere. And the best thing yet... it's home made, Mickey & Mooch recipe. TO DIE FOR. The tomato cream pasta... not very impressive to look at but take my word for it, you'll want to swim in it when you taste it. And I know you've gotta be thinking, "what is she, 5?" that I ordered a cheeseburger of all things from a fabulous steak house... but I'll tell you what.. I've discovered that the best cheeseburgers you can find are at steak houses. Why NOT think 'cheeseburger' when you're at a gourmet restaurant? It's going to be the best ground round you've ever had! AND THIS IS. They use such juicy, flavorful meat, it's ALWAYS cooked perfectly to my liking, the cheese is sharp and delicious and the BRIOCHE BUN... oh man. You can see it's coated in glistening egg and butter wash. This is not a bun you should make a habit of eating but when it's your birthday, c'mon.

Did you think I forgot the cake? I didn't.
Seriously? It's the size of my head.
You guys, this was my wedding cake I love it so much. Let me clarify.. we had 10 WHOLE cakes at our wedding... 1 ENTIRE CAKE for each table. "What were you thinking?," you ask. We were thinking chocolate, chocolate and MORE chocolate. And that's what we got! :)

BEST birthday ever... Thank You, Jesus!

Night before meal: Caesar salad with grilled chicken...
This salad may not look like the "belle of the ball," but it is! Again, they house make this unbelievable caesar dressing that is creamy but clean all at once. I don't even LIKE caesar dressing.. at ALL. And you will never catch me eating a caesar salad ANYwhere else. But here, it's the 'go-to' option when a big, juicy steak just isn't sounding good (which is hardly ever).

NOW- What you've ALL been waiting for... WE ARE MAKING THE CHILI because the COOK-OFF  IS TOMORROW. I wish I could show you how hysterical it is in here right now... we're ALL cooking in the SAME KITCHEN! INSANITY! Listen, we are competitive. And it is getting INTENSE. Luckily, James and I raced home from our family gathering at Starbucks this morning and were the FIRST ONES in the kitchen! We finished our chili in record time and got it stored away before anyone could see what we were doing... except dad, he cheated a little. ;)
(isn't he so hot in the kitchen? geez!)
Friends, let me just tell you now so it's on the record TWICE... WE ARE GOING TO WIN this thing!

ONE MORE THING to show you before I call it a post, I know we're getting long here. I am SO happy to show you Jessica Joyner's DECADENT Ultimate Brownies that she made for her and her husband just last night!

THANK YOU so much for sharing that with me, Jessi! So glad you guys loved them! (sorry about Booney's T-shirt!) ;) .... it took a hit with the chocolate batter! "so worth it," she said!

So there we have it you guys... I've got A LOT more to show you from the past 3 days but I'm going to save it for future days! More to come such as Dad's meat pies, really great cornbread, Gege's spanakopita... etc etc etc. SO, keep an eye out and THANK YOU again for your continued support and messages! I LOVE that you guys are making these recipes and enjoying discovering your OWN cooking and baking skills! What an encouraging thing for you AND me!

Wish us luck for tomorrow night! ;) LOTS OF LOVE!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Birthday Oatmeal Cookies !

Well hello! I hope everyone had a really great, fun weekend! I sure did... two of my good friends were married up in Asheville AND I'm currently at home in Charlotte, couldn't be better!

SO, you guessed it... today is my birthday! (apologies for the late post, i slept in) ;) What a GREAT treat for me to be at home with my family today INCLUDING my fabulous, kitchen magician grandma, Gege! Gege is the other woman who's taught me everything I know about being confident in your own kitchen and wise with what you cook and how you cook it. She's a TOTAL inspiration in every way, THE BEST mother, the BEST grandmother, the BEST cook, the BEST baker and the VERY BEST FRIEND and prayer warrior anyone could dream of having. And SHE is the one making MY BIRTHDAY COOKIES! WITH MY MOTHER! Seriously?! I'm in Heaven. Cookie Heaven. What's better?

It's only fitting that today I would share this "vanishing oatmeal cookies" recipe with you. Sad to say, it's not our recipe.. it's good ol' Quaker's brand recipe, but seriously, no one's is better, I'm sure of it! So friends, who's ready for some oatmeal and coffee?? ME!


  • 1/2 cup plus 6 Tablespoons softened butter- mom says to tell you all that if you haven't let your butter soften long enough, put it in the microwave for ONLY 10 SECONDS at a time, and do it twice. doing a full 20 seconds all at once will make a big gaping hole in the butter sticks and make it too liquid like and your cookies won't rise.
  • 3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar- helpful hint. when they say 'firmly packed,' they mean it. it really is fascinating how much more brown sugar you can fit in there if you smash it down with the spoon
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 & 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (optional.. but i highly suggest it... balances out the sweetness! also mom says to tell you she likes to use FINE GRAIN sea salt for this... not regular old sea salt, that's too big, FINE GRAIN... but regular salt will do just fine as well)
  • 3 cups Quaker Oats, quick or old fashioned, uncooked
  • 1 cup raisins... they split the batch for me, my husband isn't a huge sultana (raisins) fan so they made all the dough up first, stole some plain out, and then mixed in the raisins.. so sweet of them!
  • 1 cup walnuts (optional... mom also said she likes to BREAK them instead of using a chopper)

Ok friends, go heat your oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, cream the butter and both sugars with your electric mixer. 

Add the eggs and vanilla and beat well.

Add flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt and mix! Add the oats, raisins and nuts and mix some more.

Drop by rounded tablespoons on UNgreased cookie sheets and bake for 8-10 minutes. You want them to be golden brown. Then try to contain your desire to scarf them all and let them cool. :) Good luck.
(here's the finished product- raisins and no raisins, yes, while i'm blogging about them) :)

You guys I'll tell you what, even more so than chocolate chip cookie dough, I could truly sit and eat half the ball of this raw dough all on it's own. These cookies are just SIMPLY perfect, so PLEASE make them... and be warned. This recipe makes about 4 dozen cookies... so get ready to wrap 'em up and give them away as gifts! EVERYONE. WILL. LOVE. YOU. :)


Friday, October 21, 2011

Rudder Cobb

Good early morning you guys! Today is going to be a great day... the weather is crisp, I'm nursing a giant cup of HOT coffee and I'm INSPIRED to help somebody out of their food comfort zone! :)

SO, woke up the other morning to my husband saying he wants to go low-carb for awhile. (gotta love a man who gets to that point ALL on his own) I JUMPED on it! I cleared the fridge of all our wonderful pastas, potatoes and rice and we fed the birds (& squirrels) an entire BRAND NEW, UNOPENED loaf of bread. I actually really enjoyed that, I love feeding birds. ANYWAYS, we've been having the best couple of days because of this little switch! Even this morning, he texted me from the airport (I just dropped him off at 5:30am) and said, "one great thing about how we're eating is that I'm actually HUNGRY, I'm not just eating for the sake of eating..". And I laughed because I had just gotten home from the airport and thought, "hmm, what can i eat, im hungry at 6am!" Sounds a little silly saying it but really, eating is so much more enjoyable when your body is the thing telling you to eat, not your mind.

Last night for dinner we decided to have a giant cobb-ish salad. I say cobb-ish because we added things like clementines and cottage cheese. It was GLORIOUS. Like, REALLY glorious. This salad will not leave you hungry, I can tell you that much. And the best part about it is there's no need for croutons, or toast or pita wedges.. it's just a whole lotta fresh goodness. (and it's SO easy to make!)

  • If you're making it for 2 or more, throw 3 pieces of bacon in a fry pan on medium low heat
  • Chop up some romaine lettuce.. jordan, you would've died over this perfect bunch I found
  • sprinkle around 3 clementines... for 2 salads
  • slice up (or not) some cherry tomatoes- I like a generous amount seeing as we don't use a dressing
  • slice up some avocado... makes it so pretty if you get a good one!
  • add a little dollop of cottage cheese- again, this is good since there's no real dressing
  • throw some chicken on top... you can do grilled which is great, but we used roasted, which i like better
  • sprinkle with a little crumbled bleu cheese - seriously, I could eat a bleu cheese popsicle
  • break your crispy bacon into pieces and sprinkle atop the mound of pretty lettuce and things
  • drizzle some extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar over it all
  • fresh ground pepper and a dash of salt and you're good to go!
Doesn't that just look inviting? And it's fresh and full of LIVING ingredients... eating "living" foods on a regular basis is the best thing you could do for yourself (my sister taught me that- she's a living/raw food genius). And because your body can digest it all so well and so fast, you're ready to eat something every 2 hours or so, and that is FUN! Why not let yourself eat little fun things all day long?  Your body will be SO so happy! So pull out the lettuce bunch and tomatoes and get chopping!

ON A VERY DIFFERENT SIDE NOTE... it's time for a shameless LoveGrows plug. For those of you who don't know what that is, check it out, please! For those of you who know me and my family, here's the deal: I've dedicated my birthday this year to raising money for LoveGrows SO, if any of you are feeling generous, and loving and like you've got a dollar (or 10) to spare, head on over to my LoveGrows birthday page .... let's raise some moolah for these children and help keep them nourished, clothed and BLESSED! THANK-YOU in advance for taking the time to read about this, PRAY FOR THEM and give... it means so much and we're glad to have you along side us! 

Have the BEST of days today, friends!