Beautiful Beaufort Wedding

I am headed to Beaufort South Carolina for my pals’ Elizabeth and Jay’s wedding. I have never been to Beaufort before and I am really looking forward to visiting a city in my home state that I have never stepped foot in.

Not only will I get to see a bunch of friends but I will also get to see two friends get married. We all went to high school together so the party will really be hopping. As high schoolers (and even junior high schoolers), Elizabeth and I would hang out all the time at her parents house (and other places too). Since her parents lived not too far from mine, I knew those roads by heart that would lead me to always having a great time.

Here is to Liz and Jay!

Let’s Party!

(side note: both Elizabeth and Jay have 2 arms and 2 legs, but my editing program was not seeing what I was seeing. They also have hands and feet (last I saw). I am sure that they will both be infinitely more gorgeous tonight! Remember how I said that it was raining in Savannah? Well, I had to keep my self busy some how.)

Party Inspiration: Bf’s 30th Birthday!

Lord help us all… there is another party to plan.

John (a.k.a. Bf) has a birthday coming up. Not just any birthday either. His 30th (cue ominous music now).

I had been going back and forth on what to do for this big occasion… dinner? dinner party? party? nothing? I very well couldn’t go with nothing so I thought… GO FOR IT and throw a party.

This party will be taking place less than 1 week after Thao’s Bridal Shower so I am hoping to get to re-use some of the party pieces at Bf’s party.

I took to Pinterest to create another board with inspiring pictures and ideas for Bf’s 30th. You can see the pinboard here.

I decided to go with a BBQ since it can be a no-frills affair and the less stress the better since I will be throwing 2 parties less than 1 week apart.

For food and drink:

This was the easy part. Its a BBQ so I will serve…. barbecue, duh. I will crock pot a boston butt, make some red cabbage slaw and a little potato salad. All of these should be pretty easy because they are do-aheads (meaning you can do them ahead of time).

  

Baked beans will be an easy side dish as well. Although I am not a big baked bean fan…

Sometimes you just aren’t in the mood for BBQ so I thought that some chicken skewers would be a great alternative.

For appetizers, we are also going to keep we the “easy” theme and do a dip, like spinach dip (my personal fav) and chips with pico de gallo.

Nothing says “party” like Margaritas, so I will have some sort of Margarita goin’ on as well as beer. I am sure that I will incorporate some sort of chalkboard into some part of the party.

 

Since Bf is not a big dessert guy, I always look for cakes and such with fruit in them. He seems to favor those types… weirdo. If it was me I would want triple chocolate choco chunk brownie avalanche with dark chocolate mousse. I am pretty sure that that doesn’t exist… but boy do I wish it did.

 

Decor:

I am hoping to take the outdoor lights from Thao’s party and string them up at my house. I just love outdoor patio lights. By filling some mason jars with wildflowers, I think that it will keep up with the BBQ theme. And, I like wildflowers.

 

This is a reminder that I need a new umbrella. Mine was destroyed in a thunderstorm that we had a few weeks back and it looks pitiful out there. While I am at it… maybe I will do this too.

Entertainment:

Talking is my favorite past time, but sometimes parties need more than just me blabbing soliloquies (I know… hard to believe that not everyone wants to hear me talk!) so, I started thinking.

With the number of people I know with dogs, we are sure to get a few and that is entertainment in itself.

What would we do if it weren’t for dogs. There would be nothing to watch.

Oh, well…. I guess we may work in a game of beer pong or two too.

And maybe even a little game of flip cup… maaaaaybe. Because really, who doesn’t want to feel 18 at their 30th birthday?

Also, I rock at this game. I won a sick game of Survivor Flip Cup last year that left my opponents weeping. Seriously. 

What on earth will I wear:

Done and done… while I can’t start putting together the party now, I can definitely buy a dress for it. I picked this up today at Urban Outfitters in downtown Savannah. I will pair it with bare feet because its summer and I can.

 

I am definitely praying for the strength to pull all of this off and give Bf the 30th birthday that he deserves. Also, I will be 30 in 2 years and I want him to throw me a party. Just kidding.

Bf is happiest surrounded by a group of people and I hope that he enjoys his upcoming 30th birthday.

Once On A Rainy Day…

… I played for hours on my computer.

Its true. I am in Savannah hanging out sans Bf (which means that there is no one to drive me around in the boat with a poncho on against my will) and its raining.

What do you do in the rain… at someone else’s house… when you have nothing to do? Play on the computer, of course.

Well, first you spend a few hours setting up wireless internet from a DSL and then realize that you need another cord, go to Wal Mart, come back and release/renew the I.P. address, and then you play on the computer.

But I started thinking about all of the blogs out there that I read… as I was reading through them… and I thought that I would share a few with you.

Not all of the blogs that I read are cooking/food blogs. I read a variety which sometimes gives me ideas for Blackbird Ideas and sometimes are just entertaining to read.

For Home Improvements (mainly these just serve as motivation or reason to make me jealous), I read:

Young House Love

On Young House Love, which back when I first started reading it was called This Young House, John and Sherry Petersik are constantly (I don’t know how they do it) updating/changing/fixing/painting/renovating their home. They are home #2 now and I love reading to see what creative solution to a problem they are coming up with next.

Bower Power

On Bower Power (which I will always think of as allbowerpower since the name change), Katie and Jeremy Bower are flip flopping between home repairs and beautiful photography as their specialty (technically the photography is more of Katie’s thing). These two DIYers are also best buds with the Petersik’s of Young House Love and its always entertaining to see the bloggers combine forces.

For food/eating/recipe blogs:

The Pioneer Woman

Ree Drummond is a blogger… a great blogger. She is magnetic with her writing and it carries over into the success of her blog. She is bigger than big and when I finally started reading her a year or so ago, I couldn’t believe that I hadn’t heard of her before. She has a cooking show coming out, a cookbook, a novel, and a children’s book. I am green with envy. She also has other areas to her blog besides cooking… homeschool, confessions and more!

Tasty Kitchen

Tasty Kitchen is a by-product of the success of The Pioneer Woman. Here Ree and other bloggers (such as myself) submit recipes in an online database of great recipes.

Iowa Girl Eats

On Iowa Girl Eats, blogger Kristin barely misses a day of posting recipes, activities, and more. Her devotion to her blog has made her a notable blogger in the blogging community (could the be more forms of the word “blog” in that sentence?). She also posts workouts and healthy recipes which are great motivation to eat more healthily and get outside more often.

For the Love of Cooking

I don’t know much about this blog since I just started reading it after its discovery on Pinterest, but its a nice simple collection of recipes that the blogger has organized into categories for convenience. I am inspired to get more organized.

For Fashion:

The Anthology

On The Anthology, Vancouver blogger Kelsey Dundon (who also serves time as a contributing editor to Vitamin Daily) wows her readers with giveaways (I won one once), to-die-for re-dos to sometimes hideous vintage clothing, and also impressive connections in the fashion and blogging community. And apparently she was once a back-up dancer for Weird Al Yankovic.

Well, that’s my breakdown of some of my favorite blogs. I always love discovering new ones so if you have any recommendations, comment them at the bottom of the page. Maybe some of my favorites will strike interest in you…

P.s.: Thanks for reading my blog. I mean it ;).

Ricotta Stuffed Tomatoes

I have said this all summer. I just can’t get enough tomatoes.

My garden is finally starting to kick it into gear and I have Roma, Cherry, and Vine Ripened tomatoes slowly turning red and being devoured immediately.

I found this recipe on Pinterest the other day (just like my Basil Lemon Chicken from yesterday… in fact, I served them together) and they were beyond what I thought.

I am not a huge fan of cooked tomatoes. Never have been. But these are not at all what I thought. They are tart, cheesy, crunchy, and full of flavor. I HIGHLY recommend making them.

In fact, get in your car right now and get the ingredients. You’ll thank me. I know it.

Start with:

  • 4 tomatoes, cut in half (I used vine ripened, but you could use any medium sized tomato
  • 1 cup of ricotta cheese
  • 2-3 tbsp parmesan cheese, grated
  • 10-15 fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • Sea salt and fresh cracked pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • Italian style panko crumbs

Start by cuttin’ the tomatoes in 1/2.

Then, either using a sharp paring knife, or a grapefruit spoon if you have it, scoop out the middle of the tomatoes leaving the walls of the tomatoes intact.

Using a regular spoon, pop out the innards of the tomato.

Keep working until all of the tomatoes are completely pitted and ready to be stuffed.

It’s ok if there are a few seeds left, but get out as many as you can.

Then flip the tomatoes upside down on paper towels for about 1/2 an hour to drain the excess moisture from the skins. This helps the tomatoes not turn to mush in the oven.

While the tomatoes drain, get the stuffing mixture ready. Mix ricotta, parmesan, garlic, basil, salt, pepper, and oregano together in a bowl.

Mix with a spoon until well blended. Make sure that you give it a lil’ taste before scooping it into your tomatoes for adequate salt and pepper usage.

Stuff the tomatoes full of the mixture and then turn upside down to coat with the bread crumbs.

Arrange tomatoes on a baking sheet or pyrex dish. Make sure that the tomatoes are spaced apart and not touching one another.

Bake in the 400 degree oven for 25 to 30 minutes. The tops will begin to turn a glorious golden brown and your kitchen will fill the the wonderful smell of garlic, basil, and cheese….  ( that may have been a tad excessive… but they are really good ok!?).

Serve them up on a platter for your guests to enjoy. It was just me and Bf (and Chum and Stellar) but we enjoyed them all right!

This dish forever changed the way that I think of cooked tomatoes. They will no longer be regarded as “mushy” or “flavorless” or “not my thing.” As of now, I am a person who identifies herself as a lover of cooked tomatoes.

You will love them too. I swear.

For a printable version of this recipe click here. 

Thanks to For the Love of Cooking for putting this recipe on Pinterest and for me seeing it and using it as inspiration.

Lemon Basil Chicken Breasts

My summer is almost over. I am in a near state of panic as I realize that I have to go back to work in one week.

ONE WEEK!

Where on earth did summer go? I went back to visit my classroom last week and get a few things in order before work officially starts and I had that similar overwhelming feeling that I get each year. There is so much to do and so little time to do it in. But, once work does officially start, that overwhelming feeling gets mixed with excitement and I am ready for the year to begin.

I just can’t believe how quickly summer flies by. At least we have a few more months of warmth before the cool weather hits to go to the beach and squeeze in a few last minute vacations.

This summer, I have found my self cooking more simply that usual and loving it. Here is a great recipe for a simple summer evening that it delicious and good for you (how often does that actually happen?).

  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, pounded thin
  • juice and zest of one lemon
  • 3 tablespoons fresh basil, divided
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 2 tablespoons of EVOO divided
Start by pounding the 2 chicken breasts thin between pieces of cellophane or you can do it like me and leave the chicken in individual baggies and pound them with your fists in the bags.
I beat my chicken up by hand. When I get chicken breasts, whatever I don’t cook, I place into individual baggies so that I can defrost just one if I want. I highly recommend this method for freezing chicken.
But of course you can place them in one bigger bag to marinade if that works for you.
Add chicken, zest of 1 lemon and the juice of the lemon, 2 tablespoon basil, 2 garlic cloves, 1 tablespoon of EVOO, salt and pepper to the bag (or 2 bags if you are like me).

Make sure that the marinade covers all sides of the chicken. Zip the bags and place into the fridge for an hour or two to let the marinade get in there.

When the chicken is finished marinading, add remaining EVOO to a grill pan, skillet, or brush the grill with it and add the chicken.

I went with the grill pan. Its been so damn hot out.

Let the chicken cook for about 5 minutes per side or until the juices run clear.

Once the chicken is cooked, place it on a platter with lemon wedges and the remaining fresh basil.

What a great chicken dish. I love lemon and basil and this was da bomb (that’s right… I just said “da bomb”).

It was perfect on a summer night served with my favorite Sauvignon Blanc (easy screw top and all) and a delicious tomato side that I will share with you tomorrow!

  

I found this recipe while cruising on Pinterest. Pinterest has changed how I look at recipes. I used to be able to spend hours online planning my weekly menu and I love with Pinterest that I can see the food and then decide what I want to make.

My recipe is adapted from For the Love of Cooking found in my food board on Pinterest.
 
 
For a printable version of this recipe click here. 

Because I Loved Him

Because I loved him…

Because its Friday…

Because Bf is taking me out to dinner tonight…

Because I am probably going to order the pork…

(Oh, no. I won’t I promise Oinky.)

Here is the latest of what’s the what with Oinky. Bf and I watched all of the videos we took of Oinky when he lived here at our little suburban home and spent the morning in stitches.

We started with watching his baby videos (which totally made me want another pig) all the way to when he got so big that we had to get rid of him.

We talk about Oinky non-stop around here and still miss him everyday, but Tennessee is definitely where he belongs.

I hope you can get a little laugh going. Here is a taste of how I got my weekend started (albeit a tad early).

Aw… I miss him.

Little him.

Not big him.

 

Restaurant Review: Cibo e Beve

Atlanta has a new restaurant, y’all.

This is definitely not an uncommon occurrence, but it is rare that I am invited to go before it even opens!

What! What! I have arrived.

Well, not really. Thao invited me. And she had the hook up. She let me tag along. Thanks Thao.

This new place is called Cibo (eat) e (and) Beve (drink). I was worried that you wouldn’t know what the “e” stood for. It is a great little Italian restaurant located in Sandy Springs.

What I liked best about it right from the get-go was their menu. Everything on it seemed to be pretty traditional and lets be honest… I just couldn’t decide. There were so many choices and we only had the Taster’s Menu. I am going back when the full menu is available.

I started out with some cheeses. I wish I could remember what they were, but I always order the ones that I don’t know, which leaves me never really knowing what kinds of cheese I am eating. Well, I lie. The crumbly one was gorgonzola… I was in the mood for a blue.

 

Thao ordered up the meatballs (even though she let me share them with her) and I thought that they were delicious in their rich marinara sauce.

We also ordered up Rucola e parmigiano with woodland gardens arugula, shaved reggiano, shrimp, citrus evoo. Very good. I make something similar to this at home and I l-o-v-e it.

Then it was time for the main course. Thao ordered Veal Milanese which was delicious with some fresh lemon squeezed over it.

While I got the Butter Poached Scallops. They were some of the best scallops I have had in a long time. It was accompanied with risotto which was perfect.

I wish that I had gotten a pasta course though. Well, my jean shorts don’t wish that, but my brain does. I think that that really would have sealed the deal for me.

If you are in the area, I would definitely give it a try. The staff was super-friendly and the owners came around and were very nice. I was also with Thao, who knows everyone everywhere.

Now, I may just have to go off and make some pasta.

Cibo e Beve

4969 Roswell Road

Atlanta, Ga

Fried Green Tomato “BLT”

 

It’s no secret that I have been burning up the highways in South Carolina and Georgia since summer started in May. As my summer is coming to a close, I have been trying to squeeze out every last drop of fun from the Summer of 2011. I spent a glorious couple of days in Charleston and Savannah this past weekend eating, drinking, and boating my way around.

 

Bf and I even make a trip to one of my favorite restaurants, Shem Creek Bar and Grill in Charleston for some delicious Blue Pointe Oysters.

 

We also ordered up some of my favorites… Fried Green Tomatoes and fried pickled okra. Oh my lawd… truly the best.

My sister Emily and I used to go to Shem Creek Bar and Grill after the beach and we always made sure we got the fried green tomatoes. Once, we got so hooked on them that we had a “Fried Day.” I feel guilty even explaining what we did that day, but it involved frying everything in sight for the whole day and then feeling so nauseous that we couldn’t even say the word “fried” for months.

It was all because of the fried green tomatoes…

They really are that good. After such a fun weekend, I got inspired to make my own version of fried green tomatoes (and to get my butt back to Savannah ASAP).

This is all you need to get started to make a crispy fried crust on your green tomatoes:

I took one VERY LARGE green tomatoes and sliced it into pretty thick slices. I love that tangy almost sour taste to green tomatoes.

Then, fry up the bacon in a large skillet and SAVE THE GREASE. That sounds a bit much, but you are going to need it for the tomatoes. Just move the skillet aside while you dip your tomatoes and return it to the heat when you are ready to get frying!

  

Dip tomatoes in a milk-flour-egg-corn meal pattern until all tomatoes are thoroughly covered with the mixture.

Fry the tomatoes for about 2 minutes per side, or until brown and then set to drain on paper towels.

While the tomatoes fry, start mixing up your remoulade sauce to go on the sandwich.

Its got capers in it.

You know how much I love capers.

Its a sickness.

 

Once the tomatoes have fried and the remoulade has been mixed, its time to assemble.

 

Start with the bread (toasted or not… totally up to you… but I went with toasted) and slather both slices with remoulade.

Top sandwiches with bacon.

Then add lettuce and your crispy fried green tomato.

Last, add remaining remoulade to the tops of the fried green tomatoes. I like mine open-faced. The tomato holds up pretty well as you eat it but you could totally stack these babies together if you wanted.

In the summer… nothing is better than a fried green tomato. I am always on the hunt for the best crust for the tomatoes, so if you have any suggestions, comment them on over!

I liked the cornmeal AND flour. It was crispy and held on to the tomato really well.

Enjoy!

FOR A PRINTABLE VERSION OF THIS RECIPE CLICK HERE!

Fried Green Tomato “BLT”:

 

serves 2

 

1 and 1/2 cup milk

 

1 and 1/2 cup flour

 

1 and 1/2 cup corn meal

 

2 eggs

 

1 large green tomato or 2 smaller ones

 

4-6 strips of bacon

 

bread (of some sort)

 

lettuce

 

Remoulade Sauce:

 

1/2 c. light mayo

 

2 tablespoons capers (with a little splash of the caper juice)

 

1 tablespoon lemon juice

 

1 teaspoon dijon

 

salt and pepper

Start by slicing the tomatoes into rather thick slices… or really however you want since its your sandwich. In a skillet, fry the bacon until it is crisp and remove to paper towels to drain. SAVE THE GREASE. Dip tomatoes in a milk-flour-egg-corn meal pattern until they are all covered. With the pan over medium (same pan with grease that you used for the bacon) fry the green tomatoes until they are brown on both sides (about 2 minutes). While the tomatoes fry, mix up the remoulade sauce by adding all of the ingredients to a bowl and stirring well. After tomatoes have fried, remove them to paper towels and begin assembling your sandwich.

 

 

Bridal Shower Inspiration

I am the Maid of Honor in my pal, Thao’s, upcoming wedding. We have made it through many milestones (remember the Key West bachelorette?) that accompany a wedding and next up is the Bridal Shower. Out of everything that we had done so far (selecting dresses, partying in Key West, visiting venues, etc…) this is what I have been looking forward to the most.

While planning a party can be stressful, I love the result. I love the feeling of being in the middle of a party that you set up and watching people enjoy themselves. Well, at least I would hope that they are enjoying themselves. If they didn’t/don’t then… fail.

The theme of Thao’s wedding is Romance and she has beautiful rich colors of gold and emerald worked into her wedding day. I love the drama that those colors bring and I thought that I would make the Bridal Shower fit that similar theme. But then, I figured that we are already having one party with bold colors, so why not make it fun and girlie?

This is the invitation that I am also using as the inspiration for the party.

I love the pink and red and black and the roses and the lace so I did some searching online to find some more inspiration for the party. I also hit up Pinterest and made a new board called Party to serve as a way to categorize my ideas.

DECOR:

For the decor I am definitely going to do paper lanterns in red, pink, black and maybe white.

And what says Romance more than twinkle lights?

Nothing.

That’s what.

I love the idea of using balloons with the paper lanterns.

 

This picture is kind of uber girlie and I don’t think that I would go this far, but I love the damask.

FOOD:

Thao  is Vietnamese and loves Vietnamese food (duh Natalie), so that would be fun to incorporate, but I am no whiz when it comes to Vietnamese cooking. I’m going to need to do some kind of sweet and cupcakes are the perfect thing to make. But these fortune cookies are also so cute that I want to die.

 

While there will be cupcakes, maybe I should throw some fruit in there too.

The Kerr mason jars with red flowers in them are my numero uno on the list of what I am going to do at the Bridal Shower. Love love love love love love.

FAVORS AND  FUN:

I have been searching for favors for weeks and nothing quite fit. I finally came up with a great idea (now if I can only see it through) and its kind of like this. But, I want to keep it a surprise. 

Since my obsession with my chalkboard wall, I’m planning a chalkboard backdrop for photos at the bride’s request.

I think that’s soooo cute.

Um, you will definitely be seeing some lips cut outs… I am still working out the details of this, but I think that they fit in with the theme p-e-r-f-e-c-t-l-y.

Photobooths are so much fun (and are apparently ALL THE RAGE right now).

Of course its fun to plan… and oh so easy to do it on the computer… and I am very curious to see how this all pans out. I have never thrown a party that wasn’t at my own home, so this will be a challenge. I just hope that the Bridal Shower reflects the bride: fun, party, romance, food, drink.

Results to come and you can keep up with what I am digging on Pinterest.

Feeling Saucy?

 

I love sauce. There. I said it. This is nothing new to you if you read my blog every once in a while. I just feel like sauce makes the dish. It can turn an ordinary meal into an extraordinary one.

One of my favorite sauces is red wine sauce to pour over steak. I love steak. But, it is a treat. Steak is reserved for special nights like Valentine’s… birthday… or Sundays (I respect Sundays greatly).

So, when Bf and I arrived in Savannah yesterday, I was craving a nice steak. While he worked with the steaks on the grill, I worked with a skillet inside making a sauce to go with them.

I don’t think that Bf understands my love for sauce. He wipes hot mustard on his steak and calls it a day, but I…I like to make it special.

Sometimes cooking in a kitchen that is not your own is refreshing. The pictures don’t look the same… the utensils are different… and sometimes the food just tastes better. This was the case last night.

This is a simple sauce that you can put on a variety of meats, but I love it best on steaks. This would work really well with pork chops too.

Start with these characters:

Here are the measurements:

1 minced shallot

1 tablespoon Dijon

1/2 c. beef broth

3/4 c. red wine

2 tablespoons butta

salt and peppa to your liking

And some sort of protein. Like I said before, I chose steak. New York Strips to be precise. I marinated them for a few hours in soy sauce, Krazy salt, EVOO, and Worchestershire.

Start with the skillet over medium heat and add chopped shallots. Cook them until they begin to brown.

Once the shallots have browned, add in the red wine.

Let the red wine reduce (almost completely) until there is little liquid left.

Once the red wine has reduced, add in beef broth.

Let the beef broth bubble and reduce for about 2 to 2  1/2 minutes. Then stir in the Dijon mustard.

To finish the sauce and add a nice shine, add in the butter.

Then pour the sauce over your protein. I poured mine over some nice grilled and sliced strip.

Yum. That was good. I love simple little things that you can do at home to make a meal feel special. Give this sauce a try. Its also easy to put your own spin on it.

Bf is yelling at me to get off the computer and join him for a late afternoon boat ride and well… who I am to protest.

Hope everyone had a great weekend and thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you thank you for reading my blog day after day.