Thursday, May 26, 2011

In the Kitchen - Shrimp and Grits

I don't suscribe to many cooking blogs but I absolutely love Dunne's from With a Cherry on Top - this is another one of her winning recipes. Please visit her blog and flip through her archives if you're ever stumped for a great dinner recipe! I would like to say that I've made shrimp and grits many times using a lot of different recipes...her version is one of the simplest ones that still has a great flavor. 1 1/2 lbs shrimp, peeled and deveined 1 lemon hot sauce 1 1/2 tsp salt 1 1/2 cups stone ground grits 6 slices of bacon, chopped 1 small onion, chopped 1 small green pepper, chopped 2 cloves garlic minced 1/2 cup scallions, sliced 2 tablespoons flour 1 cup chicken broth 2 cups cheddar cheese In a bowl combine shrimp, lemon juice and several splashes of hot sauce. Boil 6 cups of water and 1 Tsp of salt to a boil and gradually whisk in the grits; reduce heat to low. Let simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. In a large skillet, cook the bacon over medium heat. Add onions and peppers until tender. Stir in the garlic and scallions. Sprinkle flour over the mixture and cook for approx 5 minutes stirring frequently. Stir in the chicken broth and remaining salt and cook until thickened. Add shrimp to the pan and cook through. Add butter to the grits and stir in cheese. To serve - Top grits with shrimp and extra cheese if wanted and additional hot sauce.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Suit up and meet me at the beach!

I was so good last summer and I didn't buy any new bathing suits. This year was a different story, I think I'll be going to the beach quite a bit this year and I wanted something new and fun to wear. Both of these suits will be going with me to the beach this Memorial Day weekend. Both are from Victoria's Secret I love the style and colors. I actually bought the exact suit top and bottom in the colors pictured. The little ties on this suit are dark navy with white dots and is a great contrast with the gold metallic and white top. When I browsed the catalog this one really stood out to me.
I love this suit as a halter and as a bandeau. The color pictured looks like a dark pink but actually it's hot hot watermelon pink. Almost a florescent pink, it looks okay on my pale skin but will really pop with a tan. I wish I'd gotten it in blue because I'm so pale but I'm keeping it in Diva Pink so I don't have to go through the hassle of exchanging it.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

In the Kitchen - Roasted Corn Salsa

So I'm going to share my favorite tailgate snack. I also like to make it for summer picnics and BBQs - it's veggie packed so it won't make you feel so bad about splurging on other items. I found this recipe on the internet and wrote it down so I'm actually not quite sure of the link but if contacted I'll be happy to give credit for it. 4 ears of fresh summer corn lime juice 4 tomatoes seeded and diced 2 red onions, finely diced 1-2 jalapenos seeded and finely diced 4 Tablespoons of cilantro, chopped 3 Tablespoons of olive oil salt and pepper to taste Roast the corn in the husk on the grill over medium-low heat. I have also roasted it in the oven in a pinch wrapped in aluminum foil. When the corn cools cut kernels off the cob. Place corn, tomatoes, onions, jalapenos and cilantro in a bowl. In a smaller bowl whisk lime juice, olive oil, salt and pepper and use it to dress the salsa. Cover the bowl and let it chill over night for the best flavor. I like to serve mine with blue corn tortilla chips. I have mixed in various spices as can try fresh garlic or cumin to keep the flavors interesting. I have also added some chopped bell pepper to bulk it up and add an extra veggie.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Sephora Birthday Purchases

I bought these makeup items for myself a few weeks ago for my birthday. I'll probably be ready to review them soon because I've been wearing them exclusively since I got them. Originally I went into Sephora looking some "photo" appropriate makeup to play with before my best friend's wedding. I know I've found the right blush and foundation!
Nars Madly Blush. Just seeing this in the store it looks...blah. I would have never picked it up if it hadn't gotten so many good reviews. On my pale skin it shows up as a natural shade, it really doesn't even look like blush. It gives me the best color though, even an illusion that I have had some sun on my cheeks. Urban Decay Bourbon. After falling in love with Zero I thought I'd give this a try for summer. I love to swipe a bronze shade on my eyeline and forgo all the shadow. It is a beautiful deep metallic bronze but it isn't right for me. It brings out the red undertones in my eyelid and even makes my eyes look red. Some "bronzy and coppery" colors oxidize in a weird way on my skin. But I wouldn't hesitate to tell someone else to try it, the color is great, it just doesn't work on me.
MUFE Mat Velvet. LOVE THIS. I still like my beloved Korres but this provides a little more coverage and it doesn't have SPF so it should photograph beautifully. My shade is Ivory and it is a perfect match. I wouldn't say it's truely "matte", my skin looks very natural when I put it on but a few hours later I definitely have some shine. I don't mind, I expect to have to do a few touchups during the day. I have tried other matte products that almost make the skin powdery looking; some of them are sometimes hard to blend.
This was a free perk from Sephora and it is a pretty good one. I LOVE the cream eyeliner, in fact I like it better than the bourbon eyeliner that I purchased. The only downside is the kit didn't come with an eye liner brush, it would have been nice to have a small travel one. I have a sigma eyeliner brush and a coastal scents one that I love but I feel like one should have been included in this kit. The neutral eyeshadows are perfect for summer, I've been wearing them to work mostly. I haven't tried the primer and I'll definitely be reviewing the lashDNA mascara.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

In the Kitchen: HG Macaroni and Cheese

I wanted mac and cheese. MY macaroni is delicious with a creamy sauce and usually a few types of quality (read: expensive) cheeses but it is not waist friendly. I caught Hungry Girl's mac and cheese on a recent episode and decided I'd try her lighter version - it was good, not as good, but very good. And yes I'd make it again.
6 cups frozen green giant cauliflower and cheese sauce ( I used the broccoli and cheese version)
2 cups uncooked ronzoni healthy harvest whole wheat blend rotinia pasta
3 wedges The Laughing Cow Light Original Swiss Cheese
Optional salt and pepper to taste
Prepare pasta according to the instructions on the box and then drain and set aside. While pasta is cooking - place contents of frozen veg in cheese sauce in a large microwave safe bowl. Cover and microwave for 12-16 minutes until sauce as melted and cauliflower is hot.
Once the bowl is cool, add cooked pasta and set aside. Unwrap cheese wedges and place in a small microwave safe dish. Melt for 30 seconds and stir until smooth, then add to bowl.
Mix thoroughly to make sure cheese is evenly distributed and season with salt and pepper.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

In the Kitchen: Molten Lava Cakes

I saved this recipe from "With a Cherry On Top" from February and made it for R. I have made Lava Cakes before with recipes very similar to this one and they've all come out delicious - the key is knowing your oven and being able to determine how long to leave them in. I made one last year with a little instant expresso powder and it was also very good, brings out the chocolate but cuts the sweetness. We DEVOURED them straight from the oven!

1/2 cup unsalted butter
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
4 ounces semi sweet chocolate
2 eggs
1/4 cup sugar
pinch of salt
2 tablespoons flour

Preheat the oven to 425*F. Prep two ramekins (I used 5 inch ones) by buttering them and dusting them with cocoa powder. In a double boiler melt the butter and chocolate over medium heat, stirring frequently and let cool. In a large bowl beat the eggs, sugar, and salt until the sugar dissolves (approx 1 minute). With the mixer on low, slowly add in the chocolate mixture until incorporated. Add the flour and mix to combine. Divide batter between the ramekins and place on a baking sheet. Bake for 8 minutes (I needed 10-11 minutes) and remove. Let cool slightly and gently seperate the sides with a butter knife. Serve with whipped cream and a dusting of powder sugar or top with thinly sliced strawberries.

We just ate them out of the ramekin but they are very pretty plated! We don 't have time for that in this house, messy in the ramekin is fine with us.

Monday, May 16, 2011

In the Kitchen - Black Bean Lasagna

I made this dish for R one night because I had most of the ingredients on hand. It was delicious, I could have sworn I photographed it but I can't find the photo. I took this recipe from Chloe and she has terrific photos! It's so creamy and makes great leftovers for work with a side salad.

9 Dried Lasagna noodles (I had to use more to fill my pan)
2 15-ounce cans of black beans drained and rinsed
1 egg, beaten
1 12-ounce carton cream style cottage cheese
1 8-ounce package cream cheese cubed and softened
1 1/2 cups shredded montery jack cheese (I didn't measure)
1 tablespoon cooking oil
1 cup chopped onion
3/4 cup chopped green sweet pepper
2 cloves garlic minced
1 15-ounce can italian style tomato sauce (I used a larger 22 ounce can)
4 teaspoons dried cilantro
1 teaspoon ground cumin (I didn't use this)
1 coarsely chopped tomato

 1. Lightly grease a 9x13 inch baking dish; set aside. Preheat oven to 350*F. Cook lasagna noodles according to package directions and drain well. Rinse with cold water and drain again. Place noodles in a single layer on a sheet of foil and set aside.
 2. In a small bowl use a potato masher to mash half of the black beans and set aside. In a medium bowl combine egg, cottage cheese, cream cheese, and 1 cup of monterey jack cheese; set aside.
 3. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium high heat. Add onion, sweet pepper, and garlic. Cook and stir until tender 5-6 minutes. Stir in mashed beans, whole beans, tomato sauce, and spices. Heat through.
 4. Arrange cooked noodles in prepared dish. Top with 1/3 of tomato sauce / bean mixture. Spoon half of the cheese mixture over the bean filling. Repeat layers again. Top with remaining noodles and last of the filling.
 5. Bake covered for 35-40 minutes or until heated through. Uncover, sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Let stand uncovered for about 10 minutes before serving. Top with chopped tomato.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

R's Graduation Gift

I'm so proud of my boyfriend and I'm so glad that I was able to join in the graduation festivities with him and his family. An occasion this BIG needs a pretty great gift to commemorate it, I searched for weeks to find the perfect gift...and this one literally happened across my computer screen. Thank you!
Ballpark cufflinks made with real wooden seats salvaged from FENWAY PARK! Each one has the name of the ballpark on the back and comes with a certificate of authenticity with the section and number of the seat they are made from. They really are beautiful and I was so excited when R decided to wear them with his graduation outfit. If you have a baseball lover in your life these might be something to look into, R loves them and they were a huge hit with his friends!

New Apartment Post

I've been living here for a few months but it takes so long to post photos I've procrastinated on sharing these. I really like this apartment; the community is very quiet, the maintenance is fast and efficient and the details are great - I have chair rails, crown molding, ceiling fans, nice light fixtures and a very nice kitchen with great appliances and storage.

My Kitchen. I really would like to paint, I hate the white walls.

My tiny entry way. I bought this little table to house my incoming mail, stamps, pens, etc to stay organized.
Living Room and a small glimpse of the bar area. Lilly desperately tried to get my attention and refused to step out of the photo. I've been looking an actual coffee table. I love this ottoman and, in past apartments, it has been a great source of storage but now I'm really wanting a nice heavy cherry wood coffee table to match my end table.
Living room, the only thing new are the leather bar stools seen on the left. When my grandma passed away she left me that cute antique sewing box in the corner.
Makeup and hair product storage
My huge walk in closet!
Bathroom, this didn't change much from my last apartment

Saturday, May 14, 2011

My Best Friend's Wedding: Part 1

This past weekend my best friend's parents hosted a part for her and her fiance. A Kentucky Derby theme was the perfect way to get two families mingling over mint juleps and barbeque. I didn't take a lot of photos, as her MOH I was trying to talk to everyone and she had me act as "bookie" taking the guests' bets before the race. Her parents threw the perfect roses, julep cups, and hats worn by the ladies - all the details were covered.
The happy couple.
The bride and her best friend, one of the bridesmaids.
I was trying to get a picture of the whole bridal party but it was difficult getting everyone together once the food was being served. The bride stopped for a photo with her BM and MOH.
R looking dapper in his bowtie and a closeup of my hat - my massive hat!
Towards the end of the night, the groom posed for a photo with the BM and myself.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Graduation Ceremony Spring 2011

Friday R graduated from ECU and I spent the entire day with his friends and family. We started with lunch reservations with his family and then we went and reserved our seats for the ceremony.

R in his graduation gown and hard-hat. He made my mom very excited when he chose to wear the tie she gave him as his grad gift. Coming off the stage when his name was called!

R and I post ceremony.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Chef & the Farmer - R's graduation dinner

Go nowhere and turn left and thats how you find yourself at the Chef and the Farmer resturant in Kinston and thats exactly what R and I did to celebrate the eve of his college graduation. This is hands down the best resturant I've ever been to. I love that there are more resturants that are creating beautiful atmosphere and inspired food using local produce and meat. The farmer and the chef should be BFF! This resturant is meticulous to only stock great wine and local brews that can be found for sale at their wine shop. R and I bought a few things inluding some Aprihop IPA that is delicious! I took a few photos on my phone so we can remember our experience, especially since the menu is seasonal and changes every few weeks. Here is a sneak peak:
Cast Iron Fried Flatbread, lamb, goat cheese, mint, and tomato
Leaping Lizard Merlot, Napa Valley 2008
My selection: Carmelized spring onion risotto, shitake, asparagus, and leek ragout truffle / parmigianno
R's selection: Piedmontese Bone-In Ribeye, chimichurri, hakurei turnip, creamed greens
Sweet potato cheesecake, pecan praline

Monday, May 9, 2011

A couple new products that I'm loving...

In the upcoming weeks dreaded Carolina humidity will be more and more common and I tend to reach for my tried and true hairspray BigSexyHair Spray and Play Harder. I recently picked up this one from Target to try...Garnier Fructis Style Full Control Aerosol Hairpray in Strong Hold (or level 2). I love it! I haven't tried it in thick humidity yet but for the rest of the months of the year this will probably be a go to hairspray for me. When I use it I achieve flexible hold that stays even on a rainy day and the shine! I have definitely noticed it gives my hair a nice sheen. I'm really sensitive to a lot of skincare products as they tend to break me out. I used a coppertone one a few weeks ago and had a pretty severe breakout. More recently I've been using this one for days I'll be getting a lot of sun. Neutrogena Ultra Sheer liquid daily sunblock, the description states it "works beautifully alone or under makeup and moisturizers". It has SPF70, lightweight and broad spectrum UVA/UVB that shields skin 6 layers deep from premature skin aging per their product claims. I love the finish, it absorbs easily and doesn't leave me shiny as some of their products in the past. Most importantly I didn't burn! I'm using this on my face, neck, and ears and there haven't been any breakouts.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

In the Kitchen: Hungry Girl Chop Chop Beef Stir Fry

I tried this recipe the night after I saw it air on Lisa Lillian's Hungry Girl episode "Fill 'er Up". It's a quick recipe with lots of vegetables that would be a good addition to your weekly menu. This is her recipe as is with a few notes from me...the recipe below only makes 1 serving so I had to double it to feed R and I and there were still leftovers for lunch the next day. We also added some red pepper flake and a dash of soy sauce at the end when we plated it. 1/2 cup fat-free broth 1/2 tbsp cornstarch 1/2 tbsp reduced sodium lite soy sauce (I used more after it was cooked for more flavor) 1/2 tbsp chopped garlic 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes ( I used more for extra flavor) 4 oz raw lean beefsteak filet (I used beef stir fry strips pre cut) dash salt 2 cups broccoli florets 1 cup sliced mushrooms 1 cup sugar snap peas (I omitted this because they weren't available at the grocery at the time) 2 tbsp chopped scallions (extra thinly sliced for garnish at the end) In a bowl combine broth, cornstarch, soy sauce, garlic, and red pepper whisk and set aside. Season the beef with salt and thinly slice if it isn't precut. Add to the bowl, coat and cover to let marinate for 10-15 minutes. I left mine in the fridge for about 2 hours so I could run errands. Spray a skillet with PAM and set to medium high on the stove. Add broccoli, mushrooms, sugar snap peas, and scallions and 1/4 cup of the marinade from the beef. Stir occasionally and cook until broccoli is soft about 3 minutes. Add beef and remaining marinade. Stir occasionally and cook through about 2-3 minutes. Garnish with additional scallions.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

In the Kitchen:Tilapia and Tabbouleh

The lovely Dunne from With A Cherry On Top has another winner. As you can tell she has one of my favorite food blogs! I made her Tilapia with Lemon Butter Sauce and it was so simple and delicious.
2 large tilapia fillets
3 Tbsp butter divided
salt and pepper to taste
1 Tbsp flour
1 garlic clove minced (I used about a teaspoon of minced garlic from a jar)
1/4 cup chicken stock
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 medium tomato, diced
Season the fish with salt and pepper and sear them in 2 Tbsp of butter over medium heat for 3-4 minutes per side. Remove fillets from the pan. Heat the remaining 1 Tbsp butter over medium high heat and add garlic. Stir in the flour and cook 1-2 minutes. Slowly whisk in chicken stock and lemon juice. Top the fillets with sauce and diced tomato.
I made this one night with:
Make according to package directions and add 1 diced cucumber, 1 large diced tomato, 3 tablespoons of fresh chopped basil and 1/2 cup feta cheese.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Calypso for Target

I purchased two items from the new Calypso line at Target. One was this navy blue off the shoulder dress. I'd love to pair it with a brown belt around the waist and some espilladres. This is the first long dress I've ever purchased. It definitely makes a statement with a hot pink tie dye type effect. It fits well though and it is the perfect length for flops.
Both of these dresses are $39.99.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Neelys Broccoli Pasta Slaw

I took this photo from The Neelys recipe on the foodnetwork site. I'd just like to say I really don't like slaw..or maybe I don't like cabbage swimming in a pool of mayo. This recipe is delicious and will probably be my go to slaw recipe. It would be a great addition to any cookout! R and I ate this one night with some BBQ chicken and another night with baked salmon.
1/2 pound farfelle cooked and cooled
1 bag shredded broccoli slaw (I couldn't find this so I used bagged coleslaw and added 2 heads of broccoli florets)
1 cup slivered almonds
1 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup lowfat plain yogurt
1/4 cup mayonnaise
3 T cider vinegar
1 T sugar
1/4 t cayenne (I used at least 2 full teaspoons instead)
salt and pepper to taste
Add pasta, broccoli slaw, slivered almonds, and cranberries in a large bowl. In a small bowl whisk mayo, yogurt, vinegar, sugar, S&P and cayenne. Toss the dressing with the slaw to combine.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Shrimp and Feta Bake

I bought some feta cheese last week that featured this recipe on the label. I tweeked it some to make it a little more filling.
1 small onion chopped
1 T minced garlic
1 can of tomatoes diced ( I used half a container of cherry tomatoes halved)
2 T olive oil
1 T Kraft Basil Parm Dressing with Olive Oil (I added this for a little extra flavor)
salt and pepper to taste (I never measure this)
2 cups of cooked pasta (I used Farfelle)
1 pound shrimp
3/4 cup feta cheese
dried oregano to sprinkle (the original recipe calls for fresh oregano)
Preheat the oven to 350*. Heat the olive oil over medium heat and saute onions until soft. Add garlic and tomatoes and cook through. Stir in Kraft dressing, pinch of salt and pepper. Remove from heat and add shrimp. Place pasta in a casserole dish and top with sauce. Top the pasta with feta cheese and sprinkle some dried oregano. Bake approx 10 minutes until shrimp are cooked through.
R and I both topped our pasta with a few red pepper flakes because we like a little kick. It was great with the addition.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Beach Music Festival

This past weekend my friends from all over drove in for the Triangle Beach Music Festival or TBMF! There were five bands that played beach music for about seven hours straight... R and I...unfortunately this photo was taken right after a "beer shower", I hate that some people get so messed up at events like this they want to spray their beer over everyone else. Oh well, thats why you never wear anything nice outdoor festivals.
My childhood best friend Lindsay and I. It was so good to spend some time with her.
My sorority sisters Starr and Stephanie. Starr drove in from NoVa for this, I haven't seen her in a year so it was a real treat! I know I had several other sisters at this event but I didn't bump into them.
It was the first time I've seen Chairman of the Board without General Johnson. It was so sad hearing that he'd passed away. He was definitely missed at this event and the band will never be the same. It was a great show regardless...I just LOVE beach music!