Archive | November, 2011

Friendsgiving and My Favorite Thanksgiving Recipes!

22 Nov

Last night my friends and I got together for our first annual Friendsgiving! I have to say that I was pretty impressed with the result. We had all the fixings of a traditional thanksgiving dinner, and everything tasted pretty darn good. Pretty impressive for a group of twenty-somethings who aren’t all that experienced at cooking. We actually ended up with waaaay too much food. But my boyfriend was pretty happy when I brought him a heaping plate of leftovers :) I have to say – good food, good wine, and good friends make for a fabulous evening.

My contributions to our evening consisted of my mom’s world-famous cheesy potato casserole and Kentucky Derby pie. My siblings and I have literally fought over cheesy potato leftovers. It’s one of those dishes that we ask my mom to make for every family get-together. And the Kentucky Derby pie is one of my favorite desserts. Both are super simple to make. I was actually at work late so I rushed home, whipped everything together in about 20 minutes, then let them bake for 45 minutes while I got ready for the evening. Check out the recipes below if you are looking for ideas on what to bring to Thanksgiving dinner.

I’m headed home to WV tomorrow for the holiday weekend. I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving! Let me know how your cooking adventures go this weekend.

Cheesy Potato Casserole:

  • 32 oz. bag of southern style (cubed) hash browns
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • Shredded cheddar cheese
  • Crushed cornflakes

Mix the potatoes, soup, sour cream, cheese, and most of the butter together and spread in a greased baking dish. Top with crushed cornflakes and drizzle with the remaining melted butter. Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes.

Kentucky Derby Pie:

  • 1/2 cup softened butter
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 cup walnuts
  • pie shell

Mix all ingredients and pour into unbaked pie shell. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.

Thanksgiving Centerpieces

20 Nov

It’s time to start thinking about Thanksgiving dinner. I’ll be going home to spend the holiday weekend with my family and enjoy my mama’s home cookin’ :) For those of you having guests over for dinner, I wanted to write a post about Thanksgiving centerpieces. I have to say that ‘tablescaping’ is a passion of mine, though I don’t get to do it often. It’s always fun to get creative and think outside the vase of flowers for an attention-grabbing centerpiece. And it doesn’t have to break the bank! You can dress up any centerpiece with inexpensive candles, or better yet, arrange items you already have in a new way!

I have a pretty simple fall centerpiece on my table right now. I found a pumpkin basket and fall flowers on sale at Michael’s Arts and Crafts. (And Michael’s always has coupons in the Sunday paper!) The orange pumpkin candles are from Wal-mart and smell fantastic! The rustic table runner is from Target, though you could use inexpensive burlap fabric purchased from your local fabric store. The whole thing cost about $20, with most of that going to the table runner.

Here are some other creative table setting ideas I found on Pinterest that are unique and can be recreated inexpensively.

I love the idea of dressing up these candles with the popcorn kernels- and it’s so cheap! Tall candle holders always make a nice statement and these popcorn kernels give great height. In this case, the fall leaves are tied around the candle with burlap string, though I would suggest tying them around the candle holder itself so they don’t catch on fire, especially if you use real leaves.

I love this idea! It’s clean and classic. The stark contrast of the orange mini pumpkins and gourds against the black iron lanterns is beautiful. You can find the cute minis at your local grocery store for cheap around thanksgiving. Shop around for the lanterns; they can be expensive at some locations but you can usually also find these for a reasonable price. And they can be re-used for multiple occasions, or to dress up and outdoor patio.

This is a great fall centerpiece that can carry over into Thanksgiving. It’s a simple assortment of pumpkins, pine-cones, berries, and candles. The initial on the pumpkin is an added touch that makes a great statement, and I love the black on white. This seemed to be the year for painting pumpkins! I saw white pumpkins with the old-school cameos painted in black that were gorgeous, as well as pumpkins painted with team colors for football season. The next photo of painted pumpkins is my favorite! This is the cutest idea. I am totally using this next year! Not only is it unique as well as easy and inexpensive to make, it reminds me of why we celebrate thanksgiving. Give thanks for all your blessings and have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Do you have any creative ideas for a Thanksgiving centerpiece? Please share! Look for my next post which will have my favorite Thanksgiving recipes… including Kentucky Derby pie! Delicious.

DIY Fall Wreath

18 Nov

I am new to Pinterest, (I know! I’m way behind the curve) but I have to say, I love it. I actually joined because my little sister found so many creative ideas for her wedding this past September and she continues to show me all these cute decorating ideas. She actually made a fall wreath using some ideas from Pinterest so I thought I would document her craftiness and post it here! I love the idea of a more modern wreath as opposed to the traditional flower wreath. This wreath uses vines and felt rosettes. I also love the big burlap letter in the middle. It adds a great focal point to the wreath. My sister got her vines from the vineyard where she got married (so sweet) but you can find a pre-made wreath like this at your local craft store. Or, if you are really resourceful, you can find them in your backyard and secure them with a little hot glue and floral wire! The rosettes are actually quite easy to make. You cut a circle out of felt, then cut the felt circle in a spiral. Wind the felt tightly and glue the edge and the bottom of the rosette with hot glue to secure. The key is to scallop the edges (make them look wavy) so you get that appearance of a bunch of petals. To make rosettes with a center of a different color, cut a small circle of felt for the center, wind and secure that. Then cut another circle out of a different color felt and wind around the small rosette.

You can purchase a pre-cut letter at your local craft store, or stencil one on foam core and cut out with an x-acto knife or box cutter. You can paint the letter, cover it in rosettes, or cover it in fabric. My sister used burlap to give it a rustic look. She also hung the wreath using the burlap and added a little extra around the wreath. Love it! Great job sis :)

Here are a few more photos of wreaths I love from Pinterest. These all have a modern twist and make a bold statement… and I love the use of different materials. Click on the image to go to the original site to learn how to make these.

Sarah’s Kitchen: Easy Enchiladas and Sophisticated Guacamole

18 Nov

Straight from my kitchen comes my first weekly recipe- easy enchiladas with guacamole dip as an appetizer. The guacamole is a mixture of avocado, edamame, and pesto sauce, with some onion and lemon juice. I like avocado, but in smaller doses, so this is a great mixture of flavors.  The enchiladas are super easy and absolutely delicious. To cut down on the number of ingredients, I use a packet of McCormick’s Enchilada Seasoning. This recipe actually comes from the back of the seasoning packet. This is not the quickest meal, especially if you also make the guacamole, so give yourself a little time for this one. The result, however, is a hearty meal that is large enough for a group and will please any boyfriend! Fair warning- if you don’t have a food processor, the guacamole can be pretty tedious. I don’t have a food processor (Though it’s on my Christmas list :). That’s how you know you’re getting old; when your Christmas list consists of work clothes and cooking gadgets!) I actually cook the edamame, then put it in a big plastic bag and mash it up with a hammer, then my hands. Your guacamole will be a little on the chunky side but still delicious!

Edamame Avocado Dip:

  • 1 12 oz. package of frozen shelled edamame
  • 1 medium avocado, peeled, seeded, and cut up
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 3 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp. purchased basil pesto
  • 3/4 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • chopped tomato (optional)
  • pita chips (I love Stacy’s Pita Chips)

Combine edamame, avocado, onion, lemon juice, pesto, salt and pepper in a food processor and process until nearly smooth (or chop and mix well by hand). Top with chopped tomato and serve with pita chips.

Enchiladas:

  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 can (8 ounces) tomato sauce
  • 1 package McCormick® Enchilada Sauce Mix
  • 1 pound ground beef or ground turkey (I use Laura’s Lean Beef)
  • 8 corn or flour tortillas (6-inch), warmed
  • 1 cup shredded low fat Cheddar cheese
  • low fat sour cream

Preheat oven to 350°F. Mix water, tomato sauce and Sauce Mix in medium saucepan. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to low; simmer 5 minutes or until thickened, stirring occasionally. While sauce is cooking, brown beef in medium skillet on medium-high heat. Drain fat. Stir 1/2 cup sauce into meat. Spoon about 1/4 cup meat filling onto each tortilla. Roll tortillas tightly. (Tip: use a little of the sauce as a kind of glue to hold the tortillas together.) Pour a little sauce into the bottom of a greased 11×7-inch baking dish. Place enchiladas seam-side down in dish, and pour remaining sauce over enchiladas. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake 15 minutes or until sauce is bubbly and cheese is melted. Top with sour cream. This makes about 6 enchiladas. (I split it up into two smaller dishes to make saving leftovers easier.)

Zipping Through the Red River Gorge

12 Nov

My boyfriend and I are both lovers of the outdoors. A couple weekends ago, we went ziplining at the Red River Gorge here in KY. It would have been an expensive date, but with a half-off Living Social deal, we had a great time for a very reasonable price. One of our guides referred to the area as Red River Gorgeous, and he was right! I have been to the Gorge several times, but never seen it from this vantage point. The first few ziplines took us through the tree tops, and the fall colors were beautiful. The last two ziplines went over one of the canyons, literally hundreds of feet up in the air, and the view was amazing. And they were dual ziplines, so we got to race! Dave beat me both times :( But it was still an absolute blast. Here are a few photos from the day:

I know I’m a little biased but I think my boyfriend is such a stud :) This was a great date… It was a bit of a thrill and the setting was gorgeous. We finished up the last two ziplines right as the sun was setting, and topped off the day with some pizza and beer. All around an awesome day!

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