Thursday, November 29, 2012

RECIPE: Easy Spaghetti Sauce

When my grandmother passed away in 2007 she left me all of her cookbooks. You're probably thinking I inherited 5, maybe 6 good old southern cookbooks...

No. I inherited 5 times 6 cookbooks, maybe more. Many of them are still in dusty stacks in my grandfather's dining room floor. Very few of them are actually with me now, in our tiny apartment. It's funny because Grandmere died before I really became interested in cooking. I guess she knew what was to come!

Her main cookbook was filled to the brim with pages ripped out of magazines for recipes she either loved or never tried- I'm not sure which! I found an old recipe for spaghetti sauce tucked away in the back and made it for my family. They loved it and now we have it every year at Christmas.

1 lb ground beef
8 oz can tomato sauce
1 c water
2 T onion flakes
2 t worcestershire sauce
2 t sugar
1/2 t garlic powder
1/4 t pepper
14 oz jar plain spaghetti sauce

Brown beef & drain. Mix in all ingredients except jar of spaghetti sauce and bring to a boil over medium heat. Cover and simmer 20 minutes. Uncover, add spaghetti sauce, and simmer another 20. Serve with your favorite pasta!

Wanna see the original?

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Thanksgiving Break, etc.

It's always sad to come to the end of a vacation, no matter how short. It was amazing to have two days off of work last week... a full four day weekend! Did all of you enjoy your Thanksgiving breaks? If you didn't get a break over Thanksgiving, I hope that one comes your way soon.

I spent lots of time sleeping, cleaning, cooking, shopping, watching Friends, and not doing any homework at all. It's been glorious. 8 hours of work + 3 hours of school tomorrow is going to be a shock to my system, but that's ok!

This weekend I started working on a project I'm going to be sharing with you next month. It's called 12 days of Christmas cookies and it's going to be exactly as the title suggests. Anybody have a cookie recipe they want to share? Email me and let me know! I have 10 more days to fill. ;)

We also started decorating for Christmas at the apartment. I can't wait until we have a whole house to decorate and a much larger tree! Brandon told me tonight that if it was up to him we wouldn't even have a tree. Can you imagine the horror?

Time for me to go curl up on the couch and finish watching 666 Park Avenue. Have any of you seen that show? It's my new favorite!

PS) I see that I have several new followers! Many of you stopped by from Pink on the Cheek. Thanks so much for sticking around!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thankful Thursday, Short & Sweet

Since I skipped a Thankful Thursday earlier this month, there are two comin' atcha today! This one is short & sweet:

I am thankful that I do not have to eat oysters on Thanksgiving this year. and I'm thankful that I'm about to eat pumpkin pie for breakfast. And I'm thankful that I was able to sleep in today until 8 am. ;)

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

RECIPE: Spicy Chicken Tortilla Pinwheels

As we all know, I love all things Mexican and recently I've been growing more accustomed to cooking spicy things. This appetizer is the perfect combination of both:

1.5 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 can Rotel, drained
12 oz cream cheese, softened
1 c shredded cheddar cheese
1 clove garlic, minced
2 t chili powder
1 t cumin
1/2 t cayenne pepper
1/2 t garlic salt
1/4 c cilantro, chopped
6 scallions, diced
6-8 large spinach or sun dried tomato tortillas
salt, to taste

Boil chicken until done. Allow to cool, then shred. In a mixing bowl, combine cream cheese, Rotel, shredded cheese, spices, garlic, cilantro and scallions. Add shredded chicken and mix until well combined. Divide mixture evenly in the center of each tortilla. Spread a thin layer, leaving the edges clean.

Roll each tortilla tightly and refrigerate for at least half an hour to allow ingredients to set. Remove rolled tortillas from the fridge and slice them into 1 inch pieces. Place on serving tray, then refrigerate until time to serve.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Weekend Musings

I would apologize for not updating since Thursday, but I have nothing to be sorry for! I spent a nice Friday night at home with my husband and then spent the rest of the weekend in Boone with my two best friends!

I was too busy shopping, gossiping, laughing, and playing with cute puppies to take many photos. You'll just have to trust me when I say that it was a good time. I even made a quick trip to Trader Joe's on my way home to stock up on groceries for dinner. I wish we had one in Greensboro! Has anyone ever tried their cookie butter? What do you think of it?

When I arrived home this afternoon, Christmas came early to the Callaway house...

...a special edition Keurig for Brandon and a second band on my wedding set for me. I may be biased, but I'm pretty sure I came out on top in this deal.

After cooking a dinner consisting solely of Trader Joe's purchases, I'm now planted on the couch watching One Tree Hill. All in all, it's been a pretty great weekend. It's such a shame it's almost over! I'm looking forward to a 3-day work week followed by Thanksgiving celebrations. How was your weekend?

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Thankful Thursday, At Work

I forgot to post Thankful Thursday last week. Oops! This one is a really good one. :) This week, I'm thankful for my co-workers. I'm just a few months into my first "real" full-time job and I feel so lucky to have the best group of co-workers and friends to support me and keep me company every day.

Let's be honest- I spend more time with them than I do with my husband most weeks! I don't know what I'd do if I didn't get along with my co-workers. They are the best! Wanna meet them? They all wondered why I came around the office taking pictures of them earlier this week. Now you know, guys!

She'd probably want me to tell you she has the cutest pup ever.

Taken the day of his surprise birthday party ;)

I learned today that this girl loves fried pork skins.

We started our new jobs on the same day!

Cait has been out sick, so I didn't get her photo. Feel better Cait!

So now you've met my favorite co-workers. Love them! Are you thankful for friends at work?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

RECIPE: Easy Hot Mexican Dip

As we discussed last week, I love dips. This is a particular favorite of mine because the ingredients are cheap and it's easy to assemble (only 4 layers!). I took it to a birthday party over the weekend and it was a big hit!

1 block cream cheese @ room temperature
1/2-3/4 lb ground beef
1 jar chunky salsa
1 c shredded mexican blend cheese

Brown the ground beef and crumble into tiny pieces. Spread out the cream cheese in the bottom of a small glass casserole dish. Top with ground beef. Pour salsa over the beef, covering the entire dish. Finally, sprinkle with desired amount of cheese. Bake in oven at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until shredded cheese begins to melt and brown. Serve warm with tortilla chips.

Thanks to my friend Meghan who first shared this recipe with me several years ago. :)

Monday, November 12, 2012


Well hi, blog world! Nice to see you again. It's been a few days! It's creeping towards that miserably busy (but fun!?) time of the year again and I feel like I have a lot on my plate over the upcoming weeks. At this point, it's full steam ahead through the end of the year. With a huge work event in January, it's really full steam ahead until February. With a thesis to write and my final grad classes to finish, it's really full steam ahead until May 9th, my graduation day.

6 months to go until things calm down in my life... I hope I can make it 'til then! Anyway, moving on:

Thank you so much to everyone who weighed in on a name for my flamingo. And an extra special thank you because nobody called me crazy for buying a stuffed flamingo! The response was clear: Sheldon is his name! I guess he's destined to be quite persnickety, but brilliant, with a special affinity for comic books and trains. I should maybe consider giving him his own spot on our couch.

I forgot about didn't have time for Thankful Thursday last week, so expect two of those this week + more!

Lastly, I'm working on something special for the blog during the month of December. Would anybody like to guest post and share a Christmas cookie recipe? If so, send me an email. :)

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

RECIPE: Caramelized Onion Dip

I'm a big fan of dips. Dips for snacks, dips for appetizers, dips for dinner and lunch... I'd probably eat a breakfast dip if such a thing existed. Mmm... do you think it does? Anyway, this dip is perfect for anyone who loves onions and terrible for anyone who does not.

2 T olive oil
2 large yellow onions, finely chopped
3/4 c sour cream
3/4 c plain greek yogurt
3 t onion powder (+ more to taste)
1/2 t salt

In a large skillet over medium heat, begin to caramelize the onions in the olive oil. This will take forever and you will get hungry and impatient. The onions are caramelized when they turn a deep brown. It may take between 40-50 minutes.

In the meantime, whisk together the remaining ingredients. Add additional onion powder until it reaches your desired flavor. I'm pretty sure I added at least 2 more teaspoons. Allow the onions to come to room temperature.

Stir 2/3 of the onions into the dip mixture and top with remaining onions. Serve with chips or veggies.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Time to Vote

Meet Mr. Flamingo, the subject of today's vote.

Four months ago my husband told me that once I reached 100 GFC followers on this blog he'd take me to Build a Bear to make a stuffed flamingo. Well, it finally happened! The flamingo was only available online, so Brandon ordered one and requested that it come unstuffed so we could take it to the Build a Bear store and make a big deal about it. Geeky and unnecessary? Absolutely.

When we stopped in Raleigh on our way to Wilmington, we went by Build a Bear to stuff my lil flamingo. He is a pretty cute mascot for Flamingos in Raincoats if I do say so myself:

But he needs a name, so it's time to vote! Pick your favorite name and I'll stop collecting votes on Thursday evening. The names may or may not all be from my favorite television shows.


Monday, November 5, 2012

Taylor vs. Matt

Yes, I am one of the 1.21 MILLION people who bought Taylor Swift's latest album during its first week. Okay, maybe I went to Target on my lunch break and bought it on its release day. Whatever.

I will say before I continue this post that I am a genuine fan of Taylor. I think she's talented and entertaining and her songs are very catchy. More than that, I think she's adorable and humble and I kind of want her to be my best friend. I've listened to her new album a few times through and I think it's pretty good.

When the song All Too Well came on, a line from it instantly jumped out at me. Taylor sings "and I forget about you long enough to forget why I needed to." It sounded all too familiar, if you ask me. In fact, it sounded just like my very favorite line from my very favorite Matt Nathanson song.

In I Saw, Matt sings "and I'll forget about you long enough to forget why I need to." Is that straight plagiarism? I think yes. Was it intentional? I think no. Matt seems to find it funny, considering his recent tweet:

I want to know what you think! You're welcome to share your thoughts on Taylor's copycat lyrics, but I really just want to know which song you prefer. Neither of these are official videos, by the way. So listen to the songs and ignore the images!

Who will it be? Taylor or Matt?

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Weekend in Wilmington, NC

Last weekend Brandon and I visited Wilmington. We have never traveled to the coast together and I love Wilmington and wanted to share it with him! I booked our hotel almost 2 months in advance, so we had no way to predict that hurricane Sandy would make our trip quite rainy and windy. Luckily, Wilmington was safe from the storm, save for a little wind + rain.

Due to some changes in Brandon's work schedule, we actually started our weekend on Thursday night. We drove to Raleigh for the sole purpose of having dinner at The Pit. It's the fanciest bbq joint you'll ever go to. I nommed on bacon bruschetta, which I vow to replicate asap.

When we arrived in Wilmington on Friday afternoon, our front desk receptionist at the Courtyard Marriott told us not to blow away. Good forewarning.

We set out to explore downtown Wilmington before the rain came in. It's my favorite area of town- along the waterfront. We walked along the river, checked out some stores, and went to the lonely building where One Tree Hill was once filmed.

My favorite find while exploring downtown was a vase (pictured above) from an antique store within the City Market. I said "hey, this looks familiar!" I flipped it over to look at the bottom and sure enough- it's from Ikea. I have the exact same vase and used it at our wedding, in fact. It costs a whopping 79 cents. I feel bad for the poor soul who buys this one!

This blue building is my favorite in downtown. I've always wanted to eat on one of the little individual balconies. Maybe next time! We ate, instead, at The Little Dipper.

We've only ever had fondue at The Melting Pot, so I wasn't quite sure how this place would stack up. It was excellent! We thoroughly enjoyed each course, especially the havarti dill fondue!

The bad weather rolled in on Friday night, while we stayed warm and cozy in our hotel room watching New Years Eve. On Saturday we had to re-adjust our plans a bit, as the battleship was closed due to high winds. Instead, we set out for Wrightsville Beach and then the NC Aquarium.

Day #1 Hannah and day #2 Hannah.

You can't tell in the photos from the beach (save for a few water spots on the lens), but it was pouring rain. We had lunch at The Oceanic and I somehow convinced Brandon to walk down the sketchiest public beach access ever to get some photos of us by the sea. He wasn't a fan.

The aquarium was decorated for Halloween- and it was so much fun!

Brandon had a plan to surprise me with dinner at what I now know is a little French bistro on the water. They called mid-afternoon to tell him that they were closing due to unsafe conditions. Le sigh. Instead, we dined on tapas at Circa 1922. To avoid the rain yet again, we returned to the hotel and rented Ted.

On Sunday it was still very windy and overcast, but the rain stayed away! We grabbed brunch at The George before a final stop at the USS North Carolina.

Again we discovered more ill-placed Halloween decor.

My favorite part of the battleship was the "wishing well," where you could through coins (or cash!) down 35 ft. to try and hit the tin pan at the bottom. They clear it out every now and then and all of the money collected goes into future ship restoration!

After the battleship, we began our journey home. It was a wonderful weekend in Wilmington and I feel sure that we'll be back again! I could write more, but I already applaud you for scrolling this much! I think I'll stop for now. :)

Friday, November 2, 2012

RECIPE: Chicken Apple Meatballs

I have professed my love for Pinterest many times on this blog. Here's a recipe that I've had pinned for over 6 months and I finally got around to making recently. I think they'd be great as an appetizer at a holiday party.

olive oil
1 lb ground chicken
1 large granny smith apple, peeled & diced
1/4 medium sweet onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/4 c breadcrumbs
1 T honey
6 fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
3/4 t salt
3/4 t pepper + more to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and lightly oil a large baking sheet. Combine all of the rest of the ingredients in a large bowl and mix together until well combined. Using your hands, form the mixture into meatballs - about tablespoon sized. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until meatballs are lightly browned on the outside and cooked through on the inside. Crack additional pepper on top before serving.

These had a good flavor, but I think they'd pair really well with some sort of dipping sauce. Maybe that's just because I'm a big fan of sauces. If you make them, tell me what you think!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Thankful Thursday, an Introduction

I've been more than a little absent from the blog this week. Oops! Coming back from vacation (even a mini one!) is always difficult, but it's also been a very challenging week in general for me. I'm feeling sluggish and uninspired. Hope that changes soon!

I came up with an idea to keep me from feeling so mopey. Hopefully you'll like it! Today is November first (a Thursday). Allow me to introduce a series I'll be doing through Thanksgiving (a Thursday).

The upcoming holiday is a time to reflect on the things we're thankful for. As a blogger, I've always written the typical "thankful" post on Thanksgiving Day. And of course I've always blogged about all of the delicious food I make! But this year I want to do something more. Each Thursday, I'll be sharing something I'm thankful for... some petty and some serious. If you like this idea, feel free to join in and leave a comment so I can read your posts!

This Thursday I'm thankful for BLOGGING.

No matter what else is going on in my life or how many days I allow my blog to sit without a post, I always come back to it. It's better than a diary because 1) I don't have to hand write it, haha and 2) I've discovered an entire blogging community that I love!

I decided to start purchasing sponsor spots on other blogs at the beginning of this summer and that opened me up to interactions and eventual friendships with such a wonderful group of writers. I'm so thankful that I'm making friends in the blogging world and I can't wait to see where the next year takes me!