Friday, January 31, 2014

RECIPE: Mini Apple Pies

Something BIG is happening today! It's the first day of Our State's Pie vs. Cake competition! It's a well-known fact that I love North Carolina and I have loved reading Our State since I was in high school! Today is the start of their campaign to determine once and for all if North Carolina is a PIE state or a CAKE state. They even have an official bracket!

In honor of this momentous occasion, I am sharing a simple recipe for mini apple pies. I made them for dessert one day earlier this week and my only regret was that I didn't think to have any vanilla bean ice cream to serve alongside them.

MINI APPLE PIES (makes 12)
3-4 apples, any variety
6 T flour
3/4 c sugar
2 t cinnamon
1/4 t nutmeg
3 T butter
1 box pie crust (2 crusts)

Peel apples and cut into small bite-size cubes (you need around 4 cups). In a mixing bowl, combine apples, flour, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Unroll your pie crusts and use the wide mouth of a cup to cut out 12 large circles.

Grease a muffin tin and line each cup with a pie crust circle. Place a couple of spoonfuls of apple mixture in each cup. Fill until slightly mounded. Divide 2 T butter into 12 equal parts and place each piece on top of your apple mixture. Cover with leftover dough. (I made tiny circles with the remaining dough and used them to cover the pies.)

Brush tops of pies with melted butter and bake at 400 for 20-25 minutes. Fun fact: I completely forgot to take mine out of the oven and left them in for a good half hour. Oops! They still looked and tasted great!

Credit: This recipe came from Little Bit Funky.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

52 Lists Project: Current & Future Goals & Dreams

This is week four of the 52 Lists project and I'm looking at my goals & dreams. My list was on the short side again this week, especially compared to Moorea's original one! Oh well. To tell the truth, I wasn't feeling super inspired this week. Hopefully that will change before my next list! I figure as long as I'm writing, I'm doing alright. :)

This list includes everything from planning valentines for my friends to becoming a homeowner. My aspirations are far and wide!

  • Find an affordable house to rent (wood floors + dining room!!!)
  • Be TRULY TRULY happy
  • Write my thesis for grad school
  • Become a better blogger (whatever that is?)
  • Train my dog not to be a pain
  • Do something nice for my friends for Valentine's Day
  • Buy nicer clothes for work

  • Become a homeowner
  • Visit Europe for my 30th birthday
  • See Mumford & Sons in concert
  • Have a really cool business card
  • Make $$$ blogging
  • Learn to use my DSLR camera a bit better
  • Take a road trip of the United States

If you want to participate in this project, it's not too late! There are still 11 months between now and 2015. Check it out here.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

RECIPE: New Year's Punch

I made this punch on New Year's Eve, to go with our pre-dinner appetizers. Because of its pink color, I think it would be sweet to serve for Valentine's Day or a bridal shower as well. The ingredients are simple and we polished off the entire pitcher in an embarrassingly short amount of time! The original recipe says it serves 8, but I'm not buying that. ;)

1 bottle chilled champagne
1 c pear nectar
1 c cranberry juice cocktail
1/2 c peach schnapps

Mix ingredients together in a glass pitcher, pour over ice, and serve.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

52 Lists Project: Things You Should Be Proud Of

I have to say, I struggled with this week's list. I wrote three things, then added a fourth. Then finally added a fifth and a sixth. But it was hard and I'm not sure why! I think we're conditioned not to be too proud or boastful and therefore it's a challenge for me to list things I'm proud of. Is it considered showing off to have pride in yourself? I suppose the point of this list project is to challenge me, so I'll remain in thought over this particular list for a while.

Here's what you see in the above photo:

  • How much I care about my family (even when they think I don't)
  • My sweet cooking skills
  • Finishing college (it was a struggle!)
  • Managing a social media team for a large company @ age 24
  • My thoughtfulness
  • Being independent!

What would you put on your list for this week?

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Bride to Be Gift Basket

My best friend got engaged on New Years Eve and I've been jumping for joy ever since! I can't wait to spend the next several months helping her plan her dream wedding! I wanted to give her something special to kick off the wedding planning process and thought a cute gift basket would be a thoughtful gift.

I wanted to include some practical things along with some fun items. What did I choose?

  • Southern Weddings magazine
  • Rifle Paper Co. notebook
  • List of my favorite wedding blogs
  • Two cds with some of my favorite love songs
  • Chocolate (for stressful moments)
  • Pearl wedding cake vodka (for serious stressful moments)
  • A pen
  • A candle ("champagne toast" scent)
  • A special note :)

What else would you add to make the perfect bride to be gift basket?

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

RECIPE: Pumpkin Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Have you ever done something really stupid in the kitchen? Don't answer that. I know you have. I did something really stupid when I made these cupcakes. It was the Saturday after Thanksgiving and I was making a feast for two. Our fridge was already stuffed with leftovers from our Thanksgiving meals with our families and with the additional leftovers from our private meal, I was running ran out of room!

I made all 24 cupcakes and planned to take them to work with me on Monday to give my co-workers. Because they were already frosted, I knew they needed to be kept cool until then. So what did I do with a full fridge? I put the cupcakes in the garage. Theoretically it makes sense, because it was cold outside and the garage was very cold and the cupcakes were in an airtight container. We don't keep a vehicle in our garage, so there aren't any icky fumes. But then I forgot them on Monday. And on Tuesday. And on Wednesday. And for a month. That's right. When I was putting away Christmas decorations I noticed my cupcake carrier, holding 20 very unappetizing cupcakes. Moral of the story: Don't bake delicious cupcakes and forget them. What a sad, sad waste.

1/4 c butter, softened
3/4 c unsweetened applesauce
1 c sugar
3/4 c brown sugar, firmly packed
2 eggs
3/4 c milk
1 T lemon juice
15 oz. can pumpkin
2.5 c flour
1 T pumpkin pie spice
1 t ground cinnamon
1.5 t baking powder
3/4 t salt
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t ground ginger

8 oz cream cheese
1/4 c butter, softened
4 c powdered sugar
1 t vanilla extract
2 t ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and place cupcake liners into pans. Spray liners lightly with nonstick cooking spray (very important!). In a large mixing bowl, add butter, applesauce, sugars, and eggs. Beat on medium speed until well combined. In a liquid measuring cup, combine milk and lemon juice and set aside. In a medium bowl, combine remaining dry ingredients. While beating on medium speed, slowly alternate adding dry ingredients and milk mixture to larger mixing bowl.

Once all ingredients are combined, divide between cupcake pans and bake for 24 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the middle of a cupcake comes out clean.

While cupcakes are cooking, combine all frosting ingredients except for powdered sugar in a bowl. Begin beating on medium speed as you add the powdered sugar a little at a time. Increase speed until frosting forms. Frost after cupcakes have cooled completely.

Credit: I found this great recipe from Dulce Delicious.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

52 Lists Project: Your Greatest Comforts

What did you think of week #1 of the 52 lists project? Week two is all about comfort and I made a semi-short list which could have been much, much longer! In the time since I wrote it this afternoon I already thought of other things I could have added! I think I need to work on my handwriting before next week...

  • Warm blankets
  • Cheese (yes I'm serious)
  • My dog
  • Also, my husband
  • Listening to my favorite music
  • Traveling to new places
  • Celebrations (of any kind)
  • Date night @ The Melting Pot
  • Getting enough sleep @ night
  • Being engrossed in a new tv show
  • Wake Forest Lovefeast
  • Feeling organized
  • Singing alone in my car
  • My best friends
  • Wearing my pajamas
  • *Alone time
  • Cooking

An important note to make: I put an asterisk beside "alone time" because I truly value the time I have alone to reflect and recharge. Anyone else feel that way?

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

RECIPE: Buffalo Chicken Fettuccine

Don't you just love the recipes that come easily to you? Take this one, for example. My friend Courtney posted it straight to my Facebook profile and demanded that I make it. Easy, right? Courtney and I are both big fans of buffalo chicken and this recipe does not disappoint if it's a flavor that you love, too. The original recipes comes from Fifteen Spatulas and I only changed one thing - I added blue cheese. Adding cheese is always a good thing to do, in my opinion.

2 T butter
2 T flour
1 c milk
1/2 c hot sauce (I use Frank's Original)
1 t worcestershire
1.5 lb uncooked chicken breasts, diced
1 lb fettuccine noodles
2 c cherry tomatoes, halved
salt and pepper
chopped fresh parsley
blue cheese crumbles

In a large skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add flour and whisk together until a blonde paste forms. Whisk constantly while adding milk. Turn temperature up to medium-high. Continue to whisk for a few minutes until the mixture thickens. Add hot sauce, worcestershire, and chicken. Reduce heat to simmer and allow chicken to cook for 15 minutes.

While chicken cooks, cook fettuccine noodles according to package. Drain, then add cooked noodles to the fettuccine sauce and chicken. Throw in cherry tomatoes and desired amount of blue cheese crumbles and mix together. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with a little sprinkled parsley on top.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

52 Lists Project: Words That Touch Your Soul

I try to keep up with the blogs I follow every single day. Some days I do better than others. ;) Recently, I clicked a 'regular' blog I follow, then found another, then found another, then another... Before I knew it, I was on a completely new blog discovering this incredible series that I can't wait to participate in this year. Moorea Seal introduced me to the 52 Lists Project. Each week in 2014, I'll make a list from her prompt and save them all up to review at the end of the year. I think it's a great project to ensure I'm taking time for myself this year and really reflecting on my thoughts, opinions, and actions.

I'm posting my week #1 at the very end of the first full week of 2014! In one week I've celebrated the New Year at the Melting Pot, my best friend got engaged (!), I worked my last few days at my old job, I started a new job, I got a manicure (thanks to a sweet gift from my friend Courtney), and I changed filters on Instagram (it's kind of an inside joke, but this is a big deal!).

Moorea's list for this week is Words That Touch Your Soul. It's such a simple start to a year of lists, but I really love it. I took a few minutes during my lunch break today to just write the words that jumped into my mind. Some were obvious (organize), while others surprised me (deviate). If you're interested in following along with the series, find more information here.

  • Love
  • Education
  • Inspire
  • Gold
  • Sleep
  • Family
  • Spring
  • Salem
  • Friends
  • Organize
  • Try
  • Appetite
  • Wanderlust
  • Explore
  • Do
  • Be
  • Knowledge
  • Satisfy
  • Deviate
  • Plan
  • Perfect
  • Hope
  • Dogwood
  • Belong
  • Inherit
  • Faith
  • Warmth
  • Accept
  • Strive
  • Good

Fun fact: my new office has lots of old yearbooks on the bookcase, dating back to the early 1900's. I placed my sheet on top of my mom's senior yearbook for this photo!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

January Essentials

January is going to be a fun month for me. I'm starting a new job tomorrow, there are two family birthdays to celebrate, and maybe, just maybe, we'll finally see some snow here in Greensboro. For the start of a new year, I created a new essentials board on Polyvore. Here's what I've gotta have this month!


1 // A new year calls for a new planner! This year, I have two: one for my blog and one for the rest of my life. So far I haven't written anything in either one. Oh dear, I'm behind already.

2 // I love the idea of keeping fresh flowers in my new office! We'll see how long I keep it up. :)

3 // I mentioned in my goals post that I want to read at least 5 books this year. I started this book by Mindy Kaling last May, picked it up again in September, and still haven't finished it. I vow to finish it before the end of the month.

4 // Lorde's Pure Heroine is going to keep me company on my commute to work. I'm so impressed that she's only 17 years old!

5 // Winter calls for scarves and mittens and hats to keep me warm. Infinity scarves are my favorite.

What are your essentials this month?

Thursday, January 2, 2014

2014 Goals

I'm not a resolutions kind of girl. They seem too serious and binding, not flexible... guaranteed to set yourself up for disappointment. I much prefer goals. Goals are adaptable, flexible, and seem more attainable to me. I'm sure other feel exactly the opposite! I've spent a lot of time thinking about my goals for 2014. Some are serious, some are fun, some are extremely challenging, while others I feel I'll reach quickly! Let's review them, shall we?

+ Visit at least 10 new towns!
I love traveling and going on adventures. This year, I'd like to visit at least 10 new towns. If I don't have the opportunity to go far, far away I know there are many places to explore right here in North Carolina!

+Establish my own professional website and online portfolio and take some freelance blogging or social media jobs.
I'm working on this one already! This year I'd like to take on some side projects that allow me to blog or help brands realize how powerful social media is. To do so, I want a website to match!

+Make healthier choices.
I started this one with taking a daily multivitamin. Baby steps, people! I'd also like to get into the habit of packing a lunch for myself every workday. I already plan dinners each week, so I want to add lunches to my list, too. And lastly- I'm switching from yogurt with M&M's to fruit yogurt. It's a struggle. ;)

+Dedicate more time to things I love.
I spent a lot of 2013 stressed out and not doing stuff that made me happy. I stopped blogging for a month! I want to enjoy my blog (and other things!) this year.

+Finish my graduate thesis.
Guess what guys, you can't get a Master's degree without submitting your thesis. That's definitely going to happen this year.

+Find a nice place to live in a new town and learn about the local culture.
Brandon and I are moving back to my hometown this year (only 40 minutes away from where we currently live). I'm excited to live in a new place. We're moving by the end of May and our summer will definitely be spent exploring.

+Take a fun vacation and not be disappointed when it's not to Disney World.
I'm thinking about Williamsburg, VA for our two year anniversary. :)

+Be a good friend.
I want to send more snail mail, do more thoughtful things for my friends, and spend quality time together! Also, five of my friends (so far!) are planning weddings this year. It's going to be a fun 2014!

+Be a better wife.
2013 was all about Hannah, let's be honest. I had a lot of struggles and Brandon was supportive through all of them. It's time to focus on the things that are important to him.

+Read at least 5 books for fun.
I know 5 isn't a lot, but it's a lot more than the 0 I've read in the last two years. I'm starting with Is Everyone Hanging out Without Me? (started this on our cruise over 6 months ago and never finished it) and this book I got from a friend for Christmas.

Those are 10 goals, but I'm sure I'll come up with new ones as the year progresses. What are you hoping to accomplish this year?