Monday, February 24, 2014

RECIPE: Caramelized Onion and Goat Cheese Bread

This recipe is a major throwback, because I made it for the first time over a year ago for our Valentine's Day dinner. I thought it was time to try it out again for the same meal this year. It's a little time consuming, but makes a delicious appetizer that is well-worth the effort!

1 loaf French bread baguette
1 T butter
1 medium sweet onion, halved and thinly sliced
1/2 t sugar
1 garlic clove, minced
10.5 oz log goat cheese
1/8 t salt
1/8 t pepper
1/2 c chopped pecans
1/2 c honey

Place pecans in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees 10-12 minutes until lightly toasted. Set aside.

Place butter in a medium skillet and melt over medium heat. Stir in onions and sugar. Cook, stirring often, until onions begin to caramelize (20-25 minutes). Add garlic and cook 2 more minutes. Remove from heat and let stand 30 minutes or until cooled.

In a food processor, combine goat cheese, onions, salt and pepper. Pulse until ingredients are well blended and smooth. Place bread on a baking sheet and cut in half lengthwise. Spread goat cheese mixture on each half of bread. Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes, or until edges begin to brown.

Cut into 1-inch slices, sprinkle with pecans and drizzle with honey. Serve warm.

Credit: Another great recipe from!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

52 Lists Project: The Ways in Which You Can Love Others

This is week number six of Moorea Seal's 52 Lists Project and the topic is one that is very important to me. Showing others kindness and love is a personal goal of mine each and every day. Sometimes it is challenging, but I continually strive to make conscious decisions to do nice things for others and show them love. Regrettably, I'm better at doing this for my friends than for my own family. That's something to work on for the future!

  • Be intentional in showing gratitude
  • Ask them questions instead of talking about me
  • Send snail mail
  • Apologize/admit when I'm wrong
  • Pray for them
  • Donate time, skill, or money
  • Be honest
  • Listen when a friend needs to talk
  • Celebrate accomplishments
  • Practice random acts of kindness
  • Be supportive. Always.
  • Offer my forgiveness
  • Trust more easily
  • Think before I speak
  • Say nice things more often

How do you show love for others? I don't think it needs to be in material gifts but should often reside in our actions and interactions.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

A Valentine for your Man

I cannot take credit for this idea, because I totally found it on Pinterest. Ah, Pinterest. The source of all inspiration. Here's the quick & dirty on an easy Valentine's Day gift for your man:

1. Buy a heart-shaped box of chocolates.
2. Eat them. Yum!
3. Go to your local liquor store and request 10-12 mini bottles of whiskey.
4. Fill the chocolate box with whiskey bottles.
5. Feel very proud of yourself when your husband/boyfriend/etc. opens it to discover something better than chocolate!

Brandon's reaction to the gift was exactly what I was expecting. I told him I ran out of time to get him a Valentine's Day gift and picked up some chocolates from the grocery store. He was stunned when he opened the box!

I think this is a great gift because it offers so many different varieties (and of course doesn't have to be limited to whiskey). Brandon has already found a new whiskey that he likes because of the gift! Ultimately, this gift was a great success. Plus, it scored me major wife points. ;)

Friday, February 14, 2014

RECIPE: Simple Snow Cream

Happy Valentine's Day! We had around 8 inches of snow this week: the most I've seen since I moved away from Boone! The first thing we did yesterday morning was make snow cream. Surprisingly, I never had snow cream until my college roommate made it. I was missing out all of those years! It's simple and easy to make... just make sure you have the ingredients on hand before it starts snowing because if you're like me, you won't be able to get out of your neighborhood to get to the store!

1 large bowl of fresh snow
1 1/4 c milk
1 c sugar
1 t vanilla extract

Try to remember to stick a large plastic mixing bowl outside as it's snowing. It makes collecting snow easier! If you forget, scoop fresh snow from a clean area. Fill the bowl until it's overflowing. Pour in milk and sugar and mix with an electric hand mixer on low until creamy. Add extra milk and sugar if necessary, depending on how much snow you have. Pour in vanilla extract and stir with a spoon. Serve immediately, before it begins to melt too much!

For a variation, add a few spoonfuls of hot cocoa mix for a chocolate snow cream! Enjoy!

Thursday, February 13, 2014

52 Lists Project: What You Are Grateful For

This week has my favorite 52 lists topic to date! I am grateful for so many things, only a few of which are on the list I made! We've had a bit of a snow storm here in North Carolina this week, so the first item on my list was definitely inspired by that!

Please don't say anything about my sad, sad drawing of North Carolina. I am ashamed. Terrible sketch aside, here's my list this week:

  • A house with electricity, running water, + heat
  • A husband who loves me
  • A job (that makes me happy!)
  • Good health
  • Family that cares
  • Best friends who make my world happier :)
  • My blog!
  • My education
  • Opportunities I've had to travel abroad
  • Living in the GREAT STATE OF N.C.
  • Random acts of kindness
  • Some of my traits: creativity, organization, thoughtfulness
  • Being able to take fun vacations
  • Nights I have to myself to binge watch tv

Saturday, February 8, 2014

RECIPE: Sweet Heat Chicken Bacon Bites

I found this recipe on The Sweet Season and decided to try it out myself shortly after. I made a few edits to the original recipe, which suggested coconut sugar (so expensive!). Brandon and I absolutely loved them and I've made them a couple of times already. We eat them as a meal, but I think they'd make a great party appetizer as well.

1 lb chicken tenders, cut into bite size pieces
9-10 slices of bacon, cut into thirds
Frank's red hot sauce
1 c sugar
dash: paprika, chili powder, salt, pepper
oil for frying

Wrap a piece of bacon around each piece of chicken and pierce with a toothpick. Douse chicken bacon bites with hot sauce. Combine sugar and seasonings in a bowl and toss hot sauce coated bites in the mixture. Heat oil in a large frying pan to medium-high heat. Fry bites for about 3 minutes on each side.

Transfer to a plate and serve warm.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Thoughts on Doing Your Best

Several of my friends and former co-workers are traveling to Miami today for a work event and a (small) part of me wishes I could be there with them! In thinking back to last year when I went to this event, I recognize a recurring theme that kept me going there and has stayed with me in other pursuits as well.

Last year in Miami I worked harder than I ever had in my entire life. Every night I returned to my hotel room completely exhausted. Every morning I was up early, ready to go non-stop. I was so incredibly proud of the work that I did each day. I enjoyed seeing all of our behind the scenes hard work come to fruition. I was tired when I came home, but felt motivated, excited, and ready to grow into a new job role.
I knew I had done my best.

Six months later I worked the same event in a different location. I worked tirelessly, was a leader for my team, and added so many new items to my list of responsibilities. I cried every day, mostly out of frustration, once because someone told me I was doing a terrible job and didn't deserve to hold the position I did. I was tired when it was over and I came home feeling utterly defeated. But at the end of the day,  
I knew I had done my best.


I think there is something extremely honorable about doing your best and working your hardest even when there's no one around to say "way to go" or "thank you so much" or "I value you." If you strive to do your best under any circumstances, others will take note. It may take some time, it may not always be apparent, but it will make a difference in the long run. My work ethic is something I am very proud of and I didn't meet the opportunities I have been blessed with because I got fed up, had a bad attitude, or shirked my responsibilities when things got rough.

Always do your best. Period. And if nobody is going to appreciate you for it - appreciate yourself. Doing your best is something that you, and only you, can control.

"Being forced to work, and forced to do your best, will breed in you temperance and self-control, diligence and strength of will, cheerfulness and content, and a hundred virtues which the idle will never know." - Charles Kingsley