Sunday, March 30, 2014

52 Lists Project: Your Favorite Albums

This is the best 52 Lists topic I've seen so far! While we're definitely more than eight weeks into 2014, I'm following along with Moorea Seal's pace. Listing my favorite albums was easy, save for trying to pick just one from Coldplay. I had to go with two. ;)

  • BABEL Mumford & Sons
  • I AND LOVE AND YOU The Avett Brothers
  • THE HEIST Macklemore & Ryan Lewis
  • MAMMA MIA! The Soundtrack
  • SOME NIGHTS fun.
  • EVERYTHING IN TRANSIT Jack's Mannequin
  • CHASE THIS LIGHT Jimmy Eat World
  • OCEAN EYES Owl City
  • X & Y Coldplay
These aren't really in order of importance, but I'm pretty sure that Babel is my favorite album of all time. I hope Mumford & Sons' hiatus doesn't last forever. I need to see these guys in concert!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

RECIPE: Buffalo Chicken Grilled Cheese

I'm home sick today with a nasty cold, which developed when I went to the mountains to visit a friend over the weekend. My last cold was the last time I went to the mountains. A theme, perhaps? I hope not! It's cold and icy outside, so I'm staying cozy inside. If I had my pick of comfort foods to make me feel better, this grilled cheese would be it. I don't have any of the ingredients on hand right now, but you should go out and buy them so you can understand the magnitude of how much I love this sandwich.

I originally found the idea here, when I was searching for ideas for a grilled cheese party that my friends and I had a few weeks ago. Grilled cheese parties are the best kind of party, if you're wondering. You should have one yourself.

Butter or margarine
2 slices sourdough bread
3 T cream cheese
1/2 c cooked, shredded chicken
2 T crumbled blue cheese
1 T shredded cheddar blend
Frank's red hot sauce

Combine shredded chicken with Frank's red hot sauce, to taste. Heat in microwave until warm. Spread cream cheese on a slice of bread. Top with chicken. Top with blue cheese crumbles, then shredded cheddar. Place second slice of bread on top.

Heat desired amount of butter or margarine in a medium skillet on medium-high heat. Place sandwich in the middle of the skillet and cook, flipping once, until browned on both sides - two(ish) minutes. Serve warm & gooey.

I know there's not really an exact science to grilled cheese, so do what works for you. The original recipe suggests combining all cheese into a spread, where I layered mine individually. I also didn't measure any of my cheese. The amounts I listed above are guesses. Some people (me!) butter their bread before putting it into the skillet. I also used canned chicken and it turned out just fine. YUM!

Thursday, March 6, 2014

March Essentials

I'm so sad that I forgot to do my February Essentials post. There goes my perfect 2014 record! I'm picking back up with my essentials for March. This time around, I included some items that I desperately want but don't already have. I'm also already dreaming of spring, despite the fact that as I write this it's pouring freezing rain outside. Will winter ever end?


1 // I have developed a serious obsession with Bruegger's Bagels. Once a week I treat myself to breakfast on the way to work and an asiago parmesan bagel with bacon scallion cream cheese is my favorite. 

2 // This sweater from Lauren Conrad is on my wish list. I'm waiting for it to go on sale just a little more! I tried it on in the store last weekend and it's the perfect lightweight spring sweater. Ahh, I have to have it.

3 // Essie's come here! is the perfect spring color. I feel silly wearing it when it's still freezing outside, so I'll wait another week or two on this one.

4 // Can someone just go ahead and buy me a pair of perfect pink Hunter boots already? Thanks.

5 // Season 2 of Bates Motel started this week! Brandon and I loved how twisted and strange the first season was and I can tell we're already in for another wild ride. Check it out!

What are your March essentials?

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

RECIPE: Macaroni & Cheese

I've been on the hunt for 'the perfect' macaroni & cheese for quite some time now. Don't get me wrong, though. When I was a kid, Velveeta Shells & Cheese was my absolutely favorite food for a long time. But I think there's something to be said about a really, really good homemade macaroni & cheese. I first checked Pinterest for the perfect recipe, but was sadly (and shockingly!) disappointed.

When I asked my Facebook friends for suggestions, a friend of mine from grad school gave me the perfect recipe. It's basically an enhanced version of this Land O'Lakes recipe. And I love it! It's the perfect side dish, although I'm pretty sure I could eat it as my entire meal.

MACARONI & CHEESE (serves 12)
1 lb elbow macaroni
1 stick + 3 T butter
3.5 T flour
1 quart half & half
4 T dijon mustard
8 oz cream cheese, cubed
2 c shredded cheese (I used sharp cheddar, mozzarella, pepper jack, and colby jack)
1 t salt
pinch each cayenne pepper, garlic salt, nutmeg
1 c Italian style breadcrumbs
2 T fresh parsley

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Cook pasta according to package directions and drain. While pasta is cooking, melt 1 stick butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir in flour. Cook for a minute, until bubbly. Add half & half, dijon mustard, salt, and other seasonings. Add in cream cheese and shredded cheese a little at a time. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, for 3-5 minutes until sauce is thickened.

Stir cooked pasta into cheese sauce, then pour into a large glass casserole dish. Melt remaining butter in a small bowl. Add breadcrumbs and parsley and stir to combine. Spread evenly over macaroni & cheese. Bake for 25 minutes until golden brown.

**The real trick here is to combine many different types of shredded cheese. You can't go wrong with a good mix!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

52 Lists Project: Things That Make You Feel Healthy

I'll be the first to admit that I don't have a very healthy lifestyle, so when I saw this week's prompt for the 52 lists project I was a little worried. Uh, what would I write? Drinking a TON of water every day is literally the only healthy habit I have that I can name off the top of my head. Have you seen some of the recipes I share? Come on!

Then I looked a bit closer and noticed the words mind, body, & soul tacked on to the end. Okay, I feel better now. On to the (still very short) list:

  • Getting enough sleep!!!
  • Being organized
  • Having a smoothie for lunch
  • Warm, sunny days
  • Walks with Schmidt
  • Bubble baths
  • Drinking lots & lots of water
  • Vacations/weekend getaways
  • Hiking
I didn't get enough sleep the last week and it really showed in my work performance, energy, and general attitude. I feel a million times better when I get enough sleep at night. It's important, folks! A question to leave you with: Do you think that feeling healthy in your mind, in your body, or in your soul is the most important? I'm inclined to say soul.