Friday, November 30, 2012

Party Food!

Today's topic over at Kelly's Corner is... Appetizers! In my little circle of friends, we have quite the selection of appetizer dishes.

What can I say? We are nothing if not good partiers. Whether it's a football party, baby shower, Bunco, or just a random Saturday night-we can throw down when it comes to the appetizer course. Here are a couple of my go-to favorites:

Ice Bucket Chicken
1 can of white chicken
1 ranch packet
1 block of cream cheese

Directions: Mix all ingredients together. Chill or not - it's delish either way! We typically eat with Wheat Thins or Ritz Crackers.

***Some people call this by another name, but we call it Ice Bucket Chicken because one night we were having a Girl's Night Out (can't remember if it was the Battlehouse or somewhere in New Orleans) and we were back in the hotel room after a fun night on the town. We had brought every snack option available, as usual, but no one remembered to bring any sort of mixing bowl. So...being the classy, inventive types that we are, someone decided the hotel ice bucket would work just fine. Hence--Ice Bucket Chicken.

Asparagus Spears
1 Asparagus Bundle
1 Block of Cream Cheese
Bacon Bits
a handful of chives
1 loaf of white bread
Parmesan cheese

Directions: Wash and break the rough ends off the asparagus. Make a mixture using the bacon bits, cream cheese, and chives. Cut the crust off each piece of bread and flatten it out with a rolling pin. Or a glass if you're ghetto fabulous like me. Spread the cream cheese mixture on each piece of bread, then add 2-3 pieces of asparagus, and roll it into a little bundle. Sprinkle the top of each bundle with some parmesan cheese and a little dirzzle of olive oil. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 for 20 minutes. OMG-slap yo mama AND kick the dog good!

Disclaimer-These are more than a little tedious to make. And it usually makes quite a mess. But the results are delish, and even a little fancy so it will impress your guests!

Here are some other favorites that always seem to make an appearance at one of our parties:
7 Layer Mexican Dip
Hot Bacon & Swiss Dip
Artichoke Dip - One cup mayo, one cup parmesan cheese, one can of diced up artichokes. Mix it all up, top with paprika and bake at 350 for 20 minutes. H loves this one!

Hope you enjoy! There is nothing better than good food and good friends!

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Thanksgiving 2012

Thanksgiving has once again come and gone, and I'm still sitting here asking myself "what happened to 2012?!?!" The Christmas Season is officially upon us, although I've been pretending not to notice the red and green aisles at WalMart for about a month  now.

Geez, Santa! Give me a chance to take down my spiderwebs and jack o'lanterns before making me put up my Christmas tree!

So anywhoo....I'm sure you're on pins and needles waiting to hear about what we did over the Thanksgiving break! (Total sarcasm, by the way, in case you didn't catch it)

H had to work Wednesday and Thursday night, so he wasn't around for the celebrations. Charlotte and I got up early to pick up H's Nana and head to Dauphin Island for our Turkey Day Festivities. My mom asked me if I was bringin anything and I said, "Yep! The grandbaby and the granddaughter-that's enough!"

And I was only half kidding. Anyone who has ever been in a car with a 1 1/2 year old for over an hour knows what I'm talking about. It's about as much fun as a fart in a phone booth.

We went to my in-law's house on the island and had a nice afternoon. The weather was just as beautiful as the scenery, and the food was delish. We had fried turkey and some ham and a plethora of casseroles. I'm serious, we had nothing but casseroles-spinach, corn, sweet potato, pineapple, and dressing. It was all very good, but can't a girl get some fresh peas or just plain veggies!?!?!

As a matter of fact, she can, but only if she drives her entire family (Lab included) 3 hours to the east and eats at her Granny's! Don't get me wrong, Dauphin Island is nice, but NO PLACE holds a candle to my Granny and PawPaw's house. And there is nothing like her cooking, either. Dumplings, peas, creamed corn, sweet potatoes, homemade is nothing short of miracle. Every. Single. Time.

On Friday evening, H and I borrowed my grandparent's Gator and rode dirt roads. I may love me some expensive purses and a nice hotel, but my heart is in the woods. To be more specific, on a dirt road in the woods. I love being able to see a million stars and hear a whipporwill in a pine. There are no sounds that don't come from nature, and it's a glorious thing. I just don't understand how a person can see all of the beauty in nature and question God's existence. I feel closer to God outside than I probably ever will in a church. (No offense to churches)

We also went to see my Me-Mama in the nursing home, where I happily avoided the Auburn-AL game. There's no need to talk about that here. On Saturday night H and I went to a little get-together at one of my dear friend's and ex-roommate's house. It's fun to catch up on the latest gossip while eating raw oysters and laughing my arse off around a bonfire. I've got some mighty good friends, let me tell ya.

Sunday we made the long trip back to Mobile and got stuff ready for the week ahead. Which for me meant laundry and cleaning, and for H meant watching the Saints and the baby. No matter how nice it is to get away, it's always nice to get back home, too.

Overall, it was a wonderful little holiday! I'm so very thankful for all the blessings in my life.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Side Dishes

There have been quite a few random posts from me lately! I've ranged from talking about Halloween, to election coverage, and now to recipes. I will blame today's topic on Kelly over this site.  It's another issue of "Show Us Your Life" and this is one where I can definitely bring something to the table.

Pun intended.

I like to cook, but I always feel like we have the same things over and over again. I know we aren't the only household that goes through this, and I'm always looking for something a little different to throw in the mix. Although I must admit the appetizer course is my real forte, my side dishes ain't too shabby either. My goal is to stay somewhat healthy, but keep it simple and quick with fresh ingredients. Of course we do have canned veggies and the occasional box of mac'n cheese, but I try my best to keep it fresh. Here are a couple of my go-to faves that are quick, easy, and delicious.

Steamed Artichokes

Whole Artichokes
Drawn Butter for dipping

This is the easiest recipe of all time. Put about 3 inches of lightly salted water in a pot. Get one whole artichoke per person and slice off the bottom stem so it will sit flat. Put the artichokes in the pot of  water, cover, and boil/steam for about 30 minutes. Once they are done, you simply pull the leaves off one-by-one and eat them kind of like a crab claw (bite, drag, and pull method). I like to dip each leaf in the drawn butter, which I spice up with a little seasoning. Yummy and very pretty-youre friends will be impressed cause they look so fancy! These go really well with grilled meats-especially steaks!

Sauteed Green Beans
Whole, fresh green beans
Olive Oil & Butter
Garlic Cloves

I buy the whole, fresh green beans instead of canned ones. (Farmers Plug - Buy fresh and local!) Rinse and then snap the ends off each bean. I get some chopped garlic cloves going in some olive oil and little bit of butter, then I throw in my green beans. I let them cook on low for probably 20-30 minutes or until they are al dente. You can of course cook them until they are soft, but I like mine with a little bit of crunch. Right at the end I like to sprinkle some parmesan cheese lightly over the top of the beans. They are still warm and when the parmesan mixes with the garlice and oil....well let's just say angels have been heard singing the Heavenly chorus.

(Although that might also be the whir from the flourescent light I still have in my kitchen. I drink wine while I cook sometimes and it's hard to tell the difference.)

Last but not least on my list of side dishes....Cajun Taters!

There is no picture because these look different every time I cook them. And the recipe also changes, too, if that helps you at all. Basically this is one of those go-to side dishes that can be as fancy or as plain as you want it to be. Which is part of the beauty of the dish!

Cajun Taters
Diced raw potatoes (I prefer Russet because they hold up well and don't mush up)
Salt & pepper
Olive Oil
Slap Yo Momma or Tony Chachere's (cajun-esque spices for ya'll Yankees)

Drizzle some olive oil on a flat baking sheet. In a bowl, drizzle some olive oil on the diced potatoes and then season with salt, pepper, and SYM. You can also add any other type of seasonings you have on hand. Trust me, it only makes them better. I have added sauteed onions, garlic and bell peppers to the mix as well. Spread the taters on the baking sheet and bake in a preheated oven at 400 for approximately 20-30 minutes. I like to stir them around a few times during the cooking process so they bake evenly. Sometimes I add more spices or small bits of butter. These potatoes go really well with hamburgers, and it's a nice, somewhat healthier option than the typical deep-fried french fry.

Hope ya'll enjoy!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Politics As Usual

I have somehow managed to keep my political rants and tirades off The Facebooks. I'm somewhat amazed at that little fact. I guess seeing everyone else's rants and tirades makes me want to slit my wrists with a rusty butterknife, so I've spared everyone the chore of having to scroll past my opinions.

But, this is MY blog, and I feel like most of you (hopefully) check in here occasionally to see if I have some sort of funny revelation, story, or happenings pertaining to absolutely nothing of much importance. And since most of you are here by choice, I don't feel quite so badly about ranting and tirading.

No, I'm not happy with the main outcome of the election. But, at the same time, I don't believe ONE LITTLE BIT that the country is now going to hell in a handbasket. This country is what we make it, and as long as there are people out there willing to work hard and help a neighbor, I think we're gonna be alright. And honestly, I don't really know if my candidate could have done any better. These are difficult, complicated times we are in and everybody can play Monday Morning Quarterback all they want, but the bottom line is that there is no way to know what will and won't work until we try it.

In the end, I think Obama has done some good things. But I also think he should be doing more. Instead of bashing our leader and joining the arguments that are dividing our nation, I'm choosing to be positive and trusting in my own strengths to carry me through the next four years. And the next fifty, for that matter. I refuse to give up on the greatest country in the world. I refuse to believe life as we know it is over. I refuse to let go of my pride and get in line.

I will say this, and it would no doubt anger quite a few folks:

Since when did EVERYONE I know become so damn interested in politics?!?! I bet the majority of the people I see spewing left- and right-wing agenda crap don't know diddly squat about the political scene in this country. I want to call each of them up and ask the following questions:

1.) Can you name more than two of the articles in the Bill of Rights?
2.) Do you know the names of our VP and Secretary of State?
3.) Can you explain Romney's 5 Point Plan?
4.) Can you explain the electoral college vote?

I don't have to ask. I know the answer. And please don't misunderstand me because I'm not claiming everyone should know everything there is to know about politicals. I sure as heck don't. It's too murky and twisted and devious for any half-way decent person to fully grasp.

I guess I'm just saying please, please, please don't base your thoughts and opinions on what a friend on Facebook says or posts. Go out, do your own research (from multiple sources, I might add) and discover your OWN opinion. Newsflash: Everyone has their own agenda. And not everything you read and see on the internet is real.

Onward and upward (hopefully), free cell phone and all,

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Thankful Version 2.0

Change of plans! I've learned it's physically impossible for me to blog every single day of the month. As much as I wish I could, it just ain't happening.

So I changed up the plan, and I think my NEW plan is even better!

H and I are making a list at home. Every day we are each writing something we are thankful for. I promised him it didn't have to be sappy or corny; he could be totally honest, even if he was only thankful for Bud Light or high-definition TV.

My goal is that at the end of the month we can sit down together and look back at all of the things we are thankful for. You see, sometimes we get angry and say mean things to each other in the heat of an argument. Sometimes I wish he would take out the trash without being reminded. I know he wishes I would never cook spaghetti again. But I'm hoping that when we get frustrated with each other, we can look back at this list and remind ourselves of all the good in our life and in each other.

'Cause sometimes we both need to be reminded.

And in the end, as long as there isn't anything x-rated on H's list, I will post them on my blog. :)  I'm not making any promises, but I'm pretty sure it will be more funny than sappy!

And on another note:

Please vote! Cell phones, healthcare, and name-brand groceries are not a right, but voting is! Whether you are a Democrat, Republican, Liberal, Conservative, or Purple People Eater--exercise your right to vote because a LOT of people before us have sacrificed their lives to ensure we have this freedom. And as one of my besties, Lindsey, said, "You're not allowed to bitch about the outcome if you don't vote!"

Friday, November 2, 2012

Thankful Day 2

This is Day 2 of my vow to blog every single day in November and say one thing I'm thankful for. I really try to be thankful at all times, not just in the month of the November. But, I feel like this is a good time to actually write it down and remind myself of all the blessings in life.

I'm not going to be one of those gals who claim life is rainbows and unicorns all the time. That ain't my style, and despite the status updates I see on Facebook, I'm convinced nobody else's life is perfect 100% of the time. Sometimes my job sucks. Sometimes I can't stand my husband/mother/boss/friend/child for one more second. Sometimes I dream about running away to an island where no one knows my name, no one expects me to do laundry, and everyone knows my favorite drink should be served in a coconut.

Everybody has bad days, and everybody gets a little frustrated sometimes. The point is this: Even in those times, I strive to be thankful. You have to have the bad days to really appreciate those good ones. And the good ones always outnumber the bad ones.

So with that being said, today I am thankful for a healthy family. H, Charlotte, and my parents are the most important people in my life, and they are all chugging along just fine. Except for the occasional runny nose or runny butt, we are in fine form. I don't think I'm a strong enough person to handle a major illness or health crisis, and Lord knows my household couldn't function without me so I HAVE to stay healthy!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Halloween 2012

After close to $100 worth of candy, a good 8 1/2 minutes of decorating, and at least one bottle of cheap wine...we survived another Halloween in Midtown Mobile! Yippee!

Halloween is awesome. I've always loved Halloween, even during my pitiful childhood Halloweens, which can be read about here. Halloween in Midtown is really special because there are literally hundreds of kids trick-or-treating up and down the streets. We even put up barricades on either end of our street so no traffic can come through, complete with police officers to keep an eye on things. It's great!

In case you were wondering, Charlotte was a bumble bee. And she was the cutest bee on the block!

And because everyone needs to see the wings...

Since we have so many kids trick-or-treating in our neighborhood, I have a few rules for candy distribution:

1.) No costume, no candy! - If you can't put forth the effot to wear a costume, why should I fork over my candy (that required quite a bit of effort to buy) to you? I realize that some people might not have a lot of extra money to spend on Halloween, which is totally understandable. It's not like I'm checking labels for Pottery Barn costumes! But anyone with a bit of creativity can make a costume out of things just lying around the house so don't come at me with those excuses.

2.) One stop per house! - Don't be a greedy gut, kids (or parents, for that matter)! One stop per house is going to result in plenty of candy to fill that Walmart sack. If I recognize the same kid from earlier in the night, I will straight up deny the goods.

3.) Teens are allowed, but only with a costume! - I turned away quite a few teenagers last night with no costumes. I don't have a problem with teens going trick-or-treating, but only if they suffer through the humiliation of wearing a costume. And I don't buy those "I'm a student!" excuses, either.

4.) Better costumes deserve better candy. - It's never too early for a child to learn that hard work pays off. A better-executed or more creative costume deserves a mini Snickers or Twix. Simply throwing your Winn-Dixie apron on over your jeans and T-shirt and calling yourself a cashier does not warrant the good stuff in my book. Thankfully I had plenty of Smarties and Dum-Dums to go around.

5.) Good manners = Extra Candy! - If a child is super polite and waits their turn, I ALWAYS give them more. Again, it's never too early to learn that good manners and a smile will get you much more in life!

I hope you had a wonderful and safe Halloween in your neighborhood, too! It appears that November is now here, so it's time to give thanks for all the blessings in our lives. My goal is to post every day for the month of November and say something I'm thankful for. It's a good reminder to myself, and maybe to someone else, to stay positive and look for the good things in life rather than focus on what we don't have.

Today, I am thankful for Greekfest and Lamar Advertising, without which I would not be eating free Greek food for lunch. Opa!