Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Coffee Love

Where would I be every morning without coffee? I am head over heels for it. I'm usually a Folgers girl, but I love most any blend that's brown and smooth. From iced to piping hot, I'll give it a try. What I really need for Christmas is a Keurig coffee maker. I lust over them every single time I see one. My bestest buddies have one and I cannot get enough. There are too many flavors and choices. You don't want cappuccino today? That's alright, try Nantucket Blend instead. How kind are these people? They let me have some of their glorious brew each time I visit. So, be kind and generous this Christmas. Open up your wallet and contribute to making my dream come true. And...have I yet to mention that I have a barista bff? She knows all about these concoctions and makes one killer iced cup of joe. Oh, if only she weren't six hours away.

I shared the recipe for good ole' coffee punch on here a few months ago. But, again, mix hot coffee and coffee ice cream together, and you're done. Moreover, when you add coffee to one of life's greatest pleasures, food, you can't lose. In Franklin, TN, there is a steakhouse called Stoney River Legendary Steaks. When I first drove by there, Billy, Dr. K and I laughed about it. We thought it pretty bold to write legendary steaks on a huge sign. Well, curiosity got the best of us and we just had to take a look. What can I say but wow, oh wow. It is a beautiful restaurant with even prettier food. They had a coffee cured filet that was out of this world. I was going crazy over it and Billy was, too. If you ever get a chance to soak up all that Franklin has to offer, make sure to give it a try. It is definitely the perfect place for a hot date.
1726 Galleria Boulevard
Franklin, TN 37067-6210

Next up, we've got a chocolate and coffee combination to talk about. Sometimes when I serve guests, I make coffee and place three things on top: whipped cream, cinnamon and cocoa powder. You can mix a couple of tablespoons of cinnamon and cocoa powder together with a spoon and sift them lightly over the top. It makes a yummy combination and a beautiful presentation for your friends!

Oh, let's just get crazy and talk about a fourth coffee obsession, a super easy recipe that goes perfectly with a cup. This recipe is courtesy of Martha Sibley (slightly modified). Enjoy and Happy Wednesday!

Orange Breakfast Ring:

1 package softened cream cheese
1/2 cup sugar
1 tbsp. fresh orange peel
2 packages crescent rolls
1/3 cup chopped pecans or almonds
1 tbsp. fresh orange juice
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar

1.) Beat cream cheese, sugar, and orange peel until well blended.
2.) Press crescent rolls flat in a square shape across a baking sheet. Pinch together seams.
3.) Spread out cream cheese mixture onto rolls, and sprinkle almonds on top.
4.) Roll the entire square into a round roll.
5.) Form the roll into a ring and press two ends together to make a circle.
6.) With a knife, cut a few small air pockets on the top of the rolls.
7.) Bake at 350 for 18-20 minutes until golden brown. While in the oven, make a paste with the confectioner's sugar and orange juice. When ring has cooled somewhat, place it onto a serving plate and pour the icing paste on top. Add additional nuts if needed.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Homemade Cinnamon Chips

Oh, me. I have an obsession with cinnamon. I'll just come on out and admit that I'm president of cinnamon sugar anonymous. If you're interested in joining just let me know. Between that and my love affair with TJ Maxx, I don't have much going for me. I'm an addict and a terrible girlfriend. Whew, I'm heavy on the jokes today. A few weeks back, I was searching through a friend's local cookbook. When my eyes fell on this recipe, I immediately went to the store for supplies. If any of you have ever had Stacy's Cinnamon Sugar Pita Chips, these are exactly like them AND homemade to boot. Being the little conniver I am, I adapted the recipe somewhat. I know, you are smart, and you guessed that already. These little jewels are delicious and last for several days in a tight jar. And, let me not forget to tell you how inexpensive this recipe is. I did the math because I love you. Using my bag of 20 tortillas for $.98, I was able to make 160 triangles. So, for just a few more cents added for the amount of cinnamon sugar you use, you've made a billion chips for less than $2.00! Nothing better than a great recipe that's easy on the wallet. I hope you all have a great weekend! If you're stopping by the grocery store, grab these four ingredients and you won't be sorry!
Cinnamon Sugar: (Always better if made from scratch, I believe.)
1 cup sugar
1 HEAPING tbsp. cinnamon
1.) Shake or stir to combine, double as needed, store in airtight container. You use almost this entire amount if you make all 160 chips.
Cinnamon Chips:
Flour Tortillas
Butter Substitute (I Can't Believe It's Not Butter-I use the tub, imitation butter helps to keep the chips dry after baking)
Cinnamon Sugar
1.) Preheat oven to 350.
2.) Place flour tortillas on a cutting board and cut into triangles like you are slicing a pizza. I usually make a large stack and am able to cut 8 triangles from one tortilla
3.) Melt butter substitute in microwave.
4.) Lightly dip triangles into butter and place on a baking sheet. I always use Pam before I lay them down.
5.) When a baking sheet is full, sprinkle as much cinnamon sugar on top of chips.
6.) Bake at 350 for around 15 minutes until chips are golden brown and crispy.
7.) Double as needed.

Image courtesy: sugarmamanyc.blogspot.com, chow.com

Wednesday, August 24, 2011


This time last year, I did not know where my life was going. I was studying constantly for the LSAT and preparing to take it in October for the second time. I went to a jammed packed weekend class, did practice problems, and cried my eyes out several times. I would lay awake in bed at night wondering what to do with my life. I was stressed because the more I thought about it, the more I felt a churning feeling in my stomach about what decision to make. Several days after taking the test, I still upset by all of these emotions. Even when I had my score returned, I wasn’t excited, joyful, or relieved. All I could think about day in and day out was wondering what a law degree would do for me in my dream career. After continually mulling over what to do, I woke up one morning and literally had a new outlook on life. No joke, I decided that I would follow my dream job, a job in design, writing, and creativity to see where life would take me. I chose to give it a year off from school after graduating college to think things over. I needed time to make a plan for my career. If there’s a will there’s a way for me so, I planned to apply for jobs anywhere within this creative career field to see what doors would open. If during that year, I did not find a place to settle in, back to law school or graduate school I would go.

During the last semester of my senior year, I was informed of a writing internship with Southern Progress Coorporation in Birmingham. The thought of writing for a magazine stirred up all kinds of excitement in me. A professor approached me about the job and assured me I was a shoe in for their program. I felt confident about the position, but still tried to focus on reality. The day finally came for me to find out if I was accepted and alas, no phone call. After hearing buzz that the corporation had suffered cutbacks and financial trouble, I was only left to assume that I didn’t get chosen or that interns were cut out. Devastated was the only word to describe my life at this time. I had just witnessed a tornado that abruptly ended my UA career, cancelled my college graduation, and then I had this bomb dropped on me. I realized so many things in the wake of that stormy time, I was clinging to the little things in life and thankful to be alive. Throughout a crazy summer full of catering for friends, photography gigs, weddings and doing craft fairs, I took on the attitude that what was meant to be would somehow come my way. Yes, I had a free bird’s attitude, indeed. Finally, my graduation day arrived. It was full of a plethora of emotions as I realized I did not know what was coming next. Where did I belong now? I could no longer hide myself under the covers of the college student blanket. I needed a place to be and a place to thrive. I had all these ideas of how to make this and make that, but nowhere to release my creativity except with the crafts I completed at home. I was hoping and praying that something bigger would come along. I wanted to be able to craft on my own for fun and craft for a job, of course. On July 28th, I set up my craft booth on 6th Street in Tuscumbia, right out front of a company called Carter McGuyer Design Group. Until my set up, I hadn’t realized that the building was there. I realized that during four years of college, Tuscumbia had changed quite a bit! I peeked in their windows and adored what I saw. There, the modern design studio of my dreams, full of kitchen gadgets, ridiculously gorgeous furniture, beautiful hardwood floors, and stunning paint colors. I simply could not get enough of what I saw. For a moment, I thought I was in New York City. I was dying to know more about it and wondering how a sleek establishment such as this had managed its way into tiny downtown Tuscumbia.

Life went on for a couple of weeks until a close friend contacted me about a possible job opportunity. Of course, I was chomping at the bit to find out just where this possibility awaited me. Through a conversation with him, he explained that the people of Carter McGuyer Design Group/ Carter and Co. were looking for a potential employee. My heart dropped. I literally could not believe that the moment was upon me. I had a chance to actually go inside that gorgeous building for a potential opportunity to work there. During my interview we talked and talked for over an hour. There was so much to see and say. I left there in awe and I wanted to turn around and walk right back inside. I was and still am pinching myself about the whole experience. These people are a husband and wife team designing all kinds of great things. They have many talents and best of all, a vision. From kitchen tools at Williams Sanoma and Crate and Barrel to beach bags on Good Morning America, I cannot get enough. I am stunned, what else am I to think? It’s not as if I am starting off in a job that I know is going nowhere. Instead, I have the chance to embark on something better than I ever expected. So, back on to that dream job topic. I bet you know I’ll be having way too much fun thinking up items for their Carter and Co. canvas line and sewing up samples. The creative possibilities are literally endless. A brainstorming meeting about bags and accessories on Monday morning, you say? I’m there. I’ll be writing their blog (Eeeekkk!), handling their social media, and helping them do whatever else they need in that gorgeous office off Main. The truth is, I can’t believe it is really happening. These people already feel like kindred spirits to me. When I’m with them, all I want to do is talk ideas and potential. Things have come together for me and quite quickly at that. Now, I’m happily emotional. All I want to do is cry because the dream job has happened to me. I get to work for these awesome people and help them make a vision into a tangible product! How am I going to go to sleep tonight? I’m right where I want to be and I think we all know who I’ve got to thank.
P.S. Thanks to all you readers for believing in me!!!!!! Kind words and encouragement will not be soon forgotten.

Check out their sites:
Images courtesy of cartermdesign.com and cartercooperative.com

Monday, August 22, 2011

Red Velvet Recipe, Of Course!

Yes, I’ve done it again! I'm typing out another staple in my household, cake, cake, cake. This red velvet cake recipe is way to good to keep a secret any longer. I can barely sit still as I type it. I would walk miles for this cake whether to get a freshly baked slice or to burn off four of the cupcakes I just ate. These sweet little cupcakes have become the most requested item at our house when we host parties. What a delightful compliment it is! I promise, I can and sometimes do make other cake recipes. However, none can really compare to the taste of this delicious confection! I know this recipe is a little long and has several ingredients, but hear me out, it is worth every penny and second you spend. The recipe makes a three layer red velvet cake or around 32 cupcakes. When you gain ten pounds, don't say I didn't warn you.
➢ Vegetable oil for pans
➢ 2 ½ cups all purpose flour
➢ 1 ½ cups sugar
➢ 1 tsp. baking soda
➢ 1 tsp. kosher salt
➢ 1 tsp. cocoa powder
➢ 1 cup lowfat buttermilk (Purity if possible)
➢ 1 ½ cups vegetable oil
➢ 2 large eggs at room temperature
➢ 2 tbsp. red food coloring (is also equal to 1 ounce)
➢ 1 tsp. white distilled vinegar
➢ 1 tsp. vanilla extract and maybe a few extra drops ☺
➢ Crushed pecans for garnish
➢ 1 pound cream cheese softened/ two blocks of Philly 1/3 fat cream cheese
➢ 2 sticks unsalted butter softened
➢ 4 cups confectioner’s sugar-DO NOT use Great Value brand-it never makes a stiff icing at my house!
➢ 1 tsp. vanilla and maybe a few extra drops here as well
Directions for Cake or Cupcakes: (Review depending on which one you're making)
1. Preheat oven to 350. In a large bowl sift flour, sugar, baking soda, salt and cocoa powder very lightly. In another bowl, (I use electric mixer for wet) whisk together oil, buttermilk, eggs, food coloring, vinegar, and vanilla.
2.) Slowly pour dry ingredients into wet ingredients while mixer is on low. Make a smooth batter and do not over mix.
3.) If making a cake, grease and flour cake pans as follows. Pour a small amount of oil into cake pans and thoroughly coat pan by hand. Place a dusting of flour in the pan and tap the pan around until it is covered in flour. Distribute batter evenly across three cake pans. Cake baking time depends on oven, usually around 18-20 minutes for me.
4.) If making cupcakes, place liners in cupcake tin. There is no need to grease the liners because this batter is oily and moist. I use an old-fashioned ice cream scooper to measure out cupcakes. Cooking time depends on oven, usually 15-17 minutes for me.
5.) With either cake or cupcake, insert toothpick into cake to check to see if cakes are complete. Toothpick must come out clean to ensure proper cooking time.
6.) Remove from oven and allow to cool on a cooling rack. Do not ice a hot cake.
Directions for Icing:
1.) With mixer, cream butter and sugar, and cream cheese until thoroughly incorporated.
2.) Place mixer on high until icing becomes light and fluffy. Sometimes this takes up to five minutes.
3.) Move mixer back to low and add vanilla. Increase speed to high again and whip a few more times. Store in the refrigerator until cakes/cupcakes are cool and ready to ice. Can be stored for up to three days.

P.S. This recipe started out as one from Cake Man Raven, but I adapted it according to my tastes. :) Nothing like a good switch up on a classic cake recipe!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Billy's College Bratwurst

I love my man. I love him because he can cook. As I am writing this recipe, my mouth is watering because I want one of these so badly right now. These things are so stinkin' good and perfect for hangout parties! And alas, I'm afraid that anoher football season is yet upon us. Of course, you better be cooking for all those men that will randomly arrive at your home early on Saturday morning. Throughout college, Billy cooked these bratwurst for me. We used to spend fun nights stuffing our faces and watching movies, musicals, of course. So, as you see, they are perfect for The Sound of Music or ESPN enjoyers alike. Cook these with some Ore Ida sweet potato fries and you'll be fat and happy in no time. Anyway, let me stop rambling and share this deliciousness with you. Enjoy!
1.) 1 tbsp. Olive oil
2.) 1 red bell pepper
3.) 1 yellow bell pepper
4.) 1 large yellow onion
5.) 8 uncooked bratwurst -we use Hillshire Farm
6.) 1 pkg. Hotdog buns
7.) Garnish: dill pickle spears and mustard
1.) Heat olive oil in skillet on medium high. Chop all vegetables and sautee in oil to desired tenderness.
2.) Grill bratwurst on grill or flat top grill until thoroughly cooked. They will be plump and skin will look like it is ready to pop.
3.) Add brats and top with veggies, mustard, and pickles.
4.) No fear, nom nom nom sound will ensue shortly.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Three B's For Her!

Three B's for her? No, sorry guys I'm not talking bra sizes today. It's all about black, brown, and blue, beautiful in all their bounty. Color is the key to a great wardrobe, but what about using three simple palettes to make a classic combination? Yes, oh yes, it can be easily done. It's a one, two, three step process. Repeat this self-coined saying as you enter your closet: toss a skirt on here, a shirt on there, and off with a belt I go. Tonight while searching Pinterest, I saw this beautiful outfit arrangement. It reminded me of an outfit I'd worn a few weeks ago to a birthday party. Vanity, I declare, a brief moment of vanity struck me in that moment. When it comes to fashion, what can't I get enough of? Seriously, one of my favorite things would be these three colors mixed together. Think of the endless options! I'm almost moved to tears at how awesome my friends would look in an outfit using these shades. Anyway, I felt quite flattered when we left the restaurant because a girl took a picture of my outfit (pictured above) with her cellphone. If that doesn't pick a woman up I don't know what will. Don't be thinking you can't wear this because you SO can! The lace skirt I'm wearing is a vintage Laura Ashley piece belonging to the closet of none other than Dr. K! The shirt is from JCREW outlet and the belt from clearance at Anthropologie. The perks of this color combination are many. Each piece is a neutral, all can be worn year round (sells me on many an item) and they mix well for a variety of occasions. I used to shy away of placing black with brown, and throwing denim in for that matter. However, one day I woke up, went to my closet, and decided to be bold because there is just no other way for me to survive. It must've been in the stars for me to write this blog tonight because while strolling through Target for shampoo I saw a pair of $8.00 leggings that I knew would look fabulous with a denim shirt and brown belt at the waist. How cute could you be in that? I didn't buy the leggings because I have a pair that I purchased there several years ago. Yes, I'm pleased to say that they are still holding up and holding on! When you get dressed in the morning and look at your fabulousness in the mirror, think of me cheering you on with the one letter you need to remember, B! "Give me a B," I say! Like my Mama always says in true southern fashion , "If you've got it, flaunt it." Well, we've all got that beauty in us and I'm waiting on you to make me proud.

Images: chictopia.com, pinterest.com, polyvore.com