June 27, 2011

Blonde Brownies

I would be doing you a disservice not to post this recipe. This is one my family's all-time favorite desserts, and honestly anyone I make this for LOVES it! There are two ways to serve this delicacy. 1) You can serve it hot, right out of the oven with vanilla ice cream and hot chocolate sauce (in this case, take them out a couple minutes early, so they are still gooey). Or 2) you can serve it cooled like a cookie or bar (if you do it this way, bake them the night before. They need a day or so to really get good!). You really need to try these. You will not be disappointed!!

Blonde Brownies

2 sticks butter, melted (I've tried it with salted and unsalted butter - salted butter creates a better overall flavor)
2 c. brown sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1-2 cups choc. chips

Combine all ingredients with a wire whisk or wooden spoon. Bake @350 in a 9 x 13 pan sprayed with Pam for 28-30 minutes.

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Let me know what you like about these and how you serve them! What about a substitute for the chocolate chips? I'd love to hear your ideas!

June 23, 2011

Double Cheese Macaroni

This recipe is one of my mom's, and it has always been a BIG HIT every time I bring it somewhere! It is great for family dinners, potlucks, cookouts, etc. Tonight I added a little something: tomato slices. And it was delicious! Sorry I didn't take a picture, I forgot to before we dug in! :)

Double Cheese Macaroni

8 oz. elbow macaroni (can also use small shells)
½ c. shredded cheddar cheese
12 oz. cottage cheese
¼ c. butter
¼ c. flour
2 c. milk
½ tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
½-1 c. bread crumbs
2 tsp. melted butter

Cook macaroni noodles and drain. In a sprayed or greased 9 x 13 alternate layers of noodles, cheddar cheese, & cottage cheese ending with cheddar cheese. Melt butter in saucepan, stir in flour, S & P, blend in milk and heat to boiling stirring constantly. Pour on top. (Here is where I laid the tomato slices.) Add bread crumbs on top mixed with 2 tsp. (or more) melted butter.

Bake at 375 for 30-35 minutes.

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June 21, 2011

Herbs & a New Favorite

I have two things to tell you about today!

1. I have started an herb garden. Basil, cilantro, and parsley (in that order). In the dollar section at Target they were selling mini pots with seeds and soil inside to plant these herbs. Mini pots + bad soil = no herbs. So instead I transferred them to these pots with fresh, nutritious soil so they can grow fruitfully. And look at them now! It's only been a couple weeks, and soon I will get to use them in my recipes!

2. My second thing is about where I got the pots. Ever been to Carolina Pottery? It's my new favorite store! It's a HUGE home goods store with thousands of items all for amazing deals. These pots were only 99 cents each! If you're going to be potting some herbs or plants, I highly recommend you skip the Lowe's or Home Depot and head over to Carolina Pottery. They also have kitchen items, art, a wine collection, seasonal decorations, and so much more. So just be sure either your wallet or your will power is prepared before
going in. You have been forewarned.

June 19, 2011

Baked Chicken Fingers

Sweet Pea's Kitchen

This is one of our favorite recipes that we certainly don't make often enough! Honestly, these are the best chicken fingers I have ever had, and they aren't as greasy as fast food! I think I will pair them with corn on the cob tonight. Yum.

Let's get started. You will need:
  • 2 cups breadcrumbs
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 3 large egg whites
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 1/2 lb chicken tenderloins (or boneless, skinless breasts cut into 3/4-inch strips)

What to do:
  1. Preheat oven to 475 F.  Set a wire rack inside a rimmed baking sheet and spray the rack with cooking spray; set aside. (I used a cookie cooling rack and it worked just fine!)
  2. In a 12 inch skillet, combine the breadcrumbs and canola oil. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until golden brown. Transfer the breadcrumbs to a wide, shallow dish and set aside to cool.
  3. In a second shallow dish, combine flour, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper.
  4. In a third shallow dish, whisk together egg whites, water, Dijon mustard and thyme until the egg whites are broken up and the mixture is foamy.
  5. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Dredge each piece of chicken in the flour mixture, shaking to remove excess, then dip in the egg whites coating both sides completely. Finally, place in the toasted breadcrumbs, turning to coat both sides. Transfer to the wire rack and repeat with all chicken tenderloins.
  6. Spray the chicken lightly with cooking spray then bake for 10-12 minutes, or until a meat thermometer reads 165°.
We have served these with Ranch dressing, BBQ sauce, Dijon mustard, and honey mustard and have loved each dipping sauce. What kind of sauce do you dip your chicken fingers in? I'd love to hear other ideas!

Recipe from Sweet Pea's Kitchen

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June 15, 2011

Big Decision

I recently just got a smart phone, and am in awe every day of all the things this thing can do. The first thing I did was set up my Gmail, and instantly my contacts were loaded on there without me even realizing it. Then I set up my Google Voice app (if you aren't using this, you totally should. You can have calls be forwarded to any phone by setting this up, so if you're out of the country or in a place you don't get good service, you can still get calls on a landline or someone else's phone. And this allowed me to keep my number without the hassle of transferring it. I also can check my texts and voicemail online if my phone is dead. Have I sold this thing enough already??). Ok, we get it, smart phones are pretty sweet.

Picking a case for my phone, however, is a hard decision. Do I want a rubber one, or a hard one? Should I pick my favorite color pink, or would that look unprofessional as I'm using it to do business? What does it say about me? Or would that appeal to some of my clients and be a good conversation starter? Or would they not even care?? These are the thoughts running through my head. I also don't want to wait too long to make a decision, because I need to buy one before I scratch my new phone, since I am prone to drop expensive things on a regular basis. So I'm going to make a decision tonight, and hopefully I'll like it!

What kind of case do you use for your phone, if any? Also, what's your favorite app? Would love to hear from you!

June 9, 2011

Future Home Must-haves

Today I have been learning how to use Raleigh's MLS system (the online database that Realtors post their listings on). What better way to learn it than to use the search function like I would for a client? This has gotten me searching for my future home. I say future because it is a long, long, LONG way off. Two things I strongly desire in my first home purchase are old hardwood floors and a staircase. There is something about stairs in an entryway that just seems homey and inviting. I also love the separation stairs create between the daily living space and the bedrooms. Having stairs to climb makes a bedroom feel more like a retreat from the busyness than does simply walking around a corner from the living room. Here is where some of my daydreams are coming from...

Clean yet antique. Love it.

A window seat in your foyer? Genius.

How cool is this horizontal wood paneling? I'm also loving the unique railing.

Fascinating staircase!
Simple. Lovely.
I want, I want, I want!

What are some of your home must-haves?
And are you lucky enough to own them yet?

One year since

Going on a run around a suburban neighborhood at 10 o'clock on a Wednesday evening is actually very quiet and peaceful. Doing the same in a college town is a whole different story. I probably haven't even gone on a run at that time of day since college. It got me thinking, reminiscing the years at my alma mater. It has been over a year since graduation, and so much has changed! As I pondered and jogged (probably succeeding more at the former than at the latter), I concluded that a single word can sum up my college experience: Adventure. I think that was the most exciting thing about graduating high school, and knowing that I was leaving for a place I had never been before. It was the thrill of the possibilities: the friends to be made, the places to visit, the silly adventures that students find themselves getting into on a weekly basis. The options were endless; our time unlimited. And it all got to take place within the buffer between us and the real world, where our parents were still paying the bills while we got to call the shots.

As graduation came and went, I felt like my adventurous days were over. Now, looking back and really seeing the full picture, I see that college is defined by adventure not because it equals it, but because it marks the start of it. It is the first time in our lives where we get to (or have to) decide what we are going to do with our time, what we are going to invest in, and what paths we are going to follow or create. I realize now that this was only preparation for what real life is like. We are doing the same things, only on a bigger scale and a bigger map. I feel like all of my close friends are scattered across the country, across the world, doing what they love or searching for it. It makes me sad, and at the same time excited. I miss my friends very much. There is something about about the bond that forms with people who surround you once you've left your parents and your childhood home. We had such a community, and the fact that it was founded in Christ made it that much stronger. Going our separate ways after college did not sever our bond, but the bond was still stretched, and sometimes it hurts. Even still, I am so excited to see who everyone is going to become, and what they are going to accomplish. So much has happened in the past year, as we are figuring out where we should go and what we should do. Much has been learned about life already, yet there are so many more lessons!

I have probably brought upon way too much nostalgia for one night. But as you are looking back to your college days (or your defining years of becoming an adult), say a prayer for those who you love and miss. I wouldn't be the same without the influence of my fellow Hokies. Please know that I miss you and think of you often.