Thursday, December 5, 2013

Cooking for a Cause & Four Recipes!

Today I have some fantastic recipes to share with you. In addition to tasting delicious, they are part of a very special cookbook. Each recipe featured today is from the special edition Southern Living Christmas Cookbook, which is available at Dillard's at Stony Point and Short Pump malls in Richmond, VA for only $10. All of the proceeds from this cookbook go to Ronald McDonald House Charities of Richmond, Virginia.

From their mission statement, "Ronald McDonald House Charities of Richmond, VA provides a home away from home for children receiving medical treatment and their families, and helps to fund programs in the local area that directly improve the well-being of children."  

When Ronald McDonald House contacted me to see if I would be interested in sharing their cookbook on my blog I jumped at the chance. Not only do I love Southern Living, and cooking and baking, but I am honored to be a part of something that can make a real difference in the lives of children and their families. 

Here is our local Ronald McDonald House:

Isn't it lovely? I was able to take a tour of the house with Director of Development, Allison Smith, and learn more about their programs and how they help families. On the tour I heard about the bond that develops among the families that stay in the house, and how meaningful it is for them to have a safe place during their child's treatment. Although each family and their child has a unique situation, they all know the feeling of being different, of having to fight a battle that not many other people understand. Wow, did that hit home. I wanted to say, you are speaking my language sister. I of course immediately thought of my sweet Emma, and how she never even had the chance to fight life's battles. As hard as this made the rest of the tour for me, it only furthered my desire to participate in this project. I want these families to have the opportunity to embrace and support each other in this beautiful place, as they fight alongside their child for health and life. 

Here are some of the sweet faces of Ronald McDonald House Richmond:

To help you get an idea of the types of delicious treats you can make after you purchase your cookbook, I will share with you a few recipes that I tested. 

The first was the Stove-top Chicken Pot Pie. This recipe was super easy, quick, and delicious. It was the perfect comfort food. 

Stove-top Chicken Pot Pie

8 frozen buttermilk biscuits
1 small sweet onion, diced
1 Tbsp. canola oil
1 (8-oz.) package sliced fresh mushrooms
4 cups chopped cooked chicken (they recommended a rotisserie chicken, which I used.)
1 (10 3/4-oz.) can reduced-fat cream of mushroom soup
1 cup low-sodium fat-free chicken broth
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 (8-oz.) package 1/3-less fat cream cheese, cubed
1/2 (0.7-oz.) envelope Italian dressing mix (about 2 tsp.)
1 cup frozen baby peas, thawed

1. Bake biscuits according to package directions.
2. Meanwhile, saute onion in hot oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat 5 minutes or until golden. Add mushrooms, and sauté 5 minutes or until tender. Stir in chicken and next 5 ingredients; cook, stirring frequently, 5 minutes or until cheese melts and mixture is thoroughly heated. Stir in peas, and cook 2 minutes. Spoon chicken over hot split biscuits. 

Yum, now wasn't that easy?! They have a Southern-Style Chicken Pot Pie recipe that I am trying next. It has leeks in it, which are my ultimate fave! Please don't judge my large portion. I was really hungry, and it was just that good. {Also, sorry for the bad picture quality…the lighting at night in my house is terrible for photography!}

The next dinner that we enjoyed from the cookbook was Rosemary Grilled Chicken. The recipe pairs the chicken with Garlic Spinach and Cheese Grits, which don't get me wrong sounds amazing, but we were curious about the Asparagus-New Potato Hash, so that's what we made on the side instead.

Rosemary Grilled Chicken Thighs 

1 garlic clove, pressed
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp. honey
1 tsp. table salt
1 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary*
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 1/2 lb. skinned and boned chicken, thighs**
1/2 lemon

1. Combine garlic and next 6 ingredients in a large heavy-duty zip-top plastic bag, squeezing bag to combine ingredients. Add chicken, turning to coat, and seal bag. Chill 1 to 24 hours.
2. Preheat grill to 350 to 400 degrees (medium-high) heat. Remove chicken from marinade, discarding marinade. Grill chicken, covered with grill lid, 5 to 7 minutes on each side. Transfer chicken to a large piece of aluminum foil. Squeeze juice from lemon over chicken; fold foil around chicken, covering chicken completely. Let stand 10 minutes.

*Fresh thyme, cilantro, or oregano may be substituted
**1 1/2 lb. skinned and boned chicken breasts may be substituted. (This is what we used.)

Asparagus-New Potato Hash

1 lb. small red potatoes
1 lb. fresh asparagus
2 shallots, minced
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
1 tsp. table salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup crumbled farmer's cheese or queso fresco
Garnish: lemon slices

1. Bring potatoes and salted water to cover to a boil in a dutch oven over medium-high heat. Cook 15 minutes or until just tender; drain well. Cool 15 minutes; cut into quarters.
2. Snap off and discard tough ends of asparagus. Cut asparagus into 1/2-inch pieces. 
3. Saute shallots in hot oil in a large nonstick skillet 1 minute. Add asparagus, thyme, and next 3 ingredients; sauté 2 to 3 minutes or until asparagus is crisp-tender. Add potatoes, and sauté 3 minutes or until mixture is thoroughly heated. Remove from heat, and sprinkle with cheese. 

Both of these recipes were delicious and I will make them again. The chicken was especially good, as I can be funny about eating chicken. It was super tender and flavorful, and grilling it made it extra yummy. 

After trying out a few dinner recipes I was in the mood for something sweet. The last recipe I have to share with you this evening is:

Sticky Bun-Pumpkin Muffins

2 cups pecan halves and pieces
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2 Tbsp. light corn syrup
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 cups granulated sugar
1 Tbsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. table salt
1 (15-oz.) can pumpkin
1 cup canola oil
4 large eggs

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake pecans in a single layer in a shallow pan 8 to 10 minutes or until toasted and fragrant, stirring halfway through.
2. Stir together melted butter and next 2 ingredients. Spoon 1 rounded teaspoonful butter mixture into each cup of 2 lightly greased (12-cup) muffin pans, and top each with 1 rounded tablespoonful pecans.
3. Stir together flour and next 4 ingredients in a large bowl, and make a well in center of mixture. Whisk together pumpkin, next 2 ingredients, and 2/3 cup water; add to dry ingredients, stirring until just moistened.
4. Spoon batter into prepared muffin pans, filling three-fourths full. Place an aluminum foil-lined jelly-roll pan on lower oven rack to catch any overflow.
5. Bake at 350 degrees on middle oven rack for 25 to 30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Invert pan immediately to remove muffins, and arrange muffins on a wire rack. Spoon any topping remaining in muffin cups over muffins. Cool 5 minutes. 

These were absolutely amazing! The cake part didn't taste overly sweet, so it was well balanced with the sticky, gooey, sweet topping. I will definitely make these again. I took one for each of the girls on my team at school and they all loved them as well. 

The recipes from the cookbook that are on my "to make soon" list include: Bacon-and-Cheddar Corn Muffins, Hominy Grill's Shrimp and Grits, Spiced Pomegranate Sipper, Bacon-Onion Dip, Cornbread Tartlets with Tomato-Lima Bean Relish, Ragout of Mushrooms with Creamy Polenta, Holiday Meatloaf, Home-Style Butter Beans, Southern-Style Collard Greens, Shrimp and Grits Dressing, Waldorf Spinach Salad, Pimento Cheese Rolls, Sour Cream Cornbread, Lemon-Poppy Seed Cakes, Individual Frozen Peppermint Cheesecakes, Caramel-Pecan-Pumpkin Bread Puddings, and Coconut Joys. Oh dear, that's a lot of recipes. And that is seriously only a fraction of the cookbook. Oh, yummy!!

I hope that you will enjoy these recipes, and even more, I hope that if you are located in the Richmond, Virginia area that you will purchase one of these cookbooks. It is a beautiful cookbook and is bursting with fantastic recipes. More importantly, it helps a wonderful organization continue their mission. 

Happy eating ya'll!

I was provided the cookbook for the purpose of this post, but all opinions are my own. 

Friday, November 22, 2013

Homemade Pecan Pancakes

I currently have a big bag of pecans in the pantry in preparation for a homemade pecan pie for Thanksgiving {yum, my favorite!}. This week I decided to use some of the pecans and give pecan pancakes a try. We had a breakfast for dinner night and enjoyed the pancakes with some extra crispy bacon, one of my all time favorite foods.

To keep the recipe a little more "clean" and natural, I chose to make the pancakes from scratch, rather than using a mix. Plus, we already had all of the ingredients in the pantry, so why not?

Pecan Pancakes
Adapted from Food Network

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
Dash of salt
1 cup buttermilk*
Dash of vanilla extract
1 egg
3 tablespoons melted butter
1/2 cup chopped pecans

In a bowl mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add in the buttermilk and egg and whisk until smooth. Pour in the melted butter and pecans and stir to combine. 

Heat a griddle to medium heat and add a small pat of butter. Using a ladle pour the batter onto the griddle and cook the pancakes to golden brown on each side. Add more butter to the griddle as needed during cooking to keep the pancakes from sticking.

Serve with butter and maple syrup (we use the real stuff for both, it tastes better and it is all natural). 

*Buttermilk: Pour one tablespoon of white vinegar into a measuring cup. Add in 1 cup of milk (any kind is fine, I used 1%). Let sit for 5 minutes and you have buttermilk! 

Oh, and for full disclosure, after taking this picture my phone was covered in butter and syrup because the pat of butter kept sliding off the hot pancakes. I had to keep sliding it back on with my finger while trying to take a decent picture. Good thing my phone has a screen protector so the mess was easy to wipe off. ;)

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Amherst Gray

A lovely reader asked for some more pictures of our Amherst Gray siding. It is a color she is considering for her home, and she wanted to get a better idea of how it may look from different angles and in different lights. She asked me a few weeks ago, so I hope I'm not too late, but here are a few more pictures of our home with its fabulous new{ish} color! You can read the makeover post here.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Well, Hello!

Hello there! Did you think I had disappeared? I will hopefully be giving this blog a little TLC in the next week or so. I need to give it a makeover since the free background I had been using was going to expire today. I've put something else up for now, but the whole thing needs to be revamped.

I've been spending most of my available blogging time lately over at my other blog, Butterfly Wings. You can come over and visit me there, or stop by our Facebook Page. See you there!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Quick, Easy, Healthy{ish} Weeknight Stew

Tonight I made some soup for dinner that was fast, easy, delicious, and healthy{ish}. I'm calling it a stew because it was thick and hearty, and there was not a ton of broth. If you want it soupier increase the amount of chicken broth, but I loved it just the way it was. I will definitely be making this again!

Sausage and Kale Stew

1/2 lb. ground mild Italian sausage--Use turkey for a healthier version, freeze the other half of the package to use another time

1 small bunch kale, rinsed, pulled off the stem, and chopped

1 can white beans (great northern/cannellini), drained and rinsed

1 32 oz container low sodium chicken broth

1 can stewed tomatoes with Italian seasoning, diced

1 clove garlic, minced

Salt and pepper to taste

Olive oil

Heat a pot (I like to use a cast iron dutch oven) to medium heat. Add a small amount of olive oil and brown the sausage, breaking into bite size crumbles as you cook. When the sausage is almost browned put in the minced garlic to sauté. Careful, it burns easily! 

Once the sausage is nicely browned pour in the chicken broth, scraping off the good brown bits from the bottom of the pan into the broth (deglazing if you want to be fancy about it).This makes the broth rich and delicious. Mmmmm 

Add in the diced tomatoes in their juice (do not drain). I can never find these pre-diced, so I pull the slices out with a fork and dice them myself and then throw them in the pot along with the leftover juice that's in the can.  

Add in the white beans and kale along with some salt and pepper to taste. Turn the heat down to medium low and simmer for about 20 minutes until the kale is tender. 

I'm never great at taking pictures of food, but this one is especially bad because the soup was so steamy it kept fogging up my camera. I was too hungry to wait! 


Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Mexican Favorites

Mexican is one of my favorite types of food. We have tried two new Mexican recipes for dinner in the last few weeks, and both have been absolutely delicious! They are completely opposite, as one is a vegetarian taco recipe and one is a beef taco. I hope you enjoy them as much as we did.

Roasted Vegetable Tacos (adapted from Tasty Kitchen)

1 sweet potato, peeled and cubed
1 red pepper, chopped
1 red onion, chopped
1 jalapeño, seeded and diced
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon chile powder
Salt and pepper to taste
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
Handful of fresh cilantro, chopped
1 lime
1 avocado
Homemade tortillas (FYI--I have tried this recipe with whole wheat flour since my original post and it did not work...yuck! Also, I feel like the olive oil does give them a bit of a flavor. If you want them more plain in flavor use canola oil)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Mix your tortilla dough so it can begin resting. In a bowl toss veggies with the oil and seasonings. Place onto a baking sheet and roast for 20 minutes, tossing halfway through. 

Once veggies are done roasting remove from oven and mix in black beans. Turn oven off and put tray back in to keep warm. Cook your tortillas and set aside. When tortillas are done pull veggies back out of the oven, mix in fresh cilantro, and squeeze fresh lime juice on top. Serve veggie mixture in your fresh warm tortillas, top with fresh avocado, and enjoy! 

Slow Cooker Beef Carnitas (adapted from Eat, Live, Run)

1 flank steak
1 yellow onion, chopped
1-2 canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, chopped

Spice Rub:
2 teaspoons chile powder 
1 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix together spices for rub in a small bowl, then rub into both sides of the flank steak. Place steak in slow cooker and cover with chopped onion and chipotle peppers. Warning: canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce pack a lot of heat. I really like spicy things and I used 1 1/2 peppers in my recipe and it was plenty spicy for me.

Cover and cook on low for 7-8 hours. When finished cooking shred meat with two forks. Serve meat inside homemade tortillas and top with a squeeze of lime juice, fresh cilantro, and homemade Pico de Gallo (that's missing from my picture because we forgot to get tomatoes at the store :( )

Pico de Gallo:
Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
Red onion, diced
Juice of 1 lime
Handful of fresh cilantro
Add some fresh minced garlic if you're feeling zesty

Mix all ingredients in a bowl and let sit for a few hours before serving


Monday, August 26, 2013

Super Food Granola

One thing I have been really curious to try recently is chia seeds. I am not sure how I decided to jump on this bandwagon...probably Pinterest. They are the ultimate super food. Here is a good article about the top 10 health benefits of chia seeds.

For my first chia seed adventure hubby helped me make homemade granola. It turned out pretty well and was definitely waaaay better than my last homemade granola which tasted like burned grossness.

Super Food Granola

3 cups old fashioned rolled oats
1 cup nuts of your choice (We had pecans on hand so thats what we used. I think walnuts would be delish too)
1/4 cup flax seeds
3 tablespoons chia seeds
pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup honey (or sweetener of your choice--you could use pure maple syrup or agave nectar)
1 large egg white
1 cup dried fruit (we used a blend of golden raisins, cherries, cranberries, and blueberries)

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. In a large bowl mix all ingredients except for the egg white and dried fruit, making sure that the liquid ingredients evenly coat the dry ingredients. 

In a small bowl whisk the egg white until it is frothy, pour into the large bowl of granola, and mix until evenly coated.

Spread the granola onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 40 minutes or until golden. Half way through baking flip the granola over using a spatula. Mix the fruit into the granola as soon as it comes out of the oven. Let cool and store in an airtight container. 

*We got our chia seeds, flax seeds, and "golden fruit blend" all from Trader Joe's 

This granola was fabulous. It is not super sweet, but the honey and fruit adds just the right amount of sugar. I love that it has both chia seeds and flax seeds, and doesn't contain the questionable ingredients that store bought granolas have. Plus, its way cheaper to make your own! My next chia seed adventure is going to be chia seed pudding. Stay tuned, I'll let you know how it turns out! 

Monday, August 12, 2013

A New Blog

Hi everyone. I wanted to share my new blog adventure with you. I will still be blogging on A T-Shirt and Pearls, but I am starting a second blog. 

If you read my last post on here you know about the stillbirth of our daughter Emma. I will blogging about things related to that on my new blog On A Butterfly's Wings

I understand that it will not be for everyone, which is why I am going to write on a separate blog. However, I do hope you will take a minute to check it out. Yes, its uncomfortable and sad, but stillbirth is real and it happens more than you think. If we stay silent about it then the statistics will never change.

Thursday, August 8, 2013


In one of my recent posts I mentioned that my hubby and I were dealing with a tragedy, but I wasn't ready to share any more than that. Well, I think my post today will make a little more sense if you have an understanding of what we are going through. Our beautiful precious daughter Emma was stillborn on July 2. These last five weeks have been the worst of our lives. Over time I plan to share Emma's story and our journey, but for now it belongs to just us. 

I have spent a lot of time recently online reading blogs and various resources, and participating in online support groups.

I recently came across one blog post that was really inspiring to me. Lindsey of Still Breathing blogged about allowing room for beauty and joy. Lindsey shares about choosing beauty and how appreciating the beauty in the world around us can soften our grief. I love Lindsey's use of the word soften, because I'm sorry to tell you that I don't think you ever get rid of your grief, instead you learn to live with it.

I am not at a point in my grief where I can find much joy, but I can recognize beauty. I have enjoyed spending a lot of time outside and find peace from what I see in the world around me. I have decided that if I force myself to consciously appreciate one beautiful thing from the world around me each day that slowly I will not only be finding beauty, but moments of joy too.  
Lindsey documents her moments of beauty and joy on Instagram using #joygrief. I have decided that I will document mine using #findingbeauty with the hope that one day I too will find the #joy{in moments of}grief. Click here to follow me on IG.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Loaded Oatmeal Cookies

One of my favorite desserts is the basic chocolate chip cookie. Warm and soft from the oven it is the perfect sweet treat, but sometimes you need to jazz things up a little.

Meet the Loaded Oatmeal Cookie.

These cookies are full of yummy bits and it is impossible to eat just one! Don't say I didn't warn you...

Loaded Oatmeal Cookies


2 sticks softened unsalted butter
1/2 cup white sugar
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups quick cooking oats
1/2 cup M&Ms
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup peanut butter chips
3/4 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 375 degrees

Cream butter and sugars together until fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each egg. Add vanilla and beat until mixed.

In a separate bowl sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add to wet ingredients and mix until combined. Mix in oats, M&Ms, pecans, and peanut butter and chocolate chips.

Scoop dough (I have a super handy Pampered Chef cookie dough scooper, which I highly recommend) onto an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 9-10 minutes until golden brown. Cool on a wire cooling rack.

Recipe adapted from The Pioneer Woman

The great thing about this recipe is that you can adapt the cookie to whatever sounds good to you. Add different mix-ins and take out the ones you don't like. I'd like to try a version with Reese's Pieces. Enjoy!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Summer Wreath DIY

Well its been a little quiet around here. Hubby and I have been dealing with a tragedy and blogging has been the last thing I have cared about recently. I think that I will eventually blog about what we have been going through both as a means of therapy for myself, and in hopes of reaching out and connecting to someone else who is going through the same thing we are.

But, for now I just want to talk about wreaths, and in particular my summer wreath DIY project.

I am not much of a DIYer, in fact my DIY Pinterest board is called DIY--I don't. I just don't seem to have the patience for DIY projects. However, in light of recent events I have been looking for some things to pass the time and distract myself, and I decided that I would make a new wreath for my front door.

I almost took a picture of my current wreath to show you how totally disgusting and in need of replacement it was, but then I realized was totally disgusting, and I didn't think you needed to see that. Let's just say we have a bit of a spider problem around our house, and my cheery yellow floral wreath had turned into haunted house halloween spider web fest. 

Luckily, I have a wonderful friend who is crafty and she helped me plan my design, took me shopping for supplies, and crafted with me. Its much easier (and more fun) to keep your patience and be crafty when you have a friend to enjoy it with. 

Here is my final product:

The original plan had been to wrap the entire wreath with the moss and use the burlap as my accent, but I ran out of moss and was not going back to the store (plus it was kind of expensive). All of my supplies came from Hobby Lobby.

The supplies I used are:
- styrofoam wreath form
- wide burlap ribbon (one 30 ft. roll)
- moss ribbon (three 3 ft. rolls)
- one package of floral pins
- three pre-made burlap rosettes
- hot glue

To make the wreath start by pinning the beginning of the roll of burlap ribbon against the back of the wreath form at a slight angle. Continuing wrapping the ribbon around the form being sure to keep it very tight. After wrapping twice around stop and add a pin on the back to keep the ribbon tight and in place. Continue until the wreath is covered (I ran out at the very end. I started the moss on the area that wasn't covered so you couldn't tell.) Follow the same procedure with the moss. Glue on your flowers.

The wreath was super easy, even for someone who is craft challenged like me. I love the look of the burlap and moss against my cheery yellow front door.

The good news is that my wreath is flat enough to fit between my front door and the storm door, so it is protected from the weather and the yucky spider problem. 

I think this wreath will be the start of my craftiness. Stay tuned for more projects. 

Friday, June 28, 2013

The Best Grilled Sandwich And Where To Get It! Hubby and I just made and ate the most delicious grilled steak sandwich. I am serious, this thing was life changing, and that is not just the pregnancy talking.

In typical fashion I did not measure as I was making it and I scarfed it down before taking any pictures, but let's face it, my pictures would be lame anyway.

So, since I don't have a lot to share with you I just took a second and typed up the recipe on my T-Shirt and Pearls Facebook Page. Oh, I'm sorry, did you want the recipe?! Then hop on over to my FB page, like it, and check out the recipe. ;)

While I have you on a scavenger hunt, make sure you are following me via email or Bloglovin' since Google Reader will soon be gone.

Happy grilling, friends!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

A New Look

I have had the itch for awhile to change the look of my blog. Today I finally took the plunge and spent my afternoon playing with templates, buttons, and HTML. It was a long process, since I really have no clue what I am doing, but I am happy (for now) with the result. There are definitely still things I need to update and changes I want to make, but after hours of staring at my computer screen I am ready to walk away....and go get some ice cream (major score on finding some unused Cold Stone gift cards in my wallet)!

I have to give a shout out to Leelou Blogs for the super cute background and header and Carrie Loves for the awesome glittery social media buttons!

So what do you think of the new look? Check back soon for more updates and changes!

Under {Major} Construction

Well I have decided to give my blog a makeover, and due to my total lack of skills it is a complete hot mess at the moment. Please disregard anything you see on here until further notice. :)

Saturday, June 22, 2013


Okay ya'll I am seriously obsessed with this recipe for homemade flour tortillas. I have made them 3 times now and they are so delicious and easy. So far hubby and I have enjoyed them with black bean and cheese quesadillas and chicken tacos.

Here is a copy of the recipe from Dancing Branflakes, with a few of my comments added in:

Mix together:
3 cups flour (I use regular all purpose, but I think whole wheat would be good and a healthier alternative)
1/2 cup oil (I use olive oil because I think its healthier and adds a good flavor--its a good fat, right?)
1/2 tbsp salt

Add in 1 cup warm water. Knead until the dough forms a ball that is shiny and no longer sticks to your hands (I just do this in the bowl...keep it simple!). Cover with a towel and let rest for a half an hour.

After a half an hour flour your surface, pinch off a small ball of your dough, and roll out into the best circle you can make, as thin as you can--I am just starting to get the hang of this part. 

Heat a pan over medium heat, do not add oil or any kind of cooking spray, and let your tortilla puff. Once it starts to puff flip to the other side. Let it puff again and flip. Do this until both sides are a nice toasty color. 

Depending on how big I roll out my tortillas this recipe usually makes about 6, more if you make them smaller.

I am getting pretty good at watching the one puffing in the pan over my shoulder as I roll out the next so I can keep the process moving quickly.

Voila...that's it! Homemade tortillas that are totally delicious, easy to make, and free from all of those chemicals and processed junk that come in the store bought kind.

Sure they have a little extra fat from the oil, but I challenge you to read the ingredients list on those fat free tortillas you have been buying at the store. Can you read the ingredients on the list? Probably not! For me healthy eating is more about clean eating than always eating low fat or low calories. I'd rather have a little extra fat and calories than chemicals in body.

So take a little time, whip a batch of these babies up, and you'll be in love! Ole!

P.S. The few pictures I have of my tortillas are terrible (I seriously need to work on my camera skills), so hop on over to Dancing Branflakes and check hers out...they are lovely!

P.P.S If you choose to use olive oil like me, your tortillas won't turn out as white as the ones in the pictures, so don't did it right!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Making a Statement

One of my favorite fashion accessories is a good statement necklace. I love the look of jeans and a basic t-shirt with a big gob o'necklace.

Statement necklaces are the perfect way to transform basic wardrobe pieces into a new look without spending a lot. Plus, they are a great way to add personality and style to your outfit.

All of the necklaces below are from my new obsession, BaubleBar. How am I just now discovering this?! BaubleBar is the most amazing website of fashion jewelry at seriously reasonable prices. Eek! I am in love!

Shop It
Shop It
Shop It
Shop It
Shop It
Shop It

Ohmygosh. Can't stop! Find your own faves by visiting BaubleBar online.

Are you a statement necklace kind of girl, or do you keep things more simple? I am off to continue building my dream jewelry collection, and to clean the drool off of my laptop...

*This post was not solicited. All opinions are my own.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Zucchini Bundt Bread

I had the grand idea this weekend that I wanted to bake something. In order to keep things on the healthier side I got inspired by this recipe for Honey Whole Wheat Zucchini Bread. Of course when I realized today that I really needed to use up the zucchini I bought I was in no mood for baking, but I powered through and am really happy with the result.

I definitely wouldn't call this a healthy bread since it uses two sticks of butter, but it's slightly healthier than other recipes. You could clean it up even more by substituting some or all of the butter with applesauce or greek yogurt.

Honey Whole Wheat Zucchini Bread

3 eggs
1 cup honey
1 cup butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla
3 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups shredded zucchini
1 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a medium bowl beat eggs, honey, butter, and vanilla together. Stir dry ingredients together in a separate bowl and then beat into wet ingredients. Use a spoon and mix in zucchini and raisins.

Grease a bundt pan and pour in batter. Bake for 50-60 minutes until top is firm and golden brown.

I love using a bundt pan for this bread because it turns out so pretty. It also cuts up into the perfect slices. However, to be honest, the reason I chose a bundt pan is because I did not have the 2 loaf pans or cupcake liners that the original recipe called for. After a little research online I discovered that 1 bundt pan holds the equivalent of 2 loaf pans. Voila...Zucchini Bundt Bread!

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Summer Design Inspiration

If you read my last post, Dream House Tour, you know I have been in a decorating/design mood recently. Maybe I am going though virtual nesting? You know, still sitting with my feet propped up but happy to spend time redecorating and organizing my home via Pinterest. Am I on to something here? Could I trademark that phrase?

Annnnnyway, I was excited when I was recently contacted by Shutterfly to see if I was interested in sharing their Summer Decorating Inspiration Board here on the blog. They used the colors green and white with pops of orange to create a bright summery feel. I love the combo of colors and am excited to share it with you.

So, what do you think? I am loving that grellow shade of green and the pop of orange on the poppy plates. If done poorly green and orange can definitely leave you with a 70's gone wrong kind of feel, but in the right shades, and with a balance of white, it feels fresh, bright, and modern.

After looking at the Shutterfly Summer Decorating Inspiration Board I got inspired and decided to find my own green and orange design ideas. Here are some of my favorites, via my favorite, Pinterest:

Monday, June 10, 2013

Dream House Tour

I want to start this post by saying that I love my sweet little house. I can't imagine being anywhere else right now, but it is fun to daydream...

My dream house would have some land and be a little rural, but also be within 10-15 minutes of important things like more than one grocery store, Target, a good variety of restaurants, a salon, etc... Does that even exist?

A view of the mountains wouldn't hurt either.

A sunroom would be a must.

I would have a big and cozy kitchen with lots of storage and a fireplace.

In this heart of the home I would can lots of yummies...

...Fresh from my garden out back.

And speaking of the outdoors, we would need fantastic outdoor living spaces in the back and the front of the house.

Oh Pinterest is so fun. I could keep going and going! Check out all of my other design ideas on my Pinterest boards.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Love Dreams!

Let me introduce you to the most delicious dessert you will ever meet...

This little delight is a Love Dream. A Love Dream is basically what you may know as a gooey butter cake. The recipe is slightly different than many gooey butter cake recipes I have seen (mainly it does not use vanilla extract), and in my opinion it is the absolute best. Plus, how could you not love a dessert called a Love Dream?!

They are cakey, ooey, gooey, creamy, sweet, sugary, oh my....I could go on and on. I could literally sit down and eat about 5 or 6 at once. If you think I am kidding you must not know me very well and/or you have never tasted the joy that is a Love Dream.

Love Dreams

1 box yellow cake mix
3 eggs
1 stick butter melted
1 package cream cheese, softened (8 oz.)
1 box confectioner's sugar (16 oz.)

Mix together cake mix, one egg, and melted butter to make a stiff dough. Press into a greased 9x12 pan. In another bowl beat together the two remaining eggs, cream cheese, and confectioner's sugar, reserving about 1/8 cup of the sugar. Pour over dough in pan. Bake at 350 degrees for about 35 minutes until the top is golden brown. Sprinkle the top with remaining sugar immediately after removing from the oven. Let cool overnight before cutting.

This is my mother-in-law's recipe and I remember her telling me once that she cut it out of the newspaper many years ago. So, whoever submitted this recipe to a newspaper long ago, thank you! And thank you to my fantastic mother-in-law for introducing me to the yumminess that is Love Dreams!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

A Picture is Worth...

A thousand words actually its priceless. Hubby and I were so thankful to have one of my very best friends, Crissy, take some maternity pictures for us. We spent a fun morning at Maymont Park here in Richmond soaking up the sun, doing way more hiking and walking than we planned, and taking some pictures.

It was not only really special to have a good friend take these pictures for us, but it made things way easier when I felt like a total dork posing and pasting on my smile. Especially when we were around tons of people.....Don't worry about me I'm just lounging on the rocks like a beached whale pregnant model. Oh excuse me, you can't walk across these stepping stones right now because there is a photo sesh taking place. Be out of your way in just a moment!

There were so many good pictures that it was hard for me to only pick a few to share with you all, but I did my best.

I think this one is my ultimate fave:

When Crissy shared this picture on FB she said it "captures my pregnancy", which I really love, and when I think about it its pretty true. I have had plenty of ups and downs, and I haven't felt amazing every single day, but this pregnancy has been such a blessing and positive fun experience. I attribute it to keeping a positive grateful attitude, finding {or at least trying to} the positives in every situation, and drinking a ton of water {hey, I think it makes a difference!} :)

Here are a few others I loved:

And as some of you may know, hubby and I like to be goofy together...

Didn't Crissy do an amazing job?! It's hard to believe photography is just a hobby for her. I love how all of the pictures turned out. She does have a business though...

Check out that beautiful quilt I am laying on! It was made by Crissy as a gift for Emma. I just love it! Check out her Facebook page here.

I hope you enjoyed getting a peek at our maternity session. It's hard to believe that the next pictures coming up are Emma's newborn pictures! Yikes!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Say What, Grilled Salad?!

When making our grocery list this weekend, hubby and I really tried to think of items we already had at home that we could turn into meals. With it being the end of the month the grocery budget was looking slim (read my post about budgeting here), and we wanted needed to challenge ourselves to keep the grocery bill small.

Side note: This is the kind of fun part of having a budget and sticking to it...we are forced to be creative, and it feels really good to know we are not being wasteful because we are using items that would otherwise get ignored or go bad sitting in the pantry.

Our challenge: A package of frozen chicken breast tenders and week old crusty white bread
BTW--the bread was left over from some rocking Mediterranean paninis. Long story short...slice and butter your bread. Fill with slices of fresh mozzarella cheese, roasted red peppers, and olive tapenade. Grill on a panini press, George Foreman, or in a plain old pan!

The solution: Grilled Chicken Caesar Salad

The result: Total deliciousness! 

The Ingredients:

Stale crusty bread
Garlic powder
Olive oil
Chicken breast tenders
Caesar dressing
Romaine hearts
Shaved parmesan cheese

The recipe:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Cut your stale bread into cubes. Put the bread cubes onto a baking sheet and brush (or drizzle) with olive oil. Season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste. The more seasoning the better, in my opinion. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.

Rinse and pat dry your chicken tenders. Put them into a bowl with some caesar dressing to marinate. *We used a vinaigrette based caesar. I am not sure how creamy caesar would grill up...probably not well.

Cut your romaine hearts in half, leaving on the bottom core to keep the lettuce together. Brush both sides of the romaine with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Once your grill is preheated (medium-high to high heat) put your chicken tenders on to start grilling. Once they are halfway done put on your lettuce. You will grill the romaine until it has a light char on both sides.

To serve--Cut off bottom core from romaine hearts and put onto your plate. Top with several grilled chicken tenders, homemade croutons, and shaved parmesan cheese. Drizzle with dressing and enjoy!

Here is the dressing that we used:

I know that ideally homemade dressing is the best, but sometimes you just need to go with bottled. Plus, do you know what the "secret" ingredient is in caesar dressing?! I don't like to think about it, and I am certainly not going to try and make it myself! I love buying Newman's Own dressing when I get the bottled stuff because it is all natural and the profits go to, win!

I served the salads with some fresh watermelon for a light summer meal. I had fun pulling out our summer picnic ware to create a nice dinner on the deck for me and hubby!

Have you ever grilled lettuce? It was a first for us and we loved how it turned out. Yum!

Monday, May 20, 2013

A New Fave & 2 Recipes

Breakfast is usually a hard meal for me to figure out. I need something filling with protein to get me through the morning, but I am perpetually running late, and I never have the time or energy to bother with an elaborate breakfast.

Recently I have been enjoying a yogurt parfait for breakfast. I make it with my new fave yogurt, Kroger brand {fat free} vanilla greek yogurt sweetened with Stevia. I love that it is quick to make, and if I am really running late I can throw it in a container and take it to work with me.

Reasons I am obsessed with this yogurt: it has the perfect amount of sweetness and vanilla flavor, it is loaded with protein, it is fat free, it is all natural, and it is sweetened with Stevia! Stevia is a plant based calorie free sweetener that is considered a safer alternative to artificial calorie free sweeteners. Although I have recently read several articles that claim Stevia is not as safe as people believe...who this rate anything and everything we are exposed to is toxic, unless you live a 100% clean eating lifestyle, which as much as I would love to, is insanely hard to do.

Once I get some of my yummy yogurt into the bowl I top it with Kashi GoLean Crunch cereal (also high in protein) and fresh fruit. Last week's choice was cantaloupe. The cantaloupes I have had so far this year are already so sweet and juicy, yum! I have also used blueberries, strawberries, and pineapple to make my parfaits. Here is a past post about a blueberry yogurt parfait I made.

Because I was so excited about my yogurt I decided to try it another way by making a delish dip I found via Pinterest.

This dip combines vanilla greek yogurt, honey, cinnamon, and peanut butter. I used mine as a dip for apples, but honestly it was so delish I could just eat it with a spoon for dessert. As is typical I didn't measure. I just spooned a little of each into a dish and mixed it up, but here is the source where I got the recipe and she shares her measurements.

Do you have any other yummy ways you use vanilla greek yogurt? Now that I am obsessed with it I am anxious to try it in some other recipes. What about Stevia? Do you use it or do you prefer another natural sweetener?

FYI--This post was not sponsored. All opinions are unsolicited and 100% my own.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Going Bananas!

Well, I am going bananas for two reasons. One, I just made a delicious Chocolate Chip Banana Oatmeal Bread, and to the end of my post and see.

I was recently faced with the problem of 2 over ripe bananas. I thought about making my Healthy 3 Ingredient Cookies, but decided to switch it up and make something heartier instead. I decided on an oatmeal banana bread.

I found this Weight Watchers recipe, and changed it up a little to make it what I wanted.

Chocolate Chip Banana Oatmeal Bread

1 1/4 c. all purpose unbleached flour
1/2 c. light brown sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. cinnamon
3 tsp. canola oil
1 egg, beaten
2 egg whites, beaten (not to peaks or anything...just mix 'em up with your fork a little)
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 large over ripe bananas
1 c. uncooked old fashioned oats
1/2 c. mini chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a loaf pan, set aside. In a large bowl mix together all dry ingredients. Add in eggs, oil, and vanilla extract, and mix well.

In a small bowl mash the bananas with a fork. Add bananas, oatmeal, and chocolate chips to the batter and mix well.

Pour batter into the greased loaf pan and bake 40-50 minutes until the top is golden brown, and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.

This bread was super delicious! Not quite as healthy with the chocolate chips added, but chocolate makes everything better, and if you don't believe that then I am very sorry because you are missing out. I also love that this recipe is really simple. Don't get me wrong, I love my Kitchenaid mixer, but the dang thing is so heavy to drag around. It's nice to throw everything in a bowl, mix it up, and be done.

I am a total dork, because as I started writing this post it made me think that I remember making a bread like this one other time. Well friends, I did. Click here to read my post about my Low Fat Oatmeal Banana Nut Bread. I liked this version better because of the chocolate, much easier recipe, and while still dense it did seem to be more moist than my other version (if I am remembering correctly!). Reason number two that I am going bananas. As in...Losing.My.Mind.


Monday, May 6, 2013

Bonnets, Birdies, and Pearls

First...holy cow, I can't believe it's been a month since I have chatted with you all!!! I have been so consumed with enjoying (and checking things off of the to-do list) during these last few months of pregnancy, that the blog has fallen to the bottom of the list. Although, the thing I love about blogging is that even when I take a break it is still here waiting, and all of my bloggy friends are still out there too (I hope!).

A few weekends ago I had my baby shower. It was the most amazing weekend full of family, friends, good food, and of course fabulous baby goodies!

Two of my aunts hosted the shower, and it was held at my parent's house which means my mom was a huge part of the planning and preparation too. I can't even begin to describe the love and time that these three put into the shower.

Here are the, my mom, Aunt Kathy, and Aunt Darlene:

Here are some picture highlights of the theme and decorations. If I can get my act together I'll post a part 2 with more shower fun!

The entry way; thank you note station where guests addressed their envelopes (by the way...I AM working on those...40 thank yous is a lot to write!), filled out their note for mom and baby, and got their little clip for the baby game; the favor table--amazing handmade baby booties filled with chocolate, and yummy homemade sugar scrub in the cutest packaging you have ever seen.

The most fabulous diaper cake and sweet little bloomers, and a fun pink and pearl wreath!

The main room. The hosts and guests brought lots of sweet little bonnets and hats, several of which were displayed. There were also lots of pictures of hubby and I as babies, and of course everything was dripping with pearls. The centerpiece was the most beautiful bouquet of tulips and hydrangeas from the same florist that did my wedding, Richardson's. Their flowers are always amazing!

Since I am not big into party games there was a craftivity instead! Guests used the materials provided to make onesies for Emma. There were tracers, embellishments, fabric markers, and iron on fabric to create one of a kind designs.

Mmm, dessert! I had the most beautiful (and delicious!) cake which came from the same bakery that made my wedding cake, Desserts by Rita. The cake balls were even done in the same flavors of the layers that made up my wedding cake. What a sweet touch!

Some pretty pink dogwoods to add a touch of spring!

I hope you enjoyed a peek into my shower. It was such a wonderful and special day! Thank you to everyone who was a part of it.