Recipe: End of Summer Tomatoes and Whipped Feta

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Yep, this was as delicious as it looks.  I have a healthy obsession with anything that could be deemed bruschetta or crostini.  I call this a delectable form of bruschetta.  You have to try it…you really must.  It is a quick and easy appetizer or side.  But who am I kidding, I ate this for dinner.  A few pieces and even swiped my finger across the plate to get up the leftovers!

Ingredients

For The Whipped Feta:

8 ounces good feta, crumbled and at room temperature
3 ounces whipped cream cheese, at room temperature
2/3 cup good olive oil
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For The Roasted Tomatoes:

A container or two of cherry tomatoes, sliced in half o
Balsamic vinegar
Olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper and a pinch of sugar

Recipe:

For the whipped feta, place the feta and cream cheese in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Pulse until the cheeses are mixed. Add the olive oil, the lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and process until smooth.

For the tomatoes, line a baking sheet with aluminum foil (helps clean up faster).  Place the halved tomatoes on the sheet.  Sprinkle them with olive oil, kosher salt, pepper and a pinch of sugar.  Roast in at 250 degrees for around a hour.

To assemble the bruschetta, spread each slice of bread with a generous amount of whipped feta. With a spoon, place the tomatoes on top (I include the juice). Sprinkle with basil and serve.

If you make this at home, send me a message and a pic!  It is delicious!

 

Recipe: Crock Pot Honey Garlic Chicken

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It is that time of year again….time to break out the Crock Pot.  I’m bound and determined to use it more since I am finding it harder and harder to find time to make dinner. This was beyond easy and super tasty.  Five minutes of prep time.  Cook time: 6-7 hours on low, or 4-5 on high.  I didn’t take pics because I just wasn’t thinking about it as I was making it but look at the ingredient list.  7 ingredients is all it takes, folks!  Try it!

Ingredients

4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
4 garlic cloves, minced
⅓ cup honey
½ cup ketchup (you can also use low-sodium ketchup, if available)
½ cup low sodium soy sauce
½ teaspoon dried oregano
2 tablespoons fresh parsley
½ tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

Instructions

Arrange chicken thighs on the bottom of your slow cooker; set aside.
In a mixing bowl, combine garlic, honey, ketchup, soy sauce, oregano and parsley; whisk until thoroughly combined.
Pour the sauce over the chicken thighs.
Close with a lid and cook for 6 to 7 hours on LOW, or 4 to 5 hours on HIGH.*
Remove lid and transfer chicken to a serving plate.
Spoon the sauce over the chicken and sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds.

Notes
*165 degrees Fahrenheit is the safe internal temperature for both the white meat of the chicken and dark meat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taylor’s Milk and Cookies Baby Shower

We traveled home to NC over Memorial Day and I was one of many hostesses for my cousin Taylor’s baby shower.  We decided on a milk and cookies theme because if you know anything about Tay, she loves milk and sweets!  It was an absolute perfect day for an outdoor shower and we were lucky enough to host it at Shuford House DSC_1950in downtown Hickory.  It DSC_1949was such a lovely location that a wedding party showed up for photos.

We decided on a rustic theme with light coral and light aqua as our color selection.  Those colors are some of Tay’s favorites.  My super crafty cousin and sister to the mom-to-be, Mackenzie Queen, made most of the decorations with a little help from the rest of the hostesses.  She has her own store and makes the cutest home decor.  Check it out at D&M Designs.

 

Here are some of her creations used at the shower.

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If you noticed the bows and mustaches in the pic, my dear friend Kristen Lail made these and man, were they super nice.  She brought them with her all the way from Cali!  Here is the tutorial.  The Take A Guess chalkboard was courtesy of Homegoods and will go in Baby Pugh’s nursery!  Tay took it home and we will see soon, who was the closest!  We also used If You Give A Mouse A Cookie for a guest book and we also sent the guests home with a big cookie!

Another important aspect to this baby shower was the food.  All the food you see is gluten free because Taylor has celiac disease.  Although you would think it would be tough to come up with cookies, baked goods and desserts that are gluten free, it wasn’t at all!  Everything we made fit the bill!

On the menu, we had milk shake shooters that were as simple as making vanilla and chocolate milkshakes and pouring it into shot glasses.  Another fantastic treat were the gluten free chocolate chip cookies by Immaculate Baking Co!  These are the best gluten free cookies I have ever had and they are take and bake straight from Harris Teeter.  Other stores carry them as well.  We also served rice krispy treats, cupcakes from My Local Bakery, fruit skewers, and strawberry lemonade push pops (recipe courtesy of Push-up Pops by Courtney Dial Whitmore).

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Get these shot glasses off of Amazon or any kitchen supply website!

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Best Gluten free cookies ever! The jar should say Baby Pugh! My brain is mush!

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The cupcake stand was courtesy of Mac! The adorable pendants were bought on easy at angieheartsjared.

 

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These are beyond easy and great for kids and adults! The wood blocks were made by John! Drill some holes and paint!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Cutting up the fruit and threading on the skewer takes some time but the presentation makes it worth it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The buffet came together beautifully thanks to a fantastic group of ladies!

For beverages, we provided a milk bar, tea, and flavored water with small milk bottles for cups.

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These bottles were adorable and reusable!

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Love the mason jar drink dispensers!

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Got to have all 3: Strawberry, Chocolate and Just Plain-o Milk!

Here is a few shots of the shower!

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Mom-to-Be Tay, Aunt-to-Be Mac and Grandma-to-Be Patty

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Tay and the Hostesses!

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This is our Grandmother Marge and her granddaughters. She turned 88! We sang Happy Birthday to her!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tay, we hope you enjoyed your self and we can’t wait to meet Baby Pugh!

A few of my favorite things…April

I figured I would start sharing some of my favorite things each month. I love it when people open my eyes to new places to eat, new gadgets, new fashion trends (not that I am very good at following them),  and just generally things I love this month.

So….here we go!

Pork Dumplings from Toki Underground. I went to an event at Union Market in April called Thread and it was full of fantastic fashion, home decor and of course food. Toki Underground was a pop up that was only staying for a few weeks in the market and it has been there for months now. These dumplings are unbelievable. My friend Katie, my sis and I were laughing as people actually ran after the trays just to snag one of these.

Chromecast…..35 dollars and endless possibilities. John and I are constantly behind the curve on the latest technology but at least we try to catch up.  This is my new favorite toy. I am catching up on Scandal, Game of Thrones, and House of Cards. Not to mention, there are so many cartoons and movies for the boys to watch. Strangely, my boys have become obsessed with Super Mario Bros. Super Show. In case you don’t remember, this show came out when I was young. It starred WWE Hall of Famer Lou Albano as Mario.  I wouldn’t say it was an award winner but then again, my boys love it.  t think it has to do with Colton’s obsession with Super Mario World on the Wii.

My Tieks!  Seriously, the best flats I have ever owned.  If you don’t have a pair, pay the price.  They are worth it.  They have a good sole, my feet never hurt even after wearing them all day, and they come in cool packaging.  I mean seriously, everyone loves to get a pretty package!

Klorane Extra Dry Shampoo is making my life easy.  Most of you know how thick my hair is and I really don’t need to wash it but every few days.  This stuff makes it last another day.  Lots of people don’t like dry shampoo but this one has a good smell.  Major downer…small in size.  I also use Dove Dry Shampoo.  It is way cheaper and just as good!

Moving onto my favorite things: BOOKS!  The list goes on and on!  This month has been a book winner…here goes:

The King by J.R. Ward. Seriously one of the best paranormal series I have ever read and this book in the series brings us full circle back to Wrath and Beth.

Bad for You by Abbi Glines. This lady’s Seabreeze series is fantastic. Love the characters and all the interplay. Krit, the lead singer of Jackdown, is to die for. I have been waiting for his story for too long.  I can’t wait to meet her this weekend at the DC Author event.

Sweet Reckoning by Wendy Higgins.  DC local and author of this amazon Young Adult trilogy knocks my socks off.  This is the last of Kaidan and Anna and I loved every minute of it.  Excited to meet her too this weekend!

Nash by Jay Crownover.  One of her Marked Men series.  These guys are a great group and Nash proves no different.  This is the first one where I actually cried.  I was surprised I loved Nash so much but he may end up being my favorite.

Out of Mind by Jen McLaughlin.  Another trilogy coming to an end.  Finn and Carrie are a favorite couple.  Read them all!

Reasonable Doubt by Whitney Gracia Williams.  This is a serial and a hot, steamy one.  I am patiently waiting for part 2.

The Proposition 4 by H.M. Ward.  She is the queen of serials and the Ferro brothers.  I just wrote a review on this one.  Bryan may be my new have Ferrro but I am not sure how long he will be around!

As far as TV goes: you all know I love The Following.  Kevin Bacon is the best!  I can’t believe the season finale and I am hating we have to wait half a year for another season.

Suits:  John and I love this show.The cliffy with Mike leaving is so not cool but back on in June!  Answers soon! Woohoo!

Scandal, seriously where have I been. I can’t get enough of this show and thank you to my Chromecast, I am all caught up! Well, I have another season to go….I mean the angst between Olivia and the President. The First Lady, man, she takes scorned to a whole new level. Olivia’s staff…love them all.

Don’t let me forget my new favorite anthem….Ain’t it Fun by Paramore.  I listen to this on repeat!  Hayley William’s voice is one of the best out there!

Easter and Spring.  My kids love Easter eggs.  I love them too just hate putting them back together.  I love going to church with my family and seeing everyone in my hometown of Bethlehem.

I love fresh flowers.  They make me happy so I am trying to keep them around the house!

Coop’s Bday.  He has a good birthday month.  He was so excited this year about everything birthday!  We celebrated at Mamaw and Papaw’s and had a Minion themed birthday party!  We all enjoyed it!

That’s it for April!

 

Most of the links are to Amazon and they are not sponsoring this post.  I just happen to use Amazon…a lot.

Tomato& Goat Cheese Tarts…

For those of you who know me, you know I love to cook.  For those of you who don’t know me, that doesn’t mean I am a chef.  I am very competent at following a recipe and absolutely love the whole process of making a meal.  Caveat:  I do not bake.  I cook.  This recipe is exceptional and is found in one of my favorite cookbooks of all times….Barefoot Contessa, Back to Basics.  I have dog eared so many recipes in this one book.  I say if you don’t have it, buy it.

Tomato and Goat Cheese Tarts has a few steps and I am not going to lie, it takes a bit of time; however, the results are so worth it.  It is a great option for a vegetarian dinner as well and I have a few vegetarians in my friend group. So let’s begin….I even have pics!

IMG_3842First thing, preheat oven to 425.  If you are unfamiliar with puff pastry, acquaint yourself with it.  It is a fantastic ingredient.  For this recipe, just unfold a puff pastry sheet on a floured surface (don’t forget to flour your roller) and roll it lightly into an 11×11 square.  Now, that is the instructions from Ina Garten. I just rolled it out.  I’m not really a measurer.  I use one of my cup saucers and cut out two circles from each sheet. Then I take a knife out and score around each circle leaving an 1/4 inch border.  Take a fork and prick the center and sprinkle on some parmesan.

IMG_3843Then you are going to cut 2 large onions into slices and sauté them for about 20 minutes or so.  Throw in 3 slivered cloves of garlic.  When there is hardly any moisture, add the wine, thyme, salt and pepper.  Cook another 10 minutes and remove remove from heat.

Place 1/4 of the onion mixture on each circle, again staying within the scored edge. Crumble 1 ounce of goat cheese on top of the onions. Place a slice of tomato in the center of each tart. Brush the tomato lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with basil, salt, and pepper. Finally, scatter 4 or 5 shards of Parmesan on each tart.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the pastry is golden brown. The bottom sheet pan may need an extra few minutes in the oven. Serve hot or warm.

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Here is a good set of pics to show you the final steps!  This is really tasty and especially if it is still warm.  I am thinking about making this for a bridal shower but in mini appetizer size!  I will post pics if I do!

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Pokey Sticks….makes me miss Chapel Hill!

This recipe could not be more dead on the money for pokey sticks.  Reminds me of late nights at the sorority house with my friends!  These are a crowd pleaser and so easy to make.  If you don’t want to make the dough from scratch, I would suggest just buying dough from your local pizza place or grocery store.  Also, I use my Lodge pizza pan in the oven and let it get nice and hot then use my wooden pizza paddle to move it into the oven.  Don’t forget to use cornmeal for an easy transition!

Enjoy!

Recipe is courtesy of http://onepreppycookie.blogspot.com/2012/03/gumbys-pokey-stix-copycat-recipe.html

Pokey Stix
Inspiration from Gumby’s Pizza

For the Topping: 
(Note: I doubled this topping recipe as I used the entire pizza crust recipe below.)
2 Tbls Parmesan Cheese
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/4 cup margarine, melted
1 cup Mozzarella Cheese

For the Pizza Dough:
Ingredients:
½ cup warm water 
1 envelope instant yeast
1 ¼ cups water, room temperature
2 tbsp. olive oil
4 cups bread flour, plus more for dusting
1 ½ tsp. salt
Olive oil or non-stick cooking spray for greasing the bowl

Directions for the Pizza Crust:
Measure the warm water into a 2-cup liquid measuring cup. Sprinkle in the yeast and let stand until the yeast dissolves and swells, about 5 minutes. Add the room temperature water and oil and stir to combine. 

Place the flour and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Briefly combine the dry ingredients at low speed. Slowly add the liquid ingredients and continue to mix at low speed until a cohesive mass forms. Stop the mixer and replace the paddle with the dough hook. Knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Form the dough into a ball, put it in a deep oiled bowl, and cover with plastic wrap. Let rise until doubled in size, about 1 ½ to 2 hours. Press the dough to deflate it.

To bake, place a pizza stone in the lower third of the oven. Heat the oven to 500° for at least 30 minutes. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface. Let the dough relax for at least 10 minutes but no more than 30 minutes.

Working with one piece of dough and keeping the other covered, shape the dough and transfer to a pizza peel or round of parchment dusted with cornmeal. Top as desired. Slide the dough onto the pizza stone. Bake until the crust edges brown and cheese is golden brown in spots, about 8 to 12 minutes. 

Directions for the topping:
Combine all ingredients except for mozzarella cheese. Spread mixture all over pizza dough. Top with cheese. See baking directions in pizza crust recipe above.

French Onion Soup Recipe

Well, I said I would jump around in what I posted on the blog!  I did a few book reviews and now onto a favorite family recipe: French Onion Soup.  This happens to be one of my husband’s favorite soups so we make it quite a few times when the weather is chilly.

I thought I would give you a few pics to show you all the steps.

You will need the following ingredients:
1/2 cup unsalted butter
4 onions, sliced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 bay leaves
2 fresh thyme sprigs
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup red wine, about 1/2 bottle
3 heaping tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 quarts beef broth
1 baguette, sliced
1/2 pound grated Gruyere
Directions


Melt the stick of butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, bay leaves, thyme, and salt and pepper and cook until the onions are very soft and caramelized, about 25 minutes. 


Add the wine, bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer until the wine has evaporated and the onions are dry, about 5 minutes. Discard the bay leaves and thyme sprigs. 






Dust the onions with the flour and give them a stir. Turn the heat down to medium low so the flour doesn’t burn (I forgot to take a photo of this step), and cook for 10 minutes to cook out the raw flour taste. Now add the beef broth, bring the soup back to a simmer, and cook for 10 minutes. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper.




When you’re ready to eat, preheat the broiler.
Ladle the soup into bowls, top each with 2 slices of bread and top with cheese. Put the bowls into the oven to toast the bread and melt the cheese.


Final product = Yummy!