Thursday, January 13, 2011

Book Club

Last night consisted of the following: girlfriends+wine+food+books...SO.MUCH.FUN!

We have been trying to meet for book club but it has been so hard with everyone's work schedule. There was finally a night everyone could meet and we all jumped at the opportunity. We braved the snow/ice and spent the night staying warm with wine and food. We each brought a bottle of wine, a fun appetizer and/or dessert to share and lots of book suggestions. When we got there, Paula had sent her husband out to get wine and he came back with 2 cases. about a great husband!

It was so nice to sit with new girlfriends, laugh, drink and have some great conversation. I know it sounds silly to some, but I didn't fully appreciate what I had in Charlotte. I always had Kelly next door/in my house, or my Tuesday night bible study girls, or a short walk to the Bruce's or even a quick drive to my West Girls. New friendships are just what the doctor order and I'm so thankful for them.

I was excited to try a new recipe to bring to book club. My friend, Catherine, is all around AMAZING-friend, wife, mother, baker and cook. She has some great recipes so check out her blog and be prepared for a taste of heaven! Catherine has been blessed with the fastest metabolism known to man and doesn't use anything "light" I only can try her recipes every so often. :)

Hot Blue Cheese and Pecan Dip

2 8oz. packages of cream cheese, softened
8 oz. crumbled blue cheese
1/2 cup chopped pecans
2 T. butter
3/4 c. soft bread crumbs
1/4 c. fresh parsley
1 T. butter

Toast pecans in 2 tablespoons of butter in a small skillet over medium heat for 3-4 minutes. Keep stirring them so they don't burn. Remove them from the heat and allow to cool as you mix the cream cheese and blue cheese together with a mixer. Stir in pecans and spoon this mixture into a greased baking dish (pie plate, 8x8 or whatever you have around).

Combine the breadcrumbs, parsley and 1 tablespoon of butter and sprinkle it over the cheese dip. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes and serve with apple slices and crackers or pita chips.
(I thought the apples slices would be weird but they were amazing so you HAVE to try it...I also used reduced fat everything and it still tasted great!)

Another good one

Can you tell I'm not traveling this week?!? I am actually in Knoxville for 10 straight days...YAY!!! We haven't made a major grocery run in a very long time so I have been itching to make one. I prepared Mike for the damage that was about to me made, created a list, gathered my coupons and headed to the store. Let's just say I did some MAJOR damage, but our fridge and pantry are stocked now.
Because of the travel free week AND the snow, I knew this would be a good week to try new recipes.

This week we enjoyed a healthy new one...Crock Pot Chicken Taco Chili.
A friend sent me this website and Gina seems to have some good ones.
It was super easy to make, tasted great and made 10 servings. We have lots of individual containers in the freezer now. I have been doing this a ton so Mike will always have dinners when I'm traveling...yep, trying to be a good wife.
Here's the recipe with a few of my variations.

Crock Pot Chicken Taco Chili
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 16-oz can black beans
  • 1 16-oz can kidney beans
  • 1 16-oz can chili beans
  • 1 14-oz can tomato sauce
  • 1 16-oz can sweet corn
  • 2 14.5-oz cans diced tomatoes w/chilies (or chili ready diced tomatoes)
  • 1 packet taco seasoning
  • 1 tbsp cumin
  • 1.5 tbsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 3-4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
Combine beans, onion, chili peppers, corn, tomato sauce, cumin, chili powder and taco seasoning in a slow cooker. Place chicken on top and cover. Cook on high for 4.5-5 hours. Half hour before serving, remove chicken and shred. Return chicken to slow cooker and stir in. Top with fresh cilantro.
Servings: 10 Size: 1 1/4 cups

*I added a little ff sour cream and shredded cheese on top. You can also enjoy the chili on top of some rice...haven't tried that one yet.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Southern Favorite

Since one of my 2011 goals was to "try new recipes", I'm going to post more on my blog!
Over break, I found so many great recipes that I want to try this year. Organizing ALL my Cooking Light recipes and finally catching up on my favorite food blogs helped me uncover some great ones.
I also "warned" Mike that I am going to try some new ingredients when cooking...hopefully we will find some new favorites!
In the mean time, here was the crowd pleaser over Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Crock-pot Mac & Cheese


  • 2 1/2 cups uncooked whole wheat elbow macaroni
  • 4 tablespoons light butter, cut into pieces
  • 2 cups 2% shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 3/4 cup shredded Vermont white sharp cheddar
  • 1/2 cup shredded Dubliner cheese
  • 3 egg whites, beaten
  • 1/2 cup light sour cream
  • 1 (10 3/4-ounce) can condensed Cheddar cheese soup
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup skim milk
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Boil the macaroni in saucepan until tender. Drain. In a medium saucepan, mix butter and cheese (save some of the cheddar, white vermont & Dubliner to sprinkle on top at the end of cooking). Stir until the cheese melts. In your crock-pot, combine cheese/butter mixture and add the eggs, sour cream, soup, salt, milk, mustard, garlic and pepper and stir well. Then add drained macaroni and stir again. Set the slow cooker on low setting and cook for 2 hours, stirring occasionally. Then sprinkle the remaining cheeses on top. Let cook for another 15-30 minutes then enjoy!

(credit- I adapted this recipe from one Paula Dean originally created)

Monday, January 10, 2011


We went bowling this weekend with some of our friends and had such a great night. Bowling in Knoxville is a bit different than Charlotte.

Example #1
Couches-yes, you get to lounge on couches while you wait for your turn to bowl!
Example #2
No pitchers of beer-only 16oz cans OR jello shots. Yes, random

We are all thinking a bowling league might be more our speed once the indoor soccer season is over...less injuries for sure. My knee is still swollen/black & blue from our game last week. Can't wait to see what kind of injuries occur this week :)

Sunday, January 9, 2011


"A goal without a plan is just a wish"
A friend told me that quote back in college and I still remember it b/c I think it's very true!

Mike & I have been talking about our goals for the year over the last couple of weeks. I'm not a huge fan of "new years resolutions"...but I would rather call them "goals of the year".
I really agree with this quote though. If you want to achieve something, you need to put an action plan in place or it just becomes a wish you may never attain.

Here are just a few that showed up on our lists:
-try new recipes and foods
-run more races (we have already signed up for a few!)
-explore Knoxville
-embrace the budget (Mike made me agree to this one)

We have gotten off to a great start and are excited about 2011!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Under a Rock

We spent a few days in the NC Mountains and rang in the New Year with friends. As usual, I enjoyed the fellowship, food and drinks...but I had the most fun playing new games. Apparently I have been living under a rock when it comes to the game department. I learned to play "Jenga" and I have to admit that it was more fun that I first thought. But my new addiction was called "Mexican Train Dominoes". We played this game for hours and had a blast! If you haven't played, go buy it...if you plan to hang out with me soon then expect to be forced to play.

I also spent lots of time reading. I started the new trilogy set that Mike bought me...Hunger Games. I was a little skeptical of these books but heard they are as popular as the Twilight books and really good. So far so good!!
Has anyone else ever read these books?