Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Cold Refreshing Beverages

We finally broke out the new margarita machine on Friday night. It was nice to start the long weekend with a cool refreshing beverage.  
 We started with the essential ingredients, later learning that the frozen bacardi mixers work better.
 I was very excited to learn how to use it. It is very simple, you just select 1, 2 or 3 drinks and the press shave ice and blend setting.
 Perfect frozen drinks every time!
 David grilled up some chicken apple sausage for us.
And we enjoyed dinner outside.
David and Dana were in the neighborhood after they went to dinner so they came over to have one of the first drinks from the margarita machine. Other David made a funny comment about how this better go on the blog (I can't remember his exact words) but it was definitely monumental enough to go on the blog. Cheers!
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Friday, May 27, 2011

Memorial Weekend BBQ Potlucks- Memphis Style Coleslaw & Baked Beans

This weekend officially kicks off the barbecue season with memorial day. Although its been nice and toasty here, we've been bbq'ing since April. I had another recipe to add to this, but blogger decided to delete the photos when I pressed the undo button for something and now they are gone. That recipe will have to wait. I made these recipes for David's 30th Birthday.
Memphis-Style Coleslaw from Our Best Bites. This recipe is easy and delicious.
1 c. mayonnaise 
2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 heaping tsp. Kosher salt
1 Tbsp. onion powder
2-2 1/2 tsp. celery seed (don't leave this out)
1 16-oz. bag shredded cabbage with carrots
1/2 minced green bell pepper
1 carrot, peeled and grated
Combine mayonnaise, mustard, vinegar, sugar, salt, onion, and celery seed.
In a large bowl, combine shredded cabbage, carrots and green pepper.
Toss with dressing and refrigerate for at least 2-3 hours. This stays good for a couple days if you want to make it ahead of time. 

The next bbq favorite is Southern Style Baked Beans from The Pioneer Woman. I am not a huge baked beans fan, but these are sweet tasting and amazing!
8 slices bacon, halved (I used turkey bacon and didn't have a lot of the bacon grease that is needed, you can add a little olive oil if you want to make up for it)
1 medium onion, cut into small dice
1/2 medium green pepper, cut into small dice
3 large cans (28 ounces each) pork and beans
3/4 cup barbecue sauce
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup distilled or cider vinegar
 2 tablespoons Dijon Mustard
Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees. Fry bacon in large, deep sauté pan skillet until bacon has partially cooked and released about 1/4 cup drippings. Remove bacon from pan and drain on paper towels. This is where I just added some extra olive oil since my turkey bacon didn't produce drippings.
Add onions and peppers to drippings in pan and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes.
Add beans and remaining ingredients bring to a simmer.
Pour flavored beans into a greased 13-by 9-inch (or similar size) ovenproof pan. Top with bacon, then bake until beans are bubbly and sauce is the consistency of pancake syrup, about 2 hours. Let stand to thicken slightly and serve. I don't have an after picture, but trust me when I say they taste amazing!
Hope everyone has a great memorial day weekend and thank you to all our troops!
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Thursday, May 26, 2011

Verde Taqueria Night Out!

On Saturday after our neighborhood pool party we headed to Lacey's new town house to check it out. It has so much space and I love what they have all done with the place even after only moving in that day. Leah and Kyle met us there and we all went to dinner.
Since we all live in diff. parts of Atlanta it was nice to meet in the middle at Lacey's place. We went to eat at Verde and I LOVED it.
It is in a very cool area with shops, apartments and restaurants.
The menu is different than a regular Mexican restaurant, they have a list of tacos that you choose from and then your sides. David and I each choose 3 diff. tacos and skipped the sides. Some of the choices were buffalo chicken tacos...
Fried Calamari tacos (David's favorite)...
Pulled Pork Tacos with coleslaw topping (my favorite and pictured above), fried chicken tacos, steak fajita tacos, shrimp tacos, tilapia tacos, etc.. I really loved choosing and trying a bunch of different ones.
It's always the best time when we all hang out and we enjoyed great conversation and yummy margaritas.
Look how cute they are! I just love their little family.
Lacey and Levi. He helped move all day and they were still going strong at dinner, very impressive.
We got to sit on the patio and enjoy the BEAUTIFUL weather. It gets really hot during the day but as the sun is setting it is perfect out.
We got a little sun burned that day at the pool, hence my lovely bathing suit lines.
Look at the pretty princess, so cute.
Group shot! We finally got someone to take our photo and look what happened. Poor David, he tries so hard that the pressure of the 1-2-3 must get to him. It's still a great photo of us all (we'll have to try again next time.) Are we all wearing blue? How did we not notice this? Such a fun time, wish we could do it more often. Pin It

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Summer Goals & Plans

With today being my sister's last full day of school for the year, it got me thinking about upcoming summer goals and plans. Back to that in a second, first off how lucky is she!?! She is excited to say the least. She has a fun June ahead of her from road tripping it for 2 weeks to a nice California vacation planned. I am jealous of her plans and her career choice at this current time.
I could be a teacher right? Remember when I went to her classroom to teach, I pulled it off for the 2 minutes I was up there. I am going to take some days off to join her for the NY part of her road trip, but I will be flying (she'll be jealous of me by that point of her trip.) I am also the dog/cat sitter during some of her journey, can't wait to see my pup and cat nieces.
Summer Goals & Plans-
I think its nice to think ahead and start planning for a chunk of time. The summer seems like a good span of time to set some goals and be accountable. David will be starting an online class for work that will span until October. The class is most the day on Saturdays so I will need to keep myself busy.
I have decided to learn some Italian for our trip! I will be starting Rosetta Stone (I think) to learn the basics to get around Italy. I will also be planning and booking the Italy trip by reading my Italy 2011 book I showed you yesterday.
We hope to take a little break to celebrate our 2 year wedding anniversary and possibly go to this place. The Biltmore! We have some hotel points that we want to use to stay close and visit the Biltmore to save some money.
We will also be starting some of the renovations on the house. We hope to tile the laundry room and spare bathroom this weekend. Since the classes are on Saturdays the DIY items might be on hold for a long while, we'll still be able to get counter tops and carpet just not the master bath project.
I also mentioned yesterday that peak tomato season is Georgia is in July so we hope to have a Canning Party. Other than that I see a lot of pool time and margaritaville margarita time in our future. What are your summer goals and plans? Pin It

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Thing I'm Lovin'

I recently purchased a bunch of things that I love and want to share with you. I know these are going to be materialistic things, just know that I do love a lot of people, but for this post its all about things. A few months ago we got a $100 AMEX gift card from work for being awesome so most of these purchases were my splurge items for that.
 I LOVE these roses that David got me this weekend. They are spray/mini roses and I love all the tightness of the layers. So beautiful.
I am loving this storage ottoman I got from Target for $16. I had a regular one that I set all my workout sheets, coupon organizer etc on, but it was an eye sore in our family room. This one allows me to open it up and nicely store my coupon organizers, magazines, weights and papers.
I am loving my Rick Steve's Italy 2011 book. It has fold out maps and is a great read. I am highlighting and taking notes like I am taking a college course. I love doing that, but I am basically rewriting the whole book in my notepad because I don't know much about Italy it seems.
I bought a steam mop! This is the Eureka 313A Enviro Hard-Surface Floor Steamer purchased from Amazon for $63. I LOVE it. The water heats up to 220 degrees so NO harsh chemicals needed! How green is that!? I read a ton of reviews (there is a great detailed comparison by someone already on amazon) and have already tried it out. It works on finished hardwood floors, ceramic tile, laminate etc. It works great, is super quiet and did I mention I love it.
Last but not least is my new KitchenAid Fruit/Vegetable Strainer and Food Grinder for Stand Mixers purchased for $34 from amazon. I am going to try canning my own tomatoes this year and since the machine we used this past september with my Grandma is up in NY (and I don't think she'll ever part with it) I found an alternative. This attaches to my kitchenaid mixer and will allow me to can tomatoes. It also has a grinder attachment so I can twice grind my meat (like Grandma does for her meatballs). I am excited to try it out this summer. Tomatoes are in season July in Georgia and September in NY. Any family reading this, we're setting a date in July so if you want in on any sauce this year, you must be in attendance!
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Monday, May 23, 2011

Recipe Index & Mexican Ground Turkey Quinoa Skillet

Pool season has officially started! We had a fun neighborhood opening party Saturday where David's parents DJ'ed the event and fun was had by all. Our 90 + degree weather made for a great start to pool season. I wanted to share a new feature that I added to the blog. Take a look on the right side, I made a recipe index so that you can easily sort the recipes. I had about 70 recipes that you would just have to load older pages until you found the one you were looking for. I have listed recipes by categories so that you can find them faster. Looks like I need to populate some of those categories.
Have you tried Quinoa yet? You REALLY need to. It is a great alternative to bad carbs with plenty of protein and essential nutrients. I purchased a HUGE thing of it from Costco and have yet to make anything with it. I came across this recipe from Debbie Does Dinner and LOVE all the flavors. I doubled the recipe and we ate it for dinner that whole week. 
Mexican Ground Turkey Quinoa Skillet
1 lb. ground turkey
1 large onion, chopped
1 red pepper, diced (optional)
1 (14 oz) can diced tomatoes (undrained)
1 (4 oz) can chopped chilies
1 cup quinoa, rinsed
1 1/2 cup water
1 1/2 tbsp. chili powder
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. coriander
1/2 tbsp. garlic
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 cups corn
2 green onions for garnish
Brown ground turkey and onions in a large skillet
As your meat is browning rinse your quinoa in water and strain it out (be careful the holes in your strainer, I lost a little bit of quinoa because it's so small.)
Stir in garlic, spices, and peppers.

Add diced tomatoes, chiles, quinoa, water and black beans. Stir and simmer, covered for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. I doubled the recipe so that's why it looks like my pan is going to overflow (I transferred to 2 pans shortly after.)
Add corn and cook for another 5 minutes or so until quinoa is done and most of the liquid is gone.
A good serving size is 2 cups with a nice side salad. Super healthy and delicious!
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Friday, May 20, 2011

Backpack for Italy

While we were at Kohls this past weekend spending some Kohls cash we came across this travel luggage bag.
We wanted a bag that is easily transportable, big enough and something I can wear as a back pack. Although we aren't back packing through Europe we will be traveling by train to at least 4/5 cities so we want to be easily mobile.
This bag should be a perfect size and also has extra front pockets and storage features.
One of the most awesome things about this bag is that it is 2 bags in 1! The front section comes off and can be used as a smaller back pack for traveling to sights! How awesome is that. We were sold on it after we realized this.
I think I am really going to like it. I have to pack it up and test it out with actual stuff in there. We got it for $100 and got $20 in Kohls cash so not a bad deal. David is going to borrow a friends bigger backpack so we should be able to fit everything.
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Thursday, May 19, 2011

Tomatoes Everywhere- Garden Update

Things are progressing very nicely in the garden so far. The watering system is performing quite well and in turn our plants are flourishing.
The strawberry plant I got is creating long vines which I hope are a good thing. Please note that our weed mat wasn't as tight around the edges so we had grass starting to poke out. You'll be happy to know I have pulled most the straggly grass out, it bothers me a lot.
The most exciting thing to me this year are the tomatoes. I tried them from seed last year and didn't get but a few green tomatoes. This time I went with transplants and they are growing like crazy. This is a picture of the Roma tomatoes. There are tomato buds everywhere!
I am really excited about them and hope they keep growing.
The other tomato plants are progressing just as nice.
Some other notes- for some reason my basil seeds are no good, none of my plants sprouted. Last year I had MEGA basil so there must be something wrong with the seeds. I went ahead and bought some basil plants this past weekend because I am really looking forward to making pesto this summer. How is your garden growing?
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