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Saturday, June 16, 2012

Heluva Good Queso

So as many of you may [or may not] know I just returned from a lovely beach vacay. While there, we had some good eats. Go figure, right? One of them being this deelicious queso. My god-mother is one of the original innovators [in my life] of the "use what you got" style of cooking. Her secret ingredient? Heluva Good French Onion Dip. Yep, you would be down right flabbergasted at the number of things she's thrown this yummy dip into. And guess what? It works... every time
This queso was definitely one of those times. 

Auntie Sam's Heluva Good Queso
  • 1 cup shredded cheese [whatever you have in your cheese drawer]
  • 1 cup jarred salsa [whatever you have in your pantry/fridge]
  • 1 [heaping] tbsp of Heluva Good French Onion Dip
  1. combine ingredients in a small, microwave-safe bowl. nuke for 1-2 minutes, or until cheese is melted. remove and stir well. 
  2. try not to scald yourself as you dive into this scrumptious dip. 

simple enough?
don't worry, it's deelicious enough too.

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Friday, June 15, 2012

Instagram - Week in Review 7

Summer is here. 
Can you smell it? Thought so. 
Smells like suntan lotion, honeysuckle, the farmers market, and magnolia blossoms.
Well at least that's what summer smells like to me. 
Life has been busy lately. But, that's just how I like it!
A full life is a happy life to me. 
Let's take a look back and see what life has been full of lately, shall we?
farmers market greens. nothing like'em. 
they taste even better than they look!

let me introduce you to my ultimate favorite salad dressing. 
on top of being the best tasting & most versatile bottled dressing I've ever had,
like all newman's own products, all profits go to charity. 
it's a good thing.

beautiful & bountiful summer salads.
full of sliced radishes, avocados, cucumbers, yellow tomatoes, and shredded carrots. 
yes. please. 

loving the top-knot. 
prefect hair-do for those hot-humidity filled days/nights. 

it's unreal how much I adore this furry mush. 

pretty summer clouds I like to refer to as "the simpsons" clouds. 
in fact I hear "the simpsons" theme song in my crazy head every time I see these fluffy things.
true story. 

this stuff smells ridiculously good. 
yes, I use it for myself.
no, I am not expecting. 

found: fabulous starburst mirror from home depot
say what?
yeah, you heard right.
thanks Marty Stewart!

new fave flavor combo:
strawberries + basil.
jump on it.

decade day @ school.
the 1700's?
you & one of my 4th graders guessed it.
[oh my my]

late night shot on location @ strong mansion during a catering job. 
goodnight moon. 

adorable end-of-unit projects presented by my kiddos. 
hard working students = proud teacher 

the models of maturity.

these hottie tottie jalapenos are growing on our front porch.

my momma's hope bracelet. 
she wears it as a prayer reminder for those she knows who are suffering.
special lady.

my killer-crazy shorts from target
I think I'm in love.

sometimes my food-blogger jargon gets the best of me. 

just creepin' on my hubby's ridiculously long lashes.
totally jealous over here. 

antipasta kebabs I made for one of my dearest friend's birthday. 
so simple to make -- just a little tedious -- but so worth it! 
just layer mini mozzarella balls, olives, salami, cooked tortellini, and grape tomatoes 
however you'd like. drizzle with lemon juice & chill before serving

pure joy is what you see on my face. 
that's what happens when I get to see one of my favorite little chunks. 
auntie sando's cup runneth over. 

Jeter the golden, got a little jealous. 
so he got some auntie sando lovin' too! 

crossing the bay bridge only means one thing. 
we're on the way to the BEACH!

helloooo vacation
and backpack chairs. 

steal magnolias. 
wait, steel magnolias?

boardwalk fries. 
my beach treat.
loaded with extra old bay & extra malt vinegar. 
yeaaah buddy.

being by the water makes my heart [and body]
jump for joy.

his love [and patience] 
also makes me quite joyful. 
wishing you all a happy weekend,
full of lots of joy
and remember...
"be kinder than necessary for everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle"


Thursday, June 14, 2012

Life's a beach

Greetings from the beach...where the livin' aint bad. Today, my biggest decision I've faced is if we're (hubster & I) going to play putt-putt before lunch or after dinner? Yep. BIG decisions people.This mini vacation is so needed. You know that saying "life is what happens while you're busy making plans." Well, I feel like I've been doing nothing but making plans lately. Mind you, good plans at that. But, I think my brain and body just needed a break. A break from a schedule or any sort of plans. Plus I cannot remember the last time my husband and I spent more than 12hrs together. {and usually 8 hrs of that involves snoozing} School is out and summer is officially here.What a better way to begin then breathing in some salty air, while being surrounded by the ones you love. 

Monday, June 11, 2012

Monday Giveaway!

And the winner is...Brookie!!
Brookie said...
Love, love, love these! I would use them as decorations in my wedding this september. After their use for the wedding, I would hang them in our room or above Oliver's crib like a modern mobile. :-) Every time I would look at them, I would think of our wedding day!
thanks so much to everyone for entering, 
and if you had your heart set on these flowers check out Apple's shop
& scoop some up for yourself :)

Mornin' lovies! Today you are in for a treat. My friend Apple over @ApplesModernArt is giving away these beautiful handmade stars. These things are just gorgeous and would be perfect for any kind of entertaining or home decor. If I could enter {and I would if I could} I would hang these precious things from my chandelier in my dining room for a dinner party!
 I credit Apple and her amazing shop for introducing me to Etsy about 5 years ago, and I've been obsessed ever since. Her work is incredible. She specializes in wedding accessories & each one of her pieces is made with tender love & care. Anyone's home or special event would be lucky to have one of her pieces! These would make a great gift. We are in wedding season after all ;)
To enter: go visit her shop right meow {now
then leave me a comment below telling me how you'll use these gorgeous stars
Giveaway ends Friday {6.15}

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Friday, June 8, 2012

Jalapeno Popper Chicken

Jalapeno Poppers may be one of my favorite "appetizers" or "finger-foods." 
To me, with the combo of salty, spicy, creamy, and crunchy... you can't really go wrong. 
So when I came across the idea to turn this first course into a main course, I was all for it! 
This chicken packs the same heat, salt, and creamy-melty textures as its infamous counterpart. 
Best part, it's pretty darn easy! 

Jalapeno Popper Chicken 
adapted from Rachael Ray Magazine 
serves 4 
  • 2 lbs chicken drumsticks
  • 1 cup [fat-free] plain cream cheese
  • 1 cup pickled jalapenos slices, chopped
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 2-3 tbsp of EVOO
  • salt & pepper to taste 
  1. begin by combining cream cheese and jalapenos in a small mixing bowl, set aside. 
  2. prepare chicken by peeling back skin. scoop about 1 tbsp of cream cheese mixture onto each drumstick, between the chicken and the skin. stretch skin to cover cream cheese mixture as much as possible. skin shrinks and pulls back as it cooks! repeat this step with each of the drumsticks. 
  3. place cream cheese stuffed drumsticks on a dish and drizzle with EVOO. use fingers or brush to distribute evenly. then sprinkle paprika and salt & pepper on each drumstick. 
  4. prep grill by spraying with a non-stick grilling spray. place drumsticks on grill and let cook for 8-10 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. [do not flip chicken while on grill. you'll loose half of the "popper"] 
  5. serve immediately! 

That whoops up there is perfect example of a slightly imperfect looking piece of chicken.
But guess what? It still tasted ding-dang good!!
These little hiccups only make things easier for you fabulous readers. Because, then I know to tell you that you really need to make sure you pull the skin over the cream cheese as much as possible. 
It's OK to make mistakes... as long as you learn from them.
I learned for youuu!
I'm such a saint. 

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Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Guest Post // What2Wear's 5 Ways to Update Your Summer Look

Today you are in for a treat! My friend Brooke over @ What2Wear is sharing some of her favorite ways to update your summer look. This girl has style from head to toe. Believe it or not this gorgeous gal is a mommy to a precious little guy she adoringly calls Doodle. Brooke and I are sorority sisters from my UNCW days. She has always had drool-worthy outfits & accessories and she continues to impress me daily with what she manages to pull out of her closet. 
I'm so excited to share her with you today & to have her as a fellow blogging buddy. 
 Be sure to check her out and get some of your own inspiration from this fabulous fashionista.

1. DIY- If you can't find exactly what you are looking for or can't afford the newest trends then do it yourself! With a pair of scissors and a bucket full of bleach I turned an old pair of jeans into a new pair of bleached cutoffs then I updated an old cardigan with some vintage inspired gold buttons I's so easy!
2. Try a Shot of Neon- You don't have to look like a flamingo dancer to participate in this trend......just start out with some neon shoes or a neon bag to add a little pop of color to your outfit.
3. Add Funky Accessories- Is there anything better than mint green sunnies and a gold pendant necklace? I think not!
4. Pieces Working Overtime- One item that works overtime in my wardrobe is stripped t-shirts, I love them! A stripped tee can be dressed up, dressed down and everything in between. I stock up on them for every season but especially for summer.
5. Update Your Makeup- By adding a new lipstick or eye shadow you can completely change your look. One product I'm loving for summer is coral lipstick, the perfect shade is Kate Moss for Rimmel London in number 12. It's a gorgeous color and it's under $5, you can't beat that!

You are now armed to take on the season with some serious style :)


Thanks for guest postin' Brooke! 
Love & AOE 

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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Butter Chicken

This is one of those meals that comes from a jar. Easy enough??
My momma made this for the me the other night and just the aromatics alone had me salivating.
It was so good and so easy to throw together,
I just had to share it with you.

Butter Chicken with Peas and Jasmine Rice
serves 4

  1. begin by poaching chicken in a small pot over med-high heat with just enough water to cover chicken completely. add curry and garlic powder and let simmer until chicken is cooked through. remove chicken from pot and shred using 2 forks, then set aside.
  2. cook ready rice in the microwave. then heat Butter Chicken Simmer Sauce in a medium-sized sauce pan over medium heat. add chicken and stir well to combine.
  3. remove cooked rice from packages, and dump into a serving bowl. add basil and parsley and stir well.
  4. once chicken is heated to desired temperature with simmer sauce, serve immediately over rice with a few spoonfuls of peas. a few crushed peanuts on top might be lovely as well!
Doesn't get much simpler than that folks.
This chicken is downright buttery. The Indian inspired flavors are soothing but
still have a slight punch that makes you dig in for more!
Dinner doesn't have to be fancy or time consuming to be good.
Remember my mantra? Keep it simple stupid.

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Saturday, June 2, 2012

The Eagle's Nest

Every so often I have the time to make a killer breakfast. 
This was one of those times. 
I'd like to introduce you to my newest [and perhaps most deelicious] breakfast creation. 
The Eagle's Nest. 
Why the need for such a title? 
It's that epic. 
{annnnnd to state the obvious it's an egg...sitting atop a "nest."}

The Eagle's Nest
{poached egg, sliced deli ham, potato-parmesan-zucchini cakes}
serves 2 {2 cakes each}
zucchini-parmesan pancake inspiration from Everyday Food 
  • 1 zucchini, shredded
  • 1 russet potato, shredded
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • 3 tbsp whole wheat flour
  • 6 eggs [2 for cakes & 4 for poaching]
  • 2 tbsp parsley 
  • 1 tbsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tbsp lemon zest / 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • vegetable oil, for frying 
  • 4 slices of deli ham
  1. begin by shredding your vegetables. you can use either a box grater or a mandolin, but you want thin zucchini and potato strips. put shredded veggies in a paper towel or clean kitchen towel and squeeze well to remove excess moisture. 
  2. then in a small bowl beat 2 eggs. add flour, red pepper flakes, parmesan cheese, parsley, salt & pepper, and lemon juice & zest. whisk together until well blended. 
  3. in a large mixing bowl combine shredded veggies and egg mixture.  
  4. meanwhile in a small sauce pan bring water to boil for poaching your eggs. not sure how to poach an egg? check out this fabulous tutorial by the smitten kitchen. 
  5. in a large frying pan heat 1/4 of an inch of vegetable oil to about 350 degrees [or until it spatters & sizzles slightly when flicked with water...careful!]
  6. form palm-sized cakes with the potato-zucchini egg mixture. squeeze out any excess moisture back into bowl before placing into the frying pan. cook about 2-3 minutes per side and then move and let drain on a paper towel. [after first flip, squish the cake down with your spatula]
  7. to build your nest; layer a zucchini cake, then sliced ham, then poached egg. top with salt & pepper. {and then get ready to do a happy dance...yeah, ya heard me!}

Top 3 reasons this breakfast dish is outrageously good. 
Oh. Em. Gee. 
These things are good by themselves. In fact, don't be surprised if you see them pop up in other recipes in the future. They're crunchy yet light and zesty thanks to the lemon. 
These cakes are the perfect foundation for this 4 star breakfast.
#2. Poached egg goodness. 
Having a poached egg on top and breaking that yolk is like diving through the first wave of summer. 
Ok, maybe I'm taking this too far [stop judging]...but seriously. The yolk is magic. 
It creates this heavenly sauce that pours over the rest of the "nest." 
#3. The deli ham is the perfect in-between-guy. 
It's just enough of a salty-savory layer but yet it doesn't upstage any of its neighboring counterparts. 
this breakfast rocks

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Friday, June 1, 2012

Peanut Butter & Jelly Bars

There are few combinations in this world more popular and well known than peanut butter and jelly. To me this combo is the perfect example of the yin-yang flavors...sweet and smooth with salty and crunchy? Sign me up! So when I saw this recipe in the May edition of Rachael Ray Magazine, I knew this was a dessert I had to try. 

If you haven't noticed yet, I don't post too many desserts. I am not a all. Baking in general is way too exact for me. My style of cooking is always a dash of this, and a sprinkle of that all according to my mood and how things are coming together in the pan. In baking, yeah that doesn't work out so well. It's a science [Ron Burgundy just said that in my head, yours too? Hope so.] But these bars sure did turn out well! So if I can crank these little guys out, pshht you have nothing to worry about!

Peanut Butter & Jelly Bars 
makes 16 squares 
adapted from Rachael Ray Magazine 
  • 3/4 cup salted, roasted peanuts
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 stick butter [oh yeah] 4 oz unsalted butter, chilled and cut into pieces 
  • 3/4 cup [reduced fat] creamy peanut butter
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup grape or strawberry jam 
  1. pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees and move rack to the middle for even cooking. line an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper, letting the excess hang over the sides. [for lifting out later]
  2. using a food processor, pulse the peanuts until chopped. transfer to a medium sized bowl. 
  3. in the same processor bowl mix the 2 flours, the brown sugar, and salt. slowly add the butter slice by slice until the mixture becomes crumbly. next add the peanut butter and vanilla and process until combined. measure out 2/3 cup of the mixture from the food processor and add it to the chopped nuts in the separate bowl. 
  4. dump the remaining mixture into the parchment lined pan and press down firmly to create the bottom portion of the bar. then spoon the jam evenly over top, staying about 1/2 away from the edges. finally sprinkle the chopped peanut + crumbly mixture over top of jam, extending all the way out to the edges of the pan. 
  5. bake for 45 minutes or until the top gets golden brown and the jam is bubbling. remove from oven and let cool completely. using the parchment paper, lift the cooled bars out of the pan and place on a cutting board to cut into 16 squares.

sweet & salty with a crunch and buttery finish. this dessert gets an A+ in my book. 
give'em a try, you won't be sad ya did!