Friday, May 25, 2012

{Recipe} ~ Sparkling Strawberry-Mint Limeade

Happy Memorial Day! First, thank you to all the men and women who make our freedom possible and the sacrifices they make every single day!

While you all enjoy this holiday by the pool, on the lake, or at the beach - make this drink to tag along with you! It's so yummy (and pretty, too)! I love Kelly's website - I haven't found a bad recipe yet!

Sparkling Strawberry-Mint Limeade
from Eat Yourself Skinny

3 cups sliced strawberries
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup agave nectar
1 bottle champagne, chilled
Extra mint and lime wedges as garnish
Combine sliced strawberries, mint leaves, lime juice, water and agave nectar in a blender and process until smooth.  Serve about a 1/2 cup of strawberry mixture with a 1/2 cup of champagne, stirring to combine.  Garnish with extra mint leaves and lime wedges and enjoy!


Definitely make sure you blend this well in the blender! Mine wasn't very blended, and I ended up with several large mint leaves in my mouth - eek! Once blended, it's delicious and refreshing!

Let me know what you think!

Lauren's 24th Birthday Surprise!

This week has been so busy (...I feel like I'm saying that a lot lately)! I went to Clemson Monday to have dinner with a friend who is heading to Air Force training to be a fighter pilot (yea, he's a badass).

There was a Clemson/Greenville Young Alumni kickoff party at the Thomas Creek Brewery on Tuesday, with free local beer and BBQ. It was a good thing we were inside, because it started pouring almost immediately after I got there. Check out the scary sky on my drive over:

On Wednesday, we celebrated Lauren's birthday!! I had planned a surprise to take her to one of those painting classes that are all the rage these days. I invited two of her old roommates as a surprise also. I finally had to tell her where we were going when she asked me what she should wear!

We had appetizers at Lazy Goat, but we had a drink at the house beforehand. Lauren's boyfriend Tyler once called her "short stack," which Ryan translated to "pancake." Maybe he enjoys calling her that so she'll also have a nickname relating to food. I found out about this wine first from Christina at Hungry Meets Healthy from Trader Joe's. I knew it would be perfect for Lauren for her birthday, and she could take it to Design with Wine! (It tastes pretty darn good, too, for only $5)!

The last picture was a delicious champagne cocktail with strawberry limeade and mint. I'll post the recipe soon!

We had so much fun painting, even though being artistic is certainly not our forte. We had three accountants! Meg might be the closest in creativity - she works in PR!

Pawley's Island Pier Sunrise - think I'll hang it in the beach house!
Lauren, Meg, me, and Sarah with our final products!
We had so much fun painting, drinking wine, and laughing! I highly recommend y'all try this with a group of girlfriends!

I'm off to Arizona tomorrow -- my bags are all packed! I can't wait for a vacation! Sun, relaxing by the pool, a massage, and some hiking/sight-seeing along the way!

I'll leave you with this fun painting that I'm dying to paint next! It's the Liberty Bridge in Greenville at night!

Happy Memorial Day Weekend!! 

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

{Recipe} ~ Steak Dinner

Sunday night, I made an indulgent steak dinner. I hated I couldn't grill the steak, but cooking it on the stove did just fine. I whipped up some amazing potatoes, asparagus, and herb butter to serve with the steak. These potatoes were unbelievably good and easy. It took me awhile to get the potatoes to soften, almost 30 minutes in boiling water. Mine also didn't come out as clean - when I mashed them, they stuck to the masher and didn't stay put. It was still delicious and is a great alternative to baked potatoes. The herb butter was also really easy, and something different to serve with the meal! I used chives for both the herb butter and the potatoes, but you can use whatever herbs you have on hand (rosemary, thyme, and parsley are good choices)!

Crash Hot Potatoes
from The Pioneer Woman


  • 12 whole New Potatoes (or Other Small Round Potatoes)
  • 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • Kosher Salt To Taste
  • Black Pepper To Taste
  • Rosemary (or Other Herbs Of Choice) To Taste

Preparation Instructions

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add in as many potatoes as you wish to make and cook them until they are fork-tender.
On a sheet pan, generously drizzle olive oil. Place tender potatoes on the cookie sheet leaving plenty of room between each potato.
With a potato masher, gently press down each potato until it slightly mashes, rotate the potato masher 90 degrees and mash again. Brush the tops of each crushed potato generously with more olive oil.
Sprinkle potatoes with kosher salt, fresh ground black pepper and fresh chopped rosemary (or chives or thyme or whatever herb you have available.)
Bake in a 450 degree oven for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.

Herb Butter

One stick unsalted butter, softened
1/2 tsp Garlic salt
Herbs of your choice

Soften the butter at room temperature. Combine ingredients in a bowl and stir to mix well. Spoon the herb butter onto a large piece of plastic wrap. Roll the butter into a log shape, securing the ends. Place in the freezer for an hour to harden the butter. Serve with steak, veggies, or rolls!

Steak dinners are one of my favorites! This made Sunday night dinner feel extra special, with a glass of this red wine:


Sunday, May 20, 2012

Weekend Update ~ Home Sweet Greenville

Ahh, Sunday! It may be one of my favorite days of the week. In college, I used to spend all day Sunday studying and catching up on homework neglected since my last class on Thursday afternoon. Then Sunday nights were dedicated to sorority Exec meetings and then chapter.

Sundays in the real world are much more relaxing. I stayed in bed till almost noon, just drinking coffee, watching Friends, and reading blogs/the news/Twitter.

I'll rewind to Friday night, which we spent at the Drive game. Our firm has 2 sets of 4 tickets, that the employees can have in a ticket lottery. I had tickets a few weeks ago, but switched with Lauren because we were already going to the game with Ryan's company. The seats are awesome and the Drive won! Yay! They have a fireworks show every Friday night, and I was actually really impressed with the show. They must've spent several thousand dollars - I felt like a kid again on 4th of July!

Ryan, Lauren, Trent, and I went to Liberty Tap Room after the game and had a few beers and appetizers, with an appearance from our favorite waiter. Our waitress sat down for a little while, too!

Ryan and I had a debate going during the game as to who was better at Scrabble. We had agreed to have a face-off when we got home. Well, we didn't leave Liberty until about 1:30 am, and we recruited Lauren and Trent to play with us too. Nothing like a little late night, slighty tipsy game of Scrabble.

Ryan kicked our butts. So I guess that debate is settled...

Saturday was spent by the pool. We recruited a big group (all coworkers minus Ryan) to hang out at Ryan's apartment pool. There were a lot of young people out and some people watching.

The ducks from the pond made their way inside the gate, and couldn't resist going for a swim. Watching them hop out of the pool was quite entertaining. Cute duckies!

I headed home to shower, then we were off to dinner to celebrate birthdays for two of Ryan's coworkers. We went to Sassafras, one of my favorite restaurants in Greenville. I had the special, swordfish with peach mango salsa served over grits. 

I've never had a bad meal there, and this one was no different! I always like to order meals in restaurants that I wouldn't typically cook for myself. I haven't done too much cooking with fish yet, but maybe I can come up with some fresh fish recipes for summer!

It was great company! I was just so tired from the late night on Friday that I was ready to go home before midnight! 

Happy Birthday Andrew and Gina!
After I got out of bed Sunday, I worked on a little craft project. As an accountant, creativity isn't really my strong suit. The last time I was "crafty" was when I was making presents for my little. ZTA had a tradition of giving the girls teal aluminum buckets filled with presents on the day before Big/Little Reveal. That was quite an undertaking for this not-so-artsy girl. But I think they turned out alright - here's some throwback pictures!

Anyway, back to my craft project. I have been meaning to display my jewelry instead of keeping it hidden in my jewelry box. I have so many earrings that I never wear because I just don't think of them when I'm rushing out the door in the morning. So now that they're on display, hopefully I'll switch it up more often! Also, these cute little earrings from Anthropologie have been purchased by my sister in California and will be given to me once we're reunited in AZ next week. I really wish they would hurry up on the construction of the Anthro downtown Greenville. It will be bad for my wallet, though!

Ta da! I'm so glad they're all on display in my closet now!

I made a last-minute trip to the mall to pick up a few things for my trip next week to Arizona! The dress section of Banana always gets me! Here are my finds:


I saw the first dress, a knit mini-stripe, on one of Ryan's coworkers at a Drive game. I was instantly loving it - it looked so comfy! She told me she got it at Banana when I complemented her on it. I waited several weeks before going to try it on myself. I'm thinking I'll wear it on the plane next weekend!

I've been looking for a new maxi dress. They're so comfortable - it's like wearing pajamas. This one was flattering and had a little more interest with the pattern than my other solid one. Bonus, it has pockets! This will be making it in the suitcase as well!

The last dress happened to be the only one left on the sale rack! I love finding a good deal. I plan on wearing it with a skinny belt and gold sandals. Ryan said this one was his favorite of the 3!

After my shopping trip, I went to the Fresh Market to buy dinner's ingredients. Fresh Market is by far my favorite grocery store (although it's pricey). I only go to buy dinner on special occassions, but I could spend hours in there. I cooked a yummy, indulgent steak dinner - I'll be posting the recipes tomorrow! 

I went on an afternoon run on the Swamp Rabbit Trail. It was pretty hot today and I really wished I had a hat to shade my face from the sun. But overall, a solid run! About as consistent as I can get!

Hope everyone had a great, relaxing weekend, too!

{Recipe} ~ Kung Pao Chicken

Is anyone sick of recipes that involve chicken yet? Haha! I cook with chicken during the week because it's so easy, and I always have boneless, skinless breasts in the freezer that I can just switch to the fridge to thaw in the morning before I go to work. I'd make this recipe again, but for some reason, I couldn't get the sauce to thicken. I may have just messed something up, or didn't simmer it long enough, but it was a bit too watery. It still had a good flavor, and I really liked the addition of the peanuts.  I used a stir-fry frozen veggie mix, because I already had it in the freezer and wanted to use it.

Kung Pao Chicken

2 Tablespoons of Dark Sesame Oil (I used Extra Virgin olive oil)
1 cup chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts
3/4 cup water
3 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
2 teasoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1/2 to 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 cup snow peas, trimmed
2 tablespoons chopped unsalted, dry-roasted peanuts

1. Heat oil in large skillet over medium - high heat. Add onion to pan, saute 3 minutes or until softened. Add garlic- saute 30 seconds. stirring constantly. Add chicken, saute 3 minutes or until chicken begins to brown

2. Combine 3/4 cup water, soy sauce, corn starch, brown sugar, and red pepper flakes and stir with a whisk until sugar dissolves. Add water mixture to pan, bring to a boil. Add bell pepper and snow peas to cap. Cook for 2 minutes or until veggies are crisp - tender and sauce thickens. Sprinkle with nuts.


Also, am I the last one to find out that you can freeze onions? I always buy huge ones but I just need a little bit for a recipe, and the rest of it ends up getting moldy. You can just chop the onion up, throw it in a baggie, and keep it in the freezer! I had no idea - this will save me so much time! I also discovered you can buy bags of diced onions in the freezer section. Who knew?!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

On The Road Again

I've just returned back to Greenville after a trip to Roanoke, VA for work. Traveling for work is a pretty new concept for me. I went to Savannah, GA and Birmingham, AL during busy season and will be heading back to Virginia two more times this summer. I do enjoy the traveling, but it gets a little lonely in that hotel room after a few days! I managed to frequent the hotel gym both nights (3 miles on the ellipitcal on Monday and this treadmill workout on Tuesday - another 3 miles). Lauren and I made it to Kettlebells tonight, too! I can't get enough of that class - I wish they taught it every night!

Back to Roanoke. I had never been to the city before, although my grandparents live in Virginia and I've frequented the state my whole life. The closest I've been to Roanoke recently was a trip to The Homestead in Hot Springs, VA a few years ago.

Roanoke far exceeded my expectations. The whole state of Virginia is so pretty, with interstates and cities just built into valleys and the mountains as far as the eye can see in every direction.

Gorgeous right?

The downtown (which was where we were working) was much bigger than I thought and we ventured to the City Market for lunch and dinner on Tuesday (once it finally stopped raining and we could walk outside without making a mad dash for the car).

Painted on a building
We had lunch at The Blues BBQ Co. and it was delicious! The hushpuppies were HUGE and served with this to-die-for peach honey butter. I should've gotten the recipe! Yum!

Really cool bar stools

Now I'm back and planning to relax (and stay put) this weekend. Ryan and I originally had plans to go deep sea fishing in Charleston with his college roommates on Saturday, but the seas are supposed to be too rough for fishing. I'm kind of bummed, but also a little relieved because I'll be able to get some things done this weekend before I leave for Arizona next Saturday! This includes a deep clean of my room, going through my closet, and starting a packing list!

Happy Wednesday to you all!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

{Recipe} ~ Chinese Cabbage Slaw

This is one of my favorite "salad" recipe options. It makes a huge batch and is great for serving with hamburgers from the grill! You can throw it together pretty quickly, just add the dressing right before serving to keep it from getting soggy.

Chinese Cabbage Slaw

Green Ingredients
1 head Napa cabbage
3-4 green onions (scallions)

1 package Raman noodles
¼ cup of butter
1 2oz package of sliced almonds
1/4 oz sesame seeds

3/4 cup of Salad oil (I usually use Olive Oil)
2 tablespoon of Soy sauce
2/3 cup of sugar
1/3 cup of Cider Vinegar

1. Crush Raman Noodles in package. Brown broken noodles and almonds in a large skillet with the melted butter. Add sesame seeds when noodles are almost done.  Set mixture on paper towel to cool.
2. Cut raggedy leaves off Napa cabbage head and discard. Slice head in half or quarters, then chop as thinly and uniformly as possible.
3. Slice roots off green onions, slice thinly until you get a good mix of white bottoms and green  tops.
4. Mix dressing ingredients and shake vigorously.
5. Mix noodles, green and dressing in large bowl, do not put dressing on until just ready to serve.


Sunday, May 13, 2012

Weekend Update ~ Mother's Day

Happy Mother's Day! I have probably the greatest mom in the whole world. She still takes care of me even though I'm grown and not living at home. Just today, when she came into my apartment and realized I hadn't taken out my trash, she gathered it all up and carried it out. She took all my recycling, too! Hope you had a great day, Mom! I love you!

It's been a really rainy day in Greenville. I spent most of it celebrating Mom and napping. But let me back up to Friday night, where all good weekend recaps begin!

I worked until noon on Friday, then spent the rest of the afternoon by the pool with Ryan. It was such a pretty day! I showered and we were ready to head out for the evening. We were going to Cafe And Then Some to celebrate Becky's birthday. Becky is my mom's best friend, and she and her husband Ted have been friends with my parents since they moved to Anderson before they even had kids. Becky is like my 2nd mother! She always has great book recommendations for me!

Cafe And Then Some is a restaurant in Greenville where a few actors and actresses put on a play after dinner. They serve dessert during intermission. The play is usually pretty inappropriate and funny, making fun of local or national events. The last play we went to was called "Sanford in Love" and centered around the Appalachian Trail/Brazilian mistress scandal that our SC Governor got himself mixed up in. This play was called "Politics for Dummies," and was about the presidential election. We all decided it wasn't their best performance, but there were still some good laughs. I failed to get a group picture - bad blogger!

Homemade Sin - the BEST dessert

Ryan and me in the parking lot afterward (poor lighting)
I slept in Saturday (after first waking up at 6 am and forcing myself to fall back asleep). I enjoyed my coffee and some TV before packing a small bag and heading to Anderson for the day/night. My mom, sister, and I went shopping (picked up some new workout clothes, heck yes!) and then went to the grocery store to pick up supplies for dinner. Dinner was steak kebabs and Chinese Cabbage Slaw (recipe coming next). Yum yum. While at the store, I found this new cider we had tried a few weeks earlier at the beer fest. It's finally in stores! I was so excited to find it.

We had a mini-reunion with Katie's two best friends from high school, whose husband and boyfriend also joined us. We went to the wine bar and another local pub for a few hours. Never a dull moment when reminiscing on people we went to high school with..

Sunday, we went to church and then Katie packed up to head back to California :( We had brunch in Greenville at The Bohemian, which had a buffet for the occasion. 

I cleaned my room a bit, popped in a Friends DVD and napped until dinner time. I'm hanging out with Ryan tonight before packing and heading to Roanoke, VA for a few days for work. We're leaving at the ripe hour of 6 am tomorrow to make the drive. I'm a little bummed about messing up my (new) workout routine but hopefully I'll be back in time for Kettlebells on Wednesday night! Plus, traveling for work can be fun, and I've never been to Roanoke before!

Hope everyone had a great weekend!