Thursday, January 31, 2013

Weekend Update ~ Queen City

I actually did something other than work this weekend! But I've been doing nothing but work since so it's taken me this long to post an update!

Ryan's friend growing up in Texas happened to be in Charlotte, NC for work this past weekend, so we made a spontaneous trip to visit him! Several of our friends from Clemson live in Charlotte, so we decided to make a reunion out of it!

Burt first, this happened:

I got to leave work early Friday to make sure I was safely at home when the ice started falling. I will say my apartment parking lot was a skating rink that night, but otherwise no harm was done! It was quite nice working in my pajamas under a blanket while it was "snowing" outstide!

Saturday involved breakfast, work, and then we were off to the big city!

Let me tell you, my namesake sure is pretty!

How cool does the sky look?

We had dinner at Midwood Smokehouse and bar-hopped in Uptown Charlotte.

A brunch complete with bloody marys and then we were back on the road home Sunday.

How many more of these mini getaways can I take to survive busy season?


In other news, I had lunch with my realtor Tuesday and we're going to look at a few houses on Saturday! I'm so excited I can hardly stand it. I've been having pretty hilarious dreams about the house hunt. Like just last night, I had a dream I went to look at a house and Phil and Claire from "Modern Family" were living there. Haha :)

I'll be sure to take lots of pictures!

Friday, January 25, 2013

{Recipe} ~ Mini Shrimp Rolls

Y'all! This recipe is divine. It'll be best devoured during summer, preferably near sand and waves.

But seeing as it's winter, I had to improvise. I made these adorable shrimp rolls for our seafood extravaganza on New Year's Eve. At least 4 people asked me for the recipe and they were gobbled up before I could go back for seconds thirds!

Mini Shrimp Rolls
from Bon Appetit


  • Kosher salt
  • 1 pound medium shrimp, shelled, deveined
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
  • 1 small celery stalk, peeled, finely chopped (about 3 tablespoons)
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh chives
  • 1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon prepared horseradish
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 24 mini soft dinner rolls (I used King's Hawaiian)
  • 1/ 4cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup celery leaves or crushed potato chips


Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; season lightly with salt. When water is at a gentle simmer, add shrimp. Poach until just opaque in the center, 2–4 minutes. Drain; transfer shrimp to a medium bowl of ice water to cool. Drain; wipe out bowl.
Whisk mayonnaise, celery, chives, oil, lemon juice, and horseradish in a medium bowl to blend; season to taste with salt and pepper. Chop shrimp into small pieces (about 1/3-inch); add to bowl with mayonnaise mixture. Stir to coat. DO AHEAD Shrimp salad can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.
Preheat oven to 375°. Using a small serrated knife, make a 1/2-inch-deep cut across the top of each dinner roll and gently pry open roll with your fingers to create a mini New England–style hot dog bun. Lightly brush inside of rolls with butter; place on a rimmed baking sheet. Toast until light golden, about 8 minutes. Let cool slightly.
Divide shrimp mixture among rolls, pressing into cut across top; garnish with celery leaves or crushed potato chips.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Liebster Award ~ Round 2

Happy Wednesday, friends!

I'm still here, still sick, but still working. I'm not sure if I'm passing my germs to my coworkers or they're passing their germs to me, but it seems half of us spent all day Sunday in bed. Blah.

But life goes on! And the sweet Melissa Jo at Home Sweet Auburn nominated me for the Liebster Award! I just received this award last month and I'm all tapped out on "random" facts about me, but I still wanted to answer Melissa Jo's questions! Here we go....

1. What is your typical breakfast?

Breakfast! My favorite meal of the day by far. I don't see how some people are all, "Oh, I just had a granola bar at 6 am so I'm pretty much set for the day." Um no, I need a breakfast that's not going to have my stomach growling audibly by 9 am.

The 2 breakfasts in my rotation currently: two poached egg whites on toasted english muffin halves with a slice of white American cheese melted on top OR two whole grain waffles with crunchy peanut butter and sliced bananas.

2. Who was the first person you loved?

I'm assuming this means someone other than my family? In that case, I'd say my ex-boyfriend, Adam (I don't count my high school boyfriend, we were young).  Adam and I dated for 5 years (senior year of high school and all of college), when one day I woke up and realized he wasn't "The One." My friends and family thought I had lost my mind when I told them I was breaking up with Adam, but somewhere along the way I just knew I had to.

That quote, "We must be willing to let go of the life we planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us," has never been truer. And honestly, I never once regretted my decision.

3. Tell me about any past/current pets you have.

He hated this Santa hat, if you can't tell...
Aw, I've only had one pet my whole life, but he was certainly the best! When I was 5, my kindergarten teacher's cat had kittens, but the mom died giving birth. So each day, my teacher would bring in the 3 little kittens and let us feed them from tiny baby bottles. I immediately begged my mom and dad for one, and I guess they decided it was time we could have a pet.

He was all black, and I named him Oreo (apparently that made sense to 5 year-old me). He lived to be 18 years old, but we had to put him down almost 2 years ago. I still miss him all the time, but my mom probably misses him the most (he was her 3rd child)!

I'd love to get another pet some day, but for now, my schedule just doesn't allow it. I travel frequently and have long days at the office, and I'd hate to keep an animal couped up in my apartment all day. That still doesn't stop me from perusing the Humane Society's website from time to time, though...

4. You're having a burger for dinner. What's on it?

If I were making a burger at home, I'd probably put some bleu cheese and bacon on it and call it a day. But one of my favorites that I've had in a restaurant was a turkey burger with brie cheese and a granny smith apple slice. It was so yummy.

5. Who were you in high school? A cheerleader, nerd, etc.?

Ugh, high school. I'm so glad I never have to go back there. I wouldn't say I identified with any particular group. I didn't play sports nor was I a cheerleader. I took Honors classes and 2 AP classes my senior year, but I wasn't what I'd consider a "nerd" either. I guess I was just a little bit of everything.

6. What kind of cell phone do you have?

iPhone 5. I had an iPhone 4 before that (which surprisingly survived a swim in the toilet two weeks after I got it).

7. Favorite dessert?

I don't eat dessert frequently, but if I had to pick, I'd say banana pudding or molten chocolate cake (with a big glass of milk, of course).

8. Favorite thing to do to waste time?

I take a bath almost every single night when I get home from work or before I go to bed. It's my favorite way to decompress from the day and have "quiet time." I'll read a magazine, catch up on the day's news, flip through pinterest, or just lie there thinking about nothing in particular.

9. What time does your alarm go off on weekdays?

6:33 am (yes, I'm weird). I used to get up at 6:51 am, but with the craziness of busy season, I like having some extra time to myself in the mornings. I make a cup of coffee and then get back in bed and flip through Twitter, my Google Reader, and CNN. It makes me feel more awake. I finally drag myself out of bed around 7 am and start my morning routine.

10. What's your favorite season? Least favorite?

My favorite season is Fall, hands down. But I guess summer is a close second.

Pretty leaves are my favorite

But I do love dipping my toes in the water...
I hate winter. Work is busy all.the.time. and I detest being cold. Come on, April...

11. Are you a rule breaker or a rule follower?

Definitely a rule follower. I was always so afraid of getting in trouble growing up and in school. But I usually I got in trouble with my teachers for talking in class. Ha, what can I say? I was born a talker.

Thanks Melissa Jo for the fun questions!
In other news, I've finally contacted a realtor (whom I love) and we're starting the house hunt! My lease isn't up until July 31st, so I'm not in an extreme hurry, but I'm definitely keeping my eye on a few houses that I like! It's so exciting to go house hunting! 

Saturday, January 19, 2013

{Recipe} ~ Hot Asiago Crab & Artichoke Dip

We made it to Saturday! I almost want to give myself a pat on the back for that, but I woke up this morning with what I'm 95% sure is a sinus infection. Yay. Hopefully I can find some really effective meds in my medicine cabinet!

I'll be working a little bit today and tomorrow, heading to Anderson for a wedding this afternoon, and then Ryan and I are having dinner at The Peddler Steakhouse. It opened in 1969 and seems like a Greenville legend. I hear the steaks are amazing - I'm excited to check it out! Sunday will most likely be spent on the couch watching football and trying to fight this sickness. It's times like these where I really wish I drank tea; I think it would make me feel better!

But first, I want to share a recipe with you!

My friend and coworker Sarah is a huge Baltimore Ravens fan. She's really superstitious about where she watches the games, and since they last lost while we were at Ale House, she couldn't go back there to watch a game. So we decided to host a little viewing party at her place instead! And obviously, any sort of get-together is an excuse for me to try a new recipe!

I previously saved a crab dip recipe and thought it'd be perfect for the game ( get the idea)! This dip makes a huge portion, so make sure you're serving a crowd! I served it with crostini and blue corn tortilla chips and we washed it all down with bloody mary's! Put this recipe in your back pocket for the Super Bowl coming up!

Hot Asiago Crab & Artichoke Dip
from Confessions of a Foodie Bride

  • For the crab dip:
  • 8 oz cream cheese (I use reduced-fat)
  • 1/2 cup mayo (I use light)
  • 1/2 cup fat-free greek yogurt (I used 0% Fage)
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 bunch green onions, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cup grated Asiago cheese, divided (I added Fontina also)
  • 14 oz can of quartered artichoke hearts, drained
  • 8-12 oz jumbo lump crab meat
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • For the pico de gallo:
  • 2 roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
  • 1 handful cilantro, chopped
  • 1/4 cup green onion tops, chopped
  • Squeeze of lime juice
  • Salt
  1. Preheat oven to 425.
  2. Beat the cream cheese, mayo, and yogurt together until smooth.
  3. Add the white and light parts of the green onions (dark green parts will be used for the pico), lemon juice, and 1 1/4 cup grated cheese.
  4. Fold in artichokes and crab.
  5. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  6. Transfer to a 1 1/2 quart casserole dish and spread evenly, sprinkling the remaining cheese on top..
  7. Bake for ~20 minutes, until bubbly and golden brown.
  8. To make the pico, toss all ingredients together and set aside until ready to serve.
  9. Remove the dip from the oven, top with pico, and serve with blue corn tortilla chips, crackers, or toasted crostini.
  10. Best when hot or very warm, leftovers will keep a couple of days. Can be assembled ahead of time and then baked at the last minute.

Monday, January 14, 2013

{Recipe} ~ Sweet and Spicy Chili and Skillet Cornbread

Happy Monday!

The weekend updates are about to get real boring around these parts, mainly because I am now working 6 days a week. Last week clocked in about 54 hours of work and I still didn't get everything done.

Saturday involved work, some laundry, a run outside (it was 74 degrees here!), and then a chili cookoff at our friend Marina's house! She had planned the cookoff weeks ago, having no idea we were going to be having a heat wave! But the show went on as planned, and we had so much fun!

I decided to try out a new chili recipe and I made cornbread in my new cast iron skillet!

There were about 10 different pots of chili, so everyone grabbed a tasting cup and spoon and went to try each kind. Marina and her roommate provided all the extras (sour cream, cheese, crackers and Fritos for dipping)!

Then came the vote! Ryan and I were bouncing between the kitchen and the living room trying to catch the end of the playoff games when Marina came to grab us to say we had won something! There were about 30 different people there and all the other chilis were so good, I definitely wasn't expecting to win. We actually came in 3rd place!! I told Ryan he could take some of the credit too, since he did open the cans and conduct the final taste test :)

I spent all day Sunday lounging on the couch watching football and I didn't move except to eat dinner. I fell asleep on the couch at 8 pm and just moved from there to my bed around 10 pm. Really exciting things going on, let me tell you!

Hopefully the weather is a little cooler where you are and you can enjoy a big bowl of this chilil!

Sweet & Spicy Chili
from Iowa Girl Eats
(There's no picture because chili is extremely unphotogenic :) )

1/2 small onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1lb 90/10 ground beef
Salt and pepper
1-29oz can tomato sauce
1-15oz can black beans, drained & rinsed
1-16oz can Bush’s Vegetarian Baked Beans
Chili powder
Cayenne pepper
Onion powder
Garlic powder
Brown sugar (optional)
Heat a large soup pot over medium high heat. Add onion, garlic and ground beef to the pot, season with salt & pepper, then cook, breaking up the ground beef, until no longer pink. Drain well and return to the pan.
Turn the heat down to medium low and add in tomato sauce, black beans and baked beans. Season with chili powder and cayenne pepper to your tastes, then add in dashes of onion powder, garlic powder and cumin. Let the chili simmer for 5-10 minutes, then taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.

Confession: I've only ever made cornbread from a box (my favorite mix is from Trader Joe's), so this was my first attempt at making it from scratch! I was a little disappointed that mine stuck to the pan majorly and Ryan and I basically tore it to pieces trying to remove it from the skillet. Next time, I'll be sure to liberally douse it in non-stick spray! But the pieces that didn't fall apart tasted really good. You definitely can't eat chili without some cornbread to go with it!
Skillet Cornbread


  • 1 cup Yellow Cornmeal
  • ½ cups All-purpose Flour
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 Tablespoon Baking Powder
  • 1 cup Buttermilk
  • ½ cups Milk
  • 1 whole Egg
  • ½ teaspoons Baking Soda
  • ¼ cups Shortening
  • 2 Tablespoons Shortening


Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Combine cornmeal, flour, salt, and baking powder in a bowl. Stir together.

Measure the buttermilk and milk in a measuring cup and add the egg. Stir together with a fork. Add the baking soda and stir.

Pour the milk mixture into the dry ingredients. Stir with a fork until combined.

In a small bowl, melt 1/4 shortening. Slowly add melted shortening to the batter, stirring until just combined. In an iron skillet, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons shortening over medium heat. Pour the batter into the hot skillet. Spread to even out the surface. (Batter should sizzle.)

Cook on stovetop for 1 minute, then bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown.


Friday, January 11, 2013

New Year's Eve Recap

I know, I'm a little late on this one too. We're one week into busy season and I'm already falling apart (kidding, but 12 hour workdays don't leave much time for anything else)!

There's always this huge pressure every year to have amazing New Year's plans, and honestly, it drives me nuts. I'd much prefer a low-key get together to ring in the New Year than a big fancy party. I've done the party thing, it was fun, but it's just not my favorite.

Clemson was playing in the Chick-fil-a Bowl in Atlanta on NYE, so Ryan and I debated for awhile about going to the game. Honestly, I wasn't too convinced we weren't going to lose, so I didn't really want to spend the money on tickets, hotels, etc. so we eventually decided against it. Plus, we had already been to Clemson's season opener in Atlanta earlier in the year.

So, in the interest of still doing something fun, we decided to tag along with my parents to their best friends' New Year's party. Becky and Ted have hosted a NYE party for as long as a I can remember (the year 2000 being my first vivid memory), and in recent years, they've turned it into a "seafood extravaganza" - crab legs, oysters, shrimp, oh my!

This was a perfect way for us to spend New Year's - Ryan got to meet a lot of my parent's friends, we ate some delicious food, and we got to cheer our Tigers to a victory against LSU! Such a fun, fun night ringing in 2013!

And this last photo was just too cute not to post:

Ryan got up to go to the bathroom and Scarlet stole his seat on the couch beside me. Ryan was delegated to the floor for the remainder of the game!
The next morning, we whipped up a delicious New Year's Day brunch (no traditional collards and black-eyed peas for this family - yuck!), watched some football, played card games and scrabble, and then it was back to Greenville and the real world.

This is my last post in terms of recaps of the holidays, I swear! How did you all spend your New Year's?

Thursday, January 10, 2013

{Recipe} ~ Shrimp and Grits Casserole

One of the best things about being home for the holidays is that I'm able to whip up so many new recipes! It's so much easier to cook for a family of 4 rather than just me (that way I don't have to eat leftovers for days)!

When I got home for Christmas, my mom and I sat down with her iPad pulled up to my pinterest boards and some of our standard cookbooks we always use around the holidays. I had several recipes I wanted to try, so we got to work making a menu for the next few days and got our shopping list ready to go! A trip to 2 different grocery stores (and the liquor store of course), and we were in business!

The first recipe we were going to try has a bit of a back story. It was a Shrimp and Grits Casserole from Taste of the South Magazine. Now, when I followed the link from my pin, the recipe came up and we jotted down the ingredients. But that night, when I went to actually start cooking, the recipe was nowhere to be found! The link to the website was broken, as was all other recipe links on their website. Cue panic attack. It was close to 6:30 and I had yet to start cooking. So I did some quick googling, found a plain, ol' boring recipe for Shrimp and Grits and got to work (but I was still really bummed about not trying the original recipe).

While I was making a mess in the kitchen cooking, my sister was still trying to find the original recipe. She noticed on Taste of the South's Facebook page that other people were having difficulties trying to access recipes as well. They had posted the food editor's email address and was asking everyone to contact her in order to get recipes. So Katie sent a quick email to the food editor, who responded immediately after I had improvised and dinner was on the table. Boo.

All this to say, the recipe below is the original recipe I wanted to try, but not the actual one we ended up eating. My improvision tasted delicious, but I honestly couldn't recreate it because I have no idea what I actually did. I'll certainly have to make this again - the way I meant to make it originally! I would definitely use less cream/half-and-half to make this a little more figure friendly!

Shrimp and Grits Casserole
from Taste of the South
(serves 10-12; I halved the recipe!)


3 cups water
3 1/2 cups half-and-half
2 cups quick-cooking grits
5 ounces grated Parmesan cheese
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
8 slices bacon
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 cup sliced green onion
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup chicken broth
2 cups heavy whipping cream
2 pounds medium fresh shrimp, peeled and deveined
3/4 teaspoon Creole seasoning


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray a 13x9-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

In a large saucepan, bring 3 cups water and half-and-half to a boil over medium-high heat. Add grits, reduce heat, and simmer until thickened, 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in cheese, egg, salt, and red pepper flakes. Spoon mixture into prepared baking dish. Bake until set, approximately 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook bacon over medium heat until crisp. Remove from skillet, and drain on paper towels, reserving 2 tablespoons bacon grease. Crumble bacon, and set aside.

In the same skillet, heat bacon grease over medium-high heat. Add bell pepper and onion, cook for 3 minutes. Add flour, cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add broth and cream; stir until combined. Cook until thickened, 5 minutes. (I don't really think this step is necessary. Just add a splash of half-and-half and chicken broth and you should be good to go!) Add shrimp; cook until shrimp are pink and firm, 3 to 4 minutes. Add Creole seasoning, stirring to combine.

Spoon mixture over grits. Top with crumbled bacon and sliced green onion. Serve immediately.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Welcome 2013!

Well, I'm about 7 days late on the New Year's post.

I don't have any groundbreaking 2013 goals; I plan to just keep on trucking with work and life, and I know it'll be a fantastic year, whatever it may hold!

But, I did want to recap 2012 briefly, mainly because this year treated me well!


Because I didn't start this blog until March, I honestly have no idea what I did during January and February (besides work a lot). I even looked back at my photos and I don't have a single one for the month of January. Oops. It's like that month never happened!!

But here are the highs and lows for the rest of 2012:

+ went to Savannah, GA for work
+ went to Birmingham, AL for work (crossed this state off my my list)

+ celebrated St. Patrick's Day with Ryan's family
+ went to the mountains
+ ran a 10K
+ our best friend lost his dad

+ trekked to Atlanta for Braves Opening Day
+ celebrated big time The End of Busy Season (my first of many to come)
+ had a blast at the Upstate Beer Festival

+ crossed off another state with a family trip to Arizona and the Grand Canyon

+ finally visited our local zoo for Brew at the Zoo
+ made a trip to Virginia for my grandfather's 94th birthday

+ a week in Litchfield
+ I turned 24, Ryan turned 25, and we took a trip to Asheville to celebrate
+ I visited Texas for the first time when we went to San Antonio

+ started training for the Spinx Half Marathon
+ I made a return trip to Texas, this time to visit Dallas

+ College football kicked off with a Clemson win in Atlanta
+ I made it 5 weeks into training before "quitting"
+ crossed off state #5 for the year with a trip to Boston

+ I fell in love with Mexico (and almost didn't come home)
+ helped my dad celebrate his birthday in the mountains

+ made it to the one year anniversary at my job
+ Lauren and I hosted our first annual Friendsgiving
+ I went to my first NFL game
+ My family celebrated Thanksgiving in the mountains

+ Ryan and I celebrated our one year anniversary in Kentucky
+ my college girlfriends and I had a girls' weekend
+ I finally saw Dave Matthews Band in concert
+ I celebrated Christmas with my family in Anderson
+ Rang in the New Year and celebrated a Clemson bowl game victory against LSU


All in all, I'd say 2012 was a fantastic year. After the whirlwind of 2011 (got my Master's degree, passed all 4 parts of the CPA exam, moved to Greenville, and started my first full-time job), I was due for a calmer year.

I think 2012 was certainly the year of travel! I crossed off 6 states (Alabama, Arizona, Kentucky, Massachusetts, and Texas) and one country (Mexico)!

I hope 2013 doesn't let me down - I have high hopes for a stellar year!