Monday, December 31, 2012

{List Love}: Top Recipes of 2012.

In honor of the ending of 2012, I'm going to do superlatives for some of my favorite recipes from this year. Silly I know, but just gotta have some fun in life. Saying goodbye to 2012 means looking backwards a bit.

Most viewed recipe on the blog: Veal Picatta

Most Pinned Recipes: 

Easy WW Potato Soup

3-Ingredient Spaghetti Sauce

Best Meal for your Money: Taco Soup

Most Popular Recipe Around our House: Cilantro Lime Rice Burrito Bowl

Most Popular Holiday Appetizer: Redneck Sushi

And with that, I recommend that you check out some of the most popular recipes and maybe even make one yourself! And happy new year!!

In superlatives... high school style,
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Sunday, December 30, 2012

{Go there}: Local on the Square.

I've loved all of these new(ish) places opening up in Downtown and Midtown Memphis. I really feel like it is part of Memphis really coming into its own and finding its identity as a city. Recently I was naming off places people could go eat that were fun downtown and my brother said he had never been to any of them - and I realized it is because most opened within the past four years while he's been at college. It is a fun time to be a Memphian.

Speaking of fun times, the investment in Midtown, specifically in Overton Square, is very exciting, especially for us Midtowners. One of our favorite bars, Local, had been working for some time on opening up in Overton Square and it finally opened a few weeks ago. It seems to be doing very well - this is the first time we have gone because it was so crowded (and I had waiting).

We decided to check out Local on the Square at happy hour while visiting with some friends in from out of town. The realty company restored the building (formerly occupied by Yosemite Sam's) and it is beautiful inside now. There are two levels and lots of different seating arrangements - tables, bars, chairs, depending on what you're there for. They revamped their menu a bit as well and I can't wait to try some of their new items.

While we were there we got our favorite, the bar fries. These are their shoestring fries covered in blue cheese, bacon, and scallions. Definitely a must if you're getting appetizers.

I have heard that they are still having some growing pains (long waits, slow service) but I'm hoping that with time that will get ironed out because I'm excited to have another hang out in Midtown - I'm not always up for driving (and parking) downtown and Bosco's gets crowded fast on Fridays at 5.

In Midtown being Memphis,
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Saturday, December 29, 2012

{Make this}: Easy Mexican-ish Rice.

I've said this before but as you cook you learn what are your own "staples" of the pantry. Those things you in particular use over and over in addition to the real staples like olive oil and pasta. For my parents, it is canned tomatoes. Seriously their pantry is full of canned tomatoes. For us, I've found that it is black beans and rotel. We can use those ingredients in almost anything. And here's another....

The other day we were making chicken and decided to use our Tajin seasoning on the chicken to make it a little zesty. We had made something earlier in the week that used cilantro and lime so we had that leftover. Usually we would just make our favorite cilantro-lime rice (inspired by Chipotle) but this time we decided to add to it and it made a creation I just had to share. I call it "mexican-ish" because it really isn't mexican rice at all, only "ish".

Easy Mexican-ish Rice

You'll need:

White Rice (1 cup)
Cilantro (chopped, fresh)
1 Can Rotel (Cilantro Lime kind)
lime juice (1 lime, fresh)
Tajin seasoning

You'll do:

1) Make your rice

2) When the rice is done, stir in the rotel tomatoes (drained), cilantro, lime juice, and all the spices (to taste on spices, we just shook them in and stirred)

3) Serve as a side dish

And it is that simple! See, I told you it was easy.

In rotel and rice,

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Friday, December 28, 2012

{Life} Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas.

Christmas was great to us this year - time with family, getting to see friends. As we slide into the new year, here a few photos to share with you from our celebrations:

We started out the morning on the 24th going to get Christmas donuts -

Then we started getting ready for the day, starting with going to see Santa and get our annual family Santa pic. Here we are getting ready to go -

And here is the picture - this is my fourth Santa picture with the Jaspers but they have many many more spanning from when they are very little. Jake's mom puts them out every Christmas all together.

Then it was time for the Jasper cousins and Grandma Jane to come over -

There was a lot of great food including our favorite jalapeno bacon bites 

and our newly named "redneck sushi," which made an appearance at several family events this year - this is my favorite appetizer.

After some family time with Jake's side of the family, we headed over to my parents house to be with them. We watched Home Alone (my favorite holiday movie) -

Then we ate dinner and went to the midnight service at church:

Then it was Christmas morning! We put all our gifts under the tree for the morning and had our little Christmas celebration just the two of us first thing after waking up.

Then it was time to go over to my parents house again to open presents with them -

We got lots of great things from my family - including a grill for Jake. We were very excited and it was fun to give them their gifts!

Ezra's dog Oscar got a waterproof jacket for Knoxville walks.

Then it was time for breakfast #1, waffles and country ham with eggs:

(Jacob is wearing his t-shirt I got him from Hoop City Memphis)

Then we went over to Jake's parents' house for more presents and another breakfast, then came home and took a nap before going out to his aunt and uncles house.

The next morning we woke up to a white Christmas!

We lounged around the house all morning (I came down with a cold during all of the Christmas mania) and I caught Tyson hanging out in this box - either he wants to be a Christmas present or he wants us to ship him off somewhere:

The dogs had to inspect and see what was going on -

Then that night we continued the family time with Jake's family - we went bowling for his mom's birthday.

His family friends came too and we all went over to their house after the bowling for pizza and watching the Grizz game.

And that was the end of a 4 day streak of family time - and it was time to rest!

In family and friends,

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Wednesday, December 26, 2012

{Make this}: Spaghetti Squash.

Now that Christmas has come and gone (well technically it doesn't "go" until Jan. 5th but that's a different story...), people are looking to New Years and subsequently resolutions. I love seeing a huge switch from Christmas treats to work-outs and healthy food being pinned on Pinterest.

A few weeks ago Jake and I tried out making spaghetti squash. I had heard of it before but never eaten any, much less made it so it seemed like a fun adventure to try it out. Spaghetti squash can be substituted for a pasta or side dish that would usually be a carb. It has a fun texture and can be combined with toppings to mask some of the "squash-y" taste (unless you like that taste...).

So how do you actually cook this? It is pretty fun, to be honest. You'll find your spaghetti squash in the grocery store (during fall/winter). It looks something like this...

First preheat the oven to 375. Then you're going to take a sharp knife and slice it down the middle longways. It is very hard to cut.. just be ready.

You'll spoon out the seeds/insides and put the halves face down on tin foil in a baking sheet. It will go into the oven for an hour to roast.

When an hour passes, you'll let the halves cool for ten minutes and then begin the stranding process. You'll take your fork and start scraping the inside, creating the "spaghetti."

You can serve the spaghetti squash with lots of different toppings. We ate it with spaghetti sauce and had green beans on the side.

If spaghetti sauce isn't your thing, you can check out lots of ideas here for suggestions on how to prepare the dish. I particularly am interested in the one with bacon, parmesan, and garlic - that is our next plan.

Making spaghetti squash is ridiculously easy (but does take some time since it has to roast) so I recommend you try it out.

In eating healthier,

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Monday, December 24, 2012

{Life}: Merry Christmas!!

Merry Christmas from all of us, human, canine, and feline! I hope your Christmas is filled with happiness and celebration. We've got lots of plans with family and friends for today and tomorrow but we've already had quite the fun so far on our Christmas break. Here's a little peek at what we've been up to -

Lessons and Carols service with the family:

Catching up with some of my students from last year:

Starry Nights with Jake's family:

A festive dining room, a table with room for lots of dinner guests:

A selfie:

Snuggles with Tyson:

Tyson the Christmas Kitty:

Visiting with my cousin Amy and her sweet little Layla:

A Neighborly Christmas concert with Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors:

Lots of fun cards in the mail from friends and family:

Packages wrapped up and ready to go:

Merry Christmas everyone!

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