Friday, September 28, 2012

Salads

Lately I have been whipping up my own tuna salad recipe for Forrest to take with him to work. I have to say it is really yummy! Of course I  have no pictures of the actual salad!

Catherine's Tasty Tuna Salad

Ingredients
3 cans low sodium tuna, packed in water (better than oil)
1 cup (ish) of Mayo made w/ Olive Oil
1/4 cup spicy brown mustard
1/2 stalk of celery, diced
2 hard boiled eggs, chopped
3 heaping tablespoons wickles relish

Now, this is a guestimate list--I usually put the tuna in a bowl, squeeze in the mayo, and mix. I keep adding mayo until it is incorporated well with the tuna. Then I add the mustard and the rest of the ingredients. Once you mix it all up, you may want a little more mustard and/or mayo depending on how creamy you like your salad.
The magic of this salad is the Wickles. OMG--Julie and Lance turned me on to these spicy/sweet pickles and now Forrest and I have to ration them when eating them straight out of the jar! Regular relish would be find in the tuna, but why would you use that, now that you know about Wickles? You will thank me, I promise.

On Wednesday I made this recipe of Moroccan Braised Chicken. I found it on Pinterest of course, and was DYING to try it, especially after I bought myself a dutch oven over the weekend. It smelled AMAZING while cooking and Forrest and I were chopping at the bit to get our forks into it, and then, we were SO disappointed!! The chicken was just so blah!! Despite all of the good smells coming out of the pot, the chicken had zero flavor. I made about 10 chicken thighs thinking we'd much off of the recipe for lunches and dinners over the weekend but after discovering the tastelessness, I knew it would get wasted and I HATE that. I asked Forrest what in the world was I going to do with tasteless chicken and he responded "chicken salad". Hmm! Now that was a idea! I found THIS recipe on Pinterest and hunkered down for another try. I modified it a little so the recipe below is what I changed the original one to be.

Cranberry Pecan Chicken Salad
8 chicken thighs cooked, skin removed, and shredded
1/4 cup pecans, toasted and roughly chopped
1/3 cup granny apple, diced into small chunks (1/4-1/2 inch)
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 cup Mayo made with olive oil
1 tablespoon rosemary, minced
In a large bowl, combine, shredded chicken (about 2 cups), pecans, shallots, green apple, and cranberries. Toss with dressing until well combined.
Season to taste with salt and pepper. Chill for at least an hour until ready to serve.

Truth be told, the ingredients above are all guesses too. After I shredded up the chicken I just added mayo until creamy and then poured the cranberries and pecans from the bag until the ratio looked ok. Then I sprinkled on the rosemary and stirred it in. The original recipe called for Greek yogurt instead of mayo but of course my store didn't have it so I went with all mayo. It also suggested adding some apple cider vinegar, which probably would be yummy too. 
This pic is from the link above, and doesn't it make you want to get your hands on some of this salad asap??

Monday, September 24, 2012

Football Weekends

Now that it is football season we mark the time in our house by games. When is that party? It is before the Texas A&M game and after LSU. Now, in our house, this means the first full week of November. Make sense to you?? If not, it's ok. You will catch on soon enough!! :)
This weekend was extra fun because we hung out with our Young Marrieds group on Friday night. We went to the Wills Creek Winery again for a private tasting with owners Janie and Jahn. We did this last year and LOVED it so I made sure to schedule it again. The weather was perfect, as was the view, and we enjoyed chatting, munching on fruit and cheese, and tasting SEVERAL wines in the beautiful fall outdoors!My favorite was the peach wine-arita and Forrest liked a very dry red. We purchased both before we left and I can't wait to have a reason to use them soon!
Jahn, Jesse minus Jenna, the Monks, the Fords, and the Baileys

Afterwards our group went to Tre Ragazzis, a brand new Italian restaurant in town. We all enjoyed the food and fellowship!
The next day Forrest went off mountain biking with some friends and my cousin Sara and I headed to Tuscaloosa for the Florida Atlantic game. We made a stop into the AOII house for Backyard Bash, one of their largest philanthropy events. The house was PACKED!!! Way to go girls on a successful event!

Jennifer, Sara, and Me hanging out at the sorority house
Afterwards we met my parents to eat in the stadium club before going into the game. It was SO hot but it is hard to complain when your team wins 40-7. I was disappointed that we didn't get the shut out, but we looked pretty good so I suppose I will keep my mouth shut! We hung out at my sister's house before heading back home, listening to football all the way!

On Sunday Forrest and I were both exhausted after our fun Saturdays, so after Mass and errands, I took a LONG nap and Forrest chilled and even got some yard work done. Since the weather was so nice we were able to squeeze in a walk before heading to mom and dads for a yummy dinner. This week should be busy and fun too, so stay tuned!!!

 I am including some recipes below that I have tried recently. Hope you enjoy!!

Sausage Ratatouille


Ingredients
  • 3 to 4 links (about 3/4 pound) Italian sausage (I used Turkey sausage to make it healthier)
  • 4 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium-size eggplant, peeled and cut into a 3/4-inch dice
  • 2 small zucchini, halved and sliced
  • 1 large onion, quartered and thinly sliced
  • 1 medium-size green bell pepper, halved, seeded, and sliced
  • 2 to 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups canned diced tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon tomato paste (I used lots more than this because I liked it a little more saucy)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • Kalamata Olives would be DELISH in this!!
Instructions
  1. Bring a medium-size pot of water to a boil. Puncture the sausage links in several places, then cook them at a low boil until they're no longer pink in the center, about 14 minutes. Transfer the links to a plate to cool, then slice them into 1/4-inch-thick rounds.
  2. Over medium-high heat, warm 3 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large, deep skillet or Dutch oven. Add the eggplant and zucchini and sauté them, stirring often, until they are lightly browned but not soft, about 7 minutes. Transfer the vegetables to a plate.
  3. In the same skillet over medium heat, warm the remaining olive oil. Add the onion and bell pepper and sauté them for 3 minutes. Stir in the garlic and sliced sausage and sauté, stirring often, for 3 minutes more. Stir in the tomatoes, eggplant, and zucchini.
  4. Partially cover the skillet and gently simmer the ratatouille for 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste, along with salt and pepper to taste, and simmer 5 minutes more. Stir in the parsley and half of the basil. Serve hot, sprinkled with the remaining basil. Serves 6.
    I served over brown rice!! YUM!!


Worst pic ever, but SUCH a tasty and healthy meal!!


Mediterranean Shrimp Skillet


Ingredients:
8oz dry angel hair pasta
1-1/2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
1-1/2lbs raw medium shrimp, peeled and de-veined
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3 garlic cloves, minced
1-1/2 cups chicken broth, divided
2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon dried basil (could use Italian seasoning)
2 teaspoons cornstarch
4 cups chopped fresh spinach
2 cups cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup feta cheese crumbles
1/4 cup torn fresh basil
(This also would have been great with some Kalamata Olives thrown in)
Directions:
1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. At the same time, heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat, then stir together 1/2 cup chicken broth and cornstarch in a small bowl and set aside. Drop the pasta into the water and cook until al dente. Drain and set aside.
2. Meanwhile, add shrimp to the hot oil, season with salt & pepper, then cook through flipping once. Add garlic and stir continuously for 30 more seconds. Remove shrimp and garlic to a plate and set aside.
3. To the same skillet add 1 cup chicken broth, lemon juice, and dried basil. Pour in cornstarch and chicken broth mixture then bring to a boil and cook for 2 minutes, or until slightly thickened. Add spinach, cherry tomatoes, and  cooked shrimp and garlic,then stir until spinach is wilted. Turn off heat, add in cooked pasta, and toss to combine.
4. Divide amongst plates then serve topped with feta cheese, fresh basil, and freshly cracked pepper, if desired.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Catching Up

Whew!!! What a couple of weeks it has been! My dad and I have been tied up in a trial for a week and a half and I am just starting to try to get things back to normal. It was a GREAT experience and even better because we won! I learn so much by watching cases be tried and in this one I even got to cross examine one of the witnesses! Yay for me! You can check out the details here, should you be so inclined.
Now to attempt to catch you up with the Baileys!! Pictures are probably the best way to get us back to square one, so hope you enjoy! Now that the trial is over I will get back to posting as usual next week!
On September 8th we went to Tuscaloosa for the first home game of the season. My sister did my hair and she wanted credit for it on the blog. I thought she did a really good job!


After the game Forrest and I went by the newly renovated AOII house. I hope to go back this weekend to eat lunch!

Mom and I with our new baby panda, Jennifer! She is sporting the cute necklace I ordered for her off of etsy.
 Check it out!

I got to hang out with my sweet sweet friend Randi! I love football season because I get to see her just about every other weekend!

I cooked, believe it or not, during all of the trial drama. These are some roasted green beans and mushrooms that I made along with a crock pot ham. The poor ham burned though, so we ended up just eating the veggies. That was really my first big cooking fail, and I can blame it on the crock pot. Oops. 

Forrest went to ATL to stay with my brother this past weekend so I went to the Gadsden City Titans game with my sister to see our cousin Sara dance. She is the danceline captain and had a solo, which she of course rocked!

On Saturday I went to Sarah Kathryn's baby shower and then went to watch the game at the Holland's house with my mom and dad! After watching the Tide thoroughly crush the Razorbacks, I went to the Hayes for dinner with a bunch of friends. They did a tailgate theme which was fantastic!!!

Forrest got home on Sunday and we were both tired from our respective weekends. That evening we went to his parents' house to celebrate Mr. Bailey's birthday! Hooray!
We celebrated Mr. Bailey's birthday with an Ooey Gooey Cake from Paula Deen. 

Winning team of lawyers!
Tommy Spina, Rod Giddens (sorry my head is blocking you Rod!), Me, Roy McCord (my daddy), Eddie Cunningham, Morgan Cunningham

Ooey Gooey Cake
Cake 
1 (18.25-ounce) box yellow cake mix 
1 egg 
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted 

Filling : 
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened 
2 eggs 
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 
1 (16-ounce) box confectioners' sugar 
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking pan. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine cake mix, egg, and butter and mix well. Pat into the bottom of prepared pan and set aside. Still using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese until smooth; add eggs and vanilla. Dump in confectioners' sugar and beat well. Reduce speed of mixer and slowly pour in butter. Mix well. 

Pour filling onto cake mixture and spread evenly. Sprinkle 1 cup chocolate chips and 1 cup chopped nuts on top of filling. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes. Don't be afraid to make a judgment call on the cooking time, because oven temperatures can vary. You want the center to be a little gooey.

Sugar Cookies


Farrah invited Forrest and I to dinner the other night and asked that I bring a dessert. As I have been quite the cooking club slacker lately, I decided that I needed to try to sugar cookies that were on our menu for this month. Plus, I mean, you can't have cookies without ice cream, and I had been looking for a reason to buy the new Southern Peach Cobbler ice cream by Bluebell so it was a win win!! I thought these cookies were delicious--very soft and fluffy. 

Sugar Cookies

Ingredients

Mine weren't exactly perfectly round going into the oven but they came out ok!
  • 2 whole Large Eggs
  • 1 cup Canola Oil
  • 2 sticks Butter, Softened
  • 1 cup Sugar, Plus Extra For Sprinkling
  • 1 cup Powdered Sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • 4 cups Plus 2 Tablespoons, All-purpose Flour
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1 teaspoon Cream Of Tartar 

Preparation Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. (Do this after the dough sits in the refrigerator for an hour)
In a large mixing bowl, cream together eggs, oil, butter, sugars, and vanilla.
Add remaining ingredients and mix well. Cover and refrigerate dough one hour.
Using a cookie scoop, drop balls of dough onto an ungreased cookie sheet.
Smear a dab of butter all over the bottom of a glass, then dip the glass in granulated sugar. (I used colored sanding sugar). Use the glass to flatten each ball of dough, dipping again into the sugar each time. Repeat until all are flattened.
Bake for 9 to 11 minutes, until cookies are just barely turning brown. Don't overbrown!
Allow to cool before eating. (I couldn't wait--they are DELICIOUS warm!) Cookies are ultra crumbly! (In a soft way--they are not crunchy!)

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Journey to Jerry's House

....and by that I mean Dallas Cowboys Stadium! What a Labor Day weekend we have had!! After a busy busy work week, Forrest and I were THRILLED to have the opportunity to go see Alabama play Michigan in their opener in Dallas! The fun started bright and early Friday morning. Forrest was working in Anniston, which is on the way to Atlanta, which is where our flight departed, so he hitched a ride with Denise so I could pick him up along the way to save time. I had plans to drive his car that day but it didn't start when I was leaving for work so I just drove mine. Well, Forrest thought we should probably just try to jump his off so as to not put many miles on mine, so I spent the afternoon dealing with that. It wasn't that big of a deal, it was just HOT!! To be safe, I ran it by the Honda dealership for them to take a look at it. As it turns out, the battery was DEAD so I had to buy another one and have it installed before we left. I was undaunted by this tiny hiccup and was even able to get to the clinic early!! As a treat, we had TCBY for dinner--that is what being an adult is all about, right? Then, we drove straight to Turner Field to watch the Braves play the Phillies with my brother and his friends. We had amazing seats in left field by the foul pole. We were on the end so we were able to watch the Phillies pitchers warm up. 
Roy and Papelbon, the Phillies closer who beat us!

Two home run balls actually hit a couple of rows behind us, AND Forrest and I were on the jumbotron!! How exciting! The Braves lost in the end but we still stayed for the Friday night fireworks. I have to admit this was my favorite part of the night!!! 
Smiling with the foul pole

We spent the night with Roy and got up at the CRACK of dawn to make our flight to Dallas. The plane was filled with Bama fans which made the trip so much fun! I was sitting next to a girl who was on her way to see the Tide play for the first time ever, plus, she was sitting in a sky box. What a first experience she must have had! The flight was really smooth and quick and before we knew it we were in our rented Crown Victoria (for real, this was the "premium" car they offered--we looked like cops all weekend) heading to the Gaylord Texan hotel. 
Forrest posing with our ride

Ben and Julianne had booked a weekend at the Gaylord and were sweet enough to invite us to shack up with them for our one night in TX. It was great to be able to spend some one on one time with them AND to be in the team hotel! The atmosphere was amazing!! I was sad that we didn't get there early enough to see many of the players or coaches, but it was a great time nonetheless!
I am embarrassed to say that I have no idea which player this is!!

The team's schedule for the day!

We had lunch in the sports before donning our game day gear and heading to Dallas Cowboys Stadium. 
HUGE tv in the bar

Enjoying their own personal tap

Honestly, if the game hadn't been in such a cool venue, Forrest and I probably won't have spent the time or money to go that far away for such a short period of time. Upon seeing the stadium for the first time, all of that became totally worth it. My oh my that thing is HUGE! It seriously looks like a spaceship, or a transformer beetle (both of my astute descriptions). 
Me and Ben with the stadium

ROLL TIDE!!

After finding a primo parking spot, we were determined to find some of our friends and tailgate. On the way, we stopped at the Fanfare and played some games and got some autographs! 
Me with Dallas Cowboy great Jay Novachek (sp??)

Bama legend Cornelius Bennett!

By the time we were fanfared-out, it was 102 degrees and we were roasting. We elected to head inside the stadium instead of braving the heat. This was a GREAT idea as it was perfectly air conditioned inside the stadium, AND there was so much to see and do! Forrest and I wandered around taking it all in for a while. It was so overwhelming!! 



After we made it to our seats, the frenzy began. Our band played, their band played. They showed both teams' pre-game videos on the ENORMOUS jumbotron. The bands got on the field and played. The teams ran out. OMG, seriously, we were all so hyped up by that time it was crazy. The stadium did a great job of getting the fans into it and keeping the excitement level sky high. I was super nervous about the game because it was the first game and we hadn't had time to work out any kinks, plus, we were playing Michigan, ranked number 8. It really felt like it was anyone's game! During our first series, we went three and out. I was so nervous I told Forrest that I needed to leave--there was no way I could sit in there and lose in that atmosphere!! Luckily we turned it around on the next drive and were up 21 to 0 in the 1st half and won 41-14! Hooray!!! I screamed and cheered and pulled the team through so hard that I was exhausted by the end of the game. I even broke a blood vessel in my eye, probably from all of the shrieking I was doing! It felt wonderful to welcome in the new football season in such a dominating fashion!!! RTR!!
Check out that score!

Yay!!! What a win!

We were so tired and hot after the game that Julianne and I went straight to the room to take showers and put on our pjs, and the boys weren't far behind us, after a quick stop for a celebratory drink at the sports bar. We stayed up watching Sports Center before totally crashing. The next morning Forrest and I said goodbye to the Gartons and went to Mass at St. Francis of Assisi church. They played GREAT music, although my scratchy voice inhibited my singing ability! Afterwards we were SO excited to get to meet Forrest's Aunt Carol for lunch! She lives in Dallas so we definitely wanted to see her while we were there. She took us to a Mexican restaurant called Cozymel's right outside of the Grapevine Mills shopping outlets. where we had AMAZING Mexican brunch!!! After catching, we headed to the outlets to kill time before our flight. These outlets were terrific! They had Legoland (where Forrest visited), an aquarium, ice skating rink, movie theater that served meals, and TONS of shops! I could have spent weeks in there! I was able to find some pretty cute things for some great prices before we had to leave for the airport. Usually I am the one in a hurry to get to the airport but I was so wrapped up in my bargain quest that Forrest had to drag me out of there! 
We arrived at the airport and celebrated with a victory sundae from the ice cream shop before heading to our gate. It was SO much fun to see everyone dressed in their red and white in support of the Tide, even on their way home! The gate to ATL was right next to the gate for passengers headed back to Michigan. Their gate was MUCH much quieter than ours!! We had a great flight home (I sat next to a gentleman who asked me if Alabama was any good at football and if our mascot was the Huskies--seriously? I guess there really is more to the world than football!) and were back at home by 10:30. 
The next day we both slept in SOOOO late! Thank goodness we had a day to rest and relax before having to go back to work. I'm still tired today and I can't imagine how I would have felt yesterday!!! We had lunch with the Baileys and then got some errands done and finished some things around the house. We took a lovely walk and ended up running into Paige and Susan on the way. It was great to see those girls!! Afterwards we had a yummy dinner with mom and dad and headed home early to get some sleep. We were so so lucky to have the opportunity to go to Texas and are thrilled about the upcoming season. Hope you are ready for lots of game day pics for the next few months!!!
 
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