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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Gameday Grub

This is a post I started a while ago but never published.  But since we are heading to New Orleans for the Super Bowl, I thought it was great timing to post a delicious "cajun meal."  Cajun Chicken Pasta isn't the most traditional New Orleans dish, but it would be delicious to cook up while you're cheering on the 49ers next Sunday!   
This idea was inspired by one of my favorite cooking blogs, the Pioneer Woman. As many people know, I love browsing recipes for ideas and then making my own "version." Also-I should note that my measurement system is very much a guess.  I'm sorry to those of you who like to have exact measurements-it's just not my style!   This meal isn't easy on the waist line-but man was it yummy (and of course created before the new year).  Plus, it's okay to indulge every once in a while, right? 
Here's what you'll need:


  • 2-3 whole boneless, skinless chicken breasts (cut into cubes)
  • 1 pound smoked or andouille sausage (sliced into half moon shapes)
  • 3-4 teaspoons cajun spice mix (I made my own using Emeril's essence, cayenne, onion and garlic powder, oregano, thyme and salt and pepper)
  • 1 pound penne pasta
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil and butter
  • 1/2 a red, yellow and green bell pepper (seeded and sliced-you can definitely use one or all colors here) 
  • 1/2 yellow onion, sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 roma tomatoes, diced
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup Heavy Cream
  • a few dashes of hot sauce and worcestershire sauce
  • Sliced green onion (for garnish)
Here are all of the ingredients lined up for ya :)

Season your chicken with the cajun seasoning mix and then start browning in the olive oil and butter mixture.....

Then do the same with the sausage-(forgot a picture of that one) It might be even tastier to do that in reverse order.  The smoked sausage "drippings" will flavor the pan and will give your chicken an extra layer of deliciousness (just an after-thought).
Add all of your veggies and sweat them out until they are starting to soften but are still a little crisp. I would recommend adding the tomatoes towards the end (so they don't get too mushy) and seasoning with a little more cajun spice mix here too.....
Remove your veggies and add the chicken stock-whisking along the way until it's good and bubbly and reduced a bit too.  You want to pick up the good "stuff" on the bottom of the pan.  After it's reduced add the cream, along with a couple of dashes of hot sauce and worcestershire and let it bubble and thicken up.  Once your sauce looks, well, saucey- add everything (meat and veggies) back into the pan.
And it will look like this!
 Don't forget to boil your pasta in some salty water in the mean time and throw it all in too. Then-it will look like this! The pasta will also soak up some of the sauce at this point so it won't be as      liquid-y (is that a word?!).
Garnish with some scallions and put on your comfy pants!  YUM! 

Hope you all enjoy this as much as we did!  It's almost Super Bowl time, y'all!  Who's excited?!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

We are the Champions!!

This weekend will go down as one of the most exciting times we have had yet!  We were able to travel to Atlanta for the NFC Championship game for the 49ers vs. Falcons game. Holy moly was it a nail-biter!  But the best part is....WE WON!  Yay!  The Niners are Super Bowl bound and I couldn't be happier for the team, especially my brother-in-law, Andy and my sister Rachel.  I know she is so proud and so are we!  What an incredible experience! 
William and I arrived on Saturday, checked into the hotel and walked next door to Jalapeno Charlies for a cold beer and some delicious nachos.

Next we met up with the rest of the gang for dinner at Durango's!  It was so great to see the Lee Family!

Mom and Jimmy

William and Me at dinner
The whole gang at dinner!
I forgot to take pictures, but after dinner we headed up to the Sundial Lounge at our hotel.  It's on the 73rd floor!  SUPER high!  The lounge area rotates around very slowly so while you're enjoying a cocktail, you also get a view of the city.  It was really nice.
The rest of the group came in a little later on Sunday, but we were able to meet up and do some pregame drinks and lunch at Ted Montana's.  They specialize in bison, and it was delicious!

We are ready to cheer on the Niners!

All the girls, minus Seantel!

Rachel and I about to head over to the dome!

Rach and Mom

Rachel with Mom and Jimmy

Stadium pics

The boys!
Great seats!

 After the game, we were able to head down and congratulate Andy, and of course he was sporting his championship hat! Woo hoo!

Stef, Me and Katie, celebrating the win!

Chester and Paula, Andy and Rachel, Mom and Jimmy, William and me

The gang again! 
What an incredible trip we had!  So glad we left with a win and a trip to the Super Bowl!! Congratulations to all of the 49ers!  Who's got it better than us??.........NOBODY! 

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Another Weekend in the books....

It was a busy weekend and has been a busy week so far-sorry I haven't updated at all until now. I know you all are terribly upset :)  
Last weekend, I was able to have a "girls night out" with one of my best friends, Rebecca Swygert.  We visited one of our favorite restaurants, Gervais & Vine, for Columbia Restaurant Week.  We love to share and sample different things so it turned out perfectly.  We were stuffed, but not too stuffed to head out for our Rebecca Squared tradition-some karaoke!  We always have a great time together and it was really nice to catch-up. Rebecca even gave us a sweet gift, a canvas painting or our sweet boy, Henry that we lost a few weeks ago.  It meant so much to both of us and William immediately hung up the picture in our guest room. I don't have a picture handy, but it really does look just like him, and he's on a boat like he used to always join William fishing.  It was such a sweet and thoughtful gift and really meant a lot. We love you!
The second part of the weekend was spent celebrating with the Rogers Family, some of our most favorite people!  I ventured over to Elizabeth's 4th birthday party on Saturday and had a blast!  The party was held at Chapin Christian Gymnastics and there was so much to do (even for adults)!  Trampolines in the floor, rope swings into foam pits, balance beams, uneven bars-it was super fun!  I can't believe how much Elizabeth has grown!  I heard her saying such cute things to her friends like "thanks for coming to my party, guys!" and "Guess what, I'm 4!."  Such a fun personality already!
The next day, we headed to Clark and Kelly's church for Hannah's baptism.  What a sweet little angel she was!  She was so quiet and precious throughout the entire service.  Because I am Hannah's godmother, I even got to stand up during the baptism with the family.  It was a really special time for all of the Rogers family and for us as well.  We are so glad to have such good friends whose children's lives we get to be a part of! And it doesn't hurt that they are SUPER cute :)
The other part of our weekend involved football.  The 49ers sent the Green Bay Packers packing (literally)-so...................Guess where we are heading this weekend??? The NFC Championship in Atlanta to face the Falcons!! WOO HOO!  This is the 49ers second NFC Championship appearance in the last two years, and this time we are confident that it's going to lead to a trip to the SUPER BOWL!  How exciting, right?!  Most of our family is making the trip to Atlanta, and we are all so excited.  Although we would've preferred the Niners to have a homefield advantage, it sure did work out well for them to be so close to our neck of the woods!  GO NINERS!
Here are some old pics of the family supporting the Niners-more to come after the weekend!!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Back to the Basics

Well, here we are. Already a full week in to 2013.  So you know what that means-resolution time!  AND-back to the gym!  I fell off the work out wagon months ago and I'm slowly getting back into a routine.  Man-it sure is tough after a 3-4 month hiatus.  I can give you LOTS of excuses as to why I haven't been exercising....
1. Work was SUPER busy!!
 2. It was the holidays, guys!
 3. I had a lot of after work obligations!
 4. Day light savings time kicked in-who wants to drive to the gym in the dark?!
Should I keep going? The truth is.....I was just being lazy. ME, lazy?!  Shocking, I know.  But then, there was proof. My pants were getting tight and I started thinking-time to get back on track (after new years of course!).  So here I am I am on the adventure again....the never ending cycle of making a resolution to eat better and exercise regularly.  It's only been a week back in, but I have managed to work out every day so far, with the exception of one.  Not bad! I'm going to try my best to stay ON the wagon this time.  Trust me-starting from scratch will remind you how sore you can be :)
Besides that, I have made a few other resolutions:
1. Show a random act of kindness to a friend or family member at least once a month.  I have decided that this can be a hand written note, an inexpensive gift, a homecooked meal or treat.  Anything that will be a suprise to them and hopefully make their day.  This one kind of reminds me of the "Friends" episode where they ask the question: Is there such a thing as a truly unselfish act? One in which someone benefits while the person performing the act receives nothing in return? Joey believes not.....Phoebe sets out to prove him wrong. (Remember that one?? I love that show :))   I think Joey was right though-I think I will also feel very rewarded by sticking to this resolution.
2. Say no more often.  I tend to over-commit to things.  I joke about it all the time!  "You know I can't say no!"  I am a people pleaser. A "yes" girl if you will.  As much as I love having a plan, and saying "yes!" to another glass of wine, I need to learn when my plate is full (literally).  I worry too much about disappointing others, but in reality I have to put myself and my husband at the top of the list.
3.  Stop Worrying!  I stress to much about little stuff that always ends up working out.  Less worry=less stress.  Sounds good to me!
What are your New Years Resolutions?  Are you sticking to them? 

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

What you may not know-2013 edition

Well Happy New Year everyone!  I hope you all had a fantastic time over the holiday season and spent some time celebrating with family and friends.  We stayed pretty busy over my almost two week vacation from work, it sure was tough getting back into the swing of things today!  We started off with our first house party.  We had a great time cooking, decorating and of course having wonderful friends and family over to celebrate.  Here are a few pictures from the celebration:
The cocktail area:

Food-yum!  Of course this was my favorite part.  I spent a lot of time trying to decide what to make, and thoroughly enjoyed all of the preparation.  Food makes me happy :)

Fried Ravioli

The Derrick's and the Walkers

Walker Family X two!

Lippard girls

Lippard and Walkers

Walkers and Swygerts

Walkers and Kelleys (almost)
William and I also got to spend our first Christmas together. Since we've been dating, William has always gone to Signal Mountain, Tennesee to spend time with his family, and I have always stayed here to do the same with mine. This year was my first trip to the mountain, our first Christmas together, AND our first as a married couple!  We really had a great time. We spent most of the days there stuffing our faces with delicious treats, chatting with everyone, and even made time for some card playing. I had heard so much about how special the "house on the mountain" was, and it was so nice to finally see it in person. William's mom, Jayne, even made me my own stocking. It had my name cross-stitched on it and everything! It made me feel so special and excited to be part of such a wonderful family.  Here are some pictures from our trip.

The outside breezeway bar area :)

Turkey fryin' time!

Signal Mountain Christmas Eve

Silly hat time!

Personalized napkins-so cute!

Not the best photo, but it was Christmas morning and we were festive, so why not?

Our first Christmas!

My what you may not know this week is not a happy one.  With all of the fun that we had over the holidays, we unfortunately also lost a very special part of our family. William's dog, Mr. Henry, went to dog heaven on Friday, December 28th. He was a precious dog that everyone couldn't help but to love. He was always spinning in circles with excitement, leaning on top of you when you were close and exhibiting unconditional love, especially to William. We loved him very much and will miss him forever. We are so glad he is not in pain, but will miss him dearly.

"... what we have enjoyed, we can never lose ... all that we love deeply becomes a part of us."
Helen Keller
We love you Mr. Henry!