Saturday, October 22, 2011

glimpses of fall

i am finally embracing fall as it has been slowly making itself more permanent in greenville. i really don't love the cold weather, but i do SO love everything that goes along with it.

2 weekends ago my husband and went on a camping trip in the pisgah forest off the blue ridge parkway. it was the perfect camping weekend. it was nice and warm during the day and almost freezing at night. we got to do some hiking during the day and then sat by our campfire at night with our hot chocolate and smores. i think that i finally managed to get the campfire smell out of all of our clothes. i really was beginning to think that my hair was permanently campfire scented. 

the views from our hike were gorgeous 

we found this little trail through the forest and the sunlight through the trees was beautiful

these are my 2 favs in the whole world

paisley and i hiking through the fun twisty trees

me and the happiest puppy in the whole world. 
she was so excited to be surrounded by the outdoors all weekend.

the red leaves are my favorites

i love all the bright fall leaves though

the beautiful colors of october in north carolina

we finally wore paisley out, but not for long

last weekend was fall for greenville in downtown greenville. 
they block off most of the main street in greenville and bring in over 40 local food vendors. they set up 5 stages and had live music playing all day long all 3 days. people seemed to come out of the woodwork to come downtown. since we live right off main street we walked down all 3 days to enjoy some of the best people watching in the area. we had a great time and would recommend you attend next year.

me and topher enjoying the beautiful weather at fall for greenville

the thousands of people on main street

what a fun fall festival our little town has

sunday was a slightly more manageable crowd. 

i finally got all of the fall decorations up in our house. it makes me extremely excited for halloween to arrive! 
i love all holidays, but halloween, thanksgiving, and christmas are a fun tri-fecta of holidays and just far enough apart to have recovered from the previous one to prepare for the next.

here's a glimpse into our home (pardon the clutter in the background) at some of our fall decor

i love this pumpkin tureen

i thought that our livingroom looked fun in the sunlight this morning.
my candlabra is compliments of the dollar tree

and paisley must have felt that she was being left out, so she came to pose in a picture

i was particularly excited about my skeleton garland

and this is a picture of paisley after our walk downtown this morning.
this was the next to last downtown market, and since i will most likely be working next saturday morning with the arrival of baby #5 in my nanny family, we decided to go enjoy one last greenville saturday market.
if you haven't been yet, you might want to go next week, october 29th, for the autumn harvest celebration. trick or treating, costume contests, cake walk, fall recipe swap, etc.

happy fall!!!

soup and such

every fall (for the past 3 years) some of my friends and i have had, what is now our "traditional", annual soup night. i don't really know what it was that inspired me to launch this tradition, but i am so thankful that i did.
this years' soup night was this past wednesday evening. the weather couldn't have been more perfect for soup eating. it was rainy, 58 degrees, and windy. and i don't think that it could be argued that this year was by far our best-ever year for deliciousness! and as always a fun time to catch up with friends that we seem to see far too infrequently.

our friend katie recently moved back to greenville and this was her soup night inauguration. :)  

our friends baird and zach, armed with their muffin tins.
 i forget where i got this idea, but muffin tins have proven to be the perfect vessel for soup sampling. 

tara and her sweet little girl masha getting their soup.

owen and katie all decked out in their halloween attire.

masha just didn't know what to think about topher. 

everyone enjoying their soup

 our first soup night as a married couple. :)

 owen opted out of soup and had a lunchable... well, actually, he had an oreo. 
and he was a big fan of the M&M's. 

this is what my muffin tin ended up looking like.

this year's menu : 
sour cream corn bread {tara}
italian pasta and white bean soup {katie t}
chicken and wild rice soup {baird}
'fire breathing dragon' taco soup {katie l}
spicy white chicken chili {nora, *that's me}

 2 weeks ago my friends christina and john had me over for dinner while topher (my hard-working husband) was sleeping (he works nights, which makes our hours together somewhat limited).they made me some pretty amazing white chicken chili. sadly,  i couldn't find the recipe that they used, so i combined 3 different white chicken chili recipes to make mine.

nora's white chicken chili recipe:
 (or at least pretty close)

3 large chicken breasts, baked and shredded
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 onions, diced
4 jalapeno peppers, seeds and ribs removed and diced finely
3 large cloves garlic
1- 4oz. can green chilies (undrained)
2 tsps. cumin
2 tsps. oregano
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
6 cups chicken broth
3 cans white beans (undrained)
1/2 c. diced cilantro
3 Tbsp. lime juice
sliced green onion
shredded monterey jack cheese

first of all, there were so many things that i experimented with in this recipe that i probably should have had a back-up plan... but fortunately it was edible and i actually really liked it.

i accidentally bought chicken thighs instead of breasts, so despite being nauseated after deboning those, the chicken thigh meat was a lot more tender than chicken breasts. if you are limiting fat in your diet, the chicken breast is a much better option.

1. begin by sauteing the onion in the olive oil. after about 2 minutes add the garlic, jalapenos, and chilies. place a lid on your pan to sweat the onions and peppers. i let mine go for about 3 minutes. then add the cumin, oregano, garlic powder, cayenne, black pepper, and nutmeg (which does seem like a strange thing to have in chili, but it gives it a little bit of a smokey flavor). let that cook for about a minute.

2. then add the chicken broth and white beans and let heat through. next add the chicken. let everything simmer for 10-15 minutes. i left my soup on low heat for about an hour at this point, but you don't have to.

3. about 10 minutes before serving the chili add the cilantro and lime juice. 

4. serve with green onion and shredded cheese ( i personally liked it better without the cheese)

the white chicken chili is on the bottom right. so yummy!!!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

buffalo chicken dip

i meant to post this about 2 months ago. i made this for my husband to bring in this year's football season. before we met i didn't really care for buffalo anything. i didn't like wings, i didn't like hot sauce, and i never would have imagined hearing myself say that anything "buffalo" was edible, but at times in recent months i have found myself suggesting buffalo chicken whatever not only because i know that my husband will like it, but because secretly i am beginning to like it a lot. 

this dip is really simple and really good!!!... if you like buffalo wing flavor. ;)

Buffalo Chicken Dip

start by baking and shredding 3 chicken breasts and placing them in a 9"x13" pan.

stir in 3/4 a bottle of your favorite buffalo wing sauce. i used texas pete, because it was the
 most cost-efficient 

this is what it should look like. make sure that you don't get it too runny or the consistency of the dip is way too runny to 'dip' in.

1 block of cream cheese
4 oz. blue cheese crumbles
1/2 cup blue cheese salad dressing
(blue cheese with gorgonzola 
is my favorite for this dip)

once smooth, spread over chicken mixture in pan

sprinkle with 1 1/2 cups mexican cheese or colby-jack and dust with paprika 

bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes; until slightly golden brown and bubbly

serve with tortilla chips or 'dipper' of your choice. i personally prefer pretzel thins. 

Buffalo Chicken Dip Ingredients

 3 chicken breasts, baked or grilled and shredded
3/4 bottle buffalo wing sauce of your choosing
1 8 oz. block cream cheese
4 oz. blue cheese crumbles
1/2 cup blue cheese salad dressing
1 1/2 cups shredded mexican cheese mix
paprika (optional)

happy football season!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Coffee Filter Fall Wreath

for about a month now i have been feeling the need to pull out the fall decorations. not only because fall's arrival is a happy reminder that some of my favorite holidays are just around the corner, but also because every time that i arrived home and looked at our front porch, i would see our spring/summer flower basket hanging on the front door and the 4th of july bunting still draped across the porch railing. i knew that if i had something to replace these decorations that i would feel far more motivated to take them down.
i had seen several fall wreaths that i liked on pinterest...

i really liked this rosette burlap wreath

this yarn and felt wreath made me happy too.

but i fell in love with the look of this coffee filter wreath

the day after i bought my coffee filters for my wreath, emily jones of jonesdesigncompany, whose blog is among my favorites, posted this wreath that she had made out of paint-dyed coffee filters. and although it is gorgeous, it seemed a little tedious to me and it wasn't quite as fall-ish as i was hoping to create.

i read the tutortial for the first filter wreath. she said that she had dyed her white coffee filters with coffee, which i thought sounded like a lot of work, especially since they sell beige coffee filters. maybe i'm just lazy, but i went with the less creative, less time-consuming, pre-colored filters for our wreath. and here is how it turned out-

i thought that the wreath needed some color to keep the beige wreath on our beige door from looking so bland. one of my favorite things about fall is all the warm colors, so i found these berries which had the reds and oranges that i adore so much. and i thought that the curly branches were fun and whimsical. 

here is a brief tutorial on making the coffee filter "ruffles" or flowers.

i folded each round coffee filter in half and then into uneven thirds.

i repeated by folding 2 more filters into thirds 

don't crease the folds, you want them to look loose and "ruffley"

pinch the bottom of the 3 coffee filter ruffle 'wedges' and twist a piece of wire around them.

you can either hot glue or wire the filter ruffles to your wreath form.
i twisted mine onto a wire form like this,

but a foam form and hot glue would work just as well.

i wanted my ruffles to look very full, so i ended up using about 175 filters, but if you like the looser look, just use less.
i put the branches and berries on first and then added the filters around them. 
to finish the wreath off, i attached our C monogram with fishing wire.

i thought about taking pictures of the process as i was making it, but i was too focused on getting it finished to take a break to get the camera.

and of course, paisley was a very eager assistant in every step of the wreath making and hanging. ;)