A while back, I wrote about different audiobooks I was going through on Audible during my Monday drives. I had listed to Crazy Rich Asians before watching the movie and loved that I did it that way. The book has much more detail to it and added to the movie so much for me. Recently, I trekked through the second and third installments of the trilogy and really wish that Kevin Kwan would go in for a fourth. The detail he puts into his characters, their language, and the intricate plot lines is phenomenal. I have loved every minute; and trust me, these are lengthy reads. I hope they are planning to make these into movies, too. Crazy Rich Girlfriend was my favorite of the series and would be hysterical on the big screen.
Give them a listen; and if you have any suggestions for my listening pleasure, SHARE!
I was scrolling through my photos on my iPhone (I have a lot of storage, so there were tons to sift through) looking for a recipe we’ve tried to share with you. I came across this amazing looking spread of miniature cupcakes my mom made for a Garden Club event last spring. Since it’s February finally, that means that prep can begin for another busy spring of events here in Natchez. Keep this simple recipe on hand for your potluck for anything from Valentine’s Day to Easter Sunday.
Strawberry Cupcakes with Vanilla Icing
For cupcakes, use a strawberry mix and prepare as directed in miniature cupcake tins.
2/3 cup Crisco (butter or regular)
1-pound box powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 cup water (for mixing)
Beat all ingredients with a hand mixer until smooth. More water can be added if needed. Use a piping bag with decorative tip to ice the cooled cupcakes and top with sprinkles.
After spending the weekend in a Benadryl/Mucinex fog, I thought I’d share a round up of what I finished on the AppleTV the past few days.
Now, I originally started this series on Lifetime in the fall when it premiered. However, I lost track 3 episodes in. I kept hearing people mention it over the past couple of weeks and thought what better time to binge through? It did not disappoint. I can’t wait for the follow up season (whenever that may be).
Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes (Netflix)
Another series that did not disappoint. I went in knowing the basic amount of Ted Bundy history, but I knew I’d be hooked to this in depth take on his terror in the 70’s. To hear his own take on his crimes was interesting, but can you believe someone actually married that freak? And can you believe Zac Efron is playing him in the upcoming biopic? I mean, I’ll go see it. But it’s going to ruin that beautiful man for me.
Fyre Fraud (Hulu) vs Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened (Netflix)
Ok. Watch the Netflix documentary first. It gives more detail that the Hulu one misses. Plus, I didn’t know anything about this before watching. So, seeing Billy McFarland try to get through that interview in the Hulu special without throwing up on himself was entertaining by itself. I’m left with a lot of questions though. 1. Who would pay that much money for that? 2. Were these employees of his in a cult? Was he their leader? Do they need Leah Remini to save them? 3. How is Ja Rule still a thing? I’ll be interested to hear more opinions on this.
I have a love for cheese. However, after my gallbladder incident 4 years ago, I had to break up with it for a while. I’m slowly working my way back into its good graces, but it’s hard to say no to a good cheese tray.
Over the holidays, I tried my hand at perfecting the cheese board for a couple of get togethers. I researched Pinterest to see what all of the professionals think is the key to a good cheese board. Hard cheese. Soft cheeses. Fruits. Vegetable. Nuts. Crackers. Bread. Jellies. and Jams. Everyone had a different take, but all stayed consistent on one thing. Cover the entire platter. Leave no open space.
So, off to Whole Foods I went in search of the perfect cheeses and accoutrements. Here is what works for me:
Cheese for Days Plate
1 block sharp or white cheddar cheese
1 block Edam cheese
1 roll goat cheese
Wafer crackers (I used a sea salt and cracked pepper cracker and a rosemary cracker.)
Start by arranging the 3 cheeses in separate corners of the platter. Circle the cheese with the crackers of your choice. Place a bowl of pepper jelly near the cheddar and Edam cheeses. Create a mound of the berries near the goat cheese. Fill in your gaps with the walnuts. Make sure to have a cheese knife set to help with self serving of the cheeses.
So, I’ve really dived deep into the KonMari effect. I’ve changed the way I fold. I’ve thrown away more shoe boxes than is reasonable to have found in my closet. I’ve donated 5 large bags worth of clothing, and I haven’t even touched what is hanging in my closet. I’m working through the kitchen now and finding so much space. It’s amazing what gets pushed back in the pantry. Plus, those baskets are key to organizing that mess. I’ve found that keeping things together in families helps me see what I’m looking for rather than hunting for it.
After (plus color coding)
I mentioned last week that I was working on my T-shirts. I was able to purge down all of my dresser drawers to where I have 3 empty at the moment. THREE! I can’t wait to keep going and see what I’ll get rid of. My house already feels like its lost 30 pounds of nonsense.
Who else is Marie Kondo-ing their life? I just started watching the show after hearing about her book several years ago and seeing several posts about it recently. While I don’t think I have quite the problem as most of her clients, this has been so helpful to spark me into my annual purge. I usually try to clean out my closet each year, but this year I think the entire house needs a once over. Every drawer, cabinet, and closet will get reorganized. After finding all of those plastic bags at the beginning of the year, I decided that I can probably end up with an empty kitchen cabinet at the end of this.
I. Can’t. Wait.
One way that our family likes to add in a green vegetable during the holidays is with a pan of these delicious green bean bundles. They are smothered in butter, brown sugar, and soy sauce, which makes them sweet and savory at the same time. During the year, this is also a simple combination to dress up a can of green beans on a Tuesday.
Green Bean Bundles
3 15-ounce cans whole green beans
1 package bacon, cut in half
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup melted butter
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
Drizzle of soy sauce
Using the bacon strips, secure 5 to 10 green beans into a bundle with a toothpick. Place bundles in a 9-inch by 13-inch baking dish and cover with the marinade of brown sugar, butter, soy sauce, and garlic salt. Refrigerate overnight. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes uncovered.
I’ve always considered myself as someone who can clean out and throw away when it comes to cabinets, closets, and drawers. As I’ve been putting up Christmas, I’ve been creating a pile to be donated. I learned over the weekend that I do indeed hoard a good bit. When I was forced to clean up my kitchen cabinets, I found an unbelievable amount of plastic shopping bags crammed into the crevices of my kitchen eating up valuable storage. About a year ago, I did make the change to paper when faced with the question “paper or plastic.” I can recycle those each week, and they tend to stand up better when getting from my car to the house in one trip. However, one store in particular does not offer paper options. (Damn you, Wal-Mart.) So, to the trash they went; and I vowed to not keep a single bag this year.
What have you cleaned out in 2019 that shocked you?
I have to say that the only gift I needed to open Christmas morning was my brand new stainless KitchenAid stand mixer. I couldn’t believe it and had to ask my mom if it was real or just a trick. I couldn’t wait to plug her up and take her for a spin. First up, chocolate chip cookies. These that I made were the best I’ve ever had. They were soft with just the right amount of chocolate plus the crunch from the pecans I added. Mom did give me some good advice as I went through the baking process. I’ll be honest; I’m not a patient baker. However, the speed of the mixer helped cut that anxiousness I feel when the mixing takes too long or I can’t get something perfect. She did say to beat that butter (which you have to melt first) and sugar until it is creamy and thick. Also, add in the dry baking soda and salt before the flour. This will get those two incorporated well before they get lost in the flour. I also doubled this recipe, so I ended up with 3 dozen cookies. Be sure to watch them closely in the oven. That real butter bakes quickly.
Chocolate Chip and Pecan Cookies
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup white sugar
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped pecans
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Microwave the butter for about 40 seconds to just barely melt it. It shouldn’t be hot – but it should be almost entirely in liquid form. Using a stand mixer, beat the butter with the sugars until creamy. Add the vanilla and the egg; beat on low speed until just incorporated – 10 to 15 seconds or so (if you beat the egg for too long, the cookies will be stiff). Add the baking soda and salt, and mix in. Then slowly add the flour. It should form one large ball that is easy to handle Add the chocolate chips and pecans and incorporate evenly with a spatula. Scoop out the dough with a 1 ounce ice cream scoop and place on a cookie sheet. Bake for 9 to 11 minutes until the cookies look puffy and dry and just barely golden. Let them cool slightly before transferring to a rack to cool completely.
I took a couple of quizzes over the weekend that gave me two words to use as my “word of the year.” One told me “delight” should by my word. I like the idea, but I needed something a little stronger. I took another, and it told me “ambitious” was supposed to be my word.
During 2018, I had a client tell me after we closed a contract that I had been very ambitious during the process. I think that makes a point that I need to use that same mind set throughout the entire year with all of my clients at work and then at home, too. So, I’ll be ambitious with my cleaning, ambitious with my baking, and we will see what else.
Happy 2019, everyone!