Monday, January 23, 2012

Lauren and Ryals Engagement Party

This past weekend we traveled to Rome, Georgia to celebrate Lauren and Ryals with an Engagement Party! It was so great to see all of our friends, and it is hard to believe their big day is less than 4 months away! 

Let me apologize in advance for the poor quality of pictures - I took all of the pictures with my iPhone so I didn't have to carry my bulky camera around with me all night! 

This picture below cracks me up - not only because if you look in the background you'll see a slideshow of pictures, which just happens to be on a picture of all of us basically doing the same pose! (Sorority squat!) 

Ryals, Johnathan, Kevin and Tanner - all looking very handsome!

Old roommate shot!

After the party we all headed downtown to Mellow Mushroom to get a bite to eat. Well, they weren't serving pizza that late, so we ordered Papa John's instead! It did not take long for these pizzas to be devoured ... 

Such a fun weekend! We can't wait for the next party!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

{Recipes} - Linguine and Meatballs

Hello friends! I wanted to share with you a fun, healthy recipe I tried the other night! I was watching the Food network (shocker!) and saw this recipe on Cooking for Real. Typically when cooking pasta dishes you use a tomato based sauce and add some form of red meat, but when I saw the recipe called for whole wheat pasta, ground chicken, and collard greens turned into pesto, I thought to myself "I have to try this!" I thought it turned out very well, and I know it must have been a success since my husband went back for seconds, and thoroughly enjoyed leftovers the next night!

Collard Green Pesto Linguine

1 pound bunch collards, ribs discarded, leaves roughly chopped
1 (13-ounce) box whole-wheat linguine
1/4 cup pecans
1 1/4 cups grated Parmesan, plus extra for garnish
1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives
2 cloves garlic
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over medium heat. Blanch collards until bright green, about 1 minute. Transfer immediately to an ice bath to shock, saving the boiling water for cooking the pasta. Remove the collards from the ice water and pat dry with paper towels before transferring them to a food processor.

Add the linguine to the pot of salted boiling water and cook according to package instructions.

Meanwhile, in a dry skillet, over low heat, toast the pecans until fragrant. Transfer to the food processor with Parmesan, olives and garlic. With food processor running, slowly drizzle in olive oil until pesto comes together. Taste for seasoning, and add salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste.

To serve, put enough pesto to coat the pasta into a large serving bowl. Drain the pasta and quickly add it to the bowl. The water still clinging to the pasta will loosen up the pesto. Toss to coat. Add more pesto, if needed. Transfer the pasta to a serving bowl and garnish with Parmesan sprinkled over the top.

Zesty Chicken Meatballs

1 pound ground chicken
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 egg, whisked
3 tablespoons unseasoned whole-wheat bread crumbs
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon Hungarian or hot paprika
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon chopped fresh oregano leaves, about 1 small sprig
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves, about 5 sprigs
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1 lemon, zested
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

In a large bowl, gently mix the chicken, garlic, egg, bread crumbs, Worcestershire, paprika, onion powder, oregano, thyme, brown sugar, lemon zest, 2 healthy pinches of salt and a few grinds of pepper in a bowl. Form into mini meatballs, slightly smaller than a golf ball; it should make 28 to 30 meatballs. Warm the butter and oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Transfer the meatballs to the pan and do not disturb for 3 minutes to brown well. Turn, cooking another 3 minutes without disturbing. Keep cooking until browned and cooked on all sides, but still juicy and plump with a spring to the touch. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Serve atop Collard Green Pesto Linguine, if desired.


Tuesday, January 3, 2012

A December to Remember

It is hard to believe that is already 2012! December flew by way too fast, but we had a lot of fun events to keep us busy! Here are some pictures from the last month!
Our Christmas Tree! This picture was taken early in December before any presents were wrapped.

A few close ups of some of our special ornaments. I really liked using gold, silver and blue accents - it worked perfectly with our living room decor!

On December 5th, Johnathan and I celebrated my 28th birthday! He surprised me by taking me to a very nice dinner, then we came home and had birthday cake! So sweet to have for me to blow out candles! Oh, and the beautiful flowers on our table are from my sweet parents and in-laws!

 On December 10th, we traveled to Charleston, S.C. with my family to surprise Lauren for her 30th Birthday! We arrived early at Peninsula Grill before she and Mark came.

Lauren was very surprised! I didn't get a good picture of her arrival, but as soon as she saw us at the table, she ran over to see everyone!

 Saturday morning we all went to a cute little restaurant for brunch. It was nice to spend the day with my family, along with Mark's mother and sister-in-law, Angie. 

 We walked around Charleston all day shopping and site seeing. I had to snap some pictures of the gorgeous homes decorated for Christmas!

 Saturday evening we went to Cypress for dinner. We had a few more surprises for Lauren - my parents gave her this beautiful diamond necklace - it looks great on her! 

 One more surprise Mark had up his sleeve was that Vicki, Lauren's roommate from college, joined us for dinner! We had a great time. 

 After dinner we attempted to go to a local sweet shop for dessert, but it was too crowded, so we opted for the warm cookies from the DoubleTree hotel instead! I was not too sad about that!

Sunday morning we went to say goodbye to Lauren and Mark before heading home. They stayed at the beautiful Charleston Place Hotel!

On December 23rd, we got together with the Jollay Family to celebrate Christmas. Each year we do a white elephant swap, and it is so fun to see what everyone gets! I ended up with a pretty scarf and keychain, but Johnathan ended up with a donut hole maker! He's not too thrilled, but let's just say I hit the jackpot considering I can now make munchkins at home! 

Lauren made a beautiful chocolate torte for dessert that was amazing! Her three days of work to put this together was well worth it!

On Christmas Eve morning, we woke up to celebrate Christmas with my immediate family. It was so nice to be with them before heading back south! I got some new Tory Burch sunglasses, a Kate Spade wallet, and a new iPhone! Johnathan got a Garmin, new workout clothes, and an iPhone, too! Lauren and I each gave our parents a photo album from each of our weddings which I hope they will enjoy.

On Christmas Day we celebrated with Johnathan's side of the family. We had such a great time watching our nephews open their toys! T.G. loved his Captain America helmet and Star Wars light saber.

The boys both got a lot of toys, but Jack's big present is a Red Rider BB Gun! He is so excited because now he can go hunting with his Dad.

Speaking of hunting, the week after Christmas Johnathan and I went to Blackshear to visit with his family. One afternoon he took me hunting with him to sit in the deer stand. Even though we didn't see anything, it was relaxing to sit outside in peace and quiet!

Also while in Blackshear, we took our nephews to pick up pecans near the cabin. They were such good helpers - we filled up the entire bucket and were able to get about 7 pounds of fresh pecans! Now I just need to find some good recipes ... mmm, pecan pie, candied pecans ...

Well that wraps up the final month of 2011! I can't wait to see what 2012 brings!
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