Saturday, January 4, 2014

My Big Cooking Day Menu for January!

I kept waiting for Amazon to deliver my new Rachael Ray cookbook: "A Week in a Day", but it didn't get delivered in time we went to the grocery store Friday night so here is what I decided on for my January Big Cooking Day. Keep in mind some of these recipes I doubled (see asterisk), and that is usually because I give half of it to my parents for them to have dinners to go as well!  

Here is what I recommend before you start cooking ANY of these recipes for a big cooking day. 

Go through all your recipes and count how many cups of onions and teaspoons of garlic you will need. I needed around 9 cups, so I chopped about 10-11 onions with my Ski goggles on to prevent crying, and then measured them in sandwich-size zip lock bags for one cup each, then placed ALL those ziplock bags in a gallon-size bag that I sprinkled a generous amount of baking soda in, so they don't stink up my entire fridge and freezer.  

Also go ahead and peel two whole garlic cloves, and then pulse it through a food processor to make it diced. I keep mine in a ramekin that I put plastic wrap around, so I can get a teaspoon or so as the recipe calls for it. 

Breakfast Freezer Friendly Meals:
#1: Homemade granola ("100 days of real food" recipe)
#2: Farmers Hashbrown Casserole ("Don't panic, dinner is in the freezer" cookbook)
#3: Pecan Maple Breakfast Cookies (100 days of real food) *

Lunch: (since I work from home and my hubby likes his turkey sandwich, I like soup either by itself or with a veggie sandwich)
#1: Tomato Bisque - (never tried this recipe)
#2:  Ina Garten's White Bean Rosemary Soup (Food Network recipe)

Dinner (Freezer Friendly):
#1:  Orange Beef lettuce wraps (Don't panic dinner is in the freezer)
#2: Chicken Breast in Phyllo (same as above)
#3: Mini Cheddar Loaves (Take 20 Cookbook) *
#4: Ginger Glazed Mahi Mahi (Don't panic dinner is in the freezer)

Frozen Appetizers (for last minute houseguests/need to take something somewhere)
#1:  Cheese Palmiers (cheese puff pastries spirals)
#2:  Santa Fe Hot Dip (Don't panic dinner is in the freezer)*

I LOVE the Don't Panic Cookbook because it already tells you the measurements Doubled, Tripled, or Quadrupled! 

Freezing Tips:
The Mini Cheddar Loaves I wrap in foil first then place them in the ziplock freezer bag!   I was able to get ten loaves in 1 gallon size bags and the recipe doubled made 36 loaves. 

The ones highlighted in yellow I started cooking today. I made the mini cheddar loaves after chopping my onions and garlic, and while they cooled I made the Santa Fe Hot Dip. After that, we had delicious hot mini cheddar loaves with a beautiful salad with a homemade vinaigrette (thanks to my diced garlic!). I also baked the Pecan Maple Breakfast Cookies. The rest will be cooked tomorrow! 

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Slow Cooker Brisket

It's New Year's Eve and we have a tradition in our house that we stay home and avoid the crowds at the restaurant and we watch football and I organize random things through out our house. As I was happily organizing, we were cooking this delicious slow cooker brisket. I have never cooked a brisket before and was worried about how it would turn out. Needless to say, it was delicious and I personally wish every meal I cooked every day was cooked in my slow cooker because 
#1: You really can't burn it. 
 #2: You set it and forget it 
 #3: It is always delicious no matter what you cook (minus steel cut oatmeals but that is for another post). 

 Sweet Heat Chipotle Brisket 
Palmful of Sweet Heat Chipotle Rub 
(See Link: )
1 can of diced tomatoes 
1 onion thickly sliced 2 cups of vegetable broth 
1.5 lb of beef brisket (preferably grass-fed/organic) 

 Take a palmful of the rub and generously coat the brisket on all sides. Sear in a hot grill cast iron skillet for 2-3 minutes on each side. Place the onions and tomatoes and place at the bottom of the slow cooker. Place seared brisket over it and pour the 2 cups of vegetable broth. Set on low 6-8 hours or high 4-5 hours. Shred with two forks and let simmer in the juice when it is done for 15-30 minutes. 

 Make Beef Tacos by adding tortillas, lettuce, cheese, beef brisket and sour cream and serve with black beans and rice! :) 

 Hope your New Year's meal was just as delicious!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011


We are training for a half marathon in April 2012! Details on the training details to come..... until then

"Happy New Year!"

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Staycation Week 2

Nothing to report. I was extremely sick for the entire week and slept the entire time. A very disappointing way to spend five vacation days from work. :(

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Staycation Week 1

After five years of working in the real world, I decided to take some of my vacation time and take a week and half of "staycation." This means no leaving the city of Huntsville, except for a one night girls' night out trip. This has been a great way to rejuvenate and enjoy the things that you should be focusing on in your life. Family, Friends, Organizing, and Great Food! :)

So far, Day 1 was a great day to get some yummy Indian food with Adam (lunch dates can be so much fun!) and start to buy the items that would be necessary to organize the garage. (My major at home project during this staycation!)

Day 2 was lunch at this fantastic new spot in downtown Huntsville called "Commerce Street." Adam had the most amazing fried chicken and sweet potato fries (i tasted it!) and I had blackened red snapper and grits. It takes a lot to "WOW" me at a lunch/dinner resturant. This place is beyond is SUPER FANTASTIC! This place comes in a close second to Cotton Row on my list of Huntsville restaurants. Funny how the owners of Cotton Row also own "Commerce Street!" Adam and I also had the privilege to eat lunch with some dear family friends and I was so grateful that they are getting the chance to get to know Adam better.

Dinner time was more friends time! Dinner by chef de Jonathan. The menu had marinated tilapia filets grilled with homemade pico, spicy yogurt dip, chickpeas and corn, and wild spanish rice. It was so much fun to get to sit on the patio and enjoy the beautiful sunset and gourmet mexican dinner.

Day 3 was "hostess time!" My mom and a friend came over and I got to play hostess! I had made a 7-up pound cake yesterday that I also took to the dinner party at Mel's house for the dessert. It was made in a rose bundt pan and looked like it was from a bakery. I served chicken salad, broccoli salad, pita chips, and frozen cranberry salad. My favorite "ladies lunch" item (besides chicken salad) is frozen cranberry salad! I have never made it before but didn't realize how easy it was to make and how delicious it was eat!

Day 4: M&M Time! (Mommy and Me or Michelle and Marie!) Looking forward to our adventures shopping in Huntsville!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Chic Luggage

In the words of my favorite stylist Rachel Zoe:
“For those of us who are always on the go, there is no accessory more crucial than a travel bag. Both fashionable and functional, they get our most cherished belongings from A to B while updating our look at the same time."

It has been quite a whirlwind fall, what with Auburn football games, a wonderful wedding in Grand Rapids, and a fun family-friend trip to Cleveland, Ohio to see Johnny Cash's tour bus! The work travel has also been a continuous fun adventure through my cities throughout the southeast each week for work.

I love all of the wonderful people and friends I have met during my travels around the country and state of Alabama; however, I was getting extremely frustrated with how cumbersome packing and unpacking during the trip and repacking to go home was getting. I purchased luggage 4 years ago when I first started my career and had not purchased any new luggage since it was time for a serious upgrade from my JC Penney luggage, circa 2006. It finally came down to when I went to Panama City to see some clients and I walked into my aunt's house she asked "where's your luggage?" I held up the two wal-mart plastic bags and said I have given up on luggage, and until I find better luggage I am going to continue to represent the state of Alabama in true southern style like a redneck!

I went on an online search for some functional yet not super-expensive "overnight luggage" and to my surprise QVC actually won my bid. Now if you are like me, you're definitely not a QVC watcher. I actually get very bored with QVC on television because I would rather shop in person or shop online. I actually found them through google and that is how I found this new luggage piece!

This lady named Lori Grenier makes these fabulous overnight bags that have an attached toiletry bag on the inside lining. You can hang the hook on the handle, or it snaps off and you can take it in the bathroom and hang it on the towel rack. The make-up case has a snap allowing you to snap your make-up to the toiletry bag in the bathroom, so you have everything you need in one place!!!

I have only been on one business trip with my new luggage (a conference at the Westin in Buckhead) and I have never spent such little time "re-packing" my suitcase after having been there for 2 nights! The nice thing about this is when I get home I just have to unload the clothes for the dry cleaners and I can leave the rest until the next trip, and it can sit in the corner of the bedroom with the cute leopard print for the one or two days I will be home until I need to pack it again.

This is a must-have for any person who is a weekend traveler or a 1-2 night business traveler like myself! I paid around $75.00 with shipping and handling and is the best money I have ever spent!

I also purchased the weekender tote bag to hold my pretty high heels. It also comes with jewelry bags and a garment bag, which I figure I can use as a matching tote bag to - as always - look adorable and chic, but organized!!!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Finishing is Winning!

So most people know that since May my adventurous Aunt Cheryl and myself have been training for a triathlon. The competitive person inside of me this entire time has wanted to not just "finish", but wanted to really impress myself with my time/results amazing athletic ability.

Well let's face it. I am a fashionista, not an athlete by design. I don't like sweating, getting dirty, and especially getting my tennis shoes dirty (stupid cross country trail!). I even like putting on a bicycle helmet instead of wearing my cute pink baseball cap even less.

The running portion of this journey has been a mental challenge the whole time. The first time I went running with Adam's cousin Tim and I told him what my end goal was but that I was only able to run for 45 seconds and then walk 2 minutes. He chuckled said...."yeah yeah...I'll fix that in a few weeks." He never yelled or raised his voice yet every time I have been running with Timmy it is always the "hardest" run I have ever been on. I can proudly say that I can run close to two miles with out stopping. Considering less than 2 1/2 months ago I couldn't run for more than 45 seconds this is a big accomplishment

In regards to the actual course for this event, I have only run the course for the 5K portion of the triathlon 3 times. To say the first time I ran it that it was hard is an understatement. The next week I went with my aunt again and I really felt good about it. This past Tuesday was a disaster. It was humid, I had ran around all day before we worked out and just really struggled through out the entire course. I am hoping this struggle has helped mentally prepare me for the 5K portion tomorrow in the full triathlon.

The biking portion of this event has been the funniest adventure I have ever been on with myself. Needless to say, I was a pool girl growing up. I lived at the pool all day and hardly ever rode a bicycle my entire childhood. I have come along way since the first practice when I met my aunt and her triathlon group at the greenway and we got on the bike and I fell over 3 times in the course of one mile. I can now proudly say I can bike six miles usually with out having to stop. This portion of the race has me the most concerned tomorrow, so let's hope the wind is on my side!

Can I just say I love swimming! :) Practicing the swimming of this triathlon has been so much fun. I think it goes back to your childhood of spending your summers in a pool at swim practice, swim meets, or hanging out with friends that just always makes me happy. I am hoping my practicing with just using my arms in freestyle these past months will help me when my legs have given out after the run and bike.

No matter your work schedule, travel schedule, any goal you set you can make the time to accomplish it. I have managed to find time to work out for this triathlon in Long Island, NY, walking with my big "sister" Wendy who is training for the 60 mile Susan G Komen walk when I am traveling in the South Alabama area, and just working out in a lot of hotel gyms.

Even though every practice Cheryl and I have done together she has told me we just need to "finish", I honestly didn't believe that was good enough until this past Tuesday's workout. If last year you would of asked me to run a 5K , bike a mile (not including the other five miles), and then swim a 400 I would of laughed at you and told you that you were crazy.

I am very proud of the major steps our group (Cheryl, Harmony, and myself) have made together. We have come a long way since that first practice on the greenway. We have learned that it's ok to have mud on your calf after you run the cross country course even though it still grosses me out. It's ok to ride your bicycle and pass a water bottle between each other and not completely crash on to the side of the road....and more importantly Cheryl can beat me swimming as long as her flippers are on! :)

I am looking forward to a fun morning tomorrow with two inspirational Mom's who continue to show me that patience with yourself, love, laughter (and maybe a few curse words) will allow you to conquer anything.

I am honestly ready to hear the words "On your mark. Get set. Go!" but more importantly I am ready to hear the voice in my head when I cross the finish line saying "I finished a goal at times I thought was impossible and this is something no one can take away from me and I am proud of my accomplishment. You are a winner Michelle!"