I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend! Our weekend was filled with some football, some golf, a party and some cooking. Everything was good too! My Dawgs won! Golf was a huge success! And we did some good cooking.
Fish was on the menu this weekend. I can’t remember the last time we cooked fish at the house but it was a perfect night for it. We tried a new salmon recipe and we both really enjoyed. This is our Sweet Balsamic Salmon.
3 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons of honey
1 tablespoon of yellow mustard
1 clove of minced garlic
salt and pepper to taste
1 lb of salmon
I like cooking salmon in tinfoil pouches to keep all of the juices sealed in with the fish. You can bake the salmon in the oven or you cook it on the grill. Spray tinfoil with non stick cooking spray and place fish in the center of the tinfoil. Salt and pepper the salmon and top each piece of salmon with minced garlic. Whisk the balsamic, honey and mustard in small bowl to combine. Pour the sauce over each piece of salmon. Then fold tin foil and seal the edges. Cook on the grill or in the oven at 425 degrees for 10-12 minutes and enjoy!
Jamie is super excited about the Greek Festival going on in downtown Columbia this weekend. I ate lunch at the Greek Festival yesterday, and I told Jamie we’d go to the Greek Festival for lunch on Friday. I had forgotten I’m playing in a golf tournament so our lunch date isn’t going to happen. The good news is that the Greek Festival is going on through Sunday so we’ll make the trip downtown (25 – 30 minutes) and get our Greek on.
Earlier in the summer I had a hankering for Greek food so I decided to try to make some myself. I even made a veggie version for Jamie which I thought was delicious as well. We had cucumbers so we also made our own tzatziki.
So lets start with the meat:
2 lb London Broil
1 cup red wine vinegar
2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp of salt and pepper
2 tbsp of oregano
Combine red wine vinegar, EVOO, salt, pepper and oregano. Marinade the London Broil for at least 2 hours. After marinading, remove the meat from the marinade and cook on the grill for 20/25 minutes. Then let the meat rest for a few minutes and slice thin.
***Note you can also cook under the broiler on high for about 8 minutes on each side or until cooked to your desire.***
For the veggie version, use squash and zucchini (sliced long ways) and saute until soft. Salt and pepper to taste. Add to the mixture below. You’ll use the vegetable mixture for the meat version as well.
1 tablespoon of Olive Oil
1/2 of an onion, diced
1 hot banana pepper, sliced
1/2 tsp salt and pepper
1/4 tsp oregeno
1 tablespoon of Chopped Calamata Olives
1 tablespoon of Sundried Tomatoes out of the jar
2 Tablespoons of Feta Cheese
Heat the olive oil, once hot add the first four ingredients and cook until tender. Add the olives and sundried tomatoes. Then add in the feta cheese and cook for about a minute and then add in the meat. Warm up the Flatbread/Pita bread and then spoon the mixture onto the flat bread. Add tzatziki and a few slices of fresh tomatoe and you are good to go.
Sometimes you have to be creative with leftovers. I made Greek nachos with the mixture which is wonderful on kalamata olive tortilla chips.
For the veggie version, follow the same steps as above but without the meat.
1 medium cucumber, seeded and chopped
1 cup Greek yogurt
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp dill weed
In a small bowl, stir the ingredients to combine. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Knowing how to make baklava at home means you can eat baklava more often, and if you’re like me, that’s super exciting!
I can’t wait for the Greek Festival this week! Luke and I look forward to it every year. Sometimes we go more than once because the food is so wonderfully delicious! Last week, Luke informed me that he’d already made plans to go to the Greek Festival Thursday and Friday. I’m not joking when I say we get really excited about the Greek Festival. The food can’t be beat and I love the energy and atmosphere.
Since we’re so excited about the Greek Festival, Luke and I decided we’d cook Greek food at home and share the recipes with you.
I love, love, love baklava but until the other day, I’d never made before. I’m not going to lie…it was time consuming but it was totally worth it. The baklava turned out exactly the way I wanted. It’s absolutely delicious!
To make this fabulous Greek dessert, you start by thawing the phyllo dough. Once it’s thawed, stir about 3 1/2 cups of chopped nuts (walnuts or pecans or a combination of the two which is what I did), ground cinnamon, ground cloves and sugar together in a medium bowl. Then melt 1 1/2 sticks of butter and set aside. Spray a 9 x 13 baking dish with cooking spray and layer 2 phyllo sheets in the baking dish. Using a pastry brush, brush some of the melted butter on the phyllo dough. Then sprinkle the nut mixture on the phyllo dough. Repeat these steps until the nut mixture is gone and then continue to layer 2 sheets at a time and brush with butter before layering. Continue until all of the phyllo sheets are used and brush the top sheet of phyllo dough with the melted butter. Using a sharp knife, cut diagonally across the phyllo dough to make little diamond shape bites. Bake at 350 degrees for 32 – 36 minutes or until it’s golden brown.
While the baklava is baking in the oven, start making the syrup. In a medium sauce pan over high heat, stir 1 cup of water and 1 cup of sugar together until the sugar dissolves. Then add 1/2 cup of honey and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice and stir to combine. Then drop 1 cinnamon stick into the mixture. Bring to a boil and then reduce to medium low heat and simmer for 15 – 20 minutes. Then remove from heat and set aside to cool.
When you remove the baklava from the oven, pour the syrup over the baklava. Let it sit for at least an hour uncovered before serving.
1 package phyllo dough
1 1/2 sticks of butter/margarine
3 1/2 cups chopped walnuts or pecans (or combination of both)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
2 tsp sugar
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1 /2 cup honey
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 cinnamon stick
1. Thaw phyllo dough according to the package instructions.
2. Once thawed, preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray a 9×13 pan with cooking spray.
3. In a medium bowl, stir the chopped nuts, ground cinnamon, cloves and sugar together until combined.
4. Place 2 phyllo sheets in the 9 x 13 pan. Then use a pastry brush to brush the melted butter/margarine on the phyllo dough. Sprinkle the nut mixture over the butter phyllo sheet. Repeat until all of the nut mixture is used. Then continue to layer 2 sheets of phyllo at a time and brush with the melted butter/margarine. Once all of the phyllo sheets are used, brush the melted butter on the top layer of phyllo.
5. Using a sharp knife, cut diagonally across layers of phyllo until you have bite sized diamond shape baklava.
6. Bake at 350 degrees for 32 -36 minutes or until golden brown.
7. While the baklava is baking, start on the syrup.
8. Over high heat, stir 1 cup of water and 1 cup of sugar together in a medium sauce pan. Stir until the sugar dissolved. Then stir in the honey, lemon juice and cinnamon stick. Bring to a bowl. Then stir and reduce the heat to medium low. Simmer for 15 – 20 minutes. Remove from heat and cool.
9. When you remove the baklava from the oven, pour the syrup over the baklava and let it sit uncovered for at least an hour before serving.
The first full day of our vacation was a beach day. I woke up around 7:30 that morning, got dressed and took Izzy for a morning walk on the beach. It was such a gorgeous morning. I couldn’t get over all of the people walking on the beach that early in the day.
After our delicious breakfast at the bed and breakfast, we changed into our swimsuits and hit the beach. It was a perfect beach day!
After a great day on the beach, Luke and I got ready to dinner and spent some time with Izzy.
After dinner, we went on the trolley ghost tour.
Luke and me on the trolley.
The old jail which is supposedly the most haunted place in St. Augustine.
The next day we toured the Castillo de San Marcos.
After touring the fort, we walked around downtown St. Augustine and ate lunch at a British pub. I have to say it was extremely hot walking around that day but it was worth it because we didn’t want to miss anything. Plus, we knew we could cool off at the beach later that afternoon.
This old wood school house is right in the middle of downtown St. Augustine which was so unexpected. We were walking around looking at all of the neat little shops and then there stood the old wood school right in the middle of all of it.
This is the Old City Gates of St. Augustine.
This is the Bull & Crown pub where we ate lunch.
After spending the rest of our afternoon on the beach, Luke and I ate dinner at O.C. Whites.
O.C. Whites’ food is absolutely incredible and as you can see by our plates, they give you plenty of food!
After our heavenly dinner, we walked around downtown St. Augustine one last time.
This is part of Flagler College. It is a beautiful college and it’s located in such a beautiful place (downtown St. Augustine). I envy the people who were lucky enough to attend college here.
After walking around downtown for an hour or so, we went back to the bed and breakfast and took Izzy for a walk on the beach. The next day we drove back home and back to reality.
Our St. Augustine vacation was wonderful! If you haven’t ever been to St. Augustine, I highly recommend you visit it at some point. It truly is a beautiful place with so many fun and interesting things to do.
With it being football season a bunch of my weekend post are going to be for some tailgating or partying ideas. I was not doing much partying this weekend as my Dawgs were off and my fantasy football teams both lost. Hopefully this weekend will be much better.
Hot dogs are one of my favorite things to eat when I am in a hurry. Lets just say I think I could eat hot dogs 5 days a week. I recently had some pigs in a blanket but they just didn’t taste the way I remembered so I decided I needed to make them a new way. I used a can of crescent rolls and rolled the hot dogs up to make little hot dog pockets and these things were fantastic.
To make the Hot Dog Pockets, you start by cooking the hot dogs. While they cook get the can of crescent rolls and lay them out on a clean surface. Preheat the oven at 375 degrees. Once the hot dogs are cooked, cut the hot dogs in half. Then put each half on each of the crescent roll triangles. Then add whatever you like on your hot dog or pig in a blanket. You can add sauteed onions, ketchup, mustard, etc. I added a small slice of cheddar cheese and rolled the crescent up around the hot dog and cheese and pressed the dough to seal all the edges. Bake at 375 degrees for 12 -14 minutes.
Hot Dog Pockets:
Servings: 8 individual hot dog pockets
4 hot dogs
1 can of Pillsbury crescent rolls
sliced cheddar cheese
Preheat to 375 degrees. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray. Cook hot dogs according to package directions. Roll the crescent rolls out onto a clean surface. Tear the triangles apart. Cut cooked hot dogs in half. Place each half onto a crescent triangle along with a piece of sliced cheddar cheese. Roll the dough around the hot dog and cheese and seal the edges. Place the hot dog pockets on the greased baking sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 12 – 14 minutes.
Enjoy! Have a great weekend!
Delicious chocolate muffins with lots of chocolate chips for extra chocolate goodness!
A couple of weeks ago, I made some homemade pumpkin muffins for breakfast. Luke isn’t a pumpkin fan so needless to say, he didn’t like the pumpkin muffins. I thought they were good but they weren’t out of this world delicious…yet but I’m working on it. Since I haven’t quite perfected them, I’ll keep that recipe to myself until I get it right. Once I have the recipe exactly the way I want it, I’ll share it with you. In the meantime, I have a delicious chocolate muffin recipe for you!
Since the pumpkin muffins were for me, I decided I’d make some muffins for Luke. As I’ve mentioned before, Luke is a chocoholic so I knew whatever I came up with had to be chocolate. So I made a chocolate muffin with Hershey’s Special Dark Chocolate Chips and Hershey’s Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips.
This recipe couldn’t get much easier. You just whisk the ingredients together and then stir the chocolate chips into the batter. Then spoon the batter into greased muffin liners and topped each muffin with extra chocolate chips.
Since Luke prefers dark chocolate, I topped each muffin with a few extra dark chocolate chips. If you prefer semi-sweet chocolate, you can top each one with extra semi-sweet chocolate chips or even milk chocolate chips. Just make them according to what you prefer. Whatever chocolate chip you use, it’ll be delicious because it’s chocolate. You can’t go wrong with chocolate!
Servings: 16 – 18 muffins
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp butter/margarine, melted
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/4 cups milk
1/3 cup canola oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup dark chocolate chips
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place muffin liners into muffin tin and spray the liners with cooking spray.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, salt and cocoa powder until combined.
3. In a large bowl, whisk the sugar, brown sugar, melted butter and beaten eggs until combined.
4. Gradually add the flour mixture, milk and canola oil to the sugar mixture and continue whisking. Once combined, add the vanilla extract and stir to combine. Then stir 1/2 cup of dark chocolate chips and 1/2 cup of the semi-sweet chocolate chips into the batter.
5. Using an ice cream scoop, pour the batter into the greased muffin liners. Then sprinkle the remaining 1/2 cup of dark chocolate chips on top of each muffin. Bake at 350 degrees for 16 – 20 minutes.
Last week Luke and I went to St. Augustine, Florida for our vacation. We hadn’t been on vacation in over 2 years so we really needed this. Instead of taking a vacation last year, we had our house built and anyone who has ever built a house before knows how much time and energy goes into that so a vacation was not an option last year.
St. Augustine is beautiful and so full of history. Luke and I loved everything about it.
We stayed at a bed and breakfast on Anastasia Island St. Augustine Beach. It was only a 5 mile drive from the bed and breakfast to downtown St. Augustine.
We stayed at the House of Sea and Sun which is on the beach and its pet-friendly so we took Izzy with us. The bed and breakfast was ideal and we adored the owner, Patty. She made us feel right at home and like we were part of the family. I can’t imagine staying anywhere else because the House of Sea and Sun offered everything we were looking for.
This is one of Patty’s 3 rescue dogs. This is Antoinette. She is so cute and she knows it. She uses her sweet face and adorable personality to get the guests to share their breakfast with her every morning. This picture actually doesn’t do Antoinette justice. She’s so much cuter in person.
The House of Sea and Sun from the beach.
I prefer to stay at bed and breakfasts or inns rather than a hotel. Bed and breakfast or inns are more comfortable and so much cleaner than a hotel. Plus, a bed and breakfast or inn is more inviting and hospitable. The staff and owner(s) greet you by name and they want to get to know you, your likes and/or dislikes and they want to make you to be as comfortable as if you’re in your own home.
This was our room which was called Los Vientos.
This was the view from our room…gorgeous!
When Luke and I are on vacation, we relax a little and explore the location a lot. We usually need a few days to recover after our vacations because we come home exhausted but it’s so worth it. We never want to look back at our vacations and think about all of the things we could have done but didn’t because we just wanted to relax and lay around.
As soon as we checked into the bed and breakfast and got Izzy settled, we went to the St. Augustine Lighthouse and climbed the 219 stairs to the top. Oh my goodness, that view was absolutely incredible. I didn’t want to leave the top of the lighthouse because it was just so beautiful. If you ever visit St. Augustine, the lighthouse is a must-see!
This was the lighthouse keeper’s house.
The stairs as you walk inside the lighthouse.
Looking up at the stairs from the main level.
The view from the top of the lighthouse.
The view of the keeper’s house from the top of the lighthouse.
The lighthouse at night.
Once we left the lighthouse, we went back to the bed and breakfast and got Izzy and took her for a walk on the beach. She had never been to a beach before so she was fascinated. She loved chasing all of the birds and walking in the sand. She also liked the water as long as the waves only covered her paws. She wasn’t a fan of the waves crashing on her any higher than that. Overall, I’d say Izzy is a beach doggie.
After spending about 20 minutes on the beach, we walked back up to the bed and breakfast and got ready for dinner. The first night we ate at a restaurant called Harry’s Seafood Bar and Grille. The food and atmosphere is absolutely incredible. Luke wanted to go back and eat there again the next night but I felt like we needed to try another restaurant since we were only in St. Augustine for a few days.
The outside eating area which is where we ate.
After dinner, we walked around downtown St. Augustine and saw the Bridge of Lions drawbridge rise for a boat.
I think I’ve shared enough about our vacation for one day but I have more pictures to share later this week.
Football season has officially started! The weather is turning cooler and it’s time for some tailgating. This is one of my favorite times of the year. It can be agonizing and it can be oh so joyful. In the south, college football is HUGE and it’s one of those things that if you aren’t from here, you may not understand the football obsession and it’s not something you can explain.
As Jamie mentioned earlier in the week, I have been going to games since I was a young kid. I remember going to see my grandmother (G-Mama) after all of the games in Athens because she only lived about an hour from there. We’d visit with her and have dinner with her.
As Jamie also mentioned earlier this week, we’re working on some football party and tailgating food ideas for you. Pimento cheese is also a great choice because it’s pretty versatile. You can serve it with crackers, make little sandwiches with them or…
Pimento cheese pinwheels! I love pimento cheese, and to change things up, I used chipotle cream cheese in place of regular cream cheese and threw in some pepper jack cheese.
You can eat with just crackers or get you some flour tortillas and slather a nice layer of pimento on it and roll it up tight. Cut and then you have your pinwheels. I love tortillas so these are my favs.
Spicy Pimento Cheese Pinwheels:
1 cup of sharp cheddar, shredded
1 cup of pepper jack cheese, shredded
College football is starting up this week so Luke and I thought it’d be fun to share some fun tailgating food ideas. Like most men, Luke is ridiculously excited about college football. He’s a HUGE University of Georgia fan. He grew up going to every single UGA football game. When we first started dating and even the first few years into our marriage, I went with him to most of the games, but after experiencing several miserable weather conditions one year, I decided I’d rather watch the games from the comfort of my own home.
To kickoff our college football recipes, Luke asked me to make red velvet cookies to show support for UGA so red velvet cookies it is. I made small (2 bite) cookies and made them into sandwiches with the wonderful cream cheese icing sandwiched between 2 cookies.
Start by making the cream cheese icing because you’ll want to refrigerate it for at least an before icing the cookies. While the icing is chilling in the refrigerator, start making the cookies. It’s actually a really simple recipe because it’s made with red velvet cake mix and only a few additional ingredients.
Mix the cake mix, eggs, vegetable oil, cocoa powder and food coloring until combined. Use an ice cream scoop to measure the cookies because you’ll want the cookies to be about the same size. I used a very small scoop because I wanted very small cookies. Use your hands to roll the cookies into balls and then place on a greased cookie sheet. If you’re making these cookies for a party or for tailgating, roll the cookies into a ball and then lightly press them down to flatten them on the cookie sheet. The cookie sandwiches will travel better if they’re flat. I left my cookies in a ball shape because I wanted thick, cakey cookies because my cookies weren’t leaving our house.
Bake at 350 degree for 8 – 10 minutes. Place the cookies on a rack to cool.
Once the cookies are cooled, you can ice the cookies. You can leave like this or sandwich them with another cookie. Either way, they’re adorable and delicious! This recipe makes about 50 cookies and about 25 cookie sandwiches.
Red Velvet Cookie Sandwiches
1 box red velvet cake mix
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/3 cup vegetable oil
5 – 10 drops red food coloring
Cream Cheese Icing:
8 oz. cream cheese
2 sticks (1 cup) butter/margarine
3 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 tbsp milk
1. For the cream cheese frosting, start by beating the cream cheese and butter together until creamy. Slowly add the confectioners sugar, vanilla extract and milk and continue beating until combined. Then refrigerate for an hour or 2.
2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and spray 2 large cookie sheets with cooking spray.
3. Mix the cake mix, cocoa powder, eggs, vegetable oil and food coloring together until combined.
4. Use a small scoop to measure the cookies so they’ll be about the same size. Use your hands to roll the cookies into a ball and place on the greased cookie sheets. Place the cookies about 1 1/2 to 2 inches apart.
5. Bake for 8 – 10 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool. Once cooled, spread the cream cheese frosting on half of the cookies and then top with the other half of the cookies.
This recipe is adapted from the Red Velvet Cookies with Cream Cheese Filling recipe in the Crazy about Cookies cookbook.
I hope you all had a great weekend! Ours was incredibly busy but it was a good one. No sleeping in or resting for us but that’s okay because this coming weekend is a 3 day weekend! YAY!!!
Luke and I actually went out to breakfast over the weekend which never happens because Luke is not a morning person. When I say he’s not a morning person, I mean don’t talk to him for at least 30 to an hour after he wakes up. He actually gets mad if you try to talk to him before he’s ready to talk. It’s so funny because he’s such an easygoing, happy person most of the time. It’s definitely something I had to get used to because I am a morning person.
Anyway, back to our breakfast out. We went to a new restaurant in downtown Columbia. It’s called the Black Bean Co. The food is organic, all-natural and delicious. I ordered the Traditional Challah French Toast and it’s served with fresh cut strawberries and fresh maple syrup. It was incredibly delicious and very filling. Luke ate half of it because I couldn’t eat it all. Luke ordered the Southwest Breakfast Burrito. He enjoyed his burrito but he said the French Toast was his favorite.
Okay, enough about that. Lately I’ve been craving lasagna so I decided to make a veggie lasagna, but as I was gathering all of the ingredients, I realized I didn’t want a traditional layered lasagna. So I made veggie lasagna roll-ups.
Cook the lasagna noodles according to the package instructions. Add a couple of tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil to a large skillet over medium heat. Add the veggies to the skillet and saute until tender. Set the cooked noodles and veggie aside to cool before handling.
In a medium bowl, stir 2 cups of ricotta cheese, chopped basil leaves, salt and pepper. Then spoon about 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons of the ricotta mixture onto each of the cooked and cooled noodles and spread the mixture to cover the noodle. If the lasagna noodles stick together, run cold water over them for a couple of minutes and then gentle pull the noodles apart.
Pour about 1/4 of cup of the sauteed vegetables over the ricotta mixture on the noodles.
Place thinly sliced tomatoes (cut in half) on top of the vegetables.
Then roll up the lasagna noodles and place in a greased 9 x 13 baking dish that’s coated with cooking spray and some marinara sauce.
Pour the remaining marinara sauce over the noodles.
Veggie Lasagna Roll-Ups:
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
1 small green bell pepper, diced
3 small squash, thinly sliced
2 small zucchini, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 8 oz. package sliced white mushrooms
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
5 medium tomatoes, thinly sliced
1 lb. lasagna noodles
2 24 oz. jars marinara sauce
1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
2 cups ricotta cheese
2 tbsp fresh basil leaves, chopped
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 x 13 baking dish with cooking spray. Then pour about 1/3 of a cup of marinara sauce into the baking dish and use a spoon to spread over the bottom of the dish.
2. Pour the EVOO into a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, bell pepper, squash, zucchini, garlic and mushrooms to the skillet and saute until tender.
3. Cook the lasagna noodles according to the package instructions. Once cooked, run the noodles under cold water and set aside until ready to use.
4. In a medium bowl, stir the ricotta, basil, salt and pepper together.
5. Lay the cooled lasagna noodles on a clean surface and spoon about a tablespoon of the ricotta mixture oven each lasagna noodle. Next, spoon about 1/4 of a cup of the sauteed vegetable mixture oven the ricotta cheese and place half of a tomato slice on the vegetable mixture. Roll the lasagna noodles and place in the 9 x 13 pan. It will take about 16 filled lasagna noodle to cover the bottom of the dish.
6. Pour the remaining marinara sauce over the lasagna roll-ups. Then top with the mozzarella and parmesan cheeses. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 – 40 minutes or until it’s bubbly and the cheese is melted.