Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Tasty Tuesdays: Red, White, and Blueberry Crunch Cake

I hope you all had a wonderful Memorial Day weekend.  Ours was jam packed!  We went to Greek fest, looked at strollers, went to the pool and soaked in some sun, saw Bridesmaids, and wrapped up the weekend with a BBQ.  

We had such a great evening!  My parents and my sister came over as did a few of our friends, including Trish from Pink Preppy Lilly Lover.  We had not seen her and her hubby Matt in a while, and it was wonderful to catch up on all that had been going on.  We sat in the yard and enjoyed burgers and brats, potato salad, watermelon, spinach and strawberry salad, and a delicious dessert!!!  

In our family, we have always made a red, white, and blue dessert on the 4th of July.  Since we'll be in South Dakota over the 4th, I thought it would be fun to make RWB dessert a little early.  I had a ton of blueberries that I had picked up at the Hollygrove Farm and Market, and I figured they would be perfect for the occasion.  

So, I whipped up this absolutely easy and tasty dessert.  Can you think of anything better than yellow cake mix and blueberries?  We gave our guests the choice of vanilla bean or creole cream cheese ice creams and added a strawberry sauce.  It was the perfect ending to a perfect weekend.


(18.25 ounce) box yellow cake mix
4 cups fresh blueberries, or thawed frozen blueberries
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup butter or margarine, melted
1/2 cup slivered almonds



Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). 

Mix berries, sugar, and cinnamon in the bottom of a 9 x 13 inch pan. Mix melted butter, cake mix, and half of the almonds.  Spread mixture over the blueberries.  Sprinkle the remaining almonds over the cake topping.

Bake for 30 minutes, or until light brown. Serve warm or cold. Top with ice cream.

Did you make anything interesting this holiday weekend?

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Pink and Green Thursday: Winging It

Yesterday marked the fifteenth week of my pregnancy, and while there's still a lot of time left before our little one arrives, Mark and I have been making some big decisions.  The biggest - we have decided to be surprised and not find out our baby's gender.  This goes against all of my crazy type A planner tendencies, but I have to say, I am really excited.  I thought it would make me crazy because there is not much in my life that I leave to chance, I mean when I plan a trip, I schedule "spontaneous time" on our itinerary.  But there is something about that moment where we will hear the doctor say "it's a..."  that I think will be just so joyous!  So for the first time in my life, I think I'm going to enjoy winging it.

If you've had a baby, did you choose to find out?  If not, would you want to?

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Tasty Tuesdays: Baby Red Potato Salad Perfect for Memorial Day

Growing up in the South, I always thought that it was so funny that people thought of the summer as the perfect time to get grilling.  The thought of standing over a grill in our sweltering summer heat seems crazy!  But there is something about Memorial Day approaching that makes me gravitate to grill friendly recipes and easy summer sides.  

This weekend, we made this delicious potato salad courtesy of my trusty friend Gina from Skinny Taste.  We served this along with some grilled smoked sausage and freshly sliced watermelon.  Mmmmm!!  The potato salad was both fresh and flavorful.  It is a dish that I will definitely put in my summer of fun recipe archive.  I always like to have a delicious and healthy side dish to bring to in the event that a potluck dinner invite should find it's way into our plans.  It's nice to know that there's at least one dish that you can have that's not high in fat and calories.  One thing I've learned from trying Gina's recipes is that you don't have to sacrifice flavor, and you can be satisfied knowing you're serving your friends something they'll love that is a healthier option than they might suspect.  This potato salad is sure to please all of your friends.  I hope it finds its way into your Memorial Day menu!

Baby Red Potato Salad
Gina's Weight Watcher Recipes
Servings: 6 • Size: 3/4 cups  Old Points: 2 pts • Points+: 3 pts 
Calories: 107.2 • Fat: 3.2 g • Carbs: 17.8 g • Fiber: 2.1 g • Protein: 2.2 g 
4 cups baby red potatoes, cut in small pieces
1/2 cup green bell pepper, finely diced
1/4 cup red onion, finely diced (I omitted and added extra scallions)
3 scallions, diced
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tbsp reduced fat mayonnaise
salt and fresh pepper

Boil potatoes in salted water until soft, approx 10 minutes. Drain and let cool.

While the potatoes are boiling, combine red onion, green pepper, mustard, olive oil, vinegar and mayonnaise and season with salt and pepper. Mix well and let the flavors marinade while the potatoes cook. Once the potatoes are done and cool, mix into the bowl and add scallions and additional salt and pepper to taste. Serve room temperature or refrigerate until ready to serve.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Afternoon Showers

Well, hello bloggers.  I hope this post finds you all wrapping up a lovely weekend.  Mine was filled with celebrations of all of life's greatest events.  

Yesterday, I went to a wedding shower for a good friend who is marrying Mark's best friend in July.  I couldn't be happier for the two of them so it was wonderful to get to spend some time with the glowing bride to be.  The bride chose lavender and white as her wedding colors, and I happen to think that is such a lovely and sweet combination.  This image of lavendar champagne makes me excited to toast to the bride and groom in a few months.

That shower was followed by a second shower for some friends and neighbors who are expecting their first baby in just a few weeks.  The hosts had a two hour cocktail party for the girlfriends of the mom-to-be, and then the gentleman joined us.  I loved that idea!!  I was cute to see how excited both of them are about their mpending arrival.  Since they are waiting to find out the baby's gender, I selected the Kissy Kissy Duck converter gown and paired it with this adorable flat plush duck.

We ended our evening at the 50th anniversary celebration for some life long family friends.  I hope to be so lucky to enjoy fifty wonderful years with Mark.  The speeches that the happy couple gave were so genuinely filled with love and joy and happiness that I left that evening with such a warm feeling in my heart.

Mark and I were saying that I had come full circle Saturday.  I spent the day celebrating a wedding, the birth of a child, and a 50th anniversary.  Isn't life amazing!  I sit here and look at my belly as it grows a little bigger each week, and I hope that our baby finds his or her life filled with a lifetime of love.  I hope to be celebrating our 50th anniversary and looking out into a crowd of those most important to us and see the precious face of the baby we will meet in November.  

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Tonight's My First Junior League New Orleans Event!

Before moving back home to New Orleans, I spent four amazing year in Beaufort, SC.  They would not have been nearly that amazing had it not been for the Junior Service League of Beaufort.  JSLB provided an outlet for me that allowed me to make new friends, actively participate in the Beaufort community, and improve and enhance my leadership skills.  I truly cannot imagine my life in Beaufort without the JSLB. 

So it is with the same level of excitement, commitment, and motivation that I am embarking on my provisional year with the Junior League New Orleans.  A few months ago I attended a potential new member meeting where many of the current leaders of the organization described their experiences in the the league.  I was so moved by their genuine love of and dedication to our community that I wanted to stand and clap at the end of each woman's presentation.  There's something about women's groups that makes me feel empowered to act.  I think when a group of women comes together with a common purpose, in Delta Gamma terms "to "Do Good," there is no limit to what we can accomplish. 

Tonight is the first official event for my provisional class.  We will be meeting at the Samuel J. Green Charter School, a school that JLNO has supported since 1995.  I feel a bit like I am heading off to my first day at a new school.  Who will be there?  What will it be like?  Will I make friends right away?  I think I might just have butterflies!  I really am so exited and so ready to get involved!

PS - All this talk about Junior LEague reminds me of The Help!  Have yall seen the previews yet?  I think it's going to be FANTASTIC!!!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Tasty Tuesdays: Chicken and Avocado Soup

If you had told me that in the middle of May I would be craving soup, I would have told you that you were crazy!  But, it has been absolutely beautiful here in New Orleans.  Last night was so chilly that we had to wear sweatshirts when we walked in the park.  It was the perfect night for a tasty but light bowl of some yummy goodness.

 I  The baby has been craving Mexican for days!!  So Sunday when I began planning our menu for the week, I had to have a Mexican option.  I went to my favorite source for light but delicious recipes, Skinny Taste, and found a recipe that was just right - Chicken and Avocado Soup.  

This soup was just fabulous!  It was light and brothy, but with the addition of some cooked brown rice, it was hearty enough for a main meal.  For a little extra flavor, I added more than just a pinch of chipotle chili powder. It might be my very favorite spice in our cupboard.  It is perfectly spicy but also very smoky!!!  Use it with caution though because it packs a punch.
Photo Courtesy of Skinny Taste

5 cups chicken broth
2 cups shredded chicken breast (Think rotisserie chicken - Easy button)
1 tomato, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-1/2 cups scallions, chopped fine
2 ripe hass avocados, diced
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped fine
4 lime wedges
2 tsp olive oil
salt + fresh pepper to taste
pinch cumin
pinch (or several!) chipotle chile powder (optional)
Cooked Rice (optional)

In a large pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add 1 cup of scallions and garlic. Sautéabout 2 minutes then add tomatoes and sauté another minute, until soft. Add chicken stock, cumin and chile powder and bring to a boil. Simmer, covered on low for about 15-20 minutes.

In four bowls, fill each with 1/2 cup chicken, 1/2 avocado, remainder of the scallions, and cilantro. Ladle 1 cup chicken broth over the chicken and serve with a lime wedge.

I hope you've been enjoying the pretty weather!  I think we might have gotten the last of ours until October.  We appreciated every minute of it!

Monday, May 16, 2011

My First Maternity-Wear Purchase and My 14 Week Visit

Well, where has Monday gone?  I had a very busy day at work today, but I had to show you my very first maternity-wear purchase!!  For mother's day, my parents got me a gift card to The Baby Bump on Magazine Street for a pair of maternity jeans.  So off we went on Saturday to score a pair.  Well, about six pairs later, I think we concluded that the baby doesn't live in my tummy, but instead (s)he lives in my bum. It was a challenge to figure out what the best fit was when I don't know how my body will change over the next few months.  

So we put the jeans on the back burner (I think I'm going to re-visit the issue later on in the summer), and I found a pair of Olian white linen wide leg pants that are as comfortable as they are stylish!  I imagine wearing them with tank tops and light weight sweaters and espadrilles wedges.  Oh la la!!!  Aren't they fabulous?

I'll be fourteen weeks this Wednesday, and I have my second doctor's appointment.  I was just so nervous at my last visit.  I couldn't wait for the doctor to tell us that everything looked perfect.  The moment the image of the baby came up on the screen, my heart grew.  It was just so amazing to finally see the baby and to hear the heartbeat.  I thought I'd be prepared for that moment, but it took my breath away.  To realize that there was a baby sharing in my every breath was  so incredibly special.  While I still have six weeks before we get to see the baby again, I am so looking forward to hearing the heartbeat and knowing that all is right in there.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Mother's Day, A Recipe, and a Trend (Three Days in One)

I'm just getting caught up on the blog, and rather than skip the past few days of posts, I thought I'd give you three short posts for the price of one!

I'll start with Trendy Wednesday.  Who knew that there was a "luxury stroller" market out there?  Until I found out about our bundle of joy, I had not given much thought about strollers except that I imagined pushing a Silver Cross pram through Audubon Park.  
Well, given the price tag and the fact that I don't think this gorgeous baby limousine could handle the crazy streets of New Orleans, I have had to find another alternative.  I have done a ton of reading, and some looking around, and I discovered four choices of strollers that I thought complemented our needs and lifestyle.  We have looked at the BOB, the City Mini Elite, the Uppababy, and the Bugaboo.  We have weighed the pros and cons of all of these amazing choices, and I think we are going to go with the very versatile Bugaboo Cameleon.  I love the bassinet feature and the fact that the stroller can be arranged in a slue of configurations.  Plus, it has a sleek and stylish look that I can't help but admit sold me on it!

For Tasty Tuesday, I have to share one of the recipes from our mother's day brunch.  We served a Four Berry Salad that was simple and perfectly refreshing on a warm and sunny day.  It could easily be served as a side or as a dessert over ice cream or with a bit of homemade whipped cream.
Serves 4
 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  2 teaspoons light-brown sugar
 1 1/2 cups strawberries, hulled and halved, or quartered if large
 1 cup blueberries
 3/4 cup raspberries
 2 tablespoons small mint leaves
1/4 cup toasted walnuts or pecans, coarsely chopped (optional)

  In a medium bowl, whisk together vinegar and sugar. Add strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, and mint. Toss to combine. Transfer to serving bowls and sprinkle nuts over top if desired.

Finally, I was intending to post each Monday about my thoughts on being a mom-to-be, but I think I found writing about it more overwhelming than I thought it would be.  Sunday, I was so excited about being home for Mother's Day for the first time in four years and celebrating my mom that I had not considered that my family and friends would take time out on this special day to celebrate me.  Everyone made the day so special, but what made it perfect was knowing that before we know it, we will be a family of three.  I won't lie and say I don't find thoughts of motherhood completely overwhelming, because I do.  I worry about everything from what kind of baby monitor we should get to where we should send our child to school to whether this baby will know that we love him or her unconditionally.  But I am also so overjoyed at the thought of teaching this baby what it means to love and learning from the baby even more about love than I thought I knew.  As of today I am one third of the way through my pregnancy and I am looking forward to every moment along the journey of meeting our little one.  I hope all of the moms and moms-to-be out there had a wonderful day.

Thanks to my mom and to all of the moms in my life who have taught me that it is possible to be an amazing career woman, philanthropist, wife, daughter, friend, and mother all at once.  I don't know how I'm going to juggle it all, but you give me the confidence to know that it can be done.

It's Wednesday night and you're more than halfway through the week!!!!

Friday, May 6, 2011

TGIF! and a Mother's Day Menu...

Who's excited that it's Friday!  I am!!  Especially since I only worked a half day yesterday so that we could spend the afternoon at Jazzfest.  It was TOUGH getting going this morning.  But well worth it.  I love the Thursday of Jazzfest because it feels more like a locals day.  There were tons of school children roaming the fairgrounds in search of a New Orleans adventure.  I can't imagine a better education than one that combines art, culture, music, and food.

I hope yall have a ton of fun in store for this weekend.  We're headed back to the fest for one more day on Saturday.  The weather has been perfect this year, so we have our fingers crossed for another beautiful New Orleans day.

Sunday, we are having my parents, my sister, and my grandmother over for Mother's Day.  I am planning a big brunch.  Here's the menu:

What do you have planned for the weekend?

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Tasty Tuesdays: John Besh's Crawfish Cornbread Dressing

We spent this past Saturday at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival (Jazzfest to most of us) with our dear friends from South Carolina. I absolutely love seeing Jazzfest from the perspective of someone who has never seen it before.

Jazzfest's Crawfish Monica

The sights, the sounds, and of course, the smells of the fest are almost too good to be true. ALMOST! Jazzfest is one of those great New Orleans events that brings together the very best things about our dear city. You spend the day lounging in a Coleman chair with the sun beating down on you listening to the rhythm of jazz and sipping on strawberry lemonade. And just when you think it couldn’t get any better, a second line parade led by men and women dressed in brightly colored suits wearing smiles as big as Louis Armstrong’s dance by you. At that moment, you think all is right in the world. And then someone brings you a bite of crawfish bread, or crawish Monica, or a crawfish beignet, or maybe a crawfish sack.

Jazzfest Second Line

And that’s when you’ve realized you’ve died and gone to heaven, because certainly heaven must be filled with Mardi Gras Indians adorned in the most elaborate and beautiful feathered costumes and it must sounds like Irma Thomas or Trombone Shorty and it definitely tastes like crawfish etouffe.
Trombone Shorty at 2010 Jazzfest
Photo Credit: Keith I. Marszalek / NOLA.com

Sunday night, my mom and dad hosted a crawfish boil for our out of town guests.  We had such a nice time sitting around the table peeling crawfish and talking.  The only problem with a crawfish boil is what to do with all those leftover tails.  The good news, is that there are plenty of solutions!  This recipe appeared in our local newspaper and has been on my list of "must-makes" for a while.  Maybe now that we have several cups of crawfish tails (I would rather use fresh than frozen), it's finally time to get cookin!

John Besh's Crawfish Cornbread Dressing
Makes 10 servings

4 tablespoons rendered bacon fat
1⁄4 pound andouille sausage, diced
1⁄4 pound hot pork sausage meat, removed from casing
1 medium onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, diced
1⁄2 green bell pepper, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 cups peeled crawfish tails, chopped
2 green onions, chopped
1 small jalapeno pepper, chopped
Leaves from 1 sprig fresh thyme
2 tablespoons Creole seasoning
6 cups crumbled cornbread
2 cups chicken stock
1⁄2 cup heavy cream
2 eggs, lightly beaten
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Put the bacon fat, andouille and pork sausage into a large skillet and cook over medium-high heat, breaking up the pork with the back of a wooden spoon. When the pork sausage meat has browned, add the onions, celery, bell pepper and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the crawfish and cook for 2 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a large mixing bowl.

Add the remaining ingredients to the bowl with the sausage and crawfish and stir together until well combined. Spoon the dressing into a large greased heat-proof dish. At this point, the dressing may be covered and refrigerated (for up to 1 day) until you are ready to bake it.
Bake the dressing in a preheated 350-degree oven until it is piping hot and golden brown, 15 to 30 minutes.

Do you have a favorite festival food?

Monday, May 2, 2011

First Comes Love, Then Comes Marriag, Then...!!!

Comes a Baby in a Baby Carriage!

Mark and I are very excited to annouce that we will be welcoming a little bundle of joy into our family in mid-November. 

We are over the moon and looking forward to all of the happiness this new little person will bring to our life. 

Here's to the pitter patter of little feet!


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