Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Halloween 2012 Recap

I have never been a huge fan of Halloween.

Okay, I take that back.. when I was a kid, I enjoyed Halloween. But after I was too old to trick-or-treat (side note: my best friend and I trick-or-treated when we were 13 just so we could have candy to eat with the scary movies our parents didn't know we were watching..), I lost all interest.

My friend (same one mentioned above) and I lived together for a year during college and tried throwing a fun party but it was a disaster--seriously, we don't like to talk about it to this day.. it's that bad/embarrassing. Parties just weren't as fun as going door to door dressed as a princess or as Cher. So I finally gave up.

Until this year.

My fianc├ęs mamma invited us down to trick-or-treating with the family (Brandon's ADORABLE nephew and niece) and we had a blast! Here is a quick recap in pictures from my Halloween. 


A trip to my MIL2Bs (mother-in-law to be)=a trip to Goodwill. These are my two best finds to date--and yes, I did buy the mug.
Only at Goodwill!
My sweet nephew Benny and me (mafia princess).
Benny, Nancy (best mamma in law ever!) and me.
Brandon was too good to dress up with me. Pssshhh.
Our motley crew (minus Brandon) at the mall.
I got to babysit my sweet little niece for awhile!
We ended the night making smores around the fire.
I hope that everyone had a safe and fun Halloween. And just think, now that Halloween is over, we're that much closer to Christmas! 

Party, Party, I like to Party

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Classiest Book Club Ever.

I have always wanted to be in a book club.

For as long as I can remember, my mom has been in one. I always thought it was so cool that she and her friends would get together for dinner and then discuss their book (well, at the time it wasn't so cool when it was at our house because my dad, brother and I had to hang out in the basement..).

Fast forward to about a month ago.

My friend mentioned she was reading a certain book and I made an offhand comment about how we should get a group of girls together to read it and talk about it.

Enter our book club.

Last night was our first get together at my place (side note--I have the best. fiance. ever. He cleaned the entire apartment top to bottom for me while I was a work. Yes, I am a lucky girl)--and it was a classy blast!  We talked a little about the book (I'm embarrassed to admit which book it is.. so that should give it away) but ended up drinking wine, visiting, and giggling for close to four hours. It was just what we all needed!

Oh, and before you look at the pictures and wonder what is up with all the dresses: we all dressed fancy for our get together and wore dresses and heels.. so yeah, we're pretty dang classy.
This is so appropriate for our group.
My beautiful dining room table (yes, its a card table..) with all of our delicious food.
Humus and pesto marinara dipping sauces for the bread.
Yummy!
Two of the girls brought three bottles of wine.. we somehow ended the night with five empty bottles. How that happened, I'm still not sure..
I feel very blessed to have such a fun group of girlfriends! At our next meeting, we're having a secret Santa gift exchange (that we drew for last night), more book talk and more wine (of course). I can't wait!

Party, Party, I like to Party

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Give Thanks Friday #1

God has truly blessed me with an amazing life. I have a wonderful family, incredible friends, a job I love, and I get to marry the man of my dreams in two months. What more could a girl want?

But I've noticed that in my day-to-day life, I look more at the negatives instead of all the good. I'm on a mission to change that.

Each Friday, I will be posting a "Give Thanks Friday" post that highlights 5 of my week--whether it be accomplishing something, being thankful for something, or just sharing something new I learned. I used to do this sort of thing in my journal and I encourage all of you to do the same whether it be on your blog, in your journal, or in your daily prayers. It really puts things into perspective and is fun to look back on.

Thankin' Time!

5.)
Brandon and I have a bad habit of deciding to make something for dinner that we don't have and then running to the store to get what we need. This is impractical and expensive. I was about to do this today when I realized how much food we already have.. so I made my first ever panty meal and it was gooood! I made shrimp penne with a garlic butter sauce and green beans. Yum!!

4.)  
Late October begins my favorite part of the year. No, it's not because of Halloween, but because Christmas is just around the corner! I LOVE Christmas and will probably soon write a post about why I love it so much and how my family celebrates.. but I won't go into that now because you're probably wondering what Ol' Blue Eyes is doing on my list. I start listening to Christmas music in September and my Jango (which is waaayyyy better than Pandora) station is locked on the Swingin' Christmas channel. If you love Christmas and the standards (Frankie, Dean Martin, Nat King Cole, etc.) you'll love this station. You're welcome.

3.)
I got to spend time with my dear friend Abby on Friday! This never happens because of our complete opposite schedules! Abby's husband celebrated his birthday this week so a group of us went out for dinner and drinks. 
Side note: This is the girl who introduced Brandon and I--so yeah, she's kind of the best. 

2.)
Brandon and I are heading back to CO this weekend to visit my family! I'm so excited because my brother will also be home from college so I'll get to see him too. Annnddd we're going shopping on Saturday so it'll be a pretty fun for all!

1.)

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Peanut Butter Cupcakes w/ Chocolate Peanut Butter Frosting

Yeah, it's about as amazing as it sounds.

As I've said before, Brandon's sweet great aunt and cousin are throwing us a cookbook wedding shower for the month of October (which I will be writing a post about very soon). It has been such a blast! I mean, who doesn't enjoy receiving packages and cards in the mail??

We have received a huge variety of wonderful cookbooks--we have cookbooks about baking bread, holiday foods, fancy meals, and everything in between! One of the cookbooks we received last week was this one:
My dear friend Heidi gave this to us--she knows me all too well..
I knew it wouldn't take me long to dive into this one! And sure enough, it didn't.

Last weekend, Brandon and I were invited to dinner at our friend Cody's house. We were going to be having grilled fish AND crab legs so I knew the food would be amazing and I wanted to bring an equally tasty dessert that would compliment our meal.

Enter the Peanut Butter Cupcakes with Chocolate Peanut Butter Frosting.

They are out-of-this-world and so easy to make.

Thank you Betty Crocker. And Heidi!

Anngredients:
  • 1 box yellow cake mix (cake mix calls for water, vegetable oil and eggs)
  • 3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 container chocolate creamy ready-to-spread frosting
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup chopped peanuts (I used crushed Butterfingers instead and highly recommend it!)
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Place paper baking cup in each of 30 regular-size muffin cups. In large bowl, beat cake mix, water, oil, eggs and 3/4 cup peanut butter with electric mixer on low speed 30 seconds. Beat on medium speed 2 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups.
  2. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pan to cooling rack. Cool completely, about 30 minutes. 
  3. In medium bowl, stir together frosting and 1/4 cup peanut butter. Frost cupcakes with frosting mixture. Sprinkle with peanuts (or Butterfingers!), press lightly into frosting. 
  Ta-da! Side note: this is probably the most beautiful picture I have ever taken and I am very proud of it!
Party, Party, I like to Party
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              Sunday, October 21, 2012

              Artichoke Tomato Chicken Feta Garlic Pizza

              This recipe actually makes me a little homesick.. this was one of my mamma and I's favorite things to make for dinner when the guys were out of town. We'd make this together, sip on some wine, watch a romantic comedy, and gab for hours.

              Sigh.

              But on a happier note, I get to see my family this weekend AND go wedding/clothes shopping with the fabulous DeeAnna from my favorite blog, Thrifting Denver! So yes, it shall be a wonderful weekend.

              This recipe is perfect for a girls night, date night, or just a Friday night! Enjoy!

              Anngredients:
              • 1 package Betty Crocker Pizza Dough mix
              • 1 tbsp. melted butter
              • 1 clove garlic, minced
              • 5 cherry tomatoes, sliced
              • 1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese
              • 1 cup bite sized seasoned chicken breast
              • 1 cup artichoke hearts, sliced
              • 1/4 cup feta
              1. Make dough as directed on package. Bake in oven for 5 minutes before adding any toppings.
              2. Mix melted butter and garlic. After removing from oven, brush butter mixture over pizza dough and crust.
              3. Add 1/2 cup chicken to top of pizza.
              4. Add 1 cup mozzarella cheese, followed by remaining ingredients.
              5. Top with remaining mozzarella.
              6. Bake for 7-10 minutes or until golden brown. 

              Wednesday, October 17, 2012

              Pretzel M&M Peanut Butter Cookies

              Yesterday was stupid.

              It was one of those days where absolutely nothing went right.. (Okay, wait--actually that's only semi-true. I did win the "Pick 'Em" pot at work for the week for my mad NFL predictions side note: I know NOTHING about football or the NFL.. I typically come in last every single week, so this was a big deal/miracle and the radio show I co-host went really smoothly considering one of our hosts was a no call/no show. I'm going to wrap up this side convo now..)

              Here is my list of everything that went wrong yesterday:
              1. I live in a townhouse that doesn't have laundry hookups so I use the community laundry room. I typically haven't had problems with it but yesterday, somebody decided they needed to open my dryer, not close the door and let the time run out. Twice. Annnnddd of course those were my last quarters so I had to run out to get more. Dumb. 
              2. Lonnnnngggg story short on this one: we got a contract from one of the local hotels for a block of rooms for our wedding--my last name was misspelled THREE different times/ways on the contract, the contract isn't even for the hotel we asked for, the manager is out of town until next month, AND we have to send our invites out in a week. Dumb.
              3. As I stated before, one of the hosts on my radio show was a no show/no call last night which always puts my other co-host and I in a bad spot. Dumb.
              I really shouldn't be complaining, I know. It was just a lot at once. Blah.

              Anyway, when I get sad/upset/angry/happy/stressed, I like to cook. And eat sweets.

              So I made these amazing, melt in your mouth Pretzel M&M Peanut Butter Cookies.

              I used my standard peanut butter cookie recipe and then added a few pretzel M&Ms on top.

              They are sweet and salty all at once. Oh yeah.

              Anngredients: 

              • 1 cup peanut butter (if you want to go the healthier route, use natural peanut butter).
              • 1 cup powdered sugar.
              • 1 egg.
              • 24 pretzel M&Ms
              1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. 
              2. Mix peanut butter, powdered sugar and egg in mixing bowl.
              3. Mold mix into small,  1" balls and press with a fork.
              4. Bake in oven for 8 minutes.
              5. Immediately after removing from oven, add two M&Ms to the top.

              Voila!

              Monday, October 15, 2012

              My New Favorite Thing

              I go through different food phases–I’ll eat something consistently for days, weeks, or months at a time (ex. the ‘yogurt for every meal’ phase of 2010 and the ‘I only order nachos when I go to a restaurant’ phase of.. oh wait, that’s still going on).

              But right now, my favorite thing to eat for lunch is quesadillas with Havarti cheese and raspberry jalapeno jelly. Oh my goodness, it is amazing.

              First of all, quesadillas are good with jelly of any kind on them (grape, strawberry, whatever. It’s good). But I recently discovered raspberry jalapeno jelly and I highly recommend it (I buy mine from the Kansas Originals store–you can buy it here). It gives your quesadilla a little sweet and spicy kick. Mmm Mmm Mmm. Try it and let me know whatcha think!

              Sunday, October 14, 2012

              Mexican Tortilla Chicken Casserole

              I have been trying to write and post this delicious recipe for almost a week now but I've been CRAZY busy with school and work (which are both completely overrated..).

              Annieway, I'll give a little background on this recipe--Brandon's sweet great aunt and cousin are throwing us a cookbook shower for the month of October. A cookbook shower is pretty self explanatory (the amazing people in our lives are sending us a different cookbook every day for a month), and we are loving it!

              My mom was the first person we received a cookbook from--this is the one she gave us:
              (Side note: I whole heartily recommend this book--it has several easy and healthy meals which I am a huge fan of!)

              I was thumbing through it the other night and ran across a recipe for 'Chili Chicken Casserole.' I thought that sounded fairly easy and delicious, so I went ahead and made it. Actually, I take that back.. I majorly tweaked and renamed it, but I wouldn't have gotten the idea without the book!

              And now I present to you my Mexican Tortilla Chicken Casserole!

              Anngredients:
              • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (sliced in half)
              • 8 corn tortillas
              • 2 cans cream of chicken soup, condensed
              • 1 can Rotel (choose your heat, I always go with hot)
              • 1 can black beans
              • 2 cups grated Monterey Jack or cheddar cheese
              1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place chicken in a greased 9x13-inch pan. Cut tortillas into 1-inch strips. Lay tortilla strips over chicken. In a large bowl, combine soup, Rotel, and beans. 
              2. Spread mixture over tortilla layer. Sprinkle cheese evenly over top. Cover with aluminum foil and bake 25 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 20-25 minutes, or until chicken is completely cooked through.
              Side note: I'm not a huge eater and Brandon is--that's why one side of the casserole looks weak.
              Yum!! Seriously, what is better than a casserole? They are so easy to make on a week night and they are always a hit! Enjoy!
              My mad PS/cropping skillz.


              Friday, October 12, 2012

              What I've Learned From Wedding Mags

              I remember the first time I bought a wedding magazine. I was 18, had just started college, and needed something to read (after all, I wasn't about to read my speech book...). I headed over to Target and started perusing the many titles and ran across the Colorado edition of "The Knot." I had never looked through a wedding magazine before but it seemed like a no-brainer choice since I was now a 'mature adult.'

              No more Seventeen Magazine for this girl! Oops, I mean woman!

              I started thumbing through all the stunning dresses, breathtaking venues, and masterpiece cakes. Oh yeah, this was all totally doable and I'd easily be able to fork over $35K for a "The Knot" style wedding.

              Annnnnnddddd, fast forward to today.

              I met my dream man almost two years ago, had my fairytale Disney proposal, and finally came to the realization that the whole $35K thing just ain't gonna to fly.

              Okay, okay I'll admit that I still buy bridal magazines (I figure that after January I'll never get to again so might as well do it now!) to thumb through. After all, the featured weddings are pretty incredible--but I came to a realization last night about what I'm really learning from "The Knot" and "Brides."


              I now present to you the seven things I've learned from wedding magazines. 

              1.) Every bride must save room in her budget for a valet and calligrapher.

              Umm, yeah I'll make sure to pay somebody to move somebody's car 10 feet and then write a guests address onto an envelope. Thanks for reminding me. 

              2.) Some wedding gown designers only cater to size 0 women. 

              Since I couldn't even fit my right foot into one of those dresses, I will take my size 6 booty elsewhere.

              3.) Not everyone's wedding day is happy.

              So many questions and thoughts with this one.. why is she just chilling outside with a sheet? Why is she slouching? Is her dress supposed to be that color or did that happen when she ran around the scary forest behind her? And why is she so sad? The world may never know. 


              4.) The best way to save on flowers is to get whats in season or grow your own. 

              Or just go with silk ones which makes the most sense to me.


              5.) When you buy a wedding magazine, you're paying for more ads than you are for actual articles.

              This one goes without further explanation. 


              6.) There is such a thing as wedding insurance and apparently I need to buy it.

              Okay, I can only afford one type of insurance.. so I guess I better drop my auto so I can buy wedding insurance. What's the worst that can come from that?

              I have a picture just like this of my friends and me at my NYC bachelorette party.
              7.) The best bachelorette parties happen in posh NYC, glorious Cancun Mexico, or fabulous Las Vegas.



              Okay, maybe I'm just jealous of all these extra luxuries (minus numbers 3 and 7--you DON'T have to go to New York) and I will probably still buy and read bridal magazines for the next two and a half months.. I just feel that weddings this day and age have gotten so blown of proportion and that the true meaning/importance of a wedding and marriage are getting buried under all the unnecessary extravagances.

              I'm just beyond blessed and excited to be marrying the man of my dreams--and that is something you can't find in a wedding magazine.

              But I do still want a photobooth..

              Tuesday, October 9, 2012

              Better than "Better than Sex Cake" Brownies

              Clever name, huh?

              One of my all-time favorite desserts to make (and eat) is 'Better than Sex Cake'--well, last night I had the idea of "Hmm.. I wonder how that would taste if it were a brownie instead of cake.."

              Best. Idea. Ever. 

              I now present to you the Better than 'Better than Sex Cake' Brownies.

              Anngredients:
              • 1 box brownie mix 
              • 1 (16 oz.) jar Caramel topping (to make it a little more guilt free, you can get the fat free kind--it doesn't taste much different and always makes me feel a little better about eating this delicious dessert).
              • 1 (8 oz) tub whipped cream (again, I always go fat free to make myself feel better).
              • 4 ounces of toffee bits
              Here's the secret: immediately after removing the brownies from the oven, cut small slits into the brownies and add the caramel all over the top. The caramel will seep into the brownies as well as create a delicious, gooey outside. You'll then have to set it in the refrigerator for about an hour to let the brownies cool before adding the whipped cream--this also helps the caramel set even more.
              1. Bake brownies as directed on box.
              2. Remove brownies, follow Annie's secret trick, add caramel and set in fridge for an hour.
              3. Spread whipped cream to top of cooled cake. 
              4. Sprinkle toffee bits.
              Once you've finished, go ahead and go for a brisk walk (that's what I have to do to feel less guilty).. or have a glass of wine. Either works.


              Yum!!
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