Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Happy Birthday, Aunt "Skeeter"!

I stayed Sunday thru Tuesday morning in Wadley, visiting and catching up with my family and Aunt "Skeeter". We enjoy our time together so much. It was hard going back to work on Tuesday after spending all day Monday talking about food, family, blogging, and um, more food. I also introduced Aunt "Skeeter" to Pioneer Woman. I got tickled listening to her getting tickled while reading PW's cookbook and blog in the next room. Aunt "Skeeter" has a great sense of humor and her laugh is contagious. So is PW's...they would make great friends.

On Tuesday, I headed back to Augusta just in time for work. It was a great day knowing that when I got off I would have spend-the-night company waiting on me at home--mama and Aunt "Skeeter"; I just can't get enough of them! It was Aunt "Skeeter's" twenty-fifth (plus a few but hey, no one is counting!) birthday. We had dinner at this wonderful restaurant called Manuel's Bread Cafe at Hammond's Ferry in North Augusta.

We sat outside; the weather was pleasant and the atmosphere was quiet. I ordered Cod Nachos for an appetizer  (UNBELIEVABLE!) and grilled pineapple and fruit salad with Greek yogurt for dinner. The nachos were huge and there was enough to share and have leftovers. Mom and Aunt "Skeeter" ordered salads. We particularly enjoyed the beets on the salad--they shared a few bites:)We stuffed ourselves stupid but had already made up our minds earlier that we wanted dessert and knew exactly where we wanted to go to get it. Our waiter gave Aunt "Skeeter" a dessert of her choice "on the house". She choose Peanut Butter Cup Cheesecake and decided to save it and leave for Brandon to have when he gets home on Friday (she loves him). Now I feel it's an appropriate time to say a quick prayer over the cheesecake-- "Lord, I pray I will have the willpower to let it be in the frig, where it belongs (not in my belly) and save it for it's intended purpose. Amen."

Aunt "Skeeter", Me, and Mama at Manuel's Bread Cafe

Now for the exciting part of the evening--Dessert! We took Aunt "Skeeter" to the Boll Weevil in downtown Augusta. They have the largest layered cakes known to man. They are so large that 3-4 people can share one slice and still have leftovers. We let Aunt "Skeeter" choose and after some pretty intense decision-making she selected the Chocolate Coffee Toffee Cake. Y'all this bad mamajamma had coffee-toffee icing underneath dark chocolate icing and it was rich but oh so delightful. We got a couple cups of coffee and water and began digging in.

We had such a wonderful time and we made sure to remind each other throughout the evening. Aunt "Skeeter" made mention numerous times about how this was the best birthday she could remember having in a long time. I glad mama and I were able to spend it with her and we had fun making it special. Here's to many more visits, celebrations, and fun times together!

Love, xoxo

Playing Catch Up

So much has been going on in my life lately that it would make for a terribly long blog post if I tried to type it all out. I think I will start with the events of this last week until today.

Mom and I began a major adventure last week as we intro'd our new blog devoted just to recipes and our cooking excursions. Check us out here. We are so stinkin excited about this blog and haven't stop talking and thinking about it since.

Last weekend was enjoyable and relaxing. We had our friends, Barrett, Jennifer, and Claire, over for dinner on Friday night. I cooked Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore over white rice, fresh corn fritters, steamed broccoli, and garlic cheese croissants. Oh and Candy Bar Cake for dessert. Delicious!

Here is a pic we took with Claire using my iPad. Claire and Brandon and best buddies. It is so sweet to watch them play dolls and run and jump together. She likes me okay but this precious pumpkin loves her "Unca B":)

On Saturday night, we went over to the Gables for a Sunday School cookout. It was a fun time. I couldn't hang long as I was exhausted after  taking 2 classes at the gym Saturday morning, coming home and cooking until lunch, yardwork with Brandon after lunch, and then more cooking until party time.
I baked a Peanut Butter-Sour Cream Bundt Cake with Butterfinger-Ganache Glaze. Yum!

I also made my mama's famous baked beans for the cookout. Want these recipes and more? Well, follow "Our Friend Oven" and you will have access to them very soon;)

Sadly, on Sunday, I had to say a short goodbye to Brandon. He left before Sunday School for a week of work in Orlando. He's so darn sweet, though. On Saturday, he went out and bought an indoor orchid for me to sit on the counter so when I got sad I could look at it and be reminded of him. It's getting me by...

On a happy note, someone extra special came to Wadley on Sunday--the best aunt in the world, Aunt "Skeeter". Jasper and I headed to Wadley after Sunday School to make it in time for lunch with my family and then patiently wait on Aunt "Skeeter" to arrive. Mama and I have the most fun when she is around. She brought us each a paperback copy of "The Help". It made me VERY excited. I cannot wait to delve in but am waiting to get caught up on paperwork--BORING--before I become addicted (that's the word on the street). I think I will save the details of her visit for the next post. Don't want to wear you out with a lengthy post, my friends:)

Love, xoxo

Monday, August 8, 2011

What to Say...

Well I kind of lied, I suppose, in my last post about blogging some great recipes soon. Lord I do apologize ("and be with the starving Pygmies in New Guinea":) If it weren't for talking to my dad thirty minutes ago and him mentioning how much he missed my posts then another night would have trickled by without even logging onto "Up on Blue Berryhill". To tell you the truth I have lost all motivation for anything. I am tired and I don't feel well and I have a plethora of paperwork to complete and when I sit down at the computer to look at anything but work, floods of guilt consume me and I end up closing my laptop and calling it a night (or day). In fact tonight I came home from work, fed Jasper, laid on the couch, and attempted to complete this great book I've been reading called "Heaven is For Real." Around 8:08 my eyelids could not stay open for another second and I quickly fell asleep. I would still be lying there if it weren't for my sweetness who called and woke me up. I am glad I got off that sofa; I would have felt really crummy tomorrow morning.

Like I said, my days as of late have been really lazy. Failed workout regime, terrible eating habits, lack of sunshine, wg, etc. has gotten me in the slumps. Food has gotten the best of me. I need to figure out a way to do what I love--cooking, reading recipes, creating recipes--in a healthier way. I am tired of loving food but hating food. How does Pioneer Woman think about and cook food all day long but still keeps her figure? And Giada? Oh we won't even talk about how darn cute she is! Let me go and figure myself might just here from me again tomorrow. So long for now friends.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Long Time, No Post

I am back from a 2 week (or longer) blogging hiatus. I have missed the blogging world.

Last week was spent in North Georgia where the lack of Internet prevented me from blogging. But don't worry, I made up for it by cooking and trying new recipes to share. And this busy week was spent catching up at work after a week away on vacation. Also, I hosted a Stella and Dot jewelry party on Wednesday. I have had fun but the only negative to taking a vacation is having to go back to work. It's exhausting!

My goals for next week include getting back on an exercise regime, losing 2 pounds, blogging about and eating yummy food, and cooking for Brandon and Hallie (I'll let you know how Goals 1 and 2 work out with Goals 3 and 4;). Next week may be Hallie's last week with us and I want to end it with spending time together. I will be so sad to see her leave. She has been a fun housemate this summer. I love you Hallie B!

I haven't decided which recipes I want to post for next week; I suppose it depends on my mood. Oh and be on the look out for a new theme day..."Make-shift Mondays". It should be interesting.

Blogs I Love

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Weigh Less Wednesday: Blueberry Streusal Muffins

You may have noticed a running theme for this week...yes, it's all about breakfast, which happens to be my FAVORITE meal of the day. When someone ask me what my favorite food is I usually reply "pancakes"--aka "fatcakes". I call them fatcakes because I love them so much that I can't stop eating and then after about fatcake #5 I begin to feel very fat. Regardless, I still love them and their calories along with other breakfast items, such as omelets, biscuits, bacon, and muffins.

With summer season comes fresh fruit and vegetables, which can be incorporated into a variety of breakfast entrees. For this post I almost decided to try a lighter version of blueberry "fatcakes" but I am going on vacation next week and would like to be able to fit into my clothes and bathing suits so I refrained and tried a wonderful lighter version of blueberry muffins. Thanks to our sweet neighbors, Meghan and Joe, who shared fresh blueberries that they picked over the weekend, I already had all of the ingredients on hand. I came straight home from work, skipped weight lifting and kickboxing classes to cook (and eat!) this delicious concoction. Thankfully they turned out beautifully! So here it is readers--Blueberry Streusal Muffins. Enjoy!

Blueberry Streusal Muffins
2 1/4 cups all-purpose/whole-wheat flour, divided*
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 large egg
1 cup sugar, divided
3/4 cups reduced-fat sour cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup fat-free skim milk, divided
2 cups fresh blueberries, washed and picked over
2 Tbsp butter, melted
1 Tbsp brown sugar*

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place muffin liners in a 12-hole muffin tin. Lightly grease muffin liners with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, combine 2 cups of flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

Using an electric mixer, beat egg with 3/4 cup of sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Add sour cream and beat until thoroughly combined; blend in vanilla extract.

Add half of flour mixture and half of milk to sugar mixture; beat until just combined. Add remaining flour mixture and milk; beat until smooth.

Fold in blueberries and fill each muffin liner about 3/4 full; set aside.

To make streusal topping, in a small bowl, combine remaining 1/4 cup each of sugar and flour and brown sugar. Pour in melted butter and combine with fingertips. Divide crumb mixture over muffins; gently press into top of muffin batter with fingertips.

Bake until slightly golden and a toothpick inserted in center of muffin comes out clean, about 30-35 minutes. Cool in pans for about 10 to 15 minutes and then transfer muffins onto racks to cool completely.

Who stole the muffin from the muffin tin? Jasper?

*I used half white flour and half whole-wheat flour just to add extra fiber to the muffins. The original recipe called for white flour. And it did not mention adding brown sugar to the topping but I thought it gave them a warm, golden sweetness.
Also, you can use frozen berries in this recipe but make sure they are thawed completely.

Recipe Adapted from Weight Watchers

Tasty Tuesday (a day late)--Puffy Cheese Cloud

Meet my Aunt "Skeeter". To you she's Marcelle...

Aunt "Skeeter", Mama, and I in 2010

My Aunt Skeeter is the epitome of Southern Lady. She is one of the best cooks I know, a wonderful example of true southern hospitality, and a warm, kind-hearted woman. She and my Uncle Riley are great people and I love them very much. They live in Niceville, Florida which is a fitting name for the town as its residents really are nice people!

Every spring, mama and I take a "girls trip" to Niceville to visit Aunt Skeeter and Uncle Riley. By the end of the trip we are sad to leave as we always have too much fun together. We like to shop in Destin, go to the beach, take cooking classes, and eat, eat, eat! But probably what we enjoy most is reading and sharing recipes. We always say that we are "fools" for a new cookbook or cooking magazines so we often resort to Barnes and Noble for the latest  Southern Living, Paula Deen, or Taste of the South special issue. In April when mama and I went down for our annual trip, one night we found ourselves sitting in Aunt Skeeter's HUGE pantry (yes, the two of us we able to sit comfortably and move about in her pantry!). We had a blast plundering thru her cookbooks and the various unusual canned food items that we'd never think of buying. That led to having Uncle Riley copy multiple irresistable recipes that we not leave Florida without. After that, Aunt Skeeter gave us a peek into one of china cabinets that housed some of the random entertaining pieces she has collected over the years. I had the opportunity to say "I would love to inherit that piece if your children don't want it." !!!

Like I mentioned earlier, Aunt Skeeter knows hospitality and she is a wonderful hostess. Usually when we arrive at her house, she is busy preparing dinner which likely is a dish she's been wanting to try; we proudly serve as her guinea pigs. Each night we are presented with a delicious meal that far exceeds that of any local restaurant around. 

So as I began thinking about this post, I experienced a problem--well, sort-of.  When I began thinking about which recipe of Aunt Skeeter's I wanted to share, I became overwhelmed with all of the great food we had on our most recent visit and those prior to. Everything was so delicious I didn't know what to choose. Then I had an "ah ha" moment and her Puffy Cheese Cloud popped into mind. Although we did not have this dish in April, we have made it multiple times for brunches, showers, Sunday school breakfasts, etc. It is a never-fail, crowd-pleasing recipe. And it is perfect for this post as each time I make it I always think about my Aunt Skeeter and how special she is to me. I love her very much and am blessed to have her as an aunt. Aunt Skeeter, I love you (and your delicious recipes!).

Puffy Cheese Cloud is a breakfast/brunch recipe that is a spin off of your run of the mill breakfast casserole. It's superb and its level of difficulty equals "easy". Don't let the water bath intimidate you because its what makes this casserole stand apart from the rest. Enjoy!

Puffy Cheese Cloud
16 slices white bread
8 slices American cheese
4 oz shredded sharp cheese
soft margarine
1 pound sausage (or ham), browned
6 eggs
1 quart whole milk
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
Cut crusts off of bread. Spread 8 slices with margarine. Place in lightly greased 9"x13" baking dish butter side down. Lay cheese slices on top of bread. Top with browned meat. Sprinkle this layer with shredded cheese. Top with remaining 8 slices of buttered bread, butter side up.

Beat eggs, milk, salt, and pepper until combined. Pour egg mixture over bread (pour slowly to give the bread time to soak in mix). Cover and refrigerate over night. Remove from refrigerator at least 1 hour before cooking. Bake for 1 hour and 10-15 minutes in water bath* in preheated oven at 350 degrees. Let set 10 minutes before serving.

*Directions for water bath (basically it's just a larger pan/dish, filled with small amount of water, that holds your casserole-filled dish during baking):