Thursday, March 26, 2015

Recipe: Chicken Wild Rice Casserole

I've got a super yummy casserole for you to make!  We don't make many casseroles in our house; but, you know those days when all you want is something warm, easy, and comforting, well this is a perfect recipe! Plus- Charlie loved it so that is always a keeper for me.  PLUS PLUS- it tastes excellent heated up the next day!

Original recipe from Pinch of Yum

1 onion
5 carrots
5 stalks celery
1 cup wild rice
3 cups chicken broth
1 lb. chicken breasts, cut into small pieces
10 tablespoons butter (divided)
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon poultry seasoning
4 tablespoons flour
2 cups milk

3-4 cups cubed bread (dry, sturdy, or day old bread works best)

1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Chop the onion, carrots, and celery. Place in a large baking dish. Add the wild rice and the broth and salt & pepper. Cover tightly with foil. Bake for 1 hour 15 minutes.

2) When the rice is almost done, melt four tablespoons butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour, salt, and poultry seasoning and cook for one minute. Add the milk slowly, whisking to form a thick, creamy sauce.

3) If you want the topping, melt the remaining six tablespoons butter and toss with the bread cubes. (note from original recipe- I've also made it without the topping and it's still delicious).

4) When the rice is done, remove foil, add raw chicken and creamy sauce, and stir to combine. Arrange the bread in a layer on top. Turn the heat up to 450 and bake uncovered for another 15-20 minutes until chicken is no longer pink and the bread cubes are golden brown.


Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Quick Trip to Orlando

A couple weekends ago, we made a quick trip to Orlando.  We wanted to meet my brother, his wife, and 2 daughters because they have never meet Charlie.  South Dakota is way too cold right now and Ohio is not that much warmer and since we both could get cheap flights to Orlando, we decided FL would be a great meeting spot.  Unfortunately, the weather was pretty awful when we were there.  However, it did not stop us from having a great time.  We loved our time in FL and seeing Charlie play with her cousins.

Friday we all ventured out to Sea World.  It had been years since I had been to the one in Texas, so I was so excited to show Charlie.  We opened and closed that park!

Charlie really enjoyed the seals and sea lions.  Derek fed the seals and Charlie got very excited by all the commotion and noise!

We had a blast giving Charlie a few of her "firsts" while there.  A ride on the merry-go-ride was a hit! She loved it and starting crying when getting off of it.

Another first- hot dog.  Charlie enjoyed her first hot dog while viewing the shamu show.  We were running way over her lunch time and we thought everyone could enjoy a good hot dog (and beer for the adults of course) while waiting ;)

It actually rained during that day...hence the hair up and jackets!  Charlie did not mind one bit running around in the rain.

Another first- riding a kiddie-train.  This may be my favorite picture from the whole trip because it looks like Derek is having a freaking blast on a slow moving train, ha.  I think he was trying to enthusiastically say "look at Mama."  I think Charlie was a little nervous.

That evening, we decided to do dinner at a restaurant inside Sea World.  The food was not world class or anything, but the atmosphere was awesome!  There was an entire wall that was a huge aquarium.  Charlie wasn't too entertained by it, but Derek and I really enjoyed being surrounded by the aquarium.

We did a little shopping and exploring some local food places.  We ended up at the coolest oyster bar where we enjoyed lots of oysters and fried shrimp!

More firsts- staying up wayyyyy past bedtime.  There was an evening where Charlie wasn't in bed until 9:30pm!!!  So much fun running around with her cousins.  Overall, it was so nice to have a break from work and run around with family in FL.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Holiday Weekend Random

Hope you got to enjoy a day off yesterday!  I was very happy to spend the day home with Charlie.  We were snowed in all day but we made the most of it.  I have a bunch of randomness for you today...

1) First, can we please talk about how big my baby girl is getting?!  I mean look how tall she is (!!!)

2)  I'm obsessed with pigtails.  Yes, that's all I really have to say; but seriously, nothing is cuter than pigtails!

3) A huge shoutout to Leah for making this adorable Valentine's day shirt for Charlie.

4) We spent the weekend in Athens visiting Derek's parents.  We had a great Valentine's Day doing a little tour of Athens.  We went to Uncorked, a new wine bar, Thai Paradise for dinner, and then a local bar for darts.  Super fun night and so nice to enjoy a night out with his parents!

5) Anybody watching The Bachelor this season?  Chris is soooo boring to it just me?  Anyway, I'm basically just reading Reality Steve and Sharleen's recaps instead of watching it but the girls seem a little crazier than normal this season, no?

6) I'm currently watching Friday Night Lights and loving it!  Anybody else obsessed with this show?

7) I have been eating horribly this winter.  I've decided enough is enough and I'm going back to cleansing.  I'm super excited and actually motivated to get back to how I felt this summer!

8) I just picked up this lip set from Sephora last week and I'm obsessed.  It is the perfect matte lip color that has lasting staying power.  I also like the option of using the pencil and gloss for a more nude color.

9) I'm going to see 50 Shades of Grey with a neighbor this week and couldn't be more excited!  Any reviews?

10) Any fantastic book suggestions?  I bought Andy Cohn's new book and cannot get through it...I loved the first one but this one is sooo boring!

Whew, didn't realize I had so many questions for all of you ;)  Hope you have a great week!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

A Quick Trip to New Orleans!

It's official, I'm so behind on recapping!  But, I just had to write about our quick trip to New Orleans! Last minute, Derek and I found out we were lucky enough to get Sugar Bowl tickets via a raffle.  We went to the 2008 Sugar Bowl, so we were excited to head back to New Orleans.  This time with more than Bourbon Street on our minds ;)

We knew we had to drive because finding flights to a huge bowl game city a week before the big game was ridiculously expensive!  However, Derek had to work the 31st (keep in mind the game was on the 1st!), so we had to drive over night.  As soon as Derek got home from work, we took off around 11pm.  He had just worked a 14 hour shift, so I knew I would be driving most of the way.  That was our big New Years Eve night plans!

Driving over night wasn't that bad at all.  And when we got there, New Orleans was OSU/Alabama party city even at 10am.  I slept probably about 30 minutes, but then was so excited and ready to go!  We got dressed and headed out to be a part of all the madness.

Fun fact- we drove all the way there with no tickets!!!!!  It was supposed to come by Christmas, but the tickets never arrived.  The box office assured me that the tickets would be held for us at the Super Dome, but man, it was a little nerve racking driving all that way with no tickets.  We were so relieved when we got them in our hands!!

Derek and I had fun partaking in drinking our way through New Orleans including outside.  Just like Vegas, theres nothing more fun and scandalous than taking your alcoholic beverage outside!  We also met a ton of fun people....those including Alabama fans.  They were honestly the nicest fans we have ever encountered.  And that southern accent!

We were so lucky to meet up with a ton of friends there as well!  Here we were with Sarah and Jake before the game!

We ended up having fantastic seats and sat next to some funnnnnn people!  It involved getting rounds after rounds for everyone around us (all taking turns of course!).

This is Derek's game face....we still laugh at this picture!  We were ready to win!!!  This was one of the best sporting events we have ever been a part of!  We cheered so loud that we both lost our voices.  We couldn't have been more excited to be there!

The next day was spent exploring New Orleans!  We went to Nola's tap room and enjoyed the afternoon with a few friends.  On the way back to our hotel, we walked most of it.  Exploring the neighborhoods around downtown was not something we got the chance to do the first time, so we loved seeing everything!  The couple we were with just took a walking tour and they shared all their history lessons with us.  We stopped and shopped at local boutiques and of course ate our way through the whole day!  How can you not in this delicious city!!

That evening we had dinner at GW Fins.  We had such a great experience at this restaurant and I highly suggest it to anyone visiting New Orleans.  I ended up with the Sole with lobster and Derek got their tuna.

We headed back the next day to see our baby girl who was having the best time with her grandparents!  Thank goodness New Orleans is just a car trip away!  We will see you again New Orleans!

Monday, January 26, 2015

Progressive Dinner

Last month, we had our annual progressive dinner in our neighborhood.  When we tried this for the first time a couple of years ago, I was so excited.  It really is the best idea ever!  1) You get a fantastic meal 2) You get to see other people's houses (and who doesn't love that?  Am I right?!)  3) It is an easier way to host because you do not have provide all the courses.

This year, our house got house #1 / drinks course again.  This is THE best course to get!  I love finding new drinks each year and getting creative with it.

This year we served beer, wine, a "Christmas Cocktail," and Bourbon Cider.  You HAVE to try this Christmas cocktail (recipe here).  It is a mixture of pomegranate seeds & juice, raspberry sorbet, and champagne.  It was a big hit!

The bourbon cider was a brilliant idea from Whitney's party and also a big hit.  I used this recipe.

I HIGHLY suggest throwing a progressive dinner party if you have other houses close by willing to participate.  Warning: you will end the night feeling stuffed beyond imaginable!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Update & Christmas Recap

Hello there!  Happy 2015!!  Life has been crazy town for the past month and I have had no time to spare.  I got a new job (yay) and spent my last day at the job I've been at for almost 4 years.  I was so ready to say goodbye but also very sad at the same time.  So, I started a new job in December, we celebrated Christmas, Derek and I took a road trip to New Orleans for the Sugar Bowl, and lastly, our Nanny gave notice that she is leaving us and thus, we have been searching around for new childcare.  Whew, I'm exhausted just thinking about all of this!  And on top of everything, I'm traveling for the first time with my new work group and woke up this morning with a rash all over my neck and face (Awesome!).  Life is sure exciting right now :)

So, to back up to Christmas, we had a great one!  We traveled for the two days that Derek had off of work and I have to say, it went really well.  Charlie was a great traveler!  We were a little worried because we have never had her fall asleep for the night in her car seat and then try to move her to her bed...we didn't know what we were in for.  She surprised the heck out of us and went right to sleep both nights we did this.  We could have not been more proud of that little girl.  Now, on to some pictures...

We started Christmas Eve day with a trip to Derek's parents house.  Charlie was on the move the whole time we were there with her new presents.  She really had no interest (whatsoever) in unwrapping...I guess we will have to wait for that excitement next year.

Her favorite toy was the little car she received from her grandparents.  She loves getting in and closing the door, opening the door and getting out, etc. etc. etc.

Next up, we attended Derek's dad's family Christmas that evening.  We were really excited to go as it has been a number of years since we could make it to this Christmas.  We always have such a good time with this large family.

The number one important thing to us this year was to be home Christmas morning.  We really want to make it a tradition to have Charlie wake up at her own house Christmas morning and see what Santa brought her.  This year it was a kitchen.  She "washed" and "baked" all morning in this thing.

Also, love our new tradition of having Christmas PJs on and cooking a big breakfast together!

Christmas afternoon and evening was spent at my Mom's house.  Charlie had a great time here playing with Josie and eating a really large Christmas meal!

Thankfully, my mom took a family photo of us.  Again, we need to get back in the swing of taking more pictures!!

Overall, we were thankful to see so much family in the short two days Derek had off of work.  Hope everybody had a great Christmas!

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Weekend Recap

We had a lovely weekend and sadly I did not take any pictures (am borrowing for this post!).  Seriously, I need to get back on track with the documentation.  And not just using my iPhone.  I need to start using my camera again.  Maybe a new year's resolution?!

Friday night it was Lady's Night in the neighborhood.  We went to Cooper's Hawk and ended up at a local bar afterwards.  We had such a fun fun FUN night just chatting.  Loved every second of our conversations and haven't laughed that hard for a while (thanks Brittany). 

Saturday was a busy one.  I went over to Anne's house for a little cookie decoration party.  Loved everything about this ladies' get together.  I have no experience with cookie decorating so I had a blast.  My cookies did not turn out that pretty but it was fun to have some more girl time and have a few cookies to eat!

Thanks for the pictures Sarah and Anne!

That evening Derek and I went over to Miss Whitney and Kevin's house for a fabulous Ugly Sweater Party.  Would you believe me if I said that we knew nobody (except the hosts of course) and still had the most fun time and felt like we had known this group of people forever?!  It was a night filled with great food, fabulous(!!!) decor, competitive games of boys v. girls, white elephant gift exchange, and fun people.  Perfect holiday party if I say so myself.

Sunday, as you can imagine, was spent relaxing after a busy Friday and Saturday!  Derek and I finished putting up our outside lights.  This was a big deal because we have never done outside lights before.  However, considering we were the only house without lights...we had to get to it this year!  We need to do a little updating to the two trees, aka more lights, aka the ones that Derek did, aka he's going to kill me for calling him and out and suggesting more work, but I have to say I'm extremely happy with it!

Hope you had a great weekend!