happy thoughts.

You know those weeks where you have a massive to-do list and plenty of time to actually complete it? Yeah, that was this week. My boyfriend was in town last week and we made sure to spend as much time together as possible. Downside? Lots of dishes to do, laundry piled up and mundane chores like going to the bank, paying bills and grocery shopping fell to the wayside.


{flower petals}

Well he left on Monday morning and every night this week (and all day yesterday) I had all the time in the world to get those chores done – did I? Nope. And to make it worse, I didn’t do anything instead! I was simply lazy. But hey, everyone deserves a lazy week. Here’s a peek at some of the things that made me happy during my week of sluggishness.


{cupcake break at work courtesy of Gigi’s}


{my absolute favorite candle – thyme + olive leaf}


{this is actually a shot from last weekend – but a blissful moment none the less}


{twilight in Knoxville}

I hope your Sunday is filled with many happy moments! Enjoy!

cajun chicken alfredo.

Cooking for one can be tough. There are so few cooking books for single servings (at least that I’ve found – suggestions are welcome!) and for as many blogs and websites, I’ve yet to come across a good one for people cooking for one.

So I’m always stuck trying to divide everything (and I’ll be the first to admit me and math don’t get along…) But the other option is leftovers and well, I hate leftovers. I don’t want to eat the same thing two days in a row (unless it’s Mexican and in that case I can eat it every day.)

Anyway, I’m rambling. Here’s a successful math problem. Cajun chicken alfredo for one.

Cajun Chicken Alfredo
(adapted from Comfortably Domestic)

Ingredients

  • 1 boneless skinless chicken breast
  • cajun blackening spice
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/2 c. chopped tomatoes
  • 1/8 c. white wine
  • 3/4 c. heavy cream (or half and half)
  • 1 c. grated parmesan
  • salt, pepper, nutmeg
  • chopped basil
  • 1 cup fettuccini

How-To:

1.  Cook fettuccine, set aside
2. Sprinkle chicken with blackening spice
3.  Heat butter and olive oil in a skillet. Cook chicken until brown and seared on each side.
4.  Slice chicken and set aside.

For sauce:

1. Deglaze the pan with the white wine, whisk up all the brown bits
2. Add chopped garlic and tomatoes to the pan, saute until caramelized
3. Reduce heat to medium-low and pour cream into the pan, stiring constantly
4. Add salt, pepper and remaining butter
5. Stir for 3-4 minutes until cream reduces slightly
6. Add the cheese and toss in pasta
7. Before serving, sprinkle with parsley.

Bon Appetit single friends!

meet ellie.

This is Ellie! I adopted her from Young Williams Animal Shelter last week and it’s crazy how much I already love her.


  {meeting for the first time – it was love at first sight}

She’s an 8-year-old poodle mix. She was seized from her owners but the shelter didn’t tell me why. From what I can tell she doesn’t seem scared or skiddish so hopefully it wasn’t something sad…

I really wanted an older dog 1) because I didn’t want to have to potty train her 2) getting a puppy implies at least a 12 year commitment and I honestly don’t know where my life will be in 5 years let alone 12 3) people rarely adopt older dogs and so I wanted to give this little girl a home.


{Farmer’s Market outing}

We went to the Farmer’s Market this week and she loved playing with all the other dogs and everybody wanted to pet her (duh – how could you resist that face!). It’s only been a week and already I feel so much happier with her in my life. It’s so much nicer to have someone (even if it’s a dog) to come home to and to cuddle with. Be prepared for many more posts of my new baby!


{now I have someone to watch True Blood with}

 

summer so far.

How can it possibly be the third week of July? Where has the summer gone? Either way it’s been a great first summer in East Tennessee.

The weather is pretty unbearable at times, taking hot and humid to the extreme. But heat be darned, it’s been a summer filled with nights out with friends for a cold beer after long days, weekend trips to St. Louis and New Orleans, and a diet filled with local, farm fresh produce. Here’s to another great two months of summer!


d{beer in a mason jar}


{{weekend in New Orleans for best friend’s wedding}


{Cardinals game in St. Louis}


{local veggies from Rhynes Farm}

Baked Chicken Fingers

So I really love fresh air. Random thought, but bear with me. I love fresh air and haaaate turning on my air conditioner. It feels stuffy and well let’s be honest it also makes my electric bill go up… so there’s that. In the morning it’s nice and cool and with the windows open and fans on it feels all cozy in my bed.

But the problem arises when I get home from work and turn the oven on. Now all of  sudden I’m cooking while I’m cooking. It’s an issue. Yet I’d rather be hot and have fresh air, so I will endure until it reaches unbearable summer temperatures (which very well might be this weekend.)

I made this garlic basil dip the other night with some sweet potato fries and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. So I based what I made for dinner around something that could be dipped in that dip. Please welcome my first attempt at making chicken fingers.

I couldn’t tell you the last time I actually ate chicken fingers and obviously I wasn’t going to fry them (I mean it is swim suit season…and I save calories for things that include chocolate) so I baked them along with zucchini fries. Yummmmmmm. And both were made even better when dipped in that amazing garlicky goodness (which I guess isn’t exactly calorie free…)

Cracker-Crusted Chicken Fingers
(Adapted from BringOutTheChefInYou)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Goldfish crackers
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Splash of milk
  • Flour
  • 1 Chicken breast

Makes 1 serving

How – To:

Crush up your goldfish – or in my case Golden Penguins, also known as the Walgreens brand. These were hilarious to me. Moments when I’m laughing at animal shaped crackers in my kitchen make me miss having roommates.

Set up your stations. Flour – egg – crust (goldfish for chicken, breadcrumbs for the zucchini). Then dip them in that order.

Bake the chicken for 10-12 minutes at 400.

 

Now this dip. It came from looking for more ways to use the basil from my herb garden. And it’s so. freaking. good.

Basil and Garlic Dip
(Adapted from Food Network)

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 c. light mayonnaise
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp chopped basil
  • salt and pepper to taste

How – To:

Chop up the basil and the garlic. Depending on how much garlic you like, you can add more or less. I looove garlic so I used a big clove for the serving size I made.

Mix it all up and dip away!

Man, it’s so good. I’m already thinking of other things I can make to dip in it…

Rules of Summer

There’s no arguing. Summer is here.

And while my summers no longer consist of summer camp and hours by the pool, it’s not like adults can’t enjoy the months of June through August…or so I think…

So here goes. My summer to-do list. To-do lists get a bad rep but I looooove them. If you look around my apartment or my desk at work there are post-it notes and notepads scattered all over with reminders. There’s a fantastic satisfaction of being able to cross something off on a list.

My summer to-do list consists of a few of the things I want to accomplish this summer:

{Image credits 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9}

1. host a summer picnic
2. make popsicles
3. take a weekend trip (Asheville sounds fun!)
4. train for a 10k
5. make some of the DIY projects on my Pinterest board (like those shorts)
6. furnish my bedroom
7. make pizza
8. write letters to friends and family
9. keep my apartment filled with fresh flowers

Some other goals – go on a float trip, try to buy all my vegetables at the farmers market, read more books, learn to take a better photo.

What’s on your summer to-do list?

Mini Apple Pies

Happy Memorial Day!!

I just watched last night’s episode of GIRLS (have you seen it? If not GO WATCH NOW). Parts of it are so absurd but yet they still feel like stories my friends might tell me, while other parts are like the writers reached into my own diary and pulled out random Saturday nights.

What does this have to do with Memorial Day? Absolutely nothing. But it is what it is.

I had to work today (the news knows no holiday) so I celebrated my Memorial Day by the pool yesterday with Stephen King’s book on the assassination of JFK, 11/22/63. It’s been a bit of a challenge to get in to, but now I’m hooked.

In addition to my BBQ chicken sandwich, I made these adorable little apple pies. Because let’s be honest, everything is cuter in the miniature. And nothing says Happy Memorial Day like apple pie.

Mini Apple Pies
(Inspired by AdventuressHeart.com)

Ingredients:
1 sheet puff pastry
2 apples, peeled and chopped
2 Tbsp butter
1 tsp cinnamon
1/8 c sugar
1 Tbsp brown sugar
Flour

Makes 16 mini pies

How – To:

1. For the filling: melt butter in a sauce pan and mix together apples, sugars and cinnamon. Let them cook down a bit – I like my apples to a have a little bite to them but if you like a gooier filling, cook them longer.

2. Dust flour on the counter and roll out the puff pastry. It should be thawed but chilled.
3. Spray your muffin tin with Pam (or off-brand .
4. Depending on what types of shapes you want – cut out your dough to fit your muffin tin. I cut a couple of squares to make little apple pouches, but for the pies, I cut circles.

5. Fill with apple filling.
6. Then just play around with different designs. For some I made little lattice toppers, others I covered and cut slits. Use your imagination!
7. Brush the tops with an egg wash and pop those guys in a 350 degree oven for 25-30 mins.

8. Then sit and admire your cute little creations!

Warm Nights

Memorial Day weekend is always the true kicking off point for summer. Pools open, schools out (I guess forever now…still haven’t evaluated my feelings on this…) the evenings are warm and humid and it’s not too unbearable to sit outside and eat dinner.

It’s supposed to reach mid 90s this weekend here in Knoxville and even tonight it was too hot in my kitchen for much cooking. I was starving and wanted something quick so I grilled up some little shrimpies with lime juice and cilantro from my herb garden and tossed a together some corn, more cilantro, lime and a banana pepper from my “garden.”

Fresh, easy and yum!

I sat out on my patio with my new Southern Living that arrived today (it’s so exciting when I open my mail box to find something other than junk mail or bills).

I feel like a total weirdo for admitting this but it makes my day to see how much my herbs and vegetables are growing. I get so excited everyday to check out how the little guys are doing (well maybe every other…sometimes I neglect my little babies). Today there is a worm/caterpillar thing living in one my banana peppers! I was so sad – what’s he doing in there?

I’ve got my citronella candle burning bright to keep the bugs away but I guess that doesn’t work on caterpillars…

With summer almost here I’m prepping my summer to-do list! Do you have any big goals or plans this summer?

 

Billions of Biscuits

Well no, not billions. But I liked the alliteration.

Saturday was the International Biscuit Festival in Downtown Knoxville. Let me tell you it was pretty much heaven. Dozens of stalls hawking their best biscuits. For just 5 bucks you got to sample 5 biscuits. At first I was thinking, hmmm I’m going to need to get another ticket – 5 biscuits, pshh, that’s nothing. Boy was I wrong.

Biscuit Fest was a popular place to be and some of the lines were crazy long. I decided it’d be best to stroll along and check out what everyone as offering before I committed. There were so many to choose from! From your traditional biscuit with preserves to chocolate biscuits.

I started off with a traditional biscuit with homemade preserves from Nashville’s Loveless Cafe. To me preserves are just a fancy way of saying jelly and when it comes to jelly I can take it or leave it. So I dotted half of my biscuit with strawberry preserves and began walking away. Well. The second that strawberry hit my tongue I did a big 180 and piled a large spoonful (or two) on both sides. It was simple and sweet and fresh and mouthwatering. Mmmm.

Next up was Tupelo Honey. The line was loooong but the Asheville based restaurant is supposed to be fantastic and it’s opening up in Market Square this year so I wanted to try. The biscuit itself was probably the best of the day – it was the perfect combination of soft but crunchy on the outside. The inside was filled with pimento cheese and ham. Now I do not understand what the connection between the South and pimento cheese is, but it kind of weirds me out. But it worked and the whole thing was pretty darn good.

As we moved down the street I came across these garlic-y beauties.

Asiago biscuit with garlic butter, basil and tomato from Dazzo’s. Wooooow. Light, buttery, garlic-y perfection.

Now as I was on my last two biscuits I hit a small problem: keep going with the savory or use the last two on the sweet options. There was a cinnamon crunch, a chocolate espresso, a chocolate filled biscuit – but there was also a biscuit florentine with spinach, gravy, egg and ham that was calling my name. So I listened to it.

The biscuit florentine from Applewood Farmhouse was good but by that point I was getting seriously full.

And finally I knew the sweet biscuit I would round out my morning with: Bella Luna’s chocolate espresso biscuit with orange marmalade.

So. Freaking. Good. More doughnut than biscuit but who cares!

By this point I could barely breathe I was so full, so I walked around, listened to some music and took in the crowds (including a very festive woman!).  As for the best of the bunch? It may have been the least traditional but I can’t stop thinking about that asiago biscuit, it got my vote. But I did buy some of those strawberry preserves and plan cooking up some traditional biscuits to top them with…can’t wait.