Monday, September 29, 2008

Stay Tuned....

I'm a bit under the weather at the moment so no exciting posts unfortunately, but stay tuned for (hopefully)a big announcement on Friday!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

I was Green before Green was cool

That's right. Way before the "green" movement, before we recycled and drove hybrids, I was green. Or at least my last name was- Green, that is. Now that my last name has changed and I'm a "grown up" I'm starting to feel the need to pay attention to how my actions affect my environment and my body. I thought I might share a few tips about how I've made our life a little bit more environmentally friendly, and how you can do the same.

- One day I was cleaning the shower with a certain Tilex product and started coughing and wheezing so bad it made me think- can it really be okay to breathe in all of these chemicals? Not long after we began using Shaklee all natural cleaning products. You may have seen them featured on Oprah a while back. They are known for using all natural ingredients, recyclable packaging, no harmful chemicals, and no animal testing- not only that, they work! And since you use a concentrate, they last you forever. The long lasting benefit of using "green" cleaners is that they don't pollute the water, so one small change can really have a long lasting effect. Check them out on

- After seeing where all of the plastic bags we use end up (think of your favorite ocean creature and all of the ways a plastic bag can impede upon their lives- I won't go into details, but it isn't pretty),not to mention the fact that they never biodegrade, for $1 each I bought re-usable bags from our local Publix. I love them. I use them all the time and not just for groceries. They carry more than a regular shopping bag, they are sturdy and easy to carry. I keep them in my car so I never forget to take them places with me. Mine happen to be black and I think very fashionable (as far as burlap sacks go), plus I feel very responsible when I use them :)
Here is a picture of a similar one from Whole Foods:

- Being Green is not just about helping the environment it's about helping your mind and body too. Now I'm not a total hippie, but have you ever read the ingredients on a box of oreos? So many things I can't pronounce that I wonder how my body is supposed to digest them or divest any nutritional value from them whatsoever. On the flipside, it's hard to ignore how you feel when you eat a really healthy meal with fresh produce, whole grains, and things that benefit your mind and body in a myriad of ways. Putting food chemicals into your body can be the same as bad cleaning products- they are all foreign objects that your body doesn't know what to do with, and they contaminate your intestines. Because of this, I do my best to try and eat as close to the earth as possible- everything doesn't have to be organic, but try buying locally when you can (Atlanta has a few great farmer's markets for you local readers). I am making a trip to a local farm on Saturday to pick up fruits and veggies for the week, most of which are grown without harmful should do the same! **Very important side note- I still eat oreos, just not as often ;)

- We recycle all plastic and paper products- magazines, food cartons, milk jugs, anything.

- I found a lot of inspiration from a TV personality named Sara Snow Sara was raised in a family that grew all organic foods and composted their trash simply because they wanted to raise their children in a healthy environment. Sara now has a show on Discovery Health about small changes you can make to improve your environment and health. Check out her site and her 10 tips for going green.

Being "green" is not about only eating things out of your own garden, or wearing hemp clothing, it's about balance, and doing small things that have lasting impact on yourself and those around you. Give it a try!

Monday, September 22, 2008

It's that time again....

Time for yummy fall soups and chili!

Here is my standby chili recipe. It's actually a Weight Watchers recipe from a while back, but it is by far the best chili I've ever made. It uses brown sugar which gives it just enough sweetness. I usually make it with my southwestern cornbread(recipe below).

Crock Pot Brown Sugar Chili
8 Servings
240 Calories 4 g. Fiber 6 g. Fat ; 5 points/cup

1 lb. extra-lean ground beef
½ c. brown sugar
2 T. prepared mustard
1 medium sized onion, chopped
2 cans (14 oz. each) kidney or red beans
2 c. low-sodium tomato juice
½ t. salt
¼ t. pepper
1 t. chili powder

Brown ground beef and onion in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Stir in brown sugar and mustard.

Combine all ingredients in slow cooker.

Cover. Cook on HIGH 2-3 hours. If possible, stir several times during cooking.

Serve with cheese, sour cream, and diced tomatoes on top if you like.

Southwestern Cornbread

1 box Jiffy cornbread (plus necessary ingredients noted on box)
1 can southwestern veggie mix: corn, pinto beans, green chiles- you can really use whatever you like here, just peek around the canned veggie aisle to see what combinations are there

Prepare all cornbread ingredients as noted on box

Drain the southwestern veggie mix and slowly fold into the cornbread mixture

Cook as directed and serve with butter and honey!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

A few of my favorite (Fall) things...

Yesterday when I drove home from work it was only 68 degrees outside! I couldn't believe it. In honor of the cooler temperatures and the official beginning of Fall, I thought I would post about a few of the things I love about my favorite season.

My favorite fall memory comes from when we used to live in Michigan and my mom would take us out to the pumpkin farm where we would drink fresh apple cider and eat cinnamon-sugar doughnuts- YUM. I've tried to find a similar experience somewhere here in Georgia and still can't match it. If you know of a good pumpkin farm, send it my way!

Another thing I love about fall is the abundance of pumpkin baked goods- breads, muffins, pie, anything. Here is a good pumpkin muffin recipe from Cooking Light that I plan to make in the next few weeks:

It goes without saying that I Love college football, and I especially LOVE watching games when there is a chill in the air. Down in Florida we didn't get to experience this very often, but here in Georgia we have our share of chilly days during football season. *I should preface this by saying that I don't like it so chilly that I can't wear flip flops, so somewhere in the 60's works best for me- don't go thinking I like cold weather because that is certainly not the case:)

I've made scarves a staple accessory in my fall/winter wardrobe, so I always enjoy a good excuse to wear one.

Lastly, I don't know where this is, but I want to set up a picnic blanket and spend the day here...

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

I now pronounce you Mr. and Mrs. Olson!

Matt and I had the pleasure of spending last weekend down in Jacksonville for my dear friend Kristin's beautiful wedding. The whole weekend was tons of fun and it was so great to see all of our college friends who live in Florida. Kristin looked absolutely stunning and was the calmest, most laid back bride I've ever seen. She made the whole weekend so easy. The ceremony was in a gorgeous Catholic cathedral and the reception was at this country-club type venue at the top of a building with full panoramic windows- the view at sunset over the water was spectacular. I cannot wait to see the pictures, I am sure they are going to be amazing. Unfortunately, since I had the pleasure of being in the wedding I didn't have a chance to take a ton of pictures, but here are a few I snapped.

Matt and Kristin are off on their Mexican honeymoon now getting used to being husband and wife, and we wish them many many happy years together and lots of little Florida Gator babies one day;)

The gorgeous cathedral where they got married

Kristin right before walking down the aisle

Me, Meg, and Dai- college roomies and forever best friends

Me and Matty

Bride, Groom, and Guest

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Katie Lee Joel Does it Again

Anyone who's read my blog knows that I'm a huge Katie Lee Joel fan and very frequently cook from her book "The Comfort Table." She places a lot of emphasis on eating fresh, whole ingredients (organic and from a farmers market if available), and her recipes are super easy. I think I've probably made half of them and I'm already looking forward to the second half. Below are two of my favorite recipes I've made from her book. Enjoy!

Hoppin John Salad
This salad is delicous served over greens or on it's own. It would be a great side dish to take to a BBQ, or just as a healthy side to have with dinner. It's especially good after it's sat for a day and all of the flavors have run together. I make this all the time and even Matt, who doesn't typically like "things like this" loves it...that is a true testament coming from a meat and potatoes kind of guy.

2 C. chicken broth
1 bay leaf
1 C. uncooked rice (I use brown rice just to make it a little bit healthier)
2 15 oz. cans black eyed peas, drained and rinsed
1/2 lg. red bell pepper (I use 2 diced plum tomatoes instead)
1/2 yellow onion, diced
1/4 C. minced fresh flat leaf parsley
1 C. shredded white cheddar cheese
1 t. kosher salt
1 t. black pepper

For the dressing:
1/2 C. olive oil
1/2 C. red wine vinegar
1 T. fresh chopped thyme leaves
1 garlic clove, minced

In medium saucepan bring the chicken broth and bay leaf to a boil. Add the rice and reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and let cook for 20 minutes. Remove the bay leaf and fluff. Let rice cool to room temperature.

In a large salad bowl, combine rice, black eyed peas, red pepper, onion, parsley, and cheddar. Season with salt and pepper.

In a small bowl, wisk the dressing ingredients to combine. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to combine.

Peach Cobbler

I made this last night and the prep work took me only 10 minutes. I cooked it at 350 instead of 325 and for a few minutes longer than the recipe called for. It was soooo good.

4 C. (peeled, sliced, fresh) peaches, about 4 to 5 peaches
1 C. sugar
1 C. flour
1 t. baking powder
1 salt
1/2 C. milk
4 T. (.5 stick unsalted) butter, melted
1 T. cornstarch
.75 cup(s) boiling water

Preheat oven to 325ºF. Place the peaches in a 9-inch square baking pan.

In a medium bowl, mix together ¾ cup of the sugar, the flour, baking powder and ½ tsp. salt. Add the milk and melted butter, and mix well. Pour the batter evenly over peaches.

In a small bowl, mix the remaining ¼ cup sugar, the cornstarch and ½ tsp. salt. Sprinkle over the batter. Evenly pour the boiling water all over. Bake for 50 minutes, or until golden brown and bubbling. Serve in individual dessert dishes.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Book Rave!

I wanted to post about this great book I found a few months ago. It is written by Kimberly Kennedy, a fellow Atlantan, who won a reality show a few years ago to be the "next Martha Stewart." I never saw the show, but I sat across from Kimberly at a cooking show at Cook's Warehouse and then bought her book. The book is called "The Art and Craft of Entertaining" and it's a simple guide to finding your style and throwing simple yet impressive dinner parties, baby showers, wine and cheese parties, etc. Kimberly has excellent and very classic taste and many of her ideas present themselves in a way that makes them seem difficult yet in reality they are not. I LOVE this book. I have probably read it 3 times and I often go to it for new ideas or just a refresher on how to spice things up a bit. I emailed Kimberly to tell her how much I enjoyed her ideas and she wrote me back saying that she is planning another book, and is teaching a class at Cook's Warehouse on Thursday, Nov. 6 if anyone is interested in going with me! I've included her website, and the book synopsis from Amazon below. I highly recommend you check her out.


Book synopsis from Amazon: That's the question we start with when thinking about throwing a party -- and for many of us, that's the question we end with, too. We may like the idea of entertaining friends and family in our home, but the details -- those how to's of planning the party, making the food, and playing hostess -- can quickly overwhelm us, prompting us to tuck away the idea, waiting for another, better time. But it doesn't have to be that way. With The Art and Craft of Entertaining, author Kimberly Kennedy provides all the information and inspiration you need to plan, organize, and carry out a successful no-stress event. Marry some of her ideas with your own, and you'll be on the way to developing your style, gaining confidence as a hostess and elsewhere in your life.

Whether you're throwing a cocktail party, a baby shower, or an intimate dinner for two, The Art and Craft of Entertaining will take you there, step-by-step. Instructive and encouraging, this essential book lays the groundwork for entertaining with style, demonstrating how to craft a perfect invitation for any occasion, organize your supplies into versatile and efficient arsenals, and plan a satisfying meal without breaking your budget. The Art and Craft of Entertaining shows how to mix passion with planning so that you can throw the party of your dreams.

Inspiration without intimidation.

That's The Art and Craft of Entertaining.
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