The Comeback Recipe

One of my most requested recipes is honestly not mine.  Shameful I know but you cannot mess with perfection and Kelsey has perfected this one.  Creamy cheeses perfectly paired and melted slowly together making the best mac and cheese you have ever had.  Bold statement right?  It’s a bold recipe.

Kelsey Nixon’s Skillet Bacon Mac and Cheese

Ingredients:

1 pound of pasta, your choice

1 tsp.  dry mustard

1/4 tsp.  ground cayenne pepper

2 cups shredded sharp cheddar

1 cup grated gruyere cheese

1 cup, plus 1/2 cup grated parmesan

1 cup milk

1/4 cup heavy cream

1 1/2 cups panko (Japanese) bread crumbs

2 tbsp.  flat leaf parsley

6 slices bacon, cooked reserved 1/4 cup rendered bacon fat

Béchamel sauce ingredients:

1/4 cup butter

1/4 cup flour

3 cups hot milk

1/4 tsp.  nutmeg

salt & pepper to taste

Directions:

Boil water for pasta, once boiling please cook until almost al dente and drain.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Make béchamel sauce, melt butter in 12 inch oven proof skillet.  Whisk in flour and stir constantly until it starts to bubble, around 2 minute (don’t let it brown).  Gradually add the hot milk and stir constantly until thickened.  Add nutmeg, salt, pepper, reduce heat and cook for a couple more minutes.  Remove from heat.

On a low heat add the dry mustard and cayenne pepper to the béchamel sauce.  Either take the skillet off the heat or on the lowest setting you have and add cheese, stir quickly until smooth (this is key to avoiding that gritty cheese texture).  Add the milk and cream to the sauce to thin it out a bit.

In another skillet brown bacon until crispy, reserve 1/4 cup bacon fat.  Add cooked pasta to béchamel sauce. In a separate bowl mix bread crumbs, chopped parsley, and bacon fat, sprinkle this mixture over the pasta mixture.  Sprinkle another 1/2 cup parmesan on top of the pasta as well.  Bake until top is browned between 20-25 minutes depending on your ovens heat.  Enjoy!

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The perfect easy side dish

I’m pleased to share with you one of my families favorite go-to weeknight side dish recipes, sweet potato fries!  The good news is these are quick and they go with almost any main dish you can think of.

Sweet Potato Fries

Ingredients:

5 medium size white sweet potatoes

1/4- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

teaspoon cinnamon

salt and pepper to taste

2 tablespoons olive oil

Directions:  First preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.  Line a standard size cookie sheet with parchment and set aside.  Peel and cut each potato long ways in the shape of fries (or use your über fancy fries cutter).  Toss the fries in the oil and sprinkle them with the cayenne, cinnamon, salt, and pepper.

I love to serve mine with archer farms mango jalapeno ketchup from Target (it is amazing).  Dinner is served!

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From our home to yours, happy eats!

 

Hosting a Pinterest Party and other lovely thoughts

Hello! Again, I’ll shout I’m alive! I know it has been a bit since my last post so I have lots of fabulousness for you today! It was recently I heard of these Pinterest Parties… sounds awesome right? I knew this was the perfect theme for a get together with the girls!

How do you host a Pinterest party, you may ask? Oh your in luck Im giving you the step by step guide to make this party planning much easier than it seams…

1 month before: Send the invites, I’m always late on this step, I guarantee a much better turn out if you do it this way rather than the usual text the week before. Get everyone to bring a dish they’ve pinned and never tried. Want to save your guests some work? Add a cost per person that they can charge with the RSVPs (tons of websites have this option, try Eventbrite, then you can buy the supplies for everyone… This is much easier than the popular bring a craft your working on option I’ve seen…. I mean really what craft are you working on?!!

2 weeks out: Start looking for what crafts you would like to make close to your budget per person. I chose three crafts but more on that later. Remember if you have each person pitching in for themselves you can spend the money you would have spent on the party anyways and make it that much more over the top! You can start a group board and get all party attendees to add thier ideas for crafts on Pinterest.

1 week out: Buy supplies!!! Buy extra for any last minute RSVPs and return the any leftovers later. Get extra tables, chairs, table clothes, and general party supplies (vases, dishes, glasses) rented if you need extra. Buy cute glass vases to hold some of the supplies (think dollar store), this will add a little something to your table. Oh you have vases to clean rinse the paint brushes in….Fancy. I think so. HINT: Use plastic table clothes, I may never say this again, but this is a crafting party… Glue, paint, all things that are bad for your linens.. So don’t be ridiculous!

2 days before: Buy the ingredients for your dish and seasonal flowers (refrigerate to hold the fresh look). Buy beverages, I had a brunch so I bought ingredients for a juice bar. HINT: Ask a few people to see if you need to add a savory or sweet dish yourself based on their dishes. I added a plate of good extra crispy bacon and it was perfect (add that to the list too, bacon, always bacon).

Make one of each craft, it’s much easier to explain the complicated online directions to somebody after you’ve done it yourself, plus it’s super cute to display on the table. Still go ahead and print several copies of directions for each craft for your guests.

1 day before: Make your dish ahead as much as possible, I made sweet rolls up until the point they were just ready for the oven, covered, and refrigerated over night. You can find the recipe for the raspberry sweet rolls here. I added a simple drizzle of icing (1/2 cup powdered sugar, 1 Tbsp good vanilla, and 2 Tbsps milk). They were super easier but delicious! I cooked the bacon on a griddle and threw it on a cookie sheet in the oven the next morning so it was warm. Make your flower arrangements now, you can’t have a party with out flowers..

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I bought a small bouquet from the store and picked roses out of my front yard to fancy it up a bit. Hold your bouquets in the refrigerator overnight.

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Your refrigerator is party ready!

Oh and music, of course choose your party music. I played She and Him throughout the party because it doesn’t get more girlie that a band with Zooey Deschanel

Morning of the party: Set your tables up with your supplies and the drink table up with whatever your beverage selection may be. Put your dish in the oven and enjoy a cup of coffee while you wait on your guests to arrive.

Now for the pictures from the party…

My backyard all decked out! Special thanks to the hubby for the lighting and hanging my banners!

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The Food!!!

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And I say again… The food.. It was that good!

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Oh please notice my flower arrangements, I lined the glasses with collard greens from the backyard. I thought it was awesome!

My juice bar, sparkling juice to make it more girlie..

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The painting table, find the tutorial we used here.

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I love my farmers baskets, I used them to put my paints in today but I somehow add them in to every party!

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The ombré tote craft table, we used this idea!

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Sophia!

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Finally the fabric flower craft table, craft link here!

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Group Pic!

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Oh… I forgot to mention, I used a Pinterest and Pajamas theme… I hope your Saturday has been as fabulous as mine, happy weekend from our home to yours!

A Little California Inspiration

I’m alive!!! I know it’s been a few weeks but I promise this beautiful recipe was worth the wait…. Plus I have updated everyone’s favorite wall in my house… The Chalkboard Wall is ready for Spring!

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Love it, don’t you? This was designed because of what all has happened over the past month. I have been truly humbled by God. I was wasn’t feeling as excited about my retail job as I once had coming out of this Christmas. Working six days a week with long hours through the Holidays had me longing for a more 9-5 type job. I have thought a lot about what I really enjoy doing…. Unfortunately most of my domestic interests don’t seem to be career interests. I prayed… and I prayed… really not sure what I was praying for. I knew I needed a change. The day before my birthday, a coworker/friend of mine told me of a position another coworker had applied for. Turns out, this was the position I have wanted since I first went to work for Macy’s. This is the type of job, I was once told, somebody would have to die for it to come available. It is also the one position in the company in which I could use my domestic/ creative skills all the time. It would be a way for me to get paid to do what I love, plan events full time. But there were a million reasons for me not to have the opportunity to interview for it, much less get the position.

Despite all odds I was able to apply for the position that wasn’t even posted yet with the help of my boss, and conveniently the supervisor of that position was in town from California the day I emailed it in to do an interview. I’m happy to tell you all, God has blessed me with this new position. There is no way around it, He is the reason I have this new job that fits everything I was looking for (some of which I didn’t even know to look for). It’s always humbling to realize God has something wonderful planned for you, that you wouldn’t have dreamed up on your own. This brings me to the California inspiration, due to the new job, I’ll be doing a little traveling. My first week was in California. Being the foodie I am, any time not working was spent looking for the next meal. Although there were many fabulous foodie experiences (follow my Instagram), it was a salad from Hugo’s that has inspired me to replicate it for you(with my own spin of course). I don’t know if I’ve ever really eaten beets much less cooked them before this, but trust me their is nothing to fear.

Beet and Goat Cheese Quinoa Salad
Salad for two

Ingredients:
Two Large Raw Beets
1/2 Cup Goat Cheese
1/2 Cup Carrots Chopped
1/4 Cup Scallions Chopped
1/3 Cup Walnuts Chopped
3 Cups Chopped Spring Salad Leafs
1/3 Cup Dried Cherries
1 Cup Cooked Quinoa
4 Tbsps Oil and Vinegar Dressing
Coconut oil for roasting

First Preheat the oven at 400 degrees. Then we must peel, cut the roots off, and chop these beautiful veggies (chop into eights)

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Put them on a sheet pan then cover them with coconut oil, salt, and pepper (a couple tablespoons should do).

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Stunning, right? Roast these for about 40 minutes in the preheated oven. The coconut oil gives them a slightly sweet taste. Let them cool and chop the beets into smaller pieces. Our sweet friends that watched Sophia while we were both on trips gave us these beauties.

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These were cleaned and chopped for our salad. I have a technique for making salads…. I don’t always make salads but when I do… I put all of the ingredients in a large plastic bowl and shake it. I like to make sure you get a little bit of everything in each bite.

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Mix these ingredients up and you get this gorgeous dish, it taste as good as it looks. It may look girlie but the hubby loved it (he added a little pretzel bread on the side)!

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From our home to yours, enjoy!

Home

Home. I have done a lot of thinking about the real meaning of this word over the past summer. After some news on my hubby’s graduation being delayed another year, putting us three years out. I started to reevaluate my Pinterest dreams of a chandelier filled home in the country some where outside of the arrogant state of Texas. I decided I have to starting living now, no more waiting for my life to start when I get to leave this heat stricken city. My home is wherever we spend our time together. We love our friends here, I love my job, and James has to graduate here. So what is one to do in my situation, being trapped in Houston for years….. Buy a house of course

Not what many of you expected right, it surprised us as well but I decided to make the most of now instead of waiting for someday…. even if we are in Houston. Having a house has always been a part of someday so that day is today and I’m so excited to show you a few highlights of this new home of mine…

Welcome to the Erwin’s

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Finally a bigger kitchen!!!!!

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I needed a place to entertain and feed all our friends, so the hubby built this fabulous farm house table for me

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A garden filled with vegetables, citrus, and fig trees… Things that actually thrive in this miserable heat

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My favorite wall in the house is the chalkboard wall I’m using as interchangeable art work in my formal living room

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You all must know the first dinner party could not be far behind the closing date so without further ado, my favorite recipe of all time for the first dinner party in our first home…

Shrimp and Gouda Grits

This recipe is based off of a meal I had annually on our family vacations in Seaside, FL. Marrying a boy from the gulf coast he was taken with the same meal and of course we had the recipe passed to the caterer of our wedding…. Because yes it is that good. Needless to say this recipe feels like home.

Ingredients:

8 strips of thick bacon diced (frozen bacon is much easier to cut)
3 minced garlic cloves
3 tablespoons of butter
White wine
1 pound peeled and deveined fresh gulf shrimp (the only part of the husbands two
hour commute to school in Galveston that’s totally worth my riding along)
1 yellow squash diced
1 zucchini squash diced
2 cups fresh spinach chopped
2 cups heavy cream
3 or 4 cups cheese grits (try making with smoked Gouda, chicken stock, and heavy cream….yum)

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Cook bacon in a large sauce pan until it starts to become crispy, then add the garlic. Sauté together and add butter, a splash of white wine, when the butter starts to melt add the shrimp. When the shrimp becomes white on the bottom, turn them, add the squash and spinach. Cook for a couple of minutes and then take the shrimp out. Pour in the heavy cream and simmer, reduce the sauce by a third and add the shrimp back in. Serve over cheese grits. This dish is creamy warm heaven on a southern girls plate…

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Add a fresh skillet of cornbread..

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Topping options (think cheese platter but no cheese)

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and you have an ideal dinner party spread..

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Check out the dessert recipe from this party when I guest blog post at Savouring St. Louis ! Happy eats from my new home to yours!