Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Penne Pasta with Tomatoes and Cheese

This is one of my all time favorite pasta dishes. I can remember making it numerous times with my mom when I was growing up. I had forgotten about it until I was flipping through Full Moon, High Tide over the weekend. You can customize this recipe to your liking. My dad hates olives, so we would only put them on half. I subbed mozzarella for the Havarti and upped the amount of red pepper. The best part about this dish is that the top layer of noodles and cheese gets crunchy in the oven. The end result is divine. 

Penne Pasta with Tomatoes and Cheese 
from Full Moon, High Tide 
Yields: 6 servings

6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 (28-ounce) cans Italian plum tomatoes, drained
2 teaspoons dried basil
1 1/2 teaspoons crushed red pepper
2 cups chicken broth
salt and pepper to taste
1 pound penne pasta
2 1/2 cups shredded Havarti
1/3 cup sliced black olives 
1/3 cup parmesan cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil, for garnish

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 
  • Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in heavy dutch oven over medium high heat. Add onion and garlic and sauté for 5 minutes.
  • Add tomatoes, dried basil, and red pepper flakes. Pour in broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer about one hour until mixture thickens, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Cook pasta al dente in large pot of salted boiling water. Drain. 
  • Toss pasta with remaining three tablespoons olive oil in large bowl. Add sauce, tossing well to blend. Add Harvarti.
  • Transfer to a 13x9x2 inch prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with olives and parmesan. Bake for 30 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Garnish with fresh basil. 

Monday, January 28, 2013

A great start to the week

We had a delayed start at work today because of the anticipated freezing rain. I tried to go back to sleep but was wide awake at 8:30. I decided to take advantage of the extra time and squeeze in a workout,
Jillian, we meet again.
followed by a big bowl of oatmeal,
Made with almond milk, blueberries,
chopped almonds, and cinnamon.
and some awesome quiet time.
Talk about a great start to the week. If only I didn't have to get to work until noon every Monday.

Sunday, January 27, 2013


I've been wanting to redesign my blog for some time now and was debating on whether or not to pay someone to do it for me. I stumbled across Something Swanky on Friday and was intrigued by her DIY Design tab. I figured I might as well try to create my own banner using her instructions and Picmonkey.com. As it turns out, it was a lot easier than I thought. I ended up creating three different ones and can't decide which one I like best. I would love to know what you think!

Option 1 
Option 2
Option 3 - currently live
There might be some more changes in the future, but I decided I would start with a new background and banner.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Fun Facts Friday

1) It finally snowed!
2) I wore my rain boots on my walk home from work yesterday. Instead of taking them off right when I walked in the door, I wore them upstairs and in my room while I was putting my stuff away. Now I have salt from the sidewalk all over my room and stairs. #citygirlproblems #lessonlearned

3) It is supposed to snow again this afternoon and tonight. I am crossing my fingers for an early dismissal from work but that remains to be seen.

4) All of this cold weather is making me want to hibernate and cook. I am thinking about pulling out the crockpot this weekend. Let me know if you have a favorite recipe.

5) I have been on a major oatmeal kick this week. The latest combination: cinnamon, banana, and walnuts. So good.
6) I was way too entertained by Wheel of Fortune the other night at the gym. My favorite one came from the Before and After Category: The Invisible Man of my Dreams. I thought it was very clever.

7) Yesterday was National Peanut Butter Day - not to be confused with National Peanut Butter Lovers' Day which is in March. I celebrated by eating some honey roasted peanut butter from Whole Foods.
8) I caught my roommates cold. It was inevitable but I tried my hardest to avoid it by taking lots of Emergen-C. Let's hope it doesn't last too long.

9) Thankfully this weekend should by a lot more low key than last and should give me time to recover. Other than a happy hour and movie tonight and serving as team lead again at church, I don't have any plans.

10) Happy Friday!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Weekend Recap, Part 2

South Carolina State Society

We picked right back up on Sunday night with the South Carolina State Society Ball at the Museum of Natural History.
I loved the lights on the wall.
Instead of a sit down dinner like the night before, they served heavy hors d'oeuvres and desserts and the band played for most of the night.  
We finally took a new roommate picture.
All of the exhibits were open, so you could wander throughout the museum. We decided it was kind of like the movie Night at the Museum, except the exhibits never came to life. 
It was such a fun night celebrating with both old and new friends.


Monday, I watched the Inauguration from the couch instead of dealing with the crowds and cold weather.
Overall, I would say Inauguration Weekend 2013 was a success!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Weekend Recap, Part 1

I decided to break the weekend recap into two parts since it was a rather busy one. Here is the first part.

My Old Kentucky Home

Saturday night, we kicked off the Inauguration Weekend with the Bluegrass Ball put on by the Kentucky State Society at the Wardman Park Marriott.
My date for the weekend. 
The evening started with a bourbon tasting from the various Kentucky distilleries and passed hors d'oeuvres. Each distillery had their own bar and a variety of drink options. The mixed drink from Maker's Mark was my favorite.

At 8pm, they opened the doors to the ballroom and a high school marching band played the Call to the Post before everyone entered the room. We took our seats for the parade of dignitaries before the evening program started. Most of the Kentucky congressmen where in attendance as well as Ashley Judd and Miss Kentucky. 

For dinner, we were served a delicious meal prepared by Chef Edward Lee who has made appearances on Top Chef and Iron Chef America. 
The chef himself.
After the program ended, the band started and everyone headed to the dance floor. We didn't stay that much longer because we had one more stop for the evening. On the way out the door, we were given a gift bag filled with lots of goodies.
The bag also included a Bourbon Trail Passport that you can fill up when you visit the different distilleries. Talk about a grown up Oregon Trail. We decided to add a trip to Kentucky to the bucket list. You just can't beat bourbon and horse racing. 


We left there and headed to the Hamilton for an after party hosted by Chelsea Clinton with Will.i.am as the DJ. Talk about going from one extreme to the other. 
We had the best time dancing the night away. And this was all just Saturday night. 

Friday, January 18, 2013

Fun Facts Friday

1) The snow never came yesterday. It was a bit of a let down, so we pretended that the salt we were stepping on on our way to happy hour was ice.

2) On the bright side (literally), the sun is finally out today. It was kind of blinding on my way to work this morning but I will take it.

3) I thought the sun would have brought some warmth but I was wrong. It is currently 36 degrees outside and feels like 26. Brrrrr.

4) This happened last night. Well, actually this times two. Work hard, play hard.
5) My KitchenAid Mixer is supposedly making its way up here this weekend. I can't wait to get it and put it to use. Thanks to Ms. Cindy for being the transporter of my bulky items from home. 

6) I finally caught up on my thank you notes and some other housekeeping items this week. I don't know why I don't send more letters. I certainly love receiving them.
7) I am slowly but surely working my way through Season 2 of Downtown Abbey. I realize I am way behind the times but I will get caught up one of these days.
8) I have some pretty fun weekend plans including party dresses, dancing shoes, and celebrities. I can't wait to share all the details next week.

9) I hope everyone has a great weekend.

10) Happy Friday!

Thursday, January 17, 2013


We celebrating this guy's birthday with a fire pit and cake on Saturday night. Happy birthday, Mark!
This was my view on my walk on Sunday. Talk about some serious pea soup.
After months of complaining and wearing my winter coat at my desk, they finally fixed my heater on Monday. I still think it is a fire hazard, but I am finally warm!
Tuesday at Bible study, we munched on leftover Salted Caramel Bars from Mark's party. They are pretty delicious. 
I have not seen the sun since Saturday and even then I missed most of it. That's what happens when you go to take a quick nap and wake up 2.5 hours later. I guess I needed it. 
All the cold and wet weather might be finally paying off. They are calling for snow this afternoon. Cross your fingers! 
And that's what's been happening lately! 

Friday, January 11, 2013

Fun Facts Friday

1) Sorry for being so MIA this week. It's been a busy one getting back into the swing of things.

2) I started a new online bible study called #SheReadsTruth and am absolutely loving it. You should check it out. It's not too late to join. I am a few days behind as it is.
3) So remember how I told you about my new workout gear from Old Navy. Well it's all the rage on some of the blogs I follow. It's also on sale until the 16th. Go get some.

4) We spent the day yesterday cleaning out our storage unit for work. Fun times at the office.
I should have taken an after picture.
5) It's my baby's birthday today. Well not really my baby but she might as well be. I can't believe she is 9! Time flies.
She was either four or five in the picture.
6) I am all about this new soup that I picked up from Trader Joe's on a whim last week. It is so good.
7) Can we talk about how there is already stuff for Valentine's Day everywhere? I am not a fan. It is my least favorite day of the year by far.

8) Collins killed Rudolph. It was a sad day. Although he lasted a lot longer than we all thought he would.
Rest in peace, travel buddy.
9) I am very ready for the weekend and am looking forward to catching up with friends.

10) Happy Friday!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Hot Kale and Artichoke Dip

Here is the recipe for the Kale and Artichoke Dip I posted about a few weeks ago. I apologize for the delay in sharing it with you. Enjoy!
Hot Kale and Artichoke Dip
Serves 4-6

2 T olive oil
1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 bunch of kale, stems removed, chopped (we used pre-chopped bagged kale)
1 (8oz) package frozen artichoke hearts, thawed
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup mayo
1 cup pepper jack cheese
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup panko for topping (we used Ritz crackers)
Pita chips for dipping (or a baguette)
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 
  • Heat olive oil over medium heat. Cook onions and garlic just until fragrant. 
  • Stir in kale and cook until it starts to wilt.
  • Stir in artichoke hearts. Continue cooking until kale is softened and artichokes are warmed through. 
  • Mix cream cheese, mayo, pepper jack cheese and seasoning together. 
  • Stir in kale mixture. Mix well and sprinkle panko over top.
  • Bake until cheese is melted and dip is creamy, about 20-30 minutes.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Fun Facts Friday

1) This was the weather Monday morning when I was getting dressed for work. Talk about a drastic change.
2) I am slowly adjusting back to the real world. Thankfully, we've been easing into the new year at work. My boss gave me yesterday afternoon off and I was able to run some errands and cross a few things off my to do list.

3) I picked up some new workout clothes from Old Navy and am pretty excited about them. Who knew that they had such a great selection and for such low prices?! Hopefully they will hold up.
4) I guess I should put my new purchases to use and actually make it to the gym one of these days. 

5) I have been on a major cleaning spree this week. I don't know what has gotten into me. Spring cleaning come early?

6) How about the Gamecocks in the Outback Bowl! Forever to thee, my friends.
7) I finally joined the iPhone world. Merry Christmas to me!
8) Speaking of Christmas, Santa brought me a KitchenAide Mixer. 2013 just might be the year my bakery gets started.
9) I really want to go see Promised Land. I was going to go yesterday but it didn't come out until midnight. I can't remember the last time I've been to the movies. Maybe I will go on Sunday. Anyone want to go with me?

10) I think that's all for now. Happy Friday!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

I got Punk'd

2013 is starting off with a bang.

When I got to the office this morning, there was an eviction notice on the door from building management. It said that we were being evicted effective January 1 and that I should go to the front desk for more information. So I did what the note told me and headed immediately back downstairs to the front desk. I didn't try to open the door. I didn't even put my stuff down or take my coat off, I just turned around and went to see the security guard. When I showed him the note, the guard didn't know anything about it. He said he was just filling in for the morning and wasn't familiar with protocol for eviction notices. He called the building manager who apparently was on vacation last week and didn't know anything about it either.

By this point in time, Marg had walked in and was standing with me downstairs. We were trying to figure out what could have happened since Monday afternoon since rent is paid automatically and we hadn't received any emails. We decided to go wait in our office until the security guard and building manager could get to the bottom of the situation. When we unlocked the door and walked into the office all the lights were on which is strange. Then we heard a noise from the corner office and our accountant poked his head out. When I asked him if the note was his doing, he was reluctant to respond until I told him that building management was on the way. Then he confessed.

Apparently the whole thing was a joke. He had beaten us into the office and wanted to do something to trick us. He thought I would have at least come in the office before going downstairs, so he could have stopped me. Being the fixer that I am, I didn't pass go, I didn't collect $200 - I went straight to fix the problem. With the way things go sometimes at work, I really wasn't even surprised to see the notice.

Once we stopped laughing long enough to catch our breath, I ran back downstairs to tell the security guard that I had been punk'd and that the whole thing was a joke.
Happy 2013!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year!

2012 was a pretty great year. I can't wait to see what 2013 has in store for me!