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Welcome to my world: Where I'm just living my life the best that I know how... Day by day.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Memorial Weekend: Crawfish Boil & Homemade Ice Cream!

This past Monday was Memorial Day, the day of the year we dedicate to all the men and women who have lost their lives fighting for you and me. I hope you all made a special effort to thank someone who serves! I would like to give a little shout out to my cousin, John, who serves in the United States Navy. We are all so proud of you and thank you for your service!

How did you celebrate Memorial Weekend? I spent Sunday at Justin's with all of our friends. We had a big crawfish boil and get-together with all of our friends. We started out around 10 in the morning setting up some pop-up tents for a little shade as temperatures were quickly on the rise to the 90's! What is an outdoor party without a couple games? The first game we set up is definitely one of our favorites, corn hole! A couple weeks ago we had so much fun playing corn hole at Macie's graduation party, that it was decided we need to build our own corn hole boards (and by we I mean Justin and Honey hehe). Bud Light boards with matching bags were a must to the men of course. Macie painted the boards, and the Bud Light stickers and bags were ordered online. They have yet to make the legs for the boards, so we put the edges up on cinder blocks since they are the same height. We also had ladder ball (some call this "redneck golf") and a volleyball net set up.

Before long, we were all starting to get pretty hungry. One of our friends has been working down in New Orleans for the past couple months, but after an offer from Jack Daniel's, and not particularly enjoying New Orleans, he decided to head back home to TN. He was planning on going to Florida to catch some sun rays before heading back this way, so we asked him to stop (somewhere in Mobile, AL I believe) to get us 2 sacks of craw fish. If you aren't too familiar with "2 sacks"......that's a TON of crawfish. Each sack is about 35-40 lbs. Anyways, we had our crawfish ready to go, so what else did we prepare to put in the boil? There is no special recipe for a crawfish boil. You put as much of whatever you want in it. We cut up some carrots, mushrooms, onions, garlic, red potatoes, a few oranges and lemons for flavor, and of course added some liquid crab boil and seasoning. 

It was such a hot day that I decided some homemade Oreo ice cream would be a refreshing and delicious dessert (and not to mention, easy!). I credit our long-time family friend Dana for my favorite homemade ice cream recipe. Of course, this recipe requires an ice cream maker.  
Start off by mixing together:
14 oz can Sweetened Condensed Milk
12 oz can Evaporated Milk
1 cup Sugar
1 tbsp Vanilla
Then fold in:
16 oz Cool Whip
...and fill with milk to about an inch below the fill line (if you plan on adding dry ingredients...like Oreos!)
Start the ice cream maker and let it run until it starts to slow down, and at this point, add in your crushed up Oreos and let it run 'til it's done!

The crawfish, ice cream, games, and camaraderie of friends made for a more than wonderful Sunday!

Monday, May 21, 2012


Grilled Salmon--Click for Recipe!

Today, I come to you with a fish recipe! I haven't tried making the recipe myself, but my dad attempted it for the first time last night. Attempted is an understatement, but DOMINATED might be a better description. Since Justin has been in Mississippi, I enjoyed dinner with my parents. I have been eyeing the salmon in the fridge just wondering what would become of it, and last night, I found out. The salmon turned out absolutely wonderful! I just had to know what the marinade was; it was just strong enough to add a rich flavor, but not too much so the taste of the actual salmon was overpowered. The flavor was simply outstanding! I just had to see the recipe. To my surprise, the recipe was very easy, and it used ingredients that can be found on a regular basis in most pantries or kitchen cabinets (possibly with the exception of lemon pepper). This recipe calls for salmon fillets, lemon pepper, garlic powder, salt, soy sauce, brown sugar, water, and vegetable oil. Garlic powder was not used in our recipe, and although I don't know how it would be with it, I can absolutely attest to the recipe without it. Dad even topped the salmon with some grilled onions which was a nice touch. Since we grilled the fish, grilled vegetables were an excellent complement to the meal. A mix of some fresh squash, zucchini, sliced potato, and green beans was enough to complete the dinner plate.

Here is a link to recipe (found on one of my favorite recipe sites!!) or you can click on the picture above.....


Try it out, and let me know how YOURS turned out!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Catherine=1 Dinner=0

Last night was the night...dinner was a BIG success! I went grocery shopping on Tuesday, and I made sure to get everything I needed for this meal. I already had several of the ingredients around the house since a few were pretty regular items. However, I knew the recipe would be too much for only my boyfriend and I, so I cut the recipe in half. Then, to my surprise, I got a call from Justin at work yesterday...

"Hey! I just wanted to let you know that I told Macie and Honey that you were cookin' tonight, and I invited them over to eat with us!"

I was thrilled to have some of our best friends over for dinner, but I was afraid I wasn't going to have enough food for all of us! So, what did I do?  I went home from work at 4:30 and frantically searched for something I could add to the meal (without making another trip to the store). What did I find? Four large Idaho potatoes! I knew I had milk, butter, cheese, bacon, and a little sour cream on hand, so I decided twice baked potatoes would be the perfect addition to my meal. I didn't have time to watch potatoes sit in the oven, so I washed them, poked holes in them with a fork, and placed them in the microwave (14 mins full power did the trick). I then halved the potatoes and scooped out the insides. What is my magic recipe for twice baked potatoes? The more, the better! I don't measure out ingredients for this, I just sort of throw it all in the bowel. Especially, do not be shy with the butter, cheese, and sour cream  (Paula Deen style y'all!). The more of these ingredients you put in, the better the potatoes will be. After mixing everything in with the potato insides, I scoop the mixture generously back into the skins, and whenever I was ready for them, I put them in the oven for about 20 mins at 400ᵒF. The cook time and temp are not critical; since the potatoes have already been cooked, you are essentially just heating them up (my chicken crescent roll casserole needed to be cooked at 350ᵒ for 30 mins, so I put the potatoes in with them and it worked out perfectly). Since I was preparing for a 7:30 dinner, I prepared the potatoes early, covered them, and set them aside in the refrigerator until I was ready for the oven with the casserole. 

Next, I prepared the chicken crescent roll casserole. I followed the directions almost exactly, with the exception of a few things. I did not include the onion, and I did use the optional garlic powder. There is also an option of using mayo or whipping cream, and I used mayo since I had it on hand. The mixture and sauce was very easy to make. The recipe calls for 2 cans of crescent rolls, but I only used 1 since 8 rolls come in a can (I figured 2 would be enough for everybody). This worked out perfectly, because the mix is only enough to fill 8 crescents, and only 8 fit in a pan. The recipe says you can use as much sauce as you like, but since I have never made it before and didn't exactly know what I liked. I just used it all.  I put both the casserole and the potatoes in the oven at 7:00.

Chicken Crescent Roll Casserole--Check out the Recipe!
While the casserole and the potatoes were baking, I heated up some green beans with bacon, and I cut up some fresh pineapple and strawberries. At 7:30, everything (and everybody) was ready to eat! I had the table set up nicely, but the weather was so nice that we took dinner outside to the patio. Everyone really enjoyed the food! They told me the casserole recipe is definitely a keeper! I think the next time I make it, I will leave out the garlic powder; I think it was a little overpowering and slightly masked the rest of the flavors in the dish. However, we enjoyed it so much that we all got seconds. I intended on taking a picture of the meal beforehand, but i couldn't take one fast enough before everyone was digging into the deliciousness. Even Justin was really happy with the turnout, and he is the toughest critic I know! I have never heard him say that his meal was flat out good after leaving a restaurant. He is very picky and always finds something to complain about. After this meal, the only thing he didn't like was all the mosquito bites we were getting! He was very pleased, and I was very happy with the turnout. Making new recipes is a little scary to me simply because I don't know how it's going to turn out; just because it has good reviews and is highly recommended doesn't mean that my friends or I will like it. This one turned out just fabulous. I guess it's hard to go wrong with crescent rolls, chicken, and cheese. The taste was wonderful, and the recipe was quite easy to make. I was hoping to have enough leftovers for lunch today, but it was such a hit that "scraps" might be an overstatement for what was left. I will definitely be making this again!

If you missed it the first time, here is a link to the recipe that I used. 
       Chicken Crescent Roll Casserole

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Just a Little Rant

Well, my chicken crescent roll casserole dinner has not been made yet. Sunday, being mother's day, I spent the day with my mom and then had dinner with Justin's mom....so Sunday was out. I was all ready to make dinner yesterday, but Justin "floated the river" with some friends while I worked (at the City Hall where I love my job!)....so yesterday was out unless I wanted to cook for myself. Therefore, tonight's the night, and I plan to blog all about it tomorrow.

Now, onto my rant....
So, apparently the government considers my scholarship money to be "taxable income." I have worked my butt off to earn the scholarships that I have. I have worked so hard that I have earned enough scholarship money to exceed the cost of tuition and fees at my college. So, what happens to the excess? Many colleges and universities don't "stack" scholarships, but my school does, meaning any excess money is given to me in a check. I earned that money, and I believe I have a right to it (and obviously Motlow College agrees). So, what happens to the excess money? Partying, having fun, and doing whatever college kids do, right? WRONG. As a nursing student, I have 12 textbooks for one course, not to mention the cost of textbooks for my other classes. If you don't know how much college textbooks cost these days, you should take a look. I also have to purchase many supplies such as required scrub uniforms and shoes, a stethoscope, a blood pressure cuff, lab coat and goggles, and so on. Our college does not have dorms, so commuting is the only option. You guys have seen gas prices these days, so you can imagine the cost of driving to and from campus every day. Also, the food I eat on a daily basis is a factor, especially when a salad costs more than a cheeseburger and fries these days. All of these things get paid for with my excess scholarship money. Yes, the money does not go directly to pay for my classes, but it does, however, indirectly fund my education.    
So....what am I ranting about exactly? Well, I was quite shocked when tax time came around this year. I received something in the mail which I expected to be my return (yay!!).....except it wasn't a return at all. It was a letter informing me that I OWE just short of $400. Let me get this straight, did I just PAY for my SCHOLARSHIPS? That just sounds silly, does it not? I think so anyways. $400 is a great amount of money for a college student! I take great pride in putting myself through college. Being the youngest of 5 children, 2 of which went to private colleges, 2 of which are attending big universities, I am very proud to say that my parents have not paid a cent out of pocket for my college education. My parents raised me to be a self-supportive independent woman, and if the government is going to make me pay for that, then so be it. I guess I don't really have a choice! Anyways, that's enough ranting for one day.

Although I am now $400 poorer, ranting has made me feel slightly better.
Hooray for therapeutic blogging ;)

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Time to win a bet!

 My boyfriend Justin is natural gas pipeline welder (aka a "pipeliner"). He goes where the job is. He is sometimes gone for several months at a time, always hundreds of miles away (at least). Whenever he comes home after a job is done, we like to just enjoy each other's time and company. So, what does that mean? Nobody cooks! We always go out to eat with each other and often our friends too. However, I love to cook. I said I love to cook, whether I'm good or not is in the mouth of the beholder. I love browsing through Pinterest, although I do not have an account because it will automatically upgrade my Facebook to "timeline" (GOD FORBID!!). Anyways, I always see the most delicious looking recipes, and I am always telling Justin about what amazing recipe I have come across on any given day. Well, yesterday I guess he decided enough is enough. "You always tell me about these awesome looking recipes that you want to try, but I haven't seen you cook a single one of them!" Ok babe, you got me. Enough is enough. I decided it is time to venture into the kitchen to make my best attempt at some of these scrumptious looking edibles. So, what happened next? I bet him that I will successfully make dinner 3 nights in a row. What is considered successful you might ask? No "boxed" dinners. No instant microwavable frozen items. That means no Stouffer's lasagna, no frozen chicken strips, no shells and cheese, and absolutely no hamburger helper. Yes folks, I actually have to COOK things, not just heat some stuff up and call it a meal. What do I get if I win the bet? I haven't quite decided. What if I lose? I don't even want to know, there is no telling. I'll let y'all know what is decided. Anywho, the bet is on. I'm ready. Bring it on. First up to bat? Chicken Crescent Roll Casserole, green beans, and fruit salad.

Here is a link to the recipe I am using with a picture of what it should look like.
I will follow up with how it turned out! Wish me luck!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Just Getting Started...

Hey y'all! This is the first post of many posts to come. I'm new to the whole blogging world, but as a 20-year-old, I think it's a great way to give the world a little peak into this southern girl's everyday life. So, I'll start out with a little bit of an intro to who I am and where I come from. I was born and raised in a very small town where I still live today. I am about to begin my third year of college, and in one year's time, I hope to have that big fat RN behind my name. Above all else, my family and friends mean the world to me. I come from a big family as I am the youngest of five children with the most amazing mom and dad. So, what got me interested in blogging? Well, there are many reasons that I hope to show you along the way. I plan to post about many different things, some of which include new recipes I have tried (and how they turned out), what really goes on in the life of a 20-year-old southern college girl, the struggles and triumphs of everyday life, and much much more. 

I hope you enjoy, and welcome to my world!