November 28, 2012

Memory Lane


My how things have changed!  As Mike and I were cleaning out our attic a couple of weekends ago he found a box full of old newspapers, certificates and this little gem:  The Rollins College 2000 Volleyball Program.




I started laughing immediately and couldn’t wait to share it with some of my old teammates which are still some of my very best friends.

Well, last night I had the chance.  Our friend and teammate Noelle (Rollins ‘03) aka NoMo was in town and with our friend and teammate Kamrin (Rollins ‘04) we all met up with her (along with our hubbys) for dinner and a walk down memory lane.

We decided to really make our night nostalgic by eating at “Beans” aka The Cornell Campus Center or plainly, the Rollins Cafeteria.  Just walking in it felt like old times!






The food was just as expensive, but really quite good.  We all commented on how easy we once had it.  Nutritious, ready to eat meals on a pre-paid meal card that just got swiped.  No shopping, cooking or cleaning up after meals.  We had no idea how lucky we were!




We all got a chuckle out of the Meal Plan Average Balance card posted on the cash registers…we ALWAYS ran out of money before the end of the semester and had to beg our other teammates to pay for our meals with their remaining balances!




After eating at Beans we headed out and about reminiscing the whole time and laughing hysterically at our ridiculous hair-dos, crushes and stories while in college. 

We stopped by the Olin Library (which was packed) for some coffee, since of course, they just opened a 24 hour café.  They surely didn’t have that when we were there, if so we probably would have studied there instead of Panera or Starbucks! 


Kam and NoMo in the Olin Library Pillow Room – yes it’s still there!



Posing with Ben.



Knowles Memorial Chapel at night – one of my favorite views on campus.


After our library pit stop we headed over to our freshman dorm, Ward Hall.  We waited outside until somebody with an access card came up and then convinced them to let us in.  The dorm was totally renovated a couple of years ago and we wanted to check it out.



Kam even found her old room!

All was well until we got caught by the R.A.…oops.  We were promptly asked to leave the building which we did with a few giggles on the way out.  So funny to be over 30, pregnant and getting kicked out of a college dorm.  Priceless.

Apparently he didn’t know that I still had my R-card (circa 1999).



Our last stop was the Harold and Ted Alfond Sports Center aka “the gym”; where so many of our hours were spent practicing and playing volleyball during our four year stint.




The front desk greeters were much more pleasant than Mr. R.A. (who in all fairness was just doing his job) and loved that we flashed our 2000 Volleyball Program.  They promptly let us in to explore and relive our glory days.



Where the magic happened.  Literally blood, sweat and tears.



Scholarship wall – yeah Kam!



All in all, a great night with great girls.  There is just something about our team and our bond that is second to none.  I wouldn’t trade our Rollins years for anything in the world.  For those of you who couldn’t join us, believe me you were there in spirit!!!

Stick Tars Stick!

November 27, 2012

The It List–Christmas Part 1

With only 28 days of shopping left before Christmas, here are some fun and easy gift ideas to get you in the holiday spirit! 

1.  Mother Lode Weekender TLS Convertible by eBags

Either bought as a gift or a "to me from me" this bag is a great addition to any travel plans.  Mike and I purchased these "packs" for our trip to Europe last year.  They are carry-on size and are comfortable carried as a backpack.  We use ours all the time and I can't imagine traveling without it!

The space saving compartments inside make it easy to get the most bang for your buck. 


2.  Sorel Boots

Winter boots.  I don't have any...yet.  I'm hoping Santa brings some my way this year.  Obviously I don't need them on a day to day basis here in Florida, but they will definitely come in handy for our Wisconsin Christmas plans (my theory is that since we go every other year, these will probably last me the rest of my life)!

Mike has a pair of Sorel boots that his brother got him a couple of Christmases ago and says they are super warm.  The online reviews were also very I have my fingers (and cold toes) crossed!


3.  Family Glassware by Uncommon Goods

As we start our new little family of 3 (only three months away!), I thought these family glassware tumblers were adorable.  They would be perfect for kids when learning to set the table and can be used as place cards to mark each person's special spot.  So cute!



4.  Unique Ornaments by Bronner’s

One tradition that Mike and I have is that we buy an ornament for each other every year, commemorating something that happened over the past 12 months, or any of our interests.  I love looking for unique ornaments that you can't find just anywhere and have had great luck at 

They have anything and everything under the sun when it comes to ornaments; from humpback whales to passports to sushi on a tray.  If you can think it, they probably have it.  Check it out!


5.  Personalized Kitchen Towels by Red Envelope

I have come to realize that if something is personalized, people love it.  I know I do.  These personalized kitchen towels are just the ticket for the foodie in your life.  Red Envelope offers 6 different designs all customizable.  This would be perfect as a hostess gift as well!


November 26, 2012

Menu Monday


Hi everybody and Happy Monday – I sure have missed you all!

I took a bit of a hiatus over the Thanksgiving break, but am back.  We had a low-key, relaxing couple of days and actually got a few things checked off of our to-do lists…we have quite a few these days!




We spent Thanksgiving at my mom’s house on the river and ate lots of DELICIOUS food.



See, I told you.


Our Thanksgiving menu consisted of:

  • Turkey
  • Dressing
  • Gravy
  • Sweet Potato Casserole
  • Italian Green Beans
  • Mashed Potatoes
  • Lime Jello Salad
  • Cranberry Relish
  • Wheat and Rosemary Rolls
  • Pumpkin and Apple Pie
  • Wine and Shocktop Pumpkin Wheat




Mike had three plates full and dessert.  That boy does love to eat!  After dinner there was lots of football.  Played and watched for the rest of the night.




We went to bed a little early Thanksgiving night with the hopes of heading to Jacksonville for some Black Friday shopping.  We had a 3:30 am wake up call so we were on the road by 4am to head to the St. John’s Town Center for a Babies R Us trip.  On our buying agenda:  a baby monitor and crib mattress both half price.




I thought the Town Center would be packed…but it was completely the opposite!  We arrived at 5am and there was plenty of parking, no lines and friendly faces.  I was so surprised!

After purchasing our items with no problems, we headed to Panera for a quick bite before continuing on to some other stores on our list.




The weather was chilly and the Town Center had their Christmas lights up and Holiday music playing.  I loved the vibe – it definitely helped put me into the Christmas spirit!




After finishing up at the Town Center, we headed back towards my mom’s house but decided to make a pit stop in St. Augustine for a bit more shopping and a real breakfast/brunch.

We used our Trip Advisor and Urban Spoon apps to find a local favorite and they definitely pointed us in the right direction.  We stopped at Leroy’s Café for some grub.  Although considered “not your average hole in the wall”, this small restaurant definitely packed a big punch.  After a short wait, the service was fast and friendly and the food was delish…especially the home fries. I would definitely recommend it if you are in the St. Augustine area!




We spent the rest of the weekend finishing up some nursery projects, putting up our Christmas tree and outside lights and enjoying a yummy dinner with our friends Ryan and Jill while watching college football…and can I just say GOOOOO GATORS Smile!!!  I was definitely a happy camper after watching them beat Florida State…it doesn’t get any sweeter than that!


As for this week, I’m so excited!  Our college buddy Noelle will be in town with her hubby and I can’t wait to catch up over a bite to eat. 


Here’s our menu plan:


M:  Meatball sliders w/ Carrots and Ranch

T:  Dinner with Nomo!

W:  Cheesy Broccoli and Ham Noodle Casserole*

Th:  Girls Night!

F:  Taco Salad

Sa:  Sweet and Sour Chicken w/ Fried Rice

Su:  Pesto Stuffed Pork Tenderloin w/ Tomato Chutney and Orzo


Have a great week!

November 20, 2012

A Twist


If you like stuffed shells and Mexican food you’ll definitely love this hybrid recipe.  It’s a twist on traditional stuffed shells, but got rave reviews from our household!  This is an easy and crowd pleasing meal to mix into your weekly menu plan.




Here’s how:


Mexican Stuffed Shells

Print this recipe!

1 lb. ground sirloin
1 package low-sodium taco seasoning
4 oz. cream cheese
14-16 jumbo pasta shells
1.5 cup salsa
1 cup taco sauce (I use the jarred Taco Bell Mild version)     
1 cup cheddar cheese
1 cup colby jack cheese

Toppings (if desired):

  • green onions
  • sour cream
  • black olives
  • crushed Tostitos


Preheat oven to 350°.

In a frying pan cook ground beef; add taco seasoning and prepare according to package directions.  Add cream cheese, cover and simmer until cheese is melted. Blend well. Set aside and cool completely.  While ground beef is cooking, cook the pasta shells according to directions; drain. Set shells out individually on cutting board/baking sheet so that they don’t stick together.

Spray baking dish with non-stick spray and pour salsa on bottom of 9×13 baking dish.  Stuff each shell with the meat mixture. Place shells in 9×13 pan open side up. Cover shells with taco sauce.  Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, add shredded cheese and bake for 10-15 more minutes, with the foil removed.  Top with any condiments you’d like (green onions, black olives, etc.) Serve with sour cream and/or more salsa.




November 19, 2012

Menu Monday

Why is it that I feel like our busiest weekends are the weekends in which we don't have any plans!  We were all over the place this weekend and had a blast visiting with all sorts of friends.


We started our Saturday off in Winter Park for the 3rd Annual  Winter Park Harvest FestivalOur friend John is the founder of this all local event that has been so successful over the past couple of years.  He is also the brains behind the new East End Market which is coming soon to the Audubon Park district of Orlando.


According to the website:

East End Market is a proposed two-story community and small business incubator in the Audubon Park Garden District at 3201 Corrine Drive. The goal of the project is to create a venue for enterprising food entrepreneurs, tradespeople, chefs and creatives. Additionally the project seeks to provide a setting for community enrichment and neighborhood events.

The First Floor will be host to small, independently owned food enterprises, from butchers to coffee roasters! Contiguous to the market will be an incubator kitchen and farm-fresh lunch/dinner restaurant. The Second Floor will offer a large event space, catering/demonstration kitchen, offices and/or small retail shops. Outdoors will be landscaped with edible and Florida friendly varietals with a market garden installed along Corrine Dr.
We are so proud of him and can't wait to celebrate the official opening sometime next year.


The Harvest Festival, held on Central Park's West Meadow, was very busy.  The weather was beautiful and the laid back vibe was refreshing.  Everything just felt so relaxed...I loved it!



With food, beer and local vendors discussing everything from organic honey to vegan desserts the tents were packed.

Many elementary school "grow boxes" were also on display...I think I have to get with John and see how we can bring these to my school!



There were even fresh produce stands and hydroponic lettuce growing along with cooking, gardening and health demonstrations throughout the day.



On our way out we stopped by the Edible Orlando tents to see our friend Katie.  She is the editor of the Edible Orlando Magazine and one of the authors of a new cookbook!


Field to Feast: Recipes Celebrating Florida Farmers, Chefs and Artisans is an amazing collection of recipes using local (Florida grown) ingredients.  Katie and her cohorts traveled around Florida to visit the best Florida Farms and share stories of local flavor.  The photography is beautiful and the book design is on point (way to go Jason!).  I was so excited to buy my signed copy and can't wait to try some of the recipes.  They were all tested out in "real" kitchens and seem to be very user friendly.

To get your copy click here!


After finishing up at the Harvest Festival we made our way over to visit my friend Leigh (visiting from NC) and her two precious boys along with the rest of her family (who are all like my second family).  It was so good to see them and catch up for a bit before they made their way to Sarasota for their final destination. 

A bit later, Mike and I found ourselves at our friends Jenny and Jeremy's house hanging out, watching football and getting ready to hit the new (to Orlando) restaurant; Rocco's Tacos.  We have visited the one in Ft. Lauderdale for our friend Jill's bachelorette party a while ago, but were interested to see the Orlando version.  All I can say is that Rocco is a genius.  The place was hoppin' and the view was beautiful.  It was a great night - but reservations are definitely recommended!

Our weekend ended with a Packer watching party with our friends Rick and Chrissey (and company).  Luckily the Packers pulled out a victory and all was right with the world (at least in our household)!

With only two days of work this week I can't wait for Thanksgiving festivities to start; followed by non-stop Christmas favorite!

Here's our menu plan - what are you eating this week?

M:  Pesto Chicken Pizza
T:  Grilled Steak w/ Hasselback Potatoes and Chopped Salad
W:  Palatka
Th:  Happy Thanksgiving!
F:  Brinner:  Bacon, Egg and Cheese Biscuits w/ Fresh Fruit
Sa:  Chicken Fajitas
Su:  Baked Spaghetti

November 17, 2012

Cherry Pie Bars


When Mike mentioned that he was having a Thanksgiving pot luck at his work and that he had volunteered me to contribute a dessert, I was pretty excited.

I love using those opportunities to try out new recipes!  Although I like cherry flavor, I’m not a huge cherry fan.  But when I saw this recipe on Pinterest, these Cherry Pie Bars looked delicious.  I tweaked a few ingredients and I think they turned out great – let’s just say that Mike didn’t bring any back home!



Sorry for the paper plate – Mike didn’t want to have to worry about collecting a “cute” dish at the end of the potluck!




Have a great Saturday!

Cherry Pie Bars

Print this recipe!

1 cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 (21 ounce) cherry pie filling 2 if you like cherries (highly recommend)

1 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2 T milk

1. Cream together butter and sugar.  Add eggs and beat well.  Beat in extract.
2. In a separate bowl combine flour and salt.  Add to the creamed mixture.  Mix until combined.
3. Spread 3 cups batter in a 15x10x1 (Also works with 9x13- baking time will at least be 40-45 minutes)  Spread with pie filling.  Drop remaining batter on top of pie filling.
4. Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes or longer with a smaller pan, or until toothpick comes clean.  Cool on wire rack.  Combine glaze ingredients and drizzle over the bars.

*I used non-stick spray before putting down the crust, but I actually think it made it harder to spread the batter…there is enough butter that I don’t think it’s needed (and wasn’t called for in the original recipe).







I even had a few leftover to take to my co-workers (they got prettier packaging!)

November 15, 2012

Sweet and Salty


Hi everybody!  I have the perfect sweet and salty treat for the holiday season (and yes, I found it on Pinterest!).  This concoction of pretzels, cinnamon, sugar and white chocolate is great for gift giving or party snacking.





White Chocolate Cinnamon Pretzels

Print this recipe!


  • 1 bag of pretzels (16-18 oz)
  • 2/3 cup oil
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup cinnamon sugar for sprinkling
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips


1.     Whisk together oil, sugar, and cinnamon.

2.    Pour pretzels into a microwave safe bowl and pour oil mixture in.  Stir until coated.

3.    Microwave for 1 minute, remove and stir.  Microwave 45 seconds more.

4.    Spread pretzels evenly onto two cookie sheets covered in parchment paper.

5.    While still warm, sprinkle cinnamon sugar generously.

6.   Melt white chocolate (on low heat, be careful not to burn) and drizzle over cooled pretzels.

7.    Store in an airtight container.


Although I changed this just a smidge, the original recipe is from Your Cup of Cake.

November 13, 2012



Growing up I wasn’t a big fan of Greek food.  I hadn’t experienced it much until my adult years when I went to Opa Taverna for the first time with our friends.  Not only was the atmosphere, the food was delish!

Since then Mike and I have been to many Greek restaurants (chain and the mom&pop variety) and have never been disappointed. 

One of my favorite “condiments” when it comes to Greek food is Tzatziki, which surprises me since I am not a big cucumber fan AT ALL.  But for some reason, the combination of flavors in this concoction is delectable!


According to Wikipedia:

Tzatziki is a Greek and Turkish meze or appetizer, also used as a sauce for souvlaki and gyros. Tzatziki is made of strained yoghurt (usually from sheep or goat milk) mixed with cucumbers, garlic, salt, olive oil, and sometimes lemon juice, and dill or mint or parsley. Tzatziki is always served cold. While in Greece and Turkey the dish is usually served as an accompaniment, in other places tzatziki is often served with bread (loaf or pita) as part of the first course of a meal.

After having Chicken Souvlaki while we were visiting Tarpon Springs a couple of weekends ago I became inspired to try to make it.  I searched quite a few recipes and found one to try.  I was pleasantly surprised at how 1) easy it was and 2)how authentic it tasted.  Ladies and gentlemen – we have a winner!




Cool and creamy, this tangy cucumber dip flavored with garlic is the perfect compliment to grilled meats and vegetables.


Eazy Tzatziki

Print this recipe!


  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. vinegar (I used white wine vinegar)
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt, strained
  • 1 cup reduced fat sour cream
  • 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, sliced and diced
  • 1 tsp. chopped fresh dill

Combine olive oil, vinegar, garlic, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Mix until well combined. Using a whisk, blend the yogurt with the sour cream. Add the olive oil mixture to the yogurt mixture and mix well. Finally, add the cucumber and chopped fresh dill. Chill for at least two hours before serving (the longer it sits, the better it gets).



  • Straining the yogurt may seem like a pain, but it is worth it to get a thick consistency.  I just put a mesh sieve over a bowl and let it sit in the refrigerator for about 2 hours.  You’ll be amazed at how much water comes out of already thick yogurt!
  • The original recipe called for peeled, seeded and diced cucumbers, but since they aren’t my favorite and I don’t like big chunks in my Tzatziki, I used a handheld mandolin to slice them very thinly before dicing.  I could taste the flavor but wasn’t overwhelmed with big chunks.
  • Cucumbers are also very watery.  Before combining them with the sauce, dab with a paper towel.


Inspiration meal:

  Chicken Souvlaki*

Hellas Restaurant, Tarpon Springs

*Marinated grilled chicken served on pita with tzatziki, onions and tomatoes (as you can see I nixed the last two ingredients).



Homemade Version:

Pros:  The chicken and tzatziki were a dead ringer to the original dish.  I was so excited!

Cons:  Instead of whole wheat pita I would probably use Naan next time.  I grilled the pita and (as you can see) ended up a bit stiff and broke apart, but still yummy. I also forgot the tomatoes and onions for Mike’s version…oops!




Happy eating!