Friday Favorites.

Today marks the start of my four-day weekend.  And it couldn’t come at a better time.  So enjoy my Friday Favorites that are totally “fall-inspired” because I’m finally in the mood for fall while I’m off enjoying some time away from reality with Big Guy.

Favorite Polish:  OPI Chick Flick Cherry.  The color of my nails always follow the seasons.  In the fall, I love rich, dark hues.  This classic color is a keeper for Fall and Winter.


Favorite Flavors:  Spicy Fennel, Orange and Garlic Marinated Olives.  These small bites would be the perfect bite for any cocktail hour.  They’re fancy without being fussy.


Favorite Reminder:  I needed to remind myself of this today.  And every day.


Favorite Slice:  Butternut Squash Pizza with Cider Caramelized Onions and Bacon.  You can totally eat pizza any day and any month of the year.  But this pizza is a total fall pizza.  And I need it.  Like now.


Favorite Spread:  Who wants to come to a Cheese and Charcuterie Party?  My favorite dinners consist of cheese, crackers and a good quality meat that are eaten over the course of hour(s) with wine.


Favorite Devour:  Bacon Cinnamon Rolls.  Are you surprised?


Favorite Upgrade:  I told y’all the decorating bug has bitten me.

Favorite Stuffed:  Pepper Jack Stuffed Pretzel Bites.  Just this week Big Guy asked if we could make homemade pretzels.  I’m not sure if I gave him a solid answer.  But I am now.  And the answer is yes.


Favorite Tipsy:  Autumn Punch. Random:  My Dad has something against the word “punch” when referring to a party drink.  I don’t get it.  So we need rename this “Autumn Sipper” so he doesn’t turn his nose up to the idea.

Cheers to Friday!

Broccoli-Quinoa Casserole with Chicken and Cheddar

Just because Big Guy eats pretty much anything and everything I cook doesn’t mean that everything is his favorite.  But I had a feeling that a Broccoli-Quinoa Casserole with Chicken and Cheddar would be a new favorite.

It’s a known fact that he’s a lover of all things beef and pork but he also loves broccoli and cheese.  And this casserole is a twist on the old school chicken and rice casserole that we all grew up eating.

In fact, one bite in and he proclaims, “It tastes JUST like chicken and broccoli casserole.”

In the traditional casserole, rice is the base of the creamy dish.  I’m sure a can of cream of something provided the iconic texture that we think of when we hear chicken and broccoli casserole.

And even though this modern-take on a classic is “healthier” the comfort of the casserole still remains.

I had time the day before I was cooking this dish to prep some of the ingredients which made the preparation so much easier.  I also think you could use shredded rotisserie chicken to cut down the cooking/prep time even more.  Or, leave out the chicken all together if you are a vegetarian.  I only made one change to the recipe and that was to use 1 1/2 tablespoons of cornstarch instead of the flour.  Other than that – this recipe was followed exactly.

One look at the bubbly cheese on top and I knew that this recipe would be a repeat recipe.

And that rarely happens.


{Virtual} Coffee Chat

{via pinterest}

If we were having coffee this morning…I would tell you that I’m still craving homemade cinnamon buns.  I’ve featured them on the past two Friday Favorites plus there is one in the picture above.  And after making a homemade pizza crust with yeast that required some time, I’m feeling confident in my cinnamon bun-making abilities.

If we were having coffee this morning…I would tell you that I saw the lunar eclipse this morning at 6:25 am with Big Guy.  It was “happening” at the same time I got home from the gym.  And I have to be honest, it’s so anti-climatic.

If we were having coffee this morning…I would be wearing my new favorite lip gloss, YSL Gloss in #15.  I found the color a little too bright at first, but then I learned to apply it with my finger and it’s much more tame.

If we were having coffee this morning…I would also be wearing my new favorite pants.  They’re my favorite because I can wear them practically anywhere and everywhere and I can throw on flats or wedges with these gems.  Best.pants.ever.

If we were having coffee this morning…I would let you know that not every recipe I try turns out great.  I had high hopes for a vegetarian dish on Monday and while the components were all delicious on their own, I wasn’t impressed with how the dish came together.  But last night’s dinner was fantastic.  And you’ll hear more about that tomorrow.

If we were having coffee this morning…You might sense some tiredness in my voice.  The past week and a half have been incredibly “trying” at work and I typically don’t let work stress me out.  Thank goodness for Wednesday morning Pilates.

If we were having coffee this morning…I would share this list of 35 life lessons.  It’s SO spot on.

If we were having coffee this morning…I’m sure the topic of ECU football would come up.  How ’bout them Pirates?  We had a fabulous time this past weekend with Marlo and Garrett but I can’t believe our next tailgate isn’t for another month!

If we were having coffee this morning…We’d chat about the upcoming weekend and about how a break from reality is what I need right this moment.  Big Guy and I have a 4-day weekend coming up and it couldn’t come at a better time.  While my weekends are always full of fun, they’re sometimes exhausting.  This weekend it’s just me and him.  And I couldn’t be more excited.

Now it’s your turn….What would you tell me if we were having coffee this morning?

Cast Iron Skillet Pizza

Good morning!  I hope you all had a lovely weekend.  I can’t believe how chilly it was this morning when I headed to the gym.  I don’t think we’ve seen the 40s in 5 months.  Brrrrr….

But yesterday was not only gorgeous but it was the perfect day to visit the pumpkin patch.

We picked out several pumpkins and one perfect pumpkin that will be carved later this month.

Post-pumpkin patch, we prepped the dough and sauce for pizza.  A pizza and movie night was on tap.  It’s been quite a while since we made homemade pizza so I was pretty excited about dinner.

We used a crust recipe from How Sweet It Is and tried making the pizza in a cast iron.  And it worked perfectly.

But back to the crust…


It’s a fairly simple crust (not gluten-free) that uses a combination of all=purpose flour and white whole wheat flour.  If you make this crust, give yourself some time – it need an hour and a half to rest before baking.

In addition to the crust, we also made a homemade sauce.  Super simple but incredibly fresh tasting.  You won’t want jarred sauce again.

The sauce is a simple mix of peeled, whole canned tomatoes, olive oil, basil, salt and pepper.

Once the pizza had risen, I worked on prepping the toppings:  mushrooms, onions and pepperoni.  I sauteed both the onions and mushrooms in a mix of olive oil and butter.  The crust cooks super fast in the cast iron so you need to have the ingredients that you want cooked already cooked.  For the cheese, a combination of fresh mozzarella and goat gouda.


And I’ve learned that pizza is only made better with a nice glass of red wine on the side.



Spiced Autumn Crostini

I told you I was obsessed with this cookbook.  

And this is the perfect appetizer for fall.  In fact, I’m pretty sure this is what fall tastes like.

Crunchy crostini is topped with a sweet pumpkin-mascarpone spread that is spiced with nutmeg before being sprinkled with fried sage and spicy pecans.

Each bite was perfection.

A little sweetness, a little spice, and a lot of fall.  It’s such a lovely combination of flavors.

If I were to make these again, I think I would try using goat cheese instead of mascarpone for a little more tanginess.

And I loved my switch of using pecans instead of hazelnuts.  Pecans are just “so fall” to me.

But seriously, I’m probably going to make a recipe or three from her cookbook again this weekend.  Because I just can’t help myself.

And if you come over for “appy” hour anytime in the next three months, I’ll probably serve you a plate of these nuggets.



Eating / Everything in moderation.  I’ve brought gluten back into my life.  But not daily.  And sometimes not even weekly.  But nothing is off limits when it comes to me and my gastronomy.

Drinking / Red Wine.  The most fun part – Big Guy is loving my new found love for red wine because now we can share a bottle and talk about the wine together.

Practicing / Pilates.  When I first started taking a Pilates class once a week several years ago I didn’t understand the point.  It was too slow and I didn’t sweat.  But fast-forward four years and now I crave Pilates.  In fact, I wish I could incorporate it into my routine more.  It’s helped me with slowing down and stopping my mind.  And that takes a lot of practice.

Mastering / The Art of Tailgating.  And I’m serious.  We have it down to a science now.

Learning / More about red wine.  Especially the notes on the nose.  I’m even keeping track in a journal.  See, it’s more than just drinking…

Trying / To spend as much time with my girlfriends as possible.

Playing / sweet potatoes.  Random, yes.  But I now have pounds upon pounds of sweet potatoes curing and I’m trying to figure out how I’m going to use them all.  I have recipes galore in mind.

Finishing / The tomatoes.  I have eaten tomatoes until I can’t eat them any longer.

Reading / French Kids Eat Everything.  And I cannot wait to do a review on this book.

Remembering / That my passion in life will never lead me in the wrong direction.

Wearing / A smile.  Because I am so ridiculously blessed.

Cooking /  All.the.things. from Jessica’s blog and cookbook, Seriously Delish.

Working / Only after coffee.

Traveling / Around the world.  That was the theme of our last Supper Club in September and it was such a delicious menu.

Wanting / To see my family.  It’s tough not seeing my family every few weeks.  But that makes the “reunions” even more fun and special.


Red Wine and Goat Cheese Risotto with Caramelized Mushrooms

One of my least favorite things that come with Fall and Winter is the lack of natural sunlight come dinner time.

Seriously annoying.  Especially when the dish is absolutely beautiful and all I want to do is give credit to the recipe creator.

The Red Wine and Goat Cheese Risotto with Caramelized Mushrooms has been on my “to make” list since 2011.

And let’s just say I’m already trying to plan when I can make it again.

Because it’s that delicious.

Creamy yet tangy.

Rich on the tongue but not overly heavy.

And the dish comes together relatively easy.

You just need a little patience.  And some red wine.


I am sure you could use white wine instead of red but who wouldn’t want pink risotto?

I used a Pinot Noir that was perfectly sweet and didn’t over power the goat cheese.

And any one who says that don’t like mushrooms hasn’t had them caramelized in a combination of butter and olive oil.  Because I could seriously have eaten just a bowl of those tender, meaty mushrooms.

You may even be tempted to eat the leftovers for breakfast.

And that can be your little secret if you give in to your temptation.

So I apologize for the not-so-pretty picture.

But I’m blaming the season change on this one.