30 Before 30: Cooking Class

Monday, November 24, 2014 | Stamp in My Passport| , , , | 3 Comments

Monday, November 24, 2014

I checked another item off of my 30 before 30 list this weekend. Taking a cooking class is now complete. And if I'm being honest, it is not going to be the last. If you live in Florida (or Atlanta) you can see if there is a Publix cooking school in your area. If so, I highly recommend attending one. They offer both demonstrations and hands-on classes, depending on whether you want to brush up on your knife skills or eat an entire plated meal complete with wine parings for each course.

I used proper knifes (that weren't bought wrapped in plastic), a mandolin and an emersion blender for the first time. As someone who gets giddy every time she walks into Bed, Bath and Beyond, I was having so much fun.

On the menu were holiday side dishes. If you are looking for the perfect (simple) recipe to bring to a holiday gathering, or if you are still finalizing the menu for your first year hosting Thanksgiving, here are my three favorite recipes of the night. Also on the menu were Creamy Garlic Turnip Mashed Potatoes and Crispy Rosemary Fennel.

The sides were heavy on the starch, butter, bacon fat and garlic. If you are looking to lighten up your meal, then pass these recipes over.

Creamy Three Cheese Truffle Macaroni

Serves 6

2 tlbs. butter
2 large sweet onions, julienned
1/2 pound elbow macaroni
1 tlbs. white truffle oil
5 tlbs. butter or bacon fat
5 tlbs. all-purpose flour
3 cups milk
1/2 tsp. ground annatto
1/8 tsp. turmeric
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded
1 cup Colby Jack cheese, shredded
1/2 cup Havarti cheese, shredded
1 cup breadcrumbs

Preheat oven to 350 F.

In a large skillet, melt butter on medium high heat. Add onions and cook until caramelized to a dark golden color.

Cook macaroni in boiling water for about 10 minutes until tender but still firm. Drain well. Place in large bowl with caramelized onions and a drizzle of truffle oil; mix well and set aside. 

In a deep skillet, melt butter on medium heat. Add flour to make a roux and cook, stirring, to remove any lumps. Pour in milk and cook until mixture is thick and smooth. Season bechamel with salt, pepper, annatto, turmeric. Remove from heat, stir in Cheddar and Colby Jack cheese until melted.

Add pasta and transfer mixture to a 9 x 13-inch baking dish; bake 10-20 minutes. Top with 1/2 cup havarti cheese and and breadcrumbs and bake for an additional 5 minutes until hot and bubbly.

Spaghetti Squash with Brown Butter and Sage

Serves 6

2 large spaghetti squash
1 ounce olive oil
4 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon sage, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 F.

Cut squash in half lengthwise and remove the seeds. Coat squash with olive oil and place, cut side down, on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake 20-25 minutes or until tender. Rest at room temperature until cool enough to handle. 

Scrape cooked squash with a fork out of its skin into a bowl and set aside. In a large saute pan, melt butter on medium-high until the color starts to change to  a slight brown. Add sage and toast for 10 seconds and then add squash. Toss until coated with butter, season with salt and pepper. 

Serve hot.

Zesty Orange Cranberry Relish

Serves 8

1 (8 ox) can mandarin oranges
12 ounce bag cranberries (fresh)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water

Drain oranges and reserve juice. In a medium sauce pan, combine cranberries, sugar, water, and mandarin orange juice. Bring to a boil, add oranges and reduce to a simmer until cranberries pop and oranges break down. Remove from heat, cool and serve. 

All recipes written by the Publix Apron Test Kitchen

Coffee Talk

Saturday, November 22, 2014 | Stamp in My Passport| | Be the first to comment!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Happy weekend before Thanksgiving! Today I'm off to a holiday sides cooking class. Truffle three cheese macaroni is on the menu so it wasn't much of a question of whether or not I'll be there. Don't worry, if it's as good as I imagine it will be, I'll be sharing the recipe in time for you to impress your holiday guests.

I've always wanted a tulle skirt, but I've been waiting for the perfect occasion to buy one. 

Who says coral can only be worn during the spring and summer? I love the bright colored wool coat trend. Not that I'll ever have too many opportunities to wear a wool coat in Florida, but a girl can dream.

In middle school, I participated in an exchange program with a group of students in Colchester. It was so nice to reminisce a little through Samantha's post about her trip there.

Timing is everything when preparing a holiday meal. To tide your guests over when you underestimate the amount of time it takes to cook a turkey, give them these roasted grape and goat cheese crostini to keep the hanger at bay.

Speaking of the holidays...in case you need to make your dollars stretch a little bit farther, here are a few cost-saving tips for gift giving.

Red, green, and plaid all over. I love all of the holiday decor that Danielle shared.

A holiday gift guide for the girl on the go. Deep down in my heart, this is me. (As I type this post from my couch while watching Netflix.)

You've all seen that person. The one taking photos with their iPad. They're at weddings, graduations, concerts and elbowing you in front of the Mona Lisa. Here's 24 reasons you should never take a photo with an iPad. As if you needed more than one.

Image via

Budgeting and Cost Saving Tips for Holiday Gift Giving

Tuesday, November 18, 2014 | Stamp in My Passport| , | 5 Comments

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

It's the time of year that we get to put our love of shopping to good use by focusing on buying gifts for others. Although you won't find me in the crowds of Black Friday elbowing my way to get my hands on the must-have electronic of the year. If you aren't careful, your generosity can exceed your bank account if you aren't careful. Now is the perfect time to sit down and make your list and start hunting down deals.

1. Buy gifts for multiple people at the same store. If the majority of your holiday shopping is going to be online, save the extra shipping costs and shop for multiple people at each store. If places aren't offering free shipping, buying several items will likely push you over the free shipping threshold, which can save a lot over the course of your holiday shopping. 

2. Take advantage of Cyber Monday and other holiday sales. Once you've made a list of everyone you are getting gifts for and have an idea of what you would like to get them, sign up for those stores emails. First, you will get an extra 10-15% off your order for signing up, and this way you will be the first to know when their sales are going on.

3. Get crafty. Handmade gifts are more meaningful than store bought gifts. Bake their favorite dessert, knit a scarf to keep them warm during the all-too-common polar plunges, or paint canvases to decorate the walls of their new home. For some DIY holiday decor inspiration, check out these handmade ornaments and these ideas for non-crafters.

4. Make an effort to keep personal miscellaneous purchases to a minimum in November and December. When it comes to budgeting and saving money, it's time to take a long hard look at those small, but very significant purchases that add up at the end of the month. They take the form of dining out, splurges at Target and daily coffee runs. If you are already on a lean budget, these are the fat that can easily be trimmed for a time to make room for holiday cheer.

5. Ideally, set aside a little money each month of the year. It's too late to put this tip into practice, but keep it in mind for your New Year's Resolution. Setting aside 20-30 dollars each month can add up to $350 by the end of the year and can alleviate financial stress. The main focus of the holidays is spending time with friends and family and ultimately your presence at the gatherings and get togethers is more meaningful than a gift.

What are some of your budgeting tips this time of the year?

Christina from Route Bliss

Are you going home for the holidays or celebrating friendsgiving?

I live in the same town I grew up in, so I'll stay local with my immediate family; my brother currently works in retail, so we'll celebrate at some point that day if he does end up working!

What song/album is on repeat on your ipod?
Right now, T-Swift's "Shake it Off" ... I need happy/peppy make me smile beats right now!

Any places on your travel bucket list?
Oh geez, where isn't on my travel on my travel bucket list?!?! The UK, Iceland, Germany, Australia, and New Zealand are at the top of my international destinations on there; within North America, Yosemite National Park, Big Sur, the Oregon coastline, Olympic National Park, and the national parks in Alberta, Canada.

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What you should be reading: 

Friday Favorites: Christmas Cards

Friday, November 14, 2014 | Stamp in My Passport| , | 6 Comments

Friday, November 14, 2014

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6
Christmas is one of the few times left in the year that everyone remembers how to stuff an envelope, address said envelope and seal it before walking to the end of the driveway to put their bundle of letters to be sent to friends and family near and far. 

Whether you put a photo of your family, your cat or opt for hand lettering, I hope this is a trend that doesn't die down anytime soon. It's the one time of the year that an email, a text, or an e-card simply won't do. 

7 Reasons I Prefer to Travel With Friends

Wednesday, November 12, 2014 | Stamp in My Passport| | 12 Comments

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

I've read a few posts about the joys of traveling alone. How you can learn so much about yourself and the world without the distraction of others. And although I am very much an introvert, the idea of spending a week on my own in a strange place eating dinner on my own or meeting people in the hostel common room does not sound appealing to me. Here's why:

1. Less chance of having to call Liam Neeson to come save you. Even though the girls in Taken traveled in a pair, the logic still stands with the buddy system.

2. You have someone to share the experience with.

3. Once the trip is over, you have someone who will enjoy reminiscing and telling the same stories over and over. Those who weren't there with you don't want to hear the same stories over and over. If they are polite, they will entertain them two or three times, but any more than that, expect eye rolls.

4. You have someone to watch your bags while you go to get food or go to the bathroom in the airport. Coffee lines and bathrooms were not made to navigate with multiple bags.

5. You don't have to constantly ask a stranger to take your photo or strain your arm trying to take a selfie. Although the art of mastering the selfie is a valuable skill these days.

6. If you are a group of four then you can fill an entire room at a hostel and don't have to share it with questionable backpackers.

7. You do not have to make all of the decisions on your own. And by decisions I mean where to eat.

The Season of Giving Thanks

Monday, November 10, 2014 | Stamp in My Passport|| 2 Comments

Monday, November 10, 2014

It's the time of the year when we take time to reflect back on the past months of the year and think about all of the things we are thankful for. So much has happened in the past ten months. I graduated college; I'm thankful for the education and my time at Harding, but not as thankful for the student loans that have become all to real and too common in my life. Harding was more than a place where I went to class and received an education and skills that I can put to use in the "real world." It was a place of growth and lifelong friendships. 

I landed my first real job and moved into my first apartment. After spending four years in college hearing about how the job market is basically nonexistent, finding a job in my chosen field was such a blessing.

I'm thankful friends and family. For texts, unlimited minutes, facetime and direct flights that make it simple to keep in touch.

What are you thankful for this year?

Coffee Talk

Saturday, November 8, 2014 | Stamp in My Passport| | 1 Comment

Saturday, November 8, 2014

After living in a dorm for four years, it is ingrained in my head that candles are not allowed. But now that is not the case anymore and the fall scents are my favorite.

The easiest way to live abroad for a few years is on a student visa. Caity shares her reasons for deciding to study abroad.

Nachos are good. But s'mores apple nachos are even better. And in my mind much healthier. 

You can find Sara's trip to the quirky yet beautiful Isle of Wright here, here and here.

How to use a clipping mask to create custom photo layouts and cool text in Photoshop.