Friday, November 30, 2012

chocolate caramel cake bites!

oh, the south.  y'all have some ridiculously delicious things.  like caramel.  {reminder: that is care-a-mel, not car-mull.}  

i really really like caramel.  so throw it in a good chocolate cake & you get a ridiculously good & moist chocolate cake.  yummm.  winter in the south at it's finest.

speaking of winter, blakey & i are headed to gatlinburg, tennessee for a weekend of cold weather with friends in a cabin in the great smokeys!

happy friday to you!

love love,

Thursday, November 29, 2012

thankful thursday - thanksgiving!

our philadelphia thanksgiving was absolutely perfect!!  julie & ben & i cooked the day away while blakey actually had on time flights across the country.  huge win for all.  much success in cooking for all dishes planned.  & we actually remember to serve each one {wink wink, mom :)}  little malcolm maintained his adorable status all day.  & one of ben's friends from work joined us for our meal.  so many things for which to be thankful.

{a ruler is a necessary cooking tool.  don't you think?}

as per our annual thanksgiving tradition, we welcomed blakey home with ben & blake's favorite thanksgiving treat - a turkey & turkey shot.  wild turkey bourbon with turkey drippings.  yummm.  {totally lying.  julie & i wont try it.  but they swear it's good.  it's at least manly?}

while julie & i enjoyed a local pumpkin ale, we decided to jazz up the turkey & turkey with spiced whipped cream & sage.  totally thanksgiving now!  apparently it was disgusting.  we'll stick with the turkey & turkey next year.

the first vandaveer thanksgiving meal means ben got to learn how to carve a turkey!  thanks to youtube, he rocked his task...

{well done, benny boo.}

our thanksgiving feast included a delicious turkey, my favorite greenbean casserole, blake's favorite mashed potatoes, julie's favorite mushroom gravy, & ben's favorite butter bread.  

{if you would like any of our recipes, check out our thanksgiving pinterest board!}

{'merica: turkey legs & football}

& dessert!  it wouldn't be thanksgiving without our grandma's pecan pie with our crunchy pecan topping twist.  we added my pumpkin cream cheese bars with a graham cracker crust & spiced whipped cream. yummmmmm.

for as long as i can remember, julie & i have gotten the turkey wishbone.  so we had to continue tradition!  please see the following photo montage:

{what am i going to wish for??}

{ok. go!}

{i win!}

{by a landslide.}

{happy thanksgiving, julie byrd!}

a huge gigantic thank you to the amazing vandaveer family for hosting thanksgiving 2012!!  love you!

{little man enjoyed his fingers for his thanksgiving meal}

happy thanksgiving!!  so many incredible things to be thankful for.

i hope you can think of something for which you are thankful.

love love,

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

fun in philly!

oh my gosh, blakey & i had so much fun in philadelphia with julie byrd & benny boo & mr malcolm!  this was my first time to philly & it certainly lived up to the hype.  big city, much history, so much identity, great food.  & my sister is there!  & my bro-in-law!  & my nephew!  i am already looking forward to going back for more.

{so you are not confused by the lack of malcolm pictures...
mr malcolm will get an entire post to himself.}

wednesday morning, julie & i headed out to do our thanksgiving grocery shopping super early.  as it turns out, grocery stores are not bad places to be the morning before thanksgiving... if you arrive right when they open.  win for us.

{most beautiful pear display i've ever seen.
well done, whole foods folk.}

it would not be a love, the porters' vacay post without me showing you some awesome food we ate.  after our grocery shopping, julie took me to their favorite brunch spot in their neighborhood, green eggs cafe.  i wish i had a picture of their amazing peanut butter & jelly french toast or their tiramisu french toast or smoked lox benedict that we had on our second green eggs cafe breakfast.  or the gigantic red velvet pancakes that really is the size of a cake.  they are all a work of art.  but so was my super delicious apple & vermont cheddar melt with mushroom bisque.  so good.  

you can not go to philly without having a philly cheesesteak.  it's a rule.  & although pat's & geno's are the most famous cheesesteak joints, tony luke's is the best.  & we go for the best.

you also have to know how to order.  good thing we brought ben along to teach us.  "a whiz whit".  that's what you should get.  a philly cheesesteak with cheese whiz {not provolone.  whiz is the way to go.  you can turn up your nose to processed cheese all you want.  but not on a philly cheesesteak.} with peppers & onions.  oh my gosh, yum.

believe it or not, we did take some time out from eating to see philadelphia!  our first stop was the comcast center in center city.  it's the tallest building in philly & home of the "comcast experience", a beautiful 2,000 square foot LED screen that runs shows eighteen hours a day.  this day was the first day of the holiday video.  it was so festive & so fun.  

& at the end, it snowed in the building!  merry christmas time!

next up, LOVE park!  christmas village was up in love park, so we got to walk through the festivities while enjoying some tasty mulled wine.  love christmas time!

{funny fact: the sculpture was much smaller than we imagined it.
& then seeing it in these pictures... it's smaller than it looks!

after walking through beautiful city hall, we went to reading terminal market for some tasty treats!  originally where farmers sold their produce, the market is full of all kinds of vendors from fresh fruits & veggies to fresh meats & seafood to chocolates & candies to jams & amish cookies & so much more.

{delicious cannolis!}

on our night out in the city, we went to this awesome farm to table called the farmers' cabinet.  one side had a beer bar with all sorts of manly reclaimed wood & chalkboard-esque beer signs.  the other side had a snazzy liquor bar with a seriously good beverage menu.  & the back was a fancy little restaurant with a seriously good food menu.  if we lived in philly, we would frequent the farmers' cabinet.

philly, you were so lovely to us.  looking forward to it again soon.

love love,

Monday, November 26, 2012

my family's recipes.

my sister gave us the best housewarming gift when we moved into our new home this summer - framed recipe cards handwritten by my grandmother, mom, & my sister too!  each recipe is my favorite dish from each person.

my grandmother's recipe is one of her famous christmas candies - peanut butter balls.  i can remember eating these bites of delight all through my childhood.  we would be sitting in her living room with all of this adult talk & my grandmother would lean over, ever so quietly, & ask if i wanted a candy.  yes!  of course!  it is the most delicious bite goodness.  & it's hanging on my kitchen wall.

every birthday for as long as i can remember, my mom & i have the same conversation: she asks what i want to eat for my birthday dinner, & every year, the answer is her homemade lasagna!  a couple of years ago, i saw in my baby book that, for my first birthday party, my mom made everyone her lasagna.  it's tradition!  & it is so incredibly good.  the best lasagna in the world.

one of julie & my favorite food memories happened when she was off to college & called me one evening to tell me about the delicious dinner she made for herself.  she loved it & wanted to name it, so she told me all of the ingredients she added to her pasta salad.  in my oh-so-wonderful teen bop bratty voice, i replied "really yucky pasta salad."  & in all of julie's wonderfulness & patience for my bratty self, the name stuck!  we made it all the time when we lived together in college & she was teaching me to cook.  so "really yucky pasta salad" is our favorite recipe.

& now my three favorite recipes from the three most amazing women in my life are hanging in my kitchen bringing me so much joy each day.

love love,

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

chorizo chili!

last year around this time, i made my first batch of "regular" chili ever.  it was quite good, but it was certainly "regular" chili.  & we all know i'm not one to make some "regular" multiple times.  so this year, it's on to chorizo chili!

chorizo chili
inspired from: myrecipes & emily's chorizo chili @ urban.

2 T evoo
2 lb chorizo
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb ground beef
2 large onions
4 stems green onions, plus more for garnish, chopped
3 poblano peppers, broiled, skin removed, & chopped
14 oz diced green chiles
1/4 c cumin
1/4 c paprika
2 T chili powder
1 T oregano
1/2 tsp ground cloves
2 bay leaves
28 oz crushed tomatoes
12 oz mexican beer or beef stock
2 (15 oz) cans corn, drained
2 (15 oz) cans great northern beans, drained
1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained
1 big bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
1 c shredded cheddar cheese, plus more for garnish

1. in a gigantic dutch oven, heat evoo & garlic over medium-high heat.  squeeze chorizo out of casings {discard casings}.  heat chorizo & ground beef until relatively brown.

2. add onions, green onions, peppers, & chills & cook until meat is fully browned & onions are soft, about 10 minutes.  spoon off & discard excess fat.

3. add spices & cook, stirring, until the aroma smells fabulous, about 1 minute.

4. toss in the tomatoes, liquid, corn, & beans.  stir stir stir.  increase heat to high & bring to a boil.  reduce heat down to low, cover, & simmer for as many hours as you have on hand, at least 1 or 2.

5. about 30 minutes before you want to eat, add the cilantro & cheddar.  now taste your chili!  adjust seasonings, as necessary.

6. when you are ready to eat, smile!  it's pretty tasty.  garnish with cheddar & green onions.

& if you want my opinion, serve with your favorite fall beer: sam adams octoberfest, sam adams harvest pumpkin ale, or shock top pumpkin wheat.  yum!!

happy fall!

love love,

Monday, November 19, 2012

o christmas tree!

this weekend, blakey & i put up our christmas tree!  i know i know - it's not even thanksgiving yet.  but please forgive our early holiday cheer, as we will be traveling away the next three weekends.  & it's just so jolly in our home now!

we began our saturday morning with a couple of mimosas, football all day long, & lots & lots of christmas decorations!  our beautiful tree fits quite nicely in our living room.  & i finally have our christmas tree in front of a window to bring christmas cheer to those outside too.

when i said "we" put up our christmas tree, i might have been exaggerating just a bit.  this is much more of what blakey & tanky did while i put the christmas ornaments on the tree.  but blakey did take everything down from the attic, so he gets a little credit :)

our beautiful christmas tree with red & white & silver sparkles all around...

every year, blakey & i get a new christmas ornament.  this tradition began when blakey proposed to me during christmas time with my beautiful ring sparkling from an ornament on our christmas tree.  & it is certainly one of my favorite traditions to continue.

{this year's ornament!}

                          {our engagement ornament}               {our 2nd year engagement ornament}

                               {our first christmas}                                  {last year's christmas}

i love getting to look through all of our christmas ornaments each year that bring some wonderful memories...

                             {on our wedding day}                                            {tanky!}

                       {an advent festival ornament}                               {my barbie bride}

last year we received our first byer's carolers - the medical doctor & the pastry chef.

so a very early merry christmas to you!!

love love,