Monday, January 17, 2011

Smoky Mountains

The first week of winter break was spent relaxing in the Smoky Mountains with Mike's fam.  They rented a ridiculously awesome place complete with three master suites, pool table game room, and FIVE fireplaces.  It was so great to spend time with everyone.  I, of course, failed to take many pictures but I'll share the few that we have. 

The first morning we woke up and celebrated Christmas!  We got lots of awesome goodies :)

opening my Dell mini!
The next day, we went to Ober Gatlinburg for some skiing!  The weather was awesome and we all had a great time.
the boys
Unfortunately, early in the afternoon the crowds got a little more crazy and I was hit by an out-of-control snowboarder.  I laid in the snow crying for a long time before finally struggling down the mountain.  The back pain that resulted was about the worst pain I've ever felt in my life.  The only doctor in Gatlinburg determined that the result of my problems were caused by my ribs and I probably wouldn't die. Pain meds allowed me to function somewhat but I still spent a lot of time in this position:

Luckily, we played lots of games at the house and still had lots of fun.

Our last day, we went to Ripley's Aquarium.  We'd been on our trip in 2004 and knew it was awesome.

sea horse

leaf dragon... these are so awesome
If you know me, you probably know my obsession with penguins so I was super excited to check out their new penguin habitat.  We spent a lot of time watching the crazies swimming around and loved laughing at their unique names.  They would come up to the glass and look at you- so cool!

We had such a great time in Gatlinburg and look forward to many family vacations there in the future at the newly acquired cabin!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Crock Pot Chicken Tacos

On cold or rainy days, I find crock pot meals to be extra warm and satisfying.  Wanting some sort of tacos, I decided to combine a couple of our normal taco ingredients in the crock pot and see how it turned out.  We both loved the result so I thought I'd share in case you love easy Mexican food as much as we do!

Add all of the ingredients to crock pot.  Stir to combine. 

Place chicken breasts on top.
Cover and cook on low 8 hours.

30 minutes before serving, remove chicken breasts and shred.  Stir chicken back into mix.

Serve on warm tortillas with cheese, lettuce, sour cream, etc.
The snow caused the store to only have cheddar cheese.  Not my beloved monterey jack, but still good.             

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Garth Recap

After finishing my last final of the semester, I hurried to the airport to pick up two of my bests for the weekend we'd been waiting for.  Seeing Garth Brooks live was far better than I ever could have hoped (and my expectations were high)!  He sang all his best songs with the enthusiasm you'd expect and the incredible voice everyone loves.  I think I'd happily have gone to every one of his 9 shows that week if I'd been in town.

they so neglected to tell me about their plaid shirt plan.  fail.

every place had a sign for Garth

We also packed a few more fun adventures into our weekend including Honky Tonking, baking a ridiculous number of Christmas goodies, visiting Bluebird Cafe and the Opry Hotel, and ordering a drink (actually, I go for the donuts) from one of the Top 10 Best New Cocktail Bars: Patterson House.  As always, my time with these two was way too fun and way too short.  Picture recap:

patterson house

patterson house.

lights at the Opry

Opry Poinsettia trees

Snow Day #4

We arrived back in Nashville late Sunday from our third (and final) winter break vacay to a very snowy and slippery drive home.  Considering that today is Thursday and it is STILL snowing, I'm assuming we're setting some sort of record for this area.  I unfortunately spent a few days this week cooped up with the stomach flu.  Yesterday, I ventured out a few hours for the first day of classes but quickly made my way back to the couch.  I actually made it to the gym this morning for my normal Body Pump class.  I'm hoping my weakness was due to my flu recovery and not my 3+ weeks away (probably wishful thinking).  I'm happy to be getting back into a normal routine now that all the holidays are over.  Hopefully my family will share their pictures from our trips with me so I can do a couple vacation recaps!  Here's the adorable snowman Hubs and I built.  It was far more challenging than us Floridians expected. 
asparagus nose.

Sunday, January 2, 2011


A few months back, on a brief overnight stay in Gainesville, my Mom fixed an amazing quiche that was so good I couldn't wait to recreate it.  We have since made quite a few of these breakfast dishes, often with slight variations.  Here is the original recipe: 

Ham and Potato Quiche
1 box Pillsbury pie crust-softened as directed on package
1 cup frozen southern-style diced hashbrown potatoes- thawed
1.5 cup fresh asparagus cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 cup chopped ham (I used deli ham- the original recipe called for Canadian bacon)
1.5 cups (6 oz) Havarti cheese- shredded
4 eggs
1 cup milk
1/3 tsp salt

1- Heat oven to 375 degrees. Place pie crust in 9 inch glass pie pan.  Bake 8 minutes.
2- Layer potatoes, asparagus, ham, and cheese in pie crust.
3- Beat eggs, milk, and salt.  Pour mixture over pie ingredients.  Crust will be very full.
4- Bake about 45 minutes or until knife inserted comes out clean.  Remove from oven and let stand 5 minutes before serving. 

My variation: I don't own a pie pan so I purchase a package of 2 frozen pie crusts in the throw away aluminum tins.  I use the same amount of potatoes, asparagus, ham and cheese as the recipe calls for but divide it in half to fill the 2 pies equally.  I then add the egg/milk mixture with enough to fill the crusts to the top.  I believe it usually comes out to about 3 eggs per crust.  Also, I often have to fashion a pie crust shield out of aluminum foil to avoid the crust from becoming too brown.  I will soon be investing in a real shield as this is a tricky task! 

Tip: bake them on a baking sheet to avoid egg spillage in your oven

Because my method makes two quiches, I usually put one in a gallon-size Ziploc and freeze it.  When I'm ready to enjoy it, I just warm it in a 300-degree oven until heated through.

We have made variations using onions, broccoli, and bacon and have decided the asparagus is the key!