Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween!

The pumpkins have been carved, care packages were delivered, the candy is gone, Hocus Pocus is on AND I found an excuse to pull out my pointe shoes and run around in a tutu all night! (because every girl needs a good twirl every now and again) We were out of town last year on Halloween so we were excited to welcome the trick or treaters this year with open arms and handfuls of candy. I think all of the little girls got a kick out of my Nina Ballerina attire. Did you see our costumes from Saturday night!? We had the most spooktacular time.

Happy Halloween to all and to all a good night!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

The Cupcake and The Baker

I dressed up as a picnic table in fourth grade, which has always been my #1 favorite. But I think this year takes the cake! (with a cherry on top)

Halloween is not just for kids.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Pinnable Me: Trick-or-Treat!

Happy Halloween Weekend! Halloween was a huge deal for us as kids and each year, we outdid the costumes from the previous year. The creativity bar was definitely set as high as possible. If only pictures were digital back then and I could whip up a little collage. My sisters and I were quite a sight! We ate chili for dinner, got dressed in our costumes and my dad would take my sisters and I trick-or-treating while my mom stayed home and passed out candy to the rest of the little neighborhood goblins running around.

I intend on making Halloween as fun as possible for our future children and while they won't be making an appearance ANY TIME SOON, my planner mind is always on creative brainstorm mode. These costumes I found on Pinterest are pretty stinkin' adorable! When it comes time to dress the future Mini Moores for trick-or-treating fun, they will be the cutest ones on the block!

Source: via Nina on Pinterest

Source: via Nina on Pinterest

Source: via Nina on Pinterest

Source: via Nina on Pinterest

Source: None via Nina on Pinterest

Link up your Pinnable Me posts over at Paw Prints and Pastry Bags. Happy Halloweekend!!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Pumpkin Pie Protein Smoothie

Protein smoothies have become a staple in my daily routine. I typically workout in the mornings before I have eaten anything and by the time I am a sweaty mess, an icy cold smoothie is the perfect thing to sip on as I recover and recharge for the day ahead.

Bananas and peanut butter usually make their way into my smoothie but every now and again, I get a little creative and add something extra. Since I am a pumpkin- flavored- anything- loving freak, I decided this might be a good addition. You all know how much I love seasonal goodness! It was love at first sip and I'm not turning back. It's like drinking dessert for breakfast. Oops!

Pumpkin is often referred to as a "Super Food", giving this smoothie even more healthy benefits. It has tons of Vitamin A, antioxidants and Beta Carotene. Healthy AND dessert worthy? A winning combo on both ends of the spectrum. It's pretty spooktacular!

Pumpkin Pie Protein Smoothie
(1 serving)

1 scoop vanilla protein powder (we buy EAS- it's very low in sugar and has 23 grams of protein per scoop!
1/2 banana
1 Tbsp. natural peanut butter or almond butter
1/4 cup canned all natural pumpkin
1 cup unsweetened almond milk or skim milk
1/4 tsp. pumpkin pie spice (or as much as your pumpkin loving heart desires)
5-6 ice cubes

Mix this all up in a blender to desired consistency and enjoy!

*NOTE: Ghost Peeps do not make a regular appearance atop my smoothie glass.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Southern Living Home-Style Green Bean Casserole

Yes, you read that correctly. A casserole recipe! On MY blog. I don't dislike casseroles, but I don't love them either. The closest thing to a casserole I make is my Godmother's homemade Italian macaroni and cheese. In fact, I never had cream of anything soup in my pantry. I have nothing against them, it's just not what I like to cook. I do, however, make an exception for green bean casserole. I. LOVE. IT. SO. MUCH. There is something about it that warms me up inside and reminds me of Sunday dinners with my Grandma and Grandpa Appicelli or the rare nights it would make an appearance on our dinner plates in the Nido kitchen. I always forget how much I love this stuff and as I was flipping through my November issue of Southern Living, this recipe caught my eye (and my heart). It's a new twist on an American classic and with a few healthy swaps, you're left with a side dish that's filled with fresh ingredients and everything made from scratch. The sauce is rich and decadent and fresh tomatoes add a pop of color and a hint of sweetness. I made a few changes to the recipe to make it even healthier and adding caramelized shallots to the top added another dimension of flavor that was oh so delicious. This is a grown up version of a childhood favorite and I am in love.

Home-Style Green Bean Casserole
recipe adapted from Southern Living

1.5 lbs. fresh green beans, trimmed
1.5 Tbsp. butter
1/8 cup all purpose flour
1.5 cups skim milk
1 Tbsp. Ranch dressing mix
2 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. olive oil
1 8 0z. package fresh sliced mushrooms
3 shallots, thinly sliced
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
2 plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook green beans in boiling water, 4-6 minutes, or until desired (I like my beans crisp). Drain and plunge in ice water; drain and pat dry.

Melt 1.5 Tbsp. butter in a medium, heavy bottomed pan over medium heat. Whisk in flour until smooth. Cook, whisking constantly, 3 to 4 minutes or until sauce is thickened and bubbly. Remove from heat and whisk in Ranch mix, thyme, salt and pepper. If you need to thin it down, add an additional splash of milk.

Drizzle olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat and saute the mushrooms for 6 to 8 minutes, or until lightly browned. When they are done, set aside, and in the same pan, saute shallots until translucent and caramelized.

Gently toss mushrooms and green beans in sauce. Place in a 13 x 9 inch baking dish. Combine shallots, panko and diced tomatoes, then sprinkle over the beans.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Misc. Monday

Happy Monday! As I sit here, finishing my second cup of coffee, I'm listening to Michael Buble's new Christmas album! Be. Still. My. Heart. (the album was just released today and you can download all 15 tracks on iTunes) I realize it's only October 24, and Halloween has not yet arrived, but I couldn't resist previewing the album once through. Blogging + coffee + Christmas music is a delightful combination on a Monday morning and I hope you would agree. So far I am loving Michael's sweet voice singing holiday songs to me. I'm also happy to add him back to my playlist rotation. I was desperately in need of new Buble tunes in my life. I am not getting to ahead of myself here though. As soon as this album finishes playing on my iTunes, I'll be returning to The Monster Mash station on Pandora. I'm not ready to give up the Spooktacular tunes until next week!

To top off a weekend filled with great and guilty pleasures in the food department, I whipped up a quick dessert. My dear friend Julie posted this Two Minute Personal Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake about a month ago and my belly has been screaming for it ever since. I love her for sharing this recipe and hate that this personal sized dessert is so easy to make. This is a dangerous recipe to add to my rotation of sweet treats I tell you!

In my whining and complaining about missing my beloved Queen City, I forget to mention that I found a little piece of the South right here in the Midwest! Much to my surprise, our local liquor store has a giant supply of Firefly Sweet Tea Vodka! This makes me a very happy girl. There are several brands out there, but Firefly is by far my favorite. And it's made in South Carolina! Have I ever mentioned how much I LOVE this stuff? I get warm, fuzzy, happy memories of fun tailgates with my sisters in Boone with each sweet sip.

A few weeks ago, I was contacted by Stacy from How He Asked {dot} com. My dear friend Ashley got engaged a few weeks ago and in my excitement, I tweeted that sweet friends getting engaged made me so happy. Stacy saw my tweet, tracked me down via my little blog, and told me about her website. How He Asked is a fun way to share your engagement stories on the web! What's better than a space dedicated to magical love stories? Please check out this darling website! You may even see someone that you know (wink wink). If you or any of your friends have recently gotten engaged or married, send your stories to Stacy via the website. She would love to hear from you!

I realize that it is Monday and while many people loathe Mondays, I happen to love them. It's like a fresh start and a new page. As I go through my Twitter and Facebook feeds each Monday morning, I notice so many negative thoughts and comments. Smile, people! Find something to be thankful for and just choose to be happy. Others around you will appreciate you for it, and will spread the happiness forward. Trust me on this. It's a basic result in the art of happiness. So if you are in one of those Monday moods, snap out of it and count your blessings. Turn on some Christmas music if you have to! And if you are still not smiling, hopefully this picture will help change your mindset.

Happy Monday!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Fall Fun

My favorite season is in full swing and we discovered quite the little festive gem in Illinois this weekend. Our Saturday afternoon snack looked a little something like this...

After a quick Google search, I found a Cider Mill about an hour from our house and we made the trip on Saturday! This place was bustling with activity and full of all things Fall. Complete with a pumpkin patch, corn maze and a giant market/gift shop, our hour car ride was well worth it! The sun was shining, the air had the perfect amount of crispness to it and the spiced cider and cider donuts were life changing. Really. I have never had a donut quite like it. And the half dozen we brought home were gone by the time breakfast was over this morning.

Hope you all had a wonderful weekend. Next up for the Moores on our festive to do list- pumpkin carving! Happy Fall, y'all!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Shrimp & Grits (aka the BEST thing I've ever made)

I miss everything about the South. My family, my friends and sweet tea. Southern manners, monograms and the sunshine always shining from the Carolina blue sky. Boone tailgating in the fall and long, lazy vacations on Kiawah Island in the summer. Chick-Fil-A ranks pretty high on the list, too. The South will always be home to me.

With a little help from Emeril and a lot of love on my end, I prepared pure Southern goodness on a plate. This is the best thing that I have ever made. Ever. (Mark also agrees.) Creamy Charleston-Style grits topped with spicy shrimp and andouille sausage, swimming in the glorious flavors of the Low Country. Dare I say this is worthy of a last meal?

Forget the healthy eating fad you are currently planning your meals around and add this recipe to your dinner rotation. Life is too short to skip the grits. Please?

Thank you.

Spicy Shrimp and Andouille Over Charleston-Style Grits
recipe from Emeril Lagasse

For the shrimp and sausage:

2 lbs. medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 Tbsp. Emeril's Essence*
8 oz. Andouille Sausage
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 cup finely chopped yellow onion
1/2 cup finely chopped green bell pepper
1/2 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
1 tsp. minced garlic
1 1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 Tbsp. finely chopped green onions
1 Tbsp. minced parsley

Season the shrimp with Essence and salt. Heat a large, heavy saute pan (I used my French oven) over medium-high heat and sear the andouille, cooking for about 3 minutes. Remove the andouille to a plate and add the shrimp, cooking until pink, about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove to a plate. Heat olive oil and add the onion and bell peppers and cook until soft, about 3 minutes. Add 2 Tbsp. Essence to the pan, stir well, then add the garlic, cooking for about 1 minute. Add the chicken broth to the pan and cook until reduced slightly, about 5 minutes.

Stir the cream, green onions and parsley into the sauce and return the sausage and shrimp to the pan. Return sauce to a nice simmer and cook until reduced slightly. Stir well and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve over Charleston-Style grits.

Charleston-Style Grits

6 cups water
salt to taste
1 1/2 cups quick cooking, old fashioned or stone ground grits (stone ground are the best- DO NOT use instant!)
2 cups milk
1 cup heavy cream
8 Tbsp. butter
Freshly ground black pepper

In a large, heavy saucepan, bring water to a boil. Add a generous teaspoon of salt with the grits and stir with a wooden spoon to combine. When the grits thicken, add milk, cream and butter and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover the saucepan and cook for 45 minutes to an hour, until grits are creamy and dreamy. Keep covered and warm until ready to serve.

*NOTE: Emeril's Essence can be purchased in the grocery store with all of the spices. This is something I ALWAYS keep on hand in my kitchen but in case you can't find it, the recipe is linked above in the ingredients list.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

A Wicked Kitchen Trick

Well, I saw Wicked last night and it seriously changed my life. We were four rows from the stage and the entire show literally took my breath away. It was beyond fantastic and to say that it exceeded my expectations is an understatement. I now know why people are so obsessed with this musical. I'm also now on the Wicked Witch's side. That said, instead of posting the recipe I intended on posting, I grabbed my broomstick and did some deep cleaning around the house and sang at the top of my lungs while listening to Defying Gravity. On repeat.

While playing Cinderella and scrubbing the kitchen from top to bottom, I remembered a trick that I discovered awhile back. I have never tried this before and was amazed at the results. If you are like me, and neglect the cleaning out of your microwave until it's almost impossible to remove all of the splatters and mess, then this trick is for you! All you need is one lemon, and about a cup and a half of water. Fill a microwave safe bowl with water. Cut a lemon in half and squeeze the juice into the water. Microwave on high for 5-10 minutes. When the time is up, use a damp cloth to wipe down every nook and cranny and smile at your sparkly clean microwave.

After you clean your microwave, check out my guest post today over at my friend Emily's blog, The Culinary Couple. Emily and Nick recently welcomed a sweet baby boy into the world and they asked me to share a delicious recipe while they take some time off to enjoy their new peanut.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

SHAPE Best Blogger Awards

My West Coast sister is up for the Best Fitness Blogger Award hosted by Shape Magazine and she needs your votes!

Danica and I met through the wonderful world of blogging. After a few blog comments and friendly little tweets, we quickly realized we were "twins" from opposite coasts. God puts people in our lives for special reasons and I can't imagine my life without this girl in it! Please visit Danica's page, located HERE, and vote for her blog,

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

This and That

Whew! It was a whirlwind weekend in Charlotte and back to reality we are. The wedding was beautiful and the newlyweds are now enjoying a dreamy honeymoon in Hawaii. Of course, the wedding was the highlight of the weekend but being able to spend time with my family and amazing friends was cream cheese frosting on the red velvet cupcake!

I even got to sneak in a quick visit with my blonde sister and her precious angel, Jack! I just love these lovies so much!

When we arrived home late Sunday night, I found these glittered beauties on my doorstep. I love the vision behind TOMS Shoes and I always love the chance to support a good cause. For every pair of shoes you purchase, a pair is sent to a child in need. One for One. I have been be-bopping around town in my gold TOMS, feeling as though a little cheer is being spread everywhere I go. These totally look like Christmas elf shoes, don't they?

In high school, as in when Britney Spears was a way of life, bronzer was my BFF. Even though I'm still holding out for Britney's ultimate comeback, the days of multiple applications that beachy tanned look are long gone. Blush has made a permanent place in my daily makeup regimen and my skin is singing songs of praise. I recently purchased The Multiple by NARS in Portofino and I am loving it! It's a creamy stick based blush that can also be used for eyes, lips and body. Find your color and add this to your makeup bag NOW.

How handsome is my groom!? I love him so!

And one last thought on this Tuesday evening; Always choose joy. xoxo

Friday, October 7, 2011

Pinnable Me: Kitchen Dreams

It's that time of the week again! I am afraid that I have become a Pinning monster and am having too much fun with this activity that I now fondly refer to as "Digital Hoarding". I think that Pinterest is brilliant and I love having all of my inspiration, projects, products and recipes (plus more!) in one spot.

It should come as no surprise that I have a board dedicated solely to kitchens. I love light cabinets, tons of cooking space and plenty of room to entertain. Natural lighting is another must. At the rate I'm going, my dream house is going to need several kitchens. The kitchen really is the heart of the home. Here are some that make me drool.

Source: via Nina on Pinterest

Source: via Nina on Pinterest

Source: via Nina on Pinterest

Visit Paw Prints & Pastry Bags to link up to Pinnable Me Friday!

For more gorgeous spaces, please check out my friend Brianna of Brianna Michelle Interior Design. She is beyond talented! (Image #13 in the photo gallery is my definition of kitchen perfection!)

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Love is in the Air

Guess what y'all!? My Best friend is GETTING MARRIED this weekend! I cannot believe this weekend has finally arrived. My house has turned into a Wedding Workshop of sorts and all of the goodies are packed up and ready to go!

I'm looking forward to several days of celebrating, walking down the aisle like she did for me and a giant dance party at the reception. A little over a year ago, MOD stood next to me as Mark and I said "I Do" and I am beyond blessed to be able to do the same for her and Scott. Another bonus? All of the lovies will be under one roof this weekend. Oh Happy Day!

I love you are going to make one STUNNING bride! xoxo

P.S. We can't wait for official family vacations to start! Where are we going first?