A Birthday Celebration

Today is the love of my life’s 23rd birthday and I cannot wait to spoil him like he spoils me every single day! Fair warning this may be a mushy, lovey-dovey post but when you have an amazing boyfriend like I do you wouldn’t be able to help it either. 😉

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Bradley and I met our freshman year of college but we didn’t start dating until our sophomore year. He just graduated from Kennesaw State University in May with an America Chemical Society certified degree in Pharmaceutical Chemistry. He now works for Opti Medical as a Formulations Chemist and words cannot begin to describe how proud of him I am!

He is smart, genuine, loving, funny, this list goes on and on. He makes me laugh uncontrollably and is always up for an adventure. He’s made more confident in myself and has always encouraged me to reach for the stars and don’t settle in life. He is the calm to my chaos, the logic to my emotions, my other (better) half, and I thank God for him daily.

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Over the past 3.5 years, Bradley has changed my life. I know that must sound cliche but it’s true. He makes me think about the world differently and challenges me in ways I never knew I wanted/needed to be challenged. He makes me a better person just by being himself. He truly is my best friend, soulmate, and partner in life.

But, I think one of the things I love most about Bradley is that he is just as big of a foodie as I am! Even though he won’t eat anything green, he enjoys trying new foods and exploring different restaurants just like me. But his absolute favorite meal is a big ‘ol steak and a baked potato. So what the birthday boy wants, he gets.

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Bradley’s Meal:
Appetizer – Queso Fundido

  • 1 c. mozzarella
  • 1 c. Oaxaca or Quesadilla Cheese
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 8 oz. chorizo
  • Tortilla chips or warm tortillas (duh)

Heat oven to broil. In a skillet over medium heat, add chorizo and garlic, cook for 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.

In a cast iron skillet or ceramic dish add the cheese and broil until melted. Top with chorizo and serve immediately.

Rosemary Compound Butter steak

For the compound butter:

  • 1/2 c. fresh rosemary removed from stem
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. cracked pepper
  • 1/4 cup roughly minced garlic
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) softened unsalted butter

Combine all ingredients in a medium-sized bowl, using a rubber spatula mix ingredients until everything is incorporated (it will smell AMAZING).

Scoop the mixture onto a sheet of wax or parchment paper. Roll into a log and twist the ends shut. Place in the refrigerator for 2 hours, or until the butter is firm.

This can be used on just about anything; chicken, veggies, turkey, etc. But since Bradley is a complete carnivore this delicious butter is going on STEAK. I prefer to cook steak on the stovetop, I feel I can control the char and the internal temperature better this way. Once the steaks are cooked to their desired doneness (I prefer medium, Bradley prefers medium rare).

I top both steaks with about a tablespoon of the butter and let that melt completely. Once melted I continuously douse the steaks with the melted butter with a spoon until they are finished cooking. Remove from heat and rest for at least 5 minutes.

Nothing pares better with a steak than a baked potato. But regular isn’t my style. So I’m making my famous ‘Loaded Twice Baked Potatoes’ that are so sinful but SO delicious.

Twice Baked Potatoes

  • 2 large baking potatoes
  • 2 tbsp. Butter
  • 1/2 c. Sour cream
  • 3 tbsp. Milk
  • 2 c. Cheddar cheese, divided
  • 3-4 strips of Bacon, crumbled
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Bake potatoes as you would a normal baked potato, about 45 minutes in a 425 degree Fahrenheit oven.

Pull the potatoes out of the oven and carefully cut a small slice off the top of the potato. Then, scoop the insides out of the potato, living enough on the sides of the potato to keep its shape without collapsing in. Place innards in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper.

Add butter, sour cream, milk, and half the cheese and bacon to the potato and mash as you would mashed potatoes. Make sure everything is well combined. Scoop the mixture back into the potato shells.

Top with remaining cheese and bacon. Place the potatoes on a baking sheet and pop them back in the oven just until the cheese is nice and melty on top.

This birthday meal has become a tradition of ours that I hope we carry-on for years to come. Bradley always seems to love my cooking and I love being able to make his favorite meal for him.

Happy birthday my love! 23 never looked so good!

Xoxo,

Jess

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Quick and Easy Breakfast

Adulting is hard Y’all!!

Most mornings, I’m running around getting ready and grab a protein shake as I run out the door. But sometimes I want more than a drink for breakfast. I need a little more substance, something a little more hearty to keep me full until lunchtime (or snack time, whatever comes first).

But if you’re like me, you don’t have time to make eggs or any other big breakfast before hurrying out the door. So, I’m sharing my recipe for Baked Oatmeal with Y’all! Continue reading “Quick and Easy Breakfast”

Make Your Summer Cookout Great Again

Happy 4th of July Y’all!

I hope you are having a fabulous day with friends and family. Enjoy the beautiful weather and time together with loved ones, and reflect on why America is so great.

I first want to say that I thank you to all the men and women that keep this country safe and so great. Your sacrifice (and your families) does not go unnoticed nor unappreciated.

11111614_994376463940456_1747734742118400215_n.jpg Continue reading “Make Your Summer Cookout Great Again”

Southern Fried Catfish Tacos

When I was a kid, from ages 6 to around 9, my family lived in the middle of NOWHERE. My dad was in seminary to become a pastor and while he was finishing his degree at Candler School of Theology at Emory University he also preached at two small churches in The Rock, Georgia. Yes, that is a real place. Located about 7 miles North of Thomaston, The Rock is a small unincorporated town of Upson County.

We lived two houses down from the church, the only thing between the house and the church parking lot was the cemetery and our neighbor Mr. Johnny’s house. Although there was NOTHING around, as a small child I absolutely loved living in the country with a lot of open fields, tall trees to climb, and the sweet smell of honeysuckle all summer long.

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The Rock house, circa 2002, on a rare snowy day

It was incredible living in the country. I shot my first BB gun while living there, saw a deer get skinned, shucked buckets of corn, and had neighbors who owned multiple goats and a donkey named Marvin (who frequently escaped). Continue reading “Southern Fried Catfish Tacos”

The 6th Annual Biscuit Festival

One thing that has ALWAYS been important to me is family. I love going to family events, visiting relatives, and enjoying time with loved ones. My family is pretty big too. Bradley always jokes that there’s no one he’ll be able to learn everyone’s name and keep them all straight.

My dad’s side of the family pretty much all lives in Knoxville, Tennessee (CAN I GET A GO VOLS!?!) His parents, sister, numerous aunts, and uncles, and even a few cousins all live in Tennessee. So whenever we go to visit it’s like a big family reunion.

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A Weekend Getaway in Savannah, GA

This past weekend, I traveled to Savannah to visit my best friend, Marta, for her birthday! It’s been WAY too long since I saw her last (I think my bday last year) so I HAD to go see her and celebrate with her!

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I’ve mentioned this before, but Marta has been my best friend since 8th grade. She’s smart, beautiful, funny, sassy, and truly one of the best people I know. She now lives in Savannah and works for Hancock Askew And Company CPA. Even though we don’t get to see each other as often as we’d like, our friendship will last a lifetime. I honestly don’t know what I would do if I didn’t have her in my life.

Continue reading “A Weekend Getaway in Savannah, GA”

5 of the Best Donut Shops in Atlanta

DONUT worry, be happy! Because today is National Donuts Day!

If you’re like me, then you have such a sweet tooth and absolutely NO self-control when it comes to donuts. How can anyone resist these things!? 

The Atlanta area has SO many local donut shops that offer some of the best donuts I’ve ever had. So in honor of this glorious day; I’ve listed 5 of the best donut shops in or near Atlanta.

Sarah Donuts 

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Sarah Donuts is a local mom & pop shop that offers traditional cake donuts. If you’re looking for the best bang for your buck THIS is your place. We purchased a dozen assorted donuts for less than $10, you just can’t beat that price.

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Come early because these babies go fast. We got to the shop around 10:30 on a Saturday morning and they were already running out of some of their flavors. The most noteworthy for me is the Blueberry and Original Glazed. They’re moist on the inside and have the perfect amount of glaze on top; simple flavors that don’t disappoint. Continue reading “5 of the Best Donut Shops in Atlanta”

Summer Slushies

“Cause a little bit of summer is what the whole year is all about.” – John Mayer

If you’re like me, you love EVERYthing about summer time. The sun, the warm weather, the beach, the pool, cold fruity drinks, catching a tan, the list goes on and on. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy winter activities like skiing and playing in the snow (on the rare occasion it snows in Georgia); but there’s just something about the summer that makes me the happiest. God definitely knew what he was doing when He created Summer.
 
I’m so happy Summer is OFFICIALLY here! So to celebrate, I’m sharing my favorite drinks to sip on while chilling on the beach or sitting poolside and the best part? They’re SLUSHIES. Who doesn’t love slushies right?!
 
The first drink is called a ‘Brandy Slush‘. I first had this drink from my sister’s old roommate, Amanda. It’s a family recipe that Amanda’s family makes for most get-togethers and it actually from a recipe book that the Milwaukee Brewers players’ wives put together as a fundraiser in the 80s.
 

Continue reading “Summer Slushies”

A Royal Tea Party Fit For a Queen

Raise your hand if you’ve been fangirling over the Royal engagement since December like I have!

If you know me at all, you know I have been obsessed with all things UK/England since
the sixth grade. And when I found out we have English blood on my mom’s mother’s side I was delighted. I cling to the little percentage because I just want to be able to say that’s part of my heritage.

In 2011, when Prince William and Princess Kate got married, my mom and I woke up SUPER early, made homemade scones and had a little ‘English tea party’ as we watched the Royal Wedding. I LOVED EVERY SECOND OF IT! So when Prince Harry got engaged to America’s Princess Megan Markle, I was stoked to have another tea party with my mom. Continue reading “A Royal Tea Party Fit For a Queen”

A Perfect Mother’s Day Picnic in the Park

“All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.” – Abraham Lincoln

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Mother-daughter relationships are among the most significant of our lives. Did you know that psychologist conclude that the better a daughter’s relationship is with her mother, the better her relationship will be with her spouse and children?

I found some interesting statistics about moms as well:

  • 88 percent of adults say their mother has had a positive influence on them
  • 92 percent say their current relationship with their mother is positive
  • 88 percent of all mothers say their family appreciates them enough
  • 53 percent of adults say their mother had more influence than their father had

I’ve been fortunate enough to have a great relationship with my mom. Of course, during my teenage years I was a TOTAL brat and fought with my mom often; but even through all that, I’ve always loved and honored my mom. Continue reading “A Perfect Mother’s Day Picnic in the Park”

Fiesta Like There’s No Mañana

Cinco de Mayo is a holiday that celebrates the date of the Mexican army’s 1862 victory over France at the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War in the 1860’s. (IT’S NOT MEXICO’S INDEPENDENCE DAY)

In 1861, Benito Juárez was elected president of Mexico. The country was in financial distress and was forced to default on debt payments to France, Great Britain, and Spain. Britain and Spain negotiated with Mexico and withdrew their forces. France, however, decided to use the opportunity to carve an empire out of Mexican territory.

So, 6,000 French troops set out to attack Puebla de Los Angeles, a small town in east-central Mexico. Juárez rounded up a small force of 2,000 loyal men—many of them either indigenous Mexicans or of mixed ancestry—and sent them to Puebla. When the French finally retreated they had lost nearly 500 soldiers. Fewer than 100 Mexicans had been killed in the clash. Continue reading “Fiesta Like There’s No Mañana”

The Ultimate Guide to Travel in Israel

Shalom Y’all!

It’s been nearly two months since I was in one of the most beautiful locations in the world, Israel. It has everything you would want in a trip abroad: rich history,  incredible landscape, delicious food, diverse culture, and perfect temperatures. It’s a travel bloggers DREAM! I’m already planning on going back some day.

One of the reasons I had such a wonderful time was because of our tour leader, Jimmy. We LOVED Jimmy. He is from Jerusalem and has been leading tours for Educational Opportunities for decades, and he is SO good at his job. Each location we went to he had history, stories, and insights to the locations that just made each site memorable and impactful.

Continue reading “The Ultimate Guide to Travel in Israel”