Buffalo Chicken Dip

I meant to include this on Six On Sunday.

Beware… it is ADDICTING and you WILL BE the most popular gal at the party.

BUFFALO CHICKEN DIP
4 boneless cooked chicken breasts shredded or diced
2/3 bottle of FRANK’S BUFFALO WING SAUCE
2 bars of cream cheese(softened)
1 16 oz. bottle of blue cheese dressing
3-4 cups of shredded Monterey Jack cheese

buffalo chicken dip Buffalo Chicken Dip

I never thought I would be one with foodie pics on my blog! Moving up in the world…

“Scoops” tortillas or regular tortilla chips (We use Fritos.)
celery sticks (optional) (I am the only one EVER who has eaten celery sticks with this dip.)

First, layer the chicken and Franks Buf. Wing sauce in the bottom of a 13″ by 9″ pan.  Mix together the cream cheese, blue ch. dressing and 2-3 cups of the Mont. Jack cheese. (SAVE THE REST OF THE SHRED. CHEESE. FOR THE TOP) Spread over the chicken.  Put remaining Mont. Jack cheese on the top.
Bake at 350 for approx. 1/2 hour. It is good hot ,or warm!

Six On Sunday, The Monday Julia-Is-Sick-Again Version

1. Girls Night Out. On Friday night, I got to do something very rare- I went out for a Girls Night Out! Don’t get me wrong- my husband is always supportive of me taking time with my girlfriends; life just seems to get in the way. On Friday night, one of my besties was in town. She invited me not only to hang out, but to spend the night at the St. Regis with her- a bona fide slumber party! In true slumber party form, we had a ball and were both exhausted the next day.

jen girls night out Six On Sunday, The Monday Julia Is Sick Again Version

Keeping it Klassy at the St. Regis

2. St. Regis. The St. Regis is a fabulous hotel- from the incredible floral arrangements in the lobby to the doorbells on the suites. It is also a place where the fabulous people go. I love my current roles in life- suburban wife and mother- but it was so much fun to be Fabulous again, at least for a little while!

3. HDMI cords. You loyal readers will remember that my husband seems to have the worst luck with cables- they always seem to be too short! Once he gets the correct cords, the man is a wiring genius! In the past week, he has wired a sound bar with hidden cords and hung a TV in our bedroom- again, with no visible cords.  In related news, he has also built another shelf into an exisiting set of shelves, hidden more cords with cord keeper and hung pictures from a decorative knob. Thanks honey!

family pics Six On Sunday, The Monday Julia Is Sick Again Version

I need a little help with the ribbons… not sure how to drape properly- any ideas?

4, The Superbowl. Who cares? I don’t. I did have a great time with more great friends and greater wine- woops, I think I said that backwards!!  I think the Superdome has bad karma after Katrina… props to everyone for staying calm and being reasonably well behaved during the blackout.

5. Buffalo Chicken Dip. You need to make this immediately. It is life changing.

buffalo chicken dip Six On Sunday, The Monday Julia Is Sick Again Version

I never thought I would be one with foodie pics on my blog! Moving up in the world…

6. Almond Milk. Vanilla. Warmed up. AMAZZINGG!!!

It’s All About The Pods

My life was forever changed when I tried Fancy Pants coffee.  In a few small sips, I understood why Starbucks is slowly taking over the world, one wanna be hipster at a time. Suddenly, all the glassy eyed folks in the never ending line at Starbucks didn’t seem like such idiots. Waiting forty five minutes for a coffee made sense! I felt their pain at the excruciatingly long wait for such perfection. I silently apologized for all the mean things I said to them over the years. I hung my head in shame for all the self-congratulating smug I had harbored over the years, thinking I was too good for Starbucks.

However, I maintained some of my smug, because I can make my own coffee, in my own kitchen, whenever I want it! True, I understand the siren song of the Fancy Coffee, but I do not have to stand with the masses and wait my turn because I have the Nesppreso. (Thank you again!!)

The Nespresso comes with a sample kit of all the varieties available in pods for use in the machine. The pods are darling- brightly colored, and shaped like little acorns they are very festive. I quickly found my favorites (Volluto and Decaffinato Lungo) (Thomas prefers the Roma) and was SO EXCITED to fill my appliance cabinet with colorful coffee pods instead of slightly sticky, never used waffle makers. I Googled “where to buy Nesppreso” and set off to the Cooks Warehouse store. And was DENIED. I tried Bloomingdale’s… and was again denied. (This hurt my heart because Bloomingdale’s always ALWAYS comes through for me. Always.) I realized: it isn’t me, it’s them! After a little bit of digging, I discovered that one can only purchase the pods online directly from the company.

Back home, I grabbed my iPad and navigated to the Nespresso homepage. I navigated to the coffee page, and tried to order but before I could complete my order, I had to fill out customer information. OK, that is fairly standard when purchasing something online. Most companies do not require the serial number of the machine to complete the order though! Yes, that’s right- you can only order the pods if you can prove that you have the machine to use them in. I went outside and retrieved the serial number on the box. (OK, Thomas went outside in the dark cold and got the number while I manned the couch.) Once entered, I was able to complete our order. Membership (and almost $10 worth of shipping fees) has its privileges, and the coffee was overnighted and delivered the next day, a Saturday!

nespresso pods Its All About The Pods

Now, I can count two more clubs in my collection of places I belong: the Fancy Pants Coffee club and the ultra exclusive Nesppreso (or the why yes, I pay ridiculous amounts of money for coffee pods, thank you) Club. And, that is the gift that keeps on giving.

empty pods Its All About The Pods

How Coffee Changed My Life

Of all of the organizations I am proud to be a member of (Nerinx Girls, Kappa Kappa Gamma, Junior League), my newest membership is the one that makes me smile (albeit smugly). I am a proud member of the Fancy Pants Coffee Nespresso Club!

nespresso1 How Coffee Changed My Life

So Amazing

For Christmas, my husband and I received the Nespresso Espresso Machine from some of the best couple friends one can have. It was a hugely generous gift, and we were appropriately grateful as this was a wonderful surprise.

jen fletch julia thomas How Coffee Changed My Life

We love them!

I was so excited for Thomas, because I am not a coffee drinker, and he downs pots of it by himself every morning. For years, I was Team Diet Coke in the mornings, but I switched to tea when I realized that my blood type was coming back as “aspartame” instead of the normal A or B varieties. I didn’t even like what my father has termed “recreational coffee”- flavored coffee and creamers. For years, the only way I could force coffee down was if it was equal parts coffee and Frangelico, topped with plenty of whipped cream.

However, my curiosity was peaked when I witnessed the sheer delight this magic little machine was delivering to my friends and family. Even Thomas squealed like a little girl over the Magical Goodness this machine poured from its little black spout. I decided I had to get in on the action.

I tried the coffee made from this Eighth Wonder of the World.

And my life changed.

I set up the machine under Thomas’s careful eye, him muttering something about my track record of not reading directions and using the ‘push and make it fit’ school of assembly the entire time. After the parts were connected (and he signed off on it), I nervously pushed the green ‘go’ button.

The coffee that came out of the spout looked different from the coffee Thomas makes in the Cuisinart self-grinding fancy coffee maker that he had to have when we got married. (Ask him how many times he has ground his own beans. ONCE. Apparently, it was ‘too messy’.) It was thicker, and frothier.

I might be a coffee amateur, but even I know that fancy pants coffee requires frothy milk on top. I dug around in my ‘appliance cabinet-‘the cabinet where things like waffle makers, fondue sets, and cookie presses go to die- for the handheld Cuisinart blender/mixer thing I received for our wedding (and have used as many times as Thomas has used the grinding part of the coffee maker). I hauled it down, and said a quick Hail Mary that it would work after six long years of non use, and hit the button. Success!

HailMary How Coffee Changed My Life

She totally came through!
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Limited success, as I was about to learn as the amount of froth frothed was, well, less than impressive. Undeterred, I frothed and scooped what little foam was made, and repeated. And repeated. In the end, it was worth all of the time and effort. This coffee was amazing! LIFE CHANGING! I think angels were actually singing!

As with all things life changing, this revelation was going to make reexamine some of my Founding Principles…

Six On Sunday, Version 28

1. The Bachelor.  OMG HOW HAVE I MISSED THIS SHOW FOR THE PAST 16 SEASONS?!! It has everything a girl could want in a show- manufactured drama, bitchy girls, suspense AND diamonds! Stop it!!  I feel as though everyone I privately mocked for watching this show deserves an apology: I am so so sorry. I “judged a book by its cover”, and I was totally wrong. I cannot wait to ridicule share observations about the contestants. (To the chick who attempted back handsprings in an evening gown: NO. Just NO.) Also, I am not impressed with Sean…. way cuter guys out there.

- Other notables from the 25 women: One woman tries to backflip her way into Sean’s heart, only to fall on her face; one woman reveals an open-heart tattoo that she’s hoping Sean can fill; one freaky gal is looking to fulfill her “Fifty Shades of Grey” fantasies on national television; and one woman says her Italian father will break Sean’s legs if he breaks her heart.

 

2. Oddly Warm Weather.  I love you. You are welcome here anytime. However, I am concerned that a lack of freezing will only intensify the Bug Problem (unless the ground actually freezes- a so-called ‘hard freeze’, the bugs do not die. They in fact, multiply… ) I love wearing short sleeves in January! Sadly, I understand that the high tomorrow is supposed to be 40. Boo!

 

3. Almonds. Just awesome. I love them! I have the butter toffee, wasabi, smoked, roasted, AND salt and vinegar varieties. I have almond butter (yet another reason to love Costco- a gigantic tub is $6. At Whole Foods, the baby tub is $9.). This week, thanks to my Nespresso addiction, I have discovered Almond Milk. GENIUS! So good! So vanillay! So much calcium (that’s the Mom in me)! Try it, and trust me, you will like it.

 

4. Kim Kardashian’s Baby. Firstly, poor Khloe. She is clearly the best Kardashian, and the only one with some sort of semblance of morals- she actually got married, has stayed married, and even quit her show (Khloe and Lamar) to work on her marriage. I cannot imagine how angry that made Kris Jenner as she is the ultimate example of what a Controlling-No-Regard-To-Boundaries mother looks like. As everyone who stands in line at the grocery store knows from reading the trashy magazines at check out, Khloe wants a baby. And despite Kris’s best efforts (read: writing checks and or throwing sh*t fits) to control everything Kardashian, Khloe is still not a mommy. All that aside, I CANNOT WAIT to watch the trainwreck that is Kim’s pregnancy. Pregnancy is one of the few things in life where we are all on a level playing field- Kris cannot buy away stretch marks, or morning sickness, or the general Holy-Cats-This-Sucks-Please-Hurry-Up-Baby feeling that is felt by every pregnant sister out there.

 

5. New Years Resolutioners At The Gym. I admire those who want to become healthier. I think its great. That being said, most of you are not really serious. Most of you are clogging up the machines and the prime real estate at the gym and getting in the way. For those who are serious, I will save you a spot. You are awesome. Those who are not, GO AWAY.

 

6. Routine. The holidays are over, and you are back! While you might not be the most exciting, you are wonderfully predictable, and I love you for that.

Six On Sunday, Version 27

nespresso1 Six On Sunday, Version 27

So Amazing

1. Nespresso Machine.  The Nespresso is the Bentley of coffee machines. The Kuerig, while great (from what I understand), are not even in the same ballpark. They are Chevy Cavaliers decent, but not amazing. For Christmas, our best couple friends gave us a Nespresso machine. It has literally changed my life.  I do not like coffee. At all. Honestly, the only way I can tolerate drinking coffee is when healthy amounts of Frangelico are added (and whipped cream). I never understood Starbucks… until last week.   I have had espressos,  cafe lattes, and cappuccinos at least once a day for the past week.

Aeroccino Plus Six On Sunday, Version 27

Aeroccino Plus. I MUST HAVE YOU!

2. Frother. As I am learning, the key to any successful fancy pants coffee drink is the milk froth. I desperately want the Nespresso frother, and I am doing my best to convince Thomas that it is worth every single penny. As he is also having his own ‘coffee rebirth’, I am optimistic.  He has always been a ‘serious’ coffee drinker- in almost ten years, I have yet to see him use cream or sugar. The fancy coffee machine is opening his eyes to fancy coffee, complete with flavored syrups and froth! It is truly a Brave New World at our house.

3. Glitter. I packed up all of my Christmas decorations last week (YAY!!). After all of the decorations were safely packed away, we deep cleaned. We scrubbed the house to remove all the pine needles, glitter, small pieces of scotch tape, and stray ribbons that  come along with Christmas. How is it that I am still finding glitter every where?! Judging from the amount of glitter on my floors, my decorations should, for all practical purposes, be totally naked.   And yet, I am confident that the decorations are quietly oozing yet more glitter in their boxes, waiting for next year.

4. Gel Manicures. OMG! Life changing. As you loyal readers know, my toenails (and my daughter’s) are ALWAYS PAINTED. It should not be very surprising to learn that my finger nails are also always painted. Even the worst of circumstances when Emma was a newborn, and not sleeping EVER NEVER EVER NEVER NEVER and crying ALL THE DAMN TIME, my fingernails were manicured. It might not have been the prettiest job, but they were painted nonetheless. Keeping my nail polish from chipping is a huge pain (and a total first world problem, but whatever). Before we left for Christmas, I decided to treat myself to a gel manicure. Also, Groupon had a deal for one. Best. Thing. Ever. I did dishes for HOURS on end with no chips. Now, I just needed to find someone who is willing to support my new habit… because $600 a year on nails isn’t in my cards. (If anyone is interested, you can email me: Julia@juliasmath.com!)

5. Wimpy Winter Gear. The day Emma and I landed in St. Louis, the high was 27. Twenty freaking seven. Our winter gear did not even begin to cut it! My gloves were too thin and made from stretchy cotton, my coat was actually more like a jacket, and we did not have hats. I have lost my cold weather tolerance and common sense. I remember wearing flip flops in the snow in college- our justification was that we would only be outside for a minute at most, running from the car into house. Today, I cannot go outside without at least two pairs of socks… when it is below forty. However, I am totally OK with my loss as I hate cold weather and am thankful to only have to deal with it once a year!

t j new years Six On Sunday, Version 27

Thanks Honey!

6. Driver of the Year. This award goes to my husband, who drove 1800 miles in five days. And didn’t bitch AT ALL. Yay Thomas! (Atlanta to St. Louis to Chicago to St. Louis to Atlanta)

Candy Canes Are So Overrated

The Candy Cane is a universal symbol for Christmas. Well, maybe not universal but definitely recognizable. I love the idea of candy canes- a refreshing, yet sweet treat that reminds us of Christmas. However, the candy cane does have one fatal flaw… they are a nightmare to eat.

Any enjoyment of this treat is destroyed by the thick slime that is created when spit collects in the plastic cellophane wrapper and smothers the candy, creating a goo that has the adhesive properties of super glue and is just as difficult to remove. This goo sticks to fingers, clothes, and stray, flyaway hairs with a fierce tenacity. And, worst of all, this goo ruins the rest of the candy cane. Once the goo attacks the virgin candy, it is ruined; un-eatable.

For reasons I don’t fully understand, the candy cane manufacturers (“elves”) believe that Bigger Is Better, and therefore produce the most massive candy canes imaginable. These beasts are truly ‘canes’ as they could double for a real cane in a pinch, like when Grandma comes to Christmas dinner. No one in the history of the world has ever finished one of these monstrosities. Frankly, I don’t think anyone actually wants to eat all of that sticky peppermint. Even if someone WANTED to attempt to conquer the ‘cane, the spit goo would eat the lower two inches of the cane anyway!  There can be too much of a good thing… Sure peppermint is great (especially with chocolate- Andes Mint anyone?).  However, Andes mints aside, there is a reason that peppermint is a limited, time-of-year treat- without its chocolate compliment, it is just not that good. Peppermint also does not lend itself well to other candy marriages. Peppermint Twix? No thanks. Peppermint SweeTarts? Not so much… I spotted some Christmas (peppermint flavored) Peeps at Target the other day… in the clearance section, marked down 90%. No takers. The take home message is that  some treats are meant to be seasonal (sweetheart conversation hearts, I’m looking at you), and some are amazing year ‘round (let’s hear it for Snickers and M&Ms!).

In my opinion, the mini candy cane is a more desirable option, as the goo is not a factor and it is a more enjoyable size. Although these are almost always broken, I still think they are better as they are much easier to eat than the larger ones. The straight part is easy- although accidental stabbings do occur- the bendy part is a nightmare. It is impossible to fit it into ones mouth comfortably!

Candy canes have nothing to offer me, really. Emma is convinced that she loves them, but she is also convinced that pink zebra tutus are the must-have accessory of the season. You all enjoy your candy canes; I am off to find the Christmas cookies!

Six On Sunday, Version 26

1. The Flu. We had The Flu at our house. Thankfully, I had gotten my flu shot and I wasn’t down for EIGHT DAYS like my husband. When I asked him why he hadn’t gotten his yet, he said “because you didn’t tell me to yet”. So, everyone listen up: GET YOUR FLU SHOT.

2. Freakishly Warm Weather. I hate cold weather. Hate it. However, I hate bugs way more. We have not had a ‘hard freeze’ in Atlanta in over a year and the bug situation is out of control. I could not even talk to my neighbors in the yard today because the gnats were dive bombing my face, specifically my mouth. I am trying to up my protein intake, but I am not convinced that eating bugs is the way to go. Also, it is hard to get in the Christmas spirit in shorts.

3. Christmas Cookies. Every year, we have our world famous Cookie Party. This year, the stand out cookies were the Cookies & Cream… they were amazing. Life changing, maybe.  Also good were the caramel apple cookies! All of the cookies were amazing, and we hope our guests had half as much fun as we did!

cookies n cream1 Six On Sunday, Version 26

Cookies & Cream

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour 
1 teaspoon baking soda 
1 cup butter, softened 
1/2 cup packed brown sugar 
1/2 cup white sugar 
1 (4.2 ounce) Cookies ‘n Creme pudding dry mix 
2 eggs 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
2 cups white chocolate chips 
15 Oreo cookies, very coarsly chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream butter and sugars, add pudding mix until blended. Stir in the eggs and vanilla. In a separate bowl, combine the flour and baking soda with a whisk then add it to the butter mixture. Stir in the chocolate chips and Oreo cookies. Drop cookies by rounded spoonfuls onto greased cookie sheet. Bake for 10 minutes in preheated oven until cookies tops barely have a touch of brown. Makes 3 dozen cookies.

4. Sugar HIGH.  Emma consumed her body weight in sugar at the party yesterday. Just kidding (hopefully). I always set up a cookie decorating table for kids, so Emma and her friends had unfettered access to sugar cookies, icing, M&Ms, and sprinkles in her playroom. The dining room held the various trays of cookies, and there were cheese and crackers scattered around the house. The cookie party is the Best Day Of Her Life every year, and this year did not disappoint.

5. Glitter. It’s everywhere. On everything. I think we are even eating copious amounts of glitter. (Glitter is extra fiber, right?!) Gotta love the holiday season!

6. Christmas Shopping. I haven’t even started thinking about it. For me or for anyone else… why is it that on almost any day of the year, I can give you a list of twenty-five things I am dying to have, and as soon as someone actually WANTS that list I have no idea what to ask for? So Annoying.

Thanksgiving Is Different In The South (And Brunch Was a Good Idea)

When families and friends sit down for their Thanksgiving meal, it is usually at dinner time; hence ‘Thanksgiving Dinner’. Growing up, that is all I thought I wanted (for Thanksgiving anyway. A brand new BWM and and all expenses paid Spring Break trip to Europe wouldn’t have hurt my feelings.) I thought I was totally missing out on something, because my family hosted a brunch every Thanksgiving. It wasn’t until high school, when I was invited to my boyfriend‘s family Thanksgiving Dinner that I actually got a true ‘Thanksgiving Dinner

new bmw 8 series 490x283 Thanksgiving Is Different In The South (And Brunch Was a Good Idea)

It’s not too late Dad… although it would be tough to fit a carseat in there…
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The older I get, the more I realize that my parents were not the stupid idiots I thought they were in high school; they are actually brilliant. I have realized the error of my ways, and now wish for the days of one Thanksgiving meal where all of the guests came to me. I live six hundred miles away from my parents and my sisters (and their husbands), so popping in for a mimosa isn’t really going to happen.  Thomas has a wonderful family that has more people in it than I could have ever imagined possible (although, to be fair, the bar was really, really low as my extended family is a grand total of nine people).  More people means more responsibilities, so if anyone has any experience in being in two places at once please leave directions in the comments section below.

The spread that Thomas’s family puts out for Thanksgiving is impressive. What is even more impressive is that I could only identify one out of every five dishes the first time I attended Thanksgiving! Southern Thanksgiving, it turns out, is very different from its Northern sister. 

dressing Thanksgiving Is Different In The South (And Brunch Was a Good Idea)

Dressing source

In the South, you will find dressing instead of stuffing and sweet potato pie instead of pumpkin. Southerns prefer their beans grey instead of green; but you can find plenty of green in the Jell-O salads. No one makes my mom’s waldorf salad, but you will find my mother-in-law’s mac and cheese.  For my calories, I’m going stuffing and pumpkin pie all the way. Before I met my husband, I had never had homemade mac and cheese before (I never had the Kraft kind either as my mom was weirded out by the orange cheese powder.) My mother-in-law’s Mac And Cheese is literally life changing, so that was a definite upgrade!

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Stuffing… subtle difference but a difference nonetheless.
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If only they had quit while they were ahead…

Thanksgiving Brunch Just Didn’t Cut It

Thanksgiving. In theory, it is the most brilliant holiday we have. (Other than the national holiday that is My Birthday). Show up, eat delicious food, visit with the family, go home and take a nap. To be fair, there is a tremendous amount of behind the scenes work required to execute a successful Thanksgiving  dinner.  However, unlike Christmas, preparations take hours, not weeks, and dishes are far easier to clean up than messy Visa bills…

credit cards 300x203 Thanksgiving Brunch Just Didnt Cut It

You Are Everywhere I Want To Be… And That Is The Problem…
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Both of my parents are only children, and were transplants to the St. Louis area (my grandparents lived out of state). When it came to family holidays, we had five people total, meaning that the absence of even one of us meant the party was twenty percent smaller. (This concept totally blew my husband’s mind as his ‘small’ family parties have thirty people). Needless to say, holiday celebrations were not the long, drawn out, sometimes painful  wonderful, all day experiences so many people have.

My parents have a wonderful network of friends, who became our adopted family. Like every other family, we wanted to all celebrate the day together. However, all of our “family” also had real relatives of their own, and were therefore booked for dinner. My mother is resourceful (if nothing else) and a wonderful hostess, so the idea of not having a party for Thanksgiving never occurred to her. She simply moved the “dinner” to a “brunch”.

At our house, Thanksgiving turkey was actually Turkey Tetrazzini casserole, and pumpkin pie was actually pumpkin cheesecake (which is so amazingly life changing, by the way).  Our “family” came over around eleven and sipped mimosas and bloody marys instead of bourbons and red wine.

While I appreciated the great party, fantastic food, and the chance to visit with family, the older I got the more bitter I became. I wanted a roasted turkey with all the trimmings! I wanted my pumpkin in a pie, not in a cheesecake! And, I wanted to have Thanksgiving when it was dark outside, like everyone else!  I finally got my wish in high school, when I started attending my boyfriend’s Thanksgiving. (Although I have lost touch with him, I still make his family’s Party Potatoes every year!)