Thursday, September 30, 2010

Bama Bound

Behold the one, the only, Bryant Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Isn't she a beaut?

That's where Mr. T and I will be this Saturday for the big showdown for the #1 ranked Alabama Crimson Tide (woohoo) against the #7 Florida Gators (boo hiss). And I can't freakin' wait. It's the only Alabama game we'll get to go to this season, so I plan to don every inch of crimson, white and houndstooth I can find and enjoy every glorious minute of it. Roll Tide, y'all.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Friday, September 24, 2010

Mum's The Word.

In honor of the first day of fall, I'd like to interrupt the recipe posts (admit it, you were getting tired of them anyway) to pay homage to my favorite fall flower...dum da da dum...the MUM!

I've starting seeing them pop their pretty little colorful heads out at our local farmers' markets, grocery stores, and neighbors' front porches (mine included) over the past week, and though this last stretch of scorching temps isn't the best growing climate, the weatherman promised us a cool down tonight that I hope will encourage them to go nutso and start sprouting STAT!

And because this blog is still titled "A Bride In Boots" (I'm still considered a bride if I've been married almost 10 months, right? Right?) I got to thinking about all the fall brides who get the most glorious of all blossoms to choose from for their bouquets. Even though I did adore my all-white bouquet with feather fact, let's see her pretty face again, shall we?

But this little stunner of dahlias, zinnias and kermit mums in reds, peaches and pinks is too pretty not to share (please ignore the pale, hairy arm that is holding it though -now why couldn't they just photoshop that bidness out?). If I were having a fall wedding I would be ALL OVAH something like this!

I love that mums make me think of my high school homecoming football games. I have to admit, I always loved donning those gigantic white football mums, the "TC" etched carefully in blue pipe cleaners, and the glorious ribbons streaming down, and picking out the perfect dress for the big homecoming dance. Ah, the glory days...and now I suddenly feel 82 years old. Ahem.

So since we're on the subject of flowers, I thought I'd share my recent success with a little foliage plant called Miss Coleus. Because I know you're dying to know how my garden grows and all...

Hel-lo, color! Coleus, you're my new fave.

So a few weeks ago, in a desperate attempt to try and and spruce up my front porch that had been barren since I'd managed to kill everything I'd planted over the summer, I stopped in at an end-of-summer sale at a nursery down the street and pleaded the sweet lady for some good old-fashioned, I-have-no-green-thumb help. She pointed me in the direction of an assortment of these crazy-awesome coleus plants and I promptly fell in love. So I went home and potted this...

Okay, that's a lie. That is so not my pot. But it looks a lot like the ones I purchased and because I keep forgetting to take a photo of my new little pet project, this will just have to do for now. I know, you're disappointed. Believe me, I would be bragging to the high heavens if I had put together a pot like this. Perhaps one day.

So now that it's official, I'm officially saying it for the second time...happy fall, y'all!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Recipes That Remind Me Of Fall, Part II

Meet my new best friend (for the chilly weather seasons anyway):

Raise your hand if you love crock pot recipes. Me too. Since I'm a working girl that often runs out of steam by 6 p.m., I love nothing more than coming home to a meal that's already cooked itself (and smelled my kitchen up with deliciousness). I'm a huge fan of a juicy pot roast (can't beat my mom's recipe with LOTS of potatoes, carrots, and onions), a hearty, homemade tortilla soup on a chilly evening, or even the tried and true Velveeta and Rotel on a brisk game day afternoon. That said, I plan to try this recipe out the minute the temps decide to cool down here in Nashville (hello, 90 degrees, I thought I bid you adieu!) because I was sold when I saw it was only five minutes of prep time - you can't beat that! (Also, thanks to my friend Melissa at Surprisingly Southern, I saw this great link for even more fall recipes compiments of another delish resource, Annie's Eats!

Sweet and Sour Slow Cooker Chicken

(compliments of you guessed it, Mel's Kitchen Cafe)

*Note: The chicken cooks up with quite a lot of juicy sauce. I prefer lightly draining the sauce and serving it on the side so that it isn’t so “soupy” as we are dishing it up over our rice. Serve it as you please!

*Serves 6-ish

4-6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 tablespoons butter or olive oil
1/4 cup ketchup
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 onion, diced
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
1 cup low-sodium beef broth

In a large skillet, heat the butter/olive oil. Season the chicken breasts with salt and pepper and cook them for 1-2 minutes on each side, until nicely browned but not cooked all the way through. Remove the chicken to the slow cooker. In a large bowl, combine all the other ingredients. Whisk well. Pour the sauce over the chicken. Cover the crockpot and cook on low for 6 hours. Serve over brown rice or noodles and a mixed green salad. Yummo!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Recipes That Remind Me Of Fall, Part I

To pay homage to the upcoming autumn season (I saw the first changing leaf outside today, so yes, I am boldly proclaiming the days of 100 degree weather are officially behind us), I thought I'd blog a few of my favorite fall recipes for your reading enjoyment - and tasting delight.

Though I know dessert is technically the last course, this recipe deserves to go first because it is died-and-gone-to-heaven delish. Spiced pumpkin cake with a cream cheese filling? You. Betcha.

Image and recipe compliments of my favorite recipe source, The Kitchen Cafe

And besides, I saw my first pumpkins of the season at a roadside farmer's market this past weekend. AND I bought my first set of mums, so like it or not summer, I've moved on. :)

Perfect Pumpkin Roll
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
3 eggs
2/3 cup mashed (canned) pumpkin
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup powdered sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 15 X 10-inch jelly roll pan. Cut wax paper to fit the bottom of the pan and leave an inch overhang on each of the short ends of the pan. Lightly grease the wax paper and sides of the jelly roll pan.

Mix the sugar, flour, salt, soda, cinnamon, eggs and pumpkin in a large bowl. Once mixed, pour mixture over the waxed paper. Sprinkle the walnuts, if using, on top of the mixture. Bake for 14-15 minutes until edges pull away from the sides of the pan and center is done.

Lay a large dishtowel on the counter top (it is best to use a dishtowel without any texture – a tea towel or similar towel works best). Spread a thick dusting of powdered sugar all over the towel. When the cake comes out of the oven, turn the pan upside down on the powdered sugar-laden towel so the wax paper is on the top. Gently peel off the wax paper, being careful not to tear the roll. Starting at one of the short ends, roll the pumpkin cake up with the towel to cool. While the roll is cooling, mix the cream cheese, butter, vanilla, and powdered sugar together until it is light and creamy. Once the roll is cool, unroll and with an offset spatula, carefully spread filling in an even layer over the cake. Roll it up without the towel and place in the refrigerator (covered with plastic wrap or wax paper) for about an hour before serving.

Bon appetit, blogettes!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

All's Well with Caldwell

So I had the pleasure of meeting Vanderbilt's head football coach, Robbie Caldwell, last night. And might I just say that he is the most unassuming, down-to-earth, kind-hearted man you've ever met. He's not afraid to talk about his love of fried chicken and collard greens in the same breath as his plans of change for the offensive line. He also uses a "tough love" method that I just KNOW will get our boys on the road to recovery after their first two heartbreaking losses this season. They'll be headed down to the Grove to take on Ole Miss on Saturday (still can't believe I've never been to Oxford - I'm ashamed to even call myself a southerner) and I will be rooting them on with all I've got. Go 'Dores!!!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Games Galore!

So as you know, Labor Day Weekend was like football overload. Yes, please, I'll have another. Starting Thursday night and going all the way through Monday night, we did the football thing every day except Sunday (because after all, it is the Lord's day and you're supposed to rest). From the Titans to the Saints to the Commodores to the Hokies, I loved every first-down, quarterback-sacking, crowd-cheering minute of it. The only thing that could have made it better was to watch my Crimson Tide. But I got the next best thing - more on that a little later in the post. Yes, the dawn of fall is slowing creeping into my favorite time of the year. Summer, you were just a little too hot and sticky this year. Fall, welcome to the first place position.

What's that? You want to see photos of our weekend adventures? Well it just so happens I had my camera to document our fun-filled days. Come on, don't act surprised. I'm like a tourist!

So let's begin with the Titans/Saints game. Yes, I'm wearing black and gold in support of my saints, and yes, I made Mr. T do the same. I loved to see those saints come marching in - especially from our third row seats. High rollers, we are. Okay, okay, the tickets were given to us by one of Mr. T's clients at the last minute. But still, we felt like VIP.

Saturday dawned as the most beautiful day Nashville had ever seen. I think all of nature was rejoicing the return of football. Seriously - no humidity, highs in the 80's, a slight breeze - it was heaven sent. And our sweet little parking pass (again, compliments of Mr. T, that boy has some sweet connections!) right outside Vandy's stadium allowed us to set up a little tailgate and cornhole action. The plan was to head out a couple of hours before the game but because it was so gorgeous outside, we loaded up the grill and got out early to enjoy the day. Justin and Dan were in charge of the food for the tailgate, and I have to give the boys props - they did a most excellent job. As for me, I brought the alltime tailgate favorite...Firefly!

We even brought Dan's dog (and let's face it, my adopted dog) along for the fun. He was in his element and romped around like he owned the place, greeting all the football fans as they arrived. That dog makes friends wherever he goes. And he's cute, so he got his own close up.

Sunday dawned with the promise of even more college football, and possibly one the most hyped up games of the weekend - Virginia Tech vs. Boise State squaring off at Fed Ex Field in Maryland. Never one to miss an opportunity to tailgate with his brothers, Mr. T and I boarded the plane to Baltimore and touched down a mere 1.5 hours later. I love you, Southwest.

I convinced the crew to drive into DC for a late dinner at the fabulous Founding Farmers that I was introduced to on my recent girls trip. Again, the place did not disappoint. My seared diver scallops served over butternut squash risotto were so scrumptious, I didn't even order dessert. And that never happens.

But the BEST part of the meal was when I look over and right smack dab next to our table, the one and only Shaun Alexander (former running back for Alabama in the late 90's) is seated with his sweet little wife. Ever the one to be starstruck, I immediately started devising my plan for meeting him. So as we left our seats, I nervously approached his table and introduced myself. Oh, he couldn't have been any nicer. He asked me where I went to high school, we talked about Tuscaloosa, and he introduced his wife. And all the while, I completely forget to introduce Mr. T, who is patiently standing there beside me with the camera ready. Whoopsie. Sorry, dear. But when I ask Shawn for a photo, hoping he's not completely annoyed that I've interrupted his dinner (he got the southern fried chicken that I got last time, by the way) he gets up from the table and poses with me, so that I can capture THIS:

Don't you just LOVE it? He is a total class act. And yes, this may be my new screensaver.

Mr. T and I slept in until 10:30 on Monday morning (how I wish I could do that every Monday) and then started preparing for Tailgate #2. Even several hours before the game, the traffic heading towards Fed Ex Field was bumper to bumper for miles. After some impressive maneuvering by our buddy Ben, we arrive on the second row of the parking lot, with the stadium about 50 feet behind us. I still can't believe we got so close.

The brothers and their wives: Chris, Treva, Chuck and Debbie. See the stadium behind?

Mr. T and me - not sure why we're doing a prom pose here.

Football must make us affectionate. :)

Again, nice job on the seats, husband. Love this shot of the band spelling out the VT logo just before the core of cadets came on field for the national anthem. It was so loud inside of that stadium, and the fans were HYPED. And yes, I did cheer for the Hokies and even jumped up and down to "Enter Sandman" along with the 60,000 other VT fans. It was a heartbreaking loss. Boise State, I hope you do make it to the National Championship so Bama can demolish you.

As for THIS weekend, I plan to park it in front of my flatscreen and watch ESPN GameDay in all it's glory starting bright and early tomorrow from Tuscaloosa for the Penn State/Alabama matchup. Coach Saban asked all fans in his press conference yesterday to please not boo Penn State when they come on the field, out of respect to Joe Pa and to the team. Atta boy, Coach.

Let the weekend begin!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Hair. Crisis.

Remember my post a few weeks ago about my upcoming haircut? Well friends, it turned into an all-out, holy cow, where is the closest baseball cap crisis. And as always, I come prepared with proof.

I had SKUNK STRIPES, y'all. And before you go all "oh, Lillian, it's not that bad" on me, let me assure you that this photo was taken by iPhone and does not EVEN do it justice. I tried to like it, really I did, but I felt like an indecisive blonde poser who couldn't quite decide whether to go blonde or not. It was a hair-tastrophe. And my poor Mr. T kept trying to reassure me with the ole "change is good" line. Not when your highlights look like they're straight out of the early '90s, my dear. So thank my lucky stars that my new best friends over at Yogi's salon swooped in with their color correcting hands and saved the day early Saturday morning (after I nearly scared myself when I sleepily looked in the bathroom mirror and saw it had somehow managed to get even worse overnight), and tamed that nastiness down just in the nick of time before the tailgating and out-of-towning began. Because I was not about to leave the house if they couldn't save me.

So now I bet you're wanting an after picture, right? Well, I wish I had one to share with you of my hair in all it's color-corrected glory, but sadly, I do not. But I promise to work on that this week/weekend and hopefully, you'll agree that it was a major improvement. If not, lie to me and say you like it because changing your hair twice in two days is not cheap, my friends. I could kill Mr. T for his $15 Great Clips haircut, that works out well everytime. If only...

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Fall = Football

Well hello, September! So very nice to see you again. I like when you come around because it can only mean one thing - FOOTBALL! And though I am 100% girl in every imaginable way, there is little sweeter than the sound of ESPN Gameday each Saturday morning from now til November. (And yes, life is a wee bit better when your team is ranked #1 in the pre-season rankings after winning a national championship. A game that I watched while on my honeymoon, mind you.

What can I say, I Roll Tide whereever I go. Even in Mexico.)

In fact, because that was such a sacred moment, let's pause a moment and pay our respects to Coach Saban and his winning crew, shall we?

So to kick off football season in style, I'm happy to report my wonderful husband found two tickets for the Titans/Saints game tomorrow night. And yes, I know it's a pre-season game but it's the SAINTS, people. As in Super Bowl Champs. As in the city that just marked the five year anniversary from an atrocity called Katrina. They SO deserved that victory. Let's take a moment and rewind back to February for two of my most favorite images of that sweet win.

You deserve it, Coach Payton.

And you're the man, Drew Brees.

Now I must admit, I'm not a huge Titans fan. I feel like you can only have one true allegiance in both college and pro football and mine happens to be the Crimson Tide and the Saints. In that order. But it is pretty awesome to live in a city that has a pro team, and it's even better when the stadium is a five minute drive down the road.

And it's even MORE better (more better? eh, just go with it) when the field doesn't look like this, thanks to the Flood of 2010. Hard to believe this was only four months ago.

And while we're on the subject of football, I'd be remiss not to pay tribute to the new Vanderbilt head coach, Robbie Caldwell. Who apparently had the reporters in stitches at Media Days. He even found out he became head coach while he was out tending to his farm. True story.

I happen to love Coach Caldwell for his rough and tumble, good ole boy nature. I think he's just what Vahn-de-bilt needs to get off their high horses and get some W's. Surely he can beat last year's 2-10 record. Come on boys, represent for the SEC!

And finally, because I know my husband does occasionally read my blog and I'm being a good sport, I'll give a little shout-out to his team too. Virginia Tech. They take on Boise State at Fed Ex Field on Labor Day, and we're taking a quick trip up to Maryland to see them play. Even though last year, as luck would have it, Alabama actually PLAYED Virginia Tech for the opening game in Atlanta. I mean really, what are the chances? We made the most of it and had a fun little engagement party before the game with friends from both sides of the football field. We even had the perfect cake to go along with it.

We agreed we would play nice and I really tried to minimize the trash talking. Really I did. But then, after a few gameday beverages, I was bringing it with all I had. Have I mentioned Mr. T has two older brothers? Which equals three die-hard fans? I had to fend for myself. Which is probably what I'm doing here.

But then Alabama proceeded to PLOW Virginia Tech and go on to have an undefeated season. Boo ya, husband. Let's not pretend I didn't love that a little. But now that we're no longer opponents and back on friendly turf I've decided to be a good sport and TRY and pull for the Hokies. Because those are the kinds of things you do for love.

Happy Fall, Y'all!
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