Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Pimento Cheese

Hello, my dears! I hope everyone had an amazing Thanksgiving holiday. Hopefully, during your days of feasting you were able to relax a bit too.

MD and I spent the holiday with his family. We all gathered at his Grandmother’s and enjoyed a beautiful day! My sister was here visiting, which made the long weekend all the more special. We began the festivities early with many appetizers, a few games and lots of visiting.

By now, maybe you’ve polished off the remaining leftovers and are ready for a scrumptious snack, and do I have a perfect snack for you!

 To add to the appetizer table, I brought a homemade pimento cheese spread. I haven’t always loved pimento cheese, and still don’t fall in love with it when I try the packaged kind from the store. This homemade recipe on the other hand is amazing. Amazing. Perfect addition. This is a cheese lover’s delight! And a cheese lover I am.


The recipe is so quick and easy and definitely something I’ll keep in my fridge often to snack on anytime. I added one fresh jalapeno which added another pretty color and a nice kick to the flavor. After mixing together a simple list of ingredients, you’re ready to spread this heavenly cheese on Ritz crackers and devour.

Cheers,
Christi

Ingredients:
2 cups shredded extra-sharp Cheddar cheese
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper (optional)
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced (optional, but I insist you do it!)
1 (4 ounce) jar diced pimento, drained

Directions:

Mix the Cheddar cheese, cream cheese, mayonnaise, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, minced jalapeno, and pimento into the large bowl with a mixer. Beat at medium speed, until thoroughly combined.

Spread over Ritz crackers and enjoy!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Igniting Northwest Arkansas


In keeping with the theme of giving this week, I wanted to share a very special assignment my co-workers and I have been given the past two years.

Our amazing leaders at Mitchell Communications Group divided us into teams, gave us an envelope of cash and challenged us to Ignite our community. Here’s a little more about it.

video

After a quick brainstorm, we reached out to LifeSource International, a local non-profit organization, to help guide us in the direction of a family especially in need this holiday season.


We briefly spoke with the family and let them know a little bit about what we were doing. We asked them if they would be free to meet us later that afternoon. They accepted, so we were off to shop!

First, we set off to fill a shopping cart with basic essentials and items they would enjoy over the holidays.


We also picked up a few gas cards and gift cards.


After our shopping cart was fully loaded, we were ready to check out!


We excitedly unloaded the groceries and were thrilled with our purchases.


While we were shopping, we had also been coordinating with a local restaurant,The Front Porch Family Diner, to have their Thanksgiving meal catered. I am so thrilled because I get to deliver their dinner to their home Wednesday evening.


It was finally time to meet the family. We introduced ourselves and hugged a lot. We handed over the gas cards and gift cards. Then we loaded her entire trunk up with groceries.


It was so neat to see her trunk full. In fact, we had to put a few things in the back seat of her car that didn't fit in the trunk.


After that, we surprised her by telling her she didn’t have to worry about preparing a Thanksgiving meal. We told her we had it all taken care of and would be delivering it Wednesday evening. Tears filled her eyes as she kept thanking us.

I know we were able to make a huge impact on her life that day. But I took away so much, too. I know my entire team did. It was such an incredible and emotional day. It meant so much to me to be able to do something as powerful as this. I am incredibly thankful for this experience. It reminds me that whether it’s big or small, giving back to others and to your community is so important and provides so much for both the receiver and the giver.

Luke 12:48:

From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required; and from one to whom much has been entrusted, even more will be demanded.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!
Christi

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Operation Christmas Child

For the past several years I have participated in ‘Operation Christmas Child’, an organization developed through the Samaritan’s Purse more than 40 years ago. Samaritan's Purse is a non-denominational Christian organization that works to assist needy people all across the globe through missionary work. 

During the third week in November the organization begins taking donations for ‘Operation Christmas Child’. OCC is a global gift-exchange project where you can choose a gender and an age range of a child and fill up a shoe box with a variety of gifts they will open on Christmas and enjoy throughout the year. It is such a small yet impactful way to bring happiness to a child on Christmas.

This past week, a few team members and I journeyed out with our OCC boxes in hand on a mission to fill them up with fun gifts.



It was a great joy to run around the store picking out neat items that we hope will bring much to someone this holiday season.



As we waited in line to check out, we all began to tell about the gifts we selected.



Every box was very thoughtful and unique.



After our shopping trip was over, I reflected on the many blessings in my life. I was reminded of the truly important things and how easy it can be to make a big difference in someone's life.


Monday, November 21 is the last day boxes are being collected. I encourage you to get involved and spend a little time this weekend filling up a shoebox for a special child.
Find out more about 'Operation Christmas Child' here! 

Cheers,
Christi

Friday, November 18, 2011

Tailgate Recipe #10: Pumpkin Bread in a Fan Pan!

Pumpkin bread is an essential during the month of November. I love pumpkin bread for breakfast, a sweet treat after lunch and then again in the evening. Nothing is wrong with that, right?

I have yet to come across a time that pumpkin bread doesn’t make sense in the month of November.

My sweet sisters-in-law recently gifted me this really neat silicon Razorback Fan Pan.



It was so easy to use and the Razorback came out really great!

I forgot to take a photo, but I filled the pan up about two inches from the top to give it a little space to bake.

Here it is right out of the oven:


Take it out and flip it over.




This particular mold didn't require the entire amount of batter I made. You can use the remaining batter in a traditional bread pan, or make mini loaves to share with friends and family!


Guess what? You can get your own Fan Pan here!

They have a pan for any of your favorite teams! Go get yourself one!


Pumpkin Bread Recipe:

I don’t need a frilly recipe for pumpkin bread. I like to stick to a classic recipe.

Here’s the recipe I use:


Ingredients:

1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
4 eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
2/3 cup water
3 cups white sugar
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour three 7x3 inch loaf pans.

In a large bowl, mix together pumpkin puree, eggs, oil, water and sugar until well blended. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger. Stir the dry ingredients into the pumpkin mixture until just blended. Pour into the prepared pans.

Bake for about 50 minutes in the preheated oven. Loaves are done when toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Brussels Sprouts with Balsamic Vinegar Reduction

With only eight days until Thanksgiving, my menu planning, game searching and Black Friday shopping list are in full swing! I love the holiday season! 


We typically spend Thanksgiving with MD’s family. Although MD’s precious Grandmother prepares more than enough gourmet cuisine, I always arrive with dozens of goodies to add to the buffet for us to enjoy over the holiday weekend.

I’ve been spending this week testing out new recipes to add to my list. Last night was a success with roasted Brussels sprouts with goat cheese and candied pecans and a balsamic vinegar reduction.

This was a super easy dish that can easily be whipped together while enjoying time with family.

Begin with Brussels sprouts, pecan pieces, goat cheese, olive oil, salt and pepper.


After you’ve washed the Brussels, cut the ends off and then slice in half.


Toss in a bowl, pour in the olive oil and sprinkle the salt and pepper.


(I was already beginning to taste test at this point.)

After they are fully coated, Place on a baking sheet cut side down.


After 10 minutes, remove from oven and flip. Add pecans.


Bake for 10 more minutes, then remove from oven and set aside.

Balsamic Vinegar Reduction

You only need two ingredients for this; brown sugar and a nice balsamic vinegar.


Bring the balsamic vinegar to a boil over medium high heat and add brown sugar. Stir until dissolved.

Let this boil for about 20 minutes, or until it has reduced and becomes syrupy.

Toss the Brussels and pecans in a bowl, add the crumbled goat cheese. Drizzle about a ¼ cup of the balsamic vinegar reduction on top and serve.


This is a new favorite of ours and may be a new guest to our Thanksgiving meal this year.



Let me know what’s going to be on your plate this Thanksgiving!

Cheers!
Christi



Brussels Sprouts:

1 lb. fresh Brussels Sprouts

¼ Olive Oil
Salt and pepper
½ cup candied (or roasted) pecans
½ cup goat cheese crumbles

1. Preheat oven to 375°F.

2. Trim the end, then cut Brussels sprouts in half.
3. Toss in a bowl with olive oil to coat evenly and salt and pepper to taste.
4. Lightly oil a sheet pan, then spread out Brussels sprouts, cut side down. Roast in oven for 10 min., flip the sprouts to cut side up, add pecans and roast for about 10 minutes more or until gently browned.
5. Pour in a serving dish and toss in goat cheese crumbles.

Balsamic Vinegar Reduction:

2 cups balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup brown sugar

1. Over medium high heat bring vinegar to a boil.
2. Stir until sugar is dissolved and continue to cook until reduced and syrupy.

Monday, November 7, 2011

'Tis the Season: Bella Flora Florist

As I’ve mentioned in my ‘Meet Christi’ bio, and as most of you may already know, I have an incredibly talented younger sister who owns her own florist shop in Little Rock, Ark.


After attending the American Flora Art Design School in Chicago in January 2008, she journeyed back to Arkansas and began working at Sherwood Florist. During her employment there, she gained valuable experience from her talented boss and quickly realized her own talent and the work she was capable of producing. While back in Arkansas, she continued school and graduated from the Arkansas Master Florist program.

After much thought, careful consideration and an extremely supportive family backing her, she opened her very own shop, Bella Flora Florist, LLC.

Kayla Mustacci, Owner and Arkansas Master Florist

Nearly two years since opening the doors to Bella Flora, her business is doing great! She very much enjoys delivering stunning arrangements hoping to put a smile on someone’s face.


There are a few times each year where she finds herself particularly busier than others; Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, summer months celebrating brides and of course November and December when people begin to excitedly prepare for Christmas.

I am beyond proud of all that my sister has accomplished and constantly impressed by the thoughtful, unique and stunning work that comes out of her doors. I wanted to give her a (surprise) shout out here on Christi’s Chirps to show off what has already begun in her own Christmas workshop.

Each November and December Kayla fills her books with home decorating appointments and orders to help clients fill their homes and offices with Christmas Cheer.

Custom orders are available!

Fill your holidays with beautiful decor. Order your wreath today or take advantage of other floral and holiday ideas and services offered by Bella Flora!


Wreaths are a very popular item and also serve as excellent gifts.






The front of her shop is already decked out with a beautiful window display.



Here are a few wreath orders that have already been placed:

















I can confidently guarantee that you will be beyond pleased if you choose to place an order with Bella Flora, regardless of the occasion. Her prices are very competitive and are sure to fit any budget.

Swing by her shop if you’re in the area or give her a call! Deliveries are always available in the Little Rock and Maumelle areas and in Northwest Arkansas during the months of November and December. 


Mail orders are also available!

I hope you’ll consider her for your next floral need!



Shop: 501.868.1103
Location: 14710 Cantrell Drive, Little Rock, AR 72223

You never know. These two might show up on your doorstep with your delivery.




Happy Holidays!

Cheers,
Christi