Aug 27, 2014

Turkey & Swiss Sandwich Bake

This is the last of the recipes from our 2014 Beach Trip, but I'm actually going to post one more after this one -- from 2013 -- just because I was able to find it. But this one, this was a big hit with the whole family, and Kim said she sometimes even packs this in her kids' lunchboxes when they have leftovers.

She made one with tomatoes and one without -- and she also does a "pizza version" of it.

Turkey & Swiss Sandwich Bake 

2 cans crescent rolls
cooking spray
thinly sliced turkey
sliced Swiss cheese
sliced tomatoes
bacon, fried or microwaved

Spray the bottom of a 9x13 dish with cooking spray. Roll one can of crescent rolls out in the bottom of the pan. Press dough out to cover bottom of pan.
Layer in your filling... turkey, cheese, bacon.* No amounts, just add how much you like, according to Kim. (For the record, I am a woman of exact amounts. This kind of recipe is strictly for DAREDEVIL COOKS, in my opinion.)

Spread the other can of crescent rolls out over the top. 

In a bowl, beat one egg with a splash of water, and pour it over the top of the casserole, then tilt the pan to spread it around evenly.

Bake at 350 for about 15 minutes or until golden, then cut into squares to serve.

* Kim offered several alternative fillings that she makes at her house:

Croque Monsieur: ham, Swiss, tomatoes
Pizza: mozzarella, pepperoni, Italian seasoning (NO EGG on top)
Club Sandwich: ham, turkey, provolone, bacon
Ham & Cheese: ham, cheese, honey mustard (NO EGG on top)

Aug 25, 2014

'Hot Summer Nights' at ArcLight

If you live in Birmingham, you have simply GOT to try to attend an ArcLight Stories event sometime. The next one will be Saturday, Sept. 6 at Urban Standard on 2nd Ave. North.

I've been wanting to go for what seems like forever, but it's just never worked out. Until their August event, which coincided with several Internet friends being in from out of town. Laura McClellan drove down from Nashville with Amanda Bast, who had flown in from CANADA. I met them, Erin Moon and Jamie Golden on the Thursday night prior to ArcLight for some good barbecue -- only to find out they had run out of pork about two plates before they made it to our order.

So even though we made merciless fun of them for that, we ended up having a fabulous meal and a great time. No surprise there. 

The next night, I met them at Urban Standard (coincidentally, home to my favorite grilled-cheese sandwich in the city) for ArcLight. Actually, Amanda had flown home earlier in the afternoon, but we had a new addition to the group ... Jessie Buttram!

She's SO cute. She's @jbuttwhatwhat on twitter, and she was there as one of the Storytellers. Also a new addition that night? Elizabeth Hyndman (in the green shirt). (I love how my platform sandals made me look miles taller than everyone else in this picture. THAT'S A FIRST.)

ArcLight is an evening of storytelling, and each night has a theme. That night's theme was "Hot Summer Nights." It's never literal, but the stories are able to be tied into the theme in some way. Jamie opened up the night with a story, and even though I've heard it several times before, it retained its charm.

Jamie KILLED it. The room was rolling with laughter the entire time she was on stage.

I don't remember everyone's names, but they were great. This guy told a story about being in a bike accident while he lived in D.C.

He was a gifted Storyteller, too.

Then Carrie Hill told her story, which was a real HUMDINGER. I don't know Carrie personally, but she's friends with a local artist I really like, Sarah Miller.

Sarah and I have become friends through Twitter, and I was lucky enough to get to meet her at ArcLight, too!

Next up was a guy who's actually a coach at Nathaniel's middle school. His story was straight out of the TV show The Middle. I laughed all the way through it ... he cracked me up. What's not to love about non-athletic middle-school girls trying out for cross-country, throwing up all the way along the route because they can't hack it?

And then it was time for Jessica's story. She shared with us the story of the labor and delivery of one of her kids, and it was terrific.

If you can't tell, she's a natural.

She had everyone eating out of the palm of her hand.

Following Jessie was a guy who told a story about lifeguarding. In a surprising turn of events, just before he went on stage, he asked my name. I told him, and he ended up weaving it in to part of the story.

At that point in the evening, the sun had long since gone to bed, and we were getting ready for the last Storyteller.

The creator of ArcLight, Taylor Robinson, got up and said a few introductory words about the closing story and thanked the night's sponsors.

And then the night's final Storyteller took the mike.

He told the most amazingly beautiful story about his grandparents' marriage and the letters he'd found that they'd written each other during The Great War.

I could've listened to his story for the rest of the weekend!

Urban Standard was PACKED OUT for that night's ArcLight ... I don't know why that one in particular was so popular, but it was standing-room only.

Hope to see you at the next one!

Jamie made some cake pops for Elizabeth and Laura, who are known as "the coffee shoppers." I thought they were so cute, I had to get a picture of them.

Have you visited Jamie's cakepop site yet? No? Well, you're just nuts, then. She makes the most delicious, adorable cakepops, and she will ship them right to your door except during the hottest summer months.

Anyway, Laura and Elizabeth were totally smitten with theirs.

Katy McKay, a Twitter friend I got to meet that night for the first time, posted this beautiful picture of downtown Birmingham right after ArcLight. I love my city.

Get yourself to ArcLight if there's any chance at all that you can. You'll love it. I'm just SURE of it.

Aug 21, 2014

Big Green Eggs in the Ham

A couple of months ago, Grayson forwarded me an email from work telling me that he could request a family pack of free tickets to an event that weekend not too far from us: Big Green Eggs in the Ham. At the time, I didn't even know that the tickets were worth a lot of money, but I was sold on the fact that the email said there would be free food and inflatables. I emailed back, "YES."

So that's how we found ourselves walking up to Big Green Eggs in the Ham that Saturday morning!

Although it was about 15 degrees warmer than I would've liked, it was a gorgeous day out at Ross Bridge.

The basic premise of the event was that all of the chefs (amateurs and professionals alike) had to grill their dishes on the Big Green Egg grills, then set them out for all of us to enjoy.

You might think people felt limited by having only a grill on which to cook. You'd be mistaken.

This was one of my very favorites, but there were delicious pizzas, chicken and pork dishes, and even cookies. YEP, somebody grilled chocolate chip cookies, AND THEY WERE INCREDIBLE.

The kids definitely ate their fair share of the food, but they also loved running around on The Green at Ross Bridge. Somebody knew there'd be a lot of kids there, because they set up a simple sprinkler and just waited for the first kids to start running through it. Fully clothed.

Didn't take Jakey long AT ALL. He might've broken a land-speed record getting over there.

Right there among all the runners and jumpers was a ginormous Big Green Egg.

I took this before Jake's shirt and short became shoo short for him even to wear to the gas station.{UPDATED: I am dying laughing because I'm re-reading this this morning. I fell asleep while writing this post last night -- APPARENTLY WHILE WRITING THIS SENTENCE. And then I just moved on. So this makes no sense at all. AT ALL. Neither does the next sentence, really. Bahahaha.}

It didn't take too long before he was "fully engulfed."

I think Grayson and I had a bite or two of everything -- and there must have been more than 20 tents there.

Some of the meat just fell right off the bone when you touched it! This was another one of my favorites, but I can't remember what it was. June, Internet. JUNE.

We stayed for maybe 90 minutes, and then even the kids were dying from the heat.

We may or may not have grabbed a couple of extra cookies for the road.

Aug 19, 2014

Warm Fudge-filled Cheesecake

When Kim made this cheesecake at the beach this year, I thought I'd died and gone to heaven. It was UH-MAY-ZING.

That is to say, you should make it as soon as possible. And then you should bring it to me.

She got the recipe from, but it originally came from Southern Living. As most good things do. Because I'm a terrible person I -- yet again -- ate my cheesecake before taking a picture of it. BAD BLOGGER.

But you know what's funny? My friend Tina Cornett used to be a staff photographer at Southern Progress Corporation and did a lot of their food photography, and she happened to have shot this dish. So hopefully she won't mind that I borrowed her picture from Fun fact: Tina has taken many of our annual family pictures. And also this cheesecake.

Warm Fudge-filled Cheesecake
  • 1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened 
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla, divided
  • 2/3 cup chopped pecans (the original recipe calls for pistachios, but Kim uses pecans)
  • 4 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 4 large eggs 
  • 1 (12-ounce) package semisweet chocolate mini-morsels
  • Sweetened whipped cream (optional)
  • Garnish: chocolate shavings
  1. Beat butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy; add 1/3 cup sugar, beating well. Gradually add flour, beating at low speed until blended. Stir in 1 teaspoon vanilla and pecans. Press into bottom and 1 1/2 inches up sides of a 9-inch springform pan.
  2. Bake at 350° for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden. Cool on a wire rack.
  3. Beat cream cheese at medium speed with an electric mixer until light and fluffy; gradually add 1 1/2 cups sugar, beating well. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until yellow disappears. Stir in remaining 2 teaspoons vanilla. (Do not overmix.)
  4. Pour half of batter into crust; sprinkle with chocolate morsels to within 3/4 inch of edge. Pour in remaining batter, starting at outer edge and working toward center. Place cheesecake on a baking sheet.
  5. Bake at 350° for 1 hour or until set. Cool on a wire rack 1 hour. Serve slightly warm with sweetened whipped cream, if desired. Garnish, if desired.

Aug 18, 2014

Introducing ... Marcus

We made it all the way from April to August with our little guppy who was living in the Sprite-bottle terrarium, but he finally went belly-up last week. Nathaniel said, "Oh, man. I hope he died of old age."

I'm not sure what the lifespan of Wal-Mart guppies is, but I'm gonna say that four months is a pretty good run. And our snail was still alive, God bless him!

I was feeling bad about the guppy's demise, so the other night while Grayson and Nathaniel were on a Scout camping trip, I went to the pet store and picked up a few things. And when they got home last Sunday, we set up a new home for a new friend and our old buddy, the snail.

First, we washed off our colorful rocks.

Then we cleaned up our pretty little plant.

Next, I arranged it all in our new bowl.

Then I asked Grayson to assist with adding our new fish -- a Betta, or Japanese Fighting Fish -- to the bowl. He's a boy.

The kids were gathered all around the bowl, anxiously awaiting the transfer.

It went off without a hitch!

I took suggestions for names, and they all had some, but Nick was most vocal about "Marcus." No idea where that came from.

They wanted to feed him right away, but I wouldn't let them. The instructions on the jar are way different than the instructions the guy gave me at the pet store, so I'm gonna have to do some research.

They had fun watching him. For about three minutes.

That's how long it took him to do a couple of circuits of his bowl, and then he went back to being almost completely stagnant. Betta aren't the most active fish.

Still. Twenty-five dollars for three minutes of entertainment? You can't put a price on that.


I had a Betta in my office once that just kept me company and lived for a couple of years with no care other than topping off the water every couple of weeks.

Preeeety much hoping for something like that with this one, too.

Don't let me down, Marcus.

Oh, one other thing. I turned around to do something after the kids lost interest, and when I turned back around, guess who had DEVELOPED an interest in Marcus.

Yep, Scoutie had found him. I don't even know how he knew what was up there, but somehow he figured it out.

As it turned out, he seemed to really only want to have a drink. Not a taste of Marcus himself.

But I know I'm really going to have to keep an eye on the both of them.

I mean, I got a SIGN and everything, but I can't be sure Scout's gonna read it.

Fingers crossed.

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