Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Give me all the Mexican; Top Five Recipes + More

It's no secret that I love mexican.
I'd eat it for every meal if I could.
Nothing will top going out to mexican places but I have been loving testing out some recipes at home.
Today I thought I'd share two new ones + three old ones + my "still try to make" list.
Appetizers, Soups, Meals, Everything! 

Now that I think of it this post probably would have been a good one for Cinco De Mayo,
Oh well!
The more mexican recipes, the better!

Up first my two favorite and ultimate go to recipes.

My Mexican Dip: 
This is my go-to if I need an easy appetizer (not even only for mexican meals).
I've never heard of one person who didn't love it.
Like my family of five people polished off two dishes one night it was that good.
We only had that moment of weakness once though. 
Makes enough for a large pan or two medium circle tins (save one for later, it freezes well!)

Oven Enchiladas:
This was the first homemade meal I made in our new house.
It's now a huge favorite of ours.  Like we were eating it every other week at one point.
This also freezes well; there's actually a pan in our freezer now.
The deliciousness is in the sauce, so don't skimp on that!

Another mexican recipe I've shared in the past is:
cheesy chicken tortilla soup

Now onto the new(er) two recipes we've tried… 

Chili's Copycat Salsa:
Why did I not ever make this before!! 
All of my friends and family know that there's few things I love more than the salsa at chili's.
I don't know why but I have an addiction. 
I was thrilled to find this recipe.  Other than adding a couple extra jalapeños, it was pretty spot on.
This recipe also makes a large amount so it would be great for entertaining.
Best if served with a margarita 
2 cans (14.5 ounce each) whole tomatoes, drained
3-4 canned jalapeños (not pickeled)
1 yellow onion, quartered 
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon sugar
2 teaspoons lime juice
*I couldn't find these so I just got a jar of cut jalapeños and sed my judgement, but again, next time I'd use a few less

Place all of the ingredients in a food processor or blender (I used blender and it worked great).
Blend until smooth.
Serve with tortilla chips.

Mexican Casserole:
Another success! Also very similar to the oven enchiladas.
It's basically the same ingredients, just thrown together in a different way.
1 pound ground beef
1 package taco seasoning
1 dozen tortilla 
1 can chopped olives
1 (10 ounce) can cream of mushroom soup
1 (10 ounce can cream of chicken soup
1 (10 ounce) can enchilada sauce 
1 pound shredded cheddar cheese
1 can diced green chilies
Optional garnishes: sour cream, guacamole, salsa

Brown the beef 
Mix in taco seasoning
Mix together soup, enchilada sauce, olives, onion, chiles
Add in ground beef and cheese
Cut tortillas into strips or sections and add them to the mix
Add to a greased casserole dish and bake for 45-60 minutes at 350 degrees
Garnish with sour cream, guacamole and/or salsa OR
set these toppings up as a "bar" and let people add individual servings to their casserole

Last up.. What's left on my "must try" list.. for now; 
It's always growing…
one // two // three
Chip & Dip Bar: This would be such a fun addition to a party. Really any party bar is a great addition but this one is fabulous. 
Mexican Lasagna: Does this need any further explanation?
Individual Mexican Dip Cups: I've been wanting to make these for a while; I love how they are little versions. It will definitely make for a cute display.
one // two // three
Crockpot Chicken for Tacos: I should have done this one a long time ago.
So easy! Every time I see this one my list  I just think the chicken will be so delicious and make the perfect taco.
Strawberry Margarita Punch: This drink is perfect for spring
Homemade Guacamole: I recently became very into guacamole and think it would be fun to make my own.

The list actually continues but these are some top quick/easy choices for now :)

Linking up herehere and here today.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Girls Weekend, Boys Weekend {Weekending}

A happy weekend, indeed! 
Derek headed to Maryland for some golf
and I headed to two of my favorite spots..
home and my bestie, Sam's house.
This weekend was definitely a good one; Sunday night was spent reflecting on blessings
 and an early bedtime.
Girls night photo from Saturday night

I love getting to stay over at home (I guess now I should be calling it my parents' house) even though I live just 15 minutes away.   Derek thinks I'm a little nutty but obliges sometimes so it was a no brainer when I knew he'd be away for the weekend that I'd pack up myself and Stella and head on over!

 My stepdad, brother and I are board members for my grandparent's foundation so we had an event to attend on Friday night for the local Penn State campus.  
A fun little night - cocktail hour then a buffet and we claimed a great hightop for the four of us, we were only missing Derek.
The night ended of course with playing with the pups. Both dogs were all smiles all weekend long.  Mom was overheard telling Nash "this is your house but she's our guest, be sweet" ha! It was great to be home, relax and have family time.

It's always so great to be home; my parents are always so welcoming and even got a new tv for my old room (since I took mine) because they were nervous I wouldn't be able to sleep without it.  I usually sleep with the tv on all night (weird I know, I like the little bit of light) so my parents would always tease me about the light from my tv showing under my bedroom door each night.
Such happiness being with both of my pups.  And being in pajamas :)
I slept in a little, Stella joined our walking group for the first time ever (only for a lap, but it put her right to sleep after!) and my mom made me breakfast! Great little morning :)
Yes, I did ask my mom to come out in her pajams to get a picture of Stella's first walk.  Being the great mom she is, she agreed.
I took of for my best friend (and MOH) Sam's house for the night.  Right away we set out to pick up the cookie dough that I mentioned on Friday and it did not disappoint.  Like the best invention ever.  Also in our adventures were lunch, shopping, relaxing on the couch.
The best invention.  Just as delicious as actual cookie dough or possibly better.  We each indulged in some during couch time.
Sam, her sister Carly and I set out for dinner at Sushi Lounge before heading out for some drinks.  Sushi Lounge was delicious, a fun atmosphere and will definitely be my go to spot anytime I visit Sam.
They had a fabulous drink menu! Two peach martinis and one regular.
We had a blast at the bar for the rest of the night; our other friend Gianna met up with us too.  The bar even had a little help yourself popcorn station and a live band! We stayed up way too late but had a fantastic night.
They always joke that my accent sounds like I'm from the south - so they asked on of their bartender friends where he thought I was from…. Georgia! Hey, I always wanted to be southern anyway!
Collecting my complimentary popcorn
We were addicted to watching early episodes of The Hills and got a good laugh about how terrible Lauren's fashion sense used to be and a couple of Laguna Beach too.. we love going back in time and watching old shows.

Once I scooped up Stella from her baby sitters (my parents) I snuck in a quick massage before testing out a new recipe for dinner and catching up with Derek on his weekend.  We were both exhausted, in a good way and went to bed so early.
I walked in to find the family room completely covered with toys - I asked if my parents took the toys out for them and they said the pups got every toy out themselves.

It was the best kind of weekend - I missed the hubby but had some great quality time with some of my favorite people and locations with a great girls night thrown in there.

Hopefully a great week is in store for us, more spring like weather and some great Easter festivities
(it's hard to believe Easter is this weekend!)

Friday, March 27, 2015

Fri Yay! {Friday Linkups}

Another Friday, another great weekend ahead!
We had one day of warm spring weather this week.  Okay, it was humid and rained a little but it got me really excited for the spring weekends ahead with windows open, outdoor activities, etc.

{One: Early Nights x2}
Monday night I think Derek and I were both in the house and home for the night by about 5:30pm and it was fantastic! The sun of course keeps setting later and later and it just felt like we had the most full night.
On the note of early nights, I don't know what got into me Wednesday but I could barely keep my eyes open! I was in bed by 9pm and it's amazing what a good night of sleep can do.  Thursday the things checked off the to do list were endless!

{Two: Reese, Be My Friend}
Reese Witherspoon instagrammed the photo below.  Seriously, as if I didn't like her before but now she has taco balloons!? That's a dedicated Mexican food lover.  A women after many of our hearts!

{Three: The Cookie Dough Cafe}
All my favorite people know I love cookie dough.  Love. I am in a serious search for this little genius invention this weekend. Why didn't I think of this, I could have been on Shark Tank if I did.  Well, Derek would have had to do the talking and pitch the idea. If you aren't a Shark Tank lover but are a cookie dough lover, read about it here.

{Four: Lilly Target Lookbook}
It's funny because when the Lilly Putlizer/Target collaboration was announced, April sounded so far off, now April 19th is right around the corner.  I think I'll make a decision on the line when it's announced but it looks like there's a couple pieces I'll be interested in checking out!  I'm most interested in the home items and the shoes, which I hope are comfortable! 
No matter what the line will most likely sell out asap.
Full look book (in case you missed it): here

{Five: Weather Means Walks}
My favorite workout is walking outdoors! I'm not a runner, I'll never be a runner but I really enjoy a brisk walk up and down hills, on a trail, etc.  Now that the weather is turning, it's time to get back to that! It's a great workout, time goes by quickly and I love enjoying the fresh air.  Win win win. I'm hoping to get my first one in this weekend.

I was trying for a while to upload a vide of Stella as Simba but it just isn't working and I value my sleep too much.. Maybe next week!
Visualize: Stella as Simba, Derek as Rafiki. The Lion King song in the background.
We've been playing this little game with her since she came home to us and she never seems to mind.

Happy Friday!

Linking up herehere and here today.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Easter Decor + On the Home Front

Now that spring has hit we are fully in "finish the house" mode at Casa de Sotherden.
A little background.. We closed on our house in July, had some work done in July/August/September, moved in in the midst of a wedding in September and furnished the house then we were ready for a break and to enjoy the holidays!

We did some decorating but not a ton; I knew when the time was right we'd finish everything - once the weather warmed up a switch just clicked and I was ready for all the house work to be done!  We've come along way; basically the whole first floor and bedrooms are decorated; we just need to work on a few little things as well as the bathrooms and basement aka "Derek's Man Cave."

We also have a bar in our basement that we call "Sotherden's Saloon" (I'll make sure to share that soon!) and we're working on making our deck nice.. we think we're going to call it the oasis.

I figured now would be a nice time to show only a couple of my favorite touches!

{Easter Decor}
I love a good holiday decorating session.  I was so into enjoying the dead of winter that I just skipped over Valentine's Day and St. Patrick's Day but I knew for Easter I wanted to do a little something.  And only a little is what I did. But at least we have some spirit!
I love our cute little bunnies next to one of our personalized signs 
The Easter egg jar was seriously the easiest decoration ever.  $2.99 bag of plastic eggs at Michael's right into the jar. {Sidenote: We use this jar all year round but empty it out for holidays.  So far we've added mini pumpkins and christmas ornaments.  The little bunnies are from Home Goods.
Glass Jar is Crate and Barrel - they have great jars!
Again, the easiest! Leftover eggs from above, some Easter grass and a basket that we already had.
I love changing out our little garden flag for each holiday and we recently finally got an "S" for off months.

For other holiday decor…

{Wedding Walls}
After I got this canvas of my bridesmaids; I knew I definitely wanted more for our house and to make a couple wedding walls.  Since I had already ordered one; I was on the email list to get great discounts.  Like 50, 60, 70% off discounts so I ordered a bunch for three different spaces in our house.  My mom also picked up some for her house - they are a great addition!
 These smaller prints are for above one of our dressers in our master bedroom.
 We have one set of steps, a landing with a huge wall behind it, then another set that leads to the upstairs.  I had NO idea what to do with the wall but I knew something had to be done to make it look homey.  Luckily the canvas sizes that were offered were perfect to make a little wedding wall.
 This little wall is one of my favorites.  It's right in our foyer and I can see it coming down the steps, when I walk out of the kitchen or when I'm in the  dining room.  It just makes the room look so much more full!

{New Favorites}
I found this little wreath on Etsy and it's the perfect addition! I love anything personalized and this did the perfect job spicing up our entry way to the basement.  Above the door is another favorite - a little sign I picked up in Media, my hometown and a place we frequent.  A lot. 
 I've been searching for a rug for under our kitchen table forever.  You know what they always say - when you stop looking you find it - and bam! We were running errands to return a rug I had ordered and happened to find this one AND a matching runner for less than the original rug.  Score! It also happens to match a rug we already had in our foyer.  Full set.  I love sets.  I love coordinating and matching.

{Etsy for the Home}
last year I was putting so much emphasis on Etsy for the wedding.  Okay and my new monogram. I've found so many cute home items recently though! 
{Upcoming Projects}
Anyone have any tips for painting bathrooms?! We're probably going to tackle the task of ours.. hopefully we're creative enough! 

Our other big project is getting some flowers on our porch and deck!  Our first time!