Monday, December 31, 2012

New Year's Eve Recipe Corner: Easy Party Cheese Ball

2012 is coming to a close and time for New Year's Eve parties to begin! I am serving up my recipe for my favorite crowd pleasing appetizer. I serve this easy party cheese ball with Ritz snowflake-shaped crackers for a fun touch.
"Southern Fried Bride's Easy Party Cheese Ball"

2 pounds 2% light shredded cheese

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 cup light sour cream

1 package light cream cheese, softened

1 teaspoon paprika

Coating mixture:

1 teaspoon parsley flakes

1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
In large mixing bowl, combine cheese, onion powder, sour cream, cream cheese and paprika. Mix until well blended. Form mixture into ball shape. Set aside. On wax paper or standard size plate, combine coating mixture of parsley and chopped nuts. Roll cheese ball over coating mixture until well coated. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least one hour. Remove wrap before serving. Serve with crackers. Enjoy!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

A Review and a New Year, New You Giveaway: Rodan & Fields skin care

The importance of skin care was taught to me by my mother and my maternal grandmother when I was a pre-teen. I have remembered that through the years and as a fair-skinned redhead, it has been even moreso important for me to guard my skin against products that can have a harsh effect on my sensitive skin. It is important to remember that using certain products which taut very good skin care benefits but are not suited to your skin type can have adverse effects on your skin.

There are so many products on the market in this day and age, which can sometimes make finding a right product or products for yourself overwhelming an process. Knowing your skin type is important knowledge to have. Recently my friend Amy Wilson-Culbertson introduced me to the Rodan & Fields line of skin care products.
Here's Amy, a Bama girl through and through. This picture was taken after she started using the R&F skin care products. She had me first fill out an online solution tool on her website so she would know just the right type of products to let me try. Based on my answers to the solution tool, she provided me with products from the SOOTHE line and explained to me about the benefits of using the products in this regiman. According to the R&F website, the SOOTHE products are clinically proven to reduce redness and irritation in as little as 5 minutes, with benefits that include shielding against the biological and environmental aggressors that can trigger inflammation and helping fortify skin’s natural moisture barrier, calms visible redness, and reduces irritation.

She had me first do patch tests with the products before I began using them on my face, trying each product on a small patch of my arm for 24 hours before beginning use of the products to ensure they would not be irritating my skin. I have now been using the products for several months.

I tried the Gentle Cream Wash, the first step in the SOOTHE regiman. I love the easy, non-harsh feel of this cleanser.

Along with this product, I tried the SOOTHE Sensitive Skin Treatment.

 The R&F website lists an attribute of this product as helping to neutralize the look of redness on the face. With my fair skin, redness is a skin trait that often comes to my cheek areas when I start my day in the mornings due to my sensitive skin type. I had seen other products that listed an attribute of helping to neutralize redness, and that always gets my attention. I have tried some, and due to the fact the product was not suited to my skin, the outcome often brought me disappointment. When I tried the SOOTHE Sensitive Skin Treatment, I immediately noticed the redness in my cheeks being neutralized without a harsh after-effect of drying my skin.

Amy also sent me with a sample pack of the ANTI-AGE Night Renewing Serum. 
What I view as one of the trickiest characteristics of having sensitive skin is trying to find a balance of using an anti-age product that will not irritate your skin. I have run into this problem for as long as I have been looking for anti-age skin care products. The harshness, the redness after-effect, itching and dryness are all characteristics that have happened to my skin when trying to find an anti-age product for my skin. I tried the Night Renewing Serum samples and contacted Amy to let her know I was going to purchase this product. I can't say enough about how I feel that this product has done for my skin. During the nighttime, I can feel a softness in my skin after using this product. When I wake up in the morning, I feel that same softness in my skin and see a healthy glow effect. I love that the serum is packaged in mono-dose capsules that have a single use of the serum measured out for you in each capsule.

A true test for me is not only the "no-makeup coverage" picture but the stage performance "wearing lots of makeup and removing it" test. Recently, I returned to performing in community theatre productions, which I enjoyed doing in Oklahoma for 18 years. I was elated to play a lead role in the local community theatre's production of the Southern comedy, "The Dixie Swim Club". Night after night of dress rehearsal full stage makeup, then performances in full makeup. Cleansing with the Gentle Cleanse Wash removed every bit of my heavy stage makeup and night after night, did not leave me with the redness after-effect.

Here I am backstage ready to have my stage makeup applied. I had been using the R&F products for 2 months and am shown with my skin cleansed with Gentle Cleanse Wash and the Sensitive Skin Treatment applied, no makeup coverage. I love the glow of my skin in this picture with no makeup and so happy for no cheek redness, only a healthy glow.

I am very happy to have been introduced to Rodan & Fields skin care products and have them as a part of my skin care regiman. If you would like to know more about their products, you can visit Amy's R&F consultant page here. Right now, all orders of $185 or more placed by December 31 will receive a free 30 day supply of ANTI-AGE Night Renewing Serum, valued at $44. Amy also has a special right now if someone signs up as a new R&F preferred customer with her, she will offer to refund the enrollment fee.

Thanks to the amazing Amy, one of you will chime in the new year by winning a jar of Rodan & Fields "ANTI-AGE" Multi-Function Eye Cream valued at $59!
According to the R&F website, this product combines powerful peptides to minimize the appearance of crow’s feet, help reduce the appearance of both puffiness and dark under eye circles while special optical diffusers instantly brighten the eye area.

Mandatory Entry:
"Like" Amy's Rodan & Fields consultant page on Facebook here and leave me a comment letting me know that you did. She has some great skin care tips on her page, shares R&F specials and has fun R&F product giveaways.
Extra Entry: Complete the following for 5 extra entries and leave me a separate comment letting me know that you did. 

Find out the Rodan & Fields regiman best-suited to your skin type by filling out the R&F solution tool on Amy's website here.

Entries for this giveaway close on Sunday, December 30 at noon EST. Good luck! 

Disclaimer: I received a Rodan & Fields "SOOTHE" Gentle Cream Wash and Sensitive Skin Treatment and an ANTI-AGE Night Renewing Serum sample pack for a review giving my honest feedback about the products. I also received an eye cream giveaway prize. I was not financially compensated for this blog post. All opinions stated in this blog post are my own.

Post-Holiday Recipe Change-Up: Tasty Tex Mex Lasagna

This Christmas, a loved one gifted me with a jar of Uncle Gary's Gourmet Pepper Jelly. I couldn't wait to venture in the kitchen and create a dish using this tasty ingredient. My "Tasty Tex Mex Lasagna" is a fun spin on traditional lasagna and the pepper jelly gives it the perfect amount of heat. This is a nice way to change up the post-holiday dinner time.  
"Southern Fried Bride's Tasty Tex Mex Lasagna”

8 ounces lasagna noodles

1 pound lean ground beef

1 cup Uncle Gary's Pepper Jelly
2 cups tomato sauce

1 (8 oz.) container light sour cream 

1 package (8 ounce) shredded Mozzarella cheese (reduced fat Mozzarella works great)

1/2 cup shredded American cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat 13 x 9 x 2 baking pan with cooking spray. Set aside. Cook lasagna noodles according to package directions; drain and set aside. In a large skillet, brown ground beef and onion. Drain well. Return beef mixture to skillet. Stir in pepper jelly and tomato sauce. In baking pan, layer 1/3 of lasagna noodles, then 1/3 of meat sauce, 1/3 of sour cream and 1/3 package of monterey jack cheese. Repeat layers twice. Bake lasagna for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and top with ½ cup American cheese. Bake for an additional 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let stand for 8-10 minutes before slicing and serving. Serves 6-8. Enjoy!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

A Birthday Celebration Toast: Dickie Brennan's Bourbon House Frozen Bourbon Milk Punch

I hope this finds all of you having a wonderful holiday season! I'm among those who have a Christmastime birthday. I often get asked the question, "Does your birthday often get thrown in with Christmas?" and I give the answer that when I was growing up and into adulthood, my family did a great job of separating the two celebrations and during the holiday season, took the time to make me feel like my birthday was a special day, as well.

Here I am at almost-age 4 in my Grandma Cleva's kitchen "helping" her bake my birthday cake in 1978. Even as a young child, I was in my element in the kitchen.

This year I decided it was the year for me to check something off my bucket list and visit New Orleans during Christmastime to see my Delta Zeta Little Sister Susan so we could celebrate our December birthdays together. I made the trip earlier this month and truly had an experience of a lifetime. As 2012 comes to a close, I will be sharing several posts with you about my time in beloved NOLA and reviewing some special books about this great city.

Susan and I designated the final night of my visit as the night for our official birthday celebrations. We had our special dinner at my choice for one of Bourbon Street's best restaurants: Brennan's Bourbon House. My husband and Craig had eaten there on our honeymoon and I fell in love with this gem of a restaurant with its divine menu offerings, second-to-none service and graceful dining atmosphere. This visit was just as amazing as our honeymoon celebration dinner. We sat next to the Brennan Family and I had the honor of being introduced to Dickie Brennan, proprietor of Bourbon House, who hails from a long line of New Orleans restaurant visionaries. Meeting him was a true celebrity experience for me. My dinner of paneed veal and crab was divine. After dinner, we were each served an elegant dessert complete with a glowing birthday candle. It was during this dinner that I was introduced to something so spectacular that it instantly became one of my favorite things: bourbon milk punch. I chose this on the menu for my birthday celebration drink. Their version of this Southern classic blew me away.

Here's a little bit about the history of this divine drink. It is traced back to colonial times. It became a very popular drink across the South. During WWII, the drink seemed to be seen less and less everywhere except New Orleans. It has long thrived in NOLA and I am so happy to have been introduced to it at Bourbon House, which is renowned to have one of the best recipes in the entire city and I believe it!

This year's birthday, although not an official milestone birthday, has been an especially reflective one for me. The arrival of my 38th year has made me especially mindful to savor the gift found in each day of living. Now that the stroke of midnight has arrived to welcome my birthday, I offer up a birthday toast. For my drink of choice, I was extremely excited to find out that Dickie Brennan graciously makes the recipe available for  Bourbon House's legendary and award-winning Frozen Bourbon Milk Punch. I happily concocted this delight in my home tonight and am proud to share their recipe as my pick for THE best frozen bourbon milk punch.

"Frozen Bourbon Milk Punch"
from Dickie Brennan's Bourbon House, New Orleans

4 cups milk
1 cup bourbon
1/4 cup vanilla extract
1 pint vanilla ice cream
Garnish: dash of nutmeg

Combine all ingredients and blend for 8 seconds. Garnish with a dash of nutmeg.

 Now for a birthday toast. To my readers, to my family and friends, to my Heavenly Father: I offer up the words of one of my  favorite quotes. This is by Ralph Waldo Emerson.

“For each new morning with its light,
For rest and shelter of the night,
For health and food, for love and friends,
For everything Thy goodness sends.” 

- Ralph Waldo Emerson 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

A Holiday Giveaway with Happy Clam Monogram

I am crazy about monograms and I am very happy to introduce to you a company that has captured my heart with their truly unique style and Southern coastal charm reflected in their amazing creations: Happy Clam Monogram. The owner Jenny has truly made her artistic dreams a reality with the launch of this company and along with a team of the equally-fabulous Tiffany, Katy, Lauren, Alex, Lorel and Tyler, the crew of Happy Clammers is complete.

Here are some of my favorites from among their creations.
This is their Acrylic Monogram Necklace:

 I love the craftsmanship displayed in their acrylic necklaces. According to the company, each piece is custom designed for each order, which makes it truly a one of a kind piece just for you and the necklaces are made from 1/8" thick acrylic making them delicate but designed to withstand normal everyday wear. The result is an eye-catching and graceful creation.

This is their Acrylic Monogram Keychain:

I love the beautiful customized design in a keychain that is delicate yet sturdy, and with so many colors to choose from.

Wooden Monograms:

They do amazing work on their wooden monograms, both finished in a variety of colors and unfinished, and look at how you can incorporate one of their 18" wooden monograms into a wreath project and it's even a pink and green wreath!

 Take a look at one of their newest creations: etched monogram earrings, priced at $40 and available in 32 colors. I love the elegant detail in this monogram design.

This holiday season, the fabulous staff at Happy Clam Monograms are generously giving a pair of their new etched monogram earrings, valued at $40, to one of you!

The winner will have over 32 colors of acrylic to pick from for this special pair of earrings for you or someone you love.

To enter, take a look at their amazing creations on their website here and leave a comment below letting me know your favorite item.

Extra Entries: Doing the following optional entries will get you 5 extra entries for each one you do! Leave me a separate comment for each one you complete.

1. Like Happy Clam Monogram on Facebook and leave a message on their Wall letting them know The Southern Fried Bride sent you, then leave me a separate comment below letting me know you did. They have fun giveaways you won't want to miss!

2. Share this giveaway on Facebook by sharing the giveaway link on my Facebook page here OR by posting the following link to this giveaway:
then leave me a separate comment below telling me that you did.

Entries close on Monday, December 24 at 11:00 am EST and winner will be announced on the blog and my Facebook page on Monday afternoon, Christmas Eve! Good luck.

Disclaimer: Happy Clam Monograms is providing a pair of etched monogram earrings as a giveaway prize. I was not financially compensated by Happy Clam Monograms for writing this blog post. All opinions expressed in this blog post are my own.

Holiday Recipe Corner: "Southern Fried Bride's Peppermint Wonderland Bars"

Peppermint has been my favorite Christmas flavor since I was a little girl. I look forward all year long to the variety of peppermint treats this season brings. I created this recipe for a unique cookie to serve during the holidays or for a fun addition to a gathering or holiday cookie exchange.

Budget-Friendly Holiday Tip: For recipes using crushed peppermint, I save peppermint candies throughout the year. At Christmastime, I place the pieces of candy in a plastic sandwich bag and using a rolling pin, I gently crush the peppermints.

                       "Southern Fried Bride's Peppermint Wonderland Bars" 

1 cup light corn syrup

1/2 cup sugar

1 (7 oz.) jar marshmallow crème

6 cups toasted rice cereal

1 1/3 cups Andes peppermint baking chips

1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract

10 peppermint candies, crushed

Line 13 x 9 baking dish with wax paper. In large saucepan, combine corn syrup and sugar. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until sugar dissolves and mixture begins to boil. Add marshmallow creme and stir well until mixture is well blended. Remove from heat. Add cereal to mixture, stirring until well coated. Press into bottom of baking pan. Refrigerate 15-20 minutes, then remove from refrigerator to add topping.

Microwave white chocolate morsels in large, microwave-safe bowl for 1 minute. Stir. Microwave at additional 10-to 20-second intervals,stirring between intervals until smooth. Stir in crushed peppermints and peppermint extract until well blended. Spread evenly over cereal mixture. Refrigerate for 15-20 minutes or until topping is firm. Grasp both ends of wax paper and remove cookie mixture with wax paper from baking dish. Place mixture and wax paper with mixture face down onto cutting board. Remove wax paper. Cut into bite-size bars to serve. Enjoy!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Book Review and E-book Giveaway: "The Black Shard" by Victoria Simcox

Earlier this year, I had the opportunity to review the book "The Magic Warble" by Victoria Simcox. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and was honored when the author contacted me to ask if I would like to review her sequel to the book, "The Black Shard". Endeared to my heart is the reason Victoria began writing in the first place. As the mother of a young daughter, she noticed a lack of stories for young readers with wholesome, empowering storylines and set out to write a book that portrayed a young girl as a heroine through battling and overcoming real-life emotions such as fear to see your inner strength.

In this well-crafted sequel, young heroine Kristina Kingsly is back, this time as a teenager. She deals with the same foes as in the first book, and it is because of the prank-gone-wrong played on her by one of the foes that transports once again to the magical land of Bernovem. The author weaves an enchanting fairy kingdom for the reader.

The first book in the series sees Kristina as a preteen heroine and I love how she transitions Kristina into a teenage heroine in this book through harnessing common teen themes, both in the real world setting of the book and in the magical world setting. Prince Werrien is back, this time in a sweet storyline with Kristina. "The Black Shard" itself proves to be a force Kristina must reckon with. The storyline involving The Black Shard I found to be a wonderful adventure in fantasy reading.

I recommend this book for ages 10 and up.One of my favorite themes is emphasizing believing in yourself and using your strengths to overcome difficulties. I view that as a very important message for people of all ages. You can purchase this book or e-book through Victoria's website or on Amazon.

Thanks to the author, not one, but three of you will win the e-book of "The Black Shard", just in time for winter reading! To enter, leave a comment below. Entries close Friday, December 7 at 10:00 pm EST.  Good luck!

Holiday Flash Giveaway: $75 MOO Inc. Promo Code

I was recently introduced to a wonderful online printing company, MOO Inc. through a local photographer. I love that they not only offer custom design for such a wide assortment of products including business cards, stickers, greetings cards and postcards, but they also share wonderful ideas for using each product and a blog full of ideas in their Inspiration Gallery.
You can view their Holiday Cards collection here and their Business Cards products here.

One of my favorites from their product line is the round labels. They can be designed with your logo in a wide assortment of fun colors.

Engaged couples: would these full color, glossy postcards not be perfect for fun wedding save the dates?
Their Greeting Cards and Holiday Cards allow you to upload your photos to design your own unique  greeting cards or holiday cards. 
They also have a huge selection of "Ready Made" designs for holiday cards that you can choose and then customize your greeting inside.
I love the throwback holiday design in this "Ready Made" design series.
This sparkle-loving girl was immediately drawn to the elegant glimmer and shimmer of this card design, featuring macro shots of shiny baubles by Rob Wilson.
Thanks to the fabulous MOO Inc. one of you will win a $75 promo code to pick out your favorite product to custom design! To enter, leave a comment below and let me know your favorite product or design in their collection. Entries close tonight at 10:00 pm EST. Winner will be announced immediately. Good luck!
Disclaimer: MOO Inc. provided me with a giveaway prize of a $75 promo code for one winner. I was not financially compensated by MOO Inc. for this blog post. All opinions expressed in this blog post are my own.