Friday, April 29, 2011

Crockpot salsa chicken

EASY RECIPE ALERT!

Ingredients
3-4 chicken breasts- raw and thawed
1 medium sized jar of salsa

  1. Place the chicken in the crockpot and pour salsa over the top. Make sure there is enough liquid to almost cover the chicken
  2. Cook on high for 4-6 hours, stir and pull apart meat every 1-2 hours
  3. Juiciest, easiest, most delicious meal yet! 





Jon was practically making love to this chicken...it was THAT good. You could even stuff it into a couple of tortillas and call it a taco! Great for salads too! Hope you enjoy!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Our wedding vendors

In this post I want to praise all the vendors we used that made our February 5th wedding more than I could have ever dreamed of! I highly recommend each and every vendor we used and hope some of you will use them too! Make sure to check out my previous wedding recaps to get more information/pictures!

Now on to the wonderful people behind the best day of my life....

This place is absolutely beautiful! It is a hotel and conference center owned by the University of Texas and sits right between the capital and UT Tower. I knew from the minute I saw it that it was the place I wanted to get married. Our wedding coordinator was SO great, she was the one who put all of my dreams together. We held both the wedding ceremony and reception there and Jon and I got to stay in the Presidential Suite on our wedding night. It is only a few years old so everything is new, modern and updated.

Flowers: LisaLyn Designs

These ladies were amazing! A friend of mine referred me to LisaLyn and boy am I glad I went. My flowers were exactly what I wanted and the centerpieces were breathtaking. Their team set up for the ceremony and stayed to help flip the room. Here are some pics of their perfect work!





Check out my dress post from last month, I love love love my wedding gown!






Travis is a friend of mine from high school and I was absolutely thrilled when he agreed to shoot our engagement pictures. We were so pleased that we asked him to shoot our wedding. The pictures say it all, he is amazing! Here is one of our engagement pictures to show you how cool his work is...



Ricky dj'ed my sisters wedding in 2009 and also did a party for my brother's school so we knew we were going to use him. He played tons of great music, everything from Frank Sinatra to Waka Flaka Flame. The two songs that remind Jon and I of our wedding are Yeah 3x by Chris Brown and Firework by Katy Perry. I get sentimental when I hear them!

Photo Booth: SocialFly

This was the only vendor I chose from the Austin Bridal Extravaganza and I am so glad I did! Their photo booth was huge (I was in there with about 10 people at one point) and very classy (some of the photo booths were so cheeseball!). It was touchscreen and guests could choose how many pictures and whether they printed in color, black and white or sephia. They had two attendants working our wedding and made us a scrapbook with all the pictures!
Mrs. Hart & Mrs. Newberry!

Cake: Austin Cake Lady

My sister and a few other family friends used the Austin Cake Lady so she gave us a great deal. We did not do a grooms' cake because we had petit fours, gourmet cookies and chocolate covered strawberries served family style right after dinner. The cake had 2 chocolate and 2 vanilla tiers and was covered in flowers (by LisaLyn).


Videographer: NewBlock Video

Randy was so awesome and we are very satisfied with our wedding video. I only saw him a few times over the course of the whole day and he managed to get so much footage! Be sure to check out our wedding video trailer (the actual video is about 50 minutes long). Below is a picture of me being interviewed...I hate the sound of my 12 year old voice!



If you've ever watched Platinum Weddings you know how much lighting can do to a room. It can totally transform a blank space into something magnificent and beautiful. Fortunately, the ballroom that our wedding was held in was really pretty...lots of natural light for the ceremony but I knew I wanted lighting for the reception. We had 12 orange up lights, 4 patterns on each of the corners of the room and an "H" monogram on the dance floor. I think the picture below does a good job of showing all three. My goal was for the room to look "warm"


My engagement ring and wedding band are both designed by Simon G and Jon purchased them together at Benold's Jewelers in Austin. I love my rings and wouldn't change anything about them! Jon picked them out on his own, good husband. Jon's wedding band is Tungsten material and we purchased it online at TungstenAffinity.com (he tried the same one on at Benold's and measured his size). They have awesome online deals!

Save the dates & invites: Wedding Paper Divas

I will definitely be using this site again! Their sister website Tiny Prints does cards, invites and more. I posted pictures of our invites in my wedding website post

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Pumpkin pasta with roasted veggies and chicken

Who says that pumpkin can only be used in the months of October and November? A couple of weeks ago I made pumpkin butter and it completely changed my life! Check out the recipe here, I swear you will love it even if you aren't too keen on pumpkin. I've been on a pumpkin kick and made a delicious dinner that included what else...pumpkin! I modified this recipe from Sweet Tooth Sweet Life, enjoy!

Ingredients
8-10 oz. bowtie pasta (original recipe calls for Carba Nada pasta which is a specialty low carb option)
1 tbsp EVOO
2 large chicken breasts (we love the bone in breasts from HEB, they have SO much meat and go on sale about once a month for $1/lb)
1/2 onion, chopped
Garlic salt (original recipe calls for garlic cloves but I improvised and used garlic salt for seasoning)
2 cups vegetables (I used zucchini and yellow squash, you can also use broccoli or carrots)
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
1 1/2 cups marinara sauce
2/3 cup canned pumpkin
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1 tsp dried basil


Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Cook pasta on stove top, drain and set aside
  3. Bake chicken breasts in oven (original recipe calls for boneless skinless chicken breasts to be cooked and added to the pasta but we chose to serve the pasta over the chicken breasts)
  4. Saute onions in the EVOO and add garlic salt for seasoning
  5. Saute the vegetables in the EVOO and add garlic salt for seasoning (cook separate from onions)
  6. In a large bowl, mix the pasta, onion, vegetables, marinara sauce, pumpkin and basil. 
  7. Pour the pasta mix into a greased 11x7 pan and top with cheeses
  8. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until cheese melts
  9. Serve hot over cooked chicken breasts
Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Hoppy Easter

We've come to a conclusion that Easter is Ernie's favorite holiday (maybe because it's the only holiday we've celebrated while having him) but he was loving it! Sunday morning we woke up, hit up the empty gym and came home for breakfast. I surprised Jon and Ernie with an egg hunt in our living room and hidden Easter baskets (just like my parents did for me and my sisters and brother when we were growing up). Jon had no idea and was having fun looking for the impossible to find eggs...42 eggs in a small living room, not too many hiding spots. Instead of candy, I filled each egg with a reason why I loved my hubby from the natural mow-hawk he rocks to his patience with me (thank you JH!). It was  a great way to start out such a precious day and celebrate our first big holiday as a family. Ernie was all about sniffing and putting the eggs into his mouth.



Jon's Easter basket was filled with new socks, Muscle Milk, Power Bars, a Torchy's gift card and my favorite...an onion saver! We read an interesting article about a year ago talking about how you need to throw away onions if you don't use the whole thing after cutting into it because an open onion absorbs germs and even disease. Back in the old days, people used to set out a half of an onion to prevent sickness and it worked! This state of the art $3 onion shaped container is supposed to keep the onion from absorbing anything and fresh for second use! Okay I may have bought this gift for myself :-)


Ernie's mini Easter basket had an Easter chick toy (which is permanently wet because he won't go anywhere without it), a rubber tire/rope toy, a hydrating rubber bone and a natural treat. I found the blue hydrating bone at TJ Maxx last week and it is a pretty cool concept. There are small holes in the middle that you run under a faucet so when the dog chews on the toy, they get some hydration (great for Texas dogs in the heat). We haven't given Ernie any treats up until now and want to save them for holidays and special occasions so he was all about it. It was an organic, peanut butter based treat and we broke it into 6ths and have been giving him a little at a time.

We went to the 1pm service at our church (Gateway Community Church) with my parents and little brother. It was an uplifting service, perfect for celebrating the life, death and Resurrection of Jesus and his unfailing love. Next weekend, Gateway is doing an interesting service called Q&A Sunday. Our pastor John encouraged us to bring our cell phones to text in any and every question we have about bible stories, myths, doubts we have, theology, Gateway in general, etc. I am really looking forward to it and you can check out their live stream of services and posted podcasts on their website

Below is a picture of my first ever decorated "Dress Me Up Plate". Growing up, my mom decorated her Southern Living Dress Me Up Plate for every occasion and got one for my sister a few years back. Unfortunately they no longer make them but my older sister found one for me at Michael's last year (and I am just now getting around to decorating!). It's hard to see but the ribbon has cute little bunnies and Easter eggs printed on it. Speaking of Easter eggs, we bought the dyeing tablets and vinegar but forgot to dye them. Maybe we will bust out some egg coloring this summer!


He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay.
- Matthew 28:6

Hart family Easter pic!

Last year was my last time to get an Easter basket from my parents (I guess the fun stops when you get married) but they gave us a sweet card and a Phil's Icehouse gift card! Woo hoo! 


We spent the afternoon at a family friend's home watching a bunch of kiddos hunt eggs and eating a giant meal full of potluck dishes. Overall, it was a wonderful day and I loved spending it with my family. I thank God everyday for the continuous blessings He gives me.

Check out this pic, I am thinking Easter circa 1992 or 1993...


I hope everyone had a blessed Easter!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Jon's Wigged Out Birthday

Jon's 28th birthday party was epic. Wigs, summer beer and fake mustaches , what better way to celebrate your 28th birthday?

Poor Ernie had no idea what he was about to get into

Here are some pics of the party pad before the madness began...

The spread!

Cake balls, peanut butter balls, mini cupcakes, mini corndogs, fried mac & cheese burritos (recipe to come), queso, salsa, onion dip....my mouth is watering! The tent cards are "Jon Trivia" and of course you can spot the hand made fake mustaches! I printed out tons of old pics of my hubby for our guests to enjoy. Check out his birthday post for more cute pics!

Jonny Hart through the years

If you've kept up with my blog, you know Jon has a slight obsession with dressing up so it came as no surprise that he was dressed in drag....

Yes Jon is wearing one of my dresses

Stache' master drinking game

Is this the most frightening picture you've ever seen?

Manly men

ZZ Top crashed the party

We were thrilled at the success of our first party in our new house and can't wait to host more. Poor Ernie was so exhausted considering he is usually cuddled up with his mama and daddy by 9pm most nights. He was all about the mustaches and was non stop licking the ground for crumbs and scraps! Little man slept like a rock (so did big man).





Oh and I almost forgot who made an appearance at the beginning of the night....

My parents rock!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Peanut Butter Protein Bars

This delicious and easy recipe can serve as a quick breakfast on the go, afternoon snack or yummy dessert. As I've said before, I try to find healthy-ish recipes with as much protein as possible to entice my hubby into jumping off the healthy dude diet. I've made these pb protein bars twice, the first time just to keep around the house and the 2nd, for Jon's birthday party last night. Check it out!

Ingredients: 
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup chunky peanut butter
1 tsp. cinnamon
5 cups bran flakes
**Optional, 1 cup craisins or raisins (I used a raisin medley mix)


1. Simmer honey and sugar on medium heat until it melts and starts to bubble. Add the cinnamon and stir until blended
2. Stir in the peanut butter until smooth
3. Remove from heat and stir in the bran flakes and craisins (do this slowly! add half and stir, then add the rest)
4. Pour mixture into an 8X8 pan and refrigerated for several hours before cutting into squares and enjoying!
**For Jon's birthday party, I lined mini muffin tins and made "balls" instead of bars!

Enjoy!



p.s. we like them better cold so we keep em in the fridge

Friday, April 22, 2011

Cake Balls!


If you've never eaten a cake ball, you've never lived. There are a few places that sell them around Austin but it's tough to shell out $3 on 1 when I could make my own batch for almost the same price. And they are SO easy!

I made my first batch for Jon's birthday in April and they were more like cake lumps. Buying a cookie scoop has changed my life and made my cake balls look like actually balls (not mush!).

Ingredients
1 box of cake (any flavor)
1 container of frosting (any flavor)
Baker's chocolate to dip (any flavor...you can also use candy coating if you want a colorful cake ball...fyi you can't dye chocolate with food coloring!)
**Optional-Icing and/or sprinkles to decorate




1. Bake the cake according to the box and let cool
2. Fun part-- mash up the cake and jar of frosting in a large bowl to form a dough. If there are burnt/dark spots on the bottom of the cake, you can toss those.


3. Let the dough chill for a couple of hours or until pretty cold and solid. 
4. Carefully form ping pong ball sized balls out of the dough (use a cookie scoop if you have one!)


5. Freeze the cakeballs until they are hardened. What I did was make the cake/dough one day then pop the cakeballs into the freezer until I was ready to dip.


6. Dip in melted baker's chocolate or candy coating and let dry on wax paper.


7. Top with sprinkles immediately after dipping or let dry and decorate with icing.  



Try to eat just one...yeah...impossible!






    Thursday, April 21, 2011

    My favorite wedding websites

    I think this is a sign that I am growing up...everyone around me seems to be getting married or having babies! Marriage- check....babies- hang on a few years :-). My Facebook home page has been blown up by TONS of engagement stories, pictures and videos the past couple of months, how exciting! Since I know there are lots of newly engaged brides out there, probably scared out of their minds to start the draining process of planning a wedding, I thought I'd share some of my favorite wedding websites and tools. Jon and I got engaged on July 15th, 2010 and got married 6.5 months later on February 5th, 2011...yep I managed to seamlessly pull off a 150 person wedding in less than 7 months (*patting self on back hehe). I would love to give myself all the credit but it sure does make it easy when your sister got married the previous year and sent me 25 giant Excel files of wedding planning info the day after we got engaged (THANK YOU CORI!). Anyway, we had no reason for waiting and knew we wanted a short engagement and it turned out to be the perfect amount of time. Although married life is a BILLION times better than dating/engaged life, I get a tiny hint of sadness looking at my wedding pictures, thinking about how much fun it was to be the bride (maybe that's why I am dying for certain friends and family members to get engaged...I love weddings!).

    If any men got this far into reading this post, be prepared to ZZZzzZZZzz through the next couple of paragraphs but ladies, here ya go!

    Wedding Paper Divas- this is Tiny Prints sister website and the one stop shop for save the dates and invitations. They are reasonably priced, fully customizable and shipped right to your front door. We waited for a 20% coupon (they have awesome deals!) and ordered both our save the dates and invites (below). We did a postcard for our save the date with 4 of our engagement pictures on it




    MyWedding- this is where we made our custom wedding website to give guests details on the wedding, hotels, pictures, registries, etc. They also have tons of planning tools, blogs and etiquette guides.


    The Knot- the knot is the mecca website for wedding planning. From inspiration boards, local vendors and 100's of pictures of centerpieces, hairstyles and ideas, they have it all. I am pretty sure you can make a wedding website through them as well. 

    The Wedding Chicks- this is every DIY bride's dream. They have customizeable monograms, templates and downloads that will make your heart melt. I made a few different monograms for our programs, menus and table cards (which I designed and printed myself, programs below)



    Martha Stewart Weddings- Martha has some beautiful wedding pictures, ideas and DIY templates for every type and style of bride. I printed out this cute card (about the size of a business card) and it was placed on each piece of cake and served to guests, so cute! Our wedding coordinator left us a piece of cake in our honeymoon suite that we devoured the next morning after 3 hours of sleep.


    If there are any brides reading who need help with wedding related stuff or have questions, feel free to message me! I would be delighted to help!

    Tuesday, April 19, 2011

    Upside Down Dogs

    For those of you who spend your entire day on the computer, you can thank me now for the hours of entertainment you will get from this website. Jon discovered Upside Down Dogs a while back and we are obssessed! People simply submitting pictures of their dogs upside down...who would have ever thought it was this easy to get a good laugh. You can scroll thru the hundreds of pages of pups but I like scrolling by dog breed (would you guess that I spend most of my time looking at the Frenchies upside down). Below are some of my favorites, along with the most adorable video of a Frenchie puppy who can't roll over. 

    Amber the Visla- I love Vislas! Maybe because Julie from PB Fingers has one :-)


    Mac the Weimaraner- one day I'd love to have a Weinmaraner, their coloring is beautiful and their eyes are insane (when they aren't upside down!)


    Big Boi the French Bulldog looks like he's having one hell of a dream


    Here are some pics of my upside down pup....





    Enjoy!
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