B’s Bites-An Awesome Appetizer Recipe

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There’s a reason why restaurants become chains…because the original restaurant was good.  I’m usually not a big fan of chain restaurants, mainly because I like to support locally owned restaurants.  I love when I can talk to the owner and see the excitement on their face when they talk about their food.  But sometimes, I do eat at chain restaurants, and when I do I have a few faves.  For instance, Carraba’s is an Italian restaurant that the hubs and I enjoy from time to time.  Our mutually favorite dish is the Chicken Bryan.  I’ve recreated it quite a few times.  It’s simple and yummy.  It’s a grilled chicken breast with goats cheese and sun-dried tomatoes, served over fettuccine alfredo.  How can you go wrong with that combo?  Which got me thinking…what if I took these fabulous ingredients and re-created them into a bite size appetizer?  So I tried it tonight and was not disappointed.  I hope you try them and enjoy them.

B’s Bites

Serving Size-24 bites

Ingredients:

1 1/2 pounds of Skinless, Boneless Chicken breasts-sprinkled with salt, pepper and garlic powder

4 oz. Plain Goats Cheese-Room Temperature

4 oz. Cream Cheese-Room Temperature

4 oz. Shredded Mozzarella

1 Cup Italian Bread Crumbs

6 oz Sun-Dried Tomatoes packed in Oil, Drained and Chopped Fine

Olive Oil

Canola Oil

Lightly coat a grill pan with olive oil and grill chicken breasts until done.  I had skinny chicken breasts and they only took about 2-3 minutes per side.  Just make sure that the juices are running clear before you pull them off.  Allow chicken to rest for at least 5 minutes before you shred it.  I used a fork and knife to shred to the consistency of NC bbq.  In the meantime, place all cheese in one bowl.  Chop the Sun Dried tomatoes and add to cheese.  Combine well before adding in the chicken.  Fold in the chicken.  The heat of the chicken will help to combine everything.  Form mixture into bite sized balls.  (About the size of a sausage ball)  I found that squeezing them a little helped with the consistency.  Roll the balls into Italian bread crumbs.  Coat well and sit to the side.  Once balls are rolled let sit for about 2 minutes.  At the same time, bring a large frying pan with about 2 inches of canola oil to a nice hot.  Medium-to High heat depending on your stove.  You want to make sure that when you drop in the first ball that it immediately sizzles.  Otherwise they’ll be greasy.  I kept the oil hot and it took me 3 batches to heat them.  Remember they are already fully cooked.  You are just browning the outside.  Depending on how hot your oil is, it will take about 1 minute per side.  Don’t overcook like I did my last batch.  I added a little extra shredded mozzarella at the end. It’s hard for me to hold back on the cheese. Drain on paper towels. Serve warm and enjoy!

 

 

Painting with the Master

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As many of you know, I am a big fan of Don Marlowe’s work. I have quite a few of his pieces in my home. A couple of weeks ago, I was sent an email that he would be teaching a 3 hour watercolor class locally. Naturally, I signed up. This morning I eagerly packed my watercolor supplies in a bag, and took off to meet some friends that were joining me for the class. Our first assignment was to work on painting an assortment of fruit. I have to admit that I have always done poorly with painting fruit, but with Don’s instruction, I had much better results than my usual fruit still life.
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My friend Jennifer did the best job. I really loved her composition.
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Our next task was to paint a vase full of roses. My sister’s painting turned out beautiful. I loved how soft and delicate her flowers turned out.
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Jennifer’s version was quite lovely, too. I love her use of color in her compositions.
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It was a great way to spend the morning, learning and painting with the master.
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I Love Them All

Books are my friends. They tell me the best stories. They make me laugh and cry. They keep me in suspense. They scare the living daylight out of me sometimes. Sometimes I really learn from them. I love all types of books. I may be slightly more drawn to a particular genre, but for the most part, I want to get to know a character. I do prefer that I love the main character, but even when that’s not the case, I still usually love the book. So last year I decided to start a small book club. I found myself asking the same few people for book recommendations and asking their opinions on different authors. It just made sense that these would be the women I would ask to join me for a literary adventure. I hit the jackpot with this group. We all love to read and we all love different kinds of books. My first official book club meeting started with me passing out pages of reviews on books that I found interesting. I thought we could make a syllabus for the year of books we would read and discuss together. Yep, there’s a little bit of a control freak here. The first two or three months we went off the list, but soon found that we all read so much that it made it impossible to discuss one book per month. Last fall we met at my sister’s house for a little “Porch and Wine Time”. She had a great idea for us to bring a bag of books that we had already read-books that we really loved. We passed them around, discussed what made us love the book/author, and started a new tradition of lending and borrowing to each other. This book club has become something really awesome for me. Last week we all admitted in a group email that we all had been so busy that we had multiple books that we had started, but none of which were consistent with each other, we decided to meet and just discuss our most recent read. It was such an awesome mix of books. I just had to share.
Book One:
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This book was written by Donna Tartt. About half of the group had read at least one or more of her books before. I think she has three total. The consensus was that one and three are her best works, thus far. I have only started the book and can’t give my personal review yet. I checked out the reviews on Goodreads.com and there seems to be a lot of controversy as to whether the book is good or bad. I find it really interesting to see that the book seems to either get 5 stars or 1 star. There doesn’t seem to be much middle ground. Oh well, I’m sure I will love it.
Book Two:
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So Karen Joy Fowler seems to be really loved in the literary community. Most of the reviews I have read have talked about her comic genius. I’m ready for a little comedy. This may be my next book.
Book Three:
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Momastery.com is the blog that will tell you more about this wonderful writer. She accomplishes what I hide from-she tells it like it is. When I started my blog, I wanted it to be uplifting and always positive. I guess that’s why I haven’t written much lately. I’m not being real. Glennon Doyle Melton, I’m glad to meet you. Even if only by word. If you need a little more “real” in your life, check her blog and her book out.
Book Four:
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Hahaha-I love that this book was discussed. I am totally a closet Bravo watching woman. Apparently, this book gives you a hard inside look on the abuse that was going on “behind the scenes” when Taylor was on Bravo. I don’t think I can handle that right now, but most likely I will eventually read it. My heart aches for any person that has survived abuse of any kind.
Book Five:
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Yep-The Darkest Mind looks like something I will have to tackle fast. It’s a “Divergent” style of book. This is the book my sister brought to book club-we both have a real passion for dystopia. Who needs utopia? Haha.
Book Six:
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Well, it’s not the most recent thing I have read, but it’s the last one I have actually finished. Andra Watkins has just published her first book and it was great. It’s one of those books that you can’t put down. You have to finish the story.
The Crew:
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Can you see why I love this group? Could we have more diversity? Books-I love them all! Happy Reading!

There’s Nothing Quite Like Your First

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I’ll be honest, until last year, I had never used a shoe cobbler. The truth is that I really want to take care of my things. I was certainly raised that way. I have many fond memories of watching my dad on Saturday nights carefully polish and brush his Sunday shoes in preparation for Sunday services. He would polish his shoes to a high shine and then carefully tuck them into little, fuzzy shoe socks. Me, not so much. As an adult I do own a shoe polishing kit and sometimes I even use it.
A couple of years ago I purchased my first pair of Frye boots. I was an avid follower of the Pioneer Woman. At the time, she was still somewhat ordinary like me. Now she’s on the Food Network with her own show. Anyway, I digress. Years before when Ree of Pioneer Woman was an everyday blogger…there were contests. Sometimes, she was cleaning out her closet and other times she was offering a new Kitchenaid mixer or Frye boots. I entered every contest praying I would win something fabulous. Alas, I never won, but something had happened to me. I was now in love/lust with Frye boots and had to have them. I used a part of my bonus that year to buy my first pair. I don’t think I can accurately describe my love of them. I’ll just say this…a lifetime warranty did not cover my love of wearing these shoes as often as I did. Last fall I continued to wear them, until one night when I noticed the soles and heels looked like they had been through a log chipper. I had since purchased another pair of Frye boots, but none would ever compare to my first. There was a new shoe cobbler in my neighborhood that I had not visited. As most of you know, I always want to support local business, so I thought I’d give it a try. I walked in with no expectation of having my shoes back to their original state, but I hoped that they could be repaired enough to give me one last season.
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This is what the soles looked like when I entered Sykes Shoe Repair:
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The young man assured me that he could bring them back to life. He told me that he needed a week to get them done. He charged me 38.00 upfront to do the job. I picked my shoes up yesterday and to my great happiness, they looked like new! He sanded and refinished the heels, put on new soles and polished out the many scratches on the leather. I teared up a little as he showed them to me.
Sykes Shoe Repair is located at 135 Oneal Street in Burlington, NC. The phone number is 336-229-7702. They repair worn-out heels, soles and partial soles on women’s and men’s shoes. They also repair luggage and handbags. Please visit them if you are a local and in need of shoe repair. My Frye boots should give me many more years of love, thanks to Sykes Shoe Repair. There’s nothing quite like your first.

You Rock Andra Watkins

You Rock Andra Watkins

When I started blogging a year ago, I had no idea that I would make so many friends in the blogosphere. One of those friends is Andra Watkins. I started following her blog last year, because I liked her writing. I liked her words and her perspective. I was blessed to meet her and her hubbie last fall for dinner when they were traveling in my state. To be honest, it was the first time I had ever met anyone in person that I had become friends with online. I was intimidated and excited. The two of them did not disappoint. We had a great dinner and talked a little about the book she was writing. I continued following her blog and as the months progressed, I realized that I was getting more and more excited for her and the fact that she was writing a book that I would hopefully see come to fruition soon.
Then she announced on her blog that she would be releasing her book! This friend of mine had done it! I purchased my book and waited impatiently for it to arrive. Once it did, I couldn’t put it down. I read it in one sitting. I loved it. I was so overwhelmed with happiness for her.
She announced on her blog that she would start a journey on the Natchez trail and encouraged us to follow her journey. Andra has been walking 15 miles a day, six days a week since March 1st. She is the first person to walk the 444 mile trace since the 1820’s. Yep, she’s that kind of awesome.
Tomorrow night she’ll be celebrating with friends the end of her journey in Nashville, TN. I couldn’t swing the trip, but I’ll be celebrating in spirit with her team of friends, followers and readers.
Although she will have finished her journey on the Natchez Trace, I know her journey has really just begun. I was going to write a review of her book today, but honestly, I don’t think I could do it justice. It’s fantastic and should be purchased and read by all. Thank you for taking us all on your journey. You rock Andra Watkins!

The book is “To Live Forever-An Afterlife Journey of Meriwether Lewis” You can buy the e-book or if you are old school like me and still prefer a book in your hands, you can purchase it on Amazon.com
PS The book is great! Did you get that? Buy it! You’ll support a fantastic writer and it will make me smile to know you and I can talk about it one day.

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