Game Day Par-Tay

The University of Central Florida (UCF) football team isn’t exactly world-renowned. When our team is invited to play in a bowl game, it’s a pretty big deal.

Needless to say, the UCF vs. Rutgers bowl game in St. Petersburg gave UCF fans a great reason to travel two hours south from Orlando to party and cheer for our Knights.

Girls Gathering to Cheer for Our Knights!

Taco Night

On Friday night Ryan and I headed to St. Pete to my parents’ house to do some cookin’ and bakin’ to prepare for the pre-tailgating party we were hosting with my family the next day.

When we arrived, my mom had chicken tacos waiting for us for dinner.

Taco Spread

Taco Chicken

Taco Toppings

I enjoyed two hard shell tacos and a plate full of taco toppings and chicken in the form of a big taco salad.

Taco, Taco

Party Prep

After dinner I began baking and making some goodies for Saturday’s party.

I made walnut brownies with white chocolate chips and ooey-gooey Rice Krispie treats.

Walnut White Chocolate Chip Brownies

Sweet Treats

Though I wrapped up the goodies to save for Saturday’s festivities, more than one of the sweet treats made it into my mouth before they were put away for the next day. 😀

Pre-Tailgate Party  

Our pre-tailgate party was super fun!

My mom, sister and I worked hard to get all the food in order before everyone arrived while Ryan and our friend Ross (who arrived to our house on Friday night) left to pick up drinks for the party.

Food Party Table

Puppy Chow! (Peanut Butter, Chocolate and Powdered Sugar Chex Mix)

Chips and Guacamole

Party Table

The spread featured Rice Krispie treats, walnut chocolate chip brownies, pumpkin spice cookies, puppy chow, chips, salsa, guacamole, crackers, milk and dark chocolate and M&Ms.

Thanks to my mom for buying all the black and gold plates, cups, and utensils. I loved the festive UCF colors!  

Me and My Sister

Leslie wasn’t sportin’ UCF colors because she had to leave for a wedding, but she was able to stay and hang out for a little bit.

Mah Sister and Me

Ryan, our friend Ross and my dad enjoyed some beers while we watched Sadie and Ross’ adorable chocolate lab puppy Kona play and play and play.

Ross, Ryan and My Dad

Kona and Sadie Causin' Trouble

Sadie is officially the craziest dog in the world, so it wasn’t too long before Kona needed to take a breather…

Kona Resting

…followed by a nap.

Kona's Much-Needed Nap

How cute is this puppy!? Everyone threatened to kidnap her from Ross. She is so stinkin’ adorable!

When everyone arrived, we dug into the food and drinks!

Go Knights!

Hammin' it Up

We laughed a lot when we played a drinking game involving animal noises and motions. The picture below captures our animal roles. (I was an elephant.)  

Bunch of Wild Animals

(Please notice the wild dogs who continued to cause a ruckus throughout the party.)

We also enjoyed several shots, instigated by… my father! What a guy! 😀

Merri and My Dad - Shot Buddies

Group Shots

Father/Daughter Shot

Post-Shot Love

I loved eating, drinking and laughing with some of my favorite people in the world.



Takin' a Knee

(Our group likes to take a knee when we drink… stability, you know?)

Leah and Ashley

At around 3 p.m., we finally got around to eating some burgers, hot dogs, baked beans and pasta salad.

Hot Diggity Dawg

I forgot how good simple tailgate food can be!

The Game

After several hours of partying at my parents’ house, we headed out to tailgate with some other friends before heading in for the big game at 8 p.m.

Unfortunately UCF lost, but I had a great time with my family and friends and really didn’t care too much. 😉 Does that make me a bad fan?

All in all, yesterday was a great day full of good food, family and good friends! UCF should play in bowl games more often! 😀

Second Thanksgiving Meal a Success

The second of my four Thanksgiving meals was, in a word, delicious!

Ryan and I headed over to my friend Laurel’s boyfriend’s house for a Thanksgiving potluck party. Everyone brought traditional Thanksgiving dishes and we had tons of food!

Potluck Platter

Friends and Food

Within 10 minutes of our arrival we were diggin’ in.

My Plate

I went back for seconds of the sweet potato casserole, macaroni and cheese and stuffing… apparently carbs and I are lovers today. 😉

The dessert options included brownies, cookies, pies, a pumpkin roll, whoopie pies and more. I brought my two pies and the turtle pumpkin pie was a hit! I really enjoyed it and it got good reviews from other taste-testers. If you’re looking for an easy, tasty Thanksgiving dessert, you may wanna give it a go.

Turtle Pumpkin Pie

Yummy Nuts and Caramel

Yummy Pie

It was a fun time with wonderful friends. I’d say Thanksgiving meal number two was even better than round one. Round three will kickoff tomorrow at my work Thanksgiving potluck lunch. I can already feel my food baby growing.

Dusting and Decorating

Though I managed to gather up the fall decorations into a pile yesterday, I didn’t get around to transforming our apartment into a winter wonderland.

When we got home from the potluck party I got to work cleaning (as in vacuuming, dusting, scrubbing) because moving picture frames around to make room for holiday decor revealed just how dusty and dirty our apartment truly was… ick. I was on my feet cleaning and decorating for more than two hours, but our place looks ah-maze-ing!

Sadie was happy because her little Santa bear (in the form of a free Victoria’s Secret PINK beanie baby) resurfaced. Fun for all!

I also totally forgot I packed up some Christmas CDs with my decorations and enjoyed listening to Mannheim Steamroller and Straight No Chaser.

I LOVE Straight No Chaser. I think acapella music is unbelievable and this group is so talented. I know this video was very popular on YouTube a couple years ago, but if you haven’t seen it, you HAVE to watch. They’re amazing!

I got my whole family hooked on their Christmas album. They just released a new CD for this Christmas and my mom already bought it for us to enjoy over Thanksgiving. Woop, woop!

Week Ahead

Another weekend bites the dust. I’m looking forward to this work week… only two days… and tomorrow will be fun since we’re having our Thanksgiving potluck lunch. I am bringing one turtle pumpkin pie and some cupcakes.

I would be bringing two pies, but look what happened when I was moving stuff around in the fridge:

Fallen Pie

Pie down, pie down! What a bummer. Not only did I lose a perfectly good pie, but it also fell on the kitchen floor which I just cleaned. Luckily Sadie’s super-fast tongue licked up a lot of the crumbs and made vacuuming round two a breeze.

I will only be working two days this week. Ryan and I are heading to St. Pete after work on Tuesday to begin the Thanksgiving fun. My family and I are flying to Gettysburg early Wednesday morning to spend the holiday with my grandmothers, aunts, uncles and cousins. I love family fun and can’t wait to see everyone.

Crock Pot Chicken Tacos

After such a successful slow cooker meal last night, we decided to keep the ol’ crocker out for tonight’s dinner.

Ryan and I had a fiesta for dos tonight and enjoyed crock pot chicken tacos. Another easy-peasy recipe that only requires two ingredients (not counting water):

  • One pound ground chicken
  • One packet taco seasoning

The Goods


Place the chicken in the crock pot and top with seasoning packet and 2/3 cup of water. Stir and fork through the chicken so it’s not sitting in the pot in one big clump.

Let it cook on low for six to eight hours. The chicken will form into one big chicken patty, but that’s okay! Just use a fork to mash it up.

Taco Chicken

We enjoyed our chicken in tacos with lettuce, tomato, and salsa. I prefer hard shells while Ryan likes his soft.

The Spread

Taco, Taco

Maybe Ryan likes the tortilla-style tacos because he’s such a softie. Okay, that’s a lie. The man does not cry. Ever.

As Monica from Friends would say, he’s like Chandler and has no soul. 😉

"You're Dead Inside!"

As I type this, I realize this is a reflection on my lack-of-soul as well, seeing as how we’re getting married and are supposed to be soul mates. Ah well. I love ya, Baby! 🙂

After I’m done posting for the night we’re off to cuddle with Miss Sadie-dog and not-cry together.

Sadie does enough crying and whining for the both of us. I remember a magnet I used to see on the fridge of my friend’s parents when I was growing up. It read: “Would you like some cheese with that whine?” This would suit Sadie perfectly.

Are you a crier? Is your significant other a crier?

Key Lime Cupcake

Before I sign off for the night I wanted to leave you with a delicious picture of tonight’s dessert.

Key Lime Cupcake

I bought this cupcake from Sweet!, a cute cupcake and frozen yogurt shop, as a surprise treat for Ryan since I know it’s his favorite flavor. 

The icing is creamy and even has specs of vanilla bean in it! Wow-zaa! The cupcake itself has a creamy key lime filling. At the bottom of the cupcake is a sugary graham cracker “crust.” Oh-so-good!  

G’night BlogWorld! See ya in the mornin’! 🙂

Cake Batter Breakfast and Mixed Nuts

Holiday Movie Night Kickoff

The kickoff to our once-a-week holiday movie night (now through Christmas!)  was a success!

Holiday Movie Night

Take away the movie, add in some amazing friends and lots o’ laughs and the night was great! I say “take away the movie” because Mixed Nuts wasn’t exactly a holiday classic in my opinion. We made it though about 30 minutes before completely ignoring the film and talking and catching up instead. Bad movie and all, holiday movie night was fun!

Work out

I woke up this morning and did not feel like going to the gym. I told myself I’d machine-hop my way through a cardio workout to keep my interest alive. When I grabbed my iPod near our mail stash, I realized the new issue of Cooking Light arrived yesterday, so I had some fun reading to fuel my workout.

Do you read magazines or watch T.V. when you work out?

I will read magazines when I’m on the elliptical, but that’s pretty much the only machine where I’m able to read since I’m not bouncing around too much. I’m not a big television watcher when I work out. I definitely prefer the eclectic mix of music on my iPod as my background noise.

Today’s workout consisted of 10 minutes on the stair master, 10 minutes on the arc trainer and 30 minutes on the elliptical. Not an intense workout, but I still was sweaty when I left and happy I went.

Hot Breakfast

I originally planned to eat Greek yogurt for breakfast, but changed my mind after a chilly walk with Sadie. Hot oatmeal sounded much better!

I added a scoop of All the Whey cup cake batter protein powder to my oats before microwaving them until they became thick, hot and creamy.

I topped my cake batter oats with thawed raspberries for a punch of color and flavor.

Thursday's Breakfast


Christmas Find

I always bring my lunch to work in a random paper bag with handles that I receive from stores like Bath and Body Works when shopping. They actually work really well and typically last a couple weeks before ripping.

If you prefer a lunch bag with a little more longevity, I saw this cute lunch bag in Cooking Light this morning.

KOKO Jenn Lunch Bag

I thought this lunch bag was much cuter than many of the others available these days and just wanted to share! 🙂

It’s Friday tomorrow!!!

Easiest Pulled Pork EVER

Pulled pork sandwiches drenched in barbecue sauce may be one of my all-time favorite sandwiches. Give me a pulled pork sandwich over a burger any day!

Tonight’s pulled pork came together in a snap in the easiest recipe for pulled pork in the entire world.

Well Hello There, Pork

Ryan tried this pulled pork one weekend when he was in Gainesville at the University of Florida for his executive MBA program. (He went one weekend a month for 18 months… pretty awesome, huh?)

He was staying with our friend Ross who gave my hubby-to-be a tutorial on how to make the easiest pulled pork. When Ryan tried the moist meat, he was inspired to call me immediately and tell me this was something we just had to make.

We were on a pulled pork kick for about two months after that!

Since I have my girl’s movie night this evening and I knew we’d be crunched on time for dinner, I figured this would be the perfect night to resurrect this delicious dish.

You only need two ingredients to make this pulled pork:

  • One can of beef broth
  • One pork roast

Beefy Broth



Trim any unwanted fat off the pork before placing it in a crock pot. Pour the can of beef broth over the pork and let it cook on high (low actually works too) for six to eight hours.

Then remove the pork from the broth and crock pot. Use a fork to shred the meat.

Shredded Pork

That’s it! Delicious. Easy. Moist. Tasty.

You can then enjoy it as is or get a little crazy and add gobs of BBQ sauce like me! It’s also great in quesadillas, soups, pastas, etc.

My Plate

Ryan's Plate

What’s the easiest recipe you’ve made that appears difficult?

We served the pulled pork with green beans and roasted carrots and butternut squash with cinnamon. Very tasty!

Now I’m off to my friend’s apartment for the first installment of holiday movie night. For those of you who asked, I believe we’re watching Mixed Nuts starring Steve Martin tonight.

Mixed Nuts

I’ve never seen it but I’m a BIG fan of Stevie!

G’night BlogWorld!