A New Chili for Football Season

By: Brady Evans

Brady Evans

The other day I was jogging and contemplating the state of my life as I often do when I run.  I was thinking about how busy I was about to get with school starting soon and my plate newly loaded with exciting opportunities at the high school where I teach.

For some reason when I feel like I’m really busy, I gravitate toward making myself more busy.  So, while running, I started counting backwards the weeks from November 17th to the present, trying to determine if I had enough time to train for a marathon.

Yeah, so I’m about to be busier than ever at work, my husband is about to be traveling for his job more than he ever has, and I’m trying to fit a marathon into my schedule.  Just to spice up my life a little.

Around mile 12 or so, I figured that if I wanted to spice up my life, maybe I should just do it in other ways – like cook new and interesting recipes.  If you’d ask my husband, whenever I feel adventuresome in the kitchen, pineapple shows up in our meal.

This recipe was really good.  I might make it again before I dig up another chili recipe.  Pineapple makes sense in chili to me – we love pineapple black bean enchiladas and pineapple peanut stew.  It is officially football season: I just got back from our first home football game.  That makes this recipe even more perfect for my life right now.  What’s more is that I made it all in the crockpot so while I get busier, my time in the kitchen gets shorter, but my excitement about eating stays the same.  And for now, my craving for a marathon might be quenched…until my 14-mile-run this Saturday.

Other chili recipes on Branny Boils Over:

Black Bean Pineapple Chili (inspired by Better Homes and Gardens)


  • 1 pound ground pork or turkey
  • 1 16 ounce jar pineapple salsa (this was easy to find at my normal grocery store)
  • 1.5 cups crushed pineapple, drained
  • 2 15 ounce can beans (your choice!), rinsed and drained
  • 3 ounces tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • salt to taste
  • cilantro, fresh Mexican cheese, lime for serving


  1. Brown ground meat stovetop.
  2. Combine all ingredients in a crockpot or large soup pot and cook until vegetables are tender (8 hours on low in crockpot and 45 minutes stovetop).
  3. Garnish with cheese, cilantro, and lime, if desired.

Columbia Welcomes GWEN RAWLS Italian Shoe Boutique

By: Staci Rutherford

Gwen Rawls

When I first discovered that a new accessories boutique was coming to town, I could not wait to share the news with all of the trendsetters and fashionistas of the Midlands!  GWEN RAWLS Italian Shoe Boutique opened on August 23, and of course, I had to stop by to check out all of the fabulous shoes imported straight from Italy.  I had the pleasure of meeting the owner, Gwen Rawls, at Power of the Purse a few months prior to the opening, and instantly connected with her since we share a passion for beautiful accessories.

A South Carolina native with a love for European fashion, Gwen has traveled extensively throughout Europe, but she always returned to Milan to explore the world’s fashion capital.  Like many women living in Columbia, Gwen felt her shoe shopping options were limited, and typically went to boutiques in Charlotte, New York and Atlanta to find the stylish brands she loved.

Gwen began conceptualizing an Italian shoe boutique that could help women in Columbia—and throughout the southeast—find their own foundation for fashion right here in the capital city.  “At GWEN RAWLS, women will find elegant Italian shoes and bags that are limited in quantity to ensure a customer can build her own signature look.  I want my customers to feel empowered with their purchase and to give them a renewed sense of elegance.”

When I first stepped into the boutique, I didn’t know which way to turn.  There were beautiful shoes displayed everywhere.  The staff at GWEN RAWLS was warm and friendly, which is often rare when shopping at an upscale place. I can honestly say that Gwen really thought about her customers’ lifestyle when she personally selected each shoe.  Styles include embellished stilettos, knee high boots, booties and flats for women like me who find it difficult to stay graceful in a heel more than 3 inches.

 The next time you are out and about, stop by GWEN RAWLS and tell them Staci sent you.  It is located near Chipotle at 4840 Forest Drive, Suite 17.  Store hours are Monday through Saturday, 10:00 am to 6:00 pm.  Also, be sure to connect with GWEN RAWLS via Facebook at www.facebook.com/GwenRawlsShoes or on Twitter @GwenRawls.  You can also visit the website at www.gwenrawls.com.

Salted Caramel Nirvana

By: Elizabeth Webber Akre

I’m not much of a sweet freak.  But, my husband is and that gene has obviously been passed on to our daughter.  Don’t get me wrong…I can appreciate a good dessert, a good cake or a good cookie when I see one, I just don’t crave that kind of stuff.


Since I became addicted to Pinterest, I came across a recipe whose photo grabbed me and hasn’t let go.  It’s for “Salted Caramel Cheesecake Bars.”  When I do indulge in sweets, there are certain types that really appeal to me: chocolate, hazelnut and any combination of salt and sweet.  I’ve had this recipe on one of my Pinterest boards for a couple months, but haven’t done anything about it.

Today was my sweet baby’s 1st day of 1st grade.  I decided that I’d make a special dessert for her.  As I pondered all the great recipes in my head and in all my books, etc., the salted caramel cheesecake came to mind.  All I needed was graham crackers and cream, so I ran out for these provisions and got busy.  This recipe is not hard to put together.  In fact, it’s quite easy.  But, the result will wow the socks off your family and friends, and they will think you worked forever on these delicious bars.

Cut into bars, sprinkle with salt and dive in!

The website where the recipe is located here.  It is a fantastically rich, gooey, delicious dessert that is out of the norm and special.  Whatever you do, don’t skip the salt!  That is what really sets this dish apart!  I didn’t have any fleur de sel, so I used some smoked sea salt and it was awesome.  Give it a shot.  I bet you’ll be happy you did.  Everyone at my house was happy about it!  I got a two-thumbs up from the little one, I mean the big 1st grader, so I know it was a success.

Here’s One Last Call You Don’t Want To Miss

By:  Mary Pat Baldauf

Last March, I discovered Revente’s Last Call, a charity resale shop benefiting The Women’s Shelter in Columbia, South Carolina.  I was about midway through my two-year journey to better health, and I needed some smaller clothes.  I’d been steadily losing weight and couldn’t keep myself in a pair of pants for more than about a month.  I visited Last Call for inexpensive clothes to wear during the transition, but I found much more: stylish, sustainable, affordable clothes; women helping other women; even new friends.

Being a long time “green queen,” I reduce, reuse and recycle.  Thanks to Revente’s Last Call, I can also add shop sustainably to that list. Shopping at resale boutiques like Last Call, you can reduce your environmental impact in a huge way.  Used clothes don’t require new materials, energy or resources to manufacture.  They also don’t require new packaging or additional shipping.  Even better, when my purchases become too big, I clean them and take them back for a third person to enjoy.

Lest you think shopping a re-sale boutique leaves you with no style, think again!  The bulk of Last Call’s inventory is from the generous consignors of Revente in Five Points, where consignors may choose to donate their unsold items knowing they are helping support women in need through our shop.  I’m not a “name brand” fashionista, but I’ve gotten some great high end and designer finds at Last Call.  In addition, there’s a unique selection; it’s not the same thing you see at store after store in the malls and shopping centers.

And sustainability and style don’t win you over, the prices will. On my most recent trip to Last Call, I bought three great pieces for less than $55, including a fuschia Talbots cotton shirt ($15), a two-piece Singrid Olsen green sweater set ($20) and a black Larry Levine faux-wrap skirt ($15).  If you “like” Revente’s Last Call Facebook page, you’ll hear about their special sales – they often have buy one, get one half-off sales – and also get a sneak peak at some fab pieces. Also, if you donate clothes, you also get a coupon for a percentage off your next purchase, as well as a receipt for tax purposes.

What differentiates Revente’s Last Call from other re-sale shops is 100% of net profits go to The Women’s Shelter,  a non-profit organization that provide a safe environment for homeless women in crisis and the necessary resources to build strong and healthy lives. Since opening their doors in September, 2010, they’ve donated more than $44,000 to the shelter. That’s not all. They also help the women by providing suits for job interviews and other occasions. Phenomenal.

If you’re not sold yet, you have to meet some of the special women of Revente’s Last Call. First, there’s shop owner Debbie McDaniel, a real fireball!  She’s a “buy local” advocate, style maven and all-around good person. She’s usually at Revente, and I always try to stop in to visit when I’m in Five Points. Patti and Chase run the store on a daily basis, and after shopping there for these last 17 months, they’ve become fun new friends!  I remember the time I was there and fit into my first size 12 pants in years.  They were as excited as I was! And Chase could be my personal stylist. She knows my love for color and patterns, and as soon as I walk in, she starts pulling things they’ve gotten in that “look like me.”

I’ve actually just about hit my goal weight, and I thought this would be the time that I started investing in more expensive pieces.  But you know what?  I’m still shopping Revente’s Last Call. It’s a great way to add stylish, inexpensive pieces to your wardrobe while helping others. It’s a win-win-win.

So whether you’re on the lookout for transition pieces while you’re losing weight, new pieces to update your wardrobe or new ways to save money in today’s economy, I recommend Revente’s Last Call!  Last Call is located at 3015 Millwood behind an octagon building that used to be a florist shop.  It’s also in the same area as Groomingdale’s, which is on Butler Street.  It’s open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.  Monday through Saturday, and parking is plentiful.  Bring cash or a debit/credit card and allow yourself plenty of time to look and try things on.

What You’re Doing Is Not Working.

By: Roshanda Pratt

I am always working on self-improvement.  I am also working at improving my family, my relationship with Christ and my business.  You can call me a self-improvement junkie.  I think outside the box.  Matter of fact, I try my best to crush the box.  As you can imagine, it really stinks when working with a client and you hear: “But we’ve always done it like this.” You can almost hear your idea dying a slow death.  My thought is if you have done what you’ve always done, that explains why you are getting the same results.  Change is not a bad thing.  I remember when I was a television news producer.  You work 8 hours crafting a news show only to have breaking news five minutes before air.  All you worked for is gone and changes in minutes. I hate that. Seriously, you could not have robbed a bank earlier in the day?  I joke, but seriously, those moments of breaking news and change made me a better producer.  I actually became one of the youngest and few producers in my newsroom that could fill-in as a producer on all the shows.

How can you improve?  Take an honest look – is what you are doing getting the results you want?  If not, change.  I look at my life (family, marriage, business, etc.) through this thought.  Whether I change for the good or stay the same, either way I am in pain.  That pain is not necessarily physical; however, not changing is hurting my family and my business.  What will it take for you to move in another direction?  Go for it.  Trust me, when you are better your family, your business and everything else associated with you is better. I have also realized change comes with growth.  When I was pregnant, my appetite and my figure changed big time. I did not like it at first. In fact, during my first pregnancy I could not enjoy sweets. It made me sick. But after a while, I got use to the change and actually realized not being able to chow down on a whole pan of chocolate brownies is actually a good thing.

Now is the time to look at today and think about what changes you can make to grow your business, family or whatever you think needs a good shakeup. Remember, if what you have always done is getting you the same results – it is time to “work” on something new.

So what are you working on?


Throw Down & Party Yourself Into Shape!

By: Shannon Shull

Ok, yes, I admit, I’m hoping the title of this blog entry caught your attention!  Am I talking about drinking or drugging yourself into some kind of party oblivion?  Of course not!  I’m actually talking about the positive effects of engaging in a Zumba dance party!  Let’s face it though, if I had titled my blog entry simply as “Zumba Dance Party,” I’m not quite sure you would’ve clicked to read on.  So in an attempt to get and keep your attention, I’d like to share with you how Zumba has richly affected my life and helped to keep me and my ole’ bod in shape.

Zumba Shannon – November 2010, when she 1st got licensed as a Zumba Instructor. Since then she’s lost 15 lbs & gained muscles she never knew she had!

I’ve been licensed to teach Zumba since November of 2010 and just recently got licensed to teach Aqua Zumba this past July.  I’ve taught and led Zumba fun at everything, ranging from birthday parties to Mary Kay parties to Leisure Centers and dance studios. I’ve recently started teaching for all the Gold’s Gym locations of the Midlands of Lexington and Columbia, SC and am thrilled about it.

The Zumba craze has indeed been fierce and fabulous. But why did it attract my attention? Yes, I am a dancer – a theatre/dance college grad and teacher of the arts – so I love just about all things that involve music and dance. I also have a degree in Fitness & Nutrition from way back, but I have to admit, I’ve never been a dedicated gym-going type person, and regular aerobics classes quite honestly bored me. I have never in my lifetime been able to truly commit to a regular aerobics/fitness class!

…That is until Zumba came into my life.

Now let me clarify – as is the case with anything, whether it’s any teacher, preacher, trainer, coach, etc. it’s all about personal preference. The very first Zumba class I took did not impress me that much because the teacher was too intricate and complicating with her moves and teaching style. I walked away saying, “Oh well, I guess that Zumba thing isn’t for me.”  Then I gave it another chance and took another class with a different Zumba instructor….and it was amazing!  Love at first groove!

For me, the right teacher made all the difference in the world! This particular teacher kept the moves simple, allowing for the class to really get into the groove and experience a dance party while getting a great workout. She was wild, goofy and provided total fun! My kind of teacher, my kind of class, my kind of work out! I walked away from that class going, “I could do that!”  Right then and there I decided that I would dedicate time to getting licensed to teach Zumba. I mean the reality was, if I was going to truly commit to getting into shape and enjoy actually getting paid to do it, I would have to become an instructor! I knew myself well enough to know that I needed something to hold me accountable to getting in shape and by being an instructor…well, I’d have to attend every class!

Between my love for music, dance and choreography, teaching Zumba has been the perfect life experience for me of having a darn “healthy” good time, participating in weekly dance parties, flat out throwing down and best of all…getting into the best shape of my life!

What do you do to truly have physical fun in your life? Do you work out? If so, do you have actual fun working out? Like I tell all my Zumba students, you absolutely do NOT have to be an experienced dancer or fitness nut to get into Zumba and experience the positive effects of the Zumba dance party. If you love music, if you love to move – whether you have any rhythm or not! – if you have the right instructor for you, you will absolutely LOVE Zumba. Whether on land or in the water, your body will thank you for letting it experience the joys of Zumba fitness!

If you live in the Midlands area, come check out my Aqua Zumba classes on Thursdays at 10:15 a.m. at the Gold’s Gym Columbiana Point location. And starting in September I’ll be teaching regular Zumba classes on Wednesdays at 8:15 a.m. and Fridays at 6 p.m. at the Gold’s Gym Columbiana Point location too. If you’re truly interested in partying with me, feel free to email me and I’ll update you on any other classes I may be teaching! I’ll be adding more classes in the future and am often subbing for other teachers!

Check out the following links and join in on the Zumba Dance Party Fun! Let’s throw down – healthy, super groovin’ style!

If you watch anything, watch the 1st video below. It will inspire you and make you smile for sure!



New York Style Crumb Cake

By: Brady Evans

My husband travels to New York City pretty regularly for work.  It sounds glamorous, but it really isn’t.  He spends at least 12 hours in airports, works long days from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m. in an office and then more in his hotel room, and has not a free moment to see the sites of the greatest city on earth.

He does, however, make it a point to swing by a bakery every morning to pick up a classic coffee cake with crumb topping.  It is his favorite splurge and there’s no where better to indulge in this than in a New York bakery.

Would you believe he brought a piece home to show me exactly what he’d like me to recreate for him?  He knows I love a challenge, so when he whipped out a stale square of coffee cake from his suitcase, I set off to find the perfect recipe.

The cake on the right was the one I had to beat.  I think we can safely say I did more than simply recreate his beloved coffee cake.  My results were perfect.  The cake was tender and the crumbs were sweet.  It was “cinnamony” and sweet and simply irresistible.  Maybe we can get my husband to telecommute for his NYC jobs, because now he won’t need his coffee cake fix.

New York Style Crumb Cake (adapted from Cooks’ Illustrated May 2007 via Smells Like Home)


For the Crumb Topping:

  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar (2 2/3 ounces)
  • 1/3 cup dark brown sugar (2 2/3 ounces)
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon table salt
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), melted but still warm
  • 1 3/4 cups cake flour (7 ounces)

For the Cake:

  • 1 1/4 cups cake flour (5 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar (3 1/2 ounces)
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter (3/4 stick), cut into 6 pieces, softened but still cool
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • Confectioners’ sugar for dusting


  1. To make the topping: Combine sugars, cinnamon, salt, and butter in medium bowl to combine. Add flour and stir with rubber spatula or wooden spoon until mixture resembles thick, cohesive dough.
  2. Set aside to cool to room temperature, about 10 to 15 minutes.
  3. To make the cake: Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees.
  4. Cut 16-inch length parchment paper or aluminum foil and fold lengthwise to 7-inch width.
  5. Spray 8-inch square baking dish with nonstick cooking spray and fit parchment into dish, pushing it into corners and up sides; allow excess to overhang edges of dish.
  6. In bowl of standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment, mix flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt on low speed to.
  7. With mixer running at low speed, add butter one piece at a time; continue beating until mixture resembles moist crumbs, with no visible butter chunks remaining, 1 to 2 minutes.
  8. Add egg, yolk, vanilla, and buttermilk; beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 1 minute, scraping once if necessary.
  9. Pour batter to baking pan; using rubber spatula, spread batter into even layer.
  10. Break apart crumb topping into large pea-sized pieces between your thumb, pointer, and middle fingers and spread in even layer over batter, beginning with edges and then working toward center.
  11. Bake until crumbs are golden and wooden skewer inserted into center of cake comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool on wire rack at least 30 minutes. Remove cake from pan by lifting parchment overhang.
  12. Dust with confectioners’ sugar just before serving.

Fall Essentials: Top Five Must-Have Shoes

By: Staci Rutherford

Although we still have another month and a half left of summer, I am already anticipating the transition into fall.  I love shopping for deals to update my wardrobe at the beginning of a new season.  My take on fashion is always changing; therefore, I try to incorporate some of the latest trends with a few classic staples and statement pieces.  I’ll focus on footwear first because I consider myself “shoe challenged”.

Since I don’t look forward to shoe shopping (I’d much rather shop for a new bag!), I have come up with three questions to ask myself to help determine if a shoe is worth buying: Does it fit well, and is it comfortable?  How many times will I wear it?  Will the style work with the rest of my wardrobe?  Comfort, quality and style are key points to consider as I try on shoes, which makes it easier to find and buy the right shoes.

Here are a my top five favorite shoes for fall:

Steve Madden ‘Teana’ Moccasin Flat in bright multi, Price: $49.95 at Nordstrom.com

Söfft Broadway in leopard, Price: $115.00 at Piperlime.com

Superga Classic Sneakers, Price: $65.00 – $75.00 at Bloomingdales.com

Zodiac USA Paris Knee-High Boot, Price: $159.99 at Endless.com

Naturalizer Ilona Shooties in black, Price: $99.99 at Macys.com

Green Grab Bag

By: Elizabeth Webber Akre

I love vegetables.  My husband and my daughter do too.  But I must admit, sometimes I stand in the produce section just staring at everything with no ideas in mind at all.  I love to see all the colors staring back at me, but somestimes even that brilliant display isn’t enough to inspire me.

I keep telling myself that “next year” I’ll sign up for a farm co-op so I’ll get a beautiful box of fresh fruit and vegetables from somewhere here in SC.  The thought of supporting local farmers and buying/eating seasonal foods is most appealing and has become increasingly important to me.  However, it seems that every time “next year” rolls around I am distracted, busy, preoccupied (whatever you want to call it), and I miss the sign up period.  Once again, I pencil in “next year” on my mental calendar.

My church hosts the Seeds of Hope farmers market during the summer months.  Each Saturday morning, our farmer arrives with an assortment of fruits and veggies available for sale.  This year, the church decided to add a new feature to the market.  If there are vegetables left at the end of Saturday, rather than sending them home with the farmer, the volunteers bag them up and sell them the next day at church.  This has worked like a charm!  If you couldn’t make it on Saturday, you could simply pick some up at church the next morning.  For me, this was awesome.  I was able to get a mixed grab bag for only $5.

But what came in that bag was a lot more than vegetables.  The bag was full of inspiration. I learned that when you’re presented with a bag or box of produce, it eliminates that ‘staring-at-the-vegetables-trying-to-make-a-decision’ problem.  I opened this bag and found 2 eggplants, 4 yellow squash, 2 heirloom tomatoes and 3 sweet potatoes.  I introduced my 6-year-old to eggplant parmesan (it was fantastic, by the way), we had Caprese salad with a few dinners, and my daughter tried raw squash on a vegetable tray (and liked it).  We still have our sweet potatoes to use this week, as well as the remainder of the squash.  Getting this mixed bag took all the pressure off of me to plan every detail of the week’s meals.  I just took what was there and used it happily.

The moral of this story? Next year I am signing up for a co-op.  I’m putting it in my iPhone calendar, my Outlook calendar and what the heck, I may even go buy a hard copy calendar and put it there too.  Just the thought of opening a green grab bag gets me excited about cooking-after I stare at all the brilliant colors for awhile, that is.

Elizabeth Akre is the author of a  blog called “Gastronomy (by a Wanna-be Chef)” which can be found at www.ElizabethAkre.com.

Olympic Fever

By: Katie Austin

The 2012 London Olympics is finally here!  Did you watch the opening ceremony and if you did, what did you think?

I loved every minute of it!  I held off going to the bathroom or getting something to eat/drink as I didn’t want to miss anything.. (I know, I could have DVR it, but then I would have been up even later as my bed time is around 10pm 🙂 ). I especially liked the set transitions from the British meadows to the industrial revolution, which built the Olympic rings that were raised above the stadium.  Impressive!

Then, to see Mr. Bean as a member of the orchestra as they played, “Chariots of Fire,” which led into him racing in a scene from the movie – priceless!

The part that I struggled to stay up for was the United States team members make their walk into the stadium.  It’s one of the few times I wished our country’s name started at the beginning of the alphabet.  Haha.  Actually, I found it interesting to see the different countries participating and how some only had a few attending on behalf of their country.  Then we walked in with so many representing our country and it made me proud to be an American!

I have been glued to my television ever since, watching as many events as I can and catching up on sleep missed on the weekend 🙂  Where else can you watch beach volleyball, swimming, soccer, water polo, gymnastics, table tennis and synchronized diving while spending quality time with the family?!  That’s what makes the Olympics great – there are so many events to choose from!  It makes for great discussions around the water cooler and predictions of event finals yet to come.

The Olympics is where memorable moments are created.  A time when we can forget about our troubles, focusing our attention on cheering our team to the finish line.  I wish the Olympics would come around more often as I think it would serve as a reminder that with a positive attitude, hard work and determination, you can reach anything you set your mind to.  Thank you to all those representing the United States in London as you have sacrificed a lot and are making a difference, inspiring many!

What events do you like to watch? What has been your most memorable moment of the 2012 London Olympics?