Fall Essentials: Blazers

By: Staci Rutherford

Blazers are a key element in my fall wardrobe since they are extremely versatile and make it easy to put together a polished look.  It has become a staple in my wardrobe that can be worn to the office with a pencil skirt, pants or a shift dress, and on the weekends with a fitted tee and jeans.  Since I work at a law firm, I rely on blazers for a professional image that still allows me to show off my personal style. With hundreds of styles on the market, I did a little research so I could share shopping tips to help guide you in determining which blazer is the perfect one for you.

Tip #1:  Select a style based on where you are going

Before selecting the right style, keep in mind where you are going to wear it – is it strictly for the office, going to a party, date night or running errands on the weekend?  Go with a classic single-breasted blazer in a neutral color when you want your blazer to serve many purposes.  Consider a more fun color or print when you want to take your look from day to evening.  Remember, blazers can be paired with trousers, skirts, and dresses, so make a mental note of what you already have in your closet to determine which style goes with what.

Tip #2:  Choose good quality and easy-to-maintain fabric

Blazers are available in a variety of fabrics such as cotton, silk, polyester, wool, knits, and blended materials.  Keep in mind which fabrics are easiest to maintain. For example, a cotton blazer can be machine washed while wool or silk blazers will need to be dry-cleaned.  Also, blazers in high quality fabric can keep the ‘same-as-new look’ for years.  Check the stitching and other details to determine whether it is good quality and worth the price.

Tip #3:  Make sure it fits your body type

Blazers should have a snug fit without being too tight or loose at the shoulders.  A curved seam at the torso often provides a better fit.  Some blazers have a slit at the back for more comfort.  Remember to try it on with a shirt underneath to determine if you are able to button it.  Don’t be afraid to go up a size or to have it professionally altered to get the perfect fit that flatters your shape.

Now that we have covered how to shop for your next blazer, check out my favorite far-from-ordinary blazers that will instantly update your wardrobe.

Toby Textured Blazer in African Amethyst, Price: $139.00 at Chico’s

Gap Pointe Academy Blazer in Fuchsia Shock, Price: $88.00 at Gap

INC International Concepts Boyfriend Blazer in Turq Dove, Price: $89.50 at Macy’s

Artdot Blazer, Price: $138.00 at Madewell

Anne Klein Houndstooth Jacket, Price: $149.00 at Nordstrom

Fantasy Fabric Blazer in Red, Price: $129.00 at ZARA

C.Luce Stripe Blazer, Price: $89.00 at Piperlime

One Man’s Junk…

By: Elizabeth Webber Akre

I love to crab, which is good because I also love to eat crab.  I’ve crabbed in the surf, in a boat, in the creek, from a pot, off the rocks.  I know a good crab when I see one, so don’t even try to talk to me about crab with a “k,” surimi, or whatever else people try to pass off as crab.  I’ll eat, and enjoy, Alaskan crab but it’s just not in the same league as a “real” crab: the blue crab that adorns our waters here in the South and all up and down the East Coast.

My sister and I are probably the only people you’ll meet who will say that we actually enjoy picking crab.  We learned as kids and as we moved into adulthood, it became a peaceful end-of-the-beach-day ritual for us.  Get showered up, pour a glass of white wine and sit out on the balcony picking crab in the breeze.

Most people complain about blue crabs because they aren’t easy to deal with.  Cleaning, cooking and then picking them is indeed a task. But the reward of fresh, creamy, milky crabmeat is well worth it.  My mom (a Floridian) actually ices them down, which puts them to sleep.  Then, she cleans them while they’re still alive. I know, I know, this sounds horrific.  However, us biology geeks know that crabs really only operate off a “nerve net,” not an actual brain, so there is no suffering involved here.  This way, we cook the cleaned crabs and there’s no spongy, foamy garbage left inside the body, which is just grosser than gross.

BUT…there’s always a but, right?  No one likes dealing with the claws.  They are a pain in the rump, frankly.  But, it’s hard for us to waste anything, so we freeze them assuming we’ll deal with them one day.

Well, my parents have had crab claws in their freezer for a few months now and it’s been driving my dad crazy.  He keeps planning the day to put them in the trash (the night before pick up because crab in a can on a hot day=horror movie) and then that day comes and goes and he realizes that he forgot to put them out there.

Not long ago, I was watching the Food Network when one of Maryland’s big time crab cakes places mentioned that they use the claw meat in the crab cakes and save the lump meat for more sophisticated dishes.  AH HA!  I had the answer!

Fast forward to September.  I took the claws off my dad’s hands.  I put together one gallon sized Ziploc of claws, which gave me about 1/2 pound of meat.  I’d never used the claw meat in a cake, so I was really curious to see how it turned out.  I made a basic cake…tore 2 slices of bread (crust removed) into small pieces, moistened with milk, then mixed with fresh parsley, some mayo, worchestershire, Old Bay, salt, baking powder and an egg.  I refrigerated the mixture to firm it a bit. I then shaped it into cakes and pan-fried it.  That little 1/2 pound of crab yielded 6 AWESOME crab cakes for our dinner tonight.

Here’s where I brag about the wunderkid again: When I told her we were having crab cakes for dinner, her reaction was “really?  I love it, love it, love it, love it!”  Imagine her reaction when I told her I’d also made homemade peach ice cream for dessert?  It was rockin’ good.

Late Night Ramblings

By: Roshanda Pratt

Old World Wonderful

By: Katie Austin

I recently came across a unique gift idea and just had to pass it along to my Every Woman Blog family!  I was on the hunt to find a wedding gift for my niece. I wanted it to be special- something that no one else would give them. It was during my trip to the City Market in Charleston, SC that I found what I was looking for and it was perfect!

I just love walking through the City Market and try to visit at least twice a year. As I perused the variety of items before me, I came across a booth for Old World Glass Studio. Their display of bottle creations caught my attention.

I had to walk over to get a closer look at the flattened bottles, which were standing upright with a wedding invitation attached to the back and with a small, decorated knife in the opening. They even went as far to add beading to the knife to match the invitation colors. I turned to my husband and said “This is perfect!”. And perfect it was, as it was a great way to capture the wedding invitation that the happy couple could display to remind them of their special day. They could be used as a cheese platter or simply put on display. I was so impressed that I am planning to dig out my wedding invitation to have one created!

The next time you are in Charleston be sure to stop by to check out their wonder work!  Or, you can visit their website or Facebook page at the links below.

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Old-World-Glass-Studio/127402493963820

Website: http://oldworldglassstudio.com/

A Nutritionist’s Grocery Cart

By: Mary Pat Baldauf

I’m still hoping to do a post detailing the best items for a healthy pantry, but for now I’m loving the WebMD blog post “What’s in a Nutritionist’s Grocery Cart.”

A quick check of my kitchen shows I have the following:

  • Carrots, lettuce, watermelon, tomatoes and nectarines (close enough to peaches!)
  • Other seasonal fruit and veggies including cabbage, cherries, grapes and the “not-so-seasonal in SC” pineapple
  • Chickpeas, black beans, kidney beans and other beans, too
  • Quinoa and popcorn (just air-popped some, in fact)

But WebMD’s post reminds me that:

  • I need to find a good organic rotisserie chicken. It’s a great time saver for weeknight cooking.
  • I can’t buy dark chocolate almonds. I can’t eat them in moderation!
  • I need to find a good hummus recipe.
  • We need some almond butter for a recipe Sister wants to try!

And while I’m on the subject of groceries, does anyone have a sure-fire method of keeping track of spices? Mine get stuck in the deepest recesses of the pantry where I forget about them. Only after I buy a new spice for a specific recipe do I find a duplicate already in the pantry. Not only are spices getting more expensive, but there’s only so much ground cayenne red pepper you can use!

What’s in your grocery cart and/or pantry this week? Trying anything new? How do you organize your pantry?

Amazing Appetizers for Football Season

By: Shannon Shull

Woo Hooo!!! It’s Football Season!!! Yummy finger foods are an absolute requirement for tailgating or watching football at home! No matter what team you’re rootin’ for, amazing appetizers are sure to please as you cheer on your home team.

One of my dearest friends gave me a fabulous cookbook several years ago and it quickly became one of my absolute favorites. It’s Taste of Home’s “The New Appetizer: The Best Recipes For Today’s Party Starters.”  I just have to share some of my favorite recipes with you all. All of these have been total hits every time I’ve made them!

Bacon Wrapped Water Chestnuts

1 pound sliced bacon (I use turkey bacon!)

2 cans whole water chestnuts, drained

½ cup packed brown sugar

½ cup mayo

¼ cup chili sauce (I use Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce – this stuff rocks!)

Toothpicks

Cut the turkey bacon strips in half, cook them in skillet – but don’t let them get too crispy! Wrap each water chestnut with a strip of bacon and secure with toothpick. Place in an ungreased baking dish. Combine the brown sugar, mayo and chili sauce (I add more chili sauce if I know my Dad or anyone else who LOVES hot stuff will be partaking of this dish!) Bake uncovered at 350° for 30 minutes or until hot and bubbly.

You will find that it is impossible to eat only one!

Mozzarella Puffs

*These tasty things are super easy to make! And even my pickiest child eats them!

1 tube of refrigerated buttermilk biscuits

1 teaspoon of seasoning – can use Oregano or I like to use Lawry’s seasoning salt & pepper

1 block of mozzarella cheese

Pizza Sauce (or I’ve even used good ole’ Ragu Spaghetti Sauce)

Make an indention in the center of each biscuit, sprinkle with your seasoning of choice. Cut the mozzarella into cubes and place cube in center of biscuit. Sometimes I add a small spot of the sauce before pinching the dough tightly around the cheese to seal. Place seam side down on an ungreased baking sheet. Spread pizza sauce over tops. Bake at 375° for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.

These yummy puffs are so easy and filling for any gathering!

Veggie Spiral Sticks

*These appetizers look pretty and provide a bit healthier munching option!

Carrots

Asparagus – fresh and trimmed

Tube of refrigerated breadsticks

Egg whites, beaten

Parmesan Cheese

Oregano or other Seasoning Choice – (again, I love to use Lawry’s & Pepper)

Cut carrots lengthwise into quarters. In large skillet, bring 2 inches of water to boil. Add carrots; cook for 3 minutes. Add fresh asparagus; cook 2-3 minutes longer. Drain and rinse with cold water; pat dry.  Cut each piece of breadstick dough in half. Roll each piece into a 7 inch rope. Wrap one rope in a spiral around each veggie. Place on baking sheet coated with nonstick cooking spray; tuck ends of dough under the veggies to secure.  Brush with egg white. Combine the parmesan cheese and your seasoning, then sprinkle over the sticks. Bake at 375° for 12-14 minutes or until golden brown.  I like to offer BBQ sauce for dipping – or of course can offer ranch dressing, which you can dip anything into!

Let me know if you try any of these recipes out.  And please do share any fabulous football season appetizers you’ve scored with!  Here’s to a college football season full of fantastic foods!