Monday, April 30, 2012

Giovanni’s Italian Restaurant

Last Friday after work I headed to Atlanta to see my best friend, Perry! When I got there we were both hungry so we headed straight to dinner at Giovanni’s. Giovanni himself was there and came over and talked to us. He was really nice. I always like when the owner of a restaurant comes around.


We had a sweet red wine.


I ordered the Baked Ziti. It was very good! I was surprised at how much I liked this place. I am not a huge Italian fan but everything was really good. The best part was the garlic bread. It was so good I didn’t even take a picture ;).

Giovanni's Restaurant on Urbanspoon

After dinner we went back to her house and looked at engagement pictures and chatted for a bit until time for the movies. We went and saw The Five-Year Engagement.

I thought it was funny but not what I was expecting at all. I was expecting a lot more funnier. I thought the end was cute when they finally did get married.

I can’t wait to share the rest of the weekend’s events with you!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Remembering April 27, 2011

Do you remember where you were, what you were doing, who you were with a year ago today? I do. This day will forever be etched in my mind.

The terror and fear I felt will never be forgotten. Huddling in the basement of my parent’s home, praying, hearing my father pray and knowing it was serious and not just another storm that would just blow over us. Listening on the radio as reports of neighborhoods, apartments and businesses had been destroyed.

The happiness I felt when all my loved ones were accounted for. The shame I felt for being so happy for the safety of my family and friends when so many others had lost people they loved.

The days and weeks immediately after the storm showed me a lot of things. I got to see my town come together in a crisis. People from all over came to help strangers in need. Unfortunately, I also got to see terrible things. I got a small glimpse into what it might be like to live in a war stricken place. Army trucks and soldiers filed in. Driving down the street seeing soldiers with guns everywhere, looters, curfews.

For a few weeks I wasn’t sure if my hometown would ever be “normal” again.

A year later, it is not “normal” again. I still get sad driving by open fields where homes and businesses use to be but things are beginning to be rebuilt.

I didn’t take a camera but a couple of people I was with took the pictures below on April 28, 2011.

Alex Green

Alex Green1
These are pictures of the house my dad grew up in were my nephew was living at the time.

Kaitlin Orr

“And I'll praise You in this storm
And I will lift my hands
For You are who You are
No matter where I am
And every tear I've cried
You hold in Your hand
You never left my side
And though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm”
– Casting Crowns


“But as the thunder rolls
I barely hear You whisper through the rain
"I'm with you"
And as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise the God who gives
And takes away”
– Casting Crowns

Kaitlin Orr1

“And tomorrow if the rain shall come we will not fear. We will not run from anything because we are standing strong, we are standing tall. We will not run we will not fall away from you because we love you.”   – John Hayes

To remember the victims and honor the survivors, a historical marker was dedicated to the April 2011 tornado outbreak. The monument sits in downtown Tuscaloosa.
Text from the marker:
City of Tuscaloosa
April 2011 Tornado Outbreak

In April 2011, one of the most devastating tornado outbreaks in the history of Alabama left an unprecedented path of destruction through the City of Tuscaloosa.

On the street corners and in the neighborhoods, thousands of citizens transformed into heroes by aiding the injured, searching for the missing, clearing debris, and volunteering from dawn to dusk. Called by circumstance, burdened by tragedy, yet inspired by a confident hope, the fury of Mother Nature was met by the best of humanity.

How we fought back, how we refused to quit and how we united will ensure that we never forget our victims, our survivors and our heroes.
For a list of those who were killed on April 27, 2011 go to

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Ichiban Japanese Grill and Sushi

Ichiban is one of my favorite sushi restaurants in Tuscaloosa.


My favorite sushi from here is the Tuscaloosa Roll. I have tried several other rolls here that are also really good but I always come back to this one.


Tuscaloosa Roll – crabmeat, fried shrimp, cream cheese, cucumber, avocado, with eel sauce and massago on top

The Crab Rangoons are really good too. 


Ichiban Japanese Grill & Sushi on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, April 25, 2012



One perk of having a good friend as a neighbor is you get to eat each others food. She made a chicken spinach pasta bake dish and had lots left so she fixed me a plate to take to work for lunch! Such a sweet friend.


I had lots of baked treats! I made Lemon Cool Whip Cookies, Strawberry Cool Whip Cookies and Lemon Sandwich cookies for our team’s bake sale at Relay for Life this past Friday.


Trey makes a mean Bloody Mary!


For date night we steamed Snow Crab legs with salads and baked potatoes.


Grilled cheese, chicken, lettuce and honey mustard sandwich. I love hot cheesy sandwiches.


Sushi from Ichiban. I could eat sushi everyday.


Mrs. Paul’s Parchment Bake Garlic Butter Tilapia, garlic and butter noodles, salad and a sweet cheese biscuit

Happy Wednesday! Two more days until the weekend!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Strawberry Cool Whip Cookies

The Lemon Cool Whip Cookies were just so good I had to try the recipe out with a different flavor.


I made these for our Relay for Life bake sale. I decided to only use 1 egg this time and I think they turned out better than the Lemon Cool Whip Cookies.


Strawberry Cool Whip Cookies
by Brittany Ray
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 8-10 minutes
Keywords: bake dessert cookie
Ingredients (48 cookies)
  • 1 (8 oz.) Cool Whip, thawed
  • 1 eggs
  • 1 box strawberry cake mix
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large bowl, whisk cool whip and egg together.
Stir in cake mix. Stir until dough forms and all ingredients are mixed well.
Place powdered sugar in a bowl.
Coat cookie sheets with cooking spray.
Using a teaspoon, spoon a ball of dough up and place in bowl of sugar. Roll around and coat ball completely with sugar.
Place on cookie sheet.
Bake for 8 - 10 minutes.
Let cool on cookie sheet for 5 minutes then move to a cooling rack.
Let cool completely.
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  • When you find a good recipe do you start experimenting with new flavors and add-ins or do you leave a good thing alone?

Lemon Sandwich Cookies

Here is another recipe I made for the bake sale last Friday night.
Lemon Zest
Lemon Sandwich Cookies
by Brittany Ray
Prep Time: 1 1/2 hours
Cook Time: 15 - 20 minutes
Keywords: bake dessert lemon cookie

Ingredients (18 sandwich cookies)
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tbs lemon zest (1 lemon)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, you we need extra for rolling
  • cream cheese lemon filling (see separate recipe)
In an electric mixer bowl, beat butter, powdered sugar, lemon zest and salt until completely mixed.
With mixer on low, add flour. Finish mixing with spoon.
Mold dough into a disk and place on a piece of plastic wrap.
Wrap up and place in freezer for at least 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Unwrap dough, using some extra flour roll dough and cut with a circle cookie cutter. About 1 1/2 inch in diameter and 1/8 inch thick.
Spray cookie sheets with cooking spray.
Place cookies on baking sheet. Cookies will not expand too much so you can put them somewhat close together.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Make sure too watch them closely you want to take them out just when they are barely starting to brown.
Place on a cooling rack to cool completely.
Assemble sandwiches buy putting about 1 tsp or more of the cream cheese lemon filling on one cookie and closing another on top squeezing gently.
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Lemon Sandwich Cookies
Cream Cheese Lemon Filling
by Brittany Ray
Prep Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients (enough to fill 18 sandwich cookies)
  • 4 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 tbs lemon zest (1 lemon)
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
In a small bowl, mix cream cheese and lemon zest until smooth,
Slowly add the powdered sugar, mixing in between each addition. Add powdered sugar until firm and spreadable.
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Lemon Sandwich Cookies_2
These were my favorite of the cookies that I made. I only got to eat one so I might be making these again soon:)

Monday, April 23, 2012

Snow Crab Leg Date Night

Saturday night Trey and I decided to have a relaxing date at home. We went to Sam’s to get my tires rotated and serviced. While waiting we perused every isle in Sam’s. I spotted some frozen Snow Crab Legs and decided that’s what we needed for dinner. The directions were super easy and it took a total of 10 minutes for them to be completely cooked and ready to eat.


Trey made Bloody Mary’s to drink while we cooked dinner. He loves to garnish it up! You can’t see it but there is okra in the glass too. I only like to eat the celery but its pretty with all the other stuff added too.  


We had salads, baked potatoes and steamed snow crab legs. Don’t let my plate fool you. I had way more crab legs than that! :)

  • Do you ever just like to stay in and cook a fancy dinner or would you rather leave that to the restaurants and go out to eat?

Sunday, April 22, 2012

RFL 2012: e-LEMON-ate cancer

Friday night was Relay For Life. Our team sold lemonade and baked goods to raise money for the American Cancer Society.

Relay For Life 2012_2
Anna made some really good lemonade.

Relay For Life 2012_1
The boys did a great job of mixing it. Don’t mind the shaker used as a stirrer… No worries it was clean!

Relay For Life 2012_3

Several of us made cookies, brownies, bars, cupcakes, etc.

Relay For Life 2012_4

I made Lemon Cool Whip Cookies, Strawberry Cool Whip Cookies and Lemon Sandwich Cookies. (I will post the rest of the recipes soon and link them here)

Relay For Life 2012_5
Of course I had to get a picture with Big Al when I saw him walking around the track. Of my all my years in college I never once had my picture made with him. Now I can mark it off my list!


The track was lined with luminarias. Each luminaria had a name of a person who has fought cancer, is fighting cancer or who has lost the battle of this terrible disease. The luminaria ceremony was very emotional. They wait until 10pm when it is dark and shut off all the lights. The bags are then lit and you walk around the track as they read names aloud either in honor of or in memory of.

We decided to light our tents up with Christmas lights.

The lovely engaged couple! Aren’t they the cutest!

To attract attention to our tent, Stephen dressed in his Mardi Gras attire and brought our team mascot, Polo.

Relay For Life 2012_6
My ADX sisters Anna, Sarah, Ashleigh and me.

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Twin, Big and me.

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Me and Trey.

The plan was to stay until 6am but once the other tents started packing up and leaving we decided to leave a little early. We were one of the last 3 tents to stay. So at around 2am we packed up and went home.

It was a long but fun night. It was really great to hang out with friends and help raise money for such a worthy cause!