Monday, February 22, 2010

deLightful

Truly, what a beautiful weekend? The weather was gorgeous this weekend and a nice sample of the spring to come. I heard this morning on the local tv station that winter may show his face once more tomorrow and again next week with chances of snow! What will people in Houston do?! My personal opinion is that snow is highly doubtful, but the chance in itself is exciting.

Ok east coast blog readers….have you any idea what a Caramel deLight is? Haha, you may not think you do, but you do. I was grocery shopping over the weekend and got stopped on the way into the grocery store by some lovely girl scouts (I love it when they have step-up shop in front of Kroger and I love it even more when my husband has just the right amount of cash to help me stock-up without looking like a total pig). When I so enthusiastically asked for a box of Samoas you would have thought I was speaking in a foreign language by the way these young ladies and their mothers looked at me. Apparently the Girl Scout organization has sold their recipes to various cookie bakers through the Little Brownie Bakers (LBB) organization, causing the name of the cookie to be regionally specific. So in Houston, I now order my treasured Samoas as Caramel deLights. Luckily the name was the only thing that changed, and the flavor was just as tasty as I remembered it. By the way, I refuse to tell you how many cookies I gorged on in one setting, but I will say I spent extra time in the gym this morning ;-)

Fellow bloggers, my sister introduced me to this totally awesome website that helps you edit your photos for free (thanks Kellyn!): http://www.picnik.com/. For a while I have been working on updating our blog and this was perfect for helping me with the header. Though these are outdated, here are some of my practices to show you all the things you can do with your photos on this website.
Last week I got to make several PW recipes and they were pretty yummy! Chicken-Fried Steak and the PW’s Creamy Mashed Potatoes: Red meat + mashed potatoes + gravy = one very happy husband. Phil said that the mashed potatoes were the best he has ever tasted (my thought was, “well they better be considering how terrible they are for you”). Judging from the smile on Phil’s face, I know that we will be making both of these recipes again. Chicken Pot Pie: Little did the PW know that she was going to be in a cooking duel since chicken pot pie is a staple in our house. We could tell a difference between the PW’s recipe and mine, but it wasn’t a bad difference. Like everything we have tried so far, it was really delicious. I think the only reason I would stick with my recipe is because mine seems to be a bit faster. Cowboy Calzones: This was not my favorite recipe by the PW. There wasn’t anything really that I could pinpoint that I didn’t like about it, I just think that I am used to Italian calzones so I had different expectations. This recipe wasn’t bad, just not my favorite. Patsy’s Blackberry Cobbler (with blue berries and raspberries): Phil and I decided to make it a mixed berry cobbler instead of just a blueberry cobbler and it was very tasty. We served it at bible study with some Blue Bell homemade vanilla ice cream and it was a hit.
BBQ Jalapeno Poppers: Jalapeno poppers was the first recipe that Phil and I were introduced to when we moved to Texas (thanks Shelly!) and it has since become a favorite of ours. In the past, Phil and I have made our poppers more plain (i.e. just cream cheese for the filling and no BBQ sauce), so we were nervous to break out of our mold. But boy, are we sure glad that we did!

Have a great week everyone!

Monday, February 15, 2010

My Beloved

I’ve never been a big participant in Valentine’s Day. Maybe it’s a rough perspective or maybe I really am a hopeless romantic at heart. I genuinely believe that every day is Valentine’s Day, and I don’t believe that Hallmark or the calendar should dictate the day you’re supposed to honor your loved ones. Though I take that perspective seriously, since I met Phil I wont deny the fact that I do buy sappy cards, make an extra phone call to tell someone that they are loved, and enjoy an extra special dinner out with my husband. To me, as long as this trend continues throughout the year, not just February 14th, it is just another form of compassion for those around you. With that being said, I had a wonderful “Valentine’s” weekend. This was the first full weekend that Phil was home from the gulf so it was nice to take some time to just catch-up. On Saturday we decided to break in the new grill. Phil’s idea was, “what better way than with a steak?”Later on Saturday we went out to dinner with a couple from Phil’s work at an awesome sushi restaurant (if you know me I have become a bit of a sushi addict- I just can’t ever get enough!) and then went out dancing. I love to go dancing but we haven’t had a chance to for a little over a year, so that was so much fun! On Sunday because the weather was so phenomenal and warm, we went to the park for a picnic and then saw a movie. I knew that Phil had planned a special dinner so I was very excited, especially since I love surprises. We got dressed up in our finest and Phil surprised me with dinner at La Colombe D’Or. This is a mansion built in 1923 located in the Museum District. It was by far the fanciest and most delicious restaurant I have ever been to. It was an awesome dinner and I was really touched that Phil would take me there for dinner. For appetizers Phil ordered the lobster bisque and I had a fabulous salad with Texas goat cheese. For dinner Phil had the soft shell crab, lobster, and sea bass and I had the handmade linguini with lobster, crab, and crawfish. And since it was a super special place, we also ordered the cheesecake topped with scrumptious mixed berries. I highly recommend trying La Colombe D’Or for a special occasion; the food is delectable and the service is impeccable. http://www.lacolombedor.com/index.html

While we had a great weekend, our week was also fantastic. Wednesday was our first day teaching Doulos. Doulos is a young single adult ministry that Phil and I feel called to participate in this semester. We were really nervous about it, but we really didn’t have anything to worry about. I really think I should have learned that by now, but lucky the Lord is patient with me and just keeps teaching me that lesson over and over again. The study we’re using is "One-on-One with God" by Jerry and Marilyn Fine, focusing on discipleship and spiritual disciplines. It is extremely evident that everyone was hand-picked for this study, and I think even as facilitator’s Phil and I are going to be learning a lot about being disciple-makers.

As I’m sure you’re aware, Friday was the opening ceremony for the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. In honor of the devastation that has hit Haiti, Lionel Richie and Quincy Jones rearranged “We are the World” with a group of various talented musicians from all genres. At the beginning of the opening ceremonies “We are the World 25 for Haiti” debuted. This was an awesome way to kick off the Olympic Games; a beautiful demonstration of the world coming together for a greater purpose: to embrace our differences instead of arguing over them. I always get emotional over the Olympics because I really find it a beautiful event: that the world despite all of its differences and disagreements can stop being about themselves and put their issues on hold to come together for a couple weeks every 2 years. That coupled with the video and the loss of the Georgian athlete had me in tears for the entire ceremony. It really is very beautiful and touching. Click here to check out the video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Glny4jSciVI

For the cookbook club this week, I made the Peach Crisp with Maple Cream Sauce and Edna Mae’s Sour Cream Pancakes. I had to take the good with the bad with these 2 recipes. I’m not sure what happened in my kitchen, but we smelled burnt pancakes for the next few days. As a plus, I don’t think it was the pancake recipe, I’m pretty certain it was something I did so please don't let my experience hold you back. I was using my cast iron skillet for the first time, and I’m not sure if I lack experience with it or I had the stove too hot or something, but I burnt every single pancake. I couldn’t even dignify it with a picture of the finished product (too embarrassing). But here is a picture of them cooking: While the pancakes were subpar, I redeemed myself with the Peach Crisp with Maple Cream Sauce. That was delicious! Since peaches aren’t in-season, I used 3 15-oz. canes of lite peaches in natural juice (not in the heavy syrup). I imagine that you could also use frozen peaches for this recipe though. I thought about adding oats next time, what do you think? The maple cream sauce really makes this dessert extra special though, so don’t skip on that. That’s about it for the Hawleys, have a great week!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Surprise Door Number 2

September 1, 2007 I had the surprise of a lifetime, when I opened my front door and found my future husband kneeling on one knee with a ring and a proposal. This past Saturday I opened our front door and found my husband back from his trip off-shore a week early. I was so happy and shocked and confused and surprised to have him back that I just stood there with my mouth open and tears rolling down my face with flashbacks from our proposal. I’m so glad to have him back safe and healthy! My life is truly complete when we’re together. We both have a whole new respect for families who live this lifestyle on a regular basis; it is very challenging. Thank you everyone for your emails, phone calls, and prayers of support; we are truly grateful.

I’m glad that I got the house cleaned on Saturday before Phil returned. The kitchen was beginning to look like a “bachelor pad” (or “bachelorette pad” in this case). I had cereal bowls everywhere. There was really no reason to cook and I was working a lot so I just ate cereal for all my meals. Phil told me I lost weight… so I guess I could be in the Special K commercials inspiring weight loss. I'm not sure if this is true or not, but I'll take the compliment :-)

I was so happy to watch the Superbowl with Phil. I love an underdog story, but ultimately I was hoping the Colts were going to smash the Saints. I was also looking forward to Carrie Underwood singing the National Anthem. I thought Underwood had the potential to blow Whitney Houston’s ’91 version out of the water (if you don’t remember this one you have to youtube it; Houston was phenomenal). I’m not sure if Underwood was successful at surpassing Houston, but I still think she did a great job. Now that football season is over, we are already engrossed in basketball season; sports viewing in this household never stops.

Last night I made the PW’s Chicken Spaghetti. While I was cooking it, I was thinking that Phil was not going to like this dish at all because it was a little bit creamy. After I took it out of the oven, I set it on the stove to cool and was doing something in the other room when I heard, “Hey D (‘D’ is what Phil calls me), I like this stuff!” So apparently the smell lured him into the kitchen and he actually liked it! I’m glad I don’t know him too well, because it keeps me on my toes and keeps life interesting. For the recipe, I used 2 lbs of skinless, boneless chicken tenders instead of the fryer chicken and chopped them into bite size pieces. I used ½ of the pimento recommendation, omitted the cheese topping, and used whole wheat spaghetti noodles. Phil’s suggestions for this recipe were: cut the chicken amount in half and add shrimp and mushrooms.
Chicken Spaghetti page 130
Back home in WV and VA they are getting smashed with snow. They got another couple feet of snow last weekend and are expected to get more this week. Please keep the east coast in your prayers.

Last Thursday we found out the Phil’s younger sister is expecting a boy! We are so happy for them and can’t wait to start spoiling our new nephew! Congratulations Joni and Anthony!!!

Monday, February 1, 2010

The Latest News

I felt like last week was a whirlwind. Monday night Phil got the notice that he would be going off shore, and leaving the very next day. We had been praying for the opportunity to come along for over a year now but we had just gotten to the point where we thought it wasn’t going to happen. Well this time it did and very quickly. By Tuesday evening he was already on his way off-shore somewhere in the Gulf. We’re not sure how long he will be gone, but I’m hoping not too long. Communication is sporadic, so I quickly developed the habit of having my phone within 2 feet of my reach at all times. We’ve never been apart from each other this long and it has definitely been difficult. We have a new respect for families who deal with these types of distances on a regular basis. I have been reciting Matthew 6:34 over and over since he has left; I know he is in God’s hands so I need not worry.

During the week it got much cooler here and I have had to break out my coat and scarf again. But it hasn’t been nearly as cold as I hear it has been back home in Virginia. My family called and said they got another foot or so of snow. This is their second blizzard of the winter; the first winter with 2 since the 80’s!

Over the weekend I went to a surprise going away party for an awesome couple in our smallgroup. We’re really going to miss the Smith’s but wish them the best and congratulations on their new chapter in life.

After much searching all over Houston, I finally found my cast iron skillet on Saturday! It seems like everyone from the cookbook club has been emailing where they found theirs and what kind of deals they were finding, so it was fun to get out there and search for mine. I got a pre-seasoned 12-inch Lodge for $15 at none-other than my trusty Kroger. Here are the Pioneer Woman recipes that I tried last week:
Malboro Man’s Favorite Sandwich (page 88)… made Phil very happy
Oatmeal Crispies with Double Vanilla Ice Cream (page 226)… reminded me of my childhood when my mom used to make my sister and I ice cream sandwiches with oatmeal cookies
Meatloaf (page 150) and Macaroni and Cheese (page 96)…how come I have never thought of wrapping meatloaf in bacon? I mean really, does it get any better than that?
French Breakfast Puffs (page 66)…these were good but definitely a cavity waiting to happen
Egg-in-the-hole (page 46) and Basic Breakfast Potatoes (page 48)… we call the “egg-in-the-whole” dish, Dippy Eggs, because you can dip the cutout, in this case I tried a heart, in the egg. For the breakfast potatoes I added eggs instead of sausage or bacon, and added mushrooms and spring onions.
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