Monday, June 28, 2010

Kellyn Visits Houston!

My sister came to visit us a couple weeks ago; it was so nice to see her again! I had been looking forward to her visit for 3 months! We did all the things I imagine that we would do on a weekend if we lived closer. We had a spa day, got pedicures, went shopping, and lounged by the pool. I was so sad for her to leave, but am now all the more excited for our next trip home to VA!
This is the strawberry-pineapple cake I made for Kellyn. She is known as “The Princess” in our family and every princess needs a pink cake!

Our nice new toes Before churchWe don’t look anything alike, but I can see why we are called twins so frequently. We have practically the same bathing suit and sunglasses! Thanks for visiting us Kellyn; we miss you already! xoxo

Chicken Finish-Line

So many of you have sent us chicken recipe recommendations…THANK YOU! I have been entertained & Phil has been able to enjoy tons of chicken. Below are the latest chicken recipes; you’ll notice that the further down you read, the more I began weaning us off the chicken.

Chicken Roll-Ups- I added spinach & mushrooms. Thank you Morgan!
Coq au Vin- I used whole-wheat noodles & added some of the parsley I have been growingChicken Kabobs with Andouille & Black-Eyed Pea Salad & Lamb and Feta- I made 2 separate recipes on the same night since kabobs are pretty easy. I have never heard of andouille and never cooked lamb so this was a great learning experience for me. Thanks Martha!
Chicken Supreme- I used wheat noodles. Thanks Beth! Caribbean Chicken- This was not as spicy as I thought it would be.
Chicken Tacos- I saw shrimp tacos in a magazine and made a few substitutions
Mac & Cheese- I added spinach, zucchini, cayenne pepper, gruyere, whole-wheat noodles, & served it with hamburgers (no chicken this night!) Tortellini with Chicken (& prosciutto)- I will take every opportunity to add prosciutto to a meal! Fried Chicken- This is not a new recipe, but I decided to add it to the list anyways.
Of course I have not been neglecting my sweet tooth. I made some brownies by Martha Stewart and was less than impressed. I’m not even going to post a picture of them. I must be a really picky brownie eater. (I’m open to brownies recipe suggestions). I made a Hummingbird cake last night and it was delicious. Phil, not being from the true south (clearly, since he had no idea what kind of cake this was), asked me the reason for the name. My response was “some say it’s called hummingbird cake for its nectar-like sweetness; others says it’s so good, it makes you hum” This is the new cookbook that the cookbook club has decided to start this summer. Everyone wanted something “lighter on the arteries.” I have to agree!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Storm Station

As the electronic billboards have warned Houstonians, hurricane season began June 1st. The 4th Pacific ocean hurricane this year will be named Darby—that will only be neat if it’s a small hurricane…I don’t want to share a name with a huge destructive hurricane. Like people named Katrina or Ike? Yea, that would not be cool.
Ike & his aftermath in Houston
When Phil & I were in our first year of undergrad, we experienced our first large hurricane, Isabel. That fall we missed 2 weeks of school due to all of the damage. So in 2008 when Ike was upon us, we knew what to expect & how to prepare. But no matter how much we prepare, we still have to remember the power of these mighty storms and take warnings seriously. Ike was an extremely aggressive storm that left more than 4.5 million people without power for weeks & many people lost their homes. So as a reminder, make sure that your home is prepared for this hurricane season and that your emergency hurricane kit is stocked. Preparation Reminders:
• Bottled water and fill your (cleaned) tub with water as a back-up
• Non-perishable foods with a manual can opener
• Flashlights with extra batteries
• Prescription medications & a first aid kit
• Blankets & a tarp
• Essentials for infants, the elderly, & pets
• Important documents and insurance information (consider wind insurance)
• Roofing tacks & hammer
• Know your evacuation number & routes; have a map
• Keep your gas tank filled & your cell phone charged
• Board games (waiting can get boring!)
• Cash- ATMs could be down
• Toilet paper
• Keep everything in a plastic container so that it doesn’t get wet
• Visit the Texas Emergency website for other suggestions: http://www.txdps.state.tx.us/dem/pages/weather_aware_hurricane.htm
• We recommend this Storm Station: http://www.amazon.com/Black-Decker-StormStation-Rechargeable-SS925/dp/B000B8GBCC/ref=pd_sim_hi_1It has everything! We were extremely blessed during the last big storm with minimal damage and we hope to have another uneventful hurricane season!

Oasis

Memorial day weekend Phil surprised me with a vacation. We were ready to get away for a few days & Austin was the perfect destination! We got a chance to tour the capital (something I have always wanted to do), see SITC2 (yes Phil sat through this at his own suggestion & didn’t complain once- that’s an awesome husband if you ask me!), go to a music festival, & visit the Sunset Capital of Texas- the Oasis. (http://www.oasis-austin.com/) I loved the view at the Oasis; it felt like I was back in the Mediterranean. We had such a great vacation, neither of us wanted to come back to reality in Houston.
The Capital and a self-portrait of ourselves in the dome of the capital.
The view at the Oasis.
Despite my resistance, the calendar kept turning & summer school started for me last week. I have never taken a summer school class, let alone taught one & I can already see how fast the semester is going to go. Phil starts back this evening. Please pray for energy for both of us this month! Here is a picture of me at work from a couple weeks ago.
I have had a few inquiries for a chicken-kick update. Many of you have sent me chicken recipes to help entertain me, and for that, I thank you! I will be blogging about your recipes later this week. Last week, though, I made chicken stir-fry and Phil made a HUGE pot of chicken vegetable soup (and when I say “huge”, I promise I’m not exaggerating; 15-quarts of chicken soup for one person to eat is a lot! I’m so glad that he likes leftovers!) I also attempted a lemon-oregano chicken recipe by Martha Stewart with an avocado salad by Southern Living. Since we have been growing our own herbs, I have been trying to pick recipes that include those ingredients, but the lemon-oregano recipe was a 1-time recipe. We were not fans.
And last but certainly not least, Phil’s sister had her baby on Sunday! We’re so happy to welcome Elijah Anthony into our family! Congratulations Joni and Anthony!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Chicken Planning

I am a creature of habit who is easily bored (is that an oxymoron?). Being obsessively organized, every Friday morning I decide what we will eat for every meal the following week & add the ingredients to my weekly-running grocery list (I have a list for everything). Every Saturday morning, I take this trusty list and hit-up Kroger. I know my routine is a bit over the top, and maybe old fashioned, but in my defense, if I don’t do this weekly ritual when it comes around to 4pm (after an exhausting day of dealing with students) and I need to make dinner but don’t have something already planned, I walk around aimlessly for a while “thinking” until I inevitably decide on a recipe that calls for ingredients I don’t have, ensuring that dinner doesn’t hit the table until 8pm—not good. Thus I am overly structure with planning meals. Though I love structure, planning, lists, & routine…I am easily bored and things like leftovers don’t go over well with me. I would rather eat my boring Special K cereal than have leftovers (with the exception of leftover spaghetti, which everyone knows is always better the next day). So I send all leftovers with Phil for his lunch at work since he loves them.

Ok so where was I going with this post?! A few weeks ago when I asked Phil what he wanted the following week for dinner (ok see how silly that questions is? Normal wives say, “Honey, what would you like for dinner tonight?” but wives like me require a weeks notice; I am so weird sometimes! Thank goodness Phil is so laid-back!), all he said was chicken. My thought: chicken every night?! So I have been trying out various chicken recipes to satisfy Phil’s chicken-kick while entertaining my own tastebuds.

I seriously thought that the first few Sundays without my steak and baked potato I would cry. There is just something about Phil standing by the grill monitoring the steaks that just makes me fall in love with him all over again. The first sans-steak Sunday, I still got those same butterflies when I saw Phil behind the grill, even though it was BBQ Chicken and not a delicious ribeye. Clearly it is the company (the chef) that I love, and not the menu so I will be able to make it through this steak dry-spell. Please help me out by posting your favorite chicken recipes in the comments. It’s possible (and probable) that we will test and blog about your recipe suggestions. Recent chicken recipes that I have tested so far:

Cranberry Chicken (from my best friend Katie!)

Buttermilk & Herb Chicken (from my great friend Martha Stewart)

Chicken Scallopine (from my new friend PW)

Trinidad Chicken Curry (another PW recipe)

White Chicken Enchiladas (P-dub)

Haircast

There are main 2 reasons why I check the forecast in the morning: so I can know what shoes I should wear and how to style my hair. (I think that statement solidifies me as a “girlie-girl”). Growing up in Virginia, I was all too familiar with the negative effects of humidity on my hair, and moving to Houston only enhanced those effects. On Friday my sister and I laughed about a website that predicts your Haircast- instead of the forecast. You put in your zip code and the date, and it tells you what kind of hair day you will have. Below the prediction there are videos of a stylist telling you how to manage your hair based on the haircast. We thought it was hilarious and had to share it with you, so you can have the perfect “hair-do” everyday or have a good laugh: http://houston.justweather.com/haircast/USTX0617/1/
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