Sunday, November 28, 2010

Cracked the Code

Since Thanksgiving is more about culinary tradition, I don’t try new recipes. But here is a couple that I tried right before the holidays:
Jordan’s Melt-in-your-mouth doughnuts: This was my first time making homemade doughnuts. I thought a deep fryer was required to make doughnuts at home, but I was wrong. These were really great, and like all of her other recipes, fast & cheap! I want to make these again to add my own twist. Chick-Fil-A Sandwich: Phil & I love the flavor of the Chick-Fil-A sandwich.....well I cracked the code! No more going without their famous chicken on Sunday! Our version is quite tasty, and, you’ll be surprised, but actually pretty healthy. A healthy AND tasty version of Chick-Fil-A that you can make at home?! HA, this is the life! Add this sandwich to the list of recipes I have cracked in my kitchen!

Clearly we couldn’t wait to dive into the sandwich....so a partially eaten sandwich is all you get for a picture.

Date Night at Home

Back in October (yes, I’m quite a bit behind on my blogging... I'm trying to catch up), Phil surprised me one evening for dinner. He told me that we were going out to eat, so I started getting ready- this is a very detailed process for me, as I’m sure you all know. When I was finally ready, Phil locked the door, we took a few steps on the porch toward the car, & then he said, “We’re here!”….this had me perplexed to say the least. We came back inside where Phil sat me in the dining room & instructed me to close my eyes. When I opened my eyes, this is what I saw:
No, I can't read any of these things either. I don’t know if you remember this, but I posted about my spring goals in March, & learning how to make sushi was one of them. Time had gotten away from me, but it hadn’t slipped the mind of my sweet husband. We spent the evening in the kitchen cooking a ton of sushi; we had a blast!

Making our own rice (we had to put it on the coffee table to dry under the fan).
Hawley Tuna Maki
...we made several styles of maki
Nigiri
We made a lot of sushi & had such a great time learning how to make it. Sidebar- We also got to use the special chopsticks my sister sent us from China.
This was an awesome date night....and we didn't even have to leave the house :-)

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Thanksgiving Left-overs

I know that I have mentioned my love for left-overs before..... ok.... yea, that statement is dripping in sarcasm! I can’t stand left-overs, & that includes Thanksgiving left-overs. I just get so bored with days & days of turkey! Typically, when I do my Thanksgiving grocery shopping, I’m already getting extra ingredients to turn my left-overs into something else. Here are some ideas to get you started in case you get bored like I do:
-Turkey pot pie *personal favorite*
-Turkey tostadas with spicy cranberry-chipotle sauce
-BBQ sandwiches
-Sweet & spicy turkey pitas
-Cranberry sauce parfait
-Cranberry crumble
-Vanilla ice cream with cranberry drizzle
-Baguettes with goat cheese and cranberry sauce
-Pierogis
-Pumpkin dip with sliced apples

Let me know if any of these ideas strike your fancy & I can send you our favorite version of the recipe

Drop By's

‘Tis this season for guests to “drop by.” I absolutely LOVE having people surprising us at our home, but sometimes I get nervous that my home is not in the best condition for company; I quickly throw things in the closets & shut bedrooms doors. But, my favorite hiding place is the dishwasher. At any point in time when we have company, you will likely find things in our dishwashing that definitely look out of place. As long as I remember to check the dishwasher before starting it, I’m fine hehe. So if you’re like me, here are a few tidy ways to cope, at least temporarily, with the demands of last-minute clean-ups for expected (and unexpected) visitors.
-Play energetic music to motivate yourself & make cleaning a “work-out”
-Wear a big apron with deep pockets (or carry a bucket/laundry basket) for holding all your supplies as you move through the house. This way you won’t waste time running from room to room to get cleaning supplies.
-Look at each room the way a guest would look at it. See where your eyes are drawn to first & start there.
-Focus your cleaning on rooms that guest will actually see: living room, kitchen, guest bedrooms, dining room, & bathrooms.
-Close doors to rooms (bedroom, laundry, office) you don’t have time to clean. In the bathroom, close the shower curtain to conceal a less-than-spotless tub.
-Do all your vacuuming at once (and last) to avoid bringing dirt from a dirty floor to one you just cleaned.
-If you’re really out of time with a lot left to do, just dim the lights! Soft lights or candlelight are intimate and festive, and can redirect the focus to what really matters- time together with the people you love.
Hope these tips help make your home shine in a hurry!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

'Stache Showdown

Vote for your favorite Octoberstache ‘stache from the past 3 years!

Kellyn Visits Houston! (x2)

Last week my sister was in Houston for work; I found this to be extremely convenient! This means that we got to see her twice this year! What a treat! We got “deluxe” pedicures, talked A LOT, & spent time together in the kitchen cooking.

Kellyn treated US to some special baked apples one night. It’s very rare to have someone else in my kitchen…..I think I could easily get used to it though. She gave me the recipe, so I will have to try these delicious apples sometime. Kellyn also gave me an early birthday present; talk about surprised! Phil & Kellyn sang for me & everything. :-) Here I am “blowing out my candles” in my Steelers gear.
Here we are, doing what we always do: G-chatting; but usually there are several states in between us.
I hope RMC sends her to Houston every year! Miss you already Kellyn; can’t wait to see you for Christmas!!!! xoxoxo

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Joyce Meyer

I have mentioned watching Joyce Meyer in the mornings at the gym, but last weekend she was in Houston doing a conference. I got a chance to go on Saturday & it was phenomenal! She is not only a dynamic speaker, but such a strong & encouraging Christian woman. She will be back in February and I will be sure to go see her then as well!
Delirious was the opening worship band
The conference was at Lakewood, and thank goodness! Otherwise, I may not have had a seat! I was so glad that there were large screens so I could see what was happening on stage.
After the conference Phil took me out to dinner…while dinner was awesome, I think what consumed my attention was the Christmas decorations

Randoms

This post is so random that I can’t even think of something clever to link these tid-bits together; sorry!

I went shopping with my friend Lindsey a while ago & was looking for a yellow flower for my hair. I have a black flower, but I wanted a yellow one to wear with it for Steeler games. I kept coming up empty handed, so I went to my favorite trusty website, Etsy to order this homemade headband…..which I’m sure ANYONE could make. Nice self-portrait, right?!
Ever heard of a cactus pear? Yeah me neither! I saw this for 20 cents at Kroger & just had to try it…..this was a once in a lifetime experience though. Our advice….stay away from the cactus pears! Resist the urge to buy the cheap fruit! Last summer (2009) Phil & I built an apparatus that was approved for a HUGE 3 year grant at Texas Children’s Hospital. Last week I brought it from UH to TCH. I’m so thankful for Phil building this, & in such a way that I, a carpentry challenged person, could easily transport it & put it back together. Here I am after reconstructing it at TCH. Here are some dishes that I made by CJ (I feel like I’m cheating on the cookbook club when I cook from this book, but I just can’t help myself!) I made this chocolate cobbler & corn chowder last Sunday. I knew that my sister was arriving late that night so I wanted her to have a nice warm family meal after 2 months of being on the road. Phil thought this was the best corn chowder ever, & I don’t think I could argue with him.
While my sister was here, we made CJ’s baked macaroni-n-cheese & served it with turkey meatloaf. The meal reminded us of our granny. I’m not sure how the meal tasted; I was too distracted by the awesome quality time I was getting with my sister.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Real Southerner

My new cookbook, Southern Plate by Christy Jordan, arrived a couple weeks ago & I was so excited to start looking through it to pick out new recipes to try. Between MNF commercials (the Ten/Jac game), Phil & I were on the couch flipping through the book…actually I think this was more me than him, but I was sure to show him every yummy picture. I quickly noticed that this really is a different cookbook. Normally recipes are organized by the type of dish it is (e.g. starters, main dishes, desserts, etc.), however, Jordan’s book is organized by seasons…so the apple fritters are between the fried chicken & the sweet tea. Originally, I thought this was very unique & convenient, but the more I rambled about it the more we thought it truly dubbed Jordan as a real southerner. She organized the recipes by what foods are being harvested at different time points throughout the year. All of her recipes require simple ingredients because, being a TRUE southerner, when you come in from a full day’s work you need something “fast & cheap because you’re tired & poor.” Don’t you just love that philosophy?! Because of this, we call her the real southerner. Check out how many pages I have marked as “to do’s”. I better get started! Fried Chicken Planks- This was the first recipe that I made by CJ; it was delicious & soooo cheap! I added some paprika & cayenne pepper, because we like our chicken extra spicy.Texas Caviar- I made this for Smallgroup last week. As I was making this, I started to realize how much there was going to be & began thinking, “I hope this is good, otherwise I will be eating this for-ev-er!” I tried it before I let it sit in the fridge overnight, & I was very nervous that no one would like it. Of course, there was a reason it was supposed to sit in the fridge & thank goodness I didn’t skip that step! I think that this was a pretty big hit, considering that I came home with none! That was exactly the way I was hoping it would go! So tips for this one, I added more green onions than she recommended, got black-eyed peas with jalapenos, & used fresh parsley from our “garden” (a.k.a. the kitchen window sill hehe) Pumpkin Crumb Cake- I liked this cake as well, but I think it was better with my coffee in the morning than it was as a dessert. Crunchy Beef Casserole- Depending on who you ask, you will get a different review: Phil “Gourmet Hamburger Helper” or me- “Glorified Hamburger Helper.” I think I was expecting something different than what I actually got. I probably won’t make this again.
Grown-Up Grilled Cheese- I must to have thought I was something hot when I made this. For some reason I thought I could take some serious heat; wow, no, I'm a WUSS! In a previous post I said that I was going to try & improve the grilled cheese recipe by EK by merging some recipes by MS. I topped white cheddar with cilantro & fresh jalapenos (with ALL of the seeds). WOW! That was good, but HOT! Creole Chicken Wraps (a.k.a. step aside Chipotle/Mission Burrito/Freebirds, Darby has come to town!)- We LOVED these! I couldn’t stop eating them! Sooooo delicious. This recipe has received the highest rating in the 5 years that I have been cooking for Phil!
Pesto Pasta- I needed something easy & fast to throw on the table. So I got some pesto, added some mozzarella, tomatoes & grilled chicken. Yum-O!
Fruit Dip- I took this to smallgroup for snack a couple weeks ago. Our friend Morgan made it for her son’s first birthday party & it was so delicious I had to try it myself. Thanks Morgan for the recommendation!
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