Monday, March 29, 2010

Could've Fooled Me

My best friend Katie got me a subscription to the Food Network’s monthly magazine for Christmas (she knows me so well!) This month there was a fun article on April Fool’s Day dessert recipes that I thought I would pass along to you in case you are looking for a joke to play. Happy April Fools Day!
Looks like: Sushi
Actually: Rice krispy treats, gummies, & coconut

Looks like: Lasagna
Actually: Banana pudding cake with strawberry jam, whipped cream, & mint

Looks like: Crab cakes
Actually: Fried ice cream with a white chocolate “tartar” sauce

Looks like: Bread sticks
Actually: Cinnamon-sugar sticks with strawberry dip instead of “ketchup”

And for my favorite, Looks like: A lox bagel sandwich
Actually: A doughnut with toffee toppings, papaya for the “salmon,” frosting for the “cream cheese,” & a red gummy for the “tomato.”
xoxo Darby

Junk Food

I think this must come with the season, but it certainly is a bummer that junk-food season comes right before bathing suit season! This is the perfect time of year, between the rodeo and the scorching summer, when playing in the park & cookouts are best. Friday night I had every intention of cooking dinner, but truly lost track of time at work and got home too late to start cooking. We ended up walking to the neighborhood pizza shop and having my favorite pie, The Mona Lisa A-La-Lisa. Yum-O! It was the perfect way to start the weekend outside. On Saturday we went to a pool-side cookout to celebrate the birthday of one of our Doulos students. Phil also had his Burger Buddies event on Saturday. The women in our Sunday school class do the cookbook club, but the men have “Burger Buddies”. Yes this is a very unpopular group name that I find hilarious..check out the icon they put on their t-shirts; soooooo funny!
They test and rate all the famous burgers around Houston. Phil missed the first one because he was off shore, but he got to go this week to Lankford’s Grocery & Market. Not to be confused, this is not a grocery store, but a small hole-in-the-wall restaurant that was featured on Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-ins, & Dives.” Phil got the famous burger featured on the show: a ½ pound burger with mac-n-cheese, jalapenos, a fried egg, cheese, bacon, and I’m not sure if there was anything else on there, but that sounds like enough to me, don’t you think? He said that it was ok, and I said that it sounds like a heart attack waiting to happen. This is Lankford’s:

This is also the time of year that Phil considers, “the best time of the year”….yes he is referring to March Madness. Saturday evening I was a nervous wreck watching WVU play Kentucky. When I heard that we were playing them, I was immediatly nervous, but apparently my cheering (which someone else called “wild animal sounds”) helped the team. I can’t help it if I’m an animated basketball fan! Anyways, we’re going to the final four! Go Mountaineers! In the spirit of basketball, Phil & I played a game of basketball after church on Sunday at the park. I crushed him on the court… ok we all know that is the biggest stretch from reality, but a girl can dream can’t she?!

Back home in Richmond, my dad’s band had a show on Saturday. I wish I could have been there, but I heard they were awesome! Hopefully I can get back to Virginia to hear them play soon.

Yesterday was Palm Sunday, the beginning of Holy Week; a very special week where we remember and meditate on the events leading up to the crucifixion and resurrection. If you’re looking for a special devotion to do this week, our church offers a fantastic (and free) devotion as well as other free webcasts that you can watch:

Here are my recipes from last week: Lasagna- To be honest, I was really nervous to make this because my mother-n-law has mastered her lasagna recipe. This one was good, but we still thought Shirley’s is way better so I’m going to have to keep working on it. Delicious Cheddar Puffs- This appetizer is not in the PW’s cookbook but it is on her website. The cheddar puffs were pretty easy to make, but I have to say that I wouldn’t recommend making the puffs. Instead if you like fondue, this is the perfect recipe for cheese fondue. You could dip fruit, bread, or vegetables in this cheese and it’s fantastic. Cheesecake Cookies- This is actually another Paula Deen recipe. I got this from the same episode as the fried ravioli from last week’s post. I made this with the cheddar puffs for our Doulos bible study and I think everyone really liked them. The best part is the pecan crust!
Sherried Tomato Soup Minus the Sherry- Since it was a little cooler last weekend, and maybe our last cool weekend for a while, I made this easy tomato soup. I omitted the sherry & only used 4 tablespoons sugar, instead of the 6 she recommended. This soup is a nice creamy bisque. As a testament to the flavor of this soup, as I was writing this blog entry I got an email from Phil at work telling me that he really liked the soup I packed him for lunch. Perfect Pot Roast- I have wanted to try this recipe ever since the PW made it on Good Morning America; however, I seem to be a bit of a rebel and can only follow instructions but so far. I followed the recipe for the carrots, onions, and braising the roast…but after that I was gone and decided to put everything in the crockpot. I had all of the ingredients in the crockpot at about 6pm on Sunday and by 6pm on Monday, after cooking on low for about 24 hours, it was so tender and juicy! The PW’s Perfect Pot Roast + her Mashed Potatoes = one very happy husband. Hope you all have a fantastic week! Happy Easter!
Love, The Hawleys
xoxo Darby

Monday, March 22, 2010

Spring has Sprung

Since last week was spring break, I got caught up on a lot of writing at work and even had time to start working on my spring-time goals. As for my “gardening,” I got some parsley, oregano, and rosemary in my kitchen window now. Since I have only had the herbs for a day or so, I will have a better report of my green thumb next week. Phil and I got a sushi cookbook and some of the kitchen tools that we will need, but haven’t actually tried it yet. Everyone in our Wednesday night bible study likes sushi so we might use them as our guinea pigs. During the break we also got a few boring maintenance things done: tires on Phil’s car and new mirrors in the bathroom. I sure am going to miss the productivity associated with spring break! My herbs: On Saturday we went to a beautiful wedding at the Gallery. We were so honored that Beth and Erik would share their special day with us. The ceremony was so nice, the food was fantastic, the DJ played all of the greatest hits, and the cakes were delectable! Phil and I had so much fun and danced so much that when we got home my thighs were hurting when I walked up the stairs (and they are still sore actually!) Congratulations to the new Mr and Mrs Erik Woods, and thank you for sharing such a special day with us. Here are my new recipes from last week:
Pizza Crust & Pie- After an incredibly long week, we broke down and ordered a pizza pie 2 Fridays ago. The hour and 45 minute wait for the pizza to arrive was a sign in itself for how the pie was going to taste. Needless to say, it was by far the worst pizza I had ever tasted. This past week I turned to the PW with high hopes for a better pie; Mrs. Drummond did not disappoint! This was so yummy! I’m really glad that I only did one of the recommended layers of cheese; I can’t imagine how cheesy 2 layers would be! This is the dough rising and the finished product: "Green" Velvet Cake- Growing up, my mom used to dye everything edible green on St. Patrick’s Day. It was something that my sister and I always looked forward to. For snack at bible study, I made the PW’s Red Velvet Cake, and in the spirit of St. Patty's, dyed it green.
Fried Ravioli with Marinara Cream Sauce- This is a Paula Deen recipe that I watched her make last week. I decided to pair this with my green velvet cake for our Wednesday night bible study. Before frying the ravioli I rolled them in ground pecans (which is what the chunky stuff on them is) and it was so tasty! If you make this for an event double the recipe because I promise you will run out! Here is the link:
xoxo Darby

Monday, March 15, 2010

Spring is in the air

You know it’s spring break when…
…I sleep late and don’t even get out of bed until 6am!
…my commute to work is 4 minutes instead of 30!
…I get to park at the front of the parking lot!
…I get to wear shorts to work!

Phil and I kicked off spring break over the weekend with our first sunburn of the season! We were so happy to play outside and have picnics this weekend that we totally forgot about the concept of sunscreen, but we will be more careful with that for the rest of the spring/summer. I have a few goals for the spring. Phil and I love to eat sushi, and do so at least once a week, but I figured that it can’t be that difficult to learn how to make….I mean there is no actual “cooking” involved so it can’t be that challenging, right? The PW has some sushi recipes on her website so I think I am going to start with those and see how I fair. Also this spring/summer I think I want to try my hand at gardening. I haven’t gardened since living in Houston so I think I might get back into that this season. I gotta say that the PW has done it again. These were fantastic meatballs! I think I was expecting a flavor more similar to Italian or BBQ, but her description of these “mini meatloafs” was perfect. I paired it with her macaroni and cheese. Congratulations to the WVU Mountaineers!!! We are so happy about the win!!!
Sorry this post was all over the excuse is spring break. Have a great week and…
xoxo Darby

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Twogether in Texas

So many times in society, the media, and the world around us we are bombarded with messages devaluing marriage. Divorce is frequently encouraged as the solution to issues, but instead of “fixing” problems it typically makes things more complicated. We have become desensitized to these types of situations and have come to accept the reality of our society’s view on marriage. Imagine my shock when I saw this billboard message on my way home from work yesterday: “FREE marriage classes and counseling,”. I was convinced it was some sort of scam but I was hopeful that I was wrong; as soon as I got home I rushed to the website. The state of Texas is offering free marriage classes focusing on improving communication, learning conflict resolution skills, encouraging practical tools for building a stronger marriage, and ultimately learning to love your husband/wife more fully and for life. Not only are these classes free, but the certificate for graduating the class is a coupon for $60 off a marriage license! In an effort to reach out to more people, these classes are offered in English and Spanish to those who are engaged and to those who are already married. This program is sponsored by Alliance for North Texas Healthy Effective Marriages (ANTHEM), a faith-based non-profit organization working to develop healthy, long-lasting marriages and divorce prevention. As I was reading through this website my mouth was gaping open in complete and total shock. As surprised as I was to see that this type of FREE faith-based course actually exists and that it is being advertised on such a busy highway, I am so happy to see the message behind it. Isn’t that awesome?! What a great way to be surprised in afternoon traffic!
As I was talking to Phil about this experience he showed me this couple off of MSN’s homepage. A couple married for 85 years!!!! Check out Herbert and Zelmyra Fisher’s story:
xoxo Darby

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Keep'n it Real

Just in case you thought that I had everything together, I wanted to prove you wrong with a look at my filthy kitchen. This is what it looks like when I cook…..Even obsessively-compulsive perfectionists make big messes when they cook :-)

There is a section of the PW’s cookbook where she takes pictures of her kitchen to prove how she is “keep’n it real”. A couple weeks ago I finally worked up enough nerve to email the PW a suggestion for her blog. I think it would be fun for people to post pictures of their “real” kitchens. Phil says that it would be really easy to stage that, which is true, but I still think it would be funny, don’t you?

We had a great weekend; I got a lot of writing done and Phil helped a family from church move. I think helping people move must be one of his spiritual gifts. I have been working really hard on this next manuscript deadline so instead of cooking Phil took me on a couple dates this weekend so we could relax and just be together. He is a wonderful husband!

My cast iron skillet skills are improving. I have been using my skillet more and more and I’m getting much more comfortable with it. For the longest time I was just too scared to try it- which I know is ludicrous- so I have been using it for practically everything now and I am starting to love it! Here are a few of the PW dishes I made this week:

PW Potato skins- I had never tasted, let alone cooked potato skins before, so this was a tasty first. Olive Cheese Bread- I made this as a snack for our Wednesday night bible study and before I make this again I would make a couple alterations to the recipe. One of the PW's variations suggests parmesan cheese but I would definitely stick with the Monterey Jack cheese. “Olive” being in the title would suggest that the main ingredient is olives, but there are just way too many and coming from a person who loves olives I think that says a lot. However, I will say that this is a really easy snack to whip-up really quickly before you have company over. PW Monkey Bread- I got this recipe off of the PW’s website and I would never be able to forgive myself if I didn’t pass it along to you. I had heard of Monkey Bread before (because Phil has been asking for it) but I had never actually had it before; honestly, I don’t know how I lived before discovering Monkey Bread! I love the fact that the majority of the “cooking” is done in a ziplock baggie; no dishes! I think I might add chopped pecans next time, what do you think? If you have little monkeys running around your house, this will definitely bring a smile to their faces!

xoxo Darby

Thursday, March 4, 2010

And it was very good!

God saw all that he had made, and it was very good ~ Gen 1:31
I was walking on campus today and thought it was beautiful! How blue is that sky?! What a gorgeous day!
xoxo Darby

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The PW's Tour

The PW was all over tv last week! It was so neat to hear her voice and see that she is exactly like she writes; a very genuine woman. On Wednesday she was on Fox and Friends making her scrumptious cinnamon rolls. To view the Fox segment:
Then on Thursday morning she was on Good Morning America making her pot roast. To view the GMA segment: Last week I made the PW’s fried chicken, twice-baked potatoes, and buttermilk biscuits with honey butter. I also made her Pico de Gallo and Guacamole.
xoxo Darby

Texas Visitors

We definitely didn’t get any snow this week, but instead had 2 thunderstorms. Our “rain season” typically is synonymous with “hurricane season,” so it’s a bit early this year and I’m just not ready to bust out my galoshes. However, despite the rain during the week, it was put on hold while our special guests from Alaska were here! Phil’s sister Joni and her husband Anthony had an extended layover in Houston, while on their way home to visit with our family. We were so happy that the weather cooperated so that they could actually enjoy some time outside. We went to the park for a picnic, did some shopping, and spent lots of time talking and laughing around the table. I truly L-O-V-E moments like that.
Anthony, Joni, and baby Orme at the park.
Who else showed up in Houston this weekend? None other than the annual Rodeo! This is a month-long rodeo that totally encompasses everything Texas. Go Texan Day was Friday to kick-off the rodeo. This day is a lot like Halloween for us because in case you didn’t notice nothing about us resembles a cowboy, but we could’ve definitely fooled you on Friday. Everyone is allowed to wear their western wear on Friday (even to work!). There were a lot of boots, belt buckles, and cowboy hats all over town. No matter how long I live in Houston, I think that I will always find this annual tradition hilarious. Everyday for the rest of the month there will be craft shows, concerts galore, BBQ competitions, bull-riding (the real kind, not the mechanical kind), mutton-busting (if you don’t know what this is you have to Google-it; it’s hilarious!), parades, a petting zoo, pig races, carnival rides, and all the delicious food you can imagine, from alligator-on-a-stick to deep fried oreos. This rodeo is one of the biggest in the world; requiring over 22,000 volunteers. All the trail riders have been arriving over the past few days for the rodeo competitions. Many of the riders have been traveling on horseback for the past month to get here….so sometimes traffic moves a bit slow to accommodate the horse drawn carriages and their riders. It’s an entertaining time in Houston!
xoxo Darby

Tiffany and Martha

One of my favorite cooking network shows is Semi-Homemade with Sandra Lee because I love how everything is so matchy-matchy. Every set is decorated to match her clothes, the food, and of course the tablescape. I love her tablescapes and how creative she is. I frequently change my tablescape, though not nearly as much or as detailed as Sandra’s. I was looking….well more like hunting, for blue table linens that were simple, affordable, and in the Tiffany Co./Martha Stewart blue. I just love that shade of blue and thought it would be great for spring. Being the planner that I am, I started looking for this in November and kept coming up short. I was telling my sister about this over Christmas and she started looking for me. Last week I got a package in the mail from my sister with these napkins inside… tablescape for spring was complete!!! Thank you Kellyn; they’re perfect!!! Isn’t she fabulous!?
xoxo Darby
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