Friday, January 28, 2011

Free Delivery from

Randy, the local owner of, has done something very nice for us since yesterday's post. And since I didn't want it to get lost in the comment section, I thought it was deserving of a post.

By the way, this is what I love about locally owned businesses, you can interact and engage with the owners and end up feeling a smidge of ownership and investment yourself! Just another reason we should support our locally owned businesses.

So, now through the end of February, if you would like to try and you live in the delivery area, you can use the coupon code "foodnews" for free delivery. Randy just asks that you limit it to once per household.

So far, he says he's had great response, and for the most part, people have show their appreciation to his drivers.

Thanks again for the kind gesture, Randy!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Fantastic Food News

Last night, I made a rookie mistake on my way to eat dinner at Carrabba's with my sister-in-law Ashley and her sister, Jill. I found myself getting to the restaurant about 15 minutes early. And I found my car practically steering itself to Shoppes at Bellemead and parking in front of Buttercups.

I wish I could blame my car (or anyone else) for purchasing four cupcakes, but I think that part was all me. And I wish I could blame my car for the consumption of a strawberry cupcake when I got home, but I think that was all me, too. And I really wish when I got on the scale this morning that I hadn't done so because, truthfully, I will never regret eating a cupcake from Buttercups so I should avoid weighing in the cupcake consumption aftermath.

The cupcakery is going cupcake to cupcake with another cupcake shop on the Food Network show Cupcake Wars, airing at 8 p.m. March 1. I will be rooting my favorite cupcakes on. Although I probably shouldn't because these cupcakes are already around the $3 mark, and I imagine a victory will only drive the price higher. But that's just me thinking selfishly. Best of luck to Buttercups.

P.S.: Please tell me how you get your icing is so smooth. My guess: you use powdered sugar instead of cane sugar. Am I right? I think I'm on to something.

Other good news: Shreveport is the latest recipient of a service called Here's how it works. You go to the web site, select a restaurant, peruse the menu, place your order online and someone from GoWaiter will deliver the food to your house for just a $4 delivery charge. I love the "Stay In. Dine Out." concept, and I'm a little peeved that I never come up with these business opportunities.

Here are the current restaurants participating:

Sake Sushi
Counter Culture
Columbia Cafe
Firehouse Subs
Cantina Laredo

There are only a handful of other cities that have GoWaiter: Apopka, Fla.; North Orlando, Fla.; Tallahassee, Fla.; Tampa, Fla.; West Orlando, Fla.; Atlanta, Las Vegas, Nashville and SHREVEPORT.

I find the concept very progressive for Shreveport, which is not often said of our community. But if there's any way I can ever call Shreveport progressive, I always hope it's because of the restaurant industry. Keep the good eats coming, although that might mean permanent disposal of my scale.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Always Trust a Sponge in a Gold Hoop Earring

Because I was just dismissed from a day-and-a-half long meeting, this post might not center around the most riveting topic on the planet. But hang in there with me. My brain is mush. I'm afraid to turn my head too quickly for fear that important brain matter might sluff out my ear. That's disgusting.

But since I've been talking architecture, design, marketing, concrete and some other things I really don't understand, I'm going to have to keep it simple today. I'm going to have to talk about my Magic Eraser.

Last week, I mentioned that my favorite leggings had rubbed dye onto the leather seats of my two-and-a-half-month old car. I also mentioned that I'd been sitting on a towel since I noticed the problem. Not an ideal solution, but I hadn't come up with anything better. My brother caught wind of the problem and called the head of custodial services for the company he works for. My sister-in-law loved listening to Chris describe jeggings to another man. Chris' contact suggested I call Volvo and have them work on the seat because if they messed up the seat, they would have to replace it.

There's got to be an easier way, right?

So, my brilliant, handy, problem-solving husband suggested I try the Magic Eraser.

I don't know what the hell they've done to these sponges (other than add "extra power"), but I'm on board. The Magic Eraser pulled the dye right up, no problem.

Since then, I've used it on everything I deemed unclean. Except Lacy. But she's starting to really stink, so I'm tempted.

Mr. Clean and I are getting things done together. This picture more or less creeps me out. It reminds me of the relationship between Demi Moore and Patrick Swayze in "Ghost." Minus the pottery wheel. And the romance.

He's not really there lady who just finished cleaning her all-white bathroom (nightmare).

He's just a sponge.

And now I've personified the sponge.

Their marketing has gotten to me.

Or maybe it's my mushy brain's fault.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Frozen Dinner Swap: Crawfish & Corn Chowder

Following today's post, there are only two more recipes left in the Frozen Dinner Swap series. I've got a few more recipes up my sleeve, so I think my next recipe series will focus on Best Dishes -- what I consider to be the best recipes from my kitchen. That may be a very short collection of posts!

This weekend, as part of my Cooking Extravaganza, I prepared my sister-in-law Ashley's Crawfish & Corn Chowder. In other parts of the country, chowder is all about clams. They also pronounce it "chowda." Every fiber of my being disagrees. Us Southern girls prefer a spicier version loaded with crawfish (or shrimp).

We love crustaceans below the Mason-Dixon. And as kids, we can sometimes fish them out of the drainage ditch near our homes after it's rained a lot. Can you do that with a clam? I didn't think so.

{That's Ashley on the left. We love each other. And scarves. That's Casey in the middle. We love her too. I'm not sure how she feels about scarves.}

Ashley is a great cook. Her food is always delicious, and the recipes are easy to follow. Ty and I will be having this for dinner tonight with Mama Mia's garlic bread (your taste buds will do laps in all that butter! Which is essential to offset the soup's spicy heat). It's such a cozy, easy weeknight meal.

Crawfish (or Shrimp) & Corn Chowder

1/4 cup butter
2 pounds frozen crawfish or shrimp, cleaned
2 (10.75 oz) cans condensed cream of potato soup
1 (10.75 oz) can cram of mushroom soup
2 (15.25 oz) cans whole kernel corn, drained
4 oz cream cheese, softened
2 cups half-and-half
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon liquid crab boil
  • Melt butter and saute the crawfish or shrimp for 5 minutes and set aside (Note: The crawfish will render a lot of liquid. No worries and no need to drain them. Juices = Good).
  • In a large pot over medium heat, combine potato soup, mushroom soup, corn and cream cheese. Mix well and bring to a slow boil.
  • Stir in half-and-half and crawfish. Season with cayenne pepper and crab boil.
  • Bring to low boil and simmer for 15 minutes to blend flavors.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Decorating for Newlyweds

After seeing our picture in the newspaper today, I was so glad that I rushed out and purchased that mirror. Last week, Ty and I were interviewed by The Times about how we've merged our lives/stuff together in the few months we've been married.

The reporter's first question: "What is your greatest conflict?"

I didn't know if I wanted to air the personal details of my marriage for The Times readership. I thought we were discussing home decor!! I've had multiple night terrors since this interview. I've hoped and prayed that Ty and I would have all the right, "healthy" answers ... and basically that we sounded like we liked each other.

I think the story turned out to be very cute, and I was thankful that I didn't have fat face in our photo since I strategically picked to be photographed from my good side. But my hair does look a little funky in the back.

The look on Ty's face: "Come and get it, sister!"

The look on my face: "Dang it, quit pulling so hard!"

You can read the story here:

Merging Material Possessions Can Be Tricky for Newlyweds

Here's a recap of the other things we did this weekend:
  1. Cooking Extravaganza. I spent all day Saturday cooking and putting away food. Since our frozen dinner swap, I've loved being able to go to the freezer and pull out something for a quick easy weeknight meal. This weekend I prepared enough food to help us survive a global collapse:
      • Crawfish Corn Chowder (recipe to come this week)
      • Pulled Pork (I brined for the first time, and it feels so good)
      • Roast Spaghetti
      • Chicken Divan
  2. Nursed my Husband Back to Health. Ty Grady never gets sick. Ever. I woke up Saturday night to a sick husband and stayed up with him until he dozed off. We had to miss church Sunday, but by the end of the day, Ty was feeling much better and I had completely disinfected our home. Now, I just have to conquer the fear that I'm going to catch whatever bug he had.
  3. Dinner with Friends. Friday night, we went to dinner with seven adults and three children. The woman nearly passed out when I told her there were "two more children on the way." She started scrambling for more high chairs, and I quickly had to point to bellies and explain. The Brewers are expecting their second daughter, and Mandy and Justin have another little one on the way. I can't wait to meet my new neice/nephew! Although, I don't know how we'll ever all go to dinner together once the second round of babies arrive.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Products I'm Loving

My mother-in-law comes up with the best stocking stuffers - jewelry, gloves, socks, beauty products, the largest candy canes you've ever seen. The thing is a treasure trove! It makes me feel like a kid again.

There were a few awesome products and gifts I was given this year, and I wanted to share them with you so that you could stop whatever you're doing and rush out to buy these items. I mean it. Totally worth it. Take a half day of vacation. Make it happen. Just read the last one off the coffee cup sitting on my desk. Although, I would much rather have a coffee cup that encouraged me to take half days of vacation.

For starters:

C.O. Bigelow Mentha Lip Shine.

I'm a lover, believer, supporter of all things Bert's Bees, but after meeting this lip balm, my affections have wavered. It's minty, tingly feeling like Bert's, but it tastes amazing and supposedly freshens your breath since the balm uses peppermint oil. I think you can get this at Bath & Body Works. Buy it. Hide it. And don't leave it in your pocket and run it through the dryer. We've lost many a tube of Bert's this way.

I am obsessed with this necklace from my sister-in-law/upstairs neighbor. The designer's name is Julie Simpson (pictured wearing my little gold "J" initial necklace) and she lives in San Diego. But her sister lives in Northwest Arkansas and Mandy knows her, and therefore knows about her jewelry, and therefore got me this amazing, cute, delicate, perfect necklace. I think that's how this story goes? Right, Mandy?

I've gotten a lot of initial jewelry since becoming a Jordan, but this is my hands-down favorite. Julie's jewelry is very popular with the celebrities. Especially her constellation necklaces. I think Jennifer Aniston has one? Right, Mandy?

I love these jeggings because they're thick and substantial feeling, and they don't make me feel like I'm walking around pantsless. Or worse, wearing pajama jeans. Now, for the record, I don't wear them with short shirts like the ones pictured above. I pair them with cardigans and longer blouses because, after all, jeggings may be comfortable, but they don't work miracles. If you think of them as leggings, then you'll probably feel they're a little pricey. But if you consider them jeans, they'll fall into an acceptable price range. It's all about perspective. And I'm a master at adjusting mine according to my wants.

Also, heed my warning, these leggings are definitely "inky." They rubbed blue dye onto my light tan leather car seats and now I can't get it off. And I'm also sitting on a towel. Any suggestions on how to remove blue jean dye from leather? Holler.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Friend I Want to Be

I was riding to dinner last week with my best friend LJ when she mentioned that she'd sent a text to a friend she hadn't spoken with in a while. I fessed up that I thought that was my greatest weakness as a friend, I never call or text just to check up. LJ said she wasn't as good at it as I was giving her credit for ... and then she said she felt like she was sitting on the other side of my confessional.

{Please don't mention how thin I was, was being the keyword. This was college, when I had to fold over my size 0 pants to get them to stay up and my grandmother would ask my roommates if I was bulimic. I miss my high metabolism. Live it up youngins. 25 changes everything.}

The truth is, I think LJ has so many qualities that you look for in a friend. She's thoughtful and checks in regularly ... and for no reason, just to say "hi." She's been my best friend for years. When I had two tickets to the Masters, it was a no-brainer that I would give her one. If Emily Post would have said I could have two matron of honors, she would have been one in my wedding. We got married within a year of each other, I'm hoping we can coordinate our family planning in the same fashion (I'm kidding, sort of, this would actually be a very nice arrangement).

{This is what usually happens when LJ is around - she makes people laugh. Who knows what she said, but I guarantee it was funny. ... and possibly inappropriate.}

She's a great friend when you're around her and a great friend even when you haven't seen her in weeks. And all of this got me thinking, I want to be the kind of friend that I like to have.

I've been blessed with so many wonderful girlfriends, and I drop the ball sometimes. So, call it a resolution of sorts, but I hope to be a better friend this year. I aspire to be the friend who sends kind notes for no reason. The friend who texts to check in even though there's no significant news to share. The friend who wishes the best for the women in her life and encourages their journey.  

There's something remarkable about friendships shared with other women. There are girls who bring out the good in me ... I just want to return the favor.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Recommended Reading: 'The Help'

Last weekend was a lazy one for me. I spent most of my time resting, sipping on peppermint tea and reading "The Help." I've been reading this book for a while now, and wanted to share it with you, but I figured I should finish it before recommending it to anyone else.

This book ranks among my other favorite novels: "East of Eden," "Mrs. Dalloway" and "Secret Life of Bees." And I think it took me so long to read because I wanted to savor each word and capture each detail. They're currently filming the movie in Jackson, and I can't wait to see how the movie interpretation stacks up to what I visualized as I read the book. So far, Emma Stone looks nothing like how I pictured Skeeter.

In a nutshell, the book tells the story of several maids working for white families in Jackson during the civil rights movement. It mixes fiction with history, including the death of Medgar Evers and the marches led by Martin Luther King.

In some ways, the book reminded me of the housekeeper who worked for our family for years. Her name was Verse (I'm not even sure I'm spelling that right, but it's pronounced Ver-see), and she worked for my family before I was born up until my early teen years.

When Chris and I were out of school during the summer, we stayed home with Verse. I think Verse probably preferred the days we weren't home creating messes where she had just cleaned. She was not shy about disciplining us when necessary, but I knew Verse loved us.

Verse picked us up from school sometimes. I still think about that when I see cars that look like hers. Felt fabric was stapled to the interior roof of her car, and Chris and I couldn't help but pick out the staples when Verse wasn't looking. She didn't like that very much.

It would be easy to simplify Verse's role in our lives and say that she was just a housekeeper, but Verse was there during some of the hardest times for our family. She was there when both of my mom's parents passed away. And she was there during my parents' divorce, and I think that time was difficult for her, too.

I never heard or saw Verse again once she stopped working for our family. But on her last day of work, she asked me if I would give her a picture of our family. I don't know where Verse is now, or if she's still living, but I think about her often and the influence she had on my life.

And I think she often looked at the picture I gave her that day and thought about us, too.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Getting the Hang of Things

For Christmas, my friend Lauren gave me this precious pink tool set. It was a very domestic gift, as she called it, and it has come in handy on multiple occasions since Christmas. Before, when I needed to hang things, I called Lauren to see if she could come over and give me a hand. But with the pink tool set, I feel like she's given me wings and told me that I was ready to fly/decorate myself.

Having the right tools is the easy part. Knowing how to use them is where things get a little tricky for me. And then there's math. And fractions. And math with fractions. And all of that is supposed to result in you knowing where to hammer your nail into the wall. And, typically, my nail is never in the right spot, which is a less-than-glowing testimony of my mathematical skills.

This explains why I have a closet full of items that haven't been hung. Fear. Intimidation. Simple Math.

Embracing all the confidence a pink tool set can give, I made it my mission this weekend to hang all the things I've been meaning to hang. 

This is the window pane I refinished a while back, along with some beautiful transferware that was put together for me by Nancy with English Tranferware. It blows my mind that I managed to get these hung, evenly spaced and centered on the wall. I'm still not exactly sure how it happened, but I'm positive it had something to do with the fact Ty was helping me.

Ty was given this framed piece from his youth minister many years ago. I love what it says and wanted to hang it near the entrance of our home. I need simple reminders like this more often than others. 

Here are the two walls side by side. I originally planned to hang all the plates together, but I think they work better divided into the two spots.

And after living in our house nearly a year, I finally found something to hang above our mantle. I found this mirror at Red Door Interiors, hidden in a small room behind several stacked crates, and decided it was perfect for our mantle. It's brushed gold and the way the metal curls and bends it sort of looks like tree bark. All of the heavy lifting was done by my husband and brother-in-law, but I love the results.

With a little help along the way, I think I'm starting to get the hang of this.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Best Dishes: Pan-Roasted Chicken

A few years back, my friend and fellow Times reporter Francis McCabe gave me this cookbook for my birthday.

At that time, Francis and I both worked nights at the paper and after deadline, we would sit around and talk food, relationships, life goals, the novels we would write one day, the ins and outs of life and everything in between.

Or we would go to the bar.

We usually went to the bar.

But, thinking back, Francis managed to pull information out of me like few people could. He probably knew me better than most of my friends at that time and definitely better than any of my co-workers. Francis is capable of making you feel like he really wants to know you. I think he makes most people feel like that.

Francis now works in Las Vegas, but I think of our friendship each time I use this cookbook. Francis gave me this cookbook not because of the recipes inside, but because I thought Tyler Florence was the most delicious man, ever.

You've got to love a man fresh in from the harvest. This was, of course, before I met my husband who does not harvest vegetables. But he does clean the pool, and mow the lawn, and fix things around the house which is equally as hot. Perhaps, even hotter.

When Francis left The Times to go work in Vegas, I decided I would throw him a dinner party at my apartment and invite a few friends over to wish Francis well. And I decided it would be even more special if I made the menu from the cookbook Francis had given me. That was the first time I made this chicken dish, Pan-Roasted Chicken with Porcini Mushrooms, Prosciutto and Marsala Sauce, which has turned out to be my very favorite chicken dish to prepare.

My husband disagrees, and says the Alice Springs Chicken is his favorite. But I love how all these flavors -- especially the salty prosciutto -- combine with the Marsala sauce to give it a perfect salty/sweet balance.

From the sound of it, this recipe may seem complicated and intimidating, but it's actually pretty simple and you're likely to have some/most of these ingredients swimming around somewhere in your pantry.

Pan-Roasted Chicken with Porcini Mushrooms, Prosciutto and Marsala Sauce

4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
3/4 cup all purpose flour, for dredging
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 ounces of thinly sliced prosciutto (I used the pre-packaged prosciutto, which is about 3 oz. but is still enough)
8 ounces of fresh porcini or cremini mushrooms (or whatever you find in your supermarket, I used a bag of washed, sliced mushrooms)
1/2 cup sweet Marsala wine
1/2 cup chicken stock
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • Put the chicken breasts side by side on a cutting board and lay a piece of plastic wrap over them. Pound to about 1/2 inch thick with a flat meat mallet, a heavy saucepan or a bottle (I use a rolling pin and this step is very fulfilling after a long, aggravating day at work).
  • Put flour in a shallow dish and season with a fair amount of salt and pepper, mix with your fingers and taste to make sure it's well seasoned.
  • Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. When skillet is hot, dredge chicken cutlets in the seasoned flour, shake off the excess and put the cutlets into the pan and fry for 5 to 7 minutes on each side, until golden, turning once (Do in batches if cutlets don't fit comfortably in the pan). Remove chicken to a large platter and cover with foil to keep warm.
  • Now, make your sauce. Lower the heat to medium and add the prosciutto to the pan. Add a drizzle of olive oil (about 2 tbsp) and saute for about 1 minute. Add the mushrooms and add another drizzle of olive oil. Saute until mushrooms are nicely browned and their moisture has evaporated. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Pour the Marsala wine into the pan and boil down for a few seconds to cook out the alcohol. Then add the chicken stock to simmer for a minute to reduce the sauce slightly.
  • Stir in the butter and return chicken to the pan. Simmer gently for 1 minute to heat the chicken through.
  • Season with salt and pepper and garnish with chopped parsley before serving.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Surgery Psych-Out

Starting Monday afternoon, I began to feel that all too familiar feeling in the back of my throat. The swollen, scratchy symptoms that mean a sinus infection is soon to arrive. Unfortunately, I'm no stranger to these symptoms. After my doctor looked at my chart yesterday, I realized I've had three sinus infections in one year. How is that fair?

With an infection of any sort, most surgeons don't want to operate on you. Especially when you're going to be put under for the procedure, so for me that meant I had to cancel my tumor surgery. I'm a little disappointed. As disappointed as anyone could be about NOT having surgery. To have the surgery, I've really had to psych myself up. And now, my sinus infection has psyched me out.

Since I won't be knocked out for four to five days, I've agreed to something else that requires me to psych myself up. ... an interview with The Times. The last time I was in the paper it was more on my terms.

I was the interviewer, not the interviewee. And although the cheesiness of my pose and that little black box I'm leaning on may haunt me until eternity, not to mention that blond hair, I get an even larger pit in my stomach with the thought of having to answer questions. From a reporter. On the spot.

And then there's a picture. Special request to The Times: can we restart that old, blurry printing press? Pretty please! The new press is so unforgiving. And then, I wonder what am I going to wear. Starting this weekend, I believe I'll begin photographing myself in all my favorite outfits as a trial run.

Ty and I are going to be interviewed on the compromises newlyweds face when they begin living under one roof. I feel like Ty and I had a slight advantage. We were moving into a place that was neither mine nor his, but ours. We pretty much started with a clean slate.

But as any wife will tell you, there are always compromises to be made. Ty's millions of t-shirts dating back to the early 90s. The mounted duck sitting in my living room. The yellow lab who's probably the cause of my sinus infections since I'm more or less allergic to her. The couch that his former roommate's date puked on one night (This item was ditched just weeks ago. We put it on the curb and no one picked it up, so it must have been as bad as I imagined. And once you get married, flipping the cushion is no longer an acceptable cleaning method.).

And in case you were curious, Ty hasn't had to make any compromises on my behalf. I'm flawless (wink, wink).

The things we do for love!

I need to get my wheels turning so I can sound somewhat thoughtful when answering the reporter's questions, so tell me, what compromises have you and your spouse made around the house along the way?

Monday, January 10, 2011

Our Blended Family

When Ty and I decided we would make permanent residence under one roof (some would call this "shacking up" ... now I'm embarrassed), we had one primary concern. How would our dogs get along?

Sure, they'd spent plenty of time together in the past, but they'd never shared the same territory. I feared there would be a lot of "marking" going on, which isn't very desirable when you move into your new house. I feared our property value would plummet.

Nearly a year later, this is how it's all worked out.

Our two pups have become the best of friends. They're Milo and Otis ... if Milo wasn't a cat. Unless Baxter gets too close to Lacy's food bowl and then things get complicated.

But with the wedding planning and honeymoon that led straight into a busy holiday season, maybe our dogs have been slightly neglected. For example, in the picture above you only see three glowing eyes. That's not because Baxter is a one-eyed animal, but because his vision is partially obstructed by one giant, bushy eyebrow. I'm sorry, dude. I'm just glad he hasn't run into any walls. We haven't seen his eyeballs in months.

Mr. B has looked semi-homeless for a while now. So, feeling like the terrible mother that I am, I made him a hair appointment for this past weekend. If just the sight of my poor puppy didn't make me feel bad enough, the groomer lady pulled out my file to let me know it had been a year since Baxter's last appointment. I don't handle guilt trips well, so rather than just ignoring her comment, I let her know that Baxter had been going somewhere else. Zing!

Here's Baxter enjoying his car ride home, post-haircut.

He perked up after we passed Cheddar's, and then we had a conversation about why people are freaking out over this place. For all intents and purposes, it's pretty much a Chilis. And if you haven't eaten there lately, it's actually pretty gross.

I can discuss these topics at length, and after a while, Baxter grew uninterested.

Or maybe he was just tired from his busy day.

Or possibly he missed his friend Lacy.

Or, most likely, his eyes couldn't tolerate the bright light without his overgrown giant, bushy eyebrows.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Frozen Dinner Swap: Crockpot Chicken & Dumplings

One of the things I remember the most fondly about my Memaw (my mom's mom) was her cooking. When I was a little girl, we would visit her and my Papaw in Camden, Ark., and she would make the most sensational homemade foods I'd ever tasted. Dishes I couldn't get at home.

I'm probably the only person in history who ever thought there was anything exotic about Camden. But it was a special place for me. A place with storm cellars and sorghum molasses. Homemade biscuits and bay leaves in the beef stew. Chicken fried in a cast iron skillet and dumplings that simmered on the stove for hours.

Being so young, I didn't appreciate the skill involved in making these dishes to perfection. Now I know how easy it is for fried chicken to be cold and pink in the middle and for dumplings to be doughy. I've never attempted to make any of Memaw's dishes out of sheer intimidation. So when I saw this Crockpot Chicken & Dumplings recipe, I decided this would be a nice segue into eventually making the real thing.

Before you pull out your crockpot, let me prep your expectations. This does not measure up to homemade dumplings. Not even close. But this dish is worth trying if you need an easy weeknight meal, and you're craving something warm and comforting.

Kristi's Crockpot Chicken & Dumplings

4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
2 tablespoons butter
2 cans cream of chicken soup
1 onion finely diced
2 (10 oz) packages of biscuits, torn into pieces.

Place the chicken, butter and soup in a slow cooker. Fill with enough water to cover. Cover and cook for 5-6 hours on high. About 30 minutes before serving, place the torn biscuits in the crockpot.

** I used the full 10 oz of biscuits, and my dish came out very doughy. If you want a more "liquidy" version, use fewer biscuits. I would just eyeball it until it looks good to you and remember the biscuits will expand.

** There are no spices listed in this recipe, so I just added some staples: salt, pepper, garlic powder, Tony's. Eyeball it!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Never Too Late for a Recap

Since we're already six days into the new year, I thought I better get moving on my 2010 recap. Overall, this year has been my very favorite. But even knowing that, it's difficult to round out a list of the best parts because mostly my favorite part was marrying Ty and all the fun that came with that. I couldn't come up with 10, but here are my six favorite things about 2010 in chronological order. Six favorite things, six days late. Makes sense to me.

1. Our Engagement.

Truthfully, I'd gotten upset with Ty this week about our Valentine's Day plans. I don't really care too much about Valentine's Day, but I cared that he didn't plan for our "special" occasions (whatever that means). So, I came home from work, and Ty told me to put on something nice because we were going to dinner. We went to my favorite restaurant, Olive Street Bistro, which was especially romantic since Ty doesn't like the place. Eventually, the room we were in was completely cleared out, and Ty told me he has something he needed to ask me. He was so serious, I thought for a split second he was going to break up with me. But he slid down onto one knee, pulled out a ring and asked me to marry him. Clearly, you know I said yes. From then on, I didn't really care about Valentine's Day.

This feels like an eternity ago!

2. Our House.

I'm just as in love with this house today as the first time I walked past it and picked up the flyer. It's hard to believe we've been here nearly a year. I imagine we'll be here for many more years to come. It's such a cozy house that just wraps you in comfort. I'm hoping this winter, we'll see our house covered in snow.

3. My Job.

I started working here in 2009, but 2010 was the year that gave me the opportunity for growth. I moved up in the company and traveled to several events in Austin, Las Vegas, Chicago, etc. The first thing most people ask me when they find out I work in Minden is, "You drive to Minden everyday?" The drive is the sucky part, but it's proven worthwhile.

4. Our Wedding.

This will forever be one of the happiest, most content moments of my life. It was hot. There were distractions. But in this moment, it was just me and Ty. And in this moment, we vowed that it would always be that way. That we would forge through the good and the bad together. No one can really explain the peace that comes with knowing you have a constant companion in life.

5. Our Honeymoon.

One of the best parts about getting married is that you never have to plan another wedding again. It was perfect and I loved it, but I guarantee I would never want to do that ever again. And, once you've done all that planning, you can escape to somewhere beautiful for a week or so. Ty and I loved Cabo and our stay at Zoetry. On bad days, I dream about this trip. I may never want to wedding plan again, but I could honeymoon forever!

6. Our Car.

Never say these words: I'm going to drive my car until the wheels fall off. After I said this, my car decided to give it a shot. The wheels didn't literally fall off, but there was one night driving back from a construction site in Middle-of-Nowhere, Texas, that it came close to abandoning me on a pitch-black backroad far from home.

This is where the Envoy and I started to part ways. Ty and I decided with all the miles I was driving that it was time to upgrade. We love our Volvo, but heed my warning: Don't buy a Volvo SUV and show off its kid-friendly features (Ty's favorite is the built-in booster seat) unless you're prepared for everyone to ask you if you're about to start having kids. Awkward!

We loved sharing this year with you! We hope your 2010 was all you wanted it to be, and if not, we hope 2011 makes it up to you. Happy New Year, everyone!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

My (Not So) Lovely Lady Lump

Early last summer, I went to the doctor for a lump I'd found on my abdomen. I tend to immediately consider the worst possible scenario in these situations. In this case: I'm the happiest I've ever been, I'm months away from getting married and I have a lump growing inside me that's going to kill me before I make it down the aisle.

Not actually the truth, but definitely what I thought when I found the lump.

I went to one doctor who ordered me to have a CT scan and then couldn't diagnose me ... or call me back. I figured he just didn't want to give me the bad news. Realistically, he didn't have any answers, but that doesn't really cut him any slack with me. This is a doctor's visit, not a movie date ... you have to call me back!

So I met with another doctor. And, after looking at my scans, he felt confident that it is a soft tissue tumor.

I can't think the word tumor without seeing this scene play out in my head:

"It's not a too-mah!"

Oh, how I miss the old Ahhnold.

Since my first meeting with the second doctor, we've been monitoring the too-mah. It hurts from time to time, and I can't really tell if it's growing, but I can't stand knowing it's still there. Possibly growing. Possibly (although unlikely) something bad. Possibly going to worry me to death.

So, next Thursday, it's coming out. I've never had surgery other than my tonsils being taken out, and I've never been cut on before. I'm less than thrilled, but foreign objects growing in your abdomen probably shouldn't hang out in there for too long. And I'll be able to have some peace of mind once this is done.

I mention this to ask something on your part. Between now and then, if you happen to think about it, say a prayer for me and Dr. Wright. It's an outpatient procedure, but there's still anesthesia involved. And if we're going to be perfectly honest about it, I'm a chicken when it comes to these things.

I'm no Ahhnold. Although, we don't really know what he would have done if it actually was a tumor.

Monday, January 3, 2011

The Way to a One-Year-Old's Heart

Ty's sister and family made it to town safely this weekend. Minus the loss of their grill somewhere between northwest Arkansas and here. Word is that grills fly out of the back of trucks more easily than you would expect. It's happened to Ty and Marcus. What's a guy to do? You've just got to let it go, man.

So, starting Friday afternoon, I began working diligently to become Ruby Belle's favorite aunt, and I feel it's going very well so far.

It could have something to do with her Christmas presents that she received Saturday. 

Ruby Belle loves her Cozy Coupe ... and having Uncle Ty to drive her all over the house! The crown RB is wearing is another prize from her aunt and uncle. I saw it in Real Simple and had to order one for our favorite little princess.

RB's first driving experience started well. Her hands stayed at 10 and 2 and her eyes glued to the road. But then, the bad driver started to emerge.

Texting while driving! And with your baby in the front seat! We've already had one head-on collision with a dog, and I'm sure there are many more to come.