Friday, February 25, 2011
I've been trying to convince my husband that we desperately need to return to Cabo San Lucas this year for our vacation. I mention pina coladas and nachos and poolside afternoons being served icy Coronas. Our minds begin to drift and we dream of our time at Zoetry. And then Ty snaps back to reality and tells me I better find some good pina colada recipes because I'm going to be resorting in my backyard.
There's just something about this long stretch between the Thanksgiving/Christmas holidays and Easter that makes me yearn for a vacation. And while, for the most part, I will be vacationing in my backyard pool, we've already got cabins and condos booked for two upcoming trips.
For Memorial Day weekend, Ty and I will be traveling to Lake Greeson for a long weekend trip with friends. We'll be sharing a cabin with my brother and sister-in-law, Chris and Ashley, and Ashley's sister and her husband, John and Jill, and some other friends of theirs. This trip appeals greatly to the river rat I become in summer months. I can't wait to pop the top on some Blue Yummies (Bud Light), put my legs through a life jacket and spend the weekend bobbing in water where I can actually see my feet.
And in July, we'll be spending a full week in Gulf Shores with the Taylors and the Guletts. This is actually a resort in Gulf Shores, complete with a spa, poolside bar and grill, kids club, private beach, cone shop and two restaurants. If I'm not going to Mexico, this is where I want to be.
Now, I just have to weather this long stretch until it's vacation time. In my head, I'm already asking, "Are we there yet?"
Thursday, February 24, 2011
Among the long list of characteristics that define me (cheese lover, nappy headed, karaoke all-star, etc.), there are two things that I've always known about myself that I figured would never change:
- I don't like scary, gory, ridiculous horror movies involving wolves, vampires, zombies or monsters of any sort.
- I believe animals should never be subjected to the humiliation of pet clothing. (For the record, Baxter once had a red polo early in our relationship. I've been apologizing ever since.)
Monday night, Ty and I watched "Zombieland." I didn't want to watch it because it sounded very stupid. And five minutes into it, my opinion hadn't really changed since I'd already seen a zombie tear into the ligaments on a dead human's neck. We were eating dinner at the time, and I wasn't sure I was going to make it through my chicken or the movie.
But then something started to shift, the movie made me laugh, and I looked over at Ty and asked, "Is this movie good? I think it's actually very good!"
And now, I've found a zombie movie that I really like. And today, I found out there's a sequel in production and due out this year. I will have to watch it, and I believe that officially makes me a zombie movie fan. The shame! The horror! The humiliation!
This morning, I came across RoverDog on Etsy, specifically The Spectator Jacket pictured above. I thought about how precious Baxter would look in seersucker and how well it would coordinate with his salt and pepper fur. I'm not sure how I would ever be able to get those buttons buttoned, but this would be such a cute outfit for Mr. B.
We had to stop dressing Baxter in his red polo because anytime he was dressed in it, an act of defiance would soon follow. One time, he walk-pooped across the living room just before a family meal. Nothing can fade your appetite faster. And I'm confident it was on purpose.
Even when I look at the dog in the picture in his cute seersucker jacket, I think there's a sad look in his eye. The look that he's been beaten down into submission and forced into a seersucker jacket ... he looks defeated. But very cute.
See, the line is beginning to blur. And taking with it everything I once knew about myself.
In the words of songster Gnarles Barkley, does that make me crazy?
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
This is the last of all the Frozen Dinner Swap recipes. I'm sure some of you are relieved. And I'm sure others of you are sad to see this series go. But I hope there have been a few recipes you can add to your repertoire. I think my favorite has been the crock pot beef tips. It has given me a new appreciation for the things my crock pot can make that end up tasting like they took much more effort than they actually did. For you, I've pasted links to all of the recipes at the bottom of this post.
Monday, February 21, 2011
- The pitter patter of Ruby Belle's little feet as she runs around their "apartment."
- Or Ruby Belle screaming her head off.
- Mandy starts a new job in about a week.
- They're house hunting.
- They're preparing for baby no. 2.
- Grocery store.
- One hour of exercise.
- Fold towels.
I'm hoping the MLS of their dreams pops up soon before things become too stressful. I would hate for them to call it quits and hightail it back to Arkansas (I had a dream this happened). I would miss the pitter-patter of those little feet.
Friday, February 18, 2011
I've never cooked flank steak before. Bill, the chef at Hill Country (where we got married), said that just a few years ago flank steak was considered the trash piece of meat. What a mistaken identity! Flank steak is very lean, but still tender. And it serves a healthy portion to a group of four for about $4 each.
I found the marinade recipe in my Dallas Dish cookbook. The cookbook is put together by the Junior League of Dallas and features a lot of elegant dishes that are simple to prepare (there are some more complex recipes, but I haven't gotten into those). Ty and I have fallen hard for the Pecan-Crusted Salmon recipe. And neither of us really like salmon. It's just that good! If you like to cook, get this cookbook. You'll have restaurant-quality meals on your table in no time.
So, back to the flank steak. I prepared the marinade Wednesday night. Ty and I even went as far as to mince fresh ginger. OK, Ty mince the ginger because I didn't have the upper body strength to make it happen. Thursday morning, I placed the steak into a large Ziploc, poured the marinade into the bag and let the magic happen.
Ty said it smelled delicious when it hit the grill. We both loved the steak. The marinade gave it a sweet and spicy flavor. It's amazing by itself with some grilled vegetables on the side, or stuffed in a tortilla, or on top of a salad.
Here's the marinate recipe:
Marinated Flank Steak
1 1/2 pounds beef flank steak
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup pineapple juice
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
3 green onions, chopped
2 tbsp minced fresh cilantro
2 tbsp minced fresh ginger
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Enjoy ... and I promise, your beef has never been happier!
Thursday, February 17, 2011
For several weeks, Mandy and I have been dying to go to this new yogurt place in town called Fruiti Yogo. Basically it's a yogurt bar. There's a wall of about 12 different yogurt flavors and a bar of about a zillion different toppings and you can mix and match however you like.
I can't imagine there being anything better than Counter Culture yogurt (can I get an amen?), but the yogurt at Fruiti Yogo is supposedly low calorie and offers a few other health benefits.
Sunday afternoon, after we all went to Mandy and Justin's storage unit to unload stuff from the final leg of their move to Shreveport, yogurt sounded really good. We made it a Jordan family affair and met Ty's parents there, too.
The best part about Fruiti Yogo: They don't give you a cup for your yogurt ... they pretty much give you a trough. Once you reach the end of the line and make your yogurt however you like, they weigh it. Naturally, I held back a little. I get nervous around scales and their judgements.
For my first visit, I decided to concentrate on three flavors: strawberry, pistachio and plain (similar to the tangy good stuff at Counter Culture). I made my way down the toppings and covered my yogurt in strawberries, bananas, blackberries, blueberries, granola, toffee and Fruity Pebbles. I learned two things from this experience:
- You wouldn't think these flavor combinations would work, but somehow they do. It's liberating to eat yogurt from a bowl where toffee and granola can co-exist.
- How on Earth did I ever eat yogurt without Fruity Pebbles on top? Simply magical.
I've been dreaming about my next visit to Fruiti Yogo and sampling the white chocolate, chocolate and other flavors. Mandy admitted she tried to get Justin to go with her again this week. I told her just to text me next time she wanted it and we would make a trip whenever she liked.
I don't know if I ever want her to move out!
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
With me and Ty, Valentine's Day isn't really a big deal. Although this time of year does hold special significance in our relationship because we became engaged on February 10, 2010, but we don't really put the emphasis on Valentine's Day itself.
This was waiting for me.
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
It is my ritual when I'm traveling alone to find a sushi bar and enjoy a glass of wine and some rolls. It really is the only place I feel comfortable dining by myself. While in Houston, I made a return visit to RA Sushi. The sushi is fresh and delicious and the environment is lively and entertaining. I was there Thursday night and the place was filled with 20-somethings enjoying happy hour. There was a large group of girls sitting behind me drinking sake bombs together. It reminded me of when I was much younger and my girlfriends and I could party on Thursday nights and actually make it to work the next day. Now, nearly in my 30s, that seems impossible. Not that I mind being in bed at 9:30 each night. Early bedtime is the way life was meant to be lived.
Whole Foods vs. House of Blues
As part of the conference, there was a networking event one night at the House of Blues. Cody Canada (former lead guy for Cross Canadian) was scheduled to perform with his new band, and Ty told me "we would have problems" if I didn't attend the concert. But the concert wouldn't start until after 9:30. And if you just read the previous bullet point, you know 9:30 is my bedtime. So, to Ty's disappointment, I skipped the concert and went to Whole Foods instead. I repeat: I passed up a free concert to go grocery shopping. When did I become so lame? The sun is definitely setting on my 20s.
It's solid wood. Hand carved. And only $350! I couldn't pass it up, so it's now in my dining room, placed underneath the eight white plates we had guests sign at our wedding.
Tuesday, February 8, 2011
LJ and I watched a guy drop on to his knee and propose to his girlfriend at the table next to us. The girl's first answer: "Why are you doing this in front of all these people?" The girl's second answer: "You need to ask permission from my mom and dad?" I felt bad for the guy. He was rejected in front of a room full of people. But they just went on eating dinner like nothing had happened. How is that possible? How do you recover from such public humiliation?
If you've ever eaten at Superior, I know you have a story. Please share. You must!
Monday, February 7, 2011
I gained two pounds just watching the Super Bowl last night. I'm sure it had nothing to do with queso, or tostados, or Corona Light. And as I sat there, thinking about how I could sneakily unbutton my pants, I looked at the TV and had the revelation that I am shaped like a very petite defensive lineman. It was a though I wish I could unthink. But instead I just drank another beer ... since it's light beer and essentially guilt free if you drink enough.
This is why I avoid watching the Super Bowl. I can't spare the calories involved in watching world-class athleticism.
The past few days of wintry weather has sent me into full-on hibernation. I want sweats and blankets and soups and romantic comedies. And since I worked from the house Friday, I got most of those things other than the romantic comedies. The snow day was the perfect time to try out my friend Jenny's Broccoli and Cheese Soup from the Frozen Dinner Swap.
I have my own Broccoli and Cheese Soup recipe, but the two are very different. Mine is heavy and creamy and can only be eaten in small amounts because it's so rich. But Jenny's is creamy and brothy and you can enjoy a bowlful of it with a warm piece of bread and feel completely satisfied ... and then eat another bowl.
I'm more likely to make Jenny's soup for a meal than my other recipe, which is better suited for small portions, like at a shower with some chicken salad croissants. And since there is more snow in the forecast for this week, I thought this was an opportune time to share Jenny's recipe with you.
Broccoli & Cheese Soup
2 boxes chopped broccoli (cooked in microwave)
1 can cream of mushroom, cream of chicken, cream of celery
4 cans chicken broth
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 chicken bouillon cubes
1 lb. box of mild Mexican Velveeta (cubed)
1 roll of garlic cheese (Kraft no longer makes this, so I would toss in extra Velveeta and some garlic powder)
Add all ingredients and stir until melted and soup is bubbly.
Friday, February 4, 2011
I mentioned a while back that I really wanted to see our house coated in snow this winter.
Here are a few things that I'm loving about this snowy day in Louisiana:
- Snow seems to make everything quiet and still. That may be because the world all but stops spinning when it snows in Louisiana. But it's like a hush falls over everything.
- I'm working from home today. The 45 minute drive to the office would have sent me into a panic. No one should have to leave home on a day like today.
- Working in sweat pants is a definite perk, too. Sweat pants and this day were made for each other.
- Today was the perfect day to warm up the broccoli and cheese soup that's been stored in my freezer since the frozen dinner swap. My dear friend Jenny made it and it was so delicious I ate two bowls. Once again, I'm very happy to be wearing sweat pants.
- My dogs are highly confused by the white stuff on the ground. Baxter just stands around and stares at it, while Lacy chomps and chomps at the snow like she has to eat all of it before it melts.
- The snow in the backyard makes the pool seem out of place. It's somewhat of an eerie scene. Polar bear dip, anyone?
Thursday, February 3, 2011
Being the delicate, gentle flower that I am (don't question it), I don't really cook much meat at my house. Sure, every dish includes meat, but very little food that I prepare is just meat. I bought my husband a grill for Christmas two years ago, and a smoker for Christmas last year. Hint, hint, honey!
But since I've recently gotten in the habit of making mass quantities of food and storing it away (a sign that I will eventually turn into a carbon copy of my grandmother), I thought I would cook a huge hunk of meat and see what happened. My sil Ashley sent me a pulled pork recipe that calls for a day of brining and about a day of slow cooking.The results were unfathomably delicious.
I'd never brined anything before. Every time I even think about brining, the song "Feels Like the First Time" pops into my head. But with the lyrics "Brining for the first time." I'm sure I sang this while I cooked and it won't get out of my head. Maybe I should make this a video blog and embarrass myself a little more.
Really, brining is no pretty easy. It tenderizes the meat, adds flavor, pulls out the blood. I recommend it if you've got the time.
I let my pork brine overnight and while I was at church Sunday morning. Then I tossed it in the oven when we got home, and it was ready around 9 p.m. that night. We didn't have it for dinner, but I went ahead and pulled the pork, set some aside for dinner the next night and put the rest in the freezer. I hope it doesn't have the texture of shoe leather when I decide to thaw it out.
It's a long process but requires very little hands-on time. Plus, when it's all said and done, there are numerous ways you can use the pork: pulled pork sandwiches, pulled pork nachos, pulled pork tacos. I'm starting to sound like Bubba Gump.
Ty and I made Pulled Pork Tostadas.
Heaven. On. Earth.
I used tostada shells from the grocery store and layered them with refried beans, pork, hot sauce, lettuce, tomato, sour cream. I don't think Ty and I spoke much during dinner. I was shoveling it in too fast to speak. Just mumbles and mmms of delight.
I'm thinking we'll eat these again for Super Bowl Sunday ... queso would be a good addition.
Here's the recipe, use it how you will. But may I suggest the tostada?
Slow Roasted Pulled Pork
1 whole boston butt
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp onion powder
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp cayenne pepper
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp ground pepper
1 tbsp paprika
1/2 cup brown sugar
Mix well and store in an air tight container.
1/2 cup salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 qts cold water
2 bay leaves
3 tbsp dry rub mix
Add salt to cold water and stir very well until all the salt is completely dissolved. Then add the brown sugar, dry rub and bay leaves and stir well to combine.
- Rinse the pork shoulder and place in a large container, pour in the brine solution until the shoulder is completely covered. Cover the container and place in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours.
- Remove the pork shoulder from the brine solution, pat dry with paper towels, place in a baking pan that is bigger than the shoulder by at least an inch in length and width and at least 3 inches deep.
- Sprinkle dry rub onto the surface of the shoulder and massage in such that it adheres to the surface. Coat all sides. Make sure the fat layer of the shoulder is facing up before cooking.
- Place baking pan uncovered in a 225 degree oven on the middle rack. Insert a probe thermometer into the center of the thickest part of the shoulder but not touching the bone.
- Monitor the temperature throughout cooking. Do not remove from the oven until the center of the shoulder reaches 200 degrees. When the shoulder has reached 200 degrees, shut off the oven and let the roast cool for a couple of hours before removing from the oven. If the bottom of the pan is dry or crusted with dried spices the cover the pan with foil to retain internal moisture of the meat during the cooling process.
- When the temperature drops to 170 degrees or slightly lower, remove from oven. Place on a large, clean work surface and remove the large sheet of crusted fat from the top. Pull apart with two forks. It will pull very easily.
Wednesday, February 2, 2011
I got back in town last night from a business trip to Austin, where the company I work for was exhibiting at a trade show. And while most of my time was spent at the Austin Convention Center, for two nights I laid my head in room 537 at The Driskill.
I was excited to stay at The Driskill. It's absolutely beautiful and historic. Until I Googled directions and under suggested searches popped up "The Driskill Haunted." Out of fear, I didn't read any further about the hauntings at The Driskill until after I'd checked out. And out of fear, just reading "The Driskill Haunted" kept me sleeping with one eye open so that I wouldn't awaken to a ghost child apparition standing at my bedside.
I finally read up on The Driskill's hauntings today, only to find out it is considered the most haunted hotel in Texas. I'm glad to learn this after my two night stay. Especially since I was staying on the historic, original side of the hotel. Can we say heebie jeebies?
Instead of thinking about the ghosts while I was there, I decided to focus on the decor and brought home some good ideas for the Jordan household.
The hallways looked like an art gallery. Rows and rows of original artwork. I wanted to smuggle some of these home with me, but I thought that might tick off the ghosts.
This is 100 percent my style. I love how all the colors are very muted, but not boring. I'm wondering where I could get a king-sized headboard identical to this one. I also loved the furry blanket and the leather nightstands.
This cabinet has an image of The Driskill painted on it. I love all the little details.
This is the detail that I'm most likely to replicate in my home. ... probably my dining room. I had to break it to Ty very gently that I was wanting to paint our ceiling orange, and he liked the idea. It's just got to be the right color and everything else in the room needs to be toned down. What do you think? Do you like this look? I sort of am in love with it.
By the way, on the curtain valance is another image of The Driskill.
If you would like to read more about the hauntings at The Driskill, here's a link to several videos that tell this hotel's story.
And if you ever go to Austin, stay here. You'll feel as though you've done something brave after staying here a few days. Even if you come home with nothing to report on but the decor!