Monday, November 30, 2009

Ree Drummond book signing 2mrw!

I've been SO excited about Dec. 1st for about 3 months now! Food, farm, & photography blogger Ree Drummond, AKA, The Pioneer Woman, will be in Dallas signing her 1st cookbook, The Pioneer Woman Cooks!

You may recognize her name from this blog, as I've mentioned her several times & linked her recipes. I also have her listed to the right there, under my fave blogs. If you haven't checked her out yet, do it! Please? :o)

I am so pumped, & in the spirit of the season, I made Ree a gift basket full of "my faaavorite things" (sing w/ me now). All foodie related, & all fabulous. Oh, I can't wait to meet her!

Turkey Day

I went home to Oklahoma for Thanksgiving & didn't have to cook this year thanks to my Aunt Kay. I did however take my famous ham ball & crackers (I'll blog that soon). As you can see by my plate, there was plenty to eat - wonderful country cookin' & homemade bread to boot!

And the dessert table was glorious! Frankie even got in on the festivities w/ her t-shirt (Old Navy, $5)!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Jimmy's Food Store in Dallas

If you live in the Dallas area & haven't yet been to this Dallas institution of all things Italian & tasty (@ Bryan & Fitzhugh), then skadaddle (sp?) on over because you're missin' out!

I took Mark & David there when they came 4 a visit, & we had the best time eating muffaletta & meatball sandwiches, cannoli's, fresh olives, and sesame & fig cookies-washing it all down w/ wine, of course! OH, & did I mention the market? I will forever be going here for all of my pasta, canned tomato, olive oil, & all Italian needs! :o)

Cute canvas.

I was in Garden Ridge a few weeks ago with sandy, & this cute screen printed canvas caught my eye...I really liked it, but stuck 2 my budget for my Christmas tree only. But I keep thinking about it...hmm, maybe I can dig up a coupon for GR? Do I need 2 pick up a paper, or can I go online 4 their coupons? If anyone knows, I'd appreciate the feedback. Because as most of U know about me, I don't pay full price 4 nothin'! Lol

Zuppa Tuscana the healthy way!

If you've had this wonderful, tasty, & hearty soup @ Olive Garden in the past, then U know how truly rewarding it is! But not w/ all the cream & butter they use, not to mention the fatty sausage!

So, I swiped the recipe from the Internet, & made these substitutions: Italian turkey sausage, turkey bacon, & fat free cream (or 1/2 and 1/2 works too). And where it calls for water and chicken bouillon cubes, I simply used 1 quart of chicken stock. And let me tell you, I tested it out on folks & they all agreed it tastes exactly the same!

Rosemary roasted potatoes and balsamic carrots with brussel sprouts

Okay, the rosemary roasted potatoes are another Pioneer Woman recipe, & the carrots & brussel sprouts I simply toss in EVOO, balsamic vinegar, & a lil' kosher salt & pepper, & roast @ 375 for about 25-35 minutes. These are 2 recipes where simplicity really speaks volumes. :o)

(Picture taken before roasting.)

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Lost Post

Okay, I know I posted when I made this, b/c I remem it was a pain in the butt b/c I had step-by-step pictures. And for those of you that blog w/ blogger, you know it's a pain in the butt b/c the pics don't post where your cursor is & you're constantly shuffling pics around your post (so annoying)!

At annnny rate, these are def post-worthy, as they are fabulous recipes I made from The Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond's blog.

I give you:

Chicken Parmigiana

Sweet-Roasted Rosemary Acorn Squash Wedges

They were both FANTASTIC, and approved by all parties who partook. :)

Cupcake decorating

So, yes, I've made several cupcakes in the past...several. But this is my first attempt at piping using decorative tips and a piping bag! :)

These are chocolate fudge cupcakes with vanilla cream cheese frosting - which I adapted from Mrs. Pioneer Woman herself, Ree Drummond (love her). What I did diff was add my FAVE vanilla bean paste of all time, so there would be tiny black specs in the frosting, and I added a bit more cream cheese to make the frosting more creamy than stiff. I only did this, well, mostly by accident, but b/c I was piping w/ a #30 tip, which is basically a round hole. So, no real design to worry about, but if you were using a star tip or something more decorative, you'd want to stick to less cream cheese, or add more powdered sugar to make your frosting more stiff. I completed the cupcakes by sprinkling with pearl flakes and adding one silver dragée to each beauty. (Yes, dragées can be a bit expensive, but this one container will last you forever - unless you're doing a wedding cake or something!) ha

Oh, and as for the cake mix...well, I will have to divulge my secret: cake mix from a box! BUT, and a big BUT (or is it now BUTT, since I ate several of those cupcakes!), is that I modify each cake mix I use. The modification makes a much more moist and rich cupcake - they're fabulous, and it's easy:

Most boxes call for: 3 large eggs, 1/2 cup veg. oil, and 1.25 cups of water. Keep the eggs, keep the veg. oil, swap the water for 8oz. of sour cream, add one box of Jell-O Instant Pudding/Pie Filling (match the flavor to your cake mix), and only use about 1/3-1/2 cup of water. Follow all the same directions for mixing and baking. You will notice that your batter is shiney, pulls away from the bowl when being mixed, and is MUCH thicker. Not pourable, more like push it out of the bowl w/ a spat if making a cake, or scoop it out w/ a big spoon for cupcakes. But this is is alright, I promise. :) As the batter cooks, it will rise or puff up quite a bit, but settles when cooling.

Okay, ready? Go cupcakes! (click on the pics to see enlarged pics of the chocolatey goodness!)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

46 year old bathroom tile

So, I scrubbed, and I scrubbed, and short of re-grouting, I still got that shiz pretty clean! Scrubbed tile, painted bathroom walls, and new lighting fixtures and mirrors - I'm a happy woman.

THANK YOU Kanita, Ben, and David. More pics to come of the completed projects. :)


Okay, so my friend Kanita came over the other night to help me FINALLY paint my 2 bathrooms, in order to get ready for company I had this past weekend. Athena came along to keep us company for a bit, and to organize her purse. THIS was the contents of her purse!

Can you IMAGINE??? OMG, we almost died of laughter and disbelief when she got it all out and organized into piles on my dining room table! lol

I mean, she had bandanges, medical tape, about 50 pens, prescriptions, like $100 in change and small bills, granola bars, tons of lotions/potions, couple boxes of cigs, several hand sanitizers, loads of candy, and THREE clementine oranges! WTF!? lol It was nuts - oh, I think she had some of those in there too!

Stuffed Spaghetti Squash

Okay, so this one's a winner, I've made it several times, got it from Sur La Table. Would be GREAT for a Thanksgiving/Christmas side-item at your holiday meal:

1-2 T of extra virgin olive oil
1 spaghetti squash
1 lb. of ground beef, ground turkey, or even Italian sausage
1 onion
1 green pepper
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1.5 C marinara
1 C of parmesean cheese, plus extra for sprinkling
1 t red pepper flakes (omit if you don't like spicy, or chose to use spicy sausage)
S&P to taste

1/2 your squash, remove seeds w/ a spoon, wrap each w/ saran wrap, and microwave each independently for about 8 minutes (until soft). Remove from micro, cut a slit in saran wrap, and let cool while you prepare everything else.

Med/Hi heat: Sauté your onion and green pepper in EVOO until onions are translucent, and green pepper has softened. While this is going, unwrap both squash halves and scrape out the insides into a bowl. You will notice it scrapes out in strings that resemble spaghetti - hence the name. Scrape out ALL of the flesh, until you're literally left w/ the skin of the squash - set aside on a parchment lined cookie sheet (just helps w/ the mess - if you don't have it, don't worry). Add your garlic to your pan, and saute for another 1-2 minutes - drop your heat to medium at this point, so you don't burn the garlic!

Now add the marinara, squash, and parm to the mix, and stir until well incorporated and heated thru. Add S&P to taste, and the red pepper flakes (if using). Now spoon this mixture into both empty squash halves - it will be mounded, this is what you want. Sprinkle the top w/ more parm cheese. Place both halves into a 375 degree oven, for about 20-25 minutes - just until the cheese is melted and turns toasty brown and you see some bubbling. Remember, the mixture was already hot when you added it to the squash halves, so it shouldn't take long.


Monday, November 16, 2009

And I shall call him...

...Big Bird! A few weeks back, just as the leaves were beginning 2 change around Turtle Creek, this big guy out-shined them all! A simple fall beauty.


...don't suck! They're pretty much the only plant I can semi-nurture that won't die! I picked up these cute lil' babies @ HDepot a few weeks back, & they adorn my windowsill. :o)

Friday, November 6, 2009

Comfort foods.

Last week I really had a hankerin' for something simple...simple, good ole' protein, no veggie, I just wanted starch. (Hey, the noodles are 99% fat free, so it's not that bad!) :)

And I came back to something my mom used to make me all the time as a kid: "No Yolks" noodles w/ butter, and plain old Kraft parmesan powdered cheese! Put your fancy parmigiano reggiano shredded stuff away. No sir!

Here's what ya' need:
1 pkg No Yolks broad noodles
2 Tbs butter
1 Tbs EVOO
3/4 cup powdered Kraft parmesan cheese
pinch of salt, pepper, and dried parsley

Just cook up your noodles, drain, add butter and EVOO while the pan is still hot, dump your noodles back in, dump in the cheese, s&p, and parsley, and start mixing up. You will actually notice as the powdered cheese coats the noodles, it MELTS - yes, melts!

This is the most fabulous simple noodle dish ever. My mom always made it for me, and I prefered it any day to Kraft mac n' cheese! :)

TX State Fair.

Thank gawd it only comes around once a year - oh the gluttony! But it was so worth it! :)

(l-r) Shawn, Ben, Me, and Kim gettin' down on some corny dogs, then roasted corn, THEN caramel apples w/ peanuts! Avi was taking all the pics, but that's his chili dog! lol

Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure.

On October 17th Ben and I participated in Dallas' Race for the Cure (5K) - along w/ about 25,000 other peeps! lol It was awesome!

Frankie...silly Frankie.

This is how my dog-ter watches TV sometimes when sitting on my crossed leg. Resting on her front haunches, butt propped up in the back. Crazy dog! And the other is of her in her fave place, on the chair by the window when the sun comes in on her pillow! lol

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Austin trip w/ Shawn.

On the weekend of Oct. 9th, Shawn and I headed to Austin for a night to take in the night-life and attend the AIA Austin Home Tour the next day. We had a great time...did a little bar hopping the night before, and the home tour and some Rudy's BBQ the next day! :)

(l-r) The phone in our hotel...I love nice hotels!; Shawn snapped me as we were heading out in some new duds I picked up when we visted the San Marcos Outlet; We hit up Sandra Bullock's restaurant, Bess Bistro; then went to Betsy's Bar; then hit Maiko Sushi for the strawberry/saki/champagne martini - to die for!; next morn we ate at Austin's famous Kerbey Lane Cafe...great migas and french toast!; a few of the really architecturally awesome homes on the tour; stopped at Rudy's BBQ on the way home - omigod, great bbq!; and finally we had to hit the Czech Bakery in West, TX, for some of the kolaches and Dr Pepper cake! SO GOOD...if you're ever on I-35 between here and Austin, you must stop!