Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Trader Joe's Mini Cheddar Chipotle Potato Bites

Trader Joe's Mini Cheddar Chipotle Potato Bites




Have you tried these?
They are
Ah-ma-ZING!!!

I promise!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Christmas Tree

This year, I wanted to get a white christmas tree, but decided to wait until next year.
I already have a 6 1/2 ft artificial tree that I've had for about 8 years now
My Christmas decorations match the decor in my house
- whimsy traditional -
purples & golds
with a splash
of shimmer & silver

So...
investing in a white tree means investing in all new decor
This year I decided to jazz up this tree
since all my lights from last year were on the blink.. .(hee hee )
I strung the pearl lights & the C7 lights
in the center of the tree...
I framed the outside of the tree with the
mini clear "twinkling" lights 

It's like I have a party in my house..
it's very bright & festive!!!

Christmas Tree 2012



White Pearl Lights

C7 Lights
Clear Mini Lights - Twinkling

Monday, November 26, 2012

Fall in Texas

 It is so very rare to see trees in Texas
with pretty orange and red colors
When we do get them
It's only for a brief minute
Then before you know it
they are gone

The 2 top pictures are from my dad's

This is down the street from my house
It almost looks like a painting

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thanksgiving Wine Labels

Thanksgiving Cabernet Sauvignon
from Better Homes and Gardens

I used these a couple of years ago
They are still the best I could find on the internet

I bought "two buck chuck"
(actually, it's $2.99 here in Texas)
from Trader Joe's
&
Slapped these labels on them

You can also find $2.99 wine
@
&

I buy several more expensive varietals to server with the meal
These get opened after the good stuff is gone

I used the Fall Landscape label (above) 
on the darker bottles
(Cabernet Sauvignon & Chardonnay)
&
I used the Sunny Fall Landscape
on the lighter bottles
such as
(Sauvignon Blanc & Pinot Grigio)



You do not have to buy these"full sheet" labels
You can print them out on plain copy paper
&
then you have to glue them on
You also have to remove the existing wine label
If you use the above labels, you can just put it
on top of the existing
if you are in a hurry like me
The wine labels print one per page

It's not perfect - mine cut off the "s"
but it still looks good

good luck
let me know if you try it

Monday, November 19, 2012

Thanksgiving 2012


How are you spending Thanksgiving this year?

I've been blogging since 2008. 
I haven't posted about Thanksgiving since 2009.

We do the same thing every year
Cook several turkeys in an underground pit
(doesn't everyone do this?)
&
I know everyone transports their turkeys
using a golf cart from the oven to the table

We serve it up buffet style
with about 20-30
of our closest family and friends

Well, stay tuned...
I plan on keeping ya "posted" on our 2012 festivities


Thursday, September 20, 2012

Roasted Okra

Okra is not one of my favorite vegetables, but I can eat it  
Most people prefer it fried (like my son), but I do not fry foods at home

I had roasted okra at a restaurant here in Dallas called Si tapas
It inspired me to make my own


Fresh Okra

 from Patina Green Home and Market in McKinney

Slice it length wise
Toss with extra virgin olive oil

that I purchased from my friend,

sprinkle with sea salt

Yum.

My son even liked them.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Trader Joe's Mushroom Risotto

trader-joes-mushroom-risotto
Trader Giotto's Mushroom Risotto
 
Mushroom Risotto with Parmesan Cheese

 As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I have yet to find a Trader Joe's product I do not love!

I was leery of this risotto, I have to admit. 
How can something so finicky to make
(do you watch Hell's Kitchen?)
taste good prepared frozen?

Well, let me tell you... it's not as amazing as homemade, but it is actually pretty darn good and alot less hassle.

Directions say to cook frozen, with 2 tablespoons of water for 5 minutes on high heat.
I used 2 tablespoons of white wine. You do have to stand and stir for 5 minutes.
It starts out soupy, and if it starts to get dry, just add more water or wine.
&
keep stirring...
&
 stirring...

...telling yourself that
homemade takes 45 minutes to a hour
of stirring
&
stirring
 &
 stirring 
&
(praying that you do not run out of warm liquid)

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Thrift Store Chairs

Thrift-Store-Chair
BEFORE

I posted back in July
about my
Wine Room Project

how I found
these chairs (4) 
for $8.95 each



AFTER
I'm still debating on whether or not to re-cover the chairs.  I like the leopard print, and feel that I won't stress if red wine spills on them. 

I will post more once I get the room cleared out.  I keep putting off the garage sale.  It's just so hot here in Texas!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

BHG's Corn & Blueberry Salad


Best Corn and Blueberry Summer Salad
Corn & Blueberry Salad


This is the best summer salad ever
It's very fresh and flavorful



Ingredients

6 fresh sweet corn, husked
1 cup fresh blueberries
1 cucumber, sliced
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped*
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

Directions

1. In Dutch oven bring salted water to boiling.
2. Add corn. Cook, covered, 5 minutes, or until tender. When cool enough to handle, cut corn from cobs.
3. In a serving bowl combine corn, blueberries, cucumber, red onion, cilantro, and jalapeno.

For the dressing, in screw-top jar combine lime juice, oil, honey, cumin, and 1/2 tsp. salt. Cover; shake well to combine. Add to salad; toss.

Cover and refrigerate overnight (up to 24 hours). Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Trader Joe's Pear Tart

Pear tart from Traders Joe's
Trader Joe's Pear Tart

If you have been following me
for any period of time,

you know how much
 I Trader Joe's

I believe I've mentioned them
about 8 times through the history
of this blog circa 2008

The most exciting post is when my friends and I
drove 1200 round trip
from Texas to Missouri
just to shop @ Trader Joes 

They are finally in Texas
YAY!

Right now, the closest one to me
 is in Ft Worth - about a 40 minute drive
  I try to go at least once a month. 
I have yet to try anything that I haven't liked,
so I'm going to start posting 
some of my favorite things.

Today, we have the Pear Tart
While I was shopping in the freezer section,
a Trader Joe's employee pointed this out to me.
She said that she had heard it was amazing,
especially with cinnamon sprinkled on top.

I served it on Saturday night to my girlfriends. 
o
m
g

It was so good
especially
with cinnamon on top 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

House Party - Hope Springs Movie

Do you like to throw parties?
Do you like to try new products?
Do you like free stuff?

Check out House Party

There is a list of parties by sponsor - just apply to the parties you are interested

If you get picked, they provide an online tool to invite your friends

The idea is to post to Facebook and Twitter so that the word is getting out on the product they are promoting

I've gotten chosen a couple of times

I just received this party pack for the Hope Springs Party


Hope Springs is a movie being released on August 10th
starring Meryl Streep, Tommy Lee Jones, and Steve Carell

The party pack includes 12 small stemless wine glasses that have Hope Springs etched on them
Hope Springs Relationship Guides
Hope Springs IOU Coupon Books
Hope Springs Canvas bags
&
2 free passes to see the movie

The party is scheduled for Friday, 7/27 before the movie comes out



Monday, July 23, 2012

Marcela Valladolid Zucchini-Tortilla Casserole


Marcela Valladolid is one of my favorite

Her show is called Mexican Made Easy

I've cooked several of her recipes in the past
like
which was absolutely awesome

I modified this recipe slightly
I didn't chop the zucchini - I sliced them into ribbons (not too fine)
I used Monterey Jack cheese, but recommend Pepper Jack for a spicy kick
I also used mexican crema - which is one of my new favorite ingredients


Zucchini-Tortilla Casserole

Ingredients

Vegetable oil, for frying
12 corn tortillas
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 small white onion, chopped
2 large tomatoes, boiled 30 seconds, peeled, and pureed (to yield 2 cups)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 1/2 cups chopped zucchini (from 3 large zucchini)
1 1/2 cup fresh corn off the cob (from 1 ear)
3 poblano chiles charred, seeded, deveined, and chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
nonstick cooking spray
3 cups shredded Oaxaca cheese, or Monterey Jack
3/4 cup Mexican crema or creme fraiche

Directions
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large heavy saute pan, add enough oil to come 2 inches up the sides of the pan. Heat the oil on medium-high heat. When hot, work in batches and quickly fry the tortillas for about 10 seconds on each side (they should still be pliable). Remove the tortillas from the heat and drain on a paper-towel-lined plate.

In a medium saute pan over medium heat, heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil and add the garlic and onion. Saute until the onion is translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the tomato puree. Cook for 10 minutes and turn the heat off.

In a separate large saute pan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the zucchini and corn. Cook for 2 minutes, and then add the chopped poblano chiles. Add 1/2 cup water to the mixture and cook for 4 more minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Spray a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with a nonstick cooking spray. Cover the bottom with about 4 tortillas. Add 1/2 cup of the tomato mixture on top of the tortillas. Top with 1 1/2 cups of the zucchini mixture. Add 1 cup of the cheese. Drizzle with 1/4 cup of Mexican crema. Sprinkle the first layer with some salt and pepper. Start on the second layer with the tortillas, then the tomato, zucchini, cheese and Mexican crema. Again sprinkle with some salt and pepper. Repeat for a third time, to finish off a third layer. Place the casserole into the oven until the cheese is melted, 10 to 15 minutes. Serve hot.


Saturday, July 21, 2012

House Project - Wine Tasting Room

I live in a 2 bedroom /1 bath duplex
that was built back in the 60's

This is considered a "bonus" room
It was originally a carport that was closed in

It doesn't have AC or heat
so
It's hot in the summer and cold in the winter

As you can see, I've been using it for storage only
Believe it or not, this looks better than before

The plan is to use this room to store all my entertaining
tools, supplies, junk, dishes, crap, etc

I also want to use it as a wine tasting room
it has a sliding door to the back yard
that I think will be perfect for
Spring/Fall entertaining

Here's the plan:

remove those plastic containers
(gearing up for a garage sale)
**sigh**
find a huge rug to cover the lovely gold tile
hang some art on the walls
organize the shelves that showcase my fabulous stuff



I found 4 of these chairs at a thrift store
for only $8.95 each

They are in the process of being transformed
(ok, painted black)

I found this table at another thrift store
for $75
The chairs do not really match
but I think it'll go
with the rustic feel
I'm trying to create

So, stay tuned.. I will post as I make progress

Friday, July 20, 2012

Blue Sparkling Wine


I've been dying to serve this drink for a long time
July 4th was the most appropriate time

Just mix blue curacao with sparkling champagne

Cherry Pink Lemonade Cupcakes



I woke up on July 4th craving Strawberry Cupcakes

I put a pork shoulder in the oven to slow cook
Called a friend inviting her and her family over
for a last minute get together

Headed to the store for a few last minutes items
look what I found ?

Pink Lemonade Cake Mix

Way better than Strawberry cupcakes
especially when topped with cherry frosting 

The best summertime treat!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Shallot-Chive Boursin Stuffed Mushrooms

 This is a "re-post" of this recipe from back in May 2010.
It's modified because I am now using this new flavor of boursin cheese!


Shallot Chive Boursin Stuffed Mushrooms


Ingredients
  • 1 pkg whole white button mushrooms
  • 1/4 stick butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 container shallots-chive boursin cheese (or any flavor)
  • 1 cup parmigiano reggiano
  • 3/4 cup italian bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 4-6 tablespoons olive oil

Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray or line with foil
  3. Clean mushrooms & remove stems
  4. In a small bowl, mix melted butter and garlic powder together
  5. Brush the mushrooms with the butter mixture
  6. In another small bowl, mix the boursin cheese, 1/2 cup parm-reggiano cheese and bread crumbs together
  7. With a small spoon, stuff the mushrooms with the cheese mixture
  8. Mix the panko bread crumbs, remaining parm-reggiano with olive oil - just enough to coat
  9. Place on top of mushrooms
  10. Bake until the mushrooms are tender, the filling is heated through, and the mushrooms are golden on top - 30-35 minutes
Note: I buy boursin cheese at Costco. You get 3 boxes for approximately $8.99 versus regular supermarkets carry it for about $5.99 - $7.99 per box.  This cheese is amazing. It goes great in pastas, and also, just by itself with crackers!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Pillsbury Lemon Cream Pie


Lemon Cream Pie

I have never been much of a pie maker.  For some reason, ice box pies have been on my mind this summer.  
It started with my last post - Peanut Butter /Chocolate Icebox Pie.   

I have friends that love peanut butter and chocolate, so I made it for them.  It was then requested that I make a Chocolate Mint Icebox Pie.  Well, that's when I learned my lesson between using the refrigerator to set a pie versus using the freezer.
Transporting a freezer pie in Texas heat is just not a smart thing to do. 

This recipe comes straight from Pillsbury, I didn't use sprinkles obviously - here's the link. 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Quinoa Stuffed Tomatoes

Totally Test Kitchen

I first saw this recipe in June's Cooking Light Magazine. I have been pulling recipes and articles out of magazines for years and placing them in binders.  Now that there is Pinterest, I no longer have to do that.
I love it
I just find the recipe online; and hopefully, they already have a "Pin it" button for me; but if not, no worries, I have my own "Pin it" option saved to my bookmarks in Explorer. 
Again, I love it!

I've had the quinoa for a while, but just haven't had the nerve to cook with it.
This recipe seemed to have just the right ingredients
(all of my favorites - tomatoes, poblano peppers, corn and CHEESE)

The recipe does not call for any meat, which is fine with me, but I had just bought this Spicy Jalapeno Chicken Sausage from my favorite store, Trader Joe's.

My brother is staying with me, and since this is more of a girl meal, not a Texas manly meal, I figured I'd add this to "hearty" it up.
This sausage is so amazing, that you do not have to tell a Texas man that's it's not beef. 
 Spicy Jalapeno Chicken Sausage from Trader Joe's

Stuffed tomato before the cheese - see the quinoa, peppers, corn, and sausage ?

Now, with the colby jack cheese ... ready to go into the oven


Baked Tomatoes with
Jalapeno Chicken Sausage, Quinoa, Corn,& Green Chiles

adapted from Cooking Light, June 2012
makes 6 tomatoes

Ingredients
•2 poblano chiles
•1 pkg jalapeno chicken sausage (optional) 
•4 ears corn
•1 cup chopped red onion
•6 large ripe tomatoes
•1 cup uncooked quinoa
•1/4 cup water
•1 Tbs chopped fresh cilantro
•2 scallions, thinly sliced
•2 Tbs olive oil
•juice of 1 lime
•1 tsp kosher salt, divided
•1 tsp ground cumin
•pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
•1/2 tsp chile powder
•1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
•6 oz Colby Jack cheese, shredded (about 1 1/2 cups)

Directions

Cut the tops off the tomatoes. Carefully scoop out the tomato pulp, leaving the shells intact. Drain the pulp through a sieve set over a bowl, pressing with the back of a spoon to extract as much liquid as possible. Reserve 1 1/4 cups of the tomato juices, and discard the pulp and seeds. Sprinkle the inside of the tomatoes with 1/2 teaspoon of salt (total, not each). Invert the tomatoes onto a lint-free kitchen towel and stand 30 minutes. Blot the insides of the tomatoes dry with a paper towel or kitchen towel.


Preheat the broiler to high.


Cut the poblano chiles in half lengthwise and discard the seeds and membranes. Place the chiles, skin-side-up, on a foil-lined baking sheet, and flatten with your hand. Broil about 8 minutes, or until the skin is blistered and blackened. Remove the chile to a medium bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and allow to steam for about 10 minutes. Peel and rinse the chiles, then coarsely chop.

Add the corn and onion to the pan. Broil, tossing once or twice, about 10 minutes, or until charred and blackened in spots. Add the corn and onion to the bowl with the chiles.

Meanwhile, slice the chicken sausage (horizontal) and cook in a sauce pan with one tablespoon of olive oil.  Cook over medium high heat until cooked through. Slice in half and place in the bowl with the corn, chiles and onion. Set aside.


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Cook the quinoa. Place the quinoa in a strainer and rinse well under cold water, stirring as you rinse. Drain well. Combine the quinoa, reserved tomato liquid, 1/4 cup water, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to a simmer, and cook 15 minutes, or until the liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat and fluff the quinoa with a fork.

Add the quinoa to the bowl with the sausage, corn, chiles, and onion, and stir in the cilantro, scallions, olive oil, lime juice, 1/4 teaspoon salt, cumin, cayenne, chile powder, pepper, and 1/2 cup cheese.

Spoon about 3/4 cup of the quinoa filling into each of the tomatoes. Divide the remaining cheese evenly over the tops and bake about 15 minutes, or until the cheese has melted. Remove from the oven and serve.



Monday, July 16, 2012

Chocolate Mint Icebox Pie

Chocolate Mint Icebox Pie
aka Grasshopper Pie

This is the summer of icebox pies
My first attempt was last month when
I featured my

My friends asked if I could make a

Chocolate Mint Icebox Pie

So...
&
googled...
The Pioneer Woman didn't let me down

This is her Grasshopper Pie recipe

I made one slight modification

It requires the freezer to set
When I transported it to my friend's house,
she didn't have room in her freezer
So, it got a little mushy by the time we ate dinner and served dessert
They all loved it anyway

Next time, I'm going to try it with cream cheese to see if I can get it to set properly in the fridge vs freezer

Next icebox pie test kitchen recipe - Lemon Cream Pie

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Peanut Butter-Chocolate Icebox Pie


Peanut Butter-Chocolate Icebox Pie

Ingredients
2 cups cinnamon graham cracker crumbs
1/2 cup honey-roasted peanuts, finely chopped
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 (4oz) semi-sweet chocolate baking bar, chopped
2 1/2 cups whipping cream, divided
1 (8oz) pkg cream cheese, softened
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
* Reeses Peanut Butter Cups - coarsely chopped
* Dark Chocolate Syrup

Directions
  • Preheat oven 350 degrees.
  • Stir together graham cracker crumbs, peanuts, and melted butter; firmly press into a lightly greased 9 or 10 inch pie plate (make sure to cover the bottom and the sides)
  • Bake for 10-12 minuets or until lightly browned. Cool completely (about 30 minutes)
  • Microwave semisweet chocolate and 1 cup whipping cream in a small microwave-safe bowl at MEDIUM (50% power) for 1 1/2 minutes or until chocolate is almost melted, stirring at 30 second intervals.  Whisk until chocolate melts and mixture is smooth.  (Do not overheat)
  • Spoon chocolate mixture onto the prepared crust
  • Beat cream cheese, peanut butter, brown sugar and 1/4 cup whipping cream at medium speed with an electric mixer until mixture is light and fluffy
  • In a separate bowl, beat vanilla and remaining 1 1/4 cups whipping cream at high speed until stiff peaks form. Fold one-third whipped cream mixture into peanut butter mixture to loosen; fold in remaining whipped cream mixture
  • Spread peanut butter mixture over the chocolate layer
  • Top with peanut butter cups and drizzle chocolate syrup 
  • Cover and chill for 4-6 hours

Monday, April 23, 2012

Jalapeno Popper Mac-n-Cheese


Jalapeno Popper Mac-n-Cheese

Ingredients:
1 lb Cavatappi pasta (corkscrew shape)
8 oz cream cheese
1 1/2 cups half-n-half
1 1/2 cups pickled jalapenos, chopped 
2 cups sharp cheddar cheese - grated
2 tsp butter, melted
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
 
Directions:
1) Boil pasta per directions on the package, drain and place back in pan
2) Add half-n-half and cream cheese until creamy
3) Add jalapenos and cheese
4) Place in a 9x13 pan
5) Mix butter and breadcrumbs together,  place on top of mac n cheese
6) Preheat oven on Broil, cook for 5 minutes

This is very very yummy!  Feel free to use fresh jalapeno peppers. You'll just need to saute them with olive oil for about 5 minutes.  I just used pickled because that is what I had in the fridge.

You can also try different cheeses, such as monterey jack, or pepper jack.. or heck, add them all in!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Hypnotic Donuts


A new donut shop just opened in my 'hood in East Dallas!

This picture doesn't do the shop true justice!
These are my niece's choices.
Yes, that's bacon on a donut!

She loved them both.

My favorite (not pictured here)
is the
sopapilla donut
it's covered in cinnamon,
and it's delicious

They also offer biscuits
you can get them plain
or
covered in jam
or
covered in fruit
or
covered in gravy
or
covered in peanut butter
or
covered in gravy and peanut butter


If you go on the weekends, go early and be prepared to stand in line!
The line moves fast, and I promise it's worth the wait.



Friday, February 17, 2012

The Netherlands

Last week, my company sent me on a business trip to Amsterdam.  I only got to take a few pictures with my iPhone, and they didn't really come out very well.. but here we go!
They are pretty random!

It snowed before we got there.  Thankfully, it didn't snow while we were there.
It was just very cold.  Highs in the 20's.
This picture was taken in the train going from Amsterdam to The Hague

 Another picture from the train - on our way to The Hague

This is our view from the car on the way to work on Friday morning
We were amazed at all the people on bicycles
Here's a perfect example - the entire family on bikes for the morning commute

The train

We ate at a pasta bar in Amsterdam
Do you want some "shrimps" with your penne?

Pink Bike....
are words really necessary here?

This is one of the canals in Amsterdam
I took many pictures, but it was dark and cold
This one is fun because the flash highlighted the tires of the bikes

Cheese store at Schiphol Airport



Blackened Shrimp

    Blackened Shrimp At Central Market yesterday, I was given a sample plate with steak, shrimp, and a salad. The shrimp ...