Tuesday, May 31, 2011

I hate artichokes.

They're mean.  Sure, they taste good but those suckers are worse than crabs about making you work for the meat. 

The Franklin family introduced me to this grilled artichoke recipe like the one here that they make at Houston's Restaurant.  Try it if you dare. But don't say I didn't warn  you.

I made the remolaude dipping sauce and set it in the fridge thinking about how good this was going to be and how this was going to impress my friend Liz and her mother when they came over for an appetizer and one of my husband's famous margaritas.  Then I set to work on prepping the artichokes.  I had sort of read up online about how to prep them and the recipe I was following had vague instructions but I spend a lot of time in the kitchen so I was not intimidated by them.  But I should have been.  Those things tore my hands to shreds.  So, being that I have the smallest amount of patience of anyone on the planet (save for my father), I got pissed and threw them away.

But since we were having company, I had to come up with a new appetizer.  We had planned to make my husband's favorite rattlesnake eggs and take them to our friend Lane and Brandon's housewarming supper on Sunday night but I had to go ahead and dip into that plan since I was under a time crunch.  Rattlesnake eggs are similar to jalapeno poppers - they're stuffed with cream cheese.  But instead of deep frying them, you wrap them in bacon and grill them.  They're good.

I set about prepping the jalapenos while my husband finished up his round of golf.  I cut off each of the tops and stuck my finger in the jalapeno to clear out the seeds and the membrane so they wouldn't be too hot.  This was going swimmingly until about the fifth jalapeno in when my fingers started burning uncontrollably.  It took me a minute to realize that this was because my fingers were covered in itty bitty knicks from the #@&! artichokes. 

As if that wasn't enough, all of I sudden I started choking from the heat that was emitting from the sink from the pulps of these peppers.  It got in my eyes and up my nose and I couldn't stop coughing.  I called my husband to tell him about the horror of it and he simply couldn't understand and said he'd take care of finishing the appetizer when he got home.  I must have washed my hands 85 times trying to get the jalapeno juice off and trying to stop my hands from stinging but somehow at this point my lips and face were also burning because I guess I touched it.

No, the saga does not continue.  But, if you're still reading at this point, it is a miracle.

My husband finally gets home and goes about finishing prepping the rattlesnake eggs.  Shortly after he finishes removing the remainder of the membrane (he informed me that I did not do it properly), he starts choking from the heat of the peppers in the air.  He finally gets them stuffed with cream cheese, wrapped in bacon and on the grill.  But, he did have some more sympathy and quit telling me that I was acting crazy about the burning sensation on my hands and face and in my throat.

We grilled 'em up and Liz and Penny arrived to have their margarita and rattlesnake eggs (wow, it sounds like such a great thing to invite people over for).  The app was actually a pretty big success and tasted yummy.  But then those pesky jalapenos reared their ugly heads again.  Poor little pup got wind of some jalapeno juice (or maybe he licked somebody's mess up off the deck) but his throat closed up and he started wheezing and couldn't breathe.  My husband is perhaps a leeetle overprotective of that dog because he's worried that I'll have some kind of mental breakdown if something happens to him.  So he starts running around like a chicken with his head cut off screaming that we have to go to the emergency vet.  Thankfully the dog quit choking and we got him calmed down.  For about ten minutes.  At which point, after all of the excitement, Liz and her mother had politely excused themselves and went on to dinner.  The second attack the dog had prompted my husband to throw us both in the car and drive us to the emergency vet.  We made it to the vet only to turn around because the dog was fine and I didn't want to toss away $500 plus dollars for an emergency vet visit.

I'll quit going on about these jalapenos in one more second.  Because clearly everything I've just outlined to you so far wasn't enough torture.  Did you know that the juice of jalapenos can stay around for a while.  It especially likes to get under your fingernails.  I didn't know that.  But I will always remember it now after I got up the next morning and put my first contact onto my eyeball.  It gave new meaning to great balls of fire....ow!!!!!!!!

No more artichokes for jalapenos for me in the near future.  But, I still blame the artichoke.

Monday, May 30, 2011

A little more craftiness

I embroidered another onesie. This one is for a first birthday.

I also took a try at applique without my teacher Reeves there.  This is heavy duty applique so I haven't had to get out the sewing machine yet.  I adore this batik fabric I got and I think it looks just perfect with a beachy seahorse.  I'm liking it so much that more like it are to come for sure!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

My Mom's Vidalia Onions

I love grilling in the summertime and I love all of the fresh veggies that you can grill.  But grilling vidalia onions was always one of my mom's favorite summertime treats.  So delicious, so easy, and so nearly fat free!

What you'll need:
1-2 sweet vidalia onions (1 onion serves 2 people because you cut it in half)
beef bouillon (either a cube or sprinkle some loose - you could also substitute chicken or veggie bouillon)
olive oil
salt and pepper

What you'll do:
Cut off each end of the onion and then cut in half.  You'll have two halves that will sit flat.  Lay down a piece of aluminium foil under each onion half.  Core out the center of each half. 

Sprinkle with bouillon, olive oil and salt and pepper. 

Wrap the onion in the foil to make an individual little pouch. 

Place on grill for half an hour or so (can extend if you are cooking something that takes a little longer - it is only going to get yummier!).  Serve each person their own little onion pouch where they can sop up all of the juices in the foil with the onion. 

Goes great with just about anything!  Like ribs.  Okay, well, really, my husband was so proud of these and he just wanted me to show a picture of them. 

Of course, I forgot the after pic of the onion but you can just imagine how yummy and delicious it looks...and tastes!  Try it!

Friday, May 27, 2011

An Arrangement

I know ya'll are sick to death of me taking pictures of flowers in my house and yard but I just love them so much!  It is my dream (among a million and one other dreams) to one day have a huge flower garden that I can have fresh cut flowers for all the seasons for my house.  In the end, I think it saves money when you don't have to buy them from the store.  Anyway, I put together this arrangement using things cut from my yard - snapdragons, hydrangeas mint, flowering cilantro and some bush clippings.  In addition to looking pretty, the cilantro and mint smell amazing! 

Does any one have any recommendations for good plants that flower often for cut flowers?  I bought my peony bush but so far I've only gotten two blooms out of it and I don't know if I'll get any more.  Sad.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

I've been given a long awaited green light.

Say hello to my new headboard.  It isn't here yet but the hubster has given me permission to move ahead with the order. 

Which clearly means I'll have to have new bedding as well...

Monday, May 23, 2011

Random Comments from the Abode

Graduation is over and so I'm making it one of my top priorities to get this blog back on track! 

A few random updates.

1.  I finally bought my first peony bush and I am in love.  It is my favorite flower and I can't wait to one day have rows and rows of them to cut and arrange.  My first bloom arrived yesterday.  I couldn't wait to cut it and bring it inside.  I think it is beautiful and smells delicious to boot.

2.  My local Trader Joe's had an AMAZING selection of orchids the other day.  And we're talking for only $14.99.  You should check yours too to see what kind of a selection they have.  I've never seen the equal to the number of blooms that the one I bought has:

3.  I was reading Traditional Home the other day and came across these Seersucker napkins.  I. want. them. bad.  But I refuse to pay 16 bucks PER napkin.  So, I'm adding it to my list of crafts that I want to achieve once I can figure out this whole sewing thing.  Anybody tried to do any sewing with seersucker before?  I love the contrasting color of the thread.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Easy Potato and Cheddar Soup

Weeknight inspiration at its finest.  Super easy and really tasty.  Play with the heat or flavors by adjusting peppers, cayenne and curry powder. 

What You'll Need:
1 28 ounce package of frozen diced hash brown potatoes with onions and peppers
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup of chopped miniature sweet potatoes
3 cups of fat free half and half
1 tablespoon curry powder (we used medium yellow)
1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
6 ounces of sharp cheddar cheese
salt and pepper to taste

What You'll Do:
Heat 1 cup of chicken broth, potatoes and peppers until potatoes are browned and softened.  Add the half and half and the spices and let simmer for about ten minutes.  Use a blender or a hand mixer to blend about half of the soup down leaving some chunks still in the soup.  Stir in cheddar cheese and season with additional salt and pepper if needed.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Tuesday Tip: Making Fresh Strawberries Last Longer

My friend Reeves over at Bungalow Bum taught me this tip and it really works. 

Take fresh strawberries out of the plastic container from the grocery store and layer them in a dish on top of a dry dish towel in a single layer (preferably not touching each other).  Cover them up with the towel and store in the refrigerator.  Strawberries will last at least two times longer!  Thanks, Reeves!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Linguine with Pancetta and Peas

This was the best pasta dish I've had in a LONG time.  And it was pretty easy!

What you'll Need
1 tbsp olive oil
3/4 cup chopped pancetta
1 large shallot, finely chopped
1/2 cup white wine
1 1/2 cup green peas (fresh or frozen)
1 clove of garlic, minced
4 sprigs fresh thyme, chopped
1/2 cup fat free half and half
1/2 pound linguine (or pasta of choice)
1 tablespoon kosher salt
salt and pepper to taste
parmesan cheese to top

What you'll Do
Heat oil in skillet and add pancetta.  Cook until brown and crispy.  Remove and drain fat from meat.

In the same pan, cook the shallot for about 2-3 minutes until lightly browned and add garlic.  Cook another 1-2 minutes. 

Add the peas and cook for another 1-2 minutes. 

Add the wine and thyme and cook until liquid has evaporated.  Meanwhile, cook the pasta.

Cook the pasta in salted water according to package directions.  Drain and reserve 1/2 cup of cooking liquid.  Add the pasta to the peas and toss to coat through.  Add the half and half and salt and pepper to taste.  Make sure everything is blended together and heated through.  Serve into a bowl and top with pancetta and parmesan cheese.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Mason Jars Make a Comeback

I have quite a few mason jars that I've collected over the years.  Some I've picked up at flea markets and thrift stores and others I got from my grandmothers.  My grandmother, MawMaw, who I just lost on Easter, was a big vegetable canner back int he day.  Other than my friend Diana who recently told me she tried canning things, I hadn't really heard of too many people doing that in this day and age.  Which is a shame.  I digress.

I usually use my mason jars for fresh flower arrangements and sometimes for storing dried goods like beans and rice but lately they've been popping up all over the place.  A few weeks ago my dear friend Alice made me a goodie basket and two of the items - homemade pimiento cheese and homemade black bean and corn salsa came neatly packaged in mason jars which made her whole gesture even more adorable.  And let me tell  you, that girl has got THE SKILLS for making pimiento cheese.

Then a few days ago my friend Lane was telling me about this new dessert article she read where all kinds of desserts were made in mason jars.  Just check out a few of the possibilities!

Rainbow Cake

Chocolate Pudding Cake

Cupcake Crumble Cake

Monkey Bread

Neopolitan Cake

Peanut Butter Cake

Red Velvet and Nutella Cake

All recipes and more ideas can be found here.  Thanks for sharing, Laney!

I think it would be a really cute theme for a wedding or party to serve everything out of mason jars!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Summer Theme Song

I know I am constantly picked on for my taste in music (or some would argue lack thereof). But today I heard this song on the radio and loved it. Apparently lots of people do too - the scary part of living in my world is that TODAY WAS THE FIRST TIME I EVER HEARD IT. I'm on board now and a huge fan. I'm adopting it as my summer theme song.

Oh, and for those of you who have been chastising me about my lack of posts - sorry. Talk to my job. But I'm working on it...promise!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

A Daily Dose of Art

A few weeks ago I discovered a new website that I've come to really enjoy - The Daily Painter's Gallery.  I am a firm believer that art work is not only a very personal thing that can really pull together a room in your house but also something that doesn't have to cost a fortune.  You just have to know what moves you and what you can afford - or save up for big ticket items!

Anyway, I discovered The Daily Painter's Gallery which is a great place to see artists work on a daily basis when they create their art.  You can either visit the site and scroll through the pages of each day or you can sign up for a daily email that has thumbnails of all of the art (usually about 25 paintings) so that you can quickly scan and see if there is anything you want to examine more closely.  Most of the paintings are for sale and are available on the artists' individual website, included on the gallery info page. 

Here are just a few from the past few days that caught my attention (and no, they aren't all food, I am just STARVING and my husband hasn't come home from work yet so I have a while longer to wait...):

Monday, May 2, 2011

Little Baby Booties

I finished another knit project - little newborn baby booties.  They're for sale in my Etsy shop if anyone is interested!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Chicken Sausage and Spinach Calzones

I got the inspiration for this recipe from one I saw in Southern Living but theirs were turnovers using pie crust.  I used pizza dough and a little mozarella cheese in mine and turned it into yummy calzones.

What You'll Need
1 package chicken sausage (any flavor you like), chopped
3 cups baby spinach
1 package of pizza dough (I used Pillsbury's refrigerated kind)
1 yellow onion, diced
1 red pepper, diced
3 yukon gold potatoes, peeled and diced
1 cup mozarella cheese
sprinkling of parmesan cheese
1 egg white
red pepper flakes
olive oil

What You'll Do
Preheat oven to 400.  Heat olive oil in pan and add onion, red pepper, and potatoes.  Cook until browned.

Add the chicken sausage and cook until heated (the one I bought was already cooked through).  Add the spinach and let it wilt down.

Separate the pizza dough into six even pieces and roll out.  Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray.  Lay out each piece, fill with approximately half of the sausage mixture.  Top with a little amount of mozzarella cheese and then fold over and seal the dough.  Use a fork to press down the edges to seal. 

Mix the egg white with a small amount of water and use a pastry or basting brush to brush the egg mixture onto the top of each of the calzones.  Sprinkle with a little bit of finely grated parmesan cheese.  Bake for about 20 minutes or until the calzones are browned.  I used the leftover spinach in the bag to make a little side salad. 

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