27 September, 2011

Humble beginnings at 4001 1/2

 I've found myself reminiscing recently with a couple different people about our old hometown of Omaha.  Recalling so many things about our time there has gotten me homesick in a lot of ways.  I met my husband there, had 2 of my children there, and made many wonderful friends and memories.

When I met my husband he was recently out of the Air Force and sharing this little, yellow, alley house (below) with a friend and one or two other buddies who might as well have been paying rent since they almost lived there.  It was a definitely a bachelor's pad.  T.V. trays were a permanent fixture in the living room, messy bedrooms and strewn clothes on furniture, and good luck finding a clean dish to use for the non-existent food in the fridge. Don't let me forget to mention the couch on the front porch (that's called Bachelor pad ala white trash).  I think it belonged to their landlord who lived in the house directly in front.
Do you see the little part of the house sticking out with the four windows on the right? That was the kitchen.  It was a galley kitchen literally not much wider than what you see there.  I went over one day when they were at work and cleaned the place up, washed every dish in the kitchen, and made DLP and his friends dinner.  When they walked in the to a clean house, the dirty dish-free kitchen, and a homemade meal they thought they'd died and gone to heaven.  I will say my cooking wasn't amazing when I was in my early 20's but with guys used to a constant diet of fast food and ramen noodles I guess it tasted pretty darn good.

DLP's  roommate eventually moved out, DLP and I got hitched and had the place all to ourselves. I picked out a classic blue/white pinstriped sofa and loveseat (which would still look great now, btw, that's a whole other post).  Our first son came along the following year.  We bought our first home a few months later.  There are so many wonderful memories in that little yellow house though.  It will forever be special in my heart. 

The little yellow alley house.  4001 1/2 was the address!

12 September, 2011

Pie is the new cupcake

Cupcakes are so yesterday.  Pie is where it's at these days.  It's not that I don't like cupcakes (truthfully they're not my preference) but I'm really just over the cupcake craze.  Bring on the pie!

As I welcome fall weather I have a few pies on my list that I've been wanting to make.  As I've stated before I don't run my oven from May to August.  September can also be somewhat iffy depending on the temps here in Tennessee.  This was the reason I used a pre-made graham cracker crust for this pie.  Homemade pie crust would be much better though and I will do that next time.

Banoffee pie originated in England.  It was first made in 1972 at a pub called The Hungry Monk. The ingredients are caramel made from cooking cans of sweetened condensed milk, bananas, and whipped cream.  So here's what you'll need:

Banoffee pie

  • 2 cans sweetened condensed milk
  • your favorite pie crust
  • 3 large bananas
  • 1 1/2 cups whipped and chilled heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon packed light brown sugar

Preheat oven to 425.
Pour condensed milk into pie plate. Cover pie plate with foil and crimp foil tightly around rim. Put in a roasting pan, then add enough boiling-hot water to reach halfway up side of pie plate, making sure that foil is above water. Bake, refilling pan to halfway with water about every 40 minutes, until milk is thick and a deep golden caramel color, about 2 hours. Remove pie plate from water bath and transfer toffee to a bowl, then chill toffee, uncovered, until it is cold, about 1 hour.
While toffee is chilling bake your crust if using a traditional one. If using a graham cracker crust no baking is needed. Cool piecrust completely in pan on a rack, about 20 minutes.
Spread toffee evenly in crust, and chill, uncovered, 15 minutes.
Cut bananas into 1/4-inch-thick slices and pile over toffee.
Beat cream with brown sugar in a clean bowl with an electric mixer until it just holds soft peaks, then mound over top of pie.

My boys and husband say this is one of the best pies they've ever tasted!

Chicken Noodle Soup

I love easy, uncomplicated recipes.  My family loves chicken noodle soup.  It's the traditional variety they crave.. just good old chicken, broth, and the classic veggies with basic seasonings. I know some like to go the faux yellow coloring route.   No yellow food coloring please.  There is something so charlatan-esque (yes i just made that up) about that.  Stay the natural path and you won't regret it. That yellow stuff doesn't look like real chicken broth.  Sorry.

I make large batches and freeze it in portions for later meals.

Chicken Noodle Soup

1 whole chicken, cleaned and dried (make sure you take out the giblets)
4 c. water
4 c. chicken broth
2 c. carrots cut in 1" pieces
1 1/2 c. sliced celery
1 c. chopped onion
8 oz. wide egg noodles
1/4 c. chopped parsley
salt and pepper to taste

Cook chicken in the water and broth in a 4 or larger qt. pot.   Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 25-30 min.  Remove chicken and let cool.  Strain broth through a colander and even cheesecloth if you want a really clear broth (I don't do cheesecloth).  Put strained broth back in pot and start heating.  Taste and see if you need to add salt.  Add celery, carrots, and onion.  Simmer 15 minutes.  While the veggies simmer pull the meat off the chicken into bite size pieces and set aside.  Add noodles and cook 8-10 minutes.  Add the chicken and parsley.  Salt and pepper to taste.

08 September, 2011

south seas steak quesadillas

The title of my blog is reminiscent of Wheel a Fortune's "Before and After" category.  I haven't watched that show in forever but I always liked that category.  Is it even still on?  I believe Pat Sajack's helmet hair could withstand just about anything-- rain, wind, natural disaster.  It would be the last thing standing for sure.  Anyway...I'd like to buy a vowel.  An "A" for Aqua net. 

Beef.  It's what's for........ whatever you want it to be for.  :)  

Top Sirloin is good.

 These cow tutorials always interest me.  I always seem to forget where each cut comes from though so a refresher is good.

Whenever top sirloin goes on sale I like to stock up.  I like the leanness of the meat and it's so great in so many different dishes.  

South Seas Steak is is one of my mainstay meals.  It's super easy, fairly healthy, and really tasty.  

South Seas Steak:
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup soy sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon mustard
1/2 teaspoon pepper 

3 pounds top sirloin 
1 T. onion (fresh or dried is okay)  Mix marinade together and cut sirloin into strips.  Put it all into a zip lock bag and marinate at least 6 hours or overnight. 

 Drain marinade and place on a large jelly roll pan.  Turn on broiler and put meat  on the top rack of the oven 1-2 minutes for medium rare or longer if you like it more done. It's great with a baked potato and a salad.
 I got busy with dinner and forgot to take pictures after it was done.  sorry.  you should try this tho'.  I think you'll like it.

Now for the quesadilla bit...

So, if you have lots of leftover steak as I did quesadillas are a great lunch or dinner the next day

 Saute up some red peppers and red onions with a little salt.

 I like to brown my meat in the skillet a little while I heat it up for the quesadillas.
Butter your skillet,  lay your tortilla down, sprinkle a light layer of cheese (I like colby/jack blend), put on steak strips,  add some peppers and onions, sprinkle more cheese, and cover with another tortilla.  Butter that tortilla and flip.  Let melt and watch carefully so you don't burn it.

I serve this with homemade salsa.

06 September, 2011

Fall and Boots go together

This weather is bringing to mind FALL... my favorite time of year is drawing ever closer...and  although they're forecasting warm weather well into October, that hasn't hampered my yearly desire to search for a new pair of boots.  I'm always on the lookout!  Here's a few of my favorite I've discovered lately.  
Although some of these boots I've chosen are completely out of my price range I like to use them for inspiration in finding more abstemious choices, but no less stylish.



Drooling. These Manolo boots are AmaZing!!  These would go great with everything from short/long skirts  to jeans.


Classic combat boots
Oh. my. these boots are ridiculously cute.   The 3.75 heel is too high for me but the style is so amazing I wanted to include them.  If you click on the link you can see more views of them and understand the "cuteness factor".  Zoom in on the lace placket.  love it.

Frye Melissa riding boot

Each year I find at least a few styles of Frye boots that I'd love to have.  These are classic and exude taste.  I'm fairly certain they will never go out of style.  <3



A great ankle boot with timeless chicness.  I loved the leather and the tassel on these.  too cute and just the right height for me.

Snap you up some boots.  I suggest Ebay or even Craigslist (be safe).  You'd be amazed at  the bargains you can come across.

Cabot 3 year cheddar

Have you tried Cabot's 3 year cheddar?  If you fancy a strapping, robust, and brawny cheddar this is your cheese!    It's really wonderful with wine or whatever you'd like to eat it with or melt it on.  I buy mine in 2 lb. bricks at Costo (pic above).  approx $12 for the brick is a real bargain.  It puts to shame some cheddars twice that price.