15 September, 2014

Respect the Grits!

Grits get no respect!  *Cue the music* "All I am say-a-un... is Give Grits a Chance!":)

 It seems as autumn sets in my fondness for warm and starchy dishes hits overdrive. Hunkering down and eating meals from a bowl is the idea.  Just keep your gym card pass almost as close as you do your grit spoon if ya know what I'm saying.  No worries.  Everything in moderation, right?

I, myself, love grits!  When fall weather hits I eat them at least once a week, and not just for breakfast.  They are warm, hearty, and very comforting.  This morning i made them with some butter, 1/2 piece of bacon, and some emmantal gruyere cheese. Grits and cheese were made for one another! Season 'em well with salt and pepper. Put a fried egg on top and you've got a quick and easy meal! I tend to like my grits savory, but you can also add some honey or cinnamon sugar and raisins or dates. You can buy instant Quaker grits in the cereal aisle. They aren't quite as good as the long cooking ones, but they're still very good.  1/4 c. grits to 3/4 c. water.  microwave 3-4 min. depending on how thick you like 'em--the longer they cook, the thicker they'll be.  And by all means please use a spoon!
Here's some good GRIT add-ins:
hot sauce
try chicken stock in place of your water when cooking grits
any kind of cheese
sausage, bacon, ham, or any leftover meat you may have.
Shrimp with your grits 
maple syrup
cinnamon sugar

Happy Monday y'all!

10 September, 2014

Oven Risotto

Oven Risotto
Organizing my cupboards today i came across a small bag of arborio rice.  I believe i used it in some avgolemono i made earlier this year (one of my favorites!)
I decided to make some risotto for dinner and went to the web to hunt for a recipe. I've made risotto a few times...I don't think it's hard to make..just a little time consuming.
I was pretty excited when i came across quite a few recipes for making it in the oven!  No standing over the pot and stirring for 30 minutes! Yay! 
I'm just going to say this may be the easiest thing i've ever made that was this incredible tasting!  I will never make risotto the old way again!  You're in for some yum!  

 Oven Risotto: serves 4
1 1/2 c. arborio rice
5 c. HOT chicken broth, divided
1 c. fresh grated parmesan
1/2 c. dry white wine
3 T. butter
1 t. kosher salt
lots of fresh ground pepper
1 c. frozen peas (optional)
Preheat oven to 350.
Put the rice and 4 cups of your HOT chicken stock (microwave the broth or simmer on stove. it MUST BE HOT!!) into a oven safe dutch oven.  Cover with lid and bake 35-45 minutes (check at 35 min) until most of the broth is absorbed and rice is tender.  Removed it from the oven and add your other cup of chicken stock, cheese, wine, butter, salt and pepper and stir well until all is melted.  Add peas if desired and stir until they're heated. Serve it as a side dish, in place of mashed potatoes, or just by itself. Enjoy!

Buttermilk Berry Bundt Cake

This cake is a winner! I had frozen berries in my freezer I wanted to use.  I thawed them and drained some of their liquid, but not all of it.  It came out wonderful!  Moist and incredible!

2 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter, at room temperature
1 3/4 cups sugar
zest of a lemon
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup buttermilk
3-4 cups mixed berries (i used frozen)


2 cups powdered sugar (or more if you like thicker)
juice of 1-2 lemons
1 tablespoon softened butter
whisk it all together

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  grease and flour 10" bundt pan.

In a medium bowl, whisk 2 1/2 cups flour (leaving 2 tablespoons back), baking powder and salt together and set aside. In your mixer bowl cream together the butter, sugar and lemon zest until light and fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes. With the mixer on a low speed, add your eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl between each addition. Beat in vanilla.  Add 1/3 flour mixture to batter, beating until just combined, followed by half the buttermilk, continue to alternate until you've got it all in there. Toss the berries with the remaining 2 T. of flour. Gently fold the berries into the cake batter. The batter will be thick.
Pour the batter in the pan and smooth it out.  Drop the pan on your kitchen counter a few times to get out any air bubbles. Bake for 55 to 70 minutes depending on your oven.  Mine took about 68 minutes. The cake is done when toothpicks inserted into the center come out clean.  
Set cake pan on a wire rack and cool completely. Pour the glaze over top. This is a moist, delicious and beautiful cake! Enjoy!

26 July, 2014

have you met HOUZZ?

Shamelessly, I spend too much time drooling over design on the web. I could spend countless hours online studying architecture, staring at luscious textiles, and just  gleaning ideas from others on how they've designed their homes. Houzz is a wonderful site devoted to design- - pretty much every element of it.  There's something for every taste there.  You can search by your design style.  The top navigation bar is pretty self explanatory. There is SO much to look at here. So if you're not already totally into Houzz.  You may have a new addiction.  You're welcome:)


25 July, 2014

Juan Collins

In the heat of summer there's nothing better than a cocktail that is oh-so refreshing! I'm not a big fan of really sweet cocktails.  A Juan Collins is light and has very little sugar so it's one of my favorite refreshers. It also helps that tequila is one my favorite spirits.:)  Here's how to make yourself one:
4.5 oz. of good Tequila
1.5 oz fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 t. sugar (or more if you like it sweeter)
club soda or sparkling water
Fill a highball glass up with ice.  Add the tequila, lemon juice, and sugar.  Stir the glass with a long spoon.  Don't you love the sound of stirring ice! Well, I do anyway. Fill the remainder of the glass up with club soda.  Stir again gently and serve with a slice of lemon.  Enjoy!  

A mascara review

If I could only have one thing from my makeup bag for the rest of my life it would be mascara.  I love the stuff because I really feel as though mascara...it well...has my back.  It can in just a few seconds of wand stroking give me the semi-liquid black courage to make me feel fairly confident heading out of the house with only it accompanying me.  
I will say that Maybelline, in my opinion, makes the best drugstore mascaras.  Great lash used to be my absolute favorite and old stand by.  Then they came out with the Colossal Volum and that quickly replaced Great Lash as my steady.  I love this stuff.  I decided with summer-- and sweating more, being around water, more activity.. I would try the waterproof version.  I was really disappointed because the stuff is nearly impossible to remove!! I have to use make up remover cloths and then it still feels crusty.  When I wake up in the morning it's still running under my eyes. So I definitely DON'T recommend the waterproof version.  I will have to throw this out before I have no eyelashes left!  I will continue to buy the Regular Colossal Volum because it's a great product. 

A Gargling F I S H ! ! !

My favorite new thing for the kitchen is the Gurglepot!  I spotted these at Mall of America a couple weeks ago and I had to have one.  I can't wait to use this next time I have friends over for dinner.  They come in so many great colors...and best thing is it'll make you smile! -Get Your Gurgle Pot Here.

21 June, 2014

Stuffed Chicken Breasts

During the summer we grill all the time---like 4-5 times a week. I am fortunate to be married to a superb grilling man who really knows his way around a BBQ.  Lately, DLP and I are really loving stuffed chicken breasts on the grill.  Our favorite right now is jalapeño pepper & jack cheese wrapped in bacon (above). You can really get creative with these and wrap up whatever you like in there.  
Jalapeño & Jack cheese: serves 4
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2-4 jalapeño peppers, minced (or less if you don't like it as spicy)
4 chunks monterey jack cheese 
bacon for wrapping
salt and pepper
toothpicks (soak the in water first) 

Pound out your chicken to about 1/4" thickness. Lay them out and season the breasts  with salt and pepper.  Spread your minced jalapenos and jack cheese on each one.  Roll the breasts up tight and wrap each breast all around with the bacon.  Secure it with toothpicks to hold everything together

Grill 20-25 minutes turning every few minutes so bacon doesn't burn but gets crisp.  Grill until done (165 degrees). Don't over cook or chicken will be dry. Remove all toothpicks before serving. 

i'm so thankful for my middle son, Cayd, and his keen eyesight.  he helped me remove thousands a LOT of microscopic spines from my arm after i unknowingly brushed by the demon in a pot beautiful cactus at the greenhouse. rethinking my love for the prickly pear species. 

19 June, 2014

A Dining room...

Well, it looks as though this is my 2nd post of 2014. That's sad. I can't believe June is two thirds over already.

So, there's quite a few things i've got working this summer. Mostly though I've been working on my formal dining room.  Some old stuff & some new stuff i've collected for my dining room. Also, slowly but surely recovering a few of my dining chair seats. My main dining room wall is hung with sweet pictures by my boys, little paintings, special prints, and mementos that are meaningful to our family.  I call 'em my "love nuggets". I also love hanging them haphazardly and not perfectly on the wall. It looks so much homier and real that way.  I found the bright yellow covered urn a couple weeks ago. I love a bright yellow pop against my dark teal walls. This room has dark teal, yellow, and black as it's main colors. Here's a few pics of my dining room>>>  The color on my walls photographs totally different depending on the time of day.  I'd say the first picture depicts the color most accurately.  I found the the lamps (Chapman & Co.) at the thrift store.  I'm on the hunt for shades for them. The buffet table circa 1960's was from my parents. I love the patina on it.  My Dad made us the beautiful wine rack.  It's very special.  You can see my rug that's fairly new. My boys call it "the beehive".  Also considering curtains.  I'll take some more pictures of the room  when it comes all together and post them.

09 January, 2014

Sémola y huevos con chile verde

Sémola y huevos con chile verde (grits and eggs with green chile)

Happy 2014 everyone!  I hope y'all are staying warm in these crazy arctic-ish temperatures!  Lately, when deciding on suppers, all I want to do is make soup!  Last night was the second time this week I made soup for supper.  It's just kind of a necessity here in Minnesota I think.  Everyone's just trying to make it home.  Going from their cars to the warmth of the indoors in as little time as possible.  Race ya! No, I'd better not.  This girl forgot how to walk on the ice/snow after 14+ years in the south.  Ha!

Green chile or green pork chile is something I will always order at a Mexican restaurant. If they've got good chile, hopefully the rest of their offerings will be yummy too.

I haven't made green chile in quite a while.  This chile recipe is delicious.  It did call for a lot of cumin and chile powder in it. I prefer less so I will probably go much lighter on those next time I make it, but it was still terrific. That's why I wrote the measurements for the spices "to taste". What's better for breakfast or brunch than grits and eggs with green chile!

2 lbs. pork (i used boneless chops and a pork loin diced)
1 T. veg. oil
2 T. bacon fat 
1 large onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
4-5 T flour
4-5 c. reduced sodium chicken broth

15 oz can tomatoes, drained
6 cans green chiles3 large tomatillos, husks removed and cut in chunks
2-5 whole jalapenos (depends how hot you like it)
chili powder to taste (optional)
cumin to taste
salt to taste
Heat a large pot up good and hot and add your vegetable oil.  Add cubed pork and let sit in pot undisturbed for awhile so that it gets very brown. Add your diced onion and garlic on top of it. Stir and continue browning it all.  When it's good and brown remove from pot into another bowl. 
In a food processor or blender put the green chiles, tomatillos, and jalapenos. Process until smooth.  Test hotness to see how many jalapenos you want to add.

In the same pot you browned the meat in put your 2 T. bacon fat.  Begin to add your 4 T. of flour to the fat and let it brown a bit and get toasty.  Now add your chicken broth slowly and let it come to a low  boil until it thickens.  Now add your chile/tomatillo/jalapeno mixture.  Now stirr in the pork.  Add your cumin, chili powder, and salt to the taste you like.  Let it come back to a low boil and thicken more adjusting seasoning to you liking.  Let simmer..the longer the better but at least an hour.  Serve with tortillas as a main course, over burritos, or on a bed of grits and fried eggs.  Enjoy!