Blog number two.... it might explain my current lack of enthusiasm for blog number 1

Friday, September 26, 2008

It's official!

I have taken the plunge and once again I am working two jobs. I really never thought it would happen again. But as everyone knows, the economy isn't at it's best right now, especially for those of us in the real estate industry.

However, I don't really see this new job as being a hassle. I think it is going to be awesome because I am combining two things I love most.... cooking and people!

I am now a Pampered Chef consultant!!!

I have to do 4 shows in my first thirty days. If you are reading this and you are even some what close to my area (Odenville, AL) and would like to book a party, please contact me! My email is and I would love to do a show for you!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Caribbean Queen

Ha ha now you're gonna sing it all day!

I love to order things "jerked". I love jerk seasoning! But do you ever notice that the jerk seasoning used in restaurants is not the same thing as the jerk seasoning sold in stores? I have. I probably have 7 jerk seasonings in my cabinet searching for that one that isn't sugary but that is spicy! Haven't found it, short of making my own. Which for some reason emits high quantities of smoke while cooking.

The other day I was out working with another girl from work when she admitted to needing to stop by target for something. "Oh, me too!" I said. So we went. Now we are both big in the kitchen and are constantly swapping recipes and saying "you gotta try this". So of course we travelled over to the grocery side of target. I can honestly say that was my first time to be on that side, and I loved it! I want to redo my spice racks in their brand of spices, because of the cute little jars they come in. Not to mention they practically had a spice AISLE. I was in heaven. She was scouring the McCormick section for something. "You've just got to try it" she said, "Try what?". "It's this jerk seasoning. It's great!". I then informed her of my hunt for a spicy jerk seasoning and all of its dead ends. She assured me this one would not let me down and even though we couldn't find it in Target, I needed to find it and she would look at her local grocery for me a bottle as well.

I found it. She was right! I rubbed it on pork chops and let them hang out in the fridge for a while before Bradley threw them onto the smoker. It was spicy not sweet (even though there is sugar in the mix, it doesn't stand out as much as the heat) and I can't wait to try it out on fish! She said that if you visit McCormick's website, they have all kinds of recipes including it.

I actually just had a thought for what to do with my other too sweet jerk seasonings..... Check back this time next week to see what it was!

What is it??

Mother in law and Father in law just recently spent a week in the mountains for their birthdays. They brought me back some good wine and this...

She was so excited to give it to me, saying things like "I hope y'all don't already have one". I looked at it.... and everyone waited for me to say something...

"OH!.....Is.....Is it a biscuit cutter?"

short pause

"Noooo it's to chop meat up!"

Boy, was she right! This thing is SO handy to have in the kitchen, especially since we now have a commercial barbecue pit in the back yard. You gather your cooked meat in a pile and shove this thing into it with a twisting motion. At first it doesn't really tackle the heap like expected, then out of no where, you've got a pile of perfectly chopped meat. It is such a time saver! It makes it look just like if you went to your local bbq joint and ordered a "chopped sandwich/platter". Love it!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Run for your thighs!! Its.... GRILLZILLA!

Bradley's newest bob the builder escapade lead him to assist a friend in building what I like to refer to as "the biggest flippin' grill I ever did see", more affectionately known as..... GRILLZILLA.

Yes it is obnoxiously huge and yes he did have to build a new deck specifically for housing the flavor injecting beast. But that's ok because now my covered deck is going to be turned into a "tropical getaway".

I'm always trying to turn places into tropical getaways, seriously, can one of y'all just move me to the beach and call it good?? Please? My birthday is soon!!

This tropical get away isn't going to happen overnight, as patio furniture is DANG EXPENSIVE even in the off season when it is on clearance. Not to mention no where has it in the store anymore so I'm having to order it offline and pay for shipping and cross my fingers that nothing is damaged in the process. So I'm saving my pennies and if you would like to donate yours... please see me after the show. (ahem birthday soon ahem)

Where was I? Oh yeah, the big black thing in my backyard....

Anyway it came to us late Thursday night and we left a football party early on Saturday because Bradley was itching to go to the grocery store and buy large pieces of various animals to throw into its big steel belly. FEED THE BEAST! FEED THE BEAST!

Let the marination process commence!

And it was good. Sunday was spent "smoking" and not the wacky tabacky kind. (can you tell its past my bedtime?) He cooked a slab of ribs that looked like they were from a rhino.... or maybe an elephant, pork chops (that I rubbed with a new spice mix a friend told me about, don't worry I'll show you later) and an entire chicken. En......tire.....chicken. Remember Magda from There's Something About Mary? hehe That's what Mr Chicken looked like when he checked out of Hotel Grill-ifornia.

Of course we couldn't eat all that Sunday night, so we've spent this week finding new ways to enjoy smoky food. All jokes aside that thing makes some great food! The chicken was turned into chicken tacos last night and chicken nachos tonight. Both equally amazing.

Nothing special, just chips, chicken, rotel, corn, cheese and a spicy sour cream sauce I made up.

Take sour cream, mix in taco seasoning (to taste), mix in juice from rotel until it is a little runny and you are able to "drizzle" it on things like tacos and nachos.


i love ya to (center)pieces!

Last week I hosted a girls night in, with my two best friends. One I've known since kindergarten and beyond, the other stepped into my life around 8th grade. Both changed me for the better.

We had salad, bread sticks, chicken and pasta with tomato cream sauce, brownie sundaes, good wine, LOTS of laughter and some great catching up.

I wanted something girly and fun for our centerpiece that included fresh flowers. I'm addicted to glassware (I'll have to show you sometime) so I chose three pretty glasses and floated flower buds in them.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

from my kitchen to your.... computer screen!

My blog has been in the operating room and has emerged with a face lift. I kinda like it, but at first thought it was giving everything a yellow tint. So I decided to do some back reading to see if other posts/pictures looked yellow.

I stumbled across posts from when we had just moved in (January '08) and lots of empty house pictures. I then saw where I had promised pictures of my unpacked kitchen.... and never came through.

I'm glad I didn't though because it is just now to my standards. The only thing else I might want for it is a rooster picture, and I have been shopping carefully for the perfect one. I look everywhere I go.

My "theme" is warm neutral colors accented with fire engine red and black, peppered with roosters. I don't want my kitchen to turn into a junk haven, I just want a few rooster pieces. Right now I have a hanging iron rooster, a candle holder rooster for the table (which matched my place mats perfectly, accidentally!), a platter from belk that was marked down - put on sale - and I had a coupon for grand totaling a whopping 8 bucks and lastly, a statue rooster I found at Ross that was on clearance. I'm through with roosters, except for the picture. It will go where the fleur de lis "clock" is that never worked and I'm going to try and convert the "clock" into a trivet.

Yes, it is always this clean. Except for Sunday mornings during football season. After 12+ straight hours of football and snacks, all I want to do is go to bed while visions of Arenas and Tebow dance in my head. "I'll do it in the morning" I say.... every time.

For before pics, please visit here.

trying to be healthy....

Doesn't always work out like you want it to.

I bake a lot of things that Bradley would fry, around here. Frozen french fries, frozen chicken fingers, frozen hush puppies. So when I decided to make chicken fingers myself and bake them I figured they would turn out like the frozen ones do.

Not exactly. They were good, but they didn't brown and had a very dry crust. I love to eat chicken fingers without needing to dip them in something, and these required a dip. All we had was ranch, but I would of preferred a parmesan based dressing for these "Italian Chicken Fingers".

Basically I used the pork chop recipe but replaced the chops with chicken tenders. I want to do it again because it was something new and tasty to perk up boring old chicken, but I guess I will have to shallow fry them.

And yes I admitted to Bradley that I was wrong and he was right in asking me to fry them.

See this picture? It's of three chicken fingers and they just look like one big blob. There is no definition of color. No browning around the edges.

I served it alongside my presto pasta entry and it made for a good dinner. Good not great.

feels like home to me

I'm getting more and more comfortable in this new house. It was hard, even though I griped that our old house was too small, I loved it. It felt like home. There were tall tall trees in the yard, a back deck that looked straight into more tall tall trees and the inside was just like I wanted it. Except for the whole no dishwasher thing.

Even though now that we have one, I still find myself handing washing the dishes because I forget I have one.

We, like I'm sure most people who move do, still have boxes that need to be unpacked. Mostly picture frames. I'm not big on displaying portraits all over the house, especially if they are of people in a studio, yeck. Go outside for pete's sake, it's free out there!!!

But there was one picture I missed seeing around the house and that was our wedding signature picture. Or whatever they are called. I missed reading all the cute things it said. I missed seeing that picture of us just hours after we said "I do" and the glowing smiles we had. I can look at that picture and relive that night. I'll never forget it. I remember every detail, right down to the wine glasses of Jane and Greg's that they were sipping from. Love like that is what truly makes a house a home.

So Bradley bought me a little black shelf, hung it in the hall and I set the picture and our cake topper on it(It's a "W" I'm in love with them, they are everywhere here). Perfect!

I have a bad addiction to design shows, and when the "Top 20 design mistakes" came on.... I was front and center. When they get to the number about "no fake flowers" I thought to myself, "Yeah why don't people just buy their favorite flower, plant it and have an endless supply of fresh flowers to display??".

Then it hit me..... I have four big flower bushes overflowing with big orange and pink blooms. I've had them all summer but it never occurred to me to showcase them around the house. So outside I went to collect the prettiest 8 blooms (4 of each color). I battled a weird looking green spider that we won't discuss.... and ended up with 4 pretty little bowls of flowers. One for the kitchen table, one for the coffee table, one for the guest bath and one for my pretty new shelf.

This house isn't so bad, after all :D

Oh and now that I realized you could bring flowers inside.... and summer is over.... what kind of flowers do best during the fall months?

Don't even get me started on fall either..... fall really feels like home to me. Open windows.... billowing curtains.... pumpkins.... apples.... football and the voice of Eli Gold.... hay rides.... and my new harvest theme place mats I bought over the summer!!! I can't WAIT to use them!!!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

My "Presto Pasta Nights" Entry

When I saw this fun little blog-test I didn't scour my arsenal looking for the best recipe. I didn't stay up late thinking about ingredients. I didn't do any of the weird obsessive things I usually do when I am submitting a recipe for the world to see.


Because this summer I accidentally created my new comfort food recipe. It's nothing fancy. It's not gourmet. It is simply a way to use up all those awesome veggies from the farmer's market. There are no measurements, because you can make it for one or for one hundred and one (Dalmatians).

But it is something that you need to try, and therefore, I'm sending it in.

Presto Pasta Nights was the idea of Ruth over at Once Upon a Feast. It started in March of 07 and now here I am, over a year later, entering a dish.

Summer Pasta
recipe by me

ready cut macaroni - or whichever pasta you are currently in love with
zucchini - cut into half moons
yellow squash - cut into whole moons
vidalia onions - i cut mine into rings
minced garlic

boil the pasta in salted water. drain. while it's still hot toss with butter and parmesan.
heat evoo in a large skillet. add veggies. saute until they reach your favorite stage of done-ness.
add garlic and cook for an additional 30 seconds to a minute.
toss with pasta.
sprinkle top with parmesan.

So there you go. A very simple, very versatile, but still very delicious summer pasta dish.

(sauteed onions not pictured. please refer to the "chick food" post)

po'kchop po'kchop greasay greasay.......

we think yo (fill in the blank)'s E-ZZZY E-ZZZY

The above chant is all the more reason why children should be home schooled. I learned that in first grade.... and we put "mama" in the blank.

But for real I just figured out WHY a first grader should not be singing it. Innocent mind...... hmm hm hmm...... where's that halo....

No really, I'm just blonde.

Now.... much, much later.... I sing it every time we have pork chops. Bradley even quit looking at me weird, he is use to it.

This is a very easy yet VERY scrumptious Giada recipe that I discovered a while back and we have it a lot for dinner. Might I add, you want to shallow fry in evoo. Your canola oils and veggie oils collect under the crust and that is just no fun at all. Evoo gives you a drier fry.

I made that up, but it's true!

Giada's pork chop recipe can be found HERE and it is tried and true! I usually buy butterflied pork chops and then finish splitting them, but any ol' chop will do!

What I really wanted to talk to you about was my new favorite side dish. Grits! They're not just for breakfast people. You can mix anything in there. Treat them like you would mashed potatoes. Wanna mix in corn, cumin, cilantro and a lil lime juice? You can. Wanna mix in cheese and bacon? You can. Wanna mix in sardines and anchovies? You can, I won't judge you.

I won't come near you..... but I won't judge you.

For this meal, I added in mozzarella cheese. Some halved cherry tomatoes and parsley would of been great mixed in, but you know what? I'm married and that's chick food. So... there you go.

My other side dish was canned asparagus (love!) tossed with lemon juice, minced garlic, salt and fresh ground black pepper. This, apparently, is not chick food.

Take note.

Friday, September 5, 2008

becoming a home....

This is my guest room

I want to make it into a "guest suite"

I do not know why. We've been living together for almost three years and so far we've had two people stay the night at the old house (that ended up falling asleep in the floor watching movies) and one stay the night here (and hes young and was just happy to spend the night away from home).

But maybe it is because we never had a guest suite to sweeten the deal.

I can see it now.......

*que harp*

*computer screen goes hazy and clears up to two people sitting at their kitchen table enjoying morning coffee and planning their holiday visiting*

"you know honey we should really go visit all our family in St Clair county."

"i do miss them so, but with gas so high we cant afford to drive all the way there and then stay in a hotel and eat out at expensive restaurants just to be near family"

"well i heard that deLa and bradley just finished their guest suite. you know they love to cook so we wouldn't go hungry"

"oh honey that is an excellent idea! i love you! let's never stay in a hotel again!!!!"

*back to reality*

SEE! This is what I'm missing out on with my messy guest room. No house guests!

I know what I want to do.... it is just putting it into action. The bedding is taken care of, it will be our old bedding ensemble:

So that is taken care of. Then I want a little reading area with a comfy chair and a small table and lamp. That will be in front of the window. I also want a bookshelf to put a tv/dvd player and house lots of DVDs and books if the guests need some time to themselves.

I also want one of those things in hotels that you set your suitcase on.

But I have one problem...... the room needs to be painted. I want it to be a color that is VERY calming and soothing. Something that will make them feel at home.

What color makes you feel comfortable and relaxed?? Please tell me!

Our bedroom is painted a grayish brownish blueish color. It was supposed to be chocolate milk color. I already know it goes with the bedding, should I just use that?

What amenities would you want to have while you were away from home? Anything else I need to add to my guest suite?

I need to know what you think, and you need to tell me.... because, who knows... YOU may be my first house guest!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Can't leave well enough alone....

Every couple of months I go on grocery shopping frenzies. It usually starts out with good intentions, just going to the store for a few things totalling under $20 dollars. Then I see something I like.... and something else.... and then it is all over.

See I can't knowingly spend lots of money on groceries. It hurts me. I know we have to eat, but I would much rather spend my money on fun stuff, like clothes or shoes. So I have to trick my self into accidentally grocery shopping. In between those times I drop under $20 dollars a week on stuff we run out of and desperately need (read: cheese and bacon and coke zero) at the grocery. This goes on for months.

Well this weekend I had one of "those" shopping trips. I found a new product I wanted to try and it was all down hill from there. I was meal planning like crazy. The product was a macaroni grill chicken helper type thing. I thought, "Yum macaroni grill how bad can it be?!"

I was right! But was it their fault.... or mine??

I tried the above version first. It was a basil alfredo sauce with chicken, noodles and sun dried tomatoes. Ok Bradley is not going to eat sun dried tomatoes. So I omitted those. Plus I only like them on salads, so tata matoes. Then I read the directions. "Brown chicken in butter". That's it? No seasoning?

No no no. Step back macaroni grill... let me handle this.

I chunked up chicken tenderloins and tossed them with a generous amount of italian seasoning. Heated up a few tablespoons of butter with some evoo and cooked my chicken.... all the way through because it wanted you to finish cooking them in the sauce and that's just gross. I also sauteed some onions and baby bella mushrooms in evoo and italian seasonings, and fried some bacon. I mixed the mushrooms and onions with the chicken, sauce and noodles, and topped the dish with crumbled bacon and parmesan cheese.

It was SO good! I guess I can't take any credit for the sauce, I mean right out of the box it was good. It was almost like a pesto alfredo sauce. I asked bradley if he thought it would of been just as good if I had of just made it like the box wanted me to and he said, "I don't want to think about it!"

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Smells Like Fall....

After buying a lot of granny smith apples, even though I knew I have a slight allergy to them (in "raw" form), and eating two and my bottom lip swelling way up.... I knew I had to find a good recipe to use the rest of them.

My favorite accompaniment to a granny smith apple is caramel. I thought back to my caramel apple pie and thought about making one of those, but wanted something easier, with ingredients found in my kitchen and a little lighter!!

My original baking experiment was with this recipe. Don't get me wrong.... GREAT recipe! But you need to make them with cupcake liners, because the heavy caramel chunks sink to the bottom and glue the muffins to the pan. Ok.... plan B.....

I modified and halved the recipe to make 24 mini muffins - sans caramel.

"Fall is So Close" Apple Muffins
adapted from the recipe above

1 cup self rising flour
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 & 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1/8 cup butter, melted
1 & 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
2 small granny smith apple, peeled and diced (i used a hand chopper)

preheat your oven to 350*

mix the first 4 ingredients and set aside. in a new bowl mix the milk and egg, add the butter and vanilla. Pour into the dry ingredient bowl and mix. Stir in apples. Pour into mini muffin tin and bake for 16 minutes or until bottoms are golden.


The batter is soupy and doesn't do a lot of rising, so fill the hollows up! The end result is very good and reminds you of being outside at Halloween and smelling fresh apples. Or it does me anyway!

party party party

My kitchen has not recovered from hosting 2 parties this weekend. One Friday night and another Saturday night. Sunday it was ignored as we shopped for labor day sales and it was again ignored on Monday as we played with the toys we bought on Sunday. Tuesday was another off day and I used it to clean up. But then I baked and Bradley took over cooking up a batch of home brewed Samuel Adams. Then of course we made dinner. So I began tackling the project again today and started cleaning out the fridge. I found a few leftover cupcake truffles from Friday night's party and just as I was throwing them away I thought, "they're too cute not to blog!"

So here they are. An incredibly easy, but very impressive, dessert.

I got my idea from Cara's Cravings only I didn't spear mine. I also used a red hot for the "cherry" and the inside was made with a fun fetti cake mix. It's my fave box cake mix.

Sorry for the bad quality camera phone picture... this is the week where I don't know what I did with my camera!