Saturday, June 26, 2010

Garden Update

Our garden has finally started to take off.  I was worried that the plants wouldn't fertilize because we planted them so late.  A few plants are moving slower than others, but most of them are starting to produce vegetables.

We have a total of 4 cherry tomatoes growing right now.  We still don't have any big tomatoes starting yet, but I'm hoping they'll start to grow soon.

These are going to be red bell peppers.  Here's a picture of our two biggest ones.  We also have yellow and green pepper starting to grow.
JALAPENOS!!!  I can't wait to make my Aunt Molli's jalapeno jelly.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Run Away Dog

A few weeks ago we brought Dixie with us to my cousin's graduation in College Station.  We decided she would be fine if we left her in the backyard during the ceremony.  I made the mistake of not walking around the yard to check for holes in the fence, but I didn't think it was a big deal because Dixie had never run away before.  Well I guess there's a first time for everything, because when we got back to the duplex Dixie was gone.  Kyle and my dad automatically took charge and started calling for her and knocking on neighbors doors.  I was in complete shock and just stood there with my mouth hanging open.  Luckily, the neighbors had her.  So she was only missing for about 2.5 minutes.

One of my favorite things about the new house is the backyard for Dixie.  I was under the impression that she loved being back there.....until yesterday.  I came home from work and walked to the back door to let Dixie inside, but she was nowhere to be found.  Once again, I was in complete shock and my body went numb.  I called Kyle, sobbing hysterically to come home and help me find her.  I mustered up the courage to knock on a few neighbors doors, but I just started crying every time anyone answered.  Our neighbor to the left of us graciously helped me until Kyle got home in my search to find my beloved dog.  Just like last time, Kyle got right down to business.  He was running around the neighborhood, stopping cars, knocking on doors, anything he could to find Dixie.  In the meantime, I went inside to make missing dog flyer's.  I had never done that before so I had no idea what to put on it.  I printed a few out and Kyle started posting them where he could.  While he was out, someone rang our doorbell.  At first, I thought he locked himself out (I've done it before), but it was someone with a picture of Dixie on their phone.  Praise the Lord, she was alive!!!  I called the number he gave me, and sure enough, someone had our little dog. I jumped in my car, wallet in hand (in case they were holding her for ransom).  As I turned the corner, I saw Kyle hugging another man.  What the heck was going on?  As he turned toward my car, he was holding our precious, terrible, run away dog.  After thanking the kind man for taking good care of her, we took our stinky, but much loved puppy home.

Needless to say, Dixie is staying inside until we find a way to keep her in the backyard.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Home Sweet Home

I can't believe we've been living in the house for over a month and this is my first post.  To give you a little bit of background, Kyle and I bought our first home on April 15th.  It's a four bedroom, two bathroom house in Round Rock, Texas.  I'll be totally honest, there are things about the house that I don't like, but it's slowly growing on me.  I'm SO thankful that we are out of the apartment and finally have a place to call our own.  I don't have a lot of pictures of the house, because it's still pretty empty.  However, here are a few unique things about the house that make it our home.

1) Our vegetable bed.  Kyle built me this vegetable bed and few weeks ago, and I absolutely love it.  I wake up every morning and water the plants before I go to work.  We planted regular tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, red, yellow and green bell peppers, jalapenos and a variety of herbs.  I'm finally starting to see some buds on our jalapeno plants.  I can't wait until they start growing so I can make some jalapeno jelly. 
 2) Our first painting.  We bought this painting a week after we moved in at the Austin Art Festival.  It's called, "The Tree of Life".  We both really loved the artist and hope to purchase more of his work in the future.  Right now it's hanging above our bedroom door, but we might move it somewhere else eventually.
3) A surprise flower in our front yard flower bed.  I'm not a huge fan of our current flower beds.  I came home from work one day and found this beautiful flower.  I was planning on pulling everything out because I thought it was all just weeds.....but I'll let this one stay.
4) Dixie, of course!!!  Dixie now has her very own backyard.  She was skeptical at first, but now she guards the fence like a prison guard.  She's even made a very distinct path around the entire yard where she patrols. 
P.S. Hopefully I'll get around to updating the background soon.  I'm getting kind of tired of Valentine's Day theme myself.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Pork Tenderloin Showdown

I have an ongoing love-hate relationship with the pork tenderloin.  I love it because it is sold two per package.  Who doesn't love things that are sold in pairs.  Earrings, shoes and reeses peanut butter cups.....all sold in pairs.  Secondly, the pork tenderloin is pretty inexpensive.  In fact, when I buy it, it's feels like I'm getting a buy one get one free deal.  Lastly, it's a very versatile and a relatively lean piece of meat.

I hate the pork tenderloin, because I can't seem to cook the damn things right.  It's either overdone or too rare. 
(The too rare part is probably a result of our smoke detectors.  I can only sear it for a couple minutes before the alarm goes off.  I know for a fact smoke alarm in our apartment is overly sensitive.  Seriously, the siren will blow when banana bread is baking in the oven!)
No matter what method I try, it just doesn't seem to come out right.  However, I'm determined to master the pork tenderloin.  I have had the best results using this cooking method.  It's still not perfect, but showing signs of improvement.

Pork Tenderloin with White Balsamic Pears: (Serves 2)
Ingredients:
1 (1 pound) Pork Tenderloin
6 cloves Garlic, pealed and cut in half
2 Ripe Pears (cored and diced)
1 Tablespoon White Balsamic Vinegar
1 Tablespoon Dijon Mustard
1 1/4 cup White Wine
Salt & Pepper
Olive Oil

Method:
1) Preheat oven to 425F.
2) Make 1 inch slits all over the tenderloin and insert one halved garlic cloves into each slit.  Season with salt and pepper.
3) Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in a heavy-bottom skillet. 
4) Place the tenderloin in the hot pan.  Brown the pork on all sides (about 10 minutes).

5) Remove from heat and place in an oven-safe baking dish.  Pour 3/4 cup of white wine over the pork and place uncovered in the oven for 10-12 minutes or until the internal temperature is 155-160 degrees.
6) Leaving the pork skillet over medium-high heat, pour in the remaining 1/2 cup white wine.  De-glaze the pan by stirring until all the browned bits from the bottom are removed. 
7) Add pears, white balsamic vinegar and dijon mustard.  Saute until pears are tender and caramelized, about 5 minutes then remove from heat.
8) Remove the tenderloin from the oven, cover with foil and let rest for 10 minutes.  Remove the garlic cloves while carving.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Crock Pot Chicken & Dumplings

Wow, it's been a while since I've posted a recipe on here.  I have been cooking a lot lately, just too busy to take pictures and post the recipes.  However, this one is too easy and yummy not to share. 
Recipe serves 4

Ingredients:
  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 (10 oz.) can biscuits, torn into pieces
  • 3/4 cup low sodium chicken stock
  • Seasonings (salt, pepper, cumin, poulty seasoning, garlic powder)
  • Fresh parsley, chopped
Method:
  1. Please the chicken breasts, onions, butter, cream of chicken soup, chicken stock and seasonings in a crock pot.  Cover and cook on low for 5 hours.
  2. Season the biscuits with salt and pepper and place in the crock pot.  Turn the heat to high and cook for an additional 1.5-2 hours (until the "dumplings" are cooked through).
  3. Serve hot with fresh chopped parsley

Monday, March 1, 2010

What a Weekend

Kolaches, gambling and wedding invitations.  This past weekend was filled with a little bit of everything.  Friday afternoon, Kyle and I drove to El Campo to go gambling at Coushatta on Saturday and order our save-the-dates and wedding invitations on Sunday.  My friend, Tiffany, even came to EC to go with us on Saturday. 

Saturday morning I woke up earlier than any human should be awake (4:00 A.M.)  I had to get ready early enough to go get kolaches before we loaded the bus at 5:45.  Every time we go to EC, we get kolaches from Daylight Donuts.  I am addicted to them.  The dough is sweet and buttery and the ham to cheese ratio is perfect.  After our breakfast stop, we made our way to Wal-Mart for a day filled of bus riding, free drinks and money risking fun.   

I was a little skeptical about riding a bus all the way to Louisiana.  I think the 2.5 hour trip to EC is long enough.  Being seated for 5 hours straight was going to be a challenge.  Before I start describing the trip, I'll give you an overview of how it was supposed to be.  The bus we were riding was SUPPOSED to be a private bus, and it was SUPPOSED to leave Wal-Mart at 5:45.  There was another bus in front of us that other people from EC were riding on.  We were to make one stop in Rosenburg to pick up some more people to be seating in the other bus.  After that, it was full speed ahead to Coushatta.

Here's how the trip really went.  We didn't pull out of the parking lot until 6:00 A.M.  After making the 45 minute trip to Rosenburg, we discovered that the other bus was overbooked, so they seated the overflow of people on our bus.  That didn't exactly go over very well with some of the people from our group.  After all the confusion, we finally got back on the road and were headed for the casino.  I was taking a nice little nap when I realized we stopped AGAIN.  Once again, because of the other bus.  Gggrrrr!!!  It had to change drivers.  I had never been on one of the bus trips before, so I had no idea how everything worked.  If you ask me, they make the entire process way too complicated.

Finally, we made it to the casino.  Time to get some free drinks and watch other people lose their money.  I am not a gambler.  I don't think it's enjoyable to put my money in a machine or on a table and have someone take it.  I'm not hating on the people that are risk takers.  More power to ya.  There's a reason they say, "You can't win if you don't play."  That statement is totally true.  However, I rarely win, so I don't like to play  :(

My friend, Tiffany, is a risk taker.  She headed straight for the poker tables.  Kyle is the same way, but he plays the craps table.  We started by standing at a table and just watching people play.  I guess the waitress thought we were playing, because she kept bringing us drinks.....score!!!  After watching other people for a while and doing a google search, Kyle was ready to play.  He actually did pretty good.  He started to gain some money, but then he lost some too. Overall, I think we had a great time at the casino.  The bus ride home was another story.  The other bus that was in front of us starting have engine problems on the way home.  Of course, our bus had to stop and "help them".  By "help them", I mean park behind them and sit on the side of the road for half an hour.  After sitting and waiting, the bus drivers solution was to let 10 people from the other bus onto our bus, and then we could leave.  I mentioned earlier that our bus was SUPPOSED to be private.  Once we heard their "solution"......I'll just say that shit hit the fan.  I was sitting next to Tiffany, so Kyle was sitting by himself. A fowl smelling man tried to sit next to Kyle.  He turned around and looked at me with absolute terror in his eyes.  It was hilarious.  There was a cooler in the isle, so Kyle was trying to explain to the man that he had to move it. Luckly, there was a communication barrier between Kyle and Mr. Body Odor, so he moved to a different seat.  Crisis averted! 

The next morning, I went to get some more kolaches for breakfast.  Yeah, I think they are that good.  Before heading back to Austin, Kyle and I ordered our save-the-dates and wedding invitations from a girl I went to high school with.  I was super excited, because they cost much less than I had anticipated.  I can't wait to see them.  We should be mailing our save-the-dates at the end of the month, so look for them in the mail.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

White Wine & Garlic Mussels

Every year Kyle and I go out on a "Christmas Date".  It usually consists of Christmas shopping (mostly for ourselves), a movie or outdoor activity and a special dinner.  Since we've been pinching our pennies lately, I decided to have a date-night-in this year.  It was wonderful.  I made us a great meal and we didn't have to fight traffic or any crazy Christmas shoppers.

This recipe has to be one of my all time favorites.  Who doesn't love wine, butter and garlic.....all in the same dish? My favorite part is sopping up all of the rich delicious sauce with a nice piece of crusty bread.  This is definitely my kind of comfort food. 
NOTE: I would recommend buying the mussels at the very last minute.  They have to be stored in a cold, damp and airy environment.....or they'll die and you won't have anything to cook.  I bought mine in the morning, and some of them didn't make it to dinner time.

White Wine & Garlic Mussles (recipe from Ina Garten)

Ingredients:
  • 3 pounds mussels
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped shallots (5 to 7 shallots)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic (5 to 6 gloves)
  • 1/2 chopped canned plum tomatoes, drained (or you can just buy 1 plum tomato)
  • 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
  • 1/3 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 cup good white wine
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
Method:
  1. Clean the mussels!  Put them in a large bowl with the flour and 2 quarts of water and soak for 30 minutes.  Drain the mussels, then remove the "beard" with your fingers.  Scrub any mussels that look dirty and discard mussels whose shells aren't completely shut.  (To test if they are alive, give the mussels a little tap.  If they close right up, then they're still good.  If not, chunk 'em)
  2. In a large non-aluminum stockpot, heat the butter and olive oil over medium heat.  Add the shallots and cook for 5 minutes; then add the garlic and cook for an additional 3 minutes.
  3. Add the tomatoes, saffron, parsley, thyme, wine, salt and pepper and bring to a boil.
  4. Add the mussels, stir well, then cover and pot and cook over medium heat for 8 to 10 minutes (until all the mussles have opened).  Throw away any mussels that remain closed.
  5. With the lid on, shake the pot so the mussels on the bottom don't burn.  
  6. Pour the mussels and heavenly sauce into a large bowl and serve immediately.
Serve with a good crusty french bread to soak up all of the saucy goodness.  It's the best part!