Friday, October 29, 2010

Happy Friday and WooHoo to My 100th Post!!

Who knew I had enough to talk about for 100 posts?  Oh, I did and there is plenty more where that came from.
About a month ago, I posted about ASOS.com and how wonderful they are....blah, blah, blah.  I was so excited when I caught their dress sale and got my holiday party dress and a $19 black jersey maxi dress.  I waited, and waited, and waited.  Three weeks and no package.  So I emailed them and they told me to give it another 8 business days in case there was a hang up by the post office.  I unlocked my mailbox last night hoping and praying that a package would be waiting for me.  Nothing.  Ugh.  Not even the smell of my fresh blonde highlights could make it better (okay they do a little, my hairdresser is a magician and his shampoo smells like heaven).  So I emailed them again today and they said that they confirmed the package was lost by their postal carrier.  What!?  Where did it go?  To some magical place where lost packages end up?  They are going to refund my money but that doesn't get me this dress in black:

Against my better judgement, I decided to give them another chance since their clothes are so cute.  I still plan on wearing my hot pink wedding shoes, but am now pairing them with this dress.  Rawr!  Plus, I figured I can tone this dress down with black tights/boots and a denim jacket for daytime  I also saw the other day where they are putting thin turtlenecks under dresses like this and pairing them with opaque tights for day.  It looked really cute even though the thought of a turtleneck makes me claustrophobic.



















So, I will cross my fingers and hope that this makes it in time for my party.  It isn't until December 11th, but I need time to get a back up plan together in case it doesn't fit.
Hope you have a great Halloween weekend! 

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Whoa Baby

I keep reading in all my clean eating magazines, work out books, and fitness websites that chicken thighs are not the devil.  Yes, they may have more fat than chicken breasts, but they are loaded with protein and packed with flavor.  Last night I made Chicken Carne Adovada from EatingWell.com.  This was my first time to cook with dried chilies.  I'm surprised I still have my lips intact.  Those little suckers pack a mean punch.  I think I needed to crack them open and get ALL the seeds out since that is what usually holds the heat.  Maybe Christi from Rumination Avenue can lend me a little insight on that one.  I made the puree and poured out half in the bottom of the baking dish to test.  Holy cow it was hot and I like my food spicy. So, I dumped about a fourth or more of the mixture and added some pureed canned tomatoes to tone it down.  That seemed to do the trick.  I served it over some brown rice and black beans to help with the spice as well.  The avocados also helped to cool down the sauce.  I would definitely make this one again, just with a little more caution:
Chicken Carne Adovada

  • 4 ounces whole mild-to-medium-hot dried red New Mexican chiles (16-20 small to medium), stemmed and seeded
  • 2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth, divided
  • 1 1/4 cups chopped onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar or cider vinegar
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons dried oregano, preferably Mexican
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed and cut into 1-inch cubes (I left them whole since they aren't that big anyway and just drowned them in the sauce before braising)
  • PREPARATION

    1. Preheat oven to 300°F. Coat a large baking dish or Dutch oven with cooking spray.
    2. Rinse chiles; spread out on a baking sheet. Toast in the oven until darkened and fragrant, 2 to 4 minutes per side. Let cool, then break each chile into several pieces.
    3. Puree half the toasted chiles with 1 cup broth in a blender until only tiny pieces of chile are visible. Pour into the prepared baking dish. Puree the remaining chiles with the remaining 1 cup broth, onion, garlic, vinegar, oregano and salt until smooth. Pour into the baking dish and stir together with the rest of the sauce. Add chicken; stir to coat.
    4. Bake until the chicken is tender and the sauce is thick, about 1 1/2 hours.

    TIPS & NOTES

    • Make Ahead Tip: Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days.

    NUTRITION

    Per serving: 307 calories; 11 g fat (3 g sat, 4 g mono); 99 mg cholesterol; 13 g carbohydrates; 0 g added sugars; 34 g protein; 3 g fiber; 675 mg sodium; 374 mg potassium.
    Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin A (281% daily value), Zinc (19% dv).
    1 Carbohydrate Serving
    Exchanges: 2 vegetable, 4 lean meat

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

New Project!

After seeing pictures from the Bunco Night at my house, I realized I really need to get some drapes up in the living room.  I was also sparked to do something when one of Clay's friends asked if he lived there by himself because of how masculine our house is.  Umm, he's married and a his wife (a girl) does live there!  Did he not see my craft room?! However, I agree...we need to fem it up a bit in the main living areas.  Our house was new construction when we bought it so it is very tan.  Tan walls, tan tile, beige carpet, you get the point.  Our couch is even beige and dark brown.  I'm over the dark reds, golds, and browns scheme and wanted to bring in some lighter colors for the living room.  I did need something that was dark but had flecks of light since we aren't going to paint the walls anytime soon (12' ceilings makes that a little difficult).  So, I ordered this from Fabric.com for the drapes:
I know, I know, it is still pretty manly.  However, I am going to make big oversized velveteen pillows in that light blue for the couch and really play off that color.  The material should be here later this week.  I can't wait to see it in real life! 

I'll Play If It Kills Me

For Clay's birthday, (which was at the beginning of September) I bought us a stay at the Marriot Resort in Horseshoe Bay with a round of golf.  Clay got me into golf a couple of years ago and it is something we really enjoy doing together.  Plus, things have been really crazy lately and a night away would do wonders.  However, due to the craziness, we've had to postpone this trip over and over and over.  Finally, we went this weekend.  I started feeling achy and puny on Saturday but was bound and determined to go.  Clay and I got to the resort, shared a bottle of wine in the room, and went to dinner.  Neither of us finished our dinner and we went back to the room and fell asleep before 9!  Pretty hot, huh?  I felt horrible all night.  Waves of nausea kept waking me up along with body aches.  Clay kept asking me on Sunday morning if I wanted to pack it up and go home, but we finally had gotten to go and I didn't want to cut it short.  I don't know how I got through 18 holes without leaving some "fish food" in the ponds but I did.  The clouds broke and the sun came out.  It was a beautiful day on a beautiful course.  We'll definitely go back. 

Here's the big man lining up one of his awesome drives:
Clay took one video of me driving on this hole, but it was not pretty.  However, I did a redo and had a great shot right over the waterfall and landing just feet from the hole.  They call this their "million dollar hole," isn't it gorgeous?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Is Etsy Employing Magicians?

I was looking through Etsy last night and checking back on my homepage to peruse all my saved sellers and products and noticed a tab that I haven't checked before.  At the top is a tab with suggested shops.  Are they mind readers?!  I ended up saving about 90% of the suggested sellers as favorites.  That's the thing about Etsy, there are so many great vendors, but it is next to impossible to get through them all.  Here are some of my favs:
Love these cute pillows from DeDee Esty Shop:











This is one of my absolute favorite shops, Doloris Petunia.  She had the most outrageous cuffs and necklaces ever.  If I win the lotto one day, I'm cleaning her out! 
Her statement necklaces are just insane.  All you would need is a simple sheath dress or even white t-shirt a jeans (and a strong neck):

The ribbon sashes would be awesome to jazz up those bridesmaid dresses that we are always told, "you can totally wear this again."


The cuff bracelets...I have no words except AMAZING



And last, but not least.  Amanda Archer.  Her dresses really are bridesmaids dresses that can be worn again.



Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Dinner...FAIL

So, I thought I would try a nice comforting meal tonight of Red Beans with Andouille Sausage and Cornbread from one of my Martha Stewart Everyday Foods magazines. I soaked my beans for a whole day in preparation for tonight's dinner. I will have to admit, that I didn't expect the beans to taking so stinkin' long to cook. An hour and a half?! For dinner?!? I get home from the gym at 6:30ish, so we didn't eat until after 8 tonight. Usually, by then Clay would eat roadkill he's so hungry, but tonight the beans proved me wrong. Here is the recipe:

Red Beans and Andouille Sausage (image via martha stewart)
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 pound andouille sausage, halved lengthwise and cut into 1-inch pieces (I substituted lean turkey sausage for this) and I added diced up chicken from last night's leftovers
1 medium onion, diced small
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 bag (1 pound) dried, small red beans, soaked overnight and drained
Coarse salt and ground pepper

Directions
In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium. Add andouille; cook until fat is released and sausage is slightly golden in spots, 10 to 12 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a plate. Add onion and garlic to pan; cook until softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Add beans and 4 1/2 cups water; bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, partially cover, and cook until beans are tender, 1 to 1 1/2 hours, adding more water if necessary. Stir in andouille and heat through; season with salt and pepper.

Needless to say, you really have to watch the beans while they cook and add more water when necessary. They can burn...quickly. I really think if I had slow cooked them and not tried to to turbo cook them, it would have been MUCH better. Here is what the bottom of the pot looked like, I tried to just get everything from the top for our servings:



















And this is what it tasted like:

Friday, October 15, 2010

Happy Friday

I love it when singers really show off their true talent with an acoustical version of a great song.  To all those pop singers that sound horrible without auto tuners, sound people that work magic, and editing...this is how its done. I'm pretty much obsessed with this version. Hope you all have a great weekend!

Style Review

I know that some time ago I posted about my hate for jeggings.  Well, I have been officially converted into a jeggings lover.  The only reason I bought some about a month ago is because they were on sale at the New and Company Outlet for $15.  I figured I would make them work somehow.  I pulled them on this morning (no zippers) with my tunic and brown knee high boots and I must say, they are the most comfortable pants EVER.  Plus, they are not that bulky and fit into my boots with no problem.  These are a keeper.  Just sayin', sometimes you just have to give it a try before knocking it.

Now Those are Pancakes!

Check out some of these pancake creations that Jim makes for his three year old daughter, Allison.  I used to think my grandma was so talented when she made us bear shaped ones.  I don't really like the idea of adding food coloring to the batter, especially for kids, but I'm sure some of these colors could be acheived by adding blended berries to the mix.  Wow, I don't think he ever has a probably with her eating her breakfast.

Check out his Facebook page here or his own website here
p.s. could his daughter be any cuter?!






Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Pics from Last Night

As I said earlier, here are some tips for starting your own Bunco group.  You will need the following:

*12 ladies that are willing to host it at their home once a year and are fairly committed to coming each month.  I'd suggest mixing it up a bit and have a few of you invite different people that don't already know each other so that new friends are made.

*You will need 12 chairs and three tables (Hint, you can find card tables and chair sets for pretty cheap at Walmart if you are in need).

*A Bunco box with all the supplies (score cards, 6-9 dice, 3 bells, pencils, and table markers)  This will get passed on to the next person that hosts so that each person doesn't have to go out and buy all this stuff

*Everyone plays differently, so find a website with rules if you are new and go with that.  If you have someone that has already played, then it is easier to go with their way so that they can teach the group.  Rules can be found here.

*Bunco requires ZERO skill.  It is a social event.  The wine tends to flow, so make you stock up.  You may even want to start with everyone bringing a bottle or maybe doing a signature cocktail for the night to keep the expense down.  

*Have a buy in, but keep it small.  If you have everyone throw in $5 to play, that gives you $60 to divvy up for prizes.  Now that is some cheap entertainment!  

Here are a couple of pictures from last night.  Of course, I'm not in any of them since Clay bolted as soon as the first group of girls arrived!  I think it was beginning to be estrogen overload in a hurry.

This was Table 3 (aka, the losers table).  I thought it was too far away from the other two tables, but I guess that would give you incentive to win!  Hmm, now that I see my breakfast area in a picture, I definitely need to figure out something to on that window!  How plain.  And I hate to admit it but Clay was right, it needs a rug.

I don't think the wine decanter stayed full much...

This was Table 1 (aka, the Winners table)  Tressa (the one on the far left) and her partner Rachel Z (the brunette on the far right) dominated and planted themselves for quite some time at the winner's spot.

This was Table 2, almost winning, but not quite to Table 1.  I will suggest using a tablecloth on all three tables.  Our dining room table and breakfast table had the dice flying on that smooth wood.

Oh weird, Tressa and Rachel are still at Table 1.  Geez.  Tressa, Paige (in the glasses on the right), and I were inseparable in high school.  It is so great for us to have such a fun reason to get together and catch up.

Umm, Montana was a little upset to hear that the game was over.  I'm telling you, we are hooked!

From One Wino to Another

Bunco was awesome last night.  There were only about two squares of the lasagna left (which Clay promptly polished off when he got home) and a scoop of cobbler left at the end of the night.  No wine in sight except for the white that was chilling in the fridge.  Clay was smart, he hid his bottle of merlot.  Lord knows it would have been gone if he hadn't!  I'll post pictures this evening as well as instructions to set up your own group.

After spending time with fellow winos last night, I saw these today on the Hottess with the Mostest blog and thought these would be quite appropriate for pretty much anyone in our group:



The one in the middle below is my favorite.  Friends of mine give me a hard time that I refer to liquor stores as the wine store.  That's only section I'm really interested in when I go!

These hand crafted, letterpressed tags come from Popptags.  Who doesn't love a little smart a*s humor?

Monday, October 11, 2010

Who Cut the Cheese?

I love cheese.  I mean I LOVE IT.   I love all kinds, colors, smells, and tastes.  So, I was elated to hear on the radio that Central Market is having a Hail to the Cheese event starting on Wednesday and will run until the 26th.  They will have about 500 cheeses during this event for customers to sample.  There will also be local cheese makers on hand to talk to and answer questions.  I can't wait.  Clay loves bufala mozzarella more than anything and I'm sure there will plenty on hand (its really hard find around here!).  So, if you are lucky enough to live near Central Market, it sounds like this will be worth a trip. 

So Sad I Didn't See This Earlier!

A few friends and I decided to start a Bunco group.  If you aren't sure what Bunco is, then a simple explanation would be a reason for 12 ladies to get to together each month, drink wine, and play a really mindless dice game.  It is so much fun.  Anyway, I was trying to think of what I was going to make for dinner at our first game tonight.  I saw a fun recipe for stuffing a whole pumpkin with stuffing and baking it.  Once it is baked, then you have a baked pumpkin for a pretty display as well as cutting it up and having it on the side.  However, my mom and brother thought that the idea of lasagna would be more appealing to the masses.  So, I put one together this morning and will pop it in the oven once I get home.  I'm making a caprese salad and serving roasted squash on the side.  I think it will turn out okay.  Nothing to fancy, but that way I can focus on enjoying the company and not worrying about what's up in the kitchen. However, if my mom had sent this to me yesterday, I totally would have tried to pull it off for the dessert!

Pumpkin Spice Creme Brulee (from Better Homes and Gardens)
Umm, how stinkin' cute are these?!












Ingredients
2 cups whipping cream (no substitutes)
3 egg yolks, lightly beaten
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup canned pumpkin
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
10 baby pumpkins*
1/4 cup sugar
 
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a small saucepan, heat whipping cream over medium heat just until bubbly. Remove from heat; set aside.
2. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine egg yolks, eggs, the 1/2 cup sugar, pumpkin, cinnamon, ginger, salt, and cloves. Beat with a whisk or rotary beater just until combined. Slowly whisk the hot whipping cream into the egg mixture.
3. Use a small serrated knife to cut off the top 1/2-inch of the baby pumpkins. Discard the tops. Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds.

4. Place the pumpkins in a roasting pan. Divide custard mixture evenly among the pumpkins. Place roasting pan on oven rack. Pour enough boiling water into the roasting pan to reach halfway up the sides of the pumpkins.
5. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until centers appear nearly set when gently shaken. Carefully remove pan from oven. Remove pumpkins from water; cool on a wire rack. Cover and chill for at least 1 hour or up to 8 hours.

6. Before serving, let custards stand at room temperature for 20 minutes. **Meanwhile, for caramelized sugar: in a heavy 8-inch skillet, heat the 1/4 cup sugar over medium-high heat until sugar begins to melt, shaking skillet occasionally to heat sugar evenly. Do not stir. Once sugar starts to melt, reduce heat to low; cook 3 to 5 minutes more or until all of the sugar is melted and golden brown, stirring as needed with a wooden spoon.
7. Quickly drizzle caramelized sugar over the custards. (If sugar starts to harden in the skillet, return to heat, stirring until melted.) Serve immediately. Makes 10 filled pumpkins or 6 custard cups.
* Instead of the pumpkins, you can use six 3/4-cup souffle dishes or 6-ounce custard cups. Place the souffle dishes or custard cups in a 13x9x2-inch baking pan.

**Culinary Torch Method: Instead of caramelizing the sugar in the skillet as directed in steps 6 and 7, sprinkle sugar evenly over custards. Use a culinary torch to caramelize the sugar.
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 10 filled pumpkins or 6 custard cups Calories412, Total Fat (g)34, Saturated Fat (g)20, Cholesterol (mg)287, Sodium (mg)57, Carbohydrate (g)23, Fiber (g)1, Protein (g)5, Vitamin C (DV%)3, Calcium (DV%)8, Iron (DV%)6, Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Magic that is Anthropologie

Many of you are familiar with Anthropologie.  I've loved it for years.  However, I've never been in one of their stores.  They've had one in downtown Austin for quite awhile, but I guess I just never made the effort to go in.  They now have one open in The Domain (our somewhat new high end, open air shopping center) in north Austin.  Clay and I were walking around yesterday because the weather was so nice and I noticed that it had finally opened.  Talk about sensory overload!  I kept seeing things and thinking, oooh I love that, and that, oh and that....you get the point.  The colors are so saturated and bright and there are little trinkets and treasures tucked in every possible inch of the store.  It was pretty busy in there yesterday so I'll have to go back on an off day and just browse.  Here are a few of my favs I spotted:
Aren't these colors to die for?!


























Friday, October 8, 2010

Our New Hangout

Clay and I love to be outside.  At the old house, Clay had installed outdoor speakers and we loved nothing more than to hang out on the patio, listen to some jazz, and enjoy a glass of wine.  So, he has been on a mission to find new patio furniture to fit our very narrow but long patio.  He looked high and low, scoured Craigslist, and went all over the place around here to see if anything would fit.  On a whim, we went to Pier One the other night.  We found two chairs and a cushioned ottoman that fit perfectly.  Ruby has already decided that the ottoman is her spot, especially when we are out there (because she likes to try to steal sips of wine).  Clay also put speakers outside on this patio and with the addition of a ceiling fan, it is pretty relaxing.  Now while dinner is in the oven, we go and enjoy a little wine and unwind before we eat.  I love it.