Sunday, September 27, 2009's a Texas thing.

Hi. Remember me? I'm Terri. I blog. Well, not so much lately. Sorry about that. I needed to vanish for a week or so and it lasted longer than I intended. But I'm back now. =) I'll pretend that the 3 of you who read this blog are now rejoicing and glad to see me.

Not long ago I made a meal that I'd love to repeat every night. I grew up a bit of meat and potatoes girl. I know that it's not the BEST thing for me to eat all the time, but I love it. It's my dad's fault. He loved a meal that included meat and potatoes and my mother, being a great cook and happy to make him happy, obliged him often enough that I became an addict. So, I'm always wanting a good meat and potatoes meal. Steak and garlic mashed potatoes. Chicken and garlic mashed potatoes. Pork chops and garlic mashed potatoes. Variety. =)

Last month Staci and I bought 55 pounds of meat from Paidom Meats and split it. (Paidom farms in an ecologically accountable manner - to find out what that means - check out their site). In my order I included flat iron steaks. I'd never had them, but was intrigued and had to give them a try. The first day of school seemed like a meat and potatoes kind of night, plus it was hot and the thought of food on the grill and not in my oven was very, very appealing!

So I gave the steaks a heavy dose of freshly coarse ground sea salt and pepper and tossed them on the grill- maybe 5 minutes on each side. I'm a medium rare kind of girl. I like my steak to moo back at me....

While the steaks were sizzling and getting happy I whipped up some chimichurri sauce (recipe at the end of this post). All steaks deserve the chance to be introduced to chimichurri. It's a little party on your plate!

I'd already cooked up some red potatoes and creamed spinach as sides....creamed spinach - can you say that without wanting to eat right now??? My favorite spinach is Spinach Madeline, which is just a kicked up version of creamed spinach, but I didn't have all the stuff for that, so regular creamed spinach it was. Yum. Notice that I made a vat of it for me and 2 others who likely wouldn't eat the spinach. So, I really made a vat of it for myself. This is why my jeans are snug....I couldn't just WASTE the creamed spinach!!! That would be irresponsible.

This was obviously not a meal for those who are watching what they're eating. This was a meal for those who were wanting substantial food and were HUNGRY!!! The result?

The flat iron steaks were gooooooood! I'll definitely be ordering more of those. The chimichurri was mighty fine as well and really was a party on the plate. Another great meal at my house! I have to say it was made better only by my dining companions that night....cutie patooties.

  • Chimichurri Sauce
  • Yield : 1 1/2 cups

  • 2 cups coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (about 2 bunches)
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped onion
  • 2/3 cup coarsely chopped carrot
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped garlic
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth
  • 1/3 cup white vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

  • Combine first 4 ingredients in a food processor; pulse until mixture is finely chopped.

    Combine the broth and remaining ingredients. With processor on, slowly pour broth mixture through food chute; process until well blended.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

If you eat soup...fall will come!

Well, maybe not, but that's the premise under which I'm operating for now!!! The last two days have actually been below 90 degrees here and that's pretty cool for us for September. I keep thinking that it's Mother Nature teasing us and we'll be blasted by 100's any day now, but I'm hopeful that doesn't happen and that we're now in the steady decline of temps that lead us into a fall-like feeling!

I had some frozen fresh corn calling my name from the freezer as well as some crabmeat that I needed to use up and I remembered this afternoon a recipe that Joe over at Culinary in the Country had made a while back. I had attempted to make it one evening only to find that I didn't have the baking potatoes that I needed. Tonight, I was in luck! I had everything I needed to make this soup with a small alteration.

Joe's original version called for shrimp, but I had crabmeat and I wanted to eat it. It's been calling my name from the fridge for about 4 days now and I hadn't made it into crabcakes yet, so the soup was a perfect use! This was a pretty quick and easy meal. I think it might have taken me about 30 minutes from start to finish! The soup was filling and substantial and really tasty! My only wish was that I would have had some crusty bread on hand to scoop up the bottom of the bowl when I was done!

Corn-and-Shrimp Chowder with Bacon
(Adapted from Everyday Food)
(And stolen from Joe's Blog)

6 ears corn
4 slices bacon, sliced into 1/2" strips
6 to 8 scallions, white and green parts separated and thinly sliced
2 medium baking potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2" cubes
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 cups milk
2 cups vegetable broth
1 teaspoon Cajun or seafood seasoning
1/2 teaspoon chopped dried thyme
16 ounces large peeled and deveined shrimp (I used lump crabmeat)
salt and fresh ground black pepper

Husk and remove silk from the corn cobs. Slice kernels off each cob. Scrape each cob down with a spoon to release any pulp left on the cob.

In a large saucepan, add bacon and cook over medium-high until browned and crisp, about 6 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer bacon (leaving drippings behind) to a paper tower-lined plate to drain.

Stir scallion whites and potatoes into the pan - cook, stirring, until the scallions have softened, about 2 minutes. Add flour - cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Gradually stir in milk, vegetable broth, Cajun (or seafood) seasoning and thyme. Bring mixture to a boil - reduce heat to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are tender, about 10 to 12 minutes. Stir in corn kernels and pulp - cook, stirring, for 1 to 2 minutes. Add shrimp and scallion greens - cook until shrimp are just opaque, about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and season chowder with salt and fresh ground black pepper.

Serve each portion topped with crisped bacon.

Makes about 4 servings.


The Joys of Ramona

The weeone has lost her ever-loving mind. She has. She's seven, thinks she knows best and OBVIOUSLY doesn't. Why, you ask? She is rejecting one of my all-time favorite book characters. She's proclaimed her as "uncool" and "not fun". Whatever. What do you're 7 and haven't even begun to discover the joys of Ramona, the things she does and says, not to mention all the other Beverly Cleary books. And for the record, you little worm, you're just like her.....trouble, all around. Is that the problem? Did we hit a bit too close to home?

How can you possibly not be interested in a book where Ramona eats one bite of an apple, tosses it aside and then does the same to another? If that's not good enough, when she confesses to her mother that she was bad....they end up making APPLESAUCE!!! Hello? Best. mother.ever.written. Who wouldn't want to read about a mom like that????

What's next? Will she proclaim Judy Blume to be lame? If so, she needs to find a new home because that's just sacrilege in this house. Heavens. Whatever am I raising here?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The stores that call my name...

Target. Yep, the mom store. Who doesn't love Target? Can you leave Target without spending
at least $100??? If so, can you teach me how? I can't do it. I go in that place to buy shampoo and I leave with shampoo and a new dress for me and shorts for the weeone and workout dvd I'll never use and Starbucks drink. It's true and it's an illness. Is there a 12 step program for Target?

The Container Store. I am convinced that if I JUST have the RIGHT containers my life will run smoothly. And so, I seek those magical containers at every opportunity. Again, an illness...but one I know I share with others. Is it wrong that I take comfort in that?

Sur La Table. If you read this blog then you know I love to cook. And one of the things I love the most about cooking is the "stuff". The mashers and pots and pans and peelers and doodads and things that I didn't know I needed and then I walked into Sur La Table and their very knowledgeable staff corrected my ways by making me understand how earth-shatteringly important is was that I own THIS vegetable peeler...not the one I've used for 10 years! Oh, SLT, how I love you. One of these days I'm going to take the Knife Skills class at Sur La Table so I won't be afraid of the beautiful and sharp knives that I found there that I!!!

DSW. There was a time, before the whole saga-of-the-foot when I was known for my very cute and sassy shoes. I long for that day again and hope that with the power of physical therapy and pain, I will someday be able to wear a 4 inch killer stiletto for an entire work day. For now, I have been shoved over into the flat shoe section, but DSW doesn't let me down. They still have adorable shoes for me....I wonder if their bottom line has felt the pain of my decrease in shoe shopping since my surgery?

Central Market. If you live near one you should RUN - do.not.walk- and visit it NOW!!! This is the produce lovers dream store. It's not your run of the mill grocery store and don't expect to be able to find oreos or diet coke (although rumors are that's changing), but if you need a particular variety of japanese eggplant and you'd like that to be organic...CM's your place. Not to mention that there's a very cute butcher behind the meat counter....I think he's there on Tuesdays and Saturdays...but I swear I'm not stalking him. =)

And then there's Spec's. You guys heard a lot about Spec's during my 30 Days of Beverages in August. It's the liquor store of all liquor stores. The best one is the one downtown (which I affectionately refer to as "the mothership"). They have a great deli, so I like to go hungry and have lunch there, too. I think what I love the most about this place is the staff - incredibly nice, incredibly knowledgeable and willing to help someone looking for a $10 bottle of red as readily as someone looking for a case of $200/ bottle red. Gotta love it.

Penzey's. Spice Central. Penzey's is an odd one. Why, you ask? Because at Penzey's I find that I can get a better quality thing for less money. Seems like a very odd concept in this world. If you like to cook, like I do, then you could probably spend an hour at Penzey's despite it being a smallish store. You could probably start to find ways to use a spice you've never heard of just because it smells sooooo good (they have smelling jars of everything!). And the weeone loves it here too - she loves the smells, but mostly she loves the coloring table by the checkout!

There are a lot of great stores in Houston that I love, but these are my stomping grounds, the places you might run into me on any given day. They're the short list of stops I might make to pick up "what I need for dinner" or what "the weeone needs for school" or "what I have a craving for" on any given day. What stores call your name?

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Come on Baby....Let's do the Twist! Vacation, Part 2

Our trip to MD/PA in August was a week spent with my brother and his family, part of the time on their boat in Baltimore and part of the time at their home in Lancaster, Pa. I told you about the first days a few days ago in Vacation's all I ever wanted...we'll here's part 2!

If you know me or the weeone, you know that we could eat our weight in pretzels. They could be soft pretzels, hard pretzels, big pretzels, little preztels. We don't care, we'll take 'em however we can get 'em. My sister-in-law, Colleen, is pretty much the same way. The difference is that she gets to eat amazingly good pretzels made right in her backyard. Well, not IN the backyard, but pretty close. How cool would it be to have a pretzel factory in my backyard. I need to look into that!

Anyway...Colleen had suggested a trip to Sturgis Pretzel one day. It's the oldest pretzel factory on the east coast and you can do a tour and twist your own pretzel. The weeone thought that sounded like a blast, especially since you got to eat pretzels at the end of it all!

Have you ever twisted a pretzel? It's a pretty neat process. You start with a van full of silly children....wait, no, that's not pretzel twisting, that's something else!

You roll out your dough into a uniform straight line -

Next, you form a U -

Cross the ends at the top -

Twist it again -

And bring the twist down to meet the bottom of the U ( did you know that the three openings inside a pretzel are representative of the Holy Trinity? I never knew that! ) and Voila! Pretzel.

The kids and Colleen think I have a future as a pretzel twister. Of course, no one hires pretzel twisters anymore since it's all done by machine.

The kids enjoyed seeing the inside of the ovens and the boys contemplated tossing the weeone in there....silly boys!

When we left Sturgis, we went to Wilbur Chocolates where we all procured some sweet treats to help us regain our strength after all that pretzel twisting! =) It takes a lot of you, you know!

Finally, we capped off our day with a night at the Lancaster Barnstormers game. The weeone and I are big baseball fans and since we don't sit close when we're at a Houston Astros game, this was a real treat. What is it about minor league baseball that is just so much darn fun????

Clipper Magazine Stadium - Home to the Lancaster Barnstormers -

The weeone inherited this ballcap that had been Collin's, then Andrew's....she was proud!

Uncle Doug bought her a meal in a bucket -

Collin was practicing his photography skills with this shot of Andrew and me-

Then the weeone got her hands on my camera for a few action shots behind home plate -

Uncle Doug and the weeone leaving the ballfield....two peas in a pod.

Monday, September 7, 2009


I know, it's not Thanksgiving .... that would have been Gobble, Gobble! But today is a holiday. Labor Day. I'll take whatever holiday they want to throw at me as long as I get to have a 3 day weekend! What is it about a day off that doesn't burn your vacation time that is sooooo satisfying? I've spent this holiday weekend watching the Astros, having dinner with friends at a great restaurant, have drinks with friends on my back deck and cooking with Staci. It's been a great weekend.

Today I'm going to be making one of the recipes that Staci and I made on Saturday. It was so tasty that I'd like to have it again this weekend....Individual Raspberry Cobblers. These were sweet and tart and had this wonderful ooey gooey carmelized cruchiness that I'm craving all over again. I can't help it. I love a good dessert that includes fruit.

I had to go buy some self-rising flour. I didn't have any and neither did Staci - but now that I've discovered that I can turn it into these treats, I'll be keeping some on hand!

To the flour we added some sugar, and milk....

Then it needed some vanilla - we used this bottle that Staci's had brewing for a while now. You should make your own vanilla extract, too. Grab a bottle of vodka - it doesn't have to be a fancy kind - and add some vanilla beans that you've sliced open from one end to the other. Shake the bottle every now and then, but let it sit at least a month to brew before you start using it. Then every now and then when the liquid gets low, add some more vodka and when you need to, add some more beans. Voila - homemade vanilla extract!

Once you have all the ingrdients mixed you add the batter in 1/4 cups to a greased muffin pan, top with a few raspberries (we used 3 per cobbler) and popped them into the oven. Now, you bake these for 45 minutes and if you're like me you'll get a bit nervous at the 20-25 minute mark thinking that they're browning too quickly and too much and will certainly burn. LEAVE THEM IN THE OVEN!!!! Trust'll be glad you did.

When you take them out, they'll be brown and crispy...that's a gooooood sign. =) Invert the pan and sprinkle them with some granulated sugar and serve them warm, with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream. Yum. yum. yum. these are sooooooooo good!

Individual Raspberry Cobblers
Makes 24 cobblers

2 cups self-rising flour (must use self-rising)
2 cups sugar
2 cups milk
2 sticks (1 cup) butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups fresh raspberries
Extra sugar for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Combine flour with sugar, then whisk in milk. Whisk in melted butter and vanilla.
Pour 1/4 cup batter into greased muffin tins. Sprinkle a few raspberries on top.
Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until golden brown and crisp around the edges.
Invert onto a cooling rack and serve warm with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

So, I think I'm going to make some of these today...despite my broken kitchen sink.

Happy Labor Day!
(Did you know it's a holiday that we stole from Canada? It's true. Thanks Canada, for the day off!)

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Cookin' Mamas!

Yesterday afternoon, Staci invited me over to do a little cooking. She had wanted to make the jalapeno poppers that the Pioneer Woman made back at the 4th of July. That evolved into a cooking spree of appetiers and dessert that would take the place of dinner. So Staci sent her 3 monkeys off with their Oma and Opa to watch the Shark Imax at the museum and she and I set our minds to cooking.

Well, maybe we didn't start cooking right away. We were both still hurting a little from a bit too much wine with the girls on my back deck the night before, so we plopped onto her sofas for about 30 minutes or so and watched some Real Housewives of Atlanta. Oh my goodness. If you are ever feeling as if your life is a soap opera, spend about 15 minutes watching these chicks and you'll be convinced that you are the most boring person on earth!!! Thirty minutes was about all we could take, so we got our big booties up off the couch and hit the kitchen.

The Jalapeno Poppers were the main event and came first.....

They were cut in half and then deseeded and deveined.

I know I should wear gloves, but I don't - I don't ever touch the seeds or veins. I have this Pampered Chef tool that is meant for hulling strawberries, but it's perfect for cleaning out jalapenos!

Staci filled them with cream cheese and we both wrapped the little buggers in bacon...

I speared them and they were primed and ready for a hot oven!

Yumminess! The bacon crisped up really well and cream cheese melted into heavenliness. This recipe could be played with a lot too! Staci suggested putting diced dried apricots into the cream cheese. I think that adding diced shrimp or crabmeat would be divine. Definitely a keeper!

The funniest part about the whole jalapeno popper making was that this was the recipe that Staci really wanted to make and when they came out of the oven she announces that she doesn't really like CREAM CHEESE! Okay crazy friend, what were you thinking?

Next up....zucchini cakes, individual raspeberry cobblers and stuffed zucchini was all good!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Vacation's all I ever wanted...part 1

...cue music.

A few weeks ago the weeone and I hopped an early morning flight to BWI in Baltimore. We were headed to spend some time with my brother and his family. Our week was a perfect blend of go, go, go and no, no, no. It was great. We split our time between Me & Mrs. Jones, Doug and Colleen's big boat at the Baltimore Yacht Club, and their house in Lancaster, PA. Here's just a taste of our fantastic week -

I never actually photographed the big boat (Doug has 2 - a big one and a little one). This is the kind of boat you can hang out for a while on - 3 staterooms, 2 heads, galley, washer and dryer. It's a vacation home that floats.

My sister-in-law, Colleen, introduced me to this great cocktail while I was there. You can read about this drink in my Boat Drinks post from last month. I love it!

Here's the Captain, my brother, Doug, relaxing and watching a little golf while the kids were running up and down the docks, playing or swimming up on the hill.

The first day we were there Doug's little boat was having some work done, but Colleen's good friend, Sue, was more than happy to take me, the weeone and my 2 nephews out to do a little tubing. Although the weeone's tubed before, she didn't remember doing it, so to her - it's was a first! She had a blast -

Andrew talked his "Aunt Sue" into letting him bring the boat in. He has his boating license, but hasn't really docked a boat (even a little one) and sent up spinning in circles in an empty slip...but Sue to the rescue and all was well.

Although the weeone loves both of her cousins, she has a special affinity for Collin. They've always gotten along well and for a 14 year old that is starting high school he had AMAZING patience all week for his 7 year cousin. Andrew, on the other hand, had just had a dose of the weeone when he'd been to Houston and was more than willing to let his big brother take the reins!

Ever wonder what happens when a man who has only raised boys tries to brush a 7 year old girl's hair? Chaos...that's what happens!

Day 2 on the boat my brother took us for a good little run to Rockhall, MD to have lunch at Waterman's. It's a great little bar/restaurant known for beer, crabs, and Harleys apparently....lots of motorcycles around.

Uncle Doug at the helm.

The weeone and Aunt Coco were chilling up on the bridge enjoying the view and the breeze!!!

Oh sweet Andrew. A 30 year old sense of humor trapped in a 11 year old body - gotta love him! He was getting ready to help tie up the boat as we pulled into Waterman's.

That's about all the photo loading that I can handle, so I'll save the rest of the trip for another day. There's a parrot and chocolate and more tubing and pretzels and golf and all sorts of fun stuff still left.....I know you're waiting on pins and needles for the next installmant! =)