Saturday, November 19, 2011


    Last night I was able to do something I've been dreaming about since I was a little girl.  I got to go to a Reba concert!  She has been my number one favorite country artist for as long as I can remember.  I have every season of her show (thanks to my wonderful older sister), and I know just about every one of her songs verbatim, so last night was a blast.  She did not disappoint.  Singing all of my favorites from "The Nights the Lights Went out in Georgia" to "On the Radio", and of course closing with "Fancy" she covered everything I was there to see, and she did it in Reba style :-)  And just as it should be, I left with a little less hearing and a lot less voice.
    Not only was Reba amazing, her opening acts were darn good too.  First on was Eden's Edge.  They're big hit right now is "Amen", and I'm thinking of putting their cd on my Christmas list this year after hearing it in person.  Next to perform was Steel Magnolia, and that girl has some lungs on her!  She was joined by James Otto about halfway through her set.  He wrote "Seen it in Color" and performed it last night along with "Just got Started Lovin' You".  Then came The Band Perry, and they were phenomenal.  I was up dancing at that point.  Their lead singer, Kimberly Perry, looked like she'd be a bunch of fun to hang out with for a night.  During Reba's set, she came out as the other half of the duet, "Does He Love You", and that was pretty cool.

Eden's Edge

My wonderful husband and I.

Steel Magnolia

Steel Magnolia and James Otto

The Band Perry

The Queen of Country herself.

Reba and Kimberly Perry singing "Does He Love You"

   All-in-all the night was a blast, and it will be a memory I will keep for a long time.  I was glad to be able to share the fun with my wonderful husband.  And although we all know he's an uncoordinated white boy, he got up and danced with me for a little bit too.  So I guess it's time to switch gears to another favorite famous lady: Paula Deen.

    As promised, I've been cooking my way through her Southern Cooking Bible, and I have two recipes I want to share.  Both were good, and I have requests to make each again.  The first is a taco salad.  Simple enough, right?  Well, I've never made one, but I'm sure glad I did.  Here's what you need:

Taco Salad

1 lb ground beef
1 packet taco seasoning
1 head iceberg lettuce
2 cups (8 oz) sharp cheddar cheese
2 plum tomatoes
1 Hass avocado, pitted, peeled, and chopped
4 scallions, chopped
2 cups crumbled tortilla chips
1/3 cup salsa
1/3 cup sour cream
2 TBSP fresh lime juice

Heat large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add beef and cook, breaking it up with a fork, until browned, about 5-7 minutes.  Stir in taco seasoning and 1/3 cup of water; simmer until the liquid is just about gone, 3-5 minutes.  In a large salad bowl, combine the beef, lettuce, 1 1/2 cups of the cheddar, tomatoes, avocado, and scallions.  Toss in 1 1/2 cups of the crumbled tortilla chips.  In a small bowl, whisk together the salsa, sour cream, and lime juice.  Pour over the salad and toss to combine.  Sprinkle the top with the remaining 1/2 cup cheddar and 1/2 cup crumbled tortilla chips and serve.

*I couldn't find scallions, so I substituted green onions.  Also there's a note after this recipe in her book that says this salad is good cold or hot.  I disagree.  I had the leftovers cold for lunch the next day and it was NOT as good, but when it was hot, it was wonderful!*

      Thursday night I made Paula's Pasta with Creamy Primavera Sauce.  This was another scrum-diddly-yumpicious meal that I will be making again.

Here's what you need:

1 small head broccoli, 1/2 pound, cut into bite-sized florets
1 medium carrot, thinly sliced
1 medium zucchini, quartered lengthwise, and thinly sliced crosswise
1/3 cup frozen peas
1 lb penne pasta
1 TBSP olive oil
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
3/4 cup halved cherry tomatoes
3/4 cup heavy cream
2 oz cream cheese, cut into bits
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (about 3 oz)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 black pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil .  Have a bowl of ice water at the ready.   Add the broccoli and carrot to the boiling water and cook until crisp tender, about 2 minutes.  Transfer vegetables with a slotted spoon to the ice water.  Add the zucchini and peas to the boiling water and cook about one minutes before transferring to the ice water.  Drain the vegetables and transfer to a serving bowl.  Bring the vegetable cooking water back to a boil.  Cook the penne pasta according to the package directions; drain well.  Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat.  Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 15 seconds.  Add the tomatoes, and cook until just soft, 1-2 minutes.  Scrape the garlic and tomatoes into the bowl of the vegetables.  Return the skillet to the heat.  Add the cream and bring to a simmer.  Whisk in the cream cheese until smooth.  Whisk in 1/2 cup of parmesan, the salt, and the black pepper.  Add the pasta to the bowl of vegetables.  Pour the hot cream sauce over the mixture.  Stir in the basil and the remaining 1/4 cup parmesan and toss well.  Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary.

  Well I think that's enough for one night.  I've got to go help my hubby whip this house into shape before we leave Tuesday morning for Disney :-D

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

I'm NOT ready for a big-girl bed!

     Like most of you out there, lately I've been trying to come up with a few ways to earn a little bit of extra cash, and I think I've finally come up with a solution.  I started making bows for Ryleigh a while back, but I wasn't very good at all, but with a bit of practice I think I've gotten a bit better.  I'm seriously considering selling these bows for about $5.00 each.  So if you think that's a good idea or if you'd like to buy one (or two or three or four) leave me a comment and let me know.  Here are a few of the ones I've made so far:





Christmas Tree

   Each bow will vary slightly simply because they're homemade.

   Last night, J was sweet enough to bathe the Monkey and get her ready for bed while I worked away on these bows.  Just as I'm attempting to get Tiana's hair just right, Monkey comes running in, calling "Mommy, Daddy need you to make my bed."  Puzzled I respond with, "Daddy knows how to make your bed, baby."   Again she says, "Mommy, Daddy needs you to make my bed."  Now I'm getting frustrated b/c Tiana's head is looking a little lopsided, the overhead light is flickering, causing a strain on my eyes, and Monkey is jumping up and down on my foot insisting that I make her bed.  That's when J pokes his head in and explains that he needs me to show him how to transform her crib into the toddler day bed.

   Instantly I went on the attack.

   "What do you mean 'transform her bed'?  She doesn't like the day bed.  She likes the crib!"

    J: "She asked if she could sleep in a big-girl bed."

    Me:  "Did she really or did you put her up to it?"

    J:  "No; I suggested it, and now she wants to give it a try.  How do I transform it?"

    Me:  "You don't!  She won't sleep in it like that!  I've tried it before, and she doesn't like it.  She's my baby, and babies sleep in cribs."

   Yes, in retrospect I do realize how pathetic my defenses were, and they were probably less effective due to the squeaky voice with which they were delivered.

    J: "Fine!  I'll just figure it out myself."

    Me: "Fine, she won't sleep in it anyway.  She'll be crying in about 15 minutes and getting out the bed and coming to find us."

    J: *shrugs* "That's fine.  Let's just try it and see."

    I know what y'all are thinking, why is she getting so worked up over a toddler bed?  I guess it's just because this is the last baby thing Ryleigh still does.  She's potty trained, she walks around the mall instead of sitting in a stroller, and she doesn't nap or want me to rock her to sleep, so the crib was my last sign that she is, in fact, still my baby.  I know she'll always be my baby, but I just wasn't prepared for that, and J sort of hit me with it out of left field.  And then he got the smug satisfaction of watching Monkey pass out after five minutes with no problems whatsoever! 

   So this is where it starts!  She's growing up, and I can't stop her.  So here's to midnight wake up calls from a little person standing by my bed saying, "Mommy, can I sleep with you?".   Here's to intimate moments requiring a locked door.  Here's to not being able to roll over an pretend I don't hear her when she wakes up at 5:00 in the morning!  I thought walking was bad, but now she's being let loose at night!  I don't think I'm handling this well at all. *sigh*    Sometimes this whole parenting thing sucks!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

New Do

     Good morning all!  I don't know if it's the chilly weather, my awesome new hair do, or the fact that I've somehow managed to be awake before the gremlins that live in my house and now I have some me time, but whatever the cause, I'm feeling extra chipper this morning.  :-)

    Yesterday I went to Tracy Perry Hair Salon here in Gulfport, and the hairdresser there (Amanda) helped me achieve something I've really wanted to try for a long time: purple highlights!   I think she did an amazing job, and she was super sweet.  I enjoyed that salon immensely, and I will be returning.  If you're in this area, I definitely recommend it.  Of course, I have to share a picture:

Now my hair matches my favorite shirt ;-)
     Aside from new hair, I've also tried a few new recipes.  Using Paula's instructions, I've finally mastered the are of an omelet.  I actually got it right in the first try, which left me wondering why I was so intimidated by that in the first place.  I also tried her "Cure-All Chicken and Rice Soup".  It was yummy, but I didn't enjoy it as much as I did her Chicken Noodle Soup.  I think I'm still programed from those early years when my father wouldn't let us get up from the table until we ate everything on our plate.  "Waste not, want not", right?  Well something about seeing all the onion and celery get thrown out like that just makes me cringe slightly.  I'll share the recipe anyway and let you form your own opinion though.

Paula Deen's Cure-All Chicken and Rice Soup

1 whole chicken (3 1/2 lbs), rinsed, patted dry, and cut into 8 pieces
3 celery stalks, chopped
2 large carrots, halved crosswise
1 large yellow onion, halved through the root end
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 bay leavs
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon black pepper
3/4 teaspoon dried tarragon
1 cup lon-grain white rice
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley

In large stockpot, combine the chicken, 12 cups water, celery, carrots, onion, garlic, bay leaves, salt, black pepper, and tarragon.  Bring to boil over high heat.  Reduce to a simmer and cook until the chicken is cooked through, about 45 minutes.  Remove the chicken and carrots from the pot and set aside.  strain the remaining liquid and discard the solids.  Return the strained broth to the pot, stir in the rice, bring to a gentle simmer and cook until the rice is tender, 15-20 minutes.  Meanwhile, once the chicken is cool enough to handle, pick the meat off the bones, discarding the bones and skin.  Cut the meat into bitw-size pieces and thinly slice the carrots.  return the chicken and carrots to the pot.  Simmer for 5 minutes.  Adjust the seasoning and stir in the parsley just before serving.

     Like I said, not my favorite, but not bad.  Although J and Monkey wiped it out, I don't think I'll make it again unless it's requested.

     When making this soup, I decided to use the carcass of the turkey we made at our mock-Thanksigiving.  While I was wrapping it to freeze so I'd have it later, I started getting a little nostalgic.  My step-daddy has a birthday tradition that I'm afraid I may miss out on this year :-(  His birthday is December 1, and he always takes the carcasses from Thanksgiving dinner that he's frozen and uses it to make a giant pot of turkey and sausage gumbo.  It's become a big deal over the years.  Everyone knows he does this, rain or shine.  He stays up for 24 hours cooking, and a couple of my uncles will pass by for a couple of hours a piece, and they'll stay up with him, chatting away on the back patio.  Then when the gumbo's finished, everyone on his side and my mom's comes over to eat and celebrate his birthday, before he goes and passes out :-)  This year, I'm not sure if we'll be making a trip home that weekend, but I may just have to.  My "Big Papa's" gumbo is not something I want to miss out on.  However, I did ask him to teach me how to make a roux while we're in Florida during Thanksgiving this year.  I'm really looking forward to it.

   Well, I guess I'd better get breakfast started.  That ought to wake up the sleeping gremlins in style.  I hope everyone has a great weekend :-)

Tuesday, November 8, 2011


    When I started this blog, it was for a number of reasons, but the main two that stick out are: 1.) I wanted an easier way to answer all those, "Can I have the recipe?" questions I was getting on my "food" photo album, and 2) I wanted to kill time until my J came home from deployment.  Well, since I post more food pictures here than on facebook now, and my beloved J is home, I've sort of lost the "umph" behind this blog.  I mean, what's the point of doing something unless you're trying to get somewhere?  Or as my fortune cookie told me, "You can only find true happiness when you're in the pursuit of a goal."  So here I go, I'm setting a goal for myself and for this blog.

     I have never read Julie and Julia, nor have I seen the movie, but I've heard enough about it to know that I would probably love both the book and the movie.  There's a big hint for those of you trying to think of a Christmas present for yours truly ;-)  What I love most is the idea of someone taking something that inspires them and applying it to her own life.    After all isn't that what we should all be trying to do?

      So what is it that inspires me?  Well in this case, I'm inspired by one of my personal favorite chefs: Paula Deen.  As it so happens, my closest friend bought me an early Christmas present yesterday, and do you know what it was?  Paula Deen's Southern Cooking Bible!  So can you guess what this is all building up to?  Yep!  I will be attempting at least 2 of her recipes each week and blogging about it.  There are many things in this book that I've never attempted.  Some of them are simple things, like an omelet, some are a bit more complicated.  I'm hoping this goal will help me to not only be more consistent with my blogs, but also I hope to put the fun back in writing.  I don't want to feel like writing is a chore anymore than I want to feel like cooking is.    And, hey, even if I burn every chicken, overcook every egg, and undercook all the pork, it'll be fun for me and (hopefully) entertaining for y'all.  So let's bring on the butter!

    That being said, tonight I'm going to cheat a little.  I made a recipe that was actually not from the Southern Cooking Bible, but it is a Paula Deen recipe, so it still counts.  This one was featured in her November 2011 magazine issue.  It's called Creamy Chicken and Broccoli over Baked Potatoes.  It was super yummy, and really quick and easy.  Here's what you need:

2 TBSP butter
1 1/2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into pieces
1/2 cup chopped green onion
3 TBSP all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 (14 oz) can chicken broth
1 (10 oz) pkg frozen chopped broccoli, thawed and drained
1 (5.2 oz) pkg garlic and herbs cheese
6 baking potatoes, baked

In large skillet, melt butter.  Add chicken and green onion; cook, stirring occasionally for 8-10 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.  Add flour, salt, and pepper; cook stirring constantly for 2 minutes.  Add broth; cook for 3-4 minutes or until thickened.  Add broccoli and cheese, stirring until cheese melts.  Serve over baked potatoes.

Here's what I did differently:

I had leftovers from our "mock-Thanksgiving" so I tore off enough turkey to make about 1 1/2 lbs.  That shaved a good ten minutes off of the cooking time.  Also I tried to do the quick baked potatoes in the microwave.  I say "tried" because it didn't work very well.  The potatoes were not cooked all the way, and although that made for some funny faces at the dinner table, it wasn't quite palatable.  I think I just didn't let them cook long enough.

    The topping was quite amazing, and the picture I took does not do it justice.  I wish I could let you smell it though.  It had the most appetizing smell in the world.  And, as and added bonus, there was a bit leftover, so I'm going to put it over some mashed potatoes I have sitting in the fridge for my lunch tomorrow. :-)

      And for those of you worried about my eating habits possibly leading to a heart attack, worry not.  My darling J has me running two miles every other day in the soft sand!  I'm hoping this will mean Paula's cookbook has more influence on my cooking and my blog than it does on my hips.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Playing Catch-Up

     Welcome back, November!  Yes, I realize my greeting is about a week late, but in my defense life has been crazy lately.  Although, I believe the definition of life is crazy so let me rephrase:  life has been life. :-)

     As many of you have seen on Facebook, we had a very good Halloween this year.  Our Halloween gathering went off without a hitch, and everyone had fun.  Even if I am a a tad bit late, I'd like to share some of our ghoulish foods and scary decorations.  Let's not forget the awesome costumes!

     Of course, I want to talk about the food first.  Since our guest list was small, we kept the food simple.  Bbq chicken legs that were supposed to be wrapped in bloody gauze (we got sidetracked and forgot at the end), bloody punch, homemade tortilla chips cut into scary shapes, deviled eyeballs, and (my favorite) graveyard cupcakes all made for an interesting array of appetizers.

    Here are a few pictures from that night:

We believe the cause of death to be blunt trauma to the head.
     As with every good Halloween party, we all dressed up.  I loved seeing what each person decided to arrive as, and I myself had an especially fun time in my "Cyndi Lauper" get-up.

Our whole crew. 
Me with my oh-so-scary husband. 
I was getting into character.

      As you can see we had a good bit of fun that night.  And before I move on to more recent events, I have to share a couple of completely adorable pictures of my daughter from Halloween night.

(She was Ariel, just in case you were wondering lol)

    So on to more recent events.  November has brought with it a couple of weekends of relaxation that were not to be found during October.  I'm extremely grateful, because I need the time to get my house back into shape.  Plus, I get extra time just to relax and enjoy having my beautiful baby girl and wonderful husband.  It also provides more time for cooking! (You knew I was going to be throwing that out there soon.)

    Yesterday, for breakfast, I tried a new muffin recipe that turned out rather well.  I found the recipe for these Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins on Pinterest.  I'm being lazy this morning, so you actually have to click the link. :-P 

      Well, it's about time for me to actually get serious about going to work today.  I will make an effort to blog again soon, although I'm not making any promises.  ;-)