Friday, April 29, 2011

A Grown-up Tea Party

I know we're all worried and stressed over current situations and problems; in our own backyards, nationally and globally. So, the Royal Wedding, for me, was a refreshing break from that. I know it's opulent, over-the-top, grandiose, lavish, pretentious and excessive (I used a thesaurus, I hope they all mean "ritzy"). But THIS was fun! Some of us gals took our break early this morning, and put on a "low tea" (thanks to Brian, because I didn't know a "low tea" even existed, I thought he was making fun, but Annie explained the diff). It was great fun to scour the thrift stores for tea cups, pots, hats and gloves, and although I couldn't find gloves or a "fascinator" (thanks Annie), I found the super-cool fox collar. I watched part of the wedding after I got ready this morning, and I plan to watch again this afternoon. What a great way to prepare for London! I'll be looking at Westminster Abbey FOR REAL in 41 DAYS! Nicole brought in her England pics from her '99 visit, and we really enjoyed those. Just admit it: this looks like fun, doesn't it?! ; )


Lemon Poppy Scones & Lemon-Thyme Shortbread

Annie's Traditional Cucumber Sandwiches & Chicken Salad Sand's ~ Delish!

We were ready! Vickie shared her "tea party teas" with us too. One was Tiramisu, yum!

We were really in the jolly good spirit of the day!

Thrift store finds!

Now that's a fascinator to be envied! Patti even has her pinky extended! Don't know about the Union Pacific mug...we'll pretend it's a Union Jack!

Melissa, Patti, Annie, Debbie, Nicole & Carol. Just part of the group to partake in the festivities!

The lemon scones and shortbread were yummy.
But nothing like my

Debbie and I have dubbed ourselves "Purveyors of Fine Living & Frivolity"! The proof is in the pudding; next week's (after work) party: Kentucky Derby!!! Mint Julep? Yes, please ; )

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Table for One, Please.

If I didn't have to cook for someone, I honestly don't think I'd cook. Brandy hit me where I live this weekend when she said, "Momma, you only cook this fantastic food so you can show off your amazing, crazy mad cooking skillz on your blog!" (ok, those weren't her exact words, I added a few) But she's pretty much right (darn those meddling kids!). Tonight, however, I felt like making a nice dinner for myself, since Jack's working late. I stopped by Publix after the gym and picked up a fresh piece of salmon and some veggies, plus the ingredients to make the shortbread and scones for Friday's royal nuptials. So this is what I had for dinner.

This little Kodak takes the craziest pictures. Doesn't it look like the salmon is superimposed on the plate?! (could be the Chardonnay) The salmon is topped with Newman's medium peach salsa, to which I'm now addicted, and fresh cilantro. Super combo.

So the wine I chose needed to be white. I drank up all of the Cupcake Chardonnay last week, and my "guests" this weekend hit the Pinot Grigio and Riesling. When Lindsay looked in the back fridge Friday, she said, "Mom, what's this Chardonnay doing in the fridge?" because I usually don't drink it. (she needs to read my blog to know that I'm trying different things) I let her know it was leftover from the wine tasting and would be in there for awhile. Well, it's "awhile". It was very tasty with the salmon! I was going to start tonight with something new: testing the "nose" of the wine, etc, but I'll start that next week (maybe). So, this is Robert Mondavi Woodbridge Chardonnay, very reasonably priced at about $12 for a 1.5 liter bottle. I really like Woodbridge Pinot Noir, it was my "go to" red before I discovered Sutter Home Red Zin. Salute!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

To Lindsay, Jordan & Brandy, With Love ♥

I always thought ONE GIRL was plenty; boys don't have raging hormone fits (at least not my boys!) in the same way as girls: no crying, no worrying, no self-esteem issues. But this weekend, when our house was filled with GIRLS, it was a wonderful thing. They are simply a beautiful creation: sweet, wacky, caring, silly, insightful, catty, sensitive, determined and thoughful. We ate (ALOT), we took pictures (TOO MANY), we checked out each other's outfits (♥), we played games (ok, little kitten, you won, but we were close!), we talked (THE BEST). This weekend reminded me how much I love being a mom; chauffeuring to pick up movies, running to the drugstore, handing out my Visa card (yep, I even like that), cooking, fussing, doting. Kisses goodnight, hugs in the morning, snugs to make a belly ache feel better, packing sandwiches for the road. I got my girl fix. So, I thank my fabulous (natural & borrowed) daughters for an amazingly girly and blessed weekend. You made the blog! : ) 

The loves of my life. ♥

Our extended family. ♥

My lovelies. ♥

Big and Little. The originals. ♥

I'm in heaven! I. LOVE. THESE. GIRLS! ♥

Gorgeous! ♥

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Con's Shortbread ~ With permission!

If you've ever had my sister Connie's shortbread, you've had the best there is! She is the be all and end all of shortbread bakers! It was a daunting task to undertake; to even TRY to make this buttery, flakey pan of goodness, but I did it! My bars came out thinner than Con's (first thing Linds noticed), but all in all, I think they're pretty darn good. She said it's ok to share her recipe, and I think the secret to the wonderfulness is in her detailed explanation of how she works her magic!

Ingredients are pretty simple: flour, sugar, butter. I can do that.

Mmmm, can't go wrong with butter. Ever.

My helper sifted the dry ingredients together three times, just like he was told. : )

He's very good at this! Hmmm....

Makes more of a mess than I figgered on.

I thought this was really neat. Mound up the dry ingredients...

Make a butter "train" down the middle (it sounds fun and way healthier when you call the butter a "train")...

Cover the butter with the flour and sugar mixture...

And squish, crumble and knead away! (How'd my Mom's hand get in there?!)

The dough forms a shiny (a/k/a buttery) ball.

I'm missing a few steps, but they're in the recipe ; ) I put lots o' holes in it, but they closed up while baking! So I re-poked them when I realized the pan was solid dough.

Golden brown! (Jack "called it" for me; I think I was too worried and probably would have let it burn. Thanks, hon.)

Ooops, who did that?! Those darn little ends never measure out right! So I had to eat them!

Connie's Shortbread, made with ♥

Ingredients: 5 cups all purpose flour, 1 cup sugar, 1 lb butter, plus some superfine sugar (if you can't find this, just use regular sugar in a grinder).

Sift (I just use a wire strainer) each cup of flour into a large bowl, then sift in the sugar (throw out the pieces that don't go through the strainer), mix them together; then sift the dry ingredients 3 more times.

I sift into the bowl, then onto the countertop, then back to the bowl then finally to the countertop again.

Before I start, I remove one pound of butter from the fridge, and open the paper around each stick, allowing them to un-chill a bit, while mixing the flour and sugar. As you're sifting the last time onto the countertop, make a nice long mound to place your unwrapped butter sticks on, and then cover them with the rest of the sifted mix.

Get all of your mixing materials out of your way, and start kneading the butter and flour mixture together. It will initially still be a bit cool, but the butter will warm up as you knead. It will go through a crumbly stage, but will eventually form one big ball. Then I roll it into a log the length of my baking sheet  (I use a 10" x 15" pan)  and press into the pan until it's nice and flat.  (Tip: a rolling pin rolled across the top will remove all those finger and "heel of your hand" marks from the dough).  Before placing in preheated 300 degree oven for 45 minutes, poke holes through the dough with fork tines. Make the holes closer together in the center of the pan and more spread apart near the outside of the pan.

It should be a nice golden color when done.

As soon as you remove it from the oven, sprinkle with Superfine (sometimes called "BAR") sugar, then slice into bars.

Slice it down the middle both ways, and keep diving each section in half until you get the size bars you want.

You will not be able to cut through it once it cools, so make sure you slice it right away.
Have fun!
Love ya,
Thanks, sis, love you too!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Just Havin' a Shot. In the Foot.

Fingers crossed (I'd cross toes, too, but that's not a good idea right now), the plantar fasciitis will be under control in a few days. I took everyone's facebook advice into account...then Dr. Lynch said "Europe in 6 weeks? Let's be aggressive." (AND, he's cute and called me "Smiley". I'm so easy.) Within 30 seconds the cortisone was administered, and I'm on my way (hopefully!) to running all over merry ole England! Wish me luck!

I have my sister Connie's famous shortbread in the oven right now. It's Lindsay's favorite (it's actually everybody's favorite! I hope to post pics tomorrow) , so I'm making it for this weekend. Along with Mocha Via Muffins, fish and lime tacos, crawfish shortbread, and lots of Easter yummies. When I went for my annual checkup this afternoon, I'd lost 6 pounds since I was there in November! *sigh* I'll start again Monday.

Wine. I'd heard Cupcake Chardonnay was verrry good, so I tried it. Yep. It is. Doesn't have the stronger oakey taste of many chardonnays, and was just simply quite delicious. I've found it on sale at both Publix & Walmart for $9 in the last two weeks. If you like Chardonnay or just white, this is darn good. And it makes my foot feel better.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

(Free) Shrimp Linguine!

Another recipe from my hero, Pioneer Woman. I wanted to use some of Jack & Al's fresh shrimp right away, and found this recipe. Her recipe calls for two pounds of shrimp, but I probably used around 1 - 1 1/2 pounds. This was quick and easy, I highly recommend it! Here are some of my "helpful" tips:

Boil the linguine only "halfway".

I used an open box of my FAVORITE marinara, and one
 canned tomato. I stopped using canned awhile ago,
but these were still in the closet so I decided
to use them. And WINE, don't forget the WINE! : )

Lots of garlic (at least seven cloves) in just a bit (3 TBLS)
 of oil.The recipe called for 1/2 cup, but that's too
 rich for my blood. This was plenty.

Um, I never peeled and deveined raw shrimp before.
It's not for sissies. People who do this for a living should
probably be getting paid double what they're currently
 making. Throw the raw shrimp right on top, they cook
 perfectly by the end.

Dumped everything in and stirred it together. I used
heavy duty foil, and the dish didn't get a drop of food
 in it! That makes me REALLY love this recipe!

Tuck neatly into the oven for 15 minutes.

Smokin" hot. Perfect flavor and tender shrimp!

I like a bit of heat, so I added red pepper flakes. Yummm!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Nirvana a/k/a The Wine's All Here! (and the house is empty)

Just in time for the weekend! And you know me...."Aren't the bottles pretty?!"

Anyway, the house is quiet, and my great white shrimper (and son & sidekicks) are out for the evening. Please, Lord, allow the additional $61.94, $10, $14.40 & $35.59 spent this week, bring home a nice catch. (I am totally serious. Those are the receipts on the desk for incidentals for tonight's excursion) Last night I said, "Seriously, I really would rather spend the $6-8 at Publix for shrimp when I need it." (usually, once or twice a year for a party dish, since Jack doesn't eat seafood. Again, serious.) He looked me dead in the eye and said, "Really? You can't put a price on an night at home by yourself, can you?" Darn it!!! How'd he figure THAT out?! I thought I was being so sly! But now that I think about it, I guess there were little hints that led him there... Monday: "Hon, are you going shrimping on Friday?" Tuesday: "Hey hon, have you heard anything about shrimping?" Wednesday: "Did you hear from Todd?" Thursday: "Please call Todd and see what's going on for tomorrow!" He's catchin' on. ; ) Now, to break the silence - with popcorn & a wine opener! Happy Friday!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Say Eeet Like 'Zis With Meee...

I'm so excited to post this French Cabernet! You can tell we reaallly enjoyed the bottle, at least Jeff and I did, this was our "ONE"! Here's what I learned about this wine: it's a French country wine, with tastes of raspberries and cherries; the winery is Romanet; I gave it a "5" (on a scale of 1-5); I'm sharing a case! Smoooothh!!! Sadly, this wine is not available in any store (wow, I sound like a commercial), it has to be ordered through PRP, and when it's gone, it's gone. That's ok, we'll just have to try something new!
This vintner has a large European following, so I'll have to stop in a variety of establishments to see if I can find it while I'm there! ; )  And btw, countdown to take-off: 57 days!

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Wine Tasting 101

The tasting turned out to be a lot of fun! The company, PRP Wines, has been around for quite awhile, and they specialize in wines from Germany, Hungary, Italy, France and California. The wines don't contain sulphites, which really seems to allow a cleaner, fresher taste than we were all used to! We talked Jack and Jeff into staying for the demonstration, and we all learned some great stuff: the 5 "S"s of tasting (sight, swirl, smell, sip, savor), that a later harvest makes a sweeter wine (Becky already knew that!), and that "varietal" means grape! (Duh! He probably thought I was an idiot. So much for my great knowledge...) Anyway, my dream job now is to be a PRP wine salesperson! Peter (our wine expert) got to DRINK everything he was demonstrating! Then he had a nice plate of food with a glass of his choice wine for the night! Pinch me, I must be dreaming! I WANT THAT JOB!

The pictures I planned to take of the tasting, our group, etc, didn't really happen. But, since we're now clients (cool, huh?) of PRP, we can have a tasting whenever we like, so I'll do better next time. But here are pictures of the food, along with the recipe links. They were all quite good! Enjoy!

This is Martha's Whole Living Shrimp & Avocado Salad. The link isn't working right now, but try Googling it later. NO mayo, just a few simple, fresh ingredients. The leftover was a hit with Jackson today (he doesn't like mayo) but loved this because of the avocado.

You can make this with your fave antipastis!


These were so easy. I used Butoni tortellini. (side note: I added the fresh sugar peas to the boiling pasta for the last 3 minutes instead of using frozen and nuking them) Mmmmm!


This is LITERALLY heaven on earth! Thanks, Annie for the fabulous recipe! (and thanks Pete, for picking up the very resonably priced fontina for me!) (note again: the recipe calls for 1/4 cup of olive oil, but I only drizzled, and it was wonderful) We all loved this so much, we stood and ate it from the dish!!!


I will make these many more times. Starbucks coffee, chocolate and cinnamon. What else could you possibly want in a muffin?! (third note: I used a non-stick muffin pan, so I didn't need cupcake papers. There's enough butter to pop them right out of the pan. The icing would be overkill, these things are sweet and perfect by themselves. Also, I used decaf Via coffee since we were going to be eating them in the evening. The caffeinated would keep me up for DAYS!)

Who knew wine tasting could be so fattening?!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

The Shrimper King

Thursday evening Jack and I went to Publix. I  got a pound of shrimp for a fab shrimp & avocado recipe that Brian gave me to make for the wine tasting tonight. Says Jack: "Wow, $6 a pound? I could get you those for free, hon." Me: "Dear, the lunchmeat we eat is $10 a pound, so this really isn't expensive." Jack: "I mean, I just hate to see you buy them when I can get them for free if I go shrimping tomorrow night." He has been DYING to go shrimping. He and the boys went a few weeks ago, and had a great night, but not shrimp-wise. Soooo, he and Todd went out while Debbie and I watched beautiful Mayet in her play. And here is his bountiful catch!

He and Todd split a good two gallon : )

Some BIG boys!!! (sorry about the white stuff on Jack's thumb...EWWW)

Mitch taught us to freeze them in water so they'll keep longer and fresher. When I got this bag back out of the freezer to take the picture, it had sprung numerous leaks from the pointy tails, so it's a good thing I did! He took some to Mom and Dad, I froze some, and added some to the Publix shrimp.

So, the moral of the story is: Gas for the truck-$40. Lights, batteries, ice, beer, etc-$150.
When my man says "FREE", I budget extra cash in for the week. (We also got a "free" sink for the garage that cost $100) I woulda been happy with the $6 shrimp. ; )

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Aaargghh! I Missed Wine Wednesday!

We had a busy week. Our Lenten mission was this week at St. T's, and Jack & I went all three nights. Fr. Ben, a missionary of The Precious Blood, was our retreat speaker. Truthfully, a mission retreat can go either way; I remember going to the first night of one a few years back. That was it. We didn't go back, which is unusual for us (I promise we normally give second chances). But Fr. Ben was a wonderful speaker, full of relevant-to-topic stories, told with humor and insight into the three Scriptures he spoke about. This year, God was good. (Just bein' funny, Lord)


Becky got me this cool journal, to keep track of my likes and dislikes. Bet it has more "likes".

I picked this up on Moe's good advice. Moe is Becky's favorite wine salesperson at World Market, and I know she's his favorite customer. He is super knowledgeable in everything vino. He took me to a $25 bottle of Acacia Vineyards Pinot Noir, then said "Wait, now look at this!" Then he showed me the Caviste, a very comparable Pinot from the same vintner, for $10. I LOVE Moe! He also led me to a peach Bellini, since peach wine is not readily available here, and Jack was happy about that.

I'll have this book filled in NO TIME...

Stay tuned for the Dolce Girls (f/k/a Dirty Girls) wine tasting this Saturday!

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