Saturday, March 24, 2012

Pizza & Bees (Nope, not Beer...)

I should be doing a lot of other things right now. Like paying bills. Or making a grocery list. Or watching the race with Jack. But I feel like doing this.
Jack was away at school this week, and I didn't have to cook. At all. I love those kind of weeks. So Al & I met late Thursday afternoon at the tiki bar on the river to have dinner; blackened fish sandwiches, a coupla cold drafts...a balmy breeze, with just a hint of cool, lots of late afternoon sun, and a touch of bees.

These buzzy dudes gathered right near the stairs by the bar, on the split rail fence that separates the parking lot from the river bank. I know, right?!

They were just chillin', not bothering anyone (except for the few at the bar). A little old fellow (that reminded me sooo much of Tim Conway's little old man characters!) was just getting ready to scrape them into his bee-keeping box as we were leaving. I asked him why he thought they decided to gather here...he said they just get tired of flying and need to rest. I swear, that's what he said!

Since they had just stopped to rest, they hadn't started to work on a hive yet, or they would have been aggressive in trying to protect it. Then we would have been in trouble standing this close!

Now that Jack is home, an actual cooked meal was in order for tonight. I wanted homemade pizza, but I really stink at making it. Al said he would help, so he busied himself getting the kitchen ready, and I took off for the store.

Pie #1. Check this out, my boy is a professional! Look at that beauuutiful dough! I couldn't do that on a bet.

He wanted his sans sauce, with just some olive oil and toppings. He taught me how to shmush, stretch, roll, and poke holes, so that the dough doesn't puff up. Cool! 

 Al's creation was topped with tomatoes, Kalamata olives, green onion, mozzarella, feta, parm blend and chicken. Mmmmmmm!

Ohmygosh, it was to die for!

Then we got to work on the next one, which was "mine". I immediately screwed it up, so Al plied and pulled it into place to cover my mistake.

Pie #2, topped with a natural pizza sauce, mozzarella, tomato, fresh basil, parm blend, and a dash of onion.

A Valentino's-worthy pie!
(note to self: 400° oven for 20-25 minutes, until it looks like this!)

Ahhhh! Perfection!

This is the best sauce I've ever used, and now I'll continue to keep it in stock. I found it at Publix in the spaghetti sauce aisle, tucked away on the top shelf. Delicious!

Our secret weapon. This stuff is honestly magical; it's the perfect blend of spices with a little heat. We sprinkled it in between the layers of goodness : )

Ok, I admit it, I had a beer.
Are you hungry yet? I'm heading back to fridge! Nothin' better than cold pizza, right Connie?! 

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Colcannon & Beer Cake!

Just a quick post if you're interested in doing a little Irish cooking...these dishes were for a work potluck on Thursday. Only thing missing was a cold pint to go with them!

The beautiful, nearly-black beginning of the batter for Guinness Cake. All ingredients were wisked together in a large saucepan. Easy peasy!

The cake is baked in a parchment lined springform pan, I guess since it's a bit thin. It sure thickens up though; the cake is very dense, but moist. When I told a baker friend at work that it had dark beer in it, she knew right away that it would be heavy, so I'm learning!

Yummm! I topped it with Bailey's buttercream frosting (instead of cream cheese, which the recipe called for), and it seemed to be a hit. Any cake made with Guinness, butter, sugar & flour, and topped with Irish cream is bound to be a favorite of mine!

The Colcannon potatoes were my favorite. The recipe says to make the potatoes and cabbage separate, but I boiled the cabbage right with the potatoes when they seemed to be about halfway done. I added a bit more butter, but that was the only thing I did different.

So, today you can celebrate by either hoisting a "jar" (I learned that in Ireland) or a piece of cake!
Either way, Bain taithneamh as an deireadh seachtaine!
(enjoy the weekend!)

Friday, March 16, 2012

Ireland, Revisited

In honor of St. Patrick's Day, I shall call this post "Ireland's Tribute to Guinness". Everywhere in Dublin, there are signs of Guinness. Literally. Everywhere. Did I mention that I love it there?!  This is just my pictoral rendering of Ireland's tribute to...Guinness!

Huh. They serve Guinness here. Who knew?!

Downtown Dublin. Check out the wall on the building in the background.

Lunch at O'Neill's. A Christmas Cracker sandwich on brown bread (fresh bread with herbs, and all crumbly), with cranberry, Brie, lettuce and turkey. As I stood in line, I learned from the ladies ahead of me how to order: order "brown bread", then say what you want on it. Oh yeah, I had a Guinness.

Doris liked this place, since she's a banker. Hmmm, the "Banker's Lounge". What a concept!

I'm guessin' they serve Guinness here, too.

At the Guinness Storehouse. This pic cracks me up every time I look at it. I was really happy.

At the end of the tour in the warehouse, there is Guinness memorabilia everywhere! It's been popular there since its inception in 1759! Ya think?! Lobsters love Guinness?!

The cute Irish boy with a talent for pouring. They have it down to a science, pouring and waiting 2-3 minutes before topping it off. I found it pretty fascinating! I ended up with a beautiful shamrock on mine!

On a side note, this is Blarney again. Jack has mentioned numerous times in the past year that I reallyyyy didn't need to kiss the stone, but I did, anyway! (Ps. I kissed it twice, no joke!) Now he can! Then he can talk as much as I do!!!

The Red Fox Inn, in Ballincleave, Glenbeigh, Co. Kerry. They like Guinness there, too. I felt so at home here, go figure!

The next day, I sat at the bar with my new friend, Edwin, our driver, in Fossa, and ordered dinner. THIS is corned beef and cabbage! Edwin was the boss; he had four grown kids, and one son was a musician on the Queen Victoria II. He told me that 90% of southern Ireland is Catholic, even though our tour director led us to believe otherwise. Ed was the finest fellow, even though his beer of choice is Heineken!

Potatoes & veggies came on the side. Too bad they don't like butter ; ) Really, though, I think this was the hotel's version of corned beef & cabbage, rather than the authentic Irish version.

I learned so much about Ireland in the few days we spent there! I'm proud to be of  Gallagher (Gal-a-her) decent (from Donegal), thanks to my Grandma's parents. I know that horse racing, sheep, potatoes and good ole fashioned drinking are an integral part of who I am, and I embrace them all!
So Happy St. Patrick's Day to you!
Sláinte! (pronounced "slonja"; Edwin taught me that!)

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Happy 96th Birthday, Dad!

I just had to share these pictures of my Dad today, on his birthday! ♥

Getting ready for the St. Patrick's Day Dance at the Knights. This was in 1984, when Dad was 68; he was funny and fearless, and saw humor in literally everything. He had skinny legs that Mom loved (one with the slightest limp, from a broken tibia/fibula from his stint in the Army), and weighed 168 pounds for as far back as I can remember (I unfortunately didn't inherit the "good weight" gene).  Check out that furniture in our "mobile"; it came with the place!

It's Aunt Rose again! These good folks always had fun! Mom was such a party gal, too; they loved to dress up and go to dances, parties, clubs and card nights. I get that gene honest enough!

Correction: In yesterday's post I mentioned Aunt Rose's sign that says "Ssshhh, I'm talking"...she told me tonight that it actually says "Ssshhh, I'm talking...
                                                                                                to God". (I missed that part!)
We both agreed it was funnier the first way, but she wanted me to remember to talk to God. I will, Aunt Rose. My memories of Dad & Mom are always reminders of how good he is to me! ♥ 

Monday, March 12, 2012


WOW! (What O' Weekend!)

Some weekends are packed with chores or home projects. Others are filled with parties or travel. Some are spent just relaxing (we don't have many of those!) or visiting. This weekend was a funtastic combination of a little bit of all of those, along with family & extended family fun, from beginning to end! Ok, Friday evening was pretty low key, but I hit the ground runnin' on Saturday, starting at 8 am at Walmart (ugh), followed by a Publix run. In case you don't see my antics regarding these stores on Facebook, I witness the weirdest things: a customer brawl at Christmastime, a lady using various cosmetics (then putting them back on the shelf), and my personal favorite: a gigantic snake under a woman's sweatshirt in the deli (I SWEAR!)! I digress; back to Saturday...

Jax and his pups were a welcome break in housecleaning, and we all had a nice visit. Bear (right), has a new playmate, Balto. These two beasts, errr, boys, are both well under a year, and it shows; they are FULL of energy! 

Next was a Baker birthday party to beat the band! Happy birthday, Tina! The 9 little people at this shindig (all 3 years and under) were sooo much fun, and kept us entertained for hours! It's the one thing about FL I don't like; not being able to get my hands on all of the babies that are up north. So thanks, Bakers, for making us part of your extended family! Now it's time to get home and cook for tomorrow's visiting Pennsylvanians, YaY!
I wanted to put out a nice spread for brunch on Sunday after Mass, so this is what I came up with:

Since it's Plant City Strawberry Festival time here, the berries are at "season's peak" (uh oh, too much Publix...that's their slogan), so I stuffed them with cheesecake filling and topped them with crushed graham cracker. Top with a little whipped cream, and yummo! (nope, not my idea, I stole from Pinterest yet again)

This decadent brunch casserole recipe was compliments of our friend Sharon in ND: onion rolls, ham, cheese, eggs, milk, cream cheese, butter and dash of cayenne pepper. The best low cal breakfast I've ever tasted! ; ) Aunt Mary took the recipe right along home with her!

Fresh fruit salad with honey-lime dressing and fresh mint. Fruit is Aunt Rose's favorite, so I scored some points ; ) Trick I learned on Pinterest: soak the cut apples for about 10 minutes in gingerale or Sprite to keep them from turning brown. It works! (and doesn't have the tart like lemon juice)

Aunt Mary brought her homemade chocolate & peanut butter candies, my personal favorite. And let's not forget the bottle of Marburg wine! (ok, that's really my personal favorite!)

We ate and talked and caught up and told stories ♥ But I forgot to get a picture of all of us!!! Darn it, I hate when I get too busy talking (Jack would have something to insert right here) and forget to snap a pic : (
They all headed back to Aunt Rose's to see her kids for a bit, but I didn't let that stop me. After a dash to the grocery and a quick visit with Mom & Dad E, I went to capture the missing photo!

Some of the nicest people in the world: Cousin Jane, Aunt Mary, Uncle Chiz (short for Charlie), Aunt Rose, Cousin-in-law Jim, me, and Cousin Dan.
I'm "Cousin Terry" to all of Aunt Rose's kids; it's always been that way, and I love it. Aunt Rose is who I wanna be when I grow up; for one, she has an embroidered sign on the end table beside her chair that says "Ssshhh, I'm talking" (if that's not me, I don't know what is!), and two, she's just a lovely person. Aunt Mary & Uncle Chiz are the warmest, most welcoming folks (for years they ran Grandpa's motel); they had the 'party house' when I was a kid, famous for Aunt Mary's great cooking & the best picnics ever!

Uncle Chiz was talking to Jack at breakfast about visiting soon; later, Jack said, "We ought to go to PA this summer, huh, hon?"
: D

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

My 45 Hours as a College Student: Fun in Tampa

Al has been well on the mend from surgery since approximately his third day home, so this past weekend, I was Tampa-bound! He was actually doing so well, he came along and went to a friend's wedding downtown. Three Ehrigs in Tampa....look out! Here are a few of the things I learned during the weekend:

Lesson #1. My kids are gosh darn good lookin' : ) Ok, the first lesson really is: Let Mom buy dinner when she offers. (just kidding, I ♥ treating these guys!) This is a favorite hangout for college kiddos, called Acropolis. You can eat fabulous, flavorful Greek food, enjoy the authentic music, smoke hookah, and watch a cute little belly dancer here. I took wayyy too many pictures on my phone, but they're used to it. Alex even helped me "set up" a shot of his salad! Poor guy, he knows me toooo well.

The floor is covered with bar napkins; the dancer comes by...she throws napkins. It's a birthday...the servers throw napkins. If I feel like it, I can throw napkins. The Mom and reasonable adult in me was thinking, "These kids are gonna slip and fall on all these napkins on this smooth concrete floor!" I know. I'm old.

See these cute little, innocent, sleepy faces? Ok, they are cute. And relatively innocent. But not sleepy. Lesson #2. Time has no boundaries in college. This was right before 2 am. They look as fresh as daisies. I was holding my head up with my cane. ; )

Lesson #3. Eat and cook whenever you're hungry (not a bad rule!) (and Lesson #2b: Only cook if you run out of money to eat out, or when your Mom comes to visit) I told Linds I would make her anything she wanted for dinner, and she chose lo mein. Her Publix has a great selection of ethnic foods and produce, so we crammed into her lil kitchen and dove right in. (I usually sit on the counter to chop vegetables, but I let Linds have my spot. Kidding!)

Rule #4. Invite friends when Mom cooks. Matt came over to help cook and eat. Actually, he was supposed to make us dinner, but he thought it would be nice if we worked together. Smart guy! (and very good in the kitchen!) (ignore those bare feet that are very close to the chopped celery & cilantro)

Dinner! Chicken lo mein. Lesson #5. If ya gotta cook, cook alot, so you can eat it for a coupla days. (it's almost mid-terms, leaving no time to prepare food)

Lesson #6. Eat dessert. (after all, they're young, they can afford the calories) Matt's an ice cream fan, so we found our way to Coldstone and look who we saw! (ice cream is a friend of everyone) The Tampa Ren Fair is in town, right up the street! There truly is always something to do there, which is really cool.
By then, it was 9:30, and Alyssa was calling to see where we were going for the night. What?! It's not bedtime?! We had decided the night before (or actually that morning!), to visit Ybor City on Saturday night, so they could show me a good time. (Alyssa even gave up her closing shift : ) So we dolled ourselves up with no plan of action whatsoever, and with Lindsay as my navigator (thank you iPhone maps), took off for Ybor! THE THINGS WE SAW THERE!!!.... 

Lesson #7. Go with the flow. The albino python in a shopping basket, the "little person" dressed like Hulk Hogan, the young, nubile club barker in a G-string, the fetish club (don't ask), the huge, outdoor 80's party...the list goes on and on. Ya know what? It was a BLAST!!!

Lesson #8. Keep on keepin' on. Me & Lindsay in Ybor. That's me in the jeans and cougar *ahem* leopard shirt, in case you couldn't tell us apart. This was at midnight, I was holding up better than I thought!

7th Avenue in Ybor. Fun, fun, fun!!!

On Sunday, we went to Mass at the Student Center, had an incredible breakfast at First Watch (it's a chain, if you find one, EAT THERE!) and went to a chic apartment complex to check out some new digs for the girls. When I took a picture there to "pin" on Pinterest (much to Lindsay's horror), the cutsie sales girl that showed us around said, "Ohmygosh, I just set up my Pinterest! Here's my phone!" (so I could show her what to do)
That afternoon, we caught up with Alex (who had a great time), and sadly, the weekend came to an end.

Lesson #9. I'm pretty cool after all ; )

Jordycakes, you & Arissa made the blog AGAIN!

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