Monday, November 24, 2014

A Dinner with strictly Women Only

Last Saturday, I put my brave -my name means brave, hello- panties on and drove to Dallas with my friend (who blogs!) Amy so we could have dinner with a community of Texas Women Bloggers.  I was super pumped about the menu and just the whole idea in general.  It took place in the Urban Acres warehouse which was beautifully set up for the occasion.

Amy and I arrived 30 minutes early, which was great because it had just started misting and my hair loves to freak out at the tiniest bit of moisture.  We got cute name tags (which is dutifully hanging from my rear view mirror) and we got to check out the setup before things got hopping.  Jennifer and Taylor were so on top of things.

I got to see some of my great girl friends from the last meetup that I cohosted, Amber, Adrian and Stephanie.  The one thing I was concerned about what when Taylor said we couldn't sit directly with anyone we know.  I'm not that great at small talk.  I feel like I get louder, and I knew I was turning red.  I did manage to sneak Adrian in the seat next to me and I had Amy caddy corner to me.  I got to meet some great girls due to Taylor's rule and I couldn't be more thankful.  I met a girl named Brittaney, who graciously gave me her kale salad after I scarfed down my own, which was followed by some amazing brisket from Market Street.  Each course (soup, salad, entree, dessert) was followed with delicious wine pairings from Lost Oak Winery and then I had pumpkin spice ice cream from Lick Honest Ice Creams.  They had vegan ice creams, too, but when Jennifer said pumpkin, I didn't hear anything after that.  I think Adrian got coconut, which I know Tj would love because he's coconutty.. brb laughing at my clever joke.

At the beginning of the night, they made us fill out an info card because three women in attendance would win a 10 person wine tasting to Lost Oak Winery.  And guess what?  I WON!!!  Now I have to find 10 people I want to get tipsy with to go with me, which I scheduled for January, if you wanna meet me in Burleson!

Taylor mentioned more plans for Texas Women Bloggers in the future and it's such a great community, I can't wait to see what happens next.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Zuppa That Toscana

What?  Two recipe posts in a row??  Since when do I do that?  Oh yeah, when I remember to take pictures as I go.  I've varied this recipe both times I've made it, but the results are pretty much the same.  When I can't go to Olive Garden, I make this soup.  Plus, it's Tj's favorite.  Ok, second favorite.  His dad makes this soup which I want to call "12 Day Soup", because you have to chop each vegetable into these tiny little squares and it seems like the chopping takes 12 days.

Here's what you need:
  • a package of Italian Sausage - I used Johnsonville mild Italian, with 5 links. 
  • 4-6 Russet potatoes
  • one large yellow onion
  • two cloves of garlic
  • 3 slices of bacon, cut into pieces
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 32 oz chicken stock
  • 1/2 bag of kale - I used mixed kale, spinach and chard
Remove the sausage from the casings.  I just take a paring knife, slice down the skin and peel it off and throw it into a hot skillet, crumbling as you go.

While it's browning, chop up your bacon, onion and garlic.  Once your meat is brown, remove it from the pan and throw in the bacon, onion and garlic into the skillet.  Sautee until everything is tender.

In a big pot, pour in your chicken stock and then I also added another cup of water.  Bring it to a boil.  While the stock is coming to a boil, I used my mandolin on the middle setting and sliced the washed potatoes.

  When you've reached the boiling stage, throw EVERYTHING you've cooked into the pot.  At this point, I tasted my broth and added some crushed red pepper, some Italian seasoning and a bay leaf, but you may not think it needs anything.  Cook until your potatoes get tender.  Mine were sliced pretty thin so it only took 15 minutes.  I then add in the cream and stir.  Now, here's the thing.  The first time I made the soup, I rinsed my sausage after it was browned to rinse off all the grease.  I really hate seeing the oil floating at the top of the pot.  I forgot this step this time around.  I let the pot sit still for a minute and then took a regular piece of white bread and swam it around the top of the soup to absorb some of the grease.  Turn the heat off, and gently stir in the kale.  Put in a bowl and eat like crazy!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

So Stew Me

You'll have to forgive the lack of pictures in this post, but I didn't decide to do a recipe post until I got asked for it on Instagram (yeah you Kristina :D).  I knew the weather was fixing to get cold so I grabbed some stew meat at the store. I knew I wanted leftovers and would be feeding at least three of us, so I chose the two pound package.

I pulled out my trusty, beautiful orange crock pot and got to work.  I usually don't brown my meat before but I decided to this time.  I used salt and pepper and garlic powder on the meat, then I put olive oil in a hot skillet, tossed my meat in a package of brown gravy mix and just cooked the meat until it was brown on the outside.  In the mean time, I chopped two onions in pretty big pieces, six potatoes into smaller pieces and threw it all in the crock pot with a small bag of baby carrots.  Then, I put the meat on top, a little more salt and pepper and three bay leaves because it's my favorite herb ever.  I poured a can of chicken stock, a can of water and a packet of Au Jus mix, stirred it all about..wait... that's the Hokey-Pokey...  Normally, I shy away from chicken stock in beef dishes because I feel like it will be too chicken-y but you can't really tell a difference.

I cooked mine on high for 6 hours, stirring occasionally.  It didn't get really thick like some stews, though, I did add a cornstarch/milk/Worchestershire sauce slurry to mine to give it a little more body.  I served it along side some individual French loaves that I buttered and put under the broiler.  We had plenty of leftovers, Wilder went crazy for the carrots and we full and happy.

You can obviously add the seasonings you like, but I play down my spices when I know I'm feeding children.

  • 2lbs stew meat
  • 6 Russet potatoes
  • 1 bag baby carrots 
  • 1 packet of brown gravy mix
  • 1 packet Au Jus mix
  • bay leaves
  • salt
  • pepper
  • chicken stock
  • Worchestershire sauce
You can also cook it on low for 8-10 hours, I always just test the vegetables as I go.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014


If you know me at all, you know I live for the holidays Thanksgiving and Christmas.  As soon as November hits, I get all...antsy.  The cooler weather, soups and stews, blankets and holiday movies.  I thrive on it.  Things just seem to get better this time of year, although our house did burn down in mid-November when I was 13, but that doesn't really mar my opinion. 

I am so THANKFUL (ha, get it?) that I actually get Wilder for Thanksgiving.  It's the first holiday this year that I get him and I'm excited.  My routine for Thanksgiving has always been the same.  Usually, because we were driving far, I would show up in my pajamas, discuss the parade with my family while drinking coffee and eating my mom's sausage balls.  That was an awkward sentence... Anywho.  Then, I would start helping my mom by chopping any veggies I can get my hands on since I love to chop for some reason.  I would rush back and forth between the kitchen and the dog show on TV because we always root for our breeds we have in the show.  Plus, my mom thinks John Hurley is so funny as the host.  I always get to taste test the gravy which is my most favorite part of dinner.  Then I have to argue about wanting to watch the football game and I get outvoted and usually just have to flip back to it on commercials. 

I also have the privilege of getting to attend an amazing dinner in less than two weeks! in Dallas.  I consider myself a foodie and I can't wait to be a part of it.  Although, driving in Dallas makes me a bit anxious.  I think I found the perfect dress with Jamie's help, too, but you'll have to wait to see it.  I'm really hoping since November kicked off so well, that it stays on an upswing.  We're figuring out our lives again, our routine is thriving and we're getting happier every day. 

Also, I'll be taking over The Blog Baton tomorrow thanks to Mason from Mason Like The Jar!  You can follow along on Instagram @theblogbaton to get a glimpse into my life.  Eek!!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Bob Ross Called...

Do you know who Bob Ross is?  Just type in Bob Ross on Pinterest and you'll have your answer.  Bob Ross really has no place in this post except that it's about paint.  But as a bonus fun fact, my mom also loved Donna Dewberry.  She does cool things with acrylic paints.

Saturday was Tj's birthday and after dinner and a movie, we did what any kid-free couple does on a Saturday night at 8:00, we went to Lowes.  We went to look at ceiling tiles and price drywall for the kitchen, but with my parents being house painters, I'm always drawn to the wall of paint chips.  I love paint colors so much, I have a board on Pinterest dedicated to it.  I was looking for paint for the lower kitchen cabinets and here's what I found.

I realize they're all in the same color family, but I have a hard time settling on just one.  I've even considered chalk paint, but I am a little intimidated by the whole process.

In the next few days, I'm going to start taking down cabinet doors for cleaning and sanding.  Hopefully, I'll have one part of the kitchen completely done.  Everyone keeps saying we're going to have a rough winter and I'm counting on some snow days to get things really done.

I bought this sign at Hobby Lobby months ago and it's just been perched on top of our hutch in the dining room.  This sign is my kitchen inspiration.  Any thoughts on my colors?  Or chalk paint?

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