Saturday, December 27, 2014

Checking In

First and foremost, HAPPY HOLIDAYS. 

Second. I realize I haven't posted much (really nothing at all this month) and I hope everyone can understand when I say I've just been busy. The holidays always seem to busy but I feel both busy and a little lost lately. 

In the last two months - aside from Thanksgiving and Christmas of course - I've hosted two baby showers, tried to start dating someone new, big events at work, trying to prepare for additional large events coming in the next few months, (re)learning how to live with three people in a tiny apartment, trying to not let others negativity and problems weigh my own life down and really just so much more. 

Anyway. This is just me saying I haven't disappeared. I'm looking to find inspiration somewhere-somehow (for life mostly) and hopefully that will trickle over into the blog as well. 

For now Happy Holidays and I hope everyone has a wiz-bang end of 2014!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Triple Chocolate Pudding Cookies.

I have to say when the weather changes to sweater-scarf-boot season the thing I get the most excited about isn't the holiday sales, snow days or the changing leaves (although those are a top runner up). No I get most excited for BAKING SEASON!! 

I don't even have to keep the goodies, and often take them to work or send them with my mother to her work. There's just something about pulling out my mixing bowl, apron and ingredients and getting down and dirty (i.e., covered in flour) that just get's me in the holiday mood. 

Recently I found this recipe on Pinterest and did some modifications - going from a double chocolate to a TRIPLE chocolate cookies. Yum yum.

Recipe. Click to enlarge.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Peanut Butter Chocolate Cupcakes

At my cousin Grace's baby shower we HAD to have peanut butter and chocolate cupcakes (her favorite flavor combination). I didn't want to just make chocolate cupcakes with a peanut butter frosting....everyone does that. What I wanted was a peanut butter cake with chocolate frosting!

Sadly I found very few recipes and even fewer I had time to try. So when in doubt, SEMI HOMEMADE it is!!

They came out delicious. Dense but airy still. I mixed a couple tablespoons of peanut butter in a standard chocolate frosting. The pumpkin toppers are because the theme was "Welcome Little Pumpkin".

Friday, November 28, 2014

Crockpot Apple Pork Loin

2 to 3 lb. boneless pork loin roast
2 tsp. cinnamon, divided
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 or 2 apples, cored and sliced (peel left on)
1 onion, peeled and left whole
1/4 c. apple cider, apple juice, chicken broth, or water

1. Cut slits, about 1/2 to 1 inch deep, across the top of the pork loin. Sprinkle all sides and inside the slits with salt, pepper, and 1 teaspoon of cinnamon. Put slices of apples into slits in the pork loin.

2. Scatter a few apple slices in the bottom of the slow cooker; pour in apple cider (or other chosen liquid). Place pork loin on top of apples. Fit remaining apple slices and onions around and on top of pork loin. Sprinkle with remaining 1 teaspoon cinnamon.

3. Cook on low setting for 2-3 hours depending on size of loin.

Adapted from original recipe located on The Kitchen is My Playground.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

DIY Chalkboard Signs

I've seen homemade chalkboards for the longest time on Pinterest and have just loved them. But I never had a "reason" to make one....or five....until the baby shower!!

So off to thrift stores for picture frames, Michael's to pick up chalkboard spray paint and masking tape.

Monday, November 24, 2014

DIY Garlands

Who needs to spends so much money on premade banners when you can buy a bulk of colored construction paper, cut into shapes, and make your own.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Baby Shower Game Gifts

I'm not much of a baby-shower game kinda girl. So for my cousin Grace's shower we put together a few activities that didn't include sniffing chocolate bars out of diapers. :S

We guessed how big around her belly was, how many Reeses candies were in a baby bottle, guessed the flavor of baby food and tested who could tie their shoes their fastest (with balloons under their shirts).

We also did a diaper raffle - where everyone brings a bag of diapers for the new parents and are entered into a raffle for a great prize (i.e. a bottle of wine in this case).

For the other games I put together little spa/pedicure kits for the winners. Everything was bought at the dollar store and turned out great!

A glass container, cotton balls, clear nail polish and a pedicure set....ta-da!! They were a hit!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

S'more Please

I found this idea on Pinterest and it was too cute to not do. My cousin Grace is creating a Brady Bunch family with her partner (both having children from previous marriages) so the idea of adding "S'more love to the family" was AAAA-DORABLE!!!

All it took was s'mores ingredients and a little gift box/bag to put them in. 

I also saw this adorable little phrase on Pinterest and inscribed it on a chalkboard

We put it all on a table near the entrance and folks were able to take them on their way out for an evening of ooey-gooey chocolatey s'mores.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

DIY Baby Shower

This past weekend I hosted a baby shower for my cousin Grace. She's giving me a little nephew in a few months, so we welcomed this little pumpkin in with style.

Homemade banners, Pinterest inspired favors, harvest decorations and a bruscetta bar were only some of the great little DIY projects I did.

Over the next few days I'll be posting a few blog posts showing the projects and steps.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Shrimp and Corn Bisque

While I was in Louisiana we had a delicious shrimp and crab corn bisque. So I gave it a try myself (sadly I couldn't find any crab so I made a shrimp and corn bisque) and it turned out pretty delicious!



4 small white potatoes, chopped small
1 32oz chicken broth
1 large shallot, diced small
1 TB minced garlic
2 TB butter
2 TB flour
1 can creamed corn
1 sm heavy whipping cream
1 lb shrimp, bite size
1 tsp chili powder
If desired Chinese Chili paste

Boil chopped potatoes in one inch of chicken stock. While boiling, saute shallots and minced garlic in small pan.

Once potatoes are par-cooked, add shallots, creamed corn and all but 1/2 cup of chicken broth.

In same pan you cooked shallots in, add butter and flour, cook slow and low until you have a nice golden roux. Once golden add remaining chicken broth and thin. Then add to potatoes and corn.

Add shrimp and let simmer until shrimp and potatoes are cooked. Then slowly whisk in whipping cream.

Finally season with salt, pepper and chili powder to taste. (I prefer a little extra heat so I add a 1/2 tsp of Chinese chili paste).

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Louisiana Cemeteries

One of my biggest hobbies is going to old cemeteries and taking photographs. I love the history, the architecture, the sculptures....I think the way a society treats their dead says a lot about them. While we were in Louisiana we went to seven different cemeteries

It was part of my favorite time in Louisiana...LOVED them all.

Magnolia Cemetery - Baton Rouge, LA
Broussard Cemetery - Lafayette, LA
Calvary Cemetery - Lafayette, LA
Lafayette Memorial Cemetery - Lafayette, LA
St. Joseph Cathedral & Cemetery - Lafayette, LA
Lafayette Cemetery No.1 - New Orleans, LA
St. Louis Cemetery No.1 - New Orleans, LA

Friday, November 7, 2014

Crockpot Meatloaf

Recently I attempted meatloaf in the crockpot and was pleasantly surprised by the moisture it retained. I always try something different when I make meatloaf - I'm not the biggest fan of meatloaf so if I can spice it up a little I do.

This time around I went with an Asian flavor profile - panko breadcrumbs, sweet chili sauce, and garlic inside the loaf with a hoison sauce glaze.

I lined the pot with tin foil to help make cleanup easier. And beneath the loaf is a layer of chopped onions and small fingerling potatoes.

After about only two hours I was able to take my meatloaf out (used a meat thermometer to test the meat) but let the potatoes and onions cook a bit longer.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Louisiana Vacation Day 4-6

The last days of my Louisiana Vacation.

Day 4: So much better. We had breakfast in the hotel restaurant, The Ruby Slipper (because after Katrina they came home to place like home), then headed out to our Double Decker red bus tour. Not only did we see the sights but we stopped at Lafayette Cemetery, Mardi Gras World and the French Market. After a brief nap we stumbled upon a great little Gastro Pub (Mom needed a burger). We were exhausted but it was a fabulous day

Day 5: Could have slept all day but we didn't. Instead my mother and I woke early, had coffee and beignets at Cafe du Monde before heading off to a Swamp Tour where I got to hold a baby alligator! 

Tomb of Marie Laveau

Then off to lunch at Antoine's (established 1840), before finishing the day on another boat - the Natchez - a steam wheeler cruising the Mississippi. 

Swung by the corner "Everything Store" for some last souvenirs and then back to the Pelham for a siesta. Last night in New Orleans and what's for dinner? Japanese!

Day 6: Our last day in Louisiana and before we head to the airport (for 12 hours of airports, layovers and flights) we swing by St. Louis Cemetery for one last dose of history. 

Monday, November 3, 2014

Louisiana Vacation Day 2 & 3

Continuation of the tales from Louisiana

Day 2 was lovely. We had breakfast at T'Freres (although it was reheated because they hadn't checked the messages to hear we would be late) and checked into the Holiday Inn. We spent the morning touring cemeteries and the afternoon rekindling old (and new) friendships while touring the region. Drove around Lafayette (both on our own in the morning and then later with friends).

While at one of the cemeteries I was standing taking a picture of a mausoleum and felt something on my leg. I brushed it away and didn’t think about it. Then I’m taking another picture and felt another bite. I looked down and my legs were SWARMING with fire ants!!!!!

Had a delicious dinner at Prejean's before snuggling into bed. Tomorrow we're heading to NOLA.

Day 3 we headed to the Acadian Village, which was darling and I couldn't wait to share pictures, for history culture and photo opportunities.

Then onto the southern route along sugar cane fields and bayou swamps. 

I saw my first alligator roadkill on the way to St Joseph's Sugar Plantation - family own and operated since 1870. As the tour came to a close the thunder & lightening started and the heavens opened up and we discovered that why yes that was a tornado warning in New Orleans. 

At some points there was zero visibility!! We got to the hotel safe, walked around the corner for a quick nosh at Chophouse Restaurant. However, we didn't beat the storm and scrambled back to the hotel like drowned rats. Tuesday was supposed to be 76 and sunny. Fingers crossed.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Louisiana Vacation Tell All

I thought it'd be fun to share with you some of the photos and stories about my recent trip to Louisiana.

Day 1: Any day that starts with waking up at four am isn't the greatest but we had such high hopes because of the end destination.

Aside from a butt-crack-of-dawn alarm, our day started with an a**hole taxi driver who yelled at me because he drove around the complex four minutes and couldn't read the apartment numbers.

Then there was our wheelchair aide, whom I affectionately named Skippy, who had us sitting for 10 minutes waiting for an empty wheelchair to be scanned by security. Yes folks, Mom went through but her chair didn't. Finally, after telling him our plane had started to board, Skippy found the courage the Wizard told him he had all along, and asked for the wheelchair to be processed. 

We hoped this would be the end until we met Crankzilla the Flight Attended that ate my soul.
Landing in Dallas wasn't so bad, except that there were no open restaurants and I had to walk a mile to buy a $7 cold deli sandwich.

After a gate door alarm sounded off every five minutes, a gate change, hailing a speeding golf cart, we finally encountered Azza, the best flight attendant I've had in years. She didn't want to be flying, continued to call the 50-something man in front of us "the child", demanded we all take a nap on the flight so she didn't need to help us, she said she wasn't allowed to hit passengers but then walked three more rows and I'm pretty sure hit someone. Maybe this trip was looking up?

WRONG! We landed in Baton Rouge to find we landed but our luggage (with not only our clothes, but phone power cords and Mom's medication) didn't make it. I did have two (semi) helpful assistants who broke the news to Mom, as I coward behind them.

So we decided to head off to visit the Magnolia Cemetery first and then find dinner while we waited for the last flight of the night (that apparently had out luggage); except apparently the city of Baton Rouge closed at five pm. The restaurant we did find had beautiful hush puppies but that was about it, my shrimp had their poop-shoots and the catfish tastes like mildew.

After dinner we headed back to BTR. Five hours later and three trips to the airport we finally were reunited with our long lost luggage. Thank Goddess.

Lafayette here we come. Hello Aaah! T'Frere B&B....hello twenty steep narrow stairs, bathtub with no shower head, bedroom door that doesn't lock and Goldilocks beds (one too soft, one too hard). Well day one is over.

We hoped the day include hopes of a better day...and a Holiday Inn.

PS. The melted mud pie is a very good visual for our day.