Posts Tagged ‘food’

Eat your heart out, Willy Wonka!

Most of the time, I’m a pretty good mom.  That’s not to say I haven’t had moments of EPIC FAILURE in that department, but my kids will even admit – to perfect strangers, nonetheless – that as a mom, I’m certainly above the 50th percentile.

And then there are days like today, when I totally nail it…and stick the landing, to boot.  Hit it out of the park.  Serve up an ace.  Out-kick my coverage.  When it’s a slam dunk.  When I *know* I rocked it.  When I get to hear things like, “You’re the BEST MOM EVER!” and then get covered in slobbery smooches and treated to great big bear hugs and rib-crushing squeezes.

So what did I do to deserve these accolades?  What great feat did I accomplish to deserve such raving reviews from my harshest critics?  What amazing achievement provided this ego-inflating boost and hoisted me to this grand pedestal?

Well, if you’ll allow me a little chest-thumping and swagger-stepping, I’ll show you.  It’s this:

Yeah, that’s my beautiful, sweet, spirited, precious, amazing daughter.  I’m always proud of THAT accomplishment, believe me.  But really, this time it’s not so much about her but rather what she’s holding.  She is holding her homework project for this week, which she and I spent most of a rainy Saturday and a sunny Sunday afternoon putting together.

It’s her very own Chocolate Lover’s Cookbook.  I don’t know what makes me prouder: the fact that she made a cookbook, or that it’s all about CHOCOLATE!!

She came home on Monday with a project list based on the book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. One of the projects was to create a Chocolate Lover’s Cookbook.  I had just finished making a prayer journal at the Christ Fellowship Women’s Retreat (thanks to the creative and uber-organized Renee Lewis) and thought this would be the perfect way to create something very special for Crisana.  Something that went beyond “just” a homework project, but something that would become a treasured keepsake, something she could enjoy and add to throughout the years, something I could hold on to and give to her as a housewarming gift in her first apartment…or as a gift for her wedding.

I actually purchased the papers and ribbons, but bought a little extra to give her some creative choices.  She did a great job helping me cut all the papers, run the letters through the Xyron, adhere the cover and binding, and put all the recipes inside.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have the miracle “YES” glue that Renee had recommended, so we ended up using plain old Elmer’s white glue.  And that made the paper wrinkly.  But if beauty is in the eye of the beholder, Crisana thought this was a masterpiece.  And she absolutely had a blast spreading the white glue with her fingers all over the cover of the composition book.

Inside the front cover, I had every intention of making a Table of Contents or a dedication page explaining when and why this book was created.  Unfortunately, I ran out of time for this assignment, but when we get the book back, I will be sure to add that inside.  I want her to always remember the love I spoke to her through every step of this project, and how much I enjoyed the time we spent together making it.

We collected recipes online through email and Facebook, as well as the old-fashioned way, culling through our many cookbooks.  But I wanted to be sure to include special recipes that our family has enjoyed and that have meaning to her.  She was so excited to see that we had included Trey’s specialty – these Gobbler Goodies – and the Chocolate Pretzel Rings she helps me make every Christmas.  She spoke over and over how one day she will tell her children about these recipes and show them what their Uncle Trey looked like when he was a child.

Of course, we were sure to include a bookmark, as well as several recipes from Mom, the Original Chocolate Lover.  Every recipe is a testimony to the love I have for all things chocolate (except chocolate cake…go figure) but also the love I have for this little girl, who surpasses the sweetness of chocolate, who makes my life far richer than any decadent chocolate dessert, and who fills my heart with far more joy than any candy bar ever could.

Tricked-out Treats

Yesterday was our neighborhood’s National Night Out and as we always do, we hosted a friendly competition for the food.  Neighbors bring finger food in various categories and we do a secret ballot to determine the winners in each.  This year, the kids decided to outdo the parents!

Crisana settled on Black Cat Cupcakes.  She helped with every step, mixing the batter, baking the cupcakes, and setting them out to cool.  Even though Mom helped a bit with the frosting and decorating, Crisana was actively involved in the entire process.  And just look at how cute they came out:

She was so proud to show off her creations:

Not to be outdone, Trey made his own special festive treats.  We first made these Gobbler Goodies 2 years ago for a pack campout, and we’ve ended up making them every year since.  Each time, he’s taken more and more ownership of the process and can probably make them on his own next year.  This was probably our best batch ever:

Trey was very excited and proud to share them at the get together:

But we have some very creative neighbors as well, so the competition was fierce:

Crisana ended up winning her division for her cupcakes, and although Trey came up empty-handed we were proud of our creative bakers and enjoyed the fruit of their labors!

South Beach Update: Fried!

Howdy, Folks!  And welcome to the great State Fair of Texas!

Okay, so the State Fair doesn’t start for another 3 weeks but that doesn’t mean my taste buds aren’t already a-waterin’ with a hankerin’ for some good ol’ down-home Southern-fried treats.  And the best place to enjoy those artery-cloggin’ deep fried goodies is – you guessed it – at the State Fair.

If this transplanted Yankee has learned nothing else in the years I’ve called myself “Texan”, I can claim to fully understand this: Southerners can fry ANYTHING.  And I do mean ANYTHING.  If it grows, sows, or blows, they can fry it.  If it breathes, bleeds, or has teeths, they can fry it.  If it hops, drops, or flops, they can fry it.

Oh, and they can pickle anything, too.  But that’s a different blog post.

See, Northerners don’t FRY stuff.  They BOIL it.  They STEW it.  They ROAST it.  Have you ever heard of New England FRIED dinner?  How about a traditional New England Open-Faced FRIED Beef Sandwich?  Or better yet, how about New England Lobster FRY?  Those sound like someting on the menu at Hardee’s that should come with a large sweet tea and hash browns and pickled fried okra on the side.

But even in the South, we have our own chicken-fried heaven.  A beacon of bacon grease shining forth it’s golden light for all to see: the State Fair of Texas.  THE place to go for anything fried.

Don’t believe me?  Just check out this year’s winner of this year’s Big Tex Choice Awards: for best taste we have FRIED Frito Pie (because Frito’s are apparently not fried enough), and for most creative we have FRIED Beer.  Yes, you heard me right:  fried BEER.

Just in case you still need further proof, you can check out this post from a couple years ago, listing all the fried delicacies that were available in Big Tex’s backyard.

Into Africa, Part Deaux: Day 3

DATELINE: Gulu, Uganda.  8:02 P.M.  That’s 12:02 P.M. CST for those of you keeping score at home.


Today, we made it to Gulu!

Because things have begun to settle down after the bombings in Kampala, the VoH board decided to have us drive after all.  Charles-the-Driver (not to be confused with the Charles of Rose-and-Charles fame) arrived to pick us up…with Asunta!!  It was SO GOOD to see them again! Read the rest of this entry »

Spring is in the Air!

Yep, it’s officially springtime in Texas.  The signs are undeniable: it’s light until nearly 8 P.M.  Daytime temps are consistently above 70.  The lawns are greening up. The pear trees are blooming.  Everything and everyone is covered in a nice hazy shade of pollen.  I even saw my first bluebonnets of the season in the median beside Central Expressway.

That can only mean one thing: it’s time for the annual OTGAT Spring Fling!

We do this get-together once a quarter.  Unfortunately, last spring due to scheduling conflicts and my husband having cancer and my mind being way too preoccupied, we weren’t able to have The Fling.  And because I was traveling over the Christmas holidays I missed the Christmas Tea.  So it had been nearly six months since I had seen these beloved friends, and two years since they had convened at my humble abode.

Therefore, this Fling had to be special.  The food had to be excellent.  The atmosphere had to be relaxing and comfortable. The decor had to be light and simple.

May I say, I rocked it.  You knew I would.

Now, I’m no Martha Stewart.  My table settings would never make it into a spread in Southern Living.  But I put together a menu that was downright fantastic, and all the pieces fell into place to make this one of the most enjoyable Saturday afternoons I’ve spent in a long time.

For several years, we taught together.  But over the past decade, life has taken us in many different directions.  Now some of us are retired.  Some are facing retirement.  Some have come out of retirement to work in a different environment.  We’ve celebrated weddings and births and new houses and grandchildren together.  We’ve shared tears as we’ve lost loved ones.  We’ve ooh’ed and aah’ed over pictures of trips and shared stories of adventures and the journeys we’ve taken.  We’ve laughed and commiserated over life’s ups and downs and the humor that each day holds.

And we left – after several hours – eagerly anticipating the next time we’ll all be together: at the Summer Cooler!

and for those interested, here are the recipes I used, all taken from the Taste of Home Celebrations Cookbook.

Read the rest of this entry »

Life’s a Picnic!

Well, at least it is once a year when you’re part of the Worship & Arts ministry at McKinney Fellowship!

We attended the second annual W&A family picnic at Springhill Retreat Center in Richardson.  We think it’s no small coincidence that they started having these affairs shortly after WE joined the church, but that’s a topic for another day.  Despite the heat and the fact that it was a holiday weekend, attendance was great.  And this year, we even knew a few people!

Trace does a great job of putting this all together.  There was plenty of fun for everyone.  Of course our kids had to get their faces painted…

There was a whole grilling ministry going on, with a great team of volunteers cookin’ up the dogs and burgers.

There were games for the kids…

And for the grownups, too…

But there was still plenty of time to hang out, relax, or just play in the sand with a friend…

Cookin’ on the Beach: Salad Sensation!

I’m notorious for trying new recipes.  In fact, the running joke at our house is that it doesn’t matter if we like what I’ve made because the chances of us ever having it again are slim to none.  While that is a slight exaggeration, it’s not too far from the truth.  But I do have to say that I’ve made this salad several times and every time I make it I get rave reviews.  In fact, some friends have gone so far as to request this salad at potlucks and get togethers.  It’s really easy to pull together and I generally have the ingredients on hand.  I discovered it when I was in a produce co-op and was getting lots of fresh cilantro on a regular basis.  I always enjoy making my own salad dressings, and though this one starts with a store-bought mix, it’s easily doctored and has a definite made-from-scratch taste.


Recipe from Taste of Home’s Quick Cooking Annual Recipes, 1999

Yields: 6-8 servings

8 C torn lettuce

1 C fresh cilantro or parsley, coarsely chopped

1 C sliced fresh mushrooms

2 medium tomatoes, chopped (or 15-20 grape tomatoes, halved)

1 medium carrot, shredded

2 radishes, sliced

1 envelope Italian salad dressing mix (I use Good Seasonings)

1 T minced fresh basil or 1 t dried basil

1 garlic clove, minced

In a large bowl, toss the lettuce, cilantro, mushrooms, tomatoes, carrot, and radishes.  Prepare salad dressing according to package directions; add basil and garlic.  Pour over the salad and toss to coat.

Cookin’ on the Beach: Is it lunchtime yet?

This month I will treat you to lunch-time recipes!  Most of the lunches on South Beach, particularly in Phases 1 and 2, are salads.  And believe me, we’ve eaten some pretty yummy – and some not-so-yummy-but-you-choke-it-down-because-you’re-hungry – salads.  The trick for us has been to make sure we include protein with the salads to help satisfy the hunger and keep us feeling full longer.  So enjoy!


Recipe from Taste of Home’s Quick Cooking Annual Recipes 1999

Yields: 4 servings

1/4 C olive oil

2 T cider vinegar

4 t sugar (or 4 packets Splenda)

1/2 t salt

1/4 t pepper

4 C torn salad greens

3/4 C sliced zucchini

2 medium carrots, sliced

2 celery ribs, sliced

2 green onions, sliced

1 T whole almonds, toasted

1 T sesame seeds, toasted

In a jar with tight-fitting lid, combine the first 5 ingredients and shake well.  In a large salad bowl, combine greens, zucchini, carrots, celery, and onions.  Just before serving, add dressing and toss to coat.  Top with almonds and sesame seeds. (I use more than what the recipe calls for)

I have added leftover chicken to this salad and it is wonderful.  The nuts also add in some protein, so by adding more nuts I can make it more of a main-dish salad.  If you can, make the dressing a few hours or so in advance to allow the flavors to blend.

South Beach Update – Givin’ Thanks on the Beach

Yeah, right.

No way did I serve South Beach “Surprise” Mashed Potatoes at my Thanksgiving, or grilled sweet potatoes, or whole-wheat rolls or any of those oh-so-healthy and carb-light dishes.  No, sirree.  I made the real thing.  Real mashed potatoes, ooey-gooey-marshmallowy sweet potatoes with real sugar and real butter, pumpkin pie with real whipped cream, apple pie with TWO crusts, green beans laden with cream sauce and fried onions.  Oh, yeah, I did it up right.

And enjoyed every single bite….and came back for more.

For the first time in years, my pants didn’t feel excruciatingly tight after the meal.  For the first time in years, I still fit into my clothes the day after Thanksgiving.  And for the first time in years, I enjoyed the meal without feeling guilty or regretting indulging.

Why?  Because over the weekend I got back on track.  I enjoyed leftover turkey on salads or in a broth-based soup with vegetables and beans.  I cooked smart this year and made enough to enjoy without tons of leftovers.  So next week I am confident I’ll be back on the losing track.  And good thing, too, since Matt begins his chemo diet.  I have to find a way to keep up somehow!

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