Tuesday, November 30, 2010
(Just South of 121 on Preston; on the EAST side of Preston)
NYC has its charms. And its reputations. Maybe you haven't heard about the curt personalities rumored to dominate the Eastern seaboard. It's not necessarily true but it is the word on the street.
Good news, the people at Goodfellas Woodfired Pizza in Plano take that rumor to the next level! Not only is the service atrocious, the pizza is sub-par at best. My mom was in town and we took the boys there for lunch at an off time, 2pm. The hostess was fine, not overly friendly but not overly rude either. The waitress, whose name we were never given, was distracted, inept, and without any sense of urgency. You would think in an area dominated by restaurants and being one of two tables with customers in the restaurant, we would be treated a little better. Not so much. The owner himself was tossing pizzas which seemed like a good sign. After being told we couldn't have bread for my one year old, flighty-mc-flighterson waitress lady brought some out like she was doing us some kind of favor.
Aside from the terrible service, the pizza itself was mediocre. There are many other places in the Metroplex that serve a better piece of pie. Better crust, better ingredients, better everything. So, needless to say, save yourself the trip and skip Goodfellas. If all of that didn't convince you then walking out of the restaurant, the owner was walking in and looked right at us without a thank you or good day. Too bad for you buddy, we're out.
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Sommer's Sweet Potato Bake (*For Kwanzaa)
The Lady & Sons Savannah Country Cookbook
- 3 cups peeled, cooked, and mashed sweet potatoes
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Mix all ingredients together except for cream. Beat with an electric mixer until smooth. Add cream; mix well. Pour into greased casserole dish. Add topping. Bake for 25-30 minutes.Topping Ingredients
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1 cup walnuts, chopped
- 1/3 cup flour
- 3 tablespoons butter, melted
Mix together with fork; sprinkle over top of casserole before baking.
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Now that we are officially in the holiday swing, I bring you, Happy Holiday Tip #2!
Rather than spend your annual budget on gifts this year, I challenge you to put some real planning and thoughts into your gifts. Two of my favorite places where you don't need a sale but are sometimes lucky enough to discover fabulous clearance items are: MARSHALLS and HOME GOODS. I adore the people who work at Marshalls at Park & Preston but for efficiency purposes, there is also one located caddy corner from Home Goods at Coit & Campbell.
What you can find at Marshalls includes but is not limited to:
- A wide variety of inexpensive childrens' books (titles you've heard of, not some low-budg book no kid wants)
- Yankee & Village brand candles
- Ralph Lauren children's clothing
- Various state appropriate team paraphernalia
- BCBG & Juicy jump suits for you North Dallas mamas
- Polo shirts and sweaters for the gentlemen in your life (*Saves you from hiking up to the outlet in Allen which always seems to be a production)
What you can find at Home Goods includes but is not limited to:
- Wonderful cookware
- A plethora of cookbooks (*Many from my dear friend Ina, or as you may know her the Barefoot Contessa)
- Melissa & Doug children's toys and puzzles
- Seasonal decor
- Great bath linens, especially in the kid department
- Gourmet food items
So, go out there, get excited, and get creative! Rather than just a candle for your friend/acquaintance, get a little color theme going and include thank you notes and a travel size hand lotion to throw in her purse. For your gourmet friend who by "gourmet" means "pick it up at Central Market" get a colorful colander filled with exotic drink mixes, fancy snacks, and fun candy. For your daughter's little friend who is every bit a princess, her own lovely bath towel in her favorite hue with a pretty travel bag filled with lip gloss and nail polish.
Stop by one of those stores and see what you think. I know you'll enjoy it!
Sunday, November 21, 2010
Mimi's Cranberry Apricot Bread
- 1 Package Pillsbury Cranberry Quick Bread
- 1/2 cup chopped Dried Apricots
- 1 cup Water
- 1 Egg
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease entire pan and flour bottom of pan only. Combine all ingredients until moistened. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 45-55 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool in pan on rack for 15 minutes.
Thursday, November 18, 2010
I found this wonderfully easy recipe in one of my favorite cookbooks, The Sopranos Family Cookbook. With my cultural identity crisis, we became quickly addicted to the show The Sopranos. Some of our neighbors bought the cookbook for us as a Christmas gift many years ago and I am happy to report that Tony and Carmela would be pleasantly surprised at this girl's Italian kitchen. (I hope so at least)
You can make this dish and the only other thing you need is a salad or a vegetable. It's easy on the budget, the kitchen, and since it cooks for a long time, it gives you plenty of time to get ready for your dinner guests and enjoy that nice glass of chianti. Or, if you have young children, gives you plenty of time to help them put the Legos away and find the missing light sabres.
Baked Chicken with Potatoes, Lemon, and Oregano
Adapted from The Sopranos Family Cookbook
- 4 lemons (original recipe calls for 2)
- 3 1/2 pounds of chicken cut up or a mix of your favorite chicken pieces (breast, thigh, etc)
- 3 medium potatoes peeled and cut into wedges
- 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
- 2-3 teaspoons dried oregano
- 4 garlic cloves chopped
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
Squeeze the juice from 2 lemons and slice the other 2.
Put the chicken and potatoes in a baking pan large enough to hold them in a single layer. Mix the lemon juice, oil, oregano, garlic. Salt and pepper to taste. Pour over the chicken and potatoes and turn the pieces to coat evenly. Tuck the lemon slices and potatoes in between the chicken pieces.Bake the chicken for 45 minutes. Baste with the pan juices. Continue to bake, basting occasionally, for 15 to 30 minutes longer, or until the chicken is browned and the potatoes are tender.
Transfer the chicken, potatoes, and lemon slices to a serving platter. Tip the pan and skim off the fat. Pour the juices over the chicken and serve.
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Today we will have Happy Holiday Tip #1! THE MIGHTY LIST
As Black Friday looms in the distance (not too distant, since it's next week), I am happy to report that I too have become a bit addicted to said day. Or said middle of the night really. I grew up with a Mom who was definitely not going out at 3am for any kind of good deal so when my sister and I decided to try it two years ago, it was quite novel. We had NO idea the freakshows we would witness first hand (*best one will be found at Walmart). And now, we are the freakshows! Granted, this year my sister will be in Colorado and I will be here in Texas so we will venture out without our teammate into that dark night.
But this year, I am making some changes. The last two years, I relished in the ads and made somewhat of a list but went more for entertainment value than anything else. This year, I am not even cheating by checking the ads online. I am waiting until they come out in good old fashioned newspaper print to see the deals that await me. I will go, I will shop, I will triumph!
If you are wondering how my Tip #1 will tie into the insanity that is Black Friday, do not worry it's coming. As a reformed full price shopper, the true deals in my book are the ones you were going to buy anyway. Not buying something just because it was on sale. That is just ludicrous. Plan ahead ladies, make your lists now. You never know what you are going to come across and even having just a list of who to buy for is better than no list at all. Spread out that shopping and your bank account and sanity will thank you.
Rather than drag yourself through the retail nightmare Christmas Eve Day, buying whatever is in front of you so that poor gift recipient can return it December 26, take a little time. Your list will help you. Isn't that why we give gifts, to show our love and appreciation? Not the, I love you but could only find this at Walgreens type of gift? Challenge yourself to be an organized, creative, budget conscious, and thoughtful gift giver this year. And the magical list is the foundation of it all friends.
Sunday, November 14, 2010
This recipe is from one of my new favorite cookbooks which is all about family traditions in your kitchen. I had a puffed pancake for the first time when visiting my boys godmother, M, in Minneapolis a couple of years ago. I thought my five year old would get a kick out of watching the batter transform in the window of our oven and sure enough, he did! I also got to use what is now one of my favorite kitchen tools, my new apple peeler! My husband picked it up for me at Harbor Freight Tools (random) and it was less than $20. Best ever! Not only did it clamp easily onto the lip of my counter, it peeled, cored, and SLICED the apples in no time flat!! Hand crank apple peeler, that's what I'm talkin about folks. Make this for your immediate clan for a special Sunday breakfast and you'll be shocked at how easy it. You'll want to serve it the next time friends sleep over.
Puffy Apple Oven Pancake
Maria Helm Sinskey & Williams-Sonoma
- 2 baking apples (I used honeycrisp) peeled, cored, and sliced
- 2/3 cup flour
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons sugar (I think it needs more, so try 4 tablespoons)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 4 large eggs
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled PLUS 4 tablespoons more
- confectioners' sugar for dusting or maple syrup
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In small bowl stir together flour, cinnamon, sugar, and salt. In stand mixer or blender, combine eggs, milk, vanilla, and the 2 tablespoons melted & cooled butter and mix until smooth. Add flour mixture just enough to make a smooth batter.
In an ovenproof 10 inch saute pan, melt 3 tablespoons of the butter over medium-high heat. When butter begins to brown, add the apples and cook turning as needed until golden on all sides, about 5 minutes. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon butter and heat until it is melted and bubbling. Pour batter over the apples and immediately transfer the pan to the oven.
Baked until puffed and golden, about 20 minutes. When you remove and handle pan make sure to use an oven mit. I didn't once it was out of the oven and that was not smart. Dust with sugar if desired. Serve directly from pan. It will look like a big bowl, all puffed up around the sides. The batter becomes a thick/dense custard consistency which is wonderfully delicious with the tang of the apples. Happy Breakfast!
Friday, November 12, 2010
Maybe you swore you and your hubby would always be like that. But let's be honest friends, it's near impossible to keep that level of gushiness going once you throw kids, bills, sleep deprivation, and face it... familiarity, into the mix. I believe we make a trade when we marry somebody. We swap those stomach butterflies and lovey-dovey-all-the-time stuff for comfort and love and friendship. Not a bad deal but if you think you're the exception to the rule and I'm wrong, good for you. And, I think you're lying.
My husband and I will celebrate our 8th wedding anniversary in February and while time has indeed flown by, I can't remember a time without him. We have been very blessed in our marriage but we have also had our challenges too. Year five was the WORST. Now that we're on the other side of that, I try to think how I can make it better. I know we will have hard times in the future but how can I minimize that?
One thing I have seen in my parents who are both officially "DATERS", is the willingness to do for their significant other what they stopped doing in their marriage. Trying new things, being excited about what the other person is excited about (even if you're not), and making the other person feel important. It's refreshing to see them in this light but it also leaves me wondering, when do we as married couples stop trying to do a little dating with our spouse now and then? So my challenge to you lovely ladies is to be the girlfriend more often. Whatever that means for you and your hubby, fantastic. Try to do something you did as a girlfriend that you don't do quite as often, or at all, anymore.
I think you'll find that your hubby is pleasantly surprised and it helps have that connection revitalized when you're running a child to soccer, figuring out whose parents to spend what holiday with, switching the laundry, mowing the lawn, and just "raising a family" as my friend T used to say. We can't go back to the dater world, well I guess you could but that's not exactly what I am encouraging here. But we can be better as wives and throw a little girlfriend in the mix every now and again.
Thursday, November 11, 2010
Anywho, we now live far away from the wonderful food my husband grew up on and we won't begin to try and explain why TexMex is not Mexican food if you don't already understand that. Without the family recipes to work with, I had to come up with my own and here is what we've got. Don't be confused that this GREEN chile is actually RED. That's how my husband likes it and that's the way his great grandmother made it.
For you Texans, Green Chile can be eaten a hundred different ways. At our house it goes in and on burritos, in a bowl with everything or nothing, on eggs & fried potatoes, or you can dip chips in it! The best of all worlds! So, try it, enjoy it, and think of your white friend Austin who is married to the only Chiconky you know!
Mexican by Marriage Green Chile
- Lard/Vegetable Oil
- 2-3lb Pork stew meat (Buy whatever is cheapest and they always have pre-cut pork meat)
- 1/2 Onion, diced
- 4 cloves Garlic, minced
- 6 7oz cans Diced Green Chiles
- 6 Jalapenos (*I leave the seeds in for our family but seed a couple of them if you want to take the sting out)
- 3 15oz cans Tomato Sauce
- 2 tablespoons Chile Powder
- 2 tablespoons Cumin
- 32oz Chicken Stock
Heat a couple tablespoons of oil/lard in LARGE pot over medium heat. Add pork, onion, and garlic. Cook for a few minutes until meat is about half way cooked. You can also add a couple of tablespoons of flour at this point if you want a thicker sauce.
In your blender or food processor, puree green chiles and jalapenos. Add mixture to pork in large pot. Stir in tomato sauce, chili powder, cumin, chicken stock, and salt to taste.
It is best to cook this recipe all day the day BEFORE you want to serve it. So put it on Saturday morning if you want to eat it Sunday night. After it cooks all day, put it in the fridge in the same pot and then put it back on the stove in the morning. You can add chicken stock as needed if it reduces too much. You will notice the heat increases each day. Spicy spicy! From our family to yours!
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Thank Heaven for little boys. I know, different than the rhyme you remember. But seriously. Visiting stores like Janie & Jack at Northpark is a surefire way for me to remember why having a little girl would make me broke. Literally.
When you are out and about shopping this Holiday season, stop in to Janie & Jack and ask for Miss Victoria. A delightfully warm woman whose sincere love for children radiates from her effortless smile and kind ways, she is more than just a lady peddling fine children's clothing. She is helpful, soft spoken, and simply elegant.
Janie & Jack are the purveyors of children's clothing as they were meant to be; you know, the kind that make your children look the age they are not the age they want to be. And for you parents of little girls, all the more important. Yes, they are pricey, but always have a good sale or sale rack present. And who can resist the perfectly appointed cobalt dress with taffeta underneath? Perfect for twirling. A girl needs the ideal twirling dress, at every age.
So pop in and see what's available and enjoy the quality, craftsmanship, and Miss Victoria who doesn't seem to mind at all if you only buy a pair of tights. Cheers.
Monday, November 8, 2010
Pasta with Sun-Dried Tomatoes
Barefoot Contessa Family Style
- 1/2 pound fusilli pasta
- Olive Oil
- 1 pound ripe tomatoes, medium diced
- 3/4 cup good black olives, pitted and diced (*I left these out)
- 1 pound fresh Mozzarella, medium diced
- 6 Sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained and chopped
For the dressing
- 5 Sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained
- 2 tablespoons Red Wine vinegar
- 6 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 Garlic clove, diced
- 1 teaspoon Capers, drained
- 2 teaspoons Salt
- 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground Pepper
- 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan
- 1 cup packed Basil leaves, julienned
Cook the pasta in large pot of boiling salted water with a splash of olive oil. Boil for 12 minutes. Drain well and allow to cool. Place pasta in a bowl and add the tomatoes, olives, mozzarella, and chopped sun-dried tomatoes.
For the dressing, combine the sun-dried tomatoes, vinegar, olive oil, garlic, capers, salt, and pepper in a food processor until almost smooth.
Pour the dressing over the pasta, sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese and basil, and toss well.
Sunday, November 7, 2010
The Chi Omega Christmas Market held annually in Dallas benefits so many wonderful charitable organizations. I am very proud to call myself a Chi Omega always, but especially at this time of year when so many of my hard working sisters put together such a fabulous and philanthropic event! Nice job ladies! This year, after many years of absence, I spent a great day shopping the market with cherished friends.
One of the MANY incredible vendors was ME & RE DESIGN. They have custom melamine products you just have to check out! Everything from plates to luggage tags (*fabulous) and beyond! All customizable and very chic! The two gals in charge of this little setup were also fab and I am happy to feature them here! Please check them out at:
They ship everywhere and your friends and family will be quite impressed at the unique and thoughtful gift!
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
One of my "other mothers" from my younger years, Mama Melissa, made a wide variety of delectable dishes including this wonderful soup. I have many memories of our families together. Many meals, fun family vacations, and a plethora of backyard moments. Serve this soup to good friends with crusty baguette and good bottle of wine. Enjoy!
Mama Melissa's 5 Can Soup
- 15oz can chopped tomatoes
- 28oz can crushed tomatoes
- 15oz can seasoned black beans
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 4oz can chopped green chiles
- Handful of frozen core
- 1 cup of cooked chicken cut up (using the rotisserie from the deli is SUPER easy)
Combine all ingredients and simmer for a couple of hours.
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
Try this. Throw on your jeans and a sweatshirt and head to your favorite shopping center, the non-ghetto kind. Willow Bend and the Galleria are great but if you're really up for it, head over to Northpark Center.
I guarantee what you will find 80% of the time is a lack of customer service. GUARANTEED. Why you ask? Because the hourly retail workers (which is only a derogatory term when said individuals behave as follows) are sure you can't and won't buy anything. Not only that, they have been trained to think it's acceptable to act like they are better than the paying customer.
And who have they been trained by? YOU. That's right. By continuing to shop there, continuing not to say anything, and continuing to be over the top nice to the sales associate in hopes they acknowledge you, you have said their behavior is OK.
Normally there are exceptions to the rule. Stores like Nordstrom have a reputation to be un-Neimans-like but recently, I have found that not to be the case. The Nordstrom at the Galleria is beginning to bare an ugly resemblance to the Neimans at Northpark. Yikes people. Just like I am happy to tell you how wonderful the sales associate at Michaels (Park & Plano Pkwy) was this evening, I will no longer hesitate to challenge you to change what is acceptable behavior from people who are there because you are spending money with them. Do not diminish the importance of being friendly, always, and never snooty, but do not continue to enable this embarrassment in retail.
As the valued customer, you have the right to spend your money where it is deserved AND to wear what you want while doing so. As the employee who wants a job with a company that has not gone under due to lack of sales, you have the responsibility to earn your customers' business and never make assumptions about people based on their appearance. That older gentleman in overalls did just in fact pay cash for a new Lincoln... you just never know.
Monday, November 1, 2010
The funny story about this recipe is that my Mom gave it to my Aunt to make. Said Aunt is not the most skilled of chefs but pulled this one off and was so pleased she gave it to my Grandma. Well ever since then, my Grandma gives the recipe out as my Aunt's! Oh the pains this has caused in our family! Ha ha ha!
Hopefully it won't pain you any so throw the ingredients on your grocery list and get ready for a great Fall dish!
- 1 Pick of the Chick or whole chicken cut up. ( I LOATHE cutting up a whole chicken so if you don't you're a better woman than I. You can also pick a couple pounds of your favorite pieces to use in this, whether it's thighs, drumsticks, bone in breast or what have you.)
- Salt & Pepper
- 1/4 cup Vegetable Oil
- 1 bunch chopped Green Onion
- 2 cloves Garlic, chopped
- 1 can Chicken Broth
- 1/3 cup White Wine (My parents always told me never cook with something you wouldn't drink by itself)
- 2 tablespoons Dijon Mustard
- 3 tablespoons Flour
Wash chicken and season with salt, pepper, & paprika. Heat oil in LARGE frying pan and brown chicken on all sides. Add green onions and garlic. In a separate bowl, mix broth, wine, mustard, and flour. Whisk together. Pour grease off of chicken. Add mixture from bowl to pan. Cover and cook on low. Serve over rice or egg noodles.