Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Christmas in a Cup

It's the most wonderful (and expensive) time of year!!! You are very lucky you aren't hearing me sing right now. My children wish they were you.

So, no matter what holiday you celebrate this time of year, we all are giving gifts! I literally could wrap and listen to Christmas music for days people, days. Some of my shopping is very specific but there is always the exception. For the parties/events/people on your calendar/shopping list who require a more general gift, here is one I gave today at a PTA Board Holiday Luncheon.

Christmas in a Cup

- 4 (or 2 if on a strict budget) holiday old fashioned (size not necessarily style) glasses - I found AWESOME glasses at Marshalls for $2.99 a piece

- Bottle of Prosecco/Champagne

- Bottle of Cranberry Pomegranate Juice

- Bag of Fresh Cranberries.

- Christmas card/card stock with instructions as follows:

Christmas in a Cup

Place bag of cranberries in freezer.

Mix two parts Prosecco with one part juice.

Cover bottom of glasses with frozen cranberries.

Pour, toast, enjoy!

As you can see, nothing fancy, just a little different from the standard candle/lotion/I-don't-know-you-well-enough-to-pick-something-out gift. I have to put this in the Honey section because of Marshalls and all of their fabulousness but it really is just a little fun for your creative housewife mind! Cheers!

On the 90 Day Challenge front, 5 days in, 3 pounds gone. This is over a weekend with a hubby birthday and a good amount of vino! Check it out... http://azgwinning.bodybyvi.com/

Friday, December 2, 2011

Jump Start

You know me by now. At least a little if not way TOO much. I like to check things off of my list, I like to work hard, and I am a perfectionist. With faults. Many. You also know I spend most of my time in the low-carb world. Always working, trying, losing, gaining, to be the best version of myself. Whatever that may mean.

As of today, I am embarking on what I know will be a great adventure to propel me towards old goals, new goals, and wonderful wonderful things! Half way to the infamous "goal weight" I was introduced to a Challenge I am now sharing with you. Consider it my ultimate accountability tool. You! My fabulous (and very lean) husband is also doing the Challenge with different goals, but committed to it none the less.

My plan is to share it by writing to you. In all of your fabulousness, you now get to read the daily doings of this adventure. I will continue to cook, clean, scrutinize customer service, and improve my wifely-self but all while going forward with gusto on my 90 Day Challenge. Thanks for being my accountability, even though you didn't know you agreed to it.

I will also update the site:

Cheers friends and supporters, rest assured wine will be included on this journey!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Grandma's Sweet Potatoes

Thanksgiving is next week. Just so you know. We all have our favorites and family traditions. This is one that I grew up with and always has a spot on our holiday table. It's basically a dessert parading around as a "vegetable side".

Grandma's Sweet Potatoes

  • 6-8 sweet potatoes peeled & cut into quarters

  • Whole Milk

  • Butter

  • Sugar

  • Mini marshmallows

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Boil sweet potatoes until done - test by piercing with a fork. Mash to desired consistency with milk, butter, and sugar to taste. Spread into a greased 9x13 pan. Top with marshmallows. Bake for 20 minutes or until marshmallows are a golden brown.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Rugs to Riches

Referrals are the best. Ever. Especially when they surpass your already lofty expectations!

We are in the middle of a complete remodel (I'm talkin serious time commitment people) and while the upstairs is "this" close to completion, we won't start the main floor until post-holiday spending, I mean celebrating concludes. So.... long story short, I needed two rooms with carpets to be cleaned because I just couldn't take it any longer. And, the carpet replacement is way down the line since I picked the couture carpet (which doesn't make an ounce of sense since my own clothes come from Target).

Enter the fabulous neighbor, TC, and her fabulous carpet man!!! Ray Waits is the owner of Rugs to Riches. Back in Colorado, we lived and died by our carpet man, Mark (owner of White Stallion Carpet Cleaning) who while never on time, was the nicest, most affordable, and amazing carpet man. TC swore that Ray was the same so after seeing his work first hand at her place, I gave him a shout. Good thing for this a-type (and for him really), I knew he wouldn't be on time or call back right away. But I stuck with it! And boy did it pay off. He is nice as can be and such a hard worker. Our IVORY (clearly the previous owners didn't have children or kept them locked in the shed) carpet in our family room and master bedroom looks F-AMAZING. He removed one mystery stain and another not-so-mysterious stain wherein my two year old poured my coffee on the carpet. You get the point.

If you live in DFW, want your carpet to look fab for the holidays, and don't have millions in the bank (even if you do), CALL RAY.

Ray Waits

Rugs to Riches


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Sweet Potato Pie

Brief but important. I grew up in Colorado. I live in Texas. There is an uncanny resemblance between Pumpkin and Sweet Potato Pie. I don't know why. Recent weeks have drawn me away from writing but even this short note to you brings a smile to my face. I like this recipe because it came out perfect (bake time altered) and didn't require pre-baking the pie shell. Which I LOATHE doing because I don't own pie weights but hope Santa will bring them this year. Thank you http://www.allrecipes.com/ for a wonderfully simple and delicious recipe which my six year old had two helpings of. Happy Fall!

Sweet Potato Pie

  • 1 (1 pound) sweet potato

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened

  • 1 cup white sugar

  • 1/2 cup milk

  • 2 eggs

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1 (9 inch) unbaked pie crust - See Cherry Pie recipe

Boil sweet potato whole in skin for 40 to 50 minutes, or until done. Run cold water over the sweet potato, and remove the skin.
Break apart sweet potato in a bowl. Add butter, and mix well with mixer. Stir in sugar, milk, eggs, nutmeg, cinnamon and vanilla. Beat on medium speed until mixture is smooth. Pour filling into an unbaked pie crust.
Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 55 to 60 minutes, or until knife inserted in center comes out clean (*It took WAY longer for my oven, like 80-85 minutes and I had to throw the trusty ol' pie collar on to protect my crust). Pie will puff up like a souffle, and then will sink down as it cools.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Lasagna - Testosterone Style

Mad Hungry; Feeding Men & Boys
Lucinda Scala Quinn
*Modified slightly.

  • 1lb lasagna noodles (I use the oven ready kind EVERY time so I am skipping the steps to boil, drain, etc that is in the original recipe)

  • 5 links sweet Italian sausage, or a mixture of hot and sweet, pierced with a fork

  • 1 large egg

  • 1lb ricotta (prefer the whole milk ricotta)

  • 3/4c freshly grated parmesan (recipe says you can use pecorino romano but we prefer parm)

  • 5 cups fave tomato sauce(I use my Mom's sauce recipe which I make on the weekend, cook with throughout the week, and freeze the extra. Lasagna will be best with a thick sauce.)

  • 1lb fresh mozarella, cut into 1/3 inch thick slices

  • olive oil for drizzling

*Again, I am skipping instructions if you don't use oven ready lasagna and love to boil your own noodles, you're on your own.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Fry the sausage links over medium-high heat until cooked through, about 10 minutes. Then cut links into disks and to continue to fry until crispy over low heat, about 20 minutes (I only cooked mine for a total of 20 and it was great). Drain off fat.

In medium bowl combine egg, ricotta, and 1/2c parmesan.

TO ASSEMBLE (make yourself a little station assembly line for easy assembly and clean up), grease bottom of glass 9x13 pan. Spread 1 cup of sauce in the bottom of dish, overlap one third of noodles atop the sauce to cover the pan bottom. Spread all the sausage over the noodles and spoon over another cup of sauce. Lay down second third of noodles and dollop all of the ricotta mixture on top of the noodles. Flatten with spoon to make an even layer. Top with remaining noodles to completely cover the cheese. Pour over 2 cups sauce to cover. Evenly lay all mozarella slices on top. Sprinkle remaining parm and drizzle with olive oil.

Bake uncovered for 60 minutes or until the lasagna is bubbling all over and lightly golden (original recipe said 40 minutes but no way was that what was happening in my oven). LET REST for 15 minutes before slicing. This was the first time in my lasagna making life I waited and it set up and came out so PERFECTLY! The patience paid off, thanks Lucinda! You can serve with extra cheese and sauce if desired.

I called it Lasagna-Testosterone Style because it came out so hearty and wonderful. All the boys at the table gobbled it up, young and young-ish. May have found my new go to lasagna recipe. If you make your sauce ahead, this is a snap to assemble in the morning or during nap time, then bake that evening. Heavenly smells abound and tummies will be growling! Ciao bella!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Spoiled Wife

It's not so much a recipe as a position I have. Or that I take. Either way. I have mentioned on more than one occasion how wonderful my husband is. As a father, as a friend, as well, everything. I often feel I am the short-end of the stick member of our team because the man literally NEVER complains about anything. He is the hardest working person I know, that many know, and is always going the extra mile.

So many times, it is I who receive the weekends away, the special presents, or extra TLC. And I have to ask myself, while I am in a fact a "spoiled wife", how do I make sure that he is a "spoiled husband"? Approaching our ninth wedding anniversary this February, I think I am much better at marriage now versus then. In my opinion, every successful team or partnership must have people who play their position well but also have overlap to avoid any shortcomings. My position has changed over the years as we have had our boys and I have become the "domestic engineer" (Thanks "Benny & Joon"). So has his. But one thing we both try to do is make the other's life easier.

That's where this position of mine comes in. For me to spoil him it's pretty easy, men are simple. It's the basic three which make him run at his optimum levels: clean house, good food, and some lovin. Now don't go getting crazy on me you gender equality proponents. You would be hard pressed to find ANY person, male or female, who wouldn't like to come home from work (outside the home) to a clean house/laundry, a satisfying meal, and some smooches. It's not about being husband & wife or bacon-earner & bacon-spender, it's about playing our positions. I am (95% of the time) happy to do what needs to be done with our children and our home because my husband is (99% of the time) engaged and thoughtful when he is home with us. That's our team.

So if spoiling your partner means fried chicken once a week and college football on Saturday afternoons then by all means take care of it. Let's put a little less "me time" in our marriage equations and little more "team effort" and see if we all don't come out on top? wink.wink.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Oil Change Extraordinaire

Kwik Kar Willow Bend

I'm a franchise girl. Not gonna lie. I'm a big believer that the franchise car dealers have the latest and greatest service technology. For both warranty and non-warranty work, the manufacturer dealer is the place to go.

However, for a quick oil change, I am happy to visit the convenient and trustworthy local shop. What a find I have for you today! If you live in far North Dallas or Plano, you should know about KWIK KAR WILLOW BEND. Located conveniently on Midway just North of Park, the folks at Kwik Kar Willow Bend were impressive from beginning to end. I dropped my two year old off for his Monday morning MDO and needed to accomplish quite a lot in three hours. My usual oil change stop was just not within the realm of efficiency today. I found Kwik Kar online and also printed a $5 coupon directly from their website.

I arrived around 9:10am and was greeted in my vehicle right away outside of the service bay area. The gentleman said he could get me right in and it would take TEN MINUTES!!! Sold! I went inside their clean and welcoming waiting area and was able to see my Expedition while it was serviced. Not only were they fast, but they went above and beyond by cleaning the inside of the vehicle, topping off the fluids, cleaning the windows, and more! With my coupon I paid $45 and will be going back, no questions.

The next time you need an oil change, stop by KWIK KAR WILLOW BEND!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Flank Steak Face Off

I'm surfing the no carb wave and am always excited to prepare food I can enjoy WITH my family and friends rather than make two meals. Go figure. One tried and true recipe my parents always made was for Flank Steak and while at Sam's Club earlier in the week, I picked up some flank steak knowing we had friends coming for dinner Sunday night (dangerously close to the end of my son's lacrosse game). The package I purchased had twice as much meat in it as the recipe called for. Brave (and confident our friends are good enough friends I could try something new on them), I decided to make two flank steak recipes. The family favorite from Colorado Cache Cookbook and then a new one I invented right then and there! Here are the two recipes, which are SO easy you won't believe it.

Marinated Grilled Flank Steak
Colorado Cache Cookbook

  • juice of 1 lemon

  • 1/2 c soy sauce (I only had 1/4c)

  • 1/4c or more dry red wine (OF COURSE I had enough so I used 1/2c to adjust for less soy sauce)

  • 3T vegetable oil

  • 2T Worcestershire sauce

  • 1 large clove garlic sliced (I used 3 and coarsely chopped them)

  • pepper to taste

  • chopped green onion or chives (optional- I didn't have either)

  • chopped dill (optional- I used a pinch of dried dill)

  • celery seed (optional- I used a pinch)

  • 1 1/2lb flank steak

Combine all ingredients in a ziploc bag (use two). Marinate all day or overnight. Heat grill and cook 5-6 minutes per side for medium rare. Make sure to slice meat diagonal across the grain and serve.

Austin's Spicy Asian Flank Steak

  • 1/2c thai chili garlic paste

  • 1/4c rice vinegar

  • 1/4c olive oil

  • 1T ginger powder

  • 1 3/4T toasted sesame oil

  • 3 large cloves garlic chopped

Combine all ingredients in a ziploc bag (use two). Marinate all day or overnights. Heat grill and cook 5-6 minutes per side for medium rare. Make sure to slice meat diagonal across the grain and serve.

The consensus in our kitchen was the new recipe won. I COULDN'T BELIEVE IT!! Try them out and you let me know which one wins at your house!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Paparazzi Pizza

Northwest corner of Josey & Keller Springs

Do you think living somewhere for four years make you a local? What about three and a half years in the late nineties and then four years now? Enough with the local babble, the reason I ask is because the term "local spot" always conjures up an intimate, under the radar eatery far from the chain infested ways of Belt Line road. Good news for you, local or not, I have found one! If you travel a little West of Far North Dallas on Keller Springs Road, you will stumble upon a fabulous family owned restaurant called PAPARAZZI PIZZA.

You will be welcomed by George & Dasha Kadado, a wonderful couple who make you feel right at home. Whether you enjoy some of their Mediterranean fare or one of their gourmet pizzas, you will not be disappointed. For those health gurus out there, you will be elated to know that Paparazzi works with only fresh, never frozen, ingredients. If all of that wasn't enough, be prepared to be whisked away to Europe with one of the FOUR languages they speak. Whether it's date night or a quick family dinner stop, PAPARAZZI PIZZA will leave the entire crew with happy and full tummies.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic

Barefoot in Paris

Ina Garten

Ah, a new dish for the repertoire. The first time I attempted this, it was SO time consuming that my note in the cookbook says, "Fabulous, NOT a week night dish." Not one to be discouraged, I decided to try this again, my way. So, the recipe below is my version (Housewife friendly), adapted slightly from the ever amazing Ina Garten.

  • 40 cloves peeled garlic (Sam's/Costco is your best friend now when purchasing the giant tub-o-peeled-fresh-garlic)

  • 3-4lbs chicken (pick your poison here, I used thighs with skin but whatever your family likes as long as it's bone in and skin on)

  • Salt

  • Freshly ground Pepper

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted Butter

  • 3 tablespoons Sherry, divided

  • 1 1/2 cups Dry White Wine (Leftover Pinot Grigio anyone? Cheers!)

  • 2 tablespoons flour

  • 2 tablespoons heavy/whipping cream

Dry chicken and season liberally with salt and pepper on both sides. Heat the butter in a large pot over medium/high heat. In batches if necessary, saute the chicken, skin side down, until nicely browned, about 3-5 minutes on each side. Turn with tongs careful not to pierce the skin. When all chicken is done, place on plate.

Add all garlic to the pot, lower heat and saute for 5-10 minutes, turning often until evenly browned. Add 2 tablespoons of the Sherry and all of the wine, return to a boil, and scrape the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Return the chicken to the pot with the juices, cover and simmer over the lowest heat for about 30 minutes, until all the chicken is done.

Remove the chicken to a platter and cover with foil to keep warm. In a small bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup of the sauce and the flour and then whisk it back into the sauce in the pot. Raise the heat, add the remaining tablespoon of Sherry and the cream and boil for 3 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Pour the sauce and garlic over the chicken and serve hot. (Goes great over rice, pasta, potatoes...)

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

The Mansion

15 minutes from home but a world away.

Being spoiled by a husband who works so tirelessly and is such a true partner in marriage and parenting almost makes one feel guilty about gifts and surprises. Almost. Now when a surprise is a night away with a girlfriend, how can you even begin to repay such generosity? We will leave that response to another post entirely. This is a time to focus on the surprise, the gift, the amazing night away. If you have not had the sheer pleasure of staying at THE MANSION ON TURTLE CREEK, please take notice. To appreciate its elegance, you must immerse yourself in it. Do not assume it is out of reach (keep reading, you know you want to).

There are a plethora of hotels throughout the world claiming to be luxury. If you've visited any, you know that while the rooms, and sometimes the property in its entirety, are blase and predictable, a truly luxurious hotel sets itself apart through amenities and service. Two things The Mansion knows a lot about. From the moment you arrive, little details hint to a wondrous world of well, fabulous. Bakery cookies, fresh peaches, and iced hazelnut lattes while checking in; a surprise knock on the door with chocolate covered strawberries and herbal iced tea brought to the room to celebrate your birthday; sincere smiles and genuine interest from the staff tell you that not only are you somewhere special, but the team at The Mansion thinks YOU are special. That's their job.

If, as a housewife, you've ever been given the second class-standard room booked-no husband with you type of brush off from high end establishments, you will be refreshed to know such ridiculousness does not exist at The Mansion. My girlfriend (who happens to be 8 months pregnant) and I were treated as if we had reserved the Presidential Suite and at any moment our famous high rolling husbands (only in our own minds) would be arriving as well.

So, if you are lucky enough to have a Happy Husband who spoils you as I do, don't forget to look these people up for a special occasion. Even if it's a Wednesday and you just need to create a special occasion. Call The Mansion and speak to their in house reservations department. It's like they've been waiting for you to call all day and with the affordable packages they have available, you will wish you had called earlier.

My job as a housewife is only glorified and appreciated by the people I do it for, my husband and my children. With a night away like this, I am rejuvenated and refreshed to spoil my boys every day of the week.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

A Schedule

I am flattered when people ask me how I get things done, all the things that a Happy Housewife does. I am not a schedule-nazi per say but I do believe in a little routine. The new principal at my older son's elementary school has a new motto for this school year, "EVERY MINUTE COUNTS". I love it! I believe in it! I try to live it!

There are things to keep in mind when maximizing your time. You have to consider when you are most efficient and determine your priorities. For example, I am a morning person. Always have been, always will be. I was the very uncool girl at slumber parties who fell asleep first (deadly mistake) and the annoying sorority member who woke up before 7am no matter what time we got in (my apologies to my college roommate DTW). But now, as a mom, this natural tendency has benefited me! My point however is that if you aren't one to naturally bound out of bed at 6am but rather stay up until midnight working on things, figure it out for you. We have to be comfortable, happy, and motivated in what we are doing or we won't do it. Side note: I do believe that even if you are not a morning person, dragging yourself out of bed just 30 minutes before the troops awake will pay you dividends for the rest of the day. Being one step ahead of them!

Now here is a sample day (leaving MUCH room for error and honesty):

5:30-6:30am- Wake Up! My hubby is usually up first recently since my insomnia has been winning the sleep battle from 12-3. Before the boys get up(usually just my older son since nobody can guess when the almost two year old will or will not be up), I try to:

  • Start a load of laundry

  • Unload the dishwasher

  • Make our bed

  • Get breakfast started

  • Make D's lunch for school

6:30am - Mr D the Champion 1st Grader arises! Lucky for him, he is a morning person like his father and I! While he eats breakfast (possibly joined by Mr. M the precocious younger brother):

  • Go over spelling words (LOVE that we have spelling words now, I am so excited!!!)

  • Clean up breakfast

  • Change over laundry, start next load if needed

  • Balance checkbook

  • Review calendar for the day

7am- Move boys to bathroom for teeth brushing, clothes changing, hair fixing, etc.

  • Help D make his bed and straighten Mr. M's crib from the plethora of "friends" he chose to sleep with the night before.

  • Brush my teeth

  • Any last minute pre-school time items

7:30am- Walk all the way (across the street) to school. Back in five! Usually my husband walks D over and M goes with them. He had to carry his own lunch box over today even though he is not yet two. During these minutes, I shower. Blissful, hot, alone (because I have all boys), shower time!

7:30-11:30am - This is a very fluid part of my day consisting of but not limited to:

  • Finish, fold, put away laundry

  • Confirm dinner recipe/ingredients/prep/plans

  • Some days we have play dates or play group

  • Errands, Target (to give them the $100 they require me to give every time I go), bank, etc. I'm not a big errands with little one person. I try to keep it to a minimum. Although, Target is a great, free (kind of), air conditioned outing to look at toys and burn energy.

  • Home or out for lunch depending on the day.

  • Some days we are home all morning, playing, coloring, organizing, etc.

Noon-Noon:thirty-ISH- If you know my younger son, you know that saying everyday at this time he goes down for a nap would be ridiculous. It's getting better and we do try.

  • Normal nap time routine, milk, book, pick the eight friends you want to sleep with you. You understand.

  • Pray for a two hour nap.

Beginning of Nap until.... This is where I try to pack in as much as I can that still needs to be done before school gets out. Sometimes it's a long list but usually its very do-able and I like tackling it while the house is quiet.

  • Clean. Whether it's the bathrooms, the bedrooms, what have you. Seriously, its so fantastic to clean the bathrooms and have them sparkle in 20 minutes. Love it!

  • Blog, write to you, or maybe to myself, I never know!

  • Do any dinner prep I can. So much easier than when I am playing referee later.

  • Emails, PTA stuff, phone calls.

  • Workout **Important item: I was working out in the morning at a gym until I re injured my knees. I am in the midst of getting back after it and figuring out what I can and can't do. This element of my schedule may in fact change if I go back to the gym rather than working out here at home. Then gym time would be in the morning and showering would happen during nap.

2:45pm - School is out and then it's any body's game! Sometimes friends are coming, sometimes we have sports, sometimes we are swimming because it's so dang hot, you get the idea.

After School - Dinner- This time of my day is very hard to predict and usually depends on Mr 1st Grade. Whether its homework or study time, play time, or snack time, I try to keep things low key if possible when we are in fact home during this time. One thing that always happens though is toy clean up. If it hasn't already. Heading into dinner the toys are put away and we have little to fuss over besides each other.

Dinner- The key to our family meals is everyone around the table. Sure I love to cook, and to watch my boys eat, but even if it's a PB&J night, I like everyone around the table. Ten minutes or thirty, we will take what we can get. To make this the focus and not the kitchen mess or clean up, I try really hard to clean as I cook which makes dishes after a snap. I also have an amazing husband who helps/does dishes and also cooks periodically. The team approach makes us all the more successful. Thanks Honey!!

Post-Dinner-Bedtime - Everyone has a job here!

  • Kids clear their own places and push in chairs.

  • One parent cleans up kitchen while the other gets shower time ready.

  • Boys get pajamas, etc.

  • Dad & boys shower, I turn down beds.

  • Clean boys out of the shower, lotion, PJs, teeth, etc

  • Out to the family room to read.

  • Bed for the boys!

Mama & Dad Pre-Bed - This is my lazy time of day friends. I am worth nothing at this point. Whether we visit, watch SportsCenter, read, or drag our tired butts to bed, I am not a productive night/evening worker bee.

So friends, that is some kind of crazy outline to a day. My secret is I work. I work like I am working outside of the home still. I don't nap, I try to "Make Every Minute Count". But don't be hard on yourself if your priorities are different than mine. Every housewife makes her own magic. I take pride in a clean house, home cooked meals, and time with my family. Maximize your time and schedule to the best of your ability. I relish in the opportunity that I can always do better at something or work harder. Make it your own, you can do it!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Five Star Ford


I have worked in two of the three most hated professions and I am only 31. First politics, second the car business; which means all I have left is law! My family background is the car business though, a unique animal providing me and my immediate family with an interesting perspective of other car dealerships sales and service department.

There is good and bad in every industry. Whether or not you love or hate the car world, I have recently had an OUTSTANDING experience at Five Star Ford of Plano in their Service Department. In the last week we have warranty and non-warranty work performed and our service advisor, DOUG, has surpassed all expectations. From follow-up, to communication, to general friendliness, DOUG and the team at FIVE STAR FORD of PLANO has been wonderful.

The next time you are in need of an oil change, recall work, or anything having to do with your Ford, Lincoln, or Mercury, give DOUG a call at 888-384-4958. Five Star service is what they do and who they are.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Man Crepes

Mad Hungry
Feeding Men & Boys
Lucinda Scala Quinn

I love when you are surprised by a recipe. Surprised by how easy it is, how it turns out just like the picture, and how my boys gobble it up! Yay! I am always on the lookout for new breakfast items. Raised in a house where hot breakfast was a staple, I gave my mother hell every morning because, to be honest, I just wasn't hungry yet. An hour later, I would've been but school just doesn't allow for breakfast hour flexibility.

I don't offer cold cereal in the morning to my boys because I want something "that sticks with them". I also enjoy being in the kitchen in the morning and the smell that fills my home as Dominic heads out the door. We do a lot of pancakes and the like, so when I came across these MAN CREPES, I was curious. We had them Monday to celebrate the first day of 1st grade and they were a hit! I had batter leftover yesterday and so I made more crepes for the moms in our playgroup. With the boys, they enjoyed them plain with butter and powdered sugar and then the next day filled with fresh strawberries. For the mommies, I served them with Nutella and peanut butter.

It's been years since I was in Paris watching my sister create a diet solely from street vendors making crepes, but this recipe is so easy and smells so wonderful, you can't help but feel like saying Bonjour!

Man Crepes

  • 3/4 c flour

  • 1/2 t coarse salt

  • 1 t baking powder

  • 3 large eggs

  • 2/3 c milk

  • 1/3c water

  • 1/2 t vanilla

  • butter for frying and serving

Place the flour, salt, baking powder, eggs, milk, water, and vanilla in a blender and blend until completely combined and the consistency of heavy cream. The batter can be refrigerated up to one day in advance.

Heat a 6 inch skillet or crepe pan until very hot to the touch but not smoking. Swirl around enough butter to coat the pan. Gently and slowly pour a 3-4 tablespoon portion of batter, immediately swirling to cover the entire bottom of the pan in as thin a layer as possible. When the edges begin to turn golden and pull away from the pan, use a spatula to lift and flip the crepe. Cook until it is just set, about 30 seconds. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Photo Affections

Hello new friend, I love you. There are literally a plethora (great word) of online sources for invitations and the like. I am a little obsessed with them because they always have such fabulous looking things like invitations, stationary, etc. I love how my boys pictures look on these genius creative peoples' creations. A new recent online crush is www.photoaffections.com . Searching for Max's 2nd birthday invitations I selected them based on selection and price. I cannot tell you how impressed I was with the RAPID turnaround time on the invitations. CRAZY fast, crazy. Now, being that I am awesome and would never make a mistake, it came as quite a shock to me when the darling invitations arrived with the date printed as SATURDAY SEPTEMBER 11th. If you aren't already laughing, you soon will be since there is no such date, at least not this year. The party is of course on SUNDAY SEPTEMBER 11th. Now shocked as I was with this mistake I MADE, I put a note in the invite and sent them away to little friends. I received an email from Photo Affections asking me to take a survey to receive a discount on a future order, I love me a discount, and filled it out. Everything about the order was wonderful but I did note that due to my mistake the date was wrong. Not their mistake, MINE. Within a couple of hours, I had an email from some fabulous person at Photo Affections offering me a reprint at 50% off! And I made the mistake! I let this kind gentleman know that I had already mailed the invites but sincerely appreciated the gesture! Customer service awesomeness people! With the holidays coming, swing on by www.photoaffections.com and see what they have to offer. And check your dates.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Pantry Follow-Up

Well hello world! First day back to school for my now 1st GRADER!!! WHAT?!?! And last week was full of end of summer fun and PTA prep work. Good times but busy busy just like the rest of you I am sure.

I wanted to follow up and let you know the outcome of my challenge. I made it one week. That's right, one. I guess I over estimated what we had in our freezer and pantry, ha ha ha! The good news about it is that I used almost everything I had! A couple creative hodge podge ideas and meals but now, after shopping, I know exactly what is in there and what I have to use.

I am interested in who else has tried this and what you discovered? One website I think is great to find quick recipes searching by ingredients is www.allrecipes.com. I wanted to share two things with you that I have not made before but did with this challenge. Enjoy!

Item I needed to use: Lucky Leaf Peach Pie Filling
Recipe: Peach Coffee Cake
Source: www.luckyleaf.com

  • 2 1/2 cups sifted flour

  • 1 cup brown sugar

  • 3/4 cup butter (softened but not melted)

  • 2 eggs separated

  • 1 cup milk

  • 1/2 t salt

  • 1/2 t cinnamon

  • 2 1/4t baking powder

  • 1 can (21oz) Lucky Leaf Peach Pie Filling

Mix flour, sugar, and butter. (*The mixture should be lumpy when you pull the cup out for topping and then you can mix the rest up so it's smoother.) Reserve one cup of mixture for topping. Mix egg yolks with milk and add to remainder of flour mixture (the smooth one). Add salt, cinnamon, and baking powder, and mix until very smooth. Gently fold in stiffly beaten egg whites. Pour into grease 9x13 glass baking dish. Put pie filling evenly over top. Sprinkle with crumb mixture. Bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes.

Item I needed to use: 2 cans Garbanzo Beans
Recipe: Hummus
Source: Adapted from Hummus III on www.allrecipes.com

  • 2 cups can Garbanzo beans, drained

  • 1/3 cup toasted sesame oil

  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (*you can add a little more, I love lemony things)

  • 1 t salt

  • 2 garlic cloves halved

  • 2 T olive oil

  • 1 pinch paprika (for serving)

Place all ingredients in food processor. Blend baby blend. And VOILA! Fabulous homemade hummus!!! Serve with veggies, pita bread, or a yummy spoon full!

So there you go. A couple newbies from the challenge. The challenge that proved I have no concept of time or supplies. All the more reason I can't go camping. That's an entirely different post. Maybe two.

Sunday, August 14, 2011


Nobody is. I guarantee it. Even that mom you know from school who always looks fantastic (but not like she's trying), has everything together, is never late, kids behave perfectly, and she puts Martha Stewart to shame with her skills, is in fact, not perfect. Isn't it wonderful to know that we all have strengths and weaknesses too? If we as women were more honest with ourselves about these things we could do a little less self loathing, less competitive caddy behavior with other women, and more embracing. Embrace who we are and run with it!

I feel good about a lot of things I am able to do. 95% of why I feel good about different things is because I know I always give it 150%. But you know what? This super A-type, perfectionist has a big area of weakness too. My weight. There it is. All out there. I'm not hiding anything. That's my battle, that's my challenge. That's the one area of my life I can't seem to master. In the grand scheme of things it doesn't really matter. I say that like it's not on my mind every second of every day and has been since I was about 9. I try, I should try harder. But that's it. By telling you this I hope you just know that we all have our stuff. We all fill 24 hours in our day. Nobody has extra. At the end of our time here, I don't know of anyone who said, "I have all these hours I didn't use." Not true. Everybody is busy and everybody has big stuff going on in their life relative to them.

The point? I don't know really. Just for you to know we are all human and we can all help each other. (Sound like a damn socialist already) I want to work less on perfection and more at fulfilling my life with people and activities I love and enjoy. I don't want to turn 50 and still worry about the size of my jeans. If I'm in my skinny ones or my fat ones or what swimsuit I will buy when summer is 9 months away. These are things I aim to change about myself. Can I do it? We will see.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

A Drinker

How to categorize this post? Honey, Happy Husbands, or Full Tummies? Mommy tummies that is! A drinker is a bottle of wine that you never feel guilty opening it up and enjoying it because it's so economical. To be frank, that's my entire wine collection these days. Ha! Some people may have very expensive wine that is too sacred to enjoy, a concept far outside of my realm of understanding, and others may have expensive wine they get to drink because they have no wine "budget" per say.

For the rest of us, it's important to find "drinkers". My Dad always said that any guy can find a good bottle of wine for $40 but HE could find a GREAT bottle for under $20. Now that's what I am talkin about! My latest and greatest find is one I was a little embarrassed to admit I had purchased because it is a large producing label. A little small vineyard snobbery there. Once I opened it however, I was hooked! And the best part is, even at regular price it's under $15!! If you live in Texas, Tom Thumb has the best price on this bottle hands down. If you buy 6 bottles and receive their 10% off AND it's on sale, it costs about $9.50ish. If you buy 6 bottles and receive their 10% off and it's not on sale, it's right under $11.

Drum roll please!!!!

Buy it, drink it, share it; LOVE it. Cheers!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Ivan & Mary

If you haven't been on Etsy.com you are missing out! Very unique and wonderful treasures await! One particular shop on Etsy is IVAN & MARY.

This proprietor makes the most darling belts for children and is very reasonable. We purchased a golf belt for a little friend's 2nd birthday present who is obsessed with golf. Not only was it unique, affordable, and darling, it arrived so quickly and Mindy, the owner, was a pleasure to work with! So, if you are searching for different ideas from the usual Target trip for birthdays, visit IVAN & MARY on Etsy.com. You won't be disappointed Honey!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Bits and Bites

During this lovely Pantry Challenge time, I thought it pertinent to pass on to you new and easy discoveries for your own kitchen. Especially if you live here in Texas where the last time we say under 100 degrees or rain was when God was a boy. Seriously.

It's important to be flexible during Pantry time and it's important to have fun easy things to throw together for friends and family. Today, I have two random additions, I hope you like!!

Pantry Chicken (*Namely because I'm that creative to call it this during my new endeavor)

  • Chicken of any kind, I used three of those GIANT frozen boneless skinless chicken breasts that come 50 to a pack at Costco or the like. You could use any piece of chicken you like but maybe frozen will work better in the crock pot?

  • Large jar of your favorite salsa, I used a garlic type.

  • 1-2 cans of Black Beans, drained.

Combine chicken, salsa, and black beans in crockpot. Cook on low all day. Voila! Dinner! Combine with rice and wrap in some tortillas, throw over salad mix for taco salad night, or stand in the kitchen and eat it plain with a fork since it's too dang hot to do anything else!!

And now for a sweet treat easy to make and the kind that makes your dieting friends feel like they can participate... a little. *Wink wink.

Shortcake Bites

  • Pound cake. I made my own but for the sake of easy, let's say you grab a Sarah Lee's pound cake from your grocer. I mean that girl never overcooks her pound cake.

  • Fresh Strawberries

  • Fresh Whipped Cream (*This is crucial, it's just so much better)

Slice pound cake into 1 1/2 to 2 inch cubes (no measuring please). Slice strawberries into quarters. Prepare whipped cream with whipping cream, vanilla, and sugar in your stand mixer or with a hand mixer. Dip strawberry quarters in sugar. Place dollop of whipped cream on pound cake, top with strawberry. There you go! Shortcake Bites!

Just a couple of ideas, inexpensive, yummy, and none that keep you over a hot stove for very long, if at all!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Pantry Challenge

I try to be budget minded. I try not to be wasteful. But, without fail, I am always buying more, spending more, and throwing more away! Especially when it comes to groceries. We try very hard in Casa G to eat through leftovers and hodge podge pantry items one week a month. Today I am upping the ante. And here's the reasons why.

1. I cleaned out my pantry today so I could reorganize and see what was actually in there. Honey, it was not good. Nothing alive or dead in there thank goodness, but oh the food we have. Now you can see it, the pretty maids all in a row!

2. A friend of mine (CY), quite the entrepreneurial philanthropist, has been organizing a sack lunch drive every week this summer to give out to kids who probably wouldn't get lunch, since the schools which feed them are closed during the summer. The food pantry she works with for distribution is having to close a couple days of week due to overwhelming need and under-whelming supplies and money.

3. Money. While saying my affirmation "Money flows freely and abundantly to me", I am, like many of you, looking for ways to save and stretch my family's dollar.

In summary, a surplus of food, a reality of our own abundance and blessed life, and desire to save more has given fuel to a new kind of Housewife fire. THE PANTRY CHALLENGE. I am committing to you, my readers, followers, supporters (even if it's just one of you out there) to not grocery shop for anything but milk (trust me, nobody wants to see my Max without milk) for the next three weeks. Between my pantry, current fridge items, and freezer, my goal is to wade through all of the food we already have before buying more. It may not be pretty, it may not have a delightful theme the Barefoot Contessa would be proud of, but it will serve the purposes mentioned earlier.

So I say to you lovelies, are YOU up to the Pantry Challenge...

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The A Team

Keep it simple, keep it consistent. Just like I tell my oldest son, if you keep practicing it will eventually become habit. Same goes for us as adults. Maybe you feel like your house will always be in disarray. Maybe the cleanest your house ever is is the day before the "keepers" come. Thanks WW! I tell my housewife friends, one thing at a time.

And one "thing" in my book of secrets, is a core group of A Team cleaning supplies. A list of items I always have on hand, which are tried and true in keeping my world shiny. Now your list should be personalized to you and your needs; if you don't like the product what are the chances you're going to use it?! So, here's my list...

  • METHOD All Purpose Spray: Kitchen use mainly, highchair, granite, stainless steel, you name it! The bottle says if the surface can be cleaned with water, this spray is safe! Gentle!

  • CLOROX Wipes: Bathrooms, doorknobs, light switches, etc. I've talked about my love affair with these babies before but seriously. Everyone needs these. Wipe down a bathroom in less than ten minutes and don't forget those scary-germy door handles and light switches!

  • METHOD Le Scrub: Bathrooms. So safe and non-toxic, I just take this fabulous-spa-smelling scrub in the shower with me and clean after I shower. A warm shower/tub area is the key to speedy and effective cleaning. You can throw a little on counter tops too but I wouldn't use it on granite or marble.

  • WINDEX: Mirrors, etc. Pretty self explanatory friends. Nobody wants to look at their own gorgeousness with somebody else's toothpaste spit spots on the mirror.

  • ORECK Vacuum: It weighs 8lbs people! Come on! Why don't you own one? If they use it at the Four Seasons then it's good enough for me. I vacuum all floors, no matter the type. If you don't have the time to mop or steam the hard surface floors, run your vacuum it's fast. I vacuum every other day at least.

Like I mentioned, your A Team is your A Team. Not mine. But find things that make your routine easier. You'll do it more. Try to clean one thing every day this week. Even if you only wipe down one toilet to start for your first day. You'll be amazed at how it becomes simple to keep it up. Cheers!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy

I do not believe all cooking is easy. Or needs to be for that matter. But, I do believe when you find something that's easy, versatile, and tasty, it is nice to have it in your repertoire for entertaining or family dinner. That's what I love about the Barefoot Contessa. Her ingredient lists are not overwhelming and most importantly, 9 times out of 10, your food turns out like the picture in her cookbook!! Heck yes!

I like to stock my pantry with items I use frequently with many recipes and keep a few items in the freezer that are company and family friendly. Pork loin is inexpensive and so versatile. The classic mistake with pork loin is that it typically is overcooked and comes out dry and bland. Um, not good. This is an easy recipe sure to please little people, big people, and everyone in between.

Herb-marinated Loin of Pork
Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics

  • grated zest of 1 lemon

  • 1/4 c fresh lemon juice (4-6 lemons) *In a pinch last week I used 3 limes and 4 clementines and it was great!

  • 1/2 c olive oil

  • 2 T minced garlic (6 cloves)

  • 1 1/2 T minced fresh rosemary leaves

  • 1 T chopped fresh thyme leaves

  • 2 t Dijon mustard

  • salt

  • 3 1 lb pork tenderloins (I just buy one package with two in it)

  • pepper

Combine lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, rosemary, thyme, mustard, and 2t salt in a gallon zip loc bag. Double it up with two! Add the pork and cover in marinade. Seal bag and place in refrigerator over night or at least first thing in the morning on the day you are going to grill it.

When you are ready to grill, preheat grill, and remove meat from marinade. Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Grill tenderloin over medium to medium-low heat turning a few times for 15-25 minutes until the meat registers 137 degrees at the thickest part. Remove from grill and place on platter, cover tightly with foil and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Carve in diagonal slices. The thickest part of the tenderloin will be pink which is fine and the thinnest part will be well done. Serve warm or at room temperature.

This is a great recipe and can be mixed with anything depending on what you have in your fridge or what the season is! We had it for dinner as a family last week and I served it with julienned red bell peppers (so crunchy and good!) and brown rice. Tonight I will make it for our dinner club and with friends bringing a side and salad, and I bought crunchy sourdough to go with it as well. It's healthy, inexpensive, and delish! So grab those grill tongs and let's get grillin'!

Thursday, July 7, 2011


Hello one and all!

I am excited to announce that I am moving forward with a little venture I call:


What does this mean to you and yours? Well, you lucky girl, it means I am offering my housewife help to the public! So anyone you know who is in need of the following, please send them my way!

- Organization (closets, kitchens, playrooms... life!)
- Meal planning
- Time management

Anything and everything you can think of that brings more honey into your home, I am here to help! Please contact me with any questions or to book an appointment!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Papa's Onions

This recipe just goes to show with the right love and attention even a stinky onion can be sweet and delectable! Ha! I guarantee if you make these, your kitchen will smell FAMAZING and your dinner guests will just squeal with delight! Turn your average BBQ or backyard grill out into something special!

Papa's Onions

  • Large yellow or white onions (the bigger the better)

  • Butter

  • Chicken bouillon cubes

  • Salt & Pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Peel onions and using a melon baller, scoop out middle of onion. Scoop out two to three scoops. Place one bouillon cube in each onion, cover with a tablespoon or two of butter. Wrap in foil and place on cookie sheet. Bake for one hour at 400 and then reduce temp to 350 for 30-35 more minutes. Check onions, they should be soft but not mushy. Unwrap and enjoy!!!

Monday, May 16, 2011

78 Fence


I know a guy. A guy you can pay to protect you. Call him, give him my name.

Sound shady? Don't worry, it's not! But the fence industry in DFW certainly can be!! In our new home we decided to tear down the back run of our fence and build a power gate across our driveway to increase outdoor living space and add security. I researched and spoke to a large number of fence companies in the metroplex. While 78 Fence was not the least expensive bid we received, but it was the most informative, communicative, and detailed. When planning a 35 foot power gate, it was not our intention to "bargain hunt" the project. We knew how important quality and safety would be on our fence and gate.

Needless to say, we picked the right guys! Mike, Robert, & Miguel (*and his amazing crew!) have earned my recommendation without hesitation. From start to finish, our experience with 78 Fence has been superb. Platinum customer service that is sincere with a product that speaks for itself. If you are in the market for a fence, gate, or pergola 78 Fence is the way to go. You will be so pleased with the process AND the product. When you call them, tell them Austin sent you. Honey will flow abundantly your way!!

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Southwestern Chicken Soup

Some things are all day things. Some things are half day things. Some things are five minute things which taste like all day things! Yay for these! This is the kind of recipe that is filling, fabulous, and fast! Just like me! Ha ha, ok well maybe not appropriate but whatever. I made this for a friend-in-need last week and was so glad to get the phone call the next day that she was enjoying leftovers for lunch! Bonus! Double this easy recipe to share, freeze, or serve your son's soccer team on a random Thursday night.

Southwestern Chicken Soup

  • 12 oz jar Salsa Verde (*pick your fave)

  • 3 cups cooked Chicken cut up or shredded (1 Rotisserie or 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts)

  • 15oz Cannellini Beans, drained

  • 3 cups Chicken Broth

  • 1 teaspoon Ground Cumin

  • 2 Green Onions, chopped

  • Sour Cream for garnish

  • Grated Cheddar Cheese for garnish

  • Tortilla Chips for serving

Empty salsa into large saucepan or pot. Cook 2-4 minutes over medium heat then add chicken, beans, broth, and cumin. Bring to boil, lower heat to simmer and cook 10 minutes. Stir continuously. Top each bowl with green onions, sour cream, cheese, and chips. Enjoy!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Elizabeth Starrs

Starrs Mihm LLP
Trial Lawyers

A trial lawyer seems an odd choice for the honey category, but lets not generalize! After all, I'm a car salesperson at heart.

Should you ever need a trial attorney in Colorado, and I hope you never do, Elizabeth Starrs is your gal. Not only is Liz wicked smart, eloquent, and the winner of numerous accolades in her field, she is personable beyond belief. Hiring a trial attorney comes with the financial and emotional duress involved with such matters. Working with Liz will make it so much easier. A wonderful advisor, she is trustworthy and knowledgeable allowing her to work with her clients rather than simply "for" her clients.

So, if something comes up in your world requiring such services, contact ELIZABETH STARRS in Denver. Taking trial law to the platinum level of customer service is what she is all about!!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Banana Puddin-Puddin'

Miss Reagan's Banana Puddin' NOLA Style

We all fill 24 hours. Never do you run across somebody who says, "Shoot, I had like 6 hours I didn't know what to do with yesterday!" That being said, my last few months have been super-sized busy which you can all understand. Selling our house in 17 days (HUGE blessing), buying a new house, Spring Break mini-vaca, moving in with Aunt (most patient person hosting us, again), and moving into new house and beginning total remodel. From the outside in. There you have it, that's all I'm going to say.

But, you have been with me! I have had many ideas, thoughts, writing blurps, and inspiration in my absence from Honey, Vinegar. I am going to throw a fantabulous recipe your way tonight to get us back on track and then talk about some other brainstorms I have had and may be including soon. If I get brave enough. For now, here's the recipe...

Miss Reagan's Banana Puddin' NOLA Style

  • 3 cups Whole Milk

  • 2 small packages Instant Vanilla Pudding Mix

  • 8 oz Sour Cream

  • Cool Whip (smaller container)

  • 2 boxes Vanilla Wafers

  • 6 Bananas

Combine all ingredients (leave one box of wafers out) in large bowl. To serve either layer with leftover wafers in large trifle dish or clear bowl or make individual dishes in fun old fashioned glasses or wine glasses. If you make individual puddings, top each with two to three wafers positioned vertically. A super easy recipe which blows other banana pudding recipes right out of the water! Wonderful for Spring get togethers, BBQs, and birthday parties. Kids and adults will rave at this Southern classic!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011


We are meat eaters. Plain and simple. A little charred rotting flesh is always a hit with this crowd. Steak is so easy. Throw it on the grill, throw it (well not literally) in a frying pan, whatever! And oi la! Dinner is ready.

I also thing every Housewife should be able to diversify a meal. Same ingredients different meal. You get it. So tonight, my boys had steak and I had....

Blue Steak Salad

  • Romaine
  • Marie's Blue Cheese Vinaigrette
  • Steak (pick your favorite cut)
  • Garlic salt & Pepper
  • Worcestershire

Bring your steak to room temperature. Stab with fork all over both sides. Pour Worcestershire and cover with garlic salt and pepper. Cook on grill to preferred done-ness. (I think I just made up that word) Remove from grill and let rest for five-ten minutes. Slice thin and throw on top of romaine. Toss with vinaigrette. Fabulous!

Monday, February 28, 2011

Craig Williams, DDS

Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery

Sometimes you meet people and you just know. You just know this person is a really really good person. Down to their core! That is what I knew when I was lucky enough to meet Dr Craig Williams. We met when I was working for DirectBuy and became fast friends. Dr Williams is one of those "salt of the earth" people everyone talks about. I helped he and his wife while they were in the Club and always looked forward to our conversations.

My respect for him surpassed all expectations last year when we were told our five year old had to have his two front teeth removed. Immediately I called Dr Williams who got us in right away and called me back, himself! When we did go in for the procedure, he was so caring, considerate, and thoughtful. My five year old loved him and in the end, Dr Williams elected not to pull the teeth. It was his thorough evaluation, caring demeanor, and genuine concern that propelled me to feature his practice on my blog. Very few people care like Dr Williams cares. He is conservative and having been practicing for a very long time, knows what he is doing.

For you Dallas friends looking for an Oral surgeon, this is your man. You would be lucky to have him take care of you or your family. Just like I am lucky to call him my friend.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Should've been Italian

(Sung to the tune of Should've Been A Cowboy)

It's Sunday. It's 6:22am and I am already cooking which means it is going to be a FABULOUS day!!

You remember when we talked about my ethnic identity confusion? Well, back to that. I grew up with one of the BEST spaghetti sauces. My mom, Mimi, is a standout cook and has an Italian (jealous) brother-in-law who is astoundingly divine in the kitchen. Inspired by his cooking here is my mother's spaghetti sauce which takes all day but eats all week. So many recipes follow this sauce, you Happy Housewives will have it easy-peasy with menu planning the week after you make this.

Conjure up your best Godfather energy and ciao bella, you're an Italian Mama!

Mimi's Spaghetti Sauce

  • 1 package Beef Short Ribs
  • 2 packages Beef Neck Bones
  • 3 large cans Crushed Tomatoes
  • 3 large cans Tomato Puree
  • 3 large cans, 1 small can Tomato Paste
  • 1 15oz Tomato Sauce
  • 5 cloves Garlic
  • Olive Oil
  • Dried Basil
  • Salt

In a large stock pot with a good thick bottom, saute crushed garlic in small amount olive oil. Add meat and tomatoes. Add salt and dried basil to taste. Continue to add spices and stir all day on low. Make sure you stir and the heat is not too high as to not scald bottom of batch. When sauce is ready, discard neck bones and slice short rib meat for serving with pasta. The meat is so amazingly tender and full of flavor you won't even believe it!! Serve with your favorite pasta!

So, now you have the beginnings of a wonderful week of Italian food at your house. Friends and family of all ages will delight in your wonderful Sunday Gravy! And just wait to see what you can do with the leftovers....

Thursday, February 24, 2011

(No) Love & (All) War in Texas

Plano, Texas

You go in. You are skeptical. But, the friends meeting you have the utmost confidence in their dining choice for the evening. And then, it all begins to unravel.

First, the seemingly friendly waitress is impossible to find. Momentary relapse of glimmering hope when yummy appetizer arrives. Back to the disarray that is quickly becoming the tone of evening. Second, enough time passes that we begin to decorate our table for Christmas 2011. Third, owner/general manager arrives of his own accord to "introduce" himself and deliver our entrees partnered with our salads. Lovely. Fourth, steak cooked incorrectly, could have predicted that one.

I could go on and number all of the evenings' incidents but you have other things to do. Let's just say the food was marginal, the waitress would never come back to take drink orders, the owner/general manager who seemed so concerned initially had to be asked over again at the end of our meal and we had to ask for him four times. He was enjoying his own beverage in the bar. Awesome. When we did nicely explain that the time was the biggest concern of the evening, the only thing he offered was a free round. Not enough friend. Then he proceeded to take twenty measly dollars off of our $150 bill. Yikes sir, you aren't going to make it, let's just get this out there.

In conclusion, stay away from Love & War in Texas. Unless you like slow service, sub par food, and weird surroundings. In that case, I can't help you.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

II Brothers Grill

Preston & Frankford Location

I love eating local. I love eating period. Usually those who love to cook, love to eat. So this all makes sense here. We ate at II Brothers yesterday for lunch. It is so close to home and Mr G had eaten at the original Frisco location and said it was tasty so I took my Mom and her manfriend there for lunch with my 17 month old.

Located on the Northwest corner of Preston and Frankford, the atmosphere is somewhat sportsbar-ish but a little nicer. Not overcrowded with tables, it actually feels a bit warehouse like. The service was OUTSTANDING and while there weren't a million staff members, they made you feel like everyone was keeping an eye on you. Super kid friendly without being ChickFilA, and a great menu. Not just burgers! I started with the wedge salad which was literally half the head of iceberg! They brought out the grilled cheese right away for my son and it was on Texas toast, oozing yummy cheeziness with piping hot homemade fries. I enjoyed the grilled tilapia, huge portion, and my guests had a cheeseburger and one the tilapia as well. They make their own chips which seemed to be a hit.

Not only was everyone friendly but our server, who was new, was wrong about what was on tap so gave us one of our beers for free! I noticed their specials include kids eating FREE on Mondays and on Sundays, half price bottles of wine! Nice! Go on over to II Brothers, it's close, it's local, and it's delish. When you can't finish the large portions they serve, they will wrap it up for you to go with a smile!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Nordstrom Spa Heaven

Spa Nordstrom
Galleria Dallas

Right before Christmas, Mr G surprised me with an ENTIRE day at Spa Nordstrom! Not only did he plan it all himself, he took care of our one year old all day, took and pickup our kindergartner from school, and left me to be spoiled in the lap of luxury! I had to share with you Housewives all of the fabulousness that was bestowed upon me that day!

The day began with a body scrub, body wrap, massage, yummy lunch, facial, and the grand finale was the best mani and pedicure EVER. I was lucky enough to have three different technicians work on me that day and they were all wonderful. So, if you are looking for a splurge gift for a loved one or possibly yourself, look no further than Spa Nordstrom at the Galleria! Their product line is impressive and their staff is friendly, knowledgeable, and top notch at what they do. Make your husband a Happy Husband and you too could end up at Spa Nordstrom for a day of loveliness.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Grandma Zs Meatloaf

Maybe you grew up in a world where meatloaf night was scary. The kind of scary where what your mother put on your plate resembled nothing you'd ever seen before and the smell went right along with that description. Meatloaf to you may mark sacred trips to Furr's or Luby's where you ate your way through it to get to the "select your own dessert" category. But if you grew up in my family, meatloaf means wonderful, delicious, comfort food served piping hot with ketchup and cold the next day for lunch. FANTASTIC!!!

My Grandma Z is, or was since she is cooking very little these days, always making something wonderful. While she worked hard to fill our tummies, she was filling our hearts and souls in turn with love, goodness, and family time. A treasure, an icon, a hero to all who are blessed to know her. Her recipes will be one of MANY legacies she leaves behind when she becomes one of God's angels with real wings which the rest of us have know she has been hiding her entire life. I never anticipated so much emotion with a meatloaf post. Give me a moment...

Anywho, I am passing one of what I consider to be, an essential family recipe from my family to yours. It's hearty, easy to make, and when thrown with some mashed potatoes and green beans, a real family meal! Enjoy, and know you're eating all of the love Grandma Z has for you.

Grandma Zs Meatloaf

  • 2 lbs hamburger (you can substitute ground turkey if you like)
  • 1 package dry onion soup mix
  • 2 eggs
  • garlic salt & pepper
  • 1 cup oatmeal
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup (reserve 1/2 the can for top of meatloaf)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter the heck out of your loaf pan or use the fabulous cooking spray mentioned last week.

Mix all ingredients (works best if you just get in there and mix things up with your hands), saving half of the soup, and place in the loaf pan. Spread remaining soup over top. Bake 90 minutes. *If you have a convection oven, bake at 325 degrees for 55 minutes instead.*

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Pam Spray = Kia then Bak-klene ZT = Porsche

Mr G has taught me many ways to save a buck. There are a plethora of products out there where the less expensive option is just as good as the pricier one. That being said, there are items which may cost more but for good reason. Meet BAK-KLENE ZT. Available at Williams-Sonoma, a happy happy place with an abundance of over priced goods, I was introduced to this cooking spray because of some faulty Star Wars pancake molds. If you use Pam or another non-stick spray currently, get yourself some BAK-KLENE ZT instead. It's professional grade, whatever that means. Could mean Martha Stewart uses it or it could mean that Hostess uses it on the assembly line putting together those scary Twinkies. Either way, you need it. This morning I made a coffee cake in a bunt pan where the recipe called for buttering and flouring the pan. Being the great risk taker I am, I did neither and sprayed that puppy down with BAK-KLENE ZT. I am crazy like that. This coffee cake fell perfectly from pan to plate, a dream come true. Thanks BAK-KLENE ZT! (You think they'll ask me to do an infomercial?)

Friday, January 28, 2011

The One that started it all...

Growing up in a culinary house, I was a little intimidated by my parents' abilities in the kitchen. When a throw together meal on a Sunday afternoon is Shrimp Risotto and middle of the week breakfasts were homemade french toast, Belgian waffles, and pancakes, it's easy to see where I felt I may not be able to duplicate the system! But like anything, I believe we all start somewhere. This was my beginning, the initial step into my cooking world which has had many turns, stops, re directions, and even a few successes in the last 10 years. Before I was anything else, I was a baker.

Austin's Cherry Pie
foundations from Williams-Sonoma & my Mother

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

For your crust (you can and must make your own crust, it's simple and it's the KEY to a fabulous pie)- these ingredients yield a double pie crust

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup COLD unsalted butter, cut into small cubes (pea-small grape size)
  • 6 tablespoons cold water (varies from time to time)

In a stand mixer (My Grandma, the unequivocal baker extraordinaire, disagrees with me on this technique because she thinks it makes your crust "tough". I adore her, want to be like her, and think she is basically omnipotent, but on this I cannot concur. Your crust, if following this recipe, will come out crumbly and delicious like a shortbread cookie.) mix all ingredients except the water. When mixture is consistency of coarse cornmeal, begin adding your water. 1 tablespoon at a time until it BARELY begins to pull together. When the dough begins to pull together, remove from mixer bowl and separate into two balls. You can throw these in parchment paper and stick them if the fridge if you need to but it's not necessary. Flour your work surface, I use a plastic flexible cutting board so I can flip the dough into the pie pan, and rolling pin. Roll out your bottom crust and place in the pie plate. Roll out your second dough ball. If you are making a lattice crust, which is so gorgeous you won't even believe it, cut your strips now. Experiment here with width for the lattice top, every pie has its own little personality. If simply using a top crust, leave rolled out dough on the side while making the filling.

For your filling

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons corn starch
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 cups (3 15oz cans) drained jarred pitted sour cherries. These are often found with the canned fruit, not on the baking aisle. They should be packed in water. NEVER syrup.
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Place cherries in bowl, add remaining ingredients and stir gently as to avoid breaking cherries. The cherries will have enough liquid in them to produce a nice juice for your pie. Pour cherry mixture into pie pan. Top with lattice or double crust top and flute the edges to your liking. Bake at 425 for 15 minutes. Then reduce temperature to 350 degrees and continue baking 40-50 minutes longer, until crust is golden and filling is bubbly.

Serve warm, serve cold, serve however you love it. Topped with your favorite vanilla ice cream is Mr G's most cherished treat. And any day that starts with a breakfast of leftover cherry pie is a good one.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Artin's Grill

at The Shops at Legacy

Venturing North can be scary. Especially to those of you residing South of LBJ. From the sounds of it, driving ALL THE WAY up to Legacy seems like a day trip. Not in fact true. For those of us North of LBJ but still in Dallas, Legacy is a mere 10-15 minutes up the Tollway sans traffic. And what may you ask awaits you there? Fine dining, shopping, and a little splash of urabinism breaking up the chain strip malls lining the service road from Plano to Frisco.

A number of the restaurants on Legacy are pricier than they are worth, in my opinion, with food and service equal to that of your nearby Chilis. Not a good thing friends. However, one restaurant I have visited now twice, is one I am happy to recommend to you. My fabulous husband, Mr G, and I went there last summer with friends minus children and then again last night, with family and children. The server we had last night, Kenton, far surpassed the mediocre waiter from last summer. We were there quite early (have you dined with my 16 month old?) so the restaurant was almost empty. From the hostess to the manager who opened the door for us, to our new friend Kenton, all was well.

The food was fantastic, with an eclectic menu which stayed unique without getting too weird. I strongly dislike places where everything is so weird, there is nothing to choose from. Their happy hour is worth dining early for as well, half price appetizers (spare rib nachos and shrimp taquitos, yes please) and $2 or $3 off wine, beer, and liquor. Presentation was great, food was hot, and they literally made the most magnificent macaroni and cheese for my boys and had it on the table within 7 minutes of me ordering it. No foolin. I had a delectable salad with chicken, beets, and an almond encrusted goat cheese which when I asked for a different dressing, they were happy to oblige and didn't look at me like, well, you know the look. Kenton was attentive, waived the split charge on the entree my Mom & her BF shared, and when we knew we had reached our kid-in-a-restaurant time limit, they waited to assemble Mr G's burger in a to go container until right before we left so it wouldn't get soggy. Awesomeness!!

So, put your big girl Hanky Pankys on and drive up to Legacy and stop in at Artin's. I don't know Artin personally but I bet he'll be glad you came and so will you!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Colorado Pine Nut Salad

Everyone needs a staple salad that goes well with every dish, every occasion! That way you can keep the necessary non-perishable items in your pantry and throw it together at a moments notice. My Mom always made this salad from Creme de Colorado and it is so amazing, everyone raves about it! If you're in a time crunch for dinner, grab a rotisserie chicken from the grocery, fresh baguette, and throw together this salad, and voila!

Colorado Pine Nut Salad
Creme de Colorado

  • 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • mixed greens (I love romaine, but anything works here)
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup coarsely shredded Parmesan

In a small saucepan, boil garlic in water for 10 minutes; drain. In large salad bowl, mash garlic and salt to a paste. Whisk in mustard and vinegar. Add oil while whisking until incorporated. Add lettuce, torn into pieces, toss well, and season with pepper. Sprinkle Parmesan and pine nuts over salad and serve.