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.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Girlfriend Hygiene

How do I put this delicately? If you lost 5lbs yesterday because you finally shaved your legs, we have a problem. Ladies I understand that time is of the essence. Especially if you have small children. But, back in the singleton days, I bet you shaved your legs every day. EVERY day. Maybe skip a day during the winter, but you get my drift.

The important point here is another thing we wives let go by the wayside post-marriage and definitely post-children, ourselves. When you were his girlfriend, you were sportin' your A game. Why not do that now? If part of your A game involves shaving your legs daily, go ahead and bring that back. He will appreciate it, I swear. Men may be different in what they find sexy with regard to their Mrs, but all men prefer softly smooth shaven legs. You are working so hard at the gym to keep those legs looking fab, show em off with a little razor action too.

I am spoiled, I have mentioned this once or twice, because my husband is a team player. He helps with everything family and home related and with a smile on his face. So I like to spoil him, it's part of the fun trade of marriage. And if shaving our legs is spoiling them, don't you think we have it easy? Grab that razor and throw some glam on those gams.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Home Matters

Calling all Colorado housewives! How lucky are you to have Home Matters at your disposal?? Home Matters, owned by Pam Lampe, is a treasure which cannot be adequately described as an interior design service. Pam's real gift is turning your house into a home. A true interior designer, she works with you in every facet of design whether it be staging, holiday decor, or simply changing a room's look.

While you may be afraid that the Real Housewives are the only housewives who can afford help in this arena, you are wrong. Home Matters is the chic avenue for the budget minded housewife. You will not be disappointed when you see your home transformed (with a lot of things you already hid in your guestroom closet!) and feel at ease knowing Pam has enhanced your individual style while leaving your checkbook in tact. Keep your dollars local Colorado lovelies, give Home Matters a call.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Expanding the Palate

There is an entire world of flavor and often times, we limit ourselves by routine and familiarity. Attempting to expand my family's palate, I like to try new recipes, new restaurants, new cuisine. Do not be afraid of new. Worst thing that could happen? It sucks and you order pizza. Done and done.

Here is a recipe we tried the other night and it turned out great, even my boys (5 and 1) ate some!

Spicy Indian Chickpeas
Mad Hungry
Lucinda Scala Quinn

  • 2 1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion finely chopped (I only used half an onion), plus 1 small onion sliced, for garnish
  • 8 garlic cloves, minced (2 tablespoons)
  • 3 tablespoons of peeled fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (left this out for the kids)
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 3 15oz cans chickpeas, drained (1 cup liquid reserved)
  • 1 large tomato, sliced in wedges for garnishing
  • 3 hot fresh green chilies, sliced lengthwise and seeded, for garnishing

Heat a large pot and swirl the oil. Add the chopped onion, garlic, and ginger. Saute until soft and lightly golden, 5 to 6 minutes. In a small bowl, combine cinnamon, garam masala, cumin, coriander, cloves, cayenne, and salt. Add to the onion mixture; cook and stir the spices to lightly toast, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for another few minutes to combine. The color should be dark red. Add the chickpeas plus the cup of reserved liquid. Stir to combine. Cover and cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, removing the cover in the last few minutes. Remove from the heat and let sit for a minute to allow the beans to soak up the spice flavors. Season with salt to taste. Serve in a shallow bowl with jasmine rice garnished with sliced onion, tomato wedges, and slices of green chilies.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Flaky Buttery Biscuits

Piping hot, out of the oven, slathered with sweet cream butter & blueberry preserves. With a start like that, any day would be good. Surprise your household with these during the week, what a treat! Here's how to make it happen...

Flaky Buttery Biscuits
Mad Hungry
Lucinda Scala Quinn

  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 6 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 3/4 cup milk

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder,and salt. Using a fork, combine the butter and flour mixture until they resemble a coarse meal. Slowly add the milk, stirring with a fork, to the desired consistency. Turn dough out onto a clean, lightly floured surface (cutting boards work wonders) and gently knead just to bring the dough together. Carefully roll out the dough to about 3/4-1" thick. Using a glass or biscuit cutter, cut biscuits and re roll scraps to use as well. Place on lined baking sheet, bake for 13-15 minutes until golden brown.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Banana Leaf Thai Cuisine

Banana Leaf Thai Cuisine
Dallas, Texas

I am a little afraid to go to Thailand. Have you seen Brokedown Palace?!?! Not that I would be involved with some hot bachelor/drug smuggler who was using my best friend and I to carry narcotics internationally. But still, you can understand the hesitation.

I am not, however, afraid of Thai food. The many delectable flavors of Thai cuisine cannot be fully appreciated by the token item featured on all Chinese takeout menus, pad Thai. To really embrace everything Thai food has to offer, you must embark on a personal quest to find a good Thai restaurant. And Dallas friends, you are in luck! Banana Leaf Thai Cuisine is right here!

Located on Preston Road between Frankford and Campbell, I have not dined in the restaurant but had delicious delivery this week. My oh my, what a treat! The staff on the phone was friendly as was the delivery person, the food was hot, plentiful, and DELICIOUS! So, step out of yourself and try something new, something local, yet exotic. You will be glad you did!

Friday, January 14, 2011

Magic Eraser

Have you met Mr Magic Eraser? If not, let me introduce you: Mr Magic Eraser this is Miss Housewife, Miss Housewife this is Mr Magic Eraser. Please go buy this product if you haven't already. It is almost as good of friend to me as my Clorox wipes and I am beyond THRILLED to tell you my most recent discovery using it. THE KITCHEN SINK.

That's right and what will really shock you is how much dirt it gets out of what you may think is a clean kitchen sink. Side note: I have a stainless steel sink and have not tried this on any other kind. So wipe the entire sink down and then dry with a soft flour towel. Shiny & Clean! Woo hoo!
Mr Magic Eraser will also clean any scuff marks on your walls, floors, or bathtubs.

WARNING: Do not let your little ones handle this fabulous object. The chemicals in it may harm their skin.

Thursday, January 13, 2011


It's 2011. Are you doing what you thought you would be doing? Are you who you thought you would be? Identity is such a fluid thing in my mind and I am constantly morphing (stretching required) myself into the best version of myself. The best wife, mom, sister, daughter, friend, and person that I can be. At times, it's overwhelming thinking about self-improvement. I don't really care for self-improvement actually, I prefer growth. Growth and vision.

My vision for 2011 is one of balance. Balance, positive self talk, and movement with purpose. I continue to be blessed in my life in all areas and hope to pay that forward in 2011. In order to pay anything forward I think I have to pay it first to my husband and sons. This year, I'm working on bringing some "vintage" ideals back. They are simple and you may laugh, but I think they are keys to building a foundation worthy of great men. A great family.

Things like efficiently relaxed mornings on school days, homemade after school snacks, multiple hours outside exploring our world, and the return of SUNDAY FAMILY DINNERS. Growing up, Sunday was a special day because it was my Dad's only day off. Whatever we did on Sundays, we did together as a family. My extended family is just HUGE since my Dad is one of eleven kids and every Sunday there were extra people around my Grandma's table for dinner. That's what I'm talking about. Now, since we operate the family's satellite location here in Texas, they don't come over too often on Sundays. But, we have been abundantly blessed with wonderful friends here and that is who we call Texas Family. They are the faces I long to see on Sunday around my table. In 2011, starting this Sunday, I plan on having at least 2 Sunday dinners a month at my house. Come as you are, bring something, and enjoy. This weekend we will have Chicken and Dumplings, and most likely, pie. Because with growing boys in this house, what sticks better to your bones than that stuff?

Just like I always say, it's one thing at a time. It's Thursday, I know what I am making Sunday, and that's good. No guarantee next week will be this way but it's a start. It's a little sad family dinners have gone by the wayside. And while I don't believe it's realistic to have family dinner 7 nights a week, shooting for a couple nights together is do-able. So, pick a favorite recipe, gather your family and friends and look forward to Sunday afternoon. It's time to relax, recharge, and reconnect before Monday comes again!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Winter Grilling

"Winter" is a term I use lightly to describe the months between November and February here in Dallas. The true beauty of this mild climate is being able to grill in say, December and January! We enjoyed the most wonderful dinner the other evening and it was SO easy, SO delicious, and SO good for us, I just had to share it!

Grilled Ahi Tuna
Serves 2
  • 2 one and a half or two inch thick tuna steaks (Buy the best grade steaks available it makes ALL the difference. Central Market has a wonderful selection as does Whole Foods)
  • Ahi Tuna Rub (Made by Colorado Spice : ) - -or at Central Market in the meat/seafood department)
  • Any type of grainy mustard you prefer.

Pat tuna steaks dry. Place rub in large dinner plate. Coat both sides and edges. Heat gas grill and once heated, set burners to medium heat. Grill tuna steaks on direct medium heat for 2 minutes per side. Then turn all burners off except the rear burner and grill over indirect heat for 3-4 minutes per side. The tuna steaks will be medium rare. For rarer tuna, reduce time on both types of heat by 1 minute. Enjoy with mustard and the roasted roma tomatoes featured earlier this week!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Whistle while you work

This would be wonderful if I could in fact whistle. I cannot. It's painful to hear me try too apparently. I can also not make the sound of a phone ringing. You know, when you played make believe and the phone would ring, you (and everybody else you knew) would make the ringing sound. I however, was that special friend, who had to say, "ring ring" when my pretend phone was ringing. Ugh.

After that little side trip, the point today is to enjoy yourself. Enjoy the moment, whatever it is. And I mean, enjoy cleaning those plantation shutters one by one, if that is what you are called to do! A happy attitude will always make every task better.

While you are whistling through your housework, consider this as well. A little bit goes a long way. Rather than one dedicated day of house cleaning, YIKES, do a few things daily. You will soon discover your house is always fresher and you never lose 12 hours to cleaning the entire thing. We all know how I love the Clorox wipes and the 10 minute bathroom cleanup, but that philosophy can be used everywhere. Vacuuming is a great example. I vacuum everyday. Not the whole house, but different areas. My 8 year old yellow Labrador, Levity, helps motivate me to stay on top of this. And, not to brag but I've got to, I purchased a Shark Steamer on black Friday and oh the joy it has brought me. So, after I vacuumed the kitchen (I always vacuum rather than sweep with a broom, I mean come on) this morning, I whipped out my Shark and steam cleaned the kitchen in a jiffy! Voila!

Little bits at a time, then nothing is overwhelming. Laundry everyday, dishes never left in the dishwasher, clean clothes put away, 10 minute cleanup one bathroom a day.... you see where I am going with this.

I already feel better, don't you? So get up, find something that needs to be put away or a room to vacuum and smile your way through 2011. We will all be glad you did!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Better Than Sex Cake

Some people love-love-love sweets. My sister is one of these who can't have a dessert rich enough. Bring on the decadence for her! If you have people like this in your life, or maybe you are said person, it's good to have a few recipes in your lineup to impress them by.

Who better to teach us decadence in the kitchen than Paula Deen?? Not only am I sure she is the nicest lady I have never met, I am also sure if I ever visit her in Savannah, I will want to move there. Just so you know. The following cake recipe is from Paula's restaurant, The Lady & Sons, and not only is it a cinch to make, it will leave a lasting memory on everyones palate who enjoys it. Make sure to make it the night before you need it, trust me, it's better. The real name of this cake should be Better (wear your elasticized pants) Than Sex Cake.

Better Than Sex? Yes!
The Lady & Sons Savannah Country Cookbook

  • 18 1/2oz package chocolate cake mix
  • 14oz can sweetened condensed milk (Heaven in a can)
  • 6oz jar caramel topping (Found with the sundae toppings, I have only seen larger cans so just estimate or pour into a measuring cup)
  • 8oz Cool Whip
  • 4 Skor candy bars, crushed (Also known as Heath bars)

Prepare cake according to directions and bake in 9x13 inch pan. Pierce warm cake all over with a toothpick. Pour milk over cake. Pour caramel over cake. Chill. Before serving, top with whipped topping and sprinkle with crushed candy.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Roasted Tomatoes with Basil

Roma tomatoes are really weird. How is it they are always in season? And why is it that no recipes ever call for them? BECAUSE THEY HAVE NO TASTE!! Welcoming all of you housewives to the new and improved 2011, I am sure you are looking for new healthy ways to feed your people! This is a SUPER easy recipe from my dear friend, the Barefoot Contessa, and I know you will never want for answers to the Roma tomato questions that plague us all!

Roasted Tomatoes with Basil
Back to Basics
The Barefoot Contessa

  • 12 plum/Roma tomatoes halved lengthwise, seeds removed but core in tact. (You can use any number of tomatoes here)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons sugar (Don't worry, I know this seems odd)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 10 large fresh basil leaves, julienned (Didn't have these on hand so I used dried basil, no problem)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

(Spray your baking sheet with non-stick spray or you will have some casualties here) Arrange the tomatoes on a sheet pan, cut sides up, in a single layer. Drizzle with the olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle with garlic, sugar, salt, and pepper. Roast for 25 to 30 minutes, until the tomatoes start to caramelize and the flavors are concentrated. Sprinkle the basil on top and serve warm or at room temperature.