Monday, February 28, 2011

Spring-like Weekend With Family and Food....What Could Be Better?

This was a wonderful weekend and I just don't know what could have made it any better!  The weather was in the 80's and the daffodils are in full bloom.  I just had to bring a little bit of that heaven into my classroom today!  Brooke and Brice came in from Charleston and mama was in the kitchen cooking up lots of meals!  I don't know why I feel like I've got to feed my family the whole time they are home....I guess it's just a mother the fact that I have no one to cook for during the week with hubby traveling, so when they are all home, I'm in the kitchen.  Friday night we had a favorite family recipe.  It's actually a recipe from The Wreck of the Salty Dog Cafe in Hilton Head Island, SC.  It's one of those one pot meals that goes a long way and is delicious with every mouthful...and if you love shrimp and're gonna love this recipe.  My advice on this recipe is this . . . chop everything first and then start cookin'!

Salty Dog's Shrimp Purloo

8 slices bacon, diced  (now any recipe that starts off with 8 slices of bacon has got to be good!)
1 lb. med to large shrimp
1 1/2 cups long grain rice
1/2 cup wild rice
1 cup onion diced
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
2 cups diced fresh tomatoes with juice
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 lb. smoked beef sausage or kielbasa - sliced in about 1/2" - 1" rounds
1 tablespoon Worchestershire sauce
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon sugar
Salt and pepper to taste and a few dashes of hot sauce if you like (I usually let everyone just add their own hot sauce to their plate because I don't like hot stuff!!  The cayenne pepper adds enough kick for me!)

Before you begin your sauce go ahead and cook your 2 cups combined white and wild rice as you normally would.  I use a rice steamer which makes it perfect everytime!!  Now for the sauce....

First, cook bacon in pot until crisp.  Remove bacon but leave drippings.  Add onion and cook 1 minute.  Then add garlic and cook another minute.  Add tomatoes and tomato paste and stir to combine.  Next add tomato paste, worchestershire sauce, and sugar and simmer on low heat (covered).  You may want to adjust your flavors to your liking.  This is the sauce.  Now that you've made the sauce, it's time to make the purloo.  (I don't spell purloo like they do in this recipe...I don't know which is correct but I spell it perlo!)

In a large pan saute 1 lb shrimp in 2 tablespoons butter until they are all pink.  Remove from pan and add sausage.  Saute sausage until it is a little brown (it's already done you just want to heat and brown it a little).  Add the shrimp back into the large pan, add cooked rice, sauce and fried bacon.  Stir well and season with salt/pepper and cayenne pepper.  (I usually don't use quite a 1/4 tsp cayenne because I'm not one for hot food so season as you like)

I served oven roasted asparagus and garlic toast with the perlo and it was delicious.

Sunday's dinner was another favorite and again, there is a lot of chopping and prep but once that's done, the rest is easy as pie.  For some reason Boeuf Bourguignon has always sounded like the hardest thing in the world to make but actually it's not!  I think because it's French and has that long name it sounds daunting.  There are lots of ingredients in this recipe but like I said earlier, if you prep everything ahead of time, cooking it up is not difficult at all.  This is Ina Garten's recipe out of her Barefoot in Paris cookbook.  She is my all time favorite cook/personality on the FoodTV network.  She makes cooking seem so effortless and really it is.  I'll have to do a whole post on Ina because she is wonderful!

Boeuf Bourguignon

1 tablespoon good olive oil
8 oz. bacon, diced
2 1/2 pounds beef chuck cut into 1 inch cubes
kosher salt
freshly ground pepper
1 pound carrots, sliced diagonally into 1-inch chunks
2 yellow onions, sliced
2 teaspoons chopped garlic (2 cloves)
1/2 cup cognac or good brandy (I do leave this out because I never buy brandy or cognac)
1 bottle dry red wine (I use Pinot Noir)
2 - 2 1/2 cups beef broth
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
4 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature, divided
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 pound frozen small pearl onions (1 use about 1/2 lb)
1 pound mushrooms - sliced thickly

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.

Heat olive oil in a large Dutch oven.  Add the bacon and cook over medium heat until crisp.  Remove bacon with a slotted spoon when browned.  Dry beef cubes and salt and pepper well.  In batches in a single layer sear the beef in the hot bacon drippings 3-5 minutes, turning to brown on all sides.  Remove seared meat to the plate with the cooked bacon.  Set aside.

Toss the carrots, onions, 1 tablespoon of salt and 2 teaspoons of pepper into the fat in the pan and cook over medium heat for 10-12 minutes stiring occasionally, until the onions are lightly browned.  Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute.  Add the cognac (if you are using it) and ignite with a match to burn of fthe alcohol.  Put the meat and bacon back into the pot with any juices.  Add the wine plus enough beef broth to almost cover the meat.  Add the tomato paste and thyme.  Bring to a boil, cover the pot with a tight fitting lid, and place in the oven for about 1/1/4 hours or until the meat and vegetables are tender when pierced with a fork.  Remove from oven and place on top of the stove.

Combine 2 tablespoons of the butter and the flour with a fork and stir into the stew.  Add the frozen onions.  In a medium pan, saute the mushrooms in the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat for about 10 minutes, or until lightly browned, and then add to the stew.  Bring the stew to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer uncovered for 15 minutes.  Season to taste.

Take a large loaf of country bread or bagget and cut on the diagonal.  Toast in the oven.  Once you remove it from the oven rub each slice of bread on one side with a raw garlic clove.  For each serving spoon the stew over a slice of bread.

Now you have two new recipes to try on your family this week!  I bet you will find they are so easy to prepare and your family will love you for it!   Bon appetit!


Thursday, February 24, 2011

Summer Wine Tote

My sewing project last night was making this wine tote.  Several weeks ago one of the lunch bunch girls brought me a wine tote and asked me if I could monogram it for her, but, it was made out of that foam stuff and not very durable.  I don't know what you call it, but it's thin and you can buy it in sheets a craft stores.  Maybe it's called Fun Foam.  It's definitely not suitable for sewing or monogramming because it will tear on the stitching line, which was evident on the tote she brought.  Of course, after a quick inspection I said to her, "I can't monogram it but, I think I can make this!"  And so I did.  I practiced on one for her making it out of material with lighthouses and using navy belting for the handles.  Really cute for the summer!  But, loving pink and green the way I do, I decided to make my daughter one and this is the final product.  It wasn't hard to make at all, just a little tough sewing in some areas because I put a thin layer of batting between the layers for a cushion and it was a little thick.  So, tell me what you think!  I think this would make a really neat gift for someone...especially if you added the ChocoVine!  You might even see this in a Giveaway pretty soon!

We Have A Winner!

First of all I want to thank everyone for entering my Pink and Green Giveaway!  Ya'll wrote the nicest comments and I have made so many new friends in Blogland!  We have a winner!!  I just did it the old fashion way and wrote everyone's name on slips of paper and drew one out of the basket.  There were 35 entries in all and the winner is. . . . Susie at Hillcrest Acres!!!  CONGRATULATIONS!  Keep reading, there will be more giveaways in the future!! 

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Cute Clutch Giveaway!

Check out this CUTE Clutch Giveaway at Meant To Be Happy
This is perfect for St. Patrick's Day!  Deadline is February 23!

Does Color Matter?

Okay, I know you are going to think I'm crazy for writing about this and, you probably distantly hear the theme from the Twilight Zone playing, but when I get something on my mind I just have to find out about it and today was the day I decided to inquire.  There are certain colors that I just love, and one color that I have been in love with for years is seafoam green.  When I was a little girl I wanted the box of 64 Crayola Crayons just to get the seafoam green!  When we built our house 23 years ago my primary color of decor was seafoam green, the eggs that I blogged about were beautiful because they were tones of aqua and seafoam green,  and today I wore a sweater that I just can't stop looking at and guess's aqua green.  I decided I needed to find out why I am drawn to that color so I googled it (I google everything) and found several websites dedicated to the phychology of color.  When I have time I will read deeper but what I did find was some interesting information you might like to explore!  I now know why I'm hungry from the time I walk into my classroom until I leave at the end of the's yellow and that evokes hunger.  OMG...I'm in trouble!  I also took a test that I found on this webpage about The Meaning of Color.  It was right on the money...I couldn't believe how close it came to my personality and feelings.  Here are a few other resouces about color you might like.  I can't wait to read more and find out just why I love seafoam green!!  Have fun searching! 

Websmart Color - helps you figure out web colors for your webpage or blog
Color Theory - How color affects us

Giveaway Reminder! Last Day to Enter!

Today is the last day to enter my Pink and Green Giveaway!  I will draw a winner first thing Thursday morning and announce it!  Scroll down to my Pink and Green Giveaway post and enter before it's too late!  Good luck to everyone!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Happy Birthday George!

Today is George Washington's birthday!  Happy Birthday George!  George Washington was born on February 22, 1732....279 years ago!  It's sad to think that little is said of George now that his birthday has turned into President's Day.  I remember when growing up there was always a picture of George Washington in my classroom, and every year we would have cherry jello for lunch on his birthday.  For those of you who don't know why we had cherry jello, it was just a token of remembrance for George and the story of how he cut down the cherry tree as a young boy.  The story isn't true, but the memory of having that cherry jello and knowing it was in celebration of his birthday will always be remembered.  He was our first president and served from 1789-1797.  He laid the foundation for our country.   Thank you George and Happy Birthday!  Want to learn a little more about George?  Click HERE  to read a short biography.  In honor of George's birthday I'm adding an extra treat to my GIVEAWAY!  It's a surprise so don't forget to scroll down and enter.  You don't have to do everything listed, do as much as you can but leave a comment and tell me what you did.  Each item is an entry!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

A Full Weekend and Spring Is In The Air!

This has been a pretty full weekend and I've enjoyed every minute of it!  Spring is in the air in Columbia, SC and I was drawn to work in the yard....but not before I fretted for two days over deleting my blog background!  Yes...what a dumb thing I did, of course by accident, and I'm mad at myself for one slight click of the mouse!  I was trying to be cordial and add someones button to my sidebar and when it didn't work, I deleted the wrong thing.  Problem is, I didn't have the code backed up anywhere and when I went to the website where I got it, it was no longer available.  Pooh!  So, I started the search for a new one but nothing, I mean nothing, struck my fancy.  I finally decided on the one you see here and I guess it will do for now.  Hopefully I will locate my old one and I will feel like I'm at home again...right now I'm trying to get use to the new look!  I am so ready for spring!  It is so comforting knowing it's in front of me instead of behind me!  I've even made the switch with my nail polish from my winter OPI Big Apple Red to my summer OPI Cajun Shrimp!  My only dread is the pollen that I know will be here in about 2-3 weeks!  The weather here has been wonderful so, Saturday morning I was out bright and early in my back yard cleaning out flower beds, trimming hedges, and raking leaves while my hubby cleaned out the pool.  My first daffodil of the season has bloomed and by next weekend they will all be in bloom!  I can't wait!  My peonies have just broken ground and tiny little red leaves are popping out in the trees!  The dreaded chore of cutting back all my crepe myrtles is something I put off until it just has to be done, but this year I am determined to have everything pruned by the end of February.  I have one week to finish this task, but if the weather holds out, I think I'll get it done.  I did finish my myrtles and they look bald.  Here is a picture of how they looked in the fall and how they look now. 

Pretty pitiful, huh?   This weekend's weather is just a tease I know, but it did inspire me to get busy with everything that has to be done.  My plans for Saturday night supper went by the wayside when hubby and I decided to take a break for a late lunch causing neither one of us to be hungry at suppertime, so guess what I ended up snacking on instead?  You got it, ice cream....but not any ordinary ice cream!  This was gelato and I found it at Publix.  Actually I saw it a couple weeks ago and recommended it to my daughter and she loves it.  I decided to try some myself and I am hooked.  It is absolutely delicious...ya'll it is so good it will make your tongue slap your brains out. 
It's called Talenti Gelato.  You've got try it, but beware, it's additive!  I tried Sea Salt Caramel which has chucks of chocolate coated caramels in it.  Smooth as silk.  I think it's taken the place of Ben and Jerry's Chunky Monkey which has been my all time favorite!  Try it, but will be hooked!

Sunday's lunch ended up being what was suppose to be Saturday night's supper which was a London Broil I had been marinating.  My husband grilled it and it was so good...I though you might like the marinade I use.  It's a family favorite and the longer it marinates the better.  I usually try to let it marinate 24 hours but at least 8 hours is enough.

London Broil Marinate

4 tsp. Adolph's Meat Tenderizer
2 T. table sugar
4 T. cooking sherry
4 T. soy sauce
2 T. honey
2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. Accent

Mix all ingredients together and microwave about 30 seconds to melt the honey.  Pour over London Broil and marinate for 8 - 24 hours. 

Here are two more recipes I will share. The Lunch Bunch girls are tired of fixing lunch and....we're tired of trying to think of something good to fix for lunch, so, we are each bringing a salad to share tomorrow and for the rest of the week, or however long it lasts.  I am taking a marinated vegetable salad which is good because the longer it marinates, the better it gets.  This will last about a week in the fridge.  It makes a lot so it's a good dish for a large crowd and especially good for tailgating.

Marinated Vegetable Salad

1 can French Style Green Beans
1 can sliced carrots
1 can bean sprouts
1 can sliced water chestnuts
1 can green peas
1 can whole kernel corn
1 2-oz jar chopped pimento
1 2-oz jar green olives
3 stalks celery chopped
1 green pepper chopped
1 small purple onion, chopped (I don't use the whole onion because I'm not real big on raw onions)

Drain all canned veggies and dump in bowl.  Add the remaining ingredients and add dressing.  Cover and marinate overnight.


1 1/2 cups vinegar (I use apple cider vinegar)
1 1/2 cups water
2 tablespoons oil
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons (or less) salt
1/2 tablespoon pepper

Combine all ingredients and whisk togeter.
I enjoy this recipe because the whole bowl only has 2 T. oil and all those's got to be healthy!  Great thing to have for a snack too.

While I was in the kitchen I decided I couldn't send hubby on the road this week without something homemade so I made him a bowl of one of my own concoctions.  I made this up a couple years ago and it's been a family favorite ever since.  It's a really good pasta salad that he loves and will keep about a week in the fridge.  It has a Greek flair to it and easy to make, just a lot of chopping!  Now keep in mind I made this up so you can adjust the amounts as you fact I just dump the ingredients in a bowl and keep tasting it until I think it's there.

Orzo Pasta Salad

8 oz. cooked Orzo pasta
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
2-3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
4 oz. feta cheese
3 green onions chopped
1/2 bottle drained capers
1 medium chopped red pepper
1 small can sliced black olives
chopped fresh baby spinach (add as much or as little as you like)
salt/pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

Cook pasta and drain.  Add olive oil and toss.  Add remaining ingredients and toss well.  You can adjust the vinegar, olive oil and herbs to your liking.

Hope you enjoy these recipes and don't forget to enter my Pink and Green Giveaway in the post below.  You don't have to do everything that is listed.  Just make sure you tell me in your comment what you did because each thing will count as an entry!   Hope you all have a wonderful week!  Think spring!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Pink and Green Giveaway!

Temperatures have warmed to 70 degrees in the Palmetto State and the urge to pull out my spring attire has got me thinking pink and green...two of my favorite colors for spring and summer!  Being the proper southern girl that I am though, I have squelched the urge until the proper time, and have put my pink and green into a GIVEAWAY!!!   This giveaway is one that everyone can use...a cute pink and green personalized ribbon notepad, 8 monogrammed paisley notecards with envelopes and 20 personalized paisley calling cards...all for you and here's whatcha do...
  • You must be a follower of my blog
  • Post my giveaway on your sidebar
  • Refer someone to my blog.  They must tell me who referred them in their comment
  • Blog about my giveaway
  • Mention my blog and giveaway on Facebook
  • Leave one comment telling me what you did

You don't have to do everything that is listed, just do what you can and list each item in your comment....each thing you do will count as a separate entry!  The deadline for all entries is Wednesday, February 23.  The winner will be announced on Thursday, February 24.  Good luck to all who enter!

I Have Eggs Like Martha!

Several years ago, back when the original Martha Stewart Living show came on t.v., Martha did an episode on "things that inspire her".  I found while watching the show that we both keep a notebook with pictures, colors, fabrics and things that "inspire" us.  In her notebook she had taped shells from the eggs her chickens had laid.  The colors were beautiful...all of my favorites from light peaches to beautiful seafoam greens and aquas!  She went on to say her hens laid the beautifully hued eggs and that she loved the colors so much, she saved the shells because they were going to be the inspiration for her paint collection.  Of course this was years ago and she has come up with lots of colors since then, but I thought it was so interesting that egg shells, of all things, inspired her color chart!  Well, this weekend one of my mother's friends gave her 3 dozen eggs from her chickens and mama shared a dozen with me!  Oh my goodness!  I was so excited when I opened up the carton and there in all their glory and beautiful color were "Martha Eggs"!  I couldn't get over how pretty they were but, I could see right away why the colors were Martha's inspiration!  The picture below doesn't do them justice, but the colors are a beautiful olive and shades of aqua and peach.  I need these at Easter!  I hate to cook them but fresh eggs are so rich and good, I know they will be delicious!  Maybe I'll save the shells and tape them in my book of inspirations!  God gives us a color palette so rich and beautiful...we just need to open our eyes!

This picture really doesn't show their true colors but I just had to share!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Lunch Bunch Girls Celebrate Birthdays!

For those of you who did not catch my post awhile back about who the Lunch Bunch Girls are, let me catch you up!  The Lunch Bunch Girls are 6 ladies who have all eaten lunch together for the past 3 or 4 years.  We have a lot in common and one of our favorite things to do is talk about food, cook food, share food, and celebrate with food!  Yes, we celebrate everything with a meal!  Sometimes we just celebrate the fact that we still feel like cooking and bring enough for everyone to share at lunch!  So, it is only befitting that when one of us has a birthday...we've got to have a meal.  Last week we celebrated the birthdays of Donna and Lesli.  Donna's birthday is January 20 and Lesli's birthday is July 29 but since it's so hard for us to get together in the summer (we are all in education and just go wild in the summer when we have a little freedom and you just can't get us all together at the same time!) we celebrate Lesli's half birthday in January.  Everyone met at my house for our birthday dinner and decided our menu would consist of salads!  Now I didn't say salads as in "diet" because our salads were far from calorie free!  We each prepared a different salad (except for the honorees...they just show up and eat and open presents!  What fun!!) and I prepared apps and dessert which was homemade coconut ice cream and birthday cake.  I have been decorating cakes for 27 years and one day I'll have to do a post on my many adventures in cake decorating, but for now I will just share a picture of the cake I made for Donna and Lesli and tell you... it is such a joy to be able to make a special cake for such special friends!  Here are a few pictures of our celebration...we had so much fun and the best food we had all night was of course....laughter!

Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday Donna!

Happy Birthday Lesli

The Lunch Bunch Girls (minus me!) Sara, Joyce, Donna, Lesli, and Diane

Here is a picture of another cake I baked last week for a dear friend who needed a birthday cake.  I no longer do cakes everytime someone asks for one, but on occasion someone will ask if I still bake cakes and if time and energy permits, I will do it!

Now for the recipes I used for the Coconut ice cream and Curried Rice salad.  Everytime I take the curried rice salad to a function it is always a is especially good with barbecue and it's the perfect dish for a tailgate!  This recipe was meant to be made in 2 steps but if you are running short of time don't worry about it...I've thrown it all together at once!

Curried Rice Salad

1 cup rice cooked as usual with 3 chicken boullion cubes added to the water
1/4 cup minced onion
1 cup diced celery
1 tsp. curry powder
salt and pepper to taste
1 box green peas (English peas) thawed
1/2 cup Italian dressing plus 2 tablespoons
1/2 cup mayonnaise

Cook rice as usual using 3 boullion cubes in the water.  Pour frozen peas into a collander and rinse with hot water until they are completely thawed and at room temperature.  Add the peas to the rice and add onion, curry, salt, pepper and 2 tablespoons Italian dressing.  Stir and refrigerate this mixture overnight.  (you can skip that part and go right to the next!)  The next day add the celery, 1/2 cup Italian dressing and 1/2 cup mayonnaise and stir well.  This keeps a while in the fridge but it probably won't last too long on your dinner table!

Curried Rice Salad

One night I was eating a delicious coconut creamcicle or popcicle, I'm not sure what it was, but there I was in seventh heaven and what did I say....of course...I'm gonna try to make this!  So...this is the recipe I came up with and everyone seems to enjoy it.  I have a Cuisinart Countertop Ice Cream Maker that I LOVE and that is what I used to make this ice cream.  If you don't have a countertop ice cream maker and love ice cream you definitely need to get one of these babies!  It makes just the right amount of ice cream and you can really get creative with the flavors. 

Here is my version of coconut ice cream!

Becky's Coconut Icecream

1 can coconut cream (you can find this where they have drink mixes for pina coladas)
Half and Half
1 tsp. coconut flavoring
3/4 cup angel flake coconut

Using a 4 cup measuring cup pour the can of coconut cream in and then fill to the 4 cup line with half and half.  Add coconut flavoring and stir well.  Start countertop ice cream maker and pour liquid into the frozen bowl.  Let churn for 30-40 minutes and then add the angel flake coconut.  Let ice cream churn for about 2 minutes and spoon into a freezer container and freeze until firm.

That's all there is to it and it is soooo would probably be even better with some chocolate chips mixed in or hot fudge on mouth is watering as I type this!  Well, that's about all for now!