Friday, February 24, 2012

Foodie Friday

So Foodie Friday this week is a little pitiful.  I have had a cold all week that started Monday night, left me without a voice completely on Wednesday, and is still sticking around.  Needless to say, I haven't been up for a whole lot of cooking. 

Monday night, I tried out Mario Batali's Eggplant Parmigiana.  Definitely good for a vegetarian dish, but I can't say we are dying to have it again.  There's something about the sogginess that eggplant, zucchini, & squash tend to get when baked.  Worth a shot if you are a big eggplant fan.

I have pinned multiple recipes for making homemade apple chips on Pinterest, so I decided to try them out to take a healthy snack with us downtown for Fat Tuesday.  All the recipes are generally the same - core the apples and slice thin.  I used a mandoline.  Some I did 1/4" and some were 1/8"  I like the thinner ones better.  Then sprinkle with cinnamon & sugar, or leave plain.  The recipes vary on what temperature to bake the apples at.  The first batch I tried at 350 for an hour.  Let's just say they were crispy, but not edible.  The next batch I tried at 275 for almost 2 hours.  They are so close but not quite there.  They turned out chewy.  So not a success this go round, but I'm willing to try again.  I think on a low temperature for a longer period of time might be the key.  If you have a mandoline, it takes no time at all to prep the apples.  Stay tuned for Take #3!

 That's about it for recipes this week.  We did, however, make use of some Groupons and tried out a couple of restaurants.  The first was Taste of Vietnam.  I've mentioned before that Cameron loves Asian food, but especially loves Vietnamese.  We got some spring rolls for appetizers - Yum!  Cameron got the Pho (pronounced "fa") which is a traditional soup with noodles, vegetables, and beef or chicken.  If you're really brave you get the one with beef tendon and tripe in it!  I got Vermicelli with pork.  I have to say, I'm a fan!  My chopstick abilities could use some work though.  I can get by eating sushi, but noodles are a whole other story!

We also tried out Jamaican Vibes.  It's one of those strip mall type restaurants in an odd area that you always wonder if it's any good, but you're a little scared to find out.  Thanks to Living Social, we gave it a try and we were not disappointed.  Cameron and I both got jerk chicken with rice & beans and fried plantains.  I have never been to Jamaica, but Cameron has and he has talked about how much he wanted the jerk chicken again for as long as I have known him.  I think he finally found it.  I will admit that it was delicious, but about half way through the meal, I stopped tasting anything because my mouth was on fire!  But I could have eaten an entire plate of the plantains.  I love fried plantains!  Everytime I have been to the Caribbean/Central America, I think I eat them with every meal.  Maybe I should add them to my list of recipes to try out...


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Fat Tuesday and Ash Wednesday

The last few days of Mardi Gras were a whirlwind.  Friday night we headed down to the Crewe of Columbus parade.  Our friends, Harry & Lance, knew someone on one of the floats which meant we had tons of stuff flying our direction.  We are talking entire bags of beads!  I was just ducking for cover!  Harry was holding a drink in a Styrofoam cup but this is all that was left after the float passed by... 

We met up with our friends Mary & Poe and caught the parade a second time farther down the parade route.  We repeated the scenario previously described.  It was a great parade and a fun night.  Thankfully there were no injuries!

The weather on Saturday was awful, which meant the parades were postponed until Sunday.  We did, of course, brave the rain for the Mystics of Time (MOT) ball.  We had a great time dancing the night away with friends. 
 with my cousin Courtney and Sean
 with Mary

On Sunday, also known as Joe Cain Day in Mobile, we had planned to spend the day watching parades, especially my favorite - the MOT dragons that breathe smoke.  However, our very late night on Saturday took a lot out of us so we opted to stay in.  A sure sign you are getting old!

Fat Tuesday started bright and early.  We headed downtown to claim our spot in the parking garage on royal street, then had breakfast at spot of tea.  Several parades roll on the last day of Mardi Gras.  The Knights of Revelry were recently featured on the show Dirty Jobs.  I learned that those big silver things the "Folly" is banging around are actually cow bladders that are blown up and spray painted.  Who knew?
The Folly

 The Excelsior Band

King Felix

 Cameron pretending to be the Situation from Jersey Shore
the fattest thing Harry has ever done (it's payback, Harry!)

 After the King & Queen of Mardi Gras, come the Comic Cowboys.  Now the Comic Cowboys are always fun.  They feature a man dressed up as their queen and the floats are far from impressive, but each float features some witty comment about local & national news, politics, etc.  Always good for a laugh.  Here are a few of my favorites: 

 I didn't get a picture of this one quick enough.  It says, "Welcome to Alabama the Beautiful.  No habla espanol."

Mardi Gras is so much fun, and I love to live in a town that really celebrates it.  But to be honest, its always a little bit of a relief when it draws to a close.  Today, Ash Wednesday, officially starts the 40 days of Lent.  I did not grow up in a home or church that observed Lent, but having married into an Episcopalian family I have learned more about this religious holiday.  It's a time to focus on Christ's sacrifice and committing to making a sacrifice in your life helps serve as a daily reminder of that.  Cameron has chosen to give up fast food.  I have decided to give up playing on the internet at night.  Now I know that sounds weird.  Why not the internet completely?  Quite frankly I don't know that it's possible in this day and time.  However, I find that I spend a lot of my spare time at night and on the weekends playing on the internet - shopping, playing on Facebook or Pinterest, or reading blogs.  I want to spend that time with my husband, exercising, being productive, rather than wasting the time on something so un-fulfilling.  So what are you giving up for Lent?


Friday, February 17, 2012

Foodie Friday

For this week's Meatless Monday, we tried out some Black Bean Burgers.  I got the recipe from Food Network, of course.  I have to say they were really good, and even Cameron said they're a keeper.  I didn't follow the recipe exactly and opted to use the food processor instead of mashing everything by hand.  Maybe not the best choice.  The bean mixture was a little to fine and I had trouble getting the bean mixture to stick together in patties.  Next time, I think I'll do what the expert says to do!

I also made some Roasted Sweet Potatoes to go with our "burgers."  I found them via Pinterest.  Cameron and I love sweet potatoes.  We eat them like baked potatoes, as fries (love the Alexia brand frozen ones), and occasionally we make chips.  I thought I'd try this out to give us one more way to eat our favorite vegetable (so maybe it's not really a true vegetable, but in my book it counts!)  We really liked them of course.  We cooked them a little too long, but otherwise they were great!

For our low-key Valentine's dinner, I tried out a Roasted Shrimp & Broccoli recipe.  Cameron didn't think it sounded appetizing until I told him it had cumin in it.  The man loves some cumin!  So easy & so good.  I recommend cutting back on the salt though.

This next dish is something so simple, I don't know that you really would call it a recipe!  It's not new to us, but so easy and good I wanted to share.  There are a million recipes out there for fish tacos and we've tried several.  If you are ever in the Gulf Shores area, try the fish tacos at Lulu's.  They rank pretty high on our list.  But we needed a good recipe for at home.  One day Cameron thought this one up and we haven't looked back since.  The key ingredient is Tiger Sauce.
We were first introduced to this at Tacky Jack's, another Gulf Shores/Orange Beach area restaurant.  It's like a sweet hot sauce.  We mix this with sour cream and prepackaged coleslaw.  Fry up some fish and serve it in tortillas with a little cilantro. Yum!

That's it for this week!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Happy Belated Valentine's Day!

I hope that everyone had a wonderful Valentine's Day yesterday!  As I mentioned earlier, Cameron & I usually keep Valentine's Day pretty low key.  We had a dinner date last weekend and cooked dinner at home last night.  I tried a new recipe that was delicious, but you'll have to wait until Friday for that!  Cameron did surprise me with cake bites from a local cupcake bakery, Twist Cupcakes.

WOW!  If you haven't gotten on board with the new cake bite trend, I suggest you do so now.  Those things are incredible!  Oh and if you notice that empty spot - I couldn't resist a taste before I snapped a picture.  Of course, Cameron has been sampling them as well.  Hmm, I wonder who he really bought them for?   :)

And what Valentine's Day would be complete without a chick flick?  We watched "I Don't Know How She Does It" with Sarah Jessica Parker.  I liked it.  Good movie with a good point.  Makes you realize how hard it can be for all the working moms out there!  That about sums up our V-Day.  Maybe not the most exciting, but a perfect evening in my mind!


Sunday, February 12, 2012

Laissez les bons temps rouler

Let the Good Times Roll!

Mardi Gras is in full swing in Mobile (home to the original Mardi Gras, in case you didn't know).  The first few parades started rolling a couple weeks ago, but with Mardi Gras falling early this year and coinciding with the tail end of hunting season, Cameron's birthday, etc, we didn't make it out to many of the early parades.  Last night, we headed downtown to watch several of the women's societies - Maids of Mirth, Order of Butterfly Maidens, & Krewe of Marry Mates.  We met some friends at the Garage, a popular bar downtown.  They have a roll-up metal garage door so patrons can stand inside and watch the parades.  Typically, I don't prefer this location because it tends to live up to the wild Mardi Gras reputation (yes, I am that old) and if a men's group is rolling, their whole goal is to get their throws INTO the bar.  It can become a little violent.  Rather than hands up, I tend to duck for cover!  However, our friends wanted to stand there and with it being a women's parade it, it wasn't too bad.  We had a fun time at our first parade of the season, but I really wish winter hadn't decided to show up!!  40 degrees and windy made it very cold!  I didn't think I was every going to thaw out.

Here are a few pictures from last night...
 Yes, I am eating the powdered sugar leftover from the funnel cake.  Harry quickly posted this one to Facebook, saying it's the fattest thing I've ever done.  He may be right.
Somehow I ended up holding multiple beers while everyone made bathroom runs.
 the Gills

Not sure why Lance looks so surprised...

 Harry and his faux Ray-Bans he caught

one of the MOM's floats

While we may not have made it to any parades earlier in the season, I did get my door decorated like any good Mobilian.  Door decorations for Mardi Gras are almost as crucial as Christmas.  Last year I made a ornament ball wreath.  However, it did not hold up well on the front door.  One too many slams of the storm door!  This year, I made some repairs and hung it over the fireplace.

For the front door, I attempted deco mesh for the first time.  I have been wanting to try this stuff out.  It's pretty easy to work with.  I did not buy the special wreath form.  Instead, I used a wire wreath frame I already had and bought some purple pipecleaners to attach the mesh.  You basically just bunch and attach.  Easy peasy.  I did take the first attempt apart because my bunches were too spaced out.  I had originally planned to use the green mesh I bought as well, but the store only had lime green and the other decorations were traditional green so I went straight purple.  Added some green glittery ribbon, some harlequin ribbon in mardi gras colors, a few gold fleur-de-lis, and a mask I spray painted gold.  Throw some old beads over the whole thing and its done.  The beauty of Mardi Gras decor is the gaudier the better!!

We have plans to hit up some more parades and will be heading to the Mystics of Time ball next weekend, so look for more pictures to come!

Happy Mardi Gras!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Foodie Friday

I'm a little late posting this week's Foodie Friday.  Cameron and I went out to celebrate Valentine's Day last night after work.  I'm not a huge Valentine's Day person, but it's always nice to have a date night.  We went to the Little House Bistro out in Semmes.  We have been before and really enjoyed it.  The restaurant is in a cute old home and space is limited so reservations are a must.  They do not serve alcohol but allow you to bring your own wine.  Last visit, we were scared to try the bacon cheesecake appetizer, but have heard so much about it since, we ordered it - DELICIOUS!  Cameron and I both agreed we could eat it as a meal!  Now I'm on the hunt for a similar recipe to see if I can replicate it at home.  Now on to the trial & errors of this week...

Most of my new recipes of the week were for Cameron's birthday party last weekend.  They are listed on the blog post about the party.  I found all of the recipes through Pinterest.  They were all good, but I can't say they will make it into regular rotation.

For Meatless Monday, I made Baked Tortellini.  So easy, but not exactly the vegetable heavy meal I think Cameron intended.  In my defense, he never specified that part! ;)  I at least served it with a salad!  This is so quick and simple to make.  I found the recipe via Pinterest and I think it's supposed to be for some special oven.  I left out the prosciutto (because of Meatless Monday) and probably only used half of the cheese.  I baked it at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes.  I tend to follow recipes exactly the first go-round, then adjust later.  I think you could easily make this with red sauce as well and make your own variations, like adding vegetables or meat.

The only other new recipe I tried out was Chicken Paprikash from Food Network Magazine.  In case you're wondering, "paprikash" is Hungarian for paprika.  We both really liked it.  I think you could easily use chicken breasts in place of the thighs.  I love boneless chicken thighs on the grill, but I find them to be too fatty otherwise.  My dish didn't look quite like their picture.  It turned out much more red.  Maybe Food Network uses some kind of white paprika I don't know about?  Oh well, it's still a keeper.

That's it for this week.  I'll try to have a few more for next week.  I've noticed I'm sticking with the main dishes again.  Time to branch out!


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Grumpy Old Men

In honor of Cameron turning 30 and becoming "old," I threw him a "Grumpy Old Men" party.  I asked our friends to dress in their best old geezer outfit.  Little did I know some of the guys would choose to dress like old women...

 Elliott decided to sport a mustache for the evening.  We decided he looked a little creepy...

30 candles

Entertainment for the night included corn hole and beer tasting.  We purchased multiple mix & match packs in a variety of beer types from a local package store.  I'm not a huge beer connoisseur, but even I enjoyed taste testing a few and I know Cameron loved it.  My new personal favorite is Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale.  Our friends Mary & Poe brought this one to the party.  Unfortunately, it's hard to find locally and Mary brings it back when she visits family in Kentucky.  If you ever get the chance to try it, I highly recommend it.

The menu for the event was made entirely of beer-related recipes.  They were all good and fit right in with the beverages.
 Beer Brats
Beer Boiled Shrimp
Beer Mac & Cheese
Beer Dip with Pretzels
Beer & Cheese Fondue
Guinness Chocolate Cake

The Blue Moon cupcakes are something I have made before.  They are so good.  The icing is a little weird.  It definitely imitates the froth of a beer, but tends to deflate.  So if you don't eat them within 24-48 hours, it's a bit of a mess.  You could always add a little orange juice to regular icing instead.

If you notice in the picture of Cameron blowing out the candles on his birthday cake, the top of the beer is missing.  Our sweet little Lilly decided the cake was too irresistible.  Unfortunately, it contains a large amount of cocoa powder between the cake & icing, so I ended up doing a little vet work to induce vomiting.  Fun times.

Overall, I think the party was a success.  Cameron had fun and I think our friends did too.  Now I have 15 months before I'm old too! ;)

Monday, February 6, 2012


Tonight is a great night to give an update on my running goals.

Tonight, I ran for 20 MINUTES NONSTOP for the first time in my life!

Now I know, that doesn't sound like much to all the runners out there, but it's a pretty big accomplishment for me.  It wasn't that long ago that 5 minutes seemed like an eternity.  I have about a month and a half until the Azalea Trail Run, so I still have work to do, but it seems so much more attainable now.

I thought I would share my new favorite running song.  I was looking for songs to add to my Ipod running playlist, appropriately titled "skinny minny," and I came across Kelly Clarkson's new song.  At first, I wasn't sure I liked it or not, but it's now a favorite and the chorus at least is very fitting.

Now, I'm off to collapse on the couch with some junk TV! :)


Friday, February 3, 2012

Happy Birthday Cameron!

Today is Cameron's 30th birthday!!  He took the day off work and is headed to the Gulf with friends to go fishing.  Hunting season is over so on to the next hobby (sport?)...  While I will miss spending the day with him, I'm glad he's getting to do something he enjoys and I have lots to do to get ready for his birthday party tomorrow.  Stay tuned for some priceless pictures...


A little paint

So what did I do last weekend (and add a second coat to yesterday)?  A painted banister.  So when we bought our house it was full of 80's oak everywhere - trim, cabinets, & the banister on the stairs.  The first two we took care of immediately, but Cameron wasn't exactly on board for the banister at first.  Honestly, it wouldn't have been that bad except there were paint drips from the previous owner's paint job on the hallway, and the fact that the front door is a very dark stain.  Two very different stains in one small area really bothered me.  Of course, we could have gone the route of re-staining, but my first attempt at staining was not very successful.  So I looked to Pinterest for some inspiration and to add to my argument with the hubs.

Cameron finally caved - several months ago.  I re-painted the spindles last November and if you've been to our house any time in the last couple months, you would have seen blue painter's tape all over the stairs.  Well, this weekend I finally decided to tackle to project.  My first color attempt was the very dark espresso we painted the bathroom vanity.  However, shortly into the job, I decided it wasn't dark enough and headed to Lowe's, where I purchased a very dark brownish-grey-black.  Unfortunately, in the morning sun on Sunday morning, it looked very grey.  Rather than head to Lowe's again, I opted to give the original color a second chance.  While I wish it was a little more on the blackish-brown side, I'm concerned solid black will be too stark.  So we are calling it done - except for all the touch-ups I now have to do thanks to the painter's tape. :(  What do you think?

Unfortunately for Cameron, I'm already itching to tear up the carpet and do this...