Saturday, July 5, 2014

Celebrating Baby Atlas Vivian Amongst Dear Friends

My sweet friend Lauren and I met through our Sunday school class with baby bumps and due just a few days apart.
Precious Shepard ended up being born a few weeks after Collins since Collins decided to come a few weeks early and Shepard decided to be late. Those two babies and us mommas have been friends from the beginning. And don't even get me started on our husbands....they have a serious "bromance" going on. Lauren and I also joined the same bible study/small group with our husbands and a few other couples from our sunday school class and while it proved quite hard for us parents to meet on a regular basis, us mommas and wives have remained dear friends. While we haven't been able to keep up with a small group, we have gained ourselves an accountability group without even trying. Their friendship is a sweet blessing in my life and we can group text encouragement, frustrations, baby tips and 911 prayer requests like the best of them!

The encouragement of these girls as moms and wives is refreshing and God sent. They keep me looking to God and seeking Him in the midst of the things God has me doing in this life. Getting together is not as easy nor as often as we would like but our time together is always some of the best moments shared.

Well, when Lauren found out she was having baby #2 and would need girl stuff after her world of blue, we couldn't let her have a sweet baby girl without a proper celebration so us girls got together to do just that.

On a Friday night, we had a much needed girls night with us and Lauren's closest loved ones. I was in charge of games:) and we had a great time and of course, delicious food. I chose two new recipes that I was dying to make: Tennessee Caviar and Bruschetta Goat Cheese Cups and thankfully it all turned out yummy.
 Tennessee Caviar
(I love this recipe because of the name AND because you can prep it ahead. Well, and it is incredibly easy and good:)
1 (15oz) can black eyed peas
1 (11 oz) can yellow corn with red and green bell peppers
3 plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 cup hot picante sauce
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
Tortilla chips

Rinse and drain peas and corn.
Stir together peas, corn, tomatoes, and next 5 ingredients in a serving bowl; cover and chill at least 2 hours. Serve with tortilla chips

Bruschetta-Goat Cheese Cups
1 (1.4 oz) package crispy pastry shells
1 (4 oz) goat cheese log, crumbled
1/2 cup refrigerated sweet pepper, vegetable, and olive bruschetta topping or tapenade
Garnish: Fresh thyme leaves

Place shells in a shallow pan. Divide goat cheese evenly between shells, pressing gently to fill bottom of each. Spoon 1 tsp. bruschetta topping into each shell 
Bake at 350 for 4 to 5 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Garnish, if desired.

            Since this shower,  Lauren had her precious baby girl, Atlas Vivian and she is just a blessing. 

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Sunday, June 1, 2014

Friends that are Family and Artichoke Frittata

Jason and I struggled with going back home to Louisiana over Easter a few weeks ago. Easter in Louisiana means crawfish boils with our families and dying eggs with the cousins then hunting them, and me and my sisters acting silly and breaking out to hysterics in Easter mass. But when the busy weekends add up with travels and events, the thought of making one more drive seems more daunting than exciting. So we pulled the plug sadly and did what we knew we had to and that was to tell our family that we would be staying put here in Houston. Thankfully we see them so much more so they understood and let us off the hook!

We knew it was meant to be when we were invited to a crawfish boil here in Houston on Good Friday. See?? God knows our hearts desires!:) Collins loved being on the farm getting dirty and we loved eating crawfish with Houston friends.  We even gave a few crawfish peeling lessons:)

On Saturday we got to play with our sweet friends and let the babies dye Easter eggs together. It was just like we wanted to do in Louisiana! These two were a mess after the dying process was done. All Collins wanted to do was eat the eggs...

On Sunday, we got to attend church service at our home church and then off to Gabe's for Easter brunch, as well as a birthday party to celebrate her precious Ryan's first birthday and an easter egg hunt, too.  It was a perfect way to spend the day.....

 So in the end, we spent Easter weekend doing the things that mean the most on a sacred weekend but with friends that feel like family. Isn't God good like that? And Easter Sunday with a 16 month old was so much fun. While the Easter bunny did not bring much at all, the few things that were there (sand toys and 2 books) were waiting for her and she knew right away that those things were for her. She threw down her little sippy cup of milk and ran right over to her new treats.

For Easter brunch, Gabe told me to bring nothing but I had to bring something. This girl can't show up empty handed:) So knowing we would be in church on Sunday morning, I made an artichoke frittata that was so easy to prep ahead and pop into the oven before we left. And it was delicious!

Artichoke Frittata

2 cans of artichoke hearts, quartered
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup EVOO
12 large eggs
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 pinch nutmeg
salt and pepper
lemon wedges for garnish

Preheat the oven to 400. In a bowl, toss the artichokes with the flour to coat.
In a skillet, heat the EVOO, over medium high heat. Add the artichokes and fry until lightly golden, about 5 minutes. In a bowl, beat together the eggs, cream, cheese, parsley and nutmeg; season with salt and pepper. Pour the eggs over the artichokes and cook until just set. 
Transfer the fritatta to the oven and bake until set and golden, 10 to 12 minutes. Let cool, then slice into quarters and serve with lemon wedges 

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Sunday, May 4, 2014

Carson Claire is Almost Here!

A few weeks ago, the phone lines were hot between the sisters getting all details planned for Claire's baby shower. As you can imagine, Jenny and I were bossing each other around and Claire Bear (the guest of honor) was bossing us around too. It is what we do best when we are all excited about something...we just can't help ourselves. And in the knick of time, we pulled off one sweet little shower if I don't mind saying so myself.

We packed all we owned (at least it felt like that with all of the shower decor and stuff for 2 adults, one dog and a baby) and headed south to Houma, Louisiana. Jenny and her clan (with mom and dad in tow) did the same and we skyped on the way. We just love each other like that. It was a full house the minute we all arrived and you would think we were all staying for a week! Poor preggers Claire had her beautiful house all beautiful and we had it turned upside down within minutes. The next day we got our rears in gear and bossed the men around while we got everything ready and Claire's house cleaned for the millionth time since we had arrived. Jason even managed to get a few baby bump pictures which turned out so well. My sister looks just so beautiful.

Guests started arriving as  all of us girls were finishing up getting ready but somehow we pulled it off. It was a perfect afternoon celebrating our newest bundle to arrive. Carson Claire is going to be so loved AND spoiled! I can't wait to hold her. Any day now!

The menu was oh so yummy and barely anything left...even at a 2pm shower! The men (and babies) did finish off what was left after they were allowed to come home:)

Thank goodness that my sisters and I go a little overboard in planning. I did what I did best and planned 2 recipes that I had never cooked before and with an ingredient that I had never touched..won ton wrappers, which are now my most favorite ingredient ever. But everything turned out delicious...thank God! It is Jason's pet peeve that I try out new recipes on important occasions. I always tell him that IF the recipe is a bust then I will go grab pizza. So far that has only happened once:)

I made Sausage Won Ton Cups and Phyllo Cheese Straws...both things that I knew Claire would love. Give that girl cheese any day and she is a happy camper. And both were delicious!

Sausage Won Ton Cups
1 pound hot sausage, browned and crumbled
 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1 1/2 cup shredded monterey jack cheese
1/2 cups ranch dressing
1/3 cup red bell pepper
1 jalapeno chili, seeded and minced
1 (16oz) pkg 3 1/2 inch won ton wrappers

Mix sausage with cheeses, ranch salad dressing, bell peppers and jalapeno chili in bowl.
Spray a mini muffin cup pan with cooking spray. Place one wrapper in each muffin cup, pressing inside to form a little cup. Spray the wrappers lightly with spray. Bake in a preheated 350 oven for 5 minutes. Spoon 1 heaping of sausage filling into each won ton cup. Bake for 9 to 10 minutes or until heated through. Remove from pan and serve hot. 
Makes 48 
Recipe adapted from Marshes to Mansions

Phyllo Cheese Straws
1 lb feta cheese, finely crumbled
1/4 cup parsley
1/2 of a 16 oz.pkg of frozen phyllo sheets
1/2 cup butter, melted

Mix feta and parsley. With sharp knife cup the stack of phyllo sheets in half crosswise to make 40  (9x7 inch) rectangles. 
Lightly brush 1 rectangle with melted butter. On rectangle, spread 1 tablespoon feta filling in a 3/4 inch strip along one short edge. Fold in the long sides of the phyllo, 1 inch on each side and tightly roll the phyllo dough into a thin, straw shape log. Brush seam with butter. Place log, seam side down on a baking sheet. Brush with more butter. Repeat with remaining filing and rectangles. Bake in a 400 degree oven for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden and crisp. Serve warm. 
Make ahead: Freeze baked straws in freezer. Reheat in 350 degree oven for 8 minutes or until crisp.

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Saturday, April 19, 2014

Spring Break Play Date + Lunch=A Sweet Day

Every now and then you meet a friend and just hit it off. And in my world that means someone who likes to talk like me and you don't run out of things to talk about:) And in this case it was my friend, Amy. She greeted me at the door of the Blueprints Sunday School class when we first moved to Houston and were trying out sunday school classes at First Baptist Houston. Amy immediately made me feel right at home and welcomed and that always means the world to a newcomer. It is a bit overwhelming even as an extravert to walk into a large class with friendships and circles already made. She and her hubby, Ryan, were perfect as greeters at they were part of the reason we continued to visit the class over again.
While Jason and I ended up at another church with an entirely new sunday school class because our hearts ended up desiring a smaller church home, Amy and I still continue to stay in touch and get together when we can. She never stopped reaching out even after our move to Kingsland which says so much about her  and her heart. She brought dinner over for us only a few short days after having Collins and has continued to be a sweet friend that God has blessed my life with.
When we do get a chance to visit we talk as fast as we can because now we have 3 babies in tow versus just sweet little Mitchell like when we first met.
Over Spring Break, Amy and precious little ones came over for a playdate and we got to visit again and I had a chance to cook for others which is my love. On the menu we had Feta Cheese Truffles, fresh fruit, Lemon Basil Scone Sandwiches with Lemon Aioli and toffee for dessert. It was a wonderful day and our sweeties had a great time together.

So thankful for friends with their welcoming hearts and that God clearly puts in my life.
 Lemon Basil Scone Sandwiches with Lemon Aioli
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, diced
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoons lemon zest
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup EVOO
1 cup heavy whopping cream
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons garlic salt
1/4 lb thinly sliced deli roasted turkey breast
Lemon Aioli 
baby spinach leaves

Preheat oven to 375. LIne a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside. 
In a medium bowl, combinging flour, baking powder, salt, and pepper. Cut in butter with a pastry blender until mixture is crumbly. Sitr in Parmesan,basil, and zest. Gradually add cream, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened.
On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to 3/4 inch thickness. Cut with a 2 inch round cutter. Placed on a prepared baking sheets; brush tops of scones with olive oil and sprinkle evenly with garlic salt. Bake for 16 to 18 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove to wire racks, and cool slightly.
Cut scones in half. Spread each cut side of scone evenly with Lemon Aioli. Layer turkey and spinach leaves evenly over bottom halves of scones. 
Lemon Aioli
3/4 cup mayo
1 tablespoon lemon zest 
2 tsp fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp ground red pepper

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Cover with plastic, and chill for 1 hour before serving. 

Feta Cheese Truffles
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1 (4oz) container crumbled feta cheese
1/2 tsp worcestershire sauce
2 tsp finely chopped onion 
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley and/or thyme
cucumber slices
grape tomatoes
kalamata olives
whole almonds

Beat first 5 ingredients at medium speed with an electric mixer until well combined. Cover mixture tightly, and chill at least 1 hour or until firm.
Roll cheese mixture into 3/4 inch round balls. Roll each ball in parsey or other herb. Serve immediately, or cover and chill until ready to serve. If chilled, let stand before 30 minutes before serving. Serve with cucumber slices, grape tomatoes, kalamata olives, and whole almonds. 

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Sunday, March 30, 2014

Ringing in the New Parents...

If you have a little one or multiple little ones, chances are that you rang in the new year with those sweet cherub within a 20 foot radius. Like we did. I mean, who can find babysitters on this night? No one. And then there is that part of you as a mom that wants to be with your family to be together as you ring in a new year. So the best compromise??? Ring in the new year with best friends and their baby.  Head over to their house, let them play all over the place...

 This may just be the cutest picture of the night! 

set up the pack in play, bathe those babies and put them to bed so the parents can feel a bit foot lose for the rest of the night. Which is exactly what we did....thank you Mary Rachel and David!  We had plenty of food and drinks and more friends join us. Mary Rachel made amazing party foods and I added in my aunt's famous Powdered Sugar Pecan Balls. There are addicting and have been a love of mine since the first time I ever tasted one. A few glasses of wine, martinis and champagne later along with the dance station on Pandora on t.v. made for our own fun party.

Who even needs a kid free and fancy fun night out? However, some of us ended the night strong at 2AM and some not feeling so well....the fun was too my husband.
And so our nice little family brunch that I had planned for  New Years Day was moved to 8:00pm New Years Night to let some time pass before someone could even think about food;) I made Easy Bruschetta, Nut Crusted French Toast, Spiced Apples, Mushroom Hash and with Poached Eggs (my first time to poach ANYTHING!) Although a late brunch, it was still an amazing New Years NIGHT brunch and someone even took her very first steps...

a perfect way to ring in the new year.
Pecan Powdered Sugar Balls
(passed down by my Aunt Gay, Momou's oldest daughter)

1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup sugar
2 1/4 cup flour
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
ground pecans
powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 370. Blend butter, sugars and add flour and salt gradually. Add vanilla and mix well. Stir in pecans. Chill 1 hour. Roll into balls. Bake on cookie sheet for 18 minutes. Roll in powdered sugar while hot!
So incredibly easy and addicting!
Feta Bruschetta
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup frozen chopped onion, thawed
1 (10oz) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1/2 cup finely chopped roasted red peppers
1/2 tsp dried Italian seasoning
1/4 cup tsp salt
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
1 package water crackers
Garnish: crumbled feta cheese

In a medium skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion, and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until tender. Add spinach, peppers, italian seasoning, and salt; cook for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until all liquid has evaporated. Stir in pine nuts. Spoon about 1 tablespoon spinach mixture onto each cracker. Garnish with crumbled feta. 
Mushroom Hash with Poached Eggs
2 potatoes, cooked and diced
2 tbsp unsalted butter
1 medium onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced (about 1 cup)
12 shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and sliced then
2 tsp salt
2 tsp rosemary leaves
freshly ground pepper
1/3 cups heavy cream
1 tbsp white vinegar
4 large eggs

Toss diced potatoes with 1 tbsp melted butter. In a large skillet, melt remaining butter over medium heat, add onion and cook 5 minutes. Add pepper, mushrooms and seasonings. Cook until the onions are soft and golden. Add potatoes and heavy cream and heat until cream is absorbed, about 2 minutes. Set aside and keep warm. 
Fill a large, wide saucepan with 2 inches of water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat so water is barely simmering. Add vinegar. Break one egg at a time into a small dish, then slide it into the pan by dipping the dish into the water. Cook until yolks are just set, 3 to 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove eggs and drain on paper towel. just poached an egg!
Top each plate of hash with a poached egg.
Nut Crusted Fresh Toast with Vanilla Maple Syrup
6 eggs
3/4 cup whole milk
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. cinnamon
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 3/4 coarsely ground whole almonds
3/4 cup plain bread crumbs
1 loaf thick white bread (about 9 slices)
1 stick butter, plus additional for topping

Preheat oven to 200. Place a baking sheet in oven to warm. In a large bowl, combine eggs, milk, sugar, vanilla, and cinnamon. Whisk until blended; set aside Combine brown sugar, nuts and bread crumbs.
Dup a slice of bread in egg mixture and allow excess to drip off. Lay bread on nut mixture, then flip to coat both sides. In a large skillet over medium heat, melt about 1 tbsp. butter without allowing it to brown. Cook french toast until golden on both sides, about 2 to 3 minutes, being careful not to let nuts brown. Place on baking sheet in oven and continue with remaining slices. Continue with the rest of the bread slices, adding more butter as needed. 

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