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
parsley
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 Year....as 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 much...like 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...

video
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. Congratulations...you 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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Sunday, March 23, 2014

Holly Jolly Christmas and Armadillo Eggs!

Over Christmas, we loaded up practically everything we own including tons of presents and headed to Louisiana for Christmas. Our car was packed to the fullest and poor Garcia barely had a spot to ride in but we made it and had everything we needed for our week long jaunt!

First stop was Basile! The Mayeux family celebrated together...




and the babies all woke up in their matching jammies together on Christmas Eve morning.
Us sisters played all day, acted silly the entire time (including making a few of our very own home music videos to Timber by Pitbull) and the men just looked at us like were were nuts and the kids played happily! We went to Christmas mass...decked out to the nines, took a thousand family pictures in the front yard!





Of course there was food and we enjoyed yummy appetizers after church to celebrate before we went on to the in-laws. My contribution was Armadillo Eggs...only fitting with our new Texas culture. So I chose this recipe because my man loves anything jalapenos stuffed with cheese. It is kind of his love language. Well, what I wasn't expecting was the HEAT in the jalepenos that I happened to pick out. I am not even going to lie. My fingers flipping burned for DAYS! But everyone seemed to like them:)

Off to the in-laws we went and we got to wake up on Christmas morning at the Welch house. We headed to Glenmora for Christmas lunch and it was delicious and a wonderful time with our family.


Collins fell in love with Paw Paw's dessert and even entertained us with her dancing skills to "Single Ladies" by Beyonce. She is kind of a natural:) My contribution for lunch was Spinach and Feta Crostini...yummy, delicious, Christmas joy!

We spent the next few days seeing friends and family including our new Louisiana natives Kelly and James,
 making more yummy dishes like Barbecue Chicken Salad in Tortilla Cups (AMAZING!) and then Jason and I ended back in the town of our Alma Mater of Natchitoches, Louisiana at the Christmas Lights for our belated anniversary trip.  It felt so good to be back and did I mention it was just the two of us? 
The grandparents shared custody of our CC and Jason and I were like wild college kids again. Well, not quite but we sure felt wild without having a napping schedule to work around:) Our dear friends, Jessica and Blaine happened to be in Natchitoches too so they joined us for dinner...it was the Fab 4, back in Natchitoches eating at Mama's Oyster House like zero time had passed! 
I may or may not have taken FOUR bubble baths in the huge tub at our B&B while indulging in my latest book..all in the same day...just because I could. It was a busy and blessed week! So much to be thankful for and I am deciding to forget the bad part of having Collins get so sick that we almost went back to Houston mid-week ready to forget about our deposit at the Bed and Breakfast. But we didn't and prayers were answered for our baby to improve enough that we could get away and celebrate our belated anniversary...7 years and going strong! 
Armadillo Eggs
15 fresh medium jalapeno chilis
4 oz. monterey jack cheese, slivered
8 oz. breakfast sausage
8 oz monterey jack cheese, shredded
1 1/2 cups biscuit mix
2 envelopes shake and bake mix
2 eggs, beaten

Cut the jalapeno chilies lengthwise into halves. Discard the seeds and veins. Soak in cold water in a bowl for a milder flavor if desired. Stuff each jalapeno chili half with the cheese slivers and press the halves together.
Combine the sausage, shredded cheese and biscuit mix in a bowl.
The dough will be stiff so knead with hands to mix. Pat the dough into 1/4 inch thick rounds large enough to enclose the jalapeno chilis. Shape 1 round around each jalapeno chili and roll between hands into the shape of an egg. 
Roll each jalapeno chili in shake and bake, dip in beaten eggs, and coat again with shake and bake. Arrange on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake at 325 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes or until light brown, turning several times. Cut each crosswise into 5 slices. Serve with salsa. 


Spinach and Feta Crostini
 1 (10oz) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and well drained
2 plum tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1 small onion, coarsely chopped
1/2 crumbled feta cheese
1/4 cup mayonnaise and sour cream
1 garlic clove, minced
pepper to taste
1 loaf French bread, cut into slices

Combine the first 8 ingredients in a bowl. Spread on 1 side of each bread slice. Arrange the bread slices on a baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until lightly browned. 

Barbeque Chicken Salad in Cups

3 cups chopped cooked chicken
3/4 cups drained black beans
3/4 cups drained whole kernel yellow corn with red and green bell peppers
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 cup barbeque sauce
1/4 cup light mayonnaise
1/4 cup light sour cream
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
Bowl shaped tortilla chips (Can use baked!)
Fresh cilantro

In a medium bowl, combine chicken, black beans, corn and onion. 
In a separate bowl, combine bbq sauce, mayo, sour cream, salt and pepper; stir to mix well. Combine chicken mixture and bbq sauce mixture, stirring to mix well. Cover and refrigerate.
To serve , spoon chicken salad into tortilla chips, and garnish with fresh cilantro, as desired. 


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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Faux Snow Days and Comfort Food

Recently Houston experienced something that I like to call a little "Snow Faux Day". And we didn't have just one, we actually had two. Seriously. Two of these days. And let me tell you how how much snow came down...zilch. Nothing. Maybe a few flakes but that is it.  However, schools were closed all over the Houston area. So I did what any girl and momma would do...I stayed in my little robe and pajamas, indulged in many cups of coffee in my favorite mug...
and wasted the day away with my baby girl. We had zero plans and it was too cold to do much outdoors. However, we did venture out for a few minutes on the wagon and tried out pigtails for the first time!
 

Having a one year old indoors all day was a bit rough with her attention span of 5 minutes. We did everything we could and played with every toy possible at least three times.

So I knew we had to get some plans quickly because we couldn't stay home all night. So I called Mary Rachel, who is also a teacher with a faux snow day and we got some plans together quickly. Dinner with the babies and game night once they were in bed ASAP. I made it to the store for a few ingredients and and whipped up an delicious appetizer (Compliments of Southern Living many moon ago) and a yummy dessert. Mary Rachel made her delicious chili and we had ourselves a little faux snow day party.

And somebody LOVED Mattthew's big and comfy chair:)

Pecan Crusted Artichoke and Cheese Spread
1/4 cup butter, divided
 1 medium onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 cups chopped fresh spinach
1 can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
1 8oz. package cream cheese, cup up
1/2 cup mayonnaise
3/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 8oz. package shredded four cheese blend
2/3 cup chopped pecans 
1/2 cup herbs seasoned stuffing mix

Melt 3 tablespoons butter in a large skillet; add onion and garlic, and saute until tender. Add spinach, and cook over medium heat, stirring often, 3 minutes.
Add artichoke hearts and next 4 ingredients, stirring until cheese melts. Spoon into a greased 2 quart baking dish.
Bake at 350 for 20 minutes, stir gently.
Combine remaining 1 tablespoon butter, pecans and stuffing mix, tossing until blended. Sprinkle over top, and bake 15 more minutes.
Serve warm with pita chips

 White Chocolate Cookie Bars
1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 14oz. can sweetened condensed milk
2 cups white chocolate chips
1 cup butterscotch chips

Preheat oven to 350. In 13x9 inch baking pan, melt butter in pan. 
Sprinkle crumbs evenly over butter, pour condensed  milk evenly over crumbs. Top with remaining ingredients, press down firmly with spoon. 
Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until lightly browned. Cut into bars. 


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