Friday, June 28, 2013

The Sunshine Crew and Party Foods!

So I can't help it...someone starts wanting to plan an event and the Martha Stewart wannabe inside of me takes over. I love planning and I love events. My husband may say it is because I can be bossy and like to execute things and delegate tasks but I don't know. In my dream world, I would be the "hostess with the mostess" for a living. But I am not...I teach precious little angels. So what about mixing the two? Well, when I found out that the heads of our Sunshine Crew (the party/event/appreciation planners for our school) were stepping down, of course the wheels started to turn in this brain of mine. I found out it it is a rather large job and one that wasn't exactly umm...coveted but it still didn't stop me apparently.

I prayed about it (this new momma has to pray about EVERYTHING because otherwise I would sign up for it all and it would be a big fat disaster because of my overcommitments. Let's just say I like to say "yes" to lots. But ohhhhhh how this new season that I am in has stopped me dead in my tracks from doing this anymore. Plus I have a few trusted loved ones in my life who know me so well that when I get these bright ideas, they say "Lisa??? Are you sure about this??" and then I really come back down from my cloud in the sky and think about things again.

But after praying about it, I felt peace and a continued sparked interest so I emailed my principal and told her I was interested. She suggested I rally some help and within a few hours, I had 3 new Sunshine Crew co-chairs. And let me tell you, these are the cutest girls ever with amazing ideas and spunk. So I now have the best of all worlds...I am not alone in this new ambition that I wanted to take on and I have some fabulous ladies to work with. And they seriously rock. God couldn't have worked it out better. So meet my new Sunshine Crew Co-chairs. Lauren (left), Ashley (middle) and Megan (right)
So we had our first meeting of the minds on a night the hubby was out of town and these sweet girls came to me since I had the darling Baboosky to take care of. (Did I mention these beautiful girls also adore my child and babysit for her? How lucky am I?) I put these sweet girls to work in kitchen...okay, so maybe I am a bit bossy;) but they were very willing and before you knew it, we had sweet CC in bed, finger foods made and wine out. Megan asked if we were going to actually talk "sunshine crew" stuff and I broke out the legal pad saying "of course!". Of course we talked about other things and solved many of the world's problems but we did manage to get some great ideas down for the year ahead. It's gonna be a good one! And if all our meetings are as fun as this, then we may have to meet very often:)

Here is a recipe or two from the night...we loved them all. And oh my gosh, these recipes were so stinking easy!

Goat Cheese-Pecan Finger Sandwiches

4 oz. Goat Cheese

3 oz. softened cream cheese

1/2 cup finely chopped toasted pecans

2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley

14 bread slices

1/3 cup red pepper jelly

Stir together the first four ingredients. Spread mixture on 7 bread slices. Spread pepper jelly on other 7 bread slices and top with cheese covered bread slices. Remove crusts and cut each sandwich into 4 triangles. Delish!

Cajun Pecan Brittle And oh this stuff is addicting! Passed on to me by my Aunt Lee, Momou's daughter.

1 box Club crackers

2 cups chopped pecans

2 sticks butter

2/3 cups sugar

Preheat oven to 350. Line cookie sheet with foil and place crackers to cover foil.Place crackers close together closing any gaps. You will need more than one cookie sheet. Spread pecans evenly over pecans.In a saucepan, melt butter. Add sugar and bring to a boil. Boil for 3 minutes and remove from heat. Pour mixture evenly over pecans and crackers. Bake for 15 minutes. Let cool and break into pieces. So good!

This is for you, Momou! I love you!

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Thursday, June 27, 2013

Supporting Paula Deen

I am not one at all to ruffle feathers when it comes to debatable issues. I cringe when people around me start talking politics or anything that might get others in arguements. The thing is, we are all entitled to our own opinion. And it is just that, an opinion. And I usually have one, but I don't find myself voicing it over these type of matters unless it is in the safety of very close friends or family. I do not even want to get into religion and the difference between catholics, baptists etc. (and I love to talk faith because I am one believing girl!) but I WILL happily tell you about our awesome God. Because He is for everyone: methodist, lutheran, democrat, republican and everyone else out there...He love us ALL. I will stand up for the things that matter and  make a difference in my life or the lives of my loved ones.

But this issue leaves my stomach in knots and I just have to share my opinion this time. I have loved Paula Deen and all that she has stood for. If you have ever read her biography, you will find that she built her career from NOTHING and I admire her so much for it. She presents cooking with lots of fun and makes anyone feel that they too can whip up great dishes. She reminds us that anything good is somehow centered around food and she definitely celebrates that and encourages us all to do the same. Food brings family, celebrations, laughter, memories and life is too short to go without embracing all that food has to offer...even the extra few pounds:)

The thing is, we are all guilty of making mistakes and saying things we regret. We are all guilty of something or another. She is not perfect and never did I think she was. I knew all along that she puts her shoes on the same way I do, every single day. Do I agree with the word she used? No, not at all. I don't use it myself and cringe when I hear that word used.  But I promise I have been guilty of using some word at some point that didn't paint someone else in the best light. I have hurt feelings and undoubtedly offended others. And I was sorry for it and it still makes my heart hurt, but I hope I have been forgiven. And I can only offer the same forgiveness to others who have hurt me. Paula didn't lie in her deposition and her honesty caused great ruin. Why is it that she is the one to take the fall for a sin we have all committed at some point or another? What if we all lost our jobs because we have said something before that was hurtful? We would all be without a job! Again, I do not agree with the words she used and she made a mistake. BUT she has paid for it in more ways than one and all the stone throwers out there still have their job. We are all guilty of the same exact thing...we just never have been caught. So Paula Deen, you have my support. From one imperfect person to another.

The pictures above were taken at a book signing that I stood in line for hours for. We were told that were not allowed to take pictures with her because she had too many books to sign. Well, you know what...she still took pictures with anyone who asked...white, black, cuban, spanish and whomever else. We were ALL there! And she was incredibly sweet about it. But I was early in the line and didn't realize she was so kind and willing to take pictures so I never asked. All to see her take pictures with many more that followed me in line. The aspiring cook in me was so crushed that I missed my chance. So my sweet husband, told me to go buy another book, get back in line and he would be ready with the camera. I did just that all to wait again and have them end the signing right before I was up again to get my book signed. And do you know what? She saw me and my obvious disappointment all over my face and got me out of the crowd of people to go and stand with her and her husband and take a picture with her. Just me...the one who waited through line twice. She could have left, not giving two cares about me. It was late and I pretty much had closed down Costco with her. But her sweet character shined through. You know, everyone makes mistakes but you can tell who a person is by their character. And this southern lady, made a mistake but she does have great character. I saw it firsthand.

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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Special Father's Day Dinner...Take 2!

So we had a wonderful Father's Day weekend celebrating our dads. But there was one dad who was kind of left out and that was my hubby, the new dad. Not that we meant to leave him out but with all we had going on this weekend in Louisiana and celebrating and visiting our own dads, we decided to do our own little Father's Day celebration once we got back to Houston. Something special like a nice dinner....just for him.

I imagined myself with a fabulous apron on, wine poured, music playing and just channeling my inner Julia Child. Well, things don't always go exactly as planned when you have a baby. My fancy dreams of all THREE of us sitting down to a fancy dinner while Collins smacked happily on the food I had freshly prepared for her went out the window. Instead, dinner was not even ready by the time Collins was ready to eat. I was not wearing a fabulous apron and there wasn't any music playing except for our little angel crying! Our focus turned to her trying hard to get her to like the food but in ended in tears and her spitting it ALL out. Not to mention, our dog barking like crazy at something outside was enough for us to go mad. It was a chaotic mess and there was nothing fancy about it. Our dinner was turned be continued until Collins was fed, bathed and asleep. We finally made it through, wiping sweet potatoes of everything and Collins went down to bed. Not exactly as planned.

Okay, special Father's Day dinner(minus the baby at this point)...take 2. So it ended up that our dinner turned out a little differently and in its own perfect way. After our little cherub went to sleep, we poured ourselves a glass of wine and got to work in the kitchen. Yes, Jason helped prepare his own Father's Day dinner but you don't turn down help at 8:30 pm to prepare dinner. So we ended up cooking together just like the old days. Music on, wine poured, talking about this and that all while cooking. We haven't done that together in um...maybe a year. But with a new job and new baby, cooking together is a luxury so we were long overdue. And God knew it too. I can't help but thing our special dinner played out the way He meant it to be. We enjoyed ourselves thoroughly feeling like we had the best quality time in a longgggggg time.

What did I....I mean, we, prepare? BBQ Shrimp over Smoked Gruyere Grits with cornbread(the man LOVES cornbread while I am a french bread kind of girl) and salad. For dessert? S'mores Bars. And he was happy as a little clam. Score one for the wife:) See below for these recipes. Oh, and ALL incredibly easy. Thank God, since we didn't even start cooking until 8:30!!

Barbecue Shrimp

1 lemon, cut into wedges

1/2 cup butter, melted

1/2 cup ketchup

1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce

2 garlic cloves, chopped

1 bay leaf

1.5 Tbsp. Old Bay Seasoning

1/2 tsp. dried rosemary leaves

1/2 tsp. dried thyme

2 lb. unpeeled, large raw shrimp (Okay, so my hubby used to work for a wonderful and favorite restaurant in Natchitoches, La called Mama's. They served BBQ shrimp and it was loved by all! At the restaurant, the shrimp was unpeeled as well so this is the way we have always seen it served. But, if you don't want to get your hands messy during dinner, just go ahead and buy peeled shrimp. It won't hurt a thing!)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place shrimp in a 13x9 inch pan spreading them out. Stir together all other ingredients and then pour over the shrimp. Bake for 35 minutes, stirring every once and a while. Serve with fresh lemon wedges and over grits. This will serve 4 people easily. You can even prepare ahead of time! Woo hoo!

Smoked Gruyere Grits

3 cups chicken broth

1 cup milk (Fat free worked perfectly but any other percent would as well)

1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. pepper

1 cup uncooked instant grits

4 oz. smoked Gruyere grits shredded(feel free to use any smoked cheese but you want the smoked flavor!)

1.5 Tbsp. butter

Bring first 4 ingredients to a boil in medium saucepan over medium high heat. Gradually whisk in grits. Cover, reduce heat to medium low, and simmer, whisking occasionally for 5 minutes or until thickened. Stir in cheese and butter until it is all nice and melted.

S'mores Bars

1/2 cup butter, softened

3/4 cup sugar

1 large egg

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 1/3 cups all purpose flour

3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

4 (1.5 oz) milk chocolate bars

1 small jar marshmallow creme

Preheat oven to 350. Spray an 8 inch baking pan with nonstick spray. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Add egg and vanilla; beat until combined. In a small bowl, combine flour, graham cracker crumbs, baking powder and salt. Add to butter mixture, and beat until combined. Press half of dough in bottom of prepared pan. Place chocolate bars on top of dough. I used 2 XL chocolate bars and they seriously fit like a glove! Spread marshmallow creme on top of the chocolate.

Finally, spread the remaining graham cracker dough on top of the creme. Bake for 30 minutes. Enjoy!

Special Father's Day dinner? Accomplished and done but not how I intentionally pictured it in my head. But I liked the Plan B:) This is in honor of you, Mamou! I love you!

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Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Celebrate Dads with Homemade Twix Bars

This weekend we took a little road trip to Louisiana to celebrate our dads and a dear friend's baby shower. No one told us that taking a teething baby along for the ride would be eventful to say the least. I seriously rocked the car seat back and forth for two hours while our dog ran all over the car. We were exhausted by the time we made it. Add to the fact that I locked our baby in the car the next morning before the baby shower and we had to have Pop A Lock service come unlock the doors. This really made for a fabulous of the year!!!

Here are the Welch men and Welch girls (including Garcia) all dressed up in camo. Now, I am not a big fan of camo but my mom insisted she have a camo outfit to fit in with the hunters in the family so here she is...decked out in her camo for a picture. So we have 3 generations of Welchs here in honor of Father's Day and a pup too.

Loving on her Paw Paw

The Boosky and her daddy...she adores him.

We had wonderful moments and we spent sweet time with our families, especially our dads! The weekend stayed very busy and we never stopped. We wish we could have made more visits to other family members but this was one of those weekends that being from the same hometown was a blessing and curse. We had something planned for every second of our trip between our two families. But Jason's sweet momma had a lot of his family come and celebrate at their pool as well as my sister and her precious babies. This helped us see many loved ones in one place. It was fabulous and I felt like I was on vacation with all the extra hands that were busy spoiling CC. There were actual times when I was floating around the pool that I had to remind myself that my baby was somewhere and I should probably check on her. Is that bad to admit? Oh well. Note to new mommas, when someone offers to help with the baby, you take it! Especially if it gives you a chance to swim uninterrupted because never again will you just jet off to the pool all carefree while a baby is near. You will pack everything but the kitchen sink and by the time you make it, you swim for about 30 mins or an hour max before it is time for a nap. True story. But the cute little leg rolls stuffed into her swimsuit and her cooes and smiles as you float her around the pool are all worth it. Promise.

CC, my dad and I on Father's Day. He had just had hip replacement surgery and was still in recovery in this picture.

So I wanted to add a sweet to the pool party celebration so I got right to work after putting Collins to sleep on Friday night...a mom's work is never done, right? But this time I had my sweet mother in law to help me in the kitchen and I gladly took her help! Again, when your sweet mother in law offers to help you cook at 9:00 at night after you just drove 4 hours with a teething little angel and spastic dog, take it! Who cares if I wanted to be Giada DeLaurentis secretly...she probably would have taken the help too.

So we made this fabulous dessert called Homemade Kit Kat Bars. Besides gummi bears, kit kat bars are my favorite so I was sold on this recipe. Now, you may have noticed that the title is Homemade Twix Bars and you are right. I changed the title myself. I feel this dessert is way more like Twix bars so I am going with a new name. But Kit Kat bar or Twix Bar...these bars are stinking good. Get ready, you will want to keep eating them.

Homemade Twix Bars

1 box of club crackers (you will not use them all so you can munch along the way!)

1 cup butter

2 cups graham cracker crumbs

1 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1/2 cup whole milk

2/3 cup creamy peanut butter

1/2 cup semisweet chocolate morsels

1/2 cup butterscotch morsels

Line an ungreased 13x9 inch baking pan with 1 layer of crackers. You may have to cut a few to fit in the small holes; set aside. In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add cracker crumbs, brown sugar, milk, and sugar. Bring to a boil and boil for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Do not boil any longer because the mixture will get clumpy and you need it more on the runny side so it will be easy to pour. Remove from heat, and pour half of the butter mixture over the crackers. Place another layer of crackers evenly over the butter mixture layer. Top evenly with another layer of crackers.

In a small saucepan, combine peanut butter, chocolate and butterscotch. Melt over medium low heat, careful not to burn. Stir consistently. Spread over top of crackers. Cover and chill for at least one hour. Cut into bars and store in refrigerator. Great news is that you can make these little gems ahead of time like I did. Mommas love make ahead things so this is perfect when I feel my inner Julia Child wanting to cook.

I got this recipe from a magazine many years ago. Just letting you all (whoever you may be) know that I did not make this recipe up on my own, nor do I make up any of these recipes. I LOVE to cook but I am not that crafty. But I do like to add my own pizazz, like a new name in this case:) This is for you Mamou! I love you!

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Saturday, June 8, 2013

Teachers Just Wanna Have Fun

Wednesday was our last day with students and it was such a bittersweet day as I said "good bye" to my very first Kindergarten class. I truly had a wonderful year although it was very tough at times as I learned so much and also became a mom. I was stretched to the limits but God carried me through. And my sweet husband was there every second of the way. I am already looking forward to next year but I am oh so glad to have the summer with my baby girl!

So us teachers ended the year in good fashion with a fabulous party. I know our students think we live at school but little do they know that we can have some fun. Seriously, they seem shocked when they see you outside of school and you can actually read their minds that say, "You mean, you shop at Target too??????" Anyway, Wednesday night we gathered at the home of one of our teachers and all sat poolside with our toes in the water. It looked innocent as we told stories about the year....

But then it got a bit crazy. Every single teacher, including myself, ended up in the pool in our clothes. Every. Single. Teacher. It was absolutely hilarious and the laughs were no doubt heard for miles. And even me, who hates to be wet in my clothes, could care less. We were officially off for the summer and we had zero cares in the world. I love the staff I work with and I am crazy blessed to be a part of Pattison Elementary.

So to the recipe...I had to make something easy because there is just absolutely zero time to play Julia Child on your last week of school. So I pulled out a tried and true recipe called Deviled Crackers. They are so easy to prepare that it is almost sinful. But the addiction to them is even more sinful. Many people have probably had these before so here is the way to make them:

Deviled Crackers

2 sleeves of Saltines

3/4 cup of Vegetable oil

1 packet of dry ranch mix

Set oven to 250. Spread your crackers on a baking sheet. Whisk the oil and ranch mix and then pour over your crackers and coat carefully. I use a rubber spatula to do the job. Bake at low temp for 20-30 mins. You will be able to smell when they are done. You will start to smell a yummy aroma in your house. The fun part is that you can use ANY dry packet mix....fajita mix, italian seasoning mix...anything! I actually used the Fiesta Ranch dry packet and loved it. These are always a hit and loved by all.

Enjoy and happy summer to all my fellow teachers out there!

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3 years later, but better late than never!

Well, it has been a LONG time since I posted on this blog. I never forgot about it and I am a person who actually feels guilty about not finishing something I start. This was one of those quilty things. But life has been busy in the umm...almost past 3 years since I last posted. Seriously, has it been that long? But to justify and make myself feel better, I will say that life has changed drastically in the last three years. Back to school...AGAIN and this time to be a teacher, moved from Nashville to Texas (oh so bittersweet), got my dream job as a Kindergarten teacher at an amazing school (God is good and faithful...AMEN!) and we had our first baby...our little baby bug,Collins Catherine! So that sums up our three years in a few sentences...or at least the main parts.

We were able to visit our sweet Momou over Easter this past March and my little blog came back on my heart. But who has time to blog when you add a first year Kinder teacher AND a first time mom to the mix??? Not this girl. I barely have time to brush my teeth (but I do). So I added "get back to my blog" on my summer bucket list and here I am on my first day of summer. Go me! I am so productive:) Now if only I can keep up with it. But here is the thing, when you are a busy, new, working mom, there is barely any time to be fancy and try new recipes. So I certainly haven't been able to try any of Momou's recipes but I think that she of all people would understand. But what I DO have is a collection of "Fast and Fabulous" recipes that I have been adding to and keeping for years as I tried new recipes. I have been pulling from that list all year to make sure we can eat some sort of dinner.

So Momou, for this season of life, I may just have to blog about those recipes and whatever else life throws me but I promise to cook some of your recipes as much as I can, especially now with summer here. I plan/hope/pray to add to my "Fast and Fabulous" list so I will be ready for the fall when school starts again. As far our sweet Momou? She is still as lovely as ever with the same easy, beautiful heart. She recently moved to a nursing home which is different and hard to see, but she is still queen! Her family is ever growing and she is still a prayer warrior with grace poured all over her. So for this season of life, this blog may have to take on a new meaning where I can TRY to make it all like, love, grace, motherhood and of course, food. I am really not a writer at all but there is something fun and that makes my heart happy about this tribute to Momou so I am going to try to keep going. Key word here:Try.

3 generations of Catherines...well, I am Katherine with a "K".

Only a few of the grandchildren and a few great grandchildren. Notice the other baby, that would be my sister's (Jonah), born only 20 days after Collins.

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