Friday, January 6, 2012


After purchasing our wonderful home and future goat farm in Texas...I will elaborate on that in another post...I have been feverishly stalking blogs, scanning pinterest, and spending way too much time on looking for decor ideas.  One of my new OBSESSIONS is Christine at Bijou and Boheme.  Her taste is impeccable, and her writing style is super fun.
So, I need everyone's opinion.  Where do I start decorating a house?  Is it picking a paint color, a piece of furniture or fabric?  For now, I have been scouring fabric stores trying to find something that tickles my fancy.  Here are a couple inspiration pieces...

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Beets are awesome.

I am getting old.  No, I am not saying this because I am knocking on 30's door.  And no, it's not because I love to knit, watch Antiques Roadshow and drink hot tea at night.  It's because I have grown to love beets.  Until recently, the only other person I knew to have such affection for the ole beta vulgaris was my sweet little grandma.  She went to town on those burgundy colored roots.  She must have read in Prevention Magazine that they were a cure for something.  But, as luck would have it, I have grown to love them just as much as she did, and when I get a hankering for those dirt-tasting little duds, I turn to my fave website, Epicurious, and find a new way to dress it.  My last recipe was de-dang-licious.  When I work with beets, I love using the different colors.  They have red, golden, orange, white and red stripe...all types of jazzy colors.

Beet and Goat Cheese Salad with Pistachios

3 large red beets (1 2/3 lb without greens)
2 large golden beets (1 lb without greens)
1/4 cup minced shallot
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup pistachio oil (I couldn't find pistachio oil, so I just used olive oil.)
4 oz soft mild goat cheese
3 tablespoons salted shelled pistachios (not dyed red), coarsely chopped
1 oz mâche (also called lamb's lettuce), trimmed (4 cups) (I just used arugula.)

Special equipment: a 2 1/2-inch round cookie cutter (without handle; at least 2 inches high)

Preheat oven to 425°F.
Separately wrap red and golden beets tightly in double layers of foil and roast in middle of oven until tender, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Unwrap beets.
While beets are cooling slightly, whisk together shallot, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a small bowl, then add oil in a stream, whisking.
When beets are cool enough to handle, slip off and discard skins. Separately cut red and golden beets into 1/4-inch dice and put in separate bowls. Add 2 1/2 tablespoons dressing to each bowl and toss to coat.
Place cookie cutter in center of 1 of 8 salad plates. Put one eighth of red beets in cutter and pack down with your fingertips. Crumble 2 teaspoons goat cheese on top, then one eighth of golden beets, packing them down. Gently lift cutter up and away from stack. Make 7 more servings in same manner. Drizzle each plate with 1 teaspoon dressing and scatter with some pistachios.
Toss mâche with just enough remaining dressing to coat and gently mound on top of beets. Serve immediately.

Cooks' notes: Beets can be roasted and diced 1 day ahead and chilled, covered. Bring to room temperature before using. • Molded beet salad (without mâche) can be assembled 45 minutes ahead and kept, covered, at cool room temperature.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Soup, Soup, SOUP...Tortilla Soup!

It's officially soup weather!  Well, in all the places north of us and approximately every 4-5 days when the weather dips below 75 in Gainesville.  This time of year has always been one of my favorites.  My mayonnaise white legs don't have to blind people in shorts and skirts!  I can wear jeans and tights and no be sweating like a pig!
Tortilla Soup is one of the best, and I have a recipe that my sister and I have been using for almost 10 years now.  It is a Crockpot recipe (can I get a HELL YEAH! for Crockpots), so you throw it all together in the morning and come home to a yummy smelling house.

Tortilla Soup

4 chicken breast halves
1 garlic clove, minced
2 Tbsp butter
2 14 1/2 oz cans of chicken broth
2 14 1/2 oz cans chopped stewed tomatoes
1 Cup salsa (whatever hotness you can handle)
1/2 Cup chopped cilantro
2 Tbsp or more ground cumin
Tortilla Chips
8 oz Monterrey Jack or cheddar cheese, shredded
Sour Cream
Lime juice

1. Cook, debone and shred chicken
2. Add minced garlic to butter in slow cooker. Saute.
3. Combine next 5 ingredients.
4. Cover. Cook on Low 8-10 hours.
5. When reading serve, pour soup in bowl.  Top with crushed tortilla chips, cheese, sour cream, avocado and lime juice.  Enjoy!!!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Looks fancy pants, tastes fancy pants, but you don't have to be fancy pants

Holy schmoly, rock and rolly.  Do I have a recipe for you!!!  When I was browsing through recipes on my epicurious app, I ran across this little gem and knew immediately that it would be scrum-diddly-umptious.  Sausage...fennel....MUSHROOMS, oh my!  I took a little creative license when proportioning out the ingredients (extra mushrooms, extra cream, extra cheese), and I halved the recipe since it was just Bo and I.  You must try this.  Seriously easy, and seriously yummy.

Tortellini with Italian Sausage, Fennel, and Mushroom
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large fennel bulb, trimmed, halved through core, thinly sliced lengthwise (about 3 cups), fronds chopped
1 pound spicy Italian sausages, casings removed, sausage coarsely crumbled
1 8-ounce package sliced fresh crimini (baby bella) mushrooms
4 large garlic cloves, pressed
1 tablespoon fennel seeds, coarsely crushed (put in baggie and hit with something hard)
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1 cup (or more) low-salt chicken broth
1 16-ounce package dried tortellini with pesto filling or fresh tortellini with 3-cheese filling
1 5-ounce package fresh baby spinach leaves
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese plus additional (for serving)

Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add sliced fennel bulb, sausage, and mushrooms; sauté until sausage is brown and cooked through and fennel is almost tender, 12 to 15 minutes. Add garlic and fennel seeds; stir 1 minute. Stir in cream, then 1 cup broth; boil until liquid is reduced and very slightly thickened, 2 to 3 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook tortellini in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain tortellini; return to same pot. (DO NOT overcook the tortellini!!)
Add sausage mixture to tortellini in pot. Toss over medium heat until blended. Add spinach; toss gently until spinach wilts. Stir in 1/2 cup cheese; add more broth by 1/4 cupfuls to moisten if dry. Season with salt and pepper, sprinkle with chopped fennel fronds, and serve, passing additional cheese.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Gimme me some SHRUMP!

Bo's family used to eat shrimp ALL THE TIME!  His father was actually a shrimper (kinda like The Deadliest Catch, but kinda not), and the family ate shrimp about as many ways as Forrest Gump.  As for me, the West Texan, shrimp was reserved for anniversaries, graduations, and if you were good, birthdays.  It was kind of funny when Bo and I had our first conversation about shrimp.  He told me it was an "everyday" meal for his family, and I really thought I had hit the jackpot!  I knew these people must be loaded if they were eating this fancy dish for every meal!
Anyway, one of the many perks of living in Florida is the abundance of seafood at your fingertips, such as fresh fish, scallops, oysters and my favorite fresh shrimp!  I have been able to try many new shrimp recipes, but I have to say, these are two of my favorites.  My firiend, Becca, specifically asked my for a "simple" recipe, and it doesn't get much easier than these two recipes!

Linguine with Shrimp Scampi
by Ina Garten, 2002

Vegetable oil
Kosher salt
3/4 pound linguine
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 1/2 tablespoons good olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic (4 cloves)
1 pound large shrimp (about 16 shrimp), peeled and deveined
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
1/2 lemon, zest grated
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
1/4 lemon, thinly sliced in half-rounds
1/8 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes

Drizzle some oil in a large pot of boiling salted water, add 1 tablespoon of salt and the linguine, and cook for 7 to 10 minutes, or according to the directions on the package.
Meanwhile, in another large (12-inch), heavy-bottomed pan, melt the butter and olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the garlic. Saute for 1 minute. Be careful, the garlic burns easily! Add the shrimp, 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt, and the pepper and saute until the shrimp have just turned pink, about 5 minutes, stirring often. Remove from the heat, add the parsley, lemon zest, lemon juice, lemon slices, and red pepper flakes. Toss to combine.
When the pasta is done, drain the cooked linguine and then put it back in the pot. Immediately add the shrimp and sauce, toss well, and serve.

Roasted Shrimp
by Ina Garten, 2006

1/2 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Place the shrimp on a sheet pan and sprinkle with the salt and pepper. Pour the olive oil and juice over the shrimp, and roast in the oven for 5 to 6 minutes

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The "I'm sorry for being a b#tch" meal

My momma knows how to get her a man.  Seriously, not just anybody can score a stud muffin like this...
Of all the little gems of life advice my mother bestowed on me, one of the most valuable was the love that men have for ladies who cook.  With a success rate of 98.7%, cooking a hearty meal can GET a man, KEEP a man, or in some cases, get your cute little behind out of the dog house.  I am well aware of the last issue.  In fact, just the other night, I had to employ my cooking magic powers to make up for being a horrible person to my lovely husband.  Assuming I am not the only  wifey that can get a little...let's call it moody...I thought I would be kind enough to pass along my "go to" recipe.
(this is my FAVORITE beef tenderloin recipe of all time!!!)


2 pounds beef tenderloin (the butt end), tied with kitchen string
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Salt and pepper
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
2 limes, juiced
1/2 cup sour cream
3 tablespoons prepared horseradish, drained
Special Equipment: heavy duty aluminum foil

Prepare a heavy baking dish that is as close to the size of the beef tenderloin as possible by making an aluminum foil "basket" for it to sit in. It is very important to use heavy duty aluminum foil. Place 2 or 3 pieces of foil in the dish and put the beef tenderloin on top of it, leaving enough hanging over the edges of the dish to really wrap up the meat.
Rub the garlic over the entire tenderloin and season well with salt and pepper. Sprinkle the butter pieces evenly over the beef. Drizzle with Worcestershire and lime juice let marinate in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours.
Adjust the oven rack to the highest position and preheat the broiler. Place the pan right underneath the broiler and broil for about 8 minutes. (It will look like the flames are burning or touching the meat, but that is fine). Carefully pull the pan out and turn the meat over. Broil for another 5 minutes or until cooked to desired doneness. (When the meat is done under the flame it will look like it is burned, but it's not). Wrap it up very tightly in the foil and let it sit and continue to cook inside the foil on the kitchen counter for about another 1 1/2 hours.
Whisk together the sour cream and horseradish and season with salt and pepper. Slice the meat and serve with sour cream mixture on the side.

Dill Fingerling Potatoes

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/4 pounds fingerling potatoes, rinsed but not peeled
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill

Melt the butter in a Dutch oven or large heavy-bottomed pot. Add the whole potatoes, salt, and pepper, and toss well. Cover the pot tightly and cook over low heat for 20 to 30 minutes, until the potatoes are just tender when tested with a small knife. From time to time, shake the pot without removing the lid to prevent the bottom potatoes from burning. Turn off the heat and allow the potatoes to steam for another 5 minutes. Don't overcook. Toss with the dill, and serve hot.

Roasted Asparagus with Hollandaise
Shelby Neichoy

1 lb fresh asparagus
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

Drizzle asparagus with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Place heavy duty aluminum foil over grill grates and heat grill to medium high.  Grill asparagus until slightly charred but still crisp.  Serve warm and with hollandaise sauce if desired.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Shands Rehab Chili Cookoff 2011 Champion!!

I talk a lot of smack.  I admit it.  I am from Texas, and I AM PROUD!!  We have the best people, the best landscape and by FAR the best damn food.  While some other southerners (no specifics will be given) claim their chili to be the best, I stood my ground and challenged my co-workers to a cook-off. 
The night before the cook-off, I actually started getting butterflies.  I knew I had a Texas reputation to keep.  I struggled with the decision whether to make my mom's chili, which I have savored my whole life, or go with an award winning recipe from Terlingua World Chili Cook-off.  After cooking both recipes, I ended up combining the two 3 to 1, Mom's to Terlingua.  The stakes were high...bragging rights for me or a day I would never live down.  When the winner was announced, and I heard my chili being called heart swelled with pure Texas Pride!!! 
I will post both recipes.  If you are going to cook just one, I would definitely go with Mom's.

Mom's Chili
2 lbs lean ground beef
1 large onion
Chili powder (A freaking lot.  Like more than you think is natural.)
Cayenne pepper
Garlic salt
Salt and pepper
Tomato juice (I use Campbell's 64 oz)

Dice onion. Put onion and ground beef in skillet. Add some salt, pepper, garlic salt and a little cinnamon (even though this is not in the ingredient list, Lebanese cooking always calls for a dash of cinnamon with beef.) Cook until meat is done. Drain on paper towels if necessary. Add chilli powder. Pour tomato juice over meat mixture. It will seem very juicy, but the tomato juice will reduce and get thicker. After it has cooked about 30 minutes re-season to taste. Add remaining spices to taste. Simmer for about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Freezes very well.

Terlingua Chili from Margaret Nadeau 2005
Step 1
2 lbs. course ground beef (chili grind)
1 TBS Cooking Oil
1 TBS Granulated Onion
Add ingredients together and lightly brown meat
Step 2
1 Can (8 oz) Tomato Sauce
1 Can Beef Broth
Cook for 30 minutes

Step 3
1 TBS Light Chili Powder
2 TBS Dark Chili Powder
1 tsp Garlic Powder
½ tsp Salt
½ TBS Ground Cumin
½ tsp Cayenne Pepper
½ tsp Black Pepper
1 tsp Chicken Granules (or 1 cube)
Cook for 1 hour
Step 4:
1 TBS Light Chili Powder
1 TBS Dark Chili Powder
1 tsp Paprika
½ TBS Ground Cumin
Add water if needed
Leave covered and simmer for 30 minutes