Thursday, September 11, 2008

Hi, my name is Tamara and. . .

I have a serious addiction. I can't help it. I've tried to stop, tried to cut back, but I just can't do it. I need serious help. What, you might ask is my poison? Well it's paper. Not just any paper, the beautiful glossy pages of the magazines flocking the checkout line. What do I do? How do I stop? On a grocery run the other day I just had to have these:

Yes, just had to have them. COULD. NOT. LIVE. WITHOUT. THEM. They were calling my name. They needed a good home. Probably here with all the other ones I couldn't leave the checkout line without:

I have so much reading to catch up on I should probably stop typing and start reading. Maybe that's the first of the twelve steps?

Monday, September 8, 2008

Seafood Chowder

Remember this?

Now it looks like this!

Here's what I did:

First, I sauteed some onions and celery in olive oil. After they had softened I added in the sausage. I cooked it a bit longer and seasoned with salt and pepper. Then, I added in some flour and let it cook a few minutes. I added clam juice and about 6 cups of water (I don't remember). I stirred until all the flour dissolved. Next, I added in the potatoes, corn, and seafood (shrimp, clams, and mussels). I let this cook about 15 minutes to thicken slightly. To finish it off, I added about a quart of heavy cream. I know! Totally not a healthy recipe. I simmered for about 15 minutes more. These leftovers made so much chowder. I took a ton to my parents, froze two large bags and kept a small amount out to enjoy now. So, does it taste good? It's pretty good. I will however, leave the chowder up to the fine people at Boudin. I love their clam chowder!

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Au Revior Little Sis!

This is my beautiful little sister Tracey. She is leaving tomorrow to study abroad for the year in Paris. How exciting is this?! I am so happy for her and proud that she is so dedicated and determined. She is going to have such a fantastic time on this once in a lifetime journey. We will miss her until we see her at Christmas. I know she'll have lots of stories to tell.

So, to send her off in style we had a little soiree in her honor. It was her birthday as well so it called for twice the celebration. As many of you know, parties in our family are no small affair. With such a large family we always go all out. We had the usual Texas Caviar, Bruschetta, and Hummus appetizers. For the meal Tracey had requested a clambake, Barefoot Contessa's Hampton style clambake. This was not to far off for the seafood boils Shane and I do in our huge outdoor pot (it's really a turkey fryer). A clambake is different than a boil in that the seafood is steamed. A new experience for me but I think it turned out well. We used shrimp, clams, and mussels. Had it been a smaller affair we would have had the lobster too. Add in some potatoes and sausage and it was the start of a heavenly feast. Just look at this spread:

Tracey, we will miss you! Can't wait to see you at Christmas! Keep us posted on all your exciting happenings. NK will definitely miss her auntie. We will keep you posted on all her exciting news. Here's a picture to reminisce the last time we were in Paris. Have fun lil sis!

Oh! P.S. Stay tuned for a seafood chowder recipe with all the leftovers!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Party Foods

At NK's birthday there are two foods that stand out as my favorites and I have to share the recipes with you. The first is called Texas Caviar or sometimes Mississippi Caviar. It is similar to a salsa you eat with chips. The other was the delicious coconut cupcake recipe I used.
Texas/Mississippi Caviar

1 can black eyed peas

1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped

red onion, chopped (sometimes I use green onions)

4 tomatoes, chopped

3 avacodos, chopped

small bottle of italian dressing

This is really easy. I don't really measure. I keep adding until it tastes just right. There are many variations out there. Sometimes I add a can of corn or black beans. It is best to make this the night before, but leave out the avacodo, so the flavors can meld. Just add the avacado in before you serve.

The yummy coconut cupcakes came from Ina Garten's The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook. You can also find the recipe here. I would type it out, but as I am new to the blogging world, I am not sure if that is legal. Anyway they were the favorite cupcake among the guests. The other two were red velvet and chocolate peanut butter. One of my fondest memories will be of NK stealing bites of the batter with her grandma. Only the birthday girl could get away with that.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Always Plan Ahead

Planning ahead is not just something I do for holidays and upcoming events, I try to do it in my daily life. No wait! I MUST do it in my daily life. One area I can plan ahead and make my life much easier is in the kitchen, more specifically dinner. I try to keep things as simple as possible during the week. When I have a day I can get ahead I like to make a meal that has large portions so I can freeze a second meal. It's like a two for one! Today I did just that! While NK was napping I made Lasagna Roll Ups, you can find the recipe here. I added ground turkey instead of prosciutto. We like a meat lasagna at our house. With one recipe I was able to get two meals.

One for tonight. Yum!

And one for another night down the road. This will make my life easier on a hectic night when there is no time to prepare dinner.