Monday, November 8, 2010

What in the World?

I'm so sorry. It's been a long time. I suppose much of the same has happened...

1. Classes
2. Working/Interning
3. Homeworking/Stressing/Sleeping

And much has gone down...

1. ACL and meeting Chris and Ali Lee!
2. Nashville for Casey & Josh's wedding!
3. Early Turkey Day with Mum and Dad!

What's missing from the list, besides hanging out with my boys? COOKING & BAKING!!!!

So here are a few visuals...

Matt gave me a donut pan a while back...

And I finally used it!
Matt decorated our first vegan donuts...he is so patient with me. I am finding a new love for vegan cooking (okay, it's not really new), and this meat-and-potatoes guy is pretty darn open to the crazy concoctions that come out of the kitchen. 

The truth is, I LOVE HEALTHY FOODS! (surprise, surprise) I have like a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde personality in the foods department, where I could live off of carrot sticks and gooey cinnamon rolls. What is that about?? But I'm sure I'm not the only one with these crazy tastebuds, so I'm finding that healthy alternatives--that also cater to my ridiculously sweet tooth--are often found in dairy-free, meat-free recipes. I've already mentioned some of my favorite baking items, but let me recap the healthy (and vegan!) baking alternatives...

ALL SPICES (yes, all spices...baking really does pair well with vegan cooking)
APPLESAUCE (to replace margarine/butter, eggs, cream, buttermilk)
MARGARINE (most kinds are dairy-free)
OAT FLOUR, "WHITE" WHEAT FLOUR (a lighter, less dense version of wheat flour), WHEAT FLOUR, BROWN RICE FLOUR, RYE FLOUR, AND OTHERS

OKAY, enough of that.


Okay, so my grandma wasn't Czech, and she didn't Paula Dean it with all of that butter in her baking, but these bakery delights make you feel right at home. The "rolls," kolaches and cookies are a delight!

Gerik's is owned by a family from the little community of West down the road. They opened this downtown Waco bakery on 6th and Franklin, and business is good! They have a breakfast/lunch cafe, but we have yet to partake in the sit-down restaurant goodness. If you're around Waco, come try it!


Okay, that's what I've got for now. More homework and Season 1 of Wings. Haha, I'm excited. Happy week! Enjoy life and each other!


Annnnddd some humility...I burned okra in a pot yesterday. How does one burn okra???It charred and everything.

Sunday, September 19, 2010



(our favorite one year old niece!)

We had banana splits to celebrate!!

Saturday, September 18, 2010


It might be a while until I post a recipe up here...we'll see.
Things are crazy here...but good! I love being with people 
and helping where I can, so it made me start thinking 
about some of my favorite kids in the whole world...

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

A Rainy "Monday"

As with many people, I love it when there is a Monday holiday, making the week shorter than usual. Somehow I crashed and took a 2 1/2 hour nap (crazy!) and woke up confused. To get reaquainted with reality and to wake my sleepy self up, I decided to do something my mother does. 

Mom is the queen of lists and organization and, well, let's just say I didn't exactly get those genes. Sure, I like to make lists. I love using a teacher's lesson plan book to organize my school assignments and responsibilities. BUT I'm still so disorganized. It will be a lifelong journey for me, I've finally come to terms with. HOWEVER, now that I've been away from Houston for a couple of years, some of mom's influences come back to help--not haunt--me. (Yes, mom, you were right on a lot of things.)

ONE IDEA I got from mumsy-dearest, which I still call her haha, was her outfit ritual. For as long as I can remember, Mum has taken 12-month calendars and written in each outfit for the day. Sometimes she'd plan her clothing choices out a month in advance. She used a pencil to erase and change the outfit on a day that she decided to wear something else. SO I thought I'd try it! It was fun, took me 30 minutes, and I planned out 2 weeks worth of clothes, no repeats. I think it will save me time/stress in the morning and will keep me on track with doing laundry, which I also seem to put off. :)

Also, planning outfits out will help me match better. While I was a matchy-matchy dresser when I was little (Mom matched outfits together perfectly, right down to the Keds in EVERY COLOR.), I always had a wild streak. Sometimes my outfits don't match, and I'm okay with it. It makes me happy. You know that feeling? It's a little liberating. I even threw together crazy outfits when I was 4:
Fashionista in the making!
I have a niece that has that streak in her as well. Perhaps her future is on Project Runway, who knows? But if you struggle trying to pick out outfits in the morning, dread doing laundry, but really love clothes and feeling "put together," try the calendar idea. I've seen various apps and software that organize your closet and pick outfits out for you, but I think the old calendar idea is not so archaic...Mum still uses those calendars. I think she keeps the last 2 years' calenders to refer back to. Good idea, eh? (It also helps you to not repeat outfits on certain days, not repeat sharp/formal dress for annual events, and not wear your favorite baby blue sweater every Tuesday for 3 months!) Good stuff. 

Happy Tuesday and Happy Outfitting!

Just Mom & me...isn't she pretty?

Monday, September 6, 2010

Mailmen, Donuts, and Be Careful what you wish for...


For some reason, my lengthy private school education in Houston never educated me on the history of Labor Day. Perhaps Wikipedia will fill in that goal in my otherwise acceptable education...all about reconciliation with the labor unions and movement of the 1800s. Perhaps President Cleveland would be upset to know that the middle school across the street from us HAD SCHOOL TODAY! Poor teachers. It was weird to know that the parents were off from work when the kids were in school...backwards or something.

Anyhoo, Matt & I had a great Labor Day holiday! We worked all weekend, but both had today off. (YAY! This doesn't happen every week!) So we started making plans. Half Price Books in Austin, gourmet cheese & wine picnic in the park, road, we wanted to relax.

I've been craving donuts (I know, terrible...), and it reminded me of Voodoo Donuts in Portland. I mean, vegan happiness in a round pastry topped with Fruit Loops!

Matt braved the grocery store on his day off (what a great guy!) and bought some treats. He came home with a surprise main course (2 salmon wheels, one stuffed with spinach and feta and the other with lobster)! We began to cook. Our watering mouths cause the dinner hour to suddenly be bumped up to 4:00.

Now let me preface...Matt mentioned that we are supposed to get thunderstorms for the majority of the week, and checked out, one of my favorite places. I have to admit that I love the eeriness of knowing that a storm could come. It's one of those moments that gives you chills and reminds you that this world is a whole lot bigger than yourself, and I think it makes us human and helpless but also know God's way bigger than us. So Matt saw the "lineup" of the next tropical storms. Now, if you live in the northeast, you might not know what I'm talking about. The "noreasters" they have are treacherous storms, no doubt, but my yankee friends don't get the joy from NAMING STORMS like those of us in the south take on. I know, it's stupid and strange, but naming storms just makes it seem a little more temporary and a little less scary, I suppose. SO Matt saw a very special name for a storm...Tropical Storm Matthew.

I learned something new about my husband...he has been hoping his whole life that there would be a hurricane named Matthew. Is that sick or cute? I don't know. I DO KNOW that I gave up on them naming one Hurricane Laurel back in just wasn't going to happen with a name like that. But Matt got one!

Little did he know what else he would get....

Matt, shielding the salmon from rain's destruction

We were prepping dinner, looked out the window and saw sunny skies turn into a monsoon within a matter of seconds. So weird, Texas skies. So Matt protected the fire from sizzling out and the salmon from swimming away. (sorry, so corny) And everything turned out really well! It was one of my favorite dinners!

The Menu:
*Spinach dip with veggies and chips
*Salmon (one with spinach & feta and one with lobster)
*Bacon-wrapped shrimp stuffed with Mozzarella & Jalapenos (seeds OUT)
*Grilled Green Peppers, Zucchini, and Garlic
*Giant corn muffins
*Blackberry pie

Tasty Dinner

Ole! Our tastebuds were happy and stomachs were full, but not too full for dessert (3 hours later)!

(Southerners pronounce it "paw")
So I watched Paula Deen the other day while cleaning up. She and her son made a 5-minute blackberry pie. I'll vouch for that, except mine took 6 minutes because I added a little citrus for flava! I bet you didn't know Paula and I cook together...


1 carton blackberries (or 2 for a larger pie)
4 TB blackberry jam
1 orange and/or lemon
1-2 small tubs of Cool Whip (fat free or sugar free are good!)
1 t vanilla extract
graham cracker crust (homemade or store-brought)

Easy, easy, easy!
1) Put blackberries and jam in a bowl, using fork to crush berries a bit. Mix together.
2)With grater or microplane (I broke my new one in today!), sprinkle orange/lemon zest. I used about 1 teaspoon of lemon and 1 teaspoon of orange for a large pie.
3) Pour blackberry mixture into cooled graham cracker crust.
4) Mix vanilla into cool whip (one tub for "regular" sized pie, two tubs for large pie) for added flavor. Then spread cool whip on top of blackberry mixture.
5) Add extra berries and mint leaves on top for decoration. Eat!

See, it's too easy! And I ate two slices, I will not lie.

While we cooked and cleaned, Sam worked hard, too.
Sam's favorites: Peanut butter Mailmen/women and Cats! Organic and fun!


Monday, August 30, 2010

I need chocolate!

Well, yesterday was a trifecta:

1. While taking Sam outside, I stood (not stepped) in an antbed. It hurt.

2. I dropped my iphone in the toilet. Enough said.

3. Because of said phone, very little studying got done on my only day off.

So I needed a dessert that would help me cheer up.

Cake + chocolate pudding + whipped cream = a party!!!!
I've eaten way too much of the hodgepodge but it has been tasty! And baking the cake (just a mix) with applesauce instead of oil and only using 2 instead of 3 eggs in the recipe, some of the fat and oily-ness was taken out. Try it, especially if you're having one of those days...

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Say Yippee for Ziti!

After a long day at work yesterday, Matt & I made a classic that, strangely enough, I've never made before. BAKED ZITI! I don't think either of us have any Italian in our blood, but we felt quite Italian, pulling fresh rosemary and basil and throwing a big pasta together. Then we watched MTV's Jersey Shore...come on, so Italian! Haha We kind of threw stuff together for this:


1 TB olive oil
1/4 chopped onions
3 cloves garlic
3 cups frozen spinach (5 cups fresh)
1 lb. ground turkey
2 TB rosemary, chopped
2 jars (4 cups) your favorite marinara sauce
1 lb (ish) whole grain ziti
8 oz low-moisture lowfat mozzarella, slices
8 oz low-moisture lowfat mozzarella, shredded
4 oz Italian blend shredded cheese (Romano, Peccorino, Parm, etc)

1) Prehead oven to 400. Boil large pot of water, salting a bit.

2) Meanwhile, pour olive oil in skillet on med-high heat. Add onions and garlic and saute for a few minutes. Add frozen spinach to thaw, and then add ground turkey (if spinach is fresh, good turkey first and then add spinach). Slightly chop turkey into chunks (size of meatballs or so). Sprinkle in rosemary while turkey is cooking and toss all ingredients together until turkey is fully cooked. Drain excess liquid.

3) Add pasta to boiling water, cooking about 6 minutes or until al dente (cooked but still slightly firm).

4) Pour both jars of marinara in a large bowl and add turkey mixture to it. Tear mozzarella slices into large bites and stir into sauce. (Add other spices if you like, like dried basil, oregano, etc.)  

5) Drain pasta and add to sauce mixture. Stir well and pour entire mixture into a 9X13 pan.

6) Sprinkle shredded mozzarella and Italian cheeses over the top.

7) Bake for 20-30 minutes. Pasta is ready when cheese on top is all melted and a little "crispy" on the edges. Pair with a salad and some tasty bread!

A Crazy Easy Bread

As with some of my favorite recipes (mine and others'), they were created "by accident" because the original idea didn't work so well. Luckily, something good came out of it! This one was supposed to be twisted breadsticks for my parents' anniversary dinner...the dough was not cold enough, so they didn't work out, but this came out instead.

1 can of pizza dough
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 TB rosemary, chopped
1 TB basil, chopped
2 TB butter/margarine
1) Roll out dough and sprinkle garlic and herbs throughout. Knead together and roll into a ball.

2) Bake as directed on package. Spread butter on top and allow to melt all over. Serve warm.

I love pasta because it tastes better after the day it was made. Hmm, I see a lunch plan...