Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Syrup Snob and Waffles

Yes, I'll admit it.  Ever since having this homemade syrup years ago when my mom first made it, there has been no turning back. 


Store-bought syrup is just plain blah. Even the purest of maple syrup doesn't fry my bacon anymore. 

In all actuality, this is a sad predicament to be in as I will never be able to enjoy waffles [or pancakes. But waffles will always fry my bacon] any place other than home now.

But life deals you what it will deal you, and you just have to accept it and move on.

If you dare try this thick, gooey, carmel-y syrup, just know that I warned you.

No pictures this time.  But honestly, it's dumping everything in a saucepan and stirring it.  We're not performing brain surgery here.  Although that would be interesting and kind of fun.

Alright. This is what you need...

1 1/2 c. sugar
3/4 c. buttermilk (or 3/4 c. milk with 2t. vinegar or lemon juice mixed in, let it sit for a few minutes)
1/2 c. butter or margarine
1 t. baking soda
2 t. vanilla

Add all ingredients to a saucepan.  **Make sure your saucepan is no smaller than 3 quarts!  Even with my 3 quart, I have to remove from the heat every once in a while so it doesn't overflow.  So all of that to say, you really should use at least a 4 quart.

Stir continually on medium/medium high heat until it comes to a boil.  Boil for 7 minutes.  While boiling, it will foam up.  Make sure you watch it.  It is a pain in the booty to clean up from your stove top.  Not that I would know from personal experience... *ahem*.

Remove from heat and let it sit for a few minutes.  The foam will eventually disappear.

If you need a simple pancake/waffle recipe to go along with the syrup, this is the one we use for both... Although, I wouldn't blame you if you got a spoon out and had a bowl of syrup for breakfast.

2 c. flour
2 T. baking powder
1/4 c. sugar
1 t. salt

Sift the dry together.

In another bowl, mix:
2 eggs
2 c. milk
1/3 c. oil

Combine wet and dry together.

Makes about 20 pancakes (at 1/4 c. each) or 7 Belgian waffles.

Monday, June 28, 2010

What an Honor!

I'm touched. I'm speechless. I'm honored!

My friend, Courtney, over at Honeycomb Creative Co just bestowed on me the Beautiful Blogger Award! If you want to see some adorable, thrifty, uniquely awesome ideas, crafts, and home-decor, buzz on over and enjoy a real sweet treat! {One too many puns, huh?}  But in all seriousness, I'm constantly inspired anytime she posts a new blog :) Thanks, Courtney!

So in order to receive this award, I get to post seven fun facts about myself, then pass it on to a few other bloggies!  So here goes :)

1.  Three of my favorite words when it comes to decorating are vintage chic antique.  I feel like I'm just getting the hang of it too.  When we first moved in our house, I was into the crisp clean lines found at places like Pottery Barn and Restoration Hardware.  And while I would most definitely not turn down a shopping spree at either said place, I'm finding more and more excitement and inspiration through thrifting and antiquing.  These are a couple of pictures that have inspired my current bedroom redo. 




I promise {myself} that sometime in the near future I will get this bedroom project done, and blog all about it.  Then I can start on the baby's room!  Unfortunately, while we are getting this whole "unemployment budget" figured out, everything superfluous is on hold :)

2.  My favorite movie (at least in the drama/romance department), is The Story of Us.  


I love how "real life" it is.  Marriage isn't the walk in the park that Hollywood has made it out to be.  I love how the majority of the movie is a married couple going through a really rough time. And a bawl every single time at the ending scene when Katie (Michelle Phiffer) begins - 
"...because we are an us. There's a history here, and histories don't happen overnight. In Mesopotamia or Ancient Troy there are cities built on top of other cities, but I don't want another city, I like this city. I know what kind of mood your in when you wake up by which eyebrow is higher, and you know I'm a little quiet in the morning and compensate accordingly, that's a dance you perfect over time. And it's hard, it's much harder than I thought it would be, but there's more good than bad and you don't just give up! And it's not for the sake of the children, but God they're great kids aren't they? And we made them, I mean think about that! It's like there were no people there, and then there were people and they grew, and an an an I won't be able to say to some stranger Josh has your hands or remember how Erin threw up at the Lincoln Memorial. And I'll try to relax, let's face it, anybody is going to have traits that get on your nerves, I mean, why shouldn't it be your annoying traits, and I know I'm no day at the beach, but I do have a good sense of direction so I can at least find the beach, which isn't a weakness of yours, it's a strength of mine. And God your a good friend and good friends are hard to find. Charlotte said that in Charlottes Web and I love how you read that to Erin and you take on the voice of Wilber the Pig with such dedication even when your bone tired. That speaks volumes about character! And ultimately, isn't that what it comes down too? What a person is made of? That girl in the pin helmet is still here 'bee boo bee boo' I didn't even know she existed until you and I'm afraid if you leave I may never see her again, even though I said at times you beat her out of me, isn't that the paradox? Haven't we hit the essential paradox? Give and take, push and pull, the yen the yang. The best of times, the worst of times..."

Alright, I almost teared up just reading that... Okay, okay, I did tear up :)

3.  My family is my life.  More specifically, my parents.  
I would be completely and utterly lost without them.  Their countless hours of therapy, wisdom, counseling, encouragement, being the rags that soak up my emotional verbal vomit... I'm thankful there's no keeping tabs in parenthood, because there's no way in my lifetime I could repay them.  I love you Dad and Mom.

4.  I love design, in any way, shape, or form.  I could most definitely sit at a computer all day with a design software and photographs and be in utter bliss. I could also spend all day at the fabric store - without a budget of course - dreaming up everything I could do with all of those amazing textiles. Throw pillows, curtains, and blankets, oh my!

5.  I have been writing this blog for the last two days.  Seven things have been hard to come up with! 

6.  I wouldn't consider myself girly, but I love wearing skirts and dresses.  I love a skirt with a white tee and fun jewelry.

7.  My absolute favorite flower is Gerber(a) Daisies.  I also love the color red... Hence putting the two together for my wedding flowers.
{my wedding bouquet}

So I now get to pass this award on to these awesome bloggers! :)

Any fun things about you that you'd like to share? :)

Monday, June 21, 2010

Just-Like-the-Restaurant Spicy Shrimp

I recently got this recipe from my sister-in-law, Tera, who has subscriptions to several cooking magazines.  So that means I get to peruse them, and often times she'll pick out recipes that she thinks we'd like.

The last recipe she shared was from the Food Network Magazine, Bang Bang Shrimp from Bonefish Grill.  Personally I have never had this, but my husband has, and he said it tasted exactly like the restaurant.  So a big shout-out to FNM for this delicious and easy recipe.

First the sauce - I was a bit skeptical about it at first, but bear with me...

1/2 c. mayo
1T + 1t chili sauce (I always add more chili sauce than the recipe calls for, but I like spicy)
2 t. honey
1/4 t. salt
1 T. water

Mix above ingredients together and put aside.

Next step is frying the shrimp.  For a heart-healthy version, bake your shrimp, or stir-fry in a couple tablespoons of oil.  But we're staying true to the original recipe today.
For the shrimp:
vegetable oil for frying (amount will depend on how big your pan is. You want your shrimp covered about halfway up while it is cooking)
1 1/4 lbs. peeled, de-veined raw shrimp
2 eggs - beaten
3/4 c. four
1/2 c. corn starch
1 t. salt
1 t. pepper
If you know me, you know I like to take the easy way as much as I can.  Add the flour, corn starch, salt, and pepper to a plastic container with a lid...
... Put the lid on and shake to combine ingredients. Remove lid. Bada-bing, bada-boom.

Dredge shrimp in flour mixture first,
then the beaten eggs.

When oil is heated, fry shrimp to a golden brown.
Combine the shrimp and the sauce and serve in mini-tortillas with lettuce and sour cream, or over rice.
(PS - removing the tails of the shrimp beforehand would probably save a little time... and your fingers if you're like me and attempted to remove them right after the shrimp was out of the fryer)

Monday, June 14, 2010

June 14, 1982

28 years ago today my husband entered the world.

Happy birthday to the love of my life, the father of my child, and the other half of my heart.

Love you always Bear.


Saturday, June 12, 2010

To V8 or not to V8

As conscious as I try to be regarding food labels and what I'm putting in my body - [granted there are times I just don't care, pass the cookie plate again please] - I'm having a hard time lately getting my daily veggies in.  Fruit, of course, isn't a problem.  But it seems that those carrots, cucumbers, and celery that look so delectable in the store (I'm convinced they have some special lights in the store that aids in this somehow), end sitting on the shelf and going bad.  *Ahem* It doesn't help that I'm the only one who attempts to eat them in our house... That bag of carrots wouldn't look so intimidating if there was another mouth to help with the load ;)  Baby Shields, hurry up and get here! Our kids will eat their veggies, there's no question there.  It wasn't an option growing up in our house. You ate what was on your plate (especially the vegetables), or you sat there until you did.

Yesterday while I was perusing the grocery store, hoping for some divine revelation as to what the next week's meal plan should be, I came across V8...

A few years ago, I got on a V8 kick.  A little 6 ounce can takes the edge off your hunger and gives you a boost.  Now I'm not quite to the point where I love it and could sip on it for a while... I more or less shook the can, opened it, and shot it down as quickly as possible.  Warmed up, it makes decent tomato soup, and seemed to be "healthier" than the canned tomato soup.

So all of that to say, I thought "Maybe this would be an okay substitution for a serving of veggies... Or two".  I've seen the commercials, but obviously I'm not going to take it at its word.  I plan to do a little research and see just how much V8 is a serving of vegetables, how many servings can I drink, can I just drink my veggies?? etc... (side note: I bought the house brand juice in a 64oz jug, not the handy-dandy cans).  I checked out the label.  No sugar added. Most of the ingredients are vegetable juices, with a few additives at the very end of the label (which is to be expected unless you're making your own).

I would love to hear if you have a "creative" way that you get in all of your servings! I'm always up for trying new things.  If you also think my V8 idea is just a bad way to go, please pipe in... Like I said, I'm still experimenting, and am always up for learning new things.

Thanks, Blogger friends! :)

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Poppy Seed Muffins

I apologize that most of my posts lately have been about food... I also apologize for the pictures taken with my quality (ha!) point and shoot digital camera.  Maybe when we win the lottery I'll treat myself to a professional camera.  But until then, please accept these pictures that don't do justice to anything.

Be forewarned.  This recipe is sure to make your skirt fly up.  So moist and fantastic.  I recently got this recipe from my mom and made them for a shower.  And upon tasting them, it brought me crazy-happy feelings.  Yes. This is Mom's poppy seed bread.

I know I've said before how in love I am with old/well used recipe cards, and this one is just the epitome of said thing.  My mom's recipe. On a card more familiar than the back of my hand.  Stained with who-knows-what. The oil? The milk? Some batter that dripped down the side of the bowl? But so beautifully "stained" with my mother's handwriting.  Is it odd that I find my Mom's handwriting a comfort zone?

Here's hoping my bowl is big enough!

Okay, we're good. That was a close one.

The muffins I made for the shower were mini muffins. 

You can tell towards the end - as the batter wasn't disappearing as fast as I wanted it to - I made a few regular size muffins, then went straight to my jumbo pan.  I never said I was a patient person.

Just a heads up... These muffins are in no way, shape, or form healthy. 

Packed with oil, sugar, and eggs, they are to be enjoyed fully knowing - and not caring - how many minutes it's gonna be on the treadmill later. Thank you.

One last thing.  Mom got this recipe from an old church friend. So, wherever you are Linda Brunson, thank you for sharing your recipe with my mom, who shared it with me, who will most definitely pass it to my girls.

Poppy Seed Bread/Muffins

1 1/2 c. oil
2 c. milk
4 eggs
2 t. each: vanilla, butter, and almond extract
3 c. sugar
2 T. poppy seeds
4 c. flour
2 t. salt
2 t. baking powder

Combine all ingredients.  Bake in 2 large greased and floured bread pans at 350 degrees for 1 hour.
[For muffins, time will be reduced.  Mini muffins took about 12 minutes, larger muffins about 20]
To test for doneness, stick toothpick in the middle of a muffin. If it comes out clean, they're done.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


Have I said how much I love fresh flowers? 

Oh, sorry.

Have I said how much I love random vases?

My bad.

But I do. 

I just can't get enough.

It's like putting a puzzle together [I love puzzles]. Arranging and mixing the different colors, sizes, and shapes to produce maximum cuteness and viewing appeal.  

{PS - I've found that the flowers I've bought at Dillon's don't last near as long as Sam's flowers, and I think Sam's has better prices also}

Monday, June 7, 2010

Hodge-Podge Enchiladas

These are some of my favorite times in the kitchen... When the left-overs and random things in the fridge just happen to come together.  This definitely don't happen all of the time, or very often for that matter.  But I wanted to share this particular time for a couple of reasons. One being I have several friends that don't cook. The kitchen intimidates them.  This is my way of encouraging you to take your kitchen by the horns and take control... You go girls (and guys)!

I had a pre-marinated turkey loin (that I got on special at the grocery store a while ago and had stuck in the freezer) cooked from a few days ago.
So with that in mind, I raided the pantry for some more fun stuff: black beans, diced tomatoes, cream of chicken soup, and green diced chiles.

I started by dicing 1/2 an onion, about 1/4 of a green pepper, and an anaheim pepper.  Don't let anaheim peppers scare you.  It's basically like a green pepper with a little bit of a bite. Not hot by any means, but a nice little zing.

The following is the easiest way I've found to chop an onion (if you don't have a convenient food chopper... I do, but I sometimes find cooking more enjoyable when I do it all by hand)

1. Cut ends off onion, peel, and chop in half.  Make several slices, making sure not go all the way to the top. This way it all stays together until you make the final cuts.

2. Turn onion and make cuts going the other way.  Perfect little pieces.

Another side note. The last one for this post, I promise.  Certain professional chef's (I won't name her them) have a cute little "garbage bowl" while they cook... Yeah, umm, the last thing I want to do is wash out another bowl after cooking.  And since I don't have a compost pile or a garbage disposal, I often use the little plastic sacks from the grocery store that are used for produce.  Maybe not the "greenest" approach, but I'm also saving water that would be used to wash a bowl.  I don't feel bad. Sorry.

I sauteed the onion and two peppers with a few tablespoons of olive oil until the onions were translucent and starting to brown.  Then added the chopped up turkey loin (I'm going to guess there was 2 1/2-ish cups) and a can of drained and rinsed black beans, just to infuse all of the flavors together.

I could have easily made 6-8 smaller enchiladas, but I chose to make 5 over stuffed. Probably the lazy in me coming out.  I don't have a picture, but after I filled them, I added a handful of cheese to each one.

After they were rolled up, I made a random version of my enchilada sauce. That means I didn't have everything, so I used what I had.  Basically it was about 3/4 c. sour cream, 1 can cream of chicken soup, 1 can of diced green chiles, 1 can of diced tomatoes, and 1/2 c. chicken broth.  Mix all of that together and spread over the top.  Finish it off by a nice healthy sprinkle of cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes until everything is warmed and the edges are bubbling. 

Sorry, this is a picture after we started digging in.  I was pretty hungry. And it was pretty tasty.

So I hope this gives you a little confidence (if you don't have any) in the kitchen.  Like I said, it doesn't always work out... But that's some of the fun.  And that's how all the learning happens :) 

Bon Appetit! 

PS - If you live in Wichita (or make trips into Wichita for your groceries), it is WELL worth your time to buy your tortillas at Tortilleria Los Iii Portillos.  They are located on 29th street between Arkansas and Broadway.  They make tortillas fresh daily, and they are even a little cheaper (if I remember correct) than the house brand at Walmart.  Most of the time, they are still warm when I get home.   Rolled up with a little butter, it is heaven in your mouth. Did I mention that they have white and wheat tortillas? You will never go back to stiff, old store bought tortillas.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

The Best Easy Dip You'll Ever Make

My world was turned upside down the night I first experience this dip.  I was rocked to the core.

Thanks to my good friend, Nikia, who introduced me to this dip, I will never be the same.

2 - 8oz cream cheese blocks (low fat works well)
1 can corn (drained)
1 can Rotel (any kind: Mexican, hot, mild, whatever tickles your fancy)
1 packet of dry Ranch

Combine ingredients and enjoy be in utter bliss with your favorite tortilla chips.

Friday, June 4, 2010

American Toast

Rewind to Monday morning.  I had all of the ingredients to make French Toast, but just couldn't bring myself to make "French Toast"on Memorial Day.  It was so wrong in my mind.  I could just see it...  Some guy named Brutus comes to my door, takes away my right-to-be-American card, and hauls me off to some unknown country where they have Belgian waffles on Cinco de Mayo.  Mojitos on St Patrick's Day. Spaghetti on Thanksgiving!??

I couldn't bear the thought.

So in order to ease my mind and prevent an internal conniption, I decided to make American Toast.  It's American because I added cinnamon to the egg wash.  Please don't ask about my reasoning.  Because there is none.

So here's the cast of characters:

Whisk the flour and milk.  I would have taken an action shot, but my third hand was busy at the time.

Add the cinnamon to make it American toast. Don't forget the cinnamon. As small as this ingredient is in the big picture of the recipe, the hint of cinnamon really sets it apart.

Soak the bread (I had sourdough on hand)

Grill the bread until a bit crispy (or to your liking)

Strawberries for freshness... and to make up for the fake-sugar high of the next picture

I've learned quite a handful of things these last four years of marriage.  One of which is how extremely different people eat the same food.  My husband puts ranch on his baked potato instead of sour cream. Odd.  He eats his French American Toast with syrup. How weird is that? Powdered sugar is the only way we ate it growing up.

Here's the specs.

American Toast

2 T. flour
1/2 c. milk
1/2 pinch salt
2 eggs
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. vanilla
1 1/2 t. white sugar
6-8 slices bread

Whisk flour and milk in a 10 in pie pan (or any shallow dish that allows you to dredge your bread).
Mix in the salt, eggs, cinnamon, vanilla, and sugar until smooth.
Heat a griddle or lightly greased frying pan over medium heat.
Soak bread in mixture.
Cook each side until golden brown.
Serve immediately.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Memorial Day Goodness

Family + Butler Lake + Campfire Dinner + S'Mores - Tent camping for a pregnant lady = Relaxing (somewhat for the aforementioned lady who slept a total of about 37 minutes) Weekend making family memories.  

Prepping dinner at "The Chuck Box".  My dad seriously has everything in that handy-homemade box to prep and eat delicious meals.  The menu for the night was grilled stuffed peppers, fire-baked potatoes, and pork loin.  And yes, it was all as tasty as it sounds.

Does it get any better than a 2 year old in pigtails with S'mores (or is it dirt? or maybe a mixture of both?) all over her face? I doubt it.

Going on an evening boat ride with the men in their life...
{it was either Dad waving or the girls, and I'm not talented enough to photoshop the two together}

How do you enjoy spending Memorial Day weekend?

Eight Squared...

I've been duped tagged.  Just kidding, Ginger!  

This will be fun. I hope... I have yet to figure out which picture is the lucky one.

The rules:

1. Go to your photo files and select the 8th photo folder.
2. Select the 8th photo in that folder.
3. Post that photo along with the story behind it.
4. Then challenge 8 blogging friends to do the same. (*Ginger took probably more than half of my blog friends, so I'm not going to tag anyone, but if you do this, please let me know! Post your web page in a comment if I don't follow you already, I'd love to see your picture and hear the story :)

BAH-haha! *Ahem*.  Pretty self-explanatory.  Wedding in July.  Layers of tulle.  It was hot under there. Fan much appreciated.