Friday, January 11, 2013

Resolve...for another Vegas Christmas

Some hate them, some love them, but whether we want to admit it or not, we all make them. My old stand-by in school was to stop biting my nails. I never succeeded. As an adult, I really enjoy the start of a new year, and I use it as a time to reflect, plan & hope.
I've got a lot of plans for this year.

Sarah's List

  • Bake croissants from scratch. I have the ingredients ready to go. 
  • Master the macaroon- I can do it. 
  • Read more often; magazines do count! Sorry, bibliophiles. 
  • Exercise out of love, not out of guilt. 
  • Turn the TV off, especially if no one is watching. 
  • Savor my time off from work. 
  • Live as though I am on vacation. 
  • Frame those rolled up prints, and find a spot to hang them. 
  • Limit procrastination. This is the hardest for me. (See delayed blog below for proof.)

Derek's List

  • Get a job. 
  • Lose weight; get down to 210. 
  • Try to remain as calm, and positive as possible. 

Oh, did we tell you we spent Christmas in Las Vegas & it was amazing?
Annabelle & I watching the fountains at Bellagio
We stayed six nights and Grandpa, Nana, Ma Candy & Papa Craig joined us in Sin City. We ate, we laughed, stayed up late and enjoyed Christmas away from home. We were so busy, we didn't take many photos.
Ed's first Vegas meal
 We frequented our usual favorites, the Peppermill, Payard, Evening Call for daiquiris, Bouchon Bakery & RA sushi.
Annabelle & I posing at the Bellagio
 Papa Craig even rented this enormous van for us to travel to the Hoover Dam. It was so large, people thought he was running an airport shuttle, which I guess is true because he did drop us off at McCarran.
Windblown at the Hoover Dam
 Imagine a little girl dressed in a Hello Kitty outfit. This girl is walking around her favorite city and she sees Hello Kitty. See, it didn't take one thousand words to describe this picture.
Annabelle & Hello Kitty. Have you ever seen such legs? 
Did I tell you we met Ice-T at Peepshow? Well, we did. Annabelle is now obsessed with Crazy Girls. Ed ate his way through a buffet & Baby D and I even beat the house. It may not be a traditional Christmas destination, but we had a blast. We hope you all had a very Merry Christmas and hope 2013 is treating you well!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Annabelle Leigh

Four years ago we welcomed a little girl, Annabelle Leigh.
If there was ever a match made in heaven, it's her being matched with us. We are peas in a pod. Actually, Baby D & I may be the peas in her pod. Sometimes in life, you get what you need. Other times, you get what you want. Only once in a lifetime though, comes an Annabelle Leigh.
Already best friends
She is sensitive. A raised voice directed towards her and it's a flood of tears.
She is a cowboy boot wearing, red lipstick toting, tangled hair flowing, stubborn as a mule kind of girl.
She is a marketing firm's dream. There is not a televised product she wouldn't purchase if given the chance.
She is content. She loves a Friday movie night on the couch, made all the more perfect by a run to Dollar General for candy & 'homemade cookies' aka Chips Ahoy.

Showing off her painted pumpkins
Things she loves: Tom & Jerry, sausage pizza, lollipops, horses, flying in airplanes, King of Lion, Coca-Cola, painting, watching Dak play football, Spongebob, chicken, Las Vegas, french fries, licking the batter bowl, scary movies, Rio, exercise, bacon, changing Eddie's diapers, nice hotels, balloons, strawberries & cuddling.

Halloween as a queen...a nice one. 
She apologizes to me often for growing taller. "I'm sorry Mommy, but I have to grow bigger just like you. I'm sorry, but I have to, don't be sad." She says this as she gently strokes my hair & face. It's all I can do to not burst into tears immediately.
She is someone I'm glad to know and I'm so thankful I am her mom. I love you Annabelle.

Cuddle friends

Monday, October 15, 2012

Ad Hoc Brownies

Who doesn't like a brownie? If you don't, then that makes me a little sad.

I'm assuming you are still reading, so my second question is, are you an edge or middle person? Some people like the inside part of the brownies. Maybe you fancy the piece where the brownie is extra moist, super soft, chewy, sticky & has a chance to be a little underdone.

But I fancy an edge, and if I get really lucky, I snag a corner. Nobody puts this baby in a corner, unless I've got a corner brownie to keep me happy. Have you heard of this pan? It was my Christmas present a couple years ago, & the most expensive pan I own. It is also worth every penny.

So when I received my new Thomas Keller book Ad Hoc at Home, I was super excited to try the brownie recipe. Chef Keller uses a 9 inch silicon mold, which I might use if I was making brownies to please everybody. But right now, momma needs an edge brownie, and that's just what I'm gonna do.

Ad Hoc Brownies

3/4 cup all purpose flour
1 cup unsweetened alkalized cocoa powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter (cut into 1 tablespoon pieces)
3 large eggs
1 3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla paste or pure vanilla extract
6 ounces 61-64% chocolate (chopped into chip-sized pieces, about 1 1/2 cups)
Powdered sugar for dusting

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Sift together the flour, cocoa powder & salt.  Set aside.

Melt half the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat & put the remaining butter in a medium sized bowl to the side. 
This butter is patiently waiting

Pour the melted butter over the bowl of butter and stir until creamy. 
Melted butter over cooled butter

Using a paddle attachment, mix together the eggs & sugar on medium speed for three minutes - the mixture should be thick & pale. Add the vanilla. On low speed add about 1/3 of the dry ingredients, then 1/3 of the butter and continue to alternate. 

Thick & pale...this might describe someone I know, but I'm not saying
Add the chocolate and mix to combine. 

Note: it says the batter can be stored up to 1 week. I've never in my life made batter and NOT baked it immediately, but you never know.

Spread batter evenly in the pan. 

The batter is a little challenging to get in this pan, but well worth it. 
Bake for 40-45 minutes, until a tester comes out clean. Cool in the pan until the brownies are a bit warmer than room temperature. Run a knife through the edges, invert the pan. Cut into 12 rectangles & dust the tops with powdered sugar before serving. 

Store in an airtight container for up to two days. 

These brownies are super delicious and well buttery. If you're going to splurge with these guys, buy the better butter. Trust me, it makes a difference and a few bucks goes a long way. Below are some pictures of the complicated clean-up process. It's hard to be on the dish washing crew sometimes. Enjoy!
Clean up is easy

This is my sous chef, actually I am the sous chef. 

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Hail State

I've never been one to have school spirit, and that is a gross understatement. But now, I am a Mississippi State bulldog fan! My cousin, #15, Dak Prescott is a freshman quarterback attending MS State. If you know me, you are aware I know nothing about football. Yet, I found myself at work using the phrase, "dual threat" when speaking of Dak. I've learned a thing or two this football season, so let's recap.

It's a long way to Mississippi from Central Texas, so we stop in Shreveport to settle down, rest & meet Aunt Peggy, Dak's mom, then it's Mississippi bound. We've been to two games and headed back for two more before the end of the season. It's loud, crazy, full of cowbells and a total blast.
We went to the season opener in Starkville, and were there to see Dak's first SEC touchdown. Here's the proof.

I've learned a few things on these road trips. 
1. You can't buy your own cowbell, it's considered bad luck.
2. We don't say "Ole Miss" in Starkville. It's called, "the school up north." The bulldogs are THE Mississippi school.
3. Dak can run the ball. 
4. Hotel pools can turn your navy colored bathing suit gray. No, I will not post a picture.
5. Ed makes a mess at a continental breakfast.
6. Bring cash for parking, duh. Actually double duh. 
7. The iPad is the greatest investment we've made in recent history. As Derek says, "we invested in our sanity."
8. You get what you pay for when it comes to hotels. Enough said. 
9. I feel a little special when pizza is delivered poolside at a hotel. Big pimpin' baby. 
10. Annabelle says "Ont" not "Ant" when saying Aunt Peggy. 
11. Mississippi State football games are a blast! We've had the best time. 

The man we are there to see #15 - Intensity baby!

Ed making friends in the stands

Ed & myself enjoying the Jackson State game

Family shot after the game

Stopping at the Mississippi/Louisiana State Line

Ed & myself in front of the mighty Mississippi

Aunt Peggy & Annabelle aka 2 of the biggest Bulldog fans

Look at that form! Hail State. 

Monday, August 6, 2012

Coconut Zucchini Muffins

Okay, enough with that sappy anniversary stuff. I'm hungry, and I'm on a zucchini kick.

'Tis the season for zucchini; it's everywhere. Who hasn't had zucchini bread? I needed something different. Luckily my friends at King Arthur Flour have got me covered with my addiction.

Alright, I almost took the easy way out with these muffins. I thought to myself...these don't really need a glaze do they? Actually toasting coconut? Last time I did that it burned- badly. That pan was hard to clean. Then I thought, okay, there's a reason the recipe is written this way and let's give it a go. First of all, the toasted coconut smells amazing. I know there are some folks who don't like coconut & I used to be one of you. Have you tried it toasted? If not, then my guess is you are missing out. And the aroma....much better than any Glade or Scentsy product I've ever come across. The muffins are very tasty, not too dense, but the star is the glaze with the toasted coconut. Completely worth the extra effort. Here's the recipe.   
Naked muffin! 
Our glaze to the left and the toasted coconut to the right
The glaze needs to be a little runny...otherwise it would be called icing
Small hands roll it in the coconut
The same little hands place it just so!
So delicious!

Sure sure, zucchini is a healthy vegetable. You can steam it, grill it, saute it, but baking with it is more fun. I promise.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Nueve Anos

Nine years of marriage might sound insignificant when compared to ten. Nine years is still a lot & I love a reason to celebrate & reflect. As a fan of John Keats, I thought I would write a public declaration to my partner. It's no 'Bright Star,' but allow me to indulge my inner romantic. This is for Baby D.

My "Top 9 List"

1. You understand me completely - for someone such as myself, this is no easy feat.

2. You pick up my slack - when I am not cutting it, you come in and step it up for me.

3. We laugh at the same things - however ridiculous, I am thankful for our thousands of inside jokes.

4. You are a hard worker - you've helped give us an amazing life.

5. You gave me my kids - enough said, they are the best.

6. I trust you - a lot of people don't have this - that makes me very sad, as it is our base for everything.

7. You are right - when I question things, which is often, you are right -you've never steered me wrong.

8. You are there without question - whenever I call, baby you roll up - just like Wiz

9. I love you more than ever - I honestly didn't think I could, but alas, I love you exponentially more.

For two fools who rushed in, it looks like some things are meant to be. Cheers to 99 more!