Friday, February 26, 2010

Flashback Friday

LA & L, fall 2000
I'm sure I'm not the only one that has weird, random pictures like this from college. Remember when you had time to take pictures of yourselves goofing around? Ah....youth and free time...when our days were filled with 15 hours of class per week, hanging out at the student center, and late nights at Wal Mart.

(This is the last of the Flashback Friday series. I hope you've enjoyed the walk down memory lane with me!)

Monday, February 22, 2010

Taco Salad

Taco salad makes a quick and easy weeknight supper on a regular basis for us. My favorite part is the tortilla shells to hold the salad that, until recently, I could only get at a restaurant.

I wanted to be able to make the shells at home, so I just decided to give it a try. The first attempt I was flying by the seat of my pants, but it actually turned out pretty well!

I started with 9" flour tortillas and small cereal bowls. I tried two different style bowls because I wasn't sure which would work better - and it turned out that the shallower of the two worked better for me.

To make the tortilla crispy without having to fry it, I coated one side with cooking spray and put it (sprayed side up) in the bowl. I used the tin foil balls so it would hold its shape; this may not be necessary.



I just watched them in the oven until the edges started to brown, about 15 minutes at 325 degrees.



They worked perfectly to hold our taco salad! Our favorite taco salad ingredients include ground beef, black beans, corn, rice, lettuce, tomatoes, cheese, taco sauce, and sour cream.


Friday, February 19, 2010

Flashback Friday




Kip, October 2003

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Who Says Grad School is Hard?

Well, um.....ME ...that's who! But sometimes I do get things right.

Comments on a recently submitted project:

Outstanding submission. You addressed all the aspects of the resources and did so in a concise and readable way. You also did an excellent job on the APA and chose a wide variety of articles. Is it alright with you if I use this as an example in future courses?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Late Winter Decorating

I am about to make a statement that is going to shock you. I have no formal interior design training. See, I told you...shocking!

But that doesn't stop me from enjoying decorating my house. I like to change things up pretty often - not major pieces of furniture, but I like to switch out accessories to give things a fresh look. I'm not concerned that my house look like it came out of a magazine; I want my house to reflect our personalities and look lived-in and fun.

Lately I've been playing with the arrangement on the mantle. Winter - after Christmas but before spring - is always a challenging time for me to come up with something that looks appropriate. I decided to try out an asymmetrical look for a change. Here is my current attempt:



I didn't have the clock up there for a few days - it is way too small scale to sit there, but it drives me crazy to not know the time!

Another thing I like to do is have a seasonal wreath on the front door. This time I chose cherry blossoms. I know technically cherry trees bloom in the spring, but I thought the white flowers looked wintery.


I thought the bare branches on the edges also help it look like winter.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Celebrating Mardi Gras - A Photo Essay

We might be a long way from all the parades and festivities, but we can still enjoy the treats of the Mardi Gras season! This is King Cake with a cream cheese filling; we'll be bringing a few of these in to work today to share with our co-workers.







Sunday, February 14, 2010

V-Day Treats

I need to apologize in advance for my sad lack of photography skills that are on display in the post. But hey, if anyone feels compelled to buy me a nicer camera or give free lessons, I'm definitely up for that!

For V-Day, I decided a fun new recipe for BD to try would be a great gift. (You call me cheap -- I say creative!)

I traced heart templates onto parchment paper for the shape.



And piped in partially dyed red cookie dough. Partially dyed because I didn't realize exactly how much 1 oz of red food coloring really is and didn't have enough to go bright red. (Hint: those little bottles that you buy in a 4 pack at the grocery store are only .25 oz!) Strangely enough, they seemed to get redder as they cooled. But that might have just been my wishful thinking.



If you looked at the recipe from the link, you'll notice it says to use a pastry bag with a pastry tip for piping. Secret: I never use pastry bags. I always, always use a ziplock bag and just snip off a corner to the size I need. It works perfectly for what I do, although it probably wouldn't work if you were doing really fancy stuff. The toughest part is making sure you get all of the air out of the bag before you start.



Hahaha - I just realized that this looks eerily like some sort of internal organ lying on my stovetop.

Moving on...



After the cookies were cooled, I matched them up and iced them.

(Side note: if I make these again I will use buttercream icing instead of cream cheese. Well, BD said he liked the cream cheese, so I'll do half and half. I would have preferred buttercream. I thought the cream cheese kind of had a weird tang compared to the sweetness of the cookie.)



And voila! Heart-shaped reddish-brown Valentine's sandwich cookies!

Sunday Stitches: Wonderful Life (finished)

I've finished the piece I started back in November. I went back and forth about this one as I was stitching it. I wasn't crazy about the shades of purple and green I used for the mountains and grass in the background. I'm think it's okay now that it's complete, and it's headed off to the framer.

Kip wonders if there is anything I won't subject him to for a photo op.

10 Things

In honor of Valentine's Day, BD and I each made a list* of 10 things we love.

LA's list:
(1) Friday nights
(2) drinking a Coke
(3) seeing Kip's face and wagging tail when I pull in the garage
(4) clean bathrooms (not cleaning bathrooms!)
(5) dresses
(6) being in the car when a good song comes on the radio
(7) Carolina blue
(8) neat handwriting
(9) Friends (the TV show)
(10) walking with BD and Kip on a sunny day

BD's list:
(1) a waggy tail and smiley face greeting me when I arrive home
(2) the perfect glass of sweet tea
(3) an afternoon on the couch with a movie and my wife
(4) a freshly washed car -- spotless and shiny
(5) the site of a solidly struck golf ball dead on line
(6) making people happy
(7) a morning on a crappie [type of fish] lake
(8) tasting LA's kitchen concoctions -- good or bad
(9) a sunny day on the ski slopes
(10) a UNC victory

*We didn't look at each other's list until both were written, and the items are in no particular order.

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone! I hope you get to spend it with someone you love - romantic, platonic, four-legged, or anything in between!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Flashback Friday

Baby LA, spring 1980

My mom helping my sister hold me.



Thursday, February 11, 2010

*sigh*

So, remember the dead tree in our neighbor's yard that we've been worried was going to fall on our fence/deck/house? The tree that for 2 years we've been asking him to have removed? Yeah, that one...




Deck? Check.





Fence? Check.




It missed the house and back (glass) door by, quite literally, mere inches. Now we just have the aggravation of dealing with the neighbor and getting it all repaired. He did at least agree to pay for it. He called today to let us know that he'd been over to look and he thought "it would take about $40 in materials to fix."

Um, okay. *sigh*

Scenes from Carolina Basketball - Well, We Tried Edition

Last night we watched Duke beat Carolina at the Dean Dome. Although we were bummed at the loss, given how this season is shaping up, we were glad it was only a 10 point loss. That is a strange statement for a Tar Heel fan to make.

We did get to see Tyler Hansbrough's jersey get retired to the front row of retired jerseys in the rafters. Tyler was there in person for the ceremony.

Coach Roy gave a brief speech, and they played a highlight reel on the video boards.



Tyler gave a very brief typical-Tyler thank you speech, and they presented him with a framed jersey.


I wish I could've captured how loud the crowd was when I took this photo. It was pretty incredible. He will go in the history books as one of the all time greatest college players.

Funniest moment of the night: The Rednecks called Kyle Singler (a Duke player) "Sunglare" all night because "his skin is so pale, you can tell he's never seen the sun." I've got to give them credit for that one -- pretty creative!

Pecan Pralines: FAIL

First things first: y'all do this Southern girl a favor and pronounce the title of this post correctly...it's puh-KAHN PRAH-leens, not PEE-can PRAY-leens.

Okay, moving on...

Since I usually share my baking successes with you, I figured I might as well showcase my baking failures as well...

Over the Christmas holidays I acquired the recipe for Pecan Pralines from BD's step-dad's sister -- her yummy, delicious, creamy pecan pralines.

And I promptly turned them into chewy, gummy lumps with pecans. UGH.

I'm not sure where I got off track.

Ignoring the stack of junk mail in the background of this photo, you can see I started with the right ingredients...


Melted everything (except pecans) in a heavy saucepan...



Brought it to a boil at 240 degrees...



And, finally, poured them onto wax paper to cool.


They were shiny instead of creamy; chewy instead of melty and stuck to the wax paper. It was all-in-all a dismal failure.


I'll be back for round 2, pralines. You may have won round 1, but I don't give up easily. However, if I waste another cup of my Louisiana pecans on you, it's going to be war.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Well, Hello



Monday, February 8, 2010

Super Food for the Super Bowl

Who dat say they can beat 'dem Saints!! Whoo-hooo! What an awesome game! I certainly never thought I'd see the Saints win a Super Bowl in my lifetime!

So, since we couldn't be at the actual game, I decided to make stadium food to make us feel like we were part of the action.

The menu included pulled pork sandwiches and soft pretzels. Which was sure to be interesting, seeing as how I've never made any type of barbeque before.

I started with a pork sirloin roast.



I put it in the slow cooker with sweet onions, garlic, and root beer.


And let it cook for about 7 hours. BD likes to be all up in the middle of the crock pot. As I was putting it together early in the day, he reminded me that "slow cookers work best if you just let it sit and cook." Thank you, Captain Obvious. Then I caught him 3 or 4 times with the lid off and poking around in there. I finally had to threaten him with a wooden spoon to make him leave it alone.


It literally fell apart when BD took it out of the cooker - it practically shredded itself.


I also made homemade barbeque sauce, but it was gross. It was way, way too sweet. I'm not sure where I went wrong. I think I used too much brown sugar. Ahhh, well -- I guess that's why they make bottled sauce, right?


I should've known it wasn't going to be good - I let the pot of barbeque sauce boil over on the stove. So not only was it gross, but I also had a big mess to clean up.

When it was all said and done, we had some delicious barbeque sandwiches during the game. And, since I used a 3+ pound roast, we have several days of leftovers in front of us. Turns out I'm not so good at estimating how much meat I need for two people!


I also made soft pretzels. I topped them with cinnamon and sugar, so we ate them for dessert. I used the Alton Brown recipe which I've used before.

The pretzels are fairly easy to make and are delicious. I had baked them earlier in the day, so when we got ready to eat them after supper, I just popped them in the micro to warm. I brushed on a bit of melted butter and sprinkled with ground cinnamon and sugar.