Thursday, July 31, 2008

The Rest of the "Lasts"

It was my last time to sleep in my bed in our first “purchased” home. I did my last cooking and my last cleaning. It’s hard to believe that we’re really leaving Nashville and selling our home. The “for sale” sign went up yesterday.

It’s actually kind of nice that I’m leaving- I don’t want to witness all those random strangers traipsing through my home and critiquing my paint choices and wall hangings. And I want to believe that a cute little family will move into our house and love it just as much as I do!

It’s always hard closing chapters and starting new ones. It’s especially hard, because working with a realtor, interviewing for jobs, organizing a move and wrapping up lose ends makes you forget that really you’re moving away. I know I’ll be back- probably in a month on two when we actually move our furniture, but it won’t be the same. I won’t live here anymore.

Despite moving quite a bit in my life, I have a strange attachment to the places that I live. I remember after my sophomore year of college- I packed up my things in my apartment and got in my car to drive home for the summer and I looked up at our front door and I started crying. It wasn’t an especially nice apartment or that I would miss my bedroom or kitchen. I just knew that things would never be the same again. I wasn’t going to live with those same girls or walk the same way to my classes. A chapter of my life was closing.

And now, another chapter is closing. It’s sad and I’m sure I’ll cry a little bit, but it also means another one is beginning. We’re really trying to view this as an adventure- some days that goes better than others.

So, this is my last time to blog in my first house and I’m not sure when I’ll be able to get to a computer again. My new housing will be somewhat- transitional, temporary, and primitive?!?! You can look forward to that blog! Ha ha!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Family Traditions

Normally, I only blog about recipes I make or events that I attend, but today was a very special occasion. My Aunt Polly turned 50 and PaPa turned 80 (they share the same birthday)! Everyone celebrated in Abilene- I was really sad that Jeremy and I couldn’t be there. Hopefully, we’ll make it for 81, since we’ll be a short drive away in Oklahoma City!

PaPa has always been very special to me- and I think it’s safe to say he’s pretty special to all my cousins, too. Growing up, we couldn’t wait to go check the cows with him and do all kinds of other tasks on his ranch. We were pretty much up for whatever PaPa wanted to do! We spent several weeks with my PaPa and MaMa every summer when I was little- those are some of my most special memories.

My grandmother was a fabulous cook and we also loved helping her out in the kitchen. She made a wonderful chocolate cake with a 7- minute icing- I’ve never had one like it. I can remember helping her put the icing on one when I was a little girl and telling her that I wanted her to make my wedding cake! My grandmother passed away when I was in high school and words can’t describe how much we all miss her!

To celebrate PaPa and Aunt Polly’s birthday, my family made a chocolate cake with white icing and sugar cookies- both my MaMa’s recipes. PaPa loves cookies that are a little bit burned- kind of weird, I know. But it can actually work to your advantage. Whenever we make cookies and they get a little too done (maybe because we forgot to check on them), we just say- those are for PaPa. Here are some Moore family recipes and a few pictures from the birthday festivities. Don’t worry if your cookies get a little brown- you can say they are for PaPa, too!

Happy Birthday PaPa and Aunt Polly!!!

THE cake

sugar cookies

My Dad and Uncle Randy

Making the sugar cookies

Dad, PaPa, Randy, and Polly

MaMa & PaPa’s Sugar Cookies

1 cup sugar
½ cup butter
½ cup oil
1 egg
½ tsp vanilla
½ tsp cream of tartar
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
2 cups flour

In large bowl mix sugar, butter, oil, egg and vanilla until creamy.

In medium bowl, mix dry ingredients.

Add dry ingredients to sugar mixture and mix well. Chill dough 15 to 20 minutes.

Roll dough into balls and place on greased cookie sheet. Flatten balls with a glass dipped in sugar
Bake at 350 degrees F for 8 to 10 minutes. (for Papa we baked for almost 15 minutes – on the verge of being burned!!)

Monday, July 28, 2008

Life is a Chair of Bowlies

Well, last night, Jeremy went for a run and when he got back, he was really craving a drink from Sonic. He ordered a cherry limeade and I wanted a cherry slushie. We drank our sonic drinks while watching tv and chatting and then, we went to bed.

My sonic slushie was left on the coffee table, on top of a magazine (so it wouldn't leave a ring on the coffee table!). Well, somehow, my cup had a hole in it, so cherry slushie was slowly leaking out all night while I slept peacefully. It wouldn't be that big of a deal, because of course, I had set my cup on a magazine, so only the magazine was ruined. EXCEPT- sitting right next to the magazine was my cell phone. My cell phone was covered in cherry goop and I spent most of the day letting it dry out and checking to see if it worked?!?!

It wanted to come back- it tried very hard- I saw it flicker a few times. But in the end, it just wasn't strong enough. It died. Just one black screen- not even a flicker now.

I have purchased a $14 Wal-Mart go phone- my contract isn't up until December 29th. But at least, I have a working phone!

We had squash from Jeremy's parents, so I made a squash dressing for dinner.

Dinner tonight- grilled chicken, squash dressing, and green beans

Squash Dressing

2 cups diced yellow squash
2 cups crumbled cornbread
1/2 cup margarine, melted
2 teaspoons dried sage
2 cloves garlic, diced
1 (10.75 ounce) can cream of mushroom soup
1 egg, beaten
1 large onion, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
salt and pepper to taste1/4 cup milk

Place squash in a pot fitted with a steamer basket over boiling water, and steam 10 minutes, or until tender.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Lightly grease a medium baking dish.
In a bowl, mix the squash, cornbread, margarine, sage, cream of mushroom soup, egg, onion, sugar, salt and pepper, and milk. Transfer to the prepared baking dish.
Bake 30 minutes in the preheated oven, or until lightly browned.

E’s Notes:
  • It took much longer than 30 minutes to bake- closer to 1 hour.
  • I added a little bit of chicken bouillon for more flavor.
  • You could use cream of chicken or cream of celery soup instead.
  • I used my pastry blender to mash the squash up a little bit.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

An Oldie But A Goody

This is an old classic favorite in the Moore household. The recipe came from Abilene’s Junior League cookbook and it’s seen us through many parties. The cookbook has lots of great recipes, but this is one of the best. I have posted pictures on the blog before, but I didn’t give the recipe. You can change it up to suit your tastes, but although I am a fan of changing up ingredients, this is pretty darn good as is.

Luckily, Jeremy is also a fan and he requests it often. Now is the time to make it- all these veggies are in season and it looks so pretty at a summer gathering. Enjoy!

Black Bean Salsa

2 (15-ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (17-ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained
2 large tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 large avocado, peeled and diced
½ purple onion, diced
3 to 4 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper
chopped fresh cilantro leaves (optional)

Mix all ingredients thoroughly in a large bowl. Cover and chill overnight. Taste and add salt, pepper, or more lime juice as necessary. Serve with tortilla chips as an appetizer, or with grilled chicken breast as a meal.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Cupcakes Gone Bad

Well, I'll be honest, this trifle was the product of another kitchen mishap. It actually turned out okay and no one would have to know that this trifle is actually a cupcake gone terribly wrong, but I'm continuing with my efforts of being an open and honest blogger, especially with regards to my cooking adventures.

Mandy and David invited us over for dinner and she asked if I could bring the dessert. Of course, I would love to make a dessert! I decided on cupcakes- easy to make, easy to transport (with my handy little cupcake carrier) and most importantly, a delicious dessert.

While flipping through a cupcake recipe book, I saw an oreo cupcake recipe. It was a regular cupcake with oreo icing. I didn't have the recipe, but I thought- how hard can it be?!?! I baked chocolate cupcakes- turned out well, no issues. And while they cooled, I got started on the icing. I used a recipe for vanilla buttercream. And then, added crushed oreos. I'm not sure what went wrong- the butter didn't cream right, I added too much milk, the oreos were more than the buttercream could handle . . . I don't know. But, what I had was oreo soup.

I attempted to frost a few cupcakes- Jeremy was looking at me like I was crazy. The icing just ran over the sides and it looked completely unappetizing. So, I decided to remove the papers and make them little frosted mini-cakes. No- still terrible. And then, inspiration hit- a TRIFLE!

I took all the papers off of the cupcakes, chopped them into one inch cubes. I pulled out a tub of cool whip and the remaining package of oreos and got to work. A layer of cake, a layer of oreo soup (aka, my icing), a layer of cool whip, a layer of crushed oreos, repeat.

The end result was nothing like my initial goal of cute little cupcakes, but it still tasted pretty good. There is really no recipe for this- just an idea if you ever make some cupcakes gone bad.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The First of the Lasts

Billy's surgery went great. The doctor felt really good about it and he said all of the cancer was contained in the prostate, so he shouldn't have to undergo any other cancer treatments. He seemed to be in good spirits when we left the hospital tonight. We are so thankful for all your thoughts and well wishes!

Tonight, was also our last dinner with our small group. We had taken a break in our meetings for the summer, but at our last meeting, we had no idea that we would be moving before our next meeting! Crazy! We got together tonight at a Mexican food restaurant, so we could catch up on the summer's activities and say goodbye.

Saying goodbye is really hard for me, so I pretty much just pretend that I'll see them again soon. Maybe it's denial or maybe it's just coping?!?!

Chris, Gayle, Lisa, Angie, Me, and Jeremy

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Strawberry Muffins

When Melissa and John came to visit, we had dinner at a famous Nashville "meat and three"- The Loveless Cafe. Everything there is absolutely wonderful. The other day, I was at a half-price book store and they had a copy of the Loveless Cafe cookbook and I couldn't resist picking up a copy for myself.

I love reading and looking through cookbooks. I saw a recipe for Strawberry Muffins and I thought the recipe looked delicious and unique.

Billy's surgery was originally scheduled for September, but they called us last week and it's been moved to tomorrow! It was kind of last minute notice, but I think it's going to work out perfectly. Jeremy and I will still be in Nashville and we won't have to worry about getting a flight in from OKC.

I decided to make Strawberry Muffins to take to the hospital for snacking- while everyone just waits around. They turned out pretty good- a nice alternative to the traditional blueberry.

Strawberry Muffins

½ cup (1 stick) butter, melted and cooled
1 ¼ cups sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
2 large eggs at room temperature
1 teaspoon of vanilla
Zest of ½ an orange
2 1/3 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon nutmeg
2 tablespoons plus ½ teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup roughly chopped strawberries (fresh or frozen)
½ cup buttermilk

Preheat over to 375 degrees. Whisk the butter, 1 ¼ cups sugar, salt, eggs, vanilla, and orange zest together in a bowl. Sift the flour, baking powder, nutmeg and ½ teaspoon cinnamon over the butter mix. Add the berries to the flour mix and gently fold a few times. Add the buttermilk and gently mix together.

Scoop out the dough into paper-lined muffin pans. Will make six Texas size muffins or twelve standard size muffins.

Combine the remaining 2 tablespoons of cinnamon with the remaining ¼ cup of sugar and sprinkle on top of the muffins. Bake for 20-35 minutes, depending on size of muffin.

Monday, July 21, 2008

A Day of Birthdays

Today we celebrated Rita's birthday and Mandy's birthday. Last year, was a significant birthday for Rita, so we celebrated with a fantastic surprise party. This year was a little more low key- Jeremy and I had lunch with Billy and Rita at Jay Alexander's in Nashville. Then, they headed home and grilled out hamburgers and hot dogs with the rest of the family!

We had a very fun time! Happy Birthday, Rita!!!

Rita's birthday last year

That night, we were off to celebrate Mandy's BIG 3-0!!! We were part of her wonderful surprise party. She went out to dinner with her husband, David, while we all decorated her house and waited to yell surprise when she walked in the door. I think she was genuinely surprised! And that's my favorite kind of party!

You can see the rest of the surprise party pics here. Happy Birthday, Mandy!

All the guests waiting to say SURPRISE!

Me with the birthday girl

Yummy- ice cream cake!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Friends I’ll Remember to Never Forget

Ali and Sam came to visit us in Nashville. We had such a great time. As with most of our visitors, it seemed like we mainly centered our days and activities around food! But it was delicious and fun!

On Friday, Ali and I enjoyed lunch at the girly and delicious Puffy Muffin. It was wonderful! We shopped a little bit and went to one of our old favorite nail salons for a pedi.

That night, we ate at a new restaurant in historic Franklin- Sol. It was so yummy! They make fresh guacamole at your table- that’s rare in Nashville. Unfortunately, I was feeling a little under the weather, so we didn’t do anything else that night

On Saturday morning, Sam would not allow us to eat anywhere other than the Pancake Pantry. It’s a Nashville tradition! You have to stand in line to get a table- they don’t take reservations or call ahead seating. You just line up outside the building. The line can look a little intimidating at first, but it moves really fast. It moves even faster, when your husband waits in line while you and your friend browse in the nearby boutiques (thanks Jeremy & Sam!).

Sam was like a kid in a candy store. Jeremy had a ham & cheese omelet, Ali had sugar and spice pancakes, Sam had grill cook's medley, and I had pecan pancakes. Fantastic!

For the remainder of Saturday, we were lazy and enjoyed the day! When Ali and I were in law school, I made cheese blintzes a few times for parties at Ali & Sam’s. They became Sam’s favorite and now, he requests them! My mom got this recipe from a neighbor in Granbury and we’ve been making them ever since, including at Amy’s wedding! Here is the recipe:

Patti’s Cheese Blintzes

1 day old loaf of white sandwich bread
1 stick of butter (melted and cooled)

8 oz. package of cream cheese
1 egg yolk
¼ cup sugar

¾ cup sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Cut crust off bread. Roll flat with rolling pin. Spread filling onto bread. Roll up. Mix topping. Dip in butter, then roll in topping. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes

Saturday night, we went to MAFIAoZA’S for dinner. They have pizza and pasta dishes named after famous Mafia people and things. You’re gonna love it or else . . .

A trip to Nashville would not be complete without a trip to Broadway to visit some of the famous honky tonks. Ironically, we seemed to hear every type of music except old country. But the band was good and there were plenty of crazy tourists and locals to keep us laughing! We ended the night at Lonnie’s where they have karaoke and buckets of beer (cash only). It was fun, but we had to leave when a couple got up on stage to do a duet that was completely awful!

Sunday morning- more food! We had brunch at Tin Angel and stopped by the Farmer’s Market to get a watermelon for dinner. We grilled out steaks and had mashed potatoes, corn on the cob, and watermelon.

Then it was time to take Ali and Sam to the airport. We had such a good time and I was sad to see them leave. It was nice that we went to some of our old favorite spots in Nashville, since Jeremy and I are leaving soon, too! We reminisced about our old law school days and how much we and Nashville has changed!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Key Lime Goodness

Lately, I have really been craving key lime pie. Normally, I’m definitely a chocolate girl, but I have been ordering key lime pie whenever possible. I finally decided to give it a try myself and I was not disappointed. It’s a very simple and tasty recipe!

Our friends, Ali and Sam are coming to Nashville for a visit, so this will be waiting on them when they get here. Hopefully, they like key lime pie as much as I do!

And a special thanks to Lisa, Deborah and Delancy for my fancy new shamrock green Fiesta pie plate! I love it! It definitely makes the pie taste better!!!

Key Lime Pie

2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup sugar
7 tablespoons butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In medium bowl, combine cracker crumbs, 1/4 cup of sugar, and the melted butter. Press firmly on bottom and up sides of pie plate. Bake for 7 minutes and let cool completely.

3 large egg yolks
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
2 teaspoons grated lime zest
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 cup heavy cream

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and condensed milk. Stir in the lime zest, lime juice, and cream. Pour the filling into the crust and bake about 30 minutes or until firm. Remove pie from oven and let cool 20 minutes before putting into fridge.

E’s Notes:
  • I used the remaining heavy cream to make whipped cream by adding some powdered sugar and beating for a few minutes.
  • The homemade crust is totally optional- you could definitely by a prepared crust from the store.
  • I cheated a little bit and used the juice from one fresh lime and some store-bought key lime juice. I can’t tell a difference!

Ivy went to the groomer for a day of pampering. Doesn't she look pretty???

Apparently, all that pampering leaves her exhausted. She's been sleeping all afternoon!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Pick a Pepper!

We stopped by Billy and Rita's on Monday and they gave us more tomatoes and a few peppers! At this point, I had to make some salsa!

As I said earlier, I was a little reluctant to make the salsa since I didn’t want to ruin the delicious tomatoes. I looked up about 10 recipes on salsa and reviewed the ingredients and the process. And then . . . I did it my own way. My big decision was whether to do a “fresh” salsa and just chop all the ingredients or to do a “restaurant style” salsa and cook the salsa mixture. I decided to go with cooking it, since the fresh tomatoes have a ton of juice and I am hoping it will last a little bit longer. We’ll see.

I don’t have an exact recipe for this- I used 8 large fresh tomatoes, 1 yellow onion, 5-6 jalapeƱo peppers, juice of 1 lemon, 3 garlic cloves, handful of cilantro, teaspoon or so of cumin, tablespoon of chili powder, and salt. I peeled and cored the tomatoes and put them in a large sauce pan until they came to a boil. I put them in the blender until it was fairly smooth. Back into the pot and I added all the other ingredients (except cilantro). I let them mixture cook for about 30 minutes, until all the veggies were soft. Last, I topped it off with the cilantro.

I really thought this was going to be like several other things I have made (like biscuits) from scratch- good, but not worth the effort when the store has plenty of good options. But it was completely delicious and so worth it. I did taste it at one point during the cooking to see if it needed more ingredients- I added salt and more peppers. It’s going to be hard to eat “regular” store-bought salsa now! Although I will say, I think the tomatoes made it great!

E’s Notes:

  • You could make this with canned tomatoes- most of the recipes online used canned tomatoes.
  • Taste it several times during the process to see what it needs. The peppers will get hotter and more flavorful as all the ingredients meld together.
  • I took the seeds out of the peppers- if you want it hotter, leave the seeds in!
  • Add ingredients that you like or omit the ones you don’t like (ex. cilantro).