Saturday, January 31, 2009

This Thing Is Legendary

At least it’s a legend in the Moore Family! For as long as I can remember every year in January, the Moore Family has put on some boots and headed to Fort Worth for the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo. There have been a few years in there that I didn’t make it for various reasons. But if at all possible, we always try to go- rain or shine!

There is nothing quite like the smell of manure, cotton candy, fried fair food, dirt, and livestock! Instantly upon setting foot upon the stock show grounds, memories from all the past years come flooding back. It might not be everyone's idea of a family tradition, but we always have a great time!

Ethan and Jeremy didn't get the memo on the red/ pink theme!

This year, we met my parents on Friday night for dinner and went shopping before the rodeo on Saturday. We had originally planned on Jeremy’s parents joining us, but due to Rita’s knee surgery and a little bit of the flu, they were not up to the very long trip from Tennessee to Dallas. Instead, Rocky and Amy were able to be part of the fun and tradition (it’s their 2nd time!).

Ivy missed a great show!

It was a good rodeo and really good to see everyone and celebrate a family tradition! Y’all come back now!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Ice Day

An Ice Day is a little bit like a Snow Day, but NOT. On Snow Days, you wake up to a beautiful white blanket of snow. You anxiously watch the news to find out if work/ school is canceled! When it is, you celebrate! You can build a snow man, throw snow balls, and play in the snow. You can come in from playing in the cold and drink a steaming cup of hot chocolate. You watch in awe as the perfect little flakes fall silently onto the snow covered ground.

On Ice Days, you anxiously watch the news to see if work/ school is canceled and when it is, you celebrate. That’s pretty much where the similarity ends. There is no soft blanket of anything- it’s hard and crunchy. And you sure better not, go out and play. You’ll break your neck when you slip and fall. And you can’t watch flakes fall softly to the ground- pellets of ice are hitting your windows all night!

Where's Ivy?!?!

In all honesty, it’s really nice to have a random day off from work and it’s even nicer that we knew last night that we would not be going to work since the roads are so bad. We got to sleep in- Jeremy made breakfast- eggs, biscuits, and bacon. And I’ve lounged around in my pjs all morning.

What can you do on an Ice Day (since I’m obviously not playing outside)!?!? I’ve watched plenty of FoodNetwork, baked cupcakes, mostly caught up on blogging, took a bubble bath, and made some dinner!

Hopefully, my car will be defrosted tomorrow before I need to leave for work!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Bad Weather Cupcakes

After leaving work early due to the ice and “wintry mix,” I decided to make some cupcakes. I was pretty limited since I could not go to the store for any ingredients. I realized that I had all the ingredients to make Chocolate Filled Cupcakes. I’ve made them before and included them on my blog here.

It’s a really easy recipe and they are great for transporting, since you don’t frost them. You don’t even miss the frosting with the gooey center. They are best when eaten right after coming out of the oven- cool about 4 minutes. But if you have some left the next day, you can microwave for about 10 seconds and the center will be gooey again.

I use vanilla bean paste, instead of a whole vanilla bean. I also made a little substitution on the chocolate this time. I happened to not have a bar of bittersweet chocolate, but I did have Dove dark chocolate miniatures. Those worked perfect!

But I made them a little special in honor of V-day. So I thought I would share them again with a few more pics and the actual recipe!

Chocolate-Filled Cupcakes

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
6 large egg whites
3/4 cup whole milk
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 vanilla beans, halved lengthwise, seeds scraped and reserved, beans discarded
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, cut into 12 2-inch chunks
1 tablespoon confectioners' sugar, for dusting

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a standard 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners; set aside. Put butter and granulated sugar into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; mix on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add egg whites, milk, vanilla extract, and vanilla seeds; mix until combined, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Add flour, baking powder, and salt; mix until just combined.

Divide batter among muffin cups, filling each cup about 3/4 full. Insert a piece of chocolate into center of each, pressing about halfway into batter to cover. Bake until pale golden brown, about 24 minutes. Transfer tin to a wire rack; let cool slightly. Dust with confectioners' sugar before serving. Cupcakes can be stored in airtight containers at room temperature up to 3 days.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

New Year's in OKC

Since we had been with my family for the Christmas holiday, we decided to spend New Year’s with Jeremy’s family. Luckily, they were willing to drive to OKC, since we were a little tired of traveling. They wanted to come see our new house, too!

Billy, Rita, Alison, Granny B, and their two dogs, Gabby and Sebastian made the long trek from West Tennessee to OKC. The night they arrived, we had dinner waiting for them. I decided to make red beans and rice, since it was a little cool out and it’s typically a crowd pleaser. I think everyone liked it.

Red Beans and Rice

1 pound dried red beans, rinsed and sorted over
3 tablespoons bacon grease
1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onions
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Pinch cayenne
3 bay leaves
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2 teaspoons fresh thyme
1/2 pound smoked sausage, split in half lengthwise and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 pound smoked ham hocks
tablespoons chopped garlic
10 cups chicken stock, or water (I used combo)
4 cups cooked white rice
1/4 cup chopped green onions, garnish

Place the beans in a large bowl or pot and cover with water by 2 inches. Let soak for 8 hours or overnight. Drain and set aside. (Very important step- don't forget!)

In a large pot, heat the bacon grease over medium-high heat. Add the onions to the grease in the pot. Season with the salt, pepper, and cayenne, and cook, stirring, until the vegetables are soft, about 4 minutes. Add the bay leaves, parsley, thyme, sausage, and ham hocks, and cook, stirring, to brown the sausage and ham hocks, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the beans and stock or water, stir well, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the beans are tender and starting to thicken, about 2 hours. (Should the beans become too thick and dry, add more water, about 1/4 cup at a time.)

Remove from the heat and with the back of a heavy spoon, mash about 1/4 of the beans against the side of the pot. Continue to cook until the beans are tender and creamy, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the heat and remove the bay leaves. Serve over rice and garnish with green onions.

We played a few games, watched movies, and Alison and I decided to decorate cupcakes. We went with a red and white theme. I think they turned out pretty cute!

Somehow we made it through the entire weekend without taking a family picture! We will have to remedy that at our next get-together.

Here’s our pic in our matching pjs from last Christmas!

After several days of fun, they headed back to Tennessee. Ivy was completely exhausted!