Saturday, May 29, 2010

Road Trip!

Today 3 generations (JMom, Homey, and yours truly) are taking a short road trip to Charlotte to the Oz of domesticity! IKEA!! I won't completely flip out until I get there! I hope to bring you great footage of our adventures...even though to some of you it's like rollin' around the corner to Target. Whatever. I only get there once a year, so it's a bigger deal to me...I don't get out much.

So to keep my peeps occupied while I'm gone watch this. LOVE it!! Cracks me up! My favorite part is when the mom says "I'm kind of a big deal..." I pulled that line on the husband a few days ago at our outing to a baseball game when he praised me for being over prepared with my bag over packed with snacks and drinks for the Beast. (Which I am also doing for IKEA!).


Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Garden...It's Doin' Things!!

Just a quick post to show that I have not killed my plants. They are actually back there growing!

Bell Pepper!
Flowers on the eggplant (I'm not sure I eat eggplant...)

Cubanelle Pepper
Carrots! (I know for a fact that I don't eat carrots...)

Tons of yellow blooms ready to give me tons of tomatoes. Homey's favorite!

And my beautiful basil!

There are also watermelon sprouts back there. Which reminds me that I need to plant our pumpkin seeds next week. The parsley is doing great...which reminds me that I need to buy some arugula soon. I'm very forgetful, but easily reminded.

Stay tuned for more adventures in gardening!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

My Super Special Milkshake

It's milkshake season!! Who doesn't love a milkshake? But honestly, today may be the day that I lose you all forever. You may completely give up and convince yourself that I obviously have no idea what I'm talking about. Because today's milkshake has a very special secret ingredient.

Yep. Meet my friend the avocado. Famous for his appearances in guacamole and some sushi rolls, and now starring in My Tuesday Evening Milkshake. Trust me, people!!

Go ahead and cut the avocado in half.

Take the pit out. Just tap your knife into it and twist. It'll pop right out. You've seen Rachel Ray do it a million times, I know.

Now score the fruit (is avocado a fruit??) while it's in the skin still. Then you can just scoop out the little cubes with a spoon.

Put about 3 good sized scoops of vanilla ice cream in the blender. One avocado will make about 2 milkshakes.

Add the avocado. Just add it...don't over think this. Be brave.

Add a splash of milk. You can also add a few tablespoons of sugar at this point. I don't usually add extra sugar to stuff, but I don't have much of a sweet tooth.

Show it to Homey...she's been waiting patiently. Look at the gorgeous color of this shake!

If I could be the person that names paint colors, I'd name a color Avocado Milkshake.

See...she likes it...

Do not be afraid!! Make it, even if you have never dealt with avocado before in your life. It's sooo light and refreshing. The texture is incredibly silky...not quite like a boring chocolate milkshake.

And if you never read this blog again, I'll completely understand...just know that I would never lead you astray. I'm here to share happy thoughts with you. And this, my friend, is deliciously happy.

Homey wouldn't lie! Look at that milkshake lovin' face:

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Fun with Basil!

My first harvest of the year! The garden is still alive! Mostly because we're getting a lot of rain this spring. Not really because I've lovingly tended to the poor plants. But they're all still doing very well, I am pleased to report.

Much like this sassy lady, I went out to check on the garden today. Except I was not really in a thigh-high and heels kind of mood today. Maybe next time...

I went out today and picked a pile of basil. It was about to think about blooming, and I think you need to start picking off of it before it blooms. So that's what I did. It smells so good!

I ended up being called away on some kind of Fairy Mermaid Princess emergency, so if anything harrowing like that that happens to you when you first pick your herbs, just throw them in some water until you're ready.

The basil patiently waits on me. When I return we discuss it and decide it's the perfect day for the season's first pesto. You will have all of this on hand, I bet.

2/3 cup chopped fresh basil
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup parmesan cheese
1 clove of garlic
salt and pepper to taste
**to be authentic you can add pine nuts
(I used all of mine on dolmades!)

Now comes the hard part. Dump everything into a food processor:

Process it.

Presto! Pesto!

At this point, the herby-cheesy-garlicky air in my kitchen has me pretty hungry. Might as well use some of this pesto for something immediately. How 'bout...

Ah, yes. This will do quite nicely.

Split the pita into two rounds. I went ahead and cut those in half also. Then brush on some pesto. Just a thin coat. I went a little thick and they didn't crisp up all the way.

Now cut them into wedges with a pizza cutter:

Pop 'em in a 350 degree oven for 10-12 minutes, until crisp and golden brown.

(I would do a china check a la my bff Pioneer Woman, but y'all would get sick
of hearing Fire King Jadeite or Pottery Barn "Emma" over and over!)

Delicious all by itself. Or serve with a salad. Yum!

Monday, May 24, 2010


Sometimes it's good to have an excuse to throw a party. Busy B's are very good at finding such excuses...nice spring weather, giant cooker at our disposal, vintage Hawaiian dresses, a birthday weekend...put all that stuff together and why on earth would you not throw a luau? Tracy throws great parties. She even has two books on throwing authentic luaus. Recipes, Hawaiian phrases, information on hula was overwhelming. We went through those books about 15 times in the past week. We did not try to hula dance. You're welcome.

Now I want to have more parties (Mr. B will just love that.) I think I'll have one for Memorial Day!

But for now, check out the Birthday Luau! (Ha! That rhymes!)

All our open air serving pieces are ready!

Thing 1 is humoring me with the photo op. Grass skirts are itchy!

Mr. Other B puts on Hawaiian records...perfect!

Some peeps shuck the corn for grilling...

...and some peeps dance with the beasts.

The B's enjoying their gathering! Vintage Hawaiian dress and beads. Only Tracy would have a vintage Hawaiian dress and beads. That's why she rocks.

Dinner!! Isn't it gorgeous?! Fried rice, grilled corn, avocado salad (so easy and good...we'll definitely post that one), fruit, Hawaiian rolls, Alex's smoked ribs and homemade sauces. YUM!

Then just let the kiddos play outside until they can't play anymore. A perfect gathering!

Happy Birthday, T!

Next time I'll trade you your vintage Hawaiian dress for my Target one. That's fair, right?

I dare you to come up with an excuse to have a gathering! Because it's almost summer, because you have a new grill, just because! Actually...tell me, do you even like to have parties (aka "small gatherings") and why do you throw your parties?

Saturday, May 22, 2010


Here's your first lesson in Greek food from someone who has no business showing anyone how to cook Greek food! But I've made this dish a few times, so I feel pretty confident with this one. We're making dolmades--grape leaves stuffed with a delicious mixture of lamb and rice. If you think you won't like this recipe because you think you don't like grape leaves or lamb, I'm going to say you're probably wrong. Just try one. I bet you'll like it! And it's surprisingly easy. Here's all you need:
A pound of ground lamb, finely chopped onion (I only use about a 1/3 cup), 2/3 cup white rice, 2/3 cup pine nuts (or whatever you have on hand...those bad boys are expensive!), a teaspoon of salt, 1/4 teaspoon of pepper, 1 teaspoon chopped fresh mint, 1 jar of grape leaves, 1 and a half cups water.

Mix up the rice (uncooked!), onion, pine nuts, mint, salt and pepper, and lamb in a mixing bowl.

Next check out your grape leaves. There will be several cigar-like rolls of leaves in the jar.

You have to gently find the end of a leaf and start unrolling it. You'll end up with a perfectly lovely grape leaf!
Rinse it off, and lay it rib-side down. Here's where it just gets ridiculously easy.

Place a spoonful of the meat mixture on the base of the leaf. Pull in the sides, then roll it up:

Continue until the meat mixture is gone. You'll have grape leaves left over. This is a good thing because you'll need to make these again soon. Put all of your dolmades in a deep skillet, keeping them tightly packed. Pour the cup and a half of water into the skillet, and bring it to a simmer.

Once it's simmering, reduce the heat to medium low and cover the skillet. Leave it alone for 50-55 minutes. Then they're done! Ready to eat!

Now I'm hungry. Again. Good thing I have some extra dolmades in the freezer for Greek craving emergencies!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

It's All Greek to Me

I'm on a kick. I may even want to convert if they would let me. But a recent cooking spree along with the annual Greek Festival has me in a frenzy. Let's pretend we're Greek for a moment. And if you are Greek, then will you please adopt me? We actually went to the Greek Festival two days in a row this year. That doesn't normally happen. Let me show you how we roll at the Greek Festival. Then later I'll show you some of what I know about cooking Greek food.

I was hungry and got a little too excited. I didn't take pictures of my favorite foods! But let me tell you what I ate (and I think I was supposed to share it with my family...oops!). I got the combination plate. Greek meatballs (I HAVE to figure those out, my word!), tiropetas (also have not made these...cheese filled phyllo dough. Ack!), spanakopitas (I have made these, and I'll show you how to do it. Soooo good. If you don't like spinach, shut up and eat it anyway. It's just that good), pastichio (yeah, so my sister in law isn't a fan...whatever. Delicious. I haven't made this yet, but I have a recipe!), and dolmades (my specialty! You'll think you won't like it then you will love it. Trust me.) So anyway, I ate, like, all of it. Homey wasn't hungry, and Mr. B took a few bites. I ended up devouring the entire plateful. Ridiculous. Here's what else went on while I was shoving food into my mouth.
Thing 2 had Greek Pizza...We're totally making this at home. YUM!

Tracy stood in line for gyros. Double Yum! Must make tzatziki sauce soon.

A group of dancers passed by in their fancy outfits...

There was plenty of room for the Beasts to play...

So pretty in front of the stage backdrop! They want to go to Greece too.

The Daddy Express signals the end of Day One.


Now, let me preface by saying that I really didn't mean to go another day. But we realized we forgot to buy pastries. You canNOT go down there and not buy a box of pastries. That would just be silly. Baklava, galaktoboureko, dipless, and about eleventy other things to choose from! Sadly we got there at the end of the festivities, so there wasn't a whole lot to choose from. That just means I have to figure out galatoboureko myself. Myself! (A favorite term of the Beasts..."I do it myself!" We wonder where they get it...)

Then we realized it would slso be silly to go back for our pastries and smell the other stuff and not eat it too. So we made an evening of it. Judge on, people.We had gyros. We got 3 giant gyros. Say what you will...(my child has a giant mouth!)

We watched the, it made me want to get up there. I didn't. But I thought about it.

They look so happy up there!

And look at this little one joining in. I almost wanted to get one of these jingle-jangle skirts for Homey, but thought better of it for my sanity. So cute!

Oh, then look who showed up at my side!

My favorite children! Wow, I shoulda been chillaxin' like the striped shirt dude in the chair behind us! That means that you ate Greek food. And it was good...

The essential's a recurring theme, so get used to it:

Next up...DOLMADES! Get ready! I really know how to do it!