“Nobody can go back and start a new beginning but anyone can start today and make a new ending.” – Maria Robinson

Last week I told you how super duper triple excited I was that my Erin Condren life planner had arrived via FedEx.  Well, it’s because that thing is just filled with awesomeness! My friend Rachel had tweeted about it, wondering if it were crazy to be tracking her planner’s delivery.  It made me take notice – this must be a pretty cool planner. (and no, it is not crazy, I did the exact same thing)

So I looked it up. And my OCD self was sold!!!

They are so pretty and colorful, you can design the cover the way you would like, with your name, initials, family name and you can even upload your own photos to be on the front cover if you would like! I decided on one of her designs and my name.

You can add things to it like color coordinating pens or matching notepads (which I did).

(And the notepads have little stickies that lets you stick them to inside back cover.)

It comes with stickers to mark on your calendar for special occasions and you can even order stickers that have your personal pictures on them to give it a more personalized touch!

It has a monthy calendar along with weekly calenders with separate slots for morning, day and night.

In the front there it has the months and dates listed for you to write in birthdays and anniversaries for an “at a glance” look.

One of the really great things about ordering this planner is that you can order it starting the month you want it to, so you do not waste any months nor do you have to wait til December to start a new calendar.

So, basically, if you are a planner, or just plain OCD like me – this is a very pretty, fun and colorful way to go about your scheduling!!

Check it out!!

abp  

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“There’s no such thing as a bad carbohydrate.” – Don Kardong

Hopefully after a very painful shot in the bottom, I will feel better tomorrow!!!!

This is getting old.

But something that will never, ever get old – PASTA!!

I crave carbohydrates and there is no better way to fill that need than with PASTA (pasta with heavy cream is even better)

I was a trooper and I did not disappoint my peanut gallery, even though there were several times in the day I thought I might just have to postpone dinner. But I am soooo glad I did not. This is another fabulous recipe that will definitely work it’s way into a monthly rotation.  My house still smells like a mexican restaurant but I don’t care. Nothing a little pine-sol can’t fix.

Cajun Chicken Pasta – another Pioneer Woman creation – that women is phenomenal. There is nothing of hers I do not like.

CAJUN CHICKEN PASTA

  • 3 whole Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts, Cut Into Cubes
  • 3 teaspoons Cajun Spice Mix, More To Taste
  • 1 pound Fettuccine
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 2 Tablespoons Butter
  • 1 whole Green Bell Pepper, Seeded And Sliced
  • 1 whole Red Bell Pepper, Seeded And Sliced
  • 1/2 whole Large Red Onion, Sliced
  • 3 cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 4 whole Roma Tomatoes, Diced
  • 2 cups Low Sodium Chicken Broth
  • 1/2 cup White Wine
  • 1 cup Heavy Cream
  • Cayenne Pepper To Taste
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper, To Taste
  • Salt To Taste
  • Chopped Fresh Parsley, To Taste

First cook your pasta according to directions (al dente – do not over cook), drain, set aside.

Then sprinkle chicken with 1½ teaspoons of cajun seasoning (I used Zatarans). Brown chicken in a large skillet with butter and olive oil until cooked through, remove with slotted spoon to clean plate.

Add a little more butter and olive oil and sauteé onions, peppers and garlic (adding remaining cajun seasoning) until soft and slightly black. (This is why my house smells like a mexican restaurant – just like cooking fajitas) Now add the tomatoes and cook for about 30 seconds.

Remove vegetables from skillet and on high heat add the wine and chicken broth and cook for 3-4 minutes, scraping all the goody off the bottom.  Reduce heat to medium-low and pour in cream, stirring constantly until it starts to thicken.  (mine didn’t really want to thicken up, so I ended up whisking in about a tablespoon of flour)  At this point add in more cajun seasoning, cayenne pepper and salt to taste. (I like it spicy)

Now add back in the vegetables and chicken, stir and cook for 1-2 minutes or until it’s hot and bubbly.

Toss in fettuccine and combine.

Serve with fresh parsley. Voilà!!!!

eew wee dog!!!!!

This is some kind of wonderful!!!! I have been meaning to try this recipe for months and I’m sorry I didn’t try it sooner.

All 3 members of the peanut gallery that were in attendance were very pleased. I would tell you their comments but to be honest – I was in a cold medicine haze and I don’t remember! 😉

They all had big smiles though!

Hope everyone had a terrific Tuesday!

abp

“I’m a fast-talking, sharp-shooting, tough girl. I like to think that I’m really tough on the outside, with a caramel-sweet center.” – Reese Witherspoon

Yay for No Make-Up Mondays!!! With things being as busy as they have been for the past 3 months I haven’t had a NMM in awhile! I’m going to take advantage of it!

Not to mention my head still feels like a 30 lb. bowling ball. The Dayquil has not done it’s trick yet this morning. I hate being puny. (you know – puny is a funny sounding word, especially if you say it over and over)

Ok, I finished up some paper work and laundry so its off to the kitchen to attempt the Carmelitas!  I’m hoping chocolate will make me feel better. 🙂

Here we go!

Carmelitas Courtesy of Lulu the Baker

  • 32 caramel squares, unwrapped
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 3/4 cup butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 6 ounces semisweet chocolate chips

First, unwrap caramels and combine with the cream in saucepan over low heat.  Stir until smooth. Remove from heat and set aside. I poured mine into a pourable measuring cup. Preheat oven to 350°.

In a separate bowl, combine melted butter, brown sugar, flour, oats, and baking soda.

Pat half of the oatmeal mixture into the bottom of an 8×8″ pan.

Bake for 10 minutes.

Now sprinkle on the chocolate chips and pour caramel sauce on top of that.

Crumble the remaining oat mixture on top and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes.

Cool completely before cutting. I actually served mine more like a cobbler – warming each slice back up and serving with ice cream. Fabulous, to say the least. MayMay said it was the best thing she had ever eaten. 🙂 I love my peanut gallery.

Click pic to see the up close awesomness!!!!!!

This is a must make!!!!

Until we meet again!

abp

“All people love meat. If I went to a barbeque and there was no meat, “Yo Goober! Where’s the meat? I’m trying to impress people here Lisa. You don’t win friends with salad.” — Homer Simpson

Dang it, Dang it, Dang it. I knew it would happen. I have caught the DH’s summer cold. 😦 (Scratchy throat, heavy head, all over yucks)

Boo.

I’m going to need a crate of Dayquil.

I hope this does not slow me down. I still plan on making Amy’s 4th of July Ribs today (because most of that will be manning the grill and you know who’s job that is) but not sure if the Carmelitas will make the cut. We’ll see how I feel after church and after a dose of Dayquil.

(later in the day……)

Scratch that. I’m cooking them in the oven because DH wasn’t sure if he could keep the green egg (a charcoal grill) at a regulated 250º for 6-7 hours – I’m not knocking the man’s grilling skills, he could do it but would probably be a pain and that would take away from the ease of this particular meal. I hope to have a gas grill for me to use fairly soon. I figure they will start being on sale as fall approaches. I hate buying anything full price. (unless it’s a purse – then I don’t mind so much)

Cooking them in the oven really was just as easy for me to do because after they are prepared you just plop them in the oven and forget about them.  It did keep me from making the Carmelitas since the oven was otherwise occupied but that kind of let me off the hook as seeing I really do not feel well. Dang cold.

Anyhoo – This is really a super duper easy but delicious meal!

You start out with frozen ribs, any kind, any amount.

You then mix Bulls Eye Barbeque Sauce and Lawry’s Herb and Garlic marinade in a bowl. (The number of bottles would be determined by the number of ribs)

Place the ribs on non-stick aluminum foil (enough to wrap around them). Baste both sides with the BBQ mixture (reserving some for later) and wrap it up tight. After that, wrap it up tightly again in heavy duty aluminum foil.

Place on grill or on baking sheet (if using oven) and grill/bake at 250° for 6-7 hours.

Then remove and unwrap the ribs, baste with reserved sauce and cook for 15-20 minutes more.

*****The secret to these ribs is that you start the cooking process with them still frozen. The moisture released from being frozen is what makes them so soft and melt in your mouth wonderful!

You can now make this meal and easy or as complicated as you would like – I am opting for super easy, which means – Bob Evans microwavable mashed pototoes (honestly – I can’t make homemade that taste much better), corn from a can and sliced sour dough bread from the deli at publix, pads of butter placed in between the slices with this also wrapped in foil and thrown in the oven for the last bit of cooking.

I really do hope I feel better tomorrow, especially with the peanut gallery coming and all. Actually one member will be missing but she can try left overs and fill out an absentee ballot. I also really want to make the Carmelitas!!! That’s all I really have to do tomorrow so maybe with an occasional break on the couch I’ll feel like getting it all done!

Hope everyone had a wonderful weekend!

abp

“I am not a glutton – I am an explorer of food” ― Erma Bombeck

How is everyone (in Alabama) enjoying their tax free weekend? I had a fun little run at Belk and Publix yesterday morning but it became way to crazy busy for me out there, so the rest of my day was spent piddling around the house. Which I really enjoy doing. Great time to be lazy and stay cool. And watch my main man Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory on the DVR! Does anyone else love that show as much as I do?? Bazinga!

Oh! I also painted my toes a fun new color – Bikini So Teeny by Essie.

Whatcha think??

In other news – the weekend of gluttony continues……

I ate lunch with the DH at Zoe’s Kitchen – which wasn’t too bad except for the giant chocolate chip/chocolate chunk cookie they have sitting by the register that I can not resist for any amount of money.  I also made it through the afternoon without a snack so there is absolutely no guilt about the awesome cheesy goodness of the Simple, Perfect Enciladas I made for dinner.

First of all, let me tell you about the salad I usually make to serve with any mexican dish – it’s yummy, easy to assemble and is a really great accompaniment for this meal.

I call it my Sante Fe Ranch Salad.

  • Hearts of Romaine lettuce (in a bag)
  • Mexican blend shredded cheese
  • Can of black bean (drained and rinsed)
  • Can of corn (drained and rinsed)
  • Bag of tortilla strip salad toppers
  • Hidden Valley Ranch Spicy Ranch Dressing

You just place the lettuce in a big bowl or individual bowls, top with a mixture of the beans and corn, sprinkle with cheese, as much dressing as desired and then finish it off with the tortilla strips. Yummy and pretty!

As for the Enchiladas, The Pioneer Woman refers to the components of the meal as The Sauce, The Meat and The Rest, so that is how I will go at it. Also, I am halving this recipe because it’s just the two of us and the original serves 8.

The recipe below is the half recipe.

The Perfect Enchiladas

The Sauce

  • ½ Tbs of canola oil
  • 1 Tbs of flour
  • 1 (14 oz) can of enchilada sauce
  • 1 cup of chicken broth
  • ¼ tsp of salt
  • ¼ tsp of pepper
  • 1 Tbs of chopped cilantro, more for serving

The Meat

  • ½ lb. ground beef
  • ½ medium onion (chopped)
  • 1 (4 oz.) can of diced green chilies
  • ¼ tsp of salt

The Rest

  • 6-8 Corn tortillas
  • canola oil for frying
  • ¼ cup chopped black olives (I omitted these because I don’t like ’em)
  • ½ cup chopped green onions
  • 1½ cup of shredded cheddar cheese (I used mexican blend)
  • Cilantro

You start by combining the flour and canola oil in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Whisk this together and let bubble for 1 minute.

Then pour in the red sauce, chicken broth, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer.

Brown the meat and onions in a large skillet and drain the fat. Add to that the green chillies and salt. Stir to combine. Remove from heat.

In a small skillet over medium heat, lightly fry the tortillas one at a time in the canola oil just until soft (do not crisp). Drain on paper towels.

Preheat oven to 350°. Spread ¼ cup of the sauce in the bottom of baking dish.

Next dip each tortilla in the sauce and place on platter to be assembled.

Layer meat mixture, (black olives if you wish), green onions and cheese.

Roll up the tortilla and place seam side down in baking dish.

Once all of the tortillas are finished stir the cilantro into remaining sauce and pour over the tortillas.

Top with cheese and bake for 20 minutes or until bubbly.

Once out of oven sprinkle with more cilantro.

ench

I served this with the aforementioned salad and cooked seasoned black beans.

HOLY HOT TAMALE!!! – these puppies were awesome!!!! I have to give credit to the Pioneer Woman – she knows how to make an enchilada!!!

The DH went back for 3rds and was scraping the bottom of the baking dish as he took it to the sink (I cook, he does the dishes :)). He also said we could have those again tomorrow night – you have to understand – Mexican is not his favorite (Italian is), so this is really saying something. Note: the serving for 8 was cut in half and the 2 of us finished it off……

They were so good, I kind of hate that this was not a peanut gallery meal.  Oh well, they will eventually get to try it because this is going on the normal rotation!!!

It was a little time consuming – probably not one I would want to make after a long day at work unless I had the components made up ahead of time, which would be doable except for frying the tortillas. I need to keep that in mind because I have a feeling this one will be requested again in no time!

Give it a try! I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!!

abp

“When in doubt, pig out!” – Jim Davis (creator of Garfield)

The good news is……….I lost 2.2 lbs. since last weeks weigh in!!! Whoo-hoo!!!! Yay me!

That means I’m going to pig out this weekend!

Last night I started the wonderful process of operation pig-out by going to the new Shrimp Basket in town. I have always looooved the ones on the coast, so its nice to have a little of the beach here in town.

Tonight I’m going to make The Pioneer Women’s Simple, Perfect Enchiladas.  Sunday will be a normal church breakfast which consists of either bacon/eggs/biscuits or sausage and gravy biscuits and Sunday night will be Amy’s 4th of July Ribs. Monday I’ll be having the whole peanut gallery over for Cajun Chicken Pasta (another PW recipe) – this is a trial run for a possible tailgate meal.

Somewhere in there I’ll be making Carmelitas for dessert. They look AWESOME!

PW Enciladas

PW Cajun Chicken Pasta

Carmelitas courtesy of Lulu the Baker

So, there are the new items I’m attempting.  We’ll see how they turn out.

This is short and sweet but I had a cortisone injection (boo for pain, yay for results) in my wrist yesterday afternoon and its still a teensy bit sore.

abp

“We’ll serve no swine, before it’s time” – Johnny’s BBQ, Cullman, AL

Thursday night is usually the night I go eat with “the mom” (proud member of the peanut gallery). Tonight it was at Jim ‘N Nicks Bar-b-q. Having been several times at locations in Birmingham, I had only been once since it’s opening in Tuscaloosa a couple months ago and tonight it did not disappoint. It has an awesome laid back atmosphere and yummy grub – which brings me to my topic of the day – the loaded BBQ Baked potato – or what they refer to it as the “Pig in the Potato Patch”.  It’s divine, that’s all I can say. Heavenly. Awesome. Yum. (ok, maybe that wasn’t all I could say 😉 )

What this spud story brings me to is…… (drum roll please) – THE original, THE best, THE most perfect potato in the world  – Johnny’s Bar-B-Q’s (in good ole’ Cullman, AL) Barbeque Pork Potato (can you hear angels singing?).

As described in their menu…..

…you got one lip-smacking, belly-filling, foot-stomping, bulldog-slappin’ tator that you’ll never forget!

(I’m also quite fond of the owner – shout out to Ron D.!!)  whoot! whoot!

Over the years, since leaving Cullman I’ve searched for a potato that could come close to this and Jim ‘N Nicks does a great job but it’s no Johnny’s.  One thing that puts JBBQ’s ‘tator over the top is the unbelievably good white barbeque sauce (which I need to try and make) that you can request, in the perfect for serving,  squeezy bottle – I just can’t get enough. The combination of the red and white sauce is incomparable. It’s slap your momma good. (but you best not try that)

Johnny’s Bar-B-Q Menu

I try and stop there when I go home to visit. Comfort food in a comfortable restaurant that has been family owned since 1963. The waitresses still call you honey or baby which in my book is as good as calling me by my first name.

Luckily for you, if you are traveling in North Alabama on Interstate 65 it’s just a hop, skip and jump (1.2 miles east on HWY 278 to be exact) from exit 308. I highly recommend making a stop. You’ll be glad you did.

abp

“Health food may be good for the conscience but oreos taste a heck of a lot better.” – Robert Redford

Ok, normal work day for me and I am very happy that the DH will be manning the grill tonight. We usually cook ribeyes (love me some marble) but since they had NY strips on sale, I decided to be a good girl – both on budget and fat grams. I’ll still marinate the same (Dales) but I’ll just poke the pooh out of them with a fork first.

Instead of the standard ceasar salad that I always serve with our steaks, I opted for sauteéd asparagus because Publix had the skinny kind – YAY for skinny! – and I just had to have that instead!

I’m pretty drained this evening so regular baked potatoes will accompany, not twice baked.  Although, I add enough butter, sour cream, cheese and bacon that you really can’t tell much difference by the time I’m finished with it. DH is usually half-way through his meal by the time I get my ‘tator just right! (which in my world means fattening as can be).

Diet? I know.

Well. On to dessert.

Since I had a free hour or so I decided to try a new cookie recipe I found:

OREO CHEESECAKE COOKIES

I found this recipe on Pinterest from the blog Pass The Plate.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate chips (optional)
  • 1 cup Oreos, crushed

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

In a mixing bowl, cream together the butter and cream cheese on medium speed until smooth and well-combined.

Add the sugar and vanilla extract and mix until the ingredients are well-combined. Add the flour and mix on low until the flour is incorporated. Stir in the mini chocolate chips with a rubber spatula.

Place the Oreo cookie crumbs in a small bowl. Scoop the cookies into about 1½ to 2″ balls and then roll in the cookie crumbs. Place the cookie balls on the baking sheet.

Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the edges are golden and the tops are slightly puffed.

Cool on the pan for 2 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

Here’s how they turned out –

oreo

The DH (peanut gallery member #1) said: “EXCELLENT!!”

The Mom (peanut gallery member number #2) said:
“mmmhhm mrm grmmm” (mouth is full speak for “these are great!”)

These cookies were delicious and not hard to make at all! The batter was pretty tasty along the way too! I will definitely be making these again!

On another note – My Erin Condren life planner arrived today!!!!!! YAY, YAY, YAY!!! Super Duper, triple thrilled!!!!! More on that next week!!

abp

“Tiny bubbles in the wine, make me happy, make me feel fine” – Don Ho

With my best friend and her daughter leaving today for Hawaii (awesome graduation present – kudos mom!!), it got me to thinking of my last trip to Hawaii. Like every trip – the dinner reservations were almost made before the hotel reservations (but not quite). I do believe food makes a trip.

When a location is determined I usually start with Urbanspoon. It’s a good way to get reviews, check menus, days/times they’re open – with all the contact info listed right there with it in case you want to visit their website or make reservations.

When visiting Hawaii and making dinner reservations, it’s always good to check sunset times.  A lot of these restaurants are outside and a view of the sunset is fabulous. Sometimes you can even request a table with a specific view.

In the Honolulu/Waikiki area  – Dukes is one of my absolute favorites of all time.

Dukes is exactly what one thinks of when one thinks of Hawaii. It’s on the beach, it has great food, great atmosphere, open air seating, great bar, live entertainment. You name it – it has Aloha written all over it.

Dining Room Menus

Barefoot Bar Menus

Here’s a picture I took – quality is not great but you get the idea.

I made sure my friends made reservations here!

I can’t wait to hear what they think!

Have any of you ever been before? What did you think?

Everybody sing with me now…..

abp