Will someone please eat my food?

Maybe it’s not the best to write when you are irritated.  I got this really cool pot for Christmas, it’s a Tagine.

tagine

In it  you can make some amazing stews where the meat comes out so tender.  What is so special about this pot is that you cook on low, the juices stay in the pot and there is no overflow.  There is enough room for the air to rise, but it doesn’t need to escape, keeping all of that moisture in.  Once I got the new pot  I instantly thought, wow we are going to put an end to the “what’s for dinner questions” for a while!  My sister-in-law suggested some recipes and I was eager to put them to the test.  First up, chicken masala, then carne guisada.   Chicken breast doesn’t take that long to make, but the sauce takes at least an hour.  And of course you need to marinate your meat for at least 4 hours.  I made this dish, thought it was pretty good and my audience thought it was ok.  Hmmm, well cereal is ok too and it doesn’t take any effort to prepare.   Next up carne guisada, this is a Mexican stew dish.  I thought maybe this really should go in the crock pot because it takes 6 hours, but after reading the recipe online from a person who didn’t have a crockpot, I thought, ok in the tagine it went.  It took all day for this recipe to cook and when it was ready, I excitedly put a plate together for the fam with churro beans and a tortilla.  One said it was good, the other suddenly developed a loss of appetite.  What the heck?  This one that lost his appetite can eat boat loads of Chick-fil-a, What-a-burger and Popeyes.  (His culinary preference).  No problem, I have a bunch of left overs and there will be no need to hit up these places tomorrow because we have food.

Lastly, on my self pity rant, a note about my child who will not eat meat (but will eat seafood).  I get so tired of hearing I want food for dinner.  So, I decided to come up with a recipe for this child to eat.  Think about it, no asking, just a meal prepared for you hot, fresh, home made. Instantly I was asked what it was that I was making.  I responded coconut shrimp, it’s actually in a sauce and served over rice.  It was neither Indian or Thai.  This child (who is an adult) asked for something else instead of my plan.  I said the kitchen was open for her to make whatever.  I am willing to make the dish I purchased the items for.  Here is a decision point.  Do you make the dish you planned to make, or skip it because it was met with some resentment?  Spoiler, made the dish and it is met with total protest.  So, do you waste the time effort and energy making food?  At least I know I have a meal prepared for tomorrow, lunch for me.

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So my exciting sudden interest in cooking time consuming dishes has been satisfied and I don’t need to do it anymore.  The fam is fine with fast food and cereal.  Lesson learned.  I know that my food is not bad.  I would admit it if it was awful.  I just have these really picky people, lucky they are able to be so picky.  Of course I would like some additional recognition that the food is better than the usual if I put forth the time, effort and energy that the food prepared is better than usual.  Short cut methods are just as good if not better in some instances.

I have a friend that says she can’t cook.  This is non-sense.  Some things are a hit some a miss.  Again, I really think the dishes I made were really good.  My favorite show is Naked and Afraid.  If you have ever watched it, two people are dropped in a location and they have to find, shelter, water, food, protection for 21 days.  Most starve themselves for the 21 days because they are unable to hunt or find food.  I’m sure these people would be really happy to eat what I prepared.  So that is what I am going with, someone would LOVE what I make.

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Will someone please eat my food?

Christmas Traditions

Sitting around the table at a Christmas party we were asked what were some of our Christmas traditions?  I never really thought about it, but we actually do have Christmas traditions.  Some that have lasted over the years and new ones that are fun to start.

It would seem like the traditional feast and what is served would be a big one!  Turkey or ham?  It was fun to go to a friends house once that served traditional Italian food.  My sister-in-law prepared a nice traditional favorite after Christmas dinner (which was around lunch time).  So around 8pm it was nice to have a little snack.  Being that we are in Texas, it’s no surprise that there is a lot of Mexican influence.  A nacho recipe from my brother-in-law’s mother was the traditional treat my sister-in-law made.  These are not just any nachos though!   You use corn tortillas and cut them in quarters and then fry them in a pan. Then transfer them over to a baking sheet and slather some refried beans (from the can) on them.  Then you place deli thin sliced colby-jack cheese on top and bake them at 400 degrees for 10 minutes or until the cheese has melted. To top them, add sour cream a jalapeno (from the can) and sliced avocado.  These were sooooo good!  This was enjoyed while watching a Christmas movie and playing Texas Hold’em.

Needless to say I felt a bit self conscious when an elder person told me to watch and not eat so much.  He’s right, but I’m like really?  I mean o.k., so I did over do it the day before and had a stomach ache.   Then I barely mentioned I was going to go running and kept getting asked when I was going to go?  Seriously?  I did eventually go and dragged some people with me and the dog, which was fun, I’ve never ran with a dog before.  With the weather so damp in south Texas, there hasn’t been much opportunity to get out and do things.

Who doesn’t have the tradition of last minute shopping?  I mean, even if that isn’t a planned decision it always ends up happening.  My daughter and I had so much fun shopping Christmas eve.  You would think there would be massive lines and misery. Luckily this was not the case.  We found some amazing deals on clothes.

Scanning over social media it was really fun looking at other people’s traditions.  Holidays can be stressful.  Not every one has warm moments or memories that are happy around this time of year.  It doesn’t mean you can’t start a new tradition.  My sister-in-law has many sayings displayed throughout her house.  One in particular caught my eye, and that is, “Do something today that makes you happy”.  It doesn’t have to be anything big.  Even when you have little, there is something to be grateful for.  I’m grateful for my family and the warmth we celebrated this year.

christmastraditions

 

Christmas Traditions

Tis the season to gift (ideas)

There is nothing like the stress of Christmas shopping.  With 1 week away the pressure is officially on.  Yesterday I woke up at 5am feeling inspired.  I finally did a bunch of Christmas shopping online.  I’m still struggling to come up with unique thoughtful gifts.  I do love to give, it’s hard to come up with new ideas for people that you have probably given to for years.

I’m on a kitchen theme this year.  There are just some things you need to replace.  So a gift of cutting boards, knives, measuring cups, etc.  (Meat thermometer that you cook with in the meat).  That’s the theme I’m going with.  In my Texas adventures this year I did really like the fact that you can get Texas olive oil.  So I found the olive orchard we visited in Wimberly Texas online and ordered a bottle for my friend.  It was pricey for olive oil.  The gift does have that unique factor I was going for.

For my dad I was really going for some good cookie sheets and remembered I love Pampered Chef cooking sheets.  So this can be a good thing or bad, I always read the reviews now (and participate in giving reviews as well).  For the pricey Pampered Chef pans a good percent of the reviews said they warp.  WHAT?? NO!  So then back to Google and a search for good pans, I found some on Amazon with good ratings.  I really hope they work out, cause that is what I went with.  What would we ever do without consumer reviews and online shopping?  This seriously is the best thing since sliced bread.

We do a white elephant at Christmas with my husband’s side of the family.  There are at least 10 adults plus.  We each bring a $50 wrapped gift and place them on the table.  Then all of us draw a number and the person with the number one picks a gift first.  The gift can be stolen a maximum of 2 times.  This is a nice idea for a large family when you don’t have the funds to buy for everyone. And challenging because what the heck do you get?  Believe me I have executed Google searches on this for years!  If I go with the kitchen theme, I may make some happy, but what about the people who don’t cook?  I mean last time I got a Victoria Secrets gift card, what if my father-in-law picked that?  LOL!

Next, when the boss invites you over for a Christmas party and likes wine what do you bring?  I mean, I’m good with any table wine.  I do appreciate a really good wine, and the wine served at his party was really spectacular.  My husband thought I should ask the Specs liquor store people for a good wine.  I wasn’t really sure about that.  When my husband hosted his party we did it at a really nice wine restaurant (they serve food, wine is the main attraction).  The wine we had was really good and they selected it.  So, we found that wine at Specs and at least have an idea that it was good.

What do you get a teenage boy?  Google and Pinterest are saving me again.  They have some really great ideas for giving gift cards and the presentation of them.

Last but not least.  We had two parties that required a gift for $10-$20.  One of the parties was a gift card exchange.  I tried to find a creative way to give more than $10 and found just that on Groupon.  I purchased movie tickets at a local theater that serves food for $5 a ticket (worth $10 per ticket).  I put two tickets in a popcorn box that I got at a party store and stuffed it with theater style candy (hot tamales and M&Ms) and a bag of microwave popcorn.  This we used for my husband’s office gift exchange as well.

Gifting can be fun and stressful.  I’m up early again to try and finish shopping.  Tis the season!

gift

 

 

 

Tis the season to gift (ideas)

Christmas Lights Houston

Never would I have guessed we would have such an amazing display of Christmas lights at the Houston Zoo.  With a cloud blanket over the city, temps in the mid 50s, and no wind, this was the most pleasant winter dazzling display of lights I have seen.  My son and his friend wanted to go, so I purchased tickets on line (smart choice).  Because of the amazingness and the fact that we live in a very populated area, there was a huge crowd.  My son suggested we buy tickets online which I did. ($20/per person for prime time…weekends after dark).  I figured parking would be a zoo…pun intended.  When I tried to turn into the zoo, it was blocked and I saw the sign to park at the overflow lot with shuttle in (shuttle free, parking $6, credit accepted…yay).  This was about 1.5 miles away and the wait to get onto the shuttle at least 20-30 minutes.  So very happy to have dressed warm (jeans, sweater, comfy ankle boots and coat).  My party of boys were dressed warm too thankfully!.

Once we got there, I saw another huge line to purchase tickets which we walked past.  Then finally onto some excitement….the lights dance with Christmas music.

zoolights

There are arrows that guide you through the park.  Most of the animals were resting and not visible.  The lights are very dim so you can’t see much in their habitats.  We did see a giraffe that was up.  What an amazing animal!  I noticed the parrot habitat had heat lamps and you can see the shadowy silhouette of the birds resting by it.   My son was hungry so we stopped for a bite, I noticed they were serving adult beverages and hot beverages at stands…different.

As we walked, we were mesmerized by lights.  So many lights and it was so nice to meander around the park.  This is a really nice zoo.  We are right in the center of the medical complex and Rice University. They did have white “statue” animals that they shined lights on that moved and changed color.  They decorated around the animal’s habitats, like light up flamingos by the flamingo habitat.  They had underwater themed lights, floral themed lights and so many trees covered in solid colors of red, green, blue, purple and white.

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We saw this towering Christmas tree too…

zoolights6

zoolights5

Tis the season!  Shuttling out of the park took much less time than in.  Even though there was a large crowd, it didn’t bother me because the display was so worth it.  It took about an hour to go through the park, you could spend more or less time.  It would be fun to go on a date or with family.   It did take the entire evening considering the drive and getting in and out of (that’s just more time to be with the people you love).

Christmas Lights Houston

Christmas spirit mood

Finally we are getting some cooler weather.  And the days are definitely darker.  This is exactly the type of inspiration to get into the holiday spirit.  Little by little the decorations are coming out.  I struggle with liking the same decorations every year, but once they are up I love the atmosphere.  Especially at night or in the early morning when you look at the soft glow.  It’s cold outside and raining.  We’ve enjoyed a fire in the fireplace twice this season.  With it usually so warm in south Texas, when it gets into the 40s, it’s cold inside. I have fought not to put on the heat and so far haven’t had too.

christmasfireplace

Another big mood setter is Christmas baking, every year I bake something to give away.  This year I wanted to try making Christmas tree brownies.  I always give myself an opportunity to try in case it doesn’t work out, that way adjustments can be made before the final product is gifted.  So this recipe called for an 8×8 pan, when I made the brownies they came out way too thick.  So I cut them in half and will use half the batter next time.  I guess I could use a bigger pan, but the brownies at 1/2 the size are perfect! My nana always made brownies, blondies, toll house cookies and rum balls for Christmas ! I really loved that ! Miss her ! I aspire to be like her , active, friendly , helpful, fun ! She was a beautiful person !

christmas-tree-brownies

I made chili too.  Texas is FAMOUS for chili.  Tonight couldn’t be a better night for it.  I have adjusted my recipe over the years and this is the one my family really likes.  The most important ingredient is the meat.  The grocery stores will provide chili meat which is usually chuck 80% lean and it looks like 1/4 inch thick tubes.  Here is our recipe for 4 people:

1 lb of chili meat

1/4 green pepper (diced)

1/4 onion (diced)

1 clove garlic

1/2 can of 14 oz pinto beans

1/2 can of 14 oz kidney beans

1/2 can of 28 oz crushed tomatoes

seasoning (1 tablespoon of cumin, 1-2 tablespoons Gebhardt chili powder)

Directions: Brown beef and add to a crock pot.  Then add diced peppers and onions, garlic, drain beans and add crushed tomatoes to the pot and put it on low to warm for 1-2 hours.  It may seem wasteful to leave the rest of the can.  If we liked leftovers, we would add more meat and use all of the contents of the cans.  Otherwise, we can just use the beans and tomatoes for something else.  We top it with shredded cheese and serve it with frito corn chips (just the regular kind) I guess I would name it low key chili.   It’s not really spicy and it doesn’t give anyone indigestion.

The rest of this evening needs to be spent next to a roaring fire with a Christmas movie. Just need the football game to finish 😉

Christmas spirit mood