Winter Wear, Parties, Shopping, Baking and SNOW?

Tis the season!  Houston had an unexpected snow this week.  It was thrilling.  After a week of not being able to go outdoors we were treated to a fluffy layer of snow!  For people who don’t see it, this was quite a treat!  The wintry look was just right to set the scene for the season.  We got up early to go see and instantly began flinging it and of course creating snowmen.  Ours was not as impressive as some who had people-sized snowmen.  We created a snowman on the back of my son’s car and off to school he went.


And so the parties begin.  What to wear?  What to bring for gift exchanges and dishes?  Last week my daughter and I found some nice dresses that are sparkly and a red sweater and red blouse.  Sometimes it’s a struggle to figure out what to wear.  Someone once told me that it’s better to over dress than under dress.  I totally disagree with this!  I am so uncomfortable to over dress.  I’m a little skeptical about a sparkly dress I bought for one party, but the hostess last year was really dressed up!  One thing I have discovered is that you can dress down something dressy with a long sweater, it can be a light cover up or something heavier.

For the tennis party I went with a red sweater, black leggings and tall chestnut boots.  People brought an assortment of salads (asian salad, bright green and red veggie salad) and cheeses.  I brought stuffed sweet peppers with goat cheese, chopped bacon and green onions.  This dish does not travel well, but if you serve them right out of the oven, they are great!  At the outdoor mall, they have 50% off sales so I was able to find a designer accessory for the $30 gift exchange.  We played a gift exchange game, and the first gift was “stolen”, it was a cute vest jacket drape and scarf, and I took home a wine purse and a nice bottle of wine.

My husband wanted to go shopping for his Christmas gift.  So we made a day of it.  The outdoor mall is so much nicer than indoor malls.  I love the vibe. You can spend hours in a mall and get that trapped sick feeling.  Maybe it’s stale air, overwhelming perfume, florescent lights, who knows, but the outdoor mall isn’t like that at all!  He found two coats that he liked and some jeans.  We spontaneously went out for a really nice dinner.  The lights were turned low, Christmas trees glowing, they even varied the music between Christmas music and other soft music, which is so nice!  It was so enjoyable to discuss upcoming plans, birthdays, trips, concerts…My husband is really good to me.  There is nothing like topping off the evening in really comfy PJs and a great movie like The Reverent.


One group of friends always does a cookie/treat exchange.  Normally I like to bake and try different recipes.  This year, I am still trying something different, truffles!  I’ve never made truffles before and they look so good!  I found a box that I can layer and have 12 truffles for each friend, 4 of each variety which are peppermint oreo, sugar cookie and chocolate/peanut butter.  Recipes were found on… where else?  Pinterest!


Winter Wear, Parties, Shopping, Baking and SNOW?

Healthy snack

I have been searching for satisfying food that doesn’t cost too much and is healthy and low calorie.  A few years ago I went on a weight loss plan “Medifast” and it worked great.  My issue is that in maintenance I didn’t want to continue buying their “food”. Medifast did a really good job offering tasty “meals” that were around 100 calories and satisfying.  My only issue is that I have to buy them, either go there or have them shipped and it was getting expensive.  At least $3 per “meal” and I would have 3 or 4 a day on maintenance.  Specifically I was looking for a shake.  I have tried several recipes on the internet and found that the combination of flavors I was looking for is chocolate and peanut butter.  I love chocolate and thought the peanut butter would add some protein.  After trial and error I found something that I really like!  It doesn’t have too much sugar and the consistency blended well and the taste is satisfying!

I’m guessing it’s probably 125 calories if you add up the individual ingredients, which are:

1/2 banana

3/4 cup of vanilla almond milk

1 tablespoon of Powdered Peanut Butter

1 tablespoon of Natural Unsweetened Cocoa

1/4 cup of crushed ice.

The medifast meals had 11 grams of protein in them.  And 7 grams of sugar.  The peanut powder provides 5 grams.  So maybe I will work on increasing the protein.  Protein should keep you from getting hungry longer.  Powdered peanut butter has the taste of peanut butter and less calories and fat.  My daughter found this little gem!   This shake has about the same fat as Medifast, 2.5 grams.

And the cost, $.68!  Yippee!!!!!!



Healthy snack

Mardi Gras Texas Style

It’s that time of year!  I know there are many carnival style celebrations in different places. Mardi Gras of course is famous in New Orleans, the Texas version is in Galveston.  I have been exploring some of the food and activities around this celebration.  My daughter went to Galveston with friends to experience the party, parades, dancing, and lots of people!  I decided to stay home and watch the Rockets.  So when I woke up I thought about beignets. Beignets are New Orleans French donuts.  When I went to New Orleans, I remember having them served in a paper bag. There was so much powder sugar on them that it gets all over you.  They are really light and fluffy.  We went to a restaurant near us here that had them and they are different than the New Orleans style.  Not as messy.  It satisfied the craving, however they weren’t the same. These were served with a caramel sauce and had more of a crust than I remember, the inside was light and fluffy.  But of course I wouldn’t have been able to see a crust on the ones from New Orleans because of all of the powder sugar!


Fat Tuesday is coming up, and since I don’t have time to get creative on Tuesday with dinner, I decided to try tonight.  My son has never had étouffée.  This is a dish that has crawfish or shrimp with sauce served with rice.  It’s roux based which is made by whisking butter and flour together until it turns brown (how did anyone think to mix butter and flour together until it turns that color I will never know).  It has onions, celery and green pepper in it with a bunch of spices.  It turned out pretty good.  You serve it with hot sauce if you like.


Here is a note about hot sauce.  It is interesting that people from different places have their hot sauce preference.  My daughter prefers Cholula.  I would think most people from New Orleans would prefer Tabasco.  Cholula is imported from Mexico and Tabasco, the brand McIlhenny Co.  is from Louisiana.  I did a little searching and found that the ingredients are the same except for the pepper. Cholula uses pequin and arbol peppers. Tabasco, which apparently has a history of origin in Mexico is named after the state in Mexico.  The peppers all look different. When you visit another state, they probably have their local preference of hot sauce on the table.  (So my daughter carries her own).  That is some serious preference!



Mardi Gras Texas Style

Wildtree – Get your grill on results…

What I liked about the Wildtree Get Your Grill On Work shop the most was the fact that I had 2 full chicken“work” weeks of meals planned for the family.  They were easy to prep.  It took me a little getting used to pulling the meal out of the freezer, but I caught on quick.  The family enjoyed rating the meals.  I’m like really?  It seemed a little too easy for them to sit back and rate them when I did all of the work.  I’m glad they enjoyed it!  I didn’t get pictures of everything, but I will share some feedback.

Meal 1: Asian chicken skewers.  They rated it a 7, however of all the meals my family said it was on the bland side.  The reason is probably because they wouldn’t eat the peppers with it!  I served rice with it.

Meal 2: Steaks with the blue cheese “crown”.  The steaks themselves got an 8.  However I think they scraped the crown off.  I’m not sure why that didn’t work out.  My crowns looked weird (maybe it was me?).  I didn’t get a picture of that one.

Meal 3: was the Herb grilled shrimp skewers with angel hair pasta.  This was so simple to make and it got a 7. shrimp

Meal 4: Rodeo blue cheese burgers.  Now, my husband says no burger gets higher than a 7 and this was a 6.7, so isn’t that almost a 10?  I would think it is.  Didn’t get the pic.

Meal 5: Agave BBQ ribs.  I have to say. This was the best.   The ribs fell off the bone.  I cooked them in the crock pot all day and then transferred them to the grill and basted them with the sauce to give it that sticky texture.  It was so important to get exactly the ribsmeat specified, country ribs.  I had a little bone on mine.   We served it with beans and potato salad.  Yumm.
Meal 6: Rodeo chicken.  This was my favorite chicken.  The first night we served it with potatoes lyonnaise.  Then out of the left overs, I made a chicken bacon wrap that was very good.  Wish I took the pic.

Meal 7: Asian beef tips.  Now this was down right yummy.  I used stew meat, so I basted the meat with the sauce on the grill and then added the extra sauce (from the jar) as dipping sauce.  Stew meat is a little on the chewy side.  Superb! beef tips

Meal 8: Herb grilled chicken with fire roasted veggies.  So I skewered this.  I don’t know what it is with me but I like skewering the meat. I added cherry tomatoes because they make it pretty 😉  I served it with pasta.  The meat had really good flavor.  With the final two meals I need to make modifications.


Meal 9: Turkey sliders..change up.  Ground turkey needs A LOT of seasoning to taste good.  I made empanadas instead of the sliders and added Sofrito sauce and potatoes.  It’s work but I think it’s worth it.turkey

Meal 10, grilled fish. My family doesn’t like grilled fish.  With that in mind, I’ve learned where to draw the line on forcing the issue.  I am going to use the fish (catfish) that I seasoned and make some of the fish blackened and the rest fried.

I like the idea of improvising.  Meats are versatile.  I accomplished getting my grill on, having meals prepped and tried a few new things.

Wildtree – Get your grill on results…