Thursday, February 25, 2010

Idol Alert: Goodbye bottom four!

Janell Wheeler, Ashley Rodriguez, Joe Munoz and Tyler Grady will be heading home. None of these farewells was a surprise. Who is next? Stay tuned to my live blog posts as the contestants perform next week.
My Favorite Restaurant: Houston's

It was a fantastic meal with fantastic service.

First up, we have cheese toast. This is no ordinary toast. Three kinds of cheese and spices on top of thick, rustic french bread.


Followed by the most delicious Tortilla Soup. Notice the thin tortilla crisps on top. Also, it had big chunks of chicken and slices of fresh avocado. Creamy and soothing on a winter's night.


My dining companion ordered the ribs. They used to call these Knife and Fork ribs. The rib meat literally falls off the bone. So tender and yummy. Finger lickin' good, and I am not embarrassed about that. I have ordered this before, and it is never disappointing.


I substituted BBQ baked beans for the coleslaw. They were piping hot and tasty. I nearly had to lick the bowl clean.


And finally, the Flying Chicken Platter. This is not on the menu, but if you know what to order, it is the best thing available in my opinion. The chicken tenders are what I would consider fluffy. They are so good with the dipping sauces of dijon and bbq sauce. One thing about Houston's that I love is even if they take it off the menu, they will still make it if you order it. Now that is customer service.



I passed on dessert. Yay me! Ha, like I could fit one more morsel of food into my stomach after this dinner. Oh, but it was soooo good.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

American Idol Recap: Boys' Night

Idol—Todrick Hall has a great quality to his voice. First let me say that “Since You Been Gone” is my favorite Kelly Clarkson song of all time. He definitely made it his own, but when you love the original so much, it is hard to love any version that is so different.

Idol—Aaron Kelly, way too nasally. I just don’t see him as a country artist. I could see him working at Disney, singing in one of their shows.

Idol—Jermaine Sellers—I wonder if his voice is strong enough for this competition. I can see him being overshadowed easily. I thought he was trying to do a Michael Jackson thing in the beginning, and it didn’t work. Wonder what his neck tattoo is???

Idol—Tim Urban, Keith’s little bro??? He could be a teen heartthrob—totally reminds me of the guy from High School Musical. Seems like he was having microphone issues. Not the best voice to hit the high notes. Song choice was not fitting his voice—he almost needs to bring it down a few octaves.

Idol—Joe Munoz—I don’t envision him having hits on the radio. When I close my eyes and listen to him, I see myself changing the station. He will not be the American Idol, you heard it here first.

Idol—Tyler Grady will work that Jim Morrison comparison as long as it works for him, but it is really more like Jim Morrison meets Mick Jagger, minus the rockin’ voices. Seems like he was shouting some of that song. He could get into a rut real fast.

Idol—Lee Dewyze, liked his voice better on the quieter parts of the song. I think he hit some bad notes and that shook his confidence. I wonder if he should try a Jack Johnson song?

Idol—John Park—Not a good song for your debut on American Idol. I can see it in church, or in your grandma’s parlor in front of her bunko buddies but for AI, no way. It hurts me. Oh if only Shania was a guest judge.

Idol—Michael Lynche—hey daddy! He just didn’t strike me as the type to sing a Maroon 5 song. I expected something more soulful. Maybe a lullaby to his daughter would win him more votes. Plus he has the biggest arms on the planet! I mean they are HUGE.

Idol—Alex Lambert—He has a Carol Brady hair flip going on, too bad he doesn’t have a voice as good as Florence Henderson’s. He annoys me and I hate his singing and the way he scrunches up his mouth. And here I was hoping he would be more Adam Lambert and less Tickle me Elmo.

Idol—Casey James—I thought it was wrong of the judges to try and crack him up during the performance. Not cool, Kara. But overall, he held it together long enough to get the job done. I like him. He is definitely a country-rock guy. He will be back next week. If this whole singing thing doesn’t work out, he could be a model. He also has a great stage name!

Idol—Andrew Garcia—not my favorite choice of song for him, but he is so interesting and has serious skills. I hope he stays.

1. Overall, Casey James wins the night!
2. Alex Lambert can go home tomorrow night!
3. I agree with Simon—one of the girls will be the next American Idol.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

American Idol Recap: Girls' Night

American Idol, live blogging, okay okay, I know I am starting late, but had to DVR so I could replay.

IDOL--Paige Myles is not the next American Idol...have to disagree with Simon, I do not think she has the best voice.

IDOL--Ashley Rodriguez, interesting voice, understated but needs to work on her microphone skills, very Alicia Keys.

IDOL--Janell Wheeler, wine sales rep., yummy, hook me up sister--she has the whitest teeth. I did not like song choice--no one can sing Heart like Heart--you just can't top perfection and I thought she had some uneven moments voice-wise and some off notes.

IDOL--Lilly Scott, looks a little like a Tracy Ullman character. Lilly, Lilly, Lilly--Beatles really??? Girl, that was so the wrong song. Oh oh no no!

IDOL--Katelyn Epperly, I thought I would like her, but I really didn't. She bugged me for some reason. What is that damn black "Bow FLower" in her hair??? Her performance seemed affected. The hooker lipstick was distracting.

IDOL--Haley Vaughn--just say no to nose piercing people, it will not help you win American Idol. I thought she was trying to be a country artist--surprised she didn't lead with a country song. Hated the arrangement of I Wanna Hold Your Hand--and the all white rock and roll nurse get up was wrong--including the white nurse hose.

IDOL--Lacey Brown--YOU ARE NOT STEVIE NICKS--yuck, pfft, trying to get that out of my head, wrong wrong wrong; it is a shoddy imitation of the goddess that is Stevie Nicks. Go home gypsy wanna be.

IDOL--Michelle Delamor--cute girl, great smile, nice hair. Her version of Fallen was not so original, but I liked her performance and I love that song. Overall, like her, but it didn't pop like it should have.

IDOL--Didi Benami, reminds me of Brooke White. She is the official crier of this season. Did not like the song choice, but her voice was good. It was a very brady bunch performance—did she crochet that vest herself?

IDOL--Siobhan Magnus, a glass blowing apprentice, how cool! She has that artistic vibe about her, but she needs to wax those freakin' eyebrows. Wicked Games, that is an interesting song choice, but can she pull it off? Rocky start, uneven, but I think this girl may have more in her--she is the dark horse for sure.

IDOL--Crystal Bowersox--Momma needs a bigger paycheck! Don't we all sister. I would buy her album tomorrow. She knows how to control an audience and win them over. LOVE LOVE LOVE HER--the best tonight I think!

IDOL--Katie Stevens--candidate who could use a hip hair makeover, lose the headband honey, that was so Hilary Clinton like ten years ago. With that said, love her voice. She has great control over her voice and it was a good song choice for her. I think she will be back next week.

Top three of the night, Crystal Bowersox, Katie Stevens, Siobhan Magnus and the worst of the night--Lacey Brown.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Cupcakes!
from Smallcakes Cupcakery in Avignon Shops



These delectable little pastries came from a new cupcake shoppe in town, Smallcakes. They make fresh cupcakes daily, and even by 5 p.m. on a Saturday, they had plenty to choose from. I highly recommend trying one. You can find Smallcakes in the Avignon Shops in Olathe off of 119th Street.
I bought four flavors:
Lemon with vanilla cake and butter cream with lemon frosting on top
Vanilla with pink butter cream
Chocoholic, with chocolate cake and chocolate butter cream
Peanut Butter Cup, with chocolate cake and peanut butter butter cream

I know there are only three pictures. I was overcome by a cupcake induced frenzy and ate the peanut butter cupcake before I got a picture of it. What can I say, I lost my mind. Forgive me!
Granny and Papa
This has to be my favorite pic of my Granny and Papa. I love it for a number of reasons. One, you can see the love between them; even after many years together, they are sitting close and loving on one another. Second, this was taken at Christmas time, which is one of my most cherished times at my grandparents' home. The whole family would cram into this tiny house and celebrate our family. The tree in the background was there for many, many Christmases. I remember it had the old style lights, that were really big and got really hot. It was probably a major fire hazard, but I have fond memories of that tree and all the presents crowded around it. There was always an abundance of good food and laughter. We knew how to celebrate Christmas in our family.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Popeye's Chicken



This is not the fried stuff you get at fast food restaurants. This is called Popeye's Chicken because of the fresh spinach used in the recipe.

Ingredients:
(amounts of ingredients are not listed--use as much or as little of each ingredient as you need)
Chicken, cut into small pieces
Sliced mushrooms
Fresh Spinach
Chicken Taco or Chicken Fajita seasoning packet
Monterey Jack Cheese
Olive oil
Flour tortillas
Guacamole and salsa (optional)
Refried Beans (optional)

Directions:
Toss chicken in olive oil and seasoning. Sauté chicken until no longer pink. Add mushrooms and cook with chicken. Add spinach and cook a bit longer until spinach is wilted. Sprinkle cheese over chicken, spinach, and mushrooms and put pan in oven until cheese melts. Serve on tortillas with refried beans, guacamole, and salsa.


Popeye's Chicken

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

THE PUPPIES!

Freshly groomed and looking spiffy in their scarves. Schnitzel is the queen bee, and though Boo has grown a bit bigger than her, she still rules the roost and can take him down in a second. He is a just a big ol' lovable goofball.

Are you going to give me some food, or am I just standing here in the kitchen for my health?


I am ready for my closeup, Mr. Demille.


Yes, I know I am beautiful. Did you need anything else?


This is soooo my guilty look!


Look out, I am stalking my prey. Okay, I am planning my attack on Schnitzel, whatever!


Have you heard about the dogs upside down website? I am trying to decide which of these catches my best side. What do you think?





Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Snow in all 50 States!

Apparently, on February 12, 2010, all fifty states had snow on the ground somewhere. Even Hawaii and Florida. A student from OU named Patrick Marsh was collecting pics of the snow on the ground. Yes, I still believe in Global Warming, snow or no snow! This was my house in Dec. We had less snow in Feb., but we still had snow. I am so ready for spring!

Monday, February 15, 2010

What a weird name for soup!

Crème du Barry

(Cream of Cauliflower Soup)

Recipe compliments of Chef John Bennet and The Painted Door Gallery in Oklahoma City, OK. This is such a delicious soup on a cold winter’s day.

Ingredients:

1 stick butter

1 cup diced yellow onion

2 T. minced garlic

1 cup diced raw carrots

1 large head cauliflower, finely chopped

4 T. flour

2 quarts rich chicken stock

3 bay leaves

1 teaspoon thyme

1 pint half and half

1 pint heavy whipping cream

salt

cracked black pepper

Tabasco

Worcestershire Sauce

Melt 1 stick of butter in soup pot. Add onion, garlic, carrots, and cauliflower. Cover and let in butter until vegetables begin to soften and brown. Add flour, uncover and cook, stirring well until flour begins to form a roux and turns light brown. Add chicken stock, bay leaves, thyme and stir well. Bring to a simmer, stirring well; cook until vegetables are tender but crisp. Add half and half and heavy whipping cream. Season to taste with salt, pepper, Tabasco and Worcestershire Sauce. Serve with mixed spring salad and parmesan cheese toast or top with parmesan croutons. Serves 8.

Restaurant Style Salsa from Ree Drummond


I really, really, really love this salsa. Since I have discovered the recipe on The Pioneer Woman's website, I haven't been able to stop making it. By the way, I love Ree, too. And I hope she doesn't mind me sharing this recipe. If you haven't picked up her new cookbook, The Pioneer Woman Cooks--Recipes From an Accidental Country Girl, go now to a bookstore and get it. Well, what are you waiting for? GO NOW!

For Ree's step by step photographs, go to this link:

http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2010/01/restaurant-style-salsa/

Restaurant Style Salsa

Prep Time: 10 Minutes

Cook Time:

Difficulty: Easy

Servings: 12

Ingredients

1 can (28 Ounce) Whole Tomatoes With Juice

2 cans (10 Ounce) Rotel (diced Tomatoes And Green Chilies)

¼ cups Chopped Onion

1 clove Garlic, Minced

1 whole Jalapeno, Quartered And Sliced Thin

¼ teaspoons Sugar

¼ teaspoons Salt

¼ teaspoons Ground Cumin

½ cups Cilantro (more To Taste!)

½ whole Lime Juice

Preparation Instructions

Combine whole tomatoes, Rotel, onion, jalapeno, garlic, sugar, salt, cumin, lime juice, and cilantro in a blender or food processor. Pulse until you get the salsa to the consistency you’d like—I do about 10 to 15 pulses. Test seasonings with a tortilla chip and adjust as needed.

Refrigerate salsa for at least an hour. Serve with tortilla chips or cheese nachos.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentine's Day Finale

Sweetheart Sundae

Ingredients:
1 box brownie mix
Vanilla Ice Cream
Hot Fudge
Magic Shell Ice Cream Topping

Start with chocolate hearts. To make these, take a cookie cutter and place on a piece of parchment paper. Fill the heart with Magic Shell Ice Cream Topping until you are unable to see parchment. When they are done, they will be about 1/8 to 1/4 inch thick. Freeze the hearts.

Bake brownies. Take a square of brownie and top with a scoop of ice cream. Pour hot fudge over ice cream. Take the Magic Shell heart and stick it in the ice cream.

Thanks for the tip, Hyacinth. Love ya.

The Way to My Heart

Hey Valentine, it's Pot Roast Sunday!

Ingredients:
1 or 2 Chuck Roasts
1 small bag of whole carrots
2 stalks celery
6 or more potatoes, peeled and quartered
1 onion
Flour
Salt
Pepper
2 Tablespoons Olive oil
Water
3 Tablespoons corn starch

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Heat olive oil in medium high skillet. Sprinkle the roast with salt and pepper and dust with flour. Brown off meat on both sides.

While the meat is browning, peel carrots and clean celery. Cut both in half. Quarter an onion. Place vegetables (except potatoes) in roasting pan that has been sprayed with non-stick spray. Sprinkle a tablespoon of flour on vegetables. Place roast in pan. Fill with water until it reaches the top of the roast. Bake for 3 hours and 15 minutes, then place potatoes in roasting pan and bake for 45 minutes.

Remove from oven. Lift meat out with spatula and place on serving platter. With slotted spoon, take out vegetables.

Gravy: Strain juices into a bowl. In a medium sauce pan, bring reserve juices to a boil. Add 3 tablespoons of corn starch dissolved in a cup of water. Stir constantly until thickened. Add salt and pepper to taste.

My Favorite Love Poem

Sonnet 17

I do not love you as if you were salt-rose, or topaz,
or the arrow of carnations the fire shoots off.
I love you as certain dark things are to be loved,
in secret, between the shadow and the soul.

I love you as the plant that never blooms
but carries in itself the light of hidden flowers;
thanks to your love a certain solid fragrance,
risen from the earth, lives darkly in my body.

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where.
I love you straightforwardly, without complexities or pride;
so I love you because I know no other way

than this, in which there is no I or you
so intimate that your hand upon my chest is my hand
so intimate that when you fall asleep it is my eyes that close

Pablo Neruda

Love Birds in a Nest

Happy Valentine's Day

Love Birds in a Nest:

This is a great breakfast for your honey. Butter both sides of a slice of bread. Use a heart-shaped cookie cutter and cut a heart shape out of the buttered bread. Place bread in pan. Crack an egg into the heart opening. Cook until egg is firm on one side and then flip carefully. Toast heart cutouts. Serve with Bacon. Bacon just says love! Serve with a kiss on the side.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Boo-ology

Have you met my friend Boo. Look at us play!

Sometimes he tackles me and chews on my ear or my tail, but that just means he loves me.

Here he is mugging for the camera. Look at those eyebrows. They are huge, hilariously huge.


Boo likes to watch his big sister and survey all of his favorite toys. He loves his toys so much he will get them out of his toy box, all of them, and spread them around the living room. Sometimes he even falls asleep on them.


Boo is growing up, losing his baby teeth, learning the ways of the world. I love this dog. I constantly come up with affectionate nicknames for him. These are a few of those:
Boo Boo
Boola boola
Boo Man Chu
Boo Shu Pork
Booster
Booster Brown
Boobalicious
Boo beast
Cutie P (short for cutie patootie)



Mexican Chicken & Barley Chili



This recipe is on the box of Quaker Barley

1 cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon veg. oil
2 cups water
3/4 cup Quick Quaker Barley
One 16-ounce can tomatoes, undrained, chopped
One 16-ounce can tomato sauce
One 14 1/2 ounce can chicken broth
One 4-ounce can chopped greed chilies, drained
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
3 cups, cooked chicken

1 can Great Northern White beans


Cook onion and garlic.
Add remaining ingredients except chicken.
Bring to a boil, lower heat, simmer 10 minutes.
Add chicken and beans, simmer 10 more minutes or until chicken is warm and barley is tender.