Saturday, January 31, 2009
Friday night was a first for Jim and I.... tasting wines paired with foods. We recently joined Water 2 Wine which is a company that purchases grapes from wineries all over the world, then makes their own wine using those grapes. I'm still not 100% sure how they do it, but what I do know is that the wines are tasty. They offer 5 free tastings every time you go into their location, and you can choose from any wines that they carry (which is around 30 or so bottles I think). We ended up joining their wine club which entitles their members to receive 2 free bottles of wine a month (they choose), a free glass of wine each month, and discounts off of bottles of wine. You can cancel at any time, so we thought we would try it out.
Friday night was a special event where the wine club members were able to taste 7 new wines. What made it totally cool, in my opinion, is that each wine was paired with a food that would enhance the wine's taste. For example we had a Reisling that was paired with plums and cheese. The wine was good on it's own, but once it was paired with the plums it was something totally different. We had roasted pork with raspberry chipotle sauce, brisket with BBQ sauce, sushi, plums, cheese, and a couple types of chocolate. There was a red wine that was fantastic with the chocolate but only "okay" without the chocolate.
Along with the wine and the food pairings we also had to rate the wines. Ummm.. yeah.... I usually rate by "good" and "very good". I did my best to rate the wines. I am really glad that we decided to attend this event, and I'm looking forward to the next event!
Our wine rating sheet, that also explained the different types of flavors we should taste in the wine and what foods would pair up with the wine.
Friday, January 30, 2009
Sarah and I tried a new sandwich shop for lunch today. Sarah is doing a low carb diet, so we went with a place that looked like it had good salad choices. According to Yelp, Little Deli received plenty of great praise. Little Deli is so close to my house, I'm a little disappointed that I haven't been there before. There is a tiny little strip center in the middle of a neighborhood, so it's not like I would have driven by this unless I was looking for it.
One of the first things you notice about Little Deli, is that it is quite small! There wasn't much seating inside, but there were plenty of picnic tables to sit on outside. Luckily for us, it was sunny and beautiful. On to our food..... I went with my typical sandwich, Turkey. I also added a side of tomato basil soup and it was delicious. It was light in color which meant there was a decent amount of cream in it, but it was worth it! My sandwich was tasty, typical turkey but the meat was sliced thin and piled on. Sarah ordered the chicken salad salad, and it looked really good. She ordered the vinaigrette with it, and she said it has a nice tang to it. Next time I think I will order that salad!! If you are in the area, I suggest you check it out!!
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
I have been craving chicken wings for the past few weeks. Normally I would order them when we go out to eat, but we have been trying to eat at home more often and the last few times I ordered them they kind of sucked. So, I looked at a couple of recipes on line and they basically gave the same directions on how to cook chicken wings. I went the unhealthy way (and the proper way to cook them) and fried up those little guys. I have made them in the oven before and they just don't taste the same. This recipe surprised Jim and I because they came out damn good and tasty!
Veggie Oil- about 2 cups worth, it will be more or less depending on how big your frying pan is. I poured enough in the pan to be about 2 inches high.
Chicken wings and drumettes- HEB sells these separately, so I bought one package of each. The wings take a little work because you have to chop off the tip and end parts. This was my first time dismembering a chicken part and it kind of grossed me out. They might have frozen wings that you don't have to do any type of work to
1 stick of butter
3/4 bottle of Franks Hot Sauce
couple squirts of Tabasco
Heat up your oil to around 165 degrees. I have no idea if I reached that temp or not since I couldn't find my thermometer. I put it on medium high heat for 10 minutes, then right before I put the chicken in, I lowered it to medium heat. I placed my chicken in the hot oil. Once all pieces were in the pan, I went back around and moved them slightly to make sure they weren't sticking to the bottom of the pan. All of my chicken parts were not completely under the oil, and that is okay. Cook for 12 minutes, then flip the pieces over and cook for another 12 minutes. This should give you nice brown and crispy chicken parts.
While your chicken is cooking, take your stick of goodness (aka butter) and melt it in a pan. Once it is melted, add the Franks hot sauce. Swirl it around and lightly simmer it. Taste it and see if it is hot enough for you. If it isn't, then add a few squirts of Tabasco.
Take the chicken out of the oil and place on a plate with a paper towel to soak up the extra oil.
Add your chicken pieces into the Franks hot sauce... I did half of the batch at a time. I let them soak in there for a few minutes to make sure the hot goodness stuck to the chicken.
Take out of the sauce, plate it up and enjoy!!! I may never order wings in a restaurant again!!
I came across an article that gave 50 ideas on how to save money by making small changes. I am going to copy and paste the ideas that I think we will be able to do!
3. Close closet doors to lower the square footage you're heating (and cooling). Shuttering closets along exterior walls also helps to insulate the house.
Cost: Zilch—although it may take a few minutes for your clothes to reach room temperature before you put them on.
Savings: About $50 per year off your energy bills.Bonus: You and your guests won't see closet clutter.
Holy shit... that makes total sense, but I never thought about it!!
5 . Sign up for your utility's time-of-use plan. Many regional power suppliers offer rebates for reducing electricity consumption during periods of peak demand.
Cost: Washing clothes and dishes at night during nonpeak hours, and turning the thermostat up or down a couple of degrees during a cold snap (or heat wave).
Savings: $25 to $50 per month on your energy bills, depending on the season.
Bonus: You're easing the strain on the power grid—and lowering the odds of a blackout.
** I remember having this in Phoenix, but I checked on Austin Energy's website and I couldn't find a plan like this. I plan on calling and talking to them about it.. I'll keep you posted**
6. Make your own cleaning solutions using inexpensive kitchen staples, such as white vinegar and baking soda. See The Green Guide for recipes.
Cost: A few bucks in extra pantry supplies.Savings: $50 or more per year on commercial cleaners.
Bonus: Cleaners that don't contain harsh chemicals are healthier for your household.
I'm all for this... as long as I don't blow myself up from mixing the wrong chemicals together :o)
11. Use your microwave instead of your range; it consumes half the power.
Cost: $15 for the Microwave Gourmet cookbook at Amazon.com.
Savings: $40 or more per year on electricity or gas.Bonus: Having dinner ready in a fraction of the time.
I'm hesitant to use this a lot, but I can see using the microwave to heat up left overs or water for tea instead of the stove top.
13. Insulate hot-water lines. Preformed foam tubes fit right around the pipes, thanks to a slit along their length.
Cost: 29 cents to 35 cents per foot of insulation, depending on pipe dimensions, at Energy Federation.
Savings: $50 per year on energy.Bonus: Halving the wait for hot water to reach upstairs faucets.
17. Set your computer to sleep—not just the monitor, but the hard drive, too—so that it automatically dims after 10 minutes of nonuse.
Cost: It may doze off when you don't want it to and you'll have to punch a key to wake it up.
Savings: $75 per year off your electric bills.Bonus: Like people, screens and hard drives age more gracefully with plenty of rest.
18. Wait to replace your grill, lawn mower, or patio furniture until the fall, when stores mark down their inventory to make room for holiday decorations and snowblowers.
Cost: Making do with what you have this summer.
Savings: $150 or more per item.Bonus: Retailers—especially online ones, such as Target—often provide free shipping on leftover warm-weather gear.
29. Plug in a SmartStrip. Three-quarters of the energy that electronics burn is consumed when the equipment is turned off. Rather than unplug items after every use, hook them up to a SmartStrip surge protector, which automatically kills power to electronics when you turn them off and returns it when you switch them back on.
Cost: $31 for a seven-outlet strip at SmartHomeUSA.com.
Savings: As much as $240 per year in energy costs.Bonus: Two always-hot outlets ensure that slow-to-reboot devices like your digital cable box can be left on all the time.
42. Get free mulch and compost at your town's yard-waste recycling center.Cost: $30 for pickup truck rental.
Savings: $300 for all the amendments you'll need to fortify and cover your raised beds and foundation plantings, per ¼ acre.
Bonus: Unlike bagged products from the home center, compost comes from leaves collected by your neighbors and the mulch from town tree pruning, so there's little risk of introducing non-native pests or weeds.
For those of you in Round Rock, I know there is a place off of 620 that will let you drop off any tree branches/clippings that you need to get rid of (for FREE) and they will let you scoop up as much mulch that you want. All you have to do is bring your water bill. For those of you in Austin, find somebody in Round Rock and borrow their water bill.
Original Article: http://www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/article/0,,20250928,00.html
I had a craving for pasta with shrimp last night. We already had almost everything on hand (I love the frozen shrimp... easy to thaw and use within 20 minutes) so I just started cooking and adding things as I cooked.
1/2 pound of shrimp- this was for Jim and I... but you can use more or less!
1 head of broccoli, cut up in to bite size pieces
1 red bell pepper, cut into slices
1/2 onion, cut into slices
4 garlic cloves, smashed and chopped up
1 cup white wine
4-5 tablespoons of butter
splash of olive oil
3/4 pound of linguine - or whatever pasta you want to use!
- Heat water for the pasta... when boiling season with salt and drop in the pasta.
- Add the chopped broccoli, red bell pepper and onion to a pan with a little olive oil... cook until desired tenderness.
- Take out of the pan and place in a bowl.
- Heat up another splash of olive oil then add in the garlic and the shrimp.
- Cut the lemon in half and squeeze over the shrimp. You do not want to cook the shrimp for very long... about a minute on each side. They will finish cooking all the way through once you put the veggies and pasta together with the shrimp.
- Take the shrimp out of the frying pan and place with the veggies.
- Add the wine to the pan, and let boil for about 5 minutes.
- Add the butter and cook for a few more minutes.
- At this point your pasta should be done... drip into the pasta water and keep about a cup of the cooking water (this will help you add moisture to your dish if it needs it).
- Drain your pasta.
- Return your veggies, shrimp and pasta into the frying pan with the garlic, wine butter mixture to cook for 2 or 3 more minutes to spread the flavor.
- Squeeze in the other half of the lemon.
- If you do not have enough liquid for your pasta, add a little bit of the pasta water and stir. The starchy water helps thicken up the sauce.
Add a little Parmesan to the pasta, add a side salad or some crusty bread and now you have dinner!!! This made enough for 3 meals. I brought the leftovers today and it heated up nicely!
Sunday, January 25, 2009
Saturday, January 24, 2009
Kuddo's to the young couple for wanting smooth and sexy feet,,, but damn, I don't want to buy you the Ped Egg for your wedding/shower gift. Ick. it's a whopping $10 bucks... go buy it yourself and leave your guests out of your personal hygiene. :o). I asked a couple of people last night at a work happy hour, and they all thought it was slightly "off" to ask for a PedEgg for a wedding/shower gift.
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
I have been wanting to do something with a blank wall in our den but didn't exactly know what. I decided to try painting some type of branch or flower on the wall. The flower scared me a bit, so I decided to go with a branch and some little flowers. I searched on the Internet for some type of inspiration, and I found a few pictures that I liked. I'm not 100% sure that I am satisfied with my final product but I'll give it a few days and see if it grows on me.
Branches... are the branches to thick?
I had to go back out to the hobby store and pick up some orange paint. I also picked up some deep red and white. I have no idea how to draw a flower with depth, but I just kind of smeared on the flowers and hoped for the best :o)
Sunday, January 18, 2009
Happy Little Clown
Dad and I..... I think this was one of the only time where he had more hair than I did :o)
Mum and I had matching hair cuts :o) Look at Lee's big ol' head
Mom was rocking those large 70's sunglasses and I was lucky enough to be wearing patchwork pants.
From right to left... Keith (my cousin), my grandfather, and Lee (brother)
Me and Dash. Dash was the little pillow that I am holding. My grandmother made it for me, and it was a pillow with a dog face and ears. Although at this point, I think the ears fell off. It was one of my favorite things. I still have it in a storage container in my garage.
Jim and I decided to do the Muddy Buddy race this year. This means that I need to hurry up and loose the chunk and get in shape. This race is kind of brutal and I want to be ready. The race is held out in the boonies because it is usually 6 to 7 miles long and is a team event. You and your partner will race but not together. You trade off between riding a bike and jogging/doing an obstacle and once you are done with your section.
Here is how Muddy Buddy explains the race....
How does it work?
Both partners start at the same time, one running and one biking. The course is approximately 6 miles long and is separated into 5 legs by obstacles along the way. The first obstacle is near the one mile mark. Assuming that the biker is traveling faster than the runner, the biker will first approach the obstacle transition area. The biker will drop the bike and conquer the obstacle and start running to the 2nd transition/obstacle. The runner will then approach the first transition area, conquer the obstacle, find the bike and start riding to the 2nd transition/obstacle area. The team will continue to leap frog throughout the course switching between biking and running. Because the course has five legs, the person who is the stronger biker should begin the race biking, and the stronger runners, should start out running so they are doing three legs of their stronger discipline, and two of the other.
There will be five obstacles on each Muddy Buddy course. Mystery events could be challenges such as a cargo net crawl, a wall, monkey bars, or a hay bale obstacle. At every race teams will have to conquer the famous Mud Pit before crossing the finish line together.
We will be doing this race along with a few friends, which will be a lot of fun! Before we can register for this event, we need a team name. We have come up with a few, but I thought I would ask your opinion. We want to be able to use our last name somehow.....
Friday, January 16, 2009
Last night was spent ripping out our celiling in our laundry room. We have already ripped down the walls (as you can see in the first picture) and now it is time for the celiling. Our ceiling has a couple of cracks in it (yay for older homes) so this was the perfect opportunity to re-do it. We are lucky enough to have Jim's dad helping us today putting dry wall on the celiling and the walls.... hence why we ripped it out last night. I didn't want to do it to early because I feared what we would see once we ripped the celing out (nothing really except for a lot of insulation and some dead bugs).
Jim working while I'm taking pictures... imagine that
This was at the end... you couldn't see the floor and the debris was about 2 feet high. It took forever to clean it up.
All done! I know it isn't easy to figure out what this last picture is, but it is our ceiling and that metal box in the middle is where our light fixture will go. We left some of the insulation up there, but we will replace the layer that will be laying against the new drywall. I'll take pictures once the room is back to normal!!! WoooHooo!!!! Our 10 year project (I kid, I kid... it is more like a 2 year project) is moving again!! Hopefully we'll be done by summer (or before)!