Friday, September 30, 2011

Halloween Ideas

I've begun decorating my front porch for Halloween. I love to decorate ya'll.  I wish I had more hours in the day to decorate every single little thing.  I mean for example right now, I have the fall leaf garlands draped over my curtains in the living and dining room.  I live to decorate, for everything.  You should see when Alesi's birthday comes around. Everything is themed!   I even have themed towels handing on the stove handle.  Yes, I'm that mom.

So when I saw this on pinterest, I fell in love.  I never ever ever thought of spray painting christmas garland. I have a metric ton of that stuff!

Let me show you the picture so you can stop wondering "what the heck is this chick blabbering about?"

Specifically I want to make this

I didn't want to spend a fortune however on the pumpkins.  So in a quick fix at target, I bought three halloween candy buckets and am going to glue them together.  I will make sure to throw something heavy in the bottom pumpkin so it doesn't tip over.  I might make some fun arrangement or something in the open top of the pumpkin.  We'll see how this project turns out!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Oh Thursday!

I've been up since 6:00 am.

So far, I've gotten half pint dressed, fed and on the bus.

I've consumed a cup of coffee.

I've taken a shower and put make up on.

My hair is wet.

I have a lunch date with a coworker at 12:30 or so.

I need to dry my hair.

I dont wannaaaaa do ittttttttttttt.

Private Practice's new season premiers tonight.

Benjamin Bratt doesn't look so hot anymore since he is super skinny.  I need him to eat some cheeseburgers and bulk up at the gym.

I have a long list of things I want to accomplish today and tomorrow and nothing has gotten done yet.

Did I mention I worked 6 days straight?

Did I mention there was a huge article on yahoo yesterday about an iPhone gathering Tuesday to discuss something.

Are you thinking there will be an iphone 5 launch?  That's what we've been thinking at work for the last two months.

If my vacation gets pushed back in Nov, I'm going to cry.

I can't believe stupidSTUPID apple will launch a new phone so close to Christmas.  Do they know what they're going to do to me?  My feet will die, my knees will be blown out and my legs will hurt like nobody's business!

I'm being selfish.  I know.


Saturday, September 10, 2011

Coworker Birthdays

My coworker Becky is celebrating her 20th birthday this weekend. Since I start my vacation on her birthday and she has vacation this weekend, I am making her birthday treat to bring to work on Friday.  I semi started a tradition to make my coworkers a baked goodie on their birthday but I haven't followed thru with all of them because of their days off conflicting with my work days and not knowing when they come in.

My girl Becky loves her some cookies!  I think she'd kill me if I didn't make her some sort of cookie for her treat.  We work together in retail in a mall at a cell phone store so her normal go to cookie spot is The Great American Cookie Co.  Her favorite cookie is a double doozie and man are they a double doozie of a taste and price! Those stinkers are almost $4 a pop!  This is what it looks like:

If you do not have a GACC, shame on your town.  Or maybe you live in a itty bitty town, in which you should totally start a petition and make all of your neighbors sign it in order for your mayor to make GACC open a location near you.

There is an alternate way to achieve this cookie above and one of my friends came up with the recipe.  Hillary over at The Sassy One blog posted this recipe and I knew the minute she posted it, my coworker would enjoy them for her birthday!  So using this recipe, I set out to make the cookies. My first batch came out uneven and jagged edges so I just used a teaspoon full of cookie dough, rolled it into a ball and flattened them with my palm to bake them. I wanted to eat them straight out of the oven they were SO GOOD! From here on out, that will be my go to chocolate chip recipe!  I definitely used the mini chips and loved the flavor and amount of chocolate that came out in them.  After they cooled and I begged my husband to pick up heavy cream on his way home from police academy because I forgot to get some, I set out to make the cake batter cream.  Heaven--it's all I can say!

Hillary--You get 42 thumbs up from our store because my coworkers loved them!  Even the chick fil a employees across from us got to indulge in a few and they loved them too!

Today is my last day of work before I start a week long very well deserved vacation.  Since my girl is in school and hubby is in police academy, I'm going to enjoy a staycation.  I will be pulling down the fall bins from the attic to fall-ize my mantle and house!  I can't wait!  Thanks to Pinterest, I've found a ton of fall inspiration and I am transforming the entire house! I also found quite a few fall projects I will be indulging in for her class and teachers!  It's going to be AWESOME!!!!

Thanks for visiting my blog.  I think this coming week's agenda will also consist of a tutorial on how to make cajun (read: not spicy like everyone thinks it is) jambalaya--Cajun Fleur Style!

Monday, September 5, 2011

First sign

I woke up this morning and the breeze was blowing. It's been hotter than I don't want to tell you what comes to mind, but it's been smoldering.  So when I went outside and I wasn't sweating, err I mean glowing, between my boobs--I knew fall was on the horizon!  I know I live in the deep south and I know it's supposed to be hot down here.  It doesn't mean I have to keep my heat fussing to a minimum!

So with the cool weather on the horizon and leftover shredded chicken in my fridge, I knew chicken sausage and okra gumbo were on the horizon!  I even took pics of almost all of the steps to show you how it looks because I know cooking cajun food can be interesting to say the least!

So we start out with some oil in a large pot.

 Chop one large onion into small pieces.  I don't like huge onions so I cut them fine. Put them in the pot on medium to high heat.  I put mine on 6-7 on a scale of 10.  I also added a chunk (read this as half) of a bell pepper.  When I get bell peppers on sale, I dice them up and freeze them. I take out what I need and presto.  I had red and yellow in the freezer, but you can use green if that's what you have.

 See how frozen it is?
 Well I put the lid on the pot for 3-4 minutes and when I remove it, it's all defrosted so I break it up!
 Then I add two stalks of celery after peeling it and get most of the strings out.  Onions, bell pepper and celery are considered the  trinity in cajun cooking ;) I also add some pressed garlic as well to my onion mixture!
 So you want to cook it down for a while, and at this point if you are cooking with gas, turn it to medium low. I also throw in some tony's I'm always talking about!

 So you want the trinity mixture to resemble about this, if not a little more cooked down.
 Then you want to add some fresh or frozen okra.  Frozen was cheaper so that's what I used.  However, I picked the tops out of it.  The top of the stalk, I threw those away.  You don't have to put okra in it but I like to sneak it in there.  If you don't use okra, skip the next few steps!

 Ok it's in the pot!  You will have to cook it down a ton to get rid of the slime.
 This is the beginning stages of cooking it down.  I like for mine to cook down to hardly anything but partial skins and seeds.  This isn't what it looks like that but I'm showing you the cooking stages I shot.

 I want mine cooked down more so I turn it to medium and cook it down some.
 I notice mine is starting to burn so I add in about an inch of water to the pot and throw in two chicken bouillon cubes.

 It's cooking down nicely and you see in the below picture it's starting to really break down.
 So I don't know how to make a roux so since I conquered frying chicken yesterday, I figured my super powers would carry over to making a roux. so here is the oil heating up.
 I added flour and started browning it down.  So far so good, right?
 Meanwhile, I throw in my sausage and shredded chicken to the other pot as well as about 6-8 cups of water and another 2 bouillon cubes.  You can eye ball it on the amount of chicken.  I used the meat from one whole chicken I cooked in the crock pot. You could definitely use a rotisserie chicken here and use that meat. I also use about 2 lbs and a half of sausage but this  makes a HUGE pot!
 Look at this goodness going on in the gumbo pot!

What's going on with my roux you ask?  Well I cooked it down until it started cooking down and getting darker.  I always have trouble when I add the roux to the gumbo pot that it coagulates and is clumpy and just not right.  So I tried to add some of the broth from the gumbo pot into the roux to see what happens.  This is what happens--it curdled and sucks and is awful!

 Thank HEAVEN for roux in a can/jar/shaker! I put in about a tablespoon in at a time and stir so it doesn't clump.
 This is what I call magic in a bag tho right here below.  I add this entire bag in my gumbo (before I add the chicken and sausage in) just a little at a time and stir well. I keep doing this until the entire bag is in. You have to do this slowly or you will have clumps!
From there, I let it cook down for a good hour and a half.  I also add file powder but that's a local thing here to use.  Serve over rice and you can't forget about the potato salad!!!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

You know I like my Chicken fried

You know I like my chicken fried, cold beer on a friday night, pair of jeans that fit just right and the radio uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuup!  Oh how I love you Zach Brown Band!

I am from the south--we fry everything.  Let me rephrase--I enjoy purchasing fried things but I don't know how to fry things.  Shocker?  For those of you who know me personally, you know I can cook anything. I can make creme brulee for crying out loud!  There are a few things I haven't managed to master in the kitchen--frying things being one of them.  I mean, it couldn't be that hard, right?  For my birthday in July, I asked my mom to buy me a fry daddy.  She bought me this one and I have to say--it's awesome! 

I looked everywhere for a plain recipe of how to bread and fry chicken wings.  I had two small packs in my freezer for a bit and took them out to thaw yesterday to ensure I would use them.  With it raining cats and dogs outside thanks for Tropical Storm Lee, I figured today would be the day that I conquer my fear of frying things.  Chicken wings I paid maybe $3 total for the two packs were the prime target.  If I ruined them, I could always make some mac and cheese and make grilled ham sammies to go with it, right? 

OK so I set out  looking for a recipe of how to bread them and it stick.  In my previous attempts of frying, the breading has fallen off.  I didn't understand why it fell off. Was the oil not hot enough? was it too hot?  Did I marinate them and shouldn't have?  Too much flour?  not enough batter?  I was at the end of my rope so I googled it.  I didn't find a whole lot of anything that gave me a clear idea of what I was doing wrong.  The directions they had online were what I had gone off of before and I failed then.  I wasn't failing today.

I share recipes with my coworkers often at work. One of my cw's is from New Jersey and I love her to pieces.  It was a rocky relationship in the beginning but I heart her and love working with her now.  She had asked me before for a baked wing recipe to do hot wings, and it came up in convo before she knew how to fry chicken.  So when I couldn't find what I was looking for, I went to the one person I knew would give me what I was looking for.  She is just learning how to cook more, but let me tell you--she knew what she was talking about.  She told me her mom taught her you dunk the seasoned chicken (just with salt, pepper, tony's, whatever else you were using) in ice cold water, flour them, dunk them back in the ice cold water and flour them all over again.  I was VERY hesitant at this technique b/c wouldn't the seasoning blend come off when I dunked it in water, and then the flour come off when I dunked it back in there?

I was nervous but I did one wing her way before I did all of them.  Holy schnikes--her momma knew her stuff!  It fried crispy and perfect--I was so excited. I immediately texted her and told her that her momma knew her stuff and to tell her I love her.  She laughed and said she would let her know and pump her head up for me.  If her momma lived down here, I'd have totally went to find her, hug her and tell her I'd mop her floors or do some chores around her house.  My frying fear had finally be conquered.  I won the battle.  Now my jeans won't like me this fall probably now but that's ok!  I was hoping they wouldn't fit this fall anyways!

No Fail Fried Chicken Wings

however many chicken wings you need for your family

4 cups of flour seasoned with season all, salt, pepper, whatever you prefer

seasoning you prefer for your chicken

3 cups ice cold water
Enough oil for the pot/fryer you are using to fry said chicken

Heat oil to 375 and ensure it's that hot.  Season chicken accordingly how you prefer it to be. 
Dunk seasoned chicken quickly in ice cold water, ensure it all gets coated.
Flour the chicken completely.
Dunk chicken back in ice cold water, drip off and put back in flour.
Flour chicken again really well.

Once oil is heated to the desired temp, then drop wings in small groups in the oil.  Your
 chicken should be completely submerged in the oil.  My chicken wings were fried 3 at a time in my fryer and it took 9 minutes to fry each batch.  It was tedious but it's only three of us and I only friend 12 wings! The time really flew by!