Thursday, March 18, 2010

Want a Cool Blog Layout? I've Got Connections...

Have I mentioned how much I love the ladies over at Smitten Blog Designs? Well, I do. And not just because they designed this fabulous blog for me. Not only are Kate and Heather uber-friendly, they are also incredibly talented. And when I was working on establishing a blog for my work, they designed the cutest header for our agency, and made me look GREAT to my Director and Board. Thanks, ladies!
So, check 'em out.... and tell them Mel sent ya.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Getcha-Getcha Grill On


We have had some ah-mazing weather here the past several days, and my hubby-the-artist decided to dust off the grill and cook up some steaks. He was "inspired" by a steak grilling competition that was on Food Network last week. So, we went to our local butcher shop and picked up some Porterhouse steaks and ground meat.
Instead of our usual loaded baked potato we normally pair with steaks, I decided to try and make my Mom's potato salad. You see, my Mom makes the best potato salad on the planet. I'm serious. It is the potato salad to which I compare all others. The pinnacle of potato salads. A potato salad so absolute, that I have never even attempted to recreate it. Until Saturday. I looked all over the internet for a recipe, and I could not find one that even came close to my Mom's. So, I winged it. I cooked my potatoes, boiled my eggs, crossed my fingers and hoped for the best. And you know what? I did it. I actually made my Mom's potato salad. It was incredible. It was fabulous. And I did not get even ONE photo of it! Oh well.
Sunday we had hamburgers off the grill. Oh y'all, my husband's hamburgers are tha shiz! Better than any take-out or fast food. I LOVE his burgers!
They were so good, we decided to have them again tonight. But with a twist. We added crispy bacon and a fried egg. OMG!!! I also made sweet potato fries. Words cannot describe this meal. The awesomeness of this burger defies the limits of the English language. Yeah y'all, it was really, really good.

mmmmmmmmmm.... egg and bacon on a burger!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Cheap + Easy + Pasta = Yummy Dinner

mmmmmm.... pasta!

Oh y'all..... I made the best tasty-cheap meal tonight. Aside from being really inexpensive, it's also super easy. I get these regular emails from Everyday Food from my favorite lady, Martha Stewart. I usually skim over the recipe, check out the photo, and if it doesn't 'wow' me I just delete it. But I got this recipe in my inbox yesterday and I looked at the photo and thought it would be something Mr. Ben would like, and since it was pasta I knew my hubby-the-artist would like it, too. So, I figured what the hell... let's try it.
I did make two little changes to the actual recipe. The shallots at the grocery store were $1.99 and well, I'm not paying that much money for a snobby onion. So, I just picked up a small yellow onion instead. Also, I used boxed angel hair pasta, not fresh. Other than that, I followed the recipe exactly. It turned out SO GOOD Y'ALL!!! I picked up a loaf of French bread from the store, which was only $1, and I can get two meals out of it. So we only ate 50 cents worth of bread with the meal. Awesome, right?
Oh, and for those of you that know me, you know I hate peas. But my son and hubby-the-artist love peas, so I added them. And I actually did eat a few. But to be honest, there were several peas left in the bottom of my bowl. Whatever...
Check out the photo of my pasta (above) compared to the photo from Martha.... not bad, huh?
Here is the recipe:

Ingredients

Serves 4 to 6

  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 4 slices bacon, sliced crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 shallots, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 box (10 ounces) frozen peas, thawed
  • 1 cup half-and-half
  • 18 ounces fresh angel-hair pasta

Directions

  1. Set a large pot of salted water to boil. In a large skillet, cook bacon over medium until crisp, 5 to 7 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate to drain (leave fat in skillet).
  2. Add shallots to skillet; season with salt and pepper. Cook over medium, stirring occasionally, until they begin to soften, 1 to 2 minutes. Add peas and half-and-half; season with salt and pepper. Simmer until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes.
  3. Cook pasta in boiling water until al dente, according to package instructions. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta water; drain pasta, and return to pot. Pour sauce over pasta; toss to combine, adding some reserved pasta water a little at a time to coat. Sprinkle with bacon, and serve immediately.
Photo and Recipe From EveryDay Food, March 2008
Check out this recipe online at MarthaStewart.com.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Life's a Beach

Big Shrimp outside Gaido's Restaurant


This past Saturday, my hubby-the-artist had a showing at PeckArts Gallery in Galveston. We decided to make it a family affair and stay Saturday night at a hotel on the seawall. Ben had not experienced a beach yet, and since he loves sand and water, I was pretty sure he would enjoy it. And boy, did he ever! We actually had to drag him from the beach kicking and screaming. After the beach, we had a fantastic seafood lunch at Gaido's. It was great. We plan to go back and spend more time in Galveston.
Here's the thing with Galveston... back on September 13th, 2008, Hurricane Ike hit the island with a vengeance and pretty much devastated the area. Ike was the third costliest hurricane to ever make landfall in the United States. Historic landmarks like the Balinese Room, a night club where famous crooners such as Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Jr. once played, was swept out to sea along with other popular spots such as Murdoch's and the 61st Street Pier. When you drive around the island, you can still see quite a bit of damage from the storm. There are homes and businesses that look like they have been literally bombed, and the creepy, skeletal remains of the famous Flagship Hotel (which sits on a pier over the water) are haunting. But Galveston is making a comeback. And I have to say that the people are super friendly and the atmosphere has a quirky, laid back feel that reminds you a bit of New Orleans and Austin combined. Did you know that Galveston had the first post office, the first naval base, the first cotton compress, the first insurance company, the first gas lights, the first opera house, the first orphanage, the first telephone and the first electric lights in the state of Texas? Seriously. (I lifted that info from Wikipedia... just wanna give props where they're due.) So, if you get the chance you really should check out Galveston. Oh, and stop by the gallery and take a peek at my hubby's paintings.


video

Here's a video I made from our day on the beach. I apologize for the poor quality, I tried to upload the original version to Blogger, but it was three times the size limit, so I had to adjust the quality. I also apologize for what some might consider cheese ball video music. I just thought it needed some tunes, and well, I was feeling nostalgic. Deal with it. *wink*

Saturday, March 6, 2010

It Helped ME Make a Great Meal!


My family and I are addicted to fast food and take out. Seriously addicted. Up until two weeks ago, it was not uncommon for us to eat fast food every day for lunch and grab take out for dinner every night. It was absurd. Stupid. Asinine. It was destroying our health and not to mention our bank account. But it was just so easy, and I didn't have to clean up or do dishes, and the food was good and.... I had a million excuses/reasons as to why I thought it was okay to feed my family expensive junk every day. But two weeks ago, that all changed.
My problem is that I watch a ton of Food Network and read way too many cooking magazines. Somehow, along the way, I got the idea in my head that mealtime at home meant I had to bust my ass in the kitchen for a couple of hours and create fabulous feats of homemade cuisine that wowed my family and friends. Truth is, I don't have that kind of energy most days. I also noticed that I was spending about as much at the grocery store buying all the ingredients I needed for one meal as I was on take-out, which was defeating the purpose of cooking at home. That's when I finally realized.... not every meal has to be photo and blog-worthy. Not every meal has to be something I spend hours preparing. The point is to cook at home and eat at the table as a family and be more responsible with money. That's when I met my friend, Mr. Hamburger Helper. One pound of meat and couple cups of hot water and you've got yourself a meal, people! It's SO EASY and guess what? It's actually really good. It's not haute cuisine, but it's dinner. And it's cheap. And I'm okay with that. We have almost instantly noticed a difference in our bank account, too. So, dinner at home.... it's one of those baby steps I was talking about in my previous post. But it's working....
Oh, and hey, you see that package of Bisquick Complete Cheese-Garlic Biscuits in the photo at the top? That package of mix was 24 cents! 24 CENTS PEOPLE!!! And all you do is add some water! OY!!


I'll post other recipes I find that are quick and cheap, too. I've also got some great money saving tips for house cleaning coming your way. It's all about sharing the money-saving love, y'all....