Monday, January 31, 2011

Finally a Girl & Pink Stuff!!

Today is Briana's birthday. The little girl who four years ago, broke the 43-year-all-boy-since-me tradition. You see, I was the last girl and youngest in my family. Riley has two sons and Tony has three sons. An entire generation of boys...what's a girl to do?? Turn one of the boys into a shopper, that's what!! I did a really great job of "forcing" my shopping habits on Nephew #2 and am quite pleased with myself in that arena, but I was missing the shopping-for-frilly-things experience. Hey, I could only go so far with the boy, so...I waited and waited and waited. When I heard that a GIRL was on the way...I got jealous!! Yep, I did, for a brief while. I wasn't sure I REALLY wanted to pass along my last-girl-in-the-family tiara, but the baby girl was cute, and after a few "discussions" with her, we agreed to move forward with the understanding that all the prissy, girly, frilly things that I had been waiting to do would be bestowed upon her. Boy am I sticking to that promise. Our lives have been forever brightened by Briana's arrival. Watching her become an independent, talkative, bright, loving, protective, beautiful little girl has been nothing short of spectacular.

I'm delivering these to her after school:

Happy Birthday to Auntie's Princess Briana!! I think we make a pretty awesome team!!

Sheila Denise

Recipe courtesy of Tip Junkie. (I used Strawberry Lemonade)

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Oh Happy Day!!

Wanna know why? Today is a GREAT day because 60 years ago, my parents welcomed their first child into the world. Yep, my Big Sister, Ray Nita was born!! Yay!!

Riley (her last name) has to be the BESTEST sister in the world. I truly can't imagine trying to share my heart with a second or third sister. I really don't think it would be possible. As close as we are, it's hard for many people to believe that, for many years, we existed in essentially two different worlds. You see, Riley is 13 years older than Ms. TSE, so for many years, we had very little common. I was into toys at the time she was into boys. By the time I became interested in particular subject, she was WELL over it. Here's another way to put it into perspective--Riley graduated high school the summer before I started kindergarten. Can you say oddballs?? So do you get it now?? Good!!

I remained the "little sister" for what seemed like forever. Riley went to college, got married and had two sons, while I still remained the "kid" in the family. I actually felt like her sons were brothers, because she treated me the same way she treated them. I often wondered if I would EVER grow up and shake the "little sister" position. Well, one day, out of the blue, the kid treatment, age gap, and differing interests just disappeared. POOF!! We had essentially morphed into twins!! I've never questioned the hows/whys regarding this transformation--we simply met somewhere in the middle and eliminated the gap. We suddenly had EVERYTHING in common, except for one Can you believe the girl doesn't like to shop?? Now that I think about it, I probably shop enough for both us (and a small army), so it's okay. I really should get back to the birthday girl. I'll be brief, and I'll try not to cry (very much).

Riley, Happy Birthday and many, many more!! I pray that this is your BEST year yet and that your life continues to be one big progression of greatness!! Health and happiness to you always. Everyone should experience the honor and joy of having a sister just like you. Here's to bridging the gap, Big Sis!!

I love you,

Little Sis

Happy Wednesday y'all!!

Sheila Denise

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

TSE's Crab Cakes

Last week, during our temporary snow shutdown here in Atlanta, i made crab cakes paired with an Arugula, Pear & Parmesan salad and posted a photo on Facebook. I received several requests for both recipes, so I thought I'd post it here. The crab cakes are my favorite method (for now) and the salad was on the original menu of NEO at The Mansion on Peachtree in Atlanta, GA. I really miss that original menu. *sigh*

TSE's Crab Cakes

1 large egg
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 1/2 teaspoons Grey Poupon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons Old Bay Seasoning
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped (I didn't have any this time)
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 container Phillips lump crab meat (from Costco)
1/2 cup breadcrumbs/crushed crackers/Panko (I used Lance Captain's Wafers)
Canola oil

Line a cookie sheet with parchment or lightly spray with Pam.

Combine first seven ingredients, then gently incorporate the crab (you want to keep the lumps). Slowly add breadcrumbs--just enough to hold the mixture together.

Form mixture into desired crab cake size (I made 12 minis) and place on cookie sheet. Cover and refrigerate for about an hour.

Heat oil in skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Add crab cakes and cook until desired golden hue, flipping once (2-3 minutes per side for minis and 4-6 minutes for larger ones). Transfer to paper towel-lined plate to drain excess oil. Serve immediately.

Arugula, Pear and Parmesan Salad

Bosc pear, thinly sliced
Shaved parmesan (use veggie peeler to shave strips)
Extra virgin olive oil, a couple of drizzles--just enough to coat arugula
Salt & Pepper

In a large bowl, combine oil, salt and pepper. Add arugula, pear slices, and cheese. Toss to coat. Arrange on plate and top with crab cakes.

You can print both recipes here.

This crab cakes recipe cake about by trial and error. Over the years, I discovered that I prefer crab cakes that don't include ingredients that compete with the sweetness of the crab. This combination is the balance I was seeking.

If you try these recipes, I'd love to hear your feedback.

Sheila Denise

Monday, January 17, 2011

Roasted Butternut Squash - A TSE Tutorial

As a finicky child, teen, and young adult, I am constantly reminded that I missed out on some great deliciousness in my silly youth. The poor squash was definitely on my "ewwwwww" list for the first half of my life. I'm so incredibly glad I came to my senses and started making up for lost time. What in the world was I thinking?? LOL

During my Saturday food shopping excursion, I was torn between Acorn squash and Butternut squash, but ultimately decided on Mr. Butternut. I had my usual plans for it--roasting, but I typically just split it, remove the seeds, add seasonings and olive oil, then roast. Well on Sunday, I decided to cube and roast it instead. Since I rarely take beginning to end photos, I thought this would be a great time to start.

Starting with this (and a cutting board, knife & veggie peeler):

Cut off the top and bottom:

Remove skin with a veggie peeler:

Cut like this:

Then cut those two pieces in half, like this:

Scoop out the seeds (a large spoon does the trick):

Nice and clean:

Cut into planks, then cubes:

Combine these ingredients in a large bowl (I don't measure):

I used FRUITY olive oil, as you can see (I crack myself up sometimes):

Add squash to the bowl with oil mixture and toss to coat:

Transfer to a foil-lined baking sheet:

Bake at 425 for 30-40 minutes (depending on cube size), tossing every 10 minutes and you'll end up with a dish of deliciously, sweet, roasted heaven just like this:

I hope you enjoyed the tutorial and that you'll add this side dish to you winter menu. Stay tuned for more tutorials this year. If you have a request, I'd love to hear from you.

Sheila Denise

Thursday, January 13, 2011

How I Ate My Way Through Stormwatch 2011 Atlanta

When I wrote on Sunday about the things I want to master, little did know (never imagined) that I'd be stuck at home since Sunday afternoon. Did y'all hear me?? STUCK, absolutely no driving ANYWHERE, no opportunity to go to Publix to touch produce or purchase my favorite Boars Head Jerk Turkey Breast, no dining out, no Goodwill thrifting, no searching for deals at Ross, HomeGoods, TJ Maxx or Marshalls, no NOTHING!! Now mind you, when I say stuck, I mean I've been on lock down! Before you start feeling super-sorry for me, I have a confession to make--I've loved every minute of being stuck at home--I just enjoy whining about not being able to shop. For years, in my former life, I rarely had an opportunity to spend very much time at home. I was an expert car renting, hotel dwelling, room servicing, restaurant dining puppet. Since Sunday, I've tracked down every speck of dust; reorganized the kitchen and bathroom(s) cabinets, the pantry, the linen closet, the bar, the coat closet and last, but not least, my dreaded office file cabinet. While doing all that, I've also forced myself to cook (more than I normally do) based on what's on hand.

Now this next part will probably not surprise you. In my shut in state, somehow I fell into a bit of hibernation-induced sipping and eating, so to ease my guilt, I'm sharing a few photos with you. In all reality, my little eatfest started on Saturday evening after a fantastic lunch with some super-fabulous friends at La Madeleine.

I was wise to order a small one this time.

I won't even attempt to tell you how much of this I inhaled, but let's just say that I've mulled about as much as I can mull.

Kinda-sorta fried, but not deep fried. I may have my "Southern" card taken.

Who can survive a snow storm without gingerbread?

This is my I'm-beginning-to-feel-guilty dinner last night.

And today's still-feeling-a-little-guilty lunch. I used the leftover lump crab.

I think we'll be somewhat back to normal tomorrow, so I decided to have one last unnecessary, but quite delicious meal as my official goodbye to Stormwatch 2011 Atlanta.

Guilt is nowhere to be found on this plate.

Metro Atlanta should be almost back to normal for the weekend. If not, I suppose I'll just continue to organize, reorganize, and eat myself into a stupor.

Since 49 of our 50 states (lucky Florida) are "enjoying" snow, I'd love to hear how you're coping.

Sheila Denise

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Things I Want to Master

Happy New Year y'all!! I hope everyone is enjoying this beautiful (but quite chilly) Sunday morning.

As I sit at my breakfast table and look at the gazillion leaves in my backyard, my mind quickly turned to anything that didn't require manual labor outside. No, seriously, I can't address the leaves until they ALL fall off. What's the point of raking leaves several times when you can do it have someone do it just once? back to my distracted thoughts.

I'm a sucker for trying new things and I have absolutely no fear jumping in head first and excitedly awaiting the outcome. Well I began thinking about a few things I really want to master and oddly, they all involved food, so for good measure, I threw in a couple of okay, one non-food related to-do. These are in no particular order, but simply things I'd like to tackle.

1. Breadmaking (especially rolls)

I do an okay job in this area, but I want to do an OMG job with breads. Aunt Maxine continues to advise me that technique and patience are the key combinations, along with not overworking the dough. I'm going for that smooth-as-a-babies-bottom kinda finish and I'm definitely not there yet.

The lower left roll is what I'm aspiring for:

2. Making Madeleines

This one isn't so much as mastering, but just taking the time to make them in efforts to avoid driving all over Atlanta to purchase them and getting home to realize I've eaten waaaay too many on the drive back. Ridiculous I know, but I'd rather reserve my driving for more important things, like a lamb shank, a steak, perfume or shoes. ;-) I'm obsessed with these delicate beauties.

Love these!!

3. Piping Frosting

My great niece Briana is cupcake-obsessed and of course it's Aunt Sheila's duty to spoil her rotten by turning our play dates into cupcake baking sessions. Although she's impressed by anything I do, I'm not quite where I want to be with adorning her favorite treat. We've enjoyed creating quite a few things in her soon-to-be four years. At two, she made biscuits, at three, snickerdoodles & spaghetti sauce (her request), and she's been the official family "pancake flipping" coach for a couple of years, by yelling, "It's time to flip 'em!" She's already great in the kitchen and truly enjoys creating and experimenting.

I did this a few months ago:

4. Keeping Just One Plant Alive (longer than a week)

I simply have NOT managed to do this and I'm not so sure I really want to, other than to ease my conscience about killing so many beautiful living things. The routine is, buy it, bring it home, kill it, take it to my sister Riley, let her nurse it back to health, visit it often and wonder in amazement how she managed to make it beautiful again. *sigh* This is really going to be a tough one. I simply REFUSE to post a picture of a dead plant.

I'll make every effort to keep you posted, but I'm not so sure about my green thumb journey. I hope to have a grin as big as Briana's when my mastery is complete.

Stay tuned.

Sheila Denise