My Recipes: Stove-top Chicken & Grilled Salmon

Today, my lovely readers, you get a two-for-one! I've been cooking rather "plainly" lately, quick and easy meals in my usual 30-minute timeline. So as I mix up some tasty basil and feta cheese burgers that we'll be grilling by the pool later today, I leave you with a pair of painless, tasty recipes to try on your own this weekend!

Stove-top Chicken


Ingredients
Garlic, minced (bottled or fresh is fine)
Dry Italian seasoning mix (basil, thyme, rosemary, etc.)
Worcestershire sauce
Fresh cracked pepper and sea salt
Organic coconut oil or olive oil
6-8 chicken drumsticks


Place a small amount of oil in the pan and heat to medium high. Place chicken in the oil and rotate to coat then sprinkle a fair amount of garlic, Italian seasonings, salt and pepper on top. Cook with the lid off for approximately 5-6 minutes, until bottom of chicken is browning, then flip. Place lid on pan and cook until chicken is no longer pink in the center.


We paired our chicken with steamed zucchini and artichokes and black beans!


Grilled Salmon


Ingredients
Fresh salmon
1 lemon, cut in half
Sea salt and cracked black pepper
1 bunch asparagus
Garlic salt

We had been dying to get out the grill again, so we heated it up nice and hot and placed the salmon and some asparagus on top in a "fish-safe" grill pan. (It comes with tiny holes in the bottom to keep the fish from flaking off and falling between the grating.)


Squeeze half the lemon onto the salmon, then sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Grill over a high heat, flipping once to lightly brown and cook the top side. Use the other lemon half to squeeze over the asparagus and sprinkle with garlic salt. Rotate the veggies often to avoid charring them, and drizzle with olive oil if they begin to look dried out.


(A certain doggie decided to guard the grill while the food cooked.)


The fish should be completely cooked within 10 minutes, when the edges are white-ish in color and the fish flakes with a fork, it's ready! We paired it with some steamed butternut squash sprinkled with cinnamon sugar. Happy eating!


Zebra Zing!

So I've succumbed to a recent obsession with zebra-print. I don't know exactly what started it, but it's sort of wiggled it's way into various parts of my home decor and personal fashion. When it comes to the Texas country interior style, similar to what we have in our home, it's easy to get overloaded with brown and tans and solid colors. I've said it time and again, and I'm currently looking for ways to break up the repetition. I spotted these small zebra-print lamp shades at Stein Mart in the clearance section. With my 40% off coupon, they were only $1.40 apiece! I replaced the tan faux leather shades that were on the kitchen light fixture with these and love the variation they bring into our small eating space. 



I also decoupaged an old tray I found at an estate sale with zebra print paper. The zebra-print fabric is a .99 cent buy from Hobby Lobby. I thought it'd be fun to tie the whole theme in from ceiling to floor! 


In our bedroom, I brought a little zebra in with these plate chargers I found at Garden Ridge Pottery for $3 each. Our room has more brown and tan in it as well, so I'm working to add a little more color and variation and I like that these chargers liven up the bedside corners.


And just for fun, when we spent a weekend in Dallas recently, I slapped on some zebra-print nail stickers by Sally Hansen and even found a zebra koozie at Bucee's on our drive to the Big D. A little much, you might ask? A little more fun, says I. ;)



What are you obsessed with these dayzzzz?

My new Etsy shop! {Texas Take}

I've got exciting news, today, friends. You've probably already gathered from the title of this post that I've launched my own Etsy shop and I'm super duper excited to confirm that's true! My love of turquoise and chunky necklaces led me to make a variety of designs lately when I'm sitting still during my down time, and since I can't keep them all I'm hoping to start slingin' 'em on my new shop, Texas Take.



Head on over and take a gander - and spread the word, Texas Take is open for business! 

My Recipes: 7 Layer Bake

This dinner recipe is super easy and comes in layers. You literally pile one on top of the other until the dish is full, and it's time to eat!


Ingredients
1 can refried beans
1 onion, chopped
1 lb. lean beef
Mozzarella cheese
Salsa
1 pkg Mexican rice
Tortilla chips for serving


Begin by preparing rice to cook (ie boil water, add rice mixture, etc.). Heat a large saute pan over medium high and saute onion until it begins to soften. Add beef and stir frequently, until cooked through.  Spread refried beans in the bottom of a microwavable dish and heat 1 to 1.5 minutes. Sprinkle a layer of cheese over it, then a layer of salsa. Next add the rice, followed by the beef and onions mix. Top off with a final layer of cheese... and ta-dah, it's ready to serve! Garnish your plate with tortilla chips and a nice cold beer.


Weekend Recap: Easter Fare

We enjoyed a busy, productive weekend, taking time on Sunday to worship at our local church and to remember the wonderful reason for the season. 

I spent some time working at a client office on Thursday and finally got around to doing some serious shopping Friday. I wanted to post one of my outfits from the work week, I pulled out the skinny jeans again and have been wearing these brown wedge heels from Target non-stop. They are really comfy!




Recently, one of the husband's co-workers got a ton of fresh shrimp from the Gulf and sent some our way. Thanks to help from the husband, he shelled the lil suckers and we grilled them up for dinner Friday night. It was so good, especially with some rice and a little spicy steak seasoning!



 Saturday we ate lunch at Texas Roadhouse (our favorite place for an everyday steak and cold beer), went to the pool and laid around and read magazines, then we stopped by Studio Movie Grill for a film and a drink. We decided to see Hanna, which was interesting but didn't turn out to be as great as I'd hoped. Next we stopped by the grocery store and loaded up on the necessities, including some super delicious pre-made burger patties mixed with basil and feta cheese. They grilled up beautifully on our new grill and we ate every bite!



Easter Sunday began with our local church service then we spent the afternoon cleaning up around the house and prepping food for dinner. Two of our friends who were also staying in town for the weekend came over with some homemade bread, cherry swirl cake, spicy cream cheese corn and deviled eggs... added to our own spread of grilled short ribs, pork chops, green beans almondine and fresh salad. There was no shortage of food at this feast!





I hope you had a wonderful Easter! How did you observe the day?

Weekend Recap: Party Hardy!

Boy, oh boy, do I have a weekend recap for you guys.

I am posting this on Wednesday because I've literally taken that long to recover! We went to a concert, a crazy fun wedding, saw family and friends and made the eight-hour round trip between Houston and Dallas, all in two and a half days. Whew!



Before I dive in, lemme tell ya a lil story:

Once upon a time, nine young girls all joined a synchronized swimming team called the Pirouettes of Texas. They were very little, scrawny gals (some as young as seven years old) who came from various families and backgrounds. But they shared one great thing in common: they were a team. Fast forward nearly 20 years later and these girls had all grown into beautiful young women. More importantly, they'd grown into the best of friends. Though some of the girls have moved to other cities or states, pursued various professions and entered relationships and new marriages, they remain as close as ever. Each year, they reunite on several occasions to share all the most special of moments together -- a trait that will never get old or ever become less meaningful. The end.

Sweet, huh? Those are my eight best friends. A gal couldn't be luckier to have so many close girlfriends in her life who are there for each other throughout every up and every down. So it was a monumental occasion that we were all able to reunite this past weekend for one of the girl's wedding! C has been with her now-husband, J, for all of eight years. We remember the day they first got together and were so thrilled to celebrate the start of their new life together. However, one of the girls was going to be missing the weekend since she lives out of state and had already forked over funds for several flights home on previous occasions. So we all pitched in to buy her plane ticket and flew her in town for the festivities - we couldn't have anyone absent! Needless to say, having every single one of us together (plus our former swim coaches as well!) was truly amazing.

We kicked off the fun on Friday night with a Roger Creager concert at Billy Bob's - Texas' largest dance hall. Creager is always the sure sign of a good time and I am proud to admit I've turned many of the girls intro Creager fans... that or they just get a kick out of seeing how much I love seeing him perform. ;)




The next day, we all prepped and primped then headed to the chapel for C's wedding! It was a gorgeous ceremony, followed by one of the most fun receptions I've ever been to. We partied, drank, talked, mingled, danced and ate. It was held at the Four Seasons Dallas and was a beautiful event shared among the best of friends. C was a breathtaking bride and spent her entire wedding laughing and smiling. There were also some emotional moments, like when her father spoke briefly at the beginning of the reception. He'd been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer prior to C's engagement, and it has been a long and hard fight to recovery. It was so moving and miraculous to see him stand proudly at his first-born's wedding and express his love for both her and her new husband. Once our eyes had dried, we dug into some cake then hit the dance floor until 2am, sloshing back tequila shots and even posing in masks and hats that were passed around after midnight. C even thought to have a basket of flip flops available for us gals in heels. Our stomachs were starting to get hungry close to departure and in came a huge delivery of breakfast tacos and pizza. What a perfect ending to a perfect day!







Several of us crashed at my mom's house that night, as she was kind enough to wake up in the middle of the night and come drive us home from the wedding! It was just a few blocks away and we were glad to be able to drink and have fun without having to worry about getting behind the wheel. A long drive home to Houston with a stop at Chili's for some yummy BBQ chicken finished off our weekend. The husband and I had a blast! Congrats to C & J on your union and all our love to our wonderful friends!

Master Bedroom Reveal!

It is time, dear readers, to show you the bedroom. I've put it off for a long, long time because we always seem to have a literal mountain of laundry threatening to topple over and take up the floor space. Then there are those days that I went through five outfits before deciding what to wear, and all the discards are piled up on the dresser instead of placed back in the closet. Or the husband's shinguards from soccer and dirty socks find their way into the corner. You know, typical master bedroom behavior. *Snicker, wink, wink*

But, without procrastinating any longer, I cleaned the ol' space up and present 'er to you now!


I love those sheets, they were on clearance at Stein Mart and I had a clearance coupon on top of that, and they came out to a whopping $15! They are super comfy and the pattern complements our room. It's easy to get too much tan or brown into a space when you use a lot of rustic decor like we do, so I like breaking things up with designs or color when I can. There's still much to be done but it's definitely a space taking shape!


I thought up the window valiance covers and my mom applied them for me when she helped us move in. They are covered in cream-colored burlap, with a strip of decorative burlap stretched across the middle and stars tacked on top of that. If you know me, you'll know there are a ton of Texas stars scattered throughout every room in my house!


This is the husband's side of the bed, with an engagement picture that needs to be hung but is a precious memento from our wedding. (Guests signed the mat with notes and congratulations on our big day.) His prided rabbit skins cover the top of his dresser (his idea!) and the tray is a $2.50 Target find that I spray painted Rust-Oleum's Heirloom White. Notice more stars on the wall?



This is my side of the bed. I read frequently, so I keep books handy on my dresser with Texas star bookends gifted to me by my sister. The "LOVE" letters were a group effort. I bought the L and E from Hobby Lobby, and the O and V were ugly floral-covered finds at Anthropologie for $2 each. My mom and sister helped me recover them in sale fabric I snagged at Hobby Lobby, and the husband's brother's sweet girlfriend, Amanda, helped me space and hang the set! The framed rose on the dresser top is the very one my husband presented to me the day he proposed. I dried it out then hot glued it to the back of the shadow box for safe keeping.



This mirror is a Pottery Barn item, but I got it on Craig's List for $20. I always need a full-length mirror when getting dressed so I can be sure the shoes match the outfit! ;)


This here is a little montage of our bathroom, since I don't like posting lots of pics from the toilet area on a blog. It's nothing to write home about, but it does have some cool stucco work on the walls with crosses stamped into the stucco. It was already like that when we moved in and we love it! It matches the crosses I had hanging in our old bathroom very well. They have been collected from all over the place by myself or gifted by friends or family. Each one is special and holds it's own meaning. The green sea glass jars are a hand-me-down from my mom.


So that's it! You've come full circle, ending with one of our wedding portraits on the facing wall. It's shot against a huge rustic wooden door, and I've got cowboy boots on underneath my dress. It's totally, well, us. Cute, comfy and country... just how we like it!

My Recipes: Thai Shrimp Noodles

Lately, I've been loving anything Asian-inspired, especially with noodles. I just can't get enough. But a lot of Asian-influenced dishes require various ingredients, which you may not always have on hand. This recipe is a quick and easy no-brainer. You only need a handful of items and about 20 minutes!


Ingredients
Rice noodles
Teriyaki sauce
Soy sauce
Broccoli (fresh or frozen)
Half a chopped onion
Red pepper flakes
Bag of shrimp
Salt & pepper



Thaw shrimp in a colander under cool running water. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, then stir in rice noodles and cook for 3-4 minutes then drain. Heat a large saute pan or wok over medium high heat, and add 1/4 cup of water. Bring to a boil then add broccoli and stir frequently until broccoli is softened and cooked. 


Drain the water, then add onion, shrimp and 1/2 cup of teriyaki sauce and 1/4 cup soy sauce. Cook until shrimp is opaque white, then add in remaining ingredients. (Use 1-3 tsp of red pepper flakes depending on the level of spiciness desired.) Stir thoroughly and heat over medium heat for a few minutes, adding more teriyaki or soy sauce if desired. Season with salt and pepper and serve.

Our Housewarming Party!

For a long, long time, the husband and I have dreamed of having a little house warming party.

I say a long, long time because for a year we lived in Scotland, then for four and a half months we lived with friends in the Houston area while searching for a house, then in December we moved in here. And it was glorious. There's just something truly wonderful and grand about having a home of your own. Be it an apartment, town house, big house or small house, or simply a room that you can claim, it's nice to have that space. It's where your personality can be free, where whims can roam uninhibited and where we build our foundations. Some people claim they do not need a home, that their roots are the world's and they soar like gypsy souls wherever the breeze may take them. But I like to put down some roots every now and then and sort of tether myself to a dwelling that I can call my own.

Even when we lived overseas, our little flat that was only ours for the year still became a home to us. We brought a few decorative items with us to Scotland and they made all the difference in transforming a strange place into what eventually became a landing pad for some amazing adventures. But even then, despite our happiness in traversing Europe and exploring lands unknown, every time we walked back through that door, we still longed for home.

Now that I've established my thoughts on having a home, you can understand how excited we were to finally have a house party several months after moving in and more than a year and a half since moving out of our last home! We love to entertain, to cook, to interact. So we wanted to serve up a feast and simply have friends arrive without the burden of having to prepare any food or drink. Which we did, for just over 30 people. It was a push to get all the food cooked or heated and placed on the table at once, but after we accomplished that it was all smooth sailing from there! I had (with the help of the ever so patient husband) cleaned our back patio and decorated with red Chinese lanterns and lights strung across its width. The effect, in my opinion, was fun, charming and party-centric all in one. Then we set out some tables (everyone brought their own camping chairs) and I threw together some quick centerpieces of lemons or fake mini apples in various glass vases with colorful table cloths from Walmart and a zebra-print bandana square from Hobby Lobby. Done!


We also fired up our brand new grill for the first time! The husband was an expert grill master, serving up perfectly barbecued chicken legs, brisket and sausage. He got rave reviews for his cooking skills on the outdoor set. And those fancy LED lights elicited a few "oohs" and "aahs" when the sky went dark. :)


There was a lot of hard work - aka blood and sweat - that had been poured into preparing our home and yard for so much company. It was the first time for many folks to see our house and we wanted things to be the best they could. I lament I didn't take more photos during the day, but I was so busy prepping the food it completely escaped my mind. You're lucky I got in the party snaps that I did, it was a close call and I even had people helping me with the camera to run around and take pictures before the moment passed! The animals were all quite patient with the husband and I during our crazy clean-up work week. But I don't intend to ever unload an entire truck bed full of mulch any time again soon. I may or may not have decided to freshen up the landscaping in the entire back yard by removing a yard (which weighs a few hundred pounds, y'all!) of old mulch and replacing it with new, darker mulch (which also weighs a couple hundred). Plus, I trimmed all the bushes, raking and bagging the aftermath, cut down our monkey grass plants, and mowed and weed-eated both the front and back lawns. Yeah, it was a piece of cake pain in my arse. But I love sweating in the yard and I was going on some serious motivation. I did got a few poor-pity-me looks from the dogs when I had to kennel them (they refuse to be separated) while working with some of the machines. The last thing I need is a doggie tail getting caught in the bush trimmer.


At last it was time to set things out for the party. I made custom wine labels for all the bottles I purchased (which are the Little Penguin brand and we love it, so tasty and so affordable at $5 a pop!). Each label stated the type of wine, like merlot or pinot grigio, and had a different saying on it. My favorite was "If you can read this, you need a refill." And I refilled a lot.


I put plastic cups on a zebra-print tray I decoupaged and dropped those on the countertop where I had all the drinks available, which was also next to the keg. Which we drank to within about four beers of its life. I couldn't believe it! The shot of the food table is our masterpiece - it all turned out great. *Gratifying sigh of relief*






Well, that's it folks! Our first big house party in our new digs. We're already looking forward to hosting another get-together in early summer, with more barbecue action and lots of fun distractions. Hope you and yours had a fun weekend and don't forget to come back for some recipes and a look (at last) in our master bedroom!

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