H-Town Food

I finally got my food on in Houston!

On Saturday, I had Torchy’s Tacos for lunch. Then ventured to go to Cloud 10 Creamery. Sadly they didn’t have the Fall favorite, Maple Butter, but I do love their egg custard and vanilla bean flavors. Lastly, I got to buy some Crave cupcakes. This might sound crazy, but cupcakes are not on the top of my dessert list, probably at the bottom. Usually cupcakes are too sweet… I do love the design of the Crave store though – lots of teal and brown, a display of vintage mixers, and people hand stamping the logo onto fondant. Pretty neat store!

Torchy's TacosAt Torchy’s and yes, it was awkward taking this pic because I have no idea who those people are! I wish I had that sign though

Cloud 10 Creamery
Egg custard ice cream is delicious. I need to learn this recipe!

CraveCrave cupcakes – so much detail in each cupcake 

Just for fun, a few friends and I also went to Rocket Fizz. This store displays hundreds of sodas (including Jelly Belly soda, Jones, and a bunch of other crazy flavors, like bacon, pumpkin pie, and ranch dressing). So fun!

Rocket FizzOverload of soda!!

SodaDid you want a meal in soda form?

On a Sunday morning, one must have Shipley donuts when in Sugar Land. Bought half a dozen and easily ate them all!

Shipley's

MG and I made a reservation at Backstreet Cafe in Montrose for a late afternoon brunch, and I’m so glad we ventured out that far. We had an amazing lunch – crimini mushrooms cooked escargot style, jalapeños pasta chicken alfredo, and steak benedict with tomato hollandaise. Wow! Aren’t you so jealous? Definitely one of the better brunches that I’ve had. The restaurant is in a house with a full bar downstairs, and it also has live music. If you’re ever in Houston, take my word and check this place out! Make sure you make a reservation because apparently everyone and their mom knows about this joint.

Backstreet CafeHow cute is this restaurant?

Backstreet Cafe - Mushrooms

Jalapeño Alfredo

Steak Benedict

What are some of your favorite places to go in Houston or Sugar Land? Any recommendations since I’m still going to be here for a few more days?

What did you eat this weekend?
Jay

  

Dainty Vases

I am still in Texas with my family and having a great time. I do miss the convenience of knowing where all my things are, like ingredients to bake or seasonings to make dinner. I also miss knowing where all my craft supplies are, couldn’t even find a ruler to measure something the other day! However, I can’t complain because having my parents take care of me is a wonderful thing.

One big thing I miss is decorating my home (maybe that’s why I recently embarked on a DIY wall remodel at my parent’s house, post to come soon). Since my wedding in June of 2012, I’ve been obsessed with dainty little vases. I place them all over the house and put one or two stems of flowers in them to decorate the house a bit. Vinegar/oil bottles are great, little bulb vases, mason jars, skinny vases – I love them all! They make me so happy! 

Vases

The first vase is an olive oil bottle. The second and third vases were from my wedding. I purchased these gorgeous things on Craigslist from a previous bride. I adore the bulb one in the middle!

Vases

How gorgeous are these flowers? Does anyone know what they are called?

What are some decor elements you like to place around the house? Any suggestions?

Love,
Jay

  

Family time

What are your plans for the holidays?

I flew back to Texas this past week to visit my family. I’ve been shopping all day with my mom and sister to finish Christmas shopping for our huge family (my mom and dad are both 1 out of 7 siblings, huge is an understatement). I’ve also embarked on a new DIY project. My parent’s current house is about 20 years old, with only one renovation about 15 years ago when the granite floors were installed. Nothing else has been done. While sitting on the toilet, I came up with the idea of painting the bathroom walls (never TMI on this blog). The one obstacle, and this is a big one, all the bathrooms are wallpapered (talk about early 90s!). So I told my dad I was going to ripe out the wallpaper and paint the upstairs bathroom, and he replied with “yeah right… you’re on Christmas break.” Either he was being totally serious, or he knew the right button to hit so that I would complete the task. Probably the latter…

So challenge accepted.

I’ve worked on the upstairs bathroom (which is conjoined by two powder rooms) for the past four days, tearing off wallpaper. Except it wasn’t as easy as YouTube makes it look… The wallpaper is glued onto drywall, which is basically raw materials made of layers and layers of paper. Can’t really peel glued paper off paper, am I right? Damn, this became a WAY bigger project than I expected. So now the process is: peel wallpaper (careful not to damage the drywall too much), spackle, smooth out the plaster, wipe down the dust, texturize the walls, sand down the texture so it matches the walls at home, primer, then paint. What did I get myself and MG into? But it’s been a learning experience, and to me that’s always worth it. I’m hitting up Home Depot like it’s my local coffee shop, and hard at work everyday toiling away, which is better for my weight because the other situation is that I’d be snacking all day. I’m happy to say that today, all the wallpaper is off and we’ve spackled two rooms.  Pics to come soon! There is one pic of MG spackling at the bottom of the collage. This spackle goes on pink, but drys white so you see where you’ve plastered. Cool stuff!

In the meantime, here are some pictures of my time in Texas right now, according to my iPhone.

I miss my little Chubalee, but thankfully he’s having a great time with his cat sitters (thanks Winnie)! I do have a fat fat here to keep me company though. Meet Tinker, my sister’s butterball 26lb kitty. He’s a cuddle muffin, and I must smother him every chance I get.

On our free time, obviously we’re eating! Whataburger at 1am is the Texan thing to do. Mmm… honey butter chicken biscuit. Also Sonic had half off milkshakes this past weekend – we had the ultimate shake, the vanilla mint holiday shake. Yum!

We also celebrated my mama’s birthday with a delicious Whole Foods cake. Happy Birthday mommy!

Texas

2 more days until Christmas day! What are you doing until then?

Peace & Love, Jay

  

Beet Juice

I’m proud to say I’m still juicing! Ever since I’ve taken my oath to be a bit healthier back in September, I’ve actually been trying to drink a glass of fresh juice a day. I can’t honestly say that I’ve felt a huge surge of energy or a difference in weight since I started juicing, but it definitely helps cleanse my system, if you know what I mean *wink*. That must be a good thing right?

I find cleaning the juicer machine to be such a pain. So instead of juicing every day, I actually make enough for four glasses. One glass for myself, another for my husband. Store two other ones in mason jars and leave them in the fridge for the next day. That way I have to clean the juicer every other day. Pretty genius, if I do say so myself.

We have so much leftover pulp that I’m trying to figure out whether or not I should start composting. We live in a town home with a patio but no backyard. Composting seems a bit silly to do since we don’t need fresh soil. But it would be an environmentally friendly way to dispose of waste. City folk, any tips?

Here’s another great juice recipe that I’ve put together – beet juice. Costco has some cooked organic beets in the fridge section. Go take a gander!

Beet Juice

Ingredients: 3 beets, 4 carrots, 1 cucumber, 2 apples, half a head of romaine lettuce, 2 kale leaves, 4 celery stalks

So delicious and nutritious!

Do you know of another great beet juice recipe? Please share!

Cheers to your health,
Jay

  

Perfect Banana Nut Chocolate Chip Muffins

Yay! I’m back home in Houston for the Holidays. I can’t believe its been over a year since I’ve been back. I love the feeling of walking into your childhood home and your parents greet you with open arms. Mama has already prepared a snack, and everything is familiar. Fresh laundry is going, the home is warm with the heater, and the household cat is meowing for attention. Home sweet home!

Before MG and I left our house, we wanted to get rid of perishable items in our fridge. Do you do this too? Or is this a crazy person’s idea? We had 2 eggs, 2 heads of celery, 1 pound of carrots, 4 heads of romaine lettuce, 3 oranges, 2 apples, half a watermelon, and 3 ripe bananas. That’s a lot to eat in two days! I basically juiced all the veggies and fruits, and ended up with 7 larges glasses of green juice. We actually finished it all (with the help of a friend)! I would call it a cleanse, but we ate a bunch of carbs and sweets so I guess I can’t lie to myself…

What I had left. 2 eggs and 3 super ripe bananas. This means only mean ONE thing. Who can guess it (hint, title)?

Banana Nut Chocolate Chip Muffins! Easy to eat and take on the plane. I’ve been trying to decide what I should bake to break in my KitchenAid! How perfect right?

Done

Here’s my deliciously fluffy, not sweet, perfectly baked banana nut chocolate chip muffin recipe.

Ingredients

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup softened butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 RIPE bananas, mashed (super, super ripe)
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup chopped walnuts

Baker’s tip: I highly encourage mixing your dry ingredients separately from your wet ingredients

Instructions:

1. Preheat the oven to 375 ° F.
2. Beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
3. Beat the eggs into the butter/sugar mixture.
4. Add vanilla.
5. In a separate bowl, mix together the dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, salt, brown sugar). Now combine everything into the wet mixture.
6. Mix in the mashed bananas. Add the walnuts and chocolate chips until thoroughly mixed.
7. Scoop mixture into muffin pan cups 3/4th full.
8. Bake for 20 minutes or until tops are golden brown.

These babies are the perfect snack. Gobble them up! Take them on the go with you. Share them with friends. Midnight snack? Yes, please!

Mixed
This mixture is quite delicious… I might have had a spoonful

Ready
Fill the cups 3/4th up

Muffins
Let them cool on a cooling rack so they are extra fluffy!

What kind of muffins do you like? I think banana nut is definitely my favorite, with chocolate gives it an extra plus. Do you have a favorite banana muffin recipe? Do share!

Snack time,
Jay

  

The Best Christmas Yet!

MG and I are leaving for Texas this week! I can’t wait to visit my family and friends back home. I miss them dearly. I better get to doing laundry and packin!

Sadly, no super sadly, I’m not bringing my Chubaloo home with me. There’s too much traveling to bring him along. I’m torn… already. And I haven’t even left this guy yet.

On a happy note though, since we’re leaving so soon, we celebrated Christmas with friends early this year. Lots of dinner gatherings, drinks a-flowin, and gift unwrapping!

Get this – best present yet. Actually, I don’t know if anyone can top this.

KitchenAid

I finally got a KitchenAid mixer!!!!

I’ve been eyeing this for so long, but for some reason MG and I didn’t put it on our wedding registry, and we haven’t mustered up the courage to get one. I have no idea why… But finally! My sweetest of sweet and dearly beloved friends got this for me for Christmas.

This has got to be the nicest gift I’ve ever gotten from a friend. Thank you so much for an incredible gift. I wholeheartedly love it and cannot show you enough appreciation.

Now, friends, what should I make with this? Give me some ideas!

What did you do this weekend?
Jay

  

DIY: Jeweled Frames

I’ve come across some super cute jeweled frames, especially from Z Gallerie. Look how pretty these are!

Jeweled Frames

Too bad they range from $18-40. Wah. wah. wah. That’s more than what I’m willing to spend.

This only means one thing! It’s time for a DIY! For under $5, you can make jeweled frames.

frame 1

Materials:  frame, paint, E-6000 craft glue, and mosaic tiles

Simply paint the frame and let it dry overnight. Then align the tiles, and glue each piece to the frame.

Similar mosaic tiles here.

Frame 2

Materials:  frame, E-6000 craft glue, beads, and spray paint.

For this frame, I purchased silver beads. I first aligned the beads and glued them onto the frame. Next I removed the glass, picture, and picture mat, then sprayed paint the entire frame with the beads white. Let it dry overnight.

Similar beads here.

Frame 3Here’s a different design for our bookshelf.

I like the juxtaposition of the tiles and beads. Each one has a personality, and every piece doesn’t match in size, shape, and alignment. Put your favorite photo of you and your friend and it will make for a great Christmas gift!

Is this a project you can do? What would you use these frames for? I actually used these frames to display my engagement pictures at my wedding.

DIY away!
Jay

Also check out my revamped frames from JCP for the house!
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1  //  2  //  3  //  4

  

Roasted Chicken Recipe

Did you know that Costco sells two Whole Organic Chickens for around $20? Such a great deal!

Usually I make one for dinner, and I’ll freeze the second one until I need it.

Roasting

MG and I make a whole chicken on Sunday night, eat leftover chicken breast with pasta on Monday for dinner, and finish the leftover meat on a Tuesday with a chicken salad during lunch. One $10 chicken for three meals – can’t get any better than that right?

I also love to make a roasted chicken for a dinner party of 4 with some roasted veggies. Spending $15 for a dinner party – can’t complain about that!

Ingredients (only 4):

  • Whole chicken
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Thyme

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 450° F.
2. Using paper towels, dry the chicken really well inside and out. As dry as you can get.
3. Salt and pepper the outside and inside – be generous and coat evenly.
4. Now truss the chicken (Trussing is important. It keeps the tips from burning and the thighs keep the chicken from drying out).
5. Put the bird in a roasting pan. If you have extra bread, you can line the bottom of the pan with bread. This helps dry the heat even more for an extra crispy chicken. However, bread is totally optional.
6. Roast the chicken for 60 minutes, then broil for 5-10 for a crispy skin.
7. Remove the chicken from the oven and sprinkle thyme.
8. Let the chicken rest for 15 minutes on a cutting board.
9. Remove the twine and cut the chicken. Cutting the chicken is such an art form that I’m still learning. First you break off the middle wing pieces. Then you remove the legs and thighs, and the next cut I make is the middle of the breast captivity. I haven’t mastered cutting the oysters out from the backbone. One day I will…
10. Serve and eat!

This chicken is so juicy. The skin is crispy. And it’s such a cheap meal. Yum!

Salting and pepperTrussed and salted 

ReadyReady for the oven

In the Oven
Done roasting!

RestingRemember to let it sit and rest for 15 minutes before cutting into it

DoneThe end product doesn’t look beautiful, but it tastes heavenly! 

Chicken is such a universal meat – you can make casseroles, pair it with salads, cook it in pasta, add it to stir frys, or simply eat it plain. What are some of your favorite chicken dishes? Also what are some ways you make chicken? Please share your recipe!

Who’s hungry?
Jay

  

Pre-Christmas

It’s the time of holiday parties!

MG and I had our own date night, gift opening party on Friday evening. I bought him some amazing Shun knives (basically I get to use them too, best kind of gift). And he bought me a Fisheye lens for my camera and Snake Oil, only the best game ever. I should let you know that we’re going to Texas to visit my family and friends for Christmas soon. That’s why we celebrated our own Christmas early and opened gifts.

On Saturday we went Christmas tree chopping! We’ve made this an annual tradition to go with our friends and chop your own tree at the farm. I can’t wait until the day all my friends and I have toddlers, and we can bring the little ones to run around and help saw the tree. Those will make for good memories. What are some of your annual Christmas traditions? Please share, I’d love to know!

DSC03521
Doesn’t the tree on the right look like someone is hiding in camo? Freaky… and bushy.

DSC03547
Give a guy a saw and he feels like Ron Swanson! (Any Parks and Rec fans here?)

DSC03539
Sawing the perfect tree!

DSC03534Soooo muddy…

DSC03548The Luu’s tree ^^^

DSC03559Always a great time with these two

We also went to our church’s annual White Elephant Christmas party. Food was delicious. Fellowship was great. Gifts were… creative. I say this because the maximum amount you could spent was $4. I came out with an olive oil dispenser. I’m happy! I’ve discovered that at this age, kitchenware is the best gift you could get (am I old?).

DSC03663Singing Christmas carols 

BTW, did you notice I’m using my fisheye lens? Thanks hubby.

DSC03628
My love ^^^

DSC03683
We had a gingerbread cookie mansion decorating table. People were encouraged to continually add to the mansion. Look at that ice skating rink in the front and the garden on the right – so much imagination! Making a gingerbread house is SO difficult. Props to those that can make one look like something… Ha!

On Sunday night I celebrated Christmas with my lovely in-laws. We had a seafood feast at home, played a round of Snake Oil, unwrapped gifts, and then had some homemade vanilla ice cream. It was a splendid night of family.

DSC03688
Our tree filled with presents!

DSC03687A fantastic family picture. Isn’t it Christmas card worthy?

What did you do this weekend?

Love,
Jay