Texas Cavier

Happy New Year! I learned something new today, many people believe if you eat black eyed peas on New Year’s Day, you will have good luck and prosperity throughout the year. I made a run to the grocery to pick up some canned black eyed peas and they were sold out, I guess everyone but me knew about black eyed peas. I did finally find black eyed peas and here’s a recipe for a great way to start 2012. It’s commonly called Texas Caviar and this is my version. It has many variations and is a great way to add veggies to snack time. It is best made a couple hours ahead to allow the flavors to mingle. I think it would be a great way to wake up steamed broccoli or baked potatoes too. If fresh tomatoes aren’t very flavorful, canned are a perfect replacement. If you are a cilantro hater, flat leaf parsley is a nice variety.


2 (15 ounce) cans black eyed peas
2 cups diced tomatoes or 1 (14 ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
1 jalepeno pepper, seeds removed and finely diced
3 green onions, finely chopped
1 bell pepper, diced
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
¼ cup diced fresh cilantro
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
¼ teaspoon salt or to taste
¼ teaspoon black peppers
Toss all ingredients into a large mixing bowl. Cover and refrigerate for a minimum two hours or up to two days. This is great served with tortilla chips.
Here are a few winter photos, snow is finally coming to northern Michigan and we are enjoying it! Happy 2012. Karen

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Honeybee Market

My last day at home my mom asked me if I wanted to go to Honeybee Market in Detroit.  The Honey Bee Market specializes in produce and authentic Mexican food.   My mom goes to the market a lot but had never taken me before.  She was surprised when I told her I had never been before.

As we were walking out, we discussed how I would probably want to go every time I was home from then on.  I love grocery stores in general, but I especially love stores that have authentic food because I love discovering new finds and new foods that I might not usually buy/try or use normally from day to day.

Right when you walk into Honeybee, there are samples of guac and a bunch of different kind of salsas to try.  So I obviously tried them all.

Everything in the produce department was really fresh and also really cheap!  And I love how there were also some things I had never heard of before–which I of course didn’t take pictures of so I can’t figure out what they were.

Since I was leaving the same day that we went to the grocery store, my mom and I got 2 of each thing for the most part, one for each of us to take home.

I got a back of dried chiles to use in chili’s, soup, enchiladas, etc.   Although I can’t really handle heat, I’m working on it and these chiles will help.

One of my favorite purchases from the market is the fresh tamales that they make.  We both got a bag of pork tamales and I have been living off of them for the past few days.

In the end this is what I took home:  pork tamales with sauce, fresh chips, fresh salsa and guac, enchilada sauce, flour tortillas, refried black beans, queso fresco (mom, I accidently stole yours too, sorry), mexican chile powder, pepitas (pumpkin seeds),  frozen guava, sour cream, tomatoes, dried chiles, apples, celery, carrots, box of dried fruit–papayas, strawberries, pineapple, mango, starfruit and 2 kinds of tea.  I feel like I’m forgetting something but that’s all I can remember.

The one thing I saw that seemed a little iffy was this coconut drink with chunks in it:

Wall of sweets:

I thought about it but was on kind of a sugar overload already from all the Christmas cookies and fudge I have been eating.

Either way, I’m going to be eating Mexican food for awhile!!  I have eaten a salad consisting of lettuce, tomato, 2 tamales, sour cream, salsa and cheese for the past few meals.  Not the healthiest thing in the world, but sooo delicious.

If you live in the Detroit area, I would really recommend checking out the Honeybee Market.  I’m hoping I can find a similar market around me.

Do you guys have any other specialty markets that you like? 

Katie

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Vodka Cocktail Sauce

Shrimp cocktail is a holiday favorite at our house and this year I wanted to create a nice twist on plain old cocktail sauce.  Think of this as a grown up version of shrimp cocktail sauce.

We served this on Christmas Eve and served traditional cocktail sauce too for those who don’t like to change up the holiday traditions.   This is so good you’ll want to think about changing your traditions, it’s very yummy and oh so easy.  It would be a perfect addition to any New Year’s buffet.  I usually buy frozen shrimp, sized at about 25 to 35 shrimp per pound.  I think that’s makes for decent sized shrimp without having to break the bank to pay for the shrimp (the larger the shrimp, the more expensive per pound).  I like to keep a pound or 2 of cooked shrimp in the freezer, it’s such a nice quick appetizer.   At a moment’s notice I can pull the shrimp out, toss it into a colander and run under cold water until thawed.

This recipe makes enough sauce for 2 pounds of shrimp, so feel free to cut this in half if you are serving a bit less.  The flavor of the vodka is quite subtle but feel free to add a bit more vodka if you want to really taste the vodka.

Vodka Cocktail Sauce

1 cup reduced fat sour cream

½ cup prepared cocktail sauce

½ cup ketchup

1/3 cup vodka

Mix all ingredients together and serve with shrimp.  The sauce can be made a day or two ahead of time.

If you have vodka on hand, give it a try at your New Year’s party!

Karen

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Christmas Eve and Day recap

Hello, hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas! Sorry for the lack of posting for the past few days. Yesterday my mom and I used the day to sleep in and then go shopping to catch some after Christmas deals. Then, my best friend (since second grade!) came into town and we went out downtown. I’ll save that recap for another post though.

Let’s do a quick Christmas eve/day recap

I went out on the night of the 23rd and was feeling a little bit hungover on Christmas Eve morning, but nothing too serious. My brother and I were assigned to a bunch of errands and ended up running all over town getting groceries, last minute presents and that sort of thing. We didn’t end up eating lunch until we picked it up 3 hours later. Since I hadn’t eaten anything in the morning, I was just a tiny bit crabby by the time I could finally eat. My poor brother had to put up with my crabiness for the last hour or so.

After running errands, I got started baking in the kitchen.

I had seen 2 different cupcake ideas via pinterest and decided to combine the two ideas. The result:

Can you tell that they are supposed to be reindeer?

The insides looked like this:

Tie dyed! They were actually really easy to make. I just used a box mix and once I prepared the batter, I separated it in half and dyed one bowl of batter green and the other red. Then, I spooned alternating colors into cupcake tins (varying how much of each color, the order, etc). Some turned out much more tie dyed than others. I actually didn’t do a good job of separating and had a lot more green batter so the end cupcakes were pretty much green with a tiny bit of red.

I also made butterball cookies. I think traditionally they are pecan butterballs, but I used walnuts instead. I always thought these cookies were difficult, but they were really easy.

Walnut Butterball Cookies

1 cup butter

2 cups walnuts

2 cups flour

2 t vanilla

1/3 cup brown sugar

1/2 t salt

Powdered Sugar

To make, combine the butter, sugar, vanilla. Add the flour and salt to the butter mixture and blend. Add in the (finely) chopped walnuts and form into small balls. Bake at 350 for about 20 minutes. Then, let the cookies cool slightly and roll them in powdered sugar. To cut down on time for this, I just poured some powdered sugar into a ziploc and shook the cookies in the sugar (in batches). It worked perfectly and probably saved me a lot of time!

If you aren’t cookied out, you should try them, they were a big hit.

After a lot of baking, cleaning, etc, I got ready and we headed to church and then had everyone over after church. Here are some pictures from the rest of Christmas Eve:

We always have Italian food on Christmas eve–lasagna, italian sausage, mostacholi, salad, garlic bread. Was delicious! I love lasagna but I never really eat it except on Christmas Eve–that’s gonna change.

This year was the first time that I can remember that it was just the four of us on Christmas morning. Usually we have one or both sets of grandparents, occassionally my cousin, there is always someone else around on Christmas morning. My grandparents have spent the night at our house every Christmas since I can remember, but this year they didn’t as it has become too hard for them to do. It was fun with just the four of us though.

This is the iphone case that my brother ordered for me from etsy:

I am obsessed with it. And he got all my instructions right! Woo hoo!

In case you were wondering the present we ordered for my dad that I hinted about in this post. We got him a ‘pick punch’. He plays guitar and can never find any of his picks. This punch makes guitar picks out of any old credit card, gift card, etc. so he will never be without one again! I think it is a cool gift for any person who plays guitar and I *think* he likes it a lot.

Here are a few pics from Christmas day too…

I’m pretty sure you wanted me to post this, right Uncle Jeff?

I didn’t take any more pictures really, but it was a lot of fun to see the fam! I ate a lottttt over the past few days, but I did get a 3 mile run in yesterday and on Christmas day to try and reverse some of the eating damage :). I hope everyone else had a great holiday too!

I’m dragging my brother to Lowe’s to pick up some parts I need for a DIY necklace. I hope it turns out, can’t wait to show you guys if it does!

Katie

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December Supper Club

Hi everyone!  Merry Christmas Eve!

I thought I would get in a quick post before things get busy around here.

Wednesday was our December Supper Club and the theme wasss…red and green!

I actually had some trouble coming up with something red and green to make.  I don’t really know why but all I could think of was vegetables and desserts.   I ended up making an asparagus tart.   I actually saw the recipe posted a lot on Pinterest, and then figured out that the original recipe is Martha Stewart.

This tart is super easy, and I think it looks like something much more advanced and time consuming than it really is.

I used phyllo dough, like the really thin sheets of it, but I think next time I would use more of a puff pastry as the phyllo dough got kind of weird.

I saw my mom had puff pastry sheets in the freezer from Trader Joe’s, and they look like a kind that would work perfectly.

The recipe called for gruyere cheese, but when I went to the store they were all out of Gruyere so I used a combo of alloute spread and shredded swiss cheese.  I thought this combo tasted great!

I added  the red pepper bow so that I would have red and green and not just green (I figured I should tell you in case you didn’t know that was a bow, which is entirely possible).

Red and Green Asparagus Tart inspired by Martha Stewart

1/2 cup (approx) red pepper, chopped into small pieces

1 stalk asparagus

1 puff pastry sheet

3 ounces spreadable cheese (such as alloute)

3/4 cup shredded swiss cheese

Directions: Lay the puff pastry on a baking sheet and make a few wholes in it with a fork.  Bake at 350 for about 15 minutes.   In the meantime, trim ends off asparagus and chop peppers.   Take the pastry out of the oven and let it cool slightly.   Add both cheeses to pastry and then line asparagus over the top, I alternated directions every other asparagus piece.   Add the red pepper ‘bow’ and then brush olive oil over the top of the asparagus.  Lightly salt and pepper the top and bake for 15 more minutes or until asparagus is cooked.

Easy enough and this would make a great appetizer!  If you aren’t doing the red/green thing, you could always skip the bow.

This was one of my favorite supper clubs that we have had.   We had a good range of dishes and this one was also very vegetable heavy!  But not too many vegetables 🙂

Supper Club was at Alex’s this month and she had this guy ready to go:

Isn’t it cute??

Alex also made asparagus wrapped proscuitto

And spaghetti (green linguini with red sauce), but I guess I forgot to get a picture of that one.

Kristen made red and green risotto

Lindsey made a salad with dried cranberries, pomegranate seeds and pistachios

Jenn made brussel sprouts

And white chocolate covered peppermint oreos:

Sorry for taking a picture on my used plate haha

Last but not least, Mer made roasted green and red veggies

Including avocado!

 

I loved every single dish, and also had a bit of a sugar overload at the end when I kept eating oreos :).   The theme I wasn’t that excited about because I didn’t have much inspiration turned into one of my favorite supper clubs!

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Holiday Asparagus

This is a quick, easy, unusual and amazingly delicious appetizer.  It can be made a day ahead and refrigerated until you are ready to serve it.  It also adds a bit of pretty color to the table.  I always like pretty.  For an even more festive appetizer serve the dip in a red pepper, it’s hard to get any prettier than that.

I’ve made this many times and it always gets rave reviews.  It’s a recipe from Gourmet magazine and it can be found epicurious.  Am I still sad that Gourmet magazine is no more?  Yes!  The recipe on epicurious suggests you could use wasabi powder if you can’t find wasabi paste.  I’ve never had  trouble finding the wasabi paste at a regular grocery store, it comes in a tube much like a toothpaste tube and keeps nicely in the refrigerator once opened.  Wasabi is Japanese horseradish and it will definitely wake up your taste buds.  The original recipe calls for sugar and I don’t add that and don’t seem to miss it.  You can cut the fat by using fat free or reduced fat mayo rather than full fat mayo the original recipe calls for.  Either way I think you will wow your guests with this very simple appetizer.   I’ve modified the propotions a bit to cut calories and improve the taste.

1 1/2  pound thin to medium asparagus, trimmed

1/2 cup reduced fat mayonnaise

1 teaspoon soy sauce

2 teaspoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon wasabi paste

Drop asparagus into a large saucepan of boiling water.  Remove asparagus from the water after one minute.  Don’t walk away or get side tracked during that one minute or you will have limp asparagus.  Immediately transfer asparagus to a colander and rinse under cold running water to stop the cooking.  Allow the asparagus to drip dry in the colander or remove it and pat it dry with a paper towel.  Wisk together all other ingredients and add additional wasabi paste if you want a bit more heat.  I hope you enjoy this as much as I have time and time again. Karen

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Gift Guide for the guys

This morning I was excited to get to work because there was a holiday breakfast given by our building management company.

I got an egg and cheese biscuit and it tasted just like my old favorite from McDonald’s.  So good!  I used to eat that McDonald’s breakfast sandwich a lot when I didn’t really give a thought to what I was eating and how healthy it was.    I also got a yogurt parfait covered with some fruit sauce, but I ended up throwing it away.  Now that I regularly only eat greek yogurt, I was surprised at how vanilla yogurt tasted wayyy too sweet to me.

 

Only problem with this breakfast was that I was hungry again in about an hour.  I thought because there was protein from the egg + carbs, I would stay full for awhile but it didn’t work that way.  Oh well, it was a fun breakfast.  And it was free which is always a great thing in my book.

Moving on, I know this is really late but since I promised a holiday shopping list for guys, I figured I better follow through with it.  I tried to focus mostly on things that I know could be found in a store (as it is kind of late for online delivery).

Tech-y stuff

iphone cases are always a good option

This one is by Jack Spade and is from Saks.

If you are looking to spend a lot, there is always an ipad.  But that is kind of a no brainer

I can’t speak knowledgeably about computers and things because I just don’t know enough, but this itwin seems like something a lot of the nerds in my life would like…plug it into a computer, plug the other half into another computer and the two are connected!

Sony Streaming Player with Wi-Fi:  My brother and I almost bought this for my dad.   I think this thing is really cool.  You can instantly stream videos and music from hulu, YouTube, Netflix, Pandora, etc and it can be controlled by a remote app on your phone.

Alcohol Related

We got these whiskey stones for my dad a few years ago.  I’m not sure he uses them a whole lot, but I think he liked the idea and they are good for guys who like their drinks on the rocks (literallyyy hahah)

I think a flask is always a good present–and heck, why not get it monogrammed while you are at it?  There is never too much monogramming going on when I’m around.

Clothes

Clothes for guys are a little bit easier to purchase than clothes for girls (well depending on the person).  I end up buying my brother  some form of polo shirt/sweater/button down for every.single.holiday.   Before you think I am lame, it is the only thing he will ask for.  It is pretty easy to buy a sweater or a button down and know it will fit and look good, as opposed to women’s clothing which is very unpredictable.

This cotton cashmere sweater from J Crew is really nice and really inexpensive!

Shawl collared sweater—a good classic.  Cheaper version here  and more expensive version here

OK this next one is really random, but I think these are the best shoes for guys of all time…..and they are on sale, as everything I find seems to be!

Accessories/Random

Scarves always make great gifts–I think they are something a guy might not necessarily buy himself, but will definitely use and appreciate in the colder months.

Here is a cute one, a cashmere scarf, striped scarf,

Nice leather duffle bags, briefcases and travel kits make great gifts too!

Workout

I notice that a lot of guys might not buy themselves nice workout clothes.  Which is why so many guys at the gym walk around in cut off t-shirts from high school.   That is why workout clothes are a good gift–assuming it is someone who enjoys working out and not someone you are trying to force into it.

Under Armour always has good stuff and a wide variety

Lululemon has a lot of good shorts and pants for guys too.

TV/Movies/Music

Movies and TV series are always a good idea.   My pick of the year is Friday Night Lights.  It is a show that both guys and girls love!  And if you haven’t watched it yet, you absolutely have to…best show ever.

Sometimes the best gifts are not a physical present but things like sports tickets, concert tickets or clubs…such as a beer of the month club, record of the month club or something similar.

So that’s all!  Hopefully it will be helpful if you have a few last minute gifts to pick up.

I have one more present idea that I think is soooooo good, but we got it for my dad this year so I can’t reveal (yet).  I also was going to include some ties but that seemed really cliche.  Maybe it is just because I bought my dad a tie for like 15 years in a row (sorry dad).

Have a great night!!

Katie

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