Saved By Savannah

I really feel like my special weekends in Savannah are my saving grace. Its the “ahhhhh” right when I think I can’t take one more minute in busy Atlanta. The four hour drive down there after work on Friday just builds up my anticipation for what I know, will always be a good weekend. Even with the stomach flu, Savannah is great (yeah, that’s happened).

Bf and I were lucky and got to head down to ol’ SAV with his stepsister, Anne Bolling and her fiance (which I just spelled finance… clearly fiance is not a word I type often) for a beautiful high 70’s weekend.

Our plans were easy: Boat, cook, chill. And that’s just what we did from the moment we got there on Friday night. There is nothing better than hanging with good friends.

And hang with did. But just chatting can get a little tiresome from time to time. We needed some entertainment. Luckily, bf had gone to Costco before we hit the road and got a very much needed….

What is that you ask? Well, its a Jumbo Fun Ball of course. Duh. I know that I was lost on the concept of what on earth we were going to do with this thing. Crawl inside? Roll down a hill? Well, you just never know I guess. Let me just tell you know that this baby took about 2 hours to blow up. I didn’t help. Neither did Anne Bolling. Neither did Justin. Good luck bf… good luck.

Bf wasn’t the only one in a sad situation. The dogs (oh, how they are tortured) just hate being left out.

About half way though blowing up the Jumbo Fun Ball, we realized that we weren’t going to be able to get it outside. So we squeeeeeeezed it out in the nick of time.

Then, we had our fun.

It was awfully roomy inside. We plotted all the fun that we are going to have with this ball once summer comes. We talked of putting it in the marsh and floating in it. Sounds awesome… and a little dangerous.

The next day, Saturday, was gorgeous. I decided on my beer of the summer and I am going to stick with the red eye. It’s made in a can too for ultra classiness.

Here’s some class. Me, my cans of red eyes, and the Jumbo Fun Ball. Wow. My parents would be so proud.

Its always a little chillier on the water, but it was beautiful. The sky was blue and so was the water. The happy, newly engaged couple, smiled away as we boated over to our destination.

Oooo… just look at that. I want to be there. Right. Now.

Our destination = lunch. We went to one of my favorite boat-up-to places. AJ’s.

I got an “airplane drink” and we sat on the deck outside just enjoying the day. Anne Bolling and I thought it would be fun to teach her fiance, Justin, a lesson by taking his cell phone that he had left on the bar and then watch him look for it all over. It was entertaining… until bf called it and we were discovered. Oh, the things you do on sunny days.

AJ’s on Tybee Island has the best Crab Stew I have ever had. There is so much crab. In the winter when bf and I come back from fishing, we like to stop by AJ’s and split a bowl. It’s comforting.

All of the food was great. There is something about sitting on a patio in 75 degree weather that just makes everything awesome. I love days like Saturday.

We took it easy on the drive from lunch. A little talking… a little Cee lo Green…

I’m a foot boat driver. It’s comfortable/I was full from lunch.

Now, when in Savannah, you have to take advantage of the local scenery. We saw an old sailboat. We got on it. We laughed.

I love just scooting around the intercoastal. We had no plans. No agenda.

Just a couple of kids (30 is still kid age right?) hanging out on the water all day.

We got back to the house just as a dense fog was rolling in. I am talking a scary dense fog. It was so thick that it looked like something out of a movie.

Before the fog hit, I got some shots of one of my favorite parts of Savannah: the weathered furniture. I just love the sea beaten chairs on the dock.

I love to sit in them in the summertime waiting for everyone to load the boats and head out to the beach. I seriously can not wait for summer.

Bf had on his underdrawers. He was hot he said. Temperature hot. But the other hot too.

This weekend was a taste of what’s to come and I am salivating. That sounded grosser than I intended. The weather was awesome (had I mentioned that yet?) and the company was better. Thank you Savannah for helping me make it through.

Shrimp in Tomato Broth

Ok, you know how I am NOT going to the grocery store this week? Well, I have to say… I am awfully proud of myself and a little disappointed. I can not believe that I haven’t broken down and bought breakfast, lunch, or dinner in desperation. I have thought about it, don’t get me wrong. Especially when we ran out of milk (I told myself that that or dog food was the one thing I was allowed to get) and I was tempted by all the colorful items at PUBLIX. But… I held strong.

I am a little disappointed because I realize how many things I actually do have to eat at the house and how much food goes to waste. I just need to be a little more creative when thinking of meals, instead of deciding to cook Filet Mignon every night and needing to buy every ingredient in the recipe. I need to learn to substitute. This week I have been substituting ingredients more than ever. I have to tell you that at the grocery the other day, there was a jar of crushed red pepper that I just had to have. I swear I sat in the spice aisle for 5 full minutes wavering back and forth. People probably thought I was crazy! But, no. I made it through. Oh, the challenges we face in life.

Anyway, I was really impressed that I had the ingredients for this meal. I mean, really? And wow, was it good. I will show you how much bf liked it in the end.

I made a delicious soup of Shrimp in Tomato Broth with potatoes. Since it a soup and I still had last week’s Top Chef on my mind (did you see it? about letting soup develop its flavors? here it is in case not), I started the soup as soon as I got home from work so that the broth could sit stove-top on low to “develop its flavors.”

Let’s do this.

First, cut up the onion and celery stalk and toss into a pot with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Let the onions turn translucent.

Add in 4 cloves of minced garlic and stir with the onions and celery for about 5 minutes.

Add in a few sprinkles of chili powder.

Then add a dash of cayenne (more or less depending on how spicy you like it).

Stir the ingredients together. Mmmm…. smells good.

Add fresh rosemary.

Then add in 1 cup of white wine and let the vegetables absorb the wine. This just takes a few minutes.

Add in the can of tomatoes, juice and all. I used fire-roasted diced tomatoes. Just because I had them I used them. You could use any diced tomato.

Let all this come to a boil and boil down until thick. This takes about 20 minutes. Keep stirring frequently (you can walk away and come back 5 or 10 minutes later… its easy).

Add in the bottle of clam juice. I love clam juice.

Add 3 cups of water to thin out the broth some.

Then, to let my “flavors develop,” I sat the lid on ol’ Julia and went off to do my thang for about 2 hours or so. I left the pot on the stove top on low. Its too bad that my so-called “thang” these days is tending to Oinky or writing graduate school papers. I miss the old days when my “thang” was going to the Silver Dollar and playing PhotoHunt. Sigh…. college.

2 hours later when I opened the lid, it looked like this:

Chop up some potatoes (I used Golden, but I would suggest any small potato). The potatoes need to be cut up rather small so that they will cook more quickly. Also, when you take a bite of soup, you don’t want an entire mouth full of potato. I had this problem. Note that below my taters are cut up too BIG!

Add the hopefully-not-too-big potatoes to the soup.

I did a little taste-testing here. Check for salt and pepper and anything else you think the soup needs. It smelled good.

Hey, whadayaknow, it tasted pretty good too. I did add some salt and pepper though.

Now comes the show stopper: Shrimp. Jeez. I have summer on the brain! Its not even Spring. Did you see my shirt. The poor thing screams “SPRING!” Poor shirt doesn’t know its still a ways away.

Add in a pound of shrimp.

Lastly, add in a splash or so of chicken broth… if you want. I wanted, so I did.

Let the soup come to a full boil one last time.

Then serve it up! Make sure you get some shrimp and some potatoes. I served it with some rosemary bread that was simply divine. But, its also good on its own.

Mmm… I had a whole pot of soup in the fridge in a large tupperware and a smaller container also so that I could take some to work today. I’m glad I made myself a small separate container. When I opened the refrigerator this morning this is how much soup bf ate:

That’s a BIG container. It looks small in the picture, but trust me. Bf liked it so much that he ate almost an entire pot… minus the 2 bowls that I had taken out. I will have to make this again. It was easy, it was a hit, and I already had all this business lying around my kitchen. Hmmm… another “free” meal.

Shrimp in Tomato Broth

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 diced onion

3 stalks celery

4 cloves of garlic

1 tablespoon Chili powder

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 can (14 oz) of fire-roasted tomatoes + juice

1 sprig chopped fresh rosemary

1 cup white wine

1 (8 oz) bottle Clam Juice

3 c. water

8 oz. cut up potatoes (I used Golden, but Yukon or red would work too)

1 lb. shrimp, peeled.

Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add onions; sauté until very tender and beginning to brown, stirring often, about 18 minutes. Add garlic, cayenne and chili powder; stir 2 minutes. Add wine and cook until liquid evaporates completely, stirring often, about 10 minutes. Stir in tomatoes with juice and cook until very thick, stirring frequently, about 30 minutes.  A Stir in clam juice, then 3 cups water. Bring broth to boil. Add potatoes; simmer until almost tender, about 5 minutes. Add shrimp; simmer until just cooked through, about 5 minutes longer. Season with salt and pepper.

The Best Sauce Ever

I had this recipe for a burger on my phone for years. I would look at it bookmarked on my Blackberry every time I went online. It was a mental note to make that dang burger. And I made it. Last week.

I was the hungriest I could remember being in a very long time. I was hand-shaking, underarm sweating, pale-looking hungry. I rarely ever get that hungry. I couldn’t even steady my hands enough to take decent pictures.

Here is what (little) I have of that Blue Cheese Burger on Ciabatta:

Then, here is the best part….

Yes, that is Sriracha + mayo and it = wow. For real.

That’s all I got from my Blue Cheese Burger with Sriracha Mayo night.

From the first drooling bite, I knew that I was on to something here. You know I love my Tabasco Mayo, but this shiz is on a whole new level.

Like I said, this was a week ago and I have been thinking about it ever since. Thank goodness I am not going to the grocery store this week. Who knows what I would have bought. I decided to test out this Sriracha Mayo and see if it was a fluke or if it was as good as I remembered.

So I made a leftover Turkey Burger + Sriracha Mayo.

Ingredients include (you may want to get a pen): Mayo. This is my favorite kind. I don’t even like mayonnaise. But, there are some cases where it just must be used. If I’m using it, I am using this one.

and Sriracha.

Yep, that’s it. Just those two.

Directions (keep that pen handy):

Squeeze 2 parts mayo into a ramekin.

Squeeze 1 part Sriracha into said ramekin.

And mix these two together.

TA DA! It’s that easy. Now, I added mine to a Blue Cheese Turkey burger. What is it about hot and spicy + cool and creamy? Whatever it is… it works.

I spread it, thickly, on my top bun.

Mmmm… look at that color! I bet it would be good on the top and bottom bun. Hmmm… food for thought.

Then I smooshed that burger together. It looks simple enough, but that sucka is jam-packed full of spicy flavor.

Seriously. You have to try this. Talk about jazzing things up! I would suggest serving it with something with blue cheese as well, but I swear it could go with anything. I was dipping my fries in it also. So if you have some Sriracha lying around…. and some mayonnaise… mix ‘em together. You just gotta.

One Kind Of Homecoming

Bf went to Utah. He came back. I couldn’t tell who was more excited, him? me? Chum? Stellar? Oinky? Yeah right. Not Oinky. You should see the hate in their eyes when they look at each other. On the other hand you should see the love in Chum and Stellar’s eyes when they look at each other… and at bf.

It was really sweet in person.

I wanted to do the same thing, but I don’t think bf would have liked it as much. After this me, Chum, and Stellar just stared at him for about on hour. Glad he’s back.

I like this photo (I know, I know…. cell phone pictures are crappy). Look at how fast the dogs are moving. That would be the blurry spots.

Then just the full on attack.

Chum was crying in that whiney sound. Stellar almost gave him self a heart attack. I was yawing because it was about 11:30… and I was being ignored.

Easy Peasy Nachos

Ok, I have a goal for this week. You won’t believe it. My goal is to not go to the grocery store at all this week.

Gasp. I’ll give you a minute……. hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm……..

Ok, It’s true. Although I have started being much better about my grocery spending, I still need to save more. Yesterday, I happened to look around my kitchen and realize that while I think I have nothing to eat, I actually have plenty. Usually when I cook, since its mostly just for me, I have leftovers. I either cook them for bf to eat later or I freeze them. So I have a frozen turkey burger, another beef burger, two pieces of chicken, some veal, some shrimp and some other things in my freezer. I also have plenty of veggies and some pantry items.

My problem is that I freeze things so often that they live in the freezer abyss until I eventually get “nervous” about them and throw them out. My freezer is like Purgatory. You know you’re going…. it’s just a matter of when.

So with no grocery store list, I made Easy Peasy Nachos with things I already had lying around the house.

Here we go (try no to be too impressed):

I started out with a piece of chicken. And I preheated the broiler on my oven to high.

I cut up the chicken into bite sized cubes.

Then I added the chicken to a lightly oiled skillet. I let the chicken cook all the way through.

While the chicken cooked I mixed together the seasoning for my chicken. You know taco seasoning? Well, you never have to buy it again. I have cracked the code. You’re welcome.

I mixed together chili powder, onion powder, garlic powder, cayenne, salt, pepper, and about 1/2 tsp. of corn starch. Oh and cumin.

Then mix the spices together. I poured the spices over my chicken once it was cooked. You can tell from my blurry picture that I did not mix my spices well. Woops.

Then I added 1/2 cup of water and stirred it all together.

I let the sauce thicken up and bubble.

While all that was going down, I got my nachos ready. I added chips (duh), cheese (double duh), banana peppers, and jalapeno peppers.

And topped it all off with the finished chicken. Oooo… that looks gud.

Then I placed the nachos under the broiler so that the cheese could get all melty.

Voila. Nachos.

I served my nachos up with a side of sour cream and salsa. I like my condiments on the side so I don’t get any soggy nachos.

A free meal. Well, I paid for it already… I guess then its technically not free. It feels free though and that’s all that matters. In the real world, if I ever made nachos, I would get avocado…maybe some beans… maybe some ground beef…. but in money saver mode I use what I already have.

I wonder what I am going to make the rest of the week. I definitely see some sandwiches in my future.

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 or 2 boneless chicken breasts

tortilla chips

1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder

1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

a pinch of cumin

a pinch of corn starch

extra nachos fixin’s

Heat the broiler to high. Cube chicken into bite size pieces. Heat olive oil in skillet. Add chicken to skillet and cook until no longer pink. Mix spices and corn starch in a bowl. Add spice mixture to chicken in skillet once the chicken is cooked. Add 1/2 cup of water. Let the mixture bubble until the chicken in coated in sauce. Create nachos and top with the chicken. Place under the broiler until cheese melts. Serve it your way! Enjoy!

Writing on the Walls

I want a chalk wall. Badly. Bf says I can’t have one though. Hmmm… what to do?

I’m going to do it anyway. He can’t stop me. No one can!!!! That was a little perky. He could stop me. And he probably will.

But, look how cool this is!


You know I’d be getting down with some of that. I’d probably never leave my house. Ever.

I wouldn’t put it in the bedroom, but I think this is also a really cool idea.

This is #1 why I want a chalk wall. I want to write “What’s For Dinner” on it each week and a chalk wall would likely prompt Bf to put his feelings for me in writing… on the wall. Hmmm…. probably not.

Is it just me or does that selection of dinners sound like a stomach ache? Just me?

Ok, so this is my inspiration:


And this is the area I want to chalk wall.

I want to chalk the wall with the fish painting on it.

Its a weird spot. I love that our formal dining area is separate and tucked away in its own little nook. But, it needs some fun and I think that a chalk wall is definitely fun.

Has anyone every chalk walled before? I think I may need some tips… and someone to come over and do it.

It’s A Great Day

O.M.G. The weather is crazy awesome. I can’t wait to get outside.

I went to this awesome restaurant last night with some girlfriends called The Local Three. I got, what else… a meat and cheese plate. My friend, Thao, actually ordered the meat plate while I got the cheese plate. Then we ravenously shared the two. I’m turning people. It’s my way.

I am so freaking glad its Saturday that I can barely stand it. I woke up in a panic thinking it was Sunday at first and then calmed down once I remembered the correct day. I must have been tiiiiiiired. I can’t tell you the last time I slept until 11:30. No, I am not lying. Seriously. 11:30. I am an early riser and I was shocked when I looked at my watch.

I love Saturday. Like, want to marry it I love it so much.

What’s better than this:

an open window in the morning (well, 11:30 but it was morning for me)

A little coffee from my beloved Keurig…

Some biscuits fresh from the oven…

Sausage griddling away…

An open backdoor letting in the delightful 70 degree air…. (please don’t look at the mess. My home is still recovering from Andrew’s 30th)

All of those things combined make my perfect day.

I have a lot on my list though. I have to spend my day finding Oinky a new bed and a new litter box (delightful, eh?). He has outgrown them both… again, awesome.

I also have to go to the bookstore to add to my monstrous children’s book obsession collection.

Then, I am hitting up Roswell to finalize bridesmaid dresses. I think we just need to pick and be finished! Thao and I have been going back and forth on everything from color to style. But this dress fit like a glove and looked good on, so we are going to pick a color and just do it. Its so hard to choose.

I think we are going to go with red, but I just don’t know…. Finding her wedding dress was a snap, but this bridesmaid dress… now this is a hard choice.

I love you Saturday. Please last forever. :)

Oinky and the Yard

We have had our mini pot-belly pig, Oinky, since Thanksgiving. Oh man, I just said “our.” Like he belongs to us. No. I still won’t claim him. We have been watching A pig named Oinky since Thanksgiving. That sounded much better. And in all this time, he refused to go in the yard. I think he just did it to bother me. Well, now that the weather has been more tolerable, he has found his place in the world. I mean, this pig just doesn’t want to come in! I would leave him out there all the time but, my boyfriend is worried about coyotes. Yeah right. Like a coyote would want Oinky. Gag.

Well, when Oinky gets outside he is so full of joy that he does a little dance. Seriously. Its like a wiggle. I think he is trying to get the dogs to play with him… to no avail. They don’t even know we have a pig….I mean, we are watching a pig, anymore. I have been trying to capture this little jig with my camera. It is so glee-ful. I got a smidge. Just look how happy he is in the yard!

Oh, Oinky. Did you see it? Man. That pig.
I hate to admit it, but I am enjoying his antics MUCH more now that he can be outside. Maybe I can make it through the spring. Maybe I said.
Here are some still shots of the beautiful day Atlanta is having today. My car said 75 degrees. I wanted to cry.

Erin, Er Bear, a.k.a The Sweetest One

It seems my sister thinks I don’t love her. Oh, not Emily. Its the other one. Erin.

To sum up my sister Erin in one word… precious. She is the sweetest girl you will ever meet. She is sensitive and kind. She is always the mediator, and often between me and Emily. When my family talks about Erin, she is referred to as “baaaaaabeeeeeee.” I guess she is the baby. Even though she and Emily are twins, they are very different. They are both my very best friends and they are so, for many different reasons.

This is my sis. She’s special.

I had to screen shot that off Facebook. It looks like she is saying her name. I think its too funny to change it.

She really is one of the kindest people on earth…. just look at that smile.

She will love this one…

Oh, and definitely this one…

She’s a pal that’s always there to give you a “cheers”… apparently.

Now these, these are truly golden.

Here we are in Emerald Isle, NC circa… 1992? Oh, that’s her on the left. You get it, right Er?

Look at this precious baby around the age of 6. Mom didn’t know she’d be making a 1990’s cameo.

Erin was also a fantabulous cheerleader. Big “G” little “o” GO GO GO GO GO!

Now, this is the sweetest. Thank god I have this preciousness in my gene pool. She wins (and Emily too). They were the cutest children on the planet. If I ever have a baby 1/2 that cute, I will kiss it constantly.

My mother and I cried over this photo. I got teary eyed talking about her “noodle pony.” That just means her ponytail looked like a noodle. Ah…  precious. And she’s still just as sweet.

I love you sis.

Hot Sauce Shrimp

It was warm(er) today. It was warm(ish) yesterday. It gon’ be warm(like) tomorrow… and I have Spring Fever B-A-D. Uh! I can barely stand it. I am over winter. I am not a cold weather gal anyway and this winter has kick my butt, and my mood, to the curb. The past few days I have smiled more, thought more positively, and generally had a better look on life. Its amazing what a looming Spring can do.

I cooked this a while back, but seeing it again made me think about shrimp, which made me think about Savannah, which made me think about summer, which made me think about no work, which made me think about bikinis, which made me think about the gym, which made me panic…. uh oh. I went a few too far. Let’s go back to thinking about summer. I know its months away… but its always on my mind.

I am also terribly sick of my winter food. I want seafood. I want corn. I want to want to eat outside on my patio! I JUST WANT TO GRILL!!!! Is that too much to ask?

So here is a recipe that is still completely appropriate for this time of year (boo) but gives you a little taste of what’s to come, Spring and Summer (yay!).

Its hot sauce Shrimp y’all.

I started by peeling and deveining about 20 or so shrimp.

Hello summer.

Then I heavily sprinkled some Tony Chacere’s Cajun Seasoning on them.

I minced 4 cloves of garlic.

I heated up a skillet with a swirl of Canola Oil and added the garlic once the oil was hot.

I cooked the garlic until it began to turn golden. This is when it starts smelling good too.

I chopped a sprig of fresh rosemary and added it to the skillet as well.

Here are the ingredients that will make this dish truly special (I am not sure that “truly special” is a “cool” way to talk about a recipe… but I aint erasing it).

According to the pictures I am still sprinkling in rosemary. You can do it all at once.

Then I added in the shrimp. I cooked them on one side until they turned pink.

Then I flipped them to the other side until they were pink. Total cook time of this was less than 1 minute.

Then I removed the shrimp to a plate nearby. See you soon.

Add in 1/2 a cup of Amber Beer. I used Kirkland Beer. Did you know that Costco made beer? Its not too shabby. But I do feel weird about drinking beer that has the same label as bf’s socks.

I shook in a good amount of hot sauce (hence the name “Hot Sauce Shrimp”). I use Louisiana hot sauce. Its my favorite. Its approximately 7 or so tablespoons. Then I added in 7 or so tablespoons of Worchestershire sauce.

I squeezed in 1/2 a lemon to the mixture as well.

Then I brought it all to a boil and let it bubble for about 8 minutes. The sauce will significantly thicken up during this time and get all… saucy. I couldn’t think of another word.

I removed the pan from the stove eye once the sauce looked thick enough. I whisked in 6 tablespoons of cold butter and once the butter melted into the sauce, I threw the shrimp back in.

*As a side note, I added in onions and celery to the dish as well. I had them going in their own pan while the shrimp and sauce cooked. You could add in cooked potatoes, carrots, or any other veggie you’d want. I just had these on hand.

The shrimp needed to cook all the way and it took about another 3 or 4 minutes. Once the shrimp were cooked and covered in sauce….

I scooped the shrimp into bowls and served alongside some crusty bread.

The shrimp were hot, tangy, buttery, and delicious.

This recipe really added some pizazz to my dinner rotation. If you are feeling “Springy” give Hot Sauce Shrimp a try. Don’t forget the bread. You will want it to sop up that delicious sauce!

Ingredients:

20 jumbo shrimp, deveined
Tony Chacere’s Cajun Seasoning, or any cajun seasoning
1⁄4 cup canola oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 sprig chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1⁄2 cup Amber beer
7 tbsp. hot sauce
7 tbsp. worcestershire sauce
1/2 a lemon, just the juice
6 tbsp. cold butter
Crusty bread

Directions:

Heat a large skillet over medium heat until hot. Meanwhile, put shrimp and creole seasoning into a bowl; toss to coat. Set aside. Add oil and garlic to skillet and cook until golden, about 1 minute. Add rosemary and cook for 2–3 seconds. Add shrimp and cook, flipping once, until it starts to turn pink, about 30 seconds. Transfer shrimp to a large plate; set aside. Add beer, hot sauce, worcestershire, and lemon juice to skillet; stir well. Cook, stirring, until thickened, 7–8 minutes.

Remove skillet from heat; whisk in butter. Return shrimp to skillet; toss to coat. Return skillet to medium heat and cook until shrimp are cooked through, 2–3 minutes. Transfer shrimp and sauce to 4 deep plates. Serve with chunks of crusty french bread for dipping.

*If you want to add in some veggies as well, cook them separately and add them end at the end when you add the shrimp.