Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Fish Tacos: Fast and Easy (Just like Josephine)

Need a super quick meal that will wow your family, friends, or coworkers? Need something that want break the bank? Try the fish taco! Its exciting, delicious, and not-the-everyday-ordinary meal.


2-4 pieces of any type of fish you like - Mahi Mahi (By FAR my favorite, but on the expensive side), catfish (for the southern folks, or a never-fail tilapia. (*Typically it will take 3 pieces of tilapia for 2 people...who eat at least 2-3 tacos a piece.)
lemon juice
lime juice
salt & pepper
lettuce (I like romaine)
feta cheese crumbles
Tabasco sauce (if desired)
salsa (if desired)
your favorite shredded cheese (if desired)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line baking dish with foil. Lay fish down flat and cover with 1/2 tablespoon of lemon juice and 1 tablespoon of lime juice. Sprinkle finely chopped cilantro and a pinch of salt and pepper on top. Bake for 6-10 minutes, based on thickness of fish. (Tilapia bakes really fast!)

Remove from oven and flip fish. Sprinkle with more lemon juice, lime juice, salt, pepper and cilantro. Return to oven and finish baking. Based on thickness of your fish, it should be another 5-10 minutes. (If you want to broil or grill the fish, it can speed up the process.) Remove fish from oven and chop in big chunks. (I usually just take a spatula and chunk it up.)

Then you just dress your taco! I usually lay my tortillas flat on a plate with a bit of shredded cheese on top, and microwave for about 30-45 seconds. Then I pile on fish, lettuce, and feta cheese. I like things hot, so I top with salsa and Tabasco sauce.

Suggested Sides: Spanish rice, black beans, chips and salsa, or refried beans. Also good with grilled summer vegetables like squash and zucchini.

Wine Pairing: If you really want to choose a wine....something like Fetzer Gew├╝rztraminer. You want it to be light and somewhat sweet. Chardonnays are also good. But honestly....try a Corona Light with a wedge of lime! Nothing like beer and tacos! : )

ALSO GOOD - My shrimp tacos!

A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes....

Shortly after I moved to Fort Worth in 2002, my sister and her husband planned a move there as well. We were all relocating for educational reasons, and just so happened to be settling in the same city. When Lynn and Dan came from San Francisco, they wanted to buy a house in one of the older, historic neighborhoods. I remember spending hours driving around looking at all the beautiful houses that skirted the edge of downtown Fort Worth and dreaming of one day owning my own home.

Off of 8th Ave, aka McCart, aka Summit, aka Cleburne (Which eventually turns into Weatherford and Belknap because TX streets change names a lot)…right off of that multi-named road is a neighborhood called Ryan Place. One of the more affluent residences in Fort Worth, Ryan Place reeks of old oil money and southwestern charm. (Texas is, after all, southwestern, not southern. We will save that soap box for another day.) Through the large Greek style columns of the entrance, lies Elizabeth Boulevard, home to Mediterranean and Georgian style homes that are as beautiful as they are large! It is a beautiful neighborhood, and one that inspired a dream 7 years ago.

While we were touring this neighborhood, I noticed one reoccurring attribute almost more than I did the grandeur of the homes. A red front door. Not just on one, but home after home was adorned with this striking feature. I saw all of the houses with the red front door, and immediately fell in love. I knew ONE DAY I would own a home and I could have a red front door.

Fast forward 7 years, and I do own my own home. In fact, it’s a beautiful little three bedroom, two bath brick that is just around the 1500 sq. foot mark. (Though, some of my friends swear it is bigger. I think the interior paint and open floor plan deceives the eyes.) It’s a starter home, and it’s just for me and the two cats, but it is beautiful, and I love it. When I moved in my dad was talking about some of the things we could do to make it a little nicer. Touch up the nicks and nail holes inside, put a new coat of paint on the exterior siding and columns, new fixtures and new hardware here and there. There wasn’t much that needed to be done.

But then it struck me! This is MY house! My very own place that I pay for and can do what I want! No more white walls in every room (like my parents). No one telling me where to hang what picture and that something may or may not be too girly for their tastes. This is MY HOUSE! I want a red front door!

I have now lived in my house for 7 months. So far I haven’t done much be update the fixtures in one bathroom, decorate, and re-do the front flowerbeds. Nothing too big or drastic. But its time for a change! It’s time to finally make my home, MY HOME! So, with that in mind, I’m painting my front door red! Finally, I will have what I have always wanted, a home, my own home, with a beautiful red front door!

** On a side note, I didn’t know how much significance was behind having a red front door. I discovered this when I googled red front door looking for a photo to include with my post. But so you know….red doors are popular and significant. It’s actually Feng Shui concept that represents prosperity, fame, and love. It also represented homes that welcomed visitors during colonial times. Now…granted…in Ireland, a red door signifies the house is paid for. I still have 14 more years to go before I can claim that. But…I think the red door will suit me very well!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Christmas in July

In the spirit of Christmas (and the fact that some Michael Buble Christmas tunes came across on my iPod this morning) I thought I would share a couple of family recipes that are near and dear to our holiday hearts.

When I was a kid I grew up baking these candies with my grandmother and aunt before Christmas. I have so many wonderful memories of standing in my Mamaw's kitchen making candy...swatting papaw's hands away from the fudge bowl. (He was a self-declared taste-tester.) We made all kinds of holiday treats like divinity, fudge, chocolate-covered EVERYTHING, haystacks, and two of my favorites, both listed below. The memories of those days spent in the kitchen will remain with me forever! Some of the recipes will as well! I hope you enjoy!

Martha Washington Balls

2 (1-pound) boxes powdered sugar
1 cup butter, softened
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
2 cups flaked coconut
2 cups finely chopped pecans
1 pkg. Chocolate Almond Bark (for dipping)

Directions: Combine powdered sugar, butter, sweetened condensed milk, coconut and pecans together, mixing well. Roll into 1-inch balls and place on a waxed paper lined baking sheet. Chill. Melt chocolate almond bark in double boiler. Using a wooden pick, dip candy balls into chocolate and place on prepared baking sheet. Chill until chocolate is firm. Makes about 4 dozen candies.
Note: Try toasting the coconut for additional crunch and scrumptious flavor!

Buckeye Balls (AKA Peanut Butter Balls)

12 oz. peanut butter
1 stick butter
1 lb. confectioners sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 pkg. chocolate bark

Directions: Mix sugar, butter, peanut butter, and vanilla together. Make into balls and chill. Melt chocolate in double boiler (or saucepan over boiling water). Stick toothpick in balls and dip into chocolate. Cool on wax paper.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

My book to-do list....

I used to love hanging out at the bookstore when I lived in Fort Worth. I'd grab a Starbucks, browse the sale section, and just walk around and people watch. For some reason, I haven't done that since I moved, so today I decided to head over to Barnes and Noble on campus to see what they have. I found three new books to add to my collection that were all bargain priced for $5.98. I love when B&N has a sale!

Here is my literary to-do list:

Currently reading - Swapping Lives by Jane Green
Finishing up a book on tape (from my travels) - Everyone Worth Knowing by Lauren Weisberger

In the que:
Baby Proof by Emily Giffin
Second Chance by Jane Green (I really like her books!)
The Penny by Joyce Meyer and Deborah Bedford (Christian lit - Which I wasn't a fan of until I read Redeeming Love. I am NOT terribly fond of Joyce Meyer, but this actually sounded good.)

I have started these and just need to get back into them:
Sex God by Rob Bell
The Shack by William P. Young
Next book on tape for driving - The Guy Not Taken by Jennifer Weiner

That should keep me busy for a while. And yes, I am known to be reading more than one book at once. I have to keep my options open....Or maybe its because I have commitment issues. Ha!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

I bake caramel delights

I don't care what you think. I love Taylor Swift!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

My first six months....

Since I have been putting off this blog entry, and since I'm confronting the past this weekend (not in a bad way), I thought I would go ahead and bite the bullet and get this over.

On June 30, I "celebrated" (?) my sixth month anniversary of returning to Mississippi. The day passed by without consequence (of course), but I did take time the following days to reflect on my decision. So, here are the top three questions I have asked myself. In no particular order, of course...

Was the decision right?

Yes, I truly believe it was. For some odd reason, the Lord turned my heart last fall. I started desperately missing home, and knew it was time to go back. Then this job opened up and fell in my lap. It was a very good career move for me, and I have been blessed immensely since arriving. I have a beautiful home, I was able to pay off all debt (except for the house...only 14 more years to go), and I am close enough that Will doesn't think Aunt Sheri lives in a computer anymore. (Skype does make the world smaller!) I know the Lord led me here and has me here for a reason. Yes, the decision was right.

Has it been easy?

Absolutely not! The job was a crazy, hectic start, but I feel as if I have settled in now. I have adjusted to not having shopping or favored dining choices nearby, but the flip side is I am saving more money than ever before, which is important because now I have all kinds of taxes and mortgages, and all that great stuff to pay. (Apartments are way cheaper...but I LOVE my home!)

The thing I struggle with most, though, is the lack of social events in my life. I had a lot of friends in Fort Worth. I really don't have many here in Mississippi, which is why I go home to Jackson most every weekend. I mean, its okay that I don't have a lot of friends, but it still kind of a bummer. I'm so used to planning parties, hosting parties, attending parties, dining out with friends, dining in with friends, and just hanging out and watching TV. Here, I do that about once a month.

Most of you old friends with say, "What? *gasp* The little social butterfly herself has nothing to do?" But, its true. Where do you meet folks when you are 29 and working? I am DEAD SET on keeping my work and personal life separate this time (long story), so nothing there. My church is small, and there really aren't many folks my age that aren't married with kids. Tennis has produced some friends, but only those I meet on the courts a couple of nights a week. So....the community aspect is slow going in my life.

Would you change the decision you made?

No. I told you I thought it was right. And the parts of Fort Worth I miss I will either just get over or they will come in time. (Like the friends thing...hopefully!) I really do love living in my little small town. Its cute, its quaint, and because it centers around the largest university in Mississippi, it actually has some culture to it. The people here are really nice, and I do really LOVE my job! I think I will make a life here, but then again, I said that about Fort Worth as well. But for now, this is my home and this is my life, and I'm happy. Which is all that really matters isn't it?

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Happy 4th!!!

For those that don't know, the 4th of July is one of my most favorite holidays of the year. I love everything about it, and am so looking forward to a nice, southern 4th at the farm.

There are tons of great ideas for desserts around this time of year as well. I thought I would post some links to give you some ideas. Here are two posts from last year on Sweet Miss Sheri Ann's, and one from a blog I like to read.

Hostess with the Mostest

My July 2008 creation

My July 2008 ideas

This year, Lauren and I discussed making the Patriotic Cookie Pizza. Looks yummy, huh?

1 roll (16.5 oz) Pillsbury® refrigerated sugar cookies
1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup powdered sugar
2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
2 cups fresh raspberries
1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
1/4 cup apple jelly, melted

1. Heat oven to 350°F. Spray 12-inch pizza pan with cooking spray. Cut cookie dough into 1/4-inch slices; place in pan. With floured fingers, press evenly over bottom to form crust.
2. Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until deep golden brown. Cool completely, about 25 minutes.
3. In medium bowl, beat cream cheese, powdered sugar and lemon peel until fluffy. Spread over baked crust. Arrange raspberries in large star shape in center. Arrange blueberries around raspberries. Drizzle or brush with melted jelly. Refrigerate until set, about 30 minutes. Store in refrigerator.