Saturday, July 28, 2012

Baked Sweet Potato Wedges


Most people find me strange.  Let me explain.  I use to despise sweet potatoes.  During the holidays when sweet potatoes are covered in brown sugar, and marshmallows I still can't stomach them.  I know this is not normal...Most people love them, and fill half their plate with them.  Usually {I don't want to be rude} I take a tiny bit, and do my best to scrape all the sugary goodness off of the potatoes. With all this being said, I discovered I loooove sweet potato fries.  Absolutely love them.  I can eat the fries plain, or on occasion I add a little ketchup.  Stop judging me, I ask for A-1 at fancy steak houses. When Tall Tan Man was in town a couple weeks ago I made him sweet potato wedges with a {Garlic Apple Cider Vinegar Pork Tenderloin}.  I was pretty proud of myself.  Mostly for the fact that I made something real for dinner, and didn't feel the need to make dessert.  Both of these doesn't happen often, and I am pretty sure I made TTM take me to fro yo after.  Okay, sorry for the rambling.  :)  This recipe was a perfect amount for TTM and I, and you can find the full recipe {here}.  Serves 2.5.  I am pretty sure I ate more than a normal serving...

Ingredients:

1 large sweet potato {leave the skin on for the nutrients} 
2 TSP oil
1 TSP sugar
1 TSP salt
1 TSP onion powder  
* Maybe a pinch of pepper {if it makes your heart happy}

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 450 - 500 degrees.  The hotter the crispier.  

2.  To slice the sweet potatoes I cut them long ways {hot dog style, if you don't understand that I am deeply saddened}, then down the middle {hamburger style}, and then finish by cutting the wedges AS THIN AS POSSIBLE.  Thinner = Crispier, which is what I like. 

3.  Combine sugar, salt, and onion powder in small bowl. Set aside.  

4.  Place a cooling rack on a rimmed cookie sheet.  

5.  Toss the wedges in a large bowl with the oil.  Use your hands this is mandatory, and make sure wedges are all equally covered.  Sprinkle mixture over wedges.  Trust me, use your hands again, this will make things easier.  

4.   Lay wedges on a cooling rack.  Bake for 10-15 minutes, or until top side is well browned.  Remove baking sheet from oven, and flip wedges.  Bake for 10-15 minutes.  Allow 5 minutes of cooling time!


5.  Best step.  EAT & ENJOY.  


Have a fabulous weekend!  

{Leslie}

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Jewelry Wall

Happy Sunday to you!  I am currently sitting in my parents living room, because if I am being honest I miss living with them... I know that is silly for a 26 year old to miss living with her parents, but I do. There is something comforting about my Dad talking to the TV, my Brother napping on the couch, and my Mom is reading the paper.   This last week I had a couple projects, and one was organizing my jewelry. 


 It was difficult to get really great pictures, because my jewelry wall is in my bathroom {no windows}.  So please bare with me.  :)  My earring and bracelet rack {left} is made from a frame which I removed the painting from, and found for under $10 in a Flea Market.  Inside the frame I used expanded metal that is from my Granddad's shop, and he cut it for me.  I believe you can find this at Home Depot.  I used S hooks to hang the bracelets.  


I knew I wanted a shelf, but could not find one I loved that was the right size.  I got this book from my Grandparents house, because I thought it was pretty.  Not because I planned on reading it... To make this you will need a book, L brackets, masking tape, and gorilla glue. 

1.  Tape pages together.  



 2. Glue brackets facing upwards.  Allow plenty of time for the glue to dry.  


3.  After brackets are secure, glue the covers to the taped pages.  Allow plenty of dry time.

4.  Secure shelf to wall.  You will only be able to use two screws, because the others are covered by the book!


The last project for my jewelry wall was a necklace rack. 

To make this you will need a board, 2 picture hanging brackets, super glue, 3 knobs {Hobby Lobby on sale!}, and fabulous necklaces. 

***Make sure when you buy the knobs you can remove the screw from them.  You will want the back flat.  

1.  Decorating your board.  I randomly had a board saved for this moment...


First I painted the board black.  I wanted stripes, so I taped off 1 inch stripes. 

Paint the stripes white.


I wanted a somewhat worn look, so after pealing the tape off I sanded a bit.  

2.  Attach your 2 brackets to the back.  Make sure they are far apart so your board will not move when you take necklaces off.  

3.  Place 3 marks where you want your knobs to go, and super glue them on.  Make sure you use plenty of glue, and allow lot of time for them to dry!

Hope ya'll have a great week!  I will be headed to Sugar Land/Houston on Thursday so if you have any breakfast/lunches/church suggestions please let me know! :)

{Leslie}

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Garlic Apple Cider Vinegar Pork Tenderloin {oven}


 

I do on occasion cook real food, especially when Tall Tan Man is around.  He for some reason he thinks that cereal is not a sufficient dinner.  I don't get it.  Anyway, I do enjoy cooking, and I have really no excuse {I am a teacher on summer break} to not use my time to make something delicious to make my man happy.  :)  My friend made a similar Pork Tenderloin at a summer BBQ. You can read about it {here}.  I used the same {recipe}, but did change a couple things.  I do not have a grill so I cooked the tenderloin on the stove top and in the oven.  There was not a big difference in taste to me using the oven verses the grill. This serves 2. 

Ingredients:

1 pork tenderloin, about 1 1/4 lbs
3 cloves garlic 
1-1/4 tsp salt
Pinch of pepper
1 TBSP apple cider vinegar*
1 TBSP olive oil

*Apple Cider Vinegar is what I had in my kitchen.  I think you could use red wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, or whatever makes your heart happy {within reason, of course}.

Directions:

*Visit link above for grill directions.  

1.  Make marinade by combining garlic, salt, pepper, and vinegar in a bowl.  Rub marinade all over pork, and refrigerate overnight.  I did not have this much time...My tenderloin only got 6 hours of marinading, and it was still fabulous. 

2.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

3.  Heat olive oil in pan over medium high heat {if you have a pan that can go from stove top to oven then use it}.  Add tenderloin and allow each side to brown.  I rotated many times to make sure each side was getting dark enough, because I was missing the grill factor.  

4.  Move pan to oven.  Cook for about 20 - 30 minutes or until the meat thermometer reaches 160 degrees.  This will all depend on the thickness of your tenderloin.  Allow tenderloin to sit for 10 minutes before serving. 

 
 

I served this pork tenderloin with a {Strawberry Spinach Salad} that I added avocado to, and baked sweet potato wedges {recipe coming soon}.  This might of been the first time Tall Tan Man went back for seconds...

{Leslie}

Sunday, July 15, 2012

NEW YORK CITY

I need to start this post with a somewhat embarrassing confession... I am addicted to Gossip Girl.  If you don't know what that is, {whew} just know it is a show that takes place in New York City.  While visiting Tall Tan Man in Jersey, I had New York City on my mind.  I had gone here on a church trip back in the summer of 2001, but really wanted to see the city again.  We did not get into the city until the afternoon, because of some stand still traffic we sat in for a couple hours.  This really helped Tall Tan Man get excited about our day of sight seeing.  After a brief subway advice from probably the rudest lady I have ever encountered {#misstexas} we headed to Times Square.   


We pretty much walked in circles, and tried to take funny pictures:



We ended up just getting weird looks...I am glad I have someone I can be weird with :)  Up next was Central Park. 



A very nice New Yorker took this picture for us which helped me start to think my subway experiecne was just a fluke.  We then headed to Isabella's.  This was recommended to me by {The Stimson Chronicles}.  This was was excellent authentic Italian food, and the feel of the restaurant was so cozy.  You should not go here if you are wanting an intimate meal {we weren't, but I wanted to warn you}.  I got to over hear many conversations... My favorite was a guy asking the girl he was with if he was looking fat...she said no...he said "okay, I will get the pizza" hahaha Maybe you had to be there? 
 

Next was dessert.  I bet you could guess where without looking at my next pictures.

 SERENDIPITY, of course.  Ever since watching John Cusack fall in love with Kate Beckinsale I knew I needed to go.   I was so excited to try...

Frozen.

Hot. 

Chocolate.


Frozen Hot Chocolate...wipe the drool of your face Leslie...what does that even mean?  Frozen & Hot?! More like...Chocolate Heaven.  Holy Moly.  Tall Tan Man had the wonderful job of documenting this experience. 



My thoughts starting from the left: 1) I finally get the try frozen-hot chocolate, gotta get a good pic for the blog  2) I am not sure I know how to handle this  3)  here we go...first taste, this is crazy... frozen & hot consistency  4)  please, please, please...don't let this ever end!!!   If you are ever in New York City I definitely recommend Serendipity!  I will mention that there is an $8.50 minimum per person.  The frozen hot chocolate was $8.95, therefore Tall Tan Man was forced to get something sweet {the world is ending}. 


The first and last place we saw was Ground Zero.  It is still hard to believe that is has been almost 11 years since 9/11.  When I was in New York City the first time it was the summer of 2001, and both towers were still prominent in the the skyline.  



Seeing this was a harsh reminder that there are bad people in this world, and there are so many people still affected by what happened.  If you lost someone that day, my heart hurts for you.  If you are serving to protect our country, thank you.  If your loved one is serving to protect our county, thank you.   


{Leslie}

Friday, July 13, 2012

The Perfect Vanilla Ice Cream



Last week I made my Grandmother's fabulous {Chocolate Sheet Cake}, and like usual I served it with Vanilla Ice Cream.  I had some free time, so I decided to put my ice cream maker to work.  Thanks to my Mom I have the Kitchen Aid Ice Cream Bowl Attachment.  I love it, and totally reccomend it! 


Well, soon is now.  I love this recipe, because it is so simple, easy, and takes few ingredients.  I used {this} recipe from the Food Network chef, Alton Brown, with some minor changes.  Here is what you need:


As you can see this is not a low calorie dessert.  I think all my hanging out at the pool is burning enough calories to compensate...

Ingredients:

2 cups half and half
1 cup whipping cream
3/4 cup sugar*
1 tsp vanilla

* I have never had the thought, this dessert is too sweet, but my Tall Tan Man did say this ice cream was a little too sweet for him.  He also could go a month without dessert, and not bat an eye.  With all this being said, you can reduce the sugar to 2/3 cup if you would like.  

Directions:

* Unfortunately, this is not a "spur of the moment" recipe.  Make sure you have 20ish hour to make this.  No, you will not be working the entire time...

1.  In a medium sauce pan bring half and half, whipping cream, and sugar to a slight boil {medium heat}.  If you have a candy thermometer this is 170 degrees.  Make sure to stir occasionally, and be very careful not to burn mixture!

2.  Remove from pan.  Stir in vanilla.  

3.  Allow mixture to sit for a little while before placing in an air tight container.  Refrigerate overnight.  Also, make sure you are taking proper steps to get your ice cream maker ready.  I have to freeze mine overnight.  :)

4.  In the morning-ish, make your ice cream according to your ice cream maker directions.  *if you are using the KitchenAid attachment make sure you set mixer to stir before pour the mixture in.  

5.  Once ice cream is done, place in freezer safe container.  I froze my ice cream for 8 hour before serving.  If you don't have this much time your ice cream will still taste phenomenal, but it wont scoop quiet like I have pictured.


I wish I still had some left...


Hope you are having a great summer!!!  I am enjoying this ridiculously "cool" Texas summer.  :)

{Leslie}

Monday, July 9, 2012

Baseball Groupie {Camden, NJ}


The last stop on my trip visiting Tall Tan Man was his home ballpark in Camden, NJ {this post is a couple weeks delayed}.  The ballpark is really nice, and I love how Ben Franklin Bridge is directly behind the outfield wall.  We didn't spend much time in Camden {if you want to know why, google the city} besides going to the ballpark.  


I am a lucky girl.  Camden is right between Philly and Cherry Hill, which both had a lot of things to do.  Of course I found a fabulous bakery, Classic Cakes. 

Our favorite restaurant for the most important meal of the day is: The Silver Diner.  Tall Tan Man might be mad at me for putting this picture up, but I cant help it.  He is just so darn cute.  ;) 



I bet you didn't notice that he already has food on his fork.  I bet he is thinkin: Woman, you better take this picture quick.  I am hungry, and you really don't need more pictures of us eating.  I am glad he loves me.  The Silver Diner had fabulous food, and most of the food was locally grown.  


Philly was right across the river from us, and it was a easy subway ride {I don't think it is called a subway...}.  You can't really beat $2.80 for a round trip.


Out in Philly shakin' our grove thang. 


One night we went to eat Mexican food at El Vez in Philly.  I was somewhat skeptical of Mexican food in the North East...coming from Dallas I know what good Mexican food is.  El Vez did not disappoint me.  Thankfully, because our bill was $70 {I even got soup}. 


We I had to have something sweet after dinner. 


My last full day we visited "the shore."  I was disappointed that I did not see Snooki, but pleasantly surprised on how nice the beaches were.  It really reminds me of Gulf Shores.  I wish I would of known that the beaches were nice sooner, because I might of asked to go more.  :)



Right before I said my somewhat tearful goodbye, Tall Tan Man and I had breakfast at Sabrina's in Philly. 




Oh goodness it was good.  By far my favorite breakfast place in the north east.  I had a Frittata, and TTM had a burrito.  We also split whole wheat pancakes {whole wheat means zero calories right?}.





I adore him...


I am sorry if my baseball journey posts are boring you. I only have one more promise!  Have a great week!

{Leslie}

Friday, July 6, 2012

Chocolate Sheet Cake


This Chocolate Sheet Cake is not just another recipe to me.  This is the recipe my Grandmother used when I was growing up.  To be honest I am not sure if this is her original recipe.  After doing some searching online I found a couple {pioneer woman's included} that  were very similar, but none that were exactly the same.   Hands down this is my favorite chocolate cake, and I might even go as far in saying this is my favorite chocolate dessert.  My Grandmother passed away in 2008 of Alzheimer's, and you might think your Grandma is the best cook in the world but your wrong {I admit, I am a little biased}.  I have so many memories of my Grandmother, but the ones that stand out the most involve food.  Either in the kitchen or around the dining table.  It is hard not having both of my Grandmother around.  I would like to think they would help domesticize {yes, that's a word} me, and be there when I can't figure out what I am doing with me life.  I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do.  :)  Here is what you will need:  

Cake



Cake Ingredients: 

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tsp soda
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten
  • 1 stick butter
  • 4 TBSP unsweetened cocoa
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup water

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and grease sheet cake pan.  

2.  In a large bowl, sift together sugar, flour, and salt.  

3.  In another bowl combine buttermilk, soda, vanilla, and eggs. 

4.  Using a sauce pan bring butter, cocoa, oil, and water to a slight boil. 

5.  Add chocolate mixture to the flour bowl, and stir until smooth.  This allows time for the chocolate to cool down before adding the eggs :)No one wants scrambled eggs in their cake.


6.  Add buttermilk mixture, and stir until well combined.  

7.  Pour batter into cake pan, and bake for approximately 30 minutes. 

Now go put your feet up!  You just worked really hard making the most deliciously perfect cake.  With about 10 minutes left on the timer I start making the frosting.  You will want to frost the cake while it is still warm.  

Frosting




Frosting Ingredients:

  • 4 cups powder sugar
  • 1 stick butter
  • 3 TBSP cocoa
  • 1/3 cup half and half {or evaporated milk, whoops...I wasn't going back to the store for half and half}
  • 1 tsp vanilla

1.  Measure your powder sugar into a medium mixing bowl, and set aside. 

2.  Bring butter, cocoa, and half and half to a boil.  Add vanilla and stir. 

3.  Pour chocolate into powder sugar, and whisk until smooth.  

4. Ice cake warm. 


You might want to think about serving this with some yummy vanilla ice cream...


I would be trouble if I didn't tell ya'll that I went to be bed with a stomach ache the night I had this...It is hard to practice self control with Grandmother's Chocolate Sheet cake.  I didn't care, it was sooooo worth it!

{Leslie}
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