Category Archives: TaMara

Coming Up For Air…

Summer walk

This is our new morning walk. I cannot believe how peaceful a walk by the stream could be after a hectic week of moving.

We are all moved in. My internet is up, my office is…workable…and boxes are piled everywhere. A new floor is on the agenda before unpacking is complete.

Good news is, I found matching shoes this morning, so I could leave the house and see my clients, without looking like a hobo.

Bixby has started to settle in. Starting with our morning routine of a walk before breakfast helped. The cats are still completely freaked and I’ll just have to let them adjust in their own time.

Okay, back to unpacking what I can. Just wanted to let you know I was still alive and kickin’.

Photos soon. Until then…. TaMara

4th of July: Fresh Salads

Jicama Slaw Final

Looking for something a little different for your cookout this weekend? I’ve compiled some fresh favorites.

I’m making my favorite slaw for this year’s 4th of July cookout. Jicama Slaw, recipe here.

You’ll find a great guest recipe here for Corn and Black Bean Salad.

And a fresh take on an old standby, Spring Potato Salad, recipe here.

Finally:Watermelon salad final

Watermelon-Cucumber Salad

I chose to use mint because it’s what I had handy, but I’ve seen it with basil or oregano and white wine vinegar instead of limejuice. For a spicier version, try limejuice and Pico de Gallo

  • 4 cups cubed seedless watermelon
  • 1 large cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced (if using unwaxed, no need to peel)
  • 2 tbsp limejuice
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • mint leaves, torn into small pieces
  • Pecorino Romano, feta or other similar cheese, cut into small chunks or crumbled

serving bowl

Add watermelon and cucumber to a serving bowl, drizzle with limejuice and oil, add mint leaves, then toss to combine. Refrigerate for 10-15 minutes, sprinkle with cheese just before serving cold.



 

Llama Llove

This should make you smile.

From the Houston Zoo:

Each morning, we clean out the stalls in the Children’s Zoo with a leaf blower. Our llama Fiesta runs right up to the keepers so she can enjoy the breeze!

I love llamas, they are smart and misunderstood.

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Happy Thursday!



This Week In Moving News…

Bixby Cooling off

I’m in charge of watering the yard at the new house, since the seller has moved out of state. Bixby is clearly enjoying it. I keep discovering all kinds of fun things while I’m wandering around the yard. Sweet, golden raspberries, concord grapes, a tomatillo, rhubarb…the list goes on.

The world is rushing at me, mostly with really good stuff, and I’m struggling to keep up. I suspect it will be that way until mid-July. I am also finding myself inundated by kind, unexpected deeds that have buoyed me at a time when it would be so easy to become cynical and disillusioned with the world. The house is almost a done deed, too, so I’m feeling hopeful.

I will try and have some July 4th ideas later in the week. But no promises.

I have one last hurdle and then I’ll feel comfortable saying the house is mine. Just don’t want to jinx it – though packing has started, the moving crew and truck are reserved and closing time is set.  But anyone who has gone through this knows there will be a flurry of paperwork between now and two minutes before close. I guarantee you there will be a celebratory post the moment keys are in my hands.

Until then…..



 

The New ‘Hood

Emma is not amused

Emma is not amused

I took Bixby for a walk in the new neighborhood tonight and he dragged me to our soon-to-be front door. We’ve only been there once before, but he sure acted like it was his house. Over the months I’ve taken him to most the houses we’ve looked at – and I walk him around the neighborhoods of the ones I’ve put offers on. He’s never had the reaction he’s had to this house. We could barely get him back in the car the first time we let him wander the yard and tonight there was a definite, “we’re home” vibe.

My real estate agent (my wonderful, awesome real estate agent) noticed it right away – even before I caught on – he was different at this house. She was convinced he’d picked it out as ours even before I decided to put the offer on it.

We’ve walked around this neighborhood several times in the past month, but mostly we explored the parks and trails nearby (there are many). Tonight, I figured it was time to park by the house and walk the neighborhood proper. Having Bixby has given me a great opportunity to get to know the neighborhoods of the houses I’ve been interested in. We met several neighbors tonight and I think if it continues to go as planned, we’ll be very happy here.

That’s the update. Keep those fingers crossed that the next ten days go as planned.  Cheers! – TaMara



Friday Recipe Exchange: Grilling Up a Storm

Bixby is 2 snap

Bixby turned two on Thursday and I felt that justified a Bixby Diaries post. So for the pet lovers, you’ll find lots of new and old photos, plus video of the Beast here. For the rest of you, it’s a grilling themed recipe exchange.

First up, Grilled Chicken and Papaya, recipe here. I noticed in the stores that mangoes were plentiful, and I can’t imagine why you couldn’t substitute – I would add a dash of lime to it all with mangoes.

Speaking of mangoes and papayas, how about Grilled Fish with Mango and Papaya Salsa, recipe here.

A couple of nice sides to round things out. But don’t think you need a recipe, fresh veggies from the garden, tossed in olive oil and grilled in a grilling basket can’t be beat.

Grilled Vegetable Salad, click here, can be a meal in itself or a hearty side.

Greek Grilled Potatoes, recipe here, are a nice, tangy change from regular potato packets.

What’s on the menu this weekend? Anything special planned for Father’s Day? What’s your favorite food to take out of the kitchen and make on the grill?

Flank Pinwheel Prep Final

Tonight, I combined two favorite recipes. I love the pinwheels because they are so showy (and tasty). I thought it would be a great recipe for Father’s Day weekend. Then I ran across my spicy sauce and thought, yum, that would work. If you don’t want spicy, here is the original Pinwheel Recipe. And if you don’t want pinwheels, here is the original Spicy Grilled Flank Steak recipe. I got you covered.

Grilled Spicy Flank Steak Pinwheels

Sauce:

ING-chili-garlic-sauce-2_sql

  • 1 tbsp chili garlic paste
  • 1 tbsp lemon zest
  • 1 tbsp ground ginger
  • 2 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • ½ cup orange juice

Pinwheels:

  • 1 lb flank steak
  • 8 oz sliced provolone cheese
  • 1 bunch washed and dried spinach leaves
  • 8 wooden skewers
  • olive oil

ziplock bag,

You can ask the butcher to butterfly your flank steak, which  is what I did. But it’s fairly easy to butterfly. You want the grain running up and down in front of you and then you’ll slice it in half, NOT slicing all the way through. When you’re done you’ll lay it open, flat, basically making a larger, thinner steak.

Image from Serious Eats

Once you have it laid out flat in front of you with the grain running left to right, you’ll want to tenderize it, pounding it thin.

Keeping it flat, place into a ziplock bag,  add marinade and coat completely on both sides. Marinate flat in refrigerator 1 hour. Remove from marinade and assemble.

Layer the spinach over the meat. You want it to be several leaves thick, because it will reduce as it cooks.

Next layer the provolone cheese slices, two to three slices thick, over the meat.

Now it’s time to roll.  Roll tightly in the direction of the grain. Add a skewer every 2 inches and then slice between the skewers, so you have 2-inch thick pinwheels.

Heat grill and oil grates well – alternately you can cook in a cast iron skillet (heat 1/2 to 1 tbsp of oil in it) on the grill. If using a gas grill – heat one side to high for searing, turn the other side to about medium to finish cooking. For coals – place coals toward center of the grill, leaving the edges cool for finishing cooking.

Add pinwheels to the grill, flat side down. After a minute, using the skewer (you may also need a metal spatula to get all the cheesy goodness) flip over, sear additional minute.  The usual method of waiting until the meat moves easily to flip will not work with this because the cheese is sticky. So just do one minute each side, it will be fine.

After the second side is done, move steaks off of high heat to the cooler grates  and let the steak finish for about 10 to 15 minutes for medium rare. These are thin and don’t need a lot of cooking time and you don’t want the cheese to burn.

Remove to a plate, cover with foil and let rest 10 minutes, so the cheese isn’t molten lava.

My steak made 4 large pinwheels.

That’s it for this week. I don’t know how many recipe exchanges I’ll have in me while I’m packing, but stay tuned. Have a great weekend! – TaMara



 

Bixby Diaries: I’m Two Years Old Today

Bixby is 2 snap

I’m not sure how that happened. Wasn’t he just this guy:

Bixby 2

And this guy:

But wait, there’s more! Click to read

Grilled Vegetable Salad

This works well as a side or a nice, fresh main course.

Grilled Vegetable Salad

  • 1 large red onion, quartered
  • 4 red potatoes, quartered
  • 8 oz baby carrots
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp rosemary, crushed
  • 1 tsp sage, crushed
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • 8 oz bag spinach leaves or spring greens
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp melted butter

serving bowl, large bowl, grilling basket or foil

Mix oil and spices, toss with onion, potatoes and carrots in a large bowl, until well coated. Place in a grilling basket or wrap in foil and grill for 20 minutes, stirring or turning frequently.  Mix together lemon & butter.  In serving bowl, add greens, grilled vegetables and toss with lemon butter

white-bowl-with-fresh-spinach-leaves



 

Grilled Chicken and Papaya

I’m thinking I’ll focus on grilling recipes this week. Start with something a bit different with some exotic flavors.  Serve over rice or couscous and add some grilled vegetables for a quick and easy dinner.

Grilled Chicken & Papaya

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp curry powder
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp pepper
  • 4 boneless chicken breasts
  • 8 button mushrooms, washed
  • 1 onion, cut into 8 wedges
  • 1 green pepper, cut into 8 pieces
  • 1 papaya, peeled, seeded & cut into 8 chunks
  • 4 large metal skewers (if you use wooden, remember to soak them first)

skillet

Heat oil in skillet, add curry powder and stir for 30 seconds, remove from heat & add lemon juice, water, salt & pepper. Cut each breast into 4 to 6 cubes. Thread on skewers: (suggested) mushroom, chicken, onion, pepper, chicken, papaya, chicken, pepper, onion, chicken, papaya, mushroom. Brush curry mixture on all sides of the kabobs. Grill for 10-15 minutes, turning frequently and basting with curry mixture.

papaya1



 

Friday Recipe Exchange: Memorial Weekend Grilling

Bourbon Chicken Appetizers

I was going to post the recipes I’d picked out for guests next week, but then realized it was Memorial Day weekend and decided to switch it up for that occasion. There won’t be a recipe exchange next week, we’ll catch up after that.

Starting things out, Stuffed Jalapeno-Cheddar Burgers and Sweet Potato Fries, complete menu, recipes and shopping list can be found here.

Grilled Potato Packets come in two flavors here.

Click here for Citrus Glazed Baby Back Ribs.

DSC_6256 [1600x1200]

Searching for rib photos this week, I came across several yummy recipes from JeffreyW (along with obligatory mouth-watering photo series).

Spare ribs (pictured above) are here.

Braised Baby Back Ribs are here.

Click here for Country Ribs

Each one has a different rub or sauce, something for everyone.

What’s on the menu for your holiday weekend? As with every year, my father and brother will be helping to put up the impressive display of flags around town (they are flags presented at a veteran’s funeral and donated by the families for display). What summer flavor are you looking forward to most? What are some of your favorite holiday weekend recipes?

Finally, tonight’s featured recipe:

Bourbon Chicken appetizers1

I have a bottle of very fine and expensive whisky in my house. I’ve been having fun experimenting with it in many recipes, finding it really brings out the flavors in beef and adds a complex appeal to chicken and desserts.

With this recipe, it’s all about the bourbon and bacon.

Grilled Bourbon Chicken Appetizers

12  servings

  • 1- 1/2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  •  1/4 cup chopped Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
  •  1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • Bourbon whisky (how much you use and what you do with the leftover is between you and your bottle)
  • 8 oz pineapple chunks
  • 12 strips of sliced bacon (should be a pound)
  • 12 short wooden skewers, soaked in water for 30 minutes before assembling and grilling*

Cut chicken breasts into 1-inch x 2-inch cubes, you should have 36 pieces (you can soak in bourbon if you like)

Mix together Chipotle peppers, brown sugar, cayenne pepper and add enough whisky and pineapple juice to make a thick sauce. Set aside about 2-4 tbsp for mopping during cooking. For the remainder, cover chicken cubes on all sides with the sauce and let marinate for at least 1 hour.

To assemble: Start with a pineapple chunk, add one end of full bacon strip, add chicken cube, then wrap bacon around the top of the cube and skewer, add another cube of chicken, wrap bacon around the bottom of that piece of chicken, then skewer, add a third and repeat with the bacon strip, you’re creating a ribbon with the bacon. Finish with a pineapple chunk.

Grill over medium high heat (if using coals, start over hot coals, then move away from direct heat for the remainder of cooking time), turning frequently. Add more sauce as desired. Cook until chicken is 160-165 degrees. Shouldn’t take more than 10-15 minutes, don’t overcook or you’ll have dry, rubbery appetizers. Serve hot.

*please don’t forget this step or all you’ll have for appetizers is flaming skewers.

That’s it for this week. I hope you have a safe and fun holiday weekend. But take a moment and remember those who have served – TaMara



Bourbon Chicken Appetizers

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