Green Goddess Dip

I am really excited to share this recipe because it’s one that I have never tried before…until now…and it’s really, REALLY tasty!!!!

Ask anybody who knows me, I find a recipe and make it my own. I also rarely use measuring cups or spoons, except when baking. To this recipe, I used the zest and juice of three lemons to make a thinner consistency. The original recipe calls for 2 tsp zest and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. I do not particularly enjoy the taste of tarragon, so I omitted it and used more parsley. For really green dip, I added 3-4 drops green food coloring. You decide. Whatever you choose, it’s going to be delicious.

3/4  cup  sour cream
1/2  cup  firmly packed fresh parsley leaves
1/2  cup  mayonnaise
1  green onion, chopped
1  tablespoon  firmly packed fresh dill leaves
1  tablespoon  firmly packed fresh tarragon leaves
2  teaspoons  lemon zest
1  tablespoon  lemon juice
1  garlic clove
1/2  teaspoon  salt
1/4  teaspoon  pepper
Garnish: fresh dill sprig

In a blender or food processor, combine all ingredients and blend until smooth. Pour into a serving bowl and garnish with fresh parsley or dill.

I am serving this bowl of delicious-ness with potato chips and crisp vegetables. This dip is good on everything – from boiled shrimp to fried chicken strips!


Operation Bathroom Overhaul – UNDERWAY!

Day 1: What were we thinking?!?!

Demolition of the master bathroom remodel official began today. What did we get ourselves into? Juan, our main remodel guy, arrived at 8:45 am with his brother-in-law, also named Juan. Kevin and I have nicknamed them Big Juan and Lil’ Juan. The main Juan is big and tall, a.k.a Big Juan. The other is small and short, a.k.a Lil’Juan. These two men worked their tails off today. The bathroom has been completely gutted: the tile floor is gone, the vanities and countertops are now on the back porch, and the former shower and two walls have been removed. WOW!

After lunch, Big Juan and Lil’Juan got settled into their routine and Kevin and I left on a spend-lots-of-money-mission. It was highly successful. Very. Successful. Have you purchased bath fixtures lately? Holy crap – and we got them at contractor’s price!!! I’m not complaining, just stating the facts.

Our first stop was to Fort Worth Lighting. It has a fabulous showroom with a huge selection of light fixtures in every size, shape, and finish. I must say, though, how excited I am about choosing brushed nickel because everybody and their cousin has oil-rubbed bronze. We had to go into the back room of the back section of FWL before finding the fixtures that suited our tastes. Go figure. Kevin and I found items we liked and purchased them in less than 45 minutes. Our salesman, Chris (who was excellent and very friendly), said a couple had been in the store for more than 4 hours. Somebody shoot me!

I have to say, I am not a very girlie-girl but when I saw the sconces that matched the light-bars we selected, I was feeling like one. I thought about it for a second and said, “yes!” and bought the pieces. The countertops will be light, the cabinets will be stained a dark walnut, and the wall color is a dark blue. With all the square corners, I wanted some curves (and femininity) and these sconces are just perfect – I love them, and frankly I don’t care if somebody disagrees. It’s our bathroom!

Light fixtures are purchased and we were able to bring home the 3-light and 4-light bars that will go above the vanity sinks. I will go to their warehouse tomorrow for the exhaust fan and recessed lighting canisters. The sconces will arrive next week.

Big Juan told us to purchase water fixtures at Winnelson, so we did. I had a collection style from Delta already in mind before we arrived, so it was fairly easy to get our items ordered. We were also able to get our tub, which is a Jetta model. We briefly considered the whirlpool option, but I’m pleased with the deep “soaker” model. The tub is a gigantic 6-feet-long, 3-feet-wide, and nearly 20-inches-deep. I might need to get a pair of arm floaties if I decide to “swim” in this thing. It also saved me about $400.00 – which I quickly spent on faucet fixtures!!! All in all, I am very pleased with our selection and I think our bathroom is going to look amazing when complete.

The picture above is actually from Delta’s mini catalog but it has the roman tub faucet we selected and very similar materials we are using in our bathroom. The tub will be white, the countertops will have a light granite, and the cabinets will be stained a dark walnut. I think the brushed nickel looks awesome!

Here’s a sneak peek at the demolition progress Big Juan and Lil’Juan made today – it’s quite impressive:

Enter the Remod-Zone

I am speechless - I cannot believe our bathroom has transformed this much in such a short time. The former shower was very small, but removing two walls makes space for a shower that's 6-feet-long.The toilet will be rotated and face the tub.


The previous tub was an eye-sore, as was the generic white tile. All of that is now gone. The new, larger soaking tub will be six-feet-long and centered in front of the picture window.

This area has received a major overhaul and I am anxious to see our custom cabinets from Mario. The cabinet height where the sinks are located will be higher than the counter where I will sit and put my makeup on. I especially like the sconces I chose to flank the built-in above the cosmetic area.

You want to know the crazy part of all of this…I am cool, calm, and collected. Even crazier is the fact we are hosting a New Year’s Eve party at our house this Friday evening. They will just have to excuse the mess, because I don’t feel bad about the carpet pad trail leading from the back porch to the master bedroom or the plastic drapes over the furniture in the bedroom. I’m feeding these people, if they want a bed there are two others to choose from!

Happy 2011 everyone – mine is getting off to a really great start. I am very, very blessed!!!

Looking ahead for 2011

I know it’s a bit early to post, but I’m thinking about 2011 and the goals I want to accomplish…and the habits I’d like to lose. Go ahead, call these my resolutions, but don’t fuss when I fall off the wagon, because it’s going to happen!!!!

Here goes nothing:

  1. Don’t make unrealistic resolutions for 2011 – just getting that out-of-the-way early!
  2. Lose weight – isn’t this on every resolution list, I want to be politically correct
  3. Successfully pass the PPR exam for my permanent teaching certificate in Texas
  4. Contribute the maximum amount to a Roth IRA account
  5. Tithe $5,000 to my church, First United Methodist Church in Joshua
  6. Participate in a domestic mission trip (planning to attend two mission trips with the youth group at FUMC Joshua)
  7. Participate in an international mission trip (planning a trip to Haiti in August)
  8. Sign a contract to teach…for year number two!
  9. This is out of my control, but I would like to have a classroom next year!
  10. Complete a Bible study
  11. Continue my book blog and read 30 books in 2011 (I attempted this in 2010 but only read a third of my goal because of situational circumstances – new role at church, full-time teaching – but I love to read and I am committed to reading as many books as possible.)
  12. Remodel our master bathroom
  13. Replace the carpet throughout our house (just three bedrooms)
  14. Replace countertops in kitchen and utility room
  15. Keep my house clean(er)
  16. Host a few get-togethers throughout the year (i.e. New Year’s Eve, Super Bowl, Fourth of July, or just because we want to see our friends)
  17. Develop 5 blogging skills that I never knew
  18. Travel to a state or country I’ve never been to
  19. Go to Kentucky at least twice
  20. Participate on a building team for Habitat for Humanity
  21. Send birthday and anniversary cards to at least 50 people
  22. Send Christmas cards (I usually do this, but did not in 2010 and I got harassed by all my friends – so I am committing to getting this done in 2011 so people will be nice to me)
  23. Eat at the Brownstone Restaurant in Fort Worth (executive chef Casey Thompson was a finalist on Bravo’s Top Chef)
  24. Dinner at Eddie V’s in Fort Worth
  25. Romantic weekend getaway for our 4th anniversary
  26. Tour “Jerry’s World” – also known as Cowboys Stadium – in Arlington, Texas
  27. Purchase a new couch and finish decorating the living room and entryway
  28. Continue blogging with Mrs. H and 27 & Counting
  29.  Try a new recipe once a month for an entire year…and post the recipe and results on my blog
  30. Donate to a charity or non-profit organization

total eclipse of the heart

In case you live under a rock, there was a lunar eclipse last night – the first since 1628 – and I witnessed the rare event with two very special friends: Kimberly and Rob. We stayed up until 2:00 am to watch the eclipse, but it was worth it. After a country-style breakfast (pancakes and bacon), the three of us spent the rest of the day outside enjoying the sunny skies and warm 86° weather. It doesn’t feel like Christmas, but anytime with friends is a good time. Rob is visiting friends and family in Texas before he returns to duty in Honduras with the U.S. Army.

It’s been a very busy weekend, including the youth group’s progressive dinner Sunday evening. I did not realize how ravenous teenagers could be. Kevin and I prepared 10-pounds of chicken fajitas plus homemade guacamole and all the trimmings, there was not a crumb left on the platter when the 19 youth and 6 adults left our house!!!!!

Yummy fajitas with Kevin & Nicole


Thank you, Genesis Youth, for my beautiful ornament and gift card!!!

Gearing up for another eventful weekend: Kevin and I depart DFW this Friday and are flying to Kentucky. We’ll spend the long weekend with friends and family in Louisville and Sebree, Kentucky. I am definitely looking forward to the extra family time. We return next week and immediately begin to prepare for our second annual New Year’s Eve party. I am looking forward to ringing in 2011 with friends again.

Mushroom Quesadillas

I am beginning to prepare the menu for our New Year’s Eve – Bring In 2011 party and this is definitely at the top of the list for an appetizer. I love when I am bored and flipping through a magazine and find a recipe I want to try immediately. I especially love the fact it can be assembled and baked to serve throughout the night. I know my friends will love this one!

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound portobello mushroom caps, sliced
1 package (16 oz) baby spinach
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1 romaine lettuce heart, sliced
8 flour tortillas (8-inch-size)
4 oz. goat cheese, crumbled
1 cup salsa or salsa verde

Preheat oven to 425° F. Line 2 large cookie sheets with foil. In a large saucepot, heat oil on medium. Add mushrooms, cook 5 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. With slotted spoon, transfer to medium bowl, discard liquid. To same skillet, add spinach, cook 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in 1/4 teaspoon salt. Transfer to bowl with mushrooms; discard liquid.

Arrange 4 tortillas on cookie sheets; top with spinach mixture, add goat cheese, green onions, then remaining tortillas. Bake 10-12 minutes or until tortillas are golden and crisp; rotating cookie sheets between upper and lower racks halfway through baking. To serve, top with romaine lettuce and salsa.

*Recipe courtesy of Good Housekeeping, December 2010

Shrimp Scampi

Rich. Silky. Flavorful. Delicious.

Having a dairy allergy has its drawbacks, but fortunately there are milk-free products that I can easily substitute into traditional recipes. It seems like forever since I’ve had shrimp scampi, but this recipe turned out pretty well. I admit to not paying close enough attention to the ingredients and used too much pasta (I used the one-pound box entirely), so I made about a quarter-cup more sauce at the end. It still turned out delicious. Enjoy!

3 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
6 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
3/4 pound large shrimp, shelled and deveined
1/3 cup dry white wine
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
3/4 pound angel hair pasta, cooked

Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil and 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic and cook 1 minute. Add shrimp and cook 1 minute on each side. Stir in wine, lemon juice, salt and pepper; cook 2 minutes. Stir in parsley and remove from heat. Add pasta to shrimp in skillet and toss to coat; stir in remaining butter and oil. Serve immediately.

*Recipe courtesy of Family Circle magazine, October 2009

27 Candles & a To-Do List

I celebrated my 27th birthday yesterday – happy birthday to me! – and I woke up this morning groaning because my house is a mess and I’m expecting a house-full of company tomorrow evening for a progressive dinner. If that Fairy Godmother really exists, I wish she would visit my house with a magic wand.

I wish this woman would bring her Magic Wand to my messy house.

I am the youth director at my church and the junior and senior high youth groups (about 20 teenagers) are expected to attend the annual progressive dinner event tomorrow evening. We have four courses being served at four different locations around our small town…Kevin and I are providing the entrée portion, we will serve chicken and beef fajitas with all the trimmings plus homemade guacamole. I’m looking forward to this but there’s just one problem: my house is a mess – literally! I’ve been talking for two weeks that I need to clean, but my motivation is below noticeable on the radar. I unloaded the dishwasher earlier, does that spark any interest?!

Actually my to-do list is not all that long. I just need to:

  1. clear (completely!) the dining room table and spread out the new snowflake tablecloth

  3. clear the coffee table in the living room with all the junk mail and Christmas cards that I will probably save and send next year (please don’t ask, I’ve been very busy lately)
  4. load the dishwasher (again!) and wipe down the stove, oven, and countertops
  5. scrub the toilet, sink, and tub in the hall bathroom
  6. dust all visible surfaces in the dining and living rooms
  7. vacuum in the kitchen, dining room, entryway, and living room
  8. set the table with snowman plates and cups and put forks in a decorative basket
  9. mop the kitchen floor
  10. hang the Christmas wreath on the door
  11. light some candles and appreciate the reason for the season: the birth of Jesus Christ!!!!!!

Shrimp with Ginger Sauce

In a small saucepan, cook 3/4 cup apricot preserves, 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger, and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt over medium heat, stirring until melted, about 2 minutes. Place 1 pound peeled and deveined large shrimp (about 16) on a rimmed baking sheet, drizzle with 3 tablespoons the apricot sauce, and season with 1/4 teaspoon each kosher salt and black pepper. Broil until browned, about 3-4 minutes. Serve with the remaining sauce.

*from Real Simple magazine, August 2010

Goat Cheese Empanadas

Using a 3-inch round cookie cutter, cut out 16 circles from two refrigerated rolled piecrusts. Divide 4 ounces fresh goat cheese among the circles. Lightly dot the edges of the dough with water, fold in half, and press with a fork to seal. Bake on a rimmed baking sheet at 375° F until golden, approximately 20-25 minutes. Serve with 1 cup store-brought corn salsa.

*recipe courtesy of Real Simple magazine, August 2010

Red Velvet Brownies

The Coastal Chicster is my blogger hero and this post is dedicated to her. I wish I had an ounce of her fashionista-ness, but I will keep my comfy ways as I sit here in my sweats and t-shirt. She loves me regardless.

For those who might not know, I have a severe allergy to cow’s milk. Unfortunately, I cannot have this recipe as posted. Luckily, I can substitute my soy-based products for the milk products and happily rejoice in Nicole-ville just the same. I am sooooo looking forward to trying this recipe. If the brownies turn out half as good as the picture in the magazine, I am going to be one happy fat girl!!!

1 bittersweet chocolate bar (about 4 ounces), chopped
3/4 cup butter
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 bottle red liquid food coloring (1 ounce)
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
Cream Cheese Frosting
Garnish: white chocolate curls

Preheat oven to 350 F. Line bottom and sides of a 9-inch square pan with aluminum foil, allowing 2-3 inches to extend over sides; lightly grease foil. Microwave chocolate and butter in a large bowl until melted and smooth, about 2 minutes, stirring at 30-second intervals. Whisk in sugar. Add eggs, 1 at a time, whisking just until blended after each addition. Gently stir in flour and food color, baking powder, vanilla, and salt. Pour into prepared baking pan. Bake at 350 F for 44-48 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs. Cool completely on a wire rack (about 2-3 hours).

Lift brownies from pan, using foil sides as handles; gently remove foil. Spread cream cheese frosting on top of brownies, and cut into 16 squares. Garnish with white chocolate curls.

Cream Cheese Frosting
1 package (8-ounce) cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoon butter, softened
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

*Recipe courtesy of Southern Living magazine, December 2010

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