Fried Oreos and Keith Urban: Crispy Beef Tostadas

Spring break has sprung in Colorado and Grace and I took full advantage of it this past week. I guess that we are just gluttons for punishment because instead of hopping a jet for the beautiful waters of the Caribbean, we hit the dusty trail once again and drove to Texas. Don’t ask me what the fascination for car trips is these days, because I just couldn’t tell you. In addition to wanting to get away, this trip had a dual purpose. My mother offered to give Grace a desk for her apartment next year and driving down seemed to be the best way of getting it here. Like most women who love a bargain, and there’s no better bargain than free, we both jumped at the chance to take advantage of her generosity and started packing.

We got up bright and early Saturday before last and pulled out of the driveway leaving our men behind. Kevin’s spring break was the following week which was OK because he and Mark would rather take a stick in the eye than another road trip. Besides, we had big plans for our man-less trip. We could take as many bathroom breaks as we wanted and talk about make-up, chick flicks and Hollywood gossip for hours on end without any eye rolling or groaning from male passengers. For the next 1,000 miles, we were Thelma and Louise (without the murder and mayhem of course).

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Happy Valentine’s Day: Pan Fried Swordfish

When I was a child Valentine’s Day was just another in a long line of magical celebrations for me. In school art class we would decorate shoe boxes with bright red wrapping paper and glue sparkling glitter hearts all over it in preparation for our class party. I would leave mine on my desk top secretly praying that my school yard crush would put that one extra big card (that always came in the box of 36) in mine. I’m pleased to say that more often than not, all of my Valentine dreams came true.

I’m not sure when Valentine’s Day went pear shaped for me. One thing that I do know is that during my 20s I grew to really dread February 14th. I don’t know about the UK but, in the US the television and radio ads somehow made you feel like you were the only person in the country that would not be celebrating a totally romantic evening with champagne, roses and diamonds handed to you lovingly by a Brad Pitt look a like. Well, those ad campaigns only aided in convincing me that I was indeed the loser in love that I had already convinced myself that I was.

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Better Late Than Never: Popcorn Party Mix

When I started this blog earlier this month, the goal that I set for myself was to make a new entry every week. Well, you know what they say about the best laid plans. Last week, illness swept its way through my household and took us all prisoner. After a few pretty rough days, even though I am still nursing a 13 year old who is convalescing on my sofa, I am on the mend and ready to get back to work.

My friend Karen (also know as the unofficial Halloween Queen of the East Midlands) rang me today and we spent the best part of an hour solving the problems of the world. Somewhere between Barack Obama and shocking Facebook discoveries, Karen mentioned that this Halloween, not only is she helping out with her village’s children’s party, it is her turn at hosting the “Impromptu Friday Night” dinner at her house. I am truly honored to report that she will be serving my Creamy Chicken Chili. I can’t wait to hear the reviews on my recipe.

During the course of our conversation, the following recipes came to mind and I really wished that I had included them in my first entry. Oh well, they are so quick and simple, that I’m going to add them today. Hence my entry title.

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Brilliant Bonfire Recipes: Vegetarian Chili and Sticky Toffee Krispie Treats

I love the fall, I always have. As a girl growing up in Texas, the cold weather brought a new school year, which I truly loved, and the promise of a brand new holiday season. Halloween marked the beginning of the party fun. If you are a child in America, only the excitement of Christmas morning can surpass the thrill of Halloween night.

On Halloween, my mother would always mix up some sort of token beef mince dish, knowing that she would have to force us to eat every bite. After choking down our tea, and being granted parole from our kitchen table prison, my sister and I would run to our room and don our well planned fancy dress for the night. We would run down the street, ringing every doorbell in our path, filling our pillowcases (yes, pillowcases) with sweets. Upon our return home, we would pour our treasure out on the floor and spend the next hour sorting and cataloging. We were content, our dentist grew richer, and my mother secretly threw a handful away everyday until it was gone. Everyone was happy. Little did I know then, Halloween wouldn’t be the only fall ritual that I would be fortunate enough to celebrate in the years to come.

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A Very Special Day: Churros and Chess Pie

It is hard to believe that fourteen years ago today, my baby boy was born. My little warm, round bundle of joy, now looks me straight in the eye. His gigantic shoes are a constant potential hazard lurking behind a chair or, worse yet, at the top of the stairs. I now mistakenly hang his shirts in my husband’s closet. He is still my baby, but there’s just so much more of him to love these days.

Birthdays at our house are high holy days. Teenage social activities, errands and meetings are all put on the back burner for this one special night. I begin the order taking a few days in advance. No meal is too much trouble. I will even get out the oil and do a little deep frying if necessary. Kevin’s wish list for his special day consisted of churros for breakfast and chicken fried steak (a true Texas favorite) for dinner. In Kevin’s case, frying is always necessary.

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Diary of a mad dash to Nottingham: Stilton and Herb Spread

I find myself apologizing once again for the lapse in time since my last entry. I assure all three of my loyal followers that this has not been due to laziness but to the fact that I have been truly busy. Now, I’m not saying that I have been working on a cure for cancer but, between entertaining at Thanksgiving, my annual culinary discovery trip to England, and packing my daughter up for her holiday break from university, little time has been left for my precious little blog. Well, I have set today aside as the day to update my neglected project.

On December 4th I landed in Birmingham after layovers in both New York and Paris. It has been a long time since I visited JFK airport and I am here to report that I haven’t missed a thing. The airport was confusing and the personnel unfriendly. When I finally arrived at my gate, after hiking through outdoor construction carrying an overstuffed carry-on bag and a second trip through security, I was more than ready to say my good-byes to New York.

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Adventures in Traveling: Enchilada Casserole, Mexican Style Rice and Refried Black Beans

Enchilada Casserole, Mexican Style Rice And Refried Black Beans

The holidays are over and it’s time to get back to business. My children have gone back to school and I’m left with a refrigerator full of leftovers and a mountain of dirty clothes. I make it no secret that I love being a mother; so far it has been the best part of my life. I love being needed but slowly I am being nudged out of my children’s lives. My son is a big fellow now who can cut his own meat and pick out his own clothes. My daughter now lives at university and actually requests vegetables for supper on her visits home. If that’s not a sign of maturity, I don’t know what is.

My previously mentioned, beautiful, all grown-up daughter is in New York this weekend to attend a ball with her new boyfriend in honor of third year West Point cadets. I’m sure I drove her crazy helping her pack and giving her endless instructions on what to do in the unlikely event that the worst case scenario came to fruition.

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Home for the holidays: Creme Caramel and Hoppin’ John

It has been a very busy holiday season and I’m looking forward to getting back to normal for awhile. We made a flying trip to Texas from Colorado which, no matter how you slice it, is 1,000 miles of party fun in my car. Our children are big now so there isn’t much whining, but still a quite a bit of sibling sniping just to keep us on our toes. I have to say that despite the obvious road fatigue, I really enjoyed our trip because for two days straight, it was just the four of us again.

I am originally from south Texas. I was born, raised, met my husband, and had one of my two children there. My entire family still lives there and every few years we have to make this journey to quiet the ache in my heart. The ache was great this year because my niece had just given birth to twin boys and we couldn’t wait to cuddle with those two little guys. Needless to say, we weren’t disappointed. The boys are beautiful and I am amazed at the grace with which their mother handles this often overwhelming responsibility. My sister should be proud, of the young mother she raised.

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Weighing In: Salmon Baja Tacos

I started my diet today, so I ate two rice crispy treats to celebrate. As you can tell, I’m just hopeless. No willpower, no self control. You see the problem really lies in my love for food. I’m not a compulsive eater; I just can’t deny myself all that is buttery, gooey and rich. My second issue is that it is really hard to maintain a low fat, low calorie diet when I am trying to create a culinary masterpiece on a daily basis. In addition to this blog, I like to enter the occasional recipe contest. How can I possibly lose weight when the qualifying ingredients are usually some sort of refrigerated bread dough and an assortment of jams? I guess that’s why some of the prize money is so large, they must know that you will probably have to pay for liposuction after its all over.

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The Spice of Life: Pan Fried Chicken and Homemade Seasoned Salt

I’ve struggled with this entry for my beloved blog. I waited a bit and gave my family time to do something interesting that I could build my story on . . . no luck. Not a bag left on public transit, no stupid gifts, nothing, so I guess I’ll have to go back into the memory vault and pull something out.

When I talk with my friends about their families and memories of their childhood, I usually hear something like memories of baking cakes and cookies with their dear old blue haired grandmother by the warmth of a crackling fire. Normally, I am the first to admit that I didn’t have a great relationship with my grandmothers. My paternal grandmother was a very glamorous woman who lived a great distance from us and, was mostly absent from our lives. My maternal grandmother, who was a constant in our lives while growing up, although a great cook and baker, was about as cuddly as a porcupine. After this admission, the stories usually come tumbling out like a jailhouse confession. You see, I think that normal, cookie baking grandmas are the exception and not the rule. Don’t feel ashamed of your colorful background if you have one, celebrate it. Some of the best of us had one too.

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