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Friday, January 22, 2016

Food Friday: Cumin-Cilantro Sauce

We first had this amazing sauce while on vacation in Broken Bow, Oklahoma. The restaurant where we sampled it wouldn't give the recipe to us - a bit of experimenting solved the mystery.

Enjoy it on pasta, fish and poultry. YUM.

Cumin-Cilantro Sauce
  • 1 c. honey
  • 1/4 c. olive oil
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 2 t. cumin
  • 2/3 c. chopped pecans
  • 1 bunch cilantro
Combine ingredients. (I got to use my new handheld blender. Yay!!)

Blend until smooth.

Serve and enjoy!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Getting Our Landscape in Order

We've finally done it - we have a landscape plan for the front yard!

It will be a few months before we have the cash in hand to pay for the work that needs to be done -  removing our trees, tilling the yard, repair/install the irrigation system, installing sod and installing the new decorative landscape.


In the meantime, we've taken advantage of warmer winter days and cut down a bunch of the trees and shrubs in the backyard that need to go. While it will be a while before we have a plan designed and installation done back there (no one can see it in its pitiful state, thank goodness!), the trees were harming the foundation and the shrubs were half-dead. By removing them ourselves, we've saved quite a bit of money in the eventual project.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Dinner at Whiskey Cake

I love Whiskey Cake - both the dessert and the restaurant where I first enjoyed it. After I had lunch there for the first time several years ago, I knew I had to come back with Kelly.

It's just a shame that it took four years to find a time to go together!

The menu changes seasonally:

But it always features delicious cocktails.

We ordered fried green tomatoes and mesquite-grilled mussels as our appetizer. Both were delicious but Kelly and I agreed that we'd happily order the mussels again, but add a salad to make it a stand-alone meal.

We split the OMG Burger - Onions, Mushrooms and Goodness. They brought it to us on separate plates, very convenient. The house-made potato chips were amazing.

We finished with an order of whiskey cake - get the whipped cream on the side and dab the amount you want as you go.

In case you're wondering, it tastes like this. (This is a very happy satisfied over-the-moon face.)

We also had a bit of fun with the general manager, Tanner, comparing a couple of bottles of classic whiskey. The Colonel Taylor is surprisingly excellent!

Tanner, you're excellent.

Kelly agrees.

At this rate, we almost missed our movie. Almost, not quite.

Speaking of excellent, our server Chad was great. Ask for him when you go in for brunch, lunch or dinner. He knows the menu inside and out and is just a really nice guy.

Kelly couldn't believe we waited so long to go for dinner. It's now on our rotation of places to enjoy around town!

Friday, January 15, 2016

Food Friday: Gluhwein

We were first introduced to glühwein while at Fritzl's for dinner with friends. It's essentially a German mulled wine.

I'm sure every family has their own version - here's what we now make at home.

Original recipe here

  • 2 medium lemons
  • 2 medium oranges
  • 10 whole cloves
  • 5 cardamom pods
  • 1 1/4 c granulated sugar
  • 1 1/4 c water
  • 2 (3") cinnamon sticks
  • 2 (750 ml) bottles dry red wine, such as Cabernet Sauvignon or Beaujolais Nouveau
  • 1/2 c brandy

Use a vegetable peeler to remove the zest from the lemons and oranges in wide strips, avoiding the white pith. Place the zest in a large saucepan. Juice the lemons and oranges and add the juice to the pan. Place the cloves and cardamom in a small piece of cheesecloth, tie it tightly with butcher’s twine, and add the bundle to the saucepan. Add the sugar, water and cinnamon sticks, place the pan over high heat, and bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Reduce the heat to low and continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is reduced by about one-third, about 20 minutes. Add the red wine and brandy, stir to combine, and bring just to a simmer (don’t let it boil). Remove from the heat and remove and discard the spice bundle before serving.

We kept our glühwein warm all day in the crockpot and enjoyed a steaming mug-full as we snuggled on the sofa watching holiday films.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

How to Donate a Tube TV

Slowly but surely I'm clearing the game/craft project room - it's lived the past 4 years as a dumping ground. For a woman who is anti-clutter, it's a downright embarrassment.

I'm not going to post a photo of the room. Not happening.

Anyway, one thing that I determined must go was our old tube television. We replaced it with a nice flatscreen soon after we moved into the Hayley House in 2009. We kept the old television upstairs, unsure if we were going to do something special with that room that could use the television.

Six-and-a-half years later, we paid off the house and were still storing a tube television. Enough was enough.

So I started exploring how to get rid of it. 

I tried giving it away on Craiglist. The television stand garnered plenty of interest but the television didn't.

I thought about throwing it away, but it's against the law to put it out for trash collection as the tube is an environmental hazard.

My city allows for electronic recycling, but there was a $25 fee associated with the recycling. The fee isn't outrageous - I'm sure it's applied towards the cost of mitigating the hazard.

What I noticed, however, was that there was a free option: Deliver the television to one of the city's approved recycling partners. In Plano, that was Best Buy.

I didn't want to pay a fee - I was trying to rid myself of the thing and didn't feel predisposed to pay for the privilege - so I opted to take it to Best Buy.

I'd forgotten how heavy tube televisions are. Oh my gosh. It was a chore to get it downstairs. The thing was heavy, awkward to carry and our home has pre-installed furry cat trip hazards. 

Once I got it downstairs and into the car, the next hurdle was getting it out of the car and into a shopping cart at Best Buy. I recommend using the pallet carts instead. I used the "Find a nice strong man walking by in the parking lot to help you" method, which worked well for me but that's not always convenient.

From there, I just took the television inside and a helpful clerk took the television from me at the door. Easy-peasy, recycling complete!

My recommendation is that you carefully research your municipality's guidelines for disposing of a tube television. There's nearly always a free option if you want one.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

For You, Taste of Poland

Who knew that Polish food has so many commonalities with German and Russian food?

(Maybe anyone who thinks carefully about the back-and-forth history of Eastern Europe.)

Even so, I found the food at Plano's For You, Taste of Poland to be both delicious and familiar - just what I like in homestyle comfort food.

But on an even more "who knew" front, did you know that I'm now writing monthly for Plano Profile magazine? Each month, a colleague and I visit one of Plano's "Hidden Gem" restaurants. Our goal is to showcase the wide variety of food available in Plano as well as the many different cultures that call the city home.

Check out our review of For You, Taste of Poland in the January issue of Plano Profile by clicking here.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Road Food: Kellys Family Farm Stand

Grass fed beef is really good for you. Finding it is a bit more of a challenge.

When I learned that a local family not only sells grass fed beef, but also sells burgers out of a trailer on their ranch, I knew we had to stop.

Kelly Family Farms is about 20 minutes from our house (and less than 15 minutes from our offices - dangerous!). It's little more than a wide spot on the side of the road, but there are plenty of picnic tables and places to park.

If you choose to stay to eat rather than taking to go, each table offers a good view of the countryside. In a growing metroplex, that's tough to find and makes eating there a better choice nearly all the time.

You can have a burger or you can have a cheeseburger. I like keeping things simple. You can also get onions and jalapenos - and you can choose to have those fresh or grilled. I like having options. And by the way, you should always choose to grill if you can...much more flavor that way. But if you don't, I won't judge you. (Too much, anyway.)

There are even "facilities" on site if you need them. Ahem.

Kelly Family Farms was a super fun stop for a burger and we're happy to have a nearby location to buy ground beef when we need it. That's a win-win in our books!