Thursday, November 12, 2009


Last week was Hubby Hotness' Birthday!

Since he's a pretty low-key fella, I try not to embarrass him too much. Birthday gatherings for him are usually about the food and presents. I had sent out an evite the week before. Now don't get me wrong, I love handmade, creative invitations, but I am also an ARDENT fan of the evite! They are just so perfect for really large gatherings.

The girls decided we had to have a steak cake for him. More on this below.

We made a weekend out of it for him:

Friday (his actual birthday): Birthday presents were awaiting him on the table (IBC Cream Soda, pepperoni sticks, a singing birthday card) when he woke up, along with a birthday banner. Also, an IOU for this:

If it were up to me I would have gotten him an IPhone, but I suppose I should let him pick out his own phone for his birthday!

Then he got breakfast made by our daughter and I. That night we went to the South Texas Maize. So fun! Here are some of their pics:


and my girls' favorite thing there:

This crazy bouncing pillow they bury in the ground!

Saturday, we had family & Church events, but Hubby Hotness did manage to sneak off to get that phone. A funny story about that: that night we were going to dinner at my Dad's to see my Uncle Kent. We were on our way when HH's phone rang for the first time since he bought it. He picked it up and stared at it for A LONG TIME. Finally I asked, "Why aren't you answering it?"  A quiet pause....followed by..."I don't know how."  HAHAHAHAHAH 

Sunday, we had his big party. Food, folks & fun:

EMPANADAS - you can't go wrong with these and one of HH's favorite foods.

Here's my recipe:

-1 small onion
-5 lbs. ground beef (not lean, you need some of the juices)
-tomatoes. You can use fresh or diced (2-14 oz cans).
-6 hard boiled eggs, chopped
-green olives (5 oz/sliced)
-Cumin, salt & pepper to taste
-Empanada discos (dough circles) can be found at international stores. They come in packages of 10 or 20. Thaw them out before using them.
-Dice onion & saute w/olive oil.
-Add ground beef and slow cook on medium until browned.
-When the ground beef is almost done, add diced tomatoes, eggs & olives.
-Add seasonings.
-Cook until fully done.

-Lay out your disco on a light dust of flour. Have a cup of water on hand. -Dip your finger in the water and wet the outer rim of the disco. Place a spoonful of meat filling in the middle. Fold the top half over the bottom and press down the edge. You can either fold over the edge on top of itself or use a fork to press the edge down. It will make a decorative edge in the process. (This probably sounds confusing. I can send you a picture if you'd like.)

-Whisk one egg and brush the tops of the empanadas for color and moisture. Use more eggs if needed.

Bake at 450 for about 15 minutes or until golden brown.

(makes 65-80 empanadas, depending on how much you stuff them. HALVE the recipe if you need to.)

FABADA - Spanish Asturian stew/soup - SO FANTASTIC! We first had this when we traveled to the Asturias in 2008. It was some of the yummiest food I'd ever had. The locals make it with blood sausage though, and I just couldn't bring myself to do that. I used the recipe from The Hungry Cyclist.  It was easy, and I'm not a great cook, so that means something.

This recipes serves four hungry cyclists...
  • 500g of Asturian fabes (dry broad beans)
  • 2 Asturian blood puddings/black pudding will do
  • 2 or 3 threads of saffron
  • 50g of ham chopped into small cubes
  • 2 Asturian cooking chorizo chopped into slices 
  • 200g of bacon, diced 
  • a good glug of olive oil
  • paprika
  • salt
  • parsley 
1. First you need to soak your fabes in cold water for eight hours. if you are using fresh beans you only need do this for an hour or two.
2. Drain your fabes and put in a large, shallow pot and cover with two inches of fresh water. Cook until they come to the boil making sure to skim any scum that gathers on the surface.

3. Heat your oil in a pan then add it to the pot. Add the saffron too.  Add the bacon and ham, trying to make sure that they go to the bottom, in order not to break the fabes during the cooking process. Leave them to cook for about five minutes with the lid on than skim once again.

4. Now add the chorizo and black pudding.  Boil for another five minutes still skimming any nasty scum that comes to the surface again. 

5. Now all the ingredients are in the pot you can relax.  Over a low heat with the lid on cook for about 2 or 3 hours. Have a glass of tinto and check the pot every now and then to make sure the fabes are covered with water at all times. If the sausage and black pudding poke above the surface it doesn't matter. 

6. Locals in Asturias will top up the pot with cold water, which they claim gives the beans a firmer texture. They will also shake the pot in order to avoid any sticking to the bottom. 

7. Once the beans are tender let the fabada stand for 10 minutes so the stew thickens and then serve garnished with chopped parsley and wash down with plenty of Asturain cider. 

I love the way the Argies & Spaniards eat their salad. Simple with some olive oil & vinegar.

Here are some lovely people:


PS. Don't forget that cake! 

A rib eye steak. I should have gotten a shot of the inside: red velvet.

PSS. A couple of other recipes because you asked:

Tortilla chip, soy milk cornbread

WHAT?! You're asking? Well, Hubby Hotness is lactose intolerant, so I subbed the milk for regular soy, but then I realized too late (like after the craving had hit) that I had no cornmeal. Like I've stated before, I'm not a genius in the kitchen, so I Googled "cornmeal substitute," but seriously, how can you substitute CORNMEAL IN CORNBREAD? Until I saw that someone had actually used tortilla chips, smashed into the tiniest pieces. HH LOVED it! I used this recipe from

Golden Sweet Cornbread

Prep Time:
10 Min 
Cook Time:
25 Min
Ready In:
35 Min

Original Recipe Yield 1 - 9 inch round pan

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 2/3 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Spray or lightly grease a 9 inch round cake pan.
  2. In a large bowl, combine flour, cornmeal, sugar, salt and baking powder. Stir in egg, milk and vegetable oil until well combined. Pour batter into prepared pan.
  3. Bake in preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean.

Potato Peel Pie
For real! It was GOOD!   

I belong to this darling book club, started by my super, cute friend Grigg-so named for the adorable character from The Jane Austen Book Club. Check out her blog:  Last month, we read this book, and I wasn't able to go. I repented of this great sin, and brought this last night. Here's the recipe I used from cookeatshare:

Prep time: 30 Minutes
United Kingdom British
Cook time: 35 Minutes
Servings: 8 servings


  • 2 cups raw, grated potato skins (I added some of the white part to keep the texture somewhat tender), use mashed potatoes for filling
  • 1/3 cup grated onion
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 3 Tbs flour
  • beetroot
  • sour cream (optional)
  • chives (optional)
  • butter (optional)
  • garlic (optional)


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Butter a small pie plate. Mix grated potato peels with egg, onion and flour. 

Press the mixture into the pie plate and up the sides to form a crust. Bake crust for 20-25 minutes. While the crust is baking, cook potatoes, drain and mash. You can add your favorite mashed potato flavorings here i.e. garlic, onion, milk, butter, salt, etc. Fill crust with mashed potatoes and sprinkle with beetroot. Bake in oven at lower temperature of 375 for 10 minutes or until browned.

Whew! Sorry for the long post. Hope you enjoyed it! 

(And Ellice, how is it that I somehow became a member of the former Bunco group without you being there? That is laughable and sad at the same time!)

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

October & Halloween

Did you all have a fantastic Halloween? Ours was pretty good! A bit more low-key on the actual date than the rest of the month but all good. Here you go...

I love holiday decor, and we made these at our Super Saturday, a craft class that was put on by the Relief Society of our Church-The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The first festive gathering we attended was the Texas Renaissance Festival. I.LOVE.THIS.FESTIVAL! These people play it all out, and I can seriously appreciate that. You feel like you've gone back in time when you step on the grounds. I will cover the Texas Renaissance Festival more in the future. One of my favorite fall parties!

The rennies are probably the ultimate Halloweeners.

While near Houston, we decided to stop by and visit some friends (The awesome Wirthlins) & family, including our cool cousin Michelle. She is the lead singer of Look Alive and fabulous all around. If you're nearby, check out one of her shows:

Then in quick succession was our Sleeping Beauty party, followed by my brother's birthday (you see when you have 6 brothers & sisters, 9 brother & sisters-in-law and 10 nieces & nephews, there are a lot of birthdays), Church Trunk or Treat, school Halloween Party & then Halloween.

Look at my son's darling costume! I saw it on Grosgain's blog and thought it was perfect and timely since I was getting frustrated at my Prince choices. Everything I found for this age was a frog with a crown on its head. grrrr. This was easy and wonderful, and here's the link to the Martha tutorial.

Ah, those of you that really know me will appreciate this shot, an oldie but a goodie!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Starting Out with Sleeping Beauty

So the title for this blog comes from my dear friend Gail who often comments to me that I'm "all about the party." It's just a hobby, I suppose. My husband thinks it's pent up creative expression from when I used to work in the film industry. Who knows, but it's good fun, and it makes me happy when a party that's supposed to go from 4-6pm lasts until 8 because everyone is having a great time!

Princess Turning Three
So my youngest daughter just turned three. When I asked her about a month ago what kind of party she wanted she requested a mermaid party. ??!! A mermaid party in October? I know it's Texas, but even here swimming wouldn't be fun unless the pool was heated. BUT I looked into it. (I even looked into renting a hot tub!) I checked out kid swim schools, aquatic centers, even hotels, but the problem was her age group. They all either had to be potty trained or wear these special swimmers that were not the regular kinds you get at the store. What's a mother to do? Nothing, let fate take care of itself, and with that the Disney deity showered down in a timely manner: Sleeping Beauty. Now my daughter is everything Aurora, (thankfully) and here are the results:


I love invitations! It's probably my favorite part of party planning, and I think it's one of the most important elements. If you have a great invite, people get excited about your gathering.

The Entrance through the thorny hedge

Too bad I didn't get a picture before the knights claimed the hedge for their armory! :)

After conquering the thorny hedge all princesses & knights collected their royal jewels & swords.

Then it was time for crafts - wands & shields - and lots of eating. I forgot to take pictures of the food, but we had food fit for a kingly feast: sausage & hot dogs on a stick w/rolls, beef stew soup bowls, apple dumplings, veggies & dip and chocolate pudding in a cone. YUM!

All along there was lots of playing.

Then it was time for cake & presents.

Needless to say everyone was tired out that evening.

Well, that's it. First post; I hope you enjoyed it. I'll add some oldies but goodies as I go along. And any of my friends out there who remember some of our past gatherings, remind me, so I can add them too!