Category: Gluttony, Greed and All That Good Stuff

Hello, My Name is Tara…

Saturday, April 12th, 2014


Green is Good

Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

Green has always been my favorite color.   My first car was British racing green, my college towels were hunter and I lived in sage painted rooms throughout my 20’s.

But I always gravitate towards the brighter green hues like kelly or emerald.  I dorkishly squeaked with excitement applauded Pantone naming 17-5641 Emerald as the 2013 Color of the Year.

With Spring in full bloom (yeah, I just said “Spring in full bloom.” Sorry.), I’m loving all the green I see.  Here are a few things on my love it/covet list:

Left to Right from Top:

Young House Love’s Painted Nursery Closet Door: How awesome is this unexpected splash of color?  The punches of green in this nursery are amazing.

Old Navy Maxi Dress in Green Scream: I need to shed some pounds, but I might go ahead and buy this in a Shortie Medium when it goes on sale…  Girlie’s gotta have a goal!

Kitchenaid Artisan Mixer in Canopy Green: Had this color been available when I got my mixer in 2008, I would’ve opted for it instead of red.

Converse Converse Chuck Taylor All-Star Seasonal Ox in Jungle Green: I could live in these.

Custom Pillow Cover by Look Here Jane (etsy):  Cute.  Affordable.  So many patterns.

Essie Pretty Edgy:  Might have to make this my next pedicure choice…

kate spade Southport Avenue Alessa in Emerald Green:  When I received a 25% Friends and Family coupon code, I snatched up this bag.  LOVE IT.

Charming Charlie Shimmery Disc Necklace: Nice and simple.

Höjdare Basket (IKEA):  Little. Green. Storage.

Waechtersbach Konitz by Waechtersbach – Set of Two Mugs
:  I wish I could have want one set in every color.

Green Adirondack Chair: Preppy chic.  Ya know, for your Hamptons house. 😉

Boom Boom Pow New Year’s Chow

Wednesday, January 1st, 2014

Just as turkey and stuffing are standard Thanksgiving fare, luck-laden black-eyed peas and pro$perity-bearing greens serve as our New Year’s Day must-have meal.

This year’s challenge was to make them tasty but kid-friendly, two things that provide difficult for parents with pro-spicy palates.   Before Emme, we cooked everything with cayenne, jalapeños and/or serranos.    After Emme, smoked paprika and minimal black pepper is about as “picey” as she gets.  I’ve learned to portion out Emme’s food before adding spice to a family meal.

The good thing is that she is a green vegetable lover, so this year’s meal was light on the peas, heavy on the greens.  Eh, I’d rather have money than lucky anyway! 😉

Here’s what I made.  Recipes below!











Stove-Top Black-Eyed Peas (adapted from Neely’s Recipe)

  • 2 (12oz) cartons of Pre-Soaked HEB Black-Eyed Peas (found in produce section)
  • 5 slices of Bacon, chopped (I use HEB Natural Nitrate-Free Uncured Applewood Smoked Bacon)
  • Mirepoix (3 medium carrots, 2 celery stalks and 1 medium onion – diced uniformly)
  • 3-4 minced or pressed Garlic Cloves
  • 3 Bay Leaves
  • 1/4 tsp Ground Cayenne Pepper
  • 8 cups Reduced-Sodium Chicken Broth (or Vegetable Broth)
  • LOTS of Ground Black Pepper (channeling Ree Drummond)
  • Salt to Taste (Optional – I don’t cook with salt much because of the kiddo; Plus, there’s sodium in the broth)
  1. Heat dutch oven or large crock over Medium-High heat.  Add bacon and cook 8-10 minutes to render fat. (Don’t eat pork? Sub oil.)
  2. Add Mirepoix until onions brown.
  3. Add Garlic.  Saute for 2-3 minutes, careful not to let the Garlic burn.
  4. Mix in Pepper, Cayenne & optional Salt.
  5. Add in Broth, Bay Leaves and bring to a boil.
  6. While singing either “Imma Be,” “My Humps” or “I Gotta Feeling,” (don’t even front – you know one!) add Black-Eyed Peas, return to boil.  Once boiling, reduce heat to Low and cover.
  7. Simmer for 3-4 hours.  It may take a little longer.  I cooked mine for 4 hours and they were slightly crunchy…not the mush I’m used to, but I liked them.  If you like yours fork-tender, cook longer.  If they’re not cooking fast enough, increase the heat to medium.

Now for the Greens.  I used EVOO today but often make these dishes with Grapeseed Oil.  It’s the same technique for all veggies:  trim/chop, cover with oil, season and roast. They can cook simultaneously in the same 400º oven.  Easy-breezy-beautiful Cover Girl!

Cayenne-Kale Chips (aka “How to Add a Kick With Something the Kiddo Won’t Have”)

  • 2 Bunches of Kale, Stems Removed and Chopped Coarsely (or 2 Bags of Trader Joe’s Pre-Chopped Kale if you’re lazy like me)
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Cayenne Powder to Taste
  1. Pre-Heat oven to 400º
  2. Place chopped Kale on parchment-lined cookie sheet.
  3. Pour generous glugs (yeah, glugs) of EVOO over Kale.
  4. Sprinkle Cayenne evenly over leaves.
  5. Bake 15-20 minutes until crunchy, checking frequently. (Kale can burn fast)

Kid-Friendly Smoked Paprika Oven-Baked Okra (Could eat this stuff like popcorn!)

  • 1 Carton of Okra (about 3 handfuls loose)
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Smoked Paprika to Taste (Or Regular Paprika if that’s what you’ve got)
  1. Pre-Heat oven to 400º.
  2. Trim ends from Okra and cut into 1/2″ rounds.
  3. Place Okra rounds on parchment-lined baking sheet.
  4. Pour generous amount of EVOO over Okra. (Glug it!)
  5. Sprinkle Smoked Paprika evenly over Okra.
  6. Bake 15-20 minutes until crunchy.

Kid-Friendly Roasted Garlic Brussels Sprouts

  • 1 Bag of Brussels Sprouts
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Garlic Powder to Taste (or 2-3 sliced Garlic Cloves if you’re feeling fancy)
  1. Pre-Heat oven to 400º.
  2. Trim Brussels ends.
  3. Place Brussels on parchment-lined baking sheet.
  4. EVOO glug.
  5. Sprinkle Garlic Powder evenly over Brussels.
  6. Bake 15-20 minutes until outside browns and inside is fork-tender.

NOW, for the fun part!  Grab a bowl, pour in a heaping ladle-full of Black-Eyed Peas.  Top with Kale, Okra and Brussels Sprouts.  Then, mix it all up!   If you’ve treated yourself to a batch of Jalapeño Cornbread Muffins, toss one in there.

If you’re making it for a toddler, omit the Cayenne Kale Chips, sub a Honey Cornbread Muffin and serve everything individually on a pre-divided plate, because God forbid anything touch.

Rest.  Relax.  Eat.  Enjoy.  Drink something not kid-friendly.

Happy New Year!

Jive Turkey Talkin’

Sunday, November 10th, 2013

We’re hosting our small family Turkey Day festivities this year.   There will be six adults and one toddler who’s certain to be stoked at having all her grandparents present.

With Turkey Day mere weeks away, I decided to menu plan this weekend.  I’d like to say it’s because I’m incredibly organized.  The truth is that I AM H-U-N-G-R-Y!   And the menu planning keeps my mind and not my mouth on savory, carby goodness.

Here’s the tentative menu:

Appetizer:  Brie, Cranberry-Pistachio Goat Cheese Log

Main Course:

  • Big Green Egg Smoked Turkey with Gravy
  • Honey-Baked Ham (provided by MIL)
  • Maisie’s Cornbread Dressing (my grandmother’s piece de resistance!)
  • Roasted Cauliflower Fauxtatoes
  • Jalapeño Corn Souffle
  • Gran Marnier Cranberry Sauce
  • Amaretto Sweet Potato Casserole (with crispy marshmallows on top)
  • Brussels Sprouts (provided by MIL)
  • Green Bean Casserole (from scratch – no canned soup here!)
  • Sister Shubert’s Rolls (provided by MIL)


  • Pumpkin Pie (provided by MIL)
  • Pecan Pie (provided by my mom)
  • Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Cheesecake

I considered nixing the appetizer plate, but I need cushion in case cooking the turkey takes a little longer than anticipated.   It sounds like a a lot of food, but I was planning on doing small 8×8 casserole portions of most of the sides.  And I’ll need to do a a dry run for the stuffing, corn casserole and cranberries to assure they make the final cut.

I know it seems crazy.  I just want there to be a variety of foods reminiscent of my childhood Thanksgivings.  Granted, there were 40+ mouths to feed back then…

Perhaps after a couple more weeks of “lifestyle changing,” I’ll rethink the menu.

Oh, who am I kidding?  It’s ON like Turkey Tom!

Holy Crap

Saturday, September 14th, 2013

I hit inspiration serendipity this evening!

I quicklyopened my laptop, logged into WordPress and went totally blank. Absolfreakinlutely no clue what I wanted to write.  A big reason for that is that I’ve got a baby monitor cranked to 11 with a toddler taking a fake-it-until-you-make-it approach to sleep by shouting “HONK SHUUU SHUUU SHUUU.”  It’s pretty cute, though as I glance at the clock reading 8:02, I shudder to think how cute she’ll be when she awakes at 5:00am, too overtired to sleep.

But, enough of that.  Let’s just do a quick walk-through of my day.   We stayed all of 15 minutes at our neighbor’s 1st birthday party, because Miss Early Bird was exhausted by the 11:00am start time.   It was just enough time to take in all the amazing party details that I fully intend to ripoff for future shindigs.

After putting the kiddo down for nap, I bid the hubs au revoir and headed for Trader Joe’s.   There, I stocked up on cheap wine, frozen pizza and various quick, healthy eats for the kiddo (ready-made lentils, beets and crackers).   When I get on my health kick, Trader Joe’s will be both a blessing and a curse.  It’s awesome to have ready-to-eat beets and fabulous salads, but why must they charge only $2.99 for their wine?  Don’t they know that it means instead of one bottle of La Crema, I’ll buy 5 bottles of Trader Joe’s Sauvignon Blanc?  And why the hell do they sell frozen smore ice cream sandwiches?  What soulless devil would unleash a product that rivals nicotene-drenched tobacco in addiction!

I made a quick stop at Sherwin-Williams to pick up samples cards in 50 shades of gray and purple  before driving thru Sonic for a much-needed diet cherry limeade.  Yeah, diet.  Ha!  Anyhoo.   En route to grocery store numero tres, I passed by my alma mater.  On each of the 4 corners were scantily clad (butt shorts and tank tops) teen girls waving “Senior Car Wash” signs without an adult in sight.  Flashback 20 years, when we would’ve been killed by a chain-smoking nun if we even suggested standing on a corner like that.   The alum me wanted to give the girls $50 for their prom fund and a bottle of sunscreen while the mom me wanted to tell them to cut that shit out.   I’d like Emme to go there one day.   If she does and there’s a senior girls car wash in 14 years, I’m going to outfit the entire class in clothes befitting a Duggar.

After kiddo’s nap, we took a family trip to Target under the onus we needed to buy car-cleaning products.  Really, it was just an excuse to take Dan’s new ride for a spin.  If there weren’t a car seat in back, I could easily curl up amid the heavenly new leather smell and fall asleep.  I’m fully convinced that new leather smell ranks up there with baby oil-bathed newborn in scents that induce narcolepsy.

Speaking of sweet, sweet sleep, this is where I need to call it a day.  Five am will be here all too soon.

Anyone know where I can score a toddle pillow with that new car smell?