Fredericksburg Texas – Our Way

It had been a rough couple of weeks with work crisis’s, local and national tragedies, family issues, etc… when Scott innocently  said “how about we go to Fredericksburg in a few weeks for the weekend”…….Admittedly my husband is very thoughtful (Shhhhh…don’t tell anyone!!.  I would not want to ruin his image) but I was immediately suspicious………..

With just a few keystrokes it became clear to me what his ulterior motive was 🙂

Garrison Brothers small bottle release and party!!!!!

Garrison Brothers is a Bourbon Distillery in Hye Texas and my husband swears by their bourbon.  I do not like Bourbon (I know, GASP!) but we have figured out that a weekend getaway to Fredericksburg works for both of use because we go the wineries for me and the distillery’s for him and at the end of the day, we both are adequately “relaxed”(translation – buzzed), we get to enjoy good food and we always find a little something to take home with us.

Take a look at our most recent purchase….A farmhouse style clock that we proudly displayed above our bar cart.  It’s 5 o”clock somewhere!!

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Purchased at EWay Furniture Store on Main Street in Fredericksburg

I immediately texted some friends of ours who LOVE wine too and a plan was hatched.  We spent 3 days there, including 4 hours of drive time each way;  the weekend was packed with many different varieties of wine, bourbon, rum and great food but here are a few favorites from the weekend:

There is one place that deserves a special mention – I had mentioned to Scott on the drive down to Fredericksburg that I had been craving a really good burger – NOT the fast food kind, but an all beef patty topped with cheese (lots and lots of gooey cheese), onion and pickle and everything else that is good in this world……so, as we were nearing the point where we needed food to absorb all of the alcohol – I mean as we were getting hungry we asked one of the distillers where could we get a good burger and he simply said “The Pig Pen”.  It is a simple food trailer parked on the lawn of the Albert Dance Hall but their food is anything but simple.  I ordered a burger (DUH!) and what came out was nothing short of a masterpiece!!!  It was an all beef patty that had the most amazing salt crust on it and it was HUGE!  It was topped with the freshest lettuce, onion and homemade pickles and cheese and when I bit into it the juices ran down onto my hands – it was PURE NIRVANA – so much so that we went back the next day and ordered another one.  The owner said he specialty is pork and Scott had a pulled pork sandwich that was glazed with BBQ sauce that we combined with Garrison Brothers Bourbon…….Can you imagine???

Seriously, if you hear nothing else, hear this – go to Albert TX and more importantly, the Pig Pen food truck and order the burger – you are welcome!!!!

PicMonkey Collage

Alas, all good things must come to an end and we are home.  After I get done mourning not having a longer weekend, I will settle back into the daily grind we call “work” and will dream of a day in the very near future where we will be able to get away again to my heaven away from home.

Be safe out there and be kind to each other!!!!

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Red Beans and Rice with Sausage – Instant Pot

And the obsession continues……….I still absolutely LOVE my Instant Pot and was surfing Pinterest to find something new to try since my youngest son came to the table for dinner and said “Gosh Mom, how many times a week are we going to have Spaghetti?”  I would normally take offense to such criticism but he was right…..I had made it at least once a week since I got my Instant Pot and although my hubby and I could eat it even more often, it was time to try and find something new.  So, what does every other self-respecting person do?  We turn to Pinterest……..I surfed and read and surfed and read and as the day turned to night (just kidding) I found several recipes and the heavens opened up and the angels sang – or was that the song on the radio?  Well, either way, there were a few things that spoke to me:

  1.  No pre-soaking the beans (which would require forethought on my part)
  2.  Dinner in under an hour and a half -Can I get an Amen???
  3. Cajun flavors – One of my hubby’s favorite cuisines!!

I know some are shaking their heads right now and saying “dinner in under an hour and half??  Is she crazy – that’s a LONG time!”  Yes, but consider this…..Traditional red beans and rice takes ALL day to cook, yes I am crazy, and while this is cooking in the Instant Pot, all I have to do is cook the rice on the stove…..The rest of that time can be spent watching the latest episode of Fixer Upper or better yet, the Food Network.  Sounds like a match made in heaven to me!

You start with the “Holy Trinity”of Cajun cooking and the dried beans with a few spices and that’s it……..Seriously, that’s it.

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If you hear nothing else, hear this……Do NOT put the sausage in the Instant Pot!  One of the recipes that I read, the blogger said the first time she added the sausage at the beginning and the consistency was “hinky” (that is a technical cooking term, I swear).  So, her solution was to cook the beans for 28 minutes, do a quick release, add the meat and re-seal the pot and cook for an additional 15 minutes.  This sounded reasonable to me and I tried it and even when adding the meat later on in the cook cycle, it came out still VERY hinky.  My solution is to use the Instant Pot on the Saute mode before you put the vegetables in and brown the sausage.  Remove it and set aside.  When you add the veggies and water,  stir to mix and scrape the bottom of the pot to get all of the yummy browned bits mixed in with your holy trinity and beans.

This recipe, once I tweeked it, has made my monthly rotation and my family couldn’t be happier…..Especially my hubby!!!!  Food is love and that makes me so happy!!!

Here is a bowl of that Cajun dreamy yummy bowl of goodness…..

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The recipe:

  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 1 bell pepper diced
  • 3 celery stalks diced
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 pound dry red kidney beans
  • 1 tsp salt or more to taste
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper (optional)
  • 1 tsp hot sauce
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme or ½ tsp dried thyme
  • 2 leaves bay
  • 7 cups water
  • 1 pound andouille sausage cut into thin slices (I have also used smoked sausage and it is just as good)
  • 10 cups cooked rice

Instructions

  1. Add all ingredients, except for sausage and rice to the Instant Pot.
  2. Place the lid on, lock it, and set to manual high pressure for 40 minutes.
  3. At the end of the 40 minutes use a natural release.
  4. When the Instant Pot is fully depressurized the pin will fall, and you can remove the lid.
  5. Add the sausage, place the lid back on and let it sit for about 10 minutes.  (This will allow the sausage to soak up the flavors and for it to thicken slightly. .
  6. Serve the bean mixture over a cup of cooked rice.

Enjoy!!!!

Be safe out there and be kind to each other!!!!

Janet

 

Note:  This post contains affiliate links 🙂

The Ultimate Guide to Buying a Case of Wine — Wine Folly

Did somebody say wine????

One of our favorite things to do is spend the weekend in Fredericksburg with our “wine tasting friends” (you know who you are) and taste wine…..I have to admit that we generally come back with a case(ish) and as I sit here and plan our next adventure there, I found this great article and just had to share.

So on this beautiful Earth Day, SAVE WATER, DRINK WINE!!!!!!

Wine lovers buy bottles of wine. Wine fanatics buy cases. Learn how much is in a case of wine, what it should cost, and how to put together a great mixed case. Ultimate Guide to Buying a Case of Wine How Many Bottles Are in a Case of Wine? A standard case in the US…

via The Ultimate Guide to Buying a Case of Wine — Wine Folly

“Pa-Sketti” (Spaghetti) in the Instant Pot

Do you remember the days when your kids couldn’t pronounce certain words or made up an entirely different name for something??  It’s been a long time for us but these are a few that I will never forget:

Spaghetti – “Pa-Sketti” (hence this post)

Remote Control – “Mocha Matrol”

Pacifier – “Na-Nee”

Grandma and Grandpa – “Meemom and Deedad” (which is Mommy and Daddy backwards, and we still call them that to this day!!!)

This brings me to one of my families and my favorite weeknight quick and super delicious dinners!  “Pa-sketti!!!!”  (ok…ok…Spaghetti in the Instant Pot)

I started with one recipe and through trial and error (I assure you that my family didn’t hate the experiment involved in coming to this AMAZING recipe) I created this.  It is SOOOOO yummy!!!!!!

But first, a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Make sure the seal is closed completely!  During one of my many tries the seal on my Instant Pot  wasn’t completely closed.  It sounded like a small hiss but it was noticeable enough for both my husband and I to hear it.  Once we heard it we made sure that it was then completely closed but when that “trial” was done, the pasta was definitely al-dente…….which is normally good but this was a little too al-dente for our taste.
  • Every Instant Pot is different so try yours with this timing and adjust accordingly! (8 minutes was perfect for us – assuming the seal was completely closed)
  • We like things spicy so in case you don’t then you might want to either omit the red pepper completely or scale it down a bit….totally your call!
  • Sometimes the noodles “clump” together, so to avoid that as much as possible (small clumps are semi-normal) make sure you break the pasta in half before you place it in the Instant Pot in a crisscross pattern instead of just adding them in one big pile.

(Insert loud dramatic music here)  HERE IT IS!!!!

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 lb Italian sausage
  • 1 tsp of EACH:  salt, garlic powder, onion powder, Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 pound of spaghetti noodles
  • 1 24 oz. jar spaghetti sauce (I use store bought because I am just that lazy)
  • 1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 36 oz. of water (1 1/2 jars full)
  • 6 oz. of red wine (optional)

1.) Set the Instant Pot to saute and add the meat.  Add the seasonings to the meat and cook the meat and seasonings, breaking up the meat until it’s brown.

2.) Turn the Instant Pot off and drain any excess grease if necessary.

3.)  Break the spaghetti in half and place on top of the meat.  Pour over the spaghetti sauce, canned diced tomatoes, water and wine.  Using a wooden spoon, push the noodles down to make sure that they are completely covered in liquid.

4.) Seal the Instant Pot (see tip above) completely and set it to manual mode, HIGH pressure, with 8 minutes of cooking time.

5.)  When the time is up, use the manual quick release to open the Instant Pot.  Stir well.  (It might seem a little liquidly at this point but let it sit for a minute or so and it was tighten up)  Serve immediately.

As I said in the beginning, I have made this several times and here are a few things that I have served with it and MOST have been a hit:

  • Garlic bread
  • Cesar salad (store bought, already chopped and includes the croutons and dressing)
  • Green salad – same as above but served with my own vinaigrette
  • Roasted green beans (recipe to follow)
  • Brussel sprouts (recipe to follow – the majority of my family does NOT like Brussel Sprouts but I do and my middle son does too….Give this recipe a try and I bet I can make you a believer!!)

I hope you enjoy!!!

Be safe out there and be kind to each other!!!!!

 

 

 

The Top 5 Worst Relationship Advice Given To Me About Love

Have you ever noticed that when you are either on your very first “barely hit puberty” crush, your tenth boyfriend/girlfriend 2 years out of college or your third marriage that the “experts” have ALL of the answers??  Yea, me too!  I do not even remotely pretend to have all of the answers, but in my 35-ish years of relationship experience, I have learned a LOT.

I asked my husband and one of my sons what do they automatically think of when being asked for relationship advice and this is SOME of what they came up with…….Some I couldn’t publish because I am trying to keep a semi- G-rated blog here.  In fairness, I did laugh pretty hard at what they said but I attribute that to having a sense of humor that was severely stunted in growth by getting married VERY young and raising 3 boys and having been married a few times.  Essentially my sense of humor can be equated to an 8-13 year old boy mixed in with a nifty side of post menopausal wicked and there you go…..If Bart Simpson and Betty White had a baby – BAM!  That would be my sense of humor spirit baby 🙂

So, let’s get to it.  Here is my list of the TOP 5 worst relationship advice I have ever gotten…..

1.) Don’t go to bed angry –  Sometimes in my world that has seemed like such a tall order…..don’t go to bed angry….but what if (fill in the blank with whatever irks you to no end) that happened and I want to be angry?????  Going to bed angry is what you might choose in the moment and if so, that’s your choice but it seems a bit unfair when your significant other is left with a feeling of being inadequate or sad, so instead of just not going to bed angry, be angry if you want to be BUT the advice given by a couple that has been married 76 years is, it shouldn’t  matter how angry or sad you are, you don’t have to say anything but you always, always touch toes. It’s just a little reminder that I’m here and I still love you no matter what…….

2.) Love is blind – There are a lot of people who would argue this is true for those involved in the relationship but the truth is that those AROUND the relationship are not blind.  They don’t have a “dog in the hunt” so to speak so carefully and methodically  consider their input.  Consider that if nobody likes your partner, there may be good reasons for it. So if your loved ones have lots of reservations, don’t get defensive but listen to why they feel that way and then make up your mind.

3.) Don’t play games  – Really???  Oh yes, yes I say, do play games!!!!  Probably not the kind that you may be thinking but how about a good old fashioned game of Monopoly, or Cards Against Humanity, or the best yet “What do you meme“…..When you play a real game with someone you get a chance to observe how they  behaves under stress, whether they’re honest, how they handle those embarrassing topics, and how they handle defeat.

4.) For women – “go for the strong silent type” – While that theory may work when we want to binge watch The Bachelor or in my case The Food Network but research finds constant communication is the key to a lasting relationship. Don’t just talk about if you want to have kids—discuss how you will raise them. Talk about money—how you plan to afford things and when you want to retire. Then, once you’re married, communicate when you’re happy and unhappy, what feels good and what doesn’t, what turns you on and off. Don’t just talk about “surface” things, say what is there and do it with love 🙂 If the conversation doesn’t go the way you want it to, then touch toes……..At the end of all of this the sentiment is still the same “I love you no matter what”

5.) Don’t hang wallpaper together – I always found this advice rather odd….I thought it meant to literally not hang wallpaper together but then I realized that it meant, can you do the crazy hard things together and still laugh?  To me that is the TRUE mark of a great relationship…the fact of the matter is we all have to do the most mundane and sometimes not so pleasant things in our lives but if you can find someone who makes you laugh then you are golden!!!!!  The flip side is be sure that you find the same things funny or at least relatively close……If he thinks a whoopee cushion is funny and you don’t, it certainly won’t get funnier for you 30 years from now. I promise…….

So,now that I have gone over what I think is bad advice, let’s talk about what is my go to top 5 best advice that I would give anyone in a new relationship:

1.) Live -Live your truth.  Whatever or wherever or with or without someone or whatever else you can think of, just do you!!!!!  Just do you!!!!!  Some of the best 3 words in the English language is just do you……

2.) Laugh – ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS have a sense of humor (yes even a Bart Simpson/Betty White sense of humor works)  I have told my husband many times “make me laugh and you have me at HELLO”.

3.)Love – Simply said, love hard love often.  I don’t know if anyone else has had this experience but the older we get the faster things go…..we don’t know when our first day of something or last day will be so just love hard and love often and most importantly, LEAVE NOTHING UNSAID…….

4.) Eat – Food is love.  It really is just that simple.  Let me say it again….Food is love.  Feed your soul and feed your body.  Those 2 ideas are not mutually exclusive of each other either….Read my post “Fredericksburg – Our Way” and you will see how we were feeding our souls by getting out of town and away from work and also feeding our bodies by having the BEST hamburger in Texas at The Pig Pen in Albert TX.    Food is love……

5.) Everything in between – I know it sounds corny to some but embrace everything that is “in between”.  Is it annoying sometimes that you come home to dishes in the sink or dog hair everywhere, laundry not done, or dinner not cooked but I go back to rule #3 and love what is there for you because tomorrow may be very different…..and it could be in a great way or a not so great way….You choose!

Be safe out there and be kind to each other!!!!

Yawo mami don ansa yes o!!!

Update: I originally wrote this post the week after my son’s and his fiance’s engagement party last July (they have since tied the knot) but I didn’t post it before now….I took a break from the blog but I’m back and ready to share!!!!

‘You are probably asking yourself, what does “Yawo mami don ansa yes o” mean?  I was too until this last weekend so let me explain but first I must set the stage….

It all started in 1986 on a hot summer day in August…….nahhhh, that’s too far back.  I won’t bore you with with all of the intricate details of my oldest son’s first 26 or so years of his life but fast forward to approximately 4 years ago and we will start there.  Christopher had gotten a new job at a large company and was in training.  It was there that he met the woman who will become his wife this year.  I remember him telling me about what was going on in training one day but followed it up (paraphrased but very close to what was said) with “there is the coolest and most beautiful girl in my training class. Her name is Doreen”.  It was obvious from the first moment he spoke about her that he was smitten.  As any great love story begins, they were friends first and then fell in love.  Can I get a collective AWWWWWW here????

3 years later Christopher took a deep breath, went to her parents and asked for her hand in marriage……They were already living together so we were pretty confident in the answer, but at the very core of all of them, they believe in tradition.  They asked all of the right questions and he gave all of the right answers, so, her parents generously gave their blessing and the planning began.

They set a wonderful Fall date for the wedding, she said “Yes to The Dress”, they registered for all of the new couple thingies (that is a very technical term in case you were wondering), booked the church, picked a reception venue, and then set a date for the engagement party.  SIDE NOTE – Admittedly I am a TLC junkie and I watch any and every show that involves romance, engagements, gratuitous spending on lavish weddings, etc..etc..but no show prepared me for what I was about to experience; a “Put Stop” ceremony.

I am by no means an expert on this topic but here is what I learned.  The Put Stop ceremony originated in Africa and is a present day ceremony whereby the groom’s family comes to the bride’s family to present gifts and ask for a “rose” from their garden.  The bride’s family present their “roses” and the groom’s family picks one.  The groom’s family presents their gifts and once the bride’s family has examined the gifts and deemed the groom’s family worthy, you hear the magic words”Yawo mami don ansa yes o!!”  (I’m not sure what happens if the brides family says no because thankfully that didn’t happen for us).

I must admit that the most awkward part of the ceremony for me was the presenting of the roses.  There were 3 other girls that were presented before Doreen and I get that it is just a reenactment of a time honored tradition from Africa but you essentially have to reject the first 3 girls and no one wants to tell another that they aren’t good enough but everybody took it in stride 🙂  When Doreen was presented, the energy in the room changed.  I don’t really know that my description will do it justice but it went from a reenactment to a group of strong, beautiful women presenting a strong, beautiful woman to my son.  These women embody beauty, strength, decades of knowledge and power, years of love and honor and everything else that is good in this world.

Doreen

Once we heard the magic words – Yawo mami don ansa yes o –  the entire house erupted!!!!!  It was magical!!!!!  There was music and dance and lots and lots of food (I could seriously eat my weight in plantains!!!)….We met her entire family and celebrated the coming together of 2 very different families and cultures and the wedding planning has begun……..

Stay tuned for wedding updates……and I must now binge watch Four Weddings, Say Yes to the Dress, The Bachelor (that really doesn’t have anything to do with them but I LOVE the show) and any other show in between that has to do with weddings……

Be safe out there and be kind to one another!!!

Instant Pot Risotto – Can it really be restaurant quality?

I watch more Food Network than your average “Betty Crocker” and there is definitely a theme surrounding Risotto and it usually begins with you can’t walk away even for a second and it ends with it’s almost impossible to come up with a creamy and tasteful version unless you have been a chef for YEARS and cooked risotto a THOUSAND times……

No pressure there……

BUT, I don’t usually shy away from a challenge AND it was Valentines Day AND I do believe that food is love AND I do love my man AND my family too, so I decided to try making risotto.  As most of you know, I am the proud new owner of an Instant Pot and I’m not gonna lie…….I didn’t think it was possible to make risotto in a pressure cooker but when you search “Instant Pot Recipes” on Pinterest it is one of the beginner recipes that comes up frequently so why not??

As with every single thing I make, I do my “due diligence” and read several different ways of doing the same thing and more importantly I read the reviews.  (A side note on the types of reviewers)

So, I combined a couple of recipes and this my friends,  is what happened….

It was magic!!!!

After just a short time we had the most delicious Pan Seared Filet Mignon with “to die for”  Bernaise Sauce and the creamiest, dreamiest mushroom, parmesan and pea risotto.

YUM!!!!!!!!

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Here is the combination of a couple of recipes and a little blood, sweat and tears…..

Oh c’mon!  Who am I kidding???  It literally took minutes and my amazing Instant Pot (and a couple other normal kitchen gadgets like oh say a pan and a blender and a few knives) and VOILA!

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons butter divided
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic minced
  • 16oz Crimini (baby bella) mushrooms sliced
  • 2 cups Arborio rice
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley

Instructions

  1. Set Instant Pot electric pressure cooker to saute.
  2. Heat olive oil and 2 tablespoons butter
  3. Cook onion and garlic until onion is soft and translucent.
  4. Mix in rice and mushrooms.  Turn instant pot off.
  5. Pour in chicken stock and white wine.  Stir.
  6. Set Instant Pot to manual – 7 minutes
  7. Quick pressure release
  8. Mix in remaining 2 tablespoons of butter, parmesan cheese, peas and dried parsley.  Salt and pepper to taste.

It really is just that easy.  No, really it is!!!!

There are so many variations on the Instant Pot Risotto but I would highly recommend you read some other blogs because there is definitely a science to adding vegetables to risotto because of the high water content.  For now, I am going to stick with this one and who knows…..maybe I will feel adventurous later this week and try vegetable risotto….

Stay tuned for more food, life and laughter!!!!!

Be safe out there and be kind to each other……

DISCLAIMER
There are affiliate links in this blog so if you click on them and make a purchase, then yes, I make a little moo-lah on the side 🙂  Thank you!!!