Interstellar Adventures

November 2, 2007

Put Up Your Feet and Sit a Spell

Filed under: Adventures,Memes & Quizzes,Real Good Food,Texas Life — by InterstellarLass @ 11:46 am

I was tagged by Mr. Sparky Duck for a weekend-in-your-city meme. Check out his suggestions for the City of Brotherly Love! I think we all need to go for a tour! I did a Dallas City tour last year with lots of photos of some of the more famous landmarks in the city. But, I didn’t consider some of these other Bests of my fair city. Also, next weekend I’ll be spending some time in Fort Worth, so be prepared for more photos and tidbits about our sister-city that makes up the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.

Best Place to Eat: Wow, this is a toughie. It all depends on the kind of food you want to eat. I once heard that Dallas is one of the toughest places in the US to open and have a successful restaurant. Of course we have the chains, but who really cares about those. If one of you were to come to Dallas (well, except Carn – I’d have to find us a good vegetarian spot), I would probably take you for some of the best damn fried chicken I’ve ever had in my life. Babe’s and Bubba’s is where we took Nick’s sister when she came to town from Michigan, and where we took my uncle and his fiance when they came to town from Cape Cod. We also celebrated Elle’s birthday there. Family style chicken with all-you-can-eat mashed potatoes, creamed corn, green beans, and biscuits. Better wear your buffet pants!

Best Shopping Mall: Another toss up. This one depends…do you want to see where the Old Dallas money shops? Then Northpark Center is your place. But you’d better bring your Platinum card. Or would you prefer more plastic surgery and a see-and-be-seen atmosphere? If so, head to the Dallas Galleria. Want to laugh at the nouveau-riche as they sip lattes and meet for play-dates? We’ll head north and play around at the Stonebriar Centre.

Famous Landmark: Besides the Cowboys and JR Ewing, for what else is Dallas internationally famous? That’s right. Sadly, the assassination of our President Kennedy. Dealy Plaza attracts millions that come play in traffic and figure out for themselves just who shot JFK.

Best Tourism Attraction: Second to above? I honestly don’t know. Is Dallas a tourism hot-spot? Why would anyone come here except to visit with family and friends? I don’t really think of it in terms of being a place people go for vacation. Maybe our sports teams. We have the Dallas Mavericks (basketball), Dallas Stars (hockey), Dallas Cowboys (football, and also, related, the World Famous Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders), Texas Rangers (baseball), FC Dallas (soccer – yes, it’s a sport!), Texas Motor Speedway (NASCAR), Lone Star Park (horse racing), and even a championship golf tournament, the Byron Nelson. Whatever your addiction, we’ve got it!

Best Place for the Kids: Except for it’s location, I’d say the Museum of Nature and Science. It has lots of hands-on exhibits, and a first-class IMAX theater.

Popular Outdoor Activity: Um. This is Texas. Our popular outdoor activity is sweating. You’ll only find us outside between October and April. Otherwise it’s just too damned hot. OK, I jest. A little. It is HOT here in the summer, and so you have to plan for the weather. Heck, it was 80 degrees here on Halloween. So, that’s why you’ll find a lot of Texans in the water. At our lakes, water parks, pools, sprinklers, or even in fountains. Wherever it’s cool. Another hot-bed (har har) of outdoor activity is around White Rock Lake. It’s nine-mile paved trail is popular with walkers, runners, bikers, fishers, sailors and about anyone that’s looking for a place to relax.

Breath-taking Views: It’s flat here. So, besides the High Five Overpass, or the President George Bush Tollway fly-over, your best bet for a view is from a seat in the Antares Restaurant atop Reunion Tower. During your meal, you’ll get a 360-degree view of Dallas and surrounding areas, as the restaurant turns slowly over an hour. But you’d better hurry up. Starting November 16, the entire tower will be closed for about a year due to renovations.

Only Found In: The State Fair of Texas. I don’t think I’ve ever heard of anything else quite like it. For just three weeks each year, Fair Park lights up and millions flock to the Midway, Car Show, Stock Show, and Exhibits. There are sights to see, some familiar every year, and others new and exciting. The Texas vs. OU football game is held during the fair each year, and there are concerts and contests for everyone.

So, your best bet would be to request off now for vacation at the beginning of next October. The Fair will be on and the temps will have cooled down. Except for the Rangers – I can’t recall when they were last even in the playoffs, most of our sports teams will have action going on, Antares will be open for dinner, and we can eat fried chicken and mall-walk our way through the days. I’ll start taking reservations now, so get in on the action early. And don’t forget your boots!

After we party it up here in Dallas, I’d like to have visits with these five people in their home towns!

1. Carnealian
2. Bone
3. ~M
4. Nancy @ Live Love Read
5. Laura @ Vitamin Sea

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October 16, 2007

Rainout

Filed under: Elle & Zed,It's Me, Lass,Mr. Wonderful,Real Good Food — by InterstellarLass @ 3:27 pm

Yesterday we experienced a deluge. Our streets were flooded. The creek that runs near my house and directly behind both kids’ school was overflowing onto the street just down from Elle’s school. In the three years I’ve lived in my ‘hood, I’ve never seen the creek flowing out onto the street. It was insane.

As a result of the rain, Zed’s football game was rained out. It wasn’t actually raining at gametime, but the fields are in a low area, and were thus still drenched. So I cooked dinner instead of rushing to pick up some fast food or restaurant dinner. I made grilled chicken panini’s, with fresh pesto (made by me), salad, and pita chips. Mostly good for you I think.

*****

I was listening to the radio the other day, and I heard this song. I thought it was such a romantic song and a really sweet tribute to his girl.

*****

Zed made a request for sausage tonight. Not exactly low in fat. But he had some at the state fair this last weekend and raved over it. And it’s a good thing I sent Nick off to hang out with Kinky Friedman this evening. Because it’s pecan wood smoked sausage, and I don’t think he wants to try the sausage. Because of his nut allergy. If someone is allergic to nuts, is smoking meat in wood from a nut tree going to transmit the allergin? I don’t think so, but he doesn’t want to seem to risk it.

April 3, 2007

Culinary Delights

Filed under: Mr. Wonderful,Real Good Food — by InterstellarLass @ 7:31 am

So maybe I am a snob. In this case, I don’t really care what implications that may have. I just know that I don’t like to eat food out of a box if at all possible. My great-grandmother, grandmother, and mother have all influenced to think that if you have the time, make it right. And in most cases, that means from scratch. We don’t use Bisquik for our pancakes or biscuits! (Not that there’s anything wrong with that…) 

Of course there are exceptions. While I can make a damn good cake from scratch, time usually dictates that I use a box cake mix. I’m still working on my pie crusts (my mom won’t tell me her secret), and so in an emergency situation, I’ve purchased frozen pie crusts. I’m not experienced with bread, so those little crescent rolls are a lifesaver, and Elle loves to help roll them up, plus it’s fun to make the can pop.

But when it comes to my meals, I like to use fresh ingredients. I’ve never found a dinner from a box that had a natural flavor I could identify, and they are so salty they make my fingers swell. And so, last week, when I hurt my foot, and it was raining and we had to stop by the store to get food for dinner, my dear, sweet, darling Nick went in to forage.

And he came out with Tuna Helper, canned ravioli, and boxes of macaroni and cheese. Just thinking of it now makes me ill. Canned ravioli! I didn’t even like Chef Boyardee when I was a kid. Kraft macaroni and cheese I can deal with on occasion, but I don’t think he got the Kraft brand. I know, I know, store brand is supposed to be the same…but it’s worse. And Tuna Helper? Macaroni and cheese with tuna? I bust out with this for dinner last Tuesday and he comes out with canned ravioli and Tuna Helper?*

Is this a defective gene men have? Maybe a throwback to his bachelor days? You know, back when Top Ramen was a delicacy? And is it all related to the problem they have with matching socks? What? They’re both white…never mind that one has a gold toe and heel and the other has green stitching and is a tube sock.

*I am not an ungrateful wench. I’m just a picky eater that’s just a little more than grossed out by most foods from a box. I do appreciate my husband and his efforts, and the kids loved the canned ravioli. I had to look away while they ate it though.

What is the one thing you absolutely will not eat? Do you have a love for all foods boxed? What’s the secret to making them edible?

December 19, 2006

On Schedule?

Filed under: Family & Friends,Interstellar Casa,Real Good Food — by InterstellarLass @ 9:53 am

Countdown to Christmas: Six Days Remaining. Dun da da…

So far, we’re looking good gift-wise. Nick & Zed’s hats are done, and except for the bind-off and thumb-work, I’m d-o-n-e with my mom’s gloves. Just the three bags remain to be put together, and with the fabulous new finishing stitch – mattress stitch – that I’ve learned, the bags and hats are near-perfect. Only I, with my critical eye, can see my mistakes.

Now, house-wise, we are far from ready. But, The Ex will have the kids from Wednesday night to Sunday night, and both Nick and I are off Friday, so I’m confident we can hide clean out all the debris. I am convinced we have TOO MUCH STUFF. Nick says it’s not enough storage. I’m looking to get rid of stuff though. I think Goodwill is going to be getting a good haul before the holiday.

And, I’ve decided what I’m cooking for Christmas dinner. Our recent tradition, started somewhere in the last decade, has been for a brunch (see item 10). This year I’m making everyone show up later, and we’re doing a dinner. On the menu:

Beef Bourguignon with Roasted Mushrooms and Pearl Onions
Potatoes with Parsley
Baked Mushroom Rice
Creamed Spinach
Fig Holiday Roll
Pumpkin Pie
Wine, lots and lots of wine.

The spinach will be made minus the meat elements so that my mom can eat it, and any of the sides that require chicken broth will have vegetable broth substituted. I’m looking forward to this dinner! It sounds delicious to me.

What are you doing for Christmas (or other holiday) dinner?

December 17, 2006

Six Eclectic Things About InterstellarLass & The Cookie Finalist

Filed under: It's Me, Lass,Memes & Quizzes,Real Good Food — by InterstellarLass @ 10:26 pm

I’ve been tagged by Buttercup and Bean to reveal six eclectic/weird/unusual things about myself. Oh where to start!

1. I have a ‘thing’ about hangers and the way clothes hang in the closet. With the garment front facing you, the hanger hook should be open to the left side. It really bugs me when clothes are hung backwards. Clothes on the right side of the closet face the back of the closet, while clothes on the left side face the front of the closet.

2. I love to have my feet and toes played with. I will beg Nick to rub my feet and put his fingers between my toes to stretch them out. I also like to have my toes pulled. Too weird? Sorry. Forget I said that.

3. I have an obsession with counting. Almost OCD-ish. If I have to count things, I will count them at least three times before I’m convinced I correctly counted. This sometimes makes for slow knitting.

4. I don’t like for my food to touch on my plate. Meat! Stay away from vegetable! And if there are sauces running together? Fuggedabouttit. And I eat things one at a time. And I have a really hard time with leftovers too.

5. I remember completely useless pieces of trivia. What was the name of the book Bilbo Baggins wrote? There and Back Again. What year was the catalytic converter first required on cars? 1975. Yeah, but ask me to remember the name of a person I met five minutes ago or what I had for lunch, and I have no clue.

6. I can stand the sight of blood, I can watch surgeries on TV all night long, and I can even eat while watching. But put a needle or a scalpel in front of me and cut the skin, and I freak out. I really think I could have been a doctor if I could have always had someone else to do the sharp instrument part of it for me.

There you have it! The six strangest, eclectic things about me. If you feel the inclination, consider yourself tagged! I love learning about people’s little idiosyncrasies.

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On Saturday, I went to my friends’ Annual Cookie Exchange. Mmmm. We had Chocolate Turtle Cookies, Snickerdoodles, Snowballs, Yin-Yangs (white and chocolate cookies), and traditional decorated Sugar Cookies. My contribution to the event were Meyer Lemon Ricotta Cookies. Laura at Vitamin Sea gave the link on her site to a slew of butter cookie recipes and these were perfection.

I’d never heard of Meyer Lemons before, but they are evidently ‘specialty’ lemons. Their juice is darker, they are jucier lemons, and the juice is sweeter, not quite as tart as a regular lemon. I ended up finding them at Central Market. I looove Central Market. It is food heaven. Just walking in the place makes you want to cook. I think these are only in Texas right now, but all the rest of you don’t know what you’re missing. They’re at the same level as Whole Foods, but my personal opinion is that CM is better.

Anyway, back to the cookies. I only ended up making two modifications to the recipe. I bought three of the Meyer lemons. Out of the three lemons, I ended up with more than enough juice, but nowhere near the 3 tablespoons of zest called for. I don’t have a ‘real’ zester, so I use a fine grater. I ended up with about 1-1.5 tablespoons of zest, but once the cookies were done, I think it was plenty. I wouldn’t buy more lemons (@ $3.99 per pound!) just to get more zest, because the juice would go to waste, unless you could find some other way to use it. Also, I used white nonpareils to decorate the cookies rather than the silver dragees. Another specialty product, I was too cheap to spend $16.99 for a 3 oz bottle of dragees. The French can keep their non-edible cookie decorations! I would also caution you to be very careful with the icing if you make it. I added a bit too much juice, and my icing was a little bit too runny. Next time I will err on the side of being too thick rather than too runny. These cookies are SOOO yummy! I hope you’ll try them.

December 8, 2006

Ongoing Cookie Quest

Filed under: Real Good Food — by InterstellarLass @ 10:01 am

So far Leanne from Artist By Nature has shared her yummy-sounding Egg Nog cookies! I was also pointed toward some Dirty Snowballs, a family recipe from MichaelM at Smoke & Mirrors. Coyote Mike also gave me a recipe for meat pies. They sound…interesting. But I don’t know about mixing my meat with raisins and dried fruits. Throw some carrots and peas in there though, and then you’ve got something. Rather like Shepherd’s Pie in a convenient carry-all crust.

Nancy suggested the peanut butter kisses cookies, which I love. I do have the recipe and have made them several times before, including for the first cookie exchange I went to. KaraMia has pointed me to Iced Pumpkin Cookies. I actually have a slight pumpkin phobia, but Zed will drool over these, so they will definitely be made.

Doing a little of my own research, I’ve found Black & White cookies, Chocolate Waffle cookies and Chocolate Espresso cookies. Hmmm. I’m starting to see a theme here. Martha Stewart’s Holiday Cookie Glossary also has a lot of possibilities. My problem is that I can’t choose! I want to make them all. Drown myself in cookies. That sounds like a good way to go, right?

Gypsy left me my 5,000th comment on my request for cookie recipes, and so she has won a batch of cookies. Any cookie she wants from any of the links above! She also has a post today with tons of good links, and had one for a food site that is making me hungry.

Help me pick a recipe, please! What sounds good?

December 6, 2006

Calling All Cookie Recipes

Filed under: Real Good Food — by InterstellarLass @ 9:41 am

Next weekend I have a cookie exchange party with my girlfriends. This is our third annual exchange, and I’m looking for something new to really WOW my friends. I want your favorite cookie recipes! I have a lot, but none have really thrown me into wild ecstasy over their wonderfulness. You can either leave your recipe in the comments, or you can post and link back. Either way, I’m hoping to get some mouth-watering suggestions from you all!

Also, if you have a favorite or beloved cookie sheet, or one that you recommend to all your friends, let me know. I’m looking for one that doesn’t burn the bottoms of the first batch!

Tonight I’m going to be out and about, preparing for a special TT tomorrow! Be sure to check in!

November 14, 2006

So, Dinner Last Night Was Good

Filed under: Elle & Zed,Family & Friends,Married Life,Mom Life,Real Good Food — by InterstellarLass @ 10:14 am

I cooked. Pasta in a cream sauce with bell peppers, peas and garlic. I liked it a lot in fact. I found the recipe on AllRecipes.com. The only thing I did different was use heavy cream rather than half-and-half. Next time I might use a few less peas. That seemed to be a lot of peas. Zed was about poisoned by the peas. I told him to stuff the peas inside the pasta and pretend like they weren’t there. Elle did the dishes. She’s so helpful.

Today I’m going to lunch with Elle. She’s been begging. I’ve been avoiding. I’m going to have to pick something up and take it. School cafeteria food is gross. I tried last year. I can’t do it again.

We got Zed’s report card. He went up in a couple of classes, down in the rest, and didn’t bring his grades up to the level I asked after the last three-week-progress report. Another three weeks to check on the progress report before he earns some things back.

Elle has to get glasses. We went last Friday for the appointment. Her glasses should be in some time later this week. If I do say so myself, she will look adorable in her frames. And we even got the cool lenses that darken in the sun.

We’re so ghetto, we still don’t have our shower started. When we took out the old shower receptor, the pipe was rusted to it, and came out the ground. Dirt caved into the sewer pipe. Ooops. I have a feeling that wasn’t connected either, after the toilet sewer connections were repaired. I’m thinking par-for-the-course. Then, when Elle was bathing last week, she put her feet on the soapdish, which promptly broke off the wall, causing Elle to fall in the tub and hurt her back. So we have a plastic bag and clear duct tape covering the sheetrock, because it’s our only shower right now. I came up with that ingenious little fix myself. I rock. We’re ghetto!

I’m happy we’re having Thanksgiving at my cousin’s. But right now I’m concerned about Christmas. My family is used to having Christmas together and at our house. Nick wants to go to his brother’s. If I tell my family we’re not going to be around for Christmas, it’ll be like a nuclear explosion went off and we’re all suddenly in the twilight zone. I don’t know what to do. I like Christmas Day, and I like hosting it, but it does stress me out somewhat. I just don’t know what to do.

Update: Christmas Eve is an excellent suggestion. Unfortunately, The Ex’s family has only ever celebrated Christmas Eve, so it’s in the divorce agreement that the kids are with The Ex that night. Which is why the dilemma is worse.

The drive to Bubba’s house is 2.5 hours, with no stops. He lives kind of out in the middle of nowhere, and with that kind of drive, it makes it hard to go there and back and still have a day to spend with my family, and get things sorted after The Opening of The Gifts.

October 24, 2006

Adventures in Cooking

Filed under: Interstellar Casa,Real Good Food — by InterstellarLass @ 7:29 pm

I’m becoming more and more intimate with my kitchen. None of my measuring implements have gone missing just yet. My dishwasher, all ten of my fingers, and my mixing bowls are still with us.

Last night it was spaghetti and meatballs. Until The Ex’s grandmother learned me, I never knew that you actually cooked the meatballs in the sauce. That’s right. A little salt, a little pepper, some fresh parsley, parmesean, an egg and some breadcrumbs mixed into some ground round, balled up, and dropped straight into the sauce. I make them about the size of an egg (a chicken egg, not an ostrich egg, in case you were confused) to make sure that they cook all the way through after simmering in the sauce for about an hour.

Tonight, I made the Enchilada Casserole. Nancy at Crazed Mom asked me for the recipe, and since I thought it was good, I’ll share. Nick’s opinion is slanted since he grew up on “real” Mexican food, and Zed is somewhat picky. Elle asked for seconds, so I know she liked it too. The next time I make it, I’ll make some adjustments that I’ll note below, but here is the original recipe from CleanHomeJournal.com.

One 3-pound chicken, boiled, deboned, and cut into bite size pieces. Save the broth.
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 cup onion, chopped
1 cup bell pepper, chopped
1 Tbsp dried oregano
1-10 oz can cream of chicken soup, low-fat, condensed
1-10 oz can cream of mushroom soup, low-fat, condensed
2-10 oz cans chopped tomatoes
1/8 lb cheddar cheese, grated
1/8 lb Montery Jack cheese, grated
12 corn tortillas

  1. Boil chicken, covered in water, for 30-40 minutes until done. Remove from broth and let cool to touch.
  2. Preheat oven to 350F.
  3. Heat the vegetable oil until hot. Add the onion, bell pepper, and oregano and saute until onion is translucent.
  4. Remove from heat and add the chicken soup, mushroom soup, and the canned tomatoes including juice. Stir to combine.
  5. Dip the tortillas into the warm chicken broth for a few seconds, one at a time, and layer across the bottom of a 9″ x 13″ baking pan with four of the tortillas. Cut to fit if necessary.
  6. Sprinkle half of the chicken across the layer of tortillas. Spread 1/3 of the soup mixture over the chicken and sprinkle 1/3 of the grated cheese.
  7. Repeat with another layer of tortillas, chicken, soup and cheese.
  8. Dip the remaining tortillas in the broth and layer across the top. Spread the remaining soup mixture over the top and sprinkle with the remaining cheese.
  9. Bake in the oven for 30-45 minutes until hot and bubbly and slightly browned.

Here are the substitutions I made for Lass’ ‘Whitey Style’ Enchilada Casserole. I call it ‘Whitey Style’ because, as Nick said, bell pepper is for white people that want to pretend to eat Mexican food.

  1. Used a can of Hatch Green Chile sauce in place of the can of cream of mushroom soup. Mushrooms do not belong in enchiladas.
  2. Added about a teaspoon of cayenne pepper. This didn’t do much to kick up the heat. Must add more next time.

Other than the calor temperature, this wasn’t as caliente as I think I would have liked. Next time I will make the following substitutions.

  1. Use two cans of Hatch Green Chile sauce in place of both cans of soup.
  2. Replace the bell pepper with either jalapeno or poblano pepper, or a green chile.
  3. Replace the cheddar cheese with an asadero cheese or queso blanco.
  4. Use the Ro-tel tomatos in place of the regular diced tomato.
  5. Use more tortillas in the layers. They came in a pack of 24.
  6. Remove the neck and the other innards from the body cavity of the chicken before cooking. (Duh! I can’t believe I did this!)

I think these changes will add some spice and more flavor. I also recommend letting the casserole sit for a few minutes so it stands up. I cut into it too quickly and the insides just kind of slumped out. If you have any ideas how to improve it, let me know! And if you make it, let me know how you like it! It still won’t be Mexican food, but my whitey-style palate will like it just fine.

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