Roast Chicken, Passionate Potatoes, and Goat Log

My cousin Hannah turned 18 last week. I took her out for coffee yesterday, and gave her a choice in birthday presents. She could have a quilt for her bed in college OR makeup from whatever counter she wanted at Macy’s. (I know. I am an amazing cousin.) After some deliberation, we went to Tea Time Quilting on Tulane here in the Heights. (Tulane! Roll Wave! PS- Did you know that Hanky Panky came out with a collegiate collection, and that Tulane is part of it!?! What good fortune!)

Jana, the owner, also runs Jana’s flowers on the same corner. Let me tell ya’ll: she is a trip, in a good way. She talks fast, walks fast, and knows her stuff. I think she is awesome, and I try to buy whatever I can from her. They also have a ton of fat quarters there, literally boxes upon boxes, all sorted by color, so if you’re into precuts you have to check this spot out. We walked around for a few minutes and ended up leaving with a pattern which later went out the window when we found fabric Hannah loves online that requires something different.

Free Spirit Fabrics have a TON of great lines. I have Deer Valley (how coincidental) as the shade in my bathroom, and have bought several yards of this and that for different projects. All of it is awesome. Hannah is deliberating over the Cottage Garden line. I happen to think it is amazing. They kind of have a Matisse-Floral-On Acid thing going. Love it.

On the way home from Tea Time, she decided to stay for dinner, and boy was that an excellent decision. First of all, Hannah and I found yet another common bond while hanging at my house: we are both serious Martha Stewart fans. Second of all, we ate roast chicken. I love roast chicken.

Now, if you did not know that Martha Stewart had little blurbs on Comcast OnDemand, I’m sorry you’ve missed out so far. They are wonderful. This month is (of course) all about Halloween. She makes glitter pumpkins, a shrunken head tree, and a scary candy bowl that Nikki told me I was not allowed to make because it would bring me too much pleasure in scaring innocent children. We watched almost all of them while I cooked yesterday.

On to roast chicken. I have something to say to anyone out there who cooks: don’t be afraid of the whole bird. You can’t be. They are so much better than the standard boneless skinless chicken breast. I bought a large organic, free-range, never-been-frozen chicken at Kroger yesterday for about $11. It fed Justin (who counts as two people), myself, and Hannah with enough left over for two lunches or a batch of chicken tetrazzini. Seriously, that was a good deal. It would have been even cheaper if I had gone with a bird with fewer bells and whistles, but that was not available fully thawed. I just rubbed it down with a compound butter and stuffed it with lemon halves and herbs. Easy.

Last week Mom had Bunco at her house. She had to make an appointment day-of, so we worked it out that I could help her cook. She made individual pot pies. While we were at Central Market, she found purple fingerling potatoes. I didn’t know purple potatoes existed, much less that they are incredibly good for you and packed with nutrients and antioxidants. Last night, when Hannah and I spotted baby Purple Passion Potatoes at Kroger, we bought them. ๐Ÿ™‚

They were a little sweet, and about the same texture as a sweet potato. And they were bright purple inside. I boiled them in salted water and hit them with some finely chopped parsley, butter, lots of black pepper, some crushed red pepper because we like it hot, and a little cream cheese. I’ve done it with sour cream before (if you do this make sure to get a brand name container because the nicer stuff tends to hold up to heat better), and it would be good with goat cheese. I mean goat log.

The goat log part comes from the salad. Justin LOVES goat cheese. I credit myself with that introduction. I try to get him surprises at the grocery store, like some crazy mango-pineapple-guava juice or the supremely spicy Sabra hummus… or goat cheese. Hannah and I, being juvenile, thought that serving “goat log” would be hilaaarious. I mean, really. Goat log. Makes me giggle now.

I made a spinach salad with cherry tomatoes, the goat log, grated carrots, and a homemade lemony vinaigrette. I think it would have been nice with balsamic, too. Grated carrots, along with caramelized onions, are underrated in my opinion. Carrots are good for your eyes, and are loaded with nutrients. They are also cheap.

In Germany, they serve all kinds of little salads with meals. Karrotensalat, literally translated “carrot salad,” is my favorite. Some varieties utilize vinegar, others use a mayonnaise or sour cream base. I couldn’t get enough of it over there. They also had wonderful potato salads, cucumber salads, tomato salads, and more. If you are heading to Deutschland anytime soon, make sure to order them at lunchtime.

All in all, last night was capital. I love nothing better than being with the people I love. Feeding them and giving them presents are a close-second tie. I am so happy I get to make Hannah a quilt that she can take north with her. I know it’s sentimental, but I am honored that I get to be a part of her growing and finding herself as an artist, even if it’s just that I get to help keep her warm at night. I am so happy I have the luxury of making roast chicken on a weeknight. Seriously, Justin’s whole face lit up when I said, “roast chicken.” He smiled even wider at the prospect of S-S-S-Hummus. Hannah ate her weight in passionate potatoes and walked out with the recipe on a 3×5 card. I’m going to have to get mom to make her a cookbook with all the food we ate growing up in it like she did for Elise and I. What a wonderful evening spent in the company of Hannah, Justin, and Martha Stewart. I’m a lucky lady.


Side Note: All recipes are under Roast Chicken Dinner on the Recipes page. ๐Ÿ™‚ Happy cooking.

Gabby’s BBQ, My Franken-Mug, and Miss Caroline :-)

1. I was supposed to defrost some steaks (cut from one of the beef tenders we got on sale at Rice E.) and fry them up for dinner. Instead, the steaks, green beans, and as-yet-undetermined starch will be waiting for us tomorrow night… Justin took me to the Drive Thru at Gabby’s BBQ. (I am such a cheap date!) I got a meal in a peel. Yum. I highly recommend one. Get extra sauce. You’ll be happy you did.

2. I am a huge fan of good, clean fun. It’s underrated. My new fave spot for GCF is The Mad Potter, a paint your own pottery chain here in H-town. I went there last week with Hannah, my cousin, and painted a Franken-mug. Hannah painted a mustache mug… A ginger mustache mug. I’ll let you in on a little secret: The Mad Potter has excellent people watching on Friday nights. We had so much fun! I can’t wait to pick our pieces up.

If you want to go and try it out, I’d like to send you in with one piece of advice: Don’t get frustrated. I am artistic. I actually almost majored in ceramics. I love making things. And painting the stupid pasta bowl I started out with nearly gave me an apoplexy from frustration. Hannah, an extremely talented painter and drawer, had the same problem. I sympathized with her over our mugs, telling her that the pasta bowl I painted looked like something an 11-year-old had made. Basically we determined that it’s not the same thing. It won’t look perfect, like their little examples they have everywhere. It’s NOT easy. So. When you go in, expect to leave with something it looks like your kid painted, and you’ll be much happier than if you go in feeling like Rembrandt.ย 

3. Caroline is Justin’s 5-year-old daughter. I adore her. She is a fabulous human being. She calls mermaids “Mee-murs,” and her favorite chips are Doritos. I love her. Today I got to video chat with her. Thanks to modern technology, it took us five minutes to talk Justin’s mom through Google chat’s video app setup, and we actually got to see the little rascal. What a cutie pie!ย She was wearing one of the shirts I had gotten her for school. I got her a bunch of Gap, Children’s Collection, and Hanna Andersson…ย Mom and I had to pry ourselves out of the Hanna Andersson catalog today. Weย love their clothes. They are this thick, indestructible cotton. They are bright. They are awesome. AND… They have a store in the Galleria.

Caroline is going to be a ballerina for Halloween. I am going to get her a ballerina bow from Bubbly Bows. These bows are on another level, people. They are little alligator clips with works of grosgrain art on them. They also had a witch’s hat and a panda bear. Caroline showed us her drawing of the Liberty Bell, complete with large black crack. She said school was going really well. ๐Ÿ™‚ She also showed us the book she is reading. Something about the Berstein Bears and “Spooky.”

I can’t wait for her to come and visit again. I am really hoping we get to take her to the Renaissance Festival with us. I think she would love it. Elise and I always did, and every kid I have ever seen there looks to be having a marvelous time. Once we get our plans finalized with that, I’m going to try to make her a costume! That way she can get her face painted, and have the Twisted Sisters braid her hair, and get sprinkled in fairy dust, and eat a turkey leg in high style. I’ll have to consult The Master (Mom) on her costume. I had my birthday party at RenFest one year, and she made all my friends these really pretty purple dresses… Mom also made all of my friends poodle skirts for my sock hop birthday party when I turned 5. Then the Elvis impersonator made me cry (at least I think that’s what happened… it was a long time ago) and we ate cake and everyone went home. What an awesome party! I wonder if she would throw a party like that for me this year…

My Mom pretty much always has the best ideas EVER. When Caroline visited her house in Florida this summer, Mom had all these awesome projects for her to do. They made a tshirt with crayons and sand paper, Mom showed her what seashells to look for, we all went on the beach at night with a flashlight and looked for crabs… Caroline had a stupendous time. Mom knows what’s up. That’s why, tonight when we were talking to Caroline and I told her, “Kelley says hello, and she misses you. She told me that today,” (which she had, while we looked through the Hanna A. catalog) Caro replied, “I miss her too. She is nice and always does fun things. I love her.

I love her too. All moms are awesome, but my Mom is the best. ๐Ÿ™‚ She will know exactly what costume to make for the most adorable, pretty, and smart little girl I know for her first foray into the magic that is the Renaissance Festival. Then, when I mess up while making said costume, she will know exactly how to fix whatever it is I did. I’m so lucky to have her on speed dial. I love you, Mom!!!

Halloween Rap!

Here is my family in our sweet JibJab Halloween Rap. ๐Ÿ™‚ I think SoCo is my favorite. Or Rico. Or Justin as a ten foot avocado. Hope you enjoy it enough to MWAHAHAHAHA out loud.

Halloween Rap

I really like JibJab. I think it is one of the best subscriptions I have, up there with the Economist and XM.

Once Jessica finally emails me a photo of herself, I will post the Frankenstein in a Minute. It is HILARIOUS.

Halloween is Coming! / Target Missoni Collection

Halloween is on its way. I got a really awesome sign at C&D Hardwareย today. It is sparkly, orange, and says “Spooky.” It’s awesome. There is a man who works there, a bigger guy with red hair. He is very nice, and I learned today that his favorite holiday is Halloween, too! Apart, he said, from May 3… I guess that I can’t blame him, seeing as November 21 is my favorite favorite holiday. He liked my spooky sign, and the koozie I got that says, “Elixer of Doom.” The people in there are always SO HELPFUL.

I am a huge fan of buying from independent stores. The feel of them is completely different. I can walk into C&D and ask any member of the staff where they keep metric sockets or which brush I should use with oil paint for trim and they will say, “Follow me.” This is a far cry from the Home Depot, who tried to cheat Mom out of hundreds of dollars on a washer dryer set and ruined a key I was trying to copy. I’m still not sure how they did that, by the way. Those little machines they use now are fool-proof! Anyways, the staff knows their stuff. On another positive note, they have a surprising lot of items. If they don’t have what you need, options are to order and ship it for pick up or straight to your house, or request they stock it.

Also, like it’s bigger, higher-end buddy Bering’s, C&D carries a ton of crute gifts. They have a nice selection of Tervis Tumblers, seasonal merchandise, and kitchenware. ย They had my Spooky sign. They have fun things to hang on the wall, and hilarious aprons. It’s wonderful. Unlike Bering’s, I can actually afford to shop there. I recommend C&D highly. They’ll hook you up. Fa sho.

I also stopped at Ross on my way home. For less than $40 I got a rug for in front of the kitchen sink, an adorable Halloween tablecloth that looks and feels like it will stand up to many washes, some Halloween dish towels, a Happy Halloween potholder, a mug with a scary skull on it, two airtight canisters for the gluten-free flours I used to make Nikki’s french bread this weekend, an extra-large box of Sunkist fruit gems, some scrunchies, and two pairs of those cleaning gloves that are adori-fied. One pair has a spider ring, for Halloween-time… Or any time. ๐Ÿ™‚ That place is so cheap, and I can usually find really cute stuff. I am for sure going back at Christmas to buy presents. They had all these really nice lavender soap gift sets that would be cute with a hand-knitted washcloth. Plus I will be able to say, “Do you love it? I love it. I got it at ROSS!” Let’s be real: I’ll probably sing it, not say it. Just saying. Now I’m excited for Christmas, too. Who knew Ross Dress for Less could have that effect on a body?

Now, on to more shopping excitement…

Target has their Halloween stuff out. I am very much looking forward to finding some fun monster picture frames and hopefully a birthday gift for Jessica. I am going tomorrow morning, though, because tomorrow morning is the introduction of Target’s MISSONI line. I am so excited. The commercials are adorable! I plan to get there early to snag the crutest stuff. Mom and Elise are going to be so jealous of my adorable cheap Missoni loot. I can’t wait!

Quick aside: When I told Justin how excited I was about the Missoni line at Target, he replied, “Don’t we already have a ton of that stuff? I mean, almost all the clothes we get from there are Missoni.” It took me a second to figure out he meant Mossimo. Ha. Men.

I am hoping that they have some things that go well in my house… And even if they don’t, I am sure I will find a way to make it work. I really think this is the final chapter in the “I don’t like Target very much right now” book that has documented the months since I went to Target late one night for retail therapy and found that they had ceased to carryย both the brand of tampons I like AND my bra size. I was so upset. I wrote a letter. I don’t know how much that had to do with it, but Target started carrying both again, and I feel that after I score some sweet gear tomorrow morning in clothing, housewares, and seasonal, I will finally be able to forgive. Wish me luck on my quest. ๐Ÿ™‚