Summer Foods

I don’t know about you, but everything I do in the summer seems to be different than any other time of year.  Perhaps it is because of the part of Texas I live in, because my part of the state gets very hot and it is always humid.  Although this is good for the skin, it wrecks the hair and it can get pretty miserable.  There are activities and chores that just have to be done early morning or they cannot be done.  This is my personal opinion..I know some people can survive this heat if they have been trained to pace themselves and are accustomed to this type of weather.  I call them really tough!  

I would say that our meal prep in the summer swings to the easier, cooler, quicker recipes too.  I thought it might be fun, at times, to share some recipes that are my “go tos” during the hottest days.  Although many may not be my originals, these recipes are some I have, perhaps, tweeked or I am using a new ingredient I discovered or an herb I have grown myself.   That is always considered the creative side of cooking.

Although my greatest reward comes in helping women discover their personal style and shopping for them, I can tell you I love planning and cooking meals.  I spend many hours scanning recipes books and talking to others who love to express themselves in the kitchen.  It is for sure a more accepted art, thanks to the likes of Ina Garten, Bobby Flay, Giada, The Pioneer Woman, Martha Stewart and many other great cooks, whose shows are a part of the American way now.

Tonight’s menu consists of a gem I discovered in Southern Living magazine.  I would say I use their magazine more than any other to search for a recipe or try a new recipe.  I am confident their recipes will turn out and I am also confident I will cook most every recipe I try over and over again.  I will also use their recipes when entertaining or cooking food to take somewhere. That is the southern way, right?

On to the recipe now……let me know if you try this delightful recipe.  Although you do have to turn the oven on for this one, it will delight your taste buds I am sure.  I think I cook it every few weeks during the summer months.  I am happy to say, the basil in this recipe is grown by me, see blog post from June 2.  While we did not do a garden this summer, the tomatoes are home grown and shared with me.  I think my friend wanted me to share this prepared treasure.  ūüėČ

                    SAVORY SUMMER PIE 

  • Refrigerated pie crust
  • 1/2 purple onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2T olive oil
  • 2T fresh basil, chopped
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 1 t salt
  • 1/2 t black pepper
  • 2 cups (8oz.) shredded Monterey Jack cheese
  • 1/3 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 3 tomatoes sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • Fit pie crust into 9″ deep dish tart or pie pan.  
  • Prick bottom and sides with a fork and bake in a 425* oven for 10 minutes and set aside.  
  • Saut√© onion 5 minutes, then add garlic and saut√© 1 more minute.  Remove from heat.  Stir in basil.  
  • Whisk together eggs and next 3 ingredients; stir in vegetables and cheeses.
  • Pour into crust and top with sliced tomatoes 
  • Bake at 375* for 45-50 minutes until set.  
  • Shield edges with foil after desired browning of crust.  Usually about 25-30 minutes.
  • Let stand 5-10 minutes before plating.

This is a meal I serve with fresh fruit…perhaps a delicious cantaloupe or honey dew melon.  Also nice with some basil and balsamic strawberries.  While I serve this mostly for an evening meal, it is a fabulous brunch idea.  For me, it is the fresh herbs and fresh, summer tomatoes that make this the perfect summer dinner.

This time I did a mango, nectarine salad with fresh basil and a mango pulp vinegar. It blended well with the pie and the colors were beautiful together. Never too much basil for me. 

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My favorite…..feeding the Soul

I live very close to the coast. In an hour and a half I can be walking a beach and hearing the sound of waves crashing against the shoreline.  This is exactly what I did this past weekend. 

My husband knows I love the hunt for beach glass and could walk many miles as I search for “just one more piece” of tumbled glass.  He usually monitors my distance because he knows I have to walk back just as far as I have walked, without an idea of my distance.  He also knows I love to eat fresh seafood and he knows the perfect places to find the freshest shrimp and the most delicate crab.  He knows what helps me relax and unwind.  Guess you could say, he knows me well!!!  Even if I only get a few hours or days, I can be transformed by walking and listening to the quiet.  My soul does truly feel refreshed and renewed after even one beautiful day.

While I would say the mountains would always be my first choice for vacationing, I do love a beach trip.  We have visited many beautiful beaches and had some wonderful vacations with family at the beach.  I have witnessed many magnificent sunsets.  The beach has its own tranquillity and I love the fact I allow myself  “do nothing” time.  The beach just calls for that.  A good book will always be packed and a fun hat will also, always, be in my bag.  You know I have to talk fashion just a bit.  Trust me when I say, fashion is always a consideration wherever I roam.  I cannot help it…..it’s just part of me and I own it.   As a matter of fact, we had probably gone 40 miles down the highway and I suddenly realized I had forgotten my hang up clothes.   I packed a fun little beach dress for dinner and also packed a long sleeved cover up for when I knew I had enough sun while walking the beach.  I told my husband and he promptly turned the vehicle around while I protested.  I told him I would be fine in my little shorts and hat.  He knows me well and knew how sad I would be to not be dresssed the way I planned, so, back we came to the house and I got my clothes.  I am happy to say I loved having all these necessities with me!!!  Oh, I am one lucky girl and yes, I know it!!!  

I am not sure what the sounds of the ocean do, but it is truly a sound like no other.  It can bring a calm like nothing else.  I love to sit in a chair as the sun goes down and just listen.   JB and I love the beach in the winter and somehow find comfort in the loneliness the winter beach presents.  It is probably our favorite time to be at the beach and my favorite attire would be a sweatshirt or a loose fitting sweater because it is just cold enough to grab one.  I will always have an outfit plan.  ūüėČ  We can sit for many hours in the dark, without speaking and feel very connected.  I guess you might say we are soul mates. 

If you find yourself close to a beach this summer, allow your soul a little quiet time and embrace the silence.  Gift yourself some “doing nothing” time and rest.  If you find some beautiful beach glass, let me know…I keep mine in beautiful crystal decanters and unusual containers.  

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The summer of dresses…..

If you love feeling feminine, this is the summer for you!  It is the summer of dresses!  And that does not make me sad.  I have always been a fan of cool, pretty dresses and in my part of the world, dresses are a great choice to keep cool during our long, hot summers.  It can get so hot in east Texas, you don’t even want to wear jewelry.  That is a bold statement for me, a lover of statement jewelry; but it is a fact.  Other than a fabulous earrings, the heat can truly make you not want anything else draped on the body.  This is going to be one beautiful summer if dresses have anything to do with it.  I am confident dresses will have center stage!

I met my daughter in Houston this past weekend and we went to a baby shower at Brennan’s.  It was a beautiful day, a beautiful celebration, and every lady there had a dress on, with the exception of myself.   I had opted for a pretty in pink, cold shoulder top because I did not have a pink dress.  I wanted to wear pink to celebrate the arrival of a baby girl, so this was my choice.  Every other lady there had on a dress.  We had stripes, florals, eyelet, gingham, solid pastels, embroideried, and more florals.  Linen and soft cotton seemed to be the fabric choice.  Every dress proclaimed summer had arrived.  The calendar may not say so yet, but Texas thermometers say summer is here and here for awhile. 

I have also been looking through many catalogues and strolling through shops as often as possible and every store has their own version of beautiful dresses.  Maxis, pleats, flirty tassels, scalloped hems, and pompoms are being used to create more fun.  It is a summer to celebrate for sure!

Dresses are so much more comfortable when traveling too.  Add a cardigan or a fun kimono for night time dining, change the shoe and another outfit has just been created.

Anywhere from The Unique Boutique, Old Navy, Loft, Everlane, Banana Republic, J C Penney, Nordstrom, Talbots, J Crew, and Garnet Hill, just to name a few; dresses are waiting to be tried on, chosen and worn this summer.  Along with a fun sandal or cute espadrille, we have the opportunity to feel our prettiest this summer.  Express your feminine side, stay cool, and enjoy being a lady….

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My favorite…..lip stain¬†

Sometimes you stumble upon a product and cannot believe your good fortune. I must admit, when it comes to beauty products, I listen to the product experts, read and research items and reviews, and take advice from other bloggers and my daughter.  But I love going to Sephora and can easily pass a few hours looking at products and trying products.

img_3293As far as I am concerned Sephora has marketed themselves right to the top of the makeup industry line. ¬†What brilliance in their marketing of products and their return policy. ¬†No worries if you change your mind or find out 3 weeks later the product is breaking you out or you just decide it’s not working for you. ¬†Good work Sephora!!!! ¬†And how brilliant…the store has mirrors, makeup remover, ¬†tools for application, and Kleenex stations right at your fingertip. ¬†This is so convenient for testing products right in the store. A hands on concept. ¬†And no, I am not getting paid to say this; I just absolutely love Sephora.

When I walked into the store in Austin probably 2 years ago, a new line was set up right in the front of the store. The line is called Becca. Of course, the marketing was beautiful and so was the model on their packaging.  I immediately stopped and started playing with the products.  The line has a lot of the light reflective quality that I love.  All products have a fresh, youthful, dewy look which is great this time of year.  A look that keeps a youthful glow, no matter your age.

I have several products in this line I love, but today I am raving about the beach tint stain I use on my lips every day. ¬†I always use a lip pencil for definition and usually use lipstick too. ¬†The stain then goes on top. Sometimes I use just the lip pencil and stain. ¬†I absolutely love them. ¬†The stain turns to a matte look but goes on very easily and then sets. ¬†It doesn’t feel dry, but it does turn matte. ¬†The stain does not get “gunky” or feel dry. ¬†Excuse the word description, but I know we all know what I mean by this description because we have all had those products! ¬†I cannot tell you how much ¬†I love these tints. ¬†Maybe telling you I have 4 different tints tells more. ¬†Maybe telling you I will most likely get other tints tells you more. ¬†Maybe telling you I have them at home and in my purse at all times tells you more. ¬†Maybe telling you I usually do not reapply all day tells you more. ¬†And maybe raving, most of all, because the stain does not leave my lip and travel toward my nose tells you my number one reason these tints will always have a place in my cosmetic bag and drawer. ¬†If I want a shimmer, I just add a small amount of gloss to my bottom lip. ¬†I must tell you, these can be used on the cheek also. ¬†I love the colors guava, watermelon, papaya, and grapefruit.

When I find a product that hits a homerun, I just love to share.  I get asked about my lipstick often. I think it is mostly because it stays on!  These are really great little tubes of magic and I am so excited to share my find.

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And just like that…..summer

We have had a wonderful, long spring and that is unusual in my part of the state.  I did my best to enjoy every moment because I knew one day it would end and it would be quite some time before there was a chill in the air again.

So, when summer begins in my part of the state, that means when I go walking at 6:45am, it might just be 70*, ¬†and the humidity will be higher numbers than the temperature. ¬†That’s why I truly try to enjoy the gift of 60* mornings in May!

You can believe I am always on the hunt for great, fun, cool, walking gear. No apologies either, you will find me at the park in shorts, tanks, and a baseball cap! ¬†I love my time at the park and have been called “the fanatical walker” at times. ¬†I have walked for many years and find much delight in pounding out my stresses as I walk. ¬†I definetely enjoy the time and I believe in sweating out the toxins. ¬†Life just calls for exercise, I believe. ¬†I also love listening to the birds, the sounds of water rushing in the creek, and I enjoy watching the seasons come and go. Also have a nice group of walking friends that look out for each other. ¬†We are blessed with a beautiful city park with a great walking track.

It’s always more fun with the right clothes and I just wanted to share these shorts with you. There are several colors and the fit is true. I have several pair and really love the fabric. ¬†We have come a long way when it comes to fabric, pockets, and fit!!! ¬†I love the wide waistband ¬†and the never end drawstring on the inside. ¬†Even though I am dripping wet when I finish walking, the shorts don’t show it! ¬†Another selling point!!! ¬†They are from Athleta which happens to be one of my favorite stores. ¬†Along with exercise gear, they have many fun, casual clothes. I love a lot of their dresses and I wrote about their cargo pants earlier. (See post from March 14) These shorts are made from the same fabric and I don’t believe you will be disappointed.

If you are on the hunt for a good walking short, I highly recommend looking into this style. ¬†I don’t believe you will feel you have invested too much for them as they will last several years. ¬†See you at the park on sandy creek….img_3283

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¬†My favorite…..pastime¬†

While I am all about shopping, playing in makeup, looking at style catalogues, blogs, magazines, and all things girl, I can tell you I like to get my hands dirty. My favorite way to do this is playing in the dirt.

Growing up, we always had a garden and I never dreamed I would grow up and love growing things. As a child, we had to spend some time is the garden pulling weeds, dragging hose to keep the water going because of the hot summer sun; and, when the harvest came in, we would be picking whatever produce had grown. This was not too entertaining for a teenage girl!  I would have much rather been at the pool with my friends dreaming the days away and flipping through magazines. I did plenty of that, but I did have chores. I can tell you, I certainly learned a lot in that garden and I, now, am thankful for the time spent in our backyard. Easpecially the time spent with my daddy.

Then in the early years of marriage, I had a mother in law that was a master gardener. She could grow anything. She, also, always had a garden.  She had berries growing on a fence, she had a clipping of a flower she brought from another home and turned into a glorious floral garden, and she had roses like I had never seen.  She could tell you the best way to keep weeds away, organically, of course, and she could advise the time certain plants needed to be planted and then harvested.  She truly knew her gardens and she would even brings bulbs to my home because she thought I needed to grow them in a particular space.  She even planted them….ūüėČ

 As far as I was concerned, growing herbs was her forte.  She took every opportunity to stick a stem of thyme in the ground and watch it grow. Her rosemary scented many rooms and seasoned everything.  I think rosemary was her favorite herb to cook with.  Vases of basil filled the dining table.  She could make a glass of iced tea your favorite summer drink because of the mint and sugar…. (we are southern girls), and her oregano could perfect your spaghetti sauce because of its freshness. She was truly an herb artist. 

It took me years to decide I wanted to give herb growing a try and I am not sure why.  Most likely, my lack of knowledge, especially with her watching, delayed my efforts. Eventually though, I wanted those fresh herbs at my fingertips while cooking, so my interest was increased.  Also, Southern Living magazine seemed to always have articles that intrigued and beautiful pictures. My love for cooking has always been a part of who I am, so herb growing just seemed like the natural next step. 

I must tell you I made plenty of mistakes but can I really say “mistake”?  Every plant lost is a lesson learned of what not to do. For me, the biggest lesson learned…. don’t grow herbs so far away from your kitchen you never gather them. 

My husband has always had a garden so I planted herbs out in his garden spot and proceeded to forgot all about them.  We have a fairly large lot and his garden is way in the back of our lot where there is more sun.   This just did not seem to work for me.  I never managed to get out there to pick fresh herbs while in the middle of cooking our meal.  I talked with friends, watched a segment on Martha Stewart and decided to do some container gardening.  My passion was birthed!!!Just like  everything else at this time of my life, I want to enjoy what I do and not feel like it is a “have to”.  I say this because my herb garden is not large,  but it is perfect for me.  I find much satisfaction when I pass up the $4.00 sprigs of basil in the store and come home to pinch a few leaves off my own plant and slice a tomato to go with it.  I love to make my pesto for pizzas and pasta, and I love a glass of sweet tea with a beautiful pinch of mint floating in the glass.  As Martha would say….”it’s a good thing”.  

If you don’t find me hanging out in a closet this summer, you may find me with dirty hands. You may find me sitting on the back deck with a glass of minted tea or basil lemonade.  Come sit awhile…we can talk closet cleaning or plan a shopping trip for your summer vacation.

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Adventure awaits…

I live with a very adventurous man!  I am not sure this was something I thought would matter years ago when we married, but for me, it is important!  He keeps our lives fun and interesting, and I delight in this.  I was informed last week, we would be leaving on a “spit trip” Saturday.  If you have never been on a spit trip, you have not lived yet!  

Years ago, JB taught me what a spit trip was and our daughter and I have lived some great adventures.  He explained to us a spit trip is taken when you get in the car, start moving in a general direction you may have already decided upon and then as you get to intersections, you spit in your palm, clap your hands together, and watch which way the spit flies, and travel forward in that direction.  I know……it’s a mans world kind of plan, but I am always up for the fun!  We were always amazed that reservations were already booked at hotels and the finest restaurants had our names on the card. 

He gave me just enough info this weekend so I knew how to pack and for how many nights we would be away.  We headed east and continued east until we arrived in Lafayette,  LA.  I knew our weekend would involve some good food and good music!  We immediately went to one of our favorite spots and indulged in a shrimp poboy.  Crusty bread, lots of fresh shrimp and a slight sauce because it hardly calls for it.  This shrimp is perfectly seasoned, extremely fresh and fried just right. Add a few tomato slices and plenty of shredded lettuce and you have the perfect poboy for a Saturday feast.  All wrapped up in white waxed paper. You could pick up a few grocery items, if needed!

We have found a hotel we love in Lafayette and after a trip to Starbucks down the street from our hotel, we went to our home away from home. 

Sunday started the adventure again and further east we traveled to Rip Van Winkles gardens in New Iberia, LA.  I love and appreciate beautiful gardens and enjoy the beauty of different foliages of our world.  The oaks, draped ever so magnificently in moss, were like none I have ever seen.  The food we then ate at Cafe Jefferson was beyond description. The smell of yeast rolls as we walked into the dining room was enough to confuse all the other senses.  Remoulade sauce , etouffe, and  seafood gumbo made this dining experience worth talking about.  Every detail for serving and plating the food was taken. Dining on Lake Peigneur was a memorable experience.  The beauty we discovered here is indescribable.  I also noted to my husband that everyone was dressed and seemingly enjoying the dining experience. We love to dine and it truly seems to be a forgotten experience. We experienced true Cajun dining  and a time to appreciate the food and the beauty of this region.  The culture is rich and the creative kitchen work is masterful. Every seat provided a stunning view of the lake and oak trees that is breathtaking.  The atmosphere was relaxed and no one was in a rush to leave their dining table. It felt like days gone by.  

I have always wanted to go to Avery Island and this is where our adventure sent us next.  Avery Island is where the famous Tabasco sauce is made.  You can sample products and see all the new sauces being discovered from the famous Tabasco pepper.  Tours of the plant go on during the week and you can view the whole bottling process.  This weekend was one for the books and I just cannot believe the clothes I chose suited the trip so well. I was so excited to have gotten my new slip dress in the mail last week so I chose it for the sheer delight of having somewhere to wear it right away.  I have been looking for a new slip dress for some time and love the fabric this one is made from. It traveled quite well!  The fabric is thick enough and the fit is quite nice. I also always love a good summer hat and this one came in handy while touring the gardens. While I am crazy about all things Texas, I love the history and I cannot lie, the food of Louisiana. My navigator hit a home run this weekend and our longhorns put on a great show too!  See you at the regionals!!!!

Dress by Everlane

Hat by Haberdashery in Austin, TX

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