tuesday things: you can take the girl out of Texas…

But you can’t take Texas out of the girl!

This past weekend, I made an impromptu trip to Texas to surprise my friend Arielle at her wedding shower soiree. Since I can’t make it to the wedding, I watched fares religiously for this weekend with the hope that they would go low enough for me to make it. I booked a great flight that allowed me to maximize the full weekend without taking time off work.

Friday night Mom, Kathy, Resalin, Kelsey and little munchkin Silvia picked me up from DFW. It was a fabulous showing of the ladies and I was super excited to see each of them. Even though Mom and Kathy came for a visit in June, I hadn’t been to Texas since the holidays and had been feeling homesick for a couple months. Res, Kelsey and I had a bit of wine and cheese, courtesy of Jude, and spent some time chatting.

The next morning we met Kathy for brunch at Pete’s. You guys, I’m not saying this just because my parents own the place, but Pete’s Cafe is a Farmers Branch staple, and shame on you if you have not been! I spent the afternoon with Dad and Jennifer then made a stop by the Asby household to drop off a b-day gift for Betsy. Then it was time for the soiree…

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Mmmm #bacon! #getinmybelly

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^^ Silvia enjoying her bacon like a good girl! ^^

The look on Arielle’s face when she saw me was priceless! She screamed and cried a bit then spent the rest of the night telling everyone how I’d flown from DC to be there. TOTALLY WORTH IT! Also it was pretty much the coolest shower I’ve been to because it was one big backyard bbq with a keg instead of the awkward standing around in dresses making small talk while eating finger sandwiches before gathering to watch the guest of honor open presents, naturally cooning at each item. (Can you tell how I loathe your typical shower?) I spent time catching up with old friends and eventually had to make my way back to Dad’s.

Arielle and me :)

Arielle and me :)

MIS girls all grown up!

MIS girls all grown up!

We went to a late dinner at Cantina Laredo of table-side guac, ahi tuna tacos, enchiladas, and of course, margaritas! It was a great time and also delicious – especially once we got the apple dessert of sorts that was drenched in sizzling brandy butter. Yum.

The next day I ate at Pete’s again for breakfast, but this time while catching up with friends Emily and Madison. Phone dates, texts, Facebook posts will do to an extent, but nothing compares to a good face-to-face chat with friends over coffee, wine… or both! (Don’t judge. The coffee came at breakfast and it was after noon by the time we had wine.)

Soon it was time to return to DC, which always makes me sad. At least I knew that Dave would pick me up on the other side, more than enough reason to be happy!

I love Texas and it will certainly always be home. Here are just a few of my favorite things about the Great State**:

1. Pete’s Cafe. Duh. I ate there twice and even got lunch to go on the way to the airport – had to have the chicken fried steak sandwich once on my trip! Add jalapenos and it is perfection between buns.

^^ Pete’s chicken fried steak sandwich with a roadie rose on the way to DFW ^^

2. Getting picked up at the airport, usually by Mom. Even if I saw her just a few weeks before, she is always so excited to see me! (I’m obviously excited to see her too!) It’s definitely the perfect greeting, and even better when one or all of the other ladies join. (Notice I am mentioning nothing about getting dropped off at the airport. Leaving is no fun!)

3. Meals with Dad. Wine with Dad. It’s always fun to just relax and eat, relax and drink. Dad usually cooks, but even going out to eat is fun!

4. Sunsets. The Texas sunsets are this perfect blend of pink, orange, blue, purple, red… basically every color.

^^ the view from my window landing at DFW ^^

5. Backroads driving with country on the radio. I love driving the windy roads of Texas with country blaring on the radio, going down to my mom’s property in the Texas Hill Country, or driving to A&M, which leads me to my next point.

6. Texas A&M. Aggie football is just about the best sport in the world. I made some great friends and memories in Aggieland and really miss that place. Gig em!

7. My friends and family that live all over the state. The hardest part about leaving Texas is not being able to see them regularly. These short weekend trips are just not enough, but as you can tell from my “Of House and Home” series here, here and here, I won’t be moving back anytime soon. (Yes, I know it’s been a while since I posted about the house, but it will come this week. Promise.)

**After writing this, I realized that my friend Olivia wrote a similar theme in her blog last month, Mother May I. Check it out!

 

What are your favorite things about Texas??

#FoodieFriday – (Sorta) Jalapeño Popper Pasta

Earlier this week I made blackened swai with a mango salsa. These three mangos have been sitting in our fridge for a couple of weeks, and I needed a way to use at least one. Ding – Mango Salsa! Except I didn’t have any jalapeño. “Luckily” for me, Daisy needed treats, which led to a trip to that black-hole of a store where you can’t help but spend more time and money than you could ever have expected Target. The great thing about Target is that you always find things you don’t need. Like a HUGE bag of jalapeños.

photoClearly I couldn’t turn this down, especially since it was less than $2, even though I only needed half of ONE pepper for my salsa :)

I digress. The mango salsa was not the point of this post, although it was tasty. The point was to write about my Wednesday night creation, (sorta) jalapeño popper pasta. I needed an outlet for all those peppers so that they did not go to waste; hence I scoured the interwebs for inspiration and came up with what follows.

First I halved and cored my lovely green monsters. I call them monsters because I could barely breathe throughout this entire step of the process. I think Dave was ready to call in medical assistance!

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Then I placed the peppers face down on a cookie sheet and baked at 450 for a while – precise, I know. Once they browned a bit, I flipped them over to roast a bit longer.

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While the peppers were heating up, I mixed a cup of almond milk, a cup of nonfat Greek yogurt and two cups of veggie cheese (normally this would read heavy cream, cream cheese and shredded cheese, but I was thinking about our waistlines) in a saucepan to warm on the stove. Later I realized this was not working because veggie cheese doesn’t really like to melt, so I had to get the blended involved. More details to come.

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With the peppers toasted to perfection, I put them in a food processor with a bit of olive oil and a heap of minced garlic. My dad has had this same jar (no, not this same exact jar, but many many jars of the same product) on hand for as long as I can remember, and I simply can’t imagine cooking without it.

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At this point I decided to put everything in the blender – the pepper blend and the creamy almond-milk-yogurt-veggie-cheese mixture. It smoothed everything together nicely, and I poured the cheesy jalapeño sauce back into the pot, adding salt, pepper and cumin. At some point in the process I began the pasta-water boiling process and cooked some rotini noodles. Once all was fully cooked and warm, I drained the water and covered the pasta in the “popper” sauce! The pasta was served with a side salad and wine, of course :)

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What were some of the best meals you had this week?
Which was your favorite?

 

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