Pimiento Cheese Recipe- Southern Style

When I moved back to Texas and got married and started a family and started cooking…a lot more, I started on a quest to learn how to cook new things. This wasn’t hard. I didn’t have much experience. So, nearly  everything was new to me. But, I know how to follow a recipe and with the internet, I can figure out how to do (almost) anything!
Pimiento Cheese is a staple at southern showers, parties, teas, etc. When a local sandwich shop stopped making them for cater orders, I started thinking about learning how to make it myself. Then, Zoe’s Kitchen moved in down the street with a fabulous, but a bit pricey pimiento cheese. I did a quick search and found a great recipe on npr.org. It’s at the bottom if you follow the link http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=6877304

It’s basically like this: You’ll need a food processor and 6 ingredients: cheese ( I use a cheddar and monterey jack mix) , 2 medium size kosher dill pickles, 3 garlic cloves mashed, kosher salt, (I put a little salt with the garlic and mash them together) 1 jar of pimientos, duke’s mayonnaise. This recipe calls for  Duke’s and I highly recommend it. It really is a better mayonnaise and it makes all the difference!

Put all of the ingredients, except for the duke’s mayo, in the food processor and briefly process it.

When it is easy to work with, move it to a bowl and add in 3 tablespoons of Mayo. That’s it! This is the easiest time to make sandwiches, because the pimiento cheese will be really easy to spread. But, if you can’t do that, place the bowl in the fridge. When you are ready to serve, remove from the fridge at least 1 hour prior to bring to room temperature. It is easier to work with and tastier to eat at room temp.

Enjoy!

Our afternoon experiment with HUMMUS!

Whipped Hummus- a delicious and nutritious snack! Made with garbanzo beans (low in fat) and fat free greek yogurt. So tasty!

So, I pretty much make Hummus all the time. My husband would say I don’t make it enough. He would like fresh hummus in the house daily. However, I think he appreciates the fact that I make it about once a week. Considering, all of my other responsibilities, that’s a lot. Well, I’ve been making hummus basically the same way for the last couple of years. I found a blog that I like http://www.dedemed.com/ and I pretty much follow her recipe to the t, except I don’t really measure anything. But, recently, I decided to try making hummus using a bag of garbanzo beans instead of a can. It required overnight soaking, changing of the water and boiling the beans. I really didn’t like the flavor. I later read that it is a good idea to change the water when you are boiling them as well and if you don’t you get a weird after taste. Considering it was more of a pain to make hummus this way, I probably won’t try that again. I really like the drained canned garbanzo beans just fine. However, we have been to a couple of local restaurants that serve a very smooth almost whipped hummus. I’ve tried putting the hummus in the mixer to see if that would “whip” it, but that didn’t seem to do anything. Then, my husband, because of his love of hummus, read online that some people boil the canned beans and peel the skin. And, that makes really smooth “whipped” hummus. So, me and Miss Trinity tried that this afternoon.

Garbanzo beans after being boiled, drained, washed, and peeled

First, I drained the beans- 2 cans. And, rinsed them a few times. Then, I placed them in a pot with water and brought them to a boil for a few minutes, stirring occassionally. Some of the skins came right off and floated to the top. Others, were not so easy. So, I drained them again and washed them removing as much of the extra skin as possible. I basically did this until I got tired of doing it, feeling that I had removed a substantial amount, so it had to make a difference.

Then, I placed the beans in the food processor and added the remaining ingredients- yogurt, garlic, salt, citric acid, lemon juice, tahini

I just throw all of the ingredients in together before processing



 To say it was worth the extra work is a little bit of an understatement. It did take an extra 20 minutes, but it was well worth it.


the result- whipped hummus!



Happy First Birthday to our son, Leeland Thaddeus! We hit a grand slam with you, kid!

Last week our youngest El turned 1. It was a really exciting time for all of us. As I mentioned in an earlier post, we had baseball themed parties for our other boys when they turned one. But, this was the first time we had a birthday during baseball season. We decided that we would celebrate with immediate family-only, that’s 28 people, with 24 that live in town and 4 that live out of town. So, we had a small party for 24 people! WHEW! It was tons of fun. Here are pictures from our afternoon/evening. We served hotdogs, chili dogs (I found a really great chili recipe online for chili dogs, which I normally don’t eat. But, I ate 2 cause they were delicious!) chips, fruit and fresh homemade lemonade. After dinner, we sang to the birthday boy. Notice how he covered his ears when we sang to him! It was hilarious. I think it was just too loud, but he never stopped smiling. Then, we had cake and headed over to the Ballpark to watch the Astros play. After the game, they have a fireworks show on Friday nights. So, we stayed and watched that. It was a Queen inspired show and it was probably the best fireworks show we have seen there. It was really impressive and ended with Bohemian Rhapsody. Awesomeness.
So, everything was great. We had a wonderful time. And, Leeland managed to stay awake and didn’t go to bed until 1130 that evening. Waking at nearly noon the next day. He’s pretty cool.
So, we want to say happy birthday to our little Leeland, lovebug, little boy. You are amazing. We are so proud of you. We love you, we love being your parents and we love watching you grow. You rock, kid!

Me with my 1 year old son, Leeland. LOVE!
Grandmother giving him cereal before the party

LOVE!!!!!!!!!!!!

Cutie on his new ride

New present from Grandmother and Grandfather

Birthday boy with El Momma

The food was delicious if I do say so myself.

Happy boy with his Jiddy

with my Jiddy

Playing cars with my cousin

Look at my two teeth!

the crowd gathers for the birthday song

almost ready to sing

the song begins

covering his ears

covering his ears for the birthday song

the crowd waits

ready to blow out the candles

Big boy!

Cake!

Grandma love

You’re one!

bitter cake?

Princess T and the birthday boy ready for the game!

daddy’s little boy

the party at Minute Maid Park

our view

can you say “cotton candy?”

pretty

Fireworks with Momma

Ready for Birthday Fireworks!

Rockin  out with Christian to Queen during the fireworks show!

Leeland’s Birthday Painting, the Third Painting in the series

When I began painting the first of what would eventually be three paintings, I had no idea that I would be painting variations of the same painting more than once. The first painting was for our first son, Bakri, when he turned one. We planned  a baseball themed birthday party. I made him a cake shaped like a baseball and decorated like a baseball and I painted a baseball jersey on canvas for his wall in his room. I used the painting as part of the decoration for the party and I made a cake that matched the jersey. That was all for the first birthday of the first child. Little did I know, God would bless us with 2 more little boys with first birthdays! So, this week, I began the fun job of painting Leeland’s first birthday painting to go with the paintings for Bakri  and Maddux. Here’s how it went:

And, here they are all together….Leeland’s is nearly complete. My blue paint was old and didn’t offer much coverage. It was the day of his party when I made this discovery. So, we just went with it. I’ll finish it soon. I promise. As for the significance of these paintings, well they are very important to my babies. I realized that this week when working on Leeland’s. It was so cute to watch the other children light up as his painting became more and more finished. In fact, Bakri (our 6 year old) now wants me to find a way to make real jerseys…hmmm…I’ll have to think about that one for a bit. Maybe when they stick with one size for a while.
Leeland’s painting with a cake ordered from H.E.B. They do a good job with the jersey, don’t they?!
The famous baseball cake by El Momma. I really do enjoy making this cake!
The Happy Birthday side of Leeland’s baseball cake.
Pictures from Leeland’s first birthday party and day to come soon! We had a great time celebrating our little Leeland!

Baked Salmon recipe from Cooks.com

BAKED SALMON FILLETS OR STEAKS
I adapted this recipe from http://www.cooks.com/rec/view/0,183,150184-232207,00.html
Content Copyright © 2011 Cooks.com – All rights reserved.

EASY BAKED SALMON- delicious
Salmon fillets, any portion size, boned and skinned
crushed Garlic, to taste
Pepper
Kosher Salt
Duke’s Mayonnaise
Paprika

Preheat oven to 375°F
Wash and dry fillets. Spread thin coat of mayonnaise over salmon. Place salmon in foil lined pyrex dish.
Sprinkle seasonings over fish ending with paprika.

Bake in 375°F. oven for 15 to 25 minutes or until fish flakes easily.

There is a first time for everything

Even in my thirties, well actually, especially in my thirties, it is thrilling to get to do something for the first time. This was one of those experiences for me. On Sunday, I was asked to sing the “anthem” song for the traditional service. I chose the song “Forever Reign” written by Jason Ingram and Reuben Morgan. I felt like this was an opportunity for me to play a very simple accompaniment at the piano and sing from my heart. So, I did. I feel really blessed to have had this opportunity to play and sing. It was a real humbling and wonderful experience for me. I have been amazingly blessed throughout my entire life to be able to sing with some of the most talented and gifted pianists around. So, honestly, it is hardly ever necessary for me to play for myself. But, I enjoyed it and hope you will too. Moustapha (my husband) recorded it from the balcony.

http://youtu.be/znemJYGHPic

El Momma- the political/ civic duty side

If you know me very well, you probably are familiar with most of my sides.

There is the mother of four side. A little bit quirky, allowing a drum set to be played regularly in my living room. A little bit of a rule follower, believing a nap is the key to a happy life. And, a little bit of a mess, believing that if I spend too much time cleaning, we’ll never have as much fun as we are meant to!

Then, there is the wife side. That one goes hand in hand with my mother side. She is loving, patient, and sometimes driven crazy by her husband. The wife side of me is very happy and in love and grateful to my very loving and supportive husband.

Next, there is the art/music/creative side. She bakes, she decorates, she paints, she sings, she writes music, she leads worship, she plays the piano and sometimes does nearly all of these at once.

The side you may not know, is the civic duty/ political side. I’m not talking about Republican, Democrat, Independent or whether my daughter’s tea party was a political statement. No, I’m talking about local politics in Houston. I’m interested in it. I love to work with my neighborhood and have been active in my civic association since we moved here at the end of 2004. This year, after thinking I would take a break, I am serving as President of the Civic Association. I have really enjoyed it. Last week, in particular was a big week for me and for our neighborhood. I spent a lot of time with my stomach in knots, but in the end, it was worth it.

Here’s what happened in a brief synopsis:

The City of Houston offers neighborhoods inside the loop the option to protect their blocks with the Minimum Lot Size Protection. City of Houston Planning Our neighborhood is fairly small. We are approximately 8 residential blocks. We are now nearly all protected by the minimum lot size. It sets a lot size minimum for the next 20 years and restricts development to single family residential on the lots that are currently undeveloped or were being used as single family at the time the application was put forward. Being that our neighborhood includes some non-deed restricted properties, this protection is huge for the residents. It protects them and gives them certainty for the next 20 years.

In September, we had an application denied by the Planning Commission. It was heartbreaking. My husband and I had spent countless hours on the application for this one block and in just a few minutes, we were denied. It was hard. Thus, began the process to get a new application in and approved. So, I continued having conversations with the neighbors on the block who helped with the first application. I met with our district councilmember. She met with the director of planning. I wrote letters and received a direct response from the mayor of Houston. After the dust settled, it was clear, our only option was to complete and submit a brand new application.

What does that mean? It means that we had to contact every supporter on the block to get an updated signature of support and we would need to increase our support by adding more support signatures. It seemed a bit daunting. There are 45 properties on the block. But, we believed we could do it and we did. One of the active supporters on the block started us off with a signature from a recently sold property. This was a new signature. So we started off strong. And, we went after every signature. We got them. and we did it fast. We gained more support and ended up with 62% of the entire block supporting the application. But, this was not enough. I continued to have conversations with our District Councilmember, the planning department and I reached out to the Mayor, asking neighbors to join in. I even attended a fundraiser for the Mayor knowing I would have her attention for 2 minutes and used this time to talk to her about this application. The Mayor was a part of the drafting of this original ordinance when she was a Councilmember. I believed strongly that she would support our application. I then met with the neighbors and we organized a presentation to use our time wisely before the Planning Commission. We presented very well. And, the Planning Department did a great job explaining our application to the Commission. We had 6 speakers in total speak in support of the application. We presented pictures, evidence of complete compliance with the standards of the ordinance and testimony by neighbors. You can click here:
http://houstontx.city.swagit.com/Council_Commissions/ Select July 7. Item IV. to view.

In the end, the hard work paid off. We were rewarded with the minimum lot size protection which is in addition to the setback already on the block. I am thankful to all of the support we received from the city of Houston, from the neighbors on the block and in the neighborhood. We are going to benefit greatly from the protection for the next 20 years. Congratulations, everyone!

And, so, there it is. A little taste of my political/ civic duty side.

There are many more sides to this El Momma. But, for now, I will give in to my calm side, take a  break and rest before doing my daily routine of Yoga. Namaste.