Friday, April 24, 2009

Should I Even Share?

Sadly, there will be no Food for Friday this week. I'm out of town and haven't been cooking much! We've been busy enjoying warm sunshine, cool air, blue blue skies, no humidity, and views of these:

But, I do have one other interesting piece of info to share....

So, word came to the hubby and I today from a friend that the preview for our episode of Home Made Simple has been posted on the website. It was fun to watch but a little painful at parts. (What is up with me talking out of only one side of my mouth? I immediately asked Truman, do I usually do that? And why does it look like my manly husband is wearing more make-up than me on the photo? Make-up is necessary for the filming, but surely not for the photo?)

I'm still excited to see how they edited the show, but I'm also feeling like an hour is going to be a LONG time watching ourselves on TV! Who really enjoys seeing their quirky facial expressions on video? Or on national TV? Hmmmm...... I am so tempted to not share the link, but it can't be hidden, so I might as well let you in on the sneak peak. (And yes, this is the only preview we've had as well!)

One last random thought...a funny story. Today, Tru and I were driving in the car and praying out loud. As he ended his prayer he said "bye" unexpectedly. We just started laughing. There was something so sweetly conversational about it, but it was also just really funny. And, can I tell you how much I adore my hubby's belly laugh? It's good for my soul.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Tour of Trattoria Lisina

Allow me introduce you to our favorite little Italian spot just outside of Austin, Trattoria Lisina. We discovered this vineyard and restaurant last fall after several friends had raved about their visits, and we've already been back. It's less than an hour outside of Austin and is a little taste of Europe tucked away in the hill country. Let me take you on a tour of one of my favorite spots!

There is a winery on site where you can take a tour on Saturdays. They walk you through the process of creating and bottling their wines. You can then visit the tasting room for a sampling of their wines.

There are beautiful gardens in front of Trattoria Lisina that overlook the vineyards. The gardens weren't even in full bloom during our fall visit, but it was still a peaceful place to sit on a bench by the fountain and enjoy the architecture and landscape.

Trattoria Lisina has a huge patio that overlooks the garden. In the summer months, they remove the glass windows and it transforms into an open air patio where you can dine alfresco. No matter what season you visit, the patio is a lovely place to enjoy your meal.

The menu is authentic Italian and the best Italian fare I've had anywhere in the Austin area. The fresh herbed bread is fabulous and their oil dipping sauce is the best I've had. (I asked during our last visit what they add into their oil because I would love to try to replicate it at home. They add finely chopped fresh oregano, garlic, parsley, salt and freshly ground black pepper. It is so flavorful!) I would highly recommend the's my favorite!

This is the dining room. If you take a seat at the bar, you can watch the chefs in action. There is also a gelato case if you'd like something sweet to finish off your meal.

This quickly became one of our favorite places to escape to for a leisurely drive through the hill country and a wonderful Italian meal in a location that feels far from Austin and decidedly more like a day trip to the European countryside. There is such beauty tucked behind those gates! If you have never visited and live anywhere near Austin, you should definitely plan a time to enjoy it yourself. I hope you enjoyed the little tour!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Food for Friday: Stuffed French Toast

I am really excited to share this recipe with you! I made it for our Easter Brunch last weekend and it is SO delicious and SO easy! I got the inspiration from a buffet in Las Vegas during our visit earlier this year. Truman and I both had a few pieces of their banana & nutella stuffed french toast and loved it. I thought, I could totally make this at home. And I can! I came back and whipped up my own version. I've made it several times since and everyone raves about it.

Bananas (3-4 for the whole loaf of bread)
1 loaf of Texas Toast bread (Don't use the regular sandwich bread! The thicker bread makes all the difference! And yes, you can find Texas Toast style bread outside of Texas!)
Fat Free Half & Half (I used Land O Lakes)
Powdered Sugar
Cut each slice of bread in half. Spread both sides with nutella. Cover one side with banana slices. Sandwich together.

Mix approximately 10 eggs with 1 tsp. of vanilla and approximately 1/2 cup of the half and half in a medium sized mixing bowl. Beat with a whisk to mix well. Add more half and half if needed & blend. Sprinkle cinnamon generously across the top of the the egg mixture and gently whisk in.

Preheat a griddle to medium heat. Spray with olive oil or nonstick spray. Dip each slice of french toast into the egg mixture, making sure to cover all sides well. Let any extra egg drip off and grill each slice. Because the slices are so thick, after the top and bottom are lightly browned, I also turn them on the sides to make sure the egg cooks well on the edges too.

Sprinkle with powdered sugar and enjoy! This is one of our new favorite brunch treats! Let me know if you try it!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Our TLC Air Date!

If you've been around my blog for long, you know that Truman and I were selected for an episode of Home Made Simple on TLC! The crew came to our home for 3 days in January to shoot. Many of you have been asking if there was any news on what date our episode would air and the answer has been no, no, no. ;) But I received word from the producer and we finally have an air date!

A sneak peak at a few photos from the taping of the show! No hints on the projects though! You'll have to tune in!
Taping my interview portion

Our episode of Home Made Simple will air on Saturday, May 2 on TLC!!! It airs at noon EST/11:00 am Central.

Truman taping part of his interview

The shoot was a ton of fun and an absolutely wonderful experience, but Truman and I aren't convinced that watching ourselves on screen is going to be quite as fun! I guess we'll see in a few weeks. ;) It's tempting to keep the date a secret so we don't have to be (potentially) embarrassed in front of friends on national television, but I thought we should let you in on the fun. So, set your DVR's! After the show airs, I'll be posting photos from the shoot and some of the projects we worked on!

The chaos that was our front yard when we were shooting a scene out front

(If you missed my posts in January about our experience taping the show, you can find them here and here.)

On a totally different note, have you seen this? My mom tipped me off to this amazing digital crafting tool that can cut vinyl and paper into any shape and any font in any size, straight from your computer or an SD card!

Check out all the things it can do... My birthday was this week, and I still had some money saved from Christmas, so I ordered one and it's on it's way! I'm so excited! It is so incredibly versatile and I can't wait to see all of the projects I will be able to use this tool to create! Scrapbook pages, cards, tags, banners.... I can't wait for it to arrive!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Food For Friday: Spinach & Artichoke Dip

I was planning to post my recipe for homemade meatballs tonight, but as happens too often, in the excitement of sitting down to eat, I totally forgot to break out the camera!

So, instead, I'm going to share one of my favorite party dips and appetizers, Spinach & Artichoke Dip. I got this recipe from my friend Stacy and it's one of the best homemade versions I've had! And it's easy. Another major bonus in my book!

(I apologize that the picture doesn't look nearly as appetizing as it tastes! Spinach dip is hard to photograph!)

1 jar (6 oz.) marinated artichoke hearts, drained & coarsely chopped
1 package (9-11 oz.) frozen creamed spinach, thawed
1/4 cup mayo
1/4 cup sour cream
1 garlic clove
1/2 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a food processor (I use my mini food processor), chop the artichoke hearts until finely chopped. Add the spinach and chop until fine. (If you like bigger pieces of artichoke hearts & spinach, you can skip this step! I prefer everything finely chopped.)

Mix the artichoke heart & spinach mixture with the mayo & sour cream. Press garlic into the mixture and add the cheese. Mix well.

Spread into a small casserole dish and bake for 20-25 minutes at 375.

I love to serve this dip with Stacy's Pita Chips (Simply Naked)!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Shabby Metal Grate

I found this beautiful floral metal grate at a tag sale last summer. I'm really curious what it was originally used for. I loved the shape and intricate floral carvings, but the color was too dark and too mauve for my space. But, for just a few dollars, I knew that with a little paint, I could give it a new personality and really highlight the details I loved.

I brought it home and broke out my cheap sponge brushes (you can get them super cheap at craft stores and I always have a bunch on hand in my craft stash.) I used my .99 cent acrylic paint and first covered the entire piece in a creamy white. I did wipe it down, but since it had already been painted, I didn't need to sand to help the paint adhere. After the white paint had dried (maybe 45 minutes), I then used a darker khaki shade of paint to brush just the raised edges. In spots where too much paint went into a crevice, I just used a paper towel to remove the excess.

Here's the finished product hanging above the guest room window! I am so happy with how it turned out. (Click on the photo to enlarge and you can see the darker paint layered on top of the white.) A very quick & easy makeover!

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Flowers & Celebrations!

We've had a very full weekend! We left Friday to drive to Houston. It's bluebonnet season here in Texas and the drive from Austin to Houston was beautiful! Several stretches along the highway were completely covered with the beautiful blue state wildflower.

We spent the first part of the weekend in Houston with Truman's family. Truman's dad was ordained on Saturday morning and we were able to join him for the ordination service and a celebration luncheon. This special day has been a long time coming and we are so proud of him for his faithful answer to God's call on his life! It was so evident by the crowds of people who wanted to be a part of his ordination service that he is greatly loved and appreciated for the love with which he serves and ministers to others. Congratulations, Daddy!

And today, we were back in Austin to celebrate Cohen's first birthday with our friends, Josh & Wendy!

We got to spend a beautiful, sunny afternoon celebrating this cute little guy! We had so much fun watching him dig into his cake and dance while he opened his presents. Could he be any more adorable? He is such a joy and we have loved watching him grow and change this past year. We can hardly believe he turned one today!

Happy 1st Birthday Cohen!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Food For Friday: Spinach Souffle Stuffed Chicken

Ever since I first tried this recipe, I've loved how quick & easy it is while still being healthy. I can prepare the chicken to pop in the oven and put rice in the rice steamer with less than 10 minutes of prep, and go off to work on something else while dinner is cooking.

Here's the simple ingredients you'll need:
Stouffer's Frozen Spinach Souffle
4-5 large chicken breasts
olive oil spray

Preheat the oven to 350. Spray a glass casserole dish with olive oil.

1. Cut the souffle into 4 or 5 pieces in the tray. Sometimes I need to pop it in the microwave without the film for 25 seconds or so to soften it just enough to cut through it. You want it to still be firmly frozen though!

2. Using a sharp knife, slice one side of the chicken breast open in the middle to create a "pocket."

3. Lay the chicken breast open like a butterfly and sit one slice of the souffle on the bottom flap.

4. Pull the top of the chicken up and over the souffle slice, hiding the spinach souffle inside. It's ok if the chicken doesn't completely cover the souffle.

5. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until the chicken is cooked through.

How easy is that? We love to serve ours alongside whole grain brown rice and whatever other veggie I have on hand to steam or sautee as a side. The souffle gets soft and oozy as it bakes inside the chicken and adds a nice sauce to go with the rice. It's healthy and full of flavor & veggies with little work. That's my kind of meal!