Monday, August 24, 2009

Meet Jayco

Summer 2009 - definitely a summer to remember! While most of you know all the wonderful memories & stories we have from living in a travel trailer over the summer...I thought it was only necessary to let you actually "experience" or more like see our trailer which we called "home!" While we hated most days (like the days we had to empty the sewer tank "shitter" or like the night the awning ripped off in the middle of the night or all the many days I locked myself out or all the days we had NO get the point) is an experience Allen & I will NEVER forget, definitely will cherish (now looking back), and continue to laugh about all the crazy things that happened to us while in that trailer, not to mention we found a new love for each other & realized if we can make it through that experience...we can make it through just about anything! The funny thing is we went to Allen's parents over the weekend & when we pulled up we saw Jayco & were like "ohhhh, there's Jayco!" Believe it or not it was bittersweet to watch the trailer I can say I literally have lived through a Chevy Chase kind of vacation, guess that's what I get for lovin' those stupid movies...

BUT...there is NO other person in the world, I would have wanted to experience trailer living with than Allen B. :)

Jayco is now a sweet memory & we are most definitely LOVING our new place & all the room! Pictures to come soon of our new home...but for now I leave with JAYCO!

Our "spot" at Green Tree Village #319

There she/he is...our home for 2 & half months

Goodbye Jayco!!! Thanks for an unforgettable summer! :)

**Sorry...I had been meaning to take photos while we were living there & never got around too it but as Allen's parents began to drive off...I shouted "Wait...I need to get a picture of Jayco!" Good thing I carry a small camera in my purse - just for those kind of moments! :)

Friday, August 21, 2009

Zucchini Bread

Shredded zucchini goodness

Yesterday I made zucchini was a first for me. I normally am a banana bread person but for some reason I decided to make zucchini bread instead this time. Allen was unsure at first...squash nor zucchini are his favorite. For an extra added flavor, I added chocolate chips and omitted the pecans/walnuts because I was making the bread for Allens' co-workers. Never know who might be allergic to nuts & I would hate for someone not to be able to enjoy the yummy zucchini bread. The recipe below is from one of my favorite recipe websites - Smitten Kitchen and you can find her website link under "Some of my favorites" located on the right-hand of the page.

Zucchini Bread

Yield: 2 loaves or approximately 24 muffins

3 eggs
1 cup olive or vegetable oil
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 cups grated zucchini
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)
1 cup dried cranberries, raisins or chocolate chips or a combination thereof (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Grease and flour two 8×4 inch loaf pans, liberally. Alternately, line 24 muffin cups with paper liners.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs with a whisk. Mix in oil and sugar, then zucchini and vanilla.

Combine flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda, baking powder and salt, as well as nuts, chocolate chips and/or dried fruit, if using.

Stir this into the egg mixture. Divide the batter into prepared pans.

Bake loaves for 60 minutes, plus or minus ten, or until a tester inserted into the center comes out clean. Muffins will bake far more quickly, approximately 20 to 25 minutes.

*I substituted unsweetened applesauce for the oil - less fat. My bread was a tad bit hard on the edges (not sure why but next time I will probably add more applesauce & maybe reduce cook-time by a few minutes). But if you heat up the bread and put butter on's delicious! Allen said it was "a hit" at work...hopefully he wasn't telling me that to just make me feel good ;) I made one good size loaf pan & 12 cupcake muffins with this recipe.

Dry Ingredients w/ chocolate chips

All mixed together ready to go into pan

Friday morning breakfast

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Getting settled...

All packed & ready...Reno wanted to be sure he didn't miss a thing! He rode on this pillow next to Allen all the way from Odem to San Antonio - Reno always makes sure he is NOT left where ever we take him or go! Such a silly boy!!

Well after two and half months of trailer living, we have now upgraded! Last Thursday, Allen took off half a day and we headed south to Allen's parents to which kicked off a very busy weekend of moving. Normally Allen despises moving but not this time...Allen could not wait to move into our new place! Moving meant no more flushing the sewer on a weekly basis, no more hitting your head on the AC in the bedroom, no more being locked out on a regular basis (that would be me), and no more trailer park located in a not-so-good part of town! There were two murders in the area during our stay at Green Tree Village. Yikes! Thursday night after dinner, we took on the task of packing all of our wedding gifts - Allen wanted to leave @ 7am Friday morning to get to San Antonio just in time to pick up our keys. Allen and I decided not to use our wedding gifts until we moved after graduation. Turned out to be a great idea considering everything was still packed in its original packaging which made it so easy to transport to San Antonio. After almost 2 hours, we finally had everything packed (excluding our beautiful china & stemware - don't have room for those things just yet), ready to go! I did not realize how much wedding stuff we actually had (well after a year & half I guess you forget)...took Allen's truck, Danny's truck, and my new little Jeep to fit everything!

Move-in day...Friday morning we hit the road @ 7:15am, it is just over a 2 hour drive from Odem to San Antonio. I got to drive the Jeep which was fun since it will be my new vehicle for the next 6 months or so. My car was on a lease & I turned it back in yesterday & Allen's parents were kind enough to let us use their 3rd vehicle for awhile so we didn't have to rush into buying something right now. Not having a car payment for a few months will be wonderful since I currently do not have a job. God is good & always takes care of us!

We made it to Walker Ranch (our new place) right around 9:30, got the keys, and the moving began...Danny & Allen moved the big stuff while I carried small boxes (did I mention we are on the 2nd floor?!) and Nancy unpacked boxes. We actually got lots unpacked & done on Friday. The highlight of the move...Allen and I made our first big appliance purchase! Yay! We bought a new LG front loading washer & dryer. Oh and I absolutely LOVE them! They play a song when the load is done!!! I was like someone's cell phone is ringing...haha, no it was the washer! Laura, I will post a picture of them just for you :) Another plus to our new move (well it's good yet very bad), there is a Whataburger seriously within walking our backyard essentially. Not good! Haha...when I don't feel like cooking having Whataburger so close could be a problem! Allen & I joked saying I hope it's a "bad" Whataburger, soggy fries, dry hamburgers, bad service...haha!

Thank you to all of our generous friends & family for all the wonderful gifts! I am just in love with all of our kitchen stuff...the Pottery Barn dishes are just beautiful! One day I will have a kitchen big enough to fit everything nice & neatly! As well as a nice big oven range :)

Our new place has so much room...2 bedrooms & 2 baths! Ohhh la la...can't wait to have visitors! I have unpacked MOST of the boxes except the boxes labeled "keepsakes" and "computer/desk stuff" - we have yet to set up the big computer. I really wanted a smaller desk for it instead of the huge one we had and we have not yet got a new desk. I need/wanted room for my sewing table! There is still nothing on the walls...takes me awhile to decide where I want things to go. Also I was hoping my mom would come & help with that, she's good at that kind of stuff! It is so nice to finally be in our new place and I'm enjoying making it home sweet home. Just wish I had a job because there are sooo many things I want to buy like new bedding! Haha, I guess those things will have to wait...I'm believing God has something great in store for us and for me regarding a job. I am looking forward to having friends over for dinner, family & friends coming to visit, and Allen & I having a great place to call "home!"

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Creamy Cajun Seafood Pasta

Talk about comfort food....

HEB had big gulf, white shrimp on sale so I decided to pick some up one day last week and well...creamy pasta is my weakness! Not knowing really how I'd cook the shrimp at the time of purchase (we normally have grilled shrimp kabobs on a regular basis) I thought...I really want something different & delicious. Not that grilled shrimp isn't delicious (unless you're Amanda or Momma B :P) I just wanted something "different!" One our favorite Italian restaurants is Caffe Capri located in downtown Bryan. They have the MOST delicious Cajun fettuccine (we always add crab). It was always a great date place for Allen and I. Well, I decided I'm going to attempt to make Cajun fettuccine with my plump shrimp purchase just like Caffe Capri :) so I searched the internet for recipes (I sure miss all my cookbooks that are packed in storage) and came across two that I liked & decided I'd combine the recipes to hopefully get the result I wanted (not very often to I actually follow a recipe, I think I get that from my Nana - she never used recipes)...made my grocery list, went to the store, came home & started cooking! Oh my turned out amazing! It was so close to Caffe Capri's, if not even better! I told Allen, I even impressed myself with this one!

Now...don't be turned away IF you are not into seafood or shrimp! This recipe could easily be made with chicken and after all who doesn't like chicken fettuccine?! And if *spicy* or *cajun* isn't your thing could always omit the hot spices, that's the great thing about recipes! You can tweak, omit, add, create your own to your liking. Either way give this recipe a try, I promise you won't regret it! Just your waistline might...but it's okay to splurge and this is definitely better for you than going out to eat for fettuccine. Also, I thought this recipe was incredibly easy to make considering it was my very first time to attempt alfredo type sauce from scratch.

Creamy Cajun Seafood Pasta

1/4 cup butter (I used 2 tablespoons)
1 lb shrimp, peeled & deveined
1 to 2 packages of ready to eat imitation crab (or the real stuff if you want, Allen really likes crab so I did 2 pkgs)
1 cup milk (I used whole for extra creaminess & yes, fat!)
1 cup heavy whipping cream (16 oz carton)
1 glove garlic, minced
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
Cajun seasoning to taste (depending on how spicy you want it, I just add & taste until I get it to where I like it)
1 package of fettuccine, angel hair, bow-tie whatever pasta you like/want
Pecorino Romano & grated Parmesan cheese (palm full of each)
Chopped parsley

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook pasta until al-dente, drain. (I let water boil while I'm cooking seafood & sauce...don't like my pasta to get cold)

Melt butter in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Saute shrimp for 1 minute or until almost white, stir in minced garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Remove shrimp with slotted spoon; set aside. Stir in flour and Cajun seasoning. Cook about 5 minutes or until flour as been cooked down. Whisk in milk and heavy cream, then cook until thickened. Stir in Pecorino Romano & Parmesan cheese. Add crab and shrimp to sauce. Remove from heat. Pour sauce over cooked pasta and gently mix sauce into pasta. Garnish with chopped parsley, more cheese, & fresh cracked black pepper.

Dinner is ready...sit & enjoy!

Helpful Tips:
If you would rather have chicken, saute chicken breast to your liking and add to sauce the same as you would seafood. I would not season the chicken because the sauce has so much seasoning in it. You could also add scallops to this pasta. If so, saute the scallops with the shrimp then proceed.

Also, if you do not have Cajun seasoning on hand - you do NOT need to go out & buy some. Here are the spices I used in the recipe to create the Cajun seasoning: Cayenne pepper, onion powder, paprika, black pepper, ground white pepper, sea salt, red crushed pepper, garlic powder, celery salt. Sorry, I just keep adding spices until I like the taste...I seldom every measure so can't give you exact measurements. I do know that the cayenne pepper, onion powder, paprika, sea salt, and ground white pepper is what I used the most of. OR if you have Cajun seasoning or Tony Chachere's use that! Tony Chachere's is a stample in our pantry but making my own Cajun seasoning was fun.

If you have ever made cream country breakfast gravy, this cream sauce is the same concept. Just keep whisking milk/heavy cream until thick & to prevent burning. Also, if you would rather not use heavy whipping cream, you can use 2 cups of cow's milk instead.

Hope you enjoy! Would love to know if you try this recipe! It is even great the next day for leftovers. Allen said this recipe is definitely a keeper & wants me to make it again & again. BON APPETIT!