Thursday, July 29, 2010

Skillet Shrimp and Sausage with Rice

8 huge links of Portuguese sausage were the last of the goods brought back from Hawaii by Devin's cousin. I knew just the perfect meal to make with a couple of the links. It's one of those stand-by meals I make for me and Sean about once a month and it's one of the most flavorful, comforting suppers.

It was especially good when I made it this time, because the sky had let loose with a crazy storm and we were all a little soaked from the downpour. It's a recipe from Rachael Ray and it will always be one of my easy favorites.

Her recipe gives the quantities and instructions for making 3 meals at once and freezing the two, but I'll break it down into what I used for a meal for the 4 of us. We had little bit of leftovers for lunch the next day.

2 cups white rice
1 Ib frozen shrimp (cooked or raw; mine were cooked)
2 links of sausage (mine was Portugese, you can use chicken-apple, spicy jalepeno, whatever you want!)
2 tbs butter
3 tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 tsp minced garlic
1 can diced tomatoes
salt and pepper to taste
3-3 1/2 cups chicken broth
2 stalks of celery, chopped (optional, my addition)
Tony's or other creole seasoning (optional, my addition)
A couple shakes of hot sauce (or to your taste)

First, prepare all of your ingredients by chopping your onion, bellpepper, sausage and celery (if using).

Heat skillet to Medium-High and add olive oil and butter.

Add the UNCOOKED rice, onion, bellpepper, and celery and cook for 5 minutes, stirring to coat all ingredients.

Now add your sausage and garlic and cook for 3-4 minutes.

Next, add in your can of tomatoes with all the juice, season with salt, pepper, and cajun seasoning, such as Tony Chachere's (if using), and then add you chicken broth. Bring the mixture to a boil and then lower the heat to Medium-Low. Cover with a lid and let simmer for 17 minutes, or until rice is tender.

Add in your shrimp and stir for about 2 minutes if the shrimp are precooked and 5 minutes if they are raw.

Just before serving, I added a couple shakes of Hot Sauce, such as Tabasco or Louisiana. Each person can add as much or as little spice as they'd like to their own bowl. It should be hot, thick, creamy and juicy!

Mmm...I'm craving more now! Trust me, it is SO good. Keep this in mind for the next rainy day.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Our Dream Home!

::"Home, the spot of earth supremely blessed, dearer, sweeter than all the rest.":: ~Robert Montgomery

I've been getting earfulls about my lack of blogging consistency lately. I know, I know I seem like a slacker! But really I'm an overachiever who has about 86 thousand things to take care of right now. BIG things! Our lives have been action-packed since we moved back, and I've had to carve out time to study several hours a day. The time until I need to take boards is dwindling fast! But we can cross one thing, possibly the most important thing, off our lists...
We have a house!

I've always had big dreams about everything I wanted my forever home to be. And we were ready to have our forever home now rather than having to move AGAIN, for the FIFTH time in 6 years. I am so over moving! I stalked real estate websites for months while I was still in Conway and was so disappointed that there was nothing on the market that met my wish list...

...A southern style house, preferably white, with a big front porch, columns and dormers, on a large lot with trees in a neighborhood suited for running, with hardwood floors, a formal dining room for holidays, a nice sized laundry room, big pantry, a fireplace for wintertime and rooms appropriate for an art studio and a movie room and size that would give us room to grow. Tall order?

This is a picture I had saved in a folder on my laptop titled "Home". It's exactly what I dreamed of my house being, but I didn't know when or if I would ever have it:

Then I saw this 'Notebook'-esque beauty and knew it was the one...

Unbelievable! I just hoped that everything would work out in trying to get it.

"I want a white house, with blue shutters. And a room overlooking the river so I can paint. I want a big ole porch wrapped around the whole thing. We can drink tea and watch the sun go down..."
~Allie, The Notebook

We couldn't wait to go see it, but we wanted to get preapproved first. We contacted our lender who began working up the numbers, then found out she left for a week-long vacation before she finished. We then contacted our realtor to get a head start on viewing houses, and she too was going on vacation the same week! A week is a long time when the house of your dreams is sitting on the market!

We un-patiently waited to go see it and knew it was perfect as soon as we walked in. We had only found one 'negative' about it before arriving; The yard was unfenced and that would be a nice chunk of change we'd have to fork over pretty quickly after moving in so our dogs could go outside on their own. Then, when we walked into the backyard, we saw a large fenced area in the corner of the lot under a grouping of shade trees. It was perfect.

I'm debating on what color rocking chairs to have on the breathtaking front porch...

And would love a porch swing.

You see the staircase as you walk in the front door and the formal dining room is on the right.

I love the touches of character that just can't be found in today's new houses.

Just past the dining room is the kitchen, with an island and eat-in kitchen large enough for another full-size dining table. Since there is already a formal dining room, I plan to do a small table here and use the rest of the space as a seating area with a rug, love seat, and maybe a small tv. We had a seating area in our kitchen growing up and I was able to play in the floor or watch cartoons there so my parents could keep an eye on me while they cooked or washed dishes. I have so many memories there.

I love the countertops and island. I'm not a granite kind of girl, I guess.

The living room is next. In this picture you can see the kitchen to the left and the dining room in the doorway on the right. If you look upstairs, there's a wall along the hall on each side of the staircase. I'd like to do a gallery wall of my current artwork, with the recessed lighting spotlighting each piece, like this:

I love how it could be seen from the downstairs living room in our house.

A fireplace was a must for us. It will not be just for looks in our house!

This is the other view of the living room with french doors to the back patio.

We love the covered back porch!

A long-term future project would be to build a pergola over the extended concrete slab.
Maybe like this one...

There's a bedroom upstairs that is the same size as a master that we may designate as the movie room we've been wanting. Our popcorn machine is waiting!

Justin used to work at Muvico and had a gigantic stash of movie posters he had raided over the years. Just before we moved out, the three of us went through them and Sean and I picked out a bunch of good ones to frame on the walls of the theater room. Sean unrolled one and said, "Ooooh KK..." And I knew. It was The Notebook movie poster! I can't wait to have them hung. We also got the giant banner from The Notebook we could hang to be seen when the screen is up.

I got my nice sized laundry room! That cabinet door to the right houses a fold down ironing board. It's so cute!

And there's a double-door pantry like we had at my house growing up. I always wanted one so I could be prepared and organized for meals.

My mind is spinning with ideas and the laptop files are full of images for inspiration. We have to wait til the end of September to move in so we will both have paychecks (neither of us can start working until August!) and so the current owner can move out. Be sure to check back as the house projects ensue and undoubtedly make up the majority of the content on this blog!


Baby Shower for Lindsay and Baby Avery

My best and oldest friend in the whole world is due in just a little over a month, and I can't wait for Avery to be here! I hosted Lindsay's pink and black baby shower, along with a few friends, and it turned out great. There were a few bumps in the road (the invitations were originally sent with the wrong date...Crisis! and our big hostess gift was a duplicate) but she got alot of great stuff for Avery and everyone enjoyed it.

We gathered silver, pink, white, and clear serving dishes and fresh pink flowers for the food table.

{I made hand-written labels for each food item from leftover invitation paper.}

I found this vase at Hobby Lobby for Lindsay to put in Avery's nursery after the shower. On the food table, it held prosciutto-wrapped breadsticks which are SO good and super easy and quick.

  • Buy refrigerated breadstick dough, such as Pillsbury, and cut each strip in half lenthwise to make thinner breadsticks.
  • Bake according to package directions.
  • Wrap with thin strips of Prosciutto from the deli section of your grocery store.
  • Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
These Cream-Stuffed Strawberries were an idea from Paula Deen, that I tweaked a little, and they are perfect for showers or parties.
  • Mix softened strawberry cream cheese with marshmallow cream, whatever ratio you want, and scoop into a ziplock bag with the corner snipped off.
  • Slice the stem off each strawberry, so they have a flat bottom to sit on.
  • Cut two slices, making a cross into each strawberry, stopping before you hit the bottom.
  • Open the four pieces of the strawberry so that it fans out, and pipe a dollop of cream into the middle.
{Sausage Balls in this adorable pink pedestal bowl.}

{Serving punch in a jug with spout is alot more convenient than a punch bowl.}

{The plate table had pictures of both Brandon and Lindsay when they were babies.}

{I painted the frame backing black and used letter stickers for her name. We placed it by all of her gifts.}

She loves her black and pink bedding!

One gift-giver boycotted pink:) The purple and teal is so cute though.

Avery is outfitted to be an Arkansas Razorback fan!

Her Hogs hairbow!

{The hostesses with Lindsay and her mom.}

Lindsay, you're in the home stretch! Avery is going to be well-loved and beautiful!


Tuesday, July 20, 2010


Last week, Devin had family come visit from Hawaii, who came bearing the most delicious food to prepare a feast from the islands. How lucky were we to be there!? Their family and friends gathered for as Devin described "Oriental food with Hawaiian flare". Someone said, "This is like having Bhan Thai come to your house!"

The cook, his cousin, began preparing for supper just after noon and everything was so amazing! I can still taste it just looking at the picture. Our neighbors said they could smell it on their walk around the pond that night!

These King's Hawaiian Sandwich Rolls were left behind, which sparked the idea to make my favorite sandwich from Gusano's.

Gusano's was another one of our favorite places in Conway to meet up with friends for dinner. They specialize in Chicago-Style pizza but their "Hawaiian Turkey Sandwich" has always been my pick.

Here's the description from their menu:
Freshly sliced Turkey Breast, Sweet Pineapple, Crispy bacon & Cheddar Cheese served on a Ciabbatta Hoagie Roll and served with a side of Ranch.

Gusano's was one of our regular spots...We were actually "Spotted" by the Log Cabin Newspaper at a Gusano's Razorback Watch Party and here's the pic from their website:

For this sandwich, we were fortunate enough to have the sweetest pineapple I've ever tasted, flown from Hawaii.

We buttered the bread and placed the smoked deli turkey and pineapple.

Then finished with crispy bacon and cheddar cheese and baked at 325 degrees just until the cheese melted.

We had Ranch for dipping (a must!) and it all took just a few minutes.

Gusano's version is still my favorite, and I would try a few things differently next time. I think baking the pineapple with the sandwich took away the sweetness, so I would add the pineapple after baking. And the ciabbatta hoagie that Gusano's uses is perfect for this sandwich so I would try it on that bread. But it's different, it's delicious, and definitely worth a try!


Monday, July 19, 2010

Horseshoe Lake

::"And when that summer sun starts beating down and you don't know what to do,
Grab your swimming trunks, ice up that old igloo and drive until the map turns blue."::
~Brad Paisley

Now that we've gotten somewhat settled back home, it is so much easier to spend time with our buddies and have a good time. We're so thankful. No more two hour drive or blocking out our entire weekend to make the trip back and forth. Last weekend, we spent a day at Horseshoe Lake. There may not be gorgeous lake mansions to pass by as with Beaverfork, but water's water! We had a great time.

{Seany and Dustin tubing. So cute!}

{They got their hardcore faces on! Sean approaches everything as if it's an olympic sport. You gotta respect that. :) Devin's roughing up the waters back there...}

{Nina and Dev pulled tubers on the jet-ski.}

{Ashley and Nina}

{Oliver loves his man-cave!}

{Wearing his daddy's hat}

{Ashley and Dustin}

{I was a bum. I wanted to ride, but I'm still dealing with the effects of my last tubing experience (whiplash anyone?) so it's a little hard to get back on the horse when your neck still won't turn...}

::"Live in the sunshine...Swim in the sea...Drink the wild air."::
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

{He is SO a boat dog}

{The girls rode back to shore together.}

Yes, I'm wearing glasses. I said I looked like "secretary goes to the lake"...I've been without contacts for months because becoming a licensed and registered OT has made every other need take a back seat financially. BUT I can finally see the light at the end of the academic and college-poor tunnel, so there is hope.