Monday, July 30, 2012

Master B-Room Peep Show!

I finally hung some curtains and an awesome canvas I scored on Craigslist for $40. Besides those two items and the actual bedframe, there wasn't much that was purchased specifically for this room - and I'm pretty proud of that. I snagged the four coastal framed pics (Stephen's work on IOP!) from the kitchen and reframed them; the big bed pillow was a couch cushion at the old place; my necklace hanger thing on the dresser I made over the weekend (blog post on that, eventually); and the bedside tables were quick fixes Stephen had previously purchased for the boys' rooms but we always knew they were just too small - turns out they're PERFECT bedside stands :) The other crap was just brought over when we shacked up together.

 Here's a quick reminder of the space I was working with: before pics are at the bottom of this post; click me!

I'm pretty delighted and can't wait to add some color to those walls :) I'm thinking slate gray/blue or some equally excellent shade of gray. Oh, and for the record, I had a grey room before it was trendy.

The end.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Olo! No, no; it's ROLO! ....Cookies!

These were first brought to my attention by Stephen last Christmas-ish. He mentioned his mother always made them and I was going to love them when she made them during our visit to Anderson. Of course I looked up the recipe immediately and proclaimed "easy peasy!" and then he explained how his mom usually made them... I required a nap after hearing the trouble she went through to make these cookies.

Now, usually I'm not one for shortcuts; the recipe I found - in comparison to his mother's - is a mega shortcut. I knew I would not feel like less of a woman for using the recipe I found, which required only four ingredients and - again, in comparison - a skoesch of effort.

Anyways, she never made them so I used a recipe I found online. I can't remember where I originally found it but this morning I referenced this site,, and got busy!

You'll need a box of Devil's Food cake mix, 2 eggs & 1/3 cup of oil. Oh, and a bag of Rolos :)

While you're de-foiling your candies, preheat your oven to 350 and go ahead and set out your ingredients - Rosie at insists that you/I/we bake with eggs that have been brought to room temperature. So, ok :)

Mixing the ingredients as a one-pot throw in: mix your dry box-cake mix, the oil, and the eggs (slightly beaten). Stir until incorporated and then get to stuffin, yo!

I bought a cookie baller JUST to make these special cookies. They're special this time because I'm making them for the bestie's birthday, so instead of adding cookie-flare via traditional powdered sugar method, I grabbed some simple sprinkles and ground some sea salt, to make them all adult cookie like and stuff.

Anyways. Scoop about 1 tbsp of cookie dough into your palm.

Squish Rolo into the middle, and then cover the Rolo so it kinda looks like a brown eye. Don't get distracted and grossed out. Press through - this is all worth it; scout's honor.

Decorate the cookies. Or don't. These don't bake for long (7-8 minutes) so I didn't hesitate to put the sprinkles or sea salt on before baking.

These cookies don't spread much, if at all; here they are with only 1 minute left in the oven:

Yank those suckers out at the 7ish minute mark and then, this part is optional, I smush them down a little bit. I feel like I'm really cracking into that Rolo and getting the caramel goo allll up into the cookie perimeter.

That's it, I guess. They don't take long to cool and are delicious even if they are completely cooled.

oh, and HAPPY BIRTHDAY (dinner night), SARAHBEAR!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Thai'ng one on at Litchfield Beach

Do you see what I did there... in the title... clever bitch, huh? (it'll actually make sense in a minute)

It's been a few days but the family "just" returned from vacationing in Pawley's Island, SC @ Litchfield Beach. Stephen's uncle is generous enough to let all 14 of us shack up for a week and get ourselves as waterlogged as humanly possible. ...waterlogged? sounds dangerous - and gory - if Mr. M. Knight Shamalamanalan got his hands on a rough plot base...

doin hoodrat stuff at Brookgreen Gardens

Anyways, I'm here to share a few photos, and a recipe for the Thai inspired dinner that Stephen and I made whilst there.

A while ago Q (his street name. literally) revealed his lust for some red curry something or other. So I searched and found this, originally from from Cooking Light mag: Thai Coconut Curry Shrimp. First go was easy, fast, and quite enjoyable - who doesn't prefer that, anyways? ;) The second time we made it we added a few more ingredients: red bell pepper, snow peas, and mushrooms. Again - it was scrumptious.

It's common for us to sit and talk about what we'd do differently with the recipe the next time we make the dish(hence the addition of veggies) and after this particular time, we decided next time we would simmer the veggies in the coconut milk longer and we would add pineapple! Well, we remembered to do both at the beach house (albeit in the process forgetting to add the snow peas and omitted 'shrooms) and it rocked! Like, for real, rocked!

We served the thai shrimp with jasmine rice, chicken sate with homemade peanut dipping sauces, and some purchased dumplings from The Fresh Market (y'all - this place is straight dope.)

Now, for the main event, just as it was served last, minus the quantities for serving 6ish adults:

Thai Coconut Curry Shrimp
serves 2 (easily doubled, or for us tripled!)

1 tsp canola oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 red bell pepper, sliced and then cut crossways
some pineapple, eye ball it.
1/2 tsp red curry paste
1 tsp sugar
12 oz large shrimp, de-nastified
1/3 c lite coconut milk
1 tsp fish sauce
1/4 c chopped green onion
1 tbsp chopped (fresh) basil

Heat oil in a large non-stick skillet (one with tall sides) over med-high heat. Add onion, bell pepper, & red curry paste and saute for a minute. Turn the heat down and stir in sugar, saute for 15 seconds. Slowly pour in the coconut milk and fish sauce and let your veggies cook until crisp-tender, or to your crispy preferences. Add shrimp and saute for 3 to 5 minutes - you know, until these shrimp look like the shrimp you normally eat. Remove from heat and stir in green onion and basil. (*side note - i served this green mix as a "topper" for the dish and really enjoyed it - it intensified the fresh to def'ness!)

That's it.

I mean, unless you were awesome enough to take the jasmine rice challenge, too.

Or you were lucky enough to have someone grill the chicken sticks for you AND fix the accompanying sauce you messed up for said chick'sticks. AND make another peanut sauce that suited his desire for fiiiyaaahhhh!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

She Scarfs Sea Salt Scookies by the Sea Shore

Cookies and cakes are just too much fun to make the same thing more than once. Or twice, if you're into caramel and cake. These however, will be my forever go-to chocolate chip cookie. A lil' on the fancy side, but still quickly scarfed by those not old enough to get a job.

This particular cookie - Sea Salt Double Chocolate Chip - was originally brought to you by Leslie @ The Cozy Little Kitchen. I surprisingly didn't really do anything to change the recipe so here are some pictures & side notes - follow the link to snag the original recipe!

always willing to help when cookies are involved!
When Leslie says to be patient and put the dough back into the fridge to "set" - DO IT. This isn't a cruel joke to keep you from gaining that 5 lbs you can't live without - it's for real. For real, for real.
I, like her, didn't wanna wait the hour for my cookie dough to sit - laughing and taunting me from the fridge the whole time - so I slapped that first batch in the oven hardly before I got the mixer turned off.

And they didn't look right.

The butter was too soft and cookies spread and browned entirely too much. Not too much for consumption, mind you. But I prefer a dense - even if smaller - cookie, and so I heeded warnings and chilled my cookie dough until the next morning.

The wait was worth it, not only was the texture "right" - they were gorgeous, too. See, all sparkly and shit from the sea salt:

Friday, July 13, 2012

Shark Week Isn't Hosted Only by the Discovery Channel Anymore

Hell. No.

It's pre-shark week around the Collett - Hilliard home and that means - for 1/3 of us - massive water retention, crazy cravings, sleepiness, body aches, and trying to find my motivation all-the-while continuously trying to talk myself into a good mood so I don't make an ass of myself. ...Maybe I just get the flu every single month?

It also means, apparently, another week of weight gain. Only 0.7 this week (as opposed to the 1.something last week). This is not ok.

But honestly, I cannot look anyone in the eye and say I actually tried this week. While I did eat kind-of ok, I didn't exercise one single morning (or afternoon or night) when I had the opportunity. There was one week a while back that I lost about 3lbs and during that week I made a point to exercise 4/5 out of 7 days - be it bike riding or doing my C25K program - I just did it. This is the right way to lose weight; I know that. However! The last few days I just didn't freaking feel like it. It's a rare occasion that I can "make" myself do something, especially if it requires effort - but it ESPECIALLY doesn't happen before/during shark week.

Trying to remember what I had to eat this week isn't too difficult although I'm thinking about keeping track of food again, but that requires effort - and we covered that already. Mind you, I'm *supposed* to be on a low carb diet:

Monday - Atkins for lunch, almonds for snack, probably a cheese stick, too. Fillet and grilled squash & zucchini for dinner. Plus a glass of wine.

Tuesday - 2 chicken sausage links for b-fast, a chicken salad with goat cheese for lunch (bals. vinaigrette dressing), nuts for snack, maybe an apple (sometime this week I enjoyed a Fuji apple.); Chipotle chicken bowl for dinner. I messed up here - everything in the bowl except the chicken was a no-no.

Wednesday - Atkins for breakfast, Atkins for lunch, nuts & boiled egg for snack, chicken salad & small rolo mcflurry for dinner. Being honest is hard. And while I'm at it, 3 of Josh's McNuggets and 1/4 of his small fry, too. I think I officially ended the evening with a large marshmallow.

Thursday - I actually woke up and put on my running clothes but that was as far as I got; the energy to do more continued to elude me. Instead I made 2 chicken sausage links and 1 egg for bfast. Atkins bar for lunch. 1/2 another Atkins bar for snack. Homemade chicken salad with spinach, parm, kalamata olives, peppadew peppers and Cesar dressing for dinner. Plus a few spoonfuls of Stonyfields Greek yogurt Dark Chocolate ice cream. This stuff is TDF. Probably consumed more almonds. Also, uhm, a low-carb ice cream bar. And uhhh some pimento cheese and pita chips; maybe 3 tbsp total of the spread. I repotted a plant, too - does that count for anything?!

Today - so far, I've only feasted on my anger and another stupid Atkins bar.

I've been drinking a shit ton of water; well, the recommended amount which is more than usual for me. But I think I chose the wrong week to both dine on roasted sea salt almonds and consume 60 oz of water per day.

What I really loathe is I'm totally and completely aware of ALL of the "issues" here (obviously) but I feel so stuck that I can't shake it. I know I'm going to be a shithead for at least a week, but I know it will end, I know I will go back to "normal", and I try to curb it all but I find myself giving myself the middle finger!

I hate shark week. I can't hardly make myself refuse myself's delicious ideas, and need to go to bed at 9:30 and sleep until 7. It's just not fair, dammit. I know how to do this (lose weight / get healthy) but I'm my own worst enemy.

I guess the bright side is, as I mentioned - I'm aware. It's just a battle now, and every month, to pretend like shark week is a hoax or something.

Monday, July 9, 2012

The Green Monster

A while back I purchased a hutch from CL. $30 and a quick trip across town and this ole'thing was allll ours:

I knew where I wanted / needed it in the house but that was as far as I'd planned ahead. After a quick convo with Stephen we decided it needed to be bold: I threw out turquoise and he suggested red. I wasn't going red but almost simultaneously we both suggested apple / lime green.

Our green monster baby was conceived.

A few months later, he's herrrrre! er, done, rather. The process was less than intense but took much longer than the man preferred. I started by cleaning the unit with some TSP and a rag - carefully following directions. I didn't know I should've read the directions on everything first: 

Anyways; moving on. I've heard only great things about Zinsser Cover Stain so I decided to try it out. I applied two coats since the blue was so dark - one coat with a decent paint brush, the 2nd coat with a cheap ass foam brush. The foam sponge thing kicked ass.

Eventually I started painting it. I like to really, really make sure the primer has "cured" before step duex. I'm a dirty liar; I'm just lazy. Or was working on starting a few other projects instead.

After two, probably four (by choice & because one coat was done while drunk and it dried looking like it was melting), coats of paint - first with the brush then a final coat with the foam - it was ready for some 'urethane, what what! I grabbed a satin finish, because it just felt right, and foamed on two coats of it. The can suggested three but Stephen was not into having that thing in the garage for another week. 

We installed the mega inexpensive stemware racks I found on Amazon and then he spray painted the beadboard slat things high-gloss gray, nailed them in and tadaaaa. The gray grounds that bright ass shade of green and doesn't overwhelm you to the point of convulsions. I also like how the cork worked as a shelf liner; I intended to use it on all three shelves but didn't feel like cutting anymore to size. 

There was original brass hardware that came with it; we considered replacing it but noticed the holes for the existing pulls were nowhere near standard width so I decided instead to paint them with Rustoleum's Oil Rubbed Bronze. <3

It's still not quite done - I need to grab a case of wine for the middle shelf and I want the stemware hangers to be hung slightly different. Eventually the drawers will be lined with contact paper or something equally cost effective and aesthetically pleasing. ..eventually.

Stephen is getting used to his scotch being across the room. Seriously, we're gonna have to find a way to bring the kitchen counters closer to the alcohol; he did suggest putting the green thing on wheels. Not too shabby an idea, sir.

Anyways, I'm just thrilled with the results; all the hours spent in the hot garage, DEET'd up (skeeters suck.) and sometimes drunk-up, were well worth it.

Now, to figure out what to fill those drawers with... ;)

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Shrimp Sandwich, Shrimp Salad, Shrimp Kabobs... KABOBS!

A blog that I follow, That's What We Said, does a meal-plan helper thingy at the start of each week. They're always interesting but this week's really piqued my taste bud-y interests! Specifically: crock pot chicken tacos, fancy beefaroni, & shrimps...  With the holiday week, upcoming quickie vaca, and our schedule with the 2/3rds a little altered, these three recipes I knew would work really well for us.

Tuesday night I made the Grilled Jalapeno & Lime Shrimp skewers, as found here, on Ezra's Pound Cake blog. I didn't alter her recipe in regards to ingredients, but because I'm lazy I skipped a step ... maybe two. Who cares? Neither of us, I'm sure. ...did we just become best friends?

Well, theys all sortsa things you can do wit shreemp...

I'm trying to stay low carb so I can kick some intraoffice biggest loser competition ass, so I decided to dice up a few veggies & a mangoooo to go with the shrimp. I cut up 1 each of zucchini, squash, red bell pepper, mango, and 1/2 a Vidalia onion. Assuming you're into this sort of thing... I chopped the veggies & mango, threw in some of the other stuff, stared at it, put it in a grill pan thing and then hoped for the best. I mean really, you can't go wrong with grilled veggies, especially ESPECIALLY! when you add delicious sweet fruit. I've never cooked with a mango before, or even tried to cut one up. I really only guessed that I was supposed to peel the skin off. Turns out I was right. Woot!

Unless you have the metal kind, go ahead and start soaking your skewers. Otherwise, here's the 'pe.

1 to 2 jalapeƱo chiles, seeded and chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil
6 cloves garlic, minced (1 to 2 tablespoons)
Zest of 1 lime, plus 5 tablespoons juice 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt

Measure the marinade ingredients into the food processor, and process until smooth. Set aside 2 tablespoons of marinade. Transfer the rest to a large bowl.

While the shrimp were marinating I chopped the aforementioned veggies, drank another beer, and cranked up the grill; perhaps not in that exact order.

1 1/2 pounds extra-large shrimp (21 to 25 per pound), peeled and deveined
1 teaspoon sugar

Pat the shrimp dry with paper towels, and butterfly them. (Make a shallow cut along the outside curve of the shrimp to open them up a little.) Or just buy them deheaded, deveined and flayed and have a beer to celebrate your time-savings.

Toss the shrimp into the large bowl with the marinade, cover, and refrigerate for 30 minutes to 1 hour.

Thread the marinated shrimp onto skewers, alternating the direction of each shrimp. (You should get 10 to 12 shrimp on each skewer.)

Sprinkle sugar on one side of the shrimp skewers.

Grill the shrimp sugar-side down over the hot part of the grill until lightly charred, 3 to 4 minutes.

Flip skewers, and move them to cool side of grill. Close lid and let rest until other side of shrimp is no longer translucent, 1 to 2 minutes.

Using tongs, slide shrimp into a clean bowl, and toss with the 2 tablespoons of reserved marinade. (Or, if you want to serve the shrimp on the skewers, brush on the marinade.)

Serve immediately.

Chopped Veggies:
1 Zucchini
1 Squash
1/2 Onion
1 Red Bell pepper
1 Mango
Sesame Seeds
Sea Salt
Balsamic Vinegar

I considered skewering this stuff, too, but I was about 3 drinks deep so instead I just tossed them into a grill pan and I put them on the grill while I skewered le'skrimp. Total time on grill was probably 12ish minutes. This is also dependent upon how thick & evenly you chop your stuff. I watch Food Network. I know these things.

The veggies made a great "bed" for the shrimp and the previously zested lime wedge was the perfect fresh zing on each bite. And that's all I have to say about tha-at.