Friday, October 29, 2010

Cruising Past Refineries and Plantations

On Sunday, Day 2 of our NOLA trip, my dear husband and I made plans to drive up River Road along the west bank of the Mississippi (look I spelled it right!) River and enjoy the scenery. Once we had roused from our ability to sleep in without a 2 year old nut to wake us up, we drove over to Cafe du Monde in hopes of beignets and cafe au lait. Unfortunately, we didn't think about the fact that there was a Saints game in town that day with a 12 o'clock start. Think line wrapped around the corner and down the side walk. We could not imagine enjoyable thoughts of standing in the spit of rain for an hour. Off we headed to Starbucks for our own version of beignets and cafe au lait - sour cream donuts and iced coffee. Thank you to the Starbucks employee who whispered that she gave me two extra donuts since the first two were "a little bit broken". Thanks - 4 donuts - just what this girl needed while stuck in the car for hours.

Driving up River Road is a mix of refineries (oil, chemical, grain, etc.) that are incredibly large and impressive, quaint towns that have turned back the clock 30 years, sugar cane fields that go on for miles and beautiful plantations. There were times that we got a glimpse of a very large barge or ship over the levee that was carrying supplies up and down the Mississippi. It is just amazing to be driving among towns so simple in nature that are driven by the industry of the river and the accompanying refineries. The sugar cane fields have inspired my husband that we should buy land along the river in Louisiana and build our own little plantation.

Our first stop was Oak Alley Plantation. It was GORGEOUS! We were able to walk the grounds and go on a quick tour of the home to learn more about the way of life and people that had occupied the home in times past. I will let the pictures do the talking:
 Oak Alley
 The reason it is called Oak Alley - isn't this breathtaking?
 Loved the tall magnolia trees.

After a lunch of Zapps potato chips and Dr. Pepper - yeah the picture of health - we continued along River Road. Our next stop was Nottoway Plantation. The mister took me to this beauty for one of our first dates while he was attending LSU. We took these pictures from the levee across the street since they were setting up the grounds for a wedding.
 Nottoway Plantation
 View along the levee
Way down yonder on the Mississippi (that is how it goes right?) Just kidding.

After leaving Nottoway we drove through Baton Rouge and the LSU campus. There is no way to describe the magnificence and magnitude of Tiger Stadium. Even from the bridge over the Mississippi it appears larger than life. We headed back to NOLA along I-10 in order to meet a friend driving over from Gulfport. We met up in the quarter and enjoyed a dinner at Crescent City Brewhouse followed by dueling pianos at Pat O'Briens. The dueling pianos is a must on your NOLA to do list. The crowd can be a bit rowdy, but that is what you should expect in the quarter. Finished off with our long awaited beignets and cafe au lait from Cafe du Monde, it was the perfect day!

with Belles and Beauxs

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Louisiana Purchase Deep South Sweets' Style

My dear husband on the levee in front of our weekend purchase. Big spenders - eh?

Just kidding, but the mister and I did head off to NOLA for a business trip turned weekend getaway. He was a speaker at a large conference there this past weekend and I tagged along for fun and games. The last time I had visited the crescent city was when I was in 4th grade and my dad took me on a walk down Bourbon Street after dark. Lets just say that the images are still burned into my brain! 

The first day we arrived in the morning and located our hotel in the warehouse district. I loved the views of the lofts and flats that people had made into their permanent homes. It was a more quiet and quaint part of the city but walking distance from the French Quarter. 

We left the hotel and made our way over to the French Quarter. The smells and sights haven't changed much but the atmosphere is fun and carefree. We had a authentic Cajun lunch at Pierre Masperos. I am not to the level of taking pictures of my food before eating yet because I am a dig in and devour kind of girl. I lunched on Red Beans and Rice with Grilled Andouille. It was amazingly creamy and smooth with all the right spices. The Andouille was just enough to kick it up a bit. The large pieces of french bread were perfect for sopping up the last bits of red beans that were lacking in rice counterparts. The Mister enjoyed a Gator Po-Boy which satisfied his desire to "eat some gator" in his words.

After putting in some serious walking around the quarter including the infamous Bourbon street, we made our way back to the hotel for a little rest and pitiful LSU football. What better to raise us from our game day depression we took a cab over to Dickie Brennan's Steakhouse for a reservation the Mister made the week prior. The atmosphere was typical of a steakhouse but the service was impeccable. It was eye catching to watch the dance of their waitstaff along the expanse and I mean expanse of the eating area. 

I ate the typical steakhouse meal. Starting out with a steakhouse salad that was dressed in a delicious green peppercorn dressing. Very similar to a Caesar salad with a lot more punch. My main course was an 8-oz Filet cooked perfectly to medium with a side of Bearnaise sauce. The seasoning on the steak carried the Cajun spice you expect without overpowering the meat. All of the dessert choices looked incredible, but unfortunately at that point our two waiters might have needed a wheel barrow to get me out of the establishment. We chose to walk back to the hotel to hopefully burn off the plethora of calories we had just consumed and enjoy the breezy night air.

Day 2 - Plantations and Refineries: Driving Up River Road

with Belles and Beauxs

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Deep South Home: Cupcake Costume

Another October Project under my belt and now 3 more to go. I think I can, I think I can. I finished up the nuts Halloween Costume just in time for her to wear it to Trunk 'n' Treat at our church. I definitely learned a lot in the process of sewing and know ways I would do it differently next time around. All in all I am happy with how it turned out but the loops of icing might be a little on the snug side for the nut.

Without further ado...
Little Miss Cupcake
She is pretty darn proud of her costume and tells everyone else that they too will be a cupcake for Halloween.

with Belles and Beauxs

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Deep South Home: Trick or Treat Banner

I am so excited to say that I have accomplished two of my October projects. The first one was this lovely little "trick or treat" banner for my mantle. My mantle is currently B-O-R-I-N-G because I am slowly redoing the color scheme for the entire living room. I love the color this added to the room and brought in a little Halloween spirit.

I used the $1 aisle paper packs from Target and cut them into triangles. I then punched a scalloped circle out of black card stock and added the letters by adorable glitter stickers. I then attached the circles to the triangles using sticky dos (no clue how to spell that one but I can't live without them). Finished the whole thing up by tying each triangle together with black and white polka dot ribbon. It is simple and not over the top but brought out the fall colors in the room.

with Belles and Beauxs

Monday, October 18, 2010

Deep South Eats: Low Country Boil

This weekend was full of celebrations in honor of my dear husband's birthday. The peanut and I packed up and headed out on the road on a business trip with him to Florence, AL. Saturday night, our group of friends from church came over to enjoy a feast of Low Country Boil. Sunday, we rounded up the celebrating with an after church lunch with family. I catered Smoke Jack ribs and chicken which were simply amazing accompanied by Boursin Cheese Potatoes and Romaine Crunch Salad. Simply delicious and simply stuffed.
***(in the haste of celebrating I forgot to take a picture of my own boil)

Low Country Boil was one of my husband's requested birthday dinners. It is a meal to be shared with friends and family because there is SO much food to go around. I use this Paula Deen recipe from this cookbook as my guide but definitely adapt it to our own tastes. 

Crab Boil (I prefer Old Bay)
3 lbs red potatoes, washed but unpeeled
1 lb good quality Andouille sausage, cut into 2 inch pieces
1 lb smoked sausage, cut into 2 inch pieces
6 ears of corn, cut in half
2-3 lbs. shrimp unpeeled

Fill a large pot or two with enough water to cover ingredients. Add two teaspoons of crab boil per quart of water and bring to a boil. Adjust crab boil to suit your taste. When the water boils, add potatoes and sausage. Cook on medium heat for 20 minutes. Next add corn and cook for another 10 minutes. Finally, add shrimp and cook for no more than 3 minutes. Drain and serve on newspaper covered tables (or platters for the OCD at heart).

This is great served with warm, sourdough bread and a crisp, tossed salad. I am not good at guessing how much it will serve, but I would say around 10 people easily. I often will slice the Andouille sausage slanted and the smoked straight so that those who are less fans of spicy (loser) will avoid eating the wrong sausage. I also will make one pot with shrimp and one without for parties to avoid a whole epi pen disaster!

with Belles and Beauxs
(my spell check wasn't working so I apologize for my lack of spelling abilities)

Monday, October 11, 2010

Deep South Eats: Suzy's Taco Soup

This beauty comes straight out of my amazing church cookbook. There are so many "regulars" I have from this cookbook. Basically 325 pages of goodness. This recipe is the perfect fall/winter soup. It is fast and super easy. It freezes very well and makes a huge quantity. I have altered the recipe a little bit to match my families personal preferences, but I have also included the original amounts.

Suzy's Taco Soup (because everyone's church cookbook recipe starts with some one's name - j/k)

Ingredients: (DO NOT drain any of the canned goods - the juice helps make the base)
1 lb. lean ground beef (may use up to 1 1/2 lb.)
1 large onion, chopped
2 (16 oz) cans of chili beans (Mexican style and up to 3 cans may be used)
1 (16 oz) can whole kernel corn
1 (16 oz) can chopped tomatoes
1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce
1 1/2 cup water
1/2 (4.5 oz) can chopped mild green chiles (may use up to a whole can)
1 (1 1/4 oz) package of taco seasoning mix
1 (1 oz) envelope of Ranch-style dry salad dressing mix (I use Hidden Valley)

Cook beef and onion over medium high heat until well browned. Drain grease. Put into a large Dutch oven or soup pan. Stir beans and remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes. Serve with desired toppings - Frito's, sour cream, shredded cheese, chopped tomato, shredded lettuce, chopped avocado, etc.
Can be doubled or prepared ahead. I like to freeze it in single serving containers so they can thaw overnight and be ready for lunch or to take to work for dinner (that is why there is no picture because it is currently all frozen).

with Belles and Beauxs

The Sweet Kitchen: Whats on the Menu?

This week there is a very important birthday in the Deep South Sweets house... my dear husbands. When it is your birthday in my household we try to go all out. This means that the Weekly Menu Plan goes to the birthday person's favorites. Then next week it is back to my personal cooking whims!

Monday: Mini Pizza Pockets and Salad
Tuesday: Chuck Roast Barbecue Sandwiches, Chips, Watermelon (If I can still find any that is good - it is Mark's favorite)
Wednesday: Chicken in Wine Sauce, Garlic Green Beans, Rice Pilaf
Thursday: Breakfast for Dinner
Friday: Out to Eat
Saturday: Low Country Boil, Salad, Sourdough Bread, Ice Cream Cake
Sunday: Family Birthday Dinner: Ribs and Barbecue Chicken and sides to be determined

Let me know which recipe you want to see, and check back this evening for the Taco Soup Recipe. It is amazingly delicious and simple.

with Belles and Beauxs

Friday, October 8, 2010

Deep South Home: October Projects

I begin with a semi-heartfelt apology for the blog silence the last week. My peanut was sick with a high fever to start our week off and I just never regained my footing. I know you all have missed me sooooo much. The 500 pieces of fan mail were a good indication that I needed to blog blog again (you know like try try again - and j/k about the fan mail I only got 100 pieces - no seriously...none).

This weeks meal plan round here was B-O-R-I-N-G with the exception of my taco soup. I will try to post that recipe tomorrow because it makes for a great SEC football watching meal. This week I have been compiling projects that I want to finish before the end of October.

1. The Peanut's Halloween Costume
This year the nut is going to be a cupcake. I saw a picture last year and just knew that one day the nut would be fully enveloped in this costume (best way to describe it based on the picture). I didn't push my choice on the nut, but gave her a few choices and she was set on being a cupcake. I am making a few changes from the original such as the base pink felt that is accordion folded. The frosting is going to "banilla" as the nut says, otherwise known as white, and the sprinkles are going to be glittery pink. I am going to top off the costume with a beanie hat died red and a stem to boot for a cherry on top!

2. Trick or Treat Mantle Banner
This is pretty self explanatory and check out this web page for a how-to:

3. Pumpkin Tie-Dye T-Shirt
 I know the nut will look absolutely precious in this shirt on wear orange day next week at school. Check out Family Fun magazine and website for the how-to:

4. Elastic Waist Skirts for me and the nut
I bought the most precious fabric for these skirts and cannot wait to see how cute they look with a long sleeve shirt and tights!

5. Chalkboard Labels and Chalkboard Glasses
I have had all the supplies for these bad boys for quite some time. They are screaming at me from the depths of the craft room to just go ahead and make them already. So I will take heed of their calling and go forth and create.

Hope that you have maybe found a little inspiration and some great projects to check out. In the words of my craft supplies - go forth and create! If you do make any of the projects please post on your blog and comment with the link. I would love to see them!

with Belles and Beauxs