Thirsty Thursday--Frozen Mango Margaritas with Ginger Orange Sugar

I have never been a huge mango fan, 
but while shopping the other day I walked by them and I was almost knocked down by the most wonderful fruit smell.
They were so fresh and smelled so good that I had to pick up a few.

With these same mangos I made salsa.
But, what salsa is complete without a margarita?!?
I made this one a little different--frozen instead of on-the-rocks.
It just kind of suited the mango.
Also, I experimented with the sugar topping by added ginger and orange
 to give it a little something special.

Frozen Mango Margaritas with Ginger Orange Sugar

(serves 4-6)

For the Sugar:

1/2 cup coarse sugar
1 tablespoon orange zest
1 teaspoon grated ginger

Mix well and allow to sit for a few days for the flavors to combine.

For the Margarita:

1 cup mango, cut into pieces
6 ounces tequila
3 ounces Grand Marnier
2 ounces fresh orange juice
6 ounces fresh lime juice
3 ounces simple syrup
2 cups crushed ice

Combine the mango, tequila, Grand Marnier, orange juice, lime juice, and simple syrup in a blender.  Process until pureed.  Add the ice and blend until smooth.  Serve with with a lime wedge and  rimmed with lime juice and ginger-orange sugar.  


Tomato Tarts

I love Paula Deen, 
(even if she makes really bad for you food--that's so good).
I know that she is trying to be better, 
but, like her,
I really like butter to and it makes food taste so good!!

Ha!! Ha!!--Paula Deen--you so funny!!
Really, y'all butter does make everything better, along with bacon and puff pastry--
which leads me to our post today.

Which, has no butter in it, but does have puff pastry.

Don't these look incredible.
They were--one of my new favorites.
We devoured them.

Tomato Tarts
(slightly adapted from Food Network--Paula Deen)

1 sheet frozen puff pastry
Flour, for rolling
Olive oil, for brushing
1/2 cup grated white Cheddar cheese
4 or 5 Italian plum tomatoes, cut into 1/4-inch slices
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, chopped fine
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Remove the puff pastry from the freezer and allow it to thaw for 20 minutes.

Unfold the pastry on the counter and roll down, using enough flour to prevent sticking.  Brush the dough with olive oil and, using a 1 1/2- or 2-inch biscuit cutter, cut out rounds of dough.  Place the puff pastry rounds on the prepared baking sheet and poke the surface of the pastry with a fork.  Top each round with a small amount of the Cheddar, then with a tomato slice.  Sprinkle salt and pepper to taste over the tomato, and then sprinkle on a pinch of thyme and about 1 teaspoon of the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.  Bake for about 15 minutes.  Let cool for 2 to 3 minutes before serving.


A New Spring Entry--In Progress

Every spring I really like to add something natural to my entry.
I don't think that there is any better way to greet your guests than with something that is really pretty.
Last year I made terrariums and really loved them.
Believe it or not, some of the plants are still alive and thriving without hardly being watered.
Those little suckers really work.

This year I decided to keep it pretty simple.
I found a beautiful copper bowl on a recent antique hunt and added orchids and moss.

I'm still planning on adding something else to the copper tub, but just haven't found the right thing yet.
I just couldn't wait to share these beautiful blooms.

We have one orchid that hasn't bloomed yet, but is loaded with buds.
It is going to be beautiful.

Jerk Chicken with Mango Avocado Salsa

A while back I bought this cookbook on a whim

and  EVERYTHING in it is so good.
All of those caribbean flavors--sweet and spicy.

The author explains that "JERK" is an authentic Jamaican method of cooking pork, chicken, seafood, beef, fruits and vegetables over a fire pit or on a barbecue grill.  
She also says that Jerk seasoning is highly specialized to include a combination of scallions, onions, thyme, allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg, chilies, and salt.

I love all of these flavors and I really love them all together.

I also love that they incorporate fruits and vegetables with all of the seasoning together with the meats.

So here are the recipes-I got the marinade recipe from the book, 
but added the rest on my own.
The mango-avocado salsa really compliment the jerk seasonings and add another layer of freshness to the entire dish.

Jerk Marinated Chicken Thighs with Mango Avocado Salsa

For the marinade:
(From "Jerk From Jamaica")

1 yellow onion, finely chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped scallions
2  teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon Jamaican allspice
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 habanero, jalapeño, or serrano chili, chopped
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon cider vinegar or distilled white vinegar

In a blender or food processor, combine all the ingredients and process until smooth.  Store leftover marinade in the refrigerator in a tightly closed jar for about 1 month.

For the chicken:

4 cups chicken thighs
1 1/2 cups Jerk marinade

In a shallow pan, place the chicken and cover with the marinade for at least 4 hours (overnight is best, though).  Reserve 3/4 cup marinade.

 Place your marinated chicken on a grill with a temperature around 250 degrees skin side down.  Cover and cook the chicken basting with the reserved marinade.  Turn the chicken every 10 minutes or so for approximately 1- 1 1/2 hours.  The chicken is done when internal temperature reaches 160 degrees.

For the Mango-Avocado Salsa

1/2 red onion, diced
1 large avocado, diced
1 large mango, diced
1/2 large tomato, diced
1 jalapeño pepper, minced
juice from 1/2 of a lime
salt to taste

Serve the chicken with the salsa on top.


A Few Blooms

A few blooms that we are starting to enjoy...

I just love spring--everything in new and beautiful.
I love seeing the flowers starting to bud and the grass starting to turn green.
Such a wonderful time of year!!

Sweet Links

This weekend, my hubby and I ventured to the Big D to get our shop on.
He's so excited!!
He loves following me around asking me "Where are you going to put that?" and "Don't you have a shirt exactly like that one at home?".  
Just kidding--he's a good sport and we really needed a quick getaway.
Hopefully it will be romantic and fun--lots of good food too.

I've been wondering around the blogosphere and here are some fantastic sites you should check out--

You''ll fall in love with her photography and I can't wait to make this recipe--my mouth is watering.
Doesn't it look great--yum.

This site is amazing, more beautiful food pictures.
I wish that I was this creative with my photography (gotta work on that).

Maybe my next dinner party will  be styled like this one, we'll see.

I really want a bedroom like this, or whole house actually.

Hope you have a great weekend!!

I Felt The Burn

I know that I mentioned in my post on Monday that I had a heck of a week last week.
I actually had an allergic reaction to a very popular facial regimen 
that resulted in a chemical burn to my face.

I know you are saying to yourself--"Oh My Gosh, That's Bad".
And yes, it really was.

After visiting my dermatologist last week, I met with the esthetician in his office.
We discussed several different facial products that I might possibly want to try.

I decided on Obagi.
I've heard nothing but good things about this product.
In my research, I did hear that it was strong.
But, in no way did I think that it would effect me the way that it did.
I was just hoping for a miraculous transformation--younger looking skin.

(Now, I am in no way saying that this product is not good or that my dermatologist was not correct in recommending it--I am just sharing my story.
My dermatologist's office actually went above and beyond in helping me with this--I was seen right away and given free medical care and a full refund of my money.)

What I do want to mention in this post is that I did not do my part to make sure that this product would work for me.
I should know better, I have horrible allergies.
I know that I have mentioned that before, but I've never had a reaction to a cosmetic.

I have always tried new products out on a tender part of my arm--in the bend of my elbow.
They say the skin is thin there and will show you if you are prone to irritation.
I did actually try out the product, but only one of the products.
They are all so different and I was not very smart to not try them all.

I used this product twice and I woke up at 2:00 am with a face swollen approximately three times my normal size.

I was completely freaked out.

I can't bear to share the whole picture of my face, but here is a close up of my skin.
(I actually had water blisters all over it--and this was after 3 Zyrtec, 6 Benadryl, and a Cortisone shot.)

So here is the moral of the story--always try out every single product prior to putting it on your face!!
Especially if you have allergies.
Mine are actually getting worse the older that I get.

I cannot stress this enough and believe me I will always try out everything prior to using it.

All of this has really gotten me to thinking about using more natural products, especially when it comes to cosmetics and beauty products.
The only problem is--what if I'm allergic to those products?
I thought that I've had every allergy test possible, 
but now I've got to have a week long test for chemicals.

I plan on researching this more and hopefully sharing my finds right here.

(** Actually I'm now almost all the way healed--my face is a little tender, but basically had a chemical peel.
My skin peeled off in sheets.
It is still a little dry and I'm still using a cortisone cream on it until it heals all of the way.
I have used a light moisturizer (all natural) and my face seems to look pretty good.**)

Have you ever had an experience like this?
Do you use all natural products??

Thirsty Thursday-- Grapefruit Margarita

I just can't get off the margarita kick.
I guess 80 degree weather is trying to fool me into thinking that it's spring-early summer.
I keep forgetting that it's only March.

I've decided that I really need a couple of citrus trees in my backyard--especially a lime tree, a lemon, grapefruit, and maybe a blood orange one also.
Can you tell that I have a thing for citrus??
If only my husband agreed and if only they would grow here in our Louisiana clay.

These margaritas are a little bit on the tart side.
I really like that, but I'm sure that you could make them as sweet as you wanted,
 just add a little more sugar.
Go ahead and try the orange bitters--it adds a little depth to the cocktail.

Grapefruit Margarita

2 ounces tequila
1 ounce Grand Mariner
1 1/2 ounces simple syrup
1 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
2 ounces grapefruit juice
1 dash of orange bitters
salt for the rim, lime/orange wedges for garnish

Rim the edge of your glass with a lime wedge and dip in margarita salt.  Fill the glass with ice.  In a cocktail shaker, combine tequila, Grand Mariner, simple syrup, grapefruit and lime juice with ice, and shake for about 30 seconds.  Add a dash of bitters.  Pour over ice and garnish with a slice of lime.


Hosting a Fish Fry

There is almost no party that I love to host more than a fish fry.
My husband really loves to fish and usually I try to be a good, healthy cook and grill it or bake it,
but every so often you really need a good piece of fried fish.
There's nothing like it.

This time we were very fortunate that we had a ton of white perch--so good and mild,
catfish, and shrimp.

We also made fries and hushpuppies 
and served all of this with creole tartar sauce and homemade spicy cocktail sauce.

Add a few cocktails and some ice cold beer, and you have
the perfect party!!

 I didn't do anything particularly special to the fish or shrimp.
I used Louisiana Fish Fry, cajun and lemon seasonings.
You just about can't get much better.

What I did make especially for this party were some delicious hushpuppies ( I got this recipe from my friend Greg a few years ago and they are so delicious) and creole tartar sauce, and will share with you today.

Greg's Hushpuppies

1/2 to 2/3 can of cream style corn
3/4 cup self-rising flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 tablespoon sugar
1 egg
few drops of Tobasco
2 green onions, chopped
1 jalapeño pepper, minced

Heat oil to 375 degrees.  Combine all ingredients and drop by tablespoonfuls into the hot grease.  Fry  until they are golden brown.  Make sure to flip them at least once.

Creole Tartar Sauce

1 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon creole mustard
1 tablespoon green onion, chopped
1 tablespoon parsley, chopped
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
2 tablespoons capers
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon red pepper
few shakes of Tobasco

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and chill for at least 1 hour prior to serving.


Fruit Pizza

This is one of my all-time favorite desserts.
Sugar cookie, cream cheese icing, and fruit--you can't get much better.

The beauty of it is that it is super easy to make, decorate, and it is so delicious.

Fruit Pizza

1 package ready-to-bake sugar cookie dough
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
fresh fruit (I used kiwi, strawberries, and blueberries)

Place the cookie dough in a tart shell (I think this looks really pretty), poke holes in the dough so that it doesn't rise too much, and bake according to package directions.  Allow the cookie dough to cool to room temperature.

Combine the cream cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla until well blended.  Spread the mixture on the cooled cookie crust.  Top with assorted fruit.


A Small Family Wedding

I don't know why I haven't posted these gorgeous pictures yet.
But I was thinking of it when I took last week off.

(I know, I took a week off--it was one of the craziest weeks that I've had in a long time--more on this later this week---I had a heck of a chemical burn on my face--yes, my face!!)

But now on to the beautiful wedding.

Our daughter Lauren gave us a whole three weeks to plan her wedding.
It really wasn't all that bad though.
Once we had a definite "yes" from the caterer, bakery, photographer, and florist--it was smooth sailing.

Lauren and Tanner were married in the most beautiful little country church.
The church had also been the wedding site to his mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother.
Lauren's attendants were her sister, Paige, and her childhood friend, Emma.
Tanner's two brothers served as the groomsmen.
It was a small, intimate wedding.
We were so lucky to have the food catered by my good friend, Tiffany Martin,
and all of the photography was by Dee Ann Arnold (who is awesome).

Congratulations to Lauren and Tanner!!