Lemony Pasta Salad

We are planning a huge trip.
A huge trip with 3 other couples.
The only problem with this trip is that it's not until next February.
The trip we are planning is to Miami and a cruise to San Juan, St. Kitts, and St. Maarten.

We cannot wait.
So in honor of this cruise with some of our dearest friends, 
we decided to have a "Cruiser Dinner" every few months to plan.

A few weeks ago, we had our friends over for a "planning" cookout and I thought that this pasta dish would go perfectly with our meal.

I found the recipe on pinterest.
It seems like every recipe that I make, lately, I find on pinterest.
(I really can't remember what we did before.)

Lemon Pasta Salad
(adapted from Jamie Krell)

1 tablespoon olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup chicken broth
1-2 lemons (juice and zest)
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 pound pasta
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan or Romano cheese
1/2 bag of baby spinach
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts

Boil water and cook the pasta according to package directions.  Drain and set aside.
Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Cook the garlic briefly (less than 1 minute or so, careful not to burn).
Add the heavy cream, lemon juice and zest, chicken broth and salt/pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil, then lower heat. Simmer sauce for about 15 minutes. It will reduce and start to thicken.
Add the sauce to the cooked pasta. Add the vegetables and pine nuts. Add the cheese at the end.

I made this salad early in the day and refrigerated it so that it was cold when served.

I'm linking to

Our Back Yard Garden--End of April

On weekend nights, when we decide to stay in, 
we have fallen into a routine sitting on the patio until dark (sometimes after--usually the mosquitos determine when we go inside).
I usually always have a cocktail or a glass of wine and we wander around the garden looking at all of the plants and flowers.
It's a very relaxing night.

Here are a few pictures that I took of our garden this past Friday night
(cocktail and camera in hand).

An amaryllis left over from two winters ago.

One of the flower beds behind the driveway.
This bed is really starting to come together.
It's full of plants that butterflies love.
The fence is covered in starlight jasmine, getting ready to bloom.

A few elephant ears, just starting to emerge.

One of my favorite--Louisiana iris

Our "Katrina" rose.  It's over 40 feet long.  
 The roses in our backyard are really looking good.  
Our plan is for them to cover the entire length of the fence. 

Katrina roses and Iceburg
day lilies and horsetail fern

Thyme and Strawberries

This is my absolute favorite flower bed in our yard.
I absolutely love the ferns, gerber daisies, hostas, and japanese maples.

Yellow flag iris

I Took The Plunge--La Mer

A few weeks ago I told you about my horrible experience with a well-know skin care line.
I found out I was allergic to this product.
They have a great product, I'm sure.
Just not for me.

What is for me, was something that would soothe my extremely sensitive skin. 
 I starting researching like crazy on what kind of skin care I needed to use.

After extensive research I decided on La Mer.

This moisturizer uses ingredients such sea kelp, algae, malachite, and lime tea extract.
It's full of powerful antioxidants and minerals.

The story behind this moisturizer is that the inventor, a physicists, was seriously burned and learned of fisherman who used sea kelp to help with burns.
He experimented with the kelp, algae, and anti-oxidant extracts and semi-precious stones to develop the moisturizing cream.

So now I've bought the skin care, moisturizer, and eye cream.
I'll let you know what I think and how my skin does.

So far I'm really liking it and no allergic problems.
The cream is thick and wonderfully soothing.
The eye cream feels amazing.

The big thing, though--- will I look better because of it?
Will it do all it says it will?
Will I see a decrease in my fine lines?

We'll see???

Stay tuned for more...

Pineapple-Jalapeño Fish Tacos with Chipotle Creme and Mango-Avocado Salsa

I absolutely love tacos--really any way you can make them.
I especially like fish tacos.
They make mexican food seem almost a little bit healthy, kind of...

These are super simple and oh so good.
I also used some fresh fruit ingredients to make the marinade and the salsa to accompany.

Pineapple-Jalapeño Fish Tacos with Chipotle Creme

3 flounder (about 1 pound each) or any type of white flaky fish
(1 pineapple cut into chunks, 1 jalapeño pepper, minced--put into blender and pureed)
olive oil spray
2 cups cabbage
2 chipotle peppers in adobo with 1 tablespoon sauce
1/4 cup sour cream
lime for garnish
corn and flour tortillas

Place the fish in a large ziploc bag and pour the pineapple-jalapeño puree over.  Let marinate at least 4 hours.  

Meanwhile while the fish is marinating, place the chipotle peppers in adobo sauce and the sour cream in a food processor and pulse until well blended.  Mix with the cabbage and allow to chill in the refrigerator.

Heat your grill to 350 degrees.  Rub/spray the grill with the olive oil to prevent sticking.

Place the fish on the grill and grill for 4-6 minutes the first side and then 2-3 minutes on the next side.

Remove the fish and let rest for 5 minutes.  Prepare the fish for the tacos (you won't have to do this with fillets).

Heat the tortillas on the grill for 10-15 seconds each.  Serve each with the fish, chipotle creme cabbage and mango salsa.


A Day Off...

Today I took the day off.

Off from work, off from things that I don't want to do.
No work, no meetings, no laundry, no cleaning.

I decided to treat myself to a spa day.


(Isn't this the cutest bag ever.) 

Mani/pedi, facial, wax, spray tan and then margaritas and mexican food with my hubby.

I think it's going to be a great birthday weekend!!

Do you have any weekend plans??
What do you like to do on your day off??

Thirsty Thursday--Mango Mojitos

The mangos at our supermarket have been so wonderful lately.
I have been buying several of them every week.
I've made mango margaritas, salsa, and now mojitos.

Our mint is blooming profusely and I thought it would be the perfect drink for a warm spring day.

Mango Mojitos

1/2 cup mango, pureed
2 tablespoons ginger-orange sugar
12 mint leaves
2.5 ounces rum
6 ounces club soda or lemon-lime soda
1/2 lime
lime slice for garnish

In a tall glass muddle the lime, sugar, and mint leaves until well combined.  

Add the mango puree, rum, and club soda.  Add ice and stir to combine.

Garnish with a lime slice.


A Few Changes in My Office

My office has become an ever evolving space.
As my business has grown, I've had to make several changes for this room.
I didn't just want to stack it high with boxes, I wanted it to be a room that I wanted to spend time in.

I knew that I needed a desk and computer area,
a sewing/painting area that could also do double duty for packaging and wrapping.
A whole lot of storage, 
and also a place to relax and feel comfortable in.

It's not a large room, but works perfectly for me.

Here is the before.
I still love the wall color and the stenciled wall (it's my favorite color combo).
Also, I had all of the furniture--no reason to spend money when not needed.

Here are a few pics of it now.

I've added a gallery wall where the bookcases were and it really opened up the room.
I'm not quite finished with it, but I love all of the graphics with the artwork.

(I had to use two pictures to get all of the wall.)

I also added a table with a cute skirt for storage.
I use the table for sewing, painting, wrapping--really everything.
It's also great sitting in front of the window--lots of natural light.

I kept my comfy chair and re-did the pillow to match the table skirting and added a great open bookcase to store lots of loulousucre inventory.

Artwork--Made by Girl
Chevron painting--my daughter
plate-- C. Wonder
other artwork-yours truly
bookcase-- World Market

Also, make sure you stop this lovely blog for a chance to win one of my monogrammed acrylic necklaces.  

Roasted Chicken with Potatoes and Carrots

Roasted chicken is one of those extremely comforting meals.
I usually like to cook mine with lots of vegetables in one large pan so that I get all of the flavors together.
Lately, I've been loving all things lemon so I definitely added some to this dish.
It's super easy and so delicious.

Roasted Chicken with Potatoes and Carrots

1 large roasted chicken (5 to 6 pounds)
8-10 red potatoes, cut in half
1 bag carrots, cut into pieces
salt and pepper
2 large lemons
1 head garlic, peeled and smashed
6 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons fresh thyme, minced
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, minced
1 large onion, cut into quarters
1 cup white wine

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Clean the chicken, removing giblets and wash thoroughly.  Pat dry the chicken and season liberally with salt and pepper, inside and out.  Stuff the chicken with 2 tablespoons butter, lemons, half of the garlic, and 1 teaspoon each of the thyme and rosemary.  Tie the legs together with kitchen string and tuck the wing tips under the body of the chicken.  Place the onion and remaining garlic into the bottom of the pan and add the wine.  Place the chicken on top of the onions and garlic.  Arrange the carrots and potatoes around the chicken and season all with the remaining rosemary and thyme.  Rub the chicken with the butter, rubbing under the skin.

Roast the chicken for 1 1/2 hours, or until the juices run clear when you cut between a leg and thigh. Remove the chicken and vegetables to a platter and cover with aluminum foil for about 20 minutes. Slice the chicken onto a platter and serve it with the vegetables.


What's Growing In Our Garden

This past weekend was so beautiful--sunny and 80 degrees.
We enjoyed the back yard all weekend long.
We actually had a party with some of our good friends.
The weather was so nice that we were able to eat our dinner al fresco.  

Wandering around the garden this afternoon, I thought I would share a few photos of some of the plants we have growing.

Yellow iris, japanese maples, azaleas

lemon thyme

basil, tomatoes, cilantro
I can't wait until we start to reap the benefits of our labor.

bell peppers, jalapeño peppers, poblano peppers
We've finally learned how much can be planted in the beds (and it's not much) without over planting.
We have two raised beds and they are overflowing by July, 
I'm trying to talk the husband into adding one more raised bed.
(Everywhere I want it to be, will interfere with our drainage-- blah, blah, blah.)

bay leaf tree
This was a gift, and it is awesome.
Needless to say, we can provide a few bay leaves to everyone we know.

tuberose begonia, clematis
These begonias are my absolute favorite.
The blooms are so colorful and they get so big and heavy that they actually droop over the side of the pot.
Just beautiful.
We are also growing four different kinds of mint, chives, tarragon, parsley, fennel, strawberries, figs, and blackberries.


Thirsty Thursday--Pineapple Jalapeño Margaritas

A few weeks ago I  had a jalapeño margarita.
It was so delicious.
I loved the lime and jalapeño, one of my favorite mexican food combinations.

I thought that it would really be delicious to combine the flavor with the sweetness of pineapple.

It was a great choice and had the right amount of sweet with just a touch of heat.

Pineapple Jalapeño Margaritas

To make the pineapple jalapeño puree:

3 cups chopped fresh pineapple (about 1 whole)
1 fresh jalapeño, seeds and veins removed and coarsely chopped
2 cups simple syrup

In a blender, combine the pineapple with the jalapeño and puree.  Add the simple syrup and blend.

To Make the Drink:

3 ounces pineapple jalapeño puree
2 ounces tequila
1 ounce lime juice
1 ounce orange liqueur

Combine all of the ingredients in a shaker with ice and shake vigorously.  Strain ingredients into a glass with ice, rimmed with salt.  Garnish with a slice of lime and jalapeño.