Sunday, February 26, 2012

Mara Visits Murphysboro

Remember Mara from Florida? She is Joey's girlfriend and helped orchestrate the proposal. Well, she and Joey made the drive up here to visit. With just one day to explore, we took her out on the wine trail. Our first stop was Kite Hill Vineyards. Their wine slushy is the best. One of these days I'll buy the mix. Since I am now a wine cork collector, these birdhouses caught my eye:

Our next stop was Pomona Winery, still my favorite winery to visit, hands down. While, you do have to pay a $2 tasting fee, you really get your moneys worth. You get to taste all the wines and get to learn as you go. Plus, Becky is always there and she is still the best. I bought a bottle of Kir to take home. Our next stop was Von Jakob. We always order food here. Brandon and I shared the BBQ pizza. It was just ok, but hey it came with a side salad. I love their Red Oak Port Vinaigrette Dressing. Our friend, Christian, is the wedding coordinator there. She pulled out some of her wedding magazines and we looked through them. She has offered her wedding planning services, wherever we have the wedding :)

Next up was Kie's choice, Owl Creek. His birthday is coming up in the next week so we decided to celebrate early. The girls made him a tasty cake.
Kie turns 26
The final winery of the day was Blue Sky. We ordered a pitcher of sangria and it was delish. I like it better than Rustle Hill's. The winery was packed, including a Mardi Gras themed birthday party. As they were leaving they gave us their masks. We looked like Misteriosos!
Joey and Brandon
And finally we ended our journey at 17th Street. Because really, what trip to Murphysboro would it be without that. Order the 17th Street potato. WOW.

Well, we won't have to wait long for our next winery visit. This upcoming Friday is the second Teresa Herring benefit at The Bluff's, $5 cover. 

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Quote of the Day

"I think I finally learned how to like coffee. I put in 5 creamers and 7 Splenda."

-lady buying coffee to the cashier
overheard at Motomart in Murphysboro

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

American Idol

It's no secret that Brandon and I are big TV watchers. Here are my thoughts on tonight's American Idol:
Big Lea Michelle
Dirty Justin Timberlake
Token Asian
Cuter 2 1/2 Men son

Bruno Mars wannabe

JLo looked like a mermaid in her pretty green sequin dress. My only problem with it was that the sparkles were reflecting on her face.

Ryan Seacrest is so good at his job. I approve.

Who are you rooting for?

Monday, February 20, 2012

Sunday Dinner

Since I've been away from home for so long, I haven't had my fill of my dad's cooking. I figure it's time I learned how to make the stuff for myself. So, the last time I was home I copied some recipes from this Iranian cookbook. The recipe was for Celery Khoresh (Khoresh-e karafs). Basically, celery and beef stew with parsley and mint. Two and  half hours later, look at how it turned out:
Labor of love! But so worth it.
As in any proper Sunday dinner, I made another entree (also, for my picky fiance). I grilled some chicken drumsticks on my grill pan using this simple marinade. I think the Dijon mustard added a lot.

All together now:
A great meal. Don't be afraid of the green.

I will admit, I cheated and made Minute Rice. The meal was also missing a cucumber yogurt salad. But don't worry, my next project is to make kabobs with authentic basmati rice. In the meantime, if you are looking for more Persian food check out My Persian Kitchen.

Celery Khoresh
Serves 6

2 large onions, peeled and thinly sliced
1 lb stew meat, cut in 1 inch cubes
1/3 cup oil
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp turmeric
5 stalks of celery, chopped into bite sized pieces
3 cups chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
squeeze of lime juice

1. In a dutch oven, brown onions and meat in 3 tbs oil. Add salt, pepper and turmeric. Pour in 2 cups water. Cover and simmer over low heat for about 30 min.
2. In a frying pan, fry the chopped celery in 3 tbs oil for 10 min, stirring occasionally. Add chopped parsley and mint and fry for 10 min longer.
3. Add the mixture of celery and herbs and the lime juice to the meat. Cover and simmer over low heat for 1.5 hours longer.
4. Taste the stew and season accordingly with more salt and pepper. Serve hot over rice.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Happy Birthday Jeila!

To my one and only sister, have a very happy 21st birthday! Enjoy these old pictures of us:
You and me.
In good times.
And bad.
Can't wait to have a drink with you!
Life story.
Always glamorous.

Classy too.
Love you chica!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

New 'do

I got my hair did. Thanks to a great deal on The Southern's Today's Deal (50% off color, cut, style and manicure). I went to Extremities Salon in Carterville. Allix was my stylist. She picked out a dark brown with hints of red. It had the overall effect of making my hair darker. You can't really tell much of a difference but the brassiness at the ends disappeared and the grays are covered up. It feels shorter, but of course you can't really tell. I like it though. It's my first haircut in a year!
My makeover deal also included a manicure. I went with some purple nails. Love!
Must do this more often!

Tonight I went to the Kiwanis Family Banquet. (Remember last year, when Brandon got to speak?). Dinner was Italian beef, pasta, mashed potatoes, salad and dessert. Brandon was unable to attend but there was a good Kiwanis showing.

Don't forget. Tomorrow is the Teresa Herring benefit Spaghetti Dinner.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Illinois Lovin'!

I've lived and worked here for over a year now. Time to embrace the Illinois love. Which one should I get?
Source: via Meghan on Pinterest


Source: via Bre on Pinterest

Source: via Elizabeth on Pinterest

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day

On Saturday night, Brandon and I celebrated Valentine's Day. It was a good thing we celebrated early because tonight I have class until 8 pm (quiz included). We decided not to buy presents for each other and instead, we are taking a trip to Memphis at the end of the month. Cooking together was a good way to spend some quality time together without spending too much money.

After bowling, we hit up Kroger to decide what to make. We went to the grocery store with the idea of steak in mind but saw that ribs were on sale. Brandon was so excited when he saw them but I was intimidated. How in the world would we cook a piece of meat so large?  The decision was made a bit easier when we saw that there were thawed ribs for sale (because they are too large to defrost in the microwave!).  Then we called the King and Queen of the kitchen, Jim and Dana, for advice on cooking. Turns out these babies are super low maintenance. We just trimmed and seasoned the meat and set it in the oven at 275 for 1 hour. Then we lathered it up with Uncle Joe's bbq sauce (best. sauce. ever.) and cooked it for 1.5 more hours. Look at the final product:
So tender and juicy!
Brandon was very proud of his work.
We rounded out the meal with homemade mashed potatoes (a true accomplishment because we have been using instant potatoes a lot) and Heartland Blush. The evening started with a little bubbly, cheap tasty Champagne, my idea, because we needed to toast our engagement properly.

Absolutely delicious! For dessert, Brandon picked out this recipe for us to try. Brandon's favorite desserts are raspberry, but unfortunately, this time of year the berries in the grocery store are terrible! We found a semi-decent pint - but really it was rough. This dish also gave me a great excuse to finally use my microplane zester (thanks Brittany!).

Lemon zest + raspberries = winning! The end product was Raspberry Clafoutis (cla-foo-tee). So French!

We ate while watching the movie - In Time. The movie about a bunch of 25 year olds, which we got with our Family Video gift card.

What are you doing to celebrate?

Last year's celebration here

Monday, February 13, 2012

Valentine's Day Cards

I got two super cute Valentine's Day cards in the mail today. One from Kristen:
Looks just like us, right?
 And one from my blog friend Penga:

Definitely wearing that hairbow tomorrow!!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Chilly Saturday

Yesterday morning I woke up to the most snow I've seen so far this winter. This was the view at about 9 am:
It didn't last long, the snow melted away in the sun. I went to Cindy's 10 am Zumba class at Gold's. I love it. She really pushes you to get a good workout in (i.e. lots and lots of squats). It is a really popular class with around 20 people. When I got home, Brandon and I were starving so we headed to Denny's. I was enticed to buy an appetizer of Pancake Puppies. They came to our table a bit overdone but at least they were piping hot. They tasted just like funnel cake with a mild cinnamon sugar taste to them. Our service wasn't the greatest so it was nice to have something to munch on while we waited.
After we ate, we went to SI Bowl for Bowling for Kid's Sake. Our Kiwanis club had two teams in attendance. This was our team: 
This year Brandon got to wear the Kiwanis bowling shirt.
Me bowling
I was absolutely terrible at bowling. I didn't even make it to 80 points :( My 10lb ball was way too heavy... yeah, let's blame it on that. The cool thing was that each bowler got a prize. Brandon and I picked out the Family Video rental and the Bookworm gift certificate.

On the way home we hit up Bookworm in Carbondale. It is a used bookstore. It has a lot of current titles and books local to Southern Illinois.

Oh yeah, and a cat:
His name is Casper. He was so friendly I started petting him like crazy and all his long hair flew in my face. Hehe. Our evening ended with an early Valentine's celebration ... details coming soon!