Posts Tagged ‘Random Acts of Style’

Monday Motivation: Super Easy Mexican Yumminess in the Slow Cooker

Tuesday, July 11th, 2017

So good!

My family loves slow cooker Monday!

I doubled the original recipe so we could have leftovers. I mixed a little white rice and the chicken mixture in a bowl, and placed it in a warm tortilla. I garnished it with a Mexican mix cheese and sour cream. Yummy!

INGREDIENTS:
2 (15 ounce) can corn, drained
2 large chicken breasts
1 package taco seasoning
2 (10 ounce) cans tomatoes with chilies (Rotel)
2 (15 ounce) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1/3 cup (packed) cilantro, chopped
Juice of 1 1/2 lime
INSTRUCTIONS:
Spray and then grease bottom of crock-pot with cooking spray.
Spread corn into the bottom of the pot and lay chicken on top. Sprinkle chicken with taco seasoning. Layer on tomatoes and then black beans.
Cook on low for 2-3 hours.
When done, shred chicken with two forks (it will fall apart easily).
Mix in cilantro and lime juice.
Serve in tortillas with rice, cheese, sour cream, and salsa.

Attribution: Garnish and Glaze. Recipe Source: adapted from cookbook “365 Day of Slow-Cooking” by Karen Bellessa Petersen

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Monday Motivation: Slow Cooker Beef and Broccoli

Monday, June 12th, 2017

I have Mondays off, and therein lies stellar motivation. When the rest of the working world head off to begin their week, I get a day to catch my breath after a busy retail weekend.

I begin the day laying in bed and staring at the ceiling. I don’t have to get up! When I finally rise I make my way to the kitchen and brew a bucket of coffee. Then, I commune with my orchids and enjoy my coffee al fresco.

Once the coffee has kicked in, I drive seven minutes to a local yoga studio. The focus on breathing, flexibility, and slow movement is the best thing I have added to my life in recent years. I love yoga and recommend it to everyone who asks!

I enjoy being in my home, and I especially love to prepare a nice Monday dinner. During the week I comb the Internet for slow cooker recipes that are as gourmet as any dinner prepared on the stove or in the oven. This beef and broccoli recipe received rave reviews. Even better, after twenty minutes of prep, I didn’t touch it again until I emptied the bag of frozen broccoli into it. Now that’s my idea of a great dinner. Enjoy!

Ingredients:
1 1/2 pounds flank steak
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup carrots, shredded
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup white wine
1/4 cup cooking sherry
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon maple syrup or honey
1 teaspoon dried ginger
1 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes
1/2 tablespoon peanut butter
3 tablespoons brown sugar
2 cups of frozen chopped broccoli
Salt & Pepper, to taste
Instructions:
1. Cut flank steak evenly into 5 pieces.
2. Place steak in slow cooker.
3. Mix all other ingredients other than the broccoli and pour over steak in slow cooker.
4. Cover; cook on Low for 6 hours.
5. The last hour of cooking, add chopped broccoli.
6. Let broccoli steam on top of the beef.
7. Cover; cook one hour longer or until broccoli is tender.
8. Beef will fall apart, so simply serve with white rice.

Attribution: Crock-Pot.com

Why Not… Savor Sweet Strawberries

Wednesday, February 8th, 2017

What is the best thing about a Florida winter?

Yes, the weather dips way down into the forties at night. Five times. During the day we suffer through the sixties, seventies, and maybe a couple of days we’ll hit the eighties. Blue skies and palm trees and cocktails by the pool. Winter is grand.

What really makes a Florida winter sublime? The strawberries from Plant City. For your reading and eating pleasure, here is a short story and a family recipe I will share with you.

Shortly after hubby and I became engaged I was invited to visit his grandmother “Grammy” in Florida. I brought my mother with me, and when we arrived at her beautifully appointed home in Lakeland the mouth-watering smell of dinner almost knocked me over. After two helpings of a scrumptious pot roast, we cleared the table and she presented dessert.

“The third crop of strawberries is the best,” she said. “These are only the second. I hope you like it. I call it Strawberry Glacé Pie.”

Like it? I’m a pie girl. I stared at this layered creation of perfectly sliced strawberries topped with Cool Whip. (Grampy had worked for Swift’s, so only company products entered their home.) Somewhere in my stuffed stomach I found room for not one, but two slices of pie. Past pie encounters receded in my mind… This was and still is the best piece of pie I have ever eaten. After we washed and dried her Havilland china I took a long and necessary walk.

Grammy was an amazing cook. She was raised on a farm in Missouri, and she knew how to do anything that would make a house a home. I believe she would be happy to know that her recipe is still honoring the bounty of Plant City strawberries we are lucky to eat picked fresh from the field.

 

Grammy’s Strawberry Glacé Pie

Ingredients:

1 – 9 inch baked pie shell, 1 cup sugar, 2 quarts fresh Plant City strawberries, 3 tablespoons cornstarch, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, ½ cup water, whipping cream

Method:

Rinse the strawberries thoroughly. Crush enough berries to make 1¼ cups of juice. Slice the remaining berries lengthwise, removing the green stems. Combine sugar and cornstarch in saucepan. Add crushed berries and water. Cook stirring constantly, and add lemon juice. Continue cooking until it thickens. Arrange sliced berries in piecrust. I go in a circle from the outside ending in the center. Pour glacé over the berries. Chill thoroughly and serve with whipped cream.

Grammy’s advice: It is best when prepared the night before so the sugar can sink into the berries below the glacé and the pie will hold together better.

 

Exciting business news — now you can shop with me online! I have been given a secure mobile number that interacts with Nordstrom.com through an app we call TextStyle. My secure mobile number is 813-452-4497. By completing a few simple steps you will be able to communicate with me before accessing Nordstrom.com, and can ask me questions regarding merchandise you are interested in purchasing. I can also send you photos or information regarding products you prefer that arrive in the store. It is a seamless way for me to deliver a superior shopping experience with the convenience of online shopping. Try it out and let me know what you think!

Grammy used a Pyrex pie plate just like these.

 

The After-Party: Gasparilla Slow Cooker Pot Roast

Friday, January 27th, 2017

Pot roast fit for a pirate!

This is big party weekend in Tampa. The pirates take over downtown — protect the women and children! It is Gasparilla, and Tampa celebrates with a parade and glittering balls and krewe parties that go on for days. It is also going to be a cooler weekend weather wise, and this recipe is perfect for the buccaneer who wants to come home to an amazing dinner after enjoying the festivities. It is also great for alcohol absorption. Have fun and be sure to uber if you’re partying.

Ingredients
One 4-pound beef chuck roast, or larger
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup all-purpose flour, plus more for coating
3 tablespoons olive oil
4 medium carrots, cut into 2-inch pieces
3 stalks celery, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
1 medium onion, sliced
3 cloves garlic, put through a garlic press
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup red wine, at least
3 cups low-sodium beef broth
3 bay leaves
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 cup loosely packed parsley leaves, chopped
Method
Sprinkle the roast all over with 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground pepper. Coat in flour and shake off excess. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the roast to the skillet and cook until golden brown on all sides turning as needed. Transfer the roast to the insert of a 6-quart slow cooker, along with the carrots, celery, onions and garlic.
Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil to the skillet over medium heat. Add the tomato paste and stir until the oil begins to turn brick-red, about 1 minute. (You have to watch it carefully so it doesn’t burn) Add the flour and wine and whisk with a plastic whisk until thick. Add the beef broth, bay leaves, thyme, allspice, 1/2 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of pepper and bring to a simmer, whisking slowly, until the gravy is smooth and thickens slightly, about 5 minutes.
Pour the gravy over the meat into the slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours. The roast and vegetables will be tender.
Remove the roast and let rest for a few minutes. 9Meat should always rest before cutting — it allows the juices to go into the meat) Discard the thyme stems and strain the vegetables, reserving the gravy. Stir the parsley into the gravy and season with salt and pepper. Slice the roast against the grain. Serve the meat and vegetables buffet style, and serve the remaining gravy on the side. Enjoy!

Recipe courtesy of Food Network Kitchens

 

Turkey and Oyster Gumbo by The Spoiled Spouse

Thursday, November 24th, 2016
One of my wife's turkey platters.

One of my wife’s turkey platters.

Hope your Thanksgiving dinner was delicious—ours certainly was! If you’re lucky you have leftover turkey, and The Spoiled Spouse has an amazing solution. This recipe will certainly raise your home cuisine beyond the dreaded creamed turkey casserole. Let us know how it turns out.

Recipes for Guys Who Don’t Cook So Good

By The Spoiled Spouse

Turkey and Oyster Gumbo

Many families enjoy the blending of oysters into their turkey stuffing on Thanksgiving. This recipe provides a twist on that theme by adding leftover turkey to a traditional gumbo. It will hit the spot once you grow tired of sandwiches and leftover stuffing.

I usually try to cook recipes that can be completed during a Seinfeld rerun. This recipe however, requires about an hour or so of work but it can be easily completed in phases while watching your favorite football team on the post Thanksgiving weekend.  I have broken the recipes into phases –Pre-game, Break between 1st and 2nd Quarter, Halftime, 2 Minute Warning, and Postgame Wrap-up.

You should turn off the heat between phases. However, you can run them all together like a no-huddle offense if you wish.

Ingredients

2 cups chopped cooked turkey, 8 cups chicken/turkey stock

1 pint oysters, 1 tsp. thyme

1 lb. sliced frozen okra, 1 tsp. basil

½ cup plus 2 tbsp. cooking oil, ½ tsp. sage

½ cup all-purpose flour, ½ tsp. black pepper

1 -2 cups chopped onion ( to taste)½ tsp. white pepper

1 cup chopped green bell pepper, ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper

½ cup chopped celery, 2 tsp. salt

2 small cans chopped tomatoes, 1 bay leaf

¾ lbs. Andouille sausage sliced into rounds

Phase 1 — The Pre-game show

Sauté okra in a large skillet in 2 tablespoons of oil for 15 minutes.  At the same time, heat ½ cup of oil in a large heavy bottom pot over medium high heat. Add the flour and stir frequently until the paste (or roux) becomes the color of dark chocolate. Immediately dump in the onions, bell pepper, and celery and sauté. Stir until vegetables are tender and onions are carmelized.

Phase 2 — Break between First and Second Quarter

Once the vegetables are tender, add the tomatoes, Andouille sausage, and okra. Cook and stir for 15 minutes. Dislodge any caramelized vegetables off the bottom of the pot with a metal spoon . These juicy bits provide great flavor.

Add spices (bay leaf, thyme, basil, sage, black pepper, white pepper, cayenne pepper, salt) and mix well.

Phase 3 — Halftime

Add chicken/turkey stock. Bring to a slow boil and heat for 1 hour.

Phase 4 — Two Minute Warning

Add the turkey and oysters and simmer for 15 minutes. (Add the oyster liquor for a tangyer broth)

Phase 5 — Postgame Wrap-up

Serve in large bowls over steamed rice.

This is an amazing stockpot to put on your Christmas list:

All clad stockpot.

Road Trip: Ohio State versus Rutgers University

Wednesday, October 26th, 2016
Tailgating!

Tailgating!

America is a beautiful country.

I had the luxury of contemplating these words a couple of years ago as my husband and I drove from Florida to Ohio. We were on our way to a football game, Rutgers versus Ohio State. We love college football, and on our bucket list is to attend a Rutgers football game in the iconic college football stadiums in the U.S.

The first night we stayed over in Dobson, North Carolina. Did you know there is a lovely winery in Dobson? After a long day on the road, we had a scrumptious dinner at the Harvest Grill, the on site restaurant at the Shelton Winery, and enjoyed their award-winning wine. The Hampton Inn on the property was pristine. The next morning we decided to eat at the Dobson diner across the street. I had the breakfast special — cured local ham, two eggs, biscuits and sausage gravy. A man at the next table laughed as it was placed in front of me. “You gonna eat all that?” he teased. I struck up a conversation with a local angler, and we were invited to dinner later on that day to enjoy the fish he had caught early that morning. Dobson certainly shows old-fashioned small town hospitality to tourists.

Yes, I finished it!

Yes, I finished it!

We continued north, and crossed over to Virginia. Virginia is a gorgeous state. The topography began to change as 77 cut through farmland and small towns. Orange dots began to appear in the groomed fields that rolled away from the fast moving traffic. Could it be — a pumpkin patch? Yes, as far as the eye could see tiny orange dots clustered here and there. The highway was treacherous, and unfortunately I was unable to convince my husband to pull over so I could get a photo.

Through the East River Mountain Tunnel we went and found ourselves surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains. We were lucky to catch the end of the change of seasons. The colors of fall are something I miss. West Virginia is another beautiful state, and for the first time I saw huge piles of black coal freshly unearthed from the mines.

We entered Ohio, and began to get excited about the impending football game. We knew it would be a tough one, but we love college towns and Columbus did not disappoint. Our friends gave us the complete tour — we ate in a famous college pub, and danced to the music at an outside party. Luckily, Rutgers and Ohio State share red as a school color, so we were somewhat incognito. We embraced tradition and waited outside the stadium for the band to enter. The Ohio State Band is a big deal, as well it should be. I have never witnessed a better halftime show. Wow. They marched in and out of complicated formations, at one point creating a rock musician who moved his lead guitar up and down to the music of the Who.

Posing in the Horseshoe.

Posing in the Horseshoe.

The football game itself was… sad. For Rutgers fans, that is. Ohio State was bigger, faster, stronger, better. As they ran the score up I began to get angry. One of our friends tried to explain why Urban Myer did this, while the other slid tiny gloating remarks in whenever he could. I draped my plastic poncho over my body, willingly immobile in my own biosphere, and allowed the freezing cold drizzle to run down my sheathed body. I said to my husband, “I have never seen such a great college football team in person.” (They did go on to win the national championship) Finally I’d had enough, and we walked, shivering, to the car to head off to a famous German restaurant, Schmidt’s, in the German village.

It was Octoberfest! Everyone had bad hair and the wait for dinner was almost two hours, but we somehow secured a spot at the bar. I decided to have a little fun and tease the friend who had enjoyed our football misery at the hands of the Buckeyes. I began to introduce him to everyone at the bar as an eminent proctologist from Tampa. I remember more of the beer than the food, but I would highly recommend both.

Our trip home was less eventful, and we listened to a book on tape. The Horseshoe is now checked off the bucket list. Maybe the Big House is next.

Check out my Instagram @randomactsofstyle

Copy This Look: Fall Sideboard

Friday, October 14th, 2016
Having fun with a fall vignette.

Having fun with a fall vignette.

I don’t like everything to look brand new. I suppose that’s why my favorite TV viewing is British shows set in picturesque villages, castles, and Oxford, England. In these dramas, the decor demonstrates a deep respect for family heirlooms and great-grandmother’s china — even if the latter comes complete with a few flea bites. I love collecting, and the hunt for a special piece is a large part of the fun.

 

You can find compotes like the depression glass pictured on my sideboard at Amazon. You’ll notice I didn’t match the compotes, which adds to the interest of the vignette. I love moving things around in my home, rediscovering pieces I’ve owned for years.512bsa68hyl-_sl160_

Here is a lovely deep green example that is similar to mine. The lamp pictured is a family heirloom, and works well with the jewel tone palette.

Let’s say your color scheme is a lighter one. My research on Instagram tells me that many women prefer a much lighter color scheme. Instead of buying a piece that you’ll see in all of your friends homes, check out the lamp below. It looks like a piece one might have inherited from a favorite aunt. This is a perfect centerpiece to mimic my sideboard design, but in a lighter palette. As you know, I adore crystal. It reflects light, making a dark corner an ideal spot for placement. I would pair this lamp with a light runner and perhaps some milk glass. My mother collected milk glass, and I’ve included a book that gives wonderful detail if you decide to start a collection or research a piece you may own. Let me know about your fall decorating projects!

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Elegant crystal table lamp.

A great book to assist you in collecting milk glass.

A great book to assist you in collecting milk glass.

 

How to Develop Your Signature Style

Wednesday, September 28th, 2016
My hero! This book is on my Christmas list.

My hero! This book is on my Christmas list.

How does the average person hone a personal style in their wardrobe, home, garden… lifestyle? I have been blogging about many aspects of style since 2009, but I’m not sure I’ve ever attempted to distill my thoughts on the subject into a few simple, achievable steps.

I have become a huge fan of Instagram. My profile, randomactsofstyle, reflects what I share on a daily basis about my life. It is a constantly evolving style feed. And since I now spend an increasing amount of time on Instagram I felt it was time to share with my readers my thoughts on how to use this amazing site as a part of your personal style journey.

You will notice I said part of a style journey. I think there are four distinct areas that can help you explore and develop your personal style.

  1. Read and research. I am currently digging through my accessories in search of a macramé choker I wore in 1977 with an ivory colored peasant blouse. Walking through Nordstrom yesterday, I was struck once again by the retro trends. Fashion repeats itself, and those who create the clothes that we wear do something we can easily do — learn about the history of fashion.

We can do a lot of this research on the Internet, but I have another suggestion. Go to the library armed with a list of designers you want to know more about. The public library is free, and the librarians are immensely helpful. They can show you how to request books that will blow your mind. And for you young moms who have just started on a style journey, schedule your library visit during one of the free programs for children. You can peruse the aisles of inspiration while your children are entertained.

I have borrowed all sorts of books from the library. When I was planning a rose garden I consulted landscape and horticulture books. I have borrowed gorgeous interior decorating books, regional cookbooks, books on architecture. And, of course, I have borrowed books on fashion. This research didn’t break the budget, and if I found a book I couldn’t live without, particularly a coffee table book, I would search it on the Internet to buy it. Decorating side note: For me a room without books is a bare room. I have books in every room of my home. Books add warmth and personality.

  1. Follow profiles you like on Instagram. I have a number of feeds I look at every day. They range from fashion, to food, travel, design, inspiration… and jewelry. What I look for in a blogger is a fresh approach to their subject. Here is a list of suggestions for you to explore.

Style at a Certain Age

Christian Blair Style

Laura Beverlin

Rach Parcell

The blog societies

The Simply Luxurious Life

Perri Rothenberg

Bettina Looney

Anna Dello Russo

Meet at the barre

Greg Sideris

Rachel Mansfield

24 east

evil brent

MakSnacks

The rich life in wine country — among many other feeds I will pop in and out of.

 

One thing I have noticed is that most of these blogs and their subsequent Instagram feeds are written by beautiful young women. I am hoping to plug what I feel is a gap and represent the style journey of a ‘woman of a certain age.’ Stay tuned.

  1. Special events, museums, and fashion shows are another way to expand your knowledge and hone your style. A few that I will never forget are Jackie Kennedy Onassis’ incredible clothes at the Metropolitan Museum in Manhattan, Princess Diana’s traveling exhibit, (and the one that was presented by ‘M’), and most recently the Norma Kamali exhibit at the Tampa Museum of Art. A previous post on the Kamali exhibit is here on the blog.) I have enjoyed seeing the creative posts by the fashion bloggers who have been able to attend the various fashion weeks. Thanks for sharing.
  2. Shop in all different types of stores and ask questions. Flea markets and vintage stores are wonderful places to pick the brain of the owner. (I have found wonderful pieces at flea markets.) Most of these individuals have a passion for the history behind what they are selling and love to share their knowledge. And, you can add one or two accessories that will set your look apart from the masses. I hope you’ll check out my feed on Instagram so we can connect. Let me know how the journey goes.

 

 

 

 

 

As Ye Sow…

Thursday, September 22nd, 2016
The fruit of my labor.

The fruit of my labor.

Scene: The side yard of my house.

Objective: Trim two gardenia plants that threaten to engulf the house like the thorns in Sleeping Beauty.

Result: A gift.

You’ve heard it all before — in a Florida summer bugs grow to Jurassic size and the plants are on Miracle Grow. I planned on spending no more than thirty minutes on a little outside work and ended up an hour and a half later dragging five garbage cans of trimmings to the curb. And, I was no where near done.

This is just the reality of working full time, and writing in my ‘free’ time. I do my best, no apologies. I’m hoping that Rumplestiltskin shows up, or I win the lottery and can hire an English gardener.

As I chopped away at a twenty-year-old climbing rose I saw my gift — a lovely David Austin rose. Perfect. Thank you.

My gift.

My gift.

 

Enduring the Dog Days of Summer, Rusty Style

Friday, August 26th, 2016
I love the cheese lady!

I love the cheese lady!

Ah, the dog days of summer.

As a child in New Jersey I welcomed the summer heat. It meant days spent in the above ground pool my father would install. The humidity would hit you in the face like a wet washcloth, not unlike the current weather we are experiencing in Tampa. When I wasn’t in the pool I played games with my sisters, or lost myself in the library books I’d borrow. I particularly loved stories of other countries and cultures that took me away from small town life.

I always thought the expression “the dog days of summer” had to do with how our pets behaved during the heat. I was raised in a household where the dogs were considered part of the family. Caesar and Nicole, our mixed breed siblings, would lie down on the cool tile floor. They were not interested in being outside except to do their business. It was only much later that I learned the expression has to do with astronomy. The ancient Greeks believed that “when the Dog Star, Sirius, appeared to rise just before the sun there follows a period of indolence, lethargy, and inactivity.” They believed this was a dangerous time. I am not an astronomer, and I only remember how the dogs would pant and lie around “like lazy lumps” as my mother would fondly say.

We have a new member of the family. His name is Rusty, but I feel Rustin Sinclair is the appropriately classy name for his new life. My son always wanted a dog, and, being a cruel mother, we had cats instead. One day he called me from college and told me he had been looking online and a photo came up of a dog named Rusty. There was something about this dog. He decided to visit the shelter, and as he stood outside the cage where Rusty lay curled back in a far corner their eyes met. My son bent down as Rusty watched him. My son called his name softly, and he picked his head up. Slowly, he got up and walked to the front of the cage. He lay down and slid his paws under the cage door. He chose my son. This abused and neglected animal decided to take a chance on another human.

We don’t know anything about his previous life, and maybe that’s for the best. It breaks my heart to think anyone could have been mean to him. My son is a dedicated owner, and I must admit I have fallen for this energetic pit bull mix. He knows it, of course, and works me like a pro, all in the interest of a cheese slice.

If you are in Tampa for the summer there are lots of indoor delights. Both the Tampa Museum and The Dali museum have wonderful exhibits. The Tampa Theatre is a jewel of a movie palace that shows a wonderfully eclectic range of movies. Or, go to Clearwater Beach and have a fried grouper sandwich at Frenchy’s. Enjoy your summer.