Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Cuban Dinner

What to make for dinner....a dilemma that we all face. I get bored with the same old stuff and love to try out new recipes. Since I knew that I would be busy and it was chilly outside, I thought it would be a perfect day for a crockpot dinner. Now to find the right one. I wanted one that didn't have cans of cream of ___________ (fill in the blank) soup. I'm trying to eat a little healthier so that was a consideration as well. After flipping through different web sites I found it! seemed to fit my criteria. It is a Cuban chicken crockpot dish called Mojito Chicken. Looking over the ingredients I saw that it took a half cup of rum....hmmm, I don't drink much, was this going to be too strong or just the right punch. I decided to give it a try.

6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts halves
2 teaspoon cumin
1 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon paprika
3 Tablespoons butter
4 cloves garlic
2 shallots, thinly sliced
4 limes (used for zest and juice)
1/2 cup light rum
1 yellow bell pepper, cut into 1 inch cubes
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1 inch cubes
3 Tablespoons fresh mint, chiffonade
2 Tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped
3 Roma tomatoes, diced
3 cups cooked rice
Fresh lime wedges and fresh sprigs of mint and the thyme.
Season chicken breasts with cumin, cayenne, salt, and paprika. Place chicken breasts in 3-4 quart crock pot, add butter, garlic, shallots, 2 tablespoons lime zest, 1/4 cup fresh lime juice, and rum. Cover and cook on medium for 4-6 hours. Stir in cubed bell peppers, mint, thyme, and tomatoes. Cover and continue to cook for an additional 1-2 hours. Remove Mojito Pepper Chicken to serving platter with rice and garnish with fresh lime wedges and sprigs of mint and thyme.
Notes: If preparing this dish prior to work or a full day of activities, you may prepare the bell peppers, tomatoes, and herbs in advance. Then upon returning home, just stir these in to complete the preparation of this entree.
Number of Servings: 6

It was absolutely delicious and so easy. Of course, I had to make some Mojitos to drink to go along with this recipe. As far as the taste of the rum, there wasn't any and from what I understand the alcohol is cooked off. Let me know if you liked it.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Blue Ridge Parkway

After visiting Atlanta, we headed home. We wanted to take our time and enjoy our trip. So often we just drive from point to point and don't stop along the way. We left on a bright and a little cool Sunday afternoon. We drove out on Georgia and at our first exit in South Carolina, we got off the beaten path. We went on the Cherokee Foothills Scenic Highway. Stopped off at an Oktoberfest where we listened to an Oompa Band, ate kettle korn, a funnel cake and then walked around. We then went on a short hike to a waterfall that was a little disappointing because there wasn't much water. That evening we got as far as Henderson, North Carolina. What a neat little town that is. We went downtown and poked around looking for a restaurant to have dinner in. Believe it or not, we had 3 good choice for us. We ended up eating at an Irish Pub. I had Bangers and Mashers and Darrell had Irish Pot Roast. Both were excellent.

The next morning we got up and drove to Chimney Rock. I didn't climb up to the chimney, though Darrell did. I took the 26 story elevator up. I didn't ventured too far once at the top on the wooden planked bridge. Hey, there was nothing but air under the bridge and you know, heights is one of my many phobias. I sat and looked, a little. I did climb down the stairs back to the parking lot. We walked on a few of the hiking trails. It was in the 60's, warm, sunny bright blue sky and the leaves were in full foliage. Just a perfect day. As we drove along to get to the interstate, we passed a small little area that had a few shops and people sitting outside. We turned around, parked and looked around. We had found that we were in a little planned community of condos in an area called Black Rock. What a great, almost hippie type community this was. We had a great lunch to boot. Darrell had a blackened chicken, spinach and garlic mayonnaise wrap sandwich and I had a Shrimp Po Boy Sandwich. Then we were off again. While driving through Hickory we stopped at a Furniture Mart - not too impressed but we understand that there was a 20 mile stretch of furniture stores just a few miles away. We decided to skip it and keep driving.

Our stop for the night was at Mt. Airy. Now if any of you grew up in the 60's or are a fan of TV Land, then you know why Mt. Airy is important. It is the actual Mayberry of the old Andy Griffith television show. I kept whistling the theme to the Andy Griffith tv show and was excited to be there. We ate dinner at Goober's and although we did not go downtown, there was a Lucky Diner and Floyd's Barber Shop. Trivia Question: who was Barney Fife's girlfriend - character name- on the television show?

Up bright and early the next morning, drove to the North Carolina/Virginia border and hopped on the Blue Ridge Parkway. My memory of it from decades earlier was that it was very windy and around many dangerous curves. NOT! It was a very nice road and the leaves were just so beautiful. I was so glad that we got off the interstate and made this drive. We drove by the famous Mawby Mill and took lots of photos. Got off the parkway in Roanoke,, had lunch at Panera and then were only 90 minutes from home. A great trip home.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Smocking in Atlanta

After the wedding Darrell and I went to Atlanta so I could attend my first every SAGA convention. For those of you who are wondering what is a SAGA, it is Smocking Arts Guild of America. I began smocking almost 25 years ago when Lisa was only a few months old. I smocked most of her dresses until she reached third grade and then she just didn't care for the clothes I made her. I accepted it and moved on to other things. About 10 years later when I was working in the schools, we had a lot of young pregnant teachers. Rather than throwing $10 into a pot to buy the teacher a gift, I decided that I would get a yard of fabric and smock them a dress instead. They all loved a handsmocked dress. I realized how much I missed smocking and how much I really liked it. I've never been real sure of my skills of smocking or sewing - it was fine for me but how was I really doing. The purpose of convention was to further the tradition of smocking and learning new skills. I promptly signed up for convention and on May 1st signed up for the classes that I wanted during the five days of convention.

I asked Judy to be my roommate, she agreed and it was now waiting time for October 13th to come. Darrell drove me down and then he went camping for a week while I was holed up in the Peachtree Westin (gee, sorry about that Darrell!!!). I took two classes with Gail Doane, a class with Judith Adams, and a class with Vaune Pierce. Some classes I felt that I was way ahead of the curve, others were just perfect and one I was behind the curve. The best part of the convention was meeting all the Delphi ladies. One of the groups on Delphi is for Smocking and Heirloom Sewing hosted by Robin. I have been a member of this board for about 7 years having only met two members in person. Although I didn't know most of the ladies in person, I felt like I knew them, and they of me. It was great putting a face and personality to a name on the board. They were and are a great group of ladies and I look forward to more conventions with them! If you want to "lurk" and check it out, here is the link:

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Wedding

What can I say about our daughter's wedding? As a parent you hope that it is all that your child wants it to be but realistic to know that something always goes wrong. You try to prepare them for that possibility. In this case, nothing went wrong and it was a fairy tale wedding.

Lisa was radiant in her dress and the big, broad smile never left her face. As she walked out of the Willow Manor Country Estate house, she locked eyes on Nate. No one else existed for her. Her father became very sentimental when he gave her away with love. They were surrounded with family and friends as they exchanged vows. As they were pronounced man and wife, there was a jubilant cheer among all of us. They walked back down the aisle to the strains of "All I Want is You" from the movie Juno. A little corny but just so perfect for their wedding.

Following pictures, the reception began. Willow Manor could not have looked any more beautiful as it did on this warm October night. The white table linens topped with navy blue table toppers with the silver plate chargers and the china looked beatiful with the hurricane lanterns and the large candle pillars with navy blue ribbons. They were on top of mirror squares with small votives surrounding them. Along the pool were many luminaries in white bags and then we floated candles in the pool. Picture Perfect!

Nothing makes a wedding a hit as much as the food and most importantly, the DJ and boy, did Rodney rock. We were all out there dancing as much as we could either by ourselves, our partners or anyone we could grab. At the end of the evening when the reception was just about over, everyone wanted to take up a collection and have Rodney stay and play more but the bride , after a long day preparing for the wedding, the entire wedding party and parents were tired and anxious to rest a little. We could not have asked for more for Lisa and Nate's wedding. Thank you Margaret, the owner and wedding consultant at Willow Manor Country Estate in Providence Forge, Virginia.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Getting ready for the Wedding

I went to Richmond on Friday to have a chance to go over some wedding details with Lisa and to take her shopping. We hit Short Pump Mall running on Saturday morning.We had a successful and tiring day. That evening we waited for her brother Chris to drive down; he was coming down to take photos of her at Maymount Park in Richmond - casual and fun wedding photos. When he arrived we went out to eat dinner at a wonderful Cuban restaurant called Kuba Kuba. Their Cuban pork with rice and black beans were delicious and enough to have several more meals from your doggy bag. Sunday morning we picked Chris up and drove to the park. Lisa put on her wedding gown and off we went. Thank goodness it was her brother taking the photos; I don't think she would have done half the things he asked her to do (can't tell you because I'd give away the secrets). We finished just before the rain drops began. After that, we had a marathon meeting at Willow Manor where the wedding will be. We thought we were on top of things but the wedding coordinator gave us lots to think about. We left on overload but do have a list to work through. I just can't believe the wedding will be in 10 days but more important - I can't believe our daughter is getting married. When did she become old enough to marry? What happened to playing make believe on a blanket in the back yard with Angela, tea parties with her daddy, wanting to cuddle with us at night. It really does seem like yesterday though going through all the different stages it seemed to last forever. We have been very blessed with our daughter (and all of our sons too).