Thursday, March 29, 2012

Ten Things Thursday

1. It's a James Taylor kind of day for music! 

2. Mykelti has the "zoomies" today; I wish I had a fraction of this dogs energy! It's a good thing the Aussies are supposed to go to Agility tonight. Every time she zooms around and gets too crazy, Ranger runs over to me and barks until I stop her. Yes, he tattles on her! It's quite hilarious; I need to capture this on video sometime soon! 

3. I watched "The Muppets" last night. Such a cute movie! I love the $1 movies at Redbox.

4. I can not wait to go see the Red Hot Chili Peppers next month with my best friend!!! Woooo!!!

5. Last week I got a delivery of several phone books. This week, I got another delivery of more phone books...WTF?

6. The new season of "16 and Pregnant" started this past Tuesday. I'm a happy camper! 

7. Although I tend to be an OCD freak about my home, I sometimes neglect my car. I need to vacuum it. I have three dogs that enjoy car rides, enough said!

8. Current nail polish: Essie's "Turquoise & Caicos" & OPI's "That's Hot Pink" on my ring fingers as an accent.

9. Yesterday, the lawn care people came out for the first time in the new year. I was hoping I'd at least get by until April before I had to start having it cut, but no luck this year. We really had no winter here!

10. I currently have some sort of crazy, crazy rash on my arms. I wasted my day yesterday at my family physicians office for her to tell me that I don't have hives, shingles, strep/scarlet fever, or poison ivy... and that she had no clue what it was other than a virus of some sort. Fanfreakingtastic! Since yesterday it's spread, so I'm going to see a dermatologist later. Let's hope I don't have anything too crazy, and that I'm not a contagious leper. 

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

James David Carter covers: "Let Me Down Easy"-Billy Currington

I'm slightly obsessed with James David Carter's music! He is such a talented musician, and his voice is golden! I thought I'd link one of his latest covers down below to share with everyone today. (He has a lot of original music on his site too!). Go check him out! 

James David Carter's Facebook Fan Page

(Pause the music in the right side bar before playing the video! :) )

Monday, March 26, 2012

Cooking with Lydia: Spaghetti Aglio e Olio with Slow Roasted Grape Tomatoes!

Spaghetti Aglio e Olio with Slow Roasted Tomatoes
Today's recipe is healthy, delicious, and easily adaptable to suite even the most picky of palates! It's actually a combination of two different recipes. Both are fantastic alone, but when combined....Ahh-mazing! The first recipe is my simple interpretation of Spaghetti Aglio e Olio. It is a simple dish with pasta, EVOO, garlic, fresh herbs, and peppercorn. I like making my pasta that way on days when I really don't want a heavy sauce. Sometimes, the most simple ingredients give off the most incredible flavor in the foods you cook!

The second recipe is for roasted grape tomatoes; they taste a bit like sun dried tomatoes and are absolutely delicious! I've been using this recipe for years now; I came up with this combination of herbs/spices through trial and error, and personally I think it's quite yummy! It's probably one my my most flavorful and versatile recipes! The key is to put the tomatoes and all of the ingredients in a mixing bowl and let them soak for a bit so that they absorb all of the flavor before you start cooking them. If you simply top the tomatoes with a drizzle of EVOO and such, it won't be as flavorful; coat the entire tomato! You can use these slow roasted tomatoes in pastas, lasagnas, with bread as a bruschetta, in salads, or even eat them on their own. They are THAT incredible! They are very easy to prepare too! Once you prep them, you simply pop them into the oven and forget about them for about three hours. (That gives you time to do your nails, catch a shower, watch your favorite show, clean house, or do whatever you like!)

Part one: Slow Roasted Tomatoes

~Preheat oven to 250 degrees~

(Keep in mind that I usually "eyeball" my ingredients, so the amounts below are just a rough estimation. Feel free to use as much or as little as you like to achieve the level of intensity you desire.I like a slight kick to my food, but nothing too overly crazy.)

(All of the ingredients laid out; I forgot to include the garlic in this picture!)
1 small carton of grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 tsp Black Peppercorn
1/4 tsp Sea Salt
1/2 tsp Chili Powder
2 TBSP Minced Garlic (forgot to include it in the picture above!)
1/2 tsp Fresh Cilantro (finely minced)
1/2 tsp Fresh Curly Parsley (finely minced) (This Parsley is a bit strong; a little goes a long way!)
1/2 tsp Tony Chachere's Original Creole Seasoning (Green container)
1/2 tsp Crushed Red Pepper Flakes (These are powerful; use as much or as little as you'd like!)
1 TBSP Fresh Dill (finely minced)
1/2 tsp Basil (fresh if you have it. My grocery store was out, so I used freeze-dried instead)

What to do:
~Halve the tomatoes.
~Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and gently mix together. Be careful not to crush the tomatoes.
~Let the tomatoes and other ingredients sit in mixing bowl for about 5-10 minutes.

(They should look like this!)

~Give the tomatoes and ingredients one more stir to make sure you've coated the tomatoes evenly
~Place tomatoes on an aluminum foil lined baking sheet so that the cut halves face upwards.

(This is how your they should look prior to going in the oven; it's ok if some have more seasoning than others; they don't have to be perfect!)

~Cook in oven for around 3 hours. (Personally, I use my toaster oven for these and find that they always turn out well! Why light my big oven and heat my house up when they fit in the toaster oven?!)

~Check them periodically to make sure that they look are looking good! The bold red color should remain, and the edges should be a bit withered. The key is to take them out while they still are a bit juicy in the center, but withered on the edges.

(This is what they look like when they're done! Sorry, not the best quality picture! I assure you that they are delicious!)
Closer look at them: the edges should be "withered" and the centers should still be juicy
So tasty!!

While the tomatoes are cooking...

~Make your pasta in the last half hour before you take the tomatoes out of the oven, so that everything will be fresh and ready to serve!

Part Two: Spaghetti Aglio e Olio

-Pasta cooked until al-dente. Be sure that you do not overcook your pasta! (I used Barilla's Whole Grain Thin Spaghetti; since I only made one serving size for myself; feel free to adjust the recipe as needed for your family! If you're looking for a great whole grain pasta that does not taste like cardboard, try Barilla!!!)
~1/2 TBSP Crushed Red Pepper flakes (remember to go easy on these since you already seasoned your tomatoes with them! If you like a little kick though, feel free to use more.)
~2 TBSP Minced Garlic (A fresh garlic clove is best, but you can use the jarred garlic too)
~1/2 tsp Black Peppercorn
~1/2 tsp Sea Salt 
~2 TBSP Fresh Dill Weed
~1 tsp Basil
~Extra Virgin Olive Oil (enough to lightly coat the pasta)

~Lightly toss together cooked pasta and other ingredients~

This is what the pasta should look like before you add the tomatoes and Parmesan. It's hard to tell from the picture, but I promise that all of the ingredients are in there!

~Top pasta with slow cooked tomatoes and fresh grated Parmesan cheese! (Asiago or Smoked Gouda would compliment this recipe well too!)


Here's what the finished product looks like! It's delicious!
Close up!
Are you hungry yet???

Lydia's Cooking Tip: Substitutions! If you are out of Extra Virgin Olive Oil, you can use a bit of wine instead. Out of wine too? Use a pinch of Grape Juice! 

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Happy first year, Mykelti

This past weekend marked the 1 yr anniversary of bringing home my sweet, sweet Mykelti girl! I still find it hard to believe I've had this little fluff ball has been in my life for an entire year now! She couldn't be a sweeter dog! She has already passed her Canine Good Citizen test, and is on her way to becoming a Registered Therapy Dog like her big brother. I am so blessed to have her! :)

I thought it would be fun to share a few pictures of Mykelti over the past year with all of you! Enjoy the cuteness overload! (These aren't in any particular order; I haven't had enough coffee yet for that today!)

Her first bath in the tub like a big girl...of course Ranger watched over her the entire time!
 Cute as ever, sans a few chompers!
 Posing in her little dress

 Sweet dogs!
Mykelti after her first ever therapy event. At only 4 months she was an incredibly well behaved therapy dog in training! Her first event was the Arthritis Walk last June. She was so good!
 Posing with her big brother and sister
 She still sits on my shoulder like this...did I mention she weighs 40lbs now? (Sorry, the picture is a bit blurry!)
 One of the first pictures I ever took of her. On the car ride home to Memphis from Missouri
 Her first chew toy!
 Sleepy baby Aussie!
 Mykelti loved her big brother from the start!
 Learning a sit-stay during her first week at home
 Sleeping on the good spoiled!
 Mykelti thought the stuffed puppy was her mommy
 She is still just as obsessed with tennis balls...
 Always smiling!
 6 months old
 She has one split blue/hazel green eye and one hazel brown eye
 Frisbee puppy!
Mykelti and her big brother, Ranger have the exact same birthday one year apart...January 27th.

 They all love car rides!
 My sweet little Canine Good Citizen on the day she passed her test. This pup passed on the first try!
 Mykelti's first Christmas (they were good sports about letting me dress them up!)

The first picture that the breeder ever sent me of Mykelti. (Her litter mates were cutie pies too!) She was my favorite based on the picture alone, but because I was looking for a working dog, I tried not to let that sway me at all. When I went to Missouri, I temperament tested two litters of puppies. The very last dog that I checked was Mykelti. She wound up being the perfect puppy for the job and the one that I had fell in love with from the start!<3

 Mykelti loves Macy and Ranger

 Mykelti on her first birthday!

 Mykelti loves naps! (when she finally gets the zoomies out of her system enough to take one!)

Ranger teaching Mykelti about the art of lounging ...
 8 weeks old...such a goofball!
Learning how to do a down-stay at 8 weeks old
 They remind me of an old married couple when they hold paws :)
 Despite the cone and being spayed, she still had a sweet smile on her face! 
 Klepto puppy...neither the blanket nor the treat were hers!
Mykelti and I at the Millington Pet Fair. It was her second event as a Therapy dog-in-training. She was such a good girl!
 Mykelti and I at the Ascent Children's Medical Fall de Grais Festival in Arkansas last Fall. She adores children and was such a lovebug that day!

 Sweet little therapy pup in training entertained the children of West Memphis, Arkansas for Ascent Children Health Care Services. I took this after we got home that night.
 She's a Cosmopolitan kind of pup! (What we do during tornado warnings!)
 6 months old
 At 4 months old she figured out how to turn the bathtub on and how that if she dug at the train enough, she could collapse it and have a bubble bath. At 4 months old this puppy flooded my bathroom! She's too smart for her own good sometimes... (Did I mention that she loves water???)
 Playing Djembe with me!
 Ranger has adored his baby sister from the get go!
 Sleepy baby
 As a puppy, Mykelti figured out how to camouflage herself with Ranger's rear-end!
 She loves flowers
 Mykelti on the car ride home from Missouri to Memphis
 After agility, this is how she looks!

 Pillow Pet Thievery! 

 Last weekend, Mykelti and her friend Liebchen went as therapy dogs-in-training to the Dog Fair with our new Therapy Group. They enjoyed the car ride over there:)
 Mykelti was a bumblebee for Halloween