Saturday, September 28, 2013

Road to Hana - Maui

In researching our recent trip to Maui, I learned that another of the MUST DO's along with experiencing a sunset atop Haleakala crater was driving the Road to Hana.  They say this 50 mile drive on Hwy. 36 takes about 3 hours from Lahaina, but no, it's an all day drive....and you love every second of it.

Take my a convertible. Trust me on this.  A view through a window won't cut it. 

The purpose of this trip is not to get to won't even know you pass through Hana it's so's the journey. This is a true "stop and smell the flowers" kind of experience.

For this adventure, we purchased the GyPSy app for my iPhone, plugged it into the car radio and we had a wonderful guided tour.  Lots of little factoids, where to stop for great pictures, even where to take potty breaks.  Stay tuned for further warnings advice from our GyPSy guide.  I highly recommend this app.

But back to the Road to Hana.  It's a 52 mile road with 59 bridges (46 of them are one lane) and roughly 620 curves....through gorgeous rainforests, plunging waterfalls, crystal clear pools and seascapes that pictures can't even begin to do justice.

One of the highlights for me was seeing the Rainbow Eucalyptus trees along the roadside, and at Ke'anae Arboretum. It's as though someone painstakingly painted the smooth bark of each huge tree with true artist's strokes.  I could spend a lifetime curled up under those trees with a good book.

Don't you love this?  A true work of art.

I could've spent an entire day at Wai'anapanapa State Park exploring the caves, sea arches and blowhole.

...and the black sand beach

The official trip ends at the Pools of Oheo, about 10 miles past Hana.

....and this is where you're the rental car company, even by the GyPsy guide, to turn around and head back from whence you came.  The other choice is to go around the "Back Side of the Road to Hana"....where portions of the road are ungraded and/or unpaved.  So we sat the proverbial fork in the we follow GyPsy guide's STRONG urging ("your guidance will cease if you turn left") or do we go rogue......

You KNOW what we did...we turned left....and OH MY GOD....we saw some of the most beautiful sights of our trip.  Don't get me wrong, the blind curves and guardrail free, fall off the side of a mountain, roads gave me plenty of OH *&%# moments, but it was sooooo worth it.

Since our GyPSy guidance ended at this point...along with our cell phone service and all communication with mankind....I'll also shut up and let you just enjoy the views...

We interrupt this peaceful drive to bring you....cows....because like it's not stressful enough to have a white knuckle, "Please God don't let us drive off the cliff" kind of afternoon, let's throw cows roaming across the road into the mix.  Uh huh.

....back to peaceful

So if you're ever in Maui, add the Road to Hana to your list....and while I am not advising anyone to break rules, rental car contracts, clean underwear or anything of the sort, sometimes the road less traveled really does bring the greatest reward.

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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Cheese Slaw - a crowd pleasin' dip

This Cheese Slaw recipe (and don't get turned off by the word "slaw"'s really just a cheese dip) was first brought to my attention by my friend over at believe me, this was loooooong
before anyone knew her as Virginia Sweet Pea.
Since that time, it has passed amongst our group of friends across the globe.

It is ridiculously easy to make..maybe 10 minutes if you're a slacker...and it's always a huge hit.

Here's what you need:

Cheese Slaw

1 pound Swiss cheese, shredded
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1/2 cup mild banana peppers, finely chopped
1/4 cup pickled jalapeno peppers, finely chopped
Mayonnaise - enough to bind

Mix it all together and place it in a bowl.

Serve with crackers or corn chips....I like large Wheat Thins.

Printable Recipe

Seriously, chopping the green onions, banana peppers and jalapeno peppers is the hardest part.

Wasn't that exhausting?  I even conned my husband into grating the cheese. 
Usually I buy it in a bag pre-grated, but the grocery store was out....what's up with that?

I brought this to a wine tasting party Friday night with our Gourmet Supper Club group and it was "scooped" up.
I crack myself up sometimes....and that's not the wine talking...I'm just that corny.  

Next time you're looking for a quick crowd pleaser, whip up a batch of Cheese Slaw.
Wine optional...but I highly recommend it.

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Saturday, September 21, 2013

Sausage, peppers & onions sandwiches....low carb-ish, too.

I hijacked this recipe from the Food Network.  This is one of Pat Neely's recipes...and it is gooooood.

I needed to feed more than 4 people (and really, I can't imagine 1 lb. of sausage feeding 4 people anyway...
at least not 4 of my people).

Disclaimer....I forgot to add the Paula Deen's Sugar Free bbq sauce to this'll understand when you read below....shame on me.
My Ingredients:

olive oil
4 lbs. smoked sausage
2 yellow bell peppers
2 orange bell peppers
2 red bell peppers
garlic (heaping tbs. of minced, jarred garlic)
6 onions
12 oz. beer
1 small can tomato paste
1.5 (ish) cups bbq sauce

I pretty much followed the recipe as to preparation.  I just tweaked the proportions to suit my needs.

First off preheat your oven to 350 degrees, so you can toast your rolls for the sandwiches.

Slice the bell peppers and onions.  I LOVE raw bell peppers, so a few of these probably didn't make it to the next step.

Slice the sausage.  Okay, the recipe says to do this in quarters, but next time I'll probably cut the sausage a little hot dog they stay on the rolls a little better.

Brown the sausage on all sides in a little olive oil.  Do this in batches if you need to. After they get all nice and yummy, remove them to a plate and let them hang out a bit. Again, a few of these were casualties to my hungry belly.  
Hey, cooks are supposed to taste as they go, right?

Add the onions and peppers to the pot....have I ever mentioned how much I love my cast iron pots....seriously.....LOVE....anyway, cook the sausage and peppers until they're soft and tender, then add the garlic.  I'm lazy, so I use the jarred, minced garlic...a huge heaping tbs. or so...feel free to use the real stuff if you have the patience for it.  
Just cook it for a minute or two more. 

Then add the tomato sauce, beer and bbq sauce, cook it for a couple minutes, throw the sausage back into the pot, reduce the heat and simmer until the sauce thickens...15 minutes or so.

Also, since I'm trying to limit my sugar (okay, I know it's sausage...not the healthiest food in the world...but you gotta pick your battles), I used sugar free bbq sauce (I forgot to add that to my "Ingredients" picture above.)  There are several on the market...use your favorite.  I happened to see Paula Deen's Sugar Free bbq sauce at Sam's (and since I bought it at Sam's, I have enough for the rest of my life), so that's what I used. Gotta say, (and this is by no means an endorsement or condemnation of Paula Deen's recent "issues"), her bbq sauce was pretty darned tasty. Big thumbs up.  (I also did use about 1/2 cup of the Stubb's bbq sauce that's in the picture above....wanted to use up the little bit that was left in the bottle in my fridge.)  If you're going full sugar, there are TONS of choices, use your favorite bbq sauce...I won't judge.  

I hope you remembered to toast those rolls.....cause it's eatin' time!  Oh, and have plenty of napkins close by...plenty.

This is great for football season...get it ready and let everyone fend for themselves. Hope you enjoy.  
And while I'm at it....WHO DAT!

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Thursday, September 19, 2013

Nyx, Goddess of the Night

One of the exciting things I have on the horizon is my inaugural ride in the Mystic Krewe of Nyx on Wednesday, February 26, 2014. Believe me when I tell you, it can't get here soon enough.

Nyx was the Goddess of night. Her name, synonymous with Night, describes how her dark light falls from the stars, and she dictates to men and also to the gods.

Yep, that's me alright...Goddess through and through.  I must say, the irony of being a "Goddess of the night" is not lost on me....I can barely stay up past 10 pm.   Not to worry (throwing my head back and standing up tall), I am a Goddess, I will persevere....yawn.

Back to Nyx....along with signature beads, cups, coozies and assorted light up blinky things, Nyx's signature throw is a purse.  A purse you ask?  Yep, a purse...but not just any purse...a personally handcrafted glittery extravaganza of a purse.  
I hope to be attending some "official" purse decorating parties with other members of the Krewe soon, but in the meantime I couldn't help myself....I got started.

Now, give me glitter, feathers, jewels and a glue gun and I become drunk with excitement....drunk, I tell you!   Okay, there may have been a glass or two of wine involved. 

Did I mention glitter....and this is just a small sampling.  I will look like a Twilight vampire for many months to come. 

We just had our first official membership meeting this week and saw our signature throws for 2014.  AAACCCKK!  I can't give you any of the juicy details, but I can tell you come February 26, 2014, grab your mom and dem, pick your favorite spot... neutral ground or sidewalk side...and get ready. You will NOT want to miss the ladies of Nyx 2014. 

Just yell, "Throw me something Goddess".  Yep, that's got a nice ring to it, don't ya think?

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Saturday, September 14, 2013

New Orleans Bridal Shower Luncheon

One of the reasons I was away from blogland for a while (aside from being a lazy slug) was my eldest daughter's wedding.  Anyone who's planned a wedding knows that it is not a one night affair.  There are MANY pre wedding parties and events to host and/or attend....and the planning...and shopping....and DIY projects...and waiting for RSVP cards to arrive...and organizing gifts.  It is SOOOO much fun, but man, it does keep you busy.

Anyway, I thought I'd revisit the New Orleans Bridal Shower which was in June of 2012.  I say New Orleans because there were also several Mississippi wedding events, since that's where the groom is from.  If I can find some decent pictures, I'll do separate posts on each of those. They were FUN!

But back to this one, it was held at Ralph's on the Park which is a gorgeous restaurant overlooking New Orleans City Park.

Of course, you can't have a New Orleans Bridal Shower....or really any event in New Orleans, without a bar!  Your choice of Mimosas and other champagne cocktails, red or white wine, Brandy milk punch.....all on a gorgeous balcony overlooking City Park.

Speaking of bars and just knew that's where I'd find the Bride and her maids....

But I digress.....the favors were small almond scented soaps bought locally from Bayou Soap Company (check out their Facebook page).  Oh my, did they smell wedding cake.

They were super simple to decorate....a length of lace ribbon, a length of raffia, secured on the back with a round sticker with the phrase "From Megan's Shower to Yours" and the date.  Super simple.

Over a bottle or two or three of wine at my house the day before, the groom's mom and one of the bridesmaids did the floral arrangements...hydrangeas, roses and calla lilies.  I cut some ginger lily from my yard to help give the bottom of the vases some interest, and we filled the others with pearls.   We also sprinkled Mercury glass candles on the tables and around the room. 

Another fun thing was "Date Night" suggestions.  Each table had a frame explaining what to do, and cards and pens for the guests to share their suggestions.

The cards were then placed into a tulle filled Apothecary jar located on the gift table.

A good way for guests to get to know the story of the bride and groom is by playing the "Left/Right game".  There was a gift on each table.  At a designated time, the Maid of Honor got up and read the comical story of the bride and they met, their courtship, engagement, etc.  Each time the words "right or left" were used, the gift was passed around the table in the appropriate direction.  At the end of the story, whoever held the gift got to keep it.  It was hysterical.

We also played the "What's in your purse game?"  Talk about getting to know people better....who knew someone would actually have extra underwear!

The bride decided to be traditional and open her gifts at the shower.  And man, did she have some gifts to open!

The dutiful Maid of Honor (baby daughter) kept track of each gift.

and the cake......

Oh man....the cake was from Ambrosia Bakery, a Baton Rouge bakery that my daughter fell in love with while a student at LSU.  It was traditional white wedding cake with Pecan Praline filling.  My husband, being the devoted Dad he is, made the 2.5 hour round trip trek to Baton Rouge to pick up the cake.  No, those girls don't have him wrapped around their finger at all....noooooooo.

All in all, I think a good time was had by all. 

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