Tailgating season is definitely here, and it’s hard to believe, but today is the last day of the State Fair of Texas. I love entering the cooking contests and seeing what I can come up with. This year I was on the road a lot, but I did manage to tweak a few recipes and enter them.
I’ve seen variations of this recipe, but I wanted to come up with something that could either be super fast and easy, or a more healthy version that might take a little more cooking skills – that’s what the Lifestylist® philosophy is all about. This one definitely worked for that – it can be easy enough for a younger child with assistance, or with dough and a marinara sauce from scratch it can be a healthier version.
Here’s the basic recipe – you can customize it to your taste and skill levels.
It’s definitely one of my new favorites, and I can’t wait to share it with my Jr Lifestylists®!
Happy New Year from the Lifestylist® family! We are really excited about 2012 and the opportunities that will come with it.
A lot of being a Lifestylist® is about being a trend tracker and doing research. Today I read something that was written by someone else titled “Social Media Lifestylist Guidelines for 2012” – boy does that sound dull! The first thing that comes to mind is a big dusty manual full of rules and regulations, and that is exactly what social media (and being a Lifestylist®) is not about.
The tag line I have always used for my Lifestylist® brand is “It’s All About You”. I didn’t want the brand to be about me telling people what to do – I wanted to listen to people’s wants, needs, and dreams, and help them achieve those even when they didn’t know that’s what they were really searching for. I don’t want to dictate, I want to educate. I’ve learned that listening is so much more important than anything I will ever have to say, because sometimes if you let people express their thoughts they will find their answers.
Social media is such an exciting new frontier because it gives everyone the chance to tell their story to the universe. It’s become a great equalizer because almost anyone on any budget can get access to a computer and a free site and share their thoughts.
There’s a down side to this though as well -there’s not as much editing as we’ve seen in the past. We have to learn that even though someone may have written it, there is the possibility it might not be true. Before we share or depend on information we find we have to be sure and check the facts. As the guardian of the Lifestylist® trademark for almost 10 years now I’ve seen how many people want to tie into my brand but aren’t willing to go through the legal process to acquire a brand of their own.
So what are the real Lifestylist’s guidelines for 2012? Never call them guidelines, live your life to the fullest, listen to those around you and you can never laugh too much or have too much great food and wine!
Here’s to a boisterous 2012!
It’s hard to believe that this Lifestylist® made it through another year of The State Fair of Texas cooking contests! I am thrilled with the ribbons I won, and even though I missed a few of the contests I usually enter so I could take part in the Thermador Design Council, the information I received (as well as being pampered and having a chef cook almost every meal for us) was better than any ribbon.
When I’m thinking about what I want to enter and I’m looking for those special tools, Sur La Table is always my first stop. After I bought a digital candy thermometer there I started winning in the candy contests and now I can’t imagine life without it. I also know they will always have the perfect pan, cruet, or sea salt to make my entries stand out.
A few years ago I was fortunate enough to get to photograph an event at the Dallas Sur La Table that was a book signing with Martha Stewart! For three hours I had a chance to see this icon in person, and for the record she could not have been more gracious. The Sur La Table team made the event go seamlessly, and everyone had a wonderful time.
When I was at the Thermador Culinary Center last week I heard great news – Sur La Table is now featuring Thermador appliances in many of their kitchens! Now you have the opportunity to take some of their cooking classes and be able to try out the steam oven and many of the other innovations that Thermador offers.
Thermador and Sur la Table – I can’t think of a better pairing!
Today was one of those perfect days to visit the great State Fair of Texas. It’s something we look forward to every year – we even get season passes!
I’ve been entering the cooking contests for over 5 years now, and I’m proud to say I’ve gotten my share of blue ribbons. It has been so busy around here I haven’t had a chance to enter yet, but I think there are some categories that are calling my name. Last year I won in the Tricks with Mix Category, and I’m thinking I may have to see if I can get Best of Show this year. Be sure to check out some of our award winning (and not award winning) entries on our Fair Foodies site.
Because of our love of the State Fair of Texas, we have collected some really unusual items from the fair. This is what makes the Lifestylist® touch so unique – not only great items, but items with a story and history.
It’s mango season! I was just visiting the Volman family near Boca Raton FL and they had a mango tree in their backyard that was full of fruit. I promised I’d share this recipe with them – it’s one this Lifestylist entered in the State Fair of Texas a few years ago. I didn’t get a ribbon, but this may be the year to tweak it and try again!
If you don’t have fresh mangos try frozen or one of the frozen tropical fruit mixes you can find at the store.
Mango Coconut Cobbler
1 Box Yellow Cake Mix
1/2 Cup Butter, softened
4 Cups Fresh or frozen mango, or Tropical Fruit – cubed (mango, papaya, pineapple and strawberries)
2 Cups Water
1 Cup Sugar
1 Cup Coconut, flaked
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a bowl mic cake mix with softened butter – set aside. In an oblong pan place tropical fruit, add water and sugar then stir. Crumble butter and cake mix mixture on top of fruit, then sprinkle with coconut.
Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.
This Lifestylist® is so fortunate to be close to a great farmers market. The Dallas Farmers Market is open 365 days a year, and I love how they make sure you know which the local farmers and produce are.
One of my favorite farmers is Lemleys which has had a stall for as long as I can remember. If you want great tomatoes and peaches, this is definitely the place. They are so nice, and Mr. Lemley is often there on weekends sharing his knowledge.
Not only does buying from farmers help support the local economy, it also is an excellent way to save money and eat healthy. Search out your local farmers market and find out what a difference it can make in your lifestyle.
It’s watermelon season! We try and go to our local farmers market at least once a week, and this week the watermelon slices we sampled were too good to pass up.
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a Lazy Cook, and what could be easier than watermelon as a dessert? We just added some mint, sliced up our watermelon and that was it! Fantastic food doesn’t have to be complicated or costly. Fresh, local and healthy is always the best choice.
Are you looking for something easy and memorable to do for the special person in your life on Valentine’s Day?
These White Chocolate Citrus Truffles will be a gift to remember. I entered these in the State Fair of Texas this year and they were a huge hit.
3/4 Cup Heavy Cream
Zest of 1 Orange
Zest of 1 Lemon
2 lbs. White Chocolate
1 Tablespoon Shortening
Combine zests and heavy cream in a small saucepan – simmer until bubbles appear.
Remove from heat and let sit for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, warm up again until bubbles appear.
Melt 1 lb. white chocolate, strain cream mixture and add to chocolate. Stir gently and allow to cool to room temperature.
Once cooled, place in refrigerator for at least 4 hours.
Roll ganache into 1 inch round balls, then put in freezer to set at least 2 hours.
Melt remaining white chocolate, and stir in shortening. Dip centers into chocolate, then garnish with orange zest.
Valentines Day is almost here! I love making gifts for my family, friends and clients, and this is the goodie they always ask for.
At the recent IBS Show in Orlando I had my granddaughter help me make up some cookies and candy that I brought to the NAHB staff and to my favorite clients – it was a huge success. That is one of the important parts of being a Lifestylist® to me – using my talents to bring joy to others.
I’ve been entering variations of this toffee in the State Fair of Texas for years and this is the version that everyone asks for.
The key to candy making is having a good thermometer, and when I invested in a digital one it made all of the difference in the world. As soon as the temperature gets up to around 250 degrees start watching very closely – it will get to the optimum temperature quickly and if it heats to even 5 degrees more than it should it will burn. Enjoy!
Texas Butter Pecan Toffee
1 lb Texas pecans
1 lb butter + 2 tablespoons butter for pecans
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup light Karo syrup
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 lb chocolate chips
In a skillet, stir butter and pecans together – cook over a low heat until lightly toasted. Remove from heat.
In a medium saucepan combine the rest of the butter, sugar, water and Karo syrup. Stir until mixture comes to a boil, then continue to cook without stirring until mixture reaches a temperature of 290 degrees. Stir in half of the pecans to mixture and turn out onto a 12” x 18” baking sheet. Sprinkle top with chocolate chips and spread after they melt – then sprinkle rest of pecans on top and allow to cool. Break into bite sized pieces.
It is FREEZING here today -last night a “northerner” blew in bringing ice, snow and frigid temperatures to Texas. Fortunately I went shopping yesterday and stocked the shelves of things this Lifestylist® loves to cook.
Vegetable soup is so easy to make from scratch – all it takes is your favorite vegetables, some chicken or vegetable stock and my secret ingredient – a few cans of Ro-Tel. I just prep all of the vegetables, put them in my slow cooker, add the stock and Ro-Tel and let it cook for 2 – 3 hours. It couldn’t be easier and healthier. I make enough to last a few days so I can be as lazy as I want to.