What’s Cooking Wednesdays: A Lighter Fair

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After weeks of hamburgers, dining out, fried foods, and Heaven remembers what else, I was craving something a lot on the lighter side.

Again, I browsed the many cheese- or sugar-laden delicious food photos on Pinterest, and found nothing excited me.

Then a vision of quiche popped into my head. Wonderful! Quiche Lorraine.

I began to search for complements to quiche. When I was younger, we only had quiche as the whole meal. Somehow this seemed incomplete tonight. As I searched for what I thought was a silly request, I began to read forum posts, I saw that other people had the same wonder. The most common suggestions were soup or a vinaigrette salad. Too… normal.. for me.

Then, another vision flashed across my head… something I had never done before… fruit as a side item! To make it even more interesting, what about chocolate dipped fruit – a side and dessert in one.

As I prepped my quiche and began to make Ms. Minnie’s Chocolate Pie (on a whim), I felt less and less like sweetened fruit. So how about just fruit au natural.

So here we go for this Wednesday’s dinner…

Quiche Lorraine
Fresh Red Grapes + Strawberries
Strawberried Pink Moscato, and
Miss  Minnie’s Chocolate Pie

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Kitchen Tools Used To Make All This:

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What’s Cooking Wednesdays

Last night, I had the urge to make something grand for dinner tonight. I knew I was getting off early and I wanted to make a full scale, fancy dinner for my love.

The first place I headed to for ideas was my Pinterest food boards. I searched for the perfect menu choices for 4 hours. I got bupkes, so I searched another 2 hours at work today.

I’m trying to avoid our traditional dinners full of cheese, bacon, or tomato sauce.

My love is a fan of extreme spice while I detest it. He hates sweet meats, while Panda Express’s Honey Walnut Chicken is one of my faves.

While, I avoid citrus and cooked tomatoes because of my chronic acid reflux, yet he loves them. He’s only a slight carnivore, and we’re both not big fans of bread.

Its amazing that we can eat in the same kitchen – or at all, for that matter.

Finally, I settled on something simple – for lack of finding something grand and unusual.

Tonight’s menu:

Pineapple flavored Italian sodas
Blackened chicken with linguine drenched in his and hers pasta sauces
Luby’s butternut brownie pie

…All made from scratch as best as possible.

It took me 2.5 hours to prep and cook, but it was so worth the time and effort.

The low down….

The Italian soda was a layered 33% combo of simple syrup flavored with 1 packet of Pina-Pineapple Kool-Aid, Canada Dry’s low sodium club soda, and a dash of half and half. I loved it. I think him, not so much.
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click here for KoolAid simple syrup recipe
click here for Italian soda recipe

I used this blackened chicken recipe ; prepped in my mixing bowl, and placed strategically on my George Forman with metal tongs. Super easy!! My goal is to replicate California Tortilla’s blackened chicken. I’m gonna keep trying.

The sauce is what pushed this dish over the top for me. For my love, I think it was his well-seasoned blackened chicken. His pasta was covered in HEB’s traditional marinara sauce. Mine took cover under my pink sauce. Pink sauce is a careful combination of a tomato base with a cream base. I chose the marinara sauce as my tomato base, about 3 tablespoons, and about a cup of my homemade Alfredo sauce as the cream base. This was eye-popping delicious. If I didn’t have to pack in dessert, I would have made myself a second helping.
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And now for dessert. When I was around 15 or 16 years old, my mom took us out to Sunday dinner after church to Luby’s Cafeteria – my then favorite place to go. I always ordered the chicken fried steak, but this one particular Sunday I decided to try this weird looking whipped cream pie. With the first bite, I was in heaven. I never forgot that pie and have yet to see it in a Luby’s since. Last summer, I decided to Google what I remembered about it, and BAM, the recipe came up. Butternut Brownie Pie. This is a mass of graham crackers and chopped pecans baked inside a crispy meringue puff and covered with fresh whispered cream. Like I said, HEAVEN.
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get Luby’s butternut brownie recipe here

Today I searched, I shopped, I cooked, I ate, and now, I drift off to dreamland – happy.

Please do enjoy my recipes (or links to the recipes I used) along with some tantalizing pictures.

My tiny kitchen tools I used tonight: (the key is to wash and reuse immediately)
Oven + 1 Pie Plate
Stove burner + 1 Saucepan
George Forman + 1 set Metal Tongs
Hand mixer + Mixing Bowl
2 Holding bowls with lids
Colander
Rubber spatula
Metal Whisk
Measuring Spoons & Cup
2 Medium Dinner Plates or Bowls + 2 Forks

Tiny House. Tiny Meals. Big Dreams

landI am Tami…

…a Christian…

(air quotes) obsessive compulsive…

…. and an admitted perfectionista.

Aldo, my fiance, is quite the contrary. He’s impetuous and nothing has to be perfect for him.

My tiny house blog question of the day????

How can I plan and prepare healthy, from scratch, gourmet-ish entrees for two with only 5 ingredients & 2-3 dishes in a small kitchen on a tiny budget?

Currently, we live in a 900 sq ft, 2 bedroom (his and hers) apartment. We only use about half of our space; even though my old 600 sq ft studio was too small for us. Co-living, building, dining, and now blogging in a <1000 unit chunk of space is proving to be a challenge.

I hope to work out those challenges here with the rest of my new tiny house community.

A History Lesson

Aldo’s passion is computers. He’s pursuing his computer maintenance degree from a college here in central Texas, and starting his own custom built PC business.

My passion….ahhh, my passion since I was 8 years old, my passion has been houses. Being a young, black girl in a small town in the middle of Texas in the late 70’s/early 80’s, I had no idea what real estate was. All I knew was that I loved buildings (way more than people) and that I wanted to design floor plans and build big buildings & audacious neighborhoods. Sure, we had real estate agents, but I only knew of one (I still know her name today). As my mother puts it, “back then well off black women were only school teachers or nurses”. We were all impressed by the one African female physician.

As I aged – 10 years old – I realized while reading my grandmother’s gilded, dark green and ivory leather bound set of Encyclopedia Britannica (oh, yes I did) three things. I wanted to learn to play tennis, I wanted to master golf, and I wanted to be an architect. No four, I wanted to study architecture in Paris, France one day. Back then, the information on architecture as a career seemed like it was what I was looking for – the chance to design buildings. It wasn’t until the early 2000’s that I learned that the occupation was actually called real estate developer.

With my mother’s encouragement and prodding, I graduated high school (with my almost 1 year old daughter), and enrolled in an architectural drafting and design associate’s degree program in central Texas. I did NOT finish. Too many years of school, too many late nights at the dorms, and too many boys led to extreme distraction from higher education. I left school and went to work instead as a telemarketer. Then on to administrative assistant. Then trial entrepreneur. Then real estate company receptionist.

It was at that Austin real estate company where I realized that I did not want to become a real estate agent. They were  just glorified paper pushers (the majority of the job). After 6 months, I decided to move to the Nation’s Capital with my boyfriend. I got a job within the month as an apartment manager. I figured “if I’m going to one day build an apartment complex, I at least want to know how one operates”. I loved it. I love all the administrative, “socialness”, and financial analysis that comes with on-site property management. For some reason, that entrepreneurial bug bit me again, and I became a real estate agent. I learned a lot – including the fact that I do not like real estate sales. I also learned to play golf, and attempted tennis to my dismay. Check 2 things off my girl-hood list. I loved real estate leasing, however. So I determined that my foray in the world of real estate development would be in the realm of leasing, particularly special populations. But real estate development was a far off dream for me still.

Fast forward…2011, my daughter out of high school. I always said I’d go back to school when she graduated. I didn’t realize ‘that’ day was actually here until April 2011 – her 12th grade year. I sat there on my friend’s couch, unemployed, and disgusted with the east coast life and real estate market. I said, “Tami, we’re going back to school”. By August 2011, I had moved back to Texas and began working towards obtaining my associates degree in Architectural Drafting and Design – again, and yes, at the same school – this time with all A’s and a definite track to Texas A&M’s College of Architecture (my high school dream).

Today…

…I sit here before you, a pending AAS graduate (this April), a pending wife (this spring), a grandmother (last year), a future TAMU Arch – Urban & Regional Planning BS student (2014), and a tiny house lifestyle developer and builder (NOW). Still a Christian, still obsessive compulsive, and still a perfectionista.

The 3 latter traits are important for you to know about me, because ever since my fiance and I agreed to start this tiny house building company, I have worked tirelessly everyday, staying up until 4am, 5am, 7am (last night I slept only 30 minutes). And I have prayed almost as much, asking for answers as to why I am so obsessed with this tiny house development venture that all I do is dream it, think it, and work it all day.

What have I been doing, you ask?   Good question.

I’ve been gathering photo inspirations, reading tiny house blogs, web pages and .pdfs my city has on development within the city, sketching property site and floor plans,etc. I have laid out my first 4 tiny house plans and preliminary site plan in AutoCAD.

My personal desire is to transition from the typical architectural floor plans into a tiny house cottage (or two) that suits both of us on our own land, while we build sexy, smart, eco, grid-free tiny/small dream homes and communities for all of you.

Sidebar: Editing this blog post for unneeded words is very much like editing my floorplans for underutilized floor space.