Saturday, September 12, 2015


Ya know what? It's downright amazing just how much fun you can pack into a mere 24 hours, when you really set your mind to it. Our BFFs normally come here for our meet-ups, since they just love the Hill Country. However, they've been on the road a lot since their kids moved to another town. So, we gave them a break and drove to College Station instead, to spend Memorial Day with them. As instructed, we made sure to reach their house by 11:00 on Sunday, so we could beat the church crowd to the newest joint in town, Mad Taco. Believe me, these aren't your everyday run-of-the-mill tacos. Check out the menu on their website and you'll see what I mean!

After lunch we had an hour or so to kill before going to see a much anticipated movie, so I suggested taking a walk around their mall. (Gotta get those fitbit steps in, right?) Quite a contrast to the mall in Houston we all went to at Christmastime last year. What a madhouse! This one was so empty and easy to navigate that we all came out with sacks of merchandise, despite the brevity of our stay. I am now the proud owner of Reba dress #3 -- pretty much the only dresses I own, come to think of it, being more of a jeans person. Just fell in love with the colors, and knew it would go perfectly with the Reba jacket Santa brought me last year.

It wasn't until I got home that I realized I also had a beautiful pashmina that matched it as well, making it a perfect outfit to take on our Sudanese Adventure.

From there it was off to the movie theater, to see Robert Redford and Nick Nolte in A Walk in the Woods. What a hoot! Afterwards we returned to their house for a couple of hours of "catching up" -- the boys outside with their cigars, the girls inside, checking out a whole houseful of baby stuff that they are so generously planning to pass on to us, since their kids have decided to stop at one child. It was like walking into a Babies R Us store and being told to "Take anything you want!"

When it was time for more food, we headed out to Razoo's, since 3/4 of the group adore fried oysters. Then we were off to do more walking at their beautiful Veteran's Park.

Sculpture Made From Twin Towers Debris
Civil War Sculptures
A Wall Honoring Local Veterans
Viet Nam War Sculpture
Then it was back to their house for more catching up, only this time we traded places. The girls went out on the patio to enjoy the stars and sip hot tea, while the boys stayed inside to watch sports.

Next morning we headed off to a place called Mi Familia which, unlike Mad Taco, serves the more traditional, but equally yummy, breakfast tacos. Afterwards we drove over to Navasota, official Blues Capital of Texas, which has tons of cute little shops.

Blues Alley
Too bad only one of them was open. Not sure if it was because of Labor Day, or if they are generally closed on Mondays. Ah well, just means we get to go back some other time!

Sadly, after that it was time to go back to pack up and head home. Still, that was an awful lotta fun packed into a mere 24 hours, don't you agree?

Wednesday, September 9, 2015


The Original Dish in San Miguel
Do you recall my mentioning a delicious meal I had in San Miguel that involved chicken breasts, poblano sauce, and goat cheese? Well, as soon as I got home I began scouring the recipe websites, in search of something similar. I found nothing that contained all three ingredients, so I narrowed my search to just chicken in poblano sauce, and found one on that sounded easy enough to make, had a five star rating and, though it called for grated cheddar on top, I figured I could just substitute a few blobs of goat cheese instead. I bought all the ingredients and was ready to give it a go, aaaand then, La Tourista hit! Needless to say, I didn't feel like cooking for a while.

But now I'm back, and last night I finally got around to trying out that recipe -- with all new ingredients, of course. Definitely a keeper!

Prep Time: 25 mins.  Total Time: 45 mins.  Servings: 4

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 large poblano chile (a fairly mild chile, in case you're worried)
olive oil
1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick)
1 T. flour
1 cup heavy cream
6 T. grated cheddar cheese (or goat cheese, or feta, or Queso Blanco?)

Preheat oven to 450 F.

Pound chicken breasts to level height, so they cook evenly. Season with salt and pepper. Refrigerate for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, rub poblano with olive oil and place on a foil covered baking sheet and roast for 3 to 4 minutes, or until skin blackens. Remove from oven and rub off outer skin with a towel or damp paper towel.

Reduce oven to 350 F. Melt 2 T. of the butter in a small saucepan. Add flour and stir over medium heat until thick.

In a blender or food processor, puree half of the poblano (seeds removed) together with the milk. Add to the flour mixture, mix well, and whisk in the heavy cream.

Cook over low heat until thick and bubbly, stirring often. Add salt to taste.

Melt remaining butter in an ovenproof pan over medium-high heat and sear chicken breasts for three minutes on each side.

Cut remaining poblano into strips. Cover the chicken breasts with the poblano strips, sauce, and the cheese of your choice. Bake for 10 - 12 minutes, or until cheese has melted.

I opted for the goat cheese (just a couple of thin slices on each breast) and it was to die for! Hubby agreed. Best of all, even though I had halved the recipe for the two of us, it was so rich and filling that we ended up splitting one breast, and get to have it for dinner again tonight!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015


It seems daughter Lex and hubby Nate are having a great time 'splorin' their new neighborhood. Not too surprising, considering how my kids were raised. Every time we got transferred to a new place, which was fairly often, we'd spend the first month or two doing a bit of unpacking each day, balanced with a bit of exploring -- going on fun "adventures" to find the library, the book shops, the best parks and playgrounds, the fun shops and restaurants, etc. Needless to say, it tickled me no end when Lex posted that they've been seeking out a new restaurant to try in the area once a week, and were proud to announce that Cuban food was freakin' awesome! She also discovered a great little nursery that she knew Hubby and I would love, and arranged a meet up with us on Saturday so we could explore it together. Has anyone in the area been to It's About Thyme on Manchaca, in S. Austin? If not, why not?

I fell in love the minute I stepped foot on the property. In fact, it was like stepping back in time to the day I first visited Buchanan's Native Plants in the Houston Heights area (the place where I ended up working as Visual Merchandiser for the next six years), before they quadrupled in size.

Know anybody who loves trains? Check this out!

In addition to tons of great plants, they also had greenhouses full of tropicals and succulents and African Gray parrots, who talk to you!

Not to mention lily ponds...

an outdoor classroom...

and tons of Talavera pottery, just like at Buchanan's!

Best of all, we got to cap the outing off with lunch at a wonderful little Mexican cafe called Casa Arandinas, which they had discovered on one of their adventures. I knew it was gonna be good when I realized we were just about the only anglos in there, and I wasn't wrong. They even serve several of the dishes I fell in love with on our trip to San Miguel. Will definitely have to go back to try the Molcajete!

A great garden shop, good Mexican food, and quality time with your kids. Does it get any better?