Wednesday, August 28, 2013

MIM #13

MIM: Pickles
Yes, I know. A day late and a dollar short. Always. (and now, two days late)

When we are feeding a crowed, let's say, 30+. There are a few "go to" recipes we use to make life a bit less intense on those days. (Those days include, baptisms, bridal/baby showers ect.) Theses treasured recipes are make ahead but still need a bit of work the day of...and that's okay; because these recipes are AtotheWtotheE-SOME!! AWESOME! Yea! Yea! There're Awesome! GOOOooooOOO Team!

Now, that is what happens when you mix a sleep deprived mother and a key board. Okay, and how do I come back from that...(I was never a cheerleader. You can see why.)

Oh, Yes. Pickles and treasured make ahead recipes for a crowd. Let me pull out one of my trusty Cooks Country Magazines.
Cooks Country Magazine. Feb/March 2008
Inside is a scrumptious recipe for Chicago Style Italian Roast Beef. No, there is no pickles in this recipe, but you get to serve giardiniera on the side. YUM. We spruce up the hot giardiniera with a bit of mayonnaise. Pulse drained giardiniera (16oz bottle, reserve 1TBS brine) and 1TBS of mayo in a food processor about 15seconds. All you want is to mix the two ingredients into a paste. Put condiment into a serving container, add the brine, mix and serve with your sliced Italian Roast Beef. Oh. So. Good.

This giardiniera is from our local grocery store. However, if you want to support St. Louis' The Hill, home to Italian-American immigrants, whom settled there in the early 19th century, visit Di Gregorio's Italian Food Market and buy some of their giardiniera. The Hill is also home to many of our favorite Italian restaurants in all of St. Louis. If you are ever in the Lou and need a place to eat... we highly recommend many of the restaurants in the link!

If you read Jessica's MIM posted, you already know the following. This is our last MIM, for now. My intent was to put it out there and see how it goes. Thank you all for participating and I hope you enjoyed playing along. Maybe I'll throw something out there for the holidays. Who knows? Right now, I need to get some sleep because sick kids equates to NO sleep for a mom. True'dat!
Anne was hosting this week, I know her mother-in-law made something wonderful with pickles or hopefully she'll let us in on the adventure in her neck of the US. 
In other news, Anne and Mark will be visiting soon and Elise found this picture and insisted it is her Uncle Mark. Hope she won't be too disappointed. 

Monday, August 19, 2013

MIM #12

Welcome back to this weeks MI: Strawberries

Today is my youngest BIL's birthday, the big 18. To show our appreciation to this fine young lad and ALL the selfless help he gives to our family, on the regular, we will be making him the famous Strawberry Almond Pie. 

Recipe, pics and details all coming your way... After I've made it and we have consumed it, so check back with me later for all the dets. If you follow us on Instagram, I'll post some pics. #MIM 
Until then, link it up down below. I'll be inspired by your strawberry goodies while I make mine.  

Jessica and Co made a short stop here in the Lou over the weekend and though I didn't get to spend as much time with her and the family, I hope they enjoyed all the touristy adventures they sought after. Click on over to see her Strawberry goodness...she is traveling so her post may not be up til later.
Anne is hosting next weeks MIM so check in for this weeks MI.


Monday, August 12, 2013

MIM #11

I am still protesting desserts/baking, unless someone is in dire need of sugar. Usually, that someone is me, and that dire need...Uh, not so dire but I'm trying.

Since my favorite way to consume blueberries are via any baked good. ie. Blueberry Cobbler, Buckle, Muffins, or this Blueberry Lemon Coffee Cake, which I still have one in my freezer, we elected to make Blueberry Mojitos. Another weakness of mine, mojitos. Yes, (raising and waving my hand) I am aware of the sugar in our home made simple syrup as well as the sugar in liquor. Thank you very much. 
For some reason we have yellow limes and purple blueberry puree??? IDK
We enjoyed our Blueberry Mojitos with some of Robert's bros, a soon-to-be-SIL and friends. We like to share.
The base for the Mojitos comes from our traditional Mojito Recipe
To that we used: 
2C Fresh Blueberries, blended, strained, then added to pitcher with the rest of the mojito ingredients

They were very refreshing, delicious and added just a bit of tart to the sweet. 

Link up with Jessica so I can see how you used blueberries, or as Marie called them as a babe. "Blue-blues"
Check in with Anne and ask how the baby bump is coming along. 
This coming weekend we will be entertained by Jessica and her crew as they are coming to STL. Woohoo! Yes, I did mean, "we will be entertained" because she always brings the party with her. Hopefully we can double up for next weeks MI: Strawberries (I couldn't let the summer go by without including the quintessential berry) 
Go Fourth and Be Inspired!!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Our Love Story Pt.2

I bet you have been sitting on pins and needles, longing to know how the Christmas Party went. 
No? Oh well, I'll tell you anyway.

Company Christmas Party/ After Partaay

We walked into the banquet center made our way to the bar. He asked if I would like a drink. 
"A what?"
"You know, A Drink"
Uhhh... Humm.. I stood there waiting in line feeling like a dolt for the second time that evening. I wasn't a drinker. Instead of admitting that...The light bulb came on and I hate to admit it but I played The Girl card. 
"Suprise me." (I know. Barf)
I was handed a 7&7. His drink of choice, vodka tonic. (I know, it's pathetic, my attention to detail. I'll try to spare you and not bog myself down with it.)

We took our seats for dinner with a group from our Bread Co Cafe. It came as no surprise that I received the stink eye from a girl named Meghan, yes, I'm using her name because she was a total B to me. And, I don't care now, but at the time, she tried to make my life miserable. All because she had the deepest regards for Robert and lets say the feeling was not mutual. Anyways, that made dinner reeeeal niiice. I was glad when it was over and the music started. Where there's music...there's me... shaken my groove thing! It took a little coaxing but I finally got Robert out on the dance floor. He stood there in awe as I danced circles around everyone, or so he says. (Give me a second while I "brush my shoulders off"... Thanks JayZ!) He claims he was a bit intimidated, but when he loosened up, he had some wicked moves. Our first dance was a Jive, which he was confident in thanks to a Jive dance class he recently took. We danced til the music stopped and last call was announced. Neither one of us wanted the night to end, so we did what any young folk would do. We hopped into his car, with "Our Boss" in tow, and booked it to a night club in downtown St. Louis. 

There I had my first shot...his choice, liquid cocaine and, yes, he was all about the WOW factor and pulling out all the stops. (He still is) Have you ever had Goldschlager? You should try it. Once. The sensation of the gold specs as they plunge down the esophagus is a once in a life time thrill. Then comes the slow burn from the freshly made cuts left behind. Cinnamon and 87 proof. Whoooo. Weee! WOW

We danced for awhile, tried to have impossible conversation and I felt like Cinderella watching the clock, waiting for it to strike. The "ball" was ending and it was time to head home. My dancing shoes would be retired and the memories of a grand time gave way to self doubt. 

Was Robert going to be my Prince Charming? Was he going to attempt to chisel away at the Arctic glacier I had encompassing my jaded heart? Maybe my dancing shoes wouldn't have a chance at being locked in the metaphorical attic. 

"Our Bosses" House

Here's where things get interesting, so I'll keep it short and sweet. As we headed to "Our Bosses" house, she invited us in to hang out with her and some others. Robert and I had a chance to talk. I don't know if it's because we both felt as if we had nothing to lose, but the conversation just flowed. We were honest and didn't hold anything back. I believe we crammed a months worth of dating into one night and it didn't even count as a date. (Topics discussed: Faith, my lack of, his affections for. What our youth was like. Aspirations for the future) I reiterated my contentment with single life and that I wouldn't mind seeing him again and having the opportunity to "get to know him better". Then he dropped a bomb. 
And I quote "I only date someone to see if they will be the future mother of my children."  So, there you have it. BOMB dropped. My head exploded. My heart sank as I realized there was either a BIG commitment or nothing at all.  He wasn't going to waste time "getting to know someone". We were going to end this conversation dating or parting ways. Which one did I want? He made it clear he wanted to date me. The ball was in my court.

My conscience was bellowing, No. This is an ultimatum.  A huge cross roads in my life needing much consideration. You're not ready for this.
My Sub-conscience was trying to declare victory. Arguing with my conscience, desperately pleading and building a case. My heart agreed with my sub-conscience. I hadn't experienced such joy and happiness until now. The whole night was amazing. He was the answer to my prayers. Literally. I knew it in my heart. (Let's pause here for a second to give you some context: I started praying for guidance in my life back in October of 2003. I didn't grow up with faith or religion but sometime in October I realized I needed God. A hole in my heart needed to be filled, I just didn't know how to fill it, or where to start.)
Now, I had it staring me in the face. Asking me to trust. Take a leap of faith.,,,

And so I did. 

January 19th 2004

We started dating and I began a journey to faith and Catholicism. (More on this when I publish my conversion story)

The moment I knew I would love his mother, oddly was the first time I called the O'Brien household. It was indeed the 19th of January. Robert nor I had cell phones at the time so when we parted ways in the early hours of the 19th we decide I would call him later that day. Not to seem too desperate, I waited until that evening. When the phone picked up, his mother answered, I nervously asked to speak to him and waited. Finally, after what felt like an eternity, his voice rang through the phone with such charisma. "Hi. Honey!" he proclaimed. In the back ground I heard his mother scull him. "Don't you call that girl honey. You'll give her the wrong impression". I loved her. Right. Then! 

The 19th fell on a Monday; Robert belonged to a bowling league and Mondays' were the nights they bowled. (I despised all things bowling but agreed to go and cheer him on, plus the obvious...spend time with him. Oh, the stupid things we agree to do when dating.) He was excited to introduce me to his family. His parents are insistent one brings the boyfriend or in my case, girlfriend around as much as possible. It's how they gauge the character of the GF or BF. (And if this was the Roman Empire Era... a BIG thumbs up is what you are hoping for.) Needless to say, I was nervous. Since it was late and a school night, most of the siblings were in bed but I did meet the second and third oldest boys as well as the youngest girl (who is the baby of the family). I also recall his father playing computer when I walked in and immediately thought of my own father who is quite the computer guru. His mother was kind and spoke to me as I stood in their entry way, waiting for Robert to finish getting dressed in his bowling attire, black polo with team name (9 Pin) on the back. 

As we drove to the bowling alley, I got to ride shot gun like a big kid. I also became more familiar with his taste of music. Which like him, was all fun and upbeat. We picked "Our Song" that night, not intentionally, but when "Hey Girl" (artist: O.A.R.) we both looked at each other and knew. 
("...I took this girl out last night and we danced through the night...I like to read, she likes to write, She loves to sleep and I love to stay up all night...") Among many other lyrics that fit us perfectly.

I was eager for bowling to finish, even though I had a nice time meeting his friends. I was more interested in spending quality time with him. Instead, we went to another bowling alley to meet some of my friends, AND that was enough bowling to last me a life time. (Of course, it wasn't the last time I went to watch him bowl and after his league ended, we found ourselves bowling with his late-sister, Mary, her husband and some of his family. I look back at these times and enjoy the memories we made with all of them.)

January 20th 2004

This is the night Robert came to my house to meet my parents and take me out on a "real date". (His words for, not the bowling alley and out to a fancy restaurant) I fretted all day over what my parents would say or "dig up" about him. My dad was/is long time friends with many police officers in our area. So, I suspected we would be "well watched" and Robert, might be "well researched" should he give my dad probable cause. (I know now my dad wouldn't, okay probably wouldn't, have "back ground checked" him. Right dad?) The fretting was superfluous for Robert captured the hearts of all my parents the moment his polite, and humorous self spoke. (Sometimes I think they like him more than me :) ) Robert took me to Bahama Breeze for dinner, where he learned I wasn't much of a "foodie"but more a "meat and potatoes" kind'a girl. 

Moving Fast Now

Let's cover a lot of area with small but significant points in our dating history.
  • About a few weeks after Robert and I stated dating. He forgot to call me before he left work to tell me he was on his way to visit me. Without a cell phone, he stopped at a pay phone, in the dead of winter, to call. This is when he first said "I love you." It was very quick and I was SHOCKED! I didn't say anything back. (Like I said. Shocked, speechless) When he arrived I pretended as if I hadn't heard him. Of course, YEARS later, I finally came clean.
  • Our first Valentine's Day came a month after we started dating. It is one of the few we have celebrated. Remember I claimed he is *all. about. the. WOW. factor*? He proved it again. We worked part of a morning shift together. There was a great deal of buzz as to what Prince Charming was planning. A Lot of hype going on, I became increasingly nervous. It was revealed to me, through the great vine, he was going to my house before I was due to leave work. Apprehensive as to what I might find. I arrived home, his car was not there. A bit relieved, I opened my door to find my room decorated with two and a half DOZEN roses. In my favorite rose colors at the time. A dozen yellow, a dozen white then 1/2 dozen red (to be romantic). It was breathtaking and I was even more ecstatic to give him my gifts at dinner. My gifts included a bear named "Honey" (symbolism) from Build A Bear, I wished on his little heart when I made him that Robert would be "the one".  X ---that's my "scouts honor". (Again, not told to Robert until well after marriage) I enlisted my Aunt to help me bake his favorites: Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies and Fudge because my culinary skills were worse than they are now. We had dinner at a Chinese restaurant, it was gross and dirty, and we never returned. We walked out of the movie we went to see in the theater after the first 5 minutes were terribly disturbing and ended the evening at his parents watching Sweet Home Alabama. Pure. Bliss. Minus the dinner and theater.
My Aunt who helped me pull off baking
  • After a particularly grueling day at the good o' Bread Co, I got into my car and found a little note sticking out of my CD player. It read "I Love you" This made my day! When the car started I was confused by the unrecognizable sounds. He made me a mixed CD. (Kids these days will never know the love of a mixed tape/CD. Many more CD's followed all with something cute written on them.) It's safe to say, Robert is a hopeless romantic and I had to learn how to show affection. He introduced me to all of the "chick flicks" and his ridiculous obsession in young Michael J. Fox films. Redic! 

Yes, the one CD reads, Short and Warm and cuddly. That's my honey

  • Remember that bandaged right hand? Oh yea. You forgot? Turns out Robert's mother finished a nine day novena for him. The intention was for him to have guidance in his life. Robert thought he was to be a pilot in the Air Force when he arrived to take the test, he slammed his finger in the car door. (On the same day his mother finished her novena...wicked praying power she has!) Looong story short, Robert didn't take the test, had multiple surgeries to reattach tendons and attempts to recreate a nail bed. This all led him to working at "my" Bread Co where we first met. I too lost my right pointer fingernail in a work related accident so we are *right finger twins*.  It was meant TO BE or Gods' plan! 
  • March 2005, I made the grand slam of all grand slams! Yep! I became Catholic! Baptized, confirmed, first communion, the whole shebang in one Glorious night! 
  • Two year floated by and we enjoyed just about every minute of it. We were in love and wanted to spend the rest of our lives together. What was holding us back? We both made career advancements, his as a Bread Co GM and me in the financial industry. He just hadn't asked. Like most things in Robert's life he needs a swift kick in the pants. This time it was from his father; who told him, and I quote, "shit or get off the pot."
                                                     Us, enjoying 2 years of dating fun.
Thanksgiving Shenanigans 
Choc. and whipped cream pie attack (Target:Robert) Mission:success
Dressed up @ a friends' wedding
The proposal

We started ring shopping as he wanted me to pick something out. I found one but we made some modifications so the ring wasn't going to be ready for a few days. This was perfect because I knew he wanted to ask my fathers' permission. But, the ring arrived before he had a chance to talk with my dad. Let me tell you how torturous that was; to know "my" ring was waiting in a box. Itching to be placed onto it's rightful home, my little finger. Robert didn't help the situation of anticipation either. He played a good game of cat and mouse. He would holler my name and when I turned around, do you know what I would see? Him. On one knee. "Just tying my shoe". (Swank and swagger). Or, as we walked up the stairs to my apartment. He randomly dropped to his knee and said... "Have I told you how pretty you are!" (Tease!)
Yes, he played this card many times. I stopped catching my breath after, like the fifth time. Plus I knew he wasn't going to "officially" ask me until he received the approval from my dad. Finally, he was able to take my father out for a drink and explained his intentions. After my father gave his blessing; Robert pulls this lil' number out of his pocket ... "Yeah, I think Tasha and I will make a GREAT team! I can reach all the things up high and she can crawl under them." It's a good thing my dad has a great sense of humor.

So, how did he finally propose?

I was in my bathroom, doing my hair, I caught him out of the corner of my eye and gave him a "you really want to watch me do my hair" look. 
He says "So, you are going to marry me, right?" He sounded so unsure and looked a bit dazed. 
My reply was "Yea. Why?" 
R: "Oh, well, then you can have your ring now." 
M: "Really? That was it? You're really asking me NOW? Like that?"
R: "Yes."
You bet your bippy, my hot rollered hair was dashing into the kitchen to claim my ticket for the "Happily Ever After" roller coaster ride that is marriage. But, not before a proper Kiss. 
Engagement party
There you have it. I hope we didn't dissapoint. Maybe I'll add our CD's to Grooveshark so you can enjoy our soundtracks of love. A special Thanks to Grace@CampPatton for hosting the link up and to my sister in law, Anne for posting her story which encouraged me to write ours here on the blog. If you haven't written your story, take time to. It will rekindle some romance and your children will want to know one day.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Theme Thursday: Statues

This statue is one of my favorite wedding gifts. She came all the way from Italy via Robert's brother, who was taking a semester in Rome through The University of Dallas. I cherish her not only for her beauty but also because, a young man, in Rome, with little spending money saw this statue and decided to make it our wedding gift. Robert's brother said, when he saw her, he just knew he had to buy her for us. She had quite an adventure as he back packed all over Europe in the fall of 2006 with her.  Then she finally made her way to our home in January 2007. There are no words to express the sentiment I have for her and my BIL's thoughtfulness.  

Now head over to Clan Donaldson to check out MORE beautiful statues, because the Catholic community knows how to appreciate and show our adoration through beautiful works of art. 

Monday, August 5, 2013

MIM #10

Mystery Ingredient Monday: Leek Addition

I love all things in the Amaryllidaceae family, or so I thought. Red, yellow, white, and green onions are oh so delicious. I don't even want to think about a dish that could not be made better by adding garlic, for that would be a dish not worth eating. So when Anne choose Leeks... I was all like. Sure, why not? And. Why haven't we cooked with leeks before? 
Then I ate our leek recipe and well, maybe it's because I don't really like them. Or, Maybe it's because these "leeks" are really just glorified-but-not-as-good-onions??? Either way. I figured out why we don't cook with leeks. 

So, what dish has me disliking leeks? 

Last week I informed you all of my husbands love for the French cuisine and Jacques Pepin. The love grew this week and he is now the proud owner of Pepin's cookbook: Essential Pepin. No more day dreaming on the couch while he watches Pepin cook 2 main dishes in less than 30 min. My chef can now do it all too... ;)  Yes, Pepin and his French cookbook came in handy for our leek recipe. We used Pepin's Leek Gratin. (You can tell my husband was in charge of photography this week.)
Leek Gratin

4 Lg leeks (1 3/4 LB) trimmed, split, washed
3 slices firm white bread
3 Lg garlic cloves
1 4oz piece Gruyere cheese
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
1 1/2 tsp olive oil
2 TBS unsalted butter      

  • Bring 1C water to boil in large skillet. Add Leeks, boil over high heat, then cover, reduce the hear to med-high, cook about 20 min until leeks are tender and most water is evaporated. If any water is remaining. Boil, uncovered about a min. to eliminate it. Remove leeks from skillet and place on cutting board.
  • Preheat oven. 475.     Butter a 4-5 Cup gratin dish. When leeks are cool, cut them into 3 inch lengths. Arrange the pieces, alternating white and green pieces, in one layer in the gratin dish.
  • Process the bread, garlic, cheese, salt, and pepper in food processor until the mixture is finely chopped. Transfer to a bowl, add the oil, and mix gently with your hands to lightly coat the bread mixture with oil.
  • Spread mixture on top of the leeks. Cut the butter into small pieces and dot the top of the gratin with the butter.
  • Place in oven. Cook for 7-8 min, or until top is nicely browned.
  • serve
So, there you have it. Leeks Gratin with butter, garlic, bread and cheese, and all I can give you is a. "Eehh!" with a shoulder shrug. 
Now, the Coq Au Vin Chicken that was served with the leeks gratin was pretty tasty. 

I know Anne is busy with school, so keep checking her blog for the link up. Jessica is still vacaing in Michigan but has next weeks MI all ready to go because she's all kinds of organized like that. Check'm both.

On a side note. I've had a few emails about peeps wanting to play along but not having a blog. NO PROBLEM! Tag us in a facebook post, #mysteryingredient on instagram or comment on one of our blogs with what you came up with. No blog necessary to play.

Go Fourth and be inspired.  



Monday, July 29, 2013

MIM #9

Oak Glenn Winery (photos from our 2006 visit)
Wine. Whine. Grapes. Red. White. Vineyard. Drank. Ate. Purchased. Cooked. Baked. Thought of.
However you used or interpreted last weeks MI, wine, I hope it was F to the UN! 

I have been SO spoiled by visiting Missouri's beautiful *rolling hills* that bare fruit made for fermenting, that I've been pining for days of old. Where folks weren't slaves to time and landscapes were painted on the daily to achieve perfection in complex view points such as these. All while sipping on wine produced in their very own vineyard.

Stone Hill Winery ('06 visit)
Oak Glenn, tell me those photos don't make you want to go back in time
My BBF, myself and Robert IV at Sugar Creek Winery
Last weekend, the weekend of July 21st 2013, we celebrated my BFF's 30th birthday at Sugar Creek. This celebration in conjuntion with the previous weekends' endevour to our favorite winery, Adam Puchta , is what inspired my MI choice of wine. From the photos above, how could I not be inspired! Throw in my husbands new fond love for Jacques Pepin's French cuisine and well... you have all the inspiration this Clan needed to make a dish fit for a Lord. 

Robert found a Provencal Braised Beef  recipe and we made it together. It was right up my alley. Not. Time. Sensitive. We preped and marinated the meat on Saturday, it took no time at all because everything was quarterd. On Sunday, early afternoon, we made up the gravy which was the most time consuming aspect of the dish. We then placed the meat and gravy into the oven and let it cook for a few hours. The aroma filled the house with scents of fall and though warm weather is my favorite, there's nothing more cozy then the smells and feelings of fall with out the cold! This was my Utopia! 

We served the sish with a side of roasted carrots and potatoes along with our famous Margaret's Rolls

base for marinade

meat scored and fat salt prepped

alcohol used 

Entire bottle of wine from above photo went in

Making the rue for the gravy then meat went back into dutch oven

Our Gravy/Fat Separator was hard at work
finished beef provencal and wine served with dinner
I could tell you we didn't drink or celebrate our way through this weekend but that would be False. 
Date night Thursday, Poker night Friday, Meat & Potatoes Saturday @the in-laws for a going back to collage shindig and More Meat & Potatoes for Sundays family dinner with some close friends. Total Blast. If only my babe slept better I wouldn't feel so exhausted. 

I don't know if Jessica will be participating this week since she is in Michigan but Anne is choosing next weeks MI. Check'm!

Link up below, tag us on facebook or #mysteryingredient on the gram. 
Go fourth and be inspired.

Mystery Ingredient Monday #9

Or use the new Add link method ?

(Submissions close in 6d 20h 26m)
Link tool by