Tag Archives: Houston

It’s 80F so we made ice cream

Chocolate Amaretto Pecan Ice Cream - TitlePic

For the record, 80F in January is a crime against nature. My roses are blooming again. Our yard guy showed up this week to mow. We turned on the AC again. It’s JANUARY, people! This is why we can’t own sweaters. {sigh}

So what do you do when Mother Nature turns the tables on you? Make ice cream (of course). This time we decided to use the chocolate-covered amaretto pecans given to us by our friends Kaki & Donny. She said they were addictive like crack. She was right. These babies are good right outta the bag, but they’re even better swimming in a big vat of dark chocolate ice cream.

I’m going to daydream about that for a minute…

Dark Chocolate Ice Cream with Chocolate-Dipped Amaretto Pecans
2 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 cup milk (we use 2%)
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons Hershey’s Special Dark chocolate syrup
3/4 cup chocolate-dipped amaretto pecans, chopped

Whisk the eggs until light and fluffy (about 2 minutes); slowly add sugar and whisk for one minute more. Add the cream, milk, salt, vanilla and chocolate syrup and whisk until thoroughly combined. Pour into an electric ice cream freezer and process until done. We use the Cuisinart machine, which takes about 30 minutes. Stir in the chopped pecans, spoon into a a freezer-safe container with a tight fitting lid & place in the deep freeze overnight. (Makes 1 quart)

Chocolate Amaretto Pecan Ice Cream - CloseUp

So while the rest of the nation basks in the glory of fluffy snow or cute sweater weather, we’ll be down here pulling weeds in our flip-flops. And eating ice cream.

PS – If that makes you jealous, call me. House-swap offers will be considered.

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Houston 2012 Art Car Parade

The Complete Package and I attended our first Houston Art Car Parade this weekend. What a hoot! Over 300 cars entered this year’s parade; each one of them unique and entertaining. Here’s a look at this year’s event, starting with Houston’s mayor. Note: You can click on any photo to see it in a larger format, then simply hit the ‘back arrow’ on your computer to return to the blog.

And to prove that it’s not just about the cars, here’s a tribute to my favorite “accessory” of the day. Caution – you may not be able to handle all this sexy.

To the funny & friendly lady who sat behind us at the parade ogling the Viking Skater man (I believe her name was Lynn) – that one was for you. {wink}

If you’d like to learn more about the Houston Art Car Parade, please visit their website at http://www.thehoustonartcarparade.com/

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Buy Local Spotlight: Eating out at Stomp’s Burger Joint in Bacliff, Texas

In an effort to promote local products and places, The Complete Package and I ventured out last Sunday in search of the perfect hamburger. There’s an urban myth in the Houston area that Stomp’s Burger Joint in Bacliff, Texas has not only developed near perfect hamburgers, but has also mastered the art of onion rings. We knew it would be a sacrifice, but we were willing to take one for the team to find out if the rumors were true. With our stretchy pants on and our camera in hand, we set out on the hour-long drive to Bacliff on Highway 146 along Galveston Bay, a few minutes south of Kemah.

Inside seating at Stomp's is limited, so go early or be prepared to wait.

We knew we had arrived when we saw a brown wooden structure with STOMP’S painted on the roof. As expected, the place was crowded and we found ourselves pulling into an over-flow parking lot adjacent to the restaurant. When you get there, it’s “seat yourself” and be forewarned, inside tables are hard to come by. If you insist on air-conditioning you may very well have to wait, but if you’re willing to brave the heat, Stomp’s has a screened patio with extra outdoor seating. Once you find a table, a busy waitress will greet you promptly and get to work on your drink order. Choices include tea (sweet & unsweetened), soft drinks and beer. We went for a Dr Pepper and a Shiner. This is Texas, after all.

The Yippee Ki Yay burger at Stomp's - it's a good one.

When it comes to burgers, there is something for everyone at Stomp’s. Like them plain? Got it. Prefer your burger with double meat, gooey cheese and chopped jalapenos? Done. Marinated in wine? Yep. Marinated in ranch? You betcha. Smothered in chili, salsa, mushrooms or refried beans? They do that, too. I chose the Hog Wild burger, which featured a single, hand-packed meat patty with smokey bacon mixed in. I topped mine with cheese, tomatoes, onion and avocado with a little mayo. TCP ordered the Yippee Ki Yay burger that included a single meat patty marinated in ranch and topped with BBQ sauce, cheddar cheese, and all the fixin’s. Both burgers were tasty. The meat is freshly ground and hand shaped, so there’s no fear of getting a frozen, pre-shaped patty. No mass-produced burgers here, folks. These things were fresh and homemade and lovely. They were crisp and smokey on the outside, and juicy on the inside.

The key to those big, gorgeous rings? Order them double-dipped.

Our next choice was fries or onion rings. Reviews we’d seen on the internet warned that the fries were of the generic frozen variety and should be skipped. Instead, we went for the hand-battered rings. We ordered one batch of rings the regular way and one “double dipped”, as suggested in one review. When they arrived, however, both orders came out double-dipped. Once we tried them, we were thankful for the mix-up. The double-dipped onion rings came out so thick and crunchy, they were hard to resist. We were also thankful we’d each ordered a plate, since both of us decided we didn’t want to share. A standard order of onion rings comes with 5-7 thick sliced rings. We agree with other reviewers: skip the fries and order the onion rings; double-dipped is the way to go.

Overall, we consumed two juicy, flavor-packed burgers, two orders of double-dipped onion rings, a big glass of Dr. Pepper and a frosty Shiner beer. Our total bill was $28 including the tip. So now the big question is, “Was it worth it?” Yes. I wouldn’t say it was worth driving 2 hours round-trip just to visit Stomp’s, but if we’re ever in the Galveston Bay area and we’re craving a burger & rings, we would definitely stop in again. So, it appears the rumors are mostly true. Stomp’s does make a great burger and they have definitely mastered the art of onion rings, especially if you go for double-dipped deliciousness. But best burger ever? I’m not willing to make that leap. I’d put them in our Top 5 in the Houston area. Maybe even Top 3, and that’s not bad. Not bad at all.

The Stomp’s website is sparse, with only a restaurant logo and a scanned copy of the menu to choose from, but thanks to YELP, you can get a map and read reviews posted by those who’ve gone before you. There are also a few photos to browse. I’ll admit, I read the reviews before we went and it paid off. We would never have known that you could order your onion rings “double dipped” without those reviews. Now, if only Stomp’s would switch to hand-cut fries…

For what it’s worth, you can find the Stomp’s website at: http://www.stompsburgerjoint.com/

To read what others are saying about Stomp’s, try YELP.com at: http://www.yelp.com/biz/stomps-burger-joint-bacliff

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Houston Treasure: Glenwood Cemetery

A cemetery may not be everyone’s idea of a local treasure, but there is one in Houston that fits the description. It’s not just a cemetery… it’s a sanctuary for those who shaped the city of Houston throughout its history. Established in 1872, early settlers, city founders, empire builders and beloved city residents rest here. Most famously, it is the final resting place of billionaire businessman Howard Hughes. But it’s the men and women who shaped the city of Houston that catch my eye – Milam, Allen, Rice, Cooley, Hermann, Harris, Hobby, Hofheinz, and Wortham. Glenwood Cemetery is a place of contrast – loss & peace, pain & comfort, simplicity & beauty, and history in the shadow of downtown skyscrapers. This is my photo tribute to those who rest here.

“Do not stand at my grave and weep. I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow; I am the diamond glint on snow.
I am the sunlight that ripened grain; I am the gentle autumn’s rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush, I am the swift uplifting rush,
Of quiet birds in circled flight. I am the soft star that shines at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry. I am not there; I did not die.”
– Irish funeral prayer

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Things I Love, Volume 7: Anthon Berg Fruit & Marzipan Dark Chocolates

It’s no secret that I love dark chocolate. Anyone who knows me or reads my blog regularly knows that there’s almost nothing I won’t do for a good dark chocolate. They also know that I love to travel. Fortunately, the The Complete Package and I have been lucky enough to have taken some fabulous trips, and one of the perks of travel is trying local foods. For me, that includes chocolate. Everyone has their souvenir priorities. I really don’t need another t-shirt. I want chocolate!

One thing I’ve learned about chocolate is that it is different everywhere you go. Sometimes the differences are subtle and sometimes they’re diverse. One of my favorites is Anthon Berg chocolates from Denmark. Have I been to Denmark? No. Do I have to go to Denmark to get these? No! And that’s the beauty of it. Last week, while shopping with Mom and two of my sisters, we stopped at Chocolat du Monde in Rice Village (Houston), and there on the shelf were two boxes of Anthon Berg raspberry chocolates. And they were 1/2 off. Have mercy!

Here’s what I love about Anthon Berg chocolates – they’re filled with fruit stewed in booze layered over marzipan (almond paste) and dipped in dark chocolate. Yeah, you heard me. I’m showing the raspberry with orange liqueur. They also make plums in Madeira, apricots in brandy, strawberries in champagne, cherries in rum and grapes in muscat wine. The plums in Madeira have always been my favorite, but the raspberry is giving them a run for their money. They are world class. And they’re really not boozy in flavor. You get a hint of booze with an explosion of fruit. And when you combine it with that almond marzipan and dip it all in dark chocolate… well, it’s amazing.

If you’re a chocolate nut or just want to see the pretty packages, go to:
http://www.anthonberg.com/Products/Travel%20Retail/Fruit%20-%20Marzipan.aspx

And if you’re in Houston and find yourself poking around Rice Village, drop in at Chocolat du Monde. The gentleman behind the counter couldn’t be nicer, and he stocks a fantastic variety of chocolates. Try the dark chocolate sea salt caramel. You won’t regret it.

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Big storm’s coming…and I’m bummed

Not because we’re expecting snow and ice in Houston, but because my first attempt at cake balls will go unconsumed for a few days. And I had such a good time making them. They smell so good. They’re made with dark chocolate cake with some coffee in it, a tub of dark chocolate fudge frosting and some miniature chocolate chips, then dipped in Ghiradelli dark chocolate chips. My house smelled like a fudge factory yesterday, and it was AWESOME! I was supposed to host a Super Bowl themed Bunco party for friends tonight, but we’ve decided to postpone until the storm passes. We tend to get a little paranoid down here in the deep South. It’s not that we’re afraid to drive on ice as much as it’s that we don’t know HOW to drive on ice. We just don’t get much down here. In our 21 years in Houston, we’ve only had a few rare snow flurries. The last ice I remember was Thanksgiving 1989. We’re not equipped for this kind of weather. But fear not…we’re stocked up on toilet paper, food, hot beverages, candles, and blankets so we’re prepared to stay in until it passes. It’s a good excuse to snuggle, anyway. Until then, the cake ball footballs are going into an airtight container in the back of the fridge. I sure hope they keep until next Thursday. I’d hate for The Complete Package and I to have to eat 15 of these over the weekend. That would be horrible…with a cup of coffee…and some vanilla ice cream. Tragic, really.

The best kind of football - a dark chocolate one!

UPDATE: This recipe is posted on The Pioneer Woman’s Tasty Kitchen page at: http://thepioneerwoman.com/tasty-kitchen/recipes/desserts/fudgy-footballs/

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A Lego Holiday Wonderland

When The Complete Package and I were in Stuttgart, Germany on vacation recently, we fell in love with these awesome holiday window scenes. Then we noticed they were made of Legos. To that I say “WOW” for several reasons:

1. These are totally awesome!
2. This must have taken someone forever to build.
3. Someone got paid to do this.
4. Now I know what Jonah Bear can be when he grows up.

I love to look at the holiday displays in store windows. It’s an art form, and I really appreciate all the time and effort that goes into putting them together. If you agree, leave a comment and tell me about your favorites. Someone in your city might like to check them out, as well. And if you have any suggestions for neighborhoods covered in Christmas lights in the Houston area, I’ll take those, too. I already have Pecan Grove in Richmond/Rosenberg and Green Tee Terrace in Pearland on my map. Thanks for sharing, and merry everything!

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