Wednesday, March 28, 2012

My most favoritest recipe in the history of forever

Pin It Some of you might remember this post over at Generation Q Magazine from way back in January.  Ever since that interview, I've had several people ask me for my beef tips recipe.  I told them that if they sit tight, I would eventually blog it for them.  I wanted to  make them again before posting my recipe on the internet to be sure they're as good as I remember.

Since they take so long to make, and time is my enemy of late, it has taken me this long to get around to making them.  It turns out that having a mystery illness that causes you to spend way more time away from work than you'd like, also opens up all kinds of time to remember how much you love cooking!

Let me preface this by stating that this recipe is all about personal preference.  I started working on the perfect (for me) recipe back in 2003.  It took me a few times of making them - and making adjustments - to get them just the way I like them.  I promise they will be the most tender, delicious beef tips you will ever make!
Here we go.

What you'll need
* 1 medium onion, chopped (I prefer yellow onions - don't make my eyes feel like they're going to shoot out of my head)
* 3 tablespoons butter
* Garlic, in whatever form you like.  Fresh minced, dry minced, powder, whatever.
* 2 lbs. stew meat (If you have a roast in the freezer, thaw it out and cut it up.  If you have steaks, cut them up.  For this batch, I bought two sirloin steaks, which I've never done before)
* 1/4 cup soy sauce
* 1/4 cup worcestershire sauce
* 1 1/4 cup water
* 1 packet dry brown gravy mix (yes I'm serious)
* 3/4 cup water

To start, slowly melt the butter (or whatever you prefer to use for sauteeing) in a LARGE skillet.  The bigger the better.  Add onions and sautee until tender and clear.
Add cubed meat.  Cook only until browned.  You won't be cooking them all the way through. 

Once the meat is browned, add the soy sauce, worcestershire sauce and 1 1/4 cup water.  Bring to a rolling boil, reduce heat to low.  Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally for two hours

Increase heat and return to a boil.  In a bowl or mixing cup, combine the gravy mix and 3/4 cup of water until mixed well.  Pour into pan and let boil for 10-15 minutes.  Reduce heat again.  The sauce will thicken as it simmers.  If you like a thinner sauce, use 1 cup of water with the gravy rather than 3/4.  If you like thicker sauce, let it boil a little longer before reducing heat.

And they're done!  Since these beef tips have a sort of Asian flavor to them, I usually serve them over rice with steamed broccoli on the side.  I will sometimes add some water chestnuts into the mix to give a little more texture.  For this particular batch, I had no fresh veggies, except potatoes.  So I served them over delicious garlic mashed potatoes instead.  Yum!

This recipe is also rather easy to adjust for if you need to feed more people.  I have doubled, and even tripled it before and it worked fabulously.  If you make them, please let me know what you think!

Monday, March 26, 2012

One secret revealed - the cover girl

Pin It
I'm sitting here in the physical therapist's office not feeling too confident as I wait for the doctor to get here (my tummy is doing flippy floppies) so I figure I may as well see if I can get this Blogger app work the way I want it to.
For those of you that don't know, Thomas Knauer and I have been collaborating on a lot of projects lately. The last quilt that I quilted in 2011 was his (you haven't seen it yet) and the first quilt that I quilted in 2012 was also his. I haven't yet shown you that one either. Until right now.
It is on the cover of the June issue of American Patchwork and Quilting and will be available April 3rd!
(If this doesn't work, please let me know so I can take it down!)
 Thomas wrote more about it here.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Less than stellar

Pin It This has not been the best week!  I'm once again working under some really tight deadlines (and people keep changing them and making them tighter, which makes for an unhappy Lisa).  I thought I had it all under control until my body decided to throw me for a loop.

I wasn't going to write a blog about this because it just seems so dramatic, and I've already detailed the whole saga on Facebook, but a Twitter friend (hi Shelly!) had no idea what was going on.  I decided if I put it here, then I won't have to repeat it anymore and I can start to put it behind me.

This past Sunday I came into work with plans of working until five, and then head home to get ready for dinner with a friend.  That friend ended up cancelling, which was really for the best.  Around 3:30 I stepped away from the machine to get a cup of coffee and realized that my shoe was digging into my ankle.  I pulled my (pajama) pant leg up to see what the deal was and wow.  My ankle was swollen up like a balloon!  It was hard to walk.  So I went home and got into bed.

By Monday morning the swelling had spread about half way up my leg and all the way down my foot.  Weird, right?  On Tuesday I thought it was looking better (yes, the picture below is the "better").

And then it got worse again.  Regardless of my own opinion, my friends thought otherwise and urged me to get into the doctor.  Tuesday afternoon I called and made an appointment for Thursday (today).  Then for some reason, I called back and tried to get an appointment sooner, and they fit me in on Wednesday morning.  When I got to the examination room and took off my shoe and sock the nurse said it didn't look so great.  When the doctor walked in he said, quite loudly, "hoooooooooly cruuuuuuuuud", which made me heartily laugh (you have to know my doctor).  He drew blood and basically decided that I have MRSA because a couple of days after the swelling started, I developed lesions, gross lesions in my skin.  He was worried about me becoming septic for some reason (I don't know how that happens, I'm no doctor).  He said that if I had waited for today's appointment, he would've admitted me to the hospital right away for IV antibiotics.  It's a good thing I changed my appointment! I got a shot of something, my leg got zapped in a few places with an infrared light, it got wrapped and I was sent on my merry way with a prescription for some new antibiotic that is supposed to help with the antibiotic-resistant strain of whatever it is that I have. I had to spend the night wondering if I was going to get to come to work today or not, as he was still convinced I'd end up in the hospital.

I had to go back today for a re-check and if it wasn't any better, he was going to admit me.  Luckily, in some areas there was improvement, while other areas are actually worse.  Anyway, I'm getting wordy here.  I have to go back tomorrow and Monday for more re-checks but for now, I'm out of the hospital and have to try my best to remember to take a pill (the pharmacist said it's a double dose strength) twice a day for the next six weeks. The swelling makes working difficult and the aches and chills are no fun at all but...  so much to do!  I hope you all are well.  Hopefully soon I'll have some finishes that I can share with you. If I don't, I will have some very unhappy customers!

Giant thanks to Janet-Lee Santeusanio, Mark Pfeiler, Randall Cook, Teri Lucas, Mary Schilke, Sherry Rogers-Harrison, Janet Bay, Peggy Bass, Arlene Simpson, Becky Glatter and ALL of  my wonderful friends for urging me to go be seen.  I really didn't think it was a big deal and without them basically threatening me if I didn't go to the doctor, who knows how bad it could've been.  I love you guys!

So there you have it (Shelly!).  Now I can get back to work and try to catch up from being miserable and exhausted all week and getting nothing done.  =]
(If none of this made any sense, my apologies.  My brain hasn't been properly functioning lately)

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Must Stop Shop: Lola Pink Fabrics!

Pin It Must stop?  Absolutely, yes. 
Lola Pink is located in Lafayette, LA in a cozy little strip-mall-y type thing with mostly boutique-style shopping and small eateries.  And there's a heavenly brownie shop like, two doors down.  Perfect!  If I worked there I would easily gain 25 pounds thanks to that brownie shop's Reese's Brownie (or the red velvet one.  Yeah, I got two).

So here's a little story.  I follow Lola Pink on Twitter and they also follow me.  However when I'm traveling, (really, it's not just when I'm traveling) all of my sense and logic goes out the window and I didn't even think about the fact that I called it a night in Lafayette on the way home.  I woke up from a terrible night of sleep and went down to the hotel lobby -in my polka dot fuzzy jammy pants and a crappy old hoodie, btw) for my yogurt and coffee and got on my phone to search for nearby quilt shops.  The ol' oil needed to be changed and there was some time to kill.  I nearly inhaled my coffee with a gasp when I realized I was in the home of Lola Pink!

This is what you see when you "arrive at your destination" (thank you, GPS).

Um.  HELLO???
I couldn't get in the door fast enough.

Walking into this shop is kind of like a giant mood changer.  I was all excited and pumped up when I got there and the second I walked through the door I felt differently.  Most certainly not in a bad way.  You cross the threshold into Lola Pink and suddenly everything is serene!  It may be a combination of the gorgeous fabrics, the colors and the decor but whatever it is, you basically feel like you could curl up next to one of the shelves and take a nap.

I have to admit that I'm a little jealous that their Mettler thread display is bigger than mine!

Lola Pink is a mother/daughter venture and I LOVE THAT.  The pictures of the shop may make it look small.  And it is small.  But they make the absolute best of the space they have available to them.  Can you honestly look at this place and tell me it isn't a place you'd love to visit?!

Unfortunately the daughter half of the team (Jen) wasn't there that day (but her sample of the Amy Butler Lotus Tunic was! Which sold me on the pattern...), but once I introduced myself to Janet, we just became a couple of Chatty McChatsters.  We chatted so much that I actually had to abruptly say, "Okay, I seriously need to pick out some fabric."

The only problem with Lola Pink is that you want a little of everything.  Everything.  I think it took me all of seven minutes to come up with my choices - and only because I focused on two lines of fabric-.  It was really hard to only get a yard of each of my prints that I had chosen and I really should've gone with my usual three yards of each.  BUT!  That's the great thing, I can order whenever I want from their delicious online shop!!  I highly suggest that you make a road trip out there, but if it's just not gonna happen, stop by and see what they've got.  You won't be disappointed!  They *always* have something on sale.  Genius!

Here's my Lola stash:

Right?  Seven yards of fabric and three patterns?  What a sissy!  But, this was the butt-end of my trip and I was trying to conserve for just-in-case.  Again, I say...  their website!

Needless to say, Lola Pink is a shop that I will be venturing to anytime I am anywhere near.  Their brick and mortar store is growing ever-so-quickly so I can't see them being in that same location for long ( waaaaaah!!!  Bye-bye brownie shop! ) but what can you really expect from such a hip, happy place to be?

I can't wait to hang out with Janet and Jen in Houston at Market!  It's a DATE, y'all!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Mes Amis, The Never-Ending Custom, and some AWESOME

Pin It There are so many things to say about my time in New Orleans, but I think I'll skip it all for the best part of NOLA.
My last day in town was planned ever-so-carefully.  I wanted to wake up early and get to Cafe Du Monde for some awesome beignets and cafe au lait.  Um.  YES.
It was raining that morning (of course) and after parking a few blocks away I stopped at a CVS to buy an umbrella (hot pink) to get me there.  I had actually put some effort into my appearance that day (after looking like a homeless person for the last year or so)!  I wasn't about to let the rain make me wear sad-face.
So Cafe Du Monde?  FREAKIN' RAD.  Any words I try to use to describe it just won't do.  It was awesome.

Now my careful plan gave us a bit of time to scope out a quilt shop that I had found.  Mes Amis Quilt Shop. Oh, I'm so glad I found this place!  We walked in the door and right away we were welcomed.  I mostly walked around and kept silent until I saw this:
You probably have no idea what that is.  But I knew what it was!  It was the pattern that my friend, Melissa made up for McCall's Quick Quilts that I quilted.  And they had it kitted it up!  I got on Twitter and told M right away because I was so excited.  I gasped and jumped up and down and said, "That's meee!".  We talked a bit about Melissa and myself and then they brought out another copy of the magazine and asked me to autograph it (my third autograph!).  They took pictures of me signing it, but then I took a picture of them with it after I had signed it.  :)

I bought a whole buncha Kaffe while I was there (stay tuned for the quilt!) and some Jennifer Paganelli too!  They have this awesome block of the month program for this year, all about New Orleans history.  Guess what the first block is!

Can't find it.  (It's Cafe Du Monde) But here is the quilt!  It's fabulous! 

I saw them several times through the tradeshow (which was the next stop) and I had a blast with them throughout the entire day.  Excellent shop.  Excellent people.  If you are ever anywhere near New Orleans, stop into Mes Amis!  And tell Denise that I said hello!

Now for the never-ending custom. 
I made the terrible mistake of loading Moda's Green Piece block of the month onto Oliver's frame before leaving, thinking that I was superwoman and I'd totally get it quilted before I left.  Yeah, not so much.  So it seemed like it was lingering there FOREVER!  So many thread changes, so many little details, so much time.  I was definitely ready to have it done.  And now it is!
The front...

A close-er up-er of the front...

And the back...

Looking at it now I'm not sure why it seemed like it took so long, but I'm glad it's done because I have plenty more where that came from just waiting to be tricked out in thread.

The awesome?  Well, I can't really talk about any of it.  I think at last count, there are seven bits of awesome that I'm holding in just waiting for the time to reveal each one.  Right about now I'm feeling like the universe is probably playing some sort of cruel trick on me and none of it is real.  Or all of the stuff that is happening will suddenly end in a "just joking!" type of scenario.  All along I've felt like I wasn't really all that good at what I do, but that everyone looking at my stuff was perhaps blind or confused.  Needless to say, all of the stuff that is happening, wouldn't be happening if that was the case.  I couldn't be more thrilled about the things that are waiting for me in the near future.  I'm not trying to tease with things I can't share, which is why I haven't mentioned them.  But I'm nearly to the point of bursting so I just had to share at least that part of it.  :)

Hopefully I'll be back soon.  I do have tons of things that I can write about, just limited time on my computer.  I'm hoping that my Kaffe quilt will be done by the end of the weekend.  I'm afraid it's going to end up being not nearly as awesome in practice as it is in my head but I don't care.  I'm going to sew and that's what matters!