Sunday, April 24, 2011

Spicy Catfish in a Flash

As soon as I tried this recipe from my friend Lynn a few years ago, it immediately became a regular in our dinner rotation. Being from Mississippi, Josh was a little weary of catfish that wasn't fried but this one's got his heart. It is so easy, so quick and so delicious. Plus, I think it's pretty and colorful.

You'll need:

2-3 catfish fillets (If you aren't a catfish fan, any white fish would be delicious.)
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 T paprika
1 T Old Bay
1/2 tsp cayenne (the recipe calls for 1/2 T but that's too spicey for me, and I like spicy.)
1 T black pepper
1 stick butter, melted
1 lime, juiced
1/2 cup white shoe peg corn
1/2 cup chopped green onion
15-20 grape tomatoes, sliced in half
1/2 cup white wine (in a bind, I've used I've said before, I am no chef. It tasted fine!)
White rice (I use minute rice.)

Rinse the catfish fillets in cold water, pat dry. Combine melted butter and lime juice. (I melt butter in a small bowl in the microwave and squeeze the lime right into that.) Dip fillets in the butterlime juice mixture (save what's left) and lay them on plastic wrap. Mix seasonings together (garlic powder, paprika, Old Bay, cayenne, black pepper). Generously sprinkle both sides of the fillet with the seasonings. At this point, you can refrigerate until ready to cook.

Preheat skillet on high heat for about one minute. Spray with Pam. Put fillets in skillet and cook for about 2 minutes. You'll want to turn your heat down some. Flip and cook for another 2 minutes. As soon as I make this flip, I put the rice in the microwave so it can cook its 90 seconds. Then, I put a serving on each plate. Back to the fish...once again, flip and cook for another 2 minutes. This is not a chef's technique but I usually poke the spatula into the fillets to see how flakey they are. If they are starting to fall apart, I know they are ready. A real cook would say they should be about as firm as your wrist.

Once the fillets are falling apart a little bit, place each fillet on a bed of rice. You can substitute spinach for the rice. We are a white rice kind of family. I think I did the spinach once...Josh took one bite and said, "Where's the rice?" We tried. Once the fillet is on the rice, I usually cover with a paper towel to keep it warm (although your topping will be piping hot!).

You'll want to wipe out your skillet now. Don't stress over it - it does not have to be perfectly clean by any stretch. Turn your heat up to high. Add what's left of the butter mixture, the white wine, corn, green onion and tomatoes. Stir it around for about a minute or so and scrape up the crusty seasonings that may be left in the pan. Aren't these colors pretty??

Once you've cooked your topping around for a few, generously spoon over the rice/catfish. This is everything in one...a starch, your protein and your veggies. This recipe makes 2 nice sized portions.

Try it and tell me what you think of Lynn's quick catfish!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Spring Green

Spring means cleaning...and lots of cleaning outside in the yard. Through all of this, I have developed so much appreciation for everything that my parents and their friends did to prepare for our wedding last June. After a massive ice storm, my parent's 20 acres were left in horrible shape. OK, we have 1/3 of an acre...and we are slaves to weeding, laying new pinestraw, replanting, weeding again. It is ridiculous!

Last weekend, I planted 7 flats of white impatiens. I love white flowers and thought they would pop. The irises planted behind the impatiens are going to be mom and sister helped me plant them this fall and I hope they bloom this year. We also planted a boatload in the back yard...they have already multiplied!

We have a late blooming azalea. It is still mostly buds but there are lots of them. This is right in front of our porch and I love to see the blooms open up more each day. I know, I am such a dork. Really, I get so excited about these kinds of's a problem! Sick, look at the pollen.

How amazing is this Japanese maple?! Even more amazing that it hides our fugly mailbox.  It is fuller and fuller every year. It almost needs to be trimmed but I'm not touching it!

This was given to me as a housewarming present when I bought my townhome 3 years is beautiful and low-maintenance and sits on the front porch of our house boasting an American flag.

A couple of before and after pictures...I have a funny story about this first picture. Worked hard for it. I went home during work one day to let the dogs out for a bathroom break, as Josh was traveling and I was working late that night. I was so concerned with getting the camera to snap a "before" picture that I locked the doorknob from the inside and closed the door...with my keys on the entry table...inside the house. I knew it as soon as I closed the door. I mumbled a few four-letter words, ran to the street to take the bless-ed picture, called Josh and cried, called Mom and cried, decided I had to do something other than cry, so went to plan B. Hide-a-key...back yard. The gate into our back yard is high, too high to climb. I couldn't unlatch it from the outside, definitely couldn't climb over it without busting my face. The other side of the house has a chain length fence. I ignore the yard people across the street, who must have thought I was nuts. Blond and nuts. I took my 4 inch heels off and threw them over the fence. No idea why I did that, but I'd already asked myself that several times at this point. I scaled the fence, managing to rip my brand new pants and cry atop the fence too. Oh well, I got in the house...and then locked myself out again a few weeks later. Unbelieveable, Georgia!

Anyway, here is our little house before the blood, sweat and tears...

A little drabby and dried up, huh?

And here is what we look like today!

It's amazing what a new roof, new gutters, fresh pinestraw, new flowers/ferns and lots of blisters will do! It was well worth it. I'm thinking about planting some kind of a mounding ground cover with some color underneath the tree out front, if I can work around the roots...any ideas?

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Work Hard, Play Hard

My precious nephew, Parker, celebrated his 4th birthday at Chuck E Cheese's with lots of his friends from school on Saturday. And, I now know why my mom steered my sister and I away from that place! I'm kidding, kind of. My mom always threw us amazing and creative birthday parties...but they were at home, or at least somewhere moderately lowkey. My sister-in-law said that Parker saw the Chuck E Cheese commercial on TV and said, "My party! That's where I want my party!" Chuck E Cheese has it all figured out with those commericals. (I'm pretty sure they didn't advertise like that when I was young, or either my mom flipped the channel really fast. Mom????) Anyway, the birthday boy or girl gets an inflatable crown, extra tickets to get chotsky presents and even gets to stand in this cage thing where fake money blows all around. That would sell any kid!! They really did a great job and it was the perfect spot for all these high energy 3 and 4 year olds. Parker had quite the turnout.

Parker's enormous Scooby Doo cake
I so wish I had planned ahead and asked my best friend, Linsey to make some sugar cookies for Parker's favors. She is incredibly talented, and I am incredibly last-minute! Next year.

Parker was sticking his finger in the frosting when he thought no one was looking. He is definitely a Van!

See how excited Josh is to be there? Seriously, Josh and his brother were like kids in a candy shop at this place. It was hilarious and very entertaining.


The birthday boy cheesing on the carousel

Parker's pretty cousin, Gracie

Parker with Chuck E...not sure what to think. Oh, the birthday kid gets a medal too!

There is a lot going on here...
We were exhausted after two hours at Chuck E Cheese, I mean totally and completely beat. Lots of stimulation and excited (loud) kids!

After playing hard at Chuck E Cheese, I scooted downtown for an event. We brought in two banquette lounge groupings with dramatic floral arrangement toppers for an evening networking reception for a large corporation. Each lounge grouping was four-sided with a little ottoman on each side for a votive candle and cocktails. Turned out very cute!


The blue throw pillows coordinated with the company's logo

And that was my work hard, play hard kind of Saturday!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Feeling Lucky?

On Tuesday night, we put a casino party together for a group of about 250 guests, all ready to gamble with "Monopoly" money and dance the night away. The chosen venue was 200 Peachtree...a beautiful, newly remodeled space in downtown Atlanta at non other than...200 Peachtree Street, of course. 200 Peachtree was first built in 1927 as a Davison's department store. It was converted to a Macy's in the'll hear Atlantans refer to it as the "Old Macy's Building." We are all thrilled to see it restored and enjoyed like so many areas in Downtown now. 

Great spot for a casino! The space is so elegant that it really reminded me of being in a Las Vegas casino. And with room in the budget for some decor, this could be a really jaw-dropping event.

The hotel team designed a four-sided bar in the middle of the venue. Great focal point in the room. A central bar also makes the space feel more intimate and social, rather than banquet-y and stuffy. Easy and effective design tip!

Don't the chandeliers add everything?

Here is a close-up. I covet these!

We used clean and sleek casino tables - none of that skirting that velcros on and off and is a pain to make even...I'm over that! We used a combination of blackjack and Texas Hold'em tables, with Craps and roulette thrown in there. Dealers dressed in tuxedos facilitate the gambling. A request for air hockey tables was also made...hey, it works!

Now this is a pretty table! Entertainment and decor all in one.

Don't worry, we moved that blue blanket underneath the air hockey table (in above picture) prior to the start of the event...what an eyesore. I'm always a mad lady snapping pictures during the last few minutes of set up and sometimes the pictures don't show the final, final product!

One of the last casino parties that I did (back in February) had a grand prize of a shiny, new Mercedes E-class...quite the reward, I'd say!