Friday, August 29

Apple Pecan Chicken Salad with Pomegranate Vinaigrette

Even though here, in my part of the country, it's still very much Texas-Hot, we are nevertheless planning for Fall. Looking forward to when the weather turns it down a notch and brings us a handful of really crisp days. I am so ready. To start

Wednesday, August 27


Not often do I come across a recipe that is this enticing. However when I do, I know it's a recipe that I will keep forever and continue to prepare for years to come. So don't immediately turn away from the 21 ingredients in this lasagna

Tuesday, August 26

The Many Uses Of Epsom Salt

Did you think that Epsom Salt was only good for sprains? My grandparents were huge fans of Epsom salt — they used it for everything! People of their generation knew the many health benefits that Epsom salt provided and I’ve recently

Sunday, August 24

Weekly Reflections — August 23, 2014

It's been a few weeks since I shared what's been going on in the Porter household. I have been crazy busy getting child number two back to college. Now that the dust has settled, Mr.P and I are back to our regular schedule. So for a quick update, here we go.

Friday, August 22

Brownie Parfait Shooters

What do you do when you have left-over brownies, and a can of Reddi-Wip? Make Brownie Parfaits of course! After indulging in Brownie Sundaes a month ago, I had a half pan of Homemade Brownies left. Instead of eating them then, I wrapped them up and popped them into the freezer. Last week, before E left for college, I decided to make these cute Brownie Parfait Shooters with things I had on hand. Which just happened to be brownies from the freezer, along with Hot Chocolate Pudding, Reddi-Wip and raspberries from the fridge.

Thursday, August 21

There's More To Life Than Chores!

Summer is coming to a close. For many, summers end may mean one last vacation, shopping for new fall clothes, saying good-bye to long-time friends, saying hello to crisp weather, visiting the state fair, football season! and school starting for many. For me, however, the end of summer brings chores. Yes, E has headed back to college and now Mom is on deck. All of the things she helped me do during the summer are now left for me to accomplish. I'm not going to lie, I really hate doing chores! For the first time in months, I had to empty the dishwasher yesterday, one of my least favorite chores. 

Cruising the web last week I came across an article on the subject of 'chores you can get done during a television commercial break'. Well, this had obviously been written for me. As I was reading this well thought out article, I started to think of the ten things I could accomplish in the span of a short commercial break. They are as follows:

1. Unload the Dishwasher, let's get it over with!
I guess if it has to be done, then I'd rather get it done FAST! I tried it yesterday, if I work fast, I can empty the dishwasher during a commercial break. YAY!

2. Loading the Dishwasher.
Make quick work of loading the dishwasher, but be sure you do it properly so that your dishes come out nice and clean. Scrape off the large food particles, rinse them if you like. Largest plates and dishes on the bottom, smaller dishes and glasses on top, add the dishwashing detergent, turn it on and you're done!

3. Dust a Room.
Yes, I can dust a room within the time restraints of a commercial break. Remember, small house, less furniture. And, I'm not talking about the whole house, just one room at a time. I like to use either Pledge wipes or Pledge spray, it really does keep dusting down to a minimum.

4. Swiffer a Floor!
I ask you, what did we do before Swiffers? I love my Swiffer and the quick work it makes of cleaning the hardwood and tile floors in my house. I can clean the floors quickly, and more importantly FULLY, without even breaking a sweat. Now that's my kind of cleaning!

5. Clean the Toilets.
We only have two bathrooms, I can so do this quickly. You can too with the right tools. Here is what I do: flush the toilet to wet the sides of the bowl, apply liquid toilet cleaner/disinfectant under the rim of the bowl - run to the next bathroom and do the same, then go back to the first toilet you applied cleaner to and using a scrubbing brush clean the bowl, flush the toilet to rinse and wipe down the rim and outer edge of the bowl with a Clorox wet wipe. Go back to second bathroom and finish up. Voila, two clean potties!

6. Work on the Laundry.
Well this is a no-brainer. If you work on your laundry a couple of times a week, you can keep dirty clothes to a minimum. During your commercial break you can either sort your laundry into piles, put a load of dirty laundry into the wash or clean ones into the dryer. It you get one of those nice long commercial breaks - like at the half hour - you can even take the time to fold a load of laundry! By the end of the evening you can be finished with your dirty laundry or at the very least put a huge dent into the piles in the laundry room!

7. Vacuum a Room.
You can lightly vacuum a room or two during a break. Or better yet, why not tackle the sofa?? Give the cushions a toss and vacuum your sofa well. If you leave your vacuum plugged in you can vacuum most of your house by the evenings end. How great is that?

8. Sort through your Magazines and Coffee Table Books.
Flip through the magazines and newspapers you’ve already read, pulling out any articles, recipes or photo inspiration you'd like to keep, then recycle them or put them in the donation bin (art teachers love to have them for class projects). Neaten the still-need-to-read pile. Flip through your coffee table books. If one of them has been displayed for awhile, switch it out. I like to rotate mine frequently, or depending on the season, so I can revisit my favorite books. They tend to inspire me all over again.

9. Clean out the Fridge.
I’m not talking super-duper refrigerator clean-out. I’m talking about tossing stuff that’s rotten or expired. Wipe down the shelves, again I like to use my Clorox wipes here, and wash out any recyclable containers, adding to your compost bin if you have one and throw out what you need to. 

10. Take out the Trash.
Gather up the trash, bag it and take it out. Throw all of the bags into a designated trash container, preferably metal - we have raccoons that like to dig! While you’re at it, gather up those recyclables, including the magazines you just realized you’re done with, and take them to the bin as well. Make sure to place a new plastic trash liner in your trash can. 

And you're done. Do as little or as much in any one given evening and enjoy that clean house! Just keep in mind, if I only cleaned my house once a month, I would not be able to dust a room or vacuum during a commercial break. Things would need more attention than I could give them in 5 or so minutes. But if you lightly dust once or twice a week, then it's easy to do. Keeping my list of chores down - and I like that!

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Tuesday, August 19

Confessions of A College Student's Mom: Parting Advice For E

We have survived the Summer, Mr.P and I. All of the piles of dirty laundry, empty glasses, and late LATE nights! They all embody a few of the struggles we've faced adjusting to our young adult's feeling of independence, after having lived on her own. After her first year of college, there were a plethora of glasses left around the house, dishes in the sink and mountains of dirty laundry dropped at the door to the laundry room, along with music or the television playing well into the twilight hours. E loves to write with noise in the background. Ordinarily this would not bother me, but I'm less enthused about hearing it at 2 a.m.. This summer our home resembled a diner in the middle of NYC's Time Square! Something was always hoppin', 24/7!

Yes, we've survived and she is now back at school. But not the same school. Leaving the big university life behind, E has chosen to attend a more intimate private college. While she has already had to experience life away from home, the stress of separations (from family and friends, but let's be honest ― mainly her boyfriend, Mr.B), classes, making new friends  E is walking that same path again this year. And I'll confess, it can be scary for Mom as well. Some things are out of our hands as parents. However, you can at least give some good solid advice. If your child resists, just tell them you got these tips from a recent college grad!
  • Talk to your adviser. You’ll be amazed at how much he or she can help you during your years at school, whether it’s getting you into a popular class or helping you graduate on time. On the flip-side, make sure NOT to let them railroad you into a class you don't need or want to take. Open communication is key.
  • Participate in activities on your floor and on campus. These events are particularly geared towards freshman and planned for a reason. They create a social setting where making friends is effortless.
  • Get involved in activities or clubs that appeal to you. If you like sports, try intramural athletics. You may have a knack for writing and want to work for your school newspaper. If you like theater, don’t hesitate to audition for a play. This is something E is trying this year that she did not do last year. I really think being involved in a group activity with like minded students will help alleviate some of her 'study' stress.
  • Lock your dorm room and car. Unfortunately, there are those that might steal. It's better to keep things locked up.
  • Stay with friends, don't go off alone. Whether you’re at a party or running to the ATM or store, take someone with you. Keep an eye out for your friends and vice versa.
  • Treat school like a job. Build a good work ethic and don't procrastinate on your workload. Whatever you are tasked with - DO IT WELL. Hard work is not always fun, but you can choose to be happy doing it!
  • Take time to experience new things. Life experience can sometimes be just as important as your formal education. It will make you a more well rounded person and more able to handle different types of life challenges. Some potential employers will be looking at this part of your life.
  • And finally, call your parents. You may be having the time of your life, but it’s nice to let them know that you’re alive and enjoying your time at school.  

Chase your own dreams, walk your own journey, dictate your own worth, live to regret the things you did  not the things you let pass by. Don't sit back waiting for things to happen ― make them happen yourself and most importantly, have fun. College comes around only once in a lifetime  don't miss a thing. Know that we love you E, and are standing behind you in support. Tight hugs and much love, Mom & Dad.

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“Ever has it been that love knows not its own depth until the hour of separation.” 
― Khalil Gibran

Monday, August 18

Classic Diners of New York City

New York has more than its fair share of fine dining establishments, and many delis to be sure, but sometimes nothing heals the soul better than the cheap sandwiches, fries, omelets and around-the-clock banana pancakes served up at a classic NYC greasy spoon. Of course, diners are more than just 24-hour griddle factories; the best ones double as a fading oasis of simple 1950s ambiance — one that's being drowned out by chain sub shops and vegan burger bistros. After spending $40.00 on burgers and fries on our first trip to New York City, 21 years ago, Mr. P and I decided to seek out and find a few homey diners. Places we felt at ease, comfortable in our jeans and to enjoy good food without breaking the bank. Luckily, New York City has got many classic diners to choose from — here are ten of the city's best.

ODESSA: For a plate of cheap pierogi, this East Village eatery is a prime 1 a.m. dining experience. It seems unjust to plug anything other than the dough-ey balls of potato and cheese wonder they serve at all hours—try the sweet potato, meat, cheese, mushroom or spinach for $6.50, a combination of any for $7—but they've also got buttery omelets and melt-in-your-mouth challah french toast sure to satisfy any late-night craving.
Odessa is located at 119 Avenue A at 11th Street in the East Village (212-253-1470).

WAVERLY RESTAURANT: Waverly's been a Greenwich Village staple since the '70s, and although a major renovation in 2011 stripped it of some of its rundown charm, the classic slick vinyl booths, yellowed ceiling lights and neon outdoor sign still remain. Waverly's food has never been mind-blowing, but it's still a fun throwback if you find yourself on Sixth Avenue looking for a tuna sandwich and side of fries at an odd hour. Stick with their classic and double-decker sandwiches or a basic omelet with hash-browns, and be sure to take advantage of that bottomless $1.50 coffee, day or night.
Waverly is located at 385 Sixth Avenue at Waverly Place in Greenwich Village (212-675-3181).

TOM'S: This little Christmas light-filled eatery located right on the edge of the Prospect/Crown Heights isn't the place for eating curly fries at 3 a.m. The decor and menu are a little more refined than those of its greasy-spooned peers, and it's only open through the early afternoon. But Tom's has earned its reputation as the neighborhood's go-to breakfast spot, serving up fluffy pancakes, creamy milkshakes, eggs and other mouthwatering morning delicacies to hoards of hungry locals daily. Be forewarned: breakfast lines are loooong, especially on weekend mornings. But the food is worth the wait, plus Tom's' employees will feed you free coffee and snacks as you wait.
Tom's is located at 782 Washington Avenue between Sterling and Lincoln Place in Prospect Heights/Crown Heights in Brooklyn (718-636-9738).

VIAND CAFE: The Upper East Side Viand outpost is a neighborhood favorite, and though it's a little ritzier than some of the late-night pancake and corned beef dives in NYC, it's a clean, comfortable little spot to grab a quick turkey sandwich and some waffle fries. They serve fancier daily specials like Pollo Francese ($19) and veal sorentina ($21), but it's best to stick with the basics.
Viand is located at 1011 Madison Ave between 78th and 79th Street on the Upper East Side (212-249-8250).
NEPTUNE DINER: Queens is the motherland for good Greek diners, and Neptune is one of the best of the bunch. The Astoria eatery has all the classic diner fixings like a menu that covers all the basics, display cases filled with cakes and pies and old-school clientele. They serve all the usual diner goods, but they do Greek food best. Try a chicken or lamb gyro for $6 or spring for a big $10 gyro platter with fries.
Neptune Diner is located at 31-05 Astoria Boulevard in Astoria, Queens (718-278-4853).

MARKET DINER: For the Hells Kitchen neighborhood, this midtown diner serves eggs, hash browns and other diner fare around the clock. Market Diner boasts speedy service and engaging, wise-cracking waiters, along with massive hamburgers, fluffy stuffed french toast and no lines to get seated. It's a refuge for neighborhood folks looking for a late-night meal or Midtown office workers who are looking for a quick lunch.
Market Diner is located at 572 11th Avenue between 43rd and 44th Street in Hells Kitchen (212-244-2888).
SQUARE DINER: The triangle-shaped Square Diner, yes, is an oasis amongst the luxury high-rises and newer restaurants of TriBeCa. The burgers are fantastic, their corn beef hash is delectable, the portions are plentiful, and the service is friendlier than you'd expect. For a moment, you could imagine you were somewhere near Hyde Park, and not down the block from the Holland Tunnel.
Square Diner is located at 33 Leonard Street between Hudson and Varick Street in Tribeca (212-925-7188).

TOM'S RESTAURANT: To be honest, Tom's Restaurant is not the best diner in the city. But Tom's has two or three things going for it over every other establishment on this list. They have the BEST thick and creamy milkshakes of any diner in the city. Tom's has been around since the 1940's—which means it's one of the longest running family-owned diners still around. And most importantly, Tom's is Monk's Cafe from Seinfeld. Every New Yorker or visitor owes it to themselves to visit it at least once just to see the hallowed portrait of Kramer.
Tom's Restaurant is located at 2880 Broadway at West 112th Street on the Upper West Side (212-864-6137).

PARK PLAZA: Park Plaza is like the diner you'd find in suburbia. The Brooklyn Heights establishment is family-owned and operated, and just survived a recent fire. They serve up a huge array of food, 24 hours a day, which you can get delivered, but then you'd miss out on the diner experience. They've got the classic diner bar chairs where you can order up a cup of coffee and a slice of pie. If you like your grilled cheese buttered perfectly, and a cheap side of crispy onion rings to go with it, then this is your place. But they've also got seven pages of other items, from soups and salads to grilled chicken to breakfast all day long.
Park Plaza is located at 220 Cadman Plaza West in Brooklyn Heights, Brooklyn (718-596-5900).
El Greco Diner: This Sheepshead Bay's establishment has mastered the art of going big. Everything from the menus to the portions to the layout of the restaurant is gigantic, and the prices aren't exactly tiny either. It's not a fancy place, but it's no greasy spoon. El Greco serves a seemingly infinite variety of wraps, deli sandwiches, deluxe sandwiches (try the Fried Jumbo Shrimp sandwich), as well as the traditional diner fare, including about a million salads, pastas, Mediterranean specialties and fresh seafood. Seriously, the menu is insane. The locals, mostly Russian, love it for its variety and reliability, but visitors have become fond of it for its ample outdoor seating—pleasantly situated by the water—and its ideal summertime location.  
El Greco is located at 1821 Emmons Avenue, Brooklyn. (718-934-1288).

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The details in this post were accurate when published. Check the links provided above.

Friday, August 15

The Perfect Lemon Meringue Pie

   Today is Lemon Meringue Pie Day! Redeem all of your past lemon meringue disasters. Here's how to make one that works. FOOD52 has the easiest and best recipe for this favorite Southern dessert!

Lemon Meringue Pie

As Mr.P and I spend the weekend moving our last child back to college I share with you the ONLY meringue pie I have ever successfully made. Follow FOOD52's instructions completely and you too can conquer the mystique that is meringue!

Lemon Meringue Pie

Lemon meringue pie is the kind of classic recipe that is easy to get very wrong: The filling can be overly sweet, gloppy, and impossible to slice, and the meringue on top can weep and slide right off of the filling, which makes for a very sad slice indeed. But do not fear! This recipe avoids all of that mess with a zingy lemon filling, which you know I love, that is set just enough to slice, topped with a billowy mound of sweet and caramelized meringue that will make you forget about all of your past lemon meringue disasters.

Here are a few tips for making a great lemon meringue pie at home:
1. Pre-bake the pie shell so it is golden brown and crisp; soggy crusts are not welcome here. 
2. Make sure that the filling is cooked gently and slowly to avoid curdling, but also make sure to adhere to the cooking times to ensure that it will set firmly enough that you're able to slice it. 
3. Before adding the meringue, cover the filled pie with parchment paper, making sure that it touches the lemon filling. Remove the paper once you're ready to top the pie; the meringue will bond together with the rough surface of the filling as the pie cools, which will keep the meringue from sliding off when you go to slice it. Good to know!
4. Make sure the pie has cooled completely before you slice it; otherwise, you will have a mess on your hands. 

Lemon Meringue Pie
Lemon Meringue Pie
Makes one 9-inch pie
Print Friendly and PDF
  • 1 pre-baked 9-inch pie shell
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 egg yolks (reserve the whites for the meringue)
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 4 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 5 egg whites
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • In a medium saucepan combine your cornstarch, water, lemon juice, sugar, and salt. Whisk until no lumps remain in the cornstarch, then bring the mixture to a boil, stirring frequently. Continue to cook while stirring constantly for additional 2 minutes. The mixture will be clear and very thick.
  • Beat the egg yolks together in a medium bowl, then slowly whisk the cornstarch mixture into the egg yolks, stirring constantly. Temper them so as NOT to curdle the egg yolks. Return the mixture to the saucepan and cook over low heat -- still stirring -- for 1 more minute. Be careful not to let the mixture boil.
  • Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the butter and lemon zest. Pour the filling into the prepared pie shell and cover the filling with a piece of parchment or waxed paper. This will help the meringue and filling adhere later. Set it in the refrigerator while you prepare the meringue.
  • Whisk the egg whites and sugar together in the bowl of a stand mixer. Place the bowl of the stand mixer over a double boiler and cook, stirring occasionally, until the egg whites are very warm to the touch and the sugar has dissolved.
  • Preheat the broiler. While the broiler is heating, whip the egg whites on medium high until stiff peaks form. Add in the salt and vanilla extract.
  • Remove the parchment paper from the pie filling, then carefully spread the meringue on top of the lemon filling. Make sure to spread the meringue all the way out to the crust.
  • Carefully slide the pie under the broiler and cook for 20 to 60 seconds, or until the meringue is golden brown with some deeply caramelized spots. 
  • Remove the pie from the oven and cool completely in the refrigerator before slicing and serving. This pie is best served the day that it is made.

Lemon Meringue Pie

Beat the egg yolks together in a medium bowl, then slowly whisk the cornstarch mixture into the egg yolks, stirring constantly. Return the mixture to the saucepan and cook over low heat -- still stirring -- for 60 more seconds. Be careful not to let the mixture boil.

Lemon Meringue Pie  Lemon Meringue Pie

Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the butter and lemon zest. Pour the filling into the prepared pie shell and cover the filling with a piece of parchment or waxed paper. This will help the meringue and filling adhere later. Set it in the refrigerator while you prepare the meringue. 

Lemon Meringue Pie

Whisk the egg whites and sugar together in the bowl of a stand mixer. Place the bowl of the stand mixer over a double boiler and cook, stirring occasionally, until the egg whites are very warm to the touch and the sugar has dissolved.
Preheat the broiler. While the broiler is heating, whip the egg whites on medium high until stiff peaks form. Add in the salt and vanilla extract.

Lemon Meringue Pie

Remove the parchment paper from the pie filling, then carefully spread the meringue on top of the lemon filling in a decorative pattern. Make sure to spread the meringue all the way out to the crust.

Lemon Meringue Pie

Carefully slide the pie under the broiler and cook for 20 to 60 seconds, or until the meringue is golden brown with some deeply caramelized spots. 

Lemon Meringue Pie

Remove the pie from the oven and cool completely in the refrigerator before slicing and serving. This pie is best served the day that it is made.

Lemon Meringue Pie


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Wednesday, August 13

Finding Yourself Displaced In The Newburn-Rawlinson House

I have been on the phone quite literally ALL DAY! The new housing that E is moving into for the Fall semester of her sophomore year at college will not be ready when we move her in on Saturday. Oh joy. She, along with 23 other young ladies, will be living temporarily (hopefully no more than a month) in a house that was built in 1902. The gentleman, Rev. J.M. Newburn, that built this fine house was born in 1868. A long long time ago! The house served as a hospital during 1928 - which creeps Elizabeth out, she's seen one too many horror movies. And she just now asked me if it had closets and indoor plumbing. Yes indeed it does have indoor plumbing Elizabeth. And even though the house was totally renovated a few years back there are no closets. Consequently we will only be taking the bare necessities this weekend and waiting until the new house is ready to move in all of her additional gear. Here's a bit of history on the stately Newburn-Rawlinson House, a now protected Texas Historical Landmark.

The Newburn-Rawlinson House was built by the Rev. John Madison Newburn (1868-1926), a native of Mississippi, who came to Jacksonville from Neches, Texas in the winter of 1896 to assume the pastorate of the First Baptist Church. He and his wife, Lula, purchased property on this site in 1901 from F. A. Fuller and R. B. Longmire. Built in 1902, this house is a late example of a Victorian residence with transitional classical revival elements, including a two-story balustrade porch and four ornamental gables. 

The Newburn family formed close ties with Jacksonville College and other family and friends in the community.When housing facilities were limited at the college, the Newburn home served as a dormitory. In 1928, after a fire destroyed the small Newburn Hospital owned and operated by J. M. Newburn's brother, C. L. Newburn, M.D., Lula Newburn offered her home to serve as a temporary hospital until a new facility was erected five months later. The home was owned and occupied by Newburn heirs until it was purchased by Dallas and Thelma Rawlinson in 1945. In later years, the home served as a day care facility for area children. The house was returned to the friends of its first owners in 1994 when it was sold to Jacksonville College. It was recorded as a Texas Historic Landmark in 1998 and underwent a total renovation in the mid 2000s. The remodeling of the Newburn-Rawlinson House was important to the college because it is the second oldest house in Jacksonville behind the W. A. Brown Home.

The Newburn-Rawlinson House, an impressive home, sits on a hill that overlooks the campus from the North. It is the oldest building on campus, and often is used for special events. The facility now houses the Jacksonville College Alumni offices, the Resource Development Director and this Fall an additional 24 young ladies. I can see my E sitting on the front porch swing of this turn-of-the-century home; iPhone in one hand, laptop in the other and hopefully doing homework! It will be a brief adventure, even though inconvenient, I know she will always cherish the memories of living in this grand old home. 

Here are a few photos from inside the house. It was decorated for Christmas at the time of this photo shoot. There are some lovely furnishings......I hope everything is nailed down. 

A nice traditional dining room where the girls can eat, study and share late night visits.

A cozy kitchen....

Part of the living area.

Bedrooms with old charm.

Ester Turner and Ruth Bearden did a wonderful job decorating the house for Christmas. 

The white wicker furniture on the second floor balcony is so very quaint. 

I suppose, if one must be displaced, this is the ideal location in which to find your bearings!
Happy memory making girls!!

Photos courtesy Jacksonville Progress

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