Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Mississippi Sin Dip

We first tasted this dip at a wedding when we were dating (I can't remember whose wedding it was!). Obviously, we loved it (it's so good, ya'll). When we got married, we had it at our reception, too. So we have a long history with this dip!

This Halloween, we went to a themed party at my friend Danielle's house, so I made Mississippi Sin Dip and Spicy Crackers. It was a hit! There are different variations of this dip, but they have the same basic ingredients. I combined the recipe in Bully's Best Bites (in there they call it Mississippi State Sin Dip - title in maroon!) with one I found on

Mississippi Sin Dip

Pic from my iPhone :) - sad compared to the other 2

  • 1 loaf of crusty French bread
  • 1 1/2 cups sour cream
  • 2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 1 clove crushed garlic
  • 1/3 cup chopped green onions
  • 1/2 cup cooked diced ham (I just bought one thick slice from the deli counter)
  • 1/3 cup chopped green chiles
  • Dash of Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, chopped (I think I took out the seeds when I made it, but include them if you want it to be spicy!)
1. Combine all ingredients except bread (I mixed mine up using my stand mixer).
2. Hollow out bread (save the pieces you take out to use as dippers later).
3. Put dip in bread bowl and wrap in foil.
4. Bake at 350 for 1 hour. Serve with bread, crackers, or chips.

NOTE: Instead of baking mine in bread, I baked it in a glass dish. It works either way! Also, I made mine ahead of time and refrigerated it until I was ready to bake it, and it turned out great!

Well, that's all for now! I'm still working on a Christmas post. We're having some friends over for dinner tomorrow night, so I'll have table setting pictures to share :)

Love from Houston,
L & J

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Texas Renaissance Festival

Halloween weekend, we visited the Texas Renaissance Festival (Ren Fest for short). I got free tickets from work, so we figured it was worth going! I've always been intrigued by Renaissance festivals. Not that I ever wanted to go and dress up or anything, but they are interesting! This one is very big!! There was lots to see. They have shows (singers, dancers, comedians, etc.) and lots of food and games. Oh, and they have artisans you can go watch - you can see glass blowers, paper makers, blacksmiths, etc. The place it was held basically looks like a huge Old Timey village.

And the people watching. Oh, my. There were lots of interesting people there. This was really the best part for us.

Anyway, we had a fun time with our friends Kirby and Christine and we look forward to going back next year!

Wanna get married at Ren Fest? No problem - here's your chapel.

Us in the German section (it was laid out by country-each area had somewhat country-specific food)

The pickle cart. Yeah, I don't get it either. They were yelling and running.

Us with a suit of armor outside one of the restaurants

Belly dancing

We advised them to enter the costume contest. They did not. We know because we were there. Highlight of the costume contest - the group dressed up as the Space Balls crew. It was awesome! I wish I had a pic to share.


Kirby at the archery booth

Showing Christine the ropes.

You can pretty much tell where her arrow is headed from this pic.. haha.

Kirby let me try too!

Scary fox person

Birds of Prey show

Elephant rides!


Me with Lan before one of the shows

My favorite show - FIRE WHIP. This guy was really funny.

That's right. Zelda Ocarinas for sale. There was a guy right beside this display playing one. Buy one and you get the music from the game. Haha. My brothers, dad & I all played Zelda Ocarina of Time on N64, so this was a blast from the past!

After this post, I'm caught up activity-wise. I still have lots of recipes to share, though! And Christmas pics! YAY!

Love from Houston,
L & J

A Night Downtown

Our real anniversary was back in July, but since it was our first anniversary, and we think that's pretty important, we wanted to take a small trip to celebrate. Nothing huge, just a fun night downtown. Since our anniversary fell around the time we were buying the house, we decided it would be better to wait to take our special trip - so we took it in October!

Lan, being the awesome husband he is, planned a visit to the King Tut exhibit at the Museum of Fine Art during our trip. He was less than interested in the exhibit, but I was really excited about it. I have a weird interest in Egyptology, and some of the items in the exhibit had never been to the US before!!! I was bummed when I found out that the actual King Tut and his iconic burial mask would not be part of the exhibit. They are too "old" and "fragile" to travel or something. LAME. But the exhibit was still awesome, by my standards. Lan even enjoyed himself a little.

We stayed at Hotel ZaZa. It's in the boutique hotels of the world top ten list, and in the top 20 hotels in Houston (out of 425 on Trip Advisor). It was very trendy and chic. It was a really fun place to stay. It was one of those places with a stacked mini-bar but the cheapest candy bar available was, like, $5 or something ridiculous. We were very careful not to eat those! Hotel ZaZa is right next door to the museum, so they had a special partnership with them - get VIP tickets to the exhibit and a special deal on a room through the King Tut Package. So we did that. Lan got a great deal on a suite, which was awesome. You could rent movies through the hotel's movie service through the TV, which was cool, but really pricey. They even had movies that weren't out on video yet! I thought that was neat, but those movies cost what you would pay for two movie tickets to see them in theaters.

For dinner that night, we ate at a Brazilian Steakhouse we had a Living Social coupon for. Lan had been to a Brazilian Steakhouse before and LOVED it. It's a very manly place. You pay an all-you-can-eat price and get an unlimited selection of meats. They have hot sides and a yummy salad bar, and your waitstaff comes around with different meat selections for you to try - lamb (actually, this was my favorite), bacon wrapped filet, various types of steak, sausage, chicken, etc. They also served fried bananas and grilled pineapple - YUM. It was very good. We always said we didn't think it was worth the money for me to go (and pay full price... all I can eat is not all that much), and we were right. Lan said he didn't think I would like it any more than other fancy restaurant, and he was right. I enjoyed it, but for the money, I'd rather go to the Melting Pot or a nice steakhouse.

Pictures of the Hotel Lobby:

They had these posters up all over the hotel - notice the quote at the top from Steve Martin's SNL King Tut song, haha.

Pictures from our suite:

Mirrored dining room table and chandelier - fancy!

LOVED that mirror (ya'll know how I feel about mirrors in decorative frames...)

Living Room area (with Lan lounging in the background)

That doorway leads to the bathroom and bedroom

I just thought this was a cool piece of furniture...

The bathroom

TV in the bedroom

King-sized bed. What a treat!

Me with the statue of Anubis outside of the museum.

All in all, it was an awesome weekend! We had so much fun :)

I have a lot of blog catching up to do!!! I have lots of recipes and pictures I want to share, so expect lots of updates soon.

Lots of love from Houston,

L and J

Friday, November 4, 2011

Sweet Treats - Chocolate Chip Cookies

This recipe is the New York Time's favorite Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe (or that's what the pin said anyway). I found it through Pinterest/Tender Crumb. Seriously. How can you resist a recipe like this??

Well, let me tell you. The ingredients are a little daunting because it calls for two types of flour - bread and pastry. Bread flour was easy enough to find, but I couldn't find pastry flour! Through some internet research, I found an acceptable substitute - 3 parts cake flour to 1 part all purpose flour. The poster from Tender Crumb encouraged not to do this, so if you can find pasty flour, go for it! But I think it's kind of a specialty item.

Also, Tender Crumb encourages you to buy the chocolate bars (not like Hershey's - the ones from the baking aisle) and chop your own chocolate. I know that would have been better, but they were really expensive, so I went for the chocolate chips (bittersweet, always, not milk).

These were SO GOOD. I made a batch and then refrigerated the leftover dough and we ate off it for several days. Lan told me I'm not allowed to go back to my old chocolate chip cookie, so it must be good, right?

My Picture

I felt the need to include this one because it looks way yummier than mine! (See how they used the chopped chocolate instead of chips? Yum!)

Jacques Torres' Secret Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe
Makes twenty-six 5-inch cookies or 8 1/2 dozen 1 1/4-inch cookies (that's a lot, so I reduced the recipe by half, I think)

1 pound unsalted butter
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
2 1/4 cups packed light-brown sugar
4 large eggs
3 cups plus 2 tablespoons pastry flour (3 parts cake flour to 1 part all purpose flour)
3 cups bread flour
1 tablespoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 pounds bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (I used chips)

- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or nonstick baking mats; set aside.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugars.
- Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.
- Reduce speed to low and add both flours, baking powder, baking soda, vanilla, and chocolate; mix until well combined.
- Using a 4-ounce scoop for larger cookies or a 1-ounce scoop for smaller cookies, scoop cookie dough onto prepared baking sheets, about 2 inches apart.
- Bake until lightly browned, but still soft, about 20 minutes for larger cookies and about 15 minutes for smaller cookies.
- Cool slightly on baking sheets before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

You MUST try these! They are yummy.

Enjoy! :)

Love from Houston,
L and J