My Recipes: Fettuccine Alfredo with Shrimp and Tomatoes

I love pasta. And I thoroughly enjoy adding things to regular ol' recipes to make them more exciting. So without further ado, here is a recent compilation of tasty accoutrements to a timeless dish.

One package spinach fettuccine noodles
Can of artichoke hearts (halved, whole, it doesn't matter!)
1 pint of cherry or baby tomatoes, halved
Frozen shrimp (I use half a bag, about 25-30 shrimp), thawed under running water
1 jar Alfredo sauce
Extra virgin olive oil

Take a small to medium sized skillet and heat 1-2 tablespoons of the oil over med-high heat. Add your tomatoes and cook until they begin to soften and some of the edges brown just a bit, stirring constantly. While they're on the stove top, bring a pot of salted water to a boil then add pasta. Cook for 6-8 minutes until al dente. Drain in colander and spray with cold water to keep pasta from sticking together.

Next, add the shrimp and artichokes to the cooked tomatoes (lower heat a bit of tomatoes are getting too done). Pour in a teeny splash of olive oil if pan is getting dry, but artichoke juices should help. Season heartily with salt and pepper, and stir frequently to cook the mixture until shrimp is opaque / white.

Add pasta back to large pot over medium heat, and pour in Alfredo sauce. Stir in shrimp mixture and combine well with pasta and sauce. Heat through then serve!


Holiday Cards & 50 Free Greetings!

With Christmas tiptoeing around the corner, now is the time to get your holiday cards in order! With all the wonderful ways to personalize, customize and strategize your personal festive greeting, hop on over to Shutterfly and take a gander at the beautiful Christmas cards they have in stock.

These are some of my favorite designs:

Shutterfly also has some great gift ideas like...

(I love these, and plan to have some made from Scotland photos)

...and adorable thank you cards, of which you can never have too many.

Want your chance to snag 50 free holiday cards of your own? Visit this link and fill out the Shutterfly form to receive instructions on creating a blog post like I did in order to receive the offer.

It's the season of giving and getting!

I hear sleigh bells...

It's not too early to get in the Christmas spirit, is it? I've already posted about holiday decorations, I just ordered our Christmas cards yesterday and now I'm playing around in Photoshop creating montages with candy canes and holiday greetings. You'll notice my blog has also succumbed to a wee bit of a makeover.

I can't leave things the same for very long, I have this inherent need to constantly make something better or improved or prettier. You get the, ahem, picture. And since I've still no home of my own to decorate, well...  you're lookin' at it kid.

How are you getting in a holly jolly mood for the festive season? 


Christmas Inspiration

Seeing as Thanksgiving is officially over, it's now a free-for-all, uninhibited scramble as we fully submit ourselves to the Christmas holiday season. Any remnants of pumpkins, fall hues, leafy garlands and such are packed back into storage bins or chucked out in the garbage, and shiny baubles, greenery, candy canes and decorative Santas take their place.

I'm hoping with all my might that the husband and I have a house in time to put up our Christmas tree. This past week - aside from enjoying a fantastic Turkey Day with our families - has been a bit discouraging when it comes to news of the home we're closing on. I won't go into detail as we're still not wanting to jinx anything or share any news prematurely, but we're trying to remain optimistic and pray that it all ends very soon.

In that regard, however, I was in the mood for a few festive decorating ideas, from tablescapes to lacing one's bedroom with a little red and green.

{The Inspired Room}

{Willow House}

{The Lettered Cottage}

{Martha Stewart via Willow Decor}

{Home Decor Crunch}

{Pottery Barn via Home-Designing}

{She Knows}
{Country Living}

I encourage anyone reading this anywhere in the world to share your traditional festive decorative elements. How are you decorating this Christmas? Post descriptions or links to your images in the comments section! 


My Recipes: Mediterranean Wrap

Let it be known that I'm not a big fan of sandwiches, wraps, gyros or any other food medium encased in a bread enclosure. It's just never that exciting to me, so I usually opt for more interesting menus.

But, I didn't say I never eat them.

Anytime I might have the odd hankering for a traditional lunchtime meal (aka a sandwich or wrap), I like to make it mine - which means adding all sorts of heavenly ingredients. It's blasphemy to simply slap a piece of lunch meat and some mustard or mayo on some carbs and call it a day. Where's the fun in that?

Hence today's recipe post (and lengthy introduction). My Mediterranean Wrap is a great way to revamp your boring noon-hour meal, as well as use some of that leftover Thanksgiving turkey or ham in your fridge!

Whole wheat tortilla (or any other variety)
Feta cheese
Hummus (any flavor)
Red onion, chopped
Olives and garlic (optional)
Turkey, ham or chicken
Fresh lettuce
Salt & pepper to taste

The key to a successful wrap is this: the fresher the ingredients, the better. Flavor is good, too. 
I like mine on the spicier side, so I use peperocinis for a bit of bite...

...health-conscious reduced fat feta and zesty jalapeno hummus...

...and fresh marinated olives, red peppers and a garlic cloves from my local grocer's anti-pasta selection.

Slather your tortilla with some hummus, and lay on the red onion...

...then toss on your anti-pasta items and meat of choice. (Yes, I enjoy whole cloves of garlic.)

***NOTE: Do not use raw garlic! Your eyes will water for days and it's hard on your digestive system. 
Marinated garlic is fine, tasty to eat and will be kind to your stomach. :)

Finally, add your lettuce, feta and salt and pepper.

Roll up and enjoy your non-traditional, absolutely delicious bite of wrap!


Football Highlights

It's not fall without football and it's not football without a little tailgating action, good friends and lots of cheering.

The regal Sam Houston statue on the outskirts of Huntsville.

The husband and I hoofed it on down to Huntsville, TX to catch my alma mater Texas State University vs. Sam Houston State University. We started out with some cold beer, chips, queso, guacamole and fajitas in the parking lot (hence the aforementioned tailgating reference) before finding our places in the stands.

Front row: Me, Lisa and Karri - all TX STATE alum.
Back row: Lisa's mom, Rhonda, and her friend, Carol.

We had fun cheering on our Bobcats!

The husband and I. He's an Aggie and didn't own a thing of maroon without A&M on it!

Tough loss!

It ended up being a close game, we missed the win by two points but it was fun to be there cheering on our team and reliving those carefree college days. Afterward, Mike and I drove back to Houston in time to watch the Aggies dominate Nebraska in a major win for them! 

Football season? Bring it on.


Happy Turkey Day!

Hey ya bunch of turkeys... happy Thanksgiving!

In the spirit of the holiday that is all about being grateful and eating our little hearts out, I wanted to share a recent night spent with the family we're shacking up with (until we close on our house!). Since we are in Dallas with family, it was a great opportunity to prepare and enjoy a pre-Thanksgiving meal with them. As if we won't be getting enough food during the actual holiday... the husband and I have three family dinners to attend, three I tell you! And to think I have totally avoided haven't put in 40 hours at the gym this week. Hope my belt has an extra notch on it. :)

While preparing dinner, however, we were privy to some sideline entertainment when four-year-old M decided to dress her Weiner dog in a cheer leading outfit. Hilarity ensued.

M trying on my boots, once she was done dressing the dog.

Now on to the cooking. My husband recently spent a couple days hunting in Kansas (expect pictures soon!) and brought back a hearty supply of pheasant and quail. I have never ever (and I mean ever never ever) cooked wild game before, so this was my first foray into said prey. Fortunately, it turned out delish! We avoided messing with the grill and opted to cook the birds in the crock pot - I figured this was a safe first venture to avoid having the meat get dried out and not have enough flavor.

First Mike took the meat off the bones:

I scoured the Internet to find a recipe to go off of, and spotted this one loaded with ingredients that sounded like they'd get the job done. (You want to subtly mask the gamey taste the wild birds can have, but still keep them fresh and moist and full of flavor.) 

Another reason I chose to go off the list of ingredients in that recipe was because we didn't have time or marinate the birds overnight, so I wanted flavors that would complement the meat in a short amount of time. Once the birds were de-boned, we put them in the bottom of the crock pot, added all the liquids and seasonings and turned it on high. Three hours later and they were cooked to perfection!

In the meantime, I made a fruit, meat, cheese and dip tray for everyone to munch on while the food cooked. I love making appetizer smorgasboards, so much to choose from!

To add to my day of cooking "firsts," I also made my first seven-layer bean dip.
Layered half the dip in yummy olives from the antipasta section at HEB.
Texas-shaped chips are awesome.

I set the table with some pretty autumn-colored flowers and a vase that the family had on hand made from gorgeous mosaic-like glass tiles. Turkey napkins and a couple pumpkins finished off the simple tablescape and it was time to eat!

We had broccoli cheese rice casserole:

Garlic sauteed squashes:

Traditional sage stuffing:

Rolls brought over from Spring Creek Barbecue:

...and freshly-shot quail and pheasant!

 It was a feast for the eyes, mouth and heart! 

My husband and I wish each and everyone one of you a wonderful and blessed Thanksgiving. We appreciate you taking the time to read Texas Tales and to share part of your day with us. Happy eating!
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