Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Summer Salad Virtual Potluck Round Up

Summer is officially over which means that so is our Tasty Tuesday Summer Salad Virtual Potluck.

Don't be sad. We'll party again soon. Thanks for joining us!

Since party favors make every party more fun, I have a parting gift for you: A round up of all of the salads from the summer. Just click on the picture for the link.

 Oh boy, there were some goodies.

Jennifer McMurrain's Mac Daddy Macaroni Salad

Dee Dee Chumley's Black Bean and Hominy Salad

Brandi Barnett's Tortellini Salad

Lisa Marotta's Mama Mia Pasta Salad

Kelly Bristow's Mississippi Cornbread Salad

Heather Davis' Oh Crap! I Forgot! Salad

Tom Barczak's Summer Chicken Salad

Shel Harrington's Peach Fluff

Malena Lott's Avocado Feta Tomato Salad

Lisa Czlonka's Kalua Pig

Mari Farthing's Orzo Veggie Salad

Heather Ezell's Caprese Salad
I love introducing people and watching friendships form. If you haven't already, please visit my fellow bloggers on their home pages.  Who knows? You may find a new place to visit.  After all, they're fascinating people... just like you.

Thanks for coming to the party and come back soon!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Friday Favorite: Nutella

Dear Nutella,

It's my fault. I judged you on your name and appearance.  That odd name that's part fruity and part girly. That red color that's a little too close to orange to not contain citrus.  That unanswered question to why the "n" is a different color which makes the name seem to be "utella," but that part isn't as weird as the fact that it's pronounced NEWtella.

I shouldn't have jumped to conclusions.

You are not Vegemite.

You contain chocolate. And nuts

Did you have your cute little makeover to get my attention?  I love how you accessorized with the bread sticks.  Am I aware of you now because of this transformation or is it because you're hanging out in different places--like the checkout line? 
However it happened, I'm glad you're with me now. B + N XOXO

Has anyone else discovered a love of food (or anything else) later in life that they shunned previously?  What is your favorite way to eat Nutella?

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Summer Salads: Heather Ezell

For those of you who regularly read my blog, you'll know Heather Ezell from Hang Zen yoga on Lake Tenkiller or this post about SUP yoga, this post from Oklahoma Women Bloggers and this post about Inklings 2013 summer retreat

She's cool.  She's fun.  She's adventuresome.

I was thrilled when Heather finally decided to start a blog because she has a variety of interests.  I'm hoping to live vicariously through her travels.  Heather's also a bit of a foodie and loves wine. These traits I can aspire to, but...she also flips houses.  (Will I learn some DIY pointers for my home so I can dazzle the hubby with some yet-to-be-learned mad skills?) I'm looking forward to reading more of Heather Ezell's Never Zending Story.

I'm happy you joined us today for the last guest post of the Summer Salad series. Check out what Heather brought to the virtual potluck.

 For me, Salads are a staple. Whether I'm cooking something only for
myself, the two of us, or for a crowd, I almost always have a salad of
some sort. As well, it is not unheard of for me to do more than one.
They're light, delicious and versatile. I DO love a salad. I have many
that are included in my rotation but this one may be my favorite. (It
is often requested when people come to visit.) It's simple and
elegant. Also during this time of year, the ingredients are fresh and
in abundance. Most of the time, I use what I have grown in either mine
or my neighbors' garden.

Tomato, Basil and Mozzarella Salad
AKA Fancy Name: Caprese Salad

Ingredients list: (Tip--the fresher, the better)

Tomatoes--your favorite variety, or whatever you have on hand from the
garden, the farmer's market, etc.

~ Do not refrigerate tomatoes. It will zap the flavor.

Basil--a bunch or a handful

Mozzarella--Fresh is vital for this recipe. I generally use buffalo
mozzarella packed in water.

Olive oil

Balsamic Vinegar

Greens--again whatever is fresh and available. Sometimes I use spinach
or microgreens or whatever I find at the farmer's market.


Pour a glass of wine. (Or sparkling/mineral water) Slice tomatoes and
mozzarella according to your preference. Sip beverage.

Take basil and stack it from largest to smallest leaf. Roll it up in a
tight package. Run knife through, cutting small ribbons into the herb.
It is best to only do this once and no more than twice to avoid
obliterating the basil and turning it into mush. Voila'! This is known
as a chiffonade. (Fancy French cooking term)

Take another sip.

Place greens in individual bowls or a serving dish. Layer tomatoes and
cheese alternating each. I prefer even amounts but it's up to you if
you would rather have more tomatoes vs. mozzarella or vice versa.
Sprinkle basil ribbons over everything.


Now lightly dress with a good quality olive oil and balsamic vinegar.


Now, bon appetit!

Magical Meal Combination
When choosing a wine to pair with this salad think, light. A Reisling
or a Pinot Noir would both be appropriate. You want to take a walk on
the wild side? Give a Spanish Rioja-Crianza a whirl.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Friday Favorite: Giveaway and Getaways

I have some cool news: My blog was mentioned in the Muskogee Phoenix.  Earlier this summer I wrote about Glamping at Girl Camp on Oklahoma Women Bloggers, and it is a hot topic right now. Click here for your how-to-glamp guide.

You know how Hollywood always chooses younger, prettier actresses to portray real-life people?  The Muskogee Phoenix kindly does the same thing.  Valarie Olson's photograph was featured in the article this morning and showed our pal Moria Kinsey playing...me.

Here's a link to John Kilgore's article in the Muskogee Phoenix about Camping for those not so inclined to camp. Check it our for some great glamping websites.

Photo of the article: The lovely Moria Kinsey is playing me in the photo above.
If you are looking for a weekend getaway close to home, glamping might be just right for you.

Of course, if you don't want to leave the house at all, you can grab some Wailani's Body Scrub and have a mini Hawaiian spa experience in your own shower. Thank you to everyone who entered and shared your ideal weekend getaway.

And now...

through the magic of random.org...

I'd like to congratulate Peggy for winning the mango and green tea scrub! Thank you for telling us about your grownup slumber party experience.
Email your address to brandi at brandibarnett.com, and I'll mail your prize as soon as possible. Please drop by my blog and visit again soon.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Summer Salad: Mari Farthing

When I first met Mari Farthing, I felt like I'd met her before.  I'm not sure if it's because her name was familiar because she was a (now former) editor at MetroFamily Magazine or Senior editor at Buzz Books. She also blogs at Oklahoma Women Bloggers and Mari's Virtual Notebook and shows off her musical addiction interests at The Music Mamas. We officially met at the table reading of the Listen to Your Mother Show
We chatted. She's funny and unassuming and humble and passionate. That's when I realized Mari is just one of those people. You know...the kind you meet and it's like you've always known each other and what took so long for it to be official? After making her salad, check out her blogs.  You may feel that way about her, too.
Orzo veggie salad

1/2 box cooked orzo pasta, rinsed, drained and cooled
1 package herbed feta cheese chunks (6 oz)
1 cup of small cherry/grape tomatoes, quartered or 1 md tomato, chopped
Good handful of baby spinach, chopped
bottled Greek vinaigrette salad dressing (or Italian dressing or homemade)

Dice veggies to be of similar size:
1/2 ea: red, yellow & green bell pepper
1 md. cucumber, peeled & seeded 
1/4-1/2 red onion

Italian seasoning, salt, pepper to taste

Optional: black or Kalamata olives, pickled banana peppers, pepperoncini (all chopped in a similar to above fashion)

Combine chopped vegetables with pasta and gently toss. 
Add in seasonings at this time, plus a small amount of dressing. 
Gently combine and refrigerate for at least an hour.
Just before serving, add cheese and a little more dressing (or a lot, if you like a lot of dressing) and toss.

Magical Meal Combination
This is great if you're going to have Greek food, such as kebabs or souvlaki-marinated pork (the optional ingredients are a perfect tie in for Greek food), but works equally well with just about any grilled meat or as a stand-alone pasta salad. The add-ins are very flexible to what you have available; use your leftover vegetables from a previous meal, add a protein like grilled chicken or shrimp in the salad to make it a full meal. I would enjoy this with a nice Sauvignon Blanc, but then I think the only requirement for a nice Sauvignon Blanc is a lovely summer day!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Friday Favorite: Wailani's Body Scrubs

If you've ever spent any time with me, I've probably told you about a product or place I love.  Sharing my favorite things is one of my favorite things.

Want to know one of my new favorite things?  Wailani's Body Scrub

Golden Pineapple and Salty Hibiscus (courtesy of Wailani's)

Here's why:

1. The scents are inspired by Hawaii. If I close my eyes and breathe deeply, it's like a mini vacation in the shower...as long as my kids stay out of the bathroom.
2. The ingredients are all natural and pronounceable. Read: I don't freak I'm poisoning myself for smooth skin. No fear abides in this girl for coconut oil or Kona coffee or organic flower petals.
3. It's not super oily.  Some scrubs I've purchased use ingredients that are next to impossible to remove so that if I forget to put my contacts in before I shower (seriously, who does that?), I spend the day peering through lenses damaged from an oil slick.
4.  Lisa Czlonka, the founder, is a friend of mine who lives in Oklahoma and brought her childhood in Hawaii with her.  Clearly, she likes sharing what she loves with others, too.  I like to buy from "mom and pop" businesses, maybe because one puts food on my own table or maybe because it just seems like the right thing to do. Small business owners are in close contact with what goes into a product and how their clients feel about it.  That matters to me.
5. It's a great gift.  I'm not a great gift giver, but I play one on Pinterest. My mind keeps coming up with different gift baskets. 
The morning coffee for those who drink tea. (courtesy of Wailani's)
 Kona Coffee. I am not a coffee drinker. This scrub is the closest I will ever get to the coffee craze. Maybe it's the smell or the intense scrub, but I am alert and ready for the day after having my morning Kona Coffee in the shower. Unlike me, my husband loves coffee. So, I shouldn't have been surprised when he absconded it for his own use. Gift idea: Pair it with a gift certificate to a local coffee shop and some chocolate covered coffee beans to make any coffee lover--male or female--jittery with joy (and a little caffeine).

Golden Pineapple. Citrus smells make me happy.  This scrub is like opening the window to morning sunshine.  It has a smaller grain than the Kona Coffee so keep that in mind when you consider your preferences.  I'm glad to have both. I like using the pineapple on my legs because my skin is more sensitive, and I like using the Kona Coffee for my elbows and feet. Gift idea: The pineapple is often a symbol for hospitality, so the Golden Pineapple body scrub would be a nice leave-behind after being an overnight guest. For a new homeowner, pair it with bath towels.

Salty Hibiscus. Wow.  Just wow.  I'm extremely picky about floral scents, and I adore this scrub. I wish Salty Hibiscus came in a lotion and a candle and a laundry detergent and.... The smell is not overpowering, but it is distinctly relaxing and feminine. Plus, the scrub is a pretty pink and contains actual organic flower petals. Gift idea: A lovely gift for a girly girl would be Salty Hibiscus and a gift certificate for a mani-pedi or massage. In the spirit of Hawaii, why not toss in a bikini? Yes, I'm serious. Your favorite gardener might appreciate it paired with an actual hibiscus and gardening gloves.

Warning: You'll love being indulgent so much that you might get selfish. Case in point: Lisa gave me the coffee one.  Then I bought the last two with the intention of giving them away, but used them for myself instead. This works in your favor because some lucky reader will get to select a scrub of his or her choice.

Yep. I'm giving one away.

Want a mini vacation?  Here's how you can win one of Wailani's Body Scrubs in three easy steps.

1. Check out the different body scrubs here.

2. Comment below with which one you'd like to win. Leave your contact info.

And...here's where you earn it...

3. Give me an idea for a real mini-vacation.  Tell me your favorite place to go for a long weekend.

Contest is through next Thursday at midnight.  I'll announce the winner Friday, September 13, 2013. 

Lisa Czlonka, founder of Wailani's Body Scrubs
If you missed Lisa's Tasty Tuesday contribution to my summer salad virtual potluck, check out her Kalua Pig here.

Also,  Wailani's Facebook page has all sorts of healthy tips.

Go ahead.

You can enter the contest now.


Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Summer Salads: Lisa Czlonka

Garrett and I discussed this weekend how blessed we are to have met so many nice people in our small town. Like us, many of them are not from here but have made a home in this little community at the foothills of the Ozarks.

Lisa Czlonka is one of these people who is a looooong way from where she grew up: Hawai'i.
Lisa Czlonka
 How lucky am I to have a friend who throws luaus in landlocked Oklahoma?! Really. She had a luau for her baby girl's first birthday. 

I thought Garrett went back for seconds of the Kalua pig, but he confessed to thirds.  Thirds. Garrett

Ya'll, kalua pig made my taste buds hula.

Lisa offers many special tricks with this recipe that she makes it sound simple. So simple you might want to throw your own luau. If not, you'll certainly wow everyone at the next potluck.

Lisa Czlonka's Kalua Pig
In Hawai’i, a typical drive-in restaurant will serve plate lunches, which essentially is a meat, rice, and mac salad.  In more recent years, the mac salad can be replaced by a side salad…well maybe you could do that awhile ago, but who was counting carbs in high school?!
So, I’m taking a little liberty with the salad share and really introducing you to a Hawaiian favorite, kalua pig.  As my husband would say, "Kalua pig on any salad makes the salad better."
Magical Meal Suggestion
Keep it simple and get a premix salad. Pictured is one that includes baby spinach because I love to get the extra punch of antioxidants.  Add whatever vegetables you’d like.  If you’re going fancy, you can use a ramekin to form a border for your salad from tomatoes or cucumbers.  
The white rice can be found in the Asian section of your local grocer.  You could replace this with brown rice to be healthier, but I’m just trying to introduce you to the traditional way it’s served in Hawaii.  Loading your fork or chopsticks with a little rice and kalua pig makes a nice flavor balance.   
But enough talk, let’s get to the recipe…and no it doesn’t involve digging a huge hole in your backyard, though traditionally a full pig is cooked in an underground oven called an imu (pronounced EE-moo).

Kalua Pig (~24 servings)
8 lbs. bone in pork butt (shoulder)
3.5 oz. liquid smoke
4 T Hawaiian salt
Oven Bag

Make sure your rack is set on the lowest level in your oven.  Preheat oven to 350. 

If your pork has a thick layer of fat, be sure to trim as much off as possible.  Or better yet, if you can remember when you're at the store, ask the butcher. 

With a paring knife, score the pork on all sides and then rub with the Hawaiian salt; use enough to cover all sides.  Don’t try to use imitation salt. I did once and it turned out bad.  If your local grocer doesn’t carry Hawaiian salt, ask and they may bring it in or go with the good ol' Amazon.  Put the pork in the oven bag and dump in the liquid smoke.  Make sure all sides get covered by turning the pork over in the bag.   

Blow air into the bag and close with the tie provided. I recommend cutting the excess bag so that you leave only a couple inches above the tie, as the bag will expand in the oven and you don’t want the bag to touch the top of the oven and melt.  

Place bag in a shallow roasting pan and cook for 4 hours. Remove from the oven and let cool for a bit and then shred the pork (you can use two forks).  Pour some of the liquid from the bag over the pork, which is really important in helping not to dry out the meat in case you want to freeze leftovers.


Check back this Friday for a give away that will keep you in the spirit of the islands.


Wailani's Body Scrub