Cream of Asparagus Soup

Recipe Testing in The Home Idea Factory (Photo: Lisa Stewart Photography)
Recipe Testing in The Home Idea Factory (Photo: Lisa Stewart Photography)

New year, new opportunities and tons of cleaning up of files, recipes, and closets to do!

As a Lifestylist® I spend a lot of time on the road searching for what’s new, but when I’m home I love spending time in the kitchen working on comfort food recipes that are so easy anyone can make them.

Cream of Asparagus Soup Photo: Lisa Stewart Photography
Cream of Asparagus Soup Photo: Lisa Stewart Photography

I love Cream of Asparagus soup and I spend a fortune buying it so I decided it was time to come up with a recipe I can make at home. This recipe is so easy and by using vegetable stock instead of the chicken stock most recipes call for it keeps it vegetarian and reduces the sodium levels.

Fresh Asparagus from Dallas Farmers Market Photo: Lisa Stewart Photography
Fresh Asparagus from Dallas Farmers Market Photo: Lisa Stewart Photography

Fresh Asparagus is already showing up in the grocery stores and farmers markets – give it a try and see what you think.

Spicing Things Up

Spices throwaway 12Spices throwaway 3The Lifestylist test kitchen is almost complete! As I was taking everything out of drawers and my old pantry I realized now is the perfect time to check expiration dates on everything and get rid of things that aren’t as fresh as the rest of the ingredients I use in my dishes.

I was amazed that most spices didn’t have expiration dates on them, but here are a few simple tips that can help you decide whether to keep or trash you pantry inventory.

* Smell – always the easiest. If something smells “off” or in the case of spices has no scent at all it’s time to replace.

* Appearance – if something looks off as far as color or texture get rid of it immediately! The last thing you want to do is make yourself or your guests sick. Faded spices can mean that their strength isn’t what it should be and will throw off the taste of your dish.

* Expiration Dates – I do trust these and if somethings past that date will get rid of it. It just isn’t worth ruining a dish of dinner party to save a few dollars.

* Moisture – if something get introduced to an outside moisture source I would get rid of it instead of having to worry about mold or having it compromised.

My sweet contractor made me a spice rack and I can’t wait to start filling it. My favorite source for the freshest spices is Penzeys. They have opened quite a few stores and they also can be purchased online.

My new absolute spicy find though is Tabasco Spicy Salt. I’ve never found it in the stores but you can but it at their online store. It’s a blend of their very own slat that is mined on Avery Island, Louisiana and ground red pepper. It has quite a kick and a little goes a long way. I use it on everything!

What is a Lifestylist® ?

 

 

 

One of the questions I always get asked is exactly what is a Lifestylist®, and what is unique about the Lifestylist® Lifestyle. The second most asked question is what makes me a Trailer Diva!

The Lifestylist philosophy is about “Life Celebrating Style”. Our clients life and style is what dictates how a Lifestylist® works with you. My favorite example is I had a client in Phoenix, Arizona that was a major Phoenix Suns fan, and their team colors are orange and purple. The client wanted their entire home done in these colors. What they wanted is what they got, complete with a child’s room with a hardwood floor striped like a basketball court. They wanted to stylishly celebrate their interests and love of their home team and we did!

I just spoke to a friend who’s dog just dug up their entire garden and her daughter slammed the door on the neighbor’s hand – all in about 30 minutes time. Her needs and lifestyle are completely different from my son – no kids, no dogs, and lives in front of his computer. What my style is wouldn’t work well for either of them which is why I need to understand the client and what their “hot buttons” are. It’s takes extra time and sleuthing to achieve this – many times the client has trouble putting into words exactly what they are looking for but they know it when they see it. I take the responsibility very seriously – a person’s environment can truly change their lives in a positive or negative way. If someone is happy in their home their quality of life improves.

Next to being a mother, becoming a Lifestylist® is one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done. I’m looking forward to expanding the concept and what it offers in the years to come. – we will be launching a new food line this Spring!

It’s Time to Get Corny

Right now it’s corn season in Texas! The Dallas Farmers Market has a great selection, and even many of the grocery stores are featuring locally grown sweet corn.

One of my favorite ways to enjoy this seasonal favorite is Chef Joanne Bondy’s Habanero Cream Corn. Joanne is the Executive Chef at the Old Hickory restaurant at the Gaylord Texan. Part of the summer series at the Gaylord is Jr. Chef Camp, and this dish is always one of the favorites that that kids prepare.

If you can’t get to the Gaylord Texan to enjoy this dish, Chef Bondy has shared the recipe here so you can try it at home.

 

Farm to Market

This Lifestylist® is so fortunate to be close to a great farmers market. The Dallas Farmers Market is open 365 days a year, and I love how they make sure  you know which the local farmers and produce are.

One of my favorite farmers is Lemleys which has had a stall for as long as I can remember. If you want great tomatoes and peaches, this is definitely the place. They are so nice, and Mr. Lemley is often there on weekends sharing his knowledge.

Not only does buying from farmers help support the local economy, it also is an excellent way to save money and eat healthy. Search out your local farmers market and find out what a difference it can make in your lifestyle.

Summer Sweets

It’s watermelon season! We try and go to our local farmers market at least once a week, and this week the watermelon slices we sampled were too good to pass up.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a Lazy Cook, and what could be easier than watermelon as a dessert? We just added some mint, sliced up our watermelon and that was it! Fantastic food doesn’t have to be complicated or costly. Fresh, local and healthy is always the best choice.

Perfect Pasta Salad

It’s Memorial Day weekend, and lucky for me the Dallas Farmers Market is full of locally grown produce that offers me endless opportunities for fast, fresh meals. I’ve started making at least one trip there a week to stock up on what’s in season.

This pasta salad is one of my favorite “go to” recipes, and can be changed by adding your favorite vegetables or what is in season. We made it a little more healthy today by using whole wheat pasta.

If you are in a lazy cook mood, try buying a cucumber tomato salad already prepared at your local deli and just add the pasta.

 

Perfect Pasta Salad

(1) fresh tomato, diced

(1) Avocado, sliced

(1) Cucumber, peeled and diced

1/2 Red Onion, chopped

1/4 cup Cilantro, chopped (dill is a great substitution if you prefer)

8 oz. pasta of your choice cooked, drained and chilled – I like rotini

3 T. Red wine vinegar

1 t. fresh squeezed lemon juice

1/4 c. Olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Cook pasta in boiling water, drain and cool to at least room temperature. While pasta is cooling, chop and slice avocado then toss in lemon juice. Peel and slice other vegetables, then place in serving bowl. Add cooled pasta, oil and vinegar and toss, then add salt and pepper to taste.

 

‘Til Midnight at the Nasher Sculpture Center

Sometimes it’s just to hot to cook at home, so last night I decided to let the Wolfgang Puck team at the Nasher Sculpture Center do it for me. They have a wonderful series titled ‘Til Midnight at the Nasher, and as part of that you can order an amazing picnic basket of goodies and then enjoy it under the stars and amazing works of art. This was my second time to attend, and it’s quickly a must attend event that I’m looking forward to every month. If you aren’t a member of the Nasher you should be – besides getting invitations to special events it also gives you access to the members tent where this month they hosted an organic wine tasting that was wonderful.

Being a Lifestylist® is all about helping people live their lives with style, and I can’t think of a better place to do that than here!

Nasher Cafe Dining by Wolfgang Puck Serves up the Ultimate Picnic

The good and bad news is that this Lifestylist® is super busy! Lots of new homes to design and give the Lifestylist® Designed touch to, products to develop, animals to rescue… there just never seems to be enough hours in the day. Life seems to be moving at warp speed, and before you know it summer is gone and I never took advantage of some of the great events Dallas has to offer.

When I heard about the series the Nasher Sculpture Center is holding this summer I decided it was time to slow down and take a night to sit under the stars. The ’til Midnight at the Nasher series is such a great idea – every third Friday through October you can go to the Nasher and enjoy a concert and movie in their garden. If you haven’t had the opportunity to visit the Nasher it is a must see, and their garden is complete with beautiful works of art that are a joy to experience. You bring your own blankets to sit on, and beverages and food are available from the Nasher Cafe catering services provided by Wolfgang Puck.

Every evening is a different theme, and last night was the Wizard of Oz complete with a showing of the film. Emerald City – a 14 pc band entertained us and had everyone on their feet for most of the evening. The theming also carried through to specialty drinks such as “The Great and Powerful Oz”, “Flying Monkey” and “Over the Rainbow”. The very talented Lisa Stewart does a lot of photography for the Nasher, and she was in the know enough to pre-order a picnic basket for us which was an amazing deal. A bottle of great wine, salads, cheeses, bread and strawberries with a decadent dark chocolate dipping sauce made me a very happy participant in the evening.

Another great opportunity was that a guided tour of the Nasher was included as part of this event. Other museums in the area including the Dallas Museum of Art and Crow Collection made this event a true block party and you could take a progressive museum tour through all three. We had so much fun I did something that I’ve been thinking about doing for quite awhile – I became a member! This is the best way to truly take advantage of all the Nasher Sculpture Center has to offer.

It was so much fun to see young and old, people from every walk of life coming together to celebrate the arts. I can’t wait until next month, and now I’m hoping my kids and grandkids will be able to come and enjoy an evening as well.

Buying Local

Today was a great day – I got a lot of work done on my gardens then we went to our local farmers market to pick up some goodies for the week.

The Home Idea Factory is in an area of Dallas called Oak Cliff and we are very fortunate because we are close to town but it’s an older established area that is really coming into it’s own. Some amazing restaurants have opened, I’ve heard there is now an organic coop and now we even have our own coffee company – Oak Cliff Coffee Roasters. So today we picked up some coffee, and sampled our way through the local farmer stalls at the Dallas Farmers Market. Local peaches were just coming into season and there also was a bounty of tomatoes, onions, squash and cucumbers. It’s going to be a healthy tasty week around here!

Some vendors are only there weekends and we discovered the Lucky Layla Farms which had amazing cheeses. I bought the Fresh Campesino which was perfect with my tomatoes, avocados and cucumbers for lunch. I’m going to make some homemade ice cream to use with the peaches for dessert.

One of the best things about being a Lifestylist is getting to explore what’s out there and figure out how to make it approachable and accessible. I was amazed how much I saved by buying at the farmers market vs. a typical grocery store – I got 5 huge beautiful tomatoes that were picked that morning for $1 each! My goodies helped me make a quick and healthy lunch for under $1.50 per serving.

We have got to support our local farmers and businesses. The Lemley family has been bring exceptional tomatoes, peaches and other produce to the farmer’s market for over 30 years. I know that a lot of the better restaurants in town also buy form them and I can’t imagine a summer without their goodies. It’s exciting to have all of these choices now and I plan on supported them so they are here for years to come.