Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Have a Happy New Year’s Eve with Fireworks!!

Several Texas towns have firework displays with food, live music and other entertainment. Towns include Austin (Lady Bird Lake), Karnack (over Caddo Lake), San Antonio, and McAllen, Texas. For more information, check out these events under each town’s Entertainment, Food & Events tab.

Fireworks     Drierp CC BY

 And don’t forget the dance and live music at Luckenbach, Texas!

Luckenbach Dance Hall      Gruenemann  CC BY

Saturday, December 26, 2015

TX State Parks First Day Hikes & Runs All Over Texas!!

Enjoy the many Texas State Parks and Parklands host First Day (January 1) hunting and running activities! Annual hikes are held at Abilene State Park, Balmorhea State Park, Big Bend Ranch State Park, Bastrop State Park, Blanco State Park, Brazos Bend State Park (day and night hikes), Caprock Canyons State Park, Cedar Hill State Park, Cleburne State Park, Colorado Bend State Park, Cooper Lake State Park (both units), Daingerfield State Park, Davis Mountains State Park, Devil’s Sinkhole State Natural Area (to the cave), Dinosaur Valley State Park, Eisenhower State Park, Enchanted Rock SNA, Falcon State Park, Fort Parker State Park (at midnight), Franklin Mountains State Park, Franklin Mountains State Park (Wyler Aerial Tramway), Galveston Island State Park, Goliad State Park, Government Canyon SNA, Guadalupe River State Park, Hueco Tanks State Park & Historic Site, Inks Lake State Park (morning and twilight hikes), Lake Arrowhead State Park, Lake Casa Blanca International State Park, Lake Bob Sandlin State Park, Lake Brownwood State Park, Lake Colorado City State Park, Lake Livingston State Park, Lake Mineral Wells State Park & Trailway, Lake Tawakoni State Park, Lockhart State Park, Lost Maples State Natural Area, Lyndon B. Johnson State Park, Martin Creek Lake State Park, Martin Dies Jr. State Park, McKinney Falls State Park, Meridian State Park, Mission Tejas State Park, Monument Hill SHS, Mother Neff State Park, Mustang Island State Park, Mustang Island State Park, Mustang Island State Park, Pedernales Falls State Park, Purtis Creek State Park, Ray Roberts Lake State Park, San Angelo State Park, San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site, Sheldon Lake State Park, South Llano River State Park, Stephen F. Austin State Park, Tyler State Park, and Village Creek State Park.

Franklin Mountains State Park Hike  TPWD Copyright

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Make Every Holiday Steak Dinner an Event!

All it takes to make the perfect steak dinner is a good cut of steak, Bearnaise sauce, a Caesar salad, and a Big Green Egg, or your barbecue of choice! I love to cook and will occasionally add recipes to the blogs. 

Bearnaise Sauce The Right Way:

½ Cup White Wine (Gallo is Fine)
½ Cup Heinz Distilled White Vinegar (or other store brand)
1 Palm full of fresh dried Tarragon (HEB or Central Market)
1 Tablespoon Minced Green Onion (I usually am out)
2 Sticks of Salted Butter at Room Temperature
3 Whole Egg Yolks from Large Fresh Eggs

Put wine, vinegar, onion, and dried tarragon in a small sauce pan. When measuring the tarragon, cup your hand palm side up and fill it up! Simmer until there are approximately two tablespoons of liquid left. Let cool. Some people hate the smell of this step (my daughter!). And do not burn the pan as it will take you a month to clean it!

In a food processor, blend the butter and egg yolks. Add the above cooled mixture and blend until thoroughly mixed.

Because raw eggs can make you sick, put the sauce in a small sauce pan on low heat and cook until you think the eggs are cooked. At this point, the sauce will separate and you will have to throw it out. I have absolutely no idea why, but for the past 20 years I have totally forgotten this last step! Instead, I store the sauce in the refrigerator for up to six weeks and take out only what I need at each meal. BĂ©arnaise sauce is also good on salmon and asparagus.  

Needs Bearnaise Sauce  Michael Gras, M.Ed. CC BY

Caesar Salad:
This is the real recipe! Years ago at Pepe’s Grill in Cozumel, when they still made the salad table side, a waiter measured everything out for me. He gave me a pen and told me to write it down on my napkin, which I did. You should not eat this dressing because it has raw eggs which can make you sick, though it does not make my family sick.

½ of Juice from a 2 Inch Round Lime
4 Large (fresh) Egg Yolks
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce (French)
4 Anchovies from a Small Tin Can
¼ Teaspoon Dry Mustard
5 Cloves of Garlic from a Two Inch Garlic Bulb
2/3 Cup Olive Oil (Bertolli Classico or Kirkland) – Not Virgin!
Pepper to Taste

Graded Reggiano Parmesan Cheese
Romaine Lettuce, cleaned
Garlic Seasoned Croutons

Peel the garlic and drain the anchovies on a paper towel. In a wooden bowl, combine most of the lime juice, and all of the egg yolks, Worcestershire Sauce, dry mustard, olive oil, and the anchovies and garlic (pressed through a garlic press, Mix well. If the dressing has a tart taste (anchovies), slowly add in more lime juice, tasting after each addition. Chill.

Separate the leaves and clean the romaine lettuce. Drain on a towel. When almost dry, put in a Ziploc bag, press out extra air, and seal the bag. Place in the refrigerator for several hours until the lettuce is crisp.

Mix the lettuce and dressing in a large bowl. Place on salad plates and top with the grated cheese and garlic croutons.

Caesar Salad           Jessica Spengler CC BY

Onion Soup: Bonus Recipe
This recipe is so simple and so good. This is perfect with Caesar Salad on New Year’s Eve!

2 Whole Three Inch Onions, Peeled and Thinly Sliced
1 Stick Butter
2 14.5 Ounce Cans Swanson Beef Broth (Other Fancy Brands do not Work)
Garlic and Onion Flavored Croutons
Mozzarella Cheese Slices, Cut in Strips (I Use Kraft)

Sauté onions in butter on low heat for about ten minutes until tender, but not brown. Add beef broth and simmer for 15 minutes.

Pour soup in four oven-proof soup bowls. Top with croutons and then top with several strips of mozzarella cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees until cheese is melted. Serve with Caesar Salad for a Happy New Year! 

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Exciting Christmas Ice Skating Rinks in Texas!!

Annual Marshall, Texas Wonderland of Lights & Ice Skating, Late Nov Through Dec:
This event features stunning lighting displays with over 10 million Christmas lights on buildings, the 1901 courthouse, homes, trees and decorations. The event kicks off with an official Wonderland of Lights Lighting Ceremony in November. Neighborhoods decorate using a central theme. Bus tours or horse drawn carriage tours are available. The town square is beautifully decorated and features an ice skating rink, ice performances, Santa’s Workshop, Mrs. Claus’ Kitchen, strolling carolers, a chuckwagon breakfast, train rides, a snow tubing hill and more. Choirs perform on the square every Tuesday and Thursday night. Other activities include weekend music concerts at the Marshall Convention Center, a Lighted Parade, and hourly bus tours and the Wonderland 5K Run and Walk. Walking or driving tour maps are available from the Wonderland Information Center booth on the second floor of the Weisman Center on the square at 211 North Washington Avenue. (800) 953-7868.

In 2010 Barton Creek opened a 3,800 square foot outdoor ice rink in their newly renovated Resort Pavilion. 2010 ice skating dates were 24 November through the first Sunday in January. The skating rink is open to local residents, club members and resort guests. “The holiday Shop” sells gifts and showcases a variety of theme decorated Christmas trees with themes ranging from the traditional “Winter Wonderland” and “Peppermint Twist” to the more eclectic “Christmas on the Ranch,” “University of Texas” and “Keep Austin Weird.” Barton Creek Resort and Spa is located west of the town of West Lake Hills off Bee Caves Road. (800) 336-6158. (512) 329-4000. 8212 Barton Club Drive, 78735.

Annual Whole Foods (Austin - Lamar Boulevard) Ice Skating On The Plaza, 29 Nov Thru 9 Jan, 2015:
The ice skating rink is open daily, 10am-9pm. Admission is $10. This wonderful skating rink is located on the Rooftop Plaza at Whole Foods Market, 525 North Lamar Boulevard, 78703. (512) 542-2200. Email

Annual Northern Lights Ice Festival in Prosper, Texas, Late Nov-Jan 3:
This is a favorite annual family festival presented by the Prestonwood Baptist Church. The ice skating rink is open on select days from late November through December. The Northern Lights Festival is held on two December weekends. Activities include Christmas cookie decorating in the Gingerbread House, letters to and from Santa, Polar Express Rides, photos with Santa, Mrs. Santa and several Disney characters, and much more. (972) 820-5000. 1001 West Prosper Trail, 75078. 

Annual Moody Gardens Festival of Lights, Ice Skating, Snow, Galveston, Texas, Nov-Dec:
This event features over one million lights within 100 sound-enhanced animated light displays, ice skating, Saturday nights snow play area, Friday night bring a canned good night, dinner at the Garden Restaurant, photos with Santa, holiday movies, Imagine Christmas (a Holiday Musical Dinner and Show), and nightly live entertainment. Admission to the Rainforest Pyramid, Aquarium Pyramid, MG 3D Theater, Ridefilm Theater and Colonel Paddlewheel Boat can be purchased for $6 each with a Festival of Lights ticket. Tickets to the 4D Special FX Theater can be purchased for $10.95 adults/ $8.95 child. Bring your own skates or skate rental is also available for just $6. (800) 582-4673. One Hope Boulevard, 77554. Moody Gardens is a public, non-profit educational destination.