Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Chile-Cheese Rice

Logan's preschool had a luncheon for the teachers today. Parents were asked to volunteer to do one of the following:
1)  Stay in the classrooms with the kids for an hour while the teachers were at the luncheon
2)  Prepare a dish for the luncheon
3)  Do nothing
Since I normally do nothing and am much more the chef type and much, much less the preschool teacher type I volunteered to bring a side dish. I made Chile-Cheese Rice from the Grant Corner Inn Cookbook that I've written about before. The rice was great! All but one serving was left in the casserole dish when I went to pick it up this afternoon and I had a teacher ask for the recipe. So, I thought I'd share -


Chile-Cheese Rice

1 bunch scallions, most of green tops removed, finely chopped
1 jalapeno chile, finely chopped
½ stick butter
3 cups cooked white rice
1 ¼ t salt
1 ½ cups sour cream
2 cups (8 ounces) cubed Monterey jack cheese
2 cans (4-ounce) chopped green chiles, drained
½ cup (2 ounces) grated Cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously butter a 2-quart casserole dish.

In a small sauté pan sauté scallions and jalapeno in butter until softened. Stir into cooked rice; add salt, sour cream, cubed Monterey jack cheese and green chiles. Pour into prepared casserole dish; sprinkle with Cheddar cheese.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until cheese topping is melted and casserole is bubbly.

Serves 8.


This recipe would also be good with cooked and cubed chicken breast mixed in casserole-style.  I am going to make it again this weekend and serve it with Cilantro-Lime Shrimp.  Yum!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Mailbox Surprise

I literally just yelled out, "Oh my God!!!" while standing beside my mailbox when I discovered this at the bottom of the mail stack -

There's nothing like Johnny Depp to motivate me to get back to blogging.

Monday, October 4, 2010

An Evening With ...

Guess who I had the pleasure of seeing in person last Thursday night?  One of my imaginary friends and one of my imaginary boyfriends. Celebrity chefs Anthony Bourdain & Eric Ripert!  They were at a sold out show called "An Evening with Anthony Bourdain & Eric Ripert" at Clowes Memorial Hall at Butler University in Indianapolis.  Can you guess which one is my imaginary friend and which is my imaginary boyfriend?  If you've seen either of them on television I'm sure you can quickly figure it out.

Anthony Bourdain - my imaginary friend.  I feel like kissing him would be like licking an ashtray so I don't want to imagine him as a boyfriend. You know he'd be fun to hang out with though.

Eric Ripert - my imaginary boyfriend.  I feel like kissing him would taste like chocolate and butter and petit fours and creme brulee.

The show was just the two of them on stage discussing all things food.  Both of the men seemed in person just as you'd imagine them. Anthony is rough around the edges yet very funny.  Eric is polite and elegant and handsome.  Together they were both very entertaining.

Friday, September 17, 2010

I'm Back!

My very sweet Auntie M. sent me a Facebook message yesterday that said, "I'm missing your blogs."  I thought that was a sign I needed to come back to life and sign on to Blogger.  I've been on a horizontal hiatus for the past couple of weeks.  Let me give you some hints to describe my condition ... "knocked up" (my husband's favorite), "bun in the oven" (my uncle's favorite), "feeling pukey all the time" (from me). You guessed it.  I'm just a few weeks along pregnant and all I've wanted to do is lay in the bed most all the time up until the end of this week. I think I'm now ready to join the land of the living.  For a while there everything made me feel nauseous - even reading, commenting on and writing blog posts.

There has been a LOT of action going on around our house though on which I should be reporting.

For example, this -

And this -

Oh, and remember my husband's handy tree-scaping from some time ago?  Let's just say that plan didn't work out so well.  Here is where those trees ended up prior to their trip to the landfill with a ton or two of broken concrete -

More to come soon.

Sunday, August 29, 2010


Restoration Hardware has officially lost me.  You should see the look on my face as I just saw this lamp in a email...

Friday, August 27, 2010

eBay Seller

I just listed several home-decor type items for sale on eBay.  The best item I have for sale is this lovely light fixture which I tried to find a place for in my house but failed.  It needs a happy home!

If you want to see my goods do an advanced search for eBay seller ID mrsbrowndog or click on this link:  I'll be adding more items in the next few days.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Just Spotted

This kilim ottoman on I feel it is slightly kick-ass.

$199 ++

I would like to be it's owner.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

God Bless The Indiana State Fair

The Indiana State Fair is in town.  Indiana has a good state fair.  The layout of the fairgrounds is great and the parking is surprisingly well organized.  It is clean and just the right size, not too big and not too small; however, this year I am taking issue with a situation displayed at the fair.  A traveling sculpture inspired by (knocked-off from) Grant Wood's famous 1930 American Gothic painting is on display in a prominent location on the fairgrounds.  I saw it first hand last week and I just didn't dig it.  The sculpture is by American artist J. Seward Johnson (a Johnson & Johnson heir) and is titled God Bless America.  It is on loan from The Sculpture Foundation which encourages the placement of public art.  The sculpture had previously been displayed in Chicago (also to mixed reviews, per my reading) so I realized this was a, "Hey we're in the area and have got this sculpture and you guys have the state fair going on do you want us to drop this thing off before we move it on to someplace else?" kind of situation.

(sculpture display in Chicago)

The angle the Indiana State Fair is taking with Johnson's sculpture is that they hope God Bless America will remind fair visitors of the importance of agriculture in Indiana.  Huh?  Isn't that what the fair does in general?  Anyway, the American Gothic painting does not remind me of Indiana, ever.  It reminds me of Iowa.  So, instead of me seeing the God Bless America sculpture and thinking about it as a sculpture I was left thinking of the people and personalities that are actually from Indiana and how great it would be if the Indiana State Fair commissioned 25-foot sculptures of influential, well-known or even popular people or personalities from Indiana.  You know, celebrated their own.  (I am choosing to ignore the general weirdness of having the same sculpture mean something different depending on its placement, another topic appropriate for discussion on it's own.)  As I pretend the state fair has the budget to commission giant sculptures I have compiled a list of both past and present Hoosiers that that I am nominating for consideration.

Here we go...
Abraham Lincoln - lived in Spencer County, IN from age 7 - 21 - 

James Dean - actor - born in Marion, IN - 

Karl Malden - actor - starred in A Streetcar Named Desire, On The Waterfront & Patton among many others - I've always liked him - raised in Gary, IN - 

Steve McQueen - actor - born in Beech Grove, IN - 

David Letterman (with his Mom of course) - born and raised in Indianapolis, IN - 

Steve Kroft - longtime correspondent for 60 Minutes - I've always liked him too - born in Kokomo, IN -

Sydney Pollack - director, producer, actor - some of my favorites from his best known movies include Jeremiah Johnson, They Shoot Horses Don't They?, The Way We Were, & Out of Africa out of many, many others - born in Lafayette, IN - 

Michael Jackson - no explanation on who he is - born in Gary, IN - 

Axl Rose - if you don't already know who he is you probably don't want to know - he would surely cause controversy, but he'd have a lot of fans - born in Layfayette, IN - 

David Lee Roth - ditto on knowing who he is already - even thought I place myself in the Sammy Hagar over David Lee Roth camp - ditto on controversy potential - born in Bloomington, IN - 

John Mellencamp - Mr. Indiana himself - born in Seymour, IN and lives in Bloomington, IN - 

Larry Bird - duh - born in West Baden, IN and grew up there and in French Lick, IN - 

Chuck Taylor - How cool would a big pair of these be for a sculpture? - born in Azalia, IN - 

Halston - fashion designer - went to high school in Evansville, IN - 

Bill Blass - fashion designer - born in Fort Wayne, IN - 

Orville Redenbacher - Mr. Popcorn - born in Brazil, IN - 

Robert Indiana - artist - a giant version of his LOVE sculpture would be nice - born in New Castle, IN - 

Kurt Vonnegut - cooler than cool American novelist - born and raised in Indianapolis, IN - 

Colonel Eli Lilly - without the business he founded the city of Indiana would practically collapse and I would not be able to enjoy my position in life as the "financial anchor" around my husband's neck (as he affectionately likes to call our daughter and me) - grew up in, became, was, is Indianapolis - 

Garfield - Who doesn't love this cat? - his cartoon is set in Muncie, IN - 

And last but not least, my very favorite ... 
John Dillinger - gangster, bank-robber & one time "Public Enemy" to the US Government at least - born, raised and buried in Indianapolis, IN - 

Friday, August 13, 2010

My Heart is Going Pitter-Patter

I posted about the store recently.  Look at this pagoda headboard they have for sale right now -

Oh how I wish I needed a headboard!!!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Three Little Worlds

After almost 10 years of marriage my husband has three little words he says to me on occasion that make me very happy.  These aren't the three little words:

"I love you" 
"You are beautiful"
or even
"You look thin".

 The three little words he says to me on occasion are:

"That's your deal".

OK, maybe that is three and half words, no matter, these words often occur when I ask his opinion on something to do with decorating our house.  Music to my ears!

Circa Who

I have discovered the web site of a great store in West Palm Beach, FL named Circa Who.  It is a resale shop and they describe their inventory as being 20th Century funishings from Mid-Century modern to Hollywood Regency meets vintage Florida.  Below are some of my favorites.

Pair of faux bamboo benches at $1,200 -

2 faux bamboo arm chairs with KWID fabric at $350 each -

Gilt faux bamboo coffee table at $950 -

Faux bamboo console at $350 -

Pagoda chandelier SOLD, bummer - 

Pair of pagoda mirrors at $550 -

I emailed the shop inquiring as to if they would ship their goods and received a very nice message back that indeed they would ship and to email for a quote on shipping costs for any of their items.  Click below on their logo to go to the web site.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

I Really Like This - The Cold Version

I recently bought one of these swell faux to go cups -

It is a sturdy plastic cold beverage tumbler with a twist on and off lid and a straw with a stirrer at the bottom.  It holds 24-ounces, has a non-slip brown hand grip and is dishwasher safe.  It is made by Copco.  I am a super duper clumsy woman so this sippy cup for big girls has been making me very happy.  I bought mine at Bed Bath & Beyond for $7.99 (less their coupon discount, never shop there without a coupon), but the web site lists many other places that sell them.  See it here.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

On Another Note

I bought a pagoda mirror just like this yesterday from a resale shop in Indianapolis named DomiStyle.  The only difference is that my mirror hangs with the pagoda at the top vertically versus horizontally like this one.

I like this room.  A highlight from the September 2010 issue of House Beautiful, especially considering my previous two posts.

You've Got To Be Kidding Me - Part 2

I'm concerned.  Very concerned.  About House Beautiful that is.  This is their Kitchen of The Month for the September 2010 issue -

Wow -

These are the refrigerator / freezers - 

I'm so confused.

You've Got To Be Kidding Me - Part 1

Please excuse my language, but WHAT IN THE HELL is this?

What this is is a full, whole, complete, entire page from the September 2010 issue of House Beautiful featuring the shabby-chic slipcovered seats of an SUV belonging to an Interior Designer named Carolyn Espley-Miller.  The photo is from an article written about a house she owns and decorated in California.  Seriously.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Table That Thought

My nice UPS man (he ALWAYS gives my dog Dolly a treat) delivered two boxes today containing the new rush grass end tables I ordered last week.  I had been admiring these tables online at for some time now and I finally quit admiring and got out the bank card.  I am very happy with my purchase!  The tables are sold for $69 plus shipping, although I received a new customer discount.  Here is my find -

The tables come in 3 finishes:  Natural (my pick, pictured above), Red Brown and Black.  They measure 18"square.  I've also seen these tables for sale on

I plan on using my tables in my guest bedroom as bedside tables (although they are sturdy I don't think they would be strong enough to use as a stool despite their size).  There will be adjustable wall sconces on each side of the bed, so I didn't need for the tables I selected to have a smooth surface on which to place a lamp.  These tables are a great way to add texture and a natural element to a room at a reasonable price.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

The BEST Blueberry Muffins Ever

Last weekend my daughter and I stumbled upon an episode of America's Test Kitchen where they were making the "Best Blueberry Muffins". I told Logan we were going to make those muffins pronto so we loaded up and went to the grocery store for the ingredients.  I baked the first batch and they were very, very good.  My husband and I discussed the tweaking that needed to be made in order to perfect the recipe.  I baked a second batch with the successful tweaking.  Now I present to you the recipe for ...

The BEST Blueberry Muffins Ever!!

Makes 12 muffins


Blueberry Jam
1 1/4 cups fresh blueberries, picked over
1 tablespoon sugar

1 cup fresh blueberries, picked over
1 1/8 cups sugar
2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoons table salt
2 large eggs, room temperature
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Brown Sugar Topping
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pieces, softened


Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees.  Spray standard muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray.

For the Blueberry Jam
Bring 1 1/4 cups blueberries and 1 tablespoon sugar to simmer in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Cook, mashing berries with a spoon several times and stirring frequently, until berries have broken down and mixture is thickened and reduced, about 6 minutes.  Transfer to a small bowl and cool to room temperature, 10 to 15 minutes.

For the Brown Sugar Topping
Combine brown sugar, 2 tablespoons flour and 2 tablespoons butter in a small bowl.  Mix until crumbly.  Set aside.

For the Muffins
Whisk 2 1/2 cups flour, baking powder and salt together in a large bowl.  Whisk 1 1/8 cups sugar and eggs together in a seperate medium bowl until thick and homogenous, about 45 seconds.  Slowly whisk in butter and oil until combined.  Whisk in buttermilk and vanilla until combined.  Using a rubber spatula, fold egg mixture and 1 cup of blueberrries into flour mixture until just moistened.  The batter will be very lumpy with a few spots of dry flour, do not overmix.

Use an ice cream scoop or large spoon to divide batter equally in prepared muffin tin.  Batter should completely fill cups and mound slightly. Spoon a teaspoon of cooked berry jam into the center of each mound of batter.  Using a knife, gently swirl berry jam into batter.  Sprinkle brown sugar topping evenly over muffins.

Bake until muffin tops are golden and firm, 19 minutes, rotating muffin tin from front to back halfway through baking time.  Cool muffins in tin for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack and cool 5 minutes before serving.


This is not a mix it up in 5 minutes recipe.  It does take some time and you will mess up a lot of kitchen equipment.  BUT, you will not be complaining about the dishes you have to wash once you bite into one of these goodies.  Best of luck not eating about 3 muffins in one sitting.

My husband has requested that I bake 2 dozen of these muffins for him to take to the office to share next week.  You must understand, Mike is SO not the take-baked-goods-to-work kind of guy.


Wednesday, July 28, 2010

If I Had A Million Dollars

If I had a million dollars ... (think the Barenaked Ladies song) ... OK, if I had $2.9 million dollars (and still had to live in Indianapolis) I'd buy this house -

Isn't it pretty?  Recently listed for sale, this 22-acre Indianapolis estate named "Twin Oaks" was owned by the late reclusive philanthropist Ruth Lilly.  Lilly was the sole living heiress to the Indianapolis based Eli Lilly and Company pharmaceutical fortune built by her great-grandfather Colonel Eli Lilly.

The gated property includes a 7,726 square foot home, a guest house of about 2,000 square feet and formal gardens.  In addition, the house and grounds benefit from one of the most important elements in real estate - location, location, location!  It is located off of a terrific street in a great location in the city of Indianapolis.  Ruth Lilly lived in this house until her death last year at age 94.  She gave away an estimated $800 million in her lifetime.

The back of the house - 

I was unable to find photos of the interior of the house although I did find a short news clip of a video tour of part of the interior.  The lack of information regarding the inside of the house leads me to believe the home most likely suffers from dated interiors.  So, I am estimating I will need about $5 million instead of the $2.9 for which I originally wished.

The guest house -

I feel Twin Oaks would have great karma.  I could be very happy there ... If I had a million dollars ... I would not buy this piece of ridiculousness also currently for sale in the Indianapolis area (Carmel, IN to be exact) -

This property once belonged to the Conseco Insurance founder Stephen Hilbert who built the 25,000 square foot mansion in 1993 for $35 million.  In addition to the house this 40-acre estate features a 15,000 square foot "sports palace", guest house, catering facilities and power plant.  Stephen Hilbert and his wife Tomisue (yes, I said Tomisue) named this ... ummm ... place "Le Chateau Renaissance".

The pool and pool house -

Notice above I mentioned the property "once belonged" to Stephen Hilbert.  Hilbert lost ownership of the Le Chateau Renaissance to Conseco, the company he founded, to repay money he borrowed from Conseco.  Conseco has since been renamed CNO Financial Group. CNO won control of the property during a court battle stemming from loans that Hilbert took out to buy company stock.  Sounds like a continuous loop to me.

Don't get me wrong, the exterior of this house is very attractive, but come on, this is the Crossroads of America we're talking about here not France!

The back of the house - 

The estate was most recently listed for sale at $9.9 million - less than half of the original asking price and a third of the $30 million it was estimated to be worth in 2001.  Wow.  Bad investments all around.  The property has been on the market for 5 years.  I guess I'm not the only one not in the market for a Le Chateau.

The gardens -

Hilbert attended Indiana State University for two years, but dropped out to sell encyclopedias for Grolier and then worked for the encyclopedia publisher in its Chicago office as training director.  Before entering into the insurance business Hilbert worked for RJ Reynolds Tobacco Co.

The sports palace -

Last but not least, whoever buys this silliness will inherit a mural on the entryway domed ceiling that includes a likeness of Hilbert as a Greek god.  I guess you could call this the icing on the Le Chateau -