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Monthly Archives: July 2015

Tomato Sauce Soup

Martha Stewart gets a bad rap. And in my house, so do tomatoes. 


For the record, I’m a fan of both. A woman who has built an empire off of homemade lemon curd and gardening tips must be doing something right.

And those tomatoes? Look at those beauties. They’re like jewels.

Between our CSA box and good friends with abundant gardens, my tomato collection was plentiful. So I turned to Martha for a simple tomato sauce recipe.

You’re supposed to score the bottoms of the tomatoes and then blanch them for 30 seconds in boiling water, followed by 30 seconds in an ice water bath.

With all of the cooking I’ve done, you would imagine that I might have done this before.

 Nope. Never. But it worked like a charm.

The tomatoes are sautéed with olive oil and garlic, and then simmered for 15 minutes before you purée them.

This recipe made a LOT of dirty dishes.

But it was so worth it! I strained the final product through a sieve to get rid of the seeds and I realized that my tomato sauce was pretty thin. Kind of like soup. A taste confirmed that I should absolutely eat this by the spoonful.


I realize that the soup looks very orange, but I blame much of that on my maroon countertops. You’ve helped me with soup, Martha. Now help me replace my countertops!


Thursday Thoughts, XXXIII

1. Am I doing Roman numerals wrong? XXXIII seems like a very hard way of saying 33.

2. J Man lost his first tooth.


 It fell out on the trampoline- I guess he just bounced it right out.

3.  Matty B and I are performing an experiment.

 Can you guess?

4. Matty B was cleaning the garage and found this little gem.

Translation: the Leen Detectives, no job too big or too small. Call us anytime, 276-911, Agent Holley Leen

I apparently fancied myself a detective at the ripe old age of 8? 9?

You’ll recall that we’ve moved into grandma and grandpa’s old house and it made me happy that they saved this. I mean, they kept it in the garage, but still they saved it.

5. We went mini-golfing a really long time ago (like, June) but I love this photo and I wanted to show it to you.

We are obviously pros.


What’s new? The “B” edition

I last posted on July 19. This is becoming an alarming trend.

I make no promises for the future. However, I wanted to tell you what’s new. And the letter of the week is “B”.

We went to a baseball game. Only Walla Walla would have an onion as their mascot. 

We went to the beach. Contrary to what these pictures lead you to believe, we went with 1000 people.

We’ve picked blackberries and blueberries and huckleberries and   cherries. Delish.

And because all good summers deserve burgers and fries, we’ve done that.

And some roasted veg (carrots, squash, pepper, turnip and eggplant) to balance it all out.

I have a number of excuses for ignoring you recently which include Twitter (I’m learning to tweet. Follow me at holleybryantwwu.) and countless work trips. 

The real reason for my absence?

Baseball games, beach trips, berries and burgers. 

What’s your “B”?

Huckleberry Pie Ice Cream

My parents have a cabin in the mountains, about 40 minutes from our house. It’s pretty great. In the winter, we almost always have the opportunity for a white Christmas because even if it’s dry down in the valley, there’s almost always snow on the mountain. And in the summer, when it’s 95 degrees in the valley…

…it’s cooler on the mountain. 

So we went. Just for a few hours. And lo and behold, the huckleberries were on like mad. Of course we picked some. And I kept thinking, we’d better leave some for everyone else, but we barely made a dent. The bushes were absolutely overflowing.

So I made huckleberry pancakes this morning. 

There are huckleberries in there- I promise.

And then I made huckleberry ice cream.

Ok, I made vanilla bean ice cream.

Like, real vanilla bean ice cream.

And then I added huckleberries.

And that was good.

But I promised you huckleberry pie ice cream.

I’ll always choose a graham cracker crust over regular pie crust any day.

If I had it to do over again, I wouldn’t re-freeze the ice cream after the initial freeze. It made the berries too hard and crunchy.

If I had it to do over again, I wouldn’t share. 

Now, what else can I put huckleberries in? Oatmeal? Obviously. Maybe a smoothie? 

Or, I could just make more ice cream…

Texas food

I was talking to a friend the other day, and she mentioned that she can remember specific details about the day she realized she liked food. Meaning, up until that point in her life, food had been a way to survive, but wasn’t necessarily an enjoyable part of her life experience.

I absolutely cannot relate. Maybe because I come from a family of good cooks. Maybe because of the existence of peanut butter. Whatever the case, I’ve always loved food.

Today’s post is a testament to this fact because the only photos I took in Texas were pictures of food. Mine, mostly. If you don’t care about what a vegetarian eats in Texas, peace out. Come back tomorrow.

Otherwise, let the cheese eating begin…


Cheesecake Factory salad: Asparagus, Green Beans, Tomato, Cucumber, Roasted Beets, Apple, Edamame, Radicchio, Romaine and White Cheddar All Chopped with Pomegranate Vinaigrette. 

Grade: A

Falafel platter from Pasha Mediterranean Grille. 

Grade: A-

Veggie fajitas from Rosario’s Mexican restaurant. 

Grade: C+

Burgerfi fries with garlic aioli

Grade: A++

Salad from an Italian restaurant on the riverwalk. It was a 60 minute wait at Rainforest Cafe and we went next door and got great food with zero wait.

Grade: A-

Protein salad from a 100% vegetarian restaurant called Green Vegetarian Cuisine. We visited at least twice because we loved their food so much.

Grade: A+

My favorite meal of the entire trip was at a location that I can’t remember the name of and I don’t even have a receipt because my friend Lisa treated. We basically ordered one of every side dish on the menu and shared, tapas style. Dishes included hot goat cheese, stuffed portabellos, grilled eggplant, polenta, roasted asparagus, corn salad and macaroni and cheese.

Grade: A+++

A big surprise was how much I enjoyed Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, especially since I only had salad. But their salads were gooood and their bread was better. I ate here twice, once by myself which I’ve never done before. The second time I had this salad:

I was grumpy because it seemed small, but it was delish.

Grade: A

 Our final meal out (we thought) was at La Fonda, the oldest Mexican restaurant in San Antonio. A friend and I each ordered a dish and then split. The spinach enchiladas above were our favorite.

Grade: B+

And then we tried to go home. And even though we arrived 2+ hours ahead of our scheduled departure, we missed our flight after standing in line 4 hours. We were mad. And hungry. And talk of French toast kept us sane. But then when we arrived at IHOP, (we were desperate- don’t judge) the blackberry peach cobbler pancakes were calling my name and I answered and drowned my sorrows in pancakes and eggs.

Grade: A-

The final FINAL hurrah was Beecher’s famous macaroni and cheese in the Seattle airport. I’ve been known to eat this for breakfast and it never disappoints.

Grade: A

Of course this isn’t a complete list. Add to this collection a tub of Greek yogurt in my hotel fridge for breakfast, some disappointing General Tso’s tofu from the mall food court and about 1 million cups of coffee.

As always, there’s no place like home.

Thursday Thoughts, XXXII

1. The stripes addiction continues.

San Antonio might be humid and also smell faintly of urine, but they’ve got some great shopping. Interestingly enough, I was drawn to all these stripes, but the only thing I purchased from this selection was the lavender sweater. Maybe because my wardrobe is already predominantly stripes and I need to branch out.

2. I’m trying to figure out Twitter.

And I’m already stuck. This is what happens when a 35 year old tries to (stay, get, become) cool. Who am I kidding? Middle aged Twitter is the opposite of cool.

3. I’ve found a dessert that I don’t like.

Tres leches cake. Have you tried it? The texture weirded me out, but I’m also the girl who won’t eat pumpkin pie because it reminds me of baby food, so this is probably no surprise. I found this delicacy to be chunky and soggy. Sure looks pretty, though!

4. My kiddos loved hanging out with their new baby cousin.

Yet, ask either of them if they’d rather have a new baby or a cat, and they’ll immediately start picking out kitty names. 

5. Someone get this girl a haircut.

Or, a brush will do as well…

Well, hello there

Much has happened since I last wrote. Don’t take it personally. It’s not because I stopped loving you. It’s just because of…


But if you’ve been curious, here’s my life in the past 14 days:

J Man has a loose tooth. This is the most exciting thing that has ever happened to him. Also, he frequently uses the word “outraged” to describe everything from daddy saying “no smoothie today” to Miss Rae cutting in front of him on the slide.

Miss Rae informed me tonight that she does NOT want her hair cut by a boy because “boys make me crazy! I just go wild around boys!”

Pray for me. And Matty B.

Speaking of my handsome husband, he completely disregarded my thoughtful comments regarding his facial hair and grew a bushy beard.

And then I came home after a 14 day business trip and he cut it off. Good man.

Finally, these are some mesmerizing circles as seen from 30,000 feet on American Airlines. I’ve been in Texas for a long time and the adventures were many, but there’s no place like home.

I hope to say “hello” a little more frequently. 

A. I’m home and that makes life easier.

B. For two weeks I’ve been subsisting on restaurant fare and I’m itching to get into the kitchen.

Because this is a deep fried avocado and that seems healthy compared to many of my recent meals.