This morning I discovered a contest to win a gorgeous apron! I think I’d look pretty cute cooking in this apron…

Heck, Jarrod would look cute in it too! 😉

Want to win the apron for yourself? (Or to give to me for my birthday next month?) You can enter the contest too!

I recently learned of a new travel site that also donates to charity for folks who help them advertise! Hotels Combined has created a special incentive program in which they donate to specific charities when their organization is mentioned. Here’s how they describe the process on their website:

We’ve built a great service now we want people to know about it… We thought; let’s donate to charity every time someone helps us spread the word. This way, we can then benefit from your word of mouth (or mouse in this case) whilst at the same time being able to donate what we normally would have had to spend on advertising!

The Details: For every person that blogs, tweets, or joins their fan page on facebook, $20, $10, or $5 will be donated to Susan G. Komen 3-day for the Cure. Take a couple minutes of your time to spread the word about Hotels Combined and help me reach my fundraising goal!

To donate $5: All you need to do is joins their fan page on facebook and comment here (or e-mail me at leannethewalker(at)gmail(dot)com) to let me know. That will donate $5 to Susan G. Komen 3-day for the Cure.

To donate $10: Tweet about Hotels Combined. Be sure to mention me in the tweet so I can add you to my list! (@leannejohnston) Here’s a sample tweet:

Check out HotelsCombined.com! I’m spreading the word for them and supporting @leannejohnston and #the3day!

To donate $20: Blog about Hotels Combined. Doesn’t have to be anything long or complicated. Just mention them in a blog post and either comment here with the URL or send the URL to me at leannethewalker(at)gmail(dot)com.

To donate $35: Do all three!

Questions? Comments? Leave them here or e-mail me at leannethewalker(at)gmail(dot)com.

I’m sorry it’s been so long since we updated, but it’s been pretty crazy lately! It started February 11th when Jarrod and I took another cooking class. If you’ll remember, my dad and Marie got us a cooking class for our wedding. The gift was such a hit that they got us another class for Christmas! We decided to redeem our prize for Valentine’s Day and enjoyed a delicious meal. Sadly, I did not get any pictures, but we did enjoy a great class with the incredible Frank Brigtsen. We made a delicious spinach and oyster soup, roasted duck with corn bread stuffing, and pecan pie. I’m sad I didn’t take pictures; it was really magnificent.

The very next night was our first REAL Slidell Mardi Gras parade, Selene. It was complete with a crawfish and shrimp boil. Courtney and I enjoyed our first real parade and got LOTS of beads! It was VERY cold, but we had fun with our church friends and their camper. 🙂

On Saturday night Jarrod kicked me out for 6 hours while he cooked a delicious meal! While he cooked, I enjoyed time with my sister. We went to lunch with our cousin, Jason, who was in town for Mardi Gras. Courtney taught me how to crochet and we ran errands. It was nice to spend time together. Before long, it was time for me to head back to a clean house and a very sweet husband. Jarrod cooked tuna with pesto, lemon butter green beans with pine nuts, and vanilla whipped cream for dessert. We danced together, sang songs, and enjoyed a quiet early Valentine’s night at home.

On Sunday afternoon we headed to the airport to pick up my college friend Robin! She was in town from DC for Mardi Gras. We went straight from the airport to the French Quarter for dinner and the Bacchus parade. We had a good dinner and the evening was an experience. The quarter was a little more crowded than anything I’d ever seen and was totally crazy. Not exactly our speed, but definitely an experience. We saw Drew Brees and now have dubloons with his face on them. Robin got to see the French Quarter as it was intended, crazy and insane. We got to catch up with our cousin again, which was the highlight of the evening. We headed home after a near death experience and feeling very gross. I showered with my clothes on when I got home.

On Monday morning I woke up early for work while everyone else slept. It had been a late night the night before and I was thankful to be able to work in my jammies. After my shift, Courtney and I introduced Robin to a unique Slidell establishment before getting ready for a few more parades in the city. Our experience on Lundi Gras was very different than Sunday. We ate dinner potluck style at a church with some great people and dear friends. When it came time for parades, we just went outside and caught beads. The parades were incredible and we saw some super fun people. By the end of the night, we had bags of beads, stuffed animals, cups, and dubloons. We saw the Vince Lombardi Trophy and Sean Peyton. A successful night!

Tuesday morning began much like Monday, but my voice was getting more and more hoarse from screaming for beads. (Sidenote: beads are not obtained from any kind of exposure, but rather screaming and jumping.) I worked while my family slept. After my shift, we all loaded up int he car and went to the French Quarter. Really we just wanted beignets. Sadly, we never got to Cafe Du Monde because we were stuck in such incredible traffic. Because the entire city closes down for Mardi Gras, everyone went to the city early. We didn’t get there until about 2pm. After sitting in traffic for hours, we went back to Slidell for dinner and dominoes at home. Not a bad time, just not what we’d planned. Better than the alternative, though!

Robin left on Wednesday afternoon and Thursday, Friday, and Saturday were spent cleaning, watching TV and relaxing from the crazy beginning of the week! It’s Sunday now and things are starting to get back to normal. Between the play-off game, the Superbowl, and Mardi Gras, life hasn’t really had much regularity to it.

But now we are in the season of Lent and Jarrod’s life is pretty busy at church. I’m starting a Lenten study on the United Methodist Social Principles tonight and I’m pretty excited. Sadly, so many Methodists don’t know about the Book of Discipline or Social Principles and I’m hoping to change that while also encouraging discussion on some deep social issues. Hopefully it will be well attended and we get some good discussion going!

So that’s what we’ve been doing. Sorry there aren’t more pictures. We’ll be home for the next couple of days, just working and hanging out…Then Thursday we’re headed to Phoenix! My aunt and her family live out there and we’re excited to see everyone. My grandma and cousins weren’t able to make it to the wedding, so they haven’t met Jarrod. And I haven’t met my cousin’s husband or either of her kiddos! Exciting times!

It’s been a crazy past few days. I promise to write recaps on our delicious cooking class, super awesome local Mardi Gras parade, and are successful, moderately successful, and not at all successful trips into NOLA. Want to read a little more? Head over to my 3-day blog to see more of what I’ve been up to!

I’m sorry I haven’t been blogging over here very regularly. I do blog frequently over at my 3-day blog, so be sure to check things out over there!

Football is not an altogether important sport to the Louisiana Johnstons. Jarrod does love his Cowboys and I am from Philadelphia and thus cannot cheer for anyone but the Eagles. In spite of these facts, somewhere over the past few months, we’ve become Saints fans. The Sunday of the last play-off game Jarrod wore a black dress shirt and a gold tie to church. Courtney and I purchased Saints shirts a few weeks ago in preparation of having something to wear on Superbowl Sunday to church. We have been anxiously awaiting the Superbowl in hopes that this year is the year of the Saints!

Last night Courtney, a friend, Jarrod, and I made snack food and cheered on the Saints as they beat the Colts! It’s an exciting time to be in this area and we’re thrilled to share in the magic. Our allegiances are still in Dallas and Philadelphia, but for now, we are Saints fans!

We’re thrilled that our first Mardi Gras as a married couple (and Courtney and my first Mardi Gras in NOLA!) will be the first year the Saints won the Superbowl. The next couple of weeks are sure to be fun! My friend Robin is coming to visit for Mardi Gras and we are planning to take a few trips to the French Quarter, see lots of parades, and have a great time.

I had such an incredible experience doing the Komen 3-Day for the Cure the last two years that I’m going back for more. One person is diagnosed with breast cancer every three minutes in the United States. In the time it takes you to read this letter, at least one more person will experience a diagnosis. In order to create a world without breast cancer, I have decided to walk again in 2010. The Susan G. Komen 3-day for the Cure is a 60-mile walk over the course of three days that raises funds for breast cancer research and community programs. Because of gracious donations from friends and family, I have raised over $4,600 in 2008 and 2009.

This year I was compelled to take a bigger step in finding a cure for (breast) cancer and will be walking in TWO 3-day events in 2010. That means I will walk 120 miles over two (separate) weekends this fall and will raise $4,600 between now and November. My first walk is in Atlanta on October 22-24, 2010. Just two weeks later, I will travel to Dallas to walk with my team, The Rack Pack. I will continue to walk until breast cancer is no longer a threat. During the toughest parts of the walk, I am inspired by those who have battled, are battling, and those who have lost their battle with (breast) cancer. I also invite you to send me the names of loved ones that I can remember and honor as I walk.

Please consider making a donation to help me reach my goal of $2,300 for each event. You can do so by going to my website: http://www.the3day.org/goto/LeanneJohnston. Many companies have matching gifts programs, so please ask your employer if they will double (or triple!) your donation with a matching gift.

If you have any questions or want to hear more about what I’m doing, check out my blog at http://leannethewalker.blogspot.com. I will be writing about my 2010 journey to 120 miles throughout the year. You can also read about my experiences in 2008 and 2009. That website also has all the information you will need to make an online donation, learn about matching donations, and register to walk with me.

Thanks for all of your support.

Love,
Leanne Johnston

Jarrod and I used to love pizza nights. Either Thursday or Friday nearly every week we would make our own pizza. Each week it was something different… We’d use left-over chicken, alfredo and a cheddar blend or mushrooms, marinara, and mozzarella. We always looked forward to pizza nights. We’ve tried the gluten-free pizza dough but it’s just not the same. Since we learned of Jarrod’s gluten-intolerance, pizza nights about died….

Until we saw Rachael Ray make Portobello Pizzas! She made them as an appetizer, but we decided we could easily make them as a meal and reinstate pizza night! (Although not as often as mushroom caps are more pricey than pizza dough!) If you want to see what Rachael did, click on the above link. If you want to see what Jarrod and Leanne did, keep reading. We made a few minor adjustments to fit our life.

  • 4 large portobello mushroom tops, stems removed and gills scraped and reserved
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, for liberal drizzling plus 1 tablespoon
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound turkey sausage (not in casing)
  • 3 roma tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup half & half
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup frozen spinach

Directions

Preheat broiler.

Dress the mushroom caps with liberal drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Broil the portobello mushrooms 5 minutes on each side until tender.

While caps are broiling heat 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat, add sausage and brown and crumble the meat, then add spinach, garlic, mushroom gills, and tomatoes to skillet and cook another few minutes. Add half & half to skillet and reduce 2 to 3 minutes more. Remove the sausage from heat. The original recipe did not include the gills or spinach. We loved the tastes that both of these ingredients added. It also made the sauce go that much further. We had lots of extra!

Fill mushroom caps and top with cheese, place under broiler to brown 2 to 3 minutes.

Absolutely delicious. If you like mushrooms, this is definitely a great recipe. If you don’t like mushrooms, don’t add the gills to the sauce. 🙂

My plate of deliciousness.