This summer, many Texans and Darling Homes residents in Houston and Dallas are planting gardens as a way to experience delicious homegrown food from their very own backyard.
Houston and Dallas are in different planting zones, meaning different types of produce grow better when planted at different times, but both zones grow a variety of fruits and vegetables well throughout the hot summer months.
In Houston, June and July create the perfect planting season for eggplant, melon, okra, peas, peppers, potatoes, sweet potatoes, watermelon and pumpkins, according to the The Old Farmer’s Almanac planting calendar. For summer cooking, these Houston-friendly crops make great side dishes to any meal. Peas, watermelon and peppers are perfect for seasonal salads. Harvest Green, a community in the Houston area, is labeled as an “Agri-hood” where residents have access to goods grown in a community farm, making agriculture a central theme of the neighborhood.
Similar to Houston, the Dallas planting calendar lists okra, onion, potatoes, sweet potatoes, watermelon, eggplant, melon, peas, peppers and pumpkin as ready to plant. Harvesting all of these in both Texas cities continue throughout the fall months as vegetables become ripe, though the growing time is different for each one.
To help your plants grow and increase your yield, there are a few tips and tricks for beginners that can help gardeners of every skill level. These delicious crops can be kept in separate pots or in one communal garden, depending on how many different plants you’d like to maintain throughout the year. Depending on how many different plants and what types you’d like to grow, creating a designated space for a garden bed for items such as watermelons or pumpkins, or planting in a series of pots for smaller items including herbs and peas, can create a manageable garden space in your backyard.
HGTV put together a list of tips for gardeners, including helpful guidance on cleaning pots, how to use garden tools and even how to get dirt out from underneath your fingernails after tending to the plants. From start to finish, gardening requires a lot of patience and care to produce healthy, flourishing plants.
Gardening can also have unexpected health benefits, including mood-boosting, decreasing risk of dementia and combating loneliness.
Do you have a Texas garden or want to start one? Check out our list of Lone Star State-friendly recipes and garden spaces for Houston and Dallas and let us know what recipes you love to make with your home-grown food.
Beginning in early June and continuing through the rest of the month, Sienna Plantation is hosting Food Truck Fridays.
Darling Homes residents at Avalon at Sienna Plantation are welcome to partake in this delicious weekly event taking place from 5-9 p.m. every Friday. The fun doesn’t stop at Avalon at Sienna Plantation, with food truck events taking place throughout the Houston and Dallas areas throughout the summer for Texans to enjoy. This would be a good opportunity to say something about our communities and the ability to enjoy these types of events or simply a closing remark like “ everyone can experience the innovative twist on dining al fresco”.
On Friday evenings at Sienna Plantation, the Sawmill Lake model home park is being transformed into a foodie’s paradise. With a changing lineup of food trucks accompanied by live music performances, this free event is open to all ages looking to satisfy their appetite and enjoy a night out with neighbors and friends.
The fun doesn’t end in June. Food truck fans can look forward to the Houston Food Fest on August 18. This celebration will bring together over 100 different cuisine options, from food trucks, to local restaurants and vendors. From noon to 10 p.m., Houstonians will delight in sampling a wide variety of provisions from local artisans.
Dallas is no stranger to the food truck frenzy. With websites like Roaming Hunger and Food Trucks In, foodies can easily find their favorite mobile meals throughout the area.
On Saturdays throughout the summer, different trucks gather at Klyde Warren Park from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Dallas-area families, socialites and all taste buds in between are welcome to try out new local cuisine and relax at the 5.2 acre park. A selection of trucks for upcoming weekends are kept posted on their event page, letting locals know which mobile restaurants will be rolling in.
With food trucks serving up delectable treats from coffee to ice cream, pizza to BBQ and everything in between, Darling Homes residents in Houston and Dallas will delight in the incredible range of options to try out this summer at a local food truck.
Are you hosting the holidays this year? We’ve put together a roundup of holiday recipes shared by our own Darling Homes team members that are sure to make your next holiday gathering a hit.
Meet Anita Jantz
Food and family were key ingredients in Anita’s childhood. Growing up in South Louisiana, Anita spent much of her time with her 12 aunts and uncles, gaining some of her fondest memories in the kitchen. A highlight of her youth was the time she spent with her uncle, a retired cook who worked on a Navy submarine. He taught her recipes like sauce piquant, etouffee and jambalaya and lifelong lessons she holds dear.
“I’m thankful for the lessons I was taught, like to always put others first,” Anita said. “To this day I still love to cook and spend time with my family.”
Anita’s Favorite Thanksgiving Dish: Simply Irresistible Shrimp and Corn Chowder
Ingredients, 8-10 servings
1 pound peeled shrimp
1 tablespoon Creole seasoning
2 medium-sized potatoes, peeled and diced (optional)
½ cup chopped onions
½ cup chopped celery
1 clove of garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon parsley flakes
¼ cup butter
¼ cup flour
2 cups whole milk
2 cups half and half
1 15-ounce can whole kernel corn, drained
1 15-ounce can cream style corn
Salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon paprika
First, season shrimp with Creole seasoning and set aside. Next, boil potatoes in water until slightly tender, drain and set aside.
In a saucepan, sauté onions, celery, garlic and parsley flakes with butter until golden brown. Then, add shrimp and continue to sauté until the shrimp is light pink. Add flour and continue to sauté until mixture thickens.
In a 5-quart pot, combine milk, half and half, both cans of corn, salt and pepper and Creole seasoning to taste. Cook on low heat for 20 to 30 minutes, or until reaching desired consistency. If mixture is too thick, add water to thin out.
Finally, garnish with paprika and enjoy!
Meet Brenda DeRemer
Each year, Brenda celebrates Thanksgiving with family, food and football.
Growing up in Michigan, she and her family would begin the day watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and then gather for an amazing Thanksgiving feast at noon. After filling up on their favorite dishes, the family would gather in the living room to watch football for the rest of the afternoon. It’s a special day filled with treasured traditions and memories that Brenda looks forward to each year.
“We have a very large family and lots of cousins,” Brenda said. “All the cousins together spelled nothing but trouble and guaranteed fun.”
Now, as a Texas resident, Brenda continues to carry on the holiday traditions while reminiscing about Thanksgivings past.
Here is Brenda’s most frequently requested holiday recipe: Sweet Potato Casserole
3 cups mashed sweet potatoes (not canned)
1 cup sugar
2 eggs lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ cup milk
½ cup melted butter
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup flour
⅓ cup melted butter
1 cup chopped pecans
First, prepare a 1½- to 2-quart casserole dish with cooking spray and set aside. In a large mixing bowl, combine cooked, mashed sweet potatoes, sugar, eggs, vanilla, milk and melted butter. Next, pour the mixture into the casserole dish.
For the topping, combine brown sugar, flour, melted butter and chopped pecans. Sprinkle over the top of the mixture.
Finally, bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes or until cooked throughout and the top is lightly brown. Enjoy!
Meet Fanny Almanza
As a busy mom of three, Fanny loves making her homemade hot chocolate recipe that’s as simple as it is delicious. Best served with French bread for dipping, this sweet treat is a recipe she enjoyed as a little girl and now makes for her children during the holidays.
“I remember my mom would make my siblings and me hot chocolate after playing in the snow during one of Texas’ very rare snow days,” Fanny said. “I now make it for my children whether there’s snow or not, and I love watching them enjoy it as much as I did.”
4 cups milk
1 tablet Mexican Chocolate Abuelita
Sugar to taste
In a saucepan, add the milk and chocolate. Turn the stove on to medium heat and stir until milk is bubbling or approximately 10 to 15 minutes.
Serve with a cinnamon stick and French bread for dipping.
Meet Henry Valenzuela
As a child, Henry learned to cook from his mother and while watching Julia Child on PBS during the 70s. Today, Henry and his significant other Teresa love to cook and even grow their own vegetables and herbs, plus raise backyard chickens.
Needless to say, Henry and his family are avid foodies and have created special traditions and memories while cooking in the kitchen.
Buñuelos have been in Henry’s family for generations, a delicious dessert they enjoy every year during the holidays.
“We’ve made this recipe every Christmas Eve since I was a young kid,” Henry said. “Some people have sugar cookies, but I always had Buñuelos.”
However, the roasted pecans recipe is a recent tradition that’s become a popular request in his family.
Those looking for a sweet treat to serve during the holidays, experiment with these delicious indulgences shared by Henry.
Ingredients for Buñuelos
½ cup sugar
½ teaspoon cinnamon
3 cups All-Purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
¾ cup milk
¼ cup lard or butter, melted
2 beaten eggs
Shortening or Canola oil for frying
First, mix ¼ cup of sugar and ¼ teaspoon of cinnamon and set aside. In a separate bowl, mix flour, baking powder, salt and remaining sugar and cinnamon together and set aside.
In a saucepan, heat milk and butter to a boil and let cool. Then, stir in beaten eggs. Add flour mixture and mix well.
Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface for 2 to 3 minutes or until smooth. Next, shape the dough into small balls (1-1½ inches). Cover dough balls and let rest for 5 minutes.
Then, roll each ball into a flat circle, making them as thin as possible without tearing. Then spread them on a clean and dry counter area.
Next, heat oil or shortening till hot (approximately 375 degrees) and fry the flattened dough balls on both sides. Be sure to keep an eye on them as they will fry quickly.
Remove them from the oil and drain on a paper towel. Immediately sprinkle with the cinnamon and sugar mixture.
Ingredients for Sugar Roasted Pecans
1 egg white
1 teaspoon water
1 pound pecans
1 cup sugar
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
First, preheat the oven to 225 degrees. In a large bowl, beat egg white and water until frothy. Then stir in pecans until well coated.
In a small bowl mix sugar, salt and cinnamon. Pour mixture over the pecans and toss to coat.
Next, bake the sugar-coated pecans on a greased baking sheet. Bake for one hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Let cool and enjoy!
Do you have a special recipe you prepare for the holidays? Share with us on Facebook or Twitter @DarlingHomesDFW!
With warm spring weather just around the corner, it’s the perfect time to enjoy your Easter brunch outdoors. Darling Homes’model home at The Woodlands, Jaden Oaks features a spacious courtyard with plenty of room to dine and entertain in luxury.
The Woodlands, Jaden Oaks
The Woodlands, Jaden Oaks
For your drink menu, treat guests to an array of freshly squeezed juices, iced teas and chilled cocktails. Then, delve into warm, fluffy scones and pastries for a decadent appetizer as you put the final touches on the main course.
Want to dazzle your guests? We suggest trying this Carrot Cake Scone topped with Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting from Broma Bakery.
First, preheat the oven to 400°F and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
Next, mix together flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, spices and slowly add in cold butter until blended.
Sprinkle in grated carrot, coconut, walnuts or pecans and raisins to the mixture then roll the dough into a flat surface and cut into equal wedges.
As the dough is baking in the oven for 18 minutes, prepare the coconut cream cheese frosting by combining all of the ingredients into a mixer until blended thoroughly into a rich, creamy frosting.
Finally, frost the warm scones and top with a dash of coconut.
Imagine preparing your Easter brunch in a Darling Homesgourmet kitchen with expansive center islands and plenty of counter space for an exquisite spread.
First, season the beans by sauteeing onion, garlic and varied Mexican spices then lightly brush the skillets with a layer of olive oil.
Lightly toast either side of the tortillas and brush with olive oil for a crispy taste and toasty aroma then lay it across the bottom of the skillet.
Separate the bean mixture among the skillets then crack the eggs on top and sprinkle with salt, pepper and your choice of cheese before placing the skillets into a 400°F oven for 10-15 minutes.
Finally, garnish with fresh avocado slices, cilantro, tomato and a hint of lime juice.
For those craving a sweet confection, a fresh batch of Breslin’s ricotta pancakes with notes of tangy orange zest is sure to appeal. We recommend this recipe by Food & Wine.
First, prepare the orange syrup by peeling the zest from an orange into long strips. Boil water in a large saucepan and blanch the zest then simmer orange juice, sugar, water and blanched zest until you have a thick, syrupy texture.
For the pancakes, whisk flour, cornmeal, sugar, salt, baking powder and baking soda. In another bowl, mix buttermilk, egg yolks and ricotta.
Next, fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and beat egg whites until stiff, then fold the beaten egg whites into the batter.
Once you have your pancake batter, brush a thin layer of vegetable oil onto a cast-iron skillet and cook pancakes until fluffy then top with syrup.
For side dishes, stick with simple and delicious, like crispy bacon, sausage and assorted fresh fruits.
Like what you see? Visit our Pinterest page for more Easter inspiration and recipes.
Known as The City With No Limits, Houston is America’s fastest-growing metropolis and is the place to be this spring with world-renowned festivals you won’t want to miss.
Need an insider’s view on where to go and what to do? The folks at Darling Homes have put together great insider tips to help you get the most out of each experience, from Houston’s famous Livestock Show and Rodeo in March to its exciting Dragon Boat Festival in May.
Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo
The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, from March 1 – 20, is one of Houston’s signature events. Held at NRG Stadium, this 20-day long festival of classic Southern fun benefits the youth of Texas, supports education and improves agricultural practices. With a variety of fun entertainment, from an exhilarating bull riding show to a parade and children’s carnival, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo offers events and activities fit for every age!
5 Great Things to Do
See rodeo entertainment with cowboys and cowgirls competing in tie-down roping, bareback riding, team roping, saddle bronc riding, steer wrestling and more.
Indulge in Southern cooking from smoked meats, brisket, chicken and a Dutch oven dessert from Chuck Wagon and Houston’s Rockin’ Bar-B-Que Saloon.
Experience Houston’s Premier Horse Show and see beautiful horse breeds compete in world champion events that is sure to surprise and delight.
Enjoy kid-friendly activities and entertainment including a children’s carnival, pony rides and a petting zoo.
Stick around for exciting concerts every night performed by country and pop superstars like Jason Aldean, Miranda Lambert, Luke Bryan, Darius Rucker, Brad Paisley, Keith Urban and so many more.
If you’re looking for a fun-filled day of great music, delicious food and lively entertainment, visit www.rodeohouston.com for tickets and more information.
Mcdonald’s Houston Children’s Festival
Celebrating its 28th year on April 23 – 24, the Mcdonald’s Houston Children’s Festival offers fun for the whole family with music, entertainment, celebrity appearances and more than 300 activities that are sure to thrill your little ones. Dedicated to educating the public about child abuse and the purpose of Child Advocates, this event has quickly grown into one of Houston’s great fundraisers and charitable events.
5 Great Things to Do
See Baker Hughes’ Circus Town Zone with a giant space wheel, Cyr Spinning Wheel Acrobatics, trapeze stunts and a giant puppet palace for the kids to enjoy.
Indulge in a variety of delicious, family friendly food for sale and vendors.
Test your knowledge at the SABIC Super Science Zone with radical reactions, air adventures, a petting zoo and pony rides.
Ride on the festival’s giant swing and carrousel.
Take a tour through Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog or Gorton’s Smart & Crunchy Tour.
Guest Appearances from 2015 include Ronald McDonald, Disney Channel stars, Olivia Holt and Jordan Fisher, rising country singer, Kaylee Rutland and American Idol 2012 runner-up, Jessica Sanchez.
Houston is a great destination for weekends filled with artistic talents and energetic participants. Designed for those who enjoy creativity and cars, this unique event combines inventive artistry and automobiles to create this one-of-a-kind Art Car Parade on April 7 – 10.
5 Things to Do
See the Main Street Drag with eight unique caravans of brilliantly crafted art cars during the pre-parade art car convoy for a lively show.
Dress up for the Legendary Art Car Ball and enjoy live performances from The Suspects, Sam “Shake” Anderson, Gio Chamba and more.
Indulge in a delicious assortment of savory barbecue and beverages during the lively Art Car Ball.
Experience the official parade with nearly 300 art cars, bikes and motorized vehicles cruising the streets of Houston during the 29th Art Car Parade.
Delight in Houston’s Art Car Awards Ceremony where a panel of judges will honor and award the amazing talents and work from the art car artists.
For one weekend, Houston-area residents are invited to attend a celebration of fine arts and culture at the 45th Bayou City Art Festival, from April 29 – May 1, featuring more than 300 pieces of diverse artwork. While you’re there, meet the talented artists as you tour beautiful, outdoor galleries.
5 Great Things to See and Do
Experience Houston’s award-winning fine art festival featuring more than 300 pieces of beautiful artwork.
Enjoy live performances from local musical groups and artists performing during the festival.
Indulge in a delicious array of local foods from restaurant vendors including Indian, Chinese, BBQ and more.
Meet the talented artists behind the artwork as you tour diverse galleries.
Be a part of change. The Art Colony Association’s exceptional efforts and exciting festivals have raised approximately $3 million over the past 40 years to benefit local art and service organizations.
Ever wondered what a Texas Dragon Boat Race would be like? We’ve got you covered! Enjoy a full day of lively entertainment, Art Cars, delicious food trucks and, of course, Dragon Boating at Brooks Lake at Fluor from May 7 – 8. This fantastic event is a must-see!
5 Exciting Things to See and Do
See thrilling dragon boat races beginning every 15-20 minutes.
Eat a variety of delicious food and drinks from local vendors, including hot dogs, burgers and cheesesteaks from Bernie’s Burger Bus, Koagie Hots, Pho-jita and sweet treats from Yeti Sunshine.
Listen to live performances from local musical favorites.
Observe Chinese cultural practices and traditions, martial arts, dances, Chinese Yo-Yo and more.
Enjoy gorgeous views of Houston’s lush landscapes as dragon boats glide across the water against the Houston skyline.
Are you hosting the holidays at your house this year? Want to create the perfect holiday atmosphere for a get-together they’ll remember for years to come?
We’re sharing our favorite ideas for a holiday at home that will surprise and delight guests at every turn with an amazing menu and serving plan that will keep your guests happy and the party moving throughout the day!
First, you’ll dazzle them with your choice of an amazing appetizer that stimulates the senses with sensational presentation and tantalizing tastes that are sure to please.
Your guests are sure to gather ‘round and enjoy the feeling of harvest and home with a harvest-inspired vegetable platter that’s so good they’ll think you’ve hand-picked each delectable piece from your own garden.
An artisan cheese platter is sure-fire hit. With an assortment of dried and fresh fruits, rich cheeses and seasonal nuts, this spread is sure to be a guest favorite.
Have plenty of people to please? Serve an assorted appetizer platter that offers it all: fresh fruit, a selection of artisan cheeses and crackers, antipasto and roasted nuts!
Serve your appetizer and drinks in a central area that encourages guests to gather and mingle. An ideal location is a breakfast nook or kitchen island.
After appetizers, bring guests together in your formal dining area to enjoy a holiday dining experience that’s worth the wait. An elongated dining table with holiday tablescape decor that allows enough room to lay out each dish without causing clutter is ideal.
Your holiday dinner is a time for you to show off your cooking and style. Start with a first course that whets appetites and sets the stage for an amazing meal that’s sure to rank at the top for beauty and flavor.
Start by serving a delicious holiday soup recipe topped with a colorful garnish and warm your guests after their holiday travels.
Then wow them with this classic Thanksgiving turkey recipe with a twist, garnished with fresh greens, pomegranate slices or cranberries, and other flavorful fruits for a bold, decorative statement that’s as good as it looks.
Keep warm as the weather turns cooler with easy fall recipes made with our favorite fall ingredients. This is one of the simpler ways to make your home smell heavenly for the holidays.
This is the fall season in a skillet right here: Two kinds of cool-weather squash (butternut and kabocha) get a cozy blanket of breadcrumbs, parsley and cheesy goodness. Get this fall recipe.
When the weather gets chilly, there is nothing better than comfort foods like this hearty chowder. It’s easy to prepare, and the aroma of it will fill the air throughout your home and makes your mouth water.
We’re getting close to applesauce season, and if you’re in the mood for a little upgrade, then consider this exotic, but very easy, spiced apple chutney. This awesome sauce is super comforting and great for the holidays. Get this fall recipe at Rachel Ray Magazine.
Pear-Pecan Upside-Down Cake
Bosc pears step in for the usual pineapple or apple in this upside-down cake, which is made entirely in a slow cooker. Add the fruit, pour in the batter and then let the kitchen appliance handle the rest.
This Labor Day, throw a backyard bash filled with food and fun for all – because a day off is always a reason to celebrate! Here are some tips:
Select Your Venue: Host your get together at home or change up the scenery and pick another place to party. Many of Houston’s top communities including Bridgeland, Cross Creek Ranch, Cypress Creek Lakes and more feature beautiful outdoor spaces, clubhouses and pools where you can host your soirée.
Gather Your Guests:Labor Day is a busy weekend for everyone, so give your guests plenty of notice prior to the party. If you’re keeping it small with just a few close friends, give everyone a call to let them know your plans. For a bigger bash, go big and mail invitations.
Choose Your Menu:The Food Network has plenty of mouth-watering recipes to include in your Labor Day spread. From personal grilled pizzas and American-style potato salad to flank steak with balsamic barbecue sauce and Dijon chicken wings, your guests will leave craving more!
Determine Your Décor: Decide if you want to give your party a theme or keep it a casual get together. You can go all out with a patriotic theme or take Martha Stewart’s advice on decorating for a Labor Day bash and incorporate seersucker napkins and dip-dyed bamboo place mats.
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