A League City kitchen is integral part of life for young family
Jennifer and Gardy Garcia have the ultimate family kitchen thanks to its open plan design and huge, 14-foot island.
The Garcias designed the kitchen together when they first purchased their League City home five years ago.
“I was excited for about the first 30 to 40 minutes, and then I was just overwhelmed, so Jennifer took the lead,” Gardy joked.
Jennifer had helped her sister design her kitchen and was excited to incorporate all she had learned in the design of her own. She’s proud of the final design, which puts the kitchen at the heart of the home.
“We eat at the island all the time and we like to cook with our children, so the kitchen works perfectly for that,” she said. “Also, it’s in the middle of everything, so I can see and hear them playing all the time.”
Gardy manages operations for KHEA Radio, a Christian music station with positive programming, while Jennifer runs the music program at Abundant Life Church in La Marque, and looks after their three children Kellen, 8, River, 4, and Luca, 18, months.
Music is a big part of family life. Gardy sings and plays several instruments, Jennifer sings and plays piano, and the children are learning drums and guitar.
Cooking is another love. Jennifer and Gardy include their children in food preparation and even host a fun cooking show on YouTube for KHEA.
Both are happy with the kitchen’s many design features and how integral it is to family life. Jennifer loves how there’s plenty of storage for all the accoutrements that go with having young children, while Gardy is proud of the floor-to-ceiling trifold door that opens out to the patio and yard where he grills and the children play.
The island has a brown-and-white granite top and stainless-steel sink complete with a hot-and-cold spigot Jennifer uses daily for filtered water for the children and boiling water for her tea. The countertop across from the island is a white quartz countertop by Silestone. Backsplash tiles are a creamy white glass, and the custom cabinets are a dark espresso color continuing the brown-and-white theme enlivened by the stainless-steel double sink and Whirlpool appliances.
The large walk-in pantry means the family is never out of staples. The butler’s pantry is a multi-use space connecting the kitchen to the dining room. Jennifer keeps arts-and-crafts supplies there making both play and cleanup a real breeze. A bank of glass-fronted cabinets showcases Jennifer’s salt and pepper shaker collection and other special pieces of crockery.
“We love our main kitchen, but we also live in the butler’s pantry because it has our toaster, microwave and toaster oven,” she said. “It is great for heating leftovers and for cooking tortillas and chicken nuggets, which the children love.”
Gardy and Jennifer have been married seven years. But they first met when he was 10 years old, and she was 9. Great friends at school, they spent plenty of time at each other’s houses, especially over holidays. They like to share cooking duties, and at Thanksgiving, they love to make sides and desserts for their family celebrations.
“Gardy likes to follow recipes to the letter, but I like to experiment and play around because that’s how my mom and grandmother cooked,” Jennifer said.
When it comes to Thanksgiving, Gardy has no complaints about Jennifer’s green bean casserole, which includes both pork rinds and bacon, and her Oreo ice-box cake that’s free of both gluten and dairy.
GREEN BEAN CASSEROLE
2 (14.5-ounce) cans of green beans
1 (14.5-ounce) can French-style green beans
1 (10.5-ounce) can of condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 (10.5-ounce) can of condensed chicken soup
2 slices of bacon, cooked to be crispy
1 handful of pork rinds (the Garcias recommend pork rinds from Texas Pit Stop BBQ in La Marque)
Put the cans of green beans and soup into an 11-inch casserole dish.
Sprinkle crushed pork rinds into casserole. Bake at 350 F for 35 minutes or until bubbling.
Crush bacon and more pork rinds. Add to top of casserole and bake for another 5 minutes or until golden brown.
OREO ICE-BOX CAKE
(Inspired by the Pioneer Woman’s recipe)
1 box (9 ounces) gluten-free Oreo cookies
1 cup powdered sugar
2 (16-ounce) containers of Silk Dairy Free Heavy Whipping Cream Alternative
1 teaspoon vanilla
Whisk the heavy cream and powdered sugar until stiff. Add vanilla.
Crush one-third of the wafers by hand or with a rolling pin inside a resealable plastic bag until they become coarse crumbs. Set aside.
In a round, 9-inch springform pan, layer in one-third of the whipped cream, smoothing evenly with a spatula. Then layer half of the remaining cookies close to each other, then one-third more of the whipped cream, then the remaining whole cookies and finally top with the rest of the whipped cream. Garnish the top of cake with the crushed wafers.
Cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours.
Run a paring knife around the springform pan and release the wall of the pan from around the cake. Leave the cake on the bottom of the pan and transfer to a serving dish or cake stand, then slice and serve.