A Very Domesticated Holiday

January 9, 2011 § 1 Comment

I was at Michael’s chatting with the cashier and I said to her “There really ought to be more holidays centered around baking and crafts!” Being a Michael’s employee, of course she couldn’t agree more.

I made this Christmas card using blank gift tags, a glue pen, and lots of glitter on a basic white card with a textured red background.

then I made another 50. I did not send out a single one. So if you’re one of my friends reading this- yours is in there somewhere. Merry Christmas.

Because the cost of Thanksgiving skyrocketed after I picked up cooking- my mother has limited my meal planning to the appetizer. Above is a puff pastry tart topped with brie, carmelized onions, and dried cranberries. And butter. Lots of butter.

Cake pop bouquet- the mason jar made the perfect container. The cake pops were red velvet on the inside, white candy melts on the outside, then rolled in crushed candy canes, inspired by this post on HWTM.

Presents wrapped Northwest style!

Hope you all had a very safe and Happy Holidays! Definitely sending out my Christmas cards early next time…

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My First Glamping Excursion

June 3, 2010 § 1 Comment

After pouring over the blogs I finally ventured out to have my own glamping adventure and boy was it a lot of work!! Granted most of my  supplies had to be bought and I learned some good lessons, the next time around should go much smoother.

Vintage candelabra- check. Tea lights in vintage mason jars- check. New oilcloth tablecloth- check.

Vintage wine goblets- check. And this genius invention they sit in was created for the sole purpose of staking wine glasses and a bottle into the ground for picnics and camping- Picnic Stix-$12.95 They were well used over the weekend.

My favorite part of the glamping had to be the morning mimosas.

Who wouldn’t want to wake up to this?

And I can’t leave out all of the amazing meals we had- caramelized onions cooked on the propane stove (my secret to to-die-for onions: fry them in equal amounts of butter and vegetable oil)

combined with grilled peppers, avocado, and crema (sour cream mixed with lime juice) made the best brunch fajitas.


Those onions combined with a little thinly sliced pear, thickly sliced brie, and chewy rustic bread made the perfect panini.

Grilled on the skillet (a giant non-stick frying pan and a propane stove were my BFF’s all weekend)

The panini’s came out even better than expected. We gave most of these away to our neighbors so we wouldn’t eat them all. Then we kicked ourselves for it.

Dried figs, sliced in half then topped with goat cheese and shredded fresh basil. This snack was really easy to make and didn’t dirty too many dishes.

Some of the lessons I learned- planning the menu beforehand is key but next time I will try to plan meals that use the same ingredients or use all of the ingredients. MOST of my little car was filled with groceries- 70% of which came back with us because I only used a little bit of everything.  Another option would have been to measure out what I needed beforehand- only packing what I needed.

Also- check in on your campgrounds to see if it will be a good spot for glamping. Our spot had a building with flush toilets, electrical plugs, and showers but last year all we had was a honeybucket. Make sure your site is plenty secluded from the others- we had to buy earplugs due to our rowdy (and potty-mouthed) neighbors that sat a mere four feet from our tent- not cool!

Most important- music! As much as I loved listening to my neighbor’s country music it would have been great to have our own soundtrack to the weekend. I will definitely be sure to pick up some good portable mp3 speakers before we go again.

Thanks so much to my friend Mandy for being such a good sport and going along with everything. Man we sure got some stares from the neighbors!

Guacamole with Cumin-Chili Chips

March 23, 2010 § 1 Comment

After trying about a million guacamole recipes I found a winner. This stuff tastes EXACTLY like the kind they serve table side at Rosa Mexicana. If you are entertaining- the key is to cut and mash the avocado at the very last minute so it is as fresh as possible. Some recipes tell you to make everything ahead of time and store in the fridge to allow the flavors to meld- not true.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped white onion
  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt, plus more for seasoning if desired
  • 1 ripe Hass avocado, pitted, peeled, and coarsely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons tomato, seeded and finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon lime juice
  • 3 large flour tortillas
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • cumin
  • chili powder
  • salt to taste

To make the guacamole:

  1. Mix together the cilantro, onion, jalapenos, salt and lime juice and muddle with a mortar and pestle or just a spoon handle (you can do this well ahead of time)
  2. Add the avocado and mash into the mixture, making sure to leave nice big chunks of avocado
  3. Stir in the tomato and serve with chips immediately

To make the chips:

  1. Brush tortillas on both sides with olive oil and cut into wedges
  2. Add chips to a large skillet on medium-high heat and season with spices and salt
  3. Cook until golden brown, flipping periodically- remember to turn on the fan as the spices tend to burn!

For a healthier alternative, lightly spray tortillas with olive oil and bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 7-10 minutes.

Arancini (cheese-stuffed risotto croquettes)

November 15, 2009 § Leave a comment

This is my go-to appetizer recipe for the holidays- always a huge hit partly because they are so unexpected but mostly because they are an explosion of foodgasm in every bite. I first discovered Arancini (which is Italian for “little oranges”) while flipping through Williams-Sonoma’s Christmas catalogue and right away I looked up the recipe on epicurious (which no longer exists on the site.)

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Ingredients

  • 3 3/4 to 4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 cup Arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus extra for garnish
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/3 cup cubed mozzarella
  • Vegetable oil, for deep-frying
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • Tomato sauce, as accompaniment

Directions

  1. bring stock to a simmer. Cover and set aside to keep hot.
  2. In a heavy Dutch oven or large saucepan, melt 3 tablespoons of the butter over medium-high heat.
  3. Add the chopped onion and saute until transparent, about 4 minutes.
  4. Add rice and cook, stirring constantly, until rice is opaque and fragrant, about 1 minute.
  5. Add the white wine and cook, stirring, until absorbed.
  6. While continually stirring, begin adding the stock in 1/2 cup increments, allowing the liquid to become completely absorbed between additions. Cook until the rice is just tender and the risotto is creamy, about 20 minutes.
  7. Add the grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, heavy cream, basil and salt and pepper and stir to combine well.
  8. Transfer to a mixing bowl or baking dish and allow to cool completely. Refrigerate until thoroughly chilled.
  9. remove the chilled risotto from the refrigerator and stir in 1 of the eggs.
  10. Using a small scoop or large spoon, divide the risotto into approximately 3 tablespoon portions.
  11. Using your hands, form the portions into rough ball shapes.
  12. Press a hole into the center of each risotto ball and stuff the center with some of the cheese and press the opening closed and roll the ball between your hands until it is smooth.
  13. n a large saucepan, heat 2 inches of oil to 360 degrees F.
  14. Place the flour, remaining 2 eggs and bread crumbs in 3 separate bowls.
  15. One by one, lightly dredge each risotto ball in the flour, then the beaten egg mixture, then the bread crumbs, so that each ball is completely coated.
  16. Set on a cookie sheet and refrigerate at least 20 minutes
  17. Fry the balls in batches, a few at a time, turning once during cooking so that they are evenly browned, about 2 minutes
  18. Serve with Parmesan cheese and some tomato sauce.

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This is what the risotto looks like when its NOT done- the secret to getting risotto to that perfect al dente is constantly testing out the rice and adding more broth until it is absolutely the right tenderness. The rice grains should double in size.

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I knew someday I’d need that crusty baguette from Panera! Homemade breadcrumbs really made a difference.

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Take that pent-up aggression! An easier approach would have been to use a food processor if I owned one- which I don’t. But I DO own a hammer!

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The goal is to get the crumbs into a coarse powder

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I like using deeper, narrower bowls for breadding than having the ingredients spread out too thin. Also, using tongs is a great way to keep from breadding your fingers. I prefer to use my hands because it’s faster.

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Letting the balls chillax in the fridge. Start to finish these bad boys take about three hours to make so if you know you won’t have that much time you can make them ahead and freeze after assembling the balls.

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For a healthy alternative you can bake them at 450 degrees for about 15 minutes- but you’ve seen the list of ingredients so you might as well just go all the way! I’ve made them both ways and the frying method is definitely tastier. Diet food is for January.

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All done! All this talk about balls got me thinking back to my favorite Christmas SNL short

 

Jalapeno Popper Cheese Dip

October 4, 2009 § Leave a comment

I found this recipe on allrecipes about a month ago and since then I have brought it to a tailgate party, housewarming, and happy hour- every time it is a hit! It is basically everything you love about jalapeno poppers in a dip and you can make it in 5 minutes. Serve with tortilla or pita chips.

jalapeno cheese dip

Ingredients

  • 2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 (4 ounce) can chopped green chilies, drained
  • 2 ounces canned diced jalapeno peppers, drained
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

directions

  • Stir together cream cheese and mayonnaise in a large bowl until smooth. Stir in green chiles and jalapeno peppers. Pour mixture into a microwave safe serving dish, and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
  • Microwave on High until hot, about 3 minutes.
  • Make Your Picnic a Little More Posh Part 2: The Menu

    May 26, 2009 § 1 Comment

    picnic menu

    As promised- here is the menu to accompany yesterday’s picnic gear post.  Believe it or not a couple of these are interpretations of Weight Watchers recipes- I’m watching out for you during swimsuit season! And according to my wine and cheese pairing guide, the goat cheese in the sandwiches is paired best with a Gewurtztreminer. Recipes to serve 2 below.

    1. French Baguette Sandwiches with Grilled Zucchini, Portabello, and Herbed Goat Cheese
    2. Dill Potato Salad
    3. Grilled and Chilled Asparagus with Roasted Red Pepper Dip
    4. Chocolate Covered Strawberries

     zucchiniportobellostacks_n_lg

    French Baguette Sandwiches with Grilled Zucchini, Portabello, and Herbed Goat Cheese

    Ingredients

    • 2 tbsp dry sherry
    • 2 tbsp shallot, (about 1 large)
    • 1/4 tsp table salt
    • 1/4 tsp black pepper, freshly ground
    • 1 1/2 tsp olive oil, divided
    • 6 oz portobello mushroom, sliced
    • 2 small zucchini, thinly sliced lengthwise
    • 1 loaf/loaves French baguette bread
    • 1/2 cup(s) semisoft goat cheese
    • 1 tsp fresh thyme, diced
    • 1 tsp fresh rosemary, diced
    • 1 large tomato, thinly sliced

    Directions

    1. Combine first 4 ingredients; stir well with a whisk.
    2. Heat 11⁄2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Place mushrooms in a single layer in pan; sauté 3 to 4 minutes on each side or until liquid is almost absorbed. Remove from pan and place in a large bowl. Cover and keep warm.
    3. Add 1 teaspoon oil to pan and place over medium heat. Cut zucchini slices in half crosswise. Place half of zucchini slices in pan; sauté 7 to 9 minutes or until zucchini is lightly browned. Repeat with remaining zucchini and 1 teaspoon oil. Remove from heat and place in bowl with mushrooms. Drizzle with sherry mixture and remaining 1 teaspoon oil; toss gently.
    4. Preheat broiler.
    5. Cut baguette crosswise in half; cut each piece in half lengthwise. Place slices on a baking sheet, cut sides up, and broil 1 minute or until toasted.
    6. Combine goat cheese, thyme and rosemary; spread evenly over toasted baguette slices. Layer toast slices evenly with 1⁄2 of mushroom mixture and tomato slices. Top with remaining baguette slices. 

     

    lemon-potsalad-su-1634820-lDill Potato Salad

    Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound new red potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon dried dill weed
  • 2/3 green onion, chopped
  • salt and ground black pepper to taste (optional)
  • Directions

    1. Place potatoes in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then turn heat to medium-low, cover, and cook until tender but still firm, about 15 minutes. Drain, cool in an ice water bath until cold, about 5 minutes. Leaving skins on, cut into bite-size pieces, and place in a large mixing bowl.
    2. Combine mayonnaise, sour cream, dill weed, and green onions in a bowl and stir until blended. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour mayo mixture over potatoes and toss to coat evenly. Adjust seasoning if necessary. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours, or overnight.

    SourCreamRedPepperDip_n_lg

    Grilled and Chilled Asparagus with Roasted Red Pepper Dip

    Indregients

    • 1/4 pound fresh asparagus
    • 4 oz roasted red peppers, packed in water, drained (about 3/4 cups)
    • 1/4 cup fat-free sour cream
    • 1/8 cup basil, fresh
    • 1/8 tsp garlic powder
    • salt  to taste
    • black pepper, freshly ground to taste

    Directions

    1. Grill asparagus until slightly tender, about 5 minutes. Refrigerate 30 minutes up to overnight.
    2. In a blender, combine roasted peppers, sour cream, basil and garlic powder; puree until smooth. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.

    chocolate-covered-strawberries

     

    Chocolate Covered Strawberries

    You can purchase ready-made microwavable chocolate, or if you want to do it like a real chef, follow below.

    Ingredients

    • 16 ounces milk chocolate chips
    • 2 tablespoons shortening
    • 1 pound fresh strawberries with leaves
    • Waxed paper

    Directions

    1. Insert toothpicks into the tops of the strawberries.
    2. In a double boiler, melt the chocolate and shortening, stirring occasionally until smooth. Holding them by the toothpicks, dip the strawberries into the chocolate mixture.
    3. Set the strawberries on waxed paper to cool.

    A Match Made in Heaven: Wine and Cheese Pairing Guide

    May 13, 2009 § 1 Comment

    The Perfect Pair

    The  Seattle Cheese Festival is happening this weekend and I’m tickled pink. In honor of the occasion I’m posting a wine and cheese pairing guide courtesy of the experts at Goutmet Sleuth for you to use at your next wine tasting party. Serve the cheese on a cheese board or a cutting board with sliced pear and fig jelly, and accompany with thick crackers and crusty bread. Make it easy on your guests by placing the cheese in a row with each cheese’s wine-buddy behind it.

    • Chardonnay is served with Cheddar, Cambazola, Cotija, Gruyere, Parmagiano-Reggiano, or Provolone
    • Reisling is served with Cheshire, Colby, Edam, Gouda, Monterey Jack, and Panela
    • Sauvingon Blanc is served with Blue Castello, Bucheron, Cheddar, Derby, Gruyere, Neufchatel and Pave Affinois
    • Gewurtztraminer is served with Boursin, Chevre(goat cheese) and Swiss
    • Cabernet is served with Camembert, sharp Cheddar, Blue Cheese,
    • Chianti is served with Buffalo Mozzarella, Pecorino, and Provolone
    • Any light reds or whites in general can be served with fresh Mozzarella, Jarlsberg, Madrigal Baby Swiss, Mascarpone or Smoked Gouda,
    • And beer is served with Limburger!

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