Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Another day in Germany (or paradise, whatever)...

I distinctly remember a meal I had in a small town in Germany. The town was beautiful, quaint, tourist free, and we pretty much stumbled upon it. While venturing around we found a great Spanish restaurant with some beautiful outdoor dining, which gave us a much needed break from the bland German food we'd been having. The menu pretty much consisted of different tapas in small portions, in which you would order a variety of.

I seriously can't get this meal out of my mind. Husband and I shared a concoction of chicken and potatoes soaked in Sherry, a type of queso with bread for dipping, and melted cheese over steamed vegetables. I wish so bad I could recreate this meal, but I know my efforts would be completely futile. I think my only solution would be to take a trip to Spain. Ready for it Honey?

I think another reason I remember this meal is because of our neighbors sitting at the table across from us. They kept staring at me, so much so that it made me feel uncomfortable. I started to think that I was just being paranoid, but then everybody at my table starting commenting about these people who were staring and were starting to get real excited. So weird. We decided they thought I was famous. Now I wish I had gone up to their table and maybe given them an autograph or two. If only I knew which famous person they thought I looked like.

Monday, September 28, 2009

It's that time again!

I bought myself 3 huge cans of pumpkin and I can't wait to use it all. I've been dying to eat the pumpkin waffles I made last year, but I was hoping to add a new recipe to the mix. So I decided to revisit my love/hate relationship with Martha Stewart and put her to the test once again.

I went with Martha Stewart's Pumpkin Cupcakes and I was pleasantly surprised. Super moist, super easy, and great presentation. Give them a try, let me know how it goes.
These could also pass as muffins if you forego the icing.

Friday, September 25, 2009

I suddenly want to be French

Everyone is talking about Stephmodo's renovation of La Maisonnette du Coteau in Beynac, France. I can't imagine renovating such an old home (over 400 years old), in a different country no less! The transformation is amazing, you can even check it out at design sponge.

My favorite part? The kitchen. Check out the stove! And the beautiful dining room. I want those pendant lights above the table. Who am I kidding, I want to have a dining room table!

I'm seriously in awe, and hope that when Husband and I take our trip to France that we'll stay here and take those cooking classes she raved about!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Oh Canada!

When Husband and I were in Canada last year we got caught in a rain storm and ducked into a little boutique. I fell in love immediately! It was here that I was first introduced to Portmeirion Products by Sophie Conran. I only bought a couple of pieces that would be easy to transport back home, but now I'm so sad that I didn't get more pieces because they are my absolute favorite.

Some of the items I'm coveting, found on amazon.com (Husband take note):

Tip of the Day

Always keep lemons and limes on hand to perk up any recipe. Seriously!
If you haven't noticed, a lot of my recipes involve lemon zest or lime juice, etc. Lemon zest can be used in meats (remember the roast) and even desserts (remember the coconut cake) or the juice from a lime to add a little zing to any drink, not just diet coke! They even make for great centerpieces, like I used for Husband's birthday.

They're cheap and last a long time in the fridge, so stock up!

Even Ina Garten agrees (click through the slide show)

Image via House Beautiful

Sprechen Sie German?

When we were in Germany I had the best bratwurst in a little town just off the Rhine, near the Brother's Castles. It was my first bratwurst ever, and it was amazing! Since I've been home I've tried a couple brats and they don't even seem like they are the same product!

Oktoberfest is here (up at Snowbird) and I wonder if it will come close to my real German experience? Any thoughts? Has anyone been? Is anyone thinking of going? Call me, maybe we'll head up there together.

How fun!

Check out Design Mom and the amazing party she planned for her little girl! She hired Sticky Fingers (in the Denver area) to come and set up, entertain, and clean up. Now that's what I'm talkin' about! The kids made customized chef hats, then were taught how to cook a meal. What was the meal you ask? Parmesan and Ricotta Gnocchi over Peaches with Prosciutto and Parmesan plus Honey Lavender Dressing. I don't even eat that well! And it sounds like the kids loved it.

What a cool business concept. Throw parties and teach kids how to cook. Anyone up for it?
When I'm a mom I hope I'm half as cool!

Monday, September 21, 2009

No Soup For You!

Yesterday the air was nice and crisp and the sun was still shining, it was fabulous! I've been waiting for this day so I could make some yummy soup. Sunday dinner was just me and husband, so we tackled this recipe together and finally perfected it. Really, this recipe is pretty easy, just a little time consuming, but really worth it.

Chicken Corn Chowder
Serves 8

3 - 4 potatoes (chopped into bite size pieces)
½ cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped carrots
½ of a yellow onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ jalapeno
1 chicken bouillon cube (or 1 tsp)
2 cans chicken broth
2 cups water

Bring ingredients to a boil. Make sure that vegetables are fully covered, if you need to add water, do so. Once boiling, simmer until tender.

In a separate pan make a roux:
1 cube butter
¾ cup flour

On medium high heat, melt butter. Once melted, decrease temp to medium heat and gradually whisk in flour. Continue stirring until you get a nice thick consistency.

Then add:
1 tbl. sugar
1 quart of milk

Once this is all mixed, add broth mixture into the milk mixture. Then add the following:

Fresh Rosemary (to taste, you don’t need much)
3 cups cook and cubed chicken (I roast 4 breasts of chicken)
2 cans of sweet canned corn (drain liquid)
1 lb. velveeta cheese (at room temperature, cube, then add)
Salt & pepper to taste.

Cook until the cheese is melted and to desired temperature.

Husband started out by roasting 4 chicken breasts by placing them in a roasting pan, pouring one can of chicken broth, and then seasoning them with salt, pepper, and poultry seasoning. I know this is more time consuming than boiling the chicken, but it really tastes the best and makes it so the chicken isn't tough and rubbery. I then used the reserves to replace the one can of broth it calls for in the recipe.

This is probably my favorite soup. It's a large recipe for just two of us, but I like to have leftovers and some to freeze for another day. The only thing that would make this recipe better is if I had made my homemade crescent rolls to dip into it.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Sunday Dinner

We had family over this Sunday for Travis and Nikki's birthdays. On the menu:

Chuck Roast
Season with Salt & Pepper, fresh rosemary, lemon zest from one
lemon, and 2 garlic cloves. Put it in a crock pot on top of carrots and onions
and pour 2 cans of beef broth over it. Cook on low for about 8 hours.

(placed on the bottom of the roast with onions)

Mashed Potatoes & Gravy

Homemade Crescent Rolls

Eclair Cake

The roast just fell apart, it was really good. Putting a roast in a crock pot is great because the only thing I had to do right before the guests arrive was the potatoes and gravy. The best part of the meal really was the rolls and jam. My friend Lauren gave me this recipe years ago and it's turned into a family favorite.

Lauren's Crescent Rolls:

2 Cups warm Water
2 Packages Quick Rising Yeast
1/4 Cup Oil
1/2 Cup Sugar
2 Teaspoons Salt
1 Egg
5 1/2 Cups Flour

In a large bowl pour warm water over yeast and let sit for about 10 minutes in order to activate the yeast. Add the rest of the ingredients and combine. Let stand for 1-2 hours for the dough to rise. Divide dough in half, roll out in circles and cut into pie shapes. Roll into crescent. Place on lightly greased sheet. Cover. Let rise for 1-2 hours. Bake at 400 degrees for 10-15 minutes, until slightly golden brown. Makes about 2 dozen, depending on the size you make the rolls. I like them big, so I usually only make 16 large rolls.

A great tip I've learned when it comes to cleaning up after serving a large group is to always make sure your dishwasher is empty. That way you can gaurantee you'll have room for all the dirty dishes after dinner. This means making sure you clean up as you cook.

Oh yeah, remember my restaurant recommendation? Well, gift certificates and BBQ sauce make a great gift for guys who like their meat (Travis). And, homemade jam makes for a great parting gift for your guests. My cute niece, Kellie, recommended tying raffia to the container for better presentation.


Thursday, September 10, 2009

Homemade Love

I had some friends move into a new home and figured a good housewarming gift would be some homemade jam.
I love homemade jam, but I've always thought it would be difficult / time consuming to make. I was completely wrong. I used the recipe off of the back of this fruit pectin packet and was done in 10 minutes flat! It calls for 4 cups of crushed fruit and 1 1/2 cups sugar. You mix everything together and don't even have to turn the stove on!

Since it was so easy to make, I figured I better make some homemade wheat bread to go with it.

Anyone know of a cute way to package freezer jam to give as a gift? Let me know.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

BBQ for Summer's End

For me, Labor Day weekend represents the ending of Summer and the beginning of Fall. Yes, my pumpkin obsession should be starting soon. And what better way to see Summer come to an end with a great BBQ meal. So Husband and I made our way to Pat's BBQ for a little brisquet, ribs, meatloaf, and all the fixen's, that was all to die for! If you're looking for a great, hearty meal that serves you enough food to last a week, this is where you want to be. Check it out here.

Just in case you were wondering, they sell their awesome bbq sauce for $6 a bottle. This is serious stuff!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Italian Feast

While in Italy we had some amazing food and I've been wanting to recreate some of our favorite meals and share them with friends. We even brought home some spices and pesto that I've been dying to try. And seriously, how could you not miss drinking Fanta? It's either that, wine, or sparkling water, which left us without much options. They also look at you funny when you ask for tap water. Go figure.
I love how meals are an event in Italy so I wanted to experience it the same way, dining al fresco of course.

The menu

Bevande: Orange Fanta

Antipasti: Bruschetta

1st Course: Spaghettie Carbonara

2nd Course: Grilled chicken with pesto

Dolci: Tiramisu

The meal was good, but I think the only thing worth noting was the tiramisu. For the recipe go here. When we were in Rome we had the best strawberry Tiramisu ever, which is why I replaced the raspberries with strawberries. I also ran out of time and couldn't get to the liquor store for the orange liqueur, so instead I squeezed the juice from two oranges and about 1-2 teaspoons of balsamic vinegar and simmered over medium heat to infuse the flavors (it worked out quite well).
The best part really was the company! Thanks Dave, Brittany and Madeline for joining us.