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Friday, May 25, 2012

This blog is moving!

Hey guys!

I've just decided to make some big changes to this blog, including a new address.

Will you come visit me at my new home? All the same content from this blog will be carried over, but the new spot will have a new design, URL, and hopefully some fun new content coming soon!

I won't be updating to this address anymore, so if you currently follow my posts either by email subscription or in a reader, and you wish to continue to get posts from me, go on over to my new blog MIX IT UP and click "follow" or "subscribe" on the top right!

New blog design project is underway now, so check back soon!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Be kind to yourself

I've been pretty AWOL lately, hopefully I'll be checking in soon with some recipes and projects I have worked on recently.

In the meantime, something I have been thinking about:

Earlier this year I made a resolution to end my habit of negative self talk. I realized what a truly hard time I give myself. I judge myself for how I look, talk, act, and especially for whatever negative things I assume other people think about me. This is such a negative pattern!

And the sad thing is, after speaking to several of my friends about this- all beautiful, admirable and seemingly confident people- it seems each person I spoke to is just as rough on themselves. I know it's not such a huge surprise, and the negativity with which many people (especially young women, though honestly people of all ages and genders) think about themselves has been part of an ongoing conversation in so many venues for a reason.

If you are reading this, I urge you to evaluate how fair you are being to yourself in terms of self judgement. Take a moment to remind yourself all the things you like about yourself, and make a conscious effort not to be so mean in the future.

Ok, I'm gonna stop my cliche preaching now!

Check back soon, I have a lot in the works- from a new location for this blog, new design, some new recipes, and news about my upcoming cross-country move!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Food Photography

I have been working lately on improving my food photography. Nothing is too impressive, but I have been pretty happy with some of my efforts lately.

Here are a couple food photographs I took while in Portland recently.


Beer samplers at Rogue Brewery
Employees at Beast plate the first two courses of a six course meal


Course #2 at Beast, which included steak tar tar, quail egg, and several different pates. 

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Simple Peanut Sesame Noodles



I used to make this all the time. I saw a similar recipe on a TV show once when I first moved away from home. I think it might have been TLC's Home Made Simple. I didn't know how to cook very many things. But I could make this. And it was yummy.

I like to toss a bunch of cilantro on top so that it looks green and healthy. It isn't healthy. But I like to fool myself.

I always love sesame noodles at potlucks, but I think this version (which is so super easy to make!) which includes lots of fresh lime juice and cilantro is particularly yummy & lively.

The ingredient list is short, and mostly compromised of pantry staples. (do you all keep soy sauce, rice vinegar, and siracha as pantry staples?)

Your favorite noodles - I like to use linguini, I really like the Ronzoni "smart taste" one because it is supposedly healthier, but looks and tastes the same as the normal stuff.
1 cup peanut butter - any kind works, but keep in mind if it is salted or sweetened, you will need to taste as you go and adjust the flavors.
1 TBS rice vinegar
1 TBS soy sauce
1/2  cup water
2 tsp sirracha
1 TBS sesame seeds - I have the mix of dark and light seeds. the dark ones sort of look like ticks. I prefer the regular whiteish seeds alone for that reason. But the blend works. Just don't think too much about how much the dark ones look like ticks. Thanks.
a lot of chopped fresh cilantro
juice of half a lime


If you want to be fancy with this, you can start by lightly toasting your sesame seeds in the bottom of a pan.You can also cut nice extra lime wedges to put on the plates when you serve. Just saying.


1.Start by boiling some water for your pasta. Follow the directions on the package and make your noodles.
2. while they cook, put the peanut butter in the bottom of a hot sauce pan. Add the rice vinegar, soy sauce, and sirracha and taste as you go. If it's too sour you can add more PB or a bit of sugar. Too sweet, add more soy sauce, rice vinegar or siracha. you get it, this is one of those adjust it as you go along recipes.
3. Add the water and mix over heat until blended. This should create a thick, opaque sauce.
4. Drain your noodles (don't rinse or add oil) and pour the sauce over. Mix, adding the sesame seeds, lime juice, and cilantro.
5. Serve warm, room temp, or chilled. Totally your choice. Today is all about choices. You're in charge.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

This Time Last Year- March

Flowers! Just Because!


Last March was an incredibly productive time for me on this blog.

By far my favorite of the recipes I posted that month was the cheddar, brown butter and sage mashed potatoes I made as a side when I made Slow Cooker Pot Roast with Coffee and Caramelized Onions. Another favorite recipe was also served as a side at that dinner: honey rosemary glazed carrots.


I also devoted a few posts that month to planning changes to my living room. I did end up making some big changes, but it is funny looking back, almost none of them were what I was originally planning.

hey, why not check out some of my posts from last year, here are the links!

The recipes:

Bacon Jam









Parmesan Polenta with Spinach
Slow Cooker Pot Roast with Coffee and Caramelized Onions









Honey Rosemary Glazed Carrots









Carrot Apple & Ginger Soup









Chocolate Red Wine Cake









Cheddar Mashed Potatoes with Brown Butter & Sage









Also, take a look at these two posts about the living room/ my living room plan. I think it's kind of fun to compare it to the final outcome (totally different!) that you can see here.

1. Of Curtains and Chairs and Form Over Function
2. The Living Room Again


PS- at the end of this month it will be my second Blogiversary. Cool to think that I've been at this for 2 years now.  Thanks to everyone who has been encouraging to me!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Goal: 100 miles

This isn't a post about cooking, baking, design or DIY.

This is a post about my love affair.

I posted about her once before, in a long rambling post I am sure no one read all the way through.

Here she is:

We met this summer. Things have only gotten better since.


And now we are really going places. I have decided to train for a 100 mile bike ride. It's on my to-do list.

It's gonna happen, though I know it will take time to prepare. I biked 15 miles today after work, and it felt pretty good.

Now I just have to...sextuple that? Is that the correct term? It sounds sort of dirty.

It's pretty exciting to really challenge myself like this. A year ago I never would have even thought I would want to take on this kind of physical challenge.

Are you trying something new? Challenging yourself physically or mentally? Making resolutions to try something hard?  You can do it! Tell me in the comments and I'll cheer you on. Go you.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

French Onion Soup (revamped repost)



Back when I was on a member of an online dating website (yes that happened and seriously I suggest it to anyone single who wants to meet new people they wouldn't otherwise) I wrote in my profile to answer the prompt "I am good at  ______" that I was good at making french onion soup.  I subsequently got multiple messages from nearby single men asking details about how to make french onion soup. Now I am sure these were just conversation starters,  but it really must show that people out there are interested in this right? And since it is in fact so, so easy to make a decent french onion soup, it seems like this knowledge needs to be shared.

In case you were wondering how to make a basic french onion soup, and perhaps haven't found any girls on dating websites to address the question to, here is a bit of instruction on how I make it.

I actually posted a french onion soup recipe  on this site in October of 2010. I decided it was time to revamp and update that post with new pictures and some slight revisions, as well as to bring it out from the depths of this site's archives.

I made this french onion soup recently, using a similar method to my original with only a few small changes. The ingredients are simple and inexpensive,  and the outcome is pretty good if I do say so myself.

If you are wondering what changes I made since last posting this recipe, they were mostly based on simplifiying and making the original even easier to make, with fewer ingredients to go out and buy. Things like using dried thyme instead of fresh, cutting out the rosemary, and using only red wine instead of both red and white, in place of the traditional sherry. I also increased the amount of garlic, and reduced the amount of bread, which I chose this time to serve on the side.

Next I photographed it in the natural light from a sunny window, and not on an ugly orange placemat. Big changes, guys. But really, this post needed some attention. The single men of Boston want to know how to make french onion soup, and they don't want to see photographs that look like this:





And here's what you need to know to make the recipe:


Simple French Onion Soup
Serves 4

Ingredients:
4 large onions, sliced
1 TBS olive oil
2 tsp dried thyme
3-4 cloves of garlic- minced
3 cups beef or chicken broth
3/4 to 1 cup dry red wine
salt and pepper to taste
2 tsp worcester sauce

Plus:
4 slices of bread- I used challa, but french bread is classic
1 cup of shredded cheese- Greyere and Parmesean, Swiss, or even Cheddar- whichever is your favorite. I found a Cheddar-Greyere blend at Trader Joes that worked well and was inexpensive


Process:
1.Halve and slice each of your onions. Try not to cry too much. Chew on some bread, it will help.
2. Heat your oil in a large pan. Once hot, add the onions.
3. Heat the onions in a covered pot until they begin to caramelize, stirring occasionally. About 20 minutes.
4. Add garlic and thyme. Cook 5 more minutes.
5. Add wine to deglaze pan, then stock (and water if you need more liquid)
6. Add worcester sauce, and salt and pepper to taste.
7. Simmer and allow the liquid to reduce a bit and get delicious. 
8. The End.

except for this part:

MEANWHILE: 

1.Heat the oven to 400. 
2. On a baking sheet lay out your slices of bread, topped liberally with cheese. 
3.Bake until the cheese is bubbly. 
4.Serve alongside the soup. 



PS- I hereby promise to try really hard to make my next cooking post not be soup related. Sorry.

The First "Before"

While going through some old emails, I stumbled upon the photos I took when first viewing my current apartment. When my roommates and I saw this apartment we knew it was the one for us, but clearly we had an imagination. We saw how great this apartment could be, even if it looked pretty bad at that time.

How bad was it? Well each wall was painted a different pastel color, the floors in the kitchen were ancient peeling linoleum, and every surface was just about as dirty as imaginable. The landlord agreed to put in a new floor in the kitchen before we moved in,  and paint everything back to white. Things did look a lot better when we moved in, but it was still pretty dirty, and needed some cheerful updates.

I thought you guys might want to see a couple of these before shots next to how the rooms look now...
Lots of pictures, so come check them out behind the cut:

livingroom

Friday, February 10, 2012

Put an octopus on it.

I have had an ikea Leksvik dresser (no longer available as far as I can tell) for 6 or 7 years now. It has served me well, and survived multiple moves, having yet to fall apart. The only major scratch on it came from when my boyfriend (at the time) helped me initially assemble it (which was disastrous.) It has nice deep drawers (actually even big enough to store my sewing machine in one), and is actually sort of nice looking. There is really nothing wrong with it.


But it needed something.




So I put an octopus on it.



Ah, much better. 


Octopus decal purchased from this Etsy shop.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

This Time Last Year- February



Only one month until my 2 year blogiversary! I am getting excited. I think I might buy myself some flowers for the occasion. Mmm, or chocolates. Or maybe make myself some chocolates.

Last February was a pretty productive month for me on this blog- I revealed my newly painted blue kitchen, made some brie and puff pastry hors d'oeuvres, fried up some sweet potato chips, made some decadent lemon buttermilk pudding cake, and continued redecorating my painted kitchen with a paper craft project, an etsy find, and some well placed vintage cookbooks.

Curious to read some of those older posts?

You can find them here:

Painted Kitchen Reveal
Sweet Potato Chips
Lemon Buttermilk Pudding Cake
DIY Paper Bunting Project

And those are just some highlights from the month. If your interested in seeing more of my past projects, you can read the archives on the bar to the right, Select February 2010 to see more of what I was up to one year ago.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Tom Kha Gai


Thai food is one of my favorite cuisines. When I go out for Thai food the part of the menu I get most excited about is the soup section. This probably isn't surprising to any of you who have been reading my blog for any length of time...I seem to be a bit obsessed with soup. I once joked that I should officially change my food blog into a soup blog. In fact, a quick search shows me that the word "soup" was mentioned in 17 of my 45 cooking related posts.  17 is the same number of posts in which I mention the word "flour" in the baking section, and actually several more mentions than the word "project" in my home and DIY themed posts, which I often feel ridiculous for overusing. What can I say, I am a lover of soup.

Should I officially convert this into a soup blog, guys? Do you all love soup like I do? Think of all the possibilities...I have never even posted a chilled soup, such as cold cherry soup or gazpacho! And I have never posted a chicken matzo ball soup recipe (what kind of nice jewish girl am I?)  But anyway, back to Thai food, alright?


I can never decide if I prefer Tom Yum Goong, with its spicy-sour broth and decadent shrimp, or Tom Kha Gai with its lively coconut milk, cilantro and lime combination.   I have made Tom Kha Gai at home several times, and have yet to attempt Tom Yum...maybe soon! I think I would rather not choose a favorite. I will just settle to like them both equally. 

If you, like me, dig Tom Kha, and its aromatic coconuty broth, I think you'll be happy to know that making it at home is really quite easy. I had success finding most of the ingredients I needed by going to a big asian supermarket near my house, Super 88 (psst...click that link to read an old post I wrote about Super 88 and omelets...it also includes a funny Japanese commercial), but in my search for recipes I also discovered a lot of helpful substitutions which may come in handy if you don't live around the corner from a mammoth Asian specialty grocery store.

Here are some of the ingredients I used:

fresh cilantro, scallions, lemongrass, thai peppers, galangal, coconut milk and lime

I also used: chicken broth, chicken breast, sliced white mushrooms, fish sauce, a bit of brown sugar, and some thai curry paste. They didn't make it into the picture.

If you are worried you won't find thai specialty ingredients, I urge you to be optimistic! Check your local grocery store in the international section. My local Stop&Shop carries thai curry paste (which can be used in place of the thai peppers), coconut milk, fish sauce, and a whole slew of other basic thai ingredients. I have found lemongrass at whole foods in the past, and occasionally thai peppers, too. In the past I have had trouble finding galangal (though I got lucky this time) an aromatic root similar to ginger, but more floral. I have substituted ginger in its place on two occasions, and though it may not be the most authentic, it still came out delicious. So never fear, substitutions can be made. 

I have unfortunately never been successful in finding Kefer lime leaves, so  I end up leaving them out, and including a little bit more lime juice than the recipes I have found call for. Believe me, it still turns out delicious. 

Because when I make soup I don't usually stick to a recipe but rather a guideline, here is the basic process I followed. Taste as you go, and alter things as needed...don't be afraid to experiment a bit!


Ingredients:

2 cans of coconut milk
thinly sliced chicken breast
juice of 1 or 2 limes (at least 3 TBS)
fresh cilantro
lemon grass, (just the bottoms, bruised)
galangal, roughly chopped
thai chili peppers
chicken broth
scallions
white mushrooms, sliced
fish sauce (roughly 2 tablespoons)

Process:

  • Start with the aromatics- Chop up some galangal (I used about an inch by inch piece, chopped roughly) and put it in the bottom of your soup pot over medium heat with a bit of oil. Add a few pieces of lemongrass, bruised to bring out the flavor, and chop a couple of thai peppers, removing most of the seeds and ribs, or throwing them in whole, depending on the level of spiciness you desire. Add a little bit of chopped cilantro, too. 

  • Cook until fragrant, adding the chicken broth, one can of coconut milk and fish sauce at this time. Give the liquid some time to simmer, and then strain the broth to remove the aromatics. 

  • Next add the remaining coconut milk and mushrooms. 

  • In a saute pan, lightly cook the chicken in thin strips, then add to the soup.

  • Remove the soup from the heat, add the lime juice, taste and add brown sugar, more chili peppers or curry paste if desired. 

  • Serve hot, garnished with plenty of sliced scallions and chopped fresh cilantro, and some thai peppers for color and extra spice. 


Have you made Thai food at home before? Have you experimented with cooking a new cuisine lately, or tried to figure out what to substitute for ingredients that are hard to come by in your region? Are you obsessed with soup? What is your favorite thing to order at a Thai restaurant? Let me know in the comments, maybe I will try to make your favorite dish next!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Egyptian Lentil Soup


Lentil soup will heal you. It will make you whole. And fix all your problems. And find you lasting love. And lower your cholesterol.  Ok, only the last statement has been scientifically tested, to my knowledge. Well, and to be even more fair, I should mention that I made this soup a couple of weeks ago, and it has yet to find me lasting love. But it totally fixed all my other problems. And it was delicious.

I went to the grocery store hoping to find brown lentils to make a lentil soup recipe by Martha Stewart, to tack on to the end of "Martha Stewart week" (a theme I may have to revisit...I didn't even do any paper crafts, or creatively set a dinner table!) Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately!) the grocery store was out of both brown and green lentils, and only had red. Now anyone who is worth their salt in lentil-knowledge (does this sentence make anyone else chuckle a bit...I did while writing it, but that's probably just me) knows that brown and green lentils each keep their shape much more while cooking, while red lentils tend to be...fall apart-ish or mushy. So a soup like the one I had picked, which intended the lentils to hold up, would not be a great choice for substituting red lentils. That being said, even though mushy, red lentils are particularly delicious- just think of your favorite lentil heavy Indian dish.

So I got home intending to find a recipe for a soup using red lentils, and most of the other ingredients I had brought home with me. This is best part, guys. I got home to find my most recent Food & Wine Magazine open on the kitchen table. I hadn't read it yet, so one of my roommates must have been looking at it there. The page it was open to? Egyptian Red Lentil Soup. Seriously. It was a sign from somewhere. And besides the ingredients I had already picked out, the only other things it called for were things I had on hand, like lemon and plain yogurt, and certain spices. Meant to be.

So I made this soup. And I ate it. And it healed me.


Egyptian Lentil Soup
From Food & Wine Magazine February 2012


Special Equipment: A large soup pot (I used my beloved Mario Batali dutch oven, which is currently on sale, FYI), an immersion blender (though if you only have a standing blender you could blend this in batches*)

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, finely chopped
  • 3 celery ribs, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander 
  • 1/2 teaspoon ancho chile powder
  • 1 pound tomatoes, seeded and diced  (I used a can of diced tomatoes. It worked out great)
  •  2 cups red lentils (14 ounces)
  •  Plain yogurt, lemon wedges and warm pita, for serving 

1. Start your cooking process by preparing a mirepoix-  heat the butter in the bottom of your pan, add the chopped onions and cook for a few minutes, then add chopped carrots and celery, and lastly garlic. Cook until both onions and celery become translucent and somewhat soft. About 5 minutes.
 2. Add the spices to the pot, and heat until fragrant
 3. Add the tomatoes to the pan
 4. Add the lentils and the water
 5. Simmer for 30 minutes or more, until the lentils become very soft. 
 6. Removing from heat, use your immersion blender* to blend the soup until smooth
 7. Serve with a dollop of plain yogurt and a squeeze of lemon

 

Saturday, January 21, 2012

This Time Last Year

I started this blog in 2010. I am actually only a couple months from my second blogiversary. Recently I have been looking back and noticing what posts I was working on at the same time, last year.

So here is a round up of my 3 favorite posts from last January, and what I was up to then. In the future I plan from time to time to recap some favorite posts from the same month, 1 year ago, and perhaps even two years ago after my second blogiversary rolls around.

This time last year I...

...Posted a recipe for Balsamic Glazed Brussels Sprouts.  I'll have to make that again soon- the glaze was sweet and tangy and I always forget how much I love Brussels sprouts! This was early in my food blogging history, and I was much more concerned at the time about recipe ownership. Now I usually use recipes I find in cookbooks, credit the original author, and note any changes I made. Back then I made up of my recipes, which made for a more interesting process, but also a more risky one. I would have to make a recipe at least three times to work out the kinks before I could post it. It was fun and taught me a lot about cooking, actually, but turned out to be too time intensive for me in the long run.



...Started my Foyer Table Update- turning a drawer-less yellow dresser I found on the street into the table that now holds my printer, record player and records, as you can see here. I also learned while writing that post that my foyer was capable of becoming a workshop.Who knew?



...Made Seedy Snowday Cookies, using only ingredients I had on hand, while snowed in! Today it's snowing, too. I have been transfixed looking out my window all morning, it's been so long since it snowed. Who else finds the lack of snow so far this winter (not counting the freak October storm... Guys, October= fall, not winter) totally confusing? Actually, that post is one of my favorite I have written to date.

I think it's fun to revisit old posts and remind myself of the recipes I made and projects I was involved in, one year ago. I had totally forgotten that Brussels Sprouts recipe, and now I want to remake it. And actually, I could go for one of those seed-y cookies, too. I can't wait until I have multiple years of archives to look back on, it makes me wish I had started blogging sooner!

Rereading the posts also reminds me of other things going on in my life in that moment in time. Walking down memory lane after only a year is sort of funny, but thinking back to the details of last winter, remembering what I was up to, all of the minutiae of my life at that time- what was on my mind, where I spent time and with whom, the movies I saw, the dinners I made- it actually seems like a fairly long time ago. Funny, huh? So, what were all of you up to this time last year?

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Small Goals

I started a 30 before 30 list of goals recently. I love making lists of goals, so this seemed like a fun idea, plus having 5 years left before hitting that mark meant I knew I could make some lofty goals that may take a while to achieve, like completing a bachelors degree (which will likely happen in about 3 more years, when I am 28, due to my non-traditional late start and part time schedule.) Also on the list? Learning to drive. I'm from an urban area and never needed to learn. In fact I still don't have any need for the skill, but it seems like it could come in handy down the line.

Some of the goals were less significant. I wanted a few easier things that I could achieve and feel happy about. Well, I can now cross two of "easy" goals off the list.

 One item was "wear bangs." Having been scarred like many girls after having "bad bangs" in the sixth grade (let's just say my hair was a combination of oily and frizzy at the time due to puberty, and the pieces I had cut for bangs never would cooperate or look the way I wanted.) That combined with the effort of growing them out, and all those months of having to keep them back in plastic barrettes... I want to prove to myself that bangs aren't this cute thing I see other girls with, but can't have myself. I'm not in the 6th grade anymore, my hair is a lot easier to manage now, and on top of that... I know how to put in a tiny bit of effort to style it.


What do you think? No 6th grade flashbacks happening here!

Another goal I achieved was "own a record player" I bought an inexpensive portable one to start, and so far it's serving me well! I also love how having the record player on my dresser-turned foyer table area defines the space a bit more. I have several amazing records on loan from my mother's collection.






There are so many more goals on my list, from moving to a new state (technically I have only ever lived in Massachusetts, though I have lived in the Boston area and all the way to the west in the Bershires, two areas that are pretty different.) to riding in a hot air balloon, to learning to change my tubes and other minor fixes on my bike by myself. Good thing I have plenty of time.

Do any of you have a goal list you are working on? What goals are you excited to get started on? Any easy ones you can cross off quickly, like my small change with my hair, or buying something you've always wanted? Any that you find really daunting? For me the most daunting goal on my list has to be learning to drive. Growing up in Boston it's probably not a surprise that I have a bit of fear about this- people drive like lunatics around here!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Blueberry Sour Cream Cake

To continue my week of Martha Stewart recipes, I made this blueberry sour cream cake. The slight hint of sour, a dash of lemon zest, and a dense moist texture make this summer-y blueberry cake totally comforting, even in the middle of January. Frozen blueberries can be substituted for fresh so long as they are thawed and drained before use.


The recipe was actually for a pound cake, but I made it in a scalloped ceramic pie pan, just for a pretty result. Scallops= pretty. The shape, not the seafood. Though I am a fan of that kind of scallop, too. 

Pound cake is fascinating to me. Is it weird to be fascinated by a type of cake? I think it's the lack of leaveners and odd proportion of butter and eggs that really gets me. Traditionally made with a pound of flour, plenty of butter and sugar, and no baking soda or powder, it's no wonder the result is rich, but admittedly it can sometimes turn out too dense. I found the texture of this cake to be pleasant though, instead of super heavy.

 The original recipe did not call for lemon zest, but rather for lemon whipped cream on top. Sounds delicious, but I decided to skip the cream for now, as it is recently post-new years, and I am at least pretending to be healthy. Apparently in my mind cake= healthy, but once you add whipped cream...forget about it.

Adapted from Martha Stewart

Note: the original recipe was doubled, I decided to make only one cake, hence some odd numbers like 4 and a half eggs. To see the original recipe click the link above. Be prepared though, it calls for 3 sticks of butter and 9 eggs!
1/2 lb  + 1 Tablespoon Flour
1/2 Tablespoon coarse salt
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter (+ some to butter pan) softened
1/4 cup sour cream
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
4.5 large eggs, room temperature (yeah, sorry about that half egg thing...)
1 cup blueberries fresh, or frozen (thawed and drained)
zest of one lemon
1 Tablespoon powdered sugar 

Directions:
Oven temp: 325
1. Cream together the sugar, butter and sour cream with a hand mixer or standing mixer.
2. Add eggs and vanilla slowly to butter mixture and continue to blend
3. Add the lemon zest to the butter/sugar/egg mixture
4. Combine the flour and salt in a separate bowl
5. Fold together the flour mixture and the wet ingredients until smooth
6. Fold in the blueberries
7. Butter your baking dish and pour in the batter
8. Bake until a toothpick comes out clean, up to 65 minutes.
9. Let cool, then sprinkle with powdered sugar.




Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Mushroom Tart

One of the first places I look for food inspiration is Martha Stewart's website.  She is so good at everything you sort of want to hate her, right? And she has built an empire. But then you try a couple of her recipes and see how easy and delicious they are. A few martha stewart recipes I have posted on this blog so far include Bacon Jam (which was such a hit this New Years!),  Roasted Roots and Tubers Pizza, and Spiced mixed nuts.  I spent some time browsing her website now that I am back in action blogging recipes, and I decided to do a week of Martha. It just had to be done. And to kick it off right, I made this beautiful and simple Mushroom Tart.




The process is simple, the result rewarding. A sheet of puff pastry, baby spinach, goat cheese, a clove of garlic, and a variety of types of mushrooms (I used cremini and shataki.) If you can saute vegetables in pan, you can probably make this delicious appetizer.


Mushroom Tart
Recipe inspired by MarthaStewart.com, however my steps and choice of ingredients differ a bit
Ingredients:
1 sheet of puff pastry
1 TBS olive oil
1 lb of mushrooms of your choice, sliced
a handful of baby spinach
1 clove of garlic, minced
soft goat cheese
1 TBS melted butter

1. Heat olive oil in a pan over medium heat
2. Add minced garlic, allow it to cook a couple of minutes until just golden
3. Add the mushrooms to the pan, and cook until they are tender
4. Fold in the spinach
5. Lay out your puff pastry (the instructions on the box may suggest to allow it to sit for 10 minutes to defrost) on a buttered baking sheet
6. Top with your mushroom mixture, salt, pepper and sprinkle with goat cheese
7. Using a pastry brush, apply the melted butter to any exposed edges of puff pastry
8. Bake at 400 for 15 minutes, or until edges are golden and crisp

Notes:

This tart would be delicious with any variety of wild mushrooms. I droll imagining it with Hen-of-the-woods. My choice of and shataki is easy to find at grocery stores and relatively inexpensive. I used primarily the cremini (also called baby bella), and suplimented with a couple of shataki mushrooms sliced thin (tough stems removed)


The secret for perfectly browned puff pastry (which is luckily the sort of item even serious chefs buy premade from the grocery store...hence the ease of this recipe) is to brush any exposed parts with either melted butter or egg wash to aid in browning. You can choose to do this step at the end, removing the tart from the oven a few minutes before the end of the cook time, buttering it and returning it, if you are worried about the edges burning, or include it as a step before placing the item in the oven.

If you are making this ahead of time a few additional minutes to heat up in the oven (preferably on a pizza stone) will bring back any crispness it may have lost from sitting out. I made this early in the day (to accommodate bright sunlit pictures) but served it at night. A quick heat-up was all it needed.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

All in a year

While reading a year recap of the design changes posted by Michelle over at Decor and the Dog I started to think about how much has changed in my own home this year. It's a lot!



Earlier this year I painted my kitchen. I went from hating the boring look of the space:

To loving it's cheerful, colorful make-over:

In my living room I went from making excuses ("it's all stuff that came from my last apartment mixed in with my roommate's old stuff." "there are so many of us living here that having enough seating takes priority over design"):

 To having a space that I love the look of and the functionality. Ultimately a lot of stuff stayed the same, but new throw pillows, chairs, curtains and wall art made a big impact:
I've also made big changes in my bedroom this year.

2 years ago I loved the combination of chocolate brown and light blue, and I put my room together using those colors. I loved it at first, but soon the dark colors and repetitive color palate was driving me crazy!

In the end I rearranged the furniture, built  a new headboard, replaced the desk, and gave the room a dose of color with a painted stencil and some bright paint in the new "desk nook" :



And I made some updates in my foyer/entryway.

(I need a better picture of this now that I have a better camera!)

So that does seem like a lot of changes, doesn't it? A few more improvements I am planning to make in the upcoming year include replacing some photos on this site with better quality pictures taken with my new camera, and posted more recipes since it's been awhile.  I also have a few small projects I am planning on taking on, and we will see what else the new year brings!

Outside of the blog I have a lot of new and exciting things on my plate for 2012, I have started a 30 before 30 list with some lofty goals (good thing i have 5 years to accomplish them.) How was everyone's new years? Anybody make any resolutions they are excited to work towards? In what ways have your homes changed this year? What other significant changes have you seen in 2011? What are you looking forward to see change in 2012?


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