Sunday, August 11, 2013

Too Cute to Eat!

Ugh, I really should learn to listen to my sister; she's usually right. She was right bout ING, Amazon, and, as it turns out, Pintrest. I've been addicted to Pintrest for several months now and, really, how did I find things to make without it? It' so easy to store recipes and keep track of dishes I have made.  One of my most recent creation? Hedgehog cookies!


Almost too cute to eat, almost.

It took some practice to get the cookies to form into hedgehog shapes. The recipe definitely makes it seem easier than it really is and the first few batches looked like a hedgehog roadkill. You really have to get the eyes right or they can come out looking like crazed rodents. Oh, and I used almonds instead of walnuts because that's all we had.

They are so cute, I did feel kind of bad eating them but they tasted too good not to eat!

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Heel Toe, Heel Toe


I am thinking of becoming one of those women who never wear flats. "Oh no, I don't do flats," I would say, "they hurt my feet." Kidding of course, I can't give up my oxfords and loafers and ballets. Besides, women who never wear flats end up with gross looking feet when they get old. And, how they manage to walk down staircases gracefully is beyond me. 

Recently, I have started to really enjoying wearing heels. I think I look better and walk more gracefully in them. There's an Oscar de la Renta quote that goes something like, "Walk like there are three men behind you" (or something to that effect). I'm not there, but at least I don't clomp around like a toddler that just learned how to walk. "Graceful" has never been used to describe anything I do. Heels are a bit hard to find in my size and since my job requires me to be on my feet all day I'm not used to wearing heels anymore.

But, I figure practice makes perfect and maybe, after time, my feet will get used to the feeling. And yes, there is a slight judging thing going on.

Oh if only it was easier to find heels that fit...

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Blueberry Mojito Cocktail


I'm still trying to get a hang of being a bartender, neigh, a mixologist. I've figured out that gin or rum with fizzy water and fruit equals yum. Throw something green in there (like basil or mint or rosemary) and it's magic. It's the presentation that I can't seem to get right.  Maybe I need better bar ware. Oh my perfect bar is out there somewhere and it looks like this:



Some day. 

In the mean time Michael's been a good sport and drinking my practice drinks. Recently I made Blueberry Mojito Cocktail.

  

Refreshing during the random hot days we've been having; tastes just as good virgin. I just need to get it to look like the picture. Maybe a smaller cup...?

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Cross One Off the Bucket List!

A few months ago, a French cafe opened in our mall, Paul. I was eagerly anticipating their opening because their construction store front had pictures of macarons. Macarons! Finally, a place where I can get some macarons. And you know, they did not disappoint.



Well, they kind of did because you can't buy the macarons separately. You can either buy a pack of dozen for $15, or a giant macaron for like $6. That's a bit rich for me, even if it is the size of a Whopper Jr.

 You know, I always thought macarons would be very difficult to  make- require all kinds of special ingredients, and tools. But, once I discovered that almond flour is just pulverized almonds, it was all good. There are certainly lots of really complicated recipes out there but I used Martha Stewart's recipe which was the simplest.


Almond flour with confectioner's sugar and a little bit of cocoa tastes amazing! I want to sprinkle it over everything and just die fat. 

Piping the dough did require talent that I did not yet have. It also requires a piping bag and tip, which I also did not have. I used a zip lock bag with the corner cut off and it worked with mixed results. "Does the recipe tell you to make it look like cat poop?" asked Michael. So supportive. They turned out all kinds of squished and weird. This was one of the best of the bunch.


I didn't bother to make any fancy fillings because, really, what can beat Nutella?


 My sister recommended drawing circles on the bottom side of the parchment paper and tracing it with the piping bag. She's so smart. I'm going remember that next time, though, I'm not sure when next time will be. I still have a giant freezer bag full of macarons in the fridge. They're good but it so sweet that eating two will put you in a diabetic shock. Or, maybe I was just OD'ed on sugar since I was eating spoonfuls of the almond-sugar-cocoa mixture while baking. Note to self, cut the amount of confectioner sugar by half.

My ultimate goal is to start making macarons that look like this:


Or, better yet, Hello Kitty Macarons!


Which I will eat while drinking this:



I need to go work on my milk foaming skills.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Bookmark Clean Out!

It's almost Spring!!!

Lately I have been obsessed with cleaning the house. This would be a good thing except that obsession doesn't necessarily lead to action. I've been thinking a lot about cleaning the house, researched cleaning the house, and decided exactly how thoroughly I want to clean the house but there hasn't been too much cleaning going on. Well, that's not true. The last two days that I didn't work has been spent cleaning. And while I know the house is cleaner it just doesn't feel cleaner because there's a big difference between clean and messy. I'm getting there though.

Speaking of cleaning, here're some bookmarks I'm cleaning out.

Thrift Store Calling: Paper Sorters Gone Wild- You know, I never considered buying any paper sorters but my freezer is in desperate need of some organization.

Magnificent Castles of Germany- When I was little my mom used to have this book that had beautiful pictures of European castles. I would stare at them with such wonder. I love castles.

Homemade Chai- Michael is a big chai drinker and I haven't decided if my theory is right or not. Ever since he left Starbucks he's had a hard time finding a place that can make a good chai latte. Maybe I'll give this a try.

Make Leaf Art- Got to remember this for fall.

Not Just for Girls- A very interesting article but I'm most fascinated by the picture on the bottom. Why can't I look that good in unisex looks?



How to Pick the Right Wife- It's hilarious, then it's sad... then it just kind of makes you angry, then it becomes kind of funny again... while being sad.

Meet the Shallow Looksists Who Fall in Love With Internet Liars- Oh, I keep meaning to DVR Catfish.

In New Castle, PA., Trying to Break Free of Poverty- Growing up in an semi-affluent area tends to skew one's perception of what "poverty". My parents might not have been able to afford summer vacation trips and I may have had to share a bathroom growing up but at least my parents could afford to give me a future.

22 Terrible Things that Must End in 2013- Is "Stay Calm and XYZ" still a thing? Totally agree with a lot of things but there's nothing wrong with taking pictures of food. People like food.

26 Moments that Restored Our Faith in Humanity- Sometimes you just need to feel good about the world you live in.


5 Secret Criminal Uses for Stuff They Sell in Gas Stations- You know, I always did wonder what husband buys their wives those awful fake flowers in a glass tube. I never knew.

All Things Wise and Wonderful- I'm going to have to try that cracked china in a milk thing. I wonder if it only works with certain types of china.


Thursday, February 28, 2013

Waste Not, Want Not

Back when Super Storm Sandy was threatening to destroy all of the East Coast Michael and I got a wee bit caught up in prepping. We didn't go out and buy a generator or anything but we might have bought a couple of things we didn't need... like sparkling water. The plan was to buy bottled water but there were none to be found so, sparkling water it is! Not just regular sparkling water either, no, those were all taken. We got stuck with the lime flavored sparkling water.

Several months later they're still sitting in our fridge. They don't taste good by themselves but they do come in handy when you want to make pretty drinks.

This was made with just lemon thyme simple syrup, frozen berries, and sparkling water.


I like the color more than I like the taste. I didn't really get much of a berry taste and it was awkward to try and get the berry out afterwards.

For this one I muddled the berries with the simple syrup, added a little gin, and threw a few frozen berries in there as ice cubes.


I was told that it wasn't the best drink I made but, it's one of the prettiest.

Only like 5 and a half more bottles of sparkling water to go!

Friday, February 22, 2013

When the Moon Hits Your Eye

I know it's a little late to be talking about Valentines Day but I just wanted to show off our Valentine's Day dinner- a homemade heart shaped pizza.




The perks of being spending the rest of your life with someone you love is that they introduce you to things that you think you're going to hate, but don't. For example, salami. I'm not a big fan of processed meats and I spent my whole life thinking they would be gross, but they're not. In fact, they're very good. I prefer them over pepperoni on my pizza.

Originally we had reservations at Hooked but I asked him to cancel it. Hooked is a seafood restaurant in Sterling and it's probably the best seafood restaurant in Loudoun... though, to be fair, that's not really saying much... We first went years ago back when they were in their tiny location near the Fairfax County Pkwy exit (now Mokomandy, btw) because Tom Sietsema (the Washington Post food critic) had given it rave reviews and, unlike most of the restaurants he reviews, it was actually close to home. Back when they were Baby Hooked the place had an intimate, local gem kind of feel to it. Several years ago they've expanded to this huge location with a decor that... tries. There's just something about the place that seems so unauthentic. When I walk in I feel like I'm in a restaurant that's trying to pretend like it's a restaurant/lounge/club in a major city... Only we're next to a Target... It just comes across like it's trying to hard. We met the owner's sister who told us that the owner spent over a million dollars renovating, that he designed the place himself, and that he went to London for inspiration. Well, good for him, I guess.

Did you ever go to school with kid who's parents were wealthier than most students and they went around kind of being douche about it while fake pretending that they weren't? Hooked reminds me of that kid. I've been there three times since they moved and, while the food is good, it's not worth it for the price, the pretentiousness, and the poor service. I'd rather go to Ford's Fish Shack (in Ashburn), which is actually classier than the name would imply.

But yea, back to the pizza. It  might not be fancy (though I kind of think it is, did you notice that it's in the shape of  a heart?) but it was made with love (and salami).

Monday, February 11, 2013

Semi-Homemade Stuffed Mushrooms

We have a rule that whoever comes home first is responsible for dinner. This works well for me since Michael is always home earlier than me. I have to admit that I am pleasantly surprised at some of the dish he's been serving. Lately he has started to get creative and created this stuffed mushroom. It's just regular button mushroom stuffed with good old Stouffer's Stove Top Stuffing.


 It makes a great side dish to grilled chicken or fish.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Gnocchi Made In House

Part of what I like about cooking is that it makes me feel skilled; like I'm good at something. There's just this good feeling that comes with producing something tangible that makes other people happy. There are a lot of people out there who can cook well, but there are also a lot of people out there who can't. And, cooking is one of those things that easily impresses people. "You make it from scratch?' Why yes, yes I do! It's like how I get so impressed by anyone who can stitch or knit or glue two things together. "You made that?" I ask. I'm sure it's easier than I think but I'm only capable of one skill and I'll stick with cooking.


So, recently, I learned how to make gnocchi! Oh gnocchi... It's the kind of starchy goodness that just haunts you at night. It's the kind of comfort food you crave. When I found this recipe on line and saw how easy it was I knew I had to try it.

You first start by baking potatoes. It's quicker to boil but I'm wondering if the recipe tells you to bake so they don't become water logged?


Baking is fine. It allowed me to make mini bacon wrapped baked potato to serve as an appetizer. Gnocchi is easy to  make but it is pretty time consuming.


That little dollop to the left is chive butter. You take some butter, you take some chive, and you mush it together. 

After the potatoes cool you put it through a ricer which is a pain in the butt. The recipe says if you don't have a ricer you can grate the potatoes and I might try that instead next time. Once the dough is formed you just rope them out, cut, and  use the back of the fork to get those little ridges.


If you have more gnocchi then you want to eat that day you can freeze them. Do not make the mistake I made. I put the dough in the refrigerator with the intent to make more soon. Two days later I had a brownish, watery, very strongly potato smelling, gross mess. Next time I'll just finish out the dough and freeze the ones I don't eat that day.

Gnocchi take a long time to make (and really most of that is just potato cooking time) but they cook very quickly. You just boil them until they float to the top, which is around two minutes.


Delicious! 

When I think potato I think bacon. The recipe calls for a tomato broth, and I'm sure that's very good, but I sauteed mine with some bacon, spinach,  and mushroom and served it with grated parmigiano cheese.

 

Good times!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Bookmark Cleanout!

I know I'm late to the game but I am lightweight addicted to Pintrest right now. I'm in the process of moving all of my bookmarks to Pintrest. What should I make for dinner tomorrow? It's so much easier to decide when I can actually see the picture of the food then reading the name.  What should I craft on my day off? It is so much easier to decide by looking at the pictures.

That last part is totally made up. I don't have the talents required to make anything (that doesn't look like a fifth grade art project) but it's fun to look at pictures and think that I can.

So, while I continue to waste my day/be inspired on Pintrest, here are some links you can check out.

Zucchini Rice Gratin- Until recently, it never dawned on me that "zucchini" is an Italian word. Zucchini. Even though I have since abandoned Meatless Monday I have been eating more vegetarian entrees then before. This looks good.

DIY Project: Popsicle Stick Chandelier- It's one of those project that is easy enough that I can fool myself into thinking I'll make it one day.

DIY West Elm Morocco Headboard- So this seems super easy, though... Are you supposed to just lean it against the wall and push the bed frame up against it? Nail it against the wall? That reminds me that I need to start looking for a new deal on a mattress; our current one sucks.

 Spaghetti Sauce- One of my favorite dish of all time is spaghetti with meat sauce- not spaghetti with bolognese sauce, but meat sauce. The difference is bolognese is made from scratch and has probably simmered for a good bit. I can't argue that it's bad because it's good. Meat sauce, on the other hand, was made with browned ground beef, sauteed onions and a jar of spaghetti sauce. It takes, like 15 minutes max. It's the taste of my childhood! I would consider this recipe more bolognese then meat but I guess for her it's pretty dumbed down.

Fig, Olive Oil and Sea Salt Challah- Going to keep it real, I'll probably never make this. However, it's nice to think I will make it one day. I've always wanted to make bread from scratch without the aid of a bread maker.

Overnight, No-Cook Refrigerator Oatmeal- My sister gave Michael a yogurt maker for Christmas. Neither of us really understand why since we're not big yogurt people but, hey, something new to try out, right? I don't know if it makes Greek yogurt (and maybe you don't have to use Greek yogurt) but it comes with a bunch of really cute little jars so maybe we'll make our own yogurt and try this.

Faux Painted Oxfords- I'm a sucker for oxfords and I need another wingtip like I need another hole in my head but this looks fun.

My Racial Background is None of Your Business- I probably piss off one client a day by refusing to answer, "What are you?" I don't understand why I'm the rude one for not answering.

Top 10 Ways to Make Yourself Look (and be) Smarter- I used to bee smart. In high school, man, was I smart back then. But this article has got me thinking that perhaps I wasn't really smarter back then, but I just did more of the stuff that was on this list. That is to say, I wasn't smarter overall, just smarter in a different way. Does that make sense? No? Sigh. Maybe if I were smarter I could convey my thoughts in a more coherent way.

50 Home Remedies- My person home remedy is Vicks Vappo rub on your feet when you go to sleep (but some socks on). It works wonders.

Wool Dryer Balls Save Time and Energy- I already stopped using fabric softener in lieu of vinegar. It works well, the clothes are soft, it's good for the environment, the clothes, and my wallet. However, I do miss having that fresh out the dryer scent (vinegar doesn't make the clothes smell like anything, btw).

Queso Fundido- Queso can be eaten for dinner, right?

Easy No Sew Roman Shades- Well, we already have tons of cheap blinds in our house. I'm all for not sewing.

Sharpie Lamps- I can trace, we have a lot of colorful Sharpies, and I can stay inside the line. Too bad I don't need any lamps.

A Story About a DIY Table and Four Awesome Chairs- I got our dinning room table for $25 at Target. You can imagine what kind of a table you can get for $25 at Target. While it suits our needs (for now) I would really like a stronger, more substantial table.