Friday, November 30, 2012

November Recap

November has been a very busy month around here.  First there was cleaning up all the Halloween décor.  Then there was prepping the house for our Fall dinner party, and of course hosting said dinner party.  Next I had a last minute Thanksgiving panic attack and decided that I just had to put some kind of pretty something on the Thanksgiving table.  That was followed by mad woman cleaning since the in-laws were coming for Thanksgiving.  Then there was the post in-law clean up the house and get back in to our groove session.  All that with a little Christmas shopping, Christmas crafting, and a whole lot of research thrown in for good measure.  And let’s don’t forget meal planning sessions, dental cleanings, and a myriad of other mundane activities along the way.

Starting with a trip to Shapiro’s Deli where my husband had the largest salami sandwich I have ever seen.  Don’t get me wrong, I like salami, but this sandwich made my esophagus burn just looking at it.

Then, we had a little dusting of snow a few days after that.  I was hopefully that meant more was on it’s way, but so far, no dice.  Sorry, the snow was so lack luster that I didn't take any pics!

About a week before Thanksgiving I got panicky because there was no Fall décor in the house.  So I went to Hobby Lobby, and lo and behold all the Fall décor was 80% off.  It was also 75% off at Garden Ridge.  I scored some great stuff.

One of my projects started out with these items (two small carvable foam pumpkins and two sunflower bouquets)…

And turned in to these arrangements.

The table ended up looking like this.

All the items on the table were either bought at Garden Ridge or Hobby Lobby and there was less than $20 in the whole spread of décor.  I know that I should have posted this earlier so others could reap the bounty too, but I did post it on facebook, and quite a few of my friends got in on the deals.

This was our Thanksgiving meal.  Minus the steamed green beans, deviled eggs and the homemade cranberry sauce.  Do you like canned sauce?  I really enjoy making it homemade with tons of orange zest, and it is great on leftover turkey sandwiches.

We had herbed turkey breast, and a smoked turkey leg with gravy (no giblets), Fall salad with walnuts, apples, dried cranberries, bleu cheese and an apple cider vinaigrette, dressing muffins (single serving size and they cook much faster than a pan of dressing), roasted Fall veggies (carrots, sweet potatoes, parsnips, and butternut squash) with cinnamon, smoked paprika, and cumin, and roasty toasty caramelized Brussels sprouts.

This is what our table looked like once all the candles were lit (that is my father in law in the background).  Can you believe that we did not have wine with dinner?  I was having tummy troubles, and didn’t want to make them worse with alcohol, and lets just say everyone else at the dinner table had less refined taste in beverages than I do.  Can you say chocowine (bleh)?

Just yesterday, I was very excited to find these at Meijers

I had read about them on various other blogs that I follow, and I was just thrilled to find them.  We had them for dinner last night, and I have to say that they totally lived up to all the hype!

Well, folks, that is really all that I have for now.  I know that I did more in November, but alas I was a bad picture taker.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Bad Blogger!

I know, I know...I have not been a very good blogger this month.  Seeing as it has been over two weeks since my last post, I am hoping that I have not lost all of my readers!

I am working on a November recap that should post tomorrow (if my photos will upload some time this decade).

Until then, stick with me folks, I haven't disappeared...not yet!  I have some fun things to share coming up in December too that you are not going to want to miss!

Monday, November 12, 2012

Friends, Food and Belly Laughts

Saturday, I finally got around to having my annual Fall Dinner Party.  I am sorry to say that I never once got my camera out.  I know, I know.  I was just a little too in the moment to grab the phone or camera (which I finally found).

I ended up making three recipes out of my last two issues of Bon Appetit.  They were:

Pimenton Roast Chicken with Crispy Potatoes

Apple Croustades

and last but not least Parker House Rolls.

We started our meal with a salad of mixed greens, brie, roasted walnuts, and pears along with a store bought pomegranate vinaigrette.  We also had Oven Roasted Asparagus in the way that Ina would make it, and Oven Roasted Mixed Veggies (onions, mushrooms, zucchini, red peppers, yellow peppers, olive oil, S&P, 500 degrees, 20 mins).

The chicken was was really good.  I only marinaded it for about 6 hours, and I can only imagine it would have been unbelievably good had we been able to do it overnight.  I learned a few things along the way while making it.  The paprika/garlic paste would not spread out, but once I wrapped the chickens in stretch-tite, I was able to use it spread the paste very nicely over the chickens.  Next time I make it, I will start the cooking process with the chickens breast down, and then flip them breast up when you are supposed to turn the oven down (30 minutes in).  The thighs took a long time to get done and were a little soggy, I think that flipping the chicken would alleviate this problem, and if I were only making one chicken, I might even consider doing it beer can style among the potatoes.  The recipe states that you can make the chicken and potatoes in a separate pan, but I say that would be a mistake.  The chicken lends great depth of flavor to the potatoes, and my dinner guests just kept raving about how good the potatoes were.  Chicken is the new pork fat. ;)

The Parker House Rolls were pretty good.  They were not as good as I had hoped, but I think if I used softened butter in between the rolls instead of melted, that might have done the trick.  Also, I hand kneaded the dough, and I think next time I would throw it in the kitchenaid with the dough hook.  To me, this always yields a smoother dough than when I hand knead.  All that said, everyone really enjoyed the rolls, and someone took the leftovers home with them.

The Apple Croustades had a great taste, but I felt like they were a little fussy to make, and I probably wouldn't make them again.  They just didn't offer enough wow factor for the effort.

On a funny side note, our neighborhood was having a bonfire Saturday night.  As soon as some of our guests arrived, one of the neighbors came by and told us we really needed to come to the bonfire because it was going to be a lot of fun.  Great...maybe we will stop by.

About 45 minutes later, the same neighbor, now about three glasses of wine in comes by, slurring her speech, and telling us we really need to come by, because they are having a blast.  After which, she falls down in my yard.  We all got a good giggle out of that.

Another hour or so later, the door bell rings, and there is the same neighbor.  Up until this point, only my hubby had been dealing with her.  This time I went to the door, and here is where it got creepy.  She looks at me with that "we all bundle" kind of stare, and says, "Everyone is there, you all have to come over."  Then she runs her fingers through my hair and says, "You have such pretty hair, I wish my hair was like yours!"  Yikes, it was totally a single white female kind of moment.  But, after the door was closed, and I made sure she didn't fall down the stairs, we all got some major belly laughs over it, and I am sure that though the food was great, this dinner party will be remembered for the crazy neighbor!

***I paired our meal with a Casillero del Diablo 2010 Carmenere wine.  It paired beautifully with the whole meal!  At first I was afraid it was going to be too oaky for my liking, but after the glass breathed for just a few minutes, it was fabulous!  It is less tannic than a merlot, but it is a deep red wine.  The berry flavor came through strong with hints of coffee and an almost chocolatey finish.  This Chilean wine may very well grace our Thanksgiving table, and you should give it some thought for yours as well!***

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Little Elvis

I know I am running late getting this done, but here is Marcus in his Elvis costume!

This started with two bags of rhinestones, a yard of white double knit, a yard of red lining, a pair of thrift store white bell bottoms, and a white button up shirt.

We decided that a patriotic themed Elvis was appropriate considering this is an election year.

First, we glued blue rhinestones to the cuffs of the shirt and red rhinestones to the collar.

Next, I created a red, white/clear, and blue design on the outside of the legs of the bell bottoms.

I cut a 18x24 rectangle out of both the white double knit and the red lining.  I folded the edges of the double knit over the lining, and used heat fused tape to bond them together.  This is as easy as putting a piece of tape in between and ironing it.

After this piece looked finished I flipped to the all white side, and spelled out Elvis in clear rhinestones, and then placed a ton of red white and blue rhinestones all over.  I sewed (just a quick whip stitch) the cape to the shirt.

All that was left to do for the actual costume was to make a USA belt, and cut a strip of red lining for a red scarf (I didn't even finish the edges of it).

We had bought an Elvis wig, but it was horrid!  So instead, I used black hair spray for Marcus's hair, and drew on sideburns with a black makeup stick.  I also darkened his eyebrows with the same makeup stick.  Please note that if your child has blonde hair, it is really hard to cover it with black spray.  Every time they move little blonde hairs will pop out.  We ended up doing 3 touch up jobs.

For those who are interested, we decided on Elvis for two reasons: 1. Marcus has become a huge Elvis fan this past year after purchasing the Lilo and Stitch soundtrack for a quarter at a yard sale (that's my kid), and 2. Marcus's grandmother is a HUGE Elvis fan, and she actually told him she would put extra money in his Halloween card if he went as Elvis.  She held true to her promise!

Pho Sho!

When my husband and I lived in Atlanta, we became quite versed in Vietnamese food.  There are many Vietnamese noodle houses lining Buford Highway, and we tried many of them.  We have also had Phở in Michigan, Kentucky, Alabama, South Carolina, New York, Nevada, and even in the middle of the Caribbean Sea.  Needless to say, we consider ourselves Phở connoisseurs.

Imagine how happy we were when found a place for good Phở here in Indy.  If you haven't visited Egg Roll #1 off of Emerson, you need to go.  It isn't quite Atlanta Phở, but it is the closest we have had since leaving there!

This is a bowl of hot Heavenly goodness. Phở is a great cure all.  It helps with hangovers, as well as seasonal colds and allergies.  I like mine with lots of sriracha.  The accoutrements on the side are bean sprouts, Thai basil, limes, and jalapenos.  You actually add those to the soup.  In Atlanta, there was also cilantro and mint on the accoutrement plate, but we have found that varies by region.

Also, I found this great website for all things Pho, including a state by state directory of Pho restaurants.  I was disappointed to see that Atlanta was not one of the top pho cities, considering we had pho there long before it was cool.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Thursday Three-way - Asian Marinade

I think on Thursdays for a while I am going to try to show you a sauce, marinade or other recipe that you can use three different ways.  I hope that everyone likes this idea.  I also hope it doesn't attract some creeps to my blog.  Tehehe!

This week's Asian Marinade went something like this...

For the marinade, I grated about an inch of ginger, and one large clove of garlic in to a bowl.  I added 1/4 cup of tamari, 2 tablespoons of light brown sugar, and a splash of orange juice, and mixed them til combined (it was still a little grainy).

I poured about a tablespoon of the marinade on to my side of salmon (Wild Caught Alaskan Salmon purchased at Aldi on the cheap), and brushed it on til it had a nice even coating.

 I then placed it in to a 475 degree oven (on a sheet pan obviously) and after 7 minutes took it out to give it another coat of shellac marinade.

 While it cooked the remaining 4 minutes (for a total of 11 minutes cooking time), I steamed a bag of carrots and broccoli.

 To which I added a generous tablespoon of the Asian marinade for flavor.

At this time, the salmon was finished and came out of the oven to rest.

Next, I took the remaining marinade (maybe a little over a tablespoon) and added peanut butter (about 1/4) to it because I had not been to the store to get almond butter and was too lazy too pulse some up in the food processor.

I had to pop it in the microwave for 15 seconds to get it to mix in to a smooth consistency.  If I had been making this for just the adults, I would have added a nice squeeze of sriracha to the mix for kicked up heat.

This was mixed with leftover brown rice noodles for a quick peanut noodle dish.  Normally when I make this I would add carrot shreds, edamame, and colored peppers to the noodles for added flavor and texture, but we had none of those items in the house that night.

  So, we ended up having an Asian glazed salmon, with soy ginger steamed vegetables, and peanut noodles for dinner.

 One sauce, three ways...ENJOY!