Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Seen in My Backyard...

...a few days ago.

Nice, right? There were two additional deer to the right a little more, but they were hidden from the camera by a little tree in the backyard.

They just sat there and chilled for an hour or so.

Pasta with Brie, Mushrooms, and Arugula 2-11-10

Last Thursday's menu was awesome. Awesome, I tell you!

Without further ado, I will provide you with the picture I took two days later (after reheating my plated food twice because I set it up and then realized that my camera battery was dead... so ignore the sweating mushrooms, please).

I will not be writing up the recipes in full. Because they're already written up in full. Elsewhere. And I can't condone duplication. (Forget the fact that I did last week. And the week before.) Especially when I dislike what Blogger does when I try to use bullet points.

Pasta with Brie, mushrooms, and arugula
from Real Simple November 2009
Love it. Absolutely will make it again. (Even though I'm technically allergic to mushrooms.)

Artichoke and Tomato Bruschetta
from Shape magazine
Ambrosia. This stuff is truly incredible. I made it again this weekend because I liked it so much. Mmmmmm... (oh, and I used canned artichokes. Couldn't find any frozen arti hearts at Target.) (And I'm pretty sure I put in more garlic than was called for. But really, that can only be a good thing.)

Apple Crisp
from the Pioneer Woman's Tasty Kitchen food forum-thingy
I found this recipe to have great flavor, but there wasn't nearly enough topping, so I ended up having to make a second batch of topping. And the topping as given in the recipe turned out too moist, so I just made up a new version on the second go-round. Added a bit more flour and some old-fashioned oats. I really like what the cranberries and lemon do for the flavor, though. Gives it a bit more tartness than a regular crisp.

So, there you have it. All-around a delicious meal. Even if I did char the crostini when I broiled them.

This week I was feeling a little Asian persuasion... so on Thursday we're having a healthier version of Kung Pao chicken with fried rice and a side of bok choy, and then we're having butterscotch brownies for dessert (I know... SO super Asian. Xie xie.)

Friday, February 12, 2010

Get ready... you'll love it.

This week's menu changed a little because I didn't have the guts to do soufflé, and no one had fresh cranberries for a pear and cranberry crisp.

So, we had rigatoni with brie, mushrooms, and arugula; tomato and artichoke bruschetta; and apple crisp.

It was sooooo good. Seriously. I could eat that bruschetta until I explode.

I don't think I'll get the pics and recipes up today, so stop back tomorrow for the full report.

Friday, February 5, 2010

SOLD! (or, 17/101)

So, last night I sold my first paining ever! It was #17 in my list of goals to accomplish before fall 2011, and now I can check it off the list!
Jessica saw this painting hanging around in my room, and offered to buy it outright. She picked it up on Thursday when she came for dinner.

Thanks, Jessica!

Mahi-Mahi with Citrus Tomatoes - 2/4/10

Once again, I forgot to take pictures. So I'm relying on the websites of the magaines from which I tore the recipes. (And I have assigned two regular Supp-ers to remind me to take a picture of my own plate each week.)

Halibut with Citrusy Tomatoes and Capers
from Real Simple, November 2009
-1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon olive oil
-2 cloves garlic, sliced
-1 pint grape tomatoes, cut in half
-1/2 cup fresh orange juice
-1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped*
-2 tablespoons capers
-salt and pepper
-4 6-oz pieces boneless skinless halibut fillet, or some other firm-fleshed white fish

1. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring often, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes, orange juice, parsley, capers**, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and simmer until some of the tomatoes begin to break down, 4 to 5 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, heat the remaining teaspoon of oil in a large nonstick skiller over medium-high heat. Season the fish with salt and pepper. Cook until opaque throughout, 3 to 5 minutes per side. Serve with the tomatoes.

*The recipe doesn't call for chopping the parsley. After making this dish, I will definitely chop it in the future. Otherwise the parsley sort of clumps together, and taking a big bite of parsley just isn't tasty to me.
**If you don't like capers, I think the tomato... relish?... would be great without it. I go back and forth with capers, but in this case, the tomatoes were slightly too caper-y for my taste, so I would reduce the number of capers by 1/3 to 1/2, or rinse them and add them in the last minute of simmering so their flavor stays localized more instead of infusing the whole mixture with caperiness.

Grilled Vegetables with Basalmic Dressing
from Shape magazine, issue unknown

-1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
-1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
-3 garlic cloves, minced
-1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, chopped
-1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
-Salt and pepper to taste
-1 red onion, cut into 8 wedges
-2 zucchini, quartered lengthwise
-2 yellow squash, quartered lengthwise
-12 ounces asparagus, trimmed
-1 roasted red bell pepper, cut into strips
-1 1/2 cups lightly packed arugula, chopped*
-1 cup mixed baby greens*
-2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped*

1. In a medium bowl, whisk first 4 ingredients to make the dressing. Gradually whisk in oil. Season with salt and pepper.
2. Heat barbecue or indoor grill to medium high. Brush onion, zucchini, yellow squash, and asparagus with 1/2 of the balsamic dressing. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill vegetables until just cooked through, turning occasionally (8 minutes for onion, zucchini, and yellow squash; 5 minutes for asparagus). Allow to cool slightly, then cut vegetables into bite-size pieces and place in large serving bowl.
3. Add roasted bell pepper, arugula, and greens; toss with enough remaining dressing to coat. Season with salt, pepper, and parsley.*

*didn't do it.

So... I really strayed from the recipe on here, because the original was more of a salad-y presentation. I just wanted the veggies. So basically we just brushed them with the dressing, grilled them, and served them as-is. Yum-o. We forgot to toss them with additional dressing, which would have been even better.

Easy ice cream cake
From Real Simple, issue unknown

-1 cup heavy cream
-2 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar (powdered sugar)
-6 ice cream sandwiches (3.5-4 oz. each)
-2 1.5 oz. candy bars or ½ cup chocolate chips, chopped

1. Line and 8.5x4.5-inch loaf pan with a piece of wax paper*, allowing it to hang over on both long sides.
2. In a large bowl, beat the cream and sugar until stiff peaks form.
3. In the bottom of the pan, arrange 3 of the sandwiches in a single layer, cutting them to fit as necessary. Spread with half the whipped cream. Repeat with the remaining sandwiches and whipped cream.
4. Sprinkle the top of the cake with the chopped candy bar. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze until firm, at least one hour and up to one week.
5. Holding both sides of the paper overhang, lift the cake out of the pan and transfer to a platter. Discard the paper, slice the cake, and serve.

*I would recommend plastic wrap instead of wax paper. The wax paper tore to bits as I was trying to pull it off from around the corners of the cake. Yuck.

Overall, I don’t think I will make this cake again. Maybe for little kids, but the texture of it was just too dry and crumbly for me. It was easy, though, so that’s definitely a bonus.

Thursday, February 4, 2010


So, my best friend has a supremely unflattering picture of me as her profile picture on Facebook. (Well, she's in it, too. But still. SHE looks cute.)


That's all.

If it's there come Monday, we might not be friends anymore.


(Kind of.)

Monday, February 1, 2010

Broiled Chicken with Provencal Herbs - 1/28/10

For the inaugural meeting of the Thursday night supper club, I decided to go with something that sounded simple.

  • Green salad (no iceberg allowed, y'all)
  • Broiled chicken with provencal herbs
  • Quinoa salad with slivered almonds and dried apricots
  • Creme Brulee
Well, sounding simple and being simple in practice are two completely separate issues. The process of cooking any portion of this meal wasn't complicated at all. However, adding them all together was a little... chaotic. Add in the fact that I had never made either the main dish or the main side dish--and that I was cooking (by myself) for anywhere from 9-12 people, and you won't be surpised to hear that I was on the verge of ordering pizza when help (i.e., the guests who are also great friends) arrived and rescued me from myself. (And the smoke alarm, which just wouldn't STOP.)

Ahem. So. Despite the chaos and all of my nerves, it went incredibly well. The food was delicious, the company was great, and...

I completely forgot to take pictures.

So here's my several-days-later shot of the chicken and quinoa salad. Try to ignore the grody-ness of the chicken skin. It was really plump, crispy, and delicious on Thursday. (And that salad is to die for. Everyone loves it. You will, too--unless you detest cayenne pepper.)

Here are the recipes:

Grilled or Broiled Chicken with Provençal Flavors*
from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything (10th anniv. ed.)
~serves 4~

  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

  • 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary leaves

  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh lavender leaves (optional)**

  • 1/4 cup roughly chopped fresh parsley leaves

  • salt

  • freshly ground black pepper

  • extra virgin olive oil

  • 8 bay leaves

  • 1 whole chicken, 3-4 pounds, trimmed of excess fat and cut into 8 pieces, or any combination of parts

  • lemon wedges

  1. Heat the broiler to moderate heat and put the rack about 6 inches from the heat.

  2. Combine herbs in a bowl, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and add enough olive oil to make a paste. Loosen the skin of the chicken and slide a bay leaf between the skin and the meat of each piece, then insert a portion of the herb paste. Re-form the skin over the flesh and sprinkle with a little more salt and pepper.

  3. To broil, start with the skin side down, making sure the pieces do not burn, until the chicken is nearly done, about 15 minutes.*** Then turn and cook until done, 5 to 10 minutes longer.

  4. Serve hot, warm, or at room temperature with the lemon wedges. (The bay leaf is not edible.)
*Okay, so I took some liberty with the name. I like mine better.
** According to Mr. Bittman. Not optional according to me. The lavender gives an amazing flavor. (But I have to admit I used dried herbs and just cut the measurements to 1/3.)
*** Do NOT brush with additional olive oil before broiling. This will cause a falling-out with your smoke alarm.

Quinoa Salad with Dried Apricot
also from Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything (10th anniv. ed.)
~serves 4~

  • 3-4 cups cooked quinoa, cooled

  • 1 cup chopped dried apricots

  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted

  • 1/4 cup chopped scallion

  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup vinaigrette made with white wine vinegar

  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander

  •  2 teaspoons ground ginger

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cayenne (start with 1/2 tsp. and add more if you want more heat) (or omit it altogether)

  • salt

  • freshly ground pepper

  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves

  1. Put the quinoa, apricots, almonds, and scallion in a large bowl. Add the vinaigrette and sprinkle on the spices, salt, and pepper. Use two big forks to combine, fluffing the quinoa and tossing gently to separate the grains.

  2. Stir in the cilantro, taste, and adjust the seasoning or add a little more dressing. Serve at room temperature (can be refrigerated for up to one day).
Classic Vanille Crème Brulée
from Williams-Sonoma Kitchen
  • 1/2 vanilla bean (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 4 egg yolks
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup plus 8 to 12 tsp sugar
  1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 300*F. Have a medium saucepan of boiling water ready. Line a shallow baking pan with a small kitchen towel.
  2. Using a paring knife, split the vanilla bean lengthwise down the middle and scrape the seeds into a 2-quart saucepan. Add the cream and the split vanilla bean, stir to mix, and set the pan over medium heat. Warm the cream until bubbles form around the edge and steam begins to rise from the surface. (Watch for a skin to form, because it will trap the steam and you'll think it's not ready.) Remove from the heat and set aside to steep, about 15 minutes.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, salt and the 1/4 cup sugar untili the mixture is pale yellow and thick ribbons fall from the whisk, about 5 minutes*. Gradually add the cream mixture, whisking until blended. Pour the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve set over a bowl. Divide the mixture among four 4-oz. ramekins** and place the ramekins in the prepared baking pan. Add boiling waterto fill halfway up the side of the ramekinis. Cover the pan loosely with aluminum foil and bake until the custards are just set around the edges, 30-35 minutes.
  4. Transfer the ramekins to a wire rack and let cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to 3 days***.
  5. To serve, sprinkle 2 to 3 teaspoons sugar over each custard. Using a kitchen torch, melt the sugar by holding the ramekin in your hand and carefully waving the flame over the sugar until melted and golden. (It also helps to rotate the ramekin so the melted sugar doesn't cover up non-melted sugar and make a hidden, gritty layer under the caramelized sugar.)
  6. Serve immediately. (Don't caramelize sugar on custards that won't be eaten right away.)
*Or about 1.5 minutes with a blender. Hello.
**A funnel is extremely useful for this task. Buy one.
***Or like an hour.