Tuesday, January 31, 2012

What Katie ate...

It's hard in the hurry up and go of every day life to remember the little things that made you fall in love--with a person, your career, a place, your life. Once upon a time all the steps you took to get you where you are right now were ultimately to  get you exactly where you wanted to be more than anything.  Most days its hard to remember this--whether we made it there and realized the grass wasn't really greener, or if we're still on the journey; wondering just how many more steps there are to go. There couldn't be a more appropriate time for this post as the wheels of change have been set in motion in so many aspects of my life...exciting? YES! scary? YES! a few keys to get me through--trust & patience...neither of which are my strong points: We've already established that patience for me doesn't come naturally. It's a practice that as I get older I realize I need to consistently be aware of. Something that I hope that gets easier with time  (......and patience?

Here's a few snippets as to what I've been up to (and more importantly, eating--because somedays, most days, it's what I live for) and how I've been trying to stop to smell the roses, wake up and smell the coffee..yadda yadda yadda. 


A homemade pizza & movie night with fresh mozzerella, roma tomatoes, and basil. We were joined by George Clooney and Ryan Gosling in Ides of March. 


A simple salad enjoyed al fresco in January (god bless the south) consisting of mixed baby greens, apples, bleu cheese, dried cranberries, and a homemade balsamic dressing.


A weekday breakfast of over easy eggs, buttered toast and coffee made extordinary by candle light, coffee and some pretty flowers. (I especially loved this meal because some weeks Dane and I don't get to eat but one or two meals together. This day we knew he would be working extra late, so we turned breakfast into a romantic soiree for two). 

So for now...there's big girl panties to be put on, scarce moments to be treasured and so many adventures waiting in the kitchen.  (I've got some yummy things coming up the next few weeks!)


top image via On Screen Cars

Monday, January 30, 2012

Side notes

Growing up we had a standard family dinner every night at 5:30.  We would have a meat (beef, chicken or pork), a starch (potatoes, rice, pasta) and a vegetable (broccoli, green beans, mixed vegetables--that I always hated-and still do-- because of the addition of lima beans).  When dad and I were left to our own devices I'm pretty sure I ate my teenage weight in both frozen peas and frozen corn (peas for mashed potato nights...you mean YOU haven't have polka dot potatoes?)

I try to balance our dinners the same way but with some new twists to keep things fresh and interesting and slightly more sophisticated (because let's get real--we've already established how glam my life is). 

I've been loving roasted broccoli with olive oil & garlic. It's so simple and easy to make and the flavor is so deep from the roasting process.  I cheated a little bit and used a prepared bag of florettes and tossed them in olive oil before spreading them on a sheet pan and sprinkling with salt and black pepper. I then grated 2 cloves of garlic over the tray and baked at 400 degrees for about 10-15 minutes.  We had ours with some baked salmon and brown rice.{this is a favorite, simple preparation for asparagus,too!}


The green beans here are my newest go-to.  They're one of those delicate vegetables that when done right are addicting and when over cooked are impossible to choke down. Here they're sauteed in olive oil and garlic with salt and pepper for 7-8 minutes on medium high (or until they reach your desired crispness). I kept mine with just a little bit of a bite and so that they just began to caramelize on the bottom.  Just as they're finishing up grate fresh parmesano reggiano over them and they take on a deep rich flavor.  These we enjoyed along side chicken breast and sweet potatoes. 

Sometimes it takes a few small changes to make something you have had a million times seem new and interesting. Consider a different way of cooking it, different flavor palates to try or even create (or recreate) dipping sauces.  I've been working on this, too and hope to share some new favorites with you.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Throw Pillow Make-over

Every year around New Year's I get restless when it comes to the design of our living space.  As renters its hard for us to change too much about our space and we have a hard time investing a lot of money in pieces to fit specific needs of a rental property.  Most of our home has come together nicely, but the living room area--central to entertaining and every day use--has been a bit of a sticking point. The individual accents of our room clashed between a red graphic pattern, a blue throw for cozy nights on the couch and the choice between a blue floral pattern or ill fitting dark brown slipcover for our love seat. It just wasn't working and with the lack of natural light in our space, made every day seem a little bit darker, drab and uninviting.  

I love looking for new accent pieces to add to our space but have a really hard time spending $50 + on throw pillows.  Sure, so many of them are gorgeous and the fabrics luxurious--but let's be honest--next January I'll get the design itch and want to change things up again.

For $4 each I found these beautiful buffet napkins that were the perfect size for our couch pillows and decided they would be the element to tie our space together.. Our last rental space was flooded with afternoon southern sun and required fairly heavy curtains (the exact opposite problem of virtually no direct sunlight that we have now). With a linen-like texture this was the perfect compliment to back our pillows. Being without a sewing machine,  I had planned to use an iron on hemming tape to make the new pillow covers and reinforce this with some hand stitching...little did I remember I had lent my iron to an apartment full of boys sophmore year of college, invested in a steamer since, and had no idea there was now an unidentifiable crust coating the plate of my iron.

I almost went blind but with the help of the first 5 episodes of gossip girl, I hand stitched them and couldn't be happier with the results. I'm calling it  Garden Chateau--because I'm fancy like that, you can just call it a pretty pillow makeover on an extremely tight budget.
the BEFORE--offensive pillows, modeled by Ranger.
he wasn't happy I was cutting fabric instead of playing with him...
the AFTER ...we can all rest easy in a cohesively comfy garden chateau vibe

Cherry Pepsi Chocolate Cupcakes


 As a kid I loved soda--as evident by my rounded silhouette...but as an adult I've learned to enjoy it as an occasional indulgence. Every week at the grocery store Dane and I have the same disagreement over bringing soda into the house.  When I'm indulging in the sweet, bubbly goodness I prefer it  fountain style and traditional (Pepsi..straight up..occasionally a rootbeer..)--preferably in a take-away cup with a straw. And while he's not a soda freak, Dane prefers 'new age' type flavors of high caffeine varieties of 'Dew straight from a can while watching Netflix or playing his xbox. He usually wins as I typically see it as one less caloric temptation. This past trip we compromised on cans of cherry Pepsi--and ever since I have been dreaming of baking up a chocolate cherry cola concoction...& here we have it..Cherry Pepsi Chocolate Cupcakes. 
 
A 2am Google search yielded a variety of cola cake recipes--naturally I scanned them all and developed my own version to share. The cup cake recipe was found here, and I followed it exactly (....almost). 



The recipe does call for 1/2 c buttermilk--something I've consistently replaced in recipes with a little vegetable oil & regular milk.  This time I used a new technique and combined just shy of 1 C of milk with 1 Tbsp white vinegar (who knew this was the real substitute?)  Instead of adding whole cherries to the batter before baking I chopped mine up and sprinkled them in as additions like that tend to sink to the bottoms of the cupcakes. When whipping these puppies up I ended up with 12 standard cupcakes and left over batter that I used to make 10 mini cupcakes (quality control testing people!)



To top the cupcakes I used a vanilla buttercream recipe (originally from Brown Eyed Baker) and added in about a Tbsp of cherry juice to give the icing a hint of cherry flavor and a touch of pink. 
--i also halved the icing recipe as having leftover buttercream becomes a serious issue in my house...and for my thighs.. so the icing is 1 stick of butter at room temp whipped in a stand mixer, 1/2 tsp vanilla extract, about a tablespoon of cherry juice and 1 1/3 C powdered sugar.


I love the idea of these for a movie night (a nod to cherry slushies and big gulps of soda), a birthday party or if you're like us--a Thursday in January--because every day deserves to be just a little bit sweeter.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Take me to Tuscany...



This winter has been cold and wet and gray and dreary and everything opposite of a great southern summer....okay--so by cold I mean down to 50, and that's mostly been just this week as some storms pass through (it's currently 66 degrees outside) --but it looks cold and miserable outside so on my days off I've been hibernating, waiting for the first flakes to fall and whipping up batches of homemade soups(like last week's french onion). 

My most recently culinary adventure has taken me down a nostalgic lane of  condensed canned tomato soups on the coldest of  New Jersey days.  On really special weekends Dad would even make it with milk instead of water and we would cram our bowls to the brim with Ritz crackers.  This Tuscan Tomato soup gives you a farm fresh feel with the inclusion of a generous portion of fresh basil and a sophisticated palate with freshly curled Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.  The addition of italian bread makes the soup hearty and rustic and if you eat it quietly in a dimly lit room you can imagine the views of an italian country side in the distance.



The recipe comes from Glamour's cookbook '100 Recipes Every Woman Should Know...' : Welcome to My Villa Tuscan Bread Soup-- (seriously, my mom got the book for me for Christmas and it has a slew of super basic recipes to build upon & is perfect for the beginner at home cook).

ingredients:
1/4 cup olive oil
1 medium onion (finely chopped)
4 garlic cloves (grated)
28 oz can whole tomatoes chopped--juice reserved (okay, so I used diced tomatoes and it was just fine and saved me chopping wet tomatoes--I also added a fresh roma tomato and think next time I might use all fresh roma tomatoes in this dish)
3 cups chicken broth (I used low-sodium and it was perfect)
1/2 loaf of italian bread in 1" cubes
1 Tbsp sugar
1 c water
1/3 c thinly sliced basil
Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese


In a large pot heat the olive oil over medium high and add onion and garlic. Cook out until softened ~5 minutes.  Stir in the tomatoes and reduce heat to medium low--simmer for 15 minutes.  Add in the broth, bread, water, sugar, pinch of salt & pepper--stir together, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes.  If the soup is too thick and dense add an additional cup of water (I did!) Stir in the basil and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve in white bowls for a dramatic affect and top bowls with cheese.


I have been up to a few other projects I hope to share with you soon and as Maid of Honor duties start coming in more regularly I'm sure I'll have some wedding related posts as well. As a major milestone, DOTS reached over 600 views and I am so excited and thankful that you are all reading about my (mostly kitchen) adventures.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Merlot there!

We eat a lot of chicken. It's so easy and versatile and generally healthy--it's an obvious choice for dinner. It's also really easy to get into a chicken rut. I find myself preparing it one of a couple of ways until I'm bored or realize half way through cooking that what I'm making is not at all exciting to me.  After scouring my kitchen, determined to find a new flavor palate for my chicken--I'm thrilled to share my Merlot There, Chicken!.   The "sauce" is reminiscent of a marsala but more earthy from sauteed baby portabellos and some chopped rosemary. It's warm, hearty and incredibly simple to whip up.  It would be great for a Sunday dinner, weeknight entertaining, or even part of a holiday meal.


Ingredients:
chicken breasts
1/4 c flour + 1 Tbsp
~1c mushrooms (porcini) sliced
1/2 medium onion chopped
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
1/4 c Merlot
1/2 - 3/4 c water or chicken broth
~5 Tbsp EVOO
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
1-2 cloves garlic

For this recipe I used two standard chicken breasts and halved them to make them thin for pan searing. I seasoned with salt and pepper and dredged them in some whole wheat flour. In a generously oiled pan (~4 Tbsp but it depends on the size of your pan) I "fried" the chicken (medium-high heat) to a golden brown sear on both sides and then allowed them to drain on a paper towel. In the same pan, add a bit more oil ~1 Tbsp & onion. Sprinkle with salt and cook down for about 2 -3 minutes over medium heat. Add in the mushrooms and season with black pepper (don't salt the mushrooms until they have cooked down a bit) and cook until almost caramelized. Add in grated garlic cloves.

I used a non-stick pan, therefore, there wasn't much deglazing of the pan that needed to be done so I opted to make a well in the middle of the onion/mushroom mixture and melt the butter. Whisk in the flour and cook out for ~1 minute, then whisk in merlot.  Let the merlot reduce for a few minutes, then add water or broth. Reduce heat to medium-low and add chicken back to pan. Let it all simmer together for 3-5 minutes and top with chopped rosemary.



Enjoy the ridiculously delicious mushroom merlot gravy you have made for your standard week night chicken. You and your diners will feel like you're at a fancy shmancy restaurant until you all realize you're in cozy slippers and don't have to worry about drinking too much extra merlot.--Go ahead, put that lampshade on your head--we won't tell....

We enjoyed our Merlot there, Chicken! with roasted broccoli florets (a recipe I'll share in an upcoming post on jazzing up side veggies). But the chicken would be delicious with a garlic mashed potato.

Friday, January 20, 2012

French Flair

 This winter I've been flexing my kitchen muscles more than usual and I have been so excited to share the results with you. Wednesday was cold(er) and rainy and dreary and the worst kind of weather you want for your first day 'off' in eight days.  I was feeling off center and not quite right after not having much time to be in the kitchen last week. I spotted this recipe for a french onion styled soup on hooray and knew it was just the thing to get me out of my little rut.  There was some knife work required and patience, and it ended with a slab of sourdough bread.


I loved this combination for a few reasons. The spices and ingredients were so simple. The addition of a fennel bulb was a bright surprise in the final product as it kept just a slight bite to add some textural interest. For me, the beans made this soup a real meal. Often times when eating french onion soups I get the feeling that I'm just sucking down a lot of broth (unless I go out and eat it straight from a bread bowl...which my thighs are thanking me for not doing on this occasion)--but the beans in this were so filling and delicious. I don't have oven safe bowls or ramekins so we improvised by putting some curls of parmesan on the slabs of sourdough and sticking them under the broiler for a few minutes---a cheese toast crouton perfect for sinking or dunking into the soup. 

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Chocolate Bacon Craze

Yesterday morning was the first day in over two weeks that Dane and I could wake up together with no other commitments lingering over us outside of the house. There's always cleaning and laundry and all of those great grown up things that get shoved into the weekend, but we were happy to set our own agenda. Pancakes are always a day off favorite around here so I made us an extra special batch. YES! There was BACON! and there were CHOCOLATE CHIPS! and it was indulgently fantastic. The bacon came through as a mild smokey & salty flavor, while the reduced number of chocolate chips added some sweetness and luxury to a basic pancake batter. Any special occasion needs these delicious treats. 


Apologies that the photos were taken with my phone. Sometimes the best ideas are unplanned but still need to be documented.

So my standard pancake recipe is as follows and SO simple..it makes eight 1/4 cup pancakes:


1 cup whole wheat (or all purpose) flour
1 egg
1 TBSP baking powder
1TBSP sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 TBSP vegetable oil
3/4 cups of milk (we use 1%) 
1 TBSP butter for the pan

on a medium low griddle make 1/4 cup cakes and add your toppings (bacon + chocolate reccomended.)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Faves

I'm sorry I've been neglecting you lately. My kitchen feels the same way. Life has been a busy whirl-wind and I'm desperately trying to hold on and catch up. I have some great new posts lined up and with a rainy day off tomorrow I promise they'll be up by the end of the week. One of which, out of my own imagination, I am so proud of. It really shows me flexing some kitchen muscle. 

With the busy week we've had around here we have been eating in, mostly assembled salads and left overs and I'm pretty sure Dane had cheerios for all three meals yesterday. In my culinary experience I've come across some ingredients, products, and gadgets that have become favorite secrets and shortcuts to cooking at home. 

This week--ingredients that as a Jersey italian--I always have on hand to use in a variety of dishes. 

1) Cento Italian Seasoning-- this is not substituted with any run of the mill italian seasoning. It's so special that I can't find it here in the south so my mom has to stock me with italian seasoning when she makes trips down from Jersey. It's that good...and makes that big of a difference. Maybe the secret is in the few crushed red pepper flakes, or the perfect balance of basil and oregano and all other italian yumminess. Add it to tomato sauce, bread crumbs, salad dressing, meatloaf or burgers..it's incredible and can't be duplicated or replaced. 


2) Fresh peeled whole garlic gloves (mine purchased in bulk--which now has me thinking I should probably start buying gum, toothpaste, and mouthwash in bulk to offset my apparent obsession with garlic...) I've tried buying garlic in a variety of ways and so far this has been the most cost effective and flavor effective to date. I find the pre-minced jars lack that 'fresh' garlic flavor and the whole bulb of garlic is great but I end up with too many that go bad, or I'm short a clove or two when it comes to using it. I use Christopher Ranch, but I'm sure there's other varieties in the produce section at your grocery store. In a plastic package you can get fresh, whole garlic cloves to chop or grate into recipes or simmer in oil to infuse some flavor.  While these packages do have a 'best by date' I throw my whole package (right now I have 48 oz of fresh whole garlic) in my freezer. Whenever I need a clove or two I just take it from the freezer and use a microplane to grate it into whatever I'm making--from sauces to garlic mashed potatoes, this trick hasn't failed me yet. Essentially the garlic can last almost forever in the freezer, I always have enough, and I get that super fresh garlic flavor and fragrance. 

 

Friday, January 13, 2012

Don't be a jerk...chicken

I love reading recipes and then being inspired to change them by adding and subtracting here and there to make things exactly how I see fit for my tastes and my life.  These skeleton recipes keep evolving and before long there's little left resembling the original. I suppose after these moments in the kitchen I , too, have been changed and have learned a little more about myself. So here we have it--caribbean jerk chicken with pineapple and black beans served over steamed brown rice (*also incredible stuffed in a tortilla).


This dish is amazing for a few reasons. First, if you skip the rice it becomes a one dish meal. Second, it's budget friendly and technically could be considered one of those $10 wonders. Three, it's so easy to adjust the size of this recipe--cooking for 2 or a banquet of 20--equally simple.

What you need to serve ~ 4:
two chicken breasts cut to bite sized pieces
half a pineapple cut to bite sized pieces
one onion halved and sliced
fresh or dried cilantro(~1 Tbsp)
one can black beans drained and rinsed
2 cups instant brown rice
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/3 C jerk marinade (or make yourself)
a pinch of red pepper flakes
2 cloves garlic
1 jalapeno pepper (optional)


Method:
In a large, deep skilled sautee onion (*and jalapeno) in olive oil and sprinkle with salt + crushed red pepper over medium heat until soft and just starting to caramelize. Remove the onions from pan and set aside. Add 1 Tbsp olive oil and heat over medium-high and add in chicken breast. Brown the chicken for about 5 minutes, depending on thickness of your chicken. Grate in 2 cloves of garlic and reduce heat to medium. Add in pineapple and heat through (about 5 minutes). Pour jerk marinade over chicken and pineapple and add onions back to the pan. Add in the black beans and stir the mixture together. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer until beans are heated through. Stir in cilantro to taste --I used about 1 Tbsp dried this time. 



So this is your base. Now, serve it over rice with a dallop of sour cream as a jerk chicken stir fry, or fill tortillas and make jerk chicken burritos.  This could easily be made vegetarian by substituting a firm tofu for the chicken.

*If making burritos I would cut the chicken and pineapple into smaller pieces from the start of the recipe.

as a side note--our house gets ZERO direct sunlight, making the lighting in our kitchen nearly impossible for photography--bare with me as I try to find adequate lighting to share my kitchen adventures with you.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Center of the ring...

When I was seven my mom picked me and my sister up early from school where I reluctantly trudged to the car assuming there was a doctor or dental appointment awaiting me before office hours ended. I sulked in the backseat, disappointed from missing an ice cream party held in the last thirty minutes of school (a tactic I now think was a way of teachers seeking revenge-- to fill us with sugar and send us home as energy balls to our parents for the rest of the evening).  As it turns out there would be no poking and proding or tears or awfully boring waiting rooms-- we were instead headed to the greatest show on earth--the circus!  We ate cotton candy, bought souvineers and even went to school late the next day to sleep off the excitement from our big weeknight out. 


Louis Vuitton brings me right back to that afternoon, the freedom of walking out of those double doors separating linoleum floors from sidewalk and the pathway to fun and adventure. These 2011 Holiday windows are a work of art and nostalgia, simple and chic.


 Thanks Mr. Vuitton for the walk down memory lane.

images via Style Bistro

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Fake Out Take Out Chicken Stir Fry

Long days at work or cozy date nights on the couch both call for the comfort of Chinese take-out. General Tso chicken, extra egg rolls, and duck sauce are among the favorites in our house--but the comfort food comes with a cost both to our health and our wallets. We never feel good after these meals--both knowing the fried and sauce slathered chicken weren't the best for our diets & the physical feeling from msg and fat. 

We've started instead to opt for fake-out take-out and make our own chicken stir fry.  Instant brown rice is a staple in our house--as is frozen stir fry vegetables (no sauces, oils or preservatives--just straight mixed stir fry vegetables) and frozen chicken breasts (I use about 1 large breast for the two of us to stretch a buck).  


Ingredients:
vegetable oil
chicken breast
soy sauce
sriracha hot sauce (or hot chili sauce)
ground ginger
black pepper
2 garlic cloves
frozen (or fresh) stir fry vegetables OR a mixture of your favorite mixed veggies
honey 
lemon
chicken or vegetable stock (optional)
brown or white rice


The recipe starts with a wok and 1 Tbsp vegetable oil heated to medium high.
Cut the chicken into bite sized pieces and brown in the oil (approximately 5 minutes)
Add ~ 1/4 tsp black pepper & 1/2 tsp ground ginger, and grate in 1-2 cloves garlic.
Cook for about a minute--so the garlic softens.  
Then add in about 1/4 cup soy sauce (okay, so when I'm in my kitchen I usually don't measure things like soy sauce or spices--it's a sight and feeling thing, but as I continue to cook I'll be sure to note more precise amounts to share with you).  In our house Dane LOVES spicy food, I don't so this next step is more about your personal taste, add anywhere from 1 tsp - 2 Tbsp Sriracha hot sauce.  
Reduce heat to medium and create a well in the chicken and add ~ 2 cups stir fry vegetables. As the veggies cook and release some of their liquid take note of your sauce..if needed add an additional 2 Tbsp soy sauce and/or a splash or two of chicken stock--if you've gone too far with the sriracha this is a great place to cut some spice. 
Add in 1 tsp of honey and the juice of half a lemon and stir. 
Once the veggies are heated through, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for ~5 minutes. I serve it over brown rice--and top it with 1 packet of duck sauce if desired.

I've done this recipe with shrimp, too. If you choose seafood as your protein in this dish I would cook the vegetables down first, then add the shrimp so it does not over cook and get tough. Enjoy your fake-out take-out that can be made in half the time of ordering out and cost a fraction of the price. Your wallet and your waistline will love this dinner.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Bread time...



I've come a long way in the kitchen since sophmore year of high school when my mom started working nights and my dad and I were left to our own devices to make wholesome family dinners. Our first dinner I cooked for us together was a pan seared chicken (yeah this sounds fancy and all, but too thick a chicken in too small a pan led to almost salmonella poisoning)..okay, we didn't get sick from that dinner but I also don't remember how it finally got cooked --something tells me a microwave was involved after a frustrating stint standing over a pan for what seemed like forever.

I'm confident now preparing meats and poultry, pasta and sauces, vegetables and dips. I always shied away from recipes involving dry active yeast, "proofing" dough (whatever that was supposed to mean) and any involving a time frame of over an hour. What can I say, patience--not a virtue I was born with. 


So here I meet 2012 and a bucket list of things to accomplish (most involving new adventures in the kitchen), and making break sans bread machine is staring me in the face. After a lengthy stare down and quick walk to the store we were in business to make rosemary italian bread--a recipe including both a 3 hour time frame AND active dry yeast. I couldn't be happier with the results.  



The bread was crispy on the outside, tender and flavorful on the inside, and impressive enough to give as gifts or serve to dinner guests. I modified this recipe and used regular old all purpose flour in place of the bread flour, added 2 cloves of grated garlic, put all two tablespoons of rosemary into the dough and topped the loaf with coarse ground sea salt and black pepper. Paired with a husband at home and a full queue on netflix, we had the perfect afternoon to snack before hosting some friends for dinner. 






*note: almost of all of the recipes I make are not 100% original. Most have been modified from published recipes from cookbooks, magazines, websites, and blogs. Some have been completely modified with little in common to the original, others only slightly modified for a variety of reasons. I do not in anyway claim to have been the original creator of any posted recipes unless otherwise noted.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Keeping up with...Katie

As promised I plan on working hard most of January to turn the appearance and the navigation of Dressing On the Side to be a beautiful layout of all of my adventures in mostly food, some fashion, and some DIY projects. Try to keep up with the looks and layouts, and send some helpful feedback as I tap into my creative genius outside of the kitchen. Visit again soon as I update on Caribbean jerk chicken with pineapple and black beans, a favorite take-out fake-out, and a dry run on homemade salted caramels. Also not to be missed, edible wedding shower favors, some inspirations in DIY tags and free printables, and a five star no restaurant needed salad. 

love this print spotted on Apartment Therapy  
 and I think I need to DIY this with family recipes this weekend...spotted on Pintrest.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

2012



During my post yesterday about my almost-failed attempt at stuffed brownies, I forgot to even acknowledge the New Year that has arrived--Happy 2012!

I've never been one for new year's celebrations or any good at keeping resolutions {I think most of this has to do with the fact that they usually involve cutting out sweets, carbs, television, or anything thing that makes life somewhat indulgent} Therefore, the resolutions of 2012 have been replaced with a 2012 bucket list. A simple list, open to evolution throughout the year of small goals, habits or adventures to conquer. Just a few include completing a 5k, cooking an entire pig, hosting more couples nights of sips and snacks, and really establishing this blog and my life in the kitchen. It's the one place where I'm truly happy and feel like I'm doing what I'm supposed to be. Happy eats my sweets :)

Monday, January 2, 2012

First Try...

Not all new concoctions come without hiccups. I love taking a recipe or two...or three..mixing and matching, tweaking them myself, and coming up with a complex combination unique to myself. Most of the time my kitchen knowledge and experience guide me to success..other times--I fall short on some aspect of the dish. (My at-home pad thai experience is one to discuss at a later date--my biggest kitchen mishap). I gave the oreo brownies a-go, using several recipes(both for regular and stuffed brownies) as templates. While they were plenty chocolate-y and sweet and dense, they were a bit dry and after baking, a bit shy on the cookie pieces.

I opted to do this recipe in a 9x9 baking pan...a standard in my life for brownies. The pan usually allows the brownies to be thick enough to feel like a true brownie and stay a bit moist inside while having that slight crunch on the top. With this recipe, I'd use the pan again. In lieu of baking chocolate, I used powered unsweetened cocoa and a few table spoons of vegetable oil. For try two I'd increase the oil and add an extra 1/4 of butter. The crumbled cookie, as opposed to using them whole added to the dryness of the final product.
 A second batch deserves one more addition. A vanilla butter cream to top them off to mimic the filling of an oreo. This would definitely add some moisture to the dense cake and give these babies an elegant appearance.  This first time just goes to show--life in the kitchen is an adventure. A shared glass of milk made these a mistake worth making again.