Halloween in the new house!!

by J.S. on October 2, 2011

in Handmade,Parties

Halloween!!! I’m super excited. It’s my first Halloween in our new house (rental…cause you know, the whole poor thing). We started decorating this weekend and I’ll began stock piling the candy soon. I found these cool light up branches at Home Goods. They’re battery operated and were $13 for a set. I bought foam pumpkins for $10 each and drilled holes into them using a 5/8 drill bit. I weighted the pumpkins with some stones and then inserted the branches, added a couple of crows and voila cute door decor for under $50.

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Pasta Two Ways: Marinara Sauce

by J.S. on October 2, 2011

in Recipes

Here’s my no fail Marinara. It’s so good I  could eat it with a spoon. Best part, you can put it on pizza, on eggplant, lasagna, whatever. This isn’t the type of sauce that I would make for spaghetti and meatballs or a meat sauce. It’s light and sweet and really holds up on its own. It’s one of the main sauces to master.

A few notes about what makes a good sauce:

1. the tomatoes. ALWAYS opt for the more expensive canned tomatoes. They really make difference. This is one place where I would urge you to spend. Go for the San Marzano crushed and diced tomatoes. They’ll run you about $3.50 a can but in a dish with so few ingredients you have to go for the best. I promise you it will make a huge difference and the dish will still run you under $15 for a family of 4.

2. the wine. If you’re cooking for children and concerned about the wine cooking out you can omit it. The majority of the alcohol content will cook out.So if you’re going all the way, use white wine. My rules for wine in sauces are simple; anything with a “meaty” component gets red. This includes sauces like a Puttanesca because the olives offer a “meaty” addition. In marinara with no “meaty” component you would add white for the sweeter lighter notes. Always use wine you would drink but it doesn’t need to pricey. I almost always cook with Trader Joe’s  Charles Shaw for $2 it’s really hard to beat.

Ingredients:

1 tbs olive oil

3 cloves of garlic finely chopped

1/2 an onion finely chopped

red pepper flakes

salt & pepper to taste

2 tsp sun dried tomato paste

1/2 jar of sun dried tomato and half the oil in the jar

1 can of crushed tomatoes

1 can of dices tomatoes

1/2 cup white wine

fresh basil leaves

Directions:

In a sauce pan over medium heat add the olive oil and cook until warm. Next add the onion,  garlic, red pepper flakes, salt & pepper. Cook until the onions are translucent.

Add the sun dried tomato paste, the sun dried tomatoes and the oil and cook until the tomatoes began to plump and soften. Finally, add the tomatoes and the wine and cook from 10 minutes. Pour sauce into a food processor and puree until smooth. Pour back into the pan and keep warm. Tear fresh basil and add to sauce. Serve over anything. Garnish with parmesan cheese.

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Pasta Sauce Two Ways…

by J.S. on October 2, 2011

in Recipes

It’s Sunday Supper night and we’re doing pasta two ways; Puttanesca and sun dried tomato marinara. Master these two sauce and you can really do a variety of things. Plus, you’ll impress the hell out of your friends and family who are use to eating sauce out of a jar (oh! the horror!!). There really is NO excuse to ever open a jar again. Need more convincing? OK, well jar sauces are chalk full of sugars and preservatives. They have more calories and you’re missing out on a lot of the vitamin benefits of fresh sauces, what you make is barely processed and you can control what goes in. All in all, trust me, you’re better off making it. And if that’s not enough it’s like a billion times better tasting.

So here we go…Pasta Marinara and Puttanesca


Puttanesca loosely translate to “the Whore’s Spaghetti” because the story goes ladies of the night would serve a version of this to their johns after work. Distinctive for the smell and the addition on anchovies and olives it’s a great addition to your pasta repertoire.

Ingredients:

2 TBS olive Oil

3 cloves of garlic finely chopped

half an onion finely chopped

3 anchovy filets

1 tsp red pepper flakes (more to taste)

Sea salt (go easy, everything is salty)

Pepper (to taste)

2 tsp Oregano

1 16oz can of diced tomatoes

1 16 oz can of crushed tomato

3/4 Cup red wine

3 TBS capers

2 cups of olives (kalamata and green pitted olives)

 

Directions:

In a sauce pan over medium high heat coat pan with olive oil. Add the anchovies and stir to break up.

After about a minute add the onion, garlic, red pepper, salt (go very easy) and pepper. Cook until the onions are translucent.

Next, add the oregano, wine and the tomatoes. Cook for 5 minutes. Add the olives and capers and cook for another 15 minutes.

Serve with pasta or refrigerate and serve the next day.

 

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OK it’s time to get serious now…

by J.S. on September 2, 2011

in Random Musings

Some girls dream of boys or shoes or diamonds. I dream of power tools. I have serious, serious issues. Hear me out though. We’re all obsessed with Pinterest and the stuff that people make on their is amazing. So I’ve been narrowing down why can’t be as crafty as they are and I think I’ve found my answer. I need power tools. Ok, so yes, I also need free time and patience and follow through but those things will come dammit! In the meantime, I think this might solve at least some of my problems. Anyone have one already?

via Lowes

Think of all the crap I could make with this??? I’m getting all excited just thinking of it!! I know, I’m lame. I’ll excuse myself now.

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First off, Happy Friday. Congrats on surviving the week.  Second, we need a new cocktail and man, have I got one for you. Third, I’m in L-O-V-E with this blog Spoon Fork Bacon. It’s pretty much perfect in every way. Now, on with the booze…

Kiwi Capiroska is like a Caipirinha. Both are Brazilian. Since the hubs is Brazilian we have to represent in my house. This is the perfect drink to send summer off with a big, wet kiss.

Cheers, lovlies.

Oh so beautiful photo from Spoon Fork Bacon

Kiwi Capiroska
Makes 6

Ingredients:
2 cups kiwi, peeled and diced
12 mint leaves, divided
2 tablespoons sugar, divided
3 limes, juiced
2 cups high quality vodka
2 cups tonic water (or coconut flavored sparkling water)
ice cubes
garnish:

1 kiwi, peeled and thinly sliced

Directions:
1. Line six glasses up and fill each with 1/3 cup of diced kiwis, 2 mint leaves, 1 teaspoon sugar, and ½ lime juiced.
2. Muddle together the contents of each glass until fully combined.
3. Fill each glass with ice and top off with 1/3 cup vodka and 1/3 cup tonic water.
4. Stir, finish each with a kiwi garnish and serve.

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This is addicting. Seriously, you should probably not make it. Since I’m sort of the resident pusher man here,  encourage you to give it a shot. It’s stupid easy. Really, it’s beyond simple and very impressive. Your loved ones will be blown away. A word of warning though, heirloom tomatoes are not cheap. This recipe calls for 4 of them. They can run you about $6 a pound. That’s crazy for tomatoes, but I’m telling you it’s money well spent. If you need to stretch a buck use two good size heirlooms and look for baby heirlooms or sweet cherry tomatoes for the other two. It’s not exactly the same but it will still be amazing.

Ingredients

4 heirloom tomatoes

3 cloves of garlic finely chopped

1 cup homemade pesto

8 -10 Fresh (has to be) balls of mozzarella cheese, look for small balls in oil

1/8 cup lemon juice (Must be fresh)

Cooked linguine

Directions

Chop tomatoes into bite sized cubes. In a deep skillet over medium – low heat add the garlic and tomatoes. Cook just until the tomatoes and garlic soften.  Squeeze the lemon into the tomato mixture. toss in mozzarella and pasta. Add the pesto. Toss to coat and serve. You can add some shaved Parmesan if you want to be fancy.

Homemade Pesto

Ingredients

1 bunch of basil leaves

2 cloves of garlic

Parmesan cheese

Good quality olive oil

red pepper flakes to taste

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

In a food processor chop the garlic until finely chopped. Add the basil, salt and pepper, cheese and red pepper flakes. Process again until it’s finely chopped. Now add the oil until desired consistency is reached. (More oil for thinner pesto.) Process again just to combine.

Reserve the remaining mixture in a jar and use within 4 days.

 

 

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French Toast Bread Pudding

by J.S. on August 14, 2011

in Recipes

In keeping with the breakfast theme, my next favorite thing is french toast. Here’s an easy take on it. You basically set it and forget it for about 40 minutes. Perfect for company.

Ingredients

1 loaf Brioche or challa, cut up in cubes

6 eggs

2 cups of milk

1/2 sugar

2 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp nutmeg

Note: you can add dried fruit, fresh fruit o nuts to mixture

Butter 11x7x2-inch glass baking dish. Place bread in dish. Whisk eggs and the other ingredients in medium bowl to blend; pour over bread. Using spatula, lightly press down on bread to moisten completely. Cover with foil and chill overnight.

Place foil-covered dish in cold oven. Set oven at 350°F and bake 30 minutes. Remove foil and continue to bake until pudding is puffed and golden brown, about 35 minutes longer. Spoon pudding onto plates, sprinkle with toasted nuts, and serve with warm maple syrup.

 

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I’ve been cooking!

by J.S. on August 14, 2011

in Recipes

Who doesn’t love breakfast? I mean it has all the basic needs of life, butter, cheese, sugar. I have to admit I wasn’t always a fan of the A.M. foods…I know, blasphemy. But I have changed and come around and now I’m all about the biscuits and gravy. I love it at restaurants but there has to a simple way(and less artery cloging) of getting it at home. I’m by no means saying this is low fat…cause it’s definitely not, but that being said you’ll know the fat you’re eating.

This was shockingly easy. I went a little easy on the butter and paid for it later. My gravy was a little gooey. Don’t skimp. Go all the way.

Biscuits

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons butter, cubed
  • 3/4 cup milk

Directions

In a large bowl combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt together. Cut butter into mixture until it begins to look like cornmeal.

Make a well with flour mixture and slowly add milk into the middle. Knead dough with your fingers and add milk when necessary. Roll out dough onto a lightly floured surface and roll out to desired thickness. Cut with small biscuit cutter.

Butter bottom of skillet and place biscuits in pan. Bake for 12 minutes or until golden brown.

Gravy

3/4 pound of sausage (fatty sausage works best for this, I used Jimmy Dean)

3 TBS butter
24 cups of milk
4-8 tablespoons flour

1 tsp paprika

2 tsp onion powder

Salt and pepper

Brown sausage in skillet, then remove cooked pieces.  Turn to medium heat. Add butter. Add flour by the tablespoon, stirring constantly. Let the flour turn BROWN before adding another tablespoon (if you don’t, your gravy will taste like flour). After you have added enough flour to make the gravy as thick as you like, add milk and stir with whisk. Then add the remaining ingredients to taste.

Serve over biscuits.

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Happy Friday! Not that I’m trying to question the great and poweful Martha Stewart, but you could skip the vodka and go with Gin instead. May even be better! There I said it, it might be better. I should probably watch my back now.

Go. Drink!

Ingredients

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 12 sprigs fresh thyme, plus more for garnish
  • 4 cups freshly squeezed lemon juice, about 24 lemons
  • 2 cups vodka

Directions

  1. In a small saucepan, combine 2 cups water with the sugar and thyme; bring to a boil over high heat, stirring occasionally, until sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat; let cool to room temperature.
  2. Pour mixture through a fine sieve into a large glass measuring cup; discard thyme. You should have 2 cups syrup. Cover with plastic; chill.
  3. In a large serving pitcher, stir together lemon juice, vodka, and chilled syrup; garnish with thyme. Divide evenly among eight tumblers filled with ice; serve immediately.

Photo and recipe from Martha Stewart Living. (Here)

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Soooooo gooooood! (Yes, it needed that many “o’s”)

To make: (easy to make in a jar, but you can also use a cocktail shaker)

Crushed ice

1 oz Hendricks Gin

juice from half a lime

three mint leaves

Sparkling lime aide

Directions: mix the first four ingredients in the jar and shake to combine. Pour the sparkling lime aide on top. Serves one.

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