March 27, 2009

shabu shabu

the table

shabu shabu

It’s hard to get out these days now that there’s a baby to consider. Last night I hosted Shabu Shabu night. We had our usual group of friends join, and they brought the food to us! Cooper went to bed before anyone arrived. How awesome is that?

Here’s a peak into the evening.
I’m really glad I covered our dining room table with paper. Such a snap to clean up!

i went to TOWN on bok choy last night

mushrooms, bok choy, & tofu

here’s a peak at my bowl… I couldn’t get enough mushrooms & bok choy! YUM

my plate...my beers...my mess


Good Food + Good Company= Great Times.

March 23, 2009

Irish Soda Bread

the gift that keeps on giving

The internet has been chalk full of provocative pictures of Irish Soda bread lately…and boy have I been seduced. Is this the only time of year people make it? I saw Martha make some on her show last week and decided that I would put that recipe in my food queue. You should see how much head space is taken up in my noggin for food…it’s ridiculous.

I found a recipe in Martha’s Baking book and decided on a whim last night to make some. After Cooper when down for the night, I was hit by the most wonderful smell in my kitchen. What a glorious thing…to have fresh baked bread on your counter. That scent is intoxicating.

mixing the stickyness

egging the top

what a gorgeous LOAF

i couldn't resist. i cut into it like 3 minutes after i took it out.

I’ve never really tasted traditional Irish soda bread, so I am not sure how this one fairs in comparison. The raisins were juicy and extremely plump & moist. We smothered a piece in butter and topped it with honey the second it came out of the oven. It tasted like a crispy scone.

Such good crunch…the next day I didn’t even have to reheat it because it was still soft on the inside and crispy on the outside. Casey said he normally doesn’t like Irish Soda bread, but I think the addition of sugar in the dough probably convinced him otherwise.

I decided against using caraway seeds in this loaf as it called for them in the recipe. I couldn’t find any at the store 🙁 But maybe next time I’ll try to make it with them.

Irish Soda Bread

(recipe Martha Stewart Baking Book)

-4 cups all-purpose flour
-1/4 cup sugar
-1 teaspoon salt
-2 teaspoons baking powder
-2 tablespoons caraway seeds
-4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold
-2 cups golden or dark raisins
-1 1/2 scant cups buttermilk
-1 large egg
-1 teaspoon baking soda
-1 large egg yolk
-1 tablespoon heavy cream

1. Heat oven to 350°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and caraway seeds until well combined.

2. Using a pastry cutter or two knives in scissor fashion, cut in butter until the mixture feels like coarse meal. Stir in raisins until evenly distributed.

3. In a small bowl, whisk together buttermilk, egg, and baking soda until well combined. Pour buttermilk mixture into the flour-and-butter mixture all at once, and stir with a fork until all the liquid is absorbed and the mixture begins to hold together. It should resemble a rough biscuit dough. Using your hands, press the dough into a round, dome-shaped loaf about 8 inches in diameter. Lift the loaf from the bowl, and transfer it to the prepared baking sheet.

4. In a small bowl, mix the egg yolk and cream together. With a pastry brush, brush the egg wash over the loaf. With a sharp knife or razor, incise a cross, about 1/2 inch deep, into the top of the loaf. Transfer to the oven. Bake, rotating halfway through, until it is deep golden brown and a wooden skewer comes out clean when inserted into the center, about 70 minutes. Remove from oven, and transfer bread from the baking sheet to a wire rack to cool.

with a bread like this…it’s a shame people only make it on St. Patrick’s Day.

March 20, 2009

happy anniversary!

3 years down!

This week Casey & I celebrated our 3rd wedding anniversary and our 10 year anniversary of being together.

My parents celebrated their 40th anniversary! So we’ll be celebrating at a big party tomorrow night!

Love is in the air!

Happy first day of spring!

March 16, 2009

another weekend has past

I have a lot to show for this weekend (besides being wiped out & tired)

Saturday I went into work and then had a great lunch with a wonderful friend
(we splurged on a cheeseburger, fries & an apple crisp for dessert)

On Sunday, we went to a birthday party for our friend’s daughter who turned 1.

Cute cupcakes huh? So clever and very delicious! They were made by my friend’s mom.

cuppies woot woot

cute cupcakes!

I had my family over for dinner on Sunday. I made a comforting dinner of turkey meatloaf, roasted fingerling potatoes & creamed spinach.

having family for dinner

the start of something good

the end of something good

my plate

-we watched old 8mm home movies with my parents & brother
-i made the grossest waffles from Trader Joes Multigrain Mix (seriously nasty) WHY?!!!
-i made chocolate pudding for dessert on Sunday that didn’t set properly.
-cleaned house
-watched a few episodes of How I Met Your Mother
-daydreamed about being on a sandy beach…away from it all.

It was a busy busy weekend…time to gear up for this busy busy week.

Mushroom & Lemon Orzo

mushroom lemon orzo with pinenuts!

Let me start my telling you that it was never my intention to make this Orzo for Casey’s Birthday dinner. I waffled with the idea of Mashed Potatoes (even bought some potatoes) or a Creamy Pasta. But the morning of the dinner, I was flipping through a magazine cutout that had a recipe for Lemon Orzo and decided I’d wing it and make some.

It turned out to be a GREAT idea. Having a 4 year old and a 5 month old in the house made it tough to time dinner. It’s such a tricky thing when everyone is on different schedules…or engrossed in a movie. I had to get Cooper fed before we sat down to eat, so it was really easy to make this Orzo before I started cooking the steaks. If I had made Mashed Potatoes or a Creamy Pasta, the results would have been GOOEY and gross. The Orzo held up well, and was still really good at room temperature. I have to say that it was EXCELLENT the next day too. I ate it cold. Freshened it up with some lemon juice and added feta. It was a very satisfying lunch. (see picture above)

Mushroom & Lemon Orzo

(inspired by a Rachael Ray Mag)

-1 lb Orzo pasta
-3/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
-1 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
-1/4 cup olive oil
-1 10oz. package white mushrooms
-1 10oz. package shitake mushrooms
-juice of two lemons, plus the grated peel of 1 lemon
-handful…or more grated Parmesan cheese
-salt & pepper to taste

1. Cook Orzo pasta according to package.

2. While Orzo is cooking, heat up a skillet with 1/4 cup olive oil. Add the mushrooms and cook until browned. Should take 7-10 mins.

3. Drain Orzo and return to the pot. Stir in lemon juice, lemon peel, parsley & pine nuts. Add two tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil…stir it up! Season with salt & pepper to taste. Add mushrooms to the top and serve!

March 9, 2009

Birthday Celebration continued…

I had a birthday celebration for Casey & his sister on Saturday to celebrate their birthdays.

Here is a peak of the table!

I wrapped Lauren’s present first, and it became the inspiration for the table decoration.

happy happy birthday


March 8, 2009

Magnolia Bakery’s German Chocolate Cake

Happy Birthday to Casey!

oh boy

This year I decided to try something new for Casey’s Birthday. I made him his second favorite kind of cake–German Chocolate!

What you see here is my first attempt! It turned out SUPER good. Very light and fluffy- So light that it didn’t hold it’s shape like a regular cake might. But when it gets into your mouth who really cares? My 4 year old nephew even chimed in “So good when it hits your lips.” ha!

This cake is a show stopper. Soo rich! Soo gooey! I think I caught a few people in my kitchen putting swiping their fingers up against the frosting for a taste!

We had some for breakfast this morning and it didn’t disappoint! I am currently suffering from a sugar coma. So shocked I am able to type this!

fluffy fluff i've never liked cake batter....but i LOVED the taste of this!
layer cake i need a glass of water to look at this

and here’s a little peak of our breakfast this morning!

worth getting out of bed for

breakfast anyone?

Magnolia Bakery’s German Chocolate Cake

For the Cake:
-4 oz Baker’s German’s Sweet Chocolate, broken into squares
-1/2 cup water
-2 cups all purpose flour
-1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
-1/4 teaspoon salt
-4 large eggs, separated, at room temperature
-1 cup butter, softened (two sticks)
-2 cups sugar
-1 teaspoon vanilla extract
-1 cup buttermilk

For the Frosting:
-1 1/2 cans evaporated milk
-6 egg yolks
-2 cups sugar
-1 cup butter, cut into small pieces
-2 teaspoons vanilla extract
-4 cups sweetened, shredded coconut
-2 cups coarsely chopped pecans

1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. Grease and flour 3 9×2 inch round cake pans, then line bottoms with wax paper.
3. In a small saucepan over low heat, combine the chocolate with the water, stirring to melt the chocolate, and blend well. Set aside and cool for 10 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, in a medium sized bowl, sift together the flour, the baking soda, and the salt. Set aside.
5. In a small bowl, lightly beat the egg yolks, about 1 minute.
6. In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter and the sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
7. Add the egg yolks, beating until well combined.
8. Add the chocolate mixture and the vanilla extract.
9. Add the dry ingredients in thirds, alternating with he buttermilk, beating after each addition, until smooth.
10. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites on the high speed of an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Gently fold into batter.
11. Divide batter among the prepared pans.
12. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Be careful not to over bake, as this cake has a different, lighter texture than most.
13. Let cake cool in pans for 10 minutes.
14. Remove from pans and cool completely on wire rack.
15. In a large saucepan, beat together the evaporated milk and the egg yolks.
16. Stir in the sugar, the butter , and the vanilla extract.
17. Stir over medium heat about 15-18 minutes or until thickened and bubbly and golden in color. Remove from heat.
18. Stir in the coconut and pecans.
19. Transfer to a large bowl and cool until room temperature and of good spreading consistency (about 2 hours.)
20. When cake has cooled, spread frosting between layers and over top of cake.

***I had a hard time frosting the sides because the frosting turned super gooey. I just popped the bowl in the fridge and let it cool for about 20 minutes and it was perfect for spreading!***