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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

We're Homeowners!

Blog (and your throngs of readers), meet our house...

Not the best picture but it's all I have on this computer. So, we officially closed last night after a couple agonizing months. People told me foreclosures could be a PITA but I had no idea. Now we are in for a whole lotta renovating. Starting, well, tomorrow (if we're not too hungover after tonight's debauchery). Before we move in this is our list of to-dos:
  • Living room/dining room: paint, put up new crown moulding and base boards
  • Master bedroom: paint, put up new base boards
  • MBR closet: new carpet, paint, put up shelving system
  • Bathrooms/Kitchen: scrub top to bottom with Lysol
  • New light fixtures, outlet covers, etc. for LR/DR and MBR
This is just the bare minimum that I have to have done before moving in. The rest we will work on while living there. Stay tuned for lots of before and after pictures.

In summation, I would also like to say goodbye to 2008. It has been an awesome year. We got married on August 30th and bought a house exactly 4 months later. We also had the trip of a lifetime to Tahiti for our honeymoon. It has been a year of milestones. As wonderful as 2008 has been to us, I am ready for 2009. This will be the first year together being married (joint tax filing - woohoo) and moving into our new house will be an adventure in and of itself.

Happy New Year!

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Monday, December 29, 2008

Pizza with Goat Cheese and Peppers


I have to thank Kristin for this awesome pizza recipe. It is so yummy and has goat cheese AND truffle oil in it. Booyah.

Ingredients:
1 can pizza dough (I use Pillsbury - found near the cinnamon rolls and crescents and stuff)
Roma tomatoes (about 2-3), sliced (or diced, if you prefer)
1 small red bell pepper, seeded and sliced
1 small orange bell pepper, seeded and sliced
White mushrooms, sliced (about 1 cup)
1/2 red onion, sliced
Goat cheese, crumbled
Grated parmesan cheese
Balsamic vinegar
Olive oil
Black truffle oil (or truffle infused olive oil)

I don't have exact measurements for all the ingredients but just eyeball it or do it to taste, you can't really mess anything up here.

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400.
Spread dough out over large baking sheet. Coat both sides of the dough with olive oil.
Heat a small amount of truffle oil in a pan. Add mushrooms, peppers and onions and saute for about 5 minutes. Spread the pepper mixture out over the pizza dough. Spread desired amount of sliced tomatoes over the pepper mixture. Top with crumbled goat cheese and grated parmesan.

Bake pizza, according to dough directions, about 15-20 minutes.

While pizza is cooking, heat a small amount of balsamic vinegar in a pan. Heat over low heat until it begins to bubble. Balsamic vinegar should begin to thicken and become syrupy. Drizzle the thickend syrup over the top of pizza when it is finished cooking. Allow pizza to cool slightly, cut and enjoy.

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From Cooking to Renovating...

I have been a very naughty blogger. With the holiday madness and a bit of holiday sickness, I have been severely neglecting my blog. I didn't make any of the wonderful holiday goodies I planned on (well I attempted one but failed miserably, we won't talk about that) because I got sick right before Christmas and dinners have been consisting of whatever I can find and throw together in a snap.

Anyway, I am going to try to blog some recipes over the next couple weeks but then we should be moving and I will probably go on hiatus again. However, I will be blogging about all the fabulous renovations that will be taking place in our new house over the course of 2009 (at least they are fabulous in my head). Our house needs a LOT of work so this should be an adventure in the very least. What better way to test the first year of marriage then by tackling home renovation and decorating?

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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Olive and Goat Cheese Bruchetta

I want to call this "olive and goat cheese goodness" because it is soooo good. I have been making this for years, it is one of my first recipes. It is perfect for parties, easy to prepare (do it in a food processor), and tastes gourmet.

Ingredients:
1 cup diced, seeded plum tomatoes
1/4 cup chopped, pitted olives
2 tbsp chopped fresh basil
1 tsp sherry vinegar
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
16 (1/4 inch thick) slices French bread baguette
1 garlic clove, peeled
1/4 cup mild goat cheese, at room temperature

Preheat oven to 400. Combine first 6 ingredients in small bowl and set aside.
Arrange bread on baking sheet and bake for 8 minutes or until lightly browned and crisp.
Remove toast slices from oven and allow to cool 2 minutes. Rub both side of each piece of toast with garlic clove.
Spread goat cheese on one side and top with olive mixture.

Makes 8 servings.

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Butternut Squash Risotto


This would make a great accompaniment to a chicken dish. I made it just on its own and although it was good, it didn't have a lot to offer to stand on its own. It could also be that the squash I used wasn't too flavorful. I do recommend it as a side though!

Ingredients:
7 cups (or more) chicken broth
3 tbsp butter (I used light butter)
1 1/4 cups finely chopped onion
1 2-pound butternut squash, peeled, halved, seeded, cut into 1/2 to 3/4 inch dice (about 3 cups)
2 tsp chopped fresh rosemary, divided
2 cups (about 13.5 oz) arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
4 cups (packed) baby spinach leaves (about 4 oz) - I used frozen spinach, thawed it out and used only about 1 cup in the recipe
1/2 cup freshly ground Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup crumbled blue cheese (about 1.5 oz)

Directions:
Bring 7 cups broth to boil in large saucepan. Cover and reduce heat to low.

Melt butter in a heavy large pot over medium heat. Add onion and saute until tender, about 5 minutes. Add squash and 1 1/2 tsp rosemary, saute 4 minutes to coat with butter.

Add rice and stir 2 minutes. Add wine and simmer until evaporated, about 1 minute. Add 7 cups hot broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered until rice is just tender and risotto is creamy and slightly soupy, adding more broth by 1/4 cupfuls as needed to maintain consistency. Stir occasionally and simmer for about 18 minutes. Stir in spinach and parmesan cheese. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Transfer risotto to large bowl. Sprinkle with blue cheese and remaining 1/2 tsp rosemary and serve.

Recipe from www.gastronomyblog.com

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Monday, December 8, 2008

Pasta with Vodka Sauce and Sausage

I had an awesome meal planned out for tonight: swordfish, roasted veggies and rice. It was to be my first time cooking fish. I'm not a big fish person and recently decided that I should branch out from the usual chicken, pasta or beef meals and try some new things, fish included. Plus, I hear its really good for you. Anyway, apparently swordfish isn't a regular at our grocer. I thought you could just waltz in, pick out a steak and waltz out, but no. I left fish-less. I did pick up the ingredients for this awesome pasta since I've been meaning to blog it anyway. I also spied some awesome tuna steaks so maybe tuna will have to be my fish-premiere.

Edit: Note to self: look up synonyms for "awesome"


 Recipe adapted from the Food Network
Serves 2

Ingredients:
1/2 pound spaghetti
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 link (about 1/2 lb) Italian sausage, removed from casing and crumbled or chopped
1 cup chopped yellow onions
3/4 tsp salt
Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
1 tbsp minced garlic
3/4 cup crushed tomatoes
4 tbsp vodka
3 tbsp half and half
2 to 3 tbsp chiffonade of fresh basil leaves
Freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano for garnish

Directions:Bring a medium saucepan of salter water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until just al dente, 5 to 6 minutes. Drain in a coriander and return to the saucepan.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the sausage and cook, stirring, until browned and all pink has disappeared, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the onions, salt, and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring, until the onions are soft and golden, about 5 minutes.
Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes and cook , stirring, until thick, about 2 minutes. Add the vodka and cook until the sauce reduced by half, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the cream and cook until the sauce thickens, about 2 minutes. Stir in the basil and remove from heat.

Toss the sauce with the pasta to coat evenly. Add desired amount of Parmigiano cheese and toss. Transfer to a pasta bowl for serving, serve immediately.

This pasta is really delicious and hearty! It's also quick and easy to make, definitely a good thing to have in your repertoire to throw together in a flash.



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Saturday, December 6, 2008

Gingerbread Cupcakes

I love gingerbread! My mom has the best gingerbread men (and women) recipe ever and we used to make it every Christmas. However, gingerbread men (and women) are a bit time consuming to make. Plus, I don't have a rolling pin. One of the reasons I don't have a rolling pin is because I don't have enough counter space to roll out dough on. Hopefully this will change when we move to our new house and renovate the kitchen (hear that Casey? renovated kitchen = yummy gingerbread cookies and other tasty treats that require rolling pins). I digress.

I found this recipe for gingerbread cupcakes and it seemed perfect to make for a family holiday party. Upon tasting, this gingerbread is quite delish! Yum. You will be a bit shocked by the lemon frosting especially if you didn't make the recipe and pick up what appears to be a sugar-frosted cupcake and bite into it and taste lemon. But, I think it really works well with the gingerbread. You could probably do a regular frosting on these and they would taste equally as good.

Wow, okay Chatty Cathy, on to the recipe...

Ingredients:
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/4 cup water
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup unsulphured molasses (not blackstrap)
3 large eggs at room temperature
1/4 cup grated ginger

For Icing:
1/4 cup plus 1 tbsp powdered sugar
2 tsp lemon juice

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350. Line a muffin tin with cupcake papers.
In a small bowl, melt the butter and water together in the microwave, covering the top with plastic wrap.
Sift together flour, salt, baking soda, and dry spices in a bowl.
Beat together molasses and brown sugar until smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating for 30 seconds between each egg.
Beat in the flour mixture slowly until just incorporated. Add the butter mixture and the grated ginger and beat until smooth. Batter will be runny.
Spoon into cupcake papers, about 3/4 full. Bake for 12-14 minutes (I'm fairly certain you will need more time) or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool for a minute to set before moving to a wire rack to fully cool.
Makes about 12 cupcakes.

For Icing:
Combine powdered sugar and lemon juice together in a bowl and stir until smooth. Allow to stiffen up a bit for 4 minutes (I skipped this part, mine was thick enough already). Spoon over the cooled cupcakes and allow to harden.

Notes:
I doubled the recipe and ended up with 24 cupcakes plus 12 mini cupcakes (I had batter left over and decided to make the minis). The 24 cupcakes cooked for 20 minutes and the minis cooked for 14. Usually my oven cooks fast so I think the 12-14 minute time in the recipe will probably be a bit under even for just one pan.
The grated ginger was a bit of a pain. I ended up with stringy bits that I had to remove from the final batter. I would suggest removing any strings before you add the ginger to the batter. Also, I doubled the recipe so I needed 1/2 cup ginger. I got a medium-sized ginger root and didn't quite make it to 1/2 cup. The recipe still tasted good even with slightly less ginger. Just know that if you are doubling the recipe you will need a pretty big ginger root.

If I had thought about it, red or green sprinkles would have made a nice little touch on top of the icing. I didn't think about it, but you may want to.

Recipe found at Simply Recipes

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Thursday, December 4, 2008

Twice Baked Potatoes

These are a great side dish although they take a little while to bake. Recipe adapted from Rachel Ray. This is the 2 serving version.

Ingredients:
2 baking potatoes
2 slices turkey bacon, chopped and cooked until crisp
1/2 cup light sour cream
1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese, plus more for garnish
1 green onion, chopped
Salt and ground pepper to taste

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400. Punch holes in baked potatoes with a fork, place on baking sheet and bake for 50 minutes or until tender.
Remove potatoes and allow to cool slightly. When cool enough to handle, cut each potato in half lengthwise, scoop out flesh, leaving a 1/4 inch shell and transfer to a large bowl. Add bacon, sour cream, cheddar, green onion and mix until blended. Season, to taste, with salt and black pepper.
Spoon mixture back into the shells. Sprinkle with a little more cheese.
Arrange stuffed shells on a baking sheet (or refrigerate until ready to bake). Bake 15-20 minutes until golden brown.

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Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Cumin-Scented Oven Fries

I got home late today and had to go grocery shopping so I didn't have time to whip up much for dinner. I just made buffalo burgers and "fries". If you've never had a buffalo burger, try it! They are so good and less fat then beef! Trader Joes has great frozen ones which is what I used. My all time favorite burger toppings are cheese (but, of course), guac, and fresh japs (aka jalepenos).

The fry recipe is from Weight Watchers and I use it all the time, they taste great and satisfy a french fry craving.

Ingredients:
2.5 lbs potatoes (about 3 potatoes), cut into wedges
1 tsp olive oil
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon

Directions:
Preheat oven to 450. Lightly spray a baking sheet with nonstick spray.
Combine potatoes and olive oil. Add all other ingredients and toss well.
Arrange potatoes in a single layer on the sheet. Bake 20 minutes, then turn potatoes and bake until crip and cooked through, 8-10 minutes longer.

Points: 3
Servings: 6

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C + C Marriage Factory: December 2008

C + C Marriage Factory