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Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Roasted Garlic Smashed Potatoes

I did a search for smashed potatoes and came across these on Angel in the Kitchen. I knew I would love them because I love roasted garlic. Casey and I will roast a head of garlic and just eat the cloves plain. Yum! I didn't have any cream on hand so I used milk instead which resulted in a less creamy, but still tasty version of this recipe. I also used russet potatoes instead of red.

1 head garlic
Olive oil, for drizzling
2 lbs. red potatoes, scrubbed and cut in large chunks
5 Tbsp. butter
3/4 c. cream
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Slice off the top of the head of garlic (the pointed end). Drizzle olive oil over the exposed garlic cloves. Wrap the garlic in foil. Place on a sheet tray and bake about 35 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool. Remove the cloves from the garlic skins and mash with a wooden spoon.

Place potatoes in a large pot filled with water. Add salt and bring to a boil. Cook until fork tender and drain. Smash the potatoes to the desired consistency.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, heat butter, cream, roasted garlic, and some salt and pepper over medium-low heat until butter melts.

Add the cream mixture to the potatoes and mash together. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper, and serve hot.


Monday, August 30, 2010

Two Years!

Today is Casey and my two year anniversary!. A lot has happened in two years. After getting married at the wedding of our dreams and having an amazing honeymoon, we quickly transitioned from wedding planning to house hunting. We found a house that we loved liked enough and was in our price range and closed the day before New Years Eve 2008. Casey had such vision for the dreary 70s-laden, mirrored atrocity. I admittedly did not, but I trusted him and I am so glad I did. We have somehow turned the cold, dated house into a home. It feels more and more like home with each renovation that we complete and when I look back at all the renovations, I can't believe how far we've come!

On our one year anniversary we got an anniversary dog (our *gasp* third!), Bella, and she has turned into the sweetest and one of the best dogs I have ever had. All in all it has been a great two years, we have a home, our little family has grown, and we have learned a ton about DIY renovations!

Happy anniversary to the love of my life, my partner and friend. I love you!

Photos by: Ryan Estes


Friday, August 27, 2010

Project 365: Week 31

These pictures were taken while on vacation in Vermont. It's nice to have some new faces to photograph. Don't get a lot of cows, horses and llamas at home! The first five are from the 4H fair. I love the first one of the boy and the cow.

This next are signs inside our favorite local pizza place Parker Pie.

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Thursday, August 26, 2010

Filet of Beef au Poivre

My good friend over at Mrs. G in DC recommended this Ina Garten recipe to me. The sauce was delicious although not exactly what I consider to be a traditional au poivre sauce. Next time I might try to thicken the sauce up a bit, I was only making enough for two and didn't measure anything out so that may have been my problem. It still tasted great, both Casey and I liked it. I served it with Roasted Garlic Smashed Potatoes and Roasted Asparagus with Sun-Dried Tomatoes. What a great meal!

6 filet mignon, cut 1 1/4 inches thick
Kosher salt
2 tablespoons coarsely ground black pepper
3 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 cup chopped shallots (3 to 4 shallots)
1 cup canned beef broth
1/2 cup good Cognac or brandy

Place the filets on a board and pat them dry with paper towels. Sprinkle the filets with salt and then press the black pepper evenly on both sides. Allow to rest at room temperature for 15 minutes.

Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons of the butter and the oil in a large saute pan over medium-high heat until the butter almost smokes. Place the steaks in the pan and lower the heat to medium. Saute the steaks for 4 minutes on 1 side and then for 3 minutes on the other side, for medium rare. Remove the steaks to a serving platter and cover tightly with aluminum foil.

Meanwhile, pour all but 1 tablespoon of fat from the saute pan. Add the shallots and cook over medium heat for 2 minutes. Add the beef broth and cook over high heat for 4 to 6 minutes, until reduced by half, scraping the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the Cognac and cook for 2 more minutes. Off the heat, swirl in the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Serve the steaks hot with the sauce poured on top.


Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Mediterranean Stuffed Chicken Breasts

This is another stellar recipe from For the Love of Cooking! I love the stuffing, so delicious! However, I have serious issues stuffing chicken. Not sure if the organic breasts that I buy are smaller or I just don't know how to cut the chicken the right way to make a good pocket, but it is not my forte. Does anyone have any tips for stuffing chicken?
This dish was simple and turned out great. For sides try Orzo Pilaf, Quinoa with Spinach and Feta, or a Greek Salad.
2 chicken breasts
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Garlic powder, to taste
Dried oregano, to taste
1 small red bell pepper, diced
2 tbsp low fat feta cheese
2 tbsp kalamata olives, diced
2 tbsp red onion, diced
1 tbsp pine nuts
2 tbsp basil, chopped
Combine the bell pepper, feta cheese, olives, onion, nuts, and basil together in a small bowl.
Cut a horizontal slit through the thickest portion of the chicken breast to form a small pocket. Stuff 2-3 tbsp of the cheese mixture into each pocket; close the opening with a toothpick. Season the chicken with salt, pepper, garlic powder and oregano, to taste on each side.
Place the chicken on the grill for 6 minutes on each side until done. Remove from grill, cover loosely with foil and let the meat rest for 7-10 minutes before slicing.

Linked to Lamb Around Not Baaad Sundays.


Friday, August 20, 2010

Baby Drew

My good friend, Kelly, recently asked me to take pictures of her nephew. I was excited for the opportunity to practice since I don't have a lot of human subjects running around. This was the first time I ever took pictures for someone else, not just for me. I really went in without any idea what it was going to be like or how the pictures would turn out. I think I ended up with some great shots and have learned a couple things too. Looking back through my pictures, I learned which shots worked and which didn't. It was a great learning experience for me and I was so happy to give Drew's family great pictures of him.


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Pickled Peppers

This year we planted three pepper plants: Hungarian hot, banana, and Serrano. As a result we have more peppers than we know what to do with! I found a pickled pepper recipe from David Lebovitz that sounded like a doable alternative to canning. I have never canned before, but I'm thinking that the way these peppers are growing I may need to start.

Does anyone have any good ideas for what to do with an abundance of peppers? Or any good canning resources? Please share in the comments if you do and post any links to good pepper recipes!

1 pound fresh jalapeno (or other) peppers, washed
2 1/2 cups water
2 1/2 cups vinegar (I used white distilled vinegar)
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons coarse salt, such as kosher
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons whole coriander seeds
3 cloves garlic, peeled
2 tablespoons black peppercorns

Stab each pepper three times with a sharp paring knife and place them in a large glass preserving jar.

In a non-reactive saucepan, bring the other ingredients to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for five minutes.

Remove from heat and pour the brine over the peppers. Place the lid on the jar and let cool. Once cool, refrigerate for at least a week before using, if possible.

Serve whole, with Mexican dishes, or remove the seeds then chop and use to season any recipe that is improved by a little bit of sweet heat.

Store in the refrigerator for up to a few weeks.

We tried these peppers after letting them sit for a week. The heat definitely died down some from the pickling. Before, I couldn't even take a tiny bite of one and after I could eat a whole one with only minor amounts of crying! They taste great sliced up and served with any dish that needs some heat.

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Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Sesame Seared Tuna with Lime Ginger Vinaigrette

I have had this recipe from Steamy Kitchen bookmarked for a long time. I noticed my local grocery store had sushi-grade tuna steaks on sale so I decided to try it out. My first attempt with rare tuna didn't turn out so well, I didn't get a great sear on them and they were just mediocre. This time they turned out great! I think I might need a few more times to master getting those sesames seared just perfectly, but even if it didn't come out picture perfect, this dish was yummy. I love the vinaigrette with the fish, although we did end up adding some extra wasabi to each bite.

3 tablespoons black sesame seeds
3 tablespoons white sesame seeds
2 pieces tuna fish fillet (about 1 pound)
1 teaspoon wasabi paste
1 tablespoon cooking oil
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice (or other vinegar)
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
3 tablespoons avocado oil (or other oil)
salt and pepper
2 large handfuls salad greens (optional)

In a shallow bowl, add the black and the white sesame seeds. Pat the tuna very dry. Smear a bit of wasabi paste on both sides of the fish. Season the fish with salt and pepper. Coat all sides of the tuna in sesame seeds.

Heat a frying pan over medium-high heat and add the cooking oil. When the oil is shimmering, carefully lay the tuna fillets in the pan, not touching. Cook for 2 minutes then flip the tuna. Cook 2 minutes, then flip the fillets to its side to cook 1 minute. Flip one more time to cook the other side for 1 minute so that you have a good sear on all sides. Please take care not to burn the sesame seeds. If the seeds start turning brown too quickly, lower the heat. Remove the fish to a plate.

In a small bowl, whisk together the lime juice, ginger and the oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Slice the fish into thin slices and arrange on a plate. Drizzle some of the lime-ginger vinaigrette over the fish. Toss the remaining lime-ginger vinaigrette with salad greens, if desired.

Serves 4 as an appetizer or 2 as a main dish.


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Monday, August 16, 2010

Avocado Hummus

When I stumbled across this recipe on Annie Bakes I knew I had to try it. Hummus? Avocado? Yes, please. This recipe did not disappoint. Both Casey and I loved it so much that I made it twice, the second time for a FIF night at my house.

Usually, hummus recipes call for chilling them prior to serving to let the flavors blend but this one did not. I served it right away at room temperature and it was delicious! I also placed one of the avocado pits at the bottom of the dish which I always do when serving guacamole. It helps prevent the avocados from turning brown. I had some leftover that I kept in a Tupperware container with one of the pits. The next day it still looked pretty good, although it didn't taste as nice cold as it did at room temp. This is probably best when it will be eaten all at one time.

1 can chickpeas, drained
2 avocados, sliced
Juice of 1 lemon
2-3 teaspoons minced garlic
1/4 cup water
Salt and pepper to taste
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon paprika

Place the first five ingredients in a food processor (chickpeas, avocados, lemon juice, garlic, and water). Pulse until blended. Taste and add salt and pepper to your liking, pulse to combine. Begin drizzling in the olive oil until the hummus gets to the right consistency, it should be nice and creamy. Blend until smooth and serve topped with paprika and garnish with a sprig of cilantro (optional) and a drizzle of avocado oil (optional). Serve with pita chips.

Recipe slightly adapted from Annie Bakes.


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Friday, August 13, 2010

Project 365: Week 30

This is my last set of DC monument pictures, for awhile anyway! I'm not completely happy with these but I think they were a good start and hopefully next time I take the time to do them, they will turn out even better. It was a perfect evening, though, because once the sun set it left gorgeous pink clouds in its wake. These were all taken with my wide angle lens.



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C + C Marriage Factory: August 2010

C + C Marriage Factory