Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Banning TV for the night

I was driving to work today and listening to the radio.  Ryan Seacrest interrupts the weather report with breaking of the women that Tiger Woods had an affair with is going to be having her own reality TV show.  Yup, that's what I heard.  I just became angry with the fact that someone is going to profit over the sadness that a family went through.  I don't want to get all political here, but I'm just becoming more and more annoyed with the whole celebrity obsession thing.  I know I'm guilty of it...I LOVE American Idol and Jersey Shore and Entertainment Tonight...its a half hour of doing something that is completely mindless, and sometimes you need that.  And I know I gossip about celebrities with my girlfriends all the time.  But I think I'm doing too much of it lately.  So, I vowed that tonight I wouldn't turn the TV on at all.  Its after 8pm and so far so good!  I made an amazing dinner for myself, and am going to finish reading New Moon tonight (hopefully), and then might get to bed early!  Sounds like a good night to me.

(But someone please text me the results of Idol!)  HAHAA!!!

Anyway, I had some of the mascarpone cheese leftover from tiramisu the other night and needed to use it up.  So I found this recipe from Cooking Light for porcini mushroom risotto.  I've made risotto before, and always love it, but had never done something like this before.  It tasted like....well, mushrooms!  But better!  However, this is NOT a pretty looking dish at all.  Its just...brown.  I know you eat with your eyes first, but honestly, it smells so so yummy, you'll want to eat it.  After a glass of wine, most things look appetizing anyway :)

It SNOWED in Nashua this morning (a few flakes, but still, its about to be May)  This is definitely a dish that would be great in the fall or has such a hearty flavor and its so creamy.  Or on a snowy day in May!  It was delish though.  I didn't use the Parmesan cheese though...just used up the rest of the mascarpone cheese instead.  Also used dried thyme instead of fresh.  Fresh absolutely would have been better because it would've added some color.  And I'm sure you can do this with just regular mushrooms instead of the porcini's...would definitely save some bucks.  I think you would just double the beef broth in that case, since you wouldn't have the cooking liquid from the mushrooms.  That cooking liquid though....was out of this world!  I don't know who ever thought of the idea "hey, let me dry out these mushrooms, then put them in boiling water months later, and eat them"....probably the same person that looked at a lobster for the first time and said "now THATS something I want to eat!"  Either way, they were both geniuses.  Wish I could say the same for creators of some of the reality TV shows out there.  

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Quite possibly the most under-rated sandwich...

You know when you eat something you haven't had in a while and you think "WOW!  I really like this....why don't I have it more often?"  Well, that's the way I feel about egg salad sandwiches.

I don't know why...I just don't eat egg salad all that much.  You see it on the menu pretty often, they always seem to have gallons of it in the deli, you almost always have the ingredients at home to make it....but you just always skip over it.  Not sure why this is, but I'm on a mission to bring back the egg salad sandwich! 

So, I made it tonight.  I'm not going to share an exact recipe here...1) I think that's all a matter of taste and 2) I really didn't measure anything.  I used 3 hard-boiled eggs, some mayo, a blob of deli mustard, salt and pepper, and some chopped chives.  I had it on toast.  Quite a satisfying dinner if I say so myself.  If anyone can think of anything else yummy to add to egg salad, please share!  My friend added avocado...think that sounds awesome!

I DID however use Martha's tips on how to hard boil eggs.  For some reason, some people seem to mess this up and you end up with either really dry yokes that resemble yellow school chalk, or something that has the consistency of...yellow slime.  ick.  So, put the eggs in a saucepan, cover with 1 inch of water and bring to a boil.  As soon as it hits boiling, immediately take it off the heat, and cover it with a lid for 12 minutes.  Then put the eggs in an ice bath to stop the cooking.  You can either eat them warm, or wait for them to cool completely (about 10 minutes).

So, here I go on my quest to single handedly bring back egg salad!  Who's with me?! 

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Happy Birthday, Nana!

Well, today would have been my Nana's birthday.  I have missed her every day since she passed away in September of 2007.  To celebrate her birthday, I made her Swedish Apple Pie.  Last fall, my Grampa gave me Nana's recipe box....such a priceless gift!!!  So for Christmas, I made a book of her recipes and gave them to my sisters, cousins, aunts, everyone!  It was a huge hit.  

Nana taught me a LOT about cooking and baking.  Nana devoted her entire life to her family...there was never a doubt that family was her #1 priority.  That was never shown more than through her cooking.  You could just drop by to say hi and within 20 minutes you had a pot roast, mashed potatoes, green beans, homemade biscuits, and something yummy for dessert in front of you.  When I was learning to cook, she told me that "cooking isn't hard....just find a recipe you like and make it your own."  At the time I didn't have a clue what she meant, but I do now.  Nana taught me so much about cooking, but more importantly, she taught me about LIFE.  Nothing is more important than your family and friends, and the best things in life are usually the most simple things.  

So, here is Nana's Swedish Apple Pie.  I think this was actually her mother's recipe.  I used to LOVE this growing up.  What makes this apple pie so different, is that there isn't a crust.  You put the apples on the bottom and then cover with the topping.  I was too anxious to wait until it cooled to cut into (warning, this pie will make your house smell AMAZING)....but please try your best to wait!  Otherwise its still a bit juicy and messy....but as Nana would say, "its all going to the same place!"

Fill 9" pie pan 2/3 full with sliced apples (I used Cortlands, peeled and cored, and cut them 1/4" thick).  Sprinkle with 1/2 cup sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon.  In a bowl, combine 3/4 melted butter, 1 cup flour, 1/2 cup sugar, pinch of salt, and 1/2 cup chopped nuts (I used pecans...I can't remember what Nana used to use).  Smooth the topping over the apples.  Bake at 350 for 45 minutes or until top is browned.  (I also put the pie plate on a cookie sheet....good thing since it did spill over a bit in the oven).

So, enjoy!  Happy Happy Birthday Nana!  I cried when I was slicing the apples, I cried when I took my first bite of the pie and was transported back to your kitchen, and I'm crying now.  You were one of the best cooks I ever knew....if I can be half as good as you, then I'll be a success in the kitchen too.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Annie's Noodles and Cupcakes

No one to cook for tonight, so Annie's Noodles it is!!!  Honestly, sometimes it's nice to just have a night to yourself, eat some favorite college food, and watch the silly shows I can't watch with my boyfriend (Access Hollywood and American Idol).  So, I'm excited for this night o' Jenna.

So, I have to give SOMETHING of my create cooking skills here.  This past summer I received Martha Stewart's Cupcakes book as a gift, and have been loving creating these little cakes!  My favorite to make are my beach cupcakes.

I used Martha's yellow cupcake and frosting recipe, but use your favorite recipes or a box mix.  After frosting the cupcakes, I dipped them in Sugar in the Raw, but you can also use sanding sugar.  Whole Foods also has lots of different types of sugar that look like "sand."  Then I cut out some clip-art flip flops, stuck them into the sand, and added the little umbrellas you get in your drink at Chinese food restaurants (bought them at iParty for $2.99 for about 500 of them...any other ideas of what I can do with these things?!).  

Red Velvet cupcakes....ugh.  Is there really anything better?  I think the right cream cheese frosting will either make it or break it.  There are some great recipes out there, but my favorites are Martha Stewart's and Paula Dean (we should probably trust a southern belle for this recipe...sorry Martha!).  The BEST thing about these treats though, is the deep red color.  The automatically coordinate with the 4th of July, Christmas, Valentine's Day, etc.  Most recently, I made them at our annual New Years party with my nieces and nephews, who, as you can see, LOVED them!  Below are Kate, 21 months, Clay, 6, and Maggie, 4.

Happy Tuesday!

First Blog Post EVER!

Well, here we are, jumping off into that wonderful world of blogging.  We'll see how I do with it.  I like to think I'm fairly creative/artistic/funny, so hopefully this won't bore you too much.  A few of my girlfriends have some great blogs where they share recipes, crafts, thoughts, etc that I liked and since I'm always looking for a new distraction...hey, why not?  So hopefully I can share with you some of my favorite recipes, crafts (if I ever actually complete some), photographs, and funny stories along the way.  So, grab a glass of wine (I currently have a glass of Shiraz in front of me), and enjoy!