Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy New Year!

Today Joe and I went ice skating at Millennium Park. I will admit that I completely romanticized the idea. The truth is that I've never been ice skating before. And it's hard. About half a lap around the rink and my ankles felt like they were going to snap in half. But I did it and would stop and rest when needed (often) and then try some more. It was a brisk and overcast day downtown but fortunately not too terribly cold. Tonight we're going to have a cozy dinner at The Melting Pot and will be home (and maybe asleep) long before midnight. Happy New Year to all!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas aftermath

Adyson had fun opening presents. Some of the items she received included new dolls, accessories for her dolls and a vaccuum.

My grandma was able to spend a few hours with us on Christmas. She is usually the most excited about opening gifts.

Joe and I arrived home yesterday afternoon after spending a couple days in Missouri with my family. I don't know what it is about travel - however long or short - but I'm exhausted. I'm also hoping that an elf sneaks into the house to put away the Christmas decorations. I hinted around to my husband and he asked if I really wanted him to be responsible for packing away delicate ornaments. He's right. I'll get to it eventually.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Recipe Roulette - Bibimbap

Nichole picked this recipe and I was definitely overwhelmed when I read the ingredients. It was a little more high-maintenance than I prefer in the kitchen. I didn't care for the results but Joe loved it. (If you haven't noticed, he basically loves everything.) Also, I don't do fried eggs so I made a fried egg for Joe and scrambled one for me. I also don't do radishes but decided to comply for this recipe and ate it anyway.

1/4 cup of Korean soy sauce
2 tsp sugar
1/4 cup minced scallions
1 tbsp minced garlic
2 tsp minced ginger
2 tsp ground toasted sesame seeds
Dark sesame oil, as needed
Black pepper, as needed
1 lb beef skirt steak, cut into strips
1/4 cup peanut or canola oil, as needed
2 cups steamed medium-grain rice
2 cups iceberg lettuce chiffonade
1 cup julienned or grated red radish
1 cup julienned or grated daikon
1 cup julienned or grated carrot
1 cup julienned or grated seedless cucumber
4 shiso leaves cut into fine shreds (you can substitute basil and mint if you can't find shiso leaves)
4 large eggs
2 tbsps Korean red pepper paste (gochujang), or as needed

Combine the soy sauce and sugar in a bowl. Add the scallions, ginger, garlic and sesame seeds. Add the sesame oil and pepper to taste. Add the skirt steak and toss until evenly coated. Cover, refrigerate and let steak marinate for at least 1 and up to 8 hours.

Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a wok over high heat until it is nearly smoking. Add the beef strips to the hot oil and stir-fry until the beef is cooked, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and keep warm.

Divide the rice evenly among 4 bowls. Top the rice with the lettuce. Toss together the red radish, daikon, carrot, cucumber and shiso leaves. Divide the vegetables evenly among the bowls. Top the vegetables with the skirt steak and season each with a few drops of sesame oil.

Wipe out the wok and return it to the burner. Add 1 tablespoon of oil to the wok and heat it over medium heat until the oil ripples. Add the eggs to the hot oil one at a time and fry, basting the tops with a little oil, until the whites are set and the yolk is hot, 2 to 3 minutes. Top each serving with a fried egg and serve at once, accompanied by the Korean red pepper paste.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The most wonderful time of the year

Today my yoga teacher gave me a gingerbread man cookie cutter doing the tree pose. It's so cute that I had to share. I might be inspired to make some yogi gingerbread cookies now.

Speaking of baking, I have been making lots of treats lately. I guess it's because in June you don't really have an excuse to make fattening stuff and hand it out, so I need to get it all out of my system now. Otherwise, it's like baking pumpkin pie in April...not really time appropriate although still tasty.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Recipe Roulette - Chicken, Goat Cheese and Rice Casserole with Pecans and Cherries

This week served up another recipe by Paula Deen. I thought it was great. I could have probably done without the cherries but they turned out to be Joe's favorite part of the dish. Also, I only used one cup of goat cheese which seemed like enough. It's a great twist on your everyday chicken and rice casserole.

2 tablespoons butter
1/4 chopped yellow onion
1 teaspoon dried thyme
3 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper
2 cups diced cooked chicken
1 1/2 cups long-grain white rice
3/4 cup dried cherries
2 cups (1/2 pound) crumbled goat cheese
1 cup heavy cream
3/4 cup chopped pecans
finely grated zest of 1 orange
1 cup (1/4 pound) grated Parmesan cheese

1. Preheat the oven to 375. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Add the onion and saute until softened, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the thyme and cook for 1 minute more. Pour in the broth and season with the salt and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil.

2. In a 13 x 9 inch flameproof baking dish, combine the chicken, rice and cherries. Pour the boiling broth mixture over it and cover tightly with foil. Bake until the rice is tender and the liquid has been absorbed, 30 to 40 minutes.

3. Remove the casserole from the oven, remove the foil, and turn the setting to broil. Stir in the goat cheese, cream, pecans and orange zest. Smooth the surface of the casserole and sprinke it with Parmesan cheese. Return the casserole to the oven and broil until the cheese is melted and golden, about 5 minutes. Serve hot.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Husband interuptus

This post is by husband of Girl About Town. Her Beef Burgandy is out of this world. This was one of the best winter meals of my life.

Friday, December 11, 2009

My proudest moment

My Christmas present this year was a Dutch oven. (Yes, I now consider myself a full-fledged adult for being genuinely giddy over a kitchen pot.) Anyway, since I already have it, I decided to use it to make beef burgundy. I didn't use the Julia Child recipe because, frankly, it's practically longer than the last book I read. I made the dish along with a side of mashed potatoes and I am so proud of the results. (Recipe from Food Network Magazine.)

6 strips of thick-cut bacon, chopped
2 1/2 pounds flat-iron or tri-tip beef, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
2 medium carrots, diced
2 medium onions, diced
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1 sprig fresh parsley, plus more for garnish
1 4-inch piece celery stalk
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 cup brandy
2 cups burgundy, cotes du rhone or other dry red wine
2 cups beef stock
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup pearl onions, peeled
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup quartered button mushrooms

1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Heat a 6-to-8-quart Dutch oven over medium-high heat; add the bacon and cook until lightly browned. Remove with a slotted spoon to a large plate, leaving the drippings in the pot.

2. Pat the beef dry with paper towels; season with salt and pepper. Add the beef to the pot in a single layer (do this in batches); sear for 3 to 5 minutes, turning to brown all over. Transfer with a slotted spoon to the plate with the bacon.

3. Add the carrots and onions to the pot and cook until softened and slightly browned, 7 to 8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Meanwhile, make a "bouquet garni": Tie the thyme, bay leaf, garlic, parsley and celery together with twine (nestle the garlic in the celery stalk).

4. Return the bacon and beef to the pot. Add the flour and stir for a few minutes until the meat is coated. Stir in the tomato paste. Add the brandy and cook until reduced by half, about 5 minutes. Add the red wine; cook until reduce by half again, about 10 more minutes. Add the stock and bouquet garni; bring to a low boil. Stir gently, then cover and transfer to the oven; cook until the meat is tender and cooked through, stirring occasionally, about 1 hour 30 minutes.

5. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the pearl onions and cook until slightly softened, about 2 minutes. Add the sugar and 1/4 cup water; cook until the water evaporates and the onions are browned, about 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms; cook until slightly softened and golden, 3 to 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper; set the skillet aside.

6. Remove the meat from the pot with a slotted spoon. Let the sauce sit for a few minutes, then skim the fat and discard. Return the meat to the pot. Add the pearl onions and mushrooms; heat through. Season with salt and pepper and garnish with parsley. (For better flavor, make the dish a day ahead.)

Monday, December 07, 2009

Recipe Roulette - Pumpkin Baked Ziti

This week's random recipe comes from Kate. She volunteered to supply our random recipe to which Nichole responded that her only rule was that whatever the random recipe was, Kate would have to make it, too. I think this was Nichole's way of making sure the recipe wasn't gross. I will admit, I was super skeptical when I saw the recipe. Mostly because one of the main ingredients is sausage. And, as anyone who reads this blog regularly should know, Amy doesn't go near sausage. But I decided to use ground beef instead of sausage and plunge forward. Besides, Paula Deen has never let me down before.

The results? I liked it. The pumpkin was very subtle (my husband called it "quiet") and was a nice change from red sauce, which I don't really care for. It may not go on my list of favorites but I really don't have any complaints and it was very easy to make.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Runaway dog

I took this picture with my cell phone yesterday in the parking lot of the grocery store. This car was parked directly in front of us and the dog inside looked like he was about ready to pull out of the parking lot and take off. It was so cute!!

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

O Christmas Tree

My Wedding Day Barbie ornament. My Barbie ornament collection is quite stunning. :)
Our first Christmas tree!

I feel like a huge grinch but I hate decorating for Christmas. I dread putting up the Christmas tree, getting out the ornaments and everything else that is festive. What I hate even more is having to undecorate the tree and put everything away. This is probably another reason why I haven't done trees or much decorating for the past couple of years.

When I suggested to Joe a few weeks ago that we needed to buy a respectable Christmas tree he looked a little confused. He grew up with real Christmas trees not the artificial ones you'd usually find in my house growing up. Sure, real trees can smell and look nice but I hate the needles. And the watering. And when I think about setting out on an adventure to find a real tree, it just seems like a royal pain. So we went to Target to buy our very first Christmas tree. I was going to be content with just about any small/medium sized tree. Not my husband. Nope. If he was going to have some fake tree in his house it was going to be big and beautiful. So tonight we decorated our new tree. I love it!!

And I remembered why I love having a Christmas tree - my massive ornament collection! Most are from friends and trips I've taken. The only souvenir I bought on our honeymoon was an ornament which is standard procedure whenever I travel. And every time I see my ornaments, I'm reminded by the place/time I purchased it or the friend/relative who gave it to me. Yup, my husband now has a Christmas tree FULL of Barbie ornaments in his living room - thanks, Amber!

Who knows, maybe I won't be such a scrooge next year about getting the tree out. But when the time comes, I will definitely let someone else undecorate it and put everything away.

designed by