Monday, December 31, 2012

White Bean Soup!

This soup was good in a healthy sort of way, has a bit of an earthy taste. It's all beans and veggies so there is nothing unhealthy to give it that delicious flavor bacon. I liked it, especially with a shot of hot sauce. Mr. Lawyer was not a huge fan I think but is still eating it because it is healthy. It was an interesting change but it doesn't come close to our delicious and favorite tomato-orzo soup!
White Bean Soup
(from epicurious) 
2 cups dried Great Northern or other small white beans, rinsed and picked over
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 cup chopped leeks (white and pale green parts only)
1 large tomato, halved, seeded, and chopped
1/2 cup chopped carrots
1/2 cup chopped celery
8 garlic cloves, chopped
6-8 cups homemade chicken stock or canned low-salt chicken broth, or more as needed
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 cup half-and-half
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Put the beans in a large pot, add enough water to cover the beans by 2 inches, and let soak overnight. Drain.
2. Heat the olive oil in the same pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, leeks, tomato, carrots, celery, and garlic and sauté until tender, about 6 minutes. Add the beans, chicken stock, thyme, and rosemary and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the beans are very tender, about 1 hour.
3. Working in batches, puree the soup in a blender until smooth. Return the soup to the pot and add the half-and-half, then add more chicken stock to thin the soup if needed, and reheat the soup if necessary. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Hot Pretzels!

Mr. Lawyer and I had a hot Friday night date night at home filled with orange bitters, watching the Avengers, and making hot pretzels. Confession: I have not met a hot pretzel I didn't like but these were a pretty spot on replica of Auntie Anne's. They were a little less greasy (a good thing!) and delicious. For example, the boy ate an ENTIRE tray before I could get the second tray out of the oven. We made original, garlic, and cinnamon sugar. The winners were the garlic. I would recommend sprinkling a little garlic powder on them after you brush on the butter. It was a fun recipe to make together, we got flour every where and had some good laughs! Plus it was a great movie snack.
Like laughing at our ridiculous pretzel shapes. I would recommend making pretzel sticks, they are easier and bake more evenly.
 We switched over to sticks pretty quick.
Perfect Hot Pretzels!
(Pinterest find! from Yammie's Noshery adapted from Food Network)
2 cups milk
1 1/2 tablespoons (2 packets) active dry yeast
6 tablespoons brown sugar
4 tablespoons butter, melted
4 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons fine salt
1/3 cup baking soda
3 cups warm water
Coarse salt
8 tablespoons butter, melted
Garlic powder
Mustard/Cheese Sauce/Preferred Sipping Sauce
1. Warm up the milk in the microwave or on the stove for just about one and a half minutes. It should be about 110º. Stir in the yeast and let it sit for about 3 minutes. Add the butter and sugar. Add the flour about 1 cup at a time and the add the fine salt. Kneed for about 10 minutes with a stand mixer, or by hand. 
2. Put it in a greased bowl and cover with greased cling wrap. Let rise for 1 hour in a moist, warm place until doubled in size. 
3. Preheat the oven to 450º. Punch down dough and divide into 12 balls and roll them all out as thin as you can. Combine the warm water and baking soda in a wide bowl. Form the dough into pretzel shapes or pretzel sticks, then dip in the baking soda water. Place on a greased baking sheet and sprinkle with coarse salt. 
4. Bake for about 7-11 minutes or until browned. Brush each with the melted butter while hot, sprinkle on garlic powder if desired. Serve with a dipping sauce of your choice.

Fancy Ice Cubes

This has been the year of ice cubes! The one and only Sandy has gifted us with Gin & Titanic cubes and large square cubes. After our amazing cocktail experience at the Farmer's Cabinet I added sphere cubes into the mix as part of Mr. Lawyer's bar gift which also included fancy garnish picks, Luxardo cherries, and orange bitters. According to the boy the only "problem" with the square and sphere cubes is you end up drinking more because you finish your first drink and you still have this marvelous ice cube.
Sphere Cube! So. Much. Fun.
 We started to experiment with the orange bitters last night. I thought this gin based drink would be a good starting point because the bitters are not the focus. It was very drinkable. But because it was such a mix we didn't use the good gin or good cherries. Ha.
Abbey Cocktail
2 ounces gin
2 ounces orange juice
1-2 dashes orange bitters
cherry for garnish
1. Shake together gin and juice. Pour over ice. Add orange bitters and garnish with a cherry.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Blueberry Peach Tart!

The Mother Unit sent me this yummy recipe. It was nice way to use up some of the four pounds of blueberries I picked this summer. She had used a mix of blueberries, peaches, and mangos which sounds delicious. While mine was delicious it didn't hold it's form well, or I just suck at taking the pieces out, so it was definitely more on the crumble side of things.
Peach Blueberry Crumble Tart
(from a taste of home)
1-1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 cups frozen unsweetened blueberries, thawed
2 cups frozen unsweetened sliced peaches, thawed
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup old-fashioned oats
1/4 cup chopped Diamond of California® Pecans
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1. In a small bowl, mix the flour, sugar and cinnamon; stir in butter just until blended. Press onto the bottom and up the side of a 9-in. fluted tart pan with removable bottom. Bake at 350° for 15-20
minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack.
2. In a large bowl, combine the blueberries, peaches and honey; toss to coat. In a small bowl, combine the first five topping ingredients; stir in butter.
3. Spoon fruit mixture into crust; sprinkle with topping. Bake at 350° for 35-40 minutes or until topping is golden brown and filling is bubbly. Cool on a wire rack for at least 15 minutes before serving.

Homemade Vanilla

I had all these grandiose plans of cooking up a storm and trying new things over vacation but then we were with family eating our faces off and then we came home with a ton of leftovers. I also realized that my paycheck will be pitifully tiny this pay period because of Christmas break so cooking up a storm is not in the cards or in the best interest of our already stuffed fridge. I can't resist the pull of my cute (and newly colorful!) kitchen so when I saw this empty bottle just chilling and then I found some old dried up vanilla beans in the back of my spice cabinet I knew what had to be done! Homemade vanilla extract requires three things: a bottle, vanilla beans, and vodka (one variation is to use bourbon...I'm intrigued). I had the bottle and the beans and we're not big vodka drinkers so I had no problem dipping into our bar to use it for a little project. I'll see how it came out in two months...
Homemade Vanilla Extract
1 cup vodka
3 vanilla beans, split
1 glass bottle w/stopper or mason jar
1. Split the vanilla beans in half lengthwise and put into jar
2. Add vodka and seal the jar
3. Put it in your cupboard and wait at least two excruciatingly long months, shaking periodically. 

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Coffee Bar!

I've seen a few cute coffee bar set ups on pinterest. We got a new coffee maker and some fiesta mugs for trip to Ikea later and we have our own little coffee bar! Or hot beverage corner since our snazzy coffee maker also has a separate hot water function for tea and cocoa. It keeps the water hot so you can refill at any time. I had six cups of tea this morning....and then spent all afternoon floating to the bathroom. I was a bit limited by our small apartment and low cabinets but I made it work.  When I have a house/more wall space the coffee mugs will hang higher so there is more room on the counter for cute containers of coffee, more tea, and cocoa toppings.
The counter in front of the wine rack was wasted space and pushed the coffee makers close to the sink which interfered with doing the dishes. Also: drab and dark.
Better use of the corner space the coffee makers slide down (the keurig is on the other side of the big one) which frees up a lot of counter space near the sink for dishes and food prep.
Plus I get to show off my pretty mugs which is wonderful because I'm running out of cabinet space!
The rainbow.
Now I just have to figure out where to put the wine rack...

Nerd Things

Mr. Lawyer's post-Christmas fun involves playing with his new electronics and dvds. My post-Christmas fun involved spending over an hour cleaning and reorganizing my spice cabinet while rocking out to ABBA. Why yes, I did get made fun of for that (someone came home early and caught me in the act!).
Fun present that started the reorganizing! I love that Penzeys uses cinnamon sticks, bay leaves, and nutmeg for packing purposes. Any ideas for saffron? I've never used it before!
I have an insane amount of essential oils, extracts, pastes, and emulsions for baking. They are obnoxious little bottles that get knocked over and have a nasty habit of hurtling out of the cabinet towards the floor. I have solved this by putting them into a cute little box for easy access and containment purposes. I don't know why it took me two years to think of this. 
My masterpiece!
Top Row (L to R): various salts and peppercorns, extracts and oil box, jars of nuts and things
Middle Row (L to R): baking ingredients, a row of asian ingredients, a row of sweet things (cinnamon, molasses, corn syrup, etc), a row of vinegars, and a row of oils.
Bottom Row (L to R): heavily used items (olive oil, vanilla, garlic powder) followed by an impressive array of herbs and spices.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Tilapia Scampi

Mr. Lawyer made dinner tonight! He said he wouldn't make it again. It was decent but very mild, no real flavors. We served it up with some broccoli rabe from DiBruno Brothers which overpowered the dish. The gorgonzola cheese spread on bread was amazing!
Tilapia Scampi
(Adapted from
1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 (6 ounce) tilapia fillets
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1. Preheat an oven to 400 degrees
2. Combine the butter, lemon juice, and garlic in a microwave-safe bowl; heat in microwave in 10-second increments until the butter is completely melted and the garlic has softened, stirring between each session, about 1 minute total.
3. Arrange the tilapia in the bottom of baking dish; pour the butter mixture over the fillets assuring they are all evenly covered. Sprinkle the parsley over the tilapia.
4. Bake in the preheated oven, turning the fillets every 10-15 minutes, until the fish flakes easily with a fork. Serve on top of pasta.

A Little Bit Of Gin....

I spied a pretty gin bottle yesterday and some handsome fellow bought it as an early Christmas present (which brings my gin count up to 5 bottles). Plus it's distilled here in Philadelphia! Behold Bluecoat Gin.
It's an American Dry Gin and I felt it was more citrusy than juniper in flavor but not as citrusy as Bulldog Gin but more flavorful than the Citadelle. Nice and clean, decently priced but I'd still put my money towards a bottle of Hendricks. But I do love that blue bottle!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Lentil Sloppy Joes

Confession: I've never actually had a real sloppy joe. This looked like a nice healthy version and I must say I was impressed. It was very filling and had a mild flavor. It would be easily customizable with a squirt of bbq or hot sauce. I loved all the veggies that the recipe sneaked in. Since I was a very picky eater as a small child I look at this as practice for future small children...karma sucks.
Notes: after the lentils cooked it was till very watery so I siphoned off a cup of water/broth. I did not have to add the additional cup of water at the end. I also couldn't find brown lentils so I used red. Supposedly brown lentils have a more "meaty" texture. I swapped out the beef for ground turkey and used almost double the meat on account of Mr. Lawyer. 
Lentil Sloppy Joes
(from the Food Network Magazine)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
1 small carrot, finely chopped
1/2 bell pepper (red or green), finely chopped
1/2 cup ketchup
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1/2 cup dried brown lentils, picked over and rinsed
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
8 ounces ground beef (or turkey)
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
6 whole-wheat hamburger buns, toasted
6 slices cheddar cheese
Sliced pickles and/or pickled jalapeno peppers, for topping (optional)
1. Heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion, carrot, bell pepper and 2 tablespoons ketchup and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are slightly soft, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, 30 seconds. Add the lentils, oregano and 4 cups water; bring to a boil and cook 5 minutes, then reduce the heat to medium low and simmer until the lentils are tender and the water is absorbed, 35 to 40 minutes (add up to 1 more cup water if necessary). Season with salt and pepper.
2. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the beef and cook, breaking it up with a spoon, until it begins to brown, about 2 minutes. Add the Worcestershire sauce and the remaining 6 tablespoons ketchup and cook, stirring, until combined. Add the lentil mixture and 1 cup water (**I did not need to add the extra water**) and cook, stirring occasionally, until the lentils are soft and the mixture thickens, about 8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
3. Fill the buns with the cheese and lentil mixture. Top with pickles and/or pickled jalapenos.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Cinnabun Waffles!

I was uninspired to make dinner tonight so that means breakfast for dinner! Breakfast sandwiches with turkey bacon on english muffins. To undo the relative healthiness of the turkey bacon I made some cinnabun waffles. I saw the idea on pinterest and it worked out pretty well! I thought that the waffle iron made them less greasy and we used less frosting. They are a tad on the small side but they would be good for kids or a tapas breakfast....or dessert!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Sweet and Salty Salmon

I've been craving salmon lately and this recipe did the trick. The slightly sweet and salty marinade won us both over. The original recipe is for the grill but we baked it in the oven at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. Perfection. This one will be making another appearance! I served it up with my asparagus and some couscous. 
Grilled Sweet and Salty Salmon
1.5 pounds salmon fillets
lemon pepper to taste
garlic powder to taste
salt to taste
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup water
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1. Season salmon fillets with lemon pepper, garlic powder, and salt.
2. In a small bowl, stir together soy sauce, brown sugar, water, and vegetable oil until sugar is dissolved. Place fish in a large resealable plastic bag with the soy sauce mixture, seal, and turn to coat. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
3. Preheat grill for medium heat. Lightly oil grill grate. Place salmon on the preheated grill, and discard marinade. Cook salmon for 6 to 8 minutes per side, or until the fish flakes easily with a fork.
**Or bake for 15 minutes at 400 degrees**

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Holiday Traditions

I'm big on holiday traditions. I like the family history, the familiarity of events, and I'm certainly not a fan of change. I love getting together with extended family, I love that we'll take a picture of the five grandkids from shortest (me) to the tallest, that we play vicious games of Uno, and that family stories are told again and again (especially ones of young me, the only grandchild at the time, getting SO excited about Christmas I would puke my guts out so no one could even mention Christmas leading up to it). But you grow up and move away and sometimes being a big kid sucks....and sometimes you just don't want to travel on your holiday vacation! Luckily Mr. Lawyer's family has a wonderful Christmas line up of food and family with some new to me traditions that I've been enjoying.
This weekend we met up with some of Mr. Lawyer's family and made some polish cookies that his grandmother use to make. It was a blast....and not conducive to getting in wedding dress shape! 

More ramblings about traditions (with pictures!) after the jump!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Grilled Cheese Goddess

I am rocking the big kid grilled sandwiches: BLT with a yummy twist, the gooey mushroom melt, and now this pesto grilled cheese. It was divine. Any mellow soft cheese will do, such as a swiss instead of fontina, but I feel that a cheddar or more flavorful cheese would interfere with the pesto. The parmesan cheese on the outside gets nice and toasty and very flavorful. I also served up some beanie weenies with a twist. I used my baked beans recipe but used some Dinosaur BBQ sauce (Wango Tango) in place of the ketchup and added some sliced up hot dogs (leftover from our engagement party!). Delicious and oh so spicy!
Parmesan Crusted Pesto Grilled Cheese
(Pinterest find!)
Sourdough bread
Fontina cheese
2 tablespoons basil pesto
Grated parmesan cheese
1. Heat a non-stick pan over medium heat.
2.  Butter the outside of each slice of bread. Sprinkle parmesan cheese on butter. Place 2 pieces of bread, butter side down in pan. Spread pesto on bread, layer cheese, and top with the second slice of bread.
3. Grill until golden brown.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Sandwich Heaven!

You know you can't go wrong when the recipe lists mushrooms, a fancy cheese, and a good bread as ingredients. I have an obsession with sandwiches. Especially ones that involved cheese and state that they are "an adult" grilled cheese. This recipe did not disappoint and got me multiple seductive looks every time Mr. Lawyer bit into it, usually accompanied by some barely decipherable "soooo good" or "I'll keep you" comment. I am a huge fan and will be making it again on my next sandwich kick. We have also had great success using Pepperidge Farm Sourdough when it comes to making our fancy grilled sandwiches. It holds up well, develops a good crunch, and tastes delicious.
Heavenly Cheesy Mushroom Melt
(Pinterest find! Adapted from
1 tablespoon butter
1 small onion, sliced
8 ounces cremini mushrooms, sliced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 cup white wine or broth
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup fontina or gruyere, shredded
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
6 slices sourdough (or other delicious bread)
1 tablespoon butter
1. Melt the butter in a pan over medium heat. Add the onion and saute until tender, about 5-7 minutes.
2. Add the garlic and thyme and saute until fragrant. Then add the cremini mushrooms and saute until the start to caramelized and turn golden brown, about 10-15 minutes.
3. Add the wine, deglaze the pan and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated.
4. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and let cool a bit. Mix the cheese into the mushrooms.
5. Butter one side of each slice of bread and place 3 in the pan buttered side down. Top each with one third of the mushroom mixture and finally the remaining slices of bread with the buttered side up.
6. Grill until the cheese has melted and the bread is golden brown, about 2-4 minutes per side.


Why don't we have BLTs more often?! The response I received was "they don't fill me up". Sighs. In addition to his never full stomach, my toaster oven was relegated to a bottom cabinet when I received Reggie the KitchenAid. Not only is it a pain to dig it out but the toaster oven has developed a nasty habit of catching fire when used. Lovely. Luckily it seems to have corrected itself and our sourdough bread was perfectly toasted. We made it a tad more healthy with the substitution of turkey bacon.
Our BLT assembly line!
 Mr. Lawyer inhaled two (and picked out chocolate as his plate color!)
My personal favorite additions to a BLT? Cabot Hunter Cheddar and Creamy Horseradish Spread/Mayo.
To die for.

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Kitchen Master

Grandpa Norm kept me busy in the kitchen this weekend.
He attempted to teach me how to make gravy AND proper stock. This was after we had hit up some wineries so I'm not quite sure how much of it will stick. He did send me home with the stock so tonight I made up some Chicken and Dumplings. I did not have any Bisquick so I made my own. It worked but I thought the dumplings were a little on the dense side. Bisquick always makes nice fluffy dumplings.
Homemade Dumplings
(adapted from Betty Crocker)
1.5 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon parsley flakes, if desired
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup milk
1. Mix flour, parsley, baking powder and salt in medium bowl.  Stir in milk.
2. Drop dough by 10 spoonfuls onto hot meat or vegetables in boiling stew. Cook uncovered 10 minutes. Cover and cook 10 minutes longer.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

A Spicy Update!

I've updated my Spicy Hot Tomato Recipe! You can see the old and new recipe HERE!

Fresh Garlic Bread

I do love some good garlic bread. This bread was pretty good, I would tweak the garlic amount a little bit because it was a tad overpowering. The addition of parmesan to the butter was hard to beat though, amazing!
Fresh Garlic Bread
(Pinterest find!)
1 french baguette or Italian loaf
1 stick of butter, room temperature
4 cloves minced garlic (or less, it was super garlicky)
1/3 cup parmesan
Fresh parsley, chopped
1. Mix together butter, garlic, parm, and parsley.
2. Slice bread most of the way down (leave the bottom attached). Spread the butter in between each slice.
3. Wrap in foil and bake for 20-25 minutes at 400 degrees or until golden brown. Unwrap the top for the last few minutes so it browns up nicely.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Shanghai Cucumbers

Obviously it's not cucumber season so the cucumber I picked up for a salad was a bit on the dry side. This recipe was the perfect solution. I loved these Shanghai Cucumbers. Mr. Lawyer thought they were okay but I think he's really weird about Asian inspired flavors, especially sesame. The longer they sat in the fridge, the better they got. It was the perfect after school snack!
Shanghai Cucumbers
(a P.F. Chang's Copycat Recipe)
1 cucumber, sliced in desired shaped
3 tablespoons soy sauce, low sodium!
1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil, depends on taste
1/2 teaspoon sesame seeds
1. Mix together soy, vinegar, and sesame oil.
2. Pour over cucumbers, toss to coat.
3. Sprinkle sesame seeds over dish, refrigerate before serving.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Kitchen Explosion!

Also known as why there is an immersion blender on my registry. 
 I know you need to use more pressure when blending hot liquids and I thought I was using enough force...but obviously I was not. The result: one very burnt arm and one super messy kitchen. I thought about sitting on the floor in a state of semi-undress, as my clothes were covered too, and sniffling until Mr. Lawyer came home but I thought better of leaving tomato sauce on my white cupboards/walls. Luckily my Eagle Scout Lawyer came home to rescue me and put his first aid skills to use. Evidently fetching me ice cream from downstairs is in the handbook. Who knew?
Dinner was good though! I'll post the recipes tomorrow. After this disaster I'm taking the night off!

Monday, December 3, 2012

November Roundup!

November is a long month but I have no idea where it went! I know it started with me all gussied up for a fancy date to a jazz club. Clearly someone needs to work on their camera skills.
 Speaking of fancy...I like my gin and tonics in a fiesta tea cup because I am super classy.
In the middle of November we had Little Thanksgiving. These are our leftovers. Between the two Thanksgiving meals and leftovers I had a minimal grocery shopping budget which means more Christmas presents for the boy!
 Carbo-loading with the most heavenly post-Little Thanksgiving meal a girl could imagine: corn pudding, mashed potatoes with gravy and rolls. I want this right now.
 I started to decorate for Christmas a little bit early (read: a week before Thanksgiving) so our bar had a little bit of an identity crisis. I really need to take those Halloween bats down.
 We both had a rough day at work so one night dinner was nachos and beer.

Desperate Pasta

I don't know what to call this dish....other than I really need to go grocery shopping. I was totally winging it, I did have a vague idea in my head from some recipes I had seen online but nothing solid. I tossed some spaghetti with a little olive oil and added this spicy garlicky cheesy breadcrumb mixture. Not bad. I had the leftovers for lunch and it definitely grew on me. It's a tad on the drier side but not really because of the olive oil. It's a weird sensation. It was a nice change up from sauce, especially when you don't have any in the house! It was totally slumming it though.
Spicy Garlicky Cheesy Breadcrumb Pasta
AKA: Someone needs to grocery shop.
1/2 box spaghetti
A spot of olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
2 or more garlic cloves
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or to taste)
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1. Make pasta according to directions, drain water and then mix with a spot of olive oil.
2. While pasta is cooking melt butter in a saucepan. Saute garlic and red pepper for a couple of minutes.
3. Add bread crumbs and cheese to garlic butter mixture. Mix well.
4. Combine pasta and breadcrumb mixture, toss well to coat.