Sunday, December 15, 2013

Hearty Sauce for a Chilly Week!

I've been very spoiled with some delicious garlic from the Mother Unit's garden. I'm already halfway through my stash! The rosemary is also from her garden and I grew the cayenne peppers in Syracuse. At this point the peppers are just decoration as they're a couple years old now.
 This week I sauteed up some garlic, onion, and a green pepper with some ground turkey and emptied out a couple cans of spaghetti sauce to make a very delicious meat sauce. It's been nice to have a huge pot of sauce in the fridge so I don't have to think about dinner. I whipped up the garlic-chive butter with the last of my fresh chive (I'm attempting to winter the plant) and it made very good garlic bread.
It's been perfect for this chilly weather!
I also made a batch of my Hootycreek cookies this weekend. They make an excellent breakfast when paired with a giant cup of coffee.

Baked Gnocchi

I could not get a pretty picture of this dish....not in the baking dish, not in the bowl, and not an action shot. I was also really hungry and impatient. The baked gnocchi was perfect for my snow day, it was warm and filling. It was like a nice warm hug for my tummy. The smoked paprika was a little strong so I decreased the amount to 1/2 teaspoon. This dish was definitely better the next day after the flavors had more time to mix together and mellow out.
But seriously, how are you suppose to photograph gnocchi? You can also see my carpet and a piece of garlic bread that I threw on a coaster. I'm just keeping it classy these days.
Baked Gnocchi
(Pinterest find!)
1 package fresh store-bought gnocchi
3 strips of bacon, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 of onion, chopped
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 can (15 oz) tomatoes, crushed
1 tablespoon tomato paste
Shredded mozzarella, enough to top
1. Fry bacon until crisp, pour off the fat. Saute the garlic and onion for 30 seconds and then add the tomatoes and smoked paprika.
2. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and cook gnocchi according to directions. Drain and add to the tomato sauce pan, mix well.
3. Transfer the sauced gnocchi to an oven safe container and top with mozzarella. Bake for 20-30 minutes at 400 degrees until the cheese is melted and golden. Let sit for 5 minutes before serving.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Snow Day Pie

Nothing like getting cozy with a cup of coffee on a snow day.
 A Fiesta Rainbow will inspire you to empty the dishwasher.
 A snow day pie!
 I used my Grandma Nancy's apple pie recipe and did a lattice crust top.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Spiked Hot Chocolate Snow Day

This hot chocolate recipe was a delicious change up from the traditional Bailey's or Kahula spiking. The orange and cinnamon made it taste like one of those chocolate oranges. It was just what we needed for our little snowy adventure!
 The secret is to start with a good base. You could use water and a powder mix but I brought out the big guns for our first major snow of the season: milk and chocolate shavings.
Hot Chocolate with Orange Liqueur and Cinnamon
(Pinterest find!)
1 cup milk
5 tablespoons chocolate shavings
1 cinnamon stick
2 tablespoons orange liqueur
Cinnamon for sprinkling
Whipped cream
1. In a small pot bring the milk and cinnamon stick to a simmer.
2. Whisk in the chocolate shavings.
3. Remove from heat and whisk in orange liqueur.
4. Top with whipped cream and a generous shake of cinnamon.
5. Go play in the snow!

Time to cross off some Winter Bucket List items!
The park was empty and snow-quiet. Only our footprints decorated the pathways.
 I couldn't resist the 1st snow angel of the season!
 These nifty little seed pods looked like snow covered ornaments.
 Back in the apartment, keep the snow coming!
My fingers are crossed for a snow day.

A Christmas Cheer Update!

I've received my 1st Christmas card (from my Great Aunt Ruthie!) and I can hear the snowplow outside...a magical sound that makes me feel like an unreasonably excited child. Ah, childhood memories!
 New His & Her S'more ornaments from the Mother Unit
Getting my childhood count down calendar ready!
We alternate picking the ornaments everyday.
My Grandma's family heirloom tree has found a safe spot on the kitchen table.
 My pumpkin is still in good shape so I decorated it for the new holiday season!
It might be having an identity crisis.

Leftover Turkey Chili

Our lovely $10 turkey has been feeding us all week. Sadly we ran out of yummy sides so I decided to use the leftover meat to make a chili. I based the recipe off my Crockpot Chicken Taco Chili and used my homemade seasoning. It was a hit! It was nice and chunky which is what Mr. Lawyer likes. It was a great way to use up the turkey meat that had been sitting in the fridge a few days and was getting a little on the dry side. I currently have the turkey carcass simmering away on the stove making some broth which is perfect for a nice snowy day!
Leftover Turkey Chili
(from my kitchen!)
1 red onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 can black beans
1 can kidney beans 
1 can chili beans
1 can tomato sauce
10 oz package frozen corn kernels
1 large can diced tomatoes
1 packet taco seasoning (I used two tablespoons homemade seasoning)
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 cups chopped or shredded turkey (or about 1 turkey breast)
1. In a large pot saute the onion and pepper in a tablespoon or two of olive oil until soft.
2. Add in the seasoning, all the beans, corn, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, and turkey. Stir well. Let simmer until hot. 
3. Top with yummy things like cheddar cheese, sour cream, or green onions! Serve with cornbread.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Savory Brussels Sprouts!

Mr. Lawyer has been on a big brussels sprouts kick so for our impromptu Thanksgiving I surprised him with a batch. This maybe our favorite roasted brussels sprouts recipe to date! Now I do have  a soft spot for the sweet maple roasted ones but Mr. Lawyer prefers the savory ones. This recipe might have won me over to the savory side. I think the smoked paprika adds an interesting flavor that we couldn't get enough of.
Delicious Roasted Brussels Sprouts
(adapted from Alton Brown)
1 pound Brussels sprouts
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1. Cut off the stem end of the Brussels sprouts and remove any yellowing outer leaves. Cut in half if desired or leave whole.
2. Mix the olive oil, garlic, mustard, paprika and salt. Toss with the brussels sprouts.
3. Preheat oven to 400 and cook 15 to 30 minutes depending on the size. 

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Thanksgiving, Part 4?!

I picked up a $30 turkey for 10 bucks this past weekend....because we hadn't had enough turkey with our three Thanksgivings. We had talked about brining a turkey but because we always go to our families for Thanksgiving dinner we never had the opportunity. This was our opportunity. A fifteen pound turkey all to ourselves, leftover galore, I wouldn't have to cook all week! So far it has worked our marvelously.

The turkey and all the fixings!
Gravy, Brussels Sprouts, Cranberry Sauce (from a can!), Brioche Rolls from Reading Terminal served up with a Garlic-Chive Butter, and Lillian's Secret Mashed Potatoes!
 We went with the Alton Brown recipe because he is Mr. Lawyer's food guru. It was a little tricky to brine the turkey in our apartment but we squeezed the turkey into my largest stock pot and rearranged the fridge to make it happen. The roasting went smoothly. We might have found our go to recipe for whenever we host a holiday in the far future!
I love that you can see the Christmas Tree in this picture.
 Now it's time to find some fun recipes for all the leftovers. Turkey soup? Chili? Salad? Plus making stock from the bones! I cannot wait.
Brined & Roasted Turkey
(From Good Eats by Alton Brown)
1 (14 to 16 pound) frozen young turkey
For the brine:
1 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 gallon vegetable stock
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
1 1/2 teaspoons allspice berries
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped candied ginger
1 gallon heavily iced water
For the aromatics:
1 red apple, sliced
1/2 onion, sliced
1 cinnamon stick
1 cup water
4 sprigs rosemary
6 leaves sage
Canola oil
1. 2 to 3 days before roasting: Begin thawing the turkey in the refrigerator or in a cooler kept at 38 degrees F. 
2. Combine the vegetable stock, salt, brown sugar, peppercorns, allspice berries, and candied ginger in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Stir occasionally to dissolve solids and bring to a boil. Then remove the brine from the heat, cool to room temperature, and refrigerate.
3. Early on the day or the night before you'd like to eat: Combine the brine, water and ice in the 5-gallon bucket. Place the thawed turkey (with innards removed) breast side down in brine. If necessary, weigh down the bird to ensure it is fully immersed, cover, and refrigerate or set in cool area for 8 to 16 hours, turning the bird once half way through brining.
4. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. Remove the bird from brine and rinse inside and out with cold water. Discard the brine. Place the bird on roasting rack inside a half sheet pan and pat dry with paper towels.
5. Combine the apple, onion, cinnamon stick, and 1 cup of water in a microwave safe dish and microwave on high for 5 minutes. Add steeped aromatics to the turkey's cavity along with the rosemary and sage. Tuck the wings underneath the bird and coat the skin liberally with canola oil.
6. Roast the turkey on lowest level of the oven at 500 degrees F for 30 minutes. Insert a probe thermometer into thickest part of the breast and reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Set the thermometer alarm (if available) to 161 degrees F. A 14 to 16 pound bird should require a total of 2 to 2 1/2 hours of roasting. Let the turkey rest, loosely covered with foil or a large mixing bowl for 15 minutes before carving.

We kept all of the dishes Alton Brown inspired and went with gravy recipe as well. I didn't follow the proportions of this recipe exactly and used sherry instead of wine but it came out wonderfully!
Best Gravy Ever
(from Alton Brown)
1 Good Eats Roast Turkey, recipe above
24 ounces reduced sodium chicken broth
8 ounces red wine (I subbed in sherry)
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon fresh herbs such as oregano, thyme or rosemary
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1. Remove the turkey from the roasting pan and set aside to rest. Leave the drippings from the turkey in the pan and place the roasting pan over medium heat. Add the broth and wine at the same time. Whisk to combine, scraping the bottom of the pan until all of the bits have come loose. Cook for another 2 to 3 minutes in order to reduce the mixture slightly. 
2. Transfer the liquid to a fat separator and let sit for 5 minutes to allow fat to separate. Return 2/3 to 3/4 cup of the fat to the roasting pan and place over medium-high heat. Discard any remaining fat. 
3. bAdd the flour and whisk to combine. Cook, whisking continuously, until the mixture starts to thicken and become smooth, approximately 2 to 3 minutes. Once this happens, gradually add the liquid back to the pan and whisk until smooth and you have reached your desired consistency, approximately 5 to 6 minutes. Remember, your gravy should be slightly thin in the pan as it will thicken once you serve it. Add the herbs and whisk to combine. Season with salt and pepper.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Cast Iron Love

I'm not sure how I survived without a cast iron skillet for so long.
This dish doesn't look pretty but it was hearty and delicious. It made amazing leftovers too! The mushroom, onion, and garlic smelled divine when it was cooking up. This dish definitely took care of my mushroom craving.
Skillet Steak & Mushrooms with Gorgonzola Pasta
(Pinterest find! Adapted from
1/2 pound steak, sliced into thin strips
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon fresh pepper
1/4 teaspoon minces rosemary
4 tablespoons butter, divided in half
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 onion, sliced
10 ounces mushrooms (white or baby bella)
1 cup white ale
1/4 cup half & half
Gorgonzola cheese crumbles
Pasta, cooked al dente and drained
1. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a cast iron skillet until hot. Add steak and cook until just browned, removed from pan.
2. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons butter, mushrooms, onion and garlic. Cook until the mushrooms get slightly soft, about 5 minutes.
3. Add the white ale. Simmer until the liquid is reduced, about ten minutes.
4. Turn off heat, stir in the half & half. Return the steak to the skillet and season with salt, pepper, and rosemary. Simmer until slightly thickened and heated through, about 5 to 8 minutes.
5. Serve over pasta and sprinkle with gorgonzola!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Gorgonzola Breakfast

I have a ton of gorgonzola left over from the Corn & Cheese Chowder. Ever try a little gorgonzola sprinkled on your scrambled eggs? Delicious! Especially when accompanied by maple sausage and sourdough toast.
A wonderful way to spend a Sunday morning!
We followed it up with a trip to the Christmas Village for our annual hot seasonal beverage date!
 We always get some "Crack Nuts" aka candied nuts too. 
And then Mr. Lawyer went to the Eagle's game and had some amazingly close seats. A busy and wonderful Sunday.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

It's Christmas Time!

Time to Christmas this place up!
 Our 1st Christmas living together Mr. Lawyer and I got these ornaments from the Christmas Village. I love pretzels and he loves pickles! Last year we couldn't find any ornaments that we liked that represented us.
 This year our ornaments represent our worst nightmares! I found this cute fox and Mrs. T gave me the evil raccoon.
 As always Glenn is our tree topper.
 I'm so excited about all my fun wrapping paper. I chose fox wrapping paper for Mr. Lawyer so he doesn't peek at his presents!
 The bar is all gussied up.
 The place must smell like delicious Christmas trees!
 Holiday scented soap and lotion is ready to deploy!

Corn & Cheese Chowder

A good pot and wooden spoon (made by my little brother!) always result in some amazing kitchen inspiration.
This Corn & Cheese Chowder is amazing. It's very flavorful and delicious. Topping it with bacon and gorgonzola adds depth, richness, and a hint of saltiness. I combined it with a Roast Poblano & Cheddar grilled cheese on sourdough. In my mind I thought roasted peppers and corn are always paired together. Dipping the grilled cheese into the chowder brought it to a whole other level. I'll be adding this to the soup rotation but maybe only for special occasions as it is very rich and not so healthy.
 It was also an excellent reason to use my soup and sandwich plates!
Corn & Cheese Chowder
(Pinterest find! from
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 onion, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked pepper
4 tablespoon flour
3 cups chicken stock
4 cups frozen sweet corn
4 ounces sharp aged cheddar cheese, grated
1 cup half and half
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
4 slices cooked bacon, crumbled
2 ounces gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
1. Heat a large pot over medium-low heat and add the olive oil and butter. Once melted, add in the onions, garlic, salt and pepper, stirring to coat. Cook for 5 to 6 minutes until the onions softened. 
2. Increase the heat to medium and add in the flour, whisking constantly for 1 to 2 minutes until it is evenly dispersed to create a roux. Cook the roux until it is fragrant and begins to turn golden in color.
3. Pour in the chicken stock, whisking constantly. Add in the corn. Increase the heat to medium-high and stir until the liquid thickens a bit. Bring the soup to a boil and cover, then reduce it to a simmer and let it cook for 10 minutes. 
4. Remove the lid and stir in the half and half and the cheddar. Stir continuously until the cheese melts. Add in the nutmeg and taste the soup. Season it additionally with salt and pepper if desired.
5. Serve immediately with crumbled bacon and gorgonzola on top.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Tomato-Barley Soup

I am in love with the sight of this Le Creuset pot on my stove.
 I wanted to make tomato soup and grilled cheese last night (with my homemade chicken stock!) but I didn't have enough cheese for the sandwiches (the horror!). To make the soup more filling I decided to add in barley instead of orzo (because I also didn't have orzo). It was delicious and satisfying. The homemade chicken stock makes a big difference. Just what we needed for a chilly and thrilling Friday evening at home!
Tomato-Barley Soup 
(Adapted from my Tomato-Orzo Soup)
3 tablespoons good olive oil
3 cups yellow onions, chopped (2 onions)
1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)
4 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
1 (28-ounce) can crushed or diced tomatoes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup barley
1. In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and cook over medium-low heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden brown. Add the garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Stir in the chicken stock, tomatoes, salt (to taste) and 1 teaspoon pepper. Bring the soup to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
2. Use an immersion blender to blend soup to the desired consistency. For a chunkier soup skip this step.
3. Add the barley to the soup and simmer until barley is cooked, about 45 minutes. 
4. Top with parmesan cheese or grilled cheese croutons!

Thursday, November 21, 2013


We have a Woodland Winter Wonderland theme going on here.
Pretty Paper. Check.
Cute Christmas Cards. Check.
Holiday Candles. Check.
Winter Scented Lotions. Check.
All of Mr. Lawyer's presents. Check.

Someone is about to have a wrapping party.

Soup & Salad

It's been a soup and salad type of week.
Mr. Lawyer makes the best Minestrone.
Mr. Lawyer's Minestrone
(this is his base recipe, he's always throwing in whatever is in the fridge!)
3 tablespoons Better Than Bouillon Vegetable Base (He swears by it!)
2 (28 ounce) cans diced tomatoes
2 cups water
1 (15 ounce) can kidney beans
1 diced onion
1 (16 ounce) package of frozen veggies (he gets one with carrots, peas, green beans, and lima beans)
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dry basil
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 cup uncooked pasta (we like ditalini) **see note**
1. Throw everything except the pasta in a pot and bring to a boil.
2. Add pasta and simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes.

**Note: we like to cook the pasta separate and add what we need to our individual bowls. If you have leftovers and it's all mixed together the pasta soaks up all the broth! Better to keep them separate.**

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Bucket List Update!

We're checking things off our bucket list left and right! There are only 5 things left on our main list. I have plans to check off three of them this week. 
The corn maze will not be happening unless you count the corn maze ride we went on with our favorite munchkins. Every year for the last four years we have completed the corn maze with the Prep Crew. This year we spent so much time doing the other activities we were exhausted (and dehydrated! It got super hot for a fall day) by the time we got to the maze and decided to skip it. Sad story. So does the corn maze ride count? Mr. Lawyer also announced his displeasure with how that one was worded anyway: "We never get LOST in the maze. Psh."
We got married! This was the best and most fun thing to check off the list! It was amazing and I want to go back and relive that day so much. Everything was perfect.
Thanks to Ms. Sandy-Boo and her parents we were able to check bonfire (complete with fireworks!) off the bonus list. Nothing like a bonfire with a keg of Ommegang the night before your wedding!
A fall flavored (pumpkin spice and salted caramel!) coffee date in the park on a chilly fall morning. 
Crunching leaves is like crack for the soul.
 Peeping on some leaves!
 A hayride that resulted in apple picking and a pumpkin patch.
A double whammy of delicious apple heaven!
I got my bake on the past two months with some Apple and Pumpkin Pies.
 We've been having a ton of fun with the Fall Bucket list that I've started outlining a Winter Bucket List! Most of the things on it are holiday related so I might have to come up with a mid-winter list to get us out of the house...maybe with some museum and restaurants on it.
We're also chipping away at the Top 50 Philly Bars with our friends. It's a good way to be social and have some delicious beer!