Tuesday, April 30, 2013

My new baby is here!

My coveted retro steel-belted Coleman cooler fresh from the 'bean store in Maine.
In love.
My dad has had one of these FOREVER. I can remember it from when I was very little so he's had it at least 20-25 years, same color and everything....and by everything I mean constantly filled with beer in our backyard. The boy and I only had a day cooler that holds two bottles of water and a pack of hot dogs. This resulted in only eating hot dogs and trail mix on our trips. Now I can eat my weight in trail mix but I felt that a new cooler was in order. I saw this cooler and was in love. I think it's part of my whole "trying to recreate my childhood" crisis. Our first camping trip of 2013 is in two weekends, I can't wait to break this fabulous beast in!

Sidenote: I might end up using it as a coffee table because I'm not quite sure where in the apartment it's going to be stored....

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Yum Yum!

Cheddar BBQ Burger with Jalapenos and Green Onions.
Made with Dinosaur Wango-Tango?

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Tuna Burgers

I hesitate to call these "thai" tuna burgers because the thai flavors (chili and fish sauces) were not that pronounced. The flavor was mostly tuna and onions. It was pretty good. The burgers themselves are a little on the dry side but once you add the ginger-mayo and the peppers it's fine. The peppers do add a nice spot of flavor. The burgers are a bit delicate so they can only be baked. I can see them falling apart on the grill or in a grill pan. It was a very summer inspired dish.
Thai Tuna Burgers
(from Better Homes and Gardens)
1/3 cup mayonnaise with olive oil
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup panko (Japanese-style bread crumbs)
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 teaspoon Asian chili sauce (Sriracha sauce)
2 cans (5 ounces) albacore tuna or solid white albacore tuna in water
1/4 cup very thinly sliced celery
1/4 cup chopped green onions
salt and pepper to taste.
small ciabatta buns, halved and toasted
1/3 cup pea shoots or micro greens
2 miniature sweet peppers, thinly sliced
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In a small bowl combine mayonnaise and ginger; transfer 2 Tbsp. to a large bowl. Cover remaining mayonnaise mixture and chill. To the same large bowl add eggs, panko, fish sauce, and Asian chili sauce. Flake tuna and add to bowl. Add celery and green onion and stir. Salt and pepper to taste. Let stand 10 minutes. With wet hands, shake tuna mixture into four 3/4-inch-thick patties.
2. Place tuna patties on a greased baking sheet. Bake 10 minutes or until done.
3. To serve, spread ciabatta halves with remaining mayonnaise mixture. Add a tuna patty to bottom half of each bun, bottom side up. Top with pea shoots or micro-greens, thinly sliced peppers, and top buns. 

Tortellini Bake

This stick-to-your-rib casserole is quite yummy. I felt better that it included spinach and mushrooms so I could at least pretend to be a little healthy. It's a very nice basic recipe that would be a crowd pleaser at any party. I halved the recipe and omitted the second batch of butter. It came out just fine.
Cheesy Spinach and Mushroom Tortellini Bake
(from a Taste of Home)
2 packages (10 ounces each) frozen cheese tortellini
1 pound sliced fresh mushrooms
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup butter, divided (I omitted this butter and it was fine)
1 can (12 ounces) evaporated milk
1 block (8 ounces) brick or cheddar cheese, shredded
2 packages (10 ounces each) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
1. Cook tortellini according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, saute the mushrooms, garlic powder, onion powder and pepper in 1/4 cup butter until mushrooms are tender. Remove and keep warm.
2. In the same skillet, combine milk and remaining butter. Bring to a gentle boil; stir in brick cheese. Cook and stir until smooth. Drain tortellini; place in a large bowl. Stir in the mushroom mixture and spinach. Add cheese sauce and toss to coat.
3. Transfer to a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish; sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Cover and bake at 350° for 15 minutes. Uncover; bake 5-10 minutes longer or until heated through and cheese is melted.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Cookies & Milk

A little juniper and vintage chartreuse cookies and milk action to celebrate the "jeezy creezy I just ordered our wedding invitations!!" excited freak out.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Amazing Spicy Sausage Noodles

Let's rate this recipe: Mr. Lawyer had three servings and is planning on having it for breakfast. WINNER. It was simply and pretty quick. I liked that the sauce was light and not overpowering. Even though the sauce was just a slight coating the flavor was banging! The spicy sausage flavor permeates the sauce and the freshness of the peppers was so summery. I used all red peppers instead of red, orange, and yellow because that's what was on sale and it didn't take away from anything. There was a real depth to the flavor. I think it was the spicy sausage flavor and the wine. Delicious! 
Spicy Sausage & Pepper Noodles in Tomato-Wine Sauce
(Pinterest find! Adapted from thecozyapron.com)
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 spicy Italian sausage links, casings removed and crumbled
1 large onion, quartered and sliced thinly
1 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
½ teaspoon cracked black pepper
3 peppers (red, yellow, orange), cored and thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, finely minced
½ cup dry white wine
1 can diced tomatoes with juice
1 box rigatoni noodles
1. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan, brown the sausage. Remove the sausage with a slotted spoon and set aside.
2. Saute the onions in sausage drippings, about 5 minutes.
3. Add the salt, pepper, and italian seasoning.  Then add in the sliced peppers, saute until tender (3 minutes). Add the garlic and saute for 2 minutes.
4. Add the wine and simmer until it's over half reduced. Add the can of undrained diced tomatoes and then return the sausage to the mix. Simmer for 5 to 10 minutes.
5. Cook noodles according to directions on box. Place the noodles in a large bowl and top with the sausage sauce, toss gently.
6. Serve with fresh basil, parsley, or parmesan. 

Monday Blues

Last week the fiesta itch started again. I needed a new color or even just a new piece. I wasn't going to make it to my bridal shower. So I scored some cheap ebay finds. The first beauty to arrive was my sapphire tea cup! It's the perfect little pick me up for the Monday blues. Sapphire is considered a rare color because it was a special color made just for Bloomingdale's in 1996/97 and fired for only 180 days. This means the prices are outrageous! I only dreamed of sapphire until I spotted this little teacup for a steal. It's such a gorgeous bright blue, similar to vintage cobalt but even brighter.
Here it is on top of my peacock mug.
My Post 1986 Blues
Peacock, Turquoise, Periwinkle, Sapphire, Cobalt
Up close!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Wedding Worries

I counted the wedding guest list. It's BIG. *cue mini freak out* So I hit up the bar and reorganized my dishes.

Spicy Slaw!

Mr. Lawyer requested coleslaw to go with our bbq ribs. Not only is bbq and coleslaw a match made in heaven but he hoped to control the amount of dressing in the dish to make it a tad more healthy. While this recipe is still just a ton of mayo we were able to make our coleslaw a bit on the dry side, hopefully this decreased the calories just a tad.
This recipe was spicy! It was different than regular coleslaw and it really grew on me. If you're not a fan of spice you can add less dry mustard. You could shred your own veggies but I picked up a bag of pre-shredded broccoli slaw because I didn't want to fight with my mandoline (we have a love-hate relationship). I'm off to eat the rest of the spicy coleslaw!
Spicy Coleslaw!
(adapted from Bobby Flay)
1 bag of pre-shredded coleslaw 
3/4 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons sugar, or to taste
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1 tablespoon dry mustard (or less depending on your tastes)
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1. Whisk together the mayonnaise, sugar, vinegar, mustard, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl, and then add to the cabbage mixture. 
2. Mix well to combine and taste for seasoning; add more salt, pepper, or sugar if desired.

Yummy Dino Ribs!

Yummm....to die for rib sandwich. Love it. The other month I picked up a bunch of country-style (boneless) ribs for super cheap, almost two pounds for 3 bucks! I decided that the crockpot was the best bet and I don't regret it  at all. I used Dinosaur Roasted Garlic Honey BBQ Sauce, nothing like a taste of home! I pulled the ribs from the crockpot and did a rough shred, more of a chunking actually, before piling it on an Amoroso's roll and drizzling more sauce over it. I topped it all off with some homemade coleslaw that was requested by Mr. Lawyer. It was a hit. The cool crunch of the coleslaw was amazing with the hot pork. I just had a leftover sandwich and it was still amazing. I want more!
Crockpot Barbecue Pork Ribs
(adapted from Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker)
2 pounds country-style pork ribs
1 small yellow onion, sliced
1 cup favorite bbq sauce
1. Layer the ribs, onions, and sauce in the crockpot.
2. Cook on low for 7 to 9 hours.
3. Remove and shred if desired, drizzle with more sauce.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Giant Stuffed Mushrooms!

Mushrooms are delicious and amazing. But when I said I was making a vegetarian stuff mushroom, I got a look from the boy. Luckily I had one spicy chicken sausage left in the freezer so I was able to augment this dish with some meat and it was a hit. I do think the spicy sausage added a lot to the dish. The tangy earthiness of the goat cheese went perfectly with the rich earthiness of the portobello. I imagine these would be ten times better if they were cooked outside on a grill.
Sausage, Tomato, and Goat Cheese Stuffed Portobellos
(Pinterest find! adapted from a food centric life)
4 large Portobello mushrooms, cleaned and de-gilled
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoon finely chopped shallot or onion
1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste
4 ounces of plain goat cheese
1/2 cup roasted tomatoes
1/3 cup sauteed sausage
1. Preheat the broiler. Mix together olive oil, lemon juice, and shallot. Coat the mushrooms in olive oil mixture, salt and pepper to taste, and broil them for 5 minutes.
2. Layer the sausage and tomatoes into the mushroom,. Top with blobs of goat cheese.
3. Bake for 12 minutes or until hot at 375.
For the tomatoes I used grape tomatoes cut in half, lightly coated with olive oil, tossed with 2 cloves minced garlic and a pinch of thyme. They were roasted at 375 for 25 minutes and they were delicious. Especially with a little balsamic drizzled over them.

More Roasted Beans!

I really wanted to have some roasted chickpeas the other night but I was all out (there haven't been any good sales). So I tried roasted some cannellini beans....mixed results. Mr. Lawyer inhaled them while I was less than impressed. First off they burst open like popcorn which results in very crispy pieces and very soft pieces. Personally I like the pop of the chickpeas when you munch on them. My seasoning was also off. I used garlic powder and rosemary. The hints of rosemary was good but you couldn't taste the garlic at all! I thought I was heavy handed it with so I was a bit disappointed. 
If I had to rank all the beans I've roasted my favorite would be:
3. Roasted Cannellini Beans
Roasted Cannellini Beans
I followed my roasted chickpea recipe: coat the beans in olive oil and season with desired herbs/spices. Roasted at 400 for 20 minutes or until crisp.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Saffron & Scallop Splurge

We had an adventure at the aquarium today so it made sense to have some seafood tonight. This recipe had caught my eye. It seemed like a very luxurious, splurge-type recipe due to the cost of ingredients and all that butter and cream! Luckily Mr. Lawyer gifted me some saffron for Christmas. I had been looking for an excuse to use it and today just happened to be a special anniversary, our five year frisbee date! So bring on the saffron and calories!
The saffron had an interesting earthy taste to it. The scallops were delicious but I feel that scallops are always delicious no matter how you cook them. I love ordering them when we're out. No complaints with this recipe!
Scallops in Saffron Cream Sauce
(Pinterest find! from bell'alimento)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
12 large sea scallops, patted dry
1 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
pinch of saffron threads
1. Melt 2 tablespoons butter and olive oil in a nonstick pan. Add scallops. Season tops with salt and sear well on both sides. Careful to turn only once. Remove scallops from pan and keep warm.
2. Add wine to hot pan and de-glaze pan. Reduce temperature to medium - low and allow wine to reduce by half. Add cream, remaining butter and allow to combine. Once butter has combined, add saffron threads. Stir well to combine.
3. Return scallops to pan. Turn to coat. Serve immediately.
So fancy!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Sad Gin

"If you were stranded on a desert island and could only bring one thing with you, what would it be?"
Probably not the answer my principal was looking for at our staff team builder....but at least Ms. J and I got a kick out of it. Speaking of gin, I have had this bottle for a bit now and not done a review. Probably because....I don't like it. Say what?! I can't exactly put my finger on it. I think maybe it's too floral? Or lavender-y. It was disappointing because it received rave reviews. It was one of four gins to get a spot on the Top 50 Spirits of 2012. I've tried it straight, with tonic, and in mixed drinks but somehow the cloying flavor still gets me. I'm so sad. I've never met a gin I actively disliked.
So sad.

So Many Salads!

I have been unintentionally vegetarian since Sunday! And Saturday I only had seafood. All the recipes that I've been wanting to try have just been vegetarian, nothing intentional. Yesterday I was considering demanding to go out for a burger but today no insane protein cravings. I'm sure this streak will end with all of our planned socializing this weekend.
My super colorful plate!
Tonight was lentil salad and a side salad.....so many healthy salads! While the lentil salad was edible and a great way to use up some fresh cilantro and basil it didn't wow me. I still would like to play around with healthy sides but I might try a different recipe. 

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Grilled Eggplant Parm

Mr. Lawyer's mom makes a banging eggplant parm that he is absolutely in love with. Obviously I would never attempt making it because it will result in horrible comparisons (from Mr. Lawyer) and tears (um, from me). I saw this lightened up eggplant parm recipe and thought "well...I could probably pull it off because it's a completely different recipe." Plus I've been craving all sorts of fresh veggies and this recipe fit the bill. 
Man oh man was it a hit! The only thing left is the bits of burnt cheese stuck to the pan. I followed the recipe and used a grill pan but I imagine that using a real grill would add some amazing flavor. It was a great summery dish. I loved the pop and freshness of the tomatoes, the gooeyness of the cheese, and the slight spice from the red pepper-basil mixture.
Grilled Eggplant Parm
(adapted from Food & Wine Magazine)
1 large eggplant (1 1/2 pounds), sliced crosswise 1/4 inch thick
4 large plum tomatoes, sliced crosswise 1/4 inch thick
3 tablespoons olive oil plus more for brushing
1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
1/4 cup finely shredded basil, plus whole leaves for garnish
6 ounces Fontina cheese, thinly sliced (I used mozzarella)
1/3 cup parmesan cheese
1. Salt your eggplant! It will make your eggplant less bitter. Sprinkle salt over eggplant slices and let sit for 20-30 minutes. Rinse with cold water and pat dry. While your eggplant is being salted, combine the 3 tablespoons of olive oil and red pepper flakes.
2. Preheat the oven to 450° and heat a grill pan. Brush the eggplant and tomato slices with olive oil and season lightly with salt. Grill the eggplant in batches over moderately high heat, turning once, until softened and lightly charred, about 4 minutes. Grill the tomatoes, turning once, until lightly charred but still intact, about 2 minutes.
3. Add the shredded basil to the red pepper-olive oil mixture. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. In the center, arrange half of the eggplant in a 9-inch square, overlapping the slices slightly. Top with half of the grilled tomatoes, basil mixture, parmesan and fontina/mozzarella. Repeat with the remaining ingredients, ending with the cheese.
4. Bake in the center of the oven for about 10-15 minutes, until bubbling and golden. Let stand for 10 minutes. Garnish with basil leaves and serve with crusty bread.
All layered up and ready to go!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Noodle Substitution

I had some rice noodles that I was dying to get out of the cupboard and a cold noodle dish seemed a welcome addition to this ridiculous heat. I have really felt like I'm from the "North Country" this week. I've only been sitting in sun reading and I've been drenched with sweat, completely melting away. It's only April....this does not bode well for the summer. I'm doomed. Also, reason #1 why I want a fall wedding.
Anywho, this dish was pretty good but I'd lighten up the on chili oil. I used two teaspoons and it was very hot. Now I like spicy things but it was a bit distracting. I'm sure the dish is wonderful if you use the required soba noodles but rice noodles were a satisfactory stand it. Make sure you chop the ginger up very well. I would even suggest grating it. I got a big chunk and was like WHOA! and I like ginger. The original recipe topped the dish with toasted sesame seeds which I forgot. 
Rice Noodles with Sweet Ginger Scallion Sauce
(Pinterest! Adapted from simplyreem)
9oz of soba noodles (I used pad thai rice noodles)
1 cup scallions, finely chopped
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
2 tablespoons ginger, minced (I would grate it)
2 tablespoons peanut oil
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1-2 teaspoons chili oil (I would stick to one, it was so spicy!)
1. Cook noodles according to package.
2. Mix all sauce ingredients (scallions through chili oil), allow sauce to set for 10 minutes.
3. Toss noodles with sauce, coat well. Enjoy hot or cold.

Monday, April 8, 2013

French Inspired Breakfast

The 'rents stopped in Philly on their journey back to NY. Since they wanted to get an early start in the morning I settled on a French-inspired serve yourself breakfast. It was a hit and I got to show off some of my fun fiesta.
Croissants, scones, and yogurt...oh my!
Oh yeah, and some fruit.
Herbed cheese, butter and honey, strawberry jam, and pumpkin butter.
And the colorful coffee mugs make an appearance!
I love my kitchen rainbow.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Baby Cake!

Eeeeek! So exciting! My friend asked me to do a "gender reveal cake" for their second baby. The doctor seals the information and ultrasound in an envelope so even the parents don't know. I received the envelope, dyed the cake either pink/purple or blue, and covered it up with chocolate frosting to prevent peeking. Then the parents had a little cake cutting party with their family and then gender of baby #2 is revealed!
Which one will it be?!
It's a boy!!
The batter was so pretty!
Notes and observations: the crumbs! I made the cake at my friend's house and was so worried about blue crumbs or batter hiding some where and giving it away. A couple of times crumbs got in the frosting and I was all "noooooooooo!!". I also resisted licking the batter because I didn't want to stain my lips or teeth, it was so hard. Also the outside of the cake turned a hideous green-brown-yellow color and I was worried. When I cut the top off the cake to layer them I could see that the inside was perfectly blue but it was still a stressful moment when I took the ugly looking cake out of the oven.

Congratulations! I was so excited to be part of this baby announcement!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Happy Easter!

One of my favorite things about Easter? Mr. Lawyer's once a year split-pea soup! I actually think that the fiesta makes it look more appetizing...it's really hard to make pea soup look not gross. I might have spent ten minutes trying to figure out which color would be the most attractive. This is one of the dishes that Mr. Lawyer made in law school that won me over. It's delicious. He tried making it with a pork chop once and it wasn't the same. So every year we wait for the Easter ham bone and then we indulge in this amazing soup!
Winter Split Pea Soup
(by Mr. Lawyer, from Not Your Mother's Slow Cooker Recipes for Two)
1 2/3 cups green split peas
5 cups chicken broth
1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
1 medium sized carrot, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 leftover bone from a small ham
1/2 cup frozen petit green peas, thawed
Salt to taste
1. Place split peas in the slow cooker; add the broth, onion, carrot, and celery. Stir to combine. Nestle the ham bone in the center of the crock. Cover and cook on LOW for 7.5 to 9.5 hours, until the split peas are completely tender.
2. Remove the bone and shred the meat off it. Stir the soup well for a chunky soup or puree in a blender for a smooth soup. Add the petit peas and shredded ham and cook for another 30 minutes. Season to taste with salt.