Wednesday, December 9, 2009

It's a winter wonderland!

We had 6 inches of snow this morning. I took a snow day- I'm not sure if I'll be in trouble at work for not going in, but after spending 2 hours watching cars fishtail all over the place on our street, I decided to play it safe. And do a bit of crafting.

We haven't decorated much, but all that's up so far is stuff I've made.
Above our mantle hang the two gumdrop wreaths I made. I got the idea from Martha Stewart. I used 2 12" stryofoam rounded wreaths with flat backs (a hemispheric cross section), my glue gun, about 20 glue sticks, and 5 19oz bags of red and green spice drops (which left me with probably 3/4 of a bag leftover). I just hot glued the gumdrops onto the wreaths, super easy, although a little tedious. It took under an hour for each wreath (2 episodes of "How I Met Your Mother" each)

Also, my little korknisse santas, my snowflake votive holders (trace a snowflake in glue on a cheap frosted glass tealight holder, sprinkle heavily with glitter, that's it!), the two Simon Pearce glass trees we registered for, and a centerpiece we bought at the Old St Andrew's Church (in Bloomfield, CT) craft fair.

And today I finally hung our stockings. Clint's is made following Martha Stewart's stocking pattern from the December 2004 MSL, and mine was done without a pattern (I've done enough socks not to need one).
This morning I worked on our Christmas cards. Good news- I have all the paper I need to make them! Unfortunately, though, I can't seem to find my stamp box, and my gold ink pad has dried up. I'll probably have to borrow some of my mom's stamping supplies- so let's hope I can assemble all the cards before Saturday, when I'll be home. The photos came yesterday and half of them have been decorated (you'll have to wait for more on that), I've cut half of the decorative paper into the proper sized rectangle, but they all need to have a cut-out done in them. I did 10 last night, and I'm tracing a cookie cutter with an exacto knife, which is very, very tedious. It's hard to do more than 10 at a time. I've made part of 100 paper pointsettias, and need to finish those and make 100 more. Then glue everything together "Happy Holidays" or something on the front, and sign them all. Clint's in charge of addressing the envelopes.

In case you're wondering, yes, I am worried I've taken on too much. My goal is to send out the cards by the end of next week.

In the cooking world, I have my Christmas Cookie 2009 line-up made.
chocolate chip
sugar cookie trees
gingerbread men
peanut butter kiss cookies
7 layer bars (because Clint's never had them, and mom always sends most of hers to my aunts in SD)
mint chocolate sandwich cookies
and maple cookies, which I made last night.

The maple cookies aren't especially pretty. They're a simple butter cookie recipe with maple sugar added. Then you reduce maple syrup (of course, I used Grant family syrup) and pour over the cookies. And sprinkle with coarse salt, "the enhance the maple flavor". The cookies are good, but they're actually really salty, even though I skipped the sprinkling at the end, and I don't find that it enhances the maple flavor at all. I think next time I do these, I'll cut the salt in the dough in half. They're a nice, simple cookie, and the maple glaze is nice (even though I cooked mine too long and it got a little grainy).

EDIT: so I kind of forgot about those maple cookies for a couple days (we had other cookies around), and after 3 days, had another one. And you know what? I like them a lot better than I thought I did. They seem more mapley now, and after a few days in tupperware, they're soft-ish- not chewy soft, not cakey soft, but not shortbread-crispy, like they were tending towards before. I think this is a good recipe (although I'm still cutting the salt in half, the next batch will be given to people on a low salt diet).

Now I'm back to watching all the Martha Stewart Shows on our DVR and tackling the Christmas cards, and later on, when I can't stand to see any more glue, knitting some more korknisse.

Monday, December 7, 2009

It's a major award, I won, I won, I WON!

Look what I won! Not a leg lamp, but a new knitting bag! I won Simply Simon's Sew Mama Sew giveaway. I'm very excited, because not only is this a lovely bag and it's mine, all mine, but it was one of the top things I hoped to win!!


I have other crafty things to share, but winning this bag totally takes the cake. :-D

Friday, December 4, 2009

Cute things

Normally I wouldn't dedicate an entire post to one cute thing, but this is about the cutest thing I've seen, ever. I'm officially in love with this felt "cookies for Santa" set.

Like, I kind of want to add felt in various colors onto my Michael's shopping list today.


Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Christmas crafting bug

I caught it! I was actually tempted to skip pilates tonight so I could have more crafting time- and I really, really love pilates, and haven't been in 2 weeks. But I usually get home from pilates at 7:30, and that gives plenty of crafting time.

I've been working on these guys for a couple weeks (I've made 8 so far, and have the pieces for 8 more, and I plan to make more)

Candle holders, inspired by Martha Stewart's Halloween spider web ones I made. I've done 14, and have 16 more votive holders.... but these are kind of painful to do, so we'll see if I decorate the rest.

A gumdrop wreath! I bought 2 19oz bags of red and green gumdrops, one 12" styrofoam wreath form, and luckily was able to find my hot glu gun- but I think I needed 5 bags of gum drops, it's nearly half finished, and I'm out of gumdrops. Alternatively, I could have purchased a smaller wreath form, but the Michael's in Shrewsbury only had one size of white styrofoam wreath, so I had no choice. And I think the 12" will be a nice size. I'm eager to finish this, it'll look really cute. We'll have the green gum drop wreath above the mantle and the red gumdrop wreath perhaps in the kitchen.

Not holiday at all, but here's one of my new favorite foods: beets. Now, why did I never like beets before? They're pink. They turn everything they touch pink. How did I not fall in love with them immediately? At restaurants I always see them paired with chevre, and I'll eat anything with chevre. When we went to the farmer's market in Berrysburg, PA, the beets looked good and cheap, and I decided to give fresh beets a try. First I roasted them in the oven for about an hour (a recipe suggested 35 minutes would be enough- they were wrong), which yielded rock-hard beets that I ate anyway. For this batch, I boiled them for about 20 minutes, then sliced them, topped them with goat cheese, sprinkled some sliced almonds on top, and baked for about 30 minutes. Then I drizzled honey over them. That method worked much better, the beets were nice and soft. And tasty. Unfortunately, since I gave my mom most of the beets I bought, I'm all out. I'll have to see if they look at all decent at the grocery store.

Finally, the model for our Christmas card. It's a 4x6 piece of gold paper with a bell cut-out (I'm tracing a cookie cutter with an xacto knife- we'll see how fun this is after making 100 of them... sigh) and a wedding photo of us- the real thing will have a color photo and I'll also make a little paper pointsettia to stick on the card.
I'm also working on my Christmas stocking- although it needs a bit more planning before I get too much farther, I have to grid out my name to knit in white on the otherwise dark red (knitpicks wool of the andes "hollyberry"- how appropriate) yarn.

Giveaway day!

Bird was nice enough to bring everyone's attention to Sew Mama Sew's Giveaway Day, which was yesterday, and lasts through Sunday!

I don't know about you, but I'm visiting all these new blogs, entering their giveaways, and adding a ton of blogs to my list.

Um, and also getting oodles and oodles of crafting inspiration. Bottle brush Christmas trees, anyone? And I'm thinking January needs to be an official sewing month- I'd say this weekend, but there are too many Christmas fairs to attend!

Stay tuned for more crafts- I have better pictures of the ornaments I started when I had the plague, I've made a bunch of winter/Christmas votive holders, last night I cast on for my Christmas stocking, and as soon as I can find my glue gun, we'll have gumdrop wreaths! The craft bug has definitely bit me this holiday season- for once, knitting takes a back seat! And I have no idea when I'll fit in all the Christmas cookie baking. I haven't even compiled my cookie clist, that usually happens over Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Celebrating fall

How do you celebrate fall? I like to incorporate apples, and the eating thereof, into my celebration. Thanksgiving is just my kind of holiday- it's all about eating fall foods. Especially apple pie.

Tonight I'm having some friends over for dinner, and because I have a good number of apples at home, I'd planned to bake a pie- basically, another apple ginger cranberry pie, in case Clint and I didn't get enough at Thanksgiving.

Then I was reading Smitten Kitchen, and found this: a caramel apple gingerbread upside down cake. The only upside down cake I've ever had is pineapple, and I'm not a fan (too sickly sweet), but a gingerbread upside cake? ooh.
I made it- it's easy, and I'll let SK tell you about it. I overcooked the caramel a bit, but I don't really think that's a problem for this, since the cake would be baked anyway, and I used more molasses than honey (about 1/6 cup of honey and 1/2 cup of molasses- I ran out of honey), and the batter was really, really tasty. It then smelled really, really tasty. It came out of the oven, cooled for about 10 minutes, and then I got this:
and it looked really, really tasty. And then! There were some stuck-to-the-pan bits that we ate, and the bits were so good, we cursed. Involuntarily. It was that good. I really can't wait to eat this cake tonight.

For Thanksgiving I brought my standard apple ginger cranberry pie and pumpkin pie. Clint said: everyone in my family eats the pumpkin pie, I'm the only one that ever wants apple. When we got there, everyone wanted apple, and only my nephews (I have nephews now!) and I wanted pumpkin. Huh. But they were a big hit, and that's the most important thing.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


It's Pansy-versary! 2 years ago today, Pansy came to live with us. Let's look at Pansy through the years.

2007, 6 months old, 2.75lbs

2008, 1.5 years old, approx. 4-4.5lbs, winter coat of fluff

2009, 2.5 years old, 5 lbs, and less of a winter coat (due to a very mild fall)

Saturday, November 7, 2009

The Plague

I have the plague. It's a cold, really (I hope- I hope it's not swine flu, but I don't have a fever), but I'm still stuck at home. When I'm sick, I usually get huge crafting/baking urges, which is awful because 1. I can't share any baked goods, and 2. I can't get out to acquire all the necessary crafting supplies.

Luckily, I had red yarn. So I got started on Christmas gifts for everyone.They still need white beards and white hat pompoms, and faces, but so far I've made 6 of these little guys. Now I have... oh, probably 20 to go.

And some recipes: These are all ones I've seen in the past week, and look forward to making, but haven't actually tried yet.
Cranberry ribbon cake
Gallina de madre
Honey brown butter sauce for manchego cheese (you can be sure this'll appear at my next cocktail party)
Beef in salt crust

Craft project ideas:
Glitter painting (wedding photos, perhaps?)
Glittered snowflake candle holders (based on this Halloween project)
Glittered birds (idea suggested by Bird)

Monday, November 2, 2009

Halloween treats, part 2!

Spicy kettle corn! Gah! Hot!

But oh, so delicious.

1/4cup oil
1/4cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon chipotle powder
1/2 popcorn kernels

Combine all ingredients in a big pot with a tight-fitting lid. Stir to coat the kernels. Place on a burner turned to medium-high, and cook. Once popcorn starts to pop, start to shake the pot (up and down or swishy side-to-side, but swishy results in less chipotle steam in your face). Once the corn seems to have stopped popping (maybe after a total of 10 minutes), transfer to a big popcorn bowl. Eat and enjoy. Serve to your friends without warning them it's spicy, and watch their sinuses clear right before your eyes.

Taken from Rachael Ray.

Stay tuned for more spiced kettle corn variations in the next few months.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Halloween treats, part 1!

In preparation for Saturday's Halloween party, I have made tasty things.
First, the ingredients for Bakerella's new Spider Bites. We have (clockwise, from middle-left bottom): red raspberry gumdrops, black sugar, liquorice, brownie balls, and not pictured is melted chocolate. I still haven't assembled everything, but that's up for tonight!

Pumpkin pecan raisin bread. Recipe from a recipe swap that I must share- it's delicious!!

And I taste-tested a candy corn martini. I think this become an annual tradition- it's delicious!
combine 1/2cup candy corn with 1.5cups vodka in an airtight container, let sit for 3 hours (I did 6- btw, the candy corn dissolves.), then discard candy.
combine: 4oz candy corn vodka, 2oz triple sec/cointreau, and the juice of one lemon (2-3T) with ice, shake, strain into a martini glass. Garnish with candy corn.

Lots of deliciousness happened at my house last night.

ETA: I'm about 3 months late for this... here are photos of my Halloween party spread!

The main table, with a half-dead flower arrangement. Cheeses, crackers, cheese balls (they're orange), swampy spinach quiche, spicy kettle corn, chicken satay skewers with peanut dipping sauce, veggies, homemade tortilla chips, hershey's caramel kisses, and ranch dip.
Close-up of the tortilla chips. I cut flour tortillas with a cookie cutter, brushed with lime juice, sprinkled with chipotle powder (spicy) or cumin, baked for about 15 min at 400oF. The finished spider bites.
Ladies' fingers
The dessert table: jelly candies from Sweden (wine flavored), pumpkin bread (also pictured above, recipe still unposted), apple tart, apples and caramel fondue (recipe as yet unposted, but I'll fix that)Mummy sausages (super easy, but I left out the cheese)

Monday, October 26, 2009


I'm working on a menu for my Halloween party this weekend. It needs a lot more thought... so far, we have:
caramel fondue (served with apples)
apple cheesecake tart
pumpkin bread
chicken skewers with peanut sauce
cheddar cheese muffins

One issue I take with the draft of this list is that the foods are not especially Halloweeny- with the exception of the first three. I feel rather sad that I don't have any cupcakes on the list, but I thought the cheese muffins might be a nice savory substitute. I also completely lack cookies of any type, which would be easy to do with some Halloween flair- that shouldn't be hard to find.

I need to spend some more time recipe browsing- hopefully in time to start preparing food on Wednesday.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Pumpkinny weekend

My weekend included (among other things): apples and pumpkins.

1 peck of Mutsu apples for eating and for caramel apple fondue (passed along in a recipe swap, I'll share after I make it)
1/2 peck of Millenium apples, for general enjoyment
4 pumpkins: 1 orange one for my parents, one orange for us (for carving), one green one for us, and one small-ish white one for us.
One loaf pan of Harvest Bread Pudding- this is bread pudding that uses not only typical yeasted bread (looks like white or wheat), but also pumpkin bread. Yum! The next time I make a loaf of pumpkin quick bread, I'm using a portion of it for bread pudding. And I'm considering making a bananas foster bread pudding, using banana bread (which I never really like once it's cool)
Turtle cheesecake: from the banquet facilities at the Marriott in Rocky Hill, CT, but I've been thinking about cheesecake lately, and the perfectly decent piece of cheesecake hit the spot. Also, layer of chocolate ganache, yum.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Experimenting with apples

At least my experiments in the kitchen (as opposed to lab) are successful!

Clint brought me some apples (per my request) from NH about a month ago, and this past weekend, I realized I really should finish off the bag. Since I'd had such success with those danishes from a few weeks ago, I proceeded with round 2.

This time, however, I tossed the super thinly-sliced apples (4 or 5) with a mixture of about 1T brown sugar, about 2-3T apple cider, and a healthy dose (maybe 2t) cinnamon, before arranging them on top of the puff pastry square with a dollop of cheesecake mixture. The result?

(please pardon the oh-so charming used parchment paper/cookie sheet background). However, while the apples were perfect, the puff pastry didn't puff up- I'm not sure why this happened. Unlike the previous round of danishes (and every other time I've used puff pastry), when I thawed the pastry on the counter, this time I thawed it for the whole day in the fridge. This is what Ina Garten recommends, though, so I doubt that's the problem. I baked them at the same temp, for the same time. Any ideas? I'm totally willing to try this again, now that I've perfected the apple filling.

After making 18 danishes, I still had 5 apples left, and I happened to have enough crust for a single crust pie in the fridge. So!
scrappy apple pie, apple cheesecake tart thing, apple dumpling.

The dumpling was: one peeled and cored apple dusted with cinnamon and filled with 2t brown sugar, then wrapped in pie crust. I baked as I would a pie- maybe a little shorter.

The apple cheesecake thing.... this was an experiment, and it worked. The tart pan is lined with pie crust, and then filled with the rest of the cheesecake filling from the danishes- however, I didn't have enough, so I made another half batch- this time adding cinnamon and substituting brown sugar for white. Then I placed the thinly-sliced apples (again, coated in the brown sugar/cider/cinnamon mix) on top, and drizzled the remaining brown sugar/cider/cinnamon mix on top. I baked.My pictures lately are lousy- it's been so rainy that there's no good natural light in the kitchen. But as you can see, it's flat like a tart, and the cheesecake portion is just slightly thicker than the crust. It's good, though- just a little sweet, allowing the apple flavor to dominate the tart. I'm definitely making this again.

Finally, the scrappy apple pie was the leftover apple slices and remaining pie crust stuck in a tiny pie dish. I really just wanted everything used up. Since I ate the apple dumpling, I told Clint this one was his- only 4 days later, he still hasn't eaten it.... so I just might. ;)

In non-food news, I am ill (in a non-contagious way, at least) and feeling very run-down. I had a very busy and productive day at work planned for today, but wasn't able to complete it- I had to go home and rest and apply some hot compresses. But! As I was making a pot of tea (well, ok, cookies- nothing stops me from baking), the UPS truck just happened by, and delivered these lovelies, to cheer me up...and lest you, dear reader, think I'm terribly frivolous and irresponsible with my money, please note that these three pairs of shoes, and the shipping thereof, cost me less than $40. Yay huge shoe sales!

Monday, October 12, 2009

A domestic, TDL weekend

TDL = to-do list.

We had one, and we did things on it. I wish I had photos, before/after style.

1. We cleaned/unpacked. At the top of the list was bedroom, guest room (guest coming tomorrow), kitchen. Also on the list was to clean (vacuum, dust, bathrooms), and unpack the office, and maybe the dining room. And... success!
Bedroom: completely unpacked, just needs some more furniture (not sure what just yet- but there's a ton of empty space)
Guest room: contains 4 boxes of craft supplies, otherwise unpacked! It also needs furniture, a bureau is on its way
Kitchen: all unpacked! some cabinet reorganization is necessary, and to purchase a free-standing cabinet or shelf thing
Dining room: unpacked! Requires 3 pieces of furniture, one's on its way, the other 2 still need to be purchased
Office: well... it'll be done by the end of the week- the new desk's not due in til friday anyway.
Living room and den: they'll get there. We seriously need bookcases to finish off the living room, and small tables. The den currently serves as wedding/shower gift storage.

2. We cooked, in the style of a married couple. This will sound odd, coming from me, but all of a sudden, on Saturday, the idea of cooking dinner completely terrified me (I was also sick). I bake all the time, and I love to cook, but when I cook dinner, it's a big, gourmet production. I don't cook simple things that can be done on any normal old weekday night. And I thought, what happens when I have kids?!? Kids actually have to eat, they can't get by with a bowl of cereal or cheese and crackers and a piece of pie for dinner. So I got out my only Rachael Ray cookbook, and made, with reasonable success (we didn't have enough couscous to soak up the liquid, so it was soupy), sweet and spicy chicken and couscous pot. And it was good- we both had seconds, and looked forward to lunch the next day. Yesterday I then made a cashew chicken and sweet potato curry with curried quinoa. We lacked a green food item, tonight I'll add some steamed asparagus when we finish off the leftovers. Both of these dinners took us about 1.5 hrs to make, but most of that time was spent thawing the chicken or waiting for it to cook, so if we can get a little more stream-lined, I think we're good. (and now we're both looking forward to lunch and dinner today :) ) So I think I need to get another RR cookbook (how strange is it that, with all the cooking I've done, I've never made a 30 minute meal?) and peruse my Everyday Food mags, all with sticky tabs in hand, and mark the heck of these books so I can get some good, quick recipes. We'll work on making them kid-friendly (i.e. kids probably won't like the kind of flavors we like) when we actually need them to be.

3. We worked hard on the wedding thank you notes. I hate that we're not done, 5 weeks after the wedding, but finally, we're nearly there. I have 1 more and Clint has 10 more, and we have to address 90 or so of them. But since I wrote about 75 of the notes, Clint will address more than half of them (he also has much better handwriting than I do).

And I hardly knit at all. I did the kitchener stitch on 16 stitches to finish a sock, and cast on and knit 8 rows of a baby sweater. but the best part of the weekend was that I slept in, wore sweatpants and no makeup, and didn't set foot out of the house (except to get the mail on Saturday) the entire weekend. I haven't had a weekend like this in at least a year.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Mrs wamozart12 gets back to cooking.

Well, wamozart12 got married. I feel like I should do a whole "I got married" entry here, but it doesn't entirely fit with the cooking/crafting theme. I mean, I could make it fit- we had plenty of food at the wedding, all of it planned very carefully by myself, and some of it was even made by me. But that would require a lot of digging around for photos, and, well, I'm tired. I'm not wedding-ed out by any means, but in terms of food, I want to move forward.

The wedding ate up all my time. I loved planning it, but my kitchen was a little sad and lonely, and I was having too easy a time losing weight. Therefore!

First, I made a pie.I came home to an empty house, my husband was in NH for work. I happened to have a brand new pie dish (wedding gift from a friend with impeccable taste in gifts), blueberries in the freezer, and pie crust in the freezer. So. That was nice.
The next night, we had my parents over for dinner. I made pork wellington (which I've posted about before) and served the leftovers of this pie, as well as a spectacular apple pie bread acquired at the farmers market (bakery's website here). And it just so happened that I had some cheese on hand...
a wedding gift from my friend's parents. You probably can't read the cheese markers, but we have: dill havarti, cheddar (unlabeled), manchego, horseradish bacon cheddar, and apricot maple chevre. I love how the cheese markers are shaped like cows, goats and sheep- so you can use them appropriately.

Then for the past few weeks, a raveler in the Knit n' Bake group has been taking cooking classes in France, and sharing photos of her baked booty. Reading these posts at the end of the day, when I'm really ready for dinner is rather troublesome, but after watching Ina Garten make some cheese danishes, using frozen puff pastry, I decided to take matters into my own hands- and also use up some of the 2.5lbs of plums I got at Stop and Shop:
these were simple- it's just frozen puff pastry rolled out and cut into squares (9 squares per sheet, 2 sheets per box), a dollop of cheesecake mixture (4oz cream cheese, 1/2 an egg (use the other half for the egg wash), 2T sugar, and vanilla) and plum/apple slices, fold over, brush with egg wash (1/2 egg and apple cider- although milk might be better) and bake at 400 for about 10-15 minutes, until they're done.

We ate those pretty quickly.

And finally, since I'm going to Disney World in 2 days, I decided it'd be nice to have a little packable snack for the plane ride. And it being fall, I have a slight craving for pumpkin. I found, in my new More Recipes from Magnolia cookbook, a pumpkin walnut cookie with brown butter frosting recipe. I had a really tough time waiting for these cookies to come out the oven. They'll definitely be repeated.
In summary, yum.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

To-do lists and planning

In our last installment, I showed you pictures of my new kitchen. And promised you more. Well, those pictures have yet to be taken, must less posted, but I did host my first party in our new house this weekend: my bachelorette party. The b-lette included such foods as cupcakes from Kickass Cupcakes in Somerville (very good, especially the super dark chocolate frosting), cookies of unmentionable shapes, and my new favorite snack food, pita chips (I especially love the cinnamon sugar and the sea salt, and hope to try the Tuscan herb next). The b-lette after leaving my house included delicious tapas, sangria, and sparkling rose.

My wedding is in 19 days, but I prefer to think of it as the number of items left on my to-do list away, which currently is 41 things (I must be forgetting something). I had great plans to blog about my wedding planning, which I thought would be great to have, and read over later, but I've done a horrendous job of keeping it up. I guess I was a bit busier than I expected.

Lately, though, instead of thinking of wedding and planning and assembling programs and wrapping gifts and writing thank you notes, I'm bookmarking and printing out recipes.... recipes to make after the wedding, when I have time! Is that bad?

Some examples:
fried ice cream (assuming we get the deep fryer off our registry)
bread- just bread in general.

And I'm looking forward to eating cheese fondue again- I haven't had it in 7 months, which I'm sure is the main reason my predicted-to-be-too-small wedding dress is too big.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Oh, by the way...

I moved! I guess I forgot to mention that.

Our move has all the usual closing date frustration and utilities not working, which I could share, but the only pertinent bit about our house is


It's a lovely kitchen. The appliances are all fairly new (extremely new and fancy and shiny, compared to my condo), there is a decent amount of storage space (the pantry's paltry, but we can work around it), and I have an island. Oh, how I love islands. Regular countertops tend to be fairly shallow, and always full of stuff that has to sit upon them. But islands are big, and spacious, and empty. They're workspaces that are dedicated workspaces, not something to clear off every time you need it. And it's mineallmine.

These pictures were taken the first couple days we lived in the house (now it's been almost a month, although only about 1/3 of our belongings are actually in the house yet), when nothing ws really put away. I will take some more detailed pictures, to give a thorough tour of My Room. (the cat also has her own room, although Clint hasn't chosen one yet- probably the sunroom, which will have the tv, PS2 and card/boardgame table).We're very happy to be there, as you can see. Also note the nice light fixture above the island: the previous owners kind of were chandelier people, so we have this one in the kitchen, kind of a similar style, but more formal, in the dining room, and another similar style/formalness in a lighter color in the screen porch. Not to mention the smaller, yet still notable, light fixtures in the hallways and living room (the ones in the bedroom appear to have been installed in the '70s... and we'll be changing those eventually).

Also note the glass cabinet: this is for our every day china. It's not in there yet, because right now our wine glasses are in those cabinets. We need to do some rearranging still.

My island. :) It's much less covered in stuff right now, I'm trying to have it only have a cutting board (the glass one that you see in this photo) and a bowl of fruit. Where you see the green plastic bag with cereal: that is this interesting little shelf, presumably for large electronics, such as a stand mixer, or blender, etc. There's another shelf on the other side, which Pansy claimed as her spot- so her food goes there. (I was pleased that she claimed it, since I'd planned to put her stuff there, anyway. but she hopped up and sat there often enough to prevent putting anything there- it's raised maybe 4 inches from the ground, and that's about how far off the ground she perfers to be.)
This is my oven. Nice and shiny... it's one of those glass cooktop electric stoves, so far, so good, but we're probably going to switch to gas at some point. We have gas heat/hot water, so it should be fairly straight-forward to switch. Someone has already claimed our oven. Oh.. hey, is there something in the oven?

Oh, it was a pork wellington, for our first meal together in our new house! (You have to try this recipe, if you like pork)

Pork Wellington (by Alton Brown)

a 1lb pork tenderloin
4.5 oz of thinly-sliced prosciutto
1-2oz dried apples, finely diced or chopped in a mini food processor
salt and pepper
1t chopped fresh thyme
1T whole-grain mustard
1 sheet puff pastry, thawed
flour to roll out pastry
egg and water for egg wash

This pork tenderloin is stuffed with dried apples, wrapped in prosciutto and then wrapped in puff pastry. It's a serious entree.

Slice into the pork tenderloin (lengthwise) almost all the way through. Stuff in the inside with the dried apples, and fold closed. On a sheet of parchment paper, lay the prosciutto out, overlapping the pieces, to make a column slightly longer than the tenderloin, and wide enough to wrap around the tenderloin. Place the tenderloin on top of the prosciutto, and using the parchment paper, wrap the prosciutto tightly around the pork. Roll out the thawed puff pastry to be longer than the tenderloin, and spread down the middle (lengthwise) with mustard, and sprinkle with thyme, salt and pepper. Place the tenderloin on top of the puff pastry, and wrap the pastry around it, folding it under at the ends. Brush the puff pastry with the egg wash (one egg + 1T water)- or not, but it's prettier with the egg wash.

Bake in a preheated 400oF oven for 25-30 minutes, until the middle of the pork reads 140oF on a meat thermometer. I baked this in a parchment-lined 9x13 glass dish, and I'd recommend baking it in a roasting pan with a rack- my pastry got a little soggy from the juices from the pork.

And you don't need to serve it with anything, it's amazing on its own. (I just added a simple salad and steamed asparagus)

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Wedding Cheese Tasting

Doesn't everyone get excited for this? Tasting cheese varieties to potentially serve at one's wedding. Maybe it's just me.

I'm very pleased to say I now have a dairy guy. A dairier? A dairer? Maybe just a dairy farmer. There's a farm in Granby that makes amazing chevre- readers of this blog may be familiar with my undying love for chevre. This particular farmer (farmers, really, it's a family operation) is more local than the word "local" can describe- the milk and cheese he produces are from cows partially fed on things grown on my grandma's land (since we're definitely not farmers, farming being done outdoors, etc).

We went to visit the farm and bought quite a bit of stuff from their cheese shop... including 3 varieties of flavored chevre as possible wedding cheeses. I've tried cranberry (good), orange honey (kind of bland, but still good) and apricot maple (the current winner). I'm going to place an order from Dorothy for some sort of really fat, 150-person reception-sized block of chevre. I may be more excited about the wedding cheese than about the wedding cake!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Restaurant Recommendations

I went to a number of restaurants in central/eastern MA this weekend, and I want to recommend them all.

Bocado, in Worcester, MA
This is a tapas restaurant, the first tapas place I'd ever been to. I had the "Central Spain #2" wine flight, and I foolishly did not write down the three wines in this flight. One was a very fresh rose that seemed like the kind I'd want on a picnic, and the other 2 were very zesty reds, possibly reminscent of shiraz. My friends had the Navarro martini, which had lychee juice and possibly (based on the color), cranberry juice (very tasty), sangria (tasted just like my version of mulled cider, but cold and with red wine- delicious) and the mamasita (mango liqueur, vodka and pineapple juice). We had fried goat cheese with honey, almonds and quince paste (excellent); duck with balsamic glaze; a simple salad with manchego; kobe sliders; roasted tomato and artichoke salad (a warm salad) with a tomato/garlic sauce served over toasted baguette; chicken fritters; and crab empanadas. I must go back here.

Addis Red Sea on Tremont St in Boston, MA
EXCELLENT. We lucked out and got there before the crowds, so didn't have to wait. I'd never had ethiopian food before (I've had other African food, I think Kenyan-inspired, in NH at the farmer's market) so had never had the real experience of an Ethiopian restaurant. The food is served over injara bread on basically a giant tray. I had a spicy lamb dish with red pepper sauce, a friend had a different kind of lamb dish, and my fiance had a spicy fish dish. The bread is kind of like a cross between a crumpet and pita, and is lovely, soft and flavorful. For drinks we had a sweet red wine, a honey white wine, an Ethiopian lager and an Ethiopian stout. Everything was excellent, the only complaint I had was that my stomach was not big enough. I actually woke up the next morning wishing I'd taken the sauce-soaked bread home with me. For anyone who's never been to an Ethiopian restaurant before, you eat the curry-like dishes by scooping it up with the bread. No forks! So it can be a little messy, but it definitely worth it, even for a fussy girl like me.

J's Restaurant at Nashoba Winery, in Bolton, MA
I love Nashoba. I love doing their wine tastings (I have never had a wine I didn't want more of) and getting free glasses. I love buying cheese in their shop and eating it outside at the picnic tables. But on Sunday, my parents came up and we and my fiance had brunch.
The brunch had kind of a random assortment of foods, french toast, bacon and sausage like any regular Sunday brunch, but also salmon en croute (only... I never could find the croute, just some rice), mushroom calzone, seaweed salad, and a green salad with a giant side dish of roasted tomato, artichoke, olives and other antipasti type things. The dessert table included a selection of cheeses (bleu, brie, a local cheddar), bananas foster (a rare treat!) and a number of bite-sized sweets (raspberry tarts, super chocolatey brownies, blondies, and lemon tarts). They also serve all their wines at the restaurant, and have a variety of mixed drinks, like a mimosa and a madras (fortified cranberry wine and OJ).
The next thing I have to try there is a picnic lunch. You can call ahead and order a picnic lunch so you can "have the J's dining experience in a casual setting". I really like that idea, Nashoba is a great place for a picnic on a nice afternoon.

The Sole Proprietor, Worcester MA
Great seafood. I had lunch here a week ago, and checked out their dinner menu and knew exactly what I wanted. Unfortunately, we went during lobster fest, and I'd had my heart so set on maple-glazed fried scallops that I didn't even consider a steamed lobster dinner for $17.99. oops!
My scallops were very tasty (the mashed sweet pot it came on was very stringy, rather odd). Fiance had salmon and shrimp that he seemed to enjoy, Dad had fish and chips that was "nearly as good as Lenny and Joe's" (the highest compliment any fish and chips can get from him) and Mom had a chilled lobster with shrimp cocktail. The cocktail sauce was excellent.
Fiance and I also had house salads to start, and I really need to recommend everyone to try the teriyaki, orange and sesame dressing. I need to find a recipe for this after trying it. Fiance had some sort of creamy peppercorn (or parmesean?) dressing that was almost as good, I had to have both of ours (luckily, we always order it on the side).

So, come to the Worcester or Boston area, and have some good food. (and you know Boston has far more good restaurants than the one I've mentioned here... I need to get out there more often and partake in the deliciousness).

Found: on special at Shaw's

Lately I've been stopping at the grocery store after Zumba class. It's extremely convenient, the dance studio is right in back of Shaw's. Also, I tend to buy more fresh and healthy foods after an intense workout.

Last week, I saw cherries were on sale. I added them to the strawberries I've been eating (averaging about 3lbs a week... I hope ODing on strawberries has no adverse effects). They looked beautiful, and were a really good price. However, they had no flavor at all. I was really disappointed!

So I turned them into ice cream, and I have to say, this is about my best batch yet.

Cherry Vanilla Ice Cream

approx. 1.5lbs of cherries, destemmed and pitted
3T sugar
2T (yes, tablespoons) vanilla

In a wide fry pan or wok, start to simmer cherries. Sprinkle sugar over, and cook until they start to soften. Add the vanilla, cook until the liquid turns into a syrup. Let cool. Puree about 2/3s of the cherries and leave the rest whole.

3 cups 2% milk
scant 2/3 cup sugar
8 egg yolks

In a saucepan over medium-high heat, scald milk. Meanwhile, combine yolks and sugar, whisk together. Add about half of the scalded milk (ladle slowly, ladleful by ladleful) to egg/sugar mixture, then add back to the saucepan with the remaining milk. Cook over low heat until slightly thickened, anywhere between 3 and 8 minutes. It won't thicken much, just enough to notice, and you definitely don't want the eggs to scramble.

Remove from heat, strain and add the cherry puree. Let chill (I usually put it in the fridge, but today I was too impatient, so made an ice water bath, which worked rather well, so I suggest an ice water bath).

Whip out your handy-dandy ice cream maker, and start it up according to the directions. When the custard/cherry puree mixture is just about done, slowly add in the whole cherries. Freeze a couple more hours, until it's the proper ice cream consistency, or, if you can't wait, set aside a small bowl to taste immediately. This is good.

(the recipe I followed for this was adapted from the basic gelato recipe that came with my Kitchenaid Ice Cream Maker, and I made up the cherry part as I went.)

Friday, May 8, 2009

Food, overdue

Last weekend D and I went for sushi and drinks, because we like both sushi and drinks.
Clockwise from top: avocado maki, sunset California roll, Lebanon roll (spicy tuna and cucumber, tempura-ed with house spicy sauce), Philadelphia roll. In a boat.

In other food news, I made a ginger banana bread on Monday, brought it in on Tuesday, and it was devoured in 24 hours. I haven't cooked much other than that, as I've been busy with wedding-related crafting.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Happy Caramel Corn Day!

Today is National Caramel Corn Day!

wamozart12 will celebrate by adding caramel corn to her yogurt, cheese, strawberries, bread, eggs shopping list tonight.

In completely unrelated news, I have some recipes to share. These include some "secrets"- which aren't exactly secrets, but rather, super easy recipes I hardly consider a recipe, yet get rave reviews time and time again. Enjoy!

Tomato Tart
2 medium tomatoes, sliced into thin rounds
1 sheet of puff pastry, thawed
3-4T mustard
2/3-3/4 cup grated cheese (gruyere works well)

Roll out puff pastry to thin it out a bit, and to fit on a large sheet pan. Spread mustard over pastry, arrange tomatoes, and cover evenly with grated cheese. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until edges are beginning to brown, in a preheated 400oF oven. Slice and serve warm or at room temperature.


Pear and Blue Cheese tart
2 pears, sliced in to very thin wedges
3t crumbled blue cheese
1/4cup pecans or candied pecans, crushed
1 sheet of puff pastry, thawed

Roll out puff pastry to thin it out a bit. Cut into 2 long rectangles, score edges 1/2inch in from the edge, and using a fork, pierce 2 columns down the middle. Bake for 10 minutes at 400oF, removing pastry before it begins to brown.

On each rectangle, arrange pear slices decoratively (fans, or overlap the slices in a long row down the length of the pastry, for example). Sprinkle with blue cheese to taste, and then with pecans. Bake for 5-10 minutes more at 400oF, until pastry begins to brown. Serve warm or at room temperature.


Mango dip
Good as an appetizer with crackers or baguette, or for breakfast on an english muffin
1 8oz package of cream cheese (regular or low-fat), room temperature
1/3cup mango chutney

Combine ingredients, beat until well-combined. Store in the fridge.


Catherine’s Cosmopolitans
makes 1 serving or 1 pitcher
2 parts vodka
1 part triple sec
1 part lime juice
4 parts cranberry juice

Combine all with ice, serve with a lime wedge as garnish.


Catherine’s non-alcoholic tropical cosmos

4 parts cranberry juice
2 parts pineapple juice
1 part lime juice
2 parts ginger ale, club soda or sprite

Combine all with ice, garnish with a lime wedge to serve.


Tomato mozzarella skewers with fig-balsamic reduction

Cherry tomatoes
Small mozzarella balls (about the time of a cherry tomato)
Fresh basil leaves
Fig balsamic reduction (recipe below)
Bamboo skewers

Arrange ingredients on a skewer: a good combination is tomato-mozzarella-basil-tomato. Arrange all skewers on a serving plate, drizzle with fig-balsamic reduction.

Fig-balsamic reduction

8 dried black mission figs, chopped finely
1 cup balsamic vinegar

Combine ingredients in a small saucepan, cook over very low heat until reduced by 1/3, 20-40 minutes (depending on individual stoves). Be sure not to let vinegar burn.

Store in refrigerator, stays good for quite a long time. Also delicious as a salad dressing (and fat free!)

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Boston Cupcakes

Has everyone seen this cupcake article? The Boston Globe published my bachelorette party itinerary for me! So thoughtful of them :)

I may need to add more cupcakeries to the list, so far I've heard Lyndell's in Somerville is worth a visit.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Coming soon!

to a blog near you!


I had a cocktail party this past weekend, and I have bunches and bunches of recipes to share. I just need the time to type them all in.

Here's a teaser:
amino acid-free DMEM, 1 liter
Choline Chloride 4mg
Ca pantothenate 4mg
Folic acid 4mg
niacinimide 4mg
CaCl 200mg
Fe(NO3)3*9H2O 0.1mg
MgSO4 120mg
KCl .............. oh wait. That's cell culture media, not food. Oops!

Yeah... work's been busy. Starting a new project in a completely different system has been a bit trying for me- I sincerely miss knowing exactly what I'm doing and why.

Well, here are some of the food recipes I'll share by the end of the week:
pear, blue cheese and pecan tart
tomato tart
strawberry cupcakes with lemon cream cheese frosting

Except for the cupcakes, these are all things you can whip up in about 30 minutes. They're easy but so, so tasty.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


Bird tagged me for the 10 things you like starting with the letter __ meme. She gave me the letter D.

1. Dpns. Knitting on dpns (double pointed needles) is my favorite. It's probably rather peculiar, since so many people seem to hate these with a passion that burns in the night. I, however, detest circulars, and long straights feel awkward. My love of dpns may be part of the reason I most prefer to knit socks and mittens.

2. Dough. such as, cookie, or bread, or pastry dough, either in the raw or cooked form. Tasty! Well, I'd rather have my bread cooked, but raw cookie dough, yum :)

3. Daisies. Such a cute, honest flower! A probable wedding flower.

4. Doilies. They're pretty. I loved crafting with doilies when I was a kid.

5. Dachshunds. I'm really picky about dogs, but I'm fond of dachshunds. We had one when I was young, and she was both a good dog, and a beautiful dog. I kind of hope my parents get one again.

6. Data, especially the good kind. Nothing beats good data, especially when you take it to your boss, and they get all excited and giddy. It's like winning the lottery, only the lottery of skill...

7. Dressing up. I loves it. I love buying pretty clothes for the remote possibility that sometime, I will wear them. I have high hopes for more dressing up opps in Worcester.

8. Danskos. This is Denise's fault. They're great lab shoes, though, attractive and comfy.

9. Dishes, especially serving dishes. I love to buy them (on sale, of course), and plan parties around the dishes. Registering at Simon Pearce was such a kid-in-a-candy-shop experience, I registered for so, so many centerpiece and serving dishes.

10. Ducks, both real and rubber. The rubber ones are so jolly and round, and the real ones are funny and adorable. I want a pet duck, but people always try to talk me out of it.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

A pint's a pound, the world around

Does anyone else chant this to themselves when dealing with weight vs volume measurements? It's saved me more than once.

I made pound cake this weekend. I really like pound cake, it's fluffy, simple and homey, and makes a great base for a lot of things.... like ice cream (which I ate while the cake was baking, so I didn't get to try that pair this time around).

I was reading last month's Yankee Magazine (love that mag), and saw this recipe for pound cake, with strawberry sauce. I thought, ooh but ew, hulling 5 pints of strawberries to cook down? Doubtful. But I brought the mag with me when I went cat sitting this weekend.

Paula Deen made her grandmother's pound cake on Saturday morning, which reminded me of the Yankee mag recipe, so I decided I'd try it. Then I had a lousy trip to Border's and was angry, so required some baking to make myself feel better.

This is a cream cheese pound cake, which gives the batter a really nice flavor. The cake itself turned out much lighter than I thought (this may be the first from-scratch pound cake I've ever baked, and I'm pretty sure the most recent one I've eaten has been Sara Lee, which I find more like a tasty piece of cardboard), although I'm not sure I taste the cream cheese in the baked cake. I also didn't feel like making a strawberry sauce to serve over the cake.... so I swirled in strawberry jam (my parents have a jam shelf in their fridge- so they had strawberry jam to spare)

Pound cake!

Cream 3 sticks of butter and 1 8oz package of cream cheese. Add 3 cups of sugar (1 cup at a time), beat. Add in 6 eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. Add 1t each of vanilla and almond extracts.

Stir in 1t of salt, then 3 cups of flour, 1/2cup at a time (to reduce flour flying everywhere).

Spray 3 loaf pans, and in each, put about 2 large glops of batter, so that the entire bottom of the pan has about an inch of batter. Briefly microwave strawberry jam (or whatever, I almost used blackberry before I found a ton of strawberry jam) so it's soft and soupy, and spoon several dollops on top of the batter. Swirl around evenly, then add more batter, spread out evenly, more jam, spread evenly, and end with one last batter layer. Bake in a preheated 325oF oven for 1 hour and 20 minutes.

It starts to smell good after 40 minutes. I find it's nice to throw in a tiny cake pan of batter that's ready in under an hour, so you don't have to wait quite as long to taste it.

Next time, I want to play around with increasing the cream cheese:butter ratio, and see if I can bring out the cream cheese flavor. I'd also like to try neufchatel cream cheese for a lower fat version.

In other food news, I had delicious sushi last week. It's up there with the best sushi I've had (reminder: I live on the east coast, which isn't really known for its awesome sushi).
Baba Sushi
Labmate X took photos of every meal (there were 7 of us, 6 had sushi) because they were beautiful. I had the Lion King roll (spicy tuna and avocado, with tempura king crab on top and Baba Eel sauce, which is kind of teriyaki-y and banana-y, really interesting and delicious) and the sweet potato tempura roll, recommended by labmate DN. I wish I could remember what everyone else had, because they were beautiful and apparently incredibly tasty. Sushi lovers in Worcester, go there!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Recent photos

Rather than integrating these where they should go, I'm just sticking all these recent photos here.

Cupcakes from Sweet in Worcester. In the box on the left: peanut butter chocolate, chocolate peppermint, cookies and cream, raspberry buttercream and vanilla cake. In the box on the right: vanilla/vanilla, and raspberry buttercream with chocolate cake or vanilla cake. I didn't get to try the peanut butter or peppermint, but I'm assured they were great. :-DMy cocktail party
clockwise, from the left:
veggie platter
ranch dip in a pepper (Cabot brand, I didn't make it myself)
more veggies
endive stuffed with boursin and pecans
coconut macaroons
Samantha's artichoke tarragon dip in her snazzy mini crockpot
baguette and rosemary sourdough
Trader Joe's triple layer hummus
cheese platter: brie, apricot stilton, maple smoked gouda, sage cheddar, mozzarella/prosciutto roll, dried black figs
chicken sausage and cheese tart
my favorite brand of olive tapenade
corn and shitake fritters
not pictured: kahlua ice cream

menu ideas that didn't make the cut included:
baked brie
pear and blue cheese tarts
poached figs with chevre
sausage profiteroles

however, at a party with only 6 invited guests, it seems silly to serve so much food. I think I'll save the entire proposed menu for my housewarming party, which will have well over 6 on the guest list.

I went to Shaw's yesterday and came out with a loaf of raisin bread.... and today, when I ate it, I noticed it reminds me a great deal of brioche. Do I feel a raisin bread pudding coming on?

Monday, March 2, 2009

Long time, no post!

I've done it, I've moved. I live in MA now. I'm not yet a legal resident, but apparently I need to, or else I can't have health insurance (which is such a mess anyway).

I've been having a lot of food worth posting about, but little time to do it. However, this weekend I hosted a cocktail party back in NH, and I made kahlua gelato. This is batch #3 of ice cream, and definitely the best.

scald 2 cups of 2% milk with 8 coffee beans in a medium saucepan.

whisk together 5 egg yolks and 2/3cup sugar, then slowly add half the hot milk into the egg mixture, stirring frequently so you don't scramble the eggs. Add the egg/milk mixture back into the saucepan, and cook until slightly thickened, about 8-10 min.

Take it off the heat, stir in 1/4cup of kahlua (or, if you want the alcohol to burn off (I wanted the alcohol), add it to the egg/sugar mixture before adding in the scalded milk)

Strain and let cool in the fridge until it's cold.

Put it in your ice cream maker, and let 'er rip!

it was delish. I left it at D's, and I was really torn about doing that... but I can easily make more.

I went to a new (for me) bakery last week. Well, I went to two. I went to Sweet in Boston, and had a most delicious madagascar vanilla mini cupcake. The frosting was my perfect buttercream frosting, sweet and not buttery, but not with a crisco feel to it like so many bakeries use. The cake was dense, and not very sweet, a good complement to the super-sweet frosting.

I also went to Sweet in Worcester (the names are a coincidence), which had beautiful cupcakes that I like better after 4 days. The cake was good, but the frosting was a little too light and crisco-y for me. I bought them on Friday, and by Tuesday the outer layer of frosting had hardended to a nice shell, and the cake was not stale at all. I'm definitely going there again (picture soon- you need to see these cupcakes). Parking was tricky, but then, I live in a city now, so I should expect that.

We also did some wedding cake tasting last weekend... more on that later.

Picture soon of my cocktail party spread. The menu included:
chicken sausage and gruyere tart
corn and shitake fritters (my first attempt at deep frying!)
veggie platter
ranch dip
three layer hummus (roasted redpepper, original, cilantro- from Trader Joe's)
coconut macaroons
kahlua ice cream
endive stuffed with boursin and pecans
olive spread
baguette and rosemary sourdough bread
tarragon artichoke dip (which Samantha brought)

The cocktail party was my annual pre-Dartmouth grad student semi formal dance. As always, the cocktail party was a hit, the dance was a waste of time (they didn't even give us free alcohol, we got there too late. But the place smelled so strongly of beer that we hardly noticed the lack of alcohol. Seriously, are they trying to recreate a scuzzy frat party?)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Look what I made!


and..... ICE CREAM!!!!!!!1 (er, gelato) As well as honey cardamom madeleines and fig pecan biscotti. I heart my ice cream maker.
Gelato, step by step:
orange-lemon gelato, with coffee beans, starts with orange and lemon peel, and coffee beans.

Add 2 cups of milk to the flavors, scald.

Add 5 egg yolks and 3/4 cup sugar, cook til thickened, then strain out the solids.

Cool the custard, then pour it in your ice cream maker (which has been chilling for a while)

Mix- look how regal she is!

20 min of mixing produces ice cream!

It's really sweet, next time I will cut way back on the sugar- 1/2cup would probably be plenty, maybe even less. Next on the ice cream list is strawberry balsamic gelato. I'm tempted to do sorbet, though... we'll see.