Thursday, December 30, 2010

Christmas Dinner, Part Two

The second exciting item on our Christmas dinner menu was spinach and parmesan souffles.  After my prime rib "disaster" (in my mind it will remain a disaster) I was thrilled with how the souffles turned out, especially considering I'd never made a souffle before.  Ever!

I was terrified of souffles, before this recipe.  I can remember watching some movie with Diane Keaton and Mandy Moore, in which souffles represented Mandy's failed love life.  Or something like that.  Or maybe they weren't supposed to represent that, but they did to me.  Also, the fact that all I remember about said Keaton/Moore movie is souffles is quite sad and indicative of how I do all of my thinking with my stomach.

Despite being terrified that my souffles would cave in, like poor Mandy's love life, I set out to slowly fold in my egg whites and carefully divide the mixture into 4 ramekins (I cut the Bon Appetit recipe in half).

After baking for EXACTLY 30 minutes, per recipe instructions, my souffles were puffy, golden brown, and exactly what I'd hoped for. 

Do they look exactly like the picture from Bon Appetit?  No.  Do they look, possibly, slightly overcooked?  Sure.  Did they cave in completely after 5 minutes on the counter, making me concerned that my love life would suffer a similar fate a'la Ms. Moore?  Yes . . . and no.  But they were DARN tasty in spite of all of those things.

Unlike my souffles, these shoes are PERFECT and in no danger of falling flat.

Christian Louboutin via Neiman Marcus.

Although I may be in danger of tripping and falling flat, should these ever find their way to my feet.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Christmas Dinner, Part One

I am sad to admit that I bit off a bit more than I could chew for Christmas dinner this year.  I overcooked my prime rib (which had me nearly in tears), my Madeira sauce boiled over and made a HUGE mess, and the souffle prep, while easy, did not help the chaos I already had going on.  Despite my failures in the kitchen, the BF and I had a FABULOUS Christmas!

Even though the prime rib was overcooked, and more of the Madeira sauce ended up on my stove top than I thought was humanly possible, the flavors were great.

I rubbed my 6 pound rib roast with olive oil, then sprinkled a solid layer of salt and pepper over the fat.  I used this recipe and, because I'm a dope, followed the directions for cooking time to a T (not necessary when you're not making a roast of the same size).  Either way, delicious smells filled the apartment while the BF and I played Mario Brothers on our new Nintendo Wii.

The Madeira sauce was easy enough to make and, had I kept a better eye on it, it wouldn't have boiled over.  I also made this horseradish sauce.  I did NOT want the BF to experience a sauce shortage during Christmas dinner.

The sauce was delicious and having two sauces more than made up for the fact that my meat was overcooked.  Delicious, but overcooked.

When all was said and done, we had quite the little Christmas table going on.  Prime rib, two sauces, roasted asparagus, mashed potatoes (leftover from the night before, for the BF) and spinach and parmesan souffles (post to come on those).

Please ignore the boxes in the background.  Because we live so far away from family, we received many boxes, most of which have yet to make it to the trash!

Once again, it's a bit chilly down in Florida, and I'm finding myself longing for shoes that look crazy AND keep my feet warm.

Jeffrey Campbell via Solestruck.

These certainly fit the bill.  For 2011, I resolve to purchase these booties!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Twas the Night Before Christmas . . .

. . . and the BF wanted turkey, so that's what I made.  A version of this foolproof turkey breast, to be exact.

I prepared the brine (minus the sage, because I didn't have any) first thing in the morning, and threw my 6 and 1/2 pound turkey breast in for a day-long soak.

After spending the day getting nice and brine-y, I rinsed and dried the turkey breast, then rubbed it down with olive oil, and a mixture of garlic and onion powders, salt, pepper, and oregano.  I baked my turkey for an hour and a half, covered, and half an hour, uncovered, at 325 degrees.

It came out golden and delicious and, when combined with mashed potatoes and gravy (for the BF), cheesy vegetables (prepared by the BF . . . he was required to assist somehow), rolls, and stuffing, we had ourselves quite the feast!

Even Arnie got in on the turkey action.

She's very well-behaved when there's turkey on the line.

I've had blue shoes on my mind for quite some time, now . . .

Sergio Rossi via Shopbop.

With warmer temperatures on the way (I hope) these seem all the more appropriate.  They're fun, different, and I would never get sick of looking down at my feet!

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

It's me again, peeps!  Merry Christmas from sunny Florida.  We're busy unwrapping presents and cooking a HUGE dinner today (of which I will get none, I'm sure) but we'll be back with lots of Christmas dinner recipes.

xoxo - Arnie

Friday, December 24, 2010

A Baker I am Not: Day Three

And now, in my series of complaining about how I don't know how to bake, I bring you a recipe that I didn't mess up!  In truth, this recipe is IMPOSSIBLE to mess up, and amazing when all is said and done.

Melt 12 oz. of chocolate chips with 1 can of sweetened condensed milk.  And, in a separate bowl, combine 1/2 cup of finely ground walnuts with 1/3 box (1 package) of finely ground graham crackers.

Then, combine the melted chocolate with the graham cracker mix until it forms a big sticky mess.  (The mixture can be really hard to stir, so bring in the big guns, if necessary).

Once you have everything all mixed together, use your hands to roll out ping pong ball-sized chocolate balls, and drop them onto a plate of powdered sugar.

Roll them in powdered sugar until they're well-coated, then cool (either in the refrigerator or freezer).  You can eat them at room temperature, but I prefer to enjoy these guys with a little chill to them.

Quick, easy, and darn tasty.  These freeze really well, so make yourself a million, stick 'em in the freezer, and you can enjoy them for years to come!  OR!  You can eat them in one day, as I do.

I love these because the steel-toe look reminds me of difficult manual labor.

Christian Louboutin via Bergdorf Goodman

And manual labor, peeps, is not something I do.  Which is why these shoes are PERFECT for me!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

A Baker I am Not: Day Two

This recipe, much like my microwave caramels, was not a wild success the first time around.  These gold rush brownies are ABSOLUTELY my favorite sweet treat in the world.  But I've never made them myself.  Ever.  I have a fabulous grandmother who loves me very much and sends them to me often enough that I've never had to make them (despite the BF's many requests).  But, in my attempt to bake a well-rounded batch of Christmas treats, I figured it was time to give it a go.

Combine 2 cups of finely chopped graham crackers with 1/4 cup of pecans, 6 oz. of chocolate chips, and one can of sweetened condensed milk.

Place the entire mixture into a square baking dish (preferably 8x8, I went with 9x9) LINED WITH PARCHMENT PAPER.  That is very important.  In my first (failed) attempt, I thought I could get away with buttering my dish instead of lining it with parchment paper.  Not good.  Epic failure, in fact.  This time, I didn't make that mistake.

Bake at 375 for 35-40 minutes, until they brownies look like gold.  Literally.

For someone, like me, who doesn't love chocolate, these brownies are the perfect compromise.  Just enough chocolate to taste like a brownie, but still sweet and delicious.  These taste great with coffee (I like mine for breakfast . . . I'm crazy like that).

These are the kind of shoes that would look great on my feet while sitting on a barstool . . .

Jean-Michel Cazabat via Barneys

. . . or kickin' some ass.  Whose ass, you may ask?  I have no idea.  I'm a lover, not a fighter, peeps!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A Baker I am Not: Day One

I've always had an inkling that baking probably wouldn't be my strong suit.  I like to throw random things in when I'm cooking, and I know that is frowned upon by those with mad baking skillz.  My inkling was proved correct when I attempted to make tasty treats for the peeps in the BF's office, and those treats exploded . . . all over my microwave.

Microwave Caramels
1/2 c. butter
1 - 1/8 c. brown sugar
Dash of salt
1/2 c. light corn syrup
1/2 c. plus 2 T. sweetened condensed milk
1/2 tsp. vanilla

In a large (and I mean large . . . mine was not large enough, hence the EXPLOSION) glass bowl, microwave the butter, brown sugar, and salt on high, for 1 minute.  Gradually blend in the corn syrup and condensed milk.  Then, microwave on high 10 minutes, stirring every 4 minutes until the caramel reaches the firm ball stage (245 degrees) . . . according to my mom (who gave me this recipe) I failed at this step.  My caramels probably needed another 2-4 minutes to reach that stage.  The explosion freaked me out, so I didn't allow them to ball . . . firmly.  Then, blend in vanilla. Pour the mixture into a well-buttered 9x9x2 pan.  Allow the caramel to cool thoroughly (I let mine set for a few hours).  Cut the caramel into small squares and wrap each square in plastic wrap or wax paper.   

The reason my caramel is misshapen and has holes is because of the lack of firm balling.  HA!  I'll definitely mind my caramels much more carefully (and not let them scare me) the next time around.

They may not have been firm enough, or perfectly shaped, but these taste GOOD.  Really good.  I was glad to send 3/4 of them to the BF's office so that I wouldn't turn into a caramel, myself.

If I were going to be spending the holiday entertaining people other than the BF and myself, I would spend the day wearing something fabulous under my apron and rocking these:

Tory Burch via Nordstrom

As it is, I'll be lounging around all day (and cooking) in my gumdrop jammies and slippers . . . 

. . . eating caramels.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Crockpot Lasagna

Normally I turn my nose up at recipes, like this one, where I am required to cook something before I put it in the crockpot because, as I've always understood it, crockpots are to be used when you are feeling entirely lazy and not at all in the mood to cook.

This recipe changed my mind about that, because it is SUPERB.

First, brown up a pound of ground beef, one medium onion, and 2 cloves of garlic, and season it with red pepper, salt, pepper, and oregano.  Then add one 28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes (or, if you prefer a chunkier lasagna, diced tomatoes).  Simmer for about 5 minutes, until slightly reduced, then remove from the heat.

In a separate bowl, combine 1 cup of ricotta with half a cup of mozzarella cheese and about 1 tablespoon of parsley.

In the bottom of a crockpot, lay out oven-ready lasagna noodles so they (basically) cover the surface (which often requires breaking the noodles into several ridiculous-looking pieces.  Do your best.).

On top of the noodles, place a thin layer of the beef and tomato mixture, then a good helping of the cheese mixture (basically you're going to want to divide the sauce and the cheese in thirds), then sprinkle with parmesan.

Then more noodles.

Then more sauce and cheese.

And more noodles.  And more sauce and cheese.  You get the idea.  You should have three layers of noodles, sauce, and cheese by the time all is said and done.  Cover, turn your crockpot on low, and let delicious, lasagna-y smells fill your home for the next 4-6 hours.

When all is said and done, the lasagna will be bubbly and thick and delicious . . .

. . . and not very pretty when you spoon it out to eat it.  But tasty nonetheless.  I promise.

Another day, another booty:

Dior via Nordstrom

My shoe choices are becoming as predictable as Arnie's tendency to pick her food up in her mouth and scatter it all over the dining room.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Stuffed Pork Loin and More Excuses

Once again . . . I'm the crappiest blogger in the history of blogs.  Seriously.  BUT!  I am happy to report that while I've been slacking off on the blog, lots of great things have been happening:
  1. I got great news that I can't share yet, but that I'm very excited about
  2. I've won TWO gift cards by answering meaningless trivia questions through the kickball league that the BF and I participate in
  3. I won a giveaway over at JC's Loft
  4. I won a giveaway over at style/SWOON
  5. and I'm off of work until 2011!!!!
If you ask me, that is a GREAT week!  And to top it off, the BF and I went to an awesome Christmas party on Wednesday, and we have another tonight (hence the lack of cooking, on my part).  OH!  And I planned a Christmas menu (and the BF planned a Christmas Eve menu)!  We're so productive!

Sorry to go on, peeps, sometimes it's just nice to reminisce about all of the lovelies that have made my week FABULOUS!  Earlier this week, I made a delicious stuffed pork loin that was so easy, I could hardly believe it.

First, cut open a piece (or two) of pork loin and sprinkle with celery salt, garlic powder, and pepper (I used about 2/3 of a pound of pork for the BF and I).

Then, layer the pork with a slice of provolone cheese, a slice (or two) of deli ham, and lots of fresh baby spinach.

Roll the pork up, jelly roll style, and either tie with kitchen twine or spear with small bamboo skewers (I think it's obvious which option I chose) and bake for about 20 minutes at 350.  After baking, let the pork sit for about 10 minutes before slicing.

and Voila!  Delicious, fancy-looking stuffed pork that is quick, easy, and healthy!

I got quite dressed up for Wednesday night's holiday fiesta, so I'm going a little more casual tonight:  jeans, sequins, and . . .

Fendi via Barneys.

Well, not THESE booties.  But I'll certainly be imagining wearing these while kickin' up my heels.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Baked Spinach & Artichoke Dip

Despite the fact that this weekend was completely devoid of good football (random bowl games and my poor, pitiful Bears getting trampled by stupid New England does good football make) the BF and I decided a tasty dip was in order.  I wanted to try a baked spinach and artichoke dip, since I'd never made one before, and it turned out awesome!

In a large bowl, combine:

12 oz. room temperature cream cheese (I used fat free)
1/2 cup mayo (I used fat free)
1/2 cup sour cream (again, I used fat free)
3/4 cup finely grated parmesan (to negate all of the fat free, above)
1 bag of frozen, chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1 12 oz. jar of marinated artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
red pepper, to taste (I used a couple of teaspoons)
3/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. white pepper
1 tsp. salt

Pour the mixture into a 9x9 pan, top with a sprinkling of mozzarella cheese, and bake at 325 for about 25 minutes.  The dip ends up hot, bubbly, cheesy, and DELICIOUS.  I served mine with tortilla chips and sliced pita.  This would also be excellent with veggies or french bread.  Yum!

Since I am working largely from home these days, buying fancy shoes seems pretty pointless.  In fact, I work out of the house 2 days this week, then I am off of work UNTIL 2011!  It's seems so weird that it's going to be 2011!

Image via Minnetonka

Almost anybody from the north country (at least the parts where I'm from) can go on and on about the fabulous-ness of Minnetonka and their moccasins and slippers.  These slippers would be perfect for traipsing around my home office, with the occasional trip outside . . .

. . . when we aren't lounging in front of the space heater, that is.