Friday, May 29, 2009

Posh Nosh

This BBC series is fantastic! This eposide is about leftovers. I love when she says, "that's so Jessica!"

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Sexy Six Sigma Dinner Party #1

It's a silly name, but some of my girlfriends from work and I (six of us) have started a monthly supper club. This was technically our second gathering, but since it is the first I am writing about lets go with #1. We had dinner together on Wednesday evening with grand plans to break in the Di Salvo's (AKA Bones and Gui Gui) new gorgeous patio. Well the Cleveland weather, in typical fashion, had other ideas, so we ate inside and admired what a beautiful new patio they put in - even soaking wet.

Bones is quite the hostess. We started the evening with delicious sangria. Here is her recipe, adapted from Bobby Flay or "Bobby Filet" as some may say ;)

Red Sangria

3/4 cup simple syrup, equal parts sugar and water
2 bottles red wine (Bones used their own homemade wine)
3/4 cup blackberry brandy
1/2 cup triple sec
3/4 cup orange juice
2 oranges, sliced into thin round
2 green apples, cored and sliced thin
2 lemons, sliced into thin rounds

1 pint blackberries

Boil water + pour over sugar to dissolve. Cool. Combine all ingredients in a large pitcher and refrigerate, covered, 2 hours or up to 2 days. Serve over ice.

Our first course was whole artichokes with olive oil, s&p, and olive oil. Bones found the largest artichokes I have ever seen. They were so good!

First course

The second course was rigatoni with Bones homemade red sauce and chicken cacciatore. The red sauce is a Di Salvo family recipe and the chicken recipe came from Giada De Laurentiis. To the left is Bean and the pasta.

I had been wanting to make an Ice Box Cake for awhile now and I thought a girls night would be the perfect occasion. The recipe(s) come from Smitten Kitchen. An Ice Box cake is when you layer cookies and whip cream into the shape of a cake. Then let it sit in the fridge overnight and the cookies begin to soak in the cream and soften. The next day the cake can be sliced like a real cake and the result was pure awesome. Here is the ice box cake recipe. If you can find the Nabisco Chocolate wafers that it calls for, this cake will take about 10 minutes to make. If you cannot (and I could not) than making your own wafer cookies with her recipe really isn't hard, just time consuming for the numerous batches. Above is Bones and the yummy yummy cake. The dinner party was big hit and I am eagerly awaiting our June date at Bean and G-Bone's house!

A little slice of heaven!

Go go gadgets and the Gals go to Washington

Last week I started playing around with the Mac some more (see photo booth pics in previous post) and it is so much fun. I opened up iMovie and was inspired to buy a video camera. I did some quick googling and decided on the Flip. It is super cute, ultra-portable, and every review emphasized how easy it is to use. It was on sale at Micro Center, the salesman was nice, and pretty soon I was on my way home with a super fun new gadget. I took some short snippets of video connected it to the computer (it has a built in USB to charge and upload) and the videos were uploaded in about 1 min. I played around with iMovie and I had edited a video with music and titles in about 15 min. This thing is going to be so much fun!! It is hard to tell from this picture, but it is smaller than my cell phone.

I was a little overzealous with the taping this weekend, so stay tuned for a video on our trip to DC. The trip itself was a lot of fun. On Saturday, my cousin Jason graduated from Corcoran School of Art and Design. The graduation was downtown at the DAR Constitution Hall and to our pleasant surprise, Tim Gunn was the commencement speaker!! I love him. Afterwards, there was a reception and All Senior Exhibition at the Corcoran Art Gallery where we got to meet Tim and take pics! And of course check out all the art work by Corcoran's talented seniors.

Sisters with Tim

After dinner we went to the Old Ebbitt Grill for dinner. My aunt mentioned to the waiter that I wrote a food blog and I'm pretty sure he thought I was an actual food critic. I wish buddy.
On Sunday, we spent the afternoon at my cousin Joelle's to visit with her 3 1/2 year old son Kenny and her 2 month old daughter Audrey.

Kenny and Mom

Beautiful Family
(Audrey is crying cuz the crazy lady with the video camera is leaving)

My sisters and I did some sight seeing in the afternoon and then in the evening we had a birthday party for my Uncle Dave and saw some more of Jason's art. It was great to spend the weekend celebrating with family!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

First Guest Post - Mini Soft Pretzels from Ruby

I would like to introduce my very first guest blogger, Ruby, hurray! Ruby is a long-time friend, neighbor and my favorite food partner! She has shared many wonderful recipes with me and now its your turn. Enjoy!

I am so excited to be doing a guest post on Food'N'Such! Like Molls I love to cook and try new recipes, but yeast is one ingredient I am always kind of scared to use. What if it doesn’t rise the way it's supposed to? What if I don't knead it long enough or too long? I have been wanting to make my own soft pretzels for awhile since they are my favorite junk food to buy when I am at a sporting event. I finally decided to try making them for the game this past Friday. The bf and I were having people over our apartment to watch the game so I thought it would be the perfect opportunity. I used a Bobby Flay recipe on the Food Network's website.

I made some changes to the recipe so the recipe listed below is the one I followed. I decided not to make the cheese sauce listed with the recipe since I didn’t feel like roasting my own peppers, but I plan to make it next time. I just bought a bar of chili con queso (yum) and made the mustard listed below, which was awesome and the bf and I are using it on turkey sandwiches this week. The recipe online is for using a stand mixer, which I do not own, so I kneaded the dough by hand. Also I made 16 mini soft pretzels instead of 8 large ones.
They turned out fabulous! I just need to practice my pretzel shaping skills.


Mustard Sauce:
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1/4 cup whole-grain mustard
Honey, to taste

Soft Pretzels:
1 1/2 cups warm water
2 tablespoons light brown muscovado sugar (I used regular light brown sugar)
1 package active dry yeast
3 ounces unsalted butter, melted
2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
4 1/2 to 5 cups all-purpose flour
Canola oil
3 quarts water
3/4 cup baking soda
2 whole eggs, beaten with 1 tablespoon cold water
Coarse sea salt

For the Mustard Sauce:
Whisk together the mustards and honey, to taste, until combined. Let sit at least 30 minutes before serving.

For the Soft Pretzels:
Line 2 half sheet pans with parchment paper and spray liberally with non-stick spray.
Combine the water, sugar, yeast, and butter in a bowl and mix until combined. Let sit for 5 minutes. Combine salt and flour in a large bowl and make a well in the center. Add yeast mixture and mix with wooden spoon until dough is combined. Knead on a floured surface for 7-8 minutes, until dough is smooth. If the dough appears too wet, add additional flour, 1 tablespoon at a time. After dough is smooth, knead into a ball with your hands.

Oil a bowl with canola oil, add the dough and turn to coat with the oil. Cover with a clean towel or plastic wrap and place in a warm spot until the dough doubles in size, about 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Bring the water to a boil in a small roasting pan over high heat and add the baking soda. (Add the baking soda a little at a time since it really foams up!)

Remove the dough from the bowl and place on a flat surface. Divide the dough into 16 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a long rope measuring 12 inches and shape: take the right side and cross over to the left. Cross right to left again and flip up. Boil the pretzels in the water solution, 4 at a time for 30 seconds, splashing the tops with the warmed water using a spoon. Remove with a large flat slotted spatula or a spider. Use a paper towel to dab off any excess water. Place 8 pretzels on each baking sheet, brush the tops with the egg wash and season liberally with the salt. Place into the oven and bake for 15 to 18 minutes until golden brown. If baking both sheets at once, rotate sheets halfway through baking so pretzels brown evenly (I did not do this and the batch on the top rack was much darker!)

Remove to a baking rack and let rest 5 minutes before eating. Dip into desired sauces. These are best eaten the day they're made, the leftovers got a little soggy the next day.

These look awesome, I can't wait to try this recipe. Thanks again for posting Ruby!!!

Hi brother.

A post and possibly a video from my weekend in DC is to come. In the mean time, here is one of my brother's youtube videos. He did the animation to the "Sax Man" by Jack Black and Lonely Island. He also has over 30 episodes of his own show called "Chardon", a South Park parody. He is pretty clever. Check out his stuff - andrewdude1 - on YouTube. Enjoy!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Baked Tilapia and Asparagus with Poached Egg

After getting reacquainted with my kitchen on Tuesday night, I was ready to attempt a full meal on Thursday. I opted for a light and summery menu, to match the absolutely gorgeous weather. Unfortunately I could only fully open the blinds in my apartment to enjoy the day's sun. I love living downtown but I really really wish I had a deck or patio to eat dinner outside on or have a small grill.

I bought some tilapia filets and found this simple and fresh recipe on the food network website. It is a relatively healthy recipe from the Deen Brothers (of course there is still butter involved) and it is nothing earth-shattering, but CC liked it!! This is a miracle because he claims to hate fish. However, I am slowly convincing him that he likes it.

Baked Tilapia

Butter cooking spray
4 (6 to 8-ounce) tilapia fillets
Salt and freshly cracked black pepper

1 lime, finely grated zest and juice (I used lemon cuz that's what I had)
2 tablespoons butter

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Coat a large cast iron pan with a nonstick butter spray. Rinse fish and pat dry; place on the prepared baking sheet. Season each fillet with salt, cracked pepper, lime zest and lime juice. Add fish to the pan. Place a pat of butter on each fillet and cook in the oven for 8 to 12 minutes.

That white blob on the asparagus is a poached egg. It is no where near as pretty as the one in the picture from Martha Stewart Living, but I was just happy it came out well. I watched this video by Alton Brown and it was really quite simple: instructional video on how to poach an egg. The Asparagus and poached egg recipe came from Martha via The Bitten Word. I somehow managed to mess up the asparagus (what should have been the simplest part of the meal) by not rinsing it properly and it tasted like it had been rolled in sand. But I learned my lesson, trial and error, right?

Dinner was finished with chocolates from Lilly's. These beautiful handmade chocolates have the most exotic and surprising flavors. Tonight we shared The Southern Gentlemen- Makers Mark bourbon. milk chocolate. buttered pecans. and the Mike - neuskes bacon. organic maple syrup. milk chocolate. Ooh yummy yummy.

Fun with Photo Booth Application:

Drinking wine in my apron

I get vicious if you come near my wine or chocolate

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

What I'm Eating this Week: My gradual re-introduction to the Kitchen

I've been eating out a lot over the last week or so. When I came home on Sunday night and looked around the kitchen all I could do was wince. The fridge was smelly and empty and the pantry was completely devoid of inspiration. I was getting into a rut. I needed an old favorite. Something easy, healthy, and of most of all tasty. But I'm leaving again this weekend, so I don't want to be stocking up on perishables.

At the store last night I remembered a staple dish that I have made a dozen times, a dozen ways, and for a dozen different occasions. It is fast and always a crowd pleaser: individual size pizzas. Here is the version I made last night and some suggestions for other ingredients. I have to thank Blaze cuz she got me started on this.

Whole Wheat Tortilla or Pita
Pizza sauce (I found some in a convenient squirt bottle)
Spices - I used truffle salt, Italian spice grinder, and red pepper flakes
Turkey pepperoni
fat free shredded mozzarella
a few shaves Parmesan cheese

Other Options:
chicken sausage, banana peppers, roasted red peppers, fresh basil or herbs, a bbq chicken version with scallions, fresh tomatoes, a turn of olive oil, very adventurous - an egg

Bake on a baking sheet or pizza stone for about 10 min at 300 - 350 degrees - just until the cheese is melted. How simple is that? I made one for dinner, and one for lunch today.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Mountain Momma

People love to make fun of West Virginia. I think even more than people love to make Cleveland the butt of jokes, people love to make fun of the "rednecks" and "white trash" in WV. Not that this isn't completely unfounded, but I wouldn't write off the whole state just yet. My grandfather was born and raised in Parkersburg, WV, and to put it mildly, he was the complete opposite of a redneck. He lived most of his life in Westerville, Ohio, but he always considered himself from WV and we laid him to rest near his family there in November.

My family went down to Parkersburg on Friday night for the internment of my grandmother's ashes on Saturday morning. When I told people I was going to WV for the weekend, most people looked at me like I said I was going to spend the weekend in rolling in mud (that's what I did in Nashville people). We stayed in the beautiful Blennerhassett Hotel pictured above. Though we were there for somber reasons, it turned out to be a really lovely weekend. If you are looking for a romantic get away that is only 3 hours from Cleveland, I would highly recommend Parkersburg.

The restaurant in the hotel, Spats, had excellent food. We started with the Stuffed Button Mushrooms - Button Mushrooms filled with Sundried Tomatoes, Prosciutto, Fontina and topped with Japanese Breadcrumbs. Then I had the iceburg salad (it was ho-hum) and for entree, Filet Mignon - Chargrilled and served with an Applewood Bacon, Wild Mushroom and Bourbon Demi-Glace. I bet that's not what you expected me to eat in WV! And we got sweet deal - the room was $169 a night but it came with $100 gift card to the hotel that we used for dinner. Such a deal!

Sunday morning was the Rite Aid Cleveland Marathon. We went down to watch the full marathoners and half marathoners who split right in front of my building. My sister, the Brown Bean (middle below), ran the half. It was a beautiful day, perfect running weather, and it was great to see Cleveland full of some so many healthy people! Congrats to all the runners!

Friday, May 15, 2009

What I'm Eating this Week

I have done absolutely no cooking this week. I somehow planned a year's worth of dinner and lunch dates all in one week and it has been fantastic! So What I've been Eating this week is out. I have had sushi three of the past four nights, and all half price! Believe it or not, it has been an affordable and healthy week. But I miss my teeny tiny kitchen.
It has been so wonderful catching with friends! Corny alert: They are the best things in life and I am lucky to have so many wonderful ones in my life!!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Steeplechase Weekend

I was so tired after such an amazing weekend in Nashville, that I am just starting to feel back to normal today - on Wednesday! And I had to drink my first latte in a few weeks to get there. Then I looked up the nutritional information for Starbucks, and let me tell you I am NOT happy. A tall (that means the smallest one for any non-Starbucks'ers) non-fat latte, totally plain latte with skim milk is 100 calories! And a grande - what I used to be drinking on a regular basis is 160 calories!! Maybe everyone knows this, but I am just shocked. I am gonna stick with the tea - I never should have doubted the tea.

So speaking of calories, did everyone watch the finale of Biggest Loser?? I have a love hate relationship with this show because every season I watch the contestants start out so big and by the finale, most are in way better shape than me and look so amazing. And then I get a lot jealous and feel ashamed that I cannot lose 15 pounds. But who has 8 hours a day to work out? I can barely manage 2 hours a week (due to laziness, not busy-ness). But congrats to Helen and Jerry - you are both old and now look like you have an eating disorder. But Tara looked damn good. And last season Heba looked damn good. I just hope they can all maintain it. I saw that one former-winner guy on Oprah and he fell off the wagon BIG time.

The weekend in Nashville went by way too fast, but it was so fun to see some of my roommies! Blaze and her family hosted myself, Snickerdoodle, and Monk and they really know how to show us a good time. Saturday we went to the Steeplechase horse race. It had rained for like 10 straight days in the Nash and was storming on Saturday morning, so you can just imagine the mud. All the stores in town were sold out of wellies, so we opted to go au naturale. It was like a Southern, preppy Woodstock - the Nash paper called it Bonnaroo with seersucker. Here is us gals having a tent party!!

Our day was spent drinking, dancing to poker face, playing in the mud, and watching the occasional horse run by. I think this video sums it up pretty well (sorry for my singing):

Our cocktail for the day was an Arnold Palmer. The South rules and they have Sweet Tea flavored vodka. Mixing this with some lemonade is heavenly and dangerous, cuz it don't taste nothin' like alcohol, y'all. If you are flying south this summer, I highly recommend you pick up a bottle of the Firefly Sweet Tea vodka seen below (and be cautious crossing state lines).

Thank you Rochford Family and my favorite dog Happy! You showed us some true Southern Hospitality!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

What I'm Drinking this Week

This picture pretty much sums up this post, but in my effort to cut back on coffee (haven't even had a cup in 2 weeks - crazy!) I have been drinking citrus oolong tea this week. It is loose leaf, hence the need for that tea ball (not the official name for whatever that thing is). It is available at Whole Foods and I love it!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Spring Cleaning

Something about spring just makes me want to improve everything in my life. This is turning out to be a pretty expensive season for me between dieting (kombucha is pricey), teeth whitening, and new computer purchase, but it just feels right. On Sunday I bought my first computer since the enormous desktop I got my freshman year of college and I am now a Mac! (suck it PC) It is so cute, I feel so Carrie Bradshaw. Unfortunately, this post does not come from the new Mac since I am chained to my work computer about 80% of my life (damn still on PC).

CC has been house hunting and I think I caught the bug cuz last night I decided to go car shopping. I love my mustang, but it is two doors and not practical in the winter, so I convinced myself I was ready to make the hybrid switch. I test drove the new Honda Insight and then drove the Prius to compare. Both are adorable and wonderful for the earth! But then I talked to my dad who said it is probably better for the earth to keep driving the car I have that has already been manufactured and since I hardly drive (I fill up about once a month) it doesn't make much sense for me to buy now. He said he hated to be a "Debby Downer", haha, but he was right.

Maybe its the diet and maybe its the weather, but I have just been in a great mood! I'm really loving spring.

On Saturday, I headed to my hometown for the Maple Festival with CC and Rae Rae. There are a few things I have to do every year at the festival: 1. Get a maple stir (I wish I had made mine a double) 2. Drink some maple cocktails 3. Eat carnie food (I made turkey burgers beforehand to resist the temptation of steak on a stick and elephant ears) 4. Eat maple cotton candy 5. Do some serious people watching - crazy characters come out for this thing.

Rae Rae has the in's at the festival, so we were handed maple cocktails at every stop - they are divine! Here is the recipe, I highly recommend you buy some REAL maple syrup (preferably from Geauga County) and mix yourself up 1 or 10:

Maple Cocktail

Recipe for individual servings
3/4 oz. pure maple syrup
3/4 oz. dry gin
1 oz. lemon juice
1 oz. bourbon
Shake over ice and splash with 50/50, sprite or lemonade.

Sunday night CC and I went to the House of Blues to see James Morrison perform. He is amazing live! His opening act, Diane Birch, was also amazing. House of Blues was the perfect venue for their show because their music and band styles have so much southern, blues, gospel influence. Oooh, I just love it! I took some videos to share, but the sound didn't come out well, sorry.

Friday night I had another musical encounter. I was at Corner Alley for a Junior Achievement Bowl-A-Thon with work. We got there around 4:30 and the only people bowling were four guys who were clearly not from Cleveland. It turns out it was Ryan Cabrera and Josh Kelley! They were in town to also play at House of Blues that night, but wanted to do some bowling beforehand. Josh (aka Mr. Katherine Heigel) was so friendly and kept inviting us to the show. Ryan didn't say much - maybe his purple skinny jeans were too constricting.

I was lovin the Cleve after such a great weekend with celebrity sightings and all until I got a warning on Monday morning about jay walking in front of my building. I think the cop was actually having a hard time keeping a straight face when telling me to go up a block to use the crosswalk. Which I guess is good, but maybe they should be a little more concerned with the crime wave of car break-ins we have had in our parking lot, you think???

Friday, May 1, 2009

Road Trip!

I’m taking the blog on the road! Over the next month I have some exciting travels planned, and hopefully lots of good (and healthy) eats along the way.

First stop – 40 minutes east of Cleveland to my hometown, Chardon, Ohio. Ok, so this doesn’t really count as much of a trip, but go with me on this. This weekend is the Chardon Maple Festival! The trees have been tapped, the sap has been boiled, and there are carnies and muzzies to behold on Chardon Square. I highly recommend you make the trip and head to the sugar shack to get a maple stir. Check out the website for the full festival schedule - highlights include the karaoke, bath tub races, two parades, and Ham Ham Ham!

My next stop is Nashville, TN for a reunion weekend with some of our college roomies! Our hostess Blaze is taking us to the Steeplechase horserace which is always an amazing day of drinking in pretty dresses and big hats (and seeing an occasional horse run by). Anytime I am with the roomies there is always plenty of eating involved, so hopefully I will have a few recipes to share. One thing I know for sure, my stomach will hurt from laughing so much after a weekend with them!

The third weekend in May I am headed down to Parkersburg, WV for the interment of my grandmother’s ashes. She passed away in November and we have waited for the ground to thaw a bit so we can lay her to rest next to grandpa. It will be nice to see out of town family again and we are staying at the beautiful Blennerhassett Hotel. As grandpa would say, “Three cheers for West Virginia!”

The last stop in my travels is over Memorial Day weekend in Washington DC. My cousin Joelle had a baby girl named Audrey Meredith on March 19 and my other cousin Jason is graduating from the Corcoran College of Art and Design! We have much to celebrate in the DC area and only a few short days to do it.

P.S I forgot to mention in my last post that I have also really been enjoying the Kashi TLC bars that Giuliani recommended. Pumpkin Spice Flax is my favorite!