Monday, January 30, 2012

Chicken pot pie soup

Comfort.  We all want it at different times and for different reasons.

Maybe Mother Nature is blanketing the ground with snow (I wish), and it looks like it'll take the salt trucks a while before they can clear the roads.  It'd be best to stay inside where it's safe and warm... especially in that little nest of blankets you can make for yourself on the couch.

Or, you had a really rough day at work.  The kind that involves one too many deadlines and eating your sandwich with one hand while the other is clicking away at a spreadsheet.  "I'm skipping the gym and going straight home to change into sweats and relax," you say to yourself mid-afternoon.

Perfectly good reasons to drop everything and just be cozy and blissfully stress-free.  I'm sure you're thinking of a few of your own right now.  The bottom line is that we just want to feel good, safe, and at peace.

What was my most recent comfort-seeking moment?

Last week, when I found a single white hair on my very own 27 years young head. !!!!!  [cue ensuing panic attack]  I believe Liz Lemon said it best when she uttered, "Blerg!"

Friday, January 27, 2012

Restaurant review: Carmi's Family Restaurant

Hey, Pittsburghers and visitors of this glorious city!  Ever get a craving for down home Southern food?  I'm talking a deep yearning, must-have-it kind of hankering for soul food.

For me, the tiny little spark of curiosity turned into an all out fire after my trip to Savannah last spring.  I adhered to my cardinal rule of dining out: order something you won't or can't make at home.  It was the first time I'd ever tried collard greens, fried green tomatoes (with goat cheese... o.m.g.!), and black eyed peas.   They were all so good.  So good that I remember Laura and I eating lunch on our last day there and saying, "I'm not even hungry, and I definitely don't have any room in my stomach, but I'm going to eat this because it's so ----ing good and it'd be a crime to waste this food."  

Looking for that same potty mouth-inducing flavor, I've been on a hunt for traditional Southern cuisine in the area and haven't found much.  I really want to try my hand at some recipes in my own kitchen, but that adventure will have to wait because Laura discovered a little gem on the North Side of Pittsburgh that, lo and behold, specializes in Southern food!  Hooray for Carmi's Family Restaurant!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Roasted carrots & onions with goat cheese

While I don't admit to being an expert food photographer (looking to take a class this spring/summer, actually... all suggestions welcome!), I've learned a good bit over the past three years or so.  Do you want to hear the biggest lesson I've learned?

Some food is just not very pretty.  

Said food is verrrrry tricky to photograph, especially because food almost always looks better in person.  So, ugly food in person means super unattractive food in pictures.  Got that?

So, you can imagine my delight (dotted with audible squeals) when I made this side dish for dinner last night.  The shapes!  The colors!  The textures!  I was as happy as a clam just ogling at my dinner.

...that is an outright lie.  You know it, and I know it, too. I had to put fork to food to pie hole.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Caramelized Brussels sprouts

We're in the thick of winter (despite a reading of 57 on the thermometer two days ago...), and I'm desperately resisting the urge to make chicken pot pie and chili and lasagna every night of the week.  My taste buds would thank me, but my hips would tell no lies about what I'd been eating, especially when I'm choosing nesting on the couch over 20 more minutes at the gym.  I'm looking forward to a tax return shopping trip for some new, not enlarged, threads, thankyouverymuch.  And something had to give.

Monday, January 23, 2012

The best wedding advice ever

I had a series of wedding posts all typed up and ready to go.  And then, I realized, something was very wrong: the posts were naked!

Um, let me try that again.  

The posts had no pictures!

There, that sounds much better.  I do have a few great shots from friends and family, but we won't receive the sure-to-be amazing professional shots for another few weeks.  Since I want to make sure they are properly illustrated, I'm going to hold off on the wedding recaps.  But I'm dying to share a few more photos with you.  So, I'm going to do just that, along with the best bit of wedding advice I received.

A sneak peek of the dress:

Friday, January 20, 2012

Snowed in and baking!

TGIF!  Doing some baking this weekend for one very special bride-to-be's shower on Sunday (so excited!) and realized that this is the perfect wintry weekend for such an endeavor.

You're snowed inside, and the single digit temperatures make you realize there is no real need to leave the warmth of your home.  Might I suggest baking some cookies?

Here is the recipe for the best sugar cookies.

They are the best.  And all of you seem to agree -- it's  the 4th most visited post (thank you!) on here after almost three years.  Totally worth sharing again... especially with a snowy weekend ahead of us.

Why not stay inside and bake up some sweets, curl up on the couch, and succumb to the Princess Diaries/Wedding Crashers/NFL TV onslaught?  Yes, I think you should do just that.

Mazel Tov :)

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Cheeseburger pizza

Life, so I'm told, is full of highs and lows.  It's the latter that make some of us wish we could take a mulligan. A real-time do-over.  At 27, I'll readily admit that I don't have a big list of do-overs.  Maybe not wearing these giant glasses in 6th grade or tucking T-shirts into my mom jeans...

Or wearing a denim jumper at the age of 15.  Yikes, 15.  Thank you to anyone who was my friend at that unfortunate time.

But none of those things are truly regrets worthy of a do-over.  They are part of who I was and who I've become today.  The same could be said for the cheeseburger pie.  But, before I get to the ingredients, let me back up just a little.

You see, one summer in college, I shared a house with a good friend, Nick.  (Hi, Nick!)  Being the first time I'd lived out of my parents' house and college dorms, I had no kitchen goods or know-how.  Upon learning that I'd be on my own that summer, my sweet mother promptly took me out to buy pots, pans, and even a few cookbooks so I wouldn't starve or rely on pizza every night.

News flash: We ate pizza.  A lot.  Like, three times a week.  In our defense, it was a really hot summer and the house wasn't air-conditioned, so turning on the oven was simply not an option.  So, we'd come home from our student worker jobs, one of us with a pizza, and steal away to the basement where we'd feast and play Mario Kart on Gamecube for hours.  True story.  Sorry, Mom :)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Chocolate roulade

I've got some frightening news, lunchbox dessert enthusiasts.  You might want to sit down.  Are you ready for this?  

Hostess, the maker of Ho-Hos and Twinkies, has filed for bankruptcy.

Noooooooo!  Ho-Hos just may be my all-time favorite packaged dessert.  I'd beg my mom to pack one in my lunchbox for school.  It wasn't a daily treat, or even weekly, but when it was there, by golly, I was one very giddy girl.

As if this comes as any surprise to you, I took my Ho-Ho eating very seriously.  I was methodical like a surgeon -- a sugary mastermind! -- when it came to that chocolate-covered cake roll.  

First, I'd carefully peel off the hard chocolate, ends first, piece by piece. 

I'd next unroll the icing-filled cake as gingerly as possible.

Then, I'd eat that now-much-bigger "sheet" of chocolate cake topped with creamy icing, bite by bite, until the whole thing was gone.  

Maybe the whole ceremony was a bit bizarre looking back on it, but I can't judge my young self too much... because I'd probably still eat a Ho-Ho in the same manner today.  Old habits die hard :)

Older and a bit wiser, I got to thinking: since the whole reason for the unwrapping and unrolling was to make the cake last longer, why not make a bigger cake that'll last even longer?  And hey, since Hostess may not be around much longer, why not make it myself?  (You know I love my copycat treats.)

I give you the chocolate roulade!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Lemon salmon with lima beans

(title sung to the tune of "Country Roads" in case you'd like to join me)

Can you guess what I missed the most on our honeymoon?  If you said a full-sized bathroom or snow, you were so very close... but still not right.  It was even beyond a Katy-sized bathroom.  In other words, not a 6-foot-2-inches-tall Matt-friendly bathroom.

But, if you guessed cooking, you're spot on, friends.  I mean, the food on the cruise was faaaaaaahbulous, and I made sure to sample and enjoy every little morsel available to me.  Though for a foodie like me, it's not just the eating that gets my wheels turning.  It's the planning and creating (and even the cleaning) that rounds out the experience.

So, it should come as no surprise that the first thing I did when we got home we got to the airport was purchase the most recent issue of Food Network magazine.  Food!  Cooking at home!  ...where I have new pots and pans (I typed "pants" initially) to use!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The ultimate chicken enchiladas

It's high time that I post a recipe for you.  I mean, really.  Where do I get off not sharing a new one with you for almost two weeks?  Tsk tsk. 

But if there had to be a drought followed by the most glorious rainstorm, this is that rainstorm.  The first recipe of 2012.  Heck, it could be the last of the year, too.  That's right.  If you only make one recipe in 2012, make it this one.

Or, do what I did and make this as your last home-cooked meal in 2011 and freeze a small batch for your first home-cooked meal in 2012.  You know, when you've arrived home from your honeymoon and want to delay shopping for groceries as long as possible.

I normally love food and grocery trips, so I blame my momentary lapse on honeymoon brain.  It's dangerous... and probably napping by a pool somewhere.