27 September 2010

DANGEROUS DAYDREAMS








Loving the drop in temperature. Nothing better than shorts or capris with layers or a comfy sweater. Add sunglasses and flip flops and you have my perfect outfit. Without the flip flops. Because they kill my IT band and hence my right hip. I sometimes get by with flip flops for weeks on end, and then reality hits. Hard. My poor feet need arch support to keep everything in alignment. Boring. But true.

Sunshine and low 60s. Bliss. Invigorating. Gooses my need for creative outlet vs. the reality of economies necessary to ensure 5 glorious weeks in Europe later this Fall and Winter. Only a bit of slippage. One hallway rug, a few candles, and some serious Internet lust toward English rolled arm sofas, loveseats, and chairs.

I have to stay out of Restoration Hardware. Luscious. Impractical. Tempting. Expensive.

21 September 2010

SOFA LOVE

This loveseat is from Williams Sonoma Home

I'm thinking English Roll Arm style is just right for new upholstry pieces when I get a chance--hopefully in 2011.

20 September 2010

A CHANGE OF DIRECTION





Our rug did a 90˚ twist. For whatever reason I first thought it was too small to fit this way--my always preferred direction. After living with the other for a couple of days, I decided it was just wrong. CA concurs.





19 September 2010

CHANGING THINGS UP A BIT








It's time to replace the entry rug--past time, really. It's taken me awhile to decide on size and then to find something that I think I'm going to love. The old rug was larger--too large--and darker. I felt victorious when I originally found it. The price was right and the colors were right, and I liked the fit. And then, I didn't. Still nine years is a good run.

16 September 2010

FALL COOKING

Spinach Lasagna

I've gotten some of my mojo back as far as cooking, and thinking about and reading recipes. I attribute it to the break in the weather. This summer's heat did me in and changed my mind on whether I could live in Austin or Santa Fe and just stay inside during the heat of the day. That gets old and I get stale.

We've enjoyed a couple of old favorites and I've tweaked a couple of recipes for tonight--the spinach lasagna and marinara sauce. CA prefers red sauce with meat or an Alfredo with his spinach lasagna, but I am liking the marinara sauce's subtle basil flavor with the spinach lasagna. And, the sugar is a nice touch--probably because commercially prepared spaghetti sauce (which CA uses when he makes his version of bolognese) definitely has sugar added.


ACORN SQUASH
w/ WILD MUSHROOM-CRANBERRY STUFFING
[adapted from Bon Appetit, October 1995]

1-1/2 lb Acorn squash, halved lengthwise and seeded
1/2 Cup Dried cranberries or cherries
1/4 Cup Hot water
4 T. Butter, divided
4 oz. Fresh wild mushrooms, stemmed and chopped
1/4 Cup Onion, chopped
1 tsp. Dried sage, crumbled
1/2 Cup Fresh whole-wheat breadcrumbs
1/2 Cup Walnut halves, toasted and roughly chopped
Salt and pepper


1. Preheat over to 425 degrees.
2. Place squash cut-side down in 8x8x2 glass baking dish.
3. Cover dish tightly with plastic wrap.
4. Microwave on high 10 minutes.
5. Pierce plastic to allow steam to escape.
6. Uncover and turn squash halves cut side up.
7. Season with salt and pepper.
8. Combine cranberries and hot water in small bowl.
9. Melt 3 T. butter in heavy, medium sauce pan over
medium heat.
10. Add mushrooms, onion, and sage; saute until beginning to
soften, about 5 minutes.
11. Add breadcrumbs and stir until crumbs brown lightly,
about 3 minutes.
12. Mix in cranberries with soaking liquid.
13. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
14. Mix in toasted walnuts.
15. Mound stuffing into squash halves.
16. Dot with remaining 1 T. butter.
17. Bake until heated through and crisp on top,
about 10 minutes.

TOMATO-BACON and GOAT CHEESE PASTA SAUCE
4 - 6 slices Bacon, cut into 2" pieces
2 Shallots, peeled and chopped or
1/3 cup Red onion, finely chopped
2 lrg. Garlic cloves, minced
1  28 oz. can Tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1  6 oz. can Tomato sauce
2 T. Dried tarragon
1 T. Sugar
Red pepper flakes, to taste
1/2 lb. Pasta (I like rotini for this sauce.)
4 oz. Goat cheese

1. Cook pasta al dente, according to package directions.
2. Brown bacon, drain and reserve drippings.
3. Sauté onions in bacon drippings, stir in minced garlic.
4. Add tomatoes and tomato sauce, tarragon, sugar, and red pepper flakes.
Simmer until sauce thickens.
5. When pasta is al dente, stir goat cheese into hot, drained pasta.
6. Top pasta with sauce; sprinkle bacon bits over top.



SPINACH LASAGNA
1/2 lb. Lasagna noodles
1 T. Olive oil
1 tsp. Salt
2 cups Ricotta cheese
6 oz. Mozarella cheese, grated
2 oz. Parmesan cheese, grated
1 Egg
1 T. Parsley, chopped
1/2 tsp. Dried oregano
1/4 tsp. Pepper
1 tsp. Salt
2 - 3 cups Baby spinach

1. Bring water to a boil; add 1 tsp. salt and 1 T. olive oil.
2. Add 12 - 14 lasagna noodles and cook 10 - 12 minutes.
3. Meanwhile mix together cheeses, egg, parsley, oregano, salt, and pepper.
4. Overlap two noodles, top 1/3 cheese mixture, then 1/3 of baby spinach.
5. Repeat two more times, ending with three noodles on top layer.
6. Press down tightly into pan.
7. Sprinkle additional Parmesan on top, if desired.
8. Bake at 350˚ for 40 - 45 minutes or until cheese is bubbly.

NOTE: My current favorite lasagna pan is a 4-1/2" x 12" bread pan.


MY MARINARA SAUCE
2 T. Olive oil
1/2 cup Sweet onion, chopped.
2 lrg. Garlic cloves, minced
1  28 oz. can Tomatoes, peeled and chopped
2  6 oz. cans Tomato sauce
2 T. Dried tarragon
1 T. Dried oregano
1/2 cup Fresh basil, shredded
1 - 2 T. Sugar (Taste and adjust.)

1. Sauté onions in olive oil, stir in minced garlic.
2. Add tomatoes and tomato sauce, tarragon,oregano, basil, and sugar.
3. Taste and adjust seasonings.
4. Simmer until sauce thickens.
5. Taste and adjust seasonings.

14 September 2010

SH-H-H-H


I'm going to get my hair cut before we leave for Europe in November. CA won't like the idea, but he'll get used to it. I need a wash 'n wear style and I think this one will work.

13 September 2010

RETURNING HOME









A quick jaunt to Omaha framed our weekend very nicely. Time for lots of giggles and hugs and silliness with JA and LE. We just moseyed through our visit, eating whatever was easiest and living the good life.

LE has more words every day, and walks everywhere, all the time with her own special sashay... I think she's patented it. Life is exciting for LE and she's all bright-eyed and interested in every little detail. And, she showed off some serious booty shaking--shocking her parents and entertaining her grandparents.


video

JA did some impressive drumming and some dance party strumming on both his blue guitar and his red bass.

A fun family weekend, just being together and passing the time.

07 September 2010

IS IT SOUP YET?

Can't help myself--the cooling nights have sparked my interest in comfort food. And, there's always cilantro left after a recipe and this time I decided to find a way to use it.

CHICKEN CHILI
adapted from Bon Appetit January 1994
[4 Servings]

3 cups Chicken stock
1 medium Onion, chopped
1 lrg Sweet red pepper, chopped
1-4 oz can Green chilies, drained
4 cloves Garlic, crushed and chopped
2 T Chili powder
1-15 oz can Cannellini beans, drained
3 - 4 Boneless chicken breast halves cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 cups Cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup Red onion, diced

1. Saute onions, red pepper pieces, and garlic in olive oil until softened.
2. Add chopped green chilies and continue to saute.
3. Stir in chili powder until veggies are coated.
4. Pour in chicken stock and bring to a medium simmer.
5. Add chicken breast pieces, stir and continue to simmer until chicken is almost cooked.
6. Stir in cannellini beans and continue to simmer about 10 minutes.
7. Stir in red onions and cilantro. Simmer 5 minutes more.
Top with sliced green onions, sour cream, and/or grated cheese and serve.

06 September 2010

PASTA THAT MIGHT KILL YOU

It's the butter, baby. Deadly.

Back in May while vacationing in Virginia Beach, I took rabid notes on entrees we enjoyed and menu items that intrigued, figuring I could suss out techniques and recipes with Google.

Tonight I recreated the pasta I enjoyed so much at Mahi Mah's--Squash Ravioli Primavera. Caputo's had some pumpkin ravioli on offer, so I substituted that for the Butternut Squash Ravioli from Mahi Mah's. A very credible substitution. Nothing lost, though I might make up a batch of homemade sometime in the future.

CA helped in the final stages of prep while I emulsified butter into the lemon juice/white wine/shallot mixture to create a flawless Beurre Blanc sauce. Tah-dah!

(On review, I realize I forgot the mushrooms, so next time...)

Here's how it goes:

SQUASH RAVIOLI PRIMAVERA 
(serves 2 generously)
based on entrée from Mahi Mah's, Virginia Beach, VA

16 oz. Pumpkin or Butternut Squash Ravioli
2 T. Sweet butter
2 cloves Garlic, smashed and finely chopped
1/2 cup Sweet peas, thawed
1 small Zucchini, thinly sliced (about 12 rounds)
1 small Yellow squash, thinly sliced (about 12 rounds)
5 Button mushrooms, thickly sliced
5 halves Sun-dried tomatoes, slivered
Beurre Blanc Sauce
Fresh Parmesan, grated

1. Bring tall pot of lightly-salted water to a boil.
2. Lightly sauté garlic with Zucchini and Yellow squash rounds. Stir in thawed peas.
3. Remove from flame and toss in sun-dried tomato pieces. Set aside.
4. When water is boiling, add ravioli to pot and cook about 6 minutes--
cut off a corner of the pasta to check for al dente.
5. Drain pasta and divide into two or three serving bowls.
6. Divide vegetable mixture between the servings and gently toss the
ravioli until coated with the butter and liquid from the veggies.
Keep in a warm place while preparing Beurre Blanc Sauce.

LEMON-SHALLOT BEURRE BLANC SAUCE
1/2 Lemon, juice only
1/3 cup Dry white wine
1 med. lrg. Shallot, finely diced
1/4 cup Heavy cream
9 - 10 T Sweet cream butter, cut into 1 T. pieces
Salt and white pepper


Working quickly:
1. In a saucepan over medium high heat, stir together lemon juice and white wine.
2. Add the diced shallots and stir and watch closely until reduced by half.
3. Stir in heavy cream and continue stirring with whisk until sauce-like consistency.
4. Begin adding butter one chunk at a time, whisking constantly until butter
is melted and blended into sauce.
5. Continue emulsifying butter into sauce until all is added.
6. Add just a bit of salt and pepper into the sauce, and pour immediately
over the pasta mixture, dividing equally.
7. Top with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
8. Serve immediately. Sauce cannot be re-warmed as the butter will separate.

BON APPÉTIT

photo by Victoria Wilde for NY Times

Chef Daniel Rose in his soon-to-be completed kitchen at Spring restaurant.

Buying anniversary cards is increasingly difficult as the years accumulate. I mean, what can an anonymous jingle writer say that resonates with a loving and stable couple of 41+ years? And, we tend to neglect gift giving in exchange for saving funds for our travels.

So, for today--our 41st wedding anniversary--my gift to CA is this link. He's a fan of Daniel Rose and counts our dining experience at the original Spring as one of his favorite travel memories.

I love you CA! Bon Appétit.

03 September 2010

DAYLIGHT DREAMING



For what ever reason (!) I could not get to sleep last night until after 1:00am... And, my cellphone alarm is set at 5:15am with no chance of hitting the snooze button--yoga is at 6:00am and I have to allow a minimum of 30 minutes for the drive.

6:00am yoga is way too prahna yama for me, but it's the only class on Fridays and the instructor is one of the very best. He starts us off very gently, allowing our bodies to adjust very gradually, but there's always a challenge buried in before the hour is over. Why, oh why can't his class be a 9:15am class, or at least sometime north of 7:00am. I love how he describes yoga as Simon Says for grown-ups.

So, with something less than 4  hours of sleep and after 1-1/2 hours at the gym, when I arrive home (even after coffee) I need a nap. Can't help it. It just has to happen.

The good news is that during my dream time I visit The Pioneer Woman's ranch. Yep! I'm a special guest along with 6 or 8 others. There's a bit of cooking and also an engagement party or wedding reception (with tons more guests) for PW's daughter (who in reality is something like 13 years old!). There's definitely some dressing up and some last minute cleaning and cooking, and a frenzied PW.

I remember being in a line to get into the reception room. There are just too many people and too much noise and I'm tired, so I insinuate myself into the VIP line. When I get beyond the barrier I'm judged by those already there as a line jumper and an intruder, so I take a nap on a lovely couch. Soon, I'm enlisted to clean up the floor and dish wash some huge and ungainly pots (still in my lovely party dress).

There's some kind of funky latex surgical glove-udder-tubing thing on the floor and I shriek and throw it back under the stove. The PW is racing around, and eventually I catch on that I've neglected to pay her for the privilege of staying at her ranch. Another late-arriving guest asks straight out what the rate is--it's $88 for the two nights. In preparation for her saying, "no charge" he's placed two $100 bills in a thank you card, but she absolutely refuses the second $100.

I try to cover my ignorance--bluff my way by saying my checkbook is in my purse and I'd planned to pay later. PW's cool, and also very busy running to and fro.

Next we're sizing up our accommodations and someone (not me because I did wash the floor and some heavy pots) is given a pillow, a sheet, and a couple of blue blankets to sleep on the dining room table.

I remember the appetizers were very lovely.

02 September 2010

ALL GROWN UP


August 2010


December 2007

JA started school today. His first day of pre-school. We were all wondering if he was up for it. He was! No tears. Two-and-a-half hours of school with new friends and teachers. Teddy stayed inside the backpack.

We're very proud. Not new information, but time flies! I'm afraid I'll blink and be at his high school graduation. Sigh...