Monday, January 31, 2011

Spinach and White Bean Stew

Nom nom nom...
Winter is the best time for soups and stews.  This one is perfectly wonderful; can be thickened or thinned to your liking, making it a great addition to your recipe repertoire.  I made it pretty thick, in order to spread it on a thick piece of country bread and a poached egg (yum!).  There was no chard in the veggie section up here, so I used a mix of collard greens, turnip greens and spinach.  The egg yolk from the egg makes the stew rich, while the tomato and beans lend it a great texture.  Of course, I found this delicious recipe on Smitten Kitchen; check it out!


Friday, January 28, 2011


Cropped cardigan: Urban Outfitters
Shirt: Anthropologie
Jeans: Gap
Shoes: Converse
Necklace: H&M
Confession time: the vast, vast majority of our friends in DC think of John Paul and I as "the old people."  We go to bed pretty early, we eat at home a lot, blah blah blah.  We're in our mid-20s, guys!  In an attempt to show them that we can stay out with the best of them, John Paul and I went to see a midnight showing of Aliens last Saturday night.
1. Midnight is really late to see a movie.  We didn't get home until 3, then had to take Mia out.  Jeez, being young is REALLY exhausting!
2. I can stay up later than John Paul (he fell asleep about 30 minutes into the film.  Don't worry, it was just a quick cat nap!).
3. Aliens is a really fun, goofy movie!  Seriously.  Go see it on the big screen if you can.
Anyway, this outfit was perfect for a late date night. 

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Thai Beef Noodle Bowl

 As much as I enjoy eating Asian food, the majority of the time, the recipes involve wayyy too many sauces and spices that are used for that one meal.  It's frustrating to search high and low for something to use very seldom;y, so I was thrilled when Summer passed this meal on to me. 
I would feel bad about having two pictures for this post, but this recipe is SO easy that it doesn't require a lot of work.  There's a very minimal amount of prep involved, and only six ingredients.  They're easy to find in a grocery store, and relatively inexpensive.  Perfect for a mid-week dinner!

Thai Beef Noodle Bowl
1 lb. boneless sirloin
1 Tbsp cooking oil
3 14oz cans beef broth (
1/3 cup peanut sauce
1 1/2 cup medium egg noodles
2 cups broccoli florets
Brown meat.  Add broth and peanut sauce and bring to a boil.  Add noodles; simmer 4 minutes.  Add broccoli florets, bring back to boil and then simmer 4 minutes.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Watch Pushing Daisies!

There aren't enough words to describe how much I love the aesthetic and storyline of this sadly cancelled TV gem.  Pushing Daisies aired from October 2007 to June 2009, for a total of 22 episodes over two seasons.  
What a cool concept for a show, though: Ned has the ability to bring things back to life with his touch.  There's a catch, though.  If the dead thing he touched stays alive for more than a minute, something else dies in its place, and, if he touches that thing again, it stays dead forever.  Kind of weird, but it's well-explained in the first episode.  He uses this ability to solve forensic crimes with a partner, Emerson Cod, a P.I.  Ned brings the dead people back to life, questions them about their deaths, and he and Emerson collect the reward money.  When he's not solving crimes, he bakes pies at his shop, The Pie Hole.
Olive Snook is in love with Ned.  Ned is in love with Chuck, the childhood sweetheart he brought back to life after her unfortunate murder.  Because he's touched her once, he can't touch her again without killing her.  Chuck loves Ned, too, but sometimes feels uncomfortable with their situation.  Lily and Vivian are Chuck's agoraphobic aunts that Ned and Olive stay in touch with.  
The look of the show is bright, mostly to juxtapose the macabre plot.  Everyone wears lots of summery colors and florals, the Pie Hole roof looks like a pie crust (see above photo), and the dialogue is quirky and fun to hear.  
I bring this up because I recently purchased both seasons of Pushing Daisies, and can't stop watching the series.  It's just such a pick-me-up during the dreary month of January in DC!  Maybe your local library has the series on DVD, or you can watch a few episodes online.  However you choose to check out the show, I highly recommend sitting through the pilot.  You'll be hooked after that.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Hello Yellow

Dress and Scarf: Anthropologie
Sweater: Gap
Belt: H&M
Shoes: Nine West
Earrings: Lou Lou c/o Christina (thanks!!)
Everything in this outfit was on sale for $20 or less.  Yes, I'm totally bragging about that.  While I love clothing, I also love not being broke while (hopefully) looking good.  It's very, very rare that I purchase an item full price; retail has so much turnover,  that if you just wait 2-3 weeks, you can get a better deal on what you love. 
Also, I'm having a bit of difficulty wearing jewelry as of late.  Obviously, this big ol' rock on my left hand is a lot of bling to work with on a daily basis without looking gaudy.  These earrings are perfect because they have little rhinestones in all of the flowers, which correspond to the ring.  I love them!


Monday, January 24, 2011

Lime Yogurt Cake with Berry Sauce

Last Tuesday marked the 5-year anniversary of me and John Paul as a couple!  January is always a hard time to celebrate with desserts; we're inevitably trying to eat less junk because we splurged in December, and (forgive me for what I'm about to say) chocolate is becoming less and less appetizing.  When I saw this cake on Smitten Kitchen, I knew it was the perfect compromise.
You see, there's no butter in this cake.  Yes, there is a bit of vegetable oil, but most of the moisture comes from yogurt.  I used full-fat Greek yogurt, which is more tart than traditional recipes, and can be used as a substitute for sour cream in other meals.  The sauce that's paired with the cake uses a minimal amount of sugar, allowing the sweetness to come from the berries.
This cake actually survived four days with us, and the sauce was used on top of the leftover yogurt, and drizzled on top of toast with peanut butter.  It was completely lovely; I think you should make it today!

Friday, January 21, 2011

New favorite house things!

Our new home is slowly, but surely, coming together!  John Paul and I have been living together for three and a half years, and already have a lot of stuff we love.  This time around, we're taking our time and getting pieces we love and will stand the test of time.
Since we moved in, we've received some lovely gifts and filled in space with stuff we've owned for a while.  Want to see some of my favorites?
Cute umbrella stand from Mom for Christmas.  It's in the foyer, and perfectly adorable!

 The bookshelves above the TV in the living room are now totally full of colorful books, and stacks of old magazines fill in the awkwardly sized shelves on the bottom.  The look has come together well!
Cute and practical magnetic frame for putting recipes and note up on in the kitchen.  Thanks, Karen!  Right now it has our meals for the week so we don't forget what we bought all the groceries for.
Lovely desk from Patricia!  It really pulls the room together, doesn't it?
I love my new little shabby chic vignette on the window sill.  That's a copy of Shakespeare on top of a dictionary from the 50s.  The phone is a gift, too!  Great taste, Grandma.
Here's the little piggy bank from Summer's birthday; I painted it myself!  Haley sent the handmade postcard to cheer me up, and I smile every time I look at it.  The framed print is from a date JP and I went on our first summer together, and the candle snuffer is from my mom.
My favorite thing about our home is that so many pieces remind me of people I love.  It's wonderful to be surrounded by sweet memories!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Pulled Pork Sandwiches

 The best thing about driving to Atlanta, Florida, or North Carolina is that we go past Smithfield's Chicken-n-BBQ.  There was a long time in my life when I couldn't eat any barbecue (horrible food poisoning), but that has thankfully passed, and pulled pork sandwiches have returned to their rightful place in my heart.
At Smithfield's, when you order a bbq pork sandwich, it comes with pulled pork, a tasty white bun, and a huge helping of cole slaw on top.  I really don't like slaw in any other setting except this one.  There's the tangy vinegariness (is that a word?) with the sweet, crunch slaw, topped with carbs.  Yes please!
The upside is that we don't always have to drive to get Smithfield's.  If we're very good, Grandma in North Carolina will send JP a bottle of the sauce for Christmas!  Follow the recipe below for making a really delicious meal that will make enough leftovers for an entire week of bbq sandwiches.

Easy Peasy Pulled Pork Sandwiches
1 jar bbq sauce (we like vinegar based ones like Smithfield's or this one)
1 pork shoulder (one that fits comfortably in your crock pot, 3-5 lbs.)
Sandwich buns
1 pint cole slaw
1. Place pork shoulder into crock pot.  Pour jar of bbq sauce on top.  Turn crock pot low for 8-10 hours.
2. Go about your day.
3. When it's dinner time, pull the bone out of the pork and shred meat with a fork.
4. Toast buns, if desired.
5. Place heaping spoonfuls of pork onto the buns.  Top with slaw, other side of the bun, and dig in!

Use the leftover pork to mix in with rice and peas, make sandwiches, even top with a fried egg (hey, no judgment!).  And thanks, Grandma, for the jar of bbq sauce!!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Eye-catching pink

Coat: J.Crew
Sweater: Banana Republic
Dress: Liz Claiborne via Goodwill
Tights: Old Navy
Clutch: H&M
Shoes: Nine West
Necklace: Banana Republic via Haley for Christmas!
John Paul and I had a brunch date with some friends this weekend, and I took the opportunity to try out my new (to me!) dress.  It's got a great t-shirt cut, perfect for cute colored tights and layering.  I love the minimalist look punched up!
By the way, I'm loving this necklace.  It's not something I would have picked out for myself, but I've worn it several times a week since receiving it as a gift and it's really cute!  Thanks for the thoughtful statement piece, Face.
P.S. JP got dressed up, too.  How cute does he look?!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Giant Chocolate Sugar Cookies

 I haven't done my baking as of late; something about the winter is bringing out my inner lazy teenager who eats cereal for dinner.
Hey, we can't be perfect all the time.
I finally bought some butter this weekend, and thought I would ease myself back into the cookie scene.  What do we all want out of a cookie?
Chocolate? Yes.
Sugar? Yes.
Giantness? Definitely.
This cookie recipe by Martha Stewart (from her Cookies cookbook, or website) didn't even stand a chance.  Go ahead and try it with the melted shortening; it really does create a smooth, perfectly textured treat.  The edges will get a bit crispy, but the center will be moist and chewy.  The recipe really only makes 12 cookies, so double it if you want more.  Great for getting you out of the winter rut, and pairs nicely with an extra cold glass of milk!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

A poem for Wednesday

"The Love Cook"
Let me cook you some dinner.
Sit down and take off your shoes and socks and in fact the rest of your clothes,
have a daiquiri,
turn on some music and dance around the house,
inside and out.
It's night and the neighbors are sleeping,
those dolts,
and the stars are shining brignt,
and I've got the burners lit for you,
you hungry thing.
-Ron Padgett

Monday, January 10, 2011

Tuna and Hummus Sandwiches

Are you ready for an incredibly easy, super tasty meal?  Yes, I say meal because anything with "sandwich" in the title can count, although others may see this as more of a tapa or appetizer than main course.  My dad and Karen got me Ina Garten's lastest cookbook, How easy is that?, for Christmas, and this is the first recipe I tried out of it.
Oh my!  It's simple (no cooking involved) in technique, but the flavors are salty, tangy and rich.  Using tuna in olive oil keeps the fish moist, while the hummus adds smoothness to the chunky tuna salad.  I used a very thick ciabatta loaf cut in half and sliced, to add some crunchy crust to the pot.  A couple of ingredients were left out of the final product (Seriously, celery?  You're a useless vegetable.), but I don't think it detracted from the taste at all.  This could be great served with a green salad for a light lunch...or a Thursday night dinner, if you're feeling a bit lazier than usual.

Tuna and Hummus Sandwiches (adapted from How Easy is That? by Ina Garten, 2010)
14 oz. jarred or canned tuna in olive oil
2 Tbsp. minced cornichons
2 Tbsp. fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 Tbsp. good mayonnaise (I made my own, because the storebought stuff always looks a bit iffy to me)
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
Crusty bread, sliced thickly and toasted
Hummus (we used a white bean hummus)

1. Drain oil from tuna, reserving the oil.  Place tuna in a mixing bowl and flake with a fork.  Add cornichons, lemon juice, Mayo, 2 Tbsp. of reserved oil, mustard, salt and pepper; mix well.  Cover and refrigerate for a few hours to allow flavors to mellow.
2. Spread each slice of toast with a layer of hummus.  Top with a generous portion of tuna mixture, top with a cornichon and serve immediately.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Lost in the Jungle

Tee: Madewell
Scarf: April Daze
Belt: H&M
Jeans: Gap
Sandals: Michael Antonio
Watch: Michael Kors
Bracelet: Banana Republic c/o Haley (thanks, boo!)
Haley and I hosted a family dinner, and I wanted to be casual but cute.  Enter this picture-perfect tee from Madewell: silk, beautifully olive and slightly slouchy.  The color matches one of the stripes in this scarf, so on it went.  The belt helps keep the scarf a bit in place, and the boyfriend jeans is in line with the easy look.  I'll be honest, though: the scarf had to come off after about 1/2 an hour because it got hot!
Thanks for the great dangly bracelet, Haley.  It's so fun!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Whiskey-Walnut Caramel Sauce

It was a mistake to ask for cookbooks for Christmas.  Haley gave me a copy of Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey: Desserts for the Serious Sweet Tooth by Jill O'Connor, and she insists that I kept making inappropriate noises while looking at the picture of the tasty treats.  You know, yummy-in-my-tummy sounds.  After trying this sauce, though, I dare you to not make your own yummy noises.
I'll not include here the recipe for the brownies and ice cream shown; you are certainly capable of making your own brownies, and the ice cream is storebought.
What I will include is the recipe for the caramel sauce, which is absolutely to die for.  It's sweet, and rich with the smell of Irish whiskey (I guess Haley is a Jameson girl, because that's what was in the liquor cabinet at home) and toasted walnuts.  We didn't let ours get brown enough; it could probably be a couple of shades darker than the photo is showing.  Drizzle on top of brownies, ice cream (or both!), pound cake, or even waffles for a decadent brunch.  Whatever you do, just make it.

Whiskey-Walnut Caramel Sauce (from Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey by Jill O'Connor, 2007)
2 c. sugar
1/2 c. whiskey
1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
2 c. heavy cream
1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. vanilla
1 c. chopped walnuts
1. Combine sugar, whiskey and juice in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat.  Cook, gently swirling the pan occasionally, until the sugar dissolves and starts to turn color.  Increase the heat to high and boil until the syrup turns a deep amber color, 4-5 minutes.  Watch carefully, as it can easily burn.
2. Immediately remove pan from heat and pour in salt and cream.  Use a wooden spoon to carefully stir in the cream; sauce will pop and hiss.  Place pan over low heat and cook, stirring constantly, until caramel thicken, 5-7 minutes.  The mixture should be the consistency of very thick cream.  Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and walnuts.
3. Let sauce cool until just warm.  Can be covered and stored in the fridge for up to 1 week.
Que bella!