Monday, July 25, 2011

500th Post! Evolution of a Sandwich

To celebrate the 500th post on this blog (500!! Whoa.), I am going to lead you through my mind's convoluted process for weeknight meal development... in tonight's case, the end result was this turkey and bacon club sandwich with chipotle and green onion mayonnaise, heirloom tomatoes, and Bibb lettuce.

You'd think that for my 500th post perhaps I would iron the place mat for the photo shoot.
You would be wrong.

Step 1: I peruse my favorite food blogs, and hopefully am inspired by (or drooling over) a particular recipe.
In today's case it was this amazing looking avocado BLT with fried egg and chipotle mayo at Closet Cooking.

Step 2: I obsess over recipe discovered in Step 1 and wipe drool from my chin.

Step 3: I consider whether I can make said recipe exclusively using ingredients I already have at home; determine that I cannot.
I didn't have avocado... boo.

Step 5: I ponder whether it's worth following the recipe exactly, and thus whether I must brave a trip to the grocery store.
The lines at my local grocery store leave much to be desired...

Step 6: I decide that the grocery store is too daunting, re-evaluate whether I need to be a slave to the recipe, or if I can just riff off of it and make my own creation.
Yes, riffing is good.

Step 7: I utilize the Google machine to search similar recipes that might be more in line with
the ingredients I have in stock and develop a dinner plan based on this.
Today, using the search term, "chipotle mayo," I found
this recipe and the sandwich took a turn into club sandwich land.

Step 8: I finish out my day at work in excruciating anticipation of the sandwich that evolved in steps 1-8.
Today was a long day...

Step 9: I implement the plan!
Rejoice over bacon, spicy mayo, and amazingly juicy tomato!

Cupcakes for Baby Mamas

More baby mamas = more cupcakes... this time Kate (of turtle fame) is the baby mama being showered, and the cupcakes I baked are yellow cake with chocolate frosting and rainbow sprinkles, and strawberry with strawberry buttercream.The strawberry cupcakes, based on a recipe from the self-proclaimed originator of the cupcake craze, Sprinkles, were amazing. I got the recipe from the Other Martha, and my only comment is that if that's what all of Sprinkles' cupcakes taste like, they earned their glowing reputation. The recipe was super easy and took advantage of some of the local strawberries I picked earlier this summer and froze. I'm not normally a strawberry cupcake person because of the weird fake strawberry flavor I normally think of, but these cupcakes are so moist, with a real strawberry flavor. Plus the frosting has an amazing bright pink color, so no need for artificial food coloring!

The yellow cupcakes were less impressive, sadly... decent, but not as moist and yellow-y as I was hoping. Not enough egg yolks? Not sure where they went wrong. Next time I think I might try the "best birthday cake" from Smitten Kitchen...

Saturday, July 23, 2011

I like turtles...

I like turtles... you like turtles... Kate and Kevin apparently like turtles, as they picked out some sweet turtle bedding for their nursery. Hopefully baby likes turtles!

I especially hope baby likes turtles because I crocheted him or her a couple cute turtles, amigurumi-style. I used this free pattern from Lion Brand Yarn with Lily Sugar n' Cream cotton yarn in "Country Twists" and "Sage Green."

These might be the cutest things I've made. Well, besides all of the other baby stuff. Lincoln did not get to pose with these little guys because he kept trying to bite their legs and tails off.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Cheesy Toasted Corn Grits with Sauteed Okra, Bacon and Tomatoes

Take freshy fresh veggies from the CSA (crisp okra, super sweet orange cherry tomatoes, creamy sweet corn on the cob) and add these to more indulgent pantry staples (grits, bacon, sharp cheddar) and you get a pretty tasty meal of cheesy grits (with my addition of toasted corn kernels) topped with sauteed veggies and crispy bacon. I think I would add a dash or two of hot sauce to the saute, but otherwise it was pretty nice!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Pesto Pizza

Easy weeknight dinner:
pesto (basil, garlic, Parmesan, nuts, olive oil, salt, pepper)
fresh tomato slices
whole wheat pizza doughLoad up pizza dough with toppings, cook on super high heat for 10 minutes, devour, done.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Coffee Oreo Cognac Ice Cream

I'm still working my way through the 16 egg yolks leftover from my egg-white heavy (is that an oxymoron?) American flag cake. Egg yolks just beg to be made into ice cream.

I asked Chuck if she had an ice cream flavor preference. "Something with Oreos," she said. In contrast, I was thinking, "Something with booze." Enter this recipe from Simply Recipes, which combines both AND adds coffee, which makes it even better.I made a couple small changes to the recipe, namely using instant espresso powder rather than instant coffee, and cognac rather than rum. Also, I used 8 egg yolks.

Delicious... I think the only additional change I would make is to add more Oreos at the end for chunkiness.

Panko and Mustard Crusted Salmon

I saw this recipe for spicy panko crusted salmon on Always Order Dessert this week and had to have it immediately. The crunchy topping looked so delicious... and it was!

Ridiculously easy: basically the mustard serves as the glue for some panko bread crumbs that are jazzed up with smoked paprika and cayenne. It's all crisped up quickly in some olive oil and served with something green on the side (in our case, broccoli roasted with olive oil, garlic and red pepper flakes). I had a little trouble keeping the topping attached to the salmon when I flipped it, but I bet it would get easier with practice.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Roasted Potato Salad with Corn, Tomato and a Jalapeno Lime Vinaigrette

Barbara requested a potato salad for her combo housewarming/birthday/last bash before the baby party... after the holiday weekend I felt a little over mayo-laden potato salads, so I decided to research some more funky potato salads.

This potato and corn salad recipe from the Splendid Table calls for lots of sunny summer produce, perfect for using up my fresh-from-the-farm corn on the cob, cherry tomatoes, jalapenos, and red potatoes. I didn't follow the directions exactly since I didn't feel like turning on the grill, but I roasted the potatoes (which I had cut into bite-sized pieces), toasted the corn, onion, and jalapeno in a cast-iron skillet, and just whisked the dressing together rather than busting out and dirtying the blender.

Fresh, tasty, a little spicy, and definitely not mayo-y!

Crochet Hats

When I first expressed an inkling of interest in learning how to knit and/or crochet, The Real Martha, as she is wont to do, immediately mailed me a package with a learn-to-knit kit and some inexpensive (read: cheap) yarn to practice with. She also brought me a boatload of '70s and '80s era acrylic yarn that she's had sitting around for years unused. Now that I have a little bit more confidence in my crocheting and knitting, I don't need quite so much practice yarn anymore, so I decided to put it to good use.

Using this series of tutorials for a basic spiral hat (the pattern provides a basic formula that can be modified to make several different styles of hat), I've made a couple hats out of the extra yarn with plans to donate them to a local homeless shelter/food bank in DC. The great thing about this pattern is that, since it's crocheted in a spiral rather than distinct rows, it avoids the seam issue I had when making previous crochet hats.

One with a thick ribbed cuff that folds up. I used a size J hook and worsted weight (medium weight/size 4) yarn. I ended up doing 6 or 7 rows of ribbing at the end to get a really wide cuff:

A couple basic beanies with no cuff:

Friday, July 8, 2011

Chocolate Buttermilk Ice Cream

This deliciously non-traditional ice cream flavor, buttermilk chocolate, was the perfect way to use up buttermilk (leftover from cupcakes) and egg yolks (leftover from my massive flag cake). Tangy, rich, creamy and chocolatey.

I basically followed the basic buttermilk ice cream recipe from Smitten Kitchen and the chocolately modification from the Cupcake Project, although I used only 8 egg yolks. Plenty rich enough.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy Fourth of July! American Flag Cake

A Fourth of July BBQ calls for a dramatic red, white and blue dessert. I made this massive white sheet cake with cream cheese frosting and fresh summer berries, shaped like a giant star-spangled banner, while the neighborhood kids set off their own massive fireworks in the alley.
America... f*ck yeah.The recipe (care of the Other Martha) is really good, and there's a video to show you how to handle the giant layers. The cake itself is light and fluffy (probably due to the 16 whipped egg whites in the batter), almost like angel food cake. The only change I made was to put parchment paper on the cookie sheets rather than buttering and flouring them, for sake of convenience.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Balcony Garden

Since moving into my new place, I've really wanted to plant some flowers out on our balcony. I planted some window boxes in the early spring which didn't go over so well, I think I over crowded them :( So here's my second try with redish petunias and white begonias!

I also have this huge wooden planter that had a pretty cool vine in it from the previous owners. Unfortunately I couldn't revive it :( So I ripped that out and planted lantana bandanas, these really neat multi colored flowers. I saw them in my apartment buildings garden and really wanted to get some!