Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving Menu

So, I know it's a bit late to talk about Thanksgiving planning, but here goes.  We're having 8 people over for Thanksgiving (for a total of 10!).  Thankfully our guests are helping out by bringing over a dish or two.  Here's the plan:

Eric and Jaimee
-Baked Brie en Croute
  -1 with Quince and Apple Compote
  -1 with pecans, brown sugar and honey
-Fall cookies
-2 Turkeys
  -1 Organic free range for roasting
  -1 From Harris Teeter for frying
-Fresh bread
-Cranberry Sauce
  -Orange Ginger Cranberry Sauce
  -Pomegranate Lemon Cranberry Sauce

Courtney (and Dave)
-Green Bean Casserole
-Sweet Potatoes
-Personal Pumpkin Tartlets
-Personal Pecan Tartlets

-Roast Cauliflower (Pureed?)
-Pear Apple Cranberry Crisp

Martins (really just Eric's mom)
-Corn side dish
-Carrot side dish
-Pecan Brittle

You can probably tell what I'm cooking by my inability to make a decision when it comes to delicious sounding food.  I'll be back next week with some of the recipes and pictures of what we made.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Cashew Chicken

Again with an Asian dish.  I rarely order cashew chicken.  I think I haven't even had it since I was in China for my study abroad, but I was looking for low-carb recipes and I came across this one from Recipe Girl.  

Cashew Chicken


2 Tbs soy sauce
2 Tbs dry sherry
1 large egg white
pinch of salt
1 tsp cornstarch
4 large skinless, boneless breasts
1/4 cup raw cashews
1/4 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup oil (The recipe calls for vegetable, I used half olive, half canola)
1 Tbs minced fresh ginger
1/2 cup sliced water chestnuts

1.  In medium bowl (or Ziploc bag), combine 1 T. soy sauce with wine, egg white, salt and ½ t. cornstarch; blend thoroughly. Cut chicken into ¼” cubes and toss in marinade to coat. Set aside to marinate for 30 minutes (and up to several hours). 

2.  Combine broth and remaining soy sauce and cornstarch. Mix well and set aside.

3.  Heat wok or large fry pan to medium heat and add oil. Add cashews and fry until golden brown. Remove and drain on paper towels.

4.  Drain chicken marinade. Fry chicken just until firm, about 45 seconds. Remove and drain on paper towels.

5.  Remove all but 2 T. oil from pan. Increase heat to medium high. Add ginger and stir fry until fragrant. Add celery and water chestnuts and stir fry for 1 minute.

6.  Add chicken and cashews and cook until chicken is done, about 2 minutes more.

7.  Stir broth to dissolve cornstarch, and add to pan. Cook over high heat until sauce thickens.

8.  Serve over rice and enjoy!

I Swear I'm Not a Pyro

Really, I'm not.  But I do love fire.  We even built a custom huge fire-pit out back this summer.

Last night we had our first indoor fire of the season.  When we moved in I got myself a nice cushy chair with a nice cushy ottoman and put it by the fireplace just to be warm and toasty (I'm also dying for a sheepskin rug so when it's really cold I can lay on it by the fire).

In honor of the first fire of the season I made the first indoor S'mores of the season.  I may have mentioned my love of S'mores in the past.  Last night's were Reese's peanut butter cup and dark chocolate.  I let the S'mores sit for a while with the toasted marshmallows on top and the chocolate got all warm and melty.

Note to self:  Keep graham crackers, marshmallows and various types of chocolate stocked through the winter.

Photos taken with my new Droid X.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Fall Decor

I'm not great at decor, I wish I was.  I'm also not huge with seasonal decor.  I mean, I try, but usually kind of half-heartedly (except Christmas some years).  This year I had a mission to enhance my fall decor.  I  have a small problem for color so this year it's probably brighter than necessary.

Welcome to my front door and my fall wreath I got at the Old Town Farmers Market last year.  I't made of wheat, those brain looking flowers and almonds.

I put this little bucket together from the centerpiece of a wedding we went to years ago, some fake crystallized fall fruit and a piece of ribbon I found floating around.  In order not to have to use a lot of fruit to fill the bucket I stuffed it about 3/4 full with paper.  The ribbon helped to disguise some of it.

I didn't get the right picture of it, but these iron owls have candles in the back.  They used to have orange candle holders and looked really creepy at night, but after too many creepy fall nights hanging from a porch in a high wind those were lost.

The mantle is where I did most of the accessorizing.  I use the term "I" loosly as Meaghan redid the pumpkin flower vases for me.  I used a table runner to add some more fall color, flanked the mantle with pumpkin "vases" overflowing with fall flowers and added some other fall accessories.


I love feathers, so I love these feather balls. 

 The creepy crows got switched out for some chubby turkeys after Halloween.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Resizing an Oversized T-Shirt

Eric and I ordered custom t-shirts for our Halloween costumes.  Unfortunately, to get one that resembled something close to a "fit" for me would have cost an exhorbitant amount of money, so I went with a men's medium and, in the immortal words of Tim Gunn, I would have to "make it work!"

It came and as I expected it was not cute.  It was a rectangle with arms.

Here's how I "made it work."

Find a shirt that has a fit that you like.  Turn your overly large, not cute shirt inside out, iron both shirts flat and fold them in half.  Make sure you're careful about the alignment of the shirt while ironing and folding.  My huge shirt was too long so I cut about two inches off the bottom in a straight line.  Place your cute shirt (for our purposes we'll call it your gray shirt) on top of your not so cute shirt (your black shirt).

I know I could use a new ironing board cover.

Mark a line on your black shirt along the edge of your gray shirt.  Repeat on the other side and unfold your shirts, makeing sure to keep the edges aligned.  You'll need to think about how to handle the sleeves.  You COULD remove them, resize them and reattatch them.  I just arched the line from the esisting sleeve of the black shirt to edge of the gray shirt.

If you don't have a sewing machine, hand stitch along the line.  If you have a sewing machine that's even better!

Cut the excess material about a 1/4 inch from the new seam.

Turn it rightside out and now you have a shirt that fits better!

Pay no mind to the cat's tail

I still wasn't happy with it.  I'm not a huge fan of crew necks and I wanted shorter sleeves so I turned it back inside out and folded it (CAREFULLY) in half again.  I cut a double v neck in the top and trimmed about 1 1/2 inches from the sleeves.

And there you have it!  A much cuter t-shirt!

And for shits and giggles, here are some Halloween pics.


Thursday, November 4, 2010

Pasta with Pumpkin Sauce

I may have mentioned my slight obsession with pumpkins.  I've been trying to find savory recipes for pumpkins to no real avail.  I mentioned my dilemma to my friend Zeina who is a great cook and baker.  She had one ready for me to try out at the top of her head.

Pasta with Pumpkin Sauce

1 Pound Whole Wheat Pasta (I used rotini, but the recipe calls for penne)
2 Tbs Olive Oil
3 Shallots, finely chopped
3 - 4 Cloves of Garlic, minced or grated
2 Cups Chicken Stock
1 Can (15 oz) Pumpkin Puree
1/2 Cup Heavy Cream
1 tsp Hot Sauce
2 pinches Nutmeg, freshly grated
2 pinches Ground Cinnamon
Salt and Pepper
8 leaves Fresh Sage, thinly sliced

Add Ins - You can add to this sauce to add more vegetables or protein.  The below is what I used, but you could use chicken, peppers, whatever you have in your fridge!
2 Mild Italian Sausages
1 Zucchini, cut in 1/4 inch sections and then in half
1 Eggplant, cut in 1/4 inch sections and then in half

1.  Heat water for pasta, salt it and cook to al dente.

2.  Heat the oil over medium heat.  Brown Sausage.  Add shallots and garlic to the pan and saute for 3 minutes.

3.  Stir in chicken stock, then cream.  Season Sauce with hot sauce, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt and pepper.  Start with above guidelines, then season to taste.
Don't forget to taste!

4.  Add vegetables, reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 5 - 10 minutes to thicken.

5.  Stir in sage, toss with pasta and top with grated cheese to taste.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Sunday Fall-Funday

We spent yet another lovely fall day up in Maryland at Summers Farm.  It took us a ridiculously long time to get up there.  We got stuck in traffic, we needed a food stop and then we started talking about fresh eggs.  Turns out Meaghan's family up in Frederick has 19 chickens.  That means 19 fresh eggs every day.  That's a lot of eggs.  So of course we had to make an organic, farm fresh egg stop.

Summers Farm has a ton of fun to offer at the low, low entry price of $10.  We didn't take advantage of everything they had to offer, but we did partake in the straw slides, the extra large jumping pillow, the apple cannon and the corn maze.  Oh, and the apple cider donuts of course.  On the jumping pillow we may have been the only adults without children.

Apologies on some of the pictures.  The camera accidentally got switched to ISO 3200.

Eric, Meaghan, Lauren and I the supersized Summers Farm Rocking Chair

 The slide was actually pretty fast.

 The ginormous jumping pillow!

This leaning tower of height measurer is way off.  Meaghan is at least 6'1".

 Enter "The Long Maze"

 Handstands are always in order
 ____ Be no evil.

Apple Cannon.  Eric hit the target on his second try.  I did not.


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