Thursday, November 28, 2013

happy thanksgiving!

For the second year in a row, I am not spending thanksgiving with my family. I have opted to stay in SF and spend it with Mike and a few good friends.

I am so excited to do my very first thanksgiving turkey, and spend the day cooking, watching football and enjoying the holiday.

Be thankful this holiday. Enjoy the day with family or friends. And remind yourself just how lucky you truly are.

Need a last minute side dish? Check out my sweet potato boats!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

easy and yummy turkey day side

On Thanksgivings when I was growing up we would cram into my grandparents house in the serious country of upstate New York. I'm talking country: no electricity, one bathroom with a claw foot tub and the entire house heated by the wood burning stove in the kitchen.  Nine cousins, aunts, uncles, my parents and grandparents: it was quite the party.

I never remember it being crammed or fighting for the bathroom though. I remember the never ending bingo games, crafting, playing in the snow and scarfing amazing food.

We used to start the biggest meal of the year with ravioli.  Yes. You heard me, we ate pasta to start, before consuming turkey and potatoes and stuffing and sides and who knows what else.

That was our tradition and though it hasn't carried through till now (could you imagine??) one food tradition and family favorite did: sweet potato boats.

My Aunt Sue made them every year and they are so simple and delicious and the perfect thanksgiving side. You can also skip the boat part and just mash sweet potatoes, but there is something about this presentation that just makes the dish.

sweet potato boats
3 sweet potatoes (actually yams)
1/2 cup sour cream (I like to use reduced fat to make myself feel a little better..)
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
1package of bacon, cooked and diced into bite sized pieces
3 tbsp heavy cream
1 tsp fresh sage, chopped
Salt and pepper for seasoning
  • Heat the oven to 350
  • Pierce the potatoes with a fork all over
  • Place them in the oven on the top rack (place a foil lined cookie sheet on the rack below to catch the drippings)
  • Let cook for about 30-40 minutes depending on the size of potatoes. They should be soft when you squeeze them
  • Let cool for a few minutes, enough to handle and then slice lengthwise
  • Carefully scoop out filling, keeping skins intact
  • Spray a foil lined pan with cooking spray and place skins (or boats) in
  • Scoop all filling into a bowl and mix with all ingredients, save for half the cheese and all the bacon
  • Whip together with a hand mixer until smooth, stir in half the bacon by hand
  • Scoop the filling back into the boats (they should be overflowing a bit) and top with remaining bacon and cheese
  • Place in oven for about 10 minutes, until cheese is melted
  • You can make these ahead, just cover and refrigerate.  Bring to room temperature and then bake uncovered at 350 until cheese is melted, about 10 mins
I don't have a pic of the boats, but here are the mashed sweet potatoes!

Monday, November 25, 2013

a brief departure series: bedroom decorating

The decorating series is back!

I have nearly my entire non-existent apartment decorated, but I am getting stuck on one room....the bedroom.

The reality is, the next move I make will be with Mike, so the bedroom can not be too girly. I would buy a hot pink comforter and a bunch of fun brightly colored accessories if it was just me.

But I guess I should consider that he wouldn't love the hot pink comforter so much and that's where I am getting stuck.

My bedroom pinboard is So I put together two different ideas--one is navy, white with a coral pop of color and the other focuses more on a mustard yellow + teal theme.

So here is option one:

clockwise from top: striped pillow-sold out, visit etsy shop; simple white duvet cover; step nightstand via la belle vie; perfect blue and white comforter (can not find source) via real simple; coral dresser accent via sarah m. dorsey designs; navy and white comforter set

I love the white comforter because it makes things so versatile, but lets face it, they get dirty so easily. Though a duvet is a lot easier to clean/bleach...

The navy comforter in the bottom right is my favorite. I tweeted at Real Simple to try and find the source but nothing yet.

I like that nightstand/bedside step, maybe painted in a distressed white though..

And option two:

clockwise from top: mustard yellow printed curtains, similar here; clear barcelona vase; chevron accent chair; yellow ranunculus print; coral vase, similar here; mustard yellow area rug; "follow your bliss" quote + photo; california <3 ny print; example/ideal set up

I like the idea of the mustard yellow with some minimal coral/teal mixed in as well.

If I could just have that bed/nightstand/those pillows on the bottom left, I would be set.

Which do you think?

Friday, November 22, 2013

winner is chosen--thanks for playing!

Congrats to my awesome co-worker Betsy for winning a meal or cooking demo with me!

We are going to menu plan, decide on timing and document everything via the blog.

More fun contests to come and happy weekend :)

Thursday, November 21, 2013

pork chop with apple compote

Pork. One of the three things I am afraid to even consider Mike living without (peanut butter and BBQ sauce are also in that group. He told me this past weekend we would break up if I became allergic to peanut butter. So. There's that...) We add it to burgers, meatballs, shred it in the crock pot...I get creative.

This was my attempt at some lighter fare. The apple compote was fresh, the veggies on the side crunchy and the pork perfectly pink in the center.

pork chop
2 bone-in pork chops
salt, pepper, red pepper for seasoning
2 tbsp butter
  • massage seasoning onto both sides of the pork, let sit for about 15 minutes
  • preheat oven to 350, preheat pan on medium heat with about half the butter (I used my cast-iron skillet to go from stove-top to oven)
  • once the pan is really hot--try the water flicking trick and wait for it to sizzle--place your chops in and let sear on both sides (about 2-3 mins per side)
  • once you turn over the first side, baste the seared side with the pan juices
  • once both sides are seared, place pan in oven with remaining butter until internal temp reaches 150 degrees (time with vary based on thickness of cut)

apple compote
1 green apple, diced (I didn't peel it, but would recommend doing so)
salt and pepper for seasoning
1 tablespoon of sugar
2 tablespoons of water
1/2 tablespoon of flour
  • let sugar and water dissolve in a saucepan over low heat, add apples
  • let saute and stir in seasonings and flour, bring up to medium-high heat and stir together until the mixture comes to a boil
  • bring it back down to low heat, simmer until ready to serve

Did I mention tomorrow is the last day to enter to win a meal or demo cooked by yours truly?!?!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

five spice lamb

A delicious and simple weekend dish, this five spice lamb made me feel like a master chef for whipping it up.

This is the second time I have made lamb and it's definitely turning into one of my favorite things to cook. I went the Mediterranean route here, but I think this could go in so many directions--dying to try lamb ragout or maybe grill a few pieces.

five spice lamb
one lamb steak
2 tbsp butter

spice mixture
onion powder (1 tsp)
ancho chili powder (2 tsp)-can use regular chili powder if you don’t have it
pepper (1/2 tsp)
1 tsp cumin
2 tsp rosemary, finely minced (or 1 tsp of dried)
2 tsp salt

  • Combine spice mixture, rub it on both sides of lamb steak and let sit for about 20-30 minutes
  • Preheat oven to 350
  • Preheat pan with butter on medium-high heat
  • Place lamb steak in pan (it should sizzle, flick it with water first to make sure its hot enough)
  • Sear on both sides, about 3 mins per side 
  • Place in preheated oven for 15 minutes, until cooked to about medium/medium-rare (use a meat thermometer if needed)
1 package of isreali couscous
3 cups of vegetable stock
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp rosemary, finely minced
salt and pepper for seasoning
onions and garlic sautéed in oil with about half the rosemary

tip: cook onions and garlic low and slow to bring out their natural sweetness
  • bring vegetable stock up to a boil
  • in the meantime, lightly brown couscous in a pot with butter on low heat
  • once the stock is boiling, add slowly to couscous with remaining rosemary, salt, pepper and garlic, onion and rosemary mix
  • cover and let look on low-medium heat until all liquid is absorbed and couscous has a slight bite (similar to al-dente pasta) this should take about 20-25 mins
1/4 cup red wine
pan drippings from lamb
1 tsp pepper
1/4 cup vegetable stock (beef or chicken stock would be fine too)
3 tbsp flour
  • whisk all ingredients together over low heat, adding more liquid if mixture is too thick, and more flour if too thin
  • spoon over lamb

Also: if you haven't entered already, enter here to win a meal cooked by me or a cooking demo with me!

a few notes:
  • I can make suggestions or work with you to plan the menu, but the limit is $50 on all ingredients
  • I will cook at your home as long as you are comfortable with that
  • If you are not a Bay Area resident and do not have any upcoming plans to visit, it may be difficult to cook for you, but contact me: we can do a virtual session!
  • This giveaway closes Friday October 22nd
  • Please give me a way to contact you!
I will be choosing the lucky winner on Friday !

Friday, November 8, 2013

blog milestone!

I have been at it for about 8 months and I am thrilled to say I have hit 4,000 page views! (even if it was with a little help from my awesome co-workers :)

I am beyond excited to have hit this point and can not wait to keep going--here's to 4,000 more!

By the way, if you haven't entered already, submit your entry here to win a meal cooked by me or cooking lesson.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

finally back--mixing it up a bit!

I have become a pro at the hiatus--all the while cooking up a storm but neglecting to blog. Blogging is hard work. You have to put something behind the words and the recipe, it is unfortunately not just a collection of ingredients thrown on the page.

The process of cooking is about so much more than sustenance for me. It's about gathering together, making people happy, enjoying the process (and strange calmness it brings me.) It's about discovering new ingredients and opening up someones eyes to experience a dish in a different way than they expected.

With that in mind, I have decided to do a giveaway of sorts!

I want to cook for you or with you. It can be teaching you a few trick and tips, a new recipe, or just making a meal for you and one lucky individual. It can be a date meal and I will even let you take all the credit.

Submit your entry here.

a few notes:
  • I can make suggestions or work with you to plan the menu, but the limit is $50 on all ingredients
  • I will cook at your home as long as you are comfortable with that
  • If you are not a Bay Area resident and do not have any upcoming plans to visit, it may be difficult to cook for you, but contact me--maybe we can do a virtual session!
  • This giveaway closes Friday October 15th
  • Please give me a way to contact you!
I will be choosing the lucky winner on Friday 
November 15th 22nd!