Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Italian Sausage and Squash Soup
Makes: 8 cups
Total time: 50 minutes
1 lb. bulk Italian sausage
2 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
1 1⁄2 cups diced onion
2 Tbsp. minced garlic
1 butternut squash, peeled, seeded, cut into 1-inch chunks (about 1 1/2 lbs.) (Look in your grocery store produce section for squash already peeled and cut into chunks - so much easier!)
1⁄4 tsp. red pepper flakes
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 cups water
1 cup diced red bell pepper
1⁄2 cup heavy cream
1 tsp. ground dried sage
1 tsp. sugar
2 cups packed baby spinach
3 Tbsp. brandy
Salt and black pepper to taste
Brown sausage in 1 Tbsp. oil in a skillet over medium-high heat until cooked through. Drain on a paper towel-lined plate; set aside.
Sweat onion and garlic in 1 Tbsp. oil in a large pot over medium heat until soft, 5 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high, add squash and pepper flakes, and saute 5 minutes.
Stir in broth and water, bring to a boil, and simmer until squash is very soft, about 10 minutes. Puree soup with a hand blender (or in batches in a standard blender), then add bell pepper, cream, sage, and sugar; simmer until bell pepper is tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in spinach, brandy, and sausage, and simmer until spinach wilts and sausage is heated through, about 2 minutes; season with salt and pepper.
Soup was a little thick in the below picture because I had let it simmer too long while waiting for Hunter to come in from working on the garage. We added two more cups of water before serving and that made it soupy perfection!
Olive Bruschetta - the bruschetta was a perfect compliment to the soup!
Total time: 20 minutes
1⁄2cup seeded and diced tomatoes
1⁄4cup pitted and chopped kalamata olives
1Tbsp. minced fresh parsley
Salt and black pepper to taste
12 slices baguette, 1/2-inch thick
3⁄4 cup shredded aged provolone or fontina cheese - (I bought a wedge of fontina and grated it myself - well worth the splurge)!
Preheat broiler to high with rack 6 inches from the element.
Combine tomatoes, olives, parsley in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper.
Arrange baguette slices on a baking sheet, drizzle with oil, and broil until toasted on 1 side, about 2 minutes. Turn over, top each round with 1 Tbsp. cheese, and broil until cheese melts and begins to brown. Top with tomato mixture before serving.
Guess what I'm having for lunch today?
Monday, November 29, 2010
Last time the Hokies were in Charlotte it was August of 2008 and it wasn't pretty. We lost to ECU and it was by far the hottest football game I've ever attended. However, despite the loss and the heat when you have lots of family and friends in "your" city for a game its hard not to have a great time! Here's a few pics from that weekend back in 08!
Hunter and couple of his fraternity brothers that came to town!
Look closely and you can tell the VT fans are unhappy from their backside expressions. The girl with her hands on her head, and the men with thier hands on their hips. NOT GOOD!
And God had just about enough of the heat too so he cooled us off with a rain at our tailgate after the game
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Cooks in the kitchen!
That's one good lookin fried turkey!
Friday, November 19, 2010
Fashion first, I'm trying to just wear something I already have and I purchased these shorts from express when they first came out a couple months ago. I wore them when I was in NYC and paired them with a grey tissue turtleneck, a light pink Jcrew sweater, black tights, and grey wedge booties. Clearly with those booties I was trying my hardest to fit in with the fashion forward NYC folks! My inspiration for that outfit came from the Jcrew Ad below that I ADORE! Next time I wear this I'm going to leave the booties at home and pair it with grey tights, and open toed tan heels like the model did!
So for the party I thought I'd wear the shorts, fun black shirt, red tights and just totally OVER DO IT with my jewelry. Lindsey Regan Throne: Be Pretty just posted this Kate Spade look with lots of jewels (as my mom calls them) :) I typically am a rule follower, if I wear a necklace I'll do stud earrings or if I wear big earrings then I'll skip the necklace. But, I've always wanted to go big on the jewels one night and I think this just might be the NIGHT!
Moving on to Thanksgiving, Hunter's mom asked me to bring a dessert (She knows I love to bake!) We subscribe to Cusine at Home magazine and it is THE BEST! If you are looking for fresh menu ideas and lots of good cooking tips then order this magazine. It makes a great gift too! You can also order individual cookbooks. We have the grilling, slow cooker, and cooking for two, all of which we recommend. Hint: Don't look at it Hungry! Ok, sorry sidetracked, I'm done with my sales pitch but with that said, from cusine recipes, I'm going to make this!
“Pecan Pie” Cheesecake with Caramel-Bourbon Sauce
The better the quality of the bourbon you use, the better the flavor in the cheesecake and sauce. For a simpler dessert, skip the cheesecake and serve the scrumptious sauce over pound cake or ice cream.
Makes: One 9-inch cheesecake (12 slices)
Total time: 2 1/2 hours plus chilling time
FOR THE CRUST—
6 oz. chocolate-wafer cookies (about 28 wafers)
1⁄2 cup toasted pecan halves
1⁄2 stick unsalted butter, melted
FOR THE CHEESECAKE—
3 pkgs. cream cheese or neufchatel (8 oz. each), at room temperature
1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
1⁄2 cup packed light brown sugar
1⁄2 cup granulated sugar
1⁄4 tsp. table salt
1⁄2 cup heavy cream
1⁄4 cup bourbon (optional)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
FOR THE SAUCE—
1 1⁄2 cups packed light brown sugar
1⁄2 cup heavy cream
1⁄2 stick unsalted butter
1⁄4 cup bourbon (optional)
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 1⁄2 cups chopped toasted pecans
Nutrition InformationPer slice (made with neufchatel): 708 cal; 53g total fat (24g sat); 158mg chol; 564mg sodium; 54g total carbs; 2g fiber; 10g protein
Preheat oven to 375°; coat a 9-inch springform pan with nonstick spray and wrap entire outside of pan in foil; set aside.
Process chocolate wafers and the 1/2 cup pecans for the crust in a food processor until fine. With processor running, drizzle in the melted butter. Press mixture into the bottom of the pan; bake 10 minutes. Cool crust completely before filling. Reduce oven to 325°.
Beat cream cheese, 1 stick butter, 1/2 cup brown sugar, granulated sugar, and table salt in a lrge bowl until mixture is fluffy, periodically scraping sides of the bowl. Add eggs one at a time, fully beating to incorporate into batter after each addition. Add 1/2 cup cream, 1/4 cup bourbon, and vanilla; beat until ingredients are completely incorporated into batter.
Pour filling over crust, smoothing the top of filling. Transfer cheesecake to a roasting pan; place in the oven. Pour boiling water into the roasting pan a third of the way up the sides of the foil-wrapped springform pan.
Bake cheesecake until it reaches 155° and sides are set but center still jiggles, about 1 hour. Turn off the oven; leave cheesecake inside for 1 hour with oven door closed. Remove cheesecake from oven; cool to room temperature. Cover cheesecake with plastic wrap; chill 3–24 hours. Remove cheesecake from the refrigerator 30 minutes before serving.
Combine the 11/2 cups brown sugar, 1/2 cup cream, 1/2 stick butter, 1/4 cup bourbon, and kosher salt for the sauce in a saucepan. Bring mixture to a boil over medium-low heat. (Don’t stir topping, but keep a close eye on it so it doesn’t boil over.) Simmer topping 10 minutes.
Stir the 11/2 cups pecans into the caramel topping. Let topping stand until slightly thickened and cooled to room temperature, 15–20 minutes. To serve, spoon sauce over cheesecake. (Serve remaining sauce on individual slices.)
Baking will occur wednesday night and tonight after work you can find us painting our garage! Woohoo! kinda xoxo
Unfortunately, its going to be a short sleepover because Saturday morning Hunter and I are heading to Danville, VA early for the annual front yard tailgate. Every year we pick a Tech game to watch in the front yard of his grandmothers house. The whole family comes and we enjoy food, drinks, music, and the game of course all set up in the front yard of his grandmothers house. No doubt it will be fun and relaxing so I'm looking forward to it, GO HOKIES :)
Sunday, once again we are on the road early back to Charlotte because my lovely husband has a golf game to win with some friends. I have plenty of stuff to keep myself busy on Sunday around the house and garage prepping for the party and the holidays.
Our to-do list is MAD between now and December 10th....
-Yard work - mow, rake, our yard has been so neglected
-Get all the xmas stuff out and decorate the house including putting up both trees
-Finish garage - sanding walls, painting walls, painting floor
It's not a long list but all are time consuming projects and we have every weekend going forward booked up! We're heading out of town next Wednesday for Thanksgiving and won't return until Sunday. Then the first weekend in December the Hokies will most likely (throwing in the most likely as to not jinx us :)) be playing in the ACC Championship in Charlotte. Between the game and entertaining guests that will come into town, that's sure to take up most of the weekend. So that leaves us with 3 HUGE projects to finish and ZERO weekends to finish them in. We'll just have to peck away at them during the week after our 9 to 5er's .
This past week after work Hunter put a coat of primer on the garage walls and added trim along the ceiling, corners, and doorway. Slowly but surely....
Thursday, November 18, 2010
Here's my inspiration board for the party. And some commentary on the pictures :)
2. Trying to be budget conscious on this party as we have not done in the past :) So I'm not renting cloth linens, or chairs or anything for that matter! Instead we're going the paper route. I hate to do it but I like the extra money in my bank account. I found plaid paper table cloths, along with plaid paper plates and napkins, and a matching merry Christmas banner all at target. So that will be the base of the buffet/drink table with the Merry Christmas banner hanging above it all. The green casserole dish - I own the whole set of green platters and different size serving dishes so I'll use these to display the food on.
3. Not sure if this idea will come together or not but I plan to take gold and red balls like in the picture and place a tiny rock in the ball in order to make it sink in tall water filled vases with floating candles at the top. Picture 5 also shows how I imagine it looking from the top view.
4. The party will mainly all be set up in our garage. The garage will be nice and pretty by then with drywalled painted walls, and a painted floor. I plan to roll out an area rug for the kiddies to play on with some toys and we'll put one of our extra Christmas trees up in the corner. We'll have tons of candlelight, Christmas music playing and food/drink tables lining the walls. I'll have guests place all their "dirty Santa" gifts under the tree.
5. I want to hang glass ornament balls from the garage ceiling just like this. I'm not sure if I'll do gold and red or just red...I'll have to play with it and see what looks better.
6. Again this picture just represents the floating candles with ornaments in the vases as decor 7. I'll also place evergreen, pine cones, and ornament balls on the tables to kinda fill in the dull table space and carry the ornament theme along.
8. Oven-Roasted Cheese sticks Caprese - one of the foods we plan to serve
9. Steak Crostini's - another food we will serve ...this one was Hunter's idea, his main contribution to this party :)
10. For drinks we'll do a punch bowl of egg nog, a keg in a big green tub, and I'll set up lots of wine with wine glasses. I'll make the egg nog festive with little floating holly leaves in the bowl. I'm super excited to use our punch bowl we got for our wedding that we haven't gotten a chance to yet which is one of the many reason's why I love throwing parties...we get to use all our STUFF! :)
11. Savory Hand Pies - more food! We're also going to serve these items not on the inspiration board. crock pot meatballs, stuffed mushrooms, and red pepper pesto dip with chips.
So there ya have it, maybe you can picture it...maybe you can't :) I'll be sure to post some after pics and we'll see it if resembles the inspiration AT ALL! Invites are out ...bring on the holidays! xoxo
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
I also thought to myself "I can do that" So, in an effort to make our front porch like this, this christmas season, yet not spend Potterybarn prices on it, I headed to Walmart. AAAAAND my husband threw a FIT!! Most wives get yelled out for shopping at Potterybarn and praised for shopping at Walmart and trying to save money right? Oh no, not this wife. I came home with a Walmart wreath, Walmart garland, and 2 packs of red and silver ornaments to make the ornament wreath/garland myself and my Hunter was NOT happy. hahahaha, no joke his exact words "WE are NOT putting up a WALMART wreath and WALMART garland on our front porch" MEN! His problem was he just couldn't picture or trust me that the end product would look just like POTTERYBARN. And don't you worry...I told his Mama how he acted and she ensured me he did NOT get his snootiness from her :) She said she was unsure where it came from but that he had always been like this and told a story about when he was 4 and needed a new sport coat for church. They would find one at a store like Ross or something but knew if they told him they got it from there he wouldn't wear it so they would lie to him about where they bought his clothes... at 4yrs old. hahaha, too Funny!
ANYHOO, I came home from Walmart with this 4 dollar wreath, and these two boxes of 48 ornaments for 10 dollars (5 bucks a piece).
And for 14 dollars made THIS!!
I think its pretty darn good considering I would have paid 80 dollars plus tax and shipping for this potterybarn one.
Now also keep in mind the lighting isn't as pretty in my picture as in the PB one. If I held mine up in the sun and took a picture of it, it would look JUST like it (wink, wink) :) But in all seriousness what do you think...should Hunter let me hang up my walmart wreath on our front door?
Here’s what he used:
1lb or more of boneless pork loin (you could use chicken too we just always prefer pork in our Thai dishes)
½ sweet onion
1 bag of frozen Chinese vegetables (you know the kind with like snow peas, peppers, onions etc in it)
1 can of sliced bamboo shoots
1 can of sliced water chestnuts
I can of whole baby corn
2 11oz jars of Thai Kitchen Red Curry 10 minute simmer sauce
2 bags of boil in a bag Jasmine Rice
1tsp of Red Curry paste
1Tbs about of Chinese five spice
Now keep in mind the above ingredients are just what Hunter used and its by no means an “official” recipe a dash of this a pinch of that…you know how it goes, add spices until you like it. We also thought maybe next time we’ll put in a little coconut milk or shitake mushrooms!
Here’s how he made it…
1. slice the pork thin and salt and pepper it. Cook it in a saute pan with some olive oil
Once cooked transfer the pork to a big wok (or whatever big pan your going to use to make the whole dish in)
2. Add the frozen vegetables, baby corn, water chestnuts, diced onion, and bamboo shoots
Let it all cook together for a couple minutes
3. Add the two Jars of Curry Sauce along with the red curry paste and five Chinese spice. Add coconut milk here or cooked mushrooms at this point too if you think that sounds good.
4. Let it all cook together for about 15 minutes until you think its heated through and all the flavors have combined.
5. While its cooking boil your bags of rice.
6. Serve the rice topped with the curry sauce mixture!
And, here’s a few pics of the products we used and what the end product looked like.
Monday, November 15, 2010
Sunday, November 14, 2010
This past weekend was just one of those genuinely GREAT weekends. We were productive around the house, got in quality time with each other, friends, and family, and yet relaxed as well!
We started the weekend out friday by meeting after work for happy hour followed by dinner at a local mexican restaurant. On the way home, he stopped and picked up the movie Sex and the City 2 for me since I mentioned at dinner I hadn't seen it yet and wanted to, we watched it in bed that night. Saturday we woke up and cleaned out the garage. Moved all the stuff from the garage out to the shed, and mopped the garage floor. We could only work til 3pm since the HoKies game was on. I ran to the store quick, picked us up some subs and beer and we relaxed in the comfort of our living room while we watched the game. After an AWESOME HOKIE WIN we got ready for date night. Hunter had made 8:15pm dinner reservations just to do something little for our 6 months!! After dinner, we met up with some friends. Sunday, we worked a little bit more around the house and Hunter's parents came over for dinner. I made my ole stand by, Chicken pot pie!! You have to try this receipe. very EASY and very DELISH. We actually cheat by just using one of those already cooked rotessire chickens from the grocery store and Hunter has me add cut up celery to the mixed vegetables, we've thought about adding mushrooms in too but haven't tried it yet. And now after a nice dinner and seeing the rents off we've settled down in our chairs for the evening with a cup of hot tea! I just love this time of year! Thoughts of christmas decor and shopping fill my head and I just feel lots of love and coziness around.
Empty shed ready to be filled...
With all this STUFF
I'm going to be posting this week all about our upcoming christmas party! I did the shopping for the decor last thursday (when I had off work for veterans day) and started some projects for it today :) xoxo