Wednesday, December 30, 2009

I need a Cocktail Stat!!!

With the New Years Hub bub and the closing of the decade (good riddance), I'm definitely in the mood for a cocktail. So here are a few favorite recipes from my Epicuious Iphone App that you should definitely consider for New Years....Have a great one and be careful out there!




Cosmopolitan Champagne Cocktail

Yield: Makes 10 drinks
Active Time: 15 min.
Total Time: 2 1/4 hr.

Ingredients
1 1/4 cups Cointreau or Grand Marnier
1 1/4 cups cranberry juice cocktail
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
3 tablespoons superfine granulated sugar
4 cups chilled Champagne or other sparkling wine


Preparation
Stir together Cointreau, juices, and sugar and chill, covered, 2 to 6 hours. Just before serving, divide among 10 Champagne flutes and top off with Champagne.





Old Fashioned- for your inner Don Draper...

Yield: Makes 1 drink
This adaptation of a classic recipe comes from Eben Freeman, bartender of Tailor Restaurant in New York City.

Ingredients
1 1/2 teaspoons (1/4 ounce) club soda
1 sugar cube (preferably rough-cut and unbleached*) or 1/2 teaspoon raw sugar, such as turbinado or Demerara
Dash Angostura Bitters
5 tablespoons (2 1/2 ounces) whiskey
1 cup ice
1 (1/2-inch-thick) strip orange peel
1 (1/2-inch-thick) strip lemon peel

Preparation
In chilled cocktail shaker or pint glass, pour club soda over sugar cube. Using muddler or back of large spoon, gently crush sugar cube. Swirl glass until sugar dissolves, 20 to 30 seconds. Add bitters, whiskey, and ice, and stir until well chilled, about 20 seconds. Strain into chilled double old-fashioned glass. Squeeze orange and lemon peels over glass, making sure oils fall into glass; discard peels and serve.




Retro Cool - The Manhattan

Ingredients
Shaker with ice
Hearty shot of bourbon
Splash of sweet vermouth
Dash of bitters


Preparation
Fill a shaker with ice.

Add a hearty shot of bourbon.

Add a splash of sweet vermouth and dash of bitters.

You can also add a few drops of maraschino cherry juice, not that I can vouch for that stuff.

Shake and strain into a martini glass, and garnish with a maraschino cherry. If you're hungover or not in the mood for the fancy glass just drink it on the rocks.






Sweet tea with Vodka & Lemonade - For my southern peeps...

Yield: Makes 8

Ingredients
2 large tea bags for iced tea
1/2 cup boiling water
8 fresh mint sprigs
4 cups lemonade made from frozen concentrate
1/2 cup vodka
Ice cubes
8 lemon slices

Ingredient tip: To streamline this recipe, you can use one cup Sweet Tea Vodka from South Carolina's Firefly Distillery in place of the tea and the vodka. For a list of distributors, go to fireflyvodka.com.

Preparation
Place tea bags in medium bowl. Add 1/2 cup boiling water. Let steep 4 minutes. Discard tea bags. Place mint sprigs in large pitcher; mash with muddler or handle of wooden spoon until slightly bruised. Pour in tea, lemonade, and vodka. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.

Fill 8 highball glasses with ice. Divide sweet tea among glasses. Garnish with lemon slices.

photo by: Elinor Carucci





- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Garlic Knots Recipe- Totally Easy and Within Reach



I'm in the middle of transitioning from Iphone pictures to my new DSLR so stay tuned....

But until then I give you Garlic Knots.

I used to have a love/hate relationship with baking bread....Love to eat it but hate to make it. Then a bread baker gave me a tip to always have your bread rise....Add sugar. Yeast loves sugar and feeds off it. Its like giving it a little jolt of caffeine.

My favorite bread has got to be the garlic knot...Its amazing....The ultimate guilty pleasure in the bread world. Because who wouldn't love to wallow in a garlic butter pool of wonder? 

Here is my recipe....

3 cups of all purpose flour
3/4 cup lukewarm water
1tbsp sugar
1 package highly active yeast (If you are like me you need all the help you can get)
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp of olive oil

Directions: 
Combine water, yeast and sugar. Let the yeast proof up (wait approx. 15-20 min) Add the olive oil and then the flour & salt. You can do this in a food processor or in a Kitchenaid Mixer with the dough hook....Or with the two hands God gave you....The choice is yours....If you use your hands make sure after you incorporate the dough to knead it until it feels smooth and elastic.

 Remember playdough when you used to roll the dough to make snakes? Use this method with your dough. Take a 2-3 inch piece (depending how many and how big you want your knots) and roll out then make a single knot. Put on on a baking sheet and bake at 375 degrees for about 20 minutes.

Garlic Sauce
1 stick of unsalted butter
5 large cloves of garlic (more or less is up to you....I make no judgements)
1 tsp kosher salt
2 tbsp of chopped Italian Parsley
Saute butter and garlic until translucent....Pour over baked garlic knots. Garnish with chopped Italian parsley. And why not go crazy with some parmesean cheese? Yes.....

Monday, December 28, 2009

Christmas Holiday -Part II

We are currently on our way back from VA (sans blizzard and worrying for our lives) so I thought I would recap the rest of our adventure before we get back to our everyday nesting responsibilities (there are heaps waiting for me)

So I humbly present the Christmas extravaganza:




Before



After! My new DSLR - Canon Eos XSI



From my sis? A dog treat cookbook complete with cookie cutters! Cannot wait to try this.



Yarn from my mom! This is the same yarn from my baby blanket. Cannot wait to use it.



Another present from sis...and no she didn't buy it too small... It's a baby shirt for our non-existent children... Push much? But it's super cute and perfect for our future children considering their father is a member of the Kiss Army...Really.




Great movie!!!!

So excited. Have yet to download my newest photos from the new camera but looking forward to learning everything on digital photography....

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, December 25, 2009

2009 Holiday Wrap-up -Part 1




(My Christmas Present!!! Canon Eos XSI)

Funny thing when you start and maintain a blog...Your family is constantly asking you if:

1) what you are doing is going to be recorded in the blog

Or

2) when your next blog post is going to be posted

But this has been a great first Christmas for "The Nesting Project". I was able to participate in the Bon Appetit 12 Days of Cookies Extravaganza and the Great Big Pie Bakeoff.

We risked our life going north in a blizzard to my parents house but got our first truly snowy Christmas.

We've had fun with our family and seeing my new nephew born earlier this year.


Here is my Sis Melanie, husband Michael and nephew Alexander..


Cooking and baking was had by all including my brother-in-law's favorite, apple pie. I even hot to share the recipe of my fav crust (pate brisee) with my mom.


We also had my Mom make her traditional Christmas Eve, Sausage Canapes...


Recipe:

1lb Jimmy Dean Sausage
1(rye or sourdough) party loaf
Mayonnaise
Paprika
8 oz Mozzarella Cheese

Cook the sausage and let cool mix in the fancy shredded mozzarella. Thinly Spread mayonnaise on each slice of party bread and add roughly a tablspoon of the sausage mixture. Sprinkle paprika on top. Bake for 10 minutes in a 350 degree oven....



Then we all competed in some Wii games (doubles tennis anyone?) Galaga and also Donkey Kong joined in with pool and bank shot basketball.


And don't forget PRESENTS!!! But that is for Part 2....Merry Christmas!



- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Day 12 of Twelve Days of Bon Appetit Cookies






Whew! It's been a wild ride but I'm finally getting my last post in under the wire. As you've seen from my previous posts, I've had an eventful Christmas season. But in the past two days we've made up for it with my first snowman





(I'm a native Floridian)





and a snowball fight.

But I did make my last recipe before I left on our crazy trip. I wish you all a Merry Christmas, and Holiday Season. These cookies are perfect for Santa. I would make them again....





Recipe:
ingredients

Cookies
3 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
2 tablespoons sour cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Additional sugar

Icing
4 cups (or more) sifted powdered sugar (sifted, then measured)
3 tablespoons (or more) whole milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Colored sugar crystals, sprinkles, and/or decors
Food-safe colored markers (such as FooDoodler pens; see note*)
print a shopping list for this recipe

preparation

For cookies:
Sift first 3 ingredients into medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat butter and 1 cup sugar in large bowl to blend well. Add egg, sour cream, and vanilla; beat 1 minute. Beat in dry ingredients in 2 additions until just blended. Gather dough together; divide in half. Flatten each half into disk; wrap in plastic and chill 1 hour. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Keep chilled. Soften dough slightly at room temperature before rolling out.)
Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Sprinkle work surface and top of dough disks with additional sugar. Working with 1 disk at a time, roll out dough to 1/4-inch thickness (dough will be very soft). Using assorted 2- to 3-inch cookie cutters, cut out cookies. Transfer to prepared sheets, spacing 1 inch apart. Gather scraps and roll out on sugared surface; cut out more cookies. Repeat until all dough is used. Chill all cookies on baking sheets at least 15 minutes and up to 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake cookies, 1 sheet at a time, until light golden at edges, about 12 minutes. Transfer cookies to racks and cool completely.

For icing:
Combine 4 cups powdered sugar, 3 tablespoons milk, and vanilla in medium bowl. Stir until icing is well blended, smooth, and spreadable, adding more milk by teaspoonfuls if too thick or more sugar by tablespoonfuls if too thin. Using small icing spatula or table knife, spread thin layer of icing atop each cookie. If using colored sugar crystals, sprinkle over cookies before icing sets. If using food-safe colored markers, let icing dry about 30 minutes; decorate cookies as desired. (Can be made 3 days ahead. Store airtight between sheets of waxed paper at room temperature.)

*The Bon Appetit test-kitchen staff used food-safe colored markers, called FooDoodler pens, to decorate these cookies. The markers are available at Sur La Table stores or can be ordered from King Arthur Flour (800-827-6836) or bakerscatalogue.com.

And don't forget to visit the other 12 Days of Cookies Bloggers:
Andrea of Andrea's Recipes (honorary member and our founder but not participating this year)
Claire of The Barefoot Kitchen
Courtney of Coco Cooks
Di of Di's Kitchen Notebook
Judy of No Fear Entertaining
Kelly of Sass & Veracity
Michelle of Big Black Dog
RJ of Flamingo Musings
Sandy of At the Baker's Bench

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday, December 21, 2009

Our Descent into the belly of the beast- the Winter Blizzard of 2009

I have impeccable timing.

Like when we decide to go to my parents the same time the worst blizzard in 50 years shows up...

Yeah that kind of timing....








On Friday we set out for Fredericksburg, VA and on Sunday at 1 am we got to our destination.

We were casualities of the Blizzard of '09. We were originally meant to leave on Saturday morning until we got a call from my Dad on Friday morning that if we didn't go now then we wouldn't be able to.

So we threw our stuff in the car and got on the road...

And it was raining....hard...

Then we got to Knoxville and it was sleeting...

We got past Bristol and we were in a full Blizzard fearing for our lives. Going 30 miles an hour in those conditions feels like 70 mph when you've NEVER driven in snow before and you are driving up mountains and down mountains...









Then we get to Blacksburg, VA and were stopped for three hours. So I get on Twitter to see what's going on and find out from the Roanoke Times that they've shut down the interstate. (side note: they also interviewed me and included me in their story of sad sacks caught in the storm)

Sooo we are sleeping in the car... Thankfully we had almost a full tank of gas so we kept the car and heat on all night.








There isnt a lot to do in that situation except make your husband do silly things...
(see below to the Youtube channel for interesting dance moves from the hubby)

We didn't move until 11:30 am on Saturday....and more importantly we had nothing to eat except for the snacks Toby had purchased at the gas station prior to sleeping in the car.

And that didn't change. Nobody was open or came to work. So we had NO caffeine and no food and a whole another day of driving.

Nice...this will be fun.

Especially since you saw in our prior post we were already spent from expelling a pool in our basement.








So we drive and drive and drive and it's still snowing and roads are covered in snow, ice....

And we get on Ithat's d feel confident that this road will be plowed and cleared... I mean it's a major artery in the US...

Yeah not so much...

And then we hit another traffic jam. And I descended into an EPIC meltdown....

But my husband said we needed to push on....so we did.

We got off at my parents exit and then they realized their roads may not be plowed and we would have to stay at a hotel.

Sigh...

We got as far as my parents street and then we got stuck....Really stuck....

3 hours stuck....

Neighbors came to our rescue and we towed it to my parents driveway at 1 am....

We had no words between us. Most people thought these circumstances would push us to be at each others throats. But we mostly commiserated... We survived the Blizzard of 2009.

Barely....

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone


Thursday, December 17, 2009

Day 11 of Bon Appetit 12 days of Cookies







am really honored and excited to be a part of this group of Bakers and Bloggers to participate in baking a Christmas Cookie Recipe each day for the first twelve days of December. Each one of us will choose from an extravaganza of Bon Appetit Cookies recipes My mission? Choose from all of these great recipes from Bon Appetit and keep up with all of these great bloggers.

Day 11-I come you from the watery depths of my basement. My washing machine broke and spewed tons of water all night. In fact this is my husbands way of telling me: he texted me this...





By the way i was only upstairs when I received said text. The subject: Gulp...

So I'm glad I finished my Day 11 cookies last night. I bring you

Chocolate Stars

Now I was warned about these stars from No Fear Entertaining. So I was determined to fix the recipe. As expected the first bath came out like this:





Not like the picture so I decided that after I cut out the cookies I would put them in the freezer on the baking sheet for 5 minutes and then into the oven as noted. I got these:





Woohoo! I really feel I've redeemed my ghosts of cookie past fails.

So if you want to make these add that step and you should have good looking stars...


Recipe:

INGREDIENTS
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup (about 3 1/2 ounces) finely crushed red-and-white-striped hard peppermint candies

PREPARATION
Sift flour, cocoa, and salt into medium bowl. Beat butter and sugar in large bowl until smooth. Beat in vanilla. Add dry ingredients; beat until dough holds together. Divide dough in half. Shape each piece into disk. Wrap in plastic; chill until firm enough to roll, at least 45 minutes and up to 1 day.
Set rack in center of oven and preheat to 300°F. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment. Roll out 1 dough disk on floured surface to 1/4-inch thickness. Using 3-inch star-shaped cutter, cut out cookies. Transfer to sheets, spacing 1 inch apart. Gather scraps into ball. Wrap; chill until firm, about 30 minutes.
Bake cookies, 1 sheet at a time, until tops feel firm to touch, about 25 minutes. Cool on sheets 10 minutes. Transfer to racks and cool completely. Repeat rolling, cutting, and baking until all dough is used. DO AHEAD Can be made ahead. Store airtight at room temperature up to 3 days or freeze up to 2 weeks.

Stir chocolate in small metal bowl set over saucepan of barely simmering water until smooth. Using small spoon, drizzle chocolate over cookies in zigzag lines. Sprinkle with crushed candies. Drizzle remaining chocolate over. Let stand until chocolate is set, at least 1 hour. DO AHEAD Can be made 3 days ahead. Store cookies between sheets of waxed paper in airtight container at room temperature.

And don't forget to visit the other 12 Days of Cookies Bloggers:
Andrea of Andrea's Recipes (honorary member and our founder but not participating this year)
Claire of The Barefoot Kitchen
Courtney of Coco Cooks
Di of Di's Kitchen Notebook
Judy of No Fear Entertaining
Kelly of Sass & Veracity
Michelle of Big Black Dog
RJ of Flamingo Musings
Sandy of At the Baker's Bench

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Bon Appetit Cookie Fail and Today's Subsequent Cup of Rant


(Yes this picture is a JOKE)

Ok so I tried the Pecan Lace Cookies and they were a major fail....I don't have the heart to post the ugly pictures folks but I'm not going to ignore that they were a fail either.... So instead of a cookie post - I'm going to start something I call my Cup of Rant.....

Today's Cup of Rant is about marriage....I was reading a great post on the McMommy Chronicles the other day that left me in stitiches. Click here to see it.

However, I cannot write about children, having children or any of those things....I can however write about marriage....

I've been married 6 years now. And since I'm close to the Seven Year Itch (ok we saw that movie the other day and I thought it was hilarious) I feel I have enough background to have some authority in what I'm about to say....

Lately all of heard is that "I didn't know how hard marriage was going to be"

I'm really sick of hearing this...

Who exactly is propagating this myth? I mean we all have seen the Lifetime Channel right? The Burning Bed? And yes those are extreme cases and not always true but I'm sure a lot of them were "ripped from the headlines" so exactly who has been pulling the wool over your eyes?

Reasons why you shouldn't be surprised that "marriage is not easy" (as I see it - so don't be sending me angry emails why husbands and wives should never fight...Sell crazy somewhere else)

1. Men do not have the "guilt gene" That is a female characteristic. If its your birthday and he wants to go golfing with his friends and you tell him its ok, you have no one to blame but yourself. Tell him to get his butt on the couch and rub your feet and enjoy....(sans guilt of course)

2. (I preface the statement you are about to read with the fact that I'm writing from a female hetero point of view) You are married to a man.... That's it... Just because they have some of the same likes and dislikes doesn't mean your exactly alike. They process things completely differently (see above)

3. When you had roomates or for that matter lived with your friends/best friends/etc how did that work out for you? Occasionally you got on each other's nerves, wanted to be alone, or wanted to throw them out the window right?

4.  Unless you are marrying your brother (no jokes about the region where I live...) you and your husband were mostly likely raised differently providing different ways at looking at things....This may have been exciting and mysterious when you were dating, but guess what -  that hasn't changed.

5. You have in-laws....And yes this is coming from someone who at their Rehearsal dinner walked into see two separate rows of tables for the Jets and the Sharks....(no I'm not kidding)

6. You have parents - You think you had arguments with your parents about your life decisions before you got married?  Ha! I laugh at that. Throw a spouse in the mix and see how dicey it gets....

7.  If your friend is married and says they never fight and never divulges information that she has ever had an issue with her husband ever - She is lying....End the friendship (or lack thereof) and find someone who lives in reality....

8.  Spending every second with your spouse will only drive you crazy....That does not make a great marriage.You know the whole absence makes the heart grow....blah blah blah.... Sometimes you need to spend time with your friends and vent and then realize that your husband is better than you thought....

9. Have you ever known anybody that you never fought with? Bueller....Bueller....Bueller? If so that person was not significant enough in your life for it to count.

10. There is always making up....

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Which Camera Would You Choose?

Believe it or not this is my 104th post... As a blogger that is huge because journaling has never been my strong suit. I mean I had a diary when I was a kid because you didn't have to write in a diary every day... And then I still would forget to write in it.

But I have so much good material in my zany life that this stuff usually writes itself. (more to come in my year-end wrap up special)

So... I've learned alot and the whole blogging from my iPhone has always been my thing but the more food I want to post the less I like my photos...(we don't pay for good lighting)

So I've decided it's time to get a good camera... I've done my research and narrowed it down to these two:




the Nikon D70

or





the Canon Eos Rebel XTI

I've read every review and they are both super close so I need feedback from photogs and bloggers alike...Which One?!?!




- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday, December 14, 2009

It's a Pie Bakeoff - Holiday Style!


I can't believe it's time again for a bakeoff! But this month's theme- Holiday pies is perfect for this time of year. After you read this post don't forget to go to the official blog of the Great Big Pie Bakeoff and check out our other participants. But below our the founding members:

Lori from RecipeGirl
Sandie from Inn Cuisine
Patsy from Family, Friends & Food
Donal from The Good Mood Food Blog

Now as I searched for the holiday pie I was going to make I wanted to showcase my Gingerbread Crusted Apple Pie but that was given a thumbs down from my husband. Too boring....Sigh....Everyone's a critic.



So I decided to search for a new pie recipe that echoed all the tastes of the holiday season.

I settled for Chocolate Maple Pecan Pie.





This pie originated as a recipe on Epicurious for Texas Chocolate Pecan Pie. And when I got home late after a Christmas Tea Soiree I realized:

I had no Corn Syrup....

Argggggh!

After a mini-meltdown (Julie & Julia Style....it was Julie I was melting down like) I decided to change the recipe and substituted Maple Syrup. When this was baking it had so many wonderful smells.

Toasted Pecan
Maple
Chocolate
Awesome....



Hope you enjoy and have a wonderful holiday with your family and friends.

Ingredients:
Crust
1 cup all purpose flour
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, chilled, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons (or more) ice water

Filling
4 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter

1/2 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
3 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup maple syrup
1 1/2 cups pecan pieces, lightly toasted


Preparation
For crust:
Combine first 4 ingredients in processor. Using on/off turns, process until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Drizzle 2 tablespoons ice water over mixture. Process just until moist clumps form, adding more water by teaspoonfuls if mixture is dry. Gather dough into ball. Flatten into disk. Wrap dough in plastic and refrigerate 30 minutes. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Keep refrigerated.)

Preheat oven to 325°F. Roll out dough on floured surface to 13-inch round. Transfer to 9-inch-diameter glass pie dish. Trim overhang to 1 inch; fold under and crimp decoratively. Set aside.

For filling:
Stir chocolate and butter in heavy small saucepan over low heat until melted. Cool slightly.

Whisk brown sugar, eggs and salt in large bowl to blend. Whisk in maple syrup and chocolate mixture. Sprinkle pecans over unbaked crust. Pour filling over pecans. Bake until crust is golden and filling is puffed, about 55 minutes.

Cool pie completely on rack.



- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Christmas Tea at the English Rose -A necessary tradition




One of the coolest traditions my best friend included me in was the Christmas tea at a wonderful English Tea Room called the English Rose in Chattanooga, TN.

A group of us go (the rest of the group has been going for about 8 years) and have an amazing time having tea and eating and um.....eating and then eating some more....oh yeah there is also caroling - which is my favorite...besides the eating


Just in case you thought I was joking about the eating....here is the menu.



These are the crackers we pull in the beginning to get our hats we are required to wear.


This is how we look in said hats...your jealous...I can feel it.


This is how we strike a pose in said hats....



Traditional English Shrimp cocktail



Cream of Carrot Soup



Coronation Chicken Salad



Mushroom Vol Au Vems (no I have no idea what that means)




This is what you call the "Main Event" yeah step aside Mike Tyson...



Smoked Salmon tea sandwiches & sausage rolls



Fresh Fruit



Sticky Toffee Pudding bathed in Brandy... It included my fortune of a nickel.



Caroling


The words for the Twelve Days of Christmas "English Tea Style"

I had an amazing time with some great ladies. Bring it on Christmas!

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