30.11.09

A Girl Can Dream...

So I know I haven't even finished my skirt yet but one day I aspire to make a dress as beautiful as the one Zoe Kazan is wearing in this week's Best Dressed on Vogue.com.  Come on! The ruffles and fluffy A-line skirt! Yum!

29.11.09

My Christmas List

I used to love making a Christmas list as a kid.  I didn't just write out a list, though. My list was adorn with pictures cut from the various Christmas catalogues. I rarely got everything on my list but I didn't mind.  I just liked cutting the pictures out and pasting them to paper. I figured since we have survived Thanksgiving and Christmas is almost here, I would make a hypothetical Christmas list (but feel free to pass along any ideas to the Boyfriend - although we aren't exchanging gifts this year, my birthday is soon after that.)

1.  DVD's - specifically...
Annie (the one with Carol Burnett and Bernadette Peters)- I used to watch this about once a week as a child. I even was in the junior version in middle school.
The Wizard of Oz - I used to watch this just about everyday when I was little.  I must of been an odd child considering most children were scared of the flying monkeys.
The American President - WHY DO I NOT OWN THIS MOVIE?!
First Season of The West Wing - Ok, ok. I love fictional presidential drama.

2. Fabric. Yes, I know I haven't even finished that skirt I have been working on yet but I feel an intense hobby coming on.

3. A gift card to J. Crew. Oh and Nordstrom. And H&M. Well, I guess just a VISA gift card will do.

3. Spinning shoes. I am officially obsessed!

4. A new camera. Mine is so angry with me for taking way too many pictures. More specifically the Canon PowerShot SD 780 IS.

5. Jewelry from Pink Street. So pretty!

6. A Phillip's Senseo.

7. Oh and I suppose a trip or two to France. Giggle.

24.11.09

American Pie

I am a bad person. Either that, or I am just crazy.

But seriously, I blame the Boyfriend.

And I can tell you what happened because he doesn't read my blog.

This all started about a week ago. The BF emailed me at work to say that a slice of apple pie was in our fridge - wait, no that's not accurate - a HUMONGOUS HOME-MADE slice of apple pie was in our fridge and not to be touched. One of the ladies at work had made it for his grandfather and he was going to have to go drop it off.

But until then, it was to sit there, taunting me. 

I have no will power. The only reason I am not 500 pounds is because I try and stock my house with healthy snacks like almonds and dried apricots and don't buy the bad stuff.*

Apple pie is my ultimate weakness. I can eat a whole pie in one sitting. And no I don't want to water it down with ice cream. Apple pie is like the cheese to my macaroni as Juno would say.** But, I let the slice of pie be.

Today, I came home to find a whole apple pie sitting on the counter. The BF had informed me that the same sweet lady*** from work made it for the BF, his grandfather, and me to have for Thanksgiving. OK this is plain mean. I have to wait two whole days!

But it had a crumbled topping. And when it comes to food I never give up. If I learned to pick a lock at the age of ten I can surely eat some of the pie without anyone knowing.

So I took a fork and lifted a little piece of crumble and then lifted a piece of apple with the crumble and pulled out a piece of apple and put it in my mouth.**** Ahhh!  SOO GOOD! FOODGASM! It took everything in me not eat more and more.

I put the crumble back down and patted it in place. It was absolutely not noticeable. And then I started to feel guilty. 

So I needed to vent but I couldn't tell the BF. Thanks for listening. Have a Happy Thanksgiving!


* For the Death by Chocolate I made last week, I needed Skor bars. I knew I would be making this a few times over the next couple of weeks for different things so I went to Sam's to get a huge box of them. Because I have no will power, the box is wrapped in packing tape.

** Ahhhhh! Macaroni and cheese!

***I swear she and the Boyfriend are conspiring against me

**** That's what she said!

22.11.09

You Don't Know Jacques!

Just thought I would share a really cool new nail polish I bought - definitely a new favorite.  It is called "You Don't Know Jacques!" by OPI.  Its not quite brown, not quite grey.  It changes colors in different light.  I am normally a coral girl but all these dark new colors were just too tempting to ignore.  

Check out the pictures I took.  (Hand modeling - probably not my calling...) This really only captures one of its colors.



18.11.09

Death by Chocolate

For many years, this dessert was made for me for my birthdays since it was one of my FAVORITE desserts. I love to cook but I am not much of a baker.  No worries here though - this recipe is so easy.  I made this for a work party today and everyone loved it.




Look yummy?  Well, why don't you make it for yourself? And don't wait for your birthday!

DEATH BY CHOCOLATE

1 box of chocolate cake mix (brownies can be substituted)
3 packets of instant chocolate mousse (I like dark or double chocolate)
12 - 16 oz of frozen Cool Whip
8 Heath OR Skor bars (any English toffee bars)
1/2 - 1 cup of Kahlua OR other coffee flavored liqueur

1. Prepare chocolate cake mix according directions on the box.  After baking, let cake cool completely.  Using a fork, poke holes in cake and pour 1/2 to 1 cup of Kahlua over it according to taste. Let soak for 30 minutes.

2. Prepare instant mousse according directions on package.

3. Bang toffee bars with a mallet while still in the wrappers.

4. Take half of cake and crumbled bigger crumbs into bottom of a glass trifle dish.  Spread half of mousse over crumbled cake.  Sprinkle about 3 toffee bars and about 3/4 of another bar over mousse.  Spread half of cool whip over toffee bars.

5. Repeat step 4 again so there are two layers of each ingredient.  

6. If you used about 3 and 3/4 bar for each toffee bar layer you will notice that you have about 1/2 of a toffee bar left.  I usually sprinkle this on top of the last layer of cool whip to show what is "inside" the dessert.

* This was actually the first time I had used a brownie mix over a cake mix.  I normally get the chocolate cake mix with pudding in mix.  Since I had brownie mix on hand I figured why not? I decided to follow the directions on the box for cake-like brownies.  I think next time I will use the directions for fudge brownies because the cake-like brownies were a little dry.

Enjoy!

17.11.09

Please Julia, Can I Have Some More?

I guess my love of cooking began with my love of eating. I have always loved food and was never a picky eater. I started cooking in elementary school and never stopped.

In middle school, someone made the mistake of getting me a camcorder much to the dismay of my family and friends. I recorded EVERYTHING. (Yes, three hours of my siblings opening Christmas presents would be an essential one day.)  But along with documenting real life, I began to record my own cooking shows. My dad's second wife started calling me "Julia" and as soon as I figured out who she was, I would even record some of my cooking shows while mimicking her distinct voice.

Through high school, I spent many hours in front of the tv watching the Food Network noting how many of the chefs mentioned Julia during their shows. One day, I thought, I will get a Julia Child cookbook and cook just like her.

When I was living in France for the semester, I tried to find a cookbook to bring home that encompassed all of French cooking.  This is nearly impossible without spending a fortune on a book like Larousse Gastromique since cuisine there is quite regional.  I still loved browsing the cookbook section of Mollat looking at all of the beautiful pictures and french words.  I spent hours there.  Although I love a Barnes and Nobles all the way down to your local private bookstore, there is just something ultimately sexy about a French bookstore.  I guess even books are sexier in France.  I have come to the conclusion it was best that I didn't get one there. One, I would have to do a little translation which I probably would have enjoyed. But I would have also had to do conversions of the measurements. Ick.

With the recent release of the movie, Julie & Julia, her cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, which she wrote with Louisette Bertholle and Simone Beck, has been everywhere.  But at a cover price of $40, I just couldn't justify buying it.

Last night, the BF and I went to Sam's to pick up some Heath bars for a dessert I was making (recipe to come later) and I decided to browse the cookbooks for a second.  And there she was in all of her "mastery" - at $25! I sat there for a moment and then picked her up and ran my fingers over her cover.  She was beautiful.  The BF walked down the aisle to find me holding her close to my chest with tears in my eyes.  (You think I am joking.  I'm not.)  

"What's that?" he asked.

"It's THE cookbook.  Julia!  It's Julia!  At $25!  It is normally $40!"  I could barely get my words out.

"I don't know what you are saying."  He says this to me a lot.

"That movie I dragged you to see with all of the old ladies."

"OH!  That cookbook."  He really gets me.

I held her close and walked down the aisle.  And then I remembered my promise to myself.  I wasn't supposed to be spending money on things I didn't need.  And although my heart was saying I needed her, my head knew that I didn't.  I put her in the BF's hands.

"Take her.  I shouldn't spend the money."  He turned the corner of the aisle and she was gone.

Today, I came home and checked the pork loin that had been in the crock pot all day.  It smelled delicious.  I turned away to go walk the dog and then something caught my eye.  I almost missed it.  It seemed like it should have been there all along.  Her beautiful turquoise cover with little white fleur-de-lis all in perfect little rows.  I almost cried. I love her but I think I might love him just a little bit more.

16.11.09

Avocado and Orange Salad

So I made empanadas and salad for dinner tonight but I burnt the bottoms. I am not sure if it was the fact that I used aluminum foil instead of the parchment paper that the recipe called for or the fact that I sprayed the aluminum foil with Pam. Besides the burnt bottoms, the boyfriend and I thought something was missing. We thought it was maybe the cloves I omitted since I didn't have any.


But then I realized - I FORGOT THE CHEESE!!! How could I forget about cheese!? So until I practice a little more on the recipe for the empanadas, I am not going to share it. Especially since I made some modifications. But I thought the salad came out pretty well so here it is:

AVOCADO-ORANGE SALAD

I got this recipe from a friend at work, Julie, who got it from Cooks Illustrated. It is a really refreshing and healthy.

1/4 cup lime juice from 2 limes
2 small garlic cloves, minced
1 medium jalapaño chile, minced (I only used about 1 teaspoon)
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
1/4 cup olive oil
table salt and ground black pepper (I rarely use table salt unless I am baking so I used Mediterranean sea salt)
romaine lettuce
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves (they said to dry and stem them - I just stemmed them and threw them on the romaine)
1/2 medium onion sliced thin
1 avocado, halved and sliced
2 large oranges, segmented

1. Whisk lime juice, garlic, jalapaño, and orange zest together in a medium bowl; whisk in oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

2. Put onion, avocado, and orange segments on top of romaine and cilantro. Pour dressing over top. (Recipe version - Pour all but 2 tablespoons over lettuce and cilantro; toss to coat. Toss onion and avocado in remaining dressing. Arrange onion, avocado, and segments over lettuce.)

The original dressing also called for 1 teaspoon cumin seed, toasted in small dry skillet over medium heat until golden but I only had ground cumin so I decided to omit it. But if you have it toast it and throw it in there.

Enjoy!

12.11.09

what I need to rent now

There are plenty of cinematic works I have been meaning to see.  Some are more recent, so I am not that far behind, and some are from when I was in middle school.  If I had a whole weekend to lounge on the couch these are the top ten DVDs I would rent first:

1.  Coco Avant Chanel*
2.  The September Issue*
3.  Fight Club
4.  Paris, Je t'aime
5.  Ghosts of Girlfriends Past**
6.  Monsoon Wedding
7.  Up
8.  Revolutionary Road
9.  Milk
10. Season 5 of Alias***

* Ok, I am pretty sure the first two are not out on DVD yet, but obviously they did not come to the theater in Salisbury because it's Salisbury. I am anxiously awaiting their arrival to Redbox. Or are they not even going to come to the Redboxes in Salisbury? I guess I will have to get Netflix for a month.

** Yes, I know Matthew McConaughy is in this. But didn't you enjoy How to Lose A Guy in Ten Days?  (See number 10 for clarification on Jennifer Garner.)

*** I became hooked on Alias during my freshman year of high school on a weekend when ABC Family played a weekend-long marathon. After that I cried if I ever missed an episode. But I have a theory that Lost ruined Alias by taking away J.J. Abrams' attention, therefore making Alias way too weird. Season 5 began during my freshman year of college and its weirdness was no match for the OC parties everyone was having. But I still really want to know what exactly happened to Vaughn, Sydney, and their baby.

What DVDs have you been meaning to rent?

10.11.09

Sewing Marie

I joined a website called BurdaStyle a few months ago because you can get free sewing patterns. I have never sewed an article of clothing before and after piecing the pattern together today, I AM SO FRUSTRATED! Why are sewing patterns so confusing??

I bought this beautiful fabric at the fabric store this past weekend and I was so excited to sew it into Burda's beautiful Marie skirt and now I just want to cry. I don't like when inanimate objects make me feel stupid, but the paper pattern sitting on my dining room table right now is doing just that.

First off, how am I supposed to use the big piece I cut out? One for the front and one for the back of the skirt? Because that just makes it seem like the skirt is going to very asymmetrical and I know that isn't the way it is supposed to be. And why did I have to buy interfacing?

Maybe I just need to sleep on it. I bought fabric for lining so maybe I can start with that. Or maybe I need to go to the fabric store again and find the cheapest fabric I can find to practice with. But that just seems like a waste of my time. Why put in all of that work and effort and have nothing to show for it?

Has anyone else taught themselves to sew? Was it this frustrating at first?

Ok, ok, enough complaining. Have a good night! Tomorrow is hump day!

9.11.09

Bordeaux me manque

Today in spin class, my instructor was talking about biking through the vineyards of Bordeaux and it made miss living there.  Here is a top ten list of the things I miss (in no particular order):

1. Sushi and coffee dates with mon amie française, Jenny
2. Meeting new and fabulous people, French and foreign
3. Walking everywhere. Around a beautiful city.  And losing 15 pounds because of it.
6.  The feeling of newness everyday
7.  Eating a lot of great fresh food and pastries.  Followed by more food and pastries.
8. Gawking at all the beautiful people with their perfect hair, clothes and shoes
9.  Speaking french, bien sûr
10. After getting myself through yet another foreigner mishap (which happened almost daily), feeling like I could do anything

8.11.09

Specific Gravity: Pizzeria & Bottle Shop

On Saturday, we had some friends in town so we thought it would be a good night to try out the new pizza place in Salisbury, Specific Gravity. It is located on East College Avenue right behind SoBo's and next to Viva Espresso. We were hungry early so we went around 5 pm.

When you walk in, you encounter long bar tables with bar stools along with a small bar in the corner. Basically, unless you have a huge group of people, you are sharing a table with strangers but this really doesn't seem like it would be a problem unless the place is very crowded.  The only thing that bothered me was, when we got to the resto, there was a couple sitting next to each other so they could see the one tv since the game was on.  So instead of taking up two seats, they were essentially taking up four, which wouldn't have been a problem, except for when it started to get crowded there was a struggle for groups to find seats.  I really feel like the resto needs to add at least one more long table. Or perhaps another tv?

On the left side there is an empty area that will soon be a bottle shop.  I am pretty exited to see how it turns.

Now onto food and beverage.  (Just a side note: I drink beer but I prefer wine.  I LOVE pizza.  I like wings but I am not always in the mood.)  The restaurant has a big chalkboard on the wall displaying their beers.  It is always changing but they always have a selection of Evolution beers, which comes from a local brewery in Delmar, Delaware.  They have the bitterness next to each beer which is helpful for a girl like me who cannot really handle a very bitter beer. We decided to all share a pitcher ($15) of Evolution's Primal Pale Ale to start.  I like this but, again, I am not a beer drinker so that is really all I can say about it.  We had another beer after that, which was too bitter for me.  The name escapes me.

Boyfriend and his friend, Devin, got Buffalo wings to start.  They seemed to enjoy them.  You can choose what type of preparation you want (Jerk, Whitehaven, Buffalo, Chipotle Honey BBQ, Key Largo) and what type of sauce (Honey Cilantro Mustard, Bleu Cheese, Ranch, Chipotle Honey BBQ).  The chalkboard has a off-the-menu wing as well - Saturday's was Garlic and Herb.  One pound of wings are $8.50 and two pounds are $15.

Devin's fiancé, Chrissy, and I got salads to start.  You can get a single for $4 or a share for $7. Chrissy got a Caprese salad with tomato, fresh mozzarella, basil, olive oil and a balsamic reduction.  It was beautifully stacked with huge pieces of mozzarella and tomatoes.  Chrissy seemed to really enjoy it.  I got a Greek salad (no olives) with lettuce, tomato, artichoke heart, red onion, feta, fresh herbs (which I did not see) and balsamic.  They also adding pieces of fresh bread which really put me over the edge - anything with fresh bread automatically is better in my book.  I think they could have used better lettuce though.  My salad was not as beautifully presented as Chrissy's but it tasted pretty good and was still pretty large for a single.

The pizzas come in either a personal pizza with four pieces or a larger pizza with six.  The pizzas range in price from $4.50 to $15 depending on the size and type of pizza.  We all got personal pizzas.  The guys each got a Cheeseburger pizza topped with ground beef, green peppers, onions, fries and a thick crust.  They both said that it was decent but could use more ground beef and less cheese.  Chrissy got a Bruschetta Pomodoro pizza with diced tomatoes, onions, garlic, fresh mozzarella and basil.  She said that it had way too much cheese and could have used more toppings.  I got the Mushroom and Onion pizza.  I think the sautéed onions made the pizza too greasy, especially with the exorbitant amount of cheese.

I will probably go back in a couple months once they have been open for awhile.  Since I am not a beer girl, I am hoping the pizzas get better.  Note to the chef: Less cheese is more.

5.11.09

a favorite variation on eggs: bacon and egg casserole

Along with my french toast casserole, I often make bacon and egg casserole if I will be having a group of people over for breakfast, just in case some prefer savory over sweet.  I got this recipe a few years ago from a co-worker who often brought in yummy treats for breakfast.

Bacon and Egg Casserole

6 slices of bread (crusts removed)
4 Tablespoons of butter
2 cups shredded sharp cheese
5 eggs, beaten well
2 cups half & half
1 jar of real bacon pieces
1 teaspoon salt

1.  Melt butter in 9 x 13 glass baking dish.
2.  Tear bread into pieces & sprinkle over the melted butter.
3.  Sprinkle bacon pieces over bread pieces.
4.  Sprinkle cheese over bacon.
5.  Beat eggs with half & half and salt; pour over mixture.
6. Cover and chill 8 hours over night.
7.  Bake at 350 degrees for 40 to 50 minutes or until set.

* Just a word of caution, make sure you get the jar of real bacon pieces NOT bacon bits.

3.11.09

a breakfast favorite: french toast casserole

So the other day a friend asked me if I had any breakfast recipes that you can make the day before.  There are two recipes I use when I have a group sleeping over but I don't want to wake up super early and slave away to make breakfast. Baked Apple French Toast is one of these recipes.

My mom actually got this recipe from a Weight Watchers cookbook and started making it some time in the 90s.  Eventually it became my job to make it.  My mom lost the cookbook but I found the recipe online about two years ago.

It is nice because you can make it the morning of, but I think it is better if it sits overnight. (I have even made it the afternoon before.)  I actually add a little more butter on top towards the end of baking.  I guess that makes it a little less "Weight Watchers" but who cares anyways?

Sorry I don't have any pictures.

Baked Apple French Toast

2 apples, peeled and diced (I normally use some type of green apple)
4 slices of bread, cubed (I know that the old recipe called for wheat or multigrain and I think it gives it more flavor that way)
3 Tablespoons of brown sugar, divided
2 teaspoons of cinnamon, divided
2 eggs
1/2 cup of milk
1 Tablespoon of butter
3 Tablespoons of flour (I think the recipe calls for a little much so don't be heavy handed)

1.  Mix eggs, milk, 1 t. cinnamon, 1 T. brown sugar together. Add apples and bread to mixture.
2.  In a different bowl, mix together 1 t. cinnamon, 2 T. brown sugar and flour.  Cut in butter.
3.  If making the night before, store in two different bowls and combine the next day.  If eating immediately put wet mixture in bread pan and sprinkle with butter mixture.
4. Bake at 350 F for 20 to 25 minutes.  (I don't like mine to make soggy, so sometimes I bake a little longer.)

Enjoy!