Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Best Lunchbreak EVER!!!

OK, it didn't involve actually cooking or eating anything (I was starving during my 1 o'clock conference call), but it's not everyday you get a chance to have a cookbook signed by your culinary idol!!!

Ina was SO NICE!!!

You know where my next meal will be from... see you on Sunday!

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Diva Dinner

Everyone's in town to celebrate Bean's First Birthday and Baptism!!! So Peanut and I invited three divas over for dinner: West Coast Diva (Kim), Mountain Time Diva (Nico), and East Coast Diva (L.L.).

Pit came too.

Attendees: Peanut, Kim, Nico, L.L., Pit
Fresh Whiskey Sours
Wafer Crackers with Stilton
Main Course:
Chicken and Waffles!
Brussels Sprouts Lardons
Mixed Berry Pavlova

Fresh whiskey sours are my favorite cocktail by far. However, it's somewhat of a laborious process to make them "fresh"- they require 1 cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice and 1 cup of freshly squeezed lime juice (along with 1.5 cups of whiskey and some sugar syrup, too).

Peanut took a lot of pride in his "tablescape"- he even ironed the napkins!!!

Soon we'll get sick of Stilton, but until we do you will have to continue suffering from pictures like this...

But now for the fun part: Fried Chicken! Can you believe I tried it? Actually, you only fry each piece for around 3-minutes to get the crunchy coating- then you bake it in the oven. Fried chicken is my favorite dish ever, and I even surprised myself with how good it turned out. That said, when we were cleaning up last night, Peanut told me I was only allowed to make it once per year, which is probably good for multiple (e.g., health) reasons.

While some might pair fried chicken with coleslaw or mashed potatoes, I decided to take my cue from Harlem and pair it with waffles, made fresh with the help of Debbie's waffle maker!

Since we were serving the chicken and waffles with maple syrup, we needed something bitter to accompany it. Brussels sprouts lardons was perfect- the bitterness of the brussels sprouts cooked with salt and golden raisins and garnished with pancetta!

The perfect dinner plate!

And for dessert, another one of my favorites: mixed berry pavlova! A disk of merringue smothered in whipped cream with raspberries, blueberries and strawberries tossed in a triple raspberry sauce.

But, let's not forget who's the true diva this weekend....


Sunday, October 19, 2008

Pancake Breakfast

Attendees: Beet, Peach, Gop, Belle, Sheik, Dolly, Peanut, Bean, Betty, and Chuck
Main Course:
Fruit salad, scrambled eggs, and breakfast sausages

Chuck grew up with Sheik, Gop and me, so when he and his wife were in town for vacation, I invited the whole clan over for a pancake breakfast!

Peanut is a master when it comes to pancakes. Yum....

Breakfast sausages!

I made a special pancake for Belle....

Sunday, October 12, 2008

He just gets me!

I arrived home from a week away for work to the most perfect "bouquet" ever: a centerpiece of Twizzlers! Peanut just gets me!

So, I decided it was worth it to make him a simple Sunday evening dinner:

Appetizer: Duo of bleu
Main Course:
Roasted whole chicken

Mashed potatoes and Caesar salad

Root beer floats

We both love bleu cheese, so i decided to compare a Danish Bleu (left) to a Stilton (right). With crackers, we liked the Stilton, but the Danish Bleu would be delicious spread on a baguette!

Don't mess with a classic- Ina Garten's perfect roast chicken (which I finally learned how to carve properly)!

With my mother's version of mashed potatoes.... well, maybe not as much butter as she prefers.

A simple Caesar salad rounded out the meal, with homemade croutons.

It's hard to take a good picture of a root beer float, but it was perfection with Gifford's vanilla... and the perfect drink for watching Mad Men!

We didn't look our best Sunday night, so I just thought I'd throw in a pic from our time in San Francisco with Mary a few weeks ago!

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Sweet Surprise

My colleague has a 12-year old niece who had some pretty serious surgery last week, and I thought "who deserves some homemade sweets more?"

BUT, I'm not used to making food for kids. What would a 12 year-old girl like? They typically hate meringue, right? I decided that sugar cookies were a safe bet (and I found a recipe for my favorite type: crispy on the outside, but gooey in the middle).

They looked boring all by themselves, so I decided to ice them and decorate them simply with some pink crystal sugar.

2-dozen cookies is a lot for one girl. So, I made 4 packages of 1/2 dozen each (so she could share with her sister and cousins, if she wants!). I got Peanut involved, too...

... designing her a special, personalized bag.