Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Hotlanta Housewives!

Attendees: George, Peanut, Cliff (and via satellite, Sheree (yuck!), Lisa, Deshawn, Kim, and NENE!!!)
Water in a wine glass

Homemade pimento cheese spread with crackers

Main Course:
Chicken and Sweet Potato Orange Dumplings


was a disaster! I tried Paula Deen's Lady and Sons peach cobbler, which was a complete and utter failure, so we had ice cream sundaes

I was turned onto The Real Housewives of Atlanta a bit late in the season- what a delicious train wreck! Having no shame, and inspired by Anderson Cooper, I started telling other people about my love of this show and to my surprise I found many closeted fans, ranging from gay bartenders to child health policy researchers! When George told me he was a fan at lunch the other day, I knew that he and Cliff had to come over for the reunion special!

I served water in wine glasses, in honor of our favorite housewife, Nene.

I went totally southern, and for an appetizer made homemade pimento cheese spread care of the Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook. This entailed roasting a red pepper in the oven, which is one of my simplest, but most rewarding, culinary experiences.

The stock for the chicken and dumplings was flavored simply with onions, carrots and celery. Instead of potatoes, I again turned to Lee Bros. and used their recipe for sweet potato and orange dumplings, which seemed appropriately seasonal.

There's nothing like the smell that escapes from a pot in which you had just browned chicken when adding wine:

George was really excited to take pictures that I would post. Here is his snapshot of the main course, chicken and dumplings:

My sister-in-law, Peach, is from Georgia and her grandmother always made her chicken and dumplings with creamed corn for her birthday. I decided not to go the creamed corn route (it was a Tuesday! I didn't have time) and kept it simple with a simple salad.

No, here comes the disaster. I tried Paula Deen's "Lady and Sons Peach Cobbler." I made my own self-rising flour by combining baking flour, baking powder, and salt, but it just didn't rise to produce a crust (Peanut had even offered to go buy me the flour, but I thought I'd be economical). It was a disaster that I had to throw away :( Thank god George and Cliff are so forgiving.

Besides, we had ice cream, Hershey's syrup, Reddi Wip, and maraschino cherries. Combine all of the above and Voila!

Now, who do I have to contact to ensure Nene gets her own show? She deserves better than to be stuck with Kim and Sheree in Season Two.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

The A-List

Attendees: Peanut, Violet's Friend, Jack, Cindy, and Rick (3-B and Little Bird surprised me by visiting from NYC, but left before I could take a picture with them the next morning!!!!)
Saturday Dinner:
Manhattans, Salad with Phylo-Wrapped Goat Cheese, Pot Roast, Moussaka, Potatoes Au Gratin, and Chocolate-Chocolate Cake (none of which was made by me)

Peanut's Sunday Brunch:
Mimosas, Filled Mini Pancakes, Hash Browns, & fresh sausages

I've been friends with this bunch for a very long time and was thrilled that they agreed to a beach weekend slumber party in Stone Harbor! All of them are cooks, and I know when there are too many cooks in the kitchen. So while they made dinner on Saturday night (and brunch on Sunday), I did other stuff like...

... watch a movie, and with my teammate Jack ...

... beat everyone in Scrabble with an amazing 7-letter (50-point bonus) word...

(ok, fine. Jack thought of it). All the while, Cindy was making a pot roast:

... served with potatoes au gratin...

... and goat cheese wrapped in Phylo (shown here on Peanut's beautifully arranged table).

Violet's Friend and Rick were also busy in the kitchen making a coffee cake...

... that amazingly turned into a chocolate birthday cake!

The next morning, we finally got to use the stuffed pancake pan loaned to me by a co-worker. We had two fillings: apple and pumpkin butter!

It was beautiful Sunday, so we got to eat outside:

It was a great weekend- thanks, A-listers, for making it so much fun!!! And now I know what to serve Violet's Friend next time she comes over:

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Yes We Can!

My Tuesday, Nov 4 2008 started here at 7:45 a.m.- in line for only 40 minutes, but a 40 minutes well-spent!

George and Cliff invited us over and made some AMAZING baked ziti... i brought dessert: individualized orange chocolate chunk cake.

George and Cliff live just north of a major and historical intersection in DC: 14th and U Streets, Northwest. At 11 p.m., the noise from the street was calling us outside.

A band, Spaceship Excellent, performing on top of a bus on the street:

and people dancing on top of bus shelters!

The enthusiasm was infectious- being in DC last night was like nothing I had ever experienced before. At midnight, instead of heading home, we made our way to The Duplex Diner where we ran into many friends:

As soon as CNN showed a crowd gathering at the White House, Peanut turned to me and said: we're going. So after saying our hello's to Violet, Violet's Friend, and a few others, at 1:30 a.m. we made our way down 15th street to the White House (sorry- pics are bad, but I had to post something to document it)!

And I'm not even tired!!!


Sunday, November 2, 2008


After seeing Ina on Wednesday, I had the most brilliant idea ever: I would go apple picking on Saturday! When I asked my coworkers where to go, however, they broke the bad news- apple picking season was over! Luckily, one of my colleagues had some overzealous kids at the apple orchard last weekend, and she offered to bring in a bushel for me:

... and with some additional Granny Smiths....

... some butternut squash and onions...

... and some morels...

... a dinner party was born!

Attendees: James, Charlotte, Flynn, and Peanut
Champagne with Pimm's

... as promised, all the dishes were from Ina's new cookbook: barefoot contessa: back to basics

Hors d'oeuvre:
Sausage and Cucumber
Roasted Butternut Squash with Curry Condiments
Main Course:
Wild Mushroom Risotto
Pan-Roasted Root Vegetables
French Apple Tart

James, Charlotte, and little man Flynn ventured all the way over to our place for dinner. I didn't have time to make an appetizer, so I was fortunate that the new book has a page of 10 no-cook things to serve with cocktails. My favorite?

Peanut loves butternut squash soup (who doesn't?) and this recipe, accented with apples and curry and garnished with toasted coconut, scallions, cashews, and banana really caught my eye. It's a bit thick, but perfectly delicious.

While the wild mushroom risotto was very enjoyable, the crowd was most fond of the pan-roasted root vegetables. Parsnips, turnips, carrots, celery, Brussels sprouts, flavored simply with salt and pepper.

I was most happy, however, with the French apple tart. It tastes as good as it looks!