Monday, January 31, 2011

Spanish-Style Everything Rice

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2 1/2 cups chicken stock
A generous pinch saffron threads, about 24
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup orzo pasta or broken pieces of thin spaghetti
1 cup long-grain rice
A small handful golden raisins
1 tablespoon EVOO – Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 pound Spanish chorizo, diced
1 large red bell pepper, chopped
1 large Spanish onion, peeled and chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1/4 cup large Spanish, pimiento-stuffed green olives, chopped
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon sweet or smoked sweet paprika, a palmful
2 pinches cinnamon
1/2 cup green peas, optional
About 1/2 cup dry sherry
1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1/2 cup dry-roasted Marcona almonds or toasted sliced almonds

In a saucepot, melt butter over medium heat. Add pasta and toast until deep golden brown and very nutty in aroma. Add rice, stir, add saffron stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook rice 16-18 minutes, until tender.

Meanwhile, place raisins in a small dish and cover with very hot water to reconstitute – use just enough water to cover raisins. Heat a tablespoon EVOO over medium-high heat in a large skillet. To hot oil, add chorizo and brown at edges. Once rendered, remove to a plate to keep the chorizo from drying out. Return pan to heat and to the hot drippings add bell pepper, onions, garlic, olives, and season with salt, pepper, paprika and cinnamon, toss and cook to tender crisp, 5 minutes. Add chorizo back to pan with peas and heat through. Stir in raisins and deglaze the pan with sherry.

Fluff rice and fold into chorizo, peppers and onions. Top with parsley and almonds and serve straight from skillet at table into shallow bowls.

Original Recipe

Monday, January 17, 2011

Revolutions’ Hearty Winter Cooking Class

Yesterday, I had a great time attending one of Revolutions’ Chop Shop classes called Hearty Winter Cooking. After we, the class participants, spent 4-5 quick hours in the restaurant kitchen (wine included), the whole class sat down to enjoy the prepared meal with the chefs. Everything tasted so fantastic, here’s what we prepared:

Simmering pears and apples in a sugar, white wine, vanilla bean syrup (later lemon zest and grated ginger were added).

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Puff pastry shells for apple and pear tarte tatin. We used dried beans inside molds to shape the puff pastry. Flour, cornstarch, nutmeg and sugar mixture were added to each fruit filling before going into the puff pastry rings (once baked).

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Vanilla bean whipping cream for semifreddo, melted gelatin sheet was added later.

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Justin made a piping bag for melted hazelnut chocolate.

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We then started making lamb sausage, for the meat needed to be grinded.

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Then pressed into the casings. Finally, the sausages were browned and added to the sautéed fennel and onions.

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Pierogies stuffed with chive mashed potatoes and warm slaw and served with sour cream and pickled red onions (apple cider vinegar, sugar, whole black/red pepper, coriander, bay, cinnamon).

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Slow roasted guinea fowls

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Chocolate hazelnut semifreddo and tarte tatins (topped with sugar/butter crumble mixture and a sprinkle of brown sugar).

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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Homemade Vanilla Extract

Several weeks ago I saw Kelsey Nixon make her own vanilla extract on her show “Kelsey’s Essentials” and I loved the idea. It took me awhile to make it over to the liquor store, but I finally did and with what I purchased was able to make two 16oz jars worth of vanilla extract. For the vanilla beans, I ordered them online in bulk and (wow) they are so plump and fragrant.

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  • 16 oz vodka, 80 proof (40% alcohol)
  • 5 vanilla beans, split lengthwise

Place in 16oz air tight jar. Allow to sit for 6-8 weeks in a dark place, gently shake once or twice a week.

If you start to run low, top the jar off with more vodka and shake again. Also, whenever you use a vanilla bean in other recipes toss it into the jar after you’ve used it. This will continue to “feed” your vanilla extract and it should keep for years.

Recipe Source

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Nursery Furniture

After reading several articles recently, including this one by Sara Snow, I really wanted to get a jump start on “airing out” our baby furniture and that meant not waiting until the last month or two to have it in place. I had read 6 months was best, while unfortunately we won't be getting quite that, I am happy that at least we will have a good solid 3-4 months.

So recently Andy and I went nursery furniture shopping. The chain baby stores had some pretty nice looking stuff, but I really wanted to purchase as high quality items that we could afford and if at all possible support a local business. After a couple days of thinking, I recalled that we had an unfinished furniture shop in town, Rockwood Furniture. Thankfully, this was our one and only stop as we found items that we absolutely love and can’t wait to have delivered.

We chose a really nice, beautiful set of pine furniture (crib, dresser and chest) and our having it stained in Black Cherry. We should receive it in about 4-5 weeks.

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Convertible Crib

Chest

Dresser

First Nursery Update

Once home, unpacked and slightly rested I started in on completely clearing the closet of non-baby items. Then the sorting, washing, organizing, and putting away of the baby items we had received began. Along with the baby shower, we were also given a lot of nice things from both of our sisters. So much that we were only able to fit about 1/3 of it in our car; looking forward to when Andy’s parents visit in a couple months and bring along the rest of the stuff!

Bookshelf and stuffed animal shelf

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Once we get our nursery furniture we will move all the clothes over, but this way we can better take inventory of what we have.

Newborn diaper stuff (other sizes and extra wipes are in the bathroom) and dresses/jackets from 3-9 months

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basket of socks, bin of 0-3 months, 3-6 months, 6-9 months, 9-12 months, and 12-18 months - the last bin is all the washed cloth diaper stuff

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(other side of closet) top is misc stuff and a basket of hats, (left to right) crib stuff, burp clothes, receiving blankets, swaddling blankets, larger baby blankets, and baby sling. Diaper bags are to the left of the shelves.

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box of kitchen items (bibs, bottles, etc) and bobby pillow

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Lastly, I organized and labeled all our ultrasound pics into a little album

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Baby Shower: Dec 23rd

Since this was our only trip back to KY (our home state) while pregnant, two of my wonderful friends were gracious enough to plan and host an AWESOME shower for me - THANK YOU!!!! It was definitely one of the highlights of our Christmas visit. (20.5 weeks pregnant)

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With my beautiful hosts: Brittany and Kelly

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I adore all things Dr. Seuss, this is going to be our nursery theme too!

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Appetizer and Dessert spread (veggie pizza, sausage wontons, cucumber sandwiches, cheese ball, bacon wrapped weenies, meatballs, reuben dip, plus sweets)

Here’s a sampling of the fabulous gifts we were so thankful to have received.

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handmade baby throw from Carrie

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adorable little baby girl clothes from Andy’s mom

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Dr. Seuss baby quilt made by my Mom, I'm told this is the first of TWO :)

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Cute knitted baby hat from my sister and a locally made baby bag

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High chair from Kelly & Britt