Monday, December 21, 2009

What's been cookin

It's been forever since I've shared a what's been cookin in my own kitchen and I have lots of pictures saved on my camera to share with you! I've been spending the day cleaning up my camera and decided it was time to post a few pics! This post is making me hunnngrry

3 of my favorite foods on one plate:


Chicken Piccatta with Olives, Baked sweet potato fries with a garlic lemon Aoli and steamed broccoli. yummm.


I love love the combination of the sweet potato fries and the sour garlicy aoli. This has really become one of my favorite sides to make and eat. We make the aoli with whatever we have leftover from whatever else we've made that week. We've tried rosemary aoli, basil aoli and of course this staple...delicious.



Tyler's Ultimate version of Beef Stroganoff.

I need to start getting my meat like this at the butcher instead of Kroger. It was very very very fatty....but the flavor was delicious. On weekend nights, I love to make things that cook away in the oven for hours on end and makes the house warm and filled with delicious smells while I wait with a glass of wine patiently for it to be done. It's one of the only things I like about cold weather outside actually is the excuse to make things like this.




Healthy Taco Salad-
When you're in the mood to eat healthy but feel like you're not, this dish is pretty perfect. Sauteed chicken and onions with some taco spices....on a bed of lettuce, topped with salsa, fat free sour cream, olives and some crumbled baked tostitos.... taco salad heaven!!

That's all for today....but I have more pics to share...so...coming soon!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Book Club Christmas

Keeping with my recent theme of awesome Christmas Traditions....this year was the Book Babes THIRD annual Ornament Exchange....and also my first chance to entertain in my new house!! I was too busy running around to snap the normal amount of pics, but got to steal a couple from Nicole of the evening...

Every year we skip the December book and just get together to eat/drink/hang out and do our White Elephant Ornament Exchange!

We had a delicious homemade feast (I made the main dish and apps and everyone else brought sides and desserts) It was such a festive and fun (and delicious!) way to spend time together!


Very first meal at my new dining room table!!!

Really Really love these girls :)

The ornament I scored in the white elephant ornament exchange... so cute!

I love our little book club and look forward to seeing them every single month. Cheers to more fun in 2010 ladies!!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Restaurant Review- Brio

A group of mine from work went to Brio for lunch yesterday. We picked it because it seemed like a cozy place full of comfort food to have a holiday lunch.

We started off with the bread basket. It came out warm enough so the butter melted right over it (yum)- also the crispy little breadsticks were covered with rosemary and other delicious flavors... a good start to the meal!

First we got a sampling of bruschettas. I think mine was the PLT (Pancetta, lettuce and Tomato) It tasted like a piece of bread with a little caesar salad on top....it was good because I like Caesar salad and bread...but it is what it is :)


Next came the soup/salads:
Caesar Salad

Definitely should have ordered this guy with the dressing (and parmesan cheese for that matter) on the SIDE...this thing was drenched in it...also a little ridiculous to charge $3.95 for this bowl of lettuce....

Nancy got the Lobster Bisque and claimed it was A.ma.zing.... Also it's fair to mention that the restaurant was freeeezing so even though I have little to no interest in lobster bisque...the warm steam coming off of it made me pretty jealous...




Dishes:


Mushroom Ravioli Al Forno
Baked in our creamy Alfredo sauce, topped with toasted Parmesan bread crumbs and tomatoes

Tracy really enjoyed this dish. (Although she still claims that Olive Garden's is better)


Braised Beef Fettuccine
With cremini mushrooms, garlic, fire-roasted tomatoes and red wine veal sauce with a touch of cream
I had this. It good and the beef was tender, but it was very very salty. I probably wouldn't order this particular dish again.

Grilled Salmon over Angel Hair-
Nancy was on a roll this day and truly loved this dish. The salmon was cooked
perfectly and the pasta was seasoned perfectly.


Tuscan Grilled Pork Chop
Center-cut, marinated in-house and seared on the grill, with mashed potatoes

Kathie really enjoyed this pork chop.


For dessert our waitress brought out one of those trays full of all the fake desserts so you can pick one (so cheesy but also so helpful!) desserts are actual sizes that they come in- aka- not so big that 20 people need to split them. love that!



I opted out of dessert for a cappuccino, but split a baby caramel creme brulee with Nancy....it was super tasty...but a couple of small bites were more than enough for me.


Delicious Warm Cappuccino


All in all Brio is a pretty good place in Newport to go before a movie.



Brio Tuscan Grille on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Restaurant Review- Giminetti

Yesterday we had to run out during lunch to drop some toys off at the marine corps building for Toys for Tots for work. On the way we passed a little Italian looking place on Gilbert called Giminetti and decided to try something new! I loved the environment, small little place but with floor to ceiling windows that almost make you feel like you're sitting outside



Nancy got the Italian Wedding Soup which she enjoyed and a side of the pasta salad which she didnt enjoy as much. I did take a bite and it was more mayo/sour cream based rather than Italian dressing based which I really like better. She thought it was pretty good for a $5 lunch.



Kathie got the smothered Pork Loin Sandwich (minus the smothered) and thought it was kind of dry.... She also got the hashbrowns which were warm roasted red potatoes...and wished they had a little more spice.


I got the Philly Steak and Cheese Sandwich by recommendation of the server (I've been randomly giving the server 3 choices lately and making them pick for me....which has been interesting) It was good. The bread is all baked fresh in house which is yum...but I would still prefer Penn Station. I also got the hash browns, which I had to salt pretty liberally but I thought they were good for what they were....


The waitress also brought this chocolate chip cookie, which I'm pretty sure was an accident, but the three of us split it anyway and it was delicious... very soft and chocolatey.




Definitely a nice little lunch place find!



Giminetti Baking Company on Urbanspoon

Friday, December 11, 2009

Another Fun (and food related) Christmas Craft

This year, the Christmas Party Planning committee was trying to come up with favors to give out at this year's party... I came up with the idea of cookie jars (if you've never seen them, it's all the dry ingredients for cookies in a jar- flour, sugar, brown sugar, chips, baking soda, salt, etc) and basically to make cookies you just need to dump the contents of the jar in your mixer, add some butter and an egg and you have a delicious batch of made from scratch cookies!!

So I scoured the neighborhood for Mason Jars in the middle of winter... filled up my shopping cart at Sam's with (multiple) 20lb bags of flour, sugar, etc, ordered some delicious Deweys and had the team over for a good old fashioned Christmas assembly line....or something...

First, Lunch.....cookie jar making on an empty stomach would be a terrible idea!
My very favorite pizza on this earth...the Edgar Allen Poe from Deweys:

Next up- the ingredients!


84 Mason Jars (not an easy task to find in the middle of winter!!)




aaaand it was time to get started... we opened all the jars and started our assembly line:


First Finished Jar!!! 1 down......79 more to go!

Then obviously during a (much deserved) break....we decided we needed to make sure they tasted good, and we baked up a jar right there. I am a non sweets lover and even I'm not sure if i can think of many things better than chocolate chip cookies RIGHT out of the oven... mmmmmmm


We brought them to our Christmas Party and scattered them around our VP's gorgeous (and humongous) basement for guests to take as they were leaving the party... I think they turned out so super cute, don't you agree? And such a personal little touch for a holiday gift!!



Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Awesomeness

I really really want to see this.
Seriously....
Golden Girls is one of my favorite shows of all time.

This Christmas special features Transvestites acting out Christmas episodes of the Golden Girls.
How hilarious would this be??



Monday, December 7, 2009

Christmas Tree

Everyone who knows me knows I love all things Christmas.... if it was socially acceptable I would listen to Christmas music all year round instead of regular music. I love Christmas trees, Christmas movies, Christmas Parties, corny Christmas shows, etc.
I was so excited on Friday to kick off the Christmas season officially at our new house!

I wanted the warm smell of comfort food filling the house while we sipped on a glass of red wine, listened to Christmas Music and put up the tree....so that's exactly what we did!

Silly little sign my mom bought me at a craft show... apparantly it reminded her of me...


We made a tasty Braised Beef with Mushrooms and Cabernet Sauce in the Dutch Oven to simmer away for two hours and fill the house with delicious smells while we went down the street to pick out the perfect tree and bring it back home...

We found the perfect tree!! Maggie is wondering if anyone but her notices that there is an actual real tree inside the house...

The results of our hard work:


And the results of two hours of simmering in the oven. mmmmmm....you should've smelled it!


We whipped up some rosemary garlic mashed potatoes and this was our delicious and comforting dinner... add a glass of red wine, some Christmas music and a sparkly Christmas Tree....and you really can't ask for a better night!!

One of My Favorite Holiday Traditions!

About 4 years ago, I was watching a special on the foodnetwork about Christmas Treats, and one of them were these gorgeous chocolate covered pretzels rods with delicious toppings. I went to the site the next day to order some and they were sold out due to the special on the night before...and also were a WHOPPING $20something for like 5 of them. I immediately decided I could make these just as pretty and just as delicious...only for much cheaper....and the Katie/Jen Christmas treatmaking day was born. This year was our fourth installment of this Holiday Tradition and as always we had a wonderful time making up treats and just spending the day together.... Every year we talk about going to a craft show to sell some of our pretty creations, but have yet to actually do it..


Anyway, Saturday morning Katie arrived at noon... we caught up over a lunch at panera and a latte at Starbucks and then it was off to work!

We got together our toppings:



(this year we went with Milk Chocolate pretzels with nuts, butterfinger pieces and sprinkles....
and Dark Chocolate Pretzels with green white chocolate drizzle)



Melted our chocolate:

(mmmm)



and got started!:


As usual our creations turned out so pretty!


We packaged them up in pretty cellophane bags and tied them tightly with Christmassy ribbon. I use these as pretty little gifts for co-workers & neighbors...or on the table when I host a holiday dinner...Too cute! Right?



This has become a holiday tradition I absolutely love..and I hope it continues for years and years to come!!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

VERY FIRST before & after pics!!- Dining Room

I thought I would share one of our first (almost finished) rooms with you. Lucky me, my crafty & artistic BFF since second grade was in town this weekend and was more than happy to spend Saturday shopping and accessorizing with me... . Also- it was randomly 50% off day at the thrift store on Saturday... and I picked up about 4 bags of really awesome pieces for under $14!! SCORE!

But anyway...check them out...our first before and after pics :)

Before:



After:


Tonight I plan to attend my first Oakley Community Council Meeting. Living in a house has been so different than living in an apartment....People have been bringing us homemade cookies and just stopping by to introduce themselves and ask us if we need anything....it's really been amazing.. I'm hoping we can meet even more people tonight at this meeting and really try to become active members of our new community.

After that I want to go down the street to pick out a Christmas Tree! Yay!!