Friday, September 30, 2011

Dilly Cafe Wine Tasting

Lately I've been kind of into twitter. I don't say much... I just like to listen....and then unfollow celebrities that talk way way too much. (sorry fabio from top chef)- anywhoo..the other morning I was having coffee and tweet reading and I saw that the Dilly Cafe was doing a wine tasting.... we love the Dilly Deli and Mariemont, so we decided to head East to try out the tasting....
 They had a nice selection of wines picked out, including a sparkling red which I had never tried before and actually really enjoyed.... felt like a "wintery champagne" to me if that makes any sense. Most sparkling reds are made in Australia and are Shiraz...this one was a little different at 50% shiraz, 25% cab and 25% malbec. I will definitely want to taste more of those in the future.

The tasting was fun and the area it's in naturally encourages random people to talk to eachother. We ended up chatting with a couple of different groups about beer brewing, local restaurants and farmers markets.... all of our favorite topics :)
 The Dilly also has a a little wine shop and an extensive selection of beer that you can get....and every kind you can take one out of the 6 pack and buy individually....

Here is an excited Rob with his Pumpkin Beer Sampler 4 pack.

 It was a fun little Saturday afternoon activity! We will definitely be back!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Homemade Soft Pretzel Bites

Sometimes if I've had a stressful day....all I want to do is go home and bake. Cooking comes pretty easy to me...but baking is a whole different story. Baking can be really complicated...and I never claimed to be very good at following directions...which is why I like cooking so much... but sometimes concentrating on exact measurements and making something I've never made before helps get my mind off of whatever I'm trying to get my mind off of. And it's just fun to try and make something new.... so fast forward to our latest baking adventure. Pretzel Bites!

Isn't it funny when sometimes you look at a picture and are like those look great but I've already accepted mine will never look that good... look how pretty these turned out! Seriously...brown and salty on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside.. such a fun snack to munch on while watching the sing off ... speaking of which, is anyone as excited as me that Sara Bareilles has replaced Paula Abdul Nicole Shertzinger. Ben Folds and Sara Bareilles if I wasn't already obsessed enough with this show. . I haven't quite picked who I want to win yet....but I think I can narrow it down next week :)

On to the pics!
Look at that color!
 With your choice of mustard dipping sauces-
Aren't they pretty?? YUM!

Homemade Soft Pretzel Bites

1 1/2 cups warm water
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 package active dry yeast
3 ounces unsalted butter, melted
2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
4 1/2 to 5 cups all-purpose flour
Vegetable oil
3 quarts water
3/4 cup baking soda
1 whole egg, beaten with 1 tablespoon cold water
Coarse sea salt

Combine the water, sugar, yeast, and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer and mix with the dough hook until combined. Let sit for 5 minutes.

Add the salt and flour and mix on low speed until combined. Increase the speed to medium and continue kneading until the dough is smooth and begins to pull away from the side of the bowl, about 3 to 4 minutes. If the dough appears too wet, add additional flour, 1 tablespoon at a time. Remove the dough from the bowl, place on a flat surface and knead into a ball with your hands.

Oil a bowl with vegetable oil, add the dough and turn to coat with the oil. Cover with a clean towel or plastic wrap and place in a warm spot until the dough doubles in size, about 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Bring the water to a boil in a small roasting pan over high heat and add the baking soda.

Remove the dough from the bowl and place on a flat surface. Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces, about 4 1/4 to 4 1/2 ounces each. Roll each piece into a long rope measuring 22 inches and shape. Cut the dough into one inch pieces to make the pretzel bites. Boil the pretzel bites in the water solution in batches. We did about 15 bites at a time. Boil for about 30 seconds. Remove with a large slotted spoon. Place pretzel bites on a baking sheet that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Make sure they are not touching. Brush the tops with the egg wash and season liberally with the salt. Place into the oven and bake for 15 to 18 minutes until golden brown.


from two peas and their pod, originally from bobby flay

Monday, September 26, 2011

Breakfast Tarts

Saturday morning I wanted to make something yummy for breakfast for Rob and I. (Rob is training for the Columbus half...and ran 11 miles before I even got out of bed!) So I remembered I had a roll of crescent rolls and some other things that could potentially make a delicious breakfast and got to cooking...

I get so excited about opening these...totally forgot to take the picture before hearing its startling pop...but you get the idea....these are just regular crescent rolls....

I took off each piece and stuffed them into my muffin pan. I used a nonstick muffin pan and sprayed with nonstick spray before stuffing the triangle shaped crescent dough pieces into the holes and just moving it around to (as Tim Gunn would say) "make it work." I was a little worried about how this method would turn out, but it was totally fine..they didn't all look exactly the same but they tasted delicious and looked homemade :)
Anyway... I fried up some bacon (this was turkey bacon)
Whipped up 4 eggs and some half and half in my big measuring cup

Send Rob out in the rain to our "herb garden" to harvest some chives....
And got to stuffing  my tarts
I put in a little bacon, then poured in the egg mixture, topped with cheese, more bacon and a little chives...
Then baked at 375 for about 20 minutes...

I recommend putting a cookie sheet on the rack underneath the rack your muffin pan is on in case anything decides to go rogue on ya....

Look how pretty they turned out!
A little of all your favorite breakfast foods in one delicious little muffin.
 This is so ridiculously easy it's definitely a breakfast that will be repeated at our house :)

Happy Monday Everyone!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Baby Shower Fun

Sunday Rob and I hosted a shower for our friends Jason & Jenn (who should most definitely be a pregnancy model- seriously)- and had a great time doing it... Rob and my sister were awesome sports who helped me with every single thing including my all completely homemade menu, favors and bunting projects. We had a great time and I am so excited to meet Baby Sperry when she gets here in November...but until then...let's take a look at the party.... true to form I stopped taking pictures midway there are no photos of the main meal, dessert or the drink station...but hopefully you get the idea anyway :)

Like any good theme, I had bunting themed invites and that continued throughout the party...

The pre-dinner snack table included:
Veggies & Dip
Fruit & homemade fruit dip
Deviled Eggs
Cucumber Bites (cucumber slices with a delicious mixture of goat cheese, cream cheese, garlic & herbs piped on top)
and mini chocolate cupcakes with raspberry frosting

Dinner (not pictured- boo) was:
Turkey & Cheese Sliders
Ham & Cheese Sliders
Homemade Macaroni & Cheese
Salad with Goat Cheese & Dried Cranberries
and for dessert..... an angelfood cake trifle with strawberries & blueberries...

People chatted and had food and drinks..

The boys did a beer tasting in front of the football game :)
Jenn & Jason opened lots of adorable baby girl gifts
future bobcat!!

the dog showed off her dedication to the theme

and on the way out people grabbed homemade onesie cookies
Congratulations Jenn & Jason!! This is going to be one adored little girl... I can't wait to meet her!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Potato Leek Soup in Pictures

Fall is officially here..and that can only mean one thing....

 It's Soup Season! Glorious Soup season!... Big amazing pots of it. Delicious excuses to use the immersion blender... creamy bowls ready for toppings and hunks of fresh bread....

Want to make this creamy creamless soup?

Get the recipe here!

Friday, September 9, 2011

Fountain Square Beerfest

Rob and I are doing our favorite kind of volunteering tomorrow night...slinging beers :) Come down to the Fountain Square Beerfest tomorrow to have some fun and to see us (we'll be working a booth- not sure which one yet- from 5-10pm)  Hope to see you there!!

BeerFest Details:
Friday: 5-10pm
Saturday: Noon – 10pm
Sunday: Noon – 8pm

The first Cincinnati Beer Fest actually held IN Cincinnati! ­Cincinnati has a long and proud tradition in the brewing of beer, and the Cincinnati Beer Fest brings local dis­tributors and brewers together in one place for a beer tasting and sampling event. 3-oz beer tastings are only $1 (or $2 for higher-priced brews), and there is NO ADMISSION FEE!

In addition to over 150 different flavors of beer, patrons will enjoy live music plus multiple food and merchandise vendors.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Quinoa Risotto with Shrimp & Broccoli

I love quinoa...but sometimes it can be a little bland...
I was searching around on the internet to find an idea that I might be a little different and found an idea for making a quinoa risotto..and decided to give it a try.
The result was really delicious...but my pictures are pretty try to look past them and make this sometime bc it tastes super rich and buttery and fattening but is actually super healthy, low in fat and high in protein!

saute up your garlic and onions in a skillet in a little olive oil

and add a cup of quinoa to kind of toast up a little bit....

On the side you should have a pot of your stock going to keep it hot throughout the entire cooking process.....

Add your wine (I love keeping a box of wine in my fridge for cooking- and there are really good ones that come in boxes it's nice if you just want one glass of wine with dinner and don't want to open the bottle!)

Let the wine cook off and then slowly add your hot liquid a half cup at a time, stirring and waiting until it absorbs before you add the next half cup of hot liquid...

While you are waiting start peeling your shrimp! (did you know a lot of times in grocery stores the shrimp they sell behind the "seafood" counter is just thawed bags of frozen shrimp... ask before paying the upcharge! It's usually cheaper to just buy the bag of frozen shrimp!)

I thawed them, peeled them and cut them up into smaller bite size pieces...

and chopped up my broccoli

all while I continued to add the hot broth a half a cup at a time to my quinoa....

I blanched the broccoli for about a minute and threw in the shrimp at the end and let it just turn pink in the quinoa/broth mixture... then added the broccoli and let it all hang out together for a few minutes...

The result is a creamy, healthy and delicious sister asked if the shrimp was cooked in butter!- that's how creamy it turned out...

Adapted from Poor Girl Eats Well

1 c uncooked quinoa
5 c chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 c white wine
1 T olive oil (or butter, if you prefer)
1 small yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
15-20 frozen shrimp, thawed & cut into bite size pieces
A head of broccoli, cut into pieces
A sprig of rosemary, chopped
1/4 t dried thyme
Salt & pepper to taste

Rinse Quinoa well. In a large skillet heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook slowly until the onion begins to soften.

Increase the heat to about medium high and add the rinsed quinoa. Cook for about 3 minutes then add the wine and simmer until the quinoa absorbs the wine. Slowly pour about 1/2 cup of chicken broth into the quinoa and allow to simmer until it is completely absorbed by the quinoa, stirring frequently. Continue this process, pouring in the broth only 1/2 cup at a time, until the quinoa is creamy and the quinoa germs have burst (you may have extra broth left over; if so, set aside for a different meal), about 20 minutes.

While the last bit of broth is being simmered and absorbed, add the shrimp and broccoli and mix in gently, cooking for another 3-4 minutes. Season with rosemary, thyme, and a couple dashes of salt & pepper. Serve with a parmesan sprinkle on top of you like, and enjoy!