Thursday, December 29, 2011

Salted Caramel Dark Chocolate Mousse - Wine Flight Pt. 4

On the morning of Christmas Eve I woke up feeling a little risque. I looked at myself in the mirror, and I said, "Laura, you're going to be a bad ass today. You're going to put sugar and water in a saucepan, and watch it turn into a beautiful brown bubbly caramel. But you know what else, you crazy rebel? You're going to do it without a candy thermometer." 
And I did.
And it turned out SO PERFECT.
And it was my first caramel, ever!
And then I put dark chocolate into it, and I ate a spoonful and died and went to heaven.
But then I didn't stop there! I added eggs and turned it into a mousse, and topped it with salt.
Are you still breathing?
I barely am.

You know those desserts you taste and they are so mind-blowingly good you fall to the floor after the first bite? If you don't know those desserts, make this mousse so you can understand what passing out over caramel and chocolate is all about. Even if you don't want to make a mousse, just make the chocolate caramel and drink it, or drizzle it over ice cream or brownies. Whatever you prefer.
It's worth it, promise!

Dark Chocolate Covered Pomegranate Seeds - Wine Flight Pt. 4

Dark chocolate covered pomegranate seeds.
A dessert that gives you double the antioxidants?!
Say whaaaaa?
I know.  You're welcome!
And the best part? 
The juices from the poms go pop in your mouth.
It's a juicy chocolate little morsel!
Perfect for the holidays, and perfect for everyday.

Herb Roasted Lamb Chops with Red Wine Reduction - Wine Flight Pt. 3

Hey! Want a recipe for the most tender, most flavorful, most WOW WOW WOW WOW lamb chops in all the lands?
I'm giving it to you right now.
Happy New Year!

Herb Roasted Lamb Chops
(recipe from Epicurious)

4 large garlic cloves, pressed
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, lightly crushed
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves, lightly crushed
2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
6 1 1/4-inch-thick lamb loin chops

Mix first 4 ingredients and 1 tablespoon olive oil in large bowl. Add lamb; turn to coat. Let marinate at room temperature at least 30 minutes and up to 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 400°F. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in heavy large ovenproof skillet over high heat. Add lamb; cook until browned, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer skillet to oven and roast lamb chops to desired doneness, about 10 minutes for medium-rare. Transfer lamb to platter, cover, and let rest 5 minutes.

Red Wine Reduction Sauce
(adapted from Emeril Lagasse)

1 teaspoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon minced garlic
3/4 cup dry red wine
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
3/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
Place a 1-quart saucepan over medium-high heat and add the olive oil to the pan. Once the oil is hot, add the garlic to the pan and saute for 30 seconds. Deglaze the pan with the red wine and add the chopped rosemary. Cook the red wine until it is nearly evaporated, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add the stock to the pan and season with 1/4 teaspoon of pepper. Bring the sauce to a boil, and reduce to a gentle boil. Reduce the stock until its volume is 1 cup, about 10 minutes. Set the sauce aside and keep warm while you prepare the lamb.

Crab Cakes & Spicy Aioli - Wine Flight Pt. 2

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Strawberry Goat Cheese Bruschetta - Wine Flight Pt. 1

also known as:
"This Will Leave You Speechless Bruschetta"
No jokes! Strawbs, goat cheese, basil, and balsamic? It's genius, really.
And aren't they such little beauts?
They were so pretty for Christmas, but would be even better in the summertime, when strawberries are in peak season here.
I understand if you can't wait.
I couldn't either. 

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas Eve Wine Flight

My family had the BEST Christmas Eve this year.
Together my mom and I planned an amazing four course food and wine flight.
It was fun, beautiful, delicious and so enjoyable.

The details:
4 rooms/tablescapes
4 wine pairings (2 white, 2 red)
4 mini courses
  1. Strawberry & Goat Cheese Bruschetta
  2. Crab Cakes with Spicy aioli
  3. Herb Roasted Lamb Chops with Red Wine Reduction
  4. Salted Caramel Dark Chocolate Mousse & Dark Chocolate Covered Pomegranate Seeds
I did all of the cooking and HAD A BLAST. It was a lot of work, but so worth it. Everything turned out perfectly!! Mom picked the wines and did all of the decorating for the four tables/rooms. She even found wine-themed napkins that had trivia questions on each one for a fun, interactive twist and printed out details describing each wine we were tasting! We spent all evening eating, tasting and having fun.
I will be posting more pictures and recipes for each course this week.
Major deliciousness. Major.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Moving Out and Moving On

On Sunday Eric and I, alone (not so happy about that aspect), moved ourselves out of our apartment, into a U-Haul, then into a storage unit.
We then had appetites like savage beasts, so treated ourselves to sandwiches and brewskies at our beloved Kiss Cafe. It was the perfect way to say goodbye to Ballard for awhile.

After spending the day whining cleaning on Monday, we are officially out and feeling good about leaving our moisture-ridden, cold and smelly apartment. On to bigger and better things!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Mushroom Bourguignon

It's time for serious talk.
Earlier today I was texting and I wanted to write, "bummer" but instead, completely by accident and with such ease, typed "butter".
Then I stopped in my tracks.
And I asked myself, "Butter?! Really, Laura?"
Who have I become? PAULA DEEN?!???
At first I found this worrisome.
But now I've just decided to embrace it. Yeah, I think about butter a lot. So much so that it pops out and replaces every day words in every day conversation. So what?
That's just my thing now.
And besides, being the next Queen of Down South Cooking wouldn't be so bad, would it? I'd just need to work on my twang some.

You know what else is my thing?
This mushroom bourguignon. (Did you just pretend you knew how to pronounce that word by saying it really fast, and kind of quiet, in a french accent? No? Oh. Me neither.)
Well, even though this bourguignon doesn't contain beef, it still kicks some major arse.
But anything cooked in wine does, let's be honest.
It's really comforting, too.
Eric told me after the first bite, it reminded him of something his mom used to make growing up.
I said, "my cooking has brought back memories of your childhood????!?!?!!!"

Friday, December 16, 2011

Our Friday Night


pizza and wine!

I also pulled out my journal from our trip to Guatemala a few years back. Tonight, in anticipation of our upcoming trip, we are reminiscing about countless hours of bus rides, early morning rooster calls, amazing horchata and huevos rancheros, hilariously painful horseback rides, suspension bridges and monkeys, sketchy ziplining, tree houses, volcano hiking and lava smores, waterfall and bridge jumping, bat caves and tarantulas, Mayan ruins, and much much more. 
23 more days until we create more memories like these!

guatemala 2009 - improvisation at its finest

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Cranberry Apple Crisp

Round two of our epic battle of the berries, is...
..the rustic,
..the sweet,
..the tart,
..the beautiful and divine...

So remember how I told you to give yourself a gift this holiday season, and let it be the pear cranberry and gingersnap crumble?
I changed my mind.
Let it be the pear cranberry and gingersnap crumble AND this cranberry apple crisp.
You need both.
It's no big deal.
Just make them and sit in the kitchen and eat them both straight out of the oven. With ice cream. By yourself.
Or you can share, I guess.
I mean it is Christmas, after all.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Pear Cranberry and Gingersnap Crumble

I'm excited to announce there is about to be a show-down in this here apartment.
And maaan, this is a good match-up if there ever was one!

Pears and cranberries and crumble heaven  
Apples and cranberries and crisp magic

Are you as excited as I am?
You should be, dang it!

First up...
Pear, cranberry and gingersnap crumble. Oozes holidays, right? It's beautiful and perfect in every way.
I mean that. It's perfectly balanced, down to the sweetness from the pears, the tartness from the cranberries, the spices from the gingersnaps, and the textures from the crumble.
Are you looking to give yourself a gift this Christmas?
Let it be this crumble.
Trust me.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Spicy Kale Lasagna

For dinner last night, I wanted to incorporate an ingredient I rarely use in the kitchen, and something that Eric may have never even tried before (I was right - he thought kale was arugula). After browsing through some saved recipes, I decided on spicy kale lasagna.
So I told Eric: I'm fixing a spicy kale lasagna for dinner. Keep an open mind!
He replied: That sounds delicious.
I said: You're such a champ.
He said: It's easy to be with your cooking.
Not that I ever doubted him for one second, but holy moly this one's a real KEEPER, folks. We're talkin' flattery to the max!

Seriously though, we both absolutely LOVED this dish. It's so so good. Eric wanted to eat like 3/4 of the pan, but I told him we needed leftovers so we could have it again tonight.
If you love kale, and you're looking for a little spicy zippiness in your life, make this dish and do a little dance!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Salted Double Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

Double Chocolate.
Peanut Butter.
Course Salt.

Enough said?
Enough said. (Make them and see for yourself!)

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Dark Chocolate-Dipped Coconut Macaroons

My mom told me back in the day, coconut macaroons were all the rage. I'm not sure when back in the day was, but I'm guessing it was when big hair and big glasses were all the rage, too. Mom pulled those off amazingly well. I have pictures to prove it.
Coconut macaroons used to be my dad's all time favorite cookie, so my mom would make them for him every so often. Being the huge coconut fan that I am, too, when mom pulled up this new recipe, we knew we were going to incorporate these into our holiday baking.
These cookies are several things. 1. so stinkin' easy to make. 2. insanely scrumptious. 3. dangerously addicting.  
No, seriously. Try to eat just one. Doesn't work.

Confession: Mom and I gave most of these away as gifts, keeping less than one dozen for her and my dad and me and Eric. Since I knew they were dad's favs, I told her I'd just take two home. I left their house and ate both in my car before I even got on the freeway. Oopsies...
sorry, Eric.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Pasta e Fagioli

My favorite thing right now is cooking with fresh herbs. Especially rosemary and thyme.
This italian soup is simmered with numerous sprigs of fresh rosemary and thyme and it makes all the difference in the world. The flavors that were able to develop in the broth are seriously delicious.
Add some veggies, some beans, a little bit of pasta and you have yourself a pretty yummy and hearty meal!
Oh, and this soup wouldn't be complete without some baked rosemary potato bread.
Is that a rosemary overload? Nah.

Ps. I'm dying. I haven't made any dessert lately and it's truly killing me. SOOO...I've picked out FOUR recipes I'm going to be trying out in the next few weeks. Stayed tuned for some serious yum action. It's happening.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Date Day/Night

Eric has been working a ton the past month or so, trying to come up with as much money as possible before our big trip. Consequently, I've only been seeing him for a few hours in the evening, before we go to bed.
BUT yesterday, Eric only worked for a few hours in the morning, and was home by 12:15pm, so we got to spend the day together! We had such a great day, too.
I didn't do any cooking, but I just wanted to write about our fun day and how much we love/are going to miss Ballard.
When Eric got home, we walked down to our beloved Kiss Cafe for a coffee and appetizer date. We had (too much) coffee and split a breakfast quesadilla, so we could try one of the owner's homemade hot sauce. Delish!
Afterward, we walked around Ballard and ended up perusing our favorite music spots, Sonic Boom and Bop Street Records. We picked up FOUR new used CDs: two blues, a hip-hop of sorts, and the Crazy Heart soundtrack. Back to the apartment we went to have a listen and a glass of wine.
THEN we walked down to this amazing Indian restaurant on Market Ave for dinner and then drove downtown to the movies to see Moneyball (we had free movie tickets!).
Is that not the best date day and night ever?
Yes. It was.
The coffee, the music, the wine, the food, the movie, AND the company was all perfect.

About 10 days left until we completely pack this place up and leave...
but I'm keeping my fingers crossed we'll find our way back to Ballard some day.

Holiday Party Favs: Pulled Pork and Prosciutto Wrapped Roasted Asparagus

Every year my mom hosts a holiday party at the house for all of her managers/employees. This year I was there to help her through every step of the way. Let me tell you what, hosting a party is HARD WORK. We were cooking and cleaning and prepping all. day. long. It is fun though, when everything comes together and is beautifully presented and you get loads of compliments on the food!
This year we had two big hits.
Over Thanksgiving, we were mulling over food ideas for the party, and thought about buying a spiral ham and turkey and some mini buns and having people make little sandwiches for something a little more hearty. Then I had the (brilliant, if I do say so myself) idea of making the pork carnitas recipe from the Pantry again, but adding a barbeque sauce after it's done to create (quasi) pulled pork for sandwiches.
Seriously, it was amazing. People were raving. People are still raving.
If I didn't convince you in the previous entry that this is the best pork recipe ever, I darn well better be convincing you now.
I'll admit, I was a little nervous at first, because it's not quite the same consistency. After I added the BBQ sauce, it appeared to get mushy, but then I thought we could throw it in the crock pot set on low and that way it would hopefully brown up a bit, or char a little on the edges. It did just that AND the flavored deepened even more. SO fab.

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