Tag: recipes

Movie Munchies: Ratatouille

Today I get to present to you the 2nd episode in my Movie Munchies series.  Just in time for Valentines Day Jacqueline and I make the french dish ratatouille and talk about- you guessed it- Pixar’s Ratatouille!  These videos were a huge challenge for me so I would love your feedback.  We plan to do a couple a month so if you have ideas for good movie/recipe combinations please put in the comments sections.

Also if you try the recipe let me know what you think.  It’s a very versatile dish that you can use as a main dish or side.  Very tasty.

Thanks so much for your feedback and help!

Recipe:
1 can (28 ounces) whole peeled tomatoes
1 large eggplant (1 pound), cut into 1-inch pieces
2 large yellow onions (1 pound total), diced large
1 head garlic, cloves smashed and peeled
2 bell peppers (any color), seeded and diced large
2 large zucchini (1 pound total), diced large
1 lb mushrooms
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon oregano leaves
2 to 3 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
Olive Oil, Salt and Pepper

Salt the eggplant and squeeze out as much moisture as you can. Saute peppers, onions and garlic till translucent.  Add eggplant, zucchini and mushrooms and get some color.  Add tomatoes and then let stew on medium low heat as long as you can.  Serve as a topping for pasta or a side with meat.

Movie Munchies 1: Apricot Chicken/Blind Side

Hi guys!  I wanted to share with you a very exciting video I just posted on my youtube channel.  It’s called Movie Munchies where we will review a film and make a recipe on the same video.  This week to celebrate the Super Bowl we are talking about 2009’s The Blind Side and making my favorite apricot chicken drumsticks- perfect for game day.  This was a huge challenge for me and I would love to get your feedback.

We’ve already got episode 2 filmed and will probably do this a couple of times a month.  If you have any ideas for good movie/meal parings please let me know!

Making this video required a whole new kind of editing and filming for me so I learned a lot but I’m really excited for the future.  I loved my chemistry with Jacqueline and found the entire experience very rewarding.  I know each episode will only continue to improve.

Thanks for checking it out.

Recipe-
3 lbs drumsticks or other meat
1 cup onions diced
1 cup bell peppers diced
3 cloves garlic minced
1/3 c soy sauce
1/4 c firmly packed cup brown sugar
1/4 c molasses
1/4 c honey
1 14 ounce bottle ketchup
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
hot sauce to taste
1 jar apricot preserves
Olive Oil
Heat up onions, peppers, and garlic till translucent. In separate skillet sear the chicken on high heat to get a golden brown color. Add all ingredients except for jam, heat and then let simmer till it thickens.
Add apricot jam to mixture and poor over chicken.
Bake at 400 degrees for an hour, remove tin foil at 30 minutes. Test with thermometer. Want chicken 165 degrees or higher.
Enjoy! Let me know if you like it and I’ve made it with wings, pork, ribs etc.

2014 Cookie Swap

Last year was my first time doing a cookie swap put on by Veronica’s Cornucopia and I had such a good time I decided to do it again this year.  I focused on 3 variations on a shortbread because I thought they would ship well and then threw in some chocolate covered marshmallows for some fun and color.

cookies2Here are the recipes- all of them came from The Pioneer Woman Cooks: A Year of Holidays

Book by Ree Drummond
cookies3Christmas Cherry Cookies-
  • 2 sticks Butter, Softened
  • 1/2 cup Sugar
  • 2 whole Egg Yolks, Stirred
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
  • Zest Of 1 Lemon
  • Zest Of 1 Orange
  • Juice Of 1 Lemon
  • 2 cups All-purpose Flour, Sifted Twice
  • Candied Green And Red Cherries (sold Around The Holidays)

Preparation Instructions

Cream butter and sugar until fluffy.

Add egg yolks, vanilla, orange peel, lemon peel, and lemon juice, and mix until combined. Use rubber spatula to scrape bowl, then mix again.

Add sifted flour and mix until combined. Place dough in a ziploc bag and refrigerate for at least one hour, or until firm.

When ready to make the cookies, preheat oven to 300 degrees. Cut candied cherries in half.

Roll dough into small balls and set on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or a baking mat. Gently press the cherry halves, cut side down, into each ball.

Bake for 20 minutes, removing from oven before they start to brown. Cool on a wire rack.

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peppermint cookiesChocolate Candy Cane Cookies-

  • 2 sticks Salted Butter, Slightly Softened
  • 1 cup Powdered (Confectioners) Sugar
  • 1 whole Egg
  • 2 teaspoons Vanilla
  • 2-1/2 cups Flour
  • 1/2 cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 4 ounces, weight (4 Squares) Almond Bark Or White Baking Chocolate (almond Bark Works Best And Is Cheaper)
  • Large Handful Of Red Or Green Peppermints

Preparation Instructions

Cream softened butter with powdered sugar. Add egg and vanilla and mix to combine. Add dry ingredients and mix together until dough comes together. Place plastic wrap on surface of dough and refrigerate for 2 hours.

In the meantime, unwrap candies and place them in a plastic bag. Beat with a mallet until finely crushed, leaving larger chunks if desired.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Roll cookie dough in walnut-sized pieces and place on a cookie sheet. Gently press balls flat with a plain, smooth surface. Bake for 7 to 9 minutes, being careful not to burn. Cookies will remain the same general size and shape after they bake. Remove from oven and place cookies on a cooling rack. Allow them to cool completely.

Place crushed candies in bowl. Melt almond bark in the microwave. Dip cooled cookies into almond bark, coating half the cookie. Immediately sprinkle crushed peppermints over both sides of the almond bark. Gently set on parchment paper or other nonstick surface and allow to cool before serving.

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marshmellows2 marshmellowsChocolate Covered Marshmallows-

  • Regular Marshmallows
  • 1 package Almond Bark (white Or Chocolate) Or Meltable Candy Wafers
  • Sprinkles, Chopped Nuts, Chopped Pretzels, Chopped Candy, Etc.
  • Equipment: Lolipop Sticks (sold In Craft Stores)

Preparation Instructions

Melt the chocolate or white (or both) almond bark in a double boiler.

One by one, dip the very tip of the lollipop stick into the melted chocolate, then stick that end of the stick into the marshmallow until it’s not quite all the way through. Repeat with the rest of the marshmallows, standing them up as you go.

Next, roll the marshmallow in the chocolate to coat it, then tap the stick gently on the side of the double boiler to get rid of the excess. Using your fingers, sprinkle the topping of your choice all over the chocolate. Set them stick side up on a piece of waxed paper OR stick them into that crazy florist stuff that makes flowers stand up.

Have fun with the toppings and make no two marshmallow pops the same!

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spreads

  • 1 cup Brown Sugar
  • 1 cup Margarine
  • 1 whole Egg
  • 2 cups Flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla
  • 6 ounces, weight ( To 8 Ounces) Chocolate Chips

Preparation Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix together brown sugar and margarine. Add egg and mix together. Add flour, salt, and vanilla, and mix together well.
Spread dough onto cookie sheet to a thickness of 1/4 to 1/2-inch.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, or until slightly brown. At this point, pull out of the oven and sprinkle chocolate chips evenly over the top. Return to oven for 1 minute. Remove and spread melted chips over the top. Cut into squares.

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So I hope you all have fun making some of these cookies!  They are very yummy! Merry Christmas!

Trees, Turkey, Meals and Lights

Hi guys!  I just wanted to give you a little update on my life.

Well to begin with Christmas has arrived. Got the lights and the tree up!

lightswindowThis year I rented my Christmas tree which is a completely brilliant notion.  Instead of having to store a giant tree all year and lug it out, decorate it by myself, I signed up and for the price of a house cleaning it is set up, stored, decorated and taken down at end of season.

treeAs some of you will remember from years past I have a memory tree with ornaments from travels and all other parts of my life.  I also have little picture frames that have black and white photography of my friends and family, which is especially nice this year as I will not be seeing family and my best friend Emily is away.

I have a few new ornaments to add to the tree.  Some I got in Tampa and these fun Disney ornaments to pay tribute to my Disney project and blog this year.

disney ornamentIn other news Thanksgiving has been a lot of fun.  I went to my aunt and uncle’s for dinner and it was a full house of cousins and relatives.  I was in charge of making the salad and it turned out pretty tasty.

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And now a little recipe.

saladArugula Salad with Butternut Squash and Apple Cider Dressing

Arugula

pomegranate pips  (put pomegranate under water and it makes it easy to de-seed)

butternut squash peeled, seeded and diced into 1 inch cubes

parmesean cheese

walnuts

cranberries

apple cider

apple cider vinegar

olive oil

shallots finely diced

digon mustard

maple syrup

Start with butternut squash on baking sheets with olive oil and maple syrup. Put in 375 degree oven for 45-60 minutes until the cubes are tender but crusted on outside.  While cooking mix 2 tbsp vinegar, 3/4 cup cider, 2 tbsp syrup, 2 tbsp shallots in saucepan.

Cook for 8-10 minutes until mixture has thickened.  Then add1/2 cup olive oil, 2 tbsp mustard, 1/4 cup maple syrup.  Put in jar and shake until mustard is emulsified.  I added a little water because my vinegar was strong.  If you like it sweeter add more syrup . If you want more mustard go for it!

I used a cranberry walnut mixture I bought at the store but if you don’t have that then I would roast the walnuts before.

When serving add arugula, butternut squash, walnuts, cranberries, pomegranate pips, parmesean shavings.  Add all ingredients and top with dressing and serve!

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Since I wasn’t cooking Thanksgiving dinner I decided to order one from my local market, Harmons, so I could have some leftovers!  It was pretty cool I got everything from a full turkey, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, gravy, sweet potatoes, stuffing, green beans, rolls and 2 pies for $100.  Pretty cool right?

So I portioned it all into meals and have them ready in my chest freezer for many holiday meals to come! Pretty clever right?

dinner dinners

So that’s my little holiday update. I hope you are all doing great and having a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend.  Make sure to check out Scrooge month on my other blog.  I’m having a blast watching and writing about these films of the story I love so much. I just posted yesterday about the Alistair Sims classic and today on the Disney stop motion effort.

Nora Ephron: I Feel Bad About My Neck

noraephronus

Any friend of the blog knows I love Nora Ephron.  If I could write like anyone it would be her.  She had a way of finding humor in the everyday female experience. Something as little as getting coffee, watching a movie or baking a cake could be witty and full of heart.

She unfortunately passed away in 2012 but in addition to her many movies (directing and writing) she wrote several delightful books of essays including the 2006 I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being a Woman.  This is not an important book but I kind of love it and it was our choice for book club this month.

Unfortunately nobody that had read the book was able to attend so I am going to share with all you what I would have shared with all of them.  Let me set the scene to start (I always try to make everything pretty but tried especially to honor the uber-classy Miss Ephron.

I wanted to do something really beautiful and decadent worthy of Nora so I made this russian cream
I wanted to do something really beautiful and decadent worthy of Nora so I made this russian cream

To make the Russian Cream you simply mix 2 cups sugar with 2 packets unflavored gelatin.  4 cups cream.  Heat till hot but not boiling.  Cool down and mix in 4 cups sour cream.  Put in molds.  Let set in fridge overnight.  Unmold and serve with fruit. It’s an easy recipe but it looks beautiful.

We had a pretty pink spread
We had a pretty pink spread
I found these beautiful peonies and I couldn't resist
I found these beautiful peonies and I couldn’t resist

So now you feel like you are at book club. Let me tell you about it.

One of my favorite essays Nora says:

What I Wish I’d Known”

People have only one way to be.

Buy, don’t rent.

Never marry a man you wouldn’t want to be divorced from.

Don’t cover a couch with anything that isn’t more or less beige.

Don’t buy anything that is 100% wool even if it seems to be very soft and not particularly itchy when you try it on in the store.

You can’t be friends with people who call after 11 p.m.

Block everyone on your instant mail.

The world’s greatest babysitter burns out after two and a half years.

You never know.

The last four years of psychoanalysis are a waste of money.

The plane is not going to crash.

Anything you think is wrong with your body at the age of thirty-five you will be nostalgic for at the age of forty- five.

Write everything down.

Keep a journal.

Take more pictures.

The empty nest is underrated….

Here was my version of

What I Wish I Had Known by Rachel Wagner

Travel more when you are young

People will not be real with you a lot of the time

Privacy is overrated

A $100 couch is just as comfortable as a $1000 couch.

Do not select the appliance package when you buy your house

Leaving singles ward sucks. Be ready.

A plate of spaghetti will change your life

The dream job is coming

DVR is a game changer

Date more in college

Panic attacks are the scariest moments of your life

Mr Sunshine is still hiding at 33.

Can never own too many maxi dresses

Aside from the basics most of what you learn in school you will never use

Good choice not going into debt

Look up open water swimming in 2001 not 2011

Paying dues will take you ten years

You are a leader. Stop resenting it and embrace it.

Nora and Cooking

Another essay I love is called Serial Monogamy:  A Memoir.  It is actually all about her relationship with cooking and food.  Throughout her life and marriages Nora had adventures in food.  At 16 her mother gave her The Gourmet Cookbook, then the Flavor of France, Julia Child, Michael Fields, Craig Claiborne, Lee Lun’s Chinese recipes, Marcella Hazan, Martha Stewart and Nigella Lawson.  Cooking took her through changes in career, 3 marriages and her children.  She even has internal dialogues with the chefs. It reminds me of the rat in Ratatouiee that has conversations with Chef Gusteau

She ends the section in a very sweet way “I especially like making her roast beef dinner, which is very much like my mother’s except for the yorkshire pudding.  My mother didn’t serve yorkshire pudding, although there is  recipe for it in The Gourmet Cookbook.  My mother served potato pancakes instead.  I serve yorkshire pudding and potato pancakes.  Why not?  You only live once”

I love that.  You only live once so make two starches at dinner.  It’s a lovely little essay.

Nora on Parenting

My favorite essay is on parenting.  Even though I am not a parent I am a child of parents and I find it very moving. She starts out saying “I gave birth to my children, which was not that long ago, when there was almost no such thing as parenting as we know it today”

“Back in the day where there were merely parents, as opposed to people engaged in parenting, being a parent was fairly straight forward.  You didn’t need a book and if you owned one it was by Dr.  Spock, a pediatrician and you rarely looked at i unless your child a had a fever…back in those days no one believed that you could turn your child into a different human being from the one he started out being…”

“All this changed around the time I had children. You can blame the women’s movement for it-one of the bedrock tentes fo the women’s movement was that because so many women were entering the workforce men and women should share in the raising of children; thus the gender neutral word parenting and the necessity of elevating child rearing to something more than the endless hours of quantity time it actually consists of.

Conversely, you can blame the backlash against the women’s movement- lost of women didn’t feel like entering the workforce or even sharing the raising of children with their husbands, but they felt guilty about this, so they were compelled to elevate full time parenthood to a sacrament”

She goes on to talk about the pressure people feel molding their children into these ivy league perfect people and then they grow up.  I LOVE the ending and I hope my parents feel a little bit of this when we are all back with all our idiosyncrasies and choices:

“Meanwhile, every so often, your children come to visit.  They are, amazingly, completely charming people.  You can’t believe you’re lucky enough to know them.  They make you laugh.  They make you proud.  You love them madly.  They survived you.  You survived them.  It crosses your mind that on some level, you spent hours and days and months and years without laying a glove on them, but don’t dwell.   There’s no point. It’s over.

Except for the worrying.

The worrying is forever”

I tear up whenever I read that.  The worrying is forever. I can picture my parents worrying about me and it makes me feel loved and I’m grateful for that love.

In Conclusion

Some of the essays are quite humorous.  There is one about her scandalous non-affair with President Kennedy and another about her life in an epic apartment in New York.  They aren’t all equally great but I love them.

It is the perfect summer book.  Light, heart felt and beautiful.  I don’t want to oversell it but I love it.

I’d love to hear your thoughts if any of you have read it since I didn’t get to talk much about it this morning.

nora-ephron-quote

 

 

Happy Irish Day!

irish dinner

Happy St Patricks Day! I love entertaining and finding an excuse to celebrate and today I celebrated St Patricks Day a day early.

I also got to celebrate using my pressure cooker for the first real time! It’s pretty intimidating putting it all in there, hoping you have it right and then hearing it whistle and sputter.

It sounded like it was about ready to explode the whole time but I didn’t peak and after an hour my corned beef and cabbage was looking good and tender (normally takes hours, so the pressure cooker was a success!). I finished off rubbing it in brown sugar and roasting in the oven so it got crystallized and sweet.
irish dinner 3

I added mashed potatoes made with sour cream, milk, russet potatoes and butter to the meal and it was delicious! (See recipe below)

My cousin Danielle and her husband Corey came and my sister and her roommate Becca. In between dinner we played Balderdash and then Danielle brought a yummy cheesecake. All in all it was a great and delicious night!

Btw, according to Wikipedia St Patrick’s Day is a day of feasting to commemorate the arrival of Christianity into Ireland. What better way to celebrate then by feasting with friends on Sunday.

Life is good and I hope you all have a wonderful day and week.

Top of the morning!

corned beef and mashed potatoes
Pressure Cooker Corned Beef and Cabbage
3 lb corned beef brisket
1 large green cabbage
1 bag baby carrots (or 3 carrots peeled and diced)
2 apples diced
1 onion chopped
1 packet of pork rub seasoning (I used this brown sugar rub I got in my Tyler Florence fancy box. It is for pork but worked great with the corned beef)
rub
brown sugar and agave for roasting
Put apple, cabbage, carrots, onion in bottom of pressure cooker.
Cover beef with spice mix on all sides, put on top of veggies. Add water until just gets to the bottom of the beef.
Put pressure cooker on high for about 10 minutes and then turn to low (for me it was a level 4 on the stove).
Let cook on low for an hour and 15 more minutes.
Then take meat out and rub with brown sugar and drizzle on some agave. Put in 400 degree oven for 15 minutes until brown sugar is crystalized and bubbly (don’t let it burn!)
Make sure to cut it against the grain and as thinly as possible to keep it from being tough.
Serve veggies and meat.

Mashed Potatoes
8 russet potatoes peeled and diced
1 cup sour cream
1/2 stick of butter
1/4 cup of milk
salt and pepper
Cook potatoes till tender then mash adding milk, butter and sour cream to taste. If I’m going to splurge and eat potatoes I make them really good but it’s up to you.

The downside to using the pressure cooker is that it is too watery to create any kind of gravy but the sour cream in the mashed potatoes made them flavorful enough on their own. You could also add garlic if you wanted.

So, that was my fun night. What did you guys do this weekend? Anything fun? And don’t worry. I will be wearing green on the actual holiday. In fact, check out the youtube channel because I will be opening a very special My Ireland Box in honor of the day. So fun!