Monday, December 27, 2010

Bananas Foster: A Love Story

I have a million memories of  making bananas foster but my favorite was when Heather and I braved the first storm of "Snowmageddon" last year (close to 3 feet of snow total) and walked to 7/11 for a midnight snack. At first we grabbed Doritos, and Snickers bars but then we saw that they had bananas and those little packages of Sarah Lee pound cakes. We had butter, brown sugar and rum. Jackpot.

The streets were deserted and completed white, it hardly looked like a main turnpike. The sky was pitch black. We looked like Eskimos with 7/11 bags and I think we even sang Christmas songs. It was wonderful.

Bananas Foster
Recipe from Paula Deen (It's got a stick of butter in it! Of course I used her recipe) 

1 stick butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
4 bananas peeled and halved, cut lengthwise
1/4 cup dark rum
1 slice of pound cake 

Melt butter in a large skillet. Add brown sugar and stir together. Slice and add the bananas, cook until caramelized over medium-high heat. Pour in the rum and carefully light the pan on fire with a match or lighter (a long candle lighter is best). Flambe. The flame will shoot high out of the pan, don't panic it will die out within 25 seconds. Serve immediately over a slice of pound cake with scoops of vanilla ice cream.


Sunday, December 26, 2010

French Onion Soup on a Cold Day

It was really cold today. They said we were going to get about 6 inches of snow, but we never saw it. I decided it was a good day for some soup. French onion is so warm and the cheese is gooey and the bread is crusty... is there anything better on a snow day? (Or a supposed to snow day)


Shopping List (3 servings) 
2 1/2 cups beef stock
2 onions (whatever color you prefer)
1/4 cup dry white wine
2 tsp sugar
1 garlic clove
3 tbs butter

Mozzarella and Parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp thyme
1 bay leaf
and French bread

 
Chop up the onions to desired size for  soup and throw them in a large saute pan with 3 tbs butter. The pan should be large enough to add broth later. Saute onions for about 15 to 20 minutes tossing in the sugar and chopped garlic clove half way through. The sugar will help to onions caramelize. When the onions are translucent and almost gooey add beef stock and wine plus about 1 tablespoon of salt and pepper. Stir. Add the thyme and bay leaf and reduce the heat and cover to simmer and let the flavors combine.


Tear up bite size bits of the French bread and toast them until they are crisp and brown. Remove the bay leaf and ladle soup into bowls, place crispy bread pieces on top. Cover soup and bread completely with shredded mozzarella and Parmesan cheese and place bowls in broiler until the cheese bubbles up on top, no more than 4 minutes usually. Remove carefully and enjoy!

 
Note: I used Swiss Gruyere and decided after that mozzarella melts much better for that gooey, brown french onion soup effect. I would add some Parmesan to the mozzarella for more flavor. 
  

Honey Love

I hope everyone had as merry of a Christmas we I did! In addition to our new puppy I also got a digital SLR camera, it's the Canon Rebel XS. (Let me know if you can tell the difference in my posts) I plan on spending the next few days using it to get Honey on The Daily Puppy.

I'm lucky enough to have almost over a week off right now. I want to make butterscotch bread pudding and my famous bananas foster for Nick. I got a new "Cooking for Two" cookbook as well and will try a few things in there. We will be heading to Roanoke for New Years Eve with family. It's gorgeous up there in the mountains around Christmas time I hear. Honey will get to play with Cowboy too, the family corgi.

So we know that Honey is half Labrador but we don't know the other half. I think beagle. What do you think? It's driving me crazy. I guess I'm one of those people that has to know.

She is so well behaved.
She collects all her toys and puts them in a pile in front of her before she plays with them.
She sleeps a lot and even through the night with us in bed, no accidents, she just wimpers at about 6:30 am when she needs to go out. Then we all go back to sleep :)

Monday, December 20, 2010

Honey's Home!


We finally picked her up today. Nick had to cuddle her up inside his jacket because it was so cold outside. I melted. She is littler, softer, cuddlier and cuter than I could ever have imagined. We are in love. She's a Birthday/Christmas doggie. Welcome home Honey <3. (more pictures to come, I have to make a birthday cake tonight. Lemon with strawberry,lemon filling and cream cheese frosting.)

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Raw/Vegan Mayonnaise & Potato Salad

This diet has really put a damper on my food blogging. But the end is near and there are birthday cakes and Christmas cookies in the not so distant future (tomorrows blog).

This is one of the raw/vegan recipes I tried out so far (not nearly as fun as Key Lime Cake). I was interested in the idea of a vegan mayonnaise. While it tastes nothing like real mayo, it is a tasty alternative, kind of like humus. This is a slightly altered version of Gena's recipe. Check out her blog if your into this kind of stuff, it's kinda cool to check out raw/vegan alternatives to traditional dishes (Like the raw blt, carrot fries, and "chocolate" pudding)

Vegan/Raw Mayo


Ingredients:

1 cup cashews, soaked overnight
3 tbsp – ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic
3 tbps Almond milk (or water)
2 tbsp mustard (Gena doesn't call for mustard but I think it can be a bit bland without it)

Procedure:

Food processor: Blend nuts, garlic and lemon until the mixture is combined. With the motor running, drizzle in the olive oil until the mix takes on a creamy texture. Check the consistency: if it’s still too thick or coarse, keep blending and drizzle in some almond milk. Keep going until it’s rich and creamy.

For the potato salad:
Boil up and chop some baby red potatoes. Toss them in the vegan mayo, sprinkle on some sea salt and dill.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Non Fun Raw Food Diet Alert

The game plan is Dec 14-21 "Raw Foods" only. Kind of. We are doing our own variation for a week as sort of a cleanse. Hoping to jump start exercise and weight loss though this change in "food behavior". For the most part we are only doing raw foods, veggies, fruits, nuts, seeds. No dairy, eggs, sugar, caffeine or anything processed. And yes that means I haven't had coffee today. We may try some cooked vegan meals if I find a recipe I want to try. We ordered our juicer today for those green breakfast drinks.

Dec 21, is Nick's birthday. We have a big dinner party at Maggiano's planned. Pasta will be served and wine is a must. We can stop the madness for one day to celebrate my loves birthday. Then we will carry on until Christmas day when I will have my first Filipino Christmas dinner. 

So far I am pretty uninspired by the cuisine. I have found a couple good blogs for inspiration that I will add to my list for a few weeks. On the up side the dishes are bright and pretty. I'm looking forward to juicing. Maybe the preparation and specific ingredients involved will make me a better cook in general.

Here is a very basic version of the raw diet. Snooze. 
  • Breakfast - Fruit smoothie or green smoothie, containing four or five cups fresh fruit and green vegetables, ice, and two to three cups water. (Optional: add one raw egg.)
  • Snack - Raw nuts, fresh fruit such as oranges, apples, or pears
  • Lunch - Large salad based on green leafy veggies, including three celery stalks, two large tomatoes, any color bell pepper, and avocados, sprinkled with sunflower seeds. Salad dressing can be a drizzle of cold-pressed olive oil and/or freshly squeezed orange juice.
  • Snack - Four cups berries, or pineapple, or three peaches
  • Dinner - Spinach salad, with baby spinach leaves, romaine lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, green onions, and orange segments. Freshly made vegetable juice containing mostly green veggies.
  • Dessert or Evening Snack - Ten raw pecans or walnuts, banana
  • Beverages - As much water as you'd like, freshly squeezed fruit juices, freshly made vegetable juices
Do you know anything about raw diets?

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Ft. Benning Key Lime Cake


I came across this recipe while I was in Georgia for work. A woman who works in the Warrior Transition Battalion at Ft. Benning made it for the Sgt. Major. He was raving about her "green cake" begging her to make another one. I was surprised by the ingredients and couldn't wait to try it myself. It's a pretty cake for the summer time or holidays, very bright and moist. It's also good for people that don't like chocolate (like my boyfriend).

For Cake

*1 box lemon cake mix
*1 1/3 cups canola oil
*4 eggs
*1 (3 ounce) package lime flavored Jello
*3/4 cup orange juice (or any juice you feel like! I actually used lemonade)
*1 bag of key limes
    Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. Mix ingredients, lightly grease and flour cake pans (I only made two layers, so it looks closer to a key lime pie) and pour in cake mixture. Bake for 35 minutes or test with a toothpick in the center. Toothpick will come out clean when the cake is done. Let cakes cool before you begin to frost them. I would even put them in the refrigerator for awhile.


    Juice about 6 key limes into a bowl. When the cake is cooked and cooled, spoon some of the juice on to the entire top of the first layer to give it some zing.

    For Frosting
    *1 stick butter
    *1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese
    *1/2 can cream of coconut  (optional but gives it a slight tropical flavor)
    *2 cups confectioners' sugar (other recipes call for more but I think it makes it too sweet)

    Add room temperature butter and cream cheese to mixer, whip until incorporated. Add confectioners sugar to taste and texture.  Add cream of coconut to taste but mind the texture. (I made my frosting a bit to runny and I had to refrigerate it to stiffen it up enough to stick to the cake.)

    Friday, December 10, 2010

    Stella

    I love bittersweet movies. I cried my eyes out (loudly) in the theater with my best friend Jamie when we saw The Notebook and it's one of my favorite memories with her. There is something about a good "movie cry" that makes me all warm and fuzzy inside. Although for me it's easy... I cry sometimes while watching "My First Place" on HGTV. Pathetic.

    This clip is from an 80's movie that is one of my favorites. My mom and I used to watch it all the time. In Stella "The title character is a vulgar and unfashionable single mother who, determined to give her daughter Jenny all the opportunities she never had, ultimately makes a selfless sacrifice to ensure her happiness" (wiki). The clip enters with Stella crying in her living room. She just pretended to not care about Jenny in order to force her to want to live with her father who Stella believes can give her a better life. The wedding scene breaks my heart every time.

    Thursday, December 9, 2010

    The Dress that Got Away...

    I first laid eyes on this Alice and Olivia dress almost a year ago during the "After the Final Rose" special on The Bachelor's Gia. I wanted it badly but it was a bit out of my price range. Here we are several months later and it's still on my mind. It took pink and sparkly from ditsy/tacky to girlie/classy in my mind. I have a new love for all that is pink or peach with a gold hint or sparkly hue. Should I have splurged?

    All because of you



    P.S. Here is an awesome blog for finding items you may have seen on your favorite shows. She has helped me find all my Bachelorette/Bachelor must haves. www.possessionista.com

    Puppy Update

    Our little Labrador Retriever mix "Honey" (we re-named her) will be ours on the morning of Dec. 18th. She will be 3 mos. old on Dec 29th. We will pick her up from a transport van in DC somewhere, she's is traveling from a shelter in South Carolina with her brothers and sisters. (Who in the world wouldn't want these puppies?) She will go straight from the van into our arms.

    We passed our "home visit" on Sunday. Later while I was out with the girls Mr. Big went out and picked up her crate and some honey and oatmeal shampoo, plenty of toys, food, and a sparkly pink collar. We still have to fix some exposed wires in the apartment and figure out where to put her cute pink bowl! I love her already.
    I can't wait to take more photos when she gets here!

    P.S. This is her brother Kirk. Isn't he the cutest, cuddly-ist, teddy bear like puppy ever? I wish we could take him too. Lucky Dog rescue in DC., where we found Honey, is an amazing organization. This Christmas the Kane Show on Hot 99.5 is doing the "12 Strays of Christmas" from Lucky Dog rescue, more here.


    Sunday, December 5, 2010

    "It's Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas"

    Just a little peak at our Christmas tree and decorations this year. I got the gingham ribbon and silk poinsettias for the tree along with a glitter pen, three stockings and Rudolf & Clarice for under $25 dollars total today at Michaels. Crazy right? It was a mad house in there.

    This is the first year I have been able to showcase my growing White House ornament collection. I have four, for the four years I have been in the DC area. My favorite is 2007 that depicts Grover Cleveland's Christmas wedding at the White House. He was the only president to ever marry in the White House.

    I'm off to Georgia for work for a few days and won't be able to blog. Miss me.

    Thursday, December 2, 2010

    She Might be Ours

    Shiba Inu mix 2 months old
    I never knew that adopting a puppy would be such a process. So many things have been counting against us. We live in an apartment, we don't work from home, we haven't previously owned a pet. If they only knew how much we will love this puppy! Cross your fingers, we find out hopefully on Saturday morning.

    BIG PUPPY UPDATE: Right after lunch today a super nice woman called me at work to talk about another application for a puppy we submitted. While I adore the shiba inu mix, the agency that has her up for adoption has been less responsive to our application than this particular one. I would hate to be heart broken with no puppy so I had two we were applying for just in case. Apparently I passed the phone interview with flying colors and the baby yellow lab mix below has been promised to us as long as we pass the home inspection that should take place with in a week. We will see!!! I'm so excited!

    Yellow Labrador Retriever Mix 2 months old
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