Thursday, December 18, 2008

Open Door Open Kitchen

For my out-of-town readers, and in case you didn't see the article in our local newspaper, The Wichita Eagle, here's a link to the story Joe Stumpe wrote about my food blog.

Jaime Oppenheimer, a photojournalist from the Eagle shot the photos (which do not appear online). Jamie was nice enough to share a couple out-takes from our shoot. Very nice shots.

Obviously I'm not just a cook, but a comedian too. (Actually, I don't remember what we were laughing at.)

Habibi, my sweet little dog loves momma's cookin' too. Short ribs are one of his favs.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Dark chocolate heaven

I was never a real dark chocolate lover until my husband came along. He LOVES dark chocolate. Like most women love chocolate of any kind; he lives for dark chocolate. Randy's love for dark chocolate has rubbed off a bit, so I made these beautiful little truffles today.

Cooking the chocolate.

All ready to be chilled.

Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate Truffles
Yields 30 truffles

2 cups Ghirardelli 60% Cacao Bittersweet Baking Chips
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
6 Tbsp unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Coatings (coat in one):
Chopped pecans
Sweetened coconut

Bring the cream to a simmer in a small saucepan. Add butter and stir until melted. Add chocolate to saucepan. Stir until completely melted and smooth. Remove from heat and pour the chocolate mixture into a shallow bowl. Cover and cool in the fridge until firm, at least two hours. Roll mixture into 1" balls. Roll each ball in the coating of your choice (or 10 in each like I did). ENJOY!

Fruition in my kitchen

I like how that rhymes. Randy's son, Josh, an aspiring chef and fabulous cook happens to work at one of my favorite restaurants in Denver, Fruition. Josh was home for the weekend and wanted to cook us dinner. We, of course, very enthusiastically obliged his wish. And boy was it amazing. I'm telling you - Josh has learned so much in the past 8 months he's been living in Denver. He's going somewhere in the culinary world. He's not sure where yet - but I'm sure it's somewhere great. The pics below should entice you to go to Fruition when you are in Denver.

Amy's Family Dinner

As you've probably read about before here, my good friend Amy comes for dinner on Wednesday nights. This particular week, Randy was out-of-town, and I finally had Amy's dad, Mark and his lovely girlfriend Gayle over for dinner.

I learned a valuable lesson this night too - ALWAYS ask new dinner guests if they have any food allergies before planning the menu. Gayle is allergic to nuts, and I'd coated the halibut in almonds and put pesto (pine nuts) on the pasta. However, Gayle was very gracious about the situation, and it turned out okay.

Amy's salad - way to go babe! (Amy loves to eat and is learning that cooking can be equally fun.)

The menu that evening was almond-encrusted halibut and jumbo shrimp with an orange burre blanc sauce, pesto bowtie pasta and fresh green beans.

We all had a great time!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Cupcake Perfection

Barefoot Contessa's Coconut Cupcakes

3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups sugar
5 extra-large eggs at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons pure almond extract
3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk (I must have used milk because I don't remember buying buttermilk)
14 ounces sweetened, shredded coconut

For the frosting:
1 pound cream cheese at room temperature
3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
1 1/2 pounds confectioners' sugar, sifted

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, add the eggs, 1 at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition. Add the vanilla and almond extracts and mix well.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In 3 parts, alternately add the dry ingredients and the buttermilk to the batter, beginning and ending with the dry. Mix until just combined. Fold in 7 ounces of coconut.

Line a muffin pan with paper liners. Fill each liner to the top with batter. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, until the tops are brown and a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Remove to a baking rack and cool completely.

Meanwhile, make the frosting. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, on low speed, cream together the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla and almond extracts. Add the confectioners' sugar and mix until smooth.

Frost the cupcakes and sprinkle with the remaining coconut.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Chicken with Pancetta and Balsamic Vinegar

Thank you Mark Bitten. He is one of my favorite cookbook/blog authors, but I especially love him for this recipe. I was searching his blog for a recipe using my pancetta from La Quercia, and found this one. It will NOT disappoint I tell ya. I even served it to some foodie friends and they were way impressed.

Cook the chicken in cast iron. Makes all the difference.

Pancetta, my second favorite cured pork. Next to bacon, of course.

Beth and me - about to eat. (Of course our husbands had nothing to do with the pictures, they just wanted to EAT!)

Trout Almondine

Digging into the my new, beloved Artfully Done Cookbook has been such a joy. I've thumbed through it making mental notes on what to make first. Trout Almondine was a wonderful choice, and was a crowd pleaser the night I made it. (If you live in Wichita, buy your fish at the Fish Company for the freshest catch - I know its VERY ironic to use the word fresh when we're talking about Kansas. Just trust me though).

Plating dinner.

Enjoying dinner with Randy and Amy. (Thanks AJ for snappin' the pic.)

Monday, November 24, 2008

Savory beef short ribs

When the weather cools, I crave comfort food. One of my all time favs is beef short ribs. The flavor is so rich and wonderful - they literally melt on your tongue.

A's Short Ribs

Serves 2

4 -5 Bone-in short ribs (can also use boneless, I prefer bone-in for flavor)
Garlic Pepper Salt
Cavenders (Greek seasoning - I use the salt free kind)
Lemon juice
Good grainy mustard
Onion, slices into wedges

Put the short ribs in the slow cooker with the bone side down, add 1 inch of water in the crock. Sprinkle garlic powder, Cavenders, salt and pepper over the top, then spread some grainy mustard on top. Cook on low all day, or high for half a day.

Ingredients (plus your short ribs)

Put it all in the slow cooker on low and be prepared for a tasty dinner

Mmm, they're ready

Serve with rice pilaf and a salad

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Calming, redecorated breakfast nook

You might remember when I posted about our mischievous little dog, Beasley starting this project for us. Our great painter tested my patience (which I don't have much of) and made me wait for two months. John the painter was busy. I had to wait. Staring at bare walls for that long would drive even drive the sanest of people insane. And I don't claim to be sane. :)

The long awaited (for me at least) breakfast nook is complete, and I think it turned out just great. Also, I got my inspiration for this room from Traditional Home, and posted the pics in an old post. The room I found inspiration from was much more formal than my little room, but I just fell in love with the color.

KSU football

Going to the games on Saturdays is our life in the Fall. This year, I've been extremely busy and haven't made it to many games. I did go last week when KSU got their behinds kicked by Nebraska. We did have a great time even though KSU didn't win. It's all about the experience though!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Johnson + Tallgrass Film Fest

A few weeks back, my husband and I had the pleasure of his best friend from college (and still today), Mark Johnson, coming to visit from LA for the Tallgrass Film Festival. Visits from Johnson usually come once a year when he's on his way to visit his parents in a small town a couple hours from here. But this time, he really did come just to see us - well and to see his film, O2 at the Festival. Of course, his was far superior to the other films, however there were a couple that were pretty good.

Us doing a little pre-fest celebrating downtown.

Zach and his lady friend (who Johnson decided to nickname Porsche - random but funny.)

Kelsea and her boyfriend.

Johnson and me.

Johnson on stage with the other director/producers answering audience questions about their films.

Can't wait for next year J-man to celebrate your next short masterpiece! We love you!

Pesto baby

My mouth waters just typin' the word. My grandma taught me how to make it a few years back, and she and I have been pesto makin' machines ever since. I'm madly in love with it, and she eats some and gives a lot away.

Basil Pesto

3 cups fresh basil (it grows so easily in the garden, we plant two plants each year)
4 cloves garlic
3/4 cup pine nuts, toasted (or you can use walnuts, but I prefer the flavor of pine nuts)
1/2 cup Parmesan (I fake it and use the Rice Parmesan because I *try* not to eat dairy)
1/4 cup good olive oil
salt, to taste

Grandma washing basil from the garden.

Chop up the basil in the food processor.

Peel your garlic and add it.

Throw in your toasted pine nuts, chop again. Then add your olive oil and taste.

Once it's the right consistency, taste it. Then add salt to taste.

Jar that pesto up, and it will keep a long time in the fridge and even longer in the freezer. Also, you can add citric acid if you don't like it to turn dark. I figure it tastes the same and don't worry, especially because the citric acid changes the flavor.

Leave one jar open, and enjoy the fruits of your labor with one of those tasty crackers.

I could eat a million of these, but have to practice self control.

Other uses for pesto: add olive oil and toss with pasta; use instead of marinara on a pizza; make a pesto vinaigrette for salad; and use your imagination. It's good just by the spoonful.

Friday, November 14, 2008

My dear friend Alexis' Wedding

Wow, she was a gorgeous bride. Too bad I don't have any good pics of her and her darling husband, Cooper.

Alexis and her wonderfully talented and incredible mother (who decorated the entire country club and did the flowers for the wedding - pics below).

My fabulous friend Amy. Is she beautiful or what?

My husband and me.

And one of us where I'm being way squirrely (it happens so rarely, I just had to post it).

Generations of love

Genevieve and her Great Grandma (my grandma). Nothing quite lights up our family like babies do. Princess G has brought so many sweet moments to our family, and she's a mere 9 months old. And she just keeps getting cuter and more fun.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Hope for a better world

Begins soon with our new leader. Damn, it feels good to be an American again (finally). The change we need is on the horizon. The international respect for our country will be restored. The economy will bounce back. We will take care of our people. History has been made, and it's just the beginning of a new era of a promising tomorrow.

Damn it feels good to be an American.

(Photos via Vanity Fair)