Thursday, January 31, 2013

Divine Ham and Cheese Rolls

What You Need:
24 rolls (I used poppy seed twisty rolls from Trader Joe's that I love)
24 pieces good honey ham
24 small slices Swiss cheese

1 1/2 Tablespoons yellow mustard
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 Tablespoon minced onion
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
What You Do:
Spread mayo onto both sides of the bread. Place a ham and Swiss cheese inside of each roll. Close rolls and place them into a large baking dish. Place very close together.

In a medium bowl, whisk together all of the sauce ingredients.

Pour evenly over all of the sandwiches. Just use enough to cover the tops. Let sit 10 minutes or until butter sets slightly. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 12-15 minutes or until cheese is melted. Uncover and cook for 2 additional minutes or until tops are slightly brown and crispy. Serve warm.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Dressing Basics - Tips for Making Your Own

Making salad dressing at home is not only easy but it is healthier.  Once I started making my own I never buy store bought any more.

Once you get the basics down, you can get more adventurous with trying different vinegars and flavors.

My general rule for putting salads is a formula that follows this format:

  • choose your greens 
  • pick one cheese
  • pick a crunch (nuts are my general go-to)
  • pick a sweet (to compliment the savory of the crunch) - usually use fresh or dried fruit

So for this example I used greens with herbs mixed in, goat cheese, walnuts and fresh peach.

Now to the dressing.  The biggest tip I can offer you is to practice.  The more you do it, the more fun it becomes.  Also, use good oil and vinegar.  You can truly taste the difference when doing dressings.  I was lucky that my friend Reeves gave us some for Christmas.

I do not use exact measurements.  I just eyeball it and taste as I go along.  I start in a small bowl with a vinegar base.  My general go to's are either balsamic vinegar, champagne vinegar or red wine vinegar but you can use anything you have or anything that sounds good to you.

Not all the time but frequently, I add a squirt of mustard.  Most of the time I use dijon but sometimes yellow or spicy mustards are nice too.  A little dab'll do you.  It thickens the dressing and adds another level of tartness along with the vinegar.  At this stage I also season with salt and pepper.  You always want to do that.

Then comes the olive oil.  I like to pour in the olive oil while at the same time whisking with a fork.  You can get an idea of the consistency.  Here's where it is difficult to tell you exactly because I just  pour until the consistency and taste feel right but I'd say it is generally 1 part vinegar to 2 parts olive oil.  And a little goes a long way.  A tiny bowl of dressing when tossed in with the salad is enough for a large bowl.  Or, if you used bagged greens, one tiny bowl of dressing is more than enough for the entire bag of greens.  You can always add more in but use sparingly at first.

That's it.  Easy and delicious.  A squirt of citrus can also be a nice accompaniment to the dressing.  I like to use lemon if I have fresh fruit in the salad because it helps it from browning.  You can make these types of dressings ahead but wait to dress the salad until just before serving.  If you make the dressing ahead, give it a good few whisks with the fork before you dress the salad since the oil and vinegar will separate if it sits too long.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Strawberry, Cream Cheese and Pretzel Pie

There are few things that smell better in the world than melted butter mixed with pretzels.  Truly.  I don't know what it is about that combo but my house smells DIVINE after making this.  It is a little summery feeling but with this dreary winter weather, I've got no problem dishing this up now.  Another bonus?  I'm not a big baker but I did get to pull out my Kitchen Aid stand mixer to make this which is always fun!

Strawberry, Cream Cheese and Pretzel Pie
Recipe adapted from here.
What You Need:

  • 3 cups crushed pretzel sticks
  • 1 stick of butter butter, melted
  • 3 tablespoons white sugar
Cream Cheese Layer
  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 (8 ounce) container frozen whipped topping, thawed
Strawberry Layer
  • 1 (3 ounce) packages strawberry flavored gelatin
  • 1 1/4 cup boiling water
  • 1 packages frozen strawberries
What You Do:
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
  • Stir together crushed pretzels, melted butter and 3 tablespoons sugar.

  • Mix well and press mixture into the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish.
  • Bake 8 to 10 minutes, until set. Set aside to cool.

  • In a large mixing bowl cream together cream cheese and 1 cup sugar. Fold in whipped topping. Spread mixture onto cooled crust. Be sure to spread it to the edges to seal off the crust.
  • Dissolve gelatin in boiling water. Stir in still frozen strawberries and allow to set briefly. When mixture is about the consistency of egg whites, pour and spread over cream cheese layer. 

  • Refrigerate until set. 

Monday, January 28, 2013

Winter Beef Stew

This is the perfect Sunday dish to have simmering away on the stove when it is cold outside.  It uses an entire bottle of Cote Du Rhone in the marinade.

The other surprising ingredient is a sliced orange.  It adds a hint of citrus and freshness to the dish.

What You Need:
1.5 lbs. stew beef, cut into 1 inch cubes
1 (750-ml) bottle Cote du Rhone
salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 sprigs fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
3 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch slices
1 orange, washed well and cut into 8 wedges
1 large onion, thickly diced
3 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
olive oil
1 6-oz can tomato paste

What You Do: 

Season meat with salt and pepper on all sides.  Place meat in a big bowl with wine, thyme, bay leaves, carrots, orange, onion, and garlic.  Cover and marinate in the fridge for at least 12 hours, and preferably 24 hours.

Doesn't he marinade just look so pretty?

Heat some olive oil over medium heat in a large stockpot.  Remove the meat from the marinade and brown the pieces in the oil on all sides.  Pour the marinade (including the oranges, bay leaves, etc.) over the meat and bring to a boil.  Boil for 5 minutes, skimming any foam from the surface.  Lower the heat to a simmer, stir in the tomato paste, and add 4 1/2 c. water.  Cover, and let stew on low heat for 2-3 hours, stirring occasionally.

Let cook for 15 minutes on medium heat without the lid to thicken the stew.  Serve over mashed potatoes, rice, or pasta.

Recipe adapted from here.  

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Affordable Art Project

This was a crazy affordable project and not to mention easy. I think the end results looks pretty great. I framed some fabric to hang over the huge, bare wall space above our king sized bed.

For a long time I've been looking for something to go over the wall above our bed.  It's a big space and I was wrestling with what a mirror would look like because I was afraid it would look disproportionate to the size.  I am also sick of having lots of little pieces of artwork around because I can't afford larger pieces that make a bigger statement.  Not to mention, larger mirrors were crazy expensive too.  The end result of this project gave me some substantial size for an unsubstantial cost.

I started with the Ikea Ribba Frames.  These were I think $19.99 each.  They're huge so not a bad cost.

I spray painted them gold.  I think the can of spray paint was under $5.  I like this because it has some sheen but it is more of a darker, brassy gold than cheap and chintzy looking.  And then added some ikat fabric that I ordered from here.  It was $23/yard and I only needed 1 yard to complete this.

Note: 1 yard is plenty to fill up both frames but if you are trying to repeat a large pattern, you need to be careful about pattern repeat so you can get the look you want.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Scenes from the Abode

A whole bunch of randomness coming up... First, I think I'm in denial that it is winter. I was hoping my paper whites bloom from this sunny window.

And in no time they did!  I added a little sparkly Valentine's Banner to hang over it.

A little master bedroom dresser action going on...

Love this tiny avocado print I picked up in Austin.  It's hand painted and I love the dainty frame.  I picked some color coordinator books to stack underneath it.

Pork and pineapple.  Can't think of a better combo...loved snacking on the leftover pineapple for breakfast all week!

I even went so far as to bake biscuits for breakfast one morning...not from scratch though!  Let's not get crazy...

I've been OBSESSING over an antelope runner like this for our house:

Granted out staircase is much less grand in size and scale but I still think it would cozy the place up...and give the poor little pups more traction and a landing pad.

I had the flooring company come out and take measurements and they shipped me a sample.  And that's about all that is going to happen right now because the estimate came back at $1500!!!  We carpeted our entire basement for that!!  I told my husband to blame my good design taste.  :)

But don't you think this NEEDS to happen?!!

If so, I implore you to help me convince my husband...

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Weeknight Inspiration: Rosemary Chicken Quarters

All you need is chicken, rosemary, butter and a little salt and pepper.  And a hot grill.  Dinner is served and 'cause you cooked it on the grill, you have one less pan to clean up!

What You Need:
chicken quarters, skin on, 1 per person
2 tablespoons of butter per chicken quarter
1 tablespoon of fresh chopped rosemary per chicken quarter
salt and pepper to taste

What You Do:
Chop slightly softened butter into tiny squares and mix with chopped rosemary in a small bowl.

Reach under the skin of each chicken quarter to loosen the skin from the meat.  This part is kind of gross but not hard.  Stuff the butter and rosemary on both sides of the chicken quarter underneath the skin.  Season generously with salt and pepper.

Grill 'em up and eat 'em.  It's. that. simple.


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Nate Berkus Fabrics at Calico Corners

I get a crazy little rush every time I go into a Calico Corners (or any fabric store for that matter).  I get dizzy thinking about the endless possibilities and what I could do if I only had more money.  Nate Berkus has started a line of his own at Calico Corners that's...wait for it...affordable!  Affordable and awesome?  Can it be?

Oh, yes.  Yes, it is.

They are a good mix of modern and traditional to suit everyone's styles.  I especially love the bolder ikats and chevrons (shocking, I know).

All fabrics found at Calico Corner's.
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