Sunday, October 28, 2012

Roasted Rosemary-Bourbon Chicken

Roasted chicken is proof of God's love for us. Or, well, Southerners anyway. Go here

That's all.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Pizza...again. Carmelized balsamic onion and goat cheese pizza on whole wheat.

I'm not obsessed with pizza. I swear. It's just that I always have frozen pizza dough because I make it up in batches of six balls of dough at a time from this recipe, which I love.

This last time I made the recipe though, my local Wegmans was out of pizza dough flour again so I picked up some whole wheat pastry flour to use instead. It worked out to about half and half pizza flour (type 00 flour or pastry flour) and whole wheat pastry flour, which must have been fine because it worked out and we get a little extra whole grain in our diet. Not a bad thing, right?

Anyway, I had seen a recipe for carmelized balsamic onion pizza on Pinterest a while back and I knew Doug wouldn't be that excited about it. He's not a big onion person. So I decided to make it for lunch.

Best. Lunch. Ever. I've always been a fan of balsamic reductions, but topping a pizza with it? So smart.

The original recipe called for the crust to be spread with cream cheese, which sounded gross and I didn't have any anyway so I just skipped that part and used the leftover oil from cooking the onions as a "sauce" instead. Good decision, I think. Well, you tell me.

Carmelized Onion Balsamic Pizza
barely adapted from The Forest Feast (update: link is down as of 10/26 but I'm sure it will be back)

1 ball of pizza dough, frozen and defrosted or homemade
3 tablespoons of olive oil, divided
1 tablespoon of butter
1/4 cup of balsamic vinegar
2 small onions (I used white, but red or sweet onions would be even better), sliced thinly
1/4 cup of goat cheese crumbles

1. Preheat the oven to 425, then stretch out the crust over a pizza pan sprayed with cooking spray and sprinkled with course cornmeal. I coat it with 1 tablespoon olive oil using a pastry brush, use a fork to poke holes in the center of the crust and blind bake it for 9 minutes.

2. Heat a frying pan to medium heat with two tablespoons of olive oil and one tablespoon of butter. Add onions and balsamic vinegar and cook slowly until onions are very soft and liquid is gone, about 20 minutes.

3. When the pizza crust is done blind baking, spread the oil left over in the pan from cooking the onions on the crust using a pastry brush. Then add the onions and sprinkle goat cheese over the top.

4. Bake an additional 7 minutes, finishing under the broiler if necessary to slightly brown the goat cheese.

5. Slice and serve with spinach salad.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Butter pecan mini cupcakes with maple buttercream

I have a confession to make.

I'm an obsessive baker.

Once, in college, I insisted on making a chocolate hazelnut flourless chocolate cake twice in one night because the first one hadn't turned out as well as I'd wished. I think that's the moment my friends discovered that I am, as they say, not right. Though, that was sophomore year so  probably I flatter myself that it took that long.

Take these butter pecan mini cupcakes. I made this recipe three times in one week. Yep. The first time, I just wanted dessert and I had all the ingredients for this recipe, found on Pinterest, and it looked pretty easy so I just threw them together.

And they were fine, if a bit chunky. The problem was, the original recipe called for chopped pecans, which might have been alright in a full-size cupcake, but in a mini cupcake, I just felt like I was eating a frosted muffin. A lumpy, frosted muffin with very sweet frosting that because of the high concentration of butter in the batter, left big melty holes in the cupcake. You can even see them in the picture on the site at the link above. Good, but not great. I liked the flavor combination though so I decided to mess around with it.

So, the second time I made the recipe, I decided to grind the pecans, turning it into a sort of pecan flour. I knew they would be drier because of the additional "flour" so I took out one tablespoon of the all-purpose flour. Plus I cut back on the maple syrup in the frosting and added a splash of whiskey. Still, not quite right.

Local when I can get it - Catoctin Creek Roundstone Rye and Langdon Wood Maple Syrup
But, I had friends coming over and luckily one of them is a trained pastry chef so I knew I could solicit his sage advice. The problem was that now the cupcakes were okay, but too dry and if I took out any more flour, I was going to have to start messing with the baking powder amount and I really wasn't keen. So my genius friend suggested adding a tablespoon of brown sugar. See, there's a reason sugar is considered a "liquid" in baking even when it most patently, obviously, isn't a liquid. Sugar holds onto moisture in a way that flour doesn't, especially brown sugar, so when he suggested it, I thought it had an excellent chance of working out.

And...ding ding ding! Last night I made them again for a church function and they were universally admired. Seriously, make these. Everyone will think you got them at a fancy cupcake store, but they're so easy.

Butter Pecan Cupcakes with Maple Buttercream Frosting

adapted from Suzie Sweet Tooth
makes 24 mini cupcakes


1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temp

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 tablespoon packed brown sugar

1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 eggs

1 cup minus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

scant 1/2 cup pecans, coursely ground in the food processor

whole pecans, toasted, to decorate

Maple Buttercream

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temp

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup Confectioners sugar, sifted

5 tablespoons real maple syrup

1 tablespoon whiskey (optional, but if you use it, take out 1 tablespoon maple syrup)

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 24 well mini muffin tin.

2. Cream the butter, sugar and brown sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs and beat until smooth. Add the vanilla and stir. Combine the flour, salt, baking powder and ground pecans and whisk to combine. Add the flour mixture to the sugar mixture and beat to combine.

3. Fill the wells of the mini muffin tin with one tablespoon each of batter. Bake for about 11-12 minutes or until a wooden skewer comes out clean. Let the cupcakes cool for about 2 minutes and then remove to a wire rack to continue cooling until completely cool.

4. While the cupcakes are baking, combine all the frosting ingredients and beat until fluffy. Remember, if you elect to make these adult cupcakes, take out a tablespoon of the maple syrup.

5. Frost cupcakes using a piping bag fitted with a star tip once cakes are completely cool and top with a whole pecan.

Friday, October 19, 2012

White pizza

When Doug got home tonight, I sent him to the grocery store since my bread was still in the oven. Unfortunately, I forgot to add pepperoni to the grocery list so he didn't buy any. In fact, I hadn't even mentioned that was what I had intended to make for dinner.

So I improvised. Honestly, some of my best meals happen when I improvise.

I decided to make white pizza, which I know we both like. And originally I thought I would just use olive oil, garlic and some cheese. But then I thought, why not make it a true white pizza?

Lucky for me, makes it really easy to change ingredient amounts. I just put down that I wanted one serving of alfredo, pulled out a tiny saucepan and off I went. Five minutes later, I had sauce and a baked pizza shell. Six minutes after that, we had dinner. Yay!

White Pizza

1 pound pizza dough, either from this recipe or frozen
1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
1 cup shredded cheese of your choosing (I use Wegmans shredded pizza blend)

Alfredo sauce
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup half & half
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spray a pizza pan with olive oil. Stretch out dough to make a 10" pizza. Use the 1 1/2 teaspoons of olive oil to brush the crust then prick it all over the center with a fork.

2. Prebake pizza crust for 9 minutes. While the crust bakes, make the alfredo sauce.

3. Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium low heat. Add half & half and simmer for 5 minutes, then add garlic and cheese and whisk quickly, heating through.

4. When the crust is done, take it out and spread the alfredo over the crust. Then sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon of garlic over the sauce. Then add the cheese.

5. Bake pizza for an additional 6 minutes or until cheese is brown and bubbly in the center.


Thursday, October 18, 2012

Highlights from yesterday. Status: Hilarity ensues.

I suppose other people might not call these highlights, but I'm pretty much down with anything that makes me laugh. And yesterday was nothing if not funny. There was no falling down yesterday though. In fact, no one was hurt at all.

So...Wednesday is thrift store day. The local Salvation Army has 25% off on Wednesdays so if I have to pick a day to go, why not that one? And if I'm going there anyway, I may as well also go to the Goodwill just up the road and the Inova Hospital thrift shop too. The SA and the Goodwill turned up a couple things, but my find of the day was A MUSICAL ICE BUCKET at Inova. Yes.

I was wandering through the store, scoping out the wares and I saw an aluminum ice bucket with a slightly yellowed plastic handle on top.

Clearly 50s right? So I moved in to investigate further. It was cheap, but the plastic knob on top had a slight chip so normally this would be something I might pass on. But something made me lift the lid and when I did, I saw this little metal bar.

So I though what the heck and I turned it. And the ice bucket started playing a song.

I almost dropped it I was laughing so hard. A store employee had been near by and came over to look. He stared it at incredulously for a while and then beckoned over another employee, who was also vastly amused. Then we brought it up to the counter to put with the other stuff they were holding for me and we showed the volunteer manning the register. At that point other customers in the store started to take notice. An older guy who I've seen before lurking around the various area thrifts (mostly a record guy, I think) was clearly jealous of my find. We were all trying to figure out what song it was playing, but I think the motor needed to warm up a bit because it was pretty unintelligible at first and we were all stymied.

I got out of the store eventually and called my husband at work, who pretty much had the same reaction I did. "You bought a musical ice bucket?" I could hear the querulousness. Which then settled into recognition of my wifely brilliance. "Actually, that's kind of cool."

When I got it home, I wound it up again and listened carefully, figuring it out just as Doug got home:

Me: It's "The Bear Went Over the Mountain".

Doug: What? I'm not familiar with that song.

Me: [proceeds to sing the entirety of the song]

Doug: Honey, you do realize that's the same tune as "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow"?

Me: [silence] Well, yeah, it could be that too.

I also got a few other things, but I'll save that for another post. In the meantime, I want to pass the delight along to someone else so the musical ice bucket is up in the Etsy shop. It's a fun find for someone into the retro atomic kitsch, albeit in a rather nice a classy aluminum ice bucket package.

Oh, and I also accidentally poured half a bottle of beer on the puggle. He was alarmed and refused to come near me the rest of the night.

P.S. Wanna to partake in the gloriousness that is the musical ice bucket? Go here to see my video of it on Youtube.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Drive into the Virginia hinterlands for brandy. Come back with a pile of goodies. Status: That was a haul. In every sense.

Today we took a little road trip. The distillery we like has just released a new brandy, which is pretty much my favorite spirit so of course we had to try it. And, yes, it's good. Plus we were out of Catoctin's Roundstone Rye and I'm just not a fan of whiskey sours with Jack Daniels so a trip was definitely overdue.

But while out Purcellville way, I thought I'd stop at a couple of thrift stores just to change up my usual shopping habits. And let me tell you, this is a drive for me since it takes about an hour each way, but this time it was totally worth it. Check out all the stuff I got for my little Etsy store!

I can never resist wood bowls so when I saw this set of nine (one large serving bowl and eight individual bowls) I knew I had to have them. I only pick these up when it's clear that the bowl was carved from a single large log instead of a few glued-up boards so this one came home with me and has already been shined up with Kerf's. Aren't they purty? I think everyone with an ultra-contemporary kitchen needs at least one set of these out on a countertop somewhere.

Next were a few stainless steel trays, two with wood handles and one without. The two on the left are Danish (the handles might be rosewood on that one) and the one on the right is Kromex, made in the good ole US of A. It matches the ice bucket currently residing in my shop so of course that was going in the basket.

The find of the day was definitely this Culver cake stand. It's perfectly unblemished and I've never seen a Culver cake stand before. I've been a Culver admirer for a very long time. In fact, my grandmother had Culver barware when I was growing up and being allowed to sip a Shirley Temple out of one of those fancy gold-decorated glasses was pretty much always the highlight of any trip to Bama's house. If I'm being honest here, this may not make it into the shop.

Then I picked up this faux bois ivory colored small planter. It clearly has a mark, but it's illegible so it took me a while to figure out that it's Brush Pottery, which is associated with the much larger McCoy. These aren't exactly rare, but they're definitely 60s relics and most of the colorways are sort of taste-specific, if you know what I mean. Avocado green just isn't for everyone. This ivory color reminds me of a West Elm piece though. Tres chic.

Beyond that you can see my one slight mistake of the trip. Sadly, I didn't examine these closely enough and I had the puggle waiting in the car so I didn't want to take all day trying to research all this stuff on my cell phone like I normally would. As it happens, these are highly collectible Federal Glass Company Amoeba Boomerang pilsner glasses. There are 6 and I got them cheap, but anyone who knows the pattern will immediately note that these bear no gold amoeba outlines. They have just the aqua. Some enterprising housewife or thrift store employee probably scraped off whatever little bit of gold was left after years of washing. The aqua and the glass are in perfect shape though so I'll probably just price these to sell and move on. They're still quite adorbs for someone who is into them for their retro atomic beeriness and isn't too particular about obtaining an unadulterated specimen.

All in all though, not bad for a day's work.

Oh, and yesterday I picked up this little gem of a Heywood Wakefield Ashcraft step end table for a S-O-N-G as an antique store specializing in really really old junk. Good thing too since it's in pretty sorry shape. I'll try cleaning it, but it may require full restoration efforts. We'll just have to see how I feel about it once I get into the project.

Not a bad haul, eh?

Tuesday, October 9, 2012


Could the person who put the curse on me please take it off now?

Last Thursday I was making dog treats for my weekend shows and I needed to grate just a little bit more cheese for the dough. Instead of dirtying my food processor again after Doug had just washed it, I decided to use my box grater, which for me is never really a good call. Yep, I grated my finger. I have a nice little half moon shaped cut on the right hand.

Then, this morning I started the coffee pot only to find that an unnamed someone had forgotten to put water in it. So I reached for the glass carafe to put water in it and touched my palm to the glass instead of the handle, thereby burning the crap out of my hand. Part of my left hand is red and the other part is a little bit grey. That's probably not good, right?

Finally, I saw that a Craigslist seller had some leftover subway tile from a remodeling project in just about the amount we need to tile our bathroom floor. It was a super deal so I ran up to Potomac to pick it up. You might be thinking by now that my clumsiness created tile casualties. You would be wrong.

No, I picked up the highly unbalanced box and promptly fell over into a pile of mostly empty paint cans, landing mostly on my left knee. I swear it was like a Marx Brothers skit. And because I was trying not to drop the box of tile, I tried to get up and then promptly fell over again, this time flat on my rear.

So now the tile is down in the car and I am sitting on the sofa trying not to move or breathe or do anything else strenuous in order to protect my one remaining uninjured limb.

So, whoever you are, step away from the voodoo doll. I would really like to keep my right leg intact. Thanks.
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