Let’s Make Something

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Wow. It’s been awhile. I have to admit that this never ending winter has put me into a serious funk. It just makes me want to do nothing. Honestly I’ve been living. Laundry, work, bills, a few fun family and friend events but mostly just hibernating awaiting the spring thaw.

Well I am tired of waiting. It is time to snap out of it. Who is with me? I have a board on Pinterest called Homestead Kitchen. This is where I pin recipes for jams and pickles, how to dry herbs, make cheese and spice mixes, etc. Anything that goes above and beyond “home made” in my opinion. I have a few other boards with items like these (such as Sauces, Gravies & Toppings and I Scream for Ice Cream) in an effort to not only eat as fresh as possible but also to learn new techniques. This weekend I am pickling green beans. I am not even sure if I will like them but I am going to try.

Recently I have been trying my hand at French cuisine (so far so good) and tried my first infusion by making a delicious ginger cordial called Nim Nam:

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It is vodka infused with ginger root, lemon, vanilla and honey and it tastes just as good as it sounds. I was very happy with it. Adding an ounce to sparkling water makes for very grown up ginger ale. Original recipe and post found HERE. I love the Bojon Gourmet and look forward to new posts. Check out the extensive list of recipes HERE.

So here is to getting out of the funk and making something. Anything.

PS – also in the works – planning the summer bingo with the fab theme of Ship Wrecked. Ideas welcome!


Better Late, Right?

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Sooooo . . . . this post was supposed to go up on the 14th. At least it is still February. Ahem.

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My anniversary was on February 17th. We’ve been married for seven years. Since Valentine’s Day was on a Friday we decided to have our celebration then. We started with some lovely coffee and treats.

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We don’t usually do a big thing for either but since it was a weekend and I’d been making Valentines recently I was kind of in the mood.

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I love how Louie’s Valentine turned out. It is HUGE. That box is one of those photo boxes from the craft store.

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I also made one of those “52 Things I Love About You” card books that are all over Pinterest. Want some wine with that cheese? Hmm?  I made a lot of them funny (like his terrible Sean Connery impersonation) so we had a good time reading through them.

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Also seen on Pinterest were these little card men. So cute. The one in the back was made with a mini deck and I like him better than the full size. I will hang them on my Christmas tree going forward.

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And what is a celebration without bubbly? We enjoyed cava with Creme Yvette. It was yummy and also pink so win-win. I made the chocolate dipped strawberries. I always forget how simple they are to make. I use one of those mini crock pots to melt the chocolate chips which makes it even easier. Chocolate covered strawberries for every event, yeah!

So it was a lovely (though cold) weekend and a total blast to feel fancy and decadent. We also enjoyed a lovely dinner at our fave Italian place (only a short 3 block walk) and perhaps a few more glasses of bubbly. ;)

Cheers ~ Rebecca


Time keeps on slipping . . .

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I’ve gotten way behind this last week or so but I have quite a bit to share as far as thirty crafty goodness goes. I’ll post soon about the fun Valentine I made for my husband and how we spent our anniversary. I also finished a long forgotten project (it only took me 4 years) and tried a few new recipes. Oh and I did something with those kumquats.

And since we can’t have a pictureless post, here’s my desperately in need of a bath Boozehound Kaiser Peanut:

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Ciao for now  . . .


Valentines for Veterans

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My dear friend Nina put the call out for friends to make or buy Valentines for a Veterans retirement home near her Air Force Base. She and fellow coworkers had organized a Christmas gift drive and it was a heart melter for everyone involved. So while I was cleaning out the old craft dungeon I sorted out supplies in your typical red, pink and white and got to work.

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I loved making these. Not only would they brighten the day of someone who selflessly served our country but it brightened my day as well.

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It was fun to just play with the different papers and embellishments.

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To create just for the sake of doing something nice and not over worrying how it was going to turn out.

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And you know what? I think they turned out great. The one above is made with some of my very sacred vintage wrapping paper and might be my favorite.

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I forgot how much fun it is to fold paper in half and cut out hearts. Thank you, Nina, for organizing this and for letting me send and receive a little joy. Happy Valentines Day.

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What to do with Kumquats

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Luis and I like to try new things. This week it was kumquats. Now I’ve seen them but never tried them before. Have you? They are kind of pretty.

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And they smell divine. But they are very very tart. Luis made me a Kin Kan sour which is muddled kumquats, gin, St. Germain and simple syrup (though it was hardly simple as we had some kind of schmancy syrup because that’s how we roll. More on Luis and his Sous Vide adventures later.) It was good and refreshing like the typical gin and citrus (read juice) drinks I like. It was sour on the finish though the St. Germain and simple syrup did balance it out. I liked it but wouldn’t go out of my way to have it. So that is how we used two of the kumquats. Now what?

Enter Pinterest:

Kumquat Marmalade with Star Anise & Cinnamon

Kumquat, Lentil & Chickpea Tagine 

Candied Kumquats & Kumquat Syrup (you could totally put this in gin just sayin . . )

Kumquat Tart

Kumquat Cardamom Cakes

Moral of the story? It’s fun to say kumquat. But seriously, I’m leaning towards the marmalade. What would you try?


Pintested: Mediterranean Roasted Chicken Breasts w/ Tomatoes & Cannelini Beans

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I am a fan of a casserole. I like putting it all in a dish, popping it in the oven and having a full meal come out at the end. I think this is also why I like baking. A lot of work in the beginning and then a lot of sitting around waiting for it to be done.

One of my favorite go to boards on Pinterest is my One Dish Wonders board. This is where I pin casseroles as well as pasta dishes and “bakes.” Luis and I try not to eat any processed food so most traditional casserole dishes don’t appeal to me. So many have those canned “cream of” soups or call for canned veggies. I try to be as natural as possible though I did buy canned beans for this recipe instead of soaking beans overnight.

Mediterranean Roasted Chicken Breasts w/Tomatoes & Cannelini Beans

Mediterranean Roasted Chicken Breasts w/ Tomatoes & Cannelini Beans by thecafesucrefarine: Simple, make-ahead, spectacular.  #Chicken #Mediterranean #Easy #Make_Ahead

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So yes, the photo got me on this one. Such lovely styling and I would love to have a baking dish and board like that in my own kitchen. But I also liked that it contained ingredients that we often have on hand. I don’t love chicken breast. It gets so dry so easily. So when I do buy it I always buy it on the bone. This recipe suggests cutting it from the bone before baking but I did not. They say the reasoning is for a neater serving experience but it was just us and well, ain’t nobody got time for that.

Basically you create a spice oil, rub your chicken with it, brown said chicken and then toss it in a roasting dish with beans, tomatoes and lemons that have also been doused in the spice oil. Then you create a yummy avocado yogurt sauce while it is baking away.

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It really is lovely and not too terribly expensive if you keep a ridiculous spice cabinet like we do. We had all of the spices (except for the fresh cilantro) already on hand. I will say that the spice oil (and the yogurt sauce) really make this dish. The flavors are prefect with the chicken and the different textures of the tomatoes and beans.

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And I’m no food stylist (is that a real job?) but I think it looks pretty darn appetizing if I do say so myself. This is a definite keeper. I have written it down in my personal recipe book and believe me, that doesn’t happen often.

Find the post with recipe at Cafe Sucre Farine HERE and the pin HERE.

Bon Appetit!


The Art of Cheese

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I have the worst cabin fever. Our car was buried under a huge snow drift (thank you, city of New York garbage plows) so Luis and I stayed in most of the weekend. Again. We did grab dinner at a local place Friday night but it was so bitter cold even the short walk home was miserable. So we decided to hunker down, watch movies and eat some cheese.

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I love putting together a good cheese plate. It feels more like a work of art than an appetizer. This is what I like to include:

Cheese (duh) – usually small amounts of three different kinds. The plate above has Boursin, cheddar with pepper corns and a jalapeno Muenster.

Meat – or the fancier “charcuterie” usually at least some kind of salami, sopressata or other cured meat. The plate above has hard salami (halved and folded) and shaved rosemary ham

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“Nibbles” – always olives (specifically picholine) and usually halved grape tomatoes and capers topped off with a little olive oil and herbs. For a sweeter nibble I like walnuts and golden raisins drizzled in honey. Sweet gerkins are also nice or any other kind of pickle, particularly half sour dills. I also like in season fruit such as berries, figs and apple slices.

Spreads – depending on the cheese I like fig, St. Dalfour Wild Blueberry Blueberry and really any kind of nice jam or preserves. Mustards work well, too, my favorite being Woeber’s champagne dill.

Breads & Crackers – French bread is always nice as well as any type of cracker you prefer. I like Breton Original Wheat personally.

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I try to match up flavors. In the plate above that white cheese on the left is buratta so the olives and tomatoes are joined by fresh basil and dried oregano with olive oil. The meats are hard salami and cured chorizo and that’s olive bread there on the bottom right. But sometimes I just put together whatever is on hand which is usually whatever was on sale at the cheese store or my grocer.

Needless to say we’ll be celebrating Super Bowl with a fancy cheese plate. Oh and pulled pork tacos and hot dogs. I suppose we can’t be fancy ALL of the time. :)


Queen of Tarts

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The night of the blizzard this week(Snowmageddon Snowpocalypse Killer Snow Whatever) Luis came home with a new tart pan from Crate and Barrel and bag full of butter and cream cheese. So . . . we made a fruit tart. Now I have never made one before. Have you? We are fans of what we call the “bobo cart” in the produce section of our grocery store. This is where they stick the past their prime fruits and veggies and charge around a dollar a pack. Since we shop often for fresh foods we usually grab a few things to use right away. This week we grabbed a huge pack of strawberries and blueberries. These are what inspired Louie to venture out for tart fixings in the middle of a snow storm.

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Looks pretty good right?? I know. My arm still hurts from patting myself on the back. We used this recipe from Food Network and Paula Deen. And before we start counting the amount of butter you really can’t make a shortbread crust without it. The only thing we changed was substituting freshly made limeade for the concentrate it calls for in the recipe. Can you guess what else we got a ton of on the bobo cart this week? We had to up the cornstarch to 2 tablespoons to get the right gel consistency but it worked out fine.

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It came together a lot easier than I expected. You put the flour, powdered sugar and cut up butter into a food processor and pulse. It seriously did not look a thing like the “ball” of dough the recipe said we would have. But I started kneading it and it came together nicely.

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I had made some from scratch whipped cream the day before and it held up just fine over night in the fridge to compliment the tart. It tastes like it came from the bakery. Is that a compliment? It should be. It was pretty darn good.

And if the pix of the tart aren’t sweet enough, how about a gratuitous cute doggie pic:

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Stay warm and sleep well.

Rebecca

 


Sweet Nectar

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In my last post I showed the super cute pom pom cocktail stirs I made for our annual Ladies Who Lounge Christmas Craft Party and also a bit about my love for craft cocktails. I also like wine (dry, white and crisp) and French Aperitif wines, especially Lillet Blanc.

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My favorite way to enjoy Lillet is over an ice block with a slice of orange. In the drink above we used blood orange but regular navel oranges are nice, too. I also like it with a bit of lime, particularly in the summer. It is crisp and slightly sweet with a citrus bite. Most friends who share my taste in white wine tend to enjoy it. Lillet is also a fabulous cocktail mixer. It plays a big role in my most favorite cocktail, The French Blond.

Last weekend Louie made up a cocktail just for me. We were out of Lillet so he improvised.

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The St. Marta

1 1/2 oz Cocchi Americano 

1 1/2 oz Bombay Sapphire Gin

1 1/2 oz freshly squeezed blood orange juice

Add ice to cocktail shaker. Add all ingredients. Shake vigorously for 5 to 10 seconds. Strain into chilled coupe.

It was delicious! Cocchi Americano is quite similar to Lillet Blanc. In fact, it is much closer to the Kina Lillet of old and has a bit more of a bite to it and less of a sweet finish. It was a great offset to the sweetness of the blood orange juice. With that in mind I do not think you should substitute the Cocchi here, not even for Lillet Blanc. I like Bombay Sapphire as it is very herbal and aromatic so if substituting please keep that in mind. Taking out the blood orange makes this a completely different drink as well.

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We named it the St. Marta after this statuette I found at the flea last year for $1. Her cloak is a very similar color to our cocktail. Learn about St. Marta of Tarascon HERE. Cheers!

Rebecca


Easy Pom Pom Drink Stirs

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If you follow me on Pinterest (Ahem, you can do that HERE by the way) you probably think I’m a booze hound. Especially if you follow my Libations Board. Craft cocktails are all the rage these days and my husband is pretty fond of them. It’s kind of nice that he finally has a hobby that doesn’t revolve around XBox or whey protein. He creates cocktails the way I sometimes try knitting patterns, just to see if he can do it. For me this leads to multitudes of WIPs (Works In Progress) and UFOs (UnFinished Objects.) With cocktails you can just toss the bad results without too much guilt. In reality, I tend to be more of a collector of these craft cocktail recipes as we don’t end up trying very many of them. Louie has his own collection of cocktail books that he works from and since he declared 2014 “the year of less technology” he has been turning to them more often than my board.

When I throw parties I usually like to include a signature cocktail. Most often this consists of something mixed with sparkling wine. For our annual Christmas Craft Party last year we had a Cava* bar. You could create several cocktails but adding juices. Add orange juice and you have a Mimosa, add Cranberry juice and you have a Poinsettia. Add Pomegranate juice and you have a Holly Berry. (We made up that last one.) We set up champagne flutes with gold sugar rims and these pom pom drink stirs I made.

I loved the effect. So simple and easy.

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I used wooden skewers I found in at the thrift for 99 cents (new in the package) and determined the correct length by using a champagne flute as a guide. I then cut my skewers with some old scissors and hot glued tinsel pom poms to one end. They held up pretty well so we will be able to use them again for another event.

Louie’s love of the craft cocktail has led us to start making over our basement into a lounge. It’s a nice finished space but is mostly full of crap we don’t need and laundry. So it’s good that we will start using it for living and I’m already enjoying the decorating aspect but more on that later. Next time I’ll share some of my favorite cocktails.

* – I use Jaume Serra Cristalino Cava which is a steal at my wine store at $7 a bottle. It’s crisp, dry and delicious. It is a great mixer but also very good on it’s own if you like a brut sparkling wine.