Author Archives: Lucky Rhino

Report From the Beach House

I kid, I kid (kinda).  We were cooking at a point for 25 people.  Why vacation small? I say go big or go home.  Except then we did go home, so I guess that really doesn’t work here, does it?

Anyhoo, but lots and lots of cousins of different generations had tons of fun.

So what did we eat?   We did these Honey Teriyaki Chicken Legs from Skinnytaste.  Always a hit. But with a large crowd we had to supplement the 25 chicken legs with 38 tacos. 38 TACOS. Yep, you read that right.

Another night we made these Steak and Brie Sandwiches with Chimichurri Sauce from Martha Stewart:

Sorry about the photo.  While this rental house is extremely well stocked for everyday living, it is less so for Instagram-worthy food photos. They didn’t have a drawer of white marble slabs, distressed wood or rumply farmhouse tea towels!

Had plans for another big dish but when the evening came, everyone was tired and over-sunned and a big meal just wasn’t doing it for me.  So we did this DIY BLT bar.

Roasted all the bacon in the ovens.  Also had choice of adding avocado or Israeli Salad (background photo bombers).  Hit the spot.  Of course, that meant the 7 pound pork shoulder had to ride home with us. And the pork should didn’t have a iPad so he whined the whole way.

What do you do besides swim and eat?  Well, games, coloring, puzzles and drinks!

Brought some Aperol with me and made a sparkling Aperol Rosé Spritzer:

WHAT YOU NEED
1 cup chilled pineapple passion fruit juice (though you could sub in just pineapple or maybe a little grapefruit juice – whatever moves you)
1/4 cup Aperol
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
4-5 tsp sugar
1 bottle chilled sparkling rosé
lime wedges

WHAT YOU DO
Stir first 4 ingredients together until the sugar dissolves.  Add in the sparkling rosé.  Stir and then serve over ice with a lime wedge.

Also did this Lillet Rose Spring Cocktail again from Grand Maester Stewart.

I was fresh out of edible flowers however, so lime slice it is!

If you’ve got tomatoes coming in from your garden or a basil plant threatening all the other herbs out there, I’d highly suggest a riff on this Tomato Garlic Toast With Whipped Basil Feta from How Sweet It Is.  I say riff because I didn’t exactly make this because I’m not a feta fan.  I KNOW, then why am I reading recipes about feta? Because then, maybe when you change the cheese its just as delicious as the main recipe would be with feta if you were the kind of person that liked feta. FIGHT ME!

Basically, instead of feta I subbed in Ricotta Salata (not the stuff you use for lasagna, the harder ricotta by the other cheeses).  And I added one more ounce of cream cheese and a very full 1/4 cup chopped basil.  Otherwise follow Jessica’s directions. But taste before you salt, because ricotta salata is really salty.  Salata=salt (free Italian lesson – you’re welcome).  I used zero additional salt.

Try to lean back and enjoy the rest of your Sunday as much as D enjoys his sand bed.

Have a great week everyone!

My Big Fat Greek Father’s Day

No, we’re not Greek, but I was in a Mediterranean kind of mood.

We had Fathers Day yesterday because one of my nieces is on her way to Loras Sports Camp today. But not before some Father’s Day corn shuckin’

Made Greek Flank Steak from How Sweet it Is. Her platter was the inspiration for the whole meal.

But also made Slow Cooker Greek Pork from Pinch of Yum.  This was seriously easy and good. The only thing I did differently was add about 1/2 cup chicken broth and cooked on High 6 hours then shredded it and left in on Low for another hour.

Made a tomato cucumber salad using Dak’s Spices no-salt Super Greek seasoning. They make a bunch of salt-free seasonings that are very yummy. Not an ad, I just like these seasonings for when one needs to watch salt intake (thanks swollen ankle!!).

Greek Tomato Cucumber Salad

WHAT YOU NEED
1 cucumber seeded and diced
1 container grape tomatoes, chopped
1/2 red onion, finely diced
1/4 cup crumble feta cheese
1/4 flat leaf parsley, chopped
3 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 TBSP red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp Dak’s Super Greek seasoning (or you could increase oregano and add 1/2 tsp each of dill, dried garlic, and dried onion)
1 clove garlic, minced

WHAT YOU DO
Place the vegetables in a bowl. Combine dressing ingredients (oil to garlic) in jar and shake until emulsified. Pour dressing over veggies and toss. Add the feta and parsley and toss again.

Then assemble the platter.  Place the meat on platter and add whatever fixings you want.  I added Skordalia, a homemade Tzatziki sauce, black olives, pita halves, dried apricots, whatever floats your boat. Not pictured, corn on the cob, jello and, sigh, buttered noodles.

Here’s hoping you have a silly

exciting

 

and ultimately relaxing Father’s Day, just like these guys.

Happy Father’s Day everyone! Have a great week.

I Hate You Ham

Per my last post, I should have started the ham last week.  How can a 10 pound, spiral sliced, pre-cooked ham take over 4 hours to get to a safe temperature?  Why did it make me not only uncover, but take apart, spread out in the roasting pan, up the oven temp twice just so we could eat by 5.  IT WENT IN THE OVEN AT 12:30!!!

Ugh, stupid ham. So of course Guitar Boy had seconds.

But everything else was good. Went with the Spinach Artichoke Stuffing mentioned in the last post, Carrot Slaw from Once Upon a Chef, asparagus, lots of fruit, and the hit of the day, made by my mother, was Aunt Carol Wetter’s Cheez Whiz Scalloped Potatoes. Yep, you read that right. Cheez Whiz is the secret ingredient.

There was an epic egg hunt. Make them hard to find, they said. Challenge accepted.

And to answer your question, why yes, that is a Death Star bird feeder. #nerdfoiles

It was so hard to find these eggs that they couldn’t even take a group cousins picture without one half of all participants closing their eyes.  But we did get one with GG on her 103rd Easter!

Justifying my large light up bunny purchase at Homegoods were the table favors – white and gold bunnies!!

Guess which favor was Baby D’s?

When GG used to host Easter, she always bought you a ceramic bunny or egg and wrote the year on it, so my favors this year were an homage to GG.  Here’s some of the collection:

You may have seen on Instagram, but my sister sent me a picture of a “joke” centerpiece saying “you should do this”.  Additional challenge accepted!

 

So after all that Cheez Whiz goodness, we need to lighten it up tonight with grilled halibut with purchased pineapple salsa.  As a side, I made Skinnytaste’s Yellow Rice.  Perfect with the fish, I highly recommend it (minus cilantro of course because, blech).  Her cooking method made perfect fluffy rice and I made my own spice blend (minus coriander because CORIANDER IS CILANTRO!). And I didn’t have any.

We had beautiful weather for Easter weekend but not to worry, it will be 40 degrees again by Thursday. That doesn’t mean I didn’t just buy clearance garden markers at Target and started planning. And place cards for next Easter. And gold plastic cutlery. Stupid dollar section.

Have a great week everyone!

Easter Guinea Pigs

No, not actual guinea pigs for Easter dinner, how horrific!  We were just pig sittin’ (and yes, when you are pig sittin’, you don’t use the second g). But I’m talking about the humans who tested my practice Easter dishes. Though the thought did scare the April Fool’s Day donuts!

So for one of the practice Easters, I made up my own ham glaze with 1 10 ounce jar peach preserves and 1 tablespoon each brown sugar and dijon mustard. Now this was a tiny spiral ham for only 5 people and it still took approximately a jillion hours to get to the safe internal temperature.  The glaze was great, but I think I’m gonna start the Easter ham this Thursday.

I might have accidentally bought this bunny with a light up egg. Ok, two. But, you’ll see come actual Easter, there is….a theme! (name that movie).

I made Cooking Light’s Artichoke and Spinach STUFFING. Yes, that’s right, stuffing. Because any reasonable 10 year old would know that if this were called a strata, it would be disgusting. And heaven forbid if one called it bread pudding, then it would be straight-up G-ROSS. But when it is a stuffing, well then, we’re in familiar territory. And it was delightful.

The only thing I did differently was used a mix of Gruyere and Fontina cheeses because that’s what I had handy. And I used canned artichokes hearts and just chopped them up a little, which I would definitely suggest.

Ok, let’s talk about this amazing simple Asparagus and Arugula Salad, also from Cooking Light.  Just greens (I used Spring mix), asparagus and hard boiled egg.

 

I grated one egg over the salad, tossed, and then grated another one. Also added 1/2 teaspoon mustard to the dressing. Don’t be tempted to add more to the dressing, I had thought about dill but then was very glad I didn’t add it. It is luscious as is.

Kevin doesn’t like asparagus so he picked it out, but still liked the salad.  I guess I could make it with other green vegetables instead like peas (Kevin – Nope), pea pods (Kevin – Nope), broccoli (Kevin – Nope).  But why mess with a classic?

Does anyone want a cocktail?  Will be making the Porch Punch from Imbibe Magazine though I cut the proportions down significantly from the 21 cups of tea and 2 bottles of bourbon! How many people does Imbibe Magazine’s porch hold?

 

Porch Punch

WHAT YOU NEED
5 cups boiling water
3 Earl Grey tea bags
1 mint tea bag
1 cup sugar
.25 ounces orange bitters
.125 ounces orange blossom water
juice of one lime
lemon and lime slices

WHAT YOU DO
Put the sugar and tea bags in the boiling water and stir to dissolve sugar. Steep the tea about 7 minutes then strain into a pitcher and cool.  When cool, add the bitters, orange water and lime juice. Refrigerate until ready.  Serve with lemon and lime slices over ice.  If you had fresh mint, that would be a lovely garnish, but don’t go out and get it just for this.

When buying the boys Easter shirts at TJ Maxx I might have also accidentally purchased these rose gold sandals.

See also: I have a problem.

That’s it, thanks to all the human guinea pigs who endured the recipe testing. See you at actual Easter for my themed tablescape. It justifies the Homegoods problem, trust me!

Have a great week everyone!

January, We Hardly Knew Ye

How did January go by so fast? Where does the time go? Where is the Fitbit charging cord (seriously, if anyone knows…).

Not a ton of events hosted during this bleak month. We did have one momentous occasion. Guitar Boy entered the realm of teenager.

Neither Hallmark nor Target carries violent video game cake toppers, you have to make your own. Weird.

January definitely is for comfort food. So it was a big soup month around here. I made Smitten Kitchen’s Ultimate Chicken Soup.

I made Creamy Tomato Tortellini Soup from Two Peas and Their Pod.

With Italian Grilled Cheese from Stanley Tucci’s cookbook.

Basically it is fresh mozzarella sliced thin on Italian bread, dipped in a slightly beaten egg and grilled.  I rubbed the bread with a cut garlic clove and added a pinch of salt to the egg mixture. It was gooey and good, but it needed a little somethin’ somethin’. If I did it again, at MBork’s suggestion I would add grated parmesan to the egg dip to give it a frico type of texture.  Or I might make it two cheese with Fontina or another strong but melty cheese. But hey, grilled cheese, no complaining!

Made the easiest Stovetop Mac and Cheese from The Food Lab at Serious Eats.

This was really good. And it heats up well the next day. The only tip I’d offer is don’t add the salt until you taste it. Cheese varies in saltiness. PS, that’s in a clear glass bowl. I don’t just put piles of mac-n-cheese directly on the table. Well, not often.

Drummer Boy advanced to the Battle of the Books semi-finals. They read 7 books in two months. They didn’t win the whole thing but not for lack of preparation. So proud.

Taking a step away from clothespin-on-the-aorta type of recipes, I also made this Detox Salad from Gimme Some Oven.

I didn’t have miso though so I substituted with this Ginger Sesame Dressing from Epicurious. Delicious. Though if you are going to store it in the refrigerator for a day, don’t add the almonds. They get super soggy.

So what food is going to the Superbowly party today? Oh, wait no, it’s Superbowl LI.  My bad.

You know how you are walking through Trader Joe’s and they are handing out samples of food and drink. Fatefully one day I was walking through and they had taken their Pub Cheese and warmed it. Just warmed it. And then put it on pretzel bread. And then handed it to me. And then I ate it. And then my whole family ate it. And now Imma gonna eat it again.

Seriously, all you do is warm it up for 30 seconds or so in the microwave and put it over a warmer and slice the bread. As Ina would say, “how easy is that?”.  Also bringing the always popular and totally low calorie Muffins That Taste Like Donuts from Tasty Kitchen.

And my 90’s classic – Crab Dip.

Old School Crab Dip

WHAT YOU NEED
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sour cream
1 TBSP mayonnaise
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
2 cloves of garlic, finely minced (or use 2 cubes of Trader Joe’s crushed, frozen garlic. I heart you Trader Joe’s!)
Hearty pinches of kosher salt and a grind of black pepper
3 green onions minced or 2 TBSP of finely minced white onion
6 oz crab meat (canned or refrigerated, but fully cooked)

WHAT YOU DO
Combine the everything except the onion and crab meat in a bowl. Blend with a hand mixer until smooth. Stir in the crab meat and onion with a rubber spatula until fully combined. Put it into serving bowl, cover and chill at least an hour.

And so we’re off to enjoy the commercials big game. Have a great week everyone!

 

For Auld Lang Syne, For Sure

Happy 2017 everyone. I’ve de-Christmased the house in preparation for an organizing binge. More on that later.

Was going to make a bunch of appetizers for New Year’s Eve, but apparently while I was sleeping there was a run on mini-pita breads and red pepper jelly so Imma gonna just bookmark this recipe for chicken salad pitas right here for next time.

Did make these tidbits though.  Easy and can be served warm or at room temperature.

Beef Tenderloin Crostini with Caramelized Onions and Horseradish Cream Sauce

WHAT YOU NEED
For the beef:
2-3 lb. beef tenderloin roast
2 tsp kosher salt
1 TBSP extra virgin olive oil

For the onions:
1 medium size yellow onion
1 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
1 TBSP unsalted butter
pinch of salt, pepper and cayenne pepper

For the cream sauce:
1/2 cup lite sour cream
1 TBSP prepared horseradish
1 TBSP pink peppercorns, crushed or ground

1 long French baguette, sliced into thin rounds.

WHAT YOU DO
The day before you cook it, place beef on a rack on cookie sheet. Coat the beef with the salt and place uncovered in a refrigerator overnight (gotta trust me here).

The next day, take beef out of refrigerator about 1 hour before you are ready to cook.  Heat oven to 425ºF. Rub beef with the 1 TBSP of olive oil and place back on the rack on cookie sheet. Roast about 30 minutes or until the meat temperature reaches 135ºF (that’s my version of medium rare).  Remove from oven and let rest.

While the beef roasts, prepare onions.  Slice onion into thin slices.  Melt butter and oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and sauté for about 10 minutes. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until onions are fully caramelized, about 20 more minutes.

Reduce oven temperature to 350ºF. Place slices of baguette on a different baking sheet and toast rounds for about 10-15 minutes.

Combine sour cream, horseradish and a pinch of the ground pepper in a small bowl and refrigerate until needed.

When ready to assemble, thinly slice the beef (an electric knife is a useful thing here). Place a smidge of onions on each toast, top with a slice of beef, a dollop of the cream and sprinkle with some ground pink pepper.  If you had fresh parsley around, you could also chop that finely and sprinkle on for some color.

Here’s a quick recap of Plaid Christmases.

Kids table

Blurry grown-up table

The gang from Plaid Christmas One

Ka-Pow!

Made a new cocktail that was a hit, even with the Manhattan die hards. #diehardisachristmasmovie.  It’s call Santa’s Little Helper from blogger Aunt Peaches.

All you do is soak two cinnamon sticks and a bunch of whole cranberries in good bourbon overnight. Note – Aunt Peaches uses cloves. I’m not a fan, I think they overpower. Make your own call, I’m not the boss of you!  The next day, fill a glass with ice.  Pour in three parts infused bourbon, one part triple sec, and fill the glass with Sprite or even diet Sierra Mist. Garnish with the cranberries from the bourbon.

Onward folks.  We saw 2016 off in style, at the Harrison’s last Illinois-based NYE bash before they take the party back to the land of Oz.

There were lots of laughs and many tears.  We will miss these people with all our hearts.

But not their Vegemite.

A cup o’ kindness to you all and best wishes for a happy and healthy 2017.

 

It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like The Middle of February

Seriously, 11 degrees below zero in the middle of December?  Two major snowstorms? Is the universe trying to stop Plaid Christmas?!  Because nothing stops Plaid Christmas. Nothing!

All right, well, the weather did move the first Plaid Christmas back by a week. But I’ll give you the recipes now because now next week I’m doing two Plaid Christmases (Christmasi??) in two days. So not likely going to feel like recipe writing. And thanks to The Block

we did an impromptu practice Plaid Christmas last night when the original got pushed back.

However, moving Plaid Christmas One closer to Plaid Christmas Two allowed me to go to a cookie exchange yesterday.

Twas a bittersweet cookie exchange though to honor our dear friends, the Harrisons, who are moving back to Australia. The Block will be all the less kind, funny and joyful without them. *stupid computer got something in my eyes again*

For the exchange I made these Brown Butter Sugar Cookies from Sally’s Baking Addiction.

We tried multiple toppings and all agreed sanding sugar was a better topping than sprinkles. But everyone loved them, even Drummer Boy, who is not a big cookie eater.

However, those cookies were incorrectly attributed by me on Instagram to What’s Gaby Cooking. So to make up for it, I made her Molasses Cookies. Couldn’t be easier.  Used a scant two tablespoon cookie scoop and cooked 2 minutes longer than the recipe called for.

As a gift for the hostess and a snack for Plaid Christmas (one cannot exist on Chex Mix alone. JK – yes you can) I made these Union Square Cafe Nuts via Smitten Kitchen.  Only thing I did different is reduced the cayenne pepper a little. Glad I did, they still have heat at the end, but not overwhelming.

On to the meal. Totally pulled a Rachel from Friends – a layer of jelly, a layer of ground beef – when making GF meatballs and marinara sauce simultaneously.  I started the meatballs, paused probably to tell the cat to get off the table, then looked up a the meatball recipe and continued. That is, until I got to the “add a whole can of tomatoes”. That seemed wrong. Yep, was following the marinara recipe in the middle of the meatball recipe.

I soldiered on though, and what a happy accident indeed. So I present to you:

Accidental Gluten Free Meatballs

WHAT YOU NEED
1 lb. ground beef
1/3 heaping cup of gluten free panko crumbs
scant 1/4 cup of milk (I actually used a little less)
1/2 TBSP dried parsley
1/8 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp ground pepper
1/4 tsp kosher salt
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
3 TBSP finely minced onion
1 egg
2 TBSP olive oil

WHAT YOU DO
Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Mix all ingredients except olive oil in a large bowl with your hands until fully incorporated. Shape in to balls with about 2-3 tablespoons of meat per meatball. Heat oil in a skillet and add meatballs. Brown, turning very gently, until browned all over.  Place meatballs on a greased baking pan and cook until done, about 15-20 minutes. These can be chilled and reheated in the sauce.

Plaid Christmas will include Skinnytaste’s Crockpot Bolognese Sauce and Two Peas and Their Pod’s Slow Cooker Marinara.  That way we take care of the meat eaters, the vegetarians, the gluten free crowd and the butter noodles crowd. Trying a new GF pasta, I’ll let you know how it goes.

Will also be making the world’s easiest Rosemary Roast Salmon that I’ve talked about before. The only thing I do differently is mix olive oil with dijon mustard and pinch of chopped rosemary and rub it over the salmon before putting the lemons on. It’s a hit every time and can be prepped ahead and kept in the fridge.  Thanks to The Block for taking care of yesterday’s salmon with gusto

all the while not being allowed in the front room or dining room because I had already set the tables before Plaid Christmas was moved. So it was a cozy practice Plaid Christmas.

In between all these festivities, we had one of the best School of Rock shows to date. Drummer Boy, Guitar Boy and friend and neighbor Singer Girl were all in the Motown band together and they killed it.

See Kevin’s Facebook account for some video footage if you are interested. Or I can send you some, I only have like 40GB of video though #proud parent.

I would be remiss in all my talk about Plaid Christmas – which, by the way, I’ve been planning for 4 years because that’s the McNamara Christmas rotation – if I did not link to one of the funniest annual features on the internet.  The 2016 Hater’s Guide to The Williams-Sonoma Catalog.  Even though it is a little close to home this year (ok I know he’s making fun of me), it still is one of my favorite reads. Not safe for delicate eyes though.

May Santa bring you all a Murder Vacuum.   Have a great holiday everyone.

 

Dry Rub Dry Run

They say practice makes perfect.  I don’t know about that, but people do seem to enjoy the practice efforts.
20161106_124906_resizedThe Kiddie Cocktails do make it go down a little easier, if ya know what I’m sayin’

First up, the turkey.  I made this Cranberry Dry Rub from Foodie with Family. The only snafu was I could not find freeze dried cranberries anywhere. So I had to oven-dry Craisins as I mentioned in a prior post. Nonetheless, I used Foodie with Family’s Turkey recipe, replacing sweet potatoes with regular and used butter instead of olive oil. Turned out great.

20161106_121008_resizedThe potatoes underneath were just so-so. But not to fear, made Smitten Kitchen’s Sweet Potato Roast. Even people who don’t like sweet potatoes liked these.

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Made Pioneer Woman’s Beautiful Brussel Sprouts. Sorry PW, it’s not you, it’s me. Just not a huge sprout fan.

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And now this.

20161106_124145_resizedHey, it is practice after all. I might add, this was the only dish completely polished off.

We finished with Smitten Kitchen’s Pear, Cranberry and Gingersnap Crumble with vanilla ice cream. It was delicious.

20161106_140441_resizedI found some gluten free gingersnaps yesterday at Whole Foods. Might try this again for McNamara Christmas. Which is what I’m practicing for today!

That’s right, I have 6 events in 45 days here. So there’s a lot of list-making and practicing coming up.  For now,  I think I’ll practice with some sangria.

sangria

And leave you with this, from our event last night at the Museum of Science and Industry. I hope science can fix whatever is wrong with Guitar Boy’s neck.

dsc_0312Have a great week and a safe and warm Thanksgiving everyone.

October Surprises

This has been a cooking marathon.  Contests, a bake sale for charity, Halloween 1, 2 and 3. I’m exhausted. What’s that? I need to start planning Thanksgiving. After I nap.

First, Soup-A-Palooza. A refined competition between members of the Legal Department where each day, for THREE WEEKS, a person brings in a homemade soup for everyone to eat. And then we select a tribute for each soup and have them fight to the death. Well not exactly, we vote. My soup tied in my week. I will leave you in suspense as to whether I accept the results of the upcoming tie-breaking election.

I made Smitten Kitchen’s Cream of Tomato Soup.  The only thing I did differently is reduced brandy to 1 TBSP and used vegetable stock to make it vegetarian. Honestly, I’ve done it both ways and it was better with the vegetable stock.  Also, to make enough for the whole department, I had to make four batches. I don’t need no stinkin’ batches (name the movie).

soup

On the side were cheesy croutons and basil. Just toss bread cubes with olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic powder and bake at 375 until crispy (about 10-15 minutes) and then finely grate some white cheddar and gruyere cheese over the warm croutons.

Then we had the first Halloween outing for Al’s 8th birthday.  Here’s the crew

kids

I made S’mores Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars from How Sweet Eats and Pumpkin Bread in the Williams & Sonoma Fall Cakelet Pan.

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Click the How Sweet Eats link for the s’mores cookies, but here’s my super secret pumpkin bread recipe. Ready?

52484-pumpkin-bread-mix450

Yep. I’ve roasted and pureed and seasoned pumpkin to make bread. To which I get “yuck”. But Trader Joe’s mix – beloved. See, even I give up sometimes.

Next up was the charity bake sale at work for Bright Pink.  Made more pumpkin bread and these Browniest Cookies from Smitten Kitchen.

cookies

bakesale

We raised $2,700 for breast cancer research. Here’s the spread. This Legal department can bake!bakesale

Next up was Halloween 2 – Pizza Night (you thought I was going to say “the return of Michael Myers”. Nope, just pizza night).

Lt. Dan was a creepy clown before creepy clowns were cool.

dsc_0268

The Mother of Dragons stopped by as well as cats and sports fans.

dsc_0270

And Ron Swanson.

dsc_0274The quote on the cup is “You have accidentally given me the food my food eats”, one of our favorites. No disrespect Salad!   The gang was ready for some drinks and spooky treats from Mbork.

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treats

And Jen from Pastries So Tasty made these awesome cakes.

cakes

I made this smoked salmon terrine.

salmonapp

Smoked Salmon Terrine
inspired by this recipe from Bon Appetit

WHAT YOU NEED
8 oz nova lox
6 oz cream cheese
4 oz goat cheese
2 tsp lemon zest
1 TBSP horseradish
2 radishes finely minced
1/2 cup finely minced red onion
1/4 cup chopped fresh dill

WHAT YOU DO
Line a six inch diameter ramekin (or any other flat sided dish or cake mold) with plastic wrap bringing it up the sides.  Blend the cream cheese, goat cheese, lemon zest and horeseradish with a hand mixer until smooth.  In another bowl mix the onions and radishes.   Flake the lox with a fork and make an even layer on the bottom of the ramekin, covering it completely using about a third of the salmon. Dollop half of the cream cheese mixture and spread it gently but evenly (an offset spatula works well here).  Sprinkle half the onion/radish mixture on top, pressing gently on them so they stick. Repeat the layers but then end with a salmon layer.  Cover with plastic wrap and press down gently on the whole thing.  Chill for at least an hour.  Serve by taking the plastic off the top and inverting on to a scary skeleton platter, then carefully peel the plastic off.  Top with the fresh dill.  Serve with bagel chips and party rye.

And then finally on to actual Halloween.  Where we never got a picture of the boys together because Guitar Boy had stage crew until 5 and then went trick or treating with his friends.  So please enjoy this picture of Drummer Boy as Bigfoot with his friend as…well, you be the judge.

 

kids

Oh, and one more thing.

CUBS WIN CUBS WIN CUBS WIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

If you haven’t seen it, go watch this Budweiser commercial.  Grab a tissue before you do.

Working on practice Thanksgiving tomorrow. Didn’t everyone spend their Friday night dehydrating Craisins?  Yes, I do know how cool I am.

Have a great weekend everyone.

 

It’s Beginning to Look a lot Like Autumn

My sister made fun of me because I bought this cute little mustard mug at Cost Plus World Market last weekend

fancymustard

Then decorated for fall with Skunk the Cat (#nothelpful).

catontable

and then arranged a whole Oktoberfest dinner around the mustard. Is that so wrong?

ocktoberfest

Mostly, I just wanted fall to begin and by using my condiment talisman, I was successful.  So successful, in fact, that it was 44 degrees at Drummer Boy’s soccer game Friday night.  Let me know if anyone needs any spells cast. Because I’m on it. And, speaking of witches, HALLOWEEEEEEEN time!

So what’s new this year?

Lots more skeletons in the yard.dsc_0250

This guy!

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Not new but still fun for cats to bite the tails

stairs

Accidentally went to TJ Maxx/Homegoods and came home with this skull

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and his friend (helpful cat for scale).

skull

Did I mention Skunk the Cat sleeps in a shark head now. Yep.  But only if it’s on a pillow. He’s got cable in there, but I didn’t get him HBO. That’s where I draw the line. #notspoiled

catshark

Oh and some fun swirling ghost lights, but they are really hard to get a picture of what with all their haunting. So if you are in the neighborhood, swing by and take a look.

But what to make, now that we can turn on the oven again?

I have always wanted to try to make Momofuku’s Compost Cookie because I see it referenced so many places on the internet. However, the recipes posted are vastly different.  The most common one calls for using a 6 ounce scoop to form the dough. That is almost a cup of dough per cookie! Seems a bit much. So I kind of borrowed from this recipe from Amateur Gourmet and this one posted by the original chef.  The point is to use up whatever you have a little bit of, balancing the sweet and the savory.

The Momofuku Milk Bar Compost Cookie

WHAT YOU NEED
1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1 TBSP corn syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp Kosher salt (note: Adjust if your savory ingredients are extra salty)
1 1/2 cups total mini chocolate chips and crushed KitKats
1 1/2 cups total your favorite salty snack. I used potato chips, pretzels (crushed with my hands so there were still large lumps of pretzels) and Rice Krispies.

WHAT YOU DO
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Combine the butter, sugars, and corn syrup in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment and cream together on medium-high for 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the egg and vanilla, and beat for 10 minutes.  I’m serious, don’t skip this, let it go 10 minutes.  It will get all puffy.

Reduce the speed to really low and add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix just until the dough comes together, no longer than 1 minute.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl. 

Pour in the sweet items and mix on low just until broken up a little and combined.  Then add your salty ingredients and mix by hand until incorporated.  

Now here’s where some experimenting comes in.  Some recipes said to chill as scoops, some said press down lightly.  Some said freeze, some said refrigerate. I did both. The scoops (as pictures below left) didn’t cook in the middle.  And the pan you cook it on also needs to be cold. And the first batch burnt on the bottom (I say burnt, Fake Sister’s dad says they are just crispy – so that batch goes to him!)

Here’s what I did:  Heat oven to 375 degrees. Using an ice cream scoop, portion the dough onto a parchment-lined sheet pan. Flatten the scoops into a disc like the one on the right.

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Cover tightly with plastic and put in freezer for 30 minutes.  Remove and put in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes or up to a week.  You have to cook these from cold or they dissolve.

Arrange the chilled dough a minimum of 4 inches apart on parchment or silicone baking mat-lined sheet pan.  To prevent burning bottoms, I put one sheet pan on top of another. Bake for 15 minutes turning the pan at the middle mark. The cookies will spread a lot.  You want them browned on the edges but looking almost not done (but yet done). You can add a minute or two if not done. Cool completely on the pan.

And voila!  Ginormous sweet/salty cookies.

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I made this Autumn Bliss Salad with Stuffing Croutons from A Beautiful Mess.   The only thing I did differently is that instead of cooking the celery I put it in the salad crispy and cold, but added 1/8 of a teaspoon of celery salt to the crouton mixture.  You could seriously serve these croutons as a snack and no one would judge you.  Certainly not me!

salad

I also added two squirts of honey to the dressing. I would suggest dressing the lettuce before adding pumpkins seeds and cranberries, otherwise they sink to the bottom when you toss.

I’m thinking maybe next up some apple loaves are in order. And in honor of the fall weather we’re having Soup-a-palooza at work, so this coming weekend I need to make two gallons of creamy tomato soup. You say prizes, I say how many gallons you need??  More on that later.

Over the weekend we made a mandatory pumpkin farm visit.

pumpkinfarm

But didn’t get any big pumpkins because (a) last year they all rotted almost instantly, with a black moss type thing growing in them, so those strobe lights in there were sacrificed to the Pumpkin King and (2) they were out of wagons to carry them.  Grocery store pumpkins it is!

There will be both a costume October birthday party and a costume pizza night coming up, along with actual Halloween. So don’t think this is the end, because the Halloween storage bins, they are CALLING FROM INSIDE THE HOUSE!!!!!!

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Have a great rest of the week everyone.