Friday, November 30, 2012

So I did that Instagram November Photo-A-Day thing ...

Nov1 Nov2 Nov3 Nov4 Nov5 Nov6 Nov7 Nov8 Nov9 Nov10 Nov11 Nov12 Nov13 Nov14 Nov15 Nov16 Nov17 Nov18 Nov19 Nov20 Nov21 Nov22 Nov23 Nov24 Nov25 Nov26 Nov27 Nov28 Nov29 Nov30

1. Day of the Dead 2. Rasco's new toy 3. My cousin’s baby shower
4. Gelato with the journos 5. Boyfriend built a bed 6. Election Cupcake
7. Date Night 8. My Birthday 9. Oops bought People Espanol
10. Girl’s Night in Hotlanta 11. Friend’s dog in NC 12. Back at home
13. Back to work 14. A blog within a blog 15. Skyfall
16. Oma got me an Advent calendar 17. A&W in MS 18. Edelweiss Restaurant in VA
19. At Nat Geo Headquarters 20. Caffeine 21. Belated Bday gift
22. Thanksgiving 23. Taffy in Arlington, VA 24. Great Falls, VA
25. Time Warp Vintage Goodies 26. Christmas decor 27. Groomed
28. 1st Selfie Ever 29. My Christmas Cards 30. The Avett Brothers are today's jam.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Pecan Pie & Thanksgiving Recap

As you all know, I post on Wednesdays. And as I was cooking up a storm last Wednesday in preparation for Thursday, I had no completed recipes to share.  This was the first time I didn't include a recipe in a post. Don't worry. I promise it will not become a pattern. But, I hope you all took my message to heart and are nice, not naughty, to yourselves this holiday season.  

I am back this week with a delicious, Southern pecan pie recipe, perfect for the holiday season. 

Grandma Gerdes' Pecan Pie
Sans Egg shells 

This Thanksgiving,  I was thankful to spend some quality time with my family, visiting my sister and her husband in D.C. I made the trip with my parents and am so very glad that we were all able to cook together and celebrate as a family. This is the first Thanksgiving in several years that the four of us (plus gentlemen callers and a couple of friends) were all together. And I have to thank my sister for hosting and cooking a myriad of delicious dishes.  My mom made her famous New Orleans rice dressing and I contributed, with help from my Dad, a pecan pie. Pe-can NOT Pee-can. Just to clarify.

My dad and I sought to recreate his grandmother's pecan pie. She was a real ... uh firecracker. And when I say recreate, I mean make it like she did but without all the eggshells. And I have to admit, I am pretty proud of how it came out. 


for the filling ... 
1 cup Karo Syrup  
1/4 cup Maple Syrup 
3/4 cup Brown Sugar 
3 Eggs 
1 tbs Almond extract 
.5 tbs Vanilla extract 
3-5 tablespoons butter (I used 5) 
A pinch of salt 
11/2 cups pecans

for the crust* ...
3 cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup sugar
3 egg yokes
1 ½ sticks unsalted butter
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla
1 ½ teaspoon lemon zest

*This is the crust recipe I always use. You may remember it from here, here and here. This recipe gives the best instructions ... 

Once you make the crust as directed above* (I used a spring form pan but you don't have to), bake the pie crust at 400 for 6-8 minutes.  Set aside. Lower oven to 350. 
For the filling ... In a medium saucepan, combine butter, syrups, brown sugar and salt.  Bring to a boil. And let boil or ONE MINUTE ONLY. Stirring the whole time so nothing sticks. 
Remove from heat. Mix in nuts and extracts. Set aside and allow to cool for about five minutes. 
Now blend in eggs, already lightly beaten. 
Pour filling into crust and bake for 40 minutes to 50 minutes at 350.
Cool on rack, allowing pie to harden.  Serve!  

The pie just before being served! 

Additional Scenes from Thanksgiving 
Tis the Season for food porn ... 

Brussel Sprouts with lemon.  
The cheese tray. The speckled one was a mustard cheese.  
Our sweet table. 
Roasted veggies. See the fresh pumpkin?
Mason Jar Wine.
My plate: Pumpkin curry soup, kale salad,
 mushroom, mashed potato and green bean casserole,
roasted fall veggies, turkey,
New Orleans rice dressing and hazelnut stuffing.
 Hats off to my sister for ALL of the from scratch cooking! 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Be Nice or Leave

No recipe this week for the first time ever. My sister and I are making a ton of Holiday food for Thanksgiving and the finishing touches won't be done until tomorrow. So enjoy your Thanksgiving and my holiday message. 

Found these Thanksgiving cuties on Pinterest.

The holidays have sort of commenced, which means a lot of really great things: cookies, cakes, cheese, pie, to name a few. 

There is a myriad of foods that we indulge in just this time of year. Like grandma’s famous this and the thing mom has been making since you were three. Food is one of many things family’s share during the holidays. It is a tradition, and gosh darn it, it makes you happy. 

So, that’s why all I want for Christmas is for you to be nice to yourself. Enjoy your time with your loved ones and have seconds. Now, I am a proponent of healthy eating. But, I also believe that you shouldn't deny yourself life's little joys like Thanksgiving pecan pie and cookies shaped like snowmen.  
Weighing yourself down with grief and stressing over food is no way to spend the holidays.  Which is why I decided to add the "No Diet Talk" button to my blog.  

While I am a proponent of healthy lifestyles, that doesn't mean making food or you "skinny." I will never subject my readers to weight loss talk. This is a place where food is pleasurable. I think everybody should be respected and taken care of, and that means allowing it some sweetness from time to time. That's my soapbox. And I hope we can all just spread kindness this holiday season, which means being nice to ourselves. 

With this message in mind, I would like to wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving! I am thankful this year to cook a feast with my mother and sister. I can't remember the last Turkey Day we were all together.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Birthdaycation and Homemade Pasta

My Hotlanta Birthday Trip
We laughed until we cried and we cried until we laughed 

I first want to thank my mom for giving me the best present and buying me a plane ticket to see my sister and our shared best friend Rachael. So, really, I have two sisters.  I then want to thank my Rachael and her husband Johnny for letting me crash at their place in North Carolina for a couple nights, their new town is just so cute. And lastly, I would like to thank the best big sister in the entire world for planning my fabulous birthday trip to Hotlanta where we saw Regina Spektor. After what Rachael figured was nine years of listening to Regina we finally were seeing her all together, and for my birthday! Julie was the only one who had seen her before so I was overflowing with excitement.

But the whole drive from North Carolina (where we flew in, me from Louisiana and Julie from DC) to Atlanta, we laughed, cried and got in all of that fabulous sister time.  I am so lucky to have these two. And I am so fortunate to have all of the wonderful people in my life that made my birthday special last week, with letters, phone calls, messages and an Audrey Hepburn children's book :) 

For my birthday dinner, we went to Alma Cocina in downtown Atlanta, which I cannot recommend enough. Everything was delicious, lots of vegetarian options and they brought me a fabulous tres leches cake for my birthday. Then we saw Regina at the Tabernacle.  Center balcony!

birthdayhotel tights rach
girls regina

1. hotel lobby, concert looks. 2. my polka dot tights 3. with rachael at alma
4.  the girls 5. tres leches cake  6. regina :) 

The concert was just the best. She played a little bit of everything, old and new. And closed the show with our three favorites, Us, Fidelity and Samson. Best show ever. Sunday morning was brunch at Radial Cafe near Little Five Points. Super yummy! We loved the challah French bread. Then it was back to North Carolina ... where my sister taught us how to make homemade pasta. 

Homemade Pasta
Just add wine for the perfect end to a birthday weekend

  • 3/4 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour ( I use whole wheat flour)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  1. Using a food processor, process basil leaves until chopped very fine. Add 1 1/2 cups of flour and pulse two or three times, or until combined. Add egg, 1 teaspoon oil, and the water until dough forms a ball shape. If dough seems dry, add a bit more water. Wrap dough in a piece of plastic wrap which has been coated in a few drops of olive oil. Refrigerate dough for 2 hours.(or freeze for 45 min. or so)
  2. Remove dough from refrigerator, and cut into 6 equal size portions. Run pasta though pasta machine, or roll with rolling pin to desired thickness. Use the additional flour to coat pasta while rolling. (Julie said you can cut the pasta with cookie cutters to make fun shapes)
  3. Allow pasta to dry for one hour prior to cooking.
  4. Cook in a large pot of boiling water until al dente. This should take only a 3 to 5 minutes, depending on the thickness of the pasta.
The final product with pesto and veggies. 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Red Velvet, White & Blue and Sprinkles Love

Red Velvet, White and Blue 
Copycat Sprinkles Cupcakes with a Patriotic Twist 

In honor of the 2012 Election, I decided to bake patriotic cupcakes.  So, naturally I settled on Red Velvet with Blue icing.  What batter way to celebrate democracy?

And I couldn't just make any red velvet cupcake ... I had to make the best. Which brings me to my all consuming love of Sprinkles Cupcakes and our long distance relationship, as there are no Sprinkles stores here in Louisiana. Our visits are kind of seedy, whenever I have work in DC I stop by for a rendezvous.  

But our most recent encounter was wholesome.  You see, my birthday is tomorrow and my mom gave me a Sprinkles Chai Cupcake kit ... My absolute favorite flavor.  So instead of using the kit last night, I am saving it for a special occasion.  But I used the cream cheese icing recipe that comes in the kit last night. I still had to google a copycat red velvet recipe, and I found this one online over at the Carrot Top Mom. It was quite delicious.  

To see the Red Velvet recipe from Carrot Top Mom, click here. But here is the official cream cheese icing recipe that came in my kit ...  

8 oz cold cream cheese
1 stick unsalted butter, firm
1/2 tsp vanilla
3 3/4 cups confectioners' sugar
1/8 tsp salt
Blue food coloring to your liking, too much makes it crystalize!

Beat cream cheese, butter and salt until smooth. Gradually add confectioners sugar. Add vanilla. Blend in food coloring.

1. Beautiful Batter 2. Fresh out the oven 3. Red Velvet, White and Blue 
Photos by Robert Giglio 

Blogging tips