December 30, 2007

The Sunday Soup #2


Straight from the Smitten Kitchen: 44-clove Garlic Soup.

Yep.

It's delicious, but I do recommend it as a side for a meal (a cup), rather than a bowl as a main dish. It would also be amazing as a sauce over shells or angel hair.

Let's cut to the chase.


Roasted Garlic Soup with Parmesan Cheese
Bon Appétit, February 1999

44 garlic cloves (26 unpeeled, 18 peeled)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
2 1/4 cups sliced onions
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
3 1/2 cups chicken stock or canned low-salt chicken broth
1/2 cup whipping cream
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese (about 2 ounces)
4 lemon wedges

• Preheat oven to 350°F
• Place 26 garlic cloves in small glass baking dish
• Add 2 tablespoons olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper
• Toss to coat
• Cover baking dish with foil
• Bake until garlic is golden brown (about 45 minutes)
• Let cloves cool
• Squeeze garlic between fingertips to release cloves
• Transfer cloves to small bowl
• Melt butter in heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat
• Add onions and thyme and cook until onions are translucent (6 min.)
• Add roasted garlic and 18 raw garlic cloves and cook 3 min.
• Add chicken stock
• Cover and simmer until garlic is very tender (20 min.)
• Working in batches, purée soup in blender until smooth
• Return soup to saucepan; add cream and bring to simmer
• Season with salt and pepper
• Divide grated cheese among 4 bowls and ladle soup over
• Squeeze juice of 1 lemon wedge into each bowl and serve

Serves 4.

December 24, 2007

Newsprint Wrapping


My lovely roommate Maggie mentioned having read an article about how wasteful wrapping paper is. We buy all this paper only to throw it away a few days later (or, for us procrastinators, we wrap it only minutes before it's ripped off and tossed out).

So this year I decided to use old newspaper, and I made bows out of old paper grocery bags. It saved me money, and it was fun to pick out which news sections to use for which presents.

To make the bows, I simply cut 10" long x 1/2" wide strips from a white paper grocery bag from our local market (haven't yet bought those baggu bags, but I will ASAP!), and looped them all together to make quirky little bows.

Quick and easy and full of personality! A simple thing to add to your list of easy ways to be more green.

December 22, 2007

Lasagna


I celebrate Christmas about six times every year (ah, the perks of having a mixed up family!), and I gotta say, my mom does a great job of keeping her menu unique.

Her newest tradition is lasagna. This year I insisted on taking the already Christmas-y red and green layered dish to the next decorative level by adding a little tree made of parsley. Not sure how green and christmas-tree-shape it'll look after baking, but hey, it's worth a shot.

The other great thing about this dish is that you can prepare it several days in advance and freeze it. Just stick it in the oven about 2 hours before you want to serve it.

This is a pretty easy recipe, so for you true Italians out there, no bashing, please! And feel free to share your most authentic lasagna recipes with me any time. Or just serve it to me. Thanks.


Christmas Lasagna
from the kitchen of my Mom

8 oz uncooked lasagna noodles
15 oz container of ricotta cheese
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
10 oz frozen package chopped spinach (thawed & squeezed)
2 eggs
2 26 oz jars of your favorite pasta sauce (or make your own!)
1 lb Italian sausage, cooked and drained
3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
chopped parsley

• Preheat oven to 350º (if you are planning to bake it right away)
• In bowl, combine ricotta, 1/2 the Parmesan cheese, eggs and spinach
• Mix well with whisk (make sure to break up the spinach)
• Grease deep 13x9" baking dish
• Spread 1 cup pasta sauce across the bottom of the baking dish
• Combine remaining sauce with sausage in separate bowl/pot
• Layer half of each: noodles, cheese mixture, meat sauce, mozzarella
• Repeat layer
• Sprinkle remaining Parmesan across the top
• Top with parsley (in Christmas-tree shape, if you wish!)
• Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake 1 hour
• Uncover and bake an additional 15 minutes or until hot and bubbly
• Let stand 15 minutes before serving
• Then, you scarf

* Note from the mom: We love this recipe because you don't have to deal with cooking the noodles beforehand. Layering slippery cooked noodles is a real pain. And of course, this recipe is delicious ...with the added benefit of spinach, which clearly cancels out all the damage done by the cheese.

December 20, 2007

Insta Snow!

Momma Zero told me she was sending me some snow from Connecticut, since they got so much and Baltimore got none. I thought she was kidding. But she wasn't.


How fantastic is this?! Scott, Maggie, ML and I made it. And made it. And made it. And played with it. And then I put some in a vase on our kitchen table, since there is still no sign of snow in Baltimore.

Just two tiny scoops of powder (pictured above) and two ounces of water makes a couple handfuls of "snow." It's even cold! And apparently it stays snowy for a couple weeks. We're not sure exactly what happens to it after that...



Want your own? Looks like you can buy some here.

Thanks Momma Zero!

December 19, 2007

The Gift of Giving


Stealing this one straight-up from ML of Shocking Pink Subverter.

At work we've been getting baskets and baskets of goodies from vendors. While the treats are certainly nice for the first basket or two... or three... they start to get a little excessive even to those of us who LOVE our dark chocolate.

So ML emailed me this afternoon to tell me about this one vendor who sent her department a link to this website, APS Giving Back. The website is full of charities, and they allow you – the gift receiver – to choose what charities you want to donate to.

Not only is it a wonderful idea to let the recipient give the gift, but the website itself is beautiful, and the Christmas music is completely charming.

What I can't figure out is how you can give this gift (the website and "charity gift certificate" if you will). Can anyone figure that out from the site? I guess you could just click the help button and send an email... Let me know if you figure it out! Or maybe it's just what this one company does for their gifts, and it's their own website.

Check it out!

[Edit: APS is the vendor, it's their website, and they give out "budgets" as gifts. Sorry for the confusion! It's not open for anyone to sign up for. Thanks for the clarification ML!]

December 17, 2007

December 16, 2007

The Sunday Soup #1

Right before I moved, my mom taught me her soup lesson (which she calls "The Soup Kitchen") because I knew nothing about cooking soup. It's usually pretty cheap to make, and easy to make large quantities – perfect for freezing in single-serving tupperware so I can take it to work for lunch. Yummy!

So I declared that I was going to make a huge batch of soup every Sunday once I got settled, and now that I've actually stuck to it for three weeks in a row, I give myself permission to bloggit. I'm just that cool.

Please note how the soup matches my blog colors:


Whiskey Jack's White Chili
[There's no whiskey, but apparently it's from a restaurant called Whiskey Jack]

2 16-oz. cans white beans
1/2 lb. cooked, diced chicken breast
1 1/2 t. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 oz. can chopped green chilies
1 16 oz. can chicken broth
1 t. cumin
1 t. oregano
1/4 t. ground cloves
1/8 t. cayenne pepper
2 c. shredded Monterey Jack cheese
3 T. sour cream

• In stock pot, heat oil and sauté onions for two minutes
• Drain and rinse beans
• Add everything except cheese and sour cream to the pot
• Use masher or back of a large spoon to mush up the beans
• Simmer for 20 minutes
• Add one cup of the cheese and whisk until cheese is melted*
• Ladle into bowls
• Garnish with oyster crackers, remaining cheese, and sour cream

*Note from the mom: after adding dairy to your soup (cheese, sour cream, milk, cream – anything), don't bring it to a boil again, or it will separate and ruin the texture. So if you are trying to cook it down and let water evaporate, it's best to do that before you add your dairy.

Enjoy : ) Hopefully I'll be back next Sunday with a new soup!

December 15, 2007

A Nor'easter is Coming!

I used to think a Nor'easter was a fancy way of saying "a person from the north east." After a few nasty ice storms in Delaware, I learned that this was not the case.

What do you mean, a nor'easter is coming? Aren't we surrounded by them? Why is there such a fuss whenever a nor'easter is arriving?

I'll get to the point... I neglected my fabulous blog date today because I was running around trying to squeeze in weekend errands all on Saturday, before this big storm hits Baltimore tomorrow : ) [THANK YOU SCOTT!!]

Most errands included buying things for my new room! I got all of my inspiration from Oh Joy! I absolutely love her style, and the things she finds to post. I've gotten so many ideas for decorating through her blogs tagged "my house is my home."

Her bedroom (pictured, from her blog) was featured in Domino Magazine's decorating contest, and I'm aiming for a bedroom with a similar style, but with my own twist. Whaddya think?

December 10, 2007

Dear Blog,

I miss you. I promise to make time for you soon. For now, things like going to work (which is going great, by the way!), Christmas shopping, building my IKEA furniture, making delicious food to eat, and generally getting situated in my new life are taking over. It's fun, and I'm lucky and I love it and I'm busy with great things, but I am oh-so-looking forward to having some relaxing me-time again.

So! Not to worry. I will be back. I promise.

Does this Saturday work for you?

It's a date.