Cranberry-Orange Sauce

IMG_3341
My husbands words: “Mmm…I don’t usually like cranberry sauce, but that’s really good!” That’s a success in my book! If nothing else, can you all just promise me that you WILL NOT serve canned cranberries at Thanksgiving this year?!?! No offense to those who like canned cranberry sauce but let’s be honest…it’s kind of weird. I mean, it comes out still looking like the inside of the can and the texture is, for lack of a better adjective, mushy. And not to mention, this recipe is SO easy to make, literally 30 minutes, start to finish.

 Cranberry-Orange Sauce
12 oz bag fresh cranberries (if using frozen, thaw first)
3/4 cup sugar
2 tsp orange zest
1 cup fresh orange juice
course salt and ground pepper

1. In a medium saucepan, combine cranberries, sugar, orange zest and 1/2 cup water. Season with salt & pepper.
2. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, reduce heat to medium-low and simmered until thickened, 15-20 minutes.
3. Remove from heat and add the orange juice, stirring to combine. Let sit for about 10 minutes and serve at room temperature.

Advertisements

Cornbread Stuffing

IMG_3294
Recipe #1 for a Thanksgiving feast! I have to admit, I’ve only cooked big holiday meals a handful of times, so I’m certainly no expert but I do know that I’m a perfectionist, a bit controlling (do not comment, mom or husband!) and I don’t like surprises in the kitchen when I’m entertaining. So I thought it was a great idea to test out all my Thanksgiving recipes ahead of time. This stuffing makes the cut and will absolutely be on our Thanksgiving day table. There’s a little work involved in preparing the cornbread first but you can easily do that ahead of time (up to a week) or, if your grocery store sells pre-made cornbread in their bakery, you can use that too.

Cornbread Stuffing w/ Sausage & Fennel
8 cups 1/2″ cubes Savory Cornbread
1 pound bulk ground breakfast sausage
10 Tbsp unsalted butter, divided, plus more for baking dish
1 medium fennel bulb, chopped, plus fronds for serving
4 celery stalks, chopped
8 scallions, white and pale green parts only, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 Bosc or Comice pears, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 Tbsp finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 Tbsp chopped fresh oregano
1 Tbsp chopped fresh thyme
1 tsp dried sage leaves
2 cups (or more if desired) low sodium chicken broth, divided
Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
3 large eggs, beaten

1. Preheat oven to 300°F. Divide cornbread between 2 large rimmed baking sheets. Bake, tossing occasionally, until beginning to brown in spots and dry out, 40-45 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, cook sausage in a large skillet over medium-high heat, breaking up with a spoon, until dark brown, 6-8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer sausage to a small bowl; let cool.
3. Reduce heat to medium and heat 8 Tbsp butter in same skillet. Add fennel, celery, scallions, and garlic and cook, stirring often, until vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes. Add pears and wine, increase heat to medium-high, and cook, stirring occasionally, until wine is almost completely evaporated, about 5 minutes.
4. Increase oven temperature to 400°F. Butter a 9″x13″ baking dish. Combine sausage, fennel mixture, parsley, oregano, thyme, sage, and 1 1/2 cups broth in a large bowl. Add cornbread and toss to combine; season with salt and pepper. Let sit 10 minutes, then add remaining1/2 cup broth and toss, adding more broth if needed (bread should be very moist but not soggy). Add eggs and mix gently just to combine. Transfer dressing to prepared baking dish and dot with remaining 2 Tbsp butter.
5. Cover dressing with foil and bake until heated through, about 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake until stuffing is golden and crisp on top, 20-30 minutes longer
6. Serve topped with fennel fronds.

Original recipe from Bon Appétit.

Savory Cornbread

IMG_3271

Everyone needs a cornbread recipe in their life…right? This one is quick, easy and delicious. Plus, you’re going to need it for an upcoming food post next week…cornbread stuffing! Part of my 5-week build up to your best Thanksgiving feast yet!! That’s right 🙂 I’m testing out all sorts of Thanksgiving recipes in the coming weeks and picking my favorites to share with you. Takes the guess work out of it a bit! I’m also focusing all my November DIY projects on things you might need (or just want) before you have your friends and family over for the biggest meal of the year. Are you as excited as I am???

But even on it’s own, the cornbread is perfect for chili and fall soups, our turn it into cornbread muffins, add some cheddar and jalapeños, the possibilities are endless!

Savory Cornbread
3 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted, plus more for baking dish
1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
1 1/3 cups cornmeal
2 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt
3/4 tsp baking soda
3 large eggs, beaten
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup whole milk

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter an 8×8 baking dish.
2. Whisk flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda in a large bowl. In a separate medium bowl, whisk eggs, buttermilk and milk together. Mix egg mixture into dry ingredients until just combined. Mix in 3 Tbsp of butter.
3. Scape batter into a baking dish and bake cornbread until tested inserted into the center comes out clean, about 25-30 minutes.

*Original recipe from Bon Appétit.

Bacon-Wrapped Dates

IMG_3173
I’m sitting here planning my calendar for the month of November…yes…November.

#1 – I can’t believe it is that close to Starbucks breaking out the red cups and holiday music playing in stores.

#2 – I have some REALLY GREAT stuff planned for the month of November!!! I almost can’t wait to share it with you! But I will wait, mostly because right now it’s just a plan on my calendar, and the way my schedule has been going lately…well, I’m gonna try really hard to do everything I have planned. I  promise, it’s gonna be good!

Last week I got to take a work trip to Santa Monica, so much fun and so nice to get out of the grey drizzle that has taken over Portland. Then I came home and got to go wedding dress shopping with my baby sister. It’s so exciting and yet, the whole time it didn’t seem real, like she was just playing dress up or something. Her wedding venue is a DIY-ers dream and we are going to have so much fun planning everything for the big day.

Last week, in all the chaos, I made an old go-to, easy recipe for dinner. A pancetta-wrapped chicken with date sauce. And since I had some dates left over, I also made one of my husbands favorite things, bacon-wrapped dates. A few years back, we went to a restaurant in downtown Seattle, Sazerac, for happy hour with some friends. On the menu, were these bacon-wrapped dates stuffed with cheese. We were engaged at the time, and he loved the dates so much, he asked our caterer if they could be incorporated into our wedding menu. (That, and his own personal lobster tail. No one else at the wedding got lobster tail. Just him. Not picky. AT ALL!)

Anyway, it’s one of his favorite things so I make them from time to time because they are so simple and tasty. An easy appetizer to prepare ahead of time for your next get together or just for a random Wednesday night.

Bacon-Wrapped Dates
24 large pitted dates
12 slices of bacon, halved crosswise
1/2 cup blue cheese

1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Place 24 toothpicks in a small bowl of water and let soak for 15 minutes. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and fit with a wire rack, set aside.
2. Slice dates lengthwise, be careful not to cut all the way through, to make a small pocket for the cheese. Place a small amount of cheese in the center of each date. Wrap a piece of bacon around each date. Secure bacon with a toothpick.
3. Place dates on prepared baking sheet. Bake until bacon is cooked through, about 20-25 minutes.

Sweet Potato Fries w/Lime Mayo

IMG_3132I am really struggling with my time management this week. Do you ever feel extremely overwhelmed with everything you need to do but yet the overwhelming feeling makes you just want to ignore everything rather than motivate you to get it all done? Most of the time, I feel like I’m pretty good at self-motivating and checking things off my to-do list. Not the case this week. I came home from work last night so overwhelmed with all I needed to accomplish that my husband just looked at me sideways and stayed out of my way. Oops…

Anyway, with a full week of work packed into 4 days, a mid-week trip to California, wedding dress shopping for with my little sister and life in general, I’ve decided that it’s time to get back on track with my trusty planner.

On a completely unrelated topic, somehow, I could eat about 3 lbs of these sweet potato fries and still not feel guilty. They are DE-LI-CIOUS paired with the lime mayo, the flavors blend so well, you’re friends and family will think you went to culinary school! AND…they only take 30 minutes, start-to-finish, so they’re great for week nights too.

Sweet Potato Fries w/Lime Mayo
2 large sweet potatoes cut into 1/2″ strips
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1/4 tsp finely grated lime zest
2 tsp fresh lime juice
chopped fresh cilantro

1. Preheat oven to 450°F. Toss sweet potatoes and oil on a foil-lined large baking sheet; season with salt and pepper.
2. Roast, turning once, until golden brown and crisp, 25-30 minutes
3. While potatoes cook, whisk mayonnaise, lime zest and juice in a small bowl. Refrigerate until fries are ready to serve.
4. Season fries with salt, top with cilantro, and serve with lime mayo for dipping.

*Original recipe from Bon Appétit.

Room Makeover…My Master Bathroom Vanity

IMG_3205

Ok, ok…so it’s not an entire room makeover again…I haven’t gotten that far yet. But only because I haven’t gathered up the courage to re-tile my shower and bathtub just yet. Be patient…it will happen. This mini-makeover, again, happened by accident. I just can’t help myself! I decided just before going back to work that I wanted to get all the walls in my house painted, that it would make me feel like I accomplished a big project and like I was at least making some progress in this oh-so-slow DIY remodel process. So, I started painting away, one room at a time. Then I got to the master bathroom. As I was prepping the walls to paint I decided to take down the large plain contractor grade vanity mirror to paint behind it. Boy was this a huge pain in the you know what! That thing was heavy!! Since I wanted a better looking mirror in it’s place anyway, I decided to not put the old mirror back up and to just go find a new one. Easy enough. Except, then I wanted a new light fixture to replace the old copper one. And then I couldn’t stand the gold faucets and towel rings. You get the point…once I started, I couldn’t stop until the whole area was remodeled and redecorated. I know what you’re thinking, and yes, my husband knows I’m a DIY addict. I have yet to seek help.

So, here we go. Let’s start with the before picture…

IMG_3095

Isn’t she a beauty…man, this before and after thing is kind of embarrassing! So this is what I started with. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not all bad. We do really like the grey marble counters in our bathroom, the problem is, they don’t really go with ANYTHING else in the room. Tan floor & bathtub tile, gold faucets, copper light fixtures and cabinet knobs and pea green walls…

I started with the colors in the marble and went from there. The taupe wall color that I was already using throughout the house was going to match the taupe lines in the marble perfectly and I love myself some brushed nickel fixtures right now so I continued with that in this room as well. First things first, I painted the walls and replaced the mirror and light fixture.

IMG_3224

 I used the same color paint as the entry way, Valspar Lyndhurst Timber from Lowes but for the bathroom I used a semi-gloss finish instead of a matte finish. The light fixture is Portfolio 4-Light Brushed Nickel Vanity Light from Lowes. The mirror is from Home Goods.

Next, I installed the new towel rings and faucets.

I used the towel ring and sink faucet from Moen’s Boardwalk collection at Lowes. I’m always that person who is a bit over-confident when I first start a DIY project, then, about halfway through, I tell myself I’m crazy for ever deciding to DIY my entire house and I want to sit on the floor and cry. And then I remember that you can find ANYTHING on the internet, including how to dismantle an old faucet! This was not the easiest thing I’ve ever done, mostly because the metal seemed a bit corroded on the inside which made getting the pieces apart a bit challenging. Have no fear though, once you get the old one out the hard part is over. The new faucets are so simple to install, you’ll think you should become a plumber. But don’t.

Next up, freshening up the cabinets.

IMG_3209

They were already painted white when I started, however, it was a pretty awful paint job. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE to paint cabinets to freshen up a room but if you’re going to do it, take your time! Use a small paint brush and be delicate. Make sure your brush strokes follow the grain of the wood and don’t let the paint drip or pool. The goal is to make the cabinets look custom, not like a 4-year-olds art project.

I stripped the cabinets down, took off all the hardware, sanded off the old paint and started fresh. I know you can’t really tell from the photos, but trust me, this made a world of difference. Now, had the cabinets just been stained with a clear coat finish, I probably would’ve painted right over it without sanding (like I will soon do to my kitchen!! In my head, I was saying that while squealing like a little girl.) Once the painting was finished, I reattached the doors and drawers and added new knobs, allen + roth Brushed Nickel Square Knobs from Lowes.

Final step: decorate!

IMG_3204

I’m a bit obsessed with this little terrarium/vase that I found at Cost Plus World Market. It’s not originally what I set out looking for but I fell in love with it. The apothecary jars are from Pottery Barn, the PB Classic Glass Canister in small. I also got Ralph Lauren white hand towels from Marshalls for $5 each. The soap dispensers were a wedding gift, also from Pottery Barn, they do still carry them as part of the classic collection along with the apothecary jars.

And that’s that!

All in all, I spent about $500 on the mini-makeover. Pretty good, considering $200 of that was just for the faucets. Now to tackle the bathtub and shower tile!! Wish me luck and stay tuned for the full room makeover update!

Inspired by…Fall Trends

10.8.3

The air is getting a little crisper with each passing day which means adding a few more layers here and there. When you think trends, you usually think fashion and apparel. But more often than not, fashion trends translate to home décor in a pretty simple way.

Just like your wardrobe, when you start with a neutral palette in your wall color and large furniture pieces, it makes it easy to update your home season-to-season and year-to-year by changing out the “accessories”, i.e. pillows, throws and trinkets.

Fall in your home is all about chunky knits, faux fur and animal print, and just like in fashion, start small, a little bit here and a little bit there. Less is more, and you won’t know how much you love it until you try it.

Chunky Knits

10.8.2

10.8.6
10.8.14
Faux Fur

10.8.10

10.8.5
10.8.9
Animal Print

10.8.13
9.30.1
10.8.1

Lasagna with Meat Sauce

IMG_3167

This lasagna has seriously taken over as a staple in my house. We don’t do pastas too often because we try to stay away from starchy carbs (and because we are too lazy to workout) but I decided to give this a try and substituted gluten-free lasagna rice noodles instead of regular lasagna noodles (not that it made a huge carbohydrate difference but my conscience felt better anyway). Couldn’t even taste the difference! AND…you don’t have to pre-cook rice noodles!!!! Yep, that’s a choir you hear singing Hallelujah in the background.

Lasagna with Meat Sauce
1 1/2 cups fat free ricotta cheese
6 ozs part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded (about 1 1/2 cups)
1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
1 1/2 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1 Tbsp finely chopped fresh oregano
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 large egg, lightly beaten
12 ozs extra lean ground beef
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
1 (25 oz) jar low sodium marinara sauce
cooking spray
9 lasagna rice noodles (or regular lasagna noodles, prepared to package directions)
1 oz Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated (about 1/4 cup)

1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
2. Combine ricotta, 2 ozs (about 1/2 cup) mozzarella, 2 Tbsp parsley, butter, oregano, 1 garlic clove, and egg; set aside.
3. Place ground beef in large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat; sprinkle with peppers and remaining 4 garlic cloves. Cook for 9 minutes or until beef is browned, stirring to crumble; drain. Return beef mixture to pan; stir in marinara sauce, and remove from heat.
4. Use a broiler-safe 11×7 inch glass or ceramic baking dish. When arranging a layer of noodles in the lasagna, use 3-4 noodles, enough to cover the full span of the pan but not overlapping too much. Layer your lasagna in the following order:
1/2 cup meat sauce spread in bottom of pan
1 layer of noodles
1 cup meat sauce spread over noodles
1 layer of noodles
All of ricotta mixture
1 cup meat sauce
1 layer of noodles
remaining meat sauce spread over noodles
remaining mozzarella and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
Cover with foil coated with cooking spray. Bake at 375°F for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake for an additional 10 minutes or until bubbly.
5. Preheat broiler to high (keep lasagna in oven)
6. Broil lasagna for 1 to 2 minutes or until cheese is golden brown and sauce is bubbly. Remove from oven, let stand for 10 minutes. Sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons parsley. Cut into 6 pieces and serve.

*Original recipe from Cooking Light