Monday, March 30, 2015

Easter Audition

Last weekend we had an Easter meal audition. We're hosting my in-laws for a long weekend over Easter and I've been busy pinning and dog-earing recipes both on screen and in print. We knew we'd serving ham as the protein, but the rest was kind of up in the air.

I stumbled across a bourbon-peach ham glaze that we tested on a ham steak to try the flavor. This recipe only has three main ingredients: bourbon, peach preserves, and maple syrup, plus salt and pepper to taste. It was thick and delicious on the salty ham. This passed the test with flying colors.

I was perusing magazines while getting a pedicure a few weeks back (from a woman with the sharpest finger nails ever!) I found a recipe for Carrot Orzotto which intrigued me. It cuts down on some of the work of a traditional risotto by using orzo pasta, and incorporates spring flavors in the carrot juice and grated carrots and the goat cheese and mint garnish. This one didn't pass the test, it had potential, but we're looking for stars.

My grandmother made a killer au gratin potato casserole, but it was labor intensive, so we tried out this genius version that halves the time. We needed a little bit more liquid, so we'll adjust accordingly this weekend.

We also made a small batch of pineapple stuffing, which tasted like bread pudding and will be great with the ham.

Feeling weighed down by the carbs, yet? We'll probably fall back on green beans, as I feel like asparagus can go wrong too easily. We might do a side of coleslaw too, but this meal is starting to seem ridiculous for four people.

I'm planning to take the easy way out and buy dessert, like we did at Thanksgiving. Thinking it'll be carrot cake, but I'm having a hard time imagining where we'll find room for all of this food.

Are you hosting Easter dinner? What is your favorite holiday food?

Monday, March 16, 2015

Weekend Update

We had a busy but low-key weekend. Kind of a strange combination, but we accomplished a lot without feeling rushed or stressed. Friday night we grabbed pho at the Vietnamese place around the corner and then watched a few episodes of The Good Wife before bed.

We woke up on Saturday morning to the rain, grabbed breakfast at Chick-Fil-A and headed up to the farmer's market in Concord to pick up this month's haul from our meat CSA. We're on our 3rd month and our freezer is jam-packed with local chicken, beef, pork, sausage, plus our fridge is stocked with jumbo brown eggs. We love that we pick up our meat from the farmer, Chad, who actually raises the animals.

On the way back from Concord, we stopped off at Sherwin Williams to pick up paint for our Master Bedroom (Perfect Greige) and Guest Bathroom (Rainwashed.) We got home and quickly got to work taping the trim and painting. A couple of hours later and both rooms were transformed. I'll share pictures once everything is back in place. By the time we'd finished painting, the weather had cleared up considerably, lucky since we needed to air the room out if we had any hope of sleeping in it that night. We left the windows open all night - it felt like the first night of spring! We grabbed a quick dinner of pizza and wings and watched Blended, which was predictable, but cute.

Yesterday we tried a new bagel shop (which serves iced coffee with frozen coffee cubes!) and grabbed a few things for dinner, then hit Lowe's where I got a few plants, plus Target and PetSmart. We lead an exciting life! We came home and worked on a small gallery wall in the second floor hallway, finally mounted the TV in our bedroom now that the walls are painted, and just cleaned up around the house - two of my friends from college are coming next weekend! I also finally got around to changing up my tree slab chalkboard from an Autumn quote to something spring-y. I'm loving the little spot in the corner of our sunroom that it takes up, along with my new donkey tail succulent. The color of the wall looks way off on my computer screen, it's Sherwin Williams' Svelte Sage.
We grilled burgers and spent some time on the back patio soaking up the gorgeous weather. I can definitely get used to this weather - I just hope it sticks around for next weekend - both of my friends live in Boston and have had enough snow!

Finished the day off doing laundry and making breakfast for the week - a super easy and delicious mixed berry compote and steel cut oats.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Five on Friday

Happy Friday! I'm a little late to the Five on Friday game, but here it is:

1. We're on Week Two of a Wellness Challenge at work. One of the goals I added to my tracker was to eat a fruit or vegetable with every meal. It's been pretty easy so far - I've only cheated and called yogurt or jelly a fruit at breakfast a few times when I got desperate. Most meals I find myself loading up on 2-3 fruits or vegetables. Last weekend we had some yummy veggie-heavy dinners including:

-Brussels Sprout Pasta Carbonara.
Brussels sprouts used to be near the top of my "don't eat" list, but the introduction of bacon grease and a re-emergence of brussels sprouts with chefs doing them right at fancy restaurants has opened a whole new realm of possibilities for this green vegetable.

 -Asian Chain Appetizer Night - we made the Bangin' Shrimp from Skinnytaste, Pork and Ginger potstickers, and lettuce wraps (also from Skinnytaste). Only major change for the lettuce wraps is we suggest using bibb (or Boston or butter - I really don't know the difference) lettuce for your wraps. Iceberg lettuce is too rigid and just cracks whereas the aforementioned "b" lettuce sort of stretches around the filling.

2. Trader Joe's Reduced Guilt Brownie Mix.
These brownies are amazing. I'm truly in awe of how quick and easy they are. All you need is 6 ounces of non-fat vanilla yogurt and a box of the brownie mix. Mix the two until the batter gets shiny and then pop it in the oven for 25ish minutes. Minus the sugar there's no guilt at all. I've heard that these are the same as the No Pudge Brownies (in a pink box) but I've only seen those at a select few grocery stores. I'd call these brownies more fudgey than cakey.

3. We're spending the weekend tackling our Master Bedroom. After living with sample squares painted on the walls for months, we finally picked...none of them and will be painting the walls this weekend. We'd planned to do it last weekend, but I found a 30% off sale at Sherwin Williams that didn't start until last Sunday, so we pushed it back a week. I'm a firm believer in buying paint the very same day you're planning to use it. Why wait around while they mix it all up if you're just going to have to do it again at home. I did use some paint we had in the garage from our sunroom project last summer to give our pantry door a makeover. I'll share that soon.

4. New ottoman - about a year ago we got a dining room table from Pottery Barn. Since then we've been using rewards points to make some other strategic purchases. Around Halloween we bought two leather club chairs using up our rewards points, and the balance qualified for 20% back if we used the Pottery Barn card we applied for when we bought the table. Usually you get 10% back, but we waited and waited and it paid off. From the chair purchase, we ended up with enough rewards to get a matching ottoman and a few other decorative items. Yesterday the ottoman arrived...and there was a weird surprise inside!

Zipped inside a secret pouch on the bottom was a white brick-shaped object wrapped up in many layers of bubble wrap and other wrapping. The package was tied into the ottoman holding it securely in place. Turns out the package just held 4 legs for the ottoman, but there was no explanation of that anywhere that I could find. Although it was only for a split second, I thought we were on the way to becoming the next drug kingpins, thanks Pottery Barn!

5. Finally, my green thumb is itching (tingling?) I just can't stop thinking about what plants and flowers I want to add this year. Last weekend I picked up a donkey's tail succulent which is currently enjoying a spot in the corner of our sunroom. I've got big plans for a small raised bed herb and vegetable garden (shhh don't tell our HOA) next to our back patio.