Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

From Mom & Dad's kitchen circa 1988 with Michael one of my best lil' buddies growing up!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Halloween Cupcakes

Last Sunday we had a few people for dinner and I whipped up some Halloween decorated cupcakes.  I wanted them to look like these from Williams-Sonoma:
I made a half batch of chocolate cupcakes using one of Ina Garten's recipies, then a vanilla frosting and chocolate ganache from my Better Homes and Gardens cookbook using proportions for the amount I though I would need.
Half I frosted with vanilla and half I dipped in the chocolate. Then I used yellow and red food coloring to make the vanilla frosting orange and put it in a sandwich bag, the chocolate ganache was also put in a sandwich bag.
On the vanilla frosting I piped a swirl with the chocolate then used a tooth pick to gently pull through the lines to create a spiderweb. On the chocolate Iganache pipped a pumpkin, I whish I had made a little green or brown to make the stems a different color but I think they were cute!
If you don't like baking from scratch just use cake mix, and premade frosting, I'm even pretty sure that I saw premade ganache with the premade frosting.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Halloween Decor

Everyone seems to be filling glass vases in a sort of topiary, parfiet type of way.  So I made my own for zero dollars.
Two foam skulls (from mom last Halloween), skewer, vase, glass, leaves, glue.
I used the glass to hold up the first skull, I used the skewer in the top of the first skull to hold the second skull up.
 It was trial and error with the leaves, at first I just dumped them in but they weren't falling the way I wanted them to.  I glued them together creating the opening I needed to see the bottom skull and look pretty.  I love the way it came out!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

DIY: Pumpkin

If you noticed yesterday there was a pumpkin in the china cabinet.  I made it following instructions I found here through A Diamond in the Stuff.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Festive for Fall

Now that most of the fall cleaning is done I pulled the few decorations we had, added what my mom sent and made a few! Here's the dinning room all done:

I'll have the specifics for the projects up soon!
The centerpiece is composed of three pillar candles, two of which I wrapped with ribbon from the dollar store and a few gourds I picked up on the runner I grabbed out of season last year at the Christmas Tree Shop for two dollars. Here's a better view:

Monday, October 25, 2010

Cont: The Tree Adventure

Bruce spent most of Saturday breaking up the tree, check here and here to see where we've been so far with it.  I helped with a little splitting and stacking, we also added another pile in the back near the truck. 
Its pretty amazing to see how the colors in the yard have changed in just one week!

Friday, October 22, 2010

Being a Squirrel: The last installment.

Somehow, I forgot to take any photos of the sauce making, maybe, it was being covered (and covering the kitchen) by tomatoes. 

I started with twenty pounds of Roma tomatoes.  I purchased them for twelve dollars at the farm stand down the street.

I peeled them, by scoring the skin, placing them in a pot of boiling water for a minute then placing them in an ice water bath.

Once peeled I seeded and cored them.  I saved the peels, seeds, etc. in a strainer over a bowl.

After the first few batches I roughly chopped two onions and four cloves of garlic and let them soften in my biggest pot with some olive oil, salt and pepper. Then back to the tomatoes.  Once they had softened I added the tomatoes.

In another pot I put the peels, etc. once the strainer was full to cook the remaining flesh from the peels and cores. Occasionally smushing them with a wooden spoon.

Once all the tomatoes had been processed I added dried spices to the mixture: basil, parsley, oregano and marjoram. Then I let everything simmer for a very long time. After a while I took the pot with the peels and cores, and pressed out the sauce through a strainer.  I did this in batches so that I could discard the remaining skin and seeds and get the most out of them.  I added this to the big pot with the tomatoes. 

After everything had simmered for hours I used a hand blender to break down the tomato flesh then let it simmer until it reached the consistency I wanted, adjusting the spices as I went. I canned four quarts but I probably made five and used one before they were canned.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

First Fire

Tuesday night we had our first fire in the fireplace of the winter.  We ate chilli and watched the last two episodes of Rome. Which I highly recommend. 

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Home made soup? Yes please!

I've had the sniffles for about a week and a half.  I used the left over turkey stock to make some turkey noodle soup. Yum.  Definetly help my sniffles and if you don't have turkey stock, use chicken!
Don't you feel better already?

Turkey Noodle Soup

1 Turkey thigh
3 Sprigs fresh thyme
5 Sage leaves
1/2 medium onion, diced
2 carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 cups turkey stock
spash white wine
1 small hand full spaghetti
salt, pepper and spices to taste

  • Poach the turkey thigh in the stock with fresh herbs.
  • While turkey is cooking, prepare and saute the onions carrots and celery in the bottom of your soup pot with a little oil and salt and pepper to taste.
  • Once turkey is done, remove the meat and cut into bite sized pieces. 
  • Deglaze veggies with white wine then add turkey meat to soup pot.
  • Remove fresh herbs from poaching pan, then add stock to soup pot and bring to a boil.
  • Once soup is boiling break spaghetti into thirds and add to soup, once pasta is cooked it's ready to go!

If you don't like dark meat, use breast meat I used it because it was on sale.

If you prefer to be alcohol free, deglaze with a ladel-full of stock.

The amount of stock is a guess, it will also have more concentrated flavor due to the poaching.  I'm pretty sure I added water before the pasta and there was no loss of flavor.  If you like lots of broth then use more, if not use less.

Use whatever pasta is open in your pantry, or whatever your favorite is.

Spice things up!  Some suggestions: red pepper flakes, cumin, curry . . .  the possibilites are endless!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Adventure: Marathon

The ING Hartford Marathon was 2 weekends ago (10/9) we were up at 5:30, the culmination of months of training, heading to Hartford so the boys could run.
This was just before I collected sweatshirts and wished them luck. 

The race started at the capital, at this point I was fighting off some serious anxiety, trying very hard not to cry.

Runners off, still trying not to cry (alone, in public).  I saw the boys at miles six and eight, then wondered around Hartford, watched the half marathoners finish and collected friends and family that came to watch the finish.  I didn't take any photos I was to preoccupied with finding the boys among the runners. 
Bruce finished in four hours, two minutes, I didn't manage to get a photo of my own he was going to fast! Tim four, twenty five; and Ron four, fifty-eight. I'm so proud of them all!

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Tree Adventure Continues

So we are slowly making our way through the massive tree down in our back yard.  And by we I mean Bruce and his brother Tim.  Bruce took this photo Wednesday, it's a good scale for how big the tree is.
 That's Tim, Me and Kenny.
This is the progress that was made over the weekend, it's getting there.  Hopefully after this coming weekend we'll have a yard again!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

How to be a Squirrel

The first thing I made was the turkey stock, honestly it was because two sets of turkey bones took up a third of our fridge. It's made the same way as chicken stock, check that out here
The second thing I made were the baked beans, with a bone from a Honey Baked Ham. My biggest conundrum was what to cook them in, I needed something that was large enough in diameter to fit the bone but also that I could put in the oven.  My 12 inch skillet fit the bill, but the handle is plastic and the cover is glass. 

I McGuyver-ed it. 
There is one screw that holds the handle onto the the pot, so I removed it and I used to much water so I never needed a cover, but it I had tin foil would have worked.


The recipe is below, I made a double batch, which made 5 pints with some leftovers.  It probably would have been 6 but I burnt the bottom while I was reheating them to hot pack them.  Also if you don't have a ham bone, salt pork is an acceptable substitute.

Baked Beans

1 (16 ounce) packages dried navy beans
2 teaspoons salt
3/8 cup (6 tbsp) dark molasses
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons real maple syrup
1/2 tablespoon dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon pepper
small onion
2-3 whole cloves
1 meaty ham bone

1. Prepare beans: Rinse well and discard any stones or shriveled beans.
2. Soak beans in water in a 5 quart Dutch oven, using the overnight or quick soak method.
Overnight Method: Cover each cup of dried beans with 3 cups of water; let stand for a minimum of 12 hours.
Quick Soak Method: Add beans to boiling water, allowing 3 cups of water for each cup of beans, bring back to the boil and boil for 2 minutes; remove from heat, cover and leave for an hour, then cook in same water.
3. Bring mixture to a boil, add salt, reduce heat, cover and simmer for an hour.
4. Stir in molasses, brown sugar, maple syrup, mustard and pepper.
5. Stud the onion with the cloves; tuck onion & ham bone into the beans.
6. Cover and bake in a 250F oven for about 7 hours; check & stir about once an hour.
7. Add more water to keep beans moist but not too wet OR remove lid to thicken mixture through evaporation; it all depends on your preference for thick or runny!
8. Discard cloves, chop onion and return to mixture.
9. Remove meat from ham bone and return to mixture.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Side Bar Update

Take a look to the right.
I've renamed and updated the "Projects" list. 

Landscaping - stand still - #1. gaint tree across the backyard  #2 we need a new roof, the installment of which would kill anything near the house.
Waterproofing the basement - I need more Drylok and a gas mask.
Master Bedroom - I have a plan.  We need a few pieces of furniture and paint.
Remove Wallpaper - Steamy, messy, tedious will involve moving all the living room furniture and the TV
Breezeway - needs fabrics and some organization, I'm also thinking about doing something to the floor ala YHL
Thesis - needs to be bound

Major Issue = Lack of funds hopefully to be fixed in the near future.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

I'm like a squirrel

Storing things away for winter!  Even though the garden was pretty much a bust I spent all last week canning after raiding mom and dad's freezer (or hearing take that stuff or I'm throwing it away!) and buying 20 pounds of plum tomatoes from the farm stand down the road for $12.
14 Quarts of Turkey Stock
5 Pints of Baked Beans
4 Quarts of Marinara Sauce

Look for details, recipies and weekend adventures soon!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Missing Adventures

Things seem to happen when I go away.  Like a giant tree branch falling and narrowly missing our house and Bruce sending this photo to my phone with the caption Well that was close
This, of course, meant that the rest of the tree (to the left) needed to come down as well. So when Kenny and I came home Friday, this was the first thing we saw.
Once we got outside to the right was the trunk.
 And to the left was the bulk of the top of the tree.
The good news, this tree was the major culprit blocking the sun from the garden and even better when Bruce fell the rest of the tree it missed my tomato plants!  The bad news, pretty much our entire backyard is a tree and it is supposed to rain all week.