Sunday, April 15, 2012


I think the universe is conspiring to deliver a message in my life. This week I was making a sandwich and talking on the phone when a mishap occurred and half the bottle of dressing spilled all over the counter. I instantly belted out an expletive and then commenced cleaning. After wiping up the counter without much thought, I looked at the plate that was left and here's what I saw. Ryan and I laughed.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Pineapple Upsidedown Cake

I've had pineapple upside down cake on the brain lately. When we invited several friends over for a small dinner party and I knew wanted to make some kitschy, special dishes that seemed 1960's fabulous.

We decided on chicken breasts stuffed with goat cheese and fresh thyme (think homemade chicken cordon bleu), pan roasted asparagus, boiled red potatoes and this pineapple fabulousness. For some reason I only ended up with pictures of the cake and a few of us pounding out the chicken with a meat hammer before stuffing and rolling them up. So, I'll focus on the cake.

I used an internet recipe, credit to someone named Vetrusha here. I selected it because it called specifically for fresh pineapple, which I thought a must, and garnered many positive reviews. I had some trouble following this recipe the first time around and made some booboos. These mistakes changed the character of the cake, reducing the amount of browned carmelly goodness.

We served the first attempt to our guests and it tasted okay but didn't look very pretty. This afternoon I tried it again, making sure I followed the recipe to a T. Overall, I am happy with this recipe. I'm consistently amazed when I make a cake from scratch just how easy it is. I always find myself wondering why on earth we pay for pre-mixed box cakes which are inferior to a combination of simple items from the cupboard. Just to have the dry ingredients mixed ahead of time? Better living through chemistry? Who the heck knows.

While the second cake was more caramelized, in the future when I make this recipe I am going to put the caramel ingredients in the pan first and brown them in the oven for a few minutes before adding the other ingredients. I think the sticky, little bit chewy, caramely goodness is what makes this cake special and needs to be underscored.

Arranging the fruit in the pan. The recipe author says no maraschino cherries. I say, "Heck yes, maraschino cherries!"

Gooey caramel goodness.

Fluffing the egg whites.

Beautiful golden brown cake with caramel bubbling up the sides.

Finished product hot out of the oven and flipped.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Winter Blahs Photo Essay

Winter is just a dreary, rough time for me. I'm looking forward to our upcoming beach and mini-civil rights tour road trip. Until then here is a photo essay of a few things that have made me smile this January and February. You can see that cats, sunshine, french cooking and cocktails figure prominently. Also, I cannot forget to include the Hunger Games series, of which I have no pictures..."may the odds be ever in your favor."

What's going on out there?

Lovely bud vase from Poland.

Meet Tom Collins.

Wish I could curl up so tight.

Old Fashioned and French 75.

Artisinal mac and cheese.

Coq Au Vin on buttered noodles.

Sassy notes by hubby.

Old Fashioned redux.

Christmas cactus in bloom.

Gin, basil lemon bomb.

Somebody spoils this cat, and it ain't me.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Five-Spice Sesame Sliced Tuna & Avocado

Back in 2007 my Aunt gave me a Rachael Ray cookbook called "Just in Time" for my birthday. The whole premise is finding the right meal to fit in your available window of time: 15, 30 or 60 minutes. I have to admit I haven't used it as much as I could have, but the four or so recipes I've made have been absolutely scrumptious. A fact which reminds me that simply owning a cookbook library is not pays to read them too. I should take a cue from my hubby who reads them in bed like I read novels.

Tonight's pick was also most certainly scrumptious: Five Spice-Sesame Sliced Tuna & Avocado. Really easy, relatively inexpensive, minus the splurge on decent fish. I even left out the avocados by mistake and it was still nummy.

Slices of seared rare tuna steak encrusted with toasted sesame seeds and chives, all drizzled with a balsamic vinegar reduction.

1/3 cup aged balsalmic vinegar
3 T honey
1/4 cup tamari
2 avocados
juice of 1/2 lime
2 T vegetable oil
4 (6oz.) tuna steaks
2 t Chinese five-spice powder
black pepper
1/2 cup toasted sesame seeds
1/4 cup chopped chives
1/2 head napa cabbage, shredded

Combine vinegar, honey and tamari in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat and simmer for 6-7 minutes until syrupy. Remove from heat.

Halve and peel the avocados, slice them lengthwise, squeeze a bit of lime over them.

Heat oil in skillet over high heat. Season tuna with five-spice powder, salt and pepper. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes on each side for rare finish. Combine sesame seeds and chives in shallow bowl. Slice tuna in thick pieces and turn each slice in the sesame/chive mixture.

Scatter napa cabbage on plate, top with avocado, then tuna steak. Drizzle with dressing.

A little bit of rice on the side would have been a nice addition.

On a final note, neither of us made any firm resolutions this New Year's. However, we are now tracking every purchase in an online budgeting program and trying to stick to a budget. Our hope is to get our financial house in order so that we can be more free. Who wants to keep paying the man forever, right? Cooking at home is a natural corollary to this goal as we waste a lot of money eating out. So, you will likely see an even greater abundance of cooking posts, if you weren't already sick of 'em.

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Deviled Eggies

Made deviled eggs for the first time to take to a New Year's Eve party tonight. Used a recipe from a new tapas cookbook that my Mom gave me for Christmas. Made up my own little recipe for the second batch. Peeling boiled eggs is not easy! But after two dozen I think my technique is improved. Will provide recipes if anyone is interested.

Boiling the eggies.

Rolled anchoives and capers for one recipe.

Draining and cooling.

With anchovies, manchego, olives and lemon.

Traditional style with parsley pulled from the garden.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011


We purchased another vintage, mid-century piece of furniture last week from a shop out of Chicago where we've had a lot of luck. The owner, Cintia, dropped this gem off before we left for Christmas travels, but we've only now had time to get it situated.

Our second bedroom serves as a little study/library/barely used TV room. We had a hugely tall IKEA secretary that I liked, but it was just too imposing for the space. Having something half its size really opens up the room.

It's solid teak in two separate pieces. Very sturdy and in good condition. The lighting in this room is strange, but you get the general idea from the picture.

The front opens up and has three perfect little drawers with original hardware.

I'm adverse to sharing the shop info because it's been so good to us and is fairly reasonable. But, if you ask nicely and you truly like mid-century furniture, I may tell you. Wink.

Preparing for the Party

We spent the day getting ready for my small birthday shindig we're hosting tomorrow. Cleaning, organizing, making pizza dough, shopping.

I did some significant liquor cabinet restocking or shall I say, building, which included a special treat for Ry: ingredients for Sazeracs and one for me: cocktail spears! Maraschino cherries here I come.

Beer, check. Champagne punch supplies, check. Soda, check. Enough homemade pizza dough for ten pizzas, check.

This strange little Germany beauty is a birthday gift from our friends Andy and Cindy. It's a honey liqueur with a names that translates to "bear hunter". Check out the freaky looking bear on the label! Andy stopped by for a nice little visit this afternoon, since they can't make the party :(

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Ladies Day

I had a lovely afternoon with my mom, sister and aunt that included lunch, a pedicure and much talk. I'm not normally a big spa service person, but I had a wonderful time getting my toesies done. Thanks Mom! Ry says they look like bowling balls. Must be the purple glitter!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

New Additions

I don't know if it's the lack of light or what, but I haven't felt much like writing and I have been cranky and stressed leading up to these impending thirtieth birthday. All I can do at this point is post pics, hopefully soon I will be out of my funk. Or maybe I just need to get one of those winter happy lights.

There are a few new additions to our household this week. One is a lovely new piece of vintage furniture. Once we get it situated, I will definitely post pics. Merry Christmas to us on that purchase!

The others:

An early birthday present.

Lovely new hand embroidered dish towels from my boss.

A big ol' plant.

I offered to inherit a plant from some friends months and months ago when they brought it inside for winter. Apparently I failed to notice how absolutely HUGE it is. I think I'll need to get out a machete and give it a hair cut.

And lastly, all the new additions for other peoples' homes.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011