Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Happy 2014

I hope your New Year's celebration is everything you wish for!  I'm going to sip on a Champagne Cocktail (or two) and enjoy the company of some wonderful friends. 

Here's hoping for 2014:

What are your resolutions?

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Mushroom & Onion Pierogies

I have to admit, I've always been a bit put off by pierogies.  The idea of pasta stuffed with potatoes?  Sounds too starchy for me.  That is, until I had Mike's mom, Nadine's, pierogies.

Mike's mom is Russian and every year we celebrate Russian Christmas with a feast of a variety of pierogies and beef stroganoff.  Turns out, you can stuff pierogies with whatever your heart desires! My favorite are Nadine's sauerkraut and mushroom and onion, so I thought i'd give the latter a try.

Pierogies are great for a party because you can make them a few days in advance.  After you boil them, just cool them, refrigerate, then fry them up when you're ready to serve.  

Ingredients (1 dozen pierogies):
* 2 c. flour
* 1/2 tsp. salt
* 1/2 c. sour cream
* 2 eggs
* 1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced and chopped
* 4 oz baby bella mushrooms, sliced and chopped
* 2 tbsp. olive oil
Butter, for frying

To prepare the dough, whisk together eggs and sour cream.  In a separate bowl, combine flour and salt. Add the sour cream mixture to the dry ingredients and stir until just combined (if the dough isn't coming together, add a bit more sour cream, one tablespoon at a time).  Form the dough into a ball, wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes to an hour. 

Meanwhile, prepare the filling.  Heat a sauce pan over medium heat and add 1 tbsp. olive oil.  Add the onions and sauté until soft, about 10 minutes.  Add the mushrooms and sauté until soft, 2-3 more minutes (if the pan looks dry, add the second tablespoon of olive oil). 

Divide the dough in half and return half to the refrigerator.  Lightly flour your surface and roll out the dough to roughly 1/8 in. thickness.  Use a 4 inch round biscuit cutter to cut the circles.  Fill each circle with 1 tbsp. of the mushroom mixture (careful not to overstuff or they may burst open) and carefully fold the circles, pinching the edges to seal.  Repeat with the second half dough. 

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and boil the pierogies in two batches.  Boil for 2-3 minutes, or until the pierogies float (stop after this point if making in advance).  After the pierogies are boiled, heat a sauté pan to medium heat and add 1 tbsp. butter.  Fry the pierogies for 2 minutes per side, or until golden brown.  Serve with sour cream and ketchup.  Enjoy! 

Friday, December 13, 2013

Y&E: Holiday Home Edition

I'm just getting back in the swing of things after our beautiful wedding and a few much needed days of relaxation at the Grove Park Inn. I can't wait to share some pictures with all of you as soon as I get them!  The wedding was a winter-wonderland of sorts, complete with a beautiful gift-like cake, wonderful food, and of course champagne was flowing - what more could a girl ask for?  

I also can't wait to share some awesome new cooking products (no, i'm not paid for this) as I start to test out some amazing wedding gifts! So far I'm most excited about our outdoor pizza oven, bread maker, and ice cream maker..stay tuned for updates. 

In the meantime, I have not had one second to get settled or cook anything, but I wanted to share some of my holiday decorations! Thank heavens we decided to decorate pre-wedding so we have plenty of time to enjoy the holidays.

I'm in love with this gorgeous silver and lucite Kate Spade tray we recieved as a gift.  It looks fabulous with my Pottery Barn accessories (both the decanter and faux fur wine wrap).

I found these jingle bell napkin rings at C.Wonder- so fun!

Don't forget to dress up your bar cart for the holidays too. My friend Stephanie gave me the fabulously tacky Christmas sweater for my wine, and also the "Joy to the World" tidbit plates (also Pottery Barn).

Mike found us the perfect tree this year - its ginormous, and I love it! 

Fortunately, we have a separate living room for my little tree.  I collect all things sweet and I demand they have their own sweet-tree!
This is my original sweet-inspration: a hand painted 'sweet shop' that I snagged from my mom's Dickens Village. My Auntie Jane even hand painted the tiny sweets in the window.

I hope your holiday season is warm, wonderful and sweet!  Be back soon with a new recipe!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Maple Balsamic Candied Bacon

So as it turns out, wedding planning has a way of taking over your life.  I have done more advanced planning than I thought possible, but here I am going nuts with last minute details 4 days before the wedding!

I must apologize for the scattered posts lately, and I do promise to get back to blogging (and also plan to do less complaining about my healthy diet) later next week when I'm officially wifed-up and it will be time to relax!  BUT..before I go, I want to leave you with this gem of a recipe.  

You may remember me writing about the candied bacon pops I had at the Olive Cafe during restaurant week?  Well, I was determined to make them at home and I must say - I came pretty close!  I do realize, in retrospect, why they skewer the bacon, which I did not do.  It is incredibly sticky and you will be a mess if you eat it sans stick- but it's so worth it! 

For this project, I purchased a small bottle of Taste the Olive's Maple Balsamic Vinegar.  It adds that subtle maple flavor that goes so well with bacon, but if you don't want to invest in a bottle (it's about $12), you could always whisk a bit of maple syrup in plain balsamic for a similar effect.

I find that the absolute best way to cook bacon is in the oven.  I always start with a cold oven, turn it on 400 degrees, then walk away. 17-20 minutes later (watch closely) you will have crispy, mess-free bacon. 

This candied bacon is perfect on its own, but also made a great pizza topping with caramelized onions and bleu cheese.  Enjoy!

*8 strips thick cut bacon
*1/4 c. light brown sugar, packed
*1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
*2 tbsp. maple balsamic vinegar

Combine brown sugar and crushed red pepper in a shallow dish.  Lightly dredge the bacon in the sugar mixture and place on a foil lined cookie sheet.  Brush on a light coating of balsamic onto the bacon.  Transfer the bacon to a cold oven and turn the temperature to 400.  After 17 minutes, remove the bacon, use a fork to flip it, paint a bit more balsamic on, and return it to the oven for another 2-3 minutes.  Serve warm. 

Happy cooking and I'll get back to it when I'm MARRIED! eek!

Monday, November 25, 2013


Hi All!  Today I'm participating in another group giveaway - just in time for the holidays!.  Enter below to win $150 Target Gift card.

Magen ::: Kippy ::: Sarah Tara ::: Rachel ::: Emily Sevi ::: Kate a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Stuffing Muffins

So I'm sort of in a Thanksgiving slump this year.  As hard as I tried, I just could not find a time to host my annual Friendsgiving.  As excited as I am to be getting married in 16 days (but who's counting), I was feeling pretty blue that due to so many wedding related activities and trips home, I just couldn't work it out.

Fortunately, my office mates decided to have an office-giving, so I still got to cook some festive food and enjoy a plethora of carbohydrates, which made for a particularly challenging afternoon of meetings and emails.

These Stuffing Muffins turned out great.  I went with a classic herb mixture and a good, crusty italian bread.  The key is letting the bread get slightly stale, then drying it out in the oven.  The dryer the bread, the more moisture it absorbs!  I even made these in advance and reheated them on "warm" in the crock pot and they stayed crispy and fresh.  Enjoy!

* 10 c. Italian bread, cubed (I used one big round loaf)
* 2 tbsp. butter
* 1.5 c. onions, chopped
* 1 c. celery, chopped
* 1 tablespoon sage, minced
* 1 tablespoon thyme, minced
* 2-3 c. chicken stock, warm
* 1 egg

Preheat oven to 400.  Add bread cubes to oven and toast 5-8 minutes, until slightly dry.  Remove from oven, set aside, and reduce oven temperature to 350.

Meanwhile, heat a saute pan over medium heat and add butter.  When butter is melted, add onions and celery and saute until translucent, 8 minutes or so.  When the onion mixture is done, season generously with salt and pepper and add thyme and sage.  Add the onion mixture to the bread cubes, as well as the egg and chicken stock (start by adding 1 cup, stir, then add a second, until the bread is all moist but not soggy).  Stir well to combine, then set aside for 30 minutes and let the bread soak up the moisture.  Spray muffin generously with cooking spray, then scoop stuffing into pans.  Bake for 30 minutes, or until lightly golden brown.  Cool for at least 10 minutes before removing from the pan.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Thanksgiving: Set the Table

There's nothing I love more than a great themed party or table.  My problem is, my taste changes so much from day to day.  Sometimes I love vintage charm, other times modern glam - it really just depends on my mood.

Lately, I've been all about metallic. These pieces could easily transition from Thanksgiving through the holidays. 

Thanksgiving Glam

I also really appreciate a rustic Thanksgiving table.  Mixing in natural pieces, like gourds and pine cones, is a great way to save money and stay on theme. 

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Crock Pot Chicken

A few weeks ago, my bridesmaids hosted the most amazing bridal shower for me at The Basics (my fave!). The food and the company were both wonderful and i'm still holding onto the excitement from utilizing all the new kitchen gadgets i'm starting to aquire from my registry.

One of my favorite gifts was a 6 quart crock pot.
When I saw the size of that crock pot I thought to myself, "I could put a whole chicken in this thing!" And guys, that's exactly what I did.

I think you all know by now i'm a huge fan of a simple roasted chicken.  There's just something so warm and comforting about it.  Unfortunately with the weather getting chillier and the days shorter, I barely seem to have the stamina to make it through an 8 hour work day, let alone wait 2 hours for a chicken to roast.  This chicken, however, is ready and waiting for you when you get home at night.  It's moist, flavorful, and falls right off the bone.  What could be better?

* 1 4-5 lb. chicken
* 1 lemon, quartered
* 3 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
* 2 tbsp. herbs de provence (this is a yummy herb mixture you can find with the spices)
* olive oil cooking spray
* salt, pepper

Remove the giblets from the chicken.  Pat the chicken dry with a paper towel, then place the lemon and garlic cloves inside the chicken and place the chicken in the crock pot. Spray the chicken with cooking spray, season liberally with salt, pepper, and herbs de provence.  Cook on low heat for 8 hours, or up to 10 hours.  Enjoy!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Mashed Butternut Squash

I'm feeling inspired this week to incorporate more seasonal produce in my diet.  This is a great article form CNN on power foods for fall, including seasonal squash, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, sweet potatoes and more.

Butternut squash is really like a less-sweet first cousin of the pumpkin. I love using this mashed squash as ravioli filling (with brown butter and sage), or on its own as a festive fall side.  This can be made in a snap with the help of pre-cut squash you can find in most stores these days.

* 32 oz butternut squashed, cut into one inch cubes
* 1/2 yellow onion, diced
* 2 tbsp. olive oil
* salt, pepper
* 2 tbsp. Parmesan cheese
* 1/4 tsp. ground cumin
* 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
* 1/4 tsp. cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375.  Combine squash and onion on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and a season with salt and pepper.  Roast for 30 minutes, or until the squash is fork tender.  Add the squash mixture to a mixing bowl and add Parmesan, cumin, garlic powder, and cinnamon.  Stir well to combine, then use an immersion blender (or regular blender, in batches) to puree until you reach the consistency of mashed potatoes.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Give Away!

Hi All!  Today I'm joining some fabulous bloggers in a $225 Kate Spade Giveaway!  I think we all know and love Kate Spade bags, shoes, and purses, but I'm a particularly big fan of KS Home wares (including my Wedding China as you know). Be sure to enter for your chance to win and find some great blogs along the way!


 Ashley ::::: Melyssa ::::: Lindsay ::::: Caroline ::::: Steph ::::: Allie ::::: Magen ::::: Kippy ::::: Kayla ::::: Paulina ::::: Sevi a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Restaurant Week

So Candied Spiced Bacon Pops happened...

That's a sure fire sign that RESTAURANT WEEK is here!  Only my favorite week of the year that doesn't involve gifts.  

My first stop was the Olive Cafe.  I've been dying to try it since they opened.  I had these bacon pops as my first course and let me just say, they did not disappoint.  Crisp-yet-chewy bacon, drizzled with a sweet maple-balsamic glaze and spiced just right - how could you go wrong?  I'm definitely going to attempt to reproduce these at home. 

We followed with truffled mac n cheese, ham and pimento cheese toasties, and a delightful pumpkin bar for dessert. 

Have you made any restaurant week stops? My vote is we turn this into Restaurant Month next time around! 

Monday, October 21, 2013

Tomato Soup

The crisp fall air has finally arrived!  With the fall chill comes my inspiration for those yummy, hearty transitional foods that carry us through winter.  I, of course, am extremely cold natured, so I could reasonably eat soup any day of the year.  Mike, however, refuses to eat soup if he is even the slightest bit warm.  This tomato soup is his absolute favorite, so after he excitedly declared yesterday that soup weather had arrived, I knew this recipe would be my first stop.

This soup could not be easier to put together. Sometimes I like to puree it (before I add the noodles of course), and sometimes I leave it chunky – you really can’t go wrong either way.  For something a little more decadent, try adding a splash of heavy cream and some chopped fresh basil.  Yum!

* 2 tbsp. olive oil
* 1 yellow onion, finely diced
* 2 garlic cloves, minced
* 1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
* 32 oz (4 cups) chicken stock
* 1 c. ditalini, orzo, or star pasta
* salt, pepper
* parmesan cheese, for garnish

In a large pot or dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium heat and add onions.  Saute the onions for five minutes or so, until soft.  Add the garlic and saute one minute.  Add the tomatoes and chicken stock and season with salt and pepper.  Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 15 minutes or so.  Meanwhile, prepare the pasta according to package directions.  Add the cooked pasta to the soup and serve, garnished with Parmesan.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Halloween Decor

I must admit, I've never been particularly big on Halloween decor, but as it turns out, I am marrying a man who is nothing short of obsessed with Halloween.  I wish I were joking, but he actually wanted to wait until October 2014 to get married because next year, Halloween will be on a Friday.  I'm certain that he was envisioning an entire wedding party in costume. 

Of course, I had to burst that bubble, so instead I have accepted his enthusiastic holiday spirit as my own.  After all, if there's one thing I DO love, it's a themed party. 

Gourds are a fall staple and at about 50 cents a pop, they won't break the bank. 

Target is really in the spirit this year - they've organized all of their potentially 'dark' wines, like this Apothic Dark, and put them in the Halloween section so they're easy to find. I found the witch hat wine topper last year at Pottery Barn, hopefully they have more this year!

I'm also loving these wine labels I found in the dollar bins at Target - 4 for a dollar? Can't be that!

More from Target!  Loving these paper plates and napkins I found for my annual pumpkin carving party.

I loved this glass pumpkin candy jar, which reminded me of one my mom always had when I was little.  Try to act surprised- I found it at Target!

I just love a festive straw.  I found these at Sur la Table, though you can really find paper straws anywhere these days.

I made the mistake of taking Mike to Michael's with me (Halloween excitement overload), where he promptly found this door mat.  After a thirty minute debate, we chose this pattern!

Bails of hay are also adding to our outdoor decor.  We found these at a nursery in Ogden (along with the pumpkins - Roscoe was separate) and they were only $20 for 4 bails.

Now we wait!