Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Friday, November 25, 2011

Bread, Bread & Another Bread

My mom is no cook. Sorry, Mom, you do make some great dishes but I think even you would recognize that we are not a family that is accustomed to homemade meals on usual basis. However, she is a baker. Growing up, I distinctly remember her baking: cookies, brownies, cake and more. But what I remember most are her delicious breads. I mean DELICIOUS. I once had a friend who offered to marry my brother just for her banana bread recipe. 

So this Thanksgiving, we made breads together. My Aunt Lee's pumpkin bread and my mom's banana and cranberry nut bread. So fear not, no one needs to marry my brother, although they should, he's a pretty damn good catch, I've trained him well after putting up with me for all these years. for these recipes because I'm sharing them with you now. Our next door neighbors also baked up a delicious Trader Joe's Corn Bread, which I HIGHLY suggest, and doctored it up with Jalapenos and Cheddar Cheese.

Side note: I apologize for the lack of posting this week, I will catch up!!

Look at my mom's pretty new present I got her.

Note to self: in the process of making all this bread, I realized I needed a microplane zester for my apartment if anyone wants to buy me one.

Oh and don't worry office, I'm bringing in some to our staff meeting on Monday!

Pumpkin Bread

2 2/3 cup Sugar
2/3 Cup of Margarine
4 eggs
2/3 cup water
1 can of Pumpkin Puree (I swear by Libby's)
3 1/3 cup Flour
1/2 tsp of Baking Powder
2 tsp of Baking Soda
1 1/2 stp of Salt
1 tsp of Salt
1 tsp of Cinnamon
1 tsp of Ground Cloves
Nuts & Raisins are optional
Cream Sugar & Margarine until fluffy. Add eggs, water & pumpkin.
Sift together dry ingredients and add to the pumpkin mixture.
Add nuts, optional.
Pour into 2 large greased bread loaf pans and fill 2/3 of the way.
Bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees.

Cranberry-Nut Bread

2 cups Flour
1/2 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1 cup Sugar
1 egg beaten
1 tsp salt
4 tbsp Butter (We use Margarine cause it's Lactose Free, I buy Fleishman's, mom buys Promise)
3/4 cup of Fresh Orange Juice
1 tbsp Orange Zest
1/2 cup of Chopped Nuts
1 to 2 cups of Cranberries (1/2 a bag)

Sift together flower, sugar, baking soda, baking powder & salt.
Cut in the butter until like cornmeal
Combine orange juice, orange peal and beaten egg & Pour over the dry ingredients just to dampen the mixture.
Carefully fold in the nuts & cranberries.
Spoon into greased loaf pans and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

ANDDD MOM's WORLD FAMOUS, I doubt it but it should be, Banana Bread. Nana, this may be yours as well, we aren't sure but its GOOOD.

1 1/4 cup of Sugar
1/2 cup Margarine
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp Baking Soda
4 heaping tbsps of Sour Cream
2 bananas, slightly brown, mashed
1 1/2 cups of flour
1/4 tsp of Salt

Cream together Sugar, Margarine and 2 eggs. Add baking soda and sour cream.
Add in mashed bananas, flour and salt.
Put in a greased pan loaf and bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

5 things

that I'm thankful for today, and that are great about being at home.

This little guy.

This view off the back deck.

 This Salad, the Fatoush Salad from Salem Kebob

My pseudo-siblings living next door

Spending time with this one
 and this one
and this one.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Home Sweet Home

In honor of my first trip home to my parent's new and beautiful house on the lake, and because I stumbled upon this in the move, I'm sharing a vignette I wrote while taking Modern American Lit, my sophomore year in high school. The project required that we write a certain amount of similes and metaphors so please disregard the lame comparisons. Hellllooo, Dr. Yasuna!

The Tudor Among Colonials

I've lived in 3 houses in my life, one house on Spruance Way, one house on Michael Way and one house on Alonesos Way. I've lived in other houses but Alonesos has always been my only home. It is nestled back on the corner of Lovejoy and Alonesos, a quaint brown and white English Tudor amongst sprawling colonials. It's a storybook house where my family and I have made a storybook life.

I've always wanted a house like everyone else's: one color with normal shutters, and maybe even a white picket fence. My house has none of these. It's dark and scary to walk into at night with the small lanterns barely lighting the walkway. I often laugh when spelling it out for people like I'm calling, Alone S.O.S. I am Gretel being lured into my own house. While my mother never understands how I can't find our house as beautiful as she. I've come to realize it stands out as it exudes beauty from within. It is our home, not just a house.

Our home is not so scary, aside from the dead room, the monster in the basement, and my closet.  It is like a warm blanket, filled with comfort, warmth and support. Getting back to my "house," this is where the scary stuff is. We have a room known to my parents as the "study" but I know better than that. I avoid the room like the plague. I know it as the dead room. While intellectually I know that is is just a room filled with portraits of ancestors, I know truthfully all those ancestors are actually in the room watching me as I traverse through it to go upstairs much like the ghosts in the Haunted Mansion. And the basement, that's where David, my brother, and I know my parents have hidden the monster.  However, the monster only comes out when one leaves. You have to be careful when ascending the stairs. Do so quickly, or else, he'll catch you. I should warn you about my closet as well. There too lurks a monster. He is known for eating babysitters and shoes alike. Very few have made it out alive.

There is a lot of stuff in our house: papers, books, pictures, shoes and monsters. But there is also a lot of stuff in our home: people, noise, possessions, memories, love and laughter.

So  as I sit in my parent's house writing this blog, on our beautiful kitchen counter, surrounded by my mom, dad and older brother, inside a house that also does not have normal shutters, I realized something. My house may have changed but my home certainly has not.

Plus, the new house has a pretttty damn good view.

(I apologize, these photos were taken this winter, no no snow on the ground although it was flurrying. as I walked across the yard from my bestest friend's house, yes she lives next door, and it was raining out all day so I didn't want to venture outside to get new shots)

DISH: Quotable

-Chicago Magazine

Thursday, November 17, 2011

5 things

that are random, super random.

1. I realized the other day that I have a few too many things in common with Jerry Seinfeld. A HUGE collection of cereal going on all at once. A odd relationship to Jason Alexander (he's my second cousin once removed, right? dad?) and a little bit of OCD, although mine is not nearly as bad as his.

2. The other night when I was walking to the Museum of Contemporary Art for the Food & Wine Event, I looked over and saw the Christmas lights in the park across the street were lit up. I also realized the Church across Michigan Avenue was also lit up too. There's absolutely nothing I love more than Christmas lights...especially lit up in a beautiful city!

 3. However, to me there is a fine line between Christmas Lights and Christmas Time, which I think should not be observed until the day after Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year. To clarify, I love pretty white christmas lights, like the ones I saw in the city the other night. I do not love christmas music, decorations and Santa hats on baristas anytime before Dec 1. Today, I spent 6 hours working from Starbucks, listening to Christmas & New Year's Music and being served on by baristas dressed up as elves all in a highly decorated Starbucks. Not ok.

 4. Sometimes at work I become our resident photographer. My co-workers send me to the restaurants to use my fancy camera and get a good shot of something we need for the media. On Monday, I was sent to LuxBar to get a photo of their Autumn Harvest Salad. Upon leaving, the host told me it was mine to take and when I said no thanks, told me I just had to cause other wise it would go to waste but he'd pack it up for me! Hello, dinner! Thank you Host. This salad is GOOD: Brussels sprout leaves, barb never served us Brussels sprouts cause she hates them and recently they've been popping up everywhere and I really dig 'em, argula, beet chips, pumpkin seeds, butternut squash, craisins, mushrooms, which I don't normally like but were AWESOME here, and bacon with a bacon-mustard vinaigrette. If you aren't rushing over to LuxBar, either you're not in Chicago or you're crazy.

Side note: Doesn't Host, a male hostess, just sound funny? Thoughts?

 5. I'm going home on Saturday, which is 2 short days away, although with all the work I have to do, this week seems to be dragging on. Vacations are stressful, you gotta do so much extra work just to prepare for them! BUT I cannot wait to see that guy. Isn't he a cutie? Yes, I'm making a face at his picture and talking to him like he's real, sometimes I do that on the phone with him. Barb puts him on and while he doesn't talk back, he does kiss the phone.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Perks of the Trade

I love my job. It's one thing I can really say even if everything else was crap. No, nothing else is crap. But I was just using it as an example. While it's fun, different every day and pretty much exactly what I wanted to be doing, it also has some pretty great perks.
  • Cutting the lines at restaurants
  • Getting some great reservations
  • Free meals, here and there
  • Getting to know the greatest chefs in this city
  • And more...
This past Monday night was one such benefit. I got to go to Food & Wine Magazine's 2011 Entertaining Showcase! It is the premiere event for Chicago Dining Scene. If you're a foodie in the city of Chicago, it's the place to be. And yes, I consider myself a foodie in Chicago. 

Somehow, Food & Wine convinced anybody who is anybody on the Restaurant Scene, give or take a few--didn't seen any Rock It's or Lettuce Entertain You, was at the event. I'm talking the Chefs you see on TV and hear about when you read magazines. They were all there...
  • Grant Achatz
  • Stephanie Izard
  • Sarah Gruenberg
  • Martial Noguier
  • Jason Paskewitz
  • David Posey
  • Guiseppe Tentori
  • Graham Elliot Bowles
  • Art Smith
To name a few...

I got the tickets through work as three of my restaurants were participating and I was live tweeting and photographing for them. But I did get to eat my way around. Each restaurant brought a 1000 tasting portions of a food item representative of their restaurant. There was braised veal cheek, pork belly sandwiches, cheesecakes, lobster corn dogs, oysters and SO much more.

It was heaven. Jealous?

Jason Paskewitz & Ryan O'Donnell of Rustic House & Gemini Bistro

Stephanie Izard, who I kind of have beef with cause I can't get a reservation into her restaurant, Girl & a Goat. 

Rey Villalobos & Geo, Table fify-two. Their Boss, Art, was meandering around causing a commotion around him.

Martial Noguier of Bistronomic.

Monday, November 14, 2011

A Confession

I have a confession.
I cheated.

...on my hair stylist.

I've been going to Donna for as long as I can remember. That's a lie. First their was Amy. But when Amy left Andover for another town, I started using Donna, my mom's hairstylist. So she has been cutting my hair since I was about 7 and coloring it since, well, I started coloring my hair.

Even through 4 years out in Madison, Wisconsin, I never really trusted anyone with my hair. Hair cuts were always scheduled for trips home. For an inpatient person, that means a lot. I took the time at home, which wasn't often much, to sit in the hair dressers chair for about 2 hours.

*confession: I've cheated once before but it wasn't serious, no chance at leaving Donna for Nogginz's $20 haircut that was NEEDED before graduation...NEEDED.

But this time it was serious. So serious, I've been converted. Now I'm all about Maxine. Maxine Salon that is and Stacie and Brittney specifically. Stacie balayaged my hair and Brittney gave me one the greatest cuts I've ever gotten. To top it off, I usually dont like my hair until I do it myself. Hairstylists usually overdo it with too much volume and curl under the bottoms a little too much. But Brittney, who likes to make sure that every one of client's LOOKS AMAZING when they walk out the door, gotta impress other clients, duh!, ran a straightner through my hair and I LOVED IT. It looked fantastic and felt fantastic (SHOUT OUT to Kerastase & Shu Umera also, yes I'm a convert there as well, the special treatments post coloring made all the difference)

So I apologize Donna but it's not you, it's Maxine.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Someone said.

I don't do well with change. So I thought this one was interesting.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Spiced Pumpkin Soup

HAPPY 11.11.11 DAY! MAKE A WISH!! In today's honor: I bring you another quote, which I think has been my successful New Year's Resolution This Year. As loosing my senior sixty, no I did NOT gain 60 lbs senior year, but I should have, clearly did not happen since May.

And now I bring you: THIS WEEK'S SOUP.

After much debating, between this soup and making a Carrot & Parsnip Puree Soup, that will be next week's most likely, I decided on this Spiced Pumpkin Soup. And this soup even comes from my soup book. So we're 1 soup away and about 100 to go! Guess that gives us another 2 years of soups! I don't hate it!

So first thing's first. I had to buy one pie pumpkin. That was the easy part. Then I had to seed and peel it. That was the hard part. What I did: I cut off the top and bottom so I had a flat base to deal with and then cut the pumpkin right down the middle. I pulled out all the seeds with my hand and then scrapped the spaghetti squash like part out using a grape fruit spoon. My arms are sore from this entire process.

 I then cut up an onion and garlic.

And allowed that to saute in olive oil.

Meanwhile, I cut up 1 small Red Chile Pepper. Now, when doing this, you have to remember you're dealing with spices. I.e. don't touch anything. What I did was cut off the top and cut the pepper in half then pulled out the seeds under water. I then cut up the pepper. In the process, I probably washed my hands about a half dozen times. However, I still found a way to accidentally touch my finger to my mouth, which wasn't fun. And taking out my contacts about 4 hours later, also not fun.

Another great thing about this whole cooking for a blog idea is that I'm cooking more, which I love to do. However, with cooking more, I'm slowly realizing what things I still do not have in my kitchen, which is really ridiculously hard to believe that there may be something I don't have. The first time I cooked, I realized I didn't have a peeler. Anyway, this time, as I cut off the skin of the ginger, by the way, ginger skin is really easy to cut off just gently use a knife as a peeler, I prefer a knife in this case as it's gentler, it was not that I did not have a peeler, this time. What I realized I didn't have was a zester. I was going to zest the ginger instead of chopping it, but no zester here. Note: things to buy. Side note: I also really want a misto.

After everything was cut up and the onions and garlic were sauteed, I added all the ingredients I had chopped and a bay leave to the pot and allowed that to sit for 3 mins.
Then added Vegetable Broth. By the way, I think this recipe may be vegan. But I have 0 idea. This all cooked for 30 min or until the pumpkin was soft. It was probably about 40 cause I'm forgetful and didn't set a timer.

And thennnn, I got to use a product my aunts got me! My Immersion Blender! This has to be my favorite kitchen tool, just has to be.

TAD DAAA! After it's blended you season it. I took a taste of it and actually found it to be kind of bland. NO I was not expecting this AT ALL. So I took to my spice rack, or cabinet in my case and played. First came salt & pepper, not enough, then came cinnamon, not enough, then came ginger, getting better, then some nutmeg, all spice and almost there....and AH, pumpkin pie spice. That was the perfect combo! Can't wait to try this one for lunch today!

Spiced Pumpkin Soup (Courtesy of Soup Bowl from LOVE FOOD)

2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 tbsp chopped fresh ginger
1 small red chile, seeded & finely chopped
2 tbsp chopped cilantro (I omitted this step, cilantro tastes like soap)
1 bay leaf
2 lb 4 oz pumpkin, peeled, seeded & diced (in this recipe, you can use puree as you eventually will puree the whole soup)
2 1/2 cups of Vegetable Stock
Salt & Pepper (I also used Cinnamon, Ginger, All Spice, Nutmeg & Pumpkin Pie Spice.

Heat oil in sauce pan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook for about 4 minutes. Add ginger, chile, cilantro, bay leaf and pumpkin and cook for another 3 mins. 

Pour in stock and bring to a boil. Use a slotted spoon and skin foam from surface. Reduce heat and simmer gently, stirring occasionally for 25 min, or until pumpkin is tender. Remove from heat, take out bay leaf and let cook for a little.

Transfer to a food processor or blender (this is where I used immersion blender) and process until smooth. Return the mixture to the bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste. Reheat and it's ready to go! 

The book also recommends garnishing with light cream....LACTOSE INTOLERANT over here so I'm going to pass on this but if you don't let me know what you thought!!

 BONUS: The greatest part about this recipe may have been the pumpkin seeds that I put aside when I was dealing with the pumpkin. I decided I HAD to roast them. So while the soup was cooking, I rinsed and dried them then placed them on a baking sheet. I decided to make them a Make Hungry-Girl Proud way so I used PAM Butter Spray, Sugar Splenda Blend and Salt for a salty-sweet treat. And Damn, they were a treat.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

5 things

Or in this case, looks, that I'm diggin'. And what I got to do 'em.

Knee High Socks with boots.
 I got some at Marshall's on Sunday in grey, brown and a cute black.

Classic Look
All I needed was the Grey Dress. So I got one...This one at Madewell.

The Bun.
I saw this tutorial. So Sunday, I bought a sock for it.

 Camel Leather Jacket. Check.
White Tee. Check.
Red Scarf. Check.
Big Sunglasses. Check. Check.
Just bought a similar hat are Forever.

 Classic yet Trendy.
Just needed a striped skirt. Toooo easy at Urbn.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

It's a sad day.

Not only is it dreary, dark and rainy out but also I woke up to this email.
Official status: ALUMNI.

And yes, the UW Foundation is already sending me letters asking for money. If I had loans, thanks Mom & Dad, I'd be a little more pissed off than amused.

For those of you who do not know how to contact me anymore:
 @carlyonqueue on twitter

Monday, November 7, 2011

Roasted Peppers and Mozzarella Salad

Look at this, 2 recipes in 1 week, that is that I make a soup this week. I'm debating a pumpkin lentil with a parsnip and carrot soup for this week. Thoughts?

So I think I've already said this. But I'm not good at following recipes. At least when cooking, not baking, it matters then, sort of. With cooking, however, I use the recipes more as inspiration. So when I stumbled on this recipe on Smitten Kitchen, I was immediately hungry and knew I had the ingredients I would need.

Not only did it look delicious but it was so pretty. I love a pretty dish. So I made it, in my own way.

I roasted the peppers. The recipe suggested doing this an oven. But, I've always wanted to roast a pepper right on the stove. So I did. I kept rotating the pepper so that each side got a nice burn.
Then I took it off the stove and attempted to remove this skin. This part was rather difficult. I'm not sure the pepper was burnt enough. So to get the skin off, I ran the peppers under hot water and rubbing the skin with my thumbs was able to remove it. Be sure to dry it off afterwards!
Ta daaa! Instead of throwing it with capers and the dressing the recipe called for, I put it on top of a salad with avocado, tomato and lettuce with a mix of balsamic vinegar and EVOO on the side. It was good....
 Does anyone else do this with recipes?

Sunday, November 6, 2011