Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Who doesn't love wine...

My cousin got married this summer and I got them 6 bottles of wine and a blind wine tasting game for couples. I love personalized gifts so I found 6 fabrics that go with white and red wine. Wine covers are the most simple thing to make, I really feel everyone should learn how to because they personalize the standard bottle of wine gift and they are green (reusable!)

A day at the Shuk.

On my trip to Israel this past December I ate some of the most incredible produce I've ever had, and if you know me, you know my life revolves around food and I travel to eat basically, in other words, TRUST ME!

Below are a few pictures I took from inside the Shuk in Jerusalem... such an amazingly inspiring place.

Below is the inside of the Shuk in Jerusalem

This is the most amazing bakery right next to the Shuk called Marzipan... a place you must stop at when in Jerusalem

The only negative about being at this amazing place was that I had no kitchen to cook or bake in!!! I was freaking out, all I wanted to do was prepare a meal for friends and I wasn't able to.

Baby clothes!

I apologize for the photographs, at the time in my life when I made all of these I was using my phone's camera since my dog had eaten my real one... but stay tuned because I now have an amazing camera!

Here are some bibs and shorts I made for a friends baby boy and then PJ designed the onesie.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Halloween 2009

This year my dog and I were little red riding hood. I made the dress out of muslin fabric and hand dyed gauze for the red portion of the dress. I wanted my cape to be a little over the top and not so traditional so I bubbled the hem of the cape to give it a little poof and made a 3" ruffle band on the outside of the hood to frame my face. It's a bit much but it was way too fun to make. For the dog version I wanted an oversized hood for the jacket as well and Iactually used the same patter for the hood as my cape hood.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Onto the dessert portion of the evening...

Start with my homemade truffles.  These are a huge success because everyone thinks they are so difficult to make, no way! They were so easy and the ingredients are so inexpensive.  

Dark Chocolate Truffles and Strawberry Chocolate:
1 cup heavy cream
12 ounce semi-sweet chocolate morsels
1/4 of a Hershey's special dark chocolate bar (or choc. bar of choice could be bittersweet or milk whatever you prefer)
1/4 cup of chopped nuts or a mixture of cocoa powder, cinnamon, sugar and a hint of nutmeg, or any ground spiced you want to roll your truffles in!
1 tsp Vanilla extract
1 cup strawberry jam

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  In large mixing bowl add vanilla to all of your chocolate.  Then in a small sauce pan bring the heavy cream to a boil.  Immediately after it boils pour into the chocolate mixture, stir completely.  Place mixing bowl in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes.  Remove and with a tablespoon place dollops of chocolate onto a separate sheet of parchment and place in the refrigerator again for about 20-30 minutes until they are cold and firm.  While they are starting to get hard place your spices or crushed nuts onto a cutting board.  I dusted my cutting board with dark cocoa powder, cinnamon, sugar, nutmeg and and spread out so you can quickly roll truffles into powder or nuts before they get too soft.

Remove the chocolate from the refrigerator and as quickly as you form dollops of chocolate into balls while coating it with your nuts or powder mix.  When you have finished covering all your truffles place onto your baking sheet with parchment paper and refrigerate for at least an hour.  

For Strawberry Chocolate truffles follow the recipe above but when you pour the heavy cream into chocolate mix in 1/2 cup of strawberry jam. 

When storing the truffles place in a Tupperware container and layer with a row of parchment paper in between truffle layers so they don't stick to each other.


Last nights drink of choice...

So for the drink last night I chose to make a granita.  This is such a fantastic summer type of drink, it is super easy and so yummy.

For my Champagne granita:
1 bottle of Champagne ( I used Freixenet PJ got me hooked on this extra dry champagne)
1 cup simple syrup (store bought or make it yourself, see recipe below)
2 lemons juice and zest
1/2 pint of berries of choice ( I went with strawberries and blueberries with a little sugar and lemon juice on top)

Simple syrup:
1 1/2 cup water
1 1/2 cup sugar

Bring water to boil then add in sugar until dissolved.  Place in glass jar to cool then stick in the fridge till you will use, I recommend to make this a day or so in advance.

In a glass baking dish add the bottle of Champagne, lemon zest and juice and sugar together and mix completely.  Cover with saran wrap and place in the freezer over night.  The day of use take our right before you are going to serve it and chop it up a little so that it starts to melt a little bit.  Then place in whatever type of glass or dish you want and top with some berries and your guests will love it!  

On the menu last night was....

For PJ's 32nd birthday we had some of his close friends over for a casual dinner, dessert, champagne get together.  I spent a lot of time trying to out-do myself cooking and baking for PJ.  From the response I think I was very successful.  Below are the recipes I created for the party.  I don't have pictures so you will have to make them yourself to see what they look like!

For the 4 Cheese Veggie Lasagna:
(a side note, when I cook I don't measure everything exactly I measure by taste so you can spice things the way you like or go with what I did)
1 package of  ready-to-bake lasagna noodles
1 package baby spinach
3 tbs garlic minced
1 lb. mushrooms, whichever mushrooms you like best, i used baby portobella, shiitake adn porcini, cleaned and sliced
1/2 lb fontina, grated
1/2 lb parmigiano reggiano, grated
1/4 percino romano, grated
12 ounces ricotta 
1 package quorn or morningstar crumbled beef (or for those meat eaters ground beef)
6 cups soy milk (or for those with indestructible stomachs you can use real milk)
1 1/2 stick unsalted butter
3 tbs of Kate's spice mix (which is salt, european ground pepper, ground mustard, nutmeg and  garlic powder)
1/2 cup flour
1 cup tomato sauce 
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In large saute pan melt 1 stick butter on medium-low heat, when butter is melted add the flour and stir until smooth texture.  Add the soy milk  and the cheese, make sure to continue to stir this as the cheese and milk will want to stick to the bottom of the pan and brown which would ruin the sauce so make sure to pay attention.  Then add spices to taste.  I add about 3 tbs of my little spice mixture I came up with.  I like to buy glass spice jars and fill them with essential mixtures that I use with different meals.  But the spice mixture I used in this dish works great with any pasta dish.  When the mixture is nice and thick and everything is melted together add your tomato sauce to give it a little extra flavor.  You can put it aside at this point or even freeze to reheat another day.

Next in a large saute pan add 1/2 cup butter and minced garlic, after the garlic has begun to give off an amazing aroma you can add your sliced and diced mushrooms.  You can use as many or little as you want but remember that mushrooms shrink down in size when you cook them, since PJ loves mushrooms I like to use a little more than necessary.  Then once your mushrooms begin to shrink in size you can add your vegetarian ground beef or your real ground beef and maybe some more of my spice mix completely up to you and let cook into the good mushroom juices for about 5 minutes on low heat.  Once the meat has almost fully cooked add in your spinach, let this cook for about 2 minutes and finally add in your Ricotta cheese saving enough to sprinkle on the top of the finished lasagna. 

Now it's time to build up this mouth watering masterpiece.  In an 8x8 baking dish place enough sauce at the bottom to fully cover the dish.  Then add a layer of lasagna noodles.  Next pile on thick some of your mushroom, meat and spinach mixture.  Then add more sauce and then repeat process till you have no more filling and sauce.  On top of the last layer of noodles add the last bit of your sauce and sprinkle ricotta cheese on top (or parmigiano  reggiano, whichever you prefer, I sprinkle with ricotta because parm. sprinkled on top of food is over played). 

Bake this for about 50 minutes and then let cool a bit and serve.  Enjoy!!