Saturday, March 31, 2012

Piece Pizza Chicago, IL

Hey it's me. Jaisa's pizza craving again. I think I'm the only person in the world that likes this combination. The great thing is my husband won't touch it!! Allllll minnnnne. White pizza with spinach, bacon and CLAMS. Yes. So good. Stay hungry!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Friday, March 30, 2012

Hip, on the House: The Pied Paper

This giveaway is now closed!  The winner is...

Lucky number 30!  Robin, you are the winner!

You know I love a good set of stationery and a good pun, and The Pied Paper delivers both.  This sweet Etsy shop has an awesome selection of beautiful notecards and delightfully lined envelopes.  Mily, The Pied Paper's owner, has generously offered a set of 5 notecards to a lucky Hardly Housewives winner.

The winner can choose any set they like, but here are the ones I'd go with:

These awesome thank you notecards with peacock feather lined envelopes...

... or maybe these bumblebee notecards (4 weeks to go until my backyard honeybees arrive!)...

I think these anchor notecards are so sweet and summery.  Of course I'm also loving the vintage maps used as envelope liners...

There are a bunch of other designs, colors, and custom monogram cards.  I think these would make an awesome gift for a friend (or yourself) and I'm very excited to be working with Mily at The Pied Paper.

There are a few ways to win your choice of a 5 notecard set...

1) First, go look through The Pied Paper and leave a comment below with your favorite item... 

2) If you want another chance to win, be sure to "like" Hardly Housewives on Facebook here and leave another comment letting us know that you did (or if you already have)

3) Join the Hardly Housewives follower community - publicly follow Hardly Housewives via Google Friend Connect

4)... and for a last chance, add The Pied Paper to your "Favorites" on Etsy

This giveaway ends NEXT FRIDAY morning!  Come back to see if you've won.  Thanks, Mily for the cards!

Good luck, dear readers, and stay hip!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Hungry's Wedding Food: Part III

So I promise this is the last of my wedding food...for now.  I'm planning a big Easter food cooking fest this weekend so I'll be back on track and bring all of you some delicious and easy recipes for the holiday.  

In my opinion, I have saved the best for last in the Chronicals of Hungry's Wedding Food.  THE CHEESE DISPLAY.  As I type this I'm alternating between some cheese from Wisconsin, some double cream brie, and some wine cured salami.  Can you blame me?  I mean...check out this pic:

BOOM.  We had a delicious variety of scrumptious cheeses that just overflowed the table.  We were about to scrap this entire thing, but my Mom was worried that people would have to chase down the waiters for food if they were really hungry.  This was a perfect alternative.  People could chat, make a small plate of delicious cheeses, crackers, and accompaniments and feel satisfied and pampered.
I loved the fresh figs - they brought in beautiful colors of fall and added a bit of sweetness.  YUM. 

The waiters couldn't keep up - they had to keep bringing more and more cheese out just for the cocktail hour!  It was a huge hit and made it feel a bit more special.  Stay hungry! 

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Homey, Handmade Easter

Jesse and I will be hosting Easter weekend festivities for his family this year and I'm starting to think about what we're going to eat and how I'm going to decorate.  Since I'll be crazy busy this next week and a half, I figured I should turn to Etsy instead of trying to make all of my decor myself.  Here are some handmade items I found that are great touches for next Sunday.

I'm starting simple, with these white porcelain bunnies.  I think they'd be adorable on the Easter brunch table or sitting on top of our mantel...

Don't be too surprised that I'm loving these catnip Peep toys from Miso Handmade on Etsy...

I think this egg stamp is really cool.  I think it would be perfect for placecards for Easter dinner, tags for Easter baskets, or on the envelopes for Easter cards (though even I, lover of all card-sending occasions, don't send Easter cards... which makes me wonder if anybody actually does).

We may have some kids at our Easter dinner and I was thinking about what non-chocolate items we could put in an Easter basket for them.  These crayons are perfect:

I've mentioned that I can sew napkins now, but I've never made any this fancy and I'm not sure I have enough time to learn between now and Easter.  These napkins would be perfect for a pretty Easter table:

Do you decorate for Easter?  Are you making or buying your decorations this year?  Let us know and stay homey!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Hungry's Wedding Food: Part II

As a foodie and someone who spends the majority of their time day dreaming about bacon and sausage and how to telepathically move the food from Cheesecake Factory's kitchen to my living room, I surprisingly had a hard time deciding what I wanted our dinner menu for our wedding to be.  I already walked you through our hors d'oeuvres (guess how many times I typed that before getting the spelling right) - which to me, was the easier part of the planning.  We had more liberty.  We could be fun and not worry so much about elegance and personal preference.  Our caterers did a fantastic job of continuing the fun, unpretentious menu plan, but elevating it so it was a bit more sophisticated for dinner. 

I loved the idea of doing a soup, sandwich and salad combo for the first course.  However, my idea was to do a cheddar grilled cheese, tomato soup, and a mini wedge salad.  Our caterer suggested a bit of a twist to make it a little more high end and out of the box, but still fun and pleasing to look at.  Instead, we did a taleggio and brioche grilled cheese, cream of leak soup with a chive spring garnish, and a cranberry frisee salad with a cranberry citrus vinaigrette. Yum, yummy, and yummier. The brightness from the vinaigrette helped cut through the heaviness of the cheese and soup.  Just a perfect balance and puddle of drool on my PJs.  

I loved this.  Just loved it and thought it looked so gorgeous.  One of my favorite drinks in all the land is frozen lemonade with blueberry vodka.  Oh man.  Get it and drink it and watch how much fun your taste buds have doing the running man into the wee hours of the night.  Anyway, I wanted to incorporate that, along with another nod to my home state, Maine, so we decided to turn that drink into our intermezzo.  Here we have Absolute Citron sorbet with a blueberry and mint garnish.  

Ah....our entree.  What a labor of love. This was SO delicious and even more gorgeous to look at.  Since our wedding was on the cusp of fall, I wanted to bring in some color elements that coincided with the season.  Here, we have filet mignon with jumbo prawns and grilled autumn vegetables.  Everything is resting on a bed of white cheddar grits and accented with a roasted pepper coulis.  Beautiful right?  I loved the fact we did grits.  It was a great alternative to traditional meat and potatoes but provided a hearty, soul warming starch. 
I'm the farthest thing from vegetarian, but as you know, my BFF Caitlin is.  I let her choose which option she wanted and ended up with a roasted vegetable phyllo purse with a beautiful and fragrant rosemary garnish.  From what I hear, this was delicious.  

I had a tricky time finding an elegant, comfort food themed wedding menu so if this is your thing (call me) hopefully this provided you with some inspiration.  Stay hungry! 

Monday, March 26, 2012

Brownie Bites with Raspberry Sauce

I showed pictures of the awesome dessert table at my friend Melissa's bridal shower last weekend and I wanted to share my contribution - the brownie bites with raspberry sauce.

I made the brownies the night before the shower (please forgive me for not including photos of the process).  I used a recipe that was my go-to when I was a kid - I baked these brownies for every single bake sale, family gathering, or sleepover I attended in the 90s and I dug it out for this special occasion.  I used:

2 cups white sugar
4 eggs
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 1/4 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter (melted)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
optional (and not used this time) 1/2 cup crushed walnuts

I preheated the oven to 350 degrees & mixed together my cocoa and sugar.  I stirred in the melted butter, then added the eggs & vanilla and stirred again.  Finally, I added the flour & salt and mixed just until smooth (this is where you'd add the walnuts too).

Normally, I'd put it into a greased brownie pan and bake for 40 minutes (or until a toothpick comes out clean) BUT I added these into a MINI brownie pan (picked up from the craft store) and baked for 15.  I wanted these to be finger food sized - perfect for a shower.

Once the brownies came out of the oven, I had to dress them up a little bit and make them shower-worthy.  I took a pint of raspberries, a teaspoon of sugar, and a squeeze of lemon...

...and blended til I had a sauce...

I popped each little brownie bite into a mini paper muffin cup and drizzled a spoonful of the sauce on top.  I popped a raspberry on each square and they were ready to go...

People seemed to love them!  I was so excited to have these tasty brownies again and can't wait until my next occasion to bake them up.  Stay hungry!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Melissa's Bridal Shower

I posted on the spoons I made as part of my friend Melissa's bridal shower gift but I wanted to share some pictures of the shower itself while it's fresh in my mind.  Melissa has been my friend since our freshman year at Bates.  She hosted me for two weeks in her teeny tiny Edinburgh flat when she was studying abroad and put up with me senior year when we were sharing a bedroom and Jesse & I were chitchatting on my cell phone at all hours of the night.  We actually almost died together in a road-trip mishap, but our times together have been nothing but a blast otherwise.  I could go on and on about my love for this girl, but it was really awesome to spend a day with her family & friends who think she's just as great as I do.

On an uncharacteristically sunny March day in Connecticut, we gathered at her best friend's mother's house for the shower.  Mrs. P's home has a beautiful, open floorplan that was totally conducive to chatting, eating, and present opening.  And we did a lot of all three.

Pretty sure the staple of any good bridal shower (besides, you know, a happy bride & doting guests) is a solid spread of food.  This shower did not disappoint.  Starting off with a delicious cheese plate...

...and all sorts of yummy finger foods.  We had tea sandwiches, canapes, & a pretty veggie spread...

...washed down with a tasty strawberry lemonade in this gorgeous punch set (not pictured: the stash of red wine we went through).

I should have photographed the dishes we used for lunch... Melissa's mother's china.  It was gorgeous and lent some serious elegance to the afternoon.  Also, to the best of my knowledge, it was all still in one piece after the shower.  Phew.

Also, if there's anything my friend Sweet Melissa likes, it's dessert.  We feasted on fresh fruit, mini-pecan pies, macaroons, berry crumble (dairy & gluten free!), cheesecake, chocolate covered strawberries (black AND white chocolate), & chocolate raspberry squares.

How about this cheesecake?

Melissa's mom baked these insanely delicious heart-shaped hazelnut cookies as favors for the shower.  They were unreal.  I'll see if I can track down the recipe from her...

Wedding showers always make me so excited for the main event... I'm beyond excited to be one of Melissa's bridesmaids in May.  Congrats you two!  Stay hungry & homey & happy!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Embellished Dishtowels

Here's another beginner's sewing project (& another personalized gift idea).  I used my sewing machine for this but you could hand stitch these if you had some time while watching a movie or something.  It was easy peasy... I started with white dishtowels & strips of fabric.  I chose a few different red patterns since these were for my dad and red is his favorite color...

First of all, it's important to wash and dry everything before sewing so everything is pre-shrunk when you start sewing.

I pinned a strip of fabric across the dishtowels and sewed straight lines along the seams...

...and turned along the corners to sew the entire rectangle on...

I couldn't believe how easy these were to make and I love them!  I think they'd be a great bridal shower or housewarming gift.  One of my best girlfriends just bought a condo in Boston and loves red too, so I have a feeling I'll be making another set like these sometime soon.  Until then, stay homey!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Hungry's Wedding Food: Part 1

This weekend, I'm hosting a bunch of girls for my friend Lauren's bachelorette party so it was finally time to clean out the storage area that has been housing all of my wedding related piles of stuff...aka the guest room.  Little did I know that throwing away RECEIPTS AND SCRAPS OF PAPER would bring back all of the emotions from my wedding day.  I started crying like a baby.  At first, my poor husband thought I was crying because I didn't feel like cleaning.  I mean, how hilarious is that?  And the funniest part was that he didn't even really flinch.  Poor, poor man.  How did I con such a sane, normal, loving guy into marrying me?  Have I finally lost it?  Don't answer that.   

Anyway, since our wedding was on the brain, I decided to post about one of my favorite aspects of the planning - the FOOD of course!  My mother and I poured over the menu, making sure every bite was spectacular.  I asked my photographer to take pics of  This was apparently the first time a bride ever requested this, but lucky for me he was happy to do so.  Today, I'll walk you through our cocktail hour. 

Here my friend - were the mini lobster rolls.  Being from Maine, we had to have lobster rolls.  And not just any lobster rolls.  These had very specific instructions:  a) had to be cold water lobster preferably from Maine or Canada (I know, I'm psycho but cold lobster meat is sweet and tender and what you want) b) HELLMAN'S MAYO...duh c) butter grilled bun.  These tasted just like you were eating them on the coast of Maine, but in the heart of Chicago, and that's just what I wanted.   

The inspiration for the menu was easy.  We took our all time favorite dishes and turned them into little bites of food.  You've heard me ramble on about the chorizo flombado from Border Cafe, so here, we had our caterer recreate that dish.  I love the little Tabasco sour cream dollop on top.  

I'm pretty obsessed with fried chicken and biscuits.  That's actually what I wanted for our entree and my mother was so horrified I think she ignored me for a week.  Luckily, we were able to work it into the hors d'oeuvres.  Our caterer topped mini biscuits with a fried piece of chicken, drizzled with honey.  I MEAN.  YES.  

Fun food isn't complete without some bacon mac n' cheese.  This was ridic and so yummy and fun to eat.  I'm obsessed with these spoons.  

So you know my Homey girl Caitlin is vegetarian, so I wanted to make sure our vegetarian options were nothing short of delicious.  Here, we have the avocado egg roll with this incredible Asian dipping sauce.  

I hate to say this, but I was pretty surprised at how much I enjoyed these little suckers.  These were grape lollipops rolled in goat cheese and then crusted in pistachios.  These were so refreshing and a perfect contrast to some of the more heavy items. 

One of my favorite memories from our wedding, was sneaking away with Charlie for a bit and enjoying our very own platter of goodies.  

Lucky for us, our photographer caught this moment.  

What did you serve at your wedding?  We'd love to hear...stay hungry! 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Bridal Shower Flowers (& a totally botched DIY project)

I volunteered on a whim to do the flowers for my friend Melissa's shower last weekend.  "I'm closer to the shower location than any of the other bridesmaids," I thought.  "How hard can it be?"  By the week of the shower, however, I was in full blown panic.  I wanted to use a mix of grocery store flowers and bouquets from my local florist to keep costs down and, of course, you can't arrange flowers too far in advance so I had to wait until the day before the shower.

Oh, also - I decided to try to dye my own mason jars so they looked blue and antiquey and matched a bouquet of flowers Melissa had pinned in her wedding boards on Pinterest.  That's where the "botched DIY Project" in the title comes in.

I found this tutorial online.  Here's what I used:

clear glass mason jars
mod podge
food coloring

As per the tutorial, I mixed food coloring & water, added it to the jars with some Mod Podge and rolled around to coat the inside...

(it was messy)

Then I baked them on warm for an hour or so (it took way longer than directed in the tutorial and the kitchen got a Mod Podge-y smell)...

I let them sit out overnight and filled them with flowers the next morning.  As soon as water hit the inside, the blue coloring started to get pastey and peel off.  I should have expected this.  It's Mod Podge, after all, but the tutorial suggested it would be fine filled with water.  If I were to do this again (because they DID look great blue), I would either not add any water, color the outside instead, OR shellack the inside before filling with water.

But now onto the flowers, because those DID turn out well (despite the fact that they were submerged in sticky blue water paste after an hour or so)...

I made a mix of big bouquets and small ones.  For the large bouquets, I used hydrangea, pink & white roses, white tulips, pink snapdragons, purple mums, & daffodils.  I got ALL of them from a mix of my local grocery stores.  They had a great selection and were relatively inexpensive...

I also added a few sprigs from the dormant lavender bush in my yard...

The smaller bouquets went in the smaller jars and were also a mix...

I think the flowers turned out SO well... the jars not so much.  Oh well... stay homey!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Spaghetti Squash Carbonara

No one said healthy has to be boring. 

Actually, I think I said that.  And I usually mean it, but not this time.  This was yummy and easy and something I've been meaning to make for a long time.  I LOVE spaghetti squash.  I just think it's delicious.  So, why not combine it with one of my favorite ways to make pasta?  Done and done. 

Just four ingredients here peeps: 

1 Spaghetti Squash
1/2 Cup Parmesan Cheese
3 Egg Yolks
3 Thick Slices of Pancetta

Cut the squash down the center...

...and scoop out all of the junk in the middle. 
Lay the squash face down and roast it in the oven at 400 degrees for 30 or so minutes.  I know when it's done when the outside of the squash gives when I press down on it with an oven mit. 

Pancetta has lots of flavor.  Herbs and pepper and all other kinds of good stuff.  If all you have is bacon, no bigs.  Just add some extra pepper and maybe some garlic powder if you want to liven stuff up. 

Coarsely chop the pancetta.  It'll shrink down when it cooks and we don't want little bacon bits.  I like nice big pieces when I make carbonara. 

Yes pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeease. There would have been more, but I dropped about a third of the pancetta on the floor.  And then stepped on it with my bare foot and slid about two feet across my kitchen floor.  Good times over here. 

Now for the siggity sauce.  Whisk together freshly grated parm and three egg yolks.  

It should look like this. 
Now, it's important that the squash is SUPER hot when we throw it into the egg/cheese mixture because you want the eggs to cook from the heat.  So, as soon as the squash is done, take it out and flip it over, and use tongs or a fork to lift the "threads."  I used a dish towel to protect my hands, just be careful you don't burn yourself. 

Toss the squash into the sauce quickly to the egg and cheese mixture coats the vegetable.  Season with some salt and pepper.

Mmmmmm...hearty and delish and low in carbs.  
I'm not saying this will be better than the real deal, because it won't.  But it's pretty damn tasty and a great way to eat your veggies. 

Anyone else have creative ways of eating spaghetti squash or cutting carbs? Let us know and stay hungry!