Thursday, May 31, 2012

National Stationery Show: Be Still, My Heart

Last week I had the pleasure of attending the National Stationery Show in New York.  I trekked across town to the Javits Center, checked in behind reps from Vanity Fair and Real Simple Magazine (OMG), and headed into the show.

It was pretty much my idea of heaven and within a few seconds, I was skipping down the aisles, talking to stationers, and fawning over cards & gift wrap & various other paper products.  Row after row of booths, all full of dreamy stationery.  There were the big players (Crane, American Greetings, Paper Source, etc), which were fun to pop into and peruse, but I really loved talking with the owners of the smaller paper shops.

Here are a few that I loved seeing:

OneCanoeTwo, with a funky cabin-y booth, had all sorts of awesome letterpress products.  I was immediately taken with these state prints...

...and, predictably, I want this now:

Coasters & banners & cards... cute little notepads which I think would make awesome gifts...

A few aisles down, I was thrilled to bump into our friend Barbara from Double Bravo Designs.  In a funky orange booth, I checked out her stationery for kids & adults...

... and cards that document milestones for kids such as Halloween costumes & mispronounced words...

Another shop that I was pretty excited about was Bloomin.  Their paper is plantable and made with seeds.  Check out this plantable confetti...

Cards with herb seeds in the paper...

...and even plantable ornaments.  I LOVE this idea.  It's something I've considered trying to make at home, but I'm not sure why I'd bother at this point, given that the guys at Bloomin have got it down pat...

More to come... I have a ton of pictures & artists that I love AND I didn't even see everything at the show!  Thanks to the NSS for having me!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Ham & Cheese Sandwich Casserole

I'm not sure where my little brain cooked this one up.  I love ham and cheese sandwiches, and more yeah...enter this guy: 

I had absolutely no idea what I was going to come up with or how this was going to turn out so I sort of threw in a little of this and that and it actually came out great.  

10 Slices of Stale or Toasted Italian Bread (or white bread, or anything really) 
5 Large Slices of Swiss 
10 Slices of Ham 
1/2 Cup of Grated Gouda
1/4 Cup of Grated Parm
6 Eggs
2 Cups of Milk
1 Squirt of Mustard 
2 Pinches of Dried Thyme
2 Tbs of Chopped Green Onions 
Softened Butter
Salt & Pepper 

Grease a 9x13 with butta.  Mo' butta mo' butt.  That's how I roll.  Literally. 

Now, line the bottom of the dish with half the bread.  You might need to do some creative work because the bread isn't going to fit perfectly.  

Next...layer on the ham...

...and then the Swiss...

 Next, add the milk, eggs, herbs, salt and pep, and mustard and whisk away. 

Layer the rest of the bread on top and then pour the egg and milk mixture on top....
Let the casserole sit for at least 4 hours.  If you are serving this to company, you can totally make this the night before.  Before it goes in the oven, sprinkle the gouda and the parm on top...

Here's what it looked like after 25 minutes in a 400 degree oven.  You'll basically know it's ready if you tip it on the side and the egg mixture doesn't pool up in the corner.  That way, you'll know it set. 

 Oh yes...

Mmmmmmm hmmmmm creamy, crunchy, cheesy, and hammy.  OH YES. 

The roof of my mouth is still burnt.  
Stay hungry!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Amazing Wedding Appetizers

It's Caitlin, talking about my friend Melissa's wedding again.  But first, let me tell you that I went to another wedding this weekend that had an amazing cheese table.  They made a tough choice - they picked a fancy cheese table over an oyster station.  Jesse told me the news pre-wedding and I was elated.  Downright giddy with anticipation.  Jaisa has shared her wedding's insane cheese table, too.  I guess my point is, when in doubt, choose cheese.  Everybody will go crazy for it at your wedding.  Or at your backyard party.  Or at dinner tonight.

So back to Melissa's wedding.  I'll open, naturally, with the cheese.  Tasty, evenly cut, and paired with fruits (that makes it healthy).

You can see that alongside the cheeses, there was what basically amounted to a killer design-your-own-bruschetta station.  Marinated artichokes, a rapini & white bean mix, and classic tomato & garlic.  Plus olives, meats, and a few spreads.  While I think this is pure genius for a wedding, I want to have one at my next house party.

And then there were the passed appetizers and the other appetizer stations.  Fish tacos.  Sliders.  Kielbasa Wellington, which made me reconsider my vegetarianism.

Amazing dips (& a look at one appetizer station's menu)...

Usually appetizers happen during cocktail hour at a wedding and, in my ever-growing wedding experience, it makes a huge difference in whether your guests get belligerently drunk before it even gets dark.  Trust me - go with the hearty, tasty appetizers that everybody will want to try.  Happy guests who aren't blacked out by 9 PM.

Perfect wedding, amazing food.  Don't these pictures make you glad wedding season is just kicking off?  Stay hungry!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Uncommon Ground: The Best Fried Calamari

Yowza. This was good. We went to Uncommon Ground in Chicago for our friend Jenny's birthday. Here is a pic of their fried calamari tossed in an Asian BBQ sauce. Incredible. Stay hungry!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Perfect Little Wedding Touches

Last Saturday was my friend Melissa's beautiful wedding and I wanted to share some of the details that made it so special.  Hosted at Lord Thompson Manor in Thompson, CT, the wedding venue had some unique touches that, coupled with the work and planning Melissa & Zack (& Melissa's mom) did, made for a perfect day.  Seriously, I am so obsessed with this wedding that I will probably still be gushing about it in November.  Buckle up.

First, I'll start with the tables.  Each table had a table number and a year, ranging from the year the couple was born until now.  There were two photos (one from the bride and one from the groom) and a funny description of what they had been up to that year.  Naturally, I was sitting at the Bates table where I got to stare at a tanner, blonder version of myself with my roommates...

Aren't these pictures the sweetest idea?  Such a great personal touch, and so interactive.   I saw people going from table to table to check out the photos and stories.

And speaking of photographs, the mantelpieces around the reception were filled with frames containing pictures of Melissa & Zack's relatives on their wedding days.  I loved looking at the older dresses and liked that they included names & dates below each photograph so I knew who was who.  The silver frames on the mantels coordinated with the silver frames on the tables and made for a cohesive look:

Finally on the photograph front, the photographer took photos of everyone at dinner and, halfway through the evening, brought out pages with the photos on them for guests to sign.  Talk about quick turnaround AND an interactive guestbook:

Okay... I guess this has to do with photos, too... a standup frame photo station in the courtyard behind the manor.  Here's a shot from the rehearsal dinner, but this was a huge shot at the wedding, too.  

Check out these glowing chandeliers that were hanging from the trees.  It was magic.  They looked even better (but didn't photograph as well) at night.

As you can see, there was a ton of lawn space behind the manor.  Ready to take your drink outside and play some lawn sports?  Well, perfect...

...and if you wanted to curl up by the many fire pits that were around the patio (I did), the manor provided cozy wool blankets and bug spray.  Basically every little detail was covered.

Talk about a wedding right out of a magazine!  Congrats, Melissa & Zack.  I am obsessed with your wedding and will be posting soon about the most amazing appetizers I have ever seen... including that freaking bruschetta station!  Stay hungry, stay homey, & stay happy!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Bobby Flay and Girl & The Goat

OHHHHH EMMMMMM GEEEEEEE.  I met BOBBY FLAY last night!!!!  I am still on cloud nine.  WOW.  So...let me explain how this went down.  

My pal Lauren made reservations at Girl & The Goat months ago because it's so darn difficult to get a reservation there.  Stephanie Izard's restaurant is hands down the hottest restaurant in Chicago right now and I've been dying to go.  The night FINALLY arrived.  Lauren and I went to the ladies room and when we got back to the table my husband said "Now, I want to tell you guys something but you can't freak out and need to stay composed.  Bobby Flay is sitting behind Jaisa."  Here's the pic:

Essentially anything that was said to me from that moment on went through one ear and out the other.  I couldn't believe that one of my all time favorite Chefs was in the same room as me.  I pretty much died.  Anyway, I had to meet him.  Especially after my fourth glass of wine.  My husband went over and said something like this "My wife is going to have a heart attack if she doesn't meet you."  I shook his hand, looked straight into his eyes and blacked out.  Best. Moment. Ever. 

I could ramble on and on about this magical moment but to leave out the absolutely outstanding food we had would be a crime.  Here we go:

This is the Mr. Potato Bread with potato aioli and green garlic butter. Hot, crusty, and soft in the middle.  Perfection. 

This was the best beet salad I have ever had:

Goat empanadas:

Goat cheese ravioli with tempura asparagus.  What up Caitlin. 

Seared scallops with duck. 

Ham frites with a cheese and chili dipping sauce.  These were bananas.   They we the crispiest best fries ever seasoned with ham salt.  Yes.  Ham salt.  I don't know how else to describe it.  It was like a dusting of the best ham you have ever had over the best fries you've ever had.  Going loco over here. 

Here is the octopus salad.  I loved this.  The tender octopus was tossed in a vinaigrette with crisp yellow green beans.  Do you still say the green if they are yellow?

Here are the pork ribs.  Some of the best ribs I have ever had.  Ever. 

The next two were my favorite.  This is the crispy pork cheek.  I can't even describe the flavors to you.  I've never had anything like it. 

I don't know how Stephanie does it.  This was the most complex and interesting thing I tried all night. This was the crispy braised pork shank (that's right - fall of the bone tender and crispy on the outside).  This was served with flat bread, kimchi, and two sauces that I will dream about for the rest of my life.

And lastly...the Goat Cheesecake.  I'm in love and will return as soon as I possibly can. 
Stay hungry!