Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Prosciutto and Cantaloupe Salad

I don't know how to spell...or pronounce things.  If it wasn't for my spellchecker, this post would be called  "Prociutto and Cantalope Salad."  All that really matters is that it's delicious...OKAY.  JEEZ.  (No seriously, it's amazing). 

Prosciutto and cantaloupe isn't a new concept...in fact it's an amazingly easy, no fuss, yet elegant appetizer.  The two go incredibly together - the smokey, salty meat holds up perfectly to the sweat and refreshing fruit.  I have not, however, seen this in salad form and BOY OH BOY is this good.  My husband actually said, "you can never, ever have a BBQ without making this salad again."  My arm is sore from patting myself on the back.

I ate this on the side of my apricot glazed chicken, but if you wanted to serve this as an appetizer, consider serving a couple of pieces of brie with it...

...ooo la la.  This is going to be one of my summer go to's. 

1/4 lbs of Prosciutto, finely sliced and chopped 
2 Cups of Cubed Cantaloupe 
1/8 of a Red Onion, sliced very thin 
2 Cups of Spring Lettuce Mix 
3 Sprigs of time 
2 Tbs of Balsamic Glaze 

Pile your lettuce mix on a platter.  Add your cantaloupe on top and then sprinkle on the chopped prosciutto. Use your fingers to gently mix the prosciutto and cantaloupe.  Sprinkle the red onion on top, followed by the sprigs of thyme. The thyme isn't just a garnish - it adds a wonderful fresh aroma and slight flavor to the salad - I wouldn't skip it.  Finish the salad with a drizzle of balsamic glaze. 

Stay hungry! 

Monday, April 29, 2013

Apricot Glazed Grilled Chicken

I don't know who your husband is...but mine's better than yours.  You know why?  He makes me chicken like this:

I mean, did your mouth just drool all over the place, cause mine did.  Disclaimer:  my husband is not responsible for the beautiful, artfully placed thyme.  Just thought I'd throw that out there.  He is, however, responsible for everything else.  Including grilling on our roof deck and not starting a fire. 

The glaze is super simple.  Apricot preserves, olive oil, soy sauce, fresh thyme...

...and some smashed garlic.

Let the glaze sim-simma, who got the keys to my bimma?

Once it bubbles on low heat for 2-3 minutes, shut the heat off and let it thicken up.

While the glaze is doing its thing, you can start on the chicken.  We like dark meat, mostly because it's way more flavorful than white meat, but you can really put this glaze on anything - including pork.  Spray your hot, preheated grill down with a grill safe non-stick spray (we like Weber), and put the chicken skin side down. 

I am an absolute cross contamination NAZI and have thankfully passed my psychosis on to my husband.  He uses disposable gloves to handle the raw meat, and then once the meat has begun to cook, he switched to tongs. Smart man. 

This is what you want.  Nice crispy skin.

Once the chicken is nearly cooked (about 13-15 minutes on a super hot grill), begin to glaze it up. Glaze, flip.  Let the glaze caramelize while you glaze the other side.  YUM.

We like tin pans when we BBQ...it makes clean up a breeze.  Now, that doesn't mean you can't spruce it up with a little fresh herbs.  

Oh hello.

Drool.  Face.  All over. 

Here's the recipe:

1 Cup Apricot Preserves
1/4 Cup EV Olive Oil 
3-4 Sprigs of Fresh Thyme 
1 Tbs of Low Sodium Soy Sauce 
2 Large Garlic Cloves, Smashed 

5 Chicken Thighs 
5 Chicken Drumsticks 

Heat the glaze ingredients in a heavy sauce pan over low - medium heat until glaze begins to bubble.  Let bubble for 2-3 minutes then shut heat off.  Grill chicken until done, about 13-15 minutes on very hot grill, turning periodically to prevent burning.  Brush the chicken with the glaze and turn, allowing the glaze to caramelize.  Let cool for 5 minutes then serve.

Wait til you see the amazing side I whipped up for this on Wednesday...stay tuned...and stay hungry!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Grapefruits Galore

I rarely make fish at home.  I mean rarely, rarely.  So, every once in awhile, when I'm out to eat (sans hubs) I'll order fish.  I went to the Capital Grille on Monday for a work dinner and ordered sea bass that was served with a grapefruit, watercress salad with citrus vinaigrette.  It was amazing.  The sea bass was so buttery and flaky...it paired perfect with the tart, light salad.  Well, ever since Monday I've been day dreaming about grapefruits.  Crazy, right?  Maybe not.  They are delicious.  After scoping the net, I found a few beautiful and light grapefruit dishes that I'm dying to try.  Just in time for summer!

1.  Grapefruit and Beet Salad with Lime Vinaigrette from The View from Great Island.

2. Kale Salad with Grapefruit, Avocado & Walnuts from Alaska from Scratch.

Kale Salad with Grapefruit, Avocado & Walnuts

3. Summer Citrus Salad from Sage Recipes.

4. Grapefruit and Avocado Salad with Shrimp with Sweet Sugar Bean.

5. Greyhound Poptails by Endless Summer.

Stay hungry!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Coconut Oil for Baby's Skin

We're trying to cut down on the number of unnecessary chemicals used around the house and, having heard great things about using coconut oil for skin care for babies, I decided to give it a shot (and whip up a container to keep it in).

I bought a small glass jar (ninety nine cents from my local food co-op and, having typed that statement, I'm officially a hippie) to keep the coconut oil in and jazzed it up with some colorful paper and Mod Podge.

The yellow circle is actually cut from a very sweet (and on-theme for my baby shower) card I received from a friend:

(I appreciate the vote of confidence)

I Mod Podged the paper to the lid of the jar along with a strip of white paper to use as a label, then glued the two pieces of the lid together.

The result is a sunny little jar of coconut oil (that smells divine, by the way) and reminds me of my friend's sweet wishes at my bridal shower.  It also assures us that Will is getting fewer toxins than if we had gone the normal diaper cream route (not that I'm writing that off for emergency situations).  We have also been using it for his dry skin and it works like a charm!

A little goes a long way which means I have lots left to use for other stuff...any suggestions?

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Redoing Our Roof Deck: Part 2

You know when I first posted about redoing our roof deck???  ALMOST A YEAR AGO.  Thank you Chicago permit process for being the most annoying ever.  But enough about that.  Our roof deck is almost done!  Here are some pics from last weekend:

Facing south...

Close up of the door...

Facing northish...

Here are our stain options.  We're leaning towards the one on the far right...it's called Valise. What do you guys think?

I can't believe this year long process is almost done!  All we have left to do is buy furniture, stain the deck, and get grates to put over our skylights.  I'll keep you posted...until then, stay homey! 

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Nursery Reading Nook

The nursery isn't quiiiiiiite done yet and baby Will is sleeping in our room for now anyway, but I wanted to share one very finished part of the room.  As you can see in some earlier pictures, this room (like all of our upstairs bedrooms) has a bumped out area from the dormer window that isn't quite big enough to comfortably fit a bed or a crib but was the perfect space for a nursery reading nook!

We received a ton of great baby books as gifts for Will and I decided to use them as part of the room's decoration - bright, colorful books that could be switched up as Will gets older.  Using a wall as a front-facing bookshelf cuts out the need to decorate that wall at all... the books take care of that on their own.

I thought about making my own shelves from scratch but realized there was a cheaper and easier option... Ikea's Ribba Picture Ledges.  They're pre-built and are easily screwed right onto the wall:

Jesse and I both love to read and can't wait to spend hours rocking and reading to Will in this space.  It's so cheerful and I'm thrilled with how it came out!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Garlic Studded Pork Shoulder

Mmmmmmmmmmmmmmm mmm mmm mmm MMM!  I loves me some garlic.  Like really loves me some. I was watching Best Thing I Ever Ate: Garlic on the Food Network and John Besh featured this Garlic Studded Pork Shoulder.  It was so simple and sounded so good that I followed the recipe exactly.  Which never, ever happens. 

I've never thought about using mirepoix instead of a roasting pan to add more flavor.  GENIUS.  Oh, b-t-dubs, I also added garlic.  And if you don't know what mirepoix is, it's just celery, onion, and carrots.  But this is GARLIC studded pork so I added me some GARLIC. 

Just make a bunch of slits with a paring knife, and slip in some fresh rosemary and garlic slices. 

Don't forget lots and lots of salt and pepper...

2.5 hours later in a 325 degree oven...you have this...succulent, juicy, amazing porky garlicky goodness.  Words can not describe how amazing this smelled.

Here are the ingredients:

One 4-to-5-pound boneless pork shoulder
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 branches fresh rosemary
10 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 onions, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped

Pan Gravy:
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups chicken stock
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the pork: Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. 
Sprinkle the shoulder liberally on all sides with salt and pepper.

Place the roast fat-side up. With a paring knife, make several small incisions into the fat. Cut the rosemary sprigs into 1-inch segments. Place the sliced garlic and rosemary into each incision.

Scatter the chopped onion, carrots and celery in the bottom of a heavy-bottomed roasting pan. Then set the shoulder on top of the vegetables and add 1 quart of water. Place into the oven and roast until the pork registers an internal temperature of 155 degrees F on a meat thermometer, about 2 1/2 hours. Let the meat rest for 10 to 15 minutes before you serve it. Make a pan gravy, or reserve the pan juices and vegetables for another use.

For the pan gravy: Take the roast out of the pan and whisk the flour into the pan drippings. Add 2 cups chicken stock, stirring often over medium heat, until the flour is incorporated. Simmer 20 minutes, and then add salt and pepper to taste. Strain through a fine sieve.

Stay hungry! 

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Fish n' Chips from London

In addition to Prince Harry, Big Ben, and room temperature beer, London is known for some killer fish n' chips.  One of my BFFs, Colleen, is in London for work and ordered and captured her fish n' chips experience just for us!

I can't figure out how rotate this picture, but you get the idea.  My mouth is watering.  YUM.  Thanks for sharing with Hardly Housewives, Colleen.  Stay hungry!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Our Formerly Microwave-less Life

Sometimes my brother refers to my home as "Little House on the Prairie" and I realize it's for reasons like this: until a few weeks ago, we didn't have a microwave.  When we moved in, there was a big empty box hanging on the wall among the kitchen cabinets that had once contained one, but no actual microwave.  We had splurged on a fancy schmancy toaster oven with Williams Sonoma gift cards after our wedding, so we utilized the toaster oven for all of our food-heating purposes and turned the microwave space into a pet food zone:

Jesse and I thought it was quaint and old timey (and I'm sure we were somewhat holier-than-thou about our microwave-less life).  "Food tastes better when it's heated slowly" and "Microwaves make things too mushy and chewy."  Etcetera etcetera etcetera.  Family members and guests were not nearly as enchanted with this lifestyle choice.  In my father's words, "It took me an hour to heat up a damn burrito."

But as our life as a twosome with plenty of time to heat food wound down, we realized it might be time to consider a quicker food heating solution.  Luckily, my sister found a new, still boxed microwave in her bedroom closet at my parents' house (???) and my mom brought it up for us to use.  I transferred the pet food to the pantry and hooked up our teeny little microwave and anchored it with a few of my favorite cookbooks:

Jazz hands, or possibly a nervous wave at the microwave.  Not sure what this is all about.

So far, we're only using the microwave here and there and although it's been a real lifesaver when needed, I still maintain that leftover pizza tastes better when reheated in the toaster oven.  Anybody else living the good life without a microwave?  Or is it just weird that we made it almost two years without one?

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Cook's Lobster House and a Baby

Charlie and I flew out east this weekend to visit my grandmother and grandfather, aunt and uncle, cousins, father, mother, sister, brother-in-law, and niece and nephew.  Whew.  Lots of action.  You may remember my post announcing Kai, but fast forward 9 months...and this little baby boy has turned into a total ham. 

He has two little teeth to round out that huge gummy smile...

 Can't get enough of him.  Just adorable and so sweet.

 After Kai's photo shoot, we headed over to one of our favorite restaurants, Cook's Lobster House in Harpswell, Maine.  We've been going there for forever...for as long as I can possibly remember.  Charlie and I have been together for nine years, but he's never come with us so it was time to introduce him to some yummy Maine LOBSTA.

First, we started with some clam chowder.  Yum.

Now enter the main dish.  Three split lobster tails with Ritz cracker and butter stuffing.  O. M. G.  I can't.  I just can't even. My mouth is drooling everywhere right now.

Here's another plate that my parents ordered.  Uhem.  Notice double the lobster tails.

Yum.  Nom. Nom.

Obsessed.  It was a great trip home but I'm FAT and need to detox.  Stay hungry!