Monday, March 31, 2014

Healthy "Crab Cakes"

OOOO these were so good.  SO good.  Light, crispy, deconstructed, fancy shmancy crab cake endive bites.  All the flavor with a whole lot less guilt. 

We were having friends over this weekend for a heavy steak dinner.  Steak + cooking at very high temps = high drama.  So not only did I want to make an appetizer that was light and wouldn't crush every ones appetite, but something that was easy to make ahead and assemble quickly.

Charlie and I made crab cakes at a cooking class a few weeks ago and they were so delicious, that all I've been thinking about is that flavor.  That fresh seafood, crunchy buttery flavor.  Since we were having steak, hash browns, wedge salad, and a mess of other things, I thought I'd make a slightly less horrifyingly fattening version.  SCORE.

With the crunch of the endive, I promise I'll never go back to the deep friend version.  These were so much better.

Here's the recipe peeps:

4 Heads of Endive
12 Oz of Premium Lump Crab Meat (Fresh is best or canned in the fridge section) 
1/4 Cup Hellman's Mayonnaise 
1-2 Tsp of Sriracha 
1 Garlic Clove, Finley diced and worked into a paste 
2 Tbs Finely Minced Chives, plus more for garnish  
1 Tbs of Dijon Mustard 
1 Tsp Low Sodium Soy Sauce 
1/3 Red Pepper, Finely Diced 
1 Tbs Fresh Lemon Juice 
1/4 Cup of Panko Bread Crumbs, seasoned with salt & pepper
1 Tbs of Butter 
Lemon Zest 

Trim and clean the endive, separate and set aside the best leaves.  Drain crab and rinse gently with cold water, pick through grab and discard any rogue shells.  Pat dry with paper towels.  Add all the ingredients to the crab except of the lemon zest, Panko and butter.  Gently mix everything together, careful not to pulverize the crab - you want to leave nice big chunks.  If possible, chill crab mixture for two hours. Right before serving, melt butter over medium heat and add breadcrumbs that have been seasoned with salt and pepper.  Once they become golden brown, set aside.  Fill endive with a dollop of the crab mixture and then top with a little bit of bread crumbs and additional chives.  Finish with a little lemon zest and ENJOY.

Stay hungry!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Steakhouse Dinner at Home

So Charlie and I are going to cook dinner for some friends this weekend and we're hoping to channel our inner Chicago steakhouse and whip up this classic meal at home.  Here are a few recipes to get me (and you, shall you venture down this path) started:

1.  Grilled "Wedge" Salad.

2. The Perfect Filet Mignon.

3. The Perfect Prime Rib.

4. Oven Roasted Mushrooms.

5.  Loaded Mashed Potatoes.

6. Oven Smashed Potatoes.

7.  Yorkshire Pudding.

Yum.  One thing this post tells me is a) I make a lot of homemade steakhouse worthy dishes and b) I don't cook enough veggies.

Stay hungry!

Monday, March 24, 2014

(Another) Handmade Baby Quilt

This is my second baby quilt post in a week (after Baby Meatball's red & pink gingham one), though I actually made this one first.  I made it in February for Baby Benjamin (son of another college roommate, Holly) but Ben was born late (rude) and I had to wait to give it to him until last week.

This is probably where you'd expect to see a picture of a new baby with my quilt, right?  Sorry.  When I saw him he was busy either eating or sleeping.  Also, I think it's sort of bad manners to post pictures of somebody else's 5 day old baby on the internet.  So, no baby, but here's the quilt made with love for Ben:

This quilt is all boy, with blue stripes, blue dots, blue gingham, & blue whales.  When shopping for fabric, I found the cute little whales first and then picked other fabrics that I thought would look nice together.

I learned while making this that the gingham fabric I bought was WAY too thin - it kept coming apart at the seams where sewn to the other fabrics.  So frustrating.  Never again with gingham.  You can see I overcompensated with thick stitching along the seams to keep everything together.  Novice quilter here.

All in all, I'm pretty pleased with this.  This sounds really corny, but as I was making it I was thinking all sorts of good wishes for the baby (at that point, they hadn't decided on Benjamin yet so it was more like "I can't wait to meet you, Baby Whatever-Your-Name-Will-Be" and "I hope you and Will have so much fun being lifelong buddies, Currently-Nameless-Baby").  I'm hoping Ben enjoys it for tummy time and play time and rolling around on the floor and snuggles with his family.

Welcome to the world, Baby Ben!  Stay cozy!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Hardly Housewives St. Patrick's Day Recap

St. Patrick's Day in Chicago this year was an absolute ball...and HEY!  I managed to stay married.  Charlie might have even been the more intoxicated one...not sure...sort of hard to tell.  Anyway, we had a great group of friends over and spent the entire day eating and drinking.  Here's a quick recap of the dishes that got us through the day:
I had to make SOMETHING healthy so I decided to make a rainbow veggie tray with homemade dill dip.  So, this might not look that hard, but it was so annoying to make.  The vegetables kept sliding everywhere and it's not as easy as you'd think to make a rainbow with clouds and a pot of gold out of all edible ingredients.  It looked cute though and that's all that matters.


The corned beef was the MVP of the day.  I hit up my good friend Danny for his recipe and MAN was it good.  It was super simple: I just seared it on both sides and then cooked it low and slow - 12 hours at 200 degrees.  I'll do a separate post on it because, well, this baby deserves its own blog...but for realzzz.  It was one of the best things I've ever eaten.  I gave Charlie a bite and he goes OMG WHAT DID YOU JUST GIVE ME.  HOW CAN SOMETHING TASTE SO DELICIOUS.

I should have made four.   It was that good.

So dumb dumb can't figure out how to rotate this picture, but I'll share it anyway.  This was a super simple pasta salad I whipped together with pesto, peas, and bowties.  I think I underestimated how many people dislike peas.  When we were cleaning up there were little plates with mini pea piles everywhere.  What is wrong with you guys?  Peas are delicious.

This was the cheesy corned beef bread before it went into the oven.  I doubled the recipe which I would highly encourage you to do if you make it.  It's ridiculous.  

CAN SOMEONE EXPLAIN TO ME HOW TO ROTATE PICTURES ON BLOGGER.  Anyway, these were corned beef cabbage roles with mayo and dill and other awesome stuff.  My girl Madalene brought these over and they were sooooo good.  They were crunchy and Irish and divine.

Just because I like to make things super complicated on myself, I thought I'd also make some mini shepherds pies.  They had flaky phyllo crusts with layers of beef, corn, mashed potatoes and parsley butter.  The parsley butter was my Mom's idea.  Good call Mom. 
These were legit.  I was actually pretty proud of myself.  I'll do a post on these bad boys too. 

My friend Cori is always good for something deliciously sweet.  She made these super thin buttery crispy amazing I ate four cookies.  They were gone in like three seconds flat.

I hope you guys had an AWESOME St Patrick's Day and are recovering nicely. 

Stay hungry!

Monday, March 17, 2014

A Handmade Baby Quilt

This weekend I went to an amazing shower for my friend Meatball (a.k.a. Abi).  Abi and her husband are expecting a baby next month and she will be the first baby girl among my close friends.  Since Abi is one of my closest college pals & a true blue friend, I wanted to get her something special as a baby gift.  I decided to try making a mini quilt and even though I still have a lot to learn about quilting, I'm really excited about how it turned out.  I just wish I had blow dried (or maybe even just brushed?) my hair for this picture:

The front of the quilt is gingham style with a red hearts, pink floral, and white squares.  I didn't use a pattern or anything, I just sort of winged it and it came out pretty close to what I was hoping for.  The back of the quilt is pink seersucker:

I made a mistake when finishing the quilt - I ran out of binding and so there was a very small gap.  I could have maybe handstitched it together with pink thread but I decided to make a little heart tag to cover it all up.

As you can see, the stitching is not exactly perfect, but each stitch was done with lots of love and good wishes for little Meatball.  It's totally machine washable, so it'll be great for tummy time, laying in the grass, stroller walks around Boston, etc etc.  I can't wait to see it in action in April when the baby arrives!  Congrats, Meatball & Brad!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Corned Beef and Swiss Stuffed Pretzel Bites

You know how I always talk about how much I dislike baking?  It's because of recipes like this.  There was some serious drama on the high seas with this one.  Between the filling exploding during the pretzel boiling process to mistakenly using WAX PAPER instead of parchment paper...the morale in our kitchen disintegrated quickly.  However, we learned a lot (like to never make these again) and had some delicious scraps treats in the process.  Seriously though, these were really yummy, we just need to not completely screw it up next time. 

Based on the thousands of pins in Pinterest, we used Pip & Ebby's recipe.  YUM. 

To start, Charlie mixed the brown sugar with the warm milk and whisked it together until the sugar completely dissolved. 

Charlie then added the milk and sugar mixture to the yeast and flour.

Gently stirring with his fingers, he mixed the ingredients together until it formed a wet dough ball.

Next, he moved the dough to our kitchen counter which he had cleaned (duh) and then floured.

After gently kneading for about two minutes, he greased a bowl with olive oil, added the dough, and then covered the bowl with plastic wrap.

After setting aside for two hours (we put it in the microwave) the dough doubled in size.

While he was tending to the dough, I started on the filling.  I chopped up some sliced corned beef that I just got from the deli counter.

Meanwhile, Charlie separated the dough into four equal parts and then rolled them out into long rectangles.

We then filled the dough with corned beef, Swiss cheese, and Monterrey jack cheese.

Ok, we then rolled up the dough as tightly as we could. Ta daaaa.  Yeah, not so fast.  This is when things started to spin out. 

After slicing, we then boiled the pretzels in water that we had added baking powder to.  We boiled for about 20 seconds and turned as gently as possible.  A lot of the filling fell out, I'm not going to lie.

This is what they look like before going into the oven.  Sort of floppy, soggy, and sad.  Don't worry!  They will get nice and golden in the oven.

So, after you bake for about 15-20 minutes in a 400 degree oven, the pretzels will become nice and golden brown.  Once you remove from the oven, brush with butter and sprinkle with some coarse chunky kosher or sea salt.  

I know these look good and all, but if you flipped them over you would see the absolute TRAUMA these went through as I tried to pick off every small piece of wax paper.  What a DEE SAS TER.  Regardless, we are going to try this again because this really is a fantastic's just the chef/baker that need some work.

For complete details, please refer to original recipe from Pip & Ebby.

Stay hungry!!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Embellished Dishtowels, Take Two

It's March, which means that my family members are scrambling to find something that's red or cooking-related for my dad's birthday.  Ideally both.  This project fits the bill, though it may look a bit familiar to you.

Two years ago, I hunted down red fabric to make some dishtowels for my dad's birthday.  Two years later, they're still in use, but battered, burned, and well-loved.  I was in New York this past weekend at my parents' house and tracked down those 2012 dishtowels to do a "Where Are They Now" photo.  Here's the one in the best shape:

Clearly two years of use has aged these guys and it's time for some new handmade red dishtowels.  I trekked to Joann to find some different red fabric to use this year.  Finding red fabric in non-girly patterns is surprisingly hard, so I grabbed a red polka dot pattern (manly) and a red heart pattern (since if you can't tell your dear old dad that you "heart" him, who can you tell?).

I sewed these the same way as last time, but I added a double seam to make sure the fabric stayed on for years and years of use and abuse:

Happy birthday, Dad!  Now that I've found a go-to gift for you, I hope you're okay receiving these dishtowels every two years.  Here's to many more years of chocolate cake, "go around the table" toasting, and you cooking your own (always delicious) birthday dinner!

Friday, March 7, 2014

St. Patrick's Day Drink Ideas

Ohhhh St. Patrick's Day, how I love you and how my husband hates you.  St. Patrick's Day is my favorite day and every year Charlie and I almost get a divorce.  I don't really care for whiskey so staying away from whiskey is not normally an issue...but it's EVERYWHERE and in EVERYTHING on St. Patrick's Day...especially in car I right?!  Anyway, whiskey and I don't agree.  I become defiant ...even more so than normal.  I know, I know, hard to believe.  Not a good sight.  Long story short, I've done some research and here are some great St. Patrick's Day drink ideas - some with whiskey...some without, but all delicious in their own right.  Check 'em.

1.  Boozy Mint Chip Shakes from The Culinary Chronicles.  YUM YUM.

2.  Shamrock Cocktail Shooter by The Slow Roasted Italian.

3.  Irish Car Bomb Jello Shots by E is for Eat.

4. Check out this Guinness Ice Cream Float by Acute Design.

5. Honeydew, Cucumber, Mint, Mojitos by Thyme.

Stay thirsty...and married!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

40 Bags in 40 Days: Decluttering for Spring

Boy, was Fat Tuesday crazy around here.  Just kidding.  I ate hummus and chips for dinner, talked to Jesse as if I were the "doge" meme, read for about 4 minutes, and was asleep by 9:30 (such motherhood).  But the end of Fat Tuesday (and the end of all of the colorful, boozy pictures that my younger, more energetic friends are posting on Instagram) signifies the beginning of Lent and I'm doing something different this year.

I first read about the "40 Bags in 40 Days" idea, a Lenten/pre-Spring Clean, a few years ago on Memories on Clover Lane though it's been done by many a blogger (and many more, I'm sure, a person who doesn't document this sort of thing online).  The premise is simple - over the next 40 days before Easter, get 40 trash bags out of your house.  The bags can be actual trash, recycling, donations, things to sell, etc. but the idea is to purge and declutter.  And I need to declutter in the worst way around here.

Jesse has said to me, more than once, "I can't believe you own a book called Nantucket Nights"

I'm certainly not alone in this purge for the next 40 days.  Other bloggers have shared suggested target lists.  There are printables available (though I'm just going to be keeping track on some regular printer paper). If hashtags are your thing, you can even #40bagsin40days.

So, armed with trash bags (and for the smaller areas, some old grocery store bags), I'm heading into the next 40 days hoping that my house comes out cleaner, neater, and easier to breathe in.  Though we've got major clutter in the pantry, in the medicine cabinets, and in the master bedroom closet, I'm starting today with my car which is way too full of catalogs, shopping bags, and coffee cups.  I'll keep you posted on how this whole process goes.  Anybody want to join me?

Monday, March 3, 2014

Dillman's Chicago

Dillman's Chicago opened up not too long ago and it's utterly insane that Charlie and I haven't been yet.  It's literally a five minute walk from our condo and I've heard nothing but fantastic things. In fact, my friend Katie says their kale salad will "make you cry."  It did, Dillman's.  It did indeed.

 The raw kale salad comes with toasted almond, quinoa, parmesan, mint, and sherry vinaigrette.  Don't worry.  This was the only slightly healthy thing we ordered.

This is their burger. OH MAN.  Their burger.  The same owner of Au Cheval owns Dillman's, and I don't know if you guys remember, by I posted about the burger from Au Cheval forever ago and still think about it.  This was just as good.

Speaking of crying, my mouth is crying tears of drool. 

This was the bacon and grits.  I was scared to eat the grits.  I could basically smell the cream and butter...divine...simply divine.  The bacon was thick cut, slow cooked and then crisped up.  Just how I like it.

SO when I was going bonkers over the burger, Charlie was going loco over the latkes.  Deep fried, crispy, with just the right amount of onion mixed in.  Savory with the perfect touch of sour cream and apple sauce.  Forgettaboutit.

I wish I never tried this place.  Because I'm going to be there NON STOP.  Nice work, Dillman's.  See you next weekend.