Monday, April 28, 2014

Seattle Adventures

Greetings from Sunny Los Angeles!  After spending the weekend in Seattle for the wedding of one of my dearest college friends, I'm down in LA for a few days visiting my friend Jen & her family.  Jesse and Will are holding down the fort at home and while I miss them terribly, I'm enjoying my me-cation.  Mom-cation?  Va-Cai-tion?  Whatever.  I'm sleeping late and finally reading The Goldfinch and spent all weekend having cocktails with my college roommates.  Please forgive the blurry phone pictures - I knew I'd probably lose my nice camera if I brought it but then I spilled a drink on my phone halfway through the weekend (as you can probably tell below).

I think I've mentioned before that Jesse and I lived in Seattle for a few years before we moved to Brooklyn.  He had been promoted and transferred out there and, never having lived anywhere besides the Northeast myself, I was excited to move out there together.  Living in Seattle was one of the greatest adventures of my life - weekend trips to the islands off the coast of Washington, exploring the city on foot (with Fred), trying new foods and meeting new friends and generally adjusting to life together.  To say I was excited to be back in this beautiful city is an understatement (I just wish Jesse had been there!).

After a gorgeous and sunny boat cruise on Friday night and brunch with friends on Saturday morning, I headed out for a long walk around the city.  In three and a half hours of wandering I visited Pike Place Market, some of my favorite old stores, a handful of coffee shops, and the apartment that Jesse and I first lived in together.  I remembered things I'd forgotten about Seattle like how nobody out there jaywalks (SUPER weird) and the mnemonic device for remembering the layout of the downtown Seattle streets ("Jesus Christ Made Seattle Under Protest").  I loved feeling at home in a city that I hadn't been to in six years.  Even without Jesse there, I loved remembering what it was like to finally be living in the same city with only our young, crazy Basset Hound to care for. 

I'll be back later with some pictures from THE AMAZING WEDDING on Saturday night.  

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Crown Roast of Pork with Sausage Stuffing

If you've been following our posts this week, you know that we are celebrating our millionth hit.  In order to celebrate this awesome-crazy-holy cow how did we get here-when can we quit our day jobs milestone for us, I thought I'd make something really special. Sorry Caitlin, divert your vegetarian eyes.
Per our text convo: 

Jaisa:  I am making a very grand dish for this week - crown roast of pork with sausage and cherry stuffing. 
Caitlin: That sounds very grand but like a vegetarian nightmare.  It wasn't enough to use one kind of meat? 


It was nice that my blogging fell on Easter weekend, because I don't know if I could justify cooking this for two people otherwise...but holiday + milestone = I can cook anything I want.  My mom makes this every Christmas and I just always thought it was so grand and impressive.  I can still picture her walking it over to the dinner table and watching my dad's face light up.  I never dared to make it... UNTIL NOW... bom bom bommmmmm. 

I bought this at our usual grocery store, but if yours doesn't typically carry this cut, you can call and order it ahead of time.  

After removing those ridiculous looking gold hats, I rubbed the pork down lots of olive oil.  After doing that, I generously rubbed the outside with garlic powder, sea salt, and fresh cracked black pepper.

So since I cooked it for an hour first without the stuffing, I cooked it with a glass bowl so it wouldn't collapse on itself.  This was a good idea, because it was super easy to add the stuffing in later.

Here is a shot of the stuffing before adding it to the pork.  THIS IS THE BEST STUFFING EVER.  It has dried cherries, sausage, and is made with lots of butter and chicken stock.  I'll post the full recipe later this week.

So, after cooking the pork in a 350 degree oven for an hour, I took the glass bowl out and stuffed the top of the roast with lots of stuffing.  I put it back in the oven for another 45 minutes and the pork came out BEAUTIFUL.  Check out this shot below: 

This just came out so great.  The pork was unbelievably tender and perfectly moist and was so perfectly paired with the tart cherries in the stuffing.  MY OH MY.  This was top five things I have ever made.  I should know, because I've been eating it all day.  I actually stopped halfway through this post to make myself a stuffing and pork sando.  Lord help me.

Thank you to all of our awesome readers.  This one's for you.

Crown Roast of Pork with Sausage Stuffing 
6 lbs Crown Roast of Pork
Olive Oil
Garlic Powder
Sea or Kosher Salt
Fresh Cracked Black Pepper
Sausage Cherry Stuffing

Pre heat oven to 350 degrees.  Rub pork with olive oil and generously sprinkle with garlic, sea or kosher salt, and lots of fresh cracked pepper.  Place a bowl in between the bones and cook for 1 hour. Remove pork from oven and remove the bowl.  Stuff the inside with lots of stuffing and place back in the oven for another 30-45 minutes or until pork's internal temp reaches 140.  Rest for 5-10 minutes. Slice pork and serve with heaping spoonful of stuffing and cry tears of joy.

Stay hungry!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

A Million Hits, A Million Thank Yous

We can't believe it.  Our humble little Hardly Housewives blog just got to a MILLION HITS!  Not only has this been a labor of love (I use "labor" loosely...Caitlin is the only one of us that's actually gone through labor),  it has been the glue that's kept our long distance friendship together and as strong as ever.  We don't do it because it's our job.  We don't do it because we have to.  We do it because we love it, because we have a commitment to each other and our readers.  A hobby turned into a passion and in turn, that passion turned into a pretty cool accomplishment.  Who would have thought...we did it CStar...these hips don't lie.

Many things have happened since we started - new jobs, new baby, new camera angles, new outlooks, new meanings, new everything.  Even though we live over a thousand miles apart and haven't physically seen each other in almost two years, we will always have Hardly Housewives and we will always have this incredible milestone to remember.  

Thank you guys so much for reading.  From family, friends, to the many loyal readers we have never officially met...we can't thank you enough for sticking with us from the very beginning. (Yikes...please don't actually click on that looks like I posted that in the 60s).

Here are a couple of pics from the night that Caitlin and I officially decided we would be friends forever.  Yes, Caitlin is literally holding a wagon wheel and I am literally wearing a multi-colored fur scarf. 

Stay homey.  Stay hungry.  Stay Hardly Housewives.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Sausage Cherry Stuffing

I just love this recipe.  It's so easy, you can make it in one pot, and it tastes like pure homey heaven.  I paired this with the crown roast of pork recipe I made to celebrate Hardly Housewives' millionth hit and man oh man was just so darn good. 

So this is controversial, but I like to use baguette for my stuffing recipe.  It soaks up the chicken stock and all of the flavorful drippings from the sausage, and crisps up beautifully in the oven. Baguette. Boom.  After cubing it up, just toast it in the oven for 15-20 minutes in a 350 degree oven.  Just to dry it out a bit. 

The key to adding onion and celery to your stuffing is to chop it up do NOT want chunks of onion or celery in your stuffing.  Trust me on this.  If you don't like stuffing it's probably because of unruly chunks of celery. No spanks.

Next, brown up your Italian sausage.  I used to use Jimmy Dean sausage but then my Uncle Mike yelled at me so I use Italian now.  He was right.

After removing the sausage, you'll be left with all of the beautiful brown flavorful bits.  If you even THINK about disregarding these, then just forget it.  Power off your computer and go give yourself a long pep talk in a nearby mirror.  Because it's a crime to let flavor like this go.

In order to lift them off the bottom, crank the heat to high, add chicken stock (you could also use wine) bring to a simmer and scrape the bottom of the pan.  I pour the drippings into the sausage bowl, and then move on to the onion and celery.

Add a stick of unsalted butter.  Yes a stick.  So sue me.

Add your onions and celery and gently saute over medium heat until they become soft and translucent...about 5 minutes or so.

Add a quarter of a teaspoon of each dried sage and dried thyme.  I would have used fresh, but I forgot to buy them.  I always have dried herbs on hand and quite frankly, this worked great.  I also add a generous amount of freshly ground pepper.

Ok.  Here we go.  Add the sausage back into the pot.

And then add the baguette croutons and your chicken stock.  Add about 1 cup at a time stir, mix, and then keep adding more stock.  I added a total of about 5 cups.  This is where you have to "work" the stock into the stuffing.  I usually get in there with my hands, breaking down the big chunks of bread as I go.

After the bread has soaked up all of the stock and it's nice and moist, add a handful (about 1/4 cup) of dried cherries.  You can certainly add more, but I like just a hint.

This is what you want it to look like.

I mean, I could have eaten it like this.  Who am I kidding?  I totally did.  Like a bowl worth.

I cooked this in a 400 degree oven for about 30 minutes, until the top was golden, golden brown.

The key is to add as much stock as absolute possible without it becoming soupy...this way your stuffing will basically be a sausage bread pudding...not a dry stuffing mess. 

Drool to the face.  Sausage stuffing to the face.  I need a treadmill to the face.

Sausage Cherry Stuffing Recipe 
1 French Baguette
1 Lb Mild Italian Sausage
1 Cup of Finely Diced Yellow Onion
1 Cup of Finely Diced Celery
1 Stick of Unsalted Butter
1/4 Tsp of Dried Thyme
1/4 Tsp of Dried Sage
1/4 Tsp of Fresh Cracked Black Pepper
5 Cups of Low Sodium Chicken Stock
1/4 Cup of Dried Cherries

Cube and toast baguette.  Brown sausage from pan and remove.  Deglaze the pan with a 1/4 cup of chicken stock and scrape the bottom.  Pour drippings into the bowl with sausage.  In same pan, add butter and melt over medium heat.  Add celery, onion, thyme, sage and pepper and saute until veggies are soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add baguette and sausage to pan.  Pour stock and work stock in with your hands until stuffing is absolutely saturated - 1 cup at a time up to 5 cups.  Add cherries at the end and then bake in greased pan for 30 minutes at 400 degrees, or until stuffing is golden brown.

Stay hungry!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Thank You Cards (Made by Baby!)

A few weeks ago, we celebrated Will's first birthday party.  Once the guests left and the balloons deflated, we were left with a stack of awesome gifts from Will's generous friends & family.  I wanted everyone to know how much we appreciated them coming to Will's party (guests from as far as Chicago and DC!) and I wanted to make some sort of unique thank you cards.  At first I had a vision of Will with balloons on the front of a photo card, but the baby didn't feel like modeling and so I quickly gave up and went in a different, messier direction.

Here's how we made some homemade thank you notes in just a few (colorful) minutes:

I started with blank white notecards (from the craft store) and taped them down to some brown paper on my dining room table.  Instead of individually painting each card, which could get extra paint inside the card or on the back, I figured it would be faster and cleaner to paint all of the cards at once.

Next step - put some nontoxic finger paint on your baby's sweet little fingers.  Don't get too alarmed when he wants to climb all over the table.  He'll cover more territory that way.

Make sure he gets every card with some color...

...then whisk him up for a bath while the cards dry.  The next morning, remove the tape and - voila - a set of personalized cards made by baby.

Next step is to teach him to write out his own "thank yous".

We got lots of positive feedback from recipients on the cards.  I think DIY thank you cards might be a yearly thing that we do with Will.  These painted cards could also work well if you were making a set of cards as a gift - just make sure you have a recipient who likes to send snail mail and is okay with abstract baby art (hello, Grandma).

All in all, I'd say that Will's first art project was a big success!

Monday, April 14, 2014

A Minneapolis Food Crawl

Sorry for being so MIA. It's been a busy couple of weeks.  I went to Seattle, then Connecticut, then Minnesota, then Scottsdale and then next week I'm off to Florida!  Worky work, busy bee!  Well it's not all work, there's some play weaved in there. 

The great thing about being in Minnesota for work is that I also got to see my best friend Lauren, who moved there last winter.  Whenever we get together, there is nonstop laughter and ridiculousness.  We didn't really have a plan...just knew there would be lots of food and alcohol involved.  Here are a few shots of our amazing food crawl.  

We started our day off at King's.  This is their Tuscan kale salad with provolone cheese, roasted garlic dressing, croutons and crumbled egg.  I could have eaten this and this alone ALL...DAY.  

This was insane...this was their biscuits with white sausage gravy.  I

This dish was as delicious as it was beautiful.  It was an eggplant cannelloni with pickled eggplant, smoked eggplant and all kinds of other yummy things.

After we stuffed ourselves with brunch and like 14 mimosas, we continued our day at George & The Dragon for some wine.  We grabbed a table and some lumpia which are basically Filipino egg rolls.  So yummy.

After George & The Dragon, we sat outside at Broder's, this perfect little Italian place where we got some cold cuts...

...and some more vino.

Our food crawl ended and Lauren & Zan's house where Lauren made me fresh carrot and grapefruit juice vodka spritzers.  What a day.

As you can imagine, we didn't make it too far into the evening.  We ate, we drank, we laughed, we passed out.  I woke up on the floor next to the fireplace and then I made my way to the guest room bed. Which turned out to be Lauren and Zan's bed.  Man, I am such a treat.  

Stay hungry! 

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Springtime Party Favors (& a First Birthday)

This past weekend we celebrated Will's first birthday!  Time flies!  I didn't go nuts with decor, but made up a few "W1LL" banners to match the general theme of the Paperless Post invite we sent out:

The party was Saturday so we spent most of Friday evening cleaning & grocery shopping.  It seemed like we were all set - plenty of food, a clean outfit for the baby, dog-fur-free living room, birthday banner hung.  Once Will had gone to bed and Jesse was watching March Madness, I began to worry that we needed party favors for our guests.  I started out thinking we needed favors just for the kids but then thought to myself that I should have something for the adults, too.  When it's 8:45 at night and you live in the woods, you have somewhat limited options but I headed out to the closet Home Depot, which was open until 10 and bought, on a whim, some flower bulbs.  At the Target next door, I got some paper Easter grass and rushed home to assemble them with some plastic bags and ribbon I already had.

Here's what I came up with - I was pretty pleased...

...except they're basically the least kid-friendly favor ever.  We had 4 kids there besides Will and I think they were hoping that these were chocolates.  Sorry, kids, just gladiolus bulbs.  Also in hindsight I wish I had gone with bulbs that can be planted inside since some of our guests were apartment dwellers.  I had just grabbed gladiolus bulbs because a) it was late and b) I think they're really pretty.  Lesson learned!

Happy Birthday, Baby Will, and Happy Spring, readers!