Thursday, September 24, 2009


This is what it's come to people! Graduate school has taken it's toll. It's left me with no choice but to....bake cookies! Chocolate therapy. Sweet relief. Thanks America's Test Kitchen for yet another great recipe.

Am I concentrating on work or the cookie?

Monday, September 21, 2009

Tatting Update

So I thought I'd put up a a picture of the things that I have made over the past week. I feel like I'm really getting the hang of it.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Busy busy...

I had a lot of school work the past few days. Ah...starting to get busy. What joy. Despite the dozens of library books and writing, I was able to finish my tree skirt. I should have been done with it a long time ago but I got frustrated and just let it sit. :-P But it's basically done now, I just have a few ends to weave in on the back.

Take a look at my final product!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Butterfly Snowflake

I think I'm finally getting the hang of this stuff. This is supposed to be a Butterfly Snowflake. (use your imagination people!) I thought it was cute. And I was darn proud that I didn't screw it up. :-D I will continue practicing as much as a can but this annoying thing called graduate school keeps interfering with my real work. *sigh* I have some pattern books on the way, so maybe I can pencil in some time this weekend to explore new designs.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Mushroom Lasagna

I got this recipe in my weekly email from America's Test Kitchen. I believe I've mentioned them before but I'll say it again, these guys are awesome. They test and test and then test some more until the recipe is just right. And this Mushroom Lasagna did not disappoint. Now I'm not gonna lie, it was more labor intensive than my Italian Bolognese Lasagna but it is worth the work for special treat.

Recipe from Cook's Illustrated

If Italian fontina is unavailable, use whole milk mozzarella rather than a rubbery Danish, Swedish, or American fontina. Whole milk is best in the sauce, but skim or low-fat milk also work.


1/2ounce dried porcini mushrooms , rinsed well
1cup water
2pounds portobello mushroom caps (about 10 medium), cleaned and cut into 2- to 3-inch by 1/4-inch slices
4tablespoons olive oil
2large red onions , chopped medium (about 4 cups)
8ounces button mushrooms , cleaned, stems trimmed, and broken into rough pieces
4medium cloves garlic , minced or pressed through garlic press (about 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon)
1/2cup dry vermouth
3tablespoons unsalted butter , plus additional for greasing pan
3tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
3 1/2cups milk (see note above)
1/4teaspoon nutmeg
1/4cup minced fresh parsley leaves
1/4cup minced fresh basil leaves plus an additional 2 tablespoons
8ounces Italian fontina cheese , rind removed and shredded (about 2 1/4 cups)
1 1/2ounces grated Parmesan cheese (about 3/4 cup)
12no-boil lasagna noodles
1/2teaspoon grated lemon zest from 1 lemon


  1. 1. Cover porcinis with water in small microwave-safe bowl; cover with plastic wrap, cut several steam vents in plastic with paring knife, and microwave on high power for 30 seconds. Let stand until mushrooms soften, about 5 minutes. Lift mushrooms from liquid with fork and roughly chop (you should have about 3 tablespoons). Strain liquid through fine-mesh strainer lined with paper towel into medium bowl. Set mushrooms and liquid aside.

  2. 2. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Spread portobello mushrooms in even layer on rimmed baking sheet and drizzle with 2 tablespoons oil, tossing to coat mushrooms evenly; sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and toss again. Roast mushrooms until shriveled and all liquid released from mushrooms has evaporated, about 30 minutes, stirring halfway through cooking time. Set mushrooms aside to cool.

  3. 3. While portobellos roast, heat 1 tablespoon oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onions, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are browned around edges, about 10 minutes. Transfer onions to large bowl and set aside.

  4. 4. Meanwhile, process button mushrooms in food processor until uniformly coarsely chopped, about six 1-second pulses, stopping to scrape down bowl as needed. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in now-empty skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add chopped button mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned and all moisture has evaporated, 6 to 8 minutes.

  5. 5. Reduce heat to medium and stir in porcini mushrooms, 1 tablespoon garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until garlic is fragrant, about 1 minute. Add vermouth and cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid has evaporated, 2 to 3 minutes.

  6. 6. Add butter and cook until melted. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly, about 1 minute. Slowly add reserved porcini soaking liquid, scraping pan bottom to loosen browned bits. Add milk and nutmeg. Increase heat to medium-high and bring mixture to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until sauce has thickened and reached consistency of heavy cream, 10 to 15 minutes (you should have about 4 cups). Remove from heat and stir in 2 tablespoons parsley and 1/4 cup basil.

  7. 7. Combine fontina and Parmesan in medium bowl. Toss cooled portobello mushrooms with onions in large bowl. Place noodles in 13 by 9-inch ovensafe baking dish and cover with hot tap water; let soak 5 minutes, agitating noodles occasionally to prevent sticking. Remove noodles from water and place in single layer on kitchen towel. Wipe baking dish dry and coat with butter.

  8. 8. Using rubber spatula, evenly distribute 1 cup mushroom sauce in bottom of baking dish; position 3 noodles on top of sauce. Spread 3/4 cup sauce evenly over noodles followed by 2 cups mushroom-onion mixture and 3/4 cup cheese. Repeat layering of noodles, sauce, mushroom-onion mixture, and cheese two more times. Place 3 remaining noodles on top of last layer of cheese. Spread remaining sauce over noodles and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Lightly spray large sheet of foil with nonstick cooking spray and cover lasagna. Bake until bubbling, about 20 minutes.

  9. 9. While lasagna is baking, combine remaining 2 tablespoons parsley, 2 tablespoons basil, and 1 teaspoon garlic with zest in small bowl. Increase oven temperature to 500 degrees, remove foil from lasagna, and continue to bake until cheese on top becomes spotty brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove lasagna from oven and immediately sprinkle evenly with herb mixture. Cool 15 minutes, then cut into pieces and serve.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Adding to my hobby

So if crocheting wasn't enough, I'm adding another "skill". Tatting. Tatting is a technique for handcrafting a particularly durable lace constructed by a series of knots and loops. Tatting can be used to make lace edging as well as doilies, collars, and other decorative pieces.

Here are my first attempts. I hope to try some patterns out but unfortunately graduate work is starting to pick up (boooo...).

Not bad for a first attempt eh? A little wonky.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Say Hello to Buddy

Buddy is an Eastern Hercules Beetle. We found him roaming the Target parking lot and decided that wasn't the safest place for him to be. So we brought him home and made a temporary enclosure until we decide where to release him. He likes burrowing in the dirt and maple syrup.

"Hi Buddy"

Pumpkin Spice Quickbread

What a great way to start the day: a toasted piece of pumpkin bread with a little cream cheese. The quick bread mix at Williams-Sonoma is such a great cheat. I also buy their pecan pumpkin butter. When I make the quickbread, I leave out the real butter it calls for and I use a 1/2 jar of the pumpkin butter. Makes it a little less fattening and very moist.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Thank you Williams-Sonoma

Williams-Sonoma has been a favorite store of mine for a long time. Not to mention I worked there for like four years during my undergraduate years. Not only do they provide quality products to the ardent cook but come Fall, they have a ton of pumpkin spice products. I am a huge fan of the Pumpkin Spice Quick Bread (which I will blog on maybe tomorrow, my loaf is cooling and I'm supposed to be finishing a paper on "What is Atlantic History"). And who can't forget the Pecan Pumpkin Butter. Also back by popular demand (at least I demand it!) is the Pumpkin Curry Simmering Sauce.

Usually I make this with couscous but I was out this is with Saffron Rice.

But this year they have introduced 2 new pumpkin products. First up (I am very excited about) is their Pumpkin Spice Latte Syrup! This stuff is AMAZING! No high fructose corn syrup. And get this people, it's made with real pumpkin puree. I just had to try some tonight!

Also new this year is a Pumpkin Parmesan Pasta Sauce. I haven't tried this yet but I will. I am thinking of making it with homemade potato gnocchi.

Hm...Am I pumpkin crazy?

Fall Blanket

Here is the finished blanket that I have been working on. It's made with beautiful fall colors. I used the Vanna's Choice Yarn from Michaels in Beige, Chocolate, Brick and Rust. This will keep me cozy and warm once the thermometer starts to go down.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Double Take!

What a find! These two sweaters are each $20 at Old Navy right now. Both are inexpensive imitations of high end favorites.

This first sweater is what Old Navy calls their Boucle Henley Sweater. It looks a lot like the JCrew Cashmere Henley from last year. I won't say how much that one was but it was considerably more than $20.

This next one Old Navy calls their Three Button Raglan Sweater. It looks a lot like the Boden sweater called Favorite Crewneck that retails for $58.

I'm not one for regularly shopping at Old Navy. I find that their quality just doesn't stand up over time. But I was presently surprised when I went to check out these sweaters to find they were actually pretty well made.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

New Necklace from Etsy

I just love Etsy. I found this necklace on there last week and had to order it. I think petite jewelry always looks classy and simple. So this heart necklace fits the bill perfectly.

It's from the shop of Lisa Hopkins Design

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Houston...We have a tomato!

Well it feels like rocket science any how. Sheesh. It's September and I'm getting my first tomato. Actually I can't complain, I started these plants from seeds and I'm happy they've lasted this long. Seriously though, I have totally babied these plants. And today I accidentally broke a piece off with 3 tomatoes and some blooms. I got teary eyed!

Anyway, hopefully as the weather starts to cool down the tomatoes on my plants will start to ripen. For now here is the first look at my Italian Ice Tomato.

The tomato starts out green of course, then turns a white-ish green to a light yellow.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Spiced Apples

It's the beginning of apple season up here in NC. I absolutely love this recipe for spiced apples. I got it from a Williams-Sonoma catalog a couple years ago. (if you haven't noticed recipes sprinkled throughout the catalog, you should take a closer look) The recipe is very easy to throw together and the end product can be used in many things. I like spiced apple stuffed pancakes (as you can see) and putting them in my cook steel cut oatmeal with a little syrup and walnuts. Or maybe even just warmed up with some ice cream on top. Yum!

Here's the recipe:
3 apples peeled & grated (any baking variety would do)
1 Tbs. butter
3 Tbs. brown sugar
1/8 tsp. ground ginger
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
splash of lemon juice

Combine all of this in a saucepan over medium heat and cook for 30 min. Stir occasionally.

The recipe was originally for spiced apple-filled pancakes using their Ebelskiver pan but that's a tedious process and we learned how to make regular sized stuffed pancakes. Some times when spooning in the spiced apples we add a little cream cheese too. Oh so good!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

French Country Hat

I love this hat!!!! Perfect for the coming fall and winter. It took a little bit of reworking b/c I apparently have a small head but I think it came out quite nicely. And the chrysanthemum was very easy to make and beautiful. I wonder if it would make nice pins in other colors? Hm....

I got the pattern from a girl on Etsy. If you haven't tried Etsy, you are missing out!