Sunday, February 21, 2010

Oh joy, new camera!

Happy birthday to me!

Yes, that's right, this year for my birthday, I got a fancy new camera! I decided I have waited long enough, it was time for a DSLR. I got a Canon Rebel XSi, and so far I love it! Here's just a smattering of photos...


Simon 3

Simon 5


Wine corks 3

Wine corks 1

Isn't this fun?? Well, it is for me :)

So now, let's talk a little bit about food! Last night, Chris and I had a friend over, and we cooked some new york steaks from Costco. Oh they were pretty!

Steak cooking

We also cooked some fingerling potatoes...

Potatoes cutting

Potatoes cooking

Finished potatoes

Tasty dinner!

We actually had 4 steaks, and 3 people, so we cooked the extra steak and stuck it in the fridge to make steak salad today. For this, we did a simple salad of green leaf lettuce, orange and yellow bell peppers, red onion, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar. And of course, the cold steak. I truly love cold steak!

Cold steak (4)

Steak salad (8)

So tasty, and now my pictures actually can portray the deliciousness!

Thanks to everyone who helped pitch in to make this a great birthday present!

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentine's Day Cioppino

For most, Valentine's day is all about decadence, sharing amazing food with the one you love, exchanging gifts, spending time together. Generally this means going out to eat for an overly expensive dinner. Chris and I have a different tradition: we cook together. This tradition started last year (so I guess it's only now becoming a tradition!) mostly because we've got Christmas in December, Chris' birthday in Jan, and mine in March, do we really need an excuse to go out for ANOTHER expensive dinner, and exchange MORE gifts?! No. But unlike most meals we cook, we go all out for Valentine's Day, because we figure no matter what you end up making, it will inevitably be 1/3 as expensive as going out. Maybe less.

Since Chris and I both love seafood, this year we decided to go with cioppino. Why cioppino? Because you can put whatever seafood you want in it! All different kinds, as much as you want! What is better than crab and scallops and seabass and mussels?? It really doesn't get much more seafood-indulgent than that!

Valentine's Day Cioppino

This recipe is courtesy of Epicurious, but I will post our version since we altered it a bit.
  • 4 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 dried bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled
  • 2-3 teaspoons dried hot red pepper flakes
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 4 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 cups dry red wine
  • 1 can (28oz) whole plum tomatoes, drained, reserving juice, and chopped
  • 1 can (10oz) clams
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 large king crab legs, thawed
  • 12 mussels, scrubbed
  • 1 10oz seabass fillet, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces
  • 3/4 pound scallops
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil
  • Toasted sourdough bread for dipping.

Cook garlic, onions, bay leaf, oregano, and red pepper flakes with salt and pepper in oil in an 8-quart heavy pot over moderate heat, stirring, until onions are softened, about 5 minutes.

Stir in bell pepper and tomato paste and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add wine and boil until reduced by about half, 5 to 6 minutes. Add tomatoes with their juice, clams and juice, and broth and simmer, covered, 90 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Go sit down and watch some TV with your honey. The olympics are on!

Somewhere toward the end of the simmering, hack crab legs through shell into 2- to 3-inch pieces with a large heavy knife. Cut up seabass and scallops to bite-sized chunks. Lock kitty in the bedroom since he won't leave the seafood alone.

Add crab pieces and mussels to stew and simmer, covered, until mussels just open, 5 to 10 minutes, checking every minute after 5 minutes and transferring opened mussels to a bowl with tongs or a slotted spoon. (Discard any unopened mussels after 10 minutes.) Lightly season fish fillets and scallops with salt and add to stew, then simmer, covered, until just cooked through, about 5 minutes. Discard bay leaf, then return mussels to pot and gently stir in parsley and basil.

Serve cioppino immediately in large soup bowls with toasted sourdough bread and a delightful glass of wine. Tonight we drank the Pahlmeyer Jason Pinot Noir 2005 that I gave Chris for Christmas, but I won't go into that now. It deserves its own post!

Now this is a dish worth celebrating with!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Drip Beef for Super Bowl

For this year's Super Bowl, Chris and I had a couple of friends over to watch, cheer, and of course, to eat. When deciding what to make for a mid-game meal, a couple of staples come to mind... pizza, wings, bbq pork, etc. Buuut then I was reading the A Pioneer Woman Cooks blog, and she had a recipe for drip beef that just looked divine. What I love about her blog is that she takes pictures of EVERYTHING she does, and the way she photographs everything just makes it look to-die-for delicious.

Therefore, since my camera makes things look like they taste like cardboard, I will direct you straight to her post on drip beef:

Drip Beef by Ree Drummond

Chris and I tackled the first preparation, with the peppers and the italian seasoning. Though we added some caramelized onions, like in the second recipe. We didn't have the fancy italian seasoning that she had, so we had to use her suggestion of the Good Seasons italian dressing dry packets, of which we used two for our 4 lb chuck roast. Also, we performed the cooking in the crock pot, for about 9 hours the day before the game. Then, as she suggested, we cooled overnight, skimmed the fat off the top, and reheated in the crock pot in time for the game! Then, in true Chicago style, we dipped the buns in the liquid before loading the meat on, instead of providing people with their own little au jus cup.