Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Grandma Chic

Dress (Worn as a top): New York and Company, Red Jeans: LTB, Shoes: Urban Outfitters, Shawl: Vintage, Black Scarf: Charming Charlie, Sunglasses: Forever 21, Watch: Fossil, Bracelets: Forever 21, Earrings: Charlotte Russe

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

An Ode to Uggs

After a night on Beale Street in heels, my feet were destroyed.  I'm kind of a baby about heels anyway, but Heels + Beale Street = Sad Face.  So the next day, I had to wear Uggs.  People are funny about Uggs (i.e. they hate them), but I love mine.  I think they are comfy, cute, and kind of hilarious.  The trick is to do something interesting with them.  When I was in college, everyone wore them with sweatpants with words all over their butts and they looked like morons.  I try to dress mine up.  I wore this to choir rehearsal/family dinner/bonfire with friends on Sunday and it was perfect for all three.

Shirt: Forever 21, White Jeans: Wal-Mart (yes, I said Wal-Mart), Scarves: Thrifted, Pearl and Chain Necklace: diy, Bracelets: Forever 21, Earrings: Charlotte Russe, Good Hair: Luck

Monday, October 29, 2012

Personalized Lasagnas

Who doesn't love lasagna?  It's comfort food at its best: meaty, saucy, cheesy, noodle-y.  But for two people, a whole lasagna is a little much.  We end up eating lasagna for a week and by then we're over it.  So we've starting making lasagna in loaf pans.  It makes for about 4 servings, which is perfect for two people.  The other night, however, we decided to make personalized lasagnas.  This was so fun!  As I've mentioned before, Olie doesn't really like cheese, so he went with a more meaty and saucy lasagna.  And I am obsessed with cheese, so I made fresh ricotta for mine.  

My lasagna: Italian sausage, mushrooms, peas, mozzarella, ricottahomemade marinara

Olie's lasagna: Italian sausage, pepperonis, peas, homemade marinara

Lasagna tip: I prefer the old-school lasagna noodles that you have to boil first.  The new oven-ready noodles are convenient, but they just aren't as good.  It's not really a big deal to boil the noodles.

We ended up with enough leftover toppings and noodles to make a third lasagna to go in the freezer for later.  Can't wait to bust that out in a few weeks.
His and Hers lasagnas.

Fresh ricotta



Boiled noodles.  So much better.

Before baking.

Voila!  Two lasagnas!  Everyone wins!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

A Bit Of Grunge

Jacket, Shirt, and Skirt: All Old Navy,  Boots: DSW, Hat: Gifted, Earrings: Charlotte Russe, Bracelets: Forever 21

Friday, October 26, 2012

Chocolate-Hazelnut Banana Bread

I'm a huge fan of the magazine Cooking Light.  It's a great magazine for everyday sort of chefs, like myself.  The recipes are interesting but not outrageous.  My favorites, though, are definitely their baking recipes.  When you think of light baking, normally dry, brown, unsweetened baked goods come to mind.  The kind you try and tell yourself are yummy, but actually taste like old cardboard.  Cooking Light's baked goods are totally the opposite.  They are always delicious, moist, and perfectly sweetened.  When I saw the article on quick-breads in the October issue, I knew they would all be awesome.  So far, I've only tried this bread, because I had all of the ingredients, but I can't wait to try the Maple-Stout Quick Bread and the Kumquat Cranberry Cornmeal Loaf.

I know that this little piece of banana bread looks a bit humble, but trust me, it packs a wallop.  To quote my husband, "I don't think those pictures you took of that banana bread are good enough, I think you should make it again so you can get more pictures."

Sneaky Olie.  Very sneaky.

Chocolate-Hazelnut Banana Bread
5 tablespoons Nutella (or the knock-off, it tastes just as good)
3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon canola oil, divided
3 tablespoons softened butter
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 medium ripe bananas (I used one big banana)
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (sifted and remeasured)
3/4 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup whole buttermilk (I made my own, 2/3 cups regular milk + 1 tablespoon white vinegar.  Let sit for five minutes and you're good to go)
Baking spray with flour
1/4 cup hazelnuts, coarsely chopped (I used walnuts and it was still delicious)
1 ounce bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

Microwave Nutella and 1 teaspoon oil for 30 seconds.  Stir and set aside.

Combine 3 tablespoons oil, butter, brown sugar, and banana in a bowl or in KitchenAid mixer.  Beat on a medium-high speed until well blended.  Mine still had little chunks of banana and butter floating in it, and it was fine.

Add eggs one at a time.  Beat well after you add each egg.

Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.  Beat banana mixture on low and add alternately flour and milk, starting with the flour.  Your batter should now look like this:
Spray loaf pan with baking spray with flour.  Pour half of the batter in the loaf pan.  Drizzle the melted Nutella over the batter.  Like this:
Then add the second half of the batter.  Take a toothpick and swirl it through the batter.  Top batter with nuts, like this:
Cook in a preheated 350 degree oven for 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the bread comes out with some moist crumbs clinging to it.  It should look like this:
Let the bread cool.  Take it out of the loaf pan.  Microwave the bittersweet chocolate.  Drizzle over the bread.  Mine didn't really drizzle, I spread it over like frosting.  But it still looked beautiful.  And was absolutely delicious!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Mixing it Up

Dress: New York and Company, Sweatshirt: Old, can't remember where it is from, Purse: Aldo,

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Mexican Chicken and Rice Soup

I've been nursing a pretty bad cold this week, so cooking hasn't been at the top of my list. Mostly I've just been lying on the couch watching South Park reruns and napping. But yesterday I was craving Mexican Chicken and Rice soup, so I pulled myself off the couch to make it. It was exactly what I needed.  It's hot, steamy, spicy, and delicious. Perfect for a stuffy nose!

1.  Make pico de gallo.  Remember the recipe? It's printed here.

2.  Rub two chicken breasts in taco seasoning. Roast in a 400 degree oven for about 30 minutes or until fully cooked. Set aside.

3.  Make rice. I used brown rice cuz that's what was in my pantry.

4.  Dice a whole onion.  Sauté until soft. Add about a cup of salsa (jarred is fine, I used Pace), and 4 cups of chicken stock.  Add a bay leaf and let simmer for a bit.

5.  Shred chicken. Add to broth.  I don't add the rice to the soup, I do it at the table. Sometimes, with a lot of reheating, the rice will break down leaving starchy goo in its place. Not appetizing.

6.  Spoon rice into individual bowls. Add soup. Top with pico de gallo and diced avocado.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Slouchy Remix

Wore this to a movie night with friends on Friday.  You probably remember this dress from here.  I've been dying to wear it again, and decided to go more relaxed this time around.  I love wearing dresses as skirts, it's a great way to remix pieces in your closet.

Dress (worn as skirt): Urban Outfitters, Sweater: Gap (men's), Boots: Target, Jewels: Usual mix of Forever 21 and forgotten stores.  I think that top necklace is from Stein Mart.  Check out their jewels, they are cute and cheap.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Painting Update

These are the paintings I've been working on this week.  I didn't change the bottom painting much, I just took out the text.  I'm pretty pleased with these, I think I'm gonna let them be for a bit.  Thoughts?

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Yams Everywhere

Here I am in my kitchen.  This is where I spend most of my time.  The kitchen is my absolute favorite part of our new apartment.  The last apartment had a kitchen about the size of a matchbox.  Cooking in it was a nightmare.  This kitchen has tons of counter space and a dishwasher!  Saves me so much time.  I also love the light in the new kitchen.  However, decorating in a rented space is really hard for me.  I can't paint the walls, I don't want to make too many holes in the wall, etc.  Any suggestions?

Dress: Gap, Dress worn as a shirt: Forever 21, Watch: Fossil, Jewels: Gifts, Souvenirs, and Forever 21

P.S. Excuse my Two Chains reference, I couldn't help myself.