Friday, October 31, 2008

Pumpkin Toss

We're off to a Halloween soiree tonight (I still need to come up with a costume), but I thought I'd share these photos from our neighborhood park's festival last weekend. This giant device throws pumpkins sky high -- very cool. You can see them set it up, load the pumpkin, release the sling, and launch the wmd. We need to set one of these up in the backyard and see if we can clear the house.
The action shot (above). Click on the photo for closer look.
Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Recipe Rursday Bonus: Pecan Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Whoops - the recipe intended for today's Recipe Rursday (Balsamic Roasted Veggies) accidentally posted earlier this week. So, as a bonus, here's another roasted vegetable recipe. This took all of 5 minutes to assemble and has a wonderfully sweet but earthy flavor. I'm sure I'll make this again soon.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pecans (from Real Simple magazine)

2 pounds Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
1 cup pecans, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Kosher salt & black pepper

(I used one little bucket full of brussells sprouts, since thats how they come in my market. As a result, I halved all of the ingredients, including buying a smaller bag of pecans).

Prepare and Cook the Brussels Sprouts
Heat oven to 400° F. On a large rimmed baking sheet, toss the Brussels sprouts, pecans, oil, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Turn the Brussels sprouts cut-side down.

Roast until golden and tender, 20 to 25 minutes. (17 min. worked for us)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

A Talented Artist

Yesterday I received a package in the mail from Khloe, a very talented artist in my family. Khloe sent me a letter (typed by her mom) and her latest creation in the medium of pen, foam, and glue. In her latest work, I see anticipations of the abstractions and bright colors of Marc Chagall and even the op-art movement... How wonderful to think this sweet little girl could grow up and become anyone she wants -- even an artist. Not only is Khloe as sweet as can be (and I miss her), but she's got great parents as well (thanks for the package!).
(it's on the fridge!)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Birthday Love

This rather significant person in my life is one year older this month & I couldn't be happier to have spent another year of my life with him. Happy 31st, Chris.

Recipe Rursday: Roasted Veggie Goodness

Another simple recipe, with a big pay-off. Do you see a trend? This recipe (below) came from Epicurious, but it was first published in Bon Appetit. I've made four batches of this dish--each with a different combo of vegetables, perfect every time.
Balsamic Roasted Vegetables (made in Omaha, 8/08)
Another batch (w/carrots & yellow peppers) in October, 08.

Balsamic Roasted Vegetables
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil (you don't need this much - go for less)
3 garlic cloves, pressed (finely chopped)
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme*
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh basil* *these fresh herbs make the dish. Don't skip.

Veggies (see notes below)
Coarse kosher salt
Whisk vinegar and mustard in medium bowl. Gradually whisk in oil. Stir in garlic, thyme, and basil. Season to taste with salt & pepper. Dressing can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill.

Chop Veggies: Instead of following the recipe, use what veggies you have or that look good at the market. Squash, zucchini, always include onions (red onions work well), red/yellow/green peppers, once we even used carrots...I don't use eggplant b/c neither Chris or I are a fan when it's roasted. Cut the veggies into 1/2 in. strips (peppers) or 1/3 in. thick rounds (squash) and leave the onions in big chunks (*not sliced or diced - they'll burn to a crisp).

Preheat oven to 450°F. Toss onions and veggies in large bowl; sprinkle with coarse salt and pepper. Add dressing; toss to coat. Lay out in a large rimmed baking sheets (I lightly spray the tray first). Roast until vegetables are tender and slightly brown around edges, about 35 minutes (move them around on the tray 20 min. in).

Monday, October 27, 2008

Gotta Get My Craft On...

I don't know what's happened the last two months, but I've totally lost my crafty mojo--where I start making something like a crazy person. I have a great big space to play and...nothing. Nothing, for months.

The closest I've gotten is putting together the Halloween book we were given on last week's bus tour. Mom & I assembled them the day after, and I've started to fill mine with childhood Halloween photos. I only have 1976, '78, and '79 at this point (it'll take a while to dig up the oldies). fun.
The page below is a clear, acrylic page. I was Casper, 5 years old. Above, Raggedy Ann, 4 years old.
To be filled in later...

Song for Misses Palin

Made me laugh, had to share. It 'breaks down' near the end (at about 2:10). fabulous....and, "I love you".

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Around the Neighborhood

Carnival on Atwells Avenue, taken 10/10/08.

Door on Westminster Street, taken 10/24/08.Gas Station on Broadway, taken 10/25/08.

Mill on Carpenter Street, taken 10/25/08.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Scrapbooking Bus Tour & Tequila Shots

When is the last time you went on an 'great adventures' bus tour? Last Saturday, mom treated me to a crazy all-day scrapbooking adventure bus tour. We were up & out at 6:30 am, on the bus by 7:30 and on the road through 4 different states, before arriving home after 7pm. At each stop, the scrapbooking place had a 'make & take' for a Halloween album & drawings & giveaways & shopping discounts. It was all pretty overwhelming, to be honest (including the Shepherd's Pie served for lunch). On the whole, the bus tour was very awesome and a perfect thing to do with my mom. Mom gave it a B+, I gave it an A- (for a more detailed evaluation of the weekend, request the extended collection of graphs & 10pt-sub-divided rating scales from my dad).We spent the next day playing with our goodies & assembling Halloween albums.
But even better, Sunday night, we celebrated my mom's birthday at Don Jose Tequilas. Great paella, homemade margaritas, super sweet flan, & the classic birthday tequila shot! At one point she was given a giant sombrero, as well (yes, the picture is most appropriately fuzzy). Overall a perfect visit. Happy birthday mom, thanks for flying up!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Recipe Rursdays: Pirate Pumpkin Cheesecake

Last night, I made a pirate pumpkin cheesecake for Chris' b-day/Halloween, since he'll be at a conference for his actual birthday. Cheesecakes may be the easiest dessert possible. The crust is easy to make, but I bought one to save time. The recipe (below) is from my new favorite magazine (thank you anne & ashley!), Real Simple.
Pumpkin Cheesecake (from Real Simple)
1 .25 oz. envelope unflavored gelatin
1 8 oz. bar cream cheese
1 15 oz. can pumpkin puree
1 C sour cream
3/4 C granulated sugar
2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice (I made my own: cinnamon + nutmeg + ground cloves)
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

1. Dissolve gelatin in 1/4 C boiling water. Let stand, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes.
2. Using an electric mixer (I used a whisk), beat the cream cheese until smooth. Mix in the pumpkin, sour cream, sugar, pumpkin pie spice, and vanilla. Mix in the gelatin mixture until incorporated.
3. Pour mixture into the crust and refrigerate, covered, until firm, at least 2 hrs. and up to 2 days.
The Jolly Roger skulls, I downloaded from ReadyMade magazine & printed them on striped vellum. We didn't have wooden skewers in the house, so I thread the sails through angel hair pasta & used Gloo for the triangle sails.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Monday, October 20, 2008

Changing Leaves

Despite the perks of living in a big city like new york, it's easier to soak up the beauty of Fall when you live in Rhode Island. This past weekend, with my mom in town, she & I witnessed the peak of the Fall season in 4 different states. I'd say it's impossible to 'max out' on the views here. These pics are from the previous weekend (apple-picking)...
(Taken 10/12/08)

Friday, October 17, 2008

Happy October

Pumpkin Patch, North Scituate, RI (taken 10/12/08).

Rowan at the Picnic, North Scituate, RI (taken 10/12/08).

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Recipe Rursday: Chris' Sofrito Bean Burritos

Way back when Chris was 'courting' me, he made mushroom & sofrito black bean burritos for me for dinner. Soon after, at my request, he made an entire tray for me to eat all week. How could I not go out with him? The key ingredient in this dish has always been the sofrito that he throws in with the black beans. The final results are other worldly (unlike unicorns, which may have been from this world).
Sadly, I cannot include the precise proportions in Chris' dad's sofrito (shown above), since it's due to the hand of the master. But I do know that it includes a combination of recao (also known as culantro), green bell peppers, white onion, garlic, olive oil, and cilantro. I also know that while it resembles Goya's Recaito in appearance (as a green base/paste), nothing compares to this family recipe.
[sidenote: If you're looking for mild or subtle flavor (or, if you're my father & your favorite condiment is ketchup - love you, dad), don't bother investigating further. ]Basically, the black beans are cooked up with the sofrito (Chris' recommendation: don't be shy with it) until the beans have reduced a bit. Then load them into tortillas with cheese & avocado. We normally use shredded cheddar, but sometimes it's a use-what-you-got day. They're ready to eat, but you can also fill a casserole dish & bake them with cheese on top. The sofrito goes with everything, including soups & our favorite, beans & rice.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Gorgeousness of Fall

This weekend our friends, Jared, Kimberly, and little Rowan, drove up from nyc for a visit. Saturday night, we caught up, made plans for a podcast (to replace the Ricky Gervais show), and examined the likelihood of hypnotism revealing past-lives. Rest assured, my friends, I am not alone in my crazy theories about unicorns and psychics. Rowan proved to be beyond cuteness and maybe the most jovial little-one I've ever come across. His continual laughter? Incredibly charming. Made me want to stop being so serious all the time. Between unicorn rides.Sunday we lucked out with gorgeous weather & perfect timing for a drive out to the orchard we visited last fall. We had a picnic, walked through almost the entire orchard & pumpkin patch, and ate raspberries right off the vine. Never a fruit more sweet. Too bad for my fruit-phobic partner. More photos to come...

Saturday, October 11, 2008