Saturday, March 31, 2012

Easy crock pot chili (recipe).

This is a very simple and fast chili recipe that will give you a hearty dinner on a day when you don't have much time to spend preparing dinner. Simply brown the beef, onion, and garlic, then add everything else to the slow cooker in the morning; at the end of the day all you have to do is dish it out and sprinkle some cheese on top.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Brown butter cream sauce (recipe).

I love making roux based sauces; they are so versatile, and they come together pretty quickly. Making sauces this way is one of the first kitchen tricks that my mom taught me when I was a child. It is a very common technique in French and Cajun cooking, and it is not nearly as difficult as many people believe.

A roux is simply a mixture of flour and fat that is used to thicken sauces. This technique can be used to make rich gravies, creamy cheese sauces (great on broccoli, or in mac & cheese), and simple white sauces (bechamels). To change the thickness of the resulting sauce, simply adjust the ratio of roux to liquid that is used; Here is a good guide on the proportions to use in order to get the desired consistency.

This version is creamy and just a little bit cheesy, so it was the perfect addition to our ravioli. The browned butter imparted a lovely, slightly nutty, flavor to the sauce that balanced the sharpness of the romano cheese that I used.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

CMYK: Bring on the brights (treasury Tuesday).

Happy Spring! I am loving the longer days and late sunsets.

We had a rainy weekend here (Irish weather for St. Patrick's Day!), so I needed some bright colors to cheer up the day. I can't look at Cyan, magenta, and yellow without smiling; they are such happy colors. I hope you all enjoy this treasury as much as I do (click on the caption under the picture to see the collection on Etsy).

CMYK: Bring on the brights.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

I've been tagged!

Way back on March 9th, Julie from White Lights on Wednesday tagged me in her round of the Blog Tag game, and now I'm finally getting around to responding.

Since this is similar to the Versatile Blogger Award that I did last month, I decided to only tag a few people who I didn't get to include last time. If you want to play along, I'd be delighted! Just leave a comment, and I will be happy to add a link to your blog.

The Rules
I'm bending them, but here's the "official" rules for the game:
1) You must post the rules.
2) Answer the 11 questions that the tagger posted for you and then create 11 questions to ask the people you've tagged.
3) Tag 11 people and link them in your post.
4) Let them know you have tagged them.

Julie's Questions
1) What's your favorite ice cream flavor?
I love almost all of them (except chocolate, which is the hubby's favorite), but my absolute favorite is the Haagen-Dazs java chip. I can easily eat a whole pint of that in one sitting!

2) Where do you live?
We're happy to call San Diego, CA home for the time being.

3) What's your favorite song?
Spanish Harlem Incident by Bob Dylan. When we were first dating, Matt told me that this song reminded him of me. Now it makes me smile every time I hear it.

4) If you could be instantly be awesome at anything, what would it be?
Music, or if that's too broad, singing. I am certifiably tone deaf, and it's not pretty folks.

5) What's your WordFeud/Words with Friends ID?
Ever1derwhynot, and I'm addicted to Words with Friends, so I'd love to play against y'all!

6) What's your favorite blog to read and why?
This is a toughie, but recently I've been getting a huge kick out of Aiming Low: Perfectly Mediocre. I always end up laughing reading the posts, and since it's a collaboration, I've been introduced to a few fun new blogs this way too.

7) If you were stuck on a desert island, what 3 things could you not live without?
My hubby for company, my kindle for entertainment (this island has wifi and electricity, right?), and Johnnie Walker for sipping.

8) What book do you find yourself reading over and over again?
Anything by Kurt Vonnegut. I've read the all so many times that now I can just flip a book open and start reading anywhere.

9) What's your favorite junk food?
New York style pizza; I could eat it every day and be happy (if you're in San Diego, check out Bronx pizza in Hillcrest for the best NY pizza around!).

10) Show me a picture of your favorite purse!
Technically this is a camera bag, but I have been drooling over it for a long time now (sadly it's been out of stock for a long time). It's the Millie bag in pewter from Jo Totes.

11) What's your favorite movie?
This is a tough question because my favorite movie changes frequently... I'd say my current favorite is Across the Universe.

My questions
1) What's the last book you read?
2) What's the best concert you've been to? Or the one concert that you most wish you could go to?
3) What's your favorite place in the world?
4) If you had to eat only one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?
5) Who is your favorite author?
6) If you could have one superpower, what would it be?
7) What's one gadget you use that you could not live without?
8) What's your favorite color?
9) What's your favorite way to waste time online?
10) Would you rather craft or cook?
11) Where did you grow up?

Bloggers I'm tagging
Lyuba from Will Cook for Smiles
Carmella from Creative Carmella
Dana from The Sunshine Bride
Delilah from Confessions of a Semi-Domesticated Mama

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Playing catch-up.

I have two exciting things to share with you today! I meant to post this a few days ago, but like I mentioned last week, this is an incredibly busy month for me, and I'm still adjusting to my new schedule.

First off, I got the chance to name this amazingly delicious looking dish:

Crab, shrimp, tomatoes, coconut milk, oh my!
Lyuba from Will Cook For Smiles created this dish, but wasn't sure what to name it so she asked the blogging world for help. In honor of her blog name, I suggested she call it "Smiling Thai Crab." I was so excited when she contacted me a few days later to inform me that she had chosen my entry! She even featured MdoubleM in her blog!

I can't wait to make this, it sounds amazing. You can find the recipe here, and the announcement/feature here. Don't forget to check out the rest of her blog too (just try not to drool on yourself!).

The second bit of news is that I won a mystery giveaway from Creative Carmella last week (I'm feeling the luck of the Irish this month ♣). Carmella sent me a package full of lots and lots of little goodies handmade by her; these pictures show just a few of the things she sent me (aren't those bobby pins adorable?!). What a sweet crafty girl!
I love the pastels!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

"Pastel" me a story (treasury Tuesday).

After putting this collection together, I'm ready for soft Spring breezes, blue skies, and chocolate Easter bunnies! ... and yes, I know that "pastel me a story" is a really cheesy pun, but I just couldn't help myself. Sorry ;)
"Pastel" me a story

We have had some nice Spring-like weather here (only two more weeks and it is officially Spring!), but we've also had some yucky grey weather recently. Basically the weather has been flip-flopping every few days; I wish it would just stay warm.

My birthday was a few weeks ago, and luckily it happened to be a beautiful day. We had a lovely picnic in one of the local parks. Here I am (you can also see my awesome new camera bag on the right - the hubby got it for me from Etsy!).

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Fingerprint heart card (DIY).

Matt's birthday was last week, so now I can show you all the birthday card I made for him!

To make the marbled heart, I cut a stencil out of paper, taped it to the card, then used an ink pad and my fingers to fill in the shape. I kept on adding fingerprints until it looked how I wanted it too. You could do this with any colors and any shape.

I really like this stenciling technique, and will definitely use it again in the future.

I freehanded the rest of the card. The lettering is done with a fine paintbrush and acrylic paint; the border is fine tipped Sharpie markers.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Crock pot buffalo chicken dip (recipe).

I'm still here! I must apologize for not posting regularly this week. It's been a busy one! March is going to be a busy month too, so I might have to drop down to two posts a week for a while. Please forgive me!

I've still been cooking, so I have lots of recipes in store for you this next month... Here's what we ate at book club last weekend.

This buffalo chicken dip was amazing! Everyone raved about how tasty this was. It's so easy to make too - I based the recipe on this one, but added my own twist to it. My recipe is at the bottom of the post. Even though there is a lot of hot sauce in the recipe, the end result was not overly spicy. Trust me... the cream cheese and ranch really mellow out the heat.