September 24, 2012

Crock Pot Edition: Beef Stew

Until this past Sunday, I was a Crock Pot virgin.  I have an irrational fear of things catching on fire so the idea of leaving anything on in my apartment while I'm not there makes me break out in a cold sweat.  In an exercise of 'exposure therapy,' I decided to cave and buy one, proving that my love for hearty meals conquers all.

After Googling 'Crock Pot Recipes' for inspiration, I mainly wanted to gag after meals like Cheeseburger Soup, Cream Cheese Chicken and something called 'Texas Goulash' popped up.  Last I checked, I'm not on an episode of Here Comes Honey Boo Boo* and I'm not making 'sketti' so my crock pot will be used only for good...not evil. 

On that note, my first crock pot meal was a beef stew.  Normally I wouldn't immediately blog a recipe without trying it out a few times first, but this was an adaptation from Martha Stewart...and Martha Stewart can really do no wrong.  Plus, Ryan loved it so my focus group of one says it's ready to be shared.  Bon appetit!

Ingredients
3 lbs. beef chuck
1 large white onion
1 bag white pearl onions
1 lb. carrots
2 lbs. red & Yukon gold potatoes
4 cloves garlic
4 bay leaves
2 tsp. Kosher salt
1 tbs. coarse pepper

1/3 c. tomato paste
1/4 c. red wine
1/4 c. beef broth
2 tbs. balsamic vineager
1 tbs. corn starch or flour

Below is a photo of all the main ingredients.  This was literally all I could fit in the photo so you'll have to use your imagination to paint a picture of salt, pepper, corn starch and the other boring but essential items.

Instructions
  • Cube the beef in to 1" squares, trimming off excess fat. 
  • Wash and scrub your potatoes, then dice in to smaller pieces.
  • Peel and slice carrots and white onion. 
  • Peel garlic and press or mince in to fine pieces. 
  • Broil pearl white onions in oven on high for about 10 minutes.  Once they're cooked a bit, you can easily pop their skin off, leaving just the little onion.
  • Add ingredients above to your crock pot. 
  • In a small bowl, combine beef broth, tomato paste, red wine, balsamic vinegar, corn starch, salt and pepper.  Use a whisk or fork to gently blend together. 
  • Pour liquid in to your crock pot and top with several bay leaves. 
  • Cook on low heat for 7-8 hours (basting occasionally) and enjoy.


*In all seriousness, I love this show and the Thompson family is hilarious...their eating habits are just as nasty as the game Guess Whose Breath.

Kate Spade + Paperless Post = Yes, Please

The Charlotte York part of me* is giddy from the announcement that Kate Spade has created a line of greetings for Paperless Post.  

Yippy!  

Sometimes, stuff from Kate Spade gets a little prissy for my taste. Like a hybrid of what Suri Cruise + An American Girl Doll + Betty Draper would wear.  These cards, however, are colorful and sparkly and make me happy inside.  They're fancy because they're Kate Spade and their casual because they're an online card.  They're perfect.


*If I were an amalgamation of all four Sex & The City characters, I would be about 30% Carrie (adorably neurotic), 30% Charlotte (modern Mary Poppins), 20% Miranda (driven career woman) and 20% Samantha (no comment). 

September 23, 2012

I Am The Danger

In honor of tonight's Emmys, I wanted to share my newest, television-themed DIY project... 

It's a not so little secret that I'm a huge Breaking Bad fan.  It's so unique and runs you through such a roller coaster of suspense and emotions that it leaves you breathless at times.  Throughout the show, lead character Walter White transforms from mild-mannered chemistry teacher to full-blown, dangerous motherf---ing drug lord.  The moment below sums up this transformation in four little words:

I Am The Danger.  


Because I'm a huge dork, naturally I decided to make this line in to a cross stitch.  I modeled it after the show logo with the green coloring and periodic table style lettering.  It's my cross stitching masterpiece and you can make your own with my handy little pattern here.

September 20, 2012

Food On A Stick

I generally like foods that come on sticks, picks or skewers: popsicles, meatballs, caramel apples, fruit kabobs and corn dogs to name a few.  Also, anything wrapped in bacon or in a puff pastry or made in a muffin tin is pretty much a guaranteed good time in your mouth. 

My friend Celeste* and I hosted a couples cocktail wedding shower this last Saturday for our friend Sarah and whipped up some bite sized nibbles that I wanted to share.  In all the chaos of getting ready though, I only managed to snap a photo of my caprese on a stick. :( Luckily, this was one of my favorite appetizers we made so I thought I'd share.  It's literally the easiest thing ever and looks cute and fancy.

Just skewer a little mozzarella ball, leaf of basil and cherry tomato.  Voila!  Other finger foods from the menu included bacon wrapped shrimp, prosciutto wrapped asparagus, teriyaki meatballs, veggie + cream cheese crostinis, and more.


*I know I've mentioned this on here before, but it's worth mentioning again.  Celeste is a mutant form of a Super Mom who can entertain, clean house, bake and run a 10k all with a baby in one arm and while chatting on the phone with a friend.  And makes it look easy.  She also has the most incredible eye for design, so every shower, birthday party and luncheon she's ever thrown looks amazing.  Like her back patio where we had the shower.  See, isn't it beautiful?



September 16, 2012

90 Degrees & Pumpkin Decorating

Halloween is probably my favorite holiday.  I love the changing colors outside, the scary movie repeats on TV, kids and dogs dressed in costume, yummy seasonal lattes at Starbucks and generally just all the smells and recipes that start to arrive with fall: mulled cider and nutmeg and apples and dried leaves. It almost makes me miss living somewhere that has 4 real seasons.

Los Angeles - on the other hand - is experiencing some incredibly hot weather for September, which makes doing Halloween crafts a bit odd.  Unfazed by the scorching temperatures, I've been determined to whip up some fall crafts to dress up our apartment.

I landed on on a pumpkin decorating project using the plain, pre-painted craft pumpkins below from Target.  My vision was to make something that I could bring out year after year instead of having to carve and then throw away fresh ones. 


In addition to your pumpkins, you'll also need some crafty supplies: paint brushes, paint pens, glitter, a pencil and some Mod Podge.  


For the orange pumpkin, I first drew the outline of a bat for guidance.  I may do the Sunday crossword in pen but I don't have the same risky attitude with my crafts. ;) If a bat isn't what you're looking for...you could try any number of Halloween images: a spiderweb, witch's hat, ghost, tombstone, black cat, etc.  Once your design is ready, fill it in with paint and top with heaps of glitter.  You can also add a coat of Mod Podge once the paint is dry to seal everything in. 

For the black pumpkin, I free handed the word 'BOO' using the white paint pen (on top of pencil, naturally).  Normally I would use a stencil for lettering to ensure a precise look but I didn't have one large enough and was too lazy to make one.

Last but not least...the little cream pumpkin.  This was definitely the easiest of the three as I just used the orange paint to fill in alternating segments of the pumpkin to make stripes.  That's it! 

In total, I spent probably 3 hours making the goodies below and I'll hopefully pull them out from storage every Halloween!