Saturday, March 23, 2013

Brown Sugar Bourbon Cake

Since I saw this beautiful brown sugar burbon bundt cake in last November's issue of Southern Living, I have been dying to make it. A few weeks ago, I finally had a chance.

This cake was wonderful. Van and the Boys have quite the affinity for Bourbon and the sweet, rich flavor of brown sugar was the perfect compliment. The finished cake was really light and would pair well with almost any dinner.

Ready to Bake

Finished Cake


Friday, February 15, 2013

Dreaming of the Franklin Mint

It's 52 and sunny in DC. What comes to mind on this perfect almost spring day? ICE CREAM. Specifically the sweet, deliciousness that is the Franklin Mint sundae at the Franklin Fountain in Philadelphia.

Mint chocolate chip has always been one of my favorite flavors, but this sundae takes it to a whole new level of goodness - mint chip and vanilla ice cream smothered in marshmallow glaze with a Creme de Menthe finish.

Amazingly, the sundae walks the perfect balance of not too sweet and not too minty. On a day like today it would be complete perfection.

The Franklin Mint Sundae

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Delaplane Cellars

One of the beautiful things about where we live is that there are a plethora of vineyards within an hour drive of our house. With so many great options, deciding what to do on a gorgeous, sunny Sunday when we had Monday off was pretty easy to figure out.

At the recommendation of one of our friends we decided to try Delaplane Cellars. This winery is absolutely lovely. The tasting room features a wall of windows with stunning views and I love the decor.

Since it was our first-time visiting we decided to do the full tasting for $9. I have to say this is what made me really love Delaplane. Every single wine was good. EVERY ONE. I was extremely impressed. I even liked their Chardonnay which was crisp, clean, not oaky and something that I actually wanted to drink.

My favorite wine of the day was the 2007 Springlot Reserve. This wine is well balanced with the right depth of flavor. You can taste the fruit, but it isn't overly sweet. The finish is nice, not dry or heavy on tannins. I'm pretty sure I finished half a bottle by myself.

It is important to note that Delaplane Cellars doesn't accept groups of six or more, but honestly that helps ensure the relaxed and not rowdy atmosphere. There also isn't really a space for a huge group so don't let it detour you. The staff is super friendly.

I am really looking forward to spending another afternoon at Delaplane this spring and bringing one of these beauties home with me. 

Friday, January 25, 2013

Dreaming of: Filet with Foie Gras

Confession of the obvious - I love food and I think about food a lot.

I thought it may be fun to share some of the food that I dream about when we are trying to decide what to do for dinner or the things that I have found when we traveled that still make my mouth water.

This little beauty is my favorite steak at Ray's The Steak in Arlington. Honestly, it is one of my favorite steaks in the world. I crave this steak.

I was chatting with one of my friends at happy hour last night about making plans for a get together and suggested meeting at Ray's. I instantly started thinking about this dish.

Filet with Foie Gras and Mushrooms at Ray's The Steak

Saturday, January 19, 2013

About That Rabbit

Every family has their own Christmas tradition. Some people sing carols, some make a Christmas ham and my husband and I find something unique to cook.

This all started in 2010 when I went into Whole Foods looking for Cornish Hens and they were sold out. As I started looking for a replacement, I found a pheasant. In 2011, I made our first Christmas goose. I decided that 2012 would be the year of the rabbit.

Whole rabbits can be tricky to find, but through some research I discovered that Balducci's market in McLean carries them. Thankfully, they had three in stock when I stopped by the weekend before Christmas.

Rabbit tends to be very lean and can be difficult to roast whole so most recipes will call for the rabbit to be cut into pieces for more even cooking which really limited my choices since I was hoping to cook it whole. I eventually found this interesting recipe from La Cucina Italiana for coniglio arrotolato, which is a stuffed roasted rabbit. This recipe used rabbit liver, prosciutto and marjoram.

I have been curious about butchery for a while after seeing French recipes that  involve deboning ducks. I thought that this was a great chance to try my hand at this new technique. Of course, like anyone nowadays, I turned to YouTube for a little instruction. I definitely did not debone my rabbit in 5 minutes, but this video was really helpful in giving me an idea what to do next.

From my first experience deboning an animal, I learned a few key things. Obviously, the right knife is critical. I would use a different and sharper knife next time. I also wasn't careful enough when trying to remove the spine and completely cut through the piece of meat. Finally, like anything practice makes perfect.

The Rabbit After I Removed the Bones

After removing the bones, I used my food processor to turn the gibblets into a puree with the marjoram. I unfortunately didn't realize until I had unpacked and pulled the organs out of the cavity that I didn't have all of the organs so I didn't have the same quantity as the recipe. Thankfully the organ meat and prosciutto still added a lot of flavor to the finished product, but I will either track down a rabbit with all the organs or purchase extra chicken livers to add next time.

The Rabbit After I Spread the Ground Organ Meat and Covered it with Prosciutto
 After rolling the rabbit back up, I placed it on a bed of fennel and onions to bake and braised it periodically with a white italian wine.

The Rolled Rabbit Roasting on a Fennel and Onion Bed

The finished product was pretty impressive. After letting it rest, I served it with this mushroom risotto that was delicious and sauteed carrots. Would I do it all again? Yes, without a doubt. This was definitely a Christmas dinner that I will never forget.

The Sliced Rabbit Ready to Serve
Rabbit, Mushroom Risotto and Carrots

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Captain America Cupcakes

I'm catching up on all of the things that I wished I would have blogged about during my extended break. One of the things that I really wished that I had shared were some of my creative confections.

I always try to do something special for each of the Boys on their birthday. For Chase's birthday, I decided to try making some Captain America inspired cupcakes. Chase has a classic prep and all-American style so Captain America seemed like a good fit.

To make the cupcakes, I used Bakerella's vanilla 4th of July cupcakes complete with red and blue sprinkles inside. I also used her pudding frosting mix with vanilla pudding and cool whip. The Boys loved the cupcakes and the frosting so it was a home run.


Monday, January 7, 2013

The Year of Me

The older I become the more I don't like making New Year's resolutions. Inevitably, I don't keep them even when I try to make them really easy to achieve. My past resolutions are typically efforts to try to read more so I'll try to read X amount of books for the year.

This year, I thought I would skip the resolution and make a new initiative - do one thing a day that will make my life better. Maybe it is devoting one hour to a project that has been on the back-burner, spending 30 minutes doing yoga or just packing my lunch for the next day so I eat one less meal out.

Last year was a really rough year for me and I spent way too much time focusing on things other than myself. There were many days that I felt overwhelmed by life or just wasn't sure what to do to make things better. I felt like I was frequently just trying to get by and couldn't extend the effort to do anything other than commute, work and sleep.

As I 2013 approached, I was struggling with many of those same thoughts and worried about having another not so great year. I recently had an epiphany and realized that I need to be more proactive. The only control that I have in making 2013 a great year is by investing in myself and the things that make me happy.

I know that seems very obvious, but I needed to take the power back and worry less about the things that are outside of my control. This isn't about being selfish or ignoring my responsibilities, but I know that by making myself a priority I will be a happier person, a better wife and a better friend. I will be able to better take things in stride, have more balance and bounce back when things aren't going so well. 

I am going to make 2013 the year of ME! I hope that you will join me on my journey over the next twelve months and that you will take time to invest in yourself as well.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

New Year, Fresh Start

I have seriously missed blogging over the past few months and thought that the new year was the right time to get back into the swing of things.

I've got lots of new ideas and great things to share to spice up things around here. Mostly importantly, I've got quite a few sugary, sweet confections for you!

I know that 2013 will be a great year for confection!
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