Sunday, February 28, 2016

Jan 16, 2016 - Christie's Birthday Blog

Good Morning, CS followers... I know that our posts are becoming fewer and farther between, however, I promise you that we have quality over quantity.  Like my recent blog birthday dinner... I really wanted to create something that we could enjoy!  If you notice our trends over the years, some people choose very exotic ingredients, some choose very challenging ones - I tend towards the simple that therefore requires the cooks to have to think outside the box.  So why break tradition?  This year's ingredients for me were:

Roasted Garlic

Yup... BACON!  (How have we not done bacon yet?!?!?!)

Cocktail - Chocolate Hazelnut Nutella Martini

What a fabulous cocktail!  (We really want to start venturing into more dessert like cocktails this year!) 

Hors d'Ouevres - Roasted Garlic Knots with Prosciutto

So if you're starting to notice a new trend - yes, hors d'ouevres have kind of become our new thing.  Why?  Just because they're cute!  And it gives us an excuse to make more food!!!  Anyways - Jennifer took the basic garlic knot recipe, but when knotting them up, adding slices of prosciutto and then rolled them in roasted garlic, not regular garlic.  Finger licking good.  We couldn't stop eating them.  Literally had to put the dish away or else we would all fill up on these bad boys!  (Great idea for parties, you'll be the rock star if you show up with these!)

Hors d'Ouevre Wine - 2013 Vietti Barbera d'Alba

So my Italian husband was in charge of the wine this time.  Which meant, naturally, it was going to be Italian wines.  And he did a great job!  First off, the label is just cool.  However, this was a nice medium bodied red with red berries and a slight oakiness that made it a great sipping wine!  Definitely something to crack open next to the fire on a cold winter night!

Appetizer - Crispy Pork Belly over Salad with Roasted Garlic Dressing

Best pork belly recipe to date!  (And you know we've tried a few.)  In case you don't know, pork belly is what bacon is made of.  (See how it ties in to the theme?)  Super crispy and super rich!  The mixed greens were a lovely touch, and the homemade roasted garlic vinaigrette really tied it all in.  The vinaigrette was made using roasted garlic (duh), mustard, red wine vinegar, and apple cider.

Appetizer Wine - 2013 Brancaia Tre Rosso

A nice Super Tuscan with well integrated tannins and a deep cherry taste.  It's tart and bold with a nice earthiness.

Entrée - Hazelnut Crusted Pork Loin

Delicious!  A tie to the Nutella, the hazelnut crust really was divine.

Side Dish - Butternut Squash with Nutella and Roasted Garlic Sauce

The Nutella and Roasted Garlic Sauce (homemade), just tied everything together.  We used up some of the leftover roasted garlic salad dressing, mixed with Nutella, and then added some chicken stock as needed to reach desired consistency.

Side Dish - Sauteed Swiss Chard

Side Dish - Twice Baked Potato with Bacon Roasted Garlic

OMG.  Twice baked potatoes are already delicious.  Bacon roasted garlic - who knew??

Entrée Wine - 2012 Agricola Querciabella

A lovely Chianti to finish the meal!  A beautiful balance of acidity and tannins matched with a lovely taste of fresh fruit with some spice and herb.

Dessert - Nutella Semifreddo with Bacon Cookies

Where do I start?  First off - why haven't we made semifreddos before?  It's delicious!  It's basically ice cream that is frozen in a loan pan so you can cut it into slices.  With all the chopped hazelnuts and then the shaved white chocolate - divine!  And a bacon cookie!  Salty and savory - a perfect match to the sweet semifreddo!

Dessert Wine - Banfi Rosa Regale

New favorite sparkling wine.  Hands down.  This fabulous sparkling red is a beautiful deep pink color, and is the perfect match for someone who doesn't like a dry prosecco or champagne.  It's sweet, has tastes of berries and rose, and could match pretty much anything!  This will be our new go-to celebration sparkly!

So there you have it - another birthday blog dinner for the books!  I think Jennifer and Maryann were able to cover all three ingredients with flair and creativity!

See you next time!

Sunday, January 17, 2016

November 14, 2015 - M's First Blog Birthday

Good Morning, everyone!  It's been a while!  Did you miss us??  We missed you... and just to make it up to you - we have TWO birthday blog posts... but I'm not posting the next one for a few days just yet - make you wait for it.  I'm a tease like that.

Please note our title says "M"... that's because I've never actually confirmed with our friends (new to our blog world), if they're cool with their names being posted on the internet.  So for now - you get initials.  We introduced two new people to our birthday blog bashes because 1) they're our friends and 2) we cook a lot, we need more mouths to feed - otherwise our dogs get fat.  They've brought inspiration, ideas, and extra hands to our kitchens!

So when it came time for M to decide his ingredients, he said without hesitation - "horseradish and beets."  Ugh.  What?  Seriously?  Ick.  (This coming from a girl who didn't even know what a beet looked like, let alone tasted like."  But - we don't judge... and what turned out was an incredibly delicious meal!

** Please note that I am a failure.  I can't find any pictures of wine bottles from this night.  Which means, we enjoyed them so much that we forgot to take pictures.  Sorry, folks!

Cocktail - Lemon Martini

Please note the super cute beet chip as garnish.  We stuck with a classic cocktail because there is lemon throughout the menu, and we didn't want something that overwhelmed.  It was more like a palate cleanser to prepare for deliciousness.

Hors d'Ouevre - Roasted Beet Chips

Hey!  They taste like potato chips!  Or those super fancy chips you buy in the organic section of the grocery store! 

Appetizer - Beet Souffle with Lemony Horseradish Crème Fraiche

Clearly the website we got the recipe from must have added some food coloring.  However, delicious!  I've realized that beets almost have no flavor - they are sweet and earthy and kind of just blend in with their surroundings.  The lemon worked well with the horseradish to give it great flavor!

Entrée - Horseradish Crusted Prime Rib

Ummm... YUM!  First off, please note that we used two different types of prepared horseradish.  One was a local brand (shout out to "Holy Schmitt" in Long Island!), and the other was a spicy one from a local farmer's market.  (Forget the name, sorry.)  We kind of alternated which one we used in which recipe - but we did use the spicy on the meat.  Do not hesitate to do it - the strong flavor bakes out of the roast so you'll never know.  We did leave the roast in the oven a little longer but it still came out perfectly medium rare!

Side Dish - Scalloped Potatoes with Horseradish and Parmesan

Yeah... potatoes.  Cream, horseradish,cheese.  What's not to love????

Dessert - Beet Panna Cotta

Surprisingly tasty!  Once again, the beets can be on the sweet side, so when combined with sugar and the lemon mousse - extremely tasty!  In case you're wondering what's in the second picture - it's an Old Fashioned jello shot!.  (

Dessert - Vegan Chocolate Lava Cake

Okay, this was my biggest fear.  I'm a chocolate lava cake purist.  I was worried.  I bit my nails the entire time it was baking.  It was GREAT!  Who knew?

So there you go - an entire menu based on horseradish and beets.  Thanks for joining us!

Sunday, October 4, 2015

September 13, 2015 - John's Birthday Bash

Alright, folks... it's another birthday blog post!  And you know what that means - weird, crazy ingredients and odd combinations!  We will not disappoint you in this post, it's another one for the books!  John's chosen ingredients were:  wild boar and bourbon.  

Starter Note - Bourbon

Shout out to my brother in law for dropping this off the morning of our dinner.  He received a few bottles as a gift and unknowingly upped our game for our blog night.  (Sorry, Jim Beam.)  This boutique distillery makes only so many barrels per batch, so it is definitely a more refined bourbon.  Also, it is 124.7 proof.  I probably should have looked at that before I went hog wild.

Cocktail - Maple Bourbon Smash

Just FYI - figs kind of became the third ingredient solely because a massive flat of about 2lbs of fresh ones were insanely cheap at Trader Joe's on Saturday morning and I just needed an excuse to buy them!  This fun cocktail was a mix of bourbon, orange juice, maple syrup, lemon juice, bitters, and seltzer... definitely a perfect "gearing into fall" cocktail.  But keep it at one... remember, this was almost 125 proof!

Hors D'Oeuvres - Bourbon Duck Bites and Bacon Wrapped Bourbon Figs

I'm going to start with the figs - they are easy!  They are tasty!  They are a classic!  You can't go wrong with something like this.  We did use the fresh figs and therefore added some bourbon to the bottom of each hollowed out fig before stuffing it.  Let's talk duck.  Let's talk about how the one dish that we were the most unsure of turned out to be the hit of the night.  Literally... "like chicken nuggets on crack."  I did half the recipe - but should have kept the bourbon the same, because it is soaked up by the fried duck so quickly that there is no "sauce."  But, my God... unanimous decision around the table - biggest surprise of the night!

Appetizer - Bourbon Braised Short Ribs with Honey and Fig Mac & Cheese

Can you just smell the decadence coming off your computer???  We pretty much followed the short rib recipe but then played around with the cheeses.  I could not, for the life of me, find honey fig cheese.  Sooo... I found honey goat cheese and then a gruyere-cheddar mix from Trader Joe's.  Perfect!  I added some chopped fresh figs to the short ribs while braising to make up for the lack of fig.  Delicious!!!  This alone was a meal.

Appetizer - Mixed Green Salad with Bourbon Vinaigrette

We figured a salad had to fit in somewhere, so we threw it on the side of the macaroni and cheese.  We used some extra bacon from earlier and topped with some fresh sliced figs.  The vinaigrette was tasty and honestly was not strong.  

Appetizer Wine - 2013 Pio Cesare Dolcetto d'Alba 

This Italian red is fruity, fresh and fragrant.  However, it has nice structure, round tannins, and a slight spice to it that makes it a beautiful accompaniment to wild game!

Entree - Rack of Wild Boar with Sweet Potato, Apple, and Celery Root Puree Finished With a Roasted Garlic Onion Sauce

This is a 2-day recipe.  The wild boar needs to marinate.  The onion sauce has multiple components.  There is a caramelized onion jam that gets added to the sauce - that jam was made a day in advance.  (And the leftovers were delicious over pork chops!)  However, it all comes together very quickly.  The celery root and sweet potato puree is fantastic, the asparagus is always a great side, and the meat was tender!  It really did taste like a jazzed up pork chop.  The sauce was scrumptious - take the time to make it yourself... don't skip it!!!

Entree Wien - 20012 La Fortuna Rosso Di Montalcino

We stuck with Italy for this blog dinner and the next wine did not disappoint!  This red is fruit intense but has an admirable acidity.  It is full bodied, dry, and rich with a subtle spiciness and a softness hiding among the structured tannins.  

Dessert - Hazelnut and Bourbon Torte

Ummm.. yum.  Enough.  Bourbon and hazelnuts.  Can't get any better than that.  Oh, wait.. it can?  How about that 125 proof bourbon poured for an aperitif that was too strong for the sissies in the group (aka moi) and then poured over the torte instead... yup.. it can get better!

So there you go - another birthday blog post for the records!!!  Can't wait to see what is next!!!