Monday, December 20, 2010

By Request, Bolognese

Cozy Sundays at home call for comforting dinners. Comfort food for an Italian is a big bowl of pasta and a glass of wine to enjoy alongside it. I'm sorry to all of the creators of the low-carb diets but I will never be able to fully follow your dietary restrictions. Not only does pasta satisfy my Italian cravings, but it feeds my soul. Mark requested pasta with a Bolognese sauce yesterday and I couldn't have thought of anything better to enjoy on yet another snowy Sunday. I hopped onto the Food Network website and found another winner from my TV kitchen here, Giada. This recipe is full of flavor and quick as an elf to put together. I would have loved to serve this sauce over Paparadelle pasta but unfortunately I could not find it at my grocery store. Linguine was just as good of a vehicle for the sauce but something about those thick noodles are so enticing. There is no need to open a jar of sauce when making it yourself can be so easy.

Simple Bolognese Recipe

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1 celery stalk, coarsely chopped
1 carrot, coarsely chopped
1 pound lean ground beef
1 (28 oz. can) crushed tomatoes
1/4 cup flat leafed parsley, chopped
8 fresh basil leaves, chopped
Salt & Pepper to season

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil. When almost smoking, add the onion and garlic and saute over medium heat until the onions become soft. Add the celery and carrot and saute for another 5 minutes. raise heat to high and add the ground beef. Saute and stir frequently breaking up any large lumps and cook until meat is no longer pink, about 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes, parsley and basil and cook over medium low heat until the sauce thickens, Season with salt and pepper. Finish by tossing the sauce over cooked pasta and serve with Pecorino Romano.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Slow Roasted, Tabbouleh Filled Tomatoes

As I sit here typing away, I am still digesting the goodness that I am about to share. In my blog reading and recipe browsing, I came across this idea and why I hadn't thought of this before, only the food Gods know.

Tabbouleh (pronounced Ta-boo-lee) has been a favorite dish of mine since my mom started making it and packing it in our lunches years and years ago. Tabo-what!? I love telling others what I am making and seeing the confused looks on their faces when they have no clue what it is as well as have no clue how to pronounce the colorful name. Tabouleh is a Middle-Eastern salad made of bulgur wheat, parsley, mint and finely chopped tomatoes, cucumbers and scallions. Bulgur is rich in fiber and even packs some protein! Tabbouleh has just about the freshest flavor imaginable as all of the ingredients are bound together by a drizzle of olive oil and fresh lemon juice. I have made a few batches of this Middle-Eastern treat for MM and he loves it as much as I do! Well, tonight I decided to try a new twist on the way I served it. Lately, I have fallen in love with slow roasting tomatoes. After drizzling with a little olive oil and sprinkling with salt and pepper, something so simple becomes so much more. I recently came across the brilliant idea of slow roasting vine ripened tomatoes and stuffing them. Princess Jasmine's fare immediately came to mind and there was the inspiration behind tonight's accompaniment to citrus cilantro yogurt marinated chicken breast.

recipe adapted from several sources

1/2 cup Bulgur wheat
1 bunch flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
1 handful of fresh mint, finely chopped
1 cup finely chopped tomatoes
1 cup finely chopped cucumbers
1/2 cup finely chopped scallions
Juice of one lemon
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (2 drizzles around the bowl)
Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
2 vine ripened tomatoes, centers cut out

Cook bulgur according to the directions on the package. Look hard at the grocery store but chances are, your store will have it tucked away. The bulgur will have to sit, covered for up to 30 minutes so while it is sitting, cut up all of your vegetables and herbs. When cutting your parsley and mint, chop it as fine as possible. This will fluff up the final product. Once the bulgur has absorbed all of the water, fluff with a fork and add in all of the fresh ingredients. Drizzle with olive oil, add the juice of one lemon, salt & pepper then mix together. Refrigerate before serving. This can be made in advance and in fact, is better the next day when the flavors have had time to get to know each other and live happily ever after.

Slow roasted tomatoes:
Drizzle the prepared vine ripened tomatoes with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place in a 250 degree oven for 45 minutes. Serve tabouleh inside.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Moore Christmas Magic

The tree is up and the halls are decked. Casa Moore is looking as magical as ever and the Christmas spirit has taken over. Every corner has been kissed with Christmas...even the air smells festive in here! We made our way in the snow last week to pick out the perfect Fraser Fir. The 10 ft. tall beauty glows (thanks to 1200 lights) in our living room every night and is big enough to even take a nap under. MM and I are both lucky enough to have nice little ornament collections of our own making our tree covered with 59 combined years of beauties. It's pretty safe to say that we have plenty of ornaments...I can only imagine how full our tree will be 10 years from now. I can't wait to keep adding to our already enormous collection. The sweet ornament above was a bridal shower gift from my sweet CAC Muffin. It was the very first ornament that went on the tree!

Being the Sugar Plum Fairy that I am, I had been on the lookout for the perfect Christmas tree skirt since September. I am very particular about this piece of the tree and since this is something I want to have for years to come, I wanted to find just the right skirt. Well, come Thanksgiving, ad the perfect tree skirt had not yet landed in my hands. While home in Charlotte for Thanksgiving, sweet MOD inquired if we had a tree skirt yet. She winked and said nothing more. I don't know how that girl's mind is so in sync with mine, but I swear, she always just KNOWS. No less than two weeks later, did a beautiful package get delivered on our doorstep with the most gorgeous Christmas tree skirt I ever saw! This was our wedding present from MOD and S2H and let me tell you, it was one of the best presents! Not only is it a gorgeous red velvet and ivory trimmed skirt, but it has our name embroidered in the center. This is a fantastic Wedding Gift idea if any of you out there are in search of the perfect something. Our skirt is from my favorite, Pottery Barn, and can be found here.

MM's favorite childhood ornament. He insisted this be in his line of sight.

One of my very favorites when I was little...I love the miniature cookies on her tray and it always reminds me of baking Christmas cookies with my mom and sisters! I do believe this ornament is dated 1989.

Ballerinas and Barbies can be spotted in several spots on the tree!

Red and gold ornaments in candle pillars make great Christmas sparks.

A little holiday pop for our table. Check out the gold and white printed Badgley Mischka tablecloth I found at TJ Maxx for under $20.

Ornaments, ornaments everywhere!

Even my nightstand has a little Christmas bling...MM really didn't know what a sucker for the season I am! There may or may not be jingle bells tucked in his pillow every night, too.

Santa is watching! Look what my sweet mom slipped in my bag when I was home for Thanksgiving.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Snowed In

We are officially snowed in and have been relaxing by the light of the Christmas tree all weekend long. It has been the perfect sort of lazy weekend that I have a feeling we will get to enjoy more often now that the wintry weather has arrived. I must have known today was going to be the perfect day for a huge pot of chili...all the ingredients were just waiting to be loved together. I found this recipe from Cooking Light and adapted it a bit, adding some more vegetables, more beans and a little secret ingredient of my own. The original recipe calls for red wine but since I didn't want to waste any of the delightful bottles we have in stock here, I popped open a bottle of Shock Top which ended up giving it the perfect kick! All of the spices mingle so perfectly together that absolutely no salt is needed. Another win for this healthy recipe! I love to make this chili in the crock pot but this recipe is quick and simple and if made on the stove, would take a fraction of the time and be just as tasty! Snuggle up and make this during your next snow day.

Kicked Up Turkey Chili
recipe adapted from Cooking Light

1 tbsp. olive oil
1 1/2 lbs. ground lean turkey
2 cups chopped onion
1 chopped green bell pepper
1 tbsp. minced garlic
2 tsp. finely chopped jalapeno (to cut the heat, remove the seeds)
1 bottle beer
1 can tomato paste
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. red pepper
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. coriander
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1 28 oz. can whole tomatoes, undrained
1 can dark kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 can light kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 can medium chili beans

Cook turkey meat on medium high until cooked through. Mix all above ingredients in a crock pot and stir together. Cook on high heat for 3 hours. Serve with shredded cheese and sour cream.

Hope everyone had a relaxing weekend and cheers to a happy week ahead!! Special thanks and lots of love to my sweet West Coast Lovie for her help with my new blog header and to sweet MOD for the inspiration to freshen things up a bit!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Elf Magic

Dudley the elf is a special little guy and only makes an appearance around this time of year. For those of you who may not know, sweet Dudley flew down to the Nido house a few times during the Christmas season. He is too shy to be around too many humans so he would sneak in after we were fast asleep and enjoy a cup of hot chocolate with my Dad. He always left three Christmas treats for me and my sisters and off he would go, back to the North Pole, to finish Christmas preparations. We may be older, but Dudley still flies down on a Reindeer and has graduated to dirty martinis or a nice glass of scotch ;) I can guarantee when MM and I have our own little peanuts someday, Dudley will make some special visits to them, too.

Dudley found his way to the Midwest last night and left us some holiday treats! He usually appears after the tree is decorated but he must have been as excited as we were about the 10 foot beauty we brought home last night that he decided to show up early! I can't imagine what he has up his sleeve after the lights and ornaments go on tonight. A plate of delicious Nighty Night cookies were in the kitchen when we woke up...he was a busy little elf. They sure are sweet but we all know that elves stick to their four main food groups...and they LOVE sugar. He left a few jingle bells in his path to let us know he made a swift visit! I think he even made a little mess in MM's laptop bag.

Nighty Nights

2 egg whites
2/3 cups sugar
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat egg whites until stiff. Slowly incorporate sugar and continue beating until all mixed in a stiff. Fold in chocolate chips. My mom sometimes adds peppermint extract and green food coloring for extra holiday cheer. Drop cookies onto cookie sheet. I used a tablespoon but they are much cuter if you use a smaller spoon for little cookies that make sweet little puffs. Place in preheated oven and turn the oven off. DO NOT PEAK UNTIL MORNING!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Just Because

Hello, hello! A special little lovie requested I keep my daily posts going. She seemed to be a bit concerned that I hadn't posted anything here I am. I really have nothing profound to share, so here is a quick hello, a little profession of the "ginormous" love for my sisters (Ozzie, too) and some Christmas Miscellany.

Did You Know?
"If Santa's sleigh carried just one Barbie doll and once action figure for every girl and boy on the planet, it would weigh 400,000 tons and need almost 1 billion reindeer to pull it. To deliver his presents in one global night time, Santa would have to visit 1,500 homes a second and, allowing for chimney descents and cookie breaks, he and his reindeer would have to travel at roughly 5,000 times the speed of sound" -Christmas Miscellany: Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Christmas, Jonathan Green

If you have seen The Santa Clause, you know that this nightly trip is not only possible, but you saw it happen before your eyes...even with the houses that don't have chimneys.

Happy 24 days until Christmas!!!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Deck the Halls

It's December 1st and Christmas is now 25 days away! Thanksgiving brought many blessings and it was such a treat to be back in Charlotte surrounded by so much LOVE. In true Nido style, we laughed, we danced, drank Muffin's legendary dirty martinis and as per usual, had food so overwhelmingly stunning as it was delicious, it could have been on the cover of Bon Appetit. I am literally beside myself with holiday cheer and our house is quickly becoming kissed with Christmas in every corner. I am riding the Holiday High! We're going to get our tree this weekend! I have also requested we pick up Peppermint Mochas at Starbucks on the way so that we can sip on holiday cheer as we pick out the perfect Fraser Fir. I can't wait to carefully unwrap every ornament and tell MM the story of how it came to be. HA!

Although the tree is not going up until this weekend, that has not stopped me from decking the halls in other nooks and crannies! A few weeks ago, I posted some Christmas inspiration from my favorite go- to for home decor, Pottery Barn. Well, last week, I picked up some supplies and a real wreath from a local nursery and created a cheerful and welcoming piece of love for our front door. I found some gold and red ornaments at Target and attached them to my wreath with floral wire. I sat down in front of Oprah's Favorite Things last Monday and started creating. The entire project took all of about an hour and I love the way the wreath looks on our door. Not to mention, the Pottery Barn look alike retails for $79. I made mine for under $20. I can't wait to create a few other special projects I have up my sleeves. Stay tuned!