Saturday, February 26, 2011

Eat Your Beans

I love vegetables. All of them. I will eat a huge bowl of broccoli in one sitting, roast asparagus like it's my job all the while dreaming about brussel sprouts. I realize that my absurd veggie obsession puts me into a pretty rare group of foodies and I'm perfectly okay with that. I cannot wait until the weather takes a My loving husband, however, is not a member of this club. He is not a picky eater by any means and he eats whatever I make, but when it comes to most of our vegetable side dishes, he's not the one going back for seconds. I'm happy as a clam with a drizzle of olive oil and kosher salt on my greens, but since my other half likes them a little more "dressed up", I have been experimenting with many different recipes to jazz up the dinner plate and giving our vegetables a little more personality. My attempt to turn Mark's hate for brussel sprouts into love was a success and he even requested them this week- and went back for more. Next on the list? Green beans. MOD sent me this recipe last week from one of my favorite food blogs, Smitten Kitchen, and I didn't last 48 hours before I gave it a whirl. This green bean salad is crisp, fresh and the fried almonds really are the cherry on top. I added in all of the pickled onions as well. Talk about yummy pickle-y deliciousness. Not only are the flavors bright, but these beans look beautiful in the serving bowl and on our plates. I like my food to be just as gorgeous as it is delicious. We're now 2-0, with vegetables winning in the Moore house!

Green Bean Salad with Pickled Red Onions and Fried Almonds
recipe from Smitten Kitchen

1 pound green beans
1/2 a fennel bulb
1 stalk celery
1/2 medium red onion
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup water
1 Tbsp. kosher salt
1 1/2 tsp. sugar
1/3 cup whole raw almonds
Olive Oil

Thinly slice fennel, celery and onion. I used my beloved Mandolin, or as Mark refers to it, the awesome slicer thingy. If you don't have a mandolin, slice them thinly with a knife. Toss the fennel with lemon juice to keep it from becoming brown, and set aside. In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, water, salt and sugar. Place the sliced onions in this pickling liquid and set aside for at least 30 minutes.

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil, and cook the green beans for about 4-5 minutes, until al dente, so that they still have a crispness. When they are done, submerge them into an ice water bath and then drain and pat dry.

In a small skillet, heat a drizzle of olive oil and add almonds. Fry for about 2-5 minutes, or until toasty. Season with salt and pepper, and once cooled, cut into halves.

Time to marry it all together! Toss the green beans with the fennel, celery, onions and two tablespoons of the pickling liquid. The original recipe called for half of the onions but when I tested them, I fell in love, and had to have more. Play around with your seasoning and add as you see fit. I tossed with extra olive oil, kosher salt, fresh cracked pepper and pickling liquid.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

One Month & Counting

Yesterday marked us officially being ONE MONTH away from a very special day! Anyone that knows my sweet family, knows that though there are 3 Nido sisters bound by blood, we love to pick up more sisters along the way. (you all know who you are!) Our blonde sister, Sophie, is getting ready to become a mother for the first time and we could not be more excited! My heart is so full of love when I think about Sophie and Delicious Doug as they get ready for their new little family. I don't think that I could be more anxious to meet a baby as I am my new niece/nephew when he/she makes a grand entrance into the world and into the arms of its loving parents. I have enjoyed receiving regular e-mails with updates on baby "Velvet" (the nickname S&J have given their unborn child), especially the fact that every other line refers to Velvet as a he, and then a she! I cannot wait until the day that I get the call with the news that the new peanut has arrived, especially since Sophie and Doug are waiting to be surprised by the gender! Their are few surprises left in this world and I love that they are doing this. If precious Velvet is born on his/her due date, we will share a birthday!! But according to Hot Momma Sophie, this baby is going to be here sooner rather than later. Much love to our blonde sister and sending many prayers for a healthy last month!!


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Roasted Sweet Potato Salad

Salads might as well be a food group for us. Creative salads almost have a starring role on our dinner plates and it's my own Top Chef challenge every night to see how many ways we can mix it up. I received a GIGANTIC care package from my sweet Mom yesterday and among all of the love and treats, she sent along copies of some of my favorite recipes from the past, along with some newer ones and some that I haven't even tried yet. In the middle of the stack, I came across this recipe she made last Spring. Sweet potatoes and salad were already on last night's menu so when I saw this delightful collaboration of the two, I knew I wanted it on our plates. My favorite part of this dish is the dressing! I will now be making this Citrus Vinaigrette my go-to when I want to add a citrus splash to my salad. And since it comes from the Godmother of all magazines, Southern Living, you know it has to be tasty.

Roasted Sweet Potato Salad
with Citrus Vinaigrette
Southern Living, January 2010

1 lb. medium-size sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into wedges
1 medium sweet onion, cut into wedges
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 garlic clove
3/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. fresh cracked pepper
1 head Boston bib lettuce (you could also use arugula, baby greens or a mixture of all 3)
Citrus Vinaigrette

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss together sweet potato wedges and next five ingredients in a large bowl. Place sweet potatoes on baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes. Stir once and bake another 15 minutes, until potatoes are well roasted and caramelized. Spoon roasted potatoes and onions over greens and drizzle with citrus vinaigrette.

Citrus Vinaigrette
(makes about 1/2 cup)

1 (1/2) inch piece fresh ginger, peeled
2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp. chopped sweet onion (I used 2 shallots)
1 Tbsp. honey
1 tsp. orange zest
1/4 tsp. dry mustard
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 cup olive oil

Pulse first seven ingredients in a blender or food processor. While blending, add olive oil in a slow stream and process until smooth.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Spring Sparkles

Before starting my workday, I like to enjoy my morning coffee and catch up blog reading. I found this little gem this morning and love her or hate her, Martha Stewart's team always comes up with some genius ideas. I especially love a project that takes an ordinary object and turns it into extraordinary. This one quickly caught my DIY eye. It hardly seems possible that this adorable orange and white tray was once a baking sheet. Yellow is normally my "happy color" but right now, I can't get enough of oranges and corals! This decorative tray is a great way to brighten up your house for Spring or even to wrap up with celophane and tie with some raffia or a huge bow and bring it with you to your next dinner party as a hostess gift. I have a few springy projects up my sleeve for the long holiday weekend and you better believe this will be making the list. I'll be sure to post my own how-to once I complete one of these babies myself.

image via {here}

If you can't wait another minute, directions and the official "How To" from the Martha experts themselves can be found here. If any of you decide ot tackle this yourself, please send me a picture! I would love to see what you come up with and how you use your tray.

The sun is shining, I am not wearing boots of any kind and a light and fresh and girly pink polish is about to make its way onto my nails. I choose to believe that this hint of Spring, (and not the extranneous amount of caffeine running through my body) is putting some serious sparkle in my day.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Asian Beef Lettuce Wraps

I wish that I could say that I come up with all of my meal ideas with my own magical powers, but alas, that is not the case. Since I love cooking and experimenting in the kitchen so much, I am always looking for inspiration and when I find an idea or recipe I like, I add it to a running list. I LOVE lists. And when I take a to die for bite at a restaurant, I dissect the flavors, study the appearance and make mental note of the ingredients then try to re-create it myself. I am not afraid of a kitchen challenge. I recently found a recipe for lettuce wraps via Martha Stewart's iPhone app and for the past few days, I could not get this idea out of my head! The first time we ever met was at P.F. Changs and I have been hooked ever since. I do not have a valid excuse as to why I have not thought to add these to the Moore Menu before. Our dinner tonight was fresh, fast and a nice exotic flavor diversion for the taste buds. Everything was ready in under an hour- my idea of a perfect weeknight meal. I served our lettuce wraps with another P.F. Changs inspired bite. Peel and seed cucumbers, cut in large chunks and toss with soy sauce, sesame oil, rice wine vinegar and toasted sesame seeds!

My attempt to re-create a P.F. Changs favorite is a collaboration of a few recipes I found online as well as my own mental notes. I never forget a perfect bite. Not to mention, shopping in the international foods aisle in the grocery story always makes me feel a bit more worldly.

Asian Beef Lettuce Wraps

1 lb. lean ground beef (I can't wait to try these with ground chicken)
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp. low sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup Hoisin sauce
2 tbsp. minced pickled ginger
1 tbsp. rice wine vinegar
1 can water chestnuts, chopped
1 bunch green onions, chopped
2 tsp. sesame oil

Cook beef in skillet, breaking up so there are no large chunks. When meat is cooked through, transfer to a large bowl. Use the skilled to cook the onions and garlic. Sautee until onions are transparent, about 3 minutes. Add water chestnuts, green onions and ginger, then sautee for about 2 more minutes. Stir in soy sauce, Hoisin, rice vinegar and sesame oil. Add beef to the skillet and marry everything together. Serve with Boston bib lettuce or iceberg lettuce and for an extra kick, Sriracha sauce (hot chilli sauce).

*I recommend always having seasoned rice wine vinegar, sesame oil and soy sauce on hand. I not only use these items in Asian cooking, but they are great in marinades and dressings and lend such a unique flavor.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

B Mine

Love is in the air and Valentine's day is just around the corner. Although I believe that everyday should be a day of love, I will take any excuse to sprinkle a little something extra on those around me. While I am huge proponent of handmade cards and handwritten notes, I am also practical and realize that it's not always easy to create 50 masterpieces for your nearest and dearest! I'm normally not a fan of e-cards but I found these Kate Spade beauties yesterday and cannot get enough of them. If you want to send Cupid's blessings to those you love the most, but don't have enough time to pop something in the mail, the B Mine E-Valentine collection from Kate Spade is the perfect alternative! Click HERE to start spreading the love!

Sending lots of love to you all on this chilly Thursday morning!

image via Google image source

Monday, February 7, 2011

DIY Fever

Anyone that has spent any amount of time at the Nido house knows that it's an annex to all of the craft stores in Charlotte and pretty much set up for Martha Stewart's craft camp...on steroids. Shelves and closets bursting at the seams with more crafting and creative supplies than HGTV can even imagine getting their hands on. Alright, I might be getting a little dramatic here, but you get the point. Growing up, there was nothing we didn't try to make or create ourselves. Our kitchen table was a constant workstation for whatever projects we were working on be it a school diorama or handmade stationary, shrinky dinks, daisy chain beaded necklaces or the ever coveted gum chain that I still have to this day! And forget plastic bags with candy as party favors. At our birthday parties, it was almost expected of our friends that they would go home with some sort of handmade treat. You name it, we made it. As we grew older, our craft supply only expanded and my mind is constantly gathering ideas and figuring how I can re-create something myself. One of the things I miss most about being down the street from my parents is being able to raid the craft supplies and go to town! My mom and I are always sharing our current projects and how-to's but it's just not the same over the phone.

{How adorable is this picture board that my mom made!? I'm telling you, the woman can do anything!I am currently in the process of convincing her to write a nice little guest post to share here with a project how-to! Please, Mom!!}

Now that Mark and I have our own space and a place to call home, my list of projects and home to-dos is growing exponentially. I can't stop thinking about all of the new things that I want to tackle! My head is spinning with DIY ideas and I can't decide what I want to work on first.

  • Valentine's Day is just around the corner so this week I look forward to pulling out my Stampin' Up! supplies and take advantage of the day of love to send out old fashioned mail. Who doesn't love getting mail!?
  • I can't forget our kitchen table chairs desperately need recovering. I have been looking online at some home decor blogs for inspiration and am looking for the perfect print!
  • When I started thinking about the project above, I looked at the accent pillows on our couch and decided those needed to be spruced up as well. My solution? Researching sewing machines. I have been told that I can find a good machine for a fairly reasonable price and once I learn how to do basic things (like said pillows), the possibilities are endless! Do any of you have sewing machines and if so, recommendations? I don't even know where to start.
  • We finally got our gorgeous new bedroom furniture! Now I need some accents pieces, fun throw pillows for our crisp new Pottery Barn bedding and I'm working on getting some of our favorite black and white wedding photos printed on canvases.
I don't know if this winter weather is making me antsy or if my creative juices are overpowering my brain, but I can't wait to dig in and share some projects in the coming months! And if any of you have advice on sewing machines, and learning how to sew for that matter, please send in my direction!

Happy Monday to all!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Snowday Soup

After the snow rolled into town on Tuesday night, we were pretty much snowed in for most of the week. Thank goodness I was smart enough to stock up at the grocery store on Monday and our fridge (and bellies) were set for the week. After going out in the snow and attempting (then failing) the build a snowman with the powdery dust, I couldn't think of a better lunch than tomato soup. When it snows, my mind immediately goes to waking up to a white blanket, reading Happy Winter and spending the day playing in the fluffy white magic with my sisters. My childhood favorite came from a Campbell's can but I wanted to try a more grown up version. I got my inspiration from Martha Stewart and Giada and the leftovers I ate today for lunch were just as good, if not better than on our snow day lunch. If you are craving something bad enough, sometimes you just have to take matters into your own hands and make it yourself! The only thing I left off of my grocery list was some crusty French Boule bread for dunking!

Spicy Tomato & Cannellini Soup

1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 can stewed tomatoes
1 cup chicken broth
1 15 oz. can cannellini beans
1 tbsp. dried basil
Olive Oil
Crushed Red Pepper
Salt & Pepper

Sautee onion, garlic and olive oil in a 2 quart pan until onion is transparent and garlic is bubbling, about 5-8 minutes. Add tomatoes and chicken broth, salt, pepper, dried basil and crushed red pepper to taste. Simmer for about 20 minutes. Blend the soup using an immersion blender, breaking up any large chunks of tomatoes, but not turning the soup into a puree. Bring back to a simmer again. Rinse and drain the beans, then add them to the soup, simmering for another 10 minutes. Serve with a garnish of parmesean cheese, a big piece of crusty bread, or better yet, a fresh grilled cheese!

More snow is on the way the next few days but nothing compared to the Snowmageddon we experienced last week. We are now settling in for the Super Bowl, homemade pizza, homemade chocolate chunk ice cream and even more exciting than the big game...a new episode of Glee!! And as if that is not enough celebrating, I have two more reasons for giant smiles and lots of love today. My sweet Grandma, Vera is celebrating her 80th birthday today and her birthday twin, Sweet Crystal is celebrating today, too. Two of my most favorite people in the world and I love them both so, so much. Hope everyone has had a lovely winter weekend. Happy Super Bowl Sunday to all!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Red Velvet Cake Balls

Well, we officially survived our first Midwestern Blizzard. The Super Bowl of Winter Weather/Snowpocalypse/snOMG/Snowtorious BIG Blizzard of 2011 rolled in on Tuesday and left us with over a foot of the fluffy white stuff and sub zero temperatures! Unlike my hometown of Charlotte, the snow is not gone 24 hours later. In fact, there are piles of snow the size of the Great Pyramids all over our town. My Hunter Wellies are my best friends these days and at the rate this Winter is going, I will be wearing them until May. The countdown to Spring is officially on and more importantly, the countdown to us living in a warmer climate in the near future. I miss the South!

I cannot say that the kitchen endeavor that I am about to post was by any means the most enjoyable one. I had high hopes for these little treats and while I was happy with the final result, the road getting there was a tiny test of patience! Nonetheless, Cake Balls just might be the trendiest treats on the block these days. Foodies are always looking for creative ways to enjoy their food and these bite sized beauties did not disappoint at my Friday night girls night last week. I have seen these little gems all over food and baking blogs and honestly had no idea what a painstaking process they would be. Luckily, I devoted an entire afternoon to creating them and despite the mess in my kitchen and all over the apron I almost didn't wear, they created quite the "wow" for all who enjoyed them. Who doesn't love a bite sized treat with seasonal sprinkles on top? Cake Balls would be a great dessert to share at your next cocktail party, bridal shower or pajama party! The best part is, use any flavor of cake and get creative with your toppings. If you have time and a few deep breaths, you'll be the sweets superhero of your next girly get together!

NOTE: If possible, I would take two days to construct the cake balls. Day 1, bake the cake and roll and form the the cake balls. Refrigerate overnight, then dip and decorate the next day. This would be good for your sanity. These would also look adorable on a stick and wrapped up. I think that is the method I will try next time around.

Red Velvet Cake Balls
recipe courtesy of Bakerella

1 box red velvet cake mix, prepared as directed on box in a 9x13" pan
1 16 oz. can cream cheese frosting
Semi- Sweet chocolate chips
White Chocolate Chips
Sprinkles for decorating

Once cake is cooked and completely cooled. Crumble with your hands into a large bowl. Fold in cream cheese frosting and mix together. (with a large spoon or with clean hands) To form the cake balls, use a tablespoon scoop and plop into hands. Form into a firm ball and transfer onto a lined baking sheet. Cool in refrigerator for several hours or overnight.

For dipping in chocolate, melt chocolate in a double boiler. Once chocolate is melted, dip half of the ball in the chocolate. I started dipping the entire ball in chocolate but found that only "frosting" the top was much cleaner and dainty looking. Place back on cookie sheet to let chocolate set. If you wish to add some pizazz, make sure you add sprinkles before the chocolate hardens. You can also get creative and drizzle chocolate of the opposite color for a simpler decoration. Chill before serving.