27 January 2011

Orange Sherbet

2 remarks

My sister Angela loves sherbet.  It seems that whenever we go to an ice cream parlor that serves sherbet, that's what she orders.  Ari is following in her footsteps.  He always wants a fruity ice cream or sherbet if it's available.  As for me, I'm not a big fan.  Most sherbets I have tried are too sweet and the flavors are too strong and artificial to me.  Plus, there is just something strange about eating neon colored food.

My negative opinions of the orange stuff changed dramatically after making my own.  Why did I even make something that I do not enjoy eating?  Well, I did it for my sister, of course!  I also wanted to see how much better homemade sherbet would be compared to the mass-market variety.  I also had a bag full of oranges sitting on the counter just begging to be made into sherbet. 

I honestly can't remember why we had a bag of oranges since we hardly ever buy big bags of fruit.  Ari is a self-proclaimed orange lover, but he is extremely picky about the amount of pith on the orange segments.  It makes peeling an orange to his satisfaction nearly impossible.  Because of that, I decided to forgo the frustration associated with pith pickiness and just juice the oranges for sherbet.

I had all the ingredients on hand and the sherbet was very easy to make.  Eliminating the orange zest was the only modification I made to the recipe.  The oranges were no longer at their peak of freshness and some of the orange peels looked a bit suspect, so I was leery of using the zest.  But, the juice was still very tasty and I had sherbet in no time. 

The orange sherbet I made is unlike any I have ever had.  The flavors are fresh and not overpowering.  There is a genuine orange taste that is so refreshing.  The sherbet is smooth, light, and delicious; and I would be happy to make it again.   The application is so simple, too, I am thinking about trying it with other fruits.  Perhaps pineapple would make a tasty sherbet.  The possibilities are endless!

Orange Sherbet
Recipe courtesy Alton Brown
Printable Recipe

7 ounces sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons finely grated orange zest
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups freshly squeezed orange juice, approximately 2 to 3 pounds oranges
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups very cold whole milk

In the bowl of a food processor combine all of the ingredients except the milk and process until the sugar is dissolved, approximately 1 minute. Transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl and whisk in the milk. Cover the bowl and place in the refrigerator until the mixture reaches 40 degrees F or below, approximately 1 hour.

Pour the mixture into an ice cream maker and process until it is the consistency of soft serve ice cream. You may serve now or transfer to a lidded container and place in freezer until firm, approximately 3 hours. Makes about 1 quart.

25 January 2011


0 remarks

I watched this lyric video last night and couldn't find a way to post it.  Thankfully, R.E.M. put it up on their YouTube page today; so, here it is.  I haven't been putting up all the other lyric videos R.E.M. has been sharing, but I think this one is definitely worth a listen.  Enjoy!

23 January 2011

Big Girl Bed

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We have been slowly 'unbaby-proofing' our house for the last month or so.  We took down the gate on the stairs, purged the toys, removed the locks from the cabinet doors (the ones that still worked), and it all culminated with moving Emilie to a 'big girl' bed.  So, don't bring your babies to our house, it's not safe.

Last weekend, when we made the transition, we tried to make it fun for Emilie.  She helped me take apart her crib and put up her new bed frame, then we went out and she picked out her own bed sheets.  She was a bit leery at first, but once the bed was made, she got really excited and promptly started jumping on the bed.

Emilie is a book lover, and the first few nights after the transition we had some struggles with her getting out of bed to get more books.  Since her bedroom is right over the living room, we could hear every time she got of bed.  When we went to check on her, her bed was full of books, and she would just smile at us with a book in her hands.  It took her over an hour to fall asleep.

The past few nights have been a lot better, though.  So, either the the initial excitement has worn off or the exhaustion has set in.  She will still get out to get books but is too tired look at them.  When I checked on her last night, she was asleep in her bed completely surrounded by books.  What an angel.  The big girl bed is a success.

20 January 2011

Stay tuned...

2 remarks
CSNstores.com has given me the opportunity to do a product review from one of their sites! How exciting! For those of you not familiar with CSN Stores, it is a Boston based Internet retailer that started in 2002. CSN Stores is comprised of 200 different shopping sites with a vast array of products for the home. My cousin Nedra, over at Captain Coupon, and friend Lisa, at All About Alton, have both worked with CSN stores, so I am really looking forward to this endeavor.

Browsing through some of the CSN stores, I stumbled upon a site that features modern furniture. This site caught my eye because I noticed that in the "Browse by Brand" column on the left side of the site there was a brand called Thomas Paul. I have a nephew named Thomas Paul! I thought that was neat, so I checked it out and they had some wonderful antique toys available. Thomas' first birthday is coming up; maybe he would like a toy with his name on it! 

Stay tuned for my first product review...

14 January 2011

Homemade Eggnog

3 remarks

It was quite a happy holiday season at my house thanks in part to this homemade eggnog.  We had a Christmas cookie swap one Friday before Christmas, and I thought it would be fun to make some eggnog to drink with our cookies.  We were not disappointed!  This is the best eggnog I have ever had the pleasure of drinking, and I don't think I will ever buy another carton of eggnog again.

I had made Alton Brown's eggnog a couple years ago, but I made the cooked version.  This year, with my fear of consuming raw eggs all but gone, I decided to try the uncooked version.  I made sure to buy my eggs from a reputable source, The Sunspot, and found the freshest eggs they had.  The uncooked version is definitely the way to go; which makes sense, since that is how eggnog was originally made.  It isn't as heavy as store-bought eggnog, and it has a much more delicate flavor.

The eggnog was surprisingly easy to make, too.  I made the first batch this year with Eva, and it was ready before we knew it.  I think we were both expecting it to be a bit more complicated than it actually was.  All in all, it is a simple and delicious recipe and a real crowd pleaser.  Perfect for holiday entertaining!

Recipe courtesy Alton Brown
Printable Recipe

4 egg yolks
1/3 cup sugar, plus 1 tablespoon
1 pint whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
3 ounces bourbon
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
4 egg whites

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the egg yolks until they lighten in color. Gradually add the 1/3 cup sugar and continue to beat until it is completely dissolved. Add the milk, cream, bourbon and nutmeg and stir to combine.

Place the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat to soft peaks. With the mixer still running gradually add the 1 tablespoon of sugar and beat until stiff peaks form.

Whisk the egg whites into the mixture. Chill and serve.

10 January 2011

Red Beans and Rice

8 remarks

About a week before New Year's Day, my dad called to tell me he found some jalapeno cooking wine at a local winery.  He asked me if I wanted a bottle and I couldn't say no.  Upon accepting his offer, my dad went on to ask me if I could use it in a dish for when they came over on New Year's Day.  I told him I would, even though I didn't really know what I was going to use it in.

Our traditional New Year's Day meal consists of corned beef and cabbage, black eyed peas, and corn bread.  All are dishes that are not usually spicy so I did not want to use the wine in any of those.  I thought about setting aside a portion of the black eyed peas for the wine, but that felt like a cop-out.  For some reason, red beans and rice popped into my head, and having never made it before, I searched the internet for a recipe.

Much to my delight, I found a red beans and rice recipe from none other than Alton Brown.  I am sad to say that I do not remember the episode where AB made the dish, but that didn't stop me from giving it a try.  One thing stuck out in the recipe that made me a little nervous: pickled pork.  Pickled pork?!

I thought about just leaving the pork out, but I decided if I was going to use AB's recipe, I might as well suck it up and pickle some pork.  It's always fun to try something new in the kitchen anyway, even if it will be served to a house full of people.  I was able to pickle the pork for three days for the red beans and rice, and I have enough left over for another batch.  Bonus!

The dish came together rather easily, and the jalapeno cooking wine was a perfect touch.  We still had the corned beef and cabbage and black eyed peas, but the red beans and rice was the star of the show.  If anyone went back for seconds, they usually came back with more red beans and rice on their plate.  The dish was spicy, but not overwhelming, and the pickled pork added a really nice tang.  It was delicious. 

Red Beans and Rice
Recipe courtesy Alton Brown
Printable Recipe

For red beans:
•2 tablespoons vegetable oil
•1 medium onion, chopped
•2 medium green bell peppers, chopped
•3 stalks celery, chopped
•2 teaspoons kosher salt
•1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
•5 cloves garlic, minced
•12 ounces pickled pork, cut into 1-inch pieces, recipe follows
•3 bay leaves
•1 teaspoon dried thyme
•1 teaspoon hot sauce
•1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
•2 quarts water
•1 pound red kidney beans, rinsed and picked of debris

For rice:
•3 cups water
•1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
•2 cups long-grain rice
•1/2 to 1 teaspoon kosher salt

Place the vegetable oil in a 7-quart Dutch oven and set over medium-high heat. Add the onion, bell pepper, celery, salt and pepper to the pot. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onions and celery are semi-translucent and the bell peppers are tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add the pickled pork, bay leaves, thyme, hot sauce, cayenne pepper, water and beans to the pot and increase the heat to high. Cook, stirring frequently until the mixture comes to a boil, approximately 6 to 8 minutes. Decrease the heat to maintain a simmer, cover and cook for 1 1/2 hours, stirring every 30 minutes. Uncover, increase the heat slightly to maintain a steady simmer and continue to cook for another 30 to 40 minutes or until the beans are tender and the sauce is thickened to your liking. If you prefer an even creamier texture, mash some of the beans with a potato masher.

Prepare rice during the last 30 minutes of cooking the beans. Place the water into an electric kettle and bring to a boil. While the water is coming to a boil place the butter into a 3-quart saucepan, set over medium heat. Once the butter begins to bubble, add the rice and stir to combine. Add the salt and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Carefully pour the water over the rice and stir to combine. Decrease the heat to the lowest setting, cover, and cook for 15 to 20 minutes. Serve the beans over the rice.

Pickled Pork:
•2 cups water
•1 cup apple cider vinegar
•1/4 cup kosher salt
•6 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
•2 tablespoons sugar
•2 tablespoons yellow mustard seed
•2 tablespoons hot sauce
•1 tablespoon celery seed
•1 bay leaf
•1/4 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
•8 ounces ice
•1 1/2 pounds fresh boneless pork butt, cut into 2-inch cubes

Combine all of the ingredients except the ice and the pork in a 2-quart non-reactive saucepan, set over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and maintain a simmer for 3 minutes. Remove from the heat, add the ice and stir. Place the pork into a 1-gallon zip top bag and add the cooled pickling liquid. Remove as much air as possible; seal the bag and place in the refrigerator for at least 3 days, turning the bag occasionally. Use within 2 weeks or remove from the pork from the brine and freeze.

Yield: about 1 1/2 pounds

02 January 2011

The Indianapolis Colts Quilt

5 remarks

1680 squares.  It was a daunting number when I finished the final planning for the quilt.  It was the only way I could get the Colts logo to look good by using squares, though.  I knew what I had to do, so I bought the fabric and started cutting the two inch squares.  Once all the squares were cut, the stacks of two inch squares were even more intimidating.  It wasn't difficult, just time consuming, but I got it done.

Another Christmas present, the Indianapolis Colts quilt is the most challenging quilt I have made to date.  It is the quilt I have learned the most from making as well.  Most important of all, I now have a better understanding of how the fabric behaves and responds when sewn together.  There were some times of frustration while making it; but now that it's done, I am really proud of it and happy to give it as a gift.

The reverse side of the quilt is Indianapolis Colts fabric (I should have taken a picture of it).  So it is in a sense, reversible.  I modified the design of the back slightly after I purchased the fabric, so I ended up with enough to make another quilt.  I'm sure I'll get around to it, I just don't know when I'll be ready to cut another 1680 squares.


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