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Saturday, November 22, 2008

In the Kitchen Pt. 5

It has been a little while since my last "In the Kitchen" addition, and all I can say is I'm sorry. I really have been cooking and baking up a storm these past couple of weeks, and I even took pictures of the food, but... There have been a couple of events that kind of took my mind off of posting. Things including the Phillies winning the World Series, which of course being a suburbanite of Philadelphia, you know I was down there partying it up at this place the night they won, joining in the crowds on Broad St. afterwards, and then traveling downtown once more on Friday to take part in the amazing parade. And then there was the Election and of course the stresses of preparing a Thanksgiving dinner. Finally, after my evening run with Metayo, I found some quite time to sit down in front of the computer and share a few of my cooking ventures with you. I now present you with an amazing cheesecake recipe by the incredibly talented and always dependable Dorie Greenspan. Being the first cheesecake I have ever made, I was quite proud at how it turned out, and so was everyone who tasted it. Since it is not a recipe of my own, I thought I'd take another photo of a Roasted Garlic and Butternut Squash Penne I conjured up for my sister, who always asks me to whip something up for her on Tuesdays. The recipe for the Penne dish is as follows, but you can find the cheesecake recipe here, and I do suggest that you try it immediately!!

Roasted Garlic & Butternut Squash Penne
1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cubed.
5-6 whole garlic cloves
1 shallot, chopped or diced
6 sages leaves, julienned.
1 tbsp. E.V. Olive Oil
3 tbsp. butter + 1 tsp. E.V. Olive Oil
1/8 tsp. Anchovy paste (Incredibly subtle, nutty NOT fishy flavor)
Red Pepper Flake to taste
Pinch of Nutmeg
Salt and Pepper
1 Box whole wheat Penne

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a bowl, combine 1 tbsp. oil with butternut squash, garlic, salt and pepper. Pour onto baking sheet and place in oven, mid rack for 10-15minutes until golden. If needed, you can broil them for a few minutes to get the tops nice and brown. Take out and and allow to cool. In a saute pan, add butter and 1 tsp. oil, anchovy paste and shallots. Allow butter to brown slightly, and add red pepper flakes, salt and pepper to taste, and sage leaves. Cook whole wheat penne until al dente, and add into saute pan, along with a splash or two of pasta water or white wine. Slice roasted garlic into thin or thick slivers, and add that and butternut squash to pan. Heat through and serve. (* This is the perfect dish for fall; nutty and comforting. You could also try adding a green such as broccoli rab or spinach as well!)

*Sorry for the not-top quality cheesecake photos, darkness had fallen by the time it chilled and I don't like using the flash.

Friday, November 7, 2008

All I Want for Christmas

Okay, I give in.. It is merely the start of November and already I have caught a bug. Now this bug, although mind/time consuming as it may be, is not painful nor dreaded. This bug bites me every year around this time, sometimes sooner and sometimes later; I like to call it the Christmas Bug. With less than two months from the big day, my mind has be taken over by all thoughts of Christmas. I must admit that for the past three weeks I have checked the isles of Target, Home Goods, and Kohl's just to see if they had received their seasonal shipments. Obsessive, perhaps just a tad, but I couldn't help it. Even with the present state of our economy all that I can think about are ornaments, snowstorms, Christmas music, hot chocolate, and gift wrap. Typically I don't decorate for Christmas until the day after Thanksgiving, but I think that this year, Christmas might come just a little bit early, at least in small doses. You will no longer hear the radio playing in my living room, no sirree, you will now hear Christmas Cd's blasting their joyous tunes through the walls of my chilled Autumn home. Ella Fitzgerald, Bing Crosby, Nat King Cole, just to name a few. I even began creating a Christmas list for myself, how selfish is that? I normally don't ever make a Christmas list, but I have just encountered so many "good things" that I "have to have." Although I will do much needed revisions to the list before I hand it over to my loved ones, it is still nice to wish, so I guess it would be more appropriate to call it a wish list (*which I currently have on Amazon, Anthropologie, and J.Crew.com ;) With that said, I decided that I would post up a few of the items that have caught my eye, since by the looks of it, many of my fellow bloggers have also started in with their Christmas spirit. Enjoy!

*It's funny to me how our Christmas lists change as we grow older. As a child all I wanted was baby dolls, kitchen toys, and a cash register (yes a real cash register, but that's a whole other story ;) Then, into my tweens and teens, I wanted cold hard cash, perfume, clothes, shoes, and makeup. Now that I am a little bit older, I find myself asking for home supplies, home supplies! Of course there's still always room for shoes!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Baby it's Cold Outside

Though it is almost the first of November, I am proud to say that South-Eastern Pennsylvania has already accumulated some small amounts of snow. Now of course, the location of your home dictated how long those feathery flurries lasted, but it was sure fun (at least somewhat) while it did. Yesterday we experienced 20-40 mph winds, constant showers, hail, and of course snow, that lovely lovely snow. With hints of what the day would entail from the big game the night before, Tuesday, October 28th was just one of those days where you wanted to sleep in all day, surrounded by comfy down pillows and warm blankets, watching through your frosted windows what mayhem sweeped across the land. But we are not all so lucky, and I had to venture out into the mess, with umbrella in hand, and boy let me tell you it was quite an experience. Inverted umbrellas, icicles in the rats nest which now made up my once straightened locks, and brush burns from being slammered in the face by sleet and snow always make a woman feel her best don't they? It was a long day but I was so glad to come back home, put on a pot of homemade chicken noodle soup and sip a nice hot cup of cocoa. Luckily, the Nor-Eastern which brought all this horrible weather about is finally passing through, and come Halloween it will be sunny and warm-er than yesterday or today (currently 38 degrees.) If I don't get to tell you then, I hope you all have a wonderful Halloween!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

In the Kitchen Pt. 4

Come the middle of October I am completely enthralled with cooking; baking especially. I conjure up ideas in my head, gather the ingredients, and make tasty comfort food for my family, friends, and loved ones. I DVR all of my favorite cooking shows, watch them when I get the chance, and then use their recipes as the inspirations for my own creations. Seasonal magazines are also a must in my kitchen, such as Country Living, Martha Stewart Living, and Gourmet. The pictures alone get my creative kitchen juices flowing and I often times find myself jotting recipes on anything within reach, such as receipts, junk mail, etc. Just yesterday I felt like baking, so I made an apple crisp pie. Using, ehem.. store bought crust and store bought apple crumble, I used up all of my past-their-prime Macintosh's, added some pumpkin spice and cinnamon, and piled up the ingredients. There is nothing like compiling a recipe on a whim, simply based on whatever is stocking the kitchen shelves. I try not to waste food, so if a few apples begin to go bad I'll make apple sauce or if the tomatoes have reached their peak, "sun dried" tomatoes. Last night I brined some pork chops, and made a roux out of white wine, butter and flour, tossed in some thyme, dried cranberries and sauteed onions, and voila! Parmesan thyme risotto accompanied the dinner along with steamed broccoli florets, and dinner was served in no time. The chill in the air makes people crave those feel good foods that not only make your house smell amazing, but they taste amazing as well. Here's to using simple accessible ingredients to serve up delicious comfort foods!

Apple Crumble Pie:
1 store bought pie crust (or homemade if you're so inclined ;)
1 box T. Marzetti Apple Crumble Mix w/ 5 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 pound sliced Macintosh apples (or whatever you have on hand) about 2.5 cups
2 Tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 Tsp. pumpkin spice or all spice
1 Tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 Tsp. Lemon Juice (to preserve apples)
1 Tbsp. flour
Pinch of salt
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lay pie crust in round pie pan, poking the sides and bottom with a fork as well as creasing the edges. Bake in oven for about 10 minutes until crust is golden. As crust bakes, cube 5 tbsp. cold butter and incorporate into Apple Crumble mix (or use a food processor.) Place in fridge. Mix apples, cinnamon, pumpkin spice, flour, salt and vanilla and fill pie crust. Top with chilled crumble topping and drizzle with maple syrup. Brush an egg-wash onto the crust prior to placing in oven. Bake for 35-40 minutes until apples are tender and crumble topping is golden. Let slightly cool and enjoy!

Ps: Sorry no post-baking photo, my camera fell in Metayo's water bowl and I was frantically trying to save it ;) But it still works thankfully!

Friday, October 3, 2008

Fall Premieres

Has anyone caught the Food Network commercials that have announced a BRAND NEW season of Barefoot Contessa, as well as an all new series from Giada DeLaurentiis, called Giada at Home? Being that the two above are my all-time favorite show hosts on the channel, I am uber-excited. Not only does the fall bring new sights and smells, but also new shows! I have been watching these two cookin' ladies for several years now, and although I can only really say I've attempted a handful or so of their recipes, I love the way in which the shows are filmed, and the fresh ideas that they take on common grocery items.
Now that it is officially Fall, I have been bitten by the cooking bug and have been whipping up concoctions all week long. Last night at 9:00 P.M. I decided that I would make sweet potato pie. How do you make sweet potato pie you ask? Well I wouldn't be able to tell you, but I knew I had some ginger-snap cookies that were going to go to waste as well as a can of sweet potatoes, so I figured why not? After a few additions and mistakes, I whipped up a Sweet Potato pie which my family all loves, just in the knick of time too (10:30 P.M.) ;) Today, I saw some button mushrooms that needed to be used, so I figured that I would whip up some Chicken Marsala for my sister who has been asking me to make her a "creamy pasta dish." Theres something about fall, and that cold nip in the air that makes you crave comfort foods, and makes me yearn to be in the kitchen, creating some new dishes that will entice my loved ones senses and of course make their belly's happy. Please do tune onto the Food Network on October 18th @ 1:00 P.M. if you hadn't already planned, or of course set your DVR to record for the two lovely new shows. Heres to Falls new beginning and the start of some comforting kitchen creations and celebrations!

ps: How could I forget, Food Network has also created a new Magazine!! Check it out here

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Fall Fix Up

The season is changing, and with every seasons change I always tend to get into the mood for some inspiration early on. So this past weekend, while attempting to reach for October and November issues of my favorite magazines from years past, I found myself covered with at least 30 pounds of paper-inspiration. The closet shelf which neatly holds all of my magazines fell and poured over a hundred different copies of Country Living, Country Home and Martha right ontop of me. Angered, annoyed and a little bit bruised, I decided that it was finally time to de-clutterize and organize.
Completely skipping the whole "Spring-Cleaning" period this year, some areas of my home never received a thorough cleaning. I say areas, but truly just mean my crafts room. Full of magazines, paper scraps, glue bottles, glitter flecks and all other sorts of loveliness that would have looked great in containers, it was time for a serious clean-up. You see I have the tendency to collect things (ie: magazines and clothes) and when I find myself surrounded and overwhelmed by the vast quantities of each, I still have a hard time letting go. I have never liked to clip pictures out and discard the rest of a magazine, especially Holiday issues and Spring, Winter, Autumn, oh well pretty much all of them. But it was time, so I selected some of my old Martha's (keeping the holiday and autumn editions of course!) Gourmet, and some Country Living, and clipped and recycled. I still have quite a large supply of magazine inspiration, but it's a start. Once I was done with my clippings I organized them into folders labeled for each theme, and now I can just open the folders whenever I need some "Kitchen" inspiration or delicious recipe. Now that my crafts room revamp is over, I am planning on looking through all of my Autumn editions, lighting some of these lovely candles and sitting back to watch one of my fall favorites "Practical Magic." (It always get's me in the mood for chilly Autumn nights and hot apple cider. ;)

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

To Autumn

Every year, typically weeks before the official start of Fall (September 22,) the heavy summer air takes a vacation for a few days, teasing us with what beautiful weather is to come. Although these wonderful days last only a week or so, I am always so thankful to have them. Not only do they remind me of how much I love the upcoming season, but they also act as a breath of fresh air, after a summer stuck indoors, air conditioning on high, and a slight case of lethargy. Today is one of those days, morningtime and a mere 63 degrees with the bright sun shining. Had it not been a weekday, today would have been the perfect day for a yard sale run or an outdoor antique market visit. Alas, it is still Summer, and I still have a few more weeks until pumpkins and mums begin to pop-up at my local farmstand. Fall may not officially arrive for a few more weeks, but who says we can't start early? Feeling the "Autumnal blues" I thought I would look up some inspirational eye-candy for all of the creative bloggers who adore the season as much as I do, since the October issues of my favorite magazines do not come out for at least another week. Enjoy the little pieces of joy below for now, but remain patient, because Fall will soon reward you with all of its loveliness!


Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Un-announced Summer Hiatus

Hey there!! I'm sure those of you who still had it in their hearts to check back to my blog every so often must have thought I vanished off the face of the Earth, but I am still here!! I decided to take a long needed break, take some time for myself, and take some time to get some things finished. I give you now dear blog readers a proposal; If you have even the slightest ounce of hope for me left running through your creative veins, please do stick around and check back soon, because I promise it will the best "Adventures of Gigi" you have seen in a while! I'm tackling some long needed changes to the layout, so pardon any of the construction you may see.. I cannot wait to get started soon!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Springtime & The Living is Easy

Okay, so I know I said "more coming soon," but you know me and "soon" simply means a minimum of a week ;). Sorry about the long departure, but I am kinda feeling good about this whole spring blogging thing. You see last year when I created my blog I couldn't stop making new posts or visiting new sites. But now that its been over a year, I pretty much have thoroughly looked at most of the blogs I love, and now I am left with occasional daily check ups to see who updated theirs, while mine sits here dull and lonesome. I think that happens to all of us in blogland at one point or another, I know that when I first discovered blogging by googling "Shabby Chic" and winding up on one of the queen of bloglands sites, I was utterly amazed and couldn't believe the world in which I had just ventured into, and now I feel as though that excitement has blossomed with the coming of Spring once again, and hopefully as a benefit to all of my dear blog readers, you will be seeing a whole lot more posts, with all things crafty and inspiring!
Off the topic of my blog and onto the Flower Show, I know you have been waiting for these, so here they are. Students from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia were to make their debut to the public by creating beautiful dresses out of recycled items. My favorite would have to be the one above, made of old film. The orange plastic barricade one is also very nice, but I did not snap a photo of the one made of rubber gloves with imprinted faces because it was really creepy; I mean silence of the lambs creepy ;) Below the dresses are pieces of jewelry made of natural items such as leaves & twigs, etcetera. I personally think that the artists included in this years flower show totally blew the arrangements out of the water. Very very creative people out there might I add! And scattered throughout are some more vignettes of New Orleans streets, and close up shots of a floral alligator, cherry blossoms & of course roses!Perfect post for the first day of Spring huh? Enjoy!

Monday, March 10, 2008

Swingin' into Spring

So yeah, I kind of just left you hangin' on my last post didn't I? Sorry about that, I was kind of in a rush and had wanted to add a little linkage to a previous post but I was about to leave to go to the bah da da da *2008 Philadelphia Flower Show.* Yep, I had been waiting all month long to go, and especially being stricken with Spring Fever, it was the perfect remedy for my winter blues. Again, this year did not disappoint, and I was pleasantly suprised by all the glorious flowers and innovative designs that artists from around the country had made.
I am going to share a different segment on the Flower show in my next post, but for now this post is all about flowers! (as it should be.) This years theme I believe was "Big Band," with hints of Louisiana, the bayou, and of course Jazz music. Greeted by a giant piano entry way and musical instruments made of intricately placed carnations of all colors, the views were amazing and the aroma was out of this world! I won't babble on anymore, I'll let you decide! Enjoy!!

Lets take a little tour shall we?

Check back soon... Lots more to come!!
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