Tuesday, December 30, 2008

New Year's Eve

We've never been much for New Year's Eve... it's rarely exciting and it's a hassle to get around safely. Last year, we just stayed home in our comfies and enjoyed a nice dinner and each other's company. This year, we're doing the same, except it's a little fancier! We're going to dress up and I'm in the process of prepping our meal... can you tell I was inspired by the Barefoot Contessa??

Parker's Split Pea Soup: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/parkers-split-pea-soup-recipe/index.html
Parmesan Croutons: http://www.recipezaar.com/The-Barefoot-Contessas-Parmesan-Croutons-299026

Main Course:
Pan Seared Fillet Mignon with a Cabernet Sauce: http://megs-tastytreats.blogspot.com/2008/05/pan-seared-filet-mignon-with-cabernet.html
Mustard-Roasted Potatoes: http://myfoodtoday.blogspot.com/2007/02/mustard-roasted-potatoes.html
String Beans with Shallots: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/string-beans-with-shallots-recipe/index.html

Coconut Cake: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ina-garten/coconut-cake-recipe/index.html

I'm most nervous about the cake and getting the coconut to stick... it's really the only course I can make in the morning, so I guess that's a good thing. I can always fall back on Betty Crocker, if it fails :)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Nesting Bowls

Now that I've spent 2 days in the kitchen, I have realized two things:

1. I need a double oven if I plan on baking this much again; and,
2. I love nesting bowls.

What is it about these that makes me love them so?? They are incredibly practical, easy to store, fun to use, and, if you purchase a good set, they're cute too. I have my green William Sonoma ones; a set of glass bowls that go so small, and a ceramic set from Crate and Barrel.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Expired Coupons??

One of my recent hobbies is coupon-ing (I can hear my brother laughing at me right now...). Slowly, but surely, I'm learning how to get good deals on the food we eat and the products we use (for example, $0.11 for a box of couscous, which Matt loves). Many of our local stores offer double and triple coupons, which adds up every week. I cut out every coupon I get, because I never know what's going to be on sale or what I'm going to need!

However, being just the two of us (and Hula), we don't exactly consume a lot of goods. What do we do with our left over coupons and coupons that we just don't need? I have four options that I'm learning to alternate between:

1. Stock-up on basics: Even if I don't need chicken broth, I'll use my soon-to-be-expired coupon and buy stock on sale. If I know that I'm actually going to use it soon, I'll stock up :)

2. Stock-up on items to donate: We like to give back to the community and participate in drives for those in need. When there is an amazing deal on products like soaps, toothpaste, canned food, diapers, etc, I purchase with my coupons and save the item(s) to donate. This way, we always have stock on hand and we can contribute to worthy causes while watching the budget :)

3. Send to friends: I have several friends with babies, and since we don't have kids yet, I send them my baby/kid related coupons. Even if they don't use them, I know that they have the potential to use them. I also send links to good online coupons to friends who I know will want to use them.

4. Send to military families overseas: The commissary stores on army bases accepts expired coupons up to 6 months past their expiration dates!! For families earning very little, coupons can make a big difference. Since I'm clipping anyway, it's an easy way for us to support our troops. If you would like to donate your coupons, go to http://www.ocpnet.org and follow their instructions for mailing coupons. This site sends coupons to a base of your choosing, and the coupons are put in a box at the front of the commissary for the shoppers. Military commissaries accept coupons 6 months past their expiration date as well as internet printed coupons. You can also send your coupons directly to military family/friends overseas!

If you have any creative ideas for old/irrelevant coupons, please let me know! Happy clipping :)

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Anniversary Dinner

Last night, Matt and I celebrated our third wedding anniversary. I was SO excited to have a real kitchen, that I cooked us a three course dinner. Matt said that he'd love an Italian or French dinner. Since I didn't have the internet to help me, I went for Italian. I forgot how much I really enjoy cooking :) The key for me is lots of planning and lots of prep work. Here's what I made:

Martha Stewart's Tuscan Tomato Soup: I pureed the soup, thinned with light cream, and put a dollop of pesto on top. It's also good with a bit of sour cream mixed in.

Chicken, Garlic, and Sun Dried Tomato Pasta: I tried to make the cream sauce as healthy as possible, but the butter makes it a bit tricky :) I will probably double the amount of sun dried tomatoes next time. We loved this! http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Chicken-Garlic-and-Sundried-Tomato-Pasta/Detail.aspx

Tiramisu: I just used the BHG recipe; it was really tasty, but it didn't "present" very well. It looks nice when served on a plate, but I wouldn't want anyone to see it in the pan :) Also, you need about 8 more lady fingers than the recipe calls for. I made it with the liquor options, as I think it tastes better. We have a lot left over so I'm going to drop it by Matt's work today.

I was also SO excited to have a real dining table, that I took pictures of how I set it. Nothing special to it, but such a joy to have a dedicated eating space :) I wanted to use our wedding china, but we have about a dozen "formal dining" boxes full of fragile pieces individually wrapped with bubble wrap, taped, and wrapped in paper. I just didn't have the time! I did manage to use wine glasses we received for our wedding (thanks, Katie!) and some candle holders that I received at my bridal shower.