Flooding Susie’s Inbox

March 12, 2011

Thai-ing something new or It really IS windy in the Windy City!

Filed under: Books, Boring, Chicago, Food — sashyjane @ 5:10 pm

Cut me some slack on my terrible title, I’ve only got two weeks worth of writing classes under my belt.

Let me first apologize for not posting more often but do you have any idea how many episodes of Pit Boss are broadcast each week? Just try to resist precious pit bulls and costumed Little People. I dare you.  Somehow I managed to tear myself away from the television yesterday afternoon and take a nice walk around town.  I bought two books on clearance from Urban Outfitters (they were each $10 and I’ve wanted this one for a while. This one was written by a couple whose wedding was featured by Martha Stewart), perused the overpriced stuff at Anthropologie and successfully avoided a GreenPeace worker on the sidewalk.

All that walking built up a thirst so I stopped in a Starbucks for an overpriced glass of tea. I whipped out my notebook and recorded the people and atmosphere. To the untrained eye, I probably looked like every other pretentious writer who goes to Starbucks to be seen writing but the careful observer could discern that I am actually a pretentious writer who goes to Starbucks to be seen writing.

After thoroughly recording my subjects, it was time for supper. Since I was already out, I decided to Thai out Garlic & Chili, the tiny Thai kitchen just a half block from my apartment.  Garlic & Chili is located in the bottom of a transient motel so it isn’t exactly fine dining but the staff was super friendly and quick. I took my chicken pad Thai and spring rolls to go and they did not disappoint. While the pad Thai recipe was very different from the dish I loved in Augusta, it was still delicious. So delicious that I spent the rest of the night prostrate on the sofa, bemoaning the fact that I ate the whole thing.

Later that night, I was startled awake by a high-pitched howling and loud smacking noises. These noises were very different from the loud clunking my living room radiator makes so it was slightly concerning. Turns out, they don’t call it the Windy City for nothing – the wind was whipping and it hasn’t stopped all day.  The sun has finally come out now so I think I’ll go out for another walk. Just as soon as I watch 5 more episodes of Pit Boss.

Shorty and Hercules photo from here.

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July 21, 2010

Tonight

Filed under: Food, VeryVera — sashyjane @ 7:04 pm

Be sure to watch my former boss, VeryVera,  square off against Grillmaster Bobby Flay tonight at 9:00 p.m. EST on the Food Network! Battle Carrot Cake is going to be so much fun!

I’m off to a little party where we’ll watch the show with Vera and friends… I can’t wait to see if she takes Bobby down! Tune in!

April 20, 2010

Nutter Butter Banana Pudding

Filed under: Food — sashyjane @ 9:24 am

I’m fairly certain that I ran across this recipe on somebody’s blog but I can’t remember whose, so I’m sorry if I don’t credit the right person.

For a delicious, summery dessert, this recipe has that good old-fashioned taste of banana pudding with a twist. I made it for my Bible study and while my pudding didn’t set quite as firmly as I would have prefered, it still tasted delicious! Enjoy!

NUTTER BUTTER BANANA PUDDING

Prep: 35 min., Cook: 20 min., Stand: 30 min., Chill: 2 hr.

Yield: Makes 8 to 10 servings

  • 3  cups  milk
  • 3  large eggs
  • 3/4  cup  sugar
  • 1/3  cup  all-purpose flour
  • 2  tablespoons  butter
  • 2  teaspoons  vanilla extract
  • 5  medium-size ripe bananas
  • 1  (1-lb.) package peanut butter sandwich cookies
  • 2  cups  sweetened whipped cream

Whisk together first 4 ingredients in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Cook, whisking constantly, 15 to 20 minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat; stir in butter and vanilla until butter is melted. Fill a large bowl with ice. Place saucepan in ice, and let stand, stirring occasionally, 30 minutes or until mixture is thoroughly chilled.  Meanwhile, cut bananas into 1/4-inch slices. Break cookies into thirds. Spoon half of pudding mixture into a 3-qt. bowl or pitcher. Top with bananas and cookies. Spoon remaining pudding mixture over bananas and cookies. Top with sweetened whipped cream. Cover and chill 2 to 24 hours. Garnish, if desired.

Printable recipe here.

April 13, 2010

Next Week

Filed under: Food — sashyjane @ 10:39 am

Next Thursday marks this blog’s 1st birthday!! To celebrate, I’ll be hosting a yummy giveaway. Be sure to check back next Thursday (April 22) for your chance at a piece of the pie (or cake, hint, hint.) 

January 29, 2010

A little supper for six

Filed under: Entertaining, Food, Friends — sashyjane @ 2:24 pm

I absolutely love entertaining.  It’s one of my favorite things to do! I love prepping for days ahead of time, setting the table and dressing it and cooking fun new recipes.

Last night, I had Rhende, Paige, Jen and Jessica over for a little supper of pork roast, red potato and sweet onion gratin, butter beans, biscuits and chocolate pie. It was my first ever attempt at meringue (the thought had always terrified me!) and I couldn’t have been more pleased with the looks of it.  The taste however… I shouldn’t have tried to make my own instructions for the chocolate filling portion of the pie. Hindsight’s 20/20.

I like to set the table a day or two ahead of time to make sure I’m not rushed the evening of my event.  While I’m no Eddie Ross, I do like to dress a table with a mix of new and old and play with fabrics, accessories and linens.

Pardon the wrinkled tablecloth. I put it down and got carried away dressing the table… it never got ironed.

Almost all of my dishes, etc are hand-me-downs.  The plates, silverware and glasses are all cast-offs from Mama’s collection. Unfortunately, I don’t have six wine glasses so we all drank our wine from champagne glasses.  I don’t think anybody minded too much. The wooden salad bowls were from my great-grandmother’s collection.  The brown embroidered napkins were a steal from Williams-Sonoma after Christmas one year and the white linen napkins are hand-me-downs from my paternal grandmother.  They’re embroidered with a “B” for her maiden name. The tablecloth, table runner and placemats are all from Target.  I love their Waverly Linen Hemstitch stuff. I buy whatever colors they happen to have on clearance. The nest-shaped napkin rings and bird salt and pepper shakers are also Target. The bird napkin rings are Z Gallerie.  The candlesticks were a hand-me-down from a friend.

 Have I ever mentioned how much I love my percolator? I believe it was a gift to my great-grandmother.  She already had a coffee pot so she just put this one away for later.  When we moved her out of her house (at age 10o!) I got to keep the percolator.  It makes delicious coffee and it’s so pretty to look at!

We had a fantastic time and I was so glad to be cooking for more than one person. Would you like that pie recipe? I’ll post it when I get home this afternoon. It’s super easy and super pretty.  You just have to follow the instructions instead of making up your own.

Photos by Rachel.

December 19, 2009

There’ll be parties for hosting, marshmallows for roasting…

Filed under: Entertaining, Family, Food, VeryVera — sashyjane @ 10:59 am

In movies and TV shows, you always see the impeccably dressed matriarch slaving away in the kitchen for days to present her family with a magnificent feast at the impossibly glossy and beautifully set dining room table. The patriarch then stands and says a few words before rolling up the sleeves of his oxford shirt and cashmere pullover to carve the beautiful bird. The family gazes up adoringly at this patriarch as he slices off picture perfect slices of golden turkey that isn’t at all dry. The boys straighten their ties and the girls straighten their pearls. They almost always look like Ozzie and Harriet.

In my family, it’s quite a different picture. There are card tables and folding chairs scattered throughout the house, almost everybody is in jeans, everybody brings a dish or two and we set the casseroles and platters on the kitchen counter and each member goes through the buffet line, helping themselves to the bounty. Sounds a little more attainable, right? The only problem with the potluck style supper is that inevitably, everybody needs to warm their dish “just a few minutes” on the stove or in the oven.

Avoiding this problem is simple with a little preplanning when deciding which dish you’re going to bring. For example, prepare the yummy and oh-so-satisfying baked spinach and gruyere casserole or the savory and sweet rye and apple dressing, bake them at home and transport them in an insulated bag or cardboard box lined with towels. For as long as I’ve known her, Grandmama keeps a cardboard box lined with an old beach towel in her truck for just such occasions.

Desserts are always an easy contribution. Cheesecakes can be made ahead and refrigerated. Layer cakes can be iced far in advance and easily transported in a cake carrier. Brownies, cookies and pies can be prepared the week before pulled from the freezer the day before to thaw. Cranberry sauce is another easy way to contribute a holiday staple without getting underfoot in the kitchen. Daddy prefers the cranberry gelatinous cylinder while the rest of the family goes for the homemade cranberry-orange sauce. Either way, it’s prepped and ready to go ahead of time. In true Southern fashion, the green beans we eat at Christmas have been cooked to death and usually arrive hot. This leaves the kitchen free for the last minute dishes like the maple glazed carrots, gravy and roasted Brussels sprouts with pecans.

Even if your Christmas dinners look more like the Nelson family’s than mine, a little forethought and preplanning can save you or the host(ess) a great deal of stress and last minute prep work. And that’s the way to really enjoy the holidays.

Blue Potatoes Au Gratin
2 1/2 pounds blue potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/4-inch thick
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup shredded Gruyere
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Butter a 9 by 13-inch baking dish or similar sized casserole dish. Arrange the sliced potatoes in the prepared dish. In a medium saucepan, saute the minced garlic in butter over medium heat until softened and fragrant. Stir in flour and cook for 3 minutes. Gradually whisk in the cream until smooth and thick. Remove from the heat and stir in the cheeses. Season with salt and pepper.

Pour cheese sauce over the potatoes in the dish. Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 15 minutes until browned.
*from the Food Network

Rye and Apple Dressing
½ stick unsalted butter
½ loaf rye bread, cut into ½ inch pieces (about 6 cups)
½ loaf sourdough bread, cut into ½ inch pieces (about 6 cups)
2 onions, chopped
4 stalks celery, cut into ½ inch pieces
Salt and pepper
2 Granny Smith apples, cut into ½ inch pieces
3 c. chicken broth
1 c. fresh parsley, chopped
¼ c. fresh sage, chopped
2 large eggs, beaten

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Butter a deep 3 quart casserole. Place bread on a rimmed baking sheet and toast until golden, 10 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onions, celery and ½ t. each of salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 8-10 minutes. Stir in the apples and cook for 2 minutes. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Add the vegetable mixture, parsley and sage to the bread and toss to combine. Mix in the eggs. Transfer to the prepared dish and cover loosely with buttered foil. Bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and bake until golden, 12-15 minutes.

Maple-Glazed Carrots
3 lbs. carrots, sliced ¼ thick on the diagonal
¼ c. maple syrup
2 T. unsalted butter
Salt and pepper

In a large skillet, combine the carrots, syrup and butter with 1/3 c. water, ½ t. salt, and ¼ t. pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, stirring once, until the carrots are tender and the liquid has reduced to a glaze, 12-15 minutes.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pecans
2 lbs. Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
1 c. pecans, roughly chopped
2 T. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Salt and pepper

Heat oven to 400 degrees. On a large rimmed baking sheet, toss Brussels sprouts, pecans, oil and garlic with ½ t. salt and ¼ t. pepper. Turn the Brussels sprouts cut side down. Roast until golden and tender, 20-25 minutes.

All recipes and carrot  image from Real Simple Magazine

Article originally published here.

November 25, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Filed under: Family, Food — sashyjane @ 12:13 pm

Although the most delicious day of the year isn’t until tomorrow, I know I won’t sit in front of a computer to blog about it on Thursday and I certainly don’t know how to schedule a post to appear. Thus, you’re getting your Thanksgiving post today.

I absolutely love this week! My favorite cousins come to town, Susie comes home from school for longer than 24 hours and delicious food abounds.  Tomorrow afternoon, our large extended family will converge on cousins Ross and Judy’s house for Thanksgiving supper (we eat at about 6.) While I’m still relegated to the kids’ table – I’m pretty sure you need a post graduate degree, spouse and at least 2 children to be seated at the adult table – I enjoy taking a dish or two along in an attempt to prove my adulthood.

Last year, I made a super delicious and super easy cranberry cheeseball that I plan to bring again this year.  In addition, Susie and I want to try out the Paula Deen Gingerbread Pumpkin Trifle at Erika’s suggestion.

Cranberry Cheeseball

2 8oz pkgs cream cheese, softened

1/2 c. dried cranberries (can use more if you like)

1 T.  orange zest

1 t.  Garlic salt

1 c. chopped nuts (walnuts are my favorite)

Mix first four ingredients up together in a bowl until cranberries are well-distributed. Form mixture into a ball and roll in chopped nuts. Refrigerate until about 30 minutes before serving. Plate on a cake pedestal and surround with crackers (I like to use the garlic and herb flavored Townhouse Toppers.) Enjoy!  This super easy recipe is no sweat and people love the combination of salty, sweet and savory.  It’s also very handy to have something for guests to gnosh on while the turkey is being prepped for it’s debut.

What are your favorite Thanksgiving traditions? Do you go out to eat like Blue Hydrangea? Does your family take a trip somewhere like Blueprint Bliss? Or do you have an intimate dinner with family and friends at home like Eddie and Jaithan? Whatever you’re doing on this day of thankfulness, I want you to know that I’m thankful for each one of you! I’m thankful for your readership, your comments and your helpful suggestions.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

October 28, 2009

A Tasty Treat

Filed under: Doggies!, Food, Tater — sashyjane @ 10:43 am

Don’t these look delcious?

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How about these?

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They’re a little pricey but who could say no to this sweet face?

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How do you spoil your fur baby?

October 21, 2009

Oh! I Love the one with the puffy eyes!

Filed under: Entertaining, Food, Friends — sashyjane @ 9:40 am

On Saturday night, a few friends came by for a little supper and conversation and I couldn’t have had a better time! We ate, we drank, we laughed, we cried, we acted like we were in the seventh grade.

Those in attendance included:

Jen

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Jennifer

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Rachel

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Sarah

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And me

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I served sweet bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin (the same recipe I served for Scott and Lenka a while back), butternut squash lasagna that I found here, Rachel made some deliciously steamed broccoli and we had an apple walnut crisp with vanilla ice cream for dessert.

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The church where I work had a huge banquet complete with harvest-themed centerpieces.  There were tons left over so my boss sent me home with 7 of them! After taking a couple to Mama and Grandmama, I had the perfect fillers to make the party feel really polished.

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I’ll be the first to admit that I’m no expert when it comes to wine. I have no palette for what’s good or bad (except for Doghouse. Yuck!) So, instead, I purchase wine based on the prettiness of it’s packaging and I thought this bottle fit very well with the Fall theme. It was drinkable so that’s good enough for me. Seriously, when you read the reviews of wines and they say they have juicy, fruity, nutty or peppery flavors, I have yet to taste that in a bottle of wine.  Maybe I’m just unsophisticated.  At least I didn’t serve it over ice. :)

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I also picked up a few bottles of this. It’s pretty good but I’m not entirely sure how I feel about pumpkin ale. It makes me queasy to think about but it tastes pretty good.

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I absolutely love entertaining and a small dinner party with friends was just what the doctor ordered last week.  I feel very confident in saying I have hilarious (and pretty) friends. Let me know if you want to set your attractive guy friends up with any of them. :)

All the pictures except for the beer are stole from various and sundry Facebook profiles. The beer image is from here.

September 14, 2009

Shower, etc.

Filed under: Food, Friends, Weddings — sashyjane @ 5:51 pm

Why is it that I get so much more work done after hours? I have probably gotten  more things done in the last half hour than I have all day.  Maybe it’s because the phone isn’t ringing and people aren’t popping over to my desk to ask me to do something “real quick.”  I wonder if they’d let me show up after 5 everyday?

Next topic: Glee.  Have you been watching? I certainly hope so. If not, click here and watch immediately.  It’s adorable and hilarious and so much fun I can’t even stand it. The cheerleading coach kills me.

And finally, the moment you’ve all been waiting for.  You don’t need to sit in front of your computer checking my blog every half hour anymore… it’s finally here… the shower report.

Everything went so smoothly and everybody seemed to have a great time!

For the occasion, I painted my living room a warm shade of yellow (Valspar Sisal to be exact)

114_1003Please be so kind as to ignore the fingerprint smudges and lack of mat on that print. Thank you.

Then I painted my office area and powder room a beautiful oceanic blue (Valspar Secluded Garden)

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And my dear, sweet Mama made a Roman shade for the back door.

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Since the shower was on a Friday night, we served slightly heavier fare than we would have normally. It’s nothing fancy.

Emily’s Shower Menu

Pimento Cheese, Curried Chicken Salad and Hot Onion Dip with Crackers

Meatballs

Mini cheese and broccoli quiches

Disgusting Pre-made pinwheel thingies from Sam’s

White Cupcakes with Chocolate Frosting

Ice water, Sweet tea and Decaf Coffee (we’re not a young as we used to be- regular would have kept us up all night!)

114_0999All the food’s not on the table yet…

114_0997Adorable cupcake papers from here.

Lenka and I gave Emily a very Emilyish apron from here monogrammed with her new initials

114_1001and the darling Martha recipe box she registered for.  Each guest was sent a recipe card and asked to fill it out with one of their favorite recipes so Emily could get her collection started.

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Once the guests arrived, we all ate and chatted for a bit.  Then we started on our first activity.  Emily loves hot tea and she particularly likes this recipe for easy hot spiced tea. We set out the ingredients and a large copy of the recipe and had the guests fill their jars (we used pint sized jars so I cut the recipe in half) and then finish them off with some cute fabric and ribbons.

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After the guests finished their jars (that was also their favor… I guess that’s kind of cheating that we made them make their own…) we played Wedding Scattergories! Emily loves to play Scattergories and she’s quite good at it so Lenka and I made up a custom version (we just made up wedding and kitchen related topics.) Every age guest enjoyed themselves and there were some hilarious answers.

114_1029 Did I mention that everybody wore their aprons to really get into the kitcheny spirit?

114_1032Emily’s future MIL and her mom concentrating hard…

114_1033Jennifer is always good for a clever answer (she suggested that Emily play “Every Woman” by Whitney Houston as her first dance song)

114_1035Cooking up some unique responses no doubt. Ps. Isn’t my book artwork lovely? Susie painted it for me.

Emily, her sister-in-law Melissa and Melissa’s sister Kelly ended up with the most points and Emily and Kelly took home fun little kitchen gadgets (a vegetable peeler and a mini grater for nuts and spices.)

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After opening her fabulous gifts (of which I have no pictures. If it hadn’t been for Lenka, I would have none at all!) we surveyed the aftermath and called it a night.

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Oh… one last thing.  I bought a hideous tv armoire from a used furniture store in town and painted it the same color as the walls (the inside is painted the same color as the office/bathroom) and changed out the hardware.  It’s not perfect but I think it turned out quite lovely.  Of course I have no before pictures because I’m just not that patient.

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