Saturday, January 30, 2010

Weekend edition: perfect spiced blueberry muffins

I spent the morning baking blueberry muffins, hanging out with my sweet kitty and drinking coffee. It was the quintessential perfect morning. I've made these muffins before so I knew they wouldn't dissapoint. Click here for the recipe (from Cooking Light).















Have a lovely weekend!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Local edition: giveaway for Bonfire on Grand gift certificate

Today's giveaway is for my lovely local (Minnesota) readers for a chance to win a $50 gift certificate to Bonfire on Grand Avenue. I wish I could win my own giveaway!

Bonfire on Grand is an awesome restaurant that holds many special memories. My honey and I had our first "real" date at Bonfire and I can clearly remember all the details about the night; the table we sat at next to the fireplace and how cute he looked in the blue sweater he was wearing. We also had our rehearsal dinner at Bonfire and more than I can count nights drinking martinis and listening to dueling pianos.

Bonfire serves American and Southwestern cuisine and has some great specials throughout the week including:

- 1/2 price bottles of select wine every Monday
- 1/2 price house margaritas every Wednesday
- 1/2 price on all appetizers and pizzas Sunday-Friday 3-5:30pm
- $2 off all drinks Monday-Thursday 3-6pm and 9-close, Fridays from 3-6pm.

To enter the giveaway for a $50 Bonfire gift certificate comment on this post on one of the following:

- A favorite Bonfire memory
- A food/drink menu item you love or want to try

Entries close at 11:59pm CT on Sunday, January 31st and I will announce the winner on Monday. Good luck!





{Photo credits: Bonfire on Grand}

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Real wedding: Salwa and Jake, August 2009

I have a lovely wedding to share today that will make you long for summer, especially on this cold, winter day! Salwa and Jake took a chance on the weather in August and held an outdoor ceremony at the Conversatory at Carlson. Luckily, they got a perfect, summer day. I love the lush green grass and pretty sunshine.

My favorite aspects of this wedding include:
- A gorgeous bride with an oversized white flower in her hair and red shoes
- The beautiful, bold-colored bouquet (flowers done by Deven Nelson)
- Simple, white chairs for the ceremony

All the pretty photos were taken by Paige DeWees.

The bride's makeup was flawless, done by Brynn Andre Beauty.

Love this hairstyle by Darrin James salon.











Cheesecake in place of a traditional wedding cake. Very cool.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Inspiration board: Hello 30!

I have a milestone birthday coming up in a couple weeks, the big 3-0! I am embracing turning 30 because it means I get to throw a fabulous party, but really because I am genuinely happy. And when you're happy on your birthday, there is no reason to fear getting older. I enjoyed my 20's for sure, but am fairly certain my 30 year old self is a bit wiser.

The party theme is pink, gold and champagne (as in the drink, not the color) with a touch of shabby chic-ness. Here are all the details, I am trying not to go overboard (um...kind of difficult!):

- A pink and gold dessert display (my sis is helping me out with this)
- Pink china mums because they are gorgeous and girly
- Huge pink balloons (inspiration via Style Me Pretty)
- Lots of candles (lighting is important!)
- Sparkling wine (it's not a celebration without some bubbly!)

And most importantly, fabulous friends to share my birthday with. I can't wait!

I forgot to source all the photos on this inspiration board. I know a few including, Martha Stewart, Style Me Pretty and Hostess with the Mostess.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Champagne glasses winner!

Thanks to everyone for participating in the giveaway, I enjoyed reading all of your comments!

I used Random.org to choose the winning comment. There were 20 total comments and the number chosen was 3.
____________________________________
Heidi M. said...

I love the American Heritage Alexa Bar Stool (http://www.diningroomsdirect.com/American-Heritage-130713SI-M01-AHB1000.html) from diningroomsdirect.com! It's sleek and classy and far superior to the old outdated wooden bars stools we currently have in our kitchen. We've been meaning to upgrade, but since we're both laid off right now, it's just not in the budget. But as soon as we have extra money, that'll be one of the first things to change in our house! They'd look so cool in our chrome accented kitchen!

-Heidi
____________________________________

Heidi - please send your mailing address to eatdrinkpretty{at}gmail{dot}com and we will get the champagne glasses out to you right away.

Enjoy!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Weekend edition: pretty cupcakes

I stopped at the Sweets Bakeshop on my way home from St. Paul yesterday and picked up these adorable mini cupcakes. I also happened to check Twitter and noticed they were offering a free mango coconut cupcake to anyone that mentioned they saw the tweet. Yay, a free cupcake!

Sweets Bakeshop was gorgeous inside! They had a bunch of cute displays with macarons and cupcake towers and a beautiful crystal chandelier.

I was paying so much attention to getting the lighting right on these photos that I didn't even notice I had the worst angle of the tiramisu cupcake in the first photo. Oh well. Food styling can be my next learning project.





Friday, January 22, 2010

Guest post: cooking light with Emily

This guest post is written by my good friend, Emily. Emily and I met six years ago at the ad agency I work at and instantly bonded over our love of happy hours and good food. We no longer work together but continue our friendship over many great dinners and bottles of wine.

Emily is one heck of a cook, which is why I am so excited she wanted to provide a guest post for Eat Drink Pretty. She is a very health conscious cook and has been a loyal subscriber to Cooking Light magazine for years (she included the nutritional information at the bottom of this post).

Emily is also a passionate gardener and one of the few people I know that composts in her backyard. In the late summer months I can expect phone calls, texts and emails from her asking, "do you need any basil, green beans, squash, zuchinni?"
_______________________________________________

Guest post by Emily:

Beef Daube Provencal is a top winter favorite in my household. This Cooking Light recipe is great since the majority of the work is done up front and you can walk away and do something else while it is in the oven. This recipe makes your entire house smell fantastic – as I am typing, the Beef Daube Provencal is in the oven and almost ready to go! I’m making this for my mother’s birthday dinner tonight.

Essentially, you need about an hour to whip all the ingredients together (or less – it depends how fast you can chop or if you can recruit some help), then it slow cooks in the oven for 2 ½ hours. The end result is a succulent braised stew that you serve over egg noodles. I have made this about a dozen times and it always gets rave reviews.

I am a firm believer that cooking with wine makes anything better and it doesn’t hurt to enjoy a glass while you are cooking either! I like to make this on Sundays so I can just reheat some on the stovetop after a long day at work. You can balance out the meal with a spinach salad and an oven-warmed whole grain baguette.

If you don’t have a Dutch oven, you can use a large stockpot for the parts on the stovetop, then you’ll have transfer it to an oven proof baking dish with a lid. Just be careful as you transfer the hot contents into the baking dish. I would recommend using a measuring cup and carefully scooping a small amount at a time so you don’t splash all over.

You can also make this recipe in a slow cooker, but I have yet to try that method.


{Photo credit: Cooking Light}

Beef Daube Provençal

Yield: 6 servings (serving size: about 3/4 cup stew and 1/2 cup noodles)
Ingredients

•2 teaspoons olive oil
•12 garlic cloves, crushed
•1 (2-pound) boneless chuck roast, trimmed and cut into 2-inch cubes
•1 1/2 teaspoons salt, divided
•1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
•1 cup red wine
•2 cups chopped carrot
•1 1/2 cups chopped onion
•1/2 cup less-sodium beef broth
•1 tablespoon tomato paste
•1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
•1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
•Dash of ground cloves
•1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes
•1 bay leaf
•3 cups cooked medium egg or dumpling noodles (about 4 cups uncooked noodles)

Preparation

Preheat oven to 300°.

Heat oil in a small Dutch oven over low heat. Add garlic; cook 5 minutes or until garlic is fragrant, stirring occasionally. Remove garlic with a slotted spoon, and set aside. Increase heat to medium-high.

Add beef to pan; sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Cook 5 minutes, browning on all sides. Remove beef from pan.

Add wine to pan; bring to a boil, scraping pan to loosen browned bits.

Add garlic, beef, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, carrot, and next 8 ingredients (through bay leaf), and bring to a boil.

Cover and bake at 300° for 2 1/2 hours or until beef is tender. Discard bay leaf. Serve over egg noodles.

Note: To make in a slow cooker, prepare through Step 2. Place beef mixture in an electric slow cooker. Cover and cook on high for 5 hours.

Nutritional Information

Calories: 367 (31% from fat)
Fat: 12.8g (sat 4.3g,mono 5.8g,poly 0.9g)
Protein: 29.1g
Carbohydrate: 33.4g
Fiber: 3.9g
Cholesterol: 105mg
Iron: 4.3mg
Sodium: 776mg
Calcium: 76mg

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Giveaway: champagne glasses

I am very excited to announce the first giveaway on Eat Drink Pretty today. This giveaway is for a set of four champagne glasses sponsored by two websites that specialize in dining room furniture and kitchen items (www.diningroomsdirect.com and www.cookware.com/).

I had fun browsing these sites and envisioning my future kitchen with this adorable breakfast nook. My current kitchen is too tiny to have a breakfast nook but wouldn't it be a cozy little spot to sip your morning coffee while enjoying homemade blueberry muffins with a loved one?

Cookware's site has every kitchen item you could ever need. Of course, I went straight to drinkware and chose these gorgeous champagne glasses for the giveaway. What can I say? I am a sucker for the bubbly.

To enter the giveaway to win the set of four champagne glasses simply visit either www.cookware.com or www.diningroomsdirect.com and comment on this post about a product you would love to add to your kitchen or dining room collection. Make sure to include your first name in the comment!

Entries close at 11:59pm CT on Sunday, January 24th and I will announce the winner on Monday. Good luck!


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Hot fudge sundae cupcakes

I have been on Weight Watchers for a little over a week and so far things have been going well. So why the heck am I posting about hot fudge sundae cupcakes? Sorry, but I just couldn’t resist these gorgeous little treats (via Joy the Baker). I haven’t tried the recipe but I think they will be a great dessert to bring to the party my husband and I are attending next Sunday (we’re going to watch the Vikings beat the Saints!). I'll have to save enough of my WW cheat points to indulge on one of these. I plan to serve them with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

{Photo credits: Joy the Baker}

Hot Fudge Sundae Cupcakes

Vanilla Cupcakes:

from The Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook

makes 12 cupcakes

1 cup all-purpose flour
a scant 3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup whole milk
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Put the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and butter into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, or use a handheld beater and beat on slow speed until the mixture is a sandy consistency and everything is combined. Gradually pour in half of the milk and beat until the milk is just incorporated.

Whisk the egg, vanilla and remaining milk together in a separate bowl for a few seconds, then pour into the flour mixture and continue beating until just incorporated. Scrape any unmixed ingredients from the side or the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Continue mixing until the batter is smooth. Just a few minutes. Do not overmix.

Spoon the batter into paper lined muffin tins, dividing between the 12 cups. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until light golden and a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cupcakes cool slightly in the pan, then turn them out onto a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.

Chocolate Ganache:

3/4 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips (I used chocolate chunks)
1/4 cup heavy cream

Put chocolate chips in a small bowl. Bring cream to a simmer in a small heavy saucepan. Pour cream evenly over chocolate. Let stand for one minute to soften, then stir until smooth. If frosting is too loose to spread, let it sit at room temperature for 10 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, frosting will continue to thicken as it stands.

Top vanilla cupcakes with chocolate ganache, slightly sweetened whipped cream, slivered almonds and a cherry.

Serve immediately.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Bacon, onion and parsley tart

I posted the recipe for this bacon, green onion and parsley tartelette yesterday and had the time this morning to make the dish. It is incredible though a bit time-consuming (thanks to my lovely sister, Kat, for her patience). I would do a couple things differently next time but overall this tart is a great brunch entree. What I really like about it is that the filling is made with milk, instead of half and half or heavy cream. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE a rich quiche/tart made with cream and lots of cheese, but these days I am opting for the lighter side of things. It does have bacon, but only 6 slices, as well as swiss cheese. I reduced the amount called for and put in about 3/4 cup.

The recipe warns against handling the dough too much, which I think I did. The longer you handle the dough the less cold the butter is, which is key for flaky crust. Handling the dough too much can also make it tough. My crust did not turn out great, it wasn't as flaky and light as I would have liked. Next time...

I paired the tart with a spring green salad with a homemade champagne vinaigrette and a side of blueberries. The vinaigrette was absolutely perfect with the tart and was very easy, click here for the recipe. The recipe for the tart is here (adapted from Tartelette blog).

You may notice a difference in my food photos below, I am using my new Canon Rebel XSI. I just barely know how to turn it on, turn the flash off (a must with food photography I've been told) and press the shutter. I think the photos are looking better already but I have so much yet to learn.







Saturday, January 16, 2010

Weekend edition: savory tartelettes

A new favorite food blog of mine is Tartelette. Helen, the writer/creator is pretty amazing. She is a recipe developer, food stylist, food writer and food photographer. Her images are beyond beautiful and make my mouth water.

I was browsing the web this morning looking for something to make my honey and I for breakfast and I came across these savory tartelettes. Even though tartelettes are adorable, I think I will try to save myself a bit of time and use my 9-inch tart pan. I'll let you know how it turns out!

Happy Saturday!

Bacon, Onion and Parsley Tartelettes Recipe:

Makes six 3-inch tartlets or one 9-inch tart

Crust:
1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
5 tablespoons butter, cold and cut into small slices
3 to 4 tablespoons ice cold water

Mix together the flour and salt in a mixing bowl. Cut in the butter with a pastry cutter or a fork until the mixture forms pea-sized pieces. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of water over the flour mixture and toss with fork until moistened. Repeat with the remaining water, one tablespoon at a time and gather the dough into a ball with your hand. Do not handle the dough too long. Wrap into a sheet of plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes. This will allow the dough to relax and make it easier to roll, keeping it from becoming tough. Roll dough on a lightly floured surface, applying pressure from the center to the edges until it is about 12 inches in diameter. Cut out six 4 inch circles onto the dough and press them into the tartlet pans (or one 9 inch pan if making a larger tart). Refrigerate while you prepare the filling.

Filling:
6 slices bacon
4 stalks green onion, sliced, white and green parts included
1/3 cup chopped flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
3 eggs, slightly beaten
1 ½ cups milk
Pinch of salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1 cup shredded Swiss cheese

Preheat oven to 350F.

In a medium sauté pan set over medium heat, cook the bacon slices until crispy brown. Drain them on a paper towel. Crumble them and set aside. Wipe the pan of the bacon dripping with a paper towel and place it back over medium heat and cook the green onion for a couple of minutes, just to take the raw edge off. Divide the bacon, onion and parsley evenly among the tartlets and place them on a baking sheet.

In a bowl whisk together the eggs, milk, salt and pepper until combined and slowly pour the mixture over the tartlets. Divide the cheese evenly in between the tarts and bake for 20 to 30 minutes. Individual sizes bake faster than a whole pie so keep an eye on them after 20 minutes. Let cool before unmolding and serving.

These are best at room temperature with a salad and a simple vinaigrette.

{Photo and recipe credit: Tartelette}

Thursday, January 14, 2010

A lovely new blog design

I am very excited to show off my new design! Isn't it just lovely? And so, so pretty? I think it is quite perfect. Yes, I agree that there is a lot of pink, but I am a girly girl through and through. Thanks to Studio Chic Designs for taking my ideas and turning them into reality.

I am excited for many good things to come on this blog including a hosted giveaway next week and a new (nice!) camera to (hopefully) begin taking pretty food pictures. An important tip I've received with food photography it to never use a flash! I'm not sure how that will work with late dinners or restaurant meals but we'll see.

What do you think of the new design? I would love your feedback, please comment on this post!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Guest post: Rani in the kitchen part 2

This is part 2 in the series "Rani in the Kitchen" from my friend (and Indian cook extrordinaire), Amy
________________________

I hope many of you were able to obtain the spices necessary for Indian cooking. Before we get into cooking today's delicious recipe, I thought I would share a few cooking tips to make cooking Indian food a bit easier. Some of these tips come straight from an Indian auntie's kitchen and have been passed down through the generations, others are mine that I've picked up along the way.

When trying to cook from an Indian recipe (whether you've obtained it through a cookbook or the internet), double all spices EXCEPT the chiles or chile powder. When I first started cooking Indian food, I found the food bland and did not contain enough flavor as the Indian food I had eaten from friends/family or from restaurants. I realized that to make it just as flavorful, I had to double the spices. I'm pretty sure this due to the large vegetables (and larger portions) we have in the U.S., which is why you need to put more spices into the recipes.

So my first cooking tip is: double (or nearly double) all spices called for in the recipes EXCEPT the chile/chile powder spice. Don't double the chile powder unless you really like hot food - it make take some time to tell. One thing to remember: I have already accounted for doubling the spices in my recipes. So do not double spices in my recipes - only from those you may see on the internet or in cookbooks!

My second tip is regarding ginger. Many of you may not be used to buying fresh ginger and not that familiar cooking it. Ginger is grated or pulsed when used in Indian recipes. First, the brown skin of the ginger should be taken off. It is much easier to remove the skin with a spoon then a knife (and safer!). After you have removed the skin off the ginger, use the very fine setting on your cheese grater to grate the ginger into a paste. You can also use a food processor or blender, but it's often not worth dirtying those dishes for just a tablespoon of ginger. Alternatively, and the method I prefer, is that you can buy ginger paste pre-made. Unfortunately you will most likely need to go to a specialty food store (like an Indian Grocery store) in order to purchase ginger paste. I really like the Laxmi Brand of Ginger Paste.

Today's recipe, Aloo Gobi, is a classic Indian recipe that you'll see at many Indian restaurants. It is also incredibly easy and delicious. Its a great recipe for first time Indian cooks!

Aloo Gobi (Potato Cauliflower)

Ingredients

2-3 tbls vegetable oil
1 large chopped onion
1 medium-sized cauliflower, chopped into small pieces
3 medium-sized potatoes, peeled and cut into small pieces
3 tomatoes chopped or 1-2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 tbls fresh ginger
1 tbls garlic
1 tsp cumin seed
1 tbls mustard seed
2 tbls turmeric
1 tsp salt
3 teaspoons garam masala
1-2 small green chiles if you have them, otherwise small pinch of chili powder
a handful of fresh cilantro

Directions

1. Peel and chop potatoes and put into small pot of boiling water. Boil for about 8-10 minutes or until slightly soft (not mushy or cooked all the way through). Drain and set aside.
2. Peel and grate ginger. Chop Garlic. Mix together Ginger and Garlic and mustard seed in a bowl.


3. Heat vegetable oil in a LARGE saucepan. When the oil is hot add in ginger, garlic, mustard seed mix. (Be careful as this can sometimes splutter). Stir for 30 seconds to one minute.

4. Add the cumin seeds and chopped onion. Cook onion/cumin seeds on medium-high heat for 3-4 minutes or until they start to become translucent.
5. Add in turmeric, salt, and green chiles or red chile powder. Stir for about 30 seconds.
6. Add in chopped tomatoes and stir for 3-4 minutes until tomatoes are well cooked.
7. Add the chopped cauliflower and potatoes and 1/4 cup water. Stir well.
(here in this picture, I had been in a rush and added the spices a little later - you can do that, but the flavors do not come in as well)

8. Cover and allow to simmer for 20-30 minutes stirring frequenetly. Add more water if necessary to prevent food from sticking to pan.
9. When potatoes and cauliflower are soft and cooked through, add in the Garam Masala. Continue stiring frequently.
10. Sprinkle with fresh chopped cilantro and stir well.
11. Turn off the heat, cover, and let set for 10-15 minutes (or longer) before serving.

Serve with white basmati rice or Indian flat bread (naan or roti). I also serve my with a dalllop of yogurt. Enjoy!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Local edition: D'Amico Kitchen

I recently had an awesome lunch with a couple of my fave coworkers at D'Amico Kitchen. D'Amico Kitchen is the recession-chic Italian restaurant that replaced Chambers in Minneapolis.

I love the decor of this place; light, airy, feminine, classy and a bit minimalist. What drew Diane, Amelia and I in for lunch last week was the 3 items for $10 lunch special. The menu includes a choice of three of the following:

Tomato soup
Caesar salad
Mixed green salad
Beet salad
Spicy fried calamari
Mushroom risotto
1/2 suckling pig panini
1/2 grilled asiago sandwich
1/2 meatball sandwich

Our food was absolutely fantastic.



Tomato soup, 1/2 meatball sandwich and the beet salad.

Tomato soup, spicy fried calamari and grilled asiago sandwich. The soup was velvety and delicious, with a perfect tangy flavor. The calamari was arguably the best I have ever had. It included fried capers, red peppers and parsley which gave it an awesome texture.

The lighting was just right in the restaurant to take some decent photos.

A pretty chandelier above the parmesan round.

The cool bar. I'd love to sit here drinking a glass of Prosecco after work.

I would definitely recommend D'Amico Kitchen to anyone looking for a quality lunch for a really good price.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

A light/tasty/easy breakfast

I know I said I wasn't posting again until Monday but I wanted to quickly tell you about my favorite weekend, healthy breakfast. I should begin by telling you that I am back on Weight Watchers. It is my New Year's resolution to lose a few pounds (isn't this everyones?), but mostly concentrate on eating healthy. I have found that WW works for me.

So here is my favorite 4 point weekend breakfast (I say weekend breakfast because some people don't have time to make eggs in the morning on a weekday).

Sausage, egg white and cheese breakfast sandwich

Ingredients

Thomas light multi-grain english muffins (these are 1 point because they are low cal and packed with fiber)
1 Morning Star veggie sausage patty (2 points)
1/2 slice of cheddar cheese (1 point)
1 egg white (0 points)

Preparation
Toast the english muffin. Prepare the egg white however you would like (I usually pan fry mine, using non-stick cooking spray) but scrambling would work, too. Heat the veggie sausage patty in the microwave for about 35 seconds. Flip over and heat for an additional 10-20 seconds. Layer the half a slice of cheese, egg white and then sausage on the english muffin.

There you go, a tasty 4 point breakfast sandwich (obviously you can use a whole slice of cheese but that brings the point total up to 5). This breakfast sandwich is super satisfying and very sustaining until lunch (the worst part of any diet is feeling hungry). Or if you have a healthy breakfast recipe you would like to share, please send to eatdrinkpretty at gmail dot com.

Have a wonderful Sunday!

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Weekend edition: coffee time

Good morning and happy Saturday! I hope to be sipping a cappucino or espresso sometime quite soon this morning to get me going for what is definitely going to be a busy day.

I'll be taking a break from blogging until Monday morning but please check back then. Posts to come include a review of D'Amico Kitchen's new 3 for $10 lunch deal, my 30th birthday party inspiration board and the new blog design (I'm crossing my fingers that it'll be complete by then!).


{Photo credit: Pottery Barn}