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  • What we ate this week

    I've been keeping things a little bit more casual as far as meal planning goes and just buying meat and produce that's on sale. So instead of giving you my meal plan for the week, I'll give you a run down of what we actually ate. 

    Monday: Asian inspired sloppy joe's with a cabbage slaw in a sesame lime vinagrette

    This was the only meal we had planned for the week as it was in the last issue of Real Simple, and I'm so glad I had made the sandwich filling on Sunday because coming home from work Monday was treacherous and having something ready made it much more manageble. 

    Tuesday: This was, to put it very mildly, a weird day. I'm not going to get into it because I myself have been so overwhelmed by all of the emotions and press from the week, but needless to say I was desperately in need of some comfort food. I finally ventured outside to pick up some bacon and proceeded to make my most delicious BLT to date, it included roasted tomatoes, arugala, aioli & Iggy's bread.

    Wednesday: Eggs. It wouldn't be a normal week without them. Multigrain english muffin, avocado, tomatoes, bacon & Sriracha. I feel like this could be the recipe to get Hilary on board with a runny yolk.

    Thursday: In the morning I popped in to Courthouse and grabbed some flounder. Roasted tomatoes accompanied it along with garlic shrimp. I quickly pulsed some leftover bread with olive oil, spread spicy mustard on the filets, topped them with the bread crumbs and roasted them in the oven which was already hot from the tomatoes.

    Guys, I might be taking a page out of Jennifer Aniston's lunch book and eating the same salad for approximately 10 years {I swear, she did!}. We roasted some chicken breasts Monday evening to eat in lunches and I proceeded to eat this for the majority of the week. Friday is saved for Mei Mei.

    Arugala, grape tomatoes, avocado, chicken, all tossed with Goddess dressing, duh!

  • It's Easter prep time

    Good evening! Man this weekend went by way too fast, and it's officially one week until I host Easter here at the Luonch Ranch. If anyone else out there has an upcoming dinner, below is how I like the two weeks before any event to play out.

    Two weeks ahead:
    Plan menu 
    Design any stationary that may be needed during the dinner party 

    One week ahead:
    Create a schedule (I like to make a google doc so I always have access)
    Make my shopping list, include all different necessary shops 

    Friday:
    Pick up any speciality shop items that won't spoil
    Pick out and label serving pieces with post-it's so that it's easy for someone to help you with setup
    Color Easter Eggs 

    Saturday:
    Pick up lamb
    Pick up clams as late in the day as possible
    Prep as much as possible!
    Chop veggies
    Make salad dressing, chutney & gremolata
    Make Soup
    Set the table 

    Sunday:
    Prep lamb in the morning so the herb rub can really soak in
    Reheat soup
    Cook everything and take note of how smoothly everything will run since you prepped so much!
    Arrange and dress salad immediately before serving 

    I don't want to give away our full menu, but here's a little taste. I'm really looking forward to spending the day with my family, especially Lorenzo, we might even try to get a little ice skating time in!


     

  • Porches: Take 4

    Porches: Take 4

    Every year Tony and I take a trip out to the Berkshires. We always take the same photo on a hairpin turn at the top of a mountain on the Mohawk Trail.

    One day I envision us having these all displayed down a long hallway, hopefully a puppy will make an appearence in the later years.

  • Asian mushroom soup with pork tenderloin

    You guys, it's been SO long and I'm sorry, but take this recipe as a token of my deepest apologies.

    First things first, we had the pleasure of babysitting one of my favorite pups over the weekend, he even slept over, and let me tell you, he really gets me. I spent most of the weekend talking to him like he was a person. We had a lot of fun running around in the snow, but most of the time we just napped and pondered what kinds of soup to make on this long weekend. Sunday it was a rich roasted tomato made creamy with almond milk and today I wanted something asian street food inspired.

    We started the day with some other comfort foods, corned beef hash for breakfast, topped with fried eggs, and at my request...Pinkberry for lunch. I had a Pomegranate and original twist with dark choc crisps and raspberries. I will get that exact same order as long as Pomegranate stays on the menu, I tried the grapefruit flavor, and while it was delicious, not ready to stray from my #1 favorite flavor.

     

    The pork that follows is some of the best pork I've ever made at home, juicy, flavorful and super tender. It tastes like it was meant to be in a bahn mi  sandwich tomorrow, I have a feeling some crusty rolls will find their way into my kitchen tomorrow evening. At first glance the recipe may seem long but give it a shot, it's quite simple and well worth the wait. I would say it feeds 4 comfortably, with potential for leftovers. You will run out of soup before meat so sandwiches can be on the leftovers menu. Also feel free to add in any noodles you like, follow the package directions, as each are different, or omit entirely. It has potential be a good vegetarian soup if you add in more veggies, but unfortunately I'm not sure how to get around the flavor of chicken stock, it's a pretty essential flavor for this to taste authentic.

     

     

    {Prep time: around 10-20 minutes, depending on your knife speedTotal time: between 45 minutes and an hour, about half of it is minimally hands on.}

    1 pork tenderloin (about 3 lbs), trimmed of fat

    Marinade:
    3 tablespoons soy sauce
    3 tablespoons light brown sugar
    2 tablespoon peeled and grated fresh ginger
    1 tablespoon Asian sesame oil
    3 garlic cloves, finely minced
    1/2 teaspoon crushed hot red pepper flakes

    Soup:
    2 tablespoons vegetable oil
    4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
    1 (2-inch piece) fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
    1 shallot, thinly sliced
    2 thai chilis (more or less to taste, but start small, they pack a big punch)
    2 quarts reduced-sodium chicken broth (can substitute up to 2 cups with water)
    3 tablespoons soy sauce
    2 tablespoons fish sauce, optional but only if you REALLY can't find it, please find your local asian grocer.
    1 10-ounce package of sliced cremini (shitake would work wonderfully, but I was cheap cheap) mushrooms
    4 heads of baby bok choy

    Garnish (essential!):
    1 small bunch scallions, thinly sliced
    Dark sesame oil
    Limes and cilantro to serve

    1. Mix all the marinade ingredients together and put it into a large heavy duty zip lock bag along with your pork loin. Make sure it's covered and refrigerate for 1-8 hours.

    2. Prep and chop the rest of your ingredients.

    3. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees, line a rimmed baking sheet or roasting pan with foil, then lightly oil the foil or spray with nonstick spray. Roast tenderloin on the middle rack for 15 minutes.

    4. While the meat roasts, start the soup. Add the oil to a large dutch oven or heavy bottomed pot over medium heat. Cook the garlic, ginger and shallot until softened and slightly browned, about 10 minutes. Add in your stock and bring to a simmer, then add in your mushrooms and bok choy.

    In theory your meat will be ready for a basting right about now, but no worries if you are moving at a slower pace, it will all come together just fine, just baste then go back to step 4.

    5. Brush the meat with the juices from the pan, and place back in the oven for 20-30 more minutes. Always use a meat thermometer to test doneness, the temperature should read 145 degrees. Take out the tenderloin and let it rest, allowing the juices to redestribute  for 5 minutes before slicing.

    6. Assemble a garnish platter for sharing. I like to do sliced limes for an added sour flavor, sliced green onions and cilantro. Also put out the sesame oil, it’s delicious drizzled on at the end.

    7. Slice your meat on a diagonal, mostly just for looks, and serve the soup in large bowls with the meat placed on top.

     

  • Ringing in the new year with Simplicity 2444

    Happy 2013! My first post of the year is probably the one that I'm most excited about. Back in the summer when I was finishing up wedding invitations for a friends New Year's Eve wedding I half jokingly said I wanted to sew my own dress for the event. I can rarely find a fancy dress that doesn't require costly alterations and thought it would be a fun long term goal.

    Needless to say, I'm really proud of myself for following through.

    It was by far the most challenging project I've made to date, and not because of the pattern which is in fact quite simple {Simplicity 2444-can be seen here} but because of the fabric that I decided to use.

    I bought this beautiful brocade from the Silk Road, which is sadly now closed. Every time I cut it it decided to fray into endless little trails of shimmery copper and navy. Many thanks to Virginia at Gather Here who taught me how to use a serger. Once I had all my pattern pieces cut out, I serged all the edges and it made a huge difference in terms of fraying, I was finally able to see what I was doing again.

    I made my usual adjustments to the pattern, shortened the bodice, hemmed it quite a bit more than the instructions called for and added a simple v  in the back. Otherwise this style dress is pretty much my favorite shape for my body type, I've already cut out a second version in Lizzy House violet star charts.

    We were really lazy about taking photos during the actual wedding, we were way too busy dancing and having a great time. I always enjoy being more present at events versus stuck behing a camera, but then I regret not having all the documentation. I need to find a better balance. Here are a few gems from the hotel room we shared with one of my best friends and the super fun photobooth.

    This picture is pretty much how I imagine Steph and I still looking and acting when we are little old italian ladies together, fixing makeup and probably talking about eating a snack before the reception.

     

    Details
    Dress: Self made, Shoes: Vince Camuto in light champagne, Tights:  gold sparkly fishnets by Kate Spade, belt: Nordstrom, Necklace: RTR Kate Spade, Jacket: Old Forever 21, Lipstick: My favorite Mac Ruby Woo

    Since it had been lightly snowing and I knew my hair would not ever hold a curl, I  gave myself a fancy chignon updo for the evening thanks to this video, warning: it's totally in French. 

  • Trick or Treat!

    Happy Halloween you guys. This is the first year that I fully made my costume since the days of Oaklawn Elementary School when I dressed up as Cleopatra (complete with cardboard bejeweled neck piece).

    Tony & I dressed up as Suzy & Sam this year. From the moment when we first saw them in Moonrise Kingdom I knew that was going to be my costume, I may even wear the dress I made in regular life. I sewed my dress, embroidered patches for Tony's camp shirt, added the yellow piping, made his bandana and found the rest of the stuff around the house.

    We went to a halloween party on Saturday where two of my most favorite people got engaged! Best costume party ever! So we put our costumes back on tonight, handed out some candy, and took a swing by Gather Here to check out their party. Hope everyone had a safe and less stormy evening.

     

  • A cookbook, heavy on the eggs and bacon.

    Let's say I made a cookbook, would you want to buy it? Perhaps during the upcoming holiday season?

     

    This past weekend I attended one of my oldest friends bridal showers, (one day soon I will post about some of the awesome invitations and save the dates that we made for her wedding), but I've yet to be SO excited a shower gift!

    Of course I bought them a cast iron skillet as well, it's my second favorite pan after all! But more importantly I made her a cookbook with several recipes for aforementioned skillet. Over the past few months I had been thinking about when I first started cooking for myself and how daunting a task it seemed. I started collecting recipes, remaking and documenting some of our regulars and asking a few friends about what they like to eat and make. All in all I couldn't have been more happy with the outcome. 80 pages of food that I love to eat and share that can now bring joy to a two soon to be newlyweds.

     

     

    My personal favorite sections are of course, breakfast for dinner and pantry staples. Nothing a little homemade sriracha and aioli can't fix!

     

     

    I'm in the process of reworking the intro section and cover so that it's no longer wedding themed, but it will be on sale mid November and will include a digital download just in case you stain some pages along your cooking journey.

     

     

  • Real Simple Review

    Real Simple is the only magazine I actually subscribe to, and by subscribe, I mean that "Santa" (my mom) brings me a subscription in my stocking every year. I try to cook one new recipe each week, this weeks comes from my old standby, the quick dinner section in Real Simple. You can find it here.

    I went off book a bit and they turned out wonderfully and I think probably came in a bit lower in the calorie department. We don't mess around with any sort of pre-made pizza sauces so I topped these using a can of fire roasted tomatoes. They are super delicious when you don't have time for fresh sauce and don't need added nonsense from canned pizza sauce. I still avoid cow dairy so instead of the mozzarella I just sprinkled some sheep's milk romano on the sauce before baking,

    This wasn't my first time at the rodeo in regards to eggs on pizza so I pulled from previous experience and didn't trust that the yolks wouldn't cook too much if placed directly on the pizzas. Instead I fried an egg in the cast iron skillet and placed it on each pizza once done, I definitely recommend you go this route if you like a runny yolk and/or if you will have any leftover individual pizzas since undercooked eggs aren't exactly safe to keep and eat the next day.

    I also found that they were done after 15 minutes total, rotating the cookie sheets between the two oven shelves halfway through baking time.

    Besides the colors clearly being adjusted in the magazine, these pizzas came out pretty much on par with the pictures, considering this was just on my phone. Also clearly we were super healthy and skipped the salads, but I had a big salad for lunch so that still counts.

    Overall recipe score: 10

    It fit all of our weeknight dinners requirements:
    • Quick
    • Simple prep
    • Delicious
    • Meatless for Mondays (I never know if eggs count on meatless Mondays, but it's not called vegan Monday so I assume that's okay, plus vegan Monday doesn't sound nearly as trendy and fun)

     

  • Two new favorite patterns

    Things have been awesomely busy around these parts, lots of fun design projects going on, including a lot of fun wedding stuff for friends, I'll have to photograph some printed pieces soon. But first things first.

    This is my new favorite dress pattern, as well as some of my favorite patterned fabric. I bought the remaining 3 and 1/2 yards from a discount fabric store for around $4 and at first I kept whining because it's totally synthetic (polyester of some sort) and that's a big pet peeve of mine but in the end it was pretty easy to sew with, I don't have to dry clean it, and it ALMOST looks like silk!

    Sarah over at Grey's Fabric shared this pattern with me and luckily (only for me really) our measurements are so close that the only adjustments I made were to the straps since per usual, my torso is rather short. It's just two pattern pieces and an invisible zipper, the toughest part for me was actually the hem which is far from perfect since it turned out to be a little bit on the short side.

    I'm planning to dress it up with the patent leather pumps in the photo. I actually own those Jessica Simpson pumps in three different colors, they are my favorite, none of those pesky stripper platforms and the toe is a nice almond shape. Since it's a bit on the short side I'm going to wear flats and a grey cardigan tomorrow and see if it could work for the office.

    Overall it's definitely a keeper though, start to finish it took me around 4 hours and the second time around will be even quicker.

  • Hazel dresses all around

    Sorry for the very long hiatus, I've been quite busy with the usual cooking, sewing, crafting situation. Unfortunately I have not been so busy taking photographs of everything or sitting down to write about it, I'm going to make a lame excuse and say it's my extremely hot laptops fault.

    I had the pleasure of taking a class in late June with the super talented Virginia at Gather Here, a wonderful stitch lounge here in Cambridge, we learned how to make the Colette Hazel dress. This was my third Colette pattern, I also made the Peony (which sadly no longer fits) as well as the free Sorbetto top which you've seen on the blog. This dress came together in just two sessions with minimal homework, it was really great to make a muslin, learn to adjust our patterns, and then get a truly perfect fit. I definitely messed up and made some 1/2 inch seam allowances when sewing on my own but nothing a good washing and drying couldn't solve.

    Here is my first take, I got this great striped woven blue cotton at my other favorite sewing spot, Grey's Fabric, in the South End, go visit Sarah and you might have the pleasure of meeting her adorable Greyhound pup as well. I really like the color of this dress and it's so comfy and breathable for summer, the pattern is tough to see in the photos but it has a nice chevron-ish effect on the bodice. I didn't make any changes to the pattern for this one, unlike cooking, I try to be cautious and stick to the script exactly the first time around.

     

    Can someone please tell me stop wearing hair ties on my wrist? 
     

    Second time around I was making this really bright floral version. I knew that I wanted to make a thinner strap, I felt a bit overwhelmed by the thick strap on my first Hazel, but I can see the draw, as it allows for a regular bra. I used grosgrain ribbon for the straps, and added in some teal piping along the bodice that I happened to have lying around which matched perfectly. Also I chose to line the bodice fully versus creating a facing, it really wasn't any more work and I do like how it lies flat and requires less time when ironing in the morning. Last, I decided to cut out my skirt one size smaller on my second dress, I wanted a slightly slimmer silhouette for this print and felt there was enough room in the hip on my first version that it would all work out.

     

     

    Both times I wore my favorite summer wedges (Toms, check out all those fun colors!) with my Hazels, they are the most comfortable heels I've ever owned. I highly recommend you buy a pair, I am not someone who swears by the regular Toms, I actually just gave my sister in law my pair because I don't find them comfortable, but these wedges I can totally get down with.

     

     

    I promise to not be so quiet in the next few weeks. Expect a homemade Sriracha post soon, everyone needs to make something so hot it sends them into a coughing fit as they stir.