Saturday, April 30, 2011

Mad Hatters and a Head Decor Giveaway

This is the hat I picked out to wear to the royal wedding, alas, my invitation must have been lost in the mail.  Great hat though eh?  I am a closet fashionista.... closested because I like to sit in my closet amongst my pretty shoes.... no not really.  Closet because I cannot afford my own taste, and I have no occasion to wear any of it anyway as I am a: scientist, mother, tired wife and homecook, and live in Nebraska.  I did wear a lovely fascinator once when I went out to dinner with my friend and people couldn't even pretend not to stare.  Can't wait until they see the feather jobby I just purchased for the Kentucky Derby!

I have spent the week avoiding studying by trying to find a great hat to wear for the Derby, and much to my dismay we couldn't agree on anything, me and my wallet that is, but I do adore great and crazy hats.  Seeing the wedding footage only fed my addiction.  Let's look at the yes and nos for the day.

Claudia Braby

I want to like it.  It has the whispy feathers I love and little curly q things (see I'm very knowledgeable about millinery) however I think there is a Who in Whoville somewhere that may have woken up bald and confused this morning.  This is a no.

Victoria Beckham

Posh indeed.  Posh flight attendant on a space craft maybe.  I do secretly love it, but my husband said but this is a no as well.

Sophie, Countess of Wessex and Princess Anne

Princess Anne.... ahhhh No, and veto on the jacket as well.  Sophie? No.  Well maybe if we cut off the antenae... ahh still no.. hmm... yeah no, just no.

And the worse.... the worst of the worse... the dynamic duo of bad hats....

Princess Eugenie of York, and Princess Beatrice of York

Greetings Earthlings....Ladies... follow these simple instructions.  Reach into your bag.  Pull out your cell phone.  Avoid all looks from the people attending the reception with you at this very moment.  Dial your stylist.  Repeat after me... YOU ARE FIRED.  Apologize to the world at large for exposing them to these hideous creations and go kick the designers in the shin while you're at it.  BIG NO on these two.  And I hate to say it but apparently William and Harry got the looks out of the family... all I can think of when I see these two is the Ugly Stepsisters.  Although it could just be the hats are that bad.
Queen Margreth II of Denmark

Little sprial thingys I love... check... cute little woman... check... classy and yet fun... check.  Color... ehhhhh not a fan of the color but it seems popular among the royals so she's in.  One yes for the Royal team.

These three are apparently cousins of William

All three get a yes ... well the snow fairy (the blond with the pink hat and the black dress) maybe borderline now but she gets a buy because of her friends good taste.  Three yeses.

Maria Fogle

I have no idea who these people are just to let you know... but this is  a great hat and nice to see someone wearing some color.... however her husband needs to note that he should match his wife as it's easier for men, so no electric blue tie when your wife wears green, k there bud?  Another yes.... and P.S. after the wedding please send this hat to me.

Princess of Kent

I find this is perfection.  Something about it speaks to me.  It seems so put together, so regal, so age appropriate, and lovely.  Love, love, love this whole get up.

Sophie Winkleman

And love this as well.  Simple lines yet not boring.  Please see Ms. Fogle after the ceremony to save on shipping the hats together.

Another of my picks for myself

Here is another option I loved but later decided was too old for me.  And I was right... see who else loves this hat.

Camilla Duchess of Cornwall

Here she is for the wedding... but wait a minute.

Here she is in June of 2009.... and

July of 2009.... psst... Camilla.  I don't want to be rude or anything but ummmm your husband's son... you know the future King of England, is getting married today... maybe this is not the time for repeats.

Whatever... love the hat, but will remember not to order it for myself for another 30 years.

Zarra Philliips

And lastly... hmmmmm looks pretty much like the hat I picked in the begining doesn't it only no feathers.  I think I like this one better but I can assure you it is probably out of my price range whereas I can afford the top one, even if it's not practical for me to do so.

Anyone have any opinion out there about the wearing of hats and fasciantors?  Leave a comment about your opinion on whether we should bring hats back or maybe a comment about your favorite or worse hat of the day.  Winner will be selected by a random number generator on let's say.... May 14th.  That should give people enough time to comment.  Sorry I've never had a giveaway not sure of proper protocol.  One entry per person please.  You may select your choice of something like the following (unfortunately there aren't gift cards for Etsy so if these particular items sell we may have to substitute a color, but I've contacted the store owners in hopes of securing them.....

By Featherbrain

Monday, April 25, 2011

Chicken-Prosciutto Pasta

Or.... how to clean out your fridge before Easter!  This was suppose to be the pasta my husband makes which has a very light and clean flavor profile, but he was stuck at work... and he also doesn't write down recipes (he thinks it makes him indespensible... which he is but don't tell him).... he is also often late and I didn't want to feed the family at 8pm so I was left to my own devices.  It didn't taste like his and I used a different type of pasta.  It had more of a hearty, salty flavor profile but it was delicious anyway.... here we go.

Look in the fridge and pantry.  What needs to go?  Take it out.  Chop it up.  If you are me you have.  Prosciutto, chicken breast, capers, garlic, half a bottle of white white, and open carton of chicken stock, basil starting to go brown on some of the larger leaves, some grape tomatoes, and some campanelle pasta (how did that get in there?  Most certainly from a Rachael Ray recipe before I gave up hope on her.)

Boil your pasta just under al dente as it will continue to cook when you add it to your pan.  Chop up any meat you plan to use.  I floured and peppered the chicken haphazardously... meaning I sprinkled soem flour and pepper over these piles and called it close enough.  I then heated olive oil in a pan.  I browned the pancetta and removed it to a paper towel.  I then added the chicken and browned that, removed that to a dish and set aside.  I added the garlic and a shallot and about a teaspoon of capers to the pan and sauted until soft.  I then deglazed with 1/2 cup of white wine, and 1/2 cup of chicken broth.  I added the tomatoes and stewed them in the liquid.  Returned  the meat to the liquid and stirred it around  until the liquid started to thicken and become sauce-like.  I then added in the pasta, gave it a good grating of parmesan cheese over the top.  Stirred, added salt and pepper,and fresh chopped basil and let cook for about another minute to get the cheese hot.  (Note to self... baby is not ready for dairy product, thank you no sleep-weekend).  Serve it up along with the toasted sour dough bread that was just about stale but coverable under the guise of crostini.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The White Rabbit and the Dutch Baby

No I'm not cooking a white rabbit (or a baby for that matter) so you can  uncover your eyes.... I just feel like that white rabbit from Alice in Wonderland... I'm late, I'm late.... I'm late for EVERYTHING these days.  Eh... what are you going to do?  For instance this post was schedule to debut on Monday... and it's what Wednesday?  Ahh no make that Thursday.  Oops.

So what is a Dutch Baby you might ask?  It is a German pancake with a really cool name that I cannot find right now... but image something very German sounding, and it is my husbands new specialty.  Every once in a while he tries a new recipe and if we like it it will be made until he gets sick of it, then we will never see it again.  Therefore I need to learn how to make this myself because I do not want to see it go the way of the Dodo.

This type of pancake is cross really between a pancake and a souffle.  It has a cakey consistency and a rich eggy taste.  And it looks funny while it cooks, all puffy and alien-like, it deflates when it cools but don't freak when you go to reach into your oven and it looks like it is trying to pick up and run away.

He always makes fruit compote to go with it, and our son inhales as much as we'll let him.  He calls it breakfast pie.  It's just easier to tell them it's a treat isn't is?  And to be fair it is a treat.  I get this on those rare morning when he has the kids and I get to sleep in.  Usually it takes both of us to juggle the family these days.  Make this as soon as you can.  You probably have everything in your pantry or fridge already.  Enjoy.

looks like it's injured... maybe blueberry would have been better for a photo

Dutch Baby
Not sure where he got the recipe actually.... hmmmmmm
Makes 2 to 4 servings:

3 eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup milk, room temperature
1/2 cup sifted bread flour or all-purpose flour*
1/8 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
7 teaspoons butter
Freshly-squeezed lemon juice
Powdered (confectioners') sugar
Compote of your choice

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.  You CANNOT skip this step.  Place oven rack in the middle rack of your oven. Place a large, heavy ovenproof frying pan or a cast iron skillet (I like to use my 10-inch cast-iron skillet), in the oven until very hot.  Prepare your batter while the pan is heating.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs until light and frothy; add milk, flour, vanilla extract, and cinnamon; beat for 5 minutes more. The batter will be thin, but very smooth and creamy.

Using a pot holder DO NOT forget this step or you will be in a tremendous amount of pain and not fully enjoy your eggy treat, remove the hot skillet from the oven; add the butter; tilting the pan to melt the butter and coat the skillet.

Pour the prepared batter into the hot skillet, all at once, and immediately return the skillet to the oven.

Bake approximately 20 to 25 minutes or until puffed and golden brown (bake until the pancake puffs up around the edges - it may puff irregularly in the center).

 Remove from oven, flip out onto a cutting board, wipe excess butter from bottom.  Sprinkle with fresh lemon juice.  Slice like a pie, or pizza, or pizza pie whatever floats your chicken.  Top with topping of choice...always powdered sugar and fruit compote at our house (raspberry compote this week... see steaming bowl above) and serve immediately.

Monday, April 11, 2011

What I made... and a "Superior Meatloaf"

Hmmm... I was thinking that meatloaf is kinda ugly, and so I just took the photo and got it over with.  However, now I am hungry and after posting it I think it looks juuuuuuuust fine... maybe a sprig of parsley would have helped the photo?  Doesn't matter what it looks like it faaaaaaaaaaaaantastic. 

As a kid I hated meatloaf.  HATED it... hated it... hat-ed meatloaf?  How is that possible?  I love meatloaf now, and ever since my husband scored this recipe from my sister (who is married to his childhood friend... this is his mother's recipe.... long story... they introduced us it's not a coincidence) it has made it's way into rotation.  And let me tell you people.... it's good hot, it's good cold, you can freeze it, you can take it back out and heat it or put it on a sandwich.  It is truly a "Superior Meatloaf", that's what the top of the index card said.... and it is.  And it is certainly better than anything else I made this week.  I made....

Pizza.... half pepperoni and half pineapple of course... in case you don't recognize blue pineapple.

I made... the baby look funny... and myself look very tired after a seminar, then staying up all night in a hotel with two kids, then an all day seminar again.... yes that's me... I'm not really cranky and bossy.... okay I am but I don't look it right?  RIGHT?

And a big mess in the laundry room.... this is after 5 loads that are cleaned and folded and half put away.

Let's stick with the meatloaf.  Repeat after me.... thank you Lois.

Superior Meatloaf

Lois (name withheld to protect her from the mobs of people that will want this)


1 ½ lbs ground beef
1 med onion chopped
2 eggs
1 stack pack saltine crackers (1 2/3 cup)
1 ½ tsp salt
1 ½ tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 ½ tbsp horseradish
1 tsp prepared mustard
1/3 cup chopped green pepper
¾ tin seasoned tomato sauce (regular size can)
½ tsp thyme
¼ tin seasoned tomato sauce for top

Lightly combine all ingredients except thyme and ¼ tin tomato sauce. Pat gently into greased 2 quart loaf pan. Sprinkle with thyme and ½ remaining sauce. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 1 hour. Turn out loaf and top with remaining tomato sauce while still hot. Yields 8 servings. Serve hot or cold.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Baking with Kids....cake pops

This is how we dooooo it..... this is how we do it baby.... (insert bad 80s music here).... this is how we take care of cutsie things I want at a party that are ridiculously priced. 

One gourmet recipe for cake and icing

I have volunteered to do a baby shower in June.  It is for my cousin.  We were born three months apart.  Our mothers were best friends, our grandmothers were dear friends and also cousins (it's complicated, and we're from Vermont.... meet my brother Daryl, and my other brother Daryl). 

Bake very fancy cake

We were inseparable as children, we are the best of friends and the snootiest of snooty towards each other.  Mostly because we can be, even if we shouldn't be.  We know we're stuck with one another and I wouldn't have it any other way.

This is her first baby, it is a boy, I am so excited I can hardly stand it.  I had visions of her in a gorgeous maternity dress with a very trendy, modern, shower at a Winery.  It was all planned out in my head.... just me and her and 10 of her closest friends, sipping wine (not her of course), and eating passed crab cakes while reveling in the overly large dessert table laden with ridiculous amounts of chocolate (that would definitely be for her), until I got an estimate for the guest list... yawzah.... that girl has a lotta friends.  From what I was told I am guessing 50 people so my intimate swanky shower is out... however.... these were too cute not to have.  The only problem being that they run about $2 a pop if you order them... for 50 people you plan to overfeed that comes out to roughly 100 of these guys minimum (there will be other desserts too).... which ends up being $200 for one dessert option... I think not.  I'm all about throwing money at a problem but not that much money at such a small problem.  How hard could they be?  Answer.... not at all.  Especially if you're all about cheating.

Very carefully and precisely break cake into equal portions (not so much)

We're not reinventing the wheel or anything around here.  I mean these have been around so long they are almost... soooo yesterday.  They are not new... but they are new to me, and Curly Q.

Shred into little pieces, this is very easy and satisfying in an odd way

Add the labor intensive icing

Scoop and roll into balls

add sticks, resist urge to straighten sticks then pop in freezer

go out and play for at least 30 minutes

Melt candy melts in the microwave, stirring ever so often

Coat in melted candy melts making sure get near the stick to help hold it in place. Also decorate while still wet, and either buy colored candy melts or add food coloring... I didnt' like the shade it produced so I've gone out and bought colored ones to try for the next batch. I obviously can't serve them looking like this.

These were SUPER easy, and tasty.... the only change I will make is that I will use a little less icing next time.  The recommended amount is one can per box, but the cake was a little too moist, borderline too moist.  I also made a bunch without the sticks as this was just a trial run to see how much effort would go into making them and if they even tasted decent enough to serve... they do.  And I cannot believe how easy.  I am thinking of setting up a cake pop stand at the farmer's market this summer.  Maybe I can make a few thousand dollars to help pay back my student loans.... wouldn't that be just like me... tens of thousands of dollars in loans for several degrees to make a living selling boxed cake balls on the side of the road.