Sunday, January 30, 2011

Easy Like Sunday Mornin'

oday is such a beautiful day. The Boyfriend made brunch and served french press coffee (his favorite), we cleaned his apartment, made an appointment at the salon, and started on a beef stew for dinner tonight. This weekend has been so relaxing so far, not a stitch of work to do and lots of time to catch up on some reading. Church tonight always gets us ready to start the week ... and life is good. Hope you enjoy your Sunday!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Vanilla Bean Caramels with Fleur de Sel

ver the weekend I decided to try my hand at making some caramels from a great recipe I found on My Baking Addiction for Vanilla Bean Caramels with Fleur de Sel. This was an easy recipe to follow, but my first attempt was a bust since I did not use a candy thermometer and went on sight alone. Not a good idea. I undercooked the caramel and they never hardened. Back into the pot they went, this time with a candy thermometer on hand, and harden they did, while still staying flexible. I cut some wax paper squares, wrapped them and sent a batch to one of my favorite families, the Monserrat's in SF. I also handed some out to co-workers and they were a hit!

P.S. You don't absolutely have to use a thermometer, but I would highly recommend it.

{Photo courtesy of My Baking Addiction}

For recipe, please click here.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

What's For Dinner Tonight? Baked Chicken Over Grilled Veggies

hicken is one of my favorite sources of protein and I'm always interested in easy, creative and yummy chicken recipes to try. This one was suggested to me by the Boyfriend's sister-in-law while we were visiting Vancouver this winter. Thanks Christine!

First, I seasoned the chicken breasts with a bit of freshly ground pepper, sea salt, and a little bit of paprika. Then, I browned them on both sides on my cast iron skillet and placed them in the oven for about 15-20 minutes at 375 degrees (flipped it at the halfway mark). Once the chicken was done, I moved them to a separate plate and placed my sliced eggplants, squash (in place of zucchini) and bell peppers into the cast iron at medium to high heat.

With a little bit of olive oil, salt and pepper, I left them alone for about 7 minutes (flipping occasionally). Once they were done, I stacked the grilled veggies and the chicken on top of each other and sprinkled some freshly grated white cheddar cheese. This dish was a hit! The Boyfriend absolutely loved it!

What's For Dinner Tonight? Steak Night!

y wonderful Boyfriend decided that Saturday night would be steak night, prepared lovingly with his hands alone. I love these nights when he puts on his imaginary chef's hat, rolls up his sleeves, and gets in his cooking groove. We were doing a little bit of shopping in soho and headed to Dean and Deluca to pick up some steaks. It's quite expensive there but we were in the mood to splurge a little and grabbed some filets.

Please excuse my photos. Per usual, the pictures were taken in the evening with not the best lighting. I can promise you, the meal was scrumptious!

First, he seasoned the pieces with freshly ground sea salt and pepper. He later sprinkled a bit of olive oil over each and browned them in the cast iron skillet. After 2 minutes in the oven on each side, he placed a dab of butter and let them rest on teacup saucers, which were flipped upside down.

And voila! Coupled with a great bottle of red wine recommended by our wine specialist, we enjoyed a wonderful meal together.

Thanks babe. Once again, you remind me of how lucky I am to have a guy like you.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Perfect Wedding Mugs

hile browsing the web I came across this great photo with the most perfect mugs for any engagement/wedding! I wish I could get a pair for later on, but I believe Hallmark is out of them. can hope, can't she?

{photo courtesy of Sweet Nothings}

Cheese of the Month

have a love of cheese and my thought on this has always been, the stinkier the better. That may not always be true, but cheese is a great passion of mine and I thought it'd be a fun idea to start a Cheese of the Month Club on this blog. My hope is to expand my knowledge on cheeses - how they are made, stored, taste, and what they pair well with. You can join me by stopping by your local cheese counter and trying the same ones as I do. Your comments are greatly appreciated and hopefully we can learn together. I'll start small with 1 cheese every 2-3 weeks for 3 months and see how it goes. Most of my info will come from various cheese sites, books, and of course my personal opinion.

To start, I've chosen the Langres from the high plans of Champagne-Ardenne, France, dating back to the 18th century. This cheese comes uncooked, unpressed, and has a dense, creamy texture. As you can see from the picture below, the skin is a bit wrinkly with a slight depression on top called the "fontaine". The French have traditionally poured champagne into the dip, which is intended to draw out its fruit and pepper flavors.

The Langres is brine washed and colored with roucou, a red coloring derived from the Annatto tree. To make the Langres, the French use a traditional method of ripening for about 5-6 weeks, keeping the cheese in a humid cellar (explains the wrinkly skin). It has a subtle but powerful scent and what I consider to be a pronounced odor. Very similar to the Epoisse, a favorite of mine, but much milder.

Pairs well with a full bodied red wine, such as Burgundy or even a Pinot Noir. And of course, champagne.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to all! I thought I'd start off my first blog entry of 2011 with the letter "A". So apropos, no? I spent my holidays back West as I usually do, this time flying only to Vancouver, driving through Seattle and then ringing in the new year in LA with the grandparents. Lots of family, tons of love, and many many reminders of just how blessed the Boyfriend and I are. Thank you family!

Speaking of the new year, I'm determined to keep my resolutions and not let them get away from me again. So far, I've been eating healthier, exercising more, and the Boyfriend and I have decided on a church to attend. We have been slacking in all those areas throughout last year and have finally committed to change.'s only been a week so we'll see.

Anyhoo, I have some crafts and cooking projects in mind for the year and am excited to get started! I really didn't do much of that last year due to my new job, but now that I've hit a groove, I'm hoping to fit more in. Oh and my sister got me a cast iron skillet for christmas....super excited to use it! Any suggestions?

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Introducing...the Jam & Tea Cheese of the Month Club!

I have had this idea floating around my head for a bit and wanted to get it to paper and announce the Jam & Tea Cheese of the Month Club! I am a cheese fanatic...I have had a love affair with cheese for quite some time now, thanks to my father who exposed me very early on to Brie and Muenster. I know, Muenster is not really gourmet, but when you're about 7 and your cheese knowledge is as wide as the "yellow stuff", Muenster is pretty earth shattering. That and I thought it was called Monster -- you can see why my interest kicked in.

So I thought I'd try this little cheese club in the hopes of expanding my knowledge about cheeses --how they are made, the regions they come from, the history, the pairings, etc. It's all just for fun but now I can actually put my cheese books to use!

The plan is to pick 2 cheeses every month and to spend that month posting about my discoveries. You can join by taking a trip to your local store and picking out the same cheese as I do, or you can just read along. I want to start with 3 months, 6 cheeses. Should be interesting. For the next club, I'm thinking butters...I have heard amazing things about French butter!

Here are two of my favorite cheeses to start:

1) Monte Veronese, Italian

I have some cheese in mind that I am eager to try and will let you know as soon as I do!