for mardis gras: seafood gumbo and king cake

happy mardi gras!  for those of you who know me well, you already know i only need a smidgen of an excuse to throw a party or to make a good meal.  i love get-togethers and good food, what can i say??!  we aren't doing a mardi gras party this year, like we have in past years, but i won't let a reason for celebrating go by without at least a special dinner. i have been yearning to create the perfect gumbo.  this is a difficult dish since its so time sensitive...the roux is everything to a good gumbo and it takes time to develop the complex flavors.  another personal stipulation to my gumbo creation is to make a SEAFOOD gumbo.  this doesn't mean a little bit of shrimp with chicken and sausage.  no.  i want a gumbo that is so full of seafood that you can almost hear the ocean waves and one that, preferably, does not even have an ounce of chicken in it.  this will be a difficult undertaking, but i am excited for the challenge.   i hope you are prepared to give me advice and feedback on several seafood gumbo posts over the next year...  i plan to really get serious about this goal once jack can eat it too- he has to wait until he turns two to enjoy shellfish...poor little guy!  he's so curious what all the fuss is about!

here is my first try at creating browngoat's perfect seafood gumbo

combine 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper, 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper, 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper, 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika, 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, 1 crushed bay leaf, and 1 teaspoon salt; set aside.

in a heavy large pot, heat 3/4 cup vegetable oil over medium heat.  add 2 cups EACH of finely chopped celery, onion, and green peppers (the holy trinity) and turn heat to high.  stirring frequently, add 2 cloves minced garlic, 3 tablespoons file powder, 2 teaspoons hot pepper sauce, and the dried pepper-herb mixture you made.  cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.

add 1 1/2 cups tomato sauce, and stir as it reduces over high heat.  add 7 cups fish stock and bring to a boil.  reduce heat, and simmer for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

when ready to serve, add 2 cups shucked oysters, 1 cup crabmeat, and 1 pound small peeled and deveined shrimp.  cover, and wait 5 minutes. turn off heat, and let stand for 10 minutes.  serve over rice and with crusty french bread, but save room for a sickly sweet piece of king cake (and don't break your tooth on the plastic baby)!  a very special thanks to my mom and dad for sending us a cream cheese and fruit filled king cake from paul's pasty shop in mississippi...yummy!

it came with a sugar and icing decorating kit, so we got to decorate it ourselves...so fun!

weekly dinner menu, march 6th - march 12th

hello lovelies and happy weekend.  i hope that this post finds you happy and well on this first march saturday of 2011.   i cherish the thought that you are about to pour over this post to make your dinner meal plans for the week.  and, speaking of meal planning, several of you have asked me to incorporate a market shopping list with the menu post each week so that you can prep your refrigerators and cabinets in advance, making it easier to follow along with my menu and make the suggested recipes.  i love the idea, so i am going to give it a try!  i organized it the same way i organize my own list- starting with pantry items, then proteins, dairy, produce, and ending with grains (in fact, it's exactly the way my shopping list looks aside from my breakfast and lunch items).  i am assuming, when creating the shopping list, that you have a somewhat stocked spice rack and baking goods shelf- the basics like salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, baking soda and powder, sugar, flour (please alert me if this is not true and i can start adding spcies and baking goods until we stock it up), so i am only including the spices or baking goods that might be used more rarely.  it's a work in progress, but i am pretty happy with the way the list turned out this week...i would love to know what you think! market shopping list:

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
  • 3 tablespoons file powder
  • cinnamon sticks 
  • 1 1/2 cups tomato sauce
  • 1 can chipotle pepper in adobo sauce
  • salsa
  • nutella
  • 7 cups fish stock
  • 2 cups + 1 pint shucked oysters
  • 1 cup crabmeat
  • 1 pound small shrimp 
  • creme fraiche
  • fresh mozzarella cheese
  • sharp cheddar cheese
  • eggs
  • 8 ounces sour cream
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • butter
  • basil
  • garlic, a couple heads
  • swiss chard
  • 1 1/2 pounds potatoes
  • 2 green peppers
  • 2 onions
  • celery
  • lettuce
  • scallions
  • lime
  • 2 grapefruits
  • tuscan bread
  • flour tortillas
  • tortilla chips
  • saltine crackers
  • cornmeal
  • pasta
  • kingcake from your favorite bakery
  • lots of celebrating this week!  first, happy mardi gras to everyone!  do you guys celebrate this holiday?  every year when i was growing up, we travelled to new orleans as a family to go "parading" with our family friends...it was one of our most favorite things to do!  i climbed up on my dad's shoulders and yelled to the passing floats, "throw me something, mister!" at the top of my lungs...i came home with bags of beads, moon pies, and cheap plastic toys and stuffed animals.  now, david and i still celebrate, but typically in a much more low-key way!...usually we just stay at home and make a cajun dinner for ourselves. 

    on wednesday, my nephew is turning TWO!  two.  goodness.  happy birthday, sam!  the three of us are looking forward to eating cake with you soon!  and, a very happy birthday wish to my best friend, rebecca!  i know you will be prepping for your big fundraiser, but take at least a little break to enjoy a piece of cake and a glass of wine on your special day!

    sunday: pasta with homemade tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, and basil with a side of rainbow chard and tuscan bread

    monday: black bean soft tacos

    tuesday: seafood gumbo and king cake

    wednesday: nutella birthday cookies in honor of sam, the two year old birthday boy!

    thursday: in celebration of rebecca's birthday, i'm doing two dessert posts in a row!  this time a more "adult" desert...grapefruit poundcake

    friday: fried gulf oysters and cinnamon roasted potatoes

    saturday: birthday celebration for sam today...off of kitchen duty tonight.

    fish scampi

    happy valentine's day!  like i said earlier, we stay home on valentine's day, but that doesn't mean that we don't celebrate!  we cook something fun, something different, and we always cook it together!  this year, i decided on the main event and david is in charge of the finale, dessert.  i wonder what he will pick...??? amberjack scampi:

    coat 12 ounces of amberjack with olive oil, kosher salt and black pepper.  roast in a 400 degree oven for about 18 minutes depending upon the thickness of the fillet.
    in a saute pan add 1 tablespoom of olive oil and 2 cloves of minced garlic.  gently saute garlic, then add 6 jumbo (or 12 medium) deveined shrimp and 8 ounces (1/2 can) of chopped plum tomatoes.  saute shrimp until almost done, then remove from the pan and set aside.  add splash of white wine to stop cooking and deglaze pan.  add 2 ounces of chicken stock and 2 tablespoons of grated romano cheese.  remove 1/3 of sauce from pan and add to the shrimp.
    now add 1 cup of chopped broccolini to the pan, continue to saute.  then add 1/4 pound of cooked linguine and toss to mix.  remove from the heat.
    in another pan reheat the shrimp and sauce you set aside earlier as soon as the amberjack is ready.  add one tablespoon of butter to the scampi sauce while reheating and top sauce and shrimp over the monk fish.  serve over or next to your pasta dish.
    we are having garlic toasts and a small spinach salad on the side.  

    a visit with the goats!

    today, i get to share a funny holiday story that i have been dying to write about since there is really no need for a recipe for the grilled salmon salads on our menu tonight.  for our salads, we simply grilled a large piece of salmon, cut it into 3 pieces, and placed it then on a bed of spinach leaves with a handful of grape tomatoes.  i quickly whipped up a mustard vinaigrette to drizzle on top.  it was fast and scrumptious.  a perfectly light and healthy supper amongst the heavy winter comfort foods we have been feasting on!

    okay...onto my story!  my sweet mom read an article in early december in their very local newspaper announcing the birth of a trip of  goats and inviting people to come and meet them!  mom knew that i would be beyond excited to make the trek out into the sticks to see these wonderful babies, so my sister, mom, dad, jack, and i all piled into the car two days before christmas to go see these new goats.

    we travelled deep into the country, going down a long paved road that then turned into a dirt path, my suspicions growing by the foot.  as we neared the end of the dirt path, we spotted them!  in the side yard of someone's home was a huge pen, surrounded by an electric fence, filled with a trip of goats and 5 enormous hogs!  i pulled the car over, climbed out, and started walking toward the pen when i heard several dogs start barking and a southern male voice from down the field yell "hold on a second.  i will be right there" as he jumped onto his tractor to come our way, his 3 dogs following close behind.  mom and dad hurried back into the car, which was okay since jack was sleeping in his carseat (he had no idea that there were goats to see!), while my sister and i stood still, frightened that we might be shot down for trespassing but not wanting to hop back into the car without seeing the goats!

    as the man approached on his tractor, he asked, "can i help y'all with something?" seeming to have no idea that his goats were something worth seeing nor having any knowledge that a newspaper article was written inviting people to come out to his property!  after explaining that we were there to see the baby goats, he gave us a puzzled look, but led us over to the animal pen, warning us about the electric fence and the hog smell (it was such a strong odor of ammonia...yucky!).  when we asked if we could go inside, he questioned our sanity saying "you can go in, if you want, but i don't know why you'd want to with those shoes on!"

    jessica and i couldn't be stopped, into the pen we went.  it turns out that the man was as nice as he could be telling us all about the goat families and warning us not to get too close to the males.  i think i sort of impressed him when i told him i knew the males sprayed themselves with urine to attract the females...gross, but part of goat life, i guess.  here is some of what we saw: 

    one of the mama goats feeding her babies.

    this is betsy wearing the green collar and the bell.  she was the very first goat this family purchased.  she is the "mother" of the trip and so sweet.

    the man (whom we found out is the son of the animal owners) was so generous with his time.  he fed the goats while we were there so that we could see feeding time.  it was amazing.  as soon as he dumped the feed into that bin, all of the adults goats ran in that direction knocking into and climbing over each other to get to the food and all of the babies ran in the opposite direction to stay out of the way!

    it was a fun goat outing for jessica and i!  thank you, mom, for finding it for me!

    bourbon milkshakes

    tonight, we are using monday's slow cooked black beans to make quesadillas.  no need for a recipe...add whatever you want to.  we are using broccoli, sharp cheddar cheese, black olives, and whole wheat tortillas and serving them with creme fraiche and salsa.  enjoy the delicious and easy dinner since all the prep work was done earlier in the week. i did want to share a delicious recipe that david and i made on christmas afternoon for a tasty sweet treat.   the recipe makes 2 glasses or you could use it to do six tasting shots.  here's to hanging on to the holidays...cheers!

     

    bourbon milkshakes:

    in a blender, put 2 cups of good quality vanilla bean ice cream, 1 cup whole milk, 1/4 cup of bourbon, and 2 ice cubes and blend until smooth.  yum!

    a pensacola christmas

    we had fun in florida over christmas and we got some great pictures (it doesn't hurt to have such a cute subject!), so i thought i'd share some of my favorites with you today since we have the night off from cooking. aunt jessica dressed jack in this apron...he thought it was hysterical and we, of course, thought he was the cutest santa helper around!

     

    jack loves riding the vintage rocking horse at nonna and pops house

     

    jack and his great-mamaw admiring the christmas tree

     

    my dad got this evergreen tree when he retired (it's amazing how big it has grown!).  we discovered the beautiful reflection of the tree in the pool on christmas eve night.  i love this photo!

     

    christmas eve night, jack learning what how to unwrap presents

     

    david and jack on the slide at my favorite park, bayview park.  it was so cold that afternoon and we were not dressed for the sudden change in weather so david kept his hands warm in jack's pockets!

     

    peek-a-boo!  jack playing in the park tunnels

     

    meet toki anna, our new goddaughter!

     

    jack swinging with pops on his new wooden swing.  a wonderful christmas present that will live on the big oak tree in my parents' front yard.

     

    a rosy cheeked jack swinging and sporting his new (and adorable) black pea coat- a present from aunts jessica and lynne.

     

    enjoy your pizza dinner tonight!  oh, and prep your black beans for tomorrow's tacos by soaking 2 pounds of beans covered with cold water overnight (at least 8 hours) in a large pot.

    beer and apps and other holiday traditions

    i absolutely love traditions.  and, when it comes to traditions centered around the holidays, i'm equally enthusiastic about keeping alive the ones that david and i grew up loving as well as starting news ones for our little family.  having the pleasure of creating christmas magic for jack for the first time this year (he was only 8 weeks old last christmas...a bit too young to take in all the christmas pleasures), we thought a lot about holiday traditions that we currently keep and the ones that we would like to start- the traditions that will shape jack's christmas memories. one of the traditions that both david and i grew up with is having our santa presents all laid out in a pile, unwrapped in the living room.  we both agreed to continue this for our children since we loved it so much from our childhood (and it prevents so much paper waste!).  a tradition that originated in my home that we decided to continue is getting new pajamas on christmas eve night to wear on christmas morning (it's important to look cute and festive for those early morning photos!).  and, my family always takes a family picture on christmas eve or christmas day each year.  both my parents and i frame the photos and bring them out only during the holiday season to decorate with.  david has several childhood christmas traditions that we would like to continue: celebrating the season with "festive drink"- a kid-friendly cocktail of sprite and cranberry juice, making a christmas book box that gets unpacked each year when we decorate for the season, and "sledding" (in pensacola, this meant going down a grassy hill on a cardboard box!) on christmas eve.

    it will be a long while until jack fully participates in this tradition with us, but this year we started a new tradition of a holiday beer tasting  and appetizer dinner.  it was so much fun and tasty!  we tasted six different beers and after each blind taste, we critiqued the beer and ranked them to choose our favorite. while we were tasting, jack sat in his high chair at the table observing the merriment and playing with his toys.  so, his participation this year and for many to come was as an observer, but he seemed to have fun too!  following the beer tasting and jack's bedtime, we made appetizers to share (some of us broke the rules and made too many, so there was tons of food!).  it was super fun and exciting for us to start a new tradition, especially one that includes an activity and delicious food!

    here is what we thought of the following beers in our 2010 tasting menu:

    jolly pumpkin noel de calabazabrewed by jolly pumpkin artisan ales: a strong, dark brown beer that has a sweet wine-like flavor of fruit (plum) and smokiness.  the beer was silty and it was our least favorite beer of the tasting.

    samuel smith winter welcome ale:  a lightly colored, but hazy beer that was described as refreshing with extra hoppiness.  this beer tasted a lot like citrus juiced iced tea.  one of the tasters found it to give a strange aftertaste.  the experienced beer drinkers thought it tasted a lot like a thinner sierra nevada.

    2 below by new belgian brewing company: a light amber beer that was described as fresh, hoppy, and bright with a lemony essence.

    rogue santa's private reserve by rogue brewery: an amber-colored beer with a smooth, clean, nutty flavor that reminded some of the tasters of a sam adams brew.

    the second place beer (and our only non-holiday selection, but it was allowed in since it was local and new!)- from the pensacola bay brewery (www.pbbrew.com), rip tide : a light amber colored, sweet beer with a sweet wine smell and the essence of grape juice.  very good and we loved that it was brewed right in pensacola!

    and, our 2010 winner- samuel adams chocolate bock: a dark brown, coffee-colored beer with a smooth, sweet fruity flavor that had a caramel/butter essence.  it was delicious!

    and. let's not forget the appetizers, which were delicious!  mom and dad made three ( i told you some people didn't follow the rules!)- jalapeno stuffed olives and cherry tomatoes rolled in cream cheese and pecans, roasted oysters wrapped in bacon, and baked brie.  jessica made baked phyllo wrapped asparagus.  and, david and i made scallop and shrimp gratin.  we learned the hard way that cheap, sweet champagne is not the best choice for this dish, but the delicious pensacola seafood saved us.

    we are looking forward to all the holidays to come and all the traditions that will develop with our growing family!

    a new year = a renewed commitment to browngoat

    happy two thousand eleven!  jack got a book for his first birthday from one of our most dear friends called "big plans."  the book is a hilarious story about a little boy with a vivid imagination who is stuck in the time-out corner of his classroom.  he repeatedly shouts "I got big plans!  Big plans, I say!" despite his current condition of punishment.   i can't help but think of this story and this young boy's brashness as i launch my fourth year of browngoat. while 2010 saw some extremely adorable posts about little jack jack, i was constantly wishing that i had the time to post more often and to return to my focus on food.  so, i'm using the start of this new year as a sort of restart for my blog.  i plan to continue to share pictures and funny and sweet stories about jack (he's the love of our lives, please indulge us a bit), but i also have BIG plans to share more weekly dinner menus, food pictures, nutrition advice, and recipes.  i hope my renewed commitment will keep all of you reading and spreading my ideas by talking about and sharing my blog with other people. 

    i am focused and excited...I HAVE BIG PLANS!  BIG PLANS, i say!  so, stay tuned, please keep reading, and get excited for a year of delicious food and updates about one fun boy and his family!

    christmas on the coast, part three

    and here is the last installment of our holiday fun...we spent the last part of our florida vacation (december 30th - january 3rd) at my parent's house. below is baby jack being adored by his great-papaw.  it was really touching to see the generations meet each other and share some time together.

    our little one partied too hard on new years eve with his nonna and pops while we went out on our first date since jack was born to celebrate the new year and our FIFTH anniversary!  i love the tuxedo onesie my parents bought for jack!

    jack's first trip to the beach!  it was a freezing cold and blustery day, but i had my mind made up that jack was going to the beach during his first trip to pensacola, so here we are...all bundled up! 

    enjoying some sleepy time with mommy in front of nonna and pop's beautiful christmas tree.  david said that this is one of his favorite pictures.

    i hope you've enjoyed seeing how we spent the holidays...looking back at the photos makes me wish we could do it again!

    christmas on the coast, part two

    oh my gosh...i never dreamed it would be almost two months before i finished sharing photos and memories from our holiday in florida.  but, as stated earlier, we had too much fun not too share and since i haven't sent out any photo albums lately this is also a good way to share some semi-recent pictures! 

    we celebrated our second christmas on december 27th.  pictured above are mommy and jack waking up for "christmas morning."

    jack enjoying some snuggle time with his mia, but also very interested in the present opening going on behind him!

    baby sam (nine months) enjoying some new toys!

    rebekah reading us a sweet christmas story that made everyone tear up...

    peek-a-boo baby

    baby jack enjoying his bathtime

    a visit with our dear friends the marx family

    one more holiday post to come...PROMISE!

    happy valentine's day

    wishing you all a weekend full of love!  david and i decided not to exchange presents this year (as soon as life settles a bit, i am back on the present buying, though---i miss it!), but we are getting goodies for our kiddos.  sadie is getting a delicious looking pink heart cookie made of all things dog friendly, bought by her daddy, and jack is getting one of these.  i'm not exactly sure how i feel about a stuffed animal hanging out of his mouth, but i do think it will be helpful on our long daily commute.  at least i will be able to quickly find the pacifier while driving...in case of an emergency wailing session!  and, i think he will love the company of a furry friend in his carseat.

    have a happy love day. xxo!

    christmas on the coast, part one

    even though this is quite delayed, we had too much fun not to share more from our holidays in florida.  we had two christmases (the luck of having both families in the same city!) and then some post-christmas/new years time, so i will share in three posts since there are so many pictures! jack and i spent the first week at my parents house while david stayed in atlanta busily working on finishing his PhD experiments.  jack loved cuddling up with his cozy nonna:

    we were in florida for a long enough break this year, that we were able to  take part in some long-standing family traditions, like day long christmas cookie baking where jack met lots of new relatives and big doggies (pictured below- his "favorite" great aunt debbie (self-titled), second cousins laurin and allison, and his great granny (her first great grandchild!)) and saw santa riding through the neighborhood on a firetruck (this is how we do santa in the gulfcoast):

    christmas eve and christmas day are tradition-rich...my parents host my dad's side of the family on christmas eve starting the day with cinnamon rolls, bacon, and sausage balls and ending with a delicious dinner of  shrimp and chicken creole.  then, after a christmas morning filled with present opening, we join about 40 relatives on my mom's side of  the family to celebrate long into christmas night.

    pictured below is jack meeting his aunt lynne and great mamaw:

    jack having fun with great aunt diane and pops:

    sleeping peacefully in aunt jessica's arms after a full day of excitement:

    christmas morning kisses from pops and big sister sadie:

    another annual christmas tradition is bowling with my mom's side of the family on december 26th followed by a huge beer and gumbo party.

    stephanie with cousin brian at the bowling alley:

    baby jack being lulled to sleep by great aunt debbie in the gutter lounge!  yes, my baby fell asleep inside a bowling alley bar...classy, i know...  i think his little outfit fits the part- he looks like a "party college boy"- sweater, undershirt, and khaki cords

    more holiday pictures to come...

    back from our long holiday.

    goodbye ohs, hello tens?!! sorry for the lengthy absence.  i hope everyone's new year is off to a refreshing and fun start and that your holidays were merry and bright.  we had so much fun celebrating the holidays in florida...two and a half weeks filled with love from family and friends!  i haven't been away from my place of residence for that long since my college days...

    jack certainly changed a lot over the holiday season.  i think he weighs close to eleven pounds now!  he finally outgrew his newborn diapers and his newborn clothing, which i hesitantly packed up in a blue-for-boy bin and placed in the attic, and he is now sporting his zero to three month wardrobe and looking as cute as ever!   he is a champion nighttime sleeper- going to bed without any fuss and sleeping for pretty long stretches at a time (always waking only one time during the night to eat).  he smiles all the time!  our new favorite thing is going in to get him in the morning and be greeted by a wide-eyed and smiling jack!

    jack met so many new relatives in florida and was spoiled by all the cuddling and holding!  all the extra hands created a preference for being held most of the day, especially when tired.  i know we can't hold him forever, so i  have to admit that i treasure the moments now despite the fact that it makes it nearly impossible to do much more than read or type when i am by myself.

    in two thousand and ten, i hope to write a lot of  food posts and dish up a lot of fun baby talk!  cheers to a fun and happy new year!

    reindogs, trains, and flowers

    yesterday, we did our first festive event of the 2009 holiday season...we went to the atlanta botanical gardens for the reindog parade and holiday train display!  we had so much fun! the weather was perfect for the occasion- chilly and gray- and jack loved strolling around outside. here are a few of the dogs that entered into the parade and contest:

    there was even a cindy lou!  this family with their two dachshunds won first place.

    the dogs, below, were our favorites!  their gingerbread outfits were adorable!

    (love the tutu and leg warmers for the gingerbread woman costume!)

    and here's the train display:

    (i love train displays...they remind me of our train set that ran under our christmas tree when i was little)

    after a fun and festive holiday outing and lunch, we came home and snuggled on the couch and watched our first holiday movie of the year, the family stone, while drinking homemade eggnog lattes.  this is the most wonderful time of the year!

    (jack wearing his "santa's favorite" outfit with santa claus feet- a gift from nonna and pops)

    we are so thankful.

    wishing all of you a very happy thanksgiving!  this year, especially, we have so much to be thankful for.  i never imagined that a little boy, even when wailing in protest of being put in his crib for nap time or kicking and screaming when having his diaper and clothes changed, could make me feel so thankful, so happy, and so at peace.  we are loving our new family life and the way each day brings its ups and downs and uncertainties. we will be celebrating the holiday this year by first cheering david on in his third marathon and then spending a cozy day at home with jack's nonna and pops (my parents) eating comfort food and enjoying each other.

    hope you all have fun plans for the holiday!  enjoy and savor all the delicious eats!

    christmas in july?

    i was never one to jump at the idea of christmas in july (although,  i did want to change my birthday to july 15th instead of having to celebrate it on december 15th- in the month of one hundred family birthdays and christmas), but i couldn't resist sharing these holiday images that i have been saving for a long time... purple themed holiday from desire to inspire

    love the purple-ness of it all.  and the wall stockings?  TOO cute!

    holidays table from desire to inspire

    pretty paper and a lovely chandelier.

    i have to admit...these images make me excited for the holidays!  and, we will have a little one to share it all with this year...ahhh- just the thought of it makes my heart melt!

    happy easter weekend!

    i hope you have fun plans for the holiday weekend.  my parents are driving up as i type, so david and i are planning to have a fun-filled spring weekend with my folks going to scott antique market (the world's largest outdoor antique show!), watching the masters outside on our patio, visiting the atlanta botanical garden, introducing my parents to sam, and brunching at highland bakery among other things.  david thinks he might be getting sick and mom is not feeling so well, so let's hope they get better SOON... happy easter to everyone!

    easter mini from simple-pretty

    guess what david's working on...

    paint by numbers i gave this to david for christmas.  it's a custom paint by numbers kit created by easy123art.com from a photo i submitted.  its going to take a long while to finish since it is very detailed, but i will keep you posted on the progress.  i'm going to wait to show you the photo it was created from until the very end (just for a dramatic effect).  but i bet you can guess who the star of the painting is...i can hardly wait to see the final product!

    detail of the paint by numbersthe paints

    paint, david, paint!

    cheese and chocolate = love dinner

    we had a fondue valentine's dinner at home...it was so much fun and SO yummy!  since the large number of fondue recipes out there can be overwhelming to sift through, i thought i'd share the ones we used since they were easy AND delicious.  and, i found it difficult to choose which foods to select for dipping (so many recipes suggest the typical bread, fruit, sponge cake trio), so i wanted to share which foods we chose to eat with our fondue- we learned that the food can really make the meal. cheese fondue

    cheese fondue, recipe for 2 (with plenty leftover):

    foods for dipping- roasted brussels sprouts, kielbasa, grilled zucchini, and country french bread

    toss 1/2 pound of shredded gruyere cheese with 1 1/2 tablespoons of unbleached all-purpose flour in a large bowl.  rub the interior of your fondue pot with 1 clove of minced garlic.  place pot on the stove over medium heat and add 1 cup dry white wine.  bring to a simmer and add the cheese mixture, one handful at a time.  stir in 1/4 teaspoon of grated nutmeg.

    stir over low heat until smooth and cheese is melted and bubbling.  transfer to your table stand.  dip and enjoy!

    close-up cheese fonduesadie enjoying cheese fondue and bread

    of course, sadie loved it too!

    chocolate fondue, again recipe for 2 (with plenty leftover):

    foods for dipping- strawberries, cream cheese pound cake, and sliced apples

    gently melt together over medium heat a 1/2 pound of dark chocolate, 2 tablespoons of half and half, and 1 tablespoon grand marnier.  once melted and smooth, transfer to your table stand.  dip and enjoy!

    chocolate fondue by candlelight