May 28, 2006

Triple Celebration Party

William celebrated his birthday with friends... Chris and Sam! The party was at Chris's place and the highlights of the evening included ping pong death matches and the infamous "media" room. They all expectantly turned a youthful 25 this year. . . again.


May 17, 2006

William's Birthday

William turns.... ? Here he is enjoying his favorite meal and favorite cake . We had a requested quiet night at home with the Carpenters and John Hiatt. The crazy part of the celebration will happen next week at the "Triple Threat" party. Stay tuned....

May 14, 2006

First Anniversary!


We made it one year! God has blessed us with a happy first year - we are very grateful for all of the things He has provided for us. . . especially each other. It's because of His blessings that we are able to happily celebrate and give thanks. "Unless the Lord builds this house, it's builders labor in vain" Psalm 127:1 We celebrated our first anniversary this weekend and escaped to San Antonio, TX - a short 1 1/2 hour trip from Austin. We stayed on the Riverwalk and spent our time strolling around the river and "hanging out". We also visited the Alamo and learned about the Texan and Mexican battle. It was a relaxing and peaceful weekend. We also visited Livingway church on the way back... they had an incredible gospel choir! Check out our photos in the album below.

May 06, 2006

Cooking Club

I've recently joined a fabulous cooking club...they have actually allowed me to join even though I'm a boring chic from Nebraska. Every person in this club is from a different country (except for me!). This time I hosted at my house (yes, William was temporarily released). These women are not only good cooks, but they seem to excel at teamwork and auto mechanics since they were quick to jumpstart a car- all in the rain. Check them out in action! Some of them are in the following shots. Also, some of you asked how to prepare an artichoke...this is a great link. Check it out.















Unfortunately no photographs of the food, but here are my recipes. My mom can't believe I posted her own recipe on the internet, but she forgave me and has since provided her blessing.

Here's the link to: Mom's famous spaghetti and meatballs

Fingerling Potatoes
2 lbs of Russian Banana or Fingerling potatoes, sliced into bite size pieces (these can always be found at central market/whole foods and sometimes at HEB too - they are small, dark purple potatoes)
2 (14. oz.) cans artichoke hearts, halved
1 tbl olive oil
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp pepper
cooking spray
1/2 cup (2 oz.) crumbled feta cheese

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Combine the first 6 ingredients in a large bowl, tossing well to coat. Arrange the potato mixture in a 13x9 inch baking pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 425 degrees for 40 minutes or until the potatoes are tender, stirring occassionally. Combine the potato mixture and feta cheese, and toss well. Yield 4 servings ( 2 cups each)

Rosemary Carrots

2 tbl fresh rosemary
2-3 tbl butter
1/2 cup of water
3 tbl brown sugar
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp cornstarch
1 lb baby carrots

Mix first 6 ingredients and set aside in large bowl. Place carrots and water in a saucepan; cover and cook over medium heat for 8-9 minutes or until crisp-tender. Drain. Transfer carrots to the large bowl with mixture and stir.

Eggplant Parmesan

Serves 4 (I usually double or triple) I prefer baking or grilling the eggplant rather than the traditional method of frying it to help cut down calories and fat. Choose firm fleshed, shiny eggplants for the best results. This recipe is very easy, and as long as you use quality ingredients you can’t go wrong.

2 – 3 Medium Eggplants
6 Tablespoons Coarse Salt
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 1/2 Cups Grated Mozzarella Cheese
1 1/2 Cups Grated Parmesan Cheese

For The Sauce:2 (15 Ounce) Cans Imported Chopped Italian Tomatoes
1/2 Cup Finely Chopped Onion2 Cloves Garlic, Peeled And Minced
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper
Red Pepper Flakes (Optional)
3 Tablespoons Finely Chopped Fresh Basil

Cut the eggplants lengthwise into 3/4 to 1 inch thick slices. Place a few slices in a colander and sprinkle with a little of the salt. Continue to slice the eggplants and place them in the colander with salt. Place a plate that just covers the eggplant on top, and then weight it down with a heavy can or canister. Let the eggplant drain in the sink for about 45 minutes. Pat the eggplant dry.While the eggplant is being purged of any bitterness, begin the sauce by heating the olive oil in a heavy saucepan. Add the onion and cook until soft. Add the garlic and cook an additional minute or two. Next add the tomatoes, salt pepper, and red pepper flakes. Cook over low heat until the sauce has thickened, about 30 minutes. Add the chopped basil and mix well.Turn on the broiler in the oven and place the eggplant slices flat on a lightly greased baking sheet. Lightly brush the top of the eggplants with olive oil and then broil until lightly browned. Turn the eggplant, and brown the other side. Continue in this manner until all of the eggplant slices have been browned.Preheat oven to 350 degrees. F. In a large baking pan, first spoon in a little sauce to just barely cover the bottom of the pan. Place a layer of eggplant slices side by side without touching each other. Spoon a little sauce on each slice, and then sprinkle a little of each of the grated cheeses. Choose another slice of equal size for each of the prepared eggplant slices in the pan, and cover each one with this second slice. Spoon some sauce on each of these slices, and then sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Bake the eggplant until bubbly and lightly browned, about 35 to 40 minutes.

Green Salad

1 head of romaine
1 head of leaf lettuce
1 pack of cherry tomatoes, halved
1 jar of hearts of palm, sliced
1/2 cup of basil & tomato feta cheese
3 stalks of celery, chopped
1 leek, chopped

Dressing:
Oil, Vinegar, salt, pepper, minced garlic

Mix all and serve.

Asparagus and Proscuitto

1 1/4 pounds thin asparagus spears, washed and dried - Make sure these are the LARGE asparagus - and not the thin, wimpy kind. You might need to get at Central Market or Whole Foods
1 tbl butter
Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
1/4 pound thinly sliced prosciutto di Parma, let sit out to reach room temperature
salt and pepper
bowl of ice water

For asparagus, snap off tough ends of spears where they naturally give when bent. Place spears into pot of boiling water. Cover the pan and cook asparagus for 3 or 4 minutes, until spears are just tender but remain bright green in color, about 3 to 4 minutes. Drain and immediately put spears in bowl of icecubes and water - let sit for 1-2 minutes. Pat dry. Make sure prosciutto has reached room temperature so it will be less likely to stick to each other. Lay out prosciutto and brush with olive oil and melted butter. Salt and Pepper spear - and set on prosciutto. Tightly roll. Serve on plate. This can be chilled in refrigerator.

Bread

1 1/3 cup water
2 tbl olive oil
2-3 tbl sugar
1 1/2 tsp salt
4 cups of flour
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast

Put all in bread maker (in above order). Make an indention in the flour at the top, and put yeast in the "hole" last. Select dough cycle for 2 lb loaf. After cycle is finished, take out dough and form into loaf on a oil-sprayed pan. Cover with towel and let rise for 30 minutes. Take towel off and brush 1 blended egg over top of bread. Bake for 15-20 minutes in preheated 350 oven.

Alternative: shape the dough into small rolls, instead. When finished baking, put in ziploc bag and freeze. When ready to eat, let sit out for 4 hours or defrost in microwave for instant fresh bread.

Tiramisu
This is one of William's favorites and we probably eat it too often. It is so delicious! It's actually a combination of two recipes - one from Sophia Loren and another from the Joy of Baking. Use a large 9x13 pan and layer with both recipes. Let it sit all day - or overnite for best results.

Bottom Layer:
Ingredients
Eggs 3 separated
Sugar, 5 tablespoons
Mascorpone Cheese, 6 ounces
Ladyfingers, 1 large package (approximately 36)
Dark rum, 1/2 cup
Espresso or strong coffee 1 cup
Bitter Chocolate 2 ounces, grated
Cocoa Powder, 1/2 cup, or 2 ounces grated bittersweet chocolate

Combine egg yolks and sugar in a medium-sized bowl and beat well.
In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites to stiff peaks.
In a third, larger bowl, combine the egg yolk mixture with the mascarpone, then fold in the egg whites to produce a creamy mixture.
Arrange a tight layer of ladyfingers in a 9-by-12-inch serving dish.
Using a spoon, drizzle about half the liqueur and half the espresso over the ladyfingers.
Cover the ladyfingers with the mascarpone mixture and the grated chocolate, and dust it with a little more than half the cocoa.

Top Layer:
1 package of lady fingers
Coffee Mixture:
1 cup (120 ml) very strong brewed espresso or coffee
1 tablespoon (6 grams) granulated white sugar
4 tablespoons dark rum or brandy
Whipped Cream Topping:
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 cup mascarpone
3 tablespoons (20 grams) granulated white sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Chocolate Topping:
4 ounce (30 grams) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
Cocoa Powder for Garnishing (optional)
In a small measuring cup, combine the coffee (espresso), sugar, and rum. Set aside.
Whipped Cream Topping:
In the bowl of your electric mixer, with the whisk attachment, beat the whipping cream, mascarpone, sugar, and vanilla extract until soft peaks form.

Layer the ladyfingers....drizzle the coffee mixture....add the whipped topping and top with chocolate and cocoa.

Cover and refrigerate.