Sunday, November 25, 2012

Spiced Cranberry Sauce

Here's another recipe for your classic holiday dinners. This Thanksgiving was also my first time making homemade cranberry sauce. Even though I love the canned stuff, especially the jelly kind that slides out just like the shape of the can (I know, I'm weird), I think I've found something that will become a tradition in our house for the foreseeable future. 

It's that good. 

In my research for a recipe, I found many that called for just cranberries, sugar, and water. I knew that I wanted something more and when I happened upon a recipe with classic holiday spices and an orange, I knew that's what I wanted to try. It did not disappoint.

And Michael's family (who are not usually fans of cranberry sauce) all tried it and liked it very much. I'll say that's proof of how great it is. So, try it for yourself! 

Happy "Start to the Holiday Season"!

Spiced Cranberry Sauce
 (adapted from Alex Guarnaschelli on the Food Network)

Ingredients:
12 oz. bag fresh cranberries, washed and dried
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/3 cup water
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 orange, zested and juiced

Directions:
  1. In a medium pot, combine the cranberries, sugar, and water. Stir to blend. 
  2. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat. Reduce to a simmer and add the cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. Stir to blend and simmer for an additional 10 minutes. Some of the cranberries will burst and some will remain whole. 
  3. Add the orange juice and zest, and simmer for another 10 minutes. Allow to cool and serve at room temperature or refrigerate before serving.
Yields about 2 cups

Friday, November 23, 2012

Pecan (pronounced "puh-kawn") Pie

Pecan Pie. Another recipe I have had on my "to-do" list for a while. There were lots of pies to be made for Thanksgiving at the Blacks this year, and I knew this was my opportunity to finally try my hand at Pecan Pie! Thanks to Pioneer Woman who is a perfect source for a true Southern pie. The recipe was much easier than I anticipated and that even encompassed trying out a new pie crust recipe.

I can assure that it tasted as pretty (and even better) than it looks. I love the little fluted edges I made in the crust, and how pretty it looks in my new pie plate. Courtesy of my in-laws for my birthday. They gave me a Home Goods gift card and I was able to purchase my first (and heavily discounted) piece of Le Creuset. I think this is going to be the start of a very happy friendship. :)

Pecan Pie
(adapted from Pioneer Woman)

Ingredients:
1 whole unbaked pie crust (I used Pâte Brisée from Simply Recipes)
1 cup granulated sugar
3 tbs. light brown sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup light corn syrup
3/4 tsp. vanilla
1/3 cup melted butter (salted)
3 large eggs, beaten
1 cup (heaping) chopped pecans

Instructions:
  1. First, whip up your pie crust and place in pie plate.
  2. Next, mix sugar, brown sugar, salt, corn syrup, butter, eggs, and vanilla together in a bowl.
  3. Pour chopped pecans in the bottom of the unbaked pie shell.
  4. Pour syrup mixture over the top. Cover top and crust lightly/gently with foil. Bake pie at 350º for 30 minutes. Remove foil, then continue baking for 20 minutes, being careful not to burn the crust or pecans.
  5. Allow to cool for several hours or overnight. Serve in thin slivers.
NOTES:
- PIE SHOULD NOT BE OVERLY JIGGLY WHEN YOU REMOVE IT FROM THE OVEN. If it shakes a lot, cover with foil and bake for an additional 20 minute or until set. 
- Required baking time seems to vary widely with this recipe. Sometimes it takes 50 minutes; sometimes it takes 75!

Monday, November 19, 2012

La Maisonnette France Giveaway

Have you ever wanted to go to France and stay in a quaint little town and "cottage" for a week? Well, Michael and I think about it all the time and can't wait until we get the chance to do so.

Lucky, because I'm entering a giveaway to stay in La Maisonnette, owned by the fabulous blogger Stephmodo. She's giving away a week's stay to mark the 3rd anniversary since it's completion/renovation. Lots of love and work went into this beautiful place.

If you'd also like a chance at this giveaway, check out her blog post today. It's a very special opportunity. Oh, and Happy Monday to everyone! :)

Sunday, November 11, 2012

First Snow in Sandy

 What do you do when it looks like this outside? By the way, this is a picture I took this morning, looking out onto our cul-de-sac. Can you see how much it has snowed since Friday? Yeah, the snow basically has only stopped for a few hours while we slept on Saturday night. Awesome.

Anyway, back to the cozy FIRE that we (or should I say, Michael) built yesterday in one of our 3 fireplaces in this house. This wood burning stove just happens to be in the large family room that was once the garage. It was so warm and, with a cup of hot cocoa, did just the trick keeping the cold out during this first snowstorm.

 Look how cute and happy he is! Man/Michael created fire.

video
And here's a little video, full of cheesiness. We had to document the sounds of the fire too!

Thursday, November 08, 2012

THE House!!!


There you have it folks. Our little home! Don't mind the fact that his picture was taken with Michael's cell phone, so it's not that great of quality. It may not look too cute right now, but we have some big plans for it. And that's what this post is about today. I'm afraid we're still not perfectly settled in enough to share inside pictures, so I'll give you a basic run down of our plans sans any photographic illustrations. :)
  1. Windows - We're replacing them. They are the original single pane aluminum, put in the house when it was built in 1976. We just decided on the company we are going with to replace them and we're getting a killer deal. It will make such a difference for looks, sound, and insulation. Yay!
  2. Shutters - That basically goes along with the windows. We plan on building them ourselves and we know that they will automatically up the "cute" factor. 
  3. Landscaping - This is going to happen in the Spring, of course, and will make SUCH a difference on the welcoming appearance from the front of the home. Picture flower beds along the front and down the walkway, with some shrubs, annuals, and perennials. Pots on the porch also. And maybe a tree in the front yard or park strip!
  4. Front Door - This one is planned for a bit further down the road, as it's not too essential, but will be purely aesthetic. Something in a nice wood, maybe some panels on the side. Nix the "country criss-cross window panes"!
  5. Master Suite - There are 3 bedrooms upstairs and we plan on combining two of those to make a really nice master suite complete with a master bath and walk-in closet. It will be a thing of beauty.
  6. Old Garage/Family Room - As you can see from the front of the house, that large room on the left used to be the garage. The previous owners closed it in and built another 2-car garage on the side and further to the backyard of the house. Now there is a large family room in its place. It has steps that go down to basically the level of the concrete. We plan to raise the sub-floor and create one open and level living space from the kitchen to that room. Likewise, that front window is not being replaced right now, but will wait until we alter that room as we'll have to raise the height and possibly put a larger window in too. More pictures to come for illustration!
  7. Insulation - You can't see this, but we are upgrading our insulation in the attic. We need this to preserve a more comfortable temperature in the home.
  8. Finish Work - Updating with crown molding, new light fixtures, electrical outlets and covers, and paint over time.
  9. Energy Efficiency - Basically, that's the name of the game right now, with this home. We are replacing bulbs, windows, insulation, weather stripping, and doing all sorts of other things (tankless water heater included) to increase the energy efficiency of our home. We want to save money and bring it into the 21st century! It's about time!
So, what do you think? We got an amazing deal on the home, and with the market being like it is and rates as low as they are, we expect great things for our future in this home. We're so happy to finally have our own space again, to decorate, live in, and enjoy exactly how we choose. There's something to be said for getting back into your "normal" routines.

Our ward and neighborhood is great. Everyone is so happy to have us here and we have been welcomed with open arms. I love being in a nice family neighborhood with kids who just hop the fence and come into our backyard to say, "Hi". I think we are going to continue to feel happy here and know that his was truly the right choice for us at this point in our lives. We feel so incredibly blessed.