Sunday, April 24, 2011


Dan and I went up to PA to Aunt B's for Easter for what has become our Easter tradition these past four years. We only have one little one in our family (above); miss O and Aunt Peggy hid 86 eggs for her in the back yard to find! Needless to say, miss O was beyond pumped to get these eggs.

One cool thing that Aunt Peggy does though is that she puts quarters in the eggs instead of candy (since miss O gets plenty of candy in her Easter basket). It's a great little nest egg for miss O's future.

The above pic was from three years ago when I helped out at the last Bush White House Easter Egg Roll :)

One great thing about living in the country is farm eggs. I had read about eggs from hens who get to truly roam free, how their yolks are a beautiful deep gold, but I had never actually seen one for myself. The owner of the restaurant where I intern told me that there are lots of folks around here with chickens and that you can usually inquire about them from a farm stand.

I was at the health food store in Rhinebeck (I went because my friend at Bread Alone said I should check them out) and it turns out that one of the guys who works at the store, his family raises hens and his little brother is now responsible for gathering the eggs and creating the labels (see photo above).

Anyhow, they are beautiful eggs; I almost brought a dozen for Aunt B because I am just in awe of them; now I want a hen, but until then I'll keep buying "rainbow eggs" instead :P

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Wolf Mountain Vineyards

Kristen, Crystal and I went to Wolf Mountain Vineyard for Sunday brunch and bluegrass.

The food was okay, better than most buffet food, nothing to write home about but good enough that I'd be happy to go back to at least enjoy the atmosphere. We ordered blood orange mimosas to start before heading to the buffet.

We had absolutely perfect weather; it was sunny but breezy and we enjoyed our brunch on the porch listening to live bluegrass.

The "food" item I most enjoyed was actually the beautiful coffee bar; I had two cups of Joe...with whipped cream of course :)

On the Menu:

-Romaine, Spinach, Hard boiled Egg, Candied Pecans, Tomato tossed in Vidalia Onion Vinaigrette
-House made Mini Biscuits, Sausage Gravy
-Three Cheese & Pimento Mac ‘n’ Cheese
-Southern Style Creamed Corn
-Pecan Crusted Trout
-Southern Fried Chicken
-Roasted Tomato, Havarti & Mushroom Casserole
-Carving Station: Maple Glazed Ham
-Dessert: Banana Pudding Trifle, Mini Key Lime Tarts and Cheesecakes, Chocolate Covered Strawberries (dessert by far was the most disappointing; banquet food at its worst.)

We then headed downstairs for a tasting. This was much better than I had expected; we did the standard tasting verses their more pricey estate tasting, but I was not disappointed by any of the wines and in fact wished that state law allowed me to bring a few bottles home with me!

We meandered inside and out for our tasting; taking our time so as to not be tipsy for the ride home.

After we finished we decided to stroll through the vines and take in the views. If the weather was right it would make a perfect spot for an outdoor wedding.

I was trying to be sneaky and get a shot of Kristen without being caught but I was busted!

We could have spent hours lounging on the decks, listening to the bluegrass and enjoying the gentle breezes; this was the south at its best, but alas we had to return to reality and head back to the city, but it sure was a great day.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Third Wedding Anniversary

I married the man of my dreams on April 12, 2008; above is a super dorky picture of us that my sister took but it is one of my favorite non-professional photos from that day.

Dan surprised me by taking the day off from work (since it fell on a Tuesday this year). I still had to work at my internship in the morning but I was finished by 1pm. When I came home there was a beautiful bouquet of flowers and a NEW COMPUTER waiting for me.

Can you tell that I was excited...I was excited...thrilled in fact. I have been wanting a macbook for quite some time and my wonderful hubby surprised me with the perfect gift (with a little help from my in-laws...thanks guys!!) Therefore, now you can expect more frequent posts, because I no longer have any excuses!

We then went out for lunch and proceeded to take a hike over the Hudson. We had been wanting to go but just never got around to it until now.

When we returned home to get ready for dinner we took Remi out and then he threw up and wouldn't stop throwing up. Dan and I were worried about him, and at this point it was around 7pm so we too him to the emergency vet where they found that he had a bacterial infection.

They gave him fluids and antibiotics and he fell asleep in my arms on the way home. (As a note he is fine now; once the antibiotics kicked in he felt much better). Though our anniversary didn't turn out as we had planned, it was still a great day.

My parents are celebrating their 31st and my grandparents celebrate their 67th wedding anniversary this year; I'm hoping we'll at least match grandma and grandpa :)

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Woodfire Grill, Atlanta=one of my best meals ever.

My friends and I met up for the weekend in Atlanta (I spent a few days with K and then met up with the gals on Friday; returned to K on Sunday).

We decided months ago that we would go to Woodfire Grill on Saturday night; Ana made reservations and in true AB fashion we had basically a private loft to ourselves (this gal makes things happen for those who don't know her!)

We started our evening off with cocktails, of course; they are (in order of photo) the farmer's daughter, sage against the machine and the botanical garden. They were all delicious, but it seemed that the botanical garden seemed to be the favorite. According to the menu it contained square one botanical vodka. pear liqueur.lavender syrup. lemon juice. rock candy syrup

As a table, we all decided to partake in the 5-course blind tasting menu. Basically, you let your waitress know if you have any food allergies or strong aversions and then they surprise you course by course. They also have wine pairings per course if you so desire.

We started with an amuse bouche, seen below; it was a marinated golden raisin atop an almond aioli with micro greens on top (if I remember correctly; I should have written everything down...erg!)

Ana & Jenifer held my cocktail for the toast (since I cannot toast and depress the shutter at the same time, sorry, I'm not that talented yet!)

Ana is a vegetarian and Ang is preggers so I'll basically be showing two dishes per course. The Omnivore's received a salmon tartar atop potato salad; the Veg course was microplaned radish with creme fraise, micro greens and chive.

Second omni course was a diver scallop with a tomato chutney; veg was a stuffed cabbage leaf with mustard sauce (Ana said that was probably her favorite dish of the night)

Intermission we had a cold potato soup; this was probably my least favorite of the night, however, I have never been a big fan of cold soups in general. It had a nice flavor but I could only really pick up sour cream in it unfortunately.

Third course; I'm mixing it up, keeping you on your toes! Veg course was spring pea risotto--YUM--I would love to have a big bowl of this for dinner sometime! Omni course was quail and pork belly over barley (how could you go wrong here!)

Fourth course: Veg was a roasted mushroom with frisse salad and pickled yellow tomato relish. Omni was bison with pickled onion.

Last course: dessert. As a point I have been trying to make sure and order dessert at good restaurants, because if it is worth its weight, they usually have a good pastry chef. I suppose that it is also a bit of comraderie; making sure that my peeps have good jobs!

Anyhow, veg dish was a strawberry sorbet over a semifredo with strawberry and pistachio coulis; Omni was what they called chocolate bread pudding with a coffee ice cream--very rich but delicious--good job Brittany(a CIA grad...naturally!) The bread she makes for the restaurant was also phenomenal; truly, K would approve, which is saying something because she's picky!

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Flip Burger in ATL

I am just getting around to posting some photos from my escapades in Atlanta. I've decided to start from the beginning of my trip and work my way through rather that jump around.

When I arrived Wednesday afternoon Kristen took me to a local burger joint, Flip Burger. This was a fantastic idea to me because I knew that it was Richard Blais' restaurant and Wednesday was the day that Top Chef All-Stars Finale aired.

The strip mall area that the restaurant is located in is apparently a popular spot because they offer valet. Kristen and I opted out of valet, but it took us a good 10 minutes of driving around before we were able to stalk a patron to their car and get their spot; thank you Mr. BMW man!

We started off with an order of fried pickles...naturally.

Anywhere I go that has fried pickles on the menu, Dan and I order them, yum. These were delicious, some of the best I have ever had. They served them with a buttermilk sirancha sauce and I loved the fresh dill on top, perfect touch.

For my main course I ordered "the local"...well done (I'll eat my steak medium but not my burger yet; it's taken me a while to not order a steak well done). The local is organic, grass-fed beef, tomme cheese, beef bacon, lettuce, yellow tomato, red onion, coca-cola ketchup, pickled peach and pecans. It was fantastic...I ate it all...every last bit.

Kristen had the turkey burger...but she wanted it plain Jane...bun, pattie, cheese. I am a sauce girl; I love sauces and toppings, but even plain, the turkey burger had fantastic flavor.

We also split an order of french fries (everything is a-la-carte) with our burgers and after eating all of this we were both too stuffed for dessert...shocking right! I want to go back and try the captain crunch shake. Also, I noticed today when I checked the menu (to make sure that I remembered all of the toppings correctly) that they added a foie gras shake to the menu. Anyone who watched the Top Chef finale will know why!

On our way out the hostess asked if we were planning on watching the finale; we said yes and then she handed us "Team Richard" stickers and a flier for a local watching party. We had plans for the evening but we recorded the finale of course.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Monkey Bread & Monkey-ing Around

Sorry, it has been awhile since my last post. This past weekend we had great weather, so on Saturday Dan and I went to a maple syrup "farm" for an open house on how they make maple syrup.

When we returned, we decided to play with Remi off of his leash in the fields around our house. He usually has a leash on at all times outside, but since we no longer live in a big city Dan wants to start weaning Remi off the leash. For now we try and only experiment when we both are around to coral him in case he gets any harebrained ideas!

Needless to say, Remi had a blast, so there will need to be frequent repeats when the weather is fair; we are looking forward to Spring!

On Sunday night we had plans to head into the city to meet up with some of Dan's co-workers. Thus, I made a late brunch with a monkey bread ring. Now you really need 6-8 people for this thing, because it is a haus of a bread.

My love of this bread began in 2006 when my friend Elizabeth first introduced it to me. She was my co-worker at the time and would bring this bread whenever we had morning staff parties (which were fairly often because we had a large staff).

Everyone looked forward to it, and when she wasn't able to bring it because of time or whatnot folks were crestfallen to say the least. Anyhow, she never had a precise recipe for it; it was one of those recipes you know is right by the way it looks and feels just because you've made it so often.

After we went to the maple farm on Saturday, we stopped by our local library for some new reading material. I was perusing the aisle with the cookbooks and saw an old America's Test Kitchen volume with monkey bread on the cover. I subscribe to ATK so I thought it would be fun to give their version a whirl. Coincidentally, yesterday I saw a whole monkey bread making kit at Target, so clearly it is becoming rather popular.

When you taste it, you too will know why! It reminds me of cross between a doughnut hole and a cinnamon roll; it's good! Even Dan, the hard-to-please-one in our house, thought it was fantastic and proceeded to tell me every time he went to pull off another chunk from the ring "this is really good, you'll definitely need to add this to the recipe box!"

The city pictures below are what you might think, pictures of NYC; these are just from our drive in on Sunday night. I enjoy the architecture of the bridges and buildings.

Over the bridge :)

Monkey Bread Adapted from the "America's Best Lost Recipes" Cookbook

2 Tbsps unsalted butter,softened,plus 2 Tbsps melted
1 cup warm milk (110 degrees)
1/2 cup warm water (110 degrees)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 pkg rapid-rise yeast
3 1/4 cups AP flour
2 tsp salt

Brown Sugar Coating
1 cup packed LB (light brown) sugar
2 1/2 tsps ground cinnamon
8 Tbsps (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted

1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 Tbsp cream
1 Tbsp milk
1/2 tsp vanilla

For the dough: if you are making this in the north and your house is currently holding steady at 55 degrees (like our house) then you will need to preheat your oven to 200; when the oven reaches 200 turn it off (this will serve as a warm place to put your dough to rise). If you are making this in TX where it is 80 degrees right now, you may not need the oven, just put it in a warm spot...use your judgement.

1. Lightly spray a large bowl with cooking spray and butter a Bundt pan with 2 Tbsps softened butter; set both aside.

2. Mix milk, water together in a large pyrex measuring cup--heat in a microwave for a 30 seconds or so, just to take the chill off or until it registers 110F. Add melted butter (which will raise the temp a bit) sugar and yeast. Stir the flour and salt together in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Turn the mixer on low to combine flour and slowly add milk mixture. When the dough comes together increase the speed to medium and mix the dough until smooth 6-7 minutes. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead to form a smooth ball. Place the ball into the prepared bowl, roll it around a bit to coat, cover with plastic wrap and place in the warm oven or a warm spot until doubled in size 50-60 minutes.

3. Sugar Coating: While your dough rises mix the sugar and cinnamon in a shallow dish (I used a pie plate for this). Place the melted butter in a medium sized bowl (to compensate for any splashing dipping the dough might cause.)

4. Making Dough Balls: Pat dough into an 8" square and cut the dough with a bench scraper into 64 pieces. Roll each into a ball. Dunk the small dough balls into the butter then roll into the brown sugar (use a wet hand, dry hand method much like you would do for dredging fried chicken). Layer the sugared dough balls into the Bundt pan.

5. Cover the pan tightly with plastic wrap and place in the turned-off oven or a warm spot until the dough balls are puffy 50-70 minutes.

6. Remove the pan from the oven and heat to 350F. Remove plastic wrap from the pan and bake until the top is deep brown and the liquid created from the sugar begins to bubble around the edges (about 30-35 minutes). Cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then turn out on a platter and let cool briefly (about 10 minutes).

7. Glaze: While the bread is cooling, whisk the confectioners' sugar, milk, cream and vanilla together in a small bowl until smooth. Drizzle glaze over the warm bread, letting it run down the sides. Serve warm.