Thursday, March 31, 2011

risotto alla milanese with caramelized pancetta and fennel salad


In my recent ultimate chocolate cupcake post (mmmm), I mentioned reserving the menu of my dinner party with friends for a post of its very own... and here it is! I have been waiting to make this Giada salad for quite some time, and it turned out to be a definite keeper. I mean, it has caramelized pancetta (or in this too-lazy-to-go-to-Whole Foods case, bacon); what more do you need to hear? Because the salad and the cupcakes were so rich and complex, I decided to make a simple Risotto alla Milanese (believed to be the original risotto from which all others are derived) to balance it all out. Both recipes were incredibly easy, despite looking pretty fancy. While risotto doesn't offer much to look at, trust me, it was creamy and delicious.

rainbow bright: red, pink, orange

The only color I hate more than red is orange. Blame it on growing up ginger... we hate what we can't have (or wear). Why then am I posting about said colors?  Bright, bold colors are big for Spring... and you smarty pants, you... I bet you already can guess what posts are coming in the near future. I started with these colors based on my old Science class friend ROYGBIV, but also because it was more challenging to find items I actually liked, and some I could even pull off. Coral and pink, however, I happen to really like. Enjoy your first taste of the rainbow.

1.  Steve Madden KOOOL Patent Flats, $69.95
2.  Placket Front Grandad Shirt, Topshop, $70
3.  Twist-Front Strapless Bra Top Dress, VS, $48
4.  Lengthening Rays Skirt, Anthropologie, $128
5.  Yall Come Back Ya Hear OPI Nail Polish,, $18.83
6.  Kimchi Blue Paperbag Skirt, Urban Outfitters, $49
7.  Coral Lace Pleated Skirt Dress, Topshop, $85
8.  Lips in Brighton Rock, Topshop, $16
9.  Pleated Basic Tank, Rachel Rachel Roy, $69
10. Remi+Reid Textured Tote, South Moon Under, $94
11. Audrey Brooke Amy Flat, DSW, $44.95
12. Ruffle Trimmed Woven Dress, Forever 21, $17.80
13. Slub Knit Top, Forever 21, $12.80
14. Blush in Pinch, Topshop, $12

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

ultimate chocolate cupcakes with vanilla bean cream cheese frosting

Last night, I cooked dinner for three of my friends as the first installation of our new monthly dinner parties. I had originally intended to post the menu today, however, I later decided that the dessert deserved a post all it's own. I decided to make a truly decadent cupcake, and try my hand at filling them for the first time. I started with an Ultimate Chocolate Cupcake recipe (with chocolate ganache filling), but replaced it's chocolate-overload icing with this recipe for Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese Frosting to provide a nice contrast. They turned out rich, dense and delicious... in my opinion, the best cupcakes I've made to date.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

winter's final stand

Returning to Maryland after Spring break, it seemed as though temperatures were rising, flowers were blooming, and Spring was here to stay. But alas, it turns out that Winter decided to stand it's ground for one last week (I hope) and throw us some 45 degree days. This turn of events did, however, give me an opportunity to wear the new nautical coat I sifted out of an overstuffed hole-in-the-wall store in London. The clothing was more akin to F21 than designer duds, but the fabric and details make the coat look much pricier than it's true value. Worth every pence and more.

Coat: M. Butterfly; Jeans: Daughters of the Liberation, Anthropologie, Ring: Urban Outfitters

Monday, March 28, 2011

nude and blushing

Season after season, I am happy to see that wedges are still unfailingly popular. Why? Because even the sky-high varieties can be amazingly comfortable. The last thing I want for Spring and Summer are high maintenance, "I don't want to walk that far" heels; shouldn't the warm months be laid-back, easy and breezy?  Nude and Blush toned wedges are hugely popular this year, and there's no easier way to lengthen the look of those ache-free legs. Plus, because they go with everything, you can justify a little splurge.

1.  Messeca Cecilia Wedge, Piperlime, $169
2.  Via Cardorna Wedge, Anthropologie, $198
4.  DV by Dolce Vita Toni Wedge, Piperlime, $79
6.  Bonneville Wedges, Anthropologie, $118

Sunday, March 27, 2011

shopping in london

My personal photographer (as he asked to be called, ha!) was gracious enough to take some full-outfit photos of me during our trip. I chose to post a couple photos from this day because they follow up on my wide-leg jeans post, and show why I love them so. The last time I wore this shirt it was with a black mini skirt to dress up for a night out; this time my wide-leg friends dressed it down perfectly for a day of shopping and exploring. Did I mention love?

Jeans: Anthropologie, Shirt: J.Crew, Jacket: Madewell

sausage and portobellos with sicilian pesto

Last night, I wanted to make something quick and easy so I could spend more of my night curled up on the couch with Adam relaxing. I wasn't expecting this recipe to "wow" me at all, but it actually did. The result was so savory and flavorful that I didn't even touch the salt or pepper, and me not adding salt is a pretty unheard-of event. I must say that the pasta I used was the real star of the dish:  fresh, handmade fettuccine from Whole Foods, which had a perfect hearty, almost doughy texture. I did make a few minor changes to the original recipe, noted in italics; my version is included below. I highly recommend this recipe for even the least confident cooks, any day of the week.

Sausage and Portobellos with Sicilian Pesto
4 servings

2 packages (9 ounces each) refrigerated fettuccine or linguine
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 links spicy Italian turkey sausage, casings removed
2 teaspoons bottled minced garlic
1 red bell pepper, sliced
2 Portobello mushroom caps, sliced
1 10 oz. can diced Italian tomatoes
1 container (7 oz) refrigerated pesto with basil

1. Heat olive oil over medium, add sausage and cook for 3 minutes, breaking up the sausage as you stir. Add garlic and red bell peppers, cook for 3 minutes more. Add mushrooms to the skillet and cook for 5 minutes more, stirring.
2. Add drained tomatoes and pesto. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
3. Cook the pasta according to package directions. If using fresh pasta, start cooking during step 2. If using dried pasta, start cooking during step 1, drain and keep covered to retain warmth.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

yesss, they're back!

I love wide leg jeans. I loved them the last time they came around during college, and I love them still. And now they're everywhere for Spring. I prefer wearing mine with high wedges, making my legs look a mile long, but they look great with flats too. What's even better is that wide legs work for dress pants too, so they're great for work and school as well. I've already worn these several times this early Spring, and have just added these to the mix as well. Perfection.

Friday, March 25, 2011

jordan and the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day

No one likes a whiner, and a blog should never be a venue to air one's grievances. These things I know for sure. So I will simply note that today I had one of the first truly bad days I've had in quite some time (thank you, dentistry).  Quickly moving on to a less serious little joke to top off the day: I came home to find this picture of my girl-crush Emily Schuman cutely wearing the exact shirt I debated whether or not to buy for 20 minutes in London... and ultimately put back on the rack. Sigh.


However, in the grand scheme of things, how down can you really be when your early morning breakfast was shared as sweetly as this?  Happy Friday!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

prosciutto and parmesan baguette with garlic mayo

When in London, Adam and I literally cannot get enough of two grab-and-go sandwich, soup, salad (and more) chains: Eat and Pret a Manger. While I rarely purchase a pre-made sandwich in normal life, these sandwiches are a whole different ballgame. I decided that I'd make a mental note... OK I snuck pictures with my iphone... of the sandwich menu and recreate some of them for lunches at home.  This baguette was on the top of my list, and I cannot wait to break it out for lunch tomorrow already.

Prosciutto and Parmesan Baguette with Garlic Mayo

Garlic and herb baguette
Sliced prosciutto
Shaved Parmesan cheese
Sliced Roma tomato
Mixed greens
Fresh basil leaves
Garlic mayonnaise, scaled down from this recipe

sunglass love

I am absolutely loving the new sunglasses style that I have been seeing nearly everywhere I look... well at least online, since it hasn't quite crossed into spring just yet in Baltimore. They look like a hybrid between the Wayfarer knockoffs that are getting way too old, and 50s cat-eye glasses. I am already the proud owner of this cheap pair, OK and this pair, both in black from Urban Outfitters, and they look great! I love cheap sunglasses because I break or lose them constantly, but I included a wider price range for the less clumsy and forgetful.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

beef medallions with cognac sauce

I finally got a chance to cook tonight and post my first recipe success story! Following a trip to England, where the steak is not exactly must-have material, I was really craving some red meat. The recipe I chose was Beef Medallions with Cognac Sauce, and paired it with a mixed green and herb salad with Dijon-Red Wine Vinaigrette and some simple sauteed mushrooms. The result was nothing short of fantastic. The cognac sauce had an amazing flavor and slightly creamy texture that was perfect with both the steak and mushrooms.  The homemade dressing was light, tangy and fresh. With so few ingredients (most of which I already had on hand) it was easy enough for a weeknight, but impressive enough for a special occasion.

Mixed Green Salad with Dijon-Red Wine Vinaigrette 
(makes dressing for 4 side salads)
  • 1 T. red wine vinegar
  • 3/4 t. Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 t. minced garlic
  • 3 T. extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 
  • Mixed greens 
  • Small handful of fresh herbs, such as basil used here
  • Shaved Parmesan cheese
Whisk together the first four ingredients, add salt and pepper to taste. Can be made ahead of time and chilled.
Assemble salad using pre-packaged mixed greens topped with shredded herbs, shaved Parmesan, and vinaigrette.

Sauteed Mushrooms

Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add desired amount of sliced white button or cremini mushrooms and chopped shallots in an even layer across the pan. Sprinkle with dried basil, salt and pepper to taste. Saute until mushrooms are lightly browned, flipping once during cooking.

Monday, March 21, 2011

the perfect messy ponytail

The idea behind this entire post is ridiculous:  a tutorial on how to perfectly look like you just rolled out of bed. Some girls have hair that does just look perfect messy, but it's definitely not me. I found this little how-to on one of my favorite blogs, A Cup of Jo, and loved it so much that I wanted to share. Maybe I'll magically roll out of bed with it... or rather practice it a few times at home... one day soon.

timing is not my thing

I'm not really sure why I sporadically started this site while agonizing in post-wisdom-tooth-extraction-infection-pain, in a hotel in London, while Adam slept peacefully, and right before a 7+ hour flight home to cram for an exam. Interesting choices all around. Starting Tuesday, I will have much more time to actually post something (I hope) interesting. Until then, I'm posting a few pictures that get me excited for Spring and sunshine. I took them at the American Visionary Art Museum (one of my favorite places in Baltimore) last year. Bring on the weird, quirky junk-art and blue skies.