Friday, June 29, 2012

Gruyère, Cremini Mushroom, and Roasted Chicken Lasagna

S: Last night we had a couple of friends over for a little summer dinner party. And I did what you're never supposed to do when hosting a dinner. I gambled on UNTESTED recipes that looked delicious and amazing instead of going with a couple of kitchen standbys. YES. I am a throw-caution-to-the-wind kind of gal. And nothing went wrong! This is how you buck the system, people, one recipe at a time.

The final menu: a Gruyère, cremini mushroom, and roasted chicken lasagna; a blueberry, feta, and pecan salad with balsamic vinegar dressing; and white chocolate mousse with blackberries for dessert.

My pride and joy

The lasagna recipe is from Epi, and I made only a few adjustments. It was perfect in the way that only a creamy lasagna after a long day can be. The white chocolate mousse recipe is lifted from a Claire Robinson cookbook I got on sale at Anthropologie a few months ago called 5 Ingredient Fix: Easy, Elegant, and Irresistible Recipes. Yep, yep, and yep. It's the first recipe I've tried from it, and I won't stop, can't stop 'till I hit the last now.

We ended the night playing Facts in Five (the original category board game!) (which I found recently for ten dollars on our trip to Baltimore!) and drinking a nice rosè our friends had brought over.

The lasagna recipe with my comments in brackets is below.

Gruyère, Cremini Mushroom, and Roasted Chicken Lasagna

1 (10-ounce) package cremini or white mushrooms, thinly sliced [I used cremini.]
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1/2 cup dry white wine [A chardonnay from Whole Foods.]
1/2 roast chicken, skin discarded, meat shredded (about 2 1/4 cups)
3 1/2 cups whole milk
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons thyme leaves [I used dried thyme and only 1 teaspoon.]
3/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano [Freshly grated regular parmesan works fine too.]
12 Barilla no-boil egg lasagne noodles (less than a 9-ounce package)
1 1/2 cups coarsely grated Gruyère (3 ounces)

Preheat oven to 425° with rack in middle.
Cook mushrooms, garlic, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper in oil and 1 tablespoon butter in a 4-quart heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms are softened, about 3 minutes. Add wine and simmer briskly 2 minutes. Transfer mushroom mixture to a large bowl and stir in chicken. (Set aside saucepan.) 

Bring milk to a bare simmer in a medium saucepan. Melt remaining 4 tablespoons butter in 4-quart saucepan over medium-low heat. Add flour and cook roux, whisking constantly, 3 minutes. Add hot milk in a slow stream, whisking constantly. Add thyme, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and simmer, whisking occasionally, until thickened, 5 to 6 minutes. Remove from heat and reserve 1 cup sauce. Stir parmesan into sauce remaining in pan, then stir into mushroom filling. 

Pour half of reserved plain sauce into baking pan, spreading evenly to coat bottom. Add 3 lasagne sheets, overlapping slightly, and one third of mushroom filling, spreading evenly, then sprinkle one fourth of Gruyère over top. Repeat 2 times. Top with remaining 3 lasagne sheets and remaining plain sauce, spreading evenly. Sprinkle with remaining Gruyère. 

Cover with foil, tenting slightly to prevent foil from touching top of lasagne but sealing all around edge, and bake 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake until cheese is golden, about 15 minutes more. Let lasagne stand 10 minutes before serving. 

(Recipe reposted from Epicurious)

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Mushroom Bourguignon from Smitten Kitchen

S: Smitten Kitchen, I just can't quit you! I recently wrote a post about how I was falling in love with a new cooking blog, but apparently I am wavering. (Or maybe instead of being a blog monogamist, I am becoming polyamorous?!?!? Scandalous!)

I was craving something wintery yesterday night—yes, I know this makes sense in absolutely no way because it's June, and, you know, over 100 degrees out. What can I say that you aren't already thinking? I am a slave to my culinary desires.

And then I came across this mushroom bourguignon recipe I had saved a while back to my Recipes folder, and it just felt right, 100-degree weather be damned. So then all this happened:

For two!
Hello, egg noodles!
All for me

The full recipe is below with my notes in brackets. Enjoy! It is delicious and weather-inappropriate for this time of year. So you're welcome!

Mushroom Bourguignon from Smitten Kitchen

Serves 4

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter, softened
2 pounds portobello mushrooms, in 1/4-inch slices (save the stems for another use) (you can use cremini instead, as well) [Portobello all the way!]
1/2 carrot, finely diced
1 small yellow onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup full-bodied red wine
2 cups beef or vegetable broth (beef broth is traditional but vegetable to make it vegetarian; it works with either) [I used leftover beef broth from a recipe I did a few weeks ago, and it was divine.]
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves (1/2 teaspoon dried) [Dried for me.]
1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup pearl onions, peeled (thawed if frozen)
Egg noodles, for serving
Sour cream and chopped chives or parsley, for garnish (optional) [I opted out of all three. Because I forgot to pick them up at the grocery store...]

Heat the one tablespoon of the olive oil and one tablespoon of butter in a medium Dutch oven or heavy sauce pan over high heat. [Heavy sauce pan for the win!] Sear the mushrooms until they begin to darken, but not yet release any liquid—about three or four minutes. Remove them from pan.

Lower the flame to medium and add the second tablespoon of olive oil. Toss the carrots, onions, thyme, a few good pinches of salt and a several grinds of black pepper into the pan and cook for 10, stirring occasionally, until the onions are lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook for just one more minute.

Add the wine to the pot [And pour yourself a glass while you're at it. Isn't this what everyone does when they get to the part of any recipe involving alcohol?], scraping any stuck bits off the bottom, then turn the heat all the way up and reduce it by half. Stir in the tomato paste and the broth. Add back the mushrooms with any juices that have collected and once the liquid has boiled, reduce the temperature so it simmers for 20 minutes, or until mushrooms are very tender. Add the pearl onions and simmer for five minutes more.

Combine remaining butter and the flour with a fork until combined; stir it into the stew. Lower the heat and simmer for 10 more minutes. If the sauce is too thin, boil it down to reduce to the right consistency. Season to taste.

To serve, spoon the stew over a bowl of egg noodles, dollop with sour cream (optional) and sprinkle with chives or parsley.

(Recipe via Smitten Kitchen)

Friday, June 22, 2012

Summertime This and That

Mermaid bottle opener.

I have to make this easy apple tart soon. 

Rainbow queen.

These balloons would be great for a party.

And this wooden cooler would be rad for a picnic.

And these ombre wooden spoons would be perfect in my kitchen.

Love the design work of Jordan Metcalf.

Why are Angry Birds so angry?

Need one of these pretty reusable coffee cups.

Minesweeper postcards.

Downtown Abbey silk scarf. Yes, please!

(Image via Kelsey Garrity-Riley Illustration)

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Books of Moonrise Kingdom

S: The Royal Tenenbaums, Bottle Rocket, and Rushmore I love (in that order). I am not a huge fan of The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou or The Darjeeling Limited (no particular order for those). And I place The Fantastic Mr. Fox in a separate animation category, but I did enjoy it. But basically, overall, the point is, I adore Wes Anderson.

So I was super excited for Moonrise Kingdom, so much so that I entered to win free tickets to a screening that would allow me to see it one day before everyone else in Austin. And I won! Always exciting to get a freebie! Especially one to a Wes Anderson movie. (Thanks again, iHeartCinema!)

I try not to read reviews before movies to avoid spoilers. The worst thing I'll do is sometimes check Rotten Tomatoes for their Tomatometer percentage. But once I see a movie and fall in love with it, I like to obsessively scour the Internet for reviews, fun facts, film stills, basically anything I can get my hands on. Such is the case with Moonrise Kingdom. I LOVED it. So when I found out about the animated shorts based on the (made-up) books Suzy takes on her adventure with Sam, I swooned and fell out of my chair. (Not really.) (But if I were in a Wes Anderson film, I might have, wearing a Peter Pan collar pink dress, white knee socks, and massive amounts of turquoise eye shadow. Then a tiny, perfect kitten would mewl into my face until I regained consciousness.) (Halloween costume...)

Some of the books with their amazingly designed covers:

And the animated shorts video is on Entertainment Weekly online here or below.

(Image via Bangstyle)

Monday, June 4, 2012

Baby Shower Wish Tree and Decorations

S: The baby shower I was planning was yesterday, and pictures of all the decorations are below. Party planning and crafting facts: The kangaroo paws were purchased from Whole Foods, as was the chocolate explosion cake. I got the pram stamp, large gift tags, and blue ink from Hobby Lobby. See my earlier post here on how I put together the cupcake toppers and white centerpiece bottles. There are tons of shops on Etsy that sell Japanese washi tape if you're interested. (I bought my tape at my favorite local gift shop in Austin, Spartan on South Lamar.) You can get a banner like the one I used from Banter Banner online. (I picked up my Beauty in Little Things banner at Take Heart in east Austin.)

 Wish tree: kangaroo paws and large clear vase. Wish tree notes: extra large gift tags with stamped blue prams tied with slim aqua ribbon
 Cupcakes with toppers
 Chocolate explosion cake
 Beauty in Little Things banner
 Homemade candy favor bags (used plain white bags, pram stamp, blue ink, argyle Japanese washi tape) and wish tree tags with stamped blue prams
Main table set-up with cupcakes, white centerpiece bottles, frame, and favors

Friday, June 1, 2012

This and That

Cute pens from Madewell.

Donate to the Advanced Style film's Kickstarter.

Hitachi Seaside Park in Japan. Seussiful.

Love this photobooth for kids idea.

The Queen's Diamond Jubilee free bingo printables.

(Image by Sandra)

Star Wars Alphabet

S: This Star Wars alphabet, designed by Emma and Brandon Peat, is so cute and dorky, I don't know what to do. Here's a couple of my favorites:

(Images via Design Taxi)
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