lately: family

The hubs and I had the ABSOLUTE best time this past weekend; my mom and dad were in town! Not only was it her birthday weekend, but my sister found out that she matched at her top choice for her residency program :) Needless to say, lots of celebrations were in order. A fabulous dinner out on Friday and home cooking on Saturday, with lots of good cocktails and conversations, flowed the entire time. I’m so blessed to have such a wonderful family unit – here’s a glimpse into some of our tastes and adventures.

-Alicia xoxo 

IMG_5956

IMG_5954

IMG_5953

IMG_5952

IMG_5951

IMG_5950

IMG_5949

IMG_5948

IMG_5947

IMG_5945

fresh italian loaves

Homemade bread absolutely delights me. There’s something so special about the act of rolling out dough, letting it rise, and watching it bake and become beautiful in your oven. The aroma isn’t so bad, either.

IMG_5901

IMG_5897

Perhaps it also means so much to me because growing up, my mom was constantly making homemade bread. As I’ve mentioned before, we grew up with a bread maker in our kitchen, one that saw so much action, I think that we went through two or three {at least} before I up and went to college.

It was one of my first “big” purchases as an adult, for my very own kitchen. I wanted to carry on that tradition that my mom started – homemade doughs and rolls, fresh loaves so tall you have to slightly tear off the top from the machine. It definitely holds a special place in my heart, and one I can’t wait to share with my children someday. For now, the hubs and I delight in constant bread rotation.

The recipe today is one that is practically a staple in our kitchen; if there’s not one in the bread box, there’s a loaf in the freezer, yearning to be thawed and toasted for the next meal. These Italian loaves are so, so simple; a few simple ingredients come together to form a bread that is so light and airy on the inside, but perfectly golden and crisp on the outside, it’s impossible to resist…especially out of the oven. We especially love it served warm, with some herbed olive oil on the side for dipping. It makes wonderful sandwiches; can be transformed into croutons for breakfast casseroles and bread puddings or, if you’re like us…you dig right in when it’s hot out of the oven.

IMG_5902

~~~

Fresh Italian Loaves {yields two large loaves}

Perfectly simple to prepare; all ingredients process together in the bread machine. A simple roll and rise is all it takes for fresh bread to be produced from your oven in no time! I’ll note here that you can also find great success using half whole wheat flour; the results will be nuttier and a bit heartier, perfect for pairing with rich soups and stews.

Ingredients:

1-1/2 cups water

1 tsp. honey

3/4 tsp. kosher salt

3-1/2 cups bread flour

2-1/2 tsp. yeast

1 heaping tbsp. vital wheat gluten, optional

To Prepare:

Add the ingredients into your bread machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions. The dough cycle on mine lasts about an hour and fifty minutes, with the option to add additional time if I’m going to be running in and out of the house, doing errands, etc. Don’t feel the need to check on the dough as it processes! – the heat will be lost and you run the chance of compromising the integrity of the dough.

As the cycle comes to a close, prepare your baking sheet by sprinkling it with cornmeal. This results in a crisp bottom; feel free to use as much {or as little} as you’d like.

Once the dough is ready, turn out onto a floured rolling surface. Divide into two discs; place on aside. Begin with the first disc by rolling out into a rectangle, roughly 12″-14″ wide x 8″-10″deep. Starting at the long edge closest to you, “jelly roll” the rectangle; that is, roll it on top of itself {it will be like making a cinnamon roll}. Seal the edges and seam by pinching tightly with your fingers. Place directly onto the prepared baking sheet, seam side down. Repeat with the other disc.

Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let rise 50 minutes in a warm location.

About 20 minutes before the rising stage is complete, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Once the rising stage is complete, slash the top of each loaf 5 or 6 times with a sharp knife, and brush lightly with cold water. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes and then lower the temperature to 350 degrees. Bake for an additional 10-15 minutes, keeping a close watch. The bread should should hollow when tapped, and be a beautiful golden brown.

Serve with any of your favorite spreads – I love using my compound butter!

bread will keep fresh on the counter, tightly wrapped, for up to 3 days. Freeze any remaining by wrapping in foil.

st. patty’s day ideas!

Top o’ the morning, all!

With St. Patrick’s Day {and its collaborative foodie celebration} right around the corner, I thought it would be fun to share some of my favorite recipes with y’all – both from a food & cocktail perspective. Some of them gear towards traditional, while some others are a bit of a…twist…but regardless, they are are equally delicious! I’d love to know – how do you like to celebrate this holiday,  if at all?

For the Table:

Boxty

~~~

Smoky Cheese and Potato Soup

Smoky Cheese & Potato Soup

~~~

Beef, Mushroom, and Onion Tart

Beef, Onion & Mushroom Tart

~~~

Mussels in Irish Cider

~~~

Apple & Bramble Cake with Bushmill’s Custard

~~~

Irish Cream Bundt Cake

-     –     –     –     –     –     –     –     –     -

For the Bar:

How to Make an Irish Martini - Steve Brown Photography / Photolibrary / Getty Images

Irish Martini

~~~

Sweet Hospitality Group's Irish Farmhouse Cocktail - Photo Courtesy: © Sweet Hospitality Group

Irish Farmhouse

~~~

Irish Coffee

~~~

Blarney Stone

Blarney Stone

~~~

Time for a Drink: the Emerald

The Emerald

~~~

IMG_1820

Milk Punch

-     –     –     –     –     –     –     –     –     -

Slainte, everyone!

thirsty thursday: come on, spring!

…the snow is melting! 

…daylight savings time, in all its glory, has made its return.

…multiple days with comfortable temperatures are more & more common.

Y’all, spring is so close! I woke up this morning, threw on my workout gear and headed out the door. While it’s now much darker outside {I mean, I leave at 5:15am…call me crazy, I know} but I swear that it just smelled ::fresh:: outside. Maybe it’s just my senses being hypersensitive and sick of winter, but I can feel it – the dawn of spring is upon us!

Image result for springtime

I turned that thought over and over in my head all day, smiling each time I thought about the crisp air, fresh flowers, and green grass. Almost gone are the days of comforting dishes and drinks; let’s clear our bar {& table} to make way for the sweet and savory offerings that this glorious season has to offer! The hubs and I have been compiling a list of fun cocktails and spirits to test run in the next weeks; I wanted to share the list today, in honor of ‘thirsty thursday’ so that you might find inspiration as well! Please share in the comments if you try, or have tried, any of these concoctions – I’d love to hear what you think.

Cheers!

 

 

 

 

 

shepherd’s pie

St. Patrick’s Day is just around the corner, and what better way to celebrate than with a delicious and hearty meal?

Shepherd’s Pie has long been a favorite in our household; it’s easy to prepare, utilizes common ingredients most of us have on hand, and can be stretched to feed anywhere from a few people to an entire army. I love sitting down to a piping hot serving after a long day at work; the aromas are so therapeutic, and seeing the steam wafting from the bowl just brings about the most soothing feeling.

IMG_5690

IMG_5689

When I decided to make this, I decided to veer slightly from tradition, but still maintain the integrity of the dish. After all, you can only adjust a recipe so much before it takes on an entirely new face, no? So rather than go all crazy and try to tweak every little aspect, I picked the common denominators – the ground meat and the usual mashed potatoes – and decided to just play around with those.

The result? Lean ground turkey and mashed cauliflower!

IMG_5685

IMG_5686

IMG_5684

This take is full of flavor, texture, and…it just makes you feel good. In my humble opinion, that is the best kind of dinner – fresh, simple, and leaves you feeling good; maybe wanting more, or…maybe just reach for a Guinness and call it a night. Your call!

Slainte!

~~~

Shepherd’s Pie {adapted from Epicurious}

What better way to ring in the celebration of St. Patrick’s Day than with a traditional dish? Quintessential in our household, this will satisfy the pickiest of palettes. The best part? – it’s healthy and good for you!

Ingredients:

1 Tbsp. vegetable oil

1 large onion, peeled and chopped

1 large carrot, peeled and chopped

3 large cloves garlic, minced

1 lb. ground meat {I used a 93% lean ground turkey – but feel free to use ground beef, ground lamb, etc.}

1 to 1-1/2 cups tomato sauce

1 Tbsp. tomato paste

1 tsp. dried rosemary

1 Tbsp. dried parsley

1 to 1-1/2 cups frozen peas, cooked and cooled slightly

mashed cauliflower {here’s my version!}

salt and pepper, to taste

optional: grated cheese of your choice for topping 

To Prepare:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a glass baking dish {8″x 8″ or 9″x 9″} with nonstick cooking spray and set aside. Alternatively, like I did, you could use two individual baking dishes.

In a large saute pan over medium-high heat, heat the oil, then add the onion, carrot, garlic and meat. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cook until brown, 8 to 10 minutes.

Drain the fat and then add the tomato sauce, tomato paste and herbs. Simmer until thickened, about 10 minutes.

In the baking dish{es}, layer in the meat mixture, then the cooked peas, and finally top with the meat mixture. Garnish as you like with cheese.

Bake until golden brown and bubbling, 30 to 35 minutes.

garlic parmesan wings

I’ve been so, so excited to share this recipe with y’all.

IMG_5459

One look and you’re in love, am I right? At least, that was how the hubs and I felt after devouring this meal for dinner.

These are a fun twist on my wings I made awhile back – they’re certainly a staple in our household; a quick and easy dinner to throw together during the week, full of flavor, and significantly healthier that traditional wings that are deep fried {so gloriously wonderful, but so naughty at the same time}. But for this particular recipe, we’re combining the Italian staples of Parmesan cheese and garlic but jazzing it up with loads of dried herbs, and two types of tangy mustard {!}. Is your mouth watering yet?

This batch of wings pack a flavor punch like no other. I am such a huge fan of explosive flavors, and these do not disappoint. As mentioned, we get that distinctive garlicky flavor from {almost} too much garlic, nutty undertones from Parmesan cheese, and more herbal notes than your taste buds will know what to do with. Both mustard types that I used – a classic, spicy Dijon and a sweet Honey Champagne – pair perfectly together, but you can easily sub in whatever your preference is. Baked until crispy and falling of the bone, the only thing that can take these one more notch above perfection is some dipping sauce on the side.

IMG_5460

IMG_5458

~~~

Baked Garlic Parmesan Wings {adapted from Steamy Kitchen}

Ingredients:

2-1/2 lbs. chicken wings {I like to use the large ones}

1 tsp. dried oregano

1 tsp. dried rosemary

2 tsp. dried basil

1 tsp. garlic powder

1 tsp. onion powder

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for baking

1/4 cup mustard {I used a combination of Dijon and Champagne mustard}

salt & pepper, to taste

non-stick cooking spray

serving accompaniments: hot sauce, homemade blue cheese dressing, celery, carrots – whatever you like! 

To Prepare:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and spray liberally with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl combine the herbs and grated cheese. Mix in the mustard, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Toss the wings in the sauce, making sure to ensure a generous coating. Line up the wings on the prepared baking sheet, and drizzle any remaining sauce on top. Sprinkle with additional grated cheese.

Bake 45-60 minutes, or until juices run clear and internal temperature has reached 165 degrees. Serve with your favorite dipping sauces.

compound butter

Compound butter is a lost, often-forgotten about ingredient for many people today…myself included! There’s something to be said about folding a few flavors into a perfectly soft stick of unsalted butter; it is transformed radically, bursting forth with flavor, color, and life. It comes together in just a matter of minutes, requires no prep work, and only uses up one or two dishes. Simply combine your desired ingredients, roll into a log, and chill until ready! I mean, these are the recipes that we live for, no?

I’m keeping it simple today and sharing some of my favorite ways to jazz up that stick of butter; perhaps you’ll find inspiration for your next brunch, sandwich spread, or simple piece of toast. Savory combinations or sweet, it’s the perfection offering for any meal. I often find myself not really measuring the add-ins; rather, I prefer to taste as I add them in, tweaking as I go along {sometimes, a little extra butter isn’t the worst idea!}. I’d love to hear – what are your favorite combinations to use?

Compound Butter

The perfect way to elevate anything – from a simple piece of toast or fresh baguette, all the way to a beautiful tablespace for a brunch or dinner party. Embrace the beauty of this dish, and make it your own!

Ingredients:

1 stick of organic, unsalted butter…room temperature is best for mixing

mix-ins: {cinnamon and sugar} {chopped fresh rosemary} {macerated berries} {sun-dried tomatoes and basil} {sage and parmesan cheese} {lemon zest and julienned fresh mint} {dried cranberries and orange zest} {horseradish and chives}…for the herbs, I tend to start with several tablespoons. the macerated berries will be close to 1/4 cup. grated cheeses and citrus can be done to suit personal taste. 
To Prepare:
Lay a piece of parchment paper or piece of seran wrap onto the surface of your countertop. This is going to become the “vessel” for storing the compound butter.
In a large mixing bowl combine the softened butter with your desired mix-in ingredients {you can either do this by hand, or with the paddle attachment of your standing mixer} until well blended. Make sure to scrape down the sides.
Transfer the mixture into the center of your parchment paper/seran wrap, shaping into a log form with your spatula. Fold in the sides of the paper, using it to tightly pack the butter into a firm shape*. Place in the refrigerator and allow it to set before serving. Be sure to re-seal it between uses.
*alternatively, you can simply spoon the compound butter into a serving dish and use right away.