Sin Pots

If you live in Gville, then you know what I am talking about. Sin Pots are an Augusta Road tradition found at the Augusta Grill. Rich warm chocolate cake baked on demand in a little pot (ramekin)…but not fully cooked so that the center is still gooey. Ok so my mouth is watering just thinking about these “sinful” treats. Skip the dinner and head straight for the sin pot.

I came across a recipe recently that I thought sounded very similar to these Augusta Road favorites. To celebrate my MIL’s birthday, I thought we would give it a shot. I was entranced in cooking a gourmet meal, recapping my day with C and enjoying a little Friday cocktail while pulling together the ingredients for this little dessert. In the chaos of the kitchen, I misread the recipe. I thought when I was assembling that it looked a little runny. But hey, I had never made this before and I am not really an experienced baker.

What cooked up were really delicious light fluffy sin pots. Not nearly as dense as  those I had grown to love from the Augusta Grill. But the centers were gooey, rich and delicious. We all agreed this was a keeper recipe. I went to bed thinking about the recipe…dreaming of another sin pot…and I woke up thinking about them. First thing  in the morning I ran down stairs and revisited the recipe. Bingo. I figured out the difference. I had substituted the three egg YOLKS for three egg WHITES!!! Guess I created my own little not so sinful  sin pot recipe! 

Sin Pots
51/2 ounces of really good bittersweet chocolate in small pieces
1/2 cup + 1 TBS butter
3 large eggs
3 large egg yolks (or egg whites!)
1/3 cup of sugar
5 TBS of all purpose flower

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease six small ramekins (pots). Melt butter and chocolate in a double boiler. Allow it to cool a bit. Combine eggs, egg yolks (or egg whites…for less sinful sin pots) and sugar. Beat on medium for 5 minutes. Add flour- beat until combined. Add chocolate. Fill the prepared ramekins half full. Bake 11-12 minutes. Outside edges should be set, but center should shake when ramekin is moved. Be careful NOT to over bake. You want the inside to remain gooey. Dust with confectioners sugar. Serve with strawberries on the side, ice cream or whipped cream.

Enjoy this little sinful taste of heaven!

Bali Bound

There is a pending southeast asia trip on the horizon. I have been diligently working to convince C to join me on the adventure and to take a few extra days to go somewhere really exotic. This was not in the plans for 2010 and C only follows what is planned. He is very calculated and meticulous in all that he does. Oh and thank God….because I’d be a mess without him. I am not nearly as good at planning and am NOT disciplined at all at saving. So we have this house renovation going on and he is so afraid that we will blow the budget. Every penny is counted and no extra is being spent.

Besides me….there is nothing C loves more than a tropical vaca and a beach bar with cold beer and good tunes (. So, on my quest to convince him that we need to take this little adventure, I have been doing research on where we can go and how much it will cost. Bali. Ah Bali….this seems to be my ticket to adventure. Great beaches, good snorking, a Hilton property (Conrad) and CHEAP. The hardest part of this is getting him to Asia…once there, it’s a no brainer.

So if I have learned one thing in my short 4 years of marriage…there is one way to build the case…through his stomach. C is out of town so I thought it would be a good opportunity to try my hand at cooking up a little Asian/Malaysian/Indonesian dish. I am not really sure how all of the different cuisines are categorized. They seem to run together. I spent the afternoon searching for the perfect recipe. The challenge I found was that most ingredients from the true ethnic sites couldn’t be found in Gville without serious work. But I managed to find a great menu for evening. I invited my friend T over to try it out with me. She doesn’t really cook, so I knew I couldn’t rely on her for guidance, but I knew she would keep me entertained with some good girl talk while I navigated the recipes.

I prepared a Malaysian lime-coconut mahi and coconut rice with mangoes and pistachios. YUMMY – says T! The fish was broiled with the lime coconut sauce- coconut milk, cilantro, lemon grass, fish sauce, brown sugar, lime juice, Thai chili paste, shallots and of course garlic. The sauce was sweet and spicy all al the same time, but when I make it for C I will lessen the fish sauce portion. It was a bit too strong. Quite easy to make. Just combine all of the ingredients in a food processor, pour over the fish, broil and presto- an exotic, light summer dish. The rice was outstanding. I used salt and pepper pistachios (the kind they sell at Costco). They were a perfect juxtaposition to the sweet coconut rice and mango.  To add a little color to the plate, I accompanied the fare with sliced fresh tomatoes and avocado. WOWsers. I felt like a little piece of Bali made its way to my kitchen. Oh and I almost forgot the best accutrement…a fantastic bottle of prosecco. Nothing says vaca better than a little bubbly.

Cheers to a fun night with a great friend!

Food and Wine- another great recipe

With the arrival of the new Food and Wine, I feel inspired to try out new recipes. This month’s issue has a focus on outdoor entertaining and it is filled with beautiful photos of fresh, summer produce. We visited with my mom and dad last week and dad sent us home with fresh tomatoes out of his garden. Dad has always had a garden of sorts and his harvest is always interesting. I remember the summer he grew zucchini and man was it a successful harvest…we had zucchini EVERYTHING!

Anyway- there was an interesting recipe for tomatoes that I thought would be a good side for our baked chicken this evening. The recipe called for a light french style vinaigrette with herbes of provence served with blue cheese crumbles and a garnish of fresh basil (page 93- I ommitted the bacon to save fat and calories but everything tastes better with a little bacon). Very tasty. The tomatoes were sweet and juicy and the vinaigrette paired with the blue cheese gave it a tangy sharp flair. Perfect summer dish. Thanks for the maters dad!

The cry of a baby

Baby crying. It’s 4:30 am. Am I dreaming?  What a startling first. I woke straight up and wondered what was going on. At first I thought it was a nightmare…not ready for a baby. But then I realized it was a real baby. Not my baby…but my sweet niece who is with us for two weeks!

What an interesting first. It’s also a first to come home to a screaming child. Don’t get me wrong, she is very dear…but all the screaming? It’s quite rattling at the end of a 12 hour day and I’m not even the one caring for her- feeding her, bathing her, entertaining her. Yes – my MIL is a saint.

This is definitely a good test…I am failing miserably. Not quite ready for all that comes with a baby.

Water or A.C. – too hot for anything else

I made it home from my whirlwind DC trip and girls weekend…a little tired and needing some serious rest before a big work week. It’s about a million degrees outside in Gville so any activity that does not involve either water or AC is out of the question….unless it’s a means to an end. C. decided we needed a little exercise so today we road our bikes to the pool to have lunch and relax (ok…so the distance from the house to the pool is about the equivalent of a DC block or two …don’t discredit the fact that I, AGH, road my bike to the pool). I couldn’t decide whether I should feel empowered and proud to wheel into the country club on a mountain bike or to feel a little embarrassed and unsophisticated. I decided in the end to feel proud for giving my heart a little exercise…I mean it was up hill on the way back. That counts. Not to mention the fact that we were very green in our activity!

Dinner is served

After a long day at work, I came home dreading “whipping” up something for dinner. My lucky day….my dear MIL had a fab dinner prepared for us. I think I like this in-law living. Clothes that I had in the dryer were neatly folded and placed on the stairway for us to take upstairs, dogs had been fed and walked and a gourmet dinner awaited. Can we stay forever?

I have to stay this is the first time I have ever come home from work with dinner prepared from start to finish and dishes done NOT BY ME from start to finish. This is the best new thing YET! For dinner my MOIL prepared grilled sockeye salmon with a light glaze, fresh corn and a spinach salad- and fresh fruit for dessert. Yes I think I can get used to this. The salmon was fresh from whole foods. Sockeye is red salmon or blueback salmon, and is an anadromous species of salmon found in the Northern Pacific Ocean and rivers discharging into it. It is considered endangered in some areas (hopefully not where ours came from). I’m not usually a fan of salmon but this was fresh, buttery and delish. Not “fishy” at all. She prepared it with a very light marinade that gave it just a sweet salty complement.

And as an aside….Salmon is a great food to eat 24 hours before a big event…a party, a meeting, etc. because it will give your cheeks a natural rosy glow.

Bon Appetite…and cheers to many more nights like this!

Give em somthing to talk about

I love to break the rules. Isn’t it fun to give em something to talk about! Day one at the in-laws. I head out to work-7am- cute kaki seersucker suit, fab tortoise brown heels, big chunky stone necklace. Neighbor walking dogs. I politely say good morning and hop in my car and am off to work. Later in the day, the gentleman I saw earlier in the morning approached my father in law to inquire about the “young lady” leaving his house so early in the morning. My FIL politely told him I was his daughter in law and that we would be living with them for a few months….The man looked at my FIL and quickly said, “Well that’s good. I thought you were having a menage a trois!” Seriously, I am red-faced, embarrassed just thinking about it. OK- I don’t want to think about that anymore.

So today, I figured I’d give em a little more to talk about- this time on purpose. My in-laws live across the street from the country club and the road is busy. After an afternoon at the pool, reading and visiting with my dear friend JH, it was time to take the dogs for a walk. I’d already changed clothes three times…morning walk, yoga, pool. I didn’t feel like changing again. There was only one thing to do….walk the dogs in my bathing suit!!!!!!!!! I threw on a wrap so I wouldn’t be completely obnoxious…but to set the scene for you- Blue bathing suit (no K it wasn’t a polo), bright yellow wrap, BIG blue wide brimmed hat, big fab sunglasses and flip flops. I was quite a site strolling down the country club road. I feel certain the neighbors are now really wondering what is going on at the H house! Why walk the ordinary walk when you can spice it up….these cc folks need a little spice!

To have and to hold….from this day forth.

Before you get married you hear these horrible stories about other people’s mother in laws. I’ve heard of situations where the MIL insists that you join them at the Club for Sunday lunch EVERY Sunday, the MIL who insist on having a key to YOUR house and feels free to let herself in from time to time to “fluff and puff”, the MIL who judges you for everything and the husband who thinks nothing you do is as great as his mother, and lest I not forget the MIL who insists everyone wear matching white outfits for a “family” portrait on the dunes of the beach and then sends out the embarrassing photo to 500 of her closest friends. (My apologies if any of the above is offensive to you…it’s just not my style).

So in my 20’s as I kissed a lot of toads, I had the fear of God bestowed in me that I would end up with the prince who came along with the MIL from hell. What if the MIL was a dictator or even worse…a complete pushover? What if she was stuck in the 50’s? What if she was mean and over protective? It could have made for a life of misery. I think that part of my dating process was as much about dating the right in-laws as it was dating the right guy. I needed a total package to live happily ever after….

And luckily for me, I found the perfect combo of mother and son! Last night we spent our first night living with the in laws while our house is being renovated. For many, this would be sheer drudgery. Six months with a mother in law privy to every move we make. But for me, it’s going to be a fun adventure. My mother in law is nothing like the women described above. She is totally respectful of our life and our privacy. She is always there when we need her and NOT when we don’t. What an amazing quality to have. She has graciously welcomed us and our two four legged children (one of which…dear Woo…who has no manners what so ever and does whatever he wants whenever he wants and the other has an insatiable appetite for paper- eating mail, magazines and hard cover books).

Sure-We’ll have some challenging days…like those when I don’t want to talk to anyone but she wants to know all the nitty gritty about my day and there will be days when she definitely doesn’t want to deal with me or sweet Woo. But at the end of the day…we’re family…and this situation is just temporary!

Thanks to my MIL for embarking on this awesome adventure with us!

100 Kisses for 100 days

CELEBRATE! Today we reached 100 days of new things! So to show my appreciation to C. for going along with me on this incredible journey…100 kisses! I am pretty sure I have NEVER kissed him 100 times in a row. I love him, don’t get me wrong, but that is a lot of kisses.

He certainly wondered what the heck I was up with my crazy behavior. But needless to say, he didn’t complain about this something new!

And thank you to you for being loyal readers and supporters. Keep sending your ideas to me and remember…if you like what you read…pass it on!

Will work for peanuts

If you grew up in the south, chances are you love boiled peanuts. I have been savoring the delish salty flavor of boiled peanuts my whole life. As a little girl, my brother who is 11 years older than me, would wake me up late night on saturday nights when he came home so I could watch Saturday night live with him and eat boiled peanuts. He always stopped at a convenient store on the way home and purchased a couple of cans of boiled peanuts so we could have a little snack together (keep in mind he was 17 and I was 6!).

So yesterday C. informed me that he banned dry roasted peanuts from the boat because they are too messy…really? Fish guts are ok but a few peanut shells are ok? Male logic – go figure. He did say that we could stop and get some boiled peanuts…apparently they are acceptable because they don’t make a mess???

We headed to the lake and stopped at a convenient store just before the boat landing. My lucky day…there was an old dude selling boiled peanuts in the parking lot. $4.50 for  large container. As I strolled in the store…happy as could be, I asked the peanut man- “so are your peanuts ready?” He responded, “I sure as hell hope so. Why else would I be here?” Oh dear…a grouchy old man.

All I needed was a little cash. Luckily they had an ATM. Unluckily- it was out-of-order. What’s a girl to do? Beg her husband for cash? That would seem to be the logical thing to do…but C. doesn’t ever have cash.

Next- barter with the man. I NEEDED those peanuts. So I went over to explain the situation to Mr. Peanut Man who was smoking cigarets. Allow me to set the stage- Beat up pick up- a little rusty and several shades of gray. Small trailer with a wooden contraption holding a caldron of peanuts. Man is old. Not many teeth. Old fashioned overhauls and white undershirt, chain-smoking. Then there is me. Cute black dress, big wide-brimmed boat hat, tori burch flip flops and pearl earrings.

Ok folks- not my first rodeo here. I grew up showing horses and I know about these old-fashioned country men. Surely I can barter this one out. So I approach him and begin to explain the situation. I don’t think he cares (or understands). I offer to buy him several packs of cigs in exchange for the peanuts. His response – “the cigarettes cost too much in that store.” Then- “I don’t understand how you could buy cigarettes when you don’t have any money”. oh dear…this is a hard one. So I pull out my debit card and explain that I have money but I can’t get to it because the ATM is broken. Back to square one. We stand there staring at each other a few minutes. C. has made a b-line for the car. He is not going to be part of this transaction. There is nothing in the store this man wants- doesn’t want a coke, or nabs or a hotdog…nothing.

desperate times call for desperate measures. I must have some boiled peanuts. My aha moment…I have a check. Mr. Peanut Man agrees to take a check! SUCCESS.

These boiled peanuts were so worth the $10 I paid for them (yes- I gave Mr. Peanut Man a little tip for his trouble). And for the first time in my life…I had to really barter to purchase boiled peanuts.