8.20.2017

Cookbook Collection | Thursday Trials - 1770 House Meatloaf


I decided to post this recipe a little late, as today is not Thursday, but it is a special edition of my cookbook collections. Each week *I try* to make a new recipe from one of my many cookbooks, and review it here on my blog. I had been waiting months for yesterday to come, the day I met Ina Garten. East Hampton Historical Society held an exclusive event to honor Mrs. Garten for all of the help and work she puts into their town. I was lucky enough to purchase two tickets in time to be apart of the 80-100 people that came.


East Hampton is about 75 minutes east of where I live. We left around 4pm, dropped our daughter at the babysitter's house and headed on our way. When we arrived to main street, we were way earlier than expected! Actually, we were the first ones to arrive, besides the help that was setting up! At the front of the historical center, two ladies sat outside checking tickets. Since Ina was not going to be there for another 45 minutes, we went next door (at the ladies recommendation) to a restaurant called the 1770 house. The restaurant was quaint, with a very narrow and dark staircase leading us to a bar and seating downstairs.

My husband and I spoke to the bartender/waiter for a bit, where he shared the news that Ina comes to the restaurant really often, heck, she was just there three nights ago! We heard many of the staff gush over how nice of a person Ina is, which got my excitement at peak. My always hungry husband ordered the Tavern Burger ($25) which was 80/20 and a mix of different meats including kobe beef and short rib. It's not easy finding a perfect burger, but this was nothing short of amazing! Cooked precisely to medium as requested, with plenty of juices and a homemade seasoned bun (that was almost the best part)! Their homemade rosemary & sea salt bread to start was also divine.

I, on the other hand, saw the words "saffron risotto" on the menu and knew that was all mine. The side portion was 9$, and I wish I had ordered three of them to go. This risotto was executed flawlessly, not mushy but not too hard. It was creamy and flavorful, served in a small cast iron ramekin. I was in heaven, to say the least. The 1770 house restaurant & inn was spectacular and we cannot wait to visit for a full sit down dinner next time! Knowing it is one of Ina's favorite places (she told me herself) made it that more special in anticipation of the night to come!

Saffron Risotto from the 1770 House Restaurant & Inn

Right at 6pm, we hurried out of there to go back to the historical center (Clinton Academy). We walked in to the house, where there was a small showcase of the late Jackie Kennedy. My husband said, "there she is! there is Ina!" ... my heart took a nose dive into my belly. She was standing there with her tall friend that is sometimes on the show, and it was the four of us in the room. I suddenly got too nervous and scurried out into the backyard of the house, where the wine was being poured. A few minutes later while indulging in my glass of sauvignon blanc, Ina walked out into the back with her long time friend, Frank Newbold. It was incredible to me how small the space was, as it seemed like only a few of us were there. The grounds of the Clinton Academy were exceptional, with gorgeous flowers all around, a jazz band playing, and a big carousel-like tent. Being passed around were hor d'oeuvres, including filet of beef on a stick, shrimp, cauliflower bites with a pea pesto, feta and grape pastry cups, and more. The weather was a tad humid, but a breeze came through ever so often, and the sun stayed shining.

EHHS presented a unique, engraved gift to Ina. When they asked her to come up, we were next in line to say hi. She looked at Frank and us and said "do I have to?" I was surprised to see her shy, but it was comforting at the same time. She quickly came back and said, "you guys were next, I didn't forget."

Ina was dressed in her typical get up, black pants and an overly spacious black collared button up. She had a gentle smile, and greeted everyone like she knew them. It took my husband about 10 minutes of nudging me to go up to her. I introduced myself and told her I am apart of almost 100,000 people from an Ina fan club Facebook group. Exclaiming how much love our group has for her, she was pleasantly surprised and happy to hear about it. My husband asked Ina if he ate on the north fork (where we live) and she said "of course!" We continued to talk about a few things, including the meal we just had next door, snapped a picture and happily walked to another area in disbelief that I just met my favorite chef. Kevin pulled Ina's cookbook from my bag reminding me that I forgot to ask her to sign it! How could i?! To the back of the line we went (about 12 people), and I told her I was so nervous that I forgot to have her sign my book, and she obliged with no second thoughts. "To Kim, xxxIna." This was my second cookbook to have her sign, although I didn't get to meet her face to face the first time.
In this photo, we were sharing a laugh about my comment "you should see page 158, it is the messiest page in the cookbook because I make your penne all vecchia all too often" Frank continued to say what a compliment dirty cookbook pages are!


The rest of the evening was lovely, and to hear and see how happy she made everyone was so pleasing. She is a kind and gracious woman, and it was an honor to experience this event!

**

Because of our impressive dining experience at 1770 house, the recipe I chose for this weeks trial was Ina Garten's 1770 House Meatloaf. This is out of the very book she signed, Foolproof.

FOOLPROOF
Ina Garten
Page 130-132
1770 House Meatloaf


After having this meal, it's almost unfair that the restaurant gave the recipe out, as I would've traveled the distance to order it at their restaurant! Kev said hands down the best meatloaf he's ever had. It was tender, juicy and exploding with fresh herb flavors. The garlic sauce tied together the entire meal, although mine didn't get quite thick enough. I am not really sure why, being it was broth, butter and the sautéed garlic and I let it full boil for the allocated time - but it was still tasty and soaked into the meat. We even drizzled it on our roasted potatoes and corn on the cob.
Bring on the cooler weather so we could make this meatloaf more often!








8.17.2017

Giveaway: Sabatier Kitchenware


I am elated to host this giveaway to my loyal followers! When I was given the opportunity to try out some Sabatier products, my excitement was hardly contained. I have seen this name brand in Costco (I pretty much live in Costco), so it is trustworthy to me. Below you can find my reviews on cutting boards, knives, a cast iron grill pan, and some spoons, including my favorite item... the risotto spoon! Don't forget to enter the giveaway to win a chef knife, pairing knife and a 3 piece cutting board set!




Sabatier Chef Knife with self sharpening cover:
This 6" chef knife is sharp, and comfortable to handle. You may be mocking me, thinking, "wow Kim, a knife that is sharp? Duh" but seriously, this thing effortlessly cuts like butter. The blade has an angled arch that enforces proper cutting, which took me a little while to get used to. It handles more professionally than other knives I have worked with. Sabatier made their knives very lightweight and let's be honest... is there anything cooler than a self sharpening knife cover? Not many people have time to sit there sharpening cooking knives, so this feature is an awesome must have. You don't need to spend a lot of money to acquire a quality knife in your drawer, but it must be noted that like most quality knives, it is not dishwasher safe. Proper care includes washing by hand, and drying quickly which will guarantee a long lasting relationship!

Can't wait? Buy it on Amazon below!




Sabatier Pairing Knife with self sharpening cover:
I am going to make a horrible confession right now! Ready? BEFORE using this knife, I could count on my hand how many times I've used a pairing knife. I usually take whatever is right in my face (steak knives) and cut whatever easily chopped veggies or fruits I need done. Not anymore! This pairing knife was so easy to maneuver because of it's short length (3.5") and lightweight body. It is nice and sharp (my DUH moment again), and like the chef knife, it needs to be hand washed only. And this too has a self sharpening cover, yay!


Can't wait? Buy it on Amazon below!












Sabatier Spoons:
My spoon review will mainly be for the risotto spoon, because it was my favorite! All the sabatier spoons shown above were used with ease. They are sleek, slender and heat resistant up to 495 degrees, not to mention dishwasher safe! I love that they aren't made of wood (because all my wood ones end up cracking), and they are long in length which makes them great for large pots. The corner spoon allowed mixing in those hard to reach spots, which is always helpful!
If you're going to be cooking risotto, you need this spoon. What I loved most about the risotto spoon was the lack of effort it took to mix my rice! Risotto is one of those love hate relationships... it takes hard work making, and you hate every minute, but then you take that first bite and "Ahhhh," every dying minute was worth it. With the hole in the center of the spoon, it promised the rice to mix evenly and easier. I'm honest when I say this was the first time my arm wasn't tired by the time the risotto was finished, ha! I'm also confident to say, this was the best darn risotto ever!






Sabatier Cutting Boards
These cutting boards are the best ones I've owned thus far! They are durable and have non slip edging. The smooth poly material will not dull your knife blades, which is a major win. The smallest cutting board has a fun design that reminds me of a kitchen backsplash, like one that I desperately need ;) Someone is going to be lucky to win these!

Can't wait? Buy it on Amazon below!






Sabatier Cast Iron Grill Pan:
Cast iron pans stole my heart a long time ago. Burgers, chicken, veggies, steak, heck, I even use them for brownies. Sabatier's grill pan was the first cast iron pan that I used on my BBQ (not pictured). It was much easier on the grill, as all the smoke stayed outside! Our chicken was cooked evenly, with a delectable char and taste. Finding a pre-seasoned, rust resistant cast iron grill pan is not always an easy task, but sabatier has accomplished just that.

Can't wait? Buy it on Amazon below!



Below is a rafflecopter open to US residents, 18+. A random winner will be chosen on Friday, August 25. Actual prizes pictured below, and will be shipped directly to winner. Good luck to you all!



a Rafflecopter giveaway

7.20.2017

Giveaway: Nucucina Bento Lunchbox Set


This is a really exciting giveaway for me to host! I got together with Nucucina to give one lucky follower a bento lunchbox set. I recently posted on my facebook page about this lunchbox, and I have used it so many times since. As someone who always cooks enough for leftovers, as a new mom with rushed mornings, and as a fan of taking lunch to work with me to save some bucks, this bento lunchbox is perfect. Find my review below & enter the giveaway! Good luck!



Some of my favorite features include:
Portion control - Check!
Microwave/Dishwasher safe - Check!
Sleek design for storage space - Check!
Insulted zipper case to keep food hot or cold - Check!
BPA free- Check! (yay)
and much more LOVES about this lunchbox!


Generally, I have no control over how much I eat (sigh). This is a problem for many, so the fact that the Nucucina box enforces portion control is a huge plus for me. If I am planning on having leftovers for lunch the next day, I always be sure to make our bento boxes before putting dinner out on the table which also helps us not to over stuff!
Another great feature is the slim and sleek design of this lunchbox, which fits perfectly in my office's small refrigerator, and in our cabinet for storing. The fact that the actual box doesn't get hot in the microwave (just the food does), makes it for easy handling as well!
Separating food helps with certain flavors not mixing (who would want tortellini in their salad, am I right? lol), and prevents certain foods from becoming soggy.

What are the down sides, you may be wondering. One of my concerns when I first got the bento box after making a taco dinner, was where am I going to put the sour cream and other wet condiments, and things I didn't want to be heated? An easy solution was using rubber or paper cupcake liners. It makes for items to be easily removed (sour cream, jalapenos, shredded cheese in cupcake liners below).


My husband, Kevin, and I are big fans of this product and highly recommend it! As a new mom, I know this would even be a great product for kids, with separating their food & snacks! It's a great system to use on the beach, at the park, at the office, or anywhere else! Below is a rafflecopter entry form, and a random winner will be chosen on 7/28/17. Winner will be notified via email and shipping will be set up with Nucucina. Good luck to all!

Can't wait? Nucucina was sold out but just got more in! Buy your bento lunchbox set here on Amazon (only sold on Amazon):


a Rafflecopter giveaway


7.17.2017

Bacon Buffalo Chicken Dip

This appetizer is always a big hit at our family parties! It does have a bit of a kick, but not too over powering for your average spicy loving person. Feel free to tweak the amount of hot sauce to your personal liking! I serve this dip with tostitos scoops, and celery sticks. You can also serve/bake this dip into wonton cups, or a crescent roll ring!

Prep time: 15 minutes
Bake time: 20 minutes

Ingredients-
2 1/2 cups of shredded white meat, no skin. I use a class flavor rotisserie chicken!
2/3 cups Franks red hot sauce
1 8oz package of cream cheese, room temp
1/2 cup shredded colby jack cheese (I recommend shredding from a block)
1/2 cup Marzetti ranch dressing
6 slices of bacon, cooked crispy & chopped
Salt & Pepper, to taste
1/4 cup scallions, chopped (separated into 2 tbs & 2 tbs for garnish)
~2 tbs red onion, small chop (put aside for garnish)
*Optional: Blue cheese crumbles, for garnish
*Serve with celery sticks and/or tortilla chips/scoops



Directions-
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Leaving aside 2 tbs scallions and red onion, mix the remaining ingredients into a large bowl until well blended.

3. Using a 12" cast iron pan, or casserole dish, spread mixture into dish and bake for 20 minutes.

4. Remove from oven, and garnish center of dip with the remaining ingredients.






6.14.2017

Cookbook Collection | Thursday Trials - Roasted Arctic Char & Asparagus with Pistachio Gremolata

Look at this beauty! I have mentioned a few times that my husband hates salmon... well, luckily for me, he was at a golf outing tonight! I love salmon but I don't get to cook it much. My mother in law and sister in law also love salmon, so they got the invite to join me tonight. Before I share details, I'd like you to know that we all gave it a 10 out of 10. I made very few changes and it came out really great, and how can I not mention how stunningly gorgeous this dinner is!


Tonight's cookbook choice:
SHEET PAN SUPPERS
Molly Gilbert
Page 89
Roasted Arctic Char & Asparagus with Pistachio Gremolata


So for starters, I replaced arctic char with (wild) king salmon. King salmon was readily available at my fish market, but arctic char is just as delicious. Another tweak was replacing pistachios with toffee cashews. Have you ever tried toffee cashews? If you are saying no, PLEASE go find them!! They were the biggest hit at a recent wine & cheese party, and would make a great little app (or dessert) to bring as a dinner guest. They disappear within minutes!


I also couldn't find cherry tomatoes at the market, so organic grape tomatoes had to do. Overall, the changes were minimal, and the dish was still so quick and easy (10 min prep, 20 min to bake). I'm really excited to have a "go-to" salmon dish (when my husband isn't around at least)! We highly recommend this one!!

6.11.2017

Blind Wine Tasting Party 2017

My favorite party of the year! If you haven't been to a blind wine tasting party, I encourage you to host (or beg a friend to host). I am hoping my guide to a fab tasting party below will help! As a host, it is not a bad gig. There is minimal to no cooking, and your guests supply the drinks! Not having to cook alleviates the stress, and you can actually enjoy every moment with your guests!


Here is how it worked:
Each guest brought one bottle of wine of their choice (white, red, rosé), and placed the bottle into a labeled brown bag so that other guests could not see what kind it was. We started with whites, as I suggested that our guests bring any white wine at a cool temperature. Using score cards that I recreated (see below), we judged aroma, taste, body, finish and appearance. The bottle that accumulated the most points was given 1st prize.
Other prizes included the Wine Loser (lowest awarded points), and winner for the "guess how many corks" game, in which I filled a container up with store bought corks. The prizes offered were a small cheese platter slate (with chalk to label), a glass wine shaped cheese platter with a decorative grape knife, and a small gift bag of 4 infused olive oils.


What was on our platter spread:
*Infused Olive Oils and Balsamic - I highly suggest these! They are always the biggest hit at all of our wine and cheese parties. We buy a few baguettes and cut them up into dipping sized pieces. The olive oils we serve with a dipping tray in front of that flavor, so our guests know which one they are trying. The oils we served this year included: Black Truffle, White Truffle, Chipotle (ooph, spicy), Cilantro & Roasted Onion, Tuscan Herb, and Raspberry balsamic. They were all so different, some sweet, some hot, some rich.
*Bread - We ran thru the bread really quickly and I will have to buy at least 6 loaves next year! We used french baguettes for this party, but any crispy firm bread will do. Cut the bread into dipping sized servings. Small enough to pop into your mouth in one bite!
*Grapes - purple and green
*Dried apricots
*Golden raspberries (which taste just like red raspberries, they just look cooler)
*Nuts - Toffee cashews (to die for), pistachios, mixed nuts
*Olives - purple and green
*Meats - pepperoni, salami
*Dark chocolate covered raisins
*Cheeses - There is lots of advice online when it comes to cheeses. Costco is an awesome place to start, and of course, specialty cheese shoppes. We included the following cheeses on our platter and it was a good variety: Fresh mozzarella, Port wine, Port Salut, Smoked Gouda, Manchego, Asiago, Garlic & Herb Cheddar, Jalapeño Pepper Jack, and Goat Cheese.
*Honey and Spicy Honey mustard spread
*Crackers - A variety of crackers




Decorations & Prizes:
Besides socializing, drinking and eating, you want to spark some fun into the party. Making your table look presentable & appetizing, and creating some competition for your guests to bring good bottles are two fun components of the party. I started with the bags & tissue paper at Michaels. I also purchased the flag labels for the cheese and decorative grapes and green stems for the bags & platter there. Next, I stopped by TJ Maxx for prizes. I only spent 5-8$ per prize and I usually make them cheese or wine related. You can do things like wine glass charms, wine stoppers, cheese boards, etc. Altogether, decorations & prizes ran me about $40. 
I had leftover corks from another year, and I fill them in a wine shaped container. The guests always love trying to guess how many corks are in there. We gave a prize away to the winner (the answer was 53 and the closest guest was 51)! Doing the guessing game towards the end of the party always makes it better! People are a little more socialized and comfortable at that point, and the guesses become more fun.
I also had two cast iron mice to help bring some cute detail to the spread.

I recreated a scoring guide, and score cards on Excel. If you'd like the files sent to you, you can email me at kissmyapron@aol.com and I will be happy to send them to you for your own use!




The following wines were top 3 at our party this year!

1st Place                                                                           2nd Place

3rd Place 


My husband and I are very grateful that we have the opportunity to get our friends together in our home, despite having our new 4 month old baby girl. It's always nice to get a break, and  every parent  deserves a night off once in a while! I wanted to especially thank our friends for their help with pouring and cleaning. I mean, a party isn't a party until the cops are called (gosh, our neighbors are just party poopers)! We had so much fun and cannot wait for 2018 to come along!