Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Round and Round We Go by Lady of the House

Ok, so I'm a little crazy with the early Christmas shopping, but I think you'll agree that your door does look a bit naked without a wreath this time of year.

Here's a round-up of lovely options for you.

That charming photo above is thanks to West Elm, and rings in at a mere $31 jingle bells.

This paper wreath is a lovely option for anyone whose front door isn't technically a front door, i.e. "I"ll buzz you up!"

For those of us who will only dream of a white Christmas, this succulent square is so beautiful, you'll tend it year-long.

And how pretty would this feather number be draped over the hall mirror? I'm guessing your party guests will giggle while they touch up their lipgloss.

{ Lady of the House }
--all photos compliments of their respective sites/sellers--

Monday, November 28, 2011

Creamy Oatmeal

I owe you all an apology; sorry I forgot to post on Friday! I was on vacation in sunny Palm Desert, and I'm afraid I got carried away seeing a real, live desert oasis...

And getting head-butted by pygmy goats (feisty little buggers!)...

That I forgot to write an update! I hope you'll forgive me.

Now, on to the important stuff: food. The husband and I cooked some meals while we were away in order to save a few bucks. But since it's still vacation, we kept it easy. For example, one night we enjoyed a rotisserie chicken purchased from the grocery store, baked potatoes with sour cream, and roasted green beans. We used the leftover rotisserie chicken to make burritos another night.  I just cut up the chicken and heated it through with sauteed onion and some jarred salsa. Then I rolled the filling in a tortilla with plenty of shredded cheese. Easy, delicious, and cheaper than a restaurant. 

For breakfast, we're usually cereal folks, but a few times I made some old fashioned oatmeal as a special treat. (Funny how oatmeal, which is heart-healthy and costs $1.50 for a box, is a "treat." I guess I'm getting old.) I make oatmeal a bit differently than the directions on the box. See, I like my oatmeal very creamy, and cooking it for five minutes just doesn't cut it. 

Now, let me warn you that my oatmeal looks a little bit like gruel, but it tastes delicious. And it smells homey and rich. The first day I made creamy oatmeal on vacation, the husband opted for Corn Pops. But once the oatmeal was cooking and smelling so good, he was totally jealous of my breakfast.  

Give it a try and let me know what you think. Are you a creamy oatmeal fan, too?

Creamy Oatmeal
Serves: 4

3 cups water
2 cups milk
Pinch salt
2 cups old fashioned oats
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Brown sugar, to taste
Extra milk for serving, if desired

In a relatively large saucepan, bring water, milk, and a pinch of salt to a boil. Be careful because this mixture tends to go from not-boiling to boiling-out-of-the-pan very quickly. That's why I recommend using a relatively large saucepan. Stir in oats and turn the temperature down to medium-low. 

Allow the oatmeal to simmer, stirring regularly, for about 15 minutes or until the oatmeal is thick and creamy. (If it looks like the picture above, it's not done yet. Keep cookin' until it looks like the picture below.) Stir in cinnamon and brown sugar to taste. Serve with extra milk and more brown sugar for the sweet-tooth at your table.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

We are truly grateful for you, our dear readers! Thank you for visiting our virtual happy home every week.

Wishing you and your families a blessed Thanksgiving!

With love,
Erin & The Lady of the House

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

It'll Be Our Little Secret by Lady of the House

Don't worry, this isn't an attempt at abstract art. These are shots of my blender crammed full of fruit, yogurt, juice and one secret ingredient just before I hit the switch. I've been making smoothies a lot lately. As a Mom I worry about feeding my little one a rainbow of colors each day, and I see no other treat that's as nutritious, portable or downright yummy. Step aside V8 Splash!

I find if I incorporate my daughter in the preparation of meals, she seems to dig in, or in this case, drink up, with a bit more gusto. Cooking becomes a lesson in counting and colors as we select frozen peaches from the bag, and she plops them into the blender. Yes, we sit on the kitchen floor, and yes, it takes triple the amount of time it would if I had done it myself, but it's so worth it.

Here's what you need...
1 banana
3 big spoonfuls of vanilla yogurt (I buy the full fat variety. Oh yes.)
1 generous splash of orange juice (and perhaps more if your blender starts to struggle)
5 frozen strawberries
5 frozen sliced peaches
about 1/4 cup frozen blueberries
and for the SECRET ingredient: frozen spinach!! You'll never taste it, and it's so good for you.

Blend, pour, sip. Now, if only Thanksgiving dinner was this easy...
{ Lady of the House }

Monday, November 21, 2011

Pesto Goat Cheese Spread

It's time to whip up some Pesto Goat Cheese Spread. It's the perfect appetizer for a holiday get together, ladies' night, or football party for a number of reasons: 
  1. You can make it ahead and bring it to room temperature before your guests arrive.
  2. It takes two minutes to throw together. Literally, people. Two minutes.
  3. Red and green. Merry Christmas. Put on Nat King Cole and smile with holiday spirit. 
  4. It tastes unbelievably fabulous.
You don't have a party coming up, you say? Well, don't let that stop you! The husband and I shoveled this stuff down our gullets for dinner the other night. 

Pesto Goat Cheese Spread

8 ounces goat cheese at room temperature
1/3 cup prepared pesto
4 tablespoons chopped sun-dried tomatoes
3 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
Pita chips, slices of baguette, or crackers for serving

Spread goat cheese onto a pretty plate or platter. The goat cheese should be about 1/4" thick so you can scoop it up with your cracker or a knife. Top with pesto, spreading it towards the edges, but leave a border of goat cheese so you can see the white color peaking out of the bottom. Sprinkle sun-dried tomatoes and then pine nuts over the pesto. Serve at room temperature with your favorite crackers, crusty bread, or pita chips. 

Friday, November 18, 2011

Pesto Chicken

Thanksgiving is next week. Then the whirlwind of December kicks in: holiday concerts at school,  trimming the tree, fighting the crowds to finish your shopping, Christmas pageants... The list goes on and on.

With all this hustle coming up, I thought you'd appreciate a super-simple dinner idea. I know I did.

Pesto Chicken
Serves: 2

2 chicken breasts
2-4 tablespoons prepared pesto

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place chicken in a baking dish and schmear each chicken breast with 1-2 tablespoons pesto, depending on how pesto-y you like things.

Bake for about 30 minutes or until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the chicken reaches 165 degrees.

P.S. Pesto Chicken is fabulous served with pasta. Use your favorite alfredo sauce or more of the pesto.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

All-Star Thanksgiving

Today I'm revisiting some Hot Dinner favorites to create an all-star Thanksgiving menu.

Drinks: Make a batch of Spiked Cider and allow your guests to serve themselves. As an added bonus, this libation will perfume your home with the scents of the holidays. And these wine picks from the Lady of the House are certain crowd-pleasers.

Appetizers: Have enough nibbles so your guests don't chew their hands off awaiting the main event, but not enough that they spoil their appetite. These make-ahead hors d'oeuvres are the perfect choice.
Spicy Nuts:

Goat Cheese Spread:

First Course: Roasted Butternut Squash Soup is simple, earthy, and delicious with all the flavors of fall. The best part? You can prepare it a few days ahead and warm it up on the stove just before serving.

Main Course: 
Turkey: Brining your bird takes ho-hum poultry to a whole new level.

Mashed Potatoes: Making as many dishes as possible before your guests arrive is key to sanity on Thanksgiving day. Heat these spuds through in the oven before serving.

Roasted Root Vegetables with Honey-Balsamic Glaze: Celebrate the bounty of autumn with gorgeous roasted vegetables.

Stuffing with Sausage, Pecans, and Cranberries: Savory and sweet stuffing pleases every palate.

Cranberry Sauce: This jewel-toned side dish is a compliment to every part of the meal.

Apple Pie: Piled high with fruit and topped with a crisp, flaky, butter crust. This is the pie of your dreams.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup

How many of my recipes start with, "So I picked up the motherlode of X at Costco..."?  Well, this is another one of those recipes.

So I picked up the motherlode of pre-cut butternut squash at Costco. Cutting up butternut squash is the worst. It always goes skittering across my counter when I'm trying to slice it in half. And then it requires all my body weight leaning on the knife to get it into pieces. Usually, the poor husband gets startled by me hooting and hollering, "Gall darn, dang! This stinkin'...Geez!" He gingerly pokes his head into the kitchen, "Uh, honey? Is everything alright in here? Don't hurt yourself trying to cut that thing..." Now you understand why I got so tickled when I saw the vat of pre-cut squash. I had to buy it. For safety's sake.

This delightful soup is the result. Roasting the vegetables brings out the depth of their flavor. At the same time, it's very earthy and simple.

Need a first course for Thanksgiving? This could be the perfect choice.

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
Serves: 4-6

6 cups peeled and cubed butternut squash (1/2"-1" cubes)
1 large onion, peeled and sliced
2 carrots, peeled and cut into 1" slices
2 ribs celery, cut into 1" slices
4 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
4 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper
4-6 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable stock
2 sprigs rosemary

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper for easy clean-up. Evenly divide squash, onion, carrots, celery, and garlic between two baking sheets. Drizzle each tray with 2 tablespoons olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake for 40-45 minutes, until vegetables are golden and very tender, stirring and rotating baking sheets halfway through.

Meanwhile, bring 4 cups chicken stock and rosemary to a boil in pot large enough to fit all the soup.

When the vegetables have finished cooking, remove the rosemary from the stock and add vegetables to the pot. Return soup to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minute to allow the flavors to meld.

Blend soup using an immersion blender or in batches in a blender. Add remaining stock if necessary to reach your desired consistency. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Savory Pesto Palmiers

The holiday season is upon us. We are trussing our turkeys, watching Santa star in commercials, and some of us (ahem, the Lady of the House) have nearly completed our Christmas shopping.

In addition to the requisite good cheer, November ushers in the season of parties. I love holiday parties. I always feel like I'm on Mad Men when I'm off to one. Kitten heels, an apron protecting my party frock while I'm putting the finishing touches on my make-up, maybe some pearls. It's just...fancy. And whether you're the host or an honored guest, these affairs often involve appetizers.

Today's recipe is absolutely perfect for the shin-digs filling up your social calendar. And they sound as classy as you'll look in your hipster skinny tie: Savory Palmiers. You can prepare them ahead and pop them in the oven just before your guests arrive. Or bring them to the party already cooked. Although they're sublime straight from the oven, these palmiers are also delicious at room temperature.

Party on, dudes.

Savory Pesto Palmiers
From: The Barefoot Contessa
Makes 60 appetizers

1 package frozen puff pastry, defrosted
1/4 cup prepared pesto
2/3 cup crumbled goat cheese
1/4 cup finely chopped sundried tomatoes
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts

Unfold one of the puff pastry sheets onto a lightly floured board or parchment paper. Roll it out slightly using a rolling pin until the pastry is about 9.5" x 11.5". (Mine was a bit bigger than this, and it worked just fine.)

Spread half of the pesto over the pastry. Sprinkle with half the goat cheese, half the tomatoes, and half the pine nuts. Season with salt.

Starting at the short end of the pastry, roll each end halfway toward the center. Then fold each end toward the center again until the folded edges almost touch. Fold one side over the other and press together gently. Transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet. Repeat the process with the second sheet of puff pastry and the remaining ingredients. Cover the puff pastry with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 45 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut the rolls of puff pastry into 1/4" thick slices.

Place the palmiers face up on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake for 14 minutes until the palmiers are puffed and golden. This makes about 60 appetizers, so you might need to bake them in batches. If you bake two trays of palmiers at once, make sure you rotate them halfway through so they cook evenly. Serve warm.

P.S. You can reheat Savory Palmiers at 350 degrees for about 7 minutes.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Haute Dinner

The lovely ladies over at Haute Apple Pie invited me to bring a dish to pass at their Virtual Thanksgiving Potluck. And what's a party if you can't bring a friend? Come on over and join me today at Haute Apple Pie.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

'tis the gift to be simple by Lady of the House

My custom upload...but how cheery would a family photo be?!

Forgive me, but I must gloat. I'm almost done with my Christmas shopping. Yep! I know, it's barely November.

This year is different for me, somehow. Maybe the ol' 3-0 has something to do with it, but I decided to stop obsessing over "perfect" gifts with "perfect" wrapping that will be "perfectly" applicable for all recipients, and I decided to get real. We're at a point in our family now where the kids feature predominantly, and there are only so many bottles of wine, sets of napkins, calendars and picture frames that inspire me enough to get my booty to the post office. (I'm so glad I finished my gifts for the kids--the crayon roll-ups-- in September!)

Enter an amazing website called This site is pure genius. Lemme break it down for you. You buy a gift card, in any amount. You choose either to print, email, or snail mail a flashy 100% recycled plastic number to your buddy. You can select one of their designs, or upload your own image, as I did with my favorite photo of the year (above). And then there's the joy of just scrolling through their list of charities your recipients can gift. It may be just the thing. Especially when you can name your price. Check it out!

{ Lady of the House }

Monday, November 7, 2011

Simply Roasted Carrots

I think I've made it chrystal clear how I feel about roasting: I feel happy about it. Tickled. Perfectly thrilled, in fact.

Roasting is so easy and so good. Am I preachin' to the choir out there or am I the only one singing the praises of a scorchin' hot oven putting crispy, caramelized edges on my veggies and tubers? Anyone? Bueller? 

Well, I digress. Moving on to carrots. Far too often these crunchy, vibrant fall beauties get relegated to the humble lunch sack. Heaven forbid Junior heaves them into the trash bin in favor of a Fruit Roll-up or Ding-Dong. I wanted my carrots to take center stage.

First I took my lunch-sack-ready baby carrots and hacked them into coins.  There were two reasons for this extra step: 1.) they look purrrty, and 2.) they cook more quickly when they're sliced up. Reason number two was obviously far more important to me. Then I tossed them on a baking tray (lined with parchment for easy-peasy clean-up) and glugged on some olive oil. (I think "glug" is an official culinary term.) A hearty sprinkling of salt and pepper, and into the oven they went.  After a few minutes the heat of the oven brought out the natural sugar and deepened the blaze-orange color of my simple carrots. They were indeed the star of the dinner table.

Simply Roasted Carrots

Carrots* (big or baby carrots), sliced into 1/4" coins
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Choose a baking sheet large enough for all of your carrots to fit in a single layer and line it with parchment paper for easy clean-up. Place carrots on the baking sheet and drizzle with oil.  (If you have a lot of carrots, use about 3 tablespoons oil. If you only have a few carrots, use about two tablespoons.)

Sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss everything together with your hands. You want your carrots to glisten with oil and be evenly coated with spices. Distribute the carrots so they're in a single layer. Cook for 17-20 minutes, stirring halfway through, until the carrots are tender and caramelized around the edges.

*Use as many carrots as you need to feed your family. The husband and I enjoy our vegetables, and three big handfuls of baby carrots feeds the two of us.

P.S. Interested in the fish pictured with these Simply Roasted Carrots? Check out my recipe for Pan-Seared Tilapia.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Guest Post: ROLO-ver and Die Good Brownies

Get ready for the good stuff today, folks. I asked my dear friend, Maureen (a.k.a. "Mo" to those of us to know her and, inevitably, love her) to write a post for you today featuring one of her glorious baked goods. As anticipated, the recipe she's sharing today is clutch. So, now I'll turn things over to Mo, literary genius, nurturer of souls, hostess with the mostess, and forever friend.

Last week the Homemaker Extraordinaire asked me if I would guest post here for you at HDHH. I feel so honored to be able to share one of my new favorite recipes.

I don’t know about you all, but I’ve been on a pumpkin kick since Labor Day (the unofficial beginning of all things fall, for me at least). Needless to say, my family and friends have grown weary of my pumpkin goodies, even though I’m sure I never will. So currently, I have a freezer filled with pumpkin chocolate chip cookies, pumpkin gingersnaps, and more. If you love pumpkin I don’t have to explain myself to you, however, I had to mix it up for their sake. And, luckily for me, just in time, Halloween candy had to be purchased. In typical Maureen fashion, I had to be sure to have enough for every little Batman who came to our door. And, again, typical Maureen, I overbought—by a lot. So, this recipe comes in handy. I think this is a delicious, and not pumpkin, alternative.

When I stumbled across this recipe it was the first time I’d seen brownies made all in one saucepan. I was intrigued. And then sublimely pleased. They are worth the extra effort over boxed brownies, plus you get to use up any leftover candy.

ROLO-ver and Die Good Brownies
(adapted from

Yield: 24 brownies
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 35-40 minutes
1 cup (2 sticks) butter
2 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 large eggs
3/4 cup cocoa
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups chopped Rolo candy

1/3 cup caramel ice cream topping (If you use caramel sauce, microwave it for approximately 30 seconds to make the sauce more pourable).
1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9 x 13 pan with cooking spray. Set aside.
2. Place butter in medium saucepan on the stove. Cook over medium heat until butter is melted. Remove from heat and stir in sugar and vanilla extract. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well with spoon after each addition. Add cocoa; stir until well blended. Add flour, baking powder and salt; stir until combined. Stir in chopped Rolo candy. Pour batter into prepared pan.
3. Drizzle caramel evenly over the brownies. Using a toothpick, swirl caramel into brownies. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until brownies begin to pull away from sides of pan and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool brownies completely in pan on a wire rack. Once cool, cut into squares and serve.

First, I found that measuring all of my ingredients and laying them out on the counter before I started cooking was important. Since you have to keep stirring the warm saucepan of sugar and butter, it makes stopping to measure difficult.

I made this recipe once where I chopped the candy pretty small, and it made for a slightly less satisfying find inside the brownie. So this time I only really chopped them in quarters so the Rolo candy packs a bigger punch in each bite.

Next, I melted the butter on the stovetop, then with a wooden spoon stirred in the sugar and vanilla.

I cracked each egg and beat it in, until completely incorporated. After that, add cocoa powder. Incorporating this takes more time than I expected, but be patient.

Then, stir in flour, baking powder and salt.

Add the candy.

Pour into prepared glass pan. Drizzle caramel syrup onto batter. Then, with a toothpick swirl the caramel.

Wait. Inhale. Wait. Drool.

When completely cool, cut into pieces.

Eat one. Then sneak back and have another. After three you will probably roll over and die!

Adaptation: I’m pretty convinced brownies and candy are natural friends. Therefore I have used other candy bars and think you can do it, too. Try Milky Ways, Snickers, Peanut Butter Cups. And if you want, substitute peanut butter for caramel. (Microwave 1/3 cup for about 30 sec so it’s more pourable).