Friday, July 29, 2011

To market, to market!

Vance is off work tomorrow - amazing! I think we are going to check out the Nashville Farmer's Market. I want to pick up some fresh fish, beef, cheese and vegetables to prepare for the week ahead. Recipes I have in mind for this week include...

Sliced seared tuna with an asian slaw
Fillet Mignon with pepper cream sauce, brussel sprouts and steak cut fries
Mediterranean orzo salad with rotisserie pulled chicken
Cream of tomato and basil soup and paninis

Last night, I made caramelized onion and apple pork chops - delicious and easy! Recipe is below - I made a few modifications and halved the recipe.

Plan to start the sauce a little early, since it takes about 15 minutes to caramelize the onions. The sauce and onions can be made earlier in the day; refrigerate until you start the pork chops.

  • 2 medium sweet onions, halved, sliced thinly
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil or vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 3/4 cup apple juice
  • 4 pork chops, about 3/4-inch thick
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil or vegetable oil
  • I also added half of a tart apple sliced thinly 


First, caramelize the onions and make the sauce. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil or vegetable oil. Add sliced onions and cook, stirring frequently, until onions are very tender and browned. From time to time, as the onions stick to the pan a bit, move them around with a spatula. I added the sliced apples and sauteed with the onions for about 6 or 7 minutes. When the onions are soft and light brown, add the brown sugar, balsamic vinegar, and apple juice. Bring to a simmer and simmer for 5 minutes to reduce the mixture.
Sprinkle the pork chops with salt and pepper and add them to the pan. Cook for about 3 to 4 minutes on each side, or until browned. Reduce heat to medium low, cover the pan, and simmer for a few minutes. Take a test to see that the juices run clear - you may want to simmer for about 10 minutes depending on how think your chops are. Serves 4.

Served with asparagus and honey roasted red skin potatoes. Partially peel and cube red skin potatoes, toss with OO, salt and pepper, few teaspoons of honey and about a half tea spoon or so of dijon mustard. Spread on a pan and bake at about 375 for 25 minutes - mmmm!

Enjoy your Friday!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

I'm not "finished" until my nails are done.

As many of my friends, former roommates and husband know, I like to paint my nails - often. Although, I don't think anything beats a great red, I have a few other finds that I thought I would share.

One of my favorite pinky-reds, OPI Dutch Tulips.

A new addition to my neutrals, OPI Barefoot in Barcelona.
OPI for Sepohora "And a Cherry on Top" - great red - this was my wedding nail color.
In a hurry? Sally Hanson Manicure in a Bottle is super quick drying and easy to apply!
Commander in Chic (got this color from Jordan R.!)
All Fired Up by Sally Hanson - a great organgey-red, pop!
A red that dries quickly? What? Yes! Right Said Red.

A few other self mani tools that are great...
This buffer is great.

Sweep over your nails before applying polish - alcohol to remove lotion, oils, etc.
Nail dryer makes an at-home mani so much faster!
Cuticle oil - I put on a bit before bed time. Great in the winter!
Lastly, a few drops of this thinner can extend your nail polish life almost indefinitely!
I swear I have bottles from 2005 that I am working through thanks to this product.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Break the cereal routine.

I have a difficult time when I know Vance is eating the same thing over and over. He is on this cereal- kick - Smart Start, Special K Vanilla Almond/Berry/Cinnamon, the list goes on. Well tomorrow - no cereal. I made egg cups! 

muffin pan
6 eggs
milk - about 1/4 cup
vegetables (lighted sauteed in some butter)
meat if desired - I used a slice of ham, cubed
shredded cheese
crescent roll dough
Pam cooking spray

-"Pam" the muffin pan and then cut and assembled the crescent dough inside each cup
-Layer shredded cheese (I had some mozzarella but any type would do), 
vegetables and ham
-Whisk eggs and milk and pour in each muffin spot
-Top with more shredded cheese and a little salt and pepper
-Bake for about 20 mins at 375 degrees
A quick easy breakfast for tomorrow!
I am going to have an egg cup and spinach salad tomorrow for lunch.
Next time, egg cups with lox, capers, goat cheese, red onion and cherry tomatoes. Yum!

Dinner tonight was turkey burgers with peach salsa (courtesy of 20 Minute Supper Club) and couscous salad with carrot, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, olive oil and apple cider vinegar.

Happy Monday!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

A glass for everyday of the year

One of the things I love to collect is glassware. My parents are avid antiquers, so at a young age (as my brother and I were dragged around to antique shows in the sweltering heat) I began to acquire all types of glasses. My collection truly started with "swanky swigs" or jars that held Kraft products, jelly, etc. in the 1950's. The glasses are the perfect size for juice. I probably have about 15 of these puppies (I think I was a little overzealous as a girl, and when I was buying them they were only about $5 to $8).
Perfect for juice - but not dishwasher safe!

Here are some excerpts from our glass collection (the modern and standard wine, martini, champagne are not included - see Bed, Bath and Beyond and Macy's).
Sour cream glasses, also from the fifties. Sometimes you can find ones with lids which are pretty cool.
Great for a small cocktail, milk or water.
Nothing says summer to me like a tall vodka 'n tonic in a frosted glass. These are from my parents
and are a bit vintage (maybe 60's).
Vance hates the feeling of frosted glass so I must use these all on my own.
Thank you again to Mom and Dad for helping me with my pressed glass collection, circa early 1900's.

Some retro wineware. This is like Christmas - in a glass.
A gem in my collection! When I (like every other 20 something female) went crazy over Madmen a few years ago,  my dad and I found these in a PA antique shop. Santa brought them a few months later! Circa 1960's - champagne anyone?
This is actually a pick from Vance's collection (although he may not even know that).  Gift from my parents - a 50's martini shaker and glass set - very hip.
A steal at $1.95 a glass. Purchased these on vacation in Colonial Williamsburg a few years ago.
Gifts from my friends...
Michelle W. - keeping an eye out in NYC for things that would tickle my fancy. I am tickled - tickled pink by these depression ware reproduction glasses from Fish Eddy.
An appropriate and fun birthday gift from L. Courtney! World Market is too clever.
2 of a set of 8 from my Aunt Suzanne in PA. Great shower present - vintage pressed glass.
Classy cut crystal from the ever classy Koch's - and a bottle of Maker's 46 - this is what true friendship is made of. They even gave us 4 glasses for when they come to visit!
And what good is a cocktail - if you don't have a great stirer?  These are from various hotels, lounges and restaurants across America - brought to me through antique shops at about a dollar a pop.
This fantastic pitcher and glasses are safely packed away from right now (until we get a house). A gift from my cousin and her husband. The awesome set is from his shop - Anchor Bend Glass in Newport, RI. Beautiful glass!
Well that is all for now, drink up everyone! Cheers!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Cilantro inspired summer dinner

Skinless, boneless chicken breasts have always been a staple in my culinary life. My mom always wrapped them individually and froze them - these little chicken ta-tas then were packed in coolers and came to college and grad school apartments with my brother and me to marinate and saute. Wanting to use some leftover cilantro, I made some zesty cilantro-lime chicken the other night.

  • YIELD: Makes 4 servings
  • COURSE: Main Dishes
  • 4 boned, skinned chicken breast halves (2 lb. total)
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 6 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper 
  • 1. Pound the chicken breasts to an even thickness (about 1/2 in.) and place in a shallow baking pan.
  • 2. In a small bowl, mix lime juice, cilantro, garlic, honey, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Pour over chicken and turn pieces to coat evenly. Cover and chill at least 30 minutes or overnight.
  • 3. Lay chicken on a grill over medium heat (you can hold your hand over the surface only 4 to 5 seconds) and cook, turning once, until no longer pink in the center, 4 to 6 minutes per side.
Oh the woes of apartment living - no grill! The grill pan (see link) is a life savor! It is quickly becoming a favorite kitchen item.

For dinner this weekend (to celebrate Vance's and my 8 year anniversary - 8 years of being together) I am making a recipe that my mom sent me, thanks Mary! I will report back!

Here is the rundown:

4 servings
3 tablespoons sesame seeds (white, black or a mix)
2 large egg whites
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 pound peeled and deveined raw shrimp (21-25 per pound)
2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
3/4 cup orange juice
1/4 cup dry sherry (see Note)
2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
1 scallion, thinly sliced

1. Whisk sesame seeds, egg whites, cornstarch, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Add shrimp and toss to coat.
2. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add half the shrimp and cook until golden, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain. Repeat with the remaining 1 tablespoon oil and the rest of the shrimp.
3. Add orange juice, sherry, soy sauce and sugar to the pan. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened and reduced by half, 4 to 6 minutes. Return the shrimp to the pan and stir to coat with the sauce. Serve immediately, with scallion sprinkled on top.

Friday, July 22, 2011

The Art of Hostess-Gift Giving

A few days ago, one of my girlfriends asked for a few suggestions for a hostess gift (for her boyfriend's mother - pressure!!) Finding an appropriate and non-blasé gift can be quite a challenge. Outside of the standard bottle of wine, a few other things could include pretty dinner and/or cocktail napkins from Caspari.
Kitchen towels - especially some that really jump out at you like these from World Market:
Indoor House Plant (if the recipient is in a house or apartment with balcony/natural light)

Gourmet Coffee/Tea
(maybe from a local shop like Breads 'n Cheese of Hershey, Pennsylvania)
If you are not sure if the person drinks flavored coffees, go with something safe like a Breakfast Blend (light roast) or perhaps beans form an exotic place. Breads 'n Cheese carries a dark roast called Malawi Mapanga.

Something unique from where you live - for example if living in DC, bring some Cowgirl Creamery cheese or Baked 'n Wired treats.

Cowgirl Creamery on F Street

Real Simple chimes in on this quandry with some great ideas, even broken down by season. How about some nautical soap when you visit a friend or family member's beach house?

To show some TN love...local picks!
Put together a basket of breakfast goodies like biscuit mix and jam.

and of course...

And when all else fails, you get a last minute invite, you do not plan ahead, the week escapes you, don't go empty handed - for the classic and reliable.
My personal favorite, Chateau St. Michelle Sauvignon Blanc

A Clark Family staple, Red Diamond Merlot.
Rosemont Pinot - if you are not sure if the host/hostess likes red, this is a nice light option.

Best of Intentions

During spring 2011, everything in my life changed. I left a great job in Washington, D.C., married my fiance, Vance, and moved to Nashville. I guess I shouldn't say everything changed - I kept my name, Maura C. Clark. As I anticipated this life overhaul, I was determined to utilize some online space to record the trials and tribulations, excitements and worries, and overall sequence of events of getting married and moving to Nashville. Alas - I have been here for over a month and now I will begin my blog! I had the best of intentions to start this weeks ago, but it is better late than never.
Since our arrival in mid-June, we have done a lot of eating. I find, as a wife (as evidenced by the photo above), I grocery shop and cook - all the time. Seriously?! I did not know this was going to happen. The nights of cereal and white wine dinners appear to be over. My husband is a first year surgery intern at Vanderbilt Medical Center (see Grey's Anatomy minus the sleeping around) so I feel an element of pressure to ensure that he eats a proper meal at least once a day. 
To back track here are a few recipes favorites from the last few weeks.

Chicken and Sweet Potato Curry 
  • YIELD: 7 servings (serving size: about 1 cup)
  • COURSE: Main Dishes
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups vertically sliced onion
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 (14-ounce) can fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 2 cups (1/2-inch) cubed peeled sweet potato
  • 3/4 cup canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup frozen green peas
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1. Combine curry powder, coriander, turmeric, salt, black pepper, red pepper, and bay leaf in a small bowl.
  • 2. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add chicken to pan; sauté 5 minutes or until browned, stirring occasionally. Remove chicken from pan. Reduce heat to medium. Add onion to pan; cook 10 minutes or until tender, stirring frequently. Increase heat to medium-high; return chicken to pan. Cook 1 minute, stirring occasionally. Stir in ginger and garlic; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add curry powder mixture; cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Add broth and tomatoes; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 1 hour. Stir in potato and chickpeas. Cook, uncovered, 30 minutes. Add peas; cook 5 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Remove from heat; stir in lemon juice. Discard bay leaf.

Easy Beef Stir Fry with Brown Rice
We love stir fry - it is such a good way to finish up leftover vegetables. Soy Vay Island Teriyaki is delicious!

Mixed Vegetable Pizza with Lox and Boursin Cheese

Last night, I used a pre-made honey wheat pizza crust, brushed the crust with olive oil and then spread some slightly melted Boursin cheese over it. I had sauteed eggplant, cherry tomatoes, red onion, and spinach in a little herbs de provence for pizza & OO, once the Boursin was spread, I laid smoked salmon lox on the pizza then the sauteed vegetables and topped with a little shredded mozzarella. Delicious and quick!

Lastly, here is a great marinade cookbook that I am working my way through.
There is a delicious sake and soy based Japanese marinade that keeps in the fridge for a few weeks and is perfect for marinating shrimp and beef kabobs. My brother, Bill, loved it when he was visiting us over the 
4th of July!