broccoli cheese soup & panini

this is such an easy recipe and it is so yummy. i always make a version of emeril’s recipe. you can find his recipe here. the soup is perfect by itself but is more filling when served with a simple turkey panini. i didn’t make the croutons today but his recipe for the croutons is so, so good.

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a few tips:

  • use leeks instead of onions for a more mild onion taste- i usually prefer leeks when cooking soups.
  • use leftover hotdog or hamburger buns when making the croutons. the buns were made with butter in the bread so they made the croutons extra tasty and rich.
  • i like to split up the cheddar and do sharp cheddar for half of the amount instead of medium cheddar for the whole amount.
  • i know it’s an extra step but shredding your own cheese is so much better. the cheese melts so much smoother when it is freshly shredded. it doesn’t have extra powders and additives that packaged shredded cheese does. it is so much yummier!

enjoy!

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broccoli cheese soup & panini

cheese plate

one of my favorite things in the world is a good cheese plate. they can be served simply with a few types of cheese or extravagantly with cheese, meats, nuts, honey, olives, etc. depending on what I have in my fridge, I often throw together a cheese plate, open a bottle of wine and relax. a great cheese plate with red wine has to be one of my favorite evening activities. my husband and I like to enjoy them on the back patio when the weather is nice.

here is a simple cheese plate a put together for a little before-dinner tappas. I use balsalmic vinegar in a lot of my cooking. dipping bread into oil and balsalmic vinegar is one of my yummy guilty pleasures. I usually add a mixture of Italian seasonings, salt and pepper into the oil mixture. I could eat it every day. on this cheese plate, I served sliced baguette with tunisian olive oil, balsalmic vinegar, italian salami, manchego and burrata. super simply but a yummy treat and a fun way to sit and chat.

cheese

this cheese plate was made in anticipation of some girls coming into town for a “ladycation” weekend. I set out burrata, manchego, brie, sliced tomatoes tossed in olive oil and crushed garlic cloves, walnuts and salami. we of course also needed the bubbles to toast to a fun weekend. thanks to my sister for the super cute stemless pink flutes! cheese 2try your hand at making a cheese tray and play around with it. you’ll love it!

cheese plate

italian rigatoni & spicy meatballs

italian_rigatoni_w_spicy_meatballs__ copy

this is one of my favorite easy recipes. you can go all out and make your own marinara sauce or you can use a big short cut and buy your favorite jar of store-bought marinara and enhance.

ingredients for the meatballs:

  • 1/2 cup finely diced onions (optional- i didn’t use them)
  • 2 teaspoons evoo
  • 2 crushed & minced garlic cloves
  • 1/4 cup parmesan reggiano
  • 1 1/2 pounds of ground meat (I used 1/2 pound beef, 1/2 pound veal, 1/2 pound spicy italian sausage)
  • 1 cup italian breadcrumbs
  • 2-3 tablespoons fresh chopped italian parsley
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)

directions for meatballs:

  1. begin by heating up the extra virgin olive oil in a sauce pan. add garlic and the onion. cook until soft.
  2. preheat oven to 350 f.
  3. mix the meats, breadcrumbs, parmesan, parsley, salt, water and red pepper flakes.
  4. sear meatballs for a few minutes in a pan just to brown the outside.
  5. finish cooking the meatballs in the oven for 15 minutes.

ingredients for assembly:

  • cooked rigatoni pasta
  • 2 table spoons of evoo
  • 1/2 cup mozzarella
  • 1 jar of your favorite marinara sauce
  • parmesan to taste
  • red pepper flakes to taste
  • fresh chopped italian parsley to garnish

for the assembly:

  1. cook rigatoni according to package.
  2. heat extra virgin olive oil in large sauce pan. my favorite is the le creuset “every day pan.”
  3. add crushed garlic, salt, italian seasoning and any other spices that you’d like until browned.
  4. add your favorite jar of marinara sauce and mix together.
  5. add cooked rigatoni.
  6. add mozzarella, parmesan, and meatballs. mix together.
  7. bake in oven for 2 minutes.
  8. top with italian parsley garnish and serve.

enjoy!

italian rigatoni & spicy meatballs

Glassware

 tour glassI’ve already admitted that I have an obsession to linens. Did I mention that I am completely in love with glassware? I LOVE GLASSES! Most of my glassware is out of the “Tour” collection from Crate and Barrel. You can find that here. I think they’re beautifully made and a great size. They also aren’t so expensive that you can’t replace them when you inevitably break them.

I have several sets of champagne glasses. They are my favorite glass to collect. Here are a few of the glasses that I have sets of:

These are out of the Verve collection. They’re so fun and sturdy. My parents have a huge set of these and they’re so fun to pull out and use.

verve champagneThese are out of the Tour collection as well. Gorgeous, tall flutes. I love flutes that are taller than my water goblet when I’m eating dinner and these are perfect ones for setting the table for a celebratory dinner. tour champagneMy sister Amber shares my love of glassware and she is probably the reason why I am so obsessed. She surprised me and sent me a set of these fun, pretty stemless flutes that I have been drooling over from CB2. Aren’t they so fun!? I can’t wait to use them for a girl’s night! cylinder-pink-flute

They’re so fun to mix and match and you’ll be surprised how much you use them. Plus, getting new champagne flutes means you need to test them out— it’s always good to have a reason to pop a bottle!

I think these are going to be my next acquisition. I am in love with this Cow Horn Whisky Tumbler Set from the lovely shop Rose and Fitzgerald. How awesome are these? tumbersStart a collection of your own if you haven’t already!

 

Glassware

ANVIL BAR & REFUGE

I met my husband for happy hour at Anvil off of Westheimer in the Montrose neighborhood. It’s our fave happy hour in Houston. Their drinks are fabulous and the service is incredible. The bar tenders are incredibly knowledgeable and friendly anvil

I started off with a “Zombie” which is always one of my favorites. The Zombie is a yummy mix of Nicaraguan rum, lemon, lime, pineapple, passion fruit and angostura bitters. zombie

This is the “Millionaire.” It is a fruity mix of Jamaican rum, lime, apricot liqueur, grenadine, and Sloe gin. I really enjoyed this one too. Love the presentation. I love gin so this was one of my favorites. millionaireI finished things off with a glass of champagne. Josh and I made friends with the two guys next to us at the bar and the bartender gave them and Josh a partial glass of champagne to toast to me on the house! It was such a nice gesture. Every time we go, Anvil gives us something like that and we love it! It keeps us coming back and we feel like family every time we go.

Everyone needs to make it over to Anvil Bar & Refuge! Their happy hour is Monday- Friday from 4-5 pm.

ANVIL BAR & REFUGE

TOM KHA GAI

What a fun dinner! This is one of my favorite dishes when we go out for Thai food. My favorite Thai restaurant is Thai Kitchen in Austin on Guadalupe. There I was, sitting in Houston craving Thai Kitchen so I decided to make Tom Kha Gai (I believe it translates to ‘chicken coconut soup’) myself! My mother in law makes this soup during the Christmas holidays and my husband has always loved it. I have looked and combined many recipes to create my own.thom kha gai

Ingredients:

  • 1 half package of cellophane or vermicelli noodles (or more if you like, it doesn’t matter)
  • 2 Thai peppers (or jalapenos) seeded and sliced
  • 3 minced cloves of garlic
  • Salt to taste
  • 6 cups of chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon of ginger, grated
  • 1 teaspoon lime zest
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 1/8 cup lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoons of fish sauce
  • 1-2 cups of sliced white or shitake mushrooms (you can also use any other kind that you have)
  • 1 cup of coconut milk
  • 1 cup of spinach
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breats- cut these into skinny strips
  • Few teaspoons of chili oil for garnish
  • Few tablespoons of chopped coriander for garnish.

Here is my recipe:

  1. Begin soaking your vermicelli or other cellophane noodles in boiling water for about 10 minutes or until tender, then drain.
  2. In a medium pot on medium-high, add the grated ginger, lemon juice, lemon and lime zest, salt, garlic, fish sauce and Thai peppers. Cook 2 minutes.
  3. Add chicken broth slowly and bring to a simmer.
  4. Add mushrooms. Simmer 3 minutes.
  5. Add coconut milk and chicken. Cook for about 4 minutes or until the chicken is cooked all the way through. Add the spinach and cook 1 more minute until the spinach is wilted.
  6. Using tongs, divide the noodles into the bowls and then ladle the soup on top.
  7. Top with chopped coriander and a few sprinkles of chili oil.

You could also get creative and add in more veggies such as snap peas or top with other garnishes. Ours was delicious and I can’t wait to make it again!

 

TOM KHA GAI

table settings

I love setting my table and admiring how pretty it is. As I’ve posted before, collecting table linens is one of my favorite things. I love having different ones that I can switch around. Crate and Barrel always has fun patterns and Mark and Graham have some beautiful, classic ones. Here are the ones pictured in the photo below of my dining table.

china

Here are some fun napkins that I found online from Crate and Barrel and Pottery Barn.

helena-blush-napkin

Isn’t this linen blush napkin so gorgeous? Pick some up for your Mother’s Day brunch in May!

dot napkin

How gorgeous are these dot napkins from Pottery Barn? They’re perfect for a summer salad on the patio.

Start collecting your own fun table linens and I’m positive you’ll catch the addiction!

table settings