Wednesday, September 7, 2011

[HOH Recipe Box]: Hurricane Gumbo

As some of you may know, we here in the Nutmeg State have just recovered from a bit of a hurricane.

[via The Day]

My typical reaction to impending inclement weather is to COOK.
Snow Storm? Beef Bourgignone.
Thunder and Lightning? Chili.
Ice Storm? Roast Chicken.

So, what to do when the hurricane's a'comin? Make Gumbo.

A few things to note about gumbo [and this particular recipe]:
  • Real gumbo has okra. I couldn't find any, so it's not represented here. Sorry.
  • Roux: The roux is the heart and soul of any gumbo - don't skimp on this step [step 2 below], be patient and wait for it to be a really rich chocolate color. My dad always said that the time it takes for you to cook the roux is the same as to drink two beers; I find this is a good rule of thumb [plan on stirring for at least 30 minutes!]
  • Sausage: Gumbo typically utilizes andouille. I'm an equal opportunity sausage lover, so whatever your preference is [or, whatever you can find in your local grocery stores] will work well in this dish
  • Added Bonus: Since I have no electricity [and haven't since Sunday morning] I feel I should note that this dish keeps well - even in a cooler! - and almost seems to get better the longer you wait to eat the second round!
  • 4 chicken thighs
  • 1/2 lb. andouille/chorizo/kielbasa (whatever you like)
  • 3 green peppers
  • 1 small onion
  • 3-4 cloves garlic
  • 3 ribs celery
  • 1 28 oz. can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 1/2 c. flour
  • 1/3 c. vegetable oil + 2 tbsp.
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • Tabasco
  • Salt, Pepper
To Do:
  1. Season your chicken thighs - salt, pepper, [garlic powder if you're so inclined], and brown them in 2 tbsp. of vegetable oil in your dutch oven/stock pot over medium heat. When browned on both sides [but not fully cooked], remove and set aside.
  2. Wipe out the pot [seriously, don't use the chicken fat, as tempting as it might be], and add in the 1/3 cup vegetable oil over medium low heat. Add in the flour and begin to stir. And stir. And stir. And stir.
  3. While you stir your roux on a pretty continuous basis, you can chop your veggies: peppers, onions, and celery [otherwise known as the TRINITY] should be about 1/4 inch chop. Garlic can be as fine or large as you like.
  4. Once the roux is nice and dark, add in your chopped vegetables and stir. While these are cooking down, chop up your sausage of choice [bite-sized pieces are best], and pull apart the semi-cooked chicken thighs.
  5. Once the vegetables are soft, add the meat back in, a squirt [or seven] of hot sauce, and give a bit of a stir. Let things get cozy for a few minutes. Many gumbo recipes call for the addition of raw chicken, so don't fret about salmonella - the chicken will cook out completely in the stew.
  6. Add the can of tomatoes, stir.
  7. Add the chicken stock. Cover, simmer, and in an hour or two you can reap the rewards of this fine dish you've just made. Serve over white rice, with an extra side of hot sauce.

    Tuesday, September 6, 2011

    Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand we're back!

    Okay, so we took the summer off. Can you blame us?

    We are officially back in action here at [House of Her], stay tuned for more of our regularly scheduled goodness :)

    Wednesday, June 8, 2011

    Is your Thumb Black [like mine]?

    My thumb is black. So, if you're like me and that short, slightly fatter finger on each of your hands is not-so-very-green, then you should heed this advice. Carefully.

    It's sure great to learn new things and don't worry earth, my attempt at getting you to cooperate is NOT over. But, I've decided [with a little persuasion from the wise mother] that this year, my flowers will flourish and they'll glow and be bright with life [not death like they have in been in previous years].

    Do you know what this takes? LITTLE [to no] INTERFERENCE.

    Here's what I decided to do. I canned the window boxes [although this breaks my heart just a little] and I bought two gorgeous, full hangers for the front steps.

    Exhibit A.

    For the back porch, I did all my regular herbs [they seem to like me just a little bit], but, for lack of space, until a larger house, with a larger yard happens upon my travels, I had to, sadly, can the veggies as well. But, I purchased some more pretty pretty flowers.

    Exhibit B and C.

    I've made a decision. when I'm at the store, driving past a garden center or nursery, etc., I'm going to pick up more plants. A few here. A few there. and soon, my back porch will be a garden haven. That's the goal anyways. And then I'll be back with more [photos].

    Thursday, June 2, 2011

    Taxidermy. And Faux Taxidermy. AS ART.

    I have a bit of an fascination with taxidermy. You know, 'the act of mounting or reproducing dead animals for display' [says Wikipedia]. It's not technically the 'act' of the 'mounting' that I'm interested in, though. I'm more interested in the finished product. Or, really, the idea of seeing a dead animal hanging on the wall. And by 'dead', what I really mean is preserved and beautiful. That was a little long-winded [my apologies]. I think it's very interesting, as a form of art, when used in the correct room or setting.

    I mean, how perfect do these deer look? The animal printed textiles make it. And the cricket print? These people are really obsessed, huh?

    How about this bird sanctuary. Can you really look at this and say, in completely honesty, that you don't want an owl displayed in your house/apartment/condo?

    So what if you have quite found the right spot in your home? Or, maybe you don't have the right space for a taxidermic display.

    Well. We've got options for you. 

    There's quite a selection over at Williams-Sonoma...

    Urban Outfitters has a couple of options. 

    For a measly $98 [or so measly when compared to the real stuff], the Deer Trophy Wall Sculpture is perfect.

    And, for a slightly lower price and drastically different look, check out the Giant Cardboard Taxidermy, for $52.

    And never, ever forget Etsy! Check out this AWESOME orange Moosehead for $125. 

    So, there you have it. Faux Taxidermy, at it's finest. I still swear, when I find the right space, I'll have a deer hanging on my wall. Beware. Until then, I'll stick to the fake stuff.

    Wednesday, June 1, 2011

    [HOH Recipe Box]: Garbage Salad

    Do not be alarmed, fair readers - the name of this dish should not deter you from reading further.

    Garbage Salad is, in my life anyway, the stuff of legends. My mother has been making it for as many summers as I can remember, and I look forward to the first garbage salad of the season - without fail - each May. It's not for everyone (my esteemed pal Dena is no fan), but for those of you who think it might be up your alley, you simply must give it a whirl.

    1 lb. regular pasta (NOT whole wheat, has to be plain, and some sort of short macaroni style - whatever you fancy).
    1 package frozen green peas
    1 pt. cherry/grape tomatoes
    6-8 hard boiled eggs
    2 cans chunk light tuna in water
    1 c. mayo (or so, depends on how moist you like your pasta salad)
    Salt and Pepper

    To Do:
    1. Set water to boil, do the pasta thing as per usual.
    2. When the pasta is pretty much cooked, dump the bag of peas into the pasta water (with pasta still in it) to quickly thaw/cook them. Strain pasta/peas and run some cold water over to bring the temp down and avoid overcooking
    3. Hard boil eggs (I like the 10 minute method - cover eggs with cold water, set on high heat to boil and once they start boiling shut the heat off and let them sit for 10 minutes - never fails)
    4. Halve your tomatoes (makes for easier forking)
    5. Drain tuna, separate with fork into mixing bowl
    6. Combine everything, starting with a little over 1/2 c of mayo and adding gradually to desired creaminess.
    7. Salt and Pepper to taste.

    Sure, the ingredients are totally pedestrian. Sure, it may be close to some other tuna macaroni salad you've had before. Sure, the combination of eggs and tuna weirds some people out.

    None of this matters. Garbage salad is summer cookout perfection on a plate. Serve it up for your next bbq and I guarantee you'll have many, many fans.

    Friday, May 27, 2011

    [Glorious Friday]: Memorial Day Weekend

    Memorial Day Weekend marks the unofficial start of Summer.

    Summer! Beach! Barbecues! Sunburns! Driving with the windows down!

    I'm planning to celebrate this momentous occasion with a little barbecue for some friends on Sunday, but mostly by finally planting my vegetable garden. [From what I understand, Memorial Day is pretty much the last weekend that you can plant and still see some results! Talk about making a DEADLINE!]

    Tim and our favorite horticulturalist friend Robert, planting our very first veggie garden last Summer

    Last year was our first season with a real, official vegetable garden, so we've learned from our mistakes and are looking forward to oh-so-many tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, and eggplant...

    How are you celebrating this Memorial Day?

    Thursday, May 26, 2011

    Jewelry making

    So I've been spending some time creating jewelry lately. Namely earrings. And I must tell you, It's been very therapeutic. I've been saying for, [let's just say] a while, that I'll open a store on Etsy and I haven't quite gotten there, BUT, my inventory is growing, so perhaps in the near future?

    Anywho. On to the real stuff [enough of my chitter-chatter]. What do I make and how do I make it? I hammer metal. My mother took a class a few years back and she taught me and now, it's my preferred method of jewelry creation [it does let out a bit of aggression as well].

    So, I start with wire.

    And I cut the wire [and shape it].

    Oh, and these are my tools. My wire cutters. My hammer. And my wire shaper.

    So after shaping the wire, I hammer it.

    So that it looks like so.

    And then I play with different beads and different ear wires. And make a variety of different styles.

    See here. 

    And here.

    My earrings are for sale at Pinc! in Downtown New London. Visit awesome store owner Kim Pettey!!!

    Tuesday, May 24, 2011

    Weekend Getaway: Provincetown, Cape Cod

    P-Town, as it's so affectionately known, holds a special place in my heart [honeymoon location]. That subjectivity aside, it's a perfect weekend getaway destination. A relatively easy 3 hour drive from New London, it's close enough to be accessible on a whim, and far enough away that you're still 'on vacation'. If you're lucky enough to find yourself headed that way, here are a few of my personal (tried + true) favorites:


    Inexpensive (as it goes in any seaside destination township), and quite tasty to boot. Very vibrant late-night crowd.

    Excellent, excellent, excellent food. Simple yet creative and accompanied by an impressive beer selection. Bartenders that can shuck oysters are a definite plus.

    Perfect stop for a divine breakfast sandwich or any one of their perfect, authentic Portuguese pastries.

    Epic happy hour - $1 oysters and clams. We order ours by the dozen!


    Perhaps a little heavy on the 'enchanted fairy' factor at first blush, but this shop is home to some of the most unique home accessories I've ever seen. Totally affordable, and the owners are just to die for if you know what I mean.

    More unique finds for the home with a gothic-meets-nautical aesthetic. A bit pricey, but worth every penny!

    Your typical selection of conch shells and shark teeth, but also some really unique ocean artifacts if you're into that sort of thing.

    No words necessary.


    The darkest bar I've ever had the privilege of drinking in. This has it's benefits, especially as the hours pass.

    Impressive beer selection and talented bartenders makes for a fun afternoon of trying some new things.

    Uh, Squealing Pig (again)
    Great atmosphere makes it easy to stay looooooong after you've finished your meal -
    maybe even long enough to eat the next one there too.

    Provincetown is full of fun things to do - a diverse offering of art, lots of cute shops (some budget friendly, some notsomuch), tons of fantastic dining options, nice stretches of beach, and all sorts of other nooks and crannies that are fun to get lost in for an hour or so. Whether you plan a day trip or a week-long getaway you can't go wrong; as the saying goes - If you're lucky enough to be in P-Town, you're lucky enough.

    Monday, May 23, 2011

    [HOH Recipe Box]: Shishhhhhhh Kebabs

    I won't try to tell you that skewering meat is a new concept. HOWEVER - when you're stuck in that proverbial culinary rut [as I find myself in from time to time], it's an easy way to incorporate a little *inexpensive* variety into your weekly menu.

    • 4 small boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1 in. cubes
    • 1 lb chuck shoulder steak/london broil, cut into 1 in. cubes
    • marinade - any combination of soy sauce, barbecue sauce, sweet chili sauce, fresh herbs, etc.
    • assorted vegetables - check what produce is on sale that week or what you happen to have hanging out in your fridge. i used 1/2 a vidalia onion, 1 small green bell pepper, 1/2 pt. grape tomatoes, 1/2 medium eggplant, and 6-8 medium sized crimini mushrooms
    To Do:
    1. Marinate meats separately in whatever sort of marinade you're into. I did a combination of sweet chili, soy sauce, fresh ginger, garlic, and a touch of mirin for the chicken thighs, and a bottled balsamic vinaigrette (*gasp!) for the steak. Whatever you choose, just make sure it packs a ton of flavor, you can't really over do it.
    2. Large dice vegetables - about 1 in. square pieces.
    3. To assemble skewers, I recommend keeping your proteins and vegetables separate from each other. So, do separate all chicken skewers, steak skewers, and mixed vegetable skewers instead of mixing it all together. Each of these have different cooking times and there's just no point in denying that.
    4. Don't forget to season the skewers - a little salt and pepper before they go on the grill.
    5. Grill on medium heat [275-300], turning periodically. Steak should take about 8-10 minutes, chicken and vegetable skewers will have similar times, about 15 minutes.
    That's it! A little bit of prep and forethought required, but overall this is a delicious, simple, inexpensive [less than $5/person] way to mix up your weekly dinner routine. Pair with simple green salad and you're good to go.

    Friday, May 20, 2011

    Glorious Friday: Weekend Warrior

    As I sit contemplating my weekend I realize I have absolutely nothing planned. Nothing.

    How often does that happen?

    What to do?
    I need to find some fabric to inspire my guest-bedroom makeover so perhaps I'll go fabric hunting?
    Maybe I'll clean up the basement?
    Organize my office and go through the stacks and stacks of paper that needs to be filed?
    Perhaps I'll get a pedicure? Or have Dena teach me how to do it myself, she's good like that.
    Maybe I'll finally clean out the closets and finally make that donation to Goodwill?
    Plant my vegetable garden? Cut the grass?
    Maybe I'll hit up the Saturday 8 am power yoga class I haven't been to in.... forever?

    Or maybe I'll find a park with a swing like this one:
    and just spend a few hours swinging to see how that feels.

    Ah, Glorious Friday. The possibilities are endless.

    Wednesday, May 18, 2011

    [HOH Recipe Box]: Super-Easy Side Dish #2

    Made this little beauty last night, sort of last minute and again without much of a plan or idea of how it would turn out. Result was a delicious, seasonal, super-easy side dish that I think will go with just about anything.

    Sauteed Zucchini and Cherry Tomatoes

    Olive Oil
    Minced Garlic (I used 3 big cloves, if you like more or less garlic then just adjust to your taste)
    1 Zucchini, sliced on 1/4 inch bias
    1 pt. Cherry/Grape Tomatoes
    Salt, Pepper

    To Do:
    1. Heat oil in large skillet - medium heat. Add your minced garlic
    2. Once the garlic starts to brown, add your zucchini in one flat layer so that it can brown up on one side. Let sit for a minute or two, be sure to watch the garlic because it can go from golden goodness to burnt yucky mess in a nanosecond.
    3. Turn your zucchini over to the other side, let sit for another few minutes.
    4. Add tomatoes, roll around in the saute pan to coat with olive oil.
    5. Salt and Pepper (maybe a little crushed red pepper?)
    6. Return to heat, stirring occasionally but trying not to burst open the tomatoes.
    7. [Optional]: I put the whole pan into the oven to finish it, because I like my tomatoes a bit roasty [350, for about 10 minutes]. If this is not your thing, just keep it on the stovetop until the tomatoes have reached your desired texture.

    Tuesday, May 17, 2011

    Interweb Inspiration: Bathroom Makeover ideas.

    The interweb is a funny place. Social networking, perhaps even funnier. And I guess by 'funny', what I really mean is that there's just so much you can do there. The possibilities are endless. And. how did we get here?

    Who would have thought, back from the days when AOL first came out (although my family cheaped out with Prodigy) and the 'world wide web' was a scary, unknown territory, that we'd soon have something called FACEBOOK. And dating would be commenced online? It's no longer used just for games. It's used for EVERY answer to EVERY question you have. Medical questions, history questions, decorating questions. You name it; the interweb's got it.

    For me, inspiration is one of the best things I have found, to date, on the interweb. I can get inspired about recipes; inspired about clothing and best of all, inspired about DECORATING MY HOUSE.

    There are SO many resources and my recent fave: PINTEREST. It's incredible. It's like an enormous collection of all things pretty. Well, that's actually what it is.

    Although my kitchen is still underway (photos to come, but not until it's complete!), my next project is my bathroom. Currently, the walls are yellow but it's majorly lacking character. I've thought about bringing in some black.


    God, I love the interweb. What are your favorite inspiration sites? 

    Friday, May 13, 2011

    [Glorious Friday]: My beautiful Niece.

    This wonderful friday - the sun is shining. I worked hard all week, so I may get out in time to enjoy a couple hours of this great weather.

    AND, I am celebrating the birth of my beautiful new niece, Porter Carmela Marsh!

    Thursday, May 12, 2011

    An Ode to Dena

    I've been nonstop studying for the last few weeks - every spare moment spent reviewing the Chevron 2-Step, Article III of the Constitution, and Miranda warnings. No time for fun, or sleep, or eating. No time for House of Her.

    And so, I write today to honor my incredible friend Dena, who has so gracefully picked up my sorry-ass slack and kept motoring through while I mostly just complained and collapsed into a miserable pile of law school crap.

    Dena, you are a rockstar friend.

    Thank you for listening to my bitchy rants, for truly appreciating and understanding my obsession with old linen napkins and antique glassware, for encouraging me to freaking relax about the dogs running all over the house and jumping on my furniture, for calling me out when I'm being patently unreasonable or totally ceits...

    Thank you for letting me be a part of your fabulous House of Her - I'm honored that you maybe, possibly think I'm equal to the task.

    Besides being leaps and bounds cooler than me, you've got style, you're smart, you're fun, and I all around just... love you.

    The fact that this [albeit awesome] picture is the only one I have of us is pretty pathetic. Let's put 'having a normal picture taken of us' on our list of priorities.

    Tuesday, May 10, 2011

    [HOH Recipe]: Lentil Intrigue. Recipe Roundup.

    I'm [VERY] intrigued by lentils. What do I mean, you ask? Well I'm ALWAYS drawn to photos of lentils; I'm always drawn to recipes for lentils. But, I don't quite know what to do with them. I've read through some recipes over the years, but being a recipe deviant, I've never quite caught on to the process. I want to want to make them, but I'm scared, I guess.

    I'm determined, ladies and gents, to make some lentils tonight. Perfect lentils.

    So I've done some [much needed] research. I've found a few recipes. And here's what I have for you.

    A few pointers...

    Salt only AFTER cooking the the lentils; if added during cooking, lentils may become tough.

    Use a 2 to 1 ratio of water to lentils.

    Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and then reduce to simmer.


    Okay, so that's enough pointers, now some recipes [and photos]. These were the first that caught my eye and that's generally how I base most recipes [silly, perhaps?].

    The first is [what is looking like] my favorite.

    Lentils with Broiled Eggplant from The Kitchn.

    Runner up, from 101 Cookbooks, Lentil Almond Stri-Fry.

    And finally, from one of my ALL-TIME faves [Cannelle et Vanille]: Ivory Lentil Salad. This photo was just too gorgeous, I couldn't resist.

    How do YOU prefer your lentils? Any cooking tips you'd like to share?

    Friday, May 6, 2011

    [HOH Glorious Friday]: Mom Love

    In case you may have forgotten, Sunday is the Mother of All Holidays - Mother's Day.

    If you're lucky enough to be able to, do take some time to thank the woman who made it all possible for you to have the fabulous life you have.

    [Thanks, Mom]


    And I want to send a little shout out to my mother. For being amazingly inspirational and tender-hearted. For making me laugh eventhough you make me do corny things, like have a photo shoot on the beach...

    This Mother's Day, I'll be teaching my mother how to make Risotto. It's one those things that she thinks she can't make [but I know she can!]. Can't wait!

    So, thanks mom, for teaching me how to cook, so that I can re-teach you.

    Thursday, May 5, 2011

    [HOH Fashion]: Raiding the Sale Rack

    With the warmer weather just on the horizon, it's about that time to be thinking of a few fresh updates to your summer wardrobe. Here are some favorites from everybody's favorite; Anthropologie

    All cute, all less than $50.

    Plains Ranger Shirt Dress $39.95

    Rise and Shine $49.95
    [Poblete, this one has you written all over it!]

    Antilles Tank $39.95
    [Paired with last year's white skinny jeans?]

    Endless Horizon $29.95

    Fanning Button Up $39.95
    [Perfectly chic for a bikini cover-up]

    Streaming Cocoon Wrap $49.95
    [For those chilly Summer evenings]

    Coral Sun Scarf $29.95

    Palm Shade Loafers $49.95

    Ah, I can almost smell the ocean air....