Monday, April 16, 2012

Waste Not

This was our first weekend fully at home in our new place, with my pantry fully stocked. I had to celebrate by having some friends over and taking my new kitchen for a test drive! I also completed a personal challenge that I've never conquered before: to use up the entirety of the sour cream and whipping cream that I originally bought for recipes that only use a bit of them.

The recipe links in the post go to the full recipes in my public Springpad recipe box. I've got 650+ recipes from around the internet bookmarked in private mode but I'm only going to make them fully public as I cook and adapt them myself. If you're a Springpad user and are interested in seeing the full collection, leave a comment and we can talk :).

I started with spicy cheese breadsticks, inspired by Smitten Kitchen's version. I make them with whole wheat pastry flour and more spice!

For the real spread, I made my version of baked spinach artichoke dip (surprise, it's also spicy!).

The perfect partner for spicy spinach artichoke dip is sweet baked brie! I usually do brie en croute, but the pastry is almost less than a sideshow for me. Just bake the brie and jam til bubbly and dive in with endives and bread!

I don't always like really bitter vegetables, but Belgian endives are a revelation dipped in brie and apricot jam. Add some cubes of crusty wheat bread (and a platter of other vegetables, they're ok too) with sweet and spicy dips and you have a perfect party spread!

After a lovely party, I was left with a large amount of sour cream and heavy cream. Usually, these kinds of ingredients sit in the fridge for a couple of weeks until they spoil. But I had time on my hands and I was determined to use them up in real recipes!

Trader Joes had organic strawberries for a great price, so I tossed them in a little sugar, set them aside to develop a nice syrup, and made sour cream biscuits.

An aside: I don't care what anyone else says, real strawberry shortcake is made with unsweetened biscuits. No cake or sugary "biscuits" involved!

About 3/4 cup of heavy cream beaten till thick and fluffy to dollop on top, and you have heaven in a bowl.

Sunday morning I had a serious pancake craving (it's probably been over a year since I've had pancakes!). It probably came from watching a rerun of the Pioneer Woman's show on Food Network (now that I have cable and a DVR, I can watch all sorts of new things!). I adapted her lemon blueberry pancake recipe to use up the sour cream and subbed in whole wheat pastry flour with some all purpose for her cake flour.

While I grew up picking wild blueberries off the sides of mountains in New Hampshire, I really love the tartness and plump texture of cultured blueberries. Trader Joe's has great organic cultured blueberries in the freezer section!

After breakfast I had so many blueberries left over (I bought two bags) and about a cup of cream left. I had the perfect blueberry cream scones recipe in my Springpad collection, just modified it with whole wheat pastry flour and all cream instead of half cream, half milk.

By this point even A was full, so I sent most of the scones to work and B school study group with him.

Postscript: In the spirit of wasting not, I came up with a dynamite recipe for Saturday night dinner featuring the leftover bread cubes from the party. Panzanella is such a great meal, and I've somehow never made it! This one was inspired by Cambridge 1's tomato mozzarella salad, but I couldn't get the dressing quite perfect. Even so, it was so delicious we didn't even notice that I forgot to buy mozzarella til we were done eating.

It was just as good the next day for lunch with a fried egg (runny yolk underneath, of course) and sweet apple chicken sausage.

Our New Home

On April 1st A and I moved into our very own apartment! We love having our own space and the place is incredibly cozy. I forgot to take proper before photos, but these are a few showing how a previous tenant had the place set up: 

Bedroom before

Living room and kitchen before

Living room before

And here are some snapshots of what we've been able to do so far! I hope to do a lot more in terms of decor, especially on the walls. Enjoy!

We set the bed up against the back wall, which opened up a lot of space in the dressing area. We've been waiting quite a while for a spacious bedroom!

I know it's such a design blog cliche, but I couldn't resist.  I love colors!

Ikea's Tall Marby lamps and vintage orange crates make the bedstands.

A couple of Expedits and a sweet little closet give us all the streamlined clothing storage we need.

There's a light in the closet! Sometimes it's the little things.

Shearling slippers from Bean's are total necessities.

You really have no idea how much an accessible closet means to me.

The previous tenants are to thank for this little piece of genius.

The view from our bed. 

With this nifty shoe cabinet and a couple of Ikea wardrobes  we created a hall closet. No more jackets in the bedroom closet!

Entering the living room.

Our super comfy hand-me-down couch.

The office and Bear Stearns on the loveseat. He's too big to fail. 

Our office is no longer in the bedroom!

Sheers for privacy in the evenings. 

The very first TV either of us ever bought! We are kind of in love. 

Entering my favorite part: our clean and lovely kitchen!

My kitchen island

My pantry, with everything out and easily usable!