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Thursday, January 27, 2011

My Baby Shower Invites!



I had ordered these super cute baby shower invites from TinyPrints and I had them sent to my mom's house since I was going to be gone on a long East Coast Trip and they needed to get in the mail. Well, during my trip my mom kept saying she was surprised they hadn't arrived. I didn't understand that since they really should've been there... sure enough they weren't even there by the time I got back. To make a long story short, the problem wasn't with TinyPrints but with the post office, who delivered them a week before the shower, for some odd reason. TinyPrints was super cool about it, sent a second shipment and gave me a great gift card (which I used for some fabulous baby announcements) and really it was a shame all those shower invites will go to waste but maybe I can find a use for them someday if I get out some scrapbooking materials.



Speaking of scrapbooking, about 3 weeks before the shower I had to give up on the ordered invites and figure out a plan B. I wasn't too keen on just buying some crappy invites at a store but I was also really busy and tired so I wasn't sure if I'd have time to make some special ones.
 I decided to just go at least try to find something I could improve upon and headed over to Target. I then went to Michaels to compare, and then back to Target to get these polkadot invites, and then I went back to Michaels to get some materials to dress them up - some card stock, vellum and linen paper, some ribbon, etc.

I covered up the writing on the store-bought invitations with some yellow linen paper and then printed out the invitation writing on some see-through vellum, and I trimmed the top of the invite with some green stitched ribbon with some sparkles. I also printed out some ducky pictures on cardstock and punched them out and mounted them ona thick adhesive to get a 3-D effect. 

I think they turned out super cute and I was even more proud of them than I would've been of my TinyPrints invites, even though it took several hours to put them together. I finally got the shower invites out in the mail and I was super annoyed that they were only a few weeks before the event. Had I known the first ones weren't going to arrive, I would've handmade them ages ago. Then it was time to start working on the shower favors which I was also going to make!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Braised Short Ribs

Welcome to my first post since becoming a Mom! The little guy is 6 weeks old so I guess you could say I'm starting to get a little used to this crazy new lifestyle.

I've seen short ribs mentioned on several of the cooking shows I watch on TV and they always look so good. I've never used them before and I was surprised how expensive they were.. but I think getting 6 to 8 of them, or around 6lbs, was a little more than we needed. However, a lot of the weight is bones and we did have plenty for another big meal. Some day I'd still like to try some asian inspired ones but for now, let's talk about Anne Burrell's recipe which I tried several months ago (but failed to make a blog post!)

The process of making this dish was unlike one I've done before -puree the mirepoix - onions, celery and carrots plus garlic and after browning the short ribs, remove those from the pan and start browning the puree, scraping up the crud, adding the tomato paste, and basically browning everything into a taste flavorful "crud" as she calls it.. you add the wine, reduce by half, and then it's time to throw the short ribs back in the mix, add some water and fresh herbs, and let things go for 3 hours in the oven.

Check out Anne's recipe here, this turned out just delicious. The first night, I served it with celeriac and potato puree which was fabulous. The Husband liked it even better the next day, where I took the meat and sauce and added it to buttery egg noodles. I've heard that braised short ribs are even better served the next day and are often made a day in advance by chefs, so I might try that next time!

This is a very rich dish and it has wonderful flavor, so definitely give it a try if you'd like to try out braised short ribs for the first time like I have, or if this recipe sounds good to you. It's hearty and a sure thing at the dinner table!

Anne Burrell's Braised Short Ribs
As seen on foodnetwork.com

Ingredients


6 bone-in short ribs (about 5 3/4 pounds)
Kosher salt
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 large Spanish onion, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 ribs celery, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 carrots, peeled, cut in 1/2 lengthwise, then cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1 1/2 cups tomato paste
2 to 3 cups hearty red wine
2 cups water
1 bunch fresh thyme, tied with kitchen string
2 bay leaves

Directions

Season each short rib generously with salt. Coat a pot large enough to accommodate all the meat and vegetables with olive oil and bring to a high heat. Add the short ribs to the pan and brown very well, about 2 to 3 minutes per side. Do not overcrowd pan. Cook in batches, if necessary.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

While the short ribs are browning, puree all the vegetables and garlic in the food processor until it forms a coarse paste. When the short ribs are very brown on all sides, remove them from the pan. Drain the fat, coat the bottom of same pan with fresh oil and add the pureed vegetables. Season the vegetables generously with salt and brown until they are very dark and a crud has formed on the bottom of the pan, approximately 5 to 7 minutes. Scrape the crud and let it reform. Scrape the crud again and add the tomato paste. Brown the tomato paste for 4 to 5 minutes. Add the wine and scrape the bottom of the pan. Lower the heat if things start to burn. Reduce the mixture by half.

Return the short ribs to the pan and add 2 cups water or until the water has just about covered the meat. Add the thyme bundle and bay leaves. Cover the pan and place in the preheated oven for 3 hours. Check periodically during the cooking process and add more water, if needed. Turn the ribs over halfway through the cooking time. Remove the lid during the last 20 minutes of cooking to let things get nice and brown and to let the sauce reduce. When done the meat should be very tender but not falling apart. Serve with the braising liquid.