Thursday, January 19, 2012

Party Like a Rock Star

Crostini and bruschetta make the perfect party food. And the Jersey Girl should know, since she is such the partying fool.

Yeah. You got me. That was so five years ago. OK. Make it like 15 years ago.

True. My throwdowns these days are usually a party of three involving The Husband, The Baby and The Wifey/Momma.

But when we’re not playing beer pong or downing Jell-O shots as The Beastie Boys and Nine Inch Nails blare away with me, a raring-to-go Susan, shimmying across the dance floor in my vinyl go-go boots, you will probably find us chilaxing on the couch sharing a bottle of red with a plate of crostini on hand as Evan drops his sippy cup and points to the TV saying “Boo” in reference to his beloved Blue of Blue’s Clues fame.

Reality check: We don’t REALLY play beer pong or do Jell-O shots or listen to Nine Inch Nails at Chez Jersey Girl. Do I look like an animal? Just having a reminiscent moment of my days as a Delta Gamma, that’s what I am-a. I sometimes imagine my house as a skankadelic fraternity basement trapped in the 90s.


Sidenote: I think if I presented The Husband with a tray of Jell-O shots he would probably ask for a trial separation. However, he would totally dig the vinyl go-go boots.

So crostini and/or bruschetta. They sound so fancy pants, right?! So simple to make, peeps. So simple.

No joke: I cooked these babies in September, making use of the final days of the majorly awesome Jersey tomato. Way to stay on top of things, Susan. Good job!!

Procrastination is not my middle name, but “Really Bad Blogger” probably should be. Trust me, when I’m doing my fifth load of laundry of the day, vacuuming, organizing toys and scrubbing the floor, I really REALLY would much rather be blogging.

Maybe if I get a bumper sticker that says, “I’d rather be blogging,” I would more actively pursue this hobby.

Working moms have hobbies?!? Say what?

I’m giving all y’all two recipes: One by Giada and one by moi.

Obviously, the one invented by me – piano teacher by afternoon/night, average mom who is always cleaning by day – is vastly superior to that of Giada De Laurentiis - seasoned Food Network glamazon/New York Times best-selling author/culinary empire owner who probably has a staff of 100. It’s like the choice has already been made for you. Duh.

I made both of these on the same day. And, they were awesome. They go fab with a glass of red wine. But really, who are we kidding? Make that a bottle of wine.

Baked Caprese Salad
4 to 6 servings
From “Everyday Pasta”
By Giada De Laurentiis

1 baguette, sliced ½ inch thick (30 to 36 slices)
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
Roma tomatoes, sliced
Freshly ground black pepper
1 ¼ lbs. fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced
Leaves from 1 bunch of basil

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Arrange the baguette slices on a baking sheet, brush with some of the olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Bake until the bread is pale golden and crisp, about 5 minutes. Top each slice of bread with a slice of tomato and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Top with a slice of mozzarella cheese and sprinkle with salt. Return the baking sheet to the oven until the cheese and tomato are just warm, about 5 minutes.

Arrange the toasts on a serving platter. Top each toast with a basil leaf. Using the brush, drizzle the remaining olive oil over the basil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and serve.

Note from the Jersey Girl: I cooked these at 400 degrees Fahrenheit just because high temperatures from the oven always set off my smoke detector (no matter how often I clean the oven). I snipped the basil into ribbons. Also, I only salted the tomato. Giada goes kind of overboard with the salt, in my very humble opinion. Also, I only made about 12 of these because me and The Husband would NEVER eat that much. Jeez.

Prosciutto Arugula Bruschetta

1 baguette cut into 12 slices
Olive oil for drizzling
12 slices prosciutto
Fresh mozzarella, sliced
Juice and zest of one lemon
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Drizzle the bread with olive oil and place on baking sheet. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes until golden.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl combine lemon juice, lemon zest, 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil and salt and pepper. In a large bowl, toss dressing with arugula.

Place a small bunch of dressed arugula on top of each slice of prosciutto. Place a slice of mozzarella on top of the arugula. Roll up the prosciutto around the arugula and cheese.

Remove crostini from oven and top with prosciutto wraps. Serve!!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

And....... Back

What up, party people?

Yes. The Jersey Girl has been so totally MIA these past few months. Le sigh. Truth is, sometimes I need a break from doing it all. And the blog somehow got buried on my Things to Do List, which has been overrun by a whole list of boring stuff. Yucky.

I'm not a huge believer in the whole New Year's Resolution thang, but I do hereby resolve to get my bootie in gear and recharge the blog. Honest to goodness.

So much has been shakin' in the Jersey Girl Household.

The Husband got a new job!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (Um. I guess you can say we are over-the-moon excited about this development.) We are totally free from the chains of the newspaper world for reals. Yay! And if you've ever been enslaved by the newspaper industry, you know what I'm tawkin' about. Measly pay. Crap hours. 15-hour work days. Delirium. Headaches. Ulcers. Excessive cursing. Paranoia. Heavy drinking. Cranky pants syndrome. It's freakin' awesome! 

Don't get me wrong. The Husband and I didn't walk away from our daily grind in newsrooms empty-handed: For instance, we totally have a stellar vocabulary, exemplary grammatical skills and can work for 12 hours straight without eating. Oh right, and The Husband got to meet me and woo me and make me his woman.

We also made AMAZING friends in the land of newspapers. Lifelong pals, who are just stand-up peeps. So, for that we are blessed.

I'm just so proud of The Husband for taking a leap with his new gig. Woo-hoo! And he loves it! So happy for him!!

Meanwhile, my bubbalicious Baby Evan has turned the big ONE. Seriously, I can't even believe it. He is so big and cuddly and awesome. He had a rockin' time at his Elmo birthday party. And he has been housing the Jersey Girl's eats. For reals. This kid eats everything. I can't even keep up with him. Two weeks ago, I made beef manicotti and he inhaled a portion that The Husband would eat. Comfortably. And he wanted more. Plus blueberries. Plus Mommy's Mango Banana Surprise (really just mango and bananas smushed together in a blender, but my recipe name has so much more allure, right?) Plus cookies. But Evan's got that one all figured out because cookies make the world a better place.

The Babes is not walking just yet. A fact that I am reminded of every day by the fam. But he's pulling himself up and cruising all around. He's rockin' out an impressive vocab. Among his fave words are: tree, zoo and duck. Not too shabby, right? He's got at least eight teeth, maybe more. Of course, whenever Baby Evan is having an off day, I blame teething. So, according to my math he probably has about 50 pearly whites.

Evan had a grand time at Christmas. The Grinch and Charlie Brown are on his hit list, for sure. And of course, he grooved to some Elvis Pressley while his Jersey Girl Momma baked some fabalicious cookies.

Santa hooked him up with some MAJOR gifts, and the grandparents treated him to his first set of tricycle wheels, which he tried out this week and loved. Thanks, Nanny and Poppy! He was stoked about hanging with all of his cousins and aunts and uncles. And he was rightly impressed by the din dins his family whipped up for him. Feast of the Seven Fishes. Holla!

So, I'm sure at this moment, dear readers, you're all like, "What about you, Jersey Girl? What amazing life-changing experiences have YOU undergone in the past two months?"

OMG. You are so not going to believe it?!?!

The Jersey Girl got a haircut.

Seriously. I got nothin.' I think I am officially The Most Boring Girl Who Ever Was. I've organized a closet, and I'm currently cleaning out the basement.


Onto the food....

Balsamic Roasted Tomatoes with Pesto and Goat Cheese.


So super delish. This recipe was inspired by the Barefoot Contessa's Roasted Tomato Caprese Salad.

And when I say "inspired" I really mean that the following scenario transpired: I want to make this, but I'm missing two of the three main ingredients. I so did not have fresh basil or fresh mozzarella in the house, so it was my way or the highway. Sometimes, that's how a recipe comes to life, in my opinion. You gotta do what you gotta do. Plus it was New Year's Day, so no stores were open. Plus, I was recovering from the night before and this is what my muddled mind came up with:

Balsamic Roasted Tomatoes with Pesto and Goat Cheese
Serves 4

6 plum tomatoes, cut in half
Balsamic vinegar
Olive oil for drizzling
1 tsp. sugar
Salt and pepper to taste
2 cloves chopped garlic
4 Tbsp. goat cheese
1 Tbsp homemade or storebought pesto.
1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

Preheat the oven to 275 degrees Fahrenheit.

On a sheet pan, place plum tomatoes cut side up. Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle with sugar, salt and pepper and chopped garlic.

Roast for two hours. The tomatoes will look dry and crispy on top. Remove from oven. Set aside. (I covered mine with foil to keep them warm.)

When ready to serve: Place three tomatoes on small salad plates. Top with 1 Tbsp. of goat cheese in the center of each trio of tomatoes.

In a small bowl, combine pesto with 1 Tbsp. olive oil. Drizzle the pesto oil over each plate. Serve!

This salad was really quite awesome. I can't believe I came up with on the fly. Yay, Susan. This is a good way to make use of winter tomatoes, which are totally not as yummy as summer tomatoes, especially in Jersey.

Here are some updated pics of my wonderful Evan as well. He's so big!!!

Evan's all set for his big B'day extravaganza in November.

Photo shoot for The Jersey Girl Household's 2011 Christmas card.