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Saturday, December 31, 2011

Friday, December 30, 2011

Colombian Arepas with Roasted Pork and Lethal Garlic Aioli

Meet my arepas!


Arepas are one of our current favorite "quick fix" meals. We learned about arepas on Food Network, and shortly thereafter realized there was a place in our own backyard (figuratively speaking) serving up Venezuelan style arepas: Pica Pica at the Oxbow Public Market in downtown Napa. Pica Pica is now one of our go-to after-church lunch spots. 

Arepas are kind of like a South American white corn pancake, and they vary depending on the country of origin. Venezuelan arepas, for example, are more like pita bread, in that they are split open and stuffed with delicious goodies. Colombian arepas are more like an actual pancake, and are topped with yummy treats.

One of my favorite dishes at Pica Pica is the Pernil Arepa (arepa stuffed with roasted pork, tomato, avocado and garlic aioli), so I decided to try to create my own version of this dish at home. 

I adapted my recipe from these two recipes from food.com:


Let's start with the aioli, shall we? I used sun-dried tomatoes in the aioli pictured. 


Lethal Garlic Aioli

  • 3-4 cloves minced garlic (add more or less, depending on how "lethal" you want the aioli to be)
  • Sun-dried tomatoes OR chipotle peppers in adobo, chopped, to taste (optional, but highly recommended)
  • 1 egg, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups fruity olive oil
  • 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon or lime juice, to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

In a food processor, puree garlic with egg (add sun-dried tomatoes or chipotle peppers in this step, if you are using them). Mix olive oil with lemon or lime juice in a pouring jar. With the food processor running,  start adding oil mixture to food processor VERY SLOWLY. I cannot stress this enough. Add your oil in small little drops at first to ensure the emulsion "takes." Once you notice the mixture becoming creamy, you can increase the pouring rate to a very thin stream. Your arm will probably feel like it's going to fall off -- it won't, I promise. Once you have incorporated all of the oil mixture, add salt and whirl the food processor for an additional 10 seconds. Taste the aioli and add additional salt as needed.

Transfer aioli to a storage container and put in the fridge to chill. We like to keep this on hand for just about any food application....try slathering this aioli over grilled corn, topped with freshly grated parmesan and chopped parsley. So good!!


While the aioli is chilling in the fridge, it's time to make arepas!

Colombian Arepas

1 cup instant masa (made with white corn), or white corn flour
1 cup grated mozzarella (but you could use any cheese you have on-hand)
1 cup water
1/4 cup fresh or canned corn kernels (drained, if using canned corn)
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 vegetable oil

Toss all ingredients, except for the vegetable oil, together in a bowl, and stir until water is incorporated. Let stand for about 1-2 minutes. Knead lightly until it becomes a soft dough. I did not have any corn kernels on-hand when I took these pictures, so just pretend there is fresh corn in the dough below.


Divide dough into fourths, and roll each segment into a ball. Flatten each dough ball between your palms, pressing the edges gently to eliminate cracks.

Heat oil in a large non-stick or cast iron skillet over medium heat until it shimmers. Fry each arepa, turning once, until golden brown on each side (about 2-4 minutes per side)




Drain on paper towels.

Now it's time to dress our arepas. We're big eaters in the Logue house, so Brian and I usually attempt to eat two arepas each, but I recommend serving one arepa per person, and accompanying it with a light salad.

Here's what we used:

  • Sliced avocado
  • Pre-cooked Carnitas from Costco (seriously, this stuff is the best for quick meals! But if you prefer to make your own, I have a great recipe for fall-apart braised pork)
  • Lethal garlic aioli
  • Cotija cheese
  • Chopped red onion

Start by spreading a layer of aioli on each arepa, and topping with avocado slices.


Then add a pile of pulled pork, another dollop of aioli, and red onions. Finish the dish with cotija cheese (and honestly, if you don't have cotija on-hand, this dish still tastes great without it...or you could use another cheese that you DO have on-hand, like parmesan).


Cheers!!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

How to Paint a Rug - Part 2...the Big Reveal!

It's time to finish up my painted rug! As I mentioned in a previous post, my dining table is 9ft long and expands to 12 ft, so I purchased two Ikea rugs with the plan to stitch them together. 

Many of you know I'm an HGTV-junkie, and consequently I've seen Sarah, Candice, and even David (yep, we're on a first name basis) stitch rugs together countless times. How hard could it be?


Famous. Last. Words.

Ok, it wasn't necessarily hard as much as it was tedious and time-consuming. I had to bust out my thimble, which made pushing my needle through the rugs much easier. I'm sure a heavier duty needle would have made the job even easier, but I decided to just tough it out with what I had.

I started by lining the rug edges up together. You may recall that one of my rugs was an inch shorter than the other. I started sewing the edges that did not line up. By doing this I was able to stretch the short rug so that the seam would be.....um....seamless. I spent a lot of time reinforcing the stitch on the edge to make sure it would hold up long-term.


Then I started making the long journey down the width of the rug....up close, you can obviously see the seam, but when you stand further back it's less noticeable and will be even less noticeable once it's under my dining table.


And so, I sewed and sewed until the rug was done. Whilst sewing, I was able to get a good look at the paint job, which had been dry for several days. At that point, I made the executive decision to apply a second coat of paint. I had hoped to avoid more painting, but the color wasn't as deep as I wanted in certain spots. I figured a light second coat of paint should do the trick. And it did!


Of course, Aybee ran all over the rug like a crazy person, causing me to run to the kitchen for Folex and paper towels. Argh. Luckily, my beloved Folex took care of the blue feet marks Aybee left on my white stripes (again).


It's a bit difficult to see the difference in color in the picture below, but in person the color is much more consistent and the blue is deeper and richer. Yay!!


And, now it's time for the big reveal.....To refresh your memory, here's the OLD rug. I never liked how it brought the energy level of the room down. 

BEFORE
Adios old rug!!



And here's the NEW rug:



After these pictures were taken, I ended up adding one of my table leaves to the table, adding an additional 9-10 inches of over-hang to either end of the table. 



Now that I've successfully painted a rug, I think one of my next projects will be to paint my dining chairs. Yep.....PAINT the dining chairs. I got these chairs on super sale from Overstock.com so I didn't have much choice in the color. I'm thinking a light/medium grey with brushed brass nail-head trim will work much better in the room. I found a great upholstered-chair-painting tutorial on Pinterest. I'll be sure to let y'all know how it goes!

Thoughts? Who's ready to paint a rug?


Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Fall-Apart Braised Pork

This is my go-to recipe for braised pork. I usually make a big batch of this and use it in several meals. Enjoy!




Alison's Fall-Apart Braised Pork Ribs


Ingredients

  • Country Style Boneless Pork Ribs – 6-7lbs (Costco, baby!)
  • Salt / Pepper
  • 2-3 cups chicken stock
  • 3-4 tbsp minced garlic
  • EVOO


Directions
  • Preheat oven to 325 F
  • Heat EVOO in dutch oven or heavy bottom skillet (I start with 1-2 tbsp and add more as needed) on medium-high heat. Make sure your pan gets really hot.
  • Pat ribs dry and season them with salt and pepper
  • Brown ribs in pan on all sides (about 3-5 minutes per side) in batches; move ribs to large roasting pan once complete
  • Add chicken stock to roasting pan until liquid level comes up to about three-quarters of the height of the pork
  • Add minced garlic roasting pan
  • Cover with foil (poke a few holes in foil to allow steam to escape)
  • Roast for 3 to 3 ½ hours – flip ribs halfway through cooking time -- until fall-apart tender

I love to use this pork in tostadas, arepas (recipe coming soon!), soups, BBQ pulled pork sandwiches, ragus with pasta, chili, Mother Logue's secret curry recipe (which you won't be seeing on this blog...sorry!) and more!

Click here to print this recipe.

Cheers!

Monday, December 26, 2011

How to Paint a Rug - Part 1

One of the first new pieces of furniture Brian and I bought for our new house was a 9ft (expandable to 12 ft) solid walnut dining table from one of my favorite stores, Madison McCord

Ignore the chairs...those chairs were from our old dining table.
And thus began the search for a rug. I had originally intended to decorate our living and dining room in a monochromatic color scheme -- ranging from creamy whites, to dark grays and taupes, to shiny metallics -- but eventually grew a little bored with the idea. So, I decided royal blue would be a great (and much needed) pop of color.

I scoured the Internet and stores for months, but could not find anything I loved at the right price. I finally did something I don't recommend: I settled. I bought this muted navy flat weave jute rug from Overstock.com. It was a 9' by 12' rug for just over $100, so the price couldn't be beat. And truth be told, it's not awful. I just don't love it. 


So, in the back of mind, I kept thinking there had to be a better rug solution out there. And then I realized the solution was obvious: PAINT!

Several of the blogs I follow had featured tutorials on painting rugs, and I found several more on Pinterest. I used this blog post as my guide, and supplemented a few steps from other various blogs I had read.

I purchased two ERSLEV rugs from Ikea (the larger size, $59.99 each) and laid them out for a day to let the ends of the rug uncurl. The plan with buying two rugs was to eventually stitch them together into one big rug (my table is 9ft on a short day, after all). 


I needed to make a little extra space, so that I could lay the rugs out end-to-end, so I moved the old loveseat to the corner (all by myself, thank you very much!).


Now that the rugs were laying end-to-end (on drop cloths), I measured and tried to figure out how wide my stripes would be. I knew I wanted a wider, more nautical-looking stripe, so I settled on a 9.5" widestripe.

The rugs turned out to not be exactly the same size. They were off by about an inch. Brian and I attempted to stretch the shorter of the two, which seemed to help.....though, I don't recommend trying to stretch a rug in socks on a tile floor (cue bum hitting tile floor).


Every tutorial I had read recommended Frog Tape, so I splurged and picked up a roll.


Using my tape measure, I made my way up and down the rug with the Frog Tape. I used a small piece of tape to mark off the stripes that would remain white, which helped tremendously in keeping track of where I was at.


Aybee didn't appreciate being kicked out of the room.



I kept taping until I reached the end of the first rug -- and quickly realized something was off with my measurements. I had intended for my two rugs to meet in the middle of a blue stripe, but that was not what I ended up with. I double-checked all of my tape marks and they were all the correct length. I still don't know what happened exactly, but I decided I was fine with the surprise, and kept on taping.


Eventually, both rugs were completely taped.


Now it was time to paint! I gathered together all of my supplies:

  • Martha Stewart fabric medium
  • Painting tray (and plastic insert)
  • Regular ol' blue latex paint in a satin finish
  • An assortment of brushes / rollers. I ended up using the small roller for the entire rug, and the foam brush to touch up the edges.



Every tutorial I read mentioned that the project took WAY more paint than they anticipated, so I was prepared and purchased a full gallon. I used just over three quarters of the gallon for both rugs.


The painting process ended up going much faster than I anticipated. It took about 2-3 hours total to do the painting.



Once I finished the stripes, I went back around with my foam brush to touch up the edges of the rug.


I let the rug sit for about two hours.


The color deepened as it dried.


And then it was time to remove the tape....I'm not going to lie, I was really nervous. I definitely had my doubts about the Frog Tape holding up...


I was very PLEASANTLY surprised to find wonderfully straight and generally crisp lines when I removed the tape. Frog Tape, I heart you!


Here's a close-up shot, so y'all can see the texture of the painted sections compared to the unpainted stripes. The rug really absorbed the paint, and the fabric medium kept the texture relatively the same. 


There was only one minor mishap....after I had removed the tape, I caught Aybee inspecting my new creation. Luckily, a little Folex carpet cleaner fixed the damage she did.....but her feet stayed blue for the rest of the day. :)


Sorry momma...
Stay tuned to see how the rug looks stitched together and under my dining table!

Click here to read Part Two of this project.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Elf on the Couch...Eek!

Merry Almost Christmas! Whilst perusing the aisles of Home Good recently, I spotted my husband hustling across the store towards me holding a life-size Elf on the Shelf.....er, rather an "Elf on the Couch." Could you imagine trying to hide this fellow around your house? 

Enjoy his creepy face!



A last-minute Christmas addition...

I gave in. I bought 25 feet of cedar garland for just under $10 at Costco. Our staircase hand-rail was begging for it, and I couldn't resist. Brian put up a good fight, insisting that bringing plants indoors was too much like camping (of which neither of us are fans). But, in the end...the garland came home with us. Yipee!!

Let me start by saying if I knew what a mess this garland would create, I probably wouldn't have purchased it. My floor and stairs were COVERED in garland trimmings. And then, once I had the garland in place, I discovered by way of my right thumb a SLUG that was living in the garland (eeeeeeek!!!). Nevertheless, I had put my big-girl pants on that morning, and was determined to uphold their values by and by, and consequently, the garland remains in our house. 

Aside from the aforementioned challenges, I'm loving the warmth and twinkle the garland is adding to our entry. :)