Rub a Dub Dub?

In my house, we have been getting really into cooking with rubs lately. Although I don’t have much experience with them (I used to be a standard marinade kind of girl), I have been really pleased with the results, and they are usually very easy and quick!. Below is an excellent recipe that we tried out last night on a flank steak – mmmm, read meat. It was slightly smoky (the cumin) and a little spicey. The best thing was, I had all of the ingredients already in my spice cabinet.
Give it a try!

Blackened Grilled Flank Steak (Cooking Light July 2007)
1 tablespoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons hot paprika
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoon ground red pepper
1 2lb flank steak, trimmed of fat
Mix the first 7 ingredients together in a small bowl. Rub mixture all over both sides of the steak. Cover and refrigerate 3 hours. Prepare grill or grillpan and grill to your desired degree of doneness.


Bikini Cake

Now that summer is in full swing, I'm sure that some of you are throwing parties to celebrate the season. The cake below can be decorated as a bikini or as an underwear set for lingerie showers. (This example was made by our talented friend Liz for an engagement party.) You just need a standard rectangular cake pan, cake batter, and a steady hand. Bake the cake and cut as shown. Then you are free to decorate it any way you like. When Liz made the cake she cut the bottoms down so they would be a little bit skimpier. (In case you are having a hard time seeing, the triangular shapes that are left over after cutting the bottom are flipped to create the top portion of the bikini.) Warning: The icing is not easy to apply! Take your time on the raw edges. - LG

Wedding Wednesday: The Wedding

Our bouquets were primarily white, with the most wonderful smelling freesias.

Because it was a beach wedding, the color scheme was steel blue and white, with starfish decorating all the stationery and tying everything together. The bridesmaids dresses were by Jenny Yoo. They were very well made, and flattering to all ten maids.

The starfish theme was continued with the seat assignments. Each starfish had a small card attached by a silver ribbon.

In keeping with the groom's love of UVA sports, the martinis were chilled in a Virginia sabre ice luge.
A view of the ballroom upon entry:

The place settings included a menu and a sand dollar cookie. The menu featured:
  • She Crab Soup En Croute
  • Romaine and Baby Spinach Salad with a choice of Balsamic Vinaigrette or Buttermilk Parmesan Dressing (I chose the Buttermilk Parmesan option, and it was so good.)
  • Hereford Filet Mignon and Mediterranean Wild Salmon, Miniature Idaho Potatoes, Vegetables (The Salmon had some sort of stuffing- I will let Farrell explain when she comes back- and it was excellent.)
  • Sorbet (with an edible flower!)
The tables alternated centerpieces. Some had flowers...

Others had candles:
The happy couple during their first dance. (They are fantastic dancers- I wish I could share a video because they have some serious moves.)

The cake!
It was a beautiful event- elegant, perfectly coordinated, and fun! - LG

Rehearsal Dinner

Farrell's wedding was amazing, as expected. I have a ton of pictures, so I am going to break them up and post a little bit at a time this week.

The Rehearsal Dinner was at a restaurant on the beach. Everything was very relaxed, and a great time was had by all. The signature drink at the restaurant was the Orange Crush (yum) and the signature dish was the crabcakes. Most people chose the crabcakes, and they were delicious.

Seating was assigned by table, which was a great plan considering the number of people in attendance. Here is a picture of the cute placecards:

A mysterious plastic looking pirate ship which haunted us all made its first appearance during the Rehearsal Dinner:

Our very cute bridesmaids gifts, which included a monogrammed towel, two tote style bags (one monogrammed), Bliss sunblock and J. Crew flip-flops (very much appreciated the next day):

More pictures tomorrow! -LG

Wedding Wednesday: How Much?

Earlier this week Yahoo ran a small article about a topic that always makes me nervous: How much should one spend for a gift when attending a wedding? Does it matter if one is in the bridal party? Does that mean the amount should go up (because this indicates a strong connection to the bride and groom) or down (because of the money spent on dresses, showers, etc.)? Some people say that spending $50 per guest (ie, $100 if you are bringing a date) is appropriate. According to one reader on Yahoo, anything less than $250 per guest is considered insulting in New York City. What do you all think? And is it too risque to suggest throwing the rules out the window and just spending according to one's own financial situation? - LG

Just so everyone knows, this will be the last post of the week due to Farrell's wedding! I will be back on Monday (ok, maybe Tuesday) to report on all the pretty details.


Generally I dislike a lot of clutter around the house. Additionally, I have always thought that a picture frame is sort of a cop-out move in the realm of gift giving. However, I recently bought one at a local store that has changed my opinion on both counts. It is by Two's Company which, according to the website, is "one of the leaders in the giftware industry." If my picture frame is any indication, their items are reasonably priced and very cute. (Sorry about the quality of the picture!) - LG

Baking Soda: It's Magic

Recently MC posted a really interesting solution for cleaning silver. It involved baking soda and boiling water (you will have to read her blog to find out more) and reminded me that baking soda is really a fantastic item. Here are some more great tips, courtesy of Real Simple magazine. My favorite innovative use is as an exfoliant. Although they don't mention it here, I have read elsewhere that this is a really good way to reduce blackheads. And best of all, baking soda is cheap, cheap, cheap, and it doesn't hurt the environment. - LG

Wedding Wednesday: To Preserve or Not to Preserve?

So, I picked up my dress and veil today, and I am so excited that they are finally in my possession! The seamstress did a fabulous job with the alterations, and it came back flawlessly from the cleaners, where it was getting spot cleaned and pressed.

The boutique gave me a whole slew of paperwork to review when I brought my dress home, including a one-pager on wedding-dress preservation done by the dry-cleaners. It got me thinking – you always hear the horror stories about those girls who send their dresses away to be “preserved,” and they come back in the air-tight, light-proof box that gets stored under the bed. A few years later, the owner slyly opens the box (which of course they were not supposed to do), only to discover the $5,000 wedding dress has been replaced with a child’s christening gown. And of course, the preservation company claims no responsibility.

Anyway, I haven’t decided yet what to do with my dress. In reality, no one is ever going to wear it again, but it is worth it to spend all that money to have it cleaned and stored?

What have you all done? Any good stories?

I can’t promise a Wedding Wednesday next week, as we will be in the throes of preparation, but we will return soon with PLENTY of pictures from the nuptial weekend!

The Perfect Kitchen

Back in May there was an article in the New York Times called "The Minimalist: A No Frills Kitchen Still Cooks." Unfortunately, I cannot set up a link because it is a Times Select article. However, the basic premise is that a good cook really just needs a minimally stocked kitchen of low cost items- no designer wares necessary.

I started thinking about this because I am trying to cook dinner in someone else's apartment in a few weeks, and they have an extremely bare kitchen. Can I really pull off pasta with shrimp, garlic and anchovies with little more than a pot and a fork? It seems unlikely, but I might have to give it a try.

So here is the challenge: if you were limited to five items for cooking, what would they be? My picks are:
  1. A good medium sized knife
  2. A mixing bowl set
  3. A pot for boiling water / making sauces, etc.
  4. A deep sauce pan
  5. A spatula or a whisk- I can't decide?!?

So what am I forgetting? (And I promise that I will take pictures during the making of said dinner. I suspect it will either be hilarious, or I will cry. Maybe both.) - LG

Mexican food is by far my favorite kind of food, but admittedly, I did not develop a taste for guacamole until about a year ago. Now, I just cannot get enough – especially when it is homemade! One of our friends uses the recipe below, and it is the best I have ever had!
Give it a try!

3 ripe avocados
1/4 c. chopped fresh cilantro
Juice from 1 lime
1 Tbsp. salt
1 or 2 tomatoes, chopped

Peel and pit the avocados, chop into small cubes. Add avocado, salt, lime juice into bowl. Mash with a potato masher. Add cilantro, mash until creamy. Add in a little more cilantro and chopped tomatoes, stir with a spoon. Add salt to taste. Top with cilantro and serve.
You can also add in chili pepper to add a kick.
Serve with tortilla chips (I like the blue chips) and a margarita or sangria.