Pinterest Test Kitchen

by Lara on February 3, 2013

in crafty

My old faithful dinner ideas were getting a little stale and it was time to try something new.  I showed David my Pinterest board of fun food ideas and asked him what he’d like to try.

So yesterday, with lots of weekend time on my hands, I tried my hand at a mustard roast and strawberry cream cheese cobbler.

First the roast:

Here’s the pic from the original recipe and it’s pretty accurate-

Mustard Roast Beef

Here’s the recipe:

2 teaspoons mustard seeds (I think you could omit these if you added a few teaspoons of course mustard you may already have to the mix)
1 teaspoon sea salt flakes
1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1 tablespoon thyme leaves
1/4 C olive oil, plus one tablespoon extra
4 lb boneless beef rib eye or just a really beautiful roast (I used an eye of the round)
1/4-1/2 C Dijon mustard depending on taste (I mixed every mustard I had in the fridge)
1 stick room temperature butter
kitchen string (forgot to get string, didn’t tie, came out fine)

Remember to take the beef out of the fridge at least 10 minutes before you sear it or put it in the oven, this will ensure even cooking.

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Place the mustard seeds, salt, pepper and thyme in a mortar and pestle and pound until lightly crushed. (Ziplock bag and a hammer works too! And if you’re just adding some coarse mustard, you could skip this smashing entirely) Add the oil and pound until combined. In a separate bowl combine butter and Dijon mustard until completely integrated. Combine spice mixture and mustard mixture, set aside.
Brush the beef with the extra oil. Heat a large non-stick frying pan over high and cook the beef for 1-2 minutes each side or until brown. remove from the pan. Secure with kitchen string and rub the mustard mixture over the beef. Place on a rack in a baking dish and roast for 1 1/2 hours for medium rare (I use a meat thermometer, and remember that the meat continues to cook after you remove it from the oven.) Serves 4-6 After roasting, cover the meat with foil and rest in a warm place for at least 10 minutes to allow the meat to relax.
Make a sauce from the pan drippings. Simply put the roasting pan on your stove top and on medium high heat, add either beef broth or red wine and reduce down a bit and you will have a beautiful sauce to accompany your beef.

I don’t have a meat rack so I made a makeshift one out of crumpled strips of foil. Also, it was hard to get ALL of that mustard butter mix onto the roast at once so half-way through, I added the rest. This didn’t give as dark of a crust on the roast but, whatever.

30 minutes in

30 minutes in. My roast was a 5 lbs instead of 4 so I used a meat thermometer to reach medium temp of 140.

I also made the sauce by adding the drippings to a small sauce pan and adding a bit of red wine, heating it up for a while. The sauce was delicious.

The original plan was to make these polenta cakes to go with but I forgot to get polenta! Thankfully I had 2 sweet potatoes in the fridge so I boiled and mashed them and sauteed asparagus:


Sloppy plating but I was starving. End pieces were med-well and would’ve cooked more evenly if I had tied it up but some people like different temps so, there you go.

I have a TON of leftovers so we’ll be making roast beef sandwiches all week!

Now the cobbler… god bless, I love me some cobbler. It reminds me of my mom and it’s so comforting. I used this recipe for Strawberry Cream Cheese Cobbler.


Cobbler couldn’t be easier -

preheat oven to 350

melt a stick of butter and pour into a 9×13 glass pan
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 cup milk
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 quarts whole strawberries, capped and washed
4 ounces cream cheese, cut in small pieces
Plain Greek yogurt or vanilla ice cream for serving, optional (necessary)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt butter and pour into a 9-by-13-inch glass baking dish. In a small bowl, mix together the egg, milk, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Pour directly over the butter in the baking dish, but do not stir.

Add the strawberries, arranging in a single layer. Sprinkle cream cheese pieces over strawberries. Place in preheated oven and bake for 45 minutes, or until top is golden brown and edges are bubbling. (Crust rises up and around the fruit, but fruit will still peek out of top.)

The strawberries I got weren’t very ripe (local summertime strawberries would be best). So it was a little tart but still good. My favorite will always be peach and you can do this same recipe with canned peach slices, which is definitely happening soon!

So there you have it. 2 Pinterest recipes down, that I will definitely do again! I’m not going to think about the fact that I used 2 sticks of butter last night. ;)


+ & –

by Lara on July 27, 2012

in + & -

  • After a near nervous breakdown on Monday when I was all alone to do my job (girl called out sick) + a snappy boss, my workweek turned out lovely and I’m really excited about my job.

finally settled into my permanent cube

view from a conference room

mine was the last car left at the top of the deck… been leaving late every day

  • Since my mom passed away on June 11th, I’ve lost 9 pounds – 4 since I started this job 3 weeks ago since I’m constantly running around. All the clothes I bought are getting a little loose.
  • I’ve talked about the film Baraka a few times here. It’s a documentary of sorts – no words – just absolutely stunning visuals of scenery and situations from all over the world. I saw Baraka for the first time at a friend’s house when I was a teen and was speechless. The makers of Baraka are releasing their first new film in over 20 years… Samsara. Five years to make, 25 countries, 100 different locales, all shot on 70mm film, with stunning time lapses. I seriously cannot wait. You HAVE to watch the trailer.

Samsara is a Sanskrit word that means “the ever turning wheel of life” and is the point of departure for the filmmakers as they search for the elusive current of interconnection that runs through our lives. Filmed over a period of almost five years and in twenty-five countries, Samsara transports us to sacred grounds, disaster zones, industrial sites, and natural wonders. By dispensing with dialogue and descriptive text, Samsara subverts our expectations of a traditional documentary, instead encouraging our own inner interpretations inspired by images and music that infuses the ancient with the modern.

  • Not being able to peruse the interwebs at work, coming home and winding down with my laptop and some House Hunters International means there’s 300+ things in my Google reader. I had to unsubscribe to a ton of crap. I just can’t keep up. Don’t worry… I’m still following YOU!


Foodie Penpal!

by Lara on July 21, 2012

in crafty

The Lean Green Bean

I mentioned the Foodie Penpal project a while ago and I just received my adorable package from sweet sweet April in Minnesota. Her blog Sutch a Delight is a lot of fun too so check it out!

So here’s what April sent me!

I haven’t ever tried any of these treats before so yay! Chocolate silk mini Jif cup and I are going to make friends later with some apple slices. I’m saving the fig bar for a snack at work on Monday (love figs). Snacky nuts and trail mix will be nommed on this weekend and David loves those “got milk?” flavor straws so I may never get a chance with those!

April made her own vanilla extract and it smells divine! I’m planning on making a bunch of pound cakes tomorrow and I’m totally using this.

my pound cake recipe

She also made a spicy mustard and it’s delicious! It’s made with a local beer and here’s her recipe. Looks super easy!

April also sent a handwritten note on this adorable card. Sending something handwritten is a requirement with the Foodie Penpal packages and I love how dear and personalized this makes it.


For my pen pal, I forgot to take a picture but I sent her some grits from Charlottesville, VA (hello! I’m from the South and grits are delicious!). Great thing is, she’d never had them before so that was a win! I also sent her some Virginia peanuts, since that’s what we’re known for here, some strawberry rhubarb preserves from the Shenandoah Valley in VA, plus – some sea salt, cute little whale print napkins and a slice of handmade coconut soap I grabbed at a local natural food store. I wish I had sent something homemade but life’s been crazy around here. It was a lot of fun to put together!

So do you think you’ll join?




UncommonGoods giveaway!

by Lara on May 9, 2012

in decor


The winner is:

Congrats Danielle!!!


A while back, I discovered a great online store called UncommonGoods and wrote a little post featuring my favorite products. They contacted me recently to see if I would be interested in reviewing anything they offered and host a giveaway! Heck yeah!

With Mother’s Day fast approaching I’m doubtful you could squeeze in a fast purchase (maybe?) but there are so many great gift ideas for everything else coming up- Father’s Day gifts (see all here), wedding gifts (see all here), birthday presents (like this!), graduation time is coming up too. Uncommon Goods has fun unique well-designed things that you just don’t find in normal stores.

The first thing I picked out was this garlic rocker. It’s a more streamlined version of your standard garlic press but, it’s easier to clean and the stainless steel removes garlic odor from your hands when you’re washing it in the sink!

I tried it out with a peeled garlic clove on my cutting board and while you do have to put a bit of pressure on it while you rock it, I was thrilled to have the garlic smooshed up so fast! The top has smooth holes but the underside is beveled for a good grip but not sharp enough to cut yourself. And yes, it cleaned super easy and is virtually indestructible stainless steel.

 The other thing I picked out is just as much for myself and my living room decor as it is for my cats!

The cardboard Cat Teepee! It came in an adorable cardboard box with easy instructions and a special note that it was also for “fat cats” or “gros chats” if your cats speak French. Perfect for 20lb Ringo!

It’s hard to see but there was an extra sheet of fancy decorations (+ 3 ball toys) to customize your teepee and replace any that may get chewed on. I put mine one backwards for contrast.

I assembled it on my kitchen table in less than 5 minutes and Ulti immediately wanted in!

(pardon his indecency)

“Would you hand me my catnip peace pipe?”

Ready for a Pow Meow!

He didn’t want out, so I carried him in his new house to the living room. (It’s pretty sturdy.) Ringo wanted in but couldn’t fit so we removed that inner ring to accommodate his fat cat self and he’s loving it too!

So those are my goodies from UncommonGoods. Shipping was super fast and well-packaged. They have an easy to navigate site, wishlists, gift registries and they also allow people to leave product reviews on their website, which is something I really love!

NOW for the GIVEAWAY!!!

How would you like to win a $50 gift certificate towards anything you want at UncommonGoods?

I’m using Rafflecopter for this giveaway so log in below and follow the instructions to make your entry count!

EDIT:  Log in then leave a comment the normal way (not inside the widget itself) and it registers!


a Rafflecopter giveaway


Disclaimer: The products reviewed have been provided to me by UncommonGoods. All opinions and images are my own.


+ & –

by Lara on April 24, 2012

in + & -

  • Today is my bff Jen’s 33rd b-day! Happy Birthday Jen! I miss you!!!

  • Friends and great food! Sunday after the craft show, Carly and I went out to eat. We had no idea where to go and suddenly picked Arcadia just walking past it. Crab cakes and Bellinis for brunch? Hell yes! Then on Monday my friends Meg, Sarah, Jess and I went to Secco Wine Bar for “flight night” where you can let the bartender pick 3 wines. We also ordered a ridiculous amount of small plates and shared it all. It was wonderful!

  • Working on the new painting was great. I liked having a project to keep me busy and off the internets a bit. Since the sections were so large, it went pretty fast. This is how I paint – on my bed, canvas in my lap, flipping it around as needed, hunched over with my favorite teeny angled brush:

  • I made my own pesto for the first time. Spinach, basil, walnuts, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, parmesan, S&P – all in the food processor. It was delicious and made a ton. I put most of it in an ice cube tray in the freezer then a bag for single servings!

  • I had never watched Mad Men but some of my fave ladies are into it so mom and I watched all 4 seasons on Netflix like mad women and I’m all caught up and watching new episodes on Sunday. Mom says I’m a total Joan but I really like Peggy. They’ve both been kicking so much ass this season!

  • I’ve been hitting up the Marshall’s near my parents’ house about 3 times a week lately. It’s ridiculous but I’ve started Christmas shopping! I also picked this dress up for myself yesterday! $20!

  • This isn’t really a negative but, I’ve been weaning myself off my anti-anxiety meds (generic Celexa) for the past week or so. I wrote about my anxiety in January. Four months ago, I said that I never wanted to get off of them but I was definitely going to have to be off for at least 6 months before thinking about getting pregnant. No, no babies in the immediate future… yet! It just felt like a good time to see where I was without it. I’m not experiencing any withdrawal side effects, but there are many I could feel. I went from 20mg a day to 10 for a week and now 5 this week. So, here’s to hoping things have regulated in my brain!