March 14, 2014

Celebrating St. Patrick's Day

St. Patrick's Day is one of my favorite holidays. It was always a big deal in my family growing up. If you are scratching your head, I'm adopted and my parents are of Irish/Italian ancestry.

My mom would make ham, cabbage and potatoes and my dad would make homemade soda bread. My dad would also let me sneak a few sips of Guinness :) As I got older and became more of a foodie, I started taking charge of the St. Patrick's Day dinner. I'd go all out with Irish butter, cheese, and even made a chocolate stout cake for dessert. 

Corned beef and cabbage is more of an Americanized St. Patrick's Day meal and the article
Corned Beef and Cabbage as Irish as Spaghetti and Meatballs explains that.
I want to share with you my go to recipe for corned beef. I found this recipe in
Real Simple many years ago. It is super easy and you can use whatever you want, really. I use whole Brussel sprouts, baby carrots, and fingerling potatoes. If you are going to be around, I'd suggest dumping in the sprouts, carrots, and potatoes in during the last hour of cooking. I'm usually not home for the last hour of cooking so I just dump all of the ingredients in before I leave the house. Yes, the veggies are a little mushy, but still taste yummy. For the beer, I usually have whatever light ale we have in the fridge (typically an IPA). It's the tarragon cream sauce that really makes it.

Ale-Braised Corned Beef, Brussels Sprouts, and Carrots
Quentin Bacon
Serves 4
Hands-On Time: 15m
Total Time: 8hr 00m
  • 1  3-pound piece corned beef brisket (with spice packet, if included)
  • 1  pound  carrots, peeled and cut into 3-inch lengths
  • 1  12-ounce bottle amber ale
  • 3/4  pound  Brussels sprouts
  • 1/2  cup  sour cream
  • 2  tablespoons  whole-grain mustard
  • 1  tablespoon  chopped fresh tarragon
1. In a 5- to 6-quart slow cooker, place the beef, the contents of the spice packet (if included), carrots, and ale. Cook, covered, until the beef is tender, on high for 4 to 5 hours or on low for 7 to 8 hours.
2. Ten minutes before serving, thinly slice the Brussels sprouts. (This is easiest to do in a food processor with the slicing blade.)
3. Transfer the beef from the slow cooker to a cutting board; if the slow cooker is on the low setting, turn it to high. Add the Brussels sprouts to the carrots and liquid in the slow cooker. Cook, covered, until the Brussels sprouts are tender, 4 to 6 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the sour cream, mustard, and tarragon.
5. Slice the beef. Serve with the vegetables and sour cream sauce.

  Over the weekend, I spotted these at Costco in Columbia. They are shamrock shaped
  ravioli filled with Irish cheddar cheese. How adorably delicious!! I believe the price
  was $9.69 If we weren't going to be away for St. Patrick's Day these would have been a
  perfect addition!
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March 10, 2014

For Serious Dachshund Owners

I got an email today with some awesome shirts that only serious Dachshund owners like myself would love. I'm a self proclaimed crazy doxie lady so I think I know which one I'd order ;) The shirts are available in many different colors and come in sweatshirts too!

I Kissed A Dachshund
I Kissed a Dachshund

Keep Calm and Love Doxies
Keep Calm and Love Dachshunds

Crazy Doxie Lady
Crazy Doxie Lady

Doxies: Cheaper Than Therapy
Doxies: Cheaper Than Therapy

Dachshund Floral
Dachshund Floral

Life Is Better With A Dachshund
Life Is Better With a Dachshund

My husband, Cooper, and I have attended the Columbia Association's Dog Day Afternoon event the past two years and this past year we also attended Dachtoberfest in Frederick. We really enjoy getting together with other HoCo Dachshunds and their awesome owners! I've been thinking about this for some time, but I really want to start a meetup/playdate for HoCo Dachshunds and owners. Does anyone know if there is a group that already exists or would any other doxie owners be interested in something like this? Let me know!


March 5, 2014

My New Favorite Thing

I first saw that painting parties were a thing a few years ago, but the closest studio was in Georgetown. When asked by my bridesmaids what ideas I had for my bachelorette, I sent them a bunch of links to painting party places but the closest was in Georgetown or York. I didn't expect that we'd end up doing this since those locations aren't exactly close.

To my surprise, my bridesmaids had a lady come out and she helped us to paint a very lovely beach scene. It is typical at these parties to just show up with your booze and snacks. All of the supplies and materials are provided by the instructor/artist. I loved how everyone was painting the same beach scene, but how each looked totally different. I guess you could say this is where my obsession began...

When I found out that Paint in the Hut was opening on Main Street in Ellicott City, I was beyond excited! I was even more excited when I saw a Livingsocial deal for it! I immediately bought two vouchers and unable to convince my husband to go, I went with my mom. By the way, each time I've gone (twice now) there have been guys there. My first time at Paint in the Hut, I attended the class for Kandinsky's Circles. I figured that would be a good one to start with since it's just circles in squares. How hard could that be? I will admit it wasn't as easy as I thought, but that's a good thing! Our instructor painted along with us, helping to guide us each step of the way. She was extremely patient (there were a group of teachers there who were imbibing pitchers of pisco sours and were very rowdy). Again, I really liked how everyone is painting the same thing, but each turn out so unique. You really are free to do what you want, you don't need to follow exactly what the instructor is doing unless you want to. After the class, I went home and was so proud of myself and my painting that I hung it up that night :)

Since that class, I kept telling my husband about much I loved it and how much I wanted to go back. Last week, I saw Paint in the Hut post on their Facebook page that they were having a paint your pet class, a first for them. I'm obsessed with my dog and I'm obsessed with going to these painting parties so it just really made sense that I was most definitely going to sign up for this! When I registered for the class they asked that I submit a picture of my pet and that they would use that picture and sketch it on the canvas. I was very nervous for this class, I mean c'mon it's my dog and I don't want to mess it up. Circles and squares I can handle, but this is next level. I was very thankful that my husband went along for moral support (still couldn't convince him to paint but he did take advantage of BYOB) and a couple we're friends decided to give painting their pet a try too.
The original picture
The sketch
Finished painting
The instructor was different than the one I had previously, but she was equally as patient as the other. She said that this class would definitely be more difficult than the others since everyone was painting a different picture and could therefore not follow what the instructor was painting in the front of the room. I would agree that this was a bit of a challenge and there were "WTF" moments as she called it where I wasn't sure WTF this was going to look like, but in the end it looks awesome and I absolutely love it. I'm convinced that I can now quit my job and become a painter and start a business on Etsy. Kidding... I wish!

If you are looking for something fun and different to do, check out Paint in the Hut! It's BYOB and they also do private parties and events.