Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

Happy 5th birthday, Olivia! (the peacock)


Happy birthday, Ellen Garfield Wilson!!


PS - Josh, time to get raking and blowing all those leaves.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Red Wine Reduction & Mug Brownie

I bring you a recipe that looks like it took no time and actually was a bit of work and one that looks like it took a lot more time than it did.  

Let's start with the one that required a lot of prep, but was worth the effort.  It was a Josh Otto request and he sure was an appreciative husband.  The rest of the meal involved him grilling steaks and me heating up leftovers so it was actually quite fun to make this labor of love while sipping some wine, listening to tunes and visiting with my sweet middle sis (for her belated bday dinner).

Red Wine Reduction

3 T butter
½ yellow onion, chopped
½ red onion, chopped
2 large shallots, chopped
2 t. minced garlic
1 roma (plum) tomato, chopped
1 lb. carrots, chopped
¾ lb. fresh mushrooms, sliced
1 (14 oz) can beef broth
1 ¼ c Melot wine, divided

This is quite a lot of ingredients for a sauce, right?  My sister looked at me like a full on crazy person and laughed when she arrived and my hand was red from all the chopping.  Especially when I informed her it was a full pound of carrots.  It was like I had two heads and zero brain.  I started questioning myself at this point.  Did I read something wrong?  Was their a typo and I am THIS big of a rule follower?  But I carried on.

Chop 1/2 sweet Vidalia onion, 1/2 red onion, 2 large shallots, 3-4 gloves garlic, 1 roma tomato, 1 lb. carrots, 4 oz. baby bella mushrooms, 4 oz. white mushrooms.  (I sauteed the rest of the mushrooms for our dinner) Your hand will be very tired and sore after all this so drink a little vino.
Heat 3T butter in very large saucepan over medium-high heat until melted.  Add all the chopped veggies and cook until carrots are softened and onions are transparent, about 10-15 minutes.  
Pour in the beef broth and one c. of red wine and bring to a boil, scraping bits off the bottom of the pan.  Reduce heat and simmer until the veggies are very soft and the pan juices have reduced by half, about 20 minutes.
Carefully place large bowl under strainer and strain out sauce from vegetables; setting vegetables to the side.  
For all the work, you won't be left with a lot of sauce at this point.  
Return the sauce to a boil over medium-high heat, stir in 1/4 c. red wine and reduce heat.  Simmer until the sauce is reduced by 1/4 of its original volume, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes.
We saved the discarded vegetables and gave some to Olivia and then Bailey made a vegetable soup with the rest.
We were left with about 1 c. of sauce and we divided into 3 individual gravy boats to ration out our delicacy. 

Then Bailey jokingly put Olivia at the dinner table and she sat in our fourth chair like a human....for the entire time we blessed the food, ate dinner and conversed.  It was very, very strange, but also quite entertaining.  She wasn't even really begging, just staring at us.
Life is all about not taking yourself too seriously and loving a dog, right?  I'm well aware that this is crazy.

Now for an easy recipe Bailey whipped up for us after dinner.

Mug Brownies
1 T melted butter
4 T flour
4 T brown sugar
2 T cocoa powder
3 T milk (or until brownie batter consistency)
Dash of vanilla
Dash of salt

(You can also do a 1/2 portion -- the full portion was actually too rich and filling. If you do the 1/2 portion bake 35-45 sec)

Mix all ingredients in mug.

We added chocolate chips & butterscotch chips and put in microwave 1 min. 20 sec.

Top with spoon full of ice cream.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Before and After: Butler's Pantry

Since I posted a pic last week of the butler's pantry as it is today, I decided it might be fun to show you the progression from where we began...

The space where our "butler's pantry" and laundry room live now were the original kitchen. (Apologies for the grainy iPhone pics taken at dusk in a house with no lights!)

Stripped down to the studs.
Looking into the framed laundry room from butler's pantry
From laundry room looking back to the dining room
From the back hallway
How the details really came together are what have made this my favorite room in the house
As I mentioned, the lucite chair was the find of the century from my friend Caroline's mom (Oak Island of all places!).  The old bar sign is etched glass and from a bar's door in England (Josh's bday present from his mom...just what he wanted ;).  I was originally thinking of painting the frame black, but am actually really liking the wood to keep with the age and it complements the floors.  It hangs on the wall across from the cabinets that isn't ever pictured.
The hammered sink we bought on a whim one Saturday back in Feb. as Ferguson's showroom was moving locations for about a tenth of the original price.  It was actually the very first item we bought for the house.  I was originally worried about mixing brass and chrome, but it doesn't bother me at all now.
Our cabinet guy looked at me like I was crazy when I told him I wanted to have chicken wire in here.  I have an entire roll if you ever need any for a project of your own.  I love it, as I do all things French, and think it's a little different than glass.
The pulls are the same ones we had in our Edenton St. kichen (Anthropologie) and the knobs are from Brigg's Hardware.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Weekend recap

Hello friends!  Just a little photo recap of Otto happenings over the last week.

Seems like everyone has shown their "fall mantel" so I'm jumping on the bandwagon.  I still may bedazzle the white pumpkins a little, but I'm liking the simplicity right now.  The Raleigh skyline that I gave to Josh 5 years ago is FINALLY going to have a frame -- coming in the next few weeks.  Jean helped me put together the flower arrangements using hydrangeas she dried from her yard and cat tails.

Gold pumpkin from Homegoods and lit pumpkin from Pier 1 (thanks, mom!).

Target has quite the collection of pretty real looking pumpkins -- I opted for a few sizes of the white ones.  The green metallic and black glittery pumpkins were courtesy of their $1-$2 bins!

Thanks to all who made it to the Stella & Dot show on Thursday!

It was a great turnout, but I only snapped a few pics.

I think home styling comes more naturally to me than putting together funky outfits.  I couldn't decide if I looked like a circus clown or not with stripes on stripes.  Laura Stocksdale - I was anxiously awaiting Josh's commentary when he arrived home.... :)  Shockingly, he thought it was tame.

Sadly, the only pic I took tailgating was of food!

Sunday we headed to Chapel Hill for lunch and then to browse the Camellia Forest Nursery in Carrboro-- I can't believe how adult and married we've become.  You should have seen how excited we both were running around the nursery!

The amateur horticulturist 

It seems we brought a forest of camellias home with us (we opted for Autumn Moon and April Remembered)-- I had to ride in the backseat back to Raleigh.

We are enjoyed the crisp weather over here.  Hope you are too!