Fireplace Cozy, the Chic Cure for Cabin Fever

Fireplace Cozy

Fondue | Socks | Tray | MarshmallowsScarf

Being stuck inside loses its novelty after the second consecutive day of  being snowed in. It’s called cabin fever and it’s becoming a  normal routine here on the East Coast. During our last blizzard, I ran out of chocolate on Day 1.

I almost called 9-1-1.

You know what would remedy the situation? All these things I do not have:

  • cozy fireplace
  • oversized pillow
  • stack of library books
  • chocolate fondue

My wishlist isn’t asking too much, is it? A girl can dream of lounging by a warm fire in cute pjs with thick, wool socks. A gold tray by her side with two hot chocolates topped with gourmet, dark chocolate marshmallows. And if that wasn’t enough, add in a bowl of fresh strawberries and a sweet fondue for dipping. A scarf is essential for sneaking out into the elements to replenish the wood. Oh wait, add in a husband or special loved one to do the heavy lifting.

Yes, now the day is perfect.

XO RTC

A Gift For Tea Lovers

Tea Gift Ideas

Tea napkins | Jam | Scones | Tea

A-tisket a-tasket – Red Tag Couture loves a luxurious basket.  Here’s a secret: You only have to know a couple of things about a person to buy him/her a “wow” gift.  Just pay attention!  Your friend at work who has a chocolate stash in her drawer – we know what to get her.  Your culinary genius of a father-in-law – yup, we know what to get him.  And clearly, we know what to get for your earl grey tea-obsessed BFF.  A well-appointed gift basket is as coveted as it is thoughtful.   Start with a theme, let the ideas brew, and in no time your teapot will be whistling away.

Quick Tips: Be sure to fill the bottom of the basket with newspaper or tissue paper before you add the decorative shred.  Build your basket with the larger items, adding the smaller gifts once you’ve created a base.  Strategically place the prettiest item in the center to use as a focal point.  Don’t be afraid to tape or prop your items.

Who doesn’t love receiving a beautiful, homemade gift basket?  Crumpets, anyone?

XO RTC

Minus the Cream Artichoke Soup

creamy artichoke soup

There is nothing more comforting than a steaming bowl of soup on a cold night.  At my house, soup is on the menu weekly during the fall & winter months.  Whipping up a batch on a Sunday night lightens the load in the kitchen for the time consuming work week.  Pursing the internet for new soup recipes is a gulity pleasure of mine.  A couple of weeks ago, Giada De Lautentiis had a segment on the Today Show impressing the hosts with her culinary skills and impressing me with her stuffed artichoke soup.  I quadrupled the original recipe (4 dinners and 3 lunches by doing so) and made some alterations.  Be sure to check out Giada’s recipe – my tweaks are below!

*The biggest substitution I made was swapping the mascarpone for a can of cannellini beans (rinsed and strained) – protein is always good.  In addition, I added a cup of freshly grated parmesan because cheese is awesome.   I also used vegetable stock instead of chicken stock for no particular reason.  For garnish, fresh parsley, pecorino romano, and hot pepper seeds did the trick.

I was delighted with the results.  I have two words for this deliciously “creamy” artichoke soup: Nom and nom!

A Quick Protein Cookie Recipe

cookies 3

Get your aprons out and set your Easy Bake oven to 350º.  Today, we bake protein packed peanut buttery cookies.  These cookies are easy, inexpensive and bursting with the protein most cookies lack.  You’ll need peanut butter cookie mix (Betty Crocker works), two scoops of vanilla protein powder, and the left over Halloween Peanut Butter Cups & Reese’s Pieces you’ve  been cursing.  Candy, candy everywhere!  

Cookie Recipe

Follow the recipe on the back of the mix you select, and include your favorite extras.  In addition, add a little more oil and water into your concoction.  You can eyeball it – eventually, you’ll get the proper cookie dough consistency.  Roll them up, and watch ’em bake!

peanut butter cookies

This recipe is neither healthy nor pretty – just a quick and simple way to sweeten up your day.  Even if your mom’s peanut butter cookies are beyond divine, you’re going to eat a cookie that isn’t made from scratch every now and then.  Adding protein seems like a good idea, no?

XO RTC

Spaghetti Squash with Ricotta & Kale

Something tells me you’ve already had lots of candy.  Fun-size candy bars aren’t so fun when you’ve had four, okay, six in one sitting.  Let’s get the post-Halloween cleanse going.  Compensate for all the chocolate with my absolute favorite way to enjoy Spaghetti Squash!  This is simple, healthy cooking at its finest.

Squash Recipe
INGREDIENTS
1 Spaghetti Squash (halved and seeded)
¼ cup of ricotta cheese
2 cloves of minced garlic/dehydrated garlic flakes
2 tbsp. olive oil
Pinch of Salt
Pepper
3 tbsp. Parsley
Red pepper flakes (optional)
1 cup of prepared marinara sauce/gravy – no, not brown gravy
1 cup of wilted kale

DIRECTIONS
Preheat the oven to 400 (F). Place squash on baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Season with a dash of salt, pepper, and the minced garlic. Add 2 tbsp. of parsley and reserve remainder.  Bake for about 20-30 minutes, or until squash is a golden-brown color. Let squash cool for several minutes to make handling easy. Remove/scrape squash from skin. Place desired amount into bowl (you should get approximately 4 servings from one medium/large squash).  Top with kale, sauce, and ricotta. Add salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with remaining parsley.

Spaghetti Squash Recipe

Notes: The most difficult step in this recipe is halving the squash. Be sure to use a sharp knife and a steady hand! For easy cleanup, line your pan with foil. Also, if you are Italian, you know that gravy is a red sauce, too. It’s a tomato-based sauce that has been prepared with meat (pepperoni, sausage, meatballs, etc,), honest.  Marinara excludes the meat.  People always look at me strange when I tell them I’m having pasta/squash and gravy – phew, happy I got that off of my chest!

Buon appetito!  Tell us, do you love spaghetti squash, or do you love to hate it?

XO RTC

Test-Kitchen Chic

Cute Apron

Hair Wrap|Wine Glass|Apron|Pot Holders|Cookbook

Multiberry free-form tart with a light dusting of powdered sugar and a cup of green tea.  Pumpkin cheesecake with prailne topping and a vanilla chai.  Flourless chocolate cake and a black coffee.  Welcome to Friday at Red Tag Couture.  Today we’re fantasizing about baked goods.

It’s no secret that I’m not the best baker.  I’ve made soggy cookies.  Soggy, like a wet sock, lemon ricotta cookies. I don’t know if it’s the cool weather or the recent Barefoot Contessa marathon I watched, but there’s a bakingista inside of me and she’s dying to get out.

Let’s grab a glass of wine and browse the most perfect cookbook ever.

Ready to bake?  Start by sweeping the tendrils off your face with an adorable hair wrap.  Last time we checked, hair is not tasty.  The oven gets hot, so you’ll need something to protect your newly hydrated handsPure Home has pot holders so cute they beg to cradle a warm, sweet-smelling pie plate.  The graphic print goes well with the simplicity of the color-blocked apron.  Be sure to cinch the waist for some added appeal.  You’re quite the confection, and you’re reminding us of a French girl!  Now, go bake something fabulous.

XO RTC

Dominique Ansel Makes a Mean Macaron

Dominique Ansel Macarons

While I’m sure the Cronut is everything they say it is and more, I won’t go to Dominique Ansel to participate in sheep-like, long line waiting-in behavior.  I can hold off until the crowds dwindle.  At Dominique Ansel, the macarons are the real star.

On a recent trip to NYC, I told my husband I intended to hunt for the perfect macaron.  He put up a minor fight.  I don’t really like those circus peanut things.  Do they sell madeleines there?  He had never tasted a decent macaron.  Before long, we were zipping through SoHo with some made-to-order madeleines and box of pastel perfection.

I decided they should be enjoyed with champagne. (Everything is better with champagne.) DA macarons are not too sweet and have decadent fillings – they’re beyond fresh.  My favorite flavor?  ALL OF THEM.  Seriously.  It took me forever to finish a single macaron because I didn’t want it to end.  I slowly savored the chocolate – always my last pick when choosing any dessert.  They were so amazing that I didn’t even want to go to Laudree to taste an alternative.  At less than $25 for a box of 9 these macarons meet the RTC under $50 criteria, too!  Just keeps getting better.

You can find these cuties at 189 Spring St in the SoHo area of NYC.  It’s a great neighborhood for shopping and dining.

Oh, and by the way, my husband is now a macaron convert.

Hooray for Friday!  This short week felt kind of long & I am looking forward to a little R&R.  While I can’t celebrate the weekend with a Dominique Ansel macaron (if only they could be shipped – hint, hint), I believe I am due for a special treat!  What’s your favorite weekend dessert/treat?

XO RTC