Sunday, March 25, 2012

You Can Never Have Too Many Girl Scout Cookies

Remember how I excited I was about getting Girl Scout Cookies? Yeah. Those were good times.

But, because I fill the role of a broke college student, I only got one box of Thin Mints and one box of Samoas. Only enough cookies for me to eat and enjoy in their natural state.

Then, Sam (being the awesome person that she is) got another box of Samoas. And my brain began birthing ideas of what to do with those extra cookies dying to be combined with another sweet to create an uber-dessert.

After asking my friends' opinions, I decided on Samoa brownies.

It's a very simple concept:

Make your favorite brownie recipe (I used the one from the February issue of Food Network Magazine).

Pour a thin layer of batter across the bottom of the pan. Lay full Samoa cookies across this layer in a neat pattern. Spread the rest of the batter over the top.

Bake the brownies at the designated temperature for half the cooking time. Pull them out and sprinkle diced Samoa cookies over the top (I used eight cookies for a 9x13 pan). Press the crumbled cookies into the top slightly and then bake for the remaining time according to the recipe.

Allow to cool and them cut into squares. Drool. Enjoy.


Saturday, March 24, 2012

Mmmmmmmm bread. And other food.

I love to cook (duh).

Sometimes, my friends benefit from that love.

Tonight was one of those times.

When my mommy last came to visit, she brought yeast so that I could make focaccia. But, she gave me three packets of yeast when the focaccia recipe only called for one.

So, I obviously had to make some more bread.

And, since I was making bread anyway, I figured I'd make dinner for my super-awesome friends as well.

I had a bunch of different palettes going on and my worst nightmare is making a meal that someone doesn't like, so I naturally chose to go with Italian food-it never disappoints.

On the menu was a salad, pasta, and of course homemade bread. People seem to think that making homemade bread is simply impossible in a dorm. It's not.

Some recipes I wouldn't go near (sourdough, etc.) because I don't have the time, but that doesn't mean it can't be done. I love this recipe because it's fast, simple, and forgiving. I altered some measurements (I was probably short 2 teaspoons of yeast) and it still turned out amazing. If you're a wary bread-maker, definitely try this recipe. It's college-kid approved and practically fool-proof.

If you look really close you can see the flecks of salt on top. I got a little fancy here and put the balsamic sea salt my mommy got me on top. Yum.

The rest of the dinner was equally easy and rewarding. The salad consisted of romaine lettuce, chopped red pepper, cherry tomatoes, and chopped cucumber with champagne dressing from Whole Foods (good and not ridiculously expensive!).

The pasta was super simple: 3 garlic cloves minced and sautéed for about 45 seconds in 2 tablespoons of olive oil with red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Then add a 6 oz can of tomato paste and a 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes. Add a teaspoon each of dried oregano and dried rosemary and salt and pepper to taste. Stir and let simmer for 10 minutes (you can add more seasoning after it simmers if necessary). For the pasta, I cooked angel hair for 2 minutes in salted water, drained it and combined it with the tomato sauce. Easy and delicious. (And I forgot to take a picture. Just imagine a bowl of comfort and happiness and that'll be enough).

All in all, a very successful dinner.

Tomorrow, Samoa brownies. I can't wait.


Friday, March 23, 2012

A New Member of the Family

As I was perusing the website of the Berks, the apartment complex that Meredith and I will be calling home in the fall, I noticed two wonderful words at the screen: “cats allowed.” Since seeing that phrase, I have been daydreaming about the possibilities of bringing my cat, Lily, who I love an inappropriate amount, to live with us next year. Having her around would make my life so much better (and cuter), and I can’t stop thinking about how much fun it would be to come home from class to her! I think Meredith, me, Lily, and Leo would make the cutest family—definitely Christmas-card worthy. Everyone in our group is excited about the prospects of having Lily come and live with us—well, to be honest, the cat lovers said that they would be spending all their time in our apartment, and the cat no-so-much lovers were moderately OK with it. My sister is also very excited—whose cat, Tessie, is constantly tormented by Lily.

Therefore, I’ve decided to take this opportunity to post some adorable pictures of Lily so the whole world-AKA the six people who read our blog-can fall in love with her as well.

This is Lily doing some sort of adorable yoga pose—she could totally be featured in the Yoga Cat calendar:

This is Lily doing what we call her “Lily Doughnut,” where she tries to make herself into a complete circle by catching her tail.

This is Lily being adorable in the sun. See, she’s an AU cat already!


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Girl Scout Cookies

The sun is out, the temperature is warming up (a little too fast), and flowers are beginning to peek out of the ground. It must be time for...


Girl Scout Cookies are one of the greatest creations known to man. I don't think I know anyone who dislikes them. In fact, everyone is head over heals in LOVE with these little guys. Forget World Peace Cookies, Thin Mints and Trefoils have got it covered. Seriously, has anyone ever thought to bring these to meetings with foreign ambassadors or something? Things would certainly go more smoothly.

I was a Girl Scout-and a terrible one at that. What was my greatest fault? Probably selling those cookies. Because I didn't. Boxes and boxes were piled into my house, and I ate them all. I made little to no effort to sell them. They were all in my tummy before I had the chance to bring the order sheet out of my folder.


I discovered last year that the Girl Scouts actually venture over to American University's campus during cookie season (a genius move), and I couldn't have been happier.

When I was little, I was a dedicated Trefoil enthusiast. Today, my taste buds have opened up to just about all of the flavors. Though Trefoils will always hold a special place in my heart.

When I wandered outside yesterday to find the Scouts beginning to pack up, I rushed over to see if they could stay just another minute. I had seen Thin Mints and Samoas and knew I must have them.

They agreed to stick around while I ran to get my wallet from my dorm.


I am going to savor each and every bite of these beauties.

Update: Sam got another box of Samoas today. This room's awesomeness just improved tenfold.


Thursday, March 15, 2012

WAR HORSE. And a Food Adventure with Aunt Bethy

I first heard about War Horse while sitting in a theater, reading the playbill for The Normal Heart before the show started. I immediately knew I wanted to see it because, well, I love horses.

And so, I was ready to see the movie right when it came out. My mom and I made a trip over to the movie theater (no one else in my family wanted to see it) to see a film about ponies. Was it the best film I've ever seen? No. But, it was about a horse, so I was happy.

Plus, I knew that I wanted to see it on stage. My wonderful mother agreed to go with me and we bought tickets for over my spring break. Some unforeseen events led to my mommy being unable to attend. Thus, my lovely aunt Bethy, giver of Rossi pasta, took over and we had a fantastic day in New York.

Of course, since the event had been passed on to Beth, it would be "everything deluxe." She planned the day around two meals at two marvelous New York City restaurants. But first, we went to a museum to see a dirt exhibit. I'm not kidding. It was called "Swept Away"-or "Swept by Dirt" as we kept saying-and it consisted of some very interesting pieces of work. I admit some of it was cool. But really. A dirt exhibit (if you want to spend a day with my aunt, you must pay some price).

Now, on to more important things. For lunch we visited Bar Boloud. Everything tasted AMAZING. We started with Rosemary Lemonades and Sunchoke Soup.

Then I got a beet and roquette salad. Bethy ordered a Croque Monsieur.

However, the most important part of our main course was the side of Super Green Spinach. Seriously, we drooled over this little cast iron pot of veggies. It was like nothing we've ever eaten. We could not for the life of us figure out how they had cooked it, so we asked. The secret? Saute the spinach. Then, puree half of it with lemon juice and stir it together with the other half that was only sauteed and add just a touch of cream. Craziness.

We finished with a Banana Mousse on top of Chocolate Almond Cake, Orizaba-Macadamia Cream, and Chocolate Ice Cream.

Oh, also green tea and coffee. Yum.

And they had these really giant wine bottles on the bar. I'm still trying to figure out how you would lift them to fill someone's glass...

Next we went to the play. It is worth it to see the show just to see the horse puppets they use. Absolutely incredible.

It's hard to tell from the picture, but we had great seats (thanks mommy!). They even had the horse run up one of the aisles (not the one next to us). The whole production was awesome.

And finally, we finished the day with another fantastic meal at Telepan.

To begin, the Seasonal Salad for me and the House Smoked Brook Trout for Bethy.

Next, Beet Green and Ricotta Pierogi for me (God I ate a lot of beets yesterday) and the Roasted Chicken for Bethy. We were so excited that I forgot to take a picture until I had eaten practically my whole plate. Oops.

For dessert, "Apple Pie." They were little fried pastry pockets filled with apple pie filling. Apple butter cream, cinnamon & caramel ice cream to accompany the little pockets.

Another incredible meal.

It was a fabulous day and we're already planning our next trip (hopefully this one will involve less dirt).

Thanks Bethy!


Sunday, March 4, 2012

Foodie Gifts

As I mentioned in my previous post about Garlic! Fettucine, food gifts are not uncommon in my house. It gets a little ridiculous when it comes to the presents I receive.

For every gift-giving occasion, I request cooking tools. Friends and relatives often add edible components to these gifts. And this Christmas was no exception.

I think at least five people gave me food. My mommy gave me couscous and my aunt Donna gave me Puy lentils.

Both are incredible.

When I open the jar to the couscous, it smells like Italy. When I open the box of lentils, it smells like... Well, it smells like nothing-but they taste delicious!

I decided to make a dish containing both foodie endowments because lentils+carbs=a complete protein. There are 8 essential amino acids that the body must obtain from outside sources because it cannot make them on its own (like the other 12 amino acids). When lentils are combined with a starch like rice, or couscous in this case, the body gets a dose of all 8!


This salad was so yummy and filling. Plus, it has sun-dried tomatoes-one of my favorite foods on the planet. I could eat a jar plain.

Get your protein. Make this dish. It's yummy.

Couscous and Lentils with Spinach and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

-1/2 cup couscous
-1/2 cup Puy lentils
-1 10 oz package of chopped spinach
-1/2 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes (I use the ones preserved in herbed olive oil)
-olive oil from the sun-dried tomato can
-juice from half a lemon
-pinch of red pepper flakes
-salt and pepper to taste

1. Defrost the spinach and squeeze out the extra liquid.
2. Put the couscous in a pot. Boil 3/4 cup of water and pour over the couscous. Cover the pot and let sit for 10 minutes. When all the water is absorbed, fluff the couscous with a fork.
3. Put the lentils in a pot. Add water until there is about an inch of water covering the lentils. Bring the water to a boil and add salt. Boil for about 20 minutes until cooked, but still firm. You want the lentils to keep their shape. Drain the lentils.
4. Add the couscous, drained lentils, spinach, and sun-dried tomatoes to a bowl and mix to combine.
5. Add a drizzle of the olive oil from the can of sun-dried tomatoes (this oil is infused with herbs and adds extra flavor). Squeeze in the juice from half a lemon and add the salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes to taste.
6. Stir the ingredients and taste to see if the seasoning is right.



Saturday, March 3, 2012

POTS and Television: A Match Made in Heaven

I have a chronic, debilitating condition and a love of television. Two things have not gone so well together since peanut butter and jelly (or peanut butter and Oreos, if you’re Lindsay Lohan). Anyway, I’ve noticed recently that my TV taste has been less than ideal, so I’ve decided to make a new rule for myself:

I have to swap two trashy TV shows that I currently watch for two legitimately well-done TV shows that I’ve heard good things about.

1) Keeping Up With the Kardashians for Community

This coming year may be the year that the Kardashians finally go away. With the divorce heard ‘round the world causing the family an unprecedented amount of controversy, the end is near for the E! royals. I vow to do my part and stop watching anything that involves a Kardashian. Instead, since I do love me some cutting edge comedy, I’ll watch Community, which has proved to be exactly that. The last three seasons have brought viewers some amazing things, such as an episode done entirely using claymation and an episode centered around the school having a campus-wide paintball war. It has also been consistently laugh-out-loud hilarious. If you throw in the fact that Community stars Joel McHale, who I’ve loved since I started watching The Soup and that the show has a continuing relationship with Cougar Town that involves cast members from each show randomly popping up in the other, there’s absolutely no reason for me not to be watching.

2) Say Yes to the Dress: Bridesmaids for Louie

I’m not going to make any promises that I can’t keep, and I don’t think I’m ready to quit the Say Yes to the Dress franchise cold turkey. However, I can bear to lose Bridesmaids, which is basically what would happen if The Real Housewives of Atlanta were forced into the same bridal party and taken shopping.

I’ll swap it for Louie, the FX comedy written, directed, produced and edited by its star, comedian Louis C.K. The format of the show is incredibly unique, as each episode contains multiple unrelated storylines separated by stand-up performances by Louis C.K. The show stars Louis C.K. as a fictionalized version of himself, living in NYC while raising his two children alone. This allows many of Louis C.K.’s real-life colleagues and friends to appear in guest roles. The show is also hysterical in a dark, sarcastic way, critically-acclaimed, and Emmy-nominated. If that wasn’t enough to convince me, I got my first taste of Louis C.K. when he starred opposite Amy Poehler in Parks & Recreation, which is one of my absolute favorite shows. After that, I’ll have no problem giving his show a chance, even if it means leaving my beloved bridesmaids behind.


Thursday, March 1, 2012

It's March!

It's the first day of March, and two very important things happened today.

First, my massive earmuffs arrived!. These guys are incredible. One week, while Sam wasn't here, I stole hers as I spent another night with surround sound from the people next door.

I immediately ordered my own pair. And they're here!

Look at us. Ready to fight whatever pandemonium comes our way. (I like to wear ear plugs and then the earmuffs on top for extra security).

Second, we got to put up the next month on our calendars.

Mine has a dashing and very serious picture of Al Pacino from The Godfather. The caption is "If you offered me your love, I'd be powerless to refuse."

I'm glad to know I have power over a mob leader.

Sam-I'm incredibly happy that March has 31 days, because I'll need all the time I can get to stare at these adorably awesome cats. I'm not sure which is my favorite. The larger one definitely gets points for flexibility, but the smaller one has won my heart for pure cuteness...