Thursday, September 20, 2012

Belated Birthday Post

So, I talked about Sam's birthday. And about Sarah's birthday.

But I neglected to talk about Amelia and Ana, both of whom have birthdays in September as well (Michelle and I are the odd ones out with summer birthdays).

Per usual, I made both of them a baked good of their choice.

For Amelia, brownies. I did a peanut butter swirl and a topping of pretzel sticks. Sweet and salty always make a good match. Plus I got the added benefit of having pretzels to snack on for a few weeks.

Ana requested apple pie--one of my all-time favorites. She wanted a crumb topping so I did a normal crust for the bottom and apple filling (both adapted from Betty Crocker). Then a crumb topping made with brown sugar, flour, maple syrup, oats, and butter.

I've been working on figuring out how our oven works. Hopefully bringing an oven thermometer up from home will help me keep from over-baking (one of the greatest baking sins in my opinion).

Happy Birthday Amelia and Ana!


Sunday, September 16, 2012

She's 21!

Of my six close friends at college, four of them have birthdays in September. You already heard about Sam's, and you'll be hearing about Amelia and Ana's soon.

Well, this weekend, Sarah turned 21! She is the first of the group to reach the legal drinking age (and is probably the least inclined to drink anything involving alcohol). Last night we went to Dave and Busters (she did quite well as you can tell from the picture) and at midnight she ordered her first ever alcoholic beverage!

She had a chocolate milkshake for an appetizer.

I told the waiter that she wanted something that tasted NOTHING like alcohol. He came through with a berry iced tea type thing.

She finished it!

As a big celebration of all the September birthdays, I made a big dinner Sunday night with a request from each birthday girl.

Sarah asked for lasagna.

One side was cheese-less for the lactose intolerant and one side was meat-less for the vegetarian.

The meat side had ground beef and sauteed mushrooms.

The veggie side had ricotta, mozzarella, and pecorino romano cheeses. Then it had finely chopped zucchini and summer squash sauteed with garlic.


Sam requested fried artichoke hearts. I sorta followed a recipe but also just kinda used my gut on this one. I think it worked out! I'm just happy they didn't fall apart.

My dredging station for the artichoke hearts
For a dipping sauce, I made an aioli: mayo, lemon juice, lemon zest, minced garlic, paprika, salt, and pepper. It was a hit!

Yay frying!
Ana asked for broccoli. I did my favorite version: roasted with lemon zest and pecorino romano cheese and finished with a squeeze of lemon juice.

The table of goodies
And Amelia asked for a simple salad: mixed greens with carrots, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, and a lemon-y--balsamic vinaigrette.

And finally, there was obviously dessert: Hot Fudge Pudding Cake.


Happy Birthday everyone!


Monday, September 10, 2012

Happy Birthday Sam!

Sam knows how to celebrate in style.

Other than drooling over Justin Bieber and Yoga Cats, Sam always gains 5 pounds on her birthday every year.

And that was her goal for this year as well. I was more than willing to help.

For her 20th birthday, I made Sam Lemon Meringue Pie. I've never made one before, and I was really happy with the way it turned out.

One of the best parts of making pie was the opportunity to use my brand new food processor, recently dubbed Freddy by me and Sam. Our family friend (whom I refer to as "Fungirl" only) gave it to me for my birthday. Such a wonderful gift.

Lily was also excited to greet the new addition--she hung out with him in the cabinet for a while.

The pie shell was delicious (raw and cooked!) and simple with my new processor. Then it was a bunch of whisking and whipping. And we have lemon meringue pie!

Even the topping looked decent despite my lack of decorating skills.

I think Sam approved as well.

And I had extra pie dough, so I made mini tarts filled with peanut butter and chocolate. Yay calories!

So that was my first act in helping Sam pack on the pounds. I actually made the pie yesterday though. For her actual day of celebration I stepped it up.

French toast with maple syrup and powdered sugar for breakfast. I whisked an egg, about 3/4 cup of milk, a dash of salt, 2 tablespoons of sugar, and a dash of vanilla together for the batter.

Sam ate this portion and then another. 6 whole pieces finished!

She ate more pie for lunch (with added reeses cups and sugar cookie dough to accompany as side dishes).

For dinner, we had farfalle pasta with artichoke hearts and a buttery sauce. Recipe at the end of the post.

She ate it while drinking an entire bottle of sparkling cider. Glass and cider courtesy of our friend Sarah. (I think the enormity of the glass is some kind of Cougar Town reference).

She's still working on this part currently. Just kidding. Just realized she's eating more pie.

Happy Birthday Sam!

Farfalle with Artichokes and a Garlic-Butter Sauce

-1 lb pasta (whatever kind you like is fine)
-4 tbsp butter
-4 tbsp olive oil
-3 large garlic cloves, minced
-2 cups marinated artichoke hearts, diced
-1 tsp red pepper flakes
-2 tbsp lemon juice
-salt and pepper to taste

1. Heat the butter and olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat.
2. Add the artichoke hearts and garlic and let cook for 7-8 minutes. Add red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper.
3. Cook the pasta for one or two minutes less than the box suggests--it will finish cooking in the pan.
4. Drain the pasta but reserve 1/2 c of the cooking liquid.
5. Add the pasta to the saute pan with the artichoke and garlic.
6. Stir in the reserved pasta water and lemon juice.
7. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve hot.
8. Enjoy!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Summer Bucket List Conclusion

Even though summer hasn't officially ended according to the calendar, I'm going to announce it's closure seeing as I'm already attending classes. I know. Ew.

Anyways, that means that it's time to see how I did with my Summer Bucket List (Sam will be writing her conclusion soon as well).

Let's look at the original list from June 11th.

"1. Ride ponies.
2. Find a way to remove the potato grime from the crevices of my hands (I don't think my appendages will ever recover from the amount of potatoes I cut/peel/grate/mash on a daily basis)
3. Watch Aaron Sorkin's new show, The Newsroom (so pumped)
4. Catch up on Mad Men (I'm at the beginning of season 3)
5. Find a reason to wear something other than chef's pants and a plain t-shirt covered in buttercream, potato skins, and chicken broth
6. Cook dinner for my family at least once a week, preferably twice (I think they were expecting me to cook everyday before I got a job... oops)
7. Make thisthis, and lots of cornbread
8. Get on a plane to visit Simmie of Simmiecakes in Florida and go to Harry Potter World at Universal (yeah, the chances of this are pretty slim)
9. Try to find a way to use my sourdough starter once every week (I've been doing pretty well with this!)
10. Make Sam come visit me :)"

How did I do? Let's start from the beginning.

I did, in fact, ride ponies. Especially this little guy, Covington.

My absolute favorite, Susie.

And, of course, Romi pony.

I did eventually get the potato grime out of my hands. It was always replaced days later, but I did have a few days of spud-free digits.

I did watch Newsroom. Not as fabulous as I had hoped (though the opening credits are up to par), but I'm gonna stick with it.

Well, I'm now at the beginning of season 4 of Mad Men. Is fewer than 12 episodes really an accomplishment? Eh. I can get half credit for that one.

There were probably a total of six times that I wore something other than my work outfit or pajamas. Good times.

Look at me rocking that t-shirt and chef's pants.

Definitely didn't cook dinner every week. Another half-credit goal.

I made the scallion pancakes (AMAZING. And easy!), not the blueberry bread. But I made cornbread!

I even made Sourdough Cornbread! Killing two goals with one baking adventure!
I didn't go to visit Simmie. :(

I did really well with my sourdough goal! I would say I only missed a week or two!

Sourdough Pizza Dough! (My family loves it grilled into flatbread)
Sourdough Ciabatta
Sourdough Biscuits
And, as you know, Sam did come to visit in mid-August. It was awesome.

I think I actually did quite well considering that I worked an average of 50 hours a week and only had off on Mondays and Tuesdays. About 7 out of 10 goals reaches (counting the half-credits).

I'm sad summer is over. I'm ready for Christmas.


Saturday, September 1, 2012

September 1st, Hooray!

Another first of the month.

Oh my goodness.

Sam still loves her Yoga Cats.

And I still love Tyler Florence.

Happy September!